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William Shakespeare ; poet, dramatist, and man online

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WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

POET, DRAMATIST, AND MAN




THE KI.Y HOUSE PORTRAIT OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARK.

The original, now in the possession of the Trustees of the Birthplace at Stratford, formerly
belonged to the Bishop of Ely. It is inscribed M 39 x 1603.



WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

POET, DRAMATIST, AND MAN



BY



HAMILTON WRIGHT MABIE

AUTHOR OF " MY STUDY FIRE," " UNDER THE TREES AND
ELSEWHERE," "THE LIFE OF THE SPIRIT," ETC.




WITH ONE HUNDRED ILLUSTRATIONS



THIRD EDITION, WITH CORRECTIONS



Nefo gorfe
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

LONDON: MACMILLAN & CO., LTD.
IQ22

All rtsrhts reserved



PBINTED IN THB UNITED BTATB8 OF AMERICA



COPYRIGHT, 1900,
BY THE OUTLOOK CO.

COPYRIGHT, 1900,
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.



Set up and electrotyped October, 1900. Reprinted December,
1900 :



NortopoB
i. 8. Gushing &>Co. - Berwick c Smith
Norwood Mass. U.S.A.



To
MY MOTHER

and

To the Memory of
MY FATHER



572143



ON SHAKESPEARE

What needs my Shakespeare for his honoured bones

The labour of an age in piled stones ?

Or that his hallowed reliques should be hid

Under a star-ypointing pyramid ?

Dear son of memory, great heir of fame,

What need'st thou such weak witness of thy name ?

Thou in our wonder and astonishment

Hast built thyself a livelong monument.

For whilst, to the shame of slow endeavouring art,

Thy easy numbers flow, and that each heart

Hath from the leaves of thy unvalued book

Those Delphic lines with deep impression took,

Then thou, our fancy of itself bereaving,

Dost make us marble with too much conceiving,

And so sepulchered, in such pomp dost lie

That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.

JOHN MILTON. 1630.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER I

PAGE

THE FORERUNNERS OF SHAKESPEARE I

CHAPTER II
BIRTH AND BREEDING 29

CHAPTER III
SHAKESPEARE'S COUNTRY 52

CHAPTER IV
MARRIAGE AND LONDON 76

CHAPTER V
THE LONDON STAGE , 101

CHAPTER VI
APPRENTICESHIP . 125

CHAPTER VII
THE FIRST FRUITS e 148

CHAPTER VIII

THE POETIC PERIOD . 177

vii



vm CONTENTS

CHAPTER IX

PAGE

THE SONNETS 207

CHAPTER X
THE HISTORICAL PLAYS 228

CHAPTER XI
THE COMEDIES . . 248

CHAPTER XII
THE APPROACH OF TRAGEDY 271

CHAPTER XIII
THE EARLIER TRAGEDIES 290

CHAPTER XIV
THE LATER TRAGEDIES . . 314

CHAPTER XV
THE ETHICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TRAGEDIES . 342

CHAPTER XVI
THE ROMANCES 360

CHAPTER XVII
THE LAST YEARS AT STRATFORD 387



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

FULL-PAGE PLATES, ETC.

THE ELY HOUSE PORTRAIT OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE Frontispiece

MARY ARDEN'S COTTAGE facing page 32

GRAMMAR SCHOOL, STRATFORD . " "46

IN THE GARDEN OF ANNE HATHAWAY'S COTTAGE . " "90

The figure in the foreground is the late custodian, Mrs. Baker.
SHAKESPEARE'S LONDON .... between pages 120, 121

Double page, half-tone map. Stilliard's map of the city in the reign
of Elizabeth.

STRATFORD FROM THE MEMORIAL THEATRE . facing page 172

WARWICK CASTLE " 256

THE MEMORIAL THEATRE, STRATFORD ..." " 316

From Clopton Bridge.

THE HOUSE ON HENLEY STREET, STRATFORD. . " " 348
Commonly known as the Birthplace.

THE GARDEN AT NEW PLACE, STRATFORD " " 286

ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT

PAGE

A Mystery Play in York Cathedral 8

Pageants on which were given Miracle Plays . . . .12

Four Morality Players : Contemplation Perseverance Imagi-
nation, and Free Will ... . . . . .16

From a black-letter copy of the Morality " Hycke-Scorner."
The Talbot Inn Chaucer's "Tabard" .... 20

Where the early players often raised their rude stage.



X LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE

The Globe Theatre, Southwark 25

An Early Drawing of Shakespeare's Birthplace . . . -31

Shakespeare's Birth Record . . . . . . ,34

The three crosses mark the line.

Font in Trinity Church, where Shakespeare was baptized . . 35

The Room in which Shakespeare was born 37

A Bit of the Wall of the Room in which Shakespeare was born . 38

Latin Room, Grammar School, Stratford 43

The Approach to Holy Trinity Church . . . . 45

The Guild Chamber in the Grammar School .... 48

Guy's Cliff and the Avon 50

From an old print.

Queen Elizabeth 54

Kenilworth Castle 57

From an old print, showing the castle as it appeared in 1620. The
castle was destroyed during and after the Civil War.

Mervyn's Tower .58

In which Amy Robsart was imprisoned.

The Earl of Leicester, 1588 . 60

The Path from the Forest of Arden to Stratford .... 63

A typical English footpath through the meadows, with hedges of haw-
thorn on either side. These paths are sometimes reached by a stile,
as in this case, and sometimes by a kissing-gate.

The Forest of Arden 65

The remains of a large tract of forest which formerly stretched away
from Stratford on the west and north.

Charlecote House from the Avon 67

The Road to Hampton Lucy 70

The " Bank where the Wild Thyme blows " .... 73

This bank is not far from Shottery, and is the only place near Strat-
ford where the wild thyme is found.

The Path to Shottery 79

Kissing-gate in foreground.

The Boar at Charlecote Gate . 81



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS xi

PAGE

Charlecote 83

As it appeared in the year 1722.

Sir T. Lucy 84

Monument in Charlecote Church.

Anne Hathaway's Cottage . . 86

The living-room : Mrs. Baker, the custodian, who died in 1899, a
member of the Hathaway family, by the fireplace.

A View of Warwick in Shakespeare's Time ... 89

From an old print: S. John's S. Nicolas' Church The Castle
S. Maria's Church The Priorye and Grove " The prospect of War-
wick from Coventre roade on the Northeast part of the Towne."

The Crown Inn, Oxford ........ 92

From an old print. Where, according to tradition, Shakespeare
lodged on his way to London. This inn has entirely disappeared.

The Zoust Portrait of William Shakespeare .... 94
Now in the possession of Sir John Lister-Kaye, the Grange, Wakefield.

Old London Bridge 99

From an old print.

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester 107

From a contemporary crayon sketch.

The Bankside, Southwark, showing the Globe Theatre . . 109
From Visscher's " View of London," drawn in 1616.

The Globe Theatre, Southwark 115

From a drawing in the illustrated edition of Pennant's " London," in
the British Museum.

The Bear-baiting Garden . .117

This stood near the Globe Theatre, Bankside.

The Bankside, Southwark, showing the Swan Theatre . .127
From Visscher's " View of London," drawn in 1616.

The " Black Bust " of Shakespeare 123

From a plaster cast of the original terra-cotta bust owned by the
Garrick Club, L.

Queen Elizabeth enthroned 129

From a rare old print.

William Shakespeare 135

The J. Q. A. Ward statue, which stands at the entrance to the Mall,
Central Park, New York.



xii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



PAGE



Sir Philip Sidney . . . . . . . . . 139

Engraving from the original of Sir Anthony More.

The Droeshout Portrait of William Shakespeare . . . .150
At present in the Memorial Picture Gallery at Stratford.

The Tower of London, about the Middle of the Sixteenth

Century 153

From an old print.
Sir Francis Drake . . . . . . . . .158

From the picture belonging to J. A. Hope, Esq.
Sir Walter Raleigh 162

Engraving from the original by Zucchero.
Thomas Nashe .......... 169

From an early pen drawing.

William Shakespeare 171

The statue on the Gower Memorial, Stratford.

Michael Draytoji . . . . . . . . . 179

From an old and rare pen drawing.

Edmund Spenser 182

William Cecil, Lord Burleigh. Prime Minister of Queen Elizabeth . 185
From the original painting at Hatfield House.

Old Palace, Whitehall . . . . . . . . . 191

From a print engraved for Lambert's " History of London."

London in 1543 198, 199

From Westminster to Bishopsgate and Leadenhall.

London in 1 543 . 200

From the Tower to Greenwich Palace. This and the preceding illus-
trations are after an old print in the Bodleian Library.

William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, Shakespeare's Friend and

Patron .... ,,. 213

From an engraving by T. Jenkins, after the original of Van Dyke, in
the collection of the Earl of Pembroke.

Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton 223

From an engraving by R. Cooper, after the original of Mirevelt, in the
collection of the Duke of Bedford.

George Chapman # . . 226

From an old print.



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS x iii

PAGE

John Fletcher 231

From a picture in the possession of the Earl of Clarendon.

Warwick from the London Road 236

S. Peter's Chapel The Castle Garden The Mount S. Marie's
Church The Castle The Priorye S. Nicholas* Church.

Francis Beaumont 240

From a picture in the possession of Colonel Harcourt.

Seal of the Royal Dramatic College 244

Garden of Dr. John Hall's House 249

Greenwich Palace 261

The Hall of the Middle Temple . 269

Where " Twelfth Night " was played.

The Shakespeare Monument in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford . 272

Ben Jonson 278

From a picture in the possession of Mr. Knight.

Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex 285

After the original of Walker in the collection of the Marquis of Stafford.

The American Fountain and Clock-tower, Stratford . . . 291

Middle Temple Lane .......... 294

Queen Elizabeth 300

From an old print.

Kenilworth Castle 305

From an old print, " From the old parke on the South side thereof."

Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam 312

From a print by I. Houbraken, 1738.

Wilton House .......... 320

Old Clopton Bridge 324

The Hall at Clopton 330

James I. on Horseback 337

From an old print.

Henry, Prince of Wales, Son of James 1 343

Kenilworth Castle 353

From an old print, "The frospect thereof upon the road from
vCoventre to Warwick."



xiv LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

PACK

Kenilworth Castle 357

From an old print, " The Prospect thereof upon Bull-hill neere the
road from Colehill towards Warwick."

Holy Trinity Church from the Avon 362

From a photograph.

The Guild Chapel Porch 371

Facsimile of the Title-page of the First Folio Edition of Shake-
speare's " The Tempest " 381

The Signature of William Shakespeare ..... 390

The Dining-Hall at Clopton 393

The Inscription over the Grave of William Shakespeare . 396, 397

Inscription over the Grave of Shakespeare's Wife . . . 399

Poets' Corner, Westminster ....... 403

Shakespeare's Death Record 406

Tailpiece 408

From carving on the stalls of Holy Trinity Church.



WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

POET, DRAMATIST, AND MAN



William Shakespeare :

POET, DRAMATIST, AND MAN
CHAPTER I

THE FORERUNNERS OF SHAKESPEARE

THE history of the growth of the drama is one
of the most fascinating chapters in the record of
the spiritual life of the race. So closely is it bound
up with that life that the unfolding of this art
appears, wherever one looks deeply into it, as a
vital rather than a purely artistic process. That
art has ever been conceived as the product of any-
thing less rich and deep than an unfolding of life
shows how far we have been separated by historic
conditions from any first-hand contact with it, any
deep-going and adequate conception of what it is,
and what it means in the life of the race. It re-
quires a great effort of the imagination to put our-
selves into the attitude of those early men who had
the passions and were doing the work of men, but
who had the fresh and responsive imagination of
childhood; who were so closely in touch with



WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

nature that the 'whole world was alive to them in
every sight and sound. Personification was not
only natural but inevitable to a race whose imagina-
tion was far in advance of its knowledge. Such a
race would first create and then devoutly believe
the story of Dionysus : the wandering god, master
of all the resources of vitality; buoyant, enthrall-
ing, mysterious, intoxicating; in whom the rising
passion, the deep instinct for freedom, which the
spring let loose in every imagination, found visible
embodiment; the personification of the ebbing and
rising tide of life in Nature, and, therefore, the
symbol of the spontaneous and inspirational ele-
ment in life ; the personification of the mysterious
force of reproduction, and therefore the symbol of
passion and license.

The god was entirely real ; everybody knew that
a group of Tyrrhenian sailors had seized him as
he sat on a rock on the seashore, bound him with
withes, and carried him to the deck of their tiny
piratical craft ; and everybody knew also that the
withes had fallen from him, that streams of wine
ran over the ship, vines climbed the mast and hung
from the yards, garlands were twined about the
oars, and a fragrance as of vineyards was breathed
over the sea. Then suddenly a lion stood among
the sailors, who sprang overboard and were changed
into dolphins ; while the god, taking on his natural
form, ran the ship into port. Such a being, appeal-
ing alike to the imagination and the passions, per-



THE FORERUNNERS OF SHAKESPEARE 3

sonifying the most beautiful mysteries and giving
form to the wildest longings of the body and the
mind, could not be worshipped save by rites and
ceremonies which were essentially dramatic.

The seed-time and harvest festivals furnished
natural occasions for such a worship ; the wor-
shippers often wore goatskins to counterfeit the
Satyrs, and so gave tragedy its name. Grouped
about rude altars, in a rude chorus, they told the
story of the god's wanderings and adventures, not
with words only, but with gesture, dance, and
music. The expression of thought and feeling was
free from self-consciousness, and was like a mirror
of the emotions of the worshipper. This ballad-
dance, which Mr. Moulton describes as a kind of
literary protoplasm because several literary forms
were implicit in it and were later developed out of
it, was a free, spontaneous, natural act of worship ;
it was also a genuine drama, which unfolded by
easy gradations into a noble literary form. The
frequent repetition of the story threw its dramatic
element into more striking relief: the narrative
gradually detached itself from the choral parts and
fell to individual singers ; these singers separated
themselves from the chorus and gave their parts
increasing dramatic quality and distinctness ; until,
by a process of rude and almost unconscious evolu-
tion, the story was acted instead of narrated, and
the dramatic poet, when he arrived, found all the
materials for a complete drama ready to his hand. It



4 WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

is sober history, therefore, and not figurative speech^
that the drama was born at the foot of the altar.

And more than eighteen hundred years later the
drama was born again at the foot of the altar.
Whatever invisible streams of tradition may have
flowed from the days of a declining theatre at
Rome through the confused and largely recordless
life of the early Middle Ages, it may safely be
assumed that the modern drama began, as the
ancient drama had begun, in the development of
worship along dramatic lines. In the history of
fairy tales and folk-lore, the explanation of striking
similarities between the old and the new is to be
sought, probably, in the laws of the mind rather
than in the direct transmission of forms or mate-
rials. When spiritual and intellectual conditions
are repeated, the action or expression of the mind
affected by them is likely to be repeated. In
every age men of a certain temperament drama-
tize their own experience whenever they essay to
describe it, and dramatize whatever material comes
to their hand for the purpose of entertaining
others. The instinct which prompts men of this
temper to make a story of every happening by
selecting the most striking incidents, rearranging
them, and heightening the effect by skilful group-
ing, has made some kind of drama inevitable in
every age. When the influence of Menander,
modified and adapted to Roman taste by Terence,
Plautus, and their successors, was exhausted, farces,



THE FORERUNNERS OF SHAKESPEARE 5

with music, pantomime, and humorous dialogue,
largely improvised, met the general need with the
coarse fun which suited a time of declining taste
and decaying culture. The indecency and vulgar-
ity of these purely popular shows became more
pronounced as the Roman populace sank in intelli-
gence and virtue ; the vigour which redeemed in
part their early license gave place to the grossest
personalities and the cheapest tricks and feats of
skill.

The mimes, or players, carried this degenerate
drama into the provinces, where taste was even less
exacting than in Rome, and the half-heathen world
was entertained by cheap imitations of the worst
amusements of the Capital. At a still later date,
in market-places, on village greens, in castle yards,
and even at Courts, strolling players recited, pos-
tured, sang, danced, played musical instruments,
and broke up the monotony of life at a time when
means of communication were few, slow, and expen-
sive. It is difficult for modern men to realize in
imagination the isolation of small communities and
of great castles in the Middle Ages. The stroll-
ing player was welcome, not only because he was
entertaining, but because he brought the air of the
remote world with him.

The vulgarity and indecency of shows of such an
origin, everywhere adapting themselves to popular
taste at a time when popular taste was coarse to the
last degree, were inevitable. Then, as now, society



6 WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

had the kind of entertainment for which it asked ;
then, as now, the players were bent on pleasing the
people. The Church, having other ends in view,
tried to purify the general taste by purifying the
amusements of the people, and in the fifth century
the players of various kinds mimes, histriones,
joculatores were put under formal ecclesiastical
condemnation. The Church not only condemned
the players ; she excluded them from her sacraments.

The players continued to perform in the face of
ecclesiastical disapproval, and they found audiences ;
for the dramatic instinct lies deep in men, and the
only way to shut out vulgar and indecent plays is to
replace them by plays of a better quality. The play
persists, and cannot be successfully banned. This
degenerate practice of a once noble art came into
England after the Norman Conquest, and the play-
ers became, not only the entertainers of the people,
but the story-tellers and reporters of the period.
They made the monotony of life more bearable.

How much indirect influence this humble and
turbid stream of dramatic activity may have had on
the development of the English drama cannot be
determined; the chief influence in the making of
that drama came from the Church. The Church
condemned the manifestation of the dramatic in-
stinct, but it did not fall into the later error of con-
demning the instinct itself ; on the contrary, it was
quick to recognize and utilize that instinct. It had
long appealed to the dramatic instinct in its wor-



THE FORERUNNERS OF SHAKESPEARE 7

shippers ; for the Mass is a dramatization of certain
fundamental ideas generally held throughout Chris-
tendom for many centuries. From the sixth century
the Mass was the supreme act of worship through-
out Western Europe. " In the wide dimensions
which in course of time the Mass assumed," says
Hagenbach, " there lies a grand, we are almost
inclined to say an artistic, idea. A dramatic pro-
gression is perceptible in all the symbolic processes,
from the appearance of the celebrant priest at the
altar and the confession of sins, to the Kyrie Elei-
son, and from this to the grand doxology, after which
the priest turns with the Dominus vobiscum to the
congregation, calling upon it to pray. Next, we
listen to the reading of the Epistle and the Gospel.
Between the two actions or acts intervenes the
Graduate (a chant), during which the deacon as-
cends the lectorium. With the Halleluia con-
cludes the first act ; and then ensues the Mass in a
more special sense, which begins with the recitation
of the Creed. Then again a Dominus vobiscum
and a prayer, followed by the offertory and, accom-
panied by the further ceremonies, the Consecration.
The change of substance the mystery of myste-
ries takes place amid the adoration of the congre-
gation and the prayer for the quick and the dead ;
then, after the touching chant of the Agnus Dei,
ensues the Communion itself, which is succeeded
by prayer and thanksgiving, the salutation of peace,
and the benediction."



8



WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE



In the impressive and beautiful liturgy of the
Mass the dramatization of the central mystery of
the Christian faith was effected by action, by pan-




A MYSTERY FLAY IN YORK CATHEDRAL.

tomime, and by music. There was no purpose to
be dramatic; there was a natural evolution of the
instinct to set forth a truth too great and mysterious
to be contained in words by symbols, which are not



THE FORERUNNERS OF SHAKESPEARE 9

only more inclusive than words but which satisfy
the imagination, and by action.

The Church did not stop with a dramatic pres-
entation of the sublimest of dramatic episodes, the
vicarious death of Christ ; it went further and set
forth the fact and the truth of certain striking and
significant scenes in the New Testament. As
early as the fifth century these scenes were repro-
duced in the churches in living pictures, with
music. In this manner the people not only heard
the story of the Adoration of the Magi and of the
Marriage of Cana, but saw the story in tableaux.
In course of time the persons in these tableaux
spoke and moved, and then it was but a logical step
to the representation dramatically, by the priests
before the altar, of the striking or significant events
in the life of Christ.

Worshippers were approached through every
avenue of expression : the churches in which they
sat were nobly symbolical in structure ; the win-
dows were ablaze with Scriptural story ; altar-pieces,
statues, carvings, and pictures continually spoke to
them in a language of searching beauty. In some
churches the priests read from rolls upon which, as
they were unfolded toward the congregation, pic-
ture after picture came to view. Christmas, Good
Friday, and Easter services inevitably took on dra-
matic forms, and became beautiful in their reproduc-
tion of the touching and tender scenes in the life of
Christ, and grewsome in their literal picturing of



10 WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

his sufferings and death. The dramatic instinct
had been long at work in the development of wor-
ship ; a play on the Passion, ascribed to Gregory of
Nazianzen, dated back to the fourth century. This
early drama was a succession of monologues, but it
plainly predicted the mystery drama of the twelfth
and thirteenth centuries.

There was nothing forced or artificial in the
growth of this later and more complete drama; a
description of a Durham Good Friday service
makes us see the easy progression toward well-
defined drama : " Within the church of Durham,
upon Good Friday, there was a marvellous solemn
service, in which service time, after the Passion was
sung, two of the eldest monks took a goodly large
crucifix all of gold, of the semblance of our Saviour
Christ, nailed upon the Cross. . . . The service
being ended, the said two monks carried the Cross
to the Sepulchre with great reverence (which Sepul-
chre was set up that morning on the north side of
the choir, nigh unto the High Altar, before the
service time), and then did lay it within the said
Sepulchre with great devotion."

It is easy to follow the dramatic development of
such a theme, and to understand how beautiful and
impressive worship became when the divine tragedy
was not only sung and described, but acted before
the high altar by gorgeously robed priests. Thus
the drama was born a second time at the foot of the
altar.



THE FORERUNNERS OF SHAKESPEARE II

But the time came when the drama parted com-
pany with the liturgy, and, as in its development in
Greece, took on a life of its own. The vernacular
was substituted for Latin ; laymen took parts of
increasing importance ; the place of representation
was changed from the church to the space outside
the church ; the liturgical yielded to the dramatic ;
humour, and even broad farce, were introduced ;
the several streams of dramatic tradition which had
come down from an earlier time were merged in
the fully developed Mystery or Miracle play.

The trade guilds had become centres of organ-
ized enterprise in the towns, and the presentation of
plays, in which popular religious and social interest
was now concentrated, fell into their hands. Cities
like York, Chester, and Coventry fostered the grow-
ing art with enthusiasm and generosity. By the
beginning of the fifteenth century the presentation



Online LibraryHamilton Wright MabieWilliam Shakespeare ; poet, dramatist, and man → online text (page 1 of 24)