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CHRONICLE HISTORY OF SHAKESPEARE ***




Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Eleni Christofaki and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
(This file was produced from images generously made
available by The Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries)









Transcriber's Note.

A list of the changes made can be found at the end of the book.
Formatting and special characters are indicated as follows:

_italic_
_{subscript}
^{superscript}
[=i] i with macron
[)i] i with inverted breve




WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

_PLAYER, POET, AND PLAYMAKER_




[Illustration]




[Illustration: W. Heydemann, Sc.

EDWARD ALLEYN.]




A CHRONICLE HISTORY

OF THE

LIFE AND WORK

OF

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

_PLAYER, POET, AND PLAYMAKER_


BY

FREDERICK GARD FLEAY


With Two Etched Illustrations.


LONDON
JOHN C. NIMMO
14, KING WILLIAM STREET, STRAND, W.C.
1886

[_All rights reserved_]




Dedication.


TO

THE SHAKESPEARE OF OUR DAYS,

_ROBERT BROWNING_,

A PERMITTED TRIBUTE

FROM

HIS EVER-DEVOTED LIEGEMAN,

FREDERICK GARD FLEAY.


To him, whose craft, so subtly terse,
(While lesser minds, for music's sake,
From single thoughts whole cantos make),
Includes a poem in a verse; -

To him, whose penetrative art,
With spheric knowledge only his,
Dissects by keen analysis
The wiliest secrets of the heart; -

To him, who rounds us perfect wholes,
Where wisdom, wit, and love combine;
Chief praise be this: - he wrote no line
That could cause pain in childlike souls.




CONTENTS.


PAGE
INTRODUCTION 1

SECTION I.
THE PUBLIC CAREER OF SHAKESPEARE 7

SECTION II.
THE PERSONAL CONNECTIONS OF SHAKESPEARE WITH OTHER POETS 73

SECTION III.
ANNALS ON WHICH THE PRECEDING SECTIONS ARE FOUNDED 83

SECTION IV.
THE CHRONOLOGICAL SUCCESSION OF SHAKESPEARE'S PLAYS 175

SECTION V.
ON THE MARLOWE GROUP OF PLAYS 255

SECTION VI.
ON THE PLAYS BY OTHER AUTHORS ACTED BY SHAKESPEARE'S COMPANY 284

SECTION VII.
EARLY ENGLISH PLAYS IN GERMANY 307

APPENDIX 319
TABLES 324
I. QUARTO EDITIONS OF SHAKESPEARE'S PLAYS 324
II. QUARTO EDITIONS OF OTHER PLAYS PERFORMED BY SHAKESPEARE'S COMPANY
326
III. NUMBER OF PERFORMANCES AT COURT, 1584-1616 327
IV. ENTRIES OF PLAYS IN THE STATIONERS' REGISTERS, 1584-1640 328
V. TRANSFERS OF COPYRIGHT IN PLAYS, 1584-1640 350
SUPPLEMENTARY TABLE OF MOSELEY'S ENTRIES IN 1653 AND 1660, AND
WARBURTON'S LIST 358
INDEX 361
NOTE ON ETCHINGS 364




[Illustration: W. Heydemann, Sc.

SHAKESPEARE'S FONT.]




INTRODUCTION.


IT is due to the reader of a new work on a subject already so often
handled as the Life of Shakespeare to tell him at the outset what he
may expect to find therein, and to state the reasons for which I have
thought it worth while to devote nearly ten years to its production.
Previous investigators have with industrious minuteness already
ascertained for us every detail that can reasonably be expected of
Shakespeare's private life. With laborious research they have raked
together the records of petty debts, of parish assessments, of
scandalous traditions, of idle gossip; and they have shown beyond
doubt that Shakespeare was born at Stratford-on-Avon, was married, had
three children, left his home, made money as an actor and play-maker
in London, returned to his native town, invested his savings there,
and died. I do not think that when stript of verbiage, and what the
slang of the day calls padding, much more than this can be claimed
as the result of the voluminous writings on this side of his career.
For one I am thankful that things are so; I have little sympathy with
the modern inquisitiveness that peeps over the garden wall to see in
what array the great man smokes his pipe, and chronicles the shape and
colour of his head-covering. But on the public side of Shakespeare's
career little has been adequately ascertained; and with this we are
deeply concerned. Not for a mere personal interest, but in its bearings
on the history of English literature, we ought to ascertain so far as
is possible what companies of actors Shakespeare belonged to, at what
theatres they acted, in what plays besides his own he was a performer,
what authors this brought him into personal contact with, what
influence he exerted on or received from them, what relations, friendly
or unfriendly, they had with rival companies, and finally, in what
order his own works were produced, and what if any share other hands
had in their production. All these matters have been treated carelessly
and inaccurately by biographers of the peeping school; and in the last
of these we are gravely referred for the chronology of Shakespeare's
plays to a schoolboy compilation the author of which is so ignorant
as to speak of _Lust's Dominion_ as a play of _Jonson's_, the _News
from Hell_ as a _play_ of Dekker's, and Achilles as Laertes' son. This
marvel of inefficiency we are told is the best work on the subject;
and this while Malone and Drake are accessible to any student. In the
present treatise this hitherto neglected side of Shakespeare's career
has been chiefly dwelt on. The facts of his private life are also
given; but not the documents on which they are founded, these having
been excellently well collected and arranged in the recent _Outlines
of the Life of Shakespeare_, by J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps, F.R.S.,
F.S.A., Hon. M.R.S.L., Hon. M.R.I.A. This book is a treasure-house
of documents, and it is greatly to be regretted that they are not
published by themselves, apart from hypotheses founded on idle rumour
or fallacious mis-reasoning. I do not know any work so full of fanciful
theories and "_ignes fatui_" likely to entice "a deluded traveller
out of the beaten path into strange quagmires."[1] There is much else
besides documents not given in the present treatise; discussions as
to who might have been Shakespeare's schoolmaster, whether he was
apprenticed to a butcher, whether he stole a deer out of a non-existent
park, whether he held horses at the theatre door or "was employed in
any other equine capacity," whether he went to Denmark or to Venice,
and whether Lord Bacon wrote his plays for him. On all these points I
must refer to earlier and less sceptical treatises. What the reader
will find here is - (1.) A continuous narrative in which the statements
are mostly taken for granted in accordance with my own view of the
evidence accessible to us; (2.) Annals or chronological arrangement of
the same facts, with discussion of their mutual interrelations; (3.)
Discussion of the evidence on which the chronological succession of
Shakespeare's plays is based; (4.) Similar discussions for plays in
which he was not main author but only "coadjutor, novice, journeyman,
tutor," or even merely one of the possible actors; (5.) A few remarks
on the German versions of his plays acted on the Continent; and (6.)
Tables of quarto editions of his plays, &c., with a list of all plays
entered on the Stationers' Registers from the first opening of theatres
to their closing in 1640-42. This last item may seem to be somewhat
beyond the scope of this book, but it is greatly needed, and it is
better that so difficult a task should be performed by one acquainted
with dramatic literature than by some scissors-and-paste compiler who
cannot distinguish a play from a prose tract. As to the preparation
for the whole work it has been to me a labour of love, not, I trust,
altogether lost. I have read and re-read for it every play accessible
to me that dates earlier than 1640, have compiled annals for every
known writer of that period and discussions of the dates of his plays,
and have compared the results and corrected and re-corrected until
a consistent whole has been obtained. Of this whole only the part
relating to Shakespeare is here issued. I have to thank the editors
of _Anglia Englische Studien_ and _Shakespeariana_ for enabling me to
print some portions relating to other authors, which will, however,
require some minor corrections. I have also to thank Dr. Furnivall and
Mr. Swinburne for some wholesome criticism upon my earlier work; Dr.
Ingleby, Miss Lee, Mr. Boyle, Mr. A. H. Bullen, and especially Dr. H.
H. Furness, for kindly sympathy and copies of their own writings, some
of which might otherwise have escaped my notice; and above all Mr.
P. A. Daniel, for ever-ready help when asked for, and for judicious
strictures on received hypotheses or points debatable. The main
regret for the earnest student is that so many of these still exist;
as any attempt to give a biography of Shakespeare the form which is
æsthetically its due must fail so long as the true order of the facts
on which it rests is still esteemed matter of argument. If the reader
would wish to judge before proceeding further of the quality of such
argument in the present work I would refer him to the discussion on
_Mucedorus_ or that on _Henry VI._ in subsequent Sections.

One other point requires notice, if not apology. The plan followed
in this volume requires much repetition in order that the separate
arguments as to the chronological succession of the plays, and as to
the order of events in Shakespeare's life, should be presented in
intelligible sequence. This is an evil only to be avoided either by
mixing up the two, as is usually done, or by numerous cross-references.
Either of these methods leads to greater evils, both by interrupting
the logical connection of each series (for unfortunately the evidences
are mostly independent of each other), and, which is still more
important, by obliterating the mutual support given to the arguments
in the twofold lines of evidence by their leading in each division
to compatible results. The inconvenience of these repetitions has
therefore been submitted to.


FOOTNOTES:

[1]

"These phrases to their owner I resign,
For God's sake, reader, take them not for mine."




LIFE OF SHAKESPEARE.


SECTION I.

THE PUBLIC CAREER OF SHAKESPEARE.


ON or about Saturday 22d April 1564, William Shakespeare, son of John
Shakespeare, glover and dealer in wool, and his wife Mary, _née_ Arden,
was born in Henley Street, Stratford-on-Avon, and was baptized on the
26th. Nothing whatever is known of his early life, and the few meagre
details ascertained as to the condition of his family will be found
in a subsequent division of this work. Tradition and imagination have
supplied untrustworthy materials, with which his biographers have
endeavoured to fill up the gap in our information; but it is not until
28th November 1582 that we find any further reliable fact established
concerning him. On that day his marriage bond is dated, he being in his
nineteenth year, and his bride, Anne Hathaway, in her twenty-sixth.
Their first child, Susanna, was baptized 26th May 1583. To account
for this young lady's premature arrival a pre-contract is assumed,
but not proved, by recent writers. On 2d February 1585 their twin
children, Hamnet and Judith, were baptized; and in 1587, in the spring,
Shakespeare gave his assent to a proposed settlement of a mortgage on
his mother's Asbies estate. For ten years after there is no vestige of
any communication with his family. It is at this point that his public
life begins.

In 1587 Leicester's players visited Stratford for the first time. The
company, under the same name, that had performed there in 1576 had as
well as Warwick's been dissolved in 1583, in order that the Queen's
men might be selected from them. In 1586, during the prevalence of
the plague in London, this more recent company had been travelling on
the Continent, and on their return to England made a provincial tour.
Shakespeare probably joined them during or immediately after their
visit to Stratford, and during their travels received his earliest
instruction in comic acting from Kempe and Pope, who soon after became
noted performers; Bryan also belonged to the company at this date.
They probably acted mere interludes, not regular five-act plays. On
4th September 1588 the Earl of Leicester died; and his players soon
after found a new patron in Lord Strange. They then settled in London,
and acted at the Cross Keys in Bishopsgate Street. The head of the
company, in its altered constitution, was "Famous Ned Allen," who on 3d
January 1588-9 bought up for £37, 10s. Richard Jones' share of "playing
apparels, play-books, instruments, &c.," in order to set up his new
company. These properties had belonged to Worcester's men under Robert
Brown, and were no longer needed by him, as he and his players were
about to visit the Continent.

It was in this way that Shakespeare came to London as a poor strolling
player, but nevertheless his position was not without its advantages;
he was associated already with the most noted comedians of the time,
Kempe and Pope; and in Alleyn he had the advantage of studying the
method of the greatest tragic actor that had yet trod the English
stage. But he did not remain content with merely acting; he now
commenced as author. In order to ascertain under what conditions,
it will be necessary to briefly state what was the position of the
companies and authors in London in 1589.

At that date there were two theatres in London: the better of the
two, the Theater, was occupied by the Queen's men, for whom Greene
was the principal play-writer. Marlowe, Kyd, and R. Wilson had
also contributed plays to their _repertoire_, but just at this time
left them and joined Pembroke's, which, like Leicester's, had been
a strolling company, but were now settling in London. On the other
hand, Peele and Lodge, who had previously written for the Admiral's
company, acting at the other theatre, the Curtain, had also joined,
and still remained with, the Queen's. Nearly all these writers, if
not quite all, were actors as well as authors. Greene, the Johannes
Factotum of the Queen's men, had evidently expected to establish a
monopoly of play-acting in their favour, and was indignant at the
arrival of vagrant troops of Thespians from the country, just when he
had practically succeeded in crippling the rival company in London, by
enlisting some of their best authors in the service of his own. Hence
on 23d August 1589 his publication of _Menaphon_, with Nash's address,
containing a virulent attack on Kyd and Marlowe, then writing for
Pembroke's men, together with a glorification of Peele, then writing
in conjunction with Greene. The absence of any allusion in this tract
to Shakespeare or Lord Strange's company conclusively proves that
they were not as yet dangerous rivals to the Queen's. Pembroke's men
were, and there is indirect evidence that they had from their first
settlement in London obtained possession of the second theatre, the
Curtain. This evidence is connected with the first direct mention which
is extant of Shakespeare's company. For in this same year, 1589, the
Martinist controversy had been raging in London; Lyly, Nash, Greene,
Monday, and Cooper were the anti-Martinist champions; the Martinists
had been ridiculed on the stage in April, probably by Greene at the
Theater, possibly by the Paul's children in some play of Lyly's, or
by the Earl of Oxford's boys in one of Monday's. The authorities did
not interfere. But in November certain players "within the city,"
to wit, Lord Strange's and the Admiral's, were silenced for "abuses
or indecent reflexions" (Strype). A comparison of the _worthies_ in
_Love's Labour's Lost_ with the anti-Martinist writers, of the Euphuist
Armado with Lyly, the boy-satirist Mote with Nash, the curate with the
Reverend Robert Greene, the schoolmaster-pedant with the pedagogue
Cooper, and Antony Dull with Antony Monday, will I think confirm the
theory developed by me in a separate essay, that this was the play
suppressed on this occasion. It is characteristic of the independence
of action shown by Shakespeare's company throughout the reign of
Elizabeth that they refused to obey the injunction, and went and
played at the Cross-Keys that same afternoon, while the subservient
Admiral's company dutifully submitted. I do not suppose, however,
that the play as then performed was in all parts from the hand of
Shakespeare. It is extremely unlikely that he should have commenced his
career by independent writing, and there is not a play of his that can
be referred even on the rashest conjecture to a date anterior to 1594,
which does not bear the plainest internal evidence to its having been
refashioned at a later time. In all probability he began to compose
plays, as we know so many of his contemporaries did, as an assistant
to some experienced dramatist. It may seem idle, in the absence of any
positive evidence, to guess who was his original tutor in composition,
and yet, as the careers of Peele, Greene, and Marlowe conclusively show
that none of them were in 1589 connected with Lord Strange's company,
I venture to suggest that it was Robert Wilson. That dramatist is not
heard of in connection with Pembroke's or any other company after
August 1589, and he certainly continued to write for the stage. That
Shakespeare was greatly influenced by him and Peele is evident from
the metrical character of Shakespeare's earliest work, which abounds
in heroic rhyme like Peele's in tragedy, and in doggerel and stanza
like Wilson's in comedy. It is not till the Historic plays that the
influence of Marlowe's blank verse is fully perceptible, and in the
earliest of these, _Richard II._, rhyme is still dominant. Wilson was
in this view a better teacher for the inexperienced Shakespeare than
a greater man. Marlowe, for instance, might have biassed him on the
tragic side, and deferred or prevented his comedy from its earlier
pastoral development. _Love's Labour's Won_ must have been written at
about the same time as _Love's Labour's Lost_, and before the end of
1590 _The Comedy of Errors_ probably appeared in its original form. In
this same year was produced a play in which, although I cannot detect
Shakespeare's hand as coadjutor with its probable author, R. Wilson,
he most likely appeared as an actor - _Fair Em_; and that this comedy
contained a satirical attack on Greene is evident from the offence he
took at it, as shown in his virulent address prefixed to his _Farewell
to Folly_. Up to this date Greene's chief attacks had been directed
against Kyd in _Menaphon_ and in _Never too late_, but as yet there has
been found no allusion to Shakespeare in his writings anterior to 1592.
Yet Shakespeare must have been known to him as at least part author of
the plays acted by Lord Strange's men in 1589 and 1590. Of _Romeo and
Juliet_, originally acted in 1591, we also possess a version anterior
to Shakespeare's final remodelling, which palpably contains scenes not
written by him. These scenes, however, seem due to a finer artist than
Kyd, and there is independent evidence that George Peele had by 1591
also become a playwright for Lord Strange's men. One of the plays acted
by them in this year was probably Peele's _Edward I._, here mentioned
on account of a curious allusion which would seem to fix the character
performed by Shakespeare. In scene 3 Elinor says to Baliol -

"_Shake_ [thou] thy _spear_ in honour of _his name_
Under whose royalty thou wear'st the same."

Shakespeare is known to have acted "kingly parts," and this of Edward
I. was probably one of them. To this same year may probably be assigned
the original production of _The Two Gentlemen of Verona_.

The Court festivities of Christmas 1591-2 mark an important epoch
in the fortunes of Lord Strange's company, and consequently of
Shakespeare, now rapidly coming to the front as their chief writer.
During the period we have been considering, 1587-1591, the Queen's and
the Admiral's were the only men's companies who performed at Court, but
at Christmas 1591-2 the Admiral's did not act at all, and the Queen's,
after one performance, gave place to Lord Strange's, and until the
death of that nobleman in 1594, his players enjoyed almost a monopoly
of Court performances. One presentation by the Earl of Hertford's men,
of whom nothing else is recorded, one by the Earl of Sussex', and two
by the Earl of Pembroke's, are all that can be balanced with six by
Lord Strange's in 1591-2, and three in 1592-3. This pre-eminence at
Court was retained by the company under all its changes of constitution
far beyond Shakespeare's time, until the closing of the theatres in
1642. Possibly the influence of Lord Southampton, who had come to
town and entered at Gray's Inn in 1590, and was stepson to Sir Thomas
Heneage, the treasurer, may have had something to do with this. He does
not yet, however, appear to have come into direct communication with
Shakespeare.

Immediately after this first appearance at Court, Alleyn arranged with
Henslow, his father-in-law, to give his company a local habitation in
a permanent theatre. This was of no small importance to them; they had
hitherto had to play in the inn-yard at the Cross-Keys. Henslow's new
theatre was the Rose on the Bankside, which opened in February 1591-2.
The singular fact that every old play (_i.e._, every play that had been
previously performed) there acted in this season had been with one
possible exception derived from the Queen's players, shows that the
hitherto most successful company were reduced to sell their copies, and
were probably on the verge of bankruptcy. Among these we find Greene's
_Orlando_ and _Friar Bacon_, Greene and Lodge's _Looking-glass for
London_, Marlowe's _Jew of Malta_, and Kyd's two plays of _Jeronymo_.
The only play traceable to another company is Peele's _Battle of
Alcazar_, called by Henslow _Mulomorco_. In fact, the Queen's company
were now practically without a play-writer. Of their formerly numerous
staff Marlowe was writing for Pembroke's men, Kyd and Peele for Lord
Strange's, Lodge was abroad, Wilson had left them, and Greene had
also quitted them for the Earl of Sussex'. Besides the plays above
enumerated, Lord Strange's players acted a dozen others of which only
the titles are known, and produced as new plays the following: - On
March 3, _Henry VI._ (a re-fashioning by Shakespeare of an old Queen's
play, into which he introduced the Talbot scenes, celebrated by Nash,
which drew such crowded audiences); on April 11, _Titus and Vespasian_
(a version of the Andronicus story extant in a German translation, and
probably written by Kyd); on April 28, the second part of _Tamburlane_
(not extant); on June 10, _A Merry Knack to Know a Knave_ (probably
by Peele and Wilson); and after an interval, during which the theatres
were closed on account of the plague, on 5th January 1592-3, _The
Jealous Comedy_ (probably _The Merry Wives of Windsor_); and finally,
January 30, _The Guise_ (Marlowe's _Massacre of Paris_).

I have brought together this enumeration of the new plays of Strange's
men that the reader may better appreciate the often quoted but sadly
misunderstood address by Greene to his fellow-dramatists in his
_Groatsworth of Wit_, not published till September after its author's


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Online LibraryFrederick Gard FleayA Chronicle History of the Life and Work of William Shakespeare → online text (page 1 of 22)