« PreviousContinue »
“Laz") was proprietor of three shares, for which he author with those of a performer. Nevertheless, it must claimed 7001. Shakespeare was proprietor of the not be forgotten, that although Shakespeare continued a wardrobe and properties of the theatre, estimated at large sharer with the leading members of the company 5001., as well as of four shares, valued at 331. 68. 8d. in 1608, he had retired from the stage about four years each, or 9331. 6s. 8d., at seven years' purchase : his before; and having ceased to act, but still retaining his whole demand was 14331. 68. 8d., or 5001. less than shares in the profits of the theatres with which he was that of Burbage, as the fee was considered worth 10001., connected, it is impossible to say what arrangement he while Shakespeare's wardrobe and properties were may have made with the rest of the company for the valued at 5001. Heminge and Condell each required regular contribution of dramas, in lieu of other services. 4661. 13s. 4d. for their two shares, and Taylor 3501. for his share and a half, while the four unnamed half-sharers put in their claim at the same rate, 4661. 138. 4d. This mode of estimating the theatre made its value 61661. 138. 4d. and to this sum was to be added remuneration to the hired men of the company, who were not sharers, as well as to the widows and orphans of deceased actors: the purchase money of the whole property was thus raised to at least 70001.
Each share, out of the twenty into which the receipts of the theatre were divided, yielded, as was alleged, an annual profit of 331. 6s. 8d.; and Shakespeare, owning four of these shares, his annual income, from them only, was 1331. 6s. 8d.: he was besides proprietor of the wardrobe and properties, stated to be worth 5007.: these, we may conclude, he lent to the company for a certain consideration, and, reckoning wear and tear, ten per cent. seems a very low rate of payment; we will take it, however, at that sum, which would add 502. a year to the 1331. 68. 8d. making together 1831. 6s. 8d, besides what he must have gained by the profits of his pen, upon which we have no data for forming any estimate. Without including any thing on this account,
Thomas Decker. and supposing that the Globe was as profitable for a summer theatre as the Blackfriars was for a winter theatre, it is evident that Shakespeare's income could
In the Diary of the Rev. John Ward, who was vicar liardly have been less than 366l. 138. 4d. Taking every
of Stratford-upon-Avon, and whose memoranda extend source of emolument into view, we consider 4001. a
from 1648 to 1679,' it is stated that Shakespeare “in his year the very lowest amount at which his income can
elder days lived at Stratford, and supplied the stage be reckoned in 1608."
with two plays every year, and for it had an allowance The document upon which this calculation is founded so large, that he spent at the rate of 10001. a year, as I is preserved among the papers of Lord Ellesmere, but have heard." This passage shows what the opinion an incidental confirmation of it has more recently been
was as to Shakespeare's circumstances shortly after the brought to light in the State Paper Office. Sir Dudley
Restoration. We take it for granted that the sum of Carlton was ambassador at the Hague in 1619, and J.
10001. (equal to nearly 50001. now) is a considerable Chamberlaine, writing to him in that year, and mention. exaggeration, but it may warrant the belief that Shakeing the death of Queen Anne, states that the funeral speare lived in good style and port, late in life, in his is put off to the 29th of the next month, to the great native town. It is very possible, too, though we think hinderance of our players, which are forbidden to play
not probable, that after he retired to Stratford he conso long as her body is above ground: one speciall man
tinued to write, but it is incredible that subsequent to anong them, Burbage, is lately dead, and hath left, they his retirement he “supplied the stage with two plays say, better than 3001. land.”
every year.” He might not be able at once to relinquish There can be no doubt that the correspondent of Sir
his old habits of composition; but such other evidence Dudley Carlton was correct, and that Burbage died
as we possess is opposed to Ward's statement, to which worth “better than" 3001. a year in land, besides his
he himself appends the cautionary words, “as I have "goods and chattels :" 3001. a year at that date was
heard.” Of course he could have known nothing but about 15001. of our present money, and we have every by hearsay forty-six years after our Poet's decease. He reason to suppose that Shakespeare was in as good, if might, however, have known inhabitants of Stratford not in better circumstances. Until the letter of Cham who well recollected Shakespeare, and, considering the berlaine was found, we had no knowledge of the amount opportunities he possessed, it is singular that he collected of property Burbage had accumulated, he having been
so little information. during his whole life merely an actor, and not combin
We have adverted to the bounty of the Earl of Southing in his own person the profits of a successful dramatic ampton to Shakespeare, which we have supposed to 1 This 4001. in 1609. in the then value of money, is computed
have been consequent upon the dedication of Venus as equivalent to 20001. at present, or above $9000.—NEW YORK 1 Diary of the Rev. John Ward, etc. Arranged by Charles EDITOR.
Severn, M. D.
AND ADONIS, and LUCRECE, and coincident in point of dispute that it belongs to this period, while the Lord date with the building of the Globe theatre. Another Mayor and aldermen were endeavouring to expel the document has been handed down among the papers of players from a situation where they had been uninterLord Ellesmere, which proves the strong interest Lord ruptedly established for more than thirty years. There Southampton still took, about fifteen years afterwards, can be no doubt that the object the players had in view in Shakespeare's affairs, and in the prosperity of the was attained, because we know his brethren were not company to which he was attached : it has distinct allowed to exercise authority, and that the “ King's reference also to the pending, unequal struggle between servants" continued to occupy the theatre long after the corporation of London and the players at the Black. the death of Shakespeare. friars, of which we have spoken. It is the copy of a letter subscribed H. S. (the initials of the Earl) to word to the action most admirably. By the exercise of his some nobleman in favour of our great dramatist, and
qualitye, industry, and good behaviour, he hath be come possessed
of the Blacke Fryers playhouse, which hath bene imployed for of the chief performer in many of his plays, Richard
playes sithence it was builded by his Father, now nere 50 yeres Burbage.
agone. The other is a man no whitt lesse deserving favor, and We give a copy of the document in a note :' it is my especiall friende, till of late an actor of good account in the without date ; but the subject of it shows beyond companie, now a sharer in the same, and writer of some of our
best English playes, which, as your Lordship knoweth, were 1 The copy is without address : it runs as follows:
most singularly liked of Quene Elizabeth, when the companie "My verie honored Lord. The manie good offices I haue re. was called uppon to performe before her Majestie at Court at rejued at your Lordship's hands, which ought to make me back Christmas and Shrovetide. His most gracious Maiestie King ward in asking further favors, onely embouldeneth me to require James alsoe, sence his coming to the crowne, hath extended his more in the same kinde. Your Lordship will be warned howe royal favour to the companie in divers waies and at sundrie hereafter you grauntanie sute, secing it draweth on more and great tymes. This other bath to name William Shakespeare, and they er demaunds. This which now presseth is to request your Lord. are both of one countie, and indeede allmost of one towne: both ehip, in all you can, to be good to the poore players of the Black are right famous in their qualityes, though it longeth not of your Fryers, who call them selves by authoritie, the servaunts of his Lo. gruite and wisedome to resort vnto the places where they Majestie
, and aske for the protection of their most gracious Mais- || are wont to delight the publique eare. Their truste and sute is ter and Sovereigne in this the tyme of their troble. They are not to bee molested in their way of life, whereby they maintaine threatened by the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of London, never | them selves and their wives and families, (being both maried and friendly to their calling, with the distruction of their meanes of of good reputation) as well as the widows and orphanes of some Livelihood, by the pulling downe of their plaiehouse, which is a of their dead fellows. private theatre, and hath neuer giuen occasion of anger by anie
"Your Lo most bounden at com. disorders. These bearers are two of the chiefe of the companie; "Copia vera."
“H, S." one of them by name Richard Burbidge, who humblie sueth for Lord Southampton was mistaken when he stated that the your Lordship's kinde helpe, for that he is a man famous as our Blackfriars theatre had been built nearly fifty years: in 1600 it English Roscius, one who fitteth the action to the word, and the had been built about thirty-three years. I
There is reason for believing that the question of ing to it in pointed terms, in Hamlet, which we jurisdiction had been decided in favour of the players | suppose to have been written in the winter of 1601, or in before January, 1609-10, because we have an instru- the spring of 1602. They seem to have gone on increasment of that date authorizing a juvenile company to ing in popularity, and very soon after James I. ascended exhibit at the Blackfriars, as well as the association | the throne, Queen Anne took a company, called “the which had been in possession of the theatre ever since Children of the Queen's Revels,” under her immediate its original construction. One circumstance may how patronage. They continued to perform at the Blackever cast a doubt upon the point, whether it had yet friars, and in the very commencement of the year 1610 been determined that the corporation of London had we find that Shakespeare either was, or intended to Bo jurisdiction over the Blackfriars.
be, connected with them. At this period he probably There seems conclusive proof that almost from the first contemplated an early retirement from the metropolis, The Blackfriars theatre had been in the joint possession and might wish to avail himself, for a period, of this new of the Lord Chamberlain's servants, and of a juvenile opportunity of profitable employment. company called the Children of the Chapel: also known Robert Daborne, the author of two dramas that have as“ her Majesty's Children," and the Children of the been printed, and of others that have been lost, seems Blackfriars.” It is not to be supposed that they em- || to have been a man of good family, and of some interest ployed the theatre on alternate days with their older at court : in January, 1609-10, he procured a royal grant, competitors, but that, when those acted elsewhere in authorizing him and others to provide and educate a the summer, the Children of the Chapel commenced number of young actors, to be called “the Children their performances. After the opening of the Globe, of the Queen's Revels.” This was not a new assoin 1595, we may presume that the older actors left the ciation, because it had existed under that appellation, Blackfriars theatre to be occupied by the Children of and under those of “the Children of the Chapel" and the Chapel from April to October.
“the Children of the Blackfriars," from near the beginThe success of the juvenile companies about the com ning of the reign of Elizabeth. Daborne, in 1609-10, mencement of the reign of James I., and end of that of was placed at the head of it, and he had, as was not Elizabeth, was great; and we find Shakespeare allud unusual, partners in the undertaking: those partners
were William Shakespeare, Nathaniel Field, (the cele For some unknown reason, perhaps this very contest brated actor, and very clever author,) and Edward of jurisdiction, this grant to Daborne and his partners Kirkham, who had previously enjoyed a privilege of was not carried into effect. The word “stayed" is the same kind.? A draft of the warrant, under which added at the conclusion of the draft, as if some ground Daborne and his partners, therein named, (viz. Shake. i had been discovered for delaying, if not for withholding speare, Field, and Kirkham, were to proceed,) is found it. Certain it is, that the new scheme seems to have among the official papers of Lord Chancellor Ellesmere ;' been abandoned ; and whatever Shakespeare may have
intended when he became connected with it, he continued, as long as he remained in London, so far as any evidence enables us to judge, to write only for the company of the King's players, who persevered in their performances at the Blackfriars in the winter, and at the Globe in the summer.
It will be seen that to the draft in favour of the directors of the Children of the Queen's Revels, a list is appended, apparently of dramatic performances, in representing which the juvenile company was to be employed. Some of these may be considered known and established performances, such as “Antonio," perhaps the “ Antonio and Mellida" of Marston, printed in 1602; “Grisell," for the “ Patient Grisell" of Decker, Chettle, and Haughton, printed in 1603; and “K. Edw. 2," for Marlowe's “ Edward II.,” printed in 1598. Of others we have no information, and only two remind us at all of Shakespeare: “ Kinsmen" may mean Two Noble Kinsmen," in which some suppose our great dramatist to have been concerned ; and “ Taming
of S.” is possibly to be taken for the TaminG OF THE Nathaniel Field.
SHREw, or for the older play, with nearly the same title, upon which it was founded.
Troilus AND Cressida and Pericles were printed and it deserves notice, that “the Children of the Queen's
in 1609, and we think that they had been written and Revels" were thereby licensed not only to act “trage
prepared for the stage only a short time before they dies, comedies," etc., in the Blackfriars theatre, but “ elsewhere within the realm of England;" so that places which came out in quarto, in 1622, no other new drama
came from the press. With the exception of Othello, where the city authorities had jurisdiction were not
by Shakespeare appeared in a printed form between exempted.
1609 and the date of the publication of the folio, m
1623. Timon OF ATHENS, CORIOLANUS, ANTONY AND He was one of the masters of the Children of the Queen's Revels in 1603-4.
CLEOPATRA, CYMBELINE, the Winter's Tale, and the ? It runs thus :
Tempest, seem to belong to a late period of our Poel's "Right trusty and welbeloved, &c., James, &c. To all Mayors. theatrical career, and some of them were doubtless Sheriffs, Justices of the Peace, &c. Whereas the Queene, our
written between 1609 and the period, whatever that dearest wife, hath for her pleasure and recreation appointed her seryaunts Robert Daiborne, &c., to provide and bring upp a
period might be, when he relinquished dramatic comconvenient nomber of children, who shall be called the Children
position. of her Majesties Revells, knowe ye that we have appointed and Between January, 1609-10, when Shakespeare was authorized, and by these presents doe appoint and authorize the one of the parties to whom the warrant for the Children said Robert Daiborne, William Shakespeare, Nathaniel Field, and
of the Queen's Revels was conceded, and the year 1612, Edward Kirkham, from time to time to provide and bring upp a
when it has been reasonably supposed that he quitted convenient nomber of children, and them to instruct and exercise in the quality of playing Tragedies, Comedies, &c., by the name
London to take'up his permanent residence at Stratford, of the Children of the Revells to the Queene, within the Black we are in possession of no facts connected with his perfryers, in our Citie of London, or els where within our realme of sonal history.” It would seem both natural and prudent England. Wherefore we will and command you, and everie of
that, before he withdrew from the metropolis, he should you, to permitt her said servaunts to keepe a convenient nomber of children, by the name of the Children of the Revells to the
dispose of his theatrical property, which must necesQueene, and them to exercise in the qualitie of playing according to her royal pleasure. Provided alwaies, that no playes, &c. 1 One copy of the folio is known with the date of 1622 upon shall be by them presented, but such playes, &c. as have received the title-page. The volume was entered at Stationers' Hall on the approbation and allowance of our Maister of the Revells for the 8th November, 1623, as if it had not been published until late the tyme being. And these our lres. shall be your sufficient war. in that year, unless we suppose the entry made by Blount and rant in this behalfe. In witnesse whereof, &c., 40 die Janij. 1609. Jaggard some time after publication, in order to secure their "Proud Povertie.
right to the plays first printed there, which they thought might Widow's Mite.
be invaded. Antonio.
Hate and Love.
2 We ought perhaps to except a writ issued by the borough Kinsmen.
Taming of s
court in June, 1610, at the suit of Shakespeare, for the recovery Triumph of Truth.
K. Edw. 2.
of a small sum. A similar occurrence had taken place in 1601, Mirror of Life.
when our Poet sought to recover 1l. 158. Od. from a person of the name of Rogers, for corn sold to him. These facts are ascer. tained from the existing records of Stratford.
sarily be of fluctuating and uncertain value, depending upon the presence and activity of the owner for its profitable management. In his will (unlike some of his contemporaries who expired in London) he says nothing of any such property, and we are left to infer that he did not die in possession of it, having disposed of it before he finally retired to Stratford.
It is to be recollected also that the species of interest he had in the Blackfriars theatre, independently of his shares in the receipts, was peculiarly perishable: it consisted of the wardrobe and properties, which in 1608, when the city authorities contemplated the purchase of the whole establishment, were valued at 5001.; and we may feel assured that he would sell them to the company
which had had the constant use of them, and doubtless had paid an annual consideration to the
The fee, or freehold, of the house and ground was in the hands of Richard Burbage, and from him it descended to his two sons: that was a permanent and substantial possession, very different in its character and durability from the dresses and machinery which belonged to Shakespeare. The nature of Shakespeare's property in the Blackfriars seems to authorize the conclusion, that he sold it before he retired to the place of his birth, where he meant to spend the rest of his days with his family, in the tranquil enjoyment of the independence he had secured by the exertions of five-andtwenty years. Supposing him to have begun his theatrical career at the end of 1586, as we have imagined, the quarter of a century would be completed by the close of 1612, and for aught we know, that might be the period Shakespeare had in his mind fixed upon for the termination of his toils and anxieties.
It has been ascertained that Edward Alleyn, the actorfounder of the college of “God's Gift," at Dulwich, purchased property in the Blackfriars, in April, 1612 ;' and although it may have been theatrical, there seems reason to believe that it was not, but that it consisted of certain leasehold houses, for which, according to his own account-book, he paid a quarterly rent of 401. The brief memorandum upon this point, preserved at Dulwich, certainly relates to any thing rather than to the species of interest which Shakespeare indisputably had in the wardrobe and properties of the Blackfriars theatre: the terms Alleyn uses would apply only to tenements or ground, and as Burbage valued his freehold of the theatre at 10001., we need not hesitate in deciding that the lease Alleyn purchased for 5991. 68. 8d. was not a lease of the play-house. We shall see presently that Shakespeare himself became the owner of a dwelling-house in the Blackfriars, unconnected with the theatre, very soon after he had taken up his abode at Stratford, and Alleyn probably had made a similar, but a larger investment in the same neighbourhood, in 1612. Whatever became of Shakespeare's interest in the Blackfriars theatre, as a sharer or as the owner of the wardrobe and properties, we need not hesitate in concluding that, in the then prosperous state of theatrical affairs in the metropolis, he was easily able to procure a purchaser.
1 See the “Memoirs of Edward Alleyn," page 105, where a conjecture is hastily hazarded that it might be Shakespeare's interest in the Blackfriars theatre. Upon this question we agree with Mr. Knight in “Shakspere, a Biography," prefixed to his pictorial edition of the Poet's works,
He must also have had a considerable stake in the Globe, but whether he was also the owner of the same species of property there, as at the Blackfriars, we can only speculate. We should think it probable that, as far as the wardrobe was concerned, the same dresses were made to serve for both theatres, and that when the summer season commenced on the Bankside, the necessary apparel was conveyed across the water from the Blackfriars, and remained there until the company returned to their winter quarters. There is no hint in any existing document what became of our dramatist's interest in the Globe ; but here again we need not doubt, from the profit that had always attended the undertaking, that he could have had no difficulty in finding parties to take it off his hands. Burbage, we know, was rich,' and he and others would have been glad to add to their capital, so advantageously employed, by purchasing Shakespeare's interest.
It is possible, as we have said, that Shakespeare continued to employ his pen for the stage after his retirement to Stratford, and the buyers of his shares might even make it a condition that he should do so for a time; but we doubt whether, with his long experience of the necessity of personal superintendence, he would have continued a shareholder in any concern of the kind over which he had no control. During the whole of his life in connection with the stage, even after he quitted it as an actor, he seems to have been obliged to reside in London, apart from his family, for the purpose of watching over his interests in the two theatres to which he belonged: had he been merely an author, after he ceased to be an actor, he might have composed his dramas as well at Stratford as in London, visiting the metropolis only while a new play was in rebearsal and preparation; but such was clearly not the case, and we may be confident that when he retired to a place so distant from the scene of his triumphs, he did not allow his mind to be encumbered by the continuance of professional anxieties.
It may seem difficult to reconcile with this consideration the undoubted fact, that in the spring of 1613 Shakespeare purchased a house, and a small piece of ground attached to it, not far from the Blackfriars theatre, in which we believe him to have disposed of his concern in the preceding year. The documents relating to this transaction have come down to us, and the indenture assigning the property from Henry Walker,
1 We have already inserted an extract from an epitaph upon Burbage, in which the writer enumerates many of the characters he sustained. The following lines in Sloane MS. No. 1786, (pointed out to us by Mr. Bruce,) are just worth preserving on account of the eminence of the mın to whom they relate :
"An Epitaph on Mr. RICHARD BURBAGE, the Player.
Here lies the best Tragedian ever play'd." From hence we might infer, against other authorities, that what was called the "tiring room" in thentres, was so called because the actors retired to it, and not attired in it. It most likely answered both purposes, but we sometimes find it called " the attiring room" by authors of the time.