A Life of William Shakespeare - with portraits and facsimiles
by Sidney Lee
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Plays at Court in 1613. Actor-friends.

The concluding years of Shakespeare's life (1611-1616) were mainly passed at Stratford. It is probable that in 1611 he disposed of his shares in the Globe and Blackfriars theatres. He owned none at the date of his death. But until 1614 he paid frequent visits to London, where friends in sympathy with his work were alone to be found. His plays continued to form the staple of Court performances. In May 1613, during the Princess Elizabeth's marriage festivities, Heming, Shakespeare's former colleague, produced at Whitehall no fewer than seven of his plays, viz. 'Much Ado,' 'Tempest,' 'Winter's Tale,' 'Sir John Falstaff' (i.e. 'Merry Wives'), 'Othello,' 'Julius Caesar,' 'and Hotspur' (doubtless 'Henry IV'). {264} Of his actor-friends, one of the chief, Augustine Phillips, had died in 1605, leaving by will 'to my fellowe, William Shakespeare, a thirty-shillings piece of gold.' With Burbage, Heming, and Condell his relations remained close to the end. Burbage, according to a poetic elegy, made his reputation by creating the leading parts in Shakespeare's greatest tragedies. Hamlet, Othello, and Lear were roles in which he gained especial renown. But Burbage and Shakespeare were popularly credited with co-operation in less solemn enterprises. They were reputed to be companions in many sportive adventures. The sole anecdote of Shakespeare that is positively known to have been recorded in his lifetime relates that Burbage, when playing Richard III, agreed with a lady in the audience to visit her after the performance; Shakespeare, overhearing the conversation, anticipated the actor's visit, and met Burbage on his arrival with the quip that 'William the Conqueror was before Richard the Third.' {265a}

Such gossip possibly deserves little more acceptance than the later story, in the same key, which credits Shakespeare with the paternity of Sir William D'Avenant. The latter was baptised at Oxford on March 3, 1605, as the son of John D'Avenant, the landlord of the Crown Inn, where Shakespeare lodged in his journeys to and from Stratford. The story of Shakespeare's parental relation to D'Avenant was long current in Oxford, and was at times complacently accepted by the reputed son. Shakespeare is known to have been a welcome guest at John D'Avenant's house, and another son, Robert, boasted of the kindly notice which the poet took of him as a child. {265b} It is safer to adopt the less compromising version which makes Shakespeare the godfather of the boy William instead of his father. But the antiquity and persistence of the scandal belie the assumption that Shakespeare was known to his contemporaries as a man of scrupulous virtue. Ben Jonson and Drayton—the latter a Warwickshire man—seem to have been Shakespeare's closest literary friends in his latest years.

Final settlement at Stratford.

At Stratford, in the words of Nicholas Rowe, 'the latter part of Shakespeare's life was spent, as all men of good sense will wish theirs may be, in ease, retirement, and the conversation of his friends.' As a resident in the town, he took a full share of social and civic responsibilities. On October 16, 1608, he stood chief godfather to William, son of Henry Walker, a mercer and alderman. On September 11, 1611, when he had finally settled in New Place, his name appeared in the margin of a folio page of donors (including all the principal inhabitants of Stratford) to a fund that was raised 'towards the charge of prosecuting the bill in Parliament for the better repair of the highways.'

Domestic affairs.

Meanwhile his own domestic affairs engaged some of his attention. Of his two surviving children—both daughters—the eldest, Susanna, had married, on June 5, 1607, John Hall (1575-1635), a rising physician of Puritan leanings, and in the following February there was born the poet's only granddaughter, Elizabeth Hall. On September 9, 1608, the poet's mother was buried in the parish church, and on February 4, 1613, his third brother Richard. On July 15, 1613, Mrs. Hall preferred, with her father's assistance, a charge of slander against one Lane in the ecclesiastical court at Worcester; the defendant, who had apparently charged the lady with illicit relations with one Ralph Smith, did not appear, and was excommunicated.

[Picture: Signature on Purchase-Deed]

Purchase of a house in Blackfriars.

In the same year (1613), when on a short visit to London, Shakespeare invested a small sum of money in a new property. This was his last investment in real estate. He then purchased a house, the ground-floor of which was a haberdasher's shop, with a yard attached. It was situated within six hundred feet of the Blackfriars Theatre—on the west side of St. Andrew's Hill, formerly termed Puddle Hill or Puddle Dock Hill, in the near neighbourhood of what is now known as Ireland Yard. The former owner, Henry Walker, a musician, had bought the property for 100 pounds in 1604. Shakespeare in 1613 agreed to pay him 140 pounds. The deeds of conveyance bear the date of March 10 in that year. {267} Next day, on March 11, Shakespeare executed another deed (now in the British Museum) which stipulated that 60 pounds of the purchase-money was to remain on mortgage until the following Michaelmas. The money was unpaid at Shakespeare's death. In both purchase-deed and mortgage-deed Shakespeare's signature was witnessed by (among others) Henry Lawrence, 'servant' or clerk to Robert Andrewes, the scrivener who drew the deeds, and Lawrence's seal, bearing his initials 'H. L.,' was stamped in each case on the parchment-tag, across the head of which Shakespeare wrote his name. In all three documents—the two indentures and the mortgage-deed—Shakespeare is described as 'of Stratford-on-Avon, in the Countie of Warwick, Gentleman.' There is no reason to suppose that he acquired the house for his own residence. He at once leased the property to John Robinson, already a resident in the neighbourhood.

[Picture: Signature on Mortgage-Deed]

Attempt to enclose the Stratford common fields.

With puritans and puritanism Shakespeare was not in sympathy, {268} and he could hardly have viewed with unvarying composure the steady progress that puritanism was making among his fellow-townsmen. Nevertheless a preacher, doubtless of puritan proclivities, was entertained at Shakespeare's residence, New Place, after delivering a sermon in the spring of 1614. The incident might serve to illustrate Shakespeare's characteristic placability, but his son-in-law Hall, who avowed sympathy with puritanism, was probably in the main responsible for the civility. {269a} In July John Combe, a rich inhabitant of Stratford, died and left 5 pounds to Shakespeare. The legend that Shakespeare alienated him by composing some doggerel on his practice of lending money at ten or twelve per cent. seems apocryphal, although it is quoted by Aubrey and accepted by Rowe. {269b} Combe's death involved Shakespeare more conspicuously than before in civic affairs. Combe's heir William no sooner succeeded to his father's lands than he, with a neighbouring owner, Arthur Mannering, steward of Lord-chancellor Ellesmere (who was ex-officio lord of the manor), attempted to enclose the common fields, which belonged to the corporation of Stratford, about his estate at Welcombe. The corporation resolved to offer the scheme a stout resistance. Shakespeare had a twofold interest in the matter by virtue of his owning the freehold of 106 acres at Welcombe and Old Stratford, and as joint owner—now with Thomas Greene, the town clerk—of the tithes of Old Stratford, Welcombe, and Bishopton. His interest in his freeholds could not have been prejudicially affected, but his interest in the tithes might be depreciated by the proposed enclosure. Shakespeare consequently joined with his fellow-owner Greene in obtaining from Combe's agent Replingham in October 1614 a deed indemnifying both against any injury they might suffer from the enclosure. But having thus secured himself against all possible loss, Shakespeare threw his influence into Combe's scale. In November 1614 he was on a last visit to London, and Greene, whose official position as town clerk compelled him to support the corporation in defiance of his private interests, visited him there to discuss the position of affairs. On December 23, 1614, the corporation in formal meeting drew up a letter to Shakespeare imploring him to aid them. Greene himself sent to the dramatist 'a note of inconveniences [to the corporation that] would happen by the enclosure.' But although an ambiguous entry of a later date (September 1615) in the few extant pages of Greene's ungrammatical diary has been unjustifiably tortured into an expression of disgust on Shakespeare's part at Combe's conduct, {271} it is plain that, in the spirit of his agreement with Combe's agent, he continued to lend Combe his countenance. Happily Combe's efforts failed, and the common lands remain unenclosed.

Death. Burial.

At the beginning of 1616 Shakespeare's health was failing. He directed Francis Collins, a solicitor of Warwick, to draft his will, but, though it was prepared for signature on January 25, it was for the time laid aside. On February 10, 1616, Shakespeare's younger daughter, Judith, married, at Stratford parish church, Thomas Quincy, four years her junior, a son of an old friend of the poet. The ceremony took place apparently without public asking of the banns and before a license was procured. The irregularity led to the summons of the bride and bridegroom to the ecclesiastical court at Worcester and the imposition of a fine. According to the testimony of John Ward, the vicar, Shakespeare entertained at New Place his two friends, Michael Drayton and Ben Jonson, in this same spring of 1616, and 'had a merry meeting,' but 'itt seems drank too hard, for Shakespeare died of a feavour there contracted.' A popular local legend, which was not recorded till 1762, {272a} credited Shakespeare with engaging at an earlier date in a prolonged and violent drinking bout at Bidford, a neighbouring village, {272b} but his achievements as a hard drinker may be dismissed as unproven. The cause of his death is undetermined, but probably his illness seemed likely to take a fatal turn in March, when he revised and signed the will that had been drafted in the previous January. On Tuesday, April 23, he died at the age of fifty-two. {272c} On Thursday, April 25 (O.S.), the poet was buried inside Stratford Church, near the northern wall of the chancel, in which, as part-owner of the tithes, and consequently one of the lay-rectors, he had a right of interment. Hard by was the charnel-house, where bones dug up from the churchyard were deposited. Over the poet's grave were inscribed the lines:

Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbeare To dig the dust enclosed heare; Bleste be the man that spares these stones, And curst be he that moves my bones.

According to one William Hall, who described a visit to Stratford in 1694, {273} these verses were penned by Shakespeare to suit 'the capacity of clerks and sextons, for the most part a very ignorant set of people.' Had this curse not threatened them, Hall proceeds, the sexton would not have hesitated in course of time to remove Shakespeare's dust to 'the bone-house.' As it was, the grave was made seventeen feet deep, and was never opened, even to receive his wife, although she expressed a desire to be buried with her husband.

[Picture: Signatures from each sheet of the will]

The will. Bequest to his wife.

Shakespeare's will, the first draft of which was drawn up before January 25, 1616, received many interlineations and erasures before it was signed in the ensuing March. Francis Collins, the solicitor of Warwick, and Thomas Russell, 'esquier,' of Stratford, were the overseers; it was proved by John Hall, the poet's son-in-law and joint-executor with Mrs. Hall, in London on June 22 following. The religious exordium is in conventional phraseology, and gives no clue to Shakespeare's personal religious opinions. What those opinions were, we have neither the means nor the warrant for discussing. But while it is possible to quote from the plays many contemptuous references to the puritans and their doctrines, we may dismiss as idle gossip Davies's irresponsible report that 'he dyed a papist.' The name of Shakespeare's wife was omitted from the original draft of the will, but by an interlineation in the final draft she received his second best bed with its furniture. No other bequest was made her. Several wills of the period have been discovered in which a bedstead or other article of household furniture formed part of a wife's inheritance, but none except Shakespeare's is forthcoming in which a bed forms the sole bequest. At the same time the precision with which Shakespeare's will accounts for and assigns to other legatees every known item of his property refutes the conjecture that he had set aside any portion of it under a previous settlement or jointure with a view to making independent provision for his wife. Her right to a widow's dower—i.e. to a third share for life in freehold estate—was not subject to testamentary disposition, but Shakespeare had taken steps to prevent her from benefiting—at any rate to the full extent—by that legal arrangement. He had barred her dower in the case of his latest purchase of freehold estate, viz. the house at Blackfriars. {274} Such procedure is pretty conclusive proof that he had the intention of excluding her from the enjoyment of his possessions after his death. But, however plausible the theory that his relations with her were from first to last wanting in sympathy, it is improbable that either the slender mention of her in the will or the barring of her dower was designed by Shakespeare to make public his indifference or dislike. Local tradition subsequently credited her with a wish to be buried in his grave; and her epitaph proves that she inspired her daughters with genuine affection. Probably her ignorance of affairs and the infirmities of age (she was past sixty) combined to unfit her in the poet's eyes for the control of property, and, as an act of ordinary prudence, he committed her to the care of his elder daughter, who inherited, according to such information as is accessible, some of his own shrewdness, and had a capable adviser in her husband.

His heiress. Legacies to friends.

This elder daughter, Susanna Hall, was, according to the will, to become mistress of New Place, and practically of all the poet's estate. She received (with remainder to her issue in strict entail) New Place, all the land, barns, and gardens at and near Stratford (except the tenement in Chapel Lane), and the house in Blackfriars, London, while she and her husband were appointed executors and residuary legatees, with full rights over nearly all the poet's household furniture and personal belongings. To their only child and the testator's granddaughter, or 'niece,' Elizabeth Hall, was bequeathed the poet's plate, with the exception of his broad silver and gilt bowl, which was reserved for his younger daughter, Judith. To his younger daughter he also left, with the tenement in Chapel Lane (in remainder to the elder daughter), 150 pounds in money, of which 100 pounds, her marriage portion, was to be paid within a year, and another 150 pounds to be paid to her if alive three years after the date of the will. {276a} To the poet's sister, Joan Hart, whose husband, William Hart, predeceased the testator by only six days, he left, besides a contingent reversionary interest in Judith's pecuniary legacy, his wearing apparel, 20 pounds in money, a life interest in the Henley Street property, with 5 pounds for each of her three sons, William, Thomas, and Michael. To the poor of Stratford he gave 10 pounds, and to Mr. Thomas Combe (apparently a brother of William, of the enclosure controversy) his sword. To each of his Stratford friends, Hamlett Sadler, William Reynoldes, Anthony Nash, and John Nash, and to each of his 'fellows' (i.e. theatrical colleagues in London), John Heming, Richard Burbage, and Henry Condell, he left xxvjs. viijd., with which to buy memorial rings. His godson, William Walker, received 'xx' shillings in gold.

The tomb.

Before 1623 {276b} an elaborate monument, by a London sculptor of Dutch birth, Gerard Johnson, was erected to Shakespeare's memory in the chancel of the parish church. {277} It includes a half-length bust, depicting the dramatist on the point of writing. The fingers of the right hand are disposed as if holding a pen, and under the left hand lies a quarto sheet of paper. The inscription, which was apparently by a London friend, runs:

Judicio Pylium, genio Socratem, arte Maronem, Terra tegit, populus maeret, Olympus habet.

Stay passenger, why goest thou by so fast? Read, if thou canst, whom envious death hath plast Within this monument; Shakespeare with whome Quick nature dide; whose name doth deck ys tombe Far more than cost; sith all yt he hath writt Leaves living art but page to serve his witt.

Obiit ano. doi 1616 AEtatis 53 Die 23 Ap.

Personal character.

At the opening of Shakespeare's career Chettle wrote of his 'civil demeanour' and of the reports of 'his uprightness of dealing which argues his honesty.' In 1601—when near the zenith of his fame—he was apostrophised as 'sweet Master Shakespeare' in the play of 'The Return from Parnassus,' and that adjective was long after associated with his name. In 1604 one Anthony Scoloker in a poem called 'Daiphantus' bestowed on him the epithet 'friendly.' After the close of his career Jonson wrote of him: 'I loved the man and do honour his memory, on this side idolatry as much as any. He was, indeed, honest and of an open and free nature.' {278a} No other contemporary left on record any definite impression of Shakespeare's personal character, and the 'Sonnets,' which alone of his literary work can be held to throw any illumination on a personal trait, mainly reveal him in the light of one who was willing to conform to all the conventional methods in vogue for strengthening the bonds between a poet and a great patron. His literary practices and aims were those of contemporary men of letters, and the difference in the quality of his work and theirs was due not to conscious endeavour on his part to act otherwise than they, but to the magic and involuntary working of his genius. He seemed unconscious of his marvellous superiority to his professional comrades. The references in his will to his fellow-actors, and the spirit in which (as they announce in the First Folio) they approached the task of collecting his works after his death, corroborate the description of him as a sympathetic friend of gentle, unassuming mien. The later traditions brought together by Aubrey depict him as 'very good company, and of a very ready and pleasant smooth wit,' and there is much in other early posthumous references to suggest a genial, if not a convivial, temperament, linked to a quiet turn for good-humoured satire. But Bohemian ideals and modes of life had no genuine attraction for Shakespeare. His extant work attests his 'copious' and continuous industry, {278b} and with his literary power and sociability there clearly went the shrewd capacity of a man of business. Pope had just warrant for the surmise that he

For gain not glory winged his roving flight, And grew immortal in his own despite.

His literary attainments and successes were chiefly valued as serving the prosaic end of providing permanently for himself and his daughters. His highest ambition was to restore among his fellow-townsmen the family repute which his father's misfortunes had imperilled. Ideals so homely are reckoned rare among poets, but Chaucer and Sir Walter Scott, among writers of exalted genius, vie with Shakespeare in the sobriety of their personal aims and in the sanity of their mental attitude towards life's ordinary incidents.


The survivors. Mistress Judith Quiney.

Shakespeare's widow died on August 6, 1623, at the age of sixty-seven, and was buried near her husband inside the chancel two days later. Some affectionately phrased Latin elegiacs—doubtless from Dr. Hall's pen—were inscribed on a brass plate fastened to the stone above her grave. {280} The younger daughter, Judith, resided with her husband, Thomas Quiney, at The Cage, a house which he leased in Bridge Street from 1616 till 1652. There he carried on the trade of a vintner, and took part in municipal affairs, acting as a councillor from 1617 and as chamberlain in 1621-2 and 1622-3; but after 1630 his affairs grew embarrassed, and he left Stratford late in 1652 for London, where he seems to have died a few months later. Of his three sons by Judith, the eldest, Shakespeare (baptised on November 23, 1616), was buried in Stratford Churchyard on May 8, 1617; the second son, Richard (baptised on February 9, 1617-18), was buried on January 28, 1638-9; and the third son, Thomas (baptised on January 23, 1619-20), was buried on February 26, 1638-9. Judith survived her husband, sons, and sister, dying at Stratford on February 9, 1661-2, in her seventy-seventh year.

Mistress Susannah Hall.

The poet's elder daughter, Mrs. Susanna Hall, resided at New Place till her death. Her sister Judith alienated to her the Chapel Place tenement before 1633, but that, with the interest in the Stratford tithes, she soon disposed of. Her husband, Dr. John Hall, died on November 25, 1635. In 1642 James Cooke, a surgeon in attendance on some Royalist troops stationed at Stratford, visited Mrs. Hall and examined manuscripts in her possession, but they were apparently of her husband's, not of her father's, composition. {281} From July 11 to 13, 1643, Queen Henrietta Maria, while journeying from Newark to Oxford, was billeted on Mrs. Hall at New Place for three days, and was visited there by Prince Rupert. Mrs. Hall was buried beside her husband in Stratford Churchyard on July 11, 1649, and a rhyming inscription, describing her as 'witty above her sex,' was engraved on her tombstone. The whole inscription ran: 'Heere lyeth ye body of Svsanna, wife to John Hall, Gent. ye davghter of William Shakespeare, Gent. She deceased ye 11th of Jvly, A.D. 1649, aged 66.

'Witty above her sexe, but that's not all, Wise to Salvation was good Mistress Hall, Something of Shakespere was in that, but this Wholy of him with whom she's now in blisse. Then, passenger, ha'st ne're a teare, To weepe with her that wept with all? That wept, yet set herselfe to chere Them up with comforts cordiall. Her Love shall live, her mercy spread, When thou hast ne're a teare to shed.'

The last descendant.

Mrs. Hall's only child, Elizabeth, was the last surviving descendant of the poet. In April 1626 she married her first husband, Thomas Nash of Stratford (b. 1593), who studied at Lincoln's Inn, was a man of property, and, dying childless at New Place on April 4, 1647, was buried in Stratford Church next day. At Billesley, a village four miles from Stratford, on June 5, 1649, Mrs. Nash married, as a second husband, a widower, John Bernard or Barnard of Abington, Northamptonshire, who was knighted by Charles II in 1661. About the same date she seems to have abandoned New Place for her husband's residence at Abington. Dying without issue, she was buried there on February 17, 1669-70. Her husband survived her four years, and was buried beside her. {282} On her mother's death in 1649 Lady Barnard inherited under the poet's will the land near Stratford, New Place, the house at Blackfriars, and (on the death of the poet's sister, Joan Hart, in 1646) the houses in Henley Street, while her father, Dr. Hall, left her in 1635 a house at Acton with a meadow. She sold the Blackfriars house, and apparently the Stratford land, before 1667. By her will, dated January 1669-70, and proved in the following March, she left small bequests to the daughters of Thomas Hathaway, of the family of her grandmother, the poet's wife. The houses in Henley Street passed to her cousin, Thomas Hart, the grandson of the poet's sister Joan, and they remained in the possession of Thomas's direct descendants till 1806 (the male line expired on the death of John Hart in 1800). By her will Lady Barnard also ordered New Place to be sold, and it was purchased on May 18, 1675, by Sir Edward Walker, through whose daughter Barbara, wife of Sir John Clopton, it reverted to the Clopton family. Sir John rebuilt it in 1702. On the death of his son Hugh in 1752, it was bought by the Rev. Francis Gastrell (d. 1768), who demolished the new building in 1759. {283}

Shakespeare's brothers.

Of Shakespeare's three brothers, only one, Gilbert, seems to have survived him. Edmund, the youngest brother, 'a player,' was buried at St. Saviour's Church, Southwark, 'with a fore-noone knell of the great bell,' on December 31, 1607; he was in his twenty-eighth year. Richard, John Shakespeare's third son, died at Stratford in February 1613, aged 29. 'Gilbert Shakespeare adolescens,' who was buried at Stratford on February 3, 1611-12, was doubtless son of the poet's next brother, Gilbert; the latter, having nearly completed his forty-sixth year, could scarcely be described as 'adolescens;' his death is not recorded, but according to Oldys he survived to a patriarchal age.


Spelling of the poet's surname. Autograph signatures.

Much controversy has arisen over the spelling of the poet's surname. It has been proved capable of four thousand variations. {284} The name of the poet's father is entered sixty-six times in the council books of Stratford, and is spelt in sixteen ways. The commonest form is 'Shaxpeare.' Five autographs of the poet of undisputed authenticity are extant: his signature to the indenture relating to the purchase of the property in Blackfriars, dated March 10, 1612-13 (since 1841 in the Guildhall Library); his signature to the mortgage-deed relating to the same purchase, dated March 11, 1612-13 (since 1858 in the British Museum), and the three signatures on the three sheets of his will, dated March 25, 1615-16 (now at Somerset House). In all the signatures some of the letters are represented by recognised signs of abbreviation. The signature to the first document is 'William Shakspere,' though in all other portions of the deed the name is spelt 'Shakespeare.' The signature to the second document has been interpreted both as Shakspere and Shakspeare. The ink of the first signature in the will has now faded almost beyond decipherment, but that it was 'Shakspere' may be inferred from the facsimile made by Steevens in 1776. The second and third signatures to the will, which are also somewhat difficult to decipher, have been read both as Shakspere and Shakspeare; but a close examination suggests that whatever the second signature may be, the third is 'Shakespeare.' Shakspere is the spelling of the alleged autograph in the British Museum copy of Florio's 'Montaigne,' but the genuineness of that signature is disputable. {285} Shakespeare was the form adopted in the full signature appended to the dedicatory epistles of the 'Venus and Adonis' of 1593 and the 'Lucrece' of 1594, volumes which were produced under the poet's supervision. It is the spelling adopted on the title-pages of the majority of contemporary editions of his works, whether or not produced under his supervision. It is adopted in almost all the published references to the poet during the seventeenth century. It appears in the grant of arms in 1596, in the license to the players of 1603, and in the text of all the legal documents relating to the poet's property. The poet, like most of his contemporaries, acknowledged no finality on the subject. According to the best authority, he spelt his surname in two ways when signing his will. There is consequently no good ground for abandoning the form Shakespeare, which is sanctioned by legal and literary custom. {286}

Shakespeare's portraits. The Stratford bust. The 'Stratford' portrait.

Aubrey reported that Shakespeare was 'a handsome well-shap't man,' but no portrait exists which can be said with absolute certainty to have been executed during his lifetime, although one has recently been discovered with a good claim to that distinction. Only two of the extant portraits are positively known to have been produced within a short period after his death. These are the bust in Stratford Church and the frontispiece to the folio of 1623. Each is an inartistic attempt at a posthumous likeness. There is considerable discrepancy between the two; their main points of resemblance are the baldness on the top of the head and the fulness of the hair about the ears. The bust was by Gerard Johnson or Janssen, who was a Dutch stonemason or tombmaker settled in Southwark. It was set up in the church before 1623, and is a rudely carved specimen of mortuary sculpture. There are marks about the forehead and ears which suggest that the face was fashioned from a death mask, but the workmanship is at all points clumsy. The round face and eyes present a heavy, unintellectual expression. The bust was originally coloured, but in 1793 Malone caused it to be whitewashed. In 1861 the whitewash was removed, and the colours, as far as traceable, restored. The eyes are light hazel, the hair and beard auburn. There have been numberless reproductions, both engraved and photographic. It was first engraved—very imperfectly—for Rowe's edition in 1709; then by Vertue for Pope's edition of 1725; and by Gravelot for Hanmer's edition in 1744. A good engraving by William Ward appeared in 1816. A phototype and a chromo-phototype, issued by the New Shakspere Society, are the best reproductions for the purposes of study. The pretentious painting known as the 'Stratford' portrait, and presented in 1867 by W. O. Hunt, town clerk of Stratford, to the Birthplace Museum, where it is very prominently displayed, was probably painted from the bust late in the eighteenth century; it lacks either historic or artistic interest.

Droeshout's engraving.

The engraved portrait—nearly a half-length—which was printed on the title-page of the folio of 1623, was by Martin Droeshout. On the opposite page lines by Ben Jonson congratulate 'the graver' on having satisfactorily 'hit' the poet's 'face.' Jonson's testimony does no credit to his artistic discernment; the expression of countenance, which is very crudely rendered, is neither distinctive nor lifelike. The face is long and the forehead high; the top of the head is bald, but the hair falls in abundance over the ears. There is a scanty moustache and a thin tuft under the lower lip. A stiff and wide collar, projecting horizontally, conceals the neck. The coat is closely buttoned and elaborately bordered, especially at the shoulders. The dimensions of the head and face are disproportionately large as compared with those of the body. In the unique proof copy which belonged to Halliwell-Phillipps (now with his collection in America) the tone is clearer than in the ordinary copies, and the shadows are less darkened by cross-hatching and coarse dotting. The engraver, Martin Droeshout, belonged to a Flemish family of painters and engravers long settled in London, where he was born in 1601. He was thus fifteen years old at the time of Shakespeare's death in 1616, and it is consequently improbable that he had any personal knowledge of the dramatist. The engraving was doubtless produced by Droeshout very shortly before the publication of the First Folio in 1623, when he had completed his twenty-second year. It thus belongs to the outset of the engraver's professional career, in which he never achieved extended practice or reputation. A copy of the Droeshout engraving, by William Marshall, was prefixed to Shakespeare's 'Poems' in 1640, and William Faithorne made another copy for the frontispiece of the edition of 'The Rape of Lucrece' published in 1655.

The 'Droeshout' painting.

There is little doubt that young Droeshout in fashioning his engraving worked from a painting, and there is a likelihood that the original picture from which the youthful engraver worked has lately come to light. As recently as 1892 Mr. Edgar Flower, of Stratford-on-Avon, discovered in the possession of Mr. H. C. Clements, a private gentleman with artistic tastes residing at Peckham Rye, a portrait alleged to represent Shakespeare. The picture, which was faded and somewhat worm-eaten, dated beyond all doubt from the early years of the seventeenth century. It was painted on a panel formed of two planks of old elm, and in the upper left-hand corner was the inscription 'Willm Shakespeare, 1609.' Mr. Clements purchased the portrait of an obscure dealer about 1840, and knew nothing of its history, beyond what he set down on a slip of paper when he acquired it. The note that he then wrote and pasted on the box in which he preserved the picture, ran as follows: 'The original portrait of Shakespeare, from which the now famous Droeshout engraving was taken and inserted in the first collected edition of his works, published in 1623, being seven years after his death. The picture was painted nine [vere seven] years before his death, and consequently sixteen [vere fourteen] years before it was published. . . . The picture was publicly exhibited in London seventy years ago, and many thousands went to see it.' In all its details and in its comparative dimensions, especially in the disproportion between the size of the head and that of the body, this picture is identical with the Droeshout engraving. Though coarsely and stiffly drawn, the face is far more skilfully presented than in the engraving, and the expression of countenance betrays some artistic sentiment which is absent from the print. Connoisseurs, including Sir Edward Poynter, Mr. Sidney Colvin, and Mr. Lionel Cust, have almost unreservedly pronounced the picture to be anterior in date to the engraving, and they have reached the conclusion that in all probability Martin Droeshout directly based his work upon the painting. Influences of an early seventeenth-century Flemish school are plainly discernible in the picture, and it is just possible that it is the production of an uncle of the young engraver Martin Droeshout, who bore the same name as his nephew, and was naturalised in this country on January 25, 1608, when he was described as a 'painter of Brabant.' Although the history of the portrait rests on critical conjecture and on no external contemporary evidence, there seems good ground for regarding it as a portrait of Shakespeare painted in his lifetime—in the forty-fifth year of his age. No other pictorial representation of the poet has equally serious claims to be treated as contemporary with himself, and it therefore presents features of unique interest. On the death of its owner, Mr. Clements, in 1895, the painting was purchased by Mrs. Charles Flower, and was presented to the Memorial Picture Gallery at Stratford, where it now hangs. No attempt at restoration has been made. A photogravure forms the frontispiece to the present volume. {290}

Of the same type as the Droeshout engraving, although less closely resembling it than the picture just described, is the 'Ely House' portrait (now the property of the Birthplace Trustees at Stratford), which formerly belonged to Thomas Turton, Bishop of Ely, and it is inscribed 'AE. 39 x. 1603.' {291a} This painting is of high artistic value. The features are of a far more attractive and intellectual cast than in either the Droeshout painting or engraving, and the many differences in detail raise doubts as to whether the person represented can have been intended for Shakespeare. Experts are of opinion that the picture was painted early in the seventeenth century.

Early in Charles II's reign Lord Chancellor Clarendon added a portrait of Shakespeare to his great gallery in his house in St. James's. Mention is made of it in a letter from the diarist John Evelyn to his friend Samuel Pepys in 1689, but Clarendon's collection was dispersed at the end of the seventeenth century and the picture has not been traced. {291b}

Later portraits.

Of the numerous extant paintings which have been described as portraits of Shakespeare, only the 'Droeshout' portrait and the Ely House portrait, both of which are at Stratford, bear any definable resemblance to the folio engraving or the bust in the church. {291c} In spite of their admitted imperfections, those presentments can alone be held indisputably to have been honestly designed to depict the poet's features. They must be treated as the standards of authenticity in judging of the genuineness of other portraits claiming to be of an early date.

The 'Chandos' portrait.

Of other alleged portraits which are extant, the most famous and interesting is the 'Chandos' portrait, now in the National Portrait Gallery. Its pedigree suggests that it was intended to represent the poet, but numerous and conspicuous divergences from the authenticated likenesses show that it was painted from fanciful descriptions of him some years after his death. The face is bearded, and rings adorn the ears. Oldys reported that it was from the brush of Burbage, Shakespeare's fellow-actor, who had some reputation as a limner, {292} and that it had belonged to Joseph Taylor, an actor contemporary with Shakespeare. These rumours are not corroborated; but there is no doubt that it was at one time the property of D'Avenant, and that it subsequently belonged successively to the actor Betterton and to Mrs. Barry the actress. In 1693 Sir Godfrey Kneller made a copy as a gift for Dryden. After Mrs Barry's death in 1713 it was purchased for forty guineas by Robert Keck, a barrister of the Inner Temple. At length it reached the hands of one John Nichols, whose daughter married James Brydges, third duke of Chandos. In due time the Duke became the owner of the picture, and it subsequently passed, through Chandos's daughter, to her husband, the first Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, whose son, the second Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, sold it with the rest of his effects at Stowe in 1848, when it was purchased by the Earl of Ellesmere. The latter presented it to the nation. Edward Capell many years before presented a copy by Ranelagh Barret to Trinity College, Cambridge, and other copies are attributed to Sir Joshua Reynolds and Ozias Humphrey (1783). It was engraved by George Vertue in 1719 for Pope's edition (1725), and often later, one of the best engravings being by Vandergucht. A good lithograph from a tracing by Sir George Scharf was published by the trustees of the National Portrait Gallery in 1864. The Baroness Burdett-Coutts purchased in 1875 a portrait of similar type, which is said, somewhat doubtfully, to have belonged to John lord Lumley, who died in 1609, and to have formed part of a collection of portraits of the great men of his day at his house, Lumley Castle, Durham. Its early history is not positively authenticated, and it may well be an early copy of the Chandos portrait. The 'Lumley' painting was finely chromo-lithographed in 1863 by Vincent Brooks.

The 'Jansen' portrait.

The so-called 'Jansen' or Janssens portrait, which belongs to Lady Guendolen Ramsden, daughter of the Duke of Somerset, and is now at her residence at Bulstrode, was first doubtfully identified about 1770, when in the possession of Charles Jennens. Janssens did not come to England before Shakespeare's death. It is a fine portrait, but is unlike any other that has been associated with the dramatist. An admirable mezzotint by Richard Earlom was issued in 1811.

The 'Felton' portrait.

The 'Felton' portrait, a small head on a panel, with a high and very bald forehead (belonging since 1873 to the Baroness Burdett-Coutts), was purchased by S. Felton of Drayton, Shropshire, in 1792 of J. Wilson, the owner of the Shakespeare Museum in Pall Mall; it bears a late inscription, 'Gul. Shakespear 1597, R. B.' [i.e. Richard Burbage]. It was engraved by Josiah Boydell for George Steevens in 1797, and by James Neagle for Isaac Reed's edition in 1803. Fuseli declared it to be the work of a Dutch artist, but the painters Romney and Lawrence regarded it as of English workmanship of the sixteenth century. Steevens held that it was the original picture whence both Droeshout and Marshall made their engravings, but there are practically no points of resemblance between it and the prints.

[Picture: Plaster-cast of bust of William Shakespeare]

The 'Soest' portrait.

The 'Soest' or 'Zoust' portrait—in the possession of Sir John Lister-Kaye of the Grange, Wakefield—was in the collection of Thomas Wright, painter, of Covent Garden in 1725, when John Simon engraved it. Soest was born twenty-one years after Shakespeare's death, and the portrait is only on fanciful grounds identified with the poet. A chalk drawing by John Michael Wright, obviously inspired by the Soest portrait, is the property of Sir Arthur Hodgson of Clopton House, and is on loan at the Memorial Gallery, Stratford.


A well-executed miniature by Hilliard, at one time in the possession of William Somerville the poet, and now the property Of Sir Stafford Northcote, bart., was engraved by Agar for vol. ii. of the 'Variorum Shakespeare' of 1821, and in Wivell's 'Inquiry,' 1827. It has little claim to attention as a portrait of the dramatist. Another miniature (called the 'Auriol' portrait), of doubtful authenticity, formerly belonged to Mr. Lumsden Propert, and a third is at Warwick Castle.

The Garrick Club bust.

A bust, said to be of Shakespeare, was discovered in 1845 bricked up in a wall in Spode and Copeland's china warehouse in Lincoln's Inn Fields. The warehouse had been erected on the site of the Duke's Theatre, which was built by D'Avenant in 1660. The bust, which is of black terra cotta, and bears traces of Italian workmanship, is believed to have adorned the proscenium of the Duke's Theatre. It was acquired by the surgeon William Clift, from whom it passed to Clift's son-in-law, Richard (afterwards Sir Richard) Owen the naturalist. The latter sold it to the Duke of Devonshire, who presented it in 1851 to the Garrick Club, after having two copies made in plaster. One of these copies is now in the Shakespeare Memorial Gallery at Stratford, and from it an engraving has been made for reproduction in this volume.

Alleged death-mask.

The Kesselstadt death-mask was discovered by Dr. Ludwig Becker, librarian at the ducal palace at Darmstadt, in a rag-shop at Mayence in 1849. The features resemble those of an alleged portrait of Shakespeare (dated 1637) which Dr. Becker purchased in 1847. This picture had long been in the possession of the family of Count Francis von Kesselstadt of Mayence, who died in 1843. Dr. Becker brought the mask and the picture to England in 1849, and Richard Owen supported the theory that the mask was taken from Shakespeare's face after death, and was the foundation of the bust in Stratford Church. The mask was for a long time in Dr. Becker's private apartments at the ducal palace, Darmstadt. {296a} The features are singularly attractive; but the chain of evidence which would identify them with Shakespeare is incomplete. {296b}

Memorials in sculpture.

A monument, the expenses of which were defrayed by public subscription, was set up in the Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey in 1741. Pope and the Earl of Burlington were among the promoters. The design was by William Kent, and the statue of Shakespeare was executed by Peter Scheemakers. {297} Another statue was executed by Roubiliac for Garrick, who bequeathed it to the British Museum in 1779. A third statue, freely adapted from the works of Scheemakers and Roubiliac, was executed for Baron Albert Grant and was set up by him as a gift to the metropolis in Leicester Square, London, in 1879. A fourth statue (by Mr. J. A. Q. Ward) was placed in 1882 in the Central Park, New York. A fifth in bronze, by M. Paul Fournier, which was erected in Paris in 1888 at the expense of an English resident, Mr. W. Knighton, stands at the point where the Avenue de Messine meets the Boulevard Haussmann. A sixth memorial in sculpture, by Lord Ronald Gower, the most elaborate and ambitious of all, stands in the garden of the Shakespeare Memorial buildings at Stratford-on-Avon, and was unveiled in 1888; Shakespeare is seated on a high pedestal; below, at each side of the pedestal, stand figures of four of Shakespeare's principal characters: Lady Macbeth, Hamlet, Prince Hal, and Sir John Falstaff.

At Stratford, the Birthplace, which was acquired by the public in 1846 and converted into a museum, is with Anne Hathaway's cottage (which was acquired by the Birthplace Trustees in 1892), a place of pilgrimage for visitors from all parts of the globe. The 27,038 persons who visited it in 1896 and the 26,510 persons who visited it in 1897 represented over forty nationalities. The site of the demolished New Place, with the gardens, was also purchased by public subscription in 1861, and now forms a public garden. Of a new memorial building on the river-bank at Stratford, consisting of a theatre, picture-gallery, and library, the foundation-stone was laid on April 23, 1877. The theatre was opened exactly two years later, when 'Much Ado about Nothing' was performed, with Helen Faucit (Lady Martin) as Beatrice and Barry Sullivan as Benedick. Performances of Shakespeare's plays have since been given annually during April. The library and picture-gallery were opened in 1881. {298} A memorial Shakespeare library was opened at Birmingham on April 23, 1868, to commemorate the tercentenary of 1864, and, although destroyed by fire in 1879, was restored in 1882; it now possesses nearly ten thousand volumes relating to Shakespeare.


Quartos of the poems in the poet's lifetime.

Only two of Shakespeare's works—his narrative poems 'Venus and Adonis' and 'Lucrece'—were published with his sanction and co-operation. These poems were the first specimens of his work to appear in print, and they passed in his lifetime through a greater number of editions than any of his plays. At the time of his death in 1616 there had been printed in quarto seven editions of his 'Venus and Adonis' (1593, 1594, 1596, 1599, 1600, and two in 1602), and five editions of his 'Lucrece' (1594, 1598, 1600, 1607, 1616). There was only one lifetime edition of the 'Sonnets,' Thorpe's surreptitious venture of 1609; {299} but three editions were issued of the piratical 'Passionate Pilgrim,' which was fraudulently assigned to Shakespeare by the publisher William Jaggard, although it contained only a few occasional poems by him (1599, 1600 no copy known, and 1612).

Posthumous quartos of the poems.

Of posthumous editions in quarto of the two narrative poems in the seventeenth century, there were two of 'Lucrece'—viz. in 1624 ('the sixth edition') and in 1655 (with John Quarles's 'Banishment of Tarquin')—and there were as many as six editions of 'Venus' (1617, 1620, 1627, two in 1630, and 1636), making thirteen editions in all in forty-three years. No later editions of these two poems were issued in the seventeenth century. They were next reprinted together with 'The Passionate Pilgrim' in 1707, and thenceforth they usually figured, with the addition of the 'Sonnets,' in collected editions of Shakespeare's works.

The 'Poems' of 1640.

A so-called first collected edition of Shakespeare's 'Poems' in 1640 (London, by T. Cotes for I. Benson) was mainly a reissue of the 'Sonnets,' but it omitted six (Nos. xviii., xix., xliii., lvi., lxxv., and lxxvi.) and it included the twenty poems of 'The Passionate Pilgrim,' with some other pieces by other authors. Marshall's copy of the Droeshout engraving of 1623 formed the frontispiece. There were prefatory poems by Leonard Digges and John Warren, as well as an address 'to the reader' signed with the initials of the publisher. There Shakespeare's 'Sonnets' were described as 'serene, clear, and elegantly plain; such gentle strains as shall re-create and not perplex your brain. No intricate or cloudy stuff to puzzle intellect. Such as will raise your admiration to his praise.' A chief point of interest in the volume of 'Poems' of 1640 is the fact that the 'Sonnets' were printed then in a different order from that which was followed in the volume of 1609. Thus the poem numbered lxvii. in the original edition opens the reissue, and what has been regarded as the crucial poem, beginning

Two loves I have of comfort and despair,

which was in 1609 numbered cxliv., takes the thirty-second place in 1640. In most cases a more or less fanciful general title is placed in the second edition at the head of each sonnet, but in a few instances a single title serves for short sequences of two or three sonnets which are printed as independent poems continuously without spacing. The poems drawn from 'The Passionate Pilgrim' are intermingled with the 'Sonnets,' together with extracts from Thomas Heywood's 'General History of Women,' although no hint is given that they are not Shakespeare's work. The edition concludes with three epitaphs on Shakespeare and a short section entitled 'an addition of some excellent poems to those precedent by other Gentlemen.' The volume is of great rarity. An exact reprint was published in 1885.

Quartos of the plays in the poet's lifetime.

Of Shakespeare's plays there were in print in 1616 only sixteen (all in quarto), or eighteen if we include the 'Contention,' the first draft of '2 Henry VI' (1594 and 1600), and 'The True Tragedy,' the first draft of '3 Henry VI' (1595 and 1600). These sixteen quartos were publishers' ventures, and were undertaken without the co-operation of the author.

Two of the plays, published thus, reached five editions before 1616, viz. 'Richard III' (1597, 1598, 1602, 1605, 1612) and '1 Henry IV' (1598, 1599, 1604, 1608, 1615).

Three reached four editions, viz. 'Richard II' (1597, 1598, 1608 supplying the deposition scene for the first time, 1615); 'Hamlet' (1603 imperfect, 1604, 1605, 1611), and 'Romeo and Juliet' (1597 imperfect, 1599, two in 1609).

Two reached three editions, viz. 'Henry V' (1600 imperfect, 1602, and 1608) and 'Pericles' (two in 1609, 1611).

Four reached two editions, viz. 'Midsummer Night's Dream' (both in 1600); 'Merchant of Venice' (both in 1600); 'Lear' (both in 1608); and 'Troilus and Cressida' (both in 1609).

Five achieved only one edition, viz. 'Love's Labour's Lost' (1598), '2 Henry IV' (1600), 'Much Ado' (1600), 'Titus' (1600), 'Merry Wives' (1602 imperfect).

Posthumous quartos of the plays.

Three years after Shakespeare's death—in 1619—there appeared a second edition of 'Merry Wives' (again imperfect) and a fourth of 'Pericles.' 'Othello' was first printed posthumously in 1622 (4to), and in the same year sixth editions of 'Richard III' and 'I Henry IV' appeared. {302} The largest collections of the original quartos—each of which survives in only four, five, or six copies—are in the libraries of the Duke of Devonshire, the British Museum, and Trinity College, Cambridge, and in the Bodleian Library. {303} All the quartos were issued in Shakespeare's day at sixpence each.

The First Folio. The publishing syndicate.

In 1623 the first attempt was made to give the world a complete edition of Shakespeare's plays. Two of the dramatist's intimate friends and fellow-actors, John Heming and Henry Condell, were nominally responsible for the venture, but it seems to have been suggested by a small syndicate of printers and publishers, who undertook all pecuniary responsibility. Chief of the syndicate was William Jaggard, printer since 1611 to the City of London, who was established in business in Fleet Street at the east end of St. Dunstan's Church. As the piratical publisher of 'The Passionate Pilgrim' he had long known the commercial value of Shakespeare's work. In 1613 he had extended his business by purchasing the stock and rights of a rival pirate, James Roberts, who had printed the quarto editions of the 'Merchant of Venice' and 'Midsummer Night's Dream' in 1600 and the complete quarto of 'Hamlet' in 1604. Roberts had enjoyed for nearly twenty years the right to print 'the players' bills,' or programmes, and he made over that privilege to Jaggard with his other literary property. It is to the close personal relations with the playhouse managers into which the acquisition of the right of printing 'the players' bill' brought Jaggard after 1613 that the inception of the scheme of the 'First Folio' may safely be attributed. Jaggard associated his son Isaac with the enterprise. They alone of the members of the syndicate were printers. Their three partners were publishers or booksellers only. Two of these, William Aspley and John Smethwick, had already speculated in plays of Shakespeare. Aspley had published with another in 1600 the 'Second Part of Henry IV' and 'Much Ado about Nothing,' and in 1609 half of Thorpe's impression of Shakespeare's 'Sonnets.' Smethwick, whose shop was in St. Dunstan's Churchyard, Fleet Street, near Jaggard's, had published in 1611 two late editions of 'Romeo and Juliet' and one of 'Hamlet.' Edward Blount, the fifth partner, was an interesting figure in the trade, and, unlike his companions, had a true taste in literature. He had been a friend and admirer of Christopher Marlowe, and had actively engaged in the posthumous publication of two of Marlowe's poems. He had published that curious collection of mystical verse entitled 'Love's Martyr,' one poem in which, 'a poetical essay of the Phoenix and the Turtle,' was signed 'William Shakespeare.' {304}

The First Folio was doubtless printed in Jaggard's printing office near St. Dunstan's Church. Upon Blount probably fell the chief labour of seeing the work through the press. It was in progress throughout 1623, and had so far advanced by November 8, 1623, that on that day Edward Blount and Isaac (son of William) Jaggard obtained formal license from the Stationers' Company to publish sixteen of the twenty hitherto unprinted plays that it was intended to include. The pieces, whose approaching publication for the first time was thus announced, were of supreme literary interest. The titles ran: 'The Tempest,' 'The Two Gentlemen,' 'Measure for Measure,' 'Comedy of Errors,' 'As you like it,' 'All's Well,' 'Twelfth Night,' 'Winter's Tale,' '3 Henry VI,' 'Henry VIII,' 'Coriolanus,' 'Timon,' 'Julius Caesar,' 'Macbeth,' 'Antony and Cleopatra,' and 'Cymbeline.' Four other hitherto unprinted dramas for which no license was sought figured in the volume, viz. 'King John,' '1 and 2 Henry VI,' and the 'Taming of the Shrew;' but each of these plays was based by Shakespeare on a play of like title which had been published at an earlier date, and the absence of a license was doubtless due to an ignorant misconception on the past either of the Stationers' Company's officers or of the editors of the volume as to the true relations subsisting between the old pieces and the new. The only play by Shakespeare that had been previously published and was not included in the First Folio was 'Pericles.'

The prefatory matter.

Thirty-six pieces in all were thus brought together. The volume consisted of nearly one thousand double-column pages and was sold at a pound a copy. Steevens estimated that the edition numbered 250 copies. The book was described on the title-page as published by Edward Blount and Isaac Jaggard, and in the colophon as printed at the charges of 'W. Jaggard, I. Smithweeke, and W. Aspley,' as well as of Blount. {306} On the title-page was engraved the Droeshout portrait. Commendatory verses were supplied by Ben Jonson, Hugh Holland, Leonard Digges, and I. M., perhaps Jasper Maine. The dedication was addressed to the brothers William Herbert, earl of Pembroke, the lord chamberlain, and Philip Herbert, earl of Montgomery, and was signed by Shakespeare's friends and fellow-actors, Heming and Condell. The same signatures were appended to a succeeding address 'to the great variety of readers.' In both addresses the two actors made pretension to a larger responsibility for the enterprise than they really incurred, but their motives in identifying themselves with the venture were doubtless irreproachable. They disclaimed (they wrote) 'ambition either of selfe-profit or fame in undertaking the design,' being solely moved by anxiety to 'keepe the memory of so worthy a friend and fellow alive as was our Shakespeare.' 'It had bene a thing we confesse worthie to haue bene wished,' they inform the reader, 'that the author himselfe had liued to haue set forth and ouerseen his owne writings. . . .' A list of contents follows the address to the readers.

The value of the text.

The title-page states that all the plays were printed 'according to the true originall copies.' The dedicators wrote to the same effect. 'As where (before) we were abus'd with diuerse stolne and surreptitious copies, maimed and deformed by the frauds and stealthes of incurious impostors that expos'd them: even those are now offer'd to your view cur'd and perfect in their limbes, and all the rest absolute in their numbers as he conceived them.' There is no doubt that the whole volume was printed from the acting versions in the possession of the manager of the company with which Shakespeare had been associated. But it is doubtful if any play were printed exactly as it came from his pen. The First Folio text is often markedly inferior to that of the sixteen pre-existent quartos, which, although surreptitiously and imperfectly printed, followed playhouse copies of far earlier date. From the text of the quartos the text of the First Folio differs invariably, although in varying degrees. The quarto texts of 'Love's Labour's Lost,' 'Midsummer Night's Dream,' and 'Richard II,' for example, differ very largely and always for the better from the folio texts. On the other hand, the folio repairs the glaring defects of the quarto versions of 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' and of 'Henry V.' In the case of twenty of the plays in the First Folio no quartos exist for comparison, and of these twenty plays, 'Coriolanus,' 'All's Well,' and 'Macbeth' present a text abounding in corrupt passages.

The order of the plays.

The plays are arranged under three headings—'Comedies,' 'Histories,' and 'Tragedies'—and each division is separately paged. The arrangement of the plays in each division follows no principle. The comedy section begins with the 'Tempest' and ends with the 'Winter's Tale.' The histories more justifiably begin with 'King John' and end with 'Henry VIII.' The tragedies begin with 'Troilus and Cressida' and end with 'Cymbeline.' This order has been usually followed in subsequent collective editions.

The typography.

As a specimen of typography the First Folio is not to be commended. There are a great many contemporary folios of larger bulk far more neatly and correctly printed. It looks as though Jaggard's printing office were undermanned. The misprints are numerous and are especially conspicuous in the pagination. The sheets seem to have been worked off very slowly, and corrections were made while the press was working, so that the copies struck off later differ occasionally from the earlier copies. One mark of carelessness on the part of the compositor or corrector of the press, which is common to all copies, is that 'Troilus and Cressida,' though in the body of the book it opens the section of tragedies, is not mentioned at all in the table of contents, and the play is unpaged except on its second and third pages, which bear the numbers 79 and 80.

Unique copies.

Three copies are known which are distinguished by more interesting irregularities, in each case unique. The copy in the Lenox Library in New York includes a cancel duplicate of a leaf of 'As You Like It' (sheet R of the comedies), and the title-page bears the date 1622 instead of 1623; but it is suspected that the figures were tampered with outside the printing office. {308} Samuel Butler, successively headmaster of Shrewsbury and Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, possessed a copy of the First Folio in which a proof leaf of 'Hamlet' was bound up with the corrected leaf. {309a}

The Sheldon copy.

The most interesting irregularity yet noticed appears in one of the two copies of the book belonging to the Baroness Burdett-Coutts. This copy is known as the Sheldon Folio, having formed in the seventeenth century part of the library of Ralph Sheldon of Weston Manor in the parish of Long Compton, Warwickshire. {309b} In the Sheldon Folio the opening page of 'Troilus and Cressida,' of which the recto or front is occupied by the prologue and the verso or back by the opening lines of the text of the play, is followed by a superfluous leaf. On the recto or front of the unnecessary leaf {309c} are printed the concluding lines of 'Romeo and Juliet' in place of the prologue to 'Troilus and Cressida.' At the back or verso are the opening lines of 'Troilus and Cressida' repeated from the preceding page. The presence of a different ornamental headpiece on each page proves that the two are not taken from the same setting of the type. At a later page in the Sheldon copy the concluding lines of 'Romeo and Juliet' are duly reprinted at the close of the play, and on the verso or back of the leaf, which supplies them in their right place, is the opening passage, as in other copies, of 'Timon of Athens.' These curious confusions attest that while the work was in course of composition the printers or editors of the volume at one time intended to place 'Troilus and Cressida,' with the prologue omitted, after 'Romeo and Juliet.' The last page of 'Romeo and Juliet' is in all copies numbered 79, an obvious misprint for 77; the first leaf of 'Troilus' is paged 78; the second and third pages of 'Troilus' are numbered 79 and 80. It was doubtless suddenly determined while the volume was in the press to transfer 'Troilus and Cressida' to the head of the tragedies from a place near the end, but the numbers on the opening pages which indicated its first position were clumsily retained, and to avoid the extensive typographical corrections that were required by the play's change of position, its remaining pages were allowed to go forth unnumbered. {310}

Estimated number of extant copies.

It is difficult to estimate how many copies survive of the First Folio, which is intrinsically the most valuable volume in the whole range of English literature, and extrinsically is only exceeded in value by some half-dozen volumes of far earlier date and of exceptional typographical interest. It seems that about 140 copies have been traced within the past century. Of these fewer than twenty are in a perfect state, that is, with the portrait printed (not inlaid) on the title-page, and the flyleaf facing it, with all the pages succeeding it, intact and uninjured. (The flyleaf contains Ben Jonson's verses attesting the truthfulness of the portrait.) Excellent copies in this enviable state are in the Grenville Library at the British Museum, and in the libraries of the Duke of Devonshire, the Earl of Crawford, the Baroness Burdett-Coutts, and Mr. A. H. Huth. Of these probably the finest and cleanest is the 'Daniel' copy belonging to the Baroness Burdett-Coutts. It measures 13 inches by 8.25, and was purchased by its present owner for 716 pounds 2s. at the sale of George Daniel's library in 1864. Some twenty more copies are defective in the preliminary pages, but are unimpaired in other respects. There remain about a hundred copies which have sustained serious damage at various points.

Reprints of the First Folio.

A reprint of the First Folio unwarrantably purporting to be exact was published in 1807-8. {311} The best reprint was issued in three parts by Lionel Booth in 1861, 1863, and 1864. The valuable photo-zincographic reproduction undertaken by Sir Henry James, under the direction of Howard Staunton, was issued in sixteen folio parts between February 1864 and October 1865. A reduced photographic facsimile, too small to be legible, appeared in 1876, with a preface by Halliwell-Phillipps.

The Second Folio. The Third Folio. The Fourth Folio.

The Second Folio edition was printed in 1632 by Thomas Cotes for Robert Allot and William Aspley, each of whose names figures as publisher on different copies. To Allot Blount had transferred, on November 16, 1630, his rights in the sixteen plays which were first licensed for publication in 1623. {312a} The Second Folio was reprinted from the First; a few corrections were made in the text, but most of the changes were arbitrary and needless. Charles I's copy is at Windsor, and Charles II's at the British Museum. The 'Perkins Folio,' now in the Duke of Devonshire's possession, in which John Payne Collier introduced forged emendations, was a copy of that of 1632. {312b} The Third Folio—for the most part a faithful reprint of the Second—was first published in 1663 by Peter Chetwynde, who reissued it next year with the addition of seven plays, six of which have no claim to admission among Shakespeare's works. 'Unto this impression,' runs the title-page of 1664, 'is added seven Playes never before printed in folio, viz.: Pericles, Prince of Tyre. The London Prodigall. The History of Thomas Ld. Cromwell. Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham. The Puritan Widow. A Yorkshire Tragedy. The Tragedy of Locrine.' The six spurious pieces which open the volume were attributed by unprincipled publishers to Shakespeare in his lifetime. Fewer copies of the Third Folio are reputed to be extant than of the Second or Fourth, owing to the destruction of many unsold impressions in the Fire of London in 1666. The Fourth Folio, printed in 1685 'for H. Herringman, E. Brewster, R. Chiswell, and R. Bentley,' reprints the folio of 1664 without change except in the way of modernising the spelling; it repeats the spurious pieces.

Eighteenth-century editors.

Since 1685 some two hundred independent editions of the collected works have been published in Great Britain and Ireland, and many thousand editions of separate plays. The eighteenth-century editors of the collected works endeavoured with varying degrees of success to purge the text of the numerous incoherences of the folios, and to restore, where good taste or good sense required it, the lost text of the contemporary quartos. It is largely owing to a due co-ordination of the results of the efforts of the eighteenth-century editors by their successors in the present century that Shakespeare's work has become intelligible to general readers unversed in textual criticism, and has won from them the veneration that it merits. {314}

Nicholas Rowe, 1674-1718.

Nicholas Rowe, a popular dramatist of Queen Anne's reign, and poet laureate to George I., was the first critical editor of Shakespeare. He produced an edition of his plays in six octavo volumes in 1709. A new edition in eight volumes followed in 1714, and another hand added a ninth volume which included the poems. Rowe prefixed a valuable life of the poet embodying traditions which were in danger of perishing without a record. His text followed that of the Fourth Folio. The plays were printed in the same order, except that he transferred the spurious pieces from the beginning to the end. Rowe did not compare his text with that of the First Folio or of the quartos, but in the case of 'Romeo and Juliet' he met with an early quarto while his edition was passing through the press, and inserted at the end of the play the prologue which is met with only in the quartos. He made a few happy emendations, some of which coincide accidentally with the readings of the First Folio; but his text is deformed by many palpable errors. His practical experience as a playwright induced him, however, to prefix for the first time a list of dramatis personae to each play, to divide and number acts and scenes on rational principles, and to mark the entrances and exits of the characters. Spelling, punctuation, and grammar he corrected and modernised.

Alexander Pope, 1688-1744.

The poet Pope was Shakespeare's second editor. His edition in six quarto volumes was completed in 1725. The poems, edited by Dr. George Sewell, with an essay on the rise and progress of the stage, and a glossary, appeared in a seventh volume. Pope had few qualifications for the task, and the venture was a commercial failure. In his preface Pope, while he fully recognised Shakespeare's native genius, deemed his achievement deficient in artistic quality. Pope claimed to have collated the text of the Fourth Folio with that of all preceding editions, and although his work indicates that he had access to the First Folio and some of the quartos, it is clear that his text was based on that of Rowe. His innovations are numerous, and are derived from 'his private sense and conjecture,' but they are often plausible and ingenious. He was the first to indicate the place of each new scene, and he improved on Rowe's subdivision of the scenes. A second edition of Pope's version in ten duodecimo volumes appeared in 1728 with Sewell's name on the title-page as well as Pope's. There were few alterations in the text, though a preliminary table supplied a list of twenty-eight quartos. Other editions followed in 1735 and 1768. The last was printed at Garrick's suggestion at Birmingham from Baskerville's types.

Lewis Theobald, 1688-1744.

Pope found a rigorous critic in Lewis Theobald, who, although contemptible as a writer of original verse and prose, proved himself the most inspired of all the textual critics of Shakespeare. Pope savagely avenged himself on his censor by holding him up to ridicule as the hero of the 'Dunciad.' Theobald first displayed his critical skill in 1726 in a volume which deserves to rank as a classic in English literature. The title runs 'Shakespeare Restored, or a specimen of the many errors as well committed as unamended by Mr. Pope in his late edition of this poet, designed not only to correct the said edition but to restore the true reading of Shakespeare in all the editions ever yet publish'd.' There at page 137 appears Theobald's great emendation in Shakespeare's account of Falstaff's death (Henry V, II. iii. 17): 'His nose was as sharp as a pen and a' babbled of green fields,' in place of the reading in the old copies, 'His nose was as sharp as a pen and a table of green fields.' In 1733 Theobald brought out his edition of Shakespeare in seven volumes. In 1740 it reached a second issue. A third edition was published in 1752. Others are dated 1772 and 1773. It is stated that 12,860 copies in all were sold. Theobald made the First Folio the basis of his text, although he failed to adopt all the correct readings of that version, but over 300 corrections or emendations which he made in his edition have become part and parcel of the authorised canon. Theobald's principles of textual criticism were as enlightened as his practice was triumphant. 'I ever labour,' he wrote to Warburton, 'to make the smallest deviation that I possibly can from the text; never to alter at all where I can by any means explain a passage with sense; nor ever by any emendation to make the author better when it is probable the text came from his own hands.' Theobald has every right to the title of the Porson of Shakespearean criticism. {317a} The following are favourable specimens of his insight. In 'Macbeth' (I. vii. 6) for 'this bank and school of time,' he substituted the familiar 'bank and shoal of time.' In 'Antony and Cleopatra' the old copies (v. ii. 87) made Cleopatra say of Antony:

For his bounty, There was no winter in't; an Anthony it was That grew the more by reaping.

For the gibberish 'an Anthony it was,' Theobald read 'an autumn 'twas,' and thus gave the lines true point and poetry. A third notable instance, somewhat more recondite, is found in 'Coriolanus' (II. i. 59-60) where Menenius asks the tribunes in the First Folio version 'what harm can your besom conspectuities [i.e. vision or eyes] glean out of this character?' Theobald replaced the meaningless epithet 'besom' by 'bisson' (i.e. purblind), a recognised Elizabethan word which Shakespeare had already employed in 'Hamlet' (II. ii. 529). {317b}

Sir Thomas Hanmer, 1677-1746.

The fourth editor was Sir Thomas Hammer, a country gentleman without much literary culture, but possessing a large measure of mother wit. He was speaker in the House of Commons for a few months in 1714, and retiring soon afterwards from public life devoted his leisure to a thorough-going scrutiny of Shakespeare's plays. His edition, which was the earliest to pretend to typographical beauty, was printed at the Oxford University Press in 1744 in six quarto volumes. It contained a number of good engravings by Gravelot after designs by Francis Hayman, and was long highly valued by book collectors. No editor's name was given. In forming his text, Hanmer depended exclusively on his own ingenuity. He made no recourse to the old copies. The result was a mass of common-sense emendations, some of which have been permanently accepted. {318} Hanmer's edition was reprinted in 1770-1.

Bishop Warburton, 1698-1779.

In 1747 Bishop Warburton produced a revised version of Pope's edition in eight volumes. Warburton was hardly better qualified for the task than Pope, and such improvements as he introduced are mainly borrowed from Theobald and Hanmer. On both these critics he arrogantly and unjustly heaped abuse in his preface. The Bishop was consequently criticised with appropriate severity for his pretentious incompetence by many writers; among them, by Thomas Edwards, whose 'Supplement to Warburton's Edition of Shakespeare' first appeared in 1747, and, having been renamed 'The Canons of Criticism' next year in the third edition, passed through as many as seven editions by 1765.

Dr. Johnson, 1709-1783.

Dr. Johnson, the sixth editor, completed his edition in eight volumes in 1765, and a second issue followed three years later. Although he made some independent collation of the quartos, his textual labours were slight, and his verbal notes show little close knowledge of sixteenth and seventeenth century literature. But in his preface and elsewhere he displays a genuine, if occasionally sluggish, sense of Shakespeare's greatness, and his massive sagacity enabled him to indicate convincingly Shakespeare's triumphs of characterisation.

Edward Capell, 1713-1781.

The seventh editor, Edward Capell, advanced on his predecessors in many respects. He was a clumsy writer, and Johnson declared, with some justice, that he 'gabbled monstrously,' but his collation of the quartos and the First and Second Folios was conducted on more thorough and scholarly methods than those of any of his predecessors not excepting Theobald. His industry was untiring, and he is said to have transcribed the whole of Shakespeare ten times. Capell's edition appeared in ten small octavo volumes in 1768. He showed himself well versed in Elizabethan literature in a volume of notes which appeared in 1774, and in three further volumes, entitled 'Notes, Various Readings, and the School of Shakespeare,' which were not published till 1783, two years after his death. The last volume, 'The School of Shakespeare,' consisted of 'authentic extracts from divers English books that were in print in that author's time,' to which was appended 'Notitia Dramatica; or, Tables of Ancient Plays (from their beginning to the Restoration of Charles II).'

George Steevens, 1736-1800.

George Steevens, whose saturnine humour involved him in a lifelong series of literary quarrels with rival students of Shakespeare, made invaluable contributions to Shakespearean study. In 1766 he reprinted twenty of the plays from the quartos. Soon afterwards he revised Johnson's edition without much assistance from the Doctor, and his revision, which embodied numerous improvements, appeared in ten volumes in 1773. It was long regarded as the standard version. Steevens's antiquarian knowledge alike of Elizabethan history and literature was greater than that of any previous editor; his citations of parallel passages from the writings of Shakespeare's contemporaries, in elucidation of obscure words and phrases, have not been exceeded in number or excelled in aptness by any of his successors. All commentators of recent times are more deeply indebted in this department of their labours to Steevens than to any other critic. But he lacked taste as well as temper, and excluded from his edition Shakespeare's sonnets and poems, because, he wrote, 'the strongest Act of Parliament that could be framed would fail to compel readers into their service.' {320} The second edition of Johnson and Steevens's version appeared in ten volumes in 1778. The third edition, published in ten volumes in 1785, was revised by Steevens's friend, Isaac Reed (1742-1807), a scholar of his own type. The fourth and last edition, published in Steevens's lifetime, was prepared by himself in fifteen volumes in 1793. As he grew older, he made some reckless changes in the text, chiefly with the unhallowed object of mystifying those engaged in the same field. With a malignity that was not without humour, he supplied, too, many obscene notes to coarse expressions, and he pretended that he owed his indecencies to one or other of two highly respectable clergymen, Richard Amner and John Collins, whose surnames were in each instance appended. He had known and quarrelled with both. Such proofs of his perversity justified the title which Gifford applied to him of 'the Puck of Commentators.'

Edmund Malone, 1741-1812.

Edmund Malone, who lacked Steevens's quick wit and incisive style, was a laborious and amiable archaeologist, without much ear for poetry or delicate literary taste. He threw abundance of new light on Shakespeare's biography, and on the chronology and sources of his works, while his researches into the beginnings of the English stage added a new chapter of first-rate importance to English literary history. To Malone is due the first rational 'attempt to ascertain the order in which the plays attributed to Shakespeare were written.' His earliest results on the topic were contributed to Steevens's edition of 1778. Two years later he published, as a supplement to Steevens's work, two volumes containing a history of the Elizabethan stage, with reprints of Arthur Brooke's 'Romeus and Juliet,' Shakespeare's Poems, and the plays falsely ascribed to him in the Third and Fourth Folios. A quarrel with Steevens followed, and was never closed. In 1787 Malone issued 'A Dissertation on the Three Parts of King Henry VI,' tending to show that those plays were not originally written by Shakespeare. In 1790 appeared his edition of Shakespeare in ten volumes, the first in two parts.

Variorum editions.

What is known among booksellers as the 'First Variorum' edition of Shakespeare was prepared by Steevens's friend, Isaac Reed, after Steevens's death. It was based on a copy of Steevens's work of 1793, which had been enriched with numerous manuscript additions, and it embodied the published notes and prefaces of preceding editors. It was published in twenty-one volumes in 1803. The 'Second Variorum' edition, which was mainly a reprint of the first, was published in twenty-one volumes in 1813. The 'Third Variorum' was prepared for the press by James Boswell the younger, the son of Dr. Johnson's biographer. It was based on Malone's edition of 1790, but included massive accumulations of notes left in manuscript by Malone at his death. Malone had been long engaged on a revision of his edition, but died in 1812, before it was completed. Boswell's 'Malone,' as the new work is often called, appeared in twenty-one volumes in 1821. It is the most valuable of all collective editions of Shakespeare's works, but the three volumes of preliminary essays on Shakespeare's biography and writings, and the illustrative notes brought together in the final volume, are confusedly arranged and are unindexed; many of the essays and notes break off abruptly at the point at which they were left at Malone's death. A new 'Variorum' edition, on an exhaustive scale, was undertaken by Mr. H. Howard Furness of Philadelphia, and eleven volumes have appeared since 1871 ('Romeo and Juliet,' 'Macbeth,' 'Hamlet,' 2 vols., 'King Lear,' 'Othello,' 'Merchant of Venice,' 'As You Like It,' 'Tempest,' 'Midsummer Night's Dream,' and 'Winter's Tale').

Nineteenth-century editors.

Of nineteenth-century editors who have prepared collective editions of Shakespeare's work with original annotations those who have most successfully pursued the great traditions of the eighteenth century are Alexander Dyce, Howard Staunton, Nikolaus Delius, and the Cambridge editors William George Clark (1821-1878) and Dr. Aldis Wright.

Alexander Dyce, 1798-1869. Howard Staunton, 1810-1874. The Cambridge edition, 1863-6.

Alexander Dyce was almost as well read as Steevens in Elizabethan literature, and especially in the drama of the period, and his edition of Shakespeare in nine volumes, which was first published in 1857, has many new and valuable illustrative notes and a few good textual emendations, as well as a useful glossary; but Dyce's annotations are not always adequate, and often tantalise the reader by their brevity. Howard Staunton's edition first appeared in three volumes between 1868 and 1870. He also was well read in contemporary literature and was an acute textual critic. His introductions bring together much interesting stage history. Nikolaus Delius's edition was issued at Elberfeld in seven volumes between 1854 and 1861. Delius's text is formed on sound critical principles and is to be trusted thoroughly. A fifth edition in two volumes appeared in 1882. The Cambridge edition, which first appeared in nine volumes between 1863 and 1866, exhaustively notes the textual variations of all preceding editions, and supplies the best and fullest apparatus criticus. (Of new editions, one dated 1887 is also in nine volumes, and another, dated 1893, in forty volumes.)

Other nineteenth-century editions.

Other editors of the complete works of Shakespeare of the nineteenth century whose labours, although of some value, present fewer distinctive characteristics are:—William Harness (1825, 8 vols.); Samuel Weller Singer (1826, 10 vols., printed at the Chiswick Press for William Pickering, illustrated by Stothard and others; reissued in 1856 with essays by William Watkiss Lloyd); Charles Knight, with discursive notes and pictorial illustrations by F. W. Fairholt and others ('Pictorial edition,' 8 vols., including biography and the doubtful plays, 1838-43, often reissued under different designations); Bryan Waller Procter, i.e. Barry Cornwall (1839-43, 3 vols.); John Payne Collier (1841-4, 8 vols.; another edition, 8 vols., privately printed, 1878, 4to); Samuel Phelps, the actor (1852-4, 2 vols.; another edition, 1882-4); J. O. Halliwell (1853-61, 15 vols. folio, with an encyclopaedic collection of annotations of earlier editors and pictorial illustrations); Richard Grant White (Boston, U.S.A., 1857-65, 12 vols.); W. J. Rolfe (New York, 1871-96, 40 vols.); the Rev. H. N. Hudson (the Harvard edition, Boston, 1881, 20 vols.) The latest complete annotated editions published in this country are 'The Henry Irving Shakespeare,' edited by F. A. Marshall and others—especially useful for notes on stage history (8 vols. 1888-90)—and 'The Temple Shakespeare,' concisely edited by Mr. Israel Gollancz (38 vols. 12mo, 1894-6).

Of one-volume editions of the unannotated text, the best are the Globe, edited by W. G. Clark and Dr. Aldis Wright (1864, and constantly reprinted—since 1891 with a new and useful glossary); the Leopold (1876, from the text of Delius, with preface by Dr. Furnivall); and the Oxford, edited by Mr. W. J. Craig (1894).


Shakespeare defied at every stage in his career the laws of the classical drama. He rode roughshod over the unities of time, place, and action. There were critics in his day who zealously championed the ancient rules, and viewed with distrust any infringement of them. But the force of Shakespeare's genius—its revelation of new methods of dramatic art—was not lost on the lovers of the ancient ways; and even those who, to assuage their consciences, entered a formal protest against his innovations, soon swelled the chorus of praise with which his work was welcomed by contemporary playgoers, cultured and uncultured alike. The unauthorised publishers of 'Troilus and Cressida' in 1608 faithfully echoed public opinion when they prefaced the work with the note: 'This author's comedies are so framed to the life that they serve for the most common commentaries of all actions of our lives, showing such a dexterity and power of wit that the most displeased with plays are pleased with his comedies. . . . So much and such savoured salt of wit is in his comedies that they seem for their height of pleasure to be born in the sea that brought forth Venus.'

Ben Jonson's tribute.

Anticipating the final verdict, the editors of the First Folio wrote, seven years after Shakespeare's death: 'These plays have had their trial already and stood out all appeals.' {327a} Ben Jonson, the staunchest champion of classical canons, noted that Shakespeare 'wanted art,' but he allowed him, in verses prefixed to the First Folio, the first place among all dramatists, including those of Greece and Rome, and claimed that all Europe owed him homage:

Triumph, my Britain, thou hast one to show, To whom all scenes [i.e. stages] of Europe homage owe. He was not of an age, but for all time.

In 1630 Milton penned in like strains an epitaph on 'the great heir of fame:'

What needs my Shakespeare for his honoured bones The labour of an age in piled stones? Or that his hallowed reliques should be hid Under a star-ypointing pyramid? Dear son of memory, great heir of fame, What need'st thou such weak witness of thy name? Thou in our wonder and astonishment Hast built thyself a lifelong monument.

A writer of fine insight who veiled himself under the initials I. M. S. {327b} contributed to the Second Folio of 1632 a splendid eulogy. The opening lines declare 'Shakespeare's freehold' to have been

A mind reflecting ages past, whose clear And equal surface can make things appear Distant a thousand years, and represent Them in their lively colours' just extent.

It was his faculty

To outrun hasty time, retrieve the fates, Roll back the heavens, blow ope the iron gates Of death and Lethe, where (confused) lie Great heaps of ruinous mortality.

Milton and I. M. S. were followed within ten years by critics of tastes so varied as the dramatist of domesticity Thomas Heywood, the gallant lyrist Sir John Suckling, the philosophic and 'ever-memorable' John Hales of Eton, and the untiring versifier of the stage and court, Sir William D'Avenant. Before 1640 Hales is said to have triumphantly established, in a public dispute held with men of learning in his rooms at Eton, the proposition that 'there was no subject of which any poet ever writ but he could produce it much better done in Shakespeare.' {328} Leonard Digges (in the 1640 edition of the 'Poems') asserted that every revival of Shakespeare's plays drew crowds to pit, boxes, and galleries alike. At a little later date, Shakespeare's plays were the 'closet companions' of Charles I's 'solitudes.' {329a}

1660-1702. Dryden's view.

After the Restoration public taste in England veered towards the French and classical dramatic models. {329b} Shakespeare's work was subjected to some unfavourable criticism as the product of nature to the exclusion of art, but the eclipse proved more partial and temporary than is commonly admitted. The pedantic censure of Thomas Rymer on the score of Shakespeare's indifference to the classical canons attracted attention, but awoke in England no substantial echo. In his 'Short View of Tragedy' (1692) Rymer mainly concentrated his attention on 'Othello,' and reached the eccentric conclusion that it was 'a bloody farce without salt or savour.' In Pepys's eyes 'The Tempest' had 'no great wit,' and 'Midsummer Night's Dream' was 'the most insipid and ridiculous play;' yet this exacting critic witnessed thirty-six performances of twelve of Shakespeare's plays between October 11, 1660, and February 6, 1668-9, seeing 'Hamlet' four times, and 'Macbeth,' which he admitted to be 'a most excellent play for variety,' nine times. Dryden, the literary dictator of the day, repeatedly complained of Shakespeare's inequalities—'he is the very Janus of poets.' {330a} But in almost the same breath Dryden declared that Shakespeare was held in as much veneration among Englishmen as AEschylus among the Athenians, and that 'he was the man who of all modern and perhaps ancient poets had the largest and most comprehensive soul. . . . When he describes anything, you more than see it—you feel it too.' {330b} In 1693, when Sir Godfrey Kneller presented Dryden with a copy of the Chandos portrait of Shakespeare, the poet acknowledged the gift thus:


Shakespear, thy Gift, I place before my sight; With awe, I ask his Blessing ere I write; With Reverence look on his Majestick Face; Proud to be less, but of his Godlike Race. His Soul Inspires me, while thy Praise I write, And I, like Teucer, under Ajax fight.

Writers of Charles II's reign of such opposite temperaments as Margaret Cavendish, duchess of Newcastle, and Sir Charles Sedley vigorously argued for Shakespeare's supremacy. As a girl the sober duchess declares she fell in love with Shakespeare. In her 'Sociable Letters,' which were published in 1664, she enthusiastically, if diffusely, described how Shakespeare creates the illusion that he had been 'transformed into every one of those persons he hath described,' and suffered all their emotions. When she witnessed one of his tragedies she felt persuaded that she was witnessing an episode in real life. 'Indeed,' she concludes, 'Shakespeare had a clear judgment, a quick wit, a subtle observation, a deep apprehension, and a most eloquent elocution.' The profligate Sedley, in a prologue to the 'Wary Widdow,' a comedy by one Higden, produced in 1693, apostrophised Shakespeare thus:

Shackspear whose fruitfull Genius, happy wit Was fram'd and finisht at a lucky hit The pride of Nature, and the shame of Schools, Born to Create, and not to Learn from Rules.

Restoration adaptations.

Many adaptations of Shakespeare's plays were contrived to meet current sentiment of a less admirable type. But they failed efficiently to supersede the originals. Dryden and D'Avenant converted 'The Tempest' into an opera (1670). D'Avenant single-handed adapted 'The Two Noble Kinsmen' (1668) and 'Macbeth' (1674). Dryden dealt similarly with 'Troilus' (1679); Thomas Duffett with 'The Tempest' (1675); Shadwell with 'Timon' (1678); Nahum Tate with 'Richard II' (1681), 'Lear' (1681), and 'Coriolanus' (1682); John Crowne with 'Henry VI' (1681); D'Urfey with 'Cymbeline' (1682); Ravenscroft with 'Titus Andronicus' (1687); Otway with 'Romeo and Juliet' (1692), and John Sheffield, duke of Buckingham, with 'Julius Caesar' (1692). But during the same period the chief actor of the day, Thomas Betterton, won his spurs as the interpreter of Shakespeare's leading parts, often in unrevised versions. Hamlet was accounted that actor's masterpiece. {332a} 'No succeeding tragedy for several years,' wrote Downes, the prompter at Betterton's theatre, 'got more reputation or money to the company than this.'

From 1702 onwards.

From the accession of Queen Anne to the present day the tide of Shakespeare's reputation, both on the stage and among critics, has flowed onward almost uninterruptedly. The censorious critic, John Dennis, in his 'Letters' on Shakespeare's 'genius,' gave his work in 1711 whole-hearted commendation, and two of the greatest men of letters of the eighteenth century, Pope and Johnson, although they did not withhold all censure, paid him, as we have seen, the homage of becoming his editor. The school of textual criticism which Theobald and Capell founded in the middle years of the century has never ceased its activity since their day. {332b} Edmund Malone's devotion at the end of the eighteenth century to the biography of the poet and the contemporary history of the stage, secured for him a vast band of disciples, of whom Joseph Hunter and John Payne Collier well deserve mention. But of all Malone's successors, James Orchard Halliwell, afterwards Halliwell-Phillipps (1820-1889), has made the most important additions to our knowledge of Shakespeare's biography.

Meanwhile, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, there arose a third school to expound exclusively the aesthetic excellence of the plays. In its inception the aesthetic school owed much to the methods of Schlegel and other admiring critics of Shakespeare in Germany. But Coleridge in his 'Notes and Lectures' {333} and Hazlitt in his 'Characters of Shakespeare's Plays' (1817) are the best representatives of the aesthetic school in this or any other country. Although Professor Dowden, in his 'Shakespeare, his Mind and Art' (1874), and Mr. Swinburne in his 'Study of Shakespeare' (1880), are worthy followers, Coleridge and Hazlitt remain as aesthetic critics unsurpassed. In the effort to supply a fuller interpretation of Shakespeare's works textual, historical, and aesthetic—two publishing societies have done much valuable work. 'The Shakespeare Society' was founded in 1841 by Collier, Halliwell, and their friends, and published some forty-eight volumes before its dissolution in 1853. The New Shakspere Society, which was founded by Dr. Furnivall in 1874, issued during the ensuing twenty years twenty-seven publications, illustrative mainly of the text and of contemporary life and literature.

Stratford festivals.

In 1769 Shakespeare's 'jubilee' was celebrated for three days (September 6-8) at Stratford, under the direction of Garrick, Dr. Arne, and Boswell. The festivities were repeated on a small scale in April 1827 and April 1830. 'The Shakespeare tercentenary festival,' which was held at Stratford from April 23 to May 4, 1864, claimed to be a national celebration. {334}

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