A Life of William Shakespeare - with portraits and facsimiles
by Sidney Lee
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On the English stage. The first appearance of actresses in Shakespearean parts. David Garrick, 1717-1779.

On the English stage the name of every eminent actor since Betterton, the great actor of the period of the Restoration, has been identified with Shakespearean parts. Steele, writing in the 'Tatler' (No. 167) in reference to Betterton's funeral in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey on May 2, 1710, instanced his rendering of Othello as proof of an unsurpassable talent in realising Shakespeare's subtlest conceptions on the stage. One great and welcome innovation in Shakespearean acting is closely associated with Betterton's first name. He encouraged the substitution, that was inaugurated by Killigrew, of women for boys in female parts. The first role that was professionally rendered by a woman in a public theatre was that of Desdemona in 'Othello,' apparently on December 8, 1660. {335} The actress on that occasion is said to have been Mrs. Margaret Hughes, Prince Rupert's mistress; but Betterton's wife, who was at first known on the stage as Mrs. Saunderson, was the first actress to present a series of Shakespeare's great female characters. Mrs. Betterton gave her husband powerful support, from 1663 onwards, in such roles as Ophelia, Juliet, Queen Catherine, and Lady Macbeth. Betterton formed a school of actors who carried on his traditions for many years after his death. Robert Wilks (1670-1732) as Hamlet, and Barton Booth (1681-1733) as Henry VIII and Hotspur, were popularly accounted no unworthy successors. Colley Cibber (1671-1757) as actor, theatrical manager, and dramatic critic, was both a loyal disciple of Betterton and a lover of Shakespeare, though his vanity and his faith in the ideals of the Restoration incited him to perpetrate many outrages on Shakespeare's text when preparing it for theatrical representation. His notorious adaptation of 'Richard III,' which was first produced in 1700, long held the stage to the exclusion of the original version. But towards the middle of the eighteenth century all earlier efforts to interpret Shakespeare in the playhouse were eclipsed in public esteem by the concentrated energy and intelligence of David Garrick. Garrick's enthusiasm for the poet and his histrionic genius riveted Shakespeare's hold on public taste. His claim to have restored to the stage the text of Shakespeare—purified of Restoration defilements—cannot be allowed without serious qualifications. Garrick had no scruple in presenting plays of Shakespeare in versions that he or his friends had recklessly garbled. He supplied 'Romeo and Juliet' with a happy ending; he converted the 'Taming of the Shrew' into the farce of 'Katherine and Petruchio,' 1754; he introduced radical changes in 'Antony and Cleopatra,' 'Two Gentlemen of Verona,' 'Cymbeline,' and 'Midsummer Night's Dream.' Nevertheless, no actor has won an equally exalted reputation in so vast and varied a repertory of Shakespearean roles. His triumphant debut as Richard III in 1741 was followed by equally successful performances of Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth, King John, Romeo, Henry IV, Iago, Leontes, Benedick, and Antony in 'Antony and Cleopatra.' Garrick was not quite undeservedly buried in Westminster Abbey on February 1, 1779, at the foot of Shakespeare's statue.

Garrick was ably seconded by Mrs. Clive (1711-1785), Mrs. Cibber (1714-1766), and Mrs. Pritchard (1711-1768). Mrs. Cibber as Constance in 'King John,' and Mrs. Pritchard in Lady Macbeth, excited something of the same enthusiasm as Garrick in Richard III and Lear. There were, too, contemporary critics who judged rival actors to show in certain parts powers equal, if not superior, to those of Garrick. Charles Macklin (1697?-1797) for nearly half a century, from 1735 to 1785, gave many hundred performances of a masterly rendering of Shylock. The character had, for many years previous to Macklin's assumption of it, been allotted to comic actors, but Macklin effectively concentrated his energy on the tragic significance of the part with an effect that Garrick could not surpass. Macklin was also reckoned successful in Polonius and Iago. John Henderson, the Bath Roscius (1747-1785), who, like Garrick, was buried in Westminster Abbey, derived immense popularity from his representation of Falstaff; while in subordinate characters like Mercutio, Slender, Jaques, Touchstone, and Sir Toby Belch, John Palmer (1742?-1798) was held to approach perfection. But Garrick was the accredited chief of the theatrical profession until his death. He was then succeeded in his place of predominance by John Philip Kemble, who derived invaluable support from his association with one abler than himself, his sister, Mrs. Siddons.

John Philip Kemble, 1757-1823. Mrs. Sarah Siddons, 1755-1831.

Somewhat stilted and declamatory in speech, Kemble enacted a wide range of characters of Shakespearean tragedy with a dignity that won the admiration of Pitt, Sir Walter Scott, Charles Lamb, and Leigh Hunt. Coriolanus was regarded as his masterpiece, but his renderings of Hamlet, King John, Wolsey, the Duke in 'Measure for Measure,' Leontes, and Brutus satisfied the most exacting canons of contemporary theatrical criticism. Kemble's sister, Mrs. Siddons, was the greatest actress that Shakespeare's countrymen have known. Her noble and awe-inspiring presentation of Lady Macbeth, her Constance, her Queen Katherine, have, according to the best testimony, not been equalled even by the achievements of the eminent actresses of France.

Edmund Kean, 1787-1833.

During the present century the most conspicuous histrionic successes in Shakespearean drama have been won by Edmund Kean, whose triumphant rendering of Shylock on his first appearance at Drury Lane Theatre on January 26, 1814, is one of the most stirring incidents in the history of the English stage. Kean defied the rigid convention of the 'Kemble School,' and gave free rein to his impetuous passions. Besides Shylock, he excelled in Richard III, Othello, Hamlet, and Lear. No less a critic than Coleridge declared that to see him act was like 'reading Shakespeare by flashes of lightning.' Among other Shakespearean actors of Kean's period a high place was allotted by public esteem to George Frederick Cooke (1756-1811), whose Richard III, first given in London at Covent Garden Theatre, October 31, 1801, was accounted his masterpiece. Charles Lamb, writing in 1822, declared that of all the actors who flourished in his time, Robert Bensley 'had most of the swell of soul,' and Lamb gave with a fine enthusiasm in his 'Essays of Elia' an analysis (which has become classical) of Bensley's performance of Malvolio. But Bensley's powers were rated more moderately by more experienced playgoers. {338} Lamb's praises of Mrs. Jordan (1762-1816) in Ophelia, Helena, and Viola in 'Twelfth Night,' are corroborated by the eulogies of Hazlitt and Leigh Hunt. In the part of Rosalind Mrs. Jordan is reported on all sides to have beaten Mrs. Siddons out of the field.

William Charles Macready, 1793-1873.

The torch thus lit by Garrick, by the Kembles, by Kean and his contemporaries was worthily kept alive by William Charles Macready, a cultivated and conscientious actor, who, during a professional career of more than forty years (1810-1851), assumed every great part in Shakespearean tragedy. Although Macready lacked the classical bearing of Kemble or the intense passion of Kean, he won as the interpreter of Shakespeare the whole-hearted suffrages of the educated public. Macready's chief associate in women characters was Helen Faucit (1820-1898, afterwards Lady Martin), whose refined impersonations of Imogen, Beatrice, Juliet, and Rosalind form an attractive chapter in the history of the stage.

Recent revivals.

The most notable tribute paid to Shakespeare by any actor-manager of recent times was paid by Samuel Phelps (1804-1878), who gave during his tenure of Sadler's Wells Theatre between 1844 and 1862 competent representations of all the plays save six; only 'Richard II,' the three parts of 'Henry VI,' 'Troilus and Cressida,' and 'Titus Andronicus' were omitted. Sir Henry Irving, who since 1878 has been ably seconded by Miss Ellen Terry, has revived at the Lyceum Theatre between 1874 and the present time eleven plays ('Hamlet,' 'Macbeth,' 'Othello,' 'Richard III,' 'The Merchant of Venice,' 'Much Ado about Nothing,' 'Twelfth Night,' 'Romeo and Juliet,' 'King Lear,' 'Henry VIII,' and 'Cymbeline'), and has given each of them all the advantage they can derive from thoughtful acting as well as from lavish scenic elaboration. {340a} But theatrical revivals of plays of Shakespeare are in England intermittent, and no theatrical manager since Phelps's retirement has sought systematically to illustrate on the stage the full range of Shakespearean drama. Far more in this direction has been attempted in Germany. {340b} In one respect the history of recent Shakespearean representations can be viewed by the literary student with unqualified satisfaction. Although some changes of text or some rearrangement of the scenes are found imperative in all theatrical representations of Shakespeare, a growing public sentiment in England and elsewhere has for many years favoured as loyal an adherence to the authorised version of the plays as is practicable on the part of theatrical managers; and the evil traditions of the stage which sanctioned the perversions of the eighteenth century are happily well-nigh extinct.

In music and art.

Music and art in England owe much to Shakespeare's influence. From Thomas Morley, Purcell, Matthew Locke, and Arne to William Linley, Sir Henry Bishop, and Sir Arthur Sullivan, every distinguished musician has sought to improve on his predecessor's setting of one or more of Shakespeare's songs, or has composed concerted music in illustration of some of his dramatic themes. {341} In art, the publisher John Boydell organised in 1787 a scheme for illustrating scenes in Shakespeare's work by the greatest living English artists. Some fine pictures were the result. A hundred and sixty-eight were painted in all, and the artists, whom Boydell employed, included Sir Joshua Reynolds, George Romney, Thomas Stothard, John Opie, Benjamin West, James Barry, and Henry Fuseli. All the pictures were exhibited from time to time between 1789 and 1804 at a gallery specially built for the purpose in Pall Mall, and in 1802 Boydell published a collection of engravings of the chief pictures. The great series of paintings was dispersed by auction in 1805. Few eminent artists of later date, from Daniel Maclise to Sir John Millais, have lacked the ambition to interpret some scene or character of Shakespearean drama.

In America.

In America no less enthusiasm for Shakespeare has been manifested than in England. Editors and critics are hardly less numerous there, and some criticism from American pens, like that of James Russell Lowell, has reached the highest literary level. Nowhere, perhaps, has more labour been devoted to the study of his works than that given by Mr. H. H. Furness of Philadelphia to the preparation of his 'New Variorum' edition. The Barton collection of Shakespeareana in the Boston Public Library is one of the most valuable extant, and the elaborate catalogue (1878-80) contains some 2,500 entries. First of Shakespeare's plays to be represented in America, 'Richard III' was performed in New York in March 1750. More recently Edwin Forrest, Junius Brutus Booth, Edwin Booth, Charlotte Cushman, and Miss Ada Rehan have maintained on the American stage the great traditions of Shakespearean acting; while Mr. E. A. Abbey has devoted high artistic gifts to pictorial representation of scenes from the plays.

Translations. In Germany. German translations.

The Bible, alone of literary compositions, has been translated more frequently or into a greater number of languages than the works of Shakespeare. The progress of his reputation in Germany, France, Italy, and Russia was somewhat slow at the outset. But in Germany the poet has received for nearly a century and a half a recognition scarcely less pronounced than that accorded him in America and in his own country. Three of Shakespeare's plays, now in the Zurich Library, were brought thither by J. R. Hess from England in 1614. As early as 1626 'Hamlet,' 'King Lear,' and 'Romeo and Juliet' were acted at Dresden, and a version of the 'Taming of The Shrew' was played there and elsewhere at the end of the seventeenth century. But such mention of Shakespeare as is found in German literature between 1640 and 1740 only indicates a knowledge on the part of German readers either of Dryden's criticisms or of the accounts of him printed in English encyclopaedias. {342} The earliest sign of a direct acquaintance with the plays is a poor translation of 'Julius Caesar' into German by Baron C. W. von Borck, formerly Prussian minister in London, which was published at Berlin in 1741. A worse rendering of 'Romeo and Juliet' followed in 1758. Meanwhile J. C. Gottsched (1700-66), an influential man of letters, warmly denounced Shakespeare in a review of Von Borck's effort in 'Beitrage zur deutschen Sprache' and elsewhere. Lessing came without delay to Shakespeare's rescue, and set his reputation, in the estimation of the German public, on that exalted pedestal which it has not ceased to occupy. It was in 1759, in a journal entitled 'Litteraturbriefe,' that Lessing first claimed for Shakespeare superiority, not only to the French dramatists Racine and Corneille, who hitherto had dominated European taste, but to all ancient or modern poets. Lessing's doctrine, which he developed in his 'Hamburgische Dramaturgie' (Hamburg, 1767, 2 vols. 8vo), was at once accepted by the poet Johann Gottfried Herder in the 'Blatter von deutschen Art and Kunst,' 1771. Christopher Martin Wieland (1733-1813) in 1762 began a prose translation which Johann Joachim Eschenburg (1743-1820) completed (Zurich, 13 vols., 1775-84). Between 1797 and 1833 there appeared at intervals the classical German rendering by August Wilhelm von Schlegel and Ludwig Tieck, leaders of the romantic school of German literature, whose creed embodied, as one of its first articles, an unwavering veneration for Shakespeare. Schlegel translated only seventeen plays, and his workmanship excels that of the rest of the translation. Tieck's part in the undertaking was mainly confined to editing translations by various hands. Many other German translations in verse were undertaken during the same period—by J. H. Voss and his sons (Leipzig, 1818-29), by J. W. O. Benda (Leipzig, 1825-6), by J. Korner (Vienna, 1836), by A. Bottger (Leipzig, 1836-7), by E. Ortlepp (Stuttgart, 1838-9), and by A. Keller and M. Rapp (Stuttgart, 1843-6). The best of more recent German translations is that by a band of poets and eminent men of letters including Friedrich von Bodenstedt, Ferdinand von Freiligrath, and Paul Heyse (Leipzig, 1867-71, 38 vols.) Most of these versions have been many times reissued, but, despite the high merits of von Bodenstedt and his companions' performance, Schlegel and Tieck's achievement still holds the field. Schlegel's lectures on 'Shakespeare and the Drama,' which were delivered at Vienna in 1808, and were translated into English in 1815, are worthy of comparison with those of Coleridge, who owed much to their influence. Wordsworth in 1815 declared that Schlegel and his disciples first marked out the right road in aesthetic criticism, and enjoyed at the moment superiority over all English aesthetic critics of Shakespeare. {344} Subsequently Goethe poured forth, in his voluminous writings, a mass of criticism even more illuminating and appreciative than Schlegel's. {345} Although Goethe deemed Shakespeare's works unsuited to the stage, he adapted 'Romeo and Juliet' for the Weimar Theatre, while Schiller prepared 'Macbeth' (Stuttgart, 1801). Heine published in 1838 charming studies of Shakespeare's heroines (English translation 1895), and acknowledged only one defect in Shakespeare—that he was an Englishman.

Modern German writers on Shakespeare.

During the last half-century textual, aesthetic, and biographical criticism has been pursued in Germany with unflagging industry and energy; and although laboured and supersubtle theorising characterises much German aesthetic criticism, its mass and variety testify to the impressiveness of the appeal that Shakespeare's work has made to the German intellect. The efforts to stem the current of Shakespearean worship made by the realistic critic, Gustav Rumelin, in his 'Shakespearestudien' (Stuttgart, 1866), and subsequently by the dramatist, J. R. Benedix, in 'Die Shakespearomanie' (Stuttgart, 1873, 8vo), proved of no effect. In studies of the text and metre Nikolaus Delius (1813-1888) should, among recent German writers, be accorded the first place; in studies of the biography and stage history Friedrich Karl Elze (1821-1889); in aesthetic studies Friedrich Alexander Theodor Kreyssig (1818-1879), author of 'Vorlesungen uber Shakespeare' (Berlin, 1858 and 1874), and 'Shakespeare-Fragen' (Leipzig, 1871). Ulrici's 'Shakespeare's Dramatic Art' (first published at Halle in 1839) and Gervinus's Commentaries (first published at Leipzig in 1848-9), both of which are familiar in English translations, are suggestive but unconvincing aesthetic interpretations. The German Shakespeare Society, which was founded at Weimar in 1865, has published thirty-four year-books (edited successively by von Bodenstedt, Delius, Elze, and F. A. Leo); each contains useful contributions to Shakespearean study.

On the German stage.

Shakespeare has been no less effectually nationalised on the German stage. The three great actors—Frederick Ulrich Ludwig Schroeder (1744-1816) of Hamburg, Ludwig Devrient (1784-1832), and his nephew Gustav Emil Devrient (1803-1872)—largely derived their fame from their successful assumptions of Shakespearean characters. Another of Ludwig Devrient's nephews, Eduard (1801-1877), also an actor, prepared, with his son Otto, an acting German edition (Leipzig, 1873 and following years). An acting edition by Wilhelm Oechelhaeuser appeared previously at Berlin in 1871. Twenty-eight of the thirty-seven plays assigned to Shakespeare are now on recognised lists of German acting plays, including all the histories. {346a} In 1895 as many as 706 performances of twenty-five of Shakespeare's plays were given in German theatres. {346b} In 1896 no fewer than 910 performances were given of twenty-three plays. In 1897 performances of twenty-four plays reached a total of 930—an average of nearly three Shakespearean representations a day in the German-speaking districts of Europe. {347} It is not only in capitals like Berlin and Vienna that the representations are frequent and popular. In towns like Altona, Breslau, Frankfort-on-the-Maine, Hamburg, Magdeburg, and Rostock, Shakespeare is acted constantly and the greater number of his dramas is regularly kept in rehearsal. 'Othello,' 'Hamlet,' 'Romeo and Juliet,' and 'The Taming of the Shrew' usually prove most attractive. Of the many German musical composers who have worked on Shakespearean themes, Mendelssohn (in 'Midsummer Night's Dream'), Schumann, and Franz Schubert (in setting separate songs) have achieved the greatest success.

In France. Voltaire's strictures.

In France Shakespeare won recognition after a longer struggle than in Germany. Cyrano de Bergerac (1619-1655) plagiarised 'Cymbeline,' 'Hamlet,' and 'The Merchant of Venice' in his 'Agrippina.' About 1680 Nicolas Clement, Louis XIV's librarian, allowed Shakespeare imagination, natural thoughts, and ingenious expression, but deplored his obscenity. {348a} Half a century elapsed before public attention in France was again directed to Shakespeare. {348b} The Abbe Prevost, in his periodical 'Le Pour et Contre' (1733 et seq.), acknowledged his power. But it is to Voltaire that his countrymen owe, as he himself boasted, their first effective introduction to Shakespeare. Voltaire studied Shakespeare thoroughly on his visit to England between 1726 and 1729, and his influence is visible in his own dramas. In his 'Lettres Philosophiques' (1731), afterwards reissued as 'Lettres sur les Anglais,' 1734 (Nos. xviii. and xix.), and in his 'Lettre sur la Tragedie' (1731), he expressed admiration for Shakespeare's genius, but attacked his want of taste and art. He described him as 'le Corneille de Londres, grand fou d'ailleurs mais il a des morceaux admirables.' Writing to the Abbe des Fontaines in November 1735, Voltaire admitted many merits in 'Julius Caesar,' on which he published 'Observations' in 1764. Johnson replied to Voltaire's general criticism in the preface to his edition (1765), and Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu in 1769 in a separate volume, which was translated into French in 1777. Diderot made, in his 'Encylopedie,' the first stand in France against the Voltairean position, and increased opportunities of studying Shakespeare's works increased the poet's vogue. Twelve plays were translated in De la Place's 'Theatre Anglais' (1745-8). Jean-Francois Ducis (1733-1816) adapted without much insight six plays for the French stage, beginning in 1769 with 'Hamlet,' his version of which was acted with applause. In 1776 Pierre Le Tourneur began a bad prose translation (completed in 1782) of all Shakespeare's plays, and declared him to be 'the god of the theatre.' Voltaire protested against this estimate in a new remonstrance consisting of two letters, of which the first was read before the French Academy on August 25, 1776. Here Shakespeare was described as a barbarian, whose works—'a huge dunghill'—concealed some pearls.

French critics' gradual emancipation from Voltairean influence.

Although Voltaire's censure was rejected by the majority of later French critics, it expressed a sentiment born of the genius of the nation, and made an impression that was only gradually effaced. Marmontel, La Harpe, Marie-Joseph Chenier, and Chateaubriand, in his 'Essai sur Shakespeare,' 1801, inclined to Voltaire's view; but Madame de Stael wrote effectively on the other side in her 'De la Litterature, 1804 (i. caps. 13, 14, ii. 5.) 'At this day,' wrote Wordsworth in 1815, 'the French critics have abated nothing of their aversion to "this darling of our nation." "The English with their bouffon de Shakespeare" is as familiar an expression among them as in the time of Voltaire. Baron Grimm is the only French writer who seems to have perceived his infinite superiority to the first names of the French theatre; an advantage which the Parisian critic owed to his German blood and German education.' {350a} The revision of Le Tourneur's translation by Francois Guizot and A. Pichot in 1821 gave Shakespeare a fresh advantage. Paul Duport, in 'Essais Litteraires sur Shakespeare' (Paris, 1828, 2 vols.), was the last French critic of repute to repeat Voltaire's censure unreservedly. Guizot, in his discourse 'Sur la Vie et les OEuvres de Shakespeare' (reprinted separately from the translation of 1821), as well as in his 'Shakespeare et son Temps' (1852), Villemain in a general essay, {350b} and Barante in a study of 'Hamlet,' {350c} acknowledge the mightiness of Shakespeare's genius with comparatively few qualifications. Other complete translations followed—by Francisque Michel (1839), by Benjamin Laroche (1851), and by Emil Montegut (1867), but the best is that in prose by Francois Victor Hugo (1859-66), whose father, Victor Hugo the poet, published a rhapsodical eulogy in 1864. Alfred Mezieres's 'Shakespeare, ses OEuvres et ses Critiques' (Paris, 1860), is a saner appreciation.

On the French stage.

Meanwhile 'Hamlet' and 'Macbeth,' 'Othello,' and a few other Shakespearean plays, became stock pieces on the French stage. A powerful impetus to theatrical representation of Shakespeare in France was given by the performance in Paris of the chief plays by a strong company of English actors in the autumn of 1827. 'Hamlet' and 'Othello' were acted successively by Charles Kemble and Macready; Edmund Kean appeared as Richard III, Othello, and Shylock; Miss Smithson, who became the wife of Hector Berlioz the musician, filled the roles of Ophelia, Juliet, Desdemona, Cordelia, and Portia. French critics were divided as to the merits of the performers, but most of them were enthusiastic in their commendations of the plays. {351a} Alfred de Vigny prepared a version of 'Othello' for the Theatre-Francais in 1829 with eminent success. An adaptation of 'Hamlet' by Alexandre Dumas was first performed in 1847, and a rendering by the Chevalier de Chatelain (1864) was often repeated. George Sand translated 'As You Like It' (Paris, 1856) for representation by the Comedie Francaise on April 12, 1856. 'Lady Macbeth' has been represented in recent years by Madame Sarah Bernhardt, and 'Hamlet' by M. Mounet Sully of the Theatre-Francais. {351b} Four French musicians—Berlioz in his symphony of 'Romeo and Juliet,' Gounod in his opera of 'Romeo and Juliet,' Ambroise Thomas in his opera of 'Hamlet,' and Saint-Saens in his opera of 'Henry VIII'—have sought with public approval to interpret musically portions of Shakespeare's work.

In Italy.

In Italy Shakespeare was little known before the present century. Such references as eighteenth-century Italian writers made to him were based on remarks by Voltaire. {352} The French adaptation of 'Hamlet' by Ducis was issued in Italian blank verse (Venice, 1774, 8vo). Complete translations of all the plays made direct from the English were issued by Michele Leoni in verse at Verona in 1819-22, and by Carlo Rusconi in prose at Padua in 1831 (new edit. Turin, 1858-9). 'Othello' and 'Romeo and Juliet' have been very often translated into Italian separately. The Italian actors, Madame Ristori (as Lady Macbeth), Salvini (as Othello), and Rossi rank among Shakespeare's most effective interpreters. Verdi's operas on Macbeth, Othello, and Falstaff (the last two with libretti by Boito), manifest close and appreciative study of Shakespeare.

In Holland.

Two complete translations have been published in Dutch; one in prose by A. S. Kok (Amsterdam 1873-1880), the other in verse by Dr. L. A. J. Burgersdijk (Leyden, 1884-8, 12 vols.)

In Russia.

In Eastern Europe, Shakespeare first became known through French and German translations. Into Russian 'Romeo and Juliet' was translated in 1772, 'Richard III' in 1783, and 'Julius Caesar' in 1786. Sumarakow translated Ducis' version of 'Hamlet' in 1784 for stage purposes, while the Empress Catherine II adapted the 'Merry Wives' and 'King John.' Numerous versions of all the chief plays followed; and in 1865 there appeared at St. Petersburg the best translation in verse (direct from the English), by Nekrasow and Gerbel. A prose translation, by N. Ketzcher, begun in 1862, was completed in 1879. Gerbel issued a Russian translation of the 'Sonnets' in 1880, and many critical essays in the language, original or translated, have been published. Almost every play has been represented in Russian on the Russian stage. {353a}

In Poland.

A Polish version of 'Hamlet' was acted at Lemberg in 1797; and as many as sixteen plays now hold a recognised place among Polish acting plays. The standard Polish translation of Shakespeare's collected works appeared at Warsaw in 1875 (edited by the Polish poet Kraszewski), and is reckoned among the most successful renderings in a foreign tongue.

In Hungary.

In Hungary, Shakespeare's greatest works have since the beginning of the century been highly appreciated by students and by playgoers. A complete translation into Hungarian appeared at Kaschau in 1824. At the National Theatre at Budapest no fewer than twenty-two plays have been of late years included in the actors' repertory. {353b}

In other countries.

Other complete translations have been published in Bohemian (Prague 1874), in Swedish (Lund, 1847-1851), in Danish (1845-1850), and Finnish (Helsingfors, 1892-5). In Spanish a complete translation is in course of publication (Madrid, 1885 et seq.), and the eminent Spanish critic Menendez y Pelayo has set Shakespeare above Calderon. In Armenian, although only three plays ('Hamlet,' 'Romeo and Juliet,' and 'As You Like It') have been issued, the translation of the whole is ready for the press. Separate plays have appeared in Welsh, Portuguese, Friesic, Flemish, Servian, Roumanian, Maltese, Ukrainian, Wallachian, Croatian, modern Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Japanese; while a few have been rendered into Bengali, Hindustani, Marathi, {354} Gujarati, Urdu, Kanarese, and other languages of India, and have been acted in native theatres.


General estimate.

No estimate of Shakespeare's genius can be adequate. In knowledge of human character, in wealth of humour, in depth of passion, in fertility of fancy, and in soundness of judgment, he has no rival. It is true of him, as of no other writer, that his language and versification adapt themselves to every phase of sentiment, and sound every note in the scale of felicity. Some defects are to be acknowledged, but they sink into insignificance when measured by the magnitude of his achievement. Sudden transitions, elliptical expressions, mixed metaphors, indefensible verbal quibbles, and fantastic conceits at times create an atmosphere of obscurity. The student is perplexed, too, by obsolete words and by some hopelessly corrupt readings. But when the whole of Shakespeare's vast work is scrutinised with due attention, the glow of his magination is seen to leave few passages wholly unillumined. Some of his plots are hastily constructed and inconsistently developed, but the intensity of the interest with which he contrives to invest the personality of his heroes and heroines triumphs over halting or digressive treatment of the story in which they have their being. Although he was versed in the technicalities of stagecraft, he occasionally disregarded its elementary conditions. But the success of his presentments of human life and character depended little on his manipulation of theatrical machinery. His unassailable supremacy springs from the versatile working of his insight and intellect, by virtue of which his pen limned with unerring precision almost every gradation of thought and emotion that animates the living stage of the world.

Character of Shakespeare's achievement.

Shakespeare's mind, as Hazlitt suggested, contained within itself the germs of all faculty and feeling. He knew intuitively how every faculty and feeling would develop in any conceivable change of fortune. Men and women—good or bad, old or young, wise or foolish, merry or sad, rich or poor—yielded their secrets to him, and his genius enabled him to give being in his pages to all the shapes of humanity that present themselves on the highway of life. Each of his characters gives voice to thought or passion with an individuality and a naturalness that rouse in the intelligent playgoer and reader the illusion that they are overhearing men and women speak unpremeditatingly among themselves, rather than that they are reading written speeches or hearing written speeches recited. The more closely the words are studied, the completer the illusion grows. Creatures of the imagination—fairies, ghosts, witches—are delineated with a like potency, and the reader or spectator feels instinctively that these supernatural entities could not speak, feel, or act otherwise than Shakespeare represents them. The creative power of poetry was never manifested to such effect as in the corporeal semblances in which Shakespeare clad the spirits of the air.

Its universal recognition.

So mighty a faculty sets at naught the common limitations of nationality, and in every quarter of the globe to which civilised life has penetrated Shakespeare's power is recognised. All the world over, language is applied to his creations that ordinarily applies to beings of flesh and blood. Hamlet and Othello, Lear and Macbeth, Falstaff and Shylock, Brutus and Romeo, Ariel and Caliban are studied in almost every civilised tongue as if they were historic personalities, and the chief of the impressive phrases that fall from their lips are rooted in the speech of civilised humanity. To Shakespeare the intellect of the world, speaking in divers accents, applies with one accord his own words: 'How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in apprehension how like a god!'



Contemporary records abundant.

The scantiness of contemporary records of Shakespeare's career has been much exaggerated. An investigation extending over two centuries has brought together a mass of detail which far exceeds that accessible in the case of any other contemporary professional writer. Nevertheless, some important links are missing, and at some critical points appeal to conjecture is inevitable. But the fully ascertained facts are numerous enough to define sharply the general direction that Shakespeare's career followed. Although the clues are in some places faint, the trail never altogether eludes the patient investigator.

First efforts in biography.

Fuller, in his 'Worthies' (1662), attempted the first biographical notice of Shakespeare, with poor results. Aubrey, in his gossiping 'Lives of Eminent Men,' {361} based his ampler information on reports communicated to him by William Beeston (d. 1682), an aged actor, whom Dryden called 'the chronicle of the stage,' and who was doubtless in the main a trustworthy witness. A few additional details were recorded in the seventeenth century by the Rev. John Ward (1629-1681), vicar of Stratford-on-Avon from 1662 to 1668, in a diary and memorandum-book written between 1661 and 1663 (ed. C. A. Severn, 1839); by the Rev. William Fulman, whose manuscripts are at Corpus Christi College, Oxford (with valuable interpolations made before 1708 by the Rev. Richard Davies, vicar of Saperton, Gloucestershire); by John Dowdall, who recorded his experiences of travel through Warwickshire in 1693 (London, 1838); and by William Hall, who described a visit to Stratford in 1694 (London, 1884, from Hall's letter among the Bodleian MSS.) Phillips in his 'Theatrum Poetarum' (1675), and Langbaine in his 'English Dramatick Poets' (1691), confined themselves to elementary criticism. In 1709 Nicholas Rowe prefixed to his edition of the plays a more ambitious memoir than had yet been attempted, and embodied some hitherto unrecorded Stratford and London traditions with which the actor Thomas Betterton supplied him. A little fresh gossip was collected by William Oldys, and was printed from his manuscript 'Adversaria' (now in the British Museum) as an appendix to Yeowell's 'Memoir of Oldys,' 1862. Pope, Johnson, and Steevens, in the biographical prefaces to their editions, mainly repeated the narratives of their predecessor, Rowe.

Biographers of the nineteenth century. Stratford topography.

In the Prolegomena to the Variorum editions of 1803, 1813, and especially in that of 1821, there was embodied a mass of fresh information derived by Edmund Malone from systematic researches among the parochial records of Stratford, the manuscripts accumulated by the actor Alleyn at Dulwich, and official papers of state preserved in the public offices in London (now collected in the Public Record Office). The available knowledge of Elizabethan stage history, as well as of Shakespeare's biography, was thus greatly extended. John Payne Collier, in his 'History of English Dramatic Poetry' (1831), in his 'New Facts' about Shakespeare (1835), his 'New Particulars' (1836), and his 'Further Particulars' (1839), and in his editions of Henslowe's 'Diary' and the 'Alleyn Papers' for the Shakespeare Society, while occasionally throwing some further light on obscure places, foisted on Shakespeare's biography a series of ingeniously forged documents which have greatly perplexed succeeding biographers. {362} Joseph Hunter in 'New Illustrations of Shakespeare' (1845) and George Russell French's 'Shakespeareana Genealogica' (1869) occasionally supplemented Malone's researches. James Orchard Halliwell (afterwards Halliwell-Phillipps) printed separately, between 1850 and 1884, in various privately issued publications, all the Stratford archives and extant legal documents bearing on Shakespeare's career, many of them for the first time. In 1881 Halliwell-Phillipps began the collective publication of materials for a full biography in his 'Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare;' this work was generously enlarged in successive editions until it acquired massive proportions; in the seventh and last edition of 1887 it numbered near 1,000 pages. Mr. Frederick Gard Fleay, in his 'Shakespeare Manual' (1876), in his 'Life of Shakespeare' (1886), in his 'History of the Stage' (1890), and his 'Biographical Chronicle of the English Drama' (1891), adds much useful information respecting stage history and Shakespeare's relations with his fellow-dramatists, mainly derived from a study of the original editions of the plays of Shakespeare and of his contemporaries; but unfortunately many of Mr. Fleay's statements and conjectures are unauthenticated. For notices of Stratford, R. B. Wheler's 'History and Antiquities' (1806), John R. Wise's 'Shakespere, his Birthplace and its Neighbourhood' (1861), the present writer's 'Stratford-on-Avon to the Death of Shakespeare' (1890), and Mrs. C. C. Stopes's 'Shakespeare's Warwickshire Contemporaries' (1897), may be consulted. Wise appends to his volume a tentative 'glossary of words still used in Warwickshire to be found in Shakspere.' The parish registers of Stratford have been edited by Mr. Richard Savage for the Parish Registers Society (1898-9). Nathan Drake's 'Shakespeare and his Times' (1817) and G. W. Thornbury's 'Shakespeare's England' (1856) collect much material respecting Shakespeare's social environment.

Specialised studies in biography. Useful epitomes.

The chief monographs on special points in Shakespeare's biography are Dr. Richard Farmer's 'Essay on the Learning of Shakespeare' (1767), reprinted in the Variorum editions; Octavius Gilchrist's 'Examination of the Charges . . . . of Ben Jonson's Enmity towards Shakespeare' (1808); W. J. Thoms's 'Was Shakespeare ever a Soldier?' (1849), a study based on an erroneous identification of the poet with another William Shakespeare; Lord Campbell's 'Shakespeare's Legal Acquirements considered' (1859); John Charles Bucknill's 'Medical Knowledge of Shakespeare' (1860); C. F. Green's' 'Shakespeare's Crab-Tree, with its Legend' (1862); C. H. Bracebridge's 'Shakespeare no Deer-stealer' (1862); William Blades's 'Shakspere and Typography' (1872); and D. H. Madden's 'Diary of Master William Silence (Shakespeare and Sport),' 1897. A full epitome of the biographical information accessible at the date of publication is supplied in Karl Elze's 'Life of Shakespeare' (Halle, 1876; English translation, 1888), with which Elze's 'Essays' from the publications of the German Shakespeare Society (English translation, 1874) are worth studying. A less ambitious effort of the same kind by Samuel Neil (1861) is seriously injured by the writer's acceptance of Collier's forgeries. Professor Dowden's 'Shakspere Primer' (1877) and his 'Introduction to Shakspere' (1893), and Dr. Furnivall's 'Introduction to the Leopold Shakspere,' are all useful summaries of leading facts.

Aids to study of plots and text. Concordances. Bibliographies.

Francis Douce's 'Illustrations of Shakespeare' (1807, new edit. 1839), 'Shakespeare's Library' (ed. J. P. Collier and W. C. Hazlitt, 1875), 'Shakespeare's Plutarch' (ed. Skeat, 1875), and 'Shakespeare's Holinshed' (ed. W. G. Boswell-Stone, 1896) are of service in tracing the sources of Shakespeare's plots. Alexander Schmidt's 'Shakespeare Lexicon' (1874) and Dr. E. A. Abbott's 'Shakespearian Grammar' (1869, new edit. 1893) are valuable aids to a study of the text. Useful concordances to the Plays have been prepared by Mrs. Cowden-Clarke (1845), to the Poems by Mrs. H. H. Furness (Philadelphia, 1875), and to Plays and Poems, in one volume, with references to numbered lines, by John Bartlett (London and New York, 1895). {364} A 'Handbook Index' by J. O. Halliwell (privately printed 1866) gives lists of obsolete words and phrases, songs, proverbs, and plants mentioned in the works of Shakespeare. An unprinted glossary prepared by Richard Warner between 1750 and 1770 is at the British Museum (Addit. MSS. 10472-542). Extensive bibliographies are given in Lowndes's 'Library Manual' (ed. Bohn); in Franz Thimm's 'Shakespeariana' (1864 and 1871); in the 'Encyclopaedia Britannica,' 9th edit. (skilfully classified by Mr. H. R. Tedder); and in the 'British Museum Catalogue' (the Shakespearean entries in which, comprising 3,680 titles, were separately published in 1897).

Critical studies.

The valuable publications of the Shakespeare Society, the New Shakspere Society, and of the Deutsche Shakespeare-Gesellschaft, comprising contributions alike to the aesthetic, textual, historical, and biographical study of Shakespeare, are noticed above (see pp. 333-4, 346). To the critical studies, on which comment has already been made (see p. 333)—viz. Coleridge's 'Notes and Lectures,' 1883, Hazlitt's 'Characters of Shakespeare's Plays,' 1817, Professor Dowden's 'Shakspere: his Mind and Art,' 1875, and Mr. A. C. Swinburne's 'A Study of Shakespeare,' 1879—there may be added the essays on Shakespeare's heroines respectively by Mrs. Jameson in 1833 and Lady Martin in 1885; Dr. Ward's 'English Dramatic Literature' (1875, new edit. 1898); Richard G. Moulton's 'Shakespeare as a Dramatic Artist' (1885); 'Shakespeare Studies' by Thomas Spencer Baynes (1893); F. S. Boas's 'Shakspere and his Predecessors', (1895), and Georg Brandes's 'William Shakespeare'—an elaborately critical but somewhat fanciful study—in Danish (Copenhagen, 1895, 8vo), in German (Leipzig, 1895), and in English (London, 1898, 2 vols. 8vo).

Shakespearean forgeries.

The intense interest which Shakespeare's life and work have long universally excited has tempted unprincipled or sportively mischievous writers from time to time to deceive the public by the forgery of documents purporting to supply new information. The forgers were especially active at the end of last century and during the middle years of the present century, and their frauds have caused students so much perplexity that it may be useful to warn them against those Shakespearean forgeries which have obtained the widest currency.

John Jordan, 1746-1809.

The earliest forger to obtain notoriety was John Jordan (1746-1809), a resident at Stratford-on-Avon, whose most important achievement was the forgery of the will of Shakespeare's father; but many other papers in Jordan's 'Original Collections on Shakespeare and Stratford-on-Avon' (1780), and 'Original Memoirs and Historical Accounts of the Families of Shakespeare and Hart,' are open to the gravest suspicion. {366a}

The Ireland forgeries, 1796.

The best known Shakespearean forger of the eighteenth century was William Henry Ireland (1777-1835), a barrister's clerk, who, with the aid of his father, Samuel Ireland (1740?-1800), an author and engraver of some repute, produced in 1796 a volume of forged papers claiming to relate to Shakespeare's career. The title ran: 'Miscellaneous Papers and Legal Instruments under the Hand and Seal of William Shakespeare, including the tragedy of "King Lear" and a small fragment of "Hamlet" from the original MSS. in the possession of Samuel Ireland.' On April 2, 1796 Sheridan and Kemble produced at Drury Lane Theatre a bombastic tragedy in blank verse entitled 'Vortigern' under the pretence that it was by Shakespeare, and had been recently found among the manuscripts of the dramatist that had fallen into the hands of the Irelands. The piece, which was published, was the invention of young Ireland. The fraud of the Irelands, which for some time deceived a section of the literary public, was finally exposed by Malone in his valuable 'Inquiry into the Authenticity of the Ireland MSS.' (1796). Young Ireland afterwards published his 'Confessions' (1805). He had acquired much skill in copying Shakespeare's genuine signature from the facsimile in Steevens's edition of Shakespeare's works of the mortgage-deed of the Blackfriars house of 1612-13, {366b} and, besides conforming to that style of handwriting in his forged deeds and literary compositions, he inserted copies of the signature on the title-pages of many sixteenth-century books, and often added notes in the same feigned hand on their margins. Numerous sixteenth-century volumes embellished by Ireland in this manner are extant, and his forged signatures and marginalia have been frequently mistaken for genuine autographs of Shakespeare.

Forgeries promulgated by Collier and others, 1835-1849.

But Ireland's and Jordan's frauds are clumsy compared with those that belong to the present century. Most of the works relating to the biography of Shakespeare or the history of the Elizabethan stage produced by John Payne Collier, or under his supervision, between 1835 and 1849 are honeycombed with forged references to Shakespeare, and many of the forgeries have been admitted unsuspectingly into literary history. The chief of these forged papers I arrange below in the order of the dates that have been allotted to them by their manufacturers. {367a}

1589 (November). Appeal from the Blackfriars players (16 in number) to the Privy Council for favour. Shakespeare's name stands twelfth. From the manuscripts at Bridgewater House, belonging to the Earl of Ellesmere. First printed in Collier's 'New Facts regarding the Life of Shakespeare,' 1835. 1596 (July). List of inhabitants of the Liberty of Southwark, Shakespeare's name appearing in the sixth place. First printed in Collier's 'Life of Shakespeare,' 1858, p. 126. 1596. Petition of the owners and players of the Blackfriars Theatre to the Privy Council in reply to an alleged petition of the inhabitants requesting the closing of the playhouse. Shakespeare's name is fifth on the list of petitioners. This forged paper is in the Public Record Office, and was first printed in Collier's 'History of English Dramatic Poetry' (1831), vol. i. p. 297, and has been constantly reprinted as if it were genuine. {367b} 1596 (circa). A letter signed H. S.(i.e. Henry, Earl of Southampton), addressed to Sir Thomas Egerton, praying protection for the players of the Blackfriars Theatre, and mentioning Burbage and Shakespeare by name. First printed in Collier's 'New Facts.' 1596 (circa). A list of sharers in the Blackfriars Theatre, with the valuation of their property, in which Shakespeare is credited with four shares, worth 933 pounds 6s. 8d. This was first printed in Collier's 'New Facts,' 1835, p. 6, from the Egerton MSS. at Bridgewater House. 1602 (August 6). Notice of the performance of 'Othello' by Burbage's 'players' before Queen Elizabeth when on a visit to Sir Thomas Egerton, the lord-keeper, at Harefield, in a forged account of disbursements by Egerton's steward, Arthur Mainwaringe, from the manuscripts at Bridgewater House, belonging to the Earl of Ellesmere. Printed in Collier's 'New Particulars regarding the Works of Shakespeare,' 1836, and again in Collier's edition of the 'Egerton Papers,' 1840 (Camden Society)) pp. 342-3. 1603 (October 3). Mention of 'Mr. Shakespeare of the Globe' in a letter at Dulwich from Mrs. Alleyn to her husband; part of the letter is genuine. First published in Collier's Memoirs of Edward Alleyn,' 1841, p. 63. {368} 1604 List of the names of eleven players (April 9). of the King's Company fraudulently appended to a genuine letter at Dulwich College from the Privy Council bidding the Lord Mayor permit performances by the King's players. Printed in Collier's 'Memoirs of Edward Alleyn,' 1841, p. 68. {368b} 1605 (November-December). Forged entries in Master of the Revels' account-books (now at the Public Record Office) of performances at Whitehall by the King's players of the 'Moor of Venice'—i.e. 'Othello'—on November 1, and of 'Measure for Measure' on December 26. Printed in Peter Cunningham's 'Extracts from the Accounts of the Revels at Court' (pp. 203-4), published by the Shakespeare Society in 1842. Doubtless based on Malone's trustworthy memoranda (now in the Bodleian Library) of researches among genuine papers formerly at the Audit Office at Somerset House. {369a} 1607. Notes of performances of 'Hamlet' and 'Richard II' by the crews of the vessels of the East India Company's fleet off Sierra Leone. First printed in 'Narratives of Voyages towards the North-West, 1496-1631,' edited by Thomas Rundall for the Hakluyt Society, 1849, p. 231, from what purported to be an exact transcript 'in the India Office' of the 'Journal of William Keeling,' captain of one of the vessels in the expedition. Keeling's manuscript journal is still at the India Office, but the leaves that should contain these entries are now, and have long been, missing from it. 1609 (January 4). A warrant appointing Robert Daborne, William Shakespeare, and others instructors of the Children of the Revels. From the Bridgewater House MSS. first printed in Collier's 'New Facts,' 1835. 1609 List of persons assessed for poor (April 6). rate in Southwark, April 6, 1609, in which Shakespeare's name appears. First printed in Collier's 'Memoirs of Edward Alleyn,' 1841, p. 91. The forged paper is at Dulwich. {369b} 1611 (November). Forged entries in Master of the Revels' account-books (now at the Public Record Office) of performances at Whitehall by the King's Players of the 'Tempest' on November 1, and of the 'Winter's Tale' on November 5. Printed in Peter Cunningham's 'Extracts from the Revels Accounts,' p. 210. Doubtless based on Malone's trustworthy memoranda of researches among genuine papers formerly at the Audit Office at Somerset House. {369c} II.—THE BACON-SHAKESPEARE CONTROVERSY.

Its source. Toby Matthew's letter.

The apparent contrast between the homeliness of Shakespeare's Stratford career and the breadth of observation and knowledge displayed in his literary work has evoked the fantastic theory that Shakespeare was not the author of the literature that passes under his name, and perverse attempts have been made to assign his works to his great contemporary, Francis Bacon (1561-1626), the great contemporary prose-writer, philosopher, and lawyer. It is argued that Shakespeare's plays embody a general omniscience (especially a knowledge of law) which was possessed by no contemporary except Bacon; that there are many close parallelisms between passages in Shakespeare's and passages in Bacon's works, {370} and that Bacon makes enigmatic references in his correspondence to secret 'recreations' and 'alphabets' and concealed poems for which his alleged employment as a concealed dramatist can alone account. Toby Matthew wrote to Bacon (as Viscount St. Albans) at an uncertain date after January 1621: 'The most prodigious wit that ever I knew of my nation and of this side of the sea is of your Lordship's name, though he be known by another.' {371} This unpretending sentence is distorted into conclusive evidence that Bacon wrote works of commanding excellence under another's name, and among them probably Shakespeare's plays. According to the only sane interpretation of Matthew's words, his 'most prodigious wit' was some Englishman named Bacon whom he met abroad—probably a pseudonymous Jesuit like most of Matthew's friends. (The real surname of Father Thomas Southwell, who was a learned Jesuit domiciled chiefly in the Low Countries, was Bacon. He was born in 1592 at Sculthorpe, near Walsingham, Norfolk, being son of Thomas Bacon of that place, and he died at Watten in 1637.)

Chief exponents. Its vogue in America.

Joseph C. Hart (U.S. Consul at Santa Cruz, d. 1855), in his 'Romance of Yachting' (1848), first raised doubts of Shakespeare's authorship. There followed in a like temper 'Who wrote Shakespeare?' in 'Chambers's Journal,' August 7, 1852, and an article by Miss Delia Bacon in 'Putnams' Monthly,' January, 1856. On the latter was based 'The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakespeare unfolded by Delia Bacon,' with a neutral preface by Nathaniel Hawthorne, London and Boston, 1857. Miss Delia Bacon, who was the first to spread abroad a spirit of scepticism respecting the established facts of Shakespeare's career, died insane on September 2, 1859. {372} Mr. William Henry Smith, a resident in London, seems first to have suggested the Baconian hypothesis in 'Was Lord Bacon the author of Shakespeare's plays?—a letter to Lord Ellesmere' (1856), which was republished as 'Bacon and Shakespeare' (1857). The most learned exponent of this strange theory was Nathaniel Holmes, an American lawyer, who published at New York in 1866 'The Authorship of the Plays attributed to Shakespeare,' a monument of misapplied ingenuity (4th edit. 1886, 2 vols.) Bacon's 'Promus of Formularies and Elegancies,' a commonplace book in Bacon's handwriting in the British Museum (London, 1883), was first edited by Mrs. Henry Pott, a voluminous advocate of the Baconian theory; it contained many words and phrases common to the works of Bacon and Shakespeare, and Mrs. Pott pressed the argument from parallelisms of expression to its extremest limits. The Baconian theory has found its widest acceptance in America. There it achieved its wildest manifestation in the book called 'The Great Cryptogram: Francis Bacon's Cypher in the so-called Shakespeare Plays' (Chicago and London, 1887, 2 vols.), which was the work of Mr. Ignatius Donnelly of Hastings, Minnesota. The author pretended to have discovered among Bacon's papers a numerical cypher which enabled him to pick out letters appearing at certain intervals in the pages of Shakespeare's First Folio, and the selected letters formed words and sentences categorically stating that Bacon was author of the plays. Many refutations have been published of Mr. Donnelly's arbitrary and baseless contention.

Extent of the literature.

A Bacon Society was founded in London in 1885 to develop and promulgate the unintelligible theory, and it inaugurated a magazine (named since May 1893 'Baconiana'). A quarterly periodical also called 'Baconiana,' and issued in the same interest, was established at Chicago in 1892. 'The Bibliography of the Shakespeare-Bacon Controversy' by W. H. Wyman, Cincinnati, 1884, gives the titles of two hundred and fifty-five books or pamphlets on both sides of the subject, published since 1848; the list was continued during 1886 in 'Shakespeariana,' a monthly journal published at Philadelphia, and might now be extended to fully twice its original number.

The abundance of the contemporary evidence attesting Shakespeare's responsibility for the works published under his name gives the Baconian theory no rational right to a hearing while such authentic examples of Bacon's effort to write verse as survive prove beyond all possibility of contradiction that, great as he was as a prose writer and a philosopher, he was incapable of penning any of the poetry assigned to Shakespeare. Defective knowledge and illogical or casuistical argument alone render any other conclusion possible.


Southampton and Shakespeare.

From the dedicatory epistles addressed by Shakespeare to the Earl of Southampton in the opening pages of his two narrative poems, 'Venus and Adonis' (1593) and 'Lucrece' (1594), {374a} from the account given by Sir William D'Avenant, and recorded by Nicholas Rowe, of the earl's liberal bounty to the poet, {374b} and from the language of the sonnets, it is abundantly clear that Shakespeare enjoyed very friendly relations with Southampton from the time when his genius was nearing its maturity. No contemporary document or tradition gives the faintest suggestion that Shakespeare was the friend or protege of any man of rank other than Southampton; and the student of Shakespeare's biography has reason to ask for some information respecting him who enjoyed the exclusive distinction of serving Shakespeare as his patron.

Parentage. Birth on Oct. 6, 1573.

Southampton was a patron worth cultivating. Both his parents came of the New Nobility, and enjoyed vast wealth. His father's father was Lord Chancellor under Henry VIII, and when the monasteries were dissolved, although he was faithful to the old religion, he was granted rich estates in Hampshire, including the abbeys of Titchfield and Beaulieu in the New Forest. He was created Earl of Southampton early in Edward VI's reign, and, dying shortly afterwards, was succeeded by his only son, the father of Shakespeare's friend. The second earl loved magnificence in his household. 'He was highly reverenced and favoured of all that were of his own rank, and bravely attended and served by the best gentlemen of those counties wherein he lived. His muster-roll never consisted of four lacqueys and a coachman, but of a whole troop of at least a hundred well-mounted gentlemen and yeomen.' {375a} The second earl remained a Catholic, like his father, and a chivalrous avowal of sympathy with Mary Queen of Scots procured him a term of imprisonment in the year preceding his distinguished son's birth. At a youthful age he married a lady of fortune, Mary Browne, daughter of the first Viscount Montague, also a Catholic. Her portrait, now at Welbeck, was painted in her early married days, and shows regularly formed features beneath bright auburn hair. Two sons and a daughter were the issue of the union. Shakespeare's friend, the second son, was born at her father's residence, Cowdray House, near Midhurst, on October 6, 1573. He was thus Shakespeare's junior by nine years and a half. 'A goodly boy, God bless him!' exclaimed the gratified father, writing of his birth to a friend. {375b} But the father barely survived the boy's infancy. He died at the early age of thirty-five—two days before the child's eighth birthday. The elder son was already dead. Thus, on October 4, 1581, the second and only surviving son became third Earl of Southampton, and entered on his great inheritance. {375c}


As was customary in the case of an infant peer, the little earl became a royal ward—'a child of state'—and Lord Burghley, the Prime Minister, acted as the boy's guardian in the Queen's behalf. Burghley had good reason to be satisfied with his ward's intellectual promise. 'He spent,' wrote a contemporary, 'his childhood and other younger terms in the study of good letters.' At the age of twelve, in the autumn of 1585, he was admitted to St. John's College, Cambridge, 'the sweetest nurse of knowledge in all the University.' Southampton breathed easily the cultured atmosphere. Next summer he sent his guardian, Burghley, an essay in Ciceronian Latin on the somewhat cynical text that 'All men are moved to the pursuit of virtue by the hope of reward.' The argument, if unconvincing, is precocious. 'Every man,' the boy tells us, 'no matter how well or how ill endowed with the graces of humanity, whether in the enjoyment of great honour or condemned to obscurity, experiences that yearning for glory which alone begets virtuous endeavour.' The paper, still preserved at Hatfield, is a model of calligraphy; every letter is shaped with delicate regularity, and betrays a refinement most uncommon in boys of thirteen. {376a} Southampton remained at the University for some two years, graduating M.A. at sixteen in 1589. Throughout his after life he cherished for his college 'great love and affection.'

Before leaving Cambridge, Southampton entered his name at Gray's Inn. Some knowledge of law was deemed needful in one who was to control a landed property that was not only large already but likely to grow. {376b} Meanwhile he was sedulously cultivating his literary tastes. He took into his 'pay and patronage' John Florio, the well-known author and Italian tutor, and was soon, according to Florio's testimony, as thoroughly versed in Italian as 'teaching or learning' could make him.

'When he was young,' wrote a later admirer, 'no ornament of youth was wanting in him;' and it was naturally to the Court that his friends sent him at an early age to display his varied graces. He can hardly have been more than seventeen when he was presented to his sovereign. She showed him kindly notice, and the Earl of Essex, her brilliant favourite, acknowledged his fascination. Thenceforth Essex displayed in his welfare a brotherly interest which proved in course of time a very doubtful blessing.

Recognition of Southampton's youthful beauty.

While still a boy, Southampton entered with as much zest into the sports and dissipations of his fellow courtiers as into their literary and artistic pursuits. At tennis, in jousts and tournaments, he achieved distinction; nor was he a stranger to the delights of gambling at primero. In 1592, when he was in his eighteenth year, he was recognised as the most handsome and accomplished of all the young lords who frequented the royal presence. In the autumn of that year Elizabeth paid Oxford a visit in state. Southampton was in the throng of noblemen who bore her company. In a Latin poem describing the brilliant ceremonial, which was published at the time at the University Press, eulogy was lavished without stint on all the Queen's attendants; but the academic poet declared that Southampton's personal attractions exceeded those of any other in the royal train. 'No other youth who was present,' he wrote, 'was more beautiful than this prince of Hampshire (quo non formosior alter affuit), nor more distinguished in the arts of learning, although as yet tender down scarce bloomed on his cheek.' The last words testify to Southampton's boyish appearance. {377a} Next year it was rumoured, that his 'external grace' was to receive signal recognition by his admission, despite his juvenility, to the Order of the Garter. 'There be no Knights of the Garter new chosen as yet,' wrote a well-informed courtier on May 3, 1593, 'but there were four nominated.' {377b} Three were eminent public servants, but first on the list stood the name of young Southampton. The purpose did not take effect, but the compliment of nomination was, at his age, without precedent outside the circle of the Sovereign's kinsmen. On November 17, 1595, he appeared in the lists set up in the Queen's presence in honour of the thirty-seventh anniversary of her accession. The poet George Peele pictured in blank verse the gorgeous scene, and likened the Earl of Southampton to that ancient type of chivalry, Bevis of Southampton, so 'valiant in arms,' so 'gentle and debonair,' did he appear to all beholders. {378}

Reluctance to marry.

But clouds were rising on this sunlit horizon. Southampton, a wealthy peer without brothers or uncles, was the only male representative of his house. A lawful heir was essential to the entail of his great possessions. Early marriages—child-marriages—were in vogue in all ranks of society, and Southampton's mother and guardian regarded matrimony at a tender age as especially incumbent on him in view of his rich heritage. When he was seventeen Burghley accordingly offered him a wife in the person of his granddaughter, Lady Elizabeth Vere, eldest daughter of his daughter Anne and of the Earl of Oxford. The Countess of Southampton approved the match, and told Burghley that her son was not averse from it. Her wish was father to the thought. Southampton declined to marry to order, and, to the confusion of his friends, was still a bachelor when he came of age in 1594. Nor even then did there seem much prospect of his changing his condition. He was in some ways as young for his years in inward disposition as in outward appearance. Although gentle and amiable in most relations of life, he could be childishly self-willed and impulsive, and outbursts of anger involved him, at Court and elsewhere, in many petty quarrels which were with difficulty settled without bloodshed. Despite his rank and wealth, he was consequently accounted by many ladies of far too uncertain a temper to sustain marital responsibilities with credit. Lady Bridget Manners, sister of his friend the Earl of Rutland, was in 1594 looking to matrimony for means of release from the servitude of a lady-in-waiting to the Queen. Her guardian suggested that Southampton or the Earl of Bedford, who was intimate with Southampton and exactly of his age, would be an eligible suitor. Lady Bridget dissented. Southampton and his friend were, she objected, 'so young,' 'fantastical,' and volatile ('so easily carried away'), that should ill fortune befall her mother, who was 'her only stay,' she 'doubted their carriage of themselves.' She spoke, she said, from observation. {379}

Intrigue with Elizabeth Vernon.

In 1595, at two-and-twenty, Southampton justified Lady Bridget's censure by a public proof of his fallibility. The fair Mistress Vernon (first cousin of the Earl of Essex), a passionate beauty of the Court, cast her spell on him. Her virtue was none too stable, and in September the scandal spread that Southampton was courting her 'with too much familiarity.'

Marriage in 1598.

The entanglement with 'his fair mistress' opened a new chapter in Southampton's career, and life's tempests began in earnest. Either to free himself from his mistress's toils, or to divert attention from his intrigue, he in 1596 withdrew from Court and sought sterner occupation. Despite his mistress's lamentations, which the Court gossips duly chronicled, he played a part with his friend Essex in the military and naval expedition to Cadiz in 1596, and in that to the Azores in 1597. He developed a martial ardour which brought him renown, and Mars (his admirers said) vied with Mercury for his allegiance. He travelled on the Continent, and finally, in 1598, he accepted a subordinate place in the suite of the Queen's Secretary, Sir Robert Cecil, who was going on an embassy to Paris. But Mistress Vernon was still fated to be his evil genius, and Southampton learnt while in Paris that her condition rendered marriage essential to her decaying reputation. He hurried to London and, yielding his own scruples to her entreaties, secretly made her his wife during the few days he stayed in this country. The step was full of peril. To marry a lady of the Court without the Queen's consent infringed a prerogative of the Crown by which Elizabeth set exaggerated store.

Imprisonment, 1601-3.

The story of Southampton's marriage was soon public property. His wife quickly became a mother, and when he crossed the Channel a few weeks later to revisit her he was received by pursuivants, who had the Queen's orders to carry him to the Fleet prison. For the time his career was ruined. Although he was soon released from gaol, all avenues to the Queen's favour were closed to him. He sought employment in the wars in Ireland, but high command was denied him. Helpless and hopeless, he late in 1600 joined Essex, another fallen favourite, in fomenting a rebellion in London, in order to regain by force the positions each had forfeited. The attempt at insurrection failed, and the conspirators stood their trial on a capital charge of treason on February 19, 1600-1. Southampton was condemned to die, but the Queen's Secretary pleaded with her that 'the poor young earl, merely for the love of Essex, had been drawn into this action,' and his punishment was commuted to imprisonment for life. Further mitigation was not to be looked for while the Queen lived. But Essex, Southampton's friend, had been James's sworn ally. The first act of James I as monarch of England was to set Southampton free (April 10, 1603). After a confinement of more than two years, Southampton resumed, under happier auspices, his place at Court.

Later career. Death on Nov. 10, 1624.

Southampton's later career does not directly concern the student of Shakespeare's biography. After Shakespeare had congratulated Southampton on his liberty in his Sonnet cvii., there is no trace of further relations between them, although there is no reason to doubt that they remained friends to the end. Southampton on his release from prison was immediately installed a Knight of the Garter, and was appointed governor of the Isle of Wight, while an Act of Parliament relieved him of all the disabilities incident to his conviction of treason. He was thenceforth a prominent figure in Court festivities. He twice danced a correnta with the Queen at the magnificent entertainment given at Whitehall on August 19, 1604, in honour of the Constable of Castile, the special ambassador of Spain, who had come to sign a treaty of peace between his sovereign and James I. {380} But home politics proved no congenial field for the exercise of Southampton's energies. Quarrels with fellow-courtiers continued to jeopardise his fortunes. With Sir Robert Cecil, with Philip Herbert, Earl of Montgomery, and with the Duke of Buckingham he had violent disputes. It was in the schemes for colonising the New World that Southampton found an outlet for his impulsive activity. He helped to equip expeditions to Virginia, and acted as treasurer of the Virginia Company. The map of the country commemorates his labours as a colonial pioneer. In his honour were named Southampton Hundred, Hampton River, and Hampton Roads in Virginia. Finally, in the summer of 1624, at the age of fifty-one, Southampton, with characteristic spirit, took command of a troop of English volunteers which was raised to aid the Elector Palatine, husband of James I's daughter Elizabeth, in his struggle with the Emperor and the Catholics of Central Europe. With him went his eldest son, Lord Wriothesley. Both on landing in the Low Countries were attacked by fever. The younger man succumbed at once. The Earl regained sufficient strength to accompany his son's body to Bergen-op-Zoom, but there, on November 10, he himself died of a lethargy. Father and son were both buried in the chancel of the church of Titchfield, Hampshire, on December 28. Southampton thus outlived Shakespeare by more than eight years.


Southampton's collection of books.

Southampton's close relations with men of letters of his time give powerful corroboration of the theory that he was the patron whom Shakespeare commemorated in the sonnets. From earliest to latest manhood—throughout the dissipations of Court life, amid the torments that his intrigue cost him, in the distractions of war and travel—the earl never ceased to cherish the passion for literature which was implanted in him in boyhood. His devotion to his old college, St. John's, is characteristic. When a new library was in course of construction there during the closing years of his life, Southampton collected books to the value of 360 pounds wherewith to furnish it. This 'monument of love,' as the College authorities described the benefaction, may still be seen on the shelves of the College library. The gift largely consisted of illuminated manuscripts—books of hours, legends of the saints, and mediaeval chronicles. Southampton caused his son to be educated at St. John's, and his wife expressed to the tutors the hope that the boy would 'imitate' his father 'in his love to learning and to them.'

References in his letters to poems and plays.

Even the State papers and business correspondence in which Southampton's career is traced are enlivened by references to his literary interests. Especially refreshing are the active signs vouchsafed there of his sympathy with the great birth of English drama. It was with plays that he joined other noblemen in 1598 in entertaining his chief, Sir Robert Cecil, on the eve of the departure for Paris of that embassy in which Southampton served Cecil as a secretary. In July following Southampton contrived to enclose in an official despatch from Paris 'certain songs' which he was anxious that Sir Robert Sidney, a friend of literary tastes, should share his delight in reading. Twelve months later, while Southampton was in Ireland, a letter to him from the Countess attested that current literature was an everyday topic of their private talk. 'All the news I can send you,' she wrote to her husband, 'that I think will make you merry, is that I read in a letter from London that Sir John Falstaff is, by his mistress Dame Pintpot, made father of a goodly miller's thumb—a boy that's all head and very little body; but this is a secret.' {383a} This cryptic sentence proves on the part of both earl and countess familiarity with Falstaff's adventures in Shakespeare's 'Henry IV,' where the fat knight apostrophised Mrs. Quickly as 'good pint pot' (Pt. I. II. iv. 443). Who the acquaintances were about whom the countess jested thus lightly does not appear, but that Sir John, the father of 'the boy that was all head and very little body,' was a playful allusion to Sir John's creator is by no means beyond the bounds of possibility. In the letters of Sir Toby Matthew, many of which were written very early in the seventeenth century (although first published in 1660), the sobriquet of Sir John Falstaff seems to have been bestowed on Shakespeare: 'As that excellent author Sir John Falstaff sayes, "what for your businesse, news, device, foolerie, and libertie, I never dealt better since I was a man."' {383b}

His love of the theatre.

When, after leaving Ireland, Southampton spent the autumn of 1599 in London, it was recorded that he and his friend Lord Rutland 'come not to Court' but 'pass away the time merely in going to plays every day.' {383c} It seems that the fascination that the drama had for Southampton and his friends led them to exaggerate the influence that it was capable of exerting on the emotions of the multitude. Southampton and Essex in February 1601 requisitioned and paid for the revival of Shakespeare's 'Richard II' at the Globe Theatre on the day preceding that fixed for their insurrection, in the hope that the play-scene of the deposition of a king might excite the citizens of London to countenance their rebellious design. {383d} Imprisonment sharpened Southampton's zest for the theatre. Within a year of his release from the Tower in 1603 he entertained Queen Anne of Denmark at his house in the Strand, and Burbage and his fellow players, one of whom was Shakespeare, were bidden to present the 'old' play of 'Love's Labour's Lost,' whose 'wit and mirth' were calculated 'to please her Majesty exceedingly.'

Poetic adulation. Barnabe Barnes's sonnet, 1593.

But these are merely accidental testimonies to Southampton's literary predilections. It is in literature itself, not in the prosaic records of his political or domestic life, that the amplest proofs survive of his devotion to letters. From the hour that, as a handsome and accomplished lad, he joined the Court and made London his chief home, authors acknowledged his appreciation of literary effort of almost every quality and form. He had in his Italian tutor Florio, whose circle of acquaintance included all men of literary reputation, a mentor who allowed no work of promise to escape his observation. Every note in the scale of adulation was sounded in Southampton's honour in contemporary prose and verse. Soon after the publication, in April 1593, of Shakespeare's 'Venus and Adonis,' with its salutation of Southampton, a more youthful apprentice to the poet's craft, Barnabe Barnes, confided to a published sonnet of unrestrained fervour his conviction that Southampton's eyes—'those heavenly lamps'—were the only sources of true poetic inspiration. The sonnet, which is superscribed 'to the Right Noble and Virtuous Lord, Henry, Earl of Southampton,' runs:

Receive, sweet Lord, with thy thrice sacred hand (Which sacred Muses make their instrument) These worthless leaves, which I to thee present, (Sprung from a rude and unmanured land) That with your countenance graced, they may withstand Hundred-eyed Envy's rough encounterment, Whose patronage can give encouragement To scorn back-wounding Zoilus his band. Vouchsafe, right virtuous Lord, with gracious eyes— Those heavenly lamps which give the Muses light, Which give and take in course that holy fire— To view my Muse with your judicial sight: Whom, when time shall have taught, by flight, to rise Shall to thy virtues, of much worth, aspire.

Tom Nash's addresses.

Next year a writer of greater power, Tom Nash, betrayed little less enthusiasm when dedicating to the earl his masterly essay in romance, 'The Life of Jack Wilton.' He describes Southampton, who was then scarcely of age, as 'a dear lover and cherisher as well of the lovers of poets as of the poets themselves.' 'A new brain,' he exclaims, 'a new wit, a new style, a new soul, will I get me, to canonise your name to posterity, if in this my first attempt I am not taxed of presumption.' {385a} Although 'Jack Wilton' was the first book Nash formally dedicated to Southampton, it is probable that Nash had made an earlier bid for the earl's patronage. In a digression at the close of his 'Pierce Pennilesse' he grows eloquent in praise of one whom he entitles 'the matchless image of honour and magnificent rewarder of vertue, Jove's eagle-borne Ganimede, thrice noble Amintas.' In a sonnet addressed to 'this renowned lord,' who 'draws all hearts to his love,' Nash expresses regret that the great poet, Edmund Spenser, had omitted to celebrate 'so special a pillar of nobility' in the series of adulatory sonnets prefixed to the 'Faerie Queene;' and in the last lines of his sonnet Nash suggests that Spenser suppressed the nobleman's name

Because few words might not comprise thy fame. {385b}

Southampton was beyond doubt the nobleman in question. It is certain, too, that the Earl of Southampton was among the young men for whom Nash, in hope of gain, as he admitted, penned 'amorous villanellos and qui passas.' One of the least reputable of these efforts of Nash survives in an obscene love-poem entitled 'The Choosing of Valentines,' which may be dated in 1595. Not only was this dedicated to Southampton in a prefatory sonnet, but in an epilogue, again in the form of a sonnet, Nash addressed his young patron as his 'friend.' {386}

Markham's sonnet, 1595. Florio's address, 1598.

Meanwhile, in 1595, the versatile Gervase Markham inscribed to Southampton, in a sonnet, his patriotic poem on Sir Richard Grenville's glorious fight off the Azores. Markham was not content to acknowledge with Barnes the inspiriting force of his patron's eyes, but with blasphemous temerity asserted that the sweetness of his lips, which stilled the music of the spheres, delighted the ear of Almighty God. Markham's sonnet runs somewhat haltingly thus:

Thou glorious laurel of the Muses' hill, Whose eyes doth crown the most victorious pen, Bright lamp of virtue, in whose sacred skill Lives all the bliss of ear-enchanting men, From graver subjects of thy grave assays, Bend thy courageous thoughts unto these lines— The grave from whence my humble Muse doth raise True honour's spirit in her rough designs— And when the stubborn stroke of my harsh song Shall seasonless glide through Almighty ears Vouchsafe to sweet it with thy blessed tongue Whose well-tuned sound stills music in the spheres; So shall my tragic lays be blest by thee And from thy lips suck their eternity.

Subsequently Florio, in associating the earl's name with his great Italian-English dictionary—the 'Worlde of Wordes'—more soberly defined the earl's place in the republic of letters when he wrote: 'As to me and many more the glorious and gracious sunshine of your honour hath infused light and life.'

The congratulations of the poets in 1603.

The most notable contribution to this chorus of praise is to be found, as I have already shown, in Shakespeare's 'Sonnets.' The same note of eulogy was sounded by men of letters until Southampton's death. When he was released from prison on James I's accession in April 1603, his praises in poets' mouths were especially abundant. Not only was that grateful incident celebrated by Shakespeare in what is probably the latest of his sonnets (No. cvii.), but Samuel Daniel and John Davies of Hereford offered the Earl congratulation in more prolonged strains. Daniel addressed to Southampton many lines like these:

The world had never taken so full note Of what thou art, hadst thou not been undone: And only thy affliction hath begot More fame than thy best fortunes could have won; For ever by adversity are wrought The greatest works of admiration; And all the fair examples of renown Out of distress and misery are grown . . . Only the best-compos'd and worthiest hearts God sets to act the hard'st and constanst'st parts. {388a}

Davies was more jubilant:

Now wisest men with mirth do seem stark mad, And cannot choose—their hearts are all so glad. Then let's be merry in our God and King, That made us merry, being ill bestead. Southampton, up thy cap to Heaven fling, And on the viol there sweet praises sing, For he is come that grace to all doth bring. {388b}

Many like praises, some of later date, by Henry Locke (or Lok), George Chapman, Joshua Sylvester, Richard Brathwaite, George Wither, Sir John Beaumont, and others could be quoted. Beaumont, on Southampton's death, wrote an elegy which panegyrises him in the varied capacities of warrior, councillor, courtier, father, and husband. But it is as a literary patron that Beaumont insists that he chiefly deserves remembrance:

I keep that glory last which is the best, The love of learning which he oft expressed In conversation, and respect to those Who had a name in arts, in verse or prose.

Elegies on Southampton.

To the same effect are some twenty poems which were published in 1624, just after Southampton's death, in a volume entitled 'Teares of the Isle of Wight, shed on the Tombe of their most noble valorous and loving Captaine and Governour, the right honorable Henrie, Earl of Southampton.' The keynote is struck in the opening stanza of the first poem by one Francis Beale:

Ye famous poets of the southern isle, Strain forth the raptures of your tragic muse, And with your Laureate pens come and compile The praises due to this great Lord: peruse His globe of worth, and eke his virtues brave, Like learned Maroes at Mecaenas' grave.


The publication of the sonnets in 1609.

In 1598 Francis Meres enumerated among Shakespeare's best known works his 'sugar'd sonnets among his private friends.' None of Shakespeare's sonnets are known to have been in print when Meres wrote, but they were doubtless in circulation in manuscript. In 1599 two of them were printed for the first time by the piratical publisher, William Jaggard, in the opening pages of the first edition of 'The Passionate Pilgrim.' On January 3, 1599-1600, Eleazar Edgar, a publisher of small account, obtained a license for the publication of a work bearing the title, 'A Booke called Amours by J. D., with certein other Sonnetes by W. S.' No book answering this description is extant. In any case it is doubtful if Edgar's venture concerned Shakespeare's 'Sonnets.' It is more probable that his 'W. S.' was William Smith, who had published a collection of sonnets entitled 'Chloris' in 1596. {390} On May 20, 1609, a license for the publication of Shakespeare's 'Sonnets' was granted by the Stationers' Company to a publisher named Thomas Thorpe, and shortly afterwards the complete collection as they have reached us was published by Thorpe for the first time. To the volume Thorpe prefixed a dedication in the following terms:


T. T.

The words are fantastically arranged. In ordinary grammatical order they would run: 'The well-wishing adventurer in setting forth [i.e. the publisher] T[homas] T[horpe] wisheth Mr. W. H., the only begetter of these ensuing sonnets, all happiness and that eternity promised by our ever-living poet.'

Publishers' dedication.

Few books of the sixteenth or seventeenth century were ushered into the world without a dedication. In most cases it was the work of the author, but numerous volumes, besides Shakespeare's 'Sonnets,' are extant in which the publisher (and not the author) fills the role of dedicator. The cause of the substitution is not far to seek. The signing of the dedication was an assertion of full and responsible ownership in the publication, and the publisher in Shakespeare's lifetime was the full and responsible owner of a publication quite as often as the author. The modern conception of copyright had not yet been evolved. Whoever in the sixteenth or early seventeenth century was in actual possession of a manuscript was for practical purposes its full and responsible owner. Literary work largely circulated in manuscript. {391} Scriveners made a precarious livelihood by multiplying written copies, and an enterprising publisher had many opportunities of becoming the owner of a popular book without the author's sanction or knowledge. When a volume in the reign of Elizabeth or James I was published independently of the author, the publisher exercised unchallenged all the owner's rights, not the least valued of which was that of choosing the patron of the enterprise, and of penning the dedicatory compliment above his signature. Occasionally circumstances might speciously justify the publisher's appearance in the guise of a dedicator. In the case of a posthumous book it sometimes happened that the author's friends renounced ownership or neglected to assert it. In other instances, the absence of an author from London while his work was passing through the press might throw on the publisher the task of supplying the dedication without exposing him to any charge of sharp practice. But as a rule one of only two inferences is possible when a publisher's name figured at the foot of a dedicatory epistle: either the author was ignorant of the publisher's design, or he had refused to countenance it, and was openly defied. In the case of Shakespeare's 'Sonnets' it may safely be assumed that Shakespeare received no notice of Thorpe's intention of publishing the work, and that it was owing to the author's ignorance of the design that the dedication was composed and signed by the 'well-wishing adventurer in setting forth.'

But whether author or publisher chose the patron of his wares, the choice was determined by much the same considerations. Self-interest was the principle underlying transactions between literary patron and protege. Publisher, like author, commonly chose as patron a man or woman of wealth and social influence who might be expected to acknowledge the compliment either by pecuniary reward or by friendly advertisement of the volume in their own social circle. At times the publisher, slightly extending the field of choice, selected a personal friend or mercantile acquaintance who had rendered him some service in trade or private life, and was likely to appreciate such general expressions of good will as were the accepted topic of dedications. Nothing that was fantastic or mysterious entered into the Elizabethan or the Jacobean publishers' shrewd schemes of business, and it may be asserted with confidence that it was under the everyday prosaic conditions of current literary traffic that the publisher Thorpe selected 'Mr. W. H.' as the patron of the original edition of Shakespeare's 'Sonnets.'

Thorpe's early life.

A study of Thorpe's character and career clears the point of doubt. Thorpe has been described as a native of Warwickshire, Shakespeare's county, and a man eminent in his profession. He was neither of these things. He was a native of Barnet in Middlesex, where his father kept an inn, and he himself through thirty years' experience of the book trade held his own with difficulty in its humblest ranks. He enjoyed the customary preliminary training. {393a} At midsummer 1584 he was apprenticed for nine years to a reputable printer and stationer, Richard Watkins. {393b} Nearly ten years later he took up the freedom of the Stationers' Company, and was thereby qualified to set up as a publisher on his own account. {393c} He was not destitute of a taste for literature; he knew scraps of Latin, and recognised a good manuscript when he saw one. But the ranks of London publishers were overcrowded, and such accomplishments as Thorpe possessed were poor compensation for a lack of capital or of family connections among those already established in the trade. {393d} For many years he contented himself with an obscure situation as assistant or clerk to a stationer more favourably placed.

His ownership of the manuscript of Marlowe's 'Lucan.' His dedicatory address to Edward Blount in 1600.

It was as the self-appointed procurer and owner of an unprinted manuscript—a recognised role for novices to fill in the book trade of the period—that Thorpe made his first distinguishable appearance on the stage of literary history. In 1600 there fell into his hands in an unexplained manner a written copy of Marlowe's unprinted translation of the first book of 'Lucan.' Thorpe confided his good fortune to Edward Blount, then a stationer's assistant like himself, but with better prospects. Blount had already achieved a modest success in the same capacity of procurer or picker-up of neglected 'copy.' {393e} In 1598 he became proprietor of Marlowe's unfinished and unpublished 'Hero and Leander,' and found among better-equipped friends in the trade both a printer and a publisher for his treasure-trove. Blount good-naturedly interested himself in Thorpe's 'find,' and it was through Blount's good offices that Peter Short undertook to print Thorpe's manuscript of Marlowe's 'Lucan,' and Walter Burre agreed to sell it at his shop in St. Paul's Churchyard. As owner of the manuscript Thorpe exerted the right of choosing a patron for the venture and of supplying the dedicatory epistle. The patron of his choice was his friend Blount, and he made the dedication the vehicle of his gratitude for the assistance he had just received. The style of the dedication was somewhat bombastic, but Thorpe showed a literary sense when he designated Marlowe 'that pure elemental wit,' and a good deal of dry humour in offering to 'his kind and true friend' Blount 'some few instructions' whereby he might accommodate himself to the unaccustomed role of patron. {394a} For the conventional type of patron Thorpe disavowed respect. He preferred to place himself under the protection of a friend in the trade whose goodwill had already stood him in good stead, and was capable of benefiting him hereafter.

This venture laid the foundation of Thorpe's fortunes. Three years later he was able to place his own name on the title-page of two humbler literary prizes—each an insignificant pamphlet on current events. {394b} Thenceforth for a dozen years his name reappeared annually on one, two, or three volumes. After 1614 his operations were few and far between, and they ceased altogether in 1624. He seems to have ended his days in poverty, and has been identified with the Thomas Thorpe who was granted an alms-room in the hospital of Ewelme, Oxfordshire, on December 3, 1635. {395a}

Character of his business.

Thorpe was associated with the publication of twenty-nine volumes in all, {395b} including Marlowe's 'Lucan;' but in almost all his operations his personal energies were confined, as in his initial enterprise, to procuring the manuscript. For a short period in 1608 he occupied a shop, The Tiger's Head, in St. Paul's Churchyard, and the fact was duly announced on the title-pages of three publications which he issued in that year. {395c} But his other undertakings were described on their title-pages as printed for him by one stationer and sold for him by another; and when any address found mention at all, it was the shopkeeper's address, and not his own. He never enjoyed in permanence the profits or dignity of printing his 'copy' at a press of his own, or selling books on premises of his own, and he can claim the distinction of having pursued in this homeless fashion the well-defined profession of procurer of manuscripts for a longer period than any other known member of the Stationers' Company. Though many others began their career in that capacity, all except Thorpe, as far as they can be traced, either developed into printers or booksellers, or, failing in that, betook themselves to other trades.

Very few of his wares does Thorpe appear to have procured direct from the authors. It is true that between 1605 and 1611 there were issued under his auspices some eight volumes of genuine literary value, including, besides Shakespeare's 'Sonnets,' three plays by Chapman, {395d} four works of Ben Jonson, and Coryat's 'Odcombian Banquet.' But the taint of mysterious origin attached to most of his literary properties. He doubtless owed them to the exchange of a few pence or shillings with a scrivener's hireling; and the transaction was not one of which the author had cognisance.

Shakespeare's sufferings at publishers' hands.

It is quite plain that no negotiation with the author preceded the formation of Thorpe's resolve to publish for the first time Shakespeare's 'Sonnets' in 1609. Had Shakespeare associated himself with the enterprise, the world would fortunately have been spared Thorpe's dedication to 'Mr. W. H.' T. T.'s' place would have been filled by 'W. S.' The whole transaction was in Thorpe's vein. Shakespeare's 'Sonnets' had been already circulating in manuscript for eleven years; only two had as yet been printed, and those were issued by the pirate publisher, William Jaggard, in the fraudulently christened volume, 'The Passionate Pilgrim, by William Shakespeare,' in 1599. Shakespeare, except in the case of his two narrative poems, showed utter indifference to all questions touching the publication of his works. Of the sixteen plays of his that were published in his lifetime, not one was printed with his sanction. He made no audible protest when seven contemptible dramas in which he had no hand were published with his name or initials on the title-page while his fame was at its height. With only one publisher of his time, Richard Field, his fellow-townsman, who was responsible for the issue of 'Venus' and 'Lucrece,' is it likely that he came into personal relations, and there is nothing to show that he maintained relations with Field after the publication of 'Lucrece' in 1594.

In fitting accord with the circumstance that the publication of the 'Sonnets' was a tradesman's venture which ignored the author's feelings and rights, Thorpe in both the entry of the book in the 'Stationers' Registers' and on its title-page brusquely designated it 'Shakespeares Sonnets,' instead of following the more urbane collocation of words invariably adopted by living authors, viz. 'Sonnets by William Shakespeare.'

The use of initials in dedications of Elizabethan and Jacobean books.

In framing the dedication Thorpe followed established precedent. Initials run riot over Elizabethan and Jacobean books. Printers and publishers, authors and contributors of prefatory commendations were all in the habit of masking themselves behind such symbols. Patrons figured under initials in dedications somewhat less frequently than other sharers in the book's production. But the conditions determining the employment of initials in that relation were well defined. The employment of initials in a dedication was a recognised mark of a close friendship or intimacy between patron and dedicator. It was a sign that the patron's fame was limited to a small circle, and that the revelation of his full name was not a matter of interest to a wide public. Such are the dominant notes of almost all the extant dedications in which the patron is addressed by his initials. In 1598 Samuel Rowlands addressed the dedication of his 'Betraying of Christ' to his 'deare affected friend Maister H. W., gentleman.' An edition of Robert Southwell's 'Short Rule of Life' which appeared in the same year bore a dedication addressed 'to my deare affected friend M. [i.e. Mr.] D. S., gentleman.' The poet Richard Barnfield also in the same year dedicated the opening sonnet in his 'Poems in divers Humours' to his 'friend Maister R. L.' In 1617 Dunstan Gale dedicated a poem, 'Pyramus and Thisbe,' to the 'worshipfull his verie friend D. [i.e. Dr.] B. H. {397}

Frequency of wishes for 'happiness' and 'eternity' in dedicatory greetings.

There was nothing exceptional in the words of greeting which Thorpe addressed to his patron 'Mr. W. H.' They followed a widely adopted formula. Dedications of the time usually consisted of two distinct parts. There was a dedicatory epistle, which might touch at any length, in either verse or prose, on the subject of the book and the writer's relations with his patron. But there was usually, in addition, a preliminary salutation confined to such a single sentence as Thorpe displayed on the first page of his edition of Shakespeare's sonnets. In that preliminary sentence the dedicator habitually 'wisheth' his patron one or more of such blessings as health, long life, happiness, and eternity. 'Al perseverance with soules happiness' Thomas Powell 'wisheth' the Countess of Kildare on the first page of his 'Passionate Poet' in 1601. 'All happines' is the greeting of Thomas Watson, the sonnetteer, to his patron, the Earl of Oxford, on the threshold of Watson's 'Passionate Century of Love.' There is hardly a book published by Robert Greene between 1580 and 1592 that does not open with an adjuration before the dedicatory epistle in the form: 'To —- —- Robert Greene wisheth increase of honour with the full fruition of perfect felicity.'

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