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remained a performer for some time after his name appeared in the list at the end of Ben Jonson's Sejanus, as acted in 1603.
I pass over, as unimportant, with our present convictions, Lord Southampton's then valuable testimony to the excellence of some of Shakspeare's productions, and to the satisfaction Queen Elizabeth had derived from the representation of them; but his letter establishes that the Burbages were originally from Warwickshire, if not from Stratford upon Avon, although, if Richard Burbage were born in Holywell street, Shoreditch, as has been conjectured, it could hardly be said that he and Shakspeare were
- almost of one town." A John Burbage, perhaps the father of James, and the grandfather of Richard, was bailiff of Stratford upon Avon in 1555. No registration of the birth of Richard Burbage is to be found in the parish of St. Leonard, Shoreditch ; but Malone and Chalmers (Shakspeare, by Boswell, iii., 183 and 467) concluded, nevertheless, that he was born in Holywell street, about the year 1570. This may be the fact, but there is nothing to show that James Burbage came to London before 1570, nor that his son Richard was not born in Warwickshire. I should infer, from the expression of Lord Southampton, that Richard Burbage was born in Warwickshire, near Stratford upon Avon : if not, how could they both be “of one county?” This circumstance, supposing Thomas Greene, another member of the company, and an author, had not been Shakspeare's countryman, or had never existed, would be sufficient to explain why he joined the Lord Chamberlain's (afterwards the King's) Servants when he first visited London in 1586 or 1587.
All this you will allow to be matter of great interest to every lover of Shakspeare. When first I obtained permission to look through the Bridgewater MSS. in detail, I conjectured that it would be nearly impossible to turn over so many state-papers, and such a bulk of correspondence, private and official, without meeting with something illustrative of the subject to which I have devoted so many years; but I certainly never anticipated being so fortunate as to obtain particulars so new, curious, and important, regarding a Poet who, above all others, ancient or modern, native or foreign, has been the object of admiration. When I took up the copy of Lord Southampton's letter, and glanced over it hastily, I could scarcely believe my eyes, to see such names as Shakspeare and Burbage in connection in a manuscript of the time. There was a remarkable coincidence also in the discovery, for it happened on the anniversary of Shakspeare's birth and death. I will not
* His popularity as an author seems to have been nearly on a par with his celebrity as
ttempt to describe my joy and surprise, and I can only liken it io the unexpected gratification I experienced two or three years ago, when I turned out, from some ancient depositories of the Duke of Devonshire, the original designs of Inigo Jones, not only for the scenery, but for the dresses and characters of the different masks by Ben Jonson, Campion, Townshend, &c., presented at court in the reigns of our first James and Charles. The sketches were sometimes accompanied by explanations in the hand-writing of the great artist, a few of which incidentally illustrate Shakspeare, who, however, was never employed for any of these royal entertainments: annexed to one of the drawings was the following written description, from whence we learn how the actor of the part of Falstaff was usually habited in the time of Shakspeare.
" Like a Sr. Jon Falsstaff: in a roabe of russet, quite low, with a great belley, like a swolen man, long moustacheos, the sheows [shoes] shorte, and (ut of them great toes like naked feete : buskins to sheaw a great swolen leg. A cupp coming fourth like a beake-a great head and balde, and a little cap wla Venetiane, greay—a rodd and a scroule of parchment.”
The character here described was that of the representative of Good-fellowship, and it was probably not meant that it should bear more than a general resemblance to Falstaff: we may conclude, besides his corpulency, that he wore russet, moustaches, buskins, and that his large bald head was sometimes covered with a small grey Venetian cap. In the plate before Kirkman's Drolls, 1672, he is represented with a large cup in his hand.
But I am not yet come to an end of my recent acquisitions respecting Shakspeare, from the unexplored archives at Bridgewater House. In an original entry book of patents, and warrants for patents, kept by William Tuthill, “the riding clerk," containing lists of all that had passed the great seal while it was in the hands
of Lord Ellesmere in 1609, I read the following item, which, taken by itself, does not appear of much importance :
66 A Warrant for Robert Daborne and others, the Queene's Servants, to bring up and practise Children in Plaies by the name of the Children of the Queen's Revells, for the pleasure of her Majestie, 40. Janij Anno Septimo Jacobi.''
I remembered that Philip Rosseter, the lutanist, had obtained a patent of the very same date, and for the very same purpose (vide “ History of Dramatic Poetry," i , 372), and it struck me as extraordinary that there should be two concurrent grants. I knew also, whatever might be Daborne's circumstances in 1609, that he was in great want in 1613 or 1614, when he was imploring Henslowe not to forsake him " in his extremity" (Mal: Shakspeare, by Boswell, iii., 336), so that he could not then have been in possession of funds to enable him to enter into such a speculation. I subsequently found, however, that he had, or was to have had, partners in the undertaking, one of them being William Shakspeare, another Nathaniel Field, the celebrated actor and dramatist, and a third Edward Kirkham, whose name had been in a previous warrant for the instruction of the Children of the Queen's Revels, a copy of which is inserted in the “ History of Dramatic Poetry," i., 353.
It has hitherto been thought, by every body acquainted with the subject, that Shakspeare confined his efforts, both as author and actor, to the two theatres occupied by the King's Servants, the Blackfriars and the Globe. I still believe that such was the fact, for reasons I shall assign presently, notwithstanding the evidence to the contrary, afforded by the following document, which came earliest to my hands. It purports to be a draft either for a patent or a privy seal, and runs thus :
Right trusty and welbeloved &c. James &c. To all Mayors, Sherriffs, Justices of the peace &c. Whereas the Queene our dearest wife hath for her pleasure and recreation appointed her Servaunts Robert
. Daiborne &c. to provide and bring upp a convenient nomber of Children who shall be calle?" the children of her Maiesties Revells, knowe ye that we haue appointed and authorized and by these presents doe appoint and authorize the said Robert Daiborne, William Shakespeare, Nathaniel Field and Edward Kirkham from time to time to provide and bring upp a convenient nomber of Children, and them to instruct and exercise in the quality of playing Tragedies, Comedies &c. by the name of the Children of the Revells to the Queene, within the
within our realm of England” are added, so that the Children of the Queen's Revels might in fact perform in any English theatre.* When, however, it turned out that the corporation of London could not succeed in their design of expelling the King's Servants from the privileged precinct of the Blackfriars, Shakspeare might resolve, as long as he remained in London, to continue his old connection, as we know that he did, to the last. This is the most plausible conjecture I can form, and it is somewhat supported by the circumstance that, in the privy seal to Rosseter, it was expressly stipulated that the children were to perform at the Whitefriars theatre, which had been erected about the same time as the Blackfriars theatre.
The Whitefriars theatre was likewise in a liberty out of the jurisdiction of the lord mayor. We have no information at all precise when it was built; but I apprehend that it arose out of the persecution of the players by the corporation in 1575. In 1613, Sir George Buc, master of the revels, received a fee of 201. for his permission to rebuild it; and I have in my possession an original survey of some part of the precinct, made in March, 1616, which contains the following paragraph regarding the theatre in the Whitefriars :
“ The Theater is situate near vnto the Bishopps House, and was in former times a hall or refectorie belonging to the dissolved Monastery. It hath beene vsed as a place for the presentation of playes and enterludes for more then 30 yeares, last by the Children of her Majestie. It hath little or no furniture for a playhouse, saving an old tottered curten, some decayed benches, and a few worne out properties and peeces of Arras for hangings to the stage and tire house. The raine hath made its way in and if it bee not repaired, it must soone be plucked downe, or it will fall.”
This document was not in my hands when I printed my book, or I should, of course, have inserted it. One of the last plays per
* Neither were these theatrical "children" necessarily always young.
necessarily always young. In the State Paper Office is a letter from Ignatius Jurdain, mayor of Exeter (endorsed “ June, 1618"), to Sir Thomas Lake, “ Principal Secretary to his Majesty," complaining that John Daniel (of whom I shall have something more to say by and by) had come to that city, and, showing his patent, had claimed a right to perform there. The mayor refused his permission, on the ground that the patent was only for Children of the Revels,” whereas, in the whole company, there were only five youths, and the rest men of thirty, forty, and fifty years old. He had, however, presented them with four angels, with which they seemed content; but, as he afterwards heard that they threatened to write to the privy council, complaining of obstruction, he had determined to be beforehand with them. He annexes to his letter a copy of the patent of the 17th of July, 13 Jac. I.