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Title: Shakespeare and the Stage - With a Complete List of Theatrical Terms Used by Shakespeare - in His Plays and Poems, Arranged in Alphabetical Order, - & Explanatory Notes
Author: Jonas, Maurice
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                          Transcriber’s Notes

This e-text is based on the printed edition of ‘Shakespeare and
the Stage,’ by Maurice Jonas, from 1918. Inconsistent spelling and
hyphenation have been retained, but punctuation and typographical
errors have been corrected.

Illustrations, as well as facsimiles of book titles and exemplary
book pages, have been moved between two paragraphs for reasons of
clarity and comprehensibility. As a consequence, page references for
illustrations have been removed, because in most cases they are no
longer consistent with the original. Some title lines of the facsimile
pages seem to be cropped at the upper end. These errors originate from
the printed book; the rest of the titles cannot be retrieved.

The chapters in the original book have been numbered inconsistently;
the correct numbering scheme has been applied to this electronic

Repeated, missing or inconsistent quotations have been adopted from the
original without modifications. No changes have been made to passages
copied from Shakespeare’s plays by the author; some suspected errors
have not been corrected.

Special characters have been used to highlight the following font

    italic:       _underscores_
    bold:         =equals signs=
    black letter: ~tilde characters~
    spaced:       +plus signs+

Caret symbols (^) precede superscript characters in the original; small
caps have been transformed into regular uppercase letters.


                       SHAKESPEARE AND THE STAGE

[Illustration: The interior of the Swan Theatre. Drawn by De Witt in

                             AND THE STAGE


                             MAURICE JONAS


                          WITH ILLUSTRATIONS


                           DAVIS AND ORIOLI
                           24 MUSEUM STREET

                          PRINTED IN ENGLAND
                       BY THE WESTMINSTER PRESS,
                     411A, HARROW ROAD, LONDON, W.



    The Early Drama                                                    1

    Inn-Yards                                                          9

    The Theatres                                                      24

    London Theatrical Companies                                      141

    Shakespeare as an Actor                                          184

    Court Performances                                               203

    Theatrical Allusions                                             233


    The Interior of the Swan Theatre                      _Frontispiece_

                                                           _Facing page_

    A Stage Play in Progress at an Inn-yard                           12

    A Typical Inn-yard in Elizabethan Times, used by the Players      12

    The Swan Theatre. From Visscher’s Map of London, 1616             81

    The Plot of England’s Joy                                         86

    The Rose Theatre or the First Globe Theatre                       87

    Frontispiece to James Howell’s Londinopolis, 1657, showing the
    position of four London Theatres, circa 1600                      96

    The Second Fortune Theatre, 1621                                 113

    The Red Bull Theatre                                             117

    Facsimile of an Admission Ticket to the Roman Coliseum           120

    Ticket of Admission to the Red Bull Theatre                      120

    The Second Globe Theatre, 1614, and the Hope                     121

    The Palace of Whitehall                                          206

    Banqueting Hall and Holbein Gate, Whitehall Tiltyard in
    foreground                                                       206

    Greenwich Palace in the time of Elizabeth                        216

    Interior of the Middle Temple Hall                               227

    Interior of the Old Inner Temple Hall                            228

    Facsimile of Passage in Manningham’s Diary, referring to
    Twelfth Night                                                    228

    Interior of Gray’s Inn Hall                                      231

    Jocasta: A Tragedie written in Greek by Euripides                232

    Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, and
    Tragedies                                                        233



The beginning of the English drama dates from a late period in the
history of this country. Until the reign of Elizabeth, dramatic
literature was really non-existent. During the Middle Ages, the
religious drama held complete sway over the populace, producing such
an abiding effect that no other kind of performance was tolerated. In
England the first germs of a dramatic nature emanated from the church,
chiefly in connection with the festival at Eastertide. At this time
of the year the ritual was solemnized in a highly theatrical fashion.
Processions marched round the sacred edifice, various scenes from the
Gospels were introduced, accompanied by music and song. The festivals
of Christmas and Corpus Christi were observed with great enthusiasm,
sacred episodes taken from church history were acted with such fervour
and ecstasy that the congregation remained spellbound during the

The next development in the evolution of the drama is the
representation of the liturgical play, written in Latin, gradually
being superseded by the religious play written in the vernacular; the
scenes depicted consisted chiefly of episodes in connection with the
Birth of the Saviour, also of events narrating the Lives of the Saints,
together with other legendary characters.

All these scenes were called Miracle Plays, a name by which in this
country all religious dramas were known, regardless of the origin of
their source. In course of time these first offshoots of the ordinary
service had grown to such dimensions that it was found impracticable
that these spectacles should be presented inside the church,
consequently, a larger space outside was deemed more convenient,
but still remaining within the precincts. Even this innovation was
not entirely successful, as the ground allotted for the performance
was not extensive enough for the numerous throng that assembled on
these occasions. Then a further step was taken by transferring the
scene of action from the sacred precincts to the open spaces within
the town. The development of the drama was greatly accelerated by
this innovation. During the period that these plays formed part of
the religious service, the clergy only were allowed the privilege of
assuming the different characters, but when spectacular episodes were
added to the ordinary ritual they became secularized by calling in
the aid of the various guilds, assisted by professional entertainers.
By these means the plays gradually lost their religious significance,
finally being regarded as a popular form of amusement. By an act of
Pope Gregory in 1210, the priests were forbidden to officiate in these
interludes in any capacity, even if held inside the church. After the
act had been confirmed by the Council of Trent in 1227, the clergy were
strictly prohibited from joining the open-air performance.

The important Festival of Corpus Christi, founded by Pope Urban IV
in the year 1264, was ratified years later by the Council of Vienne
strictly enforcing its celebration. In England this very Corpus Christi
day was, above all others, chosen for the representation of important
plays composed in dramatic form chiefly from events connected with the
religious history of the civilized world. There are extant several
groups of plays which, during the Middle Ages, were regularly performed
before appreciative audiences. Four of these “cycles” as they were
termed, namely, the York, Townley, Chester, and Coventry plays, have
been published and edited by competent scholars. The York cycle
contains forty-eight pieces, most of which are derived from biblical
subjects. These plays were written during the fourteenth century, and
were acted by members of the different guilds.

In the “Ordo Paginorum” of 1415 a detailed list is given of the whole
forty-eight interludes. “The order of the Pageants of the Play of
Corpus Christi in the time of the mayoralty of William Alne, in the
third year of the reign of Henry V, anno 1415, compiled by Roger
Burton, town clerk.”

Forty-eight different Companies took part in this pageant, commencing
with the Tanners and ending with the Mercers. These crude compositions
were still being exhibited during the greater portion of Shakespeare’s
lifetime; their total suppression followed in the first decade of the
seventeenth century. Although these plays continued until so late a
date, signs of their waning interest were apparent in the last quarter
of the sixteenth century, when a more ambitious type of drama gradually
superseded the old Morality play. The New Comedy displays more
inventive genius in dramatic construction, together with greater skill
in treating the literary dialogue, and a wider sympathy and ingenuity
in the development of character, thus appealing to a more educated
section of the public. The first real comedy written in the English
language is entitled “Ralph Roister Doister,” and was composed about
the year 1550. By this composition an enormous stride in advance was
made compared with earlier dramatic pieces.

Many of the characters are moulded on classical models, whilst others
still bear traces of an allegorical nature. Other plays quickly
followed based on similar types. The first English tragedy called
“Gorboduc or Ferrex and Porrex,” produced about this period, was
likewise founded on classical lines. Henceforth the Miracle play was
doomed, and hereafter budded forth a new drama, the full blossom
thereof culminating in the immortal works of William Shakespeare.

The construction of the open-air stage, where the Miracle plays were
exhibited, totally differed from any kind of stage adopted by Europeans
for the last three hundred years. The inn-yard performance presents
a greater likeness to our present theatre than the primitive shows
represented before our ancestors of the Middle Ages compared with the
inn-yard performances. These Miracle plays were performed for over
three centuries, and formed the only dramatic fare of the English
people during this long period. The Miracle play can fitly be described
as an isolated production, the successive stages can be plainly
regarded as an organic whole, beginning with birth, developing into
maturity, eventually drifting into decline and decay, finally ending in
total extinction. The plays of a later date, and the conditions under
which they were produced, owed little or nothing beyond a trifling debt
to their forerunners.

When the Miracle plays emerged from the church and became secularized,
the performances took place in the open streets. These exhibitions
consisted of two kinds, one being stationary, and generally acted in
the market place, or other convenient open space, such as the village
green, or they were divided into separate stations or points, or as we
should now say districts, each station being visited by the several
pageants or movable stages, which formed a kind of processional
ceremony. The actual acting place was a kind of platform resting on
trestles, with planks thrown across; this primitive stage was fixed
on wheels and was drawn by horses from one street to another, and as
they arrived at each station a performance was given. By this method
a large concourse of people could witness the entertainment in ease
and comfort. What a contrast in comparison to a performance of a Greek
play, when twenty thousand people were seated in a public theatre
and watched with enthusiasm and delight the tragic masterpieces of
Æschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and the biting satirical comedies of
Aristophanes, and pray remember that these great plays were written and
performed about two thousand years before these puny dramatic efforts
of our own people. In large towns like York, sixteen stations were
erected to satisfy the demands of the public. In a small town about
three or four would supply all needs. At Coventry the latter number
proved sufficient. Six stations are mentioned in a pageant acted at
Beverley. The length and duration of the plays varied at different
places. Three days were allotted to the Chester plays, other towns
managed in quicker time, finishing their programme in a single day.

These one-day performances usually commenced at daybreak. Newcastle
was not quite so enthusiastic, conforming more with our modern ideas,
commencing their pageant a little after mid-day, corresponding almost
with our matinée. The most trustworthy account of a performance of a
Miracle play is that described by Archdeacon Roger, who witnessed one
of the plays at Chester during the Whitsun holidays in the year 1594.

“Every company had his pageant, or parte, which pageants weare a high
scafolde with two rowmes, a higher and a lower, upon four wheels. In
the lower they apparelled themselves, and in the higher rowm they
played, beinge all open on the tope that all behoulders mighte heare
and see them. The places where they played them was in every street.
They begane first at the abye gates, and when the first pageant was
played it was wheeled to the high crosse before the mayor, and so to
every streete and soe every streete had a pageant playinge before them
at one time, till all the pageants for the daye appointed were played,
and when one pageant was neare ended, worde was brought from streete to
streete that so they might come in place thereof exceedinge orderlye
and all the streets have their pageants afore them, all at one time
playinge together, to see which plays was great resorte, and also
scafoldes and stages made in the streets in these places where they
determined to play their pageants.”

The Miracle plays are frequently mentioned by Chaucer, a verse in the
Miller’s Tale included among the Canterbury Tales, informs us how
Joly Absolom, the parish priest, played Herod “in a Scafolde hie.”
Shakespeare refers to the ranting of the actors that prevailed in these
entertainments in the proverbial phrase “out Herod’s Herod,” Herod
being a well-known character in the Miracle play. May we not indulge in
the fancy that John Shakespeare took his eldest son, William, over to
Coventry to witness one of these shows, this town being distant only a
few miles from Stratford-on-Avon?

In a most fascinating book written by the late Professor Haigh, of
Oxford University, entitled _The Attic Theatre_, the author gives an
exhaustive and detailed account of the ancient Greek theatre from
the earliest times until its extinction. After the perusal of this
admirable work, the reader may well be amazed at the paucity of
reliable information concerning our own theatre. The distinguished
author analyses each of his statements with remarkable accuracy before
pronouncing judgment. The wealth of illustration brought to bear on the
subject is truly remarkable, placing before the reader an exact account
of how a play was produced in those remote times by graphically
describing the conditions with such minuteness and intelligence that
the reader can visualize the acted play from the printed page. Many
other points of a theatrical interest are discussed in this fascinating
book, which should be read by everyone who takes the least interest
in the drama. After studying this detailed account of theatrical
events, existing so many centuries past, we naturally expect from the
innumerable writings of the Elizabethan age an ample and exact account
how a play was represented during that era. Unfortunately in this
instance our expectations will remain unrealized, stage history not
being deemed worthy of chronicling in those spacious times.

Professor Lawrence, of Dublin, is specially to be congratulated on his
brilliant articles and essays in Shakespearean dramatic and theatrical
subjects. It would be a consummation devoutly to be wished if the
erudite author would undertake to write a history of the early stage on
the same lines as adopted by the author of _The Attic Theatre_.


Reproduced by kind permission of Professor G. P. Baker.]



When Shakespeare first arrived in London, which is now generally
assigned to the year 1586, there existed in the Metropolis two
permanent theatres, called respectively The Theatre and The Curtain.
Shakespeare’s dramatic connection with the stage commenced probably
about 1590, but where his first plays were produced records are found
wanting. Personally I am strongly in favour of his early plays being
acted at the Theatre. Students are agreed that Shakespeare joined
the company of actors known as the Earl of Leicester’s servants, in
which the celebrated Burbages, both father and son, were included. The
first named was the builder and manager of The Theatre; therefore, the
inference is quite logical that Shakespeare acted in the playhouse to
which his company was attached.

Before the public theatres were erected the actors set up their stages
at the inn-yards, and many early and important plays were presented
in these places. That acting took place in these localities is beyond
question, and it is within the bounds of possibility that Shakespeare’s
earliest contributions to the drama may have been first produced in
these impromptu play places, otherwise inn-yards.

The names of several of these London inn-yards are well known, both
from contemporary literature and documentary records; unfortunately
little information can be gleaned of their connection with the
drama. These resorts were fairly well suited for stage plays. The
fore part of the yard corresponded to the pit of a modern provincial
theatre, with the exception that standing room only was provided.
The galleries that surrounded the yard accommodated the better class
of spectators, probably a space at the back of the stage supplied the
needs of a dressing room. How the play was produced, the manner in
which the scenes were indicated, the number of stage properties used
and other details connected with the drama are questions that cannot be
satisfactorily answered; the historian in search of full information
on these subjects seeks in vain. However much we may deplore the loss
of written documents elucidating this period of our early drama, we
possess proof that the acting companies of the Earl of Leicester, Lord
Strange, the Admiral’s and other noblemen’s companies frequently gave
performances in these places. Although Southwark, the pleasure seeking
resort of Londoners, was plentifully supplied with inn-yards, many
becoming quite famous, namely, The Tabard, White Hart, Cross Keys,
George, and several others, there exists no record or reference that
any company of actors set up their stage in any one of those taverns
named above. As already stated, little is known of the conditions
under which theatrical companies acted in those impromptu places of

In connection with these taverns one great difficulty arises of a
rather perplexing nature, namely, how was the money collected during
one of these performances? Devoid of any reliable information, every
reader who is interested in the question must work out a theory for
himself, relying on his own conclusion for the solution. My own
particular theory is that, whenever the players announced a performance
they hired the premises for the afternoon, with the right of charging
admission for anyone entering the yard or the rooms in the gallery
surrounding the building. As these last could be entered through the
inn proper, money takers were stationed at the door or doors of all
the private entrances and also at the place where the general public
entered. In confirmation of the above, an account of a quarrel may
be quoted from Halliwell-Phillipps’s “Illustrations to Shakespeare”:
“Whilst the Queen’s players were performing at Norwich a man named
Wynsdon endeavoured to gain admission without payment. An altercation
ensued, during which the money box was upset. The disturbance had a
tragic sequel, so far as regards the originator of the quarrel, as
he received a sword thrust from one of his pursuers, from which he
succumbed.” The above written testimony proves that some kind of system
existed, whereby money could be taken at the doors before gaining
admission. The entire subject of plays produced at inn-yards requires
special treatment by a trained Shakesperean scholar. The subject is
a difficult one, necessitating patient research, exact knowledge of
sixteenth century theatrical customs and much leisure, but finally the
student will be amply rewarded by the interest and fascination which
the theme evokes. Printed matter has been ransacked in the hope of
throwing light on the subject, but with poor results. Original research
among the MSS. of the British Museum and the documents stored at the
Record Office must be henceforth the order of the day. Considering so
little is known in connection with this interesting subject, reference
to similar theatrical conditions in Spain during the Elizabethan
period may interest the reader. In Madrid plays were performed in a
corral, which, in Spanish, signifies a courtyard of a private house,
corresponding in England to our inn-yard. The stage was erected at the
back of the yard, in all cases being a movable one, the majority of
the audience viewing the performance standing in the court-yard. From
the windows of the surrounding houses the better class of spectators
watched the play. The entire building was open to the sky, fine weather
being absolutely necessary for a continuous performance.

Two years before a permanent theatre was erected in London, these
“corrals” were partly roofed, besides providing seats and benches. An
awning was thrown across to protect the spectators in the unroofed
courtyard from the glare of the sun. From these facts it will be noted
that from 1574-1576 theatrical performances were given in Madrid under
better conditions than those of any other country. Regular organized
theatres did not exist in France, Italy, Russia, or any other European
city except England and Spain until the beginning of the seventeenth
century. Although for a short period Spanish playgoers were provided
with more comforts than any other known theatre, the honour of erecting
the first organized theatre in Europe must be awarded to English

The chief taverns with inn-yards in which the different companies
of actors pitched their tents are seven in number, although several
others, whose names are unrecorded, were similarly used for the same
purpose. The seven known are “The Bull,” in Bishopsgate Street; “The
Bull,” “Cross Keys,” and “The Bell,” in Gracechurch Street; “The Belle
Savage” on Ludgate Hill; “The Boar’s Head,” in Eastcheap, and “The
Boar’s Head” in Aldgate Without. “The Bell” was situated in Gracechurch
Street. A reference to this inn is mentioned in the Revel’s Account:
“A well counterfeit from ‘The Bell’ in Gracious Street.” This and
two others are the only known references to this tavern being used
as a playhouse. Even this quotation is rather vague. Probably “the
well” refers to a play called “Cutwell,” which was performed at Court
during Shrovetide, 1577, by the Earl of Warwick’s company, the actors
having previously appeared at “The Bell” in the same piece.

[Illustration: Reproduced by kind permission from Professor G. P.
Baker’s _The Development of Shakespeare as a Dramatist_, The Macmillan
Company, New York, 1907.

A Stage Play in progress at an inn-yard.]

[Illustration: Reproduced by kind permission of Professor G. P. Baker.
A typical inn-yard in Elizabethan times used by the players for the
acting of their plays.]

This event is mentioned by Richard Rawlidge in a tract entitled “A
Monster lately found out, or scourge of Tipplers,” published in 1628.
Prynne also mentions this inn in a pamphlet against stage plays in
1632. The best known resort of the actors during the latter part
of Elizabeth’s reign was “The Bull” in Bishopsgate Street, being
frequently noticed in documents and literature. “The Bull” stood on the
left hand side of Bishopsgate Street going towards Shoreditch from the
west, exactly opposite St. Helen’s Place, formerly known as Little St.
Helen’s. This inn luckily escaped the great fire in 1666, a disaster
of such magnitude that, fortunately, has not befallen any other famous
city of such great renown and dimensions. “The Bull” remained _in situ_
two centuries after that disastrous event, only to be pulled down by
the iconoclasts of our own day in 1866.

There exists a letter from the Earl of Warwick, dated July 1st,
1582, addressed to the Lord Mayor of London, in which he requests
that his servant, John Davis, may be allowed to play at “The Bull,”
in Bishopsgate Street. In answer to a second letter from the Earl
of Warwick, the Lord Mayor still refuses the license on account of
the plague. The restrictions in connection with the theatres in time
of plague were very stringent. By command of the Authorities, all
places of amusement were immediately closed if more than thirty deaths
occurred during the week. On cessation of the plague the theatres,
by permission, resumed their normal course. In the last years of the
sixteenth century, Anthony Bacon, brother of the celebrated Francis
Bacon, occupied lodgings near “The Bull,” much against the wish of his
mother, who feared that his servants might be corrupted by living so
near the scene of dramatic entertainment. This same inn was the resort
of Hobson, the well-known Cambridge carrier. In one of the rooms hung
his portrait with a hundred pound bag under his arm; underneath was
written “The Fruitful Mother of a Hundred more.” The next notice is
one of great importance and interest, containing a definite statement
of a play being acted at “The Bull,” besides naming the title of the
play, “An excellent Jest of Tarlton’s suddenly spoken at ‘The Bull’ in
Bishopsgate Street.”

“There was a play of Henry the Fifth, wherein the Judge was to take a
box of the eare, and because he was absent that should take the blow,
Tarlton himselfe, ever forward to please, tooke upon him to play the
same Judge, and Kenel then playing Henry the Fifth, hit Tarlton a sound
boxe indeed, which made the people laugh, the more because it was he,
but anon the Judge goes in and immediately Tarlton, in his clownes
cloathes, comes out and asks the actor what news? O, saith one, hadst
thou been here thou shouldst have seen Prince Henry hit the Judge a
terrible box of the eare. What, man, said Tarlton, strike a judge! It
is true in faith said the other. No other like, said Tarlton, and it
could not be but terrible to the Judge when the report so terrifies
me that methinks the blow remains still on my cheeke that it burns
againe. The people laughed at this mightily, and to this day I have
heard it commended for rare, for no marvel, for he had many of these.
But I would see our clowns do the like in these days, no I warrant
ye, and yet they thinke well of themselves too.” The play in which
the prince strikes the judge is taken from “The Famous Victories of
Henry the Fifth containing the Honourable Battell of Agincourt. As it
was played by the Queens Majesties Players, London. Printed by Thomas
Creede, 1598.” A unique copy of this book is in the Bodleian Library.
This play is much earlier than Shakespeare’s “Henry the Fifth,” and
may be considered the source out of which Shakespeare created one of
his great masterpieces. Gosson, in his “School of Abuse,” published in
1559, refers to a comedy entitled “The Jew,” performed at “The Bull,”
describing the “greediness of worldly chusers and venomous minds of
Usurers.” There is hardly a shadow of a doubt that this play is the
same on which, many years later, Shakespeare founded his own “Merchant
of Venice.” The plot of the “worldly chusers,” or what is now termed
the “casket scene,” is related in the _Gesta Romanorum_ a collection
of tales and jests written originally in Latin, an English translation
of which existed, _circa_, 1515, printed by the famous Wynkyn de
Worde, several reprints appearing between 1571-1601. I possess a copy
in black letter dated 1672, proving the popularity of the book during
many generations. The Bond, or pound of flesh, story is taken from a
collection of tales called “Il Pecorone by Ser Giovanni Fiorentino,”
written in the year 1378; the first printed edition appeared in 1558.
A copy of this rare book is in the Grenville collection, bequeathed by
the owner to the British Museum. I was thus able to read the story in
the beautiful original edition. I possess a copy of this book, which
formerly belonged to Professor Dowden, bearing the imprint “In Milano,
1554,” with the name of the publishers of the genuine edition of 1558,
four years previously to the genuine first edition. This imprint is a
false one, the entire book being issued in 1740. I also possess a thick
quarto edition of a book entitled _The Orator_, containing one hundred
discourses on various subjects. In each essay the pros and cons of the
case in dispute are thoroughly investigated after the manner of books
on rhetoric, which were fashionable with the early Greek writers.
Declamation numbered 96 strikingly resembles the trial scene in the
“Merchant of Venice”; this book may have been read by Shakespeare
before he composed the “Merchant of Venice,” which is assigned by most
students to the year 1597. The Declamation opens as follows: “Of a Jew
who would have for his debt a pound of flesh of a Christian.” Spenser,
the famous poet, when writing to his friend, Gabriel Harvey, the
well-known Cambridge scholar, signs himself “He that is fast bound unto
thee in more obligations than any merchant of Italy to any Jew there.”
This letter was in reply to one of Harvey’s, dated 1579; enclosed
therein was a whimsical bond between the two friends in allusion to the
bond of the Jew in the play. Evidently these two students had witnessed
a performance of the Jew at “The Bull,” in which the bond story played
a prominent part. When Shakespeare’s play was entered at Stationer’s
Hall the description ran thus: “A book of the Merchant of Venyce or
otherwise called the Jew of Venyce.” John Florio, an Italian refugee,
refers to “The Bull” in a book called the _First Frutes_, published
in 1578: “Shall we go to a playe at ‘The Bull’ or else to some other
place?” By the above reference plays continued to be acted at inn-yards
even after the erection of public theatres.

“The Bell Savage” was situated on the north side of Ludgate Hill,
immediately outside the City gates. The site is now occupied by the
publishing firm of Cassell and Co. This inn is included in the five
enumerated by Rawlidge, where stage plays were enacted. The inn is not
mentioned by name, but simply as one on Ludgate Hill. Stephen Gosson
notes that at this inn two prose plays were acted, further adding that
these plays were free from all immorality and obscenity. “The two
prose plays played at ‘The Belsavage.’ Where you shall find never a
word without wit, never a line without pith, never a letter placed in
vain. Neither with amorous gestures wounding the eye, nor with slovenly
talk hurting the ears of the chaste hearer.” George Gascoigne, in
the prologue to one of his plays, called the “Glass of Government,”
1575, refers to this inn: “The Belsavage fair as affording merry jests
and vain delights.” In Lamborde’s “Perambulation of Kent” there is
another reference to this inn as a place of amusement: “Those who go
to Paris Garden, the Belsavage or Theatre to behold bear baiting,
interludes, or fence plays must not account of any pleasant spectacle
unless they first pay one penny at the gate, another at the entry of
the scaffold, and a third for a quiet standing.” In Shakespeare’s play
of “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” in answer to a question a boy replies:
“Why, sir, is this such a piece of study the dancing horse will tell
you.” This horse, named Morocco, was a famous draw in Elizabethan
times, being shown at “The Bull,” in Bishopsgate Street. One Banks, a
Staffordshire man, exhibited him throughout England and a great part
of the continent. When in Rome, Banks and his horse were supposed to
have been burnt for witchcraft, but this is doubtful. The author of
the above statement is Ben Jonson, in one of his epigrams, “Old Banks
the Juggler and his learned horse burned beyond the sea.” Morocco was
a bay horse and performed some very clever tricks; amongst them was
counting how much money was in a man’s purse, signalling the answer
by stamping with his hoof an equal number of times as there were
coins in the purse. When his master told him to fetch the veriest
knave in all the company he would always make towards his own keeper,
thereby causing much merriment. The well-known Elizabethan dramatist,
Thomas Dekker, mentions him as the dancing horse who stood on the top
of Saint Paul’s whilst a number of asses stood braying below. Many
writers of the period refer to this animal, and he may well be dubbed
the literary horse. A curious tract, entitled “Moroccius Extaticus,
or Bank’s Bay Horse in a Trance,” with a woodcut depicting the horse
on his hind legs and two dice in front of him, was published in 1596.
Three copies of this pamphlet are known, one is in the British Museum.
The Huth exemplar, sold in 1911, fetched £110. I read the copy in the
British Museum, but nothing is related about the horse. The book is a
political satire on the land question. The name of the La belle sauvage
has given rise to many ingenious guesses respecting the derivation, and
Stow says the owner was named Isabella Savage and that she bequeathed
the inn to the Cutlers’ Company. _The Spectator_ would name it after
a French play entitled “La Belle Sauvage.” Another states it was
christened after Lady Arabella Savage, with a sign of a wild man and
a bell. By the discovery of a document the matter was finally set at
rest, wherein it was stated that the tavern was known as “Savage’s
Inn,” otherwise called “The Bell on the Hoop.” By degrees the two names
became confused, eventually becoming known as “The Bell Savage.”

“The Cross Keys” stood on the north side of Gracechurch Street,
adjacent to the well-known Elizabethan tavern “The Queen of Saba,”
kept by the Queen’s famous jester, Richard Tarlton. Many said he was
a frequent visitor at “The Cross Keys” in order to note the fashions
of the day, not in apparel only, but in manners, morals and customs
of the period. This inn is not mentioned by Rawlidge as one of the
public inn-yards where plays were performed before the year 1580. We
catch a glimpse of “The Cross Keys” by an order of the Lord Mayor,
dated November, 1589, forbidding the players acting in the City on
account of having appeared in a controversial play in connexion with
the Martin Marprelate affair. This Marprelate question occupied a
similar position amongst the Elizabethan public as the Pusey tract
controversy in mid-Victorian days. The discussion ranged over a
theological question which was taken up by the dramatists of the Tudor
period, with much acrimonious feeling and much throwing about of brains
on both sides. Shakespeare abstained from taking part in this fierce
and bitter controversy. When the order was executed only two companies
were playing in the City, The Admiral’s and Lord Strange’s men, the
latter company included Shakespeare as a member. Both companies were
promptly summoned before the Court. The Admiral’s men obeyed the
summons, but Lord Strange’s company deliberately refused and acted the
same afternoon at “The Cross Keys.” Again they were summoned, and two
of their number committed to prison. “The Cross Keys” was certainly one
of the City’s regular play places, in proof of which the same company,
but under different patronage, is found five years later playing in
this identical inn-yard. A petition to the Lord Mayor, dated October
the eighth, 1594, emanating from Lord Hunsdon, who was then Lord
Chamberlain, prays the Lord Mayor if he would allow his players to
continue acting at “The Cross Keys,” “where my company of players have
accustomed for the better exercising their quality and for the service
of Her Majesty, if need so require, and may your Lordship permit and
suffer them so to do the which I pray you, rather to do for that they
have undertaken to me, that there heretofore they began not their plays
till towards four o’clock they will now begin at two and have done
towards four o’clock and five, and will not use any drum or trumpet at
all for the calling of the people together, and shall contribute to
the poor of the parish where they play according to their abilities.”

This is one of the few authentic notices concerning Lord Strange’s
men setting up their stages at an inn-yard. If it could be proved
definitely that “The Cross Keys” was their principal place of acting
between the years 1589-1594, then we must be prepared to admit that
many of Shakespeare’s early plays were first acted under these
primitive and rough and ready conditions. I am not an adherent of this
theory, holding the opinion that all his plays were first produced
at regular built theatres; afterwards there may have been a revival
performance at inn-yards for want of better accommodation, but all
this is very problematical. Not possessing any records designating
the actual place of the first performance of Shakespeare’s plays, we
are forced, therefore, to indulge in speculative theories. As I have
repeatedly stated, this important question has not been sufficiently
investigated, and a monograph on the subject by a Shakesperean scholar
would be specially welcome.

At “The Cross Keys,” Banks exhibited his wonderful performing horse.

The most famous of all inns where plays were acted was unhesitatingly
“The Boar’s Head,” in Eastcheap, exactly where now stands the statue of
William the Fourth. The old site was swept away when the new approach
was made to London Bridge. The only instance of a play being produced
there is fortunately extant, and is contained in a letter to the Lord
Mayor from the Lords of the Council, dated March 31st, 1608, granting
permission to the servants of the Earl of Oxford and the Earl of
Worcester to play at “The Bore’s Head,” in Eastcheap. This letter is
preserved in the “Remembrancia,” a collection of papers now safely
housed in the Guildhall. On the succession of James the First the
Worcester men became the servants of Queen Anne, the consort of the
King. Among the Calendars and State Papers is a licence for the actors
to perform plays in their usual houses, “The Curtain” and “The Bore’s
Head.” This tavern is, above all others, specially renowned, as it
was here that Shakespeare selected as the meeting place of Falstaff,
Prince Hal, and their boon companions. The tavern is alluded to in
Shakespeare’s play of “King Henry the Fourth” in the following lines:
“Doth the old boar feed in the old Frank,” and Bardolph answers: “At
the old place, my Lord, in Eastcheap.”

Several inns existed in this locality, namely, “The Plough,” “The
Chicken,” “The Three Kings,” and many others, but none with any
sign that could be confounded with “The Boar’s Head.” The nocturnal
roysterings of Prince Hal are not the invention of the poet. Stow
relates how the Prince, with his two brothers, created such a riot
in Eastcheap that they were brought before the magistrate. William
Gascoigne, the Chief Justice, required the Mayor and Aldermen for
the citizens to justify the Prince’s arrest and put themselves in
the King’s grace. The Aldermen answered they had done their best
according to the law to maintain the peace, therefore the Chief
Justice in the King’s name remitted his ire and dismissed them. This
William Gascoigne is the same judge who, according to tradition, was
struck in the face by Prince Hal, whereupon the Prince, at the Judge’s
order, was committed to the King’s Bench. Maitland, the historian of
London, states that an inscription under the sign of “The Boar’s Head”
notified that “this is the chief tavern in London.” The original inn
was burnt to the ground in the great fire, immediately being rebuilt,
and having for its sign a large boar’s head of stone, with the date
underneath--1668; the sign is now exhibited in the crypt of the
Guildhall. This second building was likewise destroyed, but in this
instance not by fire, being demolished when an improvement scheme was
formed for the widening of the approach to London Bridge. Many years
before its demolition, this tavern had been converted into two houses,
numbered respectively 2 and 3, Great Eastcheap; one of these houses
was occupied by a gunsmith. A curious relic of “The Boar’s Head” is a
carved figure about 12 inches high representing Falstaff. This figure
stood on a bracket placed on one side of the doorway, outside the inn,
another figure of the same period representing Prince Hal, stood on the
opposite side. A water-colour drawing of Falstaff was presented to the
Guildhall by Mr. Burgin, Dean of Chichester. A more important memento
of this inn is a carved boxwood bas-relief of a boar’s head, set in a
circular frame formed by the tusks of two boars, mounted in silver.
An inscription at the back reads “Wm. Brooke, Landlord of ‘The Bore’s
Head,’ Eastcheap, 1566.” The relic was sold at Christie’s in 1855, and
is now in the possession of Mr. Burdett Coutts. In Shakespeare’s time
the landlord at “The Bore’s Head,” was one John Rhodway, of Ventnor,
who was buried in the churchyard of St. Michael’s, Crooked Lane,
1623. This church was also demolished in making improvements in this
district. There are several allusions to this tavern in the literature
of the day; one of special significance is mentioned in Gayton’s
_Festivous Notes_, 1654: “Sir John of ‘The Bore’s Head,’ in Eastcheap.”
Was it a coincidence or of a set purpose that Sir John and his wild
companions assembled at this inn for their midnight revels? There was
another “Boar’s Head” in Southwark, the property of a real Sir John
Falstaff, who died in 1460.

“The Red Bull” in Clerkenwell is mentioned, by Larwood and Hotten in
their history of sign-boards, as a place where the players acted. This
is surely an error, as “The Red Bull” was always a regular playhouse
from its opening in 1600 until all the theatres were closed by Act of

A “Boar’s Head” tavern existed in Aldgate Without, where plays were
represented. The following notice is copied from the Harleian MSS.,
No. 285: “At St. James’s the V day of September, 1557, A letter to the
Lord Mayor of London to give order forthwith that some of his officers
do forthwith repair to the Boreshed Without Aldgate, where the Lords
are informed a lewd play called ‘A sack full of News’ shall be played
this day, the Players whereof he is willed to apprehend and comit to
safe warde, until he shall hear further from hence and to take their
playbooks from them and to send the same hither. At Westr. the VI day
of September, 1557.” Neither this inn nor the one of the same name in
Eastcheap is mentioned by Rawlidge. The number of taverns in the City
of London at this period must be reckoned by hundreds, most of them
having inn-yards adjoining the premises, thus affording a convenient
acting place for the players. That so many inns abounded in London
may account for the meagre notice taken of them, scenes of everyday
occurrence being less likely to be chronicled than events which rarely



Unfortunately for lovers of Shakespearean drama no vestige of any early
Elizabethan theatre exists; in some instances even the very sites are
forgotten; in others, the plots of ground on which each theatre stood
are disputed. When the Shakespeare Reading Society placed a tablet
on the site of the first Globe Theatre, the handsome bronze plaque
was erected on the south side of Park Street, which has lately been
proved to be a palpable error, the real site of this historic building
being situated on the north side. The localities where stood the early
English theatres have changed so out of all recognition during the last
two centuries that only an antiquarian who has access to old deeds can
with any degree of certainty fix the limits of old houses and public
buildings. Nothing remains to-day but the bare names of the streets,
indicating in a few cases the places of entertainment in Elizabethan
times. During Shakespeare’s lifetime there existed in London eleven
regular theatres, a brief account of each of these will be chronicled
in the following pages:


The first public theatre in London was situated in the parish of
Shoreditch and quite appropriately named “The Theatre.” When visiting
to-day this depressing neighbourhood, similar districts being dotted
over all the London area, an observer immediately concludes that the
governing authorities of the London districts must be a most corrupt
body; how else can one account for the state of the filthy slums and
the appalling ignorance of the inhabitants? Which, after all, is
not so surprising when only the gorgeous gin-palace is allowed to
flourish. As for demolishing a slum alley, perish the thought! It
would offend the aristocratic and titled owner, whose property must be
protected at all costs. If I were on a Board Council, not only would
I confiscate the property and quickly sweep it off the face of the
earth, but would heavily fine and imprison the owners as being pests to
society. Shoreditch, God help us! is an awful place. The thought that
Shakespeare’s plays were first produced in this neighbourhood seems
to cast a stigma on his name, and that the present state of affairs
should exist after three hundred years of social progress! Something is
rotten in the parish of Shoreditch. How could any modern institution
or artistic building flourish in such a fetid and vicious locality,
where the London County Council only permits the public-house to flaunt
its vile face before the public gaze. A new terror is now added to the
grand historic city of London and its outer boundaries by the glaring
posters of the Cinema theatre depicting every sort of horrid crime so
that a stranger must conclude that Englishmen are for the most part
thieves and vicious characters, caring for little else but scenes of a
most depraved nature.

Until quite recently the site of the theatre was identified with
a plot of ground formerly occupied by Deane’s Mews, situated in
the neighbourhood of the present King John’s Court. This site had
never been questioned until the appearance of the London County
Council pamphlet giving the details where the structure was erected.
Halliwell-Phillipps first described the site as being on the Deane’s
Mews property in his Illustrations to Shakespeare. The pamphlet
mentioned above is the work of Mr. W. W. Braines, whose untiring
efforts and keen critical research have succeeded in revealing the
exact spot on which the first theatre was erected. For years past I
had searched in vain for Deane’s Mews but without success; in fact,
this place was becoming to be regarded as a myth, no one having heard
of such a name. A friend of mine, Mr. Charles Edwards, a fellow member
of the Stock Exchange, had presented me with a handsome folio volume,
giving details of all improvements in the Metropolitan area within the
last fifty years. This compilation has been enriched with a wealth
of plans, exact measurements and the necessary explanatory notes
reflecting the greatest credit on the accomplished editor, Mr. Percy
Edwards, a brother of my friend. On referring to this book I found
Deane’s Mews plainly marked, which stood about 200 ft. south of the
true site. The Mews was swept away in the construction of Gt. Eastern
St. in 1873-76, and its site is now covered by the latter thoroughfare.

On leaving the City at the junction between Wormwood Street and
Camomile Street, where formerly stood the gate entrance to the City,
called Bishopsgate, we will proceed down Bishopsgate towards Norton
Folgate, thence passing into High Street, Shoreditch. From the High
Street we soon reach New Inn Yard, turning up this lane, at a distance
of 120 yards we arrive near the site of The Theatre, which was situated
about fifty feet north of this street and within a few feet of the
east side of the Curtain Road. In earlier times this district formed
part of the celebrated Holywell Priory. A detailed account of this
ancient abbey would be a welcome addition to the ecclesiastical and
topographical history of London. I hope this little volume from which
the above details are taken will be consulted by all Londoners, a
perusal of which might instil into their minds a greater interest in
the past history of their wonderful city. Actual experience teaches me
that few people take any intelligent interest in the subject or any
other which does not in some particular manner add to their commercial
prosperity. Naturally, where so many neglect the pleasures of the
mind, the ignorance and stupidity of the majority of the people pass
unnoticed, otherwise any person totally unacquainted with the history
of the City of London would be looked upon as a common lout, fitting
only to herd with the base-minded.

I know from actual experience that few people take any intelligent
interest in this great and all-absorbing subject. I have, alas, met
several so-called educated men and women who have freely acknowledged
that they are quite indifferent concerning the history of the past,
although no subject of any importance can be thoroughly discussed
without allusion to previous events. This attitude almost of revulsion
exhibited by so many people for past history must have some deeply
based reason for its existence. Many would explain this contempt for
the past by the greater attraction of the wonderful world of science
and mechanical transport. In my opinion, the real cause of this feeling
is that the greater part of the population set up their idols to the
worship of sport, which the public schools and universities ever
delight to honour, and which, in my mind, is a public scandal which
should be inquired into, and the authorities that encourage such wild
orgies, severely reprimanded. The fascinating study of literature
and art fill no void in the daily routine of their lives, a state of
affairs greatly to be regretted; the welfare of the future generation
rests with the teachers of the elementary schools, who should endeavour
to foster in the young a genuine love for literature and all the arts
that tend in elevating the mind. My enquiry why so few take any
interest in these refining studies is generally met with the foolish
and ill-bred answer that no immediate benefit is derived from these
studies, as if the delights of the mind can be gauged by material

One more parting shaft. A governing corporation that sanctioned the
demolition of Crosby Hall ought themselves to be demolished, or at
least hounded out of the City by the citizens that placed them in power.

Although this theatre was situated outside the City boundary, the
distance from the Metropolis was so short that Londoners were able
to reach their destination without undue discomfort and fatigue.
Notwithstanding that The Theatre was surrounded by fields, this
obstacle proved to be of a negligible quantity. The novelty of the
building and the vigorous dramatic force of the plays appealed to a
populace ever seeking for amusement, and made this playhouse a success
from its inauguration until its final destruction nearly a quarter
of a century later. Londoners of to-day would consider any place
surrounded by fields a pretty fair distance from the Metropolis, but
towards the end of the sixteenth century the country could be reached
in about a quarter of an hour by sharp walking from any point in the
City, which at that date constituted London proper. The reason that
Burbage, the proprietor, sought a locality for his projected theatre
outside the centre of the business life of the City was primarily
on account of the intense puritanical hatred against all theatrical
entertainments, the mark of the beast being shown by the Lord Mayor
and Corporation, who threatened with ejectment all the players from
the City. The crisis came in 1576, when an order was promulgated by
which all places of amusement were to be closed. This order principally
affected all inn-yards where plays were held, also bear and bull
baiting establishments. Driven almost to desperation, the players
resolved on quitting the City before the order was set in motion.
James Burbage, one of the leading actors in the Earl of Leicester’s
Company, was by trade a joiner, and quite appropriately the builder
of the first organized theatre not only in England but in modern
Europe. This momentous decision proved of untold benefit in the course
of the development of the drama, besides protecting his company from
molestation and persecution. This almost inspired act prepared the
way for the mighty genius who holds the world in awe, who was thus
able to profit by this vast improvement and decisive innovation in
the dramatic world. By taking this bold step the object of the City
Fathers was completely frustrated, and their deep-laid schemes, in
which the poor player was to be totally annihilated, recoiled on their
own heads. The new venture was an instant success, instilling into the
drama fresh blood and a long lease of life, daily growing more popular
and prosperous and drawing within the charmed circle every class of
citizen, with the exception of the puritan brigade.

The site chosen by Burbage for his first theatre was within the
precincts of the ancient Priory of Holywell, a celebrated landmark in
early Tudor times. The Priory was an ancient foundation originally
built in the second decade of the twelfth century. The ground on which
it stood was bequeathed by a Canon of St. Paul’s to a religious body
of women known as the Benedictine Nuns. The building remained in their
possession until the total suppression of all monastic orders in this
country by the Mandate of Henry the Eighth. The Dissolution began about
the year 1538, but the total extinction of the Abbey, including the
Chantries, Chapels, and Churches, was not finally accomplished until
ten years later. The last notice of the Priory as a living centre
can be traced to the year 1539, when Sybilla Newdigate, the prioress,
delivered up her house to the King. The suppression of the Monasteries
was one of those drastic acts by which means the King defied the
spiritual and temporal power of Rome, and proclaimed to the English
people that he alone was supreme head of the Church in England.

The origin of the name Holywell is traceable to a well which existed
in the parish of St. Leonard’s, Shoreditch, early in the twelfth
century. The exact site of this well is unknown, but somewhere in
close proximity to the new theatre. One authority states explicitly
that it is discoverable, but now concealed from view in the present
Bateman’s Row. An interesting relic of the ancient Priory can still be
seen in the shape of an old stone wall about 50 ft. long, in a timber
yard in High Street, Shoreditch. I must candidly admit that I have not
seen this relic, but its existence is vouched by excellent authority.
Immediately succeeding the Dissolution, the Priory was demolished
and let out on building leases to various tenants. Stow, the London
historian, writes: “Thence up to the late dissolved Priory, called
Holywell, a house of Nuns. The Priory was valued at the Suppression
to having lands £293 by year and was surrendered in 1539. The Church
thereof being pulled down, many houses have been builded for the
lodging of noblemen, of strangers and of others.” When the old Abbey
was portioned into estates, one important lot fell into the hands of
Henry Webb, who eventually disposed of it to Christopher Bumsted, who
disposed of the same property to Giles Allen, from whom James Burbage
took over a lease in 1576. All the minute particulars respecting the
site of The Theatre are mostly due to a protracted lawsuit between
Giles and Burbage, the records of which have been fortunately
preserved, and were made public by J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps. The
lease granted by Giles to Burbage contained a curious clause to the
effect that Burbage was willing to accept a lease for twenty-one
years provided that, at the termination of that period, the said
Burbage, having expended the sum of not less than two hundred pounds
on the building in the course of ten years, should have the option of
taking down and removing the same to any locality he might select. A
further clause also provided for an extension of the lease after the
expiration of 21 years. For the present we will pass over the first 21
years and come to the critical year in the affairs of this playhouse.
When the first lease was on point of expiry, James Burbage commenced
negotiations for an extension of time, but unfortunately, while these
particulars were being discussed, the original lessee, James Burbage
died. By his will the interest of his Shoreditch property devolved
upon his two sons, Richard and Cuthbert, the former being the famous
actor; of the latter little is known, he may have been an actor in his
brother’s company. The two sons, in an interview with Allen, the owner
of the property, now demanded afresh an extension of the lease, Allen
would have acceded to their request provided they paid an additional
ten pounds a year and further stipulated that after five years from the
signing of the new lease they must be prepared to use the property for
other purposes than theatrical entertainments.

The new lease was never signed; nevertheless, for a brief period the
Burbages remained in possession. No one will deny but that the tenants
had a very uncomfortable and insecure tenure of the premises. The
lessees must have realized the perilous position of their tenancy,
which was liable to foreclosure at any moment. Being faced with this
predicament they hit upon a desperate remedy. As stated above, a
clause was inserted in the original lease whereby they had the right
in pulling down and removing the said building. No sooner had they
resolved upon this expedient than the plan was quietly carried into
effect, thereby causing the lawsuit with Giles Allen, and incidentally
throwing light on the early annals of the theatre. The following
paragraph is an extract from Allen’s Bill of Complaints against
Cuthbert Burbage, who “unlawfully combining and confederating himself
with the said Richard Burbage and one Peter Street, William Smith, and
divers other persons to the number of twelve, to your subject unknown,
did about the eighth and twentieth day of December, in the one and
fortieth year of your Highness’ reign, and since then your Highness’
last and general pardon by the confederacy aforesaid notoriously
assemble themselves with divers and many unlawful and offensive
weapons as namely, swords, daggers, billes, axes, and such like, and
so armed did then repair unto the said Theatre, and then and there
armed as aforesaid in very riotous, outrageous and forcible manner,
and contrary to the laws of your Highness’ realm, attempted to pull
down the said Theatre whereupon divers of your subjects, servants
and farmers, then going about in peaceable manner to procure them
from that their unlawful enterprise, that the said riotous persons
aforesaid, notwithstanding procured then thereon with great violence,
not only then and there forcible and riotously resisting your subjects,
servants and farmers, and also then and there pulling down, breaking
and throwing down the said Theatre in very outrageous and violent and
riotous sort to the great disturbance and terrifying, not only of your
subjects, said servants and farmers, but of divers others of your
Majesty’s loving subjects there near inhabiting and having so done did
then also in most forcible and riotous manner take and carry away from
thence all the wood and timber thereof unto the Bankside in the parish
of St. Overyes and there erected a new playhouse with the said timber
and wood!”

All the world knows that the said new playhouse was the famous Globe
Theatre, the glory of the Bankside and the scene of Shakespeare’s
everlasting creations. Stow, the historian of London, in the first
edition of the Survey of the City of London, mentions The Theatre by
name in the following paragraph: “The church thereof being pulled
downe, many houses have been builded for the lodging of noblemen of
strangers borne and other. And neare thereunto are builded two publique
houses for the acting and shewe of Comedies, Tragedies and Histories
for recreation. Whereof the one is called the Courtein, the other the
Theatre, both standing on the Southwest side towards the field.” The
last few lines from “Whereof to field” were omitted in the second
edition in 1603. The learned editor of the latest and best edition of
this famous book, Charles Kingsford, M.A., by a slip of the pen, in a
note to this passage, refers to the Curtain as having been demolished
in 1600; of course, it should be the Theatre, and the date should
be 1598. The field mentioned by Stow formed part of the well-known
Finsbury Fields, the playground of Elizabethan Londoners; these fields
abutted on Moorfields, which formed the boundary of North-East London.
Many citizens took advantage of these open fields and used them as a
short cut to the playhouse, generally going thither on horseback. This
manner of approaching the playhouse may account for the tradition that
Shakespeare on his first arrival in London held horses outside the

Sometime in 1576 the players were safely installed in the new
building, notwithstanding the removal from the precincts of the City,
persecution soon dogged their footsteps, inaugurated by a bitter attack
from the puritan section of the community. The onslaught came from a
clergyman in a book entitled _A Treatise against Dicing, Dancing and
Interludes with other idle pastimes_, published in 1577. The author
of this venomous tirade rebuking all kinds of amusement was John
Northbroke, a preacher and procurator for the Bristol Clergy in the
Synod of London. The tract is in the form of a dialogue between Youth
and Age.

“Youth. Do you speak against these places also which are made up and
builded for such plays and interludes as The Theatre and Curtain are
and other such like places tendes.”

“Age. Yea, truly for I am persuaded that Satan hath not a more speedy
way and fitter school to work and teach his desire to bring men and
women into his snare than these places and plays and theatres are, and
therefore necessary that these places and plays should be forbidden and
dissolved and put down by authority.”

One of the earliest references to the recently built theatres was made
by Thomas Wilcox, a notorious divine, on December 9th, 1576, whose life
will be found in the _Dictionary of National Biography_. He referred to
the Theatre and the Curtain as “those sumptuous theatre houses.”

The earliest references to The Theatre, by name, is mentioned in an
order of the Privy Council, dated 1st August, 1577, “for the avoiding
of the sickness likely to happen through the heat of the weather and
assemblies of the people of London to plays,” measures should be taken
that “such as are and do use to play without the Liberties of the City
... as the theater and such like, shall forbear any more to play until
Mighelmas be past.”

After an interval of one year from the Rev. Northbroke’s outburst
another preacher mounted the pulpit, delivering a vigorous sermon in
denunciation of “The Theatre.” This divine was a schoolmaster named
Stockton, headmaster of Tonbridge School, where he held indisputable
sway, widely known as a severe disciplinarian, and a writer of many
devotional works. The following is an extract from a sermon preached
at St. Paul’s Cross: “Have we not houses of purpose built with great
charges for the maintenance of them, and that without the Liberties,
as who shall say ‘There let them say what they will we will play.’ I
know not how I might with the godly learned especially more discommend
the gorgeous playing places erected in the fields than term it as they
please to have it called a Theatre. Will not a filthy play with a blast
of a trumpet sooner call thither a thousand than an hour’s tolling
of the bell bring to a sermon a hundred? Nay, even here in the City,
without it be at this place and some other ordinary audience where you
shall find a rehearsal of company, whereas if you visit to the Theatre
the Curtain and other places of players in the City you shall on the
Lord’s Day have their places with many other that I cannot reckon so
full as possible they can throng.”

In most ages, even the present one, the clergy have persistently set
their faces against play acting without sufficiently analysing the
reasons for their embittered attacks, therefore their testimony must be
accepted as prejudiced partisans, which neither voice the view of the
populace nor of the cultured classes. Contemporary records afford ample
proof that the stage was frequented by all sorts and conditions of
people, the rowdy section seeming to predominate, only the puritanical
section, chiefly composed of the middle classes, kept aloof. The
popularity of the drama, acclaimed by the upper classes, saved it from
complete annihilation, otherwise the authorities would have banished
every player beyond the City walls. The sole cause of hatred against
the players can only be accounted for by the strong puritanical feeling
existing in the breasts of the City Fathers, which expressed itself in
denouncing with unseemly rage and bitterness any kind of entertainment
in which the citizens evinced the slightest pleasure. Any pretext,
however flimsy, was seized upon with avidity, thereby exhibiting their
petty spite against the players. When the plague raged the theatres
were closed. If any act of disturbance occurred the theatres were
closed. On Saints’ days, Holydays and Festivals the theatres were
closed. Orders were frequently issued permitting stage plays only
on certain days in the week. Every device was instituted in their
endeavour to persecute the poor player, but, in spite of all these
tyrannical enactments, the drama continued to flourish exceedingly,
attracting hundreds of people who found employment in connexion with
the stage.

Another early reference to the Theatre is found in a volume of a
contemporary author. John Florio, an Italian refugee, who instructed
the English aristocracy in the niceties of the Italian language, in
a book entitled _Dialogues and Proverbs First Frutes_, published in
1578, is the following passage: “We will go into the Fields. Let us go
to the Theatre to see a comedie. What pastimes are they in England on
holidays? Of all sortes of pastyme, as Comedies, Tragedies, leaping,
dancing, playes of defence, Baiting of Beasts, etc.” The above
paragraph is in the form of a dialogue. This reference is rarely met
with, I believe Mrs. Carmichael Stopes was the first to point it out.
“In the year 1580, Burbage was summoned before the Middlesex Court on a
charge of bringing together unlawful assemblies of people to hear and
see certain colloquies or interludes called plays, exercised by James
Burbage and divers other persons unknown, at a certain place called
The Theatre, in Halliwell, in the aforesaid county. By reason of which
unlawful assembly of the people great affrays, assaults and tumults
and quasi-insurrections and divers other misdeeds and enormities have
been then and there done and perpetrated by very many ill-disposed
persons to the great disturbance of the peace.” This statement is a
gross exaggeration, but its very overstatement suffices in explaining
the attitude the authorities assumed in the extreme measures adopted
by them in suppressing play-acting. How unfair and unjust appear the
means by which a body of English magistrates endeavoured to abolish
theatrical institutions. No statement was too false, no lie uttered was
deemed sinful; the airiest motive was seized upon with eagerness if
by such means any discredit was cast upon the acting fraternity. For
years they were harassed, tormented and bandied about from place to
place, and this persecution lasted even whilst the greatest dramatic
literature of all time was daily being represented before an ever
increasing and admiring public.

For this drastic treatment we may seek some condonement and
extenuating circumstances in the religious belief of the country,
the people being chiefly guided by the clergy, who instilled in them
the belief that all things connected with the stage were injurious
and harmful to the community. Imbued with these ideas the clergy
considered themselves justified by using every means in their power
in overthrowing and abolishing the stage out of the kingdom. Many of
these reverend fanatics were admitted on the Council of Administration,
who continually persisted in their endeavours to oust the players,
at any rate, out of the City; in furtherance of their plans they
preached the sinfulness of the drama in order to drive away the people
from the playhouses. Their pleadings were partially successful; by
continual exhortations they succeeded in poisoning the minds of the
middle classes, who accordingly absented themselves from all places of
amusement. The chief patrons of the drama were drawn from the upper
and lower classes much in the same way as the Turf to-day exercises on
the same classes, the middle class in this instance displaying great
good sense and morality by staying away from such an unhealthy and
discreditable amusement.

Although the Corporation were powerful enough in forcing the players
from places under their control, they were powerless in suppressing
play-acting during the entire reigns of Elizabeth and James. The year
1584 was memorable on account of a disturbance which occurred outside
the Theatre, thereby causing the assembly of a great crowd. Quickly
seizing this event as an excuse, the authorities petitioned that this
building and the Curtain should be pulled down. The Court considered
the punishment too drastic; nevertheless, the Corporation persisted,
eventually obtaining letters ordering the demolition of both theatres:
“Upon Sunday my Lord sent 2 Aldermen to the Court for the suppressing
and pulling down of the Theatre and Curtain for all the Lords agreed
thereunto, saving my Lord Chamberlain and Mr. Viech, but we obtained a
letter to suppress them all. Upon the same night I sent for the Queen’s
players and my Lord Arundel his players, and they all well nigh obeyed
the Lords’ letters. The chiefest of her Highness’ players advised me to
send for the owner of the Theatre, who was a stubborn fellow, and to
bind him. I did so. He sent me word that he was my Lord Hunsdon’s man,
and that he would not come to me, but he would in the morning ride to
my Lord. Then I sent the under Sheriff for him, and he brought him to
me, and at his coming he shouted me out very Justice, and in the end I
showed him my Lord his master’s hand, and then he was more quiet, but
to die for it he would not be bound. And then I, minding to send him to
prison, he made suit that he might be bound to appear at the Oyer and
determined the which is to-morrow, where he said he was sure the Court
would not bind him, being a counselor’s man, and so I have granted
his request, where he shall be sure to be bound or else is like to do

Again, for fear of riots, official notices were distributed that
the Theatre be closed. “There shall be no plays at the Theatre or
other usual place where the same are commonly used.” These orders
were frequently circulated; whether they were put into execution is
doubtful. Considering the restrictions that hemmed around the poor
player, Shakespeare’s lament that through ill-fortune he became a
player need cause no surprise, considering the persecution that was
directed against the theatrical profession.

A passage in Dante’s “Inferno” might, with slight alterations, exactly
fit the actions of our own civic authorities during the reign of
Elizabeth. “As in the Venetian Arsenal, the pitch boils in the winter
time wherewith to caulk their rotten ships. But, looking down into
the chasm, I could see nothing except the bubbles that its boiling
raised. And as I looked at it fixedly and wondered, my guide drew me
back hastily, saying, ‘Look! look!’ And when I turned I saw behind us
a black devil come running along the rocks. Oh, how wild his face,
oh, how bitter his action, as he came with his wings wide, light upon
his feet, on his shoulder he bore a sinner grasped by both haunches,
and when he came to the bridge foot he cried down the pit: ‘Here’s an
Alderman from the City of London; put him under that I may fetch more
for the land is full of such.’”

Before the total destruction of The Theatre there is a reference to the
“unfrequented Theatre” in Skialetheia, a series of satires entered in
the Stationers’ Register on the 15th September, 1598.

The literature of the day barely mentions the name of The Theatre,
yet this building had flourished for over a period of twenty years.
Stow mentions the Theatre once, only to be withdrawn from his second
edition, possibly the sour old Puritan, condemned in his heart all play
acting, and fervently desired the expulsion of all actors, plays, and
their authors from the domain of the City. The antiquary, Stow, may
well represent a type of the better class citizen utterly unsympathetic
with the new drama, and entirely adverse to all kinds of amusement.
This prejudiced feeling may account for the complete silence in any of
his works of theatrical life, which during his time was daily growing
into importance and significance. We have explained the silence of the
old topographer, but how can we interpret the passing over of this
side of London life by all literary coteries. The Metropolis swarmed
with writers of books and pamphlets dealing with contemporary events,
most of the authors were connected with the theatrical world, yet you
may search in vain thousands of books in the expectation of finding
any critical or explanatory notices of the stage. The conspiracy of
silence is so well maintained that we are left almost unacquainted with
theatrical conditions which governed the Elizabethan stage, whilst of
the Greek stage which flourished over two thousand years previously we
have minute particulars in all its branches. Why such a great novelty,
as an enclosed theatre should not have been freely discussed, written
about, and above all, criticised, remains one of the mysteries of the
age? Fortunately, a few foreigners from among the throng who visited
these shores jotted down their experiences of London, including therein
the amusements of the town, not forgetting to describe briefly a list
of theatres.

No drawing, print, or any kind of illustration depicting the first
theatre erected in London has been handed down to us. Under these
circumstances conjectural reconstruction of its walls is quite
permissible, although extreme caution is necessary when guided by
imaginary probabilities. The information we possess regarding the later
theatres may in some measure help us in forming a fairly accurate
account of the early theatres. A period of over twenty years had
elapsed between the building of The Theatre and that of the Fortune;
concerning the latter, interesting details are forthcoming. Between
these dates the type may have altered and improvements been introduced,
which is only natural considering the long interval. We obtain our
first glimpse of the early theatre buildings from quite a most
unexpected quarter.

Samuel Kiechel, a foreigner, visited England in 1585. On his arrival
in London he patronised several places of amusement, recording in his
Diary the impressions and facts of his journey. The following extract
is taken from his published journal; the notice about the stage
only concerns us. “There are some peculiar houses in which are so
constructed that they have about three galleries one above the other.
It may indeed happen that the players take from £10 to £12 at a time,
particularly if they act anything new, when people have to pay double.
And that they perform nearly every day in the week, notwithstanding
that plays are forbidden on Friday and Saturday; this prohibition is
not observed.”

Contemporary literature informs us that the exterior of The Theatre
was round, either hexagonal or octagonal, differing little from the
illustrations as shown in maps of the period. Nash, in the _Unfortunate
Traveller_, writes: “I saw a banquetting house belonging to a merchant
that was the marvel of the world. It was built round, of green marble
like a Theatre without.”

As will be seen above, only scraps of evidence are available in piecing
together the reconstruction of The Theatre; as regards the interior
absolutely nothing definitely is known beyond the important statement
that three galleries surrounded the building. The first theatre was not
solely devoted to dramatic entertainments, as records exist of fencing
matches and other exhibitions of skill taking place there. Stow, the
historian, notes that “activities were produced within its walls.” The
word “activities” denotes tumbling, rope dancing, vaulting and other
acrobatic feats. Halliwell-Phillipps publishes a letter dated July
1st, 1582, from the Earl of Warwick to the Lord Mayor and Aldermen,
requesting them to allow his servant, John David, to play at “The Bull”
in Bishopsgate Street, or in some other convenient place. On the 23rd
of the same month the Earl again wrote to the Lord Mayor complaining of
the treatment and disgrace put upon his servant in not being allowed
to play for prizes after the publication of his bills. The following
day the Earl received a reply from the Lord Mayor saying he had not
refused permission for his servant to play for prizes, but had granted
him a licence, only restraining him from playing in an inn for fear of
the infection, and had appointed him to play in an open space at the
Leaden Hall. Not having availed himself of the permission for fourteen
days, and the infection increasing, it became necessary to prohibit the
assembly of the people to his play within the City, but permission had
been granted him to perform in the open fields. “I have herein yet
further done for your servant what I may, that is that if he may obtain
lawfully to play at The Theatre or other open place out of the City, he
hath and shall have my permission with his company, drums and show, to
pass only through the City, being not upon the Sunday, which is as much
as I may justify in this season, and for that cause I have with his own
consent appointed him Monday next.”

Another reference occurs in the following year, in which the Lord
Mayor writes to the Justice of the Peace, praying for the assistance
of the Corporation in preventing a breach of the peace by refusing
the people permission to congregate about “The Theatre.” Gosson, in
both his prose works, _The School of Abuse_ and _Plays Confuted in two
Actions_, mentions two plays usually produced at the Theatre, namely,
“The Blacksmith’s Daughter” and “Cataline’s Conspiracy”; the former is
mentioned in _Plays Confuted_ and the latter in _The School of Abuse_,

The most interesting notice in connexion with plays acted at The
Theatre will be found in a paragraph from Thomas Lodge’s book entitled
_Wit’s Miserie or the World’s Madness_, 1596, in which a reference
is made to the old play of “Hamlet,” whose authorship is generally
assigned to Thomas Kyd, the writer of the famous “Spanish Tragedy,”
the most popular drama of the Elizabethan period. Shakespeare himself
refers to this play more than once. Although the old “Hamlet” is lost
there are excellent grounds for presuming that this play is the main
source of Shakespeare’s supreme masterpiece of “Hamlet,” the greatest
achievement in the dramatic literature of the world. The paragraph
in reference to the Theatre reads as follows: “He looks as pale as
the vizard of the ghost which cries so miserably at the Theatre like
an oysterwife Hamlet revenge.” The Theatre is again referred to by
Middleton in the Black Book, 1604: “He had a head of hair like one of
the devils in Dr. Faustes when the old Theatre cracked and frightened
the audience.”

A foreign prince visited these shores in 1596, and wrote a poem in
commemoration of the event, dated the same year as his visit. He writes
that London possesses four theatres, which are utilized not only for
dramatic purposes but for baiting of bulls, besides cock fighting.
Another early reference to The Theatre occurs in a rare pamphlet
called “Tarlton’s Newes out of Purgatory,” published without date,
but definitely known to be printed either in 1590 or earlier. The
passage is as follows: “And forsooth upon Whitsun Monday last I would
needs to the Theatre to a play when I came I found such a concourse of
unrulye people that I thought it better solitary to walk in the fields.
Feeding my humour with this fancy, I stept by Dame Anne of Cleares well
where after I had rested awhile I fell asleep.” Nash, the dramatist,
mentions Tarlton as playing at the Theatre in a pamphlet named “Pierce
Penilesse,” 1592. Stow, in his survey of London, mentions this well;
the origin of the name is founded on a sordid story of old London. A
rich London widow, named Annis Cleare, who, matching herself with a
riotous courtier in the time of Edward II, who vainly consumed all her
wealth and leaving her in much poverty, there she drowned herself,
being then but a shallow ditch or running water. Mr. Kingsford, in his
learned edition of the Survey, notes “that this well was near Paul’s
St., Finsbury, in the neighbourhood of which there still is a St.
Agnes Terrace. The name of St. Agness Clare Fields continued till a
hundred years ago.” I wandered all over this district in the hope of
finding St. Agnes Terrace, but my search was fruitless. On my return
I consulted the London County Council’s directory of the Streets of
London, and after looking through that ponderous volume for over one
hour, I found that the terrace was formerly a part of what is now
Tabernacle Street, the old name being abolished in 1884.

During the early years of the theatres the stage was merely a platform,
which could be easily removed when necessary; as before mentioned, the
theatres were used for other than dramatic performances. The stage
platform jutted out far into the yard, the technical name for the
space allotted to the audience. The spectators who occupied this part
of the building were called the groundlings. The yard surrounded the
platform on three sides, the stage buildings occupying the fourth,
the audience reaching up as far as the barrier, which divided the
stage from the auditorium. The roof was open to the sky, the actors
protecting themselves from the elements by erecting a kind of lean-to
or pent-house, sloping down from the tiring house; this contrivance
was technically called the “Heavens” or “shadow,” either thatched or
tiled. At the rear of the stage was the tiring-house, sometimes used
as an inner-stage, when not required by the actors, and was concealed
by a curtain. Above the inner stage stood a balcony, flanked on both
sides by rooms for noblemen or gentry. These special places were known
as the Lords’ rooms. Over the second story rose a turret, from which
commanding view a flag fluttered announcing the immediate performance
of a play. Only two doors of entry were considered necessary, one in
front of the house admitting the audience to the yard and galleries,
and a second situated at the back of the building, used by the actors
and better class of spectators who occupied the expensive seats. The
reason for the limited number of doors can be explained by the terms of
agreement between the lessee and the actors. Burbage did not lease his
theatre to a company of actors, but shared the risk of the undertaking
with them, receiving for his share the money taken for the galleries,
the players dividing among themselves the rest of the proceeds. This
arrangement, in course of time, was subject to alterations. The same
system, with slight variations, was adopted in all theatres during the
Shakespearean era.

The chief action of the play took place on the outer stage, no curtain
of any description concealing this part of the stage either before or
after or during the performance, the only curtain or tapestry in lieu
of a curtain noticeable was that dividing the inner from the outer
stage, and even beyond Shakespeare’s time this ever open stage existed.
When the Theatre was first erected in 1576 there may have been no
inner stage, and the entire change of properties may have been placed
in sight of the audience. The Theatre was built entirely of wood, and
only good fortune must have saved the building from being destroyed
by fire. The Theatre, no doubt, stood in its own grounds, and this
isolated position accounts for its withstanding the accidents which all
wooden buildings are more or less subject. All performances in a public
theatre were enacted during the day time, in the afternoon between the
hours of two and five or three and six. The theatre, not being lighted,
necessarily enforced the closing of the play before dusk. The acting of
a play lasted between two to three hours; a Shakespearean drama would
take nearer three than two hours to perform, sometimes even longer,
even in those days the blue pencil was liberally used, many passages
being cut, not on account of dramatic propriety but merely to shorten
the performance. On entering an Elizabethan theatre the first object
that met the eye of the spectator was a placard announcing the name of
the play for the afternoon. Although theatre posters were put up in
different parts of the City and on the theatre walls, informing the
public of the date of a given play, unforeseen circumstances sometimes
prevented the advertised play being performed. Unfortunately none
of these bills has survived. How interesting would be the perusal
of the play bill announcing the first performance of “Hamlet.” That
these placards were affixed to posts is corroborated by the following
anecdote related by Taylor, the water-poet, in one of his pamphlets.
“A merchant was riding down Fleet Street at a great pace, when he was
stopped by an actor, who questioned him as to the name of the play
being acted. The merchant was indignant at being thus waylaid, and
asked the man why he had stopped him; the answer he made was ‘I took
you for the post you went so fast.’”

How a play was presented before a public audience when first produced
at The Theatre cannot be satisfactorily solved, the subject dealing
with all branches of theatrical customs, has never been thoroughly
investigated, owing chiefly to want of the necessary literary
materials; every writer on the subject may thus air his theories
without much fear of contradiction, the critics themselves disagreeing
how far scenic decorations had advanced during the Shakespearean era.
Though the little we do know on this thorny subject would seem to
militate against scenery of any description being employed, I have
always held the opinion that the stage was not so bare of scenic
effects as most historians of the early stage would have us believe.
Stage properties of every size and description were extensively used by
all companies of players of any importance. With respect to the stage,
the general view maintained is that the outer stage or platform of The
Theatre closely resembled the stage of a French theatre during the
performance of a play of Molière’s; in that case the Elizabethan stage
would be absolutely bare with the exception of a table and a couple
of chairs. Experience convinces me that in the course of time this
theory will be thoroughly revolutionized, and proof will be forthcoming
that scenic effect with certain limitations, flourished during the
Shakespearean age.

As previously stated, the title of the play was exhibited on the stage,
printed or written in large text letters. Some writers affirm that the
title was exposed in full view of the audience from the balcony of the
stage. Exact confirmation on these minor details cannot be expected.
When the play advertised on the posts differed from the one actually
performed, the playgoer was entitled to have his money refunded
provided he quitted the theatre.

Three blasts of a trumpet announced the beginning of a play, and a
flag was displayed flying from the turret showing that a play was in
progress. The spectators in the yard, being unprovided with seats, were
left standing during the entire performance.

I remember years ago visiting a theatre in Vienna, where a musical
comedy was acted, and where all the occupants of the _parterre_, or
pit, viewed the play standing, as no seats of any kind were provided in
this part of the theatre.

How a change of scene was notified, if indeed any change was made,
nothing definitely is known. The most likely plan adopted lacking
painted scenery, would be by what is technically known as locality
boards, something resembling the device employed by the modern music
hall artist engaged in character sketches. A board is placed in a
prominent position of the stage in full view of the audience with the
name of the character assumed by the performer, the board being changed
on each separate occasion when a different character is assumed.
Apply this method in the changing of the scene in an Elizabethan
theatre and then you can better understand Shakespeare’s exhortation
in his prologues of “Henry V” when he urges the audience that their
imagination must fill up the void caused by want of necessary scenery.
To our modern notions the number of scenes in a Shakespearean play
is quite bewildering; the very number precludes the idea that the
scene was changed at all. The question is such a difficult one, and
of such an intricate and technical nature that further discussion at
our present state of knowledge would only confuse the reader without
providing him with a key for its solution.

The primitive device of locality boards was sarcastically alluded to
by Sir Philip Sidney in his “Defence of Poesie”: “What childe is there
that coming to a Play, and seeing Thebes written in great letters on
an olde doore, doth believe that it is Thebes. You shall have Asia on
the one side and Africa on the other and so many other under Kingdoms
that the player when he cometh in must even begin with telling where
he is or else the tale will not be conceived. Now ye shall have three
ladies walk to gather flowers and then we must believe the stage to
be a garden. By and by we have news of a shipwreck in the same place,
and then we are to blame if we accept it not for a rock. Upon the back
of that comes out a hideous monster with fire and smoke, and then the
miserable beholders are bound to take it for a cave. While in the
meantime two armies fly in represented with four swords and bucklers,
and then what hard heart will not receive it for a pitched field.”

In reading the above paragraph the reader must bear in mind that this
ironical criticism was penned many years before Shakespeare commenced
his dramatic career. During the long interval several improvements
may have taken place in stage effects, so that a Shakesperean play
may have been produced under more promising conditions than Sidney’s
statement would allow.

An interesting chapter could be written explaining the mode of
payment existing at these times on entering an inn-yard or theatre
when a play was in progress. On the erection of the public theatres
our information, although scanty, becomes a trifle more definitive;
unfortunately no light is thrown on the methods in vogue at the
inn-yards, although we learn that payment was collected on entering a
theatre. As we should naturally expect, the system is different in many
respects from modern methods. From literary sources we gather that a
man, or even a woman, was stationed at the entrance door of a theatre,
in his hand he held a box into which everyone who entered dropped a
penny; note well that the money was always deposited in the box and not
handed over into the keeping of the boxholder, by which act we must
regretfully conclude that Elizabethan doorkeepers were in no way more
trusted than our ’bus and tram conductors of the present day, more’s
the pity! This preliminary payment admitted the playgoer into the yard,
where he could remain without further fee; if a more comfortable place
was desired, the disbursement of an extra penny provided for him a seat
or stool in the topmost gallery. At this stage we learn how the extra
money was collected. At each separate entrance of the different parts
of the house stood a doorkeeper, technically known as a “gatherer.”
This system of payment was adopted on account of the lessee of the
theatre sharing in the profits of the house instead of, as in modern
times, leasing the building into the hands of a third party, only
receiving the rent and taking no share in the proceeds of the house.

In a lawsuit respecting the different shares claimed by each
shareholder, Cuthbert Burbage, the son of the original builder of The
Theatre, states that his father, James Burbage, borrowed large sums of
money at interest with which he built the first playhouse known as The
Theatre. The players that lived in these times, 1576-1597, had only
the profits arising from the doors, but now the players receive all
the comings in at the doors to themselves. By the term “housekeepers”
is meant the proprietors, those that are responsible for the rent and
money laid out in connexion with the managing of a theatre.

The entrance fee for seats in the lowest tier of the gallery was
sixpence, twelvepence was the charge for a seat in the Lords’ room;
these boxes were partitioned off from the other seats in the lowermost
gallery. Rooms and boxes were also provided on each side of the
balcony, which formed part of the stage buildings; these seats were
also expensive, but in later years they were abandoned on account of
the poor view, and also for the evil repute into which they had fallen.
These high-price seats equalled the price of a stall at our present
West End theatres. Whether these charges ruled at all Elizabethan
theatres during the last decade of the sixteenth century cannot be
definitely affirmed, but considering the conservatism maintained in
theatrical customs, for generations, no doubt, only slight changes were
introduced. Whether seats were allowed on the stage of “The Theatre” is
nowhere recorded; most probably this was a much later custom. Even at
the Globe Theatre, built twenty years after the erection of the first
theatre, a well known historian of the stage positively asserts that
seats on the Globe stage for privileged spectators were practically

A list of plays acted at the Theatre would have been a valuable and
interesting document, but unfortunately no such account exists, in
place thereof we must be thankful for the known fragmentary records.
Gosson, in his _School of Abuse_, 1579, mentions the Blacke Smith’s
Daughter and Catalins Conspiracies “usually brought into the Theatre”;
he likewise refers to “the history of Cæsar & Pompey and the Playe of
the Fabic, at the Theatre.” The old “Hamlet” and Marlowe’s “Dr. Fauste”
were also produced there.

The last order issued against The Theatre appeared in 1597 from the
office of the Privy Council to certain of the Middlesex Justices to
the effect that “Her Majesty being informed that there are very great
disorders committed in the common playhouses both by lewd matters that
are handled on the stage, and by resort and confluence of bad people,
hath given direction that these playhouses that are erected and built
only for such purposes, shall be plucked down, namely, The Curtain and
The Theatre near to Shoreditch. They were accordingly commanded to send
for the owners of the Curtain theatre or any other common playhouse and
enjoin them by virtue hereof forthwith to pluck down quite the stages,
galleries and rooms that are made for people to stand in, and to deface
the same as they may not be employed again to such use.” This order was
never enforced, but henceforth the Theatre as a playhouse was doomed,
and after that year the actors quitted it for ever.

Many of the above details connected with the early theatres are derived
from innumerable lawsuits caused by disputes among people engaged at
the different theatres; these old cases have been unearthed and printed
_in extenso_. Another source of information is obtained from the
continual bickering, backbiting and petty annoyance emanating chiefly
from the City authorities. These purse-proud, pompous and puritanical
individuals endeavoured by any means and at all costs in suppressing
theatres, players and playwrights with their followers. Through these
jealousies, acrimonious actions, on both sides ensued, quite out of
harmony with the innocent recreations of play-acting. Actions at law
followed these unseemly outbursts, thanks to which we are indebted for
many details concerning the early theatres. From the beginning of the
history of the stage, the reader will observe that the players were
always prohibited from erecting a theatre within the City boundaries.
The favour of the Court saved the actors from being excluded altogether
from the City; proof of this last statement will be found in the many
instances of the actors setting up their stages in the yards of the
City taverns and inns all through the reign of Elizabeth.


Within the same year of the building of the first playhouse in London,
another appeared upon the scene. The plot of ground on which this
second building stood was called the Curtene, and the theatre adopted
this name, and not, as generally supposed, receiving its nomenclature
from any theatrical accessory. Whether this establishment claimed
rivalship with Burbage’s theatre, or was another speculative venture
of this energetic and far-seeing man remains unknown, as few records
exist in connexion with this second enterprise. Anyone in search of the
actual site of the Curtain theatre must walk up Holywell Lane until
the Curtain Road is reached, then turning on the left, proceed about
one hundred paces along this road until we arrive at Hewitt Street,
formerly known as Gloucester Street, and earlier still as Gloucester
Row. In George II’s reign this alley bore the name of Curtain Court,
and is thus named in Chassereau’s map of Shoreditch. On this very spot
stood the Curtain theatre. Even so accurate a scholar as Professor
Lawrence locates the theatre as being in Gloucester Street, whereas
this street has for several years been known as Hewitt Street.

London topography is at times very misleading, and requires the
proverbial patience of the time honoured prophet in unravelling many
of its mysteries. Not a single inhabitant of Shoreditch could direct
you to the site of the theatre and would stare in bewilderment if you
enquired for Gloucester Street, even so slight an error can cause
vexation and loss of time, which is my reason for pointing out this
mistake. The form of the stage buildings, the auditorium, entrances
and exits were in all probability similar in construction with that
in vogue at the Theatre. No two theatres would exactly resemble one
another in every petty detail, but how they differed we have no means
of ascertaining, although this theatre was in existence for over three
quarters of a century.

Amidst all the rubbish that was printed during this period, barely a
reference is made concerning this place of amusement, which loomed so
largely in the life of the citizens of London.

When the clergy denounced the playhouses, they invariably coupled
the two theatres then in existence, The Theatre and The Curtain. In
the memorials of the Council the two houses are likewise associated.
An instance in which the Curtain alone is mentioned is of a most
interesting nature. The production of “Romeo and Juliet” at the Curtain
theatre brought forth the following verse, which appeared in John
Marston’s book, entitled “_The Scourge of Villanie_”, 1598.

    “Luscus, what’s play’d to-day? faith now I know
    I set thy lips abroach from whence doth flow
    Naught but pure Juliet and Romeo.
    Say who acts best? Drusus or Roscio,
    Now I have him nere of ought did speak,
    But when of Plays or Players he did treat
    Hath made a common place book out of plays,
    And speaks in print at least what ere he says
    Is warranted by Curtaine plaudites.
    If ere you heard him courting Lesbia’s eyes
    Say, courteous Sir, speaks he not movingly
    From out some new pathetic Tragedy.
    He writes, he rails, he jests, he courts what not
    And all from out his huge long scraped stock of well-penned plays.”



                            THE PALSGRAVE;
                            PRIME ELECTOR.

                  A New Play, an Honourable Hystorie.

           As it hath beene publikely Acted at the Red Bull,
                 and at the Curtaine, by a Companie of
                       Young men of this Citie.

                 Made by W. SMITH, with new Additions.

                       _Historia vita Temporis._


        Printed by _Thomas Creede_, for _Iosias Harrison_, and
              are to be solde in Pater-Noster Row, at the
                  Signe of the _Golden Anker_. 1615.

A difficulty arises with the word “Curtain.” Does the word refer to
the theatre of that name or is it a casual way of speaking of any
theatre whereby attaching the modern theatrical meaning to the word?
Expecting a solution ready at hand, I consulted Dr. Murray’s New
English Dictionary, but in this case was grievously disappointed. The
actual phrase “Curtain Plaudities” was quoted under the definition
appertaining to Curtain or curtains without any reference being given
to the Curtain Theatre, the quotation should have been omitted, rather
than mislead the enquirer. Shakespearean students generally agree that
the phrase refers to the theatre of that name, and there can be no
question that this is the correct view, strongly supported by the fact
that at so early a date the front stage curtain was entirely unknown.
The transcriber of the manuscript from which the quarto edition of
“Romeo and Juliet” was printed in 1599, inadvertently substitutes
the name of Kemp, the actor, for the character he played, namely,
Peter. This same Kemp was quite a noted personage in his day. In
1600 he published a book, _Kemp’s Nine Daies Wonder Performed in a
Dance from London to Norwich_. Among other stories, he relates that
once when staying at an inn at Burnwood two pickpockets claimed his
acquaintance, “the officers bringing them to my inn. I justly denied
their acquaintance, saving that I remembered one of them to be a
noted cut purse, such a one as we tie to a post on our stage for all
people to wonder at, when at a play they are taken pilfering.” In the
Middlesex County Records there is a notice concerning the Recognizances
for William Hawkins, he being charged with a purse taken at the Curtain.

One can scarcely credit the idea that these wonderful dramas of
Shakespeare, so well constructed in the action of the plot, the
delicacy and skill necessary in handling and writing the diverse
stories of the play, the complex nature of the characters portrayed,
the beauty of the rhythm of the verse, combined with the easy flow
of dialogue, the possibility, I contend, is almost inconceivable
that these plays were produced in the noisy and somewhat uncouth
surroundings of an inn-yard. Every link in the chain of evidence only
confirms my implicit belief that these masterpieces were first acted in
an enclosed building, where the necessary quiet and seclusion could be
obtained for the actors in worthily interpreting the mighty thoughts
and inspired words of the almost divine author.

Although actual proof is wanting that Shakespeare’s company occupied
continually the Theatre and the Curtain during the last decade of the
sixteenth century, we may with certainty presume that these playhouses
were the scene of Shakespeare’s first dramatic productions. The oft
quoted suggestion that these plays first saw the light in an open air
yard seems incredible, especially when a properly organized theatre
was ready at hand, whose owner was father of the most prominent actor
of the day, namely, Richard Burbage, a fellow actor of Shakespeare.

On several occasions the Curtain Theatre was threatened with
total extinction. Fortunately the Bulls of excommunication never
materialized, the building surviving all the attacks and thunderbolts
which were hurled against her doors.

Immediately prior to the dismantling of the Theatre an order was signed
by the Privy Council, and issued to the Justices of Middlesex, for
the suppression of the theatres and all places of amusement in the
following terms: “Her Majesty being informed that there are very great
disorders committed in the common playhouses both by lewd matters that
are handled on the stages and by resort and confluence of bad people,
hath given direction that not only no play shall be used within London
or about the City or in any public place during the time of summer, but
also the playhouses that are erected and built only for such purpose
shall be plucked down, namely, the Curtain and the Theatre near to
Shoreditch, or any other within that county. These are, therefore, in
Her Majesty’s name to charge and command you, that you take present
order there be no more plays used in any public place within three
miles of the City until Allhallows-tide next, and likewise that you do
send for the owner of the Curtain Theatre and other common playhouses
and enjoin them by virtue hereof forthwith to pluck down quite the
stages, galleries and rooms that are made for people to stand in and so
to deface the same as they may not be employed again to such use, which
if they shall not speedily perform you shall advertize as that order
may be taken to see the same done according to Her Majesty’s pleasure
and commandment.”

The above order was issued in 1597, but was never executed. Three years
later another attempt was made enforcing the closing of the Curtain,
during the time that the Fortune Theatre was erected. Notwithstanding
this order for utterly destroying the building, the good old theatre
stood defiant, keeping the flag waving aloft in spite of all
puritanical onslaughts for her downfall. The next year yet another
mandate was issued ordering the abolition of the Curtain; afterwards no
further commands threatening this theatre were circulated, the Curtain
continuing its career until an Act of both Houses of Parliament finally
closed the doors of all places of amusement.

A few years after the accession of King James, his consort, Anne of
Denmark, extended her patronage unto a company of players who performed
at the Curtain until 1609, when they acted at another theatre called
the Red Bull. A most important point for consideration is whether,
on transferring their allegiance to the new theatre, the Curtain was
altogether abandoned.

This theatre is again noticed in Heath’s epigrams, 1610, where
the Globe, Fortune and Curtain are mentioned as the three leading
playhouses. A later notice occurs in the year 1613 in Wither’s _Abuses
Stript and Whipt_.

        “Base fellows whom mere time
    Hath made sufficient to bring forth a rhyme,
    A Curtain Jig, a libel a ballad.”

For many years the Curtain was let out on hire, but was chiefly
occupied by dramatic companies. A play called “Hector” was acted at
the Curtain by some young men of the City; the author of the play
was Wentworth Smith, whose initials are identical with William
Shakespeare. This same Wentworth Smith may be the author of several
plays signed with the initials W. S. which appear on the title pages of
many quarto editions of old plays. Although these plays are sometimes
associated with our poet, there is absolutely no evidence in claiming
them as his.

Another notice appears in _Vox Graculi, or the Jackdaw’s
Prognostication for 1623_: “About this time new plays will be in more
request than old, and if company come current to the Bull and Curtain
there will be more money gathered in one afternoon than will be given
to Kingsland Spittal in a whole month.” The last recorded notice yet
discovered is dated 1627. Possibly the Curtain remained open until the
order of Parliament suppressed the theatres in 1642, or when a more
stringent act, compelled by force, the closing altogether. Whether the
Curtain obeyed the first order in 1642, or waited until the forcible
ejectment in 1647, is uncertain. Professor Lawrence states that the
Curtain was pulled down in 1630, but no proof of this statement is


In all books, both old and new, concerning theatrical matters
in Elizabethan times, mention is made of a theatre existing in
Newington Butts. This district was situated near St. George’s Fields
in Southwark. Antiquaries, with imagination all compact, mark the
ground where now stands Spurgeon’s Tabernacle as the site of the old
theatre. Unfortunately, there is a lack of documentary evidence of
any description definitely stating the existence of a regular built
theatre in this locality. On the other hand, there is abundant evidence
proving that play acting constituted one of the chief amusements of
this neighbourhood.

Although not actually possessing any positive evidence of a theatre
existing in this neighbourhood, we must accept as a certainty that
either an inn-yard, town hall, or public theatre stood in this
vicinity, otherwise there is no accounting for a passage in Henslowe’s
Diary in which is recorded the event of the Lord Chamberlain’s men and
the Lord Admiral’s men acting at Newington.

“In the name of God Amen Beginning at Newington My Lord Admiral’s men
and my Lord Chamberlain’s men as followeth.” After this entry the Diary
contains a list of plays acted by these companies from June 3rd until
June 13th, 1594, then a line is drawn across the page, doubtlessly
signifying that the engagement terminated. The next entry, dated June
15th, 1594, continues indefinitely until 1597. From June, 15th, 1594,
all notices refer to plays acted at the Rose Theatre. Most writers
credit all the performances to the Newington Butts Theatre, a palpable
error, arising from insufficient study of the details connected with
this period.

The list of plays acted by the two companies is as follows:

    The 3rd of June, 1594, Ry. at Hester and Askeweros
                            (Hester and Assuerus).
     „  4th        „        “The Jewe of Malta.”
     „  5th        „        “Andronicous.”
     „  6th        „        “Cutlacke.”
     „  8th        „        “Bellendon.”
     „  9th        „        “Hamlet.”
     „ 10th        „        “Heaster” (Hester and Assuerus).
     „ 11th        „        “The tamyinge of A Shrowe.”
     „ 12th        „        “Andronicous.”
     „ 13th        „        “The Jewe” (“The Jew of Malta”).

Out of these ten performances, six may with certainty be placed, on the
credit side of the Lord Chamberlain’s men, the remaining four on those
of the Admiral’s. The “Hamlet” was, of course, the old play attributed
by all students to Thomas Kyd, the same play on which some years
later Shakespeare founded his own “Hamlet.” “The Taming of a Shrew”
is likewise an old play, upon which Shakespeare founded his “Taming
of the Shrew”; the author of the old play is not known. Shakespeare
changed the names of the principal parts, with the exception of Kate or
Katherine, developed the characters by adding greater depth of feeling
and making them living personalities instead of types of characters as
in the earlier play. He likewise contrived that the different plots
were more skilfully interwoven, and in every way improved upon the old
play. “Andronicus” may be the play attributed to Shakespeare by the
editors of the _First Folio_, or perhaps this drama was an earlier
play of Marlowe’s or one of his disciples. Although this “Andronicus”
finds a place in the _First Folio_, most critics agree that Shakespeare
was not the author. At the most, he may have revised a few scenes and
added touches here and there, but in no other way is he responsible for
this revolting and barbarous play, doubtless written by some popular
dramatist to please the ears and eyes of the groundlings, who simply
revelled in these horrors, without ever being satiated, the appetite
growing by what it fed on.

Even in our own day the disgusting and revolting posters exhibited
in all our streets entice coppers from the populace; this demand for
sensational and bloodthirsty scenes unites the Elizabethan age in
matters of beastliness with these that prevail at the present day. In
spite of three hundred years’ progress and free education and all the
aids to refinement that lie at the door of all Londoners, the mass of
the people clearly demonstrate by the class of their amusement how
little they have materially benefited by their education, constantly
demanding the villainous dreadfulness of low class entertainments
instead of encouraging the refined pleasures of a Shakesperean

Even the better educated classes cannot rise much above the red-nosed
comedian or the cracked-voiced variety artist or to visit nightly
some filthy so-called musical comedy or revue at a West End theatre,
with courtesans posing as actresses, and low music-hall performers,
introducing before a fashionable audience all sorts of vulgarisms and
indecent jokes and styling themselves heaven-born actors and actresses,
thus further insulting a noble profession.

Of “Hester and Assuerus” nothing is known beyond the name of the play.
A foreign version with the same title is extant, perhaps copied or
adapted from Henslowe’s play. Those four plays in 1594 belonged to
the repertory of Lord Strange’s company; a few years previously they
had been in the possession of another company, from whom they were
purchased by Lord Strange’s men. The three remaining plays were the
property of the Admiral’s men, namely Marlowe’s celebrated drama of the
“Jew of Malta,” acted scores of times to an ever-admiring audience. The
play called “Bellendon” has been identified with a play entered in the
_Stationers’ Register_ as “The True Tragedy and History of King Rufus
the First, with the Life and Death of Belyn Dun, the first thief that
ever was hanged in England.” The play is not extant.

“Cutlack” is also a lost play, probably alluded to in Guilpen’s
“Skialetheia,” a series of epigrams and satires published in 1598:

    “Clodius methinks looks passing big of late,
    With Dunstons browes and Allens Cutlacks gate.”

The Diary alluded to so frequently is the famous theatrical account
book kept by Philip Henslowe, whose stepdaughter married Edward Alleyn,
the greatest actor of his day. On his retirement from the stage he
purchased the Manor of Dulwich for £10,000. Henslowe’s connexion with
the theatrical world lasted over a quarter of a century; how he drifted
into the world of the theatre is a puzzle not easily solved, he being
by trade a dyer; possibly his son-in-law may have persuaded him in
investing money in theatrical ventures; at all events he controlled
several places of amusement, and was on friendly terms with most of
the playwrights and actors of his day. When he opened the Rose Theatre
he entered in his Diary day by day a list of plays that were produced
there. On the first production of a new play at his theatre he wrote
the letters “n e” before the title; these may signify “new enterlude”
or simply a contraction of the word “new.” Whenever the letters are
found, they always indicate that the play was a new one, or an old
play fresh-adapted for the requirements of up-to-date audiences. Many
other matters were jotted down in this Diary, especially the sums of
money lent to needy authors, or money advanced for new plays and other
services, likewise money expended on his theatres and bear-baiting
house, and a few entries of a private nature. This manuscript volume is
chiefly helpful in deciding the date and authorship of several plays.

For benefits received we are apt to regard Philip Henslowe in a more
favourable light than the illiterate, greedy and grasping theatre
manager and pawnbroking usurer really deserves. Without exception
this volume ranks as the most precious record of theatrical history
for the Elizabethan period. Everyone interested in the subject must
feel deeply grateful to Mr. W. W. Greg, who by his immense learning
and untiring industry, has given to students an edition of the Diary
beyond all praise. The original manuscript of this volume forms one of
the treasures of Dulwich College, and reposes in the library of this
excellent institution.

An important reference respecting the Newington Butts Theatre is
contained in the following document issued by the Privy Council, circa
1592, granting the Rose Theatre company permission to open their doors,
and further stating: “That not long since, upon some consideration,
their Lordships restrained the Lord Strange’s servants from playing at
the Rose on the Bankside, and enjoined them to play three days a week
at Newington Butts, but they understand that the tedium of the way
thither and for the fact that for a long time past no plays have been
performed there on weekdays, makes the use of that house inconvenient,
and also that the restraint is a cause of injury to a number of poor
watermen, they therefore order that the Justices shall permit Lord
Strange’s men or any other company to perform at the ‘Rose’ as usual.”

The next reference is of a more substantial character, as denoting
the existence of some kind of playhouse, in all probability a regular
theatre. Howe, in his continuation of _Stow’s Annals_, 1631, gives a
list of the early theatres in London, adding besides one in former
times at Newington Butts. In spite of this authentic statement, the
Newington Butts Theatre has been declared a myth, and, until further
evidence is forthcoming, is likely in thus remaining so. That a place
of entertainment for the acting of plays existed in this neighbourhood
has been proved beyond doubt.

Considering the number of years plays were acted here, how shall we
account for the lack of notices respecting the building in which the
plays were acted? Nothing more tantalizing can be recalled in the whole
history of the early drama.

When, in the year the Lord Admiral’s men and the Lord Derby’s men
played at Newington Butts, both companies had already enjoyed many
years of prosperity, and therefore quite unlikely they would give
ten consecutive performances at an inn-yard or on a stage erected in
an open place. Henslowe, in his Diary, simply remarks: “Beginning at
Newington my Lord Chamberlain’s men and my Lord Admiral’s men.” Even
this entry does not assist us in determining the nature of the place
where the plays were represented. It is to be regretted that Mr. Greg
has not elucidated this puzzle for us, no one else but himself is
capable of untying this knotty question.

Elizabethans themselves rarely allude to any of their theatres or
places where plays were acted, the Newington Butts locality seemingly
not deserving a passing notice.


The first authentic account of a theatre erected on the south side
of the Thames is that of the Rose, in Southwark. In Norden’s map
of London, dated 1593, there stands a round building marked “The
Playhouse,” situated south-east of the Bear House, also depicted on the
map. As the Rose was the only playhouse existing in the neighbourhood
at this date, the logical inference is quite fair that the theatre is
no other than the Rose. Even now there is still a Rose Alley in the
district, which perpetuates the name of the old theatre.

[Illustration: The Rose Playhouse, from Norden’s _Speculum Britanniæ_,

Philip Henslowe, the famous owner of the Diary, was the proprietor and
sole manager. Until the appearance of an article in _The Times_ on
April 30th, 1914, by Dr. Wallace, the first opening of the Rose was
placed in 1592. Professor Wallace states that this theatre was built in
1587, and was mentioned for the first time in the “Sewer Records” in
April, 1588, as then new.

Before the article was written, several writers had questioned the late
date, but for lack of sufficient evidence the year 1592 was given in
all text books as the correct date. This is a most important discovery,
giving the citizens of London at this early date a third, or even a
fourth, theatre, whereby the leading metropolitan companies could
represent their plays at a properly constructed and organized theatre.
Henslowe’s first notice of a public performance at the Rose is as

“In the name of God, Amen, 1591, beginning the 19th of February,
my Lord Strange’s men as followeth 1591.” Although in the above
paragraph the actual name of the theatre is not mentioned, there can
be no question that the Rose is intended. An undated warrant from the
Privy Council states “that upon some considerations their Lordships
restrained the Lord Strange’s servants from playing at the Rose on the
Bankside.” Notwithstanding that the warrant is undated, several reasons
indicate that the order was issued at the same time that Lord Strange’s
men were playing at the Rose. The document describes the actors as
servants of Lord Strange; now in 1593 Lord Strange became the Earl of
Derby, the events narrated in the document referred to the previous
year 1592. Henslowe’s 1591 is either a clerical error or a confusion
between the regnal year and the legal one, which commenced on the 25th
of March.

Another important entry is as follows: “A note of such carges as I
have laid owt abowte my playe house in the year of our Lord, 1592,
as ffoloweth.” Had Mr. Philip Henslowe lived in these days he would
have stood a fair chance of being elected President of the “Nu Speling
Sosieti”; a more illiterate and uneducated being would be difficult
in discovering, and this ignorance is found in conjunction with a man
who was on intimate terms of friendship with the foremost authors of
his day. His Diary is a mass of absurdities in the way of spelling,
particularly on the employment of capital letters, but his greatest
achievement is reached in recording the different titles of the plays
acted under his management:

    “the gresyan comodey.      The Grecian comedy.
    Seser and Pompe.           Cæsar and Pompey.
    the frenshe docter.        The French Doctor.
    doctor fostes.”            Doctor Faust.

and many other items equally ludicrous and illiterate.

In congratulating Mr. Greg on the wonderful manner in which he has
grappled with this extraordinary document, one must sympathize with
him in the arduous labour thereby entailed. The ingenious editor
admits once being baffled; in this instance the difficulty was solved
by another acute mind the late Mr. Fleay. The word which defied
decipherment was “an Isapryse,” which Mr. Fleay identified as “nisi
prius,” the correct solution.

The Rose Theatre, like the playhouses in Shoreditch, was erected
outside the jurisdiction of the City of London. The site was not within
the Gildable Manor, being situated within the Liberty of the Clink,
becoming thereby amenable to the Justices of the Peace for Surrey.
The Clink was the name of the noted prison in Southwark; the name is
derived from the word “clink,” to fasten securely.

An estate called “The Little Rose” is first heard of in 1552, passing
into the hands of Henslowe in 1558. In January, 1587, a deed of
partnership was drawn up between Henslowe and a grocer named Cholmley.
This deed states that a playhouse is to be erected at Henslowe’s cost,
with the assistance of John Griggs, a carpenter, Cholmley paying £8
16s. in quarterly instalments, sharing in return half the receipts.
Nothing further was known of this projected theatre before 1592 until
Professor Wallace, in 1914, discovered a document among the “Sewer
Records,” in which the theatre is named the Rose in 1588. From the year
1592 until 1603 theatrical performances were given at the Rose. Acting
was not continuous, the theatre being closed for many months, chiefly
owing to the plague. The Diary contains the following entries:

    From February 19th, 1592, until June 22nd, 1592.
    From December 29th, 1592, until Feb. 1st, 1593.
    From December 27th, 1593, until April 8th, 1594.
    From June 3rd, 1594, until Mar. 14th, 1595.
    From Easter Monday, 1595, until June 26th, 1595.
    From August 25th, 1595, until Feb. 27th, 1596.
    From April 12th, 1596, until July 18th, 1596.
    From Oct. 27th, 1596, until Nov. 15th, 1596.
    From Nov. 25th, 1596, until Feb. 12th, 1597.
    From May 3rd, 1597, until July 28th, 1597.
    From Oct. 11th, 1597, until Oct. 31st, 1597.
    From Nov. 26th, 1597, until the end of December.

“A just account of all such money as I have received of my Lord
Admiral’s and my Lord Pembroke’s men as followeth, beginning the 21st
of October, 1597.” The account commences on the aforesaid date and
finishes on the 4th of March, 1598, twenty performances in all. There
appeared the next entry as shown in the Diary:

“Here I Begigne to Receve the wholle gallereys from this daye beinge
the 29th of July, 1598.” This contract lasted until the 19th of
October, 1599, altogether forty-four performances. The titles of the
plays are omitted; the entry is simply:

    By the 29th of July, 1598--xll xiiijs.

The next entry in the Diary in connexion with the Rose Theatre occurs
on the 6th of October, 1599: “Heere I begine to Receve the gallereys
again.” Representations were given from the 6th of October, 1599, until
the 13th of July, 1600. After this entry the Diary only records the
performances given at his newly-erected theatre, the Fortune in Golden
Lane. The 13th of July, 1600, contains the last notice of the Rose
until the year 1603, when the servants of the Lord Worcester occupied
the theatre for a brief period. When the Worcester men left some time
during 1603, nothing further is heard of this theatre until 1620, when
prizefighters occupied the arena; also fencing matches were held.
Rendle, in his account of the Bankside Theatres, notes that the Rose
was burnt down, and he quotes a couplet as evidence of his statement:

    “In the last great fire
    The Rose did expire.”

Rendle adds: “When that was, I am not clear.” He gives no reference for
the quotation.

Other investigators seem quite ignorant of this catastrophe. Professor
Lawrence simply states that the Rose is last heard of in 1622, quite
ignoring the fire couplet.

Two years before Henslowe’s lease expired, hints were casually
intimated that in future the rent would be considerably increased. This
drastic course roused the old manager’s anger up to boiling pitch,
and he vowed he would sooner pull down the Rose in the same manner
as the Burbages had acted some years earlier in connexion with the
theatre. Anyhow, the Rose was not demolished, the terms upon which the
interested parties agreed remain unknown. Alleyn, the former actor and
Lord of the Manor of Dulwich, was still paying tithe on the estate as
late as the year 1622.


                              CHAST MAYD

                       Pleasant conceited Comedy
                         neuer before printed.

                  As it hath beene often acted at the
                    Swan on the Banke-side, by the
                          Lady ELIZABETH her

                       By THOMAS MIDELTON Gent.


            Printed for _Francis Constable_ dwelling at the
                    signe of the _Crane_ in _Pauls_


The second theatre erected on the Bankside was named the Swan, situated
at the extreme western end, in the Manor of Paris Garden, represented
to-day by the Blackfriars Road. The proprietor and builder was a
well-known London citizen, named Francis Langley, holding an office
under the Corporation, as one of the searchers of cloth, an appointment
much coveted by well-to-do men.

When first the plans were laid out for building a theatre on the Paris
Garden Estate, the puritan section of the Corporation rose up in arms,
vehemently protesting against the scheme being carried out. In their
eager desire in preventing such desecration, they appealed to the Lord
Treasurer, praying that a warrant might at once be issued, forbidding
the building from being completed. These proceedings took place in 1594.

The exact date of the opening is very uncertain and somewhat
conflicting. First, we have the opposition against the building in
1594; secondly, the evidence of the Dutchman De Witte, who visited and
described the Swan Theatre. De Witte’s biographer positively asserts
that he only visited these shores once, that visit taking place in the
year 1596. According to the evidence, we should expect the erection
of the theatre between these dates, namely, 1594-6. Curiously enough,
a third witness is introduced in the records of the minutes of St.
Saviour’s Vestry stating that Mr. Langley’s new buildings shall be
viewed, and that he and others shall be moved for money for the poor in
regard to the playhouse and the tithes; this order is dated 1598.

How can we best reconcile these three different dates? The mention of
Langley’s new buildings in 1598 somewhat weakens the statement that
De Witte visited the theatre in 1596, and yet the fact cannot well
be ignored. Until new documentary evidence is forthcoming the wisest
course consists in simply declaring an open verdict.

Quite apart from the interest attached to any place of amusement
in Elizabeth’s reign, the Swan Theatre has become famous, through
a startling and sensational discovery, in the form of an authentic
drawing depicting the interior of this building. The actual discovery
of this important and interesting drawing was made by Dr. Thiele,
librarian of the University of Utrecht, who found the drawing in a
manuscript volume belonging to the University Library. This interior
view is certainly the most interesting document in existence in
connexion with the early history of the theatre. By a special act
of courtesy on the part of the librarian, this precious manuscript
containing the drawing was conveyed to this country and exhibited
in the British Museum. A photograph of the drawing will be found as
frontispiece to this volume. The text accompanying the drawing is as
follows, omitting all extraneous matter:

(Fol. 131 verso).

    Ex Observationibus Londinensibus Johannis De Witt.

    Amphiteatra Londinij sunt iv visendae pulcritudinis quae a
    diversis intersigniis diuersa nomina fortiuntur: in iis varia
    quotidie scaena populo exhibetur. Horum duo excellentiora vltra
    Tamisim ad meridiam sita sunt a suspensis signis ROSA et Cygnus
    nominata: Alia duo extra vrbem ad septentrionem sunt, via qua
    itur per Episcopalem portam vulgariter Biscopgat nuncupatam. Est
    etiam (Fol. 132 recto) quintum sed dispari et structura, bestiarum
    concertationi destinatum, in quo multi vrsi, Tauri, et stupendae
    magnitudinis canes, discretis caueis & septis aluntur, qui (drawing
    occupies rest of page) (the words from quintum to qui being
    written underneath) ad pugnam adseruantur, iucundissimum hominibus
    spectaculum praebentes. Theatrorum autem omnium prestantissimum
    est et amplissimum id cuius intersignium est cygnus (vulgo te
    theatre off te cijn), quippe quod tres mille homines in sedilibus
    admittat, constructum ex coaceruato lapide pyrrtide (quorum ingens
    in Britannia copia est), ligneis suffultum columnis quae ob illitum
    marmoreum colorem, nasutissimos quoque fallere possent. Cuius
    quidem formam quod Romani operis vmbram videatur exprimere supra

The above extract is taken verbatim from the manuscript book belonging
to Arend van Buchell, the friend and biographer of De Witte.


    There are in London four theatres of noteworthy beauty which bear
    diverse names according to their diverse signs. In them a different
    action is daily presented to the people. The first two of these
    are situated to the southward beyond the Thames and named from the
    signs they display, The Rose and The Swan. Two others are outside
    the City towards the north, and are approached (per Episcopalim
    postern, in the vernacular, Bisopgate)--Bishopsgate. There is also
    a fifth of dissimilar structure devoted to beast baiting, wherein
    many bears, bulls and dogs of stupendous size are kept in separate
    dens and cages, which being pitted against each other, afford men
    a delightful spectacle. Of all the theatres, however, the largest
    and most distinguished is that whereof the sign is a swan, commonly
    called the Swan Theatre, since it contains three thousand persons
    and is built of a concrete of flint stone, which greatly abound in
    Britain, and supported by wooden columns painted in such excellent
    imitation of marble that it might deceive even the most cunning.
    Since its form seems to approach that of a Roman structure I have
    depicted it above.

Naturally such an important document was submitted to various severe
tests regarding its authenticity, and on examination was satisfactorily
proved to be quite genuine. The next question requiring an answer was
not so easily settled. How came this drawing made by De Witte inserted
in a manuscript copy of a volume belonging to his friend, Van Buchell.
It cannot be the original drawing sketched by De Witte on the spot,
as the paper on which the sketch is made is identical with the paper
forming the leaves of the manuscript. The only conclusion possible is
that Van Buchell copied the drawing and the letters sent or lent to him
by his friend into his own commonplace book. Whether the drawing was
faithfully copied cannot be definitely answered, as De Witte’s original
is lost.

There is no reason in believing that Van Buchell deviated from the copy
sent him. The description given by De Witte to his friend may have been
orally delivered and Van Buchell may have made the sketch from memory
according to the details narrated by De Witte. The biographer of Van
Buchell states that he never visited England. De Witte’s biographer
writes that he only visited this country in 1596, but this statement
cannot be implicitly relied upon.

Arend van Buchell was a lawyer practising in Utrecht; his hobby was
collecting pictures and prints; he was intimate with Cornelis Boissers,
an engraver, and several painters and collectors of his day.

By referring to the text, the reader will notice that De Witte
estimated the seating and standing capacity of the Swan roughly about
three thousand. Of course this number is the result of guesswork, but
surely the number is nearer the mark than three hundred, the estimate
of a well-known writer and critic, who arrived at this conclusion by
inferring that three thousand was a mistake for three hundred.

On turning to the frontispiece of this volume, the reader will observe
that the arena contains three galleries: these galleries ran right
round the theatre, each one containing three or four rows. By carefully
examining the drawing, fourteen divisions can be counted in the
top-most gallery. Between each division, seats, or standing room for
three people, can be quite distinctly made out. Therefore the third
part of the gallery shown in the sketch would hold forty-two persons in
one row, the entire row encircling the theatre on three of its sides
would contain one hundred and twenty-six people; multiply this number
by eleven, the number of rows (four in the first and second tiers and
three in the top one) we get a total of 1,386. Add to this another
700 standing in the yard, we get a grand total of 2,086, which in all
probability was about the full capacity of the house.

Another point which is hotly debated is whether De Witte is correct
in stating that the exterior of the theatre was built of stone. In
Hentzner’s description of the London theatres in 1598 he positively
asserts that they all were built of wood; naturally this counter
assertion raises the question regarding the value to be placed on De
Witte’s observations in general.

He could hardly mistake wood for stone, pointing out himself the
difficulty in discerning wooden columns from marble ones. A possible
solution might be that the Swan Theatre was not built when Hentzner
described the theatres of London; they are not mentioned by name, which
adds additional force to my theory.

On a close inspection of the drawing all the characteristics of an
Elizabethan theatre are at once apparent. The first important feature
is the division of the auditorium into three distinct tiers, one
above the other, which the careful reader will remember seemed such a
novelty to Samuel Kiechel, the foreigner, who visited London in 1585.
At that date the Swan was not in existence, but the construction of
an Elizabethan theatre only varied in small details during the length
of her reign. On looking at the stage, one is not impressed with its
elaborate or elegant appearance, a more primitive kind of structure is
scarcely conceivable. There is no sign of a curtain either at the back
or front. The turned columns support what is technically known as the
“Heavens,” a kind of roof protecting the actors from the elements, and
also serving as a sounding board. Mr. Ordish, in his fascinating and
highly interesting study of the early London theatres, in describing
this sketch, strangely observes that the “heavens” over the stage are
not shown; this statement must surely be a clerical error, as they are
quite clearly marked in the drawing.

The two doors served as exits and entrances, leading to and from the
dressing room, inscribed in the sketch as “mimorum aedes.” The balcony
was divided into boxes for playgoers who were willing to pay a higher
price for their seats. When occasion required, part of the balcony was
occupied by the musicians, and frequently by the actors themselves,
especially in those scenes in which they appeared from above, as in
the play of “Romeo and Juliet,” or when soldiers appear before the
walls of a city.

From a spectator’s point of view, this part of the auditorium does not
appear the most advantageous, as only the backs of the actors could
be seen. Notwithstanding the bad position, these expensive seats were
always in demand, some motive must have kept up the price of these
boxes; the only one I can suggest is that they offered a degree of
privacy to the occupants; furthermore, they had an entrance from the
back of the stage, thus enabling the avoidance of the crowd by the

Over the balcony was a kind of hutch, where most likely the stage
properties were stored. From an opening in this structure an attendant
is seen sounding a trumpet, an intimation that the play is about to
commence, although in this instance the warning is given while the
play is in progress. The significance of this small detail is rather
important, allowing us in presuming that De Witte drew the sketch after
he had left the theatre, and therefore from memory, which in many small
matters may have played him false.

The play which is being performed has all the appearance of a scene
from Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” in which Olivia, Maria and
Malvolio, with his staff of office, appear. Shakespeare’s play was
composed a few years later, but a play with similar incidents may have
been acted at this date.

An earlier play on the same subject that Shakespeare treated in
“Twelfth Night” is generally supposed to have been presented on the
stage. The roof of the hutch is surmounted by a flag, waving over
the building, bearing for its sign a swan. With the exception of the
stage, which was a movable one, the other parts of the stage buildings
were permanent structures. The different sections of the house
inscribed in the sketch are as follows: Over the topmost gallery is
a sloping roof, which ran right round the theatre, inscribed on the
right hand side facing the spectators with the word “tectum,” the
Latin for roof. This part of the theatre was either tiled or thatched
throughout. In one division of the lowermost gallery, in which were
situated the best seats, a space therein, so described with the word
“orchestra.” Professor Lawrence has written a very ingenious and
learned dissertation on the meaning of this word, in which he proves
conclusively that the place so marked was set apart for private boxes,
called in the theatrical parlance of the day “The gentlemen’s rooms.”

The word orchestra, in this sense, has no connexion with the modern
meaning of the word, or the ancient Greek definition, signifying a
place reserved for dancing, also where the chorus accompanying a Greek
play sang. The true meaning in the Shakesperean period denoted that
part of the auditorium set aside for noblemen or those willing to pay a
high price for their seats.

Cotgrave, in his English and French dictionary, published in 1611,
defines _orchestre_ as “the senators or noblemens’ places in a
theatre, between the stage and the common seats.” The knowledge of
this important fact in reconstructing intelligibly this part of an old
theatre is a debt we owe to the ingenuity and learning of Professor

The word “sedilia” refers to the seats in the galleries, which proves
that seating accommodation was provided in this part of the house, a
fact which had been doubted for many years past.

The porticus was a colonnade or corridor running round the gallery
furnished with columns supporting the galleries, and may have afforded
standing room for spectators.

[Illustration: The Swan Theatre. From Visscher’s Map of London, 1616.]

“Ingressus” refers to the steps leading to the galleries, being
placed on both sides of the house. Other steps not shown in the sketch
led to the second and third galleries. At this point were stationed the
“gatherers,” who received the extra payment for entrance to these seats.

The structure behind the stage, inscribed “mimorum aedes,” is the
tiring room for the actors making their exits and their entrances
through the two doors placed one on each side. The word “proscænium” is
the Latin word for stage, derived from the Greek word Skene, a booth or
tent, in which the leader of the chorus in the early days of the Greek
drama erected his dressing room. The same word scene, in our own days,
bears many theatrical meanings almost identical with the word employed
twenty-five hundred years ago, thus contradicting the belief of most
people that we owe everything to the genius of the present generation.

The arena was the yard, in which stood the pit and gallery _habitués_
of our day, the charge for this privilege being one penny.

I hope the reader will constantly refer to the drawing whilst reading
this description, as it will materially help him in fully understanding
the interior of an Elizabethan playhouse.

The Hope Theatre was modelled on the Swan. I here append the contract
for the first-named theatre:

“The contractor, Katherens, is to take down the existing structure, and
to build in its place another game house or plaie house fit for players
to play in and for the game of bears and bulls. There is to be provided
a tyre house and a frame to be carried or taken away and to stand upon
tressels, sufficient to bear such a stage. It is agreed to build the
same of such large compass, form, wideness and height as the playhouse
called the Swan in the liberty of Paris Garden. And the said playhouse
or game place to be made in all things and in such form and fashion as
the said playhouse called the Swan, the scantling of the timbers, tiles
and foundations as is aforesaid without fraud or covin.” The last word
means conspiracy or collusion.

The separate items are:

1. Two staircases without and adjoining the playhouse of such largeness
and height as the said playhouse called the Swan.

These stairs are not shown in the sketch; perhaps they were placed
outside the building. It would be interesting to know the exact

2. “Heavens” over the stage to be borne and carried away without any
posts or supporters to be fixed or set about the stage. Gutters of lead
needful for carriage of water that shall fall about the same.

The “Heavens” in the Hope contract is different somewhat from the Swan,
as the sketch plainly shows the columns supporting the “Heavens.”

3. Two boxes in the lowermost storey, fit and decent for gentlemen to
sit in, and shall make the partition between the rooms as they are at
the said playhouse called the Swan.

The boxes are marked “Orchestra” in the sketch.

4. Turned columns upon and over the stage.

5. Principals and forefront of the playhouse to be of oak; no fir to be
used in the lowermost or under stones, except the upright posts or the
back part of the said stones, all binding joists to be of oak.

6. To new tyle with English tyles all the upper roof of the said

7. Also a louvre or storey over the said playhouse as it now is.

Several of the above particulars confirm the exactness of the drawing.
It must not be forgotten that between the building of the Swan and that
of the Hope nearly twenty years had intervened; in that time many
improvements had taken place, but the essentials remain the same.

The Swan Theatre has little interest for students, the entertainments
being chiefly devoted to bear-baiting, and other sports of a less
exciting nature.

Francis Meres, the author of _Palladis Tamia_, published in 1598,
refers to the Swan in the following passage: “As Antipater Sidonius
was famous for extemporal verse in Greek.... And so is now our wittie
Wilson, who, for learning and extemporal witte in this facultie, is
without compare or compeere, as to his great and eternall commendations
he manifested in his chalenge at the Swanne on the Banke-side.” A very
interesting account of Shakespeare occurs in the same book: “As the
soule of Euphorbus was thought to live in Pythagoras so the sweete
wittie soule of Ovid lives in mellifluous and honeytongued Shakespeare,
witness his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece, his sugred sonnets among his
private friends, etc.”

A few more references to the Swan are still extant. A certain Peter
Bromville appeared at this theatre in 1600, performing acts of
activity, he having exhibited the same before the Queen. Acts of
activity correspond to those acrobatic feats often seen at our present
day music halls.

Another extract is from Dekker’s play “Satiromastic,” 1602. Tucca:
“Thou hast been at Paris Garden, hast not?” Horace: “Yes, Captain, I
have played Zulziman there.” I have searched in vain to find the name
of the play in which the part of Zulziman occurs. Ben Jonson acted the
part of Zulziman.

The Swan was often alluded to as Paris Garden. Middleton’s play of “A
Chaste Maid in Cheapside” was performed there. Another notice relates
how a knight, witnessing the last new play at the Swan, lost his purse
containing seven angels. An angel was a gold coin, valued at ten
shillings. A man named Turner was thrust through the eye and killed
here whilst contesting there for a prize.

During the last years of the Swan, only fencing matches and
gladiatorial exhibitions were given. The last notice of this theatre
appeared in a pamphlet entitled “Holland’s Leaguer,” by N. Goodman,
published in 1632: “Three famous amphitheatres can be seen from the
turret, one the continent of the world (_i.e._, the Globe), to which,
half the year, a world of beauties and brave spirits resort. A building
of excellent hope for players, wild beasts and gladiators and another,
that the lady of the Leaguer in fortress could almost shake hands with,
now fallen to decay and like a dying swan, hangs her head and sings her
own dirge.” A dying swan evidently refers to this playhouse. It was a
popular belief that a swan fluted a wild carol in her death.

Mr. Ordish attributes this pamphlet to Shakerley Marmion, who wrote a
play called “Holland’s Leaguer.” Mr. Ordish has by a clerical error
mixed the babies up.

Before taking leave of the fortunes of the Swan Theatre I wish to
relate an interesting event which took place there in the year
1602, which incidently throws considerable light on how Elizabethan
managers advertised their special shows on important occasions. The
circumstances are described in a letter from John Chamberlain to Dudley
Carleton in 1602.

“And now we are in mirth I must not forget to tell you of a cosening
prank of one Venner, of Lincoln’s Inn, that gave out bills of a famous
play on Saturday, was sevennight on the Bankside, to be acted only by
certain gentlemen and gentlewomen of account. The price at coming was
two shillings or eighteenpence at least, and when he had gotten most
part of the money into his hands he would have shewed them a fair pair
of heels, but he was not so nimble to get upon horseback, but that he
was fain to forsake that course and betake himself to the water, where
he was pursued and taken and brought before the Lord Chief Justice, who
would make nothing of it but a jest and a merriment and bound him over
on five pounds to appear at the sessions. In the meantime the common
people, when they saw themselves deluded, revenged themselves upon the
hangings, curtains, chairs, stone walls, and whatsoever came in their
way, very outrageously and made great spoil, there was great store of
good company and many noblemen.”

This event is referred to by Ben Jonson in his “Masque of Angurs,
1622.” Three of these gentlemen should have acted in that famous matter
of “England’s Joy,” in 1603, but the date should be 1602. In a poetical
effusion by Taylor, the Water Poet, he relates how one Fenner often
confused with the real writer of “England’s Joy,” Venner, advertised
himself as the author of this piece. This Fenner was the rival of
Taylor as an extempore rhymester, and being challenged and the bills
set up advertising the literary duel, Taylor prepared himself for the
meeting. On the day appointed Fenner failed to come to the scratch,
thereby causing Taylor to be branded as an impostor, which drew from
him the following lines, published in his “A Cast over Water,” 1615:

“My defence against thy offence.”

    “Thou bragst what fame thou gottst upon the stage,
    Indeed, thou set’st the people in a rage
    In playing ‘England’s Joy’ that every man
    Did judge it worse than that done at the Swan.
    To all your cost he will his wits employ
    To play the second part of ‘England’s Joy,’
    And poor old Venner that plain-dealing man,
    Who acted ‘England’s Joy’ first at the Swan,
    Paid eight crowns for the writing of these things,
    Besides the covers and the silken strings.”

The original play-bill announcing this performance has the following
title: ...

    “The plot of the play called ‘England’s Joy,’
    To be played at the Swan this 6 of March, 1602.”

This document being of such extreme interest, a photograph will be
found on the opposite page. One can see by the smallness of the print
that it was not intended for a poster, but to be distributed either
amongst the assembled audience or delivered at the houses of the gentry
or handed to passers-by in the street. The original of this broad
sheet is preserved in the collection of the Society of Antiquaries.
By the courtesy of the Secretary of the Society of Antiquaries I was
accorded the privilege of inspecting this most interesting document,
and further, allowed the favour of having the original photographed
especially for this book. Although, as stated above, the print is too
small for a poster, yet it is quite legible, almost the size of the
type of this page.


                     THE PLOT OF THE PLAY, CALLED
                            _ENGLANDS JOY_.

          To be Playd at the Swan this 6. of Nouember. 1602.



FIRST, there is induct by shew and in Action; the ciuill warres of
England from _Edward_ the third, to the end of Queene _Maries_ raigne,
with the ouerthrow of Vsurpation.

2 Secondly then the entrance of Englands Ioy by the Coronation of our
Soueraigne Lady _Elizabeth_, her Throne attended with peace, Plenty,
and ciuill Pollicy: A sacred Prelate standing at her right hand,
betokening the Serenity of the Gospell: At her left hand Iustice: And
at her feete Warre, with a Scarlet Roabe of peace vpon his Armour: A
wreath of Bayes about his temples, and a braunch of Palme in his hand.

3 Thirdly is dragd in three Furies, presenting Dissention, Famine, and
Bloudshed, which are throwne downe into hell.

4 Fourthly is exprest vnder the person of a Tyrant, the enuy of
_Spayne_, who to shew his cruelty causeth his Souldiers dragge in a
beautifull Lady, whome they mangle and wound, tearing her garments and
Iewels from off her: And so leaue her bloody, with her hayre about her
shoulders, lying vpon the ground. To her come certaine Gentlemen, who
seeing her pitious dispoylment, turne to the Throne of England, from
whence one descendeth, taketh vp the Lady, wipeth her eyes, bindeth
vp her woundes, giueth her treasure, and bringeth forth a band of
Souldiers, who attend her forth: This Lady presenteth _Belgia_.

5 Fiftly, the Tyrant more enraged, taketh counsell, sends forth
letters, priuie Spies, and secret vnderminers, taking their othes, and
giuing them bagges of treasure. These signifie _Lopus_, and certaine
Iesuites, who afterward, when the Tyrant lookes for an answere from
them, are shewed to him in a glasse with halters about their neckes,
which makes him mad with fury.

6 Sixtly, the Tyrant seeing all secret meanes to fayle him, intendeth
open violence and inuasion by the hand of Warre, whereupon is set forth
the battle at Sea in 88, with Englands victory.

7 Seuenthly, hee complotteth with the Irish rebelles, wherein is layd
open the base ingratitude of _Tyrone_, the landing there of _Don John
de Aguila_, and their dissipation by the wisdome and valour of the Lord

8 Eightly, a great triumph is made with fighting of twelue Gentlemen at
Barriers, and sundrie rewards sent from the Throne of England, to all
sortes of well deseruers.

9 Lastly, the Nine Worthyes, with seuerall Coronets, present themselues
before the Throne, which are put backe by certaine in the habite of
Angels, who set vpon the Ladies head, which represents her Maiestie, an
Emperiall Crowne, garnished with the _Sunne_, _Moone_ and _Starres_;
And so with Musicke both with voyce and Instruments shee is taken vp
into Heauen, when presently appeares, a Throne of blessed Soules, and
beneath vnder the Stage set forth with strange fireworkes, diuers
blacke and damned Soules, wonderfully discribed in their seuerall


The plot of England’s Joy, specially photographed for this book, from
the original, with kind permission of the Society of Antiquaries.]

In the fifth paragraph of this most interesting programme of “England’s
Joy” appears the name of Lopus, or more correctly Lopez. This name
opens up a wide field of controversy, for the bearer was a Jew, and
English historians aver that since the expulsion of that race in 1290,
no Jew set foot on English soil until the time of Cromwell, over 350
years later than the first and only exodus. There can be no doubt that
a certain number of Jews visited these shores, and a few settled here
and made it their permanent home. This Lopez was a celebrated Jewish
physician, and was honoured by being elected house surgeon to St.
Bartholomew’s Hospital; afterwards he became physician to Queen
Elizabeth. After many years’ residence in this country he was arrested
on suspicion of being implicated In a plot to poison the Queen; he was
duly tried, convicted and sentenced to be hanged, which sentence a
few months later was carried out at Tyburn. According to Camden, the
learned antiquarian, Lopez’s last words on the scaffold were that he
loved the Queen as much as he did Jesus Christ, which naturally leads
one to the assumption that he must have been a converted Jew and have
forsaken the faith of his fathers, or else Camden may have invented
this dying confession in order to show that some Jews believed in the
Christian religion.

[Illustration: Either the Rose Theatre or the First Globe Theatre.]

When the Swan Theatre was sold it realized the sum of £1,873. A view of
the exterior of the theatre is depicted in Visscher’s Map of London,
1616. The old theatre is marked on the Map of the Manor, dated 1627.

This sketch of the interior of the Swan Theatre, dated circa 1596,
important as it is, must not be taken too literally; many discrepancies
can be detected when compared with our knowledge of the contemporary
stage. Especially noticeable is the bareness of the stage, and lack of
all signs of any suggestion of a curtain, which, judging by directions
in old plays, was a most important feature. Also be it remembered
that the Swan playhouse was not typically a playgoers’ theatre, being
devoted chiefly to feats of activity and other pastimes.


The last theatre built on the Bankside was the most famous of all,
namely, the Globe. On the stage of this theatre the greatest of the
Shakesperean plays were first acted; here Shakespeare followed the
actor’s calling, covering a period of ten years.

The site of such a famous spot might well kindle the imagination of
every Englishman who takes a pride in the welfare of his country.
Instead of which, what do we find? Truthfully speaking, not one
Englishman in a thousand could indicate in what part of the Metropolis
the Globe Theatre stood, and many could be found totally ignorant of
the existence in early days of that theatre. Strange to relate, the
fascinating study of old London does not appeal to modern Englishmen.

What would be the opinion of the greatest creator of the grandest
literature the world has known if he could behold the vast majority of
present day citizens, the labouring class of Britons, being sweated
half-naked in factories for the benefit of a body of shareholders who
look upon them as fuel for their machines? Such is England of to-day!
and those men who accept such conditions deserve nothing but contempt.
The better class idolize sport, cultivating physical strength at
the expense of the mind; all the brains this sporting class possess
seem hidden in their hands or feet; naturally brought up under these
conditions they despise the beauties of the mind, and become slaves
of their sensuous feelings, which would even make a Chinaman look
down upon them with contempt. The only way to eradicate these vicious
symptoms is by teaching the younger generation that money-making is not
the fountain of happiness, and that hours of freedom are necessary for
the enjoyment of life and the worship of both toil and wealth are fit
only to be followed by despised nations.

If these rules are dutifully followed, Englishmen would be themselves
again, and not a crowd of unworthy people whose only topic of
conversation consists of sport, money, and amusement.

Judging from the dastardly act of razing Crosby Hall to the ground,
little care they for the beautiful and sacred memorials of the past,
otherwise such acts of vandalism would scarcely be permitted. Our
City Authorities, filled with wine, beer, and turtle soup, allow these
Philistines for the greed of gold to desecrate and demolish every
ancient building, and are equally blamable in permitting these scandals
of impiety to be carried out by the demons of improvement.

Some disgusting brewery, or evil-smelling warehouse or factory, are
the buildings generally erected on these famous sites. No doubt the
idiot guardians of the City regard these unsightly buildings as vast

Such being the spirit of the times, there is little reason for wonder
that not even the sites of many ancient important places of interest
can be accurately delineated. Unfortunately this indictment applies
in some measure when we search for the site of the Globe Theatre.
The original plot of ground occupied by the theatre can only be
conjecturally restored, and then the deepest research and careful
reading of old documents must be diligently studied, besides which the
poring over old maps is most essential for the true discovery of the
exact sites.

An extremely illuminating article on the site of the first Globe
Theatre was contributed to the transactions of the London and Middlesex
Archæological Society in 1912 by Mr. George Hubbard, Vice-President
of the Royal Institute of British Architects. This pamphlet was first
read at the Bishopsgate Institute in February of the same year. This
learned dissertation was the result of a vehement discussion following
the fixing of a bronze tablet on the outside wall of Messrs. Barclay
and Perkins’ Brewery, situated on the south of Park Street, formerly
Maid Lane. The dispute arises over which side of the road the original
Globe Theatre occupied, either on the north or the south side of Maid
Lane, the modern Park Street. After a careful perusal of Mr. Hubbard’s
article, every sensible reader will strongly endorse the author’s views
and give his vote without demur for the north side.

Mr. William Martin, in a little special pleading, maintains in a most
able and interesting paper which appeared in the _Surrey Archæological
Collections_, vol. xxiii, that the site must be sought on the south
side, without, in my judgment, convincing anyone. Before Mr. Hubbard
entered the field of controversy, Mr. Martin’s article had already been

When the Burbages dismantled their playhouse in Shoreditch, they
removed the materials of the building, which chiefly consisted of wood,
over the water, and there on the Bankside erected a new theatre. _The
Times_ printed four articles from the pen of Mr. Wallace, Professor
of English Literature in an American university, on matters of great
interest in connexion with the Globe Theatre. The document in question
relates of a family dispute, which was eventually brought into
Court. During the Shakesperean era, and later, the Law Courts were
appealed to for the settlement of disputes of the flimsiest character,
demonstrating the litigious nature of the citizens in Elizabeth’s
reign. To these quarrels and the survival of legal documents are due
the knowledge which we now possess of early theatrical history. The
plaintiff in this case was Thomasina Osteler, the widow of a well-known
actor and sharer in the Globe and Blackfriars playhouses, the defendant
being the John Hemmings, ever remembered as one of the joint editors of
the _First Folio of Shakespeare’s Works_.

The defendant was the father of the plaintiff, Thomasina, who claimed
certain shares in the Globe Theatre. Her attorney, in maintaining her
claim, cited certain leases from legal documents, and, fortunately for
us, he drew up a plan of the ground occupied by the Globe Theatre. The
following account, stripped of all legal verbiage, reads as follows;
“All that parcel of land enclosed and made into four separate garden
plots, late in the tenure of and occupation of Thomas Burt and Istrand
Morris, dyers, and of Latantius Roper, salter, citizen of London,
containing in length from east to west 200 feet of assize lying and
adjoining upon a way or lane then on one side, and abutting on a
piece of land called “The Park,” upon the north, and upon a garden in
the occupation of one John Cornish towards the west, and on another
garden plot in the occupation of one John Knowles towards the east,
with all the houses, buildings, etc. And also that parcel of land just
recently enclosed and made into three several garden plots, whereof
two of the same were in the occupation of one John Roberts, carpenter,
and another in the occupation of Thomas Ditcher, citizen and merchant
tailor, of London, containing in length from east to west 156 feet
of assize, lying and adjoining upon a garden plot in the occupation
of William Sellers towards the east, and upon another garden plot in
the occupation of John Burgram, saddler, towards the west, and upon a
lane there called Maiden Lane, towards the south, with all the houses,
buildings, etc. Upon which same premises or upon some part thereof
existed a certain playhouse fit for the showing or acting of comedies
and tragedies.”

This account was diametrically at variance with the accepted
conclusions respecting the site of the theatre, which all previous
writers had placed due south of Maid Lane. The newly-discovered
document mentions the north side of the theatre as being bounded by
the Park and the south side by Maid Lane. The stumbling block in the
new theory was the placing of the theatre north of the lane bounded
by the Park; the only Park known was Winchester Park, consisting of
about sixty acres, which lay south of Maid Lane. For the solution of
this difficult problem we must thank Mr. Hubbard, who has pointed out
that the northern boundary named “The Park” had no connexion with the
well-known Winchester Park, but refers to a strip of land called “The
Park” abutting on the shore of the Bankside. Professor Wallace notes
that: “What the Park was is not certain, possibly an inn or a little
garden, for this district boasted several such little plots variously
named. In any case, this so-called ‘Park’ was in no way connected with
the great Winchester Park.”

Further proof is shown in an entry in one of the token books, which
is preserved at Southwark Cathedral, dated 1598, in which occurs the
following memorandum: “From the Park.” The collector of the rents for
Nicholas Brend, the owner of the property on which the playhouse stood,
makes several similar entries in the “Token Books,” all dealing with
property in the neighbourhood.

In another of these Sacrament Token Books is a further entry: “Globe
Alleye Brend Rents, 1612.” “Globe Alleye Brende’s Rents nowe Bodley’s”
is an entry for the year 1613.

Mr. Hubbard thus comments on these entries: “The name Globe Alley
is first inscribed in a marginal note under the heading of Brand’s
Rents, on page 61 of the Token Book for the Clerk Liberty for the year
1619. This alley was not apparently known as Globe Alley until that
year.” This statement is not quite accurate, as Globe Alley is already
recorded in the year 1612. This alley lay north of Maid Lane, easily
identified in the old maps of London; although unnamed, the outline of
this thoroughfare is clearly discernible in the map of Ralph Aggas,
and also in that of Braun and Hogenberg, engraved by Hofnagel. Both
these views were issued in 1572, from their similarity, one engraver
must have copied the other. In Norden’s Map of London, published in
1593, this way or lane can be distinctly traced. In Rocque’s Map,
dated 1745, a Globe Alley is marked on a London map for the first
time. This alley is there shown on the south side of Maid Lane, this
insertion causing all the trouble and confusion. The writers of the
annals of the early London theatres blindly concluding that this alley
marked the entrance to the old Globe Theatre; it does nothing of the
kind. What most likely occurred is that when the second Globe Theatre
was demolished the original Globe Alley of the Token Books was also
destroyed. In later years a new Alley of the same name appears, perhaps
in commemoration of the Globe Theatre, whose exact site was quite

Mr. Martin adopts the fanciful view that the draftsman had before him a
rough sketch, in which the top edge of the plan lay towards the south
and Maid Lane towards the north, thus agreeing with Mr. Martin’s own

The exact spot where the Globe stood should be sought for between
Red Lion Wharf and Southwark Wharf, both wharves being marked in the
Ordnance Survey. The early Globe Alley will be found facing Clink
Street, on a plot of ground now called Ironworks Yard, situated on
Bankside, which in former times led to the famous Globe Theatre.

The maps of Aggas and Hofnagel depict two amphitheatres, one marked
“The Bolle bayting” and the other further east, “The Bear bayting.” On
turning to Norden’s map we find that the “Bear bayting” has vanished
and the old “Bolle bayting” sport is now marked the Beare house. Now
let us cast a glance at Visscher’s beautiful engraved view of London,
1616; there we notice in the foreground two distinct amphitheatres, the
one towards the west marked the Bear Garden, the other The Globe. From
the position of these two structures, no one, after carefully reading
the above details, can mistake the position of the Globe which stands
in Visscher’s view on the site of the original Bear House, so named in
the old maps, the site corresponding with the vacant space in Norden’s
map, and now definitely named the Globe.

The importance of locating the exact site of the most celebrated
theatre in the world has led me into a somewhat lengthy discussion on
the subject. There now remains for the Shakespeare Reading Society the
duty of removing their handsome plaque to the opposite side of the road
without further delay.

The Globe theatre was opened in the spring of 1599 with a probable
production of “Henry V.” “Within this wooden O” is mentioned in the
prologue. The Globe was round in form, and built chiefly of wood.
Another reference in the same play clearly proves that “Henry V” was
acted sometime in the year 1599.

                        “But now behold
    In the quick forge and working house of thought
    How London doth pour forth her citizens!
    The Mayor and all his brethren in best sort
    Like the senators of the antique Rome.
    With the plebians swarming at their heels,
    Go forth and fetch their conquering Caesar in,
    As by a lower, but by loving likelihood,
    Were now the general of our gracious empress,
    As in good time he may from Ireland come,
    Bringing rebellion broached on his sword,
    How many would the peaceful city quit
    To welcome him!”

This passage commemorates a very exciting contemporary event. The Earl
of Essex, the Queen’s favourite, was despatched to Ireland, in command
of a large force with the object of subduing the rebel Earl of Tyrone.
Essex set out in March, 1599, not returning until September of the same
year. When these lines were written, Essex was the idol of the people.
The Irish expeditionary force under his command was a complete failure,
and the Earl suffered greatly in reputation, and in no sense returned
as a conquering hero.

Professor Lawrence affirms that there does not exist any authentic view
of either the exterior or the interior of the first Globe Theatre.
Professor Baker, of Harvard University, maintains that the circular
building in the foreground of Hondius’s map of London, dated 1610, is
intended for the Globe. Halliwell-Phillipps, a great authority on all
Shakesperean matters, identifies this theatre with the first Globe.
Fleay, on the contrary, argues that the Rose is the theatre depicted.
Professor Lawrence further states that no reliance can be placed on the
evidence of old maps. They were based for the most part on surveys made
many years previously, and published in later years without careful
alterations in details, and in them the Bankside theatres are seldom
correctly located. This building must either indicate the Rose or the
Globe; nothing is known after 1606 of the Rose, which may have fallen
into desuetude whereas the Globe was at the zenith of its reputation.

Critically examined, the evidence favours the Globe, and in my opinion
may fairly be declared as the theatre indicated. The structure marked
the Globe, in Visscher’s view, is the second Globe Theatre, built after
the disastrous fire of 1613, the new theatre being erected on the site
of the old one.

This view so well known by frequent reproductions, is by most people
regarded as the original theatre. In a map, dated 1657, a copy of the
original being in my possession, four theatres are shown--namely, The
Swan, The Hope, The Rose, and The Globe. The Hope and Globe occupy the
spaces formerly marked in Aggas and Hofnagel maps as “The Bolle Bayting
and The Bear Bayting.” The Rose is misplaced in the 1657 map, being
too far north of the Hope and the Globe, the proper position should be
marked south-east of the Hope and south-west of the Globe. Considering
the historical importance of the Globe Theatre, how much cause for
regret exists that such scanty records remain of this time-honoured

In spite of these limitations, diligent research by patient and skilful
scholars have greatly increased the knowledge necessary for a complete
understanding of this theatre.

The building was circular or octagonal in shape, and was open to the
sky. The roof running round the topmost gallery was thatched; a large
aperture in this part of the building admitted the light. The drawing
of the interior of the Swan, a most important Elizabethan document,
gives a fairly representative view of an early Shakesperean theatre,
and it is more than likely that the interior of the Globe presented
a like appearance. An extra volume would be required in formulating
the conditions under which a Shakesperean play was produced, and then
three-fourths of the treatise would be mere conjecture.

[Illustration: Frontispiece to James Howell’s Londinopolis, 1657,
showing the position of four London theatres, circa 1600. From left to
right are the Swan, the Hope, the Rose, and the Globe. This engraving
is taken from an original copy in the possession of the Author.]

We know for certain that the management was under a company of actors,
who occupied the theatre during the whole period until destroyed by
fire; this company was known under different names at various periods,
but chiefly as The Lord Chamberlain’s Servants. Contemporary documents
prove that Shakespeare was a member of this company, besides being
an important shareholder. How he disposed of his investments is nowhere
mentioned: they may have been sold on retiring from the stage in 1609;
his will is silent respecting these shares, a sure sign that he had
already parted with them.

For a period of fourteen years thousands of Londoners, drawn from all
classes of society, enjoyed the dramatic production offered by the
company playing at the Globe on the Bankside, yet we search in vain for
any detailed notice of even one performance. What must we think of the
critics and scribblers who had a giant in their midst and knew him not;
long notices of bull and bear fights abound, but the first performance
of “Hamlet” found no chronicler; perhaps on that day a big fight in the
bear pit was advertised, which was considered a greater attraction.
Even in our days a sensational and exciting performance would rather
engage the attention of the critics of the daily papers than, in their
eyes, the lesser attraction of a Shakesperean performance even if acted
by celebrated players.

For instance, Miss Lily Elsie, in a new musical comedy of the vulgarest
type, would appear of greater importance from a press point of view
than Forbes Robertson in the character of Hamlet.

The only evidence we obtain of plays being acted at this theatre is
from entries made in the books of the Stationers’ Register: “A book
called the _Revenge of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke_, as it was lately
acted by the Lord Chamberlain’s servants.” The name of the Lord
Chamberlain indicating where the play was produced. Similar evidence
is likewise derived from the title pages of the early quartos issued
during the lifetime of the poet. In the whole range of Elizabethan
literature not a single page can be discovered criticising those
wonderful scenes enacted almost daily before their eyes at the Globe
or in previous years at other theatres, before that building was
erected, although a vast amount of printed matter, more than the
present generation can conceive, was constantly being issued from the

London alone possessed nearly a thousand publishers, booksellers and
printers, and the number of books on all subjects was enormous. The
great part of this large output has been thoroughly ransacked with
the object of discovering Shakesperean references, unfortunately with
rather meagre results. The general public of the day reads nothing of
this mass of literature, with the exception of Shakespeare’s works,
although many of the books are really worth perusal. Even _Plutarch’s
Lives_, the most popular book of the last three centuries, is entirely

The lengthy description which is given in relating the history of
the Swan Theatre applies in a more or less degree to all the other
Shakesperean theatres, and now the mournful duty remains of chronicling
the total destruction of the first Globe Theatre by fire.

This great catastrophe befell it on St. Peter’s Day, June 29th, 1613.
Oh, what a conflagration! In the space of two hours the building was
a heap of smouldering ruins, no doubt containing many of the previous
manuscripts of Shakespeare’s plays; this statement is quite gratuitous.
Shakespeare may have preserved his original MSS. at Stratford, or they
may have been destroyed, after the prompter’s copy had been transcribed
from the original, as being of no further use. We know the Bodleian
Library parted with their First Folio when the third appeared, as being
in the eyes of the then librarian of no account when a later edition

When the fire broke out a performance was taking place of a play
called “Henry VIII, or All is True.” Whether this was Shakespeare’s
play of “Henry VIII” is a debatable point. The secondary title, “All
is True,” is never associated with Shakespeare’s “Henry VIII.” The
higher criticism rejects this play of “Henry VIII” as not forming
part of the Shakesperean canon, although included in the First Folio.
Wolsey’s farewell speech is such a favourite of mine that I am willing
in ascribing the whole play as Shakespeare’s.

This theatre possessed only two doors, one in front being the entrance
door and the other situated at the rear of the building. This back
entrance was used by the actors, and also for those provided with
seats in the balcony, or were accommodated with seats in the Lords’
rooms. The reason for so few entrances can be explained by the peculiar
manner in which payment was made by the gatherers of the theatre. A
most interesting reference to the Globe will be found in the journal
of _Prince Lewis of Wirtemberg_, representative of the United Foreign
Princes to France and England in 1610, written by his secretary,
Wurmsser. The original MS. is in the British Museum (_Lundi 30. S.
Eminence alla au Globe, lieu ordinaire ou l’on joue les comedies_) in a
manuscript volume, written by Dr. Forman a few months before his death
in 1611, and now preserved among the Ashmolean MSS. in the Bodleian
Library. This interesting manuscript was exhibited in the Bodleian
Library at an exhibition of rare Shakesperean books in connexion with
the tercentenary of the poet’s death. I purposely visited Oxford with
the object of examining this wonderful collection. Dr. Madun, the
learned librarian, expressly pointed out to me this interesting volume.

“In ‘Richard II’ at the glob 1611 the 30th of April. In the Winterstale
at the glob 1611 the 15th of Maye. Of Cimbal in ‘King of England.’ In
‘Macbeth’ at the Glob 1610 the 20 of April.”

Appended are notes about the different plays. By comparing the notes of
“Richard II” the play cannot be one Shakespeare wrote.

Extracts concerning the burning of the Globe Theatre:

    “London, this last day of June, 1613. No longer since than
    yesterday while Burbage his companie were acting at the Globe the
    play of Hen 8. And there shooting of certayne chambers in way of
    triumph, the fire catch’d, and fastened upon the thatch of the
    house and there burned so furiously as it consumed the whole house
    and all in less than two hours, the people having enough to save

Letter from Thomas Lakins to Sir Thos. Pickering.

    “Now to let matters of state sleep, I will entertain you at the
    present with what hath happened this week at the Bankside. The
    King’s players had a new play called ‘All is True,’ representing
    some principal pieces of the reign of Henry the 8th which was set
    forth with many extraordinary circumstances of Pomp and Majesty,
    even to the matting of the stage, the Knights of the Order, with
    their George and Garter, the Guards with their embroidered coats
    and the like sufficient in truth within a while to make Greatness
    very familiar if not ridiculous. Now King Henry, making a masque
    at the Cardinall’s Wolsey’s house, and certain canons being shot
    off at his entry, some of the Paper or other stuff wherewith some
    of them were stopped, did light on the Thatch, where being thought
    at first but an idle smoak, and their eyes more attentive to the
    show, it kindled inwardly and ran round like a train, consuming
    within less than an hour the whole House to the very ground. This
    was the Fatal period of that virtuous Fabrique, where yet nothing
    did perish but Wood and straw and a few forsaken cloakes. Only one
    man had his breeches set on fire, that would perhaps have broyled
    him if he had not by the benefit of provident witt put it out with
    bottle ale.”

Letter from Sir Henry Wotten to his nephew, Sir Edward Bain, reprinted
in _Relique Wottonae_, 1635.

    “All you that please to understand
      Come, listen to my story,
    To see Death with his rakering brand,
      Mongst such an auditorye,
    Regarding neither Cardinal’s might,
    Nor yet the rugged face of Henry the eighth.”

A sonnet upon the pitiful Burning of the Globe playhouse in London.
Anonymous about 1613.

    “If I should have set down the several terms and damages done this
    year by fire, in the very many and sundry places of this Kingdom,
    it would contain many a sheet of paper, as is evident by the
    incessante collections throughout the Churches of this realm for
    such as have been spoyled by fire. Also upon S. Peter’s day last,
    the playhouse or Theatre called the Globe, upon the Bankside neare
    London, by negligent discharging of a peal of ordinance close to
    the south side, the Thatch thereof took fire and the wind sudainly
    disperst the Flame round about and in a very short space the whole
    building was quite consumed and no man hurt, the house being filled
    with people to behold the play, viz., of Henry the 8. And the next
    spring it was new builded in a far finer manner than before.”

_The Annals or General Chronicle of England_, begun first by Master
John Stow and afterwards continued and augmented with matters foreign
and domestique, ancient and modern, unto the end of the present year,
1614, by Edmund Howe, Gentleman, London.

Howe evidently made a slip when he wrote ‘upon S. Peter’s Day last,’
that date would refer to the year 1614. Howe admits that he continued
the chronicle up to the end of that year, 1614. The fire took place in

    “But the burning of the Globe or Playhouse on the Bankside on S.
    Peter’s Day cannot escape you which fell out by a peal of chambers
    that I know not upon what occasion, were to be used in the play,
    the tampin or stopple of one of them lighting in the thatch that
    covered the house, burned it to the ground in less than two hours
    with a dwelling house adjoining, and it was a great marvel and fair
    grace of God that the people had little harm having but two narrow
    doors to get out at.”

John Chamberlain wrote to Sir Ralph Winwood on July 8th, 1613.

Sir Henry Wotten’s letter, previously quoted supplies us with the
use of the chambers which so puzzled John Chamberlain. This letter
acquaints us with the important fact that only two narrow doors
admitted the spectators at the theatre.

    “Well-fare the Wise-man yet on the Bankside
    My friends the Waterman. They could provide
    Against thy furie, which to serve their needs
    They made a vulcan of a sheafe of Reedes
    Whom they durst handle in their holyday coates
    And safely trust to dresse, not burn their boats
    But O these Reeds’ they mere disdaine of them
    Made thee beget that cruell stratagem
    Which some are pleased to stile but thy madde pranck
    Against the Globe, the Glory of the Bancke
    Which though it were the Fort of the whole Parish,
    Flank’d with a Ditch and forced out of a Marish,
    I saw with two poorchambers taken in
    And razed ere thought could urge this might have been.
    See the World’s Ruins! nothing but the piles
    Left, and wit senate cover it with tiles.”

Ben Jonson, in his “Execration upon Vulcan,” published among his
Miscellaneous Poems in a book called _Underwoods_, wrote a short poem
commemorating the fire.

    “As gold is better when in fire tried,
      So is the Bankside Globe that late was burned,
    For where before it had a thatched hide
      Now to a stately Theatre ’tis turned.”

In the Prologue to the “Doubtful Heir,” a play by Shirley.

The day following the fire, two ballads in the event were entered at
Stationers’ Hall; one was entitled “The Sodayne Burninge of the Globe
on the Bankside in the Play tyme of St. Peter’s Day last, 1613.” The
other was called “A doleful ballad of the generall overthrowe of the
famous theatre on the Bankside called the Globe, etc.,” by William
Parrat. Both these ballads have perished, but one of them may be
identified, in a manuscript volume of poems in the library of Sir
Mathew Wilson Mart. One stanza runs as follows:

    “Some lost their hattes and some their swords,
    Then out runne Burbage, too;
    The Reprobates, though drunck on Monday,
    Prayed for the foule-Foole and Henry Condye.
    Ther with swolne eyes, like druncken Fleminges,
    Distressed stood old struttering Heminges.”

Both Heminge and Condell were the editors of the famous _First Folio_.

An interesting reference to the burning of the Globe Theatre will be
found in a quaint volume entitled, “A Concordancy of Yeares, containing
a new easie and most exact Computation of Time according to the English
Account. Also the use of the English and Roman Kalendar, with briefe
Notes, Rules and Tables as well, Mathematical and legal, as vulgar for
each private man’s occasion. Newly composed, digested and augmented.”

“Nicholas Okes for Thomas Adams, 1615. By Arthur Hopten, Gentleman.”

This first edition is not in the British Museum, but a copy of the
second edition, dated 1616, will be found in that institution. At
the end of the volume is a calendar, or what we should term a diary,
of chief events of the year. The calendar commences from 1066 until
the date of publication. In the British Museum copy of the second
edition the events are jumbled together without mentioning the date,
but in the first edition, which by good chance I happened to see at
Sotheby’s auction rooms, most of the events are dated thus: Middleton’s
Waterworks finished 1611; the House of Correction, Clerkenwell, opened
1615. In the year 1613 three events are chronicled: Death of Prince
Henry, the marriage of Princess Elizabeth to the Palatine, and the
play-house on fire, which last event happened on June 29th, 1613. I did
not have time to consult the diary carefully, but I think in all other
years only one event is given to each year.

In 1644 Sir Mathew Brand, the son of Nicholas Brand, the original owner
of the ground on which both the first and second Globe Theatres were
built, pulled down the building and erected tenements, which in course
of time were likewise demolished, giving place to a dwelling-house;
on the latter being cleared away, warehouses were erected which are
standing at the present day.

The sign of the first Globe Theatre was a figure of Atlas supporting
the Globe, bearing underneath an inscription: “Totus mundus agit
histrionem.” A rendering into English occurs in Jacques’ soliloquy in
“As You Like It”: “All the world’s a stage.”


The opening of the Globe Theatre in the spring of 1599 proved from the
outset a most successful venture, seriously curtailing the profits of
its near rival, the Rose; this latter theatre gradually discontinued
the legitimate drama, diverting its energies in an entirely different

[Illustration: The First Fortune Theatre. Built in 1600. Situated
midway between Golden Lane and Whitecross Street.]

Henslowe, the proprietor of this neglected playhouse, was a man of
varied resources, combined with unbounded capital, two great advantages
in speculative undertakings. Foreseeing that the opposition would
eventually overwhelm him, a swift plan of action was devised which
enabled him in continuing uninterruptedly his theatrical prosperity.
Without hesitating, he formulated a scheme of erecting a new theatre
on the north side of the Thames. The building was far removed from
the keen competition, such as was in vogue at the Globe, of the Lord
Chamberlain’s servants. The Fortune Theatre, for such was the name of
Henslowe’s latest enterprise, was situated in a district northwest of
the heart of the City.


                          The Roaring Girle,

                           _Moll Cut-Purse_.

         As it hath lately beene Acted on the Fortune-stage by
                       _the Prince his Players_.

              Written by _T. Middleton_ and _T. Dekkar_.


            My case is alter’d, I must worke for my liuing.

  Printed at _London_ for _Thomas Archer_, and are to be sold at his
             shop in Popes head-pallace, neere the Royall
                            Exchange. 1611.

            My case is alter’d, I must worke for my liuing.

In searching for the exact site, the enquirer must walk straight
down Aldersgate Street until he strikes the Barbican, then follow
the Barbican until Beech Street is reached; at each end of this
thoroughfare two streets branch off, both leading to Old Street;
midway between these two streets, named respectively Golden Lane and
Whitecross Street, stood the Fortune Theatre. A distant reminder of the
past will be noticed by a street called Playhouse Yard, a turning off
Golden Lane. Why this place should be termed a yard is rather puzzling,
as outwardly it bears the monotonous look of an ordinary London street,
which most readers will agree is far from picturesque.

Professor Lawrence, in his exhaustive list of the early London
theatres, can find no view of this theatre; on the other hand,
Professor Baker gives an illustration of this theatre, taken from
Ryther’s Map of London, dated 1604. “In the district I have described
is to be seen a building from the top of which a flag is flying; on
the churches marked in the map a cross is seen.” This distinction is
decidedly in favour of Professor Baker’s theory.

In the last month of the year 1600 the Fortune was opened to the
public, meeting with bitter opposition from the City Authorities and
the Puritanical section of the people. Notwithstanding all those
obstacles, coupled with innumerable complaints, Henslowe and Allen,
his son-in-law, steadily proceeded with their undertaking, being
eventually rewarded for all the anxiety and persecution by the complete
success of their new venture.

The documentary evidence in proof of the opposition they encountered
has been preserved in a letter addressed by the Earl of Nottingham, the
Lord Admiral: “To all and every of her Majesty’s Justices and other
Ministers and Offices in the County of Middlesex requiring them to
suffer his servant Edward Alleyn to proceed unmolested in the founding
of his new playhouse near Redcross Street.” This letter does not seem
to have produced the desired effect; thereupon, Allen caused a petition
to be drawn up by the most influential inhabitants of Finsbury, in
whose Lordship lay the site of the Fortune, beseeching the Lords of the
Privy Council that the erection of the new house might be allowed to
proceed, on the grounds that the site was conveniently chosen, so as
to cause no annoyance, and that the projectors had promised a weekly
allowance to the poor of the parish. Twenty-seven names were attached
to this petition, which was engrossed on the first week in April, 1600.

On the 8th of April a warrant was issued on behalf of the Privy
Council, and signed by the Earl of Nottingham, Lord Hunsdon, the
Lord Chamberlain, and Robert Cecil, to the following effect: “To the
Justices of Peace and the County of Middlesex, especially of St. Giles,
without Cripplegate.” The document refers to the petition of the
inhabitants, and adds that Allen’s choice of a site in Golden Lane is
recommended by some of the Justices themselves.

Another item mentioned is that of an old theatre to be pulled down;
this would lead one in inferring that when the new theatre was licensed
that either the Rose or the Curtain would be demolished, and presumably
promises were given to that effect. However, the said theatres
continued their career for many years after these interdicts. Even
after the warrant from the Privy Council certain parties were still
clamouring for the reduction of the number of playhouses, as is evident
by a letter from the Privy Council addressed to the Lord Mayor for the
restraint of the immoderate use and company of playhouses and players.

In reading the Privy Council’s Bill of Complaint, one would conclude
that the Lords of the Council played a double part, one in urging the
restriction of the playhouses and actors, the other in protecting
the same. The latter proceeds to state: “That there shall be about
the City two houses and no more allowed to serve for the use of the
common stage plays. And forasmuch as their Lordships have been informed
by Edmund Tylney, esquire, her Majesty’s servant and Master of the
Revels, that the house now in hand to be built by the said Edward
Alleyn is not intended to increase the number of playhouses but to be
instead of another, namely, the Curtain, which is either to be ruined
and plucked down, or to be put to some other good use, as also that
the situation thereof is meet and convenient for that purpose, it is
likewise ordered that the said house of Alleyn shall be allowed to
be one of the two houses, and namely for the house to be allowed in
Middlesex for the company of players belonging to the Lord Admiral, so
as the house called the Curtain be as it is pretended, either ruined or
applied to some other good use, and for the other house allowed to be
on the Surrey side, whereas their Lordships are pleased to permit to
the company of players that shall play there to make their own choice
which they will have of divers houses, that are there, choosing one of
them and no more, and the said company of players being the servants
of the Lord Chamberlain and that are to play these have made choice
of the house called the Globe, it is ordered that the said house and
none other shall be allowed there. And speedily it is forbidden that
any stage plays shall be played as sometimes they have been in any
common inn for public assembly in or near about the City. Further, it
is ordered that the two several companies of players assigned unto the
two houses allowed may play each of them in their several houses twice
a week and no oftener, and specially they shall refrain to play on the
Sabbath day upon pain of imprisonment and further penalty, and that
they shall forbear altogether in the time of Lent and likewise at such
times as of extraordinary sickness or infection of disease shall appear
to be in or about the City.”

This document sums up the position of theatrical matters in the last
year of the sixteenth century, and, frankly speaking, the outlook was
not a particularly rosy one.

However, this order of the Council was quite a dead letter and need
not have been written. Theatrical managers took no notice of these
commands, and the threatened theatres remained undisturbed.

There must have been some reason why this order was disobeyed; many
critics contend that the Lord Admiral and the Lord Chamberlain were
desirous of creating a monopoly for their servants, others with more
show of reason point out that the Privy Council tried to sugar over
the feelings of the City Authorities by writing polite letters, but
when the fatal moment arrived they refused the permission granted in
the correspondence. Perhaps the Queen took a greater share in these
transactions than is generally supposed by the historians of the
theatre, protecting in her own person the poor player.

All these points are merely surmises; further documents may enable us
to discover the true solution of this interesting enigma. Fortunately
the contract for the building of this theatre is still in existence.
The extreme importance attaching to this document warrants its
transcription in full, respecting the chief items. The contract was
made out on the 8th day of January, 1599, between Philip Henslowe
and Edward Allen on one part and Peter Short, citizen and carpenter,
of London, on the other, for the building and setting up a new House
and stage for a playhouse in and upon a certain plot of ground near
Goldinge Lane, in the parish of St. Giles, without Cripplegate. “The
frame of the house to be set up square, and to continue 80 feet of
lawful assize every way square, without and 55 feet of like assize
square every way within, with a good, sure and strong foundation of
piles, brick, lime and sand both without and within, to be wrought one
foot of assize at the least above ground, and the said frame to contain
three stories in height, the first a lower storey to contain twelve
foot of lawful assize in height, the second storey eleven foot of
lawful assize in height, and the third or upper storey nine foot. All
which storeys shall contain twelve foot and a half of lawful assize in
breadth throughout, besides a jutty forwards in either of the two upper
storeys of ten inches, with four convenient divisions for gentlemen’s
rooms and other sufficient and convenient divisions for twopenny rooms,
with necessary seats to be placed and set as well in these rooms as
throughout all the rest of the galleries, and with such like stairs,
conveyances and divisions without and within, as are made and contrived
in and to the late erected play house on the Bank, in the said parish
of Saint Saviour’s, called the Globe, with a stage and tiring house
to be made, erected and set up within the said frame, with a shadow
or cover over the said stage, which stage shall be placed and set, as
also the staircases of the said frame in such sort as is prefigured,
in a plot thereon drawn, and which stage shall contain in length forty
and three foot of lawful assize, and in breadth to extend to the middle
of the yard of the said house, the same stage to be paled in below with
good strong and sufficient new oaken boards, and likewise the lower
storey of the said frame withinside, and the same lower storey to be
also laid over and fenced with strong iron piles. And the said stage
to be in all other proportions contrived and fashioned like unto the
stage of the said Playhouse called the Globe, with convenient windows
and lights glazed to the said tiring house. And the said frame, stage
and staircases to be with tile, and to have sufficient gutter of lead,
to carry and convey the water from the covering of the said stage to
fall backwards, and also the said frame and the staircases thereof to
be sufficiently enclosed without with lath, lime and hair. And the
gentlemen’s rooms and twopenny rooms to be ceiled with lath, lime and
hair, and all the floors of the said galleries, storeys and stage
to be boarded with good and sufficient new deal boards of the whole
thickness where need shall be. And the said house and other things
before mentioned to be made and done, to be in all other contrivitions,
conveyances, fashions, thing and things effected, finished and done
according to the manner and fashion of the said house called the Globe,
saving only that all the principle and main posts of the said frame and
stage forward shall be square and wrought pilaster wise with carved
proportions called Satyres, to be placed and set on the top of every
of the same posts, and saving also that the said Peter Short shall
not be charged with any manner of painting in or about the said frame
house and stage or any part thereof nor rendering the walls within nor
ceiling any more other rooms than the gentlemen’s rooms, twopenny
rooms and stage before mentioned. That the said Philip Henslowe and
Edward Allen will well and truly pay to the said Peter Short the full
sum of four hundred and forty pounds (£440) of lawful money of England.”

[Illustration: The second Fortune Theatre, 1621.]

This contract is noteworthy as affording the means in some measure of
reconstructing the Globe, also corroborating the evidence of the Swan
sketch, especially with regard to the auditorium, which corresponds in
most particulars with the plans formulated in the Fortune indenture.
During Henslowe’s lifetime--he died in 1616--the only company of
players which appeared at the Fortune were those of the Lord Admiral,
which in former days had their headquarters at the Rose. The last entry
in Henslowe’s Diary is a note detailing the accounts received from the
Fortune in 1608, beginning at the Christmas holidays.

For many years past the Diary had ceased chronicling the name of the
plays acted day by day, as we find in the Rose accounts, consequently
nothing is known of the repertoire of this theatre. The Admiral’s men
continued acting at this house until its total destruction by fire in
1621. Allen notifies this event in his diary. “This night at 12 of the
clock the Fortune was burnt.”

On the death of his father-in-law, Allen took control of all his
property, either by bequest or in right of his wife. The estate
included the Fortune Theatre. Henslowe’s will was at first disputed
by his nephew, John Henslowe; this action must have failed, as Allen
became the sole possessor of his father-in-law’s property.



                             ARRAIGNED BY

                           _A new Comedie_,
                 Acted at the _Red Bull_, by the late
                           Queenes Seruants.


    Printed for _Richard Meighen_, and are to be sold at his Shops
      at Saint _Clements_ Church, ouer-against _Essex_ House, and
                     at _Westminster_ Hall. 1620.

In 1616 Allen leased the theatre to the Admiral’s men, thus becoming
responsible only for the building. The loss of everything else through
the fire fell upon the shoulders of the company. An account of the
burning of the Fortune Theatre is recorded under the date of December
15th, 1621, in a letter written by John Chamberlain to Sir Dudley
Carleton. “On Sunday night there was a great fire at the Fortune, in
Golden Lane, the fayrest playhouse in this town. It was quite burnt
downe in two hours and all their apparell and playbooks lost, whereby
the poor companions are quite undone.”

A new Fortune arose three years later on the site of the old one,
namely in 1624. An improvement in the building was effected by
constructing the house of brick. Allen possessed shares in the new
theatre, otherwise he had no interest or responsibility in the

During the Civil War the theatre was dismantled, and the playhouse
ceased for evermore its connexion with the drama. In 1682, Church
Services were held there, and finally it became many years later a
fully established brewery. The shape of the interior of the second
Fortune is a matter of controversy, well known experts disagreeing on
this point. The exterior is illustrated in Wilkinson’s _Londonia_, and
shows a square-shaped building.

The house took its name from the image of a Goddess which stood in
front of the theatre, but whether it was a sculptured sign or a
painting must remain undecided.


The next theatre on our list is the Red Bull, until lately unanimously
assigned to the year 1609. Professor Lawrence, in his second series of
Elizabethan studies, would antedate this reckoning by nearly a decade;
unfortunately no reference is given for this early date. After spending
many fruitless hours in search of fresh discoveries, I inserted a note
in _Notes and Queries_, receiving by return one private communication,
and a few answers through the journal itself. Although my note was
perfectly clear, the information was what was already known, and dealt
chiefly with the later fortunes of the Red Bull.

Professor Baker, even as late as 1907, dates the opening of the theatre
after 1608. The observant reader will readily perceive that the
history of the early English stage is in a state of chaos. Scholars
such as Mr. Greg, Mr. Chambers, Sir Sidney Lee, and Prof. Lawrence,
who are especially endowed with thorough knowledge of the subject,
should for the benefit of posterity undertake the colossal task of
re-writing the history of the stage during the Shakesperean period. Mr.
Fleay’s chronicle history of the stage is much too fragmentary, from
the theatrical point of view, for the guidance either of the general
student or readers interested in the subject.

In my opinion all Collier’s works must be entirely discarded as this
dishonest _littérateur_ forged documents, notes, and even whole
books, in order to substantiate his theories. Certainly he possessed
great knowledge of the matter, and may well be termed the pioneer in
scientific research, but his criminal methods require that the student
must verify all his statements, therefore if the reader is wise, all
this author’s works should be rejected on account of the difficulty of
distinguishing the true from the false.

The site of the Red Bull is situated near the Clerkenwell Road end of
St. John Street, formerly called St. John Street Road. On the left hand
side, going towards the Angel, Islington, is Hayward’s Place; close
by is Woodbridge Street, on this space stood the Red Bull. Previous
to the year 1609 nothing is heard of this theatre in the annals of
the stage. Recently documents have come to light proving its earlier
existence, and, as stated above, Professor Lawrence would place the
date as early as 1600. A well-known print of this theatre, of which
I possess the original copy, is generally styled “The inside of the
Red Bull Theatre.” This engraving first appeared in a book called
Kirkman’s _Wits or Sport upon Sport_, published in two parts, a second
edition being reissued in one volume in 1673, with the engraving as
frontispiece, the original print does not bear any inscription; this
is found only on the modern reproduction issued in 1809. The print
was sold separately which may possibly account for the fanciful
description. One glance at the drawing will convince the student that
the print can in no way be associated with the old Red Bull Theatre.
The Red Bull was a public theatre, being open to the sky, with a
thatched roof, performances being given only in the daytime. Now the
print plainly indicates by the inclusion of chandeliers hanging from
the roof, as well as a row of rabbit-eared footlights along the front,
that if a contemporary theatre is represented a private one is intended.

[Illustration: Reproduced from an original engraving in the possession
of the Author. Erroneously inscribed as the interior of the Red Bull
Theatre. Now generally identified as the inside of a theatre during the

The massing of spectators on either side of the stage is evidence
that the drawing is an imaginary one, made up partly from an early
Elizabethan stage, combined with the Restoration Stage of Charles II.

Possibly it may represent a real stage of the latter period, but cannot
under any circumstances resemble the old Red Bull Playhouse during any
time of its existence. Seven characters are represented on the stage,
illustrating a few of the plays that could be acted by a strolling
company. The principal motive of Kirkman’s book is “for those players
who intend to wander or go a strolling; this very Book and a few
ordinary properties are enough to set them up and get money in any Town
in England.”

1. Sir J. Falstafe and Hostes represent characters of that name in
Shakespeare’s “Henry IV.”

2. The figure emerging from behind the curtain is Green, the actor,
who took the part of Bubble, the City Gallant, whose answer to every
complaint is “Tu quoque,” the play on this account being re-christened
“Tu quoque.” The play was published in 1614, and is still extant. There
is evidence that the drama was acted at the Red Bull in the year 1611.

3. Clause is one of the chief characters in the “Lame Commonwealth,”
taken from “The Beggar’s Bush,” a tragic-comedy, by John Fletcher,
circa 1615. The scene is laid somewhere in Flanders, but the play is
named after a well-known tree, called “The Beggar’s Bush,” between
Huntingdon and Coxton. The play was first printed in 1647. On looking
up an old theatrical dictionary, dated 1792, this play is ascribed to
Beaumont and Fletcher, and is written “The Beggar’s Bush.”

4. “French Dancing Mr.,” a droll taken from the Duke of Newcastle’s
play called “Variety,” printed in 1647. The dictionary adds that this
play was acted with very great applause at the Black Fryars.

5. “Simpleton” seems to be an independent farce, in which one, Robert
Cox, an actor, made a great hit and caused roars of laughter from the
unsophisticated audience by eating a huge slice of bread and butter,
and complaining that a man cannot be left undisturbed to eat a little
bit for his afternoon luncheon.

6. The “Changling” is a character in Middleton’s tragedy of that name.
Antonio, who pretends idiocy in order that he may gain access to the
wife of a mad doctor. This play was acted before the Court at Whitehall
in 1624.

The history of this theatre still awaits an historian.

Its most enthusiastic supporters were the rougher elements of the
population, who then, as now, chiefly delighted in lurid melodrama
of a very pronounced type. The Chancery proceedings, in 1617, elicit
the fact that certain members of the Red Bull company were sued for
money owed; further proceedings state that they were unable to satisfy
the claim--certain evidence that their finances were anything but

This theatre cannot claim any Shakesperean associations, although
enjoying a longer lease of life than any other playhouse of that
period, being last named as a theatre as late as the year 1663. Pepys,
the celebrated Diarist, visited the Red Bull in 1661. Mr. Barton Baker,
in his history of the London stage, suggests that the Red Bull Theatre
was originally an inn-yard, theatrical performances taking place there;
he also casually mentions an accident caused by the collapse of the
auditorium. By the word auditorium I presume he means the galleries
that surrounded the yard on three sides. Mr. Baker does not give any
references for these statements, or give further details of the event.

An interesting notice of this theatre, which existed during the early
days of the Commonwealth, will be found in Randolphe’s “Muses’ Looking


    Wherein, quoth he, reigns a whole world of vice,
    Had been consumed, the Phœnix burnt to ashes,
    The Fortune whipped for a blind--Blackfriars,
    He wonders how it escaped demolishing
    In the time of Reformation; lastly he wished
    The Bull might cross the Thames to the Bear-gardens
      And there be soundly baited.

Edward Allen, the Elizabethan actor, also mentions this theatre in a
manuscript note preserved at Dulwich College: “Went to the Red Bull
and received for the Younger Brother (a play) but £3 6s. 4d.”

In 1629 a company of French comedians acted here for one day only.
After being deserted by the actors, the Red Bull offered various
entertainments to the public. There is extant a bill which was formerly
in possession of Mr. Eliot Hodgson, advertising a fencing match at the
Red Bull on Whit Monday, 30th May, 1664. This is surmounted by a large
woodcut of the Royal Arms, and is printed on a sheet of coarse paper,
measuring 5⅚ inches by 7½ inches. No authentic view of either the
interior or the exterior is in existence.

Above the illustration of the Red Bull Theatre check will be found a
facsimile of an admission to the Roman Coliseum, built A.D.
72. This rare specimen is perfectly genuine, and was purchased by me
many years ago at the Buxton Forman sale. It is an interesting souvenir
of ancient theatrical times; the numerals, VII, on the reverse refer
to one of the sections of the vast building, and may have been a
complimentary ticket before the tax on deadheads came into vogue.

When the building was finally demolished is likewise uncertain.
An interesting metal check ticket, giving admittance to the Upper
Gallery of the Red Bull, is extant, the date of which is between the
Restoration and the closing of the Red Bull as a theatre, namely,
1660-1663. The obverse has the head of a bull, within a wreath, tied
in a knot with ribbons; a double ring encircles the entire figure.
The reverse has simply the words UPPER GALLERY one above the
other, a star is over the second P in upper, and another under the
second L of Gallery; the whole is within a double lined circle.

[Illustration: Facsimile of an admission ticket to the Roman Coliseum.
Circa A.D. 90. Reproduced from a genuine ivory ticket in the
possession of the Author.]

[Illustration: Ticket of Admission to the Red Bull Theatre.]

The writer of an article on Shakespeare, in which an illustration
appears, considers this check as a souvenir of the Globe; this
ascription may be due to a clerical error. Most writers on
Shakesperean matters, unless they are expert students, are seldom
accurate in their statements; they are too apt in seeking information
from paragraphs culled from ancient encyclopædias, a very unsafe medium
for sound knowledge. Almost every sentence requires patient research;
in some instances a dozen or more books must be consulted in verifying
quite an ordinary statement, and very few writers possess the necessary
patience for such monotonous work. For suchlike people I would
recommend novel writing--a much easier task, and which can be pursued
without interruption.

[Illustration: The large theatre in the foreground is the Second Globe
Theatre, 1614. The small one is the Hope.]


The last theatre set up on the Bankside, and also the last public
theatre opened during Shakespeare’s lifetime, was the Hope, built in
the year 1614, two years before his death. This reconstructed building
had originally served as an amphi-theatre for bull baiting, being
marked on the maps of both Aggas and Hofnagel in 1572, also in Norden’s
map of 1593.

Twenty years after Aggas’ map appeared, the bull-baiting house had been
converted into a bear-baiting establishment; the old bear-baiting house
seen in these maps was, in 1599, occupied by the famous Globe Theatre.
The playhouse marked in Norden’s map is the Rose, then the sole theatre
on the Bankside.

The cause of the Bear-house being turned into a theatre was due to the
Globe Theatre being burnt to the ground in the previous year 1613.
Cunning old Henslowe, seizing an opportunity of taking advantage of
this catastrophe, converted his rival’s misfortune to his own profit.
The contract for demolishing the old Bear Garden is still in existence,
setting forth that an arena for the exhibition of bear-baiting,
likewise a stage suitable for play acting, was to be erected. Under
these conditions the stage was a movable one, thereby permitting the
performance of either entertainments.

The contract states that it was to be built like the Swan, a theatre
erected nearly twenty years previously, a proof that few alterations or
improvements were made in theatrical structures during this long period.

Most people interested in theatrical matters are aware that customs
appertaining to the theatre are handed down from generation to
generation, and innovations in stage tradition are seldom, if ever,
introduced, even in such an improving age as our own.

This theatre is without any Shakesperean association, and the only
stage play, so far as is known, publicly acted there is Ben Jonson’s
“Bartholomew Fair,” in 1614. This play contains several theatrical
allusions, one of which is defining the spectators of the pit as “the
understanding gentlemen of the ground.” Shakespeare names the same
audience as the “groundlings” in Hamlet’s speech to the players. For
several days in the week the Hope was given over to bear-baiting and
other sports. There is an account of one Fenner, who challenged Taylor,
the Water Poet, to a combat of wits. On the day appointed, Fenner
failed to put in an appearance, thereby causing the great enmity of
Taylor, who wrote some rather poignant and sarcastic verses in memory
of the event. Fenner replied by a mock epitaph:

    “O! ’twas that foolish scurvie play
    At Hope that took his sense away.”

Taylor replied:

    “Thou writest a hotch potch of some forty lines
    About my play at Hope and my designs.”

On the rebuilding of the Globe, the Hope stood little chance against
such a powerful rival; in fact, this building was never seriously
regarded as a theatre. When the new Globe was entirely rebuilt the Hope
gradually resumed its former occupation as a bear-baiting house, which
in reality had never been discarded.

As a bear-baiting garden, a reference is found in Swetnam’s
_Arraignment of Women_, 1617: “If you mean to see the bear-baiting of
women then trudge to this bear garden apace, and get in betimes and
view every room where thou may best sit for thy pleasure.”

The further history of the Hope after 1616 is quite unconnected with
the drama. It flourished for many years. After Shakespeare’s death,
Cunningham, in his _Handbook of London_, says that the best account
of its last days is narrated in Howe’s MS., a continuation of Stow’s
Survey; this must be by some other hand than Howe’s, as he died in
1631. “The Hope, on the bankside in Southwark, commonly called the
Beare Garden, a playhouse for stage players on Mondays, Wednesdays,
Fridays, and Saturdays, and for the baiting of the Beares on Tuesdays
and Thursdays, the stage being made to take up and down when they

It was built in the year 1610, and was pulled down to make tenements,
by Thomas Walker, petticoat maker, in Cannon Street, on Tuesday, the
25th of March, 1656.

Seven of Mr. Godfrie’s Bears, by command of Thomas Pride, then High
Sheriff of Surrey, were then shot to death on Saturday, the 9th of
February, 1655, by a company of soldiers. A few years later, after
the Restoration, the Bear Garden, was renamed, and continued giving
exhibitions until 1691. In an advertisement, dated 1682, the Hope is
still styled by its old name. This paragraph, which appeared in the
_Loyal Protestant_, must refer to some new building, or perhaps the old
name was still in use.



                     Presented at the Blackfriers
                   by the Kings Maiesties servants,
                         with great applause:

                   Written by the memorable Worthies
                            of their time;

                   { M^r. _John Fletcher_, and   } Gent.
                   { M^r. _William Shakspeare_.  }


       Printed at _London_ by _Tho. Coses_, for _Iohn Waterson_:
            and are to be sold at the signe of the _Crowne_
                     in _Pauls_ Church-yard. 1634.

The last we hear of this new Hope is in 1691, when an advertisement
states there is now made at the Bear Garden glass house, on the
Bankside, crown window glass, and may be had of all glaziers in London.
Howe is in error in stating that the Hope was built in 1610; this
theatre was built soon after the Globe fire in 1614. In Visscher’s
map of London, 1616, is an excellent view of this theatre, named the
Bear Garden. Another view is seen in Hollar’s view of London, the
last differs slightly from Visscher’s in shape. During an interval of
thirty-three years a few alterations may have been introduced.

An interesting souvenir of the bear-baiting house is preserved amongst
the Dulwich papers. This relic takes the form of a modern playbill,
with the exception that the text is written instead of printed. The
advertisement is written in a large round hand, and may have been
the original placard placed in front of the building: “To-morrow
being Thursdaie, shall be seen at the Bear garden on Bankside a great
mach plaid by the gamsters of Essex, who hath chalenged all comers
whatsoever to play V dogges at the single beare for V pounds, and also
to wearie a bull dead at the stake; and for your better content shall
have pleasant sport with the horse and ape and whiping of the blind
beare. Vivat Rex.”


The first Blackfriars theatre was opened in 1577, occupying the second
floor of a mansion belonging to Sir William More, serving, in former
times, as a dining hall, in the old monastic Priory of Blackfriars.
This part of the building, after its devolution, was converted into
separate rooms, and occupied by Sir John Cheek in 1540. A few years
later these rooms were tenanted by the Revels Office, under the
Mastership of Sir Thomas Cawarden, continuing in use until 1560, when
the offices were removed to St. John’s, Jerusalem. Eventually this
property came into the possession of Sir William More, who leased the
premises to Richard Farrant, Master of the Children of Windsor. The
site of these buildings will be found in the present Apothecaries’
Hall, in Water Lane, Blackfriars.


                            WARRES OF CYRUS
                  King of Persia, against _Antiochus
                           King of Assyria_,
                        with the Tragicall ende
                              of Panthæa.

                     Played by the children of her
                          Maiesties Chappell.



                Printed by E. A. for William Blackwal,
              and are to be sold at his shop ouer against
                       Guild-hall gate. _1594._

Richard Farrant, on taking possession, turned the rooms into a theatre
for the convenience of the boys in rehearsing their plays before
performing before the Queen. The owner of the property was much
displeased at Farrant’s procedure, vigorously complaining that the
tenant had damaged the property by converting the rooms into a theatre.

No views or records of the interior of this theatre exist, therefore,
in reconstructing the stage, or auditorium, from imagination,
conjecture must take the place of facts. Whether galleries surrounded
the stage, as we find in the public theatres, or whether the spectators
were seated on a level in front of the stage, is a matter of dispute.
Another point of controversy is whether the stage protruded into the
auditorium or continued from east to west in a straight line, as seen
in a modern stage. These questions at present cannot be determined with
certainty. Until Professor Wallace discovered the documents relating to
the Blackfriars property nothing was known about this early theatre.
The Children of the Chapel Royal and the Children of Windsor regularly
acted here, and for a few years were exceedingly successful, owing to
their being under the immediate patronage of the Queen. Farrant, their
Master, wrote plays for them, but none have survived. At Farrant’s
death, in 1580, the theatre was managed by his widow, but she was
unable for long to carry out the terms of the lease, and, after
endless litigation, extending over four years, the theatre again came
into the possession of the original owner, Sir William More.



                            AT THE PRIVATE
                          HOVSE IN THE BLACKE
                  Friers, and publikely at the Globe
                   by the Kings Maiesties Seruants.

       Printed for _H. Seile_, and are to be sold at the Tygers
                  head in Saint _Pauls_ Church-yard.


During the four years of quarrelling and bickering, the widow Farrant
sold the lease to Hunnis, a celebrated Master of the Children of the
Chapel, who continued training the children and producing plays. The
other company, the Children of Windsor, ceased playing there two years
before the death of Farrant. Hunnis, after two years’ ownership, was
so much harassed by the proprietor, that he, in his turn, leased
the theatre to Henry Evans, who took over the management. This new
arrangement lasted but for a brief period, for in the same year Evans
disposed of the lease to the Earl of Oxford, who placed here his
company of boy actors. But eventually the Earl made a present of the
lease to Lyly, the poet and dramatist, who managed the theatre until
1584, when an order of the Court awarded the premises to Sir William
More. This ends the history of the first Blackfriars Theatre.

The second Blackfriars Theatre dates from the year 1596. James Burbage,
the father of Richard Burbage, purchased from Sir William More, for
£600, the buildings that lay between the office on the north and Lord
Hunsdon’s mansion on the south. After the purchase of the property he
immediately remodelled these rooms, making them suitable for a theatre.

James Burbage died in 1597, and his sons leased the second Blackfriars
Theatre to Henry Evans, in conjunction with Nathaniel Gyles, who
succeeded Hunnis as Master in 1597. The Children of the Chapel occupied
the stage, acting plays written by all the celebrated dramatists of
the period, with the exception of Shakespeare, whose plays are not
mentioned as acted by the Children. Most critics, including Professor
Wallace himself, contend that Shakespeare acted in this theatre. There
does not exist an item of evidence in support of this theory, beyond a
statement made by Burbage’s sons many years after Shakespeare’s death,
that Richard Burbage installed Shakespeare at this theatre, but in what
capacity is nowhere mentioned; and I doubt very much if Shakespeare
ever set foot upon the stage, in spite of the above statement. No
authentic views of this theatre are known; Professor Baker gives an
illustration of the exterior of this theatre, but its authenticity is
not beyond doubt. The second Blackfriars Theatre was situated in a
different part of the building from the first. When Burbage purchased
the property, several rooms on the south side were converted into one
large hall, measuring 66 by 46 feet. The room on the north side was
formerly the home of the boy actors, under Farrant. The Blackfriars
was a private playhouse, the word “private” denoting that the theatre
was roofed and performances were given at night time, or on account
of the theatre being within the liberties of the City, the proprietor
safeguarded himself by this designation in order to comply with the
Act of Common Council; one clause of which exempted from penalties any
private dwelling house exhibiting Enterludes, Comedies and Tragedies.
The charges were somewhat higher than those in force at the public
theatres. At this theatre, stools were allowed upon the stage, Although
called a private theatre, anyone by paying the higher price was allowed


There is some slight evidence that a stage for acting existed in the
vicinity of Whitefriars as early as 1574. Richard Rawlidge, in his
tract already referred to, enumerates, among other playhouses in the
year 1576, “one in Whitefriars.” Fleay mentions that this is the
only reference to the old Whitefriars playhouse until 1610. Professor
Lawrence is again at variance with the usual authorities: he would
assign the opening of the new Whitefriars, circa 1608. According to
a burial register of St. Dunstan’s Parish, Whitefriars, in September
29th, 1607, which records the following interment: “Gerry out of the
playhouse in the Friars buried.” Another entry is: “We present one
playhouse in the same precinct, not fitting these to be now tolerable.”



                       _Acted at VVhite-Fryers_.

                           By IOHN MARSTON.



      Printed by _T. S._ for _Thomas Archer_, and are to be sold
             at his Shop in Popes-head-Pallace, neere the
                       _Royall-Exchange_. 1613.

By the date 1607 both our professors have misdated the opening of
the theatre. Another valid proof of how greatly we are in need of a
veritable authentic history of the early theatres.

The place in which the stage was first set up stood in the Refectory of
the demolished Monastery of the Carmelites, situated between the modern
Bouverie and Whitefriars Streets, in Fleet Street. The early history
of this theatre is a total blank, both as regards the stage and the
company of actors, who gave performances there.

If conjecture is permissible, probably strolling players were allowed
the use of the stage, or more likely a regular company for want of a
better place, acted here. The performers were safe from molestation,
on account of the ground being ecclesiastical property, therefore not
being subject to the jurisdiction of the City Authorities.

In 1607, or earlier, this old hall was probably converted into a
regular theatre, and from that date continued as such until 1616, when
for an indefinite period the place was abandoned. On being re-opened,
acting took place as usual, subsequently being finally abolished in


                      _Excellent Comedy, called_
                             THE OLD LAW:

                       A new way to please you.

                           {_Phil. Maßinger_.
                        By {_Tho. Middleton_.
                           {_William Rowley_.

        Acted before the King and Queene at _Salisbury House_,
          and at severall other places, with great Applause.

          Together with an exact and perfect Catalogue of all
           the Playes, with the Authors Names, and what are
              Comedies, Tragedies, Histories, Pastoralls,
                Masks, Interludes, more exactly Printed
                           then ever before.


        Printed for _Edward Archer_, at the signe of the _Adam_
                and _Eve_, in _Little Britaine_. 1656.

The Children of the Queen’s Revels made their home here. Many of the
ablest dramatists wrote plays for them. Ben Jonson’s “Epicene” was
one of the first plays they produced. A list of actors’ names is
prefixed to the printed edition of 1612. The celebrated actor, Richard
Field, is the first actor named.


After the abolition of the Whitefriars Playhouse, another arose in the
same district, and was called the Salisbury Court Theatre. The site is
now occupied by the Salisbury Hotel, in Salisbury Square, Fleet Street.
Edward Sackville, fourth earl of Dorset, leased a piece of land to
Richard Gunnel and William Bargrave for forty-one and a half years, at
a rental of £100 per annum.

The company of the King’s Revels were the first who occupied the house.
A few years later we find the Prince’s men acting there. Among other
plays produced by them was Marmion’s “Holland’s Leaguer,” lately and
often acted by Prince Charles’ men at the Salisbury Court Theatre. A
list of actors is prefixed to the first edition of this play, printed
in 1632. In 1635, the Revel’s company again were in possession of this
theatre, and produced a play called “The Spargus Garden.” The theatre
continued in existence for many years, and was not abandoned until the
fatal year 1649, when all theatres, without exception, were finally
closed. At the Restoration this theatre was still in existence, but in
a very dilapidated state. After being made habitable, play-acting was
again resumed. Pepys records a visit to this theatre in his Diary. The
fire of London counted this building among its victims. No views of any
description are known.



                             _The Famous_
                             THE RICH IEVV
                              OF _MALTA_.

                            AS IT WAS PLAYD
                          BEFORE THE KING AND
                       QVEENE, IN HIS MAJESTIES
               Theatre at _White-Hall_, by her Majesties
                      Servants at the _Cock-pit_.

                    _Written by_ CHRISTOPHER MARLO.



    Printed by _I. B._ for _Nicholas Vavasour_, and are to be sold
              at his Shop in the Inner-Temple, neere the
                             Church. 1633.

This small, roofed private theatre was first opened in 1615, and was
partially demolished by a band of wild apprentices. The cause of their
action is not known. Speedily being rebuilt, it continued under the
name of the Phœnix as a playhouse, until 1649, when the building was


                              OF HOFFMAN

                        A Reuenge for a Father.

                   As it hath bin diuers times acted
                 with great applause, at the _Phenix_
                           in _Druery-lane_.



          Printed by _I. N._ for _Hugh Perry_, and are to bee
            sold at his shop, at the signe of the _Harrow_
                     in _Brittaines-burse_. 1631.

The company of the Lady Elizabeth, daughter of James I, acted at this
house. A list of actors’ names is recorded in the Herbert MSS. After
the Restoration the theatre was once more used for play-acting, the
last recorded performance taking place in 1664. Cockpit Court, Drury
Lane, marked in Strype’s map of London, 1720, stood on the site of the
old theatre. In later years the Court was known as Pit Court, but now
this place has entirely vanished. Formerly a cockpit existed in this
neighbourhood, from which the theatre was named. Like so many other
theatres of this period, no authentic views are known.



                             THE VVIDDOVV
                          of Watling-streete.

                  _Acted by the Children of Paules._

                           Written by W. S.


                    Imprinted at London by G. ELD.



Many printed plays have inscribed on their title pages: “As played by
the Children of Powles.” Very little is known of their place of acting.
The exact site on which that part of the Cathedral was allotted to
these boy actors still remains a point of discussion. Many authorities
assert that the music room of the choir in St. Gregory’s Church, in a
corner of St. Paul’s, was the place assigned to them; others consider
the yard adjoining Convocation House, a more convenient spot, and
thoroughly suitable for a dramatic performance. Professor Lawrence
is in favour of the singing school, near the Convocation House.
Until further evidence is forthcoming the question cannot be finally
determined. St. Paul’s singing school was built in the year 1581, and
remained in use until 1596, when it was suppressed. A few years later
this room may have been occupied by the Children of St. Paul’s, and
many a famous play of that period was probably acted there. All the
great dramatists, with the exception of Shakespeare, wrote for the
Boy Actors. The place served as a training ground for young actors,
who afterwards joined the professional men’s companies. Shakespeare
bitterly satirized these juveniles in “Hamlet.”


                         Most pleasant Comedie
                       of _Mucedorus_ the kings
                   sonne of _Valentia_ and _Amadine_
                   the Kings daughter of _Arragon_,
                       with the merie conceites
                              of _Mouse_.

                   Newly set foorth, as it hath bin
                _sundrie times plaide in the honorable
                          Cittie of London_.

                       Very delectable and full
                               of mirth.



                 Printed for _William Iones_, dwelling
                        at Holborne conduit, at
                        the signe of the Gunne.




In the early days of Elizabeth, actors sought refuge under the
_aegis_ of some great noblemen, otherwise they were branded as
rogues and vagabonds, subject to arrest at any moment, followed by a
term of imprisonment. The only way of escaping these stringent and
harsh measures was by placing themselves, as above stated, under
the patronage of Royalty and nobility, thereby securing freedom in
following their calling without interruption or molestation. When
the actors first sought the protection of the aristocracy, in all
probability they became in reality the servants of the Lord who
protected them, keeping themselves in readiness at the command of
their masters, either acting at a public place or giving private
performances. In course of time these ties became loosened, and the
actors, in name only, were the servants of their patron, acting
wherever and whenever they could find an appreciative audience. The Act
of Parliament proclaiming them outcasts still remains in force, the Act
never having been repealed.

Under these conditions they called themselves servants of the Queen,
the Earl of Pembroke or the Lord Chamberlain his servants, thus
enabling them to follow their profession in peace, and remain within
the bounds of the law. It is generally admitted that when Shakespeare
arrived in London he joined the Earl of Leicester’s Company, or
perhaps he may have enrolled himself as one of their members when they
visited Stratford-on-Avon in the year 1587. A year later Leicester
died; Shakespeare then became a member of Lord Strange’s Company and
remained in this company under different patrons until his retirement
from the stage about 1610. The last six years of his life were spent in
Stratford-on-Avon, where he died in 1616.

As would naturally be expected, the company whose fortunes Shakespeare
followed has loomed largely in the student’s mind. The other
companies being partially ignored by thus restricting the attention
to the Strange-Hunsdon company, the true perspective of the London
companies is lost, and many which played quite an important part in
the theatrical world of the time have become, through neglect in
chronicling their history, somewhat obscured.

Behold here is another subject on which the Shakesperean student, by
original research amongst the State and Records Office papers, might
be able to throw considerable light on the histories of these dramatic
companies. For the present the student must rely on the confused
paragraphs of Fleay, recorded in his history of the stage. Mr. John
Tucker Murray’s _English Dramatic Companies_ is a mine of information,
chiefly describing the performances given in provincial towns by the
London Companies, and also their Court performances. He likewise gives
an excellent account of the minor companies which, previous to this
work, were quite unknown, but little of anything new is related in
connexion with the careers of the well-known London companies.


                           FAMOVS VICTORIES
                             of Henry the

                       Containing the Honourable
                        Battell of Agin-court:

              _As it was plaide by the Queenes Maiesties



                    Printed by Thomas Creede, 1598.

Dr. Greg, in his magnificent edition of _Henslowe’s Diary_, no doubt
relates all that is known about these London companies, Malone and
Halliwell-Phillipps being his chief authorities. I think he makes a
great mistake in quoting Collier, as this forger of documents and
dishonest man of letters has no right to be regarded as a serious
historian. All the documents he quotes may have been doctored in
order to bolster up his own statements, besides which, anyone using a
document which has passed through his hands should be very careful in
recording the contents without a close examination, as many documents
which he examined have been tampered with.

In Shakespeare’s time the companies acting in London before the death
of Queen Elizabeth were eight in number, as follows:

    The Queen’s Servants.
    The Earl of Leicester’s Servants.
    The Earl of Pembroke’s Servants.
    The Earl of Worcester’s Servants.
    The Lord Strange’s Servants.
    The Lord Hunsdon’s Servants.
    The Earl of Sussex’ Servants.
    The Lord Admiral’s Servants.


This company was formed in the year 1583. The chief actors from other
companies were pressed into this new troupe of regal comedians: most
of their names are known. Howe, in his edition of _Stow’s Annals_,
published in 1615, mentions Wilson and Richard Tarlton, the former for
a quiet, delicate and refined extemporal wit, and the latter for a
wondrous, plentiful pleasant, extemporal wit; he was the wonder of his

James Burbage, the founder of the first theatre in this country, was
one of the first members. The Queen’s Company frequently acted in
various parts of the country, likewise at the Court, and continually
in London. In the Metropolis they made The Theatre their headquarters;
sometimes they acted under the management of Henslowe at the Rose.
A few of the plays in their repertoire found their way into the
Press, the title page stating, “As was played by the Queen Majesty’s
players.” One of their playbooks was the drama called “The True Tragedy
of Richard III,” a play that Shakespeare must have read or seen on the
stage. Some half-dozen plays are known as belonging to this company,
including the famous victories of “Henry V,” the foundation play of
Shakespeare’s “Henry V.”

After the Queen’s death, in 1603, they ceased being called the Queen’s
players, and those actors who formed the company at this time sought
other patronage, or were transferred wholly to some distinguished
nobleman. There are no grounds for believing that some of the Queen’s
players found a new patron in Ludwic Stuart, Earl of Lennox, who was
already patron of a company of players.


The Earl of Leicester is the earliest known nobleman under whose
patronage the players first placed themselves, His name is found in a
document as early as 1559, and until his death, in 1588, he remained a
friend of the actors.

James Burbage, by trade a joiner, was a member of this company. In
every important theatrical company of these times are found three well
marked divisions of activity. First the actors performed in London,
either at an inn-yard, hall, or properly built theatre. Secondly,
provincial tours were arranged, especially when the plague was rampant
in the Metropolis; in some instances the Continent was visited.
Thirdly, a Court performance was commanded; naturally, only the better
class companies were thus honoured.


                         A Pleasant Commodie,

                  of faire _Em_ th. Millers daughter
                  _of Manchester: VVith the loue of_
                        William the Conqueror:

            As it was sundrietimes publiquely acted in the
          _honorable citie of London by the right honourable_
                    the Lord Strange his seruaunts.


                Imprinted at London for T.N. and I. VV.
           and are to be solde in S. Dunstones Church-yarde
                          in Fleete-streete.

The Earl of Leicester’s company performed all these duties. A visit
to Denmark is especially enumerated, the names of the actors being
written down in the town records of Elsinore, which name instinctively
recalls to mind the magic name of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.
During a lengthy provincial tour, the Earl of Leicester’s company
visited Stratford-on-Avon in 1587. Unfortunately there is no proof to
corroborate the theory that Shakespeare may have joined the troupe on
this occasion of their visit to his birthplace. When in London this
company acted several times at Court, in one instance the name of the
play being recorded. In February, 1574, was acted at Court the play
called “Philemon and Philecia,” for which they received £6 13s. 4d.,
and a further reward of £3 6s. 8d. It is nowhere stated where this
company acted, but we are on sure ground in assuming that the locality
was The Theatre, as James Burbage, one of the players, owned the
property and, no doubt, acted as manager.


One of the most successful companies in Shakespeare’s time was that
known during the latter years as the Lord Chamberlain’s Servants.

The early history of this company is traced back to a troupe of actors
under the patronage of Lord Strange. The first years of its career are
practically unknown, beyond a few records of performances in provincial
towns, prior to 1589 no reference of any description is known of the
company’s appearance on the London stage, nor of a command performance
at Court before 1591.

This company comes into greater prominence than others of no less
distinction, chiefly on account of Shakespeare being one of the
members. In all probability he joined this company after the death of
his first patron, the Earl of Leicester, in 1588, when many of the
actors of Leicester’s company threw in their lot with the Strange
contingent. With the latter he remained, participating in all the
varying fortunes of so hazardous an existence and vicissitude until
his retirement from the stage.

Unfortunately for future students, this company found no minute
chronicler like Henslowe, recording all the performances and other
details connected with the daily routine of the theatre, events which
would have greatly interested future generations of those who make a
study of the Elizabethan stage. Scattered up and down the country, a
few municipal documents have been discovered bearing upon this company,
a fact which must cheer the hopes of those engaged in this dreary work
that other references will in due course be found. At present, only by
piecemeal, can any continuous history of this important London company
be constructed.

The first document of any importance is dated 1589, proving that
Lord Strange’s men acted at the Cross Keys, an inn-yard situated
in Gracechurch Street. But playing there was contrary to an order
forbidding acting in the City; they thereby incurred the censure of the
Lord Mayor, who promptly seized two of the members and committed them
to the Compter.

From this period, 1589, until the 19th of February, 1592, their history
remains a blank. Luckily, owing to the _Diary_, they can with certainty
be located as acting at the Rose Theatre from the 19th of February,
1592, until June the 22nd of the same year; at that date the theatre
was closed on account of the plague, when the company sought the
patronage of the provincial playgoer. During the last few months of
the year they will be found playing in the West of England: Bath and
Gloucester possess records of visits paid there.

On their return to London at the end of the year, they gave a few
performances at Newington Butts, and then opened again at the Rose. The
season was of short duration, lasting only from December 15th until the
beginning of February, when the theatre was again closed on account of
the plague, forcing them once more on the suffrage of the provincial
towns, where they are found playing at Bath, Bristol and Shrewsbury.

The year 1592 was quite a busy one: besides their London engagements
and two provincial tours they acted three times at Hampton Court during
the month of December.

In Henslowe’s invaluable _Diary_ twenty-three plays are attributed
to Lord Strange’s company on their first recorded visit at the Rose
Theatre. Evidence is in existence that this theatre may have been built
and plays performed there as early as 1587. One play is of exceptional
interest, namely, the first part of “Henry VI,” which is included in
the First Folio of Shakespeare’s complete dramatic works, published for
the first time in 1623.

“Pericles” is not included in this edition; perhaps omitted through
carelessness, as many editions had been issued during the poet’s
lifetime, with his name on the title page.

Another play mentioned in the _Diary_ as acted by this company is
“Titus and Vespasian,” which may have been the same play as “Titus
Andronicus,” included in the canon of the First Folio. How much of the
former play can be attributed to Shakespeare is very doubtful; that he
had some share in the play is generally accepted, although some critics
argue his authorship entirely. Meres mentioned the play in 1598 as
written by Shakespeare, in spite of which there are a vast number of
students who will not admit that their beloved Shakespeare had any hand
in this chamber of horrors. Some scenes contain passages of undoubted
poetical beauty, but in my opinion not above the standard of many
writers of the time; in fact, I would banish this play altogether from
the Shakesperean canon.

The first part of “Henry VI” was the most popular play of the period,
and is mentioned by Nash as drawing tens of thousands of spectators.
How would it have joyed brave Talbot, the terror of the French, to
think that after he had lain two hundred years in his tomb he should
triumph again on the stage and have his bones new embalmed with the
tears of ten thousand spectators, at least at several times, who in
the tragedian that represents his person imagine they behold him fresh
bleeding. Pierce Penilesse, his supplication to the Devil, 1592.

The other plays acted need no comment; probably they all belonged to
the Henslowe repertory. The different companies acting at Henslowe’s
theatre were allowed the study of his plays, otherwise the explanation
would be difficult how Strange’s company were found acting Marlowe’s
“Jew of Malta,” which was at this period, undoubtedly, the property of
Philip Henslowe.


At the close of the year 1592 the Strange Company is once more in
possession of the Rose. Opening on the 9th of December, they continued
there until the 1st of February, when the theatre again was closed on
account of the plague. During this visit, they acted the same plays
as on the former occasion, with the exception of producing two new
plays, named respectively “The Jealous Comedy” and “The Guise; or, The
Massacre of France.” Nearly the whole of this year London was infected
with the plague, in consequence of which all the theatres were closed,
and the companies compelled to travel. The Strange Company played at
Chelmsford, Bristol, Shrewsbury, Coventry, and Leicester, and most
probably at Chester and York. The two latter places are not found in
the records, but the celebrated actor, Allen, when writing home to
his wife, mentions that the company acted at other towns, and gave
Chester and York as further addresses. A document of some importance
granting a licence to the Strange Company was issued in this year,
although Shakespeare was a member, his name is not included in the list
of actors mentioned. Probably he was not yet a shareholder, which fact
may account for his name being omitted.


                           of the tryall of

                 With the life and death of Caualiero
                            _Dicke Bowyer_.

               As it hath bin lately acted by the right
                  _Honourable the Earle of Darby his_



            Printed by Simon Stafford for Nathaniel Butter,
         and are to be sold at his shop in Paules Church-yard,
                    neere S. Austens gate. +1605+.

Edward Allen, as servant to the Lord High Admiral, figures at the head
of this list. Whether the custom permitted an actor attaching himself
to two different companies has not been satisfactorily explained,
although in this instance the evidence is quite clear.

During the year Lord Strange became the Earl of Derby, and by that
name the company is recorded in the municipal documents of Coventry
and Leicester. Under this title his name appears in print, and that on
the title page of “Titus and Andronicus,” published in 1594, as acted
by the Right Honourable the Earl of Derby, Earl of Pembroke, and Earl
of Sussex, their servants. Once only the Earl of Derby’s name figures
alone, and that is on the title page of a play called “The Trial of
Chivalry,” by the Right Honourable the Earl of Derby, his Servants,

In connexion with the title page of “Titus and Andronicus,” an
interesting and curious instance of the romance of books has recently
been established. Langbaine, in his dictionary of dramatic literature,
published in 1691, states that the first edition of “Titus and
Andronicus” was published in 1594. In modern times the only known
editions were those of 1600 and 1611. After nearly three hundred years
a copy of this first edition, in 1594, turned up in Sweden, and was
promptly secured by an American collector for two thousand pounds.
How little these facts are studied can be seen by referring to the
catalogue of the Tercentenary Exhibition of Shakespeare’s books,
exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum, when the 1600 edition is
catalogued as the first.


Few facts are known concerning the company during this year. The
most important event affecting their welfare was the death of their
patron, Ferdinand Stanley, Earl of Derby, which happened on April 16th,
1594. By an entry in the municipal records of Winchester, they did
not immediately seek a new patron, acting under the patronage of the
Countess of Derby the following month. Before June the third, they had
become the servants of Henry Carey, Baron Hunsdon and Lord Chamberlain.
An entry in the _Diary_ of this year is the first intimation of
this change: “In the name of God. Amen. Beginning at Newington. My
Lord Admiral’s men and My Lord Chamberlain’s (Lord Hunsdon) men as
followeth, 1594.” These two companies occupied the stage at Newington
Butts from June 3rd until the 13th inst., when the Admiral’s men
seceded and played at the Rose. The Chamberlain’s men may have
continued at Newington, but no record of their performances is given.
Anyway, their stay after the separation must have been a short one, as
they visited Marlborough during the summer. The approach of autumn saw
them again in London, Lord Hunsdon petitioning the Lord Mayor asking
permission for his company to act at the Cross Keys, in Gracechurch
Street. No answer is known in connexion with this petition, but the
demand quite likely was granted; if so, Shakespeare’s earliest plays
may have been performed in this very inn-yard, an act of sacrilege
which seems to us almost inconceivable.


                          conceited Tragedie
                           Romeo and Iuliet.

              As it hath been often (with great applause)
               plaid publiquely, by the right Honourable
                          the L. of _Hansdon_
                             his Seruants.


                        Printed by Iohn Danter.


The bare enumeration of three performances at Court in the last days
of December is all that is known of this company’s engagements during
the year 1595. What a contrast to these days, when every stage event,
however trivial, is fully chronicled by our daily and weekly press. Let
us survey now the Elizabethan period: you will find no word of praise
recorded to the greatest masterpieces of all time, although hundreds of
books and pamphlets referring to current events were constantly being
published at this time. The company was now under the patronage of Lord
Hunsdon, who held the office of Lord Chamberlain, the actors being
henceforth known until his death as the Lord Chamberlain’s servants.
A document is still extant which proves that this company received a
reward for playing at Greenwich on St. Stephen’s Day and Innocents’
Day. This entry is of great interest, as among those receiving payment
is the name of Will Shakespeare. This is the first authentic record of
Shakespeare being a member of this company.

Another document, dated December, 1596, refers to payments made in
1595, in which a reward was given to this company for acting five
plays; three were given respectively on St. Stephen’s Day, St. John’s
Day, and Innocents’ Day. Shakespeare’s name is not mentioned in this
document, which states that the actors were the servants of the late
Lord Chamberlain, and are now the servants of George Carey, second
Baron Hunsdon. This second Baron did not immediately succeed his father
as Lord Chamberlain, but held that office on the death of Lord Cobham,
who had been elected to this high official position on the death of the
first Lord Hunsdon. Lord Cobham died in 1596, and then the second Lord
Hunsdon became Lord Chamberlain.


The Lord Chamberlain’s men acted twice at Court, namely, on Twelfth
Night and again at Candlemas Day, at night; the reward was paid to
John Hemings and George Bryan as representing the servants of the
late Lord Chamberlain. Baron Hunsdon having died on July 22nd of
this year. The Company again acted at Court at the end of the year,
giving performances during the Christmas holidays. John Hemings and
Thomas Pope received £60 as reward for the company’s services. Both
Shakespeare’s and Burbage’s names are omitted in these documents. In
former lists their names are mentioned; why their names were omitted
is a rather perplexing problem. At this period they played a prominent
part in the management of the company’s affairs, which makes the matter
all the more mysterious. During the summer the company travelled in
the provinces, but only once at Faversham can their destination be
placed; at this town they are entered in the municipal records as
the players of Lord Hunsdon. The London season of this company is
quite unknown, with the exception of the Court performances. A vague
reference to a performance of “Hamlet” at the theatre in Shoreditch
connects them with this place of entertainment; the old “Hamlet” play
which is lost was included in the repertoire of the Lord Chamberlain’s
Servants. The paragraph alluding to the old “Hamlet” play occurs in
a pamphlet written by Thomas Lodge, entitled, “Wits miserie and the
World’s madness discovering the Devils incarnate of this Age.” One of
the Devils is Hate-Vertue, or sorrow for another man’s good success,
who says that he is a foul lubber and looks as pale as the vizard of
the ghost which cried so miserably at the Theatre like an oyster-wife
“‘Hamlet’ revenge.” This play is generally assigned to Thomas Kyd, the
dramatist, and it is almost certain that from this tragedy Shakespeare
founded his own play of “Hamlet.”


Very little can be gleaned of the company’s whereabouts during this
year. They appeared at Court during the Christmas holidays, and
received their usual reward. As the theatres in London were closed by
order of the Privy Council from August to October, we find them touring
the provinces: records of their visits are found at Bath, Bristol,
Rye, Dover, and Marlborough. On the title page of the first quarto of
“Romeo and Juliet, 1597,” it states that the play was acted with great
applause by Lord Hunsdon’s men; this was the second Lord Hunsdon, who
had not yet become Lord Chamberlain. Marston refers to a performance
of “Romeo and Juliet” given at the Curtain in a book of Satires, dated
1598. This is the only reference to the company appearing in London
during this year.


There only remain very scanty materials to help us in tracing the
engagements of the company during this year. They played as usual
before the Court during the Christmas holidays. Mr. J. T. Murray, in
his admirable and exhaustive study of this company, is unable, owing
to want of material, to give a list of their provincial engagements
after the year 1597 until their visit to London and Scotland in 1601.
As Mr. Murray’s work on the history of the London dramatic companies is
the only one that gives a systematic account of the company’s touring
programme, there is no higher authority or court of appeal. No doubt
the company toured the provinces during these blank years, but all
records are lost.

According to Halliwell-Phillipps, a very interesting performance was
witnessed at the Curtain Theatre, namely, Ben Jonson’s comedy of
“Everyman in his Humour,” in which Shakespeare himself acted the part
of old Knowle. Ben Jonson, according to Aubrey, acted in his own play,
but his name is omitted in the list of actors prefixed to the first
quarto edition of the play. Aubrey, in his _Lives_, has the following

“Jonson acted and wrote, but both ill, at the Green Curtaine, a kind
of nursery or obscure playhouse somewhere in the suburbs, I think
towards Shoreditch or Clerkenwell.” It is surprising that everyone
writing about the stage in the seventeenth century should be so densely
ignorant concerning the history of one of the chief playhouses during
the Shakesperean era.


This year is an important one in the theatrical history of
Shakespeare’s company as during this time the dispute of granting a
further licence to the lessees of the Theatre occurred, which ended in
the demolition of the Theatre and the erection of the Globe Theatre in


                          Most pleasaunt and
                     excellent conceited Comedie,
                   of Syr _Iohn Falstaffe_, and the
                      merrie Wiues of _Windsor_.

                        Entermixed with sundrie
              variable and pleasing humors, of Syr _Hugh_
             the Welch Knight, Iustice _Shallow_, and his
                       wise Cousin M. _Slender_.

                 With the swaggering vaine of Auncient
                    _Pistoll_, and Corporall _Nym_.

                       By _William Shakespeare_.

       As it bath bene diuers times Acted by the right Honorable
            my Lord Chamberlaines seruants. Both before her
                       Maiestie, and else-where.



      Printed by T. C. for Arthur Iohnson, and are to be sold at
          his shop in Powles Church-yard, at the signe of the
                    Flower de Leuse and the Crowne.


By kind permission of Messrs. Griggs.]

“Every man out of his Humour” was first acted at the Globe in 1599.
There is no record of any other company acting here, so it may well
be styled Shakespeare’s Theatre. Astonishing as it may well seem
to us, the truth is that no reference can be found in contemporary
literature of the opening of the Globe Theatre. Surely an event of
such importance must have attracted thousands of the pleasure loving
populace, yet not a single member of that vast assembly jotted down a
memorandum on that auspicious occasion. How we should hail with delight
a contemporary criticism of the first night of “Hamlet” and a detailed
account of the actor-author’s rendering of the Ghost, a part which
tradition says he made his own, but these vain thoughts are the flimsy
creations of an idle brain, and must be discarded for the bare facts
such as we are acquainted with.


Beyond performances at Courts in January, February and during
Christmas, the whereabouts of this company are quite unknown. However,
we may assume that they remained in London, and acted at their new
theatre without intermission until the end of Elizabeth’s reign.

This period was one of great activity in Shakespeare’s life, and many
of his plays found their way to the printing press. “The Merchant of
Venice,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and “Much Ado about Nothing”
were all published for the first time in the year 1600. The date of
publication may have been years after the play was first produced at
the theatre; in fact, “The Merchant of Venice” is mentioned by Meres in
a literary work published in 1598, and even then the play may have been
written a year or two earlier.

A fair conclusion is that all these plays were revived at this period,
and then success led ultimately to their publication.


                         Tragicall Historie of
                         _Prince of Denmarke_

                       By William Shake-speare.

    As it hath beene diuerse times acted by his Highnesse seruants
       in the Cittie of London: as also in the two Vniuersities
                of Cambridge and Oxford, and else-where


            At London printed for N. L. and Iohn Trundell.

By kind permission of Messrs. Griggs.]

During the Essex Rebellion a play on the subject of “Richard II” was
produced at the Globe. Whether this was Shakespeare’s play or another
quite distinct drama is a point under discussion. Shakespeare’s, or
not Shakespeare’s, the company was censured and severely reprimanded
for acting this play at such a critical time; the Queen was highly
incensed, and their non-appearance at Court during the year was on
account of their short-sighted policy. After a few months the affair
blew over, and the company was once again reinstated in the Queen’s
favour. A document states they received twenty pounds reward for
acting on St. Stephen’s Day. From the year 1600 until the death of the
Queen in 1603, very little information is available in helping us in
reconstructing the history and fortunes of this company, and until the
accession of James the First nothing of interest can be gleaned.

The King, by a deed dated May 17th, 1603, licensed the company to
act at their usual place, the Globe, and also allowed them to give
performances at any town halls or moot halls or other convenient places
within the liberties and freedom of any other city, university, town,
or borough whatsoever, ‘within our said realms and dominions.’ This
deed mentions the name of Shakespeare and Burbage among others. When
the first quarto of “Hamlet” was published in 1603 the title page bore
the following imprint:

    “The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke. By William
    Shakespeare. As it hath beene diverse times acted by his Highnesse
    servants in the Cittie of London, as also in the two Universities
    of Cambridge and Oxford and elsewhere.

    “At London printed for N L and John Trundell.



                      _Not so New as Lamentable_
                               and true.

                  _Acted by his Maiesties Players at_
                             the _Globe._

                     _VVritten by_ VV. Shakspeare.


                               AT LONDON
   Printed by _R. B._ for _Thomas Panier_ and are to bee sold at his
               shop on Cornhill, neere to the exchange.

The company assumed the title of the King’s Servants almost immediately
on his accession. There is no record of their playing in London during
the year 1603, which may be accounted for by a severe visitation of the
plague, which caused all theatres and places of amusement to be closed.
While the plague lasted, the Court was transferred to Wilton, the
seat of the Earl of Pembroke, and there Shakespeare and his company
acted on the 29th December, 1603. The plague continued during the next
three months; meanwhile the company acted before the King at Hampton
Court on several occasions. The provincial towns were again organized,
for they are found playing at Shrewsbury, Bath, Coventry, and Oxford;
at the last place “Hamlet” was one of the plays given.


The Coronation of James was postponed on account of the plague, and
it was not until the second year of his reign that this event was
celebrated. Included in the procession, the actors of the King’s
company took their place, clothed in crimson.

Little is known of the company’s engagements beyond a brief notice of
having played in a piece called “The Gowrie Conspiracy,” which brought
the players into disfavour. Unfortunately, very scanty records are in
existence giving details of the repertoire of the Globe. The usual
Court performances took place each year, and when the proprietors
closed the theatre the company visited the provinces. In 1613 the Globe
was burnt to the ground; before this event Shakespeare had ceased to
be a member. The theatre was rebuilt in 1614; the actors continued
under the patronage of the King until his death in 1625. After that
event, Charles I, who succeeded his father, extended his patronage to
the company, and they remained the servants until all the theatres
were closed by Act of Parliament, 1642, on account of the outbreak of
the Civil War. The Shakesperean plays, written expressly for the Globe
Theatre, included “Hamlet,” “Othello,” “Macbeth,” “King Lear,” and many
of his comedies and histories.


The Lord Admiral’s Company played an important part in the theatrical
annals of the country, disputing inch by inch the formidable rivalry
of the Lord Chamberlain’s men. The celebrated Edward Alleyn, by far
the most brilliant actor of the early days of theatrical enterprise
in Elizabethan times, was the head of the company. His father-in-law,
Philip Henslowe, financed the Admiral’s men, and gradually installed
himself as the managing director. The Rose Theatre, owned by Henslowe,
was chiefly occupied by them when in London, and it is solely owing
to the famous Diary kept by him that so many details are known in
connexion with this company.

The Admiral’s Servants acted at Court almost every year during
Elizabeth’s reign; they likewise toured the provinces, acting in all
the most important towns, travelling as far north as York and reaching
Dover in their southern circuit. This company is first noticed as early
as 1574, when they acted at Court in a play called “The History of
Phedrastus and Phigon”; at this period they were under the patronage
of Lord Charles Howard, and were known as the Lord Chamberlain’s men,
as Lord Howard was acting as Lord Chamberlain during the illness of
the Earl of Sussex. After 1577 they again adopted the title of Lord
Howard’s Servants. In 1588 Lord Howard was appointed Lord High Admiral,
when the actors became the servants of the Lord High Admiral, retaining
this position until the death of the Queen. Sometimes we find these
players designated as the Earl of Nottingham’s servants, this nobleman
receiving the Earldom in 1596; he was closely related by marriage to
Lord Hunsdon, having married that nobleman’s daughter.


                            The first part

                       Of the true and honorable
                     historie, of the life of Sir
                      _John Old-castle, the good_
                             Lord Cobham.

              _As it hath been lately acted by the right
                   honorable the Earle of Notingham
                   Lord high Admirall of England his



       Printed by V.S. for Thomas Pauier, and are to be solde at
            his shop at the signe of the Catte and Parrots
                          neere the Exchange.

In the early years of this company’s existence a difficulty is
experienced in tracing with any degree of certainty their actual
playing place. They may have occupied the stages of the Theatre and the
Curtain for short periods, but most possible of all, their chief stage
was one of the inn-yards of which so little is known, although they
played so important a part in early theatrical days. A document exists
showing that in 1587 they set up bills in the City every day in the
week, “so that when the bells toll for the Lecturer the trumpets sound
to the stages to the joy of the wicked faction of Rome.” The first
mention of the Lord Admiral’s men in the _Diary_ occurs in Folio 9,
under the following entry:

“In the name of God Amen, beginning the 14th of May, 1594, by the Lord
Admiral’s men.”

Then follows the entry of three performances, the last taking place on
the 16th of May. Another entry is as follows:

“In the name of God Amen, beginning at Newington, my Lord Admiral’s men
and my Lord Chamberlain’s men, as followeth 1594.”

The two companies played alternately from the 3rd of June until the
13th, when a line is drawn in the _Diary_, which indicates that the
two-fold engagement was at an end.

The Admiral’s men returned to the Rose and played there from the 13th
of June, 1594, and continued until the 25th of June, 1595, opening
again on the 25th of August, continuing until the following February,
1596, when a break occurs until the 12th of April of the same year. On
and off they acted at this theatre until the year 1600, when Henslowe
removed his company to his new theatre in Golden Lane, called the
Fortune. At this theatre they acted under various patrons until the
place was burnt down in 1621. Alleyn, noting the event in his diary:
“Midnight this night, at 12 o’clock, the Fortune was burnt.” The
catastrophe is more detailed in a letter from Mr. Chamberlain to Sir
Dudley Carleton.


                          A most pleasant and
                          merie nevv Comedie,


                     _A Knacke to knowe a Knaue_.

                 Newlie set foorth, as it hath sundrie
                    tymes bene played by ED. ALLEN
                           and his Companie.

                  _VVith KEMPS applauded Merrimentes_
                  of the men of Goteham, in receiuing
                        the King into Goteham.


            Imprinted at London by Richard Iones, dwelling
               at the signe of the Rose and Crowne, nere
                        Holborne bridge. 1594.

Of this Company nothing is known. It may refer to the Lord Admiral’s
Company, in which Allen was the chief actor.]

The theatre was rebuilt in 1623, when the same company was installed
in their new playhouse. Later these comedians are found playing at the
theatre in Salisbury Court. According to the title page of _Holland’s
Leaguer_, which it states as having been acted by Prince Charles’ men
(a new patron of the Admiral’s) at Salisbury Court Theatre, a list of
actors and their parts are prefixed to this play. The reason of their
abandoning their own theatre, the Fortune, is not known. They also
acted at the Red Bull Theatre, returning to the Fortune in 1640, where
they remained until the theatre was closed by Act of Parliament. For
clearness’ sake, the reader should remember that this company was known
during the reign of Elizabeth as the Lord Admiral’s, but in James’ and
Charles’ reigns it was under different patrons:

    Until 1597, Admiral’s men, patron Baron Howard.

    Until 1603, Nottingham’s men, more often Admiral’s men.

    From 1603-1612, Prince’s men, patron Prince Henry, eldest son of
    James I, died in 1612.

Then the company came under the patronage of Frederick Elector
Palatine, who married Elizabeth, daughter of James I, from whom the
Hanoverian monarchy is descended. The company remained under the
patronage of the Elector, under the name of the Palsgrave’s men, until
the birth of Prince Charles, eldest son of Charles I, when they became
Prince Charles’ men until the closing of the theatres in 1642.

The list of plays in which the Admiral’s men acted would total several
hundreds. Anyone who is desirous of studying the list will find an
excellent account of all the plays mentioned in Mr. W. Greg’s edition
of _Henslowe’s Diary_. As I have stated elsewhere, and repeat again
with pleasure, no writer of the theatrical history of the Elizabethan
period is better equipped with all the necessary scholarship than the
industrious and marvellously learned editor of the _Diary_.


A company of actors, under the patronage of the Earl of Pembroke,
was well known in London and the provinces during the last decade
of Elizabeth’s reign. Once more we have recourse to the _Diary_ in
determining the place where they played, but the document is silent
concerning their repertoire.

In _Henslowe’s Diary_ the following interesting notice is given of
these players:

    “A Just account of all such money as I have received of my Lord
    Admiral’s and my Lord of Pembroke’s men as followeth, beginning the
    21st of October, 1597.”

The company were engaged at intervals until the 4th of March of the
next year, giving in all twenty performances. These performances took
place at the Rose. A few plays they acted in can be gathered from the
printed title pages of plays which found their way to the press; one
of these is particularly interesting: “A pleasant conceited history
called the Taming of a Shrew, dated 1594.” The imprint states that it
was acted by the Right Honourable the Earl of Pembroke his servants.
This play is the one on which Shakespeare founded his own “The Taming
of _the_ Shrew.” The incidents are the same in both plays, the names
only being changed. In Shakespeare’s play the removal of Sly from the
palace to the outside of the Alehouse where he was found, is omitted,
but perhaps this part of the induction may have been lost or mislaid
when sent to the press.


                          Pleasant Conceited
                      Historie, called The taming
                              of a Shrew.

                  As it was sundry times acted by the
                    _Right honorable the Earle of_
                        Pembrook his seruants.


                 Printed at London by Peter Short and
              _are to be sold by Cutbert Burbie, at his_
                     shop at the Royall Exchange.

The name of the Earl of Pembroke occurs on the title page of “Edward
II,” by Christopher Marlowe, and also on the title page of “Titus
Andronicus,” in conjunction with those of the Earl of Derby and the
Earl of Sussex. This is the same play as appeared in the First Folio.

The most interesting play that this company produced is the “True
Tragedy of Richard Duke of York and the Death of Good King Henry the
Sixth,” by the Right Honourable the Earl of Pembroke his servants.
A revision of this play is found in the First Folio edition of
Shakespeare’s works, but his share in this play and the two other
parts of Henry VI forms one of the most knotty problems in the whole
Shakesperean criticism. Several books have been written in support of
different theories. A line in this play is parodied by Greene in his
“Groatsworth of Wit,” in which pamphlet occurs the first contemporary
allusion to Shakespeare.

The original play of “Hamlet” may also claim ownership to this company,
but in our present state of knowledge there is not sufficient evidence
in identifying the play as theirs. During the ten years existence
of these players, they acted only twice at Court, when the Earl of
Pembroke’s men were paid a reward of £6 13s. 4d., on March 11th,
1593, for plays performed on St. John’s Day and Twelfth Day, both at
night. Traces of this company can be found at Coventry, Bath, Ipswich,
Bristol, Marlborough, Leicester, and several other towns. Even the
above brief account shows that the company played an important part in
the theatrical annals of the time.


William Somerset, Earl of Worcester, was patron of an important
company of actors styling themselves the Earl of Worcester’s Servants.
This company was formed at a very early date, namely, in 1555. During
this period they travelled mostly in the provinces, visiting all the
chief towns in England. At one time, Edward Alleyn, the famous actor,
was a member of this troupe; his name is included in a list of actors
in 1583, being then in his 16th year, and remained with this company
until 1589, when he transferred his services to the Lord Admiral’s
men. I cannot find any notice of their acting in London whilst under
the patronage of William Somerset, but when his son, Edward Somerset,
succeeded to the Earldom, on the death of his father in 1589, this
company henceforth is found playing in the Metropolis. Visits to the
Continent were periodically taken, notices being extant of their
appearance in the Netherlands and other foreign countries.

The _Diary_ records that they acted at the Rose Theatre in 1602 and
1603. According to a document they played at the “Boar’s Head,” the
famous inn at Eastcheap. On the accession of James I, the Earl of
Worcester’s servants entered into the service of Queen Anne, consort
of James I. Although there are no existing documents recording the
theatres in which they acted when in London during Elizabeth’s reign
beyond the one reference to the Rose, no doubt they often acted in one
or other of the London theatres, and more often at the London inns,
where stages were usually set up. Two records exist of this company
acting at Court, in which payment was made to Kemp, the celebrated
clown, who, before joining the Worcester men, was a member of the Lord
Chamberlain’s company. When the Worcester men became the servants of
the Queen they acted chiefly at the Curtain.


                          conceited Comedie,
                           Wherein is shewed
                      how a man may chuse a good
                           Wife from a bad.

         _As it hath bene sundry times Acted by the Earle of_
                        Worcesters _Seruants_.



          Printed for Mathew Lawe, and are to be solde at his
         shop in Paules Church-yard, neare vnto S. Augustines
                    gate, at the signe of the Foxe.

In later years they leased the Red Bull Theatre, and continued acting
there for a few years, until the company broke up; this would be about
the year 1623, as from this date nothing further is heard of them.

A few plays which this company possessed were all printed in the early
years of the seventeenth century:

    “The Travels of Three English Brothers.” By Her Majesty’s Servants,
    1607. by Thomas Heywood. By Her Majesty’s Servants, at the Red
    Bull, near Clerkenwell, 1608.

    “The Golden Age.” At the Red Bull, by the Queen’s Majesty’s
    Servants, 1611.

    “A Woman Killed with Kindness,” by Thomas Heywood. By the Queen’s
    Majesty’s Servants.

In a pleasant conceited comedy is shown how a

    “Man may choose a Good Wife from a Bad.” By the Earl of Worcester’s

The last play is the only one in which the name of the Earl of
Worcester appears.

The title of Her Majesty’s Servants refers to Queen Anne, wife of
James the First, and must not be confused with the company of Queen
Elizabeth, bearing a similar appellation.


This company had for their patrons successive Earls of Sussex. The
first Earl was Thomas Radclyffe, who held the appointment of Lord
Chamberlain, consequently we find his players frequently acting at
Court. Thomas Radclyffe was succeeded by his son Henry, and on his
death, in 1593, Robert Radclyffe became Earl of Sussex. All research in
locating this company in London in its early days has hitherto been



                           CONCEYTED COMEDIE
                   of _George a Greene_, the Pinner
                           _of VVakefield_.

      _As it Was sundry times acted by the seruants of the right
                   Honourable the Earle of Sussex._


                Imprinted at London by Simon Stafford,
          for Cuthbert Burby: And are to be sold at his shop
                   neere the Royall Exchange. 1599.

The first record connecting this company with a London theatre then,
under the patronage of Robert Radclyffe, is found in _Henslowe’s
Diary_, 1594: “In the name of God Amen, beginning the 27th of December,
1593, the Earl of Sussex his men.”

They acted without intermission until the 23rd of January, between the
last date and the sixth of February; but only five performances are
placed to their credit. The next entry in the _Diary_ occurs at Easter:
“In the name of God Amen, beginning at Easter, 1593. The Queen’s men
and my Lord of Sussex together.”

The two companies gave in all eight performances, acting on alternate
days. Three out of the eight performances can be traced to the Sussex
men, as on these occasions they acted in plays which are recorded in
their first appearance at the Rose, namely, “The Jew of Malta” and the
“Fair Maid of Italy.”

It must be borne in mind that the Easter holidays following Christmas
were both notified as occurring in the same year. The reason being that
in Elizabeth’s time, and long after, the ordinary year commenced on
the 25th of March. Although the legal year commenced on the first of
January. Even the names of the months in use to-day, such as September,
October, November, December, are a reminiscence of this style of
reckoning, the above months bearing in Latin their English equivalents
of seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth.


                          goeth to the VVall.

     _As it hath bene sundry times plaide by the right honourable
                    Earle of_ Oxenford, _Lord great
                       Chamberlaine of_ England
                            _his seruants_.



                 Printed by Thomas Creede, for Richard
                     Oliue, dwelling in Long Lane.

One item of great interest attaches to the performance of the Sussex
men at the Rose Theatre, namely, the first performance of “Titus
Andronicus,” presented by this company. The following is the exact

    ne. R7 at titus & ondronicus the 23 of Januarye 1593 X 11s.

The letters “n e” have been clearly identified as meaning “new.” The
question in debate is whether the play is the Shakesperean one or an
older production.

After leaving the Rose in April, 1594, this company is not heard of
again in London; their name appears in no document until 1602, when
they acted at Coventry, they are last mentioned in 1615. During the
years 1602-15 the company visited the provinces. It is especially
noticeable regarding these London Companies that the documentary
evidence is of the very slightest, and when not recorded in _Henslowe’s
Diary_ they cease having any separate existence. My own firm belief is
that original research would reveal many valuable details connected
with the dramatic history of London, and would well repay a young
student in devoting his time to unravelling the mystery of these
companies of actors who, at present, seem to flit here and there for a
moment, and then vanish into thin air.


There was a company of actors under the patronage of Edward de Vere,
Earl of Oxford, as early as 1562, but no evidence of where they acted
is in existence. Again, in 1580, the same Earl was patron of a company
of boy actors, who performed chiefly in the provinces or at Court. They
are described as the Earl of Oxenford, his boys. Antony Munday, the
celebrated dramatist, was at one time a boy actor in this company. The
Oxford men are mentioned as those who generally set up their play-bills
in the City every day in the week; this notice refers to the year 1585.

The next piece of evidence occurs in the “Remembrancia,” in 1602, when
they were permitted to play at the “Boar’s Head,” in Eastcheap; this is
the last record of their appearance.

One of their plays, called “The Weakest goeth to the Wall,” has
survived; it was acted by Lord Oxenford’s boys, and published in
1600. Meres, in his important review of the poets and dramatists of
Elizabethan times, mentions the Earl of Oxford as good in comedy.

       *       *       *       *       *

Several other companies occasionally acted in London, but little is
known of their history. In a document issued by the Privy Council,
1578, it stated that the Lord Mayor should suffer the children of
Her Majesty’s Chapel, the servants of the Lord Chamberlain, Thomas
Radclyffe, Earl of Sussex, of the Earl of Warwick, of the Earl of
Leicester, of the Earl of Essex, and the children of St. Paul’s, and no
companies else to exercise plays within the City, whom their Lordships
have already allowed thereunto by reason that the companies aforesaid
are appointed to play this Christmas before the Queen.

The Earl of Hertford was patron of a company, but only one reference to
their playing in London has been chronicled, when they acted at Court
in 1592.

The Earl of Hertford’s men were paid £10 on February, 1592, for a play
presented before the Queen on Twelfth Night last. Philip Howard, Earl
of Arundel, also owned a company of players in 1584. There is a record
of this company acting in London. In 1589 the Earl was charged with
high treason and all his honours were forfeited.


                              THE FAWNE,

                          IT HATH BENE DIVERS
                 times presented at the blacke Friars,
                    _by the Children of the Queenes
                          Maiesties Reuels_.

                           BY IOHN MARSTON.


                              _AT LONDON_

                     ❧ Printed by T. P. for W. C.


During the Shakesperean era the custom of maintaining a company of
children actors was continued. The custom was inaugurated by Henry
the Eighth. Several of these juvenile companies existed, the chief of
which were attached to the Court. The best known amongst them were
the Children of the Chapel Royal, the Windsor Chapel Choir, and the
celebrated Children of St. Paul’s Choir, the Children of Westminster
School, and several others.



                           The dumbe Knight.

                _A pleasant Comedy, acted sundry times_
                   by the children of his Maiesties

                     Written by _Iaruis Markham_.



   Printed by _Nicholas Okes_, for _Iohn Bache_, and are to be sold
              at his shop in Popes-head Palace, neere to
                      the Royall Exchange. 1608.

The inner history of these companies is only known in a very
fragmentary state. A somewhat detailed account is given of the boys of
the Chapel Royal, and that is owing to the indefatigable labours of
Professor and Mrs. Wallace. Even in this study many details are lacking
which further research may amend.

The famous passage of “Hamlet,” where Shakespeare alludes to these
children players, is responsible for many details in connexion with
these small actors. For a time they played an important part in the
theatrical annals of the period, otherwise Shakespeare’s outburst
against them would have little point.

This passage in “Hamlet” proves they were a thorn in the sides of the
adult players, and for a brief period carried all before them. Many
well-known dramatists wrote plays especially for these young actors.
No record exists of their appearance at a public theatre. The boys
acted chiefly at the private house known as the Blackfriars Theatre.
The company of the Chapel Royal, and that of the St. Paul’s Choir, can
only be regarded as of a good all-round amateur ability comparable with
societies of our own times.



Nearly a quarter of a century of Shakespeare’s life was passed in
the theatrical world. Under these circumstances we should naturally
expect to find scattered through his works many allusions in connexion
with the stage. On this point we shall not be disappointed; with
the exception of “Titus Andronicus,” which many critics discredit
the Shakesperean authorship, every play contains references to the
contemporary stage.

By carefully reading through all the plays of Shakespeare, and assisted
materially by Bartlett’s concordance, I have extracted all such
allusions and have appended notes, which I hope will be found useful
and instructive.

Shakespeare played many parts in connexion with the theatre, one of
the most important being that of an actor; chiefly in that capacity he
acquired a great advantage over his fellow dramatists. By adopting this
career, he gained a thorough knowledge of stage-craft in all its minute
ramifications, which in a great measure assisted him most materially in
his vocation as a practical playwright: and his rapid and marvellous
progress as a dramatist must in some degree be due to his having
studied the requirements of the stage in all its branches.

Molière, the great French dramatist, who wrote in the middle of the
seventeenth century, is another instance of a successful dramatist,
being also an actor.

When we enquire how far Shakespeare succeeded in his profession, or
with what parts his name is associated, we are again baffled, and that
mystery which enshrouds the entire life of this mighty genius again
defies us. The First Folio of Shakespeare’s works was published in the
year 1623. In one of the preliminary pages is a list of actors’ names
who took part in the several plays; at the head of this list is the
name of Shakespeare, but this by no means qualifies him as ranking
first in the order of merit. Richard Burbage, whose name stands second,
was the greatest actor of his time, and in this capacity is highly
praised by his contemporaries, whereas the name of Shakespeare is
rarely mentioned as an actor. There is a tradition that he acted the
part of Adam in “As You Like It,” which the following passage, written
by Oldys about the year 1650, corroborates. This author wrote many
notes on the life of Shakespeare, which were used by Reed, an editor of
Shakespeare’s works:

“One of Shakespeare’s younger brothers, who lived to a good old age,
even some years as I compute, after the Restoration of Charles the
Second, would in his younger days come to London to visit his brother
Will, as he called him, and be a spectator of him as an actor in some
of his own plays. This custom, as his brother’s fame enlarged, and his
dramatic entertainments grew the greatest support of our principal,
if not of all our theatres, he continued, it seems, so long after his
brother’s death, as even to the latter end of his own life. But when
questioned, it seems he was so stricken in years and infirmities, which
might make him the easier pass for a man of weak intellect, that he
could but give them very little light into their enquiries; and all
that he recollected of his brother Will in that station was the faint,
general and almost lost ideas he had of having once seen him act a part
in one of his own comedies, wherein, having to personate a decrepit old
man, he wore a long beard, and appeared so weak and drooping and unable
to walk that he was forced to be supported and carried by another
person to a table, at which he was seated among some company, who were
eating, and one of them giving a song.”

Another well known tradition is that Shakespeare played the part of
the Ghost in his own play _Hamlet_. Rowe, the first real editor of
Shakespeare, mentions this almost as a fact; he further adds that this
part was the top of his performance, although he gives no authority for
either statement. John Davies, poet and epigrammatist, in a few lines,
circa 1611, addressed “To our English Terence Mr. Will Shakespeare,”
mentions that he enacted Kingly parts, but gives no further
particulars. The same writer had previously alluded to Shakespeare as
a player in a work entitled, “Microcosmus,” dated 1603. Sir Richard
Baker, in his chronicle history of the reign of Queen Elizabeth,
published in 1643, mentions Shakespeare in the double capacity of poet
and player. As the reference is rather interesting, I append it in full:

“Men of Note in her times (Elizabeth) (Statesmen, Writers and
Divines). After such men it might be thought ridiculous to speak of
stage-players, but seeing excellence in the meanest things desires
remembering, as Roscius, the Comedian, is recorded in History with such
commendation, it may be allowed us to do the same, with some of our
Nation. Richard Burbage and Edward Allen, two such actors as no age
must ever look to see the like, and to make their comedies complete,
Richard Tarleton, who for the Part called the Clown’s Part never had
his match, never will have. For writers of Plays, and such as had
been players themselves, William Shakespeare and Benjamin Jonson have
specially left their names recommended to posterity.”

In the last passage I presume the writer praises these two authors in
their capacity as men of letters rather than players. This author again
refers to Shakespeare but only as a poet.

A curious reference to Shakespeare as an actor will be found in a
tract entitled, “Ratseis’ Ghost,” published anonymously circa 1605.
Only one copy of this pamphlet is extant, which was formerly in the
Library of the Earl Spencer, known as the Althorp Library. Ratseis
was a highwayman who, after paying certain actors to play before him,
overtook and robbed them, and as an act of consolation for their loss,
gave the chief actor the following piece of advice:

    “Get thee to London, for if one man were dead, they will have much
    need as such a one as thou art. There would be none in my opinion
    fitter than thyself to play his parts; my conceipt of such of thee
    that I durst venture of all my money in my purse on thy head to
    play ‘Hamlet’ with him for a wager. There thou shalt learn to be
    frugal, for Players were never so thrifty as they are now about
    London, and to feed upon all men, to let none feed upon thee, to
    make thy hand a stranger to thy pocket, thy heart slow to perform
    thy tongue’s promise, and when thou feelest thy purse well lined,
    buy thee some place or Lordship in the Country that, growing weary
    of playing, thy money may bring thee to dignity and reputation.
    Sir, I thank you, quoth the player for thy counsell, I promise you
    I will make use of it, for I have heard indeed of some that have
    gone to London very meanly and have come in time to be exceedingly

The only two well known actors in these times who had acquired fortunes
and invested their money in landed estates in the country were Edward
Alleyn and William Shakespeare. As the former was born in London,
his birth being recorded in the parish register of St. Botolph’s,
Bishopsgate, he could not have been the poor player who hailed from
the country, so we can take it as reasonably proved the writer is
referring to Shakespeare, who was born in Stratford-on-Avon. There is
abundant proof that Shakespeare acted in at least two of Ben Jonson’s
plays, namely, “Every man in his Humour” and “Sejanus.” The former was
produced in 1598, the printed edition first appearing in 1600; prefixed
to the play is a list of Actors, in which the name of Shakespeare
stands first. “Sejanus” was acted in 1603, the play being printed
two years later, in 1605. A list of actors’ names, prefixed to this
edition, is arranged in two columns; Burbage’s name heads the first
column, Shakespeare’s the second. The individual parts assumed by the
actors are not given.

James Wright, in a rare little tract entitled, “Historica Histrionica,”
1699, encourages the view that Shakespeare, at his best, was but a
mediocre actor in a “Dialogue of Plays and Players.”

Lovewit (one of the characters in the Dialogue):

    “Pray, Sir, what Master Parts can you remember the old Blackfriars
    men to Act, in Jonson, Shakespeare and Fletcher’s plays?”

Truman (another character in the Dialogue):

    “What I can at present recollect I’ll tell you. Shakespeare, who,
    as I have heard, was a much better poet than player. Burbage,
    Hemmings and others of the old sort were dead before I knew the

An early reference to Shakespeare as an actor is to be found in a
volume of poetry, entitled, “Willobie His Avisa, or The true Picture of
a modest maid and of a chast and constant wife.”

    Imprinted at London by
    John Windet.

The poem in which the reference occurs is in the form of a dialogue
between H. W. and W. S. The first initials probably stand for Henry
Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, to whom Shakespeare dedicated his two
poems of “Venus and Adonis” and “Lucrece”; the W. S. plainly indicates
William Shakespeare. The 44th canto opens with a preface, in which H.
W. is infected with a passion for Avisa: not being able to endure the
secret of his fervent desire, he confides his wish to W. S., who had
likewise “tried the curtesie of the like passion.” Thus this miserable
comforter comforting his friend with an impossibility, either that he
would now secretly laugh at his friend’s folly that had given occasion
not long before unto others to laugh at his own, or because he would
see whether another could play his part better than himself, and, in
viewing afar off the course of this loving comedy, he determined to see
whether it would sort to a happier end for this new actor than it did
for the old player. But at length this Comedy had like to have grown a
Tragedy by the weak and feeble estate that H. W. was brought unto.

In some verses attached to this poem is one

    In praise of Willobie his Avisa
    Hexametron to the Author.

In the second verse--there are six--is found recorded one of the
earliest allusions to Shakespeare:

    “Though Collatine have deerly 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 glistering grape
    And Shake-speare, paints poore Lucrece rape.”

The above lines certainly strengthen the theory that the initials W. S.
stand for a real actor. The reader will also notice the words Actor,
Player, Comedy and Tragedy, all of which help to identify the person


                        of witte, bought with a
                        million of Repentance.

      Describing the follie of youth, the falshood of makeshifte
               flatterers, the miserie of the negligent,
                      and mischiefes of deceiuing

     Written before his death and published at his dyeing request.

                       Fælicem fuiße infaustum.



                     Imprinted for William Wright.




~Sweet boy, might I aduise thee, be aduisde, and get not many enemies
by bitter wordes: inueigh against vaine men, for thou canst do it, no
man better, no man so well: thou hast a libertie to reprooue all, and
name none; for one being spoken to, all are offended; none being blamed
no man is iniured. Stop shallow water still running, it will rage, or
tread on a worme and it will turne: then blame not Schollers vexed with
sharpe lines, if they reproue thy too much liberty of reproofe.~

~And thou no lesse deseruing than the other two, in some things rarer,
in nothing inferiour; driuen (as my selfe) to extreme shifts, a litle
haue I to say to thee: and were it not an idolatrous oth, I would
sweare by sweet S. George, thou art vnworthy better hap, sith thou
dependest on so meane a stay. Base minded men all three of you, if by
my miserie you be not warnd: for vnto none of you (like mee) sought
those burres to cleaue: those Puppets (I meane) that spake from our
mouths, those Anticks garnisht in our colours. Is it not strange, that
I, to whom they all haue beene beholding: is it not like that you, to
whome they all haue beene beholding, shall (were yee in that case as I
am now) bee both at once of them forsaken: Destrust them not: for there
is an vpstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his~ Tygers
hart wrapt in a Players hyde, ~supposes he is as well able to bombast
out a blanke verse as the best of you: and beeing an absolute ~Iohannes
fac totum, ~is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey.
O that I might intreat your rare wits to be imploied in more profitable
courses: & let those Apes imitate your past excellence, and neuer more
acquaint them with your admired inuentions. I knowe the best husband of


The first literary notice of Shakespeare is to be read in a pamphlet
styled “Greene’s Groats-worth of Wit.” Greene died in September,
1592, and his book was issued in the same year. The first edition of
Greene’s pamphlet remained unknown for many generations, and was only
discovered during the last few years, and is now safely deposited in
the British Museum. To the best of my belief the accompanying facsimile
is published for the first time. Chettle refers to Shakespeare in his
introductory letter to “Kind Harts Dream,” styled “To the Gentlemen
Readers.” Chettle Greene’s friend, in a tract, entitled, “Kind Harts
Dream,” entered at Stationers’ Hall, 8th December, 1592, published
shortly afterwards by W. Wright without date. Greene’s pamphlet was
registered on September 20th, 1592.

A copy of this book in the Huth collection, dated 1596, when sold
fetched £200. The 1617 edition sold for £25 and the 1637 edition for
£17. All three editions came from the same library. The full title of
the 1596 edition is as follows:

“Greene’s Groats-worth of Wit, bought With a Million of Repentance.
Describing the follie of Youth, the falshoode of makeshift flatterers,
the miserie of the negligent and mischiefes of deceiving Courtesans.
Written before (_sic_) his death, and published at his dying request.”

“Printed by Thomas Creede for Richard Olive, dwelling in long-long
(_sic_) Lane, and are there to be solde, 1596.”

“Black letter, cut on title (last leaf backed and 3 pages scribbled on
margins of 2.U. slightly mended, otherwise good, blind stamp russia
A-F.2 in fours).”

The above is a description of the Huth copy. The only other copy of
this edition on record was Archdeacon Wrangham’s, which wanted nearly
a leaf. The present copy is from the libraries of Joly and Corser:
“To those Gentlemen his quondam acquaintance that spend their wits in
making Plaies R. G. wisheth a better exercise and wisdome to prevent
his extremities. If woeful experience may move you Gentlemen to beware,
or unheard-of wretchedness entreat you to take heed, I doubt not but
you will looke backe with sorrow on your time past, and endeavour with
repentance to spend that which is to come. Wonder not for with thee
will I first begin, thou famous gracer of Tragedians, that Greene, who
hath said with thee like the fool in his heart, ‘There is no God,’
should now give glory unto his greatness, for penetrating in his
power his hand is heavy upon me, he hath spoken to me with a voice
of thunder, and I have felt he is a God that can punish enemies. Why
should thy excellent wit, his gift be so blinded that thou shouldst
give no glory to the giver? Is it pestilent Machiavellian folly that
thou hast studied? With thee I join young Juvenal that biting satirist
that lastly with me writ a comedy. Sweet boy might I advise thee, be
advised and get not many enemies by bitter words. Tread on a worm and
it will turn, then blame not scholars vexed with sharp lines if they
reprove thy too much liberty of reproof. And thou no less deserving
than the other two in some things rarer in nothing inferior, driven
as myself to extreme shifts a little have I to say to thee, and were
it not an idolatrous oath I would swear by Sweet S. George thou art
unworthy better hap, seth thou dependest on so meane a stay.

“Base minded men all three of you fly, my misery ye be not warned;
for unto none of you like me sought these burns to cleave: these
Puppets I meane that speak from our mouths these Anticks garnished
in our colours. Is it not strange that I, to whom they all have
been beholding, is it not like that you, to whom they all have been
beholding, shall were ye in that case that I am now be both at once of
them forsaken?

“Yes, trust them not, for there is an upstart crow, beautiful with
our feathers, that with his Tiger’s heart wrapped in a player’s hide
supposes he is as well able to bumbast out blank verse as the best of
you: And being an absolute Johannes factotum is in his own conceit the
only Shake-scene in a country.”

The three writers who spend their time in making plays are Marlowe,
Nash, and George Peele. There can be no question about Marlowe: he
was an avowed atheist, and the foremost dramatist of his time; he was
killed in a tavern brawl in a quarrel over some woman down Deptford way
in 1593.

Young Juvenal is doubtful, but in all probability it applies to
Thomas Nash, the greatest satirist of his time. When Greene writes in
connexion with young Juvenal, “blame not scholars,” he must surely
refer to the long outstanding quarrel between Nash and Gabriel Harvey,
one of the foremost scholars of his age. The acrimonious literary duel
lasted many years, and was carried on in a most vicious and unseemly
manner, personalities of every description being brought in on both
sides. The quarrel lasted long after Greene’s death.

The third person alluded to is George Peele, the Sweet S. George making
the personality obvious. Greene is especially angry with Shakespeare;
this tirade arising chiefly from jealousy. It is generally agreed that
Shakespeare revised the three parts of “Henry the Sixth” from earlier
plays, in which Greene had a great share.



               Conteining fiue Apparitions, vvith their
                  Inuectiues against abuses raigning.

               _Deliuered by seuerall Ghosts vnto him to
               be publisht, after ~Piers Penilesse~ Post
                      had refused the carriage._

                           _Inuita Inuidiæ._

                               by H. C.


                Imprinted at London for William Wright.

Shakespeare’s adaptation or revisal of this play was a great success,
and this must have incensed Greene, who was of a jealous nature to a
state of livid envy. The line “that with his Tiger’s heart wrapt in a
Player’s hide,” is a parody of a line from “The True Tragedy,” also in
“Henry VI., I., IV. 137.”

“O tiger’s heart wrapped in a woman’s hide.”

The history of these plays, the three parts of “Henry VI,” all appeared
in the First Folio. The first part of the “Contention betwixt the Two
Famous Houses of York and Lancaster” forms the second part of “Henry
VI.” “The True Tragedy,” another play, is the origin of the third part.
The first part is only known in the Folio version. These plays remain
one of the great unsolved puzzles of Shakesperean criticism.

There is no early foundation play of the first part although no doubt
one did exist.

Of course, in this attack Greene’s spite against Shakespeare was as a
writer of plays, although the context rather points out that he took
exception against him as an actor; if that were so, the paragraph would
be pointless. No doubt Greene refers to Shakespeare as an actor, but
that is not his grievance; ‘supposes he is as well able to bumbast out
blank verse’ means that he can wield an able pen and beat them at their
own game and not only speak their lines. Greene meant to give a double
thrust at Shakespeare, but his antagonist came through the ordeal quite

When Henry Chettle published Greene’s _Groats-worth of Wit_, he wrote a
preface containing the following passage:

“About three months since died Robert Greene, leaving many papers in
sundry booksellers’ hands; among others, his _Groats-worth of Wit_, in
which a letter written to diverse play-makers is offensively by one or
two of them taken, and because on the dead they cannot be avenged,
they wilfully forge in their concertes a living author, and after
tossing it to and fro, no remedy, but it must light on me. How I have
all the time of my conversing in printing hindered the better inveying
against scholars, it has been very well known, and how in that I dealt,
I can sufficiently prove. With neither of them that take offence was I
acquainted, and with one of them I care not if I never be. The other,
whom at that time I did not so much spare as since I wish I had, for
that as I have moderated the heat of living writers and might have used
my own discretion, especially in such a case the Author being dead that
I did not, I am as sorry as if the original fault had been my fault,
because myself have seen his demeanour no less civil, than be excellent
in the quality he professes. Besides divers of worship have reported
his uprightness of dealing which argues his honesty, and his facetious
grace in writing that approves his art.”

This passage clearly demonstrates that both Marlowe and Shakespeare
had complained to Chettle, considering the paragraph a libel. Of
Marlowe’s complaint he takes no notice, but writes an ample apology to
Shakespeare, at the same time praising him in his dual capacity as an
actor and playwright.

To the Gentlemen Readers.

_the other, he that offendes being forst, is more excusable than the
wilfull faultie, though both be guilty, there is difference in the
guilt. To obserue custome, and auoid as I may cauill, opposing your
fauors against my feare, ~I~le shew reason for my present writing, and
after proceed to sue for pardon. About three moneths since died M.
~Robert Greene~, leauing many papers in sundry Booke sellers hands,
among other his Groats-worth of wit, in which a letter written to
diuers play-makers, is offensiuely by one or two of them taken, and
because on the dead they cannot be auenged, they wilfully forge in
their conceites a liuing Author: and after tossing it two and fro,
no remedy, but it must light on me. How I haue all the time of my
conuersing in printing hindred the bitter inueying against schollers,
it hath been very well knowne, and how in that ~I~ dealt I can
sufficiently prooue. With neither of them that take offence was I
acquainted, and with one of them ~I~ care not if ~I~ neuer be: The
other, whome at that time I did not so much spare, as since I wish
I had, for that as ~I~ haue moderated the heate of liuing writers,
and might haue vsde my owne discretion (especially in such a case)
the Author beeing dead, that ~I~ did not, ~I~ am as sory, as if the
originall fault had beene my fault, because my selfe haue seene his
demeanor no lesse ciuill than he exelent in the qualitie he professes:
Besides, diuers of worship haue reported, his vprightnes of dealing,
which argues his honesty, and his facetious grace in writting, that
aprooues his Art. For the first, whose learning I reuerence, and at
the perusing of ~Greenes~ Booke, stroke out what then in conscience
I thought he in some displeasure writ: or had it beene true, yet to
publish it, was intollerable: him I would wish to vse me no worse than
I deserue. I had onely in the copy this share, it was il written, as
sometime ~Greenes~ hand was none of the best, licensd it must be, ere
it could bee printed which could neuer be if it might not be read. To
be breife ~I~ writ it ouer, and as neare as ~I~ could, followed the
copy, onely in that letter ~I~ put something out, but in the whole
booke not a worde in, for I protest it was all ~Greenes~, not mine nor
Maister ~Nashes~, as some vniustly haue affirmed. Neither was he the
writer of an Epistle to the second part of Gerileon, though by the
workemans error T. N. were set to the end: that I confesse to be mine,
and repent it not._

Shakespeare’s sonnets were first published in their entirety in 1609.
Two of this collection having been printed in a piratical volume of
poetry, dated 1599, attributed to Shakespeare, although he was only
responsible for five numbers out of the twenty published. The great
question which divides Shakesperean critics into two camps is whether
the sonnets are autobiographical or poems of the imagination. A
discussion on this point, and others connected with the dedication and
order of sequence, would fill volumes. If they are to be accepted as
episodes in the life of Shakespeare, sonnet 111 clearly has reference
to his own life as an actor:

    “O! for my sake do you with fortune chide
      The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds
    That did not better for my life provide
      Than public means which public manners breeds.
    Thence comes it that my name receives a brand,
      And almost thence my nature is subdued
    To what it works in, like the dyer’s hand.
      Pity me then, and wish I were renew’d
    Whilst like a willing patient I will drink
      Potions of eysell, ’gainst my strong infection:
    No bitterness that I will bitter think,
      Not double penance to correct correction.
    Pity me, then, dear friend, and I assure ye
      Even that your pity is enough to cure me.”

Another sonnet, in a similar strain, is numbered 110; the first two
lines unmistakably refer to his profession as an actor:

    “Alas ’tis true I have gone here and there,
    And made myself a motley to the view.”

The first line refers to acting at different places in the Metropolis,
and also touring in the provinces, an event common to all theatrical
companies of the period. Whether Shakespeare had really played the
fool’s part can only be conjectural. It may be simply a synonym for an
actor, who in various costumes acted different parts.

In an edition of Shakespeare’s poems, published by John Benson in 1640,
there is an elegy addressed to Shakespeare, with the following heading:
“An elegy on the death of that famous writer and actor, William
Shakespeare.” The author eulogizes Shakespeare as a poet, but makes no
reference to him as an actor, beyond merely stating in the heading that
he was an actor.

The remarks that Shakespeare let fall from his pen, in connexion with
his profession as an actor, need not surprise us if we consider the
drastic measures imposed upon actors during the reign of Elizabeth, and
the contempt with which certain sections of the public regarded the
actors’ calling, together with the scanty recognition they received
from the literary world. Under these circumstances, it is little to
be wondered at that he half despised his own vocation, but in his
secret heart he cherished a deep love for the stage, otherwise he
would have retired years previously to his final farewell, which only
took place at the close of his life, in reality about the year 1610,
six years before his death. Anyone reading the interview with the
players and the play-acting scene in “Hamlet” cannot doubt for a moment
that Shakespeare derived intense satisfaction and happiness from his
theatrical life; there is a ring of enthusiasm in all those scenes in
which he alludes to the theatre, and revels in everything connected
with the art of the theatre. Being an actor may have barred him from
any great social success, and he may have written the lines in the
sonnets when in a moody humour, or at some insult levelled against him
at the common playhouse.

I should like to point out that with the exception of Davies’ epigram,
in which he remarks that Shakespeare played “kingly parts,” there is
no authentic notice of his having acted any particular character, and
all accounts written about the parts he played are purely fictitious.
Even Rowe, the earliest biographer of the poet, gives no authority
for stating that the part of the Ghost in “Hamlet” was the top of
his performance as an actor; all such statements are misleading, and
writers on Shakesperean matters should be careful in stating whether
their remarks are founded upon facts or are of an imaginary character.

Sir Richard Baker, in his chronicle history, refers to Shakespeare
as being both player and poet. “For writers of Plays and such as had
been Players themselves, William Shakespeare and Benjamin Johnson
(_sic_) have specially left their names recommended to posterity.” Mr.
Greenwood, in his latest book (1916), entitled _Is there a Shakespeare
Problem?_ states that Baker was not a contemporary of Shakespeare; this
is a gross error, perhaps purposely perpetrated in order to maintain
a foolish theory that the actor Shakespeare was not the author of the
plays. Baker was born in the year 1568, and died in 1645.



During the reigns of Elizabeth and James, Court performances were
frequently given, especially during the religious holidays. All the
well-known London companies appeared at Court nearly every year, and
were liberally remunerated for their services. Documentary evidence is
in existence stating the exact fees paid to the actors, and the names
in some instances of the plays performed.

Shakespeare is known to have taken part in several of the Court
functions; many of his own dramas were presented before the Queen,
and although nowhere expressly stated, he, no doubt, acted in them
before the royal audience. These performances were given at the
different palaces where the Court happened to be assembled. The Royal
residences were numerous, and contemporary records prove that dramatic
entertainments were represented at each of them on several occasions.
The enthusiasm which Elizabeth displayed towards the drama must, in
a great measure, account for its continued success and development.
Without the Court patronage, the City and Local Authorities, in their
blind prejudice against all kinds of entertainment, would certainly
have taken drastic measures to drive the actors out of the Metropolis:
and in their idiotic rage against the theatre, might have gone so far
as to prohibit the actors from following the profession.


                        M. William Shak-speare:


                True Chronicle Historie of the life and
                  death of King L E A R and his three

             _With the vnfortunate life of_ Edgar, _sonne_
              and heire to the Earle of Gloster, and his
                      sullen and assumed humor of
                            TOM of Bedlam:

     _As it was played before the Kings Maiestie at Whitehall vpon
              S. Stephans night in Christmas Hollidayes._

        By his Maiesties seruants playing vsually at the Gloabe
                          on the Bancke-side.



    Printed for _Nathaniel Butter_, and are to be sold at his shop
      in _Pauls_ Church-yard at the signe of the Pide Bull neere
                       _S^t. Austins_ Gate. 1608

    With kind permission of Messrs. Griggs,
    Hanover Street, Peckham.

The following is a list of Court palaces in which plays were
presented before the reigning monarchs. Both Elizabeth and James were
enthusiastic playgoers. In the latter’s reign court performances were
given every day in the week, Sundays included, and although at times
the plays produced were far from entertaining, the royal pair remained
until the play was ended, in spite of being tired, as the rest of the
audience often were.


Everyone has heard of Whitehall, the magnificent London residence of
Henry VIII and his royal daughters. Here we are only concerned with the
Great Hall, the Great Chamber, the Banqueting House, and the Cockpit,
all four apartments being the scene of dramatic entertainments. Proof
of at least one of Shakespeare’s plays being presented at Whitehall
will be found on the title page of the authentic quarto of “King Lear”:

    “M. William Shakespeare,

    “His True Chronicle History of the life and death of King Lear and
    his three daughters. As it was played before the King’s Majestie at
    Whitehall upon St. Stephen’s night in Christmas Hollidays. By his
    Majestie’s servants playing usually at the Globe, on the Bankside,

From documentary evidence there is proof that several of Shakespeare’s
plays were acted at this palace, including “Othello,” “Measure for
Measure,” “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” “The Winter’s Tale,” and others by
the same dramatist, besides over a hundred performances of plays by
various authors. These plays were produced in the magnificent structure
called the Great Hall, which was a hundred feet in length and about
forty in breadth. The roof was elaborately decorated, and from it hung
eight large chandeliers and eight smaller ones, each containing fifteen
lights. The scene on these occasions was one of great splendour, and
those that witnessed it were considered exceptionally fortunate, as
only those whom the King delighted to honour were invited.

Plays were sometimes presented in the Great Chamber, a building of
large dimensions. This room was often chosen on account of its great
warmth, and also its being better adapted for presenting plays than
the Great Hall. The Banqueting House, in which Shakespeare’s plays
were given, was built by Queen Elizabeth; its length was 150 feet,
the walls were of wood, with lath and plaster between. The roof,
supported by thirty principals, was ceiled with canvas, and decorated
most gorgeously with the emblems of the heavens. Externally the Hall
presented the true Gothic type similar to those seen to-day at Hampton
Court and Christ Church, Oxford. On each of the three sides, tiers of
seats were erected for the audience, the fourth being reserved for the
stage. The King and Queen sat on thrones facing the stage, a clear way
of vision being kept in direct line with the actors. The performances
were always given at night, contrasting very vividly with the afternoon
representation at the Globe and other public theatres. This beautiful
building was destroyed by fire. The existing Banqueting House was
built in the reign of Charles I; many of Shakespeare’s plays were
performed in this building before the King and Queen. From this fatal
room King Charles was led forth to execution on January 30th, 1649.
The celebrated architect, Inigo Jones, was the designer of this noble
edifice, one of the few remaining buildings of this great architect
which exist to adorn this great city.

[Illustration: The Palace of Whitehall. Reproduced with kind permission
from a model by John B. Thorp, Esq.]

[Illustration: Banqueting Hall and Holbein Gate, Whitehall. Tiltyard
in foreground. Reproduced with kind permission from a model by John B.
Thorp, Esq.]

The Cockpit, built in the reign of Henry VIII, was sometimes used for
presenting plays, and quite possibly Shakespeare’s plays may have
been given here before Queen Elizabeth. The building was octagonal
in shape, resembling the public theatres, containing galleries and
staircases. The original site stood in the neighbourhood of Downing
Street. This building has frequently been confused with the Cockpit
Theatre, situated in Drury Lane. There are many traps laid for the
writers of early theatrical matters, and an author cannot be careful
enough in thoroughly investigating his sources. I have noticed the
most painstaking writers sometimes go astray, even Mr. Law, to whose
interesting and valuable account of the Whitehall Palace I have been
entirely indebted for the above description, alluded to the Blackfriars
Theatre as being the scene of Shakespeare’s activities. There is
not an atom of evidence to prove that Shakespeare ever acted on its
boards or that his plays were produced there during his lifetime. The
only evidence is that Cuthbert Burbage, the son of Richard Burbage,
states that his father, in 1609 or 1610, placed deserving men, Heminge
Condell and Shakespeare, at the Blackfriars. This evidence was given
in 1632, and does not say in what capacity Shakespeare was placed
there. The evidence may only have been given to prove his claim, or
perhaps Shakespeare acted as Stage Manager; in spite of this meagre
evidence, all writers persist in stating that Shakespeare acted at this
theatre, which I emphatically deny, on the grounds that in the year
1610 Shakespeare severed his connexion with the stage and retired soon
afterwards to Stratford-on-Avon.

Court performances were frequently held at Whitehall. As early as 1560
the Earl of Leicester’s players performed at one of the royal palaces
before the Queen; in some instances the names of the plays performed
are given, but unfortunately in most cases the name of the palace is
not stated.

Chalmers, in his _Apology_, refers to Lord Strange’s men being paid £40
and £20 reward for six performances at Whitehall in December, 1591; the
titles of the plays are not given. The most interesting performance
presented at Whitehall was Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” as acted before
his Majesty at Whitehall upon St. Stephen’s night at Christmas last.
The entry for publication of “King Lear” is found on the books of the
Stationers’ Company, where the record states that Nathaniel Butter and
John Busby entered their names for a copy of “a booke called Master
William Shakespeare, his history of King Lear”; the licence is dated
November 22nd, 1607. The “Christmas last of the Stationers’ Register”
and “in Christmas Hollidaies” of the printed edition refer to the
year 1606. Whether Shakespeare took part in this production cannot be
definitely stated, but the probabilities are that he acted with his

1579. The Irish Knight. The Earl of Warwick’s players were paid £6 13s.
4d. for presenting this play before the Queen at Whitehall. 1597. The
history of Murderous Michael was presented in 1604. The Children of the
Revels played before the Queen at Whitehall.

In 1608, John Hemings was paid £130 for 13 plays acted before his
Majesty at Whitehall. The King and Prince Charles witnessed a play at
Whitehall, given on Sunday. This performance took place in the year
1623. As stated above, several plays were presented at the Court at
Whitehall, for many years in succession.

The Marquise Tremouille on thursday last tooke leave of the Kinge; that
night was feasted at white hall by the duke of Lennox in the Queen’s
greate chamber.

In the Kinge’s greate chamber they went to see the play of “Pirrocles
Prince of Tyre,” which lasted till 2 o’clocke. After two actes the
players ceased till the french all refreshed them with sweetmeats,
brought on china voiders and wine and ale in bottells, after the
players began anew.


A royal palace stood here in quite early times, being in ruins in the
reign of Henry the Fourth. Henry V rebuilt it, and when Henry VII
became King, he made it his royal residence, changing the name of the
hamlet from West Sheen to Richmond, in commemoration of his title as
Earl of Richmond in Yorkshire.

A fire broke out in 1498, completely demolishing the old building.
A new palace was erected in 1501. This building is especially
interesting, being in its entirety a Tudor structure, representing the
architectural taste of the time in domestic building, when the sole
determining factors were pleasure and convenience. This object was
fully obtained by mixture of judicious colouring, oblong or diamond
shaped patches of black brick, having been originally super-imposed
upon a ground of warm red. The level of the frontage is broken up
by the intervention of small circular towers, sallying forward from
the background, and fine mullioned windows, with a forest of turrets
complete the frontage, which formed a most picturesque view and which
existed only for that purpose. These architectural details bore a
strong affinity to the Saracenic type of architecture, which may well
have influenced English taste through our then close connexion with

The chief drawback to the general good effect of the building is its
huddled appearance, arising principally from the narrowness of the
projecting towers and the manner in which they are crowded together
upon a not too extensive front.

This impression is assisted by the close proximity of the palace to the
river. An early chronicler, about 1501, narrates that the building was
girded and encompassed with a strong and mighty brick wall, barred and
bent with towers in each corner and angle and also in the midway. The
openings, the strong gates of double timber and heart of oak, were
stuck full of nails right thick and crossed with bars of iron. Now but
little is left to confirm the fact that there was a palace upon the
site built as late as the time of Henry VIII, and was still standing
in the seventeenth century. The most conspicuous of the remains are
those in the house occupied by Mr. Middleton, facing Richmond Green,
and the gateway to Wardrobe Court, with its upper chamber forming part
of the house. The gateway is of red brick, and has a large four central
archway of stone, over which is a perished stone panel of arms; on the
east side is an eighteenth century oval window, and on the other side
three block windows, above a stone string course, with a moulded top
member and a bead at the bottom. The building is cut short north of the
gateway, but evidence of its continuation in that direction is given by
the arched recess on the ground floor and the blocked doorway in the
upper storey, besides the marks showing the position of the first floor
and the flat roof on that face, which now overlooks the gardens of the
old Court House, an eighteenth century building now occupied by a lady.
Some of the lower walls of Mr. Middleton’s house, no doubt, retain the
original brickwork, and the three projecting bays in the east front, a
semi-octagonal one between the two five-sided bays are evidently on the
old foundation, but there is little in the house to call attention to
its age except a fireplace on the first floor, with a Tudor arch and a
chimney stack on the west side. Authentic records exist proving that
Shakespeare and his fellow actors often acted before the Court when
residing at Richmond Palace. The Hall in which the performance took
place was situated in an upper storey containing one fairly large room
100 feet by 40 feet, called the Great Hall. The following account is
taken from a description of the Palace, written in 1649: “This room
(the Great Hall) hath a screen in the lower end, over which is a little
gallery; the pavement is tiled, and is very well lighted; the ceiling
is adorned with eleven statues; on the side stands a brick hearth for a
charcoal fire, having a large lanthorn in the roof of the Hall fitted
for that purpose, turreted and covered with lead. In the north end of
the Great Hall there is one turret, and a clock case covered with lead,
which, together with the lanthorn in the middle thereof, are a special
ornament unto that building.”

No detailed account of a performance is known, and only in one instance
is the name given of the play performed; documents may exist at the
Record Office which one day may give us new information on the subject.

1575. The Earl of Warwick’s players were paid £10 for performing a play
before the Queen at Richmond on Shrove Monday last past.

1578. The Lord Chamberlain’s men were paid £10 for performing a play
called “A History of the Cruelties of a Stepmother.” This play was
performed at Richmond on Innocents’ Day at night.

1578. A play was performed at Richmond on St. John’s Day at night by
the Children of the Chapel Royal.

On March 15th, 1639, John Lowin, Joseph Taylor and Edward Swanston were
paid £300 for 24 plays acted before the King by the King’s players. Six
of these plays were produced at Richmond in the previous year.

The next year the same actors were paid £20 for producing several plays
before His Majesty, two of which were performed at Richmond.

1640. A warrant for £60 unto the company of the Prince’s players for
three plays acted at Richmond at £20 each play, in consideration of
their travelling expenses and loss of the days at home.


From various documentary records there is certain proof that many of
the London theatrical companies acted at Hampton Court during the
Shakesperean era. Hampton Court was a favourite residence both of
Elizabeth and James, and in addition the Great Hall was more suitable
for the representation of plays and masques than any other royal
residence. Originally this palace belonged to the great Cardinal
Wolsey, who commenced the building in 1515 in a truly regal manner,
and it was ready for occupation in the following year. The Palace
contained over eleven hundred rooms, furnished in the most elaborate
and elegant style, equal in magnificence to any Court throughout
Europe. After occupying this ideal residence for a period of ten years,
Wolsey presented the entire building to his sovereign, King Henry the
Eighth, who graciously accepted his subject’s munificent gift, which
for evermore became the property of the Crown.

The chief interest to Shakespereans is the Great Hall, a chamber of
magnificent dimensions, this Hall being considered one of the finest
existing examples of Gothic architecture. The length of the Hall is one
hundred and eighteen feet, with a height of ninety-two feet.

One beautiful window nearly reaches the entire height of the Hall;
five other superb windows encircle the building. In the alcoves of
the Hall are shapely octagonal turrets, which reach to the extremity
of the roof. The interior of the building is no less remarkable for
its beauty. The first impression is one of dazzling brilliancy, and
on further investigation the richness of all the details enhances the
grandeur of this majestic state apartment. That such a noble work of
art should come down to us in nearly all its ancient splendour is
indeed fortunate.


                              FAIRE MAIDE

                             of Bristovv.

                As it was plaide at Hampton, before the
                    King and Queenes most excellent

            [Illustration: ✠ THOV · SHALT · LABOR · TILL ·
                    THOV · RETVRNE · TO · DVSTE · ]

             Printed at London for Thomas Pauyer, and are
               to be solde at his shop, at the entrance
                        into the Exchange 1605.

No trace remains of the rich stained glass, but after the lapse
of centuries that need cause no wonder: the miracle is that as much
remains for our admiration.

The large bay window contained fully eight lights, which reflected
on the dais, where stood the King’s table. At the lower end of the
Hall was fixed a screen of beautiful oak, before which a platform was
raised for the actors, who here performed their comedies and tragedies,
masques, and other kinds of entertainments. Over the screen was a
balcony, called the Minstrels’ Gallery, which was reached by a small

Mention must be made of the magnificent roof, the most ornate of
this particular style which still exists, for richness of detail and
elaborate carving it remains unrivalled. Although we do not possess
actual proof, we can confidently maintain that Shakespeare acted on
several occasions under this noble roof, and also produced many of his
immortal plays before the royal audience.

Lord Charles Howard’s men performed a play before the Queen in 1576.
This Lord Howard was Baron Howard of Effingham. In the early years of
Elizabeth’s reign Lord Howard’s men are styled the Lord Chamberlain’s

Lord Strange’s men were paid £20 and given £10 reward on March the 7th,
1593, for three plays presented at Hampton Court on St. John’s Night,
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. This extract is taken from Chalmer’s
_Apology_. The names of the plays are not recorded. Shakespeare was a
member of Lord Strange’s company, and probably acted on this occasion.

The Earl of Warwick’s servants were paid a reward for acting before the
Queen at Hampton Court in the Christmas Holydays; the name of the play
was the “Painter’s Daughter.”

Lord Rich’s players were paid £6 13s. 4d. for presenting plays before
the Queen on St. Stephen’s Day at night. Lord Rich’s company was quite
an unimportant one, and was unknown in London; they acted at Hampton
Court in 1569 and again in 1570. Court performances were frequently
given here during the reigns of James I and Charles I.


Historically, Windsor Castle dates from before the Conquest. William
the Conqueror was the first English king to reside here permanently.
Little is heard of this fortress castle until the reign of Edward III,
when a complete restoration was effected. One of the chief glories of
the Castle is St. George’s Chapel, reconstructed on a princely scale
by Edward IV. In Queen Elizabeth’s reign a new gallery and banqueting
house were erected; the latter was situated at the extreme eastern side
of the terrace; it was an octagon in shape, and was surmounted by a
cupola, windows being placed on every side. The Great Hall was built
in the reign of Henry III, and appears to have been a truly stately
edifice. When Henry VIII entertained Charles the Fifth at Windsor in
1522, the great Hall was the scene of many festivities. At the upper
end of the chamber a platform was erected, in the centre of which was
a dais elaborately painted in royal state. On all sides of the Hall
were several windows filled with fine stained glass. During Charles’s
visit a play was presented in this Hall; after the play was ended, a
most magnificent masque was introduced, in which twelve gentlemen and
twelve ladies dressed in the most costly masquerade garments, all of
which were in gold. After the dance a sumptuous banquet was held, which
greatly added to the night’s entertainment.

1582. A play called “A History of Love and Fortune” was performed
before the Queen at Windsor “on the Sondaie at night next before the
newe yeares daie.” The play was produced by the Earl of Derby’s players.

1570. William Hunnis was paid £6 13s. 4d. for a play performed by the
Chapel Children before the Queen on the Twelfth Night at Windsor. This
William Hunnis was a poet musician, a keeper of the Queen’s gardens at
Greenwich, and eventually was appointed Master of the Children of the
Chapel Royal.

In 1582 a play called “A Game of Cards” was presented at Court. This
play was performed before the Queen at Windsor on the evening of St.
Stephen’s Day. In the original document the entry is as follows: “A
Comodie or Morrall, devised on ‘A Game of the Cardes.’”

1569. Richard Farrant, Master of the Children of Windsor Chapel, was
paid £6 13s. 4d. for a play “performed by these boys before the Queen
upon St. John’s daye, at nighte last past.” There are several entries
relating to this company, but the place where they acted is not stated;
most probably the Windsor boys only acted at Windsor Castle.

1563. The Children of Westminster School acted before the Queen at


As far back as the year 1300, a royal palace was in existence at
Greenwich. Nothing is known of this early building until the end of the
reign of Henry IV. Afterwards it came into the possession of the Duke
of Gloucester, who beautified the place and considerably extended the
grounds, calling the palace Palacentia, on account of its sweet and
pleasing aspect.

[Illustration: Greenwich Palace in the time of Elizabeth.]

Henry VIII was born here, and in after years his birthplace was an
object of his special devotion, he spending much of his time and
income on enlarging the building and laying out the grounds.

In the great Hall many feasts and entertainments were held, these
occasions being specially noted for the lavishness and splendour
displayed. This monarch greatly encouraged the performing of the
Masque, then newly imported from Italy. “On the day of the Epiphany, at
night, the King, with eleven others, were disguised after the manner of
Italy, called a masque a thing not seen before in England, they were
apparelled in garments long and broad wrought all in gold.” The King
himself took part in these gorgeous displays. Queen Elizabeth was also
born at Greenwich; like her royal father, she was much attached to the
palace and greatly enlarged the edifice. The Presence Chamber was hung
with rich tapestries, and the floor, as was usual in those days, was
strewn with rushes.

Plays were frequently acted at this palace, Greenwich being a favourite
residence of Queen Elizabeth. In 1584, the Queen’s players acted before
Her Majesty here on St. Stephen’s Day at night; the next day the Earl
of Oxenford’s plays were performed before the Queen, the play presented
being “The History of Agamemnon and Ulysses”; this play was acted on
St. John’s Day at night. The St. John’s Day mentioned is in celebration
of the Evangelist of that name whose birth is honoured on the 27th of
December; this saint must not be confused with John the Baptist, whose
name day is celebrated both on the 24th of June and the 29th of August.
The play acted on St. Stephen’s Day was “Phylbyda and Corin.”

1585. A play called “Felix and Philomence” was performed before the
Queen at Greenwich; the plot was founded on a pastoral poem by George
Monetmayor. An early edition of this poem, dated 1585, written in the
original Spanish, is in my possession.


                           CERTAINE DEUISES
                        and shewes presented to
                 ~her~ MAIESTIE ~by the Gentlemen of~
                _Grayes-Inne_ at her Highnesse Court in
                Greenewich, _the twenty eighth day of_
                Februarie in the thirtieth yeare of her
                         MAIESTIES most happy


                               AT LONDON

                      Printed by Robert Robinson.

A few days later another play was performed called “Five plays in One.”

1588. On Shrove Sunday, Paul’s boys performed before the Queen at
Greenwich. Their master, Thomas Gyles, received in payment £10.

1594. This year is a very important land-mark in Court performances:
no less a personage than Shakespeare himself acted at Court on this

“To William Kempe, William Shakespeare, and Richard Burbage, servants
to the Lord Chamberlayne, upon the Councelles Warrant, dated at
Whitehall XV of Mar., 1594, for two several comedies or interludes
showed by them before her Majestie on Christmas time laste paste,
viz., upon St. Stephen’s days and Innocentes days XIIIli, VIs. VIId.
and by waye of her Majesties reward VIli, XIIIs, VIId, in all XXli.”

“For making ready at Greenwich for the Qu. Majestie against her
Highness coming thither by the space of VIII days, December, 1594, as
appeareth by a bill signed by the Lord Chamberleyne.”

Although the two plays performed are not mentioned by name, one of them
may have been “The Comedy of Errors,” as this play was performed on
the same date in Gray’s Inn Hall, and was acted by the same company as
appeared before the Queen at Greenwich.

1606. On October 18th, John Hemings was paid £30 for three plays acted
before his Majesty and the King of Denmark, two of them at Greenwich
and one at Hampton Court.


The ground on which St. James’s Palace stood was originally a hospital
for lepers, and was in existence years before the Conquest. When it
surrendered to Henry VIII, the maiden lepers (being a hospital for
women) were pensioned.

The building and grounds were in possession of Eton College, with which
the King made an exchange. The building, on coming into possession of
the King, was entirely demolished, and upon the same site a magnificent
Palace was erected, and was named after the adjoining fields.

The Palace was designed in the Gothic style. In course of time the
building has been much altered, and further additions have been
made by subsequent sovereigns. A goodly part of the old structure
remained until a disastrous fire at the beginning of the last century
destroyed nearly the entire fabric. Fortunately, the Clock Tower
escaped destruction as also did the famous Gateway, together with the
celebrated Chapel Royal, one of the special features of the ancient
residence. The Chapel is built of brick, with battlements coped with
stone, somewhat after the Gothic fashion; this part is quite ancient,
forming the original chapel as it existed in the time of Henry VIII.
Some authorities would even ascribe it as part of the old hospice, but
this is more than doubtful. Many records exist that during the reigns
of Elizabeth and James many theatrical representations were given.
In Elizabeth’s reign no special room was set aside for these court
performances, but at a later period the Ball Room was generally the
scene of action. Several of Shakespeare’s plays are known to have been
performed before Charles I and Queen Henrietta.

The famous Children of the Revels performed regularly before Queen
Elizabeth, and many are the plays extant, by all the famous Tudor
dramatists, in which these children companies acted before private and
semi-private audiences.

1623. All Hallows. The play performed was the “Maid of the Mill.” The
prince being present only.

1633. On Saturday, the 17th of November, being the Queen’s birthday,
“Richard the Third” was acted by the K. players at St. James’s, when
the King and Queene were present, “it being the first play the Queene
sawe since Her Mrys. delivery of the Duke of York, 1633.”

“1633. On Tuesday night, at Saint James, the 26th of November, 1633,
was acted before the King and Queen ‘The Taminge of the Shrew.’ Likt.”

“November 28th, 1633. ‘The Tamer Tamed, or, The Woman’s Prize.’ Very
well likt.”

Several other plays were performed at St. James’s Palace by the King’s


Old Somerset House, sometimes called Denmark House, in honour of the
Queen of James the First, was situated in the Strand on the same site
as the modern Somerset House. This palace was built by the great Duke
of Somerset called the Protector; he was the ill-fated brother of Jane
Seymour. In the erection of this building many well known palaces
and houses were demolished, including the palaces of the Bishops of
Worcester, Chester, Llandaff, Lichfield, also the Strand Inn and the
Parish Church of St. Mary’s. The great Duke never lived to see his
magnificent house completed; arrested on a charge of high treason, he
was beheaded in 1552. The Palace, when finished, was frequently the
residence of Queen Elizabeth, and in later years was inhabited by the
Queens of Charles I and Charles II. This palace was not the favourite
residence of Elizabeth, she preferring the more fashionable quarters of
Whitehall and St. James’s. Old Somerset House was pulled down in 1776,
and the present building was commenced under the superintendence of
the architect, Sir William Chambers. Old Somerset House consisted of
one large and principal quadrangle, called the Upper Court, facing
the Strand. In the southern front of the quadrangle were the Guard
Chambers, with a waiting room. The Privy Chamber and the Presence
Chamber from the west end of which a flight of stone steps led down
into the garden, on the western side. In the south-east angle were
situated the private apartments of the Queen. Facing the Strand was
a variety of other buildings occupied by members of the Court, also
the Yellow Room, the Cross Gallery, and the Long Gallery, this last,
no doubt, being the chamber where plays and masques were held. These
entertainments attracted a vast throng of courtiers and their friends,
especially on those nights when the King and Queen attended in person.



                     _The First and Second Parts._

                 Twice presented before the +KING+ and
                +QUEENS+ Majesties at _Somerset-House_,
                and very often at the Private House in
                 _Black-Friars_, with great Applause,

                   _By his late MAJESTIES Servants._

                              _Written by
                       LODOWICK CARLELL_, Gent.


             Printed for _Humphrey Moseley_, and are to be
          sold at his shop at the sign of the _Prince’s Arms_
                  in St. _Pauls_ Church-yard. +1655+.

1585. Three plays in One. “This play should have been shewed before her
highness on Shrovesundie at night, but the Queen came not abroad that
night. Tarlton, the celebrated clown and jester of Queen Elizabeth,
wrote a play in two parts called ‘The seven Deadly Sins.’ Three plays
in one may have been the first part.”

1585. “An Antic play and a Comedy. This play was given at Somerset
Place at night, the Queen being present.”

1634. “The Shepherdess.” “On Monday night, the sixth of January and
the Twelfth Night, was presented at Denmark House, before the King and
Queen, Fletcher’s pastorall, called ‘The Faithful Shepherdesse’ in
the clothes the Queen had given Taylor the yeare before of her owne
pastorall.” The scenes were fitted to the pastorall and made by Mr.
Inigo Jones in the great chamber, 1633.

Denmark House is another name for Somerset House, also called Somerset
Place. After spending a whole afternoon in searching for a reference to
Denmark House without any result, I made repeated enquiries, which were
fruitless. Eventually, after further research, the desired information
was forthcoming.


Nonsuch Palace was built by Henry VIII. When erecting this building the
King destroyed the entire village of Cuddington, including the church
and the old manor house. Judging from its name, which signifies “beyond
compare,” the palace, when furnished, must have presented a noble
appearance. One author waxes quite enthusiastic: “Here Henry VIII, in
his magnificence, erected a structure so beautiful, so elegant and so
splendid, that in whatever direction the admirer of florid architecture
turned his eye he will say that it easily bears off the palm, so
great is the emulating Roman Art, so beautiful are the paintings, the
sculpture, gildings and decorations of all kinds that you would say it
is a sky spangled with stars.”

Paul Hentzer, who described the early London theatres, also took notice
of this handsome building and lovely grounds. On the death of the King,
Queen Mary sold it to the Earl of Arundel, and in the next reign the
noble earl entertained the Queen in right royal state. Balls, masques,
and plays were given in alternate evenings, the children of St. Paul’s
acting in a play especially composed for the occasion. After this visit
the Queen much favoured this beautiful summer retreat, and a few years
later she purchased the entire estate from Lord Lumley, the Earl of
Arundel’s son-in-law. Elizabeth kept open house here, daily hunting
over the neighbouring downs, and in the evenings masques and plays were
held; sometimes for divertissement she would dance a galliard with her
courtiers. Nonsuch was pulled down in 1671, and the surrounding lands
were converted into farms. Even in the present day a residence named
Nonsuch House will be found in the neighbourhood.

“1559. A play was performed here before the Queen by the Children of
St. Paul’s, under their Master, Sebastian Westcott.”

No other play is mentioned as performed in this Palace.


This royal residence dates from quite ancient times, being erected
during the thirteenth century. It was occupied by royalty for many
centuries, until the reign of James I, when it ceased to be a royal
palace. Originally a moated manor house, like all such buildings, the
house was nearly square in form, and embraced four courts, surrounded
by a high wall. The moat, which surrounded the structure, was of great
width; the principal entrance was over a stone bridge and through a
gateway in the north wall. There was also another gateway and bridge
at the opposite side of the enclosure. The most important part of
the building consisted of a high range, which crossed the Court from
east to west, and included the Great Hall, the Chapel and the State
Apartments. The principal courts were spacious, lodging rooms and state
offices were numerous. Of all these large buildings, the Banqueting
Hall and an ivy covered bridge now remain, which still forms an
entrance to the ruins. The Banqueting Hall is a most interesting relic
of this once magnificent Palace.

The high pitched roof is in a fair state of preservation, with hammer
beams, carved pendants, and braces, supported on corbels of hewn stone.
The dimensions of the Hall are 100 feet in length, 55 in height, and
36 in breadth. This Hall, with a suite of rooms at either end, was
the main feature of the Palace; it rose in the centre of surrounding
buildings as superior in the grandeur of its architecture, the
magnificence of its properties and the amplitude of its dimensions.
This fair edifice has survived the vicissitudes which, at different
periods, has destroyed the old palace. Desolation has reached its very
walls, but still the Hall of Eltham Palace has not, with the exception
of the Louvre, been deprived of any of its salient features. The
proportions of Eltham Hall and the harmony of the design attest the
care and skill which were exerted in the production of this beautiful
edifice. Other halls may surpass this building in extent, but this
is perfect in every useful and elegant decoration belonging to a
banqueting chamber. It was splendidly lighted, and perhaps required
painted glass to subdue the glare admitted through two and twenty

The Palace during the early part of the nineteenth century was used as
a barn, when most of the windows were bricked up and three pairs on the
north side remain in that position at the present time. The holes for
the timber supports of the elevated platform are still visible on the
western wall and above the same spot at a considerable elevation was
a window, where the King might look from his own private apartment on
the revellers in the Hall, an arrangement commonly in use in the old
mansions of this description.

“1559. August 7th. A play was performed at this date before the Queen.”
Collier gives the acting place at Eltham, other authorities state the
performance took place at Nonsuch. The Children who presented the
play were acting under their Master, Sebastian Westcott. This is the
only reference I can find pertaining to Eltham, and unfortunately, a
doubtful one.


In Elizabethan times plays and masques were often presented in the
Halls of the buildings belonging to the Inns of Court. The Hall of the
Middle Temple has the distinction of being one of the grandest Tudor
buildings remaining in the United Kingdom.

[Illustration: Interior of the Middle Temple Hall.]

This beautiful Hall dates from the year 1571, when the edifice was
completed. At the lower end of the Hall stands a marble bust of
Plowden, who was Treasurer during the period of its erection. One of
the plays acted in this historic building possesses great interest for
the Shakesperean student. The play solicited by the Benchers for their
Candlemas Festival in the year 1601 was no other than Shakespeare’s
delightful masterpiece, “Twelfth Night.” The assumption is quite
natural that the Lord Chamberlain’s company produced and acted the
play, and that Shakespeare, as a member of that company, took part in
the performance. In all likelihood, Queen Elizabeth was present on this
auspicious occasion. There is no authentic record in any way bearing
out this last statement. I was one of the fortunate individuals who
witnessed the production of this same comedy, under the same roof, and
attended by royalty, our present King and Queen and Queen Alexandra
being interested spectators at this performance in aid of the Red Cross
Society. I still retain as a souvenir the voucher of my five-guinea

The date of the first production of this play was in former times
attributed to various years, ranging from 1599 to 1614. Malone and
Stevens, two of the foremost commentators of the eighteenth century
assign the play to the year 1614. By the discovery of Manningham’s
Diary, in which “Twelfth Night” is mentioned as early as 1601, all
dates previously suggested are null and void. Manningham was a student
of the Middle Temple who, for a space of over two years, kept a diary,
which was discovered in the British Museum as early as the last
century. The extract which interests us is as follows:

    “Febr. 1601.

    “Feb. 2. At our feast we had a play called ‘Twelve Night,’ or ‘What
    you Will,’ much like the Commedy of Errores or Menechmi in Plautus,
    but most like and neere to that in Italian called ‘Inganni.’ A
    good practise in it to make the Steward believe his Lady widdowe
    was in love with him by counterfeyting a letter as from his Lady
    in generall terms, telling him that she liked best in him, and
    prescribing his gesture in smiling, his apparaile cte, and then
    when he came to practise making him believe they tooke him to be

    Manningham made mistake in believing Olivia to be a widow; she was
    mourning for a brother, which is distinctly referred to by Orsino.
    The play mentioned by Manningham as “Inganni,” is really an Italian
    play called “Gl’Ingannati,” a copy of which I recently picked up at
    a bargain price, the bookseller being unaware that the play was the
    original source of “Twelfth Night.”

    In the essay on Law contributed to Shakespeare’s “England,” by Mr.
    Arthur Underhill, the author states that: “It was for a Christmas
    revel at the Middle Temple that Shakespeare wrote ‘Twelfth Night.’”
    There does not exist an atom of evidence to prove this assertion,
    the general opinion being that Shakespeare wrote all his plays for
    the Lord Chamberlain’s company, and they were produced first at a
    regular theatre. How is it that at this late period of Shakesperean
    research such foolish guesses are allowed to pass the Censor?


[Illustration: Interior of the old Inner Temple Hall.]

[Illustration: Facsimile of passage in Manningham’s Diary, referring to
Twelfth Night.]

The Inner Temple and the Middle Temple cover the site formerly occupied
by the Knights Templars. After their suppression in 1312, the
Temple Church and the surrounding buildings passed into the possession
of the Crown. Thirty years later the Hospitallers, or Knights of St.
John, were the owners, who eventually leased the ground and buildings
to the lawyers, who have remained in possession ever since.


                       ¶ The Tragidie of Ferrex
                              and Porrex,

               set forth without addition or alteration
                 but altogether as the same was shewed
                 on stage before the Queenes Maiestie,
                   about nine yeares past, _vz._ the
                     xviij. day of Ianuarie. 1561.
                        by the gentlemen of the
                             Inner Temple.

                        ~Seen and allowed. ce.~

                       ❧ Imprinted at London by
                       Iohn Daye, dwelling ouer

            Acted at the Inner Temple in 1561 and repeated
            before the Queen at Whitehall in the same year

The Inner Temple had the distinction of possessing a famous library as
early as the fifteenth century, being the first of the Inns of Court
which possessed a library worthy of the name.

The ancient Hall of the Inner Temple, where plays and masques were held
on Festival and other occasions, was rebuilt early in the last century.
The modern Hall has been erected in close imitation of the former one.
Historically and architecturally the new Hall cannot compare with the
exquisite building of the Middle Temple, and every Englishman should
consider it his duty to pay at least one visit to this monument of
ancient learning.

The first English Tragedy, properly so called, was acted in the
ancient Hall of the Inner Temple on the occasion of the Christmas
Revels in 1561. The same play was performed the next year before the
Queen at Whitehall. The first edition of this work was a piratical
one, published in 1565, a unique copy of which is in the Eton Library.
The title page of this edition states that the first three acts were
written by Thomas Norton, and the last two by Thomas Sackville. The
play is styled the “Tragedie of Gorboduc.” The second edition is called
“The Tragedie of Ferrex and Porrex,” published in 1570. The third
edition was issued in 1590. Each act of this play is preceded by a dumb
show similar to the one produced in the play scene of “Hamlet.” Another
play acted by the members of the Inner Temple in 1567 is “Gismund
of Salerne,” a tale adapted from one of Boccaccio’s novels. Two
manuscripts of this play exist, as well as a printed version, dated
1591, called “Tancred and Gismonda,” a revised version of the earlier
play. This tale had been translated by Painter and published in his
_Palace of Pleasure_, Vol. I, 1566. The author translated the version
from the original Italian, but it is quite possible they consulted
Painter’s version.

[Illustration: Interior of Gray’s Inn Hall.]


Gray’s Inn owes its name to one Reginald Le Gray, who was Chief Justice
at Chester early in the fourteenth century. Towards the end of the
same century we find a building mentioned as “Graysyn” which at this
time was in the possession of the lawyers. The present Hall is founded
on the same site as the one that previously existed, which was not
entirely destroyed, but rebuilt about the middle of the sixteenth
century. The existing Hall is of quite modest dimensions and, together
with the old Chapel, forms quite a picturesque view. The surrounding
buildings date from early Georgian times, and add quite a pleasing
effect; a few modern buildings afford an opportunity of criticising and
comparing several modes of architecture in one place. The beautiful
gardens of Grays Inn add another exquisite touch to these old world

The original entrance to Gray’s Inn was a Gray’s Inn Lane, now Gray’s
Inn Road, the Holborn entrance being made about the year 1600. The
present archway certainly wears a modern aspect: that may be through
the old brickwork being stuccoed at a later period. Gray’s Inn was
famous for its revelling, Masque Plays and other diversions being
frequently acted within its walls.

We know for almost certain that one of Shakespeare’s plays was
performed at Gray’s Inn. On the even of Innocents’ Day, 1594, a
play was enacted called “The Comedy of Errors,” before the benchers,
students and invited guests. During the performance a disturbance
was caused by the students of the Inner Temple being dissatisfied
with their seating accommodation. A Gray’s Inn chronicler describes
the scene thus: “Was begun and continued to the end on nothing but
confusion and errors, whereupon it was afterwards called the Night of
Errors.” This same play was given in the identical Hall by members
of the Elizabethan Society, 1895. An early representation of a play
at Gray’s Inn was named “Jocasta,” a Greek play, 1566, adapted and
translated for the English stage by George Gascoigne and Francis
Kenwelmersche, both of Gray’s Inn. The first edition of this play is
included in the complete works of George Gascoigne, entitled “A Hundred
Sundrie Floures,” bound up in one small Poem, no date, but issued in
1573. A second edition appeared in 1575, and a third in 1587. There is
no record of any stage play or masque being given at Lincoln’s Inn.

[Illustration: Jocasta,

A Tragedie written in Greek by Euripides, translated and digested into
acte by George Gascoygne and Francis Kinwelmershe, of Grayes Inne, and
there by them presented, 1566.]


                              MR. WILLIAM
                             HISTORIES, &

           Published according to the True Originall Copies.

        [Illustration: Martin . Droeshout : scuplsit · London.]


           Published by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed. Blount. 1623.





    Ours be your patience then, and yours our parts.
                                                     _Epilogue, line 5._

This word bears quite a respectable age of antiquity in its theatrical
sense, being so used in the year 1495 in a note to the Coventry
Mysteries. “Payd for copying of the 11 Knights partes and demons.” The
meaning refers to the character assigned or sustained by an actor in a
dramatic performance; also the words assigned to or spoken by an actor
in such a character. It also refers to a printed copy of these words:


    The King’s a beggar, now the play is done.
                                                     _Epilogue, line 1._


    What say you to his expertness in war?
    Faith, sir, had led the drum before the
    English tragedians.
                                                             IV, 3, 299.

Although the sentence is self explanatory, its meaning puzzled me. The
contemporary drama has no reference to this somewhat primitive method
of advertising. I wrote the following paragraph to _Notes and Queries_,
and received the two replies which are here printed.

FROM _Notes and Queries_.

Shakespereana. All’s Well that Ends Well.

In the “Arden Shakespeare,” which is the only separate edition of this
play that has a full commentary, the important passage, “Has led the
drum before the English tragedians,” is left unnoticed. I am prepared
to wager that not one in a hundred readers of Shakespeare would be
able to interpret it. I am not quite certain of its interpretation,
and therefore I ask your readers to interpret it. I believe it has
reference to the actors who marched through the City accompanied by a
drum to call attention to the play they were about to act.

    (Sgnd.) MAURICE JONAS.


    Shakespereana. All’s Well that Ends Well. 10 S. XI. 30.

In reply to the query as to the meaning of the passage, “Has led the
drum before the English tragedians,” I offer the following quotation
from the _European Magazine_ for June, 1788. It refers to the early
history of the drama in Birmingham. In about 1740 a theatre was erected
in Moor Street, which rather gave a spring to the amusement. In the
daytime the comedian beat up for volunteers for the night, delivered
his bills of fare and roared out an encomium on the excellence of the
entertainment. “In 1751 a company arrived which announced themselves
‘His Majesty’s Servants from the Theatres Royal in London,’ and hoped
the public would excuse the ceremony of the drum as beneath the
dignity of a London company.” The novelty had a surprising effect,
the performers had merit, and the house was continually crowded.
It is evident, therefore, that the custom was prevalent long after
Shakespeare’s death. I may add that there is a well-known portrait of
Tarlton, the actor, which represents him with a big or small drum.

    (Sgnd.) HOWARD S. PEARSON.


Parolle’s ridicule of Capt. Dumain’s soldiership by saying that “He led
the drum before the English tragedians,” IV, III, 298, may be compared
to Iago’s “That never set a squadron in the field” (Oth. I 1). And
in both of those plays, in the scenes just referred to, the “bookish
theoric” of war is satirized. Parolle’s comparison of Dumain, with the
drummer that preceded a company of strolling players, was probably due
to his knowledge of the importance of the soldier that carried the drum
with his smatter of languages, and what appeared a ridiculous imitation
of the military costume.

The military disliked the players marching to the beats of a drum,
and sometimes, when the players entered a town where soldiers were
quartered, a fight ensued, often ending in a riot. This explanation may
support the point to Parolle’s remark. In III, 41, Parolle’s vexation
at the loss of his drum is not clear from the text, so it is necessary
to add that the colours were attached to the instrument in those times.

    (Sgnd.) TOM JONES.

Does Tom Jones, in his reply, convey the idea that an English soldier
marched in front of the actors? This is quite a conjectural assumption,
not a scrap of evidence existing that such was the custom. Since
writing my note I came across an allusion bearing on the subject. This
appears in a letter written by Lord Hunsdon to the Lord Mayor in 1594,
stating that “where my now company of players have been accustomed
for the better exercise of their quality and for the service of her
Majesty if need so require, to play this winter time within the City
at the Cross Keys, in Gracious Street, those are to require and pray
your Lordship to permit and suffer them so to do, the which I pray
you the rather to do for that they have undertaken for me that where
heretofore they began not their plays till towards four o’clock, they
will now begin at two and have done between four and five, and will
not use any drums or trumpets at all for the calling of the people
together, and shall be contributors to the poor of the parish where
they play according their habilities. Halliwell’s Illustrations, p. 31,
of Remembrancia, p. 353, as quoted in Greg’s edition of _Henslowe’s

In this interesting and important extract nothing is said respecting
the actors marching through the City with a drummer at their head. It
is a well-known fact that three blasts of a trumpet announced that the
play was about to commence. I feel sure something more is known about
this practice, although it does not appear in the usual channels of
information in reference to this period. At a much later date this
custom seems to have prevailed when the actors visited the provinces,
but whether it was customary or only occasional cannot be stated
with any degree of certainty. Unfortunately, so many questions of
Shakesperean interest must be unanswered in a similarly unsatisfactory

Another question of interest arises from this extract. How comes it
that the company formerly commenced their plays between four and five
even in winter time? The players either acted at a regular theatre or
in an inn-yard, and at both places acting took place in the open air.
The only solution possible is that the actors rented a large room of
one of the inns or taverns and there acted by candlelight, otherwise
beginning at such a late hour cannot be accounted for.



                        All the world’s a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players:
    They have their exits and their entrances;
    And one man in his time plays many parts,
    His acts being seven ages.

    Last scene of all,
    That ends this strange eventful history.
                                                             II, 7, 139.


Entrances is not used as a stage direction. It is employed here in a
special sense of an actor making his appearance on the stage. Exit
denotes the departure of an actor from the stage, and is freely used
in all the printed editions of Shakespeare’s works and in all other
dramatic literature. The plural exeunt is also used in the same sense.
Although exit is written and spoken in its Latin form, the word is
thoroughly naturalised, whilst exeunt is marked in the dictionary as
a foreigner. Man and Manet are also stage directions often to be met
with in the old quarto editions; they signify that the actor or actors
whose name or names follow this direction remain on the stage after the
others have left; later dramatists did not use these terms, and now
they have become obsolete. As the old quartos were not divided into
scenes or acts, these directions generally indicated that the scene or
act was concluded. At the end of a few plays the words “exeunt omnes”
are to be found.


    “Bring us to this sight, and you shall say
    I’ll prove a busy actor in their play.”
                                                             III, V, 62.


    And so he plays his part.
                                                             II, 7, 157.

I charge you, O women, for the love you bear to men, to like as much of
this play as please you.


I charge you, O men, for the love you bear to women, that between you
and the women the play may please.



Shall we clap into ’t roundly, without hawking or spitting or saying we
are hoarse, which are the only prologues to a bad voice.


    Full of wise saws and modern instances;
    And so he plays his part.
                                                             II, 7, 157.


    The roughish clown, at whom so oft your grace was wont to laugh at.
                                                               II, 1, 8.

    Hollow you clown! Peace, fool;
    It’s meat and drink for me to see a clown.
                                                               V, 1, 12.


It is not the fashion to see the lady the epilogue. If it be true that
good wine needs no bush! ’tis true that a good play needs no epilogue,
yet to good wine they do use bushes; and good plays prove the better by
the help of good epilogues. What a case am I in then, that am neither a
good epilogue, nor cannot insinuate you on the behalf of a good play!


    Thou seest we are not all alone unhappy,
    This wide and universal theatre
    Presents more woeful pageants than the scene
    Wherein we play in.
                                                             II, 7, 138.

    If you will see a pageant truly play’d.
                                                             III, 5, 55.

The general meaning of this word is simply a kind of dumb-show
procession similar to our Lord Mayor’s Show. One of the earliest
meanings of pageant referred to the stage, platform or scaffold on
which such scenes were acted. It is a point of contention whether the
pageant took its name from the structure or _vice versa_. In course
of time, speaking parts were introduced, and then the word became to
be applied indiscriminately to all kinds of plays, such as Mystery,
Miracle, and Morality Plays, which had by the end of the sixteenth
century become obsolete and antiquated.

In the York Miracle Cycle the Ordo Paginorum, the order of the
pageants, is prefixed to the version of the plays. The Order consisted
of different guilds, which took part in the plays represented on Corpus
Christi day in the year 1415.

A subjoined quotation from Sir A. W. Ward’s English Dramatists would
support the view that the pageant was provided with speaking parts
of short duration. “Those pageants, in the generally accepted later
and narrower use of the term, which consisted of moving shows devoid
of either action or dialogue.” In a pageant given at Westminster
Hall, before Henry VIII, an account is extant in which a dialogue is
represented as taking place between the ladies and the ambassadors,
also the sweet and harmonious saying of the Children. It will be
observed that in these passages a germ of dialogue existed which in
later years may have assumed such larger proportions as might justify
these as being alluded to as plays.


An address or short poem recital before the audience after the
conclusion of a play. Rosalind, the heroine of this comedy, delivered
the epilogue. Few dramatists in those days furnished either prologues
or epilogues when writing their plays, but after the Restoration,
when women played the female parts, the custom became universal and
was generally spoken by one of the actresses. Nell Gwynne, when she
acted, usually recited these lines. In many instances the epilogues are
spoken by a person not connected with the play. There exists some doubt
whether Shakespeare wrote the prologues and epilogues prefixed to the
printed edition of his plays, the general custom permitting another
hand adding these verses. Of course the magnificent prologues in “Henry
V” are Shakespeare to the core.



        The quick comedians
    Extemporally will stage us, and present
    Our Alexandrian revels! Antony
    shall be brought drunken forth and I shall see
    some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness.
    In the posture of a wanton.

In this celebrated passage many terms are used in connexion with the
theatre. The quick comedians were the lively, quick witted actors who,
by their inventive methods, will produce a play according to the rules
of the _Commedia del’ arte_, which is meant by “extemporally will
stage us.” The meaning of the phrase, some “squeaking Cleopatra will
boy my greatness” will be apparent to every one conversant with the
theatrical history of Shakespeare’s time. At that period of dramatic
history no woman was allowed to appear on the public stage, all female
characters being represented by boys or men, which custom lasted until
the Restoration. It is generally acknowledged that a Mrs. Hughes was
the first woman to act on the public stage, appearing in the character
of Desdemona. This innovation was of the utmost importance, and an
interesting reference was made to this new custom in a specially
written prologue by Thomas Jordan.

    “I come unknown to any of the rest
    To tell the news I saw the lady drest:
    The woman plays the part to-day; mistake me not,
    No man in gown or page in petticoat.”

In comparison with former times, the stage must have reaped an enormous
benefit by this change.

    “Our women are defective and so sized
    You’d think they were some of the guard disguised,
    For to speak truth, men act that are between
    Forty and fifty, wenches of fifteen
    With bone so large and nerve so incompliant,
    When you call Desdemona enter giant.”


    Thou has seen these signs; They are black vesper’s pageants.
                                                              IV, 14, 8.


    Play one scene of excellent dissembley
    And let it look like perfect honour.
                                                               I, 3, 78.


    Thou, an Egyptian puppet, shall be shown in Rome, as well as I.
                                                              V, 2, 208.


    And be staged to the show against a sworder!
                                                            III, 13, 30.


    In the common show-place, where they exercise.
                                                             III, 6, 12.



    What, makest thou me a dullard in this act?
                                                              V, 5, 265.


    Shall’s have a play of this?
      Thou scornful page.
      There lie thy part. Striking her, she falls.
                                                              V, 5, 228.

“Shall’s” in Elizabethan drama is equivalent to our modern “shall we.”
“There lie thy part,” refers to the part the page shall play by lying


    That part thou, Pisanio, must act for me.
                                                             III, 4, 26.



    They say this town is full of cozenage;
    As nimble jugglers that deceive the eye.
                                                               I, 2, 98.

In mediæval times Jugglers were frequently to be met with at the Court,
being well received by an admiring audience. Their entertainment
consisted of catching knives, tossing balls and feats of balancing.
Such diversions even at the present day evoke unstinted applause,
especially if practised by a Cinquevalli. The word is derived from the
Latin _joculare_, to jest; the early meaning, which is now obsolete,
denoted one who entertains or amuses people by shows, songs, buffoonery
and tricks. It also bore the meaning of magician, wizard, or sorcerer.


    A mere anatomy, a mountebank, A threadbare juggler.
                                                              V, 1, 239.

A well known character in Shakespeare’s time. This entertainer
performed at street corners, who, from an elevated position, addressed
and amused his audience by means of stories, tricks, juggling and all
forms of quackery, in which he was generally assisted by a professional
clown or fool. Derived from the Italian _Montebanchi_, to mount a bench.



    If you chance to be pinched with the
    colic, you make faces like mummers.
                                                              II, 1, 83.

In the fourteenth century, mummings were the customary entertainments
held at the Court on festive occasions. They consisted of men in
masquerade, performing in dumb show, with the addition of dancing. The
word is derived from mum, an articulate sound made with closed lips.
Anyone taking part in these mummings was called a mummer. The meaning
of the word in its slang and contemptuous reference to an actor is
of quite modern date. These mummings or disguisings--both these terms
were used indifferently--continued to be presented until the first
quarter of the sixteenth century, at which date they assumed the name
of masks, and were of a more elaborate nature than the older form of
entertainment, speaking parts being added, which were generally written
in verse. This is the only instance in which Shakespeare uses the word.


    It is a part that I shall blush in acting.
                                                             II, 2, 149.


    Like a dull actor now, I have forgot my part, and I am out.
                                                               V, 3, 40.


    When he might act the woman in the scene, He proved the best man.
                                                             II, 2, 100.

    The gods look down, and this unnatural scene they laugh at.
                                                              V, 3, 184.


So then the Volsces stand but as at first;

    Ready, when time shall prompt them to make road upon’s again.
                                                              III, 1, 6.

    Come, come, we’ll prompt you.
                                                             III, 2, 95.



    When thou see’st that act afoot,
    Even with the very comment of thy soul
    Observe mine uncle.
                                                             III, 2, 83.

    You that look pale and tremble at this chance
    That are but mutes or audience to this act.
                                                              V, 2, 346.


    I heard thee speak a speech once, but it was never acted.
                                                             II, 2, 455.


    When Roscius was an actor in Rome, The actors are come hither.
                                                             II, 2, 410.

    Then came each actor on his ass. The best actors in the world.
                                                             II, 2, 416.


My Lord, you played once i’ the university, you say?


    That did I, my lord, and was accounted a good actor.
                                                            III, 2, 106.


    For look, where my abridgement comes.
                                                             II, 2, 439.


    There was for a while no money bid for argument.
                                                             II, 2, 273.

    Belike this show imports the argument of the play.
                                                            III, 2, 149.

    Have you heard the argument? Is there no offence in it?
                                                            III, 2, 242.

The argument of a play signified the plot or the subject matter under
discussion. The word in this sense is now obsolete, although much in
use in Elizabethan times, and frequently employed by several dramatists
of the period.


    They are but mutes or audience to this act.
                                                              V, 2, 398.


    You are as good as a chorus, my lord.
                                                            III, 2, 255.


    What would he do
    Had he the motive and the cue for passion
    That I have?
                                                            III, 2, 587.



    The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy,
    history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral;
    tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene
    individable, or poem unlimited; Seneca cannot be too heavy, not
    Plautus too light. For the law of writ and the liberty, these are
    the only men.
                                                             II, 2, 415.

By the above speech Polonius must have been fairly well acquainted
with the actors, and the repertoire of the tragedians of the city.
The list describing the different styles of composition are somewhat
exaggerated, but not to such an extent as appears at first sight.
Evidence of the lengthy repertory of the Globe can be gleaned from an
extract concerning a licence granted in 1603 to the Globe company.
Permission is given “freely to use the, and exercise the, Arte and
facultie of playing Comedies, Tragedies, Histories, Enterludes,
Moralls, Pastoralls and stage plaies, and such other like.” The phrase
“scene individable” refers to the dramas, scrupulously adhering
to the Unity of Place, a rule so carefully observed by classical
writers. “Poem unlimited” may have expressed the antithesis to scene
individable. The mention of Seneca and Plautus takes us back to the
dramatic writers of antiquity. Seneca’s tragedies were translated into
English and published in 1581. There are many allusions in English
literature to these blood-curdling dramas. Nash, the Elizabethan
dramatist and pamphleteer, thus describes the works of the Latin
author: “Yet English Seneca read by candle-light yields many good
sentences as ‘Blood is a beggar,’ and so forth, and if you entreat him
fair on a frosty morning he will afford you whole Hamlets, I should say
handfuls, of tragical speeches. But o grief _Tempus edax rerum_, what’s
that will last always? The sea exhaled by drops will in continuance be
dry, and Seneca let blood line by line and page by page at length must
needs die to our stage.”

I possess an original edition of Seneca’s work in Latin, printed
at Venice in the year 1498. The volume contains the ten tragedies,
which were rendered into English by Thomas Newton and other writers.
The “Hamlet” here referred to is an older play than Shakespeare’s
“Hamlet,” and presumably written by Thomas Kyd, to which Shakespeare
was immeasurably indebted. Traces of this play may survive in the 1603
quarto of “Hamlet.” The relation of the 1603 quarto of “Hamlet” to the
received text is one of the most puzzling subjects in all Shakesperean
literature. The exact relationship still awaits solution. Plautus was a
Latin dramatist, one of whose plays had been translated into English.
The “Menaechmi” was rendered into the vernacular by William Warner and
published in 1595. The translation acquaints us with the fact that
before publication the play had been circulated in MS. Shakespeare’s
play of the “Comedy of Errors” is founded on Plautus’s comedy. Whether
Shakespeare went direct to the original or copied from Warner or any
other translation cannot be decided. Somewhat puzzling is the question
in discovering the grammatical subject of “these are the only men.”
Does Polonius refer to the law of writ and the liberty or the “best
actors of the world.” “Writ and liberty” bear the same meaning as
“scene individable or poem unlimited.” The phrases may be intended as
a compliment to the poets who were distinguished in both classes of
composition, or perhaps the actors were the only men, who by their
expert knowledge were capable of acting in all kinds of plays, whether
a written composition or extempore plays.


    Come on; you hear this fellow in the cellarage.
    Consent to sweat.
                                                              I, V, 151.

This quotation possibly refers to some kind of contrivance in use
underneath the stage. Trap-doors in the Elizabethan theatre were an
indispensable feature of the stage setting. From the stage of to-day
they have entirely disappeared, with the exception of pantomime, where
they are still much in evidence. The Ghost in “Hamlet” apparently
made his entrance and his exit by one of these trap-doors. Several
dramatists made use of these doors in introducing their characters
upon the stage. The exact spot in which they were situated cannot be
indicated; only in one instance can it be clearly defined. Ben Jonson,
in his Induction to the Poetaster marks the trap-door in the centre
of the stage. One may also have existed in the upper stage, but this
suggestion is quite problematical. Spectators at the Blackfriars
Theatres allowed stools on the stage. Considering that trap-doors were
situated all over the stage, the stool-holders must have had their
allotted space marked off, otherwise they would have interfered with
the stage setting.


    Capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb-shows and noise.
                                                             III, 2, 14.

                                                            III, 2, 145.

    Enter a King and a Queen very lovingly; the Queen embracing him
    and he her. She kneels and makes show of protestation unto him. He
    takes her up and reclines his head upon her neck; lays him down
    upon a bank of flowers; she, seeing him asleep, leaves him. Anon
    comes in a fellow, takes off his crown, kisses it, and pours poison
    in the King’s ears, and exit. The Queen returns; finds the King
    dead and makes passionate action. The poisoner, with some two or
    three Mutes, comes in again, seeming to lament with her. The dead
    body is carried away. The Poisoner wooes the Queen with gifts; she
    seems loath and unwilling awhile, but in the end accepts, his love.

I have quoted the dumb-show scene in full, as only in rare instances
in English dramatic literature is the action of the play foretold by
such means. Why Shakespeare employed this confused method cannot be
conjectured. Surely Hamlet exhibiting, through the dumb-show, how his
father was murdered would naturally put the King upon his guard; the
very thing he sought to avoid. The dumb-show undoubtedly detracts from
the climax of the play-scene, and must be considered a serious blunder
on the part of the dramatist in having introduced this artless and
old-fashioned piece of machinery. The commentators give no valid excuse
for its introduction. Halliwell-Phillipps makes the silly suggestion
that the King and Queen should be whispering together during the scene,
and so escape seeing it. A more ridiculous note by a great Shakesperean
scholar has never been printed.


    What did you enact? I did enact
    Julius Cæsar, I was killed in the Capitol.
    Brutus killed me.
                                                            III, 2, 107.

Besides writing a play called “Julius Cæsar,” Shakespeare introduces
his name on several occasions; apparently he was one of the poet’s
favourite characters. I am afraid Shakespeare did not verify his
quotations; many simple errors occur through Shakespeare copying them
from other authors, whilst the critics, from sheer ignorance, always
lay them on Shakespeare’s shoulders, thus making him the scapegoat
for other’s mistakes. Of course, from the point of view of modern
scholarship, it is a grave error in placing Cæsar’s assassination in
the Capitol; Plutarch expressly states that Cæsar met his death at
Pompey’s portico, where a statue of his famous rival stood in the
centre. The dramatist was on the right track when Marc Antony, in his
oration, describes the place where Cæsar fell:

    “Then burst his mighty heart,
    And in his mantle, muffling up his face,
    Even at the base of Pompey’s statue,
    Which all the while ran blood, great Cæsar fell.”

Julius Cæsar was murdered in the “Curia,” Pompey near the theatre of
Pompey, in the Campus Martius. Chaucer commits the same blunder in
believing that Cæsar was stabbed in the Capitol. In Shakespeare’s play
of “Julius Cæsar” the same error was repeated. An ancient statue,
which was discovered in 1553 and now stands in the Sala dell’ Udianza
of the Spada Palace at Rome, may be the identical statue of Pompey,
at the base of which great Cæsar fell. Plutarch relates how at the
very base where Pompey’s statue stood, which ran all gore blood, till
he was slain. Plutarch’s celebrated lives of the Grecians and Romans
was translated into English by Thomas North in 1579, from the French
version of Jacques Amyot, first printed in 1559. Four editions were
issued before North made his translation without studying the text
very minutely, a difficulty arises in determining which edition North
used. This book was Shakespeare’s constant companion, and many of
North’s vigorous prose passages are turned into verse with very little
alteration. This volume was in the library of Molière’s mother, and
was frequently consulted by the great French comic poet. The author
was in great vogue during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, and it may well be considered the most popular book of those
times among educated people. During the last hundred years the work has
lost much of its popularity, few people of the present day having read
it. I doubt if many who profess themselves readers of good literature
know the author, even by name. So much for our educational system. I
possess a copy of the first Greek edition, dated 1517, formerly in
the possession of the Duke of Sussex; besides the rare first French
edition, 1559, which I recently purchased from the catalogue of a lady
provincial bookseller.


    To split the ears of the groundlings, who
    for the most part are capable of nothing
    but inexplicable dumb-shows and noise.
                                                            III, II, 12.

That part of the theatre, corresponding to our pit, was called the
yard, and the spectators who stood in the enclosure were dubbed
groundlings, the word being associated with the general sense of
ground. “Your groundlings and gallery-commoner buys his sport by the
penny.” The price of admission to this part of a public theatre, such
as the Globe, was one penny. At the Blackfriars, a private theatre,
there was no open yard. In Jonson’s play of “The Case is Altered”
one of the characters explains: “Tut, give me the penny, give me the
penny. I care not for the gentleman, I, let me have good ground.”
The same dramatist, in another play, designates these spectators as
the understanding gentlemen of the ground. Judging by contemporary
accounts, the yard was the most uncomfortable place for enjoying the
performance, the enclosure was bare of any sitting accommodation,
neither was there any flooring, being generally overcrowded; there
was no room for stools. Notwithstanding these disadvantages, the
people flocked to this part of the theatre, which, at most of the
public theatres, held about a thousand spectators. In proof of this
statement I will quote some verses from Marlowe’s Epigrams and Elegies,
translated from Ovid’s _Amores_:

    “For as we see
    The playhouse doors
    When ended is the play, the dance and song,
    A thousand townsmen, gentlemen and wantons,
    Porters and serving men, together throng.”

These lines were published circa 1596, and have never been quoted
before in reference to the stage, and I regard them, on my part, in
the light of a discovery. When every nook and cranny of Elizabethan
literature has been diligently ransacked in quest of materials for
illuminating theatrical matters, it is all the more surprising that
this passage should have been overlooked. The reason may be that in
this poem some of the verses were too highly coloured for respectable
literary folk, but in spite of this obstacle I considered it my duty
as a student to read the book diligently from page to page in hopes
of finding some reference to the early stage, and in this instance I
was amply rewarded. This volume of amorous verses was one of the books
condemned to be burnt at Canterbury by Archbishop Whitgift in 1599. By
a strange coincidence, the original of this volume was banned from the
public libraries by order of the Emperor Augustus.


    For O, for O, the hobby-horse is forgot.
                                                            III, 2, 144.

Although only distantly connected with the stage, the mention of this
well-known feature in the May games proves that Shakespeare was well
versed in all matters connected with the festivities of the village
homes. The hobby-horse was one of the principal actors, taking part in
the Morris Dance, this dance being considered the chief attraction of
the May games. Hobby was originally the name of a small horse chiefly
of Irish breed; when figuring in the festivities under this name it was
represented by a paste board painted figure of a horse, attached to a
frame of wicker wood or other light material, and was fastened round
the waist of a man, his own legs, going through the body of the horse,
were concealed by a long foot-cloth, thus enabling him to walk unseen,
while false legs appeared where those of the man should have been, at
the sides of the horse. Thus equipped, he executed various antics in
imitation of a skittish high-spirited animal. The name of the performer
was also called the hobby-horse. The phrase is now obsolete, but the
word hobby is now associated with the occupation of collecting various
works of art or trivial things, which is compared to the riding of a
toy horse. The present quotation may be a line now lost from an old
ballad, in which the omission of the hobby-horse from the May games
was the principal theme. The figure of a man riding a hobby-horse
is depicted on a glass window at Betley Church, Staffordshire. This
identical sentence is often mentioned in Elizabethan literature, which
would indicate that at this period it had ceased to form a part of
the rustic games. As an instance showing the disfavour into which the
hobby-horse had fallen, Hope-on-high Bomby, a character in “A Woman
Pleased,” by Beaumont and Fletcher, throws off his hobby-horse and
will no more engage in the Morris Dance. Last summer I witnessed some
very interesting Morris Dances performed on the Green in the Hampstead
Garden Suburb, but was disappointed in not seeing the hobby-horse. “For
O, For O, the hobby-horse is forgot,” I exclaimed in a loud voice, but
no one heeded me, and the dances continued.


    Prithee, say on, he’s for a jig or a tale of bawdry, or else
        he sleeps.
                                                             II, 2, 522.

This is the only instance in which Shakespeare uses the word in its
connexion with the dramatic history of the stage. In this sense the
word is now obsolete. Until quite lately, no specimen of this form of
dramatic literature was extant, yet the early commentators were fully
aware of its existence. Very little trustworthy evidence for this class
of literary diversion is procurable, but several early references
clearly indicate that such fare was usually provided at the public
theatres. The jig was a dramatic sketch or ballad drama, of a light
or farcical character, written to dance music and accompanied in most
instances to dance action. The piece that has survived is without this
lasting accessory. The actors in these sketches were chosen from those
that played the clowns and comic characters in the regular drama. An
idea of the nature of these one-act plays may be imagined by comparing
them to the rollicking farces which generally concluded the programme
in our theatres in Victorian times. The only extant jig, which has
recently been discovered, has been printed in the collection of
Shirburn ballads, and edited with much profound learning by Mr. Andrew
Clark. The playlet is entitled:

              “Mr. Attwell’s Jigge
    Francis.  A Gentleman.
    Richard.  A Farmer
    and their wives.”

The sketch is divided into four acts, each one accompanied to a
different tune. The first to the tune of “Walsingham,” the second
“The Jewish Bride,” the third to “Buggle-boe,” and the fourth to
“Goe from my Window.” This last tune was familiar in Scotland early
in Elizabeth’s reign. The first act introduces to us the plot of
the piece: the gentleman, who makes love to the farmer’s wife. When
her husband returns, she tells him of the gentleman’s intentions;
thereupon they concoct a plot to entrap the would-be lover, and inform
the gentleman’s wife of his intrigue. In the end the gentleman makes
love to his own wife in the belief that she is the farmer’s wife.
When he discovers his mistake he is forgiven and all ends happily. We
may readily assume that many such pieces still exist in manuscript
which have not yet come to light. We owe a debt to Mr. Clark for
having published this highly interesting example, illustrating a
popular theatrical amusement of the Tudor period. The Spanish dramas
of this date also had their jigs, which were called “bayles,” always
accompanied by words, either sung or recited, and, of course, by


    But if you mouth it, as many of your players do,
    I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines.
                                                              III, 2, 4.

These lines refer to the delivery of the speech, inserted by Hamlet
in the play scene. Apparently Shakespeare did not appreciate this
boisterous school of acting, which was of a pompous oratorical style,
uttering the words with great distinctness of articulation, amounting
almost to affectation; in brief, a species of ranting. In poetry,
verses are termed lines. Milton, in his ode to Shakespeare, prefixed to
the Second Folio, 1632, writes:

                      “... and that each part
    Hath from the leaves of thy unvalued Book
    Those Delphic lines with deep impression took.”

“Unvalued” in the above quotation is here used for our modern word
“invaluable.” Shakespeare uses the word in both its ancient and modern
definitions, namely, “Inestimable stones, unvalued Jewels,” in “Richard
III,” and once in “Hamlet,” “He may not as unvalued persons do Carve
for himself.”

An actor of to-day still refers to the words of his part as his lines.
A further instance of ranting occurs in Churchill’s “Roliad,” where he
speaks disparagingly of an actor in the following couplet:

    He mouths a sentence
        As a cur mouths a bone.

Shakespeare himself refers to his “untutored lines” in the dedication
of “Lucrece” to the Earl of Southampton.


    The humourous-man shall end his part in peace.
                                                             II, 2, 336.

In this passage the “humourous man” has no connection with the funny
or comical character in our present day melodramas. The meaning in
this latter sense is first used at the end of the seventeenth century.
The Shakesperean sense was moody, peevish, or capricious, ever ready
in entering into a quarrel, and represented by such characters as
Mercutio, Jacques, and Faulconbridge.


    He that plays the King shall be welcome.
                                                             II, 2, 332.

    The play I remember pleased not the million.
                                                             II, 2, 456.

    An excellent play well digested in the scenes.
                                                              II, 2, 46.

    We’ll hear a play to-morrow. Dost thou hear me?
    Old friend, can you play the murder of Gonzago?
                                                              II, 2, 56.

    I have heard that guilty creatures sitting at a play
    Have, by the very cunning of the scene,
    Been struck so to the soul, that presently
    They have proclaimed their malefactions.
                                                             II, 2, 618.

    I’ll have these players
    Play something like the murder of my father.
                                                             II, 2, 624.

    The play’s the thing
    Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.
                                                             II, 2, 663.

    They have already order
    This night to play before him.
                                                             III, 1, 21.

    After the play
    Let the queen mother alone entreat him.
                                                            III, 1, 189.

    O, there be players that I have seen play.
                                                             III, 2, 33.

    Let those that play your clowns speak no more than is set down for
                                                             III, 2, 43.

    Though, in the meantime, some necessary question of the play be
        then to be considered.
                                                             III, 2, 47.

    There is a play to-night before the king.
                                                             III, 2, 80.

    If I steal ought whilst the play is playing
    And ’scape detecting, I will pay the theft.
                                                             III, 2, 93.

    They are coming to the play I must be idle.
                                                             III, 2, 98.

    Belike this show imports the argument of the play.
                                                            III, 2, 150.

    You are naught, you are naught, I’ll mark the play.
                                                            III, 2, 158.

    Madam, how like you the play?
                                                            III, 2, 239.

    What do you call the play? The Mouse trap.
                                                            III, 2, 246.

    The play is the image of a murder done in Vienna.
                                                            III, 2, 265.

    Give o’er the play. Give me some light, Away.
                                                            III, 2, 279.

    Ere I could make a prologue to my brains
    They had begun the play.
                                                               V, 2, 31.


    My lord, you played once i’ the university, you say.
                                                            III, 2, 104.


    What lenten entertainment the players shall receive from you.
                                                             II, 2, 329.

    What players are they? Even those you were wont
    to take such delight in, the tragedians of the city.
                                                             II, 2, 365.

    Unless the poet and the player went to cuffs in the question.
                                                             II, 2, 373.

    There are the players.
    You are welcome to Elsinore.
                                                             II, 2, 386.

    Lest my extent to the players should more appear like entertainment
        than yours.
                                                             II, 2, 391.

    I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the players.
                                                             II, 2, 406.

    Will you see the players well bestowed.
                                                             II, 2, 547.

    Is it not monstrous that this player here
    But in a fiction in a dream of passion
    Could force his soul so to his own conceit.
                                                             II, 2, 577.

    I’ll have these players
    Play something like the murder of my father.
                                                             II, 2, 623.

    It so fell out that certain players
    We o’er-raught in the way.
                                                             III, 1, 16.

    If you mouth it as many of your players do.
    I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines.
                                                              III, 2, 3.

    O, there be players that I have seen play.
                                                             III, 3, 32.

    Bid the players make haste.
                                                             III, 2, 54.

    Be the players ready.
                                                            III, 2, 111.

    The players cannot keep counsel, they tell all.
                                                            III, 2, 162.

    Will not this--get me a fellowship in a cry of players.
                                                            III, 2, 289.


    Anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing.
                                                             III, 2, 23.

    If he steal aught whilst the play is playing.
                                                             III, 2, 93.


    And prologue to the omen coming on.
                                                              I, 1, 123.

    Is this a prologue or the posy of a ring.
                                                            III, 2, 123.

    Ere I could make a prologue to my brains
    They had begun the play.
                                                               V, 2, 30.


    Will they pursue the quality no longer than they can sing?
                                                             II, 2, 268.

    We’ll have a speech straight, come give us a taste of your quality,
        come a passionate speech.
                                                            III, 2, 451.

In Shakespeare’s time the word was used technically, as applying to the
profession of acting; in this sense the word is now obsolete. “Players,
I love ye and your quality,” is a quotation from Davies’ “Microcosm,”


    Scene individable or poem unlimited.
                                                             II, 2, 418.

    An excellent play well digested in the scenes.
                                                             II, 2, 418.

    Have by the very cunning of the scene.
                                                             II, 2, 619.

    One scene of it comes near the circumstance
    Which I have told thee of my father’s death.
                                                             III, 2, 81.


    Belike this show imports the argument of the play.
                                                            III, 2, 149.

    Will he tell us what this show meant.
                                                            III, 2, 153.

The word show in both these passages refers to the dumb-show which
caused Ophelia to make these remarks. Although in modern slang the word
show is used in connexion with a dramatic entertainment, this meaning
did not exist in Shakespeare’s time: its only meaning in a theatrical
sense, in the sixteenth century was of a spectacular nature, such as
pageants, masques or processions on a large scale.


    These are now the fashion and so berattle the common stages.
                                                             II, 2, 358.

    He would drown the stage with tears.
                                                             II, 2, 588.


    Those who were wont to take such delight in the tragedians of the
                                                             II, 2, 324.


    The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history.
                                                             II, 2, 416.

    For us and for our tragedy.
                                                            III, 2, 159.


    Tragical, historical, tragical comical, historical pastoral.
                                                             II, 2, 417.


    A vice of kings.
    A king of shreds and patches.
                                                            III, IV, 98.

The vice in the old morality was usually of a humourous and malicious
character, deriving his name from the vicious qualities attributed to
him in the old morality plays. His nature was wholly mischievous, and
this trait permeated his entire being. The vice was generally dressed
in a fool’s habit, hence the further reference to a king of shreds
and patches. One of the meanings of patch is a piece of cloth sewed
together, with others of varying shape and size and colour to form
patchwork or adorn a garment. Shakespeare having previously alluded to
the vice or fool, by association of ideas refers in a few lines later
to his many-coloured garment.


    Why did you laugh then, when I said “man delights not me?”


    To think, my lord, if you delight not in man what lenten
    entertainment the players shall receive from you. We coted them on
    the way, and hither are they coming, to offer you service.


    He that plays the king shall be welcome; his Majesty shall have
    tribute of me; the adventurous knight shall use his foil and
    target; the lover shall not sigh gratis; the humourous man shall
    end his part in peace; the clown shall make those laugh whose lungs
    are tickle o’ the sere, and the lady shall say her mind freely, or
    the blank verse shall halt for’t. What players are they?


    Even those you were wont to take such delight in, the tragedians of
    the city.


    How chances it they travel? Their residence, both in reputation and
    profit, was better both ways.


    I think their inhibition comes by the means of the late innovation.


    Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was in the city?
    Are they so followed?


    No, indeed they are not.


    How comes it? Do they grow rusty?


    Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonter place; but there is, sir,
    an eyrie of children, little eyeases, that cry out on the top of
    question and are most tyranically clapped for ’t. These are now the
    fashion, and so berattle the common stages--so they call them--that
    many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose-quills, and dare scarce
    come thither.


    What, are they children? Who maintains ’em? How are they escorted?
    Will they pursue the quality no longer than they can sing? Will
    they not say afterwards, if they should grow themselves to common
    players--as it is most like, if their means are no better, their
    writers do them wrong, to make them exclaim against their own


    Faith, there has been much to do on both sides, and the nation
    holds it no sin to tarre them to controversy; there was for a while
    no money bid for argument unless the poet and the player went to
    cuffs in the question.


    Is’t possible?


    O, there has been much throwing about of brains.


    Do the boys carry it away?


    Ay, that they do, my lord. Hercules and his load, too.

This passage is particularly interesting to Shakesperean students,
introducing as it does one of those veiled allusions to the
contemporary stage, under the cloak of carrying on the ordinary
dialogues of the play. The most unobservant reader will notice that
this conversation in no way furthers the action of the play, and
was simply brought in on a set purpose to interest the spectators
in certain theatrical events of the day. Shakespeare, frequently in
his dramas, refers to topical events which were quite clear to his
audience, but in the course of ages the allusions were forgotten, and
now only have a shadowy existence. A few commentators still squabble
over these so-called references, in most instances failing to see any
contemporary event embedded in the text, while others would discover
contemporary allusions throughout a great majority of the plays. These
topical references must be treated sensibly and logically; the safest
plan is to completely ignore them without ample evidence is forthcoming
of their real existence, otherwise it will surely lead the commentator
into various pitfalls. Weaving imaginary theories out of these
passages, which many editors of the past most delight in, is simplicity
itself, but the modern reader very justly demands conclusive evidence
before giving credence to these wild assumptions. In the above passage
there can hardly exist a doubt that some stage event of the day is here
discussed; the difficulty is to pluck out the heart of the mystery in
the words “inhibition” and “innovation.” Although the scene is laid
in Denmark, every reader will surely understand that Shakespeare is
referring to the stage in London. By the tragedians of the city his
own audience would be quick in detecting a reference to the celebrated
actors of the Globe Theatre, which included the famous Richard Burbage,
the creator of Hamlet and many other leading Shakesperean characters.
In the query “how chances it they travel,” there is a reference to the
custom of the London companies making their provincial tours. These
tours were organized when the London theatres were closed, occurring
chiefly through the raging of the plague, or want of funds necessary
in carrying out a London season, or by some drastic measure imposed
by certain authorities. One fact is certain, every company, whether
successful or unsuccessful, made these regular provincial tours,
evidence of which is abundant, and can be found in the archives of the
principal towns in England.

By Hamlet’s question it would appear that only unsuccessful companies
quitted the Metropolis, but on that point I can offer no satisfactory
answer, except that Shakespeare in this passage was not alluding to the
custom of the theatrical profession of his own times which, I think
most readers will agree with me, is most unlikely.

The next quotation presents even greater difficulties. “I think their
inhibition comes by the means of the late innovation.” To anyone
unacquainted with the theatrical practices of the Elizabethan times,
this passage is altogether meaningless, even those possessing the
requisite knowledge, the exact interpretation can only be dimly
surmised. That there was some definite allusion to some theatrical
event of the day, which the audience clearly understood is certain,
otherwise the passage would have been explained in a further
conversation. Now our duty is to pierce this Cimmerian darkness by
discovering the true history of this inhibition, likewise the origin of
the innovation. The word inhibition refers to the act of inhibiting or
forbidding, a prohibition formally issued by a person or body possessed
of civil authority. Innovation means the action of innovating or the
introduction of novelties. A change made in the nature or fashion of
anything. Something newly introduced, a novel practice or method. Armed
with these dictionary explanations we can now proceed in applying them
to the present passage.

If we might take a liberty with the text and follow Dr. Johnson’s
emendation, we immediately get rid of one of the difficulties. Dr.
Johnson proposed to transpose the order of the words to read: “I
think their innovation comes by the means of the late inhibition.” By
this simple expedient innovation would refer to their new practice of
strolling and the inhibition to the cause of it.

In my opinion this new reading is a most ingenious correction, and if
adopted would remove the difficulty of making Hamlet grasp immediately
the cause of the innovation which was certainly unknown to him. By
explaining innovation as referring to their travelling or strolling,
and inhibition as a command to quit the Metropolis, for some offence,
the answer appears satisfactory and needs no further elucidation.
But this tampering with the text is high treason in the Shakesperean
sense, and other solutions more in conformity with the rules of the
game must be suggested. It is just possible that the word inhibition
is a corruption due to the compositor mishearing the word exhibition,
meaning that the players were exhibiting themselves in the country for
some offence or other.

Theobald, the greatest of all Shakesperean commentators, suggested the
word itineration, clearly indicating that he thought the word was a

The city and local authorities frequently prohibited the actors from
playing in their theatres; sometimes refusing permission on account
of the plague, on other occasions for disturbances caused by the
gathering of a large concourse of people, more often by their prejudice
and utter dislike of all theatrical performances. Any light pretext
was sufficient to order an inhibition. In this particular instance
it is difficult to account for any inhibition by the authorities.
The innovation certainly referred to the competition of the child
performers, although in Shakespeare’s time it was no innovation, the
children having acted for many years previously. The Blackfriars
Theatre was given up to the Children of the Queen’s Revels and the
Children of the Royal Chapel and other boy companies, which the Queen
encouraged not only by her presence at the Blackfriars Theatre but by
allowing them several privileges. The Children of St. Paul’s were also
a rival company, and acted with great applause, several dramatists of
eminence writing plays for them as well as for the Blackfriars brigade.
Hamlet bitterly laments these innovations, for which he has my hearty
approval, the child performer on the stage or in the drawing room being
my _bête noire_. Shakespeare’s sympathies being entirely on behalf of
the men players. Other causes for the closing of the theatres were the
custom of introducing matters of state and religion upon the stage,
for which cause the Admiral and the Strange companies were severely
censured and, no doubt, obliged to retire for a season. Personal abuse
was also rampant, and led to the war of the theatres, a controversy
carried on with much bitterness on all sides. Satirizing living persons
and impersonating their peculiarities was another feature of the stage,
which caused the imprisonment of Nash, the well-known dramatist. Lord
Strange’s company got into a great scrape for playing the deposition
scene in “Richard the Second,” much to the annoyance and anger of the
Queen, at the time of the Essex rebellion. The Queen is reported to
have said, “Know ye not that I am Richard the Second?” For this offence
they were debarred from acting at Court, and also in London. During
their prohibition they acted in the provinces, but it is hardly likely
that Shakespeare would refer to his own company as being in disgrace.
I only cite these instances as showing the theatrical customs of the
day, and incidentally throwing light on the topical allusion in this
passage. Attentive readers of Shakespeare’s works will in course of
their perusal come across several of these tantalizing references,
which are all the more interesting on account of the difficulty in
solving them. Many a passage which runs so smoothly in the modern
text owes its simplicity to the untiring efforts and scholarship of
previous editors. One such editor, the famous Theobald, was a genius
in restoring the true reading out of a mass of corruption in which he
found the text, also in interpreting for later generations out of the
way classical allusions and ancient customs. Some of his restorations
and interpretations can only be considered as inspired, and all
Shakesperean students should revere his memory. Without the aid of
Theobald hundreds of passages would still have remained unintelligible,
and Shakespeare himself owes him a debt of gratitude.


John Stephens, in his _Essays and Characters_, 1615, thus describes
a common player: “Therefore did I prefix an epithet of ‘common’ to
distinguish the base and artlesse appendants of our city companies,
which oftentimes start away into rusticall wanderers and then, like
Proteus, start back again into the citty number.”

                                                                 III, 2.


    Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly
    on the tongue; but if you mouth it, as many of your players do, I
    had as lief the town crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air
    too much, with your hand, thus; but use all gently; for in the very
    torrent, tempest, and as I may say, whirlwind of your passion, you
    must acquire and beget a temperance, that may give it smoothness.
    O, it offends me to the wound to hear a robustious periwig-pated
    fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears
    of the groundlings, who, for the most part, are capable of nothing
    but inexplicable dumb-shows and noise. I would have such a fellow
    whipped for o’erdoing Termagant; it out-herods Herod; pray you,
    avoid it.


    I warrant your honour.


    Be not too tame neither, but let your discretion be your tutor;
    suit the action to the word, the word to the action; with this
    special observance that you o’erstep not the modesty of nature,
    for anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose
    end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as ’twere,
    the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn
    her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and
    pressure. Now this overdone, or come tardy off, though it makes the
    unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the censure
    of the which one must in your allowance o’erweigh a whole theatre
    of others. Oh, there be players that I have seen play, and heard
    others praise, and that highly, not to speak it profanely, that
    neither having the accent of Christians, nor the gait of Christian,
    pagan, nor man, have so strutted and bellowed that I have thought
    some of nature’s journeymen had made men and not made them well,
    they imitated humanity so abominably.


    I hope we have reformed that indifferently with us, sir.


    Oh, reform it altogether. And let those that play your clowns speak
    no more than is set down for them, for there be of them that will
    themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators to
    laugh too, though in the meantime some necessary question of the
    play be then to be considered; that’s villanous, and shows a most
    pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it.

In this passage the whole art of the actor is set down for all time.
Only a practised and enthusiastic actor, who in reality was in love
with his profession, and who saw the educating force and dignity of
his calling, could have drawn up such an ennobling picture of the
responsibility entrusted to the impersonators of the characters,
who embodied the abstract and brief chronicles of the time. Voice,
gesture, deportment, the actor’s indispensable gifts, are all in due
proportion given prominence, nothing is forgotten, so that the mimic
representative shall be as perfect as the exigencies of the stage will

A copy of these rules should be hung up in every theatre of the land,
so that the actor should be impressed with the dignity and elevating
powers of his profession. There be players that I have seen who would
have well profited by reading this passage before setting foot on the
stage. It was not only in Shakespeare’s days that reformation was
needed: how often in our days is a well-written part mangled out of
recognition by the slovenliness and stupidity of the impersonator.
Study this speech, and, if you are in danger of forgetting it, study it
again; it is the very alpha and omega of your great art. Shakespeare’s
motive in assigning this speech to Hamlet may be for the better
instruction of the actor in delivering the dozen or sixteen lines,
which Hamlet inserted in the play of Gonzago’s murder. “But if you
mouth, as many of your players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke
my lines.” Considering that Hamlet was collaborating in the play, which
was to be played before the King and Queen he was naturally interested
in its production. On the other hand, it seems rather presumptuous for
an amateur to dictate to a professional how a play should be acted,
especially in this instance, when Hamlet had already tested the quality
of the actor by hearing his recital of a scene out of Æneas’ tale of
Dido, which he afterwards criticised, eulogising the admirable manner
in which the player had acquitted himself. When witnessed on the stage
these trifling discrepancies pass unnoticed, but in the study, when the
plays are submitted to a microscopical examination, the inexactitudes
make us reflect, and in the cold light of reason accuse Shakespeare of
being a careless writer.



    Dost thou hear me, old friend; can you play the “Murder of Gonzago?”


    Ay, my lord.


    We’ll ha’t to-morrow night. You could, for a need, study a speech
    of some dozen or sixteen lines, which I would set down and insert
    in ’t. Could you not?


    Ay, my lord.

I have read most of the tales of the Italian novelists, but can find
nothing answering to the description of the “Murder of Gonzago.”
Hamlet refers in a later part of the play to the murder having been
committed in Vienna. Gonzago is the duke’s name, his wife’s Baptista.
In the dumb-show Gonzago is the King and Baptista the Queen, but in
the dialogue they are named Duke and Duchess, a trivial oversight, due
either to haste or carelessness; many such slight inaccuracies are
found throughout Shakespeare’s works. The historians of Urbino mention
a Duke of that state married to a Gonzago. Professor Dowden relates
that this Duke was murdered in the same manner as the king in the
dumb-show. He gives no reference for this statement. The Duke referred
to was renowned for the splendour of his Court, also for his patronage
of learning and the fine arts. He married Elizabeth Gonzago, the
beautiful and accomplished daughter of Gonzago, Lord of Mantua. This
Duke of Urbino was created a Knight of the Garter by Edward the Fourth;
he died quite peacefully in 1508. I feel almost positive a story
existed in which the details correspond to the action in the dumb-show.
When Hamlet asks the first actor if he remembers the speech of Æneas’
tale to Dido all the critics thought that Shakespeare had invented
the speech, but afterwards an unfinished play by Marlowe, completed
by Nash, was discovered; it was entitled “Dido, Queen of Carthage.” A
paraphrase of Marlowe’s lines is contained in Shakespeare’s version.
Possibly some day we may discover the original story of the Murder of

    You could for a need study a speech of some dozen
    or sixteen lines.
                                                             II, 2, 560.

    Enter a King and a Queen very lovingly; the Queen embracing him and
    he her. She kneels, and makes show of protestation unto him. He
    takes her up, and declines his head upon her neck; lays him down
    upon a bank of flowers; she, seeing him asleep, leaves him. Anon
    comes in a fellow, takes off his crown, kisses it, and pours poison
    in the King’s ears, and exit. The Queen returns; finds the King
    dead, and makes passionate action. The Poisoner, with some two or
    three Mutes, comes in again, seeming to lament with her. The dead
    body is carried away. The Poisoner wooes the Queen with gifts; she
    seems loath and unwilling awhile, but in the end accepts his love.


    What means this, my lord?


    Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief.


    Belike this show imports the argument of the play?

(_Enter Prologue._)


    We shall know by this fellow; the players cannot keep counsel;
    they’ll tell all.


    Will he tell us what this show meant?


    Ay, or any show that you’ll show him; be not you ashamed to show,
    he’ll not shame to tell you what it means.


    You are naught, you are naught; I’ll mark the play.


    For, us and for our tragedy
      Here stooping to your clemency,
    We beg your hearing patiently.


    Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring?


    ’Tis brief, my lord.


    As woman’s love.

(_Enter two Players, King and Queen._)


    Full thirty times hath Phœbus’ cart gone round
    Neptune’s salt wash and Tellus’ orbed ground,
    And thirty dozen moons with borrow’d sheen
    About the world have times twelve thirties been,
    Since love our hearts and Hymen did our hands
    Unite commutual in most sacred bands.


    So many journeys may the sun and moon
    Make us again count o’er ere love be done!
    But, woe is me! you are so sick of late,
    So far from cheer and from your former state,
    That I distrust you. Yet, though I distrust,
    Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must;
    For women’s fear and love holds quantity
    In neither aught, or in extremity.
    Now, what my love is, proof hath made you know,
    And as my love is sized, my fear is so;
    Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear,
    Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.


    Faith, I must leave thee, love, and shortly too;
    My operant powers their functions leave to do;
    And thou shalt live in this fair world behind,
    Honour’d, beloved; and haply one as king
    For husband shalt thou ----.


                      Oh, confound the rest!
    Such love must needs be treason in my breast;
    In second husband let me be accurst!
    None wed the second but who kill’d the first.

HAM (_Aside_).

    Wormwood, wormwood!


    The instances that second marriage move
    Are base respects of thrift, but none of love;
    A second time I kill my husband dead,
    Then second husband kisses me in bed.


    I do believe you think what now you speak,
    But what we do determine oft we break.
    Purpose is but the slave to memory,
    Of violent birth but poor validity;
    Which now, like fruit unripe, sticks on the tree,
    But fall unshaken when they mellow be.
    Most necessary ’tis that we forget
    To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt;
    What to ourselves in passion we propose,
    The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.
    The violence of either grief or joy
    Their own enactures with themselves destroy;
    Where joy most revels grief doth most lament;
    Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident.
    This world is not for aye, nor ’tis not strange
    That even our loves should with our fortunes change
    For ’tis a question left us yet to prove,
    Whether love lead fortune or else fortune love.
    The great man down, you mark his favourite flies;
    The poor advanced makes friends of enemies;
    And hitherto doth love on fortune tend;
    For who not needs shall never lack a friend;
    And who in want a hollow friend doth try
    Directly seasons him his enemy.
    But, orderly to end where I begun,
    Our wills and fates do so contrary run
    That our devices still are overthrown,
    Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own;
    So think thou wilt no second husband wed,
    But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.

    P. QUEEN.

    Nor earth to me give food nor heaven light!
    Sport and repose lock from me day and night!
    To desperation turn my trust and hope!
    An anchor’s cheer in prison be my scope!
    Each opposite, that blanks the face of joy,
    Meet what I would have well and it destroy!
    Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife,
    If, once a widow, ever I be wife!


    If she should break it now!

    P. KING.

    ’Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here awhile;
    My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile
    The tedious day with sleep.

    P. QUEEN.

                    Sleep rock thy brain;
    And never come mischance between us twain!



    Madam, how like you this play?


    The lady doth protest too much, methinks.


    O, but she’ll keep her word.


    Have you heard the argument? Is there no offence in ’t?


    No, no; they do but jest, poison in jest; no offence the world.


    What do you call the play?


    The Mouse-trap. Marry, how? Tropically. This play is the image of
    a murder done in Vienna; Gonzago is the duke’s name; his wife’s,
    Baptista: You shall see anon; ’tis a knavish piece of work; but
    what o’ that? your majesty, and we that have free souls, it touches
    us not; let the galled jade wince, our withers are unwrung.

(_Enter Player, as Lucianus._)

(_This is one Lucianus, nephew to the king._)


    You are as good as a chorus, my lord.


    Begin, murderer: pox, leave thy damnable faces and begin. Come: the
    croaking raven doth bellow for revenge.


    Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time agreeing;
    Confederate season, else no creature seeing;
    Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected,
    With Hecate’s ban thrice blasted, thrice infected,
    Thy natural magic and dire property,
    On wholesome life usurp immediately.

(_Pours the poison into the Sleeper’s ears._)


    He poisons him i’ the garden for ’s estate. His name’s Gonzago; the
    story is extant, and written in very choice Italian; you shall see
    anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago’s wife.


    The king rises!


    What, frighted with false fire!


    How fares my lord?


    Give o’er the play.


    Give me some light.--Away!


    Lights, lights, lights!

The question arises: were the lines which Hamlet proposed to write
inserted in the play, and if so, can they be identified. Professor
Seeley and others would fix on the lines commencing the player King’s
speech: “I do believe you think what now you speak” (III, 2, 196),
until “Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own” (III, 2,
223). The sentiments contained in these verses are, for the most part,
trite aphorisms in no way affecting the murder scene, and can on that
account be entirely rejected. The speech of Lucianus, commencing
“Thoughts black” (III, 2, 266), are certainly more apt for the
occasion, and had the desired effect of alarming the King. Had these
lines numbered sixteen instead of six there would have been greater
plausibility in assigning them to Hamlet. The intention was that these
lines should have a direct bearing upon the play, and form an integral
part of the whole, therefore these verses must also be dismissed. We
can only surmise that Shakespeare intended the audience to believe
that he in some measure revised a scene in the “Murder of Gonzago” to
suit the present circumstances, which would avoid the improbability
that a play existed which in every respect resembled Claudius’ crime.
An attempt in picking out the actual lines is mere sophistication, and
a profitless and useless discussion. In introducing a play within a
play, Shakespeare endeavours to beguile the audience to believe in the
reality of the play and in the artificiality of the play scene; for
this purpose he employs rhyme couplets instead of the ordinary dialogue
and blank verse. The style of the interlude is further mocked by the
forced conceits and bombastic nature of the language. Note further the
liberal use of classical names in the first few lines. One must admire
Shakespeare’s resourcefulness in these small matters, and even greater
contrast is shown in the recitation scene, which approves his act and

ACT II. SCENE II. Line 447-569.

(_Enter four or five players._)

    You are welcome, masters! welcome all. I am glad to see thee
    well: welcome, good friends.--O, my old friends! Why, thy face
    is valanced since I saw thee last; comest thou to beard me in
    Denmark?--What, my young lady and mistress! By’r lady, your
    ladyship is nearer to heaven than when I saw you last, by the
    altitude of a chopine. Pray God, your voice, like a piece of
    uncurrent gold, be not cracked within the ring.--Masters, you
    are all welcome. We’ll e’en to ’t like French falconers, fly at
    anything we see: We’ll have a speech straight; come, give us a
    taste of your quality; come, a passionate speech.


    What speech, my good lord?


    I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it was never acted; or, if
    it was, not above once; for the play, I remember, pleased not the
    million; ’twas caviare to the general; but it was--as I received
    it, and others, whose judgments in such matters cried on the top
    of mine--an excellent play, well digested in the scenes, set down
    with as much modesty as cunning. I remember, one said there were no
    sallets in the lines to make the matter savoury, nor no matter in
    the phrase that might indict the author of affection; but called
    it an honest method, as wholesome as sweet, and by very much more
    handsome than fine. One speech in it I chiefly loved; ’twas Æneas’
    tale to Dido; and thereabout of it especially, where he speaks of
    Priam’s slaughter. If it live in your memory, begin at this line;
    let me see, let me see:


    The rugged Pyrrhus, like th’ Hyrcanian beast,--’tis not so, it
        begins with Pyrrhus:
    The rugged Pyrrhus,--he whose sable arms,
    Black as his purpose, did the night resemble
    When he lay couched in the ominous horse,--
    Hath now this dread and black complexion smear’d
    With heraldry more dismal; head to foot
    Now is he total gules; horridly trick’d
    With Blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,
    Baked and impasted with the parching streets,
    That lend a tyrannous and damned light
    To their lords’ murder, roasted in wrath and fire,
    And thus o’er sized with coagulate gore,
    With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus
    Old grandsire Priam seeks.
    So, proceed you.


    ’Fore God, my lord, well spoken, with good accent and good


                    Anon he finds him
    Striking too short at Greeks; his antique sword,
    Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls,
    Repugnant to command; unequal match’d
    Pyrrhus at Priam drives; in rage strikes wide;
    but with the whiff and wind of his fell sword
    The unnerved father falls. Then senseless Ilium,
    Seeming to feel this blow, with flaming top
    Stoops to his base, and with a hideous crash
    Takes prisoner Pyrrhus’ ear; for, lo! his sword
    Which was declining on the milky head
    Of reverend Priam, seem’d i’ the air to stick;
    So, as a painted tyrant, Pyrrhus stood,
    And like a neutral to his will and matter,
    Did nothing.
    But, as we often see, against some storm
    A silence in the heavens, the rack stand still,
    The bold wind speechless and the orb below
    As hush as death, anon the dreadful thunder
    Doth rend the region; so, after Pyrrhus’ pause,
    Aroused vengeance sets him new a-work;
    And never did the Cyclops’ hammers fall
    On Mars’ armour, forged for proof eterne,
    With less remorse than Pyrrhus’ bleeding sword
    Now falls on Priam.
    Out, out, thou strumpet, Fortune! All you gods,
    In general synod take away her power;
    Break all the spokes and fellies from her wheel,
    And bowl the round nave down the hill of heaven
    As low as to the fiends!


    This is too long.


    It shall to the barber’s, with your beard--Prithee, say on; he’s
    for a jig or a tale of bawdry, or he sleeps: say on; come to Hecuba.


    But who, O, who had seen the mobled queen ----.


    “The mobled queen?”


    That’s good; “mobled queen” is good.


    Run barefoot up and down, threatening the flames
    With bisson rheum; a clout upon that head
    Where late the diadem stood; and for a robe,
    About her lank and all o’er-teemed loins,
    A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up;
    Who this had seen, with tongue in venom steep’d,
    ’Gainst Fortune’s state would treason have pronounced:
    But if the gods themselves did see her then,
    When she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport
    In mincing with his sword her husband’s limbs,
    The instant burst of clamour that she made,--
    Unless things mortal move them not at all,--
    Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven
    And passion in the gods.


    Look, whether he has not turned his colour and his tears in’s eyes.
    Prithee, no more.


    ’Tis well; I’ll have thee speak out the rest of this soon.--Good,
    my lord, will you see the players well bestowed? Do you hear, let
    them be well used, for they are the abstracts and brief chronicles
    of the time; after your death you were better have a bad epitaph
    than their ill report while you live.


    My lord, I will use them according to their desert.


    God’s bodykins, man, much better! Use every man after his desert,
    and who should ’scape whipping? Use them after your own honour and
    dignity; the less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.
    Take them in.


    Come, sirs.
                                                             II, 2, 468.


                           Tragedie of Dido
                         _Queene of Carthage_:

                     Played by the Children of her
                         _Maiesties Chappell_.

                  Written by Christopher Marlowe, and
                         _Thomas Nash. Gent_.




                              AT LONDON,

     Printed, by the Widdowe _Orwin_, for _Thomas Woodcocke_, and
        are to be solde at his shop, in Paules Church-yeard, at
                the signe of the blacke Beare. +1594.+

    _Æn._ My mother _Venus_ iealous of my health,
    Conuaid me from their crooked acts and bands:
    So I escapt the furious _Pirrhus_ wrath:
    Who then ran to the pallace of the King,
    And at _Ioues_ Altar finding _Priamus_,


The Tragedie of Dido.

    About whose withered necke hung _Hecuba_,
    Foulding his hand in hers, and ioyntly both
    Beating their breasts and falling on the ground,
    He with his faulchions poynt raisde vp at once,
    And with _Megeras_ eyes flared in their face,
    Threatning a thousand deaths at euery glaunce.
    To whom the aged King thus trembling spoke:
    _Achilles_ sonne, remember what I was,
    Father of fiftie sonnes, but they are slaine,
    Lord of my fortune, but my fortunes turnd,
    King of this Citie, but my _Troy_ is fired,
    And now am neither father, Lord, nor King:
    Yet who so wretched but desires to liue?
    O let me liue, great _Neoptolemus_,
    Not mou’d at all, but smiling at his teares,
    This butcher whil’st his hands were yet held vp,
    Treading vpon his breast, strooke off his hands.

    _Dido._ O end _Æneas_, I can heare no more.

    _Æn._ At which the franticke Queene leapt on his face,
    And in his eyelids hanging by the nayles,
    A little while prolong’d her husbands life:
    At last the souldiers puld her by the heeles,
    And swong her howling in the emptie ayre,
    Which sent an eccho to the wounded King:
    Whereat he lifted vp his bedred lims,
    And would haue grappeld with _Achilles_ sonne,
    Forgetting both his want of strength and hands,
    Which he disdaining whiskt his sword about,
    And with the wound thereof the King fell downe:
    Then from the nauell to the throat at once,
    He ript old _Priam_: at whose latter gaspe
    _Ioues_ marble statue gan to bend the brow,
    As lothing _Pirrhus_ for this wicked act:
    Yet he vndaunted tooke his fathers flagge,
    And dipt it in the old Kings chill cold bloud,
    And then in triumph ran into the streetes,
    Through which he could not passe for slaughtred men:
    So leaning on his sword he stood stone still,
    Viewing the fire wherewith rich _Ilion_ burnt.
    By this I got my father on my backe,
    This yong boy in mine armes, and by the hand
    Led faire _Creusa_ my beloued wife,
    When thou _Achates_ with thy sword mad’st way,
    And we were round inuiron’d with the Greekes:
    O there I lost my wife: and had not we
    Fought manfully, I had not told this tale:
    Yet manhood would not serue, of force we fled,
    And as we went vnto our ships, thou knowest
    We sawe _Cassandra_ sprauling in the streetes,
    Whom _Aiax_ rauisht in _Dianas_ Fawne,
    Her cheekes swolne with sighes, her haire all rent,
    Whom I tooke vp to beare vnto our ships;
    But suddenly the Grecians followed vs,
    And I alas, was forst to let her lye.
    Then got we to our ships, and being abourd,
    _Polixena_ cryed out, _Æneas_ stay,
    The Greekes pursue me, stay and take me in.
    Moued with her voyce, I lept into the sea,
    Thinking to beare her on my backe abourd:
    For all our ships were launcht into the deepe,
    And as I swomme, she standing on the shoare,
    Was by the cruell Mirmidons surprizd,
    And after by that _Pirrhus_ sacrifizde.

    _Dido._ I dye with melting ruth, _Æneas_ leaue.

    _Anna._ O what became of aged _Hecuba_?

    _Iar._ How got _Æneas_ to the fleete againe?

    _Dido._ But how scapt _Helen_, she that causde this warre?

    _Æn._ _Achates_ speake, sorrow hath tired me quite.

    _Acha._ What happened to the Queene we cannot shewe,
    We heare they led her captiue into Greece,
    As for _Æneas_ he swomme quickly backe,
    And _Helena_ betraied _Düphobus_
    Her Louer, after _Alexander_ dyed,
    And so was reconcil’d to _Menelaus_.


Shakespeare, through the person of Hamlet, shows his entire sympathy
and love for all things dramatic. Directly the players enter he
heartily welcomes them, throws off for a time all thoughts of
melancholy, and appears in his true character as a noble prince,
scholar and gentleman. Evidently Hamlet had not seen these players
for a long time; for what cause he had abstained from the theatre he
does not state. In the interval the chief actor had grown old, and was
bearded. The young lady alluded to is the boy actor who had grown at
least many inches since Hamlet last saw him; in fact, by the altitude
of chopine, this last object was a kind of heel attached to a shoe or
boot, measuring a good height, sometimes as much as eighteen inches.
The ladies of Venice were chiefly addicted to this fashion at the end
of the sixteenth century, being much ridiculed for so doing, perhaps
to the same extent as the ladies of our period when the hobbled skirt
was introduced. The fashion of wearing a chopine did not extend as far
as this country, although Walter Scott introduces the custom in his
novel of the _Fortunes of Nigel_. The allusion to the lady’s voice
being cracked within the ring, refers to the boy changing his voice
from the boy to the young man’s stage. There was a ring on the coin of
the realm within which the sovereign’s head was placed; if the crack
extended from the edge beyond the ring, the coin was rendered unfit for

“One speech in it I chiefly loved, ’twas Æneas’ tale to Dido.” Should
we consider this play which Shakespeare so admirably criticises as an
imaginary composition or one by a living author? I think, after reading
Marlowe and Nash’s drama, entitled, “Dido, Queen of Carthage,” there
can exist no doubt that Shakespeare was criticising this play, and he
certainly moulded the piece he chose for recitation on this production.
If any conclusion can be drawn from this piece of criticism, one
conclusion is certain, that Shakespeare himself admired the classical
drama, and if he had composed plays only for the study they would have
been written more in conformity with classical methods. Having a mixed
audience he was obliged to flavour his plays with savoury matter, what
we should call spicy bits, for seeking the suffrage of the groundlings,
and on some occasions treated these matters in no very delicate way
according to our present notions. Shakespeare used the big brush, and
laid it on pretty thick, proving the truth of Pope’s couplet:

    “For gain, not glory, winged his wordy flight
    And grew immortal in his own despite.”

Many critics have taken this speech as being ironical, or a burlesque
on the old play, but there would have been no point in making Hamlet
praise the piece so extravagantly. I think the critics who favour this
theory may this time be dismissed with a caution, but should they
offend in the same manner again they will be hardly dealt with. I
regret seeing Professor Gollancz’s name in the list.

Shakespeare refers to the actors as the abstract and brief chronicles
of the time. The Shakesperean canon comprises thirty-seven plays,
not one of which, with the single exception of “The Merry Wives of
Windsor,” deals with contemporary events, therefore, by his own
confession, we owe Shakespeare little for pourtraying the chronicles
of the time. Had Shakespeare strictly adhered to the laws of the drama
this censure might have more force, but in all the plays, whether
Roman, English of bygone centuries, or Italian, characters and scenes
are laid before our admiring eyes, bearing always a substratum of pure
contemporary English manners, for which we must be ever thankful.

The same might be said of all the Elizabethan dramatists with but few
exceptions. Perhaps Shakespeare was looking ahead, prophesying the time
when the playwright would record the events of his day, as in our own
time the happenings of the hour are fully recorded, vindicating the
phrase voiced by the poet as “holding the mirror up to nature”:

    That guilty creatures, sitting at a play,
    Have by the very cunning of the scene
    Been struck so to the soul that presently
    They have proclaimed their malefactions.

    I’ll have these players
    Play something like the murder of my father
    Before mine uncle.
                    The play’s the thing
    Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.
                                                             II, 2, 617.

In hearing or reading this speech, the spectator or reader would
naturally conclude that this was Hamlet’s first conception of the plot,
in which he sought to prove by a mock performance of the murder the
guilt or innocence of the king, yet a few minutes previously Hamlet
had already conceived the idea of the play scene. Is this another sign
of carelessness, or is Hamlet visualizing the effects of his scheme?
Hunter, a Shakesperean commentator, would read “About ’t my brains,”
that is, set about composing the lines which the players were to add
to “The Murder of Gonzago,” he would also delete the word “hum.” By
omitting the interjection he maintains that it makes prospective what
is evidently retrospective. I contend that it does nothing of the sort,
and the natural inference is, that the poet forgot that he had already
invented the stratagem by which he intends catching the conscience of
the king. Many instances occur in literature, whereas by means of a
play representing a murder, the actual wrong-doer has confessed his
crime, and been brought to justice. Such a scene is found in “A Warning
to Fair Women,” a play acted by the Chamberlain’s company and printed
in 1599. The play is founded on a celebrated murder case which took
place in Lynn in Norfolk, in 1573.


    Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers--if the rest of my
    fortunes turn Turk with me--with two Provincial roses on my razed
    shoes, get me a fellowship in a cry of players, sir?


    Half a share.


    A whole one I.
                                                            III, 2, 286.

The difficulties of determining the precise value of a share in a
theatre are manifold. The value of money in those days does not
correspond in any degree to that of to-day. The purchasing power of a
sovereign being from seven to ten times greater now than at the end
of the sixteenth century. With the exception of corn, which in normal
times was about the same price as to-day, all food was ridiculously
cheap compared with our present-day prices, so that anyone with an
income of, say, three to four hundred pounds a year would be regarded
as a rich man. Respecting the present passage, Horatio considers half
a share a fair remuneration for a deserving actor. The shares in the
Globe Theatre were divided into sixteen parts; out of this number
Shakespeare possessed at one time in his life two whole shares, which,
it is computed, brought him in £200 a year for each share, quite
a goodly income. Shakespeare seems to have parted with his shares
before his death, as in his will he makes no mention of them. The
technical name for the proprietors of the theatre or shareholders was
house-keepers; the word has now become obsolete. I cannot find the word
in the New English Dictionary, an omission which I consider almost a



    My lord, you played once i’ the university, you say?


    That did I, my lord, and was accounted a good actor.


    And what did you enact.


    I did enact Julius Cæsar.
    Brutus killed me.


    It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf there.

An entire volume of 400 closely printed pages, gives a detailed history
of plays produced at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The
list includes both classical and early English comedies and tragedies;
this interesting volume has been written in a masterly and scientific
manner, and treated in a most fascinating way rarely met with in
this kind of literature. Professor Boas has thoroughly exhausted the
subject, and his book can be commended to all Shakesperean students.
Plays were acted at both Universities in quite mediæval times, becoming
a regular institution in the reign of Henry VIII. The ancient Greek
dramatists were presented either in the original Greek or in Latin
translations. The first comedy written in the vernacular is called “A
right pithy and pleasant and merry comedy, Intitled

      Gammer Gurton’s Needle
    Played on stage not long ago in
    Christ’s College in Cambridge
    Made by Mr. S. Mr. of Arts.”

The plays produced at Oxford and Cambridge were of a private character,
each college paying its own expenses for the entertainment. In later
years, assuming more of a public character, and finally magnificent
dramatic entertainments were given before the sovereign and courtiers.
The college authorities were lavish in their expenditure according
to their means, but in no way rivalled the splendour of the Court
productions. Queen Elizabeth honoured Cambridge with a visit in 1564,
and a great dramatic exhibition was held in her honour. The performance
took place at King’s College, and a great stage was erected in the
College Hall; this being found too small, another was built up in the
Chapel. A chair of State was placed on the stage for the Queen. In
the Rood Loft another platform was placed for Ladies and Gentlemen,
and still another under the Rood Loft was placed for the officials of
the Court. The scholars on this occasion were not admitted. The Queen
arrived on Saturday and took up her lodgings at King’s Lodge, and on
the following evening, which was Sunday, a play was given. The Chapel
was lighted by torches, which were held by the Guards. The play chosen
was the “Aulularia of Plautus,” being acted by the students of the
different colleges.


                             RETVRNE FROM


                        The Scourge of Simony.

                  _Publiquely acted by the Students_
                      in Saint Iohns Colledge in


                               AT LONDON

              Printed by _G. Eld_, for _Iohn Wright_, and
                    are to bee sold at his shop at
                          Christchurch Gate.

The Shakesperean student will remember Polonius’ description of the
literature of the drama. “Seneca is not too heavy or Plautus too
light.” The next night another play was performed by the men of
King’s College, who were responsible for the entertainment. The play
represented was a tragedy, “Dido,” written by Edward Halwell, formerly
a fellow of the College. The third night a play by Nicholas Udal, the
author of the famous comedy, “Ralph Roister Doister,” was presented
before the Queen. The play given on this occasion was a biblical one
named “Ezechias,” performed by the King’s College scholars. All these
plays were great successes. Another play was to have been performed the
next night, but the Queen being so fatigued after visiting the colleges
and hearing the deputations, sent messages of regret and excuse, much
to the sorrow of the whole University.

Two years later, in 1566, the Queen visited the famous University town
of Oxford, and stayed there a whole week. The stage for the nonce was
erected at the west end of the Christ Church Hall, that being very
convenient for the Queen, as her lodging was at the College. The Earl
of Leicester, as Chancellor of Oxford University, received her in state.

The first performance was given on Sunday evening; although the Queen
kept her apartment, and was not present, the play was acted before the
Spanish Ambassador and the Court. On Monday evening the Queen attended;
unfortunately, the performance was marred by a serious accident,
caused by a wall giving way through the pressure of the crowd, and
killing three persons, including one of the students. The play acted
was “Palamon and Arcyte,” written in two parts, by Richard Edwards,
the master of the Children of the Chapel; the second part was given on
another evening. The play is founded on the Knight’s Tale in Chaucer,
the same source as “The Two Noble Kinsmen,” part of which play has
been attributed to Shakespeare, his name appearing on the title page
in conjunction with Fletcher. I once possessed a copy of the first and
only edition of the quarto, 1634, formerly belonging to Marshall, the
Shakesperean editor and commentator.

A Latin play, acted on the following evening, closed the dramatic
performances. A list of players who acted in these college state
exhibitions is extant.

Reynolds, who was one of the actors, in after years became the greatest
and bitterest opponent of the University stage plays. He states that
he played the part of Hippolyta at Christ Church on the occasion of
the Queen’s visit. The Queen left Oxford with many thanks to the whole
University and repeated fond farewells to her dear scholars. The amount
of the expenses connected with these plays totalled the goodly sum of
£150, a large amount of money in those days.



                       A Pastorall Trage-comedie
                    _presented to her Maiestie and_
                   her Ladies, by the Vniuersitie of
                      _Oxford in Christs Church_,
                            in August last.


                               AT LONDON
              Printed by _G. Eld_, for _Simon Waterson_,

At Oxford the chief dramatic centres were Christ Church, Magdalen, St.
John’s, and in a lesser degree Merton; performances were also held
at Trinity, Exeter and elsewhere. At Cambridge the dramatic fare was
more widely distributed, Trinity, King’s, St. John’s, Queens’, Jesus’,
Christ, and Clare Hall all presenting plays on frequent occasions.
In spite of the fact that the spurious quarto edition of “Hamlet,”
dated 1603, states that the play was acted at the Universities of
Cambridge and Oxford, no record exists of any such performance being
given. Possibly the play was acted in the town at a public place
of entertainment. The University authorities were dead against the
professional actors, and persecuted them in a like manner as did
the Lord Mayor of London and the Corporation. As early as 1575 both
Universities issued proclamations that stage plays should not be
exhibited at Oxford or Cambridge, or within five miles of either of
those towns.

The first notice is interesting on account of the mention of the Earl
of Leicester’s players, who was patron and protector of a company of
professional actors.

“Paid to the actors of the Earl of Leicester to depart with their
plays without further troubling the University XX shillings.” This
order was issued in 1587, and if Shakespeare was a member of the
company at the time, which is generally supposed, his first appearance
at Oxford was by no means a happy one, as he was paid to go away.
Many similar payments are recorded in each year, until the death of
Elizabeth, and even afterwards, sufficient proof that the title page
must not be implicitly relied upon, and we must abandon the idea
that Shakespeare’s masterpiece was acted before the Master Dons and
students of the University Halls. The same restrictions were observed
at Cambridge, and the professional players were banned acting even at
the outlying village of Chesterton. The censorship remains in the power
of the Universities in our own time; the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford has
prohibited the production of “Hindle Wakes,” a most powerful play,
which the authorities should have encouraged instead of censored.




    Shall we have a play extempore?
    Content; and the argument shall be thy running away.
                                                            II, IV, 310.

In Europe, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a play
extempore was a usual form of entertainment, and was deservedly
extremely popular. In this country this nimble art never took root,
and was purely known as an exotic of an Italian growth. From mere
buffoonery the “commedia dell’ arte” or “all improvviso,” as it was
indifferently named, developed into true comedy, and many of the
situations were in later times used by Molière, the grand Comique,
in the literary, as well as in its histrionic sense. The Commedia
dell’ arte was a species of comedy in which the actors themselves
provided the dialogue. The plot or different situations were rehearsed
beforehand, but the words were entirely spontaneous. Naturally, under
such circumstances, the plays were acted with more fire of action,
truthfulness of gesture and deportment than if they had been written by
another and learnt by heart. Evidently such a method had its drawbacks,
the characters became types, the audience knowing beforehand by
constant repetition the nature of the performance. There were several
well known types, the most popular being Harlequin, Pantaloon, the
swaggering Captain, and others. Ben Jonson’s Captain Bobadil must have
been modelled on this personage. The comic personages were Sgnarelle,
Scaramouche, and the valets and soubrettes of Molière’s comedies.


For I must speak in passion, and I will do it in King Cambyses’ vein.
And here is my speech:

    Weep not, sweet Queen, for trickling tears are vain,
    For God’s sake, lords, convey my trustful Queen;
    For tears do stop the floodgates of her eyes.
                                                            II, IV, 445.

This is in reference to a well-known play, entitled “A Lamentable
Tragedie, mixed full of Pleasant Mirth, containing the Life of
Cambises, King of Persia,” by Thomas Preston, Fellow of King’s College,
Cambridge. The printed play is without date, being written and acted
at Court about 1570, and perhaps published the same year. The story
is taken from an episode in the life of Cambyses, King of Persia,
as related by Herodotus. The play was often parodied and held up to
ridicule by Elizabethan dramatists, chiefly on account of the maudlin
style of the King when in liquor. The putting to death of the Queen
was also made fun of. “Weep not, sweet Queen,” may be an allusion to a
scene in this play, where we read as a stage direction, “At this tale
let the Queen weep.”


    These words to hear make stilling tears
    Issue from crystal eyes.


    What dost thou mean, my spouse, to weep
    For loss of any prize.

Shakespeare must have seen or read the play when published. Another
allusion will be found in “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” where there seems
to lurk a parody of the title page of Preston’s book, “A Lamentable
Tragedy mixed full of Pleasant Mirth.”

In Shakespeare’s play there is mention of a tedious brief scene of
young Pyramus and his love, Thisbe; very tragical mirth. Merry and
tragical, tedious and brief, Cambyses’ vein has become proverbial for
rant, chiefly in connexion with the stage.


    I’ll play Percy and that damned brawn shall play Dame Mortimer and
        his wife.
                                                             II, 4, 122.

    Dost thou speak like a king? Do thou stand forth for me and I’ll
        play my father.
                                                             II, 4, 477.

    Play out the play.
                                                            II, IV, 482.


    He doth it as like one of these harlotry players as ever I see.
                                                             II, 4, 437.


    That reverend vice, that grey iniquity, that father ruffian, that
        vanity in years.
                                                             II, 4, 452.

In the old Morality plays, Iniquity was one of the vices, and generally
played by a clown. In Marston’s “Histriomastix,” a stage direction
adds, “Enter a roaring Devil with the Vice on its back. Iniquity in
one hand and Juventus in the other.” “I’ll marry you to Lady Vanity,”
another of the seven deadly sins, occurs in Marlowe’s “Jew of Malta.”


    At my nativity
    The front of heavy was full of fiery shapes of burning cressets.
                                                             III, 1, 15.

A vessel of iron or the like made to hold grease or oil, or in an iron
basket to hold pitched rope, wood or coal, to be burnt for light.
Cotgrave, in his French and English Dictionary, 1611, describes
them under the word “falot,” a cresset light, such as they use in



    I was then Sir Dagonet in Arthur’s show.
                                                            III, 1, 300.

Apart from dramatic performances, there existed in Shakespeare’s time
several societies, which occasionally presented spectacular shows
elaborately prepared, in order to amuse a number of spectators. These
were sometimes held at the Court, and were generally of the nature
of dumb-shows or masques, or formed a kind of pageant. These shows
originated from the guilds of mediæval times, in which the craftsmen
of the different companies gave an entertainment in the streets of
important towns on Corpus Christi and other festival days.

In this particular show, Sir Dagonet is Arthur’s fool in the story of
Trestam de Lyonesse. Arthur’s show was an exhibition of archery by a
society of 58 members, which styled itself “The Auncient Order Society,
and Unitie laudable of Prince Arthur and his Knights Armory of the
Round Table,” and took the names of the knights of old romance. The
meeting of the society was held at Mile End Green.


    And let this world no longer be a stage
    To feed contention in a lingering act.
    The rude scene may end.
                                                              I, 1, 156.


    For all my reign hath been but as a scene
      Acting that argument.
                                                             IV, 5, 199.


    I was lately here in the end of a displeasing play, to
    pray your patience for it, and to promise you a better.
                                                    _Epilogue, line 10._


    Thou art as valorous as Hector of Troy, and ten times better than
        the Nine Worthies.
                                                             II, 4, 239.


    And now is this Vice’s dagger become a squire.
                                                            III, 2, 343.



All modern editions head this opening scene as “Prologue. Enter
Chorus.” The First Folio omits the word chorus. In the four subsequent
acts, “enter chorus” is used.


    Admit me Chorus to this history.

In ancient Greek plays the chorus consisted of several performers, but
in Shakespeare’s time the number is reduced to a single personage, who
enters before the beginning of a play and explains or comments upon
different events which are to follow in course of the narrative. In
reality, he serves the same purpose as the speaker of the prologue.
In other passages the word is used as synonymous with prologue, but
in this quotation the word bears the original meaning as applied to
Attic tragedy, in which the chorus, chanting the choral odes, passed
in review the episodes which had taken place upon the stage, and also
prepared the audience for scenes which were to follow. The tragic
chorus of a Greek play numbered fifteen members, who entered the
orchestra (dancing place) three abreast. Between the acts they recited
choral odes, accompanied by a dance movement. In the dialogue between
the chorus and the actors, only the coryphæus, the leader of the
chorus, acted as spokesman.


    Therefore I say ’tis meet we all go forth
    To view the sick and feeble parts of France,
    And let us do it with no show of fear;
    No, with no more than if we heard that England
    Were busied with a Whitsun Morris Dance.
                                                              II, 4, 25.

The Morris Dance was a popular element in the village May games, and,
although with no literary associations, it may claim equal popularity
with the dumb-shows and motion plays of the sixteenth century. A
painted window at Betley, in Staffordshire, has a representation of
these village dances, which include six Morris dancers, with a Maypole,
a musician, a fool, a crowned man on a hobby horse, a crowned lady with
a flower in her hand, and a friar. This window dates from the reign
of Edward III. Sometimes, included amongst the dancers, was a dragon,
and, no doubt, the rider of the hobby-horse personated St. George. A
reference to the hobby-horse occurs in “Hamlet,” where Hamlet exclaims,
“O for the hobby-horse is forgot,” referring to the omission of that
living property from the show, which was fast becoming obsolete at the
end of the sixteenth century. The Morris Dance proper consisted of six
personages, each dancer wearing a broad garter below the knee. There
are two sets of figures: in one handkerchiefs are carried, in the other
short staves are swung and clashed. Sometimes the dancers sing to the
air of an old country dance. There is always a fool, who carries a
stick with a bladder and a cow’s tail. The music is that of a pipe and
tabor, played by one man. The name is a corruption of “Moorish,” and is
immediately derived from the Flemish “morriske dans.” The reason for
this name is that the performers blacked their faces, but whether they
derived the name because of their Moorish appearance or dressed up to
represent Moors is undecided.


    Now we speak upon our cue. And our voice is imperial.


    A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
    And monarchs to behold the swelling scene.
                                                     _Prologue, line 3._


    Gently to hear, kindly to judge our play.
                                                    _Prologue, line 34._

    Linger your patience on, and we’ll digest
    The abuse of distance; force a play.
                                               _Prologue_ II, _line 32._

    For if we may, we’ll not offend one stomach with our play.
                                               _Prologue_ II, _line 40._

    Bardolph and Nym had ten times more valour than this roaring devil
    i’ the old play, that every one may pare his nails with a wooden
                                                              IV, 4, 73.

The devil was supposed to keep his nails unpared from choice, and
therefore to pare them was considered an insult. The character of the
“Devil” was a feature from the old Miracle and Morality plays.

    Edward the Black Prince
    Who on French ground play’d a tragedy.
                                                              I, 2, 106.


    There is the playhouse now, there must you sit.
                                               _Prologue_ II, _line 36._



    Prologue, like your humble patience pray.
                                                _Prologue_ I, _line 33._


    The scene
    Is now transported, gentles,
    To Southampton.
                                                      _Prologue_ II, 34.

    Unto Southampton do we shift our scene.
                                                   _Prologue_ II, _line_

    Thus with imagined wing our swift scene flies
    In motion of no less celerity
    Than that of thought.
                                                _Prologue_ II, _line 1._

    And so our scene must to the battle fly.
                                               _Prologue_ IV, _line 48._


    A kingdom for a stage.
                                                 _Prologue_ I, _line 3._

    Which oft our stage hath shown.
                                                  _Epilogue_, _line 13._


    Vouchsafe to those that have not read the story
    That I may prompt them.
                                                 _Prologue_ V, _line 2._


    O, for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
    The brightest heaven of invention;
    A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
    And monarchs to behold the swelling scene,
    Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
    Assume the part of Mars; and at his heels,
    Leashed in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire
    Crouch for employment. But pardon, gentles, all
    The flat, unraised spirits that hath dar’d
    On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
    So great an object; can this cockpit hold
    The vasting fields of France? or may we cram
    Within this wooden O the very casques
    That did affright the air at Agincourt?


    On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth.

In mediæval times the ecclesiastical plays were usually performed in
churches or chapels upon temporary scaffolds erected for that purpose.
The term survived even to the seventeenth century in the sense of a
platform, or stage, on which theatrical performances took place. This
is the only instance in which Shakespeare uses the word.


The name applied to a theatre and the pit of a theatre, deriving its
name from a pit or enclosed area usually of a round formation in which
gamecocks are set to fight for sport.


All the early Elizabethan theatres were constructed in a circular
or octagonal shape. An uncertainty prevails as regards the theatre
intended. Quite possibly the reference might be to the newly erected
Globe, which was opened in the summer of 1599, about the time “Henry V”
was written, and was under the management of Shakespeare and his fellow
actors belonging to the Lord Chamberlain’s company. Some critics favour
the Curtain Theatre, in Shoreditch, as the original house in which
“Henry V” was first produced.



This play is of doubtful parentage. Many would ascribe it either singly
or in conjunction to Greene, Peele, Marlowe, Nash, and Shakespeare. It
appears in the First Folio amongst the collected works of Shakespeare,
and for that reason is admitted in the Shakesperean canon of modern
editions. There exists grave doubts whether Shakespeare ever wrote a
single line of this composition. This play was written as early as
1590, thirty years before Heminge and Condell, the editors of the
First Folio, issued their book. Perhaps Shakespeare revised the work
of others, and thus it appeared in its latest form under his name.
The altering of a play by another hand without acknowledgment did not
constitute in those days any literary offence, although at times an
author objected to his work being so treated, and was not mealy-mouthed
in proclaiming the fact. An excellent instance of this tampering with
another’s property can be read in Greene’s _Groatsworth of Wit_, 1592,
where he denounces Shakespeare in no measured terms “as an upstart
crow, beautified with our feathers,” in reference to his treatment
of the three parts of “Henry VI.” Greene may have been mistaken in
identifying Shakespeare as the author. Every critic understands by the
“only Shake-scene in the country” as referring to Shakespeare. The
entire question is one of the most difficult problems in Shakesperean


    Hung be the Heavens with black.
                                                                I, 1, 1.

The heavens were part of the stage buildings. It was built over the
stage in shape of a sloping roof. The stage being open to the sky, it
protected the actors against the inclemency of the weather, and also
acted as a sounding board. An illustration of the “heavens” can be
seen in De Witt’s drawing of the Swan Theatre, c. 1596. Contemporary
documents prove that all the theatres were provided with this
necessary commodity. Cotgrave, in his French and English Dictionary,
1611, has under the word “volerie,” a robbery, also a place over a
stage, which we call the Heaven. In Hatzfeld and Darmsteter’s Modern
French Dictionary there is no reference to such a meaning as given by
Cotgrave, but under the word “volet” one definition is given as a kind
of shutter before a window.

    Hung be the Heavens with black.
                                                                I, 1, 1.

When a tragedy was played, the stage was draped with black; many
references to this custom are found in contemporary authors. In
Sidney’s _Arcadia_, 1598: “There arose even with the sun a veil of
dark clouds, before his face, had blacked all over the face of heaven,
preparing as it were a mournful stage for a tragedy to be played on.”
In Marston’s _The Insatiate Countess_: “The stage of heaven is hung
with solemn black. A time best fitting to act tragedies,” and in _A
Warning for Faire Women_, 1599: “The stage is hung with black, and I
perceive the auditors prepared for Tragedy.”


    Pucelle hath bravely play’d her part in this
    And doth deserve a coronet of gold.
                                                             III, 3, 88.


    Tell false Edward, thy supposed king,
    That Lewis of France is sending over masquers
    To revel it with him and his new bride.
                                                            III, 3, 224.

This passage is repeated in IV, I, 94:

    At my depart these were his very words:
    “Go tell false Edward, thy supposed king,
    That Lewis of France is sending over masquers
    To revel it with him and his new bride.”

Masquers were those performers who took part in a masque. As a rule
they were gorgeously costumed. The performers were chiefly chosen for
their agility and grace in dancing. In later years a dialogue was added
to the masque, which the masquers took part in.

There are no theatrical allusions either in Part II or Part III of
“Henry VI.”




    I come no more to make you laugh, things now
    That bear a weighty and a serious brow,
    Sad, high and working, full of state and woe
    Such noble scenes as draw the eye to flow
    We now present. Those that can pity, here
    May, if they think it well, let fall a tear:
    The subject will deserve it. Such as give
    Their money out of hope they may believe,
    May here find truth, too. Those that come to see
    Only a show or two, and so agree
    The play may pass, if they be still and calling
    I’ll undertake may see away their shilling
    Richly in two short hours. Only they
    That come to hear a merry play,
    A noise of targets or to see a fellow
    In a long motley coat guarded in yellow,
    Wil be deceived, for gentle heavens, know
    To rank our chosen truth with such a show
    As fool and fight is, beside forfeiting
    Our own brains and the opinion that we bring
    To make that only true we now intend
    Will leave us never an understanding friend.
    Therefore for goodness’ sake, and as you are known
    The first and happiest hearers of the town,
    Be sad as we would make ye, think ye see
    The very parsons of our noble story
    As they were living, think you see them great
    And followed with the general throng and sweat
    By thousand friends; then, in a moment see
    How soon this mightiness meets misery:
    And if you can be merry then, I’ll say
    A man may weep upon his wedding day.

    I’ll undertake may see away their shilling
    Richly in two hours.

In commenting upon this play, the reader must bear in mind that this
is one of the doubtful plays of Shakespeare. Much ingenuity has been
displayed in endeavouring to unravel the mystery of its authorship.
Most scholars discern the hand of Fletcher, together with that of
Shakespeare. Others would award the entire play to Fletcher, while
on the other hand, the entire play has been considered as fully
Shakesperean. A great poet, Tennyson, was of the opinion that most
of the play was written by Fletcher. Spedding, who has devoted much
thought to this problem, would assign to Fletcher a great portion
of the dialogue, including the famous “Farewell” speech of Wolsey,
which I for one cannot for a moment allow, as this speech, above all
others, has the true Shakesperean ring. Two very interesting items of
theatrical history can be gathered from this prologue, namely, the
price of admission to the best seats and the duration of a five act
play of Shakespeare’s time. Spedding would give the Prologue and the
Epilogue to Fletcher.

The price of admission to the best seats would be a shilling, as we
learn from Dekker’s books of Gull’s, where he mentions the twelvepenny
rooms as being the best place in the theatre. This price was for the
best seats or a seat upon the stage, which at this period was allowed
at some of the theatres. When the custom was introduced of allowing
a few of the spectators a seat on the stage is uncertain. The matter
has not been fully examined or explained, and little information can
be gathered from contemporary sources. The boxes, or rooms, as they
were styled, were priced at a shilling at the Globe and Blackfriars
Theatres. The twelvepenny rooms were situated near the stage, in the
lowermost gallery, and are seen on the drawing of the interior of the
Swan Theatre, close to the word orchestra. Why the writer should refer
to the shilling seats only is difficult to make out. Perhaps for the
first performance of a new play a shilling was charged for all the
seats. We know that a different scale of charges did exist, but the
accounts are somewhat confused. It was during a performance of this
play that the thatched roof of the Globe Theatre caught fire and was
burnt to the ground. This took place on St. Peter’s Day, June 29th,


    I would have play’d
    The part my father meant to act upon
    The usurper Richard.
                                                              I, 2, 195.


    ’Tis ten to one this play can never please
    All that are here; some come to take their ease
    And sleep an act or two; but those we fear
    We have frighted with our trumpets, so ’tis clear
    They’ll say ’tis naught.
    For this play at this time, is only on
    The merciful construction of good women;
    For such a one we show’d ’em if they smile,
    And say ’twill do I know within a while,
    All the best men are ours for ’tis ill hap
    If they hold when their ladies bid ’m clap.


    Now this masque was cried incomparable.
                                                               I, 1, 27.


    ’Tis well; the citizens,
    I am sure, have shown at full their royal minds
    And let ’em have their rights they are ever forward,
    In celebration of this day with shows,
    Pageants and sights of honour.
                                                               IV, 1, 2.


    These are the youths that thunder at a playhouse and fight for
    bitter apples; that no audience but the tribulation of Tower Hill
    or the limbs of Lime House, their dear brothers, are able to endure.
                                                                   V, 4.


    Enter the King and others as masquers, habited like shepherds,
    ushered by the Lord Chamberlain. They pass directly before the
    Cardinal, and gracefully salute him.

    A noble company! What are their pleasures?
    Because they speak no English, thus they pray’d
    To tell your grace, that, having heard by fame
    Of this so noble and so fair assembly.


    I will not be slack
    To play my part in Fortune’s pageant.


    I know their complot is to have my life:
    And if my death might make this island happy
    And prove the period of their tyranny,
    I would expend it with all willingness;
    But mine is made a prologue to their play.
    For thousands more, that yet suspect
    Will not conclude their plotted tragedy.
                                                            III, 1, 151.


    And now what rests, but that we spend the time
    With stately trumpets mirthful comic shows
    Such as befits the pleasures of the Court.


    What scene of death hath Roscius now to act?
                                                               V, 6, 10.

Roscius was the most celebrated comic actor of his times. He lived in
the first century A.D., dying in the year 62. Throughout the
ages he has been personified as the greatest actor of all times, and
his name has often been applied to any actor of great eminence. In
Shakespeare’s period, Richard Burbage was the Roscius of the day, and
was known as “Roscius Richard.”


    Why stand we like soft-hearted women here
    Wailing our losses, whiles the foe doth rage;
    And look upon, as if the tragedy
    Were play’d in jest by counterfeiting actors.
                                                                  II, 3.

    This night to meet here, they could do no less,
    Out of the great respect they bear to beauty,
    But leave their flocks, and under your fair act
    Crave leave to view these ladies and entreat
    An hour of revels with them.
                                                    _Act_ II, _Scene_ IV

    Crave leave to view these ladies and entreat
    An hour of revels with ’em.

Under the name of Revels was included many kinds of merrymaking and
festivities. From the fourteenth century onwards such diversions were
held at the Court and at the houses of noblemen. The Revels included
dancing, games, masking, mummings or disguisings and other forms of
lively entertainments. In Tudor times these amusements had assumed vast
proportions. In Henry VII’s reign the Master of the Revels first makes
his appearance, and that official post continued to be held until the
Restoration. Queen Elizabeth formed a separate company, called Children
of the Revels, which took part in many important functions. These
children also acted in regular plays, and caused much heart-burning and
dissension amongst the adult players.



    As in a theatre, when they gape and point
    At your industrious scenes and acts of death.

It will be generally observed that when Shakespeare introduced a simile
drawn from theatrical art, other similes of a like nature regularly
follow, and are accounted for by the law of association of ideas. An
interesting study could be made of enquiry whether this rule applies to
other dramatists of the period. Perhaps some patient and industrious
student will collect all the passages bearing on this subject and
publish the fruit of his labour. A study of the early stage is of so
fascinating a pursuit and of so engrossing a nature that such a work
ought easily to find a chronicler, not forgetting the fact that the
results would be so welcome and interesting to other students. The
worker in such a field of enquiry will not find that his time has been
spent in vain, especially as no such collection is to be found amongst
the multitudinous books written about the drama.


    This harness’d masque and unadvised revel.
                                                              V, 2, 132.



    If the tag-rag people did not clap him and hiss him, according as
    he pleased and displeased them, as they used to do the players in
    the theatre, I am no true man.
                                                              I, 2, 258.

These terms “clap” and “hiss” seem to have been the usual methods
of showing signs of approval and disapproval in the theatre in
Shakespeare’s time, as it is still with us. Dryden confirms this
statement by mentioning that to clap and hiss are the privileges of
a freeborn subject in a playhouse. Pepys, in his Diary, 1669, says:
“Indeed, it was very finely sung as to make the whole house clap her.”
Both these methods were adopted by the spectators in all playhouses
in Europe. In the Spanish theatres, when the players said anything
that pleased the audience, everybody cried out “Victor! Victor!” This
was a custom peculiar to their country. They also had another custom
which, fortunately, did not travel beyond the confines of Spain, when
they wished to show signs of disapproval either with the play or the
actors, they did so by blowing a whistle, much after the fashion of our
football enthusiasts when a goal has been scored.


    Let not our looks put on our purposes,
      But bear it as our Roman actors do
    With untired spirits and formal constancy.
                                                             II, 1, 226.


    He reads much,
    He is a great observer,
    He loves no plays, as thou dost, Antony,
      He hears no music.


    That done, repair to Pompey’s theatre.


    What should the wars do with those jigging fools?
                                                             IV, 3, 136.


    A peevish schoolboy
      Joined with a masker and a reveller.


    How many ages hence shall this our lofty scene be acted over.
                                                            III, 1, 112.

A favourite device of Shakespeare, often repeated in his plays, of
making his characters allude to the stage, thus enveloping his own
imaginary dramatic efforts with a reality, which almost deceives the
audience that they are witnesses of living actions.



        (_Enter Edgar._)

    Edm. And pat he comes like the catastrophe of the old comedy.
                                                              I, 2, 149.

The catastrophe of a dramatic piece always occurred towards the end,
and came when the audience were on the tiptoe of expectation, awaiting
the final _dénouement_, as it is called in modern times.


    My cue is villanous, melancholy, with a sigh like Tom o’ Bedlam.
                                                              I, 2, 147.


    You come with letters against the King, and take
    vanity the puppet’s part, against the royalty of
    her father.
                                                              II, 2, 40.


    And take vanity, the puppet’s part.
                                                              II, 2, 40.

Vanity was one of the seven deadly sins often presented in old
Morality plays, and many references are made to this character by the
Elizabethan dramatists.



    If you will marry, make your loves to me;
    My lady is bespoke.


    An interlude.
                                                               V, 3, 90.

Goneril would intimate that the interview is becoming quite
interesting, and compares the scene with an interlude or a farcical



    None so fit as to present the Nine Worthies.
                                                              V, 1, 130.

    Sir, you shall present before her the Nine Worthies.
                                                              V, 1, 110.

The original Nine Worthies were composed of three Jews, Joshua, David
and Judas Maccabæus; three Pagans, Hector, Alexander and Julius
Cæsar and three Christians, King Arthur, Charlemagne, and Godfrey of
Bouillon. But these original Worthies were not always strictly adhered
to; the number remained the same, but other names were substituted in
place of those above named.

Nashe, the Elizabethan dramatist and pamphlet writer, remarks in one
of his prose works, entitled, _The Unfortunate Traveller, or the Life
of Jack Wilton_, a book dedicated to Lord Southampton, Shakespeare’s
patron, to whom he dedicated _Venus and Adonis_ and _Lucrece_: “To
Charles the Fifth, then Emperor, they reported how he shewed the Nine
Worthies, David, Solomon, Gideon, and the rest in that similitude and
likeness that they lived upon earth.” Shakespeare introduces Hercules
and Pompey without any authority; thus it would appear that any author
might choose his own Worthies, totally ignoring historical precedence.
These Worthies formed part of a pageant, a form of entertainment given
by our ancestors at Christmas time and on other festive occasions.
In some instances, speaking parts were allotted to the performers.
Fortunately, a genuine specimen has been preserved in a manuscript of
the time of Edward IV, in which the first named Worthies all appear.
The text of these pageants were in most parts composed by ignorant
people, and were not considered worth preserving. Shakespeare’s pageant
is a parody on this kind of entertainment, similar to that of the
Athenian mechanics in their play of Pyramus and Thisbe in “Midsummer
Night’s Dream.” Shakespeare seems to have taken infinite delight in
parodying these monstrous entertainments.



    By Jove, I always took three three’s for nine.


    O Lord, sir! it is a pity you should get your living by reckoning,


    How much is it?


    O Lord, sir! the parties themselves, the actors, sir, will show
    where until it doth amount; for mine own part I am, as they say,
    but to perfect one man in one poor man, Pompey the Great, sir.


    Art thou one of the Worthies?


    It pleased them to think me worthy of Pompey the Great; for mine
    own part, I know not the degree of Worthy, but I am to stand for
                                                              V, 2, 501.



    Shall I have audience? He shall present Hercules in minority; his
    enter and exit shall be strangling a snake. And I will have an
    apology for that purpose.


    An excellent device, so that if any of the audience hiss, you may
    cry “Well done, Hercules; now thou crushest the snake!”


      Here was a consent,
    Knowing aforehand of our merriment,
    To dash it like a Christmas comedy.
                                                             V, II, 462.

The figurative meaning of the word dash is to destroy, frustrate,
spoil; in this instance it would rather signify throwing cold water
upon it. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was the usual
word for the rejection of a Bill in Parliament.

    As the cry of yea or no is bigger, so the Bill is allowed or dashed.
                          Sir T. Smith, _Commonwealth of England_, 1633.

The word is now obsolete except in the phrase: To dash one’s hopes or


    Some carry tale, some please man, some slight Zany.
    To make my lady laugh.
                                                               VII, 463.



    I come with this apology.
    Keep some state in thy exit and vanish.


    It is an epilogue or discourse to make plain some obscure
                                                             III, I, 76.


    Revels, dances, masks and merry hours
    Forerun fair Love, strewing her way with flowers.
                                                             IV, 3, 379.

The latter quotation is interesting on account of its having been
quoted in an extremely valuable anthology in the last year of the
sixteenth century. This publication being of such extreme interest I
shall transcribe the title page in full.




    The choysest Flowers of our Moderne Poets with their Poetical
    comparisons, Descriptions of Beauties, Personages, Castles,
    Pallaces, Mountaines, Groves, Seas, Springs, Rivers, &c.

   Whereunto are annexed other various discourses, both pleasant and

                          (Printer’s Device)

                       Imprinted for N. L. C. B.
                         and        T. H.       1600.

The initials N. L. stand for Nicholas Ling, one of the publishers of
the famous piratical “Hamlet” quarto, 1603, also the corrected editions
of 1604 and 1605.

There are 2,350 quotations in this Anthology, of which 95 are taken
from Shakespeare, 30 from the plays and 65 from the poems. The above is
numbered 1,292, under the heading:


    Revels, dances, masks and merry howers,
    Forerun faire love strowing her way with flowers.

                                W. Sha.

Although not a rare book, it is of priceless value to the Elizabethan
student. Extracts from extant plays being assigned to their proper
authors, notwithstanding that the plays in which they appeared were
printed anonymously.

Sometimes the editor goes astray and assigns the wrong name to an
author; in this work there are 130 such attributions. This important
book has been splendidly edited in recent years by Mr. Charles
Crawford, who must have spent laborious hours in tracing the different
extracts and allotting them to their rightful owners. Every lover of
Elizabethan poetry should possess this book, which can be purchased
for quite a moderate sum. I should mention that in a dedication to
Sir Thomas Mounson the writer signs himself “R. A.” Farmer, the
Shakesperean scholar of the eighteenth century, saw a copy with the
name Robert Allot printed at length, and ever since, this author has
always been considered the editor of this Anthology.


    I will play three myself (three characters).
                                                              V, 1, 150.

    Our wrong doth not end like an old play;
    Jack hath not Jill.
                                                              V, 2, 884.

    A twelvemonth and a day, and then ’twill end,
    That’s too long for a play.
                                                              V, 2, 883.


    Their shallow shows and prologues vilely penned.
                                                              V, 2, 305.


    Worthies away! the scene begins to cloud.
                                                              V, 2, 730.

    Of these four Worthies, in their first show thrive,
    These four will change habits.
                                                              V, 2, 541.

    There is five in the first show.
                                                              V, 2, 543.

    It should have followed in the end of our show.
                                                              V, 2, 898.

    The King would have me present the Princess with some delightful
    ostentation or show a pageant or antic or firework.
                                                              V, I, 115.


    He is not quantity enough for that Worthy’s thumb.
                                                              V, I, 138.

    For the rest of the Worthies? I will play three myself.
                                                              V, I, 149.

    I will play on the tabor to the Worthies.
                                                              V, I, 161.

    They would know whether the three Worthies should come in.
                                                              V, 2, 486.

    I know not the degree of a Worthy but I stand for him.
                                                              V, 2, 508.

    Here is like to be a good presence of Worthies.
                                                              V, 2, 537.

    My hat to a halfpenny Pompey proves the best Worthy.
                                                              V, 2, 504.

    He will be the ninth Worthy.
                                                              V, 2, 582.

    There a Worthie’s acoming.
                                                              V, 2, 588.

    Room for the insensed Worthies.
                                                              V, 2, 703.

    Worthies away the scene begins to cloud.
                                                              V, 2, 730.


    You have a double tongue within your mask
    An would afford my speechless vizard half.
                                                              V, 2, 242.


    But O, but O--the Hobby-horse is forgot.
                                                             III, I, 30.



      Two truths are told
    As happy prologues to the swelling act
    Of the imperial theme.
                                                              I, 3, 128.


      A poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more.
                                                               V, 5, 24.


    Then yield thee coward
    And live to be the show and gaze o’ the time.
    We’ll have thee, as our rarer monsters are,
    Painted on a pole and underwrit:
    “Here may you see the tyrant.”
                                                               V, 7, 53.



    I love the people,
    But do not like to stage me to their eyes,
    Though it do well, I do not relish well
    Their loud applause and Aves vehement.
                                                               I, 1, 69.

This passage would seem connected in some manner with the theatre. The
Duke, who expresses this sentiment, wishes to convey that he is anxious
in avoiding the vulgar gaze. The “Aves” may refer to exclamations of
applause, and were possibly signs of approval at the Universities in
Elizabethan times. Its general signification is Hail! Welcome, or
Farewell! adieu. Also a shout of welcome. The word is better known in
the angelic salutation _Ave Maria_.



    Will you prepare for this masque to-night?
                                                              II, 4, 23.

The mask, or later masque, was an entertainment which had been
introduced into England as far back as the reign of Edward III. In
1348, Edward II kept Christmas at Guildford, and a mask was held there
in his honour. When first seen in England, dancing was the only factor
of the masque, most often in masquerade, somewhat after the fashion of
our balmasques, with this difference: that stately dances nearly filled
the programme, the Master of the Revels allowing only two or three
round dances, such as galliards and corantos. A mask is introduced in
Shakespeare’s play of “King Henry VIII,” the King and his companions,
attired as shepherds, with masks covering their faces, enter the palace
of Cardinal Wolsey, and take part in the Revels. Early in the sixteenth
century, dialogue and scenery were introduced, and soon became a
prominent feature of the masque, but very shortly developed into set
speeches. This class of entertainment, under the guidance of Ben Jonson
and Inigo Jones, had become quite a literary and artistic undertaking.
Thousands of pounds were lavished on these court revels, and even the
King and Queen took part in them (King James the First and his consort,
Anne of Denmark).

The masque at this period, 1620, was a combination in variable
proportion of speech, dance and song. The Masquers were dressed in
gorgeous costumes in accordance with the characters they represented.
During James’s reign, the mask for the face was dispensed with, as it
was regarded as quite an unnecessary disguise. At the outbreak of the
Civil War, 1642, the masque abruptly ceased, and was never revived.
Many masques are extant, and survive in manuscript and printed copies.


    Your mind is tossing on the ocean,
    There where your argosies of portly sail,
    Like Signors and rich burghers on the flood,
    Or as it were, the pageants of the sea.

An allusion to those enormous machines that were drawn about the
streets in the ancient shows or pageants. These machines were in the
shape of castle dragons, ships, giants, and were regarded as the most
important part of the show.


    What say you, then, to Falconbridge, the young baron of England?


    He is a proper man’s picture, but, alas! who can converse with a
                                                               I, 2, 78.


    I will not say you will see a mask.
                                                              II, 5, 23.

    No masque to-night.
                                                              II, 6, 64.

    What! are these masques?
                                                              II, 5, 28.



    I hold the world, but as the world, Gratanio,
    A stage where every man must play a part and mine a sad one.


    Let me play fool.

Gratanio wishes to play the Fool, or comic part, which was a regular
character in the old morality interludes, whence came the phrase, to
‘play the fool.’



    Get us properties, and tricking for our fairies.
                                                              IV, 4, 78.

“Properties” for stage purposes was in use much earlier than
Shakespeare’s time, and has remained in the vocabulary of the theatre
until the present day. In its technical theatrical signification, such
as the above quotation, it refers to any portable article whether
costume, furniture, or weapons required during the acting of the
play. In Elizabethan times the properties used were few and simple;
they consisted of things that were absolutely necessary, thus giving
a realistic appearance to the performance. If a bedroom scene is
being represented, a bed, table, chairs or stools and lights are
the properties mentioned in the play, and, no doubt, produced on the
stage. In scenes of open country, a wood, a park, and artificial trees,
mossy banks, and sometimes a rock, or a tomb, would be fixed on the
stage. That such properties were in use can be proved from the notes
in Henslowe’s invaluable Diary, where such things are mentioned. In
shop scenes, a counter and a few articles to indicate the nature of the
business were no doubt exhibited. No painted scenery was known, but the
stage was draped with tapestry and perhaps a few pictures were also
displayed. The floor in all scenes was covered with rushes, which were
suitable for any setting. If a room was being represented, rushes were
quite appropriate, as at that date they were the substitute for our
carpet. If a nature scene, they harmonised with the green foliage and
completed the picture. Many other articles besides the above-mentioned
were brought into use; thus it is quite evident that, however simple
the setting, it sufficed in conveying the proper allusion. Even in our
own times, I have witnessed a play of Molière’s, in which a table and
two chairs were the only properties on the stage.

“Of all properties for my Lord Admiral’s men, the 10th of March, 1598:
1 rock, 1 cage, 1 tomb, 1 Hell mouth, 2 marchepanes and the sittie
(city) of Rome (rather a tall order), 2 wooden canopies, old Mahomet’s
head, and other accessories.”


    If I do not act it, hiss me.
                                                             III, 3, 40.


    Remember you your cue.
                                                             III, 3, 40.

The concluding word or words of a speech in a play serving as a signal
or direction to another to begin his speech. The word cue has been
taken as French _queue_, that is, the tail or ending of the preceding
speech; but no such use of queue has even been used in French, where
the cue is called _replique_, and no literal sense of queue or cue
leading up to this appears in the sixteenth century English. On the
other hand, in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries it is
found written Q, q or qu, and it was explained by seventeenth century
writers as a contraction for some Latin word (_qualis_, _quando_), said
to have been used to mark in actors’ copies of plays the points at
which they were to begin. But no evidence confirming this has ever been

Q. A qu, a term used among stage-plaiers, a Lat qualis--at what manner
of word the Actors are to beginne to speake one after another hath done
his speech. 1625.

Q. A note of entrance for actors, because it is the first letter of
quando--when, showing when to enter and speak. 1633. From Butler’s
_English Grammar_. The word is printed both Qu and Cue in the Folios
and quartos. All modern editions print cue.

    The clock gives me my cue.
                                                             III, 2, 46.


    For they must all be masqued and vizarded.
                                                              IV, 6, 40.

In the early days of the masque the performers always wore masks or


(_Enter Sir Hugh Evans, disguised with others, as fairies._)

    Trib, fairies; come! and remember your parts; be bold, I pray you;
    follow me into the pit, and when I give ords, do as I pid you; come
    come; trib, trib.
                                                                V, 4, 2.


    Fat Falstaffe
      Hath a great scene.
                                                              IV, 6, 17.


    After we had embraced, kissed and protested and
    As it were spoke the prologue to our comedy.
                                                             III, 5, 76.

A comedy was a theatrical piece generally depicting the manners of the
period, always of an amusing and cheerful character, a happy conclusion
being one of the essential features. Some of Shakespeare’s so-called
comedies almost verge on the side of tragedy, as, for instance, the
plot of the “Merchant of Venice,” “The Winter’s Tale,” and others.



Is all our company here?


    You were best to call them generally, man by man, according to the


    Here is the scroll of every man’s name, which is thought fit,
    through all Athens, to play in our interlude before the Duke and
    the Duchess on his wedding-day at night.


    First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on; then read
    the names of the actors; and so grow to a point.


    Marry, our play is, the most lamentable comedy, and most cruel
    death of Pyramus and Thisby.


    A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a merry. Now, good
    Peter Quince, call forth your actors by the scroll. Masters, spread


    Answer as I call you. Nick Bottom, the weaver.


    Ready. Name what part I am for, and proceed.


    You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.


    What is Pyramus? a lover or a tyrant?


    A lover, that kills himself most gallant for love.


    That will ask some tears in the true performing of it; if I do it,
    let the audience look to their eyes; I will move storms, I will
    condole in some measure. To the rest: yet my chief humour is for a
    tyrant; I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in, to
    make all split.

        The raging rocks
        And shivering shocks
        Shall break the locks
            Of prison-gates;
        And Phibbus’ car
        Shall shine from far,
        And make and mar
          The foolish Fates.

    This was lofty! Now name the rest of the players. This is Ercles’
    vein, a tyrant’s vein; a lover is more condoling.


    Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.


    Here, Peter Quince.


    Flute, you must take Thisby on you.


    What is Thisby?--a wandering knight?


    It is the lady that Pyramus must love.


    Nay, faith, let me not play a woman; I have a beard coming.


    That’s all one: you shall play it in a mask, and you may speak as
    small as you will.


    And I may hide my face. Let me play Thisby, too; I’ll speak in a
    monstrous little voice: “Thisne, Thisne”; “Ah, Pyramus, my lover,
    dear! thy Thisby, dear, and lady dear!”


    No, no; you must play Pyramus; and, Flute you Thisby.


    Well, proceed.


    Robin Starveling, the tailor.


    Here, Peter Quince.


    You, Pyramus’ father; myself, Thisby’s father; Snug, the joiner;
    you, the lion’s part; and, I hope, here is a play fitted.


    Have you the lion’s part written? Pray you, if it be, give it me,
    for I am slow of study.


    You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but roaring.


    Let me play the lion, too: I will roar, that I will do any man’s
    heart good to hear me; I will roar, that I will make the Duke say:
    “Let him roar again, let him roar again.”


    And you should do it too terribly, you would fright the Duchess and
    the ladies, that they would shriek; and that were enough to hang us


    That would hang us, every mother’s son.


    I grant you, friends, if you should fright the ladies out of their
    wits, they would have no more discretion but to hang us; but I will
    aggravate my voice so that I will roar you as gently as any sucking
    dove; I will roar you an’ ’twere any nightingale.


    You can play no part but Pyramus; for Pyramus is a sweet-faced man;
    a proper man, as one shall see in a summer’s day; a most lovely,
    gentleman-like man; therefore you must needs play Pyramus.


    Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best to play it in?


    Why, what you will.


    I will discharge it in either your straw colour beard, your
    orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your French
    crown colour beard, your perfect yellow.


    Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and then you will
    play barefaced. But, masters, here are your parts; and I am to
    entreat you, request you, and desire you, to con them by to-morrow
    night; and meet me in the palace wood, a mile without the town,
    by moonlight; there we will rehearse, for if we meet in the city,
    we shall be dogged with company, and our devices known. In the
    meantime I will draw a bill of properties, such as our play wants.
    I pray you, fail me not.


    We will meet; and there we may rehearse most obscenely and
    courageously. Take pains; be perfect. Adieu.


    At the duke’s oak we meet.


    Enough; hold or cut bow-strings.
                                                    _Act_ I. _Scene_ II.

       *       *       *       *       *


    Are we all met?


    Pat, pat; and here’s a marvellous convenient place for our
    rehearsal. This green plot shall be our stage, this hawthorn-brake
    our tiring-house; and we will do it in action as we will do it
    before the Duke.


    Peter Quince ----.


    What sayest thou, Bully Bottom?


    There are things in this comedy of Pyramus and Thisby that will
    never please. First, Pyramus must draw a sword to kill himself;
    which the ladies cannot abide. How answer you that?


    By’r lakin, a parlous fear.


    I believe we must leave the killing out when all is done.


    Not a whit: I have a device to make all well. Write me a prologue;
    and let the prologue seem to say, we will do no harm with our
    swords, and that Pyramus is not killed indeed; and, for the more
    better assurance, tell them that I, Pyramus, am not Pyramus, but
    Bottom, the weaver: this will put them out of fear.


    Well, we will have such a prologue; and it shall be written in
    eight and six.


    No, make it two more; let it be written in eight and eight.


    Will not the ladies be afeard of the lion?


    I fear it, I promise you.


    Masters, you ought to consider with yourselves: to bring in--God
    shield us!--a lion among ladies is a most dreadful thing; for there
    is not a more fearful wild-fowl than your lion living, and we ought
    to look to’t.


    Therefore another prologue must tell he is not a lion.


    Nay, you must name his name, and half his face must be seen through
    the lion’s neck; and he himself must speak through, saying thus,
    or to the same defect: “Ladies,”--or, “Fair ladies--I would wish
    you”--or, “I would request you,”--or, “I would entreat you--not to
    fear, not to tremble: my life for yours. If you think I come hither
    as a lion, it were pity of my life: no, I am no such thing; I am a
    man as other men are”; and there indeed let him name his name, and
    tell them plainly, he is Snug, the joiner.


    Well, it shall be so. But there is two hard things; that is, to
    bring the moonlight into a chamber, for, you know, Pyramus and
    Thisby meet by moonlight.


    Doth the moon shine that night we play our play?


    A calendar, a calendar! look in the almanac; find out moonshine,
    find out moonshine.


    Yes, it doth shine that night.


    Why, then, may you leave a casement of the great chamber window,
    where we play, open, and the moon may shine in at the casement.


    Ay; or else one must come in with a bush of thorns and a lantern,
    and say he comes to disfigure, or to present, the person of
    moonshine. Then there is another thing: we must have a wall in the
    great chamber; for Pyramus and Thisby, says the story, did talk
    through the chink of a wall.


    You can never bring in a wall. What say you, Bottom?


    Some man or other must present wall; and let him have some plaster,
    or some loam, or some rough-cast about him to signify wall; and let
    him hold his fingers thus, and through that cranny shall Pyramus
    and Thisby whisper.


    If that may be, then all is well. Come, sit down, every mother’s
    son, and rehearse your parts. Pyramus, you begin: when you have
    spoken your speech, enter into that brake, and so every one
    according to his cue.

(_Enter Puck, behind._)


    What hempen home-spuns have we swaggering here,
    So near the cradle of the fairy queen?
    What, a play toward! I’ll be an auditor;
    An actor, too, perhaps, if I see cause.


    Speak, Pyramus. Thisby, stand forth.


    Thisby, the flowers of odious savours sweet, ----.


    Odours, odours.


    ---- Odours savours sweet:
    So hath thy breath, my dearest Thisby, dear.
    But hark, a voice! stay thou but here awhile,
    And by and by I will to thee appear.        (_Exit_).


    A stranger Pyramus than e’er play’d here.


    Must I speak now?


    Ay, marry, must you; for you must understand he goes but to see a
    noise that he heard, and is to come again.


    Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue,
      Of colour like the red rose on triumphant brier,
    Most brisky juvenal, and eke most lovely Jew,
      As true as truest horse, that yet would never tire,
    I’ll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny’s tomb.


    “Ninus’ tomb,” man; why, you must not speak that yet; that you
    answer to Pyramus. You speak all your part at once, cues and all.
    Pyramus enter: your due is past; it is, “never tire.”


    O,--As true as truest horse, that would never tire.

(_Re-enter Puck and Bottom, with an ass’s head._)


    If I were fair, Thisby, I were only thine.


    O monstrous! O strange! we are haunted.
    Pray, masters! fly, masters! Help!
                              _Act_ III, Sc. I, _lines_ 1-107.


    Come now; what masques, what dances shall we have
    To wear away this long age of three hours
    Between our after-supper and bed-time?
    Where is our usual manager of mirth?
    What revels are in hand? Is there no play
    To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?
    Call Philostrate.


    Here, mighty Thesus.


    Say, what abridgement have you for this evening?
    What masque? what music? How shall we beguile
    The lazy time, if not with some delight?


    There is a brief how many sports are ripe:
    Make choice of which your highness will see first.


    (_Reads_) The battle with the Centaurs, to be sung
    By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.
    We’ll none of that: that have I told my love,
    In glory of my kinsman, Hercules.
    (_Reads_) The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals,
    Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage.
    That is an old decide; and it was play’d
    When I from Thebes came last a conqueror.
    (_Reads_) The thrice three Muses mourning for the death
    Of Learning, late deceased in beggary.
    That is some satire, keen and critical,
    Not sorting with a nuptial ceremony.
    (_Reads_) A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus
    And his love Thisbe; very tragical mirth.
    Merry and tragical! tedious and brief!
    That is, hot ice and wondrous strange snow.
    How shall we find the concord of this discord?


    A play there is, my lord, some ten words long,
    Which is as brief as I have known a play;
    But by ten words, my lord, it is too long,
    Which makes it tedious; for in all the play
    There is not one word apt, one play fitted:
    And tragical, my noble lord, it is;
    For Pyramus therein doth kill himself.
    Which, when I saw rehearsed, I must confess,
    Made mine eyes water; but more merry tears
    The passion of loud laughter never shed.


    What are they that do play it?


    Hard-handed men, that work in Athens here,
    Which never labour’d in their minds till now;
    And now have toil’d their unbreathed memories
    With this same play, against your nuptial.


    And we will hear it.


                      No, my noble lord;
    It is not for you: I have heard it over,
    And it is nothing, nothing in the world;
    Unless you can find sport in their intents,
    Extremely stretch’d and conn’d with cruel pain,
    To do you service.


                      I will hear that play;
    For never anything can be amiss,
    When simpleness and duty tender it.
    Go, bring them in: and take your places, ladies.


    I love not to see wretchedness o’ercharged,
    And duty in his service perishing.


    Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing.


    He says they can do nothing in this kind.


    The kinder we, to give them thanks for nothing.
    Our sport shall be to take what they mistake:
    And what poor duty cannot do noble respect
    Takes in it might, not merit.
    Where I have come, great clerks have purposed
    To greet me with premeditated welcomes;
    Where I have seen them shiver and look pale,
    Make periods in the midst of sentences,
    Throttle their practised accent in their fears,
    And, in conclusion, dumbly have broken off,
    Not paying me a welcome. Trust me, sweet,
    Out of this silence yet I picked a welcome;
    And in the modesty of fearful duty
    I read as much as from the rattling tongue
    Of saucy and audacious eloquence
    Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity
    In least speak most, to my capacity.

(_Re-enter Philostrate._)


    So please, your Grace, the Prologue is address’d.

                                         (_Flourish of trumpets._)

(_Enter Quince for the Prologue._)


    If we offend, it is with our good will.
      That you should think, we come not to offend,
    But with good will. To show our simple skill,
      That is the true beginning of our end.
    Consider, then, we come but in despite
      We do not come, as minding to content you
    Our true intent is. All for your delight,
      We are not here. That you should here repent you.
    The actors are at hand; and, by their show,
      You shall know all, that you are like to know.


    This fellow doth not stand upon points.


    He hath rid his prologue like a rough colt; he
    Knows not the stop. A good moral, my lord:
    It is not enough to speak, but to speak true.


    Indeed he hath played on his prologue like a child on a recorder; a
    sound, but not in government.


    His speech was like a tangled chain; nothing impaired, but all
    disordered. Who is next?

(_Enter Pyramus and Thisbe, Wall, Moonshine and Lion._)


    Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show;
      But wonder on, till truth make all things plain.
    This man is Pyramus, if you would know;
      This beauteous lady, Thisby, is certain.
    This man, with line and rough-cast, doth present
      Wall, that vile Wall, which did these lovers sunder;
    And through Wall’s chink, poor souls, they are content
      To whisper. At the which let no man wonder.
    This man, with lanthorn, dog, and bush of thorn,
      Presenteth Moonshine; for, if you will know,
    By moonshine did these lovers think no scorn.
      To meet at Ninus’ tomb, there, there to woo.
    This grisly beast, which Lion hight by name,
    The trusty Thisby, coming first by night,
    Did scare away, or rather did affright;
    And, as she fled, her mantle she did fall,
      Which Lion vile with bloody mouth did stain.

    Anon comes Pyramus, sweet youth and tall,
      And finds his trusty Thisby’s mantle slain:
    Whereat, with blade, with bloody blameful blade,
      He bravely broach’d his boiling bloody breast;
    And Thisby, tarrying in mulberry shade,
      His dagger drew, and died. For all the rest,
    Let Lion, Moonshine, Wall, and lovers twain
    At large discourse, while here they do remain.

(_Exeunt Prologue, Pyramus, Thisbe, Lion and Moonshine._)


    I wonder if the lion be to speak.


    No wonder, my lord: one lion may, when many asses do.


    In this same interlude it doth befall
    That I, one Snout by name, present a wall;
    And such a wall, as I would have you think,
    That had in it a crannied hole or chink,
    Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby,
    Did whisper often very secretly.
    This loam, this rough-cast, and this stone, doth show
    That I am that same wall; the truth is so:
    And this the cranny is, right and sinister,
    Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.


    Would you desire lime and hair to speak better?


    It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard discourse, my lord.


    Pyramus draws near the wall; silence!

(_Re-enter Pyramus_).


    O grim-look’d night! O night with hue so black!
      O night, which ever art when day is not!
    O night, O night! alack, alack, alack,
      I fear my Thisby’s promise is forgot!
    And thou, O wall, O sweet, O lovely wall,
      That stand’st between her father’s ground and mine!
    Thou wall, O wall, O sweet and lovely wall,
      Show me thy chink, to blink through with mine eyne!

                                     (_Wall holds up his fingers._)

    Thanks, courteous wall; Jove shield thee well for this!
      But what see I? No Thisby do I see.
    O wicked wall, through whom I see no bliss!
      Cursed be thy stones for thus deceiving me!


    The wall, methinks, being sensible, should curse again.


No, in truth, sir, he should not. “Deceiving me,” is Thisby’s cue; she
is to enter now, and I am to spy her through the wall. You shall see,
it will fall pat as I told you. Yonder she comes.

(_Re-enter Thisbe._)


    O wall, full often hast thou heard my moans,
      For parting my fair Pyramus and me!
    My cherry lips have often kiss’d thy stones,
      Thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee.


    I see a voice: now will I to the chink,
    To spy an’ I can hear my Thisby’s face.


    My love thou art, my love I think.


    Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover’s grave;
      And, like Limander, am I trusty still.


    And I like Helen, till the Fates me kill.


    Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.


    As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.


    O, kiss me through the hole of this vile wall!


    I kiss the wall’s hole, not your lips at all.


    Wilt thou at Ninny’s tomb meet me straightway?


    ’Tide life, ’tide death, I’d come without delay.

(_Exeunt Pyramus and Thisbe._)


    Thus have I, wall, my part discharged so;
    And, being done, this wall away doth go.


    Now is the mural down between the two neighbours.


    No remedy, my lord, when walls are so wilful to hear without


    This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.


    The best in this kind are but shadows; and the worst are no worse,
    if imagination amend them.


    It must be your imagination then, and not theirs.


    If we imagine no worse of them than they of themselves, they may
    pass for excellent men. Here come two noble beasts in, a man and a

(_Re-enter Lion and Moonshine._)


    You, ladies, you, whose gentle hearts do fear
      The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor,
    May now perchance both quake and tremble here,
      When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.

    Then know that I, one Snug the joiner, am
    A lion-fell, nor else no lion’s dam;
    For, if I should as lion, come in strife
    Into this place, ’twere pity on my life.


    A very gentle beast, and of good conscience.


    The very best at a beast, my lord, that e’er I saw.


    This lion is a very fox for his valour.


    True; and a goose for his discretion.


    Not so, my lord; for his valour cannot carry his discretions; and
    the fox carries the goose.


    His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his valour for the goose
    carries not the fox. It is well: leave it to his discretion, and
    let us listen to the moon.


    This lanthorn doth the horned moon present;--


    He should have worn the horns on his head.


    He is no crescent, and his horns are invisible within the


    This lanthorn doth the horned moon present;
    Myself the man i’ the moon do seem to be.


    This is the greatest error of all the rest: the man should be put
    into the lanthorn. How is it else the man i’ the moon?


    He dares not come there for the candle; for, you see, it is already
    in snuff.


    I am aweary of this moon: would he would change!


    It appears, by his small light of discretion, that he is on the
    wane; but yet, in courtesy, in all reason, we must stay the time.


    Proceed, Moon.


    All that I have to say is to tell you that the lanthorn is the
    moon; I, the man i’ the moon; this thorn-bush, my thorn-bush; and
    this dog, my dog.


Why, all these should be in the lantern; for all these are in the moon.
But, silence! here comes Thisbe.

(_Re-enter Thisbe._)


    This is old Ninny’s tomb. Where is my love?


    (_Roaring_) Oh, ----.


    Well roared, Lion.


    Well run, Thisbe.


    Well shone, Moon. Truly the moon shines with a good grace.

(_The Lion shakes Thisbe’s mantle, and exit._)


    Well moused, Lion.


    And then came Pyramus.


    And so the Lion vanished.

(_Re-enter Pyramus._)


    Sweet Moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams;
      I thank thee, Moon, for shining now so bright;
    For, by thy gravious, golde, glittering gleams,
      I trust to take of truest Thisby’s sight.

            But stay, O spite!
            But mark, poor knight,
        What dreadful dole is here!
            Eyes, do you see?
            How can it be?
        O dainty duck! O dear!
            Thy mantle good,
            What, stain’d with blood!
        Approach, ye Furies fell!
            O Fates, come, come,
            Cut thread and thrum;
        Quail, crush, conclude, and quell!


    This passion, and the death of a dear friend, would go near to make
    a man look sad.


    Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.


    O wherefore, Nature, didst thou lions frame?
      Since lion vile hath here deflower’d my dear:
    Which is--no, no--which was the fairest dame
      That lived, that loved, that liked, that look’d with cheer.

            Come, tears, confound;
            Out, sword, and wound
        The pap of Pyramus;
            Ay, that left pap,
            Where heart doth hop.    (_Stabs himself._)

        Thus die I, thus, thus, thus.
            Now am I dead,
            Now am I fled;
        My soul is in the sky;
            Tongue, lose thy light;
            Moon, take thy flight.    (_Exit Moonshine._)
        Now die, die, die, die, die.    (_Dies._)


    No die, but an ace, for him; for he is but one.


    Less than an ace, man, for he is dead; he is nothing.


    With the help of a surgeon he might yet recover, and prove an ass.


    How chance Moonshine is gone before Thisbe comes back and finds her


    She will find him by starlight. Here she comes; and her passion ends
    the play.

(_Re-enter Thisbe._)


    Methinks she should not use a long one for such a Pyramus. I hope
    she will be brief.


    A mote will turn the balance, which Pyramus, which Thisbe, is the
    better; he for a man, God warrant us; she for a woman, God bless us.


    She hath spied him already with those sweet eyes.


    And thus she means, videlicet:


        Asleep, my love?
        What, dead, my dove?
    O Pyramus, arise!
        Speak, speak. Quite dumb?
        Dead, dead! A tomb
    Must cover thy sweet eyes.
        These lily lips,
        This cherry nose,
    These yellow cowslip cheeks,
        Are gone, are gone,
        Lovers, make moan:
    His eyes were green as leeks.
        O Sisters Three,
        Come, come to me,
    With hands as pale as milk:
        Lay them in gore,
        Since you have shore
    With shears his thread of silk.
        Tongue, not a word:
        Come, trusty sword;
    Come, blade, my breast imbrue:    (_Stabs herself._)
        And, farewell, friends:
        Thus Thisbe ends:
    Adieu, adieu, adieu.    (Dies.)


    Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead.


    Ay, and Wall, too.


    (_Starting up._) No, I assure you, the wall is down that parted
    their fathers. Will it please you to see the epilogue, or to hear a
    Bergomask dance between two of our company?


    No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs no excuse. Never
    excuse, for when the players are all dead there need none to be
    blamed. Marry, if he that writ it had played Pyramus and hanged
    himself in Thisbe’s garter, it would have been a fine tragedy;
    and so it is, truly; and very notably discharged. But, come, your
    Bergomask: let your epilogue alone.
                                 _Act_ V. _Scene_ I. _Line 32-line_ 369.


    Read the names of the actors, and so grow to a point.
                                                                I, 2, 9.

    Call forth your actors by the scroll,
    Masters spread yourselves.
                                                               I, 2, 16.

    I’ll be an auditor;
    An actor, too, perhaps. If I see cause.
                                                             III, 1, 82.

    Most dear actors, eat no onions nor garlic, for we are to utter
    sweet breath.
                                                              IV, 2, 43.

    The actors are at hand, and by their show
    You shall know all.
                                                              V, 1, 116.


    If I do let the audience look to their eyes.
                                                              V, 1, 145.


    Our play is the most lamentable comedy, and most cruel death of
    Pyramus and Thisbe.
                                                              I, 11, 12.

    There are things in this comedy of Pyramus and Thisby that will
    never please.
                                                              III, 1, 9.

    I do not doubt but to hear them say it is a sweet comedy.
                                                              IV, 2, 45.


    And so every one according to his cue.
                                                             III, 1, 78.

    You speak all your parts at once, cues and all.
                                                            III, 1, 102.

    When my cue comes, call me, and I will answer.
                                                             IV, 1, 205.

    “Deceiving me” is Thisby’s cue.
                                                              V, 1, 186.


    Say, what abridgement have you for this evening?
    What masques, what music? How shall we beguile
    The lazy time if not with some delight.
                                                               V, 1, 35.

An “Abridgement” appears to be an entertainment consisting of a
dramatic performance of short duration to while away the time. Another
meaning was a compendium of a larger work with the details abridged.
I cannot find any contemporary use of this term, as it is employed by


    I’ll be an auditor; an actor, too, perhaps.
                                                             III, 1, 81.



    We will have such a prologue; and it shall be written in eight and
                                                             III, 1, 25.

The ballads of the day were generally written in this metre, alternate
verses of eight and six syllables. The sonnets of the time were
composed in fourteen lines. All Shakespearean sonnets are written in
this number. Quince may have had this reckoning in his mind when he
recommended eight and six--fourteen. George Gascoigne, the Elizabethan
poet, composed the verses for a masque in fourteen syllable metre. In
the play as performed before the Duke, the prologue does not appear.


    Please you to see the epilogue or to hear a Bergomask dance between
    two of our company?
                                                              V, i, 360.

A Bergomask dance was performed after the manner of a dance by Bergamo
peasants. Bergamo was formerly a town in Venetia; now it is in the
province of Lombardy.

    But come, your Bergomask; let your epilogue alone.
                                                              V, i, 369.


    I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in.
                                                               I, 2, 31.

    This is Ercles’ vein, a tyrant’s vein; a lover is more condoling.
                                                               I, 2, 42.

The “Ercles vein” referred to a style of acting widely prevalent in
Shakespeare’s day. This method gained his unqualified disapproval,
which he specially denounced in Hamlet’s advice to the players. Through
his influence, this melodramatic bombastic ranting was finally driven
from the stage, not, alas, without many pleadings for its retention
amongst several playgoers. Robert Greene, the dramatist, in his
_Groatsworth of Wit_, the same pamphlet in which he accuses Shakespeare
of downright plagiarism, mentions an actor who observes how he heard
“The Twelve Labours of Hercules thunder on the stage.” Henslowe, in his
Diary, notes the name of a play on this subject, and others are also
known. It gave an opportunity for a robust actor to carry an audience
with him in his display of fiery outbursts of uncontrollable passion.


    You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but roaring.
                                                               I, 2, 70.



    Nay, faith, let not me play a woman: I have a beard coming.


    That’s all one, you shall play it in a mask.

There is a tradition that masks were worn by ladies attending the
theatres in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This custom may
have originated from the stage use of boys and men playing female
parts, sometimes in masks. Very little is known of the history of
wearing masks, both in public and private performances. The above
quotation proves that it would not be at all incongruous for an actor
to play his part in a mask.


    What masques, what dances shall we have?
                                                               V, 1, 32.

    What masque? what music? How shall we beguile
    The lazy time, if not with some delight.
                                                               V, 1, 40.


    Here is the scroll of every man’s name which is thought fit,
    through all Athens, to play in our interlude.
                                                                I, 2, 5.


    Get your apparel together, good strings to your beards, new ribbons
    to your pumps. In any case, let Thisby have clean linen.
                                                              IV, 2, 36.

Although scenic effects did not play a great part in Elizabethan
performances, the actors spared no pains in appearing before the
audience in most elaborate costumes. The court masques were most
gorgeously costumed, and the expenses totalled thousands of pounds.
It is on record that noblemen lent their rich doublets and hose to
actors on special occasions, all characters, whether ancient or
modern, appearing in the costume of the day. Henslowe’s Diary affords
many glimpses of the dresses supplied to the actors. In fact, the
rich apparel of the actors is one of the noteworthy features of an
Elizabethan play, and can be attested by many contemporary witnesses.
We see here the rude mechanicals aping their betters, and Bottom’s
request that the performers shall appear in their best and do
everything in their power to make a goodly show before the Duke.


    Say what the play treats on.
                                                                I, 2, 9.

    Mary! our play is The most lamentable comedy.
                                                               I, 2, 11.

    I could play Ercles rarely.
                                                               I, 2, 31.

    Let me not play a woman, I have a beard coming.

    You shall play it in a mask.
                                                               I, 2, 51.

    Let me play Thisby, too.
                                                               I, 2, 53.

    You must play Pyramus: And Flute, you Thisby.
                                                               I, 2, 57.

    Robin Starveling you must play Thisby’s mother.
                                                               I, 2, 62.

    Here is a play fitted
                                                               I, 2, 67.

    Let me play the lion, too. I will roar.
                                                               I, 2, 72.

    You can play no part but Thisby.
                                                               I, 2, 87.

    What beard where I best to play it in.
                                                               I, 2, 93.

    And then you will play barefaced.
                                                              I, 2, 100.

    I will draw a bill of properties, such as our play wants.
                                                              I, 2, 105.

    Doth the moon shine that night we play our play.
                                                             III, 1, 53.

    Leave a casement of the great chamber window where we play, open.
                                                             III, 1, 58.

    What a play toward.
                                                             III, 1, 81.

    To rehearse a play.
                                                             III, 11, 2.

    I will sing it the latter end of the play.
                                                              IV, 1, 23.

    If he come not then the play is marred.
                                                               IV, 2, 5.

    Our play is preferred.
                                                              IV, 2, 39.

    Let not him that plays the lion pare his nails.
                                                              IV, 2, 41.

    Is there no play
    To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?
                                                               V, i, 36.

    A play there is, my lord, some ten words long,
    Which is as brief as I have known a play.
                                                               V, 1, 61.

    For in all the play
    There is not one word apt, one player fitted.
                                                               V, i, 64.

    What are they that do play it?
                                                               V, 1, 71.

    And now have toiled their unbreathed memories
    With this same play.
                                                               V, 1, 75.

    I will hear that play.
                                                               V, 1, 81.

    Here she comes, and her passion ends the play.
                                                              V, 1, 321.

    No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs no excuse.
                                                              V, 1, 362.

    This palpable gross play hath well beguil’d
    The heavy gait of night.
                                                              V, 1, 374.


    A stranger Pyramus than e’er played here.
                                                              II, 1, 91.

    It was play’d
    When I from Thebes came last a conqueror.
                                                               V, 1, 90.

    He hath played on his prologue like a child on a recorder.
                                                              V, 1, 122.

    If he that writ it had played Pyramus and hanged himself in
    Thisbe’s garter it would have been a fine tragedy.
                                                              V, 1, 365.


    Now name the rest of the players.
                                                               I, 2, 42.

    For in all the play there is not one word apt, one player fitted.
                                                               V, 1, 65.

    Never excuse, for when the players are all dead there need none to
    be blamed.
                                                              V, 1, 364.


    Fie: you counterfeit, you puppet you!
    Puppet? why so?
                                                            III, 2, 288.


    Write me a prologue.
                                                             III, 1, 1a.

    We will have such a prologue.
                                                             III, 1, 24.

    Therefore another prologue must tell he is not a lion.
                                                             III, 1, 35.

    So please, your grace, the prologue is addressed.
                                                              V, 1, 106.

    He hath rid his prologue like a rough colt.
                                                              V, 1, 119.

    Indeed he hath played on his prologue like a child on a recorder.
                                                              V, 1, 122.


    Name what part I am for and proceed.
                                                               I, 2, 20.

    I could play Ercles rarely or a part to tear a cat in.
                                                               I, 2, 31.

    Snug, the joiner; you, the lion’s part.
                                                               I, 2, 66.

    Have you the lion’s part written?
                                                               I, 2, 68.

    You can play no part by Pyramus.
                                                               I, 2, 87.
    Here are your parts; and I am to entreat you and desire you to con
    them by to-morrow night.
                                                              I, 2, 101.

    Sit down, every mother’s son, and rehearse your parts.
                                                            III, 1, 102.

    Every man look o’er his part.
                                                              IV, 2, 38.

    Thus have I, Wall, my part discharged.


    O sweet Bully Bottom; Thus hath he lost sixpence a day during his
    life: he could not have scaped sixpence a day; or 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.
                                                              IV, 2, 23.

There is probably an allusion here to some actor who had been pensioned
by the Queen with this sum. The author of “Cambyses,” Thomas Preston,
was pensioned, at the rate of twenty pounds a year, by the Queen for
his rare ability in acting. The play in which Preston acted was John
Ritwise’s “Dido,” played before Queen Elizabeth at Cambridge, 1564.
Shakespeare likewise ridiculed the title page of “Cambyses” by alluding
to the most lamentable comedy of Pyramus and Thisby.

After the lapse of so many years it is doubtful whether the audience
fully appreciated or understood the allusion.


    In the meantime I will draw a bill of properties.
                                                              I, 2, 108.


    A marvellous convenient place for our rehearsal.
                                                              III, 1, 3.


    A mile without the town, by moonlight: there will we rehearse.
                                                              I, 2, 105.

    There may we rehearse most obscenely and courageously.
                                                              I, 2, 110.

    Sit down every mother’s son, and rehearse your parts.
                                                             III, 1, 75.

    Were met together to rehearse a play.
                                                             III, 2, 11.

    Which, when I saw rehearsed, I must confess made more eyes water.
                                                               V, i, 68.

The first authentic use of this word, in its technical theatrical
sense, is made by Shakespeare in this passage: “A marvellous convenient
place for our rehearsal.” Cunningham, in his Revels Accounts, quotes
the use of the word in 1580: “Rehersinge of divers plaies and their
sundry Rehersells.” There is a grave suspicion of forgery overhanging
Cunningham’s transcripts of the Revels Account. Most critics would
condemn them as modern forgeries, while others uphold their genuineness.


    The King doth keep his Revels here to-night.
                                                              II, 1, 18.


    Where is our usual manager of mirth?
    What revels are in hand?
                                                               V, 1, 36.

    A fortnight hold we this solemnly
    In nightly revels and new jolity.
                                                              V, 1, 377.

    Where is our usual manager of mirth?
    What Revels are in hand? Is there no play
    To ease the anguish of a torturing house?
    Call Egeus (Philostrate Master of the Revels).

There is a curious error in the above passage, which is copied from
the First Folio. Egeus is simply an Athenian Lord, and is in no way
connected with the household of Theseus. Philostrate, who is really
Master of the Revels to the Duke, is correctly named in this extract
in Fisher’s quarto edition of the play, issued in Shakespeare’s
life-time. The error probably arose through the same actor’s doubling
the characters of both Egeus and Philostrate, and must be attributed to
the prompter, who adapted for the stage the quarto edition, dated 1600.
This was, in fact, the original quarto, and fraudulently re-issued
in 1619. It was called the Robert’s quarto, from the name of the
printer, and this quarto was used by the editors of the First Folio in
reprinting the play. Although the date of 1600, the same as that of
Fisher’s quarto, is stamped on the title page, it has been conclusively
proved by Mr. Pollard, of the British Museum, that this edition was
really issued in 1619, together with other quartos, some of which bear
false dates, and the nine false quartos were bound in one volume in the
year 1619.

The Master of the Revels was an important official at the Court. All
plays that were publicly acted were obliged beforehand to obtain the
sanction of the Master of the Revels, much in the same way as the
approval of the Lord Chamberlain must be obtained in our own times.
During Elizabeth’s reign, Edward Tilney held this post in the Royal
Household; his official residence was at St. John’s Gate, Clerkenwell,
and here were stored the properties and costumes that were used in the
masques and entertainments, which were presented at the palaces of
Whitehall, Greenwich, Hampton Court, and other royal residences. During
the last years of the Queen’s reign, Henry Carey, first Baron Hunsdon,
was Lord Chamberlain; after his death, William Brooke, Lord Cobham,
succeeded to the office, to be followed by George Carey, second Lord
Hunsdon, the son of the earlier Lord Chamberlain.


    Forsook his scene and entered in a brake.
                                                             III, 2, 15.

    A tedious, brief scene of young Pyramus and his love, Thisbe.
                                                               V, 1, 56.


    Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show:
    But wonder on, till truth make all things plain.
                                                              V, 1, 128.


    This green plot shall be our stage.
                                                              III, 1, 4.


    Have you the lion’s part written? Pray, if it be, give it me; I am
    slow of study.
                                                               I, 2, 69.

I am told that to study a part belongs to the theatrical vocabulary of
to-day. Another proof of the conservatism of the English stage.


    This green plot shall be our stage, this hawthorn brake our tiring
                                                              III, 1, 4.

Every Elizabethan theatre possessed a tiring house or a tiring room, as
it is generally named. The word is an abbreviation of attiring house:
the place where the actors dressed or attired themselves. From the very
earliest times the tiring room was a part of theatrical equipment. In
the early days of the Greek drama, the Coryphæus mounted on a table,
surrounded by choristers, who danced and chanted the dithyrambs in the
orchestra. This was the name given to the flat service enclosed between
the stage buildings and the inside boundary of the auditorium. It was
called the orchestra, or dancing place, because in Greek theatres it
was reserved for the performance of the chorus.

Thespis, who first introduced an actor on the scene, in the latter
part of the sixth century B.C., erected a booth at the back of the
orchestra in order to facilitate the changing of his costume. As this
one actor impersonated all the characters in the play, it can easily
be imagined how necessary the tiring room became. In later years,
when the dramas of Æschylus, Sophocles and Euripides were produced,
regular stage buildings, with ample accommodation for the actors,
were then in vogue. The tiring house of the Globe Theatre was in all
probability constructed at the back or on the side of the lower
stage. Some critics would also allot a space on the first floor for
a second tiring room, adjoining the music room, which was known to
be situated in that part of the building. There can be no doubt that
in the engraving of the so-called “Inside of the Red Bull Theatre,”
spectators are watching the play from these rooms, but it is not safe
to deduce any dogmatic conclusions from this drawing: one critic would
place the tiring room behind the proscenium doors on the ground floor,
and the second room behind the balcony windows on the first floor. It
would also seem, by a quotation from Melton’s _Astrologaster_, 1620,
that the tiring room was used for preparing scenic illusion. “While
Drummer’s made thunder in the Tyring-house.” The whole subject of the
exact situation and the uses of this room is beset with difficulties,
and no one so far has grappled with them successfully. That an actors’
dressing room did exist is a positive certainty. The most convenient
place would be at the back of the lower stage, and, until further proof
is forthcoming, there it must be located. This is the only instance in
which Shakespeare uses the word.


    Mary, if he that writ it had play’d Pyramus and hanged himself in
    Thisbe’s garter, it would have been a fine tragedy; and so it is,
    truly and very notably discharged.
                                                              V, 1, 367.

By the above quotation, the word discharge bore some theatrical
meaning, but I have failed to trace the use of the word as connected
specially with the stage.


    Very tragical mirth. Merry and tragical.
                                                               V, 1, 57.

    And tragical, my noble lord, it is
    For Pyramus therein doth kill himself.
                                                               V, 1, 66.


    Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth,
    Joy, gentle friends; joy and fresh days of love
    Accompany your hearts.
    Come now, what masques, what dances shall we have
    To wear away this long age of three hours
    Between our after-supper and bed-time?
    Where is our usual manager of mirth?
    What revels are in hand? Is there no play
    To ease the anguish of a torturing hour.
    Call Philostrate.
                                                               V, 1, 37.

When a marriage was celebrated in a nobleman’s family it was customary
for a play, interlude or some kind of dramatic entertainment to be
represented, in presence of the invited guests. This play of “A
Midsummer Night’s Dream” may have been written and acted to solemnize
the marriage of the Earl of Southampton to Elizabeth Vernon, or that
of Edward Russell to Lucy Harrington. Noblemen, who were nominally the
patrons of the different actors’ companies, often requisitioned their
services at their private houses or summoned them to their country
houses, to play before them on some festive occasion. The assumption
that this play was acted in honour of Southampton’s marriage is the
merest guess, no atom of proof being available that such was the case.
Perhaps a version of the play was acted before the Court, but even this
statement is pure surmise.

    Flourish of Trumpets.
                                                              V, 1, 107.

The above stage direction appears only in the First Folio; it is
omitted in the quartos, but retained in all modern editions. These
musical honours announced the commencement of the play. In the sketch
of the Swan Theatre, the trumpet is being sounded, although the action
of the drama is in progress. To account for this anomaly, we must
infer that the artist drew his sketch from memory, and inadvertently
overlooked this slight discrepancy. Dekker, in his _Gulls Hornbook_,
first printed in 1609, addresses the Gallant, who is about to visit
the theatre, not to present himself until the quaking prologue hath,
by rubbing himself, got colour in his cheeks, and is ready to give the
trumpets their cue that he’s about to enter. On the modern English
stage a bell is rung to indicate the rise of the curtain. In France,
three knocks on the stage announce the appearance of the actors.


    Enter Pyramus and Thisbe, Wall, Moonshine and Lion.
                                                              V, 1, 127.

This is a stage direction peculiar only to the First Folio; it is not
included in modern editions. The correct direction should be: Enter
Pyramus and Thisbe, Moonshine and Lion, Tawyers before them with a
trumpet. Tawyer was an actor who played subordinate parts; at one
time he was in the employment of Heminge, one of the chief actors of
the Lord Chamberlain’s servants, and more important still, one of the
editors of the famous and the most precious books in all literature,
the _First Folio of Shakespeare’s Works_, 1623. There is a monument
erected in his honour and that of his fellow editor, Henry Condell, in
the churchyard of St. Mary’s, Aldermanbury, in the City of London. No
true Shakesperean should omit paying a visit to this shrine. The real
names of the actors occur several times in the Folio edition. In “Much
Ado About Nothing” a certain Jacke Wilson is mentioned in the stage
directions: “Enter Prince Leonato, Claudio and Jacke Wilson.” This
Jacke Wilson impersonated the character of Balthazar, a servant of Don
Pedro, who sings the well-known song in the second act, entitled, “Sigh
no more, Ladies.”

There has been some controversy respecting the identity of this actor.
He has been confounded with Dr. John Wilson, who composed the music to
“Sigh no more, Ladies.” Jack Wilson, the actor and singer, belonged to
St. Giles’s, Cripplegate, where he was baptized in 1585, whereas John
Wilson, the Doctor of Music, was born at Faversham, Kent, in 1594. Dr.
Wilson set to music many of Shakespeare’s lyrics, and is the author of
a rare book, entitled _Cheerful Ayres and Ballads_, 1660. This book
is also noted as being the first essay of printing music at Oxford.
Although the editors strongly assert that the plays are printed from
the author’s manuscripts, a slight acquaintance with the original
edition will prove that this statement is not accurate. In fact, I
doubt that any single play in the entire collection was copied from a
Shakespeare holograph. The many stage directions alone indicate that
transcript copies, expressly written out for the prompter, formed the
basis of the text as it has come down to us. In some instances it
can be proved that the latest printed quarto before 1623 served the
compositors for setting up the type. The question is of great interest,
and deserves a thoroughly exhaustive examination.

    Enter Quince for the Prologue.
                                                              V, 1, 108.

In a prologue prefixed to Beaumont and Fletcher’s “Woman Hater,” 1607,
the authors affirm that the person who delivered the prologue wore a
garland of bay leaves, and was dressed in a black velvet coat. The bay
was the sign of authorship, and the person who delivered the prologue
was generally the author or his representative. In this instance, we
are to accept Quince as the author of the interlude.


The interlude of Pyramus and Thisbe, acted by the rude mechanicals,
is a burlesque of a famous legend, related originally by Ovid, in
the fourth book of the _Metamorphoses_. This poem, which consists
of fifteen books, was composed shortly after the first years of the
Christian era. The first printed edition, which was in Latin, was
issued at Bologna, 1471. Dr. Rouse, in his beautiful edition of
Golding’s translation (which, by the way, cost me more than the second
complete edition of 1575) relates, in his interesting introduction, the
following important information. In the Bodleian Library is a copy of
Ovid’s _Metamorphoses_, printed by Aldus in 1502, which bears on the
title page the signature “Wm. Shr,” and opposite is written, in what
appears to be a seventeenth century hand: “This little book of Ovid
was given to me by W. Hall, who sayd it was once Will Shakespere’s T.
N., 1682.” John Hall, it will be remembered, married Shakespeare’s
daughter, Susanna. The genuineness of the inscription has, of course,
been questioned, and, no doubt, it is a clever forgery. The book has
been used by more than one person for study. One has written in a fine
minute hand meanings and paraphrases in Latin above the text throughout
the earlier part of the volume. Many verses have been underlined,
especially in the earlier books, and but very few pages show no marks
of use. There are also marginal scribblings and caricatures, which
are carelessly done, and do not appear to be so old as the rest. The
first English translation of the _Metamorphoses_ was made by Arthur
Golding, which consisted of the first four books, and consequently
included the story of Pyramus and Thisbe. This edition was printed
and perhaps published, although the latter fact is not stated, by
William Seres. The title page is as follows: “Imprynted at London by
William Seres, anno 1565.” Two years later the entire fifteen books
were published, and other editions followed in 1575, 1587, 1603, 1612.
The Pyramus and Thisbe legend is found in most European literature. I
possess an edition of Montemayer’s _Diana_, in Spanish, dated 1585, a
pastoral romance well known to Shakespeare. At the end of this romance
is related in verse the history of Pyramus and Thisbe. In French the
same story is dramatised by Theophile de Vian, published in 1627. Other
versions are known in Greek, Italian, German, Dutch and Roumanian.

Shakespeare has treated the story very unkindly, burlesqueing it in
a most merciless fashion; even the rustic amateurs have not been
spared being ridiculed in no less degree. Although exaggerated beyond
recognition, the burlesque is most amusing, and must have caused
endless delight and roaring laughter from the groundlings for whom it
would appear it was principally intended.




    He set up his bills here in Messina and challenged Cupid at the
                                                               I, 1, 39.

In Shakespeare’s day the only means of advertising were by posting
bills all over the town. As early as 1579 we are told the players used
to set up their bills upon posts certain days before the performances,
to admonish the people to make resort unto their theatres, and that
the players, by sticking up their bills in London, defile the streets
with their infectious filthiness. These bills were mostly set up around
St. Paul’s Cathedral. The monopoly of this trade was for many years
held by Charlwood, a London printer. By marrying Charlwood’s widow
James Roberts, the notorious piratical publisher of Shakespeare’s
plays, succeeded to this business, and at his death, Jaggard, the chief
promoter in publishing the _First Folio_, obtained this lucrative post.
Roberts’ connexion with printing the bills for the players may in some
way account for the fact that he managed to secure the manuscripts of
the plays from the playhouse proprietors, and then print and publish
them, either by bribing the players or some official connected with the

The first authentic quarto of “Hamlet” was published by Roberts in
1604, without doubt from a manuscript copy, whatever modern critics
may say to the contrary. The idea that it was taken down in shorthand
or longhand from the actors’ lips is preposterous; the copy could
only have been obtained from genuine sources. The mutilated edition
of 1603 is quite another story, and only confirms my theory. Many of
the quarto editions of Shakespeare’s plays, although they may have
been published without the sanction of the author or the owners of the
manuscript, were nevertheless derived from authentic copies of the
original manuscripts.

An excellent story, illustrating the nature of setting up bills for the
play will be found in an early English jest book, entitled “Mery Tales,
Wittie Questions, and Quicke Answeres, Very pleasant to be Readde.”

                               at London
                          in Fleete Strete by
                            H. Wykes. 1567.

Another book of this kind is more famous, having been mentioned by
Shakespeare in this very play. The quotation will be found in Act 2,
Scene 1, where Beatrice mentions Benedick as having said: “That I
was disdainful, and that I had my good wit out of the _Hundred Merry

Well, this was Signor Benedick that said so.

                              A. C. Mery


                  Thus endeth the booke of a C mery
                  talys. Empryntyd at London at the
                  sygne of the Merymayd at Powlys gate
                  next to Chepe side. The yere of our
                           Lord M.D.C.XXVI.
                       The XXII day of November.

           How a merry man divised to call people to a play
                              C XXX III.

“A mery man, called Qualitees, in a time set up bills upon posts about
London, that whosoever would come to Northumberland place should hear
such an antic play, that both for the matter and handling the like
was never heard before. For all that they should play therein were
gentlemen. Those bills moved the people when the day came to come
thither thick and threefold. Now he had hired two men to stand at the
gate with a box as the fashion is, who took of every person that came
in a penny or an halfpenny at the least. So when he thought the market
was at the best he came to the gate and took from the man the box with
money, and giving them their duty, bad them go into the hall, and see
the room kept, for he should go and fetch in the players. They went in,
and he went out and lockt the gate fast and took the key with him, and
got him on his gelding, which stood ready saddled without Aldersgate,
at an Inn, and toward Barnet he rode apace. The people tarried from
two o’clock till three, from three to four, still asking and crying
‘When shall the play begin? How long shall we tarry?’ When the clock
struck four all the people murmured and said, ‘Wherefore tarry we any
longer? Here shall be no play. Where is the knave that hath beguiled us
hither?’ ‘It were alms to thrust a dagger through his cheeks,’ sayeth
one. ‘It were well done to cut off his ears,’ sayeth another. ‘Have him
to Newgate,’ sayeth one; ‘Nay, have him to Tyburn,’ sayeth another.
‘Shall we lose our money?’ thus sayeth he. ‘Shall we be thus beguiled,’
sayeth this man. ‘Should this be suffered?’ sayeth that man. And so
muttering and chiding, they came to the gate to go out, but they could
not, for it was fast locked and Qualitees had the key away with him.
Now began they afresh to fret and fume, now they swear and stare, now
they stamp and threaten. For the locking in grieved them more than all
the loss and mockery before; but all avail not. For there must they
abide till ways be found to open the gate that they may go out. The
maidens that should have dressed their masters’ suppers, they weep and
cry, boys and ’prentices sorrow and lament, they wot not what to say
when they come home, for all this foul array, for all this great fray,
Qualitees is merry riding on his way.”

Another well known story, illustrating the custom of setting up
bills, occurs in _Tales and Quick Answers_, a book printed by Thomas
Berthelet, in Fleet Street, about 1533:

    “Of him that lost his purse in London.”

“A certain man of the country, the which for business came up to
London, lost his purse, as he went late in the evening. And by cause
the sum therein was great, he set up bills in divers places, that if
any man of the city had found the purse and could bring it again to
him, he should have well for his labour. A gentleman of the Temple
wrote under one of the bills how the man should come to his chamber,
and told where. So when he was come, the gentleman asked him, first
what was in the purse; secondly, what countryman he was; and thirdly,
what was his name. ‘Sir,’ quoth he, ‘twenty nobles was in the purse. I
am half a Welshman, and my name is John ap Janken.’ ‘John ap Janken,’
said the gentleman, ‘I am glad I know thy name, for now so long as I
live thou nor none of thy name shall have my purse to keep. And now
farewell, gentle John ap Janken.’ Thus he was mocked to scorn and went
his way.”


    Speak, Count, ’tis your cue.
                                                             II, 1, 316.


    That’s the scene that I would see, which will be merely a dumb show.
                                                             II, 3, 226.


    My Lord, I have played the part of Lady Fame.
                                                             II, 1, 225.

    Hero and Margaret have by this played their parts with Beatrice.
                                                             III, 2, 79.


    Fear you not my part of the dialogue.
                                                             III, 1, 30.



    Were it my cue to fight, I should have known it without a prompter.
                                                               I, 2, 84.

In a special theatrical sense, the prompter denotes a person stationed
out of sight of the audience to prompt or assist any actor who is at
a loss in remembering his part. In early days of the drama, the usual
word for this official was book-holder, and is so quoted in Higgins’
_Junius Nomenclator_, 1588: “He that telleth the players their part
when they are out and have forgotten. The prompter or book-holder.”

Ben Jonson uses the word book-holder in several of his plays, likewise
many dramatists of this period. The word is now obsolete.

Other references:


    Is he often thus?
    ’Tis ever more the prologue to his sleep.
                                                             II, 3, 134.

    An index and obscure prologue.
                                                             II, 1, 264.


    Were it my cue to fight, I should have known it without a prompter.
                                                               I, 2, 84.



    Our scene must play
    His daughter’s woe.
                                                              IV, 4, 48.


    Whom our fast-growing scene must find at Tarsus.
                                        _Chorus_ IV, _line_ 6, IV, 4, 6.

    We commit no crime
    To use one language in each several clime
    Where our scenes seem to live.
                                                               IV, 4, 7.

    While our scene must play
    His daughter’s woe.
                                                              IV, 4, 48.


    Enter Pericles talking with Cleon.
                                                 _Chorus_ II, _line_ 16.

    Enter Pericles and Simonides.
                                                _Chorus_ III, _line_ 15.


    What pageantry, what feats, what shows,
    What minstreling, and pretty din,
    The regent made in Mitylene
    To greet the King.
                                                                V, 2, 6.


    In your imagination hold
    This stage the ship, upon whose deck
    The sea-tost Pericles appears to speak.



    And all this dumb-play had his acts made plain
    With tears, which chorus-like her eyes did rain.
                                           _Venus and Adonis, line_ 359.

Many critics have inferred that this poem was composed whilst
Shakespeare still resided in Stratford. By the above lines it would
be nearer the mark to assert that the first heir of his invention was
composed after he had been acquainted with the theatrical literature of
the London theatres.


    As an imperfect actor on the stage
    Who with his fear is put beside his part.
                                                  _Sonnet_ 23, _line_ 1.


    Co-supremes and stars of love
    As chorus to their tragic scene.
                                           _Phœnix and Turtle, line_ 52.


    This huge stage presenteth nought but shows.
                                                    _Sonnet 15, line_ 3.


    My part is youth and beat these from the stage.
                                                    _Lucrece, line_ 278.

    Black stage for tragedies and murders fell.
                                                    _Lucrece, line_ 766.

“My part is youth” may refer to some particular play, but “Lusty
Juventus,” suggested by Stevens, contains no such scene.

In the interlude of “Youth,” youth drives charity from the stage, but
with threats not blows. Malone supposes that Shakespeare was thinking
of the conflicts between the Devil and the Vice in the old Morality
plays, where the Vice was always victorious and drove the Devil roaring
off the stage.

Black stage for tragedies refers to the custom of draping the stage in
black when tragedies were performed. Another allusion to this custom is
found in the first part of Henry VI.


    Or to turn white and swoon at tragic shows.
                                          _Lover’s Complaint, line_ 308.



    As in a theatre the eyes of men,
    After a well grac’d actor leaves the stage,
    Are idly bent on him that enters next,
    Thinking his prattle to be tedious.
                                                               V, 2, 24.

This passage is an excellent example of the use Shakespeare made of
theatrical metaphors in giving life and reality to his dialogue. The
well graced actor can only refer to Richard Burbage, the creator of
Shakespeare’s most important characters. He was a fellow member of
the same company of actors as Shakespeare, both belonging to the Lord
Chamberlain’s company.


    Al owing him a breath, a little scene to monarchise.
                                                            III, 2, 164.

    Our scene is altered from a serious thing.
                                                               V, 3, 79.




    What means this scene of rude impatience?


    To make an act of tragic violence.
                                                              II, 2, 39.


    Had not you come upon your cue, my Lord,
    William Lord Hastings had pronounced your part,
    I mean your voice.
                                                             III, 4, 27.

    In the First Folio, cue is written Q.; in the later folios it is
    spelt kew.
                                                             III, 4, 27.


    The flattering index of a direful pageant.
                                                              IV, 4, 85.

Pageants are dumb-shows, and the poet, no doubt, alluded to one of
these shows, the index of which promised a happier conclusion. The
pageants then displayed on public occasions were generally preceded
by a brief account of the order in which the characters were to walk.
These indexes were distributed among the spectators that they might
understand the meaning of such allegorical stuff as was usually


    The beholders of this tragic play.
                                                              IV, 4, 68.


    A Queen in jest only to fill the scene.
                                                              IV, 4, 91.


    I say without characters, fame lives long,
    Thus, like the formal vice iniquity,
    I moralize two meanings in one word.
                                                             III, 1, 82.

“Formal” appears to be here used as we now use “conventional” to
describe that which was regular and in accordance with ordinary
rule and custom. The vice of the stage was a familiar figure to the
audience, and they were thoroughly accustomed to his proceedings. It
would appear from the present passage that one of his devices, in order
to create a laugh, was to play upon the double meaning of words.



    Come cousin,
    Canst thou quake, and change thy colour,
    Murder thy breath in middle of a word,
    And then begin again and stop again
    As if thou were distraught and mad with terror?


    Tut, I can counterfeit the deep tragedian,
    Speak and look back and pry on every side,
    Tumble and start at wagging of a straw,
    Intending deep suspicion; ghastly looks
    Are at my service, like enforced smiles,
    And both are ready in their offices,
    At any time to grace any stratagems.
                                                              III, 5, 5.

This admirable passage forcibly illustrates the methods adopted by the
actors in the art of acting in Elizabethan times. In our days this mode
of producing stage effects is chiefly associated with the style of
acting pursued by followers of the melodramatic school. If we examine
carefully the substructure of Shakespeare’s tragic plays, we shall
perforce arrive at the conclusion that melodrama enters largely into
their composition.

Stript of their dialogue, the acts of these plays bear a striking
resemblance to the lurid and blood curdling dramas nightly performed
at our provincial theatres, and during the nineteenth century presented
at the London theatres, principally those situated on the Surrey side
of the Metropolis, and merely gaining the well-known sobriquet of the
transpontine drama. These plays were interpreted by the actors in
rather a boisterous manner by ranting and martial stalk, in reality
tearing a passion to tatters, to very rags, tricks of the actors
preserved by tradition from the very days of Shakespeare himself, who
often alluded to and deprecated this inartistic and uncritical style of



    My dismal scene I needs must act alone.
                                                              IV, 3, 19.


    Enter Romeo, Mercutio, Benvolio, with five or six other Masquers,
    Torchbearers and others.


    Nor so without-book prologue faintly spoke
    After the prompter, for our entrance.
                                                                I, 4, 7.

The prompter was much in evidence in the early days of the theatre. The
actor who spoke the prologue (not in the book of the play, but written
by another hand at the command of the manager), no doubt, was much in
need of that useful functionary.


    We mean well in going to this mask;
      But ’tis no wit to go.
                                                               I, 4, 48.

    How long is’t now since last yourself and I
    Were in the mask?

    ’Tis since the nuptial of Incentio,
    Some five and twenty years, and then we mask’d.
                                                               I, 5, 35.


    In fair Verona, where we lay our scene.
                                                   _Chorus_ I, _line_ 2.


The first chorus is omitted in the First Folio. The second chorus at
the end of the first act, or beginning of the second act, is included.
Most critics would deny to Shakespeare both these compositions.


    Is now the two hours’ traffic of the stage.
                                                  _Chorus_ I, _line_ 12.

The opening chorus of “Romeo and Juliet” contains the interesting
information concerning the duration of an Elizabethan play. In those
early days there were no long waits between the acts, no scenic effects
to be staged, and but few properties required. Even allowing for the
quick action without interruption, two hours is all too short for the
proper representation of a Shakesperean play. There is evidence to
prove that three hours was the limit. Ben Jonson, in the “Induction
to Bartholomew Fair,” acted in 1614 at the Hope, refers to the space
of two hours and a half, and somewhat more. Dekker, the prose writer
and dramatist, mentions three hours: “Ye shall be glad to play three
hours for twopence to the basest groundlings in London, whose breath is
stronger than garlick and able to poison all the twelvepenny rooms.”
The last phrase refers to the best places in the house.

Whetstone, as early as 1582, in his Civil Discourses, would allow three
hours for a performance. If we bear in mind that a jig, which we should
now call a farce, was performed after the regular piece and lasted at
least half an hour, it must be conceded that three hours is none too
many for the entire afternoon performance.

In winter the play commenced about two and lasted till dusk; in summer,
three o’clock was the appointed hour. In a letter from Lord Hunsdon to
the Lord Mayor in 1594, it is stated “that where heretofore they began
not their plays till towards four o’clock, they will now begin at two
and have done between four or five.” By this evidence about two hours
and a half was the time required to act an Elizabethan play.

The quarto editions are not divided into scenes or acts. The text
forming some of these plays was actually taken down from the actor’s
lips, either by stenography or from memory, and if any interval had
occurred it would have been recorded, which goes a long way to prove
that the play was continuous throughout, otherwise three hours would be
all too short to see the play through, especially a lengthy one like
“Hamlet,” which has nearly four thousand lines. It is quite possible
that a break of a few minutes may have taken place during certain
scenes, but no stage directions exist sanctioning the usage.



The presenter in former times was one who took part in a play, an
actor. The word is now obsolete. Even in Shakespeare’s day it is rarely
met with. The Presenters in this scene were represented by Sly, the
Page and the First Serving man, all being seated in the balcony above
the stage.


    Your honour’s players hearing your amendment
    Are come to play a pleasant comedy:
    For so your doctors hold it very meet,
    Seeing too much sadness hath congealed your blood,
    And melancholy is the nurse of frenzy.
    Therefore they thought it good you hear a play
    And frame your mind to mirth and merriment,
    Which bars a thousand harms and lengthens life.


    Marry, I will let them play it. Is not a Christmas gambol or a
    tumbling trick?


No, my good lord; it is more pleasing stuff.


What, household stuff?


It is a kind of history.


    Well, we’ll see it. Come, madam, wife, sit by my side. And let the
    world slip; we shall ne’er be younger.


    Your honour’s players hearing your amendment,
    Are come to play a pleasant comedy.
                                                   _Ind. Sc._ 2, 1, 136.

    Therefore, they thought it good you hear a play.
                                               _Ind. Sc._ 2, _line_ 136.

    Marry, I will let them play it. Is not a Christmas gambol or a
    tumbling trick?
                                              _Ind. Sc._ II, _line_ 140.

Every actor in the time of Elizabeth was forced to serve in some
company of actors, who were under the protection of a nobleman,
otherwise the poor actor was classed as a rogue and a vagabond,
and liable to be sent to prison. “Your honour’s players” does not
necessarily infer that they owed entire allegiance to their patron,
but most likely they were prepared at all times to offer their
services to their Lord protector. During the last two decades of the
sixteenth century this patronage became merely formality, but owing to
the strictures of the law this regulation was almost compulsory, so
that in all England every play actor was under the patronage of some
nobleman. As every one knows, Shakespeare belonged for many years to
the servants of the Lord Chamberlain, and Edward Alleyn, the Founder of
Dulwich College, and the greatest actor of his time, was a member of
the Lord Admiral’s company. Even to-day there is a well known case of a
gentleman owning his own orchestra a band of musicians, so that it is
not at all unlikely that some wealthy or powerful nobleman retained a
company of actors who only performed at his pleasure.


    My Lord, I warrant you we will play our part.
                                                _Ind. Sc._ I, _line_ 69.


    There is a lord will hear you play to-night.
                                                _Ind. Sc._ I, _line_ 93.

    For yet his honour never heard a play.
                                                _Ind. Sc._ I, _line_ 86.

    They thought it good you hear a play
    And frame your mind to mirth.
                                              _Ind. Sc._ II, _line_ 139.

    My lord, you nod; you do not mind the play.
                                                                I, 1, 2.

    Players that offer service to your lordship.
                                                _Ind. Sc._ 1, _line_ 77.



    Now, fellows you are welcome.


    We thank your honour.


    Do you intend to stay with me to-night?


    So please your lordship to accept our duty.


    With all my heart. This fellow I remember
    Since once he played a farmer’s eldest son,
    ’Twas where you woo’d the gentlewoman so well:
    I have forgotten your name, but sure, that part
    Was aptly fitted and naturally performed.


    I think ’twas Soto that your honour means.


    ’Tis very true: thou did’st it excellent.

After having copied out the above passage, which was quite a _bonne
bouche_ for my theory, that Shakespeare on all occasions that offered
themselves, introduced theatrical affairs into his plays, it came as
rather a disappointment to find, on consulting the old drama of “The
Taming of a Shrew,” the same scene slightly differently treated.

This old play was the one on which Shakespeare founded his own comedy
of “The Taming of the Shrew.” The scene in which the players are
introduced is called The Induction, and is founded on an episode in
the life of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, which is related in a
Latin work by Heuterus, 1584, called _De Rebus Burgundias_. The story
relates how the Duke, suddenly stumbling upon a drunken fellow lying in
the road, has him conveyed to his palace, attires him like a lord, and
when he wakes, the Duke and his followers keep the game up. The players
present a comedy before him, and when he falls asleep he is again
placed outside the ale house, and, on waking again, tells the host that
he has had the grandest dream of his life, and if his wife vexes him
he knows how to tame her. Strange to say, plays are mentioned in this
Latin chronicle in which, to amuse the mock lord, the same incident is
used in both English plays to entertain the so-called lord. I possess
a late English book called _Admirable Events_. The fifth event relates
the same adventures under the heading of “The Waking Man’s Dream.”
It is believed that an early edition of this book was in circulation
before Shakespeare’s time, but is now lost.

I have printed the players scene on account of its theatrical interest.
It will be noted that the unusual word properties is used, also that
the Duke is patron of a company of actors. The entire scene has an air
of being taken straight from life. It was quite a common custom for
actors to travel in the country or, as we should say, to go on tour.
The company must have been a fairly large one, as several characters
are introduced in the real play.



    And it please your honour your players be come,
    And do attend your honour’s pleasure here.


    The fittest time they could have chosen out;
    Bid one or two of them come hither straight,
    Now will I fit myself accordingly,
    For they shall play to him when he wakes.

(_Enter two of the players with packs at their backs and a boy._)

    Now, sirs, what store of plays have you?


    Marry, my Lord, you may have a tragical or comodity or what you


    A comedy, thou shouldst say:
    Souns, thou’lt shame us all.


    And what’s the name of your comedy?


    Marry, my lord, ’tis called “The Taming of a Shrew.”
    ’Tis a good lesson for us my lord that are married men.


    “The Taming of a Shrew,” that’s excellent sure,
    Go, see that you make ready straight,
    For you must play before a lord to-night.
    Say, you are his men and I your fellow,
    He’s something foolish, but whatso’er he says,
    See that you be not dashed out of countenance.
    Now, sirs, go you and make you ready, too,
    For you must play as soon as he doth wake.


    O brave, sirrah Tom, we must play before
    A foolish lord; come, let’s go make us ready:
    Go get a dishclout to make clean your shoes,
    And I’ll speak for the properties. My lord, we must
    Have a shoulder of mutton for a property,
    And a little vinegar to make our devil roar.


    Very well, sirrah, see that they want nothing.


    May it please you, your honour’s players be come to offer your
    honour a play.


    A play, Sim. O brave be they my players?


    Ay, my lord.


    Is there not a fool in the play?


    Yes, my lord.


    When will they play him?


    Even when it please your honour, they be ready.


    I’ll go bid them begin the play.


    Do, but look that you come again.


    I warrant you, my lord, I will not leave you.


    Come, Sim, where be the players? Sim, stand by me and we’ll flout
    the players out of their coats.


    I’ll call them, my lord. Ho, where are you there?



    We all were sea-swallowed, though some cast again
    And by that destiny, to perform an act
    Whereof what’s past is prologue, what to come
    In yours and my discharge.
                                                             II, 1, 252.


    These our actors
    As I foretold you, were all spirits.
                                                             IV, 1, 148.


    We all were sea-swallowed though some cast again.

W. A. Wright would associate cast with its modern theatrical meaning,
namely, of a company of actors to whom different parts of a play are
assigned. The word in this sense was unknown in Shakespeare’s day; its
earliest use as a theatrical term dates from 1631.


    To have no screen between this part, he play’d,
    And him he played it for.
                                                              I, 2, 107.


    Be cheerful, Sir,
      Our revels now are ended.
                                                             IV, 1, 148.



    Performance is ever the duller for his act.
                                                               V, 1, 26.


I have read this disagreeable play very carefully, and can find therein
no theatrical allusion of any kind.

Although included in the _First Folio_, and mentioned by Meres,
Shakespeare’s contemporary, in a book published by him in 1598, a
great many critics refuse to believe in the Shakesperean authorship.
Many monographs have been written on the subject for and against. The
weight of evidence is rather against the Shakesperean authorship. The
plot is of a most blood-curdling nature, and many of the episodes are
too terrible and nasty to be represented on the stage. There are many
passages in the play which are truly poetical. It is to be hoped for
Shakespeare’s reputation that he had no hand in this vile composition.




      And hither am I come
    A prologue armed, but not in confidence
    Of author’s pen or actor’s voice, but suited
    In like condition as our argument.
    To tell you fair beholders, that our play
    Leaps o’er the vaunt and firstlings of these broils,
    Beginning in the middle, starting thence away
    To what may be digested in a play.
                                                    _Prologue, line_ 23.


    Some two months hence my will shall here be made.
    It should be now, but that my fear is this,
    Some galled goose of Winchester would hiss.
                                                              V, 10, 55.



    Let my lady apprehend no fear; in all
    Cupid’s pageant there is represented no monster.
                                                             III, 2, 80.

From this passage it must be inferred that a Fear was a part played or
impersonated in our old pageants or moralities. To this circumstance,
Aspatia alludes in _The Maid’s Tragedy_, “And then a Fear,” “Do that
Fear bravely wench.”

    Let Patroclus make demands to me,
    You shall see the pageant of Ajax.
                                                            III, 3, 275.


    And like a strutting player, whose conceit
    Lies in his hamstring, and doth think it rich
    To hear the wooden dialogue and sound
    ’Twixt his stretched footing and the scaffoldage.
    Such to be pitied and o’er wrested seeming
    He acts thy greatness in.

Good all round acting in Shakespeare’s time was not the order of the
day, as practised in ours. One or two stars, and the rest nowhere. Thus
Shakespeare compares the strutting actor to the wooden boards on which
he treads, making up in martial gait and heavy tread what he lacks in
spiritual fire. The scaffoldage refers to the wooden platform on which
plays were enacted. A hamstring is one of the tendons which form the
sides of the ham or space at the back of the knee.


    From his deep chest laughs out a loud applause.
                                                             I, 11, 163.


    Now play me Nestor.
                                                              I, 3, 165.

    Now play him me Patroclus.
                                                              I, 3, 170.


    In Troy there lies the scene.
                                                     _Prologue, line_ 1.




    If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as
    improbable fiction.

                                                            III, 4, 140.

This passage refers to the interview between Malvolio, Sir Toby,
Maria and Fabian, after his appearance before the Countess in yellow
stockings and the keep-smiling face. Shakespeare always strove to
impress on his audience that his chief characters were impersonating
events of everyday life; in order to heighten this belief, he
frequently contrasts the real with the stage life or life of fiction.


    I am gone, sir, and Anon, sir,
    I’ll be with you again. In a trice, Like to the old Vice
    Your need to sustain; Who with dagger of lath
    In his rage and his wrath, Cries ha! ha! to the devil
    Like a mad lad, Pare his nails, dad.
        Adieu, goodman devil.
                                                             IV, 2, 134.

The Vice is a character chiefly to be met with in interludes, for the
sake of comic relief, much in the same manner as in our melodramas
of to-day comic characters are introduced, in order to render less
oppressive the serious or tragic situations. This personality was
dressed in a cap with ass’s ears, a long coat, and provided with a
dagger of lath. One of his chief employments was to make sport with the
devil by leaping on his back and belabouring him with his cardboard
property till he made him roar. The devil, however, always carried him
off in the end. His Satanic Majesty was supposed from choice to keep
his nails always unpared, therefore to pare them was considered an

       *       *       *       *       *

In an interlude, “The Trial of Treasure,” he appeared in his customary
stage apparel, with the addition of a pair of huge spectacles, no doubt
to render him more ridiculous. The character seems to have been quite
a popular one in mediæval times. The Vice appears in several plays of
the sixteenth century, and is frequently mentioned by Elizabethan


    I was one, sir, in this interlude, one
    Sir Topaz, sir, but that’s all one.
                                                              V, 1, 380.

The _New English Dictionary_ describes an interlude as a dramatic
representation of a light and humourous kind, such as was commonly
introduced between the acts of the long mystery play or moralities, or
exhibited as a part of an elaborate entertainment. This title was given
to the first comedy written in English, “Our Comedie or Interlude which
we intend to play is named ‘Ralph Royster Doyster in deede.’”

Sir A. Ward, the learned author of a history of English dramatic
literature, writes: “It seems to have been applied to plays performed
by professional actors from the time of Edward IV onwards. Its origin
is doubtless to be found in the fact that such plays were occasionally
performed in the interval of banquets and entertainments which, of
course, would have been out of question in the case of religious plays
proper.” Mr. E. K. Chambers, in his magnificent and scholarly work,
_The Mediæval Stage_, would apply the meaning of the word Interlude to
any kind of play, religious or otherwise, but instead of deriving the
word from a “ludus” during the interval of something else, he would
give it the meaning of a play carried on between (inter) two or more
performers; in fact, a ludus in dialogue.

_Ludus_ is the Latin for a play.


    Are you a comedian.
                                                              I, 5, 194.

This word, now in general use, was quite a novel introduction in
Shakespeare’s time. The _New English Dictionary_ quotes this passage as
the first instance of the words being used in this sense. The date of
this play is about 1601, which is proved from an entry in Manningham’s
Diary, dated February 2nd, 1601; by our present reckoning this
performance took place in 1602, as formerly the New Year began on the
25th of March.

“Feb. 2, 1601. At our feast we had a play called “Twelve Night,” or
What you Will. Much like the “Comedy of Errors” or Menechmi in Plautus,
but most like and near to that in Italian called Inganni.”

There is also a reference in the play to the map of the Indies. This
map was issued in 1599, so between this date and the entry in the Diary
1601, this comedy must have been written.



    My father had a mole upon his brow.


    And so had mine.


    And died that day when Viola from her birth
    Had numbered thirteen years.


    O, that record is lively in my soul,
    He finished indeed his mortal act
    That day that made my sister thirteen years.
                                                              V, 1, 249.

    It shall become thee well to act my woes.
                                                               I, 4, 26.



    I delight in masques and revels sometimes altogether.
                                                              I, 3, 121.


    And all is semblative a woman’s part.
                                                               I, 4, 34.


    An affectioned ass, that can state without book.

Without book was a technical theatrical term used by actors when they
had got their part by heart. The phrase is now obsolete.

These pastimes were in great vogue when this play was written.


    This fellow is wise enough to play the fool.
                                                             III, 1, 67.

    That’s all one, our play is done
    And we’ll strive to please you every day.
                                                              V, 1, 416.


    Shall we set about some revels?
                                                              I, 3, 145.



    I take these Wisemen that crow so at these set kind of fools,
    No better than the fool’s Zanies.
                                                               I, 5, 96.

The Italian Zanni or Zany is a contraction for Giovanni in the dialect
of Bergamo, and is a nickname for a peasant of that place. The term
Zany was generally applied in England to an inferior kind of fool
imitating another or professional jester, corresponding in some degree
to our own clown and pantaloon, the latter being the zany.

In connexion with the word Zany, it should be noted that Molière,
the greatest dramatist after Shakespeare, usually introduced this
character into his farces, under the name of Sgnarelle, which is a
French rendering of the Italian word Zanarelle, the diminutive of
Zanni. Molière himself generally acted this comic rôle.



      How tall was she?
    About my stature: for at Pentecost
    When all our pageants of delight were play’d,
    Our youth got me to play the woman’s part,
    And I was trimm’d in Madam Julia’s gown;
    Which served me as fit by all men’s judgment,
    As if the garment had been made for me;
    Therefore I know she is about my height,
    And at that time I made her weep a good,
    For I did play a lamentable part;
    Madam, ’twas Ariadne passioning
    For Theseus’ perjury and unjust flight:
    Which I so lively acted with my tears,
    That my poor mistress moved therewithal
    Wept bitterly, and would I might be dead
    If I in thought felt not her very sorrow.
                                                             IV, 4, 163.

The page who delivered this speech relates how he played the woman’s
part. In Shakespeare’s time, and until half a century later, no woman
appeared on the public stage. I have always held the opinion that
it was on this account that so many of Shakespeare’s heroines were
disguised as pages, thus enabling the boys who took their parts to
be more natural. Most readers will call to mind Rosalind in “As you
Like It” and Imogen in “Cymbeline,” but principally Viola in that
delightful of all comedies “Twelfth Night.” Julia, one of the heroines
in this play, also played the part of a page. The observant will notice
that Madam Julia lent her gown to the impersonator of Ariadne, but in
those days the costume of the period delineated was not regarded. By
all accounts, all the characters were clothed in contemporary costumes.
Even as late as the eighteenth century, David Garrick played Macbeth,
dressed in a scarlet coat like a military officer, a waistcoat laced
with silver, with a wig and breeches of the cut of the time. Macklin,
a great actor of the eighteenth century, was the first to appear in a
tartan and kilt about the year 1772.


    O excellent motion! O exceeding puppet!
    Now will he interpret to her.
                                                              II, 1, 92.

A puppet was a figure dressed up like a doll and moved by strings
by a person concealed behind a curtain, similar to our Punch and
Judy and marionettes shows of to-day. The word was frequently used
metaphorically by the early dramatists, when they wished to describe
a person’s actions controlled by others, also applied contemptuously
to a person as in the above passage. These puppet shows or motions,
as they were termed, were exceedingly popular in Shakespeare’s time,
and a special one is mentioned by Ben Jonson in _Every Man Out of his
Humour_: “They say there’s a new Motion of the City of Nineveh with
Jonas (not Maurice) and the whale to be seen at Fleet Bridge.” A Motion
that was extremely popular was the history of the prodigal son, quoted
by Shakespeare in a “Winter’s Tale.” “Then he compassed a motion of
the Prodigal Son.” Biblical episodes often formed the subject of these

Both puppet and motion, in their original sense, are now obsolete.
“Now will he interpret her” refers to the dialogue spoken by the
manipulation of the puppets

    “The peeling accents of her voice, is like
    a fained treble on one’s voice
    that interprets to the puppets.”



    The dignity of this act was worth the audience of Kings and princes,
    For by such was it acted.
                                                               V, 2, 86.


    Thy Mother plays and I
    Play too, but so disgraced a part whose issue
    Will hiss me to my grave.
                                                              I, 2, 188.

    I see the play so lies
    That I must bear a part
                                                             IV, 4, 670.


      Good Paulina,
    Lead us from hence, where we may leisurely
    Each one demand and answer to his part
    Performed in this wide gap of time since first
    We were dissevered.
                                                              V, 3, 151.


    Then he compassed a motion of the Prodigal son.
                                                             IV, 3, 103.

The puppet or motion showman exclaims in “Bartholomew Fair”: “O, the
motions that I, Lanthorn Leatherhead, have given light to in my time.”


    My care to have you royally appointed as if
    The scene you play were mine.
                                                             IV, 4, 604.


    Though devised
    And played to take spectators.
                                                             III, 2, 38.


    I play as I have seen them do
    In Whitsun pastorals.
                                                             IV, 4, 134.

The reference is to the several kinds of May games which were performed
at this season of the year. They consisted of short dramatic pieces
of French origin. The earliest known is that of the “Jeu de Robin et
Marian,” which was played in 1392. M. Guy quotes it as folk going
“desguiziez un Jeu qui l’endit Robin et Marian ainsi qu’il est
accoutume de fere chacun an en les foiries de Penthecouste.” These
pieces were a mixture of folk song and minstreling, which developed
into a kind of primitive drama. The principal characters being
represented by Shepherds and Shepherdesses, surrounded by woodland
scenery. In Molière’s plays will be found two of these pastoral dramas,
“Melicente,” comedie pastorale heroique; another was simply entitled,
“Pastorale comique.”



                As it was plaide by the Kings Maiesties

                      By _VVilliam Shakespeare_,



             Printed by T. C. for _Nathaniel Butter_, and
                are to be sold neere _S. Austins_ gate,
                    at the signe of the pyde Bull.

Title page of an English Play.]

I cannot close this book without mentioning the assistance rendered
me respecting the illustrations. As in a previous volume, my friend,
Mr. H. Franklin Waghorn, kindly holds himself responsible for the
photographic work he has so ably executed. My friend, in order to
help me, made many visits to the British Museum on my behalf. The
authorities of that marvellous institution graciously permitted Mr.
Waghorn to take photographs of any rare books which he desired for my
work, for which permission I beg to offer my best thanks. Mr. Fleming,
who made the blocks for the facsimiles, has executed his work beyond
all praise.




                 Representée auec les Machines sur le
                       Theatre Royal de Bourbon.


                               A ROVEN,
                 Chez LAVRENS MAVRRY, prés le Palais.

                       _AVEC PRIVILEGE DV ROY._
                              M. D C. LI.

                       _Et se vendent_ A PARIS,
            Chez CHARLES DE SERCY, au Palais, dans la Salle
                  Dauphine, à la bonne Foy Couronnée.

Title page of a French Tragedy by Pierre Corneille, indicating at which
Theatre the play was produced, showing a similarity with dramatic title
pages of the seventeenth century.]

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Shakespeare and the Stage - With a Complete List of Theatrical Terms Used by Shakespeare - in His Plays and Poems, Arranged in Alphabetical Order, - & Explanatory Notes" ***

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