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It seems by this document, that the company first put a gross sum of 16,0001. upon the Blackfriars theatre and its appurtenances

--that, being called upon for particulars, they advanced their claim to 21,9901. ; but that the magistrates, extraordinary as it may seem, subsequently reduced the whole demand to only 2,9001. 13s. 4d. There is every reason to suppose that many circumstances, into which I need not now enter, had rendered the undertaking less profitable in 1633 than it had been in the time of Shakspeare, and down to the period when his plays ceased to be as popular as they had been made by Richard Burbage.

In connection with the question of the property of our great Dramatist, I may notice another document of some curiosity, which was pointed out to me among the fines preserved at the Chapter House, Westminster, subsequent to the publication of my book. It relates to the purchase, in 1603, of a messuage, with barn, granary, garden, and orchard, at Stratford upon Avon, for 601. In May, 1602, as is stated in most of the recent memoirs of Shakspeare, he had bought 107 acres of land, which he attached to his house of New Place, and in the same month of the subsequent year (as is no where mentioned) he made this additional bargain with Hercules Underhill. A copy of the document, in its original form, is worth insertion in a note.*

Ann rent, and for a voide piece of ground there to turne coaches in, which they value at 611 per Ann, makeing together 81li per Ann, the purchase thereof, at 14 yeares likewise, cometh to 1134li.

They demaund further in respect of the interest that some of them haue by lease in the said Playhouse, and in respect of the shares which others have in the benefit thereof, and for the damage they all pretend they shall sustaine by their remoue, not knowing where to settle themselves againe (they being 16 in number) the suine of 2400li viz to each of them 150li. But wee conceive they may be brought to accept of the summe of 1066li 13s. 4d which is to each of them 100 markes.

All which we humbly leave to your Lordshipps graue consideration. Your Lordshipps most humbly to be commanded

HE: SPILLER.

WILL. BAKER.

HUMPHREY SMITH.

LAWR. WHITAKER.

WILLM. CHILDE.

20 Nov. 1633.

* Hæc est finalis Concordia facta in Curia Dnæ. Reginæ apud Westm. a die Sci. Michis. in unum mensem Anno regnorum Elizabethæ Dei gratia Anglia Francise & Hiberniæ Reginæ Fidei Defensor. &c, a conqu. quadragesimo quarto coram Edo. Anderson Thoma Walmysley Georgio Kingesmyll & l'etro Warburton, Justic. & aliis Dna. Reginæ fidelibus

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It is known that, in 1605, Shakspeare gave 4401. for the lease of a moiety of the great and small tithes of Stratford; so that the author of the anonymous tract called Ratsey's Ghost (printed without date, but not earlier than 1606) might well make his hero tell the poor itinerant player, in obvious reference to the success of Shakspeare, " When thou feelest thy purse well lined, buy thee some place of lordship in the country, that, growing weary of playing, thy inoney may there bring thee to high dignity and reputation, ** * for I have heard indeed of some that have gone to London very meanly, and have come in time to be exceeding wealthy." Shakspeare came to London a penniless fugitive, and returned, "weary of playing " and of plays, to spend his last years in his birthplace, comparatively in " high dignity and reputation," and, if not "exceeding wealthy," with a very comfortable independence. In a previous part of the same paragraph, the author of Ratscy's Ghost clearly refers to Burbage as the original performer of Hamlet (a point now beyond dispute, to the rejection of the claim of Joseph Taylor, whose name has already been inserted), which brings me to another very interesting document preserved at Bridgewater House.

It is the copy of a letter signed H. S., and addressed, as we must conclude, to Lord Ellesmere, in order to induce him to exert himself on behalf of the players at Blackfriars when assailed by the corporation of London. It has no date ; but the internal evidence

tunc ibi presentibus. INTER WILLM. SHAKESPEARE generosum Quer, er. Herculem Underliill generosum Deforc. de uno mesuagio duobus Horreis duobus gardinis & duobus pomarijs cum pertin. in Stretford super Avon: Unde Placitum conventionis sum. fuit inter eos in eadem Curia Scilt. qd predictus Hercules recogn. predicta ten. cum pertin. esse jus ipsius Willi ut ill. que idem Wills. het. de dono predicti Herculis. Et ill. remisit & quietelam de se & hered. suis predicto Willo, & hered. suis in perpetuum. Et predicta idem Hercules concessit pro se & hered. suis qd ipsi warant, predicto Willo. & hered. suis predicta ten cum pertin. contra predictin Herculein & hered. suos in perpetui. Et pro hac recogn. remissione quivtelam Warant. fine & concordia idem Wills. dedit predicto Herculi sexaginta libras sterlingorum

WARR.

Secundum formam Statuti.

Primr.proclam. facta fuit vicesimo nono die Vovembris t'mio. Sci. Michis. Anno quadragesimo quinto Reginæ infrascr. Secunda proclam. facta fuit primo die Februar. t’mio. Sci. Hillar. Anno quadragesimo quinto Reginæ infrascr. Tertia proclam. facta fuit decimo octavo die Maij t’mio. Pasche, Anno regnorum Jacobi Dei gra. Angl. Scotiæ Franc. & Hibn. Regis, fidei Defensor. &c. Angl. Franc. & Hibn. primo, & Scotiae tricesimo sexto. Quarta proclam. facta fuit vicesimo quinto die Junij, t'mio. Scæ. Trinitatis, Anno primo Regis supradicti.

it contains shows that, in all probability, it refers to the attempt at dislodgment made in the year 1608, and it was in the same bundle as the paper giving a detail of the particular claims of Burbage, Fletcher, Shakspeare, and the rest.

I do not recollect any instances of letters of a precisely similar kind of so old a date, but they no doubt exist : it contains a personal introduction of Richard Burbage and William Shakspeare, by their names and professions, to the individual to whom it was addressed, in order that they might state to him their case, and interest him in behalf of the persecuted players. The initials H. S., at the end, I take to be those of Henry Southampton, who was the noble patron of Shakspeare, and who, in this very letter, calls the Poet his “especial friend.” It is natural to suppose that the young nobleman who had presented Shakspeare (if such be the fact, and there is no sufficient reason to deny it) with 1,000l. as a free gift not many years before, would take the strongest interest in his welfare. If you feel at all as I did when I first discovered the letter, you will not thank me for this "fearful commenting" before I insert it. It has no direction, and the copy was apparently made on half a sheet of paper ; but there can be little doubt that the original was placed in the hands of Lord Ellesmere by Burbage or by Shakspeare, when they waited upon the lord chancellor in company.

"My verie honored Lord. The manie good offices I haue received at your Lordships hands, which ought to make me backward in asking further favors, onely imbouldens me to require more in the same kinde. Your Lordship will be warned howe hereafter you graunt anie sute, seeing it draweth on more and greater demaunds. This which now presseth is to request your Lordship, in all you can, to be good to the poore players of the Black Fryers, who call them selues by authoritie the Seruaunts of his Majestie, and aske for the protection of their most graceous Maister and Sovereigne in this the tyme of their troble. They are threatened by the Lord Maior and Aldermen of London, never friendly to their calling', with the distruction of their meanes of livelihood, by the pulling downe of theire plaiehouse, which is a private Theatre, and hath neuer giuen ocasion of anger by anie disorders. These bearers are two of the chiefe of the companie; one of them by naine Richard Burbidge, who humblie sueth for your Lordships kinde helpe, for that he is a man famous as our Eng. lish Roscius, one who fitteth the action to the word and the word to the action most admirably. By the exercise of his qualitye industry and good behaviour, ne hath be come possessed of the Blacke Fryers playhouse, which hath bene imployed for playes sithence it was builded by his Father now nere 50 yeres

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The other is a man no whitt lesse deserving favor, and my especiall friende, till of late an actor of good account in the cumpanie, now a sharer in the same, and writer of some of our best English playes, which as your Lordship knoweth were most singularly liked of Quene Elizabeth, when the cumpanie was called vppon to performe before her Matie at Court at Christmas and Shrovetide. His most gracious Matie King James alsoe, since his coming to the crowne, hath extended his royall favour to the companie in divers waies and at sundrie tymes. This other hath to name William Shakespeare, and they are both of one countie, and indeede almost of one towne: both are right famous in their qualityes though it longeth not to your Lo, gravitie and wisedome to resort unto the places where they are wont to delight the publique eare.

Their trust and sute nowe is not to bee molested in their waye of life whereby they maintaine them selves and their wives and families (being both maried and of good reputation) as well as the widowes and orphanes of some of their dead fellows.

6 Your Lo, most bounden at com.

6 H. S.

" Copia vera."

You will not fail to observe that Lord Southampton (if, as there is little question in my mind, the letters H. S. are to be taken as his initials), speaking of the performances of Burbage, makes use of a celebrated expression from Hamlet (Act iii., sc. 2), where the prince is giving directions to the players--- Suit the action to the word, and the word to the action"--which contains in one short sentence the whole art and mystery of dramatic personation. It was applicable to Burbage upon all accounts, but especially as the first representative of Hamlet : that he was so, we know, not only from the positive assertion of the epitaph upon Burbage (“ History of Dramatic Poetry," i., 430), but from the author of Ratscy's Ghost, a tract I have already quoted :--"Get thee to London (said Ratsey to the country actor), for, if one man were dead, they will have much need of such as thou art: there would be none in my opinion fitter than thyself to play his parts. My conceit is such of thee, that I durst all the money in my purse on thy head to play Hamlet with him for a wager."* This was written about 1606,

* It is doubtful, from the epitaph on Burbage, inserted in the “ History of Dramatic Poetry," i., 430, whether the words cruel Moor" apply to Othello, or Aaron in Titus Andronicus; but the following eulogy upon Burbage, at the end of a ballad founded upon Shakspeare's play, and entitled The Tragedie of Othello the Moore, settles the point, and is otherwise very interesting in reference to the obligations of Shakspeare to Burbage. It is contained in a MS. volume of ballads, and productions of a similar nature, collected, as I apprehend, in the time of the Protectorate.

66

and Hamlet was produced about 1603. Lord Southampton a little overshot the mark when he said, in 1608, that the Blackfriars playhouse had been built fifty years: certain " rooms” in the precinct were first converted into a theatre in 1576, so that it had not been built more than two-and-thirty years.

With respect to Shakspeare, the preceding letter presents several points worthy of note, which cannot fail to have struck you. One is that upon which I have remarked before, viz. that Lord Southampton calls our great Poet his “especial friend;" for any nobleman might well be vain of familiarity with such a man, and ought to consider it a privilege to be able to lay him under an obligation.

Next he says that Shakspeare had been 'till of late an actor of good account in the company,” which may serve to settle the question what was his rank among his fellows in that capacity: had Shakspeare deserved any thing like the praise merited by Burbage, Lord Southampton would have chosen other terms by which to characterize his performances; and we may reckon it a fortunate circumstance that his moderate success as an actor perhaps led him to apply himself with more assiduity to dramatic composition. The celebrity of Burbage is recorded, but the fame of Shakspeare is imperishable. The language of Lord Southampton certainly decides that our great Poet had recently quitted the stage, and we may conclude, therefore, contrary to the received opinion, that he

5 Dicke Burbidge, that most famous man,

That Actor without peare,
With this same part his course began,

And kept it many a yeare.
Shakespeare was fortunate, I trow,

That such an actor had :

If we had but his equall now

For one I should be glad.”

This, I apprehend, was written by Thomas Jordan, himself an actor, who, no doubt, had often seen Burbage. If the line, " With this same part his course began," is to be taken literally, Othello was a much earlier play than Malone supposed it when he fixed it in 1604. I wish I could insert the whole of the ballad, as well as some others connected with Shakspeare's productions-one of them on the same story as The Tempest, and perhaps preceding it in point of date; but it would lead me too far from my present purpose, and I shall reserve them.

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