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Title: Shakspeare and His Times [Vol. II. of II.] - Including the Biography of the Poet; criticisms on his - genius and writings; a new chronology of his plays; a - disquisition on the on the object of his sonnets; and a - history of the manners, customs, and amusements, - superstitions, poetry, and elegant literature of his age
Author: Drake, Nathan
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Shakspeare and His Times [Vol. II. of II.] - Including the Biography of the Poet; criticisms on his - genius and writings; a new chronology of his plays; a - disquisition on the on the object of his sonnets; and a - history of the manners, customs, and amusements, - superstitions, poetry, and elegant literature of his age" ***

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Transcriber's Notes: Words in italics in the original are surrounded
with _underscores_. Characters superscripted in the original are
surrounded by {braces}. Ellipses match the original. In footnotes and
attributions, commas and periods seem to be used interchangeably. They
remain as printed. Variations in spelling, hyphenation, and accents
remain as in the original unless noted. A complete list of corrections
as well as other notes follows the text.



                              HIS TIMES:

                      THE BIOGRAPHY OF THE POET;
                             A HISTORY OF

                         BY NATHAN DRAKE, M.D.

    —— On the tip of his subduing tongue
    All kind of arguments and question deep,
    All replication prompt, and reason strong,
    For his advantage still did wake and sleep:
    To make the weeper laugh, the laugher weep,
    He had the dialect and different skill,
    Catching all passions in his craft of will;
    That he did in the general bosom reign
    Of young, of old; and sexes both enchanted.

    The very age and body of the time, his form and pressure.

                           _IN TWO VOLUMES._

                               VOL. II.


                        Printed by A. Strahan,
                       Printers-Street, London.




  PART II. _continued_.


  CHAP. V.

    Dedications of Shakspeare's VENUS AND ADONIS, and RAPE OF
      LUCRECE, to the Earl of Southampton — Biographical Sketch
      of the Earl — Critique on the Poems of Shakspeare.
                                                         _Page_ 1


    On the Dress and Modes of Living, and the Manners and Customs
      of the Inhabitants of the Metropolis, during the Age of
      Shakspeare.                                              87


    On the Diversions of the Metropolis, and the Court — The
      _Stage_; its Usages and Economy.                        168


    A Brief View of Dramatic Poetry, from the Birth of Shakspeare
      to the Period of his Commencement as a Writer for the
      Stage, about the Year 1590; with Critical Notices of the
      Dramatic Poets who flourished during that Interval.     227


    Period of Shakspeare's Commencement as a Dramatic Poet —
      Chronological Arrangement of his genuine Plays —
      Observations on PERICLES; on the COMEDY OF ERRORS; on
      MIDSUMMER-NIGHT'S DREAM — Dissertation on the FAIRY
      MYTHOLOGY, and on the Modifications which it received from
      the Genius of Shakspeare.                               256

  CHAP. X.

    Observations on ROMEO AND JULIET; on the TAMING OF THE SHREW;
      — Dissertation on the AGENCY of SPIRITS and APPARITIONS,
      and on the GHOST in HAMLET.                             356


    Observations on KING JOHN; on ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL; on
      — Dissertation on the POPULAR BELIEF in WITCHCRAFT during
      the Age of Shakspeare, and on his Management of this
      Superstition in the Tragedy of MACBETH.                 419


    Observations on JULIUS CÆSAR; on ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA; on
      Dissertation on the GENERAL BELIEF of the Times in the ART
      OF MAGIC, and on Shakspeare's Management of this
      Superstition as exhibited in THE TEMPEST — Observations on


    A Brief View of Dramatic Poetry, and its Cultivators, during
      Shakspeare's Connection with the Stage.                 556


    The Biography of Shakspeare continued to the Close of his
      Residence in London.                                    581



  CHAP. I.

    Anecdotes relative to Shakspeare during his Retirement at
      Stratford.                                              603


    The Death of Shakspeare — Observations on his Will — On the
      Disposition and Moral Character of Shakspeare — On the
      Monument erected to his Memory, and on the Engraving of him
      prefixed to the first Folio Edition of his Plays —
      Conclusion.                                             611

  APPENDIX.                                                   625






Shakspeare's dedication of his _Venus and Adonis_ to the Earl of
Southampton, in 1593; the accomplishments, the liberality, and the
virtues of this amiable nobleman, and the substantial patronage which,
according to tradition, he bestowed upon our poet, together claim for
him, in this place, a more than cursory notice as to life and character.

_Thomas Wriothesly_, Earl of Southampton, and Baron of Titchfield, was
born on the sixth of October, 1573. His grandfather had been created
an Earl in the reign of Henry the Eighth; and his father, who married
Mary, the daughter of Anthony, first Viscount of Montague, was a
strenuous supporter of the rights of Mary Queen of Scots. Just previous
to the completion of his eighth year, he suffered an irreparable loss
by the death of his father, on the 4th of October, 1581. His mother,
however, appears to have been by no means negligent of his education;
for he was early sent to Cambridge, being matriculated there when
only twelve years old, on the 11th of December, 1585. He was admitted
of St. John's College, where, on the 6th of June, 1589, he took his
degree of Master of Arts, and, after a residence of nearly five years
in the University, he finally left it for Town, to complete his course
of studies at Gray's Inn, of which place, in June, 1590, he had entered
himself a member.

The circumstances which, so shortly after Lord Southampton's arrival in
London, induced Shakspeare to select him as his patron, may, with an
assurance almost amounting to certainty, be ascribed to the following
event. Not long after the death of her husband, Lady Southampton
married Sir Thomas Heneage, treasurer of the chamber, an office which
necessarily led him into connection with actors and dramatic writers.
Of this intercourse Lord Southampton, at the age of seventeen, was
very willing to avail himself, and his subsequent history evinces,
that, throughout life, he retained a passionate attachment to dramatic
exhibitions. No stronger proof, indeed, can be given of his love for
the theatre, than what an anecdote related by Rowland Whyte affords
us, who, in a letter to Sir Robert Sydney, dated October 11th, 1599,
tells his correspondent, that "my Lord Southampton and Lord Rutland
come not to the Court (at Nonesuch). The one doth but very seldome.
They pass away the tyme in London _merely in going to plaies EVERY

To a young nobleman thus inclined, imbued with a keen relish for
dramatic poetry, who was ardent in his thirst for fame, and liberal in
the encouragement of genius, it was natural for our poet to look not
only with hope and expectation, but with enthusiastic regard. To Lord
Southampton, therefore, though only nineteen years old, Shakspeare,
in his twenty-ninth year[2:B], dedicated his _Venus and Adonis_, "the
first heire of _his_ invention."

The language of this dedication, however, indicates some degree of
apprehension as to the nature of its reception, and consequently proves
that our author was not at this period assured of His Lordship's
support; for it commences thus:—"Right Honorable, I know not how I
shall _offend_ in dedicating my unpolisht lines to your Lordship;" and
he adds in the opening of the next clause, "onely if your Honor _seeme
but pleased_, I account myselfe highly praised." These timidities
appear to have vanished in a very short period: for our author's
dedication to the same nobleman of his _Rape of Lucrece_, which was
entered on the Stationers' Books on May 9th, 1594, and published almost
immediately afterwards, speaks a very different language, and indicates
very plainly that Shakspeare had already experienced the beneficial
effects of His Lordship's patronage. Gratitude and confidence, indeed,
cannot express themselves in clearer terms than may be found in the
diction of this address:—"The _love_ I dedicate to Your Lordship,"
says the bard, "_is without end_.—The _warrant_ I have of _your
Honourable disposition_, not the worth of my untutored lines, makes
it _assured of acceptance_. What I have done is yours, what I have
to doe is yours, being part _in all I have devoted yours_. Were my
worth greater, my duety would shew greater; meane time, as it is, _it
is bound to your Lordship_." Words more declaratory of obligation it
would not be easy to select, and we shall be justified, therefore, in
inferring, that Lord Southampton had conferred upon Shakspeare, in
consequence of his dedication to him of _Venus and Adonis_, some marked
proof of his kindness and protection.

Tradition has recorded, among other instances of this nobleman's
pecuniary bounty, that he, at one time, gave Shakspeare a thousand
pounds, in order to complete a purchase, a sum which in these
days would be equal in value to more than five times its original
amount.[3:A] This may be, and probably is, an exaggeration; but that
it has been founded on the _well-known_ liberality of Lord Southampton
to Shakspeare; on a certain knowledge that donations had passed from
the peer to the poet, there can be little doubt. It had become the
custom of the age to reward dedication by pecuniary bounty, and that
Lord Southampton was diffusively and peculiarly generous in this
mode of remuneration, we have the express testimony of Florio, who,
dedicating his _World of Words_ to this nobleman in 1598, says:—"In
truth, I acknowledge an entire debt, not only of my best knowledge, but
of all; yea of more than I know, or can to your bounteous lordship,
_in whose pay and patronage I have lived some years_; to whom I owe
and vowe the years I have to live. But, as to me, _and many more_, the
glorious and gracious sunshine of your honour hath infused light and
life." Here, if we except the direct confession relative to "_pay_,"
the language is similar to, and not more emphatically expressive of
gratitude than was Shakspeare's; and that, under the phrase "_many
more_," Florio meant to include our poet, we may, without scruple,
infer. To an actor, to a rising dramatic writer, to one who had placed
the first fruits of his genius under his protection, and who was still
contending with the difficulties incident to his situation, the taste,
the generosity, and the feeling of Lord Southampton, would naturally
be attracted; and the donation which, in all probability, followed
the dedication of _Venus and Adonis_, we have reason, from the voice
of tradition, to conclude, was succeeded by many, and still more
important, proofs of His Lordship's favour.

The patronage of literature, however, was not the only inclination
which, at this early period of life, His Lordship cultivated with
enthusiasm; the year subsequent to his receival of Shakspeare's
dedication of _The Rape of Lucrece_, saw him entangled in all the
perplexities of love, and the devoted slave _of the faire Mrs.
Varnon_. Of this attachment, which was thwarted by the caprice of
Elizabeth, Rowland Whyte, in a letter to Sir Henry Sydney, dated
September 23rd, 1595, writes in the following terms:—"My Lord
Southampton doth with too much familiarity court the faire Mrs. Varnon,
while his friends, observing the Queen's humours towards my Lord of
Essex, do what they can to bring her to favour him; but it is yet in
vain."[5:A] This young lady, Elizabeth Vernon, was the cousin of the
celebrated Earl of Essex, between whom and Southampton differences
had arisen, which this passion for his fair relative dissipated for

Yet the fascinations of love could not long restrain the ardent spirit
of Lord Southampton. In 1597, when Lord Essex was appointed General
of the forces destined to act against the Azores, Southampton, at the
age of twenty-four, gallantly came forward as a volunteer, on board
the Garland, one of Her Majesty's best ships,—an offer which was soon
followed by a commission from Essex to command her. An opportunity
speedily occurred for the display of his courage; in an engagement
with the Spanish fleet, he pursued and sunk one of the enemy's largest
men of war, and was wounded in the arm, during the conflict.[5:C]
Sir William Monson, one of the Admirals of the expedition, tells us,
that the Earl lost time in this chase, which might have been better
employed[5:D]; but his friend Essex appears to have considered his
conduct in a different light, and conferred upon him, during his
voyage, the honour of knighthood.

On his return to England, in October, 1597, he had the misfortune to
find that the Queen had embraced the opinion of Monson, rather than
that of Essex, and frowned with displeasure on the officer who had
presumed to pursue and sink a Spanish vessel, without orders from his
commander; a censure which was intended also to reach the General, with
whom she was justly offended for having assumed the direction of a
service to which his judgment and his talents were inadequate.

Nor was the immediately subsequent conduct of Southampton in the
least degree calculated to appease the anger of Elizabeth; he renewed
his proposals of marriage, and again without consulting her wishes;
he quarrelled with, and challenged the Earl of Northumberland, and
compelled her to issue a mandate in order to prevent their meeting;
and one evening, being engaged at play, in the presence-chamber, with
Raleigh and some other courtiers, they protracted their amusement
beyond the hour of the Queen's retirement to rest; and being warned
by Willoughby, the officer in waiting, to depart, Raleigh obeyed, but
Southampton, indignant and easily irritated, refused compliance, and,
warm language ensuing, he struck Willoughby, who was not backward in
returning the blow. When the Queen, the next morning, was apprised of
this disgraceful scuffle, she applauded Willoughby for his spirited
conduct, adding, that "he had better have sent Southampton to the
porter's lodge, to see who durst have fetched him out."[6:A]

This heedless and intemperate ebullition of passion, the result of
youth and inexperience, was atoned for by many sterling virtues of
the head and heart; and the career of dissipation was fortunately
interrupted by His Lordship's attention to his duty as a senator in the
first place, and, secondly, by an engagement to accompany Mr. Secretary
Cecil on an embassy to Paris. His introduction to parliamentary
business began on the 24th of October, 1597, and terminated, with the
session, on the 8th of February 1598; and two days afterwards, he left
London to commence his tour.

Previous to his quitting the capital, he, and his friends, Cobham and
Raleigh, thought it necessary to entertain his future fellow-traveller;
and, on this occasion, Southampton had recourse to his favourite
amusement, the drama; for it is recorded that they "severally
feasted Mr. Secretary, before his departure; and had _plaies_, and
banquets."[7:A] The bare mention of this excursion, however, had
afforded extreme grief to the fair object of his affections, who
"passed her time in weeping[7:B];" and, in order to obviate the
apprehended consequences of his absence, and consequently her sorrow,
it had been secretly proposed that Lord Southampton should marry his
mistress before his departure.[7:C] Circumstances having prevented the
accomplishment of this plan, we are not surprised to learn that when
His Lordship departed, on the 10th of February 1598, he left "behind
him a most desolate gentlewoman, that almost wept out her fairest

The travellers reached Paris on the 1st of March 1598, and on the
17th of the same month, Cecil introduced his friend, at Angers, to
that illustrious monarch Henry the Fourth, telling His Majesty, that
Lord Southampton "was come with deliberation to do him service."
Henry received the Earl most graciously, and embraced him with many
expressions of regard; and, had not the peace of Vervins intervened,
His Lordship would have ardently seized the opportunity of serving the
ensuing campaign under a general of such unrivalled reputation.

In the course of November 1598, there is reason to suppose that this
enterprising nobleman returned to London[7:E]; soon after which event,
his union with Elizabeth Vernon took place. His bride was the daughter
of John Vernon of Hodnet, in the county of Salop, and she appears to
have possessed a large share of personal charms. A portrait of her was
drawn by Cornelius Jansen, which is said to have "the face and hands
coloured with incomparable lustre."[8:A] The unjustifiable resentment
of the Queen, however, rendered this connection, for a time, a source
of much misery to both parties. Her capricious tyranny was such,
as to induce her to feel offended, if any of her courtiers had the
audacity to love or marry without her knowledge or permission; and the
result of what she termed His Lordship's clandestine marriage, was the
instant dismissal of himself and his lady to a prison. How long their
confinement was protracted, cannot now be accurately ascertained;
that it was long in the opinion of the Earl of Essex, appears from
an address of his to the Lords of Council, in which he puts the
following interrogation:—"Was it treason in my Lord of Southampton
to marry my poor kinswoman, that neither _long_ imprisonment, nor any
punishment besides, that hath been usual, in like cases, can satisfy,
or appease[8:B]?" But we do know that it could not have existed
beyond March, 1599; for on the 27th of that month, Lord Southampton
accompanied his friend Essex to Ireland, where, immediately on his
arrival, he was appointed by the Earl, now Lord Deputy of that country,
his general of the horse.

This military promotion of Southampton is one among numerous proofs
of the imprudence of Essex, for it was not only without the Queen's
knowledge, but, as Camden has informed us, "clean contrary to his
instructions."[8:C] What was naturally to be expected, therefore, soon
occurred; Lord Southampton was, by the Queen's orders, deprived of his
commission, in the August following, and on the 20th of September,
1599, he revisited London, where, apprehensive of the displeasure of
Her Majesty, he absented himself from court, and endeavoured to soothe
his inquietude by the attractions of the theatre, to which his ardent
admiration of the genius of Shakspeare now daily induced him to recur.

The resentment of the Queen, however, though not altogether appeased,
soon began to subside; and in December 1599, when Lord Mountjoy was
commissioned to supersede Essex in the Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland,
Lord Southampton was one of the officers selected by Her Majesty to
attend him. Farther than this she refused to condescend; for, though
His Lordship solicited for some weeks the honour of kissing her hand,
and was supported in this request by the influence of Cecil, he
solicited in vain, and was at length compelled to rest satisfied with
the expression of her wishes for the safety of his journey.

One unpleasant consequence of his former transient campaign in Ireland,
had been a quarrel with the Lord Grey, who acting under him as a
colonel of horse had, from the impetuosity of youthful valour, attacked
the rebel force without orders; a contempt of subordination which had
been punished by his superior with a night's imprisonment.[9:A] The
fiery spirit of Grey could not brook even this requisite attention to
discipline, and he sent Southampton a challenge, which the latter,
on his departure for Ireland, in April 1600, accepted, by declaring,
that he would meet Lord Grey in any part of that country. The Queen,
however, for the present arrested the combat; but the animosity was
imbittered by delay, and Lord Southampton felt it necessary to his
character to break off his military engagements, which had conferred
upon him the reputation of great bravery and professional skill, and
had received the marked approval of the Lord Deputy, to satiate the
resentment of Grey, who had again called him to a meeting, and fixed
its scene in the Low Countries.

Of this interview we know nothing more than that it proved so
completely abortive, that, shortly afterwards, Lord Grey attacked
Southampton as he rode through the streets of London, an outrage
which affords but a melancholy trait of the manners of the age, though
punished on the spot by the immediate committal of the perpetrator to

It had been happy, however, for the fame and repose of Southampton,
had this been the only unfortunate contest in which he engaged; but
he was recalled by Essex from the Low Countries, in order to assist
him in his insurrectionary movements against the person and government
of his sovereign. Blinded by the attachments of friendship, which he
cultivated with enthusiastic warmth, and indignant at the treatment
which he had lately received from the Queen, he too readily listened
to the treasonable suggestions of Essex, and became one of the
conspirators who assembled at the house of this nobleman on the 8th
of February 1601. Here they took the decisive step of imprisoning the
Queen's privy counsellors who had been sent to enquire into the purport
of their meeting, and from this mansion they sallied forth, with the
view of exciting the citizens to rebellion. An enterprise so criminal,
so rash, and chimerical, immediately met the fate which it merited;
and the trial of Essex and Southampton for high treason took place on
the 19th of February, when, both being found guilty, the former, as is
well known, expiated his offence by death, while the latter, from the
minor culpability of his views, from the modesty and contrition which
he exhibited in his defence, and from the intercession of Cecil and the
peers, obtained a remission of the sentence affecting his life, but was
condemned to imprisonment in the Tower.

We have more than once mentioned the great partiality of Lord
Southampton to dramatic literature, and it is somewhat remarkable
that this partiality should have been rendered subservient to the
machinations of treason; for Bacon tells us, that "the afternoon before
the rebellion, Merick, (afterwards the defender of Essex-house,) with
a great company of others, that afterwards were all in the action, had
procured to be played before them the play of deposing _King Richard
the Second_;—when it was told him by one of the players that the play
was _old_, and they should have loss in playing it, because few would
come to it, there were forty shillings extraordinary given to play
it, and so thereupon played it was."[11:A] It appears from the State
Trials, vol. vii. p. 60., that the player to whom the forty shillings
were given, was Augustine Philippes, one of the patentees of the Globe
playhouse with Shakspeare, in 1603.

The term _old_ applied to this play, which, according to the report of
the Queen, "was played forty times in open streets and houses[11:B],"
has induced Dr. Farmer and Mr. Tyrwhitt to conclude that a play
entitled _Richard the Second_, or _Henry the Fourth_, existed before
Shakspeare's dramas on these subjects. This position, however, is
dissented from by Mr. Chalmers, who says,—"In opposition to Farmer and
Tyrwhitt, I hold, though I have a great respect for their memories,
that it was illogical to argue, from a nonentity, against an entity;
that as no such play as the Henry IV. which they spoke of had ever
appeared, while Shakspeare's Richard II. was apparent to every eye,
it was inconsequential reasoning in them to prefer the first play to
the last: and I am, therefore, of opinion, that _the play of deposing
Richard_ II. which was seditiously played on the 7th of February
1600-1, was Shakspeare's Richard II., that had been originally acted in
1596, and first printed in 1597."[11:C]

This opinion of Mr. Chalmers will be much strengthened when we
reflect that Lord Southampton's well-known attachment to the muse
of Shakspeare, would almost certainly induce him to prefer the play
written by his favourite poet to the composition of an obscure, and,
without doubt, a very inferior writer.

The death of Elizabeth terminated the confinement and the sufferings of
Lord Southampton. No sooner had James acceded to the throne, than he
sent an order for his release from the Tower, which took place on the
10th of April, 1603, and accompanied it with a request that he would
meet him on his way to England. This might be considered as a certain
presage of future favours, and was, indeed, speedily followed, not only
by the reversal of his attainder, and the restoration of his property,
but by an accumulation of honours. He was immediately appointed master
of the game to the Queen; a pension of six hundred pounds per annum
was allotted to his lady; in July, 1603, he was installed a knight of
the garter, and created captain of Isle of Wight and of Carisbrooke
Castle, and in the following Spring he was constituted Lord Lieutenant
of Hampshire, and was chosen by the King as his companion in a journey
to Royston.

This flow of good fortune was, however, transiently impeded by the
jealousy of James, who, stimulated by the machinations of some of his
courtiers, envious of the returning prosperity of the Earl[12:A],
was led to suspect that an improper intimacy had taken place between
Southampton and his Queen; a charge of disaffection to His Majesty
was, therefore, brought against His Lordship, and he was apprehended
towards the close of June, 1604; but not the smallest proof of his
disloyalty having been substantiated, he was immediately released, and
as immediately retaken into favour.

Of his perfect reinstatement, indeed, in the affections of James we
possess a decided proof. Rowland Whyte, writing to Lord Shrewsbury, on
the 4th of March, 1604, says,—"My La. Southampton was brought to bed
of a young Lord upon St. David's Day (March 1st) in the morning; a St.
to be much honored by that howse for so great a blessing, by wearing
a leeke for ever upon that day."[12:B] Now this child was christened
at court on the 27th of the same month, "the King, and Lord Cranburn,
with the Countess of Suffolk, being gossips[13:A];" an honour which
was followed, in June, 1606, by a more substantial mark of regard, the
appointment of His Lordship to be Warden of the New Forest, and Keeper
of the Park of Lindhurst.

In November, 1607, Lord Southampton lost his mother, who had been wife
successively to Henry Wriothesly Earl of Southampton, to Sir Thomas
Heneage, and to Sir William Hervey. We are told by Lord Arundel that
she "lefte the _best of her stuffe to her sonne_, and the greatest
part to her husband[13:B]"; this bequest, however, could not have
been very ample, for it did not obviate the necessity of her son's
applying, shortly afterwards, to trade and colonisation with the view
of increasing his property. In 1609, he was constituted a member of
the first Virginia Company, took a most active part in their concerns,
and was the chief promoter of the different voyages to America, which
were undertaken as well for the purposes of discovery as for private

The warmth of temper which distinguished Lord Southampton in early
life, seems not to have been adequately repressed by time and
experience; he was ever prone to resentment, though not difficult to
conciliate, and, unhappily, the manners of the age were not such as
to impose due restraint on the tumultuary passions. A quarrel with
Lord Montgomery, on a trifling occasion, which occurred in April,
1610, is but too striking an illustration of these remarks; "they fell
out at tennis," relates Winwood, "where the rackets flew about their
ears, but the matter was compounded by the King, _without further
bloodshed_[13:C];" a passage, the close of which proves that they had
fought and wounded each other with the instruments of their amusement!

We speedily recognise Lord Southampton, however, acting in a manner
more suitable to his station and character; on the 4th of June, 1610,
he officiated as carver at the magnificent festival which was given
in honour of young Henry's assumption of the title of Prince of Wales;
and in July, 1613, we find His Lordship entertaining the King at his
house in the New Forest, whither he had returned from an expedition to
the continent, expressly for this purpose, and under the expectation of
receiving a royal visit. After discharging this duty to his sovereign,
he again left his native country, and was present, in the following
year, with Lord Herbert of Cherbury, at the siege of Rees, in the
dutchy of Cleve.

It was at this period that his reputation as a patron of literature,
attained its highest celebrity, and it is greatly to be desired that
tradition had enabled us to dwell more minutely on his intercourse
with the learned. His bounty to, and encouragement of, Shakspeare have
conferred immortality on his name; to Florio, we have seen, he extended
a durable and efficient support; Brathwayt, in his dedication of his
"Scholar's Medley," 1614, calls him "learnings best favourite;" and
in 1617, he contributed very liberally to relieve the distresses of
Minsheu, the author of "The Guide to Tongues." Doubtless, had we more
ample materials for his life, these had not been the only instances of
his munificence to literary talent.

Still further promotion awaited this accomplished nobleman. When James
visited Scotland, in 1617, he accompanied his sovereign, and rendered
himself so acceptable by his courtesy and care, that, on the 19th
of April, 1619, he was rewarded by the confidential situation of a
privy-counsellor, an honour which he had long anxiously held in view.

This completion of his wishes, however, was not attended with the
result which he had so sanguinely expected. He found himself unable,
from principle, to join in the measures of the court, and the
opposition which he now commenced against the King and his ministers,
had, in a mind so ardent, a natural tendency to excess. In 1620, and
the two following years, he was chosen, contrary to the wishes of
government, treasurer of the Virginia Company, an office of great
weight and responsibility, but to which his zeal and activity in
forwarding the views of that corporation gave him a just claim. Such,
indeed, was the sense which the company entertained of his merits, that
his name was annexed to several important parts of Virginia; as, for
instance, Southampton-hundred, Hampton-roads, &c.

Whilst he opposed the court merely in its commercial arrangements, no
personal inconvenience attended his exertions; but when, in the session
of parliament which took place towards the commencement of the year
1621, he deemed it necessary to withstand the unconstitutional views of
ministers, he immediately felt the arm of power. He had introduced with
success a motion against illegal patents; and during the sitting of the
14th of March, so sharp an altercation occurred between himself and the
Marquis of Buckingham, that the interference of the Prince of Wales was
necessary to appease the anger of the disputants.

This stormy discussion, and His Lordship's junction with the popular
party, occasioned so much suspicion on the part of government, that on
the 16th of June, twelve days after the prorogation of parliament, he
was committed to the custody of the Dean of Westminster; nor was it
until the 18th of the subsequent July, that he was permitted to return
to his house at Titchfield, under a partial restraint, nor until the
first of September, that he was entirely liberated.

Unawed, however, by this unmerited persecution, and supported by
a numerous and respectable party, justly offended at the King's
pusillanimity in tamely witnessing his son-in-law's deprivation of the
Palatinate, he came forward, with augmented activity, in the parliament
of 1624, which opened on the 9th of February. Here he sat on several
committees; and when James, on the 5th of the June following, found
himself compelled to relinquish his pacific system, and to enter into a
treaty with the States-General, granting them permission to raise four
regiments in this country, he, unfortunately for himself and his son,
procured the colonelcy of one of them.[15:A]

Being under the necessity of taking up their winter-quarters at
Rosendale in Holland, the Earl, and his eldest son Lord Wriothesly,
were seized with a burning fever; "the violence of which distemper,"
says Wilson, "wrought most vigorously upon the heat of youth,
overcoming the son first, and the drooping father, having overcome the
fever, departed from Rosendale with an intention to bring his sons body
to England; but at Bergen-op-zoom he died of a lethargy in the view
and presence of the _Relator_, and were both in one small bark brought
to Southampton."[16:A] The son expired on the 5th of November, and his
parent on the tenth, and they were both buried in the sepulchre of
their fathers at Titchfield, on Innocents' day, 1624.

Thus perished, in the fifty-second year of his age, Henry Earl of
Southampton, leaving a widow, and three daughters, who, from a letter
preserved in the Cabala, appear to have been in confined circumstances;
this epistle is from the Lord Keeper Williams to the Duke of
Buckingham, dated Nov. 7th, 1624, and requesting of that nobleman "his
grace and goodness towards the most distressed widow and children of my
Lord Southampton."[16:B]

If we except a constitutional warmth and irritability of temper, and
their too common result, an occasional error of judgment, there did not
exist, throughout the reigns of Elizabeth and James, a character more
truly amiable, great, and good than was that of Lord Southampton. To
have secured, indeed, the reverence and affection of Shakspeare, was
of itself a sufficient passport to the purest fame; but the love and
admiration which attended him was general. As a soldier, he was brave,
open, and magnanimous; as a statesman remarkable for integrity and
independence of mind, and perhaps no individual of his age was a more
enthusiastic lover, or a more munificent patron, of arts and literature.

The virtues of his private life, as well as these features of his
public character, rest upon the authority of those who best knew
him. To the "noble" and "honourable disposition," ascribed to him by
Shakspeare, who affectionately declares, that he loves him "without
end," we can add the respectable testimony of Chapman, Sir John
Beaumont, and Wither, all intimately acquainted with him, and the
second his particular friend.

Chapman, in one of his dedicatory sonnets, prefixed to his version of
the Iliad, not only applies to him the epithet "learned," but declares
him to be the "choice of all our country's noblest spirits[17:A];" and
Beaumont, in an Elegy on his death, tells us that his ambition was to

    "A picture fit for this my noble friend,
     That his dear name may not in silence die."

In a beautiful strain of enthusiasm, he informs us, that his verses are
calculated for posterity, and

    ——————————— "not for the present age;
    For what man lives, or breathes on England's stage,
    That knew not brave Southampton, in whose sight
    Most plac'd their day, and in his absence night?"

He then proceeds to sketch his character at the different periods of
his life:—

    "When he was young, no ornament of youth
     Was wanting in him;"

and, in manhood, he shone

    "As best in martial deedes and courtly sports;"

until riper age, and the cares of the world, having begun to shade his
head with silver hairs,

    "His valiant fervour was not then decaide,
     But joyn'd with counsell, as a further aide."

After this eulogium on the more ostensible features of his life, which
terminates with the assertion, that

    "No pow'r, no strong persuasion could him draw
     From that, which he conceiv'd as right and law,"

he presents a most pleasing delineation of his domestic conduct and

    "When shall we in this realme a father finde
     So truly sweet, or husband halfe so kinde?
     Thus he enjoyde the best contents of life,
     Obedient children, and a loving wife:
     These were his parts in peace:"

and concludes with celebrating his love of letters and of literary

    "I keepe that glory last, which is the best,
     The love of learning, which he oft exprest
     By conversation, and respect to those
     Who had a name in artes, in verse or prose."[19:A]

Wither seems to have been equally impressed with the estimable
character of Lord Southampton, and to have meditated a record of his
life and virtues; for, in an epigram addressed to him, with a copy of
his "Abuses Stript and Whipt," he exclaims,

    "I ought to be no stranger to thy worth,
     Nor let thy virtues in oblivion sleep:
     Nor will I, if my fortunes give me time."[19:B]

In short, to adopt the language of an enthusiastic admirer of our
dramatic bard, "Southampton died as he had lived, with a mind
untainted: embalmed with the tears of every friend to virtue, and to
splendid accomplishments: all who knew him, _wished to him long life,
still lengthened with all happiness_."[19:C]

That a nobleman so highly gifted, most amiable by his virtues, and most
respectable by his talents and his taste, should have been strongly
attached to Shakspeare, and this attachment returned by the poet with
equal fervour, cannot excite much surprise; indeed, that more than
pecuniary obligation was the tie that connected Shakspeare with his
patron, must appear from the tone of his dedications, especially from
that prefixed to the "Rape of Lucrece," which breathes an air of
affectionate friendship, and respectful familiarity.[20:A] We should
also recollect, that, according to tradition, the great pecuniary
obligation of Shakspeare to his patron, was much posterior to the
period of these dedications, being given for the purpose of enabling
the poet to make a purchase at his native town of Stratford, a short
time previous to his retirement thither.

It may, therefore, with safety be concluded, that admiration and esteem
were the chief motives which actuated Shakspeare in all the stages of
his intercourse with Lord Southampton, to whom, in 1593, we have found
he dedicated the "first heir of his invention."

Our reasons for believing that this poem was written in the interval
which occurred between the years 1587 and 1590, have been already given
in a former part of the work[20:B], and we shall here, therefore,
only transcribe the title page of the original edition, which, though
entered in the Stationers' books by Richard Field, on the 18th of
April, 1593, was supposed not to have been published before 1594, until
Mr. Malone had the good fortune to procure a copy from a provincial
catalogue, perhaps the only one remaining in existence[20:C]:—


    Vilia miretur Vulgus, mihi flavus Apollo,
    Pocula Castalia plena ministret aqua.

London. By Richard Field, and are to be solde at the Signe of the White
Greyhound, in Paules Church Yard. 1593."

This, the earliest offspring of our poet's prolific genius, consists
of one hundred and ninety-nine stanzas, each stanza including six
lines, of which the first four are in alternate rhime, and the fifth
and sixth form a couplet. Its length, indeed, is one of its principal
defects; for it has led, not only to a fatiguing circumlocution, in
point of language, but it has occasioned the poet frequently to expand
his imagery into a diffuseness which sometimes destroys its effect;
and often to indulge in a strain of reflection more remarkable for its
subtlety of conceit, than for its appropriation to the incidents before
him. Two other material objections must be noticed, as arising from the
conduct of the poem, which, in the first place, so far as it respects
the character of Adonis, is forced and unnatural; and, in the second,
has tempted the poet into the adoption of language so meretricious, as
entirely to vitiate the result of any moral purpose which he might have
had in view.

These deductions being premised, we do not hesitate to assert, that
the _Venus and Adonis_ contains many passages worthy of the genius of
Shakspeare; and that, as a whole, it is superior in poetic fervour
to any production of a similar kind by his contemporaries, anterior
to 1587. It will be necessary, however, where so much discrepancy of
opinion has existed, to substantiate the first of these assertions, by
the production of specimens which shall speak for themselves; and as
the conduct and moral of the piece have been given up as indefensible,
these must, consequently, be confined to a display of its poetic value;
of its occasional merit with regard to versification and imagery.

In the management of his stanza, Shakspeare has exhibited a more
general attention to accuracy of rhythm and harmony of cadence, than
was customary in his age; few metrical imperfections, indeed, are
discoverable either in this piece, or in any of his minor poems; but we
are not limited to this negative praise, being able to select from his
first effort instances of positive excellence in the structure of his

Of the light and airy elegance which occasionally characterises the
composition of his _Venus and Adonis_, the following will be accepted
as no inadequate proofs:—

    "Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear,
     Or, like a fairy, trip upon the green,
     Or, like a nymph, with long dishevel'd hair,
     Dance on the sands, and yet no footing seen.

           *       *       *       *       *

    "If love have lent you twenty thousand tongues,
     And every tongue more moving than your own,
     Bewitching like the wanton mermaid's songs,
     Yet from mine ear the tempting tune is blown."

To terminate each stanza with a couplet remarkable for its sweetness,
terseness, or strength, is a refinement almost peculiar to modern
times; yet Shakspeare has sometimes sought for, and obtained this
harmony of close: thus Venus, lamenting the beauty of Nature after the
death of Adonis, exclaims,

    "The flowers are sweet, their colours fresh and trim;
     But true-sweet beauty liv'd and dy'd with him;"

and again, when reproaching the apathy of her companion,—

    "O learn to love; the lesson is but plain,
     And, once made perfect, never lost again."

Nor are there wanting passages in which energy and force are very
skilfully combined with melody and rhythm; of the subsequent extracts,
which are truly excellent for their vigorous construction, the lines
in Italics present us with the point and cadence of the present
day. Venus, endeavouring to excite the affection of Adonis, who is

    ——————— "more lovely than a man,
    More white and red than doves or roses are,"

tells him,

    "I have been woo'd, as I entreat thee now,
     Even by the stern and direful god of war,
     Whose sinewy neck in battle ne'er did bow—
     Over my altars hath he hung his lance,
     His batter'd shield, his uncontrolled crest,
     And for my sake hath learn'd to sport and dance,
     _To coy, to wanton, dally, smile, and jest_:"

and, on finding her efforts fruitless, she bursts forth into the
following energetic reproach:—

    "Fie, lifeless picture, cold and senseless stone,
     Well-painted idol, image, dull and dead,
     Statue, contenting but the eye alone,
     _Thing like a man, but of no woman bred_."

The death of Adonis, however, banishes all vestige of resentment,
and, amid numerous exclamations of grief and anguish, gives birth
to prophetic intimations of the hapless fate of all succeeding

    "Since thou art dead, lo! here I prophesy,
     Sorrow on love hereafter shall attend;
     It shall be waited on with jealousy,
     _Find sweet beginning, but unsavoury end_;—

     It shall suspect, where is no cause of fear;
     It shall not fear, where it should most mistrust;
     It shall be merciful, and too severe,
     _And most deceiving when it seems most just_;—

     It shall be fickle, false, and full of fraud,
     And shall be blasted in a breathing-while;
     The bottom poison, and the top o'er-straw'd
     With sweets, that shall the sharpest sight beguile:
     The strongest body shall it make most weak,
     _Strike the wise dumb, and teach the fool to speak_."

These passages are not given with the view of impressing upon the mind
of the reader, that such is the constant strain of the versification of
the _Venus and Adonis_; but merely to show, that, while in narrative
poetry he equals his contemporaries in the general structure of his
verse, he has produced, even in his earliest attempt, instances of
beauty, melody, and force, in the mechanism of his stanzas, which have
no parallel in their pages. In making this assertion, it must not be
forgotten, that we date the composition of _Venus and Adonis_ anterior
to 1590, that the comparison solely applies to narrative poetry, and
consequently that all contest with Spenser is precluded.

It now remains to be proved, that the merits of this mythological story
are not solely founded on its occasional felicity of versification; but
that in description, in the power of delineating, with a master's hand,
the various objects of nature, it possesses more claims to notice than
have hitherto been allowed.

After the noble pictures of the horse which we find drawn in the book
of Job, and in Virgil, few attempts to sketch this spirited animal can
be expected to succeed; yet, among these few, impartial criticism may
demand a station for the lines below:—

    "Imperiously he leaps, he neighs, he bounds,
     And now his woven girts he breaks asunder,
     The bearing earth with his hard hoof he wounds,
     Whose hollow womb resounds like heaven's thunder.—

     His ears up prick'd; his braided hanging mane
     Upon his compass'd crest now stands on end;
     His nostrils drink the air, and forth again,
     As from a furnace, vapours doth he send:—

     Sometimes he trots, as if he told the steps,
     With gentle majesty, and modest pride:
     Anon he rears upright, curvets and leaps,
     As who should say, lo! thus my strength is try'd.—

     Look, when a painter would surpass the life,
     In limning out a well-porportion'd steed,
     His art's with Nature's workmanship at strife,
     As if the dead the living should exceed;
     So did this horse excell a common one,
     In shape, in courage, colour, pace, and bone.

     Round-hoof'd, short-jointed, fetlocks shag and long,
     Broad-breast, full eyes, small head, and nostril wide,
     High crest, short ears, straight legs, and passing strong,
     Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide."

Venus, apprehensive for the fate of Adonis, should he attempt to hunt
the boar, endeavours to dissuade him from his purpose, by drawing a
most formidable description of that savage inmate of the woods, and
by painting, on the other hand, the pleasures to be derived from the
pursuit of the hare. The danger necessarily incurred from attacking the
former, and the various efforts by which the latter tries to escape
her pursuers, are presented to us with great fidelity and warmth of

    "Thou had'st been gone, quoth she, sweet boy, ere this,
     But that thou told'st me, thou would'st hunt the boar,
     O be advis'd; thou know'st not what it is
     With javelin's point a churlish swine to gore,
       Whose tushes never-sheath'd he whetteth still,
       Like to a mortal butcher, bent to kill.

     On his bow back he hath a battle set
     Of bristly pikes, that ever threat his foes;
     His eyes, like glow-worms, shine when he doth fret;
     His snout digs sepulchres where-e'er he goes;
       Being mov'd, he strikes whate'er is in his way,
       And whom he strikes, his crooked tushes slay.

     His brawny sides, with hairy bristles armed,
     Are better proof than thy spear's point can enter;
     His short thick neck cannot be easily harmed;
     Being ireful, on the lion he will venture.—

     But if thou needs wilt hunt, be rul'd by me;
     Uncouple at the timorous flying hare,
     Or at the fox, which lives by subtlety,
     Or at the roe, which no encounter dare:
       Pursue these fearful creatures o'er the downs,
       And on thy well-breath'd horse keep with thy hounds.

     And when thou hast on foot the purblind hare,
     Mark the poor wretch to overshoot his troubles,
     How he out-runs the wind, and with what care
     He cranks and crosses, with a thousand doubles:—

     Sometime he runs among the flock of sheep,
     To make the cunning hounds mistake their smell;
     And sometime where earth-delving conies keep,
     To stop the loud pursuers in their yell;
       And sometime sorteth with a herd of deer;
       Danger deviseth shifts; wit waits on fear:

     For there his smell with others being mingled,
     The hot scent-snuffling hounds are driven to doubt,
     Ceasing their clamorous cry till they have singled
     With much ado the cold fault cleanly out;
       Then do they spend their mouths: Echo replies,
       As if another chase were in the skies.

     By this, poor Wat, far off upon a hill,
     Stands on his hinder legs with listening ear,
     To hearken if his foes pursue him still;
     Anon their loud alarums he doth hear;
       And now his grief may be compared well
       To one sore-sick, that hears the passing bell.

     Then shall thou see the dew-bedabbled wretch
     Turn, and return, indenting with the way;
     Each envious briar his weary legs doth scratch,
     Each shadow makes him stop, each murmur stay."

This poem abounds with similes, many of which include miniature
sketches of no small worth and beauty. A few of these shall be given,
and they will not fail to impart a favourable impression of the
fertility and resources of the rising bard. The fourth and fifth, which
we have distinguished by Italics, more especially deserve notice, the
former representing a minute piece of natural history, and the latter
describing in words adequate to their subject, one of the most terrible
convulsions of nature.

    ———————————— "as one on shore
    Gazing upon a late-embarked friend,
    Till the wild waves will have him seen no more,
    Whose ridges with the meeting clouds contend."

           *       *       *       *       *

    ——————— "as one that unaware
    Hath dropp'd a precious jewel in the flood."

           *       *       *       *       *

    "Or 'stonish'd as night-wanderers often are,
     Their light blown out in some mistrustful wood."

           *       *       *       *       *

    "_Or, as the snail, whose tender horns being hit,
     Shrinks backward in his shelly cave with pain._"

           *       *       *       *       *

    "_As when the wind, imprison'd in the ground,
     Struggling for passage, earth's foundation shakes._"

We shall close these extracts from the _Venus and Adonis_, with two
passages which form a striking contrast, and which prove that the
author possessed, at the commencement of his career, no small portion
of those powers which were afterwards to astonish the world; powers
alike unrivalled either in developing the terrible or the beautiful.

    "And therefore hath she bribed the Destinies,
     To cross the curious workmanship of nature,
     To mingle beauty with infirmities,
     And pure perfection with impure defeature;
       Making it subject to the tyranny
       Of sad mischances and much misery;

     As burning fevers, agues pale and faint,
     Life-poisoning pestilence, and frenzies wood,
     The marrow-eating sickness, whose attaint
     Disorder breeds by heating of the blood:
       Surfeits, impostumes, grief, and damn'd despair—

     And not the least of all these maladies,
     But in one minute's sight brings beauty under—
       As mountain snow melts with the mid-day sun."

           *       *       *       *       *

    "Lo! here the gentle lark, weary of rest,
     From his moist cabinet mounts up on high,
     And wakes the morning, from whose silver breast
     The sun ariseth in his majesty;
       Who doth the world so gloriously behold,
       That cedar tops and hills seem burnish'd gold.

     Venus salutes him with this fair good morrow:
     O thou clear god, and patron of all light,
     From whom each lamp and shining star doth borrow
     The beauteous influence that makes him bright."[27:A]

If we compare the _Venus and Adonis_ of Shakspeare with its classical
prototypes; with the _Epitaphium Adonidis_ of Bion, and the
beautiful narrative of Ovid, which terminates the tenth book of his
Metamorphoses, we must confess the inferiority of the English poem,
to the former in pathos, and to the latter in elegance; but if we
contrast it with the productions of its own age, it cannot fail of
being allowed a large share of relative merit. It has imbibed, indeed,
too many of the conceits and puerilities of the period in which it was
produced, and it has lost much interest by deviating from tradition;
for, as Mr. Steevens has remarked, "the common and more pleasing fable
assures us, that

    ———— "when bright Venus yielded up her charms,
    The blest Adonis languish'd in her arms;"[28:A]

yet the passages which we have quoted, and the general strain of the
poem, are such as amply to account for the popularity which it once

That this was great, that the work was highly valued by poetic minds,
and, as might be supposed, from the nature of its subject, the
favourite of the young, the ardent, and susceptible, there are not
wanting several testimonies. In 1595, John Weever had written at the
age of nineteen, as he informs us, a collection of Epigrams, which he
published in 1599[28:B]; of these the twenty-second is inscribed _Ad
Gulielmum Shakspeare_, and contains a curious though quaint encomium on
some of the poet's earliest productions:—

    "Honie tong'd Shakspeare, when I saw thine issue,
     I swore Apollo got them, and none other,
     Their rosie-tainted features clothed in tissue,
     Some heaven-born goddesse said to be their mother.
     _Rose-cheeckt Adonis with his amber tresses,
     Faire fire-hot Venus charming him to love her_,
     Chaste Lucretia virgine-like her dresses,
     Proud lust-stung Tarquine seeking still to prove her."[28:C]

In a copy of Speght's edition of Chaucer, which formerly belonged to
Dr. Gabriel Harvey, this physician, the noted opponent of Nash, has
inserted the following remarks:—"_The younger sort take much delight
in Shakspeare's Venus and Adonis_; but his Lucrece, and his tragedy of
Hamlet Prince of Denmarke, have it in them to please the wiser sort,

Meres, also, in his "Wit's Treasury," published in the same year
with the above date, draws a parallel between Ovid and Shakspeare,
resulting from the composition of this piece and his other minor poems.
"As the soule of Euphorbus," he observes, "was thought to live in
Pythagoras, so the sweete wittie soule of Ovid lives in mellifluous and
honey-tongued Shakspeare, witnes his _Venus and Adonis_, his Lucrece,
his sugred sonnets among his private friends, &c."[29:B]

A third tribute, and of a similar kind, was paid to the early efforts
of our author in 1598, by Richard Barnefield, from which it must be
inferred that the versification of Shakspeare was considered by his
contemporaries as pre-eminently sweet and melodious, a decision for
which many stanzas in the _Venus and Adonis_ might furnish sufficient

    "And Shakspeare thou, whose honey-flowing vein,
     (Pleasing the world,) thy praises doth contain,
     Whose _Venus_, and whose Lucrece, sweet and chaste,
     Thy name in fame's immortal book hath plac'd,
     Live ever you, at least in fame live ever!
     Well may the body die, but fame die never."[29:C]

That singularly curious old comedy, "_The Returne from Parnassus_,"
written in 1606, descanting on the poets of the age, introduces
Shakspeare solely on account of his miscellaneous poems, a striking
proof of their popularity; and, like his predecessors, the author
characterises them by the sweetness of their metre:

    "Who loves Adonis love, or Lucre's rape,
     His sweeter verse contaynes hart-robbing life,
     Could but a graver subject him content,
     Without love's foolish lazy languishment."[30:A]

It appears, likewise, from this extract, and will further appear from
two subsequent quotations, that the meretricious tendency of the _Venus
and Adonis_ did not altogether escape the notice or the censure of the
period which produced it.

A more ample eulogium on the merits of Shakspeare's first production
issued from the press in 1607, in a poem composed by William Barksted,
and entitled, _Mirrha the Mother of Adonis; or Lustes Prodigies_, of
which the concluding lines thus appreciate the value of his model:—

    "But stay, my Muse, in thine own confines keep,
       And wage not warre with so deere lov'd a neighbour;
     But having sung thy day-song, rest and sleep;
       Preserve thy small fame, and his greater favor.
     His song was worthie merit; Shakspeare, hee
     Sung the faire blossome, thou the wither'd tree:
     Laurel is due to him; his art and wit
     Hath purchas'd it; cyprus thy brows will fit."[30:B]

A pasquinade on the literature of his times was published by John
Davies of Hereford in 1611; it first appeared in his "Scourge of
Folly," under the title of "A Scourge for Paper-Persecutors," and among
other objects of his satire _Paper_, here personified, is represented
as complaining of the pruriency of Shakspeare's youthful fancy.

    "Another (ah, harde happe) mee vilifies
     With art of love, and how to subtilize,
     Making lewd _Venus_ with eternal lines
     To tie _Adonis_ to her love's designes;
     Fine wit is shewn therein: but finer 'twere,
     If not attired in such bawdy geare."[31:A]

The charge of _subtilizing_ which this passage conveys, may certainly
be substantiated against the minor poetry of our bard: no small portion
of it is visible in the _Venus and Adonis_; but the _Rape of Lucrece_
is extended by its admission to nearly a duplicate of what ought to
have been its proper size.

To the quotations now given, as commemorative of Shakspeare's primary
effort in poetry, we shall add one, whose note of praise is, that our
author was equally excellent in painting lust or continency:—

    "Shakspeare, that nimble Mercury thy brain
       Lulls many-hundred Argus' eyes asleep,
     So fit for all thou fashionest thy vein,
       At the horse-foot fountain thou hast drunk full deep.
     Virtue's or vice's theme to thee all one is;
       Who loves chaste life, there's _Lucrece_ for a teacher:
     Who list read lust, there's _Venus_ and _Adonis_
       True model of a most lascivious lecher."[31:B]

From the admiration thus warmly expressed by numerous contemporaries,
even when connected with slight censure, it will, of course, be
inferred that the demand for re-impressions of the _Venus and Adonis_
would be frequent; and this was, indeed, the fact. In the year
following the publication of the _editio princeps_, there is reason to
conclude that the second impression was printed; for the poem appears
again entered in the Stationers' books on the 23d of June, 1594, by
—— Harrison, sen.; unless this entry be merely preliminary to the
edition of 1596, which was printed in small octavo, by Richard Field,
for John Harrison.[32:A] Of the subsequent editions, one was published,
in 1600, by John Harrison, in 12mo.; another occurs in 1602, and,
in 1607, the _Venus and Adonis_ was reprinted at Edinburgh, "which
must be considered," remarks Mr. Beloe, "as an indubitable proof,
that at a very early period the Scotch knew and admired the genius of
Shakspeare."[32:B] The title-page of this edition has the same motto as
in the original impression; beneath it is a Phœnix in the midst of
flames, and then follows "Edinburgh. Printed by John Wreittoun, are to
bee sold in his shop, a little beneath the Salt Trone. 1607."

It is highly probable, that between the period of the Edinburgh copy,
and the year 1617, the date of the next extant edition, an intervening
impression may have been issued; _Venus and Adonis_, it should be
noticed, is entered in the Stationers' Register, by W. Barrett,
Feb. 16. 1616; and the next entry is by John Parker, March 8. 1619,
preparatory perhaps to the edition which appeared in 1620. In 1630,
another re-print was called for, which was again repeated in 1640, and
in the various subsequent editions of our author's poems.

The same favourable reception which accompanied the birth and progress
of the _Venus and Adonis_ attended, likewise, the next poem which
our author produced, THE RAPE OF LUCRECE. This was printed
in quarto, in 1594, by Richard Field, for John Harrison, and has a
copious _Argument_ prefixed, which, as Mr. Malone remarks, is a
curiosity, being, with the two dedications to the Earl of Southampton,
the only prose compositions of our great poet (not in a dramatic form)
now remaining.[33:A]

The _Rape of Lucrece_ is written in stanzas of seven lines each; the
first four in alternate rhyme; the fifth line corresponding with the
second and fourth, and the sixth and seventh lines forming a couplet.
To this construction it is probable that Shakspeare was led through the
popularity of Daniel's _Complaint of Rosamond_, which was published in
1592, and exhibits the same metrical system.

If we had just reason for condemning the prolixity of _Venus and
Adonis_, a still greater motive for similar censure will be found
in the _Rape of Lucrece_, which occupies no less than two hundred
and sixty-five stanzas, and, of course, includes one thousand eight
hundred and fifty-five lines, whilst the tale, as conducted by Ovid, is
impressively related in about one hundred and forty verses!

From what source Shakspeare derived his fable, whether through a
classic or a Gothic channel is uncertain. The story is of frequent
occurrence in ancient writers; for, independent of the narrative
in the _Fasti_ of the Roman poet, it has been told by _Dionysius
Halicarnassensis_, by _Livy_, by _Dion Cassius_, and _Diodorus
Siculus_. "I learn from Coxeter's notes," says Warton, "that the
_Fasti_ were translated into English verse before the year 1570. If
so, the many little pieces now current on the subject of _Lucretia_,
although her legend is in Chaucer, might immediately originate from
this source. In 1568, occurs a _Ballett_ called, 'The grevious
complaynt of Lucrece.' And afterwards, in the year 1569, is licenced
to James Robertes, 'A ballet of the death of Lucryssia.' There is also
a ballad of the legend of Lucrece, printed in 1576. These publications
might give rise to Shakspeare's _Rape of Lucrece_, which appeared in
1594. At this period of our poetry, we find the same subject occupying
the attention of the public for many years, and successively presented
in new and various forms by different poets. Lucretia was the grand
example of conjugal fidelity throughout the Gothic ages."[34:A]

One material advantage which the _Rape of Lucrece_ possesses over
its predecessor, is, that its moral is unexceptionable; and, on this
account, we have the authority of Dr. Gabriel Harvey, that it was
preferred by the _graver_ readers. In every other respect, no very
decided superiority, we are afraid, can be adduced. It is more studied
and elaborate, it is true; but the result of this labour has in
many instances been only an accumulation of far-fetched imagery and
fatiguing circumlocution. Yet, notwithstanding these defects, palpable
as they are, the poem has not merited the depreciation to which it
has been subjected by some very fastidious critics. It occasionally
delights us by a few fervid sketches of imagination and description;
and by several passages of a moral and pathetic cast, clothed in
language of much energy and beauty; and though the general tone of the
versification be more heavy and encumbered than that of the _Venus and
Adonis_, it is sometimes distinguished by point, legerity, and grace.
The quotations, indeed, which we are about to give from this neglected
poem, are not only such as would confer distinction on any work, but,
to say more, they are worthy of the poet which produced them.

Of metrical sweetness, of moral reflection, and of splendid and
appropriate imagery, we find an exquisite specimen at the very opening
of the poem. Collatine, boasting of his felicity "in the possession of
his beauteous mate," the bard exclaims—

    "O happiness enjoy'd but of a few!
     And, if possess'd, as soon decayed and done
     As is the morning's silver melting dew,
     Against the golden splendour of the sun!
     A date expir'd, and cancel'd ere begun."[34:B]
                                                  Stanza iv.

We must not omit also the first clause of the sixteenth stanza, which
affords an admirable example of spirited and harmonious rhythm. Tarquin
in addressing Lucrece:—

    "He stories to her ears her husband's fame,
     Won in the fields of fruitful Italy;
     And decks with praises Collatine's high name;
       Made glorious by his manly chivalry,
       With bruised arms and wreaths of victory."

One of the peculiar excellences of the _Rape of Lucrece_, is its
frequent expression of correct sentiment in pointed language and
emphatic verse. Tarquin, soliloquising on the crime which he is about
to commit, thus gives vent to the agonies of momentary contrition:—

    "Fair torch, burn out thy light, and lend it not
     To darken her whose light excelleth thine!
     And die unhallow'd thoughts, before you blot
     With your uncleanness that which is divine!

     O shame to knighthood and to shining arms!
     O foul dishonour to my houshold's grave!
     O impious act, including all foul harms!
     A martial man to be soft fancy's slave!—

     What win I, if I gain the thing I seek?
     A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy!
     Who buys a minute's mirth, to wail a week?
     Or sells eternity, to get a toy?"

The same terseness of diction and concinnity of versification appear in
the subsequent lines:—

    "Then for thy husband's and thy children's sake,
     Tender my suit: bequeath not to their lot
     The shame that from them no device can take,
     The blemish that will never be forgot."

It may, likewise, be added, that simplicity and strength in the
modulation, together with a forcible plainness of phraseology,
characterise a few stanzas, of which one shall be given as an

    "O teach me how to make mine own excuse!
     Or, at the least, this refuge let me find;
     Though my gross blood be stain'd with this abuse,
     Immaculate and spotless is my mind;
     That was not forc'd; that never was inclin'd
       To accessary yieldings—but, still pure,
       Doth in her poison'd closet yet endure."

To these short examples, which are selected for the purpose of showing,
not only the occasional felicity of the poet in the mechanism of his
verse, but the uncommon and unapprehended worth of what this mechanism
is the vehicle, we shall subjoin three passages of greater length,
illustrative of what this early production of our author's Muse can
exhibit in the three great departments of the _descriptive_, the
_pathetic_, and the _morally sublime_.

Lucrece, in the paroxysms of her grief, is represented as telling her
mournful story

    "To pencil'd pensiveness and coloured sorrow,"

to a piece

    "Of skilful painting, made for Priam's Troy,"


    "Many a dry drop seemed a weeping tear,
     Shed for the slaughtered husband by the wife;"

and where

    "The red blood reek'd to show the painter's strife,
     And dying eyes gleam'd forth their ashy lights:"

    "She throws her eyes about the painting round,
     And whom she finds forlorn, she doth lament;
     At last she sees a wretched image bound,
     That piteous looks to Phrygian shepherds lent;
     His face, though full of cares, yet show'd content:
       Onward to Troy with the blunt swains he goes,
       So mild, that Patience seem'd to scorn his woes.

     In him the painter labour'd with his skill
     To hide deceit, and give the harmless show
     An humble gait, calm looks, eyes wailing still,
     A brow unbent, that seem'd to welcome woe;
     Cheeks, neither red nor pale, but mingled so
       That blushing red no guilty instance gave,
       Nor ashy pale the fear that false hearts have.

     But like a constant and confirmed devil,
     He entertain'd a show so seeming just,
     And therein so ensconc'd his secret evil,
     That jealousy itself could not mistrust——

     The well-skill'd workman this mild image drew
     For perjur'd Sinon."

This is a picture, of which the colouring, but too often overcharged in
every other part of the poem, may be pronounced chaste and correct.

A simple and unaffected flow of thought, expressed in diction of equal
purity and plainness, are essential requisites towards the production
of the pathetic, either in poetry or prose; and, unfortunately, in the
_Rape of Lucrece_, these excellences, especially in their combined
state, are of very rare occurrence. We are not, however, totally
destitute of passages which, by their tenderness and simplicity, appeal
to the heart. Thus the complete wretchedness of Lucretia is powerfully
and simply painted in the following lines:—

    "The little birds that tune their morning's joy,
     Make her moans mad with their sweet melody.
     For mirth doth search the bottom of annoy;
     Sad souls are slain in merry company;
     Grief best is pleas'd with grief's society:
       True sorrow then is feelingly suffic'd,
       When with like semblance it is sympathiz'd."

She, accordingly, invokes the melancholy nightingale, and invites her,
from similarity of fate, to be her companion in distress.—

    "And for, poor bird, thou sing'st not in the day,
     As shaming any eye should thee behold,
     Some dark deep desert, seated from the way,
     That knows nor parching heat nor freezing cold,
     Will we find out; and there we will unfold
       To creatures stern sad tunes, to change their kinds:
       Since men prove beasts, let beasts bear gentle minds."

"Shakspeare has here," says Mr. Malone, in a note on the first of these
stanzas, "as in all his writings, shown an intimate acquaintance with
the human heart. Every one that has felt the pressure of grief will
readily acknowledge that _mirth doth search the bottom of annoy_."[38:A]

The last specimen which we shall select from this poem, would alone
preserve it from oblivion, were it necessary to protect from such
a fate any work which bears the mighty name of Shakspeare. Indeed,
whether we consider this extract in relation to its diction, its metre,
its sentiment, or the sublimity of its close, it is alike calculated to
excite our admiration:—

    "Unruly blasts wait on the tender spring;
     Unwholesome weeds take root with precious flowers;
     The adder hisses where the sweet birds sing;
     What virtue breeds, iniquity devours:
     We have no good that we can say is ours,
       But ill-annexed opportunity
       Or kills his life, or else his quality.

     O, Opportunity! thy guilt is great:
     'Tis thou that execut'st the traitor's treason;
     Thou set'st the wolf where he the lamb may get;
     Whoever plots the sin, thou point'st the season;
     'Tis thou that spurn'st at right, at law, at reason;
        And in thy shady cell, where none may spy him,
        Sits Sin, to seize the souls that wander by him."

We have already seen, that, in the passages quoted from contemporary
writers in favour of _Venus and Adonis_, the _Rape of Lucrece_ has,
with the exception of two instances, been honoured with equal notice
and equal approbation. Here, therefore, it will only be necessary to
add those notices in which the latter production is the exclusive
object of praise.

Of these, the earliest[38:B] is to be found in the first edition of
_Drayton's_ "Matilda, the faire and chaste Daughter of Lord Robert
Fitzwater," published in 1594, a few months, or probably weeks, after
the appearance of the _Rape of Lucrece_. In this impression, and
_solely_ in this impression, the Heroine thus eulogises the composition
of our bard:—

    "Lucrece, of whom proud Rome hath boasted long,
     Lately reviv'd to live another age,
     And here arriv'd to tell of Tarquin's wrong,
     Her chaste denial, and the tyrants rage,
     Acting her passions on our stately stage,
     She is remember'd, all forgetting me,
     Yet I as fair find chaste as ere was she."[39:A]

The year following Drayton's Matilda, a work was printed in quarto,
under the title of _Polimanteia_, in the margin of which Shakspeare's
_Lucrece_ is thus cursorily mentioned. "All praise-worthy Lucretia,
Sweet Shakspeare."[39:B]

The next separate notice of this poem occurs in some verses prefixed
to the second edition of "Willobie his Avisa," which appeared in 1596.
They are subscribed _Contraria Contrariis Vigilantius Dormitanus_, and
open with the allusion to Shakspeare's Lucrece:—

    "In lavine land though Livie boast,
     There hath beene seene a constant dame;
     Though Rome lament that she have lost
     The garland of her rarest fame,
       Yet now ye see that here is found
       As great a faith in English ground.

     Though Collatine have dearly bought
     To high renowne a lasting life,
     And found, that most in vaine have sought
     To have a faire and constant wife,
       Yet Tarquine pluckt his glistring grape,
       And Shake-speare paintes poor Lucrece rape."[40:A]

To these contemporary notices, with the view of showing what was
thought of the _Rape of Lucrece_ half a century after its production,
we shall subjoin the opinion of _S. Sheppard_, who, in "The Times
Displayed in Six Sestyads," printed in 1646, 4to., comparing Shakspeare
with Euripides, Sophocles, and Aristophanes, adds—

    "His sweet and his to be admired lay
     He wrote of lustful Tarquin's rape, shews he
     Did understand the depth of poesie."[40:B]

The editions of the _Rape of Lucrece_ were as numerous as those of the
_Venus and Adonis_. "In thirteen years after their first appearance,"
remarks Mr. Malone, "six impressions of each of them were printed,
while in the same period, his _Romeo and Juliet_, one of his most
popular plays, passed only twice through the press."[41:A]

Of the early re-impressions, those which are extant, are in small
octavo, of the date 1596, 1598, 1600, 1607, 1616, 1624, 1632, &c. In
the title of that which was published in 1616, occur the words _newly
revised and corrected_. "When this copy first came to my hands,"
says Mr. Malone, "it occurred to me, that our author had perhaps
an intention of revising and publishing all his works, (which his
fellow-comedians, in their preface to his plays, seem to hint he
would have done, if he had lived,) and that he began with this early
production of his muse, but was prevented by death from completing
his scheme; for he died in the same year in which this _corrected_
copy of _Lucrece_ (as it is called) was printed. But on an attentive
examination of this edition, I have not the least doubt that the piece
was revised by some other hand. It is so far from being correct, that
it is certainly the most inaccurate and corrupt of all the ancient

To the Rape of Lucrece succeeds, in the order of publication, the
PASSIONATE PILGRIM. This imperfect collection of our author's
minor pieces was printed by W. Jaggard in 1599, in small octavo, and
with the poet's name.

Not only is this little work entitled to notice from the priority of
its public appearance, before the larger collection termed "Sonnets;"
but there is, we think, sufficient proof that a part of its contents
had, as compositions, a prior origin. It opens with a sonnet inserted
in _Love's Labour's Lost_[42:A], a play which, according to Mr.
Chalmers, was written in 1592, and not later, even in the calculation
of Mr. Malone, than 1594. The second sonnet, and the fourth, seventh,
and ninth, are founded on the story of _Venus and Adonis_, and, from
their similarity in diction, imagery, and sentiment, to "the first
heir" of the poet's "invention," appear to have been originally
intended, either for insertion in the greater work, or were preludes to
its composition: they "seem," remarks Mr. Malone, "to have been essays
of the author when he first conceived the idea of writing a poem on
the subject of Venus and Adonis, and before the scheme of his poem was
adjusted;" and he adds, in a subsequent page, that the eighth sonnet
"seems to have been intended for a dirge to be sung by Venus on the
death of Adonis."[42:B]

Beside these intimations of very early composition in the _Passionate
Pilgrim_, a similar inference may be drawn from our author's allusion,
in his sixth sonnet, to Dowland as a celebrated lutenist, and from a
notice in the old copy that the ballad commencing "_It was a lording's
daughter_," and the five following poems, were set to music, which
music, says Oldys, in one of his manuscripts, was the composition of
John and Thomas Morley. Now Dowland had obtained celebrity in his
art as early as 1590; and in 1597, when Bachelor of Music in both
the universities, published his first book of Songs or Airs, in four
parts, for the Lute; and Tho. Morley, who, there is reason to believe,
was deceased in 1600, had still earlier been in vogue, and continued
to publish his compositions until 1597, in which year appeared his

When Meres, therefore, printed his _Wit's Treasury_ in 1598, it is
highly probable that the close of the following passage, already
quoted for a different purpose, and which has been thought to refer
exclusively to the "Sonnets" afterwards published in 1609, particularly
alluded also to the sonnets of the _Passionate Pilgrim_, which had
been privately circulated and set to music by Dowland and Morley. "As
the soul of Euphorbus," says he, "was thought to live in Pythagoras,
so the sweet witty soul of Ovid lives in mellifluous and honey-tongued
Shakspeare. Witness his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece, _his sugred
Sonnets_ among his private friends, &c."

It is remarkable that the year following this notice by Meres,
appeared Jaggard's first edition of the _Passionate Pilgrim_. May we
not conclude, therefore, that this encomium on the manuscript sonnets
of Shakspeare, induced Jaggard to collect all the lyric poetry of
our author which he could obtain through his own research and that
of his friends, and to publish it surreptitiously with a title of
his own manufacture? That it was not sent into the world under the
direction, or even with the knowledge of Shakspeare, must be evident
from the circumstance of Marlowe's madrigal, _Come live with me, &c._
being inserted in the collection; nor is it likely, setting this
error aside, that Shakspeare, in his thirty-third year, at a time
when he had written several plays including some dramatic songs, and
undoubtedly had produced a large portion of the sonnets which were
given to the world in 1609, would have published a Collection so scanty
and unconnected as the _Passionate Pilgrim_, which, independent of
Marlowe's poem, contains but twenty pieces.

Indeed we are warranted in attributing not only the edition of 1599
solely to the officiousness of Jaggard, but likewise two subsequent
impressions, of which the last furnishes us with some further curious
proofs of this printer's skill in book-making, and also with an
interesting anecdote relative to our bard.

The precise period when the second edition issued from the press was
unknown to Mr. Malone[43:A], and is not yet ascertained; but the third
edition, printed in 1612, in small octavo, and published by W. Jaggard,
is connected with the following literary history.

In 1609, Thomas Heywood published a folio volume entitled "Troia
Britanica: or, Great Britaine's Troy. A Poem, devided into 17 severall
Cantons, intermixed with many pleasant poeticall Tales. Concluding with
an Universal Chronicle from the Creation, untill these present Times."
This work was printed and published by William Jaggard, and includes
two translations from Ovid, namely the epistles of Paris to Helen,
and Helen to Paris, "which being so pertinent to our historie," says
Heywood, "I thought necessary to translate."

It happened, unfortunately for the honest fame of Jaggard, that when
he published the third edition of the _Passionate Pilgrim_ in 1612, he
was tempted, with the view of increasing the size of his volume, to
insert these versions by Heywood, dropping, however, the translator's
name, and, of course, suffering them to be ascribed to Shakspeare, who
appears in the title-page as the author of the entire collection.

Shortly after this imposition on the public had gone forth, Heywood
produced his "Apology for Actors. Containing three briefe Treatises.
1. Their Antiquity. 2. Their Ancient Dignity. 3. The true use of
their quality. London: Printed by Nicholas Okes, 1612," 4to.; and at
the close of this thin treatise, which consists but of sixty pages,
the author addresses the following remarkable epistle to his _new_

"To my approved good friend, Mr. Nicholas Okes.

    "The infinite faults escaped in my booke of Britaine's Troy,
    by the negligence of the printer, as the misquotations,
    mistaking of sillables, misplacing halfe lines, coining of
    strange and never heard of words: these being without number,
    when I would have taken a particular account of the _errata_,
    the printer answered me, hee would not publish his owne
    disworkemanship, but rather let his owne fault lye upon the
    necke of the author: and being fearfull that others of his
    quality, had beene of the same nature, and condition, and
    finding you on the contrary, so carefull and industrious,
    so serious and laborious, to doe the author all the rights
    of the presse; I could not choose but gratulate your honest
    endeavours with this short remembrance. Here likewise, I must
    necessarily insert a manifest injury done me in that worke,
    by taking the two Epistles of Paris to Helen, and Helen to
    Paris, and printing them in a lesse volume, under the name of
    another (_Shakspeare_), which may put the world in opinion _I
    might steale them from him; and hee, to doe himselfe right,
    hath since published them in his owne name_: but as I must
    acknowlege my lines not worthy his patronage under whom he hath
    publisht them, SO THE AUTHOR (_Shakspeare_) I KNOW
    like dishonesties, I know you to be cleare of; and I could wish
    but to bee the happy author of so worthy a worke as I could
    willingly commit to your care and workmanship.

                                   Your's ever,
                                            THOMAS HEYWOOD."

Here nothing can be more evident than that Jaggard introduced these
translations in the "Passionate Pilgrim," _without the permission, or
even the knowledge_ of Shakspeare, and further, that he, Shakspeare,
was _much offended with Jaggard for so doing_; a piece of information
which completely rescues the memory of Shakspeare from any connivance
in the fraud: and yet, strange as it may appear, on this very epistle
of Heywood has been founded a charge of imposition against Shakspeare,
and the only defence offered for the calumniated poet has been, that,
contrary to the public and positive assertion of Heywood, he, and not
Heywood, was the translator of the Epistles in question.

This interpretation can only be accounted for on the supposition that
both the accuser and defender have alike mistaken the language of
Heywood, and have conceived him to have been speaking of himself,
when, in fact, he was referring to Shakspeare; for, that the passage
"_so the author I know much offended with M. Jaggard that (altogether
unknowne to him) presumed to make so bold with his name_," can only
be applied to our great poet, must be clear from the consideration
that Jaggard, so far from _making bold with the name_ of Heywood,
dropped it altogether, while he daringly committed the very offence as
to Shakspeare, by clandestinely affixing his name to the versions of

It will be right, however, to bring forward the accusation and defence
of these gentlemen, as they will sufficiently prove that more errors
than one have been committed in their attempts, and that these have
been the result of a want of intimacy with the literary history of
Shakspeare's age.

In the twenty-sixth volume of the _Monthly Magazine_, a correspondent
whose signature is Y. Z., after commenting on Heywood's letter, as
quoted by Dr. Farmer, and after transcribing the very passage just
given above in Italics, declares "this passage contains an heavy charge
against Shakspeare: it accuses him, not only of an attempt to impose on
the public, but on his patron, Lord Southampton, to whom he dedicated
his 'unpolisht lines[46:A];'" and, in his reply to Mr. Lofft, he again
remarks,—"The translations in question were certainly published in
Shakspeare's name, _and with his permission_; they were also dedicated
by him to his best and kindest friend."[46:B]

Now, that the passage in debate contains no charge against Shakspeare
is, we think, perfectly demonstrable from the import of Heywood's
epistle, which we have given at full length, and which, we suspect,
Y. Z. has only partially seen, through the medium of Dr. Farmer's

That the poet imposed upon his patron by dedicating to him his
"unpolisht lines," meaning these versions from Ovid, is an assertion
totally contrary to the fact. Of his poems Shakspeare dedicated only
two to Lord Southampton, which were published separately, the _Venus
and Adonis_ in 1593, and the _Rape of Lucrece_ in 1594, and the
expression "unpolisht lines" alludes exclusively to the first of these

So far from any permission being given by Shakspeare for the insertion
of these translations, we find him highly offended with Jaggard for
presuming to introduce them under his name; and from the admission of
these pieces and Marlowe's poem, we may securely infer that the three
editions by Jaggard of the _Passionate Pilgrim_ were surreptitious and
void of all authority. Such, indeed, seems to have been the opinion
of his contemporaries with regard to the first impression; for the
two poems in Jaggard's collection of 1599, commencing "My flocks feed
not," and "As it fell upon a day," are inscribed to Shakspeare, while
in England's Helicon of 1600 they bear the subscription of _Ignoto_,
a pretty plain intimation of all want of reliance on the editorial
sagacity of this unprincipled bookseller.

Justice requires of us to state that Y. Z. has not brought forward this
accusation from any enmity to the poet, of whom, on the contrary, he
professes himself to be an ardent admirer; but with the hope of seeing
the transaction cleared up to the honour of his favourite bard, a hope
which Mr. Lofft, in a subsequent number of the Magazine, generously
comes forward to gratify.

In doing this, however, he has unfortunately taken for granted the
_data_ on which Y. Z. has founded his charge, and builds his defence
of the poet on the ill-grounded supposition of his being the real
translator of the Epistles of Ovid, treating the question as if it were
the subject of a trial at law. The consequence has been a somewhat
singular series of mistakes. "It appears," observes Mr. Lofft, "that
among his undisputed poems, these translations were published by
Jaggard, in 1609."[47:A] Here are two assumptions, of which one seems
founded on a surmise in the first communication of Y. Z., who says,
"if my memory does not deceive me, the Poems of Shakspeare appeared in
1609."[48:A] That an edition of the _Passionate Pilgrim_ was printed
between the years 1599 and 1612 is certain, for the copy of 1612 is
expressly termed the _third_ edition; but that this impression took
place in 1609, is a conclusion without any authority, for, as we
have remarked before, no copy of this date has yet been discovered.
Granting, however, that it did issue in this year, there is every
reason, from the detail already given, to affirm, that it could not
contain the translations in question, and was probably nothing more
than a re-impression of the edition of 1599.

"In the same year" (that is 1609), proceeds Mr. L., "Heywood makes his
claim." Heywood made no claim until 1612; yet, continues Mr. L., "this
he does in a book entitled 'Britain's Glory,' published by the very
same Jaggard." Now Heywood wrote no book entitled "Britain's Glory,"
an assertion which seems to be verified by Mr. Lofft himself, who
commences the next paragraph but one in the following terms:—"This
Britain's _Troy_, in which he advances his claim to these translations,
seems to have been the earliest of the many volumes which he
published," a sentence which almost compels us to consider the title
"Britain's Glory," in the preceding paragraph, as a typographical
error; but it is remarkable that neither in Britain's Troy is this
claim advanced, nor was it by many instances the earliest of his
publications, a reference to the Biographia Dramatica exhibiting not
less than five of his productions anterior to 1609.

These inaccuracies in the charge and defence of Shakspeare, the
detection of which has proved an unpleasant task, and peculiarly so
when we reflect, that to one of the parties and to his family[48:B]
the venerable bard owes many obligations, will induce us to rely with
greater confidence on the simple truth, as developed in the letter of
Heywood,—that Shakspeare, as soon as he was made acquainted with the
fraudulent attempt of Jaggard, expressed the warmest indignation at his

On the poetical merit of the _Passionate Pilgrim_, it will not be
necessary to say much; for, as the best and greater part of it
consists of pieces in the sonnet form, and these are but few, the
skill of the bard in this difficult species of composition will more
properly be discussed when we come to consider the value of the
large collection which he has bequeathed us under the appellation of
_Sonnets_. One, however, of the pieces which form the _Passionate
Pilgrim_, we shall extract, not only for its beauty as a sonnet, though
this be considerable, but as it makes mention of his great poetical
contemporary, Edmund Spenser, for whose genius, as might naturally
be expected, he appears to have entertained the most deep-felt

    "IF music and sweet poetry agree,
     As they must needs, the sister and the brother,
     Then must the love be great 'twixt thee and me,
     Because thou lov'st the one, and I the other.
     Dowland to thee is dear, whose heavenly touch
     Upon the lute doth ravish human sense;
     _SPENSER to me, whose deep conceit is such,
     As passing all conceit, needs no defence_.
     Thou lov'st to hear the sweet melodious sound,
     That Phœbus' lute, the queen of music, makes;
     _And I in deep delight am chiefly drown'd,
     Whenas himself to singing he betakes_.
       One god is god of both, as poets feign;
       One knight loves both, and both in thee remain."

The expression, _deep conceit_, "seems to allude," remarks Mr. Malone,
"to the _Faery Queen_. If so, these sonnets were not written till after
1590, when the first three books of that poem were published[49:A];"
a conjecture which is strongly corroborated by two lines from
Barnefield's "Remembrance of some English Poets," where the phrase is
directly applied to the Fairy Queen:

    "Live Spenser! ever, in thy Fairy Queene;
     Whose like (for _deep conceit_) was never seene."[50:A]

The remaining portion of Shakspeare's Poems includes the SONNETS and
A LOVER'S COMPLAINT, which were printed together in 1609.[50:B] At
what period they were written, or in what year of the poet's life they
were commenced, has been a subject of much controversy. That some of
these sonnets were alluded to by Meres in 1598, when he speaks of our
author's "sugred Sonnets among his private friends," and that a few of
these very sonnets, as many, at least, as Jaggard could obtain, were
published by him the following year, in consequence of this notice,
appears to be highly probable; but that the entire collection, as
published in 1609, had been in private circulation anterior to Meres's
pamphlet, is a position not easily to be credited, and contrary,
indeed, to the internal evidence of the poems themselves, which bear no
trifling testimony of having been written at various and even distant
periods; and there is reason to think in the space elapsing between the
years 1592 and 1609, between the twenty-eighth and forty-fifth year of
the poet's age.

That some of them were early compositions, and produced before the
author had acquired any extended reputation, may be inferred from the
subsequent passages. In the sixteenth sonnet, with reference to his
own poetry, he adopts the expression "_my pupil pen_;" and in the
thirty-second he petitions his mistress to "vouchsafe" him "but this
loving thought,"

    "_Had my friend's muse grown with this growing age,
     A dearer birth than this his love had brought
     To march in ranks of better equipage._"

A small portion of the fame and property which he afterwards enjoyed,
could have fallen to his share when he composed the thirty-seventh
sonnet, the purport of which is to declare, that though

    —— "_made lame by fortune's dearest spite_,"

he is rich in the perfections of his mistress, and having engrafted his
love to her abundant store, he adds,

    "So then I am not _lame, poor, nor despis'd_."

There is much reason to conclude, however, that by far the greater part
of these sonnets was written after the bard had passed the meridian of
his life, and during the ten years which preceded their publication;
consequently, that with the exception of a few of earlier date,
they were the amusement of his leisure from his thirty-fifth to his
forty-fifth year. We have been led to this result from the numerous
allusions which the author has made, in these poems, to the effects of
time on his person; and though these may be, and are without doubt,
exaggerated, yet are they fully adequate to prove that the writer could
no longer be accounted young. It is remarkable that the hundred and
thirty-eighth sonnet, which was originally printed in the _Passionate
Pilgrim_ contains a notice of this kind:

    "Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
     Although she knows _my days are past the best_;"

an expression which well accords with the poet's _then_ period of
life; for when Jaggard surreptitiously published the minor collection,
Shakspeare was thirty-five years old.

Among the allusions of this nature in his "Sonnets," the selection of
a few will answer our purpose. The first occurs in the twenty-second

    "My glass shall not persuade _me I am old_,
     So long as youth and thou are of one date."

The two next are still more explicit:—

    "But when my glass shows me myself indeed,
     _'Bated and chopp'd with tan'd antiquity_:"
                                                    Son. 62.

    "Against my love shall be, _as I am now,
     With time's injurious hand crush'd and o'erworn_:"
                                                    Son. 63.

and the last that we shall give completes the picture, which, though
overcharged in its colouring, must be allowed, we think, to reflect
some lineaments of the truth:—

    "That time of year thou may'st in me behold
     When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
     Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
     Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
     In me thou seest the twilight of such day,
     As after sun-set fadeth in the west——
     In me thou seest the glowing of such fire,
     That on the ashes of his youth doth lie."
                                                    Son. 73.

The comparison instituted in these lines between the _bare ruined
choir_ of a cathedral, and an avenue at the close of autumn, has
given origin to a short but very elegantly written note from the pen
of Mr. Steevens. "This image," he remarks, "was probably suggested
to Shakspeare by our desolated monasteries. The resemblance between
the vaulting of a Gothic isle, and an avenue of trees whose upper
branches meet and form an arch over-head, is too striking not to be
acknowledged. When the roof of the one is shattered, and the boughs
of the other leafless, the comparison becomes yet more solemn and

On the principal writers of this minor but difficult species of lyric
poetry, to which Shakspeare could have recourse in his own language,
it will be necessary to enter into some brief criticism, in order to
ascertain the progress and merit of his predecessors, and the models
on which he may be conceived to have more peculiarly founded his own

The rapid introduction of Italian poetry into our country, during
the reign of Henry the Eighth, very early brought with it a taste
for the cultivation of the sonnet. Before 1540, _Wyat_ had written
all his poems, many of which are sonnets constructed nearly on the
strictest form of the Italian model; the _octant_, or major system
being perfectly correct, while the _sextant_, or minor system, differs
only from the legitimate type by closing with a couplet. The poetical
value of these attempts, however, does not, either in versification
or imagery, transcend mediocrity, and are greatly inferior to the
productions, in the same department, of his accomplished friend,
the gallant but unfortunate _Surrey_. The sonnets of this elegantly
romantic character, which were published in 1557, deviate still
further from the Italian structure, as they uniformly consist of three
quatrains in alternate or elegiac verse, and these terminated by a
couplet; a secession from the laws of legitimacy which is amply atoned
for by virtues of a far superior order, by simplicity, purity, and
sweetness of expression, by unaffected tenderness of sentiment, and by
vivid powers of description. To this unexaggerated encomium we must
add, that the harmony of his metre is often truly astonishing, and
even, in some instances, fully equal to the rhythm of the present age.
That the assertion wants not sufficient evidence, will be acknowledged
by the adduction of a single specimen:—


    "SET me whereas the sunne doth parche the grene,
     Or where his beames do not dissolve the ise:
     In temperate heate where he is felt and sene:
     In presence prest of people madde or wise:
     Set me in hye, or yet in low degree;
     In longest night, or in the shortest daye:
     In clearest skie, or where cloudes thickest be;
     In lusty youth, or when my heeres are graye:
     Set me in heaven, in earth, or els in hell,
     In hyll or dale, or in the foming flood,
     Thrall, or at large, alive whereso I dwell,
     Sicke or in health, in evill fame or good:
     Hers will I be, and onely with this thought
     Content my self, although my chaunce be nought."

Of the sonnets of _Watson_, which were published about 1581, we have
given an opinion, at some length, in the preceding chapter, and shall
merely add here, that neither in their structure, nor in their diction
or imagery, could they be, or were they, models for our author; and are
indeed greatly inferior, not only to the sonnets of Shakspeare, but to
those of almost every other poet of his day.

The sonnets of _Sidney_, which appeared in 1591 under the title of
_Astrophel and Stella_, exhibit a variety of metrical arrangement; a
few which rival, and several which nearly approach, the most strict
Petrarcan form. The _octant_ in Sidney is often perfectly correct,
while the _sextant_ presents us with the structure which, though
not very common in Italian, has been, since his time, adopted more
frequently than any other by our own poets; that is, where the first
line and the third, the second and fourth, the fifth and sixth, rhime
together; with this difference, however, that the moderns, in their
_division_ of the sextant, have more usually followed the example of
Surrey just quoted, in forming their minor system of a quatrain and a
couplet, while Sidney more correctly distributes it into _terzette_.

On this arrangement is by far the greater portion of Sidney's sonnets
constructed; but the most pleasing of his metrical forms, and which
has the merit too of being built after the Italian cast, consists in
the _Octant_, of two tetrachords of disjunct alternate rhime, the last
line of the first stanza rhiming to the first of the second; and in the
_Sextant_, of a structure in which the first and second, the fourth and
fifth, and the third and sixth verses rhime. Thus has he formed the
following exquisite sonnet, which will afford no inaccurate idea of his
powers in this province of the art:—

    "O kisse, which doest those ruddie gemmes impart,
       Or gemmes, or fruits of new-found Paradise,
       Breathing all blisse and sweetning to the heart,
       Teaching dumbe lips a nobler exercise.

     O kisse, which soules, even soules, together tyes
       By linkes of Love, and only Nature's art:
       How faine would I paint thee to all men's eyes,
       Or of thy gifts at least shade out some part.

     But she forbids; with blushing words, she sayes,
       She builds her fame on higer-seated praise:
       But my heart burnes, I cannot silent be.

     Then since, deare life, you faine would have me peace,
       And I, mad with delight, want wit to cease,
       Stop you my mouth with still still kissing me."
                                                    Son. 81.

In 1592, _Daniel_ produced his _Delia_, including fifty-seven sonnets,
of which only two follow the Italian standard; the remainder consisting
of three elegiac stanzas and a closing couplet. They display many
beauties, and, being a model of easy imitation, have met with numerous

Of the _Diana_ of _Constable_, a collection of sonnets in eight
decades, we have already, if we consider their mediocrity, given a
sufficiently copious notice. They were published in 1594, and were
soon eclipsed by the _Amoretti_ of _Spenser_, a series of eighty-eight
sonnets, printed about the year 1595. These, from the singularity of
their construction, which not only deviates from the Italian costume,
but has seldom found an imitator, require, independent of their poetic
value, peculiar notice. The Spenserian sonnet, then, consists of three
tetrachords in alternate rhime; the last line of the first tetrachord
rhiming to the first of the second, and the last of the second to the
first of the third, and the whole terminated by a couplet. That this
system of rhythm often flows sweetly, and that it is often the vehicle
of chaste sentiment and beautiful imagery must, in justice, be conceded
to this amiable poet; but, at the same time, it is necessary to add,
that it is occasionally the medium of quaintness and far-fetched
conceit. A specimen, however, shall be subjoined, of which, if the
first stanza be slightly tainted with affectation, the remainder will
be pronounced, as well in melody and simplicity as in moral beauty,
nearly perfect.

    "The doubt which ye misdeeme, fayre Love, is vaine,
     That fondly feare to lose your liberty;
     When, losing one, two liberties ye gaine,
     And make him bond that bondage earst did fly.
     Sweet be the bands, the which true Love doth tye
     Without constraynt, or dread of any ill:
     The gentle birde feeles no captivity
     Within her cage; but sings, and feeds her fill.
     There Pride dare not approach, nor Discord spill
     The league twixt them, that loyal Love hath bound:
     But simple Truth, and mutual Good-will,
     Seeks, with sweet Peace, to salve each others wound:
       There Fayth doth fearless dwell in brazen towre,
       And spotlesse Pleasure builds her sacred bowre."
                                                    Son. 65.

Between the sonnets of Spenser, and those of Drayton, a period of
ten or eleven years, many minor bards, such as _Percy_, _Barnes_,
_Barnefielde_, _Griffin_, _Smith_, &c. the titles of whose works
will be found in the table of our preceding chapter, were induced to
cultivate, and sometimes with tolerable success, this difficult little
poem; nor are there wanting, during this period, some elegant examples
of the sonnet interspersed through the works of writers of a higher
rank, as, for instance, _Googe_, _Gascoigne_, _Raleigh_, _Breton_,
and _Lodge_; but we shall close this criticism with a few remarks on
the sonnets of the once popular poet whose productions of this kind
immediately preceded the collection of Shakspeare in 1609.

The sonnets of _Drayton_ which, in number sixty-three, were published
under the title of "Ideas," in 1605, 8vo., are, for the most part,
written on the plan of Daniel. Fifty-two exhibit three four-lined
stanzas, in alternate rhime, completed by a couplet; and eleven
consist of three quatrains with two verses of _immediate_, interposed
between two verses of _disjunct_, rhime, and a terminating couplet.
The versification of Drayton in these pieces is sufficiently smooth,
and the sentiment is sometimes natural and pleasing, though too often
injured by an ill-judged display of wit and point. With the exception,
also, of two sonnets addressed to the River Anker, they possess little
of what can be termed descriptive poetry.

It now remains to ascertain to which of these writers of the sonnet
Shakspeare chiefly directed his attention, in choosing a model for
his own compositions. Dr. Sewell and Mr. Chalmers contend that, in
emulation of Spenser, he took the _Amoretti_ of that poet for his
guide[57:A]; but, though we admit that he was an avowed admirer of the
Fairy Queen, and that the publication of the Amoretti in 1595 might
still further strengthen his attachment to this species of lyric poesy,
yet we cannot accede to their position. The structure, indeed, of the
Spenserian sonnet is, with the exception of a closing couplet, totally
different from Shakspeare's; nor are their style and diction less

If we revert, however, to the sonnets of Daniel, which were published
in 1592, we shall there find, as Mr. Malone had previously remarked,
the prototype of Shakspeare's amatory verse. Indeed no doubt can arise,
when we recollect, that all Daniel's sonnets, save two, are composed
of three quatrains in alternate rhime and a couplet, and that all
Shakspeare's, one hundred and fifty-four in number, are, if we except
a single instance[57:B], of a similar description. There is, also, in
Daniel, much of that tissue of abstract thought, and that reiteration
of words, which so remarkably distinguish the sonnets of our bard.
Of this no greater proof can be adduced than the sonnet we shall now
subjoin, and which, in all its features, may be said to be truly

    "AND whither, poor _forsaken_, wilt thou _go_,
     To _go_ from _sorrow_, and thine own distress?
     When every place presents like face of woe,
     And no remove can make thy _sorrows_ less?
     Yet _go_, _forsaken_; _leave these_ woods, _these_ plains:
     _Leave her and all_, and _all for her_, that _leaves_
     Thee and thy love forlorn, and _both_ disdains;
     And of _both_ wrongful deems, and ill conceives.
     Seek out some _place_; and see if any _place_
     Can give the least release unto thy grief:
     Convey thee from the thought of thy disgrace;
     _Steal from thyself, and be thy care's own thief_.
       But yet what comforts shall I hereby gain?
       Bearing the wound, I needs must feel the pain."
                                                    Son. 49.

There is reason to suppose that none of Shakspeare's sonnets were
written before the appearance of Daniel's "Delia." A few in the
_Passionate Pilgrim_ seem, as hath been observed, to have been
suggested during the composition of the _Venus and Adonis_, and were
probably penned in the interval elapsing between the publication of the
Delia in 1592, and of the _Venus and Adonis_ in 1593; for, though the
earliest of his sonnets, they are still cast in the very mould which
Daniel had constructed.

The difficulties, however, which attend the ascertainment of
Shakspeare's model in these compositions, are nothing when compared
to those which surround the enquiry as to the person to whom they are
addressed. An almost impenetrable darkness rests on the question, and
no effort has hitherto, in the smallest degree, tended to disperse the

When Thomas Thorpe published our author's sonnets in 1609, he
accompanied them with the following mysterious dedication:—

                         "To The Only Begetter
                       Of These Ensuing Sonnets,
                               Mr. W. H.
                             All Happiness
                      And That Eternity Promised
                        By Our Ever-Living Poet
                              Wisheth The
                        Well-Wishing Adventurer
                           In Setting Forth,
                                                 T. T."

On the first perusal of this address, the import would seem to be, that
Mr. W. H. had been the _sole object_ of Shakspeare's poetry, and of the
_eternity_ promised by the bard. But a little attention to the language
of the times in which it was written, will induce us to correct this
conclusion; for as a part of our author's sonnets is most certainly
addressed to a female, it is evident that W. H. could not be the _only
begetter_ of them in the sense which primarily suggests itself. For
the true meaning of the word we are indebted to Mr. Chalmers, who
observes, on the authority of Minsheu's Dictionary of 1616, that one
sense of the verb _to beget_ is there given to _bring foorth_. "W.
H.," he continues, "was the bringer forth of the Sonnets. _Beget_ is
derived by Skinner from the A. S. _begettan_, obtinere. Johnson adopts
this derivation, and sense: so that _begetter_, in the quaint language
of Thorpe, the Bookseller, Pistol, the _ancient_, and such affected
persons, signified the _obtainer_; as to _get_, and _getter_, in the
present day, means _obtain_, and _obtainer_, or to procure, and the

We must, infer, therefore, from this explanation of the word, that Mr.
W. H. had influence enough to _obtain_ the manuscript from the poet,
and that he lodged it in Thorpe's hands for the purpose of publication,
a favour which the bookseller returned, by wishing him _all happiness
and that eternity_ which had been _promised_ by the bard, in such
glowing colours, to another, namely, to one of the immediate subjects
of his sonnets.

That this is the only rational meaning which can be annexed to the
word "promised," will appear, when we reflect that for Thorpe to have
_wished_ W. H. the _eternity_ which had been promised _him_ by an
_ever-living_ poet, would have been not only superfluous, but downright
nonsense: the _eternity_ of an _ever-living_ poet must _necessarily
ensue_, and was a proper subject of _congratulation_, but not of
_wishing_ or of _hope_.

It appears also that this dedication was understood in the same
light by some of the earlier editors of the sonnets. Cotes, it is
true, republished them in 1640 without a commentary; but when Gildon
re-printed them in 1710, he gives it as his opinion that they were _all
of them in praise of his mistress_; and Dr. Sewell, when he edited them
in 1728, had embraced a similar idea, for he tells us, in reference to
our author's example, that "A young muse must have _a mistress_, to
play off the beginning of fancy; nothing being so apt to elevate the
soul to a pitch of poetry, as the passion of love."[59:A]

The conclusion of these editors remained undisputed for more than half
a century, when Mr. Malone, in 1780, published his Supplement to the
Edition of Shakspeare's Plays of 1778, which includes the Sonnets of
the poet, accompanied by his own notes, and those of his friends.
Here, beside the opinion which he has himself avowed, he has given the
conjectures of Dr. Farmer, and Mr. Tyrwhitt, and the decision of Mr.

All these gentlemen concur in believing, that more than one hundred
of our author's sonnets are addressed to a _male object_. Dr. Farmer,
influenced by the _initials_ in the dedication, supposes that Mr.
William Harte, the poet's nephew, was the object in question; but
a reference to the Stratford Register completely overturns this
hypothesis, for it there appears, that William, eldest son of William
Harte, who married Shakspeare's Sister Joan, was baptized August 28th,
1600, and consequently could not be even in existence when the greater
part of these compositions were written.

Mr. Tyrwhitt, founding his conjecture on a line in the twentieth
sonnet, which is thus printed in the old copy,

    "A man in _hew_ all _Hews_ in his controlling,"

conceives that the letters W. H. were intended to imply _William
Hughes_. If we recollect, however, our bard's uncontrollable passion
for playing upon words; that _hew_ frequently meant, in the usage of
his time, _mien_ and _appearance_, as well as _tint_, and that Daniel,
who was probably his archetype in these pieces, has spelt it in the
same way, and once, if not oftener, for the sake of emphasis, with a
capital[60:A], we shall not feel inclined to place such reliance on
this supposition.

When Mr. Steevens, in 1766, annexed a reprint of the sonnets to
Shakspeare's plays, from the quarto editions, he hazarded no
observations on their scope or origin; but in Malone's Supplement, he
ventured, in a note on the twentieth sonnet, to declare his conviction
that it was addressed to a _male object_.[60:B]

Lastly, Mr. Malone, in the Supplement just mentioned, after specifying
his concurrence in the conjecture of Mr. Tyrwhitt, adds—"To this
person, whoever he was, one hundred and twenty of the following
poems are addressed; the remaining twenty-eight are addressed to a

Thus the matter rested on the decision of these four celebrated
commentators, who were uniform in assorting their belief, that
Shakspeare had addressed the greater part of his sonnets to a man,
when Mr. George Chalmers in 1797, in his "Apology for the Believers
in the Shakspeare Papers," attempted to overturn their conclusion, by
endeavouring to prove that the whole of the Sonnets had been addressed
by Shakspeare to Queen Elizabeth; a position which he labours to
strengthen, by additional research, in his "Supplemental Apology" of

That Mr. Chalmers, however, notwithstanding all his industry and
ingenuity, has failed in establishing his point, must be the
acknowledgment of every one who has perused the sonnets with attention.
Indeed the phraseology of Shakspeare so positively indicates a _male
object_, that, if it cannot, in this respect, be reposed on, we may
venture to assert, that no language, however explicit, is entitled
to confidence. Nothing but extreme carelessness could have induced
Gildon and Sewell to conceive that the prior part of these sonnets was
directed to _a female_, and even Mr. Chalmers himself is compelled to
convert his Queen into _a man_, before he can give any plausibility
to his hypothesis. That Elizabeth, in _her capacity of a sovereign_,
was frequently addressed in language strictly applicable to the _male_
sex, is very true, and such has been the custom to almost every female
_sovereign_; but that she should be thus metamorphosed, for the express
purpose of wooing her by amatory sonnets, is a position which cannot be
expected to obtain credit.

The question then returns upon us, _To whom are these sonnets
addressed?_ We agree with Farmer, Tyrwhitt, Steevens, and Malone, in
thinking the object of the greater part of the sonnets to have been
of the _male_ sex; but, for the reasons already assigned, we cannot
concede that either Harte or Hughes was the individual.

If we may be allowed, in our turn, to conjecture, we would fix upon
LORD SOUTHAMPTON as the subject of Shakspeare's sonnets, from
the first to the hundredth and twenty-sixth, inclusive.

Before we enter, however, on the quotation of such passages as are
calculated to give probability to our conclusion, it will be necessary
to show that, in the age of Shakspeare, the language of _love_ and
_friendship_ was mutually convertible. The terms _lover_ and _love_,
indeed, were as often applied to those of the same sex who had an
esteem for each other, as they are now exclusively directed to express
the love of the male for the female. Thus, for instance, Ben Johnson
subscribes himself the _lover_ of Camden, and tells Dr. Donne, at the
close of a letter to him, that he is his "ever true _lover_;" and with
the same import, Drayton, in a letter to Drummond of Hawthornden,
informs him, that Mr. Joseph Davis is in _love_ with him. Shakspeare,
in his _Dramas_, frequently adopts the same phraseology in expressing
the relations of friendship: Portia, for example, in the _Merchant of
Venice_, speaking of Antonio, says,

    ————————————— "this Antonio,
    Being the bosom _lover_ of my lord:"

and in _Coriolanus_, Menenius exclaims,

    —————— "I tell thee, fellow,
    Thy general is my _lover_:"[62:A]

but it is to his _Poems_ that we must refer for a complete and
extensive proof of this perplexing ambiguity of diction, which will
gradually unfold itself as we proceed to quote instances in support of
Lord Southampton's being the subject of his muse.

That Shakspeare was, at the same time, attached by _friendship_, and by
_love_; that, according to the fashion of his age, he employed the same
epithet for both, though, in one instance, at least, he has accurately
distinguished the sexes, positively appears from the opening stanza of
a sonnet in the _Passionate Pilgrim_ of 1599:—

    "_Two loves_ I have of comfort and despair,
     Which like two spirits do suggest me still;
     The _better angel_ is a _man_ right fair,
     The worser spirit a _woman_, coloured ill."[63:A]

That this _better angel_ was _Lord Southampton_, and that to him was
addressed the number of sonnets mentioned above, we shall now endeavour
to substantiate.

Perhaps one of the most striking proofs of this position, is the
hitherto unnoticed fact, that the language of the _Dedication to the
Rape of Lucrece_, and that of part of the _twenty-sixth sonnet_, are
almost precisely the same.

The _Dedication_ runs thus:—"The _love_ I dedicate to your Lordship is
without end;—The warrant I have of your honourable disposition, not
the worth of my untutored lines, makes it assured of acceptance. What
I have done is yours, what I have to do is yours; being part in all I
have devoted yours. Were my worth greater, my duty would shew greater."

The _Sonnet_ is as follows:

    "_Lord of my love_, to whom in vassalage
     Thy merit hath my duty strongly knit,
     To thee I send this written embassage,
     To witness duty, not to show my wit.
     Duty so great, which wit so poor as mine
     May make seem bare, in wanting words to show it."

Here, in the first place, it may be observed, that in his _prose_,
as well as in his _verse_, our author uses the same _amatory_
language; for he opens the dedication to His Lordship with the
assurance that _his love for him is without end_. In correspondence
with this declaration, the sonnet commences with this remarkable
expression,—_Lord of my love_; while the residue tells us, in exact
conformity with the prose address, his high sense of His Lordship's
merit and his own unworthiness.

That no doubt may remain of the meaning and direction of this peculiar
phraseology, we shall bring forward a few lines from the 110th sonnet,
which, uniting the language of both the passages just quoted, most
incontrovertibly designates the sex, and, at the same time, we think,
the individual to whom they are addressed:—

    ———————————— "My best of love,
    Now all is done, _save what shall have no end_:
    Mine appetite I never more will grind
    On newer proof, to try an _older friend_,
    _A God in love_, to whom I am confin'd."

Before we proceed any further, however, it may be necessary to obviate
an objection to our hypothesis which must immediately suggest itself.
It will be said, that the first _seventeen_ sonnets are written for the
sole purpose of persuading their object to marry, and how could this
exhortation be applicable to Lord Southampton, who, from the year 1594
to the year 1599 was the devoted admirer of _the faire Mrs. Varnon_?

To remove this apparent incongruity, we have only to recollect, that
His Lordship's attachment to his mistress met with the most _decided
and relentless opposition_ from the Queen; and there is every reason to
infer, from the _voluntary_ absences of the Earl in the years 1597 and
1598, and the _extreme distress_ of his mistress _on these occasions_,
that the connection had been twice given up, on his part, in deference
to the will of his capricious sovereign.

Shakspeare, when his friend at the age of twenty-one was first smitten
with the charms of Elizabeth Vernon, was high in His Lordship's
confidence and favour, as the dedication of his _Lucrece_, at this
period, fully evinces. We also know, that the Earl was very indignant
at the interference of the Queen; that he very reluctantly submitted,
for some years, to her cruel restrictions in this affair; and if, in
conformity with his constitutional irritability of temper, and the
natural impulse of passion on such a subject, we merely admit, his
having declared what every lover would be tempted to utter on the
occasion, _that if he could not marry the object of his choice, he
would die single_, a complete key will be given to what has hitherto
proved inexplicable.

It immediately, indeed, and most satisfactorily accounts for four
circumstances, not to be explained on any other plan. It affords,
in the _first_ place, an easy and natural clue to the poet's
expostulatory language, who, being ardently attached to his patron,
wished, of course, to see him happy either in the possession of his
first choice or in the arms of a second, and, therefore, reprobates,
in strong terms, such a premature vow of celibacy: it gives in the
_second_ place, an adequate solution of the question, why so few as
only seventeen sonnets, and these the earliest in the collection,
are employed to enforce the argument? for when His Lordship, on his
return to London from the continent in 1598, embraced the resolution
of marrying his mistress, notwithstanding the continued opposition
of the Queen, all ground for further expostulation was instantly
withdrawn. These seventeen sonnets, therefore, were written between
the years 1594 and 1598, and were consequently among those noticed by
Meres in 1598, as in private circulation: in the _third_ place, it
assigns a sufficient motive for withholding from public view, until
after the death of the Queen, a collection of which part was written
to counteract her known wishes, by exciting the Earl to form an early
and independent choice: and in the _fourth_ place it furnishes a cogent
reason why Jaggard, in his surreptitious edition of the _Passionate
Pilgrim_ in 1599, did not dare to publish any of these sonnets, at
a time when Southampton and his lady were imprisoned by the enraged
Elizabeth, as a punishment for their clandestine union.

Having thus, satisfactorily as we think, not only removed the objection
but strikingly corroborated the argument through the medium of our
defence, we shall select a few passages from these initiatory sonnets
in order still further to show the _masculine_ nature of their object,
and to give a specimen of the poet's expostulatory freedom:—

    "—— Where is _she so fair_, whose _un-ear'd womb_
     Disdains the _tillage of thy husbandry_?
     Or who is _he_ so fond, will be the tomb
     Of _his_ self-love, to stop posterity."
                                                   Sonnet 3.

    "—— thou — — — —
     Unlook'd on diest, unless thou _get a son_."
                                                     Son. 7.

    "The world will be _thy widow_ and still weep—
     No love toward others in that bosom sits,
     That on _himself_ such murderous shame commits."
                                                     Son. 9.

    "—— —— —— —— Dear my love, you know,
     You had a _father_; _let your son say so_."
                                                    Son. 13.

    "Now stand you on the top of happy hours;
     And many _maiden_ garlands yet unset,
     With virtuous wish _would bear you living flowers_."
                                                    Son. 16.

If more instances were wanting to prove that Shakspeare's object was a
_male_ friend, a multitude might be quoted from the remaining sonnets;
we shall content ourselves, however, with adding a few to those already
given from the first seventeen:—

    "O carve not with thy hours my love's fair brow,
     Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen;
     _Him_ in thy course untainted do allow,
     For beauty's _pattern to succeeding men_."
                                                    Son. 19.

    "_His_ beauty shall in these black lines be seen,
     And they shall live, and _he_ in them still green."
                                                    Son. 63.

The transcription of one entire sonnet will spare further quotation, as
it must prove, against all the efforts of sophistry, the sex for which
we contend:

    "AH! wherefore with infection should HE live
     And with HIS presence grace impiety.
     That sin by HIM advantage should atchieve,
     And lace itself with HIS society.
     Why should false painting imitate HIS cheek,
     And steal dead seeing of HIS living hue?
     Why should poor beauty indirectly seek
     Roses of shadow, since HIS rose is true?
     Why should HE live now Nature bankrupt is,
     Beggar'd of blood to blush through lively veins?
     For she hath no exchequer now but HIS,
     And proud of many, lives upon HIS gains.
       O, HIM she stores, to show what wealth she had,
       In days long since, before these last so bad."
                                                    Son. 67.

The subsequent sonnets, likewise, as far as the hundred and
twenty-seventh, which appear to have been written at various periods
anterior to 1609, not only bear the strongest additional testimony
to the mascularity of the person addressed, but in several instances
clearly evince the nature of the affection borne to him, which without
any doubt consisted solely of ardent friendship and intellectual
adoration. Two entire sonnets, indeed, are dedicated to the expression
of these sentiments, in the first of which he tells his noble patron,
that he had absorbed in his own person all the friendship which he
(Shakspeare) had ever borne to the living or the dead, and he finely
terms this attachment "_religious love_." In thy bosom he exclaims—

    "—— there reigns love and all love's loving parts,
     And all those friends which I thought buried.
     How many a holy and obsequious tear
     Hath dear religious love stolen from mine eye,
     As interest of the dead, which now appear
     But things remov'd, that hidden in thee lie!
     Thou art the grave where buried love doth live,
     Hung with the trophies of my lovers[67:A] gone;
     Who all their parts of me to thee did give;
     That due of many now is thine alone:"
                                                    Son. 31.

and in the second he says, addressing the same friend, that when Death
arrests him, his verse

    "—— for memorial still with thee shall stay.
     When thou reviewest this, thou dost review
     _The very part was consecrate to thee_."
                                                    Son. 74.

That Shakspeare looked up to his friend not only with admiration and
gratitude, but with reverence and homage, and, consequently, that
neither William Harte nor William Hughes, nor any person of his own
rank in society could be the subject of his verse, must be evident from
the passages already adduced, and will be still more so when we weigh
the import of the following extracts.

We are told, in the seventy-eighth sonnet, what, indeed, we might have
supposed from the Earl's well-known munificence to literary men, that
he was the theme of every muse; and it is added, that his patronage
gave dignity to learning and majesty to grace:—

    "So oft have I invoked thee for my muse,
     And found such fair assistance in my verse,
     As every alien pen hath got my use,
     And under thee their poesy disperse.
     Thine eyes, that taught the dumb on high to sing,
     And heavy ignorance aloft to fly,
     Have added feathers to the learned's wing,
     And given grace a double majesty.
     Yet be most proud of that which I compile,
     Whose influence is thine, and born of thee."

In his ninety-first sonnet the poet informs us, that he values the
affection of his friend more than riches, birth, or splendour,
finishing his eulogium by asserting that he was not _his peculiar_
boast, but the _pride of all men_:—

    "Thy love is better than high birth to me,
     Richer than wealth, prouder than garment's cost,
     Of more delight than hawks or horses be,
     And having thee, of all men's pride I boast."

But in terms the most emphatic and explicit does he point to his
object, in the sonnet which we are about to quote entire, distinctly
marking the _sex_, the _dignity_, the _rank_, and _moral virtue_ of his

    "O TRUANT Muse, what shall be thy amends,
     For thy neglect of TRUTH IN BEAUTY DY'D?
     Make answer, Muse: wilt thou not haply say,
     'Truth needs no colour, with his colour fix'd,
     Beauty no pencil, beauty's truth to lay:
     But best is best, if never intermix'd?—'
     Because HE needs no praise, wilt thou be dumb?
     Excuse not silence so; for it lies in thee
     To make HIM much out-live a GILDED TOMB,
     And to be prais'd of ages yet to be.
       Then do thy office, Muse; I teach thee how
       To make HIM seem long hence as HE shows now."
                                                   Son. 101.

To whom can this sonnet, or indeed all the passages which we have
quoted apply, if not to Lord Southampton, the bosom-friend, the
munificent patron of Shakspeare, the noble, the elegant, the brave, the
protector of literature and the theme of many a song. And let it be
remembered, that if the hundreth and first sonnet be justly ascribed to
Lord Southampton, or if any one of the passages which we have adduced,
be fairly applicable to him, the whole of the hundred and twenty-six
sonnets must necessarily apply to the same individual, for the poet has
more than once affirmed this to have been his plan and object:

    "Why write I still _all one, ever the same_—
     That every word doth almost tell my name."
                                                    Son. 76.

    —— "_all alike my songs, and praises be_
    To _one_, of _one_, still such and ever so."
                                                   Son. 105.

It may be objected, that the opening and closing sonnet of the
collection which we conceive to be exclusively devoted to Lord
Southampton, admit neither of reconcilement with each other, nor with
the hypothesis which we wish to establish. This discrepancy, however,
will altogether vanish, if we compare the import of these sonnets with
that of two others of the same series.

It will be allowed that the expressions, "_the world's fresh
ornament_," the "_only herald to the gaudy spring_," and the epithets
"_tender churl_," in the first sonnet, may with great propriety be
applied to a young nobleman of twenty-one, just entering on a public
and splendid career; but, if it be true, that these sonnets were
written at various times, between the years 1594 and 1609, how comes
it, that in the hundred and twenty-sixth, the last addressed to his
patron, he still uses an equally youthful designation, and terms him
"_my lovely boy_," an appellation certainly not then adapted to His
Lordship, who, in 1609, was in his thirty-sixth year?

That the sonnets _were_ written at different periods, he tells us in
an apology to his noble friend for not addressing him so frequently
as he used to do at the commencement of their intimacy, assigning as
a reason, that as he was now the theme of various other poets, such
addresses must have lost their zest:

    "Our love was new, and then but in the spring,
     When I was wont to greet it with my lays;
     As Philomel in summer's front doth sing,
     And stops his pipe in growth of riper days:
     Not that the summer is less pleasant now
     Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night,
     But that wild musick burdens every bough,
     And sweets grown common lose their dear delight.
       Therefore, like her, I sometime hold my tongue,
       Because I would not dull you with my song."
                                                   Son. 102.

The mystery arising from the use of the juvenile epithets, he
completely clears up in his hundred and eighth sonnet, where he says,
that having exhausted every figure to express his patron's merit
and his own affection, he is compelled to say the same things over
again; that he is determined to consider him as young as when _he
first hallowed his fair name_; that friendship, in fact, weighs not
the advance of life, but adheres to its first conception, when youth
and beauty clothed the object of its regard. In pursuance of this
determination, he calls him, in this very sonnet, "_sweet boy_;" but it
will be more satisfactory to copy the entire poem, in order to show,
that our interpretation is not, in the smallest degree, strained:—

    "WHAT'S in the brain that ink may character,
     Which hath not figur'd to thee my true spirit?
     What's new to speak, what new to register,
     That may express my love, or thy dear merit?
     Nothing, _sweet boy_; but yet, like prayers divine,
     I must each day say o'er the very same;
     _Counting no old thing old, thou mine, I thine,
     Even as when first I hallowed thy fair name.
     So that eternal love in love's fresh case
     Weighs not the dust and injury of age,
     Nor gives to necessary wrinkles place,
     But makes antiquity for aye his page;
       Finding the first conceit of love there bred,
       Where time and outward form would show it dead._"

In conformity with this resolution of considering his friend as endowed
whilst he lives with perpetual youth, he closes his sonnets to him,
not only with the repetition of the juvenile epithet "_boy_," but he
positively assures him that he has _time in his power_, that _he grows
by waning_, and that _nature, as he goes onward, still plucks him back,
in order to disgrace time_. The conceit is somewhat puerile, though
clearly explanatory of the systematic intention of the poet:

    "O thou, _my lovely boy, who in thy power
     Dost hold time's fickle glass_, his fickle hour;
     Who hast _by waning grown_, and therein show'st
     Thy lovers withering, as thy sweet self grow'st;
     If _nature_, sovereign mistress over wrack,
     _As thou goest onwards, still will pluck thee back_,
     She keeps thee to this purpose, that her skill
     _May time disgrace_, and wretched minutes kill."

He terminates this sonnet, however, and his series of poetical
addresses to Lord Southampton, with a powerful corrective of all
flattery, in reminding him that although nature "_may detain_," she
cannot "_keep her treasure_," and that he must ultimately yield to

We must also observe, that the poet has marked the termination of these
sonnets to his friend, not only by the solemn nature of the concluding
sentiment, but by a striking deviation from the customary form of his
composition in these pieces; the closing poem not being constructed
with alternate rhimes, but consisting of six couplets!

After thus attempting, at considerable length, and we trust with
some success, to solve a mystery hitherto deemed inexplicable, we
shall offer but a few observations on the object of the remaining
twenty-eight sonnets.

In the first place, it is not true, as Mr. Malone has asserted, that
they are _all_ addressed to a female. Two, at least, have not the
slightest reference to any individual; the hundred and twenty-ninth
sonnet being a general and moral declamation on the misery resulting
from sensual love, and the hundred and forty-sixth, an address to his
own soul of a somewhat severe and religious cast.

Of the residue, four have no very determinate application, and to whom
the twenty-two are dedicated, is not now to be ascertained, and, if
it were, not worth the enquiry; for, a more worthless character, or
described as such in stronger terms, no poet ever drew. We much wish,
indeed, these sonnets had never been published, or that their subject
could be proved to have been perfectly ideal. We are the more willing
to consider them in this light, since, if we dismiss these confessional
sonnets, not the slightest moral stain can rest on the character of
Shakspeare; as the frolic in Sir Thomas Lucy's park, from his youth,
and the circumstances attending it, must be deemed altogether venial.
It is very improbable, also, that any poet should publish such an open
confession of his own culpability.

Of the grossly meretricious conduct of his mistress, of whose personal
charms and accomplishments we know nothing more than that she had
black eyes, black hair, and could play on the virginal, Sonnets 137.
142. and 144. bear the most indubitable evidence. Well, therefore,
might the poet term her his "_false plague_," his "_worser spirit_,"
his "_female evil_," and his "_bad angel_;" well might he tell her,
notwithstanding the colour of her eyes and hair,

    "Thy black is fairest in my judgment's place;
       _In nothing art thou black, save in thy deeds_."
                                                   Son. 131.

    "For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright,
     _Who art as black as hell, as dark as night_."
                                                   Son. 147.

Well might he blame his pliability of temper, his insufficiency of
judgment and resolution, well might he call himself "_past cure_," and
"_frantick-mad_," when, addressing this profligate woman, he exclaims,

    "Whence hast thou this becoming of things ill,
     That in the very refuse of thy deeds
     There is such strength and warrantise of skill,
     That in my mind, thy worst all best exceeds?
     Who taught thee how _to make me love thee more,
     The more I hear and see just cause of hate_?
     O, _though I love what others do abhor_,
     With others thou should'st not abhor my state;
       If thy unworthiness rais'd love in me,
       More worthy I to be belov'd by thee."[73:A]
                                                   Son. 150.

Now, weighing, what almost every other personal event in our author's
life establishes, the general moral beauty of his character, and
reflecting, at the same time, that he was at this period a husband,
and the father of a family, we cannot but feel _the most entire
conviction_, that these sonnets were never directed to a _real_ object:
but that, notwithstanding they appear written in his own person, and
two of them, indeed, (Sonnets 135. and 136.) a perpetual pun on his
Christian name, they were solely intended to express, aloof from all
individual application, the contrarieties, the inconsistencies, and the
miseries of illicit love. Credulity itself, we think, cannot suppose
otherwise, and, at the same time, believe that the poet was privy to
their publication.

To this discussion of a subject clogged with so many difficulties, we
shall now subjoin some remarks on the _poetical_ merits and demerits
of our author's sonnets; and here, we are irresistibly induced to
notice the absurd charge against, and the inadequate defence of,
sonnet-writing, brought forward by Messrs. Steevens and Malone, in the
Supplement of the latter gentleman.[74:A]

The antipathy of Mr. Steevens to this species of lyric poetry, seems
to have amounted to the highest pitch of extravagance. In a note on
the fifty-fourth sonnet, he asks, "What has truth or nature to do
with sonnets?" as if truth and nature were confined to any particular
metre or mode of composition; and, in a subsequent page, he informs
us that the sonnet is "a species of composition which has reduced the
most exalted poets to a level with the meanest rhimers; has almost
cut down Milton and Shakspeare to the standards of Pomfret and——but
the name of Pomfret is perhaps the lowest in the scale of English
versifiers."[74:B] Nothing can exceed the futility and bad taste of
this remark, and yet Mr. Malone has advanced no other defence of the
"exalted poets" of Italy than that, "_he is slow to believe that
Petrarch is without merit_;" and for Milton he offers this strange
apology,—"_that he generally failed when he attempted rhime, whether
his verses assumed the shape of a sonnet, or any other form_."[74:C]

When we recollect, that the noblest poets of Italy, from Dante to
Alfieri, have employed their talents in the construction of the sonnet,
and that many of their most popular and beautiful passages have been
derived through this medium; when we recollect, that the first bards of
our own country, from Surrey to Southey, have followed their example
with an emulation which has conferred immortality on their efforts;
when we further call to mind the exquisite specimens of rhimed poetry
which Milton has given us in his L'Allegro and Il Penseroso; and when,
above all, we retrace the dignity, the simplicity, the moral sublimity
of many of his sonnets, perhaps not surpassed by any other part of his
works, we stand amazed at the unqualified censure on the one hand, and
at the impotency of the defence on the other.

If such be the fate, then, between these commentators, of the general
question, and of the one more peculiarly relative to Milton, it
cannot be expected that Shakspeare should meet with milder treatment.
In fact, Mr. Steevens has asserted, that his sonnets are "composed
in the highest strain of affectation, pedantry, circumlocution, and
nonsense[75:A];" a picture which Mr. Malone endeavours to soften, by
telling us that "it appears to him overcharged:" that similar defects
occur in his dramas, and that the sonnets, "if they have no other
merit, are entitled to our attention, as often illustrating obscure
passages in his plays."[75:B]

It is true that in the next paragraph he ventures to declare, that he
cannot perceive that their versification is less smooth than that of
Shakspeare's other compositions, and that he can perceive perspicuity
and energy in some of them; but well might Mr. Steevens reply, that
"the case of these sonnets is certainly bad, when so little can be
advanced in support of them."[75:C]

Let us try, therefore, if _we_ cannot, and that also with great ease,
prove that these sonnets have been not only miserably criticised, but
unmercifully abused; and that, in point of poetical merit, they are
superior to all those which preceded the era of Drummond.

In the first place, then, we altogether deny that either affectation
or pedantry can, in the proper sense of the terms, be applied to the
sonnets of Shakspeare. Were any modern, indeed, of the nineteenth
century to adopt their language and style, he might justly be taxed
with both; but in Sidney and Shakspeare it was habit, indissoluble
habit, and not affectation; it was the diction in which they had been
practised from early youth to clothe their sentiments and feelings; it
was identified with all their associations and intellectual operations;
it was the language, in fact, the mode of expression, in a greater
or less degree, of all their contemporaries; and to have stripped
their thoughts of a dress, which to us appears quaint and artificial,
would have been to them a painful and more elaborate task. When once,
indeed, we can attribute this artificial, though often emphatic style,
as we ought to do, to the universally defective taste of the age in
which it sprang, and not to individual usage, we shall be prepared
to do justice to injured genius, and to confess, that frequently
beneath this laboured phraseology are to be found sentiments simple,
natural, and touching. We may also very safely affirm of Shakspeare's
sonnets, that, if their style be compared with that of his predecessors
and contemporaries, in the same department of poetry, a manifest
superiority must often be awarded him, on the score of force, dignity,
and simplicity of expression; qualities of which we shall very soon
afford the reader some striking instances.

To a certain extent, we must admit the charge of _circumlocution_,
not as applied to individual sonnets, but to the subject on which
the whole series is written. The obscurities of this species of poem
have almost uniformly arisen from density and compression of style,
nor are the compositions of Shakspeare more than usually free from
this source of defect; but when it is considered that our author has
written one hundred and twenty-six sonnets for the sole purpose of
expressing his attachment to his patron, it must necessarily follow,
that a subject so continually reiterated, would display no small share
of circumlocution. Great ingenuity has been exhibited by the poet in
varying his phraseology and ideas; but no effort could possibly obviate
the monotony, as the result of such a task.

We shall not condescend to a refutation of the _fourth_ epithet, which,
if at all applicable to any portion of Shakspeare's minor poems, can
alone apply to Sonnets 135. and 136., which are a continued pun upon
his Christian name, a species of trifling which was the peculiar vice
of our author's age.

That an attempt to exhaust the subject of friendship; to say all that
could be collected on the topic, would almost certainly lead, in the
days of Shakspeare, to abstractions too subtile and metaphysical,
and to a cast of diction sometimes too artificial and scholastic for
modern taste, no person well acquainted with the progress of our
literature can deny; but candour will, at the same time, admit, that
the expression and versification of his sonnets are often natural,
spirited, and harmonious, and that where the surface has been rendered
hard and repulsive by the peculiarities of the period of their
production, we have only to search beneath, in order to discover a rich
ore of thought, imagery, and sentiment.

It has been stated that Shakspeare's sonnets, consisting of three
elegiac quatrains and a couplet, are constructed on the plan of
Daniel's; a mode of arrangement which, though bearing no similitude to
the elaborate involution of the Petrarchan sonnet, may be praised for
the simplicity of its form, and the easy flow of its verse; and that
these technical beauties have often been preserved by our bard, and
are frequently the medium through which he displays the treasures of a
fervent fancy and a feeling heart, we shall now attempt, by a series of
extracts, to prove.

The description of the sun in his course, his rising, meridian
altitude, and setting, and his influence over the human mind, are
enlivened by imagery peculiarly vivid and rich; the seventh and eighth
lines especially, contain a picture of a great beauty:—

    "Lo in the orient when the gracious light
     Lifts up his burning head, each under eye
     Doth homage to his new-appearing sight,
     Serving with looks his sacred majesty;
     And having climb'd the steep-up heavenly hill,
     Resembling strong youth in his middle age,
     Yet mortal looks adore his beauty still,
     Attending on his golden pilgrimage;
     But when from high-most pitch, with weary car,
     Like feeble age, he reeleth from the day,
     The eyes, 'fore duteous, now converted are
     From his low tract, and look another way:
           So thou," &c.
                                                     Son. 7.

The inevitable effects of time over every object in physical nature,
reminding the poet of the disastrous changes incident to human life, he
exclaims in a style highly figurative and picturesque:—

    "When I do count the clock that tells the time,
     And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
     When I behold the violet past prime,
     And sable curls, all silver'd o'er with white;
     When lofty trees I see barren of leaves,
     Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
     And summer's green all girded up in sheaves,
     Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard;
     Then of thy beauty do I question make."
                                                    Son. 12.

A still more lovely sketch, illustrative of the uneasiness which he
felt in consequence of absence from his friend, is given us in the
following passage, of which the third and fourth lines are pre-eminent
for the poetry of their diction:—

    "From you have I been absent in the Spring,
     When proud-pied April, dress'd in all his trim,
     Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing;
     That heavy Saturn laugh'd and leap'd with him.
     Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
     Of different flowers in odour and in hue,
     Could make me any summer's story tell,
     Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew."
                                                    Son. 98.

To the melody, perspicuity, and spirit of the versification of the
next specimen, and to the exquisite turn upon the words, too much
praise cannot be given. It is one amongst the numerous evidences of
Lord Southampton being the subject of the great bulk of our author's
sonnets; for he assures us, that he not only esteemed his lays, but
gave argument and skill to his pen:—

    "_Where art thou, Muse_, that thou _forget'st_ so long
     To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?
     Spend'st thou thy fury on some worthless song,
     Dark'ning thy power, to lend base subjects light?
     _Return, forgetful Muse_, and straight redeem
     In gentle numbers time so idly spent;
     Sing to the ear that doth thy lays esteem,
     And gives thy pen both skill and argument."
                                                   Son. 100.

From the expressions "old rhyme," and "antique pen," in the extract
which we are about to quote, it is highly probable that our bard
alluded to Chaucer, certainly before his own appearance the greatest
poet that England had produced. The chivalric picture in the first
quatrain, is peculiarly interesting, and the cadence of the metre is
harmony itself:—

    "When, in the chronicle of wasted time,
     I see descriptions of the fairest wights,
     And beauty making beautiful old rhime,
     In praise of ladies dead, and lovely knights;
     Then, in the blazon of sweet beauty's best,
     Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,
     I see their antique pen would have express'd
     Even such a beauty as you master now."
                                                   Son. 106.

It is a striking proof of the poetical inferiority of the few
sonnets which Shakspeare has addressed to his mistress, that we find
it difficult to select more than one passage from them which does
honour to his memory. Of this, however, it will be allowed, that the
comparison is happy, the rhythm pleasing, and the expression clear:—

    "And truly not the morning sun of heaven
     Better becomes the grey cheeks of the east,
     Nor that full star that ushers in the even,
     Doth half that glory to the sober west,
     As those two mourning eyes become thy face."
                                                   Son. 132.

In order, however, to judge satisfactorily of the merit of these
poems, it will, no doubt, be deemed necessary by the reader, that
a few _entire_ sonnets be presented to his notice; for, though the
passages just quoted, as well as numerous others which might be given,
have a decided claim upon our approbation, yet, the sonnet being a
very brief composition, it will, of course, be required, that all its
parts be perfect, and of equal value. That this is not always the
case with these productions of our author, will be inferred from the
short extracts which we have selected; but that it is so in very many
instances may truly be affirmed, and will, indeed, be proved by the
subsequent specimens.

So far from affectation and pedantry being the general characteristic
of these pieces, impartial criticism must declare, that more frequent
examples of simple, clear, and nervous diction are to be culled from
them, than can be found among the sonnets of any of his contemporaries.
The following, indeed, is given, not as a solitary proof, but as the
exemplar of a numerous class of Shakspearean sonnets; and with the
remark, that neither in this instance, nor in many others, is there,
either in versification, language, or thought, the smallest deviation
into the regions of affectation or conceit:—

    "NO longer mourn for me when I am dead,
     Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
     Give warning to the world that I am fled
     From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell:
     Nay, if you read this line, remember not
     The hand that writ it; for I love you so,
     That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot,
     If thinking on me then should make you woe.
     O if, I say, you look upon this verse,
     When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
     Do not so much as my poor name rehearse;
     But let your love even with my life decay:
       Lest the wise world should look into your moan,
       And mock you with me after I am gone."
                                                    Son. 71.

Simplicity of style, and tenderness of sentiment, form the sole
features of this sonnet; but in the next, with an equal chastity of
diction, are combined more energy and dignity, together with the
infusion of some noble and appropriate imagery. It must also be added,
that the flow and structure of the verse are singularly pleasing:—

    "LET me not to the marriage of true minds
     Admit impediments. Love is not love
     Which alters when it alteration finds,
     Or bends with the remover to remove:
     O no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
     That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
     It is the star to every wandering bark,
     Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
     Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
     Within his bending sickle's compass come;
     Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
     But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
       If this be error, and upon me prov'd,
       I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd."
                                                   Son. 116.

Of a lighter though more glowing cast of poetry, both in expression and
imagination, but with a slight blemish, arising from the pharmaceutical
allusion in the last line, is the sonnet which we are about to quote.
A trifling inaccuracy with respect to the colour of the cynorhodon,
or canker-rose, afforded Mr. Steevens a pretext for the splenetic
interrogation which has been recorded by us with due censure. It is
somewhat strange that the beauties of the poem could not disarm the
prejudices of the critic:

    "O HOW much more doth beauty beauteous seem,
     By that sweet ornament which truth doth give!
     The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
     For that sweet odour which doth in it live.
     The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye,
     As the perfumed tincture of the roses,
     Hang on such thorns, and play as wantonly
     When summer's breath their masked buds discloses:
     But, for their virtue only is their show,
     They live unwoo'd, and unrespected fade;
     Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so;
     Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made:
       And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth,
       When that shall fade, my verse distills your truth."
                                                    Son. 54.

In spirit, however, in elegance, in the skill and texture of its
modulation, and beyond all, in the dignified and highly poetical
close of the third quatrain, no one of our author's sonnets excels
the twenty-ninth. The ascent of the lark was a favourite subject of
contemplation with the poet:—

    "WHEN in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
     I all alone beweep my outcast state,
     And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
     And look upon myself, and curse my fate.
     Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
     Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
     Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
     With what I most enjoy contented least;
     Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
     Haply I think on thee,—and then my state,
     Like to the lark at break of day arising
     From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
       For thy sweet love remember'd, such wealth brings,
       That then I scorn to change my state with kings."

It is, time, however, to terminate these transcriptions, which have
been already sufficiently numerous to enable the reader to form an
estimate of the poet's merit in the difficult task of sonnet-writing.
That many more might be brought forward, of equal value with those
which we have selected, will be allowed perhaps when we state, that in
the _specimens_ of Mr. Ellis, the _Petrarca_ of Mr. Henderson, and the
_Laura_ of Mr. Lofft, eleven have been chosen, of which, we find upon
reference, only one among the four just now adduced.

The last production in the _minor_ poems of Shakspeare, is A
LOVER'S COMPLAINT, in which a forlorn damsel, seduced and
deserted, relates the history of her sorrows to

    "A reverend man that graz'd his cattle nigh."

It is written in stanzas of seven lines; the first and third, and the
second, fourth, and fifth, rhiming to each other, while the sixth and
seventh form a couplet; an arrangement exactly similar to the stanza of
the Rape of Lucrece. Like many of our author's smaller pieces, it is
too full of imagery and allusion, but has several passages of great
beauty and force. In the description which this forsaken fair one gives
of the person and qualities of her lover, the following lines will be
acknowledged to possess considerable excellence:—

    "His browny locks did hang in crooked curls,
     And every light occasion of the wind
     Upon his lips their silken parcels hurls.—

     His qualities were beauteous as his form,
     For maiden-tongu'd he was, and therefore free;
     Yet, if men mov'd him, was he such a storm
     As oft 'twixt May and April is to see,
     When winds breathe sweet, unruly though they be.—

     His real habitude gave life and grace
     To appertainings and to ornament."

These, and every other portion of the poem, however, are eclipsed by
a subsequent part of the same picture, in which, as Mr. Steevens well
remarks, the poet "has accidentally delineated his own character as a
dramatist."[83:A] So applicable, indeed, did the passage appear to us,
as a forcible though rapid sketch of the more prominent features of
the author's own genius, and of his universal influence over the human
mind, that we have selected it as a motto for the second volume of this

    —— "On the tip of his subduing tongue
    All kind of arguments and question deep,
    All replication prompt, and reason strong,
    For his advantage still did wake and sleep:
    To make the weeper laugh, the laugher weep,
    He had the dialect and different skill,
    Catching all passions in his craft of will;

    That he did in the general bosom reign
    Of young, of old; and sexes both enchanted."

The address which the injured mistress puts into the mouth of her
seducer, when "he 'gan besiege her," opens in a strain of such
beautiful simplicity, that we cannot avoid an expression of regret,
that the defective taste of the age prevented its continuance and
completion in a similar style of tenderness and ease:—

    ————————————— "Gentle maid,
    Have of my suffering youth some feeling pity,
    And be not of my holy vows afraid."

After relating, rather too circumstantially, the arts and hypocrisy
which had been exercised for her ruin, she bursts into the following

    "O father, what a hell of mischief lies
     In the small orb of one particular tear!"

Various lines, and brief extracts, of no common merit, might be
detached from the Lover's Complaint; but enough has now been said on
the _Miscellaneous Poetry_ of Shakspeare, to prove that it possesses a
value far beyond what has been attributed to it in modern times. The
depreciation, indeed, to which it has been lately subjected, a fate
so directly opposed to that which accompanied its first reception in
the world, must be ascribed, in a great measure, to the unaccountable
prejudices of Mr. Steevens, who, in an Advertisement prefixed to the
edition of our author's Dramas, in 1793, has made the following curious

"We have not reprinted the Sonnets, &c. of Shakspeare, because _the
strongest act of parliament that could be framed would fail to compel
readers into their service_; notwithstanding these miscellaneous poems
have derived every possible advantage from the literature and judgment
of their only intelligent editor, Mr. Malone, whose implements of
criticism, like the ivory rake and golden spade in Prudentius, _are
on this occasion disgraced by the objects of their culture_—had
Shakspeare produced no other works than these, his name would have
reached us with as little celebrity as time has conferred on that of
Thomas Watson, an older _and much more elegant sonnetteer_."[85:A]

That Watson was a _much more elegant sonnetteer than Shakspeare_, is
an assertion which wants no other mean for its complete refutation,
than a reference to the works of the elder bard. At the period when
Mr. Steevens advanced this verdict, such a reference was not within
the power of one in a thousand of his readers, but all may now be
referred to a very satisfactory article in the _British Bibliographer_,
where Sir Egerton Brydges has transcribed seventeen of Watson's
sonnets, and declares it to be his conviction, that they "want the
moral cast" of Shakspeare's sonnets; "his unsophisticated materials;
his pure and natural train of thought."[85:B] It may be added, that a
more extended comparison would render the inferiority of Watson still
further apparent, and that the Bard of Avon would figure from the
juxta-position like "Hyperion to a satyr."

When Mr. Steevens compliments his brother-commentator at the expense
of the poet; when he tells us, that _his implements of criticism are
on this occasion disgraced by the objects of their culture_, who can
avoid feeling a mingled emotion of wonder and disgust? who can, in
short, forbear a smile of derision and contempt at the folly of such a

And lastly, when he assures us, that _the strongest act of parliament
that could be framed would fail to compel readers into the service
of our author's Miscellaneous Poetry_, and when, at the same time,
we recollect, what gives us pleasure to acknowledge, the wit, the
ingenuity, and research of this able editor on almost every other
occasion, it will not, we trust, be deemed a work of supererogation,
that we have attempted to unfold, at length, the beauties of these
calumniated poems, and to refute the sweeping censure which they have
so unworthily incurred; nor will the summary inference with which we
shall conclude this chapter, be viewed, we hope, as either incorrect,
or unauthorised by the previous disquisition, when we state it to
consist of the following terms; namely, that _the Poems of Shakspeare,
although they are chargeable with the faults peculiar to the age in
which they sprung, yet exhibit so much originality, invention, and
fidelity to nature, such a rich store of moral and philosophic thought,
and often, such a purity, simplicity, and grace of style, as not only
deservedly placed them high in the favour of his contemporaries,
but will permanently secure to them no inconsiderable share of the
admiration and the gratitude of posterity_.[86:A]


[2:A] Sydney Papers, vol. ii. p. 132.

[2:B] Venus and Adonis was entered on the Stationers' Books, by Richard
Field, April 18, 1593, six days before its author completed the
twenty-ninth year of his age.

[3:A] "There is one instance," says Rowe, who first mentioned
the anecdote, "so singular in the magnificence of this patron of
Shakspeare's, that if I had not been assured that the story was handed
down by Sir William Davenant, who was probably very well acquainted
with his affairs, I should not have ventured to have inserted; that my
Lord Southampton at one time gave him a thousand pounds, to enable him
to go through with a purchase which he heard he had a mind to. A bounty
very great, and very rare at any time."—Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p.

[5:A] Sydney Papers, vol. i. p. 348.

[5:B] "There were present, at this Council, the Earl of Southampton,
with whom, in former times, he (Essex) had been at some _emulations_,
and _differences_, at Court: But, after, Southampton, having married
his Kinswoman, plunged himself wholly into his fortune," &c.
Declaration of the Treason of the Earl of Essex, sign. D. quoted by Mr.
Chalmers, Supplement. Apology, p. 110.

[5:C] Rowland Whyte informs us, that "Lord Southampton fought with one
of the king's great men of war, and sunk her." Sydney Papers, vol. ii.
p. 72; but Sir William Monson calls this man of war "a frigate of the
Spanish fleet."

[5:D] Account of the Wars with Spain, p. 38.

[6:A] Sydney Papers, vol. ii. p. 83.

[7:A] Sydney Papers, vol. ii. p. 87.

[7:B] Ibid., p. 81.

[7:C] Ibid., p. 88.

[7:D] Ibid., p. 90.

[7:E] In a letter, dated November 2nd, 1598, Rowland Whyte says, that
Lord Southampton is about to return to England. Sydney Papers, vol. ii.
p. 104.

[8:A] Imperfect Hints towards a New Edition of Shakspeare, 4to. Part
II., Advertisement, p. xxi.

[8:B] Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 422.

[8:C] Kennet's History of England, vol. ii. p. 614.

[9:A] Vide Harrington's Nugæ Antiquæ, vol. ii. p. 33.

[11:A] Bacon's Works, Mallet's edit. vol. iv. p. 412.

[11:B] Vide Queen Elizabeth's Progresses, by Nichols, vol. ii. p. 1.

[11:C] Chalmers's Supplemental Apology, p. 311, 312.

[12:A] Wilson tells us, that "the Earl of Southampton, covered long
with the _Ashes_ of great Essex his _Ruins_, was sent for from the
Tower, and the King lookt upon him with a smiling _countenance_, though
displeasing happily to the new Baron _Essingdon_, Sir _Robert Cecil_,
yet it was much more to the Lords _Cobham_ and _Grey_, and Sir _Walter
Rawleigh_."—History of Great Britain, folio, 1653, p. 4.

[12:B] Lodge's Illustrations of British History, vol. iii. p. 270.

[13:A] Winwood's Memorials, vol. iii. p. 54.

[13:B] Lodge's Illustrations, vol. iii. p. 331.

[13:C] Winwood's Memorials, vol. iii. p. 154.

[15:A] "This Spring," relates Wilson, "gave birth to four brave
Regiments of foot (a new apparition in the English horizon) fifteen
hundred in a regiment, which were raised, and transported into Holland,
under four gallant Collonells; the Earl of Oxford, the Earl of
Southampton, the Earl of Essex, and the Lord Willoughby, since Earl of
Lindsey."—History of Great Britain, p. 280.

[16:A] History of Great Britain, p. 284.

[16:B] Cabala, p. 299.

[17:A] When Richard Brathwaite dedicated his "Survey of History, or
a Nursery for Gentry," to Lord Southampton, he terms him "Learning's
select Favourite." Vide Restituta, vol. iii. p. 340.—Nash, dedicating
his "Life of Jacke Wilton," 1594, to the same nobleman, calls him
"a dere lover and cherisher, as well of the Lovers of Poets, as of
Poets themselves;" and he emphatically adds,—"Incomprehensible is
the height of your spirit, both in heroical resolution and matters of
conceit. Unrepriveably perished that booke whatsoever to wast paper,
which on the diamond rocke of your judgement disasterly chanceth to
be shipwrackt." Jarvis Markham also addresses our English Mecænas in
a similar style, commencing a Sonnet prefixed to his "Most honorable
Tragedie of Richard Grenvile, Knt." in the following manner:—

    "Thou glorious Laurell of the Muses' hill;
     Whose eyes doth crowne the most victorious pen:
     Bright Lampe of Vertue, in whose sacred skill
     Lives all the blisse of eares-inchaunting men:"

and closes it with declaring, that if His Lordship would vouchsafe to
approve his Muse, immortality would be the result:—

    "So shall my tragick layes be blest by thee,
     And from thy lips suck their eternitie."
                          Restituta, vol. iii. pp. 410, 414.

[19:A] Beaumont's Poems. Chalmers's English Poets, vol. vi. p. 42.

[19:B] Several other tributes to the memory and virtues of Southampton
are on record. Daniel has one, commemorating his fortitude, when under
sentence of death, and the Rev. William Jones published, in 1625,
a Sermon on his decease, preached before the Countess; to which he
added, "The Teares of the Isle of Wight, shed on the tombe of their
most noble, valorous, and loving Captaine and Governour, the right
Honourable Henrie, Earle of Southampton," containing an Elegy on the
father and son written by himself; "an Episode upon the death" of Lord
Southampton, by Fra. Beale Esqr.; fifteen short pieces of poetry,
called "certain touches upon the life and death of the Right Honourable
Henrie, Earle of Southampton," by W. Pettie, and another poem on the
same subject by Ar. Price.

[19:C] Imperfect Hints towards a New Edition of Shakspeare, Part II. p.
6. 4to. 1788.

[20:A] A similar impression seems to have arisen in the mind of the
ingenious author of the "Imperfect Hints," who, after selecting the
parting scene between Bassanio and Anthonio in the _Merchant of
Venice_, as the subject of a picture, remarks, that "this noble spirit
of friendship _might_ have been realized, when my lord Southampton (the
dear and generous friend of Shakspeare) embarked for the seige of Rees
in the Dutchy of Cleve."—Imperfect Hints, Part I. p. 35.

[20:B] See Part II. chap. ii.

[20:C] "Mr. Malone," relates Mr. Beloe, "had long been in search of
this edition, and when he was about to give up all hope of possessing
it, he obtained a copy from a provincial catalogue. But he still did
not procure it till after a long and tedious negotiation, and a most
enormous price."—Anecdotes of Literature, vol. i. p. 363.

[27:A] These, and the following extracts, are taken from Mr. Malone's
edition of the Poems of Shakspeare.

[28:A] Malone's Supplement to Shakspeare, 1780, vol. i. p. 463.

[28:B] "Epigrammes in the oldest Cut and newest Fashion. A twice seven
Houres (in so many Weekes) Studie. No longer (like the Fashion) not
unlike to continue. The first seven, John Weever.

    Sit voluisse sit valuisse.

At London: printed by V. S. for Thomas Bushell, and are to be sold
at his shop, at the great North doore of Paules. 1599. 12mo."—Vide
Beloe's Anecdotes, vol. vi. p. 156.

[28:C] Beloe's Anecdotes, vol. vi. p. 159.

[29:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 2. note by Steevens.

[29:B] Censura Literaria, vol. ix. p. 45, 46.

[29:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 197.

[30:A] Ancient British Drama, vol. i. p. 49. col. 2.

[30:B] Malone's Supplement, vol. i. p. 463.

[31:A] Censura Literaria, vol. vi. p. 276. A second edition of this
satire was published separately, in 4to. 1625.

[31:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 197, 198.—Many passages, I
believe, might be added to those given in the text, which point out
the great popularity of our author's earliest effort in poetry. Thus,
in the _Merrie Conceited Jests_ of George Peele, an author who died in
or before 1598, the Tapster of an Inn in Pye-corner is represented as
"much given to poetry: for he had ingrossed the Knight of the Sunne,
_Venus and Adonis_, and other pamphlets."—Reprint, p. 28.

Again in the _Dumb Knight_, an Historical Comedy, by Lewis Machin,
printed in 1608, one of the characters, after quoting several lines
from Venus and Adonis, concludes by saying,—

    "Go thy way, thou best book in the world.

    "_Veloups._ I pray you, sir, what book do you read?

    "_President._ A book that never an orator's clerk in this
    kingdom but is beholden unto; it is called, Maid's Philosophy,
    or _Venus and Adonis_."
                     Ancient British Drama, vol. ii. p. 146.

[32:A] It is the more probable that the entry of 1594 indicates a
separate edition, as an entry of the impression of 1596 appears in the
Stationers' Register, by W. Leake, dated June 23. 1596.—Vide Reed's
Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 121.

[32:B] Beloe's Anecdotes, vol. i. p. 363. This copy is in the
possession of Mr. Chalmers.

[33:A] Malone's Supplement, vol. i. p. 469. note.

[34:A] Warton's History of English Poetry, vol. iii. p. 415, 416.—"It
is remarkable," says the historian, in a note on this passage, "that
the sign of Berthelette, the king's printer in Fleet-street, who
flourished about 1540, was the Lucretia, or as he writes it, _Lucretia

[34:B] The last line of this extract is taken from the 12mo. edit. of

[38:A] Supplement, vol. i. p. 537. note.

[38:B] Perhaps the opening stanza of the following scarce poem,
entitled "Epicedium. A funerall Song, upon the vertuous life and godly
death of the right worshipfull the Lady Helen Branch;

    Virtus sola manet, cætera cuncta ruunt.

London, printed by Thomas Creed, 1594;" may allude to our author's Rape
of Lucrece:—

    "You that to shew your wits, have taken toyle
     In regist'ring the deeds of noble men;
     And sought for matter in a forraine soyle,
     As worthie subjects of your silver pen,
     Whom you have rais'd from darke oblivion's den.
     _You that have writ of chaste Lucretia,
     Whose death was witnesse of her spotlesse life_:
     Or pen'd the praise of sad Cornelia,
     Whose blamelesse name hath made her fame so rife,
     As noble Pompey's most renoumed wife:
       Hither unto your home direct your eies,
       Whereas, unthought on, much more matter lies."
             Vide Brydges's Restituta, vol. iii. p. 297-299.

[39:A] Malone's Supplement, vol. i. p. 575.

[39:B] "Polimanteia, or The meanes lawfull and unlawfull, to judge
of the fall of a Common-wealth, against the frivolous and foolish
conjectures of this age. Whereunto is added, A letter from England to
her three daughters, Cambridge, Oxford, Innes of Court, and to all the
rest of her inhabitants, &c. &c. Printed by John Legate, Printer to the
Universitie of Cambridge, 1595."

"This work," remarks Mr. Haslewood, "is divided into three parts;
the first, Polimanteia, is on the subtleties and unlawfulness of
Divination, the second, an address from England to her three Daughters;
and the third, England to her Inhabitants, concluding with the speeches
of Religion and Loyalty to her children. Some researches have been made
by a friend to ascertain the author's name, but without success. He
was evidently a man of learning, and well acquainted with the works of
contemporary writers, both foreign and domestic. The second part of his
work is too interesting, from the names enumerated in the margin, not
to be given entire. The mention of Shakspeare is two years earlier than
Meres's _Palladis Tamia_, a circumstance that has escaped the research
of all the Commentators; although a copy of the _Polimanteia_ was
possessed by Dr. Farmer, and the work is repeatedly mentioned by Oldys,
in his manuscript notes on Langbaine."—British Bibliographer, vol. i.
p. 274.

[40:A] British Bibliographer, No. XIV. p. 247.

[40:B] Ibid. No. V. p. 533.

[41:A] Malone's Supplement, vol. i. p. 575.

[41:B] Supplement, vol. i. p. 471.—An edition of the Rape of Lucrece,
with a supplement by John Quarles, was published about 1676; for at
the end of a copy of Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, in my possession,
printed in 1676, and the eighth edition, is a catalogue of books sold
by Peter Parker, the proprietor of the above impression, among which
occurs the following article:—

"The Rape of _Lucrece_ committed by _Tarquin_ the sixth, and remarkable
judgements that befell him for it, by that incomparable Master of our
English Poetry _William Shakespeare_ Gentleman. Whereunto is annexed
the Banishment of _Tarquin_ or the reward of Lust, by _John Quarles_,

It is remarkable, that, at the commencement of the eighteenth century,
our author's _Venus and Adonis_, and _The Rape of Lucrece_, were
re-published as _State Poems_, though it would puzzle the most acute
critic to discover, in either of them, the smallest allusion to the
politics of their age. The work in which they are thus enrolled, and
which betrays also the most complete ignorance of the era of their
production, is entitled "STATE POEMS.—Poems on affairs of State from
1620 to 1707." London, 1703-7. 8vo. 4 vols.

[42:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vii. p. 105. Act iv. sc. 3.—We have
found reason, as will be seen hereafter, to ascribe this play to the
year 1591.

[42:B] Malone's Supplement, vol. i. pp. 710. 715.

[43:A] "I know not," says this gentleman, "when the second edition was
printed."—Reed's Shakspeare, 1803, vol. ii. p. 153.

[46:A] Vol. xxvi. p. 120, 121.

[46:B] Ibid. vol. xxvi. p. 523.

[47:A] Monthly Magazine, vol. xxvi. p. 312.

[48:A] Monthly Magazine, vol. xxvi. p. 121.

[48:B] Of the ill-requited Capel, whose text of Shakspeare,
notwithstanding all which has been achieved since his decease, is,
perhaps, one of the purest extant, we shall probably have occasion
to speak hereafter. Of the talents of his nephew, and of the glowing
attachment which he bears to Shakspeare, and of the taste and judgment
which he has shown in appreciating his writings and character, we
possess an interesting memorial in the _Introduction_ to his late
publication, entitled "Aphorisms from Shakspeare."

[49:A] Malone's Supplement, vol. i. p. 714.

[50:A] Printed at the end of his "Lady Pecunia, 4to. London, 1605."
This very sonnet, however, has been attributed to Barnefield himself,
and is, in all probability, another evidence of the incorrectness or
the fraud of Jaggard.

[50:B] "Shakspeare's Sonnets, never before imprinted, quarto, 1609, G.
Eld, for T. T."

[52:A] Malone's Supplement, vol. i. p. 640.

[57:A] Chalmers's Supplemental Apology, pp. 40-43.

[57:B] Sonnet 126. It should be observed, however, that Sonnet 145,
though in alternate verse, and terminated by a couplet, is in the
octo-syllabic measure.

[59:A] Preface to his revised and corrected edition of Shakspeare's
Works, p. 7.

[60:A] See his "Queen's Arcadia."

[60:B] Malone's Supplement, vol. i. p. 596.

[61:A] Malone's Supplement, vol. i. p. 579.

[62:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vii. p. 331, and vol. xii. p. 219.

[63:A] Malone's Supplement, vol. i. p. 698.

[67:A] If we consult the context of this sonnet, and recollect that
Shakspeare addresses in his own person, it will be sufficiently evident
that _my lovers_ here can only mean _my friends_.

[73:A] That this series of sonnets, as well as the preceding, should be
considered by Mr. Chalmers as addressed to Queen Elizabeth, is, indeed,
of all conjectures, the most extraordinary!

[74:A] Malone's Supplement, vol. i. p. 682.

[74:B] Ibid. p. 684.

[74:C] Ibid.

[75:A] Malone's Supplement, vol. i. p. 684.

[75:B] Ibid. p. 685.

[75:C] Ibid.

[83:A] Malone's Supplement, vol. i. p. 748. note.

[85:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 30.

[85:B] British Bibliographer, No. XII. p. 16.

[86:A] That Shakspeare himself entertained a confident hope of the
immortality of his minor poems, the following, out of many instances,
will sufficiently prove:—

    "So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
     So long lives this, and this gives life to thee."
                                                    Son. 18.

    "Yet, do thy worst, old Time: despite thy wrong,
     My love shall in my verse ever live young."
                                                    Son. 19.

    "Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
     Of princes, shall out-live this powerful rhime."
                                                    Son. 54.

    "Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth,
     And delves the parallels in beauty's brow;
     Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth,
     And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow:
     And yet, to times in hope, my verse shall stand,
     Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand."
                                                    Son. 60.

    ——— "Confounding age ———
    ——— shall never cut from memory
    My sweet love's beauty, though my lover's life.
    His beauty shall in these black lines be seen,
    And they shall live, and he in them still green."
                                                    Son. 63.

    "When all the breathers of this world are dead;
       You still shall live (such virtue hath my pen),
       Where breath most breathes,—even in the mouths of men."
                                                    Son. 81.



Before we enter on the dramatic career of Shakspeare, a subject which
we wish to preserve unbroken, and free from irrelative matter, it will
be necessary, in order to prosecute our view of the costume of the
Times, to give a picture in this place of the prevalent habits of the
metropolis, which, with the sketch already drawn of those peculiar to
the country, will form a corresponding, and, we trust, an adequate

In no period of our annals, perhaps, has DRESS formed a more
curious subject of enquiry, than during the reigns of Elizabeth and
James the First. The Queen, who possessed an almost unbounded share of
vanity and coquetry, set an example of profusion which was followed
through every rank of society, and furnished by its universality, an
inexhaustible theme for the puritanic satirists of the age.

Of the mutability and eccentricity of the dresses both of men and
women, during this period, Harrison has provided us with a singular
and interesting account, and which, as constituting a very appropriate
preface to more minute particulars, we shall here transcribe.

"Such is our mutabilitie, that to daie there is none to the Spanish
guise, to morrow the French toies are most fine and delectable, yer
long no such apparell as that which is after the high Alman fashion,
by and by the Turkish maner is generallie best liked of, otherwise
the Morisco gowns, the Barbarian sleeves, the mandilion worne to
Collie westen ward, and the short French breeches make such a comelie
vesture, that except it were a dog in a doublet, you shall not sée
anie so disguised, as are my countrie men of England. And as these
fashions are diverse, so likewise it is a world to see the costlinesse
and the curiositie: the excesse and the vanitie: the pompe and the
braverie: the change and the varietie: and finallie the ficklenesse
and the follie that is in all degrees: insomuch that nothing is more
constant in England than inconstancie of attire. Oh how much cost is
bestowed now adaies upon our bodies and how little upon our soules!
how many sutes of apparell hath the one and how little furniture hath
the other? how long time is asked in decking up of the first, and how
little space left wherin to feed the later? how curious, how nice also
are a number of men and women, and how hardlie can the tailer please
them in making it fit for their bodies? how manie times must it be sent
backe againe to him that made it? what chafing, what fretting, what
reprochfull language doth the poore workman beare awaie? and manie
times when he dooth nothing to it at all, yet when it is brought home
againe it is verie fit and handsome; then must we put it on, then must
the long seames of our hose be set by a plumb-line, then we puffe, then
we blow, and finallie sweat till we drop, that our clothes may stand
upon us. I will saie nothing of our heads, which sometimes are polled,
sometimes curled, or suffered to grow at length like woman's lockes,
manie times cut off above or under the ears round as by a woodden dish.
Neither will I meddle with our varietie of beards, of which some are
shaven from the chin like those of Turks, not a few cut short like to
the beard of marques Otto, some made round like a rubbing brush other
with a pique devant (O fine fashion) or now and then suffered to grow
long, the barbers being growen to be so cunning in this behalfe as
the tailers. And therefore if a man have a leane and streight face, a
marquesse Ottons cut will make it broad and large; if it be platter
like, a long slender beard will make it seeme the narrower; if he be
wesell becked, then much heare left on the cheekes will make the owner
looke big like a bowdled hen, and so grim as a goose, if Cornelius of
Chalmeresford saie true: manie old men doo weare no beards at all. Some
lustie courtiers also and gentlemen of courage, doo weare either rings
of gold, stones, or pearle in their eares, whereby they imagine the
workmanship of God not to be a little amended. But herein they rather
disgrace than adorne their persons, as by their nicenesse in apparell,
for which I saie most nations doo not unjustlie deride us, as also for
that we doo séeme to imitate all nations round about us, wherein we be
like to the Polypus or Chameleon; and thereunto bestow most cost upon
our arses, and much more than upon all the rest of our bodies, as women
doo likewise upon their heads and shoulders. In women also it is most
to be lamented that they doo now farre exceed the lightnesse of our men
(who neverthelesse are transformed from the cap even to the verie shoo)
and such staring attire as in time past was supposed meet for none but
light housewives onelie, is now become an habit for chast and sober
matrones. What should I saie of their doublets with pendant cod peeses
on the brest full of jags and cuts, and sleeves of sundrie colours?
their galligascons to beare out their bums and make their attire to
sit plum round (as they terme it) about them? their fardingals, and
diverslie coloured nether stocks of silke, ierdseie, and such like,
whereby their bodies are rather deformed than commended? I have met
with some of these trulles in London so disguised, that it hath passed
my skill to discerne whether they were men or women."[89:A]

After this philippic, we shall proceed to notice the _Dress of the
Ladies_, commencing with that of the _Queen_, who is thus described by
Paul Hentzner, as he saw her passing on her way to chapel, at the royal
palace of Greenwich. Having mentioned the procession of barons, earls,
knights, &c., he adds,—"Next came the queen, in the sixty-fifth year
of her age, as we were told, very majestic; her face oblong, fair, but
wrinkled; her eyes small, yet black and pleasant; her nose a little
hooked; her lips narrow, and her teeth black; (a defect the English
seem subject to, from their too great use of sugar) she had in her
ears two pearls, with very rich drops; she wore false hair, and that
red; upon her head she had a small crown;—her bosom was uncovered,
as all the English ladies have it, till they marry; and she had on a
necklace of exceeding fine jewels; her hands were small, her fingers
long, and her stature neither tall nor low; her air was stately, her
manner of speaking mild and obliging. That day she was dressed in white
silk, bordered with pearls of the size of beans, and over it a mantle
of black silk, shot with silver threads; her train was very long,
the end of it borne by a marchioness; instead of a chain, she had an
oblong collar of gold and jewels.——While we were there, W. Slawata,
a Bohemian baron, had letters to present to her; and she, after
pulling off her glove, gave him her right hand to kiss, sparkling with
rings and jewels.—The ladies of the court followed next to her, very
handsome and well shaped, and for the most part dressed in white."[90:A]

A few articles of the customary dress of Elizabeth, not adverted to by
Hentzner, and particularly the characteristic ruff and stomacher, it
may be requisite to subjoin. The former of these was profusely laced,
plaited, and apparently divergent from a centre on the back of her
neck; it was very broad, extending on each side of her face, with the
extremities reposing on her bosom, from which rose two wings of lawn,
edged with jewels, stiffened with wire, and reaching to the top of her
hair, which was moulded into the shape of a cushion, and richly covered
with gems. The stomacher was strait and broad, and though leaving the
bosom bare, still formed a long waist by extending downwards; it was
loaded with jewels and embossed gold, and preposterously stiff and

The attachment of the Queen to dress was such, that she could not bear
the idea of being rivalled, much less surpassed, in any exhibition of
this kind. "It happenede," relates Sir John Harrington, "that Ladie M.
Howarde was possessede of a rich border, powderd wyth golde and pearle,
and a velvet suite belonginge thereto, which moved manie to envye; nor
did it please the Queene, who thoughte it exceeded her owne. One daye
the Queene did sende privately, and got the ladies rich vesture, which
she put on herself, and came forthe the chamber amonge the ladies; the
kirtle and border was far too shorte for her Majestie's heigth; and she
askede every one 'How they likede her new-fancied suit?' At lengthe,
she askede the owner herself, 'If it was not made too short and
ill-becoming?'—which the poor ladie did presentlie consente to. 'Why
then, if it become not me, as being too shorte, I am minded it shall
never become thee, as being too fine; so it fitteth neither well.' This
sharp rebuke abashed the ladie, and she never adorned her herewith any

Neither could she endure, from whatever quarter it came, any censure,
direct or indirect, on her love of personal decoration. "One Sunday
(April last)," says the same facetious knight, "my lorde of London
preachede to the Queenes Majestie, and seemede to touche on the vanitie
of deckinge the bodie too finely.—Her Majestie tolde the ladies, that
'If the bishope helde more discourse on suche matters, shee wolde fitte
him for heaven, but he shoulde walke thither withoute a staffe, and
leave his mantle behind him:' perchance the bishope hathe never soughte
her Highnesse wardrobe, or he woulde have chosen another texte."[91:B]

Of this costly wardrobe it is recorded in Chamberlaine's epistolary
notices, that it consisted of more than two thousand gowns, with all
things answerable[91:C]; and Mr. Steevens, commenting on a passage in
_Cymbeline_, where Imogen exclaims—

    "Poor I am stale, a garment out of fashion;
     And, for I am richer than to hang by the walls,
     I must be ripp'd,"—

gives us the following interesting illustration.

"Clothes were not formerly, as at present, made of slight materials,
were not kept in drawers, or given away as soon as lapse of time or
change of fashion had impaired their value. On the contrary, they were
hung up on wooden pegs in a room appropriated to the sole purpose of
receiving them; and though such cast-off things as were composed of
_rich_ substances, were occasionally _ripped_ for domestick uses, (viz.
mantles for infants, vests for children, and counterpanes for beds)
articles of inferior quality were suffered to _hang by the walls_, till
age and moths had destroyed what pride would not permit to be worn by
servants or poor relations.

"When a boy, at an ancient mansion-house in Suffolk, I saw one of these
repositories, which (thanks to a succession of old maids!) had been
preserved, with superstitious reverence, for almost a century and a

"When Queen Elizabeth died, she was found to have left above three
thousand dresses behind her."[92:A]

With such a model before them, it may easily be credited, that our
fair country-women vied with each other in the luxury, variety,
and splendour of their dress. Shakspeare has noticed most of their
eccentricities in this way, and a few remarks on his allusions, with
some invectives from less good-tempered observers, will sufficiently
illustrate the subject.

Benedict, describing the woman of his choice, says, "her hair shall
be of what colour it please God[92:B];" an oblique stroke at a very
prevalent fashion in Shakspeare's time of colouring or dying the hair,
and which, from its general adoption, not only excited the shaft of
the satirist, but the reprobation of the pulpit. Nor were the ladies
content with disfiguring their _own_ hair, but so universally dismissed
it for that of others, that it was a common practice with them, as
Stubbes asserts in his Anatomie of Abuses, to allure children who had
beautiful hair to private places, in order to deprive them of their
envied locks.

That the dead were frequently rifled for this purpose, our poet has
told us in more places than one; thus, in his sixty-eighth sonnet, he

    —— "the golden tresses of the dead,
    The right of sepulchres, were shorn away,
    To live a second life on second head,
    'And' beauty's dead fleece made another gay;"

and he repeats the charge in his _Merchant of Venice_,—

    "So are those crisped snaky golden locks,
     Which make such wanton gambols with the wind,
     Upon supposed fairness, often known
     To be the dowry of a second head,
     The skull that bred them in the sepulchre."[93:A]

The hair, when thus obtained, was often dyed of a sandy colour, in
compliment to the Queen, whose locks were of that tint; and these false
ornaments or "thatches," as Timon terms them, were called _periwigs_;
thus Julia, in the _Two Gentlemen of Verona_, contemplating the picture
of her rival, observes,

    "Her hair is auburn, mine is perfect yellow:
     If that be all the difference in his love,
     I'll get me such a colour'd periwig."[93:B]

Periwigs, which were first introduced into England about 1572, were
to be had of all colours; for an old satirist, speaking of his
countrywomen, says, "It is a woonder more than ordinary to beholde
theyr perewigs of sundry collours."[93:C] A distinction, however,
in wearing the hair, as well as in other articles of dress, existed
between the matrons and unmarried women. "Gentlewomen virgins,"
observes Fines Moryson, "weare gownes close to the body, and aprons
of fine linen, and go _bareheaded, with their hair curiously knotted,
and raised at the forehead, but many_ (against the cold, as they say,)
_weare caps of hair that is not their own_."[93:D]

To some of the various coverings for the hair our poet refers in
the _Merry Wives of Windsor_, when Falstaff, complimenting Mrs.
Ford, exclaims, "thou hast the right arched bent of the brow, that
becomes the _ship-tire_, the _tire-valiant_, or any _tire of Venetian

The _ship-tire_ appears to have been an open flaunting head-dress, with
scarfs or ribands floating in the air like streamers, or as Fenton
himself, in the fifth act of this play, describes it,

    "With ribbons _pendant_ flaring 'bout her head."

The _tire-valiant_, if the text be correct, must mean a dress still
more shewy and ostentatious; and we know that feathers, jewels,
and gold and silver ornaments, were common decorations in these
days of gorgeous finery. Nash, in 1594, speaks of "lawn caps" with
"snow-resembled silver curlings[94:B];" and a sarcastic poet in 1595

    —— "flaming heads with staring haire,
    'With' wyers turnde like horns of ram—
       To peacockes I compare them right,
       That glorieth in their feathers bright."[94:C]

Venice and Paris were the sources of fashion, and both occasionally
furnished a more chaste and elegant costume for the female head than
the objects of Falstaff's encomium. The "French hood," a favourite
of the times, consisted simply of gauze or muslin, reaching from the
back of the head down over the forehead, and leaving the hair exposed
on each side.[94:D] Cauls, or nets of gold thread, were thrown with
much taste over their glossy tresses, and attracted the notice of the
satirist just quoted:—

    "These glittering caules of golden plate
       Wherewith their heads are richlie dect,
     Makes them to seeme an angels mate
       In judgment of the simple sect."[94:E]

Another happy mode of embellishment consisted of placing gracefully on
the hair artificial peascods, which were represented open, with rows of
pearls for peas.

The lady's morning-cap was usually a mob[95:A]; and the citizens'
wives wore either a splendid velvet cap[95:B], or what was called the
'Minever cap,' with peaks three inches high, white, and three-cornered.

Paint was openly used for the face:

    "These painted faces which they weare,
       Can any tell from whence they came;"[95:C]

and masks and mufflers were in general use; the former, according to
Stubbes, were made of velvet, "wherewith when they ride abroad they
cover all their faces, having holes made in them against their eyes,
whereout they looke. So that if a man that knew not their guise before,
should chaunce to meet one of them, he would think he met a monster or
a Devil, for face he can shew none, but two broad holes against their
eyes, with glasses in them[95:D];" the latter covered the lower part of
the face only, as far as the nose, and had the appearance of a linen
bandage. So common were these female masks in Shakspeare's days, that
the author of _Quippes for newfangled Gentlewemen_, after remarking
that they were the offspring not of modesty but of pride, informs us

    —— "on each wight now are they seene,
      The tallow-pale, the browning bay,
    The swarthy blacke, the grassie-greene,
      The pudding-red, the dapple-graie."[95:E]

The _ruff_, already partly described under the dress of Elizabeth,
was common to both sexes; but under the fostering care of the ladies,
attained, in stiffness, fineness, and dimensions, the most extravagant
pitch of absurdity. It reached behind to the very top of the head,
and the tenuity of the lawn or cambrick of which it was made was such,
that Stowe prophecies, they would shortly "wear ruffes of a spider's
web." In order to support so slender a fabrick, a great quantity of
starch become necessary, the skilful use of which was introduced by a
Mrs. Dingen Van Plesse in 1564, who taught her art for a premium of
five guineas. Starching was subsequently improved by the introduction
of various colours, one of which, the _yellow_ die, being the invention
of a Mrs. Turner, who was afterwards concerned in the murder of Sir
Thomas Overbury, was dismissed with abhorrence from the fashionable
world, in consequence of this abandoned woman being executed at Tyburn
in a ruff of her favourite tint. The extreme indignation with which
Stubbes speaks of the use of starch is highly amusing:—"One arch or
piller," says he, "wherewith the devil's kingdome of great ruffes
is underpropped, is a certain kind of liquid matter which they call
_startch_, wherein the devill hath learned them to wash and die their
ruffes, which, being drie, will stand stiff and inflexible about their
neckes. And this starch they make of divers substances—of all collours
and hues, as white, redde, blewe, purple, and the like."

We are further informed by the same vehement satirist, that the ruff
had the additional support of an underpropper called a _suppertasse_,
and that its plaits were adjusted by poking-sticks made of iron, steel,
or silver, that, when used, were heated in the fire, a custom against
which he expresses his wrath by relating a most curious story of a
gentlewoman of Antwerp who had her ruff poked by the devil on the 27th
of May, 1582, "the sound whereof," says he, "is blowne through all the
world, and is yet fresh in every mans memory." It appears that this
unfortunate lady, being invited to a wedding, could not, although she
employed two celebrated laundresses, get her ruff plaited according to
her taste, upon which, proceeds Stubbes, "she fell to sweare and teare,
to curse and ban, casting the ruffes under feete, and wishing that the
devill might take her when shee did wear any neckerchers againe;" a
wish which was speedily accomplished; for the devil, assuming the form
of a beautiful young man, made his appearance under the character of a
suitor, and enquiring the cause of her agitation, "tooke in hande the
setting of her ruffes, which he performed to her great contentation and
liking; insomuch, as she, looking herselfe in a glasse (as the devill
bad her) became greatly inamoured with him. This done, the young man
kissed her, in the doing whereof, he writhed her neck in sunder, so she
died miserably; her body being straight waies changed into blew and
black colours, most ugglesome to beholde, and her face (which before
was so amorous) became most deformed and fearfull to looke upon. This
being knowne in the citie, great preparation was made for her buriall,
and a rich coffin was provided, and her fearfull body was laide
therein, and covered very sumptuously. Foure men immediately assayed
to lift up the corpes, but could not move it; then sixe attempted the
like, but could not once stirre it from the place where it stood.
Whereat the standers-by marvelling, causing the coffin to be opened to
see the cause thereof: where they found the body to be taken away, and
a blacke catte, very leane and deformed, sitting in the coffin, setting
of great ruffes, and frizling of haire, to the greate feare and woonder
of all the beholders."[97:A]

The waist was beyond all proportion long, the bodice or stays
terminating at the bottom in a point, and having in the fore part a
pocket, for money, needle-work, and billets, a fashion to which Proteus
alludes in the _Two Gentlemen of Verona_, when he tells Valentine

    "Thy letters ———————————————
     ————————————— shall be deliver'd
     Even in the milk-white bosom of thy love."[97:B]

Gowns were made of the richest materials, with velvet capes
embroidered with bugelles, and with the sleeves curiously cut[97:C];
the fashionable petticoat was the Scottish fardingale, made of
cloth, taffety, satin, or silk, and of enormous bulk, so that when an
Elizabethan lady was dressed in one of these, with the gown, as was
usually the case, stuffed about the shoulders, and the ruffe in the
first style of the day, her appearance was truly formidable. Over all
was frequently thrown a kirtle, mantle, or surcoat, with or without a
head, formed of silk or velvet, and richly bordered with lace.

Silk-stockings, which were first worn by the Queen in 1560. Mrs.
Montagu, her silk-woman, having presented her with a pair of this
material in that year, soon became almost universal among the ladies,
and formed one of the most expensive articles of their dress.

Shoes with very high heels, in imitation of the Venetian _chopine_,
a species of stilt sometimes better than a foot in height, was the
prevalent mode, and carried, for the sake of increasing the stature,
to a most ridiculous excess. It never reached, indeed, this enormous
dimension in England, but seems, from a passage in Hamlet, to have been
of such a definite size, as to admit of a reference to it as a mark
of admeasurement, for the Prince remarks, "Your Ladyship is nearer to
heaven, than when I saw you last, _by the altitude of a chopine_."[98:A]

Fans, constructed of ostrich feathers, inserted into handles of gold,
silver, or ivory, and wrought with great skill in various elegant
forms, were so commonly worn that the author of "Quippes for upstart
newfangled Gentlewemen," 1595, exclaims,—

    "Were fannes, and flappes of feathers, found
       To flit away the flisking flies,—
         The wit of women we might praise,

     But seeing they are still in hand,
       In house, in field, in church, in street;
     In summer, winter, water, land,
       In colde, in heate, in drie, in weet;
         I judge they are for wives such tooles
         As bables are, in playes, for fooles."[98:B]

Silver and ivory handles were usual among ladies of the middle class
of society; but in the higher ranks they were frequently decorated with
gems, and the Queen had several new-year's gifts of fans, the handles
of which were studded with diamonds and other jewels.[99:A] Shakspeare
has many allusions to fans of feathers[99:B]; and even hints, in his
_Henry the Eighth_, that the coxcombs of his day were not ashamed to
adopt their use.[99:C]

Perfumed bracelets, necklaces, and gloves, were favourite articles.
"Gloves as sweet as damask roses," form part of the stock of Autolycus,
and Mopsa tells the clown, that he promised her "a pair of sweet
gloves."[99:D] The Queen in this, as in most other luxuries of dress,
set the fashion; for Howes informs us, that in the fifteenth year of
her reign, Edward Vere, Earl of Oxford, presented her with a pair of
perfumed gloves trimmed with four tufts of rose-coloured silk, in which
she took such pleasure that she was always painted with those gloves on
her hands, and that their scent was so exquisite that it was ever after
called the Earl of Oxford's perfume.[99:E]

To these notices it may be added, that a small looking-glass pendent
from the girdle[99:F], a pocket-handkerchief richly wrought with gold
and silver, and a love-lock hanging wantonly over the shoulder, were
customarily exhibited by the fashionable female.

Burton, writing at the close of the Shakspearean era, has given us a
brief but exact enumeration of the feminine allurements of his day; a
passage which, whilst it adds a few new particulars, will furnish an
excellent recapitulation of what has been already advanced.

"Why," exclaims he, "do they decorate themselves with artificial
flowers, the various colours of herbs, needle works of exquisite
skill, quaint devices, and perfume their persons, wear inestimable
riches in precious stones, crown themselves with gold and silver,
use coronets and tires of several fashions; deck themselves with
pendants, bracelets, ear-rings, chains, girdles, rings, pins,
spangles, embroideries, shadows, rebatoes, versicoler ribands? Why
do they make such glorious shews with their scarfs, feathers, fans,
masks, furs, laces, tiffanies, ruffs, falls, calls, cuffs, damasks,
velvets, tinsels, cloth of gold, silver tissue? Such setting up with
corks, straitening with whale bones; why, it is but as a day-net
catcheth larks, to make young ones stoop unto them.—And when they
are disappointed, they dissolve into tears, which they wipe away like
sweat: weep with one eye, laugh with the other; or as children, weep
and cry they can both together: and as much pity is to be taken of a
woman weeping as of a goose going barefoot."[100:A]

We have seen in the extract from Harrison, at the commencement of
this chapter, that a great portion of it is employed in satirising
the extravagance and folly of the _male-dress_ of his times, and
the adduction of further particulars will serve but to strengthen
the propriety of his invective, and to prove, what will scarcely be
credited, that, in the absurdity and frivolity of personal ornament,
the men far surpassed the other sex.

Though there is reason to conclude that this taste for expensive
and frivolous declaration, was originally derived from the reign of
Elizabeth, yet was it even still more encouraged by James; for though
he set no example of profusion of this kind in his own person, Sir
Arthur Wheldon declaring that he was "in his apparrell so constant, as
by his good will he would never change his cloathes till very ragges;
his fashion never: insomuch, as one bringing to him a hat of a Spanish
block, he cast it from him, swearing he neither loved them nor their
fashions. Another time, bringing him roses on his shoes, asked, if they
would make him a ruffe-footed-dove? one yard of sixpenny ribband served
that turne[101:A];" yet was he passionately attached to dress in the
persons of his courtiers; "he doth admire good fashion in cloaths;"
says Lord Howard, writing to Sir John Harington in 1611; "I would wish
you to be well trimmed; get a new jerkin well bordered, and not too
short; the King saith, he liketh a flowing garment; be sure it be not
all of one sort, but diversly coloured, the collar falling somewhat
down, and your ruff well stiffend and bushy. We have lately had many
gallants who failed in their suits, for want of due observance of these
matters. The King is nicely heedfull of such points, and dwelleth on
good looks and handsome accoutrements. Eighteen servants were lately
discharged, and many more will be discarded, who are not to his liking
in these matters.—Robert Carr is now most likely to win the Prince's
affection, and dothe it wonderously in a little time. The Prince
leaneth on his arm, pinches his cheek, smoothes his ruffled garment,
and, when he looketh at Carr, directeth discourse to divers others.
This young man dothe much study all art and device; he hath changed
his tailors and tiremen many times, and all to please the Prince, who
laugheth at the long grown fashion of our young courtiers, and wisheth
for change for every day."[101:B]

King James's love of finery seems to have been imbibed, not only by his
courtiers, but by all his youthful subjects; for from the crown of his
head to the sole of his foot, nothing can exceed the fantastic attire
by which the beau of this period was distinguished. His _hair_ was worn
long and flowing, "whose length," says Decker, "before the rigorous
edge of any puritanical pair of scissors should shorten the breadth of
a finger, let the three housewifely spinsters of destiny rather curtail
the thread of thy life;—let it play openly with the lascivious wind,
even on the top of your shoulders."[102:A] His _hat_ was made of silk,
velvet, taffeta, or beaver, the last being the most expensive; the
crown was high, and narrow toward the top, "like the speare or shaft
of a steeple," observes Stubbes, "standing a quarter of a yard above
their heads;" the edges, and sometimes the whole hat, were embroidered
with gold and silver, to which a costly hat-band sparkling with gems,
and a lofty plume of feathers, were generally added. It appears, from
a passage in the _Taming of the Shrew_, that to these high hats the
name of _copatain_ was given; for Vincentio, surprised at Tranio being
dressed as a gentleman, exclaims, "O fine villain! A silken doublet!
a velvet hose! a scarlet cloak! and a _copatain hat_![102:B]" a word
which Mr. Steevens considers as synonymous with a high _copt_ hat. It
was usual with gallants to wear _gloves_ in their hats, as a memorial
of their ladies favour.[102:C]

Of the _beard_ and its numerous forms, we have already seen a curious
detail by Harrison, to which we may subjoin, that it was customary
to dye it of various colours[102:D], and to mould it into various
forms, according to the profession, age, or fancy of the wearer. Red
was one of the most fashionable tints[102:E]; a beard of "formal
cut" distinguished the justice[102:F] and the judge; a rough bushy
beard marked the clown, and a _spade_-beard, or a _stiletto_, or
dagger-shaped beard, graced the soldier. "It is observable," remarks
Mr. Malone, "that our author's patron, Henry Earl of Southampton,
who spent much of his time in camps, is drawn with the latter of
these beards; and his unfortunate friend, Lord Essex, is constantly
represented with the former."[103:A]

Of the effeminate fashions of this age, perhaps the most effeminate
was the custom of wearing jewels and roses in the ears, or about the
neck, and of cherishing a long lock of hair under the left ear, called
a love-lock. The first and least offensive of these decorations, the
use of jewels and rings in the ear, was general through the upper and
middle ranks, nor was it very uncommon to see gems worn appended to a
riband round the neck.[103:B] Roses were almost always an appendage of
the love-lock, but these were, for the most part, formed of riband, yet
we are told by Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy, "that it was once
the fashion to stick _real flowers_ in the ear." The love-lock, with
its termination in a silken rose, had become so notorious, that Prynne
at length wrote an express treatise against it, which he entitled, _The
Unloveliness of Love-locks, and long womanish Hair_, 1628.[103:C]

The _ruff_ never reached the extravagant dimensions of that in the
other sex, yet it gradually acquired such magnitude as to offend the
eye of Elizabeth, who, in one of her sumptuary laws, ordered it, when
reaching beyond "a nayle of a yeard in depth," to be clipped.[103:D]

The _doublet and hose_, to the eighth year of Elizabeth's reign,
had been of an enormous size, especially the breeches, which being
puckered, stuffed, bolstered and distended with wool and hair, attained
a magnitude so preposterous, that, as Strutt relates on the authority
of a MS. in the Harleian collection, "there actually was a scaffold
erected round the inside of the parliament-house for the accommodation
of such members as wore those huge breeches; and that the said scaffold
was taken down when, in the eighth of Elizabeth, those absurdities went
out of fashion."[104:A]

The doublet was then greatly reduced in size, yet so hard-quilted,
that Stubbes says, the wearer could not bow himself to the ground, so
stiff and sturdy it stood about him. It was made of cloth, silk or
satin, fitting the body like a waistcoat, surmounted by a large cape,
and accompanied either with long close sleeves, or with very wide
ones, called Danish sleeves. The breeches, hose, or gallygaskins, now
shrunk in their bulk, were either made close to the form, or rendered
moderately round by stuffing; the former, which ended far above the
knee, were often made of crimson satin, cut and embroidered[104:B],
and the latter had frequently a most indelicate appendage, to which
our poet has too often indulged the licence of allusion.[104:C] A
cloak surmounting the whole, of the richest materials, and generally
embroidered with gold or silver, was worn buttoned over the shoulder.
Fox-skins, lamb-skins, and sables were in use as facings, but the
latter were restricted to the nobility, none under the rank of an earl
being allowed to wear sables, which were so expensive, that an old
writer of 1577, speaking of the luxury of the times, says, "that a
thousand ducates were sometimes given for _a face of sables_[105:A];"
consequently, as Mr. Malone has remarked, "a suit trimmed with
sables was, in Shakspeare's time, the richest dress worn by men in

The stockings, or hose as they were called in common with the breeches,
consisted either of woven silk, or were cut out by the taylor "from
silke, velvet, damaske, or other precious stuffe."[105:C] They were
gartered, externally, and below the knee, with materials of such
expensive quality, that Howes tells us, in his Continuation of
Stowe's Chronicle, "men of _mean_ rank weare _garters_ and shoe-roses
of more than _five pounds price_." Decker advises his gallant to
"strive to fashion his legs to his silk stockings, and his proud
gate to his _broad garters_[105:D]," which being so conspicuous a
part of the dress, were either manufactured of gold and silver, or
were made of satin and velvet with a deep gold fringe. The common
people were content with worsted galloon, or what were called
_caddis-garters_.[105:E] The gaudiness of attire, indeed, with regard
to these articles of clothing, appears to have been carried to a most
ridiculous excess; red silk-stockings, parti-coloured garters, and
cross gartering, so as to represent the varied colours of the Scotch
plaid, were frequently exhibited.

Nor were the shoes and boots of this period less extravagantly
ostentatious. Corked shoes, or pantofles, are described by Stubbes as
bearing up their wearers two inches or more from the ground, as being
of various colours, and razed, carved, cut, and stitched. They were
not unfrequently fabricated of velvet, embroidered with the precious
metals, and when fastened with strings, these were covered with
enormous roses of riband, curiously ornamented and of great value.
Thus Hamlet speaks of "Provencial roses on my razed shoes;" and it is
remarkable, that, as in the present age, both shoes and slippers were
worn shaped after the right and left foot. Shakspeare describes his

    "Standing on slippers, which his nimble haste
     Had falsely thrust upon contrary feet:"[106:A]

and Scott, in his _Discoverie of Witchcraft_, observes, that he who
receiveth a mischance, "will consider, whether he put not on his shirt
wrong side outwards, or his _left shoe on his right_ foot."[106:B]

The _boots_ were, if possible, still more eccentric and costly than
the shoes, resembling, in some degree, though on a larger scale, the
theatric buskin of the modern stage. They were usually manufactured
of russet cloth or leather, hanging loose and ruffled about the leg,
with immense tops turned down and fringed, and the heel decorated with
gold or silver spurs. Decker speaks of "a gilt spur and a ruffled
boot;" and in another place adds,—"let it be thy prudence to have the
tops of them wide as the mouth of a wallet, and those with fringed
boot-hose over them to hang down to thy ancles."[106:C] Yet even this
extravagance did not content those who aspired to the highest rank
of fashion; for Doctor Nott, the editor of Decker's Horn-book, in a
note on the last passage which we have quoted, informs us, on the
authority of Stubbes's Anatomie of Abuses, that these boots were often
"made of cloth fine enough for any hand, or ruff; and so large, that
the quantity used would nearly make a shirt: they were embroidered
in gold and silver; having on them the figures of birds, animals,
and antiques in various coloured silks: the needle-work alone of them
would cost from four to[107:A] ten pounds." Shakspeare alludes to the
large boots with ruffles, or loose tops, which were frequently called
_lugged boots_, in _All's Well That Ends Well_, act iii. sc. 2.; and
we find, from the same authority, that boots closely fitting the leg
were sometimes worn; for Falstaff, in _Henry the Fourth_, Part II.,
accounting for the Prince's attachment to Poins, mentions, among his
other qualifications, that he "wears his boot very smooth, like unto
the sign of the leg."[107:B]

Nor was the interior clothing of the beau less sumptuous and expensive
than his exterior apparel; his shirts, relates that minute observer,
Stubbes, were made of "camericke, Hollande, lawne, or els of the finest
cloth that may be got." And were so wrought with "needle-worke of
silke, and so curiously stitched with other knackes beside, that their
price would sometimes amount to ten pounds."[107:C]

No gentleman was considered as dressed without his dagger and rapier;
the former, richly gilt and ornamented, was worn at the back: thus
Capulet in _Romeo and Juliet_, exclaims,

    "This dagger hath mista'en,—for, lo! his house
     Is empty on the back of Montague—
     And is mis-sheathed in my daughter's bosom:"[107:D]

and an old play, of the date 1570, expressly tells us,

    "Thou must weare thy sword by thy side,
     And thy _dagger_ handsumly _at thy backe_:"[107:E]

The _rapier_, or small sword, which had been known in this country from
the reign of Henry the Eighth, or even earlier, entirely superseded,
about the 20th of Elizabeth, the use of the heavy or two-handed sword
and buckler; an event which Justice Shallow, in the _Merry Wives of
Windsor_, is represented as regretting.[108:A] Though occasionally used
as an offensive weapon, and certainly a more dangerous instrument than
its predecessor, it was chiefly worn as a splendid ornament, the hilt
and scabbard being profusely, and often elegantly decorated. It was
also the custom to wear these swords when dancing, as appears from a
passage in _All's Well That Ends Well_, where Bertram says,

    "I shall stay here the forehorse to a smock—
     Till honour be bought up, and _no sword worn,
     But one to dance with_;"[108:B]

an allusion which has received most satisfactory illustration from
Mr. Douce, in an extract taken from Stafforde's _Briefe conceipt of
English pollicy_, 1581, 4to., in which not only this practice is
mentioned, but the preceding fashion of the heavy sword and buckler is
particularly noticed:—"I thinke wee were as much dread or more of our
enemies, when our gentlemen went simply, and our serving men plainely,
without cuts or gards, bearing their _heavy swords and buckelers_ on
their thighes, insted of cuts and gardes and _light daunsing swordes_;
and when they rode, carrying good speares in theyr hands in stede of
white rods, which they cary now more like ladies or gentlewemen than
men; all which delicacyes maketh our men cleane effeminate and without

It soon became the fashion to wear these rapiers of such an enormous
length, that government was obliged to interfere, and a sumptuary law
was passed to limit these weapons to _three feet_, which was published
by proclamation, together with one for the curtailment of ruffs. "He,"
says Stowe, "was held the greatest gallant, that had the deepest ruffe
and longest rapier: the offence to the eye of the one, and the hurt
unto the life of the subject that came by the other, caused her Majesty
to make proclamation against them both, and to place selected grave
citizens at every gate to cut the ruffes, and breake the rapiers'
points of all passengers that exceeded a yeard in length of their
rapiers."[109:B] This regulation occasioned a whimsical circumstance,
related by Lord Talbot, in a letter to the Earl of Shrewsbury, dated
June 23d, 1580:—"The French Imbasidore, Mounswer Mouiser, (Malvoisier)
ridinge to take the ayer, in his returne cam thowrowe Smithfild; and
ther, at the bars, was steayed by thos offisers that sitteth to cut
sourds, by reason his raper was longer than the statute: He was in a
great feaurie, and dreawe his raper; in the meane season my Lord Henry
Seamore cam, and so steayed the matt{r}: Hir Ma{tie} is greatlie ofended
w{th} the ofisers, in that they wanted jugement."[109:C]

This account of the _male fashionable_ dress, during the days of
Shakspeare, has sufficiently borne out the assertion which we made at
its commencement,—that in extravagance and frivolity it surpassed the
caprice and expenditure of the other sex; a charge which is repeated by
Burton at the close of this era; for, exclaiming against the luxury of
fine clothes, he remarks, "women are bad, and men worse.—So ridiculous
we are in our attires, and for cost so excessive, that as Hierom said
of old,—'tis an ordinary thing to put a thousand oaks, and an hundred
oxen into a suit of apparel, to wear a whole mannor on his back. What
with shoo-ties, hangers, points, caps and feathers, scarfs, bands,
cuffs, &c., in a short space their whole patrimonies are consumed.
Heliogabalus is taxed by Lampridius, and admired in his age for wearing
jewels in his shoos, a common thing in our times, not for Emperors
and Princes, but almost for serving-men and taylors: all the flowres,
stars, constellations, gold and pretious stones do condescend to set
out their shoos."[110:A]

The dress of the citizen, indeed, was, if less elegant, equally showy,
and sometimes fully as expensive as that of the man of fashion. The
medium habit may, with great probability, be considered as sketched in
the following humorous tale, derived from a popular pamphlet printed in

    "A citizen, for recreation-sake,
     To see the country would a journey take
     Some dozen mile, or very little more;
     Taking his leave with friends two months before,
     With drinking healths, and shaking by the hand,
     As he had travail'd to some new-found-land.
     Well: taking horse with very much ado,
     London he leaveth for a day or two:
     And as he rideth, meets upon the way
     Such as (what haste soever) bid men stay.
     "Sirrah! (says one) stand, and your purse deliver,
     I am a _taker_, thou must be a _giver_."
     Unto a wood hard by they hale him in,
     And rifle him unto his very skin.
     "Maisters, (quoth he) pray heare me ere you go:
     For you have rob'd more now than you do know.
     My horse, in troth, I borrow'd of my brother:
     The bridle and the saddle, of another:
     _The jerkin_ and the _bases_ be a taylor's:
     The _scarfe_, I do assure you, is a saylour's:
     The _falling band_ is likewise none of mine,
     Nor _cuffes_; as true as this good light doth shine.
     The _sattin-doublet_ and _rays'd velvet hose_
     Are our church-wardens—all the parish knows.
     The boots are John the grocer's, at the Swan:
     The spurrs were lent me by a serving-man.
     _One of my rings_, (_that with the great red stone_)
     In sooth I borrow'd of my gossip Jone:
     Her husband knows not of it. Gentlemen!
     Thus stands my case:—I pray shew favour then."
     "Why, (quoth the theeves) thou need'st not greatly care,
     Since in thy loss so many beare a share.
     The world goes hard: many good fellowes lacke:
     Looke not, at this time, for a penny backe.
     Go, tell, at London, thou didst meete with foure
     That, rifling _thee_, have rob'd at least a _score_.""[111:A]

Under the next section of this chapter, including the _Modes of
Living_, it is our intention to give a short detail of the _household
furniture_, _eating_, _drinking_, and _domestic economy_ of our
town-ancestors, during the close of the sixteenth, and beginning of the
seventeenth century.

In that part of the first volume which is appropriated to the Modes
of Living in the Country, we have seen Holinshed alluding to the
increasing luxury of his age in _furniture_, the convenience, richness,
and magnificence of which, as displayed in the upper and middle classes
of society in the metropolis, we shall now endeavour briefly to

That the palaces of Elizabeth were decorated with all the splendour
that tapestry, embroidery, and cloths of gold and silver, and services
of plate could effect, we have numberless proofs; but that they united
with these the still higher luxuries of comfort and accommodation, too
often wanting amid the most gorgeous scenes, we have the testimony
of Sir John Harrington, who, in his "Treatise on Playe," circa 1597,
thus describes the conveniences which the Queen had provided for
her courtiers:—"It is a great honor of the Queen's court, that no
princes servants fare so well and so orderly:—to be short, the stately
pallaces, goodly and many chambers, fayr gallerys, large gardens, sweet
walkes, that princes with magnificent cost do make, (the xxth parte of
which they use not themselves) all shew that they desire, the ease,
content and pleasure of theyr followers, as well as themselves. Which
matter, though it be more proper to another discourse, yet I colde not
but towch it in this, agaynst theyr error rather than awsterytie, that
say play becomes not the presence, and that it would not as well become
the state of the chamber to have _easye quilted and lyned forms and
stools for the lords and ladyes to sit on_, as great plank forms that
two yeomen can scant remove out of their places, and waynscot stooles
so hard, that since great breeches were layd asyde, men can skant
indewr to sitt on."[112:A]

Hentzner, in his Travels, gives a still further display of the costly
costume of the Queen's apartments. At Windsor Castle he tells us that
Her Majesty had "two bathing-rooms cieled and wainscoted with glass;"
and at Hampton Court he adds, "her closet in the chapel was most
splendid, quite transparent, having its window of chrystal. We were
led into two chambers, called the presence, or chambers of audience,
which shone with tapestry of gold and silver, and silk of different
colours.—Here is besides a small chapel richly hung with tapestry,
where the Queen performs her devotions. In her bed-chamber the bed
was covered with very costly cover lids of silk:—in one chamber were
several excessively rich tapestries, which are hung up when the queen
gives audience to foreign ambassadors; there were numbers of chusions
ornamented with gold and silver; many counterpanes and coverlids
of beds lined with ermine: in short, all the walls of the palace
shine with gold and silver. Here is besides a certain cabinet called
Paradise, where besides that every thing glitters so with silver, gold,
and jewels, as to dazzle ones eyes, there is a musical instrument made
all of glass, except the strings."[113:A]

The emulation of the nobility left them little behind their Queen in
ornamental profusion of this kind; and the picture which Shakspeare has
drawn of Imogen's chamber in _Cymbeline_, may be quoted as an apposite
instance, for he ever imparts the costume of his native island to that
of every other country:—

    "Her bed-chamber was hanged
     With tapestry of silk and silver; the story
     Proud Cleopatra, when she met her Roman—
     ——————————— A piece of work
     So bravely done, so rich, that it did strive
     In workmanship, and value.
     ——————————— The chimney-piece,
     Chaste Dian bathing.—
     ——————————— The roof o' the chamber
     With golden cherubins is fretted: Her andirons
     (I had forgot them) were two winking Cupids
     Of silver, each on one foot standing."[113:B]

To this sketch we can add a few features from a little work entitled
"The Mirrour of Madnes," anno 1576, where the house of the opulent man
is thus described:—"My chaumbers, parloures, and other such romes,
hanged wyth clothe of tyssue, arrace, and golde; my cupbordes heades
set oute and adorned after the richest, costlieste, and most gloryous
maner, wyth one cuppe cocke height upon an other, beside the greate
basen and ewer both of silver and golde; filled at convenient tymes
with sweete and pleasaunt waters, wherewith my delicate hands may be
washed, my heade recreated, and my nose refreshed, &c."[113:C]

When Lævinius Lemnius, a celebrated physician and divine of Zealand,
visited London, during the reign of Elizabeth, he was delighted
with the houses and furniture of the middle classes:—"The neate
cleanliness," says he, "the exquisite finenesse, the pleasaunte and
delightfull furniture in every point for household, wonderfully
rejoyced mee; their chambers and parlours, strawed over with sweet
herbes, refreshed mee; their nosegayes finelye entermingled wyth sondry
sortes of fragaunte floures, in their bed chambers and privie roomes,
with comfortable smell cheered mee up, and entierlye delighted all my

To these general descriptions, we shall subjoin some further remarks
on a few of the articles which they contain; minutiæ which will render
us more familiarly acquainted with the domestic arrangements of our

Arras or tapestry, representing landscapes and figures, formed the
almost universal hangings for rooms below, and chambers above. When
first introduced, it was attached to the bare walls; but it was soon
found necessary, in consequence of the damp arising from the brick
work, to suspend it on wooden frames, placed at such a distance
from the sides of the room, as would easily admit of any person
being introduced behind it, a facility which soon converted these
vacancies into common hiding-places. Thus Shakspeare, during his
scenic developements, has very frequent recourse to this expedient.
"I will ensconce me behind the arras[114:B];" "I whipt me behind the
arras[114:C];" "Look thou stand within the arras[114:D]:" "Go hide thee
behind the arras[114:E]:" "Behind the arras I'll convey myself[114:F],"
&c. &c.

We have seen that in the Country, mottoes were often placed in halls
and servants' chambers, for the instruction of the domestics; a custom
which was also adopted on tapestry for the improvement of their
superiors, and to which Shakspeare refers in his _Rape of Lucrece_,

    "Who fears a sentence, or an old man's saw,
     Shall by a _painted cloth_ be kept in awe;"[115:A]

and is further confirmed by Dr. Bulleyne, who, in one of his
productions, says,—"This is a comelie parlour,—and _faire clothes_,
with pleasaunte borders aboute the same, with many _wise sayings_
painted upon them."[115:B]

What these _wise sayings_ were, we are taught by the following extract
from a publication of 1601:—

    "Read what is written on the _painted cloth_:
     Do no man wrong; be good unto the poor;
     Beware the mouse, the maggot and the moth,
     And ever have an eye unto the door;
     Trust not a fool, a villain, nor a whore;
     Go neat, not gay, and spend but as you spare;
     And turn the colt to pasture with the mare; &c."[115:C]

proverbial wisdom, which Orlando, in _As You Like It_, designates by
the phrase "right painted cloth."[115:D]

That "the arras figures[115:E]," though in general coarsely executed,
had strongly impressed the mind of Shakspeare, and furnished him with
no small portion of imagery and allusion, has been very satisfactorily
established by Mr. Whiter, who remarks, that their "effects may be
perpetually traced by the observing critic," even "when the poet
himself is totally unconscious of this predominating influence."[115:F]

The manner of illuminating the halls and banquetting rooms of the
Great at this period, was truly classical. We find that Homer,
describing the palace of Alcinous, says—

    "Youths forged of gold, at every table there,
     Stood holding flaming torches;"[116:A]

and Lucretius, speaking of the Dome of the opulent, describes its walls

    "A thousand lamps irradiate, propt sublime
     By frolic forms of youths in massy gold,
       Flinging their splendours o'er the midnight feast."[116:B]

Similar to these were the

    —————————— "fixed candlesticks,
    With torch-staves in their hands,"[116:C]

of our ancestors, which generally represented a man in armour with his
hands extended, in which were placed the sockets for the lights; and we
may easily conceive how splendid these might be rendered by the arts of
the goldsmith and jeweller.

Where these antique candelabras were not adopted, _living
candle-holders_ supplied their place, and were, indeed, always present,
when a central or perambulatory light was required: "Give me a torch,"
says Romeo,

    "I'll be a candle-holder and look on."[116:D]

The gentlemen-pensioners of Queen Elizabeth usually held her torches;
and Shakspeare represents Henry the Eighth going to Wolsey's palace,
preceded by sixteen torch-bearers.[116:E] At great entertainments,
beside candelabras fixed against the sides of the room, torch-bearers
stood by the tables, supplying the light which we now receive from

_Watch-lights_, which were divided into equal portions by marks,
each of which burnt a limited time, were common in the bed-chambers
of the wealthy; they are alluded to in Tomkis's Albumazar, 1614,
where Sulpitia says, "Why should I sit up all night like a

Every _bed-chamber_ was furnished with _two_ beds, a _standing_-bed,
and a _truckle_-bed; in the former slept the master, and in the latter
his page. The Host, in _Merry Wives of Windsor_, directing Simple
where to find Sir John Falstaff, says,—"There's his chamber, his
house, his castle, his _standing-bed_, and _truckle-bed_[117:C];" and
Decker, and Middleton, further illustrate the custom, when the first,
alluding to a page, says, he is "so dear to his lordship, as for the
excellency of his fooling to be admitted both to ride in coach with
him, and _to lie at his very feet on a truckle-bed_[117:D];" and the
second, addressing a similar personage, exclaims,—"Well, go thy ways,
for as sweet a breasted _page as ever lay at his master's feet in a
truckle-bed_."[117:E] It may be added that the _standing-bed_ had
frequently on it a _counterpoint_, or _counterpane_, so rich and costly
as, according to Stowe, to be worth sometimes a thousand marks. This
piece of luxury forms one of Gremio's articles, when enumerating the
furniture of his _city-house_, a catalogue which throws much curious
light upon our present subject:—

    ———————— "My house within the city,
    Is richly furnished with plate and gold;
    Basons and ewers, to lave her dainty hands;
    My hangings all of Tyrian tapestry:
    In _ivory coffers_ I have stuffed my crowns;
    In _cypress chests_ my arras, _counter points_,
    Costly apparel, tents, and canopies,
    Fine linen, _Turky cushions boss'd with pearl_,
    _Valence of Venice gold_ in needle-work,
    _Pewter_ and brass, and all things that belong
    To house, or housekeeping."[118:A]

_Pewter_, during the reign of Elizabeth, was considered as a very
costly material, and, at the commencement of the sixteenth century,
had been so rare, as to be hired by the year, even for the use of
noblemen's houses.[118:B]

The _ivory coffers_, and _cypress chests_, mentioned in Gremio's
list, were esteemed, at this period, highly ornamental pieces of
furniture for apartments designed for the reception of visitors. "I
have seen," relates Mr. Steevens, "more than one of these, as old as
the time of our poet. They were richly ornamented on the tops and
sides with scroll-work, emblematical devices, &c. and were elevated on
feet."[118:C] Shakspeare has an allusion to this custom in _Twelfth
Night_, where he speaks of

    "Empty trunks, o'er flourished by the Devil."[118:D]

The _tables_ in these apartments, and in the halls of the nobility,
were so constructed as to _turn up_; being flat leaves, united by
hinges, and resting on tressels, so as to fold into a small compass.
Thus Capulet, wanting room for the dancers in his hall, calls out

    "A hall! a hall! give room, and foot it, girls,
     More light, ye knaves; and _turn the tables up_."[118:E]

When dinner, or supper, was served up, these tables were covered
with _carpets_; hence Gremio exclaims, "Where's the cook? Is supper
ready?—Be the carpets laid?"[118:F]

_Pictures_ constituted a frequent decoration in the rooms of the
wealthy; and there are numerous instances to prove that those which
were estimated as valuable, were protected by _curtains_. Olivia,
addressing Viola in _Twelfth Night_, says,—"We will draw the curtain,
and shew you the picture[119:A];" the same imagery occurs in _Troilus
and Cressida_, where Pandarus, unveiling Cressida, uses almost the same
words: "Come draw this curtain, and let us see your picture[119:B]."
The passage, however, which Mr. Douce has quoted in illustration of
this subject, as it decides the point, will supersede all further
reference:—"In Deloney's _Pleasant history of Jack of Newbery_,
printed before 1597, it is recorded," he remarks, "that 'in a faire
large parlour which was wainscotted round about, Jacke of Newbery had
fifteene faire pictures hanging, _which were covered with curtaines
of greene silke_, fringed with gold, which he would often shew to his

The practice of _strewing floors with rushes_ was general before the
introduction of carpets for this purpose, and the first mansions in the
kingdom could boast of nothing superior in this respect. Shakspeare
has many lines in reference to the custom; Glendower, for instance,
interpreting Lady Mortimer's address to her husband, says,

    ———————— "She bids you
    Upon the wanton _rushes_ lay you down."[119:D]

Again Iachimo, rising from the Trunk in Imogen's chamber, exclaims:—

    ——————————— "Our Tarquin thus
    Did softly press the _rushes_, ere he waken'd
    The chastity he wounded;"[119:E]

and lastly, Romeo calls out

    "A torch for me: let wantons light of heart,
     _Tickle the senseless rushes with their heels_."[120:A]

Similar allusions abound in our old dramatic poets, one of which we
shall give for the singularity of its comparison: "All the ladies and
gallants," says Jonson, in his _Cynthia's Revels_, "lye languishing
_upon the rushes_, like so many pounded cattle i' the midst of

The utility of the rush, and the species used for this purpose, will
be illustrated by the following passages:—"Rushes that grow upon
dry groundes," observes Dr. Bulleyne, "be good to strew in halles,
chambers, and galleries, to walke upon, defending apparell, as traynes
of gownes and kertles from dust[120:C];" and Decker tells us of
"windowes spread with hearbs, the chimney drest up with greene boughs,
and the _floore strewed with bulrushes_."[120:D]

Of the _hospitality_ of the English, and of the style of _eating_ and
_drinking_ in the upper ranks of society, Harrison has given us the
following curious, though general, detail.

"In number of dishes and change of meat," he remarks, "the nobilitie of
England (whose cookes are for the most part musicall headed Frenchmen
and strangers) doo most exceed, sith there is no daie in maner that
passeth over their heads, wherein they have not onelie béefe, mutton,
veale, lambe, kid, porke, conie, capon, pig, or so manie of these as
the season yeeldeth: but also some portion of the red or fallow déere,
beside great varietie of fish and wild foule, and thereto sundrie other
delicates wherein the sweet hand of the seafaring Portingale is not
wanting: so that for a man to dine with one of them, and to tast of
everie dish that standeth before him (which few use to doo, but ech
one feedeth upon that meat him best liketh for the time, the beginning
of everie dish notwithstanding being reserved unto the greatest
personage that sitteth at the table, to whome it is drawen up still by
the waiters as order requireth, and from whence it descendeth againe
even to the lower end, whereby each one may tast thereof) is rather to
yield unto a conspiracie with a greate deale of meat for the spéedie
suppression of naturall health, then the use of a necessarie meane
to satisfie himselfe with a competent repast, to susteine his bodie

"The chiefe part likewise of their dailie provision is brought in
before them (commonlie in silver vessell, if they be of the degree
of barons, bishops and upwards) and placed on their tables, whereof
when they have taken what it pleaseth them, the rest is reserved, and
afterward sent downe to their serving men and waiters, who féed thereon
in like sort with convenient moderation, their reversion also being
bestowed upon the poore, which lie readie at their gates in great
numbers to receive the same. This is spoken of the principall tables
whereat the nobleman, his ladie and guestes are accustomed to sit,
beside which they have a certeine ordinarie allowance daillie appointed
for their hals, where the chiefe officers and household servants (for
all are not permitted by custome to waite upon their master) and with
them such inferiour guestes doo feed as are not of calling to associat
the noble man himselfe (so that besides those afore mentioned, which
are called to the principall table, there are commonlie fortie or three
score persons fed in those hals,) to the great reliefe of such poore
sutors and strangers also as oft be partakers thereof and otherwise
like to dine hardlie. As for drinke it is usuallie filled in pots,
gobblets, jugs, bols of silver in noble mens houses, also in fine
Venice glasses of all formes, and for want of these elsewhere in pots
of earth of sundrie colours and moulds (whereof manie are garnished
with silver) or at the leastwise in pewter, all which notwithstanding
are seldome set on the table, but each one as necessitie urgeth,
calleth for a cup of such drinke as him listeth to have: so that
when he hath tasted of it he delivered the cup againe to some one of
the standers by, who making it cleane by pouring out the drinke that
remaineth, restoreth it to the cupbord from whence he fetched the same.
By this devise,—much idle tippling is further more cut off, for if the
full pots should continuallie stand at the elbow or neere the trencher,
diverse would alwaies be dealing with them, whereas now they drinke
seldome and onelie when necessitie urgeth, and so avoid the note of
great drinking, or often troubling of the servitors with filling of
their bols. Neverthelesse in the noble men's hals, this order is not
used, neither in anie mans house commonlie under the degree of a knight
or esquire of great revenues. It is a world to sée in these our daies,
wherein gold and silver most aboundeth, how that our gentilitie as
lothing those mettals (bicause of the plentie) do now generallie choose
rather the Venice glasses both for our wine and béere, than anie of
those mettals or stone wherein before time we have béene accustomed to
drinke, but such is the nature of man generallie that it most coveteth
things difficult to be atteined; and such is the estimation of this
stuffe, that manie become rich onelie with their new trade unto Murana
(a towne neere to Venice situat on the Adriatike sea) from whence the
verie best are dailie to be had, and such as for beautie doo well
neare match the christall or the ancient Murrhina vasa, whereof now no
man hath knowledge. And as this is seene in the gentilitie, so in the
wealthie communaltie the like desire of glasse is not neglected."[122:A]

To this interesting sketch a few particulars shall be added in order
to render the picture more complete; and, in the first place, we shall
give an account, from an eye-witness, of the ceremonies accompanying
the dinner-table of Elizabeth. "While the Queen was still at prayers,"
relates Hentzner, "we saw her table set out with the following

"A gentleman entered the room bearing a rod, and along with him
another who had a table-cloth, which, after they had both kneeled three
times with the utmost veneration, he spread upon the table, and after
kneeling again, they both retired. Then came two others, one with the
rod again, the other with a salt-seller, a plate and bread; when they
had kneeled, as the others had done, and placed what was brought upon
the table, they too retired with the same ceremonies performed by the
first. At last came an unmarried lady (we were told she was a countess)
and along with her a married one, bearing a tasting knife; the former
was dressed in white silk, who, when she had prostrated herself three
times in the most graceful manner, approached the table, and rubbed
the plates with bread and salt, with as much awe, as if the queen had
been present: when they had waited there a little while, the yeoman
of the guards entered, bareheaded, clothed in scarlet, with a golden
rose upon their backs, bringing in at each turn a course of twenty-four
dishes, served in plate, most of it gilt; these dishes were received
by a gentleman in the same order they were brought, and placed upon
the table, while the lady-taster gave to each of the guard a mouthful
to eat, of the particular dish he had brought for fear of any poison.
During the time that this guard, which consists of the tallest and
stoutest men that can be found in all England, being carefully selected
for this service, were bringing dinner, twelve trumpets and two
kettle-drums made the hall ring for half an hour together. At the end
of all this ceremonial a number of unmarried ladies appeared, who, with
particular solemnity, lifted the meat off the table, and conveyed it
into the queen's inner and more private chamber, where, after she had
chosen for herself, the rest goes to the ladies of the court. The queen
dines and sups alone with very few attendants."[123:A]

The strict regularity and temperance which prevailed in the court of
Elizabeth, were by no means characteristic of that of her successor,
who, in his convivial moments, too often grossly transgressed the
bounds of sobriety. When Christian IV., King of Denmark, visited
England in July, 1606, the carousals at the palace were carried to a
most extravagant height, and their influence on the higher ranks was
such, that "our good English nobles," remarks Harrington, "whom I never
could get to taste good liquor, now follow the fashion, and wallow in
beastly delights. The ladies abandon their sobriety, and are seen to
roll about in intoxication;" accusations which he fully substantiates
whilst relating the following most ludicrous scene:—

"One day," says he, "a great feast was held, and, after dinner, the
representation of Solomon his Temple, and the coming of the Queen
of Sheba was made, or (as I may better say) was meant to have been
made, before their Majesties, by device of the Earl of Salisbury and
others.—But, alas! as all earthly thinges do fail to poor mortals
in enjoyment, so did prove our presentment hereof. The Lady who did
play the Queen's part, did carry most precious gifts to both their
Majesties; but, forgetting the steppes arising to the canopy, overset
her caskets into his Danish Majesties lap, and fell at his feet, tho
I rather think it was in his face. Much was the hurry and confusion;
cloths and napkins were at hand, to make all clean. His Majesty then
got up and would dance with the Queen of Sheba; but he fell down
and humbled himself before her, and was carried to an inner chamber
and laid on a bed of state; which was not a little defiled with the
presents of the Queen which had been bestowed on his garments; such as
wine, cream, jelly, beverage, cakes, spices, and other good matters.
The entertainment and show went forward, and most of the presenters
went backward, or fell down; wine did so occupy their upper chambers.
Now did appear, in rich dress, Hope, Faith, and Charity: Hope did assay
to speak, but wine rendered her endeavours so feeble that she withdrew,
and hoped the King would excuse her brevity: Faith was then all alone,
for I am certain she was not joyned with good works, and left the court
in a staggering condition: Charity came to the King's feet, and seemed
to cover the multitude of sins her sisters had committed; in some
sorte she made obeysance and brought giftes, but said she would return
home again, as there was no gift which heaven had not already given
his Majesty. She then returned to Hope and Faith, who were both sick
and spewing in the lower hall. Next came Victory, in bright armour,
and presented a rich sword to the King, who did not accept it, but put
it by with his hand; and by a strange medley of versification, did
endeavour to make suit to the King. But Victory did not triumph long;
for, after much lamentable utterance, she was led away like a silly
captive, and laid to sleep in the outer steps of the anti-chamber. Now
did Peace make entry, and strive to get foremoste to the King; but
I grieve to tell how great wrath she did discover unto those of her
attendants; and much contrary to her semblance, most rudely made war
with her olive branch, and laid on the pates of those who did oppose
her coming." The facetious Knight concludes his story by declaring
that "in our Queen's days—I neer did see such lack of good order,
discretion, and sobriety, as I have now done."[125:A]

We have already mentioned in Part the First, Chapter the Fifth of this
work, that the usual hour of dinner, among the upper classes, was
eleven o'clock in the forenoon; and though Harrison, in the passage
which we last quoted from him, describes the provisions as often
brought to the tables of the nobility served on silver, yet _wooden
trenchers_ for plates were still frequently to be found at the most
sumptuous tables; thus Harrington in 1592, giving directions to his
servants, orders, "that no man waite at the table without a _trencher_
in his hand, except it be upon good cause, on pain of 1d."[125:B]

To the silver, gilt plate, and cut glass of Harrison, may be added the
use of _china_, an article of luxury to which the Clown in _Measure
for Measure_ thus alludes:—"Your honours have seen such dishes; they
are not _china dishes_, but very good dishes."[125:C] A considerable
quantity of _china_ or _porcelain_, had been brought into this country,
during the reign of Elizabeth, as part of the cargo of some captured
Spanish carracks.[126:A] It appears, also, that carpet-cloth for tables
was, towards the close of our period, dismissed for table-linen, and
that of a quality so fine, that Mrs. Otter, in Ben Jonson's _Silent
Woman_, which was first acted in 1609, laments having "stained a damask
table-cloth, cost me eighteen pound."[126:B]

With all these luxuries, the reader will be surprised to learn, that
_forks_ were not introduced into this country before 1611. Knives
had been in general use since the year 1563, but for the former the
fingers had been the sole substitute. The honour of this cleanly
fashion, must be given to that singular traveller Thomas Coryat, who
in his _Crudities_ informs us, that he found _forks_ common in Italy.
"Hereupon," says he, "I myself thought good to imitate the Italian
fashion, by this _forked_ cutting of meate, not only while I was in
Italy, but also in Germany, and oftentimes in _England since I_ came
home; being once quipped for that frequent using of my _forke_, by a
certaine learned gentleman, a familiar friend of mine, one M. Laurence
Whitaker, who in his merry humour doubted not to call me at table
_Furcifer_, only for using a _forke_ at feeding, but for no other

The utility of the practice was soon acknowledged, for we find
Jonson, in 1614, speaking of their adoption in his "Devil Is An Ass,"
where Meercraft, having mentioned his "project of the forks," Sledge

           "Forks? what be they?

    _Meer._ The laudable use of _forks_,
            _Brought into custom here_, as they are in Italy,
            To th' sparing o' napkins."[126:D]

To the articles of provision enumerated by Harrison, we may add, that
the bread of this period was of many various kinds, and sometimes
peculiarly fine, especially that made at York. "Bred," says a physician
who wrote in 1572, "of dyvers graines, of divers formes, in divers
places be used:—some in forme of manchet, used of the gentility:
some of greate loves, as is usual among yeomanry, some betweene both,
as with the franklings: some in forme of cakes, as at weddings: some
rondes of hogs, as at upsittings: some simnels, cracknels, and buns,
as in the Lent, some in brode cakes, as the oten cakes in Kendall on
yrons: some on slate stones as in the hye peke: some in frying pans
as in Darbyshyre: some betwene yrons as wapons: some in round cakes
as bysket for the ships. But these and all other the mayne bread of
York excelleth, for that it is of the finest floure of the wheat well
tempered, best baked, a patterne of all others the fineste."[127:A]

Dinners had attained a degree of epicurism which rival those of the
present day; three courses, of which the second consisted of game,
and the third of pastry, creams, and confections, together with a
dessert, including marchpane, (a cake composed of filberts, almonds,
pistacho-nuts, pine-kernels, sugar of roses, and flour) marmalades,
pomegranates, oranges, citrons, apples, pears, raisins, dates, nuts,
grapes, &c. &c.[127:B], were common in the houses of the opulent, nor
was any expense spared in procuring the most luxurious dainties. "Who
will not admire," remarks an Essayist of this age, "our nice dames of
London, who must have cherries at twenty shillings a pound, and pescods
at five shillings a pecke, huske without pease? Yong rabbettes of a
spanne, and chickens of an inch?"[127:C]

To such a height, indeed, had sensuality in eating arisen among the
courtiers of James the First, that Osborne, in his "Traditional
Memorials" on the reign of that monarch, informs us, "the _Earl of
Carlisle_ was one of the _Quorum_, that brought in the vanity of
_Ante-suppers_ not heard of in our Fore-fathers time, and for ought
I have read, or at least remember, unpractised by the most luxurious
tyrants. The manner of which was, to have a board covered at the first
entrance of the guests with dishes as high as a tall man could well
reach, filled with the choicest and dearest viands sea and land could
afford: and all this once seen and having feasted the eyes of the
invited, was in a manner thrown away, and fresh set on the same height,
having only this advantage of the other, that it was hot. I cannot
forget one of the attendants of the K. that at a feast, made by this
monster in excess, eat to his single share a whole pie reckoned to my
Lord at ten pounds."[128:A]

The extravagance and excess of refection with regard to eatables,
must, however, we are sorry to say, yield to those which accompanied
the use, or rather the abuse, of vinous liquors. The propensity of the
English of his times to drunkenness, has been frequently commented on
by Shakspeare; Iago, in reference to a drinking-catch which he had
just sung, says, "I learned it in England, where (indeed) they are
most potent in potting; your Dane, your German, and your swag-bellied
Hollander,—Drink, ho!—are nothing to your English.

_Cass._ Is your Englishman so expert in his drinking?

_Iago._ Why, he drinks you, with facility, your Dane dead drunk; he
sweats not to overthrow your Almain; he gives your Hollander a vomit,
ere the next pottle can be filled[128:B];" a charge which seems to
be confirmed by the sober testimony of Gascoigne,—"The Almaynes,"
he observes, "with their smale Rhenish wine, are contented; but we
must have March beere, double beere, dagger ale, bracket, &c. Yea,
wine itself is not sufficient, but sugar, lemons, and spices, must
be drowned thereinne!"[129:A] Yet, it is but fair to subjoin, as an
acknowledged fact, that we derived this _vinosity_, as Heywood terms
it, from the Danes; "they," says he, "have made a profession thereof
from antiquity, and are the first upon record that brought their
wassel-bowles and elbowe-deep healthes into this land."[129:B]

Of the _consumption_ of wine, a striking estimate may be formed, from
part of a letter addressed by the Earl of Shrewsbury to the Marquis
of Winchester and Sir Walter Mildmay, dated January, 1569:—"It may
please you to understaund," says His Lordship, "that whereas I have
had a certen ordinary allowaunce of wine, amongs other noble men, for
expenses in my howsehold, w{t}out imposte; The charg˜s daily that
I do nowe susteyn, and have done all this yere past, well knowen by
reason of the Quene of Scotts, are so grete therein as I am compelled
to be now a suter unto yow that ye woll please to have a friendlie
considerac˜on unto the necessitie of my large expenses. _Truly two
tonnes in a monthe have not hitherto sufficed ordinarily._" "This
passage," observes Mr. Lodge, "will serve to correct a vulgar error,
relating to the consumption of wine in those days, which, instead
of being less, appears to have been, at least in the houses of the
great, even more considerable than that of the present time. The good
people who tell us that Queen Elizabeth's Maids of Honour breakfasted
on roast beef, generally add, that wine was then used in England
as a medicine, for that it was sold only by the _apothecaries_. The
latter assertion, though founded on a fact, seems to have led to a
mistake in the former; for the word Apothecary, from the Greek Αποθήκη,
_repositorium_, is applicable to any shopkeeper, or warehouseman, and
was probably once used in that general sense."[129:C] It appears,
however, from Decker's Tracts, that apothecaries, in the _modern
acceptation of the word_, sold both wine and tobacco, and that their
shops formed the fashionable lounge of the day:—"here you must observe
to know in what state tobacco is in town, better than the merchants;
and to discourse of the apothecaries where it is to be sold; and to be
able to speak of their wines, _as readily as the apothecary himself
reading the barbarous hand of a doctor_."[130:A] "Some lie in ambush,
to note what _apothecary's shop_ he (the gallant) resorts to _every

The _variety_ of wines in the days of Shakspeare has not since been
exceeded, or, perhaps, even equalled. Harrison mentions fifty-six
French wines, and thirty-six Spanish, Italian, &c., to which must be
added several _home-made_ wines, such as Ypocras, Clarey, Braket, &c.
&c., for which receipts may be found in Arnold's Chronicle.

Among the _foreign_ wines used at this period, none have attracted
so much notice, or so much controversy, as the celebrated beverage
of Falstaff, _Sack_. Whether this was a _dry_ or a _sweet_ wine has
been left undecided by the commentators, after much elaborate and
contradictory disquisition. If we may repose, however, on the authority
of Gervase Markham's "English Housewife," a book _published_ very
shortly after the death of Shakspeare, and probably _written_ several
years before that event, a book professing to contain "the opinions
of the greatest Physicians," many years antecedent to the Dedication
which includes this assertion[130:C], the question must be considered
as finally settled. This author, in his fourth chapter, entitled, "The
ordering, preserving, and helping of all sorts of Wines, and first of
the choice of sweet Wines," opens the subject by declaring, that he had
derived his knowledge on wines from a vintner "profest skilful in the
trade," and he then immediately proceeds, addressing the housewife,
to speak first of the election of _sweet_ wines; "she must," says he,
"be carefull that the Malmseys be full wines, pleasant, well hewed and
fine: that Bastard be fat, and strong, if it be tawney it skils not:
for the tawny Bastards be always the sweetest. Muscadine must be great,
pleasant and strong with a sweet scent, and with Amber colour. _Sack_
if it be _Seres_ (_as it should be_) you shall know it by the mark of a
cork burned on one side of the bung, and they be ever full gage, and so
are _other Sacks_, and the longer they lye, the better they be."[131:A]

From this passage we learn three circumstances relative to _Sack_:
1stly, that _Sack_ was a _sweet_ wine; 2dly, that _Seres_, or _Xeres_,
_Sack_, or what Shakspeare, in 1597, calls "_a good sherris-sack_,"
a wine manufactured at Xeres in Spain, was the most esteemed of its
kind; and, 3dly, that _other Sacks_ were in use in this country. Still
further light is thrown upon this topic in a subsequent page, where
we are told, when enumerating the _sweet_ wines in contradistinction
to those of a sharp taste, that Sacks are of _three_ species—"Your
_best Sacks_ are of _Seres_ in Spain, your _smaller_ of Galicia and
Portugall, your _strong Sacks_ are of the Islands of the Canaries,
and of Malligo."[131:B] It is, therefore, to be inferred, that,
though all these _Sacks_ were _sweet_, the _sweetest_, as well as the
strongest, were the _Canary_ and _Malaga_; _next to these in saccharine
impregnation, and best in flavour_, the _Xeres_; and lastly, the
_weakest and least sweet_, were the _Galicia_ and _Portugal_.

The conclusion we consequently draw from these premises is, that _the
Sherris-Sack of Falstaff was Spanish Xeres, a wine not dry, like our
modern Sherry, but sweet, and though not so strong or so sweet as the
Sacks brought from Canary and Malaga, superior in flavour to both_.

It may be objected to this deduction, that if _Sherris-Sack_ were a
sweet wine, it would not have been necessary to add sugar to it, an
article which Sir John ever mingled with his favourite potation.[131:C]
This will not prove valid, however, when we recollect that, in the
first place, Xeres was not the _sweetest_ of the Sacks, and, in the
second, that in Shakspeare's time it was the custom to mix sugar
with every species of wine; "gentlemen garrawse," observes Fynes
Moryson, "only in wine, with which they mix sugar, which I never
observed in any other place or kingdom to be used for that purpose.
And because the taste of the English is thus delighted with sweetness,
the wines in taverns (for I speak not of merchantes or gentlemen's
cellars) are commonly mixed at the filling thereof, to make them
pleasant."[132:A] A similar partiality for sugar in wine is noticed
by Paul Hentzner[132:B], as one of the peculiarities of the English;
and from these passages Mr. Reed deduces the legitimate inference that
the fondness of the English nation for sugar, at this epoch, was so
great as to induce them to mix it even with sweet wines; "if," says
he, "the English drank only rough wine with _sugar_, there appears
nothing extraordinary, or worthy of particular notice.—The addition
of _sugar_, even to _sack_, might, _perhaps_, to a taste habituated
to sweets, operate only in a manner to improve the flavour of the

We find also from Sir John's comments on his favourite liquor, that
he added not only _sugar_, but a _toast_ to it[132:D]; that he had
an insuperable aversion to its being mulled with eggs, vehemently
exclaiming, "I'll no pullet-sperm in my brewage[132:E];" and that he
abominated its sophistication with lime, declaring that "a coward is
worse than a cup of sack with lime in it[132:F];" an ingredient which
the vinters used to increase its strength and durability.

To this deterioration, our witty Knight, as his convivial hours were
usually spent in _taverns_, was, of course, peculiarly subject. Houses
of this description were very numerous in our author's days, and, there
is reason to think, fully as much frequented as are similar places
in the present age. The _Boars Head Tavern_ in Eastcheap, and the
_Mermaid_ in Cornhill, immortalised in the writings of Shakspeare, Ben
Jonson, and Fletcher, are enumerated in a _long list_ of taverns given
us in an old black-letter quarto, entitled _Newes from Bartholomew
Fayre_[133:A]; and to these we must add, as of equal poetical
celebrity, the _Tabard Inn_ or Tavern, noticed by Stowe, in 1598,
as the most ancient in Southwark[133:B], and endeared to us as the
"Hosterie" of the never-to-be-forgotten pilgrims, in that delightful
work, the _Canterbury Tales_ of Chaucer.

A tavern, says a writer, who lived in these times, and who published in
1628, "is the common consumption of the afternoon, and the murderer or
maker-away of a rainy day.—To give you the total reckoning of it; it
is the busy man's recreation, the idle man's business, the melancholy
man's sanctuary, the stranger's welcome, the inns-of-court man's
entertainment, the scholar's kindness, and the citizen's curtesy. It
is the study of sparkling wits, and a cup of canary their book."[134:A]

At these places were regular _ordinaries_, which Decker tells us were
of three kinds; namely, "an _ordinary of the largest reckoning_,
whither most of your courtly gallants do resort;" a _twelve-penny
ordinary_ frequented by "the justice of peace or young knight;" and
a _three-penny ordinary_, "to which your London usurer, your stale
batchelor, and your thrifty attorney do resort."[134:B]

From the same author we also learn, that it was usual in taverns,
especially in the city, to send presents of wine from one room to
another, as a complimentary mark of friendship:—"Enquire," directs
he, "what gallants sup in the next room; and, _if they be any of your
acquaintance_, do not you, _after the city fashion_, send them in _a
pottle of wine and your name_."[134:C] This custom, too, is recorded by
Shakspeare, as a mode of introduction to a stranger, where Bardolph,
at the Garter Inn, Windsor, addressing Falstaff, says,—"Sir John,
there's one master Brook below would fain speak with you, and be
acquainted with you; and hath sent your worship a morning's draught
of sack[134:D];" a passage which Mr. Malone has illustrated by the
following nearly contemporary anecdote:—"Ben Jonson," he relates,
"was at a tavern, and in comes Bishop Corbet, (but not so then,) into
the next room. Ben Jonson calls for a quart of _raw_ wine, and gives
it to the tapster. 'Sirrah,' says he, 'carry this to the gentleman in
the next chamber, and tell him, I sacrifice my service to him.' The
fellow did, and in those words. 'Friend,' says Dr. Corbet, 'I thank him
for his love; but 'pr'ythee tell him from me that he is mistaken; for
_sacrifices_ are always _burnt_."[134:E]

The most singular and offensive practice, however, at least to modern
manners, which occurred at this period in taverns, a practice common,
too, even among the higher ranks, is likewise related by Decker, when
giving advice "How a Gallant should behave himself in an Ordinary" of
the first class:—"You may rise in dinner time," he tells his "courtly
gallant," "to ask for a _closestool_, protesting to all the gentlemen
that it costs you an hundred pounds a year in physick, besides the
annual pension which your wife allows her doctor; and, if you please,
you may, as your great French lord doth, _invite some special friend
of yours from the table to hold discourse with you as you sit in that
withdrawing chamber_; from whence being returned again to the board,
you shall sharpen the wits of all the eating gallants about you, and do
them great pleasure to ask what pamphlets or poems a man might think
fittest to wipe his tail with."[135:A] Gross as this habit now appears
to us, it was prevalent upon the continent until nearly the close of
the last century.

To the reign of Elizabeth is to be attributed the introduction of a
luxury, which has since become almost universal, the custom of using,
or, as it was then called, of _taking tobacco_. This herb, which
was first brought into England by Sir Francis Drake, about the year
1586, met with an early and violent opposition, and gave birth to a
multitude of invectives and satires, among which the most celebrated
is King James's "Counterblast to Tobacco." This monarch entertained
the most rooted antipathy to the use of tobacco in any form, and
closes his treatise by asserting that it is "a custom loathsome to the
eye, hatefull to the nose, harmfull to the braine, dangerous to the
lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, nearest resembling
the horrible Stigian smoake of the pit that is bottomless."[135:B] He
also tells us in another work, that were he to invite the devil to a
dinner, "he should have these three dishes—1. a pig; 2. a poole of
ling and mustard; and 3. a pipe of tobacco for digesture."[136:A]

Tobacco may be said, indeed, to have made many inroads in domestic
cleanliness, and, on this account, to have deservedly incurred the
dislike of that large portion of the female sex on whom the charge
of household economy devolved. "Surely," says James, "smoke becomes
a kitchin farre better than a dining chamber," a remark which is as
applicable now as it was then; but we cannot help smiling when he
adds, with his usual credulity, "and yet it makes a kitchin also
oftentimes in the inward parts of men, soyling and infecting them, with
an unctuous and oily kind of soote, as hath bene found in some great
_Tobacco_ takers, that after their death were opened."[136:B]

Such were, indeed, the tales in common circulation among the lower
orders, and which Ben Jonson has very humorously put into the mouth
of _Cob_ in _Every Man in his Humour_:—"By Gods me," says the
water-bearer, "I marle what pleasure or felicity they have in taking
this roguish tobacco! It's good for nothing but to choak a man, and
fill him full of smoke and embers: there were four died out of one
house last week with taking of it, and two more the bell went for
yesternight; one of them, they say, will ne'er scape it; he voided a
bushel of soot yesterday, upward and downward. By the stocks, an' there
were no wiser men than I, I'd have it present whipping, man or woman,
that should but deal with a tobacco-pipe; why, it will stifle them all
in the end, as many as use it; it's little better than ratsbane or

It would appear that the prejudices against the use of this narcotic
required much time for their extirpation; for Burton, who wrote
about thirty years after its introduction, and at the very close of
the Shakspearean era, seems as violent against the common use of
tobacco as even James himself:—"A good vomit," says he, "I confesse,
a vertuous herbe, if it be well qualified, opportunely taken, and
medicinally used, but as it is commonly used by most men, which take
it as Tinkers do ale, 'tis a plague, a mischiefe, a violent purger of
goods, lands, health, hellish, devilish damn'd tobacco, the ruine and
overthrow of body and soule."[137:A]

Notwithstanding this abuse, however, and the edicts of King James
forbidding its consumption in all ale-houses, tobacco soon acquired
such general favour, that Stowe tells us in his Annals, "it was
commonly used by _most_ men and _many_ women;" and James, appealing to
his subjects, exclaims,—"Now how you are by this custome disabled in
your goods, let the gentry of this land beare witnesse, some of them
bestowing three, some foure hundred pounds a yeere upon this precious
stinke[137:B];" a sum so enormous, that we must conclude them to have
been as determined smokers as the Buckinghamshire parson recorded by
Lilly, who "was so given over to tobacco and drink, that when he had
_no_ tobacco, he would cut the _bell-ropes_ and _smoke_ them!"[137:C]

_Snuff-taking_ was as much in fashion as smoking; and the following
passage from Decker proves, that the _gallants_ of his day were as
extravagant and ridiculous in their use of it as our modern _beaux_,
whether we regard the splendour of their boxes, or their affectation
in applying the contents; it appears also to have been customary to
take snuff immediately before dinner. "Before the meat come smoking to
the board, our gallant must draw out his tobacco-box, 'and' the ladle
for the cold snuff into the nostril,—all which artillery may be of
gold or silver, if he can reach to the price of it;—then let him shew
his several tricks in taking it, as the whiff, the ring, &c. for these
are complements that gain gentlemen no mean respect."[137:D] "It is
singular," remarks Dr. Nott, alluding to the general use of tobacco
at this period, "when the introduction of this new indulgence had so
engaged the pen of almost every cotemporary playwright and pamphleteer,
nay, even of royalty itself, that Shakspeare should have been totally
silent upon it."[138:A]

The residue of the _Domestic Economy_ of this era may be included under
the articles of _servants_ and _miscellaneous household arrangements_.

In the days of Elizabeth servants were more numerous, and considered as
a more essential mark of gentility, than at any subsequent period. "The
English," observes Hentzner, "are lovers of shew, liking to be followed
wherever they go by whole troops of servants, who wear their master's
arms in silver, fastened to their left arms."[138:B] They were, also,
usually distinguished by _blue coats_; thus Grumio, enquiring for his
master's servants, says,—"Call forth Nathaniel, Joseph, Nicholas,
Philip, Walter, Sugarsop, and the rest; let their heads be sleekly
combed, their _blue coats_ brushed."[138:C] We learn, however, from
Fynes Moryson, that both silver badges and blue coats went out of
fashion in the reign of James the First; "the servants of _gentlemen_,"
he informs us, "were wont to weare _blew coates_, with their master's
_badge of silver on the left sleeve_, but now they most commonly weare
_clokes garded with lace_, all the servants of one family wearing the
same livery for colour and ornament."[138:D]

The very strict regulations to which servants were subjected in the
sixteenth century, and the admirable order preserved in the household
of the upper classes at that time, will be illustrated in a very
satisfactory and entertaining manner, by the "Orders for Household
Servantes; first devised by John Haryngton, in the yeare 1566, and
renewed by John Haryngton, Sonne of the saide John, in the yeare 1592:
the saide John, the Sonne, being then High Shrieve of the County of

"Imprimis, That no servant bee absent from praier, at morning or
evening, without a lawfull excuse, to be alledged within one day after,
upon payne to forfeit for every tyme 2d.

2. "_Item_, That none sweare any othe, uppon paine for every othe 1d.

3. "_Item_, That no man leave any doore open, that he findeth shut,
without there bee cause, upon payne for every tyme 1d.

4. "_Item_, That none of the men be in bed, from our Lady-day to
Michaelmas, after 6 of the clock in the morning: nor out of his bed
after 10 of the clock at night; nor, from Michaelmas till our Lady-day,
in bed after 7 in the morning; nor out after 9 at night, without
reasonable cause, on paine of 2d.

5. "Item, That no man's bed be unmade, nor fire or candle-box uncleane,
after 8 of the clock in the morning, on paine of 1d.

6. "_Item_, That no man make water within either of the courts, upon
paine of, every tyme it shalbe proved, 1d.

7. "_Item_, That no man teach any of the children any unhonest speeche,
or baudie word, or othe, on paine of 4d.

8. "_Item_, That no man waite at the table, without a trencher in his
hand, except it be uppon some good cause, on paine of 1d.

9. "_Item_, That no man appointed to waite at my table, be absent that
meale, without reasonable cause, on paine of 1d.

10. "_Item_, If any man breake a glasse, hee shall answer the price
thereof out of his wages; and, if it bee not known who breake it, the
buttler shall pay for it, on paine of 12d.

11. "_Item_, The table must bee covered halfe an hour before 11 at
dinner, and 6 at supper, or before, on paine of 2d.

12. "_Item_, That meate bee readie at 11, or before, at dinner; and 6,
or before, at supper, on paine of 6d.

13. "_Item_, That none be absent, without leave or good cause, the
whole day, or any part of it, on paine of 4d.

14. "_Item_, That no man strike his fellow, on paine of losse of
service; nor revile or threaten, or provoke another to strike, on paine
of 12d.

15. "_Item_, That no man come to the kitchen without reasonable cause,
on paine of 1d. and the cook likewyse to forfeit 1d.

16. "_Item_, That none toy with the maids, on paine of 4d.

17. "_Item_, That no man weare foule shirt on Sunday, nor broken hose
or shooes, or dublett without buttons, on paine of 1d.

18. "_Item_, That when any strainger goeth hence, the chamber be drest
up againe within 4 hours after, on paine of 1d.

19. "_Item_, That the hall bee made cleane every day, by eight in the
winter, and seaven in the sommer, on paine of him that should do it to
forfet 1d.

20. "That the court-gate bee shutt each meale, and not opened during
dinner and supper, without just cause, on paine the porter to forfet
for every time 1d.

21. "_Item_, That all stayrs in the house, and other rooms that neede
shall require, bee made cleane on Fryday after dinner, on paine of
forfeyture of every on whome it shall belong unto, 3d.

"All which sommes shalbe duly paide each quarter-day out of their
wages, and bestowed on the poore, or other godly use."[140:A]

To the tribe of household servants, must be added, as a constant inmate
in the houses of the great, during the life of Shakspeare, and, indeed,
to the close of the reign of Charles I., that motley personage, the
_Domestic Fool_, who was an essential part of the entertainment of the
fire-side, not only in the palace and the castle, but in the tavern and
the brothel.

The character of the "all-licens'd fool" has been copied from the life,
with his usual naïveté and precision, and with an inexhaustible fund of
wit, in many of the plays of our poet; yet, perhaps, we shall no where
find a more condensed and faithful picture of the manners of this once
indispensable source of domestic pleasantry, than what has been given
us by Dr. Lodge:—"This fellow," says he, "in person is comely, in
_apparell_ courtly, but in behaviour a very ape, and no man; his studie
is to coine _bitter jeasts_, or to shew antique motions, or _to sing
baudie sonnets and ballads_: give him a little wine in his head, he is
continually flearing and making of mouthes: he laughs intemperately at
every little occasion, and dances about the house, leaps over tables,
out-skips mens heads, trips up his companion's heeles, burns sack with
a candle, and hath all the feats of a lord of misrule in the countrie:
feed him in his humor, you shall have his heart, in meere kindnesse he
will hug you in his armes, kisse you on the cheeke, and rapping out an
horrible oth, crie God's soule Tum I love you, you know my poore heart,
come to my chamber for a pipe of tabacco, there lives not a man in
this world that I more honour. In these ceremonies you shall know his
courting, and it is a speciall mark of him at the table, he sits and
makes faces."[141:A]

On the passages in this quotation distinguished by Italics, it will
be necessary to offer a brief comment. From Shakspeare we learn that
the _apparel_ of the domestic fool was of two kinds; he had either a
parti-coloured coat fastened round the body by a girdle, with close
breeches, and hose on each leg of different colours; or he wore a
long petticoat dyed with curious tints, and fringed with yellow. With
both dresses was generally connected a hood, covering the whole head,
falling over part of the breast and shoulders, and surmounted with
asses ears, or a cocks-comb. Bells and a bauble were the usual insignia
of the character; the former either attached to the elbows, or the
skirt of the coat, and the latter, consisting of a stick, decorated at
one end with a carved fool's head, and having at the other an inflated
bladder, an instrument either of sport or defence.

_Bitter jests_, provided they were so dressed up, or so connected
with adjunctive circumstances, as to raise a laugh, were at all
times allowed; but it was moreover expected, that their keenness or
bitterness should be also allayed by a due degree of obliquity in the
mode of attack, by a careless, and, apparently, undesigning manner of
delivery, and by a playful and frolic demeanour. For these purposes,
fragments of _sonnets and ballads_ were usually chosen by the fool, as
a safe medium through which the necessary degree of concealment might
be given, and the edge of his sarcasm duely abated; a practice of which
Shakspeare has afforded us many instances, and especially in his _Fool_
in _King Lear_, whose scraps of old songs fully exemplify the aim and
scope of this favourite of our ancestors.[142:A]

A few _household arrangements_, in addition to those developed in Sir
John Harrington's orders, shall terminate this branch of our subject.

We have seen, when treating of the domestic economy of the country
squire, that it was usual to take their banquet or dessert, in an
arbour of the garden or orchard; and in town, the nobility and gentry,
immediately after dinner and supper, adjourned to another room, for
the purpose of enjoying their wine and fruit; this practice is alluded
to by Shakspeare, in _Romeo and Juliet_[142:B]; and Beaufort, in the
_Unnatural Combat_ of Massinger, says:—

    "We'll _dine_ in the great room, but let the musick
     And _banquet_ be prepared here;"[142:C]

a custom which it is astonishing the delicacy and refinement of modern
manners have not _generally_ adopted.

As our ancestors, during the greater part of the period we are
considering, possessed not the conveniency of eating with forks, and
were, therefore, compelled to make use of their fingers, it became an
essential point of good manners, to wash the hands immediately _before_
dinner and supper, as well as afterwards: thus Petruchio, on the
entrance of his servants with supper, says, addressing his wife,—

    "Come, Kate, and _wash_, and welcome heartily."[143:A]

In the fifteenth item of Harrington's Orders, we find that _no man was
allowed to come to the kitchen without reasonable cause_, an injunction
which may appear extraordinary; but, in those days, it was customary,
in order to prevent the cook being disturbed in his important duties,
to keep the rest of the men aloof, and, when dinner was ready, he
summoned them to carry it on the table, by knocking loudly on the
dresser with his knife: thus in Massinger's _Unnatural Combat_,
Beaufort's steward says,—

    "When the dresser, the cook's drum, thunders, Come on,
     The service will be lost else;"[143:B]

a practice which gave rise to the phraseology, _he knocks to the
dresser_, or, _he warns to the dresser_, as synonymous with the
annunciation that, "dinner is ready."

It was usual, also, especially where the domestic fool was retained, to
keep an ape or a monkey, as a companion for him, and he is frequently
represented with this animal on his shoulders. Monkeys, likewise,
appear to have been an indispensable part of a lady's establishment,
and, accordingly, Ben Jonson, in his _Cynthia's Revels_, represents
one of his characters as asserting, "the gentleman (I'll undertake
with him) is a man of fair living, and able to maintain a lady in _her
two caroches a day, besides pages, monkeys, parachitoes, with such
attendants as she shall think meet for her turn_."[144:A]

Beside monkeys and parachitoes, this quotation also proves, that
_caroches_, a species of coach, were common in 1600, when Jonson's play
was first acted. The _coach_ and _caroch_, vehicles differing probably
rather in size than form, are thus distinguished by Green, who in his
_Tu Quoque_, 1641, speaks of

    ——————— "the keeping of a _coach_
    For country, and _caroch_ for London;"[144:B]

and, indeed, in 1595, they seem to have been equally general, for the
author of _Quippes for upstart newfangled Gentlewemen_, says:—

    "Our wantons now in coaches dash
       From house to house, from street to street."[144:C]

The era of their introduction into this country has been recorded by
Taylor, the water-poet. "In the year 1564," he remarks, "one William
Boonen, a Dutchman, brought _first_ the use of coaches hither, and the
said Boonen was Queene Elizabeth's coachman; for indeede a coach was a
strange monster in those days, and the sight of it put both horse and
man into amazement: some said it was a great crab shell brought out of
China, and some imagined it to be one of the Pagan Temples, in which
the Cannibals adored the divell; but at last those doubts were cleared,
and coach-making became a substantial trade."[144:D]

So substantial, indeed, had this trade become in 1601, that on the 7th
of November of the same year, an act was introduced into the House of
Lords, "to restrain the _excessive and superfluous use of coaches_,
within this realm[145:A];" it was rejected, however, on the second
reading, and the trade of coach-making went on progressively increasing.

The extravagancy of domestic economy, with regard to these machines,
and the servants who were deemed necessary, as their accompaniment,
is strikingly depicted in the following extract from a letter written
shortly after their marriage, by Lady Compton, to her husband, William
Lord Compton, a few years subsequent to the death of Shakspeare.
After several _items_ equally _moderate_ with those we are going to
transcribe, she thus proceeds:—"Alsoe, I will have 6 or 8 gentlemen;
and I will have my twoe coaches, one lyned with velvett to myselfe,
w{th} 4 very fayre horses, and a coache for my woemen, lyned w{th}
sweete cloth, one laced w{th} gold, the other w{th} scarlett, and laced
with watched lace and silver, w{th} 4 good horses. Alsoe, I will have
twoe coachmen, one for my owne coache, the other for my women. Alsoe,
att any tyme when I travayle, I will be allowed not only carroches,
and spare horses for me and my women, but I will have such carryadgs,
as shal be fittinge for all orderly; not pestringe my things w{th} my
woemens, nor theirs w{th} either chambermayds, or theirs w{th} wase
maids. Alsoe, for laundresses, when I travayle I will have them sent
away before w{th} the carryadgs to see all safe, and the chambermayds
I will have goe before w{th} the groomes, that a chamber may be
ready, sweete and cleane. Alsoe, for that yt is indecent to croud upp
myself w{th} my gentl. usher in my coache, I will have him to have a
convenyent horse to attend me either in citty or country. And I must
have 2 footemen. And my desire is, that you defray all the chardges for

Of the MANNERS and CUSTOMS of this period, the next branch of our
present enquiry, we shall open a short review, by sketching the
prominent features of Elizabeth's personal character, which must,
necessarily, have had great influence, not only on her courtiers, but
on society at large. As a monarch, she was, with few exceptions, truly
worthy of admiration; but, as a woman, she often exhibits such a series
of weaknesses and frailties, as must excite astonishment, as well from
the force of contrast, as from their own turpitude and folly.

The most valuable and praise-worthy part of her private character, her
literary accomplishments, her love of learning, and her encouragement
of letters, together with the influence which they exerted over the
minds of her subjects, have been considered, at some length, in the
first volume of this work[146:A]; and to the favourable side of the
picture, we must here add, that she was equally eminent for some
acquirements more peculiarly feminine. Among these, her skill in
needle-work has been more than once particularly celebrated, her
excellence in which stimulated the ladies of her reign to more than
ordinary exertion in this useful department. "The various kinds of
needle-work practised by our indefatigable grandmothers," observes Mr.
Douce, "if enumerated, would astonish even the most industrious of our
modern ladies;" and he adds, that "many curious books of patterns for
lace and all sorts of needle-work were formerly published."[146:B]

But this rare example, in a monarch, of industry and economy, and
the still more important acquisitions of literature and science,
were overwhelmed by a host of foibles, among which, none were more
remarkable than her extreme vanity and coquetry, and at a period too,
when she had reason to expect, from her infirmities, and the common law
of nature, that death was not far distant. To be thought beautiful,
young, and agile, and an object of amorous affection, to the last
moment of her existence, seems to have been her chief ambition as a
woman; nor could any language on these topics, when addressed to her,
be too complimentary, amatory, or glowing. When _sixty years of age_,
Raleigh thus speaks of her, in a letter intended for her perusal:—"I
that was wont to see her riding like Alexander, hunting like Diana,
walking like Venus, the gentle wind blowing her fair hair about her
pure cheeks, like a nymph, sometimes sitting in the shade, like a
goddess, sometimes singing like an angel, sometimes playing like
Orpheus; behold the sorrow of this world! once amiss hath bereaved me
of all[147:A];" and when _sixty-eight_, Lord Mountjoy, Lord Deputy of
Ireland, thus addresses her:—"When I have done all that I can, the
uttermost effects of my labours doe appeare so little to my owne zeale
to doe more, that I am often ashamed to present them unto your _faire_
and royall _eyes_. I beseeche your Majestie to thinke, that in a matter
of so great importance, my affection will not suffer me to commit so
grosse a fault against your service, as to doe any thing, for the
which I am not able to give you a very good account, the which above
all things, I desire to do at your _owne royall feete_, and that your
service here, may give me leave to _fill my eyes with their onely deere
and desired object_."[147:B] It was at the same advanced period of
life, too, when the sister of Lord Essex, interceding for her brother's
life, tells Her Majesty,—"Early did I hope this morning, to have had
mine eyes blessed with your majesty's _beauty_.—That her brother's
life, his love, his service to her _beauties_, did not deserve so hard
a punishment. That he would be disabled from ever serving again his
sacred goddess! whose excellent _beauties_ and perfections ought to
feel more compassion."[148:A]

Her affectation of _youth_, in order to render language such as this
somewhat appropriate, was carried to the most ridiculous excess;
"there is almost none," remarks Harrington, "that wayted in Queene
Elizabeth's court, and observed any thing, but can tell that it pleased
her much to seeme and to be thought, and to be told, that _she looked
younge_;" and he then relates, in illustration of his assertion, that
when Bishop Rudd preached before the Queen, in Lent, 1596, after giving
an arithmetical description, with a manifest allusion to Her Majesty,
of the grand climacterical year, he put a prayer into the mouth of
the Queen, in which she is represented as quoting, with reference to
herself, the following passage from Ecclesiastes: When the grinders
shall be few in number, and they wax darke that looke out of the
windowes, &c., and the daughters of singing shall be abased; but, the
sermon being concluded, "the Queene (as the manner was) opened the
window, (of her closet) but she was so far from giving him thanks,
or good countenance, that she said plainly, 'he should have kept his
arithmetick for himselfe; but I see (said she) the greatest clerks
are not the wisest men;' and so went away for the time discontented."
Three days afterwards, however, she declared before Harrington and her
courtiers, that "the good bishop was deceaved in supposing she was so
decayed in her limbs and senses, as himselfe, perhaps, and other of
that age are wont to be; she thankt God that neither her stomache nor
strength, nor her voyce for singing, nor fingering for instruments, nor
lastly, her sight was any whit decayed."[148:B]

Her strength and agility, she endeavoured to prove, were not
diminished, by dancing, or attempting to dance, to nearly the end of
her reign. Being present at Lord Herbert's marriage, in 1600, after
supper, dancing commenced by ladies and gentlemen in masques; and
Mrs. Fetton, one of the masquers, "went to the Queen, and woed her
to dawnce. Her Majesty asked what she was? _Affection_, she said.
_Affection_, said the Queen, _is false_. Yet her Majestie _rose and
dawnced_!"[149:A] She was now in her sixty-ninth year!

Nor was she less _artful_ than vain; cunning and finesse might be
often necessary in her political capacity, but she carried the same
wiliness and duplicity into all the relations of private life. Sir
John Harrington has admirably drawn her disposition in these respects,
and has painted her blandishments, her mutability of temper, and her
deceptive conduct, with a masterly pencil. "Hir mynde," he observes,
"was oftime like the gentle aire that comethe from the westerly pointe
in a summer's morn; 'twas sweete and refreshinge to all arounde
her:—again, she coulde pute forthe suche alteracions,—as lefte no
doubtynges whose daughter she was.—By art and nature together so
blended, it was difficulte to fynde hir right humour at any tyme;—for
few knew how to aim their shaft against her cunning.—I have seen her
smile," he adds, "soothe with great semblance of good likinge to all
arounde, and cause everie one to open his moste inwarde thought to her;
when, on a sudden, she would ponder in pryvate on what had passed,
write down all their opinions, draw them out as occasion required,
and sometyme disprove to their faces what had been delivered a month
before. Hence she knew every one's parte, and by thus _fishinge_, as
Hatton sayed, she caught many poor fish, who little knew what snare was
laid for them."[149:B]

Of her boundless inclination to circumvent and deceive, a most
ludicrous instance is related by Sir Arthur Wheldon, who tells us, that
when Sir Roger Aston was sent with letters from James to the Queen
(which was often the case), "he did never come to deliver any—but he
was placed in the Lobby; the hangings being turned him, (lifted up)
where he might see the Queene dancing to a little fiddle, which was
to no other end, than he should tell his master by her youthfull
disposition, how likely he was to come to the possession of the Crown
he so much thirsted after."[150:A]

Extreme _jealousy_ was another leading feature in the manners of
Elizabeth, which, far from being the result of her exalted rank, was,
indeed, most apparent in her domestic life and relations. She could
bear no female near her who, in beauty, accomplishments, or dress, was
likely either to surpass or rival her; and the death of the unfortunate
Mary may be attributed rather to an inextinguishable envy of her
personal charms, than to any apprehensions of the establishment of her
claim to the throne of England. How anxious she was to be thought more
beautiful and accomplished than her sister Queen, is vividly delineated
by Sir John Melvill, who, in his numerous interviews with Elizabeth,
during his residence in London, describes her as changing her dress for
him every day; as dancing before him, and playing on the virginals,
merely for the purpose of ascertaining whether he thought she or Mary
most excelled in dress, dancing, and music. She even went so far as
to enquire, whether he considered her hair or his mistress's to be
the fairest and most entitled to admiration, and, at length, asked
him which was tallest, and, on his answering, that the Scottish Queen
surpassed her in height,—"Then," saith she, "she is too high; for I
myself am neither too high, nor too low[150:B]."

Nothing is better known in our history than Elizabeth's personal
chastisement of the unhappy Earl of Essex; and so little, indeed, was
she accustomed, on any occasion, to the control of her passions, that
her courtiers daily dreaded similar inflictions. "The Queene seemede
troubled to daye," says Harrington; "Hatton came out from her presence
with _ill countenance_, and pulled me aside by the girdle, and saide,
in secret waie, 'If you have any suite to daie, I praye you put it
aside, _The sunne doth not shine_.' 'Tis this accursede Spanishe
businesse; so will not I adventure her Highnesse _choller_, leste she
shoulde _collar_ me _also_."[151:A]

Even in the expression of her dislike on such trivial matters as the
cut of a coat, or the depth of a fringe, she spared neither the public
exposure of her courtiers, nor the adoption of the most masculine and
vindictive contempt. "The Queene loveth to see me," says Sir John
Harrington, "in my laste frize jerkin, and saithe _'tis well enough
cutt_. I will have another made liken to it. I do remember _she spit
on Sir Mathew's fringed clothe_, and said, _the fooles wit was gone to
ragges_.—_Heav'n spare me_ from suche jibinge."[151:B]

If such petulant and rough treatment fell to the lot of her courtiers
in public, we may rest assured, that in private, her domestics, and
ladies of honour, experienced not a milder fate. Manual correction,
indeed, we are told, was a frequent resource with Her Majesty, and even
when chiding for "small neglects," Fenton tells us, in a letter to Sir
John Harrington, dated May, 1597, that it was "in such wise, as to
make these fair maids often cry and bewail in piteous sort."[151:C] In
short, to adopt the language of Sir Robert Cecil, who had an intimate
knowledge both of her public and private character, she "was more than
a man, and (in troth) sometyme less than a woman."[151:D]

Elizabeth, indeed, possessed many qualities of the most exalted rank,
and her _courage_, _magnanimity_, _prudence_, and _political wisdom_,
were such as to redeem the foibles which we have enumerated. They
were virtues, of which her successor was totally destitute; for the
_manners_ of James may be truly painted by the epithets, _frivolity_,
_pusillanimity_, _extravagance_, _pedantry_, and _credulity_.

Some of the most striking traits in his character have been drawn with
great strength and vivacity in Sir John Harrington's description of an
interview with this monarch, in January, 1607:—"He enquyrede," says
he, "muche of lernynge, and showede me his owne in suche sorte, as
made me remember my examiner at Cambridge aforetyme. He soughte muche
to knowe my advances in philosophie, and utterede profounde sentences
of Aristotle, and suche lyke wryters, whiche I had never reade, and
which some are bolde enoughe to saye, others do not understand: but
this I must passe by. The Prince did nowe presse my readinge to him
parte of a canto in Ariosto; praysede my utterance, and said he had
been informede of manie, as to my lernynge, in the tyme of the Queene.
He asked me 'what I thoughte pure witte was made of; and whom it did
best become?' Whether a Kynge shoulde not be the best clerke in his own
countrie; and, if this lande did not entertayne goode opinion of his
lernynge and good wisdome?' His Majestie did much presse for my opinion
touchinge the power of Satane in matter of witchcraft; and askede me,
with muche gravitie,—'If I did trulie understande, why the devil did
worke more with anciente women than others?' I did not refraine from a
scurvey jeste, and even saide (notwithstandinge to whom it was said)
that—we were taught hereof in scripture, where it is tolde, that the
devil walketh in dry places.—His Highnesse tolde me the Queene his
mothers deathe was visible in Scotlande before it did really happen,
being, as he saide, 'spoken of in secrete by those whose power of sight
presentede to them a bloodie heade dancinge in the aire.' He then did
remarke muche on this gifte, and saide he had soughte out of certaine
bookes a sure waie to attaine knowledge of future chances. Hereat,
he namede many bookes, which I did not knowe, nor by whom written;
but advisede me not to consult some authors which woulde leade me to
evill consultations—at lengthe he saide: Now, Sir, you have seene my
wisdome in some sorte, and I have pried into yours. I praye you, do
me justice in your reporte, and in good season, I will not fail to
add to your understandinge, in suche pointes as I maye find you lacke
amendment."[152:A] This is an extract which lays open the heart of
James, and speaks volumes on the subject.

The manners of the reigning monarch imperceptibly give a colouring
to those of every class of society, stronger in proportion to its
approximation to the source; a remark which is fully exemplified in the
females of the reign of Elizabeth, those especially who constituted,
or were near, the court, copying, according to their ability, the
virtues, accomplishments, and foibles of the Queen. They were learned,
skilled in needle-work, and wrote a beautiful hand, in emulation of
the Queen's, which, in the earlier period of her life, was peculiarly
elegant; but they were, also, vain, capricious, and in their habits
and language often masculine and coarse. It was customary for ladies
of the first rank to give manual correction to their servants of both
sexes; a practice of which Shakspeare has given us an instance in
his _Twelfth-Night_, where Maria, alluding to Malvolio's whimsical
appearance, says, "I know my lady will strike him."[153:A] Nor were
often their daily occupations, or their language, when provoked, in
the least degree more feminine; we are told that Elizabeth, Countess
of Shrewsbury, "was a builder, a buyer and seller of estates, a money
lender, a farmer, and a merchant of lead, coals and timber;" and
her daughter Mary, who married Gilbert, seventh Earl of Shrewsbury,
sent the following message to Sir Thomas Stanhope, with whom she had
quarrelled, by one George Williamson, which message was "delivered by
the said Williamson, February 15, 1592, in the presence of certain
persons whose names were subscribed—'My Lady hath commanded me to
say thus much to you. That though you be more wretched, vile, and
miserable, than any creature living; and, for your wickedness, become
more ugly in shape than the vilest toad in the world; and one to whom
none of reputation would vouchsafe to send any message; yet she hath
thought good to send thus much to you—that she be contented you should
live, (and doth nowaies wish your death) but to this end: that all the
plagues and miseries that may befall any man may light upon such a
caitiff as you are; and that you should live to have all your friends
forsake you; and, without your great repentance, which she looketh not
for because your hath been so bad, you will be damned perpetually in
hell fire.' With many other opprobrious and hatefull words, which could
not be remembered, because the bearer would deliver it but once, as he
said he was commanded; but said if he had failed in any thing, it was
in speaking it more mildly, and not in terms of such disdain as he was

Of the male population of this period, the manners seem to have been
compounded from the characters of the two sovereigns. Like Elizabeth,
they were brave, magnanimous, and prudent; and sometimes, like James,
credulous, curious, and dissipated. On the virtues, happily from their
notoriety, there is little occasion to comment; foreigners, as well
as natives, bearing testimony to their existence: thus Hentzner tells
us,—"The English are serious, like the Germans;—they are powerful in
the field, successful against their enemies, impatient of any thing
like slavery."[154:B] But of the foibles and vices, as more evanescent
and mutable, it may be interesting to state a few particulars.

Of the _credulity_ and superstition which abounded during this era,
and which had been fostered by the weakness of James, a sufficient
detail has already been given in a former part of this work; and we
shall here merely add, that Alchemistry was one of the foolish pursuits
of the day. Scot, who has devoted the fourteenth book of his treatise
on the "Discoverie of Witchcraft," to this subject, tells us that the
admirable description given by Chaucer of this folly, in his Chanones
Yemannes prologue and tale, still strictly applied to its cultivators
in 1584, who continued to

    —————————— "looke ill-favouredlie,
    And were alwaies tired beggarlie,
    So as by smelling and thredbare araie,
    These folke are knowne and discerned alwaie."[155:A]

An insatiable _curiosity_ for seeing strange sights, and hearing
strange adventures, together with an eager desire for visiting foreign
countries, prevailed in an extraordinary degree during the age of
Shakspeare, who has, in several parts of his works, satirized these
propensities with much humour. In the _Tempest_, for instance, he has
held up to scorn the first of these foibles in an admirable strain of
sarcasm:—"A strange fish! Were I in England now, (as once I was,) and
had but this fish painted, not a holiday fool there but would give
a piece of silver; there would this monster make a man; any strange
beast there makes a man: when they will not give a doit to relieve a
lame beggar, they will lay out ten to see a dead Indian[155:B];" a
passage which Mr. Douce has very appositely illustrated by a quotation
from Batman. "Of late years," says the Gothic Pliny, "there hath been
brought into England, the cases or skinnes of such crocodiles to be
seene, and much money given for the sight thereof; the policy of
strangers laugh at our folly, either that we are too wealthy, or else
that we know not how to bestow our money."[155:C]

Of the influence arising from the relation of strange adventures,
we have a striking proof in the character of Othello, who won the
affections of his mistress by the detail of his "hair-breadth scapes:"—

    "Wherein of antres vast, and desarts idle,
     Rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose head touch heaven
     It was 'his' hint to speak."[155:D]

It appears, indeed, that the conversation of this period very
frequently turned upon the wonderful discoveries of travellers, whose
voyages to, and travels in the New World then occupied much of the
public attention. Exaggeration, from a love of importance, too often
accompanied these narratives, a licence which our poet has happily
ridiculed in the following lines:—

    —————————————— "When we were boys,
    Who would believe that there were mountaineers
    Dew-lapp'd like bulls, whose throats had hanging at them
    Wallets of flesh? or that there were such men,
    Whose heads stood in their breasts? which now we find
    _Each putter-out on five for one, will bring us
    Good warrant of_."[156:A]

The close of this passage alludes to a practice then common among
the numerous travellers of those times, of putting out their money,
especially when about to undertake a long and hazardous journey, for
the purpose of receiving exorbitant interest on their return; a custom
which, Moryson informs us, originated among the nobility, but before
1617 had become frequent even with men of base condition.[156:B] Thus
we find Ben Jonson, in 1599, representing Puntarvolo, in _Every Man
out of his Humour_, disclosing such a scheme:—"I do intend," says he,
"this year of jubilee coming on, to travel: and, because I will not
altogether go upon expence, I am determined to put forth some _five
thousand pound_, to be paid me _five for one_, upon the return of
myself, my wife, and my dog from the Turk's court in Constantinople.
If all or either of us miscarry in the journey, 'tis gone: if we be
successful, why there will be _five and twenty thousand pound_ to
entertain time withal."[156:C]

To such a height had this passion for travelling attained, that those
who were not able to accomplish a distant expedition, crossed over to
France or Italy, and gave themselves as many airs on their return,
as if they had been to the antipodes; a species of affectation which
Shakspeare acutely satirizes in the following terms:—"Farewell,
monsieur traveller; look, you lisp, and wear strange suits; disable
all the benefits of your own country; be out of love with your
nativity, and almost chide God for making you that countenance you are;
or I will scarce think you have swam in a gondola."[157:A]

An equally severe castigation has been bestowed on these superficial
ramblers, in _Observations and Discourses_, published by Edward Blount,
in 1620, who informs us, that their discourse made them every where
ridiculous. "The name of English gelding," he adds, "frights them; and
thence they take occasion to fall into the commendation of a mule, or
an ass. A pasty of venison makes them sweat, and then swear that the
only delicacies be mushrooms, or caveare, or snails. A toast in beer or
ale drives them into madness; and so to declaim against the absurd and
ignorant customs of their own country, and thereupon digress into the
commendation of drinking their wine refreshed with ice or snow."

The pernicious habit of _gaming_ had become almost universal in the
days of Elizabeth, and, if we may credit George Whetstone, had reached
a prodigious degree of excess. Speaking of the licentiousness of the
stage previous to the appearance of Shakspeare, he adds,—"But there
are in the bowels of this famous citie, farre more daungerous plays,
and little reprehended: that wicked playes of the dice, first invented
by the devill, (as Cornelius Agrippa wryteth,) and frequented by
unhappy men: the detestable roote, upon which a thousand villanies grow.

"The nurses of thease (worse than heathenysh) hellish exercises are
places called _ordinary tables_: of which there are in London, more in
nomber to honour the devyll, than churches to serve the living God.

"I cõstantly determine to crosse the streets, where these vile
houses (ordinaries) are planted, to blesse me from the inticements
of them, which in very deed are many, and the more dangerous in that
they please with a vain hope of gain. Insomuch on a time, I heard
a distemperate dicer solemnly sweare that he faithfully beleeved,
_that dice were first made of the bones of a witch, and cards of her
skin_, in which there hath ever sithence remained an inchantment y{t}
whosoever once taketh delight in either, he shall never have power
utterly to leave them, for quoth he, I a hundred times vowed to leave
both, yet have not the grace to forsake either."[158:A]

No opportunity for the practice of this ruinous habit seems to have
been omitted, and we find the modern mode of gambling, by taking the
odds, to have been fully established towards the latter end of the
sixteenth century; for Gilbert Talbot, writing to his father, the Earl
of Shrewsbury, on May the 15th, 1579, after informing His Lordship,
that the matter of the Queen's marriage with Monsieur "is growne very
colde," subjoins, "and yet I know a man may take a thousande pounds,
in this towne, to be bounde to pay doble so muche when Mons{r}.
cum̃ethe into Inglande, and treble so muche when he marryethe the Q.
Ma{tie}., and if he nether doe the one nor the other, to gayne the
thousande poundes cleare."[158:B]

_Duelling_, at this period, from its frequency, had given rise to a
complicated system of rules for its regulation, and to fixed schools
for its practice and improvement. The "Noble Science of Defence," as
it was called, included three _degrees_, a _Master's_, a _Provost's_,
and a _Scholar's_, and for each of these a regular prize was played. In
order, also, to obviate disputes, "four _Ancient Masters of Defence_"
were constituted, who resided "in the city of London," and to whom not
only difficult points of honour were referred, but tribute was likewise
paid by all inferior professors of the science.

Nor were books wanting to explain, and to adjust, the causes, and the
modes of quarrelling. Of these the two most celebrated were written
by _Saviolo_ and _Caranza_, authors who are repeatedly mentioned by
Shakspeare, Jonson, and Fletcher. The absurd minuteness of Saviolo's
treatise, entitled, _Of Honour and honourable Quarrels_, 4to. 1595,
has been ridiculed with exquisite humour in _As You Like It_, where
Touchstone says

    "O sir, we quarrel in print, by the book;—we met, and found
    the quarrel was upon the seventh cause.

    _Jaq._ How did you find the quarrel on the seventh cause?

    _Touch._ Upon a lie seven times removed;—as thus: I did
    dislike the cut of a certain courtier's beard; he sent me
    word, if I said his beard was not cut well, he was in the mind
    it was: This is called the _Retort courteous_. If I sent him
    word again, it was not well cut, he would send me word, he cut
    it to please himself: This is called the _Quip modest_. If
    again, it was not well cut, he disabled my judgment: This is
    call'd the _Reply churlish_. If again, it was not well cut, he
    would answer, I spake not true: This is call'd the _Reproof
    valiant_. If again, it was not well cut, he would say, I lie:
    This is called the _Countercheck quarrelsome_: and so to the
    _Lie circumstantial_, and the _Lie direct_.—All these you may
    avoid, but the lie direct; and you may avoid that too, with an
    _If_. I knew when seven justices could not take up a quarrel;
    but when the parties were met themselves, one of them thought
    but of an _If_, as, _If you said so, then I said so_; and
    they shook hands, and swore brothers. Your _If_ is the only
    peace-maker; much virtue in _If_."[159:A]

Nor is this much exaggerated; for Saviolo has a chapter on the
_Diversity of Lies_, and enumerates the _Lie certain_, the _conditional
Lie_, the _Lie in general_, the _Lie in particular_, the _foolish Lie_,
and the _returning back of the Lie_.

A taste for _gossipping_, as well amongst the _male_ as female sex, was
more than usually prevalent at this epoch. An anonymous writer of 1620,
speaking of _male gossips_, describes their trifling and vexatiously
intrusive manners, in a way which leads us to conclude, that the evil
was severely felt, and of great magnitude:—"It is a wonder," says he,
"to see what multitudes there be of all sorts that make this their only
business, and in a manner spend their whole time in compliment; as if
they were born to no other end, bred to no other purpose, had nothing
else to do, than to be a kind of living walking ghosts, to haunt and
persecute others with unnecessary observation.—

"If these giddy goers be forced to give a reason for their wheeling up
and down the streets, their answer is, they know not else how to pass
their time. And how tedious it is, for a man that accounts his hours,
to be subject to these vacancies, and apply himself to lose a day with
such time-passers; who neither come for business, nor out of true
friendship, but only to spend the day; as if one had nothing else to
do, but to supply their idle time!—

"After they have asked you how you do, and told some old or fabulous
news, laughed twice or thrice in your face, and censured those they
know you love not (when, peradventure, the next place they go to, is
to them—where they will be as courteous to you); spoke a few words of
fashions and alterations;—made legs and postures of the last edition;
with three or four diminutive oaths and protestations of their service
and observance; they then retire."

The _diminutive oaths_, mentioned at the close of this quotation, were,
unfortunately, considered as ornaments of conversation, and adopted by
both sexes, in order to give spirit and vivacity to their language; a
shocking practice, which seems to have been rendered fashionable by
the very reprehensible habit of the Queen, whose oaths were neither
diminutive nor rare; for it is said, that she never spared an oath in
public speech or private conversation when she thought it added energy
to either. After this example in the highest classes, we need not be
surprised when Stubbes tells us, speaking of the great body of the
people, that, "if they speake but three or four words, yet they must be
interlaced with a bloudie oath or two."

These abominable expletives appear to have formed no small share of the
language of _compliment_, a species of simulation which was carried
to an extraordinary height in the days of our poet: thus Marston,
describing the finished gallant, says,—

    ———————— "Marke nothing but his clothes,
    His new stampt _complement_, his _cannon oathes_;
    Marke those."[160:A]

Decker, apostrophising the courtiers of his day, and playing upon a
term of Guido's musical scale, exclaims,—"You courtiers, that do
nothing but sing the gamut A-Re of _complimental courtesy_[161:A];" and
Shakspeare, painting this

    ———— "sweet, sweet poison for the age's tooth."

represents the Bastard in his _King John_, thus addressing a travelled

    —————————————— "_My dear sir_,
    (Thus leaning on mine elbow, I begin,)
    _I shall beseech you_—That is question now;
    And then comes answer like an A B C book:—
    _O sir_, says answer, _at your best command;
    At your employment; at your service, sir_:—
    _No, sir_, says question, _I, sweet sir, at yours_:
    And so, ere answer knows what question would,
    (Saving in dialogue of _compliment_;
    And talking of the Alps, and Appennines,
    The Pyrenean, and the river Po,)
    It draws toward supper."[161:B]

"What a deal of synamon and ginger is sacrificed to dissimulation,"
observes Sir William Cornwallis in 1601, "_O, how blessed do I take
mine eyes for presenting me with this sight! O Signior, the star that
governs my life is contentment, give me leave to interre myself in your
arms!—Not so, sir, it is too unworthy an inclosure to contain such
preciousness, &c._ This, and a cup of drink, makes the time as fit for
a departure as can be."[161:C]

A peculiar species of compliment existed among the scientific and
literary characters of our author's times, in permitting those who
looked up to them with reverence and esteem, to address them by the
endearing appellation of _Father_; adopting them, in fact, as their
literary offspring, and designating them, in their works, by the title
of sons. In conformity with this custom, Ben Jonson adopted not
less than twelve or fourteen persons for his sons, among whom were,
Cartright, Randolph, Brome, &c.; and the practice continued to be
observed until the end of the seventeenth century; for in 1676, Charles
Cotton dedicated his Complete Angler to his "most worthy _father_ and
friend, Mr. Izaak Walton, the elder;" and says in the body of his work,
"he gives me leave to call him _Father_, and I hope is not yet ashamed
of his _Adopted Son_."[162:A]

This complimental paternity Shakspeare has introduced in his _Troilus
and Cressida_, where Ajax, addressing Nestor, says,—"Shall I call
you father?" to which the venerable Grecian replies, "Ay, my good

To this sketch of manners, we shall add a brief account of some
customs, which more peculiarly belong to the province of Police,
commencing with the inaugural ceremonies attendant on the Lord Mayor's
entrance on the duties of his office. The pageantry and magnificence
which once accompanied this periodical assumption of power, may be
estimated from the following description, taken from a manuscript,
written in 1575:—

"The day of St. Simon and Jude he (the Mayor) entrethe into his
estate and offyce: and the next daie following he goeth by water to
Westmynster, in most tryumplyke maner. His barge beinge garnished with
the armes of the citie: and nere the sayd barge goeth a shyppbote of
the Queenes Ma{tie}, beinge trymed upp, and rigged lyke a shippe of
warre, with dyvers peces of ordinance, standards, penons, and targetts
of the proper armes of the sayd Mayor, the armes of the Citie, of his
company; and of the marchaunts adventurers, or of the staple, or of
the company of the newe trades; next before hym goeth the barge of
the lyvery of his owne company, decked with their owne proper armes,
then the bachelers barge, and so all the companies in London, in
order, every one havinge their owne proper barge garnished with the
armes of their company. And so passinge alonge the Thamise, landeth
at Westmynster, where he taketh his othe in Thexcheker, beffore the
judge there, (whiche is one of the chiefe judges of England,) whiche
done, he returneth by water as afforsayd, and landeth at powles wharfe,
where he and the reste of the Aldermen take their horses, and in great
pompe passe through the greate streete of the citie, called Cheapside.
And fyrste of all cometh ij great estandarts, one havinge the armes of
the citie, and the other the armes of the Mayor's company; next them
ij drommes and a flute, then an ensigne of the citie, and then about
lxx or lxxx poore men marchinge ij and two togeather in blewe gownes,
with redd sleeves and capps, every one bearinge a pyke and a target,
wheron is paynted the armes of all them that have byn Mayor of the
same company that this newe mayor is of. Then ij banners one of the
kynges armes, the other of the Mayor's owne proper armes. Then a sett
of hautboits playinge, and after them certayne wyfflers, in velvett
cotes, and chaynes of golde, with white staves in their handes, then
the pageant of tryumphe rychly decked, whereuppon by certayne fygures
and wrytinges, some matter touchinge justice, and the office of a
maiestrate is represented. Then xvj trompeters viij and viij in a
company, havinge banners of the Mayor's company. Then certayne wyfflers
in velvet cotes and chaynes, with white staves as aforesayde. Then the
bachelers ij, and two together, in longe gownen, with crymson hoodes
on their shoulders of sattyn; which bachelers are chosen every yeare
of the same company that the Mayor is of, (but not of the lyvery,) and
serve as gentlemen on that and other festivall daies, to wayte on the
Mayor, beinge in nomber accordinge to the quantetie of the company,
sometimes sixty or one hundred. After them xij trompeters more, with
banners of the Mayor's company, then the dromme and flute of the citie,
and an ensigne of the Mayor's company, and after, the waytes of the
citie in blewe gownes, redd sleeves and cappes, every one havinge his
silver coller about his neck. Then they of the liverey in their longe
gownes, every one havinge his hood on his lefte shoulder, halfe black
and halfe redd, the nomber of them is accordinge to the greatnes of
the companye whereof they are. After them followe Sheriffes officers,
and then the Mayor's officers, with other officers of the citie, as the
comon sargent, and the chamberlayne; next before the Mayore goeth the
sword-bearer, having on his headd, the cappe of honor, and the sworde
of the citie in his right hande, in a riche skabarde, sett with pearle,
and on his left hand goeth the comon cryer of the citie, with his great
mace on his shoulder, all gilt. The Mayor hathe on a long gowne of
skarlet, and on his lefte shoulder, a hood of black velvet, and a riche
coller of gold of SS. about his neck, and with him rydeth the olde
Mayor also, in his skarlet gowne, hood of velvet, and a chayne of golde
about his neck. Then all the Aldermen ij and ij together, (amongst
whom is the Recorder), all in skarlet gownes; and those that have byn
Mayors, have chaynes of gold, the other have black velvett tippetts.
The ij Shereffes come last of all, in their black skarlet gownes and
chaynes of golde.

"In this order they passe alonge through the citie, to the Guyldhall,
where they dyne that daie, to the number of 1000 persons, all at the
charge of the Mayor and the ij Shereffes. This feast costeth 400_l._,
whereof the Mayor payeth 200_l._, and eche of the Shereffes 100_l._
Imediately after dyner, they go the churche of St. Paule, every one of
the aforesaid poore men, bearrynge staffe torches and targetts, whiche
torches are lighted when it is late, before they come from evenynge

Had the police of the city been as strictly regulated, as were the
ceremonies attending the inauguration of its chief magistrate, the
inhabitants of London, in Queen Elizabeth's days, would have had little
cause of complaint, with regard to personal protection; but, though
the _Statutes of the Streets_ were numerous and rigid, and sometimes
ridiculously minute, for No. 22. enacts, that "no man shall blowe any
horne in the night, within this citie, or whistle after the houre of
nyne of the clock in the night, under paine of imprisonment[165:A],"
yet they were so ill executed, that, even in the day-time, disturbances
of the most atrocious kind were deemed matters of common occurrence.
Thus Gilbert Talbot and his wife, writing to the Earl and Countess
of Shrewsbury, consider the following acts of violence as _trifling
matters_:—"On Thursday laste, (Feb. 13th, 1587,) as my Lorde Rytche
was rydynge in the streates, there was one Wyndam that stode in a
dore, and shotte a dagge at him, thynkynge to have slayne him; but
God p˜vyded so for my L. Rytche, that this Wyndam apoyntynge his
servante y{t} mornynge to charge his dagge w{th} II bulletts, the
fellow, doubtinge he mente to doe sum myschefe w{th} it, charged it
only w{th} powder and paper, and no bullett; and so this L'. lyfe was
thereby saved, for otherwyse he had beene slayne. Wyndam was p˜sently
taken by my L. Rytche's men, and, beynge broughte before the Counsell,
confessed his intende, but the cause of his quarrell I knowe not;
but he is com̄ytted to the Towre. The _same daye_, also, as S{r} John
Conway was goynge in the streetes, M{r} Lodovyke Grevell came sodenly
uppon him, and stroke him on the hedd w{th} a sworde, and but for one
of S{r} John Conwaye's men, who warded the blow, he had cutt of his
legges; yet did he hurte him sumwhat on bothe his shynns: The Councell
sente for Lodovyke Grevell, and have com̄ytted him to the Marchallcye.
I am forced to trouble yo{r} Honors w{th} thes _tryflynge matters_, for
I know no greater."[165:B]

Yet a sufficient number of watchmen, constables, and justices of the
peace, was not wanting. Of these, the first were armed with halberds,
which, in Shakspeare's time, were called _bills_, and they usually
carried a lanthorn in one hand, and sometimes a bell in the other,
resting the halberd on the shoulder.[166:A] Notwithstanding these
official characters, however, the peace of the city was frequently more
effectually preserved by the interference of the apprentices, than
by that of the appointed guardians of public order; for it appears,
from Shakspeare's dramas, that the cry of _Clubs!_ was a signal for
the apprentices to arm themselves with these weapons, and quell the
disturbance. Thus in _King Henry the Eighth_, act v. sc. 3., the
Porter's man says:—"I hit that woman who cried out, _clubs!_ when
I might see from far some forty truncheoneers draw to her succour,
which were the hope of the Strand[166:B];" and in _Henry the Sixth,
Part the First_, even the Mayor of London is represented, on occasion
of a quarrel between the partizans of the Duke of Gloucester and the
Cardinal of Winchester, as threatening to call in similar assistance:—

    "I'll call for _clubs_, if you will not away."[166:C]

We cannot wonder that the inferior officers of the Police should be
slack in the performance of their duty, when we recollect, that the
Justices of the Peace, in these days, especially those resident in the
metropolis, were so open to bribery, that many of them obtained the
appellation of _Basket Justices_; nor did a member of the House of
Commons hesitate, during the reign of Elizabeth, to describe a justice
of the peace as "an animal who for half a dozen of chickens would
readily dispense with a dozen penal laws."[166:D]

Many customs of a miscellaneous nature might with ease be extracted
from the dramas of our poet; but to give them any relative bearing
or concatenation would be nearly impossible, and a totally insulated
detail of minute circumstances, would prove tedious to the most
persevering reader. Enough, we trust, has been collected to throw no
feeble light on the general manners and modes of living, of the period
under consideration, especially if it be recollected that the full
picture is to be formed from a combination of this with the similar
chapter, in a former part of the work, on the costume of rural life.


[89:A] Holinshed, vol. i. p. 289, 290.—Harrison's Description of

[90:A] Paul Hentzner's Travels in England: translated by Lord Orford.
Edward Jeffery's edit. 8vo. 1797. p. 34, 35.

[91:A] Nugæ Antiquæ apud Park, vol. i. p. 361.

[91:B] Ibid. p. 170.

[91:C] Ibid. p. 118.

[92:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 526, 527. note 2.

[92:B] Ibid. vol. vi. p. 63. Much Ado About Nothing, act ii. sc. 3.

[93:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vii. p. 314. Act iii. sc. 2.

[93:B] Ibid. vol. iv. p. 289. Act iv. sc. 4.

[93:C] "The English Ape, The Italian Imitation, The Foote-Steppes of
Fraunce," a black-letter tract, dated 1588; for an account of which see
Beloe's Anecdotes, vol. ii. p. 260.

[93:D] Vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vi. p. 64. note by Malone.

[94:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 128.

[94:B] "Christ's Tears over Jerusalem," 4to. 1594.

[94:C] "Quippes for upstart new fangled Gentlewemen: or a Glasse, to
view the pride of vain glorious Women," 4to. 1595.—Vide Restituta,
vol. iii. p. 255.

[94:D] Vide Strutt's Customs, vol. iii. plate 22. fig. 9.

[94:E] Restituta, vol. iii. p. 256.

[95:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 154.

[95:B] Strutt's Customs, vol. iii. plate 12.

[95:C] Restituta, vol. iii. p. 256.

[95:D] Anatomie of Abuses, 4to. p. 59.

[95:E] Restituta, vol. iii. p. 257.

[97:A] Anatomie of Abuses, 4to. p. 43.

[97:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 248.

[97:C] See Katharine's Gown, in Taming of the Shrew, Reed's Shakspeare,
vol. ix. p. 157.

[98:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 144.—Mr. Douce has given a
plate of the _chopine_, in his second volume on Shakspeare, p. 234.

[98:B] Restituta, vol. iii. p. 257.

[99:A] "In a list of jewels given to the Queen at New-years tide, 1589,
is 'A fanne of fethers, white and redd, the handle of golde, inamaled
with a halfe moone of mother of perles, within that a halfe moone
garnished with sparks of dyamonds, and a few seede perles on the one
side, having her Majestie's picture within it; and on the back-side a
device with a crowe over it. Geven by Sir Frauncis Drake.'"—Nichols's
Progresses, vol. ii. p. 54. note.

[99:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 80.; vol. xi. p. 261. &c. &c.

[99:C] Ibid. vol. xv. p. 46. Act i. sc. 3.

[99:D] Ibid. vol. ix. p. 349. 352. Winter's Tale, act iv. sc. 3.

[99:E] Stowe's Annals, by Howes, edit 1614. p. 868.

[99:F] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vii. p. 72. note.

[100:A] Anatomy of Melancholy, folio, 8th edit. p. 293, 294. 307.—In
Vaughan's "Golden Grove," also, the first edition of which appeared in
1600, may be found some curious notices on "superfluitie of apparell"
with regard to both sexes; he tells us that the women in the early
ages of the world "imitated not hermaphrodites, in wearing of men's
doublets. They wore no chaines of gold, &c.—they went not clothed in
velvet gownes, nor in chamlet peticotes. They smelt not unto pomander,
civet, muske, and such lyke trumperies."

[101:A] The Court and Character of King James. Written and taken by Sir
A. W. being an eye, and ear witnesse. 12mo. 1650. p. 180, 181.

[101:B] Nugæ Antiquæ, vol. i. pp. 391, 392.

[102:A] Decker's Gull's Hornbook, reprint of 1812, pp. 83. 87.

[102:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 175.

[102:C] Ibid. vol. xvii. p. 467.—Caps were usually worn by the lower
class, see vol. vi. p. 89.

[102:D] Ibid. vol. vi. p. 357.

[102:E] Bottom, in _Midsummer Night's Dream_, mentions also a
straw-coloured, an orange-tawny, a purple-in-grain, and a perfect
yellow, beard, act i. sc. 2.

[102:F] See Jaques's description of the Seven Ages in _As You Like It_,
act ii. sc. 7.

[103:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 399.

[103:B] Jervis Markham has an allusion to this custom in his Treatise
entitled _Honour in Perfection_, 4to., p. 18.

[103:C] Frequent references to these fashions may be found in our
author; vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vi. p. 162; vol. ix. p. 242, and
vol. x. p. 355. Jonson and Fletcher also abound with them; and see that
curious exposition of fashionable follies, Decker's Gull's Hornbook,
Reprint, p. 86. 137, &c.

[103:D] Vide Stowe's Annals, p. 869.—The divisions, or pieces of the
brim of the collar or ruffe, were, according to Cotgrave's Dictionary,
1611, termed _piccadillies_. And the author of London and its Environs
described, tells us, that in _Piccadilly_ "there were formerly no
houses, and only one shop for Spanish ruffs, which was called the
_Piccadilly_ or _ruff_ shop." Vide vol. v.

[104:A] Strutt's Customs, vol. iii. p. 85.—The next age saw this
absurd mode of dress revived: and Bulmer, in his _Pedigree of the
English Gallant_, relates, that, when the law was in force against the
use of _bags for stuffing breeches_, a man was brought before a court
of justice, charged with wearing the prohibited article, upon which,
in order to refute the accusation, he produced from within "a pair of
sheets, two table cloths, ten napkins, four shirts, a brush, a glass, a
comb, night-caps, &c." p. 548.

[104:B] In the first volume of the Antiquarian Repertory, it is
recorded, that "Nailer came through London apparelled in a doublet and
galey-gascoigne breeches, all of crimsin satin, cut and raced."


    _Luc._ A round hose, madam, now's not worth a pin,
           Unless you have a cod-piece to stick pins on.
                         Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 236.

Thomas Wright in his "Passions of the Minde," first published in
1601, speaking of our countrymen's proneness to imitate French
fashions, tells us in his chapter entitled "Discoverie of Passions in
Apparell,"—"Some I have heard very contemptuously say, that scarcely
a new forme of breeches appeared in the French King's kitchin but they
were presently translated over into the court of England."

[105:A] Bishop's Blossoms.—Vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 197.

[105:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 197.

[105:C] Anatomy of Abuses, p. 30.

[105:D] Gull's Hornbook, p. 93.

[105:E] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xi. p. 275, note.

[106:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 212.

[106:B] Quoted by Dr. Farmer: Reed's Shakspeare, vol. x. p. 481.

[106:C] Decker's Gull's Horn-book, reprint, pp. 13. 76.

[107:A] See also, Strutt's Dress and Habits of the People of England,
vol. ii. p. 263.

[107:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 102. Act ii. sc. 4.

[107:C] Vide Andrews's History of Great Britain, vol. ii. p. 301.

[107:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xx. p. 256.

[107:E] "The Longer thou Livest the more Fool thou art."—Vide
Biographia Dramatica, vol. ii. p. 193.

[108:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. pp. 75, 76.—To the old two-handed
sword, and to the monstrous stuffed hose, Ben Jonson most humorously
refers us, in his _Epicœne; or, the Silent Woman_, where True-wit
frightens Daw by an exaggerated description of Sir Amorous La Foole's
warlike attire. "He has got," says he, "somebody's _old two-hand
sword_, to mow you off at the knees: and that sword hath spawn'd such
a dagger!—But then he is so hung with pikes, halberds, petronels,
callivers, and muskets, that he looks like a justice of peace's hall:
a man of two thousand a year is not cess'd at so many weapons as he
has on. There was never fencer challeng'd at so many several foils.
You would think he meant to murder all St. Pulchre's parish. If he
could but victual himself for half a year in his _breeches_, he is
sufficiently arm'd to overrun a country."—Act iv. sc. 5.

[108:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. viii. p. 257. Act ii. sc. 1.

[109:A] Douce's Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 315.

[109:B] Stowe's Annals, p. 869.

[109:C] Lodge's Illustrations of British History, vol. ii. p. 228.

[110:A] Anatomy of Melancholy, 8th edit. folio, p. 295.

[111:A] "Doctor Merrie-man: or Nothing but Mirth. Written by S. R. At
London, printed for John Deane, and are to be sold at his Shoppe at
Temple Barre, under the Gate." 1609. 4to. pp. 24.—Vide Restituta, vol.
iii. p. 442. Samuel Rowland is supposed to be the author of this lively

[112:A] Nugæ Antiquæ, vol. i. pp. 201, 202.

[113:A] Travels in England, pp. 54. 56-58.

[113:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. pp. 489-491.

[113:C] Censura Literaria, vol. viii. p. 19.

[114:A] "The Touchstone of Complexions, &c." First written in Latine by
Levine Lemnie, and now Englished by Thomas Newton. small 8vo. bl. l.

[114:B] Merry Wives of Windsor, act iii. sc. 3.

[114:C] Much Ado about Nothing, act i. sc. 3.

[114:D] King John, act iv. sc. 1.

[114:E] Henry IV. Part I., act ii. sc. 4.

[114:F] Hamlet, act iii. sc. 3.

[115:A] Malone's Supplement, vol. i. p. 487.

[115:B] "A Dialogue both pleasaunt and pitifull, &c." by Dr. Willyam
Bulleyne, 1564. sig. H 5. Reed's Shakspeare, vol. viii. p. 104.

[115:C] "No whipping nor tripping, but a kind of friendly snipping,"
8vo.—Vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. viii. p. 104. note by Malone.

[115:D] Act iii. sc. 2.

[115:E] Cymbeline, act ii. sc. 2.

[115:F] "A Specimen of a Commentary on Shakspeare, &c." on the
principle of Mr. Locke's Doctrine of the Association of Ideas, p. 78.
8vo. 1794.

[116:A] Pope's Odyssey, book vii.

[116:B] Good's Lucretius, vol. i. p. 189.

[116:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 447. King Henry V., act iv. sc.

[116:D] Romeo and Juliet, act i. sc. 4.

[116:E] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xv. p. 55.

[117:A] Vide Warton's Extract from Froissart, Hist. of English Poetry,
vol. iii. Dissertation, p. lxxvi.

[117:B] Ancient British Drama, vol. ii. p. 592.

[117:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 181.

[117:D] Gull's Horn-book, pp. 22, 23.

[117:E] "More Dissemblers besides Women," act i. sc. 1.

[118:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 92. Taming of the Shrew, act ii.
sc. 1.

[118:B] Ibid. p. 93. note by Steevens.

[118:C] Ibid. vol. v. p. 376. note.

[118:D] Act iii. sc. 4.

[118:E] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xx. p. 65.

[118:F] Ibid. vol. ix. p. 124.

[119:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 272. Act i. sc. 5.

[119:B] Ibid. vol. xv. p. 342. Act iii. sc. 2.

[119:C] Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 85.

[119:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xi. p. 331. King Henry IV. Part I. act
iii. sc. 1.

[119:E] Cymbeline, act ii. sc. 2. Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 466.

[120:A] Act i. sc. 4. Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 48.

[120:B] Act ii. sc. 5.

[120:C] Bulwarke of Defence, 1579, fol. 21.

[120:D] Belman of London, 1612. sig. B 4.—We may add, also, to this
enumeration, the general use of large mirrors, or looking-glasses,
for Hentzner tells us that he was shewn, "at the house of Leonard
Smith, _a taylor_, a most perfect looking-glass, ornamented with gold,
pearls, silver, and velvet, so richly as to be estimated at 500 ecus du
soleil."—Travels, p. 32.

[122:A] Holinshed, vol. i. p. 280.

[123:A] Hentzner's Travels, pp. 36, 37.

[125:A] Nugæ Antiquæ, vol. i. pp. 349-352.

[125:B] Ibid. p. 106.

[125:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vi. p. 236. Act ii. sc. 1.

[126:A] Douce's Illustrations, vol. i. p. 125.

[126:B] Whalley's Jonson; act iii. sc. 2.

[126:C] "Coryat's Crudities, hastily gobled up in five Moneths
Travells, &c." 1611. 4to. p. 90.

[126:D] Whalley's Johnson; act v. sc. 4.

[127:A] "The benefit of the auncient Bathes of Buckstones, which cureth
most greevous sicknesses, never before published: compiled by John
Jones, Phisition. At the King's Mede nigh Darby. Anno salutis 1572,
&c." bl. l.—Vide Censura Literaria, vol. x. p. 277.

[127:B] Vide Stubbes's Anatomie of Abuses, p. 69, and Caius's Booke of
Counseil, &c. fol. 24.

[127:C] The Passions of the Minde. By Th. W. (Thomas Wright.) London,
printed by V. S. for W. B. 1601. small 8vo.

[128:A] The Works of Francis Osborn, Esq. 8vo. 9th edit. p. 475.

[128:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xix. p. 335.

[129:A] _Delicate Dyet for Daintie-mouthed Droonkards_: wherein the
fowle abuse of common carowsing and quaffing with heartie draughtes is
honestly admonished. 8vo. 1576.

[129:B] _Philocothonista_, or the drunkard opened, dissected, and
anatomized, 4to.

[129:C] Lodge's Illustrations of British History, &c., vol. ii. p. 27.

[130:A] Gull's Horn-book, 1609, reprint, p. 119, 120.

[130:B] English Villanies, &c. first printed in 1616.

[130:C] Of the precise year when the first edition of Markham's
_English House-wife_ was published, I am ignorant; but a near
approximation to the fact may be deduced from the following
statement:—The _first_ edition of his _Country Contentments_ appeared
in 1615, and the _eleventh_ in 1683; of his _Cheap and Good Husbandry_,
the _first_ impression took place in 1616, and the _fourteenth_ in
1683; and of the _English House-wife_, the _ninth_ edition issued from
the press in the same year, namely 1683.

[131:A] English Housewife, p. 112, 113.

[131:B] Ibid. p. 118.

[131:C] "If sack and sugar be a fault, god help the wicked."—Reed's
Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 308.

[132:A] Itinerary, 1617, Part III. p. 152.

[132:B] Travels, Jeffery's edition, p. 64.: "They put a great deal of
sugar in their drink."

[132:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 282.

[132:D] "Go fetch me a quart of sack, _put a toast in it_," Merry Wives
of Windsor, act iii. sc. 5.

[132:E] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 150.

[132:F] Ibid. vol. xi. p. 281, 282.—It appears that Sack, in
Shakspeare's time, was sold at eight-pence halfpenny a Quart—for in
Falstaff's Tavern-bill occurs the following _item_: "Sack, two gallons,
5_s._ 8_d._" Vol. xi. p. 314.

[133:A] The title-page of this curious poem is lost, but the passage
alluded to, is as follows:—

    "There hath beene great sale and utterance of wine,
     Besides beere and ale, and ipocras fine,
     In every country, region, and nation;
     Chefely at Billingsgate, at the _Salutation_,
     And _Bores Head_, neere London Stone,
     _The Swan_ at Dowgate, a taverne well knowne,
     _The Miter_ in Cheape, and then the _Bull Head_,
     And many like places that make noses red;
     The _Bores Head_ in old Fish-street, _three Cranes_ in the Vintree,
     And now of late St. Martin's in the Sentree;
     The _Wind-mill_ in Lothburry, _the Ship_ at the Exchange,
     _King's Head_ in New Fish-streete, where roysters do range;
     _The Mermaid_ in Cornhill, _Red Lion_ in the Strand,
     _Three Tuns_ Newgate Market, Old Fish-street at _the Swan_."

[133:B] "The Survay of London," 4to. 1618. bl. l. p. 782.

[134:A] Earle's Microcosmography, reprint by Bliss, pp. 39, 40.

[134:B] Gull's Horn-book, reprint by Nott, pp. 109. 127, 128.

[134:C] Ibid. p. 159, 160.

[134:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 91.

[134:E] Ibid. vol. v. p. 91. note. From _Merry Passages and Jeasts_,
MSS. Harl. 6395.

[135:A] Gull's Horn-book, pp. 121, 122.—"Let us here remark," adds Dr.
Nott, in a note on this passage, "that J. Harington is to be considered
as the inventor of that cleanly comfort the water-closet; which gave
rise to his witty little tract above-mentioned, (Metamorphosis of
Ajax, a jakes, 1596,) wherein he humorously recommends the same to Q.
Elizabeth; and for which, by the way, he was banished her court."

[135:B] The Workes of the most High and Mighty Prince, James, &c. &c.
folio, 1616. p. 222.

[136:A] Apophthegms of King James, 1671.

[136:B] The Workes of King James, folio, p. 221.

[136:C] Whalley's Jonson; act iii. sc. 5.

[137:A] Anatomy of Melancholy, p. 235. col. 1.

[137:B] Workes of King James, p. 221.

[137:C] History of his Life and Times, 8vo. p. 44.

[137:D] Gull's Horn-book, pp. 119, 120.

[138:A] Reprint of Decker's Gull's Horn-book, p. 17. note 15.

[138:B] Travels, 8vo. p. 63.

[138:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 127.

[138:D] Itinerary, 1617. folio.

[140:A] Nugæ Antiquæ, vol. i. pp. 105-108.

[141:A] Wit's Miserie and the World's Madnesse, 4to. 1599.—So
necessary was a fool to the monarch and his courtiers, that Armin, in
his _Nest of Ninnies_, 4to. 1608, describing Will Sommers, Henry the
Eighth's fool, says,—

    —————————————— "In all the Court
    Few men were more belov'd than was this Foole,
    Whose merry prate kept with the king much rule.
    When he was sad, the King and he would rime:
    Thus _Will_ exiled sadnesse many a time."

[142:A] We must here observe, that the Baron of Brandwardine's Fool,
in _Waverley_, is an admirable copy of the character, as drawn by
Shakspeare; and, as the work seems a faithful picture of existing
manners in 1745, is a striking proof of the retention of this curious
personage, until a recent period.

[142:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xx. p. 72.

[142:C] Gifford's Edition of Massinger, vol. i. p. 167.; and vol. iv.
p. 29.

[143:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 133.

[143:B] Gifford's Massinger, vol. i. p. 166.; and Dodsley's Old Plays,
by Reed, vol. xii. p. 430.

[144:A] Act iv. sc. 2.

[144:B] Ancient British Drama, vol. ii. p. 546. col. 1.

[144:C] Restituta, vol. iii. p. 258.

[144:D] The Works of Taylor, the Water Poet, 1630. p. 240.

[145:A] Vide Lords' Journals, vol. ii. p. 229.

[145:B] Vide Gifford's Massinger, vol. iv. pp. 43, 44. note ex Autog.
in Bibl. Harl.

[146:A] Part II. chapter ii.

[146:B] Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 94.—Mr. Douce gives
the title-pages of several publications of this kind, in 1588, 1591,
1598, and 1599; and, lastly, describes one called "The needles
excellency," illustrated with copper-plates, and adds,—"prefixed
to the patterns are sundry poems in commendation of the needle,
and describing the characters of ladies who have been eminent for
their skill in needle-work, among which are _Queen Elizabeth_ and
the Countess of Pembroke. These poems were composed by John Taylor,
the water poet. It appears that the work (in 1640) had gone through
twelve impressions, and yet a copy is now scarcely to be met with.
This may be accounted for by supposing that such books were generally
cut to pieces, and used by women to work upon or transfer to their
samplers.—It appears to have been originally published in the reign of
James the First." P. 96.

[147:A] Vide Chalmers's Apology, p. 45., from Murden, p. 657.

[147:B] Moryson's Itinerary, p. 233.

[148:A] Walpole's Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors apud Park, vol.
ii. p. 89.

[148:B] Nugæ Antiquæ, vol. ii. pp. 216-218.

[149:A] Nichols's Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, vol. ii.

[149:B] Nugæ Antiquæ, vol. i. pp. 355. 357-359.

[150:A] The Court and Character of King James, 12mo. 1650. pp. 5, 6.

[150:B] Vide Melvill's Memoirs.

[151:A] Nugæ Antiquæ, vol. i. pp. 175, 176.

[151:B] Ibid. vol. i. p. 167.

[151:C] Ibid. p. 235.

[151:D] Ibid. p. 345.

[152:A] Ibid. vol. i. pp. 367-370.

[153:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 353.

[154:A] Lodge's Illustrations of British History, vol. i. Introduction,
pp. xviii. xix. from a MS. in the possession of the Rev. Sir Richard
Kaye, Dean of Lincoln.

[154:B] Hentzner's Travels, pp. 63, 64.

[155:A] Discoverie of Witchcraft, 4to. pp. 355, 356.—Scot has taken
great liberties with the text of Chaucer, both in modernising the
language, and in tacking together widely separated lines and couplets.

[155:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 83. Act ii. sc. 2.

[155:C] Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 14.—Batman upon
Bartholome, fol. 359. _b_.

[155:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xix. pp. 269, 270.

[156:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. pp. 114, 115.

[156:B] Itinerary, Part I. p. 198.

[156:C] Whalley's Works of Ben Jonson; act ii. sc. 3.

[157:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. viii. p. 138. As You Like It, act iv.
sc. 1.

[158:A] "The Enemie to Vnthryftinesse: publishing by Lawes, documents
and disciplines, &c. By George Whetstons, Gent. Printed at London by
Richard Jones. 1586." 4to. pp. 24. 32.—Vide British Bibliographer,
vol. iii. pp. 601-604.

[158:B] Lodge's Illustrations of British History, vol. ii. pp. 217, 218.

[159:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. viii. pp. 171. 177. 179, 180, 181. 183.

[160:A] Scourge of Villanie, 1599. book ii. sat. 7.

[161:A] Gull's Horn-book, p. 15.

[161:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. x. pp. 360-362.

[161:C] Essayes by Sir William Cornwallyes, the younger. Essay 28.

[162:A] Walton's Complete Angler, Bagster's edit. 1808, pp. 369. 380.

[162:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xv. pp. 328, 329.

[164:A] "A breffe description of the Royall Citie of London, capitall
citie of this realme of England. (City Arms.) Wrytten by me William
Smythe citezen and haberdasher of London, 1575." MS.

"This compilation," says Mr. Haslewood, "forms a quarto volume of
moderate thickness, and was intended for publication."—Vide British
Bibliographer, vol. i. pp. 539-542.

[165:A] Vide "The Statutes of the Streets," printed by Wolfe, in 1595.

[165:B] Lodge's Illustrations, vol. ii. p. 206.

[166:A] The costume of the Watchman is thus represented in the
title-page to Decker's "O per se O," &c. 4to. 1612, and is copied in
Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vi. p. 97.

[166:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xv. p. 205.

[166:C] Ibid. vol. xiii. p. 36.

[166:D] D'Ewes's Journals of Parliament, in Queen Elizabeth's Reign, p.
661. 664.



Of the diversions of the metropolis and court, some were peculiar, and
some were shared in common with the country. "The countrey hath his
recreations," observes Burton, "the city his several _Gymnicks_ and
_exercises_, _feasts_ and _merry meetings_."—"What so pleasant as to
see some _Pageant_ or sight go by, as at Coronations, Weddings, and
such like solemnities, to see an Embassadour or a Prince met, received,
entertained, with _Masks_, _Shews_, _Fireworks_, &c."[168:A]; and an
old dramatic poet of 1590, gives us a still more copious list of town

    "—— Let nothing that's magnifical,
     Or that may tend to London's graceful state,
     Be unperform'd, as _showes_ and _solemne feastes_,
     _Watches in armour_, _triumphes_, _cresset lights_,
     _Bonefires_, _belles_, and _peales of ordinaunce_
     And pleasure. See that _plaies_ be published,
     Mai-games and _maskes_, with mirth and minstrelsie,
     _Pageants_ and _school-feastes_, beares and puppet-plaies.[168:B]

"Every _palace_," continues Burton, "every _city_ almost, hath his
_peculiar walks_, _cloysters_, _terraces_, _groves_, _theatres_,
_pageants_, _games_, and _several recreations_[168:C];" and we purpose,
in this chapter, giving some account of the leading articles thus
enumerated, but more particularly of the stage, as being peculiarly
connected with the design and texture of our work.

As the principal object, therefore, of the present discussion, will be
the amusements usually appropriated to the capital; those which it has
in common with the country shall be first enumerated, though in a more
superficial way.

Of these, _card-playing_ seems to have been as universal in the days
of Elizabeth, as in modern times, and carried on, too, with the same
ruinous consequences to property and morals; for though Stowe tells
us, when commemorating the customs of London, that "from All-Hallows
eve to the day following Candlemas-day, there was, among other sports,
playing at cards for counters, nails, and points, in every house, more
for pastime than for gain," yet we learn from contemporary satirists,
from Gosson, Stubbes, and Northbrooke[169:A], that all ranks, and
especially the upper classes, were incurably addicted to gaming in the
pursuit of this amusement, which they considered equally as seductive
and pernicious as dice.

The games at cards peculiar to this period, and now obsolete, are, 1.
_Primero_, supposed to be the most ancient game of cards in England.
It was very fashionable in the age of Shakspeare, who represents Henry
the Eighth playing "at _primero_ with the duke of Suffolk[169:B];" and
Falstaff exclaiming in the _Merry Wives of Windsor_, "I never prospered
since I foreswore myself at _primero_."[169:C]

The mode of playing this curious game is thus described by Mr. Strutt,
from Mr. Barrington's papers upon card-playing, in the eighth volume of
the Archæologia:—"Each player had four cards dealt to him one by one,
the seven was the highest card in point of number that he could avail
himself of, which counted for twenty-one, the six counted for sixteen,
the five for fifteen, and the ace for the same, but the two, the three,
and the four, for their respective points only. The knave of hearts was
commonly fixed upon for the quinola, which the player might make what
card or suit he thought proper; if the cards were of different suits,
the highest number won the primero, if they were all of one colour he
that held them won the flush."[170:A]

2. _Trump_, nearly coeval in point of antiquity with primero, and
introduced in _Gammer Gurton's Needle_, a comedy, first acted in 1561,
where Dame Chat, addressing Diccon, says,—

    "We be fast set at trump, man, hard by the fyre;"[170:B]

and we learn from Decker that, in 1612, it was much in vogue:—"To
speake," he remarks, "of all the sleights used by card-players in all
sorts of games would but weary you that are to read, and bee but a
thanklesse and unpleasing labour for me to set them down. Omitting,
therefore the deceipts practised (even in the fayrest and most civill
companies) at Primero, Saint Maw, _Trump_, and such like games, I will,

3. _Gleek._ This game is alluded to twice by Shakspeare[170:D]; and
from a passage in Cook's _Green's Tu Quoque_, appears to have been held
in much esteem:—

    "_Scat._ Come, gentlemen, what is your game?

    _Staines._ Why, _gleek; that's your only game_;"[170:E]

it is then proposed to play either at twelve-penny gleek, or crown

To these may be added, _Gresco_, _Mount Saint_, _New Cut_, _Knave Out
of Doors_, and _Ruff_, all of which are mentioned in old plays, and
were favourites among our ancestors.[170:G]

_Tables and Dice_, enumerated by Burton after cards, include some
games unknown to the present day; such as _tray-trip_, _mum-chance_,
_philosopher's game_, _novum_, &c.; the first is noticed by Shakspeare
in _Twelfth Night_, and appears, from a note by Mr. Tyrwhitt, to
have been a species of _draughts_[171:A]; the second was also a game
at tables, and is coupled by Ben Jonson in the _Alchemist_ with
_tray-trip_[171:B]; the third is mentioned by Burton[171:C], and is
described by Mr. Strutt from a manuscript in the British Museum.—"It
is called," says the author, "'a number fight,' because in it men fight
and strive together by the art of counting or numbering how one may
take his adversary's king and erect a triumph upon the deficiency of
his calculations[171:D];" and the fourth is introduced by Shakspeare
in _Love's Labour's Lost_[171:E];—"it was properly called _novum
quinque_," remarks Mr. Douce, "from the two principal throws of the
dice, nine and five;—was called in French _quinque-nove_, and is said
to have been invented in Flanders."[171:F]

The immoralities to which _dice_ have given birth, we are authorised
in considering, from the proverbial phraseology of Shakspeare, to have
been as numerous in his time as at present. The expressions "false as
dice[171:G]," and "false as dicers' oaths[171:H]," will be illustrated
by the following anecdote, taken from an anonymous MS. of the reign of
James the First:—"Sir William Herbert, playing at dice with another
gentleman, there rose some questions about a cast. Sir William's
antagonist declared it was a four and a five; he as positively insisted
that it was a five and a six; the other then swore with a bitter
imprecation, that it was as he had said; Sir William then replied,
'Thou art a perjured knave; for give me a sixpence, and if there be a
four upon the dice, I will return you a thousand pounds;' at which the
other was presently abashed, for indeed the dice were false, and of a
high cut, without a four."[172:A]

_Dancing_ was an almost daily amusement in the court of Elizabeth; the
Queen was peculiarly fond of this exercise, as had been her father
Henry the Eighth, and the taste for it became so general, during her
reign, that a great part of the leisure of almost every class of
society was spent, and especially on days of festivity, in dancing.

To dance elegantly was one of the strongest recommendations to the
favour of Her Majesty; and her courtiers, therefore, strove to rival
each other in this pleasing accomplishment; nor were their efforts,
in many instances, unrewarded. Sir Christopher Hatton, we are told,
owed his promotion, in a great measure, to his skill in dancing; and
in accordance with this anecdote, Gray opens his "Long Story" with
an admirable description of his merit in this department, which, as
containing a most just and excellent picture, both of the architecture
and manners of "the days of good Queen Bess," as well as of the dress
and agility of the knight, we with pleasure transcribe. Stoke-Pogeis,
the scene of the narrative, was formerly in the possession of the

    "In Britain's isle, no matter where,
     An ancient pile of building stands;
     The Huntingdons and Hattons there
     Employ'd the pow'r of Fairy hands

     To raise the cieling's fretted height,
     Each pannel in achievements clothing,
     Rich windows that exclude the light,
     And passages that lead to nothing.

     Full oft within the spacious walls,
     When he had fifty winters o'er him,
     My grave Lord-Keeper led the _brawls_;
     The seal and maces danc'd before him.

     His bushy beard and shoe-strings green,
     His high-crown'd hat and sattin doublet,
     Mov'd the stout heart of England's Queen.
     Tho' Pope and Spaniard could not trouble it."

The _Brawl_, a species of dance, here alluded to, is derived from the
French word _braule_, "indicating," observes Mr. Douce, "a shaking or
swinging motion.—It was performed by several persons uniting hands in
a circle, and giving each other continual shakes, the steps changing
with the tune. It usually consisted of three _pas_ and a _pied-joint_,
to the time of four strokes of the bow; which, being repeated,
was termed _a double brawl_. With this dance, balls were usually

Shakspeare seems to have entertained as high an idea of the efficacy
of a _French brawl_, as probably did Sir Christopher Hatton, when he
exhibited before Queen Elizabeth; for he makes Moth in _Love's Labour's
Lost_ ask Armado,—"Master, will you win your love with a _French
brawl_?" and he then exclaims, "These betray nice wenches."[173:B]
That several dances were included under the term _brawls_, appears
from a passage in Shelton's Don Quixote:—"After this there came in
another artificial dance, of _those called Brawles_[173:C];" and Mr.
Douce informs us, that amidst a great variety of _brawls_, noticed in
Thoinot Arbeau's treatise in dancing, entitled _Orchesographie_, occurs
a _Scotish brawl_; and he adds that this dance continued in fashion to
the close of the seventeenth century.[173:D]

Another dance of much celebrity at this period, was the _Pavin_ or
_Pavan_, which, from the solemnity of its measure, seems to have
been held in utter aversion by Sir Toby Belch, who, in reference
to his intoxicated surgeon, exclaims,—"Then he's a rogue. After a
passy-measure, or a pavin, I hate a drunken rogue."[174:A] This is the
text of Mr. Tyrwhitt; but the old copy reads,—"Then he's a rogue, and
_a passy measure's pavyn_," which is probably correct; for the _pavan_
was rendered still more grave by the introduction of the _passamezzo_
air, which obliged the dancers, after making several steps round the
room, to _cross it in the middle_ in a _slow step_ or cinque pace. This
alteration of time occasioned the term _passamezzo_ to be prefixed to
the name of several dances; thus we read of the _passamezzo galliard_,
as well as the _passamezzo pavan_; and Sir Toby, by applying the latter
appellation to his surgeon, meant to call him, not only a rogue, but a
solemn coxcomb. "The _pavan_, from _pavo_ a peacock," observes Sir J.
Hawkins, "is a grave and majestick dance. The method of dancing it was
anciently by gentlemen dressed with a cap and sword, by those of the
long robe in their gowns, by princes in their mantles, and by ladies
in gowns with long trains, the motion whereof in the dance resembled
that of a peacock's tail. This dance is supposed to have been invented
by the Spaniards, and its figure is given with the characters for the
step, in the Orchesographia of Thoinot Arbeau.—Of the _passamezzo_
little is to be said, except that it was a favourite air in the days
of Queen Elizabeth. Ligon, in his _History of Barbadoes_, mentions a
_passamezzo_ galliard, which, in the year 1647, a Padre in that island
played to him on the lute; the very same, he says, with an air of that
kind which in Shakspeare's play of _Henry the Fourth_ was originally
played to Sir John Falstaff and Doll Tearsheet, by Sneak, the musician,
there named."[174:B]

Of equal gravity with the "doleful pavin," as Sir W. D'Avenant calls
it, was _The Measure_, to _tread_ which was the relaxation of the most
dignified characters in the state, and formed a part of the revelry
of the inns of court, where the gravest lawyers were often found
_treading the measures_. Shakspeare puns upon the name of this dance,
and contrasts it with the Scotch jig, in _Much Ado about Nothing_,
where he introduces Beatrice telling her cousin Hero,—"The fault will
be in the musick, cousin, if you be not woo'd in good time: if the
prince be too important, tell him, there is _measure_ in every thing,
and so _dance out_ the answer. For hear me, Hero: Wooing, wedding,
and repenting, is as a Scotch jig, _a measure_, and a cinque-pace:
the first suit is hot and hasty, like a Scotch jig, and full as
fantastical: the wedding, mannerly-modest, as a _measure full of state
and ancientry_; and then comes repentance, and, with his bad legs,
falls into the cinque-pace faster and faster, till he sink into his

A more brisk and lively step accompanied the _Canary dance_, which
was, likewise, very fashionable:—"I have seen a medicine," says Lafeu
in _All's Well that Ends Well_, alluding to the influence of female

    "That's able to breathe life into a stone;
    Quicken a rock, and _make you dance canary,
    With spritely fire and motion_;"[175:B]

and Moth advises Armado, when dancing the brawl, to _Canary it_ with
his feet.[175:C]

The mode of performing this dance, is thus given by Mr. Douce, from
the treatise of Thoinot Arbeau:—"A lady is taken out by a gentleman,
and after dancing together to the cadences of the proper air, he leads
her to the end of the hall; this done he retreats back to the original
spot, always looking at the lady. Then he makes up to her again, with
certain steps, and retreats as before. His partner performs the same
ceremony, which is several times repeated by both parties, with various
strange fantastic steps, very much in the savage style."[175:D]

Beside the _brawl_, the _pavan_, the _measure_, and the _canary_,
several other dances were in vogue, under the general titles of
_corantoes_, _lavoltos_, _jigs_, _galliards_, and _fancies_, but the
four which we have selected for more peculiar notice, appear to have
been the most celebrated.

It is a melancholy proof of the imperfect state of civilisation
during the reign of Elizabeth, that the barbarous sport of _Bear and
Bullbeating_ should have been as favourite a diversion of the court,
nobility, and gentry, as of the lowest class of society. Indeed it
would appear, from an order issued by the privy council, in July, 1591,
that the populace had earlier than their superiors become tired of this
cruel spectacle, and had given a marked preference to the amusements of
the stage; for it is enacted in the above order, that there should be
no plays publickly exhibited on _Thursdays_; because on _Thursdays_,
_bear-baiting_ and such like pastimes had been _usually_ practised;
and four days afterwards an injunction to the same effect was sent to
the Lord Mayor, in which, after justly reprobating the performance of
plays on the Sabbath, it is added, that on "all other days of the week
in divers place the players do use to recite their plays to the _great
hurt and destruction of the game of bear-baiting, and like pastimes,
which are maintained for her Majesty's pleasure_."[176:A]

History informs us that Elizabeth's pleasure was thus gratified at an
early period of her life, and continued to be so to the close of her
reign. When confined at Hatfield house, she, and her sister, Queen
Mary, were recreated with a grand exhibition of bear-baiting, "_with
which their highnesses were right well content_."[176:B] Soon after
she had ascended the throne, she entertained the French ambassadors
with bear and bull baiting, and stood a spectatress of the amusement
until six in the evening; a similar exhibition took place the next
day at Paris-Garden, for the same party; and even twenty-seven years
posterior, Her Majesty could not devise a more welcome gratification
for the Danish ambassador, than the display of such a spectacle at

So decided a partiality for this savage pastime would, of course,
induce her courtiers to take care that their mistress should not be
disappointed in this respect, and more especially when she honoured
them with one of her periodical visits. Accordingly Laneham tells us,
that when she was at Kenelworth Castle, in 1575, not less than thirteen
bears were provided for her diversion, and that these were baited with
a large species of ban-dogs.[177:A]

An example thus set by royalty itself, soon spread through every rank,
and bear and bull baiting became one of the most general amusements
in England. Shakspeare has alluded to it in more than twenty places,
and it has equally attracted the notice of the foreign and domestic
historian. Hentzner, whose Itinerary was printed in Latin A. D. 1598,
was a spectator at one of these exhibitions, which he describes in
the following manner: speaking of the theatres he says, "there is
still another place, built in the form of a theatre, which serves
for the baiting of bulls and bears; they are fastened behind, and
then worried by great English bull-dogs, but not without great risque
to the dogs, from the horns of the one, and the teeth of the other;
and it sometimes happens they are killed on the spot; fresh ones
are immediately supplied in the places of those that are wounded or
tired." He then adds an account of a still more inhuman pastime:—"To
this entertainment, there often follows that of whipping a blinded
bear, which is performed by five or six men, standing circularly with
whips, which they exercise upon him without any mercy, as he cannot
escape from them because of his chain; he defends himself with all
his force and skill, throwing down all who come within his reach,
and are not active enough to get out of it, and tearing the whips
out of their hands, and breaking them."[177:B] Stowe, in the edition
of his Survey printed in 1618, remarks, that "as for the bayting of
Bulles and Beares, they are till this day much frequented, namely,
in Beare-gardens on the Bankside, wherein be prepared Scaffolds for
beholders to stand upon."[177:C]

The admission to these gardens was upon easy terms, for we are told
that the spectators paid "one pennie at the gate, another at the entrie
of the scaffold, and a third for quiet standing."[178:A] It was usual
also for the bearward to parade the streets with his animal, who had
frequently a monkey on his back and was preceded by a minstrel. The
bear was generally complimented with the name of his keeper: thus, in
Shakspeare's time, there was a celebrated one at Paris Garden called
_Sackerson_. "I have seen Sackerson loose," says Slender, "twenty
times; and have taken him by the chain: but, I warrant you, the women
have so cried and shriek'd at it, that it pass'd:—but women, indeed,
cannot abide 'em; they are very ill-favoured rough things[178:B];" in
the "Puritan" published in 1607, occurs one named _George Stone_; and
in the "Humorous Lovers," by the Duke of Newcastle, printed in 1617,
_Tom of Lincoln_ is the appellation of another.

A diversion infinitely more elegant and pleasing in all its
accompaniments, once of great utility, and unattended with the smallest
vestige of barbarism or inhumanity, we have now to record as resulting
from the use of the long bow, which, though greatly on the decline, in
the days of Elizabeth, as a weapon of warfare, still lingered amongst
us as a species of amusement. Various attempts, indeed, had been made
by the nearly immediate predecessors of Elizabeth, to revive the use of
the long bow as a military weapon; but with very partial success:—"the
most famous, prudent, politike and grave prince K. Henry the 7," says
Robinson, "was the first Phenix in chusing out a number of chiefe
Archers to give daily attendance upon his person, whom he named his
Garde. But the high and mighty renowmed prince his son, K. H. 8. (ann.
1509) not onely with great prowes and praise proceeded in that which
his father had begon; but also added greater dignity unto the same,
like a most roial renowmed David, enacting a good and godly statute
(ann. 33 H. 8. cap. 9.) for the use and exercise of shooting in every
degree. And further more for the maintenance of the same laudable
exercise in this honourable city of London by his gratious charter
confirmed unto the worshipful citizens of the same, this your now
famous order of Knightes of Prince Arthure's Round Table or Society:
like as in his life time when he saw a good Archer indeede, he chose
him and ordained such a one for a knight of the same order."[179:A]

To this "Auncient Order, Societie, and Unitie Laudable, of Prince
Arthure," as it was termed, and to which Shakspeare alludes, under the
character of Justice Shallow, in the second part of _King Henry the
Fourth_[179:B], Archery owed, for some time, considerable support; but
ultimately, it contributed to hasten its decline. Under the auspices
of Prince Arthur, eldest son of King Henry VII., and who was so
expert a bowman, that every skilful shooter was complimented with his
name, the society flourished abundantly; its captain being honoured
with his title, and the other members being termed his knights. His
brother Henry was equally attached to the art, but unfortunately,
having appointed a splendid match at shooting with the long bow, at
Windsor, an inhabitant of Shoreditch, London, joining the archers,
exhibited such extraordinary skill, that the King, delighted with his
performance, humorously gave him the title of Duke of Shoreditch, an
appellation which not only superseded the former title, but, being
copied by the inferior members, in assuming the rank of Marquis, Earl,
&c., threw such a degree of burlesque and ridicule over the business,
as finally brought contempt upon the art itself.

The Society, however, still subsisted with much magnificence during
the reign of Elizabeth; and in the very year that Robinson published
his book in support of Archery, namely, in 1583, "a grand shooting
match was held in London, and the captain of the archers assuming his
title of Duke of Shoreditch, summoned a suit of nominal nobility,
under the titles of Marquis of Barlo, of Clerkenwell, of Islington, of
Hoxton, of Shacklewell, and Earl of Pancrass, &c., and these meeting
together at the appointed time, with their different companies,
proceeded in a pompous march from Merchant Taylors' Hall, consisting
of three thousand archers, sumptuously apparelled; nine hundred and
forty-two of them having chains of gold about their necks. This
splendid company was guarded by four thousand whifflers and billmen,
besides pages and footmen. They passed through Broad-street, the
residence of their captain, and thence into Moorfields, by Finsbury,
and so on to Smithfield, where having performed several evolutions,
they shot at a target for honour."[180:A]

Notwithstanding this brilliant celebration, it appears that, thirteen
years afterwards, the disuse of archery was so general, that the
"Companies of Bowyers and Fletchers" made heavy complaints, and
procured a work to be written, in order to place before "the nobility
and gentlemen of England," their distress, and deprivation of
subsistence, from the neglect of the bow. The work is entitled, "A
briefe Treatise, To proove the necessitie and excellence of the Vse
of Archerie. Abstracted out of ancient and moderne writers, by R. S.
Perused and allowed by Aucthoritie." 4to. 1596. This was one of the
last attempts to revive the bow as a weapon of defence, and it records
a contemporary and successful effort to repel cavalry by its adoption
on the part of a rebel force.

"About Bartholomew tyde last, 1595," relates the author, "there came
out of Scotland one James Forgeson, bowyer to the King of Scots,
who credibly reported, that about two years past, certaine rebelles
did rise there against the King, who sent against them five hundred
horsemen well appointed. They meeting three hundred of the rebel's
bowmen, encountered each with other, when the bowemen slue two hundred
and fourscore of their horses, and killed, wounded, and sore hurt
most part of the Kinge's men. Whereupon the said Forgeson was sent
hether from the King with commission to buy up ten thousande bowes and
bowstaves: but because he could not speed heer, he went over into the
East countries for them."[181:A]

The Toxophilus of Ascham, first published in 1544, was written in order
"that stil, according to the olde wont of Englande, youth should use
it for the _most honest pastime in peace_, that men might handle it as
a _most sure weapon in warre_."[181:B] The latter of these purposes so
completely failed, that the use of the bow as an offensive or defensive
weapon of warfare totally ceased in the time of James the First; but
the former was partially gained, as the treatise of Ascham certainly
contributed to prolong the reign of archery as a mere recreation,
though it could not retrieve its character as an instrument for the
destruction of game. So early, indeed, as 1531, we learn from Sir
Thomas Elyot's "Boke named the Governour," that cross-bows and guns had
then superseded the long-bow, in the sports of the field:—"Verylye
I suppose," says he, "that before crosbowes and handegunnes were
broughte into this realme, by the sleyghte of our enemies, to the
entent to distroye the noble defence of archerye, continuall use of
shootynge in the longe bowe made the feate soo perfecte and exacte
among englyshemen, that thei than as surely and soone kylled suche game
whiche thei lysted to have, as thei nowe can do with the crossebowe or

The cross-bow was the fashionable instrument for killing game, even
with the ladies, in the days of Elizabeth; the Queen was peculiarly
fond of the sport, and her example was eagerly followed by the female
part of her court. Shakspeare represents the Princess and her ladies,
in _Love's Labour's Lost_, thus employed[182:A]; and Mr. Lodge informs
us, through the medium of a letter, written by Sir Francis Leake in
1605, that the Countess of Shrewsbury, and the ladies of the Cavendish
family, were ardently attached to this diversion.[182:B]

That the _honest pastime_ of shooting with the long bow was often
commuted, in the capital, for amusements of a much less innocent
nature, we learn from Stowe, who attributes the decline of archery,
as a diversion, to the enclosure of common grounds in the vicinity
of the metropolis:—"What should I speake," says he, "of the ancient
dayly exercises in the long Bow by citizens of this citie, now almoste
cleane left off and forsaken: I over passe it: for by the meanes of
closing in of common grounds, our Archers for want of roome to shoote
abroad, creep into bowling allies, and ordinarie dicing-houses neerer
home, where they have roome enough to hazard their money at unlawfull

Among the amusements more peculiarly belonging to the metropolis,
and which better than any other exhibits the fashionable mode, at
that time, of disposing of the day, we may enumerate the custom of
publickly parading in the middle isle of St. Paul's Cathedral. During
the reign of Elizabeth and James, _Paul's Walk_, as it was called,
was daily frequented by the nobility, gentry, and professional men;
here, from ten to twelve in the forenoon, and from three to six in the
afternoon, they met to converse on business, politics, or pleasure; and
hither too, in order to acquire fashions, form assignations for the
gaming table, or shun the grasp of the bailiff, came the gallant, the
gamester, and the debtor, the stale knight, and the captain out of
service; and here it was that Falstaff purchased Bardolph; "I bought
him," says the jolly knight, "at Paul's."[183:A]

Of the various purposes for which this temple was frequented by the
loungers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Decker has left
us a most entertaining account, and from his tract on this subject,
published in 1609, we shall extract a few passages which throw no
incurious light on the follies and dissipation of the age.

The supposed tomb of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, but in reality that
of Guy Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, appears to have been a privileged
part of the Cathedral:—"The Duke's tomb," observes Decker, addressing
the gallant, "is a sanctuary; and will keep you alive from worms, and
land rats, that long to be feeding on your carcass: there you may spend
your legs in winter a whole afternoon; converse, plot, laugh, and talk
any thing; jest at your creditor, even to his face; and in the evening,
even by lamp-light, steal out; and so cozen a whole covey of abominable

Such was the resort of the male fashionable world to this venerable
Gothic pile, that it was customary for trades-people to frequent its
aisles for the purpose of collecting the dresses of the day. "If you
determine to enter into a new suit, warn your tailor to attend you in
Pauls, who, with his hat in his hand, shall like a spy discover the
stuff, colour, and fashion of any doublet or hose that dare be seen
there, and, stepping behind a pillar to fill his table books with those
notes, will presently send you into the world an accomplished man;
by which means you shall wear your clothes in print with the first

The author even condescends to instruct his beau, when he has obtained
his suit, how best to exhibit it in St. Paul's, and concludes by
pointing out other recourses for killing time, on withdrawing from the
cathedral. "Bend your course directly in the middle line, that the
whole body of the church may appear to be yours; where, in view of all,
you may publish your suit in what manner you affect most, either with
the slide of your cloak from the one shoulder: and then you must, as
'twere in anger, suddenly snatch at the middle of the inside, if it
be taffeta at the least; and so by that means your costly lining is
betrayed, or else by the pretty advantage of compliment. But one note
by the way do I especially woo you to, the neglect of which makes many
of our gallants cheap and ordinary, that by no means you be seen above
four turns; but in the fifth make yourself away, either in some of the
semsters' shops, the new tobacco-office, or amongst the booksellers,
where, if you cannot read, exercise your smoke, and inquire who has
writ against this divine weed, &c."[184:A]

After dinner it was necessary that the finished coxcomb should return
to Paul's in a new dress:—"After dinner you may appear again, having
translated yourself out of your English cloth into a light Turkey
grogram, if you have that happiness of shifting; and then be seen,
for a turn or two, to correct your teeth with some quill or silver
instrument, and to cleanse your gums with a wrought handkerchief:
it skills not whether you dined, or no; that is best known to your
stomach; or in what place you dined; though it were with cheese, of
your own mother's making, in your chamber or study."[184:B]

The fopperies exhibited in a place, which ought to have been closed
against such unhallowed inmates, rival, if not exceed, all that
modern puppyism can produce. The directions which Decker gives to
his gallant on quitting St. Paul's in the forenoon, clearly prove,
that the loungers of Shakspeare's time are not surpassed, either
in affectation or the assumption of petty consequence, by the same
worthless class of the nineteenth century:—"in which departure,"
enjoins the satirist, "if by chance you either encounter, or aloof
off throw your inquisitive eye upon any knight or squire, being your
familiar, salute him not by his name of Sir such a one, or so; but call
him Ned, or Jack, &c. This will set off your estimation with great men:
and if, though there be a dozen companies between you, 'tis the better,
he call aloud to you, for that is most genteel, to know where he shall
find you at two o'clock; tell him at such an ordinary, or such; and be
sure to name those that are dearest, and whither none but your gallants

A still more offensive mode of displaying this ostentatious folly,
sprang from a custom then general, and even now not altogether
obsolete, of demanding _spur-money_ from any person entering the
cathedral during divine service, with spurs on. This was done by
the younger choristers, and, it seems, frequently gave birth to the
following gross violation of decency: "Never be seen to mount the
steps into the quire, but upon a high festival day, to prefer the
fashion of your doublet; and especially if the singing-boys seem to
take note of you; for they are able to buzz your praises above their
anthems, if their voices have not lost their maiden heads: but be sure
your silver spurs dog your heels, and then the boys will swarm about
you like so many white butterflies[185:B]; when you in the open quire
shall draw forth a perfumed embroidered purse, the glorious sight of
which will entice many countrymen from their devotion to wondering:
and quoit silver into the boy's hands, that it may be heard above the
first lesson, although it be read in a voice as big as one of the great

The tract from which we have taken these curious illustrations,
contains also a passage which serves to show, that London, in the time
of our poet, was not unprovided with exhibitions of the docility,
sagacity, and tricks of animals; and this, with similar relations, will
tend to prove, that the ingenious Mr. Astley, and the Preceptor of
the learned pig, had been anticipated both in skill and perseverance.
Decker, after conducting his "mere country gentleman" to the top of
St. Paul's, proceeds thus:—"Hence you may descend, to talk about the
_horse_ that went up; and strive, if you can, to know his keeper; take
the day of the month, and the number of the steps; and suffer yourself
to believe verily that it was not a horse, but something else in the
likeness of one: which wonders you may publish, when you return into
the country, to the great amazement of all farmer's daughters, that
will almost swoon at the report, and never recover till their bans be
asked twice in the church."[186:A]

This is the _dancing-horse_ alluded to by Shakspeare, in _Love's
Labour's Lost_[186:B]; an English bay gelding, fourteen years old, and
named _Morocco_. He had been taught by one Banks, a Scotchman, and
their fame was spread over a great part of Europe; "if Banks had lived
in older times," remarks Sir Walter Raleigh, "he would have shamed
all the inchanters in the world: for whosoever was most famous among
them, could never master, or instruct any beast as he did."[186:C] It
was the misfortune, indeed, of this man and his horse to be taken for
enchanters; while at Paris, they had a narrow escape, being imprisoned
for dealing with the devil, and at length liberated, on the magistrates
discovering that the whole was merely the effect of human art[186:D];
but at Rome they fell a sacrifice to the more rivetted superstitions
of the people, and were both burnt as magicians; a fate to which Ben
Jonson adverts in the following lines:—

    "But amongst those Tiberts, who do you think there was?
     Old _Bankes_ the juggler, our Pythagoras,
     Grave tutor to the learned horse. Both which,
     Being, beyond sea, burned for one witch,
     Their spirits transmigrated to a cat."[186:E]

Nor were the feats of this sagacious horse unrivalled by the wonderful
acquirements of other animals. The praise of _Morocco_ is frequently
combined by the poets and satirists of the age, with an account of the
extraordinary tricks of his contemporary brutes: thus John Taylor, the
water-poet, places Holden's camel on a level with Banks's horse:—

    "Old Holden's _camel_, or fine Bankes his _cut_;"

and Bishop Hall, in his satires, brings us acquainted with a sagacious
elephant, to which he kindly adds a couple of wonders of a different
description; a _bullock with two tails_, and a _fiddling friar_. He is
describing the metamorphosis which London had produced in the person
and manners of a young farmer, and adds,

    "The tenants wonder at their landlord's sonne,
     And blesse them at so sudden coming on,
     More than who vies his pence to view some trick
     Of strange _Marocco's_ dumb arithmetick,
     Of the young _elephant_, or _two-tayl'd steere_,
     Or the rigg'd camel, or _fiddling frere_."[187:A]

The catalogue of wonders, monsters, and tricks, may be augmented by a
reference to Ben Jonson, who, in his _Bartholomew Fair_, among other
spectacles, speaks of a _Bull with five legs and two pizzles_, _Dogs
dancing the morrice_, and a _Hare beating the Tabor_.[187:B]

But of all the amusements which distinguish the age of Shakspeare,
none could vie in richness, splendour, or invention, with the costly
spectacles, called MASQUES, and PAGEANTS. The frequency of these
exhibitions during the reigns of Elizabeth and James is astonishing, if
we consider the immense expense which was lavished on their production;
the most celebrated poets and the most skilful artists often assisted
in their formation; nor was it uncommon to behold nobility, or
even royalty itself, assuming the part of actors in these romantic

What a gorgeous and voluptuous court could effect, in seconding
the efforts of consummate skill, through the medium of machinery,
decoration, and dress, may be collected from the numerous Masques of
Ben Jonson, who seems to feel the inadequacy of language to express
the beauty, grandeur, and sumptuousness of the devices employed on
these occasions. Thus, in his _Hymenæi, or the Solemnities of Masque
and Barriers at a Marriage_, he manifestly labours to paint the scene,
and, at length, professes himself unequal to the task of conveying the
impressions which it had made upon him. "Hitherto," says he, "extended
the first night's solemnity, whose grace in the execution left,
not where to add to it, with wishing: I mean (nor do I court them)
in those, that sustained the nobler parts. Such was the _exquisite
performance_, as (beside the _pomp_, _splendor_, or what we may call
_apparelling_ of such _presentments_), that alone (had all else been
absent) was of power _to surprise with delight, and steal away the
spectators from themselves_. Nor was there wanting whatsoever might
give to the furniture or complement; either in _riches, or strangeness
of the habits, delicacy of dances, magnificence of the scene, or divine
rapture of musick_. Only the envy was, that it lasted not still; or,
(now it is past) _cannot by imagination, much less description, be
recovered to a part of that spirit it had in the gliding by_."[188:A]

Nothing, indeed, shows the romantic disposition of Elizabeth, and,
indeed, of her times, more evidently than the Triumph, as it was
called, devised and performed with great solemnity, in honour of the
French commissioners for the Queen's marriage with the Duke of Anjou,
in 1581. The contrivance was for four of her principal courtiers, under
the quaint appellation of "four foster-children of Desire," to besiege
and carry, by dint of arms, "The Fortress of Beauty;" intending, by
this courtly ænigma, nothing less than the Queen's Majesty's own
person. The actors in this famous triumph were, the _Earl of Arundel_,
the _Lord Windsor_, _Master Philip Sidney_, and _Master Fulk Grevil_.
And the whole was conducted so entirely in the spirit and language
of knight-errantry, that nothing in the Arcadia itself is more

The example of the court was followed with equal profusion by the
citizens, and various corporate bodies of the capital, who contended
with each other in the cost bestowed on these performances. In
1604, when King James and his Queen passed triumphantly from the
Tower to Westminster, the citizens erected seven gates or arches,
in different parts of the space through which the procession had to
proceed. Over the first arch "was represented the true likeness of
all the notable houses, towers, and steeples, within the citie of
London.—The sixt arche or gate of triumph was erected above the
Conduit in Fleete-Streete, whereon the _Globe_ of the world was seen
to move, &c. At Temple-bar a seaventh arche or gate was erected, the
forefront whereof was proportioned in every respect like a _Temple_,
being dedicated to Janus, &c.—The citie of Westminster, and dutchy of
Lancaster, at the Strand, had erected the invention of a rainbow, the
moone, sunne, and starres, advanced between two Pyramids."[190:A]

In 1612-13, the gentlemen of the inns of court presented a masque in
honour of the marriage of the Elector Palatine of the Rhine, with the
Princess Elizabeth, of which the poetry was the composition of Chapman,
and the machinery the invention of Inigo Jones. The expense of this
pageantry amounted, according to Dugdale[190:B], to one thousand and
eighty-six pounds eight shillings and eleven pence, and was conducted
with uncommon splendour. "First rode," relates Howes, "fiftie choyce
gentlemen richly attyred, and as gallantly mounted, with every one his
footemen to attend him: These rode very stately like a vauntguard."
Next to these appeared an _antique_ or _mock-masque_. "After them came
two chariots triumphal, very pleasant and full of state, wherein rode
the choyce musitians of this kingdome, in robes like to the Virginian
priests, with sundry devises, all pleasant and significant, with two
rankes of torches: Then came the chiefe maskers with great State in
white Indian habit, or like the great princes of Barbary, richly
imbrodered with the golden sun, with suteable ornaments in all poynts,
about their necks were rufs of feathers, spangled and beset with pearle
and silver, and upon their heads lofty corronets suteable to the

Nor were these fanciful and ever varying pageants productive merely
of amusement; they had higher aims, and more important effects, and,
while ostensibly constructed for the purposes of compliment and
entertainment, either indirectly inculcated some lesson of moral
wisdom, or more immediately obtained their end, by impersonating the
vices and the virtues, and exhibiting a species of ethic drama.

They had also the merit of conveying no inconsiderable fund of
instruction from the stores of mythology, history, and philosophy.
Of this the masques of Jonson afford abundant proof, containing, as
they do, not only the common superficial knowledge on these subjects,
but displaying such a mass of recondite learning, illustrative of the
manners, opinions, customs, and antiquities of the ancient world, as
would serve to extend the information of the educated, while they
delighted and instructed the body of the people.

To these _classical diversions_, these _eruditæ voluptates_, which were
remarkably frequent during the whole era of Shakspeare's existence, we
may confidently ascribe some portion of that intimacy with the records
of history, the fictions of paganism, and the reveries of philosophy
which our poet so copiously exhibits throughout his poems and plays,
as well as no small accession to the wild and fantastic visionary
forms that so pre-eminently delight us in the golden dreams of his

Among the numerous scenes and descriptions which owe their birth, in
our author's dramas, to these superb combinations of mechanism and
poesy, we shall select two passages that more peculiarly point out the
manner in which he has availed himself of their scenery and arrangement.

"There is a passage in _Antony and Cleopatra_," observes Mr. Warton,
"where the metaphor is exceedingly beautiful; but where the beauty both
of the expression and the allusion is lost, unless we recollect the
frequency and the nature of these shows (the Pageants) in Shakspeare's
age. I must cite the whole of the context, for the sake of the last

    "_Ant._ Sometime we see a cloud that's dragonish,
            A vapour sometime, like a bear or lion;
            A towred citadel, a pendant rock,
            A forked mountain, or blue promontory
            With trees upon't, that nod unto the world,
            And mock our eyes with air: Thou hast seen these signs;
            They are _Black Vesper's Pageants_."[191:A]

This illustrious critic, however, should have continued the quotation
somewhat further; for the next three lines include a piece of imagery
immediately taken from the same source, and more worthy of remark than
any preceding allusion:—

    "_Eros._ Ay, my lord.

      _Ant._ That, which is now a horse; even with a thought,
             The _Rack dislimns_; and makes it indistinct,
             As water is in water."[192:A]

The meaning of the expression, "The Rack dislimns," is clearly
ascertained by a reference to Ben Jonson's _Hymenæal Masque_ already
quoted, in which occurs the following striking passage:—"Here the
upper part of the scene, which was all of clouds, and made artificially
to swell and ride like the _Rack_, began to open, and the air clearing,
in the top thereof was discovered Juno sitting in a throne, supported
by two beautiful peacocks.—Round about her sate the spirits of the
ayre, in several colours, making musique. Above her the region of
fire, with a continual motion, was seen to whirl circularly, and
Jupiter standing in the top (figuring the heaven) brandishing his
thunder. Beneath her the rainbow Iris, and, on the two sides eight
ladies, attired richly, and alike, in the most celestial colours, who
represented her powers, as she is the Governess of Marriage."[192:B]

This extract, also, together with the one given in a preceding page,
descriptive of the _Citizen's Pageant_ in honour of James and his
Queen, 1604, will throw a strong light on a celebrated passage in the
_Tempest_, and fully prove our poet's extensive obligations to these
very ingenious devices:—

    "Our revels now are ended: These our actors,
     As I foretold you, were _all spirits_, and
     Are _melted into air, into thin air_:
     And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
     The cloud-capt _towers_, the gorgeous palaces,
     The solemn _temples_, the great _globe_ itself,
     Yea all, which it inherit, shall dissolve;
     And, like this _insubstantial pageant_ faded,
     Leave not a _rack_ behind."[193:A]

The _towers_, the _temples_, and the _great globe itself_ of these
lines, we find exhibited in the pageant of 1604, eight or ten years
anterior to the representation of this play; while in the masque of
Jonson, we perceive the occasion of its performance to have been
similar to that which gave origin to the _insubstantial pageant_ of
Prospero, both being _Hymenæal Masques_, both likewise including among
their actors the characters of _Iris_ and _Juno_, and both being
accompanied by _spirits of the ayre making musick_.

Here the term _rack_, in both quotations from our poet, manifestly
appears, from the passage in Ben Jonson's masque, to have been
drawn from the machinery of the _pageant_, and to have implied
_masses of clouds in motion_; the lines from _Antony and Cleopatra_,
alluding to their mutability and endless diversity, and those in the
_Tempest_ importing their utter insignificance and instability when
compared with the more durable materials of the _pageant_; and hence
emphatically founding on their evanescence, a complete picture of
entire dissolution, that, like the insubstantial pageant which had just
vanished from their eyes, not only towers, palaces, temples, and the
globe itself, should disappear, but even not the most trifling part of
the fabric of the world, not even the passing clouds, the _fleeting
rack_, should be left behind, as a memorial of existence.

Upon no occasions were these imposing spectacles, the _masque_, the
_pageant_, and the _triumph_, gotten up with more gorgeous splendour,
than during the PROGRESSES which Elizabeth so frequently
made throughout the course of her long reign. Every nobleman's house
was thrown open for her reception whilst thus engaged, and the
keenest rivalry was excited amongst them, with regard to the expense,
magnificence, variety, and duration of the entertainments which they
lavished upon her. Nor was the Queen at all scrupulous in accepting
their invitations, for she considered this hospitality, however ruinous
to the individual, as a necessary attention, and, in fact, entered
the mansions of her courtiers with the same feelings of property, as
when she sate down beneath the roof of what might more strictly be
termed her own palaces. That her subjects were complaisant enough to
acquiesce in this assumption, is evident from a passage in _Harrison's
Description of England_, who mentioning the variety of the Queen's
houses, adds,—"But what shall I need to take upon me to repeat all,
and tell what houses the queen's majesty hath? Sith _all is hirs_; and
when it pleaseth hir in the summer season to recreate hirself abroad,
and view the state of the countrie, and hear the complaints of hir
unjust officers or substitutes, _every nobleman's house is hir palace_,
where she continueth during pleasure, and till she returne again to
some of hir owne." One of the most striking proofs of the frequency and
oppression of these royal visits, has been recorded by Mr. Nichols, who
tells us, that "she was _twelve_ times at Theobald's, which was a very
convenient distance from London. _Each visit_ cost Cecil _two or three
thousand pounds_; the Queen lying there _at his Lordships charge_,
sometimes _three weeks_, or _a month_, or _six weeks together_."[194:A]

These _Progresses_, however, of which Mr. Nichols has presented us
with a most curious and ample collection, serve, more than any other
documents which history could afford, to impress us with an accurate
and interesting idea of the hospitality, diversions, costume, and
domestic economy, of the great Baronial Chieftains of our last romantic
reign. From them, observes their very ingenious editor, "much of the
manners of the times may be learned. They give us a view into the
interior of the noble families, display their state in house-keeping,
and other articles, and set before our eyes their magnificent mansions
long since gone to decay, or supplanted by others of the succeeding

Perhaps the most splendid reception which Elizabeth met with, in
the whole course of her Progresses, was at Kenelworth-castle, in
Warwickshire, the seat of the once all-powerful Earl of Leicester. Some
slight notice of this place, as having probably attracted the attention
of young Shakspeare, during the visit of Her Majesty, has already been
given in a former part of our work; but it will be necessary here, in
order to impart a just conception of the costly entertainments which
awaited the Queen on these excursions, to give a brief catalogue of the
ten days "princely pleasures" of Kenelworth castle.

Her Majesty reached Lord Leicester's on Saturday, the ninth of July,
1575, and was greeted, on her approach to the castle, by a Sibyl,
prophesying prosperity to her government. Six giants stood ready to
receive her at the outer gate apparently blowing trumpets, which
were in reality sounded by persons placed behind them, while the
Porter, representing Hercules, addressed her in a metrical speech,
"proclaiming open gates and free passage to all, and yielding to her
on his knees, his club, keys, and office." Arriving at the base court,
a female figure, appropriately dressed, "came all over the pool,
being so conveyed, that it seemed she had gone upon the water; she
was attended by two water-nymphs, and calling herself the Lady of the
Lake," complimented Her Majesty, who, passing on to the inner court,
crossed the bridge, which was ornamented with seven pillars on each
side, exhibiting on their summits, birds in cages, fruits in silver
bowls, corn in similar vessels, wine and grapes in silver pots, fishes
in trays, weapons of war, and musical instruments, the respective gifts
of Silvanus, Pomona, Ceres, Bacchus, Neptune, Mars, and Apollo. Then,
preceded by a noble band of music, the Queen crossed the inner court,
alighted from her horse, and entered her apartments.

On Sunday evening, she beheld _a grand display of fire-works_, a
species of amusement which had been little known previous to her reign:
"after a warning piece or two," says Laneham, "was a blaze of burning
darts flying to and fro, beams of stars coruscant, streams and hail
of fire-sparks, lightnings of wild fire on the water; and on the land,
flight and shot of thunder-bolts, all with such continuance, terror,
and vehemence, the heavens thundered, the waters surged, and the earth

Monday was occupied by _hunting_, conducted on a large and magnificent
scale, during which Her Majesty was ingeniously complimented through
the medium of several _sylvan devices_.

_Music_, _dancing_, and _pageantry on the water_, formed the diversions
of the _Tuesday_.

_Hunting_ and _field sports_ consumed the _Wednesday_; _bear-baiting_,
_tumbling_, and _fire-works_, were the recreations of the _Thursday_;
and, the weather not permitting any out-door diversions on _Friday_,
the time was spent in _banquetting_, _shows_, and _domestic games_.

On _Saturday_, the morning being fine, the Queen was highly entertained
by the representation of a _country bride-ale_, by _running at the
quintain_, and by the "Old Coventry Play of Hock Thursday;" while the
evening diversions were a _regular play_, a _banquet_, and a _masque_.

The amusement of hunting was resumed on the _Monday_, returning from
which Her Majesty was highly gratified by a _pageant on the water_,
exhibiting, among other spectacles, Arion seated upon a dolphin
twenty-four feet in length, and singing a song, accompanied by the
music of six performers, who were snugly lodged in the belly of the

The _Coventry play_ not having been finished on the preceding Saturday,
was repeated, at the desire of the Queen, on the _Tuesday_, and on
_Wednesday_ the 20th, she bade adieu to Kenelworth, greatly delighted
with the hospitality and princely splendour of its noble owner.[196:A]

The _Hall_ and the _Tiltyard_ were two of the most striking features
at Kenelworth, and they designate with sufficient precision two of the
leading characteristics of the age of Elizabeth, its _hospitality_,
and _attachment to chivalric costume_; the former was carried on upon
a scale to which modern usage is a perfect stranger; for, as Bishop
Hurd remarks, "the same bell, that called the great man to his table,
invited the neighbourhood all around, and proclaimed a holiday to the
whole country[197:A];" and the latter cherished its predilections, and
romantic ardour, by cultivating tilting, the sole remaining offspring
of the gorgeous tournament, with scientific skill. The latter half of
the sixteenth, and the commencement of the seventeenth, century, saw,
indeed, the diversion of running at the ring carried to its highest
degree of perfection, from which, however, it very soon afterwards
began to decline, and may be said to have expired with the reign of
James the First.

Yet the influence of this amusement, in exciting the heroism of the
Elizabethan age, was by no means inconsiderable, and we may view the
_tilt-yard_ of Kenelworth, with the eyes of Dr. Hurd, "as a nursery of
brave men, a very seed-plot of warriors and heroes.—And, as whimsical
a figure as a young _tilter_ may make in a modern eye, who will say
that the virtue was not formed here, that triumphed at AXELL, and bled
at ZUTPHEN."[197:B]

To complete the picture of Kenelworth-castle during this festive
period, it would be desirable, could we ascertain what were the
domestic economy and usages which were adopted in so large a household,
and how the Queen, her ladies, and attendants, contrived to pass the
hours, when the weather forbade exterior diversions, and when the
masque, the banquet, and the fete, had exhausted their attractions.
Fortunately we possess a sketch of this kind, from the communicative
pen of Laneham, who seems to have been gifted, if we may trust his own
account, with great powers of pleasing, and to have enjoyed, in an
extraordinary degree, the favour and confidence of the high-born dames
of honour who followed in the train of Elizabeth.

"Methought it my part," he relates in a letter to his friend,
"somewhat to impart unto you how it is here with me, and how I lead my
life, which indeed is this:—

"A mornings I rise ordinarily at seven o'clock: Then ready, I go
into the Chapel; soon after eight, I get me commonly into my Lord's
chamber, or into my Lord's presidents. There at the cupboard, after
I have eaten the manchet served overnight for livery (for I dare be
as bold, I promise you, as any of my friends the servants there: and
indeed could I have fresh, if I would tarry; but I am of wont jolly
and dry a mornings): I drink me up a good bol of ale: when in a sweet
pot it is defecated by all night's standing, the drink is the better,
take that of me: and a morsel in a morning, with a sound draught; is
very wholesome and good for the eye-sight: Then I am as fresh all the
forenoon after, as had I eaten a whole piece of beef. Now, Sir, if
the Council sit, I am at hand; wait at an inch, I warrant you: If any
man make babbling, 'Peace,' say I, 'wot ye where ye are?' If I take a
listener, or a pryer in at the chinks or at the lock-hole, I am by and
by in the bones of him: But now they keep good order, they know me well
enough: If a be a friend, or such a one as I like, I make him sit down
by me on a form or a chest; let the rest walk, a God's name.

"And here doth my language now and then stand me in good stead: My
_French_, my _Spanish_, my _Dutch_, and my _Latin_: Sometime among
Ambassador's men, if their Master be within the Council: Sometime with
the Ambassador himself, if he bid call his lacky, or ask me what's a
clock; and I warrant ye I answer him roundly; that they marvel to see
such a fellow there: then laugh I and say nothing: Dinner and supper I
have twenty places to go to, and heartily prayed to: Sometime get I to
_Master Pinner_; by my faith, a worshipful Gentleman, and as careful
for his charge as any her Highness hath: there find I alway good store
of very good viands; we eat, and be merry, thank God and the _Queen_.
Himself in feeding very temperate and moderate as ye shall see any:
and yet, by your leave, of a dish, as a cold pigeon or so, that hath
come to him at meat more than he looked for, I have seen him een so
by and by surfeit, as he hath plucked off his napkin, wiped his knife,
and eat not a morsel more; like enough to stick in his stomach a two
days after: (some hard message from the higher officers; perceive ye
me?) upon search, his faithful dealing and diligence hath found him

"In afternoons and a nights, sometime am I with the right worshipful
_Sir George Howard_, as good a Gentleman as any lives: And sometime, at
my good _Lady Sidneys_ chamber, a Noblewoman that I am as much bound
unto, as any poor man may be unto so gracious a Laday; and sometime in
some other place. But always among the Gentlewomen by my good will;
(O, ye know thatt comes always of a gentle spirit:) And when I see
company according, then can I be as lively too: Sometime I foot it with
dancing: now with my gittern, and else with my cittern, then at the
virginals: Ye know nothing comes amiss to me: Then carol I up a song
withal; that by and by they come flocking about me like bees to honey:
And ever they cry, 'Another, good Langham, another!' Shall I tell you?
When I see _Mistress_ —— (A, see a mad Knave; I had almost told all!)
that she gives once but an eye or an ear; why then, man, am I blest;
my grace, my courage, my cunning is doubled: She says, sometime, 'She
likes it;' and then I like it much the better; it doth me good to hear
how well I can do. And to say truth; what with mine eyes, as I can
amorously gloat it, with my _Spanish_ sospires, my _French_ heighes,
mine _Italian_ dulcets, my _Dutch_ hoves, my double releas, my high
reaches, my fine feigning, my deep diapason, my wanton warbles, my
running, my timing, my tuning, and my twinkling, I can gracify the
matters as well as the proudest of them, and was yet never stained,
I thank God: By my troth, Countryman, it is some time high midnight,
ere I can get from them. And thus have I told ye most of my trade, all
the live-long day: what will ye more, God save the _Queene_ and my

Of this magnificent castle, the unrivalled abode of baronial
hospitality, and chivalric pageantry, who can avoid lamenting the
present irreparable decay, or forbear apostrophising the mouldering
reliques in the pathetic, and picturesque language, which Bishop Hurd
has placed in the mouth of his admired Addison?

"Where, one might ask, are the tilts and tournaments, the princely
shows and sports, which were once so proudly celebrated within these
walls? Where are the pageants, the studied devices, and emblems of
curious invention, that set the court at a gaze, and even transported
the high soul of our Elizabeth? Where now, pursued he, (pointing to
that which was formerly a canal, but at present is only a meadow, with
a small rivulet running through it) where is the floating island, the
blaze of torches that eclipsed the day, the lady of the lake, the
silken nymphs her attendants, with all the other fantastic exhibitions
surpassing even the whimsies of the wildest romance? What now is become
of the revelry of feasting? of the minstrelsy that took the ear so
delightfully as it babbled along the valley, or floated on the surface
of this lake? See there the smokeless kitchens, stretching to a length
that might give room for the sacrifice of a hecatomb; the vaulted
hall, which mirth and jollity have set so often in an uproar; the
rooms of state, and the presence-chamber: what are they now but void
and tenantless ruins, clasped with ivy, open to wind and weather, and
representing to the eye nothing but the ribs and carcase, as it were,
of their former state? And see, said he, that proud gate-way, once the
mansion of a surly porter, who, partaking of the pride of his lord,
made the crowds wait, and refused admittance, perhaps, to nobles whom
fear or interest drew to these walls, to pay their homage to their
master: see it now the residence of a poor tenant, who turns the key
but to let himself out to his daily labour, to admit him to a short
meal, and secure his nightly slumbers."[200:A]

To this account of some of the principal diversions of the court and
the metropolis, we have now to subjoin, in a compass corresponding with
the scale of our work, a clear, but necessarily a brief view, of an
amusement which, more than any other, is calculated to interest, and to
influence every class of society. The _state_, _economy_, and _usages_
of THE STAGE, therefore, during the age of Shakspeare, will
occupy the remainder of this chapter, forming an introduction to a
sketch of dramatic poetry, at the period of Shakspeare's commencement
as a writer for the stage.

The reader is probably aware, from the very copious and bulky, though
somewhat indigested, collections, which have been published on this
subject, that the following detail, consisting of an arrangement of
minute facts, and which aims at nothing more than a neat and lucid
compendium of an intricate topic, must necessarily, at almost every
step, be indebted to previous researches; in order, therefore, to
obviate a _continual_ parade of reference, let it suffice, that we
acknowledge the basis of our disquisition to have been derived from
the labours of Steevens and Malone, as included in the last variorum
edition of Shakspeare; from the two Apologies of Mr. Chalmers; from
Decker, as reprinted by Nott; and occasionally, from the pages of
Warton, Percy, Whiter, and Gilchrist. Where references, however, are
absolutely essential, they will be found in their due place.

It has been justly observed by Mr. Chalmers, that "what Augustus said
of Rome, may be remarked of Elizabeth and the stage, that she found it
_brick_, and left it _marble_."[201:A] At her accession in 1558, no
regular theatre had been established, and the players of that period,
even in the capital, were compelled to have recourse to the yards of
great Inns, as the most commodious places which they could obtain
for the representation of their pieces. These, being surrounded by
open stages and galleries, and possessing, likewise, numerous private
apartments and recesses from which the genteeler part of the audience
might become spectators at their ease, while the central space held a
temporary stage, uncovered in fine weather, and protected by an awning
in bad, were not ill calculated for the purposes of scenic exhibition,
and, most undoubtedly, gave rise to the form and construction, adopted
in the erection of the licensed theatres.

In this stage of infancy was the public stage at the birth of
Shakspeare; nor would it so rapidly have emerged into importance,
had not the Queen, though occasionally yielding to the enmity and
fanaticism of the puritans with regard to this recreation, been warmly
attached to theatric amusements. So early as 1569, was she frequently
entertained in her own chapel-royal, by the performance of plays on
profane subjects, by the children belonging to that establishment; and
the year following has been fixed upon as the most probable era of
the erection of a regular play-house, very appropriately named _The
Theatre_, and supposed to have been situated in the Blackfriars.

We shall not be surprised, therefore, to find, that in 1574 a regular
_company of players_ was established by _royal licence_, granting to
James Burbage, John Perkyn, John Lanham, William Johnson, and Robert
Wilson, servants of the Earl of Leicester, authority, under the privy
seal, "to use, exercyse and occupie the arte and facultye of playenge
commedies, tragedies, enterludes, stage-playes, and such other like as
they have alreadie used and studied, or hereafter shall use and studie,
as well for the recreation of our lovinge subjects as for our solace
and pleasure when we shall thinke good to see them—throughoute our
realme of England."[202:A]

This may be considered then, with great probability, as the _first_
general licence obtained by any company of players in England; but,
with the customary precaution of Elizabeth, it contains a clause,
subjecting all dramatic amusements to the previous inspection of the
_Master of the Revels_, an officer who, in the reign of Henry the
Eighth, had been created to superintend a part of the duties which
until then had fallen to the province of the Lord Chamberlain, and who
now had the sphere of his control augmented by this prudent enactment,
providing "that the saide commedies, tragedies, enterludes and
stage-playes be by the Master of our Revels for the tyme beynge before
sene and allowed."

The officers who exercised this authority, during the life of
Shakspeare, were Sir Thomas Benger, Edmond Tilney, and Sir George
Bucke. Sir Thomas Benger, who succeeded Sir Thomas Cawerden in
1560, lived not to see Shakspeare's entrance into the scenic world,
but, dying in 1577, Tilney's appointment took place in 1579. This
gentleman continued to regulate the stage for the long period of
thirty-one years; he beheld the dawn and the mid-day splendour of
Shakspeare's dramatic genius, and in his official capacity, he enjoyed
the opportunity of licensing not less than _thirty_ of his dramas,
commencing with _Henry the Sixth_, and terminating with _Antony and
Cleopatra_. On his death, in 1610, Sir George Bucke, who had obtained a
reversionary patent for the office in 1603, and had executed its duties
for twelvemonth previous to Tilney's decease, became _Master of the
Revels_, and had the felicity of reading, and the honour of licensing,
some of the last and noblest productions of our immortal poet, namely,
_Timon of Athens_, _Coriolanus_, _Othello_, the _Tempest_, and _Twelfth
Night_. He also lived to deplore the premature extinction of this
unrivalled bard, and he died in the year which presented to the public
the first folio edition of his plays.

The erection of a theatre in 1570; the establishment by royal authority
of a regular company in 1574; and the subjection of both to highly
respectable officers, operated so strongly in favour of dramatic
amusements, that we find Stubbes, the puritanic satirist, bitterly
inveighing in 1583 against the great popular support of the theatres in
his day, which he sarcastically terms _Venus' Palaces_, and immediately
afterwards designates by a general application of the names which had
been given at that time to the two principal structures: "marke,"
says he, "the flocking and running to _theaters_ and _curtens_,
daylie and hourely, night and daye, tyme and tyde, to see playes and

This passion for the stage continued rapidly to increase, and before
the year 1590 not less than four or five theatres were in existence.
The patronage of dramatic representation made an equal progress at
court; for though Elizabeth never, it is believed, attended a _public_
theatre, yet had she four companies of children who frequently
performed for her amusement, denominated the _Children of St. Pauls_,
the _Children of Westminster_, the _Children of the Chapel_, and the
_Children of Windsor_. The public actors too, who were sometimes,
in imitation of these appellations, called the _Children of the
Revels_, were, towards the close of Her Majesty's reign especially,
in consequence of a greatly acquired superiority over their younger
brethren, often called upon to act before her at the royal theatre in
Whitehall. Exhibitions of this kind at court were usual at Christmas,
on Twelfth Night, at Candlemas, and at Shrove-tide, throughout the
reigns of Elizabeth and James, and the plays of Shakspeare were
occasionally the entertainment of the night: thus we find _Love's
Labour's Lost_ to have been performed before our maiden Queen during
the Christmas-holydays, and _King Lear_ to have been exhibited before
King James on St. Stephen's night.[204:B]

On these occasions, the representation was generally at night, that
it might not interfere with the performances at the regular theatres,
which took place early in the afternoon; and we learn from the
Council-books, that the royal remuneration, in the age of Elizabeth,
for the exhibition of a single play at Whitehall, amounted to ten
pounds, of which, twenty nobles, or six pounds thirteen shillings, and
four-pence, formed the customary fee; and three pounds, six shillings,
and eight-pence, the free gift or bounty. If, however, the performers
were required to leave the capital for any of the royal palaces in its
neighbourhood, the fee, in consequence of the public exhibition of the
day being prevented, was augmented to twenty pounds.

The protection of the drama by Elizabeth and her ministers, though it
did not exempt the public players, except in one instance, from the
penalties of statutes against vagabonds, yet it induced, during the
whole of her long reign, numerous instances of private patronage from
the most opulent of her nobility and gentry, who, possessing the power
of licensing their own domestics as comedians, and, consequently of
protecting them from the operation of the act of vagrancy, sheltered
various companies of performers, under the denomination of their
servants, or retainers,—a privilege which was taken away, by act of
parliament, on the accession of James, and, as Mr. Chalmers observes,
"put an end for ever to the scenic system of prior times."[205:A]

To this private patronage of the latter half of the sixteenth
century, we must ascribe not less than fourteen distinct companies of
players, that, in succession, contributed to exhilarate the golden
days of England's matchless Queen, and, in their turn, enjoyed the
honour of contributing to her amusement. Of these, the following is
a chronological enumeration:—Soon after the accession of Elizabeth,
appeared Lord Leicester's company, the same which, in 1574, was
finally incorporated by royal licence; in 1572, was formed Sir Robert
Lane's company; in the same year Lord Clinton's; in 1575, companies
were created by Lord Warwick, and the Lord Chamberlain, the name of
Shakspeare being enrolled among the servants of the latter, who, in the
first year of the subsequent reign, became entitled to the appellation
of His Majesty's servants; in 1576, the Earl of Sussex brought forward
a theatrical body, and in 1577, Lord Howard another, neither of which,
however, attained much eminence; in 1578, the Earl of Essex mustered
a company of players, and in 1579, Lord Strange, and the Earl of
Derby, followed his example; in 1591, the Lord Admiral produced his
set of comedians; in 1592, the Earl of Hertford effected a similar
arrangement; in 1593, Lord Pembroke protected an association of actors,
and, at the close of Her Majesty's reign, the Earl of Worcester had in
pay, also, a company of theatrical performers.

In the mean time theatres, both public and private, were greatly on
the increase, and, during the period that Shakspeare immortalised
the stage, not less than _seven_ of these structures, of established
notoriety, were in existence. _Four_ of them were considered as public
theatres, namely, _The Globe_ on the Bankside, _The Curtain_ in
Shoreditch, _The Red Bull_ in St. John's Street, and _The Fortune_ in
Whitecross Street; and _three_ were termed private houses, one, for
instance, in _Blackfriars_, another in _Whitefriars_, and _The Cockpit_
or Phœnix, in Drury-Lane. As _The Globe_, however, and the theatre
in _Blackfriars_ were the property of the same set of players, only
six companies of comedians were formed, or wanted, for the purposes of

Beside these principal play-houses, several others, possessing a more
ephemeral existence, as _The Swan_, _The Rose_, &c., sprung up and
fell in succession, forming altogether such a number, as justly gave
alarm and offence to the stricter clergy, and at length attracted the
attention of the privy-council, who, on the 22d of June, 1600, issued
an order for the reduction of the number of play-houses, limiting these
buildings to two, selecting that called _The Fortune_ for Middlesex,
and fixing on _The Globe_ for Surrey. To such a degree, however, had
now arisen the attachment of the people to dramatic recreations, that
notwithstanding these orders were re-issued, with still stronger
injunctions, the following year, they could never be carried into any
effectual execution.

Much as Elizabeth favoured the stage, it appears to have been
patronised by her successor with equal, if not superior, zeal. James
may be said, indeed, to have given a dignity and consequence to the
profession, to which it had hitherto been a stranger, and to have
introduced into the theatric world, a new, and better constituted
arrangement of its parts. No sooner had he ascended the throne, than
three companies were formed under his auspices; the Lord Chamberlain's
servants he adopted as his own; the Queen chose the Earl of
Worcester's, and Prince Henry fixed upon the Earl of Nottingham's; and
on the 19th of May, only twelve days after his arrival in London, he
granted to his own company, being that performing at _The Globe_, the
following _licence_, which was first published in Rymer's _Fœdera_,
in 1705:—


    "A.D. 1603. Pat.

    "1. Jac. P. 2. m. 4. James by the grace of God, &c. to all
    justices, maiors, sheriffs, constables, headboroughs, and
    other our officers and loving subjects, greeting. Know you
    that wee, of our special grace, certaine knowledge, and meer
    motion, have licensed and authorised, and by these presentes
    doe licence and authorize theise our servaunts, Laurence
    Fletcher, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Richard Burbage,
    Augustine Phillippes, John Hemings, Henrie Condel, William Sly,
    Robert Armin, Richard Cowly, and the rest of their associates,
    freely to use and exercise the art and faculty of playing
    _comedies_, _tragedies_, _histories_, _interludes_, _morals_,
    _pastorals_, _stage-plaies_, and such like other as thei have
    alreadie studied or hereafter shall use or studie, as well
    for the recreation of our loving subjects, as for our solace
    and pleasure when we shall thincke good to see them, during
    our pleasure: and the said comedies, tragedies, histories,
    enterludes, morals, pastorals, stage-plaies, and such like, to
    shew and exercise publiquely to their best commoditie, when
    the infection of the plague shall decrease, as well within
    theire nowe usuall house called the _Globe_, within our county
    of Surrey, as also within anie towne-halls or moute-halls, or
    other convenient places within the liberties and freedom of
    any other citie, universitie, toun, or boroughe whatsoever,
    within our said realmes and dominions. Willing and commanding
    you and everie of you, as you tender our pleasure, not onelie
    to permit and suffer them herein, without any your letts,
    hindrances, or molestations, during our pleasure, but also
    to be aiding or assistinge to them if any wrong be to them
    offered, and to allow them such former curtesies as hathe
    been given to men of their place and quallitie; and also what
    further favour you shall shew to theise our servaunts for our
    sake, we shall take kindlie at your handes. In witness whereof,

    "Witness our selfe at Westminster, the nynteenth daye of Maye,

    "Per Breve de private sigillo."[208:A]

To _The Globe_ mentioned in this licence, and to the play-house
in _Blackfriars_, as being the theatres exclusively belonging to
_Shakspeare's_ company, and where all his dramas were performed, we
shall now confine our attention, the customs and usages of these, the
one being a public, and the other a private theatre, pretty accurately
applying to the rest.

The exact era of the building of _The Globe_ has not been ascertained.
Mr. Malone, from the documents which he consulted, conceives it to have
been erected not long anterior to the year 1596; and Mr. Chalmers,
resting on the evidence of Norden's map of London, concludes it to
have been built before the year 1593.[208:B] Its scite appears to
have been on the southern side of the Thames, called the _Bankside_,
and its form, which was of considerable size, to have been externally
hexagonal, and internally circular. It was constructed of wood, and
only partly thatched, its centre being open to the weather. It was
probably named The Globe, not from the circularity of its interior, but
from its sign exhibiting Hercules supporting the globe, under which was
inscribed, _Totus mundus agit histrionem_.

Being a _public_ theatre, _The Globe_ was likewise distinguished by
a pole erected on its roof, to which, during the hours of exhibition,
a flag was attached; for, by reason of its central exposure, it
necessarily became a summer theatre, its performers, the King's
company, usually commencing their season here during the month of May.
The exhibitions at the Globe were frequent, and it is said, chiefly
calculated for the lower class of people, the upper ranks, and the
critics, generally preferring the private theatres, which were smaller,
and more conveniently fitted up. The advantages of elegance and
decoration, however, were no longer wanting to The Globe, in 1614; for
the old structure, consisting of wood and thatch, being burnt down on
the 29th of June, 1613, the subsequent year saw it rise from its ashes
with considerable splendour.[209:A]

The _Theatre in Blackfriars_ may be classed among the earliest
buildings of the kind, being certainly in existence before 1580. It was
erected near the present site of Apothecaries' Hall, and being without
the liberties of the city of London, had the good fortune to escape the
levelling fury of the fanatics, who, shortly after the above period,
obtained leave to destroy all the play-houses within the jurisdiction
of the city.

It does not appear that Shakspeare's company, or the King's servants,
had any interest in this theatre before the winter of 1604, at which
period, or in the following spring, they became its purchasers; the
children of the Revels, or, as they were sometimes called, the children
of Blackfriars, being the usual performers at this house, prior to that

The distinctions subsisting between _Blackfriars_ and _The Globe_, seem
to have been nothing more, than that the former being a _private_, and
a _winter_, house, was smaller, more compactly put together, and, as
the representations were by candle-light, better calculated for the
purposes of warmth and protection. As the internal structure, however,
with the exception of the open centre, was similar to that of The
Globe, and as the economy and usages were, there is every reason to
believe, the same, not only in both these houses, but in every other
contemporary theatre, the subsequent notices may be considered as
applying, where not otherwise expressed, to the general state of the
Elizabethan stage, though immediately derived from the costume of The

The interior architectural arrangements of this ancient theatre have
been, in their leading features, preserved to the present day. The
_galleries_, or _scaffolds_, as they were sometimes called, were
constructed over each other, occupying three sides of the house,
and assuming, according to the plan of the building, a square or
semicircular form. Beneath these were small apartments, called _rooms_,
intended for the genteeler part of the audience, and answering, in
almost every respect, to our modern boxes. In The Globe, these were
open to all who chose to pay for them, but at Blackfriars and other
private theatres, there is some reason to conclude, that they were
occasionally the property of individuals, who secured their claim
through the medium of a key.[210:A]

It has been remarked, that the centre of The Globe, or summer theatre,
was open to the weather, and, from the first temporary play-houses
having been built in the area of inns or common osteries, this was
usually called _The Yard_. It had neither floor nor benches, and the
common people standing here to see the performance, were, therefore,
termed by Shakspeare _groundlings_; an epithet repeated by Decker,
who speaks of "the groundling and gallery commoner, buying his sport
by the penny."[211:A] The similar space at Blackfriars was named the
_Pit_, but seems to have differed in no other respect than in being
protected by a roof. It was separated from the stage merely by a
railing of pales, for there was no intervening orchestra, the music,
consisting chiefly of trumpets, cornets, hautboys, lutes, recorders,
viols, and organs, being executed by a band of eight or ten performers,
who were stationed in an elevated balcony nearly occupying that part of
the house which is now denominated the upper stage-box.

The stage itself appears to have been divided into two parts, namely
the _lower_ and the _upper_ stage; the former with nearly the same
relative elevation with regard to the pit as in the theatres of our own
times; the latter, resembling a balcony in shape, was placed towards
the rear of the former, having its platform not less than eight or
nine feet from the ground. This was a contrivance attended with much
conveniency; here was represented the play before the King in Hamlet;
here, in several of the old plays, part of the dialogue was carried
on, and here, having curtains which drew in front, were occasionally
concealed, from the view of the audience, persons whose seclusion might
be necessary to the business of the plot.

Curtains also of woollen, or silk, were hung in the front of the
greater or lower stage, not suspended, in the modern style, by lines
and pullies, but opening in the middle, and sliding on an iron rod.

Beside the accommodation of boxes, pit, and galleries, in the usual
parts of the house, two boxes, one on each side, were attached to the
balcony or upper stage, and were termed _private_ boxes; but, being
inconveniently situated, and, as Decker remarks, "almost smothered in
darkness," were seldom frequented, except from motives of eccentricity,
by characters higher than waiting-women and gentlemen-ushers.[211:B]
Seats, also, at the _private_ theatres, were allowed to be placed
on the stage, and were generally occupied by the wits, gallants, and
critics of the day: thus Decker observes,—"by sitting on the stage,
you have a signed patent to engross the whole commodity of _censure_;
may lawfully presume to be a girder, and _stand at the helm to steer
the passage of scenes_."[212:A]

The passage in _italics_ which closes this quotation, would seem to
be decisive of the long agitated question relative to the use of
_scenery_; Mr. Malone asserting,—"that the stage of Shakspeare was
not furnished with _moveable painted scenes_, but merely decorated
with curtains, and arras or tapestry hangings, which, when decayed,
appear to have been sometimes ornamented with pictures[212:B];" and
Mr. Steevens contending, that where so much _machinery_ as the plays
of Shakspeare require, is allowed to have been employed, the less
complicated adjunct of scenes could scarcely be wanting; for that where
"the column is found standing, no one will suppose but that it was once
accompanied by its usual entablature.—In short," he adds, "without
characteristic discriminations of place, the historical dramas of
Shakspeare in particular would have been wrapped in tenfold confusion
and obscurity; nor could the spectator have felt the poet's power,
or accompanied his rapid transitions from one situation to another,
without such guides as _painted canvas_ only could supply.—But for
these, or such assistances, the spectator, like Hamlet's mother, must
have bent his gaze on mortifying vacancy; and with the guest invited
by the Barmecide, in the Arabian tale, must have furnished from his
own imagination the entertainment of which his eyes were solicited to

If the machinery accompanying trap-doors, tombs, and cauldrons, the
appearance of ghosts, phantoms, and monsters, the descent of gods,
the magic evanishment of articles of furniture and provision, and the
confliction of the elements, were not strangers to the Shakspearean
theatre, it surely would have been an easy matter to have transferred
the _frame-work and painted canvas_ which, according to Holinshed, and
even preceding chroniclers, decorated the pageants and tournaments of
those days, to the business of the stage. Nor can we, indeed, conceive,
as Mr. Steevens has remarked, how the minute inventory of Imogen's
bedchamber, and the accurate description of the exterior of Inverness
Castle, could have been rendered intelligible or endurable without such

It is highly, probable, therefore, from these considerations, and from
the passage in Decker, that, notwithstanding the mass of negative
evidence collected by Mr. Malone, _moveable painted scenes_ were
occasionally introduced on the stage during the age of Shakspeare;
and it may be further reasonably concluded, that, from the phrase of
_STEERING the PASSAGE of scenes_, the mechanism was formed and
conducted on a plan approximating that which is now familiar to a
modern audience.

The conjecture of Mr. Steevens, however, that _private_ theatres had
no scenes, while the _public_ had, owing to the former admitting part
of the audience on the stage, who might interfere with the convenient
shifting of such an apparatus, is annihilated by the quotation from
Decker, who expressly says, that "_by SITTING ON THE STAGE_,
you have _a signed patent to stand at the helm to steer the passage of
the scenes_," by which it would appear, that those who obtained seats
on the private stage, occasionally amused themselves by assisting the
regular mechanists in the adjustment of the scenery.

We learn, also, from Heywood[213:A], that the internal roof of the
stage was either painted of a sky-blue colour, or hung with drapery
of a similar tint, in order to represent the HEAVENS; and
there is much reason to suppose, with a very ingenious commentator,
that when the idea of a gloomy and starless night was to be impressed,
these _heavens_ were hung with black, whence, among many passages in
Shakspeare illustrative of this position, the following line manifestly
owes its origin:—

    "_Hung_ be the _Heavens_ with _black_, yield day to night."[214:A]

It has, likewise, been asserted, and, indeed, to a certain extent,
proved, by the same learned writer, that the lower part of the stage
was distinguished by the name of HELL; and he quotes the
annexed passage from Chapman as decisive on the subject:—

    "The fortune of a _Stage_ (like fortune's self)
     Amazeth greatest judgments: and none knows
     The hidden causes of those strange effects,
     That rise from _this HELL_, or fall from _this HEAVEN_."[214:B]

From this connection of the celestial and infernal regions with
the stage, Mr. Whiter has inferred, through the medium of numerous
pertinent quotations from Shakspeare and his contemporaries, that a
vast mass of imagery was so blended and associated in the mind of
our great poet, as to form an intimate union in his ideas between HELL
and NIGHT; the DARKENED HEAVENS and the STAGE of TRAGEDY[214:C]; and
this, too, at an early period, even during the composition of his Rape
of Lucrece, which contains some striking instances of this theatrical

To these notices on the interior structure of the Shakspearean theatre,
we shall now add the most material circumstances relative to its
economy and usages.

The mode of announcing its exhibitions, if we except the medium of
newspapers, a resource of subsequent times, seems to have been not less
effectual and extensive than that of the present day. _Play-bills_
were printed, expressing the title of the piece or pieces to be
performed, but containing neither the names of the characters, nor of
the actors; these were industriously circulated through the town, and
affixed to posts and public buildings, a custom which forms the subject
of a repartee recorded by Taylor the water-poet, who began to write
towards the close of Shakspeare's life:—"Master Field, the player,"
he relates, "riding up Fleet-street a great pace, a gentleman called
him, and asked him, what play was played that day. He being angry to be
staied on so frivolous a demand, answered, that he might see what play
was plaied _upon every poste_. I cry you mercy, said the gentleman, I
tooke you for a _poste_, you rode so fast."[215:A]

In the early part of the reign of Elizabeth, the _Days of Acting_, at
the public theatres, were chiefly confined to Sundays, Her Majesty's
licence to Burbage in 1574, granting such exhibition on that day, _out
of the hours of prayer_; and this was the day which the Queen herself
usually selected for dramatic representation at court. The rapidly
increasing taste, however, for theatric amusement soon induced the
players to go beyond the limits of permission, and we find Gosson,
in 1579, exclaiming, that the players, "because they are allowed to
play _every Sunday_, make _four_ or _five Sundays_, at least, every
week."[215:B] A reformation more consonant to morality and decorum
took place in the subsequent reign; for, though plays were still
performed on Sundays, at the court of James the First, yet they were
no longer tolerated on that day at the public theatres, permission
being now given, on application to the Master of the Revels, for their
performance every day, save on the Sabbath, during the winter, and with
no further exception than the Wednesdays and Fridays of Lent, which
were at that time called sermon-days.

The _Hours of Acting_, during the whole period of Shakspeare's career,
continued to be early in the afternoon. In 1598, we are informed by an
epigram of Sir John Davies, that _one o'clock_ was the usual time for
the commencement of the play:—

    "Fuscus doth rise at ten, and at eleven
     He goes to Gyls, where he doth eat till _one_,
     Then sees _a play_."

and, in 1609, when Decker published his Gull's Horn-book, the hour
was thrown back to three, nor did it become later until towards the
close of the seventeenth century. The time visually consumed in the
exhibition appears, from the prologue to _Henry the Eighth_, to have
been only two hours:—

      ——————————— "Those that come—
    I'll undertake, may see away their _shilling_
    Richly in _two short hours_."[216:A]

The mention of payment in this passage, leads to the consideration of
the _Prices of Admission_, and the sum here specified, contemporary
authority informs us, was demanded for entrance into the best rooms
or boxes.[216:B] Sixpence also, and sometimes a shilling, was paid
for seats or stools on the stage. Sixpence was likewise the price of
admission to the pit and galleries of the Globe and Blackfriars; but
at inferior houses, a penny, or at most two-pence, gave access to the
"groundling," or the "gallery-commoner." Dramatic poets, as in the
present day, were admitted gratis. We may also add, that, from some
verses addressed to the memory of Ben Jonson, by Jasper Mayne, and
alluding to his Volpone or the Fox, acted in 1605, it is allowable to
infer, that the prices of admission were, on the first representation
of a new play, doubled, and even sometimes trebled.[217:A]

There is every reason to suppose, that while Shakspeare wrote for the
stage, the _Number of Plays performed in One Day_, seldom, if ever,
exceeded _one_ tragedy, comedy, or history, and that the entertainment
was varied and protracted, either by the extempore humour and tricks
of the _Clown_ after the play was over, or by singing, dancing, or
ludicrous recitation, between the acts.

The house appears to have been pretty well supplied with _Lights_; the
stage being illuminated by two large branches; the body of the house
by cresset lights, formed of ropes wreathed and pitched, and placed
in open iron lanterns, and these were occasionally assisted by the
interspersion of wax tapers among the boxes.

The _Amusements of the Audience before the Play commenced_ seem to have
been amply supplied by themselves, the only recreation provided by the
theatre, during this tedious interval, being the _music_ of the band,
which struck up thrice, playing three flourishes, or, as they were then
called, _three soundings_, before the performance began; but these
were of course short, being principally intended as announcements,
similar to those which we now receive from the prompter's bell. To kill
time, therefore, reading and playing cards were the resources of the
genteeler part of the audience: "Before the play begins," says Decker
to his gallant, "fall to cards; you may win or lose, as fencers do in
a prize, and beat one another by confederacy, yet share the money when
you meet at supper: notwithstanding, to gull the ragamuffins that stand
aloof gaping at you, throw the cards, having first torn four or five of
them, round about the stage, just upon the _third sound_, as though you
had lost."[217:B]

Of the less refined amusements of these _gaping ragamuffins_,
"the youths that thunder at a play-house, and fight for bitter
apples[218:A]," we find numerous traces in Decker, Jonson, and their
contemporaries, which enable us to assert, that they chiefly consisted
in _smoking tobacco_, _drinking ale_, _cracking nuts_, and _eating
fruit_, which were regularly supplied by men attending in the theatre,
and whose vociferation and clamour, or, as a writer of that time
expresses it, "to be made _adder-deaf_ with _pippin-cry_[218:B],"
were justly considered as grievous nuisances; more especially the use
of tobacco, which must have been intolerable to those unaccustomed
to its odour, and, indeed, occasionally drew forth the execration of
individuals: thus in a work entitled, "_Dyets Dry Dinner_," we find
the author commencing an epigram on the wanton and excessive use of
tobacco, in the following terms:—

    "It chaunc'd me gazing at the _Theater_,
     To spie a Dock-Tabacco-Chevalier,
     _Clouding the loathing ayr with foggie fume
     Of Dock-Tabacco;— — — —
     I wisht the Roman lawes severity:
     Who smoke selleth, with smoke be done to dy_."[218:C]

The most rational of the amusements which occupied the impatient
audience, was certainly that of _reading_, and this appears to have
been supplied by a custom of hawking about new publications at the
theatre; at least this may be inferred from the opening of an
address to the public, prefixed by William Fennor, to a production
of his, entitled "Descriptions," and published in 1616. "To the
Gentlemen readers, worthy gentlemen, of what degree soever, I suppose
this pamphlet will hap into your hands, _before a play begin, with
the importunate clamour of BUY A NEW BOOKE, by some needy
companion, that will be glad to furnish you with worke for a turn'd

As soon as the third sounding had finished, it was usual for the
person whose province it was to speak the _Prologue_, immediately to
enter. As a diffident and supplicatory manner were thought essential
to this character, who is termed by Decker, "the _quaking_ Prologue,"
it was the custom to clothe him in a _long black velvet cloak_, to
which Shirley adds, a _little beard_, a _starch'd face_, and a _supple

On withdrawing the curtain, the stage was generally found strewed with
_rushes_, which, in Shakspeare's time, as hath been remarked in our
first volume, formed the common covering of floors, from the palace to
the cottage[219:C]; but, on very splendid occasions, it was _matted_
entirely over; thus, Sir Henry Wotton, in a letter which describes the
conflagration of the Globe Theatre, in 1613, says, that on the night of
the accident, "the King's Players had a new play, called _All is true_,
representing some principal pieces of the reign of Henry the Eighth,
which was set forth with many extraordinary circumstances of pomp and
majesty, _even to the matting of the stage_."[219:D]

The performance of _tragedy_ appears to have been attended with some
peculiar preparations; one of which was _hanging the stage with black_,
a practice which dwelt on Shakspeare's recollection when, in writing
his Rape of Lucrece, he speaks of

    "_Black stage_ for _tragedies_, and murthers fell;"[220:A]

and is put out of dispute by a passage in the Induction to an anonymous
tragedy, entitled, _A Warning for fair Women_, 1599, where _History_,
addressing _Comedy_, says:—

    "Look, _Comedie_, I mark'd it not till now,
     _The stage is hung with blacke_, and I perceive
     The auditors prepar'd for _tragedie_:"

to which _Comedy_ replies:—

    "Nay then, I see she shall be entertain'd;
     These _ornaments_ beseem not thee and me."[220:B]

If the decorations of the stage itself could boast but little
splendour, the _wardrobe_, even of The Globe and Blackfriars, could not
be supposed either richly or amply furnished; in fact, even Jonson, in
1625, nine years after Shakspeare's death, betrays the poverty of the
_stage-dresses_, when he exclaims in the _Induction_ to his _Staple of
News_, "O curiosity, you come to see who wears the new suit to-day;
whose clothes are best pen'd, &c.—what king plays _without cuffs_,
and his queen _without gloves_: who rides post in _stockings_, and
dances in _boots_."[220:C] It is evident, therefore, that the dramas
of our great poet could derive little attraction from magnificence of
attire, though it appears, from a passage in Jonson, that not only
was there a prompter, or _book-holder_, but likewise a property, or
_tire-man_, belonging to each theatre, in 1601.[221:A] _Periwigs_,
which came into fashion about 1596, were often worn on the stage by
male characters, whence Hamlet is represented calling a ranting player,
"a robustious _periwig_-pated fellow[221:B];" _masks_ or _vizards_ were
also sometimes used by those who personated female characters; thus
Quince tells Flute, in the Midsummer Night's Dream, on his objecting to
perform a woman's part, that he "shall play it in a _mask_."[221:C]

_Female characters_ indeed, were on the old English stage, as they had
been on the Grecian and Roman, _always personated by men or boys_,
a practice which continued with us until near the period of the
Restoration. Italy and France long preceded us in the introduction of
women on the theatric boards; for Coryate writing from Venice in 1608,
and describing one of the theatres of that city, says, "the house is
very beggarly and base, in comparison of our stately play-houses in
England;" and he then adds, what must give us a wretched idea of the
state of the stage at that time in Italy, "neither can their actors
compare with us for apparell, shewes, and musicke. Here," he continues,
"I observed certaine things that I never saw before; for _I saw women
act, a thing that I never saw before_."[221:D]

The mode of expressing dislike of, or censuring a play, was as decided
in the days of Shakspeare as in the present age, and sometimes
effected by the same means. Decker gives us two methods of expressing
disapprobation; one, by leaving the house with as many in your train
as you can collect, the other, by staying, in order to interrupt the
performance: "you shall disgrace him (the poet) worse," he observes,
"than by tossing him in a blanket, or giving him the bastinado in a
tavern, if, in the middle of his play, be it pastoral or comedy, moral
or tragedy, you rise with a screwed and discontented face from your
stool to be gone;"—and "salute all your gentle acquaintance, that are
spread either on the rushes, or on stools about you; and draw what
troop you can from the stage after you:" but, "if either the company,
or indisposition of the weather bind you to sit it out;—_mew_ at
passionate speeches; _blare_ at merry; find fault with the musick;
_whew_ at the children's action; _whistle_ at the songs[222:A];" modes
of annoyance sufficiently provoking, and occasionally very effectual
toward the final condemnation of a play, as Ben Jonson experienced in
more instances than one.[222:B]

It was usual also for the critics and coxcombs of the day, either
from motives of curiosity, vanity, or malevolence, to carry to the
theatre _table-books_, made of small plates of slate bound together in
duodecimo, and to take down passages from the play, for the purpose
either of retailing them in taverns and parties, or with the view
of ridiculing and degrading the author; "to such, wherever they sit
concealed," says the indignant Jonson in 1601, "let them know, the
author defies them and their _writing-tables_."[222:C]

An _Epilogue_, sometimes spoken by one of the _Dramatis Personæ_, and
sometimes by an extra character, was not uncommon at this period; and,
when employed, generally terminated, if in a public theatre, with _a
prayer_ for the king or queen; if, in a private one, for the lord of
the mansion. The prayer, however, was, almost always, a necessary form,
whether an epilogue were adopted or not; and, on these occasions,
whatever may have been the nature of the preceding drama, the players,
kneeling down, solemnly addressed themselves to their devotions: thus
Shakspeare concludes his Epilogue to the Second Part of _King Henry the
Fourth_, by telling his audience, "I will bid you good night: and so
_kneel down_ before you;—but, indeed, _to pray for the queen_[223:A];"
and Sir John Harrington closes his _Metamorphosis of Ajax_, 1596, with
the following sarcastic mention of this custom as retained in _private_
theatres:—"But I will neither end with sermon nor prayer, lest some
wags liken me to my L. (——) players, who when they have ended a
baudie comedy, as though that were a preparative to devotion, kneele
down solemnly, and pray all the companie to pray with them for their
good lord and maister." Considering the place chosen for its display,
this is, certainly, a custom

    "More honour'd in the breach, than the observance."

With regard to the _Remuneration of Actors_, during the age of
Shakspeare, it has been ascertained, that, after deducting forty-five
shillings, which were the usual nightly, or rather daily, expenses
at the Globe and Blackfriars, the _net_ receipt never amounted to
more than twenty pounds, and that the _average_ receipt, after making
a similar deduction, may be estimated at about _nine pounds_. This
sum Mr. Malone supposes to have been in our poet's time "divided
into forty shares, of which fifteen were appropriated to the house
keepers or proprietors, three to the purchase of copies of new
plays, stage-habits, &c. and twenty-two to the actors." He further
calculates, that, as the acting season lasted forty weeks, and each
company consisted of about twenty persons, six of whom probably were
principal, and the others subordinate performers, if we suppose _two
shares_ to have been the reward of a principal actor; _one share_ that
of a second class composed of six, and _half a share_ the portion of
the remaining eight, the performer who had _two shares_, would, on the
calculation of nine pounds _clear_ per night, receive nine shillings
as his nightly dividend, and, at the rate of five plays a week, his
weekly profit would amount to two pounds five shillings. "On all these
_data_," adds Mr. Malone, "I think it may be safely concluded, that
the performers of the first class did not derive from their profession
more than ninety pounds a year at the utmost. Shakspeare, Heminge,
Condell, Burbadge, Lowin, and Taylor had without doubt other shares as
proprietors or leaseholders; but what the different proportions were
which each of them possessed in that right, it is now impossible to
ascertain."[224:A] If we consider, however, the value of money during
the reign of Elizabeth, and the relative prices of the necessary
articles of life, it will be found that these salaries were not
inadequate to the purposes of comfortable subsistence.

The profits accruing to the original source of the entertainment, or,
in other words, the _Remuneration given to the Dramatic Poet_, was
certainly, if we compare the claims of genius between the two parties,
on a scale inferior to that which fell to the lot of the actor.

The author had the choice of two modes in the disposal of his property;
he either sold the copy-right of his play to the theatre, or retained
it in his own hands. In the former instance, which was frequently had
recourse to in the age of Shakspeare, the only emolument was that
derived from the purchase made by the proprietors of the theatre,
who took care to secure the performance of the piece exclusively to
their own company, and whose interest it was to defer its publication
as long as possible; in the latter instance, not only had the poet
the right of publication and the benefit of sale in his own option,
but he had, likewise, a claim upon the theatre for a benefit. This,
towards the termination of the sixteenth century, took place on the
_second_ day[224:B], but was soon afterwards, as early indeed as 1612,
postponed to the _third_ day.[225:A]

From a publication of Robert Greene's, dated 1592, it appears, that the
price of a drama, when disposed of to the _public players_, was twenty
nobles, or six pounds thirteen shillings and four pence; but that
_private companies_ would sometimes give double that[225:B] sum. It has
been recorded, indeed, by Oldys, in one of his manuscripts, but upon
what authority is not mentioned, that Shakspeare received but _five
pounds_ for his _Hamlet_![225:C]

What a _bookseller_ gave for the _copyright_ of a play at this period
is unknown; but we have sufficient foundation, that of the bookseller's
Preface to the quarto edition of our poet's _Troilus and Cressida_
in 1609, for asserting, that _sixpence_ was the sale price of a play
when published.[225:D] It may also be affirmed, on grounds of equal
security, that _forty shillings_ formed the customary compliment for
the flattery of a dedication.[225:E]

To these notices concerning the pecuniary rewards of poets and
performers, may be added the conjecture of Mr. Malone, that Shakspeare,
"as author, actor, and proprietor, probably received from the theatre
about two hundred pounds a year."[225:F]

From this description of the architecture, economy, and usages of
the Shakspearean Stage, it must be evident, how trifling were the
obligations of our great poet to the adventitious aid of scenery,
machinery, and decoration, notwithstanding we have admitted these
to be somewhat more elaborate than is usually allowed. The Art of
Acting, however, had, during the same period, made very rapid strides
towards perfection, and dramatic action and expression, therefore,
coadjutors of infinitely more importance than the most splendid
scenical apparatus, exhibited, we have reason to believe, powers in a
great degree competent to the task of doing justice to the imperishable
productions of this unrivalled bard of pity and of terror.


[168:A] Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, fol., 8th edit., p. 171. col. i.

[168:B] "The Pleasant and Stately Morall of the Three Lordes and Three
Ladies of London," &c., London. Printed by Jhones, at the Rose and
Crowne, neere Holburne Bridge, 1590. Vide Strutt's Sports and Pastimes,
Introduct., p. xxviii.; and Beloe's Anecdotes of Literature, vol. i. p.
350, 351.

[168:C] Anatomy of Melancholy, p. 172. col. i.

[169:A] "Schoole of Abuse," "Anatomie of Abuses," and "Treatise against
Diceing, Card-playing," &c.

[169:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 170. Act v. sc. 1.

[169:C] Ibid. vol. v. p. 186, 187. Act iv. sc. 5.

[170:A] Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, 4to. 1810, p. 291, 292.

[170:B] Ancient British Drama, vol. i. p. 111. col. 1.

[170:C] Belman of London, sig. F 2.

[170:D] Midsummer Night's Dream, act iii. sc. 1. Reed's Shakspeare,
vol. iv. p. 401. Romeo and Juliet, act iv. sc. 5. Reed's Shakspeare
vol. xx. p. 221.

[170:E] Ancient British Drama, vol. ii. p. 551. col. 1.

[170:F] In the Compleat Gamester, 2nd edit. 1676, p. 90., may be found
the mode of playing this game.

[170:G] The first of these games is mentioned in _Eastward Hoe_,
printed in 1605, and written by Ben Jonson, George Chapman, and John
Marston; the second in the _Dumb Knight_, the production of Lewis
Machin, 1608; the third in _A Woman killed with Kindness_, written by
Thomas Heywood, 1617, where are also noticed _Lodam_, _Noddy_, _Post
and Pair_, a species of Brag, _Knave out of Doors_, and _Ruff_, this
last being something like Whist, and played in four different ways,
under the names of _English Ruff_, _French Ruff_, _Double Ruff_, and
_Wide Ruff_.—Vide Ancient British Drama, vol. ii. p. 444, 445.

[171:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 335. note.

[171:B] Works of Ben Jonson; act v. sc. 4.

[171:C] Anatomy of Melancholy, p. 172. col. 2.

[171:D] Sports and Pastimes, 4to. p. 277.

[171:E] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vii. p. 183. Act v. sc. 2.

[171:F] Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 243.

[171:G] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. pp. 227, 228. Winter's Tale, act i.
sc. 2.

[171:H] Ibid. vol. xviii. p. 240. Hamlet, act iii. sc. 4.

[172:A] Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, p. 272.

[173:A] Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 217.

[173:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vii. p. 52. Act iii. sc. 1.

[173:C] Part II. p. 129

[173:D] Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. i. pp. 219, 220.

[174:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 406.

[174:B] Ibid. vol. v. p. 407. note.

[175:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vi. pp. 38, 39.

[175:B] Ibid. vol. viii. p. 260, 261.

[175:C] Ibid. vol. vii. p. 52.

[175:D] Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 221.

[176:A] Chalmers's Apology, p. 380.

[176:B] Warton's Life of Sir Tho. Pope, sect. iii. p. 85.

[177:A] Nichols's Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, vol. i. p. 249.

[177:B] Hentzner's Travels, pp. 29, 30.

[177:C] P. 147.

[178:A] Lambarde's Perambulation of Kent, 1570, p. 248.

[178:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. pp. 33, 34. M. W. of Windsor, act i.
sc. 1.

[179:A] "The Auncient Order, Societie, and Vnitie Laudable, of Prince
Arthure, and his knightly Armoury of the Round Table. With a Threefold
Assertion frendly in favour and furtherance of English Archery at
this day. Translated and Collected by R. R." (Richard Robinson) 4to.
1583.—Vide British Bibliographer, vol. i. p. 125. 127.

[179:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 144.

[180:A] Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, p. 62., from Strype's London,
vol. i. p. 250.—In 1682, appeared "A remembrance of the worthy
show and shooting by the Duke of Shoreditch and his associates the
worshipful citizens of London, upon Tuesday the 17th of September 1583,
set forth according to the truth thereof, to the everlasting honour of
the game of shooting in the long bow. B. W. M."

[181:A] Vide British Bibliographer, vol. i. pp. 448. 450.

[181:B] Ascham's Works apud Bennet, 4to. p. 55.

[181:C] The Boke named the Governour; the edition of 1553. p. 83.

[182:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vii. p. 71. Act iv. sc. 1.

[182:B] Lodge's Illustrations of British History, vol. iii. p. 295.

[182:C] Stowe's Survey of London, 4to. 1618. p. 162.

[183:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 29. Henry IV. Part ii. act i.
sc. 2.

[183:B] The Gull's Horn-book, 4to. 1609. Reprint of 1812, p. 99.

[183:C] Ibid. pp. 101, 102.

[184:A] Gull's Horn-book, pp. 95, 96.

[184:B] Ibid. pp. 97, 98.

[185:A] Gull's Horn-book, p. 97.

[185:B] They are thus called, from wearing _white surplices_.

[185:C] Gull's Horn-book, pp. 99, 100.

[186:A] Gull's Horn-book, pp. 104, 105.

[186:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vii. p. 26. Act i. sc. 2.

[186:C] History of the World, First Part, p. 178.

[186:D] Vide Douce's Illustrations, vol. i. pp. 213, 214.

[186:E] Ben Jonson's Works, fol. edit. 1640. Epigrammes, p. 46.

[187:A] Chalmers's English Poets, vol. v. p. 274. col. 2. Satires, book
iv. sat. 2.

[187:B] Works of Ben Jonson; act v. sc. 4.

[188:A] The Workes of Benjamin Jonson, folio. 1640. Masques, p.
143.—Of the costly magnificence of this spectacle, an idea may be
formed from that part which relates to the attire of the actors: "that
of the Lords," describes the poet, "had part of it taken from the
_antique Greek_ statue; mixed with some _moderne_ additions: which made
it both gracefull, and strange. On their heads they wore _Persick_
crowns that were with scroles of _gold-plate_ turned outward, and
wreathed about with a _carnation_ and _silver_ net-lawne; the one end
of which hung carelessly on the left shoulder; the other was tricked up
before, in severall degrees of folds, between the plates, and set with
_rich jewels_, and _great pearles_. Their bodies were of _carnation_
cloth of _silver_, richly wrought, and cut to expresse the _naked_, in
manner of the _Greek Thorax_; girt under the brests with a _broad belt
of cloth of gold imbroydered, and fastened before with jewels_: Their
Labels were of _white cloth of silver, laced, and wrought curiously
between_, sutable to the upper halfe of their sleeves; whose nether
parts with their bases, were of _watchet cloth of silver, chev'rond
all over with lace_. Their Mantils were of _severall colour'd silkes_,
distinguishing their qualities as they were coupled in paires; the
first, _skie colour_; the second, _pearle colour_; the third, _flame
colour_; the fourth, _tawny_: and these cut in leaves, which were
subtilly tack'd up, and _imbroydered_ with Oo's, and between every
ranck of leaves, a _broad silver lace_. They were fastened on the right
shoulder, and fell compasse down the back in gracious folds, and were
again tyed with a round knot, to the fastening of their swords. Upon
their legs they wore _silver greaves_." P. 143.

[189:A] Nichols's Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, vol. i. Preface, p. 10.

[190:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 137. note by Malone, from
Stowe's Annals.

[190:B] Origines Juridiciales, folio, p. 346, edit. 1671.

[190:C] Stowe's Annales, by Howes, folio, p. 1006. edit. 1631.

[191:A] History of English Poetry, vol. ii. p. 365. note.

[192:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xvii. pp. 235, 236. Act iv. sc. 12.

[192:B] The Workes of Benjamin Jonson, fol. 164. Masques, p. 135.

[193:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. pp. 135-137. Act iv. sc. 1.

[194:A] Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, vol. i. Preface, p. 19.

[194:B] Ibid. p. 24.

[196:A] This enumeration is abridged from Laneham's Letter, and the
"Princely Pleasures at Kenelworth Castle," reprinted in Nichols's
Progresses, vol. i.

[197:A] Hurd's Moral and Political Dialogues, vol. i. p. 160. edit. of

[197:B] Ibid. vol. i. p. 150.

[199:A] Nichols's Progresses, vol. i. Laneham's Letter, p. 81-84.

[200:A] Hurd's Moral and Political Dialogues, vol. i. pp. 148-150.

[201:A] Chalmers's Apology, p. 353.

[202:A] See Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 48.

[204:A] Anatomie of Abuses, edit. 1583, p. 90.

[204:B] See Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 363. note.

[205:A] Apology, p. 393.

[208:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. pp. 51, 52.

[208:B] See Malone's Inquiry, p. 87.; Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p.
64.; and Chalmers's Apology, p. 115.

[209:A] Of the perishable materials, and inconvenient construction of
the old theatre, we have some remarkable proofs, in two letters extant,
describing the accident. The first written by Sir Henry Wotton, and
dated July 2. 1613, concludes by asserting that "nothing did perish but
_wood_ and _straw_, and a few forsaken cloaks;" and the second from Mr.
John Chamberlaine to Sir Ralph Winwood, dated July 8. 1613, remarks,
that "it was a great marvaile and fair grace of God that the people had
so little harm, having but _two narrow doors_ to get out."—Reliquiæ
Wotton, p. 425. edit. 1685; and Winwood's Memorials, vol. iii. p. 469.

[210:A] See Warton's History of English Poetry, vol. ii. p. 394. note.

[211:A] Gull's Horn-book, Nott's reprint, p. 132.

[211:B] Ibid. p. 135.

[212:A] Gull's Horn-book, p. 138.

[212:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. pp. 106-108.

[212:C] Ibid. p. 109. note.

[213:A] Apology for Actors, 1612. sig. D.

[214:A] Whiter's Specimen of a Commentary on Shakspeare, pp. 157, 158.

[214:B] Ibid. pp. 178. 183.; and see Prologue to _All Fools_, by
Chapman, 1605, in Old Plays, vol. iv. p. 116.

[214:C] Whiter's Specimen, p. 184.

[215:A] Taylor's Works, p. 183.—Mr. Malone is of opinion that to these
play-bills we owe "the long and whimsical titles which are prefixed
to the quarto copies of our author's plays.—It is indeed absurd to
suppose, that the modest Shakspeare, who has more than once apologized
for his _untutored lines_, should in his manuscripts have entitled any
of his dramas _most excellent and pleasant_ performances." Thus:—

    "The _most excellent_ Historie of the Merchant of Venice, 1600."

    "A _most pleasant and excellent conceited_ Comedie of Syr John
    Falstaffe and the Merry Wives of Windsor, 1602."

    "The late and _much-admired_ Play, called Pericles Prince of
    Tyre, 1609," &c. &c.
              Vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. pp. 163-165.

[215:B] Schoole of Abuse.—Vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 154.

[216:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xv. p. 4.

[216:B] Decker's Gull's Horn-book, reprint, p. 18. note.

[217:A] Vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 175. note.

[217:B] Gull's Horn-book, reprint, p. 146.

[218:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xv. p. 205. Henry VIII. act v. sc. 3.

[218:B] Notes from Black-fryers, by H. Fitz-Jeoffery, 1617.

[218:C] "Dyets Dry Dinner: consisting of eight several courses. 1.
Fruites. 2. Hearbes. 3. Flesh. 4. Fish. 5. Whitmeats. 6. Spice. 7.
Sauce. 8. Tabacco. All served in after the order of time universall. By
Henry Buttes, Maister of Artes, and Fellowe of C. C. C. in C.

        Qui miscuit utile dulci.
    Non nobis solum nati sumus, sed
    Ortus nostri sibi vendicant.

Printed in London by Tho. Creede, for William Wood, and are to be sold
at the West end of Powles, at the signe of Tyme, 1599." Small 8vo.

[219:A] "Fennors Descriptions, or a true relation of certaine and
divers speeches, spoken before the King and Queene's most excellent
Majestie, the Prince his highnesse, and the Lady Elizabeth's Grace.
By William Fennor, his Majestie's Servant. London, Printed by Edward
Griffin, for George Gibbs, and are to bee sold at his shop in Paul's
Church-yard, at the signe of the Flower-De-luce, 1616." 4to.

[219:B] Vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 120. note.

[219:C] Vide Decker's Gull's Horn-book, reprint, p. 135.

[219:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 68. note.

[220:A] Malone's Supplement, vol. i. p. 517.—"The hanging however
was," remarks the editor, "I suppose, no more than one piece of black
baize placed at the back of the stage, in the room of the tapestry
which was the common decoration when comedies were acted."

[220:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 111. note.

[220:C] Whalley's Works of Ben Jonson; Prologue in Induction.

[221:A] Whalley's Jonson; Cynthia's Revels, Induction.

[221:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 181. Act iii. sc. 2.

[221:C] Ibid. vol. iv. p. 338. Act i. sc. 2.

[221:D] Coryate's Crudities, 4to. 1611, p. 247.

[222:A] Gull's Horn-book, reprint, pp. 147-149.

[222:B] Sejanus, Catiline, and The New Inn, were all condemned.

[222:C] "There is reason to believe," remarks Mr. Malone, "that the
imperfect and mutilated copies of one or two of Shakspeare's dramas,
which are yet extant, were taken down by the ear, or in short-hand,
during the exhibition."—Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 151.

[223:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 263.

[224:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 190.

[224:B] In Davenant's _Play-house to be Let_, occurs the following

                    "There is an old tradition,
    That in the times of mighty _Tamberlane_,
    Of conjuring _Faustus_ and the _Beauchamps bold_,
    You poets used to have the _second_ day."

[225:A] On the authority of Decker's Prologue to one of his comedies
entitled, _If this be not a good Play the Devil's in't_, 1612:—

    ———————— "Not caring, so he gains
    A cram'd _third day_."

[225:B] "Master R. G., would it not make you blush—if you sold
_Orlando Furioso_ to the queenes players for _twenty nobles_, and when
they were in the country, sold the same play to Lord Admirals men, for
_as much more_?"—Defence of Coney-catching, 1592.

[225:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 172.

[225:D] "Had I time I would comment upon it, though I know it needs
not, (for so much as will make you thinke your _testerne_ well bestowd)
but for so much worth, as even poore I know to be stuft in it."—Reed's
Shakspeare, vol. xv. p. 226.

[225:E] "I did determine not to have _dedicated_ my play to any body,
because _forty shillings_ I care not for; and above, few or none will
bestow on these matters."—Dedication to _A Woman's a Weathercock_, a
comedy by N. Field, 1612.

[225:F] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 191.



It is remarkable that the era of the birth of Shakspeare should occur
in almost _intermediate contact_ with those periods which mark the
first appearance of what may be termed _legitimate_ tragedy and comedy.
In 1561-2, was exhibited the tragedy of _Ferrex and Porrex_, written
by Thomas Norton, and Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst, "the first
specimen," observes Mr. Warton, "in our language of an heroick tale
written in verse, and divided into acts and scenes, and cloathed in all
the formalities of a _regular tragedy_[227:A];" in 1564, as is well
known, the leading object of our work, the great poet of nature, was
born; and, in 1566, was acted at Christ's College, Cambridge, under
the quaint title of _Gammer Gurton's Needle_, the first play, remarks
Wright, "that looks like a _regular comedy_."[227:B]

Previous to the exhibition of these pieces, the public had been
contented with _Mysteries_, _Moralities_, and _Interludes_; the
first of these, exclusively occupied by miracles and scriptural
narratives, originated with the ecclesiastics so far back as the
eleventh century[227:C]; the second, consisting chiefly of allegorical
personification, seems to have arisen about the middle of the fifteenth
century[227:D]; and the third, a species of farce, or, as Jonson
defines them, _something played at the intervals of festivity_, became
prevalent during the reign of Henry the Eighth.

The examples, however, which were now furnished by Sackville and
Still, in the production of _Gorboduc_[228:A], and _Gammer Gurton_,
were not lost upon their age; and to the ideas of legitimate fable
emanating from these sources, are also to be added those derived
from the now frequent custom of acting plays in the schools and
universities, in imitation of the dramas of Plautus and Terence. To
these co-operating causes may be ascribed the numerous tragedies and
plays which appeared between the years 1566 and 1590, principally
written by men who had been educated at the universities, and who, in
the serious drama, endeavoured to support the stately and declamatory
style of Gorboduc.

It is to this period, also, that we must refer for the epoch of the
historical drama, or, what were called, in the language of their times,
_Histories_, a gradual improvement, it is true, on the allegorical
_Dramatis Personæ_ of the moralities, but which, in the interval
elapsing between 1570 and 1590, received a consistency and form, a
materiality and organisation, which only required the animating fire of
Shakspeare's muse to kindle into life and immortality.

For the prevalence and popularity of this species of play, anterior
to the productions of our poet, we are probably indebted to the
publication of _The Mirrour for Magistrates_, a poetical miscellany,
of which four editions were printed between 1564 and 1590, and where
the most remarkable personages in English history are brought forward
relating the story of their own disasters.

Another and very popular species of dramatic composition, at this
era, may be satisfactorily deduced from the strong attachment still
existing for the ancient _moralities_, in which the most solemn and
serious subjects were often blended with the lowest scenes of farce and
broad humour; for though the taste of the educated part of the public
was chastened and improved by the classical tragedy of Sackville,
and by the translations also of Gascoigne, who, in 1566, presented
his countrymen with _Jocasta_ from Euripides, and _The Supposes_, a
regular comedy, from Ariosto, yet the lower orders still lingered
for the mingled buffoonery of their old stage, and _tragi-comedy_
became necessary to catch their applause. This apparently heterogenous
compound was long the most fascinating entertainment of the scenical
world; nor were even the wildest features of the allegorical drama
unrepresented; for the _interlude_ and, subsequently, the _masque_,
were frequently lavish in the creation of personages equally as
extravagant and grotesque as any which the fifteenth century had dared
to produce.

To this enumeration of the various kinds of dramatic poetry which
preceded the efforts of Shakspeare, one more, of a very singular
nature, must be added, the production of Richard Tarleton, the
celebrated jester and comedian, who, previous to 1589, or during the
course of that year, exhibited a play in two parts, called "The Seven
Deadlie Sins."[229:A] The piece itself has perished, but the Platt, or
groundwork, of the Second Part, having been preserved, we find that
the preceding portion had been occupied in exemplifying the sins of
_Pride_, _Gluttony_, _Wrath_, and _Avarice_, while _Envy_, _Sloth_, and
_Lechery_, were reserved for its successor. The plan which Tarleton
pursued, in illustrating the effects of these sins, was by selecting
scenes and passages from the plays of various authors, and combining
them into a whole by the connecting medium of chorusses, interlocutors,
and pantomimic show. Thus the Second Part is composed from three
plays, namely, Sackville's _Gorboduc_, and two, now lost, entitled
_Sardanapalus_ and _Tereus_, while the moralisation and connection are
introduced and supported by alternate monologues in the persons of
Henry the Sixth, and Lidgate, the monk of Bury. This curious specimen
of scenic exhibition may not unaptly receive the appellation of the
_Composite Drama_.

After this short _general_ sketch of the progress of dramatic
poetry from 1564 to 1591, it will be necessary to descend to
some _particular_ criticism on the chief productions which graced
the stage during this interval; an attempt which we shall conduct
chronologically, under the names of their respective authors.

1. SACKVILLE, THOMAS. Though the tragedy of Sackville was exhibited
before Queen Elizabeth at Whitehall, on the 18th of January, 1561-2,
it did not reach the press until 1565, when a spurious edition was
published under the title of _The Tragedie of Gorboduc_. This piracy
brought forth a legitimate copy in 1571, from the press of John Daye,
which was now called _The Tragedie of Ferrex and Porrex_; but the
nomenclature was again altered in a third edition, printed for Edward
Alde, in 1590, reassuming its first and more popular denomination of
_The Tragedie of Gorboduc_.

The first and third editions inform us in their title-pages, that
"three acts were written by Thomas Norton, and the two last by Thomas
Sackville," a co-partnership which, but for this intimation, would not
have been suspected, for the whole has the appearance, both in matter
and style, of having issued from one and the same pen.

If the mechanism of this play, which Warton justly calls the "first
genuine English Tragedy[230:A]," approximate in the minor parts of its
construction to a classical type, being regularly divided into acts and
scenes, with a chorus of British sages closing every act save the last,
yet does it evince, in many other respects, the infancy of dramatic art
in this country. Every act is preceded by an elaborate _Dumb Show_,
allegorically depicting the business of the immediately succeeding
scenes, a resource, the crude nature of which sufficiently points out
the stage of poetry that gave it birth. Nor is the conduct of the fable
less inconsistent with the exterior formalities of the piece, the
unities of time and place being openly violated, and the chronological
detail of history, or rather of the fabulous annals of the age,
closely followed. The plot, too, is sterile and uninteresting, and the
passions are touched with a feeble and ineffective hand.

The great merit, indeed, of Gorboduc, is in its style and
versification, in its moral and political wisdom, qualities which
recommended it to the notice and encomium of Sir Philip Sidney, who
tells us, that "Gorboduc is full of stately speeches, and well sounding
phrases, climbing to the heighth of Seneca his style, and as full
of notable morality, which it doth most delightfully teach."[231:A]
Declamation and morality, however, are not the essentials of tragedy;
the first, indeed, is a positive fault, and the second should only be
the result of the struggle and collision of the passions. We must,
therefore, limit the beneficial example of Sackville to purity and
perspicuity of diction, to skill in the structure of his numbers, and
to truth and dignity of sentiment. If to these virtues of composition,
though occasionally encumbered by a too unbending rigidity of style,
his contemporaries had paid due attention, we should have escaped that
torrent of tumor and bombast which, shortly afterwards, inundated the
dramatic world, and which continued to disgrace the national taste
during the whole period to which this chapter is confined.

2. EDWARDS, RICHARD. This poet, one of the gentlemen of Queen
Elizabeth's chapel, and master of the children there, was the author
of two plays, under the titles of _Damon and Pithias_, and _Palamon
and Arcite_. The former of these was acted before the Queen, at court,
in 1562, and first published in 1571, by Richard Jones, who terms it
_The excellent comedie of two the moste faithfullest freendes Damon
and Pithias_; it is an early specimen of tragi-comedy, and written in
rhyme, the inferior characters exhibiting a vein of coarse humour,
and the more elevated, some touches of pathos, which the story,
indeed, could scarcely fail to elicit, and some faint attempts at
discrimination of character. The versification is singular, consisting
generally of couplets of twelve syllables, but frequently intermixed
with lines varying upwards from this number, even as far as eighteen.
_Palamon and Arcite_, which was considered as far surpassing his first
drama, had the honour also of being performed before Elizabeth, at
Christ-Church Hall, Oxford, in 1566; it is likewise termed a _comedy_,
and is said to have gratified Her Majesty so highly, that, sending for
the author, after the play was finished, she greatly commended his
talents, thanked him for the entertainment which his muse had afforded
her, and promised to befriend him more substantially hereafter, an
intention, however, which was frustrated by the death of the poet
during the course of that very year.

Edwards appears to have been very popular, and highly estimated as a
writer. Puttenham has classed him with those who "deserve the highest
price for comedy and interlude[232:A]," and Thomas Twine calls him, in
an epitaph on his death,

    —— "the flowre of all our realme,
    And Phœnix of our age,"

assigning him immortality expressly on account of his dramatic

3. STILL, JOHN, a prelate to whom is ascribed, upon pretty good
foundation, the first genuine comedy in our language. He was Master of
Arts of Christ's College, Cambridge, at the period of producing _Gammer
Gurton's Needle_, and subsequently became rector of Hadleigh, in the
county of Suffolk, archdeacon of Sudbury, master of St. John's and
Trinity Colleges, and lastly bishop of Bath and Wells.

_Gammer Gurton's Needle_, which, as we have already remarked, had been
first acted in 1566, was committed to the press in 1575, under the
following title:—"A ryght pithy, pleasant, and merie Comedy, intytuled
Gammer Gurton's Nedle; played on the stage not longe ago in Christes
Colledge, in Cambridge. Made by Mr. S. master of art. Imprented at
London in Fleetestreat, beneth the Conduit, at the signe of S. John
Evangelest, by Thomas Colwell."

The humour of this curious old drama, which is written in rhyme, is
broad, familiar, and grotesque; the characters are sketched with a
strong, though coarse, outline, and are to the last consistently
supported. The language, and many of the incidents, are gross and
indelicate; but these, and numerous allusions to obsolete customs,
mark the manners of the times, when the most learned and polished of
the land, the inmates of an University, could listen with delight to
dialogue often tinctured with the lowest filth and abuse. It must
be confessed, however, that this play, with all its faults, has an
interest which many of its immediate, and more pretending successors,
have failed to attain. It is evidently the production of a man of
talents and observation, and the second act opens with a drinking
song, valuable alike for its humour, and the ease and spirit of its

4. GASCOIGNE, GEORGE. At the very period when Still produced his comedy
in _rhyme_, Gascoigne presented the public with a specimen of the same
species of drama in _prose_. This is a translation from the Italian,
entitled, "_The Supposes_. A comedie written in the Italian tongue by
Ariosto, Englished by George Gascoigne of Graies-inn esquire, and there
presented, 1566."

"The dialogue of this comedy," observes Warton, "is supported with
much ease and spirit, and has often the air of a modern conversation.
As Gascoigne was the _first_ who exhibited on our stage a story from
Euripides, so in this play he is _the first that produced an English
comedy in prose_."[233:A]

The translation from the _Phœnissæ_ of Euripides, or, as Gascoigne
termed it, _Jocasta_, was acted in the refectory of Gray's Inn, in
the same year with the _Supposes_. It was the joint production of our
poet and his friend Francis Kinwelmersh, the first and fourth acts
being written by the latter bard. Jocasta is more a paraphrase than
a translation, and occasionally aspires to the honours of original
composition, new odes being sometimes substituted for those of the
Greek chorus. The dialogue of this play is given in blank verse,
forming one of the earliest specimens of this measure, and, like
Gorboduc, each act is preceded by a dumb show, and closed by a long
ode, in the composition of which, both Gascoigne and his coadjutor have
evinced considerable lyric powers.

Shakspeare seems to have been indebted to the _Supposes_ of Gascoigne
for the name of Petruchio, in the _Taming of the Shrew_, and for the
incident which closes the second scene of the fourth act of that

5. WAGER, LEWIS, the author of an Interlude, called _Mary Magdalen,
Her Life and Repentance_, 1567. 4to. This, like most of the interludes
of the same age, required, as we are told in the title-page, only four
persons for its performance. The subject, which is taken from the
seventh chapter of St. Luke, had been a favourite with the writers of
the ancient Mysteries, of which pieces one, written in 1512, is still
preserved in the Bodleian Library.[234:B]

6. WILMOT, ROBERT, a student of the Inner Temple, the publisher, and
one of the writers of an old tragedy, intitled _Tancred and Gismund_ or
_Gismonde of Salerne_, the composition of not less than five Templers,
and performed before Elizabeth in 1568. Each of these gentlemen, says
Warton, "seems to have taken an act. At the end of the fourth is
_Composuit Chr. Hatton_, or Sir Christopher Hatton, undoubtedly the
same that was afterwards exalted by the Queen to the office of lord
keeper for his agility in dancing."[234:C]

Wilmot, who is mentioned with approbation in Webbe's "Discourse of
English Poetrie[235:A]," corrected and improved, many years after
the first composition, the united labours of himself and his brother
Templers, printing them with the following title: "_The Tragedie of
Tancred and Gismond_. Compiled by the Gentlemen of the Inner Temple,
and by them presented before Her Majestie. Newly revived and polished
according to the decorum of these daies. By R. W. London. Printed by
Thomas Scarlet, and are to be solde by E. C. R. Robinson. 1592."

In a dedication to his fellow-students, the editor incidentally fixes
the era of the first production of his drama: "I am now bold to
present Gismund to your sights, and unto your's only, for therefore
have I conjured her by the love that hath been these _twenty-four
years_ betwixt us, that she wax not so proud of her fresh painting,
to straggle in her plumes abroad, but to contain herself within the
walls of your house; so am I sure she shall be safe from the tragedian
tyrants of our time, who are not ashamed to affirm that there can no
amorous poem favour of any sharpness of wit, unless it be seasoned with
scurrilous words."

From a fragment of this play as _originally_ written, and inserted in
the Censura Literaria, it appears to have been composed in alternate
rhyme, and, we may add, displays both simplicity in its diction, and
pathos in its sentiment. An imperfect copy of Wilmot's revision, and
perhaps the only one in existence, is in the Garrick Collection.[235:B]

7. GARTER, THOMAS. To this person has been ascribed by Coxeter, _The
Commody of the moste vertuous and godlye Susanna_; it was entered on
the Stationers' books in 1568, and probably first performed about that
period; its being in black letter, in metre, and not divided into acts,
are certainly strong indications of its antiquity. It was reprinted in
4to. 1578.

8. PRESTON, THOMAS, was master of arts, and fellow of King's College,
Cambridge, and afterwards doctor of laws, and master of Trinity-Hall.
Taking a part in the performance of John Ritwise's Latin tragedy of
_Dido_, got up for the entertainment of the Queen when she visited
Cambridge in 1564, Her Majesty was so delighted with the grace and
spirit of his acting, that she conferred upon him a pension of
_twenty pounds a year_, being rather more than _a shilling a day_;
a transaction which Mr. Steevens conceives to have been ridiculed
by Shakspeare in his _Midsummer-Night's Dream_, where Flute, on the
absence of Bottom, exclaims, "O sweet bully Bottom! Thus hath he lost
sixpence a-day during his life; he could not have 'scaped sixpence
a-day: an the duke had not given him sixpence a-day for playing
Pyramus, I'll be hanged; he would have deserved it: sixpence a-day, in
Pyramus, or nothing."[236:A]

Nor was this the only sly allusion which Preston experienced from
the pen of Shakspeare. Langbaine, Theobald, and Farmer consider the
following speech of Falstaff as referring to a production of this
writer:—"Give me a cup of sack," says the Knight, "to make mine eyes
look red, that it may be thought I have wept; for I must speak in
passion, and I will do it in king Cambyses' vein."[236:B]

The play satirised under the name of this monarch, is entitled, "A
Lamentable Tragedy, mixed ful of pleasant Mirth, conteyning the Life of
Cambises, King of Percia, from the beginning of his Kingdome, unto his
Death, his one good deed of execution; after that many wicked deeds,
and tirannous murders committed by and through him; and last of all,
his odious Death, by God's justice appointed. Don in such order as
followeth, by Thomas Preston." Imprinted at London, by Edwarde Allde.
4to. B. L.

This curious drama, which was written and published about 1570,
being in the old metre, a species of ballad stanza, the allusion in
Shakspeare must have been rather to the effect, than to the form,
of _King Cambyses' vein_, perhaps referring solely, as Dr. Farmer
observes, to the following marginal direction,—"At this tale tolde,
let the queen weep."[237:A]

From the _Division of the Partes_, as given by Mr. Beloe, this very
scarce tragi-comedy seems to have been partly allegorical, and, from
the specimen produced in the Biographia Dramatica, to have justly
merited the ridicule which it was its fate to excite.[237:B]

9. WAPUL, GEORGE, the author of a play called "_Tide Tarrieth for
No Man_. A most pleasaunte and merry Comedie, ryght pithy and fulle
of delighte." It was entered on the Stationers' books in October,
1576, and reprinted in 1611, 4to. B. L. This drama appears to be
irrecoverably lost, as we can find no trace of it, save the title.

10. LUPTON, THOMAS. Of this writer nothing more is known, than that he
wrote one play, which is to be found in the Collection of Mr. Garrick,
and under the appellation of "_A Moral and Pitieful Comedie, entitled
All for Money_. Plainly representing the Manners of Men and Fashion of
the World nowe adaies. Compiled by T. Lupton. At London, printed by
Roger Warde and Richard Mundee, dwelling at Temple Barre. Anno 1578."
It is written in rhyme, printed in black letter, the pages unnumbered,
and the style very antique and peculiar. The characters are altogether
figurative and allegorical, and form one of the most grotesque examples
of _Dramatis Personæ_ extant. We have _Learning with Money_, _Learning
without Money_, _Money without Learning_, and _Neither Money nor
Learning_; we have also _Mischievous Helpe_, _Pleasure_, _Prest for
Pleasure_, _Sinne_, _Swift to Sinne_, _Damnation_, _Satan_, _Pride_,
and _Gluttonie_; again, _Gregoria Graceless_, _William with the two
Wives_, _St. Laurence_, _Mother Crooke_, _Judas_, _Dives_, and _Godly
Admonition_, &c. &c. Like many other dramatic pieces of the same age,
it is evidently the offspring of the old Moralities, an attachment to
which continued to linger among the lower classes for many subsequent

11. WHETSTONE, GEORGE. To this bard, more remarkable for his
miscellaneous than his dramatic poetry, we are indebted for one
play, viz. "_The right excellent and famous Historye of Promos and
Cassandra_. Devided into two Commicall Discourses." 4to. B. L. 1578.

An extrinsic importance affixing itself to this production, in
consequence of its having furnished Shakspeare with several hints for
his _Measure for Measure_, has occasioned its re-publication.[238:A]
"The curious reader," remarks Mr. Steevens, "will find that this old
play exhibits an almost complete embryo of _Measure for Measure_;
yet the hints on which it is formed are so slight, that it is nearly
as impossible to detect them, as it is to point out in the acorn the
future ramifications of the oak."[238:B]

The fable of _Promos and Cassandra_ furnishes little interest, in the
hands of Whetstone; nor are the diction and versification such as can
claim even the award of mediocrity. It is chiefly written in alternate
rhyme, with no pathos in its serious, and with feeble efforts at humour
in its comic, parts.

12. WOOD, NATHANIEL, a clergyman of the city of Norwich, and only-known
as the producer of "_An Excellent New Comedie_, entitled, _The
Conflict of Conscience_, contayninge a most lamentable example of the
doleful desparation of a miserable worldlinge, termed by the name
of _Philologus_, who forsooke the trueth of God's Gospel for feare
of the losse of lyfe and worldly goods." 4to. 1581. This is another
of the numerous spawn which issued from the ancient Mysteries and
Moralities; the _Dramatis Personæ_, consisting of a strange medley of
personified vices and real characters, are divided into six parts,
"most convenient," says the author, "for such as be disposed either to
shew this Comedie in private houses or otherwise." It is in the Garrick
Collection, and very rare.

13. PEELE, GEORGE, the first of a train of play-wrights, who made
a conspicuous figure just previous to the commencement, and during
the earlier years, of Shakspeare's dramatic career. Educated at the
University of Oxford, where he took his degree of Master of Arts in
1579, Peele shortly afterwards removed to London, and became the city
poet, and a conductor of the pageants. His dramatic talents, like
those which he exhibited in miscellaneous poetry, have been rated too
high; the latter, notwithstanding Nash terms him "the chief supporter
of pleasance, the atlas of poetrie, and _primus verborum artifex_,"
with the exception of two or three pastoral pieces, seldom attain
mediocrity; and the former, though Wood has told us that "his plays
were not only often acted with great applause in his life-time, but
did also endure reading, with due commendation, many years after his
death[239:A]," are now, and perhaps not undeservedly, held in little
estimation. The piece which entitles him to notice in this chapter was
printed in 1584, under the appellation of _The Arraignment of Paris_;
it is a pastoral drama, which was performed before the Queen, by the
children of her chapel, and has had the honour of being attributed,
though without any foundation, to the muse of Shakspeare.[239:B] Peele,
who is supposed to have died about 1597, produced four additional
plays, namely, _Edward the First_, 4to. 1593; _The Old Wive's Tale_,
4to. 1595; _King David and Fair Bethsabe_, published after his death
in 1599, and _The Turkish Mahomet and Hyron the Fair Greek_, which
was never printed, and is now lost. From this unpublished play
Shakspeare has taken a passage which he puts into the mouth of Pistol,
who, in reference to Doll Tearsheet, calls out, _Have we not Hiren
here[239:C]?_ a quotation which is to be detected in several other
plays, _Hiren_ as we find, from one of our author's tracts, named _The
Merie Conceited Jests of George Peele_, being synonymous with the word
courtezan.[240:A] These allusions, however, mark the popularity of the
piece, and his contemporary Robert Greene classes him with Marlowe
and Lodge, "no less deserving," he remarks, "in some things rarer, in
nothing inferior."[240:B] From the specimens, however, which we possess
of his dramatic genius, the opinion of Greene will not readily meet
with a modern assent; the pastoral and descriptive parts of his plays
are the best, which are often clothed in sweet and flowing verse; but,
as dramas, they are nerveless, passionless, and therefore ineffective
in point of character.[240:C]

14. LILLY, JOHN. This once courtly author, whom we have had occasion
to censure for his affected innovation, and stilted elegance in prose
composition, was, says Phillips, "a writer of several old-fashioned
Comedies and Tragedies, which have been printed together in a volume,
and might perhaps when time was, be in very good request."[241:A]

The dramas here alluded to, but of which Phillips has given a defective
and incorrect enumeration, are—

  1. Alexander and Campaspe, 1584, 4to. Tragi-comedy.
  2. Sappho and Phaon, 1584, 4to. Comedy.
  3. Endimion, 1591, 4to. Comedy.
  4. Galatea, 1592, 4to. Comedy.
  5. Mydas, 1592, 4to. Comedy.
  6. Mother Bombie, 1594, 4to. Comedy.
  7. The Woman in the Moon, 1597, 4to. Comedy.
  8. The Maid her Metamorphosis, 1600.
  9. Love his Metamorphosis, 1601. 4to. Pastoral.

The volume mentioned by Phillips was published by Edward Blount in
1632, containing six of these pieces, to which he has affixed the title
of "Sixe Court Comedies."

Notwithstanding the _encomia_ of Mr. Blount, the genius of this
"insufferable Elizabethan coxcomb," as he has been not unaptly called,
was by no means calculated for dramatic effect. Epigrammatic wit,
forced conceits, and pedantic allusion, are such bad substitutes
for character and humour, that we cannot wonder if fatigue or
insipidity should be the result of their employment. _Campaspe_
has little interest, and no unity in its fable, and though termed
a _tragi_-comedy, is written in prose; _Sappho and Phaon_ has some
beautiful passages, but is generally quaint and unnatural; _Endimion_
has scarcely any thing to recommend it, and disgusts by its gross
and fulsome flattery of Elizabeth; _Galatea_ displays some luxuriant
imagery, and _Phillida_ and _Galatea_ are not bad copies from the
_Iphis_ and _Ianthe_ of Ovid; _Mydas_ is partly a political production,
and though void of interest, has more simplicity and purity both of
thought and diction than is usual with this writer; _Mother Bombie_ is
altogether worthless in a dramatic light; _The Woman in the Moon_ is
little better; _The Maid her Metamorphosis_, the greater part of which
is in verse, is one of the author's experiments for the refinement of
our language,—an attempt which, if any where more peculiarly absurd,
must be pronounced to be so on the stage; _Love his Metamorphosis_, of
which the very title-page pronounces its condemnation, being designated
as "A _Wittie_ and _Courtly_ Pastoral."[242:A]

Though only two or three of Lilly's earlier dramas fall within the
period allotted to this chapter, yet, in order to prevent a tiresome
repetition of the subject, we have here enumerated the whole of his
comedies; a plan that we shall pursue with regard to the remaining
poets of this era.

It may be necessary to remark, that we must not estimate the _poetical_
talents of Lilly from his failure as a dramatist; for in the _Lyric_
department he has shown very superior abilities, whether we consider
the freedom and melody of his versification, or the fancy and sentiment
which he displays. His plays abound with songs alike admirable for
their beauty, sweetness, and polish.[242:B]

Lilly, who had received an excellent classical education, and was a
member of both the Universities, died about the year 1600.

15. HUGHES, THOMAS, the author of a singular old play, entitled "_The
Misfortunes of Arthur_ (Uther Pendragon's sonne) reduced into tragical
notes by Thomas Hughes, one of the Societie of Graye's Inne." 12mo.

In conformity with some prior examples, this production has an
argument, a dumb show, and a chorus to each act; "it is beautifully
printed in the black letter," observes the editor of the Biographia
Dramatica, "and has many cancels consisting of single words, half
lines, and entire speeches; these were reprinted and pasted over the
cancelled passages; a practice, I believe, very rarely seen."[243:A]
_Arthur_ was performed before the Queen at Greenwich, on the 28th of
February, and in the thirtieth year of her reign, and exhibits in its
title-page a remarkable proof of the licence which actors at that time
took in curtailing or enlarging the composition of the original author,
informing us that the play "was set downe as it passed from under his
(the poet's) hands, and as it was presented, _excepting certain words
and lines, where some of the actors either helped their memories by
brief omission, or fitted their acting by alteration_." The writer
appears to have been familiar with the Roman classics, but the rarity
of his piece is much greater than its merit.[243:B]

16. KYD, THOMAS, to whom has been ascribed four plays, viz.:
_Jeronimo_; _The Spanish Tragedy_; _Solyman and Perseda_, and
_Cornelia_. Of these the first, which appeared on the stage about the
year 1588, seems to have been given to Kyd, in consequence of his
resuming the name and story in his Spanish tragedy; it is a short piece
not divided into acts and scenes, of little value, and was printed in
1605, under the title of "_The First Part of Jeronimo_. With the Warres
of Portugal, and the Life and Death of Don Andrea." 4to.[243:C]

"_The Spanish Tragedy_, or, Hieronimo is mad again, Containing the
lamentable end of Don Horatio and Belimperia. With the pitifull Death
of Hieronimo," is supposed to have been first acted in 1588, or 1589,
immediately following up the elder Jeronimo which had been well

Though this drama was an incessant object of ridicule to the
contemporaries and immediate successors of its author, it nevertheless
acquired great popularity, and long maintained possession of the stage.
The consequence of this partiality was shown in a perversion of the
public taste, for nothing can exceed the bombast and puerilities of
this play and of those to which it gave almost instant birth. Kyd,
in fact, whilst aspiring to the delineation of the most tremendous
incidents, and the most uncontrolled passions, seems totally
unconscious of his own imbecillity; and the result, therefore, has
usually been, either unqualified horror, unmitigated disgust, or the
most ludicrous emotion. There is neither symmetry, consistency, nor
humanity, in the characters; they are beings not of this world, and
the finest parts of the play, which occur in the fourth act, possess a
tone of sorrow altogether wild and preternatural. The catastrophe is
absurdly horrible.

Such were the attractions, however, of this sanguinary tragedy,
that Ben Jonson, who, according to Decker, originally performed the
character of Jeronimo, was employed by Mr. Henslow, in 1602, to give it
a fresh claim on curiosity by his additions.[244:A]

"_The Tragedie of Solyman and Perseda_, wherein is laide open
Love's Constancy, Fortune's Inconstancy, and Death's Triumphs," is
conjectured by Mr. Hawkins to have been the production of [244:B]Kyd.
Like _Jeronimo_, it is not divided into acts, and was entered on
the stationers books in the same year with the _Spanish Tragedy_, a
circumstance which leads us to suppose, that its date of performance
was nearly contemporary with that production. Its style and manner,
too, are such as assimilate it to the peculiar genius which breathes
through the undisputed writings of the tragedian to whom it has been

_Cornelia_, thus named when first published in 4to. 1594, but reprinted
in 1595, under the enlarged title of "_Pompey the Great his Fair
Cornelia's Tragedy_, effected by her Father and Husband's Downcast,
Death, and Fortune," 4to. This play being merely a translation from
the French of _Garnier_, and consequently an imitation of the ancients
through a third or fourth medium, requires little notice. The dialogue
is in blank verse, and the choruses in various lyric metres.[245:A]

Kyd died, oppressed by poverty, about the year 1595.

17. MARLOWE, CHRISTOPHER, as an author, an object of great admiration
and encomium in his own times, and, of all the dramatic poets who
preceded Shakspeare, certainly the one who possessed the most genius.
He was egregiously misled, however, by bad models, and his want of
taste has condemned him, as a writer for the stage, to an obscurity
from which he is not likely to emerge.

This "famous gracer of tragedians," as he is termed by Greene, in his
Groatsworth of Wit, produced eight plays:—

1. _Tamburlaine the Great_, or the Scythian Shepherd. _Part the First._

2. _Tamburlaine the Great. Part the Second_. 4to.

Of this tragedy, in two parts, which was brought on the stage about the
year 1588, though not printed until 1590, it is impossible to speak
without a mixture of wonder and contempt; for, whilst a few passages
indicate talents of no common order, the residue is a tissue of
unmingled rant, absurdity, and fustian: yet strange as it may appear,
the most extravagant flights of this eccentric composition were the
most popular, and numerous allusions to its moon-struck reveries, are
to be found in the productions of its times. That it should be an
object of ridicule to Shakspeare, and of quotation to Pistol, are alike
in character.[245:B]

3. _Lust's Dominion_, or the _Lascivious Queen_ a Tragedy. 12mo.

This, like the two former plays, is tragedy run mad, and its spirit may
be justly described in the words of one of its characters; Eleazor the
Moor, who exclaims,—

    "—— Tragedy, thou minion of the night,
     ——————— to thee I'll sing
     Upon an harp made of dead Spanish bones,
     The proudest instrument the world affords;
     "Whilst" thou in crimson jollity shall bathe
     Thy limbs, as black as mine, in springs of blood
     Still gushing."

Its _horrors_, however, for this is the only epithet its incidents
can claim, are often clothed in poetical imagery, and even luscious
versification; it has also more fine passages to boast of than
Tamburlaine, and it has, likewise, more developement of character; but
all these are powerless in mitigating the disgust which its fable and
conduct inspire.

4. _The Troublesome Raigne and Lamentable Death of Edward the Second,
King of England._ 4to.

_Edward the Second_ is a proof, that, when Marlowe chose to drop the
barbarities of his age, and the bombast of "King Cambyses' Vein,"
he could exert an influence over the heart which has not often been
excelled. There is a truth, simplicity, and moral feeling in this play
which irresistibly attracts, and would fain induce us to hope, that its
author could not have exhibited the impious and abandoned traits of
character which have usually been attributed to him. The death-scene of
Edward is a master-piece of pity and terror.

5. "_The Massacre of Paris_, with the Death of the Duke of Guise.
8vo." A subject congenial with the general cast of Marlowe's gloomy
and ferocious style of colouring, nor is it deficient in his wonted
accumulation of horrors. It possesses, however, a few good scenes, and
may be classed midway between the author's worst and best productions.

6. _The Rich Jew of Malta_, 4to. The prejudice against the Jews,
during the reign of Elizabeth, was excessive; none were suffered to
reside in the kingdom, and every art encouraged that could stimulate
the hatred of the people against this persecuted race. No engine was
better calculated for this purpose than the stage, and no characters
were ever more relished, or more malignantly enjoyed, than the
_Barabas_ of Marlowe, and the _Shylock_ of Shakspeare. The distance,
however, between them, as well with regard to truth of delineation,
as to poetical vigour of conception, is infinite; for whilst the
Jew of Marlowe can be considered in no other light than as the mere
incarnation of a fiend, that of Shakspeare possesses, with all
his ferocity and cruelty, such a touch of humanity as classes him
distinctly with his species, and renders him, if not a very probable,
yet a very possible being.

7. "_The Tragical Historie of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus._"
4to. This, in point of preternatural wildness, and metaphysical horror,
is the _chef d'œuvre_ of Marlowe. It unfolds not only genius of a
sublimated and exotic cast, but seems to have been the product of a
mind inflamed by unhallowed curiosity, and an eager irreligious desire
of invading the secrets of another world, and so far gives credence
to the imputations which have stained the memory of its author; for
this play breathes not a poetic preternaturalism, if we may use the
expression, but looks like the creature of an atmosphere emerging from
the gulph of lawless spirits, and vainly employed in pursuing the
corruscations which traverse its illimitable gloom.

The catastrophe of this play makes the heart shudder, and the
hair involuntarily start erect; and the agonies of Faustus on the
fast-approaching expiration of his compact with the Devil, are depicted
with a strength truly appalling.

Yet amidst all this diabolism, there occasionally occur passages of
great moral sublimity, passages on which Milton seems to have fixed his
eye. Thus, the reply of the Demon _Mephostophilis_ to the enquiry of
Faustus, concerning the locality of Hell, bears a striking analogy to
the descriptions of Satan's internal and ever-present torments at the
commencement of the fourth book of Paradise Lost. "Tell me," exclaims
the daring necromancer, "where is the place that men call Hell?"

    "_Mephostophilis._ Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed
                       In one self place; but _where we are is hell,
                       And where hell is, there we must ever be_,
                       And, to be short, when all the world dissolves,
                       And every creature shall be purified,
                       All places shall be hell that are not heaven."

8. _The Tragedie of Dido, Queene of Carthage._—This drama was written
in conjunction with Thomas Nash, and printed in 1594.[248:A]

Marlowe has been lavishly panegyrised by Jonson, Heywood, Drayton,
Peele, Meres, Nash, &c.; but by none so emphatically as by Phillips,
who, at the very opening of his article on this poet, calls him "a kind
of a second Shakspeare." This seems, however, to have been done rather
with a reference to the similarities arising from his having, like
Shakspeare, been actor, player, and author of a poem on a congenial
subject with Venus and Adonis, namely, his Hero and Leander, than from
any approximation in the value of their dramatic works.[249:A]

The death of Marlowe, which took place before the year 1593, was
violent and premature, the melancholy termination of a life rendered
still more melancholy by vice and infidelity.[249:B]

18. LODGE, THOMAS. Two dramatic pieces have issued from the
pen of this elegant miscellaneous poet. Of these the first was written
in conjunction with Robert Greene, and entitled _A Looking-Glass for
London and England_, a tragi-comedy, acted in 1591[249:C], though
not published until 1598. The second is called "_The Wounds of Civil
War_. Lively set forth in the true tragedies of Marius and Scilla,"
and probably performed in the year following the representation of the
former play. It was printed in 1594. These dramas, though not the best
of Dr. Lodge's productions, were not unpopular, nor deemed unworthy of
his talents; the _Looking-Glass_ appears to have been acted four times
at the Rose theatre, in about the space of fifteen months.

19. GREENE, ROBERT. This pleasing, but unfortunate poet, was the author
of six plays, independent of that which he wrote as the coadjutor of
Lodge. 1. "_The Honorable Historie of Frier Bacon and Frier Bongay._"
4to. As Greene died in September, 1592, there can be no doubt that
all his dramas were written, if not all performed, before Shakspeare's
commencement as a writer for the stage; we find, from Henslowe's List,
that _Frier Bacon_ was performed at the Rose theatre, in February,
1591, and repeated thrice in the course of the season[250:A]; it was
printed in 1594, and being founded on a popular story, had considerable
success. 2. "_The Historie of Orlando Furioso_, one of the twelve Peers
of France." This piece was likewise performed at the same theatre,
in February, 1591, and also printed in 1594; the fable is taken,
with little or no alteration, from the Orlando of Ariosto. 3. "_The
Scottish Historie of James the Fourth, slaine at Flodden._ Entermixed
with a pleasant Comedie presented by _Oboram_ King of the Fayeries."
Greene, says Oldys, in plotting plays, was his craft's master, and it
would be curious and interesting to ascertain how he has conducted
a subject which has obtained so much celebrity in our own days, and
more especially in what manner he has combined it with the romantic
superstition attendant on Oberon and his fairies.[250:B] 4. "_The
Comicall Historie of Alphonsus, King of Arragon._" 5. "_The History of
Jobe._" This play, which was never printed, and it is supposed never
performed, although it was entered on the Stationers' books, in 1594,
was unfortunately, with many others, destroyed by the carelessness
of Dr. Warburton's servant. 6. "_Fair Emm_, the Miller's Daughter of
Manchester, with the Love of William the Conqueror," a comedy which has
been ascribed to Greene, by Phillips and Winstanley; the former, after
enumerating some pieces which upon no good grounds had been attributed
to the joint pens of our author and Dr. Lodge, adds, "besides which,
he wrote alone the comedies of Friar Bacon and _Fair Emme_."[251:A] It
is the more probable that this drama was the composition of Greene, as
it was represented at the same theatre and by the same company which
brought forward his avowed productions.

We must, with Ritson, express our regret, that the dramatic works of
Greene have not hitherto been collected and published together.[251:B]

20. LEGGE, THOMAS, twice vice-chancellor of Cambridge, and the author
of two plays which, though never printed, were acted with great
applause, not only in the University which gave them birth, but on
the public theatres. The first of these is named _The Destruction of
Jerusalem_, and appears from Henslowe's List to have been performed at
the Rose theatre, on the 22d of March, 1591; the second is entitled,
_The Life of King Richard the Third_, a subject which induces us to
regret, that it should not have been submitted to the press, especially
when the character of Legge for dramatic talent is considered; for
Meres informs us in 1598, that "Doctor Leg of Cambridge" was esteemed
among the "best for tragedie," adding, that "as M. Anneus Lucanus
writ two excellent tragedies, one called Medea, the other de Incendio
Troiæ cum Priami calamitate: so Doctor Leg hath penned two _famous_
tragedies, y{e} one of Richard the 3, the other of the destruction of
Jerusalem."[251:C] The death of Dr. Legge took place in July, 1607.

To this catalogue of dramatic writers who preceded Shakspeare, it will
be necessary to annex the names, at least, of those _anonymous_ plays
which, as far as any record of their performance has reached us, were
the property of the stage anterior to the year 1594, under the almost
certain presumption, that they must have been written before Shakspeare
had acquired any celebrity as a theatrical poet.

These, with the exception of the plays ascribed to Shakspeare, a few
Interludes and Moralities, the tragi-comedy of _Appius and Virginia_,
printed in 1576, and the tragedy of _Selimus, Emperor of the Turks_,
must, and perhaps without danger of any very important omission, be
limited to the following enumeration of dramas performed at the Rose
theatre during the years 1591, 1592, and 1593; from which, however, we
have withdrawn all those pieces that may be found previously noticed
under the names of their respective authors:—

   1. Muly Mulocco, or the Battle of Alcazar[252:A],   1591.
   2. Spanish Comedy of Don Horatio,                   ——
   3. Sir John Mandeville,                             ——
   4. Henry of Cornwall,                               ——
   5. Chloris and Orgasto[252:B],                      ——
   6. Pope Joan,                                       ——
   7. Machiavel,                                       ——
   8. Ricardo[252:C],                                  ——
   9. Four Plays in One,                               ——
  10. Zenobia,                                         ——
  11. Constantine,                                     ——
  12. Brandymer,                                       ——
  13. Titus Vespasian                                  ——
  14. The Tanner of Denmark,                           1592.
  15. Julian of Brentford,                             ——
  16. The Comedy of Cosmo,                             ——
  17. God Speed the Plough,                            1593.
  18. Huon of Bourdeaux,                               ——
  19. George a Green[253:A],                           ——
  20. Buckingham,                                      ——
  21. Richard the Confessor,                           ——
  22. William the Conqueror,                           ——
  23. Friar Francis,                                   ——
  24. The Pinner of Wakefield[253:B],                  ——
  25. Abraham and Lot,                                 ——
  26. The Fair Maid of Italy,                          ——
  27. King Lud,                                        ——
  28. The Ranger's Comedy[253:C],                      ——

In order accurately to ascertain how far Shakspeare might be indebted
to his predecessors, it would be highly desirable to possess a printed
collection of all the dramas which are yet within the reach of the
press, from the days of Sackville, to the year 1591. Such a work, so
far from diminishing the claim to originality with which this great
poet is now invested, would, we are convinced, place it in a still
more indisputable point of view; and merely prove, that, without any
servility of imitation, or even the smallest dereliction of his native
talent and creative genius, he had absorbed within his own refulgent
sphere the few feeble lights which, previous to his appearance, had
shed a kind of twilight over the dramatic world.

The models, indeed, if such they may be called, which were presented
to his view, are, as far as we are acquainted with them, so grossly
defective in structure, style, and sentiment, that, if we set aside
two or three examples, little or nothing could be learned from them.
In the course of near thirty years which elapsed between Sackville
and Shakspeare, the best and purest period was perhaps that which
immediately succeeded the exhibition of Gorboduc, but which was
speedily terminated by the appearance of Preston's _Cambyses_ in
or probably rather before the year 1570. From this era we behold a
succession of playwrights who, for better than twenty years, deluged
the stage as tragic poets with a torrent of bombastic and sanguinary
fiction, alike disgraceful to the feelings of humanity and common
sense; or as comic writers, overwhelmed us with a mass of quaintness,
buffoonery, and affectation. The worthy disciples of the author of
Cambyses, _Whetstone_, _Peele_, _Lilly_, _Kydd_, and _Marlowe_, seem to
have racked their brains to produce what was unnatural and atrocious,
and having, like their leader, received a classical education,
misemployed it to clothe their conceptions in a scholastic, uniform,
and monotonous garb, as far, at least, as a versification modulated
with the most undeviating regularity, and destitute of all variety of
cadence or of pause could minister to such an effect.

That so dark a picture should occasionally be relieved by gleams of
light, which appear the more brilliant from the surrounding contrast,
was naturally to be expected; and we have accordingly seen that the
very poets who may justly be censured for their general mode of
execution, for the wildness and extravagancy of their plots, now and
then present us with lines, passages, and even scenes, remarkable for
their beauty, strength, or poetical diction; but these, so unconnected
are they, and apart from the customary tone and keeping of the
pieces in which they are scattered, appear rather as the fortuitous
irradiation of a meteor, whose momentary splendour serves but to render
the returning gloom more heavy and oppressive, than the effect of
that sober, steady, and improving light which might cheer us with the
prospect of approaching day.

Of the twenty poets who have just passed in review before us, Marlowe
certainly exhibits the greatest portion of genius, though debased
with a large admixture of the gross and glaring faults of his
contemporaries. Two of his productions may yet be read with interest;
his _Edward the Second_, and his _Faustus_; though the latter must
be allowed to deviate from the true tract of tragedy, in presenting
us rather with what is horrible than terrible in its incidents and

We must not be surprised, therefore, that the dramatic fabrics of
these rude artists should have met with the warmest admiration, when
we recollect, that, in the infancy of an art, novelty is of itself
abundantly productive of attraction, and that taste, neither formed by
good models, nor rendered fastidious by choice, can have little power
to check the march of misguided enthusiasm.

It is necessary, however, to record an event in dramatic history,
which, coming into operation just previous to the entrance of our poet
into the theatric arena as an author, no doubt contributed powerfully
not only to chasten his muse, but, through him, universally the
national taste. In 1589 commissioners were appointed by the Queen for
the purpose of reviewing and revising the productions of all writers
for the stage, with full powers to reject and strike out all which they
might deem unmannerly, licentious, and irreverent; a censureship which,
it is evident, if properly and temperately executed, could not fail of
conferring almost incalculable benefit on a department of literature
at that time not much advanced in its career, and but too apt to
transgress the limits of a just decorum.

This regulation ushers in, indeed, by many degrees the most important
period in the annals of our theatre, when Shakspeare, starting
into dramatic life, came boldly forward on the eye, leaving at an
immeasurable distance behind him, and in groupes more or less darkly
shaded, his immediate predecessors, and his earliest contemporaries in
the art.


[227:A] Warton's Hist. of English Poetry, vol. iii. p. 355.

[227:B] Vide Historia Histrionica.

[227:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 6. 11. See, also, Percy and

[227:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 29; and Warton's Hist. of
English Poetry, vol. ii. p. 199.

[228:A] See Ancient British Drama, vol. i. both for this play and
Gammer Gurton's Needle, as edited by Walter Scott.

[229:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 404.

[230:A] Warton's Hist. of English Poetry, vol. iii. p. 210.

[231:A] Defence of Poesie, pp. 561, 562.—Vide Countess of Pembroke's
Arcadia, folio, 7th. edit. 1629.

[232:A] Arte of English Poesie, reprint, p. 51.

[232:B] Chalmers's English Poets, vol. ii. Turberville's Poems, p. 620.

[233:A] History of English Poetry, vol. iii. p. 474.

[234:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 144. note by Farmer.

[234:B] MS. Digb. 133.

[234:C] Hist. of English Poetry, vol. iii. p. 376. note.

[235:A] Sign. C 4.

[235:B] Vide Censura Literaria, vol. vii. p. 305. et seq.; and
Dodsley's Old Plays, by Reed, vol. ii. p. 154.

[236:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 461. Act iv. sc. 2.

[236:B] Ibid. vol. xi. p. 301.

[237:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xi. p. 302. note.

[237:B] Vide Beloe's Anecdotes of Literature, vol. i. p. 323.; and
Biographia Dramatica apud Reed, vol. i. p. 362.

[238:A] Among "Six Old Plays, on which Shakspeare founded his Measure
for Measure, Comedy of Errors," &c. &c.; reprinted from the original
editions, 2 vols. 8vo. 1779.

[238:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vi. p. 184.

[239:A] Biographia Dramatica, vol. i. p. 351.

[239:B] Ibid. vol. ii. p. 21.

[239:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 90.

[240:A] Vide Reprint, 1809, p. 22.

[240:B] Vide Greene's Groatsworth of Witte bought with a Million of
Repentance, reprint.

[240:C] Of the sweetness of versification and luxuriancy of imagery
which Peele occasionally exhibits, we shall quote an instance from "The
Love of King David and Fair Bethsabe. With the Tragedie of Absalon;" a
play which Mr. _Hawkins_ has re-printed in his _Origin of the Drama_, 3
vols.; observing, that the genius of Peele seems to have been kindled
by reading the Prophets, and the Song of Solomon:—

    "_Bethsabe._ Come gentle Zephyr trick'd with those perfumes
                 That erst in Eden sweetened Adam's love,
                 And stroke my bosom with thy silken fan:
                 This shade (sun-proof) is yet no proof for thee,
                 Thy body smoother than this waveless spring,
                 And purer than the substance of the same,
                 Can creep through that his lances cannot pierce.
                 Thou and thy sister soft and sacred Air,
                 Goddess of life, and governess of health,
                 Keeps every fountain fresh and arbor sweet:
                 No brazen gate her passage can repulse,
                 Nor bushy thicket bar thy subtle breath.
                 Then deck thee with thy loose delightsome robes,
                 And on thy wings bring delicate perfumes,
                 To play the wantons with us through the leaves."

[241:A] Theatrum Poetarum, apud Brydges, pp. 199, 200.

[242:A] For these plays, Blount's republication being scarce, the
reader may consult Dodsley's _Old Plays_, 1780; Hawkins's _Origin of
the English Drama_; _Ancient British Drama_ apud Walter Scott; and Old
Plays, vols. 1 and 2. 8vo. 1814.

[242:B] Numerous specimens of these Songs, in case the dramas are not
at hand, will be found in Ellis's Specimens of the Early English Poets,
vol. ii.; and in Beloe's Anecdotes of Literature and Scarce Books, vol.

[243:A] Biographia Dramatica, vol. ii. p. 237.

[243:B] See a further account of this play, and a specimen of the
chorus, in Beloe's Anecdotes, vol. i. p. 386.

[243:C] Vide Ancient British Drama, vol. i. p. 459.

[244:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 394.

[244:B] Vol. ii. p. 197.

[245:A] "There is particularly remembered," remarks Phillips, "his
tragedy Cornelia." Theatrum Poetarum, apud Brydges, p. 206.

[245:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 92. Henry the Fourth, Part II.,
act ii. sc. 4.—The passage which Pistol has partially quoted will
afford some idea of the wild and turgid extravagances of this poet.
Tamburlaine is represented in a chariot drawn by captive monarchs with
bits in their mouths; and, holding the reins in his left hand, he is in
the act of scourging them with a whip:—

    "_Tamb._ Holla ye pamper'd jades of Asia:
             What, can ye draw but twenty miles a day,
             And have so proud a chariot at your heels,
             And such a coachman as great Tamburlaine?
             But from Asphaltis, where I conquered you,
             To Byron here, where thus I honour you?
             The horse that guide the golden eye of heaven,
             And blow the morning from their nostrils,
             Making their fiery gate above the clouds,
             Are not so honour'd in their governor,
             As you ye slaves in mighty Tamburlaine.
             The head strong jades of Thrace Alcides tamed,
             That King Egeas fed with human flesh,
             And made so wanton that they knew their strengths,
             Were not subdued with valour more divine,
             Than you by this unconquer'd arm of mine.
             To make you fierce and fit my appetite,
             You shall be fed with flesh as raw as blood,
             And drink in pails the strongest muscadell:
             If you can live with it, then live and draw
             My chariot swifter than the racking clouds:
             If not, then die like beasts, and fit for nought
             But perches for the black and fatal ravens."

[248:A] This rare play was purchased, at the Roxburgh sale, for
_seventeen guineas_!

[249:A] Theatrum Poetarum, apud Brydges, p. 113.

[249:B] Two accounts, varying materially, have been given by Wood and
Vaughan, of this poet's untimely fate. That by Vaughan as being little
known, and apparently founded on the writer's own knowledge of the
fact, I shall venture to transcribe. The _Golden Grove_, from which it
is extracted, was first published in 1600. Relating God's judgments on
Atheists, he adds:—

"Not inferiour to these was one Christopher Marlow, by profession a
play-maker, who, as it is reported, about fourteen yeres a-goe, wrote
a booke against the Trinitie: but see the effects of God's justice; it
so hapned, that at Detford, a litle village, about three miles distant
from London, as he meant to stab with his poynard one named Ingram,
that had invited him thither to a feaste, and was then playing at
tables; hee perceyuing it, so avoyded the thrust, that withall drawing
out his dagger for his defence, he stab'd this Marlow into the eye,
in such sort, that his braynes comming out at the dagger's point, hee
shortly after dyed."

[249:C] Vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 355.

[250:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 354.

[250:B] Berkenhout's Biographia Literaria, p. 319. note.—The only
account which I have seen of this play, printed in 1598, is in a note
by Mr. Malone, who tells us that Shakspeare does not appear to have
been indebted to this piece. "The plan of it," he adds, "is shortly
this: Bohan, a Scot, in consequence of being disgusted with the world,
having retired to a tomb where he has fixed his dwelling, is met by
Aster Oberon, king of the fairies, who entertains him with an antick or
dance by his subjects. These two personages, after some conversation,
determine to listen to a tragedy, which is acted before them, and to
which they make a kind of chorus, by moralizing at the end of each
act." Vol. ii. p. 250.

[251:A] Theatrum Poetarum apud Brydges, p. 193.

[251:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xxi. p. 37.

[251:C] Vide Censura Literaria, vol. ix. p. 98.

[252:A] This play was printed in 1594, and has fallen under the
ridicule of Shakspeare, in a parody on the words, _Feed and be fat_, &c.

[252:B] The miserable orthography of this catalogue has frequently
disguised the real titles so much as to render them almost
unintelligible, and I suspect _Orgasto_ in this place to be very remote
from the genuine word.

[252:C] Called in one part of the list, "bendo and Ricardo," and in
another, "Byndo and Ricardo."

[253:A] This, being the prior part of the title of the Pinner of
Wakefield, mentioned below, is probably one and the same with that

[253:B] The Pinner of Wakefield, which is in Dodsley's Collection, and
in Scott's Ancient British Drama, was printed in 1599.

[253:C] Vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. pp. 354-358.—Mr. Malone
observes of the play in this catalogue, called "Richard the Confessor,"
that it "should seem to have been written by the Tinker, in _Taming of
the Shrew_, who talks of _Richard Conqueror_."



We have, in a former portion of this work[256:A], assigned our reasons
for concluding that, on Shakspeare's arrival in London, about the year
1586 or 1587, his _immediate_ employment was that of an actor; and we
now proceed to consider the much agitated question as to the era of his
_first_ attempts in _dramatic_ poetry. That this was subsequent to the
production of his _Venus and Adonis_, we possess his own authority,
when he informs us that the poem just mentioned was _the first heir
of his invention_; and though we enjoy no testimony of a like kind,
or emanating from a similar source, as to the period of his earliest
effort in dramatic literature, yet, if we be correct in referring the
composition of his Venus and Adonis to the interval elapsing between
the years 1587 and 1590[256:B], the epoch of his _first play_ cannot,
with any probability, be placed either much anterior or subsequent to
the year 1590. That it occurred _not_ before this date, may be presumed
from recollecting, that, in the first place, the _prosecution_ of his
amatory poem and the _acquirement_ of his profession as an actor,
might be sufficient to occupy an interval of two years; and, in the
second place, that no contemporary previous to 1592, neither Webbe in
1586[256:C], nor Puttenham in 1589[256:D], nor Harrington in February,
1591[257:A], has noticed or even alluded to any theatrical production
of our author.

That it took place, either in 1590, or very soon after that year, must
be inferred both from tradition, and from written testimony. Aubrey
tells us, from the former source, that "he began _early_ to _make
essays in dramatique poetry_, which at that time was very lowe, and
his plays took well[257:B];" and from the nature and extent of the
allusions in the following passage from Robert Greene's _Groatsworth of
Witte bought with a Million of Repentance_, there can be no doubt that,
not only one play, but that several had been written and prepared for
the stage by our poet, anterior to September, 1592.

It appears that this tract of Greene's was completed a very short
time previous to his death, which happened on the third of the month
of the year just mentioned, and that Henry Chettle, "upon whose
_perill_"[257:C] it had been entered in the Stationers' register on
September the 20th, 1592, became editor and publisher of it before the
ensuing December.[257:D]

Greene had been the intimate associate of _Marlowe_, _Lodge_, and
_Peele,_ and he concludes his _Groatsworth of Witte_ with an address
to these bards, the object of which is, to dissuade them from any
further reliance on the stage for support, and to warn them against the
ingratitude and selfishness of players: "trust them not;" he exclaims,
"for there is an _upstart crowe BEAUTIFIED WITH OUR FEATHERS_, that
with his _tygres heart wrapt in a player's hide_, supposes hee is
as well able to bombaste out a blank verse as the best of you; and
being an absolute JOHANNES FAC-TOTUM, is in his own conceit the only
SHAKE-SCENE in a countrey."[257:E]

To Mr. Tyrwhit we are indebted for the first application of this
passage to Shakspeare, who, as might naturally be expected, feeling
himself hurt at Greene's unmerited sarcasm, clearly pointing to him
by the designation of _the only Shake-scene in a country_, and not
well pleased with Chettle's officious publication of it, expressed
his sentiments so openly as to draw forth from the repentant editor,
about three months after his edition of the Groatsworth of Witte, an
apology, which adds further weight to the inferences which we wish to
deduce from the language of Greene. In this interesting little pamphlet
which, under the title of _Kind Harts Dreame_, we have had occasion
to quote more at large in an earlier part of the volume[258:A], the
author, after slightly noticing Marlowe, one of the offended parties,
and speaking highly of the demeanour, professional ability, and moral
integrity of Shakspeare, closes the sentence and the eulogium by

From these passages in Greene and Chettle, combined with the
traditionary relation of Aubrey, we may legitimately infer, first,
that _he had written for the stage before the year 1592_; secondly,
that _he had written during this period with considerable success_,
for Aubrey tells us, that _his plays took well_, and Chettle that his
_grace in writing approved his art_; thirdly, that _he had written
both tragedy and comedy_, Greene reporting, that he was _well able to
bombast out a blank verse_, and Chettle speaking of his "_facetious_
grace in writing;" fourthly, that _he had altered and brought on the
stage some of the separate or joint productions of Marlowe, Greene,
Lodge, and Peele_; the words of Greene, where he terms Shakspeare
a "_crowe beautified with OUR feathers, that with his tygres heart
wrapt in a player's hide, supposes_," &c. implying, not only that he
had furtively acquired fame by appropriating their productions, but
referring to a particular play, through the medium of quotation, as a
proof of the assertion, the words _tygres heart wrapt in a player's
hide_ being a parody of a line in the _Third Part of King Henry the
Sixth_: or what we, for reasons which will be speedily assigned, have
thought proper to call the _Second Part_,—

    "O, tiger's heart, wrapp'd in a woman's hide;"[259:A]

fifthly, _that he had already excited, as the usual consequence of
success, no small degree of jealousy and envy_; hence Greene has
querelously bestowed upon him the appellation of _upstart_, and has
taxed him with a monopolising spirit, an accusation which leads us
to believe, sixthly, _that he had written or prepared for the stage
SEVERAL PLAYS anterior to September, 1592_; this last inference, which
we conceive to be fairly deduced from the description of our poet as AN
ABSOLUTE JOHANNES FAC-TOTUM with regard to the stage, will immediately
bring forward again the question as to the precise era of our author's
earliest drama.

Now to warrant the charge implied by the expression, _an absolute
fac-totum_, we must necessarily allow a sufficient lapse of time before
September, 1592, in order to admit, not only of Shakspeare's altering
a play for the stage, but of his composing either altogether, or in
part, both _tragedy_ and _comedy_ on a basis of his own choice, so
that he might, as he actually did, appear to Greene, in the capacities
of _corrector_, _improver_, and _original writer_ of plays, to be a
perfect _fac-totum_.

And, if we further reflect, that the composition of the _Groatsworth
of Witte_ most probably, from indisposition, occupied its author one
month, as he complains of _weakness scarce suffering him to write_
towards the conclusion of his tract, and that we cannot reasonably
conclude less than _two years_ to have been employed by Shakspeare in
the execution of the functions assigned him by Greene; the period for
the production of his first drama, will necessarily be thrown back
to the August of the year 1590; an era to which no objection, from
contradictory testimony, can with any show of probability apply; for,
though Harrington, whose _Apologie for Poetrie_ was entered on the
Stationers' books in February, 1591, has not noticed Shakspeare, yet,
if we consider that this treatise was, in all likelihood, completed
previous to the close of 1590, we shall not wonder that a play,
performed but three or four months before the critic finished his
labours, unappropriated too, there is reason to think, by the public at
that time, and unacknowledged by the author, should be passed over in

Having thus endeavoured to fix the era of our poet's commencement
as a dramatic writer, it remains to ascertain which was the _first
drama_ that, either _wholly_ or in _great part_, issued from his
pen; a subject, like the former, certainly surrounded with many
difficulties, liable to many errors, and only to be illustrated by a
patient investigation of, and a well-weighed deduction from, minute
circumstances and conflicting probabilities.

The reasons which have induced us to fix upon PERICLES, as
the result of a laborious, if not a successful, enquiry, will be
offered, with much diffidence, under the first article of the following
Chronological Arrangement, which, though deviating, in several
instances, from the chronologies of both Chalmers and Malone, will
not, it is hoped, on that account be found needlessly singular, nor
unproductive of a closer approximation to probability, and, perchance,
to truth.

For the sake of perspicuity, it has been thought eligible to prefix, in
a tabular form, the _order_ which has been adopted, the observations
confirmatory of its arrangement being classed according to the
series thus drawn out; and here it may be necessary to premise, that
the substance of our commentary, with the exception of what may be
requisite to establish a few new dates, will be chiefly confined to
critical remarks on each play, relieved by intervening dissertations on
the super-human agency of the poet.


   1. Pericles,                          1590.
   2. Comedy of Errors,                  1591.
   3. Love's Labour's Lost,              1591.
   4. King Henry the Sixth, Part I.      1592.
   5. King Henry the Sixth, Part II.     1592.
   6. Midsummer-Night's Dream,           1593.
   7. Romeo and Juliet,                  1593.
   8. Taming of the Shrew,               1594.
   9. Two Gentlemen of Verona,           1595.
  10. King Richard the Third,            1595.
  11. King Richard the Second,           1596.
  12. King Henry the Fourth, Part I.     1596.
  13. King Henry the Fourth, Part II.    1596.
  14. The Merchant of Venice,            1597.
  15. Hamlet,                            1597.
  16. King John,                         1598.
  17. All's Well That Ends Well,         1598.
  18. King Henry the Fifth,              1599.
  19. Much Ado About Nothing,            1599.
  20. As You Like It,                    1600.
  21. Merry Wives of Windsor,            1601.
  22. Troilus and Cressida,              1601.
  23. King Henry the Eighth,             1602.
  24. Timon of Athens,                   1602.
  25. Measure for Measure,               1603.
  26. King Lear,                         1604.
  27. Cymbeline,                         1605.
  28. Macbeth,                           1606.
  29. Julius Cæsar,                      1607.
  30. Antony and Cleopatra,              1608.
  31. Coriolanus,                        1609.
  32. The Winter's Tale,                 1610.
  33. The Tempest,                       1611.
  34. Othello,                           1612.
  35. Twelfth Night,                     1613.

1. PERICLES, 1590. That the _greater part_, if not the whole, of
this drama, was the _composition of Shakspeare_, and that it is to
be considered as his _earliest_ dramatic effort, are positions, of
which the first has been rendered highly probable by the elaborate
disquisitions of Messrs. Steevens and Malone, and may possibly be
placed in a still clearer point of view by a more condensed and lucid
arrangement of the testimony already produced, and by a further
discussion of the merits and peculiarities of the play itself; while
the second will, we trust, receive additional support by inferences
legitimately deduced from a comprehensive survey of scattered and
hitherto insulated premises.

The evidence required for the establishment of a high degree of
probability under the first of these positions necessarily divides
itself into two parts; the _external_ and the _internal_ evidence. The
former commences with the original edition of _Pericles_, which was
entered on the Stationers' books by Edward Blount, one of the printers
of the first folio edition of Shakspeare's plays, on the 20th of
May[262:A], 1608, but did not pass the press until the subsequent year,
when it was published, not, as might have been expected, by Blount, but
by one Henry Gosson, who placed Shakspeare's name at full length in the

It is worthy of remark, also, that this edition was entered at
Stationers' Hall together with _Antony and Cleopatra_, and that it, and
the three following editions, which were also in quarto, were styled
in the title-page, _the much admired play of Pericles_. As the entry,
however, was by Blount, and the edition by Gosson, it is probable,
as Mr. Malone has remarked, that the former had been anticipated by
the latter, through the procurance of a play-house copy.[263:A] It
may also be added, that _Pericles_ was performed at Shakspeare's own
theatre, _The Globe_. The next ascription of this play to our author,
is found in a poem entitled _The Times Displayed in Six Sestyads_, by
S. Sheppard, 4to. 1646, dedicated to Philip Herbert, Earl of Pembroke,
and containing, in the ninth stanza of the sixth Sestiad, a positive
assertion of Shakspeare's property in this drama:—

    "See him whose tragick sceans Euripides
     Doth equal, and with Sophocles we may
     Compare _great Shakspear_; Aristophanes
     Never like him his fancy could display,
     Witness _the Prince of Tyre, HIS Pericles_."[263:B]

This high eulogium on _Pericles_ received a direct contradiction very
shortly afterwards from the pen of an obscure poet named Tatham, who
bears, however, an equally strong testimony as to Shakspeare being the
author of the piece, which he thus presumes to censure:—

    "But Shakespeare, the plebeian driller, was
     Founder'd in _HIS Pericles_, and must not pass."[263:C]

To these testimonies in 1646 and 1652, full and unqualified, and made
at no distant period from the death of the bard to whom they relate,
we have to add the still more forcible and striking declaration of
Dryden, who tells us, in 1677, and in words as strong and as decisive
as he could select, that

    "Shakspeare's _own muse, HIS Pericles_ first bore."[264:A]

The only drawback on this accumulation of external evidence is the
omission of _Pericles_ in the first edition of our author's works; a
negative fact which can have little weight when we recollect, that both
the memory and judgment of Heminge and Condell, the poet's editors,
were so defective, that they had _forgotten Troilus and Cressida_,
until the entire folio and the table of contents had been printed, and
admitted _Titus Andronicus_, and the _Historical Play of King Henry
the Sixth_, probably for no other reasons, than that the former had
been, from its unmerited popularity, brought forward by Shakspeare
on his own theatre, though, there is sufficient internal evidence to
prove, without the addition of a single line; and because the latter,
with a similar predilection of the lower orders in its favour, had, on
that account, obtained a similar, though not a more laboured attention
from our poet, and was therefore deemed by his editors, though very
unnecessarily, a requisite introduction to the two plays on the reign
of that monarch which Shakspeare had really new-modelled.

It cannot, consequently, be surprising that, as they had forgotten
_Troilus and Cressida_ until the folio had been printed, they should
have also forgotten _Pericles_ until the same folio had been in
circulation, and when it was too late to correct the omission; an error
which the second folio has, without doubt or examination, blindly

If the external evidence in support of Shakspeare being the author
of the greater part of this play be striking, the _internal_ must be
pronounced still more so, and, indeed, absolutely decisive of the
question; for, whether we consider the style and phraseology, or the
imagery, sentiment, and humour, the approximation to our author's
uncontested dramas appears so close, frequent, and peculiar, as to
stamp irresistible conviction on the mind.

The result has accordingly been such as might have been predicted
under the assumption of the play being genuine; for the more it has
been examined, the more clearly has Shakspeare's large property in it
been established. It is curious, indeed, to note the increased tone of
confidence which each successive commentator has assumed in proportion
as he has weighed the testimony arising from the piece itself. _Rowe_,
in his first edition, says, "it is _owned_ that some part of _Pericles_
_certainly_ was written by him, particularly the last act;" _Dr. Farmer_
observes that the hand of Shakspeare may be _seen_ in the latter part
of the play; _Dr. Percy_ remarks, that "more of the phraseology used in
the genuine dramas of Shakspeare prevails in _Pericles_, than in any of
the other six doubted plays[265:A]," and, of the two rival restorers
of this drama, _Steevens_ and _Malone_, the former declares;—"I admit
without reserve that Shakspeare,

    ——— "whose hopeful colours
    Advance _a half-fac'd sun, striving to shine_,"

is visible in _many scenes throughout the play_;—the _purpurei panni_
are Shakspeare's, and the rest the productions of some inglorious
and forgotten play-wright;"—adding, in a subsequent paragraph, that
_Pericles_ is valuable, "as the engravings of _Mark Antonio_ are
valuable not only on account of their beauty, but because they are
supposed to have been executed under the eye of _Raffaelle_[265:B];"
while the latter gives it as his corrected opinion, that "the congenial
sentiments, the numerous expressions bearing a striking similitude
to passages in his undisputed plays, some of the incidents, the
situation of many of the persons, and in various places the colour
of the style, all these combine to set the seal of Shakspeare on the
play before us, and furnish us with internal and irresistible proofs,
that a considerable portion of this piece, as it now appears, was
written by him. The greater part of the three last acts may, I think,
on this ground be safely ascribed to him; and his hand may be traced
occasionally in the other two divisions."[266:A] Lastly, Mr. Douce
asserts, that "many will be of opinion that it contains more that _he
might have written_ than either _Love's Labour's Lost_, or _All's Well
that Ends Well_."[266:B]

For satisfactory proof that the style, phraseology, and imagery of
the greater part of this play are truly Shakspearean, the reader
is referred to the commentators, who have noticed, with unwearied
accuracy, all the numerous coincidences which, in these respects, occur
between _Pericles_ and the poet's subsequent productions; similitudes
so striking, as to leave no doubt that they originated from one and the
same source.

If we attend, however, a little further to the _dramatic construction_
of _Pericles_, to its _humour_, _sentiment_, and _character_, not only
shall we find additional evidence in favour of its being, in a great
degree, the product of our author, but fresh cause, it is expected, for
awarding it a higher estimation than it has hitherto obtained.

However wild and extravagant the fable of _Pericles_ may appear, if we
consider its numerous chorusses, its pageantry, and dumb shows, its
continual succession of incidents, and the great length of time which
they occupy, yet is it, we may venture to assert, the most spirited and
pleasing specimen of the nature and fabric of our earliest romantic
drama which we possess, and the more valuable, as it is the only one
with which Shakspeare has favoured us. We should therefore welcome
this play, an admirable example of "the neglected favourites of our
ancestors, with something of the same feeling that is experienced
in the reception of an old and valued friend of our fathers or
grandfathers. Nay, we should like "it" the better for "its" gothic
appendages of pageants and chorusses, to explain the intricacies of
the fable; and we can see no objection to the dramatic representation
even of a series of ages in a single night, that does not apply to
every description of poem which leads in perusal from the fire-side at
which we are sitting, to a succession of remote periods and distant
countries. In these matters, faith is all-powerful; and, without her
influence, the most chastely cold and critically correct of dramas is
precisely as unreal as the _Midsummer-Night's Dream_, or the _Winter's

Perfectly coinciding in opinion with this ingenious critic, and willing
to give an indefinite influence to the illusion of the scene, we have
found in _Pericles_ much entertainment from its uncommon variety and
rapidity of incident, qualities which peculiarly mark the genius of
Shakspeare, and which rendered this drama so successful on its first
appearance, that the poets of the time quote its reception as a
remarkable instance of popularity.[267:B]

A still more powerful attraction in _Pericles_ is, that the interest
accumulates as the story proceeds; for, though many of the characters
in the earlier part of the piece, such as _Antiochus_ and his
_Daughter_, _Simonides_ and _Thaisa_, _Cleon_ and _Dionyza_, disappear
and drop into oblivion, their places are supplied by more pleasing
and efficient agents, who are not only less fugacious, but better
calculated for theatric effect. The inequalities of this production
are, indeed, considerable, and only to be accounted for, with
probability, on the supposition, that Shakspeare either accepted a
coadjutor, or improved on the rough sketch of a previous writer; the
former, for reasons which will be assigned hereafter, seems entitled
to a preference, and will explain why, in compliment to his dramatic
friend, he has suffered a few passages, and one entire scene, of a
character totally dissimilar to his own style and mode of composition,
to stand uncorrected; for who does not perceive that of the closing
scene of the second act, not a sentence or a word escaped from the pen
of Shakspeare, and yet, that the omission of a few lines would have
rendered that blameless and consistent, which is now, with reference
to the character of Simonides, a tissue of imbecillity, absurdity, and

No play, in fact, more openly discloses the hand of Shakspeare than
_Pericles_, and fortunately his share in its composition appears
to have been very considerable; he may be distinctly, though not
frequently, traced, in the first and second acts; after which, feeling
the incompetency of his fellow-labourer, he seems to have assumed
almost the entire management of the remainder, nearly the whole of the
third, fourth, and fifth acts bearing indisputable testimony to the
genius and execution of the great master.

The truth of these affirmations will be evident, if we give a slight
attention to the sentiment and character which are developed in the
scenes before us. It has been repeatedly declared, that _Pericles_,
though teeming with incident, is devoid of character, an assertion
which a little scrutiny is alone sufficient to refute.

Shakspeare has ever delighted in drawing the broad humour of
inferior life, and in this, which we hold to be, the _first heir of
his DRAMATIC invention_, no opportunity is lost for the
introduction of such sketches; accordingly, the first scene of the
second act, and the third and sixth scenes of the fourth act, are
occupied by delineations of this kind, coloured with the poet's usual
strength and verisimilitude, and painting the shrewd but honest mirth
of laborious fishermen, and the vicious _badinage_ of the inhabitants
of a brothel. Leaving these traits, however, which sufficiently speak
for themselves, let us turn our view on the more serious persons of the

Of the _minor_ characters belonging to this groupe, none, except
_Helicanus_ and _Cerimon_, are, it must be confessed, worthy of
consideration; the former is respectable for his fidelity and
integrity, though not individualised by any peculiar attribution,
but in Cerimon, who exhibits the rare union of the nobleman and
the physician, the most unwearied benevolence, the most active
philanthropy, are depicted in glowing tints, and we have only to regret
that he fills not a greater space in the business of the drama. He is
introduced in the second scene of the third act, as having

    "Shaken off the golden slumber of repose,"

to assist, in a dreadfully inclement night, some shipwrecked mariners:

    "_Cer._ Get fire and meat for these poor men;
            It has been a turbulent and stormy night.

    _Serv._ I have been in many; but such a night as this,
            Till now, I ne'er endur'd."

His prompt assistance on this occasion calls forth the eulogium of some
gentlemen who had been roused from their slumbers by the violence of
the tempest:

    "Your honour has through Ephesus pour'd forth
     Your charity, and hundreds call themselves
     Your creatures, who by you have been restor'd:
     And not your knowledge, personal pain, but even
     Your purse, still open, hath built lord Cerimon
     Such strong renown as time shall never—"

They are here interrupted by two servants bringing in a chest which had
been washed on shore, and which is found to contain the body of Thaisa,
the wife of Pericles, on a survey of which, Cerimon pronounces, from
the freshness of its appearance, that it had been too hastily committed
to the sea, adding an observation which would form an excellent motto
to an Essay on the means of restoring suspended animation:

    "Death may usurp on nature many hours,
     And yet the fire of life kindle again
     The overpressed spirits."

The disinterested conduct and philosophic dignity of Cerimon cannot be
placed in a more amiable and striking light, than in that which they
receive from the following declaration, worthy of being inscribed in
letters of gold in the library of every liberal cultivator of medical

    "_Cerimon._           I held it ever
     Virtue and "knowledge"[271:A] were endowments greater
     Than nobleness and riches: careless heirs
     May the two latter darken and expend;
     But immortality attends the former,
     Making a man a god. 'Tis known, I ever
     Have studied physick, through which secret art,
     By turning o'er authorities, I have
     (Together with my practice) made familiar
     To me and to my aid, the blest infusions
     That dwell in vegetives, in metals, stones;
     And I can speak of the disturbances
     That nature works, and of her cures; which give me
     A more content in course of true delight
     Than to be thirsty after tottering honour,
     Or tie my treasure up in silken bags."

If we now contemplate the two chief personages of the play, _Pericles_
and _Marina_; and if it can be proved that these occupy, as they
should do, the fore ground of the picture, are well relieved, and
characteristically sustained, nothing can be wanting, when combined
with the other marks of authenticity collected by the commentators, to
substantiate the genuine property of Shakspeare.

Buoyant with hope, ardent in enterprise, and animated by the keenest
sensibility, _Pericles_ is brought forward as a model of knighthood.
Chivalric in his habits, romantic in his conceptions, and elegant
in his accomplishments, he is represented as the devoted servant of
glory and of love. His failings, however, are not concealed; for the
enthusiasm and susceptibility of his character lead him into many
errors; he is alternately the sport of joy and grief, at one time
glowing with rapture, at another plunged into utter despair. Not
succeeding in his amatory overture at the court of Antiochus, and
shocked at the criminality of that monarch and his daughter, he becomes
a prey to the deepest despondency:—

    "The sad companion, dull-eye'd melancholy,
     By me so us'd a guest is, not an hour,
     In the day's glorious walk, or peaceful night,
     The tomb where grief should sleep, can breed me quiet."[272:A]

Affliction, however, of a more unequivocal kind soon assails him; he is
shipwrecked on the coast of Greece, and compelled to solicit support
from the benevolence of some poor fishermen. His address to these
honest creatures is truly pathetic:—

      "_Per._ He asks of you, that never us'd to beg.—
    What I have been, I have forgot to know;
    But what I am, want teaches me to think on;
    A man shrunk up with cold: my veins are chill,
    And have no more of life, than may suffice
    To give my tongue that heat, to ask your help."[273:A]

From this state of dejection he is suddenly raised to the most sanguine
pitch of hope, on perceiving the fishermen dragging in their net to
shore a suit of rusty armour. Enveloped in this, he determines to
appear at Pentapolis the neighbouring capital of Simonides, as a knight
and gentleman; to purchase a steed with a jewel yet remaining on his
arm, and to enter the lists of a tournament then in preparation, as
a candidate for the hand of Thaisa, the daughter of the king. His
exultation on the prospect, he thus expresses to his humble friends:

    "Now, by your furtherance, I am cloth'd in steel;
     And, spite of all the rupture of the sea,
     This jewel holds his biding on my arm;
     Unto thy value will I mount myself
     Upon a courser, whose delightful steps
     Shall make the gazer joy to see him tread."[273:B]

The same rapid transition of the passions, and the same subjection to
uncontrolled emotions mark his future course; the supposed deaths of
his wife and daughter immerse him in the deepest abstraction and gloom;
he is represented, in consequence of these events, as

    "A man, who for this three months hath not spoken
     To any one, nor taken sustenance
     But to prorogue his grief."[273:C]

We are prepared therefore to expect, that the discovery of the
existence of these dear relatives should have a proportionate effect on
feelings thus constituted, so sensitive and so acute; and, accordingly,
the tide of rapture rolls in with overwhelming force. Nothing, indeed,
can be more impressively conducted than the _recognition_ of _Marina_;
it is Shakspeare, not in the infancy of his career, but approaching
to the zenith of his glory.—Conviction on the part of Pericles is
accompanied by a flood of tears; why, says his daughter,

    ——————— "Why do you weep? It may be
    You think me an impostor.——

      _Per._ O Helicanus, strike me, honour'd sir;
    Give me a gash, put me to present pain;
    Lest this great sea of joys rushing upon me,
    O'erbear the shores of my mortality,
    And drown me with their sweetness. O, come hither,—
    Thou that was born at sea, buried at Tharsus,
    And found at sea again!—O Helicanus,
    Down on thy knees, thank the holy gods."[274:A]

Nature appeals here to the heart in a tone not to be misunderstood.

Ecstasy, however, cannot long be borne, the feeble powers of man soon
sink beneath the violence of the emotion, and mark how Shakspeare
closes the conflict:

      "_Per._ ——————— I embrace you, sir.
    Give me my robes; I am wild in my beholding.
    O heavens bless my girl! But hark, what musick?—
    Tell Helicanus, my Marina, tell him
    ————————— for yet he seems to doubt,
    How sure you are my daughter.—But what musick?

      _Her._ My lord, I hear none.

      _Per._ None?
    The musick of the spheres: list, my Marina.—
    Most heavenly musick:
    It nips me unto list'ning, and thick slumber
    Hangs on mine eye-lids; let me rest. (_He sleeps._)"[274:B]

It might be imagined that the above scene would almost necessarily
preclude any chance of success in the immediately subsequent detail of
the discovery of _Thaisa_; but the poet has contrived, notwithstanding,
to throw both novelty and interest into this the final dénouement of
the play. Pericles, aided by the evidence of Cerimon, recognises his
wife in the character of high Priestess of the Temple of Diana at
Ephesus; the acknowledgment is thus pathetically painted:—

      "_Per._ ——— No more, you gods! your present kindness
    Makes my past miseries sport: You shall do well,
    That on the touching of her lips I may
    Melt, and no more be seen. O come, be buried
    A second time within these arms.

      _Marina._                     My heart
    Leaps to be gone into my mother's bosom.
                                             (_Kneels to THAISA._

      _Per._ Look, who kneels here! Flesh of thy flesh, Thaisa;
    Thy burden at the sea, and call'd Marina,
    For she was yielded there.

      _Thaisa._                Bless'd and mine own!"[275:A]

To the many amiable and interesting female characters with which the
undisputed works of our poet abound, may be added the _Marina_ of
this drama, who, like Miranda, Imogen, and Perdita, pleases by the
gentleness, and artless tenderness of her disposition; though it must
be allowed that _Marina_ can only be considered as a _sketch_ when
compared with the more highly finished designs of our author's maturer
pencil; it is a sketch, however, from the hand of a master, and cannot
be mistaken.

Pericles commits his infant daughter, accompanied by her nurse
Lychorida, to the protection of Cleon and Dionyza:—

      "_Per._ Good Madam, make me blessed in your care
    In bringing up my child.

      _Dion._                I have one myself,
    Who shall not be more dear to my respect,
    Than your's, my lord.

      _Per._              Madam, my thanks and prayers.

      _Cleon._ We'll bring your grace even to the edge o'the shore;
    Then give you up to the mask'd Neptune, and
    The gentlest winds of heaven.

      _Per._                      I will embrace
    Your offer. Come, dear'st Madam.—O, no tears.
    Lychorida, no tears:
    Look to your little mistress, on whose grace
    You may depend hereafter."[276:A]

The affectionate attachment of Marina to this friend of her infancy,
and her deep-felt sorrow for her loss, advantageously open her
character in the first scene of the fourth act, where she is introduced
strewing the grave of Lychorida with flowers.

"_Enter MARINA, with a Basket of Flowers._

      _Mar._ No, no, I will rob Tellus of her weed,
    To strew thy green with flowers: the yellows, blues,
    The purple violets, and madrigolds,
    Shall, as a chaplet, hang upon thy grave,
    While summer days do last. Ah me! poor maid,
    Born in a tempest, when my mother died,
    This world to me is like a lasting storm,
    Whirring me from my friends;"[276:B]

a passage, the leading idea of which, Shakspeare has transplanted with
the same pleasing effect into his _Cymbeline_.[276:C]

Scarcely has Marina lamented the decease of her faithful attendant,
when envy and malignity conspire against her life in the bosom of
one who ought to have been her surest safeguard against misfortune.
Dionyza, perceiving her own daughter eclipsed by the beauty and
accomplishments of her ward, resolves upon her destruction, and bribes
a wretch, named Leonine, to the commission of the deed. The dialogue
which takes place on this occasion, between the ruffian and his
intended victim, places the artless simplicity of the latter in a very
pleasing point of view.

      "_Leon._ Come, say your prayers speedily.

      _Mar._ What mean you?

      _Leon._ If you require a little space for prayer,
    I grant it: Pray; but be not tedious,
    For the gods are quick of ear, and I am sworn
    To do my work with haste.

      _Mar._ Why, will you kill me?

      _Leon._ To satisfy my lady.

      _Mar._ Why would she have me killed?
    Now, as I can remember,
    I never did her hurt in all my life;
    I never spake bad word, nor did ill turn
    To any living creature: believe me,
    I never kill'd a mouse, nor hurt a fly:
    I trod upon a worm against my will,
    But I wept for it. How have I offended,
    Wherein my death might yield her profit, or
    My life imply her danger?

      _Leon._ My commission
    Is not to reason of the deed, but do it.

      _Mar._ You will not do't for all the world, I hope.
    You are well favour'd, and your looks foreshow
    You have a gentle heart. I saw you lately,
    When you caught hurt in parting two that fought:
    Good sooth, it show'd well in you; do so now:
    Your lady seeks my life; come you between,
    And save poor me, the weaker."[277:A]

Marina snatched from this villain by the sudden intervention of
pirates, is sold by them to the keeper of a brothel at Mitylene, a
situation which appears to her still more dreadful than that from which
she has so narrowly escaped. She laments that Leonine had not executed
his orders, or that the pirates had not thrown her overboard, and
exclaims in language equally beautiful and appropriate,—

    "——————— O that the good gods
     Would set me free from this unhallow'd place,
     Though they did change me to the meanest bird
     That flies i' the purer air."[278:A]

Indebted to her talents and accomplishments, which she represents
to her purchasers as more likely to be productive than the wages of
prostitution, she is allowed to quit the brothel uninjured, but under a
compact to devote the profits of her industry and skill to the support
of her cruel oppressors.

The mild fortitude and resignation which she exhibits during this
humiliating state of servitude, and the simple dignity which she
displays in her person and manners, are forcibly delineated in the
following observations of Pericles, who, roused from his torpor by her
figure, voice, and features, and interested in her narrative, thus
addresses her:—

    "Pr'ythee speak;
     Falseness cannot come from thee, for thou look'st
     Modest as justice, and thou seem'st a palace
     For the crown'd truth to dwell in:—"yea" thou dost look
     Like Patience, gazing on king's graves and smiling
     Extremity out of act:"[279:A]

a picture which is rendered yet more touching by a subsequent trait;
for Lysimachus informs us

    "———————— she would never tell
     Her parentage; being demanded that,
     She would sit still and weep."[279:B]

To this delightful sketch of female tenderness and subdued suffering,
nearly all the interest of the last two acts is to be ascribed, and we
feel, therefore, highly gratified that sorrows so unmerited, and so
well borne, should, at length, terminate not only in repose, but in
positive happiness. The poet, indeed, has allotted strict retributory
justice to all his characters; the bad are severely punished, while in
Pericles and his daughter, we behold

    "Virtue preserv'd from fell destruction's blast,
     Led on by heaven, and crown'd with joy at last."[279:C]

To whom, may it now be asked, if not to Shakspeare, can this play with
any probability be given? Has not the above slight analysis of its two
principal characters, with the quotations necessarily adduced, fully
convinced us, that in style, sentiment, and imagery, and in the outline
and conception of its chief female personage, the hand of our great
master is undeniably displayed?

We presume, therefore, both the _external_ and _internal evidence_
for much the greater part of this play being the _composition of
Shakspeare_ may be pronounced complete and unanswerable; and it now
only remains to enquire, if there be sufficient ground for considering
_Pericles_, as we have ventured to do in this arrangement, as the
_FIRST dramatic production_ of our author's pen.

It is very extraordinary that the positive testimony of Dryden as to
the _priority_ of _Pericles_, especially if we weigh well the import
of the context, should ever have admitted of a moment's doubt or
controversy. Nothing can, we think, be more plainly declaratory than
the lines in question, which shall be given at length:—

    "Your Ben and Fletcher in their _first young flight_,
     Did no _Volpone_, no _Arbaces_ write:
     But hopp'd about, and short excursions made
     From bough to bough, as if they were afraid;
     And each were guilty of some _Slighted Maid_.
     _Shakspeare's own muse his Pericles FIRST bore_;
     The _Prince of Tyre_ was elder than _The Moor_:
     'Tis miracle to see a _first_ good _play_;
     All hawthorns do not bloom on Christmas-day.
     A slender poet must have time to grow,
     And spread and burnish, as his brothers do:
     Who still looks lean, sure with some p— is curst,
     But no man can be Falstaff fat at _first_."[281:A]

This passage, if it mean any thing, must imply, not only from the
bare assertion of one line, but from all the accessory matter, that
_Pericles_ was the first _young flight_ of Shakspeare, that it was
_the first offspring of his dramatic muse_, his _first play_. That
this _was_ the meaning of Dryden, and not merely that _Pericles_ was
produced before _Othello_, will be further evident from recollecting
the occasion of the Prologue whence these lines are taken. It was
written to introduce the _first_ play of Dr. Charles D'Avenant, then
only nineteen years of age, and the bard expressly calls it _"the
blossom of his green years," the "rude essay of a youthful poet,
who may grow up to write,"_ expressions which can assimilate it with
_Pericles_ only on the supposition that the latter was, like _Circe_, a
_firstling_ of dramatic genius.

That Dryden, who wrote this prologue in 1675, possessed, from
his approximation to the age of Shakspeare, many advantages for
ascertaining the truth, none will deny. When the former had attained
the age of twenty, the latter had been dead but thirty-five years, and
the subsequent connection of the modern bard with the stage, and his
intimacy with Sir William D'Avenant, who had produced his first play
in 1629, and had been well acquainted with Heminge and the surviving
companions of Shakspeare, would furnish him with sufficient _data_ for
his assertion, independent of any reliance on the similar declarations
of Shepherd and Tatham.

Taking the statement of Dryden, therefore, as a disclosure of the fact,
it follows, of course, from what has been previously said on the epoch
of Shakspeare's commencement as a dramatic writer, that _Pericles_ must
be referred to the autumn of the year 1590, an assignment which the
consideration of a few particulars will tend to corroborate.

In the first place, it may be remarked, that the numerous _dumb shows_
of this play, are of themselves a striking presumptive proof of its
antiquity, indicating that Shakspeare, who subsequently laughed at
these clumsy expedients, thought it necessary, at the opening of his
career, to fall in with the fashion of the times, with a fashion which
had reigned from the earliest establishment of our stage, which was
still in vogue in 1590, but soon after this period became an object of
ridicule, and began to decline.

Mr. Malone has remarked, that from the manner in which _Pericles_ is
mentioned in a metrical pamphlet, entitled _Pimlyco or Runne Red-cap_,
1609, there is reason to conclude that it is coëval with the old play
of _Jane Shore_[282:A]; and this latter being noticed by Beaumont and
Fletcher in conjunction with _The Bold Beauchamps_[282:B], a production
which D'Avenant classes, in point of age, with _Tamburlaine_ and
_Faustus_[282:C], pieces which appeared in or before 1590, he infers,
perhaps not injudiciously, that _Pericles_ has a claim to similar
antiquity, and should be ascribed to the year 1590.[283:A]

But a still stronger conclusion in favour of the date which, we think,
should be assigned to _Pericles_, may be drawn from a suggestion of
Mr. Steevens, which has not perhaps been sufficiently considered. This
gentleman contends, that Shakspeare's Prince of Tyre was originally
named _Pyroclés_, after the hero of Sidney's Arcadia, the character,
as he justly observes, not bearing the smallest affinity to that of
the Athenian statesman. "It is remarkable," says he, "that many of our
ancient writers were ambitious to exhibit Sidney's worthies on the
stage: and when his subordinate agents were advanced to such honour,
how happened it that _Pyrocles_, their leader, should be overlooked?
Musidorus (his companion), Argalus and Parthenia, Phalantus and
Eudora, Andromana, &c. furnished titles for different tragedies; and
perhaps _Pyrocles_, in the present instance, was defrauded of a like
distinction. The names invented or employed by Sidney, had once such
popularity, that they were sometimes borrowed by poets who did not
profess to follow the direct current of his fables, or attend to the
strict preservation of his characters.—I must add, that the _Appolyn_
of the Story-book and Gower could have been rejected only to make
room for a more favourite name; yet, however conciliating the name
of _Pyrocles_ might have been, that of _Pericles_ could challenge no
advantage with regard to general predilection.—All circumstances
therefore considered, it is not improbable that our author designed
his chief character to be called _Pyrocles_, not _Pericles_, however
ignorance or accident might have shuffled the latter (a name of almost
similar sound) into the place of the former."[283:B]

The probability of this happy conjecture will amount almost to
certainty, if we diligently compare _Pericles_ with the _Pyrocles_ of
the _Arcadia_; the same romantic, versatile, and sensitive disposition
is ascribed to both characters, and several of the incidents
pertaining to the latter are found mingled with the adventures of
the former personage, while, throughout the play, the obligations of
its author to various other parts of the romance may be frequently
and distinctly traced, not only in the assumption of an image or a
sentiment, but in the adoption of the very words of his once popular
predecessor, proving incontestably the poet's familiarity with and
study of the _Arcadia_ to have been very considerable.[284:A]

Now this work of Sidney, commenced in 1580, was corrected and published
by his sister the Countess of Pembroke, in 1590, and the admiration
which it immediately excited would naturally induce a young actor,
then meditating his first essay in dramatic poetry, instantly to avail
himself of its popularity, and, by appropriating the appellation of its
principal hero, fix the attention of the public. That Shakspeare long
preserved his attachment to the _Arcadia_, is evident from his _King
Lear_, where the episode of Gloster and his sons is plainly copied from
the first edition of this romance.[284:B]

The date assigned to _Pericles_, on this foundation, being admitted,
it follows of course, that Shakspeare could not have had time to
improve upon the sketch of a predecessor; and yet from the texture of
some parts of the composition, we are compelled to infer, that in this
first effort in dramatic poetry, he must have condescended to accept
the assistance of a friend, whose inferiority to himself is distinctly
visible through the greater part of the first two acts, a position
the probability of which seems to have induced Mr. Steevens to yield
his assent to Dryden's assertion. "In one light, indeed, I am ready,"
remarks this acute commentator, "to allow _Pericles_ was our poet's
_first_ attempt. Before he was satisfied with his own strength, and
trusted himself to the publick, he might have tried his hand with a
_partner_, and entered the theatre in disguise. Before he ventured to
face an audience on the stage, it was natural that he should peep at
them through the curtain."[285:A]

The objections which have been made to this _priority_ of _Pericles_
in point of time, may be reduced to three, of which the first is drawn
from the non-enumeration of the play by Meres, when giving a list
of our poet's dramas, in 1598.[285:B] But if it were the object of
Shakspeare and his coadjutor to lie concealed from the public eye,
of which there can be little doubt, since the former, as hath been
remarked, having never owned his share in it, or supposing it to be
forgotten, was afterwards willing to profit by the most valuable
lines and ideas it contained[285:C], the omission of Meres is easily
accounted for; yet granting that our author had been well known as
the chief writer of _Pericles_, the validity of the objection is not
thereby established, for we find in this catalogue neither the play
of _King Henry the Sixth_, in any of its parts, nor the tragedy of
_Hamlet_, pieces undoubtedly written and performed before the year 1598.

A second objection is founded on the title-page of the first edition
of _Pericles_, published in 1609, where this drama is termed "the
_late_ and much admired play."[285:D] It is obvious that from a word so
indefinite in its signification as _late_, whether taken adverbially or
adjectively, nothing decisive can result. To a play written eighteen
years before, the lexicographic definitions of the term in question,
namely, _in times past_, _not long ago_, _not far from the present_,
may, without doubt, justly apply; but we must also add, that it is
uncertain whether the word is meant to refer to the period of the
composition of the play, or to the date of its last representation;
_lately performed_ being most probably the sense in which the editor
intended to be understood.

Lastly, Mr. Douce is of opinion that three of the devices of the
knights in act the second, scene the second, of _Pericles_, are copied
from a translation of the _Heroicall Devises of Paradin and Symeon_,
printed in 1591, which, if correct, would necessarily bring forward the
date of the play either to this or the subsequent year; but from this
difficulty we are relieved even by Mr. Douce himself, who owns that two
out of the three are to be found in _Whitney's Emblems_, published in
1586, a confession which leads us to infer that the third may have an
equally early origin.[286:A]

From the extensive survey which has now been taken of the merits and
supposed era of this early drama, the reader, it is probable, will
gather sufficient _data_ for concluding that by far _the greater part
of it issued from the pen of Shakspeare_, that _it was his first
dramatic production_, that _it appeared towards the close of the
year 1590_, and that _it deserves to be removed from the Appendix
to the editions of Shakspeare, where it has hitherto appeared, and
incorporated in the body of his works_.

2. COMEDY OF ERRORS, 1591. That this play should be ascribed to
the year 1591, and not to 1593, or 1596, has, we think, been fully
established by Mr. Chalmers[286:B], to whom, therefore, the reader
is referred, with this additional observation, that, from an account
published in the _British Bibliographer_, of an interlude, named
_Jacke Jugeler_, which was entered in the Stationers' books in 1562-3,
it appears that the _Menæchmi_ of Plautus, on which this comedy is
founded, "was, in part at least, known at a very early period upon the
English stage[286:C]," a further proof that versions or imitations of
it had been in existence long prior to Warner's translation in 1595.

As the _Comedy of Errors_ is one of the few plays of Shakspeare
mentioned by _Meres_ in 1598, and as we shall have occasion to refer
more than once to the catalogue of this critic, it will be necessary,
before we proceed farther in our arrangement, to give a transcript of
this short but interesting article. It is taken from his "Palladis
Tamia. Wit's Treasury. Being the second part of Wit's Common Wealth,"
1598, and from that part of it entitled "A comparative discourse of our
English Poets, with the Greeke, Latine, and Italian Poets."

"As Plautus and Seneca are accounted the best for comedy and tragedy
among the Latines, so Shakspeare, among y{e} English, is the most
excellent in both kinds for the stage; for comedy, witness his
Gẽtlemẽ of Verona, his Errors, his Love Labor's Lost, his Love Labour's
Wonne, his Midsummer's-Night Dreame, and his Merchant of Venice: for
tragedy, his Richard the 2. Richard the 3. Henry the 4. King John,
Titus Andronicus, and his Romeo and Juliet."[287:A]

Some of the commentators, and more particularly Ritson and Steevens,
have positively pronounced this play to have been originally the
composition of a writer anterior to Shakspeare, and that it merely
received some embellishments from our poet's pen: "On a careful
revision of the foregoing scenes," says the latter gentleman, "I do not
hesitate to pronounce them the composition of two very unequal writers.
Shakspeare had undoubtedly a share in them; but that the entire play
was no work of his, is an opinion which (as Benedick says) 'fire
cannot melt out of me; I will die in it at the stake.' Thus, as we are
informed by Aulus Gellius, lib. iii. cap. 3. some plays were absolutely
ascribed to Plautus which in truth had only been (_retractatæ_ et
_expolitæ_) retouched and polished by him."[287:B]

We have frequently occasion to admire the wit, the classical elegance,
and the ingenuity of Mr. Steevens, but we have often also to regret the
force of his prejudices, and the unqualified dogmatism of his critical
opinions. That the business of the _Comedy of Errors_ is better
calculated for farce than for legitimate comedy, cannot be denied; and
it must also be confessed that the doggrel verses attributed to the
two Dromios, contribute little to the humour or value of the piece;
but let us, at the same time, recollect, that the admission of the
latter was in conformity to the custom of the age in which this play
was produced[288:A], and that the former, though perplexed and somewhat
improbable[288:B], possesses no small share of entertainment.

This drama of Shakspeare is, in fact, much more varied, rich, and
interesting in its incidents, than the _Menæchmi_ of Plautus; and while
in rigid adherence to the unities of action, time, and place, our poet
rivals the Roman play, he has contrived to insinuate the necessary
previous information for the spectator, in a manner infinitely more
pleasing and artful than that adopted by the Latin bard, for whilst
Plautus has chosen to convey it through the medium of a prologue,
Shakspeare has rendered it at once natural and pathetic, by placing it
in the mouth of Ægeon, the father of the twin brothers.

In a play of which the plot is so intricate, occupied in a great
measure by mere personal mistakes, and their whimsical results, no
elaborate developement of character can be expected; yet is the
portrait of Ægeon touched with a discriminative hand, and the pressure
of age and misfortune is so painted, as to throw a solemn, dignified,
and impressive tone of colouring over this part of the fable,
contrasting well with the lighter scenes which immediately follow, a
mode of relief which is again resorted to at the close of the drama,
where the re-union of Ægeon and Æmilia, and the recognition of their
children, produce an interest in the denouëment, of a nature more
affecting than the tone of the preceding scenes had taught us to expect.

As to the comic action which constitutes the chief bulk of this piece,
if it be true that to excite laughter, awaken attention, and fix
curiosity, be essential to its dramatic excellence, the _Comedy of
Errors_ cannot be pronounced an unsuccessful effort; both reader and
spectator are hurried on to the close, through a series of thick-coming
incidents, and under the pleasurable influence of novelty, expectation,
and surprise; and the dialogue, so far from betraying the inequalities
complained of by Ritson and Steevens, is uniformly vivacious, pointed,
and even effervescing. Shakspeare is visible, in fact, throughout the
entire play, as well in the broad exuberance of its mirth, as in the
cast of its more chastised parts, a combination of which may be found
in the punishment and character of Pinch the pedagogue and conjurer,
who is sketched in the strongest and most marked style of our author.

If we consider, therefore, the construction of the fable, the
narrowness of its basis, and that its powers of entertainment are
almost exclusively confined to a continued deception of the external
senses, we must confess that Shakspeare has not only improved on the
Plautian model, but, making allowance for a somewhat too coarse vein of
humour, has given to his production all the interest and variety that
the nature and the limits of his subject would permit.

3. LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST: 1591. In the first edition of Mr. Malone's
Chronological Essay on Shakspeare's Plays, which was published in
January, 1778, the year 1591 is the date assigned to this drama,
an epoch, which, in the re-impression of 1793, was changed in the
catalogue for the subsequent era of 1594, though the reasons given for
this alteration appeared so inconclusive to the chronologist himself,
that he ventures in the text merely to say,—"I think it probable,
that our author's first draft of this play was written in or _before_
1594[289:A]," a mode of expression which leaves as much authority
to the former as the latter date. In short, the only motive brought
forward for the present locality of this piece in Mr. Malone's list,
where it appears posterior to _A Midsummer-Night's Dream_, the _Comedy
of Errors_, and _The Taming of the Shrew_, is, that there is more
attempt at delineation of character in it than in either the first
or second of the plays just mentioned[290:A], a reason which loses
all its weight the moment we seriously contrast this comedy with its
supposed predecessors, for who would then think of assigning to the
very slight sketches of Biron and Katharine, any mark of improvement,
either in poetic or dramatic strength, over the imaginative powers
of the _Midsummer-Night's Dream_, or the strong, broad, and often
characteristic outlines of _The Taming of the Shrew_!

The construction, indeed, of the whole play, the variety of its
versification, the abundancy of its rhymes, and the length and
frequency of its doggrel lines, very clearly prove this comedy to be
one of our author's very earliest compositions; indications which
_originally_ disposed Mr. Malone to give it to the year which we have
adopted, and which induced Mr. Chalmers to assign it to 1592, though
why he prefers this year to the preceding does not appear.

Of _Love's Labour's Lost_, as it was performed in the year 1591, we
possess no exact transcript; for, in the oldest edition which has
hitherto been found of this play, namely that of 1598, it is said in
the title-page to be _newly corrected and augmented_, with the further
information, that it had been _presented before Her Highness the last
Christmas_; facts which show, that we are in possession not of the
first draft or edition of this comedy, but only of that copy which
represents it as it was _revived_ and _improved_ for the entertainment
of the Queen, in 1597.

The _original sketch_, whether printed or merely performed, we conceive
to have been one of the pieces alluded to by Greene, in 1592, when he
accuses Shakspeare of being _an absolute Johannes fac-totum_ of the
stage, _primarily_ and _principally_ from the mode of its execution,
which, as we have already observed, betrays the earliness of its
source in the strongest manner; _secondarily_, that, like _Pericles_,
it occasionally copies the language of the _Arcadia_, then with all
the attractive _novelty_ of its reputation in full bloom[291:A], and
_thirdly_, that in the fifth act, various allusions to the Muscovites
or Russians, seem evidently to point to a period when Russia and its
inhabitants attracted the public consideration, a period which we find,
from Hackluyt[291:B], to have occupied the years 1590 and 1591, when,
as Warburton and Chalmers have observed, the arrangement of Russian
commerce engaged very particularly the attention, and formed the
conversation, of the court, the city, and the country.[291:C]

It may be also remarked, that while no play among our author's works
exhibits more decisive marks of juvenility than _Love's Labour's Lost_,
none, at the same time, is more strongly imbued with the peculiar cast
of his youthful genius; for in style and manner, it bears a closer
resemblance to the _Venus and Adonis_, the _Rape of Lucrece_, and the
_earlier Sonnets_, than any other of his genuine dramas. It presents
us, in short, with a continued contest of wit and repartee, the persons
represented, whether high or low, vying with each other, throughout
the piece, in the production of the greatest number of jokes, sallies,
and verbal equivoques. The profusion with which these are every-where
scattered, has, unfortunately, had the effect of throwing an air of
uniformity over all the characters, who seem solely intent on keeping
up the ball of raillery; yet is _Biron_ now and then discriminated
by a few strong touches, and _Holofernes_ is probably the portrait
of an individual, some of his quotations having justly induced the
commentators to infer, that _Florio_, the author of _First_ and _Second
Fruits_, dialogues in Italian and English, and of a _Dictionary_,
entitled _A World of Words_, was the object of the poet's satire.

If in dramatic strength of painting this comedy be deficient, and
it appears to us, in this quality, inferior to _Pericles_, we
must, independent of the vivacity of its dialogue already noticed,
acknowledge, that it displays several poetical gems, that it contains
many just moral apophthegms, and that it affords, even in the closet,
no small fund of amusement; and here it is worthy of being remarked,
and may, indeed, without prejudice or prepossession, be asserted, that,
even to the earliest and most unfinished dramas of our poet, a peculiar
interest is felt to be attached, not arising from the fascination of a
name, but from an intrinsic and almost inexplicable power of pleasing,
which we in vain look for in the juvenile plays of other bards, and
which serves, perhaps better than any other criterion, to ascertain the
genuine property of Shakspeare; it is, in fact, a touchstone, which,
when applied to _Titus Andronicus_, and what has been termed the _First
Part_ of Henry the Sixth, must, if every other evidence were wanting,
flash conviction on our senses.



It will be immediately perceived that this arrangement is intended to
exclude what has very improperly, in modern times, been ascribed to
Shakspeare as the _First Part_ of HIS King Henry the Sixth.
The spuriousness of this part, indeed, has been so satisfactorily
proved by Mr. Malone, that no doubt can be supposed any longer to
rest on the subject; and, if any lingered, it would be still further
shaken by what has since transpired; for, from the discovery of Mr.
Henslowe's Accounts, at Dulwich College, it appears that this play
was never entitled, as Mr. Malone had conjectured, to its present
appellation, but was simply styled as it is here entered, _Henry the
Sixth_, and had no connection with the subsequent plays of Peele
and Marlowe on the same reign. The entry is dated the 3d of March,
1591, and the play being the property of Lord Strange's company, and
performed at the Rose theatre, with neither of which Shakspeare had,
at any time, the smallest connection, render the external testimony
still more confirmatory of Mr. Malone's position, as to the antiquity,
priority, and insulated origin of this drama.[292:A] The internal
evidence, however, is quite sufficient for the purpose; for the
hand of Shakspeare is nowhere visible throughout the entire of this
"Drum-and-trumpet-Thing," as Mr. Morgan has justly termed it.[293:A]
Yet that our author, subsequent to his re-modelling _The first Part of
the Contention_, and _The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of Yorke_, might
alter the arrangement, or slightly correct the diction of this play,
is very possible,—an interference, however trivial, which probably
induced the editors of the first folio, from the period in which this
design was executed, to _register_ it with Shakspeare's undisputed
plays, under the improper title of _The Third Part of King Henry the

As this drama therefore, which we hold to contain not ten lines of
Shakspeare's composition, was, when originally produced, called _The
Play of Henry the VI._, and in 1623, registered _The Third Part of
King Henry the VI._; though, in the folio published during the same
year, it was then for the _first_ time named the _first_ part, would
it not be allowable to infer, that the two plays which our poet
built on the foundations of Marlowe, or perhaps Marlowe, Peele, and
Greene, though not printed before they appeared in the folio, were
yet termed, not as they are designated in the modern editions, the
_second_ and _third_ parts, but as we have here called them, the
_first_ and _second_ parts? Such, in fact, appears to have been the
case; for, since the publication of Mr. Malone's Essay, an entry on
the Stationers' Registers has been discovered[293:C], made by Tho.
Pavier, and dated April, 19th, 1602, of "The 1st and 2d pts of Henry
VI. ij. books[294:A];" which entry, whether it be supposed to apply
to the original _Contention_ and _True Tragedy_, or to an intended
edition of the same plays as altered by Shakspeare, clearly proves,
that this designation of _first_ and _second_ was here given either to
the primary or secondary set of these two plays, and, if applied to one
set, would necessarily be applicable to, and used in speaking of, the

These two plays then, founded on _The First Part of the Contention of
the Two famous Houses of Yorke and Lancaster_, and on the _Second_,
or _The true Tragedie of Richard Duke of Yorke_, written by Marlowe
and his friends about the year 1590[294:B], we conceive to have been
brought forward by Shakspeare with great and numerous improvements, in

The vacillation of the commentators in determining the era of our
author's two parts of _Henry the Sixth_, has been very extraordinary.
The year 1592 was fixed upon in 1778; this, in 1793, was changed to
1593, or 1594; and in 1803, to 1591; while Mr. Chalmers, in 1799, had
adopted the date of 1595!

That these plays had received their new dress from the hand of
Shakspeare, previous to September, 1592, is, we think, irreversibly
established by Greene's parody, in his _Groatsworth of Wit_, on a
line in the second of these productions, an allusion which, with the
context, can neither be set aside nor misapplied: that they were thus
re-modelled in 1592, rather than in 1591, will appear highly probable,
when we reflect that, in the passage where this parody is found,
Shakspeare is termed, in reference to the stage, _an absolute Johannes
factotum_, an epithet which, as we have before remarked, implies that
our poet had written and altered several pieces before that period, and
had the two parts of _Henry the Sixth_ been early in the series, that
is, immediately subsequent to _Pericles_, the indignation of Greene,
no doubt, had been sooner expressed; for we find him writing with
great warmth, under a sense of recent injury, and under the pressure
of mortal disease; "albeit weakness," says he, "will scarce suffer me
to write;" a time which certainly would not have been chosen for the
annunciation of his anger, had the supposed offence been given, and it
must have been known as soon as committed, a year or two before. We
feel confident, therefore, from this chain of argument, that the _two
parts_ of _Henry the Sixth_ included in our catalogue, were not brought
on the stage before 1592, and then only just in time to enable poor
Greene to express his sentiments ere he left this sublunary scene.

The plan which Mr. Malone has adopted in printing these plays, that
of distinguishing the amended and absolutely new passages from the
original and comparatively meagre text of Marlowe and his coadjutors,
seems to have been caught from a hint dropped by Mr. Maurice Morgan,
who, speaking of these _two_ parts of Henry VI., observes, that "they
have certainly received what may be called a _thorough repair_.—I
should conceive, it would not be very difficult to feel one's way
through these plays, and distinguish every where the metal from the

It will not be denied that the task thus suggested, has been carried
into execution with much skill and discrimination, and furnishes
a curious proof of the plastic genius and extraordinary powers of
adaptation with which our poet was gifted in the very dawn of his
career. Compared with the pieces which he had hitherto produced, a
style of far greater dignity, severity, and tragic modulation, was
to be formed, and accordingly those portions of these plays which
emanated solely or in a high degree from the mind of Shakspeare,
will be found in many instances even not inferior to the best parts
of his latest and most finished works, while, at the same time, they
harmonise sufficiently with the general tone of his predecessors, to
preclude any flagrant breach of unity and consistency in the character
of the diction and versification, though, to a practised critic, the
superiority of our author, both in the fluency of his metre, and the
beauty and facility of his expression, may be readily discerned.

Contrary to the common opinion, a strong and correct delineation of
character appears to us the most striking feature in the two parts of
this historical drama. That sainted, but powerless phantom, Henry of
Lancaster, interests our feelings, notwithstanding the imbecillities
of his public conduct, by the pious endurance of his sufferings, and
the philosophic pathos of his sentiments. How much his patient sorrow
and plaintive morality, depicted as they are amid the desolations of
warfare, arrest and fascinate our attention by the power of contrast,
perhaps no apathy can refuse to acknowledge. Mournfully sweet, indeed,
are the strains which flow from this unhappy monarch, when, for an
instant retired from the horrors of the Field of Towton, he pours forth
the anguish of his soul, and closes his reflections with a picture of
rural repose, glowing with such a mellow and lovely light amid the
shades of regal misery which surround it, as to awaken sensations that
steal through the bosom with a holy and delicious warmth.

Between this character, and that of Richard of Gloucester in the same
play, what a strength of contrast! so decided is the opposition,
indeed, that not a shadow, not an atom of assimilation exists. The
ferocious wickedness of this hypocritical and sarcastic villain is as
vividly and distinctly drawn in the _Second_ or _Last Part of Henry
the Sixth_ as in the tragedy of _Richard the Third_, the soliloquies
in Acts the third and fifth as clearly developing the structure of his
mind as any scene of the play distinguished by his regal title.

Nor do the other leading personages of these dramas exhibit less
striking touches of the strong characterisation peculiar to our poet.
The portraits of King Edward, and Queen Margaret, of the Dukes of
York and Warwick, of Humphrey of Gloster and Cardinal Beaufort, are
alike faithful to history and to nature, while the death of the
ambitious prelate is unparalleled for its awful sublimity, its terrific
delineation of a tortured conscience; a scene, of which the impressions
are so overpowering, that, to adopt the language of Dr. Johnson, "the
superficial reader cannot miss them, the profound can image nothing
beyond them."[297:A]

As these two parts, therefore, whether we consider the original text,
or the numerous alterations and additions of Shakspeare, hold a rank
greatly superior to the elder play of

    "Henry the sixth in swaddling bands crown'd king,"

a production which, at the same time, offers no trace of any finishing
strokes from the master-bard, it would be but doing justice to the
original design of Shakspeare to insert for the future in his works
only the two pieces which he remodelled, designating them as they
are found in this arrangement, and which seems, indeed, merely a
restoration of their first titles. This may the more readily be done,
as there appears no necessary connection between the elder drama, and
those of Shakspeare on the same reign; whereas between the two plays of
our author, and between them and his _Richard the Third_, not only an
intimate union, but a regular series of unbroken action subsists.

If, however, it should be thought convenient to have the old play of
_Henry the Sixth_ within the reach of reference, let it be placed
in an Appendix to the poet's works, dislodging for that purpose the
disgusting Tragedy of _Titus Andronicus_, which has hitherto, to
the disgrace of our national literature, and of our noblest writer,
accompanied every edition aspiring to be complete, from the folio of
1623 to the re-impression of 1813!

5. A MIDSUMMER-NIGHT'S DREAM: 1593. In endeavouring to ascertain the
order in which Shakspeare's plays were written, it would seem a duty,
on the part of the chronologist, where no passage positively indicates
the contrary, not to attribute to the poet the composition of several
pieces during the course of the same year; for, admitting the fertility
of our author to have been, what it unquestionably was, very great,
still, without some certain date annihilating all room for conjecture,
it would be a gross violation of probability to ascribe even to him the
production of _four_ or even _three_ of his capital productions, and
such productions too, in the space of but twelve months. This, however,
has been done, in their respective arrangements, twice by Mr. Malone,
and six times by Mr. Chalmers, the latter gentleman having allotted to
our dramatist not less than seventeen plays in the course of only five
years! Surely such an attribution is, of itself, sufficient to stagger
the most willing credulity, particularly when we find that, during the
course of this period, occupying the years 1595, 1596, 1597, 1598, and
1599, four such plays as the following are appropriated to one year,
that of 1597,—_Henry IV. the Second Part_, _Henry V._, _The Merchant
of Venice_, and _Hamlet_. Now as these pieces, so far from resembling
the light and rapid sketches of Lopez de la Vega or of Heywood, are
among the most elaborate of our author's productions, and as no data
with any pretensions to certainty can be adduced for the assignment
in question, we must be allowed, notwithstanding the ingenuity and
indefatigable research of Mr. Chalmers, to doubt the propriety of his
chronological system.[298:A]

Acting, therefore, on this idea, that where no _decisive_ evidence to
the contrary is apparent, not more than two plays should be assigned
to our bard in the compass of one year, and being firmly persuaded,
from the argument which has been brought forward, that the _two
parts_ of _Henry the Sixth_ were the product of the year 1592, while,
at the same time, we agree with the majority of the commentators in
considering the _Midsummer-Night's Dream_ as an early composition,
it has been thought most consonant to probability to give to the
latter, in lieu of the epoch of 1592, or 1595, or 1598, its present
intermediate station; and this has been done, even though the plays on
Henry the Sixth, being built on the basis of other writers, cannot be
supposed to have occupied so much of the poet's time as more original

The _Midsummer-Night's Dream_, then, is the first play which exhibits
the imagination of Shakspeare in all its fervid and creative power;
for though, as mentioned in Meres's catalogue, as having numerous
scenes of continued rhyme, as being barren in fable, and defective in
strength of character, it may be pronounced the offspring of youth and
inexperience, it will ever in point of fancy be considered as equal to
any subsequent drama of the poet.

There is, however, a light in which the best plays of Shakspeare
should be viewed, which will, in fact, convert the supposed defects of
this exquisite sally of sportive invention into positive excellence.
A _unity of feeling_ most remarkably pervades and regulates their
entire structure, and the _Midsummer-Night's Dream_, a title in itself
declaratory of the poet's object and aim, partakes of this bond, or
principle of coalescence, in a very peculiar degree. It is, indeed,
a fabric of the most buoyant and aërial texture, floating as it were
between earth and heaven, and tinted with all the magic colouring of
the rainbow,

    "The earth hath bubbles as the water has,
     And this is of them."

In a piece thus constituted, where the imagery of the most wild and
fantastic dream is actually embodied before our eyes, where the
principal agency is carried on by beings lighter than the gossamer, and
smaller than the cowslip's bell, whose elements are the moon-beams and
the odoriferous atmosphere of flowers, and whose sport it is

    "To dance in ringlets on the whistling wind,"

it was necessary, in order to give a filmy and consistent legerity
to every part of the play, that the human agents should partake of
the same evanescent and visionary character; accordingly both the
higher and lower personages of this drama are the subjects of illusion
and enchantment, and love and amusement their sole occupation;
the transient perplexities of thwarted passion, and the grotesque
adventures of humorous folly, touched as they are with the tenderest
or most frolic pencil, blending admirably with the wild, sportive, and
romantic tone of the scenes where

    "Trip the light fairies and the dapper elves,"

and forming together a whole so variously yet so happily interwoven,
so racy and effervescent in its composition, of such exquisite levity
and transparency, and glowing with such luxurious and phosphorescent
splendour, as to be perfectly without a rival in dramatic literature.

Nor is this piece, though, from the nature of its fable, unproductive
of any _strong_ character, without many pleasing discriminations of
passion and feeling. Mr. Malone asks if "a single passion be agitated
by the faint and childish solicitudes of Hermia and Demetrius, of
Helena and Lysander, those shadows of each other?"[300:A] Now, whatever
may be thought of Demetrius and Lysander, the characters of Hermia and
Helena are beautifully drawn, and finely contrasted, and in much of the
dialogue which occurs between them, the chords both of love and pity
are touched with the poet's wonted skill. In their interview in the
wood, the contrariety of their dispositions is completely developed;
Hermia is represented as

    ————————— "keen and shrewd:
    —— a vixen, when she went to school,
    And, though but little, fierce,"

and in her difference with her friend, threatens to scratch her eyes
out with her nails, while Helena, meek, humble, and retired, sues for
protection, and endeavours in the most gentle manner to deprecate her

    "I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen,
     Let her not hurt me: I was never curst;
     I have no gift at all in shrewishness;
     I am a right maid for my cowardice;
     Let her not strike me:——
     Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with me.
     I evermore did love you, Hermia,
     Did ever keep your counsels, never wrong'd you;—
     And now, so you will let me quiet go,
     To Athens will I bear my folly back,
     And follow you no further: Let me go:
     You see how simple and how fond I am."

And in an earlier part of this scene, where Helena first suspects that
her friend had conspired with Demetrius and Lysander to mock and deride
her, nothing can more exquisitely paint her affectionate temper, and
the heartfelt pangs of severing friendship, than the following lines,
most touching in their appeal, an echo from the very bosom of nature

    "Injurious Hermia! most ungrateful maid!—
     Is all the counsel that we two have shar'd,
     The sister's vows, the hours that we have spent,
     When we have chid the hasty-footed time
     For parting us,—O, and is all forgot?
     All school-day's friendship, childhood innocence?
     We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,
     Have with our neelds created both one flower,
     Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,
     Both warbling of one song, both in one key;
     As if our hands, our sides, voices, and minds,
     Had been incorporate. So we grew together,
     Like to a double cherry, seeming parted;
     But yet a union in partition,
     Two lovely berries moulded on one stem:
     So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart;—
     And will you rent our ancient love asunder,
     To join with men in scorning your poor friend?
     It is not friendly, 'tis not maidenly:
     Our sex, as well as I, may chide you for it;
     Though I alone do feel the injury."

Of the _Fairy Mythology_ which constitutes the principal and most
efficient part of this beautiful drama, it is the more necessary that
we should take particular notice, as it forms not only a chief feature
of the superstitions of the age, but was, in fact, re-modelled and
improved by the genius of our poet.

The utmost confusion has in general overshadowed this subject, from
mixing the _Oriental_ with the _Gothic_ system of fabling, the
voluptuous or monstrous Fairies of eastern and southern romance, with
those of the popular superstition of the north of Europe; two races
in all their features remarkably distinct, and productive of two very
opposite styles both of imagery and literature.

The poets and romance writers of Spain, Italy, and France, have
evidently derived the imaginary beings whom they term _Fairies_,
whether of the benignant or malignant species, from the mythology of
Persia and Arabia. The channel for this stream of fiction was long
open through the medium of the crusades, and the dominion of the Moors
of Spain, more especially when the language of these invaders became,
during the middle ages, the vehicle of science and general information.
Hence we find the strongest affinity between the _Peri_ and _Dives_ of
the Persians, and the two orders of the _Genii_ of the Arabians, and
the _Fairies_ and _Demons_ of the south of Europe.

The _Peri_, or as the word would be pronounced in Arabic, the _Fairi_,
of the Persians, are represented as females of the most exquisite
beauty, uniformly kind and benevolent in their disposition, of
the human form and size, and, though not limited to our transient
existence, subject to death. They are supposed to inhabit a region of
their own, to play in the plighted clouds, to luxuriate in the hues of
the rainbow, and to live upon the exhalations of the jessamine and the

Contrasted with these lovely essences, the _Dives_ are described
as males of the most hideous aspect and ferocious temper; in their
stature, monstrous, deformed, and abominable; in their habits, wicked,
cruel, and unrelenting.

Very similar in their attributes, but with less beauty and brilliancy
in the delineation of the amiable species, were the _good_ and _bad
Genii_ of the Arabians; and, as in Persia, a _Genistan_, or Fairy-land,
was allotted to the benignant class.

From these sources, then, is to be deduced that tone of fiction which
pervades the romantic and poetical literature of the warmer European
climates, especially in all that relates to the fair and beautiful
of Oriental conception. In the _Fairies_ of BOIARDO and
ARIOSTO, in the metrical and prose romances of France and
Spain, and in the Lays of MARIE; in their _Fata Morgana_,
_Urgande_, and _Mourgue La Faye_, and in the _superhuman mistresses_
of _Sir Launfale_ and _Sir Gruelan_, we readily discern their Persian
prototype, the Peri, _Mergian Banou_.[303:B]

And to this cast of fiction, derived through the medium of the
Italians, was _Spenser_ indebted for the form and colouring which he
has appropriated to his Fairies; beings, however, still more aloof
from the Gothic popular elves than even the supernatural agents of
the bards of Italy, as connecting with their orientalism, a continued
allegorical, and, consequently, a totally abstract character.

For the origin, therefore, or _prima stamina_ of the _Fairies of
Shakspeare_, and of _British popular tradition_, we must turn to a
very different quarter, even so far northward as to _Scandinavia_,
the land of our Gothic progenitors. The establishment of the two
kingdoms of the Ostrogoths and Wisigoths, on the shores of the
Euxine Sea, by colonies from the Scandick peninsula, took place at a
very early period, and the consequence of these settlements was the
speedy invasion and conquest of the southern provinces of the Roman
empire; for Denmark and Germany having submitted to the arms of the
Goths, these restless warriors seized upon Spain in 409, entered
Italy and captured Rome in 410, invaded France in 412, and commenced
their conquest of England in 447. Upon all these countries, but most
permanently upon England, did they impose their language, and a large
portion of their superstitions. Such were their influence and success,
indeed, in this island, that they not only compelled us to embrace
their religious rites, but totally superseded our former manners
and customs, and planted for ever in our mouths a diction radically
distinct from that to which we had been accustomed, a diction which
includes to this day a vocabulary of terms relative to our poetical and
superstitious creeds which is alike common to both nations.[304:A]

Long, therefore, ere the Arabians began to disseminate their literature
from the walls of Cordova, were the Goths in full possession not only
of the Spanish peninsula, where their empire attained its height in
the year 500, but of the greater part of this island. The Moors,
it is well known, did not enter Spain until 712, consequently the
Scandinavian emigrants had the opportunity of three centuries in that
fine country, for the gradual propagation of their poetical credulity.
Long, also, before the Crusades, the second supposed source of oriental
superstition, could produce their imagined effect, are we able to trace
the Fairy Mythology of the Goths in all its essential features. The
first Crusade, under Godfrey, terminated in the capture of Jerusalem in
July 1099, and the speediest return of any of its adventurers may be
ascribed to the year 1100; but so early as 863 do we find the belief of
the Fairies established in Norway, and even introduced into our own
country at an epoch as remote as the year 1013. The metrical fragments
of Thiodolf, bard to Harold Fairhair, who ascended the throne of Norway
in 863, bear testimony to the first of these assertions. Thiodolf was
an antiquary of such pre-eminence, that on his poetry was founded the
early history of his country, and among the reliques of his composition
is one recording an adventure of Svegder, the fourth King of Sweden,
which clearly proves that _Fairies_ and _Fairy-land_ had even then
become a portion of the popular creed. Svegder is represented as having
made a vow to seek Fairy-land, and Odin, from whom he was descended.
For this purpose he traverses, with twelve chosen companions, the
wastes of the Greater Scythia; but, after consuming five years in vain
in the pursuit, he returns home disappointed. In a second attempt,
however, he is, unfortunately for himself, successful. In the east of
Scythia rises suddenly from the plain so vast a mass of rock, that it
assumes the appearance of an immense structure or palace. Passing by
this pile with his friends, one evening after sunset, having freely
enjoyed the pleasures of the banquet, Svegder was surprised to behold
a _Dwergur_, a _Fairy_ or _Dwarf_, sitting at the foot of the rock.
Inflamed by wine, he and his companions boldly advanced towards the
elf, who, then standing in the gates or portal of the pile, addressed
the king, commanding him to enter if he wished to converse with Odin.
The monarch, rushing forward, had scarcely passed the opening of the
rock, when its portal closed upon him and the treacherous Fairy for

That the diminutive Being here introduced was of the race of Fairies,
subsequently described in the Volupsa of Sæmund under the appellation
of Duergs or _Swart-Elves_, and who were placed under the direction of
two superiors called _Motsogner_ and _Durin_[306:A], is evident from
the Gothic original of Thiodolf's fragment, which opens by declaring
that this being who guarded the entrance of the enchanted cave, was one
of the followers of _Durin_, who shrank from the light of day; and then
immediately classes him with the Dwergs[306:B], an appellative which
the Latin translators have rendered by the terms _pygmæi_ and _nani_,
_pygmies_ and _dwarfs_.

That the fairy mythology of the Goths must have been known to this
island about the year 1013, appears from a song composed by _Sigvatur_,
who accompanied Canute to England as his favourite bard, on the
invasion of his father Swain at the above era. Sigvatur describes
himself as warned away from a cottage by its housewife, who, sitting at
the threshold, vehemently forbids his approach, as she was preparing
a propitiatory banquet of blood for the Fairies, with the view of
driving the _war-wolf_ from her doors.[306:C] The word in the original
here used for the Fairies, is _Alfa_, _Elves_, a designation which we
shall find in the Edda applied generically to the whole tribe, however
distinct in their functions or mode of existence.

Not only can we prove, indeed, the priority and high antiquity of the
Gothic fairy superstitions on the unquestioned authority of Thiodolf
and Sigvatur, but we can substantiate also the very material fact, that
the scattered features of this mythology were collected and formed
into a perfect system nearly a quarter of a century before any of the
first crusaders could return to Europe. About the year 1077, _Sæmund_
compiled the first or Metrical Edda, containing, among other valuable
documents, the "Voluspa," a poem whose language indicates a very remote
origin[307:A], and where we find a minute and accurate description of
the _Duergar_ or Fairies, who are divided into two classes, of which
the individuals are even carefully named and enumerated, a catalogue
which is augmented in the _Prose Edda_ composed by _Snorro_ in
1215[307:B], and still further increased in the "_Scalda_," written, it
is supposed, about a year or two afterwards.

Having thus endeavoured to show that the _Fairy Superstitions_ of
the Goths were possessed of an antiquity sufficiently great to have
procured their propagation through the medium of Scandinavian conquest
and colonisation, long anterior to any oriental source, and that the
genius of eastern fabling, when subsequently introduced into the south,
was of a character totally distinct from the popular superstition of
the north of Europe, we hasten to place before the reader a short
sketch of the genealogy, attributes, and offices of the Gothic elves,
in order that we may compare them with their poetical offspring, the
popular fairies of Britain, and thence be able to appreciate the
various modifications and improvements which the system received from
the creative imagination of Shakspeare.

Under the term _Norner_ the ancient Goths included two species of
preternatural beings of a diminutive size, the _Godar Norner_, or
_Beneficent Elves_, and the _Illar Norner_, or _Malignant Elves_. Among
the earliest bards of Scandinavia, in the Voluspa, and in the Edda of
Snorro, these distinctions are accurately maintained, though under
various appellations, either alluding to their habits, their moral
nature, or their external appearance. The most common nomenclature,
or division, however, was into _Liös-alfar_, or _Bright Elves_, and
_Suart-alfar_, or _Dock-alfar Swart_, or _Black Elves_, the former
belonging to the _Alfa-ættar_, or tribe of alfs, fauns, or elves, the
latter to the _Duerga-ættar_, or tribe of _Dwarfs_.[308:A]

The _Alfs_ and _Dwergs_, therefore, the _Fairies_ and the _Dwarfs_, or,
in other words, the _Bright_ and the _Swart Elves_ of Scandinavia form,
together with a somewhat larger species which we shall have occasion
shortly to mention, the whole of the machinery of whose origin we are
in search.

Of this _Alfa-folch_, _Elfin-folk_, or _Fairy-people_, the
_Liös-alfar_, or _Bright Elves_, were supposed to be aërial spirits,
of a beautiful aspect, sporting in the purest ether, and inhabiting
there a region called _Alf-heimur_, Elf-ham, or Elf-home. Their
intercourse with mortals was always beneficent and propitious, and
when they presided at a nativity, happiness and prosperity were their
boon.[308:A] They visited the cottages of the virtuous and industrious
poor, blessing and assisting their efforts[309:A], and danced in
mazy rounds by moonlight on the dewy grass, to the sound of the most
enchanting music, leaving on the sward circular and distinct traces
of their footsteps of a beautiful and lively green, vestiges of what
in the Swedish language was called the _Elf-dans_, a word which has
been naturalised in our own tongue.[309:B] The bright elves were
also considered as propitious to women in labour, and desirous of
undertaking all the duties of the cradle[309:C]; in short, wherever a
fairy of this species was found, whether in the palace, the cottage,
or the mine, it was always distinguished by a series of kind or useful

In almost every respect the reverse of this benevolent race were the
_Suart-alfar_, or _Swart Elves_, who were neither spirits nor mortals,
but of an intermediate nature, dwelling in the bowels of the earth,
in mountains, caves, or barrows, of the same diminutive size as the
bright elves, but unpleasing in their features, and though sometimes
fair in their complexions, often dark and unlovely.[309:D] They were
the dispensers of misfortune, and consequently their attendance at a
birth became the harbinger of a predominating portion of [310:A]evil;
mischief, indeed, either in sport or anger, seems to have been their
favourite employment. They, like those of the more friendly tribe,
visited the surface of the earth at midnight, but the circular tracery
of their revels was distinguished from the green ringlets of the
beneficent kind, by the ground being burnt and blasted wherever their
footsteps had been impressed.[310:B]

Among this species was also classed the _Incubus_, by the Scandinavians
termed _Mara_, _Meyar_, or the _Mare_; by the Saxons _Alf_ or _Alp_;
by the Franconians _Drud_[310:C], a fairy who haunted those who slept,
and oppressed them by sitting on their chest. This elf was likewise
considered as exerting a baneful influence at _noon-time_ over those
who heedlessly gave themselves to sleep in the fields, and was deemed
particularly dangerous, at this hour, to pregnant women.[310:D] To the
mischievous power of these _Swart-elves_ was also ascribed, by the
Gothic nations, the loss or exchange of children, who were borne away
from the parental roof previous to the rites of baptism, and oftentimes
an idiotic or deformed bantling was substituted in the place of the
stolen infant.[310:E] Generally were they found, indeed, spiteful and
malicious in all their agency with mankind, whether in a playful or a
serious mood; frequently injuring or destroying the cattle, riding the
horses, plaiting their manes in knots, terrifying and leading wandering
or benighted peasants astray, by voices, cries, by peals of laughter or
delusive lights.[311:A]

With all these evil propensities, however, they are uniformly
represented by our Northern ancestors as singularly ingenious, and
endowed with great mechanical skill, particularly that variety of
the _Suart-alfar_ termed _Bergmanlein_ or Mountain-dwarfs, who were
believed to inhabit caves and mines and barrows[311:B], and to be
frequently and audibly employed in forging swords and armour of such
excellent temper and strength as to be proof not only against the
usual accidents of warfare, but against all the arts of magic and
incantation.[311:C] This craft was denominated _Duerga Smithi_, or
_Fairy-Smithery_[311:D], and was sometimes exercised in the formation
of enchanted rings, and of automata which by the proper management of
secret springs would transport their conductors through the air.[311:E]
By the Swedes and Germans, also, these subterranean dwarfs, _virunculi
montani_, were supposed to be sometimes busy in the laborious
occupation of excavating the rocks, and to be occasionally useful to
the miners in detecting latent veins of ore; but their agency was more
generally deemed pernicious, and they were held to be the artificers
of accident, the raisers of exhalations, and the exploders of the
fire-damp.[312:A] It should also be added, that, as the frequent
inmates of barrows and sepulchral vaults, they were considered as the
guardians of hidden treasures, which they protected under the form of
diminutive old men with corrugated faces[312:B]; while as the haunters
of the mine, they affected the dress of the workmen, appearing in a
shirt or frock, with a leathern apron.[312:C]

Beside these two species of the fairy tribe, the _Bright_ and _Swart
Elves_, a larger kind was acknowledged by the ancient Germans, under
the appellations of _Guteli_ and _Trulli_, who were esteemed not only
harmless, but so friendly to mankind, that they delighted in performing
the domestic offices of the household, such as cleaning the dishes,
bringing in wood, grooming the horses, &c.[312:D], labouring chiefly
in the night-time, and often assuming the human stature, form, and

Such are the leading features of the Fairy Mythology of the Goths,
which appears to have been introduced into Britain as early as the
eleventh century, and to have gradually become a part of the popular
creed, though subsequently modified by the influence of Christianity,
by the intermixture of classical associations, the prevalence of feudal
manners, and other causes. Accordingly, we find Gervase of Tilbury, in
the thirteenth century, detailing, in his _Otia Imperialia_, many of
the peculiar superstitions of the Scandinavian system as common to
this country; and in the following age, Chaucer, impressed with the
high antiquity of these fables, refers even to the age of Arthur as the
period of their full dominion:—

    "In old Dayes of the King Artour
     Of which that Bretons speken gret honour,
     All was this Lond fulfilled of Faerie,
     The Elf-Quene with hire jolie company
     Daunsed full oft in many a grene mede,
     This was the old opinion as I rede.
     I speke of many hundred yeres agoe."[313:A]

After the death of Chaucer, indeed, who treated these beautiful
credulities with a pleasant vein of ridicule, the fate of the
Gothic System of Fairies seems to have been considerably different
in two opposite quarters of our island; for, while in Scotland the
original character of this mythology, and especially that of its
harsher features, was closely preserved, it received in England, and
principally through the medium of our great dramatic bard, a milder
aspect, and a more fanciful and sportive texture. The dissimilarity
thus resulting has been noticed by a late elegant tourist, who
observes, that "the Scottish Fairy is described with more terrific
attributes than are to be found in the traces of a belief in such
beings in England[313:B];" a remark which is corroborated by Mr. Scott,
who, after noticing this stricter retention of the ancient character
of the Gothic Fairy in North Britain, assigns two causes for its
occurrence, the enmity of the Presbyterian clergy to this supposed
"_light infantry of Satan_," and the aspect of the country, "as we
should naturally attribute," he adds, "a less malicious disposition,
and a less frightful appearance, to the fays who glide by moon-light
through the oaks of Windsor, than to those who haunt the solitary
heaths and lofty mountains of the North."[313:C] In fact, while the
English, through Shakspeare, seem chiefly to have adopted and improved
that part of the Gothic Mythology which relates to the _Bright_ or
_Benignant_ race of Fairies, the Scotch have, with few exceptions,
received and fostered that wilder and more gloomy portion of the
creed which developes the agency and disposition of the _Swart_ or
_Malignant_ tribe. A short detail, therefore, of the two systems, as
they appear to have existed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,
if compared with the features of the Scandinavian Mythology which we
have just enumerated, will exhaust the subject of our present enquiry,
placing the sources of our popular superstitions on these topics, and
the poetical embellishments of Shakspeare, in a perspicuous point of

Of the _Scottish Elves_, two kinds have been uniformly handed down by
tradition, the _Fair_ and the _Swart_, but both are alike represented
as prone to evil, and analogous therefore to the _Illar Norner_, or
_Evil Fairies_ of the Scandinavians. They were also often termed the
_Good Neighbours_ or _People_, as a kind of deprecatory compliment, in
order to soften and appease the malignancy of their temper.[314:A] In a
rare treatise written towards the close of the seventeenth century, by
Mr. Robert Kirk, minister at Aberfoill, and entitled, "The Nature and
Actions of the Subterranean, and for the most part, Invisible People,
heretofoir going under the Name of _Elves_, _Faunes_, and _Fairies_,
or the lyke, &c. &c.[314:B]," a very curious detail is given of the
_Fairy Superstitions_ of Scotland, as they have prevailed in that
country, from the earliest period to the year 1690, a work which we may
safely take as our text and guide in delineating the character of the
_Scottish Fairy_, as it existed in the days of Shakspeare.

To the gloomy and unhallowed _nature_ and _disposition_ of these North
British Elves, Mr. Kirk bears the most unqualified testimony:—"These
_Siths_ or Fairies," he observes, "they call _Sleagh Maith_, or the
_Good People_, it would seem, to prevent the dint of their _ill_
Atempts, (for the Irish use to bless all they fear Harme of;) and are
said to be of a middle Nature betuixt Man and Angel, as were Dæmons
thought to be of old;—they are said to have no discernible Religion,
Love, or Devotion towards God, the blessed Maker of all: they disappear
whenever they hear his Name invocked, or the Name of Jesus, nor can
they act ought at that Time after hearing of that sacred Name.—Some
say their _continual Sadnesse_ is because of their pendulous state, as
uncertain what at the last Revolution will become of them, when they
are locked up into ane unchangeable Condition; and if they have any
frolic Fitts of Mirth, 'tis as the constrained grinning of a Mort-head,
or rather as acted on a stage, and moved by another, ther (than?)
cordially comeing of themselves."[315:A]

Of their _dress_ and _weapons_ he gives us the following account:—
"Their Apparell is like that of the People and Countrey under
which they live: so are they seen to wear Plaids and variegated
Garments in the Highlands of Scotland, and Suanochs therefore in
Ireland."[315:B]—"Their Weapons are most what solid earthly Bodies,
nothing of Iron, but much of Stone, like to yellow, soft Flint-spa,
shaped like a barbed Arrow-head, but flung like a Dairt, with great
force. These Armes (cut by Airt and Tools it seems beyond humane) have
somewhat of the Nature of Thunderbolt subtilty, and mortally wounding
the vital Parts without breaking the skin."[315:C]

This description of the weapons, garb, disposition, and nature of
the Gaelic, Highland, or Scoto-Irish Fairies, equally applies to
the more elegant race which haunted the cheerful and cultivated
districts of Caledonia; for Mr. Cromek, painting the character of the
Scottish Lowland Fairies, from the popular belief of Nithsdale and
Galloway, tinges it with the same fearful attributes and mischievous
propensities:—"They were small of stature," he relates, "exquisitely
shaped and proportioned; of a fair complexion, with long fleeces of
yellow hair flowing over their shoulders, and tucked above their brows
with combs of gold. A mantle of green cloth, inlaid with wild flowers,
reached to their middle;—green pantaloons, buttoned with bobs of silk,
and sandals of silver, formed their under dress. On their shoulders
hung quivers of adder slough, stored with pernicious arrows; and
bows, fashioned from the rib of a man, buried where _three Lairds'
lands meet_, tipped with gold, ready bent for warfare, were slung by
their sides. Thus accoutred they mounted on steeds, whose hoofs would
not print the new plowed land, nor dash the dew from the cup of a
hare-bell. They visited the flock, the folds, the fields of coming
grain, and the habitations of men;—and woe to the mortal whose frailty
threw him in their power!—A flight of arrows, tipped with deadly
plagues, were poured into his folds; and nauseous weeds grew up in his
pastures; his coming harvest was blighted with pernicious breath,—and
whatever he had no longer prospered. These fatal shafts were formed of
the bog reed, pointed with white field flint, and dipped in the dew of
hemlock. They were shot into cattle with such magical dexterity that
the smallest aperture could not be discovered, but by those deeply
skilled in fairy warfare, and in the cure of elf-shooting. Cordials
and potent charms are applied; the burning arrow is extracted, and
instant recovery ensues. The fairies seem to have been much attached
to particular places. A green hill;—an opening in a wood;—a burn
just freeing itself from the Uplands, were kept sacred for revelry
and festival. The Ward-law, an ever green hill in Dalswinton Barony,
was, in olden days, a noted Fairy tryste. But the Fairy ring being
converted into a pulpit, in the times of persecution, proscribed the
revelry of unchristened feet. Lamentations of no earthly voices were
heard for years around this beloved hill."[317:A]

The latter part of this quotation alludes to a very prominent part
of Scottish fairy superstition, the _haunts_ or _habitations_ of the
_Elf-folk_, and their _Court_ or _Fairy-land_, a species of fiction
which, as we have seen, makes a striking figure in the Scandinavian
mythology, and probably furnished Chaucer with his adventure of
[317:B]_Sir Thopas_. The _local appropriation_ of Fairies, however,
though common enough in England, has been more minutely marked and
described in Scotland. Green hills, mountain-lakes, romantic glens,
and inaccessible falls of water, were more peculiarly their favourite
haunts, whilst the wilderness or forest wild was deemed the regular
entrance to _Elf-land_ or the Court of Faery. "There be many Places,"
says Kirk, "called Fairie-hills, which the Mountain People think
impious and dangerous to peel or discover, by taking earth or wood from
them;" and, speaking in another place of their habitations, he adds,
they "are called large and fair, and (unless att some odd occasions)
unperceaveable by vulgar eyes, like Rachland and other inchanted
Islands, having fir Lights, continual Lamps, and Fires, often seen
without Fuel to sustain them," confirming the account by the instance
of a female neighbour of his, who, being conveyed to Elf-land, "found
the Place full of Light, without any Fountain or Lamp from whence it
did spring."[318:A]

"Lakes and pits, on the tops of mountains," remarks Dr. Leyden, were
"regarded with a degree of superstitious horror, as the porches or
entrances of the subterraneous habitations of the fairies; from which
confused murmurs, the cries of children, moaning voices, the ringing
of bells, and the sounds of musical instruments, are often supposed to
be heard. Round these hills, the green fairy circles are believed to
wind, in a spiral direction, till they reach the descent to the central
cavern; so that, if the unwary traveller be benighted on the charmed
ground, he is inevitably conducted, by an invisible power, to the
fearful descent."[318:B]

That a similar partiality was shown by these fairy people to the
site of secluded waterfalls, is recorded in the Statistical Account
of Scotland, where the minister of Dumfries, after describing a Linn
formed by the water of the Crichup, as inaccessible to real beings,
observes, that it had anciently been "considered as the habitation of
imaginary ones; and at the entrance into it there was a curious Cell or
Cave, called the _Elf's Kirk_, where, according to the superstition of
the times, the imaginary inhabitants of the Linn were supposed to hold
their meetings."[318:C]

But, independent of these numerous occasional residences of the fairy
tribe, a firm belief in the existence of a fixed court, or _Elf-land_
peculiarly so denominated, as the centre of their empire and the abode
of their Queen, was so prevalent in Scotland, during the sixteenth
century, as to have been acted upon in a court of justice. A woman
named _Alison Pearson_ having been convicted, on the 28th of May, 1586,
of holding intercourse with and visiting the Queen of Elf-land; "for
hanting and repairing," says the indictment, "with the gude neighbours,
and Queene of Elfland, thir divers years by past, as she had confest;
and that she had friends in that court, which were of her own blude,
who had gude acquaintance of the Queene of Elfland,—and that she was
seven years ill handled in the Court of Elfland[319:A]," and for this
notable crime was the poor creature burnt to death!

When such was the credulity of a bench of judges, we need not wonder
that Fairy Land had become a professed article of the poetical creed,
and that Lindsay in 1560, and Montgomery in 1584, should allude to it
as a subject of admitted notoriety: thus the former, in his _Complaynt
of the Papingo_, says

    "Bot sen my spreit mon from my bodye go,
     I recommend it to the Quene of Fary,
     Eternally into her court to tarry
     In wilderness amang the holtis hair;"[319:B]

and the latter, in his _Flyting against Polwart_, speaking of
Hallow'een, tells us, that

    "The king of Pharie and his court, with the elf queen,
       With many elfish incubus was ridand that night."[319:C]

According to the _Tale of the Young Tamlane_, a poem in its original
state coeval with the _Complaynt of Scotland_, and on the authority
of the _Ballad of Thomas the Rhymer_, said also to be of considerable
antiquity[319:D], Elf-land is represented as a terrestrial paradise,
the opening of the road to which was in the desert

    "Where living land was left behind;"

it is described as a "bonny road" "that winds about the fernie brae,"
but the roaring of the sea is heard in the descent, and at length the
traveller wades knee-deep through rivers of blood,

    "For a' the blude that's shed on earth,
       Rins thro' the springs o' that countrie;"[320:A]

yet, when arrived, the land is full of pleasantness, a garden of the
loveliest green, self-illumined, and whose halls have roofs of beaten
gold, and floors of purest chrystal.[320:B]

In conformity to these Scottish traditionary features of Fairy-land,
and in reference to the popular tale of Thomas the Rhymer, who, daring
to salute the Fairy Queen, was carried off in early life to this region
of enchantment, and there broke the vow of silence enjoined on all who
entered its precincts[320:C], Dr. Leyden has executed the following
glowing picture:—

    "The fairy ring-dance now, round Eildon-tree,
     Moves to wild strains of elfin minstrelsy:
     On glancing step appears the fairy queen;—
     Or, graceful mounted on her palfrey gray,
     In robes, that glister like the sun in May,
     With hawk and hounds she leads the moon-light ranks,
     Of knights and dames, to Huntly's ferny banks,
     Where Rymour, long of yore, the nymph embraced,
     The first of men unearthly lips to taste.
     Rash was the vow, and fatal was the hour,
     Which gave a mortal to a fairy's power!
     A lingering leave he took of sun and moon;
     —Dire to the minstrel was the fairy's boon!—
     A sad farewell of grass and green-leaved tree,
     The haunts of childhood doomed no more to see.
     Through winding paths, that never saw the sun,
     Where Eildon hides his roots in caverns dun,
     They pass,—the hollow pavement, as they go,
     Rocks to remurmuring waves, that boil below;
     Silent they wade, where sounding torrents lave
     The banks, and red the tinge of every wave;
     For all the blood, that dyes the warrior's hand,
     Runs through the thirsty springs of Fairy land.
     Level and green the downward region lies,
     And low the cieling of the fairy skies;
     Self-kindled gems a richer light display
     Than gilds the earth, but not a purer day.
     Resplendent crystal forms the palace wall;
     The diamonds trembling lustre lights the hall:
     But where soft emeralds shed an umber'd light,
     Beside each coal-black courser sleeps a knight;
     A raven plume waves o'er each helmed crest,
     And black the mail, which binds each manly breast,
     Girt with broad faulchion, and with bugle green—
     Ah! could a mortal trust the fairy queen!
     From mortal lips an earthly accent fell,
     And Rymour's tongue confess'd the numbing spell:
     In iron sleep the minstrel lies forlorn,
     Who breathed a sound before he blew the horn."[321:A]

No spell, however, could bind the Fairies themselves to their own
domain; an eternal restlessness seems to have been their doom; "they
remove," says Kirk, in a passage singularly curious, "to other
Lodgings at the Beginning of each Quarter of the Year, so traversing
till Doomsday, being imputent and (_impotent of?_) staying in one
Place, and finding some Ease by so purning (_journeying_) and changing
Habitations. Their chamœlion-lyke Bodies swim in the Air near the Earth
with Bag and Bagadge; and at such revolution of Time, SEERS, or MEN OF
THE SECOND SIGHT, (Fœmales being seldome so qualified) have very
terrifying Encounters with them, even on High Ways; who therefoir
uswally shune to travell abroad at these four Seasons of the Year, and
thereby have made it a Custome to this day among the Scottish-Irish to
keep Church duely evry first Sunday of the Quarter to sene or hallow
themselves, their Corns and Cattell, from the Shots and Stealth of
these wandering Tribes; and many of these superstitious People will
not be seen in Church againe till the nixt Quarter begin, as if no
Duty were to be learned or done by them, but all the use of Worship
and Sermons were to save them from these Arrows that fly in the

Beside these quarterly migrations, an annual procession of the
Fairy Court was supposed to take place on Hallowe'en, to which we
have alluded in a former part of this work (vol. i. p. 342.), when
describing the superstitions peculiar to certain periods of the year. A
similar ceremony, though not upon so large a scale, was also believed,
among the peasantry of Nithsdale, to occur at [322:B]Roodsmass; but
the most common appearance of the Fairy in Scotland, as elsewhere, was
conceived to be by moon-light, dancing in a circle, and leaving behind
either a scorched, or a deep green, ringlet; nor was the period of
noon-day scarcely deemed less dangerous than the noon of night; for,
during both, the Fairies were imagined to exert a baneful power; in
sleep, producing the oppression termed the _Night-mare_[323:A], and,
even at mid-day, weaving their pernicious spells, and subjecting to
their power all who were tempted to repose on the rock, bank, hillock,
or near the tree which they frequented.

Persons thus unfortunately situated, who had ventured within the
fairy-circle after sunset, who had slept at noon upon a fairy-hill,
or who, in an evil hour, had been devoted to the infernal powers, by
the curses of a parent, were liable to be borne away to Elf-land for a
period of seven years:—

    "Woe to the upland swain, who, wandering far,
     The circle treads, beneath the evening star!
     His feet the witch-grass green impels to run,
     Full on the dark descent, he strives to shun;
     Till, on the giddy brink, o'erpower'd by charms,
     The Fairies clasp him, in unhallow'd arms,
     Doom'd, with the crew of restless foot, to stray
     The earth by night, the nether realms by day;
     Till seven long years their dangerous circuit run,
     And call the wretch to view this upper sun."[324:A]

Pregnant and child-bed women were considered, as in Germany,
peculiarly in danger of being stolen by the Fairies at noon-day, and
various preventive charms were adopted against this abstraction. "The
Tramontains to this day," says Kirk, speaking of "Women yet alive, who
tell they were taken away when in Child-bed to nurse Fairie Children,"
"put bread, the Bible, or a piece of Iron, in Women's Bed when
travelling, to save them from being thus stolen."[324:B]

Of the capture and subjection of those who had been devoted by
execration, several instances are related both by Scotch and English
writers[324:C]; but the most general mode of abstraction practised by
the Elvish race, was that of stealing or exchanging children, and so
commonly was this species of theft apprehended in the Highlands of
Scotland, that it was customary to watch children until the christening
was over[324:D], under the idea, that the power of the Fairies, owing
to the original corruption of human nature, was chiefly to be dreaded
in the interval between birth and baptism. The Beings substituted
for the healthy offspring of man were apparently idiots, monstrous
and decrepid in their form, and defective in speech; and when the
Fairies failed to purloin or exchange the infant, in consequence of the
vigilance of its parents, it was usually found _breath-blasted_, "their
unearthly breath making it wither away in every limb and lineament,
like a blighted ear of corn, saving the countenance, which unchangeably
retains the sacred stamp of divinity."[325:A]

The cause assigned for this evil propensity on the part of the Fairies,
was the dreadful obligation they were under, of sacrificing the tenth
individual to the Devil every, or every seventh year; "the teind of
them," says the indictment of Alison Pearson, "are tane to hell everie
year[325:B]," while the hero of the Ballad entitled The Young Tamlane,

    "And pleasant is the Fairy land;
       But, an eiry tale to tell!
     Ay, at the end o' seven years,
       We pay the teind to hell."[325:C]

For the recovery of the unfortunate substitutes thus selected for the
payment of their infernal tribute, various charms and contrivances were
adopted, of which one of the most effectual, though the most horrible,
was the assignment to the flames of the supposed changeling, which it
was firmly believed would, in consequence of this treatment, disappear,
and the real child return to the lap of its mother. "A beautiful child,
of Caerlaveroc, in Nithsdale," relates Mr. Cromek from tradition, "on
the second day of its birth, and before its baptism, was changed,
none knew how, for an antiquated elf of hideous aspect. It kept the
family awake with its nightly yells; biting the mother's breasts, and
would neither be cradled or nursed. The mother, obliged to be from
home, left it in charge to the servant girl. The poor lass was sitting
bemoaning herself,—'Wer't nae for thy girning face I would knock the
big, winnow the corn, and grun the meal!'—'Lowse the cradle band,'
quoth the Elf, 'and tent the neighbours, an' Ill work yere wark.' Up
started the elf, the wind arose, the corn was chaffed, the outlyers
were foddered, the hand mill moved around, as by instinct, and the
_knocking mell_ did its work with amazing rapidity. The lass, and her
elfin servant, rested and diverted themselves, till, on the mistress's
approach, it was restored to the cradle, and began to yell anew. The
girl took the first opportunity of slyly telling her mistress the
adventure. '_What'll we do wi' the wee diel?_' said she. 'I'll wirk it
a pirn,' replied the lass. At the middle hour of night the chimney-top
was covered up, and every inlet barred and closed. The embers were
blown up until glowing hot, and the maid, undressing the elf, tossed it
on the fire. It uttered the wildest and most piercing yells, and, in
a moment, the Fairies were heard moaning at every wonted avenue, and
rattling at the window boards, at the chimney head, and at the door.
'In the name o'God bring back the bairn,' cried the lass. The window
flew up; the earthly child was laid unharmed on the mother's lap, while
its grisly substitute flew up the chimney with a loud laugh."[326:A]

Another efficacious mode of re-possessing either children or adults
who had been borne away by the Fairies, depended upon watching their
great annual procession or _rade_ on Hallowe'en, within a year and
a day of the supposed abstraction, and there seizing by force the
hapless victim of their charms. This enterprise, however, which forms
the chief incident in the _Tale of the Young Tamlane_, and has been
mentioned in the first volume, required much courage and resolution
for its successful performance, as the adventurer, regardless of all
the terrors of the scene, and of all the appalling shapes which the
lost person was compelled to assume, had to hold him fast, under every
transformation, and until the resources of fairy magic were exhausted.
Thus _Tamlane_ exclaims:—

    "They'll turn me in your arms, Janet,
       An adder and a snake;
     But had me fast, let me not pass,
       Gin ye wad be my maik.

     They'll turn me in your arms, Janet,
       An adder and an ask;
     They'll turn me in your arms, Janet,
       A bale[327:A] that burns fast.

     They'll turn me in your arms, Janet,
       A red hot gad o' iron;
     But had me fast, let me not pass,
       For I'll do you no harm.—

     And next they'll shape me in your arms,
       A toad, but and an eel;
     But had me fast, nor let me gang,
       As you do love me weel.

     They'll shape me in your arms, Janet,
       A dove, but and a swan;
     And last they'll shape me in your arms,
       A mother-naked man:
     Cast your green mantle over me—
       I'll be myself again."—[327:B]

That part of the Scottish fairy system which relates exclusively to the
abstraction of children, has been beautifully applied by Mr. Erskine,
in one of his supplemental stanzas to Collins's _Ode on the Popular
Superstitions of the Highlands of Scotland_, where, continuing the
Address of Collins to his friend Home, he thus proceeds:—

    "Then wake (for well thou can'st) that wond'rous lay,
       How, while around the thoughtless matrons sleep,
       Soft o'er the floor the treacherous fairies creep,
     And bear the smiling infant far away:
       How starts the nurse, when, for her lovely child,
     She sees at dawn a gaping idiot stare!
       O snatch the innocent from demons vilde,
     And save the parents fond from fell despair!
       In a deep cave the trusty menials wait,
     When from their hilly dens, at midnight's hour,
       Forth rush the airy elves in mimic state,
     And o'er the moon-light heath with swiftness scour:
       In glittering arms the little horsemen shine;
     Last, on a milk-white steed, with targe of gold,
       A fay of might appears, whose arms entwine
     The lost, lamented child! the shepherds bold
     The unconscious infant tear from his unhallow'd hold."[328:A]

Like the _Dwergar_ or _Swart-Elves_ of Scandinavia, the Scottish
Fairies were also endowed with great mechanical powers; were often
mischievously, though sometimes beneficially, active in mines, and
were believed to be the guardians of hidden treasure. "The Swart Fairy
of the Mine," says the Scotch Encyclopedia, "has scarce yet quitted
our subterraneous works[328:B]," and Kirk speaks of "Treasure hid in
a Hill called _Sith-bhruaich_, or Fayrie-hill."[328:C] It is amusing,
indeed, to read the minute account which this worthy minister gives
of the habits and occupations of his _Siths_ or Fairies: thus, with
regard to their _speech_, _food_, and _work_, he informs us that "they
speak by way of whistling, clear, not rough"—"some are fed by only
sucking into some fine spirituous Liquors, that peirce lyke pure Air
and Oyl: others feid more gross on the Foyson or Substance of Corns
and Liquors, or Corne itselfe that grows on the Surface of the Earth,
which those Fairies steall away, partly invisible, partly preying on
the Grain, as do Crowes and Mice:—their Food being exactly clean, and
served up by pleasant children, lyke inchanted Puppets." "They are
sometimes heard to bake Bread, strike Hammers, and to do such lyke
Services within the litle Hillocks they most haunt.—Ther Women are
said to Spine very fine, to Dy, to Tossue and Embroyder: but whither
it be as manuall Operation of substantiall refined Stuffs, with apt and
solid Instruments, or only curious Cobwebs, impalpable Rain-bows, and
a phantastic Imitation of the actions of more terrestricall Mortalls,
since it transcended all the Senses of the Seere to discern whither, I
leave to conjecture as I found it."[329:A]

It appears, also, from the same author, that the operations of the
Fairies were considered as predictive of future events, and that
those who were gifted with the privilege of beholding the process,
formed their inferences accordingly. Of this he gives us the following
singularly terrific instance:—"Thus a Man of the Second Sight,
perceaving the Operations of these forecasting invisible People among
us, (indulged thorow a stupendious Providence to give Warnings of some
remarkable Events, either in the Air, Earth, or Waters) told he saw a
Winding-shroud creeping on a walking healthful Persons Legs till it
come to the Knee, and afterwards it come up to the Midle, then to the
Shoulders, and at last over the Head, which was visible to no other
Persone. And by observing the spaces of Time betwixt the severall
Stages, he easily guess'd how long the Man was to live who wore the
Shroud; for when it approached his Head, he told that such a Person was
ripe for the Grave."[329:B]

Among the Scottish Fairies we must not forget to enumerate the _Wee
Brown Man of the Muirs_, "a fairy," says Dr. Leyden, "of the most
malignant order, the genuine _duergar_[329:C]," who dwelt beneath the
heather bell, and whose favourite amusement it was to extract the
brains from the skulls of those who slept within the verge of his

It is evident from the account now given of the Scottish Fairies, that
they assimilate, in a very striking degree, in manners, disposition,
and origin, with the _Duergar_ or _Swart_ tribe of the Scandick Elves;
but that a peculiarly wild, and even terrific malignancy forms and
distinguishes their character and agency, ascribable, in a great
measure, to the intermixture of a severe Christian theology, which
attributes to these poetical little beings a species of demoniacal
nature. It is also not less remarkable, that the only friendly and
benignant Elf in the fairy annals of North Britain, though founded, in
some respects, on the domestic fairy of Germany, and still more nearly
assimilated to the _Portunus_, and the spirit _Grant_ of Gervase of
Tilbury, possesses some features altogether peculiar to the country
of its birth. Kirk, among his "fyve Curiosities in Scotland, not
much observed elsewhere[330:A]," reckons, in the first place, "the
BROUNIES, who in some Families are Drudges, clean the Houses
and Dishes after all go to Bed, taking with him his Portion of Food,
and removing befor Day-break."[330:B]

Of this singular race there appears to have been two kinds, a
diminutive and a gigantic species. King James, in his Dæmonology,
published in 1597, tells us, that "the spirit called _Brownie_,
appeared like a _rough man_, and haunted divers houses without doing
any evill, but doing as it were necessarie turnes up and downe the
house; yet some were so blinded as to beleeve that their house was
all the sonsier, as they called it, that such spirits resorted
there[330:C];" and Martin, speaking of the Isles of Shetland, remarks,
that "a spirit by the country people called _Browny_, was frequently
seen in all the most considerable Families in these Isles and North of
Scotland, in the shape of a _tall Man_."[331:A] To this description of
Brownie, Milton seems to have been indebted for his "drudging Goblin:"—

    ——————————— "the lubbar-fiend,
    'Who' _stretch'd out all the Chimney's length_,
    Basks at the fire his _hairy strength_."

But the most common tradition with regard to the _Brownie_ is, that,
in point of size, he was similar to the _Fairy_, though in his habits,
temper, and equipment, widely different. He possessed neither the
weapons, nor the hostile inclinations of his brother Elves; he despised
their gay attire, but was notorious for an attachment to dainty food,
being the guardian of the Dairy, the avowed protector of the Bee, and
a constant sharer in the product of its industry. He loved to lurk in
hollow trees during the day, or in the recesses of some old mansion, to
the family of which he would attach himself for centuries, and perform,
for the menials, during the night, the most laborious offices.

The most ample and interesting account of this kind-hearted elf has
been given to us, from tradition, by Mr. Cromek, who describes the
Scotch Brownie as "small of stature, covered with short curly hair,
with brown matted locks, and a brown mantle which reached to the knee,
with a hood of the same colour." After having finished his nightly
work, which was usually done by the crowing of the first cock, he
would then, relates Mr. Cromek, "come into the farm-hall, and stretch
itself out by the chimney, sweaty, dusty, and fatigued. It would take
up the _pluff_, (a piece of bored bour-tree for blowing up the fire)
and, stirring out the red embers, turn itself till it was rested and
dried. A choice bowl of sweet cream, with combs of honey, was set in an
accessible place: this was given as its hire; and it was willing to be
bribed, though none durst avow the intention of the gift. When offered
meat or drink, the Brownie instantly departed, bewailing and lamenting
itself, as if unwilling to leave a place so long its habitation, from
which nothing but the superior power of fate could sever it. A thrifty
good wife, having made a web of linsey-woolsey, sewed a well-lined
mantle, and a comfortable hood, for her trusty Brownie. She laid it
down in one of his favourite haunts, and cried to him to array himself.
Being commissioned by the gods to relieve mankind under the drudgery
of original sin, he was forbidden to accept of wages or bribes. He
instantly departed, bemoaning himself in a rhyme, which tradition has
faithfully preserved:—

    "A new mantle, and a new hood!—
     Poor Brownie! ye'll ne'er do mair gude!"

"The prosperity of the family seemed to depend on them, and was at
their disposal.—A place, called Liethin Hall, in Dumfriesshire, was
the hereditary dwelling of a noted Brownie. He had lived there, as he
once communicated, in confidence, to an old woman, for three hundred
years. He appeared only once to every new master, and, indeed, seldom
showed more than his hand to any one. On the decease of a beloved
master, he was heard to make moan, and would not partake of his wonted
delicacies for many days. The heir of the land arrived from foreign
parts, and took possession of his father's inheritance. The faithful
Brownie showed himself, and proffered homage. The spruce Laird was
offended to see such a famine-faced, wrinkled domestic, and ordered him
meat and drink, with a new suit of clean livery. The Brownie departed,
repeating aloud and frequently these ruin-boding lines:—

    "Ca, cuttie, ca!
     A' the luck o' Liethin Ha'
     Gangs wi' me to Bodsbeck Ha'."

"Liethin Ha' was, in a few years, in ruins, and 'bonnie Bodsbeck'
flourished under the luck-bringing patronage of the Brownie.—

"One of them, in the olden times, lived with Maxwell, Laird of
Dalswinton, doing ten men's work, and keeping the servants awake at
nights with the noisy dirling of its elfin flail. The Laird's daughter,
says tradition, was the comeliest dame in all the holms of Nithsdale.
To her the Brownie was much attached: he assisted her in love-intrigue,
conveying her from her high-tower chamber to the trysting-thorn in the
woods, and back again, with such light-heeled celerity, that neither
bird, dog, nor servant awoke.

"He undressed her for the matrimonial bed, and served her so
handmaiden-like, that her female attendant had nothing to do, not
daring even to finger her mistress's apparel, lest she should provoke
the Brownie's resentment. When the pangs of the mother seized his
beloved lady, a servant was ordered to fetch the 'cannie wife,' who
lived across the Nith. The night was dark as a December night could be;
and the wind was heavy among the groves of oak. The Brownie, enraged
at the loitering serving-man, wrapped himself in his lady's fur-cloak;
and, though the Nith was foaming high-flood, his steed, impelled by
supernatural spur and whip, passed it like an arrow. Mounting the dame
behind him, he took the deep water back again, to the amazement of the
worthy woman, who beheld the red waves tumbling around her, yet the
steed's foot-locks were dry. 'Ride nae by the auld pool,' quo' she,
'lest we should meet wi' Brownie.'—He replied, 'Fear nae, dame, ye've
met a' the Brownies ye will meet.'—Placing her down at the hall gate,
he hastened to the stable, where the servant-lad was just pulling on
his boots; he unbuckled the bridle from his steed, and gave him a most
afflicting drubbing.—

"The Brownie, though of a docile disposition, was not without its
pranks and merriment. The Abbey-lands, in the parish of New Abbey, were
the residence of a very sportive one. He loved to be, betimes, somewhat
mischievous.—Two lasses, having made a fine bowlful of buttered brose,
had taken it into the byre to sup, while it was yet dark. In the haste
of concealment, they had brought but one spoon; so they placed the
bowl between them, and took a spoonful by turns. 'I hae got but three
sups,' cried the one, 'an it's a' done!' 'It's a' done, indeed,' cried
the other. 'Ha, ha!' laughed a third voice, 'Brownie has gotten the
maist o't.' He had judiciously placed himself between them, and got the
spoon twice for their once."[336:A]

The character and leading features of this benevolent Fairy, have been
concentrated in the following beautiful stanza by Mr. Erskine, who, in
supplying the omissions of Collins, thus supposes himself addressing
the friend of that exquisite poet:—

    "—— See! recall'd by thy resistless lay,
       Once more the _Brownie_ shews his honest face.
     Hail, from thy wanderings long, my much lov'd sprite,
       Thou friend, thou lover of the lowly, hail!
     Tell in what realms thou sport'st thy merry night,
       Trail'st thy long mop, or whirl'st the mimic flail,
     Where dost thou deck the much-disordered hall,
       While the tired damsel in Elysium sleeps,
     With early voice to drowsy workman call,
       Or lull the dame while mirth his vigils keeps?
     'Twas thus in Caledonia's domes, 'tis said,
       Thou ply'dst the kindly task in years of yore:
     At last, in luckless hour, some erring maid
       Spread in thy nightly cell of viands store:
     Ne'er was thy form beheld among their mountains more."[336:B]

From the thirteenth to the close of the sixteenth century, the _Fairy
Mythology of England_, being derived from the same sources, and
through the same medium as the _Scottish System_, which we have just
delineated, the outlines of both will be found very similar. Thus in
_Gervase_ of _Tilbury_, in _Chaucer_, _Lydgate_, &c., even, with the
exception of Spenser, down to R. Scot and _Warner_, whose "Albion's
England" was printed, though not published, in 1586, the same ideas
of fairy-land, the same infernal origin, and variety of species, the
same mischievous and terrific character, and occasionally the same
frolic and capricious wantonness, as the property of one particular
_genus_, may be readily detected.[337a:A] But in 1593, when the
_Midsummer-Night's Dream_ was presented to the public, nearly the whole
of this Mythology which, as founded on the Scandick superstitions,
had been, though with a few modifications, so long prevalent both
in England and Scotland, seems to have received such vast additions
from the plastic imagination of our bard, as, though rebuilt on the
traditions of the "olden time," justly to merit, by their novelty and
poetic beauty, the title of the _English System_, in contradistinction
to that which still lingers in the wilds of Scotland.

The Fairies of Shakspeare have been truly denominated _the favourite
children of his romantic fancy_, and, perhaps, in no part of his works
has he exhibited a more creative and visionary pencil, or a finer tone
of enthusiasm, than in bodying forth "these airy nothings," and in
giving them, in brighter and ever-durable tints, once more

    "A local habitation and a name."

Of his unlimited sway over this delightful world of ideal forms, no
stronger proof can be given, than that he has imparted an entire new
cast of character to the beings whom he has evoked from its bosom,
purposely omitting the darker shades of their character, and, whilst
throwing round them a flood of light, playful, yet exquisitely soft
and tender, endowing them with the moral attributes of purity and
benevolence. In fact, he not only dismisses altogether the _fairies
of a malignant nature_, but clothes the milder yet mixed tribe of his
predecessors with a more fascinating sportiveness, and with a much
larger share of unalloyed goodness.

The distinction between the two species he has accurately marked where
_Puck_, under some apprehension, observes to _Oberon_, that the night
is waning fast, that Aurora's harbinger appears, and that the "damned
spirits all" are flitting to their beds, adding, that

    "For fear lest day should look their shames upon,
     They wilfully themselves exile from light,
     And must for aye consort with black-brow'd night:"

to which Oberon immediately replies,—

    "But we are spirits of another sort:
     I with the morning's love have oft made sport
     And, like a forester, the groves may tread,
     Even till the eastern gate, all fiery red,
     Opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams,
     Turns into yellow gold his salt-green streams."[338a:A]

Of the originality of Shakspeare in the delineation of this tribe
of spirits, or Fairies, nothing more is required in proof, than a
combination or grouping of the principal features; a picture which,
when contrasted with the Scandick system and that which had been
built upon it in England and Scotland previous to his own time, will
sufficiently show with what grace, amenity, and beauty, and with what
an exuberant store of novel imagery, he has decorated these phantoms of
the Gothic mythology.

The King and Queen of Faiery, who, in Chaucer, are identified with the
Pluto and Proserpina of hell[338a:B], are, under the appellations of
Oberon and Titania[337b:A], drawn by Shakspeare in a very amiable and
pleasing light; for, though jealous of each other, they are represented
as usually employed in alleviating the distresses of the worthy and
unfortunate. Their benign influence, indeed, seems to have extended
over the physical powers of nature; for Titania tells her Lord, that,
in consequence of their jealous brawls, a strange distemperature had
seized the elements:—

    "The seasons alter; hoary-headed frosts
     Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose;
     And on old Hyem's chin, and icy crown,
     An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
     Is, as in mockery, set: The spring, the summer,
     The chiding autumn, angry winter, change
     Their wonted liveries; and the 'mazed world,
     By their increase, now knows not which is which:
     _And this same progeny of evils comes,
     From our debate, from our dissention;
     We are their parents and original_."[337b:B]

It appears even that the fairy-practice of purloining children, which,
in every previous system of this mythology, had been carried on from
malignant or self-interested motives, was in Titania the result of
humanity and compassion: thus, when Oberon begs her "little changeling
boy" to be his henchman, she answers—

    "———— ——— ——— Set your heart at rest,
     The fairy land buys not the child of me.
     His mother was a vot'ress of my order:
     And, in the spiced Indian air, by night,
     Full often hath she gossip'd by my side;
     And sat with me on Neptune's yellow sands,
     Marking the embarked traders on the flood;
     When we have laugh'd to see the sails conceive,
     And grow big-bellied, with the wanton wind:
     Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait,
     (Following her womb, then rich with my young squire)
     Would imitate; and sail upon the land,
     To fetch me trifles, and return again,
     As from a voyage, rich with merchandize.
     But she, _being mortal_, of that boy did die:
     _And, for her sake, I do rear up her boy:
     And, for her sake, I will not part with him_."[338b:A]

The expression in this passage "being mortal," as applied to the
changeling's mother, in contradistinction to the unchangeable state of
the Fairies, may be added to Mr. Ritson's instances[338b:B] as another
_decisive proof of the immortality of Shakspeare's elves_; but when
that commentator asserts, that the Fairies of the _common people_ "were
never esteemed otherwise," he has gone too far, at least if he meant to
include the people of Scotland; for Kirk expressly tells us, that the
Scottish Fairies are mortal: "they are not subject," he remarks, "to
sore Sicknesses, but dwindle and decay at a certain Period, all about
ane Age;" and still more decidedly has he remarked their destiny, in
answer to the question, "at what Period of Time do they die?"—"They
are," he replies, "of more refyn'd Bodies and Intellectualls then
wee, and of far less heavy and corruptive Humours, (which cause a
Dissolution) yet many of their Lives being dissonant to right Reason
and their own Laws, and their Vehicles not being wholly frie of Lust
and Passion, especially of the more spirituall and hautie Sins, they
pass (_after a long healthy Lyfe_) into ane Orb and Receptacle fitted
for their Degree, till they come under the general Cognizance of the
last Day."[338b:C]

Like the _Liös-alfar_ or _Bright Elves_ of the Goths, the Fairies
of Shakspeare delighted in conferring blessings, in prospering the
household, and in rendering the offspring of virtuous love, fortunate,
fair, and free from blemish: thus the first fruit of the re-union of
Oberon and Titania, is a benediction on the house of Theseus:—

    "Now thou and I are new in amity;
     And will to-morrow midnight, solemnly,
     Dance in duke Theseus' house triumphantly,
     And bless it to all fair posterity;"[339:A]

an intention which is carried into execution at the close of the play,
where this kind and gentle race, entering the mansion at midnight—

    "Hand in hand, with fairy grace,"—

receive the following directions from their benevolent monarch:—

    "Now, until the break of day,
     Through this house each fairy stray.
     To the best bride-bed will we,
     Which by us shall blessed be;
     And the issue, there create,
     Ever shall be fortunate.
     And the blots of nature's hand
     Shall not in their issue stand;
     Never mole, hare-lip, nor scar,
     Nor mark prodigious, such as are
     Despised in nativity,
     Shall upon their children be.—
     With this field-dew consecrate,
     Every fairy take his gait;
     And each several chamber bless,
     Through this palace with sweet peace."[339:B]

How different this from the conduct and disposition of their brother
elves of Scotland, of whom Kirk tells us, that "they are ever readiest
to go on hurtfull Errands, but seldom will be the Messengers of great
Good to Men."[339:C]

But not only were the Fairies of our bard the friends and protectors
of virtue, they were also the punishers of guilt and sensuality; and,
contrary to the then commonly entertained ideas of their infernal
origin, and anti-christian habits, were the avowed patrons of piety
and prayer: "Go you," exclaims the personifier of one of these tiny
moralists, addressing his companions, "black, grey, green and white,"

    ———————————— "Go—and where you find a maid,
    That, ere she sleep, has thrice her prayers said,
    Raise up the organs of her fantasy,
    Sleep she as sound as careless infancy;
    But those as sleep, and think not on their sins,
    Pinch them, arms, legs, backs, shoulders, sides, and shins—
    But, stay; I smell a man of middle earth:—
    With trial-fire touch me his finger-end:
    If he be chaste, the flame will back descend,
    And turn him to no pain; but if he start,
    It is the flesh of a corrupted heart:"

on the proof of his iniquity, they proceed to punishment, pinching him,
and singing in scorn,

    "Fye on sinful fantasy!
     Fye on lust and luxury!" &c.[340:A]

This love of virtue, and abhorrence of sin, were, as attributes
of the Fairies, in a great measure, if not altogether, the gifts
of Shakspeare, at least if we regard their mythology at that time
prevalent in Britain, whether we refer to the Scottish system, or to
that which existed among our own poets from Chaucer to Warner, though
our familiarity with the picture is now such, owing to the popularity
of the original artist and the consequent number of his copyists on the
same subject, that we assign it a date much anterior to its real source.

If the moral and benevolent character of these children of fancy be,
in a great degree, the creation of Shakspeare, the imagery which he
has employed in describing their persons, manners, and occupations,
will be deemed not less his peculiar offspring, nor inferior in beauty,
novelty, and wildness of painting, to that which the magic of his
pencil has diffused over every other part of his visionary world.
Thus, in imparting to us an idea of the diminutive size of his Fairies,
with what picturesque minutiæ has he marked his sketch! Speaking of
the altercation between Oberon and Titania, he mentions, as one of its
results, that

    ————————— "all their elves, for fear,
    _Creep into acorn cups_, and hide them there:"[341:A]

and he delineates Ariel as sleeping in _a cowslip's bell_, as living
merrily "under the blossom that hangs on the bough," and flying after
summer mounted on the _back of the bat_.[341:B]

In accordance with this smallness of stature, are all their
accompaniments and employments contrived, with the most admirable
proportion and the most vivid imagination. Their dress tinted "green
and white[341:C]," is constructed of the "wings of rear-mice[341:D],"
and their wrappers of the "snake's enamelled skin[341:E];" the
_pensioners_ of their _queen_ are "the cowslips tall[341:F];" her
lacquies, _Peas-blossom_, _Cobweb_, _Moth_, and _Mustard-seed_[341:G];
her lamps the green lustre of the glow-worm[341:H]; and her equipage,
one of the most exquisite pictures of frolic imagination, is thus
minutely drawn:

    "O, then, I see, queen Mab hath been with you.
     —————————————— She comes
     In shape no bigger than an agate stone
     On the fore-finger of an alderman,
     Drawn with a team of little atomies:—
     Her waggon-spokes made of long spinner's legs;
     The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers;
     The traces, of the smallest spider's web;
     The collars, of the moonshine's watry beams:
     Her whip, of cricket's bone; the lash, of film:
     Her waggoner, a small grey-coated gnat,
     Not half so big as a round little worm
     Prick'd from the lazy finger of a maid:
     Her chariot is an empty hazel nut,
     Maid by the joiner squirrel, or old grub,
     Time out of mind the fairies' coach-makers."[342:A]

Of the various occupations and amusements assigned to the Fairies, the
most constant which tradition has preserved, has been that of dancing
at midnight, hand in hand in a circle, a diversion common to every
system of this mythology, but which Shakspeare perhaps first described
with graphic precision. The scenery selected for this sport, in which—

    "To dance their ringlets to the whistling wind,"

was, we are told by Titania,

    —— "on hill, in dale, forest, or mead,
    By paved fountain, or by rushy brook,
    Or on the beached margent of the sea,"[342:B]

and the _light of the moon_ was a necessary adjunct to their

    "Ye elves —— —— you demy puppets, that
     _By moon-shine_ do the green-sour ringlets make
     Whereof the ewe not bites."[342:C]

These _ringlets_, the consequence of the fairy footing, our author
has particularly noticed in the following lines, adding some striking
imagery on the use to which flowers were applied by this sprightly

    —— "Nightly, meadow-fairies, look, you sing,
    Like to the Garter's compass, in a ring:
    The expressure that it bears, green let it be,
    More fertile-fresh than all the field to see;
    And, Hony soit qui mal y pense, write
    In emerald tufts, flowers purple, blue, and white;
    Like sapphire, pearl, and rich embroidery,
    Buckled below fair knight-hoods bending knee:
    _Fairies use flowers for their charactery_."[343:A]

To preserve the freshness and verdure of these ringlets by supplying
them with moisture, was one of the occupations of Titania's train: thus
a fairy in her service is represented as telling Puck—

    "I do wander every where,
     Swifter than the moones sphere;
     _And I serve the fairy queen
     To dew her orbs upon the green_."[343:B]

The general amusements of the tribe, independent of their moon-light
dance, are very impressively and characteristically enumerated in the
subsequent lines:—

    "Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves;
     And ye, that on the sands with printless foot
     Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him,
     When he comes back;—and you, whose pastime
     Is to make midnight mushrooms; that rejoice
     To hear the solemn curfew."[344:A]

But the most astonishing display of the sportive and illimitable fancy
of our poet on this subject, will be found in the ministration and
offices ascribed to those Fairies who are employed about the person,
or executing the mandates, of their Queen. It appears to have been
the business of one of her retinue to attend to the decoration of her
majesty's _pensioners, the cowslips tall_;

    "In their gold coats spots you see;
     Those be rubies, fairy favours,
     In those freckles live their savours:
     _I must go seek some dew-drops here,
     And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear_."[344:B]

Another duty, not less important, was to lull their mistress asleep on
the bosom of a violet or a musk-rose:—

    "I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows,
     Where ox-lips and the nodding violet grows;
     Quite over-canopied with lush woodbine,
     With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine:
     There sleeps Titania, some time of the night,
     _Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight_."[344:C]

And again, with still greater wildness of imagination, but with the
utmost propriety and adaptation of imagery, are they drawn in the
performance of similar functions:—

      "_Titania._ Come, now _a roundel and a fairy song_;
    Then, for the third part of a minute, hence;
    Some, to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds;
    Some, war with rear-mice for their leathern wings,
    To make my small elves coats; and some keep back
    The clamourous owl, that nightly hoots, and wonders
    At our quaint spirits: _Sing me now asleep_:
    Then to your offices, and let me rest."

The song is equally in character, as it forbids, in admirable adherence
to poetical truth and consistency, the approach of every insect or
reptile, that might be deemed likely to annoy the repose of such a
delicate and diminutive being, while Philomel is invoked to add her
delicious chaunt to the soothing melody of fairy voices:—

    "_1 Fai._ You spotted snakes, with double tongue,
                Thorny hedge-hogs, be not seen;
              Newts, and blindworms, do no wrong;
                Come not near our fairy queen:


      Philomel, with melody,
      Sing in our sweet lullaby;
    Lulla, lulla, lullaby; lulla, lulla, lullaby:
      Never harm, nor spell nor charm,
      Come our lovely lady nigh;
      So, good night, with lullaby.

    _2 Fai._ Weaving spiders, come not here;
                Hence, you long-legg'd spinners, hence:
              Beetles black, approach not near;
                Worm, nor snail, do no offence.


      Philomel, with melody, &c.

    _1 Fai._ Hence, away; now all is well:
              One, aloof stand sentinel.
                       [_Exeunt Fairies. Titania sleeps._"[345:A]

This scene, beautiful and appropriate as it is, is yet surpassed, in
originality and playfulness of fancy, by the passage in which Titania
gives directions to her attendants for their conduct to Bottom, to whom
she had previously offered their assistance, promising that they should
fetch him "jewels from the deep:"—

    "Be kind and courteous to this gentleman;
     Hop in his walks, and gambol in his eyes;
     Feed him with apricocks, and dewberries,
     With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries:
     The honey-bags steal from the humble bees,
     And, for night tapers, crop their waxen thighs,
     And light them at the fiery glow-worms eyes,
     To have my love to bed, and to arise;
     And pluck the wings from painted butterflies,
     To fan the moon-beams from his sleeping eyes;
     Nod to him, elves, and do him courtesies."[346:A]

The working of Oberon's enchantment on Titania, who "straight-way
lov'd an ass," and led him to "her close and consecrated bower," and
the interview between Bottom, her fairy majesty, and her train, though
connected with so many supernatural imaginings, have been transferred
to the canvas by Fuseli with a felicity which has embodied the very
thoughts of Shakspeare, and which may on this subject be said to have
placed the genius of the painter almost on a level with that of the
poet, so wonderfully has he fixed the illusive creations of his great

To this detail of fairy occupation, must be added another feature, on
which Shakspeare has particularly dwelt, namely, the attention of the
tribe to cleanliness: thus Puck, on entering the palace of Theseus,

    "———————— Not a mouse
     Shall disturb this hallow'd house:
     _I am sent, with broom, before,
     To sweep the dust behind the door_:"[346:B]

and similar care and neatness are enjoined the elves who haunt the
towers of Windsor:—

    "—— About, about;
     Search Windsor castle, elves, within and out:
     Strew good luck, ouphes, on every sacred room;—
     _The several chairs of order look you scour
     With juice of balm, and every precious flower_."[347:A]

No one could aspire to the favour and protection of the Fairies who was
slovenly or personally impure; punishment, indeed, awaited all who thus
offended; even the majesty of Mab herself condescended

    "To bake the elf-locks in foul sluttish hair;"[347:B]

and _Cricket_, the fairy, being sent on a mission to the chimnies of
Windsor, receives the following injunction:—

    "Where fires thou find'st unraked, and hearths unswept,
     There pinch the maids as blue as bilberry:
     Our radiant queen hates sluts, and sluttery."[347:C]

In order to complete the picture of fairy superstition, as given us by
Shakspeare, it remains to consider his description of _Puck_ or _Robin
Good-fellow_, the confidential servant of Oberon, an elf or incubus
of a mixed and very peculiar character. This quaint, frolicksome,
and often mischievous sprite, seems to have been compounded of the
qualities ascribed by Gervase of Tilbury to his Goblin _Grant_, and to
his _Portuni_, two species of dæmons whom he describes, both in name
and character, as denizens of England; of the benevolent propensities
attributed by Agricola to the _Guteli_, _Cobali_, or Brownies of
Germany, and of additional features and powers, the gift and creation
of our bard.

A large portion of these descriptions of the German writers, and of his
countryman Gervase, Shakspeare would find in Reginald Scot, and from
their union with the product of his own fancy, has arisen the _Puck_ of
the _Midsummer-Night's Dream_, a curious amalgamation of the _fairy_,
the _brownie_, and the _hob-goblin_, whom Burton calls "a bigger kind
of fairy."[348:A] Scot's vocabulary of the fairy tribe is singularly
copious, including not less than nine or ten appellations which have
been bestowed, with more or less propriety, on this _Proteus_ of the
Gothic elves.—"In our childhood," he observes, "our mother's maids
have so terrified us with—_bull-beggers_, spirits, urchens, elves,
hags, fairies, satyrs, pans, faunes, sylens, _kit with the cansticke_,
dwarfes, imps, nymphes, changlings, _incubus_, _Robin Good-fellowe_,
the spoone, the mare, the _man in the oke_, the _hell waine_, the _fier
drake_, the _puckle_ Tom thombe, _hob goblin_, _Tom tumbler_, boneless,
and such other bugs, that we are afraid of our owne shadowes."[348:B]

It is remarkable, however, that the Puck of Shakspeare is introduced by
a term not found in this catalogue:—"Farewell, thou _Lob of Spirits_,"
says the fairy to him in their first interview,—a title which, as we
shall perceive hereafter, could not be meant to imply, as Dr. Johnson
supposed, either inactivity of body or dulness of mind, for Puck was
occasionally swifter than the wind, and notorious, as the immediately
subsequent passage informs us, for his shrewdness and ingenuity:—

    "Either I mistake your shape and making quite,"

says the fairy, after bestowing the above title,

    "Or else you are that _shrewd_ and knavish sprite,
     Call'd Robin Good-fellow;"

and then proceeds to characterise him by the peculiarity of his

    —————————————— "Are you not he,
    That fright the maidens of the villagery;
    Skim milk; and sometimes labour in the quern,
    And bootless make the breathless housewife churn;
    And sometime make the drink to bear no barm;
    Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?
    Those that Hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck,
    You do their work, and they shall have good luck:
    Are you not he?"[349:A]

an interrogatory to which he replies in the following terms:—

    ———————————— "Thou speak'st aright;
    I am that merry wanderer of the night.
    I jest to Oberon, and make him smile,
    When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
    Neighing in likeness of a filly-foal:
    And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl,
    In very likeness of a roasted crab;
    And, when she drinks, against her lips I bob,
    And on her wither'd dew-lap pour the ale.
    The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
    Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;
    Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,
    And _tailor_ cries, and falls into a cough;
    And then the whole quire hold their hips, and loffe;
    And waxen in their mirth, and neeze, and swear
    A merrier hour was never wasted there."[349:B]

The greater part of these frolics, indeed all but the last, may be
traced in _Gervase of Tilbury_, _Agricola_, and _Scot_: the "misleading
night-wanderers," for instance, "laughing at their harm," and "neighing
in likeness of a filly foal," feats which _Puck_ afterwards thus again

    "I'll follow you, I'll lead you about a round,
       Through bog, through bush, through brake, through brier:
     _Sometime a horse I'll be_, sometime a hound,
       A hog, a headless bear, sometime a fire;
     And _neigh_, and bark, and grunt, and roar, and burn,
     Like horse, hound, hog, bear, fire, at every turn,"[350:A]—

are expressly attributed by Gervase to the goblins whom he has termed
_Grant_ and _Portuni_:—"Est _in Anglia_ quoddam dæmonum genus, quod
suo idiomate _Grant_ nominant _adinstar pulli equini anniculi, tibiis
erectum oculis scintillantibus_," &c.—"Cum—inter ambiguas noctis
tenebras _Angli_ solitarii quandoque equitant, _Portunus_ nonnunquam
invisus equitanti sese copulat, et cum diutius comitatur euntem, tandem
loris arreptis equum in latum ad manum ducit, in quo dum infixos
volutatur, _portunus exiens cachinnum facit_, et _sic hujuscemodi
ludibrio humanam simplicitatem deridet_."[350:B]

The domestic offices and drudgery which Puck delighted to perform
for his favourites, are mentioned by _Lavaterus_ as belonging to his
_Fairies of the Earth_; by _Agricola_ to his _Cobali_ and _Guteli_,
and by _Scot_ to his _Incubi_ and _Virunculi_. Thus the first of these
writers observes, in the words of the English translation of 1572, that
"men imagine there be certayne elves or fairies of the earth, and tell
many straunge and marvellous tales of them, which they have heard of
their grandmothers and mothers, howe they _have appeared unto those of
the house_, _have done service_, have _rocked the cradell_, and (which
is a signe of good luck) _do continually tary in the house_[350:C];"
and he subsequently gives us from Agricola the following
passage:—"There be some (demons) very mild and gentle, whome some of
the _Germans_ call _Cobali_, as the Grecians do, because they be as it
were apes and counterfeiters of men: for they leaping, and skipping for
joy do laughe, and sæme as though they did many things, when in very
dæde they doo nothing.—Some other call them _Elves_;—they are not
much unlike unto those whom the _Germans_ call _Guteli_, bycause they
sæme to beare good affection towards men, for _they keepe horses_, and
do _other necessary businesse_."[351:A]

The resemblance which these descriptions bear both to the _Brownie_
of the Scotch and the _Puck_ of Shakspeare are very evident: but the
combination and similitude are rendered still more apparent in the
words of _Scot_; the "_Virunculi terrei_," says he, "are such as was
_Robin good fellowe_, that would supplie the office of servants,
speciallie of maids; as to make a fier in the morning, sweepe the
house, grind mustard and malt, drawe water, &c.[351:B];" and speaking
of the _Incubus_, he adds:—"In deede your grandams maides were wont to
set a boll of milke before him and his cousine _Robin good-fellow_, for
grinding of malt or mustard, and sweeping the house at midnight: and
you have also heard that _he would chafe exceedingly, if the maid or
good-wife of the house, having compassion on his nakednesse, laid anie
clothes for him, beesides his messe of white bread and milke, which was
his standing fee. For in that case he saith; What have we here? Hemten,
hamten, here will I never more tread nor stampen._"[351:C]

The lines in _italics_ point out one of the most characteristic
features of the Brownie, while the preceding parts, and the last
word of the quotation, are in unison, both with the passages just
transcribed from our poet, and with that expression of _Puck_, where,
describing to Oberon the terror and dispersion of the rustic comedians,
he says—

    "And, at _our stamp_, here o'er and o'er one falls."[351:D]

It may be also remarked, that the idea of fixing "an ass's nowl" on
Bottom's head, is most probably taken from Scot, who gives us a very
curious receipt for this singular metamorphosis.[351:E]

So far, then, the _Puck_ of Shakspeare is in conformity with the
tales of tradition, and of preceding writers; he is the "Goblin fear'd
in field and town[352:A]," who loves all things best "that befal
preposterously[352:B]," and who, even when the poet wrote, had not
ceased to excite apprehension; for Scot hath told us, nine years before
the era of the _Midsummer-Night's Dream_, that _Robin Good-fellowe_
ceaseth now to be _much feared_.[352:C]

But to these traits of customary character, Shakspeare has added
some which greatly modify the picture, and which have united to the
"drudging goblin," and to the demon of mischievous frolic, duties and
functions of a very different cast. He is the messenger[352:D], and
trusty servant[352:E] of the fairy king, by whom, in these capacities,
he is called gentle[352:F] and good[352:G], and he combines with
all his hereditary attributes, the speed, the legerity, and the
intellectual skill of the highest order of the fairy world. Accordingly
when Oberon says—

    "Fetch me this herb: and be thou here again,
     Ere the leviathan can swim a league;"

he replies,

    "I'll put a girdle round about the earth
     In forty minutes;"[353:A]

and again, on receiving commission from the same quarter:—

    "_Obe._ About the wood go swifter than the wind:

    _Puck._ I go, I go; look, how I go;
            Swifter than arrow from the Tartar's bow."[353:B]

Upon the whole we may be allowed, from the preceding dissertation,
to consider the following series of circumstances as entitled to
the appellation of facts: namely, that the _patria_ of our popular
system of fairy mythology, was the _Scandinavian Peninsula_;
that, on its admission into this country, it gradually underwent
various modifications through the _influence of Christianity_, the
_introduction of classical associations_, and the _prevalence of
feudal manners_; but that, ultimately, two systems became established;
one in Scotland, founded on the wild and more terrific parts of the
Gothic mythology, and the other in England, built, indeed, on the same
system, but from a selection of its milder features, and converted by
the genius of Shakspeare into one of the most lovely creations of a
sportive imagination. Such, in fact, has been the success of our bard
in expanding and colouring the germs of Gothic fairyism; in assigning
to its tiny agents, new attributes and powers; and in clothing their
ministration with the most light and exquisite imagery, that his
portraits, in all their essential parts, have descended to us as
indissolubly connected with, and indeed nearly, if not altogether,
forming, our ideas of the fairy tribe.

The canvas, it is true, which he stretched, has been since expanded,
and new groupes have been introduced; but the outline and the mode of
colouring which he employed, have been invariably followed. It is,
in short, to his picture of the fairy world, that we are indebted
for the _Nymphidia_ of _Drayton_[354:A]; the _Robin Goodfellow_
of Jonson[354:B]; the miniatures of Fletcher and Browne[354:C];
the full-length portraits of Herrick[354:D]; the sly allusions
of Corbet[354:E], and the spirited and picturesque sketches of

To Shakspeare, therefore, as the remodeller, and almost the inventor
of our fairy system, may, with the utmost propriety, be addressed
the elegant compliment which Browne has paid to Occleve, certainly
inappropriate as applied to that rugged imitator of Chaucer, but
admirably adapted to the peculiar powers of our bard, and delightfully
expressive of what we may conceive would be the gratitude, were such
testimony possible, of these children of his playful fancy:—

    "Many times he hath been seene
     With the faeries on the greene,
     And to them his pipe did sound
     As they danced in a round;
     Mickle solace would they make him,
     And at midnight often wake him;
     And convey him from his roome
     To a fielde of yellow broome,
     Or into the meadowes where
     Mints perfume the gentle aire,
     And where Flora spreads her treasure,
     There they would beginn their measure.
     If it chanc'd night's sable shrowds
     Muffled Cynthia up in clowds,
     Safely home they then would see him,
     And from brakes and quagmires free him.
     There are few such swaines as he
     Now a days for harmonie."[355:A]


[256:A] Part II. chapter 1.

[256:B] Part II. chapter 2.

[256:C] In his Discourse on English Poetry.

[256:D] In his Art of English Poesy.

[257:A] In his Apology for Poetry.

[257:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 213.

[257:C] Vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 286; and Chalmers's
Supplemental Apology, p. 272. note.

[257:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 237.

[257:E] Ibid. vol. xiv. p. 217.

[258:A] Part II. chap. 1.

[259:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xiv. p. 43. Act i. sc. 4.

[262:A] "20th May, 1608.

"Edw. Blunt] Entered under t'hands of Sir Geo. Bucke, Kt. and Mr.
Warden Seton, a book called: The booke of _Pericles Prynce of Tyre_."

"A book by the like authoritie, called _Anthony and Cleopatra_."
Chalmers's Supplemental Apology, pp. 488, 489. By a somewhat singular
mistake, the _second_ of May is mentioned by Mr. Malone, as the date of
the entry of Pericles; vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xxi. p. 147.

[263:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xxi. p. 148. The four quarto editions
of Pericles are dated, 1609, 1619, 1630, and 1635.

[263:B] British Bibliographer, vol. i. p. 533.

[263:C] Verses by J. Tatham, prefixed to Richard Brome's _Jovial Crew
or the Merry Beggars_, 4to. 1652.

[264:A] Prologue to the tragedie of _Circe_, by Charles D'Avenant, 1677.

[265:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xxi. p. 389.

[265:B] Ibid. p. 403. 404. 411.

[266:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xxi. p. 390.

[266:B] Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 144.

[267:A] Monthly Review, New Series, vol. lxxvii. p. 158.

[267:B] Thus, in the prologue to a comedy entitled The Hog has lost his
Pearl, 1614, the author, alluding to his own production, says,

    ———— "if it prove so happy as to please,
    Well say, 'tis fortunate, like _Pericles_."

[268:A] As this is the only scene in the play which disgusts from
its _total dereliction of nature_, a result at once decisive as to
Shakspeare having no property in it; and as the mere _omission_ of a
few lines, not a word being either added or altered, will be sufficient
to render the whole probable and inoffensive, I cannot avoid wishing
that such curtailment might be adopted in every future edition.


PENTAPOLIS. _A Room in the Palace._

_Enter SIMONIDES and the KNIGHTS: SIMONIDES reading a letter._

      _Knights._ May we not get access to her, my lord?

      _Sim._ 'Faith, by no means; it is impossible.

      _Knights._ Though loath to bid farewell, we take our leaves.

      _Sim._ So—
    They're well dispatch'd; now to my daughter's letter:
    She tells me here, she'll wed the stranger knight;
    Well, I commend her choice;
    And will no longer have it be delay'd.
    Soft, here he comes:—I must dissemble it.


      _Per._ All fortune to the good Simonides!

      _Sim._ To you as much, sir! I am beholden to you,
    For your sweet musick this last night: my ears,
    I do protest, were never better fed
    With such delightful pleasing harmony.

      _Per._ It is your grace's pleasure to commend;
    Not my desert.

      _Sim._. Sir, you are musick's master.

      _Per._ The worst of all her scholars, my good lord.

      _Sim._ Let me ask one thing. What do you think, sir, of
    My daughter?

      _Per._ As of a most virtuous princess.

      _Sim._ And she is fair too, is she not?

      _Per._ As a fair day in summer; wondrous fair.

      _Sim._ My daughter, sir, thinks very well of you;
    Ay, so well, that——peruse this writing, sir.

      _Per._ What's here!
    A letter, that she loves the knight of Tyre?
    'Tis the king's subtilty, to have my life.          (_Aside._
    O, seek not to intrap, my gracious lord,
    A stranger and distressed gentleman,
    That never aim'd so high, to love your daughter,
    But bent all offices to honour her.

      _Sim._ Thou hast bewitch'd my daughter, and thou art
    A traitor.

      _Per._ By the gods, I have not, sir.
    Never did thought of mine levy offence;
    Nor never did my actions yet commence
    A deed might gain her love, or your displeasure.
    My actions are as noble as my thoughts,
    That never relish'd of a base descent.
    I came unto your court, for honour's cause,
    And not to be a rebel to her state;
    And he that otherwise accounts of me,
    This sword shall prove he's honour's enemy.

      _Sim._ Now, by the gods, I do applaud his courage.
    Here comes my daughter, she can witness it.

_Enter THAISA._

    Yea, mistress, are you so perémptory?
                                      (_Addressing his daughter._
    Will you, not having my consent, bestow
    Your love and your affections on a stranger?—
    Hear, therefore, mistress; frame your will to mine,—
    And you, sir, hear you.—Either be rul'd by me,
    Or I will make you—man and wife.—
    And for a further grief,—God give you joy!
    What, are you both agreed?

      _Thais._ Yes, if you love me, sir.
                                          (_Addressing Pericles._

      _Per._ Even as my life, my blood that fosters it.

Thus contracted, the scene would no longer excite the "supreme
contempt" which Mr. Steevens expresses for it, adding in reference to
its original state, "such another gross, nonsensical dialogue, would
be sought for in vain among the earliest and rudest efforts of the
British theatre. It is impossible not to wish that the _Knights_ had
horse-whipped _Simonides_, and that _Pericles_ had kicked him off the

[271:A] For the sake of perspicuity, I have substituted the word
"knowledge," as synonymous with "cunning," the term in the original.

[272:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xxi. p. 181. Act i. sc. 2.

[273:A] Ibid. p. 213, 214. Act ii. sc. 1.

[273:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xxi. p. 221. Act ii. sc. 1.

[273:C] Ibid. p. 353. Act v. sc. 1.

[274:A] Reed's Shakspeare, p. 371. Act v. sc. 1.

[274:B] Ibid. vol. xxi. p. 374. Act v. sc. 1.

[275:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xxi. p. 384. Act v. sc. 3.

[276:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xxi. pp. 284, 285. Act iii. sc. 4.

[276:B] Ibid. vol. xxi. pp. 297-299. Act iv. sc. 1.


    —————————— "With fairest flowers,
    While summer lasts, and I live here, Fidele,
    I'll sweeten thy sad grave. Thou shalt not lack
    The flower that's like thy face, pale primrose, nor
    The azur'd hare-bell, like thy veins, no nor
    The leaf of eglantine, whom not to slander
    Out-sweeten'd not thy breath."

[277:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xxi. p. 305. Act iv. sc. 1.

[278:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xxi. p. 341. Act iv. sc. 6.—Much of
the dialogue which passes among the worthless inhabitants of this
bagnio, is seasoned with the strong and characteristic humour of
Shakspeare. Boult, a servant of the place, being ordered to cry Marina
through the market of Mitylene, describing her personal charms, is
asked, on his return, how he found the inclination of the people, to
which he replies,

    "'Faith, they listened to me, as they would have hearkened
    to their father's testament. There was a Spaniard's mouth so
    watered, that he went to bed to her very description.

    "_Bawd._ We shall have him here to-morrow with his best ruff on.

    "_Boult._ To-night, to-night. But, mistress, do you know the
    French knight that cowers i' the hams?

    "_Bawd._ Who? Monsieur Veroles?

    "_Boult._ Ay; _he offered to cut a caper at the proclamation;
    but he made a groan at it, and swore he would see her
    to-morrow_."                              Act iv. sc. 3.

"If," says Mr. Malone, alluding to the lines in Italics, "there were no
other proof of Shakspeare's hand in this piece, this admirable stroke
of humour would furnish decisive evidence of it."

[279:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xxi. pp. 365, 366. Act v. sc. 1. The
similar passage in Twelfth Night will occur to every one.

[279:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xxi. p 371. Act v. sc. 1.

[279:C] Ibid. p. 388.—Milton appears to have read Pericles with
attention, and to have caught some of its phraseology, a circumstance
strongly confirmatory of the genuineness of the play: thus Gower, in
the opening lines, speaking of Antiochus, says,—

    "This king unto him took a pheere,
     Who died and left a female heir,
     _So buxom, blithe, and_ full of face,
     As heaven had lent her all her grace;"

a passage which evidently hung on Milton's ear, when, in his L'Allegro,
he is describing the uncertain origin of Euphrosyne:—

    "Fill'd her with thee a daughter fair,
     _So buxom, blithe, and_ debonair."

Again, in the _first_ edition of Lycidas, v. 157., a very significant
epithet seems to have been copied from the same source:—

    "Where thou perhaps under the HUMMING tide:"

                              "The belching whale,
    And HUMMING water must _o'erwhelm_ thy corpse."

It is remarkable, that when Milton, in his second edition, altered the
word to _whelming_, he still clung to his former prototype.

The notice may appear whimsical or trifling, but I cannot help
observing here, that a few lines of the initiatory address of Gower
irresistibly remind me of some of the cadences of The Lay of the Last
Minstrel; for instance, this contemporary of Chaucer, alluding to the
antiquity of his song, says,—

    "It hath been sung at festivals,
     On ember-eves, and holy ales;
     And lords and ladies of their lives,
     Have read it for restoratives:—
     If you, born in these latter times,
     When wit's more ripe, accept my rhymes,
     And that to hear an old man sing,
     May to your wishes pleasure bring,
     I life would wish, and that I might
     Waste it for you, like taper-light."

[281:A] Prologue to the Tragedy of Circe, by Charles D'Avenant. 1675.


    "Amazde I stood to see a crowd
     Of civil throats stretch'd out so lowd:
     (As at a new play) all the roomes
     Did swarm with gentiles mix'd with groomes;
     So that I truly thought all these
     Came to see _Shore_ or _Pericles_."

[282:B] "I was ne'er at one of these before; but I should have seen
_Jane Shore_, and my husband hath promised me any time this twelvemonth
to carry me to _The Bold Beauchamps_."—The Knight of the Burning


    —————— "There is an old tradition,
    That in the times of mighty _Tamburlaine_,
    Of conjuring _Faustus_, and _The Beauchamps Bold_,
    Your poets used to have the second day."
                                      A Playhouse to be Let.

[283:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 249.

[283:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xxi. pp. 152, 153.

[284:A] Many instances of this kind have been pointed out by Mr.
Steevens, in his notes on the play; namely, at pages 208. 213. 221.
227, 228. 258. 302.; and the list might be much enlarged by a careful
collation of the two productions.

[284:B] Where the chapter is entitled "The pitifull state and story of
the Paphlagonian unkinde king and his kinde sonne, first related by the
sonne, then by the blind father."

[285:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xxi. p. 400.

[285:B] Vide Censura Literaria, vol. ix. p. 46.

[285:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xxi. p. 407. note.

[285:D] Ibid. p. 391. note.

[286:A] Vide Douce's Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. ii. pp. 127, 128.

[286:B] Supplemental Apology, pp. 274. et seq.

[286:C] Vol. i. pp. 398-400.

[287:A] For this paragraph, the reader is referred to p. 282. of the
original edition, or to p. 46. of the ninth volume of the Censura

[287:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xx. p. 461. note.

[288:A] For specimens of the doggrel verse which preceded and
accompanied the era of the Comedy of Errors, see Reed's Shakspeare,
vol. xx. pp. 462, 463.

[288:B] The addition of the twin servants to their twin masters,
doubles the improbability, while it adds to the fund of entertainment.

[289:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 262.

[290:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 264.

[291:A] Vide Chalmers's Supplemental Apology, pp. 281, 282.; and
Douce's Illustrations, vol. i. p. 238.

[291:B] Vol. i. p. 498-9, edit. 1598.

[291:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vii. p. 151. note; and Chalmers's
Supplemental Apology, p. 283.

[292:A] Vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 355. note.

[293:A] An Essay on the Dramatic Character of Sir John Falstaff. 8vo.
1777, p. 49.

[293:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 241.—It is conjectured by
Mr. Malone, that Shakspeare, for the advantage of his own theatre,
having written a few lines in The _First_ Part of King Henry VI.,
after his own _Second_ and _Third_ Part had been played, the editors
of the first Folio conceived this a sufficient warrant for attributing
it, along with the others, to him, in the general collection of his
works. Vol. xiv. p. 259. His prior supposition, however, "that they
gave it a place as a necessary introduction to the two other parts,"
especially if we consider the great popularity which it had enjoyed,
and the general ignorance of the audience in historical lore, will
sufficiently account, in those lax times of literary appropriation, for
its insertion and attribution.

[293:C] The discovery was made by Mr. Chalmers, vide Supplemental
Apology, p. 292.

[294:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 126.

[294:B] Mr. Malone, in his "Dissertation on King Henry VI." was of
opinion, that the _First Part_ of the _Contention_, &c. came from the
pen of Robert Greene; (vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xiv. p. 257.) but
in his "Chronological Order," he inclines to the supposition of Marlowe
being the author of both Parts; (vol. ii. p. 246.) It is more probable,
I think, from the language of the _Groatsworth of Wit_, that _Marlowe_,
_Greene_, and _Peele_, were jointly concerned in their composition.

[295:A] Essay on the Dramatic Character of Falstaff, p. 49. note.

[297:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xiii. p. 307. note.

[298:A] See his Table, in Supplemental Apology, pp. 466, 467, where
he tells us that in making it, he has been governed "rather by the
influence of moral certainty, than directed by any supposed necessity
of fixing some of the dramas to each year;" but where is the evidence
that shall reconcile us to the necessity of passing over the years
1610, 1611, and 1612, without the production of a single play, and then
ascribing to the year 1613, three such compositions, as _The Tempest_,
_The Twelfth-Night_, and _Henry VIII._?

[300:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 251.

[303:A] Vide Ouseley's Persian Miscellanies.

[303:B] The Lays of Lanval and Gruelan have been translated by Way
in his Fabliaux, vol. i. p. 157. 177.; a description also of Mourgue
La Faye may be found in the preceding tale, called The Vale of False
Lovers, taken from the prose romance of Lancelot du Lac, 3 vols. folio.
bl. l. Paris. 1520.

[304:A] Thus the Gothic terms _Fegur_, _Alfur_, _Uitrur_, _Dwergur_,
_Meyar_, _Pucke_, _Drot_, are without doubt the prototypes of _Fairy_,
_Elf_, _Wight_, _Dwarf_, _Mare_, _Puck_, and _Trot_.

[305:A] "Votum ille (Svegderus) nuncupavit, de Godheimo, vetustoque
illo Othino quærendo. Duodecim viris comitatus, late per orbem
vagabatur, delatusque in Tyrklandiam et in Svioniam Magnam, plurimos
ibi reperit, sanguinis nexu sibi junctos. Huic peregrinatione quinque
annos impendit, reduxque in Sveciam domi aliquam diu mansit.—Iterum
Gudhemum quæsitum peregre profectus est Svegderus. In orientali plaga
Svioniæ villa est ingens, dicta Stein, ibique positus lapis tantæ
molis; ut domum ingentem magnitudine æquet. Quadam vespera post solis
occasum, a poculis ad lectum progressurus Svegderus, vidit sub ingenti
isto lapide sedentem pygmæum. Ille igitur ejusque comites, vino obruti,
cum cursu lapidem petebant, in janua lapidis stans pygmæus, Svegderum
jubet ingredi, si cum Othino colloqui vellet. Currit Svegderus in
lapidam qui statim clauditur, nec rediit inde Svegderus."—Snor. Sturl.
Hist. Reg. Norv. op. Schöning. vol. i. p. 18.


    "Thar _Motsogner_
     Mæstur vm ordenn
     Dverga allra
     En _Durenn_ annar."                Volupsa, Stroph. 10.

There are two who possess sovereign power, _Motsogner_, who ranks
first, and _Durin_, who otherwise acknowledges no peer.


    "Enn dagsciar,
     _Durins_ nithia,
     Salvaur dudur,
     Svegde velti;
     Tha er ei Stein,
     Hin storgethi:
     Dulsa konur,
     Ept _Dvergi_ hliop:"

a passage which has been thus translated by Peringskiöld:—"At
_lucifuga_, Nanorum domicilii custos, Svegderum decepit, quando
magnanimus ille rex, spe vana delusus, _Nanum_ sequendo, &c."—Yrling.
Sag. cap. xv. p. 15.

[306:C] The original is thus interpreted by Snorro:—"Ad nos ethnicos
ac iram Odini veritos servule ne ingrediaris, inquit vidua; mulier fœda
me mordacibus verbis impetens, se intus _Alfis_ sacrificare dixit,
foris vero lupis libare sanguinem mactatorum animalium."—Oläf. Helg.
Haroldsons Saga. cap. 92. See also, Snorro apud Schöning, tom. ii. p.
124. Hafn. 1778.

[307:A] "Sæmundus tantum," says a learned commentator on the Voluspa,
"qui literas Latinos induxit in Islandiam, e literis Runicis, hæc
poëmata in literaturam vulgarem transtulit, _non composuit_, ut ipsa
monumenta testantur."—Gudm. Andr. Not. in Volusp. Stroph. vi.

[307:B] Two chapters of the Edda of Snorro, Myth. 13. 15. are occupied
by an illustrative enumeration of these Dvergi or Fairies, and the
"Scalda" has catalogued nearly one hundred of the same race.

[308:A] "Sunt adhuc plures tales _Norner_ ad hominum quemlibet in
mundum natum venientes, ut dies illi determinent; harum quædam sunt
divinæ, quædam ex faunorum (_Alfa ættar_) quædam ex nanorum genere
(_Duerga ættar_).—_Nornæ bonæ_ (_Godar Norner_) felicem tribuunt
vitam, sed si quis sinistris premitur fatis, hoc malæ (_Illar Norner_)
efficiunt.—Alia illic urbs _Alfheimur_ vocatur (sc. faunorum mundus),
quam incolunt illi qui _Liös-alfar_ (sc. lucidi fauni) appellantur, sed
_Döck-alfar_ (sc. nigri fauni) viscera terræ inferiora tenent, et sunt
prioribus illis valde dissimiles re et aspectu. _Liösalfi_ sunt _sole
clariores_; _Döckalfi pice nigriores_."—Resen. Edda Island. Myth. xv.

[309:A] "Sunt—_Nymphæ albæ_—_Dominæ bonæ_, Itali _Fatas_, Galli
_Fees_ vocant; quarum adventu multum prosperitatis et rerum
omnium copiam putarunt superstitiosæ anus domibus contingere quas
frequentarint, et ideo domi suæ illis epulas instruxere."—Vide
Kornmann Templ. Natur. part iii. cons. 12. p. 113.

[309:B] "In multis locis _Septentrionalis regionis_, præsertim
nocturno tempore, suum saltatorium orbem cum _omnium musarum consentu_
versare solent. Sed post ortum solem quandoque roscidis deprehenduntur
vestigiis.—Hunc nocturnum ludum vocant incolæ _Choream Elvarum_."—Ol.
Magn. Gent. Septent. lib. iii. c. 11. p. 107. _Chorea Elvarum_ is here
given as a translation of the _Elf-dans_ of the Swedish language.

[309:C] "Fæminæ etiam parturientes olim hasce (sc. Godar Norner)
precibus adibant ut facilius dolore ac onere levarentur; quemadmodum
neque aniles fabulæ; desunt vulgo de spectris sub mulierum specie sexui
parturienti opem ferentibus."—Keysler. de Mulierib. Fatid. sect. 23.
p. 394.

"In the _Northern Regions_," says Loier, speaking of the _Fairies_,
"the report is, that they have a care, and doe diligently attend about
little infantes lying in the cradle; that they doe dresse and undresse
them in their swathling clothes, and doe performe all that which
carefull nurses can doe unto their nurse-children."—Peter le Loier,
Treatise of Strange Sights and Apparitions, chap. ii. p. 19. 4to.

[309:D] "_Svart-Alfar tenebrarum_ spiritus; verum hæc species _Alforum_
putata est non esse mere spiritus, nec nudi homines, sed _medium inter
divos et mortales_."—Comment in Volusp. (Str. xv.) ex Biblioth.

[310:A] Vide note in p. 308.

[310:B] "Quandoque vero saltum adeo profunde in terram impresserant,
ut locus, cui assueverant, _insigni ardore_ orbiculariter peresus, non
parit arenti redivivum cespite gramen."—Ol. Magn. Gent. Sept. l. iii.
c. 2.

[310:C] "A Matribus sive _Mair_ descendunt aniles nugæ; _von der
Nachtmar_, fæminei sexus spectrum credunt somniantes pondere suo
gravans, ut arctius inclusus spiritus ægre possit meare. Angli
adpellant _Nightmare_.—_Alp_ et _Alf_ enim veteribus notat dæmonem
montanum. _Suecis_ et _Anglis Elf_ est Franconiæ incolis _Ephialtes_
etiam est _die Drud_."—Keysler de Mulierib. Fated. sect. 68. p. 497.

[310:D] "Meridianum adpellabatur, quod meridie magis infestum
credebatur, unde hodie observant, ut puerperas hora meridiana non
sinant esse solas, aut camera exire.—Sæpe tamen etiam pro ephialte vel
Incubo usurpatur."—Keysler, sect. 68. p. 497.

[310:E] "Eratque hoc larvarum genus apprime infestum—infantibus
lactentibus cunis ad huc inhærentibus."—Wier. De Præstig. Dæm. l. i.
c. 16. p. 104.

[311:A] "Sese velut umbras—ostendunt, risusque atque inanes cachinnos,
ludicraque præstigia et alia infinita ludibria, quibus infelices
decipiunt, vocali sono confingunt."—Ol. Mag. De Gent. Septent. lib.
vi. cap. 10.

"Dæmon in forma Viri Ignei, jam maximi, jam _parvi sive Virunculi_,
noctu in campis oberrantis, et brevi hinc inde decurrentis,
apparuit."—Becker. Spectrol. p. 120.

[311:B] "Inter cætera mira quædam referuntur de _virunculis montanis_,
quos _Bergmanlein_ vocant, _nanorum forma et statura præditis_." Vide
Kircher. Mund. Subter. lib. viii. sect. 4. c. 4. p. 123.

"Alii nominant _virunculos montanos_—videntur autem esse seneciores,
et vestiti more metallicorum, id est, vittato indusio, et corio circum
lumbos dependente induti."—Vide Agricola de Animant. Sub. c. 37. p. 78.

[311:C] "Sunt gladii, aliaque arma, omnium præstantissima, ab
_Duergis_ fabricata, quæ omnia penetrare, nec arte magica hebetari
credebantur."—Verel. in Hervar. Sag. cap. 7.

[311:D] Vide Verel. in Hervar. Sag. voce _Duerga Smithi_.

[311:E] See, in the Minor Voluspa, the _Hildi-svini_ of Hyndla, a
species of enchanted steed. Stroph. v. et vii.

[312:A] "Columnas frangendo—vel casu petrarum, fractione scalarum,
provocatione fætorum, suffocatione ventorum, ruptora funiculorum,
opprimunt aut conturbant."—Ol. Magn. de Gent. Septentr. lib. vi. cap.

[312:B] They are sometimes represented as coining the money
which they conceal or guard, "in pecunia abundant, _quam cudunt
ipsimet_."—Theophr. Philos. Sag. lib. i. p. 591. ed. Gen. 1658.

[312:C] "Corio circumlumbos dependente."—Vide note B in p. 311.

[312:D] "Trulli, et Guteli; qui et in famulitio viris et fœminis
inserviunt conclavia scopis purgant, _patinas mundant_, _ligna
portant_, _equos curant_."—Vide Tholossani, lib. vii. cap. 14.

[312:E] "In _effigie humana_," says Olaus Magnus, "accommodare solent
ministeriis hominum, nocturnis horis laborando, equosque et jumenta
curando."—De Gent. Sept. lib. iii. c. 11. p. 107.

[313:A] Chaucer apud Chalmers, English Poets, vol. i. p. 51. col. 1.

[313:B] Stoddart's Remarks on Local Scenery and Manners in Scotland,
vol. ii. p. 66.

[313:C] Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, 1st edit. vol. ii. p. 213.

[314:A] "Perhaps this epithet," says Mr. Scott, "is only one example,
among many, of the extreme civility which the vulgar in Scotland use
towards spirits of a dubious, or even a determinedly mischievous
nature. The arch-fiend himself is often distinguished by the softened
title of the "good-man." This epithet, so applied, must sound strange
to a southern ear; but, as the phrase bears various interpretations,
according to the places where it is used, so, in the Scotish dialect,
the _good man of such a place_, signifies the tenant, or life-renter,
in opposition to the laird, or proprietor. Hence, the devil is termed
the good-man, or tenant, of the infernal regions. There was anciently a
practice in Scotish villages, of propitiating this infernal being, by
leaving uncultivated a croft, or small inclosure, of the neighbouring
grounds, which was called the _good-man's croft_. By doing so, it was
their unavowed, but obvious intention, to avert the rage of Satan from
destroying their possessions."—Minstrelsy, vol. ii. p. 216.

[314:B] Of this curious work, a hundred copies of which have lately
been reprinted, the first title is termed, "An Essay on the Nature,"
&c.; and the second "SECRET COMMONWEALTH; or, A Treatise displayeing
the Chiefe Curiosities as they are in Use among diverse of the People
of Scotland to this Day;—SINGULARITIES for the most Part peculiar to
that Nation." 4to. 1691.

[315:A] Kirk's Essay, pp. 1. 7, 8, 9, reprint.

[315:B] Ibid. p. 6.

[315:C] Ibid. p. 10.

[317:A] Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song, 8vo. 1810. pp. 295,
296, 297.

[317:B] The resemblance between the search of Svegder for Godheim or
Fairy-land, and the object of Sir Thopas's expedition, cannot but
strike the reader:—

    "In his sadel he clombe anon,
     And pricked over stile and ston
       An elf quene for to espie;
     Til he so long had riden and gone
     That he fond, in a _privie wone_,
       The _countree of Faërie_.

     Wherein he saughte north and south,
     And often spired with his mouth,
       In many a _foreste wilde_;
     For in that countree nas ther non,
     That to him dorst ride or gon,
       Neither wif ne childe."
                       Cant. Tales, apud Tyrwhitt, v. 13726.

[318:A] Essay, pp. 5. 12. 18.

[318:B] "Scenes of Infancy: descriptive of Teviotdale," 1st edit. 12mo.
p. 161.

[318:C] Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland, vol. xiii.
p. 245.

[319:A] Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, vol. ii. p. 206. 1st edit.

[319:B] Lindsay's Works, 1592, p. 222.

[319:C] Watson's Collection of Scots Poems, 1709, part iii. p. 12.

[319:D] Vide Scott's Minstrelsy, vol. ii. p. 250. note.

[320:A] Thomas The Rhymer, part i., Scott's Minstrelsy, vol. ii. pp.
253, 254.

[320:B] Tale of the Young Tamlane, Minstrelsy, vol. ii. p. 235.


    "If you speak word in Elflyn land,
     Ye'll ne'er get back to your ain countrie."
             Thomas the Rhymer; Minstrelsy, vol. ii. p. 253.

[321:A] Scenes of Infancy, book ii. pp. 71-73. This poem abounds in
passages of exquisite pathos and splendid imagination. The book, whence
the lines just quoted are taken, closes with the following apostrophe
to Mr. Scott:—

    "O Scott! with whom, in youth's serenest prime,
     I wove, with careless hand, the fairy rhyme,
     Bade chivalry's barbaric pomp return,
     And heroes wake from every mouldering urn!
     Thy powerful verse, to grace the courtly hall,
     Shall many a tale of elder time recall,
     The deeds of knights, the loves of dames, proclaim,
     And give forgotten bards their former fame.
     Enough for me, if Fancy wake the shell,
     To eastern minstrels strains like thine to tell;
     Till saddening memory all our haunts restore,
     The wild-wood walks by Esk's romantic shore,
     The circled hearth, which ne'er was wont to fail
     In cheerful joke, or legendary tale,
     Thy mind, whose fearless frankness nought could move,
     Thy friendship, like an elder brother's love,
     While from each scene of early life I part,
     True to the beatings of this ardent heart,
     When, half-deceased, with half the world between,
     My name shall be unmentioned on the green,
     When years combine with distance, let me be,
     By all forgot, _remembered yet by thee_!"

If Mr. Scott, yielding to this appeal, would present us with a complete
edition of the poetical works, together with a life, of his lamented
friend, who was not less remarkable for his learning than his genius,
he would confer no trifling obligation on the literary world.

[322:A] Kirk's Essay on Fairies, pp. 2, 3.

[322:B] A remarkable instance of the continuance of this superstition,
even in the present day, is recorded by Mr. Cromek, to whom an old
woman of Nithsdale gave the following detail, "with the artless
simplicity of sure belief." "I' the night afore Roodsmass," said she,
"I had trysted wi' a neeber lass, a Scots mile frae hame, to talk
anent buying braws i' the fair:—we had nae sutten lang aneath the
haw-buss, till we heard the loud laugh o' fowk riding, wi' the jingling
o' bridles, an' the clanking o' hoofs. We banged up, thinking they wad
ryde owre us;—we kent nae but it was drunken fowk riding to the fair,
i' the fore night. We glowred roun' and roun', an' sune saw it was the
_Fairie fowk's Rade_. We cowered down till they passed by. A learn o'
light was dancing owre them, mair bonnie than moon-shine: they were a
wee, wee fowk, wi' green scarfs on, but ane that rade foremost, an'
that ane was a gude deal larger than the lave, wi' bonnie lang hair
bun' about wi' a strap, whilk glented lyke stars. They rade on braw
wee whyte naigs, wi' unco lang swooping tails, an' manes hung wi'
whustles that the win' played on. This, an' their tongue whan they
sang, was like the soun of a far awa Psalm. Marion an' me was in a
brade lea fiel' whare they cam by us, a high hedge o' bawtrees keep it
them frae gaun through Johnnie Corrie's corn;—but they lap a' owre't
like sparrows, an' gallop't into a greene knowe beyont it. We gade i'
the morning to look at the tredded corn, but the fient a hoof mark was
there, nor a blade broken."—Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song,
pp. 298, 299.

[323:A] Vide Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, vol. ii. p. 214.; and
Tyrwhitt's Note on Canterbury Tales, v. 6437.

[324:A] Leyden's Scenes of Infancy, p. 24.

[324:B] Kirk's Essay on Fairies, pp. 5, 6.

[324:C] Thus Gervase of Tilbury tells us, that one _Peter De Cabinam_
residing in a city of Catalonia, being teazed by his daughter, wished
in his passion, that the devil might take her, when she was instantly
borne away. "About seven years afterwards, an inhabitant of the
same city, passing by the mountain (adjacent to it), met a man who
complained bitterly of the burthen he was constantly forced to bear.
Upon enquiring the cause of his complaining, as he did not seem to
carry any load, the man related, that he had been unwarily devoted to
the spirits by an execration, and that they now employed him constantly
as a vehicle of burden." As a proof of his assertion, he added, that
"the daughter of his fellow citizen was detained by the spirits, but
that they were willing to restore her, if her father would come and
demand her on the mountain. _Peter de Cabinam_, on being informed of
this, ascended the mountain to a lake (on its summit), and, in the name
of God, demanded his daughter; when a tall, thin, withered figure, with
wandering eyes, and almost bereft of understanding, was wafted to him
in a blast of wind."—Scott's Minstrelsy, vol. ii. pp. 181, 182.

[324:D] See Pennant's Tour in Scotland, 8vo. 1769.

[325:A] Cromek on Nithsdale and Galloway Song, p. 307.

[325:B] Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, vol. ii. p. 208.

[325:C] Scott's Minstrelsy, vol. ii. p. 238.

[326:A] Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song, pp. 308, 309.

[327:A] _Bale._—A Faggot.

[327:B] Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, vol. ii. pp. 240, 241.

[328:A] See Collins's Poems, Sharpe's edition, pp. 106, 107, 108.

[328:B] Encyclopedia Britannica, in verbo.

[328:C] Essay on Fairies, p. 12.

[329:A] Essay on Fairies, pp. 1. 5. 7.

[329:B] Essay, pp. 11, 12.

[329:C] See Scott's Minstrelsy, vol. ii. p. 356.


    "Brown dwarf, that o'er the muir-land strays,
       Thy name to Keeldar tell."—

    "_The Brown Man of the Muirs_, who stays
       Beneath the heather bell."
                        Scott's Minstrelsy, vol. ii. p. 360.

Walsingham, says Dr. Leyden, mentions a story of an unfortunate youth,
whose brains were extracted from his skull, during his sleep, by this
malicious being. P. 356.

[330:A] Essay on Fairies, p. 37.

[330:B] Kirk, after mentioning as his fifth curiosity, "A being Proof
of Lead, Iron, and Silver," adds the following curious notice of the
strong attachment of the Scotch to music. "Our Northern-Scotish, and
our Athole Men are so much addicted to and delighted with Harps and
Musick, as if, like King Saul, they were possessed with a forrein
Spirit, only with this Difference, that Musick did put Saul's
Play-fellow a sleep, but roused and awaked our Men, vanquishing their
own Spirits at Pleasure, as if they were impotent of its Powers, and
unable to command it; for wee have seen some poor Beggars of them,
chattering their Teeth for Cold, that how soon they saw the Fire, and
heard the Harp, leapt throw the House like Goats and Satyrs." Pp. 37,

[330:C] The Workes of King James, folio, 1616, p. 127.

[331:A] Description of the Western Islands of Scotland, p. 334.

[336:A] Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song, pp. 330, 331. et seq.

[336:B] Collins's Poems, Sharpe's edition, p. 105.

[337a:A] That Warner's _Fairy-land_ was in the infernal regions, is
sufficiently proved from the following lines:—

    "The _Elves_, and _Fairies_, taking fists,
       Did hop a merrie round:
     And _Cerberus_ had lap enough:
       And _Charon_ leasure found."
          Chalmers's English Poets, vol. iv. p. 458. col. 2.

[338a:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. pp. 433, 434. Act iii. sc. 2.


    "Full often time he Pluto and his quene,
     Proserpina, and alle hir Faerie,
     Disporten hem and maken melodie."—

    "Pluto, that is the king of Faerie,
     And many a ladie in his compagnie
     Folwing his wif, the quene Proserpina."

         The Marchantes Tale, vide Chalmers's English Poets,
               vol. i. p. 77. col. 1.; p. 78. col. 2.

[337b:A] _Oberon_, or, more properly _Auberon_, has been derived, by
some antiquaries, from "_l'aube_ du jour;" and _Mab_ his Queen, from
_amabilis_, so that _lucidity_ and _amiability_, their characteristics,
as delineated by Shakspeare, may be traced in their names.

[337b:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. pp. 363-366. Act ii. sc. 2.

[338b:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. pp. 367, 368. Act ii. sc. 2.

[338b:B] The Quip Modest, 8vo. 1788, p. 12.

[338b:C] Essay on Fairies, p. 8. and p. 44.

[339:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 448. Act iv. sc. 1.

[339:B] Ibid. vol. iv. pp. 495, 496. Act v. sc. 2.

[339:C] Essay on Fairies, pp. 7, 8.

[340:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. pp. 204, 205. 208, 209. Merry Wives
of Windsor, act v. sc. 5.

[341:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 346. Midsummer-Night's Dream,
act ii. sc. 1.

[341:B] Ibid. vol. iv. pp. 154, 155. Tempest, act v. sc. 1.

[341:C] Ibid. vol. v. p. 202. Merry Wives of Windsor, act v. sc. 5.

[341:D] Ibid. vol. iv. p. 381. Midsummer-Night's Dream, act ii. sc. 3.

[341:E] Ibid. vol. iv. p. 379. Act ii. sc. 2.

[341:F] Ibid. vol. iv. p. 344. Act ii. sc. 1.

[341:G] Ibid. vol. iv. p. 402. Act iii. sc. 1.

[341:H] Ibid. vol. iv. p. 403. Act iii. sc. 1.

[342:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xx. pp. 51-56. Romeo and Juliet, act i.
sc. 4.

[342:B] Ibid. vol. iv. pp. 356, 357. Midsummer-Night's Dream, act ii.
sc. 2.

[342:C] Ibid. vol. iv. p. 151. Tempest, act v. sc. 1.—Thus Milton, in
conformity with these passages, describes his fairy night-scene:—

    ————————————— "Faery elves,
    Whose midnight revels, by a forest side,
    Or fountain, some belated peasant sees,
    Or dreams he sees, while over-head the moon
    Sits arbitress, and nearer to the earth
    Wheels her pale course; they, on their mirth and dance
    Intent, with jocund musick charm his ear."
              Todd's Milton, 2d edit. vol. ii. pp. 368, 369.

The music here alluded to is beautifully described, as an accompaniment
of the Scottish Fairies, in Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account
of Scotland:—"Notwithstanding the progressive increase of knowledge,
and proportional decay of superstition in the Highlands, these genii
are still supposed by many of the people to exist in the woods and
sequestered valleys of the mountains, where they frequently appear
to the lonely traveller, clothed in green, with dishevelled hair
floating over their shoulders, and with faces more blooming than the
vermil blush of a summer morning. At night in particular, when fancy
assimilates to its own preconceived ideas, every appearance, and every
sound, the wandering enthusiast is frequently entertained by their
musick, more melodious than he ever before heard." Vol. xii. p. 462.

[343:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. pp. 206, 207. Merry Wives of
Windsor, act v. sc. 5.

[343:B] Ibid. vol. iv. p. 343. Midsummer-Night's Dream, act ii. sc. 1.

[344:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. pp. 150, 151. Tempest, act v. sc. 1.

[344:B] Ibid. vol. iv. pp. 344, 345. Midsummer-Night's Dream, act ii.
sc. 1.

[344:C] Ibid. vol. iv. p. 379. Act ii. sc. 2.

[345:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. pp. 380-383. Midsummer-Night's
Dream, act ii. sc. 3.

[346:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. pp. 402, 403. Midsummer-Night's
Dream, act iii. sc. 1.

[346:B] Ibid. p. 493. Act v. sc. 2.

[347:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. v. pp. 205, 206. Merry Wives of
Windsor, act v. sc. 5.

[347:B] Ibid. vol. xx. p. 59. Romeo and Juliet, act i. sc. 4.

[347:C] Ibid. vol. v. p. 203. Merry Wives of Windsor, act v. sc. 5.

[348:A] Burton's account of the Fairies, first published in 1617, is
given with his usual erudition, and the part alluded to in the text,
proceeds thus:—"A bigger kind there is of them (fairies), called
with us _Hobgoblins_, and _Robin Good fellows_, that would in those
superstitious times, grind corn for a mess of milk, cut wood, or do
any manner of drudgery work. They would mend old Irons in those Æolian
Isles of Lypara, in former ages, and have been often seen and heard.
_Tholosanus_ calls them _Trullos_ and _Getulos_, and saith, that
in his dayes they were common in many places of France. _Dithmarus
Bleskenius_, in his description of Island, reports for a certainty,
that almost in every family they have yet some such familiar spirits;
and _Fælix Malleolus_ in his book de crudel. dæmon., affirms as much,
that these _Trolli_ or _Telchines_, are very common in Norway, _and
seen to do drudgery_ work, to draw water, saith _Wierus_, lib. i. cap.
32, dress meat or any such thing."

      Anatomy of Melancholy, fol. 7th edit., 1676, p. 29, col. 1.

[348:B] The Discoverie of Witchcraft, 4to., 1584, pp. 152, 153.

[349:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. pp. 347, 348. Midsummer-Night's
Dream, act ii. sc. 1.

[349:B] Ibid. vol. iv. pp. 350-352.

[350:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 398.

[350:B] Vide De Otiis Imperialibus, dec. iii. cap. 61, 62.

[350:C] Of Ghostes and Spirites walking by nyght, 4to. 1572, p. 49.

[351:A] Of Ghostes and Spirites walking by nyght, 4to. 1572, p. 75.

[351:B] Discoverie of Witchcraft, 4to. 1581, p. 521.

[351:C] Discoverie, p. 85.

[351:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 409.

[351:E] "Cut off the head of a horsse or an asse (before they be dead),
otherwise the vertue or strength thereof will be the lesse effectuall,
and make an earthen vessell of fit capacitie to conteine the same, and
let it be filled with the oile and fat thereof; cover it close, and
dawbe it over with lome: let it boile over a soft fier three daies
continuallie, that the flesh boiled may run into oile, so as the bare
bones may be seene: beate the haire into powder, and mingle the same
with the oile; and annoint the heads of the standers by, and they shall
seeme to have horsses or asses heads."—Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584,
p. 315.

[352:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 434. Midsummer-Night's Dream,
act iii. sc. 2.

[352:B] Ibid. vol. iv. p. 416.

[352:C] Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584.—Epistle to the Readers, in
which he afterwards speaks of "the want of Robin Goodfellowe and the
fairies, which were woont to mainteine chat, and the common peoples
talke in this behalfe."

[352:D] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 406. Midsummer-Night's Dream,
act iii. sc. 2.

    "_Ob._ Here comes my _messenger_."

[352:E] Ibid. vol. iv. p. 380. Act ii. sc. 3.

    "_Puck._ Fear not, my lord, your _servant_ shall do so."

[352:F] Ibid. vol. iv. p. 369. Act ii. sc. 2.

    "_Ob._ My _gentle_ Puck, come hither:"

[352:G] Ibid. vol. iv. p. 445. Act iv. sc. 1.

    "_Ob._ Welcome, _good_ Robin."

[353:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 374. Midsummer-Night's Dream,
act ii. sc. 2.

[353:B] Ibid. vol. iv. p. 415. Act iii. sc. 2.

[354:A] This beautiful and highly fanciful poem could not certainly
have been written before 1605; for the Don Quixote of Cervantes, which
was first published in Spain during the above year, is expressly
mentioned in one of the stanzas; and Mr. Malone thinks that the
earliest edition of the Nymphidia was printed in 1619.—Vide Reed's
Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 350.

[354:B] Peck attributes this song to Ben Jonson; and Percy
observes, that it seems to have been originally intended for some
masque.—Reliques, vol. iii. p. 203. ed. 1594.

[354:C] See Fletcher's Faithful Shepherdess, and Browne's Britannia's

[354:D] Herrick, as I have observed in a former work, seems more
particularly to have delighted in drawing the manners and costume of
the fairy world.—He has devoted several of his most elaborate poems
to these sportive creations of fancy. Under the titles of The Fairy
Temple, Oberon's Palace, The Fairy Queen, and Oberon's Feast, a variety
of curious and minute imagery is appositely introduced. Literary Hours,
3d edit. vol. iii. p. 85.—To these may be added another elegantly
descriptive piece, entitled, King Oberon's Apparel, written by Sir John
Mennis, and published in The Musarum Deliciæ, or The Muses Recreation,

[354:E] In his political ballad entitled The Fairies Farewell.

[354:F] Vide L'Allegro, and the occasional sketches in Paradise Lost
and Comus.

[355:A] See Shepherd's Pipe, Eglogue I. Chalmers's English Poets, vol.
vi. p. 315. col. 2.



In endeavouring to ascertain the chronological series of our author's
plays, we must ever hold in mind, that, in general, nothing more than
_a choice of probabilities_ is before us, and that, whilst weighing
their preponderancy, the slightest additional circumstance, so equally
are they sometimes balanced, may turn the scale. It appears to us, that
an occurrence of this kind will be found to point out, more accurately
than hitherto, the precise period to which the _first_ sketch of the
following tragedy may be ascribed.

7. ROMEO AND JULIET: 1593. The passage in this play on which the
commentators have chiefly relied for the establishment of their
respective dates, runs thus:—

      "_Nurse._ Even or odd, of all days in the year,
    Come Lammas-eve at night, shall she (Juliet) be _fourteen_.
    That shall she, marry; I remember it well.
    'Tis since _the earthquake_ now _eleven years_;
    And she was _wean'd_,—I never shall forget it,—
    For then she could _stand alone_; nay, by the rood,
    She could have _run_ and _waddled_ all about."[356:A]

Building on Shakspeare's usual custom of alluding to the events of his
own time, and transferring them to the scene and period of the piece
on which he happened to be engaged, Mr. Tyrwhitt with much probability
conjectured, that the poet, in these lines, had in view the earthquake
which, according to Stowe[357:A] and Gabriel Harvey, took place in
England on the 6th of April, 1580; but then, relying, unfortunately
too much, on the computation of the good nurse, he hastily concludes,
that _Romeo and Juliet_, or a part of it at least, was written in

Mr. Malone, after admitting the inference of Mr. Tyrwhitt, adds another
conjecture, that the foundation of this play might be laid in 1591, and
finished at a subsequent period[357:C], which period he has assigned in
his chronology to the year 1595.[357:D]

Lastly, Mr. Chalmers, principally because Shakspeare appears to have
borrowed some imagery in the fifth act, from _Daniel's Complaint
of Rosamond_, which was entered at Stationers' Hall on the 4th of
February, 1592, has ascribed the first sketch of _Romeo and Juliet_ to
the spring-time of the same year.[357:E]

Now, adopting the opinion of Mr. Tyrwhitt as to Shakspeare's reference
to the earthquake of 1580, a little attention to the lines which the
poet has put into the month of his garrulous nurse, will convince
us that these gentlemen are alike mistaken in their chronological

The nurse in the first place tells us, that Juliet was within little
more than a fortnight of being fourteen years old, an assertion in
which she could not be incorrect, as it is corroborated by Lady
Capulet, who thinks her daughter, in consequence of this age, fit for
marriage. In the next place she informs us that Juliet was weaned on
the day of the earthquake, and as she could then stand and run alone,
we must conceive her to have been at this period at least a twelvemonth
old; and thirdly, and immediately afterwards we are told, with a
contradiction which assigns to Juliet but the age of twelve,—

    "'Tis since the earthquake now eleven years."

There can be no doubt, therefore, that this miscalculation of _eleven_
for _thirteen_ years, was intended as a characteristic feature of the
superannuated nurse, and that, assuming the era of 1580 as the epoch
meant to be conveyed in the allusion to the earthquake at Verona, the
composition of _Romeo and Juliet_ must be allotted, not to the years
1591, 1592, or 1595, but to the year 1593.

It appears somewhat singular, indeed, that Mr. Malone, contrary to
his usual custom, should have given a place in his Chronology, not to
the _first sketch_ of this play, but to a _supposed completion_ of
it in 1595; more especially when we find, from his own words[358:A],
that this, like several other dramas of our bard, was gradually and
successively improved, and that, though first printed in 1597, it was
not filled up and completed as we now have it, until 1599, when a
second edition was published.

Some surprise also must be excited by the reasons which induced Mr.
Chalmers to date the first sketch of this tragedy in the spring of
1592. Of these the first, he remarks, "is plainly an allusion to the
Faerie Queene, the three first books of which were published in 1590;
and which was continually present in our poet's mind; Mercutio, in his
airy and satiric speech, cries out,—

    "O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
     She is the fairies midwife; and she comes,
     In shape no bigger than aggat stone
     On the fore-finger of an alderman:"[358:B]

forgetting, that between the _popular fairies_, the _tiny elves_, of
Shakspeare, and the _allegorical fairies_ of Spenser, there is not the
smallest similarity, not even a point in contact. The second, drawn
from the imitation of Daniel, has been noticed above, and might with as
much, if not more probability be assigned for its date in 1593 as in
the year preceding.

There is much reason to suppose, from a late communication by Mr.
Haslewood, that this play was not altogether founded on Arthur Broke's
"Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet," but partly on a _theatrical
exhibition_ of the same story which had taken place anterior to 1562;
for in a copy of Broke's poem of this date in the Collection of the
Rev. H. White, of the Close, Lichfield, occurs an address "To the
Reader," not found in Mr. Capell's impression of 1562, and omitted in
the edition of 1587, which closes with the following curious piece of
information:—"_Though I saw_," observes Broke, speaking in reference
to his story, "_the same argument lately set foorth on the stage with
more commendation, then I can looke for_: (_being there much better set
forth then I have or can dooe_) yet the _same matter_ penned as it is,
may serve to _lyke good effect_, if the readers do brynge with them
_lyke good myndes_, to consider it, which hath the more incouraged me
to publishe it, suche as it is."[359:A]

Here we find three important circumstances announced: that a play on
this subject had, previous to 1562, been _set forth with no little
preparation_; that it contained the _same argument_ and _matter_
with the Tragical History, and that it had been _well received_ and
productive of a _good effect_! Thirty years, consequently, before
Shakspeare's tragedy appeared, had the stage been familiar with this
pathetic tale.[359:B]

The play, therefore, as well as the metrical history of Broke, must
have departed, in its catastrophe, from the story of Luigi da Porta in
which Juliet awakens from her trance before the death of Romeo. It is
probable also that the play misled the English translator, and both
Shakspeare; for it is remarkable that Broke, who pretends to translate
from Bandello, has deserted his supposed original, which, with regard
to the denouement, as in every thing else, precisely copies Da Porta,
who, it would seem, had the honour of improving on a preceding writer
by the introduction of this novel and affecting incident.

"The origin of Shakspeare's _Romeo and Juliet_," observes Mr. Dunlop,
"has generally been referred to the Giuletta of Luigi da Porta. Of
this tale Mr. Douce has attempted to trace the origin as far back as
the Greek romance by Xenophon Ephesius; but when it is considered that
this work was not published in the lifetime of Luigi da Porta, I do
not think the resemblance so strong as to induce us to believe that it
was seen by that novelist. His Giuletta is evidently borrowed from the
thirty-second novel of Massucio, which must unquestionably be regarded
as the ultimate origin of the celebrated drama of Shakspeare, though it
has escaped, as far as I know, the notice of his numerous commentators.
In the story of Massucio, a young gentleman, who resided in Sienna,
is privately married by a friar to a lady of the same place, of whom
he was deeply enamoured. Mariotto, the husband, is forced to fly from
his country, on account of having killed one of his fellow-citizens
in a squabble in the streets. An interview takes place between him
and his wife before the separation. After the departure of Mariotto,
Giannozza, the bride, is pressed by her friends to marry: she discloses
her perplexing situation to the friar, by whom the nuptial ceremony
had been performed. He gives her a soporific powder, which she drinks
dissolved in water; and the effect of this narcotic is so strong that
she is believed to be dead by her friends, and interred according to
custom. The accounts of her death reach her husband in Alexandria,
whither he had fled, before the arrival of a special messenger, who
had been dispatched by the friar to acquaint him with the real posture
of affairs. Mariotto forthwith returns in despair to his own country,
and proceeds to lament over the tomb of his bride. Before this time
she had recovered from her lethargy, and had set out for Alexandria in
quest of her husband, who meanwhile is apprehended and executed for
the murder he had formerly committed. Giannozza, finding he was not in
Egypt, returns to Sienna, and, learning his unhappy fate, retires to a
convent, where she soon after dies. The catastrophe here is different
from the novel of Luigi da Porta and the drama of Shakspeare, but there
is a perfect correspondence in the preliminary incidents. The tale of
Massucio was written about 1470, which was long prior to the age of
Luigi da Porta, who died in 1531, or of Cardinal Bembo, to whom some
have attributed the greater part of the composition."[362:A]

With the exception of the incident which distinguishes the close of
the story as related by Luigi da Porta, Shakspeare has worked up the
materials which preceded his drama with the most astonishing effect;
and by the beauty of his sentiments, the justness of his delineation,
and the felicity of his language, he has drawn the most glowing,
pathetic, and interesting picture of disastrous love which the world
has yet contemplated.

We perceive the highest tone of enthusiasm, combined with the utmost
purity, fidelity, and tenderness, pervading every stage of the
intercourse between _Romeo and Juliet_: and, elevated as they are, to
an almost _perfect ideal_ representation of the influence of love, so
much of actual nature is interwoven with every expression of their
feelings, that our sympathy irresistibly augments with the progress
of the fable, and becomes at length almost overwhelming. Indeed,
such is the force of the appeal which the poet makes to the heart in
this bewitching drama, that, were it not relieved by the occasional
intervention of lighter emotions, the effect would be truly painful;
but, with his wonted fertility of resource, our author has effected
this purpose in a manner, which, while it heightens by the power of
contrast, at the same time diversifies the picture, and exhilarates
the mind. Every hue of many-coloured life, the effervescence of hope,
and the hushed repose of disappointment, the bloom of youth, and the
withered aspect of age, the intoxication of rapture, and the bitterness
of grief, the scintillations of wit, and the speechless agonies of
despair, tears and smiles, groans and laughter, are so blended in the
texture of this piece, as to produce the necessary relief, without
disturbing the union and harmony of the whole, or impairing, in the
smallest degree, the gradually augmenting interest which accompanies
the hapless lovers to their tomb.

What, for instance, can be more opposed to each other, and to the
youthful victims of the drama, than the characters of _Mercutio_,
_Friar Lawrence_, and the _Nurse_; yet the brilliancy and gaiety of
the first, the philosophic dignity of the second, and the humorous
garrulity of the third, while they afford a welcome repose to our
feelings, are essential to the developement of the plot, and to the
full display of those scenes of terror and distress which alternately
freeze and melt the heart, to the last syllable of this sweet and
mournful tale.

Numerous as have been its relators, who has told it like our matchless
bard? "It was reserved for Shakspeare," remarks Schlegel, in a tone
of the finest enthusiasm, "to unite purity of heart and the glow of
imagination, sweetness and dignity of manners and passionate violence,
in one ideal picture. By the manner in which he has handled it, it
has become a glorious song of praise on that inexpressible feeling
which ennobles the soul, and gives to it its highest sublimity, and
which elevates even the senses themselves into soul, and at the same
time is a melancholy elegy on its frailty, from its own nature, and
external circumstances; at once the deification and the burial of love.
It appears here like a heavenly spark that, descending to the earth,
is converted into a flash of lightning, by which mortal creatures
are almost in the same moment set on fire and consumed. Whatever is
most intoxicating in the odour of a southern spring, languishing in
the song of the nightingale, or voluptuous in the first opening of
the rose, is breathed into this poem. But even more rapidly than the
earliest blossoms of youth and beauty decay, it hurries on from the
first timidly-bold declaration of love and modest return, to the most
unlimited passion, to an irrevocable union; then, amidst alternating
storms of rapture and despair, to the death of the two lovers, who
still appear enviable as their love survives them, and as by their
death they have obtained a triumph over every separating power. The
sweetest and the bitterest, love and hatred, festivity and dark
forebodings, tender embraces and sepulchres, the fullness of life and
self-annihilation, are all here brought close to each other; and all
these contrasts are so blended in the harmonious and wonderful work,
into a unity of impresions, that the echo which the whole leaves behind
in the mind, resembles a single but endless sigh."[364:A]

8. THE TAMING OF THE SHREW: 1594. Nothing appearing to invalidate the
conclusion of Mr. Malone, that this was one of our author's earliest
plays, we have adhered to his chronology; for the lines quoted by Mr.
Chalmers, in order to establish a posterior date,

    "'Tis death for any one in Mantua
     To come to Padua," &c.[364:B]

would, if there be any weight in this instance, procure a similar
assignment, as to time, for the _Comedy of Errors_, where we find a
like prohibition of intercourse:—

    ——— "If any Syracusan born
    Come to the bay of Ephesus, he dies;"[364:C]

yet no one, in consequence of such a passage, has entertained an idea
of ascribing this comedy to the year 1598.

The outline of the induction to this drama may be traced, as Mr. Douce
observes[364:D], through many intermediate copies, to the _Sleeper
Awakened_ of the Arabian Nights; but it is most probable, that the
immediate source of this prelude, both to the anonymous author of
the old _Taming of a Shrew_, and to Shakspeare himself, was the
_story-book_ said by Warton to have been once in the possession of
Collins the poet, a collection of short comic tales, "sett forth by
maister Richard Edwards, mayster of her Majesties revels," in the year

From whatever source, however, this apologue may have been directly
taken, we cannot but feel highly indebted to Shakspeare for its
conversion into a lesson of exquisite moral irony, while, at the same
time, it unfolds his wonted richness of humour, and minute delineation
of character. The whole, indeed, is conducted with such lightness and
frolic spirit, with so many happy touches of risible simplicity, yet
chastised by so constant an adherence to nature and verisimilitude, as
to form one of the most delightful and instructive sketches.

So admirably drawn is the character of Sly, that we regret to find the
interlocution of the groupe before whom the piece is supposed to be
performed, has been dropped by our author after the close of the first
scene of the play. Here we behold the jolly tinker nodding, and, at
length, honestly exclaiming, '_Would't were done!_' and, though the
integrity of the representation require, that he should finally return
to his former state, the transformation, as before, being effected
during his sleep, yet we hear no more of this truly comic personage;
whereas in the spurious play, he is frequently introduced commenting
on the scene, is carried off the stage fast asleep, and, on the
termination of the drama, undergoes the necessary metamorphosis.

It would appear, therefore, either that our bard's continuation
of the induction has been unaccountably lost, or that he trusted
the remainder of Sly's part to the improvisatory ingenuity of the
performers; or, what is more likely, that they were instructed to
copy a certain portion of what had been written, for this subordinate
division of the tinker's character, by the author of the elder play.
Some of the observations, indeed, of Sly, as given by the writer of
this previous comedy, are incompatible with the fable and _Dramatis
Personæ_ of Shakspeare's production; and have, consequently, been very
injudiciously introduced by Mr. Pope; but there are two passages which,
with the exception of but two names, are not only accordant with our
poet's prelude, but absolutely necessary to its completion. Shakspeare,
as we have seen, represents Sly as nodding at the end of the first
scene; and the parts of the anonymous play to which we allude, are
those where the nobleman orders the sleeping tinker to be put into his
own apparel again, and where he awakens in this garb, and believes
the whole to have been a dream; the only alterations required in this
_finale_, being the omission of the Christian appellative _Sim_, and
the conversion of _Tapster_ into _Hostess_. These few lines were, most
probably, those which Shakspeare selected as a necessary accompaniment
to his piece, from the old drama supposed to have been written in
1590[366:A]; and these lines should be withdrawn from the notes in all
the modern editions, and, though distinguished as borrowed property,
should be immediately connected with the text.[366:B]

As to the play itself, the rapidity and variety of its action, the
skilful connection of its double plot, and the strength and vivacity
of its principal characters, must for ever ensure its popularity.
There is, indeed, a depth and breadth of colouring, in its execution,
a boldness and prominency of relief, which may be thought to border
upon coarseness; but the result has been an effect equally powerful and
interesting, though occasionally, as the subject demanded, somewhat
glaring and grotesque.

_Petruchio_, _Katharina_, and _Grumio_, the most important personages
of the play, are consistently supported throughout, and their peculiar
features touched and brought forward with singular sharpness and
spirit; the wild, fantastic humour of the first, the wayward and
insolent demeanor of the second, contrasted with the meek, modest, and
retired disposition of her sister, together with the inextinguishable
wit and drollery of the third, form a picture, at once rich, varied,
and pre-eminently diverting.

9. THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA: 1595. There can be little doubt that
the episode of _Felismena_, in the _Diana_ of _George of Montemayor_,
was the source whence the principal part of the plot of this play has
been taken; for, though the Translation of _Bartholomew Yong_, was
not _published_ until 1598, it appears from the translator's "Preface
to divers learned Gentlemen," that it had been completed in the year
1582; "it hath lyen by me finished," he says, "Horace's _ten and six
yeeres more_," a declaration which renders it very probable, that
the manuscript may have been circulated among his friends, and the
more striking parts impressed upon their memory. But we are further
informed, in this very preface, that a partial but excellent version
of the _Diana_, had preceded his labours:—"Well might I," says Yong,
"have excused these paines, if onely _Edward Paston, Esquier_, who
heere and there for his own pleasure, as I understand, hath aptly
turned out of Spanish into English some leaves that liked him best,
had also made an absolute and complete Translation of all the Parts
of _Diana_: the which, for his travell in that countrey, and great
knowledge in that language, accompanied with other learned and good
parts in him, had of all others, that ever I heard translate these
Bookes, prooved the rarest and worthiest to be embraced." We also
learn from Dr. Farmer, that the _Diana_ was translated two or three
years before 1598, by one Thomas Wilson; but, he adds, "this work, I
am persuaded, was never published _entirely_; perhaps some parts of it
were, or the tale might have been translated by others."[367:A]

These intimations sufficiently warrant the conclusion, that Shakspeare
may have become familiar with this portion of the Spanish romance,
anterior to the publication of Yong's version in 1598; indeed so
closely does the story of Proteus and Julia correspond with the episode
of Montemayor, that Shakspeare's obligations cannot be mistaken. "He
has copied the original," as Mr. Dunlop observes, "in some minute
particulars, which clearly evince the source from which the drama has
been derived. As for example, in the letter which Proteus addresses
to Julia, her rejection of it when offered by her waiting-maid, and
the device by which she afterwards attempts to procure a perusal. (Act
i. sc. 2.) In several passages, indeed, the dramatist has copied the
language of the pastoral."[368:A]

This play, though betraying marks of negligence and haste, especially
towards its termination, is yet a most pleasing and instructive
composition. There is scarcely a page of it, indeed, that is not
pregnant with some just and useful maxim, and we stand amazed at the
blind and tasteless decisions of Hanmer, Theobald, and Upton, who not
only disputed the authenticity of this drama, but condemned it as a
very inferior production.

So far are these opinions, however, from having any just foundation,
that we may safely assert the peculiar style of Shakspeare to be
vividly impressed on all the parts of this drama, whether serious or
comic; and as to its aphoristic wealth, it may be truly said, with
Dr. Johnson, that "it abounds with γνωμαι; beyond most of his plays, and
few have more lines or passages, which, singly considered, are eminently

But besides this, justice requires of us to remark, that there is a
romantic and pathetic cast, both of sentiment and character, throughout
the more elevated parts of this production, which has given to them
a peculiar charm. The delineation of _Julia_ in particular, from
the gentleness and modesty of her disposition, the ill requital of
her attachment, and the hazardous disguise which she assumes, must
be confessed to excite the tenderest emotions of sympathy. This is
a character, indeed, which Shakspeare has delighted to embody, and
which he has further developed in the lovely and fascinating portraits
of _Viola_ and _Imogen_, who, like _Julia_, forsaken or despised,
are driven to the same expedients, and, deserting their native
roof, perform their adventurous pilgrimages under similar modes of

A portion also of this romantic enthusiasm has thrown an interest
over the characters of _Sir Eglamour_ and _Silvia_, and evanescent as
the part of the former is, we see enough of him to regret that he has
not been brought more forward on the canvas. He is represented as a

    "Valiant, wise, remorseful, well accomplished,"

and when Silvia, on the eve of her elopement, solicits his assistance,
she thus addresses him:—

  "Thyself hast loved; and I have heard thee say,
   No grief did ever come so near thy heart,
   As when thy lady and thy true love died,
   Upon whose grave thou vow'dst pure chastity."[369:B]

Nor are the ludicrous scenes less indicative of the hand of Shakspeare,
the part of Launce, which forms the chief source of mirth in this play,
being supported throughout with undeviating wit and humour, and with
an effect greatly superior to that of the comic dialogue of _Love's
Labour's Lost_ and _The Comedy of Errors_.

Nor must we forget to remark, that the versification of the _Two
Gentlemen of Verona_ is peculiarly sweet and harmonious, and very
happily corresponds with the delicacy, simplicity, and tenderness of
feeling which have so powerfully shed their never-failing fascination
over many of its serious scenes. How exquisitely, for instance, does
the rhythm of the following lines, coalesce with and expand their
sentiment and imagery:—

      "_Julia._ Counsel, Lucetta; gentle girl, assist me!
    —————————— Tell me some good mean,
    How, with my honour, I may undertake
    A journey to my loving Proteus.

      _Luc._ Alas! the way is wearisome and long.

      _Jul._ A true-devoted pilgrim is not weary
    To measure kingdoms with his feeble steps;
    Much less shall she, that hath love's wings to fly,
    And when the flight is made to one so dear.—

      _Luc._ Better forbear, till Proteus make return.—

      _Jul._ The current, that with gentle murmur glides,
    Thou know'st, being stopp'd, impatiently doth rage;
    But, when his fair course is not hindered,
    He makes sweet musick with the enamel'd stones,
    Giving a gentle kiss to every sedge
    He overtaketh in his pilgrimage;
    And so by many winding nooks he strays,
    With willing sport, to the wild ocean.
    Then let me go, and hinder not my course:
    I'll be as patient as a gentle stream,
    And make a pastime of each weary step.
    Till the last step have brought me to my love;
    And there I'll rest, as, after much turmoil,
    A blessed soul doth in Elysium."[370:A]

10. KING RICHARD THE THIRD: 1595. It is the conjecture of Mr. Malone,
and by which he has been guided in his chronological arrangement,
that this play, and _King Richard the Second_, were _written_,
_acted_, _registered_, and _printed_ in the year 1597. That they were
_registered_ and _published_ during this year, we have indisputable
authority[370:B]; but that they were _written_ and _acted_ within the
same period, is a supposition without any proof, and, to say the least
of it, highly improbable.

Mr. Chalmers, struck by this incautious assertion, of two such plays
being written, acted, and published in a few months[370:C]; reflecting
that Shakspeare, impressed by the character of Glocester, in his play
of _Henry the Sixth_, might be induced to resume his _national_ dramas
by continuing the _Historie_ of Richard, to which he might be more
immediately stimulated by his knowledge that an enterlude entitled the
_Tragedie of Richard the Third_, had been exhibited in 1593, or 1594;
and ingeniously surmising that _Richard the Second_ was a subsequent
production, because it ushered in a distinct and concatenated series
of history, has, under this view of the subject, given precedence to
_Richard the Third_ in the order of composition, and assigned its
origin to the year 1595.

The description of a small volume of Epigrams by John Weever, in Mr.
Beloe's Anecdotes of Literature, has since confirmed the chronology of
Mr. Chalmers, so far as it proves that _one_ of Shakspeare's _Richards_
had certainly been acted in 1595.

The book in question, in the collection of Mr. Comb, of Henley, and
supposed to be a unique, was published in 1599, at which period,
according to the date of the print of him prefixed by Cecill, the
author was twenty-three years old; but Weever tells us, in some
introductory stanzas, that when he wrote the poems which compose this
volume, he was _not_ twenty years old; that he was one

    "That twenty twelve months yet did _never know_,"

consequently, these Epigrams _must have been written in 1595_, though
not printed before 1599. They exhibit the following title: "Epigrammes
in the oldest Cut and newest Fashion. A twise seven Houres (in so many
Weekes) Studie. No longer (like the Fashion) not unlike to continue.
The first seven, John Weever.

    Sit voluisse sit valuisse.

At London: printed by V. S. for Thomas Bushell, and are to be sold at
his shop, at the great North doore of Paules. 1599. 12mo."

Of this collection the twenty-second Epigram of the fourth Weeke, which
we have formerly had occasion to notice, and which we shall now give at
length, is addressed


    Honie-Tongd Shakespeare, when I saw thine issue,
    I swore Apollo got them, and none other,
    Their rosie-tainted features clothed in tissue,
    Some heaven-born goddesse said to be their mother.
    Rose cheeckt Adonis with his amber tresses,
    Faire fire-hot Venus charming him to love her,
    Chaste Lucretia, virgine-like her dresses,
    Proud lust-stung Tarquine seeking still to prove her,
    Romeo, RICHARD, more whose names I know not,
    Their sugred tongues and power attractive beauty,
    Say they are saints, althogh that Sts they shew not,
    For thousand vowes to them subjective dutie,
    They burn in love thy children Shakspeare let them
    Go we thy muse more nymphish brood beget them."[372:A]

We have no doubt that by the _Richard_ of this epigram the author
meant to imply the play of _Richard the Third_, which, according to
our arrangement, was the _immediately succeeding tragedy_ to _Romeo_,
and may be said to have been almost promised by the poet in the two
concluding scenes of the _Last Part of King Henry the Sixth_, a promise
which, as we believe, was carried into execution after an interval of
three years.[372:B]

The character of _Richard the Third_, which had been opened in so
masterly a manner in the _Concluding Part of Henry the Sixth_, is, in
this play, developed in all its horrible grandeur.

It is, in fact, the picture of a demoniacal incarnation, moulding the
passions and foibles of mankind, with super-human precision, to its
own iniquitous purposes. Of this isolated and peculiar state of being
Richard himself seems sensible, when he declares—

    "I have no brother, I am like no brother:
     And this word love, which grey-beards call divine,
     Be resident in men like one another,
     And not in me: I am myself alone."[373:A]

From a delineation like this Milton must have caught many of the
most striking features of his Satanic portrait. The same union
of unmitigated depravity, and consummate intellectual energy,
characterises both, and renders what would otherwise be loathsome and
disgusting, an object of sublimity and shuddering admiration.

Richard, stript as he is of all the softer feelings, and all the common
charities, of humanity, possessed of

    "neither pity, love, nor fear,"[373:B]

and loaded with every dangerous and dreadful vice, would, were it
not for his unconquerable powers of mind, be insufferably revolting.
But, though insatiate in his ambition, envious, and hypocritical in
his disposition, cruel, bloody, and remorseless in all his deeds, he
displays such an extraordinary share of cool and determined courage,
such alacrity and buoyancy of spirit, such constant self-possession,
such an intuitive intimacy with the workings of the human heart, and
such matchless skill in rendering them subservient to his views, as
so far to subdue our detestation and abhorrence of his villany, that
we, at length, contemplate this fiend in human shape with a mingled
sensation of intense curiosity and grateful terror.

The task, however, which Shakspeare undertook was, in one instance,
more arduous than that which Milton subsequently attempted; for, in
addition to the hateful constitution of Richard's moral character,
he had to contend also against the prejudices arising from personal
deformity, from a figure

    ————————— "curtail'd of it's fair proportion,
    Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
    Deform'd, unfinish'd, sent before it's time
    Into this breathing world, scarce half made up;"[374:A]

and yet, in spite of these striking personal defects, which were
considered, also, as indicatory of the depravity and wickedness of his
nature, the poet has contrived, through the medium of the high mental
endowments just enumerated, not only to obviate disgust, but to excite
extraordinary admiration.

One of the most prominent and detestable vices indeed, in Richard's
character, his hypocrisy, connected, as it always is, in his person,
with the most profound skill and dissimulation, has, owing to the
various parts which it induces him to assume, most materially
contributed to the popularity of this play, both on the stage, and in
the closet. He is one who can

    —— "frame his face to all occasions,"[374:B]

and accordingly appears, during the course of his career, under the
contrasted forms of a subject and a monarch, a politician and a wit,
a soldier and a suitor, a sinner and a saint; and in all with such
apparent ease and fidelity to nature, that while to the explorer
of the human mind he affords, by his penetration and address, a
subject of peculiar interest and delight, he offers to the practised
performer a study well calculated to call forth his fullest and finest
exertions. He, therefore, whose histrionic powers are adequate to the
just exhibition of this character, may be said to have attained the
highest honours of his profession; and, consequently, the popularity of
_Richard the Third_, notwithstanding the moral enormity of its hero,
may be readily accounted for, when we recollect, that the versatile and
consummate hypocrisy of the tyrant has been embodied by the talents of
such masterly performers as Garrick, Kemble, Cook, and Kean.

So overwhelming and exclusive is the character of Richard, that the
comparative insignificancy of all the other persons of the drama may be
necessarily inferred; they are reflected to us, as it were, from his
mirror, and become more or less important, and more or less developed,
as he finds it necessary to act upon them; so that our estimate of
their character is entirely founded on his relative conduct, through
which we may very correctly appreciate their strength or weakness.

The only exception to this remark is in the person of Queen Margaret,
who, apart from the agency of Richard, and dimly seen in the darkest
recesses of the picture, pours forth, in union with the deep tone of
this tragedy, the most dreadful curses and imprecations; with such
a wild and prophetic fury, indeed, as to involve the whole scene in
tenfold gloom and horror.

We have to add that the moral of this play is great and impressive.
Richard, having excited a general sense of indignation, and a general
desire of revenge, and, unaware of his danger from having lost, through
familiarity with guilt, all idea of moral obligation, becomes at length
the victim of his own enormous crimes; he falls not unvisited by the
terrors of conscience, for, on the eve of danger and of death, the
retribution of another world is placed before him; the spirits of those
whom he had murdered, reveal the awful sentence of his fate, and his
bosom heaves with the infliction of eternal torture.

11. KING RICHARD THE SECOND: 1596. Our great poet having been induced
to improve and re-compose the Dramatic History of _Henry the Sixth_,
and to continue the character of Gloucester to the close of his
usurpation, in the drama of _Richard the Third_, very naturally, from
the success which had crowned these efforts, reverted to the prior
part of our national story for fresh subjects, and, led by a common
principle of association, selected for the commencement of a new series
of historical plays, which should form an unbroken chain with those
that he had previously written, the reign of _Richard the Second_. On
this account, therefore, and from the intimation of time, noticed by
Mr. Chalmers, towards the conclusion of the first [376:A]act, we are
led to coincide with this gentleman in assigning the composition of
_Richard the Second_ to the year 1596.

Of the character of this unfortunate young prince, Shakspeare has
given us a delineation in conformity with the general tone of history,
but heightened by many exquisite and pathetic touches. Richard
was beautiful in his person, and elegant in his manners[376:B];
affectionate, generous, and faithful in his attachments, and
though intentionally neglected in his education, not defective in
understanding. Accustomed, by his designing uncles, to the company of
the idle and the dissipated, and to the unrestrained indulgence of his
passions, we need not wonder that levity, ostentation, and prodigality,
should mark his subsequent career, and should ultimately lead him to

Though the errors of his misguided youth are forcibly depicted in
the drama, yet the poet has reserved his strength for the period
of adversity. Richard, descending from his throne, discovers the
unexpected virtues of humility, fortitude, and resignation, and becomes
not only an object of love and pity, but of admiration; and there is
nothing in the whole compass of our author's plays better calculated
to produce, with full effect, these mingled emotions of compassion and
esteem, than the passages which paint the sentiments and deportment of
the fallen monarch. Patience, submission, and misery, were never more
feelingly expressed than in the following lines:

    "_K. Rich._ What must the king do now? Must he submit?
                The king shall do it. Must he be depos'd?
                The king shall be contented: Must he lose
                The name of king? o'God's name, let it go:
                I'll give my jewels, for a set of beads;
                My gorgeous palace, for a hermitage;
                My gay apparel, for an alms-man's gown:
                My figur'd goblets, for a dish of wood;
                My scepter, for a palmer's walking staff;
                My subjects, for a pair of carved saints;
                And my large kingdom for a little grave,
                A little, little grave, an obscure grave:—
                Or I'll be buried in the king's highway,
                Some way of common trade, where subjects' feet
                May hourly trample on their sovereign's head:"[377:A]

and with what an innate nobility of heart does he repress the homage of
his attendants!

    "Cover your heads, and mock not flesh and blood
     With solemn reverence; throw away respect,
     Tradition, form, and ceremonious duty,
     For you have but mistook me all this while:
     I live with bread like you, feel want, taste grief,
     Need friends:—Subjected thus,
     How can you say to me—I am a king?"[377:B]

Nor does his conduct, in the hour of suffering and extreme humiliation,
derogate from the philosophy of his sentiments. In that admirable
opening of the second scene of the fifth act, where the Duke of York
relates to his Duchess the entrance of Bolingbroke and Richard into
London, the demeanour of the latter is thus pourtrayed:—

    ————————————— "Men's eyes
    Did scowl on Richard; no man cried, God save him;
    No joyful tongue gave him his welcome home:
    But dust was thrown upon his sacred head;
    Which with such gentle sorrow he shook off,—
    His face still combating with tears and smiles,
    The badges of his grief and patience,—
    That had not God, for some strong purpose, steel'd
    The hearts of men, they must perforce have melted,
    And barbarism itself have pitied him."[378:A]

In representing Richard as falling by the hand of Sir Piers of Exton,
Shakspeare has followed the Chronicle of Holinshed; but there can be
no doubt but this unhappy monarch either starved himself under the
influence of despair, or was starved by the cruelty of his enemies.
If in the account which Speed has given us of this tragedy, the most
complete that we possess, the relation of Polydore Virgil be correct,
nothing can be conceived more diabolical than the conduct of Henry and
his agents. "His diet being served in," says that historian, "and set
before him in the wonted Princely manner, hee was not suffered either
to taste, or touch thereof." "Surely," adds Speed, in a manner which
reflects credit on his sensibility, "hee is not a man who at the report
of so exquisite a barbarisme, as Richard's enfamishment, feeles not
chilling horror and detestation; what if but for a justly condemned
galley-slave so dying? but how for an annointed King whose character
(like that of holy orders) is indeleble?"[378:B]

Of the secondary characters of this play, "Old John of Gaunt,
time-honour'd Lancaster," and his son Henry Bolingbroke, are brought
forward with strict attention to the evidence of history; the chivalric
spirit, and zealous integrity of the first, and the cold, artificial
features of the second, being struck off with great sharpness of
outline, and strength of discrimination.



That both these plays were written in the year 1596, will, we think,
appear from consulting the arguments and quotations adduced by Mr.
Malone to prove them the compositions of 1597 and 1598, and by Mr.
Chalmers with the view of assigning them to the years 1596 and 1597;
for while the _latter_ gentleman has rendered it most probable, from
the allusions which he has noticed in the play itself, that the _First
Part_ was written in 1596, the authorities and citations produced by
the _former_, for the assignment of the _Second Part_ to the year
1598, almost necessarily refer it, strange as it may appear, with only
one exception[379:A], and that totally indecisive, to the very same
year which witnessed the composition of its predecessor, namely 1596!
Influenced by this result, and by the observation of Dr. Johnson, that
these dramas appear "to be two, only because they are too long to
be one[379:B]," we have placed them under the same year, convinced,
with Mr. Malone, that they could not be written _before_ 1596; and
induced, from the arguments to which he, and his immediate successor in
chronological research have advanced, though with a different object,
to consider them as not written _after_ that period.[379:C]

The inimitable genius of Shakspeare is no where more conspicuous than
in the construction of these dramas, whether we consider the serious
or the comic parts. In the former, which involve occurrences of the
highest interest in a national point of view, the competition, and
we may say, the contrast between Percy and the Prince of Wales, is
supported with unrivalled talent and discrimination. Full of a fiery
and uncontrollable courage, mingled with a portion of arrogance and
spleen, generous, chivalric, and open, and breathing throughout a
lofty, and even sublime spirit, Hotspur appears before us a youthful
model of enthusiastic and impetuous heroism.

Yet, noble and exciting as this character must be pronounced,
notwithstanding the very obvious alloy of a vindictive and ungovernable
temper, it is completely overshadowed by that which is attributed to
the Prince of Wales; a result which may, with a perfect conviction
of certainty, be ascribed to the combination of two very powerful
causes,—to the rare union, in fact, of great and varied intellectual
energy, with the utmost amiability of disposition. Percy has but the
virtues and accomplishments of a military adventurer, for in society
he is boisterous, self-willed, and unaccommodating; while Henry, to
bravery equally gallant and undaunted, adds all the endearing arts of
social intercourse. He is gay, witty, gentle, and good-tempered, with
such a high relish for humour and frolic as to lead him, through an
over-indulgence of this propensity, into numerous scenes of dissipation
and idleness, and into a familiarity with persons admirably well
calculated, it is true, for the gratification of the most fertile
and comic imagination, but who, in every moral and useful light, are
altogether worthless and degraded.

From the contaminating influence of such dangerous connections, he
is rescued by the vigour of his mind, and the goodness of his heart;
for, possessing a clear and unerring conception of the character of
Falstaff and his associates, though he tolerate their intimacy from a
reprehensible love of wit and humour, he beholds, with a consciousness
of self-abasement, the depravity of their principles, and is guarded
against any durable injury or impression from these dissolute
companions of his sport.

The effect, however, of this temporary delusion is both in a moral and
dramatic light, singularly striking; contemned and humiliated in the
eyes of those who surround him, little expectancy is entertained, not
even by the King himself, of any permanently vigorous or dignified
conduct in his son; for though he has, more than once, exhibited
himself equal to the occasion, however great, which has called him
forth, he has immediately relapsed into his former wild and eccentric
habits. When, therefore, annihilating the gloom which has hitherto
obscured his lustre, and shaking off his profligate companions like
"dew-drops from the lion's mane," he comes forward, strong in moral
resolution, dignified without effort, firm without ostentation, and
consistent without a sense of sacrifice, a denouement is produced, at
once great, satisfactory, and splendid.[381:A]

If the serious parts of these plays, however, be powerful and
characteristic, the comic portion is still more entitled to our
admiration, being rich, original, and varied, in a degree unparalleled
by any other writer.

There never was a character drawn, perhaps, so complete and
individualized as that of Falstaff, nor one in which so many contrasted
qualities are rendered subservient to the production of the highest
entertainment and delight. In the compound, however, is to be found
neither atrocious vices, nor any decided moral virtues; it is merely
a tissue, though woven with matchless skill, of the agreeable and the
disagreeable, the former so preponderating as to stamp the result with
the power of imparting pleasurable emotion.

_Sensuality_, under all its forms, is the _vice_ of Falstaff; _wit_ and
_gaiety_ are his _virtues_.

As to gratify his animal appetites, therefore, is the sole end and
aim of his being, every faculty of his mind and body is directed
exclusively to this purpose, and he is no further vicious, no further
interesting and agreeable than may be necessary to the acquisition
of his object. Had he succeeded but partially in the attainment of
his views, and consequently by the means usually put in practice, he
would have been contemptible, loathsome, and disgusting, but he has
succeeded to an extent beyond all other men, and therefore by means of
an extraordinary kind, and which have covered the fruition of his plans
with an adventitious and even fascinating lustre.

The perfect Epicurism, in short, which he cultivates, requires for
the obtention of its gratifications a multitude of brilliant and
attractive qualifications; for, in order to run the full career of
sensual enjoyment, associated as he was with a man of high rank, and
considerable mental powers, it was necessary that he should render
himself both highly acceptable and interesting, that he should assume
the appearance or pretend to the possession of several virtues,
and that he should be guilty of no very revolting or disgustful

To perform this task, however, with unfailing effect, demanded, on
the part of Falstaff, incessant intellectual vigour, and a perpetual
command of temper, and these Shakspeare has bestowed upon him in
their full plenitude. His wit is inexhaustible, his gaiety and
good-humour undeviating, his address shrewd and discriminating, and,
as the favourable opinion of his associates is, to a certain extent,
essential to his enjoyments, he endeavours to impress the prince with
confidence in his friendship and courage, his gratitude and fidelity,
and to impose on his equals and inferiors a sense of his military and
political importance. It is also requisite that, though an incorrigible
lover of wine, of dainty fare, and of all libidinous delights, he
should exhibit nothing either as the accompaniment or consequence of
these pursuits, which should be beastly or loathsome; he is, therefore,
never represented as in a state of intoxication, nor loaded with more
infirmities than what corpulency produces; but is always himself,
crafty, sprightly, selfish, and intelligent, ever ready to invent and
to enjoy the sport, the revel, and the jest.

Thus constituted, his social and intellectual qualities so blending
with the dissolute propensities of his nature, that the epicure, and
free-booter, the whore-monger and vain-glorious boaster, lose in
the composition their native deformity, Falstaff becomes the most
entertaining and seductive companion that the united powers of genius,
levity, and laughter have ever, in the most felicitous hour of their
mirth and fancy, created for the sons of men.

Yet, dangerous as such a delineation may appear, Shakspeare, with his
usual attention to the best interests of mankind, has rendered it
subservient to the most striking moral effects, both as these apply to
the character of Falstaff himself, and to that of his temporary patron,
the Prince of Wales; for while the virtue, energy, and good sense
of the latter are placed in the most striking point of view by his
firm dismissal of a most fascinating and too endeared voluptuary, the
permanently degrading consequences of sensuality are exhibited in their
full strength during the career, and in the fate, of the former.

It is very generally found that great and splendid vices are
mingled with concomitant virtues, which often ultimately lead to
self-accusation, and to the salutary agonies of remorse; but he who is
deeply plunged in the grovelling pursuits of appetite is too frequently
lost to all sense of shame, to all feeling of integrity or conscious
worth. Polluted by the meanest depravities, not only religious
principle ceases to affect the mind, but every thing which contributes
to honour or to grandeur in the human character is gone for ever; a
catastrophe to which wit and humour, by rendering the sensualist a
more self-deluded and self-satisfied being, lend the most powerful

Thus is it with Falstaff—to the last he remains the same, unrepentant,
unreformed; and, though shaken off by all that is valuable or good
around him, dies the very sensualist which he had lived!

We may, therefore, derive from this character as much instruction
as entertainment; and, to the delight which we receive from the
contemplation of a picture so rich and original, add a lesson of
morality as aweful and impressive as the history of human frailty can

In order fully to unfold the extraordinary character of Falstaff, it
was necessary to throw around him a set of familiar associates, who
might, through all the privacies of domestic life, lay open his follies
and knaveries, while, at the same time, they themselves contributed,
in no small degree, to the amusement of the scene. How admirably the
poet has succeeded in this design, the spirited and glowing sketches
of Bardolph, Pistol, and Mrs. Quickly, and of Justices Shallow and
Silence, will bear an ever-during testimony. Than the scenes in
which the two magistrates appear, nothing can be conceived more
characteristically pleasant and original. The garrulity, vanity, and
knavish simplicity of Shallow; the asinine gravity of Silence when
sober, and his irrepressible hilarity when tipsy; Falstaff's exquisite
appreciation of their characters, and his patronage of Shallow,
are presented to us with a naïveté, raciness, and completeness of
conception, which it is in vain to look for elsewhere.

We have further to remark, that the _fable_ of the _Two Parts of Henry
the Fourth_ is connected with peculiar skill through the intervention
of the _comic_ incidents. It was essential, in fact, for the purposes
of representation, that there should be a satisfactory close to each
Part, while, at the same time, such a medium of communication should
exist between the two, as to form a perfect whole. To effect this, the
serious and the ludicrous departments of these dramas are conducted
in a different way; the former exhibiting two catastrophes while
the latter has but one. Thus the death of Percy in the first play,
and the death of Henry the Fourth in the second, form two judicious
terminations of the tragic portion, while the rich vein of comedy
running through both divisions, is only bounded by the _Reformation_ of
Henry the Fifth, and the _Fall_ of his vicious but facetious companion;
a denouement at once natural and complete, and springing from
intrinsic causes, being the sole result of firmness and penetration in
the prince, and of self-delusion in the knight.

14. THE MERCHANT OF VENICE: 1597. We are inclined to prefer this date
to that of 1598, in consequence of the two allusions to time noticed
by Mr. Chalmers in his Chronology[385:A]; and which, as the epoch
formerly fixed on by the commentators was founded merely on the fact
of this play being registered on the 22d of July, 1598, a circumstance
perfectly indecisive as to the period of its composition, ought
consequently to possess the privilege of establishing its era.

Of the _three_ plots which constitute this very interesting drama,
namely that of the _Caskets_, that of the _Bond_, and that of the
_Elopement_ of Jessica, the first two appear to have formed the fable
of a play entitled _The Jew_, long anterior to our author's production.
"The Jew shown at the Bull," says Gosson in his _School of Abuse_,
1579, "representing the _greediness of worldly choosers_, and the
_bloody minds of usurers_——these plays," says he, mentioning others
at the same time, "are goode and sweete plays."[385:B]

Now, there can be no doubt that Shakspeare, in conformity to his
usual custom, would avail himself of the labours of this his dramatic
predecessor; but it is also evident that he had other resources.
"The author of the old play of _The Jew_," observes Mr. Douce, "and
Shakspeare in his _Merchant of Venice_, have not confined themselves
to one source only in the construction of their plot; but, that the
_Pecorone_, the _Gesta Romanorum_, and perhaps the old _Ballad of
Gernutus_, have been respectively resorted to. It is however most
probable that the original play was indebted chiefly, if not altogether
to the _Gesta Romanorum_, which contained both the main incidents; and
that Shakspeare expanded and improved them, partly from his own genius,
and partly, as to the bond, from the _Pecorone_, where the coincidences
are too manifest to leave any doubt. Thus, the scene being laid at
Venice; the residence of the lady at Belmont; the introduction of a
person bound for the principal; the double infraction of the bond,
viz., the taking more or less than a pound of flesh and the shedding
of blood, together with the after-incident of the ring, are common to
the novel and the play. The whetting of the knife might perhaps have
been taken from the _Ballad of Gernutus_. Shakspeare was likewise
indebted to an authority that could not have occurred to the original
author of the play in an English form; this was, Silvayn's _Orator_,
as translated by Munday. From that work Shylock's reasoning before the
senate is evidently borrowed; but at the same time it has been most
skilfully improved."[386:A]

The _Orator_ of _Silvayn_, translated by Munday from the French,
was printed by Adam Islip in 1596, and forms one of Mr. Chalmers's
authorities for assigning the composition of the _Merchant of Venice_
to the year 1597.

Of the _two English Gesta_ mentioned by Mr. Douce, that containing the
story of the _Bond_ is as old as the reign of Henry the Sixth, and
though now only known to exist in manuscript[386:B], might probably
have been in print in the time of Shakspeare and the author of the
elder play.

The _Gesta_, including the story of the _Caskets_, there is reason
to think, was translated by _Leland_ and revised by R. Robinson; for
a memorandum relative to the first edition of the improved version,
written by Robinson himself, and occurring in his _Eupolemia_, is
thus worded:—"1577. A record of ancyent historyes intituled in Latin
_Gesta Romanorum_, translated (auctore ut supponitur Johane Leylando
antiquario) by mee perused corrected and bettered. Perused further by
the wardens of the stationer's and printed first and last by Thomas
Easte."[386:C] If the supposition here recorded be correct, it is
highly probable that Leland's translation is identical with that
referred to by Mr. Warton and Dr. Farmer[387:A] as printed by Wynkyn
de Worde without date; though it must be remarked, that neither Mr.
Herbert, nor Mr. Douce, nor Mr. Dibdin has been fortunate enough to
discover such an impression.[387:B]

As many of the incidents in the Bond story of the _Merchant of Venice_
possess a more striking resemblance to the first tale of the fourth
day in the _Pecorone_ of _Ser Giovanni_, than to either the Gesta, the
Ballad of Gernutus, or the Orator of Silvayn, the probability is, that
a version of this tale, if not of the entire collection, was extant in
Shakspeare's days. _Il Pecorone_, though written almost two centuries
before, was not published until 1558, when the first edition came forth
at Milan.

The love and elopement of Jessica and Lorenzo have been noticed by
Mr. Dunlop as bearing a similitude to the fourteenth tale of the
second book of the _Novellino_ of _Massuccio Di Salerno_[387:C]; but
it must be recollected, that until the play alluded to by Gosson can
be produced, it is impossible to ascertain to whom Shakspeare is most
peculiarly indebted for the materials of his complicated plot.

There is much reason to conclude, however, that the felicitous union of
the two principal actions of this drama, that concatenation of cause
and effect, which has formed them into a whole, is to be ascribed,
almost exclusively, to the judgment and the art of Shakspeare. There
is also another unity of equal moment, seldom found wanting, indeed,
in any of the genuine plays of our poet, but which is particularly
observable in this, that _unity of feeling_ which we have once before
had occasion to notice, and which, in the present instance, has given
an uniform, but an extraordinary, tone to every part of the fable. Thus
the unparalleled nature of the trial between the Jew and his debtor,
required, in order to produce that species of dramatic consistency
so essential to the illusion of the reader or spectator, that the
other important incident of the piece should assume an equal cast of
singularity; the enigma, therefore, of the caskets is a most suitable
counterpart to the savage eccentricity of the bond, and their skilful
combination effects the probability arising from similitude of nature
and intimacy of connection.

Yet the ingenuity of the fable is surpassed by the truth and
originality of the characters that carry it into execution. Avarice
and revenge, the prominent vices of Shylock, are painted with a pencil
so discriminating, as to appear very distinct from the same passions
in the bosom of a Christian. The peculiar circumstances, indeed,
under which the Jews have been placed for so many centuries, would of
themselves be sufficient, were the national feelings correctly caught,
to throw a peculiar colouring over all their actions and emotions;
but to these were unhappily added, in the age of Shakspeare, the most
rooted prejudices and antipathies; an aversion, indeed, partaking of
hatred and horror, was indulged against this persecuted people, and
consequently the picture which Shakspeare has drawn exhibits not only a
faithful representation of Jewish sentiments and manners, the necessary
result of a singular dispensation of Providence, but it embodies in
colours, of almost preternatural strength, the Jew as he appeared to
the eye of the shuddering Christian.

In Shylock, therefore, while we behold the manners and the associations
of the Hebrew mingling with every thing he says and does, and touched
with a verisimilitude and precision which excite our astonishment, we,
at the same time, perceive, that, influenced by the prepossessions
above-mentioned, the poet has clothed him with passions which would not
derogate from a personification of the evil principle itself. He is, in
fact, in all the lighter parts of his character, a generical exemplar
of Judaism, but demonized, individualized, and rendered awfully
striking and horribly appalling by the attribution of such unrelenting
malice, as we will hope, for the honour of our species, was never yet
accumulated, with such intensity, in any human breast.

So vigorous, however, so masterly is the delineation of this Satanic
character, and so exactly did it, until of late years, chime in with
the bigotry of the Christian world, that no one of our author's plays
has experienced greater popularity. Fortunately the time has now
arrived when the Jew and the Christian can meet with all the feelings
of humanity about them; a state of society which, more than any other,
is calculated to effect that conversion for which every disciple of our
blessed religion will assuredly pray.

There is, also, to be found in this beautiful play a charm for the most
gentle and amiable minds, a vein of dignified melancholy and pensive
sweetness which endears it to every heart, and which fascinates the
more as affording the most welcome relief to the merciless conduct
of its leading character. What, for instance, can be more soothing
and delightful to the feelings, than the generous and disinterested
friendship of Antonio, when contrasted with the hard and selfish
nature of Shylock; what more noble than the sublime resignation of
the merchant, when opposed to the deadly and relentless hatred of his
prosecutor! Never was friendship painted more intense and lovely than
in the parting scene of Antonio and Bassanio; Salarino, speaking of the
former, says,—

    "A kinder gentleman treads not the earth.
     I saw Bassanio and Antonio part:
     Bassanio told him, he would make some speed
     Of his return: he answer'd—'Do not so,
     Slubber not business for my sake, Bassanio,
     But stay the very riping of the time;
     And for the Jew's bond, which he hath of me,
     Let it not enter in your mind of love:
     Be merry; and employ your chiefest thoughts
     To courtship, and such fair ostents of love
     As shall conveniently become you there:'
     _And even there, his eye being big with tears,
     Turning his face, he put his hand behind him,
     And with affection wond'rous sensible
     He wrung Bassanio's hand, and so they parted_.

       _Salanio._ I think, he only loves the world for him."[389:A]

Nor do the female personages of the drama contribute less to this
grateful effect: the sensible, the spirited, the eloquent _Portia_,
who has a principal share in the business of both plots, is equally
distinguished for the tenderness of her disposition and the goodness of
her heart, and her pleadings for mercy in behalf of the injured Antonio
will dwell on the ear of pity and admiration to the last syllable of
recorded time.

With a similar result do we enter into the character of _Jessica_,
whose artlessness, simplicity, and affectionate temper, excite, in
an uncommon degree, the interest of the reader. The opening of the
fifth act, where Lorenzo and Jessica are represented conversing on a
summer's night, in the avenue at Belmont, and listening with rapture to
the sounds of music, produces, occurring as it does immediately after
the soul-harrowing scene in the court of justice, the most enchanting
emotion; it breathes, indeed, a repose so soft and delicious, that the
mind seems dissolving in tranquil luxury:

    "How sweet the moon-light sleeps upon this bank!
     Here will we sit, and let the sounds of musick
     Creep in our ears; soft stillness, and the night,
     Become the touches of sweet harmony."[390:A]

Shakspeare was an enthusiast in music in a musical age; and though
his subsequent encomium upon it be somewhat extravagant, and his
reprobation of the man who "is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,"
undeservedly harsh and severe, yet are they both more applicable
and judicious than the flippant and undiscriminating censure of Mr.
Steevens, whose note on the subject has met with its due castigation
from the pen of Mr. Douce, who, after stigmatising the commentator's
disingenuous effort to throw an odium on this recreation, in
conjunction with the feeble aid of an illiberal passage from Lord
Chesterfield's _Letters_, justly and beautifully adds, that "It is a
science which, from its intimate and natural connexion with poetry
and painting, deserves the highest attention and respect. He that is
happily qualified to appreciate the _better parts_ of music, will never
seek them in the society so emphatically reprobated by the noble lord,
nor altogether in the way he recommends. He will not lend an ear to
the vulgarity and tumultuous roar of the tavern catch, or the delusive
sounds of martial clangour; but he will enjoy this heavenly gift, this
exquisite and soul-delighting sensation, in the temples of his God,
or in the peaceful circles of domestic happiness: he will pursue the
blessings and advantages of it with ardour, and turn aside from its

The fifth act of this play, which consists of but one scene, appears
to have been intended by the poet to remove the painful impressions
incident to the nature of his previous plot; it is light, elegant,
and beautifully written, and, though the main business of the drama
finishes with the termination of the fourth act, it is not felt as an
incumbrance, but on the contrary is beheld and enjoyed as a graceful,
animated, and consolatory close to one of the most perfect productions
of its author.

15. HAMLET: 1597. That this tragedy had been performed before 1598 is
evident from Gabriel Harvey's note in Speght's edition of Chaucer, as
quoted by Mr. Malone[391:B]; and, from the intimations of time brought
forward by Mr. Chalmers[391:C], we are induced to adopt the era of this
gentleman, placing the first sketch of _Hamlet_ early in 1597, and its
revision with additions in 1600.[391:D] Soon after which, namely, on
the 26th of July, 1602, it was entered on the Stationers' book, the
first edition hitherto discovered being printed in the year 1604.

No character in our author's plays has occasioned so much discussion,
so much contradictory opinion, and, consequently, so much perplexity,
as that of _Hamlet_. Yet we think it may be proved that Shakspeare
had a clear and definite idea of it throughout all its seeming
inconsistencies, and that a very few lines taken from one of the
monologues of this tragedy, will develope the ruling and efficient
feature which the poet held steadily in his view, and through whose
unintermitting influence every other part of the portrait has received
a peculiar modification. We are told, as the result of a deep but
unsatisfactory meditation on the mysteries of another world, on "the
dread of something after death," that

    —— "thus the native hue of resolution
    Is sicklied o'er with the _pale cast of thought_;
    And enterprises of great pith and moment,
    With this regard, their currents turn awry,
    And lose the name of action."[392:A]

Now this _pale cast of thought_ and its consequences, which, had not
Hamlet been interrupted by the entrance of Ophelia, he would have
himself applied to his own singular situation, form the very essence,
and give rise to the prominent defects of his character. It is evident,
therefore, that Shakspeare intended to represent him as variable and
indecisive in action, and that he has founded this want of volition
on one of those peculiar constitutions of the mental and moral
faculties which have been designated by the appellation of _genius_,
a combination of passions and associations which has led to all the
useful energies, and all the exalted eccentricities of human life; and
of which, in one of its most exquisite but speculative forms, Hamlet
presents us with perhaps the only instance on _theatric_ record.

To a frame of mind naturally strong and contemplative, but rendered by
extraordinary events sceptical and intensely thoughtful, he unites an
undeviating love of rectitude, a disposition of the gentlest kind,
feelings the most delicate and pure, and a sensibility painfully alive
to the smallest deviation from virtue or propriety of conduct. Thus,
while gifted to discern and to suffer from every moral aberration in
those who surround him, his powers of action are paralysed in the
first instance, by the unconquerable tendency of his mind to explore,
to their utmost ramification, all the bearings and contingencies of
the meditated deed; and in the second, by that tenderness of his
nature which leads him to shrink from the means which are necessary
to carry it into execution. Over this irresolution and weakness, the
result, in a great measure, of emotions highly amiable, and which in
a more congenial situation had contributed to the delight of all who
approached him, Shakspeare has thrown a veil of melancholy so sublime
and intellectual, as by this means to constitute him as much the idol
of the philosopher, and the man of cultivated taste, as he confessedly
is of those who feel their interest excited principally through the
medium of the sympathy and compassion which his ineffective struggles
to act up to his own approved purpose naturally call forth.

It may be useful, however, in order to give more strength and
precision to this general outline, to enter into a few of the leading
particulars of Hamlet's conduct. He is represented at the opening
of the play as highly distressed by the sudden death of his father,
and the hurried and indecent nuptials of his mother, when the awful
appearance of the spectre overwhelms him with astonishment, unhinges
a mind already partially thrown off its bias, and fills it with
indelible apprehension, suspicion, and dismay. For though, on the
first communication of the murder, his bosom burns with the thirst of
vengeance, yet reflection and the gentleness of his disposition soon
induce him to regret that he has been chosen as the instrument of
effecting it,

    "That ever he was born to set it right;"

and then, under the influence of this reluctance, he begins to question
the validity and the lawfulness of the medium through which he had
received his information, describing with admirable self-consciousness,
the vacillation of his will, and the tendency of his temper:—

    "The spirit that I have seen
     May be the Devil, and the Devil hath power
     T' assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps,
     _Out of my weakness and my melancholy_,—
     Abuses me to damn me."[394:A]

Here, therefore, on a structure of mind originally indecisive as
to volition, on feelings rendered more than usually sensitive and
serious by domestic misfortune, operate causes calculated, in a
very extraordinary degree, to augment the sources of irresolution
and distress. The imagination of Hamlet, agitated and inflamed by
a visitation from the world of spirits, is lost amid the mazes of
conjecture, amid thoughts which roam with doubt and terror through all
the labyrinths of fate and superhuman agency; whilst, at the same time,
indignation at the crime of his uncle, and aversion to the vindictive
task which has been imposed upon him, raise a conflict of passion
within his breast.

Determined, however, if possible, to obey what seems both a commission
from heaven, and a necessary filial duty; but sensible that the wild
workings of imagination, and the tumult of contending emotions have
so far unsettled his mind, as to render his control over it at times
precarious and imperfect, and that consequently he may be liable to
betray his purpose, he adopts the expedient of counterfeiting madness,
in order that if any thing should escape him in an unguarded moment, it
may, from being considered as the effect of derangement, fail to impede
his designs.

And here again the bitterness of his destiny meets him; for, with the
view of disarming suspicion as to his real intention, he finds it
requisite to impress the king and his courtiers with the idea, that
disappointed love is the real basis of his disorder; justly inferring,
that as his attachment to Ophelia was known, and still more so the
tenderness of his own heart, any harsh treatment of her, without an
adequate provocation, must infallibly be deemed a proof, not only
of insanity, but of the cause whence it sprang; since though some
reserve on her part had been practised, in obedience to her father's
commands, it could not, without a dereliction of reason, have produced
such an entire change in his conduct and disposition. And such indeed
would have been the result, had Hamlet possessed a perfect command
of himself; but his feelings overpowered his consistency, and the
very part which he had to play with Ophelia, was one of the most
excruciating of his afflictions; for he tells us, and tells us truly,

    "'He' lov'd Ophelia; forty thousand brothers
     Could not, with all their quantity of love,
     Make up 'his' sum;"[395:A]

consequently what he suffers on this occasion, on this compulsory
treatment, as it were, of the being dearest to his heart, gives him one
of the strongest claims upon our sympathy. With what agony he pursues
this line of conduct, and how foreign it is to every feeling of the
man, appears at the close of his celebrated soliloquy on the expediency
of suicide, and just previous to the rudest and most sarcastic instance
of his behaviour towards Ophelia. That hapless maiden suddenly crosses
him; when, starting at her sight, and forgetting his assumed character,
he exclaims, in an exquisite tone of solemnity and pathos—

    ——————————— "Soft you, now!
    The fair Ophelia:—Nymph, in thy orisons
    Be all my sins remember'd."[395:B]

It is impossible, we think, to compare this passage, this burst of
undisguised emotion, with the tenour of the immediately subsequent
dialogue, without the deepest commiseration for the fate of the
unfortunate prince.

In this play, as in _King Lear_, we have madness under its real
and its assumed aspect, and in both instances they are accurately
discriminated. We find Lear and Ophelia constantly recurring, either
directly or indirectly, to the actual causes of their distress; but it
was the business of Edgar and of Hamlet, to place their observers on
a wrong scent, and to divert their vigilance from the genuine sources
of their grief, and the objects of their pursuit. This is done with
undeviating firmness by Edgar; but Hamlet occasionally suffers the
poignancy of his feelings, and the agitation of his mind, to break
in upon his plan, when, heedless of what was to be the ostensible
foundation of his derangement, his love for Ophelia, he permits his
indignation to point, and on one occasion almost unmasked, towards the
guilt of his uncle. In every other instance, he personates insanity
with a skill which indicates the highest order of genius, and imposes
on all but the king, whose conscience, perpetually on the watch, soon
enables him to detect the inconsistencies and the drift of his nephew.

It has been objected to the character of Hamlet, whose most striking
feature is profound melancholy, that its keeping is broken in upon
by an injudicious admixture of humour and gaiety; but he who is
acquainted with the workings of the human heart, will be far, very
far indeed, from considering this as any deviation from the truth of
nature. Melancholy, when not the offspring of an ill-spent life, or
of an habitual bad temper, but the consequence of mere casualties and
misfortunes, or of the vices and passions of others, operating on
feelings too gentle, delicate, and susceptible, to bear up against
the ruder evils of existence, will sometimes spring with playful
elasticity from the pressure of the heaviest burden, and dissipating,
for a moment, the anguish of a breaking heart, will, like a sun-beam
in a winter's day, illumine all around it with a bright, but transient
ray, with the sallies of humorous wit, and even with the hilarity of
sportive simplicity; an interchange which serves but to render the
returning storm more deep and gloomy.

Thus is it with Hamlet in those parts of this inimitable tragedy in
which we behold him suddenly deviating into mirth and jocularity; they
are scintillations which only light us

    ————————— "to discover sights of woe,
    Regions of sorrow,"[397:A]

for no where do we perceive the depth of his affliction and the energy
of his sufferings more distinctly than when under these convulsive
efforts to shake off the incumbent load.

Of that infirmity of purpose which distinguishes Hamlet during the
pursuit of his revenge, and of that exquisite self-deceit by which
he endeavours to disguise his own motives from himself, no clearer
instance can be given, than from the scene where he declines destroying
the usurper because he was in the act of prayer, and might therefore
go to heaven, deferring his death to a period when, being in liquor
or in anger, he was thoroughly ripe for perdition; an enormity of
sentiment and design totally abhorrent to the real character of Hamlet,
which was radically amiable, gentle, and compassionate, but affording
a striking proof of that hypocrisy which, owing to the untowardness
of his fate, he was constantly exercising on himself. Struck with the
symptoms of repentance in Claudius, his resentment becomes softened;
and at all times unwilling, from the tenderness of his nature, and the
acuteness of his sensibility, to fulfil his supposed duty, and execute
retributive justice on his uncle, he endeavours to find some excuse for
his conscious want of resolution, some pretext, however far-fetched or
discordant with the genuine motive, to shield him from his own weakness.

One remarkable effect of this perpetual contest in the bosom of Hamlet
between a sense of the duty, enjoined as it were by heaven, and his
aversion to the means which could alone secure its accomplishment, has
been to throw an interest around him of the most powerful and exciting
nature. It is an interest not arising from extrinsic causes, from any
anxiety as to the completion of the meditated vengeance, or from the
intervention of any casual incidents which may tend to hasten or retard
the catastrophe, but exclusively springing from our attachment to the
person of Hamlet. We contemplate with a mixture of admiration and
compassion the very virtues of Hamlet becoming the bane of his earthly
peace, virtues which, in the tranquillity either of public or private
life, would have crowned him with love and honour, serving but, in
the tempest which assails him, to wreck his hopes, and accelerate his
destruction. In fact, the very doubts and irresolution of Hamlet endear
him to our hearts, and at the same time condense around him an almost
breathless anxiety, for, while we confess them to be the offspring of
all that is lovely, gentle, and kind, we cannot but perceive their
fatal tendency, and we shudder at the probable event.

It is thus that the character of Hamlet, notwithstanding the veil of
meditative abstraction which the genius of philosophic melancholy has
thrown over it, possesses a species of enchantment for all ranks and
classes. Its popularity, indeed, appears to have been immediate and
great, for, in 1604, Anthony Scoloker, in a dedication to his poem,
entitled "Daiphantus," tells us, that his "epistle" should be "like
friendly Shake-speare's tragedies, where the commedian rides, when the
tragedian stands on tiptoe: _Faith it should please all, like prince

We should bear in mind, however, that the favour of the public must,
in part, have been attached to this play through the vast variety of
incident and characters which it unfolds, from its rapid interchange of
solemnity, pathos, and humour, and more particularly from the awful,
yet grateful terror which the shade of buried Denmark diffuses over the

That a belief in _Spiritual Agency_ has been universally and strongly
impressed on the mind of man from the earliest ages of the world, must
be evident to every one who peruses the writings of the Old Testament.
It is equally clear that, with little but exterior modification,
this doctrine has passed from the East into Europe, flowing through
Greece and Rome to modern times. It is necessary, however, to a just
comprehension of the subject, that it be distinctly separated into two
branches,—into the _Agency of Angelic Spirits_, and into the _Agency
of the Spirits of the Departed_, as these will be found to rest on very
dissimilar bases.

To the _Agency of Angelic Spirits_, both good and bad, and to their
operation on, and influence over the intellect and affairs of men, the
records of our religion bear the most direct and indubitable testimony;
nor is it possible to disjoin a full admission of this intercourse from
any faith in its Scriptures, whether Jewish or Christian. "That the
holy angels," observes Bishop Horsley, "are often employed by God in
his government of this sublunary world, is indeed clearly to be proved
by holy writ: that they have powers over the matter of the universe
analogous to the powers over it which men possess, greater in extent,
but still limited, is a thing which might reasonably be supposed, if
it were not declared: but it seems to be confirmed by many passages of
holy writ, from which it seems also evident that they are occasionally,
for certain specific purposes, commissioned to exercise those powers
to a prescribed extent. That the evil angels possessed, before the
Fall, the like powers, which they are still occasionally permitted to
exercise for the punishment of wicked nations, seems also evident.
_That they have a power over the human sensory (which is part of the
material universe), which they are occasionally permitted to exercise,
by means of which they may inflict diseases, suggest evil thoughts, and
be the instruments of temptations, must also be admitted._"[399:A]

Of a doctrine so consolatory as the ministration and guardianship of
benevolent spirits, one of the most striking instances is afforded us
by the Book of Job, perhaps the most ancient composition in existence;
it is where Elihu, describing the sick man on his bed, declares, that—

    "As his soul draweth near to the Grave,
     And his life to the Ministers of Death,
     Surely will there be over him an _Angel_,
     An _Intercessor_, one of _The Thousand_,
     Who shall instruct the Sufferer in his duty;"[400:A]

and from the same source was the awful but monitory vision described in
the fourth chapter of this sublime poem.

Subsequent poets have embraced with avidity a system so friendly to
man, and so delightful to an ardent and devotional imagination. Thus
Hesiod, repeating the oriental tradition, seems happy in augmenting the
number of our heavenly protectors to _thirty thousand_, Τρὶς γὰρ μύριοί:—

    "Invisible the Gods are ever nigh,
     Pass through the midst and bend th' all-seeing eye:
     The men who grind the poor, who wrest the right,
     Awless of Heaven's revenge, are naked to their sight.
     For _thrice ten thousand_ holy Demons rove
     This breathing world, the delegates of Jove.
     Guardians of man, their glance alike surveys,
     The upright judgments, and th' unrighteous ways."

But, next to the sacred writers, and more immediately derived from
their inspiration, has this heavenly superintendance been best
described by two of our own poets: by Spenser with his customary piety,
sweetness, and simplicity:—

     "And is there care in heaven? and is there love
      In heavenly spirits to these creatures bace,
      That may compassion of their evils move?
      There is:—else much more wretched were the cace
      Of men than beasts: But O! th' exceeding grace
      Of Highest God that loves his creatures so,
      And all his workes with mercy doth embrace,
      That blessed Angels he sends to and fro,
    To serve to wicked man, to serve his wicked foe!

      How oft do they their silver bowers leave
      To come to succour us that succour want!
      How oft do they with golden pineons cleave
      The flitting skyes, like flying pursuivant,
      Against fowle feends to ayd us militant!
      They for us fight, they watch and dewly ward,
      And their bright squadrons round about us plant;
      And all for love and nothing for reward:
    O, why should Hevenly God to men have such regard;"[401:A]

by Milton, in a strain of greater sublimity, and with more philosophic
dignity and grace:—

    "Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
     Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep:
     All these with ceaseless praise his works behold
     Both day and night: How often from the steep
     Of echoing hill or thicket have we heard
     Celestial voices to the midnight air,
     Sole, or responsive each to others note,
     Singing their great Creator? oft in bands
     While they keep watch, or nightly rounding walk,
     With heavenly touch of instrumental sounds
     In full harmonick number join'd, their songs
     Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to Heaven."[401:B]

But mankind, not satisfied with this angelic interposition, though
founded on _indisputable authority_, and exercised on their behalf,
has, in every age and nation, fondly clung to the idea, that the
_souls_ or _Spirits of the Dead_ have also a communication with the
living, and that they occasionally, either as happy or as suffering
shades, re-appear on this sublunary scene.

The common suggestions and associations of the human mind have laid
the foundation for this general belief; man has ever indulged the hope
of another state of existence, feeling within him an assurance, a kind
of intuitive conviction, emanating from the Deity, that we are not
destined as the beasts to perish. It is true, says Homer,

    "'Tis true, 'tis certain, man though dead, retains
     Part of himself; th' immortal mind remains;"[402:A]

but to this mental immortality, which is firmly sanctioned by religion,
affection, grief, and superstition have added a vast variety of
unauthorised circumstances. The passions and attachments which were
incident to the individual in his earthly, are attributed to him in his
spiritual state; he is supposed to be still agitated by terrestrial
objects and relations, to delight in the scenes which he formerly
inhabited, to feel for and to protect the persons with whom he was
formerly connected, to be actuated, in short, by emotions of love,
anger, and revenge, and to be in a situation which admits of receiving
benefit or augmented suffering through the attentions or negligence of
surviving friends. Accordingly the spirit or apparition of the deceased
was supposed occasionally to revisit the glimpses of the moon, and to
become visible to its dearest relatives or associates, for the purpose
of admonishing, complaining, imploring, warning, or directing.

Now all these additions to the abstract idea of immortality, though
perhaps naturally arising from the affectionate regrets, the conscious
weakness, and the eager curiosity of man, and therefore universal as
his diffusion over the globe, are totally unwarranted by our only safe
and sure guide, the records of the Bible; for though we are taught
that man exists in another state, and disembodied of the organs which
he possessed whilst an inhabitant of this planet, we are also told,
that he is supplied with a new body, of a very different nature, and,
without a miracle, indiscernible by our present senses. We are told by
St. Peter, that even the body of our Saviour after his resurrection
could only be seen through the operation of a miracle: "Him God raised
up the third day, and _gave him to be visible: Et dedit eum manifestum
fieri_. Vulg. He was no longer," observes Bishop Horsley, "in a state
to be naturally visible to any man. His body was indeed risen, but it
was become that body which St. Paul describes in the fifteenth chapter
of his first epistle to the Corinthians, which, having no sympathy with
the gross bodies of this earthly sphere, nor any place among them, must
be indiscernible to the human organs, till they shall have undergone a
similar refinement."[403:A]

We have no foundation, therefore, in Scripture, nor, according to
its doctrine, can we have, for attaching any credibility to the
re-appearance of the Departed; yet, independent of the predisposition
of the human mind, from the influence of affectionate regret, to think
upon the dead as if still present to our wants and wishes, a state of
feeling which, in Celtic poetry, has given birth to an interesting
system of mythology entirely built on apparitional intercourse[403:B],
the relations which we possess of the apparent return of the dead, are
so numerous, and, in many instances, so unexceptionably attested, that
they have led to several ingenious, and, indeed, partially successful
attempts to account for them. One or two of these attempts, as
terminating in some curious speculations on the character of _Hamlet_,
and on the _apparition of his father_, it will be necessary more
particularly to notice.

A firm belief in _Visitation from the Spirits of the Deceased_ was
so strong a feature in the age of Shakspeare, and the immediately
subsequent period, and was supported by such an accumulation of
testimony, that it roused the exertions of a few individuals of
a philosophical turn of mind, to account for what they would not
venture to deny; Lavaterus[404:A] and others on the continent, and
Scot[404:B] and Mede[404:C] in our own country, attempting to prove
that these appearances were not occasioned by the return of the dead,
but by the permitted and personal agency of good or evil angels, who,
as we occasionally find in Scripture, and more particularly in the
case of Samuel, before the Witch of Endor, were allowed to assume the
resemblance of the deceased.

But, though this hypothesis be constructed on a species of spiritual
agency which we know to have existed, yet are the instances for which
it is adopted by these writers much too trivial and frequent to secure
to their solution a rational assent; nor is the presence of these
superior intelligences, as objects of sight, at all necessary to
account for the phenomena in question.

For it is obvious, that if relying, with Bishop Horsley, on the
evidence of sacred history, we believe that the Deity oftentimes acts
mediately, through his agents, on the human sensory, as a part of the
material universe, thereby producing diseases and morbid impressions,
the same effects will result. Not that we conceive matter can, in any
degree, modify the thinking principle itself, but its organisation
being the sole medium through which the intellect communicates with the
external world, it is evident that any derangement of the structure
of the brain must render the perceptions of the mind, as to material
existences, imperfect, false, and illusory.

It is remarkable that a doctrine similar to this was produced in the
last century to account for the spectral appearances of second sight,
by a Scotchman too, himself an Islander, who has furnished us with
an ample collection of instances of this singular visitation[405:A];
this gentleman contending, that these prophetic scenes are exhibited
not to the sight, but merely to the imagination. He adds, with great
sagacity, "as these Representations or waking Dreams, according to the
best Enquiry I could make, are communicated (unless it be seldom) but
to one Person at once, though there should be several Persons, and even
some Seers in Company, those Representations seem rather communicated
to the Imagination (as said is) than the Organ of Sight; seeing it is
impossible, if made always to the latter, but all Persons directing
their sight the same Way, having their Faculty of Sight alike perfect
and equally disposed, must see it in common."[405:B]

We must refer, however, to the present day for demonstration, founded
on actual experience, that the appearance of ghosts and apparitions
is, in every instance, the _immediate_ effect of certain partial but
morbid affections of the brain; yet, it must be remarked, that the
ingenious physiologists who have proved this curious fact, entirely
confine themselves, and perhaps very justly, to physical phenomena,
professedly discarding the consideration of any higher efficiency in
the series of causation than what appears as the result of diseased
organisation; so that their discovery, though completely overturning
the common superstition as to the return of the departed spirit, or the
visible interference of angelic agency, is yet very reconcileable with
the pneumatology of Bishop Horsley.

In 1805, Dr. Alderson of Hull read to the Literary Society of that
place, and published in 1811, an Essay on Apparitions, the object
of which is to prove that the immediate cause of these spectral
visitations "lies, not in the perturbed spirits of the departed,
but in the diseased organisation of the living." For this purpose he
relates several cases of this hallucination which fell under his own
observation and treatment, and which, as distinguished from partial
insanity, from delirium, somnambulism, and reverie, were completely
removed by medical means.

In 1813, Dr. Ferriar of Manchester published, on a more extended scale,
"An Essay towards a Theory of Apparitions," whose aim and result are
precisely similar to the anterior production of Dr. Alderson; both
admitting the reality and universality of spectral impressions, and
both attributing them to partial affections of the brain, independent
of any sensible external agency; it is also remarkable that both have
applied their speculations and experience in illustration of the
character of _Hamlet_, a circumstance which has, in a great measure,
led to these general observations on the progress of opinion as to the
nature of apparitional visitation.

The state of mind which Shakspeare exhibits to us in _Hamlet_, as the
consequence of conflicting passions and events, operating on a frame
of acute sensibility, Dr. Ferriar has termed _latent lunacy_. "The
subject of _latent lunacy_," he remarks, "is an untouched field, which
would afford the richest harvest to a skilful and diligent observer.
Cervantes has immortalized himself, by displaying the effect of one
bad species of composition on the hero of his satire, and Butler has
delineated the evils of epidemic, religious, and political frenzy; but
it remains as a task for some delicate pencil, to trace the miseries
introduced into private families, by a state of mind, which 'sees more
devils than vast hell can hold,' and which yet affords no proof of
derangement, sufficient to justify the seclusion of the unhappy invalid.

"This is a species of distress, on which no novelist has ever touched,
though it is unfortunately increasing in real life; though it may
be associated with worth, with genius, and with the most specious
demonstrations (for awhile) of general excellence.

"Addison has thrown out a few hints on this subject in one of the
Spectators; it could not escape so critical an observer of human
infirmities; and I have always supposed, that if the character of Sir
Roger de Coverley had been left untouched by Steele, it would have
exhibited some interesting traits of this nature. As it now appears, we
see nothing more than occasional absence of mind; and the peculiarities
of an humourist, contracted by retirement, and by the obsequiousness of
his dependants.

"It has often occurred to me, that Shakspeare's character of _Hamlet_
can only be understood, on this principle. He feigns madness, for
political purposes, while the poet means to represent his understanding
as really, (and unconsciously to himself) unhinged by the cruel
circumstances in which he is placed. The horror of the communication
made by his father's spectre; the necessity of belying his attachment
to an innocent and deserving object; the certainty of his mother's
guilt; and the supernatural impulse by which he is goaded to an act
of assassination, abhorrent to his nature, are causes sufficient
to overwhelm and distract a mind previously disposed to 'weakness
and to melancholy,' and originally full of tenderness and natural
affection. By referring to the book, it will be seen, that his real
insanity is only developed after the mock play. Then, in place of a
systematic conduct, conducive to his purposes, he becomes irresolute,
inconsequent, and the plot appears to stand unaccountably still.
Instead of striking at his object, he resigns himself to the current of
events, and sinks at length, ignobly, under the stream."[407:A]

Dr. Alderson, alluding to the common but cogent argument against
a belief in Ghosts, "that only one man at a time ever saw a
ghost, therefore, the probability is, that there never was such
a thing," adds, in reference to the character of Hamlet, and to
Shakspeare's management of his supernatural machinery, the following
observations:—"From what I have related, it will be seen why it should
happen, that only one at a time ever could see a ghost; and here we
may lament, that our celebrated poet, whose knowledge of nature is
every Englishman's boast, had not known such cases, and their causes
as those I have related; he would not then, perhaps, have made his
ghosts visible and audible on the stage. Every expression, every look
in Macbeth and Hamlet, is perfectly natural and consistent with men
so agitated, and quite sufficient to convince us of what they suffer,
see, and hear; but it must be evident, that the disease being confined
solely to the individual, such objects must be seen and heard only by
the individual. That men so circumstanced as Macbeth or Hamlet, Brutus
and Dion, should see phantoms and hold converse with them, appears to
me perfectly natural; and, though the cases I have now related owe
their origin entirely to a disordered state of bodily organs, as may
be evidently inferred by the history of their rise, and the result of
their cure, yet, with the knowledge we have of the effects of mind on
the body, we may be fairly led to conclude, that great mental anxiety,
inordinate ambition, and guilt may produce similar effects."[409:A]

If Shakspeare, more philosopher than poet, had pursued the plan which
Dr. Alderson has recommended, he would have injured his tragedy, and
wrecked his popularity. We could have spared, indeed, any ocular
demonstration of the mute and blood-boultered ghost of Banquo in
_Macbeth_, but had the ghost in _Hamlet_ been invisible and inaudible,
we should have lost the noblest scene of grateful terror which genius
has ever created.

Nor was it ignorance on the part of Shakspeare which gave birth to the
visibility of this awful spectre, for he has told us, in another place,

    "Such _shadows_ are the _weak brain's forgeries_."[409:B]

and, even in the very play under consideration, he calls them "the very
coinage of the brain," and adds,—

    "This _bodiless creation ecstacy_
     Is very cunning in;"[409:C]

but he well knew, that as a dramatic poet, in a superstitious age, it
was requisite, in order to produce a strong and general impression, to
adopt the popular creed, the superstition relative to his subject; and,
as Mrs. Montagu has justly observed, "the poet who does so, understands
his business much better than the critic, who, in judging of that work,
refuses it his attention.—Thus every operation that developes the
attributes, which vulgar opinion, or the nurse's legend, have taught us
to ascribe to 'such a preternatural Being,' will augment our pleasure;
whether we give the reins to our imagination, and, as spectators,
willingly yield ourselves up to pleasing delusion, or, as 'judicious'
Critics, examine the merit of the composition."[410:A]

That an undoubting belief in the actual appearance of ghosts and
apparitions was general in Shakspeare's time, has been the assertion
of all who have alluded to the subject, either as contemporary or
subsequent historians. Addison, at the commencement of the eighteenth
century, speaking of the credulities of the two preceding centuries,
observes, that "our Forefathers looked upon Nature with reverence and
horror—that they loved to astonish themselves with the apprehensions
of witchcraft, prodigies, charms, and enchantments.—There was not
a village in England that had not a _ghost_ in it—the church-yards
were all _haunted_—every common had a circle of fairies belonging
to it—and there was scarce a shepherd to be met with who had not
seen a _spirit_[410:B];" and Bourne, who wrote about the same period,
and expressly on the subject of vulgar superstitions, tells us, that
formerly "_hobgoblins_ and _sprights_ were in every _city_, and _town_,
and _village_, by every _water_, and in every _wood_.—If a house was
seated on some melancholy place, or built in some old romantic manner;
or if any particular accident had happened in it, such as murder,
sudden death, or the like, to be sure that house had a mark set on it,
and was afterwards esteemed the habitation of a ghost.—Stories of this
kind are infinite, and there are few _villages_, which have not either
had such an house in it, or near it."[410:C]

Such, then, being the superstitious character of the poet's times, it
was with great judgment that he seized the particulars best adapted to
his purpose, moulding them with a skill so perfect, as to render the
effect awful beyond all former precedent. A slight attention to the
circumstances which accompany the first appearances of the spectre to
Horatio and to Hamlet, will place this in a striking point of view.

The solemnity with which this Royal phantom is introduced is beyond
measure impressive: Bernardo is about to repeat to the incredulous
Horatio what had occurred on the last apparition of the deceased
monarch to Marcellus and himself, and thus commences his narrative:—

                        "Last night of all,
    When yon same star, that's westward from the pole,
    Had made his course to illume that part of heaven
    Where now it burns, Marcellus, and myself,
    The bell then beating one:"——

This note of time, the traditionary hour for the appearance of a ghost,
and, above all, the mysterious connection between the course of the
star, and the visitation of the spirit, usher in the "dreaded sight"
with an influence which makes the blood run chill.

A similar correspondence between a natural phenomenon in the heavens,
and the agency of a disembodied spirit, occurs, with an effect which
has been much admired, in a late poem by Lord Byron, where the shade of
Francesca, addressing her apostate lover, and directing his attention
to the orb of night, exclaims,—

    "There is a light cloud by the moon—
     'Tis passing, and will pass full soon—
     If, by the time its vapoury sail
     Hath ceased her shaded orb to veil,
     Thy heart within thee is not changed,
     Then God and man are both avenged;
     Dark will thy doom be, darker still
     Thine immortality of ill."[411:A]

The adjuration and interrogation of the ghost by Horatio and Hamlet,
are conducted in conformity to the ceremonies of papal superstition;
for it may be remarked, that in many things relative to religious
observances, or to the preternatural as connected with religion,
Shakspeare has shown such a marked predilection for the imposing
exterior, and comprehensive creed of the Roman church, as to lead some
of his biographers to suppose that he was himself a Roman Catholic.
This adoption, however, is to be attributed to the poetical nature of
the materials which the doctrines of Rome supply, and more particularly
to the food for imagination which the supposition of an intermediate
state, in which the souls of the departed are still connected with, and
influenced by, the conduct of man, must necessarily create.

Such a system, it is evident, would very readily admit some of the
oldest and most prevalent superstitions of the heathen world, and would
give fresh credibility to the re-appearance of the dead, in order to
reveal and to punish some horrible murder, to right the oppressed
orphan and the widow, to enjoin the sepulture of the mangled corse,
to discover concealed and ill-gotten treasure, to claim the aid of
prayer and intercession, to announce the fate of kingdoms, &c. &c.
Thus Horatio, addressing the Spectre, alludes to some of these as the
probable causes of the dreadful visitation which appals him:—

                    "Stay, illusion!
    If thou hast any sound, or use of voice,
    Speak to me!
    If there be any good thing to be done,
    That may to thee do ease, or grace to me,
    Speak to me:
    If thou art privy to thy country's fate,
    Which, happily, foreknowing may avoid,
    O, speak!
    Or, if thou hast uphoarded in thy life
    Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,
    For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,
    Speak of it."[412:A]

With a still higher degree of anxiety, curiosity, and terror, does
Hamlet, as might naturally be expected, invoke the spirit of his
father; his address being wrought up to the highest tone of amazement
and emotion, and clothed with the most vigorous expression of poetry:—

    "Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
     Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn'd,
     Bring with thee airs from heaven, or blasts from hell,
     Be thy intents wicked, or charitable,
     Thou com'st in such a questionable shape,
     That I will speak to thee; I'll call thee, Hamlet,
     King, father, royal Dane: O, answer me:
     Let me not burst in ignorance! but tell,
     Why thy canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death,
     Have burst their cerements! why the sepulchre,
     Wherein we saw thee quietly in-urn'd,
     Hath op'd his ponderous and marble jaws,
     To cast thee up again! What may this mean,
     That thou, dead corse, again, in complete steel,
     Revisit'st thus the glimpses of the moon,
     Making night hideous; and we fools of nature,
     So horridly to shake our disposition,
     With thoughts beyond the riches of our souls?
     Say why is this? wherefore? what should we do?"[413:A]

The doubts and queries of this most impressive speech are similar to
those which are allowed to be entertained, and directed to be put, by
contemporary writers on the subject of apparitions. Thus the English
Lavaterus enjoins the person so visited to charge the spirit to
"declare and open what he is—who he is, why he is come, and what he
desireth;" saying,—"Thou Spirite, we beseech thee by Christ Jesus,
tell us what thou art;" and he then orders him to enquire, "What man's
soule he is? for what cause he is come, and what he doth desire?
Whether he require any ayde by prayers and suffrages? Whether by
massing or almes giving he may be released?" &c. &c.[413:B]

In pursuance of the same judicious plan of adopting the popular
conceptions, and giving them dignity and effect, by that philosophy
of the supernatural which has been remarked as so peculiarly the
gift of Shakspeare[414:A], we find him employing, in these scenes of
super-human interference, the traditional notions of his age, relative
to the influence of approaching light on departed spirits, as intimated
by the crowing of the cock, and the fading lustre of the glow-worm.
One of the passages which have so admirably immortalised these
superstitions, contains also another not less striking, concerning
the supposed sanctity and protecting power of the nights immediately
previous to Christmas-Day. On the sudden departure of the Spirit,
Bernardo remarks,—

    "It was about to speak, when the cock crew.

       _Hor._ And then it started like a guilty thing
     Upon a fearful summons. I have heard,
     The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,
     Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
     Awake the god of day, and, at his warning,
     Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
     The extravagant and erring spirit hies
     To his confine: and of the truth herein
     This present object made probation.

       _Mar._ It faded on the crowing of the cock.
     Some say, that ever 'gainst that season comes
     Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
     This bird of dawning singeth all night long:
     And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad;
     The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
     No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
     So hallow'd and so gracious is the time."[414:B]

    "————————— Fare thee well at once!"

exclaims the apparition on retiring from the presence of his son,

    "The glow-worm shows the matins to be near,
     And 'gins to pale his uneffectual fire."[414:C]

This idea of spirits flying the approach of morning, appears from
the hymn of _Prudentius_, quoted by Bourne, to have been entertained
by the Christian world as early as the commencement of the fourth
century[415:A]; but a passage still more closely allied to the lines
in Shakspeare, has been adduced by Mr. Douce, from a hymn composed by
Saint Ambrose, and formerly used in the Salisbury service.—"It so
much resembles," he observes, "Horatio's speech, that one might almost
suppose Shakspeare had seen them:—

    "_Preco diei jam sonat_,
     Noctis profundæ pervigil;
     Nocturna lux viantibus,
     A nocte noctem segregans.
     _Hoc excitatus Lucifer,
     Solvit polum caligine;
     Hoc omnis errorum chorus
     Viam nocendi deserit.
     Gallo canente spes redit_, &c."[415:B]

"The epithets _extravagant_ and _erring_," he adds, "are highly
poetical and appropriate, and seem to prove that Shakspeare was not
altogether ignorant of the Latin language."[415:C]

With what awful and mysterious grandeur has he invested the Popish
doctrine of purgatory! a doctrine certainly well calculated for
poetical purposes, and of which the particulars must have been familiar
to him, through the writings of his contemporaries. Thus the English
Lavaterus, detailing the opinions of the Roman Catholics on this
subject, tells us, that "Purgatorie is also under the earth as Hel
is. Some say that Hell and Purgatorie are both one place, albeit the
paines be divers according to the deserts of soules. Furthermore they
say, that under the earth there are more places of punishment in which
the soules of the dead may be purged. For they say, that this or that
soule hath ben seene in this or that mountaine, floud, or valley, where
it hath committed the offence: that there are particuler Purgatories,
assigned unto them for some special cause, before the day of Judgement,
after which time all maner of Purgatories, as well general as
particuler shal cease. Some of them say, that the paine of Purgatorie
is al one with the punishment of Hel, and that they differ only in
this, that the on hath an end, the other no ende: and that it is far
more easie to endure all the paynes of this worlde, which al men since
Adam's time have susteined, even unto the day of the last Judgement,
than to bear one dayes space the least of those two punishments.
Further they holde that our fire, if it be compared with the fire of
Purgatorie, doth resemble only a painted fire."[416:A]

From this temporary place of torment, he informs us, that, "by Gods
licence and dispensation, certaine, yea before the day of Judgement,
are permitted to come out, and that not for ever, but only for a
season, for the instructing and terrifying of the lyving:"—and
again:—"Many times in the nyght season, there have beene certaine
spirits hearde softely going——who being asked what they were, have
made aunswere that they were the soules of this or that man, and that
they nowe endure extreame tormentes. If by chaunce any man did aske of
them, by what meanes they might be delivered out of those tortures,
they have aunswered, that in case a certaine numbre of Masses were sung
for them, or Pilgrimages vowed to some Saintes, or some other such
like deedes doone for their sake, that then surely they shoulde be

Never was the art of the poet more discoverable, than in the use
which has been made of this doctrine in the play before us, and more
particularly in the following narrative, which instantly seizes on the
mind, and fills it with that indefinite kind of terror that leads to
the most horrible imaginings:—

      "_Ghost._     My hour is almost come,
    When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames
    Must render up myself.

      _Ham._               Alas, poor ghost!——

      _Ghost._ I am thy father's spirit;
    Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night;
    And, for the day, confin'd to fast in fires,
    Till the foul crimes, done in my days of nature,
    Are burnt and purg'd away. But that I am forbid
    To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
    I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word
    Would harrow up thy soul; freeze thy young blood;
    Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres;
    Thy knotted and combined locks to part,
    Like quills upon the fretful porcupine:
    But this eternal blazon must not be
    To ears of flesh and blood."[417:A]

In this hazardous experiment, of placing before our eyes a spirit from
the world of departed souls, no one has approached, by many degrees,
the excellence of our poet. The shade of Darius, in the Persians of
Æschylus, has been satisfactorily shown, by a critic of great ability,
to be far inferior[417:B]; nor can the ghosts of Ossian, who is justly
admired for delineations of this kind, be brought into competition with
the Danish spectre; neither the Grecian, nor the Celtic mythology,
indeed, affording materials equal, in point of impression, to those
which existed for the English bard. We may also venture to affirm, that
the management of Shakspeare, in the disposition of his materials,
from the first shock which the sentinels receive, to that which
Hamlet sustains in the closet of his mother, is perfectly unrivalled,
and, more than any other, calculated to excite the highest degree of
interest, pity, and terror.

It is likewise no small proof of judgment in our poet, that he has
only _once_ attempted to unveil, in this direct manner, the awful
destiny of the dead, and to embody, as it were, at full length, a
missionary from the grave; for the ghost of _Banquo_, and the spectral
appearances in _Julius Cæsar_ and _Richard the Third_, are slight
and powerless sketches, when compared with the tremendous visitation
in _Hamlet_, beyond which no human imagination can ever hope to


[356:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xx. pp. 37-39. Act i. sc. 3.

[357:A] See Stowe's Chronicle, and Gabriel Harvey's Letter in the
Preface to Spenser's Works, edit. 1679.

[357:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xx. p. 38. note 2.

[357:C] Ibid. vol. ii. p. 272.

[357:D] Ibid. vol. ii. p. 268.

[357:E] Supplemental Apology, p. 286.

[358:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 269.

[358:B] Supplemental Apology, p. 284.

[359:A] British Bibliographer, vol. ii. p. 115.—The title, which is
wanting in Mr. Capell's copy of 1562, is thus given by Mr. Hazlewood:—

                          "The Tragicall His-
                   torye of Romeus and Juliet, writ-
                   ten first in Italian by Bandell,
                        and nowe in Englishe by
                                Ar. Br.
                     In ædibus Richardi Tottelli.
                            Cum Priuilegio.
                     (Col.) Imprinted at London in
                 Flete strete within Temble barre, at
                 the signe of the hand and starre, by
                    Richard Tottill the XIX day of
                       November. An. do. 1562."

[359:B] "Steevens," remarks Mr. Haslewood, "in a note prefixed to the
play, rather prophetically observes, 'we are not yet at the end of
our discoveries relative to the originals of our author's dramatick
pieces:' true: a play founded on the story of Romeo and Juliet,
appearing on the stage 'with commendation,' anterior to the time of
Shakspeare, is a new discovery for the commentators."

To the notices afforded us by the Commentators on Shakspeare, of
the popularity of the story of Romeo and Juliet, may be added the
following, collected by the industry of Mr. Hazlewood. The first
is from "The Pleasant fable of Hermaphroditus and Salmacis, by T.
Peend, Gent. With a morall in English Verse. Anno Domini 1565, Mense
Decembris. (Col.) Imprinted at London in Flete streat beneath the
Conduyt, at the sygne of S. John Euangelyste, by Thomas Colwell. Oct.
24 leaves."

    "And Juliet, Romeus yonge,
       for bewty did imbrace,
     Yet dyd hys manhode well agree,
       unto hys worthy grace:"

On which lines occurs the following note, at the end of the
poem:—"Juliet. A noble mayden of the cytye Verona in Italye, whyche
loued Romeus, eldest sonne of the Lorde Montesche, and beinge pryuely
maryed together: he at last poysoned hymselfe for loue of her. She
for sorowe of hys deathe, slewe her selfe in the same tombe, with hys
dagger."—Brit. Bibliographer, vol. ii. pp. 344. 347. 349.

The second instance is from a work entitled "Philotimus. The Warre
betwixt Nature and Fortune. Compiled by Brian Melbancke Student in
Graies Inne. Palladi virtutis famula. Imprinted at London by Roger
Warde, dwelling neere unto Holborne Conduit at the signe of the Talbot,
1583." 4to. pp. 226.

"Nowe Priams sone give place, thy Helen's hew is stainde. O Troylus,
weepe no more, faire Cressed thyne is lothlye fowle. Nor Hercules thou
haste cause to vaunt for thy swete Omphale: _nor Romeo thou hast cause
to weepe for Juliets losse_," &c.—Brit. Bibliographer, vol. ii. pp.
438. 444.

[362:A] The History of Fiction, vol. ii. pp. 339-341. 1st edit.

[364:A] A Course of Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature. By
Augustus William Schlegel. Translated from the original German, by John
Black. 8vo. 2 vols. 1815. vol. i. pp. 187, 188.

[364:B] Supplemental Apology, p. 371.

[364:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xx. p. 349. Act i. sc. 1.

[364:D] Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 342.

[364:E] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 5.

[366:A] "I suspect," says Mr. Malone, "that the anonymous _Taming of
a Shrew_ was written about the year 1590, either by George Peele or
Robert Greene."—Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 196.

[366:B] "A very droll print of village society," observes Mr. Felton,
"might be taken" from this interlude. "It might represent this worthy
tinker, at _Marian Hackets_ of Wincot, with _Stephen Sly_, _Old John
Naps o' th' Green_, _Peter Turf_, and _Henry Pimpernell_, not as
smoking their pipes, (as scarce at that day introduced,) but drinking
their ale in _stone-jugs_."—Imperfect Hints towards a New Edition of
Shakspeare, part i. p. 21.

[367:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 176.

[368:A] History of Fiction, 1st edit. vol. iii. p. 131.

[368:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 177.

[369:A] It is remarkable, that a great poet of the present day has
exhibited, in his poetical romances, an equal attachment to this mode
of disguise. I will here also add, that the compass of English poetry
does not, _in point of interest_, afford any thing more stimulating
and attractive than the _Dramas_ of _Shakspeare_, the _Romances_ of
_Scott_, and the _Tales_ of _Byron_.

[369:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 277. Act iv. sc. 3.

[370:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 234. Act ii. sc. 7.

[370:B] Richard the Second was entered on the Stationers' books, on
August 29. 1597; and Richard the Third on October 20. 1597; and both
printed the same year.

[370:C] It must be recollected that Mr. Malone's "Chronological
Order of Shakspeare's Plays," is founded, not on the period of their
publication, but on that of their composition; it is "an attempt to
ascertain the order in which the Plays of Shakspeare were _written_."

[372:A] Anecdotes of Literature and Scarce books, vol. vi. pp. 156.
158, 159.

[372:B] The lines which seem to imply the future intentions of the
poet, are these:—

      "_Glo._ Clarence, beware: thou keep'st me from the light;
    But I will sort a pitchy day for thee:
    For I will buz abroad such prophecies,
    That Edward shall be fearful of his life;
    And then, to purge his fear, I'll be thy death.
    King Henry, and the prince his son, are gone:
    Clarence, thy turn is next, and then the rest."
                            Henry VI. Pt. III. act v. sc. 6.

      "_Glo._ I'll blast his harvest, if your head were laid;
    For yet I am not look'd on in the world.
    This shoulder was ordain'd so thick, to heave;
    And heave it shall some weight, or break my back:—
    Work thou the way,—and thou shall execute."
                                         Ibid. act v. sc. 7.

[373:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xiv. p. 206. Henry VI. Pt. III. act v.
sc. 6.

[373:B] Ibid. vol. xiv. p. 205.

[374:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xiv. p. 272. Act i. sc. 1.

[374:B] Ibid. vol. xiv. p. 116.

[376:A] Supplemental Apology, p. 308.

[376:B] "This prince," observes Mr. Godwin, "is universally described
to us as one of the most beautiful youths that was ever beheld; and
from the portrait of him still existing in Westminster Abbey, however
imperfect was the art of painting in that age, connoisseurs have
inferred that his person was admirably formed, and his features cast
in a mould of the most perfect symmetry. His appearance and manner
were highly pleasing, and it was difficult for any one to approach him
without being prepossessed in his favour."—Life of Chaucer, vol. iii.
p. 170. 8vo. edit.

[377:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xi. p. 108. Act iii. sc. 3.

[377:B] Ibid. vol. xi. p. 98. Act iii. sc. 2.

[378:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xi. pp. 145, 146. Act v. sc. 2.

[378:B] Historie of Great Britaine, folio, pp. 766. 777. 2d edit. 1623.

[379:A] The exception alluded to consists in a quotation from Jonson's
Every Man out of his Humour, first acted in 1599, as an authority for
supposing the Second Part of King Henry IV. to have been written in
1598; and it is a remarkable circumstance, that both Mr. Malone and Mr.
Chalmers have each committed an error in referring to this passage.
It is in Act v. sc. 2. where Fastidius Brisk, in answer to Saviolina,
says,—"No, lady, this is a kinsman to Justice Silence," which Mr.
Malone has converted into Justice Shallow; while Mr. Chalmers tells us,
that "Ben Jonson, certainly, alluded to the Justice Silence of this
play, in his Every Man _in his_ Humour."—Vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol.
ii. p. 288. and Chalmers's Supplemental Apology, p. 331.

[379:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xii. p. 3.

[379:C] I have not the smallest doubt but that Meres, in his List of
our author's Plays, published in September, 1598, meant to include both
parts under his mention of Henry IV.; speaking of the poet's excellence
in both species of dramatic composition, he says, "for comedy, witness
his Gentlemen of Verona, &c. &c.;—for tragedy, his Richard II. Richard
III. Henry IV."; and had he recollected the Parts of Henry the Sixth,
he would have included them, also, under the bare title of Henry VI.

[381:A] An ingenious Essay has been lately published by Mr. Luders,
in which an attempt is made, with some success, to prove, that the
youthful dissipation ascribed to Henry, by the chroniclers, is without
any adequate foundation. It is probable, however, that Shakspeare, had
he been aware of this, would have preferred the popular statement, from
its superior aptitude for dramatic effect.

[385:A] Supplemental Apology, p. 348.

[385:B] Vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vii. p. 229.

[386:A] Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 291.

[386:B] Preserved in the Harleian Collection, No. 7333, and containing
70 stories.

[386:C] Vide Douce's Illustrations, vol. ii. p. 424.

[387:A] Warton's History of English Poetry, vol. ii. p. 18.; vol. iii.
p. lxxxiii.; and Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vii. p. 229.

[387:B] "I have examined numerous bibliographical treatises and
catalogues for this edition," says Mr. Dibdin, "without effect. It does
not appear to have been in Dr. Farmer's own collection."—Typographical
Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 366.

[387:C] Dunlop's History of Fiction, 1st edit. vol. ii. p. 336.

[389:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. vii. p. 294, 295. Act ii. sc. 8.

[390:A] Reed's Shakspeare vol. vii. p. 373. Act v.

[391:A] Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. i. pp. 269, 270.

[391:B] This memorandum is as follows:—"The younger sort take much
delight in Shakspeare's Venus and Adonis; but his Lucrece, and his
tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke, have it in them to please the
wiser sort, 1598."—Vide Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 2.

[391:C] Supplemental Apology, pp. 351, 352.

[391:D] Ibid. p. 354.

[392:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 174. Act iii. sc. 1.

[394:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 162. Act ii. sc. 2.

[395:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 338. Act v. sc. 1.

[395:B] Ibid. vol. xviii. p. 175. Act iii. sc. 1.

[397:A] Paradise Lost, book i. l. 64.

[398:A] Vide Douce's Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 265.

[399:A] Sermons, vol. ii. p. 369.

[400:A] Vide Good's Translation of Job, part v. chap. 33. ver. 22,
23.—I have ventured to alter the language, though I have strictly
adhered to the import of the last line. _Ministers of Death_ have also
been substituted for _Destinies_.

[401:A] Vide Todd's Spenser, vol. iv. pp. 1, 2, 3. Faerie Queene, book
ii. canto 8. stanz. 1 and 2.

[401:B] Todd's Milton, vol. iii. pp. 138, 139. Paradise Lost, book
iv. l. 677.—Shakspeare, it may be remarked, occasionally alludes to
the same species of spiritual hierarchy, and, in the very play we are
engaged upon, Laertes says—

    "A _minist'ring angel_ shall my sister be,
     When thou liest howling."
                                               Act v. sc. 1.

[402:A] Pope's Iliad, book xxiii.

[403:A] Horsley's Nine Sermons on the Nature of the Evidence by which
the Fact of our Lord's Resurrection is established, p. 209.

[403:B] See an elegant and very satisfactory Dissertation on the
"Mythology of the Poems of Ossian," by Professor Richardson of Glasgow,
in Graham's "Essay on the Authenticity of the Poems of Ossian," 8vo.

[404:A] Lavaterus was translated into English by R. H. and printed by
Henry Benneyman, in 1572. 4to.

[404:B] See his Treatise on Divels and Spirits, annexed to his
Discoverie of Witchcraft, 4to. 1584.

[404:C] Mede was born in 1586 and died in 1638, and the doctrine in
question is to be found in the fortieth of his fifty-three Discourses,
published after his decease.

[405:A] "A Treatise on the Second Sight, Dreams, Apparitions, &c. By
Theophilus Insulanus." 8vo. Edinb. 1763.

[405:B] Reprint of 1815, annexed to Kirk's "Secret Commonwealth," p. 74.

[407:A] Essay on the Theory of Apparitions, pp. 111-115.—The following
very curious instance of a striking renewal of terrific impressions,
is given by the Doctor in this entertaining little work: it was
communicated to him, he tells us, by the gentleman who underwent the

"He was benighted, while travelling alone, in a remote part of the
Highlands of Scotland, and was compelled to ask shelter for the evening
at a small lonely hut. When he was to be conducted to his bed-room, the
landlady observed, with mysterious reluctance, that he would find the
window very insecure. On examination, part of the wall appeared to have
been broken down, to enlarge the opening. After some enquiry, he was
told, that a pedlar, who had lodged in the room a short time before,
had committed suicide, and was found hanging behind the door, in the
morning. According to the superstition of the country, it was deemed
improper to remove the body through the door of the house; and to
convey it through the window was impossible, without removing part of
the wall. Some hints were dropped, that the room had been subsequently
haunted by the poor man's spirit.

"My friend laid his arms, properly prepared against intrusion of any
kind, by the bedside, and retired to rest, not without some degree of
apprehension. He was visited, in a dream, by a frightful apparition,
and awaking in agony, found himself sitting up in bed, with a pistol
grasped in his right hand. On casting a fearful glance round the room,
he discovered, by the moon-light, a corpse, dressed in a shroud, reared
erect, against the wall, close by the window. With much difficulty,
he summoned up resolution to approach the dismal object, the features
of which, and the minutest parts of its funeral apparel, he perceived
distinctly. He passed one hand over it; felt nothing; and staggered
back to the bed. After a long interval, and much reasoning with
himself, he renewed his investigation, and at length discovered that
the object of his terror was produced by the moon-beams, forming a
long, bright image, through the broken window, on which his fancy,
impressed by his dream, had pictured, with mischievous accuracy, the
lineaments of a body prepared for interment. Powerful associations
of terror, in this instance, had excited the recollected images with
uncommon force and effect." Pp. 24-28.

[409:A] Essay on Apparitions, annexed to the fourth edition of his
Essay on the Rhus Toxicodendron, pp. 68, 69.

[409:B] Rape of Lucrece, vide Malone's Supplement, vol. i. p. 500.

[409:C] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 250, 251.

[410:A] Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakspeare. 8vo. 5th edit.
pp. 162. 165.

[410:B] Spectator, No. 419.

[410:C] Bourne's Antiquities of the Common People, 1725, edition apud
Brand, pp. 119. 122, 123.

[411:A] The Siege of Corinth, p. 34.

[412:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 21.

[413:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. p. 70-74. Act i. sc. 4.

[413:B] "Of ghostes and spirites walking by nyght," Parte the Seconde,
pp. 106, 107. 4to. B. L., 1572. From the chapter entitled, "The
Papistes doctrine touching the soules of dead men, and the appearing of

[414:A] Madame De Stael observes, "there is always something
philosophical in the supernatural employed by Shakspeare." The
Influence of Literature on Society, vol. i. p. 297.

[414:B] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. pp. 22-25. Act i. sc. 1.

[414:C] Ibid. pp. 86, 87. Act i. sc. 5.

[415:A] Antiquitates Vulgares apud Brand, p. 68.—It has been
observed by Mr. Steevens, that "this is a very ancient superstition.
Philostratus, giving an account of the apparition of Achilles' shade
to Apollonius Tyaneus, says that it vanished with a little glimmer as
soon as the _cock crowed_." Vit. Apol. iv. 16. Reed's Shakspeare, vol.
xviii. p. 25. note.

[415:B] "See Expositio hymnorum secundum usum Sarum, pr. by R. Pynson,
n. d., 4to. fol. vij. b."

[415:C] Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 201.

[416:A] "Of ghostes and spirites walking by nyght," 1572. The seconde
parte, chap. ii. p. 103.

[416:B] The seconde parte, chap. ii. p. 104.; and The first parte,
chap. xv. p. 72.

[417:A] Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xviii. pp. 77-80. Act i. sc. 5.

[417:B] See Montagu on the Preternatural Beings of Shakspeare, in her
Essay, p. 160. 165.

[418:A] It has been asserted by Gildon, but upon what foundation does
not appear, that Shakspeare wrote the scene of the Ghost in Hamlet,
in the church-yard bordering on his house at Stratford.—Vide Reed's
Shakspeare, vol. v. p. 4.



We are well aware, that, to many of our readers, the chronological
discussion incident to a new arrangement, will be lamented as tedious
and uninteresting; the more so, as nothing absolutely certain can be
expected as the result. That this part of our subject, therefore, may
be as compressed as possible, we shall, in future, be very brief in
offering a determination between the decisions of the two previous
chronologers, reserving a somewhat larger space for the few instances
in which it may be thought necessary to deviate from both.

Of the plays enumerated by Meres, in September, 1598, only two remain
to be noticed in this portion of our work, namely, _King John_ and
_Love's Labour's Wonne_:—

16. KING JOHN: 1598. Mr. Chalmers having detected some allusions in
this play to the events of 1597, in addition to those which Mr. Malone
had accurately referred to the preceding year, it becomes necessary,
with the former of these gentlemen, to assign its production to the
spring of 1598.[419:A]

If _King John_, as a whole, be not entitled to class among the very
first rate compositions of our author, it can yet exhibit some scenes
of superlative beauty and effect, and two characters supported with
unfailing energy and consistency.

The bastard Faulconbridge, though not perhaps a very amiable personage,
being somewhat too interested and worldly-minded in his conduct to
excite much of our esteem, has, notwithstanding, so large a portion
of _the very spirit of Plantagenet_ in him, so much heroism, gaiety,
and fire in his constitution, and, in spite of his vowed accommodation
to the times[420:A], such an open and undaunted turn of mind, that we
cannot refuse him our admiration, nor, on account of his fidelity to
John, however ill-deserved, our occasional sympathy and attachment.
The alacrity and intrepidity of his daring spirit are nobly supported
to the very last, where we find him exerting every nerve to rouse and
animate the conscience-stricken soul of the tyrant.

In the person of Lady Constance, _Maternal Grief_, the most interesting
passion of the play, is developed in all its strength; the picture
penetrates to the inmost heart, and seared must those feelings be,
which can withstand so powerful an appeal; for all the emotions of the
fondest affection, and the wildest despair, all the rapid transitions
of anguish, and approximating phrenzy, are wrought up into the scene
with a truth of conception which rivals that of nature herself.

The innocent and beauteous Arthur, rendered doubly attractive by the
sweetness of his disposition and the severity of his fate, is thus
described by his doating mother:—

    "But thou art fair, and at thy birth, dear boy!
     Nature and fortune join'd to make thee great:
     Of Nature's gifts thou may'st with lillies boast,
     And with the half-blown rose."[420:B]

When he is captured, therefore, and imprisoned by John, and,
consequently, sealed for destruction, who but Shakspeare could have
done justice to the agonising sorrows of the parent? Her invocation
to death, and her address to Pandulph, paint maternal despair with a
force which no imagination can augment, and of which the tenderness and
pathos have never been exceeded:—

    "Death, death:—O amiable lovely death!—
     Come, grin on me; and I will think thou smil'st,—
     —————————————— Misery's love,
     O, come to me!——
     —— Father cardinal, I have heard you say,
     That we shall see and know our friends in heaven:
     If that be true I shall see my boy again;
     For, since the birth of Cain, the first male child,
     To him that did but yesterday suspire,
     There was not such a gracious creature born.
     But now will canker sorrow eat my bud,
     And chase the native beauty from his cheek,
     And he will look as hollow as a ghost;
     As dim and meagre as an ague's fit;
     And so he'll die; and, rising so again,
     When I shall meet him in the court of heaven
     I shall not know him: therefore never, never
     Must I behold my pretty Arthur more.

       _Pand._ You hold too heinous a respect of grief.

       _Const._ He talks to me, that never had a son.

       _K. Phi._ You are as fond of grief, as of your child.

       _Const._ Grief fills the room up of my absent child.
     Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me;
     Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
     Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
     Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form;
     Then, have I reason to be fond of grief?
     Fare you well: had you such a loss as I,
     I could give better comfort than you do.—
     I will not keep this form upon my head,
                                   (_Tearing off her head-dress._
     When there is such disorder in my wit.
     O lord! my boy, my Arthur, my fair son!
     My life, my joy, my food, my all the world!
     My widow-comfort, and my sorrow's cure!"[421:A]     [_Exit._

Independent of the scenes which unfold the striking characters of
Constance and Faulconbridge, there are two others in this play which
may vie with any thing that Shakspeare has produced; namely, the
scene between John and Hubert, and that between Hubert and Arthur.
The former, where the usurper obscurely intimates to Hubert his
bloody wishes, is conducted in so masterly a manner, that we behold
the dark and turbulent soul of John lying naked before us in all its
deformity, and shrinking with fear even from the enunciation of its
own vile purpose; "it is one of the scenes," as Mr. Steevens has well
observed, "to which may be promised a lasting commendation. Art could
add little to its perfection; and time itself can take nothing from its

The scene with Hubert and the executioners, where the hapless Arthur
supplicates for mercy, almost lacerates the heart itself; and is only
rendered supportable by the tender and alleviating impression which
the sweet innocence and artless eloquence of the poor child fix with
indelible influence on the mind. Well may it be said, in the language
of our poet, that he who can behold this scene without the gushing
tribute of a tear,

    "Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;—
     Let no such man be trusted."

As for the character of John, which, from its meanness and imbecillity,
seems not well calculated for dramatic representation, Shakspeare has
contrived, towards the close of the drama, to excite in his behalf some
degree of interest and commiseration; especially in the dying scene,
where the fallen monarch, in answer to the enquiry of his son as to the
state of his feelings, mournfully exclaims,—

    "Poison'd,—ill fare;—dead, forsook, cast off."

17. ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL: 1598. There does not appear any
sufficient reason for altering the date assigned to this play by
Mr. Malone, whom we have, therefore, followed in preference to Mr.
Chalmers, who has fixed on the succeeding year; a decision to which we
have been particularly induced, independent of other circumstances, by
the apparent notice of this drama by Meres, under the title of _Love's
Labour's Wonne_, an appellation which very accurately applies to this,
but to no other of our author's productions with any similar degree
of pertinency. We have reason, therefore, to conclude, as nothing
has hitherto been brought forward to invalidate the assumption, that
Meres's title was the original designation of this comedy, and was
intended by the poet as a counter-title to _Love's Labour's Lost_. What
induced him to dismiss the first, and to adopt the present proverbial
appellation, cannot positively be ascertained; but the probability
is, as Mr. Malone has remarked, that the alteration was suggested
in consequence of the adage itself being found in the body of the

The noblest character in this comedy, which, though founded on a story
somewhat too improbable, abounds both in interest and entertainment,
is the good old _Countess of Rousillon_. Shakspeare seems to have
drawn this portrait _con amore_, and we figure to ourselves for this
amiable woman, a countenance beaming with dignity, sweetness, and
sensibility, emanations from a heart which had ever responded to the
impulses of love and charity. In short, her maternal affection for
the gentle Helen, her piety, sound sense, and candour, call for our
warmest reverence and esteem, which accompany her to the close of the
representation, and follow her departure with regret.[423:B]

Helen, the romantic, the love-dejected Helen, must excite in every
feeling bosom a high degree of sympathy; patient suffering in the
female sex, especially when resulting from ill-requited attachment, and
united with modesty and beauty, cannot but be an object of interest
and commiseration, and, in the instance before us, these are admirably
blended in

    ————————— "a maid too virtuous
    For the contempt of empire,"

but who, unfortunately, has to struggle against the prejudices of
birth, rank, and unfeeling pride, in the very man who is the object of
her idolatry, and who, even after the most sacred of bonds should have
cemented their destiny, flies with scorn from her embraces.

If in the infancy of her passion the error of indiscretion be
attributable to Helen, how is it atoned for by the most engaging
humility, by the most bewitching tenderness of heart: "Be not
offended," she tells her noble patroness,

    "Be not offended; for it hurts not him,
     That he is lov'd of me: I follow him not
     By any token of presumptuous suit;
     Nor would I have him, till I do deserve him;
     Yet never know how that desert should be—
     ——————————— thus, Indian-like,
     Religious in mine error, I adore
     The sun, that looks upon his worshipper,
     But knows of him no more."[424:A]

But when the wife of Bertram, with a resignation and self-devotedness
worthy of the highest praise, she deserts the house of her
mother-in-law, knowing that whilst she is sheltered there her husband
will not return, how does she, becoming thus an unprotected wanderer, a
pilgrim _bare-foot plodding the cold ground_ for him who has contemned
her, rise to the tone of exalted truth and heroism!

    —————————— "Poor lord! is't I
    That chase thee from thy country, and expose
    Those tender limbs of thine to the event
    Of the none-sparing war? and is it I
    That drive thee from the sportive court, where thou
    Wast shot at with fair eyes, to be the mark
    Of smoky muskets?——
    ———————— No, come thou home, Rousillon:—
    ——————————— I will be gone:
    My being it is, that holds thee hence:
    Shall I stay here to do't? no, no, although
    The air of paradise did fan the house,
    And angels offic'd all: I will be gone;
    That pitiful rumour may report my flight,
    To consolate thine ear. Come, night,—
    For, with the dark, poor thief, I'll steal away."[425:A]

It was necessary, in order to place the character of Helen in
its most interesting point of view, that Bertram should be
represented as arrogant, profligate, and unfeeling; a coxcomb who to
family-consequence hesitates not to sacrifice all that is manly, just,
and honourable. The picture is but too true to nature, and, since
the poet found such a delineation essential to the construction of
his story, he has very properly taken care, though Bertram, out of
tenderness to the Countess and Helena, meets not the punishment he
merits, that nothing in mitigation of his folly should be produced.

To the comic portion of this drama too much praise can scarcely be
given; it is singularly rich in all that characterises the wit, the
drollery, and the humour of Shakspeare. The Clown is the rival of
Touchstone in _As You Like It_; and Parolles, in the power of exciting
laughter and ludicrous enjoyment, is only secondary to Falstaff.

18. KING HENRY THE FIFTH: 1599. The chorus at the commencement of the
fifth act, and the silence of Meres, too plainly point out the era of
the composition of this play, to admit of any alteration depending on
the bare supposition of subsequent interpolation, or on allusions too
vague and general to afford any specific application.

No character has been pourtrayed more at length by our poet than
that of Henry the Fifth, for we trace him acting a prominent part
through three plays. In _Henry the Fourth_, until the battle of
Shrewsbury, we behold him in all the effervescence of his mad-cap
revelry; occasionally, it is true, affording us glimpses of the
native mightiness of his mind, but first bursting upon us with heroic
splendour on that celebrated field. In every situation, however, he is
evidently the darling offspring of his bard, whether we attend him to
the frolic orgies in Eastcheap, to his combat with the never-daunted
Percy, or, as in the play before us, to the immortal plains of

The fire and animation which inform the soul of Henry when he rushes to
arms in defence of his father's throne, are supported with unwearied
vigour, with a blaze which never falters, throughout the whole of his
martial achievements in France. Nor has Shakspeare been content with
representing him merely in the light of a noble and chivalrous hero, he
has endowed him with every regal virtue; he is magnanimous, eloquent,
pious, and sincere; versed in all the arts of government, policy,
and war; a lover of his country and of his people, and a strenuous
protector of their liberties and rights.

Of the various instances which our author has brought forward for the
exemplification of these virtues and acquirements, it may be necessary
to notice two or three. Thus the detection of the treason of Cambridge,
Gray, and Scroop, who had conspired to assassinate Henry previous
to his embarkation, exhibits a rich display of the mental greatness
and emphatic oratory of this warlike monarch. After reprobating the
treachery of Cambridge and Gray, he suddenly turns upon Scroop, who had
been his bosom-friend, with the following pathetic and soul-harrowing

    ——————————————— "But
    What shall I say to thee, lord Scroop!—
    Thou, that didst bear the key of all my counsels,
    That knew'st the very bottom of my soul!—
    May it be possible, that foreign hire
    Could out of thee extract one spark of evil,
    That might annoy my finger?—
    O, how hast thou with jealousy infected
    The sweetness of affiance!—
    —————————— I will weep for thee;
    For this revolt of thine, methinks, is like
    Another fall of man."[426:A]

Nor can we forbear distinguishing the dismissal of these traitors,
as a striking example of magnanimity, and of justice tempered with
dignified compassion:—

    "God quit you in his mercy!——
     Touching our person, seek we no revenge;
     But we our kingdom's safety must so tender,
     Whose ruin you three sought, that to her laws
     We do deliver you. Get you therefore hence,
     Poor miserable wretches, to your death:
     The taste whereof, God, of his mercy, give you
     Patience to endure, and true repentance
     Of all your dear offences!"[427:A]

In the fourth act, what a masterly picture of the cares and solicitudes
of royalty is drawn by Henry himself, in his noble soliloquy on the
morning of the battle, especially towards the close, where he contrasts
the gorgeous but painful ceremonies of a crown with the profitable
labour and the balmy rest of the peasant, who

    ——————————— "from the rise to set,
    Sweats in the eye of Phœbus, and all night
    Sleeps in Elysium!"

But the prayer which immediately follows is unrivalled for its power of
impression, presenting us with the most lively idea of the amiability,
piety, and devotional fervour of the monarch:—

    "O God of battles! steel my soldiers' hearts!
     —————————— Not to-day, O Lord,
     O not to-day, think not upon the fault
     My father made in compassing the crown!
     I Richard's body have interred anew;
     And on it have bestow'd more contrite tears,
     Than from it issued forced drops of blood.
     Five hundred poor I have in yearly pay,
     Who twice a day their _wither'd_ hands hold up
     Toward heaven, to pardon blood; and I have built
     Two chantries, where the sad and solemn priests
     Sing still for Richard's soul."[427:B]

Of the _picturesque force_ of an epithet, there is not in the records
of poetry a more remarkable instance than what is here produced by
the adoption of the term _withered_, through which the scene starts
into existence with a boldness of relief that vies with the noblest
creations of the pencil.

The address to Westmoreland, on his wishing for more men from England,
is a fine specimen of military eloquence, possessing that high tone of
enthusiasm and exhilaration, so well calculated to inflame the daring
spirit of the soldier. It is in perfect keeping with the historical
character of Henry, nor can we agree with Dr. Johnson in thinking that
its reduction "to about half the number of lines," would have added,
either to its force or weight of sentiment[428:A]; so far, indeed, are
we from coalescing with this decision, that we feel convinced not a
clause could be withdrawn without material injury to the animation and
effect of the whole.

Instances of the same impressive and energising powers of elocution,
will be found in the King's exhortation to his soldiers before
the gates of Harfleur[428:B]; in his description of the horrors
attendant on a city taken by storm[428:C]; and in his replies to the
Herald Montjoy[428:D]; all of which spring naturally from, and are
respectively adapted to the circumstances of the scene.

Nor, amid all the dangers and unparalleled achievements of the Fifth
Henry, do we altogether lose sight of the frank and easy gaiety which
distinguished the Prince of Wales. His winning condescension in
sympathising with the cares and pleasures of his soldiers, display the
same kindness and affability of temper, the same love of raillery and
humour, reminiscences, as it were, of his youthful days, and which, in
his intercourse with Williams and Fluellin, produce the most pleasing
and grateful relief.

These touches of a frolic pencil are managed with such art and
address, that they derogate nothing from the dignity of the monarch and
the conqueror; what may be termed the truly comic portion of the play,
being carried on apart from any immediate connection with the person of
the sovereign.

As the events of warfare and the victories of Henry form the sole
subjects of the serious parts of this piece, it was necessary for
the sake of variety and dramatic effect, and in order to satisfy the
audience of this age, that comic characters and incidents should be
interspersed; and, though we are disappointed in not seeing Falstaff,
according to the poet's promise, again on the scene, we once more
behold his associates, Bardolph, Pistol, and Hostess Quickly, pursuing
their pleasant career with unfailing eccentricity and humour. The
description of the death of Falstaff by the last of this fantastic
trio, is executed with peculiar felicity, for while it excites a smile
verging on risibility, it calls forth, at the same time, a sigh of pity
and regret.

Of the general conduct of this play, it may be remarked, that the
interest turns altogether upon the circumstances which accompany a
single battle; consequently the poet has put forth all his strength
in colouring and contrasting the situation of the two armies; and
so admirably has he succeeded in this attempt, by opposing the full
assurance of victory, on the part of the French, their boastful
clamour, and impatient levity, to the conscious danger, calm valour,
and self-devotedness of the English, that we wait the issue of the
combat with an almost breathless anxiety.

And, in order that the heroism of Henry might not want any decoration
which poetry could afford, the epic and lyric departments have been
laid under contribution, for the purpose of supplying what the very
confined limits of the stage, then in the infancy of its mechanism, had
no means of unfolding. A preliminary chorus, therefore, is attached
to each act, impressing vividly on the imagination what could not be
addressed to the senses, and adding to a subject, in itself more epic
than dramatic, all the requisite grandeur and sublimity of description.

19. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING: 1599. The allusion, in the opening
scene of this comedy, to a circumstance attending the campaign of the
Earl of Essex in Ireland, during the summer of 1599, which was first
noticed by Mr. Chalmers, and which seems corroborated by the testimony
of Camden and Moryson[430:A], has induced us to adopt the chronology
dependent on this apparent reference, the only note of time, indeed,
which has hitherto been discovered in the play.

This very popular production which appears to have originally had
the title of _Benedick and Beatrice_[430:B], and is, in its leading
incidents, to be traced to one of the tales of Bandello[430:C],
possesses, both with respect to its fable and characters, a vivacity,
richness, and variety, together with a happiness of combination, which
delight as much as they astonish.

The two plots are managed with uncommon skill; the first, involving the
temporary disgrace and the recognition of Hero, includes a vast range
of emotions, and abounds both in pathos and humour. The accusation of
the innocent Hero by the man whom she loved, and at the very moment
too, when she was about to be united to him for life, excites a most
powerful impression; but is surpassed by the scene which restores her
to happiness, where Claudio, supposing himself about to be united,
in obedience to the will of Leonato, to a relation of his former
beloved, and, as he concludes, deceased mistress, on unveiling the
bride, beholds the features of her whom he had injured, and whom he had
lamented as no more.

It is no small proof of the ingenuity of our poet, that through the
means by which the iniquity practised against Hero is developed, we
are furnished with a fund of the most ludicrous entertainment; the
charge of Dogberry to the Watch, and the arrest and examination of
Conrade and Borachio, throwing all the muscles of risibility into

Nor is the second plot in any respect inferior to the first; indeed,
there is reason to believe, that, to the masterly delineations of
Benedick and Beatrice, "the most sprightly characters that Shakspeare
ever drew," and to their mutual entrapment in the meshes of love, a
great part of the popularity which has ever accompanied this comedy,
is in justice to be ascribed. Fault, however, has been found with the
mode by which the reciprocal affection of these sworn foes to love
has been secured: "the second contrivance," observes Mr. Steevens,
"is less ingenious than the first:—or, to speak more plainly, the
same incident is become stale by repetition. I wish some other method
had been found to entrap Beatrice, than that very one which before
had been successfully practised on Benedick[431:A];" an objection
which has been censured with some severity by Schlegel, who justly
remarks, that the drollery of this twice-used artifice "lies in the
very symmetry of the deception."[431:B] It may be added, that the
conversation of the gentleman and the wit, in Shakspeare's days, may
be pretty well ascertained from the part of Benedick in this play, and
from that of Mercutio in _Romeo and Juliet_; both presenting us, after
some allowance for a licence of allusion too broad for the decorum of
the present day, with a favourable picture of the accomplishments of
polished society in the reign of Elizabeth.

20. AS YOU LIKE IT: 1600. Though this play, with the exception of the
disguise and self-discovery of Rosalind, may be said to be destitute
of plot, it is yet one of the most delightful of the dramas of
Shakspeare. There is something inexpressibly wild and interesting both
in the characters and in the scenery; the former disclosing the moral
discipline and the sweets of adversity, the purest emotions of love
and friendship, of gratitude and fidelity, the melancholy of genius,
and the exhilaration of innocent mirth, as opposed to the desolating
effects of malice, envy, and ambition; and the latter unfolding,
with the richest glow of fancy, landscapes to which, as objects of
imitation, the united talents of Ruysdale, Claude, and Salvator Rosa,
could alone do justice.

From the forest of Arden, from that wild wood of oaks,

    ——————— "whose boughs were moss'd with age,
    And high tops bald with dry antiquity,"

from the bosom of sequestered glens and pathless solitudes, has the
poet called forth lessons of the most touching and consolitory wisdom.
Airs from paradise seem to fan with refreshing gales, with a soothing
consonance of sound, the interminable depth of foliage, and to breathe
into the hearts of those who have sought its shelter from the world,
an oblivion of their sorrows and their cares. The banished Duke, the
much-injured Orlando, and the melancholy Jaques, lose in meditation on
the scenes which surround them, or in sportive freedom, or in grateful
occupation, all corrosive sense of past affliction. Love seems the only
passion which has penetrated this romantic seclusion, and the sigh of
philosophic pity, or of wounded sensibility, (the legacy of a deserted
world,) the only relique of the storm which is passed and gone.

Nothing, in fact, can blend more harmoniously with the romantic
glades, and magic windings of Arden, than the society which Shakspeare
has placed beneath its shades. The effect of such scenery, on the
lover of nature, is to take full possession of the soul, to absorb
its very faculties, and, through the charmed imagination, to convert
the workings of the mind into the sweetest sensations of the heart,
into the joy of grief, into a thankful endurance of adversity, into
the interchange of the tenderest affections; and find we not here,
in the person of the Duke, the noblest philosophy of resignation; in
Jaques, the humorous sadness of an amiable misanthropy; in Orlando,
the mild dejection of self-accusing humility; in Rosalind and Celia,
the purity of sisterly affection, whilst love in all its innocence
and gaiety binds in delicious fetters, not only the younger exiles,
but the pastoral natives of the forest. A day thus spent, in all the
careless freedom of unsophisticated nature, seems worth an eternity of
common-place existence!

The nice discrimination of Shakspeare and his profound knowlege
of human nature are no where more apparent than in sketching the
character of Jaques, whose social and confiding affections, originally
warm and enthusiastic, and which had led him into all the excesses
and credulities of thoughtless attachment, being blighted by the
desertion of those on whom he had fondly relied, have suddenly subsided
into a delicately blended compound of melancholy, misanthropy, and
morbid sensibility, mingled with a large portion of benevolent
though sarcastic humour. The selfishness and ingratitude of mankind
are, consequently, the theme of all his meditations, and even tinge
his recreations with the same pensive hue of moral invective. We
accordingly first recognise him in a situation admirably adapted to the
nurture of his peculiar feelings, laid at length

    "Under an oak, whose antique root peeps out
     Upon the brook that brawls along the wood,"

and assimilating the fate of an unfortunate stag, who had been wounded
by the hunters, and who

    "Stood on the extremest verge of the swift brook,
     Augmenting it with tears,"

to the too common lot of humanity:—

      "_Duke._ But what said Jaques?
    Did he not moralize this spectacle?

      _Lord._ O yes, into a thousand similes.
    First, for his weeping in the needless stream;
    _Poor deer_, quoth he, _thou mak'st a testament
    As worldings do, giving the sum of more
    To that which had too much._ Then, being there alone,
    Left and abandoned of his velvet friends;
    _'Tis right_, quoth he; _thus misery doth part
    The flux of company._ Anon, a careless herd,
    Full of the pasture, jumps along by him,
    And never stays to greet him. _Ay_, quoth Jaques,
    _Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens;
    'Tis just the fashion: wherefore do you look
    Upon that poor and broken bankrupt there?_"[434:A]

As might be imagined, music, the food of melancholy as well as of love,
is the chief consolation of Jaques; he tells Amiens, who, on finishing
a song, had objected to his request of singing again, that it would
make him melancholy. "I thank it. More, I pr'ythee more. I can suck
melancholy out of a song, as a weasel sucks eggs: More, I pr'ythee,
more[434:B];" and we can well conceive with what exquisite pleasure he
listened to the subsequent song of the same nobleman:

    "Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
       Thou art not so unkind
     As man's ingratitude;
       Thy tooth is not so keen,
     Because thou art not seen,
       Although thy breath be rude.—
     Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
     Thou dost not bite so nigh
       As benefits forgot;
     Though thou the waters warp,
     Thy sting is not so sharp
       As friend remember'd not."[434:C]

From this interesting and finely shaded character, the result of a
false estimate of what is to be expected from human nature and society,
much valuable instruction may be derived; but as a similar delineation
will soon occur in the person of Timon, we shall defer what may be
required upon this subject to a subsequent page.

21. MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR: 1601. It does not appear to us that Mr.
Chalmers has succeeded in his endeavours to set aside the general
tradition relative to this comedy, as recorded by Mr. Rowe, who says,
that Queen Elizabeth "was so well pleased with the admirable character
of Falstaff in _The Two Parts of Henry the Fourth_, that she commanded
Shakspeare to continue it for one play more, and to show him in
love."[435:A] Rowe adopted this from Dennis, who mentions it as the
tradition of his time; and has also related, that being "eager to see
it acted," she ordered it "to be finished in _fourteen days_[435:B],"
and was highly gratified by the representation.

A tradition of the seventeenth century thus general in its diffusion,
and particular in its circumstances, cannot, and ought not, to be
shaken by the mere observations that "she (the Queen) was certainly
too feeble in 1601 to think of such toys," and that at this time "she
was in no proper mood for such fooleries[435:C];" more especially when
we recollect, that at this very period, she was guilty of fooleries
greatly more extravagant and out of character, than that of commanding
a play to be written. At a "mask at Blackfriars, on the marriage of
Lord Herbert and Mrs. Russel," relates Lord Orford, on the authority
of the Bacon Papers, "eight lady maskers chose eight more to dance the
measures. Mrs. Fritton, who led them, went to the Queen, and wooed
her to dance. Her Majesty asked, what she was? 'AFFECTION,' she said.
'AFFECTION!' said the Queen;—'_AFFECTION is false._'—Yet her majesty
rose and _danced_.—She was then SIXTY-EIGHT![435:D]" If, at the age of
SIXTY-EIGHT, she was not _too feeble to dance_, nor _too wise to fancy
herself in love_, we may easily conceive, that she had both _strength_
and _inclination_ to attend and to enjoy a play!

Another objection of the same critic to the probability of this
tradition, turns upon the extraordinary assumption, that it was not
within the omnipotence of Elizabeth "to bring Falstaff to _real
life_, after being _positively as dead as nail in door_[436:A];" as
if Falstaff had ever possessed a _real_ existence, and the Queen had
been expected to have occasioned his _bodily_ resurrection from the
dead. In accordance with this supposed impossibility, impossible only
in this strange point of view, we are further told, that "whatever a
capricious Queen might have wished to have seen, the audience would
not have borne to see the _dead_ knight on the _living_ stage;" thus
again confounding the _dramatic_ death of an _imaginary_ being, with
the physical dissolution incident to material nature! Surely Shakspeare
had an unlimited control over the creatures of his own imagination, and
had he reproduced the fat knight in half-a-dozen plays, after the death
which he had already assigned him in _Henry the Fifth_, who, provided
he had supported the merit and consistency of the character, would
have charged him with a violation of probability? When Addison killed
Sir Roger de Coverley, in order, as tradition says, to prevent any one
interfering with the unity of his sketch, he could only be certain
of the non-resumption of his imaginary existence in the very work
which had detailed his decease; for if Addison himself, or any of his
contemporaries, had reproduced Sir Roger, in a subsequent periodical
paper, with the same degree of skill which had accompanied the first
delineation, would it have been objected as a sufficient condemnation
of such a performance, that the knight had been previously dispatched?

We see no reason, therefore, for distrusting the generally received
tradition, and have, accordingly, placed the _Merry Wives of Windsor_,
with Mr. Malone, after the three plays devoted to _Henry the Fourth_,
and _Fifth_.

In this very entertaining drama, which unfolds a vast display of
incident, and a remarkable number of well-supported characters, we are
presented with an almost unrivalled instance of pure domestic comedy,
and which furnishes a rich draught of English minds and manners, in
the middle ranks of society, during one of the most interesting periods
of our annals.

Shakspeare has here achieved, perhaps, the most difficult task which
can fall to the lot of any writer; that of resuscitating a favourite
and highly-wrought child of the imagination, and, with a success equal
to that which attended the original production, re-involving him in
a series of fresh adventures. Falstaff has not lost, in this comedy,
any portion of his former power of pleasing; he returns to us in the
fulness of his strength, and we immediately enter, with unabated
avidity and relish, into a further developement of his inexhaustible
stores of humour, wit, and drollery.

The self-delusion of Sir John, who conceives himself to be an object
of love, and the incongruities, absurdities, and intrigues, into which
this monstrous piece of vanity plunges him, form, together with the
secondary plot of Fenton and Anne Page, the richest tissue of incident
and stratagem that ever graced a stage. The mode, also, in which the
two intrigues are interwoven, the happy termination of the second,
arising out of the contrivance which brings about the issue of the
first, has a just claim to praise both for its invention and execution.

To the comic characters which had formerly been associated with the
exploits of the Knight, and which, as accessories or retainers,
accompany him in this play, some very laughable and grotesque additions
are to be found in the persons of _Slender_, _Sir Hugh Evans_, and _Dr.
Caius_, who are deeply implicated in the fable, and who, by the most
ludicrous exhibitions of rustic simplicity, provincial accent, and
broken English, contribute in a high degree to the variety and hilarity
of the scene.

22. TROILUS AND CRESSIDA: 1601. That this play was written and acted before
the decease of Queen Elizabeth, is evident from the manner in which
it is entered on the Stationers' Books, being registered on February
7. 1602-3, "_as acted by my Lord Chamberlen's men_[437:A]," who, in
the year of the accession of King James, obtained a licence for their
theatre, and were denominated "_his majesty's servants_."

It also appears, from some entries in Mr. Henslowe's Manuscript, that
a drama on this subject, at first called _Troyelles and Cresseda_,
but, before its production, altered in its title to "_The Tragedy of
Agamemnon_," was in existence anterior to Shakspeare's play, and was
licensed by the Master of the Revels, on the 3rd of June, 1599.[438:A]

From these premises we have a right to infer that our poet's _Troilus
and Cressida_ was written between June, 1599, and February, 1603, and,
accordingly, our two chronologers have thus placed it; Mr. Malone in
1602, and Mr. Chalmers in 1600. But it appears to us, for reasons which
we shall immediately assign, that its more probable era is that of 1601.

It has been correctly observed by the Commentators, that an incident
in our author's _Troilus and Cressida_, is ridiculed in an anonymous
comedy, entitled _Histriomastix_, "which, though not printed till 1610,
must have been written before the death of Queen Elizabeth, who, in the
last act of the piece, is shadowed, under the character of Astræa, and
is spoken of as then living."[438:B]

We cannot avoid thinking it somewhat extraordinary that when Mr. Malone
recorded this circumstance, it did not occur to him, that, by placing
the composition of Shakspeare's play in 1602, he allowed scarcely
any time to the author of _Histriomastix_ for the composition of his
work. In order that a parody or burlesque may be successful, it is
necessary that the production ridiculed, should have acquired a certain
degree of celebrity, and however well received by the court, before
which it was at first chiefly performed, this drama of our author may
have been, some time must have elapsed ere it could have acquired a
sufficient degree of notoriety for the purpose of successful satire.
But if Shakspeare wrote his _Troilus and Cressida_ in 1602, and had
even completed it by the middle of the year, scarcely nine months
could intervene between this completion and the death of the Queen
in March, 1603; and during this short interval, the play of our poet
must have been acted, and celebrated so repeatedly and so highly,
as to have excited the pen of envy and burlesque, and the comedy of
_Histriomastix_ must have been written and performed; a space certainly
much too inadequate for these effects and results, more particularly if
we are allowed to conclude, what most probably was the case, that the
anonymous comedy was finished some months anterior to the decease of

On the other hand, it would seem that Mr. Chalmers, by approximating
the date of Shakspeare's play too closely to that of the elder drama,
may be taxed with a similar error. That our poet was in the habit of
adopting subjects which had been previously rendered popular on the
stage, has been acknowledged by all his commentators, and that his
attention was first attracted to the fable under consideration, by the
play exhibited on Mr. Henslowe's theatre, there can be little doubt.
But this production, we find, was not licensed by the Master of the
Revels until June, 1599, and as popularity attached to the performance
would be necessary to stimulate Shakspeare to remodel the subject, we
can scarcely conceive him, both on this account, and from a motive of
delicacy to a rival theatre, to have commenced the composition of his
_Troilus and Cressida_ before the beginning of 1601.

It was at this period then, that our bard, excited by the success of
the prior attempt in 1599, turned his attention to the subject; and,
referring to his Chaucer, to Caxton's Translation of the _Recuyles or
Destruction of Troy_, from _Raoul le Fevre_, and to the first seven
books of Chapman's Homer, for the materials of his story, presented us
with the most singular, and, in some respects, the most striking, of
his productions.

This play is, indeed, a most perfect _unique_ both in its construction
and effect, appearing to be a continued sarcasm on the _tale of Troy
divine_, an ironical copy, as it were, of the great Homeric picture.
Whether this was in the contemplation of Shakspeare, or whether it
might not, in a great measure, flow from the nature of the Gothic
narratives to which he had recourse, may admit of some doubt. As
Homer, however, was in part before him, in the excellent version of
Chapman, it appears to us, that it certainly was his design to expose
the follies and absurdities of the Trojan war; the despicable nature
of its origin, and the furious discords which protracted its issue. In
doing this he has stripped the Homeric characters of all their epic
pomp; he has laid them naked to the very heart, but he has, at the
same time, individualised them, with a pencil so keen, powerful, and
discriminating, that we become more intimately acquainted with them,
as mere men, from the perusal of this play, than from all the splendid
descriptions of the Greek poet.

This unparalleled strength and distinctness of characterisation, as
unfolded in the play before us, has been admirably painted by Mr.
Godwin. "The whole catalogue," he observes, "of the _Dramatis Personæ_
in the play of _Troilus and Cressida_, so far as they depend upon
a rich and original vein of humour in the author, are drawn with a
felicity which never was surpassed. The genius of Homer has been a
topic of admiration to almost every generation of men since the period
in which he wrote. But his characters will not bear the slightest
comparison with the delineation of the same characters as they stand
in Shakspeare. This is a species of honour which ought by no means to
be forgotten when we are making the eulogium of our immortal bard, a
sort of illustration of his greatness which cannot fail to place it
in a very conspicuous light. The dispositions of men perhaps had not
been sufficiently unfolded in the very early period of intellectual
refinement when Homer wrote; the rays of humour had not been dissected
by the glass, or rendered perdurable by the pencil, of the poet.
Homer's characters are drawn with a laudable portion of variety, and
consistency; but his Achilles, his Ajax, and his Nestor are, each of
them, rather a species than an individual, and can boast more of the
propriety of abstraction, than of the vivacity of a moving scene of
absolute life. The Achilles, the Ajax, and the various Grecian heroes
of Shakspeare, on the other hand, are absolute men, deficient in
nothing which can tend to individualise them, and already touched with
the Promethean fire that might infuse a soul into what, without it,
were lifeless form. From the rest perhaps the character of Thersites
deserves to be selected, (how cold and school-boy a sketch in Homer,)
as exhibiting an appropriate vein of sarcastic humour amidst his
cowardice, and a profoundness and truth in his mode of laying open the
foibles of those about him, impossible to be excelled.

"Shakspeare possessed, no man in higher perfection, the true dignity
and loftiness of the poetical afflatus, which he has displayed in
many of the finest passages of his works with miraculous success.
But he knew that no man ever was, or ever can be, always dignified.
He knew that those subtler traits of character which identify a man,
are familiar and relaxed, pervaded with passion, and not played off
with an external eye to decorum. In this respect the peculiarities of
Shakspeare's genius are no where more forcibly illustrated than in the
play we are here considering. The champions of Greece and Troy, from
the hour in which their names were first recorded, had always worn
a certain formality of attire, and marched with a slow and measured
step. No poet, till this time, had ever ventured to force them out
of the manner which their epic creator had given them. Shakspeare
first supplied their limbs, took from them the classic stiffness of
their gait, and enriched them with an entire set of those attributes,
which might render them completely beings of the same species with

The great defect of this play, which, in other respects, is highly
entertaining and instructive, and abounding in didactic morality,
expressed with the utmost beauty, vigour, and boldness of diction, is
a want of attachment for its characters. If we set aside Hector, who
seems to have been the favourite hero with Shakspeare, and his Gothic
authorities, there is not a person in the drama, for whom we feel any
sympathy or interest; the Grecian chiefs, though varied and coloured
in the highest style of relief, are any thing but amiable, and of the
persons involved in the love-intrigue, two are proverbially infamous,
whilst the forsaken Troilus appears in too tame and inefficient a light
to call forth any share of admiration or regret.

23. KING HENRY THE EIGHTH: 1602. Few of the plays of Shakspeare have
occasioned more difference of opinion, with regard to the era of their
production, than this historical drama. Mr. Malone contends that
it was written in 1601 or 1602, and that, after having lain by for
some years unacted, on account of the costliness of its exhibition,
it was revived in 1613, under the title of _All is True_, with new
decorations, and a new prologue and epilogue; and that this revival
took place on the very day, being St. Peter's, on which the Globe
Theatre was burnt down, occasioned, it is said, by the discharge of
some small pieces, called chambers, on King Henry's arrival at Cardinal
Wolsey's gate at Whitehall, one of which, being injudiciously managed,
set fire to the thatched roof of the theatre. He also joins with Dr.
Johnson and Dr. Farmer in conceiving, that the prologue, and even
some part of the dialogue, were, on this occasion, written by Ben
Jonson, to whom he also ascribes the conduct and superintendence of the

Mr. Chalmers, on the contrary, believes that this piece was neither
represented nor written before 1613, and that its first appearance
on the stage was the night of the conflagration above-mentioned.
He reprobates the folly of supposing "that Ben Jonson, _who was in
perpetual hostility with Shakspeare_, made _adycyons_ to _Henry VIII._,
or even wrote the prologue for our poet."[442:B]

And, lastly, Mr. Gifford declares it to be his conviction that the
tragedy of our poet was produced in 1601; but that, on the supposed
revival of it in 1613, neither the prologue was written by Jonson, nor
the play by Shakspeare, the piece then performed being a _new play_,
called _All is Truth_, constructed, indeed, on the history of Henry the
Eighth, and, like that, full of shows, but not the composition of our
author. He has here likewise, as every where else, very successfully
combated the prejudice and credulity of the commentators, in their
perpetual assumption of the enmity of Jonson to Shakspeare.[443:A]

For the arguments by which these conflicting opinions are maintained,
we must refer to the respective writings of the combatants, our
limits only permitting us to state and briefly to support one or two
circumstances which, in our view of them, seem irresistibly to prove,
that, in the first place, the play performed on the 29th of June, 1613,
was _Shakspeare's tragedy of Henry the Eighth_; and, secondly, that it
was _his tragedy revived_, with a new name, and with a _new prologue,
both emanating from himself_.

Now, if the prologue which has always accompanied our author's drama
from its first publication in 1623, _manifestly_ and _repeatedly
allude_ to the _title_ of the play which was represented on the 29th of
June, 1613, and which we know to have been founded on the history of
King Henry the Eighth, can there be a stronger proof of their identity,
or a more satisfactory reply to the query of Mr. Gifford, who asks,
who would have recognised _Henry the Eighth_ under the name of _All is
Truth_? (or rather, as he should have said, _All is True_?) than what
these intimations afford? That they have, indeed, been noticed both
by Mr. Tyrwhitt and Mr. Malone, as alluding to the title in question,
is true; but they appear to us so important and decisive, as to merit
being brought forward more distinctly, especially as they have escaped
Mr. Gifford's attention. We shall therefore transcribe them, being
convinced that not accident but design dictated their insertion:—

    —————————— "Such, as give
    Their money out of hope they may believe,
    May here find _truth_ too."

    ——————————— "Gentle readers, know,
    To rank _our chosen truth_ with such a show
    As fool and fight is," &c.—

    "To make that only _true_ we now intend."

That the play represented at the Globe in 1613, was merely a _revived_
play, wants no other proof than the following:—In a MS. letter of Tho.
Lorkin to Sir Tho. Puckering, dated _London, this last of June, 1613_,
Lorkin tells his friend, that "No longer since than YESTERDAY,
while Bourbage his companie were acting at the Globe _THE
play of Hen. VIII._ and there shooting of certayne chambers in way of
triumph, the fire catched," &c.[444:A]

We would now enquire if it were possible that any rational person
writing from London to his friend in the country, concerning a _new_
play which had been performed, for the first time, but the day before
the date of his letter, could make use of language such as this? Must
he not necessarily have said, _A play, or A new play, called Hen.
VIII._? And does not the phraseology which he has adopted, namely,
"_THE play of Hen. VIII._," evidently imply that the piece had been
long known?

So decidedly, in our opinion, do these two circumstances prove, that
it was _Shakspeare's Henry the Eighth REVIVED_, which was performed
at the Globe Theatre on St. Peter's day, 1613, that we no longer
hesitate a moment in admitting, with the principal commentators, that
this tragedy was originally written but a short time anterior to the
death of Elizabeth, to whom some elegant and appropriate praise is
offered; and that the compliment to James the First, rather forcibly
introduced into the closing scene, was composed by our poet expressly
for the revival of 1613; admissions which not only seem warranted by
the internal evidence of the play, but almost necessarily flow from the
establishment of the two inferences for which we have contended.

There is much reason to conclude that, in the long interval between
the death of Queen Elizabeth, and the year 1613, our author's _Henry
the Eighth_ had never been performed; and it is further probable that,
on this account, and in consequence of its receiving a _new_ name, a
_new_ prologue and epilogue, and _new_ decorations of unprecedented
splendour, the players might, as Mr. Malone has suggested, have called
it in the bills of that time a _new_ play[445:A]; an epithet which we
find Sir Henry Wotton has adopted, when describing the accident at the
Globe Theatre, and which, if writing in haste, or with less attention
to the history of the stage than occurs in the letter of Mr. Lorkin, he
might, from similar causes, naturally be expected to repeat.[445:B]

In adjusting the chronology of this play Mr. Malone has remarked, that
Shakspeare, having produced so many plays in the preceding years, "it
is not likely that _King Henry the Eighth_ was written _before_ 1601.
It might, perhaps, with _equal propriety_, be ascribed to 1602."[445:C]
We have fixed upon the latter date, for this obvious reason, that our
enquiries, having led us to supply the preceding year with two plays,
it has been thought more consonant to probability to assign it to the
less occupied period of 1602. It appears to us, therefore, to have been
composed about a twelvemonth previous to the death of the Queen, an
event which occurred in March, 1603.

It need scarcely be added, that, from Mr. Gifford's complete refutation
of the slander which has been so long indulged in against the character
of Ben Jonson, we utterly disbelieve that this calumniated poet had any
concern in the revival of _Henry the Eighth_.

The entire interest of this tragedy turns upon the characters of _Queen
Katharine_ and _Cardinal Wolsey_; the former being the finest picture
of suffering and defenceless virtue, and the latter of disappointed
ambition, that poet ever drew. The close of the second scene of the
third act, which describes the fall of Wolsey, and the whole of the
second scene of the fourth, which paints the dying sorrows and devout
resignation of the persecuted Queen, have, as lessons of moral worth,
a never-dying value; and of the latter, especially, it may without
extravagance be said, that, in its power of exciting sympathy and
compassion, it stands perfectly unrivalled by any dramatic effort of
ancient or of modern time.

24. TIMON OF ATHENS: 1602. The existence of a manuscript play on this
subject, to which our author has been evidently indebted, ought, in the
absence of all other direct testimony, to be considered as our guiding
star. Here, says Mr. Malone, our poet "found the faithful steward,
the banquet scene, and the story of Timon's being possessed of great
sums of gold which he had dug up in the woods: a circumstance which he
could not have had from Lucian, there being then no translation of the
dialogue that relates to this subject[446:A];" and, in another place
he remarks, that this manuscript comedy "appears to have been written
after Ben Jonson's _Every Man out of his Humour_, (1599,) to which it
contains a reference; but I have not discovered the precise time when
it was composed. If it were ascertained, it might be some guide to us
in fixing the date of our author's _Timon of Athens_, which I suppose
to have been posterior to this anonymous play."[446:B]

Now Mr. Steevens, who accurately inspected the manuscript play, tells
us that it appears to have been written about the year 1600[446:C],
whilst Mr. Chalmers has brought forward several intimations which, he
thinks, prove, that Shakspeare's drama was written during the reign of

These statements, it is obvious, bring the subject into a small
compass; for as the anonymous comedy must have been composed after
1599, referring, as it does, to a drama of that date, and as some
incidents in Shakspeare's Timon are evidently founded upon it, whilst
the death of Elizabeth took place in March, 1603, the play of our poet
must necessarily, if Mr. Chalmers's intimations be relied upon, have
been completed in the interim.

Indeed the only argument on the other side for fixing the date of
this play in 1609, is built upon the supposition that Shakspeare
commenced the study of Plutarch in 1605, and that having once availed
himself of this historian for one of his plays, he was induced to
proceed, until _Julius Cæsar_, _Anthony and Cleopatra_, _Timon_, and
_Coriolanus_, had been written in succession.[447:A] But, as it has
been clearly ascertained by Mr. Chalmers, that Shakspeare was perfectly
well acquainted with Plutarch when he wrote his Hamlet[447:B], this
supposition can no longer be tenable.

We have fixed on the year 1602 rather than 1601, for the era of the
composition of our author's play, as it is equally susceptible of
the illustration adduced by Mr. Chalmers, allows more scope for the
production of the elder drama, and, at the same time, more opportunity
to our poet to have become familiar with a comedy which, there is
reason to think, from its pedantic style, was never popular, and
certainly never was printed.

_Timon of Athens_ is an admirable satire on the folly and ingratitude
of mankind; the former exemplified in the thoughtless profusion
of Timon, the latter in the conduct of his pretended friends; it
is, as Dr. Johnson observes, "a very powerful warning against that
ostentatious liberality, which scatters bounty, but confers no
benefits, and buys flattery, but not friendship."[447:C]

But the mighty reach of Shakspeare's mind is in this play more
particularly distinguishable in his delineation of the species and
causes of misanthropy, and in the management of the delicate shades
which diversify its effects on the heart of man. Timon and Apemantus
are both misanthropes; but from very different causes, and with very
different consequences, and yet they mutually illustrate each other.

The misanthropy of Timon arises from the perversion of what would
otherwise have been the foundation of his happiness. He possesses
great goodness and benevolence of heart, an ardent love of mankind, a
spirit noble, enthusiastic, and confiding, but these are unfortunately
directed into wrong channels by the influence of vanity, and the thirst
of distinction. Rich in the amplest means of dispensing bounty, he
receives, in return, such abundant praise, especially from the least
deserving and the most designing, that he becomes intoxicated with
adulation, craving it, at length, with the avidity of an appetite, and
preferring the applause of the world to the silent approval of his own

The immediate consequence of this delusion is, that he seeks to
bestow only where celebrity is to follow; he does not fly to succour
poverty, misfortune, and disease, in their sequestered haunts, but
he showers his gifts on poets, painters, warriors, and statesmen, on
men of talents or of rank, whose flattery, either from genius or from
station, will find an echo in the world. The next result of beneficence
thus abused, is that Timon possesses numerous _nominal_ but no _real_
friends, and, when the hour of trial comes, he is, to a man, deserted
in his utmost need. It is then, that having no estimate of friendship
but what reposed on the characters who have left him bare to the storm,
and concluding that the rest of mankind, compared with those whom he
had selected, are rather worse than better, he gives loose to all the
invective which deceived affection and wounded vanity can suggest;
feeling, as it were, an abhorrence of, and an aversion to, his species,
in proportion to the keenness of his original sensibility, and the
agony of his present disappointment.

The inherent goodness of Timon on the one hand, and his avarice of
praise and flattery on the other, are vividly brought out through the
medium of his servants, and of the Cynic Apemantus. The true criterion,
indeed, of the worth of any individual, is best found in the estimation
of his household, and we entertain a high sense of the value of
Timon's character, from the attachment and fidelity of his dependants.
They, in their humble intercourse with their master, have intimately
felt the native benevolence of his disposition, and, to the disgrace of
those who have revelled in his bounty, are the only sympathizers in his
fate. They call to mind his generous virtues:—

    "Poor honest lord, brought low by his own heart;
     Undone by goodness!"

is the exclamation of his faithful steward; nor are the inferior
domestics less sensible of his worth:—

      "_1 Serv._ So noble a master fallen!—and not
    One friend, to take his fortune by the arm!—

      _3 Serv._ Yet do our hearts wear Timon's livery,
    That see I by our faces."[449:A]

When Flavius visits his master in his seclusion, and with the most
disinterested views and the most heart-felt commiseration, offers
him his wealth and his attendance, Timon starts back with amazement
bordering on distraction, afflicted and aghast at the recognition,
when too late, of genuine friendship, and self-convicted of injustice
towards his fellow-creatures:—

    "Had I a steward so true, so just, and now
     So comfortable? It almost turns
     My dangerous nature wild.[449:B] Let me behold
     Thy face.—Surely, this man was born of woman.—
     Forgive my general and exceptless rashness,
     Perpetual-sober gods! I do proclaim
     One honest man,—mistake me not,—but one;
     No more, I pray,—and he is a steward.—
     How fain would I have hated all mankind,
     And thou redeem'st thyself!"[449:C]

If the constitutional goodness of Timon is to be inferred from the
conduct of his domestics, the errors which overshadowed it are most
distinctly laid open by the unsparing invective of Apemantus. The
misanthropy of this character is not based, like Timon's, on the wreck
of the noblest feelings of our nature, on the milk of human kindness
turned to gall, but springs from the vilest of our passions, from
envy, hatred, and malice. He is born a beggar, and his pride is to
continue such, while his sole occupation, his pleasure and his choice,
is to drag forth the vices, and calumniate the virtues of humanity.
For this task he possesses, in the powers of his intellect, the utmost
efficiency, and seems, indeed, to have been introduced by the poet
for the express purpose of unfolding the conduct of Timon. The two
characters, in fact, reciprocally anatomise each other, and with a
depth and minuteness which leaves nothing undetected.

The lust of flattery and distinction which burns in the bosom of Timon,
finds, even in the height of his prosperity, a sharp, and therefore a
wholesome reprover in Apemantus, who tells the Athenian to his face,
that "he that loves to be flattered, is worthy of the flatterer," at
the same time exposing his limitless and ill-bestowed bounty in the
strongest terms; but no good man would choose the hour of adversity
and overwhelming distress for a still bitterer torrent of taunts and
reproaches, at a period when nothing but additional misery could accrue
from the experiment. Such, however, is the object of Apemantus, in
his visit to the cave of Timon, and accordingly he experiences the
reception which his motives so richly deserve:—

      "_Tim._ Why dost thou seek me out?

      _Apem._                            To vex thee.

      _Tim._ Always a villain's office, or a fool's.
    Dost please thyself in't!

      _Apem_.                 Ay.

      _Tim._                      What! a knave too?"

immediately after which, the unhappy Timon proceeds, with admirable
discrimination, to contrast himself and his persecutor; a description
which, for strength and severity, as well as truth of censure, has
never been exceeded:—

      "_Tim._ Thou art a slave, whom Fortune's tender arm
    With favour never clasp'd; but bred a dog.
    Had'st thou like us, from our first swath, proceeded
    The sweet degrees that this brief world affords
    To such as may the passive drugs of it
    Freely command, thou would'st have plung'd thyself
    In general riot; melted down thy youth
    In different beds of lust; and never learn'd
    The icy precepts of respect, but follow'd
    The sugar'd game before thee. But myself,
    Who had the world as my confectionary;
    The mouths, the tongues, the eyes, and hearts of men
    At duty, more than I could frame employment;
    That numberless upon me stuck, as leaves
    Do on the oak, have with one winter's brush
    Fell from their boughs, and left me open, bare
    For every storm that blows;—I, to bear this,
    That never knew but better, is some burden:
    Thy nature did commence in sufferance, time
    Hath made thee hard in't. Why should'st thou hate men?
    They never flatter'd thee: What hast thou given?
    If thou wilt curse,—thy father, that poor rag,
    Must be thy subject; who, in spite, put stuff
    To some she-beggar, and compounded thee,
    Poor rogue hereditary. Hence! be gone!—
    If thou hadst not been born the worst of men,
    Thou hadst been a knave, and flatterer."[451:A]

In revenge for this correct, but tremendous picture of himself,
Apemantus, shortly afterwards, presents Timon with a miniature of his
own character, so faithfully condensed, that it comprises, in about
a dozen words, the entire history of his life; the indiscriminate
generosity of his early, and the extravagant misanthropy, of his latter

    "The middle of humanity thou never knewest, but the extremity
        of both ends."[451:B]

The widely different fate of these two characters, is, likewise,
decisive of the opposite origin and nature of their misanthropical
conduct. Timon, that

    —————————————— "monument,
    And wonder of good deeds evilly betow'd,"[452:A]

dies broken-hearted, a martyr to self-delusion, and to the ingratitude
of mankind; whilst Apemantus, wrapped up in constitutional apathy,
travels on unscathed, a general and unfeeling railer on the frailty of
his species.

25. MEASURE FOR MEASURE: 1603. Mr. Malone's reasons for placing
the composition of this play towards the close of 1603, appear
to us perfectly unshaken by the arguments which Mr. Chalmers has
brought forward for the purpose of referring it to the subsequent
year. The validity of the alteration which this gentleman wishes to
establish, turns almost altogether on the cogency of the following
statement:—"Claudio," he says, "complains of '_the neglected act being
enforced against him_.' Isabella laments her being the sister of one
Claudio, condemned, on the _act of fornication_, to lose his head.
Now, the act which was thus alluded to, though not with the precision
of an Old Bailey solicitor, 'was the statute to restrain all persons
from marriage, until their former wives, and former husbands be dead,'
for which such persons, so offending, were to _suffer death_, as in
cases of felony. It was against this act, then, which did not operate
till after the end of the session, on the 7th of July, 1604, that
Shakspeare's satire was levelled."[452:B]

But this very act, it seems from Mr. Chalmers's reference, was passed
in the second year of James the First, and how, therefore, could
Claudio's complaint of a "_neglected_ act being enforced against him,"
apply to a statute thus recently issued, and whose operation had
only just commenced? The objection is insurmountable, and Claudio's
allusion was most assuredly to the act formerly passed on this subject
in the first year of Edward the Sixth.

The primary source of the fable of _Measure for Measure_, is to be
traced to the fifth novel of the eighth decade of the Ecatommithi of
Giraldi Cinthio, which was repeated in the tragic histories of Belle
Forest; but Shakspeare's immediate original was the play of _Promos
and Cassandra_ of George Whetstone, published in 1578, and of which
the argument, as given by the author, has been annexed by Mr. Steevens
to Shakspeare's production. On this elder drama, and on Shakspeare's
improvements on its plot, the following pertinent remarks have been
lately made by Mr. Dunlop:—"The crime of the brother," he observes,
speaking of Whetstone's comedy, "is softened into seduction: Nor is
he actually executed for his transgression, as a felon's head is
presented in place of the one required by the magistrate. The king
being complained to, orders the magistrate's head to be struck off,
and the sister begs his life, even before she knows that her brother
is safe. Shakspeare has adopted the alteration in the brother's crime,
and the substitution of the felon's head. The preservation of the
brother's life by this device might have been turned to advantage, as
affording a ground for the intercession of his sister; but Isabella
pleads for the life of Angelo before she knows her brother is safe,
and when she is bound to him by no tie, as the Duke does not order him
to marry Isabella. From his own imagination Shakspeare had added the
character of Mariana, Angelo's forsaken mistress, who saves the honour
of the heroine by being substituted in her place. Isabella, indeed,
had refused, even at her brother's intercession, to give up her virtue
to preserve his life. This is an improvement on the incidents of the
novel, as it imperceptibly diminishes our sense of the atrocity of
Angelo, and adds dignity to the character of the heroine. The secret
superintendence, too, of the Duke over the whole transaction, has
a good effect, and increases our pleasure in the detection of the
villain. In the fear of Angelo, lest the brother should take revenge
'for so receiving a dishonoured life, with ransom of such shame,'
Shakspeare has given a motive to conduct which, in his prototypes, is
attributed to wanton cruelty."[454:A]

Of _Measure for Measure_, independent of the comic characters which
afford a rich fund of entertainment, the great charm springs from the
lovely example of female excellence in the person of Isabella. Piety,
spotless purity, tenderness combined with firmness, and an eloquence
the most persuasive, unite to render her singularly interesting and
attractive. To save the life of her brother, she hastens to quit
the peaceful seclusion of her convent, and moves, amid the votaries
of corruption and hypocrisy, amid the sensual, the vulgar, and the
profligate, as a being of a higher order, as a ministering spirit
from the throne of grace. Her first interview with Angelo, and the
immediately subsequent one with Claudio, exhibit, along with the most
engaging feminine diffidence and modesty, an extraordinary display of
intellectual energy, of dexterous argument, and of indignant contempt.
Her pleadings before the lord deputy are directed with a strong appeal
both to his understanding and his heart, while her sagacity and address
in the communication of the result of her appointment with him to her
brother, of whose weakness and irresolution she is justly apprehensive,
are, if possible, still more skilfully marked, and add another to
the multitude of instances which have established for Shakspeare an
unrivalled intimacy with the finest feelings of our nature.

The page of poetry, indeed, has not two nobler passages to produce,
than those which paint the suspicions of Isabella as to the fortitude
of her brother, her encouragement of his nascent resolution, and
the fears which he subsequently entertains of the consequences of

      "_Isab._ O, I do fear thee, Claudio; and I quake,
    Lest thou a feverous life should'st entertain,
    And six or seven winters more respect
    Than a perpetual honour. Dar'st thou die?
    The sense of death is most in apprehension;
    And the poor beetle, that we tread upon,
    In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great
    As when a giant dies.

      _Claud._            Why give you me this shame?
    Think you I can a resolution fetch
    From flowery tenderness? If I must die,
    I will encounter darkness as a bride,
    And hug it in mine arms.

      _Isab._ There spake my brother; there my father's grave
    Did utter forth a voice!"[455:A]

On learning the terms which would effect his liberation, his
astonishment and indignation are extreme, and he exclaims with
vehemence to his sister,—

    "Thou shalt not do't;"

but no sooner does this burst of moral anger subside, than the natural
love of existence returns, and he endeavours to impress Isabella,
under the wish of exciting her to the sacrifice demanded for his
preservation, with the horrible possibilities which may follow the
extinction of this state of being, an enumeration which makes the blood
run chill:—

      "_Claud._                  O Isabel!

      _Isab._ What says my brother?

      _Claud._                      Death is a fearful thing.

      _Isab._ And shamed life a hateful.

      _Claud._ Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
    To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot;
    This sensible warm motion to become
    A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
    To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
    In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice;
    To be imprison'd in the viewless winds,
    And blown with restless violence round about
    The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
    Of those, that lawless and incertain thoughts
    Imagine howling!—'tis too horrible!
    The weariest and most loathed worldly life,
    That age, ach, penury, and imprisonment
    Can lay on nature, is a paradise
    To what we fear of death.

      _Isab._ Alas! alas!"[456:A]

"It is difficult to decide," remarks Mr. Douce, "whether Shakspeare is
here alluding to the pains of hell or purgatory. May not the whole be a
mere poetical rhapsody, originating in the recollection of what he had
read in books of Catholic divinity? for it is very certain, that some
of these were extremely familiar to him."[456:B]

Of our author's predilection for the imposing exterior, and fanciful,
but often sublime, reveries of the Roman Catholic religion, we have
already taken some notice; and, in reference to the very interesting
part which the Duke assumes in this play, under the disguise of a
monk, it is the observation of the learned and eloquent Schlegel,
"that Shakspeare, amidst the rancour of religious parties, takes a
delight in painting the condition of a monk, and always represents
his influence as beneficial. We find in him none of the black and
knavish monks, which an enthusiasm for the protestant religion, rather
than poetical inspiration, has suggested to some of our modern poets.
Shakspeare merely gives his monks an inclination to busy themselves
in the affairs of others, after renouncing the world for themselves;
with respect, however, to pious frauds, he does not represent them as
very conscientious. Such are the parts acted by the monk in _Romeo and
Juliet_, and another in _Much Ado about Nothing_, and even by the Duke,
whom, contrary to the well-known proverb, the cowl seems really to make
a monk."[456:C]

26. KING LEAR: 1604. Both the chronologers have assigned to this
tragedy the date of 1605; but it appears to us more probable that
its production is to be attributed to the close of the year 1604.
It certainly was written between the publication of Harsnet's
_Declaration of Popish Impostures_, in 1603, and the Christmas of
1606; for Shakspeare undoubtedly borrowed, as the commentators have
justly observed, the fantastic names of several spirits from the
above mentioned work, whilst in the entry of Lear on the Stationers'
Registers, on the 26th of November, 1607, it is expressly recorded to
have been played, during the preceding Christmas, before His Majesty at

It is from the following facts, as established by Mr. Chalmers,
together with two or three additional circumstances, that we have
been induced to throw back a few months the era of the composition
of this play. "Lear is ascertained," observes Mr. Chalmers, "to have
been written, after the month of October, 1604; say the commentators:
(or rather says Mr. Malone) For, King James was proclaimed King _of
Great Britain_, on the 24th of October, 1604; and, it is evident, that
Shakspeare made a minute change in an old rhyming saw:—

    ———————————— "Fy, fa, fum,
    I smell the blood of an _English_ man;"

which Shakspeare, with great attention to the times, changed, in the
following manner:—

    "His word was still, Fie, foh, fum,
     I smell the blood of a _British_ man."

But, the fact is, that there was issued from Greenwich a royal
proclamation, on the 13th of May, 1603; declaring that, till a compleat
union, the King held, and esteemed, the two realms, as _presently_
united, and as one kingdom; and, the poets, Daniel and Drayton, who
wrote gratulatory verses, on his accession, spoke of the two kingdoms,
as united, thereby, into one realm, by the name of Britain; and of the
inhabitants of England and Scotland, as one people, by the denomination
of British." And he then adds, in a note: "Before King James arrived at
London, Daniel offered to him 'A Panegyrike congratulatory, delivered
to the King's most excellent Majesty at Burleigh-Harrington in
Rutlandshire;' which was printed, in 1603, for Blount, with a Defence
of Rhime:—

    "Lo here the glory of a greater day
     Than _England_ ever heretofore could see
     In all her days. ———— ———— ————
     And now she is, and now in peace therefore
     _Shake hands with union_, O thou mightie state,
     Now thou art all _great Britain_, and no more,
     _No Scot, no English_ now, nor no debate."[458:A]

We see here, that even before James took possession of his capital,
poetry had adopted the very language which Shakspeare has used in his
Lear: and that, as early as the 13th of May, 1603, a proclamation had
been issued, declaratory of the King's resolution to hold and esteem
the two realms as united, and as forming but one kingdom.

These two events, therefore, were of themselves, a sufficient ground
for the alteration which our bard thought proper to introduce, and
which, if it occurred, as we suppose, anterior to the definitive
proclamation of October, 1604, must have been considered, by the
monarch, as the greater compliment, on that very account.

A strong additional argument in favour of this chronology, may be
drawn from the attempt made in 1605, to impose on the public the old
play of _King Leir_ for the successful drama of our author. This
production, which had been entered at Stationers' Hall in 1594, was,
with this view, re-entered on the Stationers' books on the 8th of May,
1605, and the entry terminates with these words, "as it was _lately_

Now, as it was intended that the expression _lately_ should be
referred, by the reader, to our author's play, for which this was
meant to be received, it follows, as an almost necessary consequence,
from the common acceptation of the term, that the _Lear_ of Shakspeare
had been acted some months anteriorly, and was not then actually
performing, an inference which agrees well with the date which we have
adopted, but cannot be made to accord with Mr. Malone's supposition
of Shakspeare's tragedy appearing in April, 1605, and the spurious
claimant in May, when there is every reason to conclude that our poet's
drama was then nightly, or, at least, weekly delighting the public.

Another circumstance in support of the era which we have chosen for
this play, is to be derived from the consideration, that, in Mr.
Malone's arrangement, _Cymbeline_ is assigned, and, in our opinion,
correctly assigned, to the year 1605, while, in consequence of the
removal of _The Winter's Tale_ to the epoch of 1613, a change founded
on apparently substantial grounds, the year 1604 is left perfectly open
to the admission for which we contend.

To the numerous sources mentioned by the [459:A]commentators, whence
Shakspeare may have drawn the materials of his _Lear_, is to be added
the celebrated French Romance, entitled _Perceforest_, which, next to
the _Gesta Romanorum_, and the _History of Geoffrey of Monmouth_, is
the oldest authority extant. The story of King Leyr, as here related,
corresponds, in all its leading features, with the fable of our

Of this noble tragedy, one of the first productions of the noblest of
poets, it is scarcely possible to express our admiration in adequate
terms. Whether considered as an effort of art, or as a picture of
the passions, it is entitled to the highest praise. The two portions
of which the fable consists, involving the fate of Lear and his
daughters, and of Gloster and his sons, influence each other in so many
points, and are blended with such consummate skill, that whilst the
imagination is delighted by diversity of circumstances, the judgment
is equally gratified in viewing their mutual co-operation towards
the final result; the coalescence being so intimate, as not only to
preserve the necessary unity of action, but to constitute one of the
greatest beauties of the piece.

Such, indeed, is the interest excited by the structure and
concatenation of the story, that the attention is not once suffered to
flag. By a rapid succession of incidents, by sudden and overwhelming
vicissitudes, by the most awful instances of misery and destitution, by
the boldest contrariety of characters, are curiosity and anxiety kept
progressively increasing, and with an impetus so strong, as nearly to
absorb every faculty of the mind and every feeling of the heart.

Victims of frailty, of calamity, or of vice, in an age remote and
barbarous, the actors in this drama are brought forward with a strength
of colouring, which, had the scene been placed in a more civilised
era, might have been justly deemed too dark and ferocious, but is not
discordant with the earliest heathen age of Britain. The effect of this
style of characterisation is felt occasionally throughout the entire
play, but is particularly visible in the delineation of the vicious
personages of the drama, the parts of Goneril, Regan, Edmund, and
Cornwall being loaded, not only with ingratitude of the deepest dye,
but with cruelty of the most savage and diabolical nature; they are the
criminals, in fact, of an age where vice may be supposed to reign with
lawless and gigantic power, and in which the extrusion of Gloster's
eyes might be an event of no infrequent occurrence.

Had this mode of casting his characters in the extreme, been applied to
the remainder of the _Dramatis Personæ_, we should have lost some of
the finest lessons of humanity and wisdom that ever issued from the pen
of an uninspired writer; but, with the exception of a few coarsenesses,
which remind us of the barbarous period to which the story is
referred, and of a few incidents rather revolting to credibility,
but which could not be detached from the original narrative, the
virtuous agents of the play exhibit the manners and the feelings of
civilisation, and are of that mixed fabric which can alone display a
just portraiture of the nature and composition of our species.

The characters of Cordelia and Edgar, it is true, approach nearly to
perfection, but the filial virtues of the former are combined with
such exquisite tenderness of heart, and those of the latter with such
bitter humiliation and suffering, that grief, indignation, and pity
are instantly excited. Very striking representations are also given of
the rough fidelity of Kent, and of the hasty credulity of Gloster; but
it is in delineating the passions, feelings, and afflictions of Lear,
that our poet has wrought up a picture of human misery which has never
been surpassed, and which agitates the soul with the most overpowering
emotions of sympathy and compassion.

The conduct of the unhappy monarch having been founded merely on the
impulses of sensibility, and not on any fixed principle or rule of
action, no sooner has he discovered the baseness of those on whom he
had relied, and the fatal mistake into which he had been hurried by
the delusions of inordinate fondness and extravagant expectation, than
he feels himself bereft of all consolation and resource. Those to whom
he had given all, for whom he had stripped himself of dignity and
power, and on whom he had centered every hope of comfort and repose
in his old age, his inhuman daughters, having not only treated him
with utter coldness and contempt, but sought to deprive him of all the
respectability, and even of the very means of existence, what in a
mind so constituted as Lear's, the sport of intense and ill-regulated
feeling, and tortured by the reflection of having deserted the only
child who loved him, what but madness could be expected as the result?
It was, in fact, the necessary consequence of the reciprocal action
of complicated distress and morbid sensibility; and, in describing
the approach of this dreadful infliction, in tracing its progress,
its height, and subsidence, our poet has displayed such an intimate
knowledge of the workings of the human intellect, under all its
aberrations, as would afford an admirable study for the enquirer into
mental physiology. He has also in this play, as in that of Hamlet,
finely discriminated between real and assumed insanity, Edgar,
amidst all the wild imagery which his imagination has accumulated,
never touching on the true source of his misery, whilst Lear, on the
contrary, finds it associated with every object, and every thought,
however distant or dissimilar. Not even the Orestes of Euripides, or
the Clementina of Richardson, can, as pictures of disordered reason, be
placed in competition with this of Lear; it may be pronounced, indeed,
from its truth and completeness, beyond the reach of rivalry.

Of all the miseries incident to humanity the apprehension of
approaching loss of reason is, perhaps, the most dreadful. Lear, on
discovering the ingratitude of his eldest daughter, feels compunction
for his treatment of the youngest: "I did her wrong," he exclaims, and
such is the violence of the shock and the keenness of his sufferings,
that, even in this first conflict of resentment and sorrow, he
deprecates this heaviest of calamities:—

    "O let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven!"[462:A]

But when Regan, following the example of her sister, inflicts upon him
still greater dishonour, the fearful assurance is intimately felt, and
he predicts its visitation in positive terms:—

    —————————— "You think, I'll weep;
    No, I'll not weep:—
    I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
    Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws,
    Or ere I'll weep.—_O, fool, I shall go mad!_"[462:B]

Nothing can impress us with a more tremendous idea of this awful state
of mind, than the feelings of Lear during his exposure to the tempest.
What, under other circumstances, would have been shrunk from with alarm
and pain, is now unfelt, or only so, as a relief from deeper horrors:—

      "_Lear._ Thou think'st 'tis much, that this contentious storm
    Invades us to the skin: so 'tis to thee;
    But _where the greater malady is fix'd,
    The lesser is scarce felt_. Thoud'st shun a bear:
    But if thy flight lay toward the raging sea,
    Thoud'st meet the bear i' the mouth. When the mind's free,
    The body's delicate: _the tempest in my mind
    Doth from my senses take all feeling else,
    Save what beats there_.—Filial ingratitude!
    Is it not as this mouth should tear this hand,
    For lifting food to't?—But I will punish home:—
    No, I will weep no more.—In such a night
    To shut me out!—Pour on; I will endure:
    In such a night as this! O Regan, Goneril!—
    Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all,—
    O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;
    No more of that,—

      _Kent._          Good my lord, enter here.

      _Lear._ Pr'ythee, go in thyself; seek thine own ease;
    _This tempest will not give me leave to ponder
    On things would hurt me more_."[463:A]

It is at the close of this scene that the misfortune which he has
dreaded so much, overtakes him: "his wits," as Kent observes, "begin
to unsettle;" but it is not a total dereliction of intellect: Lear is
neither absolutely delirious, nor maniacal; but he labours under that
species of hallucination which leaves to the wretched sufferer a sense
of his own unhappiness: a state of being, beyond all others, calculated
to awaken the most thrilling sensations of pity.

A picture of more terrible grandeur or of wilder sublimity, than what
occurs, during the exposure of the aged monarch to the impetuous fury
of the storm, was never imagined. Every thing conspires to render
it unparalleled in its powers of impression. On a night, when the
conflicting elements of fire, air, and water, deafen nature itself with
their uproar; on a night,

    ———— "wherein the cub-drawn bear would couch,
    The lion and the belly-pinched wolf
    Keep their fur dry,"[464:A]

is the miserable old king driven out by his unnatural daughters, to
wander over a bleak and barren heath in search of shelter, destitute
of even common necessaries, a very beggar on the bounty of his former
subjects, and accompanied only by his fool, and the faithful though
banished Kent. It is with difficulty that they persuade him to
take refuge from the storm; at length, he yields, at the same time
addressing the fool in terms which, perhaps more than any other lines
in the play, unveil the native goodness of his heart:—

    ————————————— "Come, your hovel,
    _Poor Fool and knave, I have one part in my heart
    That's sorry yet for thee_."[464:B]

No sooner, however, has the fool entered this hovel, than he returns
horror-struck, followed by Edgar, who rushes on the heath, an almost
naked maniac, and exclaiming,

    "Away! the foul fiend follows me!—
     Through the sharp hawthorn blows the cold wind."[464:C]

The dialogue which now ensues between these extraordinary characters
is, of itself, a proof of the boundless expansion of the poet's mind.
The torrent of agonizing grief and resentment which flows from Lear,
abandoned by his daughters, verging towards insanity, and aware of its
approach; the wild exuberance of fancy which thrills in the phrenzied
accents of Edgar, who, under the disguise of a madman tormented by
demons, is flying from death threatened by a father; and the quaint
mixture of wisdom, pleasantry, and satire in the language of the honest
fool, who yet heightens, while he means to alleviate the distresses of
his master, are elements of mental strife which harmonise with, and add
a kind of illimitable horror to the storm which howls around.

Nor inferior to this in merit, though of a totally different cast, is
the scene in which the exhausted monarch, having been lulled to sleep
through the effects of an opiate, is awakened by the sound of music,
whilst Cordelia, hanging over him, with an almost breathless anxiety,
at length ventures to address him. The language of the poor old man,
in the moment of partial reminiscence, is, beyond any other effort of
human composition, simple and affecting:—

      "_Cor._ How does my royal lord? How fares your majesty?

      _Lear._ You do me wrong, to take me out of the grave:—
    Thou art a soul in bliss; but I am bound
    Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears
    Do scald like molten lead.

      _Cor._                   Sir, do you know me?

      _Lear._ You are a spirit, I know; when did you die?—

      _Cor._ O, look upon me, sir,
    And hold your hands in benediction o'er me:—
    No, sir, you must not kneel.

      _Lear._                    Pray, do not mock me:
    I am a very foolish fond old man,
    Fourscore and upward; and, to deal plainly,
    I fear, I am not in my perfect mind.
    Methinks, I should know you, and know this man;
    Yet I am doubtful: for I am mainly ignorant
    What place this is; and all the skill I have
    Remembers not these garments; nor I know not
    Where I did lodge last night: Do not laugh at me;
    For, as I am a man, I think this lady
    To be my child Cordelia.

      _Cor._                 And so I am, I am.

      _Lear._ Be your tears wet? Yes, 'faith. I pray, weep not:
    If you have poison for me, I will drink it.
    I know, you do not love me; for your sisters
    Have, as I do remember, done me wrong:
    You have some cause, they have not.

      _Cor._                            No cause, no cause.—

      _Lear._          You must bear with me;
    Pray now, forget and forgive: I am old and foolish."[466:A]

27. CYMBELINE: 1605. This play, if not, in the construction of its
fable, one of the most perfect of our author's productions, is, in
point of poetic beauty, of variety and truth of character, and in
the display of sentiment and emotion, one of the most lovely and
interesting. Nor can we avoid expressing our astonishment at the
sweeping condemnation which Johnson has passed upon it; charging
its fiction with folly, its conduct with absurdity, its events with
impossibility; terming its faults too evident for detection, and too
gross for aggravation.[466:B]

Of the enormous injustice of this sentence, nearly every page of
_Cymbeline_ will, to a reader of any taste or discrimination, bring
the most decisive evidence. That it possesses many of the too common
inattentions of Shakspeare, that it exhibits a frequent violation of
costume, and a singular confusion of nomenclature, cannot be denied;
but these are trifles light as air, when contrasted with its merits,
which are of the very essence of dramatic worth, rich and full in all
that breathes of vigour, animation, and intellect, in all that elevates
the fancy, and improves the heart, in all that fills the eye with
tears, or agitates the soul with hope and fear.

In possession of excellences, vital as these must be deemed, cold and
fastidious is the criticism that, on account of irregularities in mere
technical detail, would shut its eyes upon their splendour. Nor are
there wanting critics of equal learning with, and superior taste to
Johnson, who have considered what he has branded with the unqualified
charge of "confusion of manners," as forming, in a certain point of
view, one of the most pleasing recommendations of the piece. Thus
Schlegel, after characterising _Cymbeline_ as one of Shakspeare's
most wonderful compositions, adds,—"He has here connected a novel of
Boccacio with traditionary tales of the ancient Britons reaching back
to the times of the first Roman Emperors, and _he has contrived, by the
most gentle transitions, to blend together into one harmonious whole
the social manners of the latest times with the heroic deeds, and even
with appearances of the gods_."[467:A] It may be also remarked, that,
if the unities of time and place be as little observed in this play, as
in many others of the same poet, unity of character and feeling, the
test of genius, and without which the utmost effort of art will ever be
unavailing, is uniformly and happily supported.

Imogen, the most lovely and perfect of Shakspeare's female characters,
the pattern of connubial love and chastity, by the delicacy and
propriety of her sentiments, by her sensibility, tenderness, and
resignation, by her patient endurance of persecution from the quarter
where she had confidently looked for endearment and protection,
irresistibly seizes upon our affections; and when compelled to fly from
the paternal roof, from

    "A father cruel, and a step-dame false,
     A foolish suitor to a wedded lady,
     That hath her husband banished,"

she is driven to assume, under the name of Fidele, the disguise of
a page, we follow her footsteps with the liveliest interest and

The scenes which disclose the incidents of her pilgrimage; her
reception at the cave of Belarius; her intercourse with her lost
brothers, who are ignorant of their birth and rank, her supposed death,
funeral rites, and resuscitation, are wrought up with a mixture of
pathos and romantic wildness, peculiarly characteristic of our author's
genius, and which has had but few successful imitators. Among these
few, stands pre-eminent the poet Collins, who seems to have trodden
this consecrated ground with a congenial mind, and who has sung the
sorrows of Fidele in strains worthy of their subject, and which will
continue to charm the mind and soothe the heart "till pity's self be

When compared with this fascinating portrait, the other personages of
the drama appear but in a secondary light. Yet are they adequately
brought out, and skilfully diversified; the treacherous subtlety of
Iachimo, the sage experience of Belarius, the native nobleness of
heart, and innate heroism of mind, which burst forth in the vigorous
sketches of Guiderius and Arviragus, the temerity, credulity, and
penitence of Posthumus, the uxorious weakness of Cymbeline, the
hypocrisy of his Queen, and the comic arrogance of Cloten, half fool
and half knave, produce a striking diversity of action and sentiment.

Of this latter character, the constitution has been thought so
extraordinary, and involving elements of a kind so incompatible, as to
form an exception to the customary integrity and consistency of our
author's draughts from nature. But the following passage from the pen
of an elegant female writer, will prove, that this curious assemblage
of frequently opposite qualities, has existed, and no doubt did exist
in the days of Shakspeare:—"It is curious that Shakspeare should, in
so singular a character as Cloten, have given the exact prototype of
a being whom I once knew. The unmeaning frown of the countenance; the
shuffling gait; the burst of voice; the bustling insignificance; the
fever and ague fits of valour; the froward tetchiness; the unprincipled
malice; and, what is most curious, those occasional gleams of good
sense, amidst the floating clouds of folly which generally darkened and
confused the man's brain; and which, in the character of Cloten, we are
apt to impute to a violation of unity in character; but in the some
time Captain C——n, I saw that the portrait of Cloten was not out of

Poetical justice has been strictly observed in this drama; the vicious
characters meet the punishment due to their crimes, while virtue,
in all its various degrees, is proportionably rewarded. The scene of
retribution, which is the closing one of the play, is a master-piece of
skill; the developement of the plot, for its fullness, completeness,
and ingenuity, surpassing any effort of the kind among our author's
contemporaries, and atoning for any partial incongruity which the
structure or conduct of the story may have previously displayed.

28. MACBETH: 1606. We have now reached what may justly be termed the
greatest effort of our author's genius; the most sublime and impressive
drama which the world has ever beheld.

Than the conception of the character of Macbeth, it is scarcely
possible to conceive a picture more original and grand? Too great and
good to fall beneath the common temptations to villany, Shakspeare has
called in the powers of supernatural agency, and seizing upon ambition
as the vulnerable part of his hero's character, and placing him between
the suggestions of hell on one side, and those of his fiend-like wife
on the other, he has, in conformity to the letter of the traditions
which were before him, brought about a catastrophe, which, as he has
conducted it, is the most awful on dramatic record. For, whilst the
influence of the world unknown throws a dread solemnity over the
principal incidents, the volition of Macbeth remains sufficiently free
to enable the poet to bring into full play the strongest passions of
the human breast.

Originally brave, magnanimous, humane, and gentle,

    ——— "not without ambition; but without
    The illness should attend it,"

and wishing to do that holily which he would highly; fully sensible
also of the enormous ingratitude and guilt which he should incur by the
assassination of the monarch who had loaded him with honours, and who
was moreover his kinsman and his guest, the struggle would necessarily
have terminated on the side of virtue, had not the predictions of the
weird sisters, in part, instantly accomplished, and assuming the form
therefore of inevitable destiny, concealed from his bewildered senses
the eternal truth, that not from fate, but from his own agency alone
could spring the commission of a crime, whose very suggestion had at
first filled him with horror. But even this delusion, which seemed
for a time to deaden the sense of responsibility, would have failed
in its effect, had not the ferocious and sarcastic eloquence of Lady
Macbeth been called in to its aid: dazzled by the splendour with which
she clothes the expected issue of the deed; indignant at the charge of
cowardice, to which she artfully imputes his irresolution, and allured
by the means which she has planned as a security from detection, he, at
length, rushes into the snare.

No sooner, however, has the assassination of Duncan been perpetrated,
than the virtuous principles which had slumbered in the bosom of
Macbeth rise up to accuse and condemn him. Conscience-stricken, and
recoiling with horror from the atrocity of his own deed, he becomes the
victim of the most agonising remorse; he feels deserted both by God and
man, and unable even to deprecate the wrath which night and day pursues

    "I have done the deed:—Did'st thou not hear a noise?—
     There's one did laugh in his sleep, and one cried, _Murder!_
     That they did wake each other: I stood and heard them.—
     One cried, _God bless us!_ and, _Amen!_ the other;
     As they had seen me with these hangman's hands
     Listening their fear. I could not say, Amen,
     When they did say, God bless us.—
     But wherefore could not I pronounce, Amen?
     I had most need of blessing, and Amen
     Stuck in my throat.—
     Methought I heard a voice cry, _Sleep no more!
     Macbeth doth murder sleep._—
     Still it cry'd, _Sleep no more!_ to all the house;
     _Glamis hath murdered sleep_; and therefore Cawdor
     Shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no more."[470:A]

To this dread of vengeance from offended heaven, is soon added the
apprehension of punishment from mankind, his keen abhorrence of his
own iniquity leading him to paint, in the strongest colours, the
detestation and resentment which it must have incurred from others.
This fear of retaliation from his fellow-creatures, together with the
awful prospect of retribution in another world, produce a complete
revolution in his character; he is exhibited distrustful, treacherous,
and cruel, sweeping from existence, without pity or hesitation, all
whose talents, virtues, sufferings, or pretensions seem to endanger a
life, of which, though hourly becoming more wretched and depraved, he
anticipates the close with horror and dismay.

To the very last, the contest is kept up with tremendous energy,
between the native vigour of a brave mind, and the debilitating effects
of a guilty, and, therefore, a fear-creating conscience. The lesson
is, beyond every other, salutary and important, as it proves that
the dominion of one perverted passion subjugates to its own depraved
purposes the very principles of virtue itself; the sensibility of
Macbeth to his own wickedness, giving birth to terrors which urge him
on to reiterated murder, and finally to irretrievable destruction.

The management of the fable of Macbeth presents us with a remarkable
instance of the profound art of Shakspeare, in condensing into one
representation, and with an uninterrupted progress of the action,
an extensive and closely concatenated series of events, forming a
perfect cycle of influential incidents and passions, on a scale
commensurate with that of nature, and for which it were in vain to
look, where the unrelaxing unities of time and place have imposed
their fetters on the poet. "Let any one, for instance," observes
Schlegel, "attempt to circumscribe the gigantic picture of Macbeth's
murder, his tyrannical usurpation, and final fall, within the narrow
limits of the unity of time, and he will then see, that, however many
of the events which Shakspeare successively exhibits before us in
such dread array, he may have placed anterior to the commencement of
the piece, and made the subject of after recital, he has altogether
deprived it of its sublimity of import. This drama, it is true,
comprehends a considerable period of time: but in the rapidity of its
progress, have we leisure to calculate this? We see, as it were, the
fates weaving their dark web on the bosom of time; and the storm and
whirlwind of events, which impel the hero to the first daring attempt,
which afterwards lead him to commit innumerable crimes to secure the
fruits of it, and drive him at last, amidst numerous perils, to his
destruction in the heroic combat, draw us irresistibly along with them.
Such a tragical exhibition resembles the course of a comet, which,
hardly visible at first, and only important to the astronomic eye,
when appearing in the heaven in a nebulous distance, soon soars with
an unheard of and perpetually increasing rapidity towards the central
point of our system, spreading dismay among the nations of the earth,
till in a moment, with its portentous tail, it overspreads the half of
the firmament with flaming fire."[472:A]

But, in fact, as hath been remarked by the same admirable critic,
_Macbeth_, in its construction, bears a striking affinity to the
celebrated trilogy of Æschylus, which included the _Agamemnon_, the
_Choephoræ_, and the _Eumenides_, or _Furies_, pieces which were
successively represented in one day. "The object of the first is the
murder of Agamemnon by Clytemnestra, on his return from Troy. In the
second, Orestes avenges his father by killing his mother: _facto pius
et sceleratus eodem_. This deed, although perpetrated from the most
powerful motives, is repugnant however to natural and moral order.
Orestes as a Prince was, it is true, entitled to exercise justice
even on the members of his own family; but he was under the necessity
of stealing in disguise into the dwelling of the tyrannical usurper
of his throne, and of going to work like an assassin. The memory of
his father pleads his excuse; but although Clytemnestra has deserved
death, the blood of his mother still rises up in judgment against him.
This is represented in the Eumenides in the form of a contention among
the gods, some of whom approve of the deed of Orestes, while others
persecute him, till at last the divine wisdom, under the figure of
Minerva, reconciles the opposite claims, establishes a peace, and puts
an end to the long series of crimes and punishments which desolated the
royal house of Atreus.

"A considerable interval takes place between the period of the first
and second pieces, during which Orestes grows up to manhood. The second
and third are connected together immediately in the order of time.
Orestes takes flight after the murder of his mother to Delphi, where we
find him at the commencement of the Eumenides.

"In each of the two first pieces, there is a visible reference to the
one which follows. In Agamemnon, Cassandra and the chorus prophesy, at
the close, to the arrogant Clytemnestra and her paramour Ægisthus, the
punishment which awaits them at the hands of Orestes. In the Choephoræ,
Orestes, immediately after the execution of the deed, finds no longer
any repose; the furies of his mother begin to persecute him, and he
announces his resolution of taking refuge in Delphi.

"The connection is therefore evident throughout, and we may consider
the three pieces, which were connected together even in the
representation, as so many acts of one great and entire drama. I
mention this as a preliminary justification of Shakspeare and other
modern poets, in connecting together in one representation a larger
circle of human destinies, as we can produce to the critics who object
to this the supposed example of the ancients."[473:A]

To these observations of M. Schlegel, the following excellent remarks
have been added by a writer in the Monthly Review:—"Shakspeare's
Macbeth," says this critic, "bears a close resemblance to this
trilogy of Æschylus, which gives, in three distinct acts, a history
of the house of Agamemnon. In Macbeth, also, are three acts or deeds,
distinct from each other, and separated by long intervals of time;
namely, the regicide of Duncan, the murder of Banquo, and the fall
of Macbeth; the first serving to shew how he attained his elevation,
the second how he abused it, and the third how he lost it. A chorus
of supernatural beings, (the witches of Shakspeare operate like the
furies of Æschylus,) in both these tragic poems, hovers over the fate
of the hero; and, by impressing on the spectator the consciousness of
an irresistible necessity, all the extenuation which the atrocities
could admit is introduced. Criticism, in comparing the master-pieces
of these master-poets, may be permitted to hesitate, but not to
draw stakes. To the plot or fable of Shakspeare must be allowed the
merit of possessing, in the higher degree, wholeness, connection,
and ascending interest. The character of Clytemnestra may be weighed
without disparagement against that of Lady Macbeth: but all the
other delineations are superior in our Shakspeare; his characters
are more various, more marked, more consistent, more natural, more
intuitive. The style of Æschylus, if distinguished for a majestic
energetic simplicity, greatly preferable to the mixt metaphors and
puns of Shakspeare, has still neither the richness of thought nor
the versatility of diction which we find displayed in the English

The _supernatural machinery_ of this play, which forms one of its
most striking features, is founded on a species of superstition
that, during the life-time of Shakspeare, prevailed in England and
Scotland in an unprecedented degree. _Witchcraft_ had attracted
the attention of government under the reign of Henry the Eighth,
in whose thirty-third year was enacted a Statute which adjudged
all Witchcraft and Sorcery to be Felony without Benefit of Clergy;
but, at the commencement of the reign of Elizabeth, the evil seems
to have been greatly on the increase, for Bishop Jewel, preaching
before the Queen, in 1558, tells her,—"It may please your Grace to
understand that Witches and Sorcerers within these few last years
are marvelously increased within your Grace's realm. Your Grace's
subjects pine away, even unto the death, their colour fadeth, their
flesh rotteth, their speech is benumbed, their senses are bereft, I
pray God they never practise further then upon the subject."[475:A]
How prevalent the delusion had become in the year 1584, we have the
most ample testimony in the ingenious work of Reginald Scot, entitled
"The Discoverie of Witchcraft," which was written, as the sensible and
humane author has informed us, "in behalfe of the poore, the aged, and
the simple[475:B];" and it reflects singular discredit on the age in
which it was produced, that a detection so complete, both with regard
to argument and fact, should have failed in effecting its purpose.
But the infatuation had seized all ranks, with an influence which
rivalled that resulting from an article of religious faith, and Scot
begins his work with the observation, that "the fables of Witchcraft
have taken so fast hold and deepe root in the heart of man, that fewe
or none can, now adaies, with patience indure the hand and correction
of God. For if any adversitie, greefe, sicknesse, losse of children,
corne, cattell, or libertie happen unto them; by and by they exclaime
uppon witches;—insomuch as a clap of thunder, or a gale of wind is no
sooner heard, but either they run to ring bels, or crie out to burne
witches[475:C];" and, in his second chapter, he declares "I have heard
to my greefe some of the minesterie affirme, that they have had in
their parish at one instant, xvij or xviij witches: meaning such as
could worke miracles supernaturallie[475:D];" a declaration which, in
a subsequent part of his book, he more particularly applies, when he
informs us, that "seventeene or eighteene were condemned at once at St.
Osees in the countie of Essex, being a whole parish, though of no great

The mischief, however, was but in progress, and received a rapid
acceleration from the publication of the "Dæmonologie" of King James,
at Edinburgh, in the year 1597. The origin of this very curious
treatise was probably laid in the royal mind, in consequence of the
supposed detection of a conspiracy of two hundred witches with Dr.
Fian, "Register to the Devil," at their head, to bewitch and drown
His Majesty, on his return from Denmark, in 1590. James attended the
examination of these poor wretches with the most eager curiosity, and
the most willing credulity; and, when Agnis Tompson confessed, that
she, with other witches to the number just mentioned, "went altogether
by sea, each one in her riddle, or sieve, with flaggons of wine,
making merry and drinking by the way, to the kirk of North Berwick,
in Lothian, where, when they had landed, they took hands and danced,
singing all with one voice,—

    "Commer[476:A] go ye before, commer goe yè,
     Gif ye will not go before, commer let me:"

and "that Geilis Duncane did go before them, playing said reel on a
Jew's trump," James immediately sent for Duncane, and listened with
delight to his performance of the witches' reel on the Jew's-harp!

On Agnis, however, asserting, that the Devil had met them at the Kirk,
His Majesty could not avoid expressing some doubts; when, taking him
aside, she "declared unto him the very words which had passed between
him and his Queen on the first night of their marriage, with their
answer each to other; whereat the King wondered greatly, and swore by
the living God, that he believed all the Devils in Hell could not have
discovered the same."[476:B]

That the particulars elicited from the confessions of these unfortunate
beings, which, it is said, "made the King in a wonderful admiration,"
formed the basis of the Dæmonologie, may be, therefore, readily
admitted. It is also to be deplored, that, weak and absurd as this
production now appears to us, its effects on the age of its birth,
and for a century afterwards, were extensive, and melancholy in
the extreme. It contributed, indeed, more than any other work on
the subject, to rivet the fetters of credulity; and scarcely had a
twelvemonth elapsed from its publication, before its result was visible
in the destruction, in Scotland, of not less than six hundred human
beings at once, for this imaginary crime![477:A]

The succession of James to the throne of Elizabeth served but to
propagate the contagion; for no sooner had he reached this country,
than his Dæmonologie re-appeared from an English press, being printed
at London, in 1603, in quarto, and with a Preface to the Reader, which
commences by informing him of "the fearefull abounding at this time in
this Countrey, of these detestable slaves of the Divel, the Witches, or
enchanters[477:B];" a declaration which, during the course of the same
year, was accompanied by a new statute against Witches, one clause of
which enacts, that "Any one that shall use, practise, or exercise any
invocation or conjuration of any evill or wicked spirit, or consult,
covenant with, entertaine or employ, feede or reward, any evill or
wicked spirit, to or for any intent or purpose; or take up any dead
man, woman or child, out of his, her, or their grave, or any other
place where the dead body resteth, or the skin, bone, or other part of
any dead person, to be employed or used in any manner of witchcraft,
sorcery, charme, or enchantment; or shall use, practise, or exercise
any witchcraft, enchantment, charme, or sorcery, whereby any person
shall be killed, destroyed, wasted, consumed, pined, or lamed, in his
or her body, or any part thereof, such offenders, duly and lawfully
convicted and attainted, shall suffer death."[478:A]

We cannot wonder if measures such as these, which stamped the already
existing superstitions with the renewed authority of the law, and
with the influence of regal argument and authority, should render a
belief in the existence of witchcraft almost universal; fashion and
interest on the one hand, and ignorance and fear on the other, mutually
contributing, by concealing or banishing doubt, to disseminate error,
and preclude detection.

Who those were who, at this period, had the misfortune to be branded
with the appellation of Witches; what deeds were imputed to them, and
what was the nature of their supposed compact with the Devil, are
questions which will be most satisfactorily answered in the words of
Reginald Scot, whose book is not only extremely scarce, but highly
curious and entertaining; and two or three chapters from this copious
treasury of superstition, with a very few comments from other sources,
will exhaust this part of the subject.

"The sort of such as are said to be witches," writes Scot, "are women
which be commonly old, lame, bleare-eied, pale, fowle, and full of
wrinkles; poore, sullen, superstitious, and papists; or such as knowe
no religion; in whose drousie minds the divell hath gotten a fine seat;
so as, what mischeefe, mischance, calamitie, or slaughter is brought
to passe, they are easilie persuaded the same is doone by themselves;
imprinting in their minds an earnest and constant imagination thereof.
They are leane and deformed, shewing melancholie in their faces, to the
horror of all that see them. They are doting, scolds, mad, divelish,
and not much differing from them that are thought to be possessed with
spirits; so firme and stedfast in their opinions, as whosoever shall
onelie have respect to the constancie of their words uttered, would
easilie beleeve they were true indeed.

"These miserable wretches are so odious unto all their neighbors, and
so feared, as few dare offend them, or denie them anie thing they aske:
whereby they take upon them; yea, and sometimes thinke, that they can
doo such things as are beyond the abilitie of humane nature. These go
from house to house, and from doore to doore for a pot full of milke,
yest, drinke, pottage, or some such releefe; without the which they
could hardlie live: neither obtaining for their service and paines, nor
by their art, nor yet at the divels hands (with whome they are said to
make a perfect and visible bargaine) either beautie, monie, promotion,
welth, worship, pleasure, honor, knowledge, learning, or any other
benefit whatsoever.

"It falleth out many times, that neither their necessities, nor their
expectation is answered or served, in those places where they beg or
borrowe; but rather their lewdness is by their neighbors reproved.
And further, in tract of time the witch wareth odious and tedious
to her neighbors; and they againe are despised and despited of hir;
so as sometimes she cursseth one, and sometimes another; and that
from the maister of the house, his wife, children, cattell, &c. to
the little pig that lieth in the stie. Thus in processe of time they
have all displeased hir, and she hath wished evil luck unto them
all; perhaps with cursses and imprecations made in forme. Doubtless
(at length) some of hir neighbors die, or falle sicke; or some of
their children are visited with diseases that vex them strangelie: as
apoplexies, epilepsies, convulsions, hot fevers, wormes, &c. Which
by ignorant parents are supposed to be the vengeance of witches.
Yea and their opinions and conceits are confirmed and maintained by
unskilfull physicians: according to the common saieng; _Inscitiæ
pallium maleficium et incantatio_, Witchcraft and inchantment is the
cloke of ignorance: whereas indeed evill humors, and not strange words,
witches, or spirits are the causes of such diseases. Also some of their
cattell perish, either by disease or mischance. Then they, uppon whom
such adversities fall, weighing the fame that goeth upon this woman
(hir words, displeasure, and cursses meeting so justly with their
misfortune) doo not onlie conceive, but also are resolved, that all
their mishaps are brought to passe by hir onelie means.

"The witch on the other side expecting hir neighbors mischances, and
seeing things sometimes come to passe according to hir wishes, cursses,
and incantations (for Bodin himself confesseth, that not above two in a
hundred of their witchings or wishings take effect) being called before
a Justice, by due examination of the circumstances is driven to see
hir imprecations and desires, and hir neighbors harmes and losses to
concurre, and as it were to take effect: and so confesseth that she (as
a goddes) hath brought such things to passe. Wherein, not onelie she,
but the accuser, and also the Justice are fowlie deceived and abused;
as being thorough hir confession and other circumstances persuaded (to
the injurie of Gods glorie) that she hath doone, or can doo that which
is proper onelie to God himselfe.

"Another sort of witches there are, which be absolutelie cooseners:
These take upon them, either for glorie, fame, or gaine, to doo any
thing, which God or the divell can doo: either for fortelling things
to come, bewraieng of secrets, curing of maladies, or working of

To this chapter from Scot, which we have given entire, may be added the
admirable description of the abode of a witch from the pen of Spenser,
who, as Warton hath observed, copied from living objects, and had
probably been struck with seeing such a cottage, in which a witch was
supposed to live:—

     "There in a gloomy hollow glen she found
      A little cottage built of stickes and reedes
      In homely wise, and wald with sods around;
      In which a Witch did dwell, in loathly weedes
      And wilful want, all carelesse of her needes;
      So choosing solitarie to abide
      Far from all neighbours, that her divelish deeds
      And hellish arts from people she might hide,
    And hurt far off unknowne whomever she envide."[480:B]

This very striking picture for ever fixed the character of the
habitation allotted to a witch; thus in a singularly curious tract,
entitled "Round about our Coal-Fire," published about the close of
the seventeenth century, and which details, in a pleasing manner, the
traditions of the olden time, as a source of Christmas amusement,
it is said that "a Witch must be a hagged old woman, living in a
little rotten cottage, under a hill, by a wood-side, and must be
frequently spinning at the door: she must have a black cat, two or
three broom-sticks, an imp or two, and two or three diabolical teats to
suckle her imps."

Of the wonderful feats which the various kinds of witches were supposed
capable of performing, Scot has favoured us with the following succinct
enumeration: there are three sorts of witches he tells us, "one sort
can hurt and not helpe, the second can helpe and not hurt, the third
can both helpe and hurt. Among the hurtfull witches there is one sort
more beastlie than any kind of beasts, saving wolves: for these usually
devour and eate yong children and infants of their owne kind. These be
they that raise haile, tempests, and hurtfull weather; as lightening,
thunder, &c. These be they that procure barrennesse in man, woman, and
beast. These can throwe children in waters, as they walke with their
mothers, and not be seene. These can make horsses kicke, till they
cast their riders. These can passe from place to place in the aire
invisible. These can so alter the mind of judges, that they can have
no power to hurt them. These can procure to themselves and to others,
taciturnitie and insensibilitie in their torments. These can bring
trembling to the hands, and strike terror into the minds of them that
apprehend them. These can manifest unto others, things hidden and lost,
and foreshew things to come; and see them as though they were present.
These can alter men's minds to inordinate love or hate. These can kill
whom they list with lightening and thunder. These can take away man's
courage.—These can make a woman miscarrie in childbirth, and destroie
the child in the mother's wombe, without any sensible means either
inwardlie or outwardlie applied. These can with their looks kill either
man or beast.—

"Others doo write, that they can pull downe the moone and the
starres. Some write that with wishing they can send needles into the
livers of their enemies. Some that they can transferre corne in the
blade from one place to another. Some, that they can cure diseases
supernaturallie, flie in the aire, and danse with divels. Some write,
that they can plaie the part of _Succubus_, and contract themselves to
_Incubus_.—Some saie they can transubstantiate themselves and others,
and take the forms and shapes of asses, woolves, ferrets, cowes, asses,
horsses, hogs, &c. Some say they can keepe divels and spirits in the
likenesse of todes and cats.

"They can raise spirits (as others affirme), drie up springs, turne
the course of running waters, inhibit the sune, and staie both day
and night, changing the one into the other. They can go in and out at
awger holes, and saile in an egge shell, a cockle or muscle shell,
through and under the tempestuous seas.—They can bring soules out of
the graves. They can teare snakes in pieces.—They can also bring to
pass, that chearne as long as you list, your butter will not come;
_especiallie, if either the maids have eaten up the creame; or the
good-wife have sold the butter before in the market_."[482:A]

The only material accession which the royal James has made to this
curious catalogue of the deeds of witchcraft, consists in informing us,
that these aged and decrepid slaves of Satan "make pictures of waxe
or clay, that by the roasting thereof, the persons that they beare
the name of, may be continually melted or dried away by continuall
sicknesse[482:B];" and his mode of explaining how the devil performs
this marvel, is a notable instance both of his ingenuity and his
eloquence. This deed he says "is verie possible to their master to
performe: for although that instrument of waxe have no vertue in that
turne doing, yet may he not very well, even by the same measure,
that his conjured slaves melts that waxe at the fire, may hee not, I
say, at these same times, subtily, as a spirit, so weaken and scatter
the spirits of life of the patient, as may make him on the one part,
for faintnesse, to sweat out the humour of his bodie, and on the
other part, for the not concurrence of these spirits, which causes
his digestion, so debilitate his stomache, that this humour radicall
continually, sweating out on the one part, and no newe good sucke being
put in the place thereof, for lacke of digestion on the other, he at
last shall vanish away, even as his picture will doe at the fire?
And that knavish and cunning workeman, by troubling him, onely at
sometimes, makes a proportion, so neere betwixt the working of the one
and the other, that both shall end as it were at one time."[483:A]

It remains to notice the nature of the compact or bargain, which
witches were believed to enter into with their seducer, and the species
of homage which they were compelled to pay him; and here again we must
have recourse to Scot, not only as the most compressed, but as the most
authentic detailer of this strange credulity of his times. "The order
of their bargaine or profession," says he, "is double; the one solemne
and publike; the other secret and private. That which is called solemne
or publike, is where witches come together at certaine assemblies, at
the times prefixed, and doo not onelie see the divell in visible forme;
but confer and talke familiarlie with him. In which conference the
divell exhorteth them to observe their fidelitie unto him, promising
them long life and prosperitie. Then the witches assembled, commend a
new disciple (whom they call a novice) unto him: and if the divell find
that yoong witch apt and forward in renunciation of Christian faith,
in despising anie of the seven sacraments, in treading upon crosses,
in spetting at the time of the elevation, in breaking their fast on
fasting daies, and fasting on sundaies: then the divell giveth foorth
his hand, and the novice joining hand in hand with him, promiseth to
observe and keepe all the divels commandements.

"This doone, the divell beginneth to be more bold with hir, telling
hir plainlie, that all this will not serve his turne; and therefore
requireth homage at hir hands: yea he also telleth hir, that she must
grant him both hir bodie and soule to be tormented in everlasting
fire; which she yeeldeth unto. Then he chargeth hir, to procure as
manie men, women, and children also, as she can, to enter into this
societie. Then he teacheth them to make ointments of the bowels and
members of children, whereby they ride in the aire, and accomplish all
their desires. So as, if there be anie children unbaptized, or not
garded with the signe of the crosse, or orisons; then the witches may
and doo catch them from their mothers sides in the night, or out of
their cradles, or otherwise kill them with their ceremonies; and after
buriall steale them out of their graves, and seeth them in a caldron,
until their flesh be made potable. Of the thickest whereof they make
ointments, whereby they ride in the aire; but the thinner potion they
put into flaggons, whereof whosoever drinketh, observing certaine
ceremonies, immediatelie becommeth a maister or rather a mistresse in
that practise and facultie.

"Their homage with their oth and bargaine is received for a certeine
terme of yeares; sometimes for ever. Sometimes it consisteth in the
deniall of the whole faith, sometimes in part.—And this is doone
either by oth, protestation of words, or by obligation in writing,
sometimes sealed with wax, sometimes signed with blood, sometimes by
kissing the divels bare buttocks.

"You must also understand, that after they have delicatlie banketted
with the divell and the ladie of the fairies; and have eaten up a fat
oxe, and emptied a butt of malmesie, and a binne of bread at some noble
man's house, in the dead of the night, nothing is missed of all this
in the morning. For the ladie _Sibylla_, _Minerva_, or _Diana_ with
a golden rod striketh the vessel and the binne, and they are fully
replenished againe." After mentioning that the bullock is restored
in the same magical manner, he states it as an "infallible rule, that
everie fortnight, or at the least everie moneth, each witch must kill
one child at the least for hir part." He also relates from Bodin, that
"at these magicall assemblies, the witches never faile to danse, and
whiles they sing and danse, everie one hath a broome in hir hand, and
holdeth it up aloft."[485:A]

To these circumstances attending the meetings of this unhallowed
sisterhood, King James adds, that Satan, in order that "hee may the
more vively counterfeit and scorne God, oft times makes his slaves to
conveene in those very places, which are destinate and ordained for
the conveening of the servants of God (I meane by churches):—further,
witches oft times confesse, not only his conveening in the church
with them, but his occupying of the pulpit."[485:B] For this piece
of information James seems to have been indebted to the confessions
of Agnis Tompson; but he also relates, that the devil, as soon as he
has induced his votaries to renounce their God and baptism, "gives
them his marke upon some secret place of their bodie, which remaies
soare unhealed, whilst his next meeting with them, and thereafter
ever insensible, however it be nipped or pricked by any;" a seal of
distinction which, he tells us at the close of his treatise, is of
great use in detecting them on their trial, as "the finding of their
marke, and the trying the insensiblenes thereof," was considered as
a positive proof of their craft. His Majesty, however, proceeds to
mention another mode of ascertaining their guilt, terminating the
paragraph in a manner not very flattering to his female subjects,
or very expressive of his own gallantry. "The other is," he tells
us, "their fleeting on the water: for as in a secret murther, if the
dead carkasse bee at any time thereafter handled by the murtherer,
it will gush out of blood, as if the blood were crying to the heaven
for revenge of the murtherer, God having appointed that secret
supernaturall signe, for triall of that secret unnaturall crime, so
it appeares that God hath appointed (for a supernaturall signe of
the monstrous impietie of Witches) that the water shall refuse to
receive them in her bosome, that have shaken off them the sacred
water of Baptisme, and wilfully refused the benefite thereof: No, not
so much as their eyes are able to shed teares (threaten and torture
them as you please) while first they repent (God not permitting them
to dissemble their obstinacie in so horrible a crime) albeit the
women-kind especially, be able otherwayes to shed teares at every light
occasion when they will, yea, although it were dissemblingly like the

Such are the chief features of this gross superstition, as detailed by
the writers of the period in which it most prevailed in this country.
_Scot_ has taken infinite pains in collecting, from every writer on
the subject, the _minutiæ_ of Witchcraft, and his book is expanded
to a thick quarto, in consequence of his commenting at large on the
particulars which he had given in his initiatory chapters, for the
purpose of their complete refutation and exposure; a work of great
labour, and which shows, at every step, how deeply this credulity had
been impressed on the subjects of Elizabeth. _James_, on the other
hand, though a man of considerable erudition, and, in some respects, of
shrewd good sense, wrote in defence of this folly, and, unfortunately
for truth and humanity, the doctrine of the monarch was preferred to
that of the sage.

When such was the creed of the country, from the throne to the cottage;
when even the men of learning, with few [486:B]exceptions, ranged
themselves on the side of the Dæmonologie, it was highly judicious
in Shakspeare, in his dramatic capacity, to adopt, as a powerful
instrument of terror, the popular belief; popular both in his own
time, and in that to which the reign of Macbeth is [487:A]referred.
And, in doing this, he has shown not less taste than genius; for in the
principal authorities to which he has had recourse for particulars;
in the _Discoverie_ of _Scot_, in the _Dæmonologie_ of _James_, and
even in the _Witch_ of _Middleton_, a play now allowed to have been
anterior to his own drama, the ludicrous and the frivolous are blended,
in a very large proportion, with that which is calculated to excite
solemnity and awe. With exquisite skill has he separated the latter
from the former, exalting it with so many touches of grandeur, and
throwing round it such an air of dreadful mystery, that, although the
actual superstition on which the machinery is founded, be no more,
there remains attached to it, in consequence of passing through the
mind of Shakspeare, such a portion of what is naturally inherent in the
human mind, in relation to its apprehensions of the invisible world of
spirits, such a sublime, though indistinct conception of powers unknown
and mightier far than we, that nearly the same degree of grateful
terror is experienced from the perusal or representation of _Macbeth_
in modern days, as was felt in the age of its production.

In the very first appearance, indeed, of the Weird Sisters to Macbeth
and Banquo on the blasted heath, we discern beings of a more awful and
spiritualised character than belongs to the vulgar herd of witches.
"What are these," exclaims the astonished Banquo,—

    ——————————— "What are these,
    So wither'd, and so wild in their attire;
    That look not like the inhabitants o' the earth,
    And yet are on't? Live you? or are you aught
    That man may question? You seem to understand me,
    By each at once her choppy finger laying
    Upon her skinny lips:—

      _Macb._               Speak, I charge you.

      _Banq._ The earth hath bubbles, as the water has,
    And these are of them:—Whither are they vanish'd?

      _Macb._ Into the air; and what seem'd corporal, melted
    As breath into the wind."

Even when unattended by any human witnesses, when supporting the
dialogue merely among themselves, Shakspeare has placed in the
mouths of these agents imagery and diction of a cast so peculiar and
mysterious, as to render them objects of alarm and fear, emotions
incompatible with any tendency towards the ludicrous. But when,
wheeling round the magic cauldron, in the gloomy recesses of their
cave, they commence their incantations, chanting in tones wild and
unearthly, and heard only during the intervals of a thunder-storm,
their metrical charm, while flashes of subterranean fire obscurely
light their haggard features, their language seems to breathe of hell,
and we shrink back, as from beings at war with a