James Halliwell: A Life of William Shakespeare (1848), pages 84-138.


[ The story so far:     "So many theories regarding the early life of Shakespeare have been founded on the alleged circumstances of his father, that the pains here taken to remove some of the doubts relating to the history of the latter, and to distinguish between him and his namesake, with more accuracy than has yet been accomplished, will be found of essential service in forming the most probable theory on the manner in which the poet's youth was passed." ]

We are, unfortunately, without the means of attaining beyond a probability in this matter ; for more than a century elapsed before any one committed to paper any intelligence on the subject, Shakespeare's contemporaries and immediate successors, who alone could have told much, passing away without suspecting how earnest would be the curiosity of posterity. About the year 1680, an inveterate gossip, who recorded every statement and anecdote that came in his way, and has, as p.85 / might be expected, left us a legacy of biographical history where the glimmerings of truth are scarcely visible from amidst the corrupted ground that overwhelms them, favoured Shakespeare by becoming his first biographer. In Aubrey's MSS. at the Ashmolean Museum, are contained the following curious memoranda, and however little they are deserving of credit, it is necessary the reader should be put in full possession of their contents. In this, as in every similar instance, instead of quoting a document by fragments, I shall insert it entire, and refer to it where necessary. A small part of Aubrey's narrative relates to Shakespeare's early life, but the reader will be enabled to judge much better of the value of the evidence by having it before him at once, than if I were merely to quote it as occasion served :—

      Mr. William Shakespear was borne at Stratford upon Avon in the county of Warwick ; his father was a butcher, and I have been told heretofore by some of the neighbours that when he was a boy he exercised his father's trade, but when he kill'd a calfe he would doe it in a high style, and make a speech. There was at that time another butcher's son in this towne, that was held not at all inferior to him for a naturall witt, his acquaintance and coetanean, but dyed young. This Wm., being inclined naturally to poetry and acting, came to London I guesse about 18, and was an actor at one of the play-houses, and did act exceedingly well. Now B. Johnson was never a good actor, but an excellent instructor. He began early to make essayes at dramatique poetry, which at that time was very lowe, and his playes tooke well. He was a handsome well shap't man, very good company, and of a very readie and pleasant smooth witt. The humour of . . . . . the cunstable, in Midsomer Night's Dreame, he happened to take at Grendon in Bucks, which is the roade from London to Stratford, and there was living that constable about 1642, when I first came to Oxon. I thinke it was Midsomer night that he happened to lye there. Mr. Jos. Howe is of that parish, and knew him. Ben: Johnson and he did gather humours of men dayly whereever they came. One time, as he was at the tavern at Stratford super Avon, one Combes, an old rich usurer, was to be buryed, he makes there this extemporary epitaph,
Ten in the hundred the devill allowes,
But Combes will have twelve he sweares and vowes ;
If any one askes who lies in this tombe,
Hoh ! quoth the devill, 'Tis my John o' Combe !
p.86 /
      He was wont to goe to his native countrey once a yeare. I thinke I have been told that he left 2 or 300 lib. per annum there and thereabout to a sister. I have heard Sir Wm. Davenant and Mr. Thomas Shadwell (who is counted the best comœdian we have now) say that he had a most prodigious witt (v. his Epitaph in Dugdale's Warw.), and did admire his naturall parts beyond all other dramaticall writers. He (Ben Johnsons Underwoods) was wont to say that he never blotted out a line in his life ; sayd Ben Johnson, "I wish he had bloted out a thousand." His comœdies will remaine witt as long as the English tongue is understood, for that he handles mores hominum : now our present writers reflect so much upon particular persons and coxcombeities, that twenty yeares hence they will not be understood. Though, as Ben Johnson sayes of him that he had but little Latine and lesse Greek, he understode Latine pretty well, for he had been in his younger yeares a schoolmaster in the countrey. From Mr. . . . . . Beeston.

      The authority of Mr. Beeston, which is here quoted, does not refer to the whole account, but only to the last paragraph, which seems to have been added after the other part of the manuscript had been written. This circumstance is of importance, and worth careful notice, for it explains in some measure the inconsistency in the two accounts of Shakespeare's having been a butcher and a schoolmaster in his youth. Aubrey put down the first story as he heard it, or as he thought he had heard it, and this Mr. Beeston told him some time afterwards the poet had occupied himself in scholastic duties. This of course is also noted down, and if Aubrey had been told a dozen more accounts, we should also have had them recorded in the same farrago of unsubstantial gossip. The only safe plan of dealing with a writer of this mischievous class is to read, be amused, then examine his inconsistencies, and believe nothing.*

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    *
  This might be abundantly illustrated from Aubrey's works, e. g. " Anno 1670, not far from Cyrencester, was an apparition. Being demanded whether a good spirit or a bad, returned no answer, but disappeared with a curious perfume and most melodious twang."—Miscellanies, ed. 1696, p. 67.
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Aubrey's narrative must be considered as exhibiting very indistinctly and imperfectly the floating Shakespearian traditions of his time, and little more. It is sufficiently evident the poet's father was not a butcher ; but it is a p.87 / singular circumstance that the parish clerk of Stratford in 1693, then more than eighty years old, asserted that Shakespeare was bound apprentice to that trade.*  This we have on unimpeachable authority, and it shows whence the first part of Aubrey's account was originally obtained. It shows more than this ; for, however it may shock our fancy, it cannot be denied but that the best authority for the nature of the profession that Shakespeare was first engaged in exhibits him occupied under no poetic circumstances, unless killing a calf "in a high style" can be so interpreted. This authority was a native of Stratford, in a position that argues him likely to have been well informed, whose memory could most probably date back with accuracy from a time when the history of the case was well known. On April 10th, 1693, a person of the name of Dowdall addressed a small treatise in the form of a letter to Mr. Edward Southwell, endorsed by the latter "Description of severall places in Warwickshire," in which he gives the following account of Shakespeare, including information nowhere else to be met with :—†

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    *
  Malone discovered a notice of Thomas Shakespeare, a butcher, living at Warwick in 1610, and it is barely possible the tradition may have originated from the trade of that person.
    †   The original manuscript is in my possession, and an account of it may be seen in Thorpe's Catalogue of MSS. for 1836, p. 395. It is of great curiosity as one of the earliest independent authorities for the life of Shakespeare. It was published in 8vo. 1838, under the title of ' Traditionary Anecdotes of p.88 / Shakespeare ;'  but as the orthography was modernized, and several lines omitted, besides many inaccuracies, I am well pleased to have the opportunity of giving a faithful copy of that portion of it which relates to our poet.
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p.87 /

      The first remarkable place in this County that I visitted was Stratford super Avon, where I saw the effigies of our English tragedian Mr. Shakspeare ; parte of his epitaph I sent Mr. Lowther, and desired he would impart it to you, which I finde by his last letter he has done : but here I send you the whole inscription.

Just under his Effigies in the wall of the chancell is this written.

      Judicio Pylum, genio Socratem, arte Maronem,
      Terra tegit, populus mœrett, Olympus habet.
Stay, passenger, why goest thou by soe fast ?
Read, if thou canst, whome envious death hath plac't
p.88 /
Within this monument : Shakspeare, with whome
Quick nature dyed ; whose name doth deck the tombe
Far more then cost, sith all that he hath writt
Leaves liveing art but page to serve his witt.
Obii A. Dni. 1616.     
Ætat. 53, Die 23 Apr.

Neare the wall where his monument is erected lyeth a plaine free stone, underneath which his bodie is buried with this epitaph, made by himselfe a little before his death.
Good friend, for Jesus sake forbeare
To digg the dust inclosed here !
Blest be the man that spares these stones,
And curs't be he that moves my bones !
The clarke that shew'd me this church is above 80 years old ; he says that this Shakespear was formerly in this towne bound apprenti[c]e to a butcher, but that he run from his master to London, and there was received into the playhouse as a serviture, and by this meanes had an oppertunity to be what he afterwards prov'd. He was the best of his family, but the male line is extinguishd : not one for feare of the curse abovesaid dare touch his grave-stone, tho his wife and daughters did earnestly desire to be layd in the same grave with him.

      It was probably somewhere about the same period that Betterton the actor collected the biographical particulars on which Rowe founded his Life of Shakespeare in 1709, the latter informing us that "his veneration for the memory of Shakespeare engaged him to make a journey into Warwickshire on purpose to gather up what remains he could of a name for which he had so great a veneration."  Rowe is altogether silent respecting the tradition above alluded to, but he gives a very intelligible account of Shakespeare's youth. "His father," he says, "who was a considerable dealer in wool, had so large a family, ten children in all, that though he was his eldest son, he could give him no better education than his own employment. He had bred him, it is true, for some time at a free-school, where, it is probable, he acquired what Latin he was master of ; but p.89 / the narrowness of his circumstances, and the want of his assistance at home, forced his father to withdraw him from thence, and unhappily prevented his further proficiency in that language." After some general observations, Rowe proceeds to add, that, "upon his leaving school, he seems to have given entirely into that way of living which his father proposed to him ; and in order to settle in the world after a family manner, he thought fit to marry while he was yet very young."  There is no more consistent way of unravelling the confusion produced by these conflicting accounts than by repeating the conjecture made at p.47, founded on the glimpses of truth in the preceding chaos, and the circumstances of Shakespeare's father as exhibited by the numerous extracts I have given from the Stratford records.
      Shakespeare was certainly educated at the free-school at Stratford; for, even had we no direct evidence to that effect, when we consider his father's position in the corporation during his youth, we should most undoubtedly make the same assertion. Stratford had had the advantage of a free-school from a very early period, and Edward VI in 1553 granted a charter,* in which it was ordered from thenceforth to be called The King's New School of Stratford upon Avon.

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    *
  "We by virtue of these presents, create, erect, found, ordain, make, and establish a certain free grammar school, in the said town of Stratford upon Avon, to consist of one master or teacher hereafter for ever to endure, and so we will and command by these presents to be established and inviolably to be observed for ever—and that the said school, so by us founded, created, erected and established, shall for ever be commonly called, named and styled, The King's New School of Stratford upon Avon ; and that in the same school there shall be a master or pedagogue to be named and appointed from time to time by the aforesaid Duke of Northumberland, his heirs and assigns, Lords of the Borough of Stratford upon Avon for the time being, which master or pedagogue so named or appointed shall be called, named, and styled by the name of Master or Pedagogue of the Free School of Stratford upon Avon."—Charter, 28 Jun. 7 Edw. VI.
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I have not discovered any account of the method or course of education in this school ; but a person of the p.90 / name of Willis, who was born in the same year with Shakespeare, describes the manner adopted at a similar free-school at Gloucester, in his work entitled 'Mount Tabor,' 1639, p. 101, and a similar course was no doubt in vogue at Stratford :—

Upon an accident to me, when I was a schoole-boy.
      Before Master Downhale came to be our master in Christ-school, an ancient citizen of no great learning was our schoolmaster, whose manner was to give us out severall lessons in the evening, by construing it to every forme, and in the next morning to examine us thereupon ; by making all the boyes in the first forme to come from their seates and stand on the outsides of their desks, towardes the middle of the schoole, and so the second forme, and the rest in order, whiles himself walked up and down by them, and hearing them construe their lesson one after another ; and then giving one of the words to one, and another to another (as he thought fit) for parsing of it.   Now, when the two highest formes were dispatched, some of them, whom we called prompters, would come and sit in our seates of the lower formes, and so being at our elbowes, would put into our mouths answers to our masters questions, as he walked up and downe by us ; and so by our prompters help we made shift to escape correction, but understood little to profit by it ; having this circular motion, like the mil-horse that travels all day, yet in the end finds himselfe not a yard further then when he began.
      I, being thus supported by my prompter, it fell out one day that one of the eldest schollers and one of the highest forme fell out with mee upon occasion of some boyes-play abroad ; and in his anger, to doe mee the greatest hurt hee could (which then he thought to be to fall under the rod) he dealt with all the prompters, that none of them should helpe me, and so (as he thought) I must necessarily be beaten. When I found myselfe at this strait, I gathered all my wits together (as we say), and listned the more carefully to my fellowes that construed before me, and having also some easie word to my lot for parsing, I made hard shift to escape for that time. And when I observed my adversaries displeasure to continue against me, so as I could have no helpe from my prompters, I doubled my diligence and attention to our masters construing our next lesson to us ; and observing carefully how in construction one word followed and depended upon another, which with heedfull observing two or three lessons more, opened the way to shew me how one word was governed of another in the parsing ; so as I needed no prompter, but became able to bee a prompter myselfe ; and so the evill intended to mee by my fellow-scholler, turned to my great good.
      Let all those who have found the like gracious worke towards themselves (as many have in matters of more moment, if they observe it), come joyne with me in praising the Lord for the same, whose Providence governeth all things, and Who doth powerfully declare Himselfe to bee the onely true God, by such over-ruling the powers of darknesse, and the malicious and evill inten-
p.91 / tions of men, bringing light out of darknesse, good out of evill, life out of death, and making all things worke together for the good and comfort of them that feare him.

      Latin was taught in all the free-schools of any note at that period. Dr. Forman, describing an ignorant minister, says of him, "he could read English well, but he could noe Lattine more then the singell accidens, and that he lerned of his too sonnes that went daily to a free scolle;"*  and the Doctor himself says he learned Latin when he was bedfellow to "on Gird of Kirton that wente every dai to the free scole."

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    *
  MSS. Ashmole 208, written about 1600.
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Ben Jonson's testimony seems to me in favour of Shakespeare's having received a proper education, "though thou hadst small Latine and lesse Greeke;" implying that he was not, as Jonson was, a scholar in the strict sense of the term, but that he certainly had some knowledge of those languages. Had Shakespeare not been educated at the free-school, Jonson would have had to tell us of his "no Latin and no Greek;" and W. Towers, who wrote some commendatory verses to Cartwright's Comedies, 8vo. 1657, referring to Jonson's celebrated remark, changes it to "little Latin and no Greek." The passage is too curious not to be given entire :—

Thy skill in wit was not so poorely meek
As theirs, whose little Latin and no Greek
Confin'd their whole discourse to a street-phrase,
Such dialect as their next neighbour's was ;
Their birthplace brought o' th' stage, the clown and quean
Were full as dear to them as Persian scean.
Thou (to whom ware, thus offer'd, smelt as strong
As the clown's foot) hadst led thy muse along
Through all learn'd times and authors ; thy rich pen
Travers'd more languages than they read men ;
They but to Spain or Italy advance
The leg, or shrugg, or to our neighbour France ;
Thy universall genius did know
The whole world's posture, and mixt idioms too :
p.92 /
But these, as modern faculties, thy soul
Rear'd higher up, learnt only to controul ;
In abler works and tongues yet more refin'd,
Thou wedgd'st thyself, till they grew to thy mind ;
They were so wrapt about thee, none could tell
A difference, but that Cartwright did excell !

      If this applies chiefly to Shakespeare, as would appear from the allusion just mentioned, it offers a curious argument in favour of his knowledge of European languages. The whole is directed against a dramatist who drew chiefly from native "humours," and continental inventions. That he was acquainted with Italian sufficiently appears from the very curious entry relating to Twelfth Night in Manningham's Diary, 1602 ; and I know not whether it has been observed that the name of one of his characters, Pistol, is taken from the Italian pistólfo, translated by Florio, ed. 1611, p. 384, "a roguing beggar, a cantler, an upright man that liveth by cosenage." There can be no reasonable doubt of the fact that Shakespeare was a well-informed man, but, as I have before stated, there is a strong probability in favour of Rowe's assertion, that he was removed from school before he had attained a great proficiency in the learned languages.
      It would be a very difficult task to identify the exact position of the room in which Shakespeare was educated,*  yet the subject is one worthy of local investigation.

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    *
  The schoolmaster had a salary of £20 a year. "Memorandum, there is a vicare and a scolemaster that have a stipend of xx.li. by the yere graunted by the Kinge to eyther of them, and the bailief and burgesses of Stratford are to pay the same yerelie stipendes out of the landes that were geven them by the Kinge, and the Earle had the nominatinge and appoyntinge of them bothe, and nowe her Majestie."—MS. at Carlton Ride. In 1585, Sur Wylliam Gylbarte was assistant master at a salary of £10 per annum.
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From an entry in the Corporation Books in 1595, it appears that the school had then been kept in the chapel of the guild, but from several entries in the Chamberlains' accounts I conclude this was only a temporary arrangement. In the p.93 / accounts for 1568, mention is made of the scole, the olde scole, and the soller over the scole. This last entry would alone seem to prove that the school was not then in the chapel, but in another building, perhaps adjoining it :—

The charge or receptes.
   Item, of John Sadler for one chymney solde to hym which stode in the gylde
kytchyn     -          -          -          -          -         -          -          -          -          iij.li.  x.s.
Allowance.
   Inprimis, payd to Hugh Aunge for repayryng of the scole
Item, for dressyng and swepyng the scole house      -          -
Item, payd to Mr. Lewes for the Quenes carryage     -          -
Item, payd to John Tyler for groundesellynge in the olde scole
Item, for wyne at the Bere         -          -          -          -          -
Item, for takyng downe the soller over the scole       -          -
Item, payd to Mr. Tyler towardes the reparacion of the pyllorye
-
-
-

-
-

-       x.s.
-    viij.d.
-    xvj.s.
-       ij.s.
-       ij.s.
-     xij.d.
xviij.s. viij.d.

      The passion of the multitude for the exhibition of personal relics of great men has led to the attribution of the title of "Shakespeare's desk" to an unwieldy article which may have been the schoolmaster's throne some two centuries ago. If every scholar had had so extensive a table for his initiatory literary labours, Stratford itself would scarcely have held the pupils and their desks. The supposititious relic has been perpetuated by Mr. Fairholt, who has, however, compensated for this want of authenticity by giving us a sketch of the schools as they were only some eight years ago, "approached by an antique external stair, roofed with tile, and up which the boys had ascended from the time of Shakespeare ;" and lamentable it is that so characteristic a fragment of the olden Stratford should now be for ever lost. This author evidently adopts the most probable supposition that the occupation of the chapel as a school about 1594, mentioned in the record above quoted, was only temporary ; and yet, were not my belief too well armed against the reception of personal allusions in Shakespeare's works, I should be almost inclined to admit the p.94 / possibility of a sly notice of his schoolmaster,*  when Malvolio is described as most villanously cross-gartered, "like a pedant that keeps a school i' the church."

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    *
  The locality of the schoolmaster's house in 1590 is seen from the following curious indenture:—
      This indenture made the xxv.th daye of Merche, in the xxxij.th yere of the raigne of oure soveraigne Ladye Elizabeth, by the grace of God of England, France and Ireland Queene, defendor of the faithe, &c. Betwene the bailiff and burgesses of the boroughe of Stratford upon Avon in the com. of Warr. of thone partie, and Alexander Aspinall of the same towne and countye scholemaster of the other partie, Witnesseth that the seyd bailyffe and burgesses for divers good and reasonable consideracions them speciallye movinge, have demised and to ferme letten, and by these presentes doe demise and to ferme lett, unto the seyd Alexander Aspinall, all that theire tenemente and romes of howsinge scituate and beinge within the chapell yarde of Stratford afforeseyd, withe the cole howsse and garden theireunto adjoyned, which late were in the tenure or occupacion of Edwarde Tyler and Ales Burford wydo, To have and to hold the seyd tenemente, romes of howsinge, withe the cole-howse and garden afforeseyd, to the seyd Alexander Aspinall, his executors and assignes, frome the daye of the date hereof unto the full ende and terme of twentye and one yeares from thence next insuinge fully to be complete and ended, yeldinge and payinge therefore yerely duringe the seyd terme unto the seyd bailiffe and burgesses and their successors ffourtie shillinges of currante English money at the feastes of the Nativitie of St. John Baptist, St. Michell the archangell, the Nativitie of our Lord God, and the Annunciacion of the blessed Virgen Marye, by even porcions ; Provided alweys that yf yt shall fortune the seyd yearely rente of ffourtie shillinges to be behinde and unpayd in parte or in all after any of the seyd feast dayes of payment in whiche yt ought to be payd by the space of tenne dayes (and lawfully demaunded) that then and frome thenceforth yt shall and maye be lawfull to and for the seyd bailiffe and burgesses and theire successors into the seyd demised premisses wholly to reenter and the same to have againe repossed and enjoye, as in their former estate, and the seyd Alexander Aspinall, his executors administrators and assignes, frome the same clerely to expell put out and remove, this present indenture of demise or any thinge herein conteyned to the contrarye thereof in any wise notwithstandinge. Provided alsoe that yf the seyd Alexander Aspinall his executors or administrators doe at any tyme hereafter bargaine sell asigne over or departe with his or their estate right title or interest in or to the demised premisses to any person or persons whatsoever, witheout the especiall license and consent of the seyd bailiffe and burgesses and their successors, or the more parte of them for the tyme beinge, first had and obteyned in writtinge (unlesse yt be the seyd bailiffe and burgesses and their successors) that then this presente indenture and everye clause sentence article and agrement herein conteyned, shall cease determine and become utterly voyd to all ententes and purposes whatsoever, any thinge herin conteyned or mencioned to the contrarye thereof in any wise notwithstandinge ; and the seyd Alexander Aspinall covvenanteth and granteth, for himselfe his executors administrators and assignes, to and with the seyd bailiffe and burgesses and their successors by these presentes the seyd demised premisses with the appurtenaunces at his and their proper costes and charges shall well and sufficiently repayre mainteyne and kepe in all maner of reparacions, when and often as nead shall requier duringe the seyd terme, and the same soe well and sufficiently repayred maynteyned and kepte in the ende of the seyd terme shall leave and yeld up unto the seyd bailiffe and bur-
p.95 / gesses and theire successors. In wittnes whereof to the one parte of this indenture remayninge withe the seyd Alexander Aspinall the seyd bailiffe and burgesses have put their comon seale, and to the other parte of the same indenture remayninge with the seyd bailiffe and burgesses the seyd Alexander Aspinall hath put his seale the daye and yere first above-written.
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p.94 / The p.95 / chapel of the Guild, close to the old town-hall, is a plain but good structure in the architectural style of the reign of

Interior of the Chapel of the Guild, Stratford Upon Avon.  Published size 7.1cm wide by 5.7cm high.

Interior of the Chapel of the Guild.


Henry VII. The chancel is of greater antiquity, and was apparently the only portion of the more ancient building suffered to remain when Sir Hugh Clopton rebuilt the chapel. In this building it has been supposed that Shakespeare received his education, and, however much that may be doubted, still is it connected with his history, for here has been from time immemorial a pew appropriated to the owner of New Place, and in that chapel Shakespeare after 1597 would listen to the ministers of the reformed religion.
      When Shakespeare was a boy, the bailiff and aldermen of Stratford encouraged the exhibition of dramatic performances in their ancient town. The accounts of the chamberlains contain several notices of such performances, but there were no doubt many others not mentioned in those documents. Willis,* who was Shakespeare's contemporary, and born in

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    *
  Mount Tabor, 12mo. Lond. 1639, p. 110.
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p.96 /

the same year as the poet, informs us that "when players of enterludes come to towne, they first attend the mayor, to enforme him what noble-mans servants they are, and so to get licence for their publique playing ; and if the mayor like the actors, or would shew respect to their lord and master, he appoints them to play their first play before himselfe and the aldermen and common counsell of the city ; and that is called the mayors play, where every one that will comes in without money, the mayor giving the players a reward as hee thinks fit, to shew respect unto them."   We cannot infer from this curious notice that every company who obtained permission to play were so honoured by the mayor or bailiff, and there can be little danger in believing that no year passed in Stratford, during the youth of Shakespeare, without theatrical amusements. No one then can be at a loss to discover facilities in the way of the poet's imbibing a taste for the science in which he became so great a master ; but there is a probability to be founded on entries in the accounts above mentioned, tending to exhibit Shakespeare's father as an especial patron of the stage.*

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    *
  There can be no doubt that much depended in these matters on the personal taste of the bailiff. In 1617, notwithstanding the strict orders the corporation had issued against the performance of plays, the bailiff of the year gave his sanction to companies of players and showmen.
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The first companies who had the honour of publicly exhibiting their plays in the hall were so favoured when John Shakespeare was bailiff, in 1569, William being then five years of age, and in all likelihood a spectator at the performances. We hear no more of them till 1573, when Lord Leicester's players visited the town, and in 1576 two companies are mentioned, those of the Earls of Warwick and Worcester. It may also be mentioned that Stratford was frequently favoured with the appearance of shows and exhibitions, a circumstance perhaps recollected by Shakespeare, when, p.97 / he ridiculed the passion of the English for sights of that nature. From that period till 1587, players seem constantly to have visited Stratford. In the year last mentioned occur two notices of the Queen's players, a company to which Shakespeare is known to have belonged in November, 1589, and we may submit, with considerable probability, that he was connected with it in the former year. I do not know whether the possible circumstance of his having previously joined one or more of the travelling provincial bodies of comedians has ever been noticed by any of his biographers, but there has been from time immemorial a tradition preserved at Leicester that Shakespeare performed in the Guildhall of that city. Certain it is that Leicester was a favorite town with our early actors, and Mr. Thompson, of that city, informs us that staples in the beams of the old hall are still pointed out as having been used by them for suspending their scenery.
      The accounts of the Chamberlains, to which I have just referred, give us an insight into the manners of the times and a view of Stratford people and their habits in those days, not afforded by documents of a more imposing character. When we read that in the year 1564 two shillings were "payd for defasyng ymage in the chappell," a history is at once exposed of the spirit which actuated the local rulers, and the tendency of their crusade against the harmless monuments of the ancient belief, no exercise of taste being suffered to interfere with what was considered a religious duty. If we wished to bring Stratford to our minds as it existed in Shakespeare's time, we could not adopt a more royal road than a perusal of these accounts affords. There was the cucking-stool, that barbarous warning for female scolds, and there were, of course, the stocks. "He has sat in the stocks all night, poor gallant knave ;" a punishment by no means unusual at Stratford, and curiously illustrated p.98 / by the MS. printed at p. 24. The entertainments given to Sir Thomas Lucy, and other persons of influence, unfold a system of conciliation unknown in modern times. Wine, cakes, and sugar, were provided "to make Syr Fowcke Grevell drynke ;" and in 1598 the sum of £2 was paid him "for nothing !"  Among the places of amusement the butts and bowling-alley are most frequently alluded to. Another source of minute information is afforded in the list of payments made to the Chamberlains for the privilege of having the "great bell" rung at deaths or funerals. Thus, in 1617, four-pence was paid "at the death of Thomas Quyniis child," Shakespeare Quiney, one of the poet's grandsons. Unfortunately no such accounts for the previous year have been preserved, or we might have expected to find a like memorial of the great dramatist. How often in these researches have we to record that the most interesting documents have perished !
      Our readers will understand the force of these remarks far better by a perusal of some of the more curious notices exactly as they occur in the original account-books of the Chamberlains, still preserved at Stratford ; and I have thought it better to give them in chronological order, and all of them together, rather than extract such passages separately as might be required for our discussions. They will, I think, be found extremely useful in many arguments in which the habits of Shakespeare's neighbours and contemporaries become subjects of careful analysis and consideration.

1543. [Accounts of Richard Coton and Thomas Gilbard, 22 Mar. 34 Hen.
    VIII.]    Item, payd Whytley for kepyng the alter          -            
iij.s. iij.d.
1545. Item, payd to Thomas Whytley for kepyng Sent Georg alter, viij.d.
Item, payd for scowryng Sent Georg harnes         -         -          - ij.s. x.d.
1547 Payd for scowryng Sent George harnes         -         -          -          - ij.s. viij.d.
Item, to Walter for rydyng Sent George         -         -          -          - vj.d.
Item, to hym that bare the dragon         -         -          -          -         - iiij.d.
p.99 /
1550 Payd for a book of the actes*       -         -          -          -         -          - xv.d.
1555. Money payed upon receyt.
Imprimis, payed for the scouringe of the harnes and settinge hit
    on the mans backe      -         -          -         -          -         -          -
ij.s. x.d.
It. for letheringes for the harnes               -         -          -          - viij.d.
It. for bearinge the dragon and wearinge seynt Gorges harnes, ij.s.
It. a dosyn of poyntes for the harnes                -         -          -          - ij.d.
Item, payd for dressynge the dragon, and for bering the dragon, and
    weryng Seint George harnes on Holy Thursday               -
ij.s. viij.d.
Payd for gune powder                -         -          -          -          -          - iiij.d.
Payd for scowrynge Seint George harnes             -         -          -          - ij.s.
1556 Payd to iij. men for berynge the dragon and Sent George harnes, ij.s.
1569 Item, to Mr. Balyf that nowe ys †             -         -          -          - xiiij.s.
Item, payd to the Quenes pleyers             -         -          -          - ix.li.
Item, for the Quenes provysyon             -         -          -          - iij.s, iiij.d.
Item, to the Erle of Worcesters pleers            -         -          -          - xij.d.
Item, to Peter Starkye for undersettyng Mother Gylles howse,            - xij.d.
1570 Item, we praye allowaunce of money delivered to Mr. Shaxpere
   at sundrie times             -         -          -          -          -          -          -
vj.li.
Item, paied to Humfrey Getley for mendinge of the stoxe            - xij.d.
Item, paied for the timber of the same stoxe            -            -             - xij.d.
Item, paied to the smithe for iron work of the same stoxe            - ij.s. iiij.d.
Item, paid Viland for diginge of the plume trees            -            - ij.d.
1572 To the Quenes provision            -            -             -             - vj.s. viij.d.
1573 Paid the cutler for britchinge of a gune and makinge pynnes to the
   same            -            -             -             -             -             -
ij.s. vj.d.
Paid to Mr. Bayly for the Earle of Lecesters players            -            - v.s. viij.d.
1576 Paid Mr. Hill for the agrement with the informer havinge the benefitt
   of the statute for wearinge of cappes            -            -             -
x.s. viij.d.
Paid, for mendinge the docke stoole two elles            -            - xij.d.
Paid, for the stoll and thinges to mende it withall            -            - vj.d.
Paid, for a cocke for to sett on the stoole            -            -             - viij.d.
Geven my lord of Warwicke players            -            -             -             - xvij.s.
Paid the Earle of Worceter players            -            -             -             - v.s. viij.d.
1577 Paid when the mouster was here for a gaune and halfe of sacke iiij.s.
Paide to Simon Bidile for dressinge the bowes at the mouster viij.d.
Paid to my lord of Leyster players            -            -             -             - xv.s.
Paid to my lord of Wosters players            -            -             -             - iij.s. iiij.d.
1578 Item, to John Smith for a pottell of wine and a quarterne of sugar
   for Sir Thomas Lucy            -            -             -             -             -
xvj.d.

---------------------------
    *
  A copy of the Statutes, fol. Lond. 1543, is still preserved in the Council Chamber, and may be the book here alluded to.
    †   This entry relates to John Shakespeare, who was bailiff at the time.
---------------------------

p.100 /

1579. Paid to William Evans for scowringe of the George Armour    -        - iiij.d.
Item, paid to my Lord Straunge men the xj.th day of February at the
   commaundement of Mr. Bayliffe     -        -
v.s.
Paid at the commaundement of Mr.Baliffe to the Countys of Essex
   plears     -        -
xiiij.s. vj.d.
1580. Paid for a drinking that was bestowed on them that bare the armor
   before the justices    -        -
xx.d.
Paid to the Earle of Darbyes players at the commaundement of Mr.
   Baliffe    -        -
viij.s. iiij.d.
1581. Paid to the Earle of Worcester his players    -        - iij.s. iiij.d.
Paid to the L. Bartlett his players    -        - iij.s. ij.d.
1582. Payed to Henry Russell for the Earle of Worcesters players    -        - v.s.
1583. Yt ys agreed that the chamberleins shall pay Davy Jones
   towardes his expenses at Whytsontyde last.
xiijs. iiij.d.
Payd to Mr. Alderman that he layd downe to the Lord Bartlite his
   players, and to a preacher    -        -
vs.
Payd to the Lord Shandowes players    -        - iijs. iiij.d.
1584. For mendinge the bauldricke of the great bell    -        - iiij.d.
Paid for a quart of secke, a pottell of claret wyne, a quarterne of sugar,
   for Sir Thomas Lucy knight, the xij.th of Januarie, 1583    -        -
ij.s. j.d.
20 May.  A churche ayle graunted to be kept by the churchwarden.
Geven to my lord of Oxfordes pleers    -        - iij.s. iiij.d.
Geven to the Earle of Worceter pleers    -        - iij.s. iiij.d.
Geven to the Earle of Essex pleers    -        - iij.s. viij.d.
1586. Paid for wine and sugar when Sir Thomas Lucie satt in comission for
   tipplers     -        -
xx.d.
Paide to Mr. Tiler for the pleyers     -        - v.s.
1587. Item, paid for mendinge of a forme that was broken by the Quenes
   players     -        -
xvj.d.
Item, gyven to the Quenes players     -        - xx.s.
Item, gyven to my Lo. of Essex players     -        - v.s.
Item, gyven to therle of Leycester his players     -        - x.s.
Item, gyven to another companye     -        - iij.s. iiij.d.
Item, gyven to my Lo. of Staffordes men     -        - iij.s. iiij.d.
1591. Paid for wyne, suger, and cakes, to make syr Fowcke Grevell drynke, xviij.d.
1592. Payd to the Queenes players     -        - xx.s.
1593. Paid more for kidding* woode in the chappell orcharde     -        - x.d.
Paide unto Roger Welshe for carrying three loades of turfes to make
   the buttes     -        -
ij.s.
Paid unto the Queenes players     -        - xx.s.
1594. It. receved of Mr. John Gybbes for elmes in his orchard in Henley
   Lane     -        -
xl.s.

---------------------------
    *
  Tying into faggots.
---------------------------


p.101 /

Itm. at the eatinge of Mr. Grevilles bucke the kepers fee and horse
   hire     -        -
xxx.s. vj.d.
It. a bankett at the Beare for Mr. Grevill     -        - xxxiij.s. ij.d.
It. for peares and walnuttes at Mr. Grevill returne from
   Scottlande, 
ij.s.
1595. Item, for a barne in Elye Streete decayed* with fire     -        - iiij.s.
It. of Robert Willsonne for the Crowne wasted with fire,  xxxiij.s. iiij.d.
It. for sacke and clarett wine for Sir Thomas Lucie and my ladie
   and Mr. Sherife at the Swanne     -        -
iij.s.
It. paid att the Swanne for a quart of sacke and a quartern of sugar†
   burned for Sr Thomas Lucie     -        -
xvj.d.
He prayeth allowance of liij.s. iiij.d. for the rent of the tuythe of
   Litle Wilmecote, for that he coulde not receave yt of Mr. William
   Underhill.
1596. Item, receaved of Mr. Thomas Combs and Mr. Richard Quyney,
   farmers to Raphe Hubande esquier     -        -
xxxiiij.li.
Julii 16 and 17, paid the Queens plairs‡     -        - 10.s.
1597. Item pd. the 20. of January aº. 1596 for wine and sugar that
   Mr. Rogers bestowed on Sir Thomas Lucye and other gent.
vj.s. vj.d.
Payd to Gibbart Charnok the 20th of January 1596, for a quart of
   sake and a quartern of suger bestowed on Sur Edward Grivill
   at Mr. Quinyes     -        -
xvj.d.
And a quart of clarret wine bestowd more the same tyme     -        - x.d.
Payd for a sugerlofe to send to Sur Foke Grivill the 20. of
   January 11 li. 9 ounces at xvj.d. a pound     -        -
xv.s. v.d.
Payd to a man at Mr. Lewes by the appoyntment of Mr. Bayly
   Sturly for the shew of the sytty of Norwiche     -        -
iij.s. iiij.d.
Payd to Edward Ayng the 29th of May, 1597, in mony, to pay for
   wine and suger bestowed of Sur Edward Grivill at the Swann,
vj.s. x.d.
Payd to Mr. Jefferis the 5th of August, 1597, for mony layd out on
   Mr. Underhill shut the som of     -        -
lvj.s. iij.d.
Payd to Mr. Bayly Sturly which he layd out to Mr. Ambrose
   Couper for the chamber shut agaynst Mr. Underhill at
   Hillary terme,
xxix.s. viij.d.
More to him for iij. dayes jurny for Thomas Vigers to serve
   Mr. Underhill at Banbury, at Coventry, and at his
   oune house by Coventry     -        -
iiij.s.
Payd to him for vj. dayes jurny to London to make othe agaynst
   Mr. Underhill and his man     -        -
xij.s.
Payd for foure companyes of players     -        - xix.s. iiij.d.
Payd to Edward Aynge for a quart of sake and a quartern of
   suger bestowed on Sur Thomas Lusy and Mr. Burgon
   at the Swann,     -        -
xxj.d.

---------------------------
    *
  In the old sense of ruined or destroyed. " Comes to decay a day's work," Cymbeline, i. 6.
    †   See 1 Henry IV. act i. sc. 2.
    ‡   It would appear from a very brief note in the paper from which this is taken, that the players of the Earl of Derby and Lord Ogle also visited Stratford the same year.
---------------------------


p.102 /

         It. pd. to Mr. Rymesley, a straunger taken by the Turke, at Mr. Baliffes
   appointment    -        -
v.s.
It. paide to Ravons for sweepinge thee bridge     -        - iiij.s.

Reseved by me William Wyatt for the usse of the camber this yeare, 1598.
         Imprimis Hamlet Sadlar     -        - xxvj.s. viij.d.
Mr. Quine     -        - xxvj.s. iiij.d.
July Shawe     -        - xij.s.
Mr. Jhon Sadlar     -        - xvj.s.
Of Mr. Combes and Mr. Quine     -        - xxxiiij.li.

Accounts 1598.
Pd. to Watton the smith for mending the flitte of the clocke     - iiij.d.
To Jhon Whittcoott iiij. dayes worcke at 9d. daye     -        - iij.s.
Bowght of Hemmings iij. qrs. and halfe of lime     -        - xiiij.s.
Bald Hughes for xj. dayes at 9d.    -        - viij.s. iij.d.

The acountt of Wyllyam Wyatt Chamberlen in this yeare, 1598.
         Pd. to Mr. Smith for wyne and suger when my Lady Grevell cam to
   see our sport     -        -
ij.s. ij.d.
And for iij. cakes the same time     -        - vj.d.
Pd. to Littel Smith for mending the beme of the clocke     -        - iij.d.
Pd. to Sore Fowle Grevell for nothing     -        - xl.s.

Leed out abowtt the gome stoll.
Pd. to Towell for iij. dayes worke of him and his sone     -        - v.s.
Pd. to Thomas Hornebe for ij. pines of iveri     -        - ij.s. j.d.
Pd. to Mr. Willson for stapols lock and hinges     -        - vij.d.
To Grimshawes man for a plank to make whelles    -        - ij.s. iiij.d.
Pd. to Cowell for a planke to make stoll     -        - ij.d.

The acountt of Raffe Lord, 1599.
Imprimis the resetes as folloeth.
     Hamlet* Sadler     -        - xxvj.s. viij.d.
Mr. Richard Quine     -        - xxvj.s. iiij.d.
Wydowe Bathawaye     -        - iiij.s.
annuall rents.
Of Mr. Quine     -        - xij.d.

1600. Item, for a pottell of sack and a pottell of claret and suger and
   symneles and cakes for the justices     -        -
iij.s. xj.d.
It. beestowed in wine and suger at Mr. Sadler his howse x.s.

---------------------------
*
  Spelt Amblett in the accounts for 1602.
---------------------------


p.103 /

1601. Rd. back againe of Mr. Richard Qwyne the 9th of Januarii aº. 1600
   of the xx.s. which hee had of mee     -        -
iiij.d.
Mydsomer tearme.   Payd to Mr. Henrye Wylson, which was sent
   up to Mr. Queneye by on of Mr. Cloptones mene to London    -
ij.li.
1602. It. pd. then for a pinte of sacke and suger at Mr. Bayleefes     - viij.d.
Item, dd.* unto Mr. Greene at London the 8. day of June     - x.s.
Item, paid for two quarts of sacke and two quarts of Rinnishe†
   wyne of that Mr. Bayleefe did give unto Mr. Varney and to
   Mr. Wm. Combes, when the roggs weare taken at Clifford barne
iiij.s.
Item, paid ffor a galland and a pinte of sacke and a galland of
   clarrett wynne, beeinge geeven to Sr Edward Greevyll and Mr.
   Wm. Combes, Mr. Varney, the second of September, 1602     -
vij.s. ij.d.
It. for a statute book to Mrs. Queeny     - ij.s. vj.d.
Paid for two kegges of sturgen and their cariage from London, xliij.s. iiij.d.

Presentment made Jan. 13th, 1603-4.
Item, we do present the greatest part of the inhabytants of this
   towne for wearing theyr repariell contrary to the stattut.
1604. Paid to iiij. men that did keep out of the towne Coventrie
   men for iij. dayes at the great fair     -        -
xj.s. iiij.d.
Paid to Mr. Baliefe for iij. proclamations concerning the
   altering of the name England to Britaine and the seale,
   xxxjº. of Octob.     -        -
iij.s. iiij.d.
Paid to Mr. Baliefe for fishe that the maisters had when they
   went to welcome Sir Tho. Lucie into the countrie. Novemb.
   xvj.
vj.s. viij.d.
1606. Shotery.   Mr. Thomas Combe and Mr. Anthony Nashe
   for the tithe corne and privy tithes    -
xxxiiij.li.
Item to Spenser for amendinge the chappell clocke, and to
   Watton for the ironwoorke aboute the same clocke   -    -
xvj.d.
Item to Greene for makinge the bowlinge aley   -    - xx.s.
Item, for four loades of turves for the bowlinge alley   -    - iiij.s.
Item, to Spenser for joistes for the scolehouse and for worke
   about the same    -
iiij.s. ix.d.
Item, for wine that was geven to Mr. William Combes and
   the Ladi Puckeringe when the were at the colleige    -    -
iij.s. iiij.d.
Item, to Richard Greene and Harrington for watchinge the
   night after the bell was caste   -    -
xij.d.
Item, to Spenser for timber for the bell frame and for plankes
   for the steple floore and his woorke and the bell stocke   -
iij.li. xvj.s. vj.d.
1608. Paied Richard Stanell for tilling the fre skole   -    - xxv.s.
Paied Mistres Qwenye for wine to the chamber in making
   Mr. Baker and Mr. Smith frindes   -    -
iiij.s.

---------------------------
    *
  That is, delivered.
    †   Rhenish.   Cf. Merch. Ven. i. 2 ;  Hamlet, i. 4.
---------------------------


p.104 /

Payd for a pottell of sack and claret wyne that was sent downe
   to the Bear to Sir Edward Grevill    -        -
iij.s. iiij.d.
Paid at Mrs. Queenes when Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Wright
   were maid frendes    -        -
v.s. ij.d.
Paid for three crab-tree seates set in the chappels orchard       - xij.d.
The second of Januarie spent in wyne at the eating of the doe
   at Mr. Balyfes, in muscadyne a pottel, in sack iij. quarts, and
   in claret wyne ij. gawnes, the summe of all    -        -
xj.s. viij.d.
1610. Paid to Mr. Wilson balyfe which he gave to them that killed
   two buckes for their fees    -        -
xij.s.
Paid at the eating of the buck at Mrs. Queenys    -        - xlviij.s. xj.d.
1611. Bestowed in sack and sugar upon Mr. Sherife    -        - xiiij.d.
Paid to goodman Greene for worke done about the bowleing
   allye    -        -
iiij.s. vj.d.
Paid for wyne, sugar, pippyns, and bear, bestowed upon the
   justices when they surveyed the hie way in the bridgtowne    -
v.s.
Paid for beesomes for the Guyld hall and councell house    - j.d.
Paid to the roper beyond the bridge for a new rope to wynd up
   the great poyze of the clocke and two roppe for the great bell
iij.s. j.d.
Paid for a pottell of claret wyne sent to Mr. Greens to
   a gentilman of London their    -        -
xvj.d.
Paid for making cleane the magistrates swerd    -        - xij.d.
Paid for iij. rafters used about the house that must be for the
   scholemaister    -        -
xviij.d.
Paid to Mr. Combes for x. thrave of straw    -        - x.s.
Paid Julyne Shaw for xj. hundred and xx. of tyles, and one
   dosen of crestes    -        -
xxx.s. vj.d.
To Julyne Shaw for ij. peeces of elme that made iiij. mantle-trees, x.s.
1612. Payd for a lock for the stockes    -        - o. j.s. j.d.
Payd for sack and clarryt wyne which was sent to Mr. William
   Combes    -        -
o. v.s. j.d.
1613. Out of Tho. Andrews house.
Mr. Adrian Quieny is to pay to the almespeople iij.s. iiij.d.
   a quarter in the year    -        -
xiij.s. iiij.d.
Mrs. Queeny payeth and saith that hir sonne shall pay out of
   a close at the ffarme steele everie year to the almesfolkes    -
ij.s.
Of Adrian Queeny out of two tenementes in the old towne    - ij.d.
Paid Aprill the first at the signe of the Bear, when the justices
   surveied the armour, for a pottell of sacke and one of claret
   wyne, and halfe a pound of sugar    -        -
iiij.s. ij.d.
Paid to Watton for setting up the hour glasse    -        - iiij.d.
Paid to Henrie Bloome for a flaske, a twichboxe, and a string    - iij.s.
Paid to him for keeping the armour for six monthes    -        - v.s.
Paid to him for looking to the armour the day that the trayned
   souldyers did shew    -        -
xij.d.
Paid to Arthur Duckes for mending the stone bridge    -        - vj.d.
p.105 /
1614. Mis. Elyzabeth Quiney j. tenement    -        - x.s.
Mr. Combs and Mr. Antony Nash to pay for theyr tythe    -        - xxxiiij.li.
It. rec. of Kempe of Warwick    -        - xxx.s.
Item, payed for pottell of sack and on pottell of clarrett wine
   gevene to the Fosteres at the shewe of the trayned men    -        -
iij.s. iiij.d.
Item, to Mr. John Green for hetting a copy of Mr. Will. Combs
   his will    -        -
xviij.d.
And for Mr. Watts assistant schoolemayster his rent pardoned    him    -        - vj.s. viij.d.
1615. Paide for ij. hookes of wood and nailes to set them on the wall
   at the Yelde Hall dore to lay the fier-hooke uppon to be in
   areadinesse,    -        -
ij.d.
Paied for heare to make parget for the walles    -        - ij.d.
1616. Mris. Elyzabeth Quinie j. tenement    -        - vj.s. viij.d.
Of Mris. Quinie her fine    -        - v.li.
Payed to Thomas Quinie for wine and shuger    -        - ij.s. viij.d.
Payed to Mris. Naish for a banket    -        - iiij.s.
1617. Receaved for the grat bell.
Receaved at the death of Mistris Comes    -        - iiij.d.
Receaved at the death of Thomas Quyniis child    -        - iiij.d.
Receaved at the death of Mr. Lane    -        - iiij.d.
Receaved at the death of Mr. Collins    -        - iiij.d.
Receaved at the death of Mr. Adrane Quynie    -        - iiij.d.
Allowed Mr. Bayliffe which was given to a company that came
   with a shew to the towne    -        -
iij.s. iiij.d.
Paid for making clane the bowling ally and laing up the rodes, ij.s. iiij.d.
Paid for mending Mr. Combes gabell    -       - ij.s. vj.d.
Item, per Mr. Bayliff's apoyntment, to a company of players    - v.s.
For a quart of sack sent Mr. Byfeld    -       - j.s.
For ij. trees for the cookstoole    -       - xj.s.
For a quart of sack sent to Mr. Cooper, a preacher    -       - o. o. j.s.
Payde for a coppie of Mr. John Comes will    -       - ix.s. iiij.d.
Payde for to dosen of silke poyntes to give to the boyes at
   the takyng of possession of Mr. Greens howse    -       -
xij.d.
Payd to John Sonnes mayde for making haye    -       - iiij.d.
Payde for three pintes of sack which was beestowed of
   Mr. Langsonne the first nyght hee came    -       -
xviij.d.
Payde on the morrowe at the halle when hee toke his oath,
   to welcome hym, for foure quartes of muskadine    -       -
iiij.s. viij.d.
Payde for a quarte of sacke and a quart of clarett wyne
   beestowed of Mr. Harris for his sermon made heire    -       -
xx.d.
1622. Payd for two quartes of sacke that was sent to a preacher to the
   Lieon that preache heare    -       -
ij.s.
Payd to the kinges players for not playinge in the hall    - vj.s.
Payd Mr. Quyny that was given hime by the compinie    - xxxv.s.
1624. Of Mr. Hall at Ladi day    -       - 8   10   6
p.106 /
To Watton for a chaine for the booke which Mr. Aspinall gave
   to the scoole    -        -
iiij.d.
        For rushes for the chamber*    -        - vj.d.
        Given Mr. Hall in ernest for the tyth    -        - x.s.
1625. A quart of sacke sent to Mr. Smythes at the Crose† for Mr. Warde
   the precher    -        -
j.s.

Old Market Cross, now removed.  Published size 8.3cm wide by 5.1cm high.

Old Market Cross, now removed.

1628. It. to Thomas Hathaway for bred for aight communyanes    - 0    4   0
It. to Richard Chastell for a sugar lofe gyfen to Sr. Thomas Lusy, 0  19   0

   A note of what mony hath bine receved since the 21. of September, 1630, by my father for the poore, for swearing, and other defaults.
It. of one Stubes, a poore man, for swearing    -       - 0   6
It. of a shumaker for tipling    -       - 1   0
It. John Wodward for swearing and abusing the constables    - 2   0
It. of Mr. Quiny for swearing    -       -       -       -       - 1   0

Mr. Anth. Smith his accompt for money for swearing rec. by him, 1631.
It. paid for mending the houses that they brauke when they
   tooke Newell and Gypsy    -       -
1   4
1695. April 16.   Pd. for ale at the White Lyon thankgiveing day    - 1  02   0
Payd Shakespear Hart a bill for glaseing the chappell, Mr. Crofts
   house, Mr. Wills house, the alms houses, and Market House
2  11 11
1717. May 29th.   Gave the morris dansers per Mr. Mayors order    - 5s.

---------------------------
    *
  "Is supper ready, the house trimmed, rushes strewed, cobwebs swept ?"  Taming of the Shrew, iv. 1.
    †   The accompanying woodcut represents the remains of the ancient market cross, used partly as a support for a small structure, as they appeared some years ago. The base of the original stone cross is now preserved in the garden of Mr. Heritage, a builder at Stratford.
---------------------------


p.107 /

      The present appearance of Stratford is essentially different to what it was when these accounts were indited. The ugly and tasteless brick cottages of modern days have taken the place of the picturesque structures of Shakespeare's age ; yet a few years since were there buildings remaining in Henley street, such as the poet himself might have been

Ancient Houses in Henley Street, Stratford upon Avon, 1820. Published size 8.5cm wide by 5.5cm high.

Ancient Houses in Henley Street, 1820.

familiar with. Those represented in the accompanying woodcut were taken down when the new market-house was erected in 1821 ; and others are exhibited on the first page of this book. It is deeply to be regretted that characteristic memorials of this kind should have been suffered to be destroyed. Their place is seldom occupied in a way to make us forget the change, independently of the associations that are thus for ever lost.
      More than a century elapsed after Henley street had been the scene of Shakespeare's youth, before any one recorded the trade that he was originally destined to follow. If we were asked for the best evidence on this subject, the opinion of the parish clerk in 1693 is undoubtedly entitled to the p.108 / preference (supported by Aubrey's random history), "that this Shakespear was formerly in this towne bound apprentice to a butcher." Rowe's assertion that he followed his father's occupation, and dealt in wool, is by no means at variance with this presumed fact. I am not prepared to assent to its truth, but shall be glad if any one will produce better authorities for a contrary opinion. There seems at least to be no reason against it on the ground of disparity of social position, for one of the bailiffs of the town was a butcher, and Shakespeare's sister married a hatter.*  Mr. Collier follows Malone in considering there is sufficient internal evidence in Shakespeare's plays to warrant the belief that he was employed in the office of an attorney after he had quitted the free-school. He says, "proofs of something like a legal education are to be found in many of his plays, and it may be safely asserted that they do not occur anything like so frequently in the dramatic productions of his contemporaries."  Mr. Collier's opinion is entitled to great consideration ; but surely the frequent and correct use Shakespeare made of such terms may have been readily taught by the numerous legal transactions in which his parents were implicated.†

---------------------------
    *
  Richard Quiny, father of Thomas Quiny, Shakespeare's son-in-law, was a mercer. This appears from a deed dated 16 June, 38 Eliz. 1596, preserved in the Council Chamber.
    †   The supposed allusion to Shakespeare in Nash's epistle to Menaphon, 1587, is obviously founded on an incorrect interpretation of the passage, and is certainly no evidence whatever in favour of Malone's opinion.
---------------------------

If biographers of our poet are to accept what is termed the internal evidences of his history to be found in his sonnets and dramas, any given problem might be solved, or any desired result might be obtained. There is not a technical term in Shakespeare's plays the use of which may not be accounted for in some such manner. But another conjecture of Mr. Collier's is more probable. "He had been in his younger yeares," says Aubrey, "a p.109 / schoolmaster in the countrey ;" and this is explained on the supposition that he had been employed by the master of the free-school to aid him in the instruction of the younger boys. We know from several writers that such a course was not unusual, and Dr. Forman tells us of something similar respecting himself.*

---------------------------
    *
  " Howe Simon became a scolmaster before he was eighteen yers old. Simon, percevinge his mother wold doe nothinge for him, was dryven to great extremity and hunger, gave of to be a scoller any longer for lacke of maintenance, and at the priorie of St. Jilles, wher he himself was firste a scoller, ther became he a scolmaster, and taught som thirty boies, and their parentes among them gave him moste parte of his diet. And the money he gote he kept, to the some of som 40s., and after folowinge when he had bin scolmaster som halfe yere and had 40s. in his purse, he wente to Oxford for to get more lerninge, and soe left of from being scolmaster."—MS. Ashmole 208.
---------------------------

Be this as it may, and were Shakespeare really an able scholar, it is probable education was not considered so essential by his father, for Judith Shakespeare was unable to write her own name. The fac-simile here given is copied from a deed executed in December, 1611, in the possession of Mr. Wheler.

Deed executed December, 1611, showing mark of Judith Shakespeare. Published size 7.6cm wide by 1.3cm high.

      We have thus traced Shakespeare, as well as our sources of information will permit, through the first two stages of life, in his nurse's arms, and then the "whining schoolboy, with his satchel and shining morning face." At eighteen years of age he entered on the next,—

                  ————And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow,

the dark eyebrow of Anne Hathaway, a lovely maiden of the picturesque hamlet of Shottery, her cottage within a walk of p.110 / Stratford. To her, most probably, were the earliest efforts of Shakespeare's muse addressed, in terms such as these :

If thy soul check thee that I come so near,
Swear to thy blind soul that I was thy Will,
And will, thy soul knows, is admitted there ;
Thus far for love, my love-suit, sweet, fulfil.

and his love-suit was not rejected. The espousals of the lovers were celebrated in the summer of 1582. In those days betrothment or contract of matrimony often preceded actual marriage,—

A contract of eternal bond of love
Confirm'd by mutual joinder of your hands,
Attested by the holy close of lips,
Strengthened by interchangement of your rings ;
And all the ceremony of this compact
Seal'd in my function by my testimony.

      We need not hesitate in believing that this ceremony was passed through by Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway, and we have the direct testimony of an author of 1543 that in some places it was regarded in all essential particulars as an actual marriage.*  Provided marriage was celebrated in a reasonable time, no criminality could be alleged after the contract had been made. This opinion is well illustrated by a passage in the Winter's Tale, act i, sc. 2, expressive of disgust at one who "puts to before her troth-plight."  Shakespeare's nuptials took place in the latter part of the year 1582, and "on the granting of licences, bond is to be taken that there is no impediment of pre-contract, consanguinity, &c."†

---------------------------
    *
  See Brand's Popular Antiquities, ed. 1841, ii.  57. Compare Claudio's speech in Measure for Measure, act i. sc. 3.
    †   Jacob's New Law Dictionary, fol. Lond. 1762, sig. 5 P.
---------------------------

The bond which was given on the occasion of Shakespeare's intended marriage is still preserved at p.111 / Worcester, and I here give a copy of it, carefully taken from the original document. There is no peculiarity to be observed in it, nor can I agree with Mr. Collier in admitting "that the whole proceeding seems to indicate haste and secrecy." In fact, the bond is exactly similar to those which were usually granted on such occasions, and several others of a like kind are to be seen in the office of the Worcester registry. It is necessary in these discussions to pay attention to the ordinary usages of the period, and the more minutely we examine them, the less necessity will there be in this case for suggesting any insinuation against the character of the poet.*

---------------------------
    *
  Susanna Shakespeare, his eldest daughter, was born in May, 1583. The truth of what I have advanced in the text will appear from the following entries in the Stratford register, the same year in which Shakespeare was married : 1582, June 14, Robert Hawle and Jone Atford ; bapt. Nov. 5, 1582, Elizabeth, daughter to Robert Hawle. Marr. 1582, Oct. 14, John Smith and Mary Masonne ; bapt. Jan. 22, 1582-3, John sonne to John Smith. Mr. Knight's opinion on the subject is fully confirmed by the evidence here adduced. It may be added, that illegitimacy is always carefully noted in the register by the addition of bastard or notha.
---------------------------

      Noverint universi per præsentes nos ffulconem Sandells de Stratford in comitatu Warwici agricolam, et Johannem Rychardson ibidem agricolam, teneri et firmiter obligari Ricardo Cosin generoso et Roberto Warmstry notario publico in quadraginta libris bonæ et legalis monetæ Angliæ solvend. eisdem Ricardo et Roberto hæred. execut. vel assignat. suis, ad quam quidem solucionem bene et fideliter faciend. obligamus nos et utrumque nostrum per se pro toto et in solid. hæred. executor. et administrator. nostros firmiter per præsentes sigillis nostris sigillat. Dat. 28 die Novem. anno regni dominæ nostræ Eliz. Dei gratia Angliæ, ffranc. et Hiberniæ reginæ, fidei defensor. &c. 25º.
      The condicion of this obligacion ys suche, that if herafter there shall not appere any lawfull lett or impediment, by reason of any precontract, consangui­[ni]tie, affinitie, or by any other lawfull meanes whatsoever, but that William Shagspere one thone partie, and Anne Hathwey, of Stratford in the dioces of Worcester, maiden, may lawfully solemnize matrimony together, and in the same afterwardes remaine and continew like man and wiffe, according unto the lawes in that behalf provided :  and, moreover, if there be not at this present time any action, sute, quarrell or demaund, moved or depending before any judge, ecclesiasticall or temporall, for and concerning any suche lawfull lett
p.112 / or impediment :  and, moreover, if the said William Shagspere do not proceed to solemnizacion of mariadg with the said Anne Hathwey without the consent of hir frindes :  and also, if the said William do, upon his owne proper costes and expenses, defend & save harmles the right reverend Father in God, Lord John Bushop of Worcester, and his offycers, for licencing them the said William and Anne to be maried together with once asking of the bannes of matrimony betwene them, and for all other causes which may ensue by reason or occasion therof, that then the said obligacion to be voyd and of none effect, or els to stand and abide in full force and vertue.
Marks and seal to Shakespeare's marriage-bond, 1582. Published size 4.3cm wide by 1.3cm high.

      No entry of Shakespeare's marriage occurs in the Stratford register, and he must therefore have been married elsewhere in the diocese of Worcester, unless we suppose that when the copy of that register was made in 1600, the original entries not being now extant, some may have been accidentally omitted. This conjecture is mentioned with diffidence, for the authenticity of every page of the register up to that period is attested by the signatures of the vicar and churchwardens. It is also possible he was married at a village where the early registers have been lost, for a letter I addressed to the clergy of the parishes in Warwickshire, where those as early as 1582 are preserved, did not succeed in producing the desired information.
      The subsidy rolls mention the Hathaways as residing at Shotterey before the middle of the sixteenth century,*

---------------------------
    *
  The earliest notice of the name I have met with occurs in a MS. of the seventeenth century, in the collection of the late Captain Saunders,—Fuit carta per Willelmum Hathewy facta Willelmo Archer clerico de terris in Overton quæ jacent inter terram Willelmi Gill ex una parte, et terram Willelmi le Archer ex altera parte, quam emit de Rogero Coyle, data anno Domini 1301, et anno Ed. primi xxixº.
---------------------------

and also a John Hathewey of Olde Stretforde, assessed in 1549 in goods of the value of x.li. In a subsidy roll of 1593, p.113 / John Hathwaye of Olde Stratforde is assessed on goods of the value of iij.li.;  and a will dated 1601 mentions Thomas Hathaway, son of Margaret Hathaway of Old Stratford, then deceased. Many mistakes have arisen in considering these families, but there can be little doubt of the fact that Anne Hathaway was the daughter of a person who is described in the Stratford register as Ricardus Hathaway alias Gardner de Shotery. Rowe says that her father was "a substantial yeoman in the neighbourhood of Stratford," and the circumstance of his being the first to record the maiden name of Shakespeare's wife, shows that he had had access to a correct source of information. Two children at least of this Richard Hathaway were born before the Stratford register commences (1558), Bartholomew and Anne. Bartholomew Hathaway,* who afterwards (April, 1610) possessed the Shottery estate, died in 1624, and one of the overseers of his will was Dr. Hall, Shakespeare's son-in-law.

---------------------------
    *
  In a Subsidy Roll, 16 April, 19 Jac. I. 1621, occur the following assessments,—
Old Stratford cum membris.
William Combe esq. in terr.       -       -      -      -    xx.li.   |   iiij.li.
Thomas Combe gen. in terr.     -       -      -      -    iiij.li.   |   xvj.s.
Anthony Nash gen. in bonis     -       -      -      -    iiij.li.   |   xs. viij.d.
Bartholomewe Hathaway in terr.       -      -      -    xx.s.   |   iiij.s.

---------------------------

Lady Barnard, in her will dated 1669, mentions "her kinsman Thomas Hathaway, late of Stratford," whom I suppose to have been a grandson of Richard Hathaway of Shottery, settled at Stratford, and nephew of

The mark of John Hathaway. Published size 6.5cm wide by 1cm high.

Anne Shakespeare. The John Hathaway of Shottery mentioned in the Stratford register in 1626 and 1628, was one of the sons of Bartholomew just alluded to. In 1590, p.114 / Joan Hathaway, the widow of Richard, is found in the list of the customary tenants in the manor of Shottery, as holding land there at a rent of 1 13s. 4d., with fines and heriots,—" Johanna Hatheway vidua tenet per copiam unum mess. et duas virgat. terræ et dim. cum pertinentiis per reddit. per annum xxxiij.s. iiij.d. fin. et harr."  But in this inquiry it should be recollected that Shottery was in the parish of Stratford, a circumstance which Malone has not sufficiently considered. This fact will clear up part of his account of the Hathaways.
      Several particulars of Richard Hathaway's family may be gathered from the registers of Stratford. Among the baptisms, 1559, August 6, Richard Hathaway, and Jan. 4, 1561-2, Richardus filius Richardi Hathaway alias Gardner. If these were the children of the same parents, the first one had probably died in the interval which elapsed between the two baptisms. Again, in the baptisms, Oct. 22, 1563, Caterina filia Richardy Hathaway alias Gardner ; May 9, 1566, Johanna filia Richardi Hathaway alias Gardner de Shotery ; April 12, 1569, Thomas the sonne of Richard Hathaway; Feb. 3, 1574-5, John son to Richard Hathaway ; Nov. 30, 1578, William sonne to Richard Hathaway of Shottrey. The registry of the Court of Record contains the following note of an action he brought against Robert Milles for debt : 7 Dec. 6 Eliz. 1563, Ricardus Hathewey queritur versus Robertum Milles in placito debiti. The registers also contain other notices of persons of the same name, e. g. bapt. June 13, 1562, Thomas filius Gulielmi Hathaway de Bushopton ; Dec. 14, 1573, Richard sonne to John Hathaway ; March 17, 1576-7, Margret daughter to William Hathaway ; Sept. 29, 1577, Anne daughter to Thomas Hathaway ; Dec. 29, 1579, Elizabeth daughter to Thomas Hathaway ; Nov. 1, 1582, Rose daughter to Thomas Hathaway ; Jan. 14, 1583-4, Annys daughter to Bartholmew p.115 / Hathaway ; Feb. 8, 1585-6, John sonne to Bartholmew Hathaway ; Sept. 21, 1586, Thomas sonne to Thomas Hathaway ; March 8, 1589-90, Edmund sonne to Bartholmew Hathaway ; Sept. 15, 1612, Alice filia John

Signature of Bartholomew Hathaway. Published size 7.8cm wide by 1.15cm high.

Hathawaye de Shotterye. Among the burials, April 13, 1558, John sonne to William Hathaway ;  June 4, 1560, Ales Hathaway.*

---------------------------
    *
  A vast number of similar notices might be collected, but it will be found they tend to the conclusion here arrived at. In the registry of the Court of Record, under the date of 21 Dec. 29 Eliz., occurs this entry, " contin. actio inter Johannem Hathawey quer. et Tho. Hathawey def. in placito debiti," one Hathaway proceeding against another for the recovery of a debt. In a list of "the bakers that breake the sisse in bread," Sept. 1615, is Richard Hatheway, p.116 / fined xij.d.; he is also mentioned in a tole-book dated 1646, and a person of the same name is found in a court-roll of the manor of Stratford, 1685. The receipts of the chamberlains of Stratford for 1644, include, "Bridgstreet Ward, Mrs. Hathaway for the Crowne, 00. 08. 04." A family of the name of Hathaway resided at Warwick, as may be gathered from the following entry in the parish register of St. Nicholas,—" 1583, Julii ; undecimo die hujus mensis solemnizatum fuet matrimonium inter Johannem Large et Magdalenam Hathaway hujus parothia."  The register of Aston Cantlowe mentions the marriage of John Hathaway in 1609-10, "the vj. day of ffebruary was maried John Hathaway and Anne Wheyham."  Mr. Wheler possesses a MS. entitled, " The order the fyldes and medows belungynge to Shotterey, and how many acres the farmer showd have lyeng and fletyng," 1636, in which the name of John Hathaway occurs as having been present when the order was made. George Hathewey, of Billesley, is mentioned in the muster for 1569, in the State Paper Office.
---------------------------

p.115 /  Malone discovered that William Wilson, an alderman of Stratford, was married in 1580 to Anne Hathaway of Shottery, so Shakespeare's wife had a name­sake in her native village. The scene of the poet's love-suit,

Anne Hathaway's Cottage, as it appeared in 1825.  Published size 7.5cm wide by 5.5cm high.

Anne Hathaway's Cottage, from an Etching by Rider, 1825.

p.116 /

the residence of the fair object of his early affection, is still pointed out at Shottery, and was undoubtedly the abode of the Hathaways in Shakespeare's time, then a large and well-appointed yeoman's house, now divided into three cottages. It continued in the possession of the Taylors, lineal descendants of the Hathaways, till within the last few years, and the wife of the present occupier of the middle cottage is a grand-daughter of John Hathaway Taylor.
      The late Captain Saunders discovered two precepts in the papers of the Court of Record at Stratford, dated in 1566, which appear to exhibit Richard Hathaway and John Shakespeare on friendly terms. These precepts were issued on the same day on which the brief abstracts are dated in the registry of the court, and while the plaintiffs are respectively the same in the abstracts and precepts, the name of John Shakespeare is substituted in each instance in the latter for that of Richard Hathaway. Although I have not met with any similar instances, yet the only method of explanation is to conclude that Shakespeare became security for Hathaway. It appears that the distringas in each case was afterwards withdrawn.

      11 Sept. 8 Eliz.   Johannes Page queritur versus Ricardum Hatheway de placito detencionis &c. ad valenc. octo librarum.—Johanna Byddoll queritur versus Ricardum Hatheway de placito detencionis &c. ad valenc. xj.li.
p.117 /
Stratford
Burgus.
}    Preceptum est servientibus ad clavem quod distr. seu unus vestrum distr. Johannem Shakespere per omnia bona et catalla
sua, ita quod sit apud proximam curiam de recordo tent. ibidem ad respondend. Johanni Pagge de placito debiti &c. Datum sub sigillo meo xj.mo die Septembris, anno regni Dominæ Elizabethæ, Dei gracia Angl. Franc. et Hibern. reginæ, fidei defenc. &c. octavo.

Stratford
Burgus.
}    Preceptum est servientibus ad clavem quod distr. seu unus vestrum distr. Johannem Shakespere per omnia bona et catalla
sua, ita quod sit apud proximam curiam de recordo tent. ibidem ad respondendum Johanni Byddele de placito debiti, &c. Datum sub sigillo meo xj.mo die Septembris, anno regni Dominæ Elizabethæ, Dei grac. Angl. Franc. et Hibern. reginæ, fidei defenc. &c. octavo.

      This evidence is very important in the question that has been raised respecting the father of Anne Hathaway. The intimacy which probably existed between Richard Hathaway and John Shakespeare at once explains the means through which the two families became connected. The bond sufficiently proves that the marriage must have taken place with the consent of the Hathaways, and the bride's father was most likely present when Sandels and Richardson executed the bond, for one of the seals has the initials R. H. upon it. There can be little doubt that the connexion also met with the approval of Shakespeare's parents, for there was no disparity of means or station to occasion their dissent, and the difference between their ages was not sufficient to raise it into any reasonable obstacle. Nothing can be more erroneous than the conclusions generally drawn from the marriage-bond. Anne Hathaway is there described as of Stratford, but so are the two bondsmen, who, as I shall presently show, were respectable neighbours of the Hathaways of Shottery.*  They are mentioned together as

---------------------------
    *
  Richardson was perhaps related to " William Rychardson of Shotterey," one of the bridge-wardens of Stratford in 29 Hen. VIII. The Stratford registers exhibit several notices of the Richardsons and Sandels, e. g. bapt. May 20, 1574, Rose daughter to John Richardson of Shattery [lit.] ; Nov. 30, 1575, Jone p.118 / daughter to John Richardson ; July 17, 1578, John sonne to John Richardson of Shottrey ; Aprill 24, 1581, William sonne to John Richardson ; March 23, 1583, Mary daughter to ffoulke Sandulls ; Dec. 22, 1583, Mary daughter to John Richardson ; March 17, 1584-5, John sonne to ffowlke Sanduls ; Nov. 27, 1586, ffoulke sonne to John Richardsonne ; May 1, 1587, Thomas sonne to ffowlke Sanduls ; Aug. 17, 1589, Edward sonne to ffowlke Sanduls ; Sept. 7, 1589, John sonne to John Richardsonne ; Sept. 24, 1592, Margareta filia Johanni Richardsonnes ; Oct. 8, 1592, Ralph filius ffowlke Sanduls, &c. A John Richardson, of Norton Lindsey, is mentioned in the King's Bench Rolls for Hilary Term, 29 Eliz.
---------------------------

being bail for a party, in the registry of the Court of Record, 26 April, 29 Eliz. 1587, "Elizabethe Smythe vid. attachiat. fuit per servien. ad clavem ibidem ad respondend. Roberto Parrett in placito debiti, Johannes Richardson de Shottrey et Fulcus Sandells de Shottrey præd. m. pro præd. Elizabeth. &c. concord."  Thus we find that the entire transaction was conducted under the care of Anne Hathaway's neighbours and friends. It has been said that Sandels and Richardson were rude, unlettered husbandmen, unfitted to attend a poet's bridal. They could not, it is true, write their own names, but neither could Shakespeare's father, nor many of the principal inhabitants of Stratford.*  Richardson was a substantial farmer, as appears from the following inventory of his goods made in 1594, his friend Sandels being one of the persons engaged in its compilation.† 

---------------------------
    *
  John Shakespeare could not write, although he was employed to audit the accounts of the corporation, and John Taylor, one of the chamberlains, signs with a mark.
    †He seems to have been often engaged in such matters. There is preserved at Stratford, "The true inventory of Roger Burmans goodes, late of Shottre, in the perish [lit.] of Stratford upon Avon, in the county of Warwycke, husbandman, taken the fyrst day of March in the xxxiij.th yeare of the raygne of our soverayngne lady Elizabeth, by the grace of God Queene of England, ffraunce, and Ierland, Defender of the ffayth, etc. by the discretyon of Steven Burman, ffowcke Sandalls, and John Barber, with others."
---------------------------

The original is preserved at Stratford.

   The tru inventory of the goodes and chattells of John Richardsons, late of Shottre in the perish of Stratford upon Avon, in the countye of Warwycke, decessed, taken the iiij.th day of November, 1594, and in the xxxvj.th yeare of
p.119 /
the rayngne of our Soverayne Lady Elizabeth, by the grace of God Queene of England, Fraunce and Ierland, defender of the ffayth, and by the dyscretyon of Mr. John Gibbs, Mr. John Burman, ffowcke Sandells, John . . . . . . and John Barber.

   Inprimis, his apperrell praysed at    -        - x.s.
   Item, in the hall a table bord, iij. benches, and two cheyres, praysed at vj.s. viij.d.

In the chamber.
   Inprimis, one ffether bed, ij. flocke bedds, ij. boulsters, iij. pillows, ij.
hillyngs, fowr blankets and fowr twellis, at     -        -
l.s.
   Item, thre pere of bedsteds, iij. coffers, and ij. cobbords, praysed at x.s.
   Item, paynted clothes in the chamber     -        - ij.s.
   Item, iiij. pere of fflaxen shetes, iiij. pere of hemp shetes, thre bord
clothes, ij. towells, one table napken, and one pillowebure, at     -        -
xxx.s.

In the saller.
   Item, one cheese bord, xl. smale cheses, and a fewe locks of woll, at xiij.s. iiij.d.

In the kytchyn.
   Inprimis, v. brasse potts, ij. pans, ij. caldrens, one posnet, a skymer,
a drypyng pan, one pere of pot hookes, a brach, a pere of wafer yrons,
a grydyron, pot hanglysh, a fod stone, and a chafferne, at    -       -
xxvj.s. viij.d.
   Item, xij. platters, a sawcer, one salt, iij. candlestyckes, a yewre,
a chaffyng dysh, and ij. pewter potts     -       -
x.s.
   Item, one bruyng lead and a malt myll    -       - x.s.
   Item, iij. lomes, one kyver, iij. barells, a boultyng which, a mouldyng
bord, ij. syves, a strycke, a scuttle, v. disshes, a dosen of trenchers,
v. spones, and an old cobbord, at     -       -
ix.s.
   Item, the wheat, barley, pease, wotes, and hey, in the barns, at     - xl.li.
   Item, the wheat sowed in the fyld at    -       - v.li.
   Item, the tylledge for wheat and barley at     -       - iiij.li.
   Item, fyve kyne, three heyffers, and a bullocke     -       - x.li.
   Item, fowr horses and mares     -       - xl.s.
   Item, vj. swyne praysed at    -       - xxx.s.
   Item, vj. score sheepe and x. shepe at     -       - xij.li.
   Item, thre gese and a gander, xj. hennes, a cocke, two capons, and
iiij. checkyns, at    -       -
vj.s.
   Item, one long cart, and a wayne, ij. tumbrell beds, an oxe plow and
an horse plowe, a pere of harrowes, and one great harrowe, one pere of
draghts, one yolke, and a tawe, with wod and shepe racks at    -       -
l.s.

Summa totalis,  lxxxvij.li.  iij.s.  viij.d.

p.120 /

      The epithet husbandman did not denote that inferior condition, which those who have reasoned on the bond have generally imputed to it. When Robert Myddylton, "pryste and chaunter in the College of Stratford," made his will in 1538, still preserved at Worcester, he named for his executors "William Wyllshay, pryste and vycare of the College of Warwycke, and Thomas Cole, husbandman in Shoterey."  The husbandman of Shottery was, then, not necessarily a "heavy ploughman."  His position in society did no discredit to the part taken by him in Shakespeare's nuptials. If one husbandman could with propriety be a priest's executor, surely another might sign a bond, without the circumstance creating mysterious arguments.
      Anne Hathaway,*  as appears from her monumental inscription in Stratford church, was born in the year 1556, and was therefore eight years older than her husband.

---------------------------
    *
  If Richard Hathaway, who was a dramatist contemporary with Shakespeare, and is frequently mentioned in Henslowe's Diary, was the son of the Richard Hathaway of Shottery, mentioned as born in 1561-2, and the conjecture is not improbable, he would have been brother-in-law to the poet, and perhaps they attached themselves to the stage at the same time. They were, however, engaged by different companies. The original signature from which the following fac-simile was taken is in a MS. at Dulwich College.

Richard Hathaway's signature. Published size 4.8cm wide by 1.7cm high.
---------------------------

With this fact in view, and relying on very uncertain personal allusions in his plays and sonnets, it has been conjectured that Shakespeare's marriage was not productive of domestic happiness. For this opinion not a fragment of direct evidence has been produced, and on equally potent grounds might we prove him to have been jealous, or in fact to have been in his own person the actual representative p.121 / of all the passions he describes in the persons of his characters. But "his wife and daughters did earnestly desire to be layd in the same grave with him," as the clerk informed Dowdall (p. 88) in the year 1693. " Would you desire better sympathy ?"  Then is there the pleasing memorial of filial affection in the chancel of Stratford church, a monument raised by her daughter, which tells us how revered was Anne Shakespeare's memory, and plainly teaches us to infer she possessed "as much virtue as could die." Such a being must have lived happily with the "gentle Shakespeare,"—

Ubera tu, mater, tu lac vitamque dedisti :
Væ mihi !  pro tanto munere saxa dabo.

      In pursuing our inquiries into the history of Shakespeare's life, which must necessarily to some extent be founded on conjecture, it is now necessary to inform the reader that the theft of deer and rabbits was an amusement indulged in by the youths of Shakespeare's time, and although legally punishable, was regarded by the public as a venial offence, not detrimental to the characters of the persons who committed the depredation. Dr. Forman, in his Autobiography, MS. Ashmole 208, speaking of two Oxford students in 1573, " the one of them was Sir Thornbury, that after was bishope of Limerike, and he was of Magdalen College, the other was Sir Pinckney his cossine of St. Mary Halle," proceeds to say, " thes too loved him [Forman] nying welle, and many tymes wold make Simon to goo forth tho Loes, the keper of Shottofer, for his houndes to goe on huntinge from morninge to nighte, and they never studied nor gave themselves to their bockes, but to goe to scolles of defence, to the daunceing scolles, to stealle dear and connyes, and to hunt the hare, and to woinge of wentches, to goe to Doctor Lawrence of p.122 / Cowly, for he had too fair daughters, Besse and Martha." Raynoldes, who wrote against plays in 1599, couples deer-stealing and orchard-robbing together, as offences of the same magnitude. But deer-stealing was not only considered venial but fashionable, as may be gathered from the following passage in the Wizard, a play written about 1640, in the British Museum, MS. Addit. 10306 :

Gentlemanlike !  he nere kept horse
Nor hounds ; you might as soon have got him to
The gallows, as to th’ stealing of a deer :
Since hee has made a journey to London,
Shall have him in the twelvepenny seat at
Playhowses, nere sit in the stage pitt.

      The public records contain many notices of deer-stealing. In 1583, Lord Berkeley issued a bill in the Star Chamber against twenty persons who had hunted deer unlawfully in his forests. The answer of William Weare, one of the defendants, is preserved in the Chapter House, Westminster, xciv. 24, and he confesses having killed a doe, but, notwithstanding that admission, asserts that the proceedings against him were malicious and uncalled for. Fosbroke (Hist. Glouc. i. 125) mentions an anecdote tending to show that respectable persons in the county of Gloucestershire, adjoining Warwickshire, were not ashamed of the practice of stealing deer. Several attorneys and others, " all men of mettall, and good woodmen, I mean old notorious deer stealers, well armed, came in the night-time to Michaelwood, with deer-nets and dogs, to steale deer." Falstaff asks, "Am I a woodman ?"  Can it have been an old cant term for a deer-stealer ?  If so, Falstaff's speech may allude to what is stated in the commencement of the Merry Wives of Windsor. Shakespeare is said, on good authority, to have been implicated in a frolic of this kind, and, although the p.123 / earliest notice of the tale was not penned till nearly eighty years after the death of the poet, yet the person who recorded it resided in a neighbouring county, and being a clergyman, with no motive whatever to mislead, his testimony is of great value. The Rev. William Fulman, who died in 1688, bequeathed his biographical collections to his friend the Rev. Richard Davies, rector of Sapperton, in Gloucestershire, who made several additions to them. Davies died in 1708, and these manuscripts were presented to the library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where they are still preserved. Under the article Shakespeare, Fulman made very few notes, and those of little importance ; but Davies inserted the curious information, so important in the consideration of the deer-stealing story. The following is a complete copy of what the MS. contains respecting Shakespeare, distinguishing the additions made by Davies by italics :

      William Shakespeare was born at Stratford upon Avon in Warwickshire, about 1563-4.  Much given to all unluckinesse in stealing venison and rabbits, particularly from Sr . . . . Lucy, who had him oft whipt and sometimes imprisoned, and at last made him fly his native country to his great advancemt. but his reveng was so great, that he is his Justice Clodpate, and calls him a great man, and that in allusion to his name bore three louses rampant for his arms.  From an actor of playes he became a composer. He dyed Apr. 23, 1616, ætat. 53, probably at Stratford, for there he is buryed, and hath a monument (Dugd. p. 520), on which he lays a heavy curse upon any one who shal remoove his bones. He dyed a papist.

      This testimony has been doubted, because no such character as Clodpate occurs in any of Shakespeare's plays ; but it was a generic term of the time for a foolish person, and that Davies so used it, there can, I think, be little doubt. In the MS. account of Warwickshire, 1693, before quoted, the writer calls the judge of the Warwick assizes Mr. Justice Clodpate, intending to characterize him as an p.124 / ignorant, stupid man. The "three louses rampant" refer to the arms actually borne by Lucy. The "dozen white luces" in the play is merely one of Slender's mistakes.

Seal and autograph of Sir Thomas Lucy. Published size 9.05cm wide by 10.1cm high.

At all events, here we have the earliest explanation of the remarkable satirical allusions to the Lucy family at the commencement of the Merry Wives of Windsor. "I will make a Star-chamber matter of it," says Justice Shallow ;  and we have just seen that the offence of deer-stealing was referred to that arbitrary court.*  "You have beaten my men, killed my deer, and broke open my lodge."  Davies tells us moreover, what we should have believed independently of his authority, that Sir Thomas Lucy was ridiculed under one of his characters. That character is Justice Shallow, and the satire is by no means confined to one play.

---------------------------
    *
  Among the unpublished papers in the Talbot collection is a letter from the Earl of Derby, dated 1589-90, relating to a deer-stealer in Staffordshire, whom he binds over to appear before Lord Shrewsbury, "and at the nexte terme (God willinge) I will call hym into the Starre Chamber to answeere his misdemenors."  In the same MSS. is a letter from the Archbishop of York, 1556-7, relating to "divers evill disposed personnes who entred into the same parke by night season with grehoundes and bowes entending to destroy our deare."
---------------------------

There can be little doubt but that the exquisite descriptions of a country justice of peace in p.125 / the Second Part of Henry IV. are in some degree founded upon Sir Thomas Lucy. When Falstaff says, " if the young dace be a bait for the old pike, I see no reason, in the law of nature, but I may snap at him,"  we see a direct personal allusion, a luce being merely a full-grown pike. Harrison, in his Description of England, p. 224, says, "the pike, as he ageth, receiveth diverse names, as from a frie to a gilthed, from a gilthed to a pod, from a pod to a jacke, from a jacke to a pickerell, from a pickerell to a pike, and last of all to a luce."  Shallow's declaration, "I am, sir, under the king, in some authority," the constant ebullitions of importance where so much is inadequate in his nature to support it, and touches that give his whole character the air of a semi-ludicrous creation, would more severely wound an individual, if Sir Thomas was recognised by such foibles, than

Signature of Sir Thomas Lucy. Published size 4.5cm wide by 1.9cm high.

the keenest verses attached to the gates of Charlecote Park. I trust that in adopting this view of the case, believing the account given by Davies to shadow the truth, I am not falling into the error of particularising a generic character. I am too well aware that Shakespeare's inventions were " not of an age, but for all time;"  but in this instance we have palpable evidence of an allusion to an individual, a neighbour of Shakespeare, introduced in a manner to leave no room for hesitating to believe that a retaliating satire was intended. Again, observe how severe is Falstaff on Shallow's administration of justice, on the "semblable coherence of his men's spirits and his."  Davy's interceding for his friend Visor is one of the keenest satires of the kind to be found in Shakespeare.

p.126 /

      It is well known that Shakespeare, throughout his life, retained a strong affection for his native town, but I do not think it has ever been observed how often he adopted the names of his characters from his neighbours in Warwickshire. In the play we have just been noticing, there are several remarkable instances of this. Bardolf and Fluellen were names well known at Stratford. At a meeting of the town council, 9 March, 1604, it was "ordered that Isabell Bardolf, widow, shall have and enjoy one tenement in the almeshouse with widdow Bishopp."  In the registry of the Court of Record, August 19th, 1584, William Parsons brought an action of debt against William Fluellen, "Willielmus Parsons quer. versus Willielmum fflewellyn def. de placito debiti ;"  and Anne Fluellen is mentioned in the Chamberlains' accounts for 1604, "the summe of monye receyved in the consell house, and of Isabell Hudson, Anne Fluellyn, and widow Cowle, elected almesweomen, and from the ringers of the chappels great bell, is, 11li.  13s.  6d."  William Fluellen and George Bardolf are found in the list of recusants, printed at p. 72.  The name of Shallow's servant Davy may have been taken from Davy Jones, an inhabitant of Stratford, who is mentioned in the extracts I have given from the Chamberlains' accounts as exhibiting a "pastyme" at Whitsuntide. Two persons of the names of Perkes, inhabitants of Snitterfield, have already been mentioned (p. 8), and Peto*  was a Warwickshire magistrate contemporary with Sir Thomas Lucy.

---------------------------
    *
  In the corporation archives at Warwick is preserved "The note of such typlers and alehouse-kepers as the justices of peax have returned to me this Michilmas sessions. Thies underwriten were returnyd by Sir Thomas Lucy and Humfrey Peyto, esquire."  Mich. 15 Eliz.
---------------------------

In the rolls of King's Bench, 28 Eliz. John Richardson is mentioned as bringing an action against Thomas Partlett. This entry may be referred to an antiquary of the old p.127 / school. What follows is more to the purpose. The names of Sly, Herne, Horne, Brome, Page, and Ford, will be found in the following extracts from the MSS. in the Council Chamber at Stratford. It may be necessary to add that Herne the hunter is called Horne in the first sketch of the Merry Wives, and that Brome will be found to be Ford's assumed name in the first folio.

1570. Inprimis for a howse and a barne in Henley Stret in the tenure
   of John Page and John Carpenter als.
ix.s. iiij.d.
Item, we praie allowaunce for the muckhill in the Rather Stret
   in the tenure and occupacion of John Page    -        -
viij.d.
1585. Paid to John Page for mendynge the grete bell, when the clypps
   of iron were loste    -        -
ij.s.
Paid to Herne for iij. dayes worke    -        - ij.s. vj.d.
1597. R. of Mr. Parsons for the house where John Page dwelled    -        - iiij.d.
 R. of Thomas Fordes wiffe    -        - vj.s. viij.d.
1606. Reginalde Brome, of Woodlowe in the countye of Warwicke,
   deed dated Dec. 20th, 4 Jac. I.
1613. Paid to Hearne for mending a dorman in the scole before the
   glasse was set in yt, ij.d., and for lath nailes, ob., in all    -        -
ij.d. ob.
1626. Thomas Greene, Symon Horne, John Heminges, of Bishopton,
   concerned in a purchase of tithes.
1630. Item, of Joane Slie for breaking the Sabath by traveling    -        - 3—4.
1633. William Horne, mentioned in a deed, May 17, 9 Car. I.

      I do not of course infer that these were in every case the persons from whom Shakespeare derived the names, but still it is curious to see that he condescended to employ in his plays the appellations of persons with whom he was probably familiar in his youth ; and I have introduced the subject here, because it appears to me that this circumstance tends to exhibit in itself a probability in favour of early local allusions in his plays. It must be conceded that Sir Thomas Lucy had in some way or other persecuted the poet, for nothing short of a persecution would have provoked an attack from one elsewhere so moderate and gentle in the few notices he has recorded of his contemporaries. The Lucys possessed great power at Stratford, and were besides p.128 / not unfrequently engaged in disputes with the corporation of that town. Records of one such dispute respecting common of pasture in Henry VIII.'s reign are still preserved in the Chapter House ;  and amongst the miscellaneous papers at the Rolls House, i. 491, I met with an early paper bearing the attractive title of "the names of them that made the ryot uppon Master Thomas Lucy esquier."  This list contains the names of thirty-five inhabitants of Stratford, mostly tradespeople, but none of the Shakespeares were amongst the number. We may safely accept the deer-stealing story, not in all its minute particulars, but in its outline, to be essentially true, until more decisive evidence can be produced which shall also explain equally well the allusions to which we have above referred. It is now necessary that Rowe's account of the matter in 1709 should be exhibited.

      Upon his leaving school, he seems to have given entirely into that way of living which his father proposed to him ; and in order to settle in the world after a family manner, he thought fit to marry while he was yet very young. His wife was the daughter of one Hathaway, said to have been a substantial yeoman in the neighbourhood of Stratford. In this kind of settlement he continued for some time, till an extravagance that he was guilty of, forced him both out of his country and that way of living which he had taken up ; and though it seemed at first to be a blemish upon his good manners and a misfortune to him, yet it afterwards happily proved the occasion of exerting one of the greatest geniuses that ever was known in dramatick poetry. He had, by a misfortune common enough to young fellows, fallen into ill company, and amongst them, some that made a frequent practice of deer-stealing, engaged him more than once in robbing a park that belonged to Sir Thomas Lucy, of Charlecote, near Stratford. For this he was prosecuted by that gentleman, as he thought, somewhat too severely ; and in order to revenge that ill usage, he made a ballad upon him. And though this, probably the first essay of his poetry, be lost, yet it is said to have been so very bitter, that it redoubled the prosecution against him to that degree, that he was obliged to leave his business and family in Warwickshire for some time, and shelter himself in London.

      At Stratford there was a late tradition that Shakespeare stole the deer to "furnish forth his marriage table."  Had p.129 / this circumstance been recorded by Davies or Rowe, it would have thrown a doubt on the whole narrative, for Shakespeare did not leave Stratford till some time after his marriage with Anne Hathaway. Mr. Collier has proved the important condition to the problem of the deer-stealing story, that Sir Thomas Lucy had deer, a fact Malone was at so much pains to decide in the negative. Many years after the appearance of Rowe's Life, part of the verses by Shakespeare on Lucy were published as being taken from the MS. notes of Oldys, although Rowe states distinctly that the ballad was lost. There is neither external nor internal evidence of any value in favour of the authenticity of this fragment, but the fabrication is sufficiently ingenious to deserve an exposure :

A parliamente member, a justice of peace,
At home a poore scare-crow, at London an asse ;
If lowsie is Lucy, as some volke miscalle it,
Then Lucy is lowsie, whatever befalle it :
        He thinkes himselfe greate,
        Yet an asse in his state
We allowe by his eares but with asses to mate.
If Lucy is lowsie, as some volke miscalle it,
Sing lowsie Lucy, whatever befalle it.

      It does not require much penetration to perceive how palpable a forgery is this, yet one Jordan of Stratford had the boldness to compose and palm on his friends what he termed "a complete copy of the verses," professing to have discovered them in an old chest in a cottage at Shottery. These have been printed in many works, apparently without a suspicion of their want of genuineness, but however curious as the ingenious production of an uneducated person, there is not the slightest necessity for introducing them here. The MSS. of Oldys, from which the stanza above given is said to have been taken, are not now extant ; and, although it is a matter of no great consequence, for the p.130 / name of Oldys is not of itself sufficient to stamp authenticity upon it, yet it appears not very improbable that his name may have been used as a cover for a composition of a considerably later period. In another account we read that a person of the name of Jones, residing at a village about eighteen miles from Stratford, and who died in 1703, aged upwards of ninety, "remember'd to have heard from several old people at Stratford the story of Shakespeare's robbing Sir Thomas Lucy's park ; and their account of it agreed with Mr. Rowe's, with this addition, that the ballad written against Sir Thomas by Shakespeare was stuck upon his park gate, which exasperated the knight to apply to a lawyer at Warwick to proceed against him ; Mr. Jones had put down in writing the first stanza of this ballad, which was all he remember'd of it, and Mr. Thomas Wilkes, my grandfather, transmitted it to my father by memory, who also took it in writing."   This is the account furnished by Capell in 1779,*  and a few years afterwards Steevens printed the stanza from the MS. collections of Oldys. These latter are also referred to by Capell as containing the stanza, so that it is not very likely there was any collusion or deception as far as that part of the matter is concerned. Capell's authority is certainly insufficient to prove the authenticity of the above fragment, yet it will be conceded that it is an evidence in favour of the deer-stealing tradition being generally known and believed in the neighbourhood of Stratford about the year 1700. Capell considers that the epithet scarecrow applied to Lucy, and agreeing with the personal appearance of Justice Shallow, is an argument in favour of the genuineness of the poem.

---------------------------
    *
  Notes and Various Readings to Shakespeare, vol. ii.  p.75. Capell's account is attributed by Mr. Collier to Oldys, and this has led him to rely on one authority only. The evidences of Capell and Oldys, considered together, are no mean supports to the general truth of the tradition.
---------------------------

p.131 /

      Some other lines of this celebrated song were stated by Chetwood in a MS. History of the Stage written about 1730, to have been procured by Joshua Barnes at Stratford about the year 1690. Chetwood's name is unfortunately associated with several literary impositions, so that his authority cannot well be allowed to possess much weight, excepting on the supposition that at the period he wrote, this was not exactly the subject on which a fabricator would be likely to exercise his skill. According to this writer, "the learned Mr. Joshua Barnes, late Greek Professor of the University of Cambridge, baiting about forty years ago at an inn in Stratford, and hearing an old woman singing part of the above-said song, such was his respect for Mr. Shakspeare's genius, that he gave her a new gown for the two following stanzas in it ; and, could she have said it all, he would, as he often said in company, when any discourse has casually arose about him, have given her ten guineas."  Then follow the verses alluded to,—

Sir Thomas was too covetous
   To covet so much deer,
When horns enough upon his head
   Most plainly did appear.

Had not his worship one deer left ?
   What then ?   He had a wife
Took pains enough to find him horns
   Should last him during life.


      Whiter,*  a very able critic, contended for the authenticity of these latter verses on internal evidence, as being written in the style of Shakespeare's time, and containing a quibble which the poet has employed more than once in his plays.

---------------------------
    *
  Specimen of a Commentary on Shakspeare, 1794, p. 95.  It should be observed that an inscription in the church at Charlecote bears special testimony to the virtue of Lady Lucy.
---------------------------

This opinion has been followed by others, yet I cannot but p.132 / think if any part of the song written by Shakespeare had descended to our days, no matter how distorted in passing through the channels of tradition, we should discover in it some marks of his genius. Nothing of the kind can be said in favour of either of the specimens above quoted, which cannot besides be supposed to belong to the same ballad. Under any circumstances, therefore, one of the two must be spurious. Still is it most unfair to join the first verse of the ballad, commencing "a parliament member," with the after part fabricated by Jordan, and thus dismiss the whole. This Mr. Hunter has done. There are signs of a later composition in the part written by Jordan, not to be discovered in the first stanza ; and although I am convinced none of it is authentic, still the stanza here given must be at all events an earlier composition.
      Mr Knight has attacked the deer-stealing anecdote with peculiar ingenuity, yet his refutation is not supported by evidence of weight. Traditions generally do not improve in certainty with age, and so many little improbable and inconsistent attendant circumstances are added in course of time, that to disprove these latter is often no difficult task. This has been the case in the present instance, and Mr. Knight is triumphant when he reaches the circumstantial statement of Ireland, who makes Fulbroke Park the scene of the exploit, and goes so far as to give us a representation of the keeper's lodge in which Shakespeare was confined after his detection. According to Mr. Knight, Fulbroke Park did not come into the possession of the Lucy family till the seventeenth century. This is, of course, a final refutation of Ireland's account, but it must be recollected no such testimony is produced, in fact, no proof whatever, against the fact that Sir Thomas Lucy persecuted the poet for stealing his deer. This is in substance all that is here contended for, and Mr. Knight writes so evidently with p.133 / a purpose, for in no single instance, on no strength of evidence, will he allow a blemish in Shakespeare's moral character, even in venial lapses which really do not lessen our respect for his memory, that it may perhaps be necessary to impress upon the reader how biography loses nearly all its value if we are not permitted to exhibit social character as it actually existed, and thus make it of a philosophical importance, by teaching us in what substances "finely touched" spirits are suffered to dwell. Mr. Knight has had several followers in his desire to represent Shakespeare's moral as great as his mental superiority, and one of them has amusingly confessed the motive of it all. "The dignity of a great man's biography," observes Mr. Fairholt, "should not be broken up by such tales."  This is quite sufficient. No tradition will remain safe after the promulgation of such an axiom.
      Rowe says that Shakespeare removed to London, leaving his business and family in Warwickshire, and it is to be observed that no contemporary evidence has been produced to show that his family ever resided with him in the metropolis. His daughter Susanna was born at Stratford in May, 1583, and Hamnet and Judith, twin-children, were born in the same town early in 1585, the son dying at Stratford in August, 1596. It seems evident that the poet was always intimately associated with his native town, and never made a removal from it of a permanent character. The probability may be in favour of his never having relinquished what establishment he may have possessed at Stratford, and, if so, his association with the drama may have commenced almost as early as the date of his marriage with Anne Hathaway. This is a point which will probably never be correctly ascertained, but it is by no means necessary to suppose that the depredation committed on Sir Thomas Lucy, and its consequences, were the only reasons p.134 / for his entering on a new profession. I have proved, on undeniable evidence, that in March, 29 Eliz., 1587, Shakespeare's father was in prison, for on the 29th day of that month he produced a writ of habeas corpus in the Stratford Court of Record. See pp. 43, 44. Previously to this period, we discover him in transactions which leave no

House in High-street, Stratford, dated 1596. Published size 5.5cm wide by 8.7cm high.

House in High Street, Stratford, erected 1596.

room for doubting that he was in difficulties, or at least in circumstances that placed him in a delicate legal position. Join to this the certainty that these matters would affect his son, with the traditions above related, and reason will be found quite sufficient for Shakespeare's important step of joining the metropolitan players. There is something apologetic in the following:

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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 publick means, which publick manners breeds.*

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    *
  Sonnet cxi. Although the sonnets cannot safely be regarded as biographical, they may in some instances be taken as indications of the writer's sentiments.
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      The best accounts we are possessed of tell us that Shakespeare commenced in a "very mean rank" in the company ; according to Dowdall's letter, 1693, he was "received into the playhouse as a serviture," really meaning, I suppose, that Shakespeare was either an "apprentice" to an actor of some standing, or entered the company as an actor of inferior rank. He became no doubt an actor of considerable reputation, although his merits as a writer threw his histrionic abilities into the shade.†

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    †
  See an epigram addressed to Mr. John Honyman, in Cokain's Small Poems, 1658, p. 140 :

On, hopefull youth, and let thy happy strain
Redeem the glory of the stage again ;
Lessen the loss of Shakespeare's death by thy
Successful pen, and fortunate phantasie.
He did not onely write, but act ; and so
Thou dost not onely act, but writest too.

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According to Rowe, "the top of his performance was the Ghost in his own Hamlet," but this statement rests on slender authority, and is undoubtedly an exaggeration, for an early elegy upon Shakespeare alludes to him as "that famous writer and actor."  The writer of a life of Shakespeare, published in a work entitled 'The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland,' 12mo. Lond. 1753, gives us another account of the introduction of the great dramatist to the London playhouses.

      I cannot forbear relating a story which Sir William Davenant told Mr. Betterton, who communicated it to Mr. Rowe ; Rowe told it Mr. Pope, and Mr. Pope told it to Dr. Newton, the late editor of Milton, and from a gentleman who heard it from him, ’tis here related. Concerning Shakespear's first appearance in the playhouse. When he came to London, he was without money and friends,
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and being a stranger, he knew not to whom to apply, nor by what means to support himself. At that time, coaches not being in use, and as gentlemen were accustomed to ride to the playhouse, Shakespear, driven to the last necessity, went to the playhouse door, and pick'd up a little money by taking care of the gentlemen's horses who came to the play ; he became eminent even in that profession, and was taken notice of for his diligence and skill in it ; he had soon more business than he himself could manage, and at last hired boys under him, who were known by the name of Shakespear's boys. Some of the players, accidentally conversing with him, found him so acute, and master of so fine a conversation, that, struck therewith, they [introduced] and recommended him to the house, in which he was first admitted in a very low station, but he did not long remain so, for he soon distinguished himself, if not as an extraordinary actor, at least as a fine writer. (Vol. i. pp. 130-1.)

      This anecdote is repeated by Dr. Johnson, with several variations. According to this authority, Shakespeare became "so conspicuous for his care and readiness" in holding the horses, "that in a short time every man as he alighted called for Will. Shakspeare, and scarcely any other waiter was trusted with a horse while Will. Shakspeare could be had. This was the first dawn of better fortune. Shakspeare, finding more horses put into his hand than he could hold, hired boys to wait under his inspection, who, when Will. Shakspeare was summoned, were immediately to present themselves, I am Shakspeare's boy, sir.  In time, Shakspeare found higher employment, but as long as the practice of riding to the playhouse continued, the waiters that held the horses retained the appellation of Shakspeare's boys."  It will be observed that the story thus amplified is much more incredible than the original version in the 'Lives of the Poets,' which may have been obtained from Oldys or Coxeter, part of their MSS. having been used in the compilation of that work. Mr. Collier indignantly rejects the anecdote, alluding solely to the latter account of it. It cannot indeed be said to have been derived from a pure source, and Rowe has no allusion to it ; but it is worthy of remark, that the practice of riding to the theatres had long been discontinued, and it is unlikely that a fabri- p.137 / cator of the eighteenth century would have been acquainted with so minute a piece of antiquarian information.
      It is not till the year 1589 that we procure any certain information respecting Shakespeare in London. About that period, serious complaints had been made, and the players had suffered many obstructions, on account of satirical and political subjects having been introduced into their performances. On some such occasion, the sharers of the Blackfriar's Theatre addressed the following certificate to the Privy Council, and it is one of the most important documents connected with Shakespeare yet discovered. It was found by Mr. Collier in the archives of the Earl of Ellesmere, and published by him in his 'New Facts regarding the Life of Shakespeare,' 8vo. 1835, p. 11.

     These are to certifie your right Honorable Lordships that her Majesties poore playeres, James Burbadge, Richard Burbadge, John Laneham, Thomas Greene, Robert Wilson, John Taylor, Anth. Wadeson, Thomas Pope, George Peele, Augustine Phillipps, Nicholas Towley, William Shakespeare, William Kemp, William Johnson, Baptiste Goodale, and Robert Armyn, being all of them sharers in the Blacke Fryers playehouse, have never given cause of displeasure in that they have brought into theire playes maters of state and religion unfitt to bee handled by them or to bee presented before lewde spectators : neither hath anie complaynte in that kinde ever bene preferrde against them or anie of them. Wherefore they trust moste humblie in your Lordships consideration of their former good behaviour, being at all tymes readie and willing to yeelde obedience to any command whatsoever your Lordships in your wisdome may thinke in such cas e meete, &c.
      Novr. 1589.

      If the reader will now turn to Dowdall's account that Shakespeare first entered the theatre as a servitor, he will, I think, find here something like a confirmation of that statement. Henslowe has a memorandum in his MS. register, in which he states that he "hiered as a covenaunt servant Willyam Kendall for ij. years, after the statute of Winchester, with ij. single penc, and [he] to geve hym for his sayd servis everi week of his playing in London x.s. and in p.138 / the cuntrie v.s. for the which he covenaunteth for the space of those ij. yeares to be redye at all tymes to play in the howse of the said Philip, and in no other, during the sayd terme."  It is most consonant with the customs of the time to suppose that Shakespeare was such a servitor ; and, if that were the case, we should naturally expect to find him raised afterwards to the rank of a sharer in the theatre, not a proprietor, but one who shared in the division of the daily profits of the representations. Mr. Collier's important discovery proves that Shakespeare had attained that rank in the Blackfriar's Theatre in November, 1589.


Link to 'Life of Shakespeare', contents.
Link to 'Life of Shakespeare', part 1.      Link to 'Life of Shakespeare', part 3.