The Project Gutenberg EBook of Shakespeare's Lost Years in London,
1586-1592, by Arthur Acheson

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Title: Shakespeare's Lost Years in London, 1586-1592

Author: Arthur Acheson

Release Date: February 3, 2008 [EBook #24500]

Language: English

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Giving new light on the pre-Sonnet period; showing the inception of relations between Shakespeare and the Earl of Southampton and displaying








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"The purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was, and is, to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure."

Hamlet, Act III. Scene ii.[Pg vii]








The most interesting and important fifteen years in the records of English dramatic literature are undoubtedly those between 1588 and 1603, within which limit all of Shakespeare's poems and the majority of his plays were written; yet no exhaustive English history, intelligently co-ordinating the social, literary, and political life of this period, has ever been written.

Froude, the keynote of whose historical work is contained in his assertion that "the Reformation was the root and source of the expansive force which has spread the Anglo-Saxon race over the globe," recognising a logical and dramatic climax for his argument in the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, ends his history in that year; while Gardiner, whose historical interest was as much absorbed by the Puritan Revolution as was Froude's by the Reformation, finds a fitting beginning for his subject in the accession of James I. in 1603. Thus an historical hiatus is left which has never been exhaustively examined. To the[Pg 2] resulting lack of a clearly defined historical background for those years on the part of Shakespearean critics and compilers—who are not as a rule also students of original sources of history—may be imputed much of the haziness which still exists regarding Shakespeare's relations to, and the manner in which his work may have been influenced by, the literary, social, and political life of this period.

The defeat of the Armada ended a long period of threatened danger for England, and the following fifteen years of Elizabeth's reign were passed in comparative security. The social life of London and the Court now took on, by comparison with the troubled past, an almost Augustan phase. During these years poetry and the drama flourished in England as they never did before, or since, in any such space of time. Within a few years of the beginning of this time Shakespeare became the principal writer for, and later on a sharer in, a company of players which, at about the same time, was chosen as the favourite Court company; a position which—under various titles—it continued to hold thereafterwards for over forty years.

When we compare the plays of Shakespeare with those of his contemporaries and immediate successors, it becomes evident that this dominant position was maintained by his company largely through the superior merit of his work while he lived, and by the prestige he had attained for it after he had passed away.

In the time of Elizabeth the stage was recognised as one of the principal vehicles for the reflection of opinion concerning matters of public interest; the players being, in Shakespeare's phrase, "the abstract and brief chronicles of the time." The fact that laws were passed and Orders in Council issued prohibiting the representation of matters[Pg 3] of Church or State upon the stage, clearly implies the prevalence of such representations. It is altogether unlikely that the most popular dramatist of the day should, in this phase of his art, have remained an exception to the rule.

I hold it to have been impossible that such an ardent Englishman as Shakespeare, one also so deeply interested in human motive, character, and action, should have lived during these fifteen years in the heart of English literary and political life,—coming, through his professional interests, frequently and closely in contact with certain of its central figures,—and should during this interval have written twenty original plays, three long poems, and over one hundred and fifty sonnets, without leaving in this work decipherable reflections of the characters and movements of his time. That these conscious, or unconscious, reflections have not long ago been recognised and interpreted I impute to the lack of an intimate knowledge of contemporary history on the part of the majority of his critics and biographers.

Competent text critics, in their efforts to establish the chronological order of the dramas, have long since displayed the facts that Shakespeare's earlier original plays were largely comedies of a joyous nature, and that, as the years pass, his work becomes more serious and philosophical; in time developing into the pessimistic bitterness of Lear and Timon of Athens, but softening and lightening, at the end of his career, in the gravely reflective but kindly mood of Cymbeline, A Winter's Tale, and The Tempest; yet no serious attempt has ever been made to trace and demonstrate in the personal contact of the writer with concurrent life the underlying spiritual causes of these very palpable changes in[Pg 4] his expression of it. Until this is done no adequate life of Shakespeare can be written.[1]

Now, in order to be enabled to find in Shakespeare's personal observation and experience the well-springs of the plainly developing and deepening reflections of human life in action, so evident in his dramas when studied chronologically, a sound knowledge of contemporary social, literary, and political history is the first essential; possessing this, the serious student will soon realise in the likenesses between Shakespeare's dramatic expression, and his concurrent possibilities of observation and experience, that he portrayed life as he himself saw and felt it, and that he used the old and hackneyed stories and chronicles which he selected for his plots, not because he lacked the power of dramatic construction, but in order to hide the underlying purposes of his plays from the public censor. While no intelligent student needs any other warrant for this belief than the plays themselves, when chronologically co-ordinated with even an elementary knowledge of the history of the period, we have Shakespeare's own assertion that this was the actual method and spirit of his work. When he tells us in Hamlet that "the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was, and is, to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure," he is not attempting to describe the dramatic methods of ancient Denmark, but is definitely expounding[Pg 5] the functions of dramatic exposition as they prevailed in actual use in his own day, and as he himself had then exercised them for over ten years.

Any attempt to visualise Shakespeare in his contemporary environment, and spiritually to link his work year by year with the life of his time, would be impossible unless there can first be attained a far clearer idea than now exists of his theatrical connections, the inception of his dramatic work, and of the literary and social affiliations he formed and antagonisms he aroused, during his first six or eight years in London. The purpose of this book is—by casting new light upon this period of Shakespeare's career—to show the inception and development of conditions and influences which continued from that time forward materially to affect his and his friends' lives, and in turn to shape and colour the expression of life in action which he gives us in his works.

Though there is nothing known definitely concerning Shakespeare between 1587—when his name is mentioned in a legal document at Stratford regarding the transfer of property in which he held a contingent interest and which possibly infers his presence in Stratford at that date—and 1592, when Robert Greene alludes to him in his posthumously published A Groatsworth of Wit, it is usually assumed that he left Stratford in 1586 or 1587 with a company of players, or else that he joined a company in London at about that time.

As the Earl of Leicester's company is recorded as having visited Stratford-upon-Avon in 1587,—some time before 14th June,—and as James Burbage, the father of Richard Burbage, with whom we find Shakespeare closely affiliated in later years, was manager of the Earl of Leicester's company as late as 1575,—the year before he built the Theatre at[Pg 6] Shoreditch,—it is generally assumed that he was still manager of this company in 1586-87, and that Shakespeare became connected with him by joining Leicester's company at this time. This assumption is, however, somewhat involved by another, nebulously held by some critics, i.e., that James Burbage severed his connection with Leicester's company in 1583, and joined the Queen's company, and that the latter company played under his management at the Theatre in Shoreditch for several years afterwards. It is further involved by the equally erroneous assumption that Burbage managed the Curtain along with the Theatre between 1585 and 1592.[2]

Certain biographical compilers also assert that Shakespeare, having joined the Earl of Leicester's company, continued to be connected with it under its supposed varying titles until the end of his London career, and that he was never associated with any other company. They assume that Leicester's company merged with Lord Strange's company of acrobats in 1589, the combination becoming known as Lord Strange's players; and that when this company left James Burbage and the Theatre, in 1592, for Philip Henslowe and the Rose Theatre, that Shakespeare accompanied them and worked for Henslowe both as a writer and an actor. They suppose that Edward Alleyn became the manager of a combination of the Admiral's company and Strange's men for a "short period," but that the companies "soon parted," "Strange's men continuing with Henslowe for a prolonged period."[3] It is also asserted that "the Rose Theatre was the first scene of Shakespeare's successes alike as an actor and a dramatist," and that he[Pg 7] "helped in the authorship of The First Part of Henry VI., with which Lord Strange's company scored a triumphant success in 1592."[4]

These assumptions, which were advanced tentatively by former scholars and merely as working hypotheses, have now, by repetition and the dogmatic dicta of biographical compilers, come to be accepted by the uncritical as ascertained facts.

While it is now generally accepted that Greene's "Shake-scene" alludes to Shakespeare, and that his parody of a line from The True Tragedie:

"O Tyger's heart wrapt in a Player's hide"

denotes some connection of Shakespeare's with either The True Tragedie of the Duke of York, or with The Third Part of Henry VI. before September 1592, when Greene died, and while the title-page of the first issue of The True Tragedie of the Duke of York informs us that this play was acted by the Earl of Pembroke's company, and no mention of the play appears in the records of Henslowe, under whose financial management Shakespeare is supposed to have been working with Strange's company in 1592, nothing has ever been done to elucidate Shakespeare's evident connection with this play or with the Earl of Pembroke's company at this period.

In the same year—1592—Nashe refers to the performance by Lord Strange's company under Henslowe of The First Part of Henry VI., and praises the work of the dramatist who had recently incorporated the Talbot scenes, which are plainly the work of a different hand from the bulk of the remainder of the play. This also is generally accepted as a[Pg 8] reference to Shakespeare and as indicating his connection with Henslowe as a writer for the stage. It is erroneously inferred from this supposed evidence, and from the fact that Richard Burbage was with Strange's company in 1592, that Shakespeare also acted with and wrote for this company under Henslowe.

No explanation has ever been given for the palpable fact that not one of the plays written by Shakespeare—the composition of which all competent text critics impute to the years 1591 to 1594—is mentioned in Henslowe's Diary as having been presented upon his boards. It is generally agreed that The Comedy of Errors, King John, Richard II., Love's Labour's Lost, Love's Labour's Won, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Richard III., and Midsummer Night's Dream, were all produced before the end of 1594, yet there is no record nor mention of any one of these plays in Henslowe's Diary, which gives a very full list of the performances at the Rose and the plays presented between 1592 and 1594.

During the same years in which records of Shakespeare are lacking[5] they are also very limited regarding Edward Alleyn, whose reputation as an actor and whose leadership in his profession were won during these years—1586-92. Nothing is at present known concerning him between 1584, when he is mentioned in the Leicester records as a member of the Earl of Worcester's company, and 3rd January 1589, when he bought Richard Jones' share of theatrical properties, owned conjointly by Edward Alleyn, John Alleyn, Robert Browne, and Richard Jones. As Edward Alleyn, Robert Browne, and Richard Jones were all members of Worcester's company in 1584, it is erroneously assumed that they were[Pg 9] still Worcester's men in 1589, and that it was Jones' share in the Worcester properties that Alleyn bought at this time to take with him to the Admiral's company, which he is consequently supposed to have joined some time between 1589 and 1592. The next record we have of Alleyn is his marriage to Joan Woodward, Henslowe's stepdaughter, in October 1592. In the following May we find him managing Lord Strange's company in the provinces, though styling himself a Lord Admiral's man. Where, then, was Edward Alleyn between 1585 and 1589; where between 1589 and 1593; and when did he become a Lord Admiral's man?

Worcester's company, with which Alleyn was connected in 1584, is last mentioned in the records as appearing at Barnstaple in 1585;[6] it then disappears from view for five years, and is next mentioned in the provincial records as appearing at Coventry in 1590.[7] Between 1590 and 1603 it is mentioned regularly in the provincial records. Where was Worcester's company between 1585 and 1590?

I propose to demonstrate by new evidence and analysis that James Burbage ceased to be an active member of Leicester's company soon after he took on the responsibilities of the management of the Theatre; but continued his theatrical employees under Leicester's protection as Lord Leicester's musicians until 1582, when he began to work under the licence of Lord Hunsdon, his company being composed of his own employees and largely of musicians, to act as an adjunct to the companies to whom, from time to time, he let the use of the Theatre during the absence in the provinces of the companies, such as Leicester's and the[Pg 10] Admiral's, with which I shall give evidence he held more permanent affiliations, and, seeing that he was owner and manager of the Theatre, that these affiliations were somewhat similar to those maintained by Henslowe—the owner of the Rose Theatre—with Lord Strange's company between 1592 and 1594, and with the Lord Admiral's, and other companies, at the several theatres he controlled in later years. I shall indicate that from the time Burbage built the Theatre in 1576 until early in 1585, he maintained such a connection with Leicester's company, and shall show that the disruption of this company in 1585 by the departure of seven of their principal members for the Continent—where they remained until July 1587—necessitated a similar connection with some other good company to take its place, and that he now secured Edward Alleyn and his fellows, who, ceasing to be Worcester's men at this time, and securing the licence of the Lord Admiral, affiliated themselves with the remnant of Leicester's men and joined Burbage and Lord Hunsdon's men at the Theatre. In this year the latter became the Lord Chamberlain's men through the elevation of Lord Hunsdon to that office. These companies, while retaining individual licences, continued to play when in London as one company until the end of 1588, or beginning of 1589, when another reorganisation took place, a number of the old men being eliminated and new blood being taken in from the restored Leicester company and Lord Strange's company of youthful acrobats, who had now become men. I shall give evidence that this organisation continued to work as one company for the next three years, though the Admiral's men still retained their own licence, and consequently that the company as a whole is at times mentioned in both Court and provincial records under one title and at[Pg 11] times under the other. The principal reason that a number of companies, combining at a London theatre as one company, preserved their several licences was no doubt the greater protection afforded them by the patronage of several powerful noblemen against the hostility of puritanically inclined municipal authorities. Recorder Fleetwood, who was noted as an enemy of the players, in his weekly reports on civic affairs to Lord Burghley, frequently complains of the stoppage by Court influence of his prosecutions of alleged offenders. Upon one occasion he writes: "When the Court is farthest from London then is the best justice done in England."

Some time between the beginning of 1591 and the end of that year, James Burbage's disfavour with certain of the authorities, as well as legal and financial difficulties in which he became involved, made it necessary for the combined companies, which in December 1591 had attained to the position of the favourite Court company, to seek more convenient quarters and stronger financial backing than Burbage and the Theatre afforded. Under its various titles Strange's company continued to be the leading Court company for the next forty years. I shall indicate the probability that Strange's company in supplanting the Queen's company at Court at this time also supplanted it at the Rose Theatre, which was built by Henslowe in 1587 as a theatre.[8] Henslowe repaired and reconstructed it late in 1591 and early in 1592 for the uses of Strange's men. I will show the unlikelihood that this was Henslowe's first venture in theatrical affairs, and the probability that the Queen's players, under his financial management, occupied the Rose[Pg 12] Theatre from the time it was built in 1587 until they were superseded by Strange's men in 1591.

I shall also give evidence that Shakespeare did not accompany Strange's men to Henslowe and the Rose, but that he remained with Burbage, who backed him in the formation of Pembroke's company, and that he and Marlowe wrote for this company until Marlowe was killed in 1593, and that Shakespeare was probably its sole provider of plays from the time of Marlowe's death until the company disrupted early in 1594. I shall show further that during the time Shakespeare and Marlowe wrote for Pembroke's company, and for some years later, George Peele revised old and wrote new plays for Henslowe and Alleyn, and that it was he that revised Henry VI. and introduced the Talbot scene in 1592, and consequently that it was to Peele, and not to Shakespeare, that Nashe's praises were given at this time. Evidence shall be given to show that Nashe was antagonistic to Shakespeare and co-operated with Greene against him at this period.

It shall be made clear that Titus Andronicus, which was acted as a new play by Sussex's company under Henslowe on 23rd January 1594, was also written by Peele, or rewritten from Titus and Vespasian, which is now lost, but which—being written for Strange's men in the previous year—we may assume was also Peele's, or else his first revision of a still older play.

Some time before the middle of 1594 a new reorganisation of companies took place, the Admiral's and the Lord Chamberlain's separating and absorbing men from Pembroke's and Sussex's companies, which ceased to exist as active entities at this time, though a portion of Pembroke's men—while working with the Admiral's men between 1594[Pg 13] and 1597—retained their own licence and attempted to operate separately in the latter year, but, failing, returned to Henslowe and became Admiral's men. A few of their members whom Langley, the manager of the Swan Theatre, had taken from them, struggled on as Pembroke's men for a year or two and finally disappeared from the records.

A consideration of the affairs of Lord Strange's men—now the Lord Chamberlain's men—while under Henslowe's financial management between 1592 and 1594, and of Pembroke's company's circumstances during the same period, with their enforced provincial tours owing to the plague in London, will show that these were lean years for both organisations, and for the men composing them; yet in December 1594—as is shown by the Court records of March 1595—Shakespeare appears as a leading sharer in one of the most important theatrical companies in England. I shall advance evidence to show that his position in this powerful company, and its apparent prosperity at this time, were due to financial assistance accorded him in 1594 by his patron, the Earl of Southampton, to whom in this year he dedicated Lucrece, and in the preceding year Venus and Adonis.

If these hypotheses be demonstrated it shall appear that though Shakespeare, as Burbage's employee in the conduct of the Theatre, had theatrical relations with the Earl of Leicester's company that he was not a member of that company, and that if he may be regarded as having become a member of any company in 1586-87, when he came to London, he was a member of the Lord Chamberlain's company,—which was owned by James Burbage,—but as a bonded and hired servant or servitor to James Burbage for a term of years which ended in about 1589; that his work[Pg 14] with Burbage from the time he entered his service was of a general nature, and more of a literary and dramatic than of an histrionic character, though it undoubtedly partook of both; that he worked in conjunction with both Richard Burbage and Edward Alleyn from the time he came to London in 1586-87 until 1591; that neither he nor Burbage were connected with the Queen's company, nor with the Curtain Theatre, during these years, and that the ownership by the Burbage organisation of a number of old Queen's plays resulted from their absorption of Queen's men in 1591, when Pembroke's company was formed, and not from the supposed fact that James Burbage was at any time a member or the manager of the Queen's company; that Robert Greene's attack upon Shakespeare as "the onely Shake-scene," in 1592, was directed at him as the manager of Pembroke's company; that the Rose Theatre was not "the scene of Shakespeare's pronounced success, both as a writer and a dramatist," and that in fact he never was connected with that theatre, nor with Henslowe, either as a writer or an actor; that Nashe's laudation of the Talbot scenes in Henry VI. was complimentary to his friend Peele, and that whatever additions Shakespeare may have made to this play were made after he rejoined the Lord Chamberlain's men in 1594; that he had no hand in the composition of Titus Andronicus, acted by Sussex's company and published in 1594, which is the same as that now generally included in Shakespeare's plays; and finally that his business ability and social and dramatic prestige restored Burbage's waning fortunes and enabled his new organisation to compete successfully with the superior political favour and financial power of Henslowe and Alleyn, and started it upon its prolonged career of Court and public favour.[Pg 15]

As a clear conception of Shakespeare's theatrical affiliations between 1586 and 1594 has not hitherto been realised so a knowledge of his relations with contemporary writers during his entire career still remains nebulous. Greene's attack in 1592 in A Groatsworth of Wit and Chettle's apology are the only things regarding Shakespeare's early relations with other writers that have been generally accepted by critics. Until the publication of Shakespeare and the Rival Poet in 1903, nothing was known of his prolonged enmity with Chapman; while the name of Matthew Roydon was unmentioned in connection with Shakespearean affairs until 1913.[9] The revelations of the present volume regarding the enmity between Florio and Shakespeare, and Shakespeare's dramatic characterisations of Florio, have never been anticipated, though the possibility that they may have come at odds has been apprehended. The Rev. J.H. Halpin suggested in 1856 that the "H.S." attacked by Florio in his Worlde of Wordes in 1590 may have been directed at Shakespeare, but advanced no evidence to support his theory, which has since been relegated by the critics to the limbo of fanciful conjecture. I was not aware of Mr. Halpin's suggestion when I reached my present conclusions.

There has hitherto been no suspicion whatever on the part of critics that anything of the nature of a continuous collusion between the scholars existed against Shakespeare in these early years, and consequently, when at a later period it was manifested in plays presented upon rival stages, it was regarded as a new development and named "The War of the Theatres"; but even this open phase of the antagonism and the respective sides taken by its par[Pg 16]ticipants are still misunderstood. This critical opacity is due largely to the fact that Shakespearean criticism has for many years been regarded as the province of academic specialists in literature who have neglected the social and political history of Shakespeare's day as outside their line of specialisation. It was probably Froude's recognition of this nebulous condition in Shakespearean criticism that deterred him from continuing his history to the end of the reign of Elizabeth, and prevented Gardiner beginning his where Froude's ended. These great historians realised that no adequate history of that remarkable period could be written that did not include a full consideration of Shakespeare and his influence; yet, making no pretensions themselves to Shakespearean scholarship, and finding in extant knowledge no sure foundations whereon to build, they evaded the issue, confining their investigations to the development of those phases of history in which they were more vitally interested.

Froude's intimate knowledge of the characters and atmosphere of Elizabethan social and political life, acquired by years of devoted application to an exhaustive examination of documentary records and the epistolatory correspondence of the period, convinced him that Shakespeare drew his models and his atmosphere from concurrent life. He writes: "We wonder at the grandeur, the moral majesty of some of Shakespeare's characters, so far beyond what the noblest among ourselves can imitate, and at first thought we attribute it to the genius of the poet who has outstripped nature in his creations, but we are misunderstanding the power and the meaning of poetry in attributing creativeness to it in any such sense. Shakespeare created but only as the spirit of nature created around him, working in him as it worked abroad in those among whom he lived. The men whom he draws[Pg 17] were such men as he saw and knew; the words they utter were such as he heard in the ordinary conversations in which he joined.... At a thousand unnamed English firesides he found the living originals for his Prince Hals, his Orlandos, his Antonios, his Portias, his Isabellas. The closer personal acquaintance which we can form with the English of the age of Elizabeth, the more we are satisfied that Shakespeare's great poetry is no more than the rhythmic echo of the life which he depicts."

As this book is intended as a precursor to one shortly to be published dealing with the sonnets and the plays of the Sonnet period, the only plays here critically considered are King John and The Comedy of Errors, which I shall argue are the only plays—now extant—written by Shakespeare before the inception of his intimacy with the Earl of Southampton, which I date, upon good evidence, in the autumn of 1591. In the former we have probably the best example of the manner in which Elizabethan playwrights dramatised contemporary affairs. In this instance Shakespeare worked from an older play which had been composed with the same intention with which he rewrote it, and as the old play had passed the censor and been for years upon the public boards, he was enabled to develop his intention more openly than even he dared to do in later years, when, owing to the influence of Lord Burghley and his son, Sir Robert Cecil, the enforcement of the statutes against the representation of matters of State upon the stage became increasingly stringent.

Though the political phases of Shakespeare's dramas become more veiled as the years pass, I unhesitatingly affirm that there is not a single play composed between the end of 1591 and the conclusion of his dramatic career that does not,[Pg 18] in some manner, intentionally reflect either the social, literary, or political affairs of his day.

In order that the reader may approach a consideration of the rearranged sonnets with a clear perspective, and to keep the Sonnet story uninvolved by subsidiary argument, I now demonstrate not only the beginning of the acquaintance between Shakespeare and the Earl of Southampton—which has not hitherto been known—but also take a forward glance of several years in order definitely to establish the identity of John Florio as Shakespeare's original for Falstaff, Parolles, and Armado. His identity as the original for still other characters will be made apparent as this history develops in the Sonnet period.


[1] Dr. Georg Brandes' William Shakespeare: A Critical Study, is by far the best attempt at an interpretation of Shakespeare's plays upon spiritual lines that has yet been made; but the biographical value of this excellent analysis is involved by the fact that Dr. Brandes, at the time he wrote,—now over thirty years ago,—accepted Thomas Tyler's Pembroke-Fitton theory of the sonnets, and with it the distorted chronology for the plays of the Sonnet period, which it necessarily involves.

[2] A Life of William Shakespeare, by Sir Sidney Lee, 1916, p. 59.

[3] Ibid. 61.

[4] A Life of William Shakespeare, by Sir Sidney Lee, 1916, pp. 61, 55.

[5] "Between 1586 and 1592 we lose all trace of Shakespeare." William Shakespeare: A Critical Study, Georg Brandes, p. 18.

[6] English Dramatic Companies, 1558-1641, vol. i. p. 57. By John Tucker Murray.

[7] Ibid.

[8] It is probable that previous to 1587 the Rose was an inn used for theatrical purposes.

[9] Mistress Davenant, the Dark Lady of Shakespeare's Sonnets.



"What porridge had John Keats?" asks Browning. So may we well inquire of what blood was Shakespeare? What nice conjunction of racial strains produced this unerring judgment, this heaven-scaling imagination, this exquisite sensibility? for, however his manner of life may have developed their expression, these qualities were plainly inherent in the man.

The name Shakespeare has been found to have existed during the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries in various parts of England, and has been most commonly encountered in and about Warwickshire. While it is spelt in many different ways, the commonest form is Shaxper or Shaxpeare, giving the a in the first syllable the same sound as in flax. Wherever Shakespeare families are found, however, they invariably show a very great preponderance of Christian names that are characteristically Norman: Richard, Gilbert, Hugh, William, John, Robert, Anthony, Henry, Thomas, Joan, Mary, Isabella, Ann, Margaret, being met with frequently. It is likely then that the widespread and persistent use of Norman Christian names by Shakespeare families denotes their Norman origin, and that this link with their past was preserved by family custom long after pride of ancestry—which first continued[Pg 20] its use—was forgotten, as in the case of the Irish peasantry of Norman origin in Leinster—within what was formerly known as the Norman Pale—who have long forgotten their origin, but having Norman patronymics still preserve also Norman Christian names.

The etymological origin of Shakespeare's name is yet unsettled: one scholar suggests that it derives from the Anglo-Saxon, Saexberht. This would imply that the Anglo-Saxon prefix saex has by time been transmuted into Shake, and that the suffix, berht has become pear or pere. The instances in which the Anglo-Saxon sae have changed into the English sh are extremely rare. The modern sh in English when derived from Anglo-Saxon is almost invariably sc softened, or when derived from Danish or Norse sh, as, for instance, in the words sceadu shade, sceaft shaft, sceacan shake, sceal shall, scamu shame, skapa shape. I cannot find a single instance in the growth of Anglo-Saxon into English where the original berht has taken on the p sound and become pear or pere. The English for berht as a rule is bert, burt, or bard.

Shakespeare's sanity of judgment and spiritual self-reliance are qualities which we naturally associate with the Norse temperament; his fine sensibility and unfettered imagination strike us as much more characteristically Gallic or Celtic. It seems probable then that in his physical and spiritual composition we have a rare admixture of these related Aryan types. Physically he was not a large man, being, in fact, rather below the middle stature; his hair was strong in texture and dark reddish in colour, while his eyes were brown; his nose was large, and his lips full, but the face relieved of sensuousness by the dominant majesty of the brow. This is not descriptive of an Anglo-Saxon type:[Pg 21] it is much more distinctly French or Norman. It is probable that the blood of the Norman ran full in Shakespeare's veins, and who was the Norman but the racial combination of the Norseman and the Gaul? In this light, then, I suggest that the name Shakespeare seems to be much closer to the Norman-French Jacquespierre than it is to the Anglo-Saxon saexberht. In the gradual transition of Norman-French into English pronunciation, Shakespeare, or as the name was pronounced in Elizabethan days, Shaxper, is exactly the form which the English tongue would have given to the name Jacquespierre. It is significant that Arden, his mother's name, is also of Norman origin; that his grandfather's name Richard, his father's name John, his own name William, and the names of all his brothers and sisters, but one, were Norman. In view of these indications, it is not unreasonable to assume that Norman blood held good proportion in the veins of this greatest of all Englishmen.

Exhaustive research by interested genealogists has failed to trace Shakespeare's forebears further into the past than to his grandfather, Richard Shakespeare, a substantial yeoman of Snitterfield, and this relationship, while generally accepted, is not yet definitely established. There is no doubt, however, that John Shakespeare, butcher, glover, woolstapler, or corndealer, or all of these things combined, of Stratford-upon-Avon, was his father, and that the poet was baptized in the Parish Church of that town upon 26th April, in the year 1564. He was born on, or shortly before, 23rd April in the same year.

Shakespeare's mother was Mary Arden, the youngest of eight daughters—by the first wife—of Robert Arden, a landed gentleman of Wilmcote, related to the Ardens of[Pg 22] Parkhill, at that time one of the leading families of Warwickshire.

On the theory that men of great intellectual capacity inherit their qualities from the distaff side, it might help us to realise Shakespeare better if we know more about his mother: of her personality and character, however, we know absolutely nothing.

The mothers depicted by Shakespeare in his plays are, as a rule, devoted, strong, and noble characters, and are probably in some measure spiritual reflections of the model he knew most intimately. It is improbable that Shakespeare's childhood should not have shown some evidence of the qualities he later displayed, and impossible that such promise should be hidden from a mother's eye.

The wealth of Shakespeare's productiveness in the three years preceding the end of 1594 gives ample evidence that the dark years intervening between his departure from Stratford and the autumn of 1591 had not been idly spent. Such mastery of his art as he displays even at this early period was not attained without an active and interested novitiate in his profession. It is evident that the appellation Johannes factotum, which Greene in 1592 slurringly bestows upon him, had been well earned in the six or seven preceding years of his London life for which we possess no records.

Whatever misgivings their staid and thrifty Stratford neighbours may have had as to the wisdom of the youthful Shakespeare's London adventure, we may well believe that Mary Arden, knowing her son's fibre, felt fair assurance that his success there would come near to matching her desires, and that of the several spurs to his industry and pride of achievement the smile of her approval was not the[Pg 23] least. There is possibly a backward glance to his mother's faith in him in the spirit of Volumnia's hopes for the fame of her son:

"When yet he was but tender-bodied, and the only son of my womb; when youth with comeliness plucked all gaze his way; when for a day of Kings' entreaties, a mother should not sell him an hour from her beholding; I—considering how honour would become such a person; that it was no better than picture-like to hang by the wall, if renown made it not stir,—was pleased to let him seek danger where he was like to find fame. To a cruel war I sent him; from whence he returned, his brows bound with oak. I tell thee, daughter—I sprang not more in joy at first hearing he was a man-child, than now in first seeing he had proved himself a man."

Mary Arden died in 1608, at about the time the passage quoted above was written, having lived long enough to see the fortunes of the family restored through her son's efforts, and also to see him become one of the most noted men in England, and returning to Stratford with his brows crowned, if not with martial oak, with more enduring laurels.

We have no record of Shakespeare's schooldays. We know that a free grammar school of good standard existed in Stratford during his boyhood, and later. It is usually assumed that it was here that Shakespeare got the elements of his education. Though he was in no sense a classical scholar, he undoubtedly had an elementary knowledge of Latin, and may possibly, in later years, have acquired a smattering of Greek. George Chapman accuses Shakespeare of spreading the report that his alleged translations of Homer from the original Greek were, in fact, made from Latin versions. Whatever truth there may have been in Chapman's[Pg 24] accusation against Shakespeare in this connection, modern scholarship has found that there were good grounds for such a report, and that Chapman undoubtedly made free use of the Latin of Scapula in all of his translations. Chapman's allegation, if true, seems to imply that Shakespeare's knowledge of Latin was not so meagre but that he could, upon occasion, successfully combat his learned opponents with weapons of their own choice.

Once at work in London, Shakespeare wrought hard, and in view of his immense productiveness can have had little leisure in the ten or fifteen years following. We may infer, then, that the wealth of knowledge of nature he displays was acquired in his boyhood and youth in the country round about Stratford. His intimate acquaintance with animate and inanimate life in all their forms, his knowledge of banks where wild thyme grew, his love of flowers and of natural beauty which remained with him all through his life, were evidently gained at that receptive period:

"When meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth and every common thing to (him) did seem,
Appareled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream."

Though Shakespeare's schooldays were over long before he left Stratford for London, his real education had only then begun. To his all-gleaning eye and hungry mind every day he lived brought new accretions of knowledge. Notwithstanding the paucity of recorded fact which exists regarding his material life, and the wealth of intimate knowledge we may possess regarding the lives of other writers, I doubt if, in the works of any other author in the entire history of literature, we can trace such evidence of continuous intellectual and spiritual growth.[Pg 25]

While we have no light on Shakespeare's childhood, a few facts have been gleaned from the Stratford records concerning his father's affairs and his own youth, a consideration of which may enable us to judge the underlying causes which led him to seek his fortunes in London.

There is something pathetic yet dignified about the figure of John Shakespeare as we dimly sight it in what remains of the annals of his town and time. The stage he treads is circumscribed, and his appearances are few, but sufficient for us to apprehend a high-spirited but injudicious man, showing always somewhat superior in spirit to his social conditions.

He settled in Stratford twelve years previous to the birth of our poet, and appears to have been recognised as a man of some importance soon after his arrival. We have record that he was elected to various small municipal offices early in his Stratford career, and also of purchases of property from time to time, all of which evidences a growth in estate and public regard. At about the time of Shakespeare's birth, and during a season of pestilence, we find him prominent amongst those of his townsmen who contributed to succour their distressed and stricken neighbours. A year later than this we find him holding office as alderman, and later still as bailiff of Stratford; the latter the highest office in the gift of his fellow-townsmen. While holding this office we catch a glimpse of him giving welcome to a travelling company of players; an innovation in the uses of his position which argues a broad and tolerant catholicity of mind when contrasted with the growing Puritanism of the times. And so, for several years, we see him prosper, and living as befits one who prospers, and, withal, wearing his village honours with a kindly dignity. But fortune turns, and a period of reverses[Pg 26] sets in; we do not trace them very distinctly; we find him borrowing moneys and mortgaging property, and, later, these and older obligations fall due, and, failing payment, he is sued, and thereafter for some years he fights a stubborn rearguard fight with pursuing fate in the form of truculent creditors and estranged relatives.

In the onset of these troubles an event occurred which, we may safely assume, did not tend to ease his worries nor add to his peace of mind. In 1582, his son, our poet, then a youth of eighteen, brought to his home an added care in the shape of a wife who was nearly eight years his senior, and who (the records tell us) bore him a daughter within six months of the date of their betrothal. All the circumstances surrounding the marriage lead us to infer that Shakespeare's family was not enthusiastically in favour of it, and was perhaps ignorant of it till its consummation, and that it was practically forced upon the youthful Shakespeare by the bride's friends for reasons obvious in the facts of the case. About two and a half years from this date, and at a period when John Shakespeare's affairs had become badly involved and his creditors uncomfortably persistent, his son's family and his own care were increased by the addition of the twins, Judith and Hamnet. The few records we have of this period (1585-86) show a most unhappy state of affairs; his creditors are still on the warpath, and one, owning to the solid name of John Brown, having secured judgment against him, is compelled to report to the court that "the defendant hath no property whereon to levy." Shortly after this, John Shakespeare is shorn of the last shred of his civic honours, being deprived of his office of alderman for non-attendance at the council meetings. In this condition of things we may realise the feelings of an imaginative and sensitive youth of[Pg 27] his son's calibre; how keenly he would feel the helplessness and the reproach of his position, especially if—as was no doubt the case—it was augmented by the looks of askance and wagging of heads of the sleek and thrifty wise-ones of his community.

We are fairly well assured that Shakespeare did not leave Stratford before the end of 1585, and it appears probable that he remained there as late as 1586 or 1587. Seeing that he had compromised himself at the age of eighteen with a woman eight years his senior, whom he married from a sense of honour or was induced to marry by her friends, we may infer that the three or four subsequent years he spent in Stratford were not conducive either to domestic felicity or peace of mind. How Shakespeare occupied himself during these years we may never know, though it is very probable that he worked in the capacity of assistant to his father. That these were years of introspection and remorse to one of his spirit, however, there can be little doubt; there can be still less doubt that they were also years of formative growth, and that in this interval the irresponsible youth, who had given hostages to fortune by marrying at the age of eighteen, steadied by the responsibility of a growing family, quickly developed into some promise of the man to be.

No biographer has yet taken into consideration the effect which the circumstances of Shakespeare's life during these four or five formative years must necessarily have had in the development of his character. That this exquisite poet, this builder of dreams, should in the common affairs of life have displayed such an effectively practical bent, has always appeared an anomaly; a partial explanation is to be found in the incentive given to his energies by the conditions of his life, and of his father's affairs, at this formative period.[Pg 28] To the habitually poor, poverty is a familiar; to the patrician who has had reverses, it may be a foil to his spirit: he still has his pride of family and caste. To the burgher class, in which Shakespeare moved in Stratford, the loss of money was the loss of caste. To provide for the future of his children and to restore the declining fortunes and prestige of his family became now his most immediate concern, if we may form any judgment from his subsequent activities. The history of literature has given us so many instances of poetic genius being unaccompanied by ordinary worldly wisdom, and so few instances of a combination of business aptitude with poetic genius, that some so-called biographers, enamoured of the conventional idea of a poet, seem almost to resent our great poet's practical common sense when displayed in his everyday life, and to impute to him as a derogation, or fault, the sound judgment in worldly matters, without which he never could have evolved the sane and unimpassioned philosophy of life, which, like a firm and even warp, runs veiled through the multicoloured weft of incident and accident in his dramas.

All Shakespearean biographers now agree in dating his hegira from Stratford not later than the year 1587. Early in 1585 his twin children, Judith and Hamnet, were born. The fact that no children were born to him later is usually advanced in favour of the assumption that he left Stratford shortly after this date. In the next eleven years we have but one mention of him in the Stratford records. Towards the end of 1587 his name, in conjunction with his father's, appears upon a legal form relating to the proposed cancellation of a mortgage upon some property in which he held a contingent interest. This, however, does not necessarily indicate his presence in Stratford at that time.[Pg 29]

At the present time the most generally accepted hypothesis regarding the beginning of Shakespeare's theatrical career is that he joined the Earl of Leicester's company of players upon the occasion of their visit to Stratford-upon-Avon, either in the year 1586 or 1587. Upon the death of the Earl of Leicester in 1588, when this company was disrupted, it is thought probable that in company with Will Kempe, George Bryan, and Thomas Pope (actors with whom he was afterwards affiliated for years), he joined Lord Strange's players, with which company under its various later titles he continued to be connected during the remainder of his theatrical career. I shall prove this theory to be erroneous and adduce evidence to show that of whatever company, or companies, he may later have been an active member, his theatrical experience had its inception in a connection as theatrical assistant with the interests of the Burbages; with whose fortunes he thereafter continued to be connected till the end of his London career.

In judging of the youthful Shakespeare, of whom we can only conjecture, we may reasonably draw inferences from the character of the man we find revealed in his life's work. I am convinced that Shakespeare's departure from Stratford was deliberate, and that when he went to London he did so with a definite purpose in view. Had Shakespeare's father been a prosperous man of business, in all probability the world would never have heard of his son; though the local traditions of Stratford might have been enriched by the proverbial wit and wisdom of a certain anonymous sixteenth-century tradesman.

Unconfirmed legend, originating nearly a hundred years after the alleged event, is the sole basis for the report that[Pg 30] Shakespeare was forced to leave his native town on account of his participation in a poaching adventure. It is possible that Shakespeare in his youth may have indulged in such a natural transgression of the law, but supposing it to be a fact that he did so, it does not necessarily brand him as a scapegrace. A ne'er-do-well in the country would probably remain the same in the city, and would be likely to accentuate his characteristics there, especially if his life was cast, as was Shakespeare's, in Bohemian surroundings. Instead of this, what are the facts? Assuming that Shakespeare left Stratford in 1586 or 1587, and became, as tradition reports, a servitor in the theatre at that period, let us look ten years ahead and see how he has fared.

We know that he had already returned to Stratford in 1597 and purchased one of the most important residences in the town. From the fact that John Shakespeare's creditors from this time forward ceased to harass him, we may assume that he had also settled his father's affairs. We have record that in 1596 he had, through his father, applied for the confirmation of an old grant of arms, which was confirmed three years later, and that he thereafter was styled "William Shakespeare, Gentleman of Stratford-upon-Avon." At this period he had also produced more than one-third of his known literary work, and was acknowledged as the leading dramatist of the time. All of this he had attained working in the same environment in which other men of about his own age, but of greater education and larger opportunities, had found penury, disgrace, and death. Marlowe, his confrère, at the age of thirty, in 1593, was killed in a tavern brawl. A year earlier, Greene, also a university man, would have died a beggar on the street but for the charity of a cobbler's wife who housed him in his dying hours. Spenser,[Pg 31] breathing a purer atmosphere, but lacking the business aptitude of Shakespeare, died broken-hearted in poverty in 1599. George Peele, another university man, at about the same date, and at the age of thirty-four, we are told by Meres, died from the results of an irregular life. And those of his literary contemporaries who lived as long as, or outlived, Shakespeare, what were their ends, and where are their memories? Unknown and in most cases forgotten except where they live in his reflected light. Matthew Roydon lived long and died in poverty, no one knows when or where. George Chapman outlived his great rival many years, and died as he had lived, a friendless misanthropist.

Though Shakespeare won to fame and fortune over the temptations and vicissitudes of the same life and environments to which so many of his fellows succumbed, we have proof that this was not due to any inherent asceticism or native coldness of blood.

No man in Shakespeare's circumstances could have attained and accomplished what he did during those early years living at haphazard or without a controlling purpose in life. Whatever may have been the immediate accident of fate that turned his face Londonwards, we may rest assured that he went there with the purpose of retrieving his good name in his own community and rehabilitating the fortunes of his family.

Shakespeare's literary history does not show in him any evidence of remarkable precocity. Keats was famous and already gathered to the immortals at an age at which Shakespeare was still in the chrysalid stage of the actual buskin and sock. It may reasonably be doubted that Shakespeare produced any of his known poems or plays previous to the years 1590-91. Though his genius blossomed late his[Pg 32] common sense and business capacity developed early, forced into being, no doubt, by a realisation of his responsibilities, as well as by the deplorable condition into which his father's affairs had fallen. So, between the years 1583, when he was married, and 1591-92, when we first begin to get some hints of his literary activities, his Pegasus was in harness earning bread and butter and, incidentally, gleaning worldly wisdom. "Love's young dream" is over; the ecstatic quest of the "not impossible she," almost at its inception, has ended in the cold anticlimax of an enforced marriage.

We may dismiss the deer-stealing rumour as referring to this period. The patient industry, sound judgment, and unusual business capacity exhibited by Shakespeare from the time we begin to get actual glimpses of his doings until the end of his career, belie the stupid and belated rumour of his having been forced to leave Stratford as a fugitive from justice on account of his participation in a poaching adventure upon Sir Thomas Lucy's preserves. While it is apparent that this bucolic Justice of the Peace is caricatured as Justice Shallow in Henry IV., Part II., it is still more clear that this play was not written until the end of the year 1598. When Shakespeare's methods of work are better understood it will become evident that he did not in 1598 revenge an injury from ten to twelve years old. Whatever may have been his animus against Sir Thomas Lucy it undoubtedly pertained to conditions existent in the year 1598. In 1596 John Shakespeare's application for arms was made, but was not finally granted until late in 1598, or early in 1599. It was still under consideration by the College of Heralds, or had very recently been granted when Shakespeare wrote Henry IV., Part II., late in 1598. It is not likely that such a grant of arms would be made even by the most friendly[Pg 33] disposed authorities without consultation with, or reference to, the local magistracy or gentry regarding the character and social standing of the applicant. It is quite likely then that the rustic squire resented—what such a character would undoubtedly have regarded as a tradesman's presumption, and that Shakespeare, becoming cognizant of his objections, answered them in kind by caricaturing the Lucy arms. The critical student of Shakespeare's works will find that wherever a reflection of a topical nature is palpable in his plays, that the thing, or incident, referred to is almost invariably a matter of comparatively recent experience. If it is a reflection of, or a reference to, another writer we may be assured that Shakespeare has recently come from a perusal of the writer in question. If the allusion is of a social or political nature it will refer to some recent happening or to something that is still of public interest. Should such an allusion be in any sense autobiographical and pertaining to his own personal interests or feelings, it is still more likely to refer to recent experience. Whatever may have been the reason for his caricature of Sir Thomas Lucy, its cause was evidently of a later date than his departure from Stratford. It was no shiftless runagate nor fugitive from justice who went to London in, or about, 1585-87; neither was it a wrathful Chatterton, eating out his heart in bitter pride while firing his imagination to

"Paw up against the light
And do strange deeds upon the clouds."

It was a very sane, clear-headed, and resourceful young man who took service with the Players, one, as yet, probably unconscious of literary ability or dramatic genius, but with a capacity for hard work; grown somewhat old for his years[Pg 34] through responsibility, and with a slightly embittered and mildly cynical pose of mind in regard to life.

An early autobiographical note seems to be sounded in Falconbridge's soliloquy in King John, Act II. Scene ii., as follows:

"And why rail I on this commodity?
But for because he hath not woo'd me yet;
Not that I have the power to clutch my hand,
When his fair angels would salute my palm;
But for my hand, as unattempted yet,
Like a poor beggar, raileth on the rich.
Well, whiles I am a beggar, I will rail
And say there is no sin but to be rich;
And being rich, my virtue then shall be
To say there is no vice but beggary.
Since kings break faith upon commodity,
Gain, be my lord, for I will worship thee."

I have new evidence to show that this play was composed by Shakespeare in 1591, and though it was revised in about 1596, the passage quoted above, which exhibits the affected cynicism of youth, pertains to the earlier period. Aside from the leading of the natural bent of his genius it is evident that the greater pecuniary reward to be attained from the writing rather than from the acting of plays would be quickly apparent to a youth who in this spirit has left home to make London his oyster.

As research and criticism advance and we are enabled, little by little, more intimately to apprehend the personality of Shakespeare and to construct a more definite chronology of his doings, the shifting lights of evidence in the form of tradition and legend, which in the past have dazed, or misled, searchers, either disappear or take on new values. When we remember that Shakespeare, when he went to London, was about twenty-three years old, the father of a family, and the son of an ex-bailiff of the not unimportant[Pg 35] town of Stratford, we may dismiss as a fanciful distortion the story of his holding horses at the theatre doors for stray pennies; and in the added embellishment of the story which describes this Orpheon, yet thrifty street Arab, as organising for this purpose a band of his mates who, to prove their honesty when soliciting the care of a horse, would claim to be "Shakespeare's boys," we may find a clue to the actual facts of the case. We have hitherto had no definite record of, nor recognised allusion to, Shakespeare between the year 1587, when his name is mentioned with his father's in a legal document, and the year 1592, when we have the well-known allusions of Robert Greene. Greene's references in this latter year reveal Shakespeare as having already entered upon his literary career, and at the same time, in the phrases "upstart crow beautified with our feathers" and "the onlie Shake-scene in the country," seem to point to him as an actor; the expression "Johannes factotum" seems still further to widen the scope of his activities and to indicate the fact that Shakespeare wrought in several capacities for his masters during his earlier theatrical career. Part of his first work for his employers, it is possible, consisted in taking charge of the stabling arrangements for the horses of the gentlemen and noblemen who frequented the Theatre. The expression "rude groome," which Greene uses in his attack upon Shakespeare, is evidently used as pointing at his work in this capacity. The story of the youths who introduced themselves as "Shakespeare's boys" seems to indicate that he was the recognised representative of the theatrical proprietors who provided accommodations for this purpose. It is to be assumed then that Shakespeare, having charge of this work, would upon occasions come personally in contact with the noblemen and gentry who frequented Burbage's[Pg 36] Theatre, which was situated in the parish of Shoreditch, then regarded as the outskirts of the City.

Of the several records concerning this alleged incident in Shakespeare's early London experience, that which is simplest and latest in date seems to bear the greatest evidence of truth when considered in connection with established facts and coincident circumstantial evidence. Traditions preserved in the poet's own family would in essentials be likely to be closer to the truth than the bibulous gossip of Sir William Davenant, from which source all the other records of this story are derived. In the monthly magazine of February 1818 the story is told as follows: "Mr. J.M. Smith said he had often heard his mother state that Shakespeare owed his rise in life and his introduction to the theatre to his accidentally holding the horse of a gentleman at the door of the theatre on his first arriving in London; his appearance led to inquiry and subsequent patronage." The "J.M. Smith" mentioned here was the son of Mary Hart, a lineal descendant of Joan Hart, Shakespeare's sister. While it is clearly impossible that Shakespeare owed his introduction to the theatre to Southampton, there can be little doubt, in the light of data to follow, that his rise in life was much enhanced by his friendship and patronage. What truth there may be in this story is evidently a distorted reflection of Shakespeare's earlier work in the Theatre at Shoreditch and of his later acquaintance with the Earl of Southampton. We have no record, hint, or suggestion of his personal acquaintance or business connection with any noblemen or gentlemen other than Southampton, and possibly Sir Thomas Heneage, at this early period. It shall later be shown that Southampton first became identified with London and Court life in[Pg 37] October 1590. I am led by good evidence to the belief that Shakespeare's acquaintance with this nobleman had its inception very soon after this date, and that he, and the theatrical company to which he was attached at that time, attended the Earl of Southampton at Cowdray House and at Tichfield House in August and September 1591, upon the occasion of the Queen's progress to, and sojourn at, these places.



As we have well-attested evidence that Shakespeare was connected with the interests of James Burbage and his sons from 1594 until the end of his London career, it is usually, and reasonably, assumed that his early years in London were also spent with the Burbages; but as nothing is definitely known regarding Burbage's company affiliations between 1575, when we have record that he was still manager of Leicester's company, and 1594, when the Lord Chamberlain's company left Henslowe and Alleyn and returned to Burbage and the Theatre, knowledge of Shakespeare's company affiliations during these years is equally nebulous. Only by throwing light upon Burbage's activities during these years can we hope for light upon Shakespeare during the same period. Much of the ambiguity regarding Burbage's affairs during these years arises from the fact that critics persist in regarding him as an actor and an active member of a regular theatrical company after 1576, instead of recognising the palpable fact that he was now also a theatrical manager with a large amount of borrowed money invested in a theatre upon which it would take all of his energies to pay interest and make a profit. After 1576 Burbage's relations with com[Pg 39]panies of actors were necessarily much the same as those of Henslowe's with the companies that acted at his theatres, though it is probable that Burbage acted at times for a few years after this date. He was now growing old, and his business responsibility increasing, it is unlikely that he continued to act long after 1584, when his son Richard entered upon his histrionic career.[10]

When Shakespeare came to London in 1586-87, there were only two regular theatres,—the Theatre and the Curtain,—though there were usually several companies playing also at innyards within and about the City. The Theatre at Shoreditch, owned by James Burbage, was built by him in 1576, and was the first building designed in modern England specially for theatrical purposes. Though he had many troubles in later years with his brother-in-law and partner, John Brayne, and with his grasping landlord, Giles Allen, he retained his ownership of the Theatre until his death in 1597, and he, or his sons, maintained its management until the expiration of their lease in the same year.

In 1571 an Act of Parliament was passed making it necessary for a company of players who wished to exercise their profession without unnecessary interference from petty officials and municipal authorities, to secure a licence as the players, or servants, of a nobleman; lacking such licences members of their calling were classed before the law, and liable to be treated, as "vagabonds and sturdy beggars." Such a licence once issued to a company was regarded as a valuable corporate asset by its sharers. At times a company possessing a licence would diminish by attrition[Pg 40] until the ownership of the licence became vested in the hands of a few of the original sharers, who, lacking either the means or ability to continue to maintain themselves as an effective independent organisation, would form a connection with a similarly depleted company and perform as one company, each of them preserving their licensed identity. In travelling in the provinces such a dual company would at times be recorded under one title, and again under the other, in the accounts of the Wardens, Chamberlains, and Mayors of the towns they visited. Occasionally, however, the names of both companies would be recorded under one payment, and when their functions differed, they seem at times to have secured separate payments though evidently working together—one company supplying the musicians and the other the actors.

If we find for a number of years in the provincial and Court records the names of two companies recorded separately, who from time to time act together as one company, and that these companies act together as one company at the same London theatre, we may infer that the dual company may be represented also at times where only the name of one of them is given in provincial or Court records. It is likely that the full numbers of such a dual company would not make prolonged provincial tours except under stress of circumstances, such as the enforced closing of the theatres in London on account of the plague; and that while the entire combination might perform at Coventry and other points within a short distance of London, they would probably divide their forces and act as separate companies upon the occasions of their regular provincial travels.

Such a combination as this between two companies in[Pg 41] some instances lasted for years. The provincial, and even the Court records, will make mention of one company, and at times of the other, in instances where two companies had merged their activities while preserving their respective titles.[11] A lack of knowledge of this fact is responsible for most of the misapprehension that exists at present regarding Shakespeare's early theatrical affiliations.[Pg 42]

Under whatever varying licences and titles the organisation of players to which Shakespeare attached himself upon his arrival in London may have performed in later years, all tradition, inference, and evidence point to a connection from the beginning with the interests of James Burbage and his sons.

Though other companies played at intervals at Burbage's Theatre at, and shortly following, 1586-87, the period usually accepted as marking the beginning of Shakespeare's connection with theatrical affairs, it shall be made evident that the Lord Chamberlain's—recently Lord Hunsdon's—company, of which James Burbage was at that date undoubtedly the manager, made their centre at his house when performing in London. That this was a London company with an established theatrical home in the most important theatre in London, between the years 1582 and 1589, is established by the facts that James Burbage was its manager, and the infrequency of mention of it in the provincial records. It is probable that at this early period it was not a full company of actors, but that Lord Hunsdon's licence covered Burbage and his theatrical employees and musicians.

Numerous and continuous records of provincial visits for a company infer that it would be better known as a provincial than as a London company, while the total lack of any record of Court performances, taken in conjunction with a large number of records of provincial performances, would imply that such a company had no permanent London abiding-place, such as Lord Hunsdon's company undoubtedly had in Burbage's Theatre.

The fact that James Burbage, the leader of Leicester's company in its palmy days—1574 to 1582—was, between 1582 and 1589, the leader of Lord Hunsdon's company, when[Pg 43] coupled with the fact that they appeared before the Court during this interval, gives added evidence that it was a recognised London company at this period.

Much ambiguity regarding James Burbage's theatrical affiliations in the years between 1583 and 1594 has been engendered by the utterly gratuitous assumption that he joined the Queen's players upon the organisation of that company by Edmund Tilney, the Master of the Revels, in 1583, leaving the Earl of Leicester's players along with Robert Wilson, John Laneham, and Richard Tarleton at that time. We have conclusive evidence, however, against this assumption. James Burbage worked under the patronage of Lord Hunsdon and was undoubtedly the owner of the Theatre in 1584, although Halliwell-Phillipps, and others who have followed him in his error have assumed, on account of his having mortgaged the lease of the Theatre in the year 1579 to one John Hyde, a grocer of London, that the actual occupancy and use of the Theatre had also then been transferred. There is nothing unusual or mysterious in the fact that Burbage mortgaged the Theatre to Hyde. In the time of Elizabeth, leases of business property were bought, sold, and hypothecated for loans and regarded as investment securities. Burbage at this time was in need of money. His brother-in-law, John Brayne, who had engaged with him to advance half of the necessary expenses for the building and conduct of the Theatre, defaulted in 1578 in his payments. It is evident that Burbage borrowed the money he needed from Hyde, mortgaging the lease as security, probably agreeing to repay the loan with interest in instalments. It is not unlikely that it was Giles Allen's knowledge of this transaction that excited his cupidity and led him to demand £24 instead of £14 a year when Burbage[Pg 44] sought an agreed upon extension of the lease in 1585. As Hyde transferred the lease to Cuthbert Burbage in 1589, it appears that he held a ten years' mortgage, which was a common term in such transactions. In 1584 Burbage was clearly still manager of the Theatre, and in the eyes of the companies playing there from time to time, who were not likely to be cognizant of his private business transactions, such as borrowing of money upon a mortgage, was also still the owner of the Theatre.

In one of the witty Recorder Fleetwood's reports to Lord Burghley, dated 18th June 1584,[12] we have the following matter referring to the Theatre and the Curtain: "Upon Sondaie, my Lord sent two aldermen to the court, for the suppressing and pulling downe of the theatre and curten, for all the Lords agreed thereunto, saving my Lord Chamberlayn and Mr. Vice-Chamberlayn; but we obtayned a letter to suppresse them all. Upon the same night I sent for the Queen's players, and my Lord of Arundell his players, for they all well nighe obeyed the Lords letters. The chiefest of her Highnes' players advised me to send for the owner of the theatre, who was a stubborne fellow, and to bynd him. I dyd so. He sent me word that he was my Lord of Hunsdon's man, and that he would not come to me, but he would in the morning ride to my Lord. Then I sent the under-sheriff for hym, and he brought him to me, and at his coming he showted me out very justice. And in the end, I showed hym my Lord his master's hand, and then he was more quiet. But to die for it he wold not be bound. And then I mynding to send hym to prison, he made sute that he might be bounde to appeare at the oier and determiner, the which is to-morrowe, where he said that[Pg 45] he was sure the court wold not bynd hym, being a counsellor's man. And so I have graunted his request, where he is sure to be bounde, or else is lyke to do worse." The "stubborne fellow" was, without doubt, none other than the high-spirited and pugnacious James Burbage, who fought for twenty-one years over leases with his avaricious landlord, Giles Allen, and of whom Allen's lawyer writes in a Star Chamber document in 1601: "Burbage tendered a new lease which he, the said Allen, refused to sign because it was different from the first and also because Burbage had assigned the Theatre to John Hyde and has also been a very bad and troublesome tenant to your orator." This document also makes mention of the fact as one of the reasons for Allen refusing to sign the new lease that "Hyde conveyed the lease to Cuthbert, son of James." The conveyance here mentioned was made in 1589. It is plain that Allen's lawyer implies that the mortgaging of the Theatre to Hyde and its later conveyance to Cuthbert Burbage were made, not alone for value received, but also for the protection of James Burbage against legal proceedings. Here, then, we have good evidence that James Burbage, who, in the year 1575, had been the manager, and undoubtedly a large owner, of the Earl of Leicester's company,—at that time the most important company of players in England,—was in 1584 a member of Lord Hunsdon's company, and if a member—in view of his past and present prominence in theatrical affairs—also, evidently, its manager and owner. As no logical reasons are given by Halliwell-Phillipps, or by the compilers who base their biographies upon his Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare, for declining to accept the reference in Fleetwood's letter to the "owner of the Theatre" as an allusion to Burbage, whom they admit to have been,[Pg 46] and who undoubtedly was, the owner of the Theatre from 1576 until he transferred his property to his sons, Cuthbert and Richard, shortly before he died in 1597,[13] their refusal to see the light must arise from their obsession that Burbage at this time was a member of either Leicester's or the Queen's company, and as to which one they do not seem to have a very clear impression. Shakespearean biography may be searched in vain for any other recorded facts concerning Burbage's company affiliations between 1575 and 1594. In view of this general lack of knowledge of Burbage in these years the critical neglect of such a definite allusion as Recorder Fleetwood makes to the "owner of the Theatre" as a servant of Lord Hunsdon is difficult to understand.

The alleged reason for the proposed suppression of the Theatre and the Curtain at this, and at other times, was that they had become public nuisances by attracting large crowds of the most unruly elements of the populace, which led to disturbances of the peace.

In this same report of Fleetwood's to Burghley, he informs him that on the previous Monday, upon his return to London from Kingston, he "found all the wardes full of watches. The cause thereof was for that neare the theatre[Pg 47] or curten, at the time of the plays, there laye a prentice sleeping upon the grasse; and one Challes alias Grostock did turne upon the toe upon the belly of the prentice; whereupon this apprentice start up, and afterwards they fell to playne blowes. The companie increased of both sides to the number of 500 at the least. This Challes exclaimed and said, that he was a gentleman, and that the apprentice was but a rascal and some there were littel better than roogs, that took upon them the name of gentleman, and said the prentices were but the skume of the worlde. Upon these troubles, the prentices began the next daye, being Tuesdaye, to make mutinies, and assemblies, and conspyre to have broken the prisones, and to have taken forth the prentices that were imprisoned. But my Lord and I having intelligence thereof, apprehended four or fyve of the chief conspirators, who are in Newgate, and stand indicted of their lewd demeanours.

"Upon Weddensdaye, one Browne a serving man in a blew coate, a shifting fellowe, having a perilous wit of his owne, intending a spoil if he could have brought it to passe, did at the theatre-doore quarrell with certayn poore boyes, handicraft prentices, and strooke some of them; and lastlie, he, with his sword, wounded and maymed one of the boyes upon the left hand. Whereupon there assembled near a thousand people. This Browne did very cunningly conveye himself away, but by chance he was taken after and brought to Mr. Humprey Smithe, and because no man was able to charge him, he[Pg 48] dismyssed him."[14]

Though the Council ordered the suppression of both the Theatre and the Curtain at this time, Fleetwood's report of the disturbances seems to place the blame largely upon the Theatre. If the Queen's players were then performing at the Theatre, under the management of Burbage, it is most unlikely that the "chiefest of her Highnes' players"—who informed Fleetwood that the owner of the Theatre was a "stubborne fellow," and advised that he be sent for and "bounde"—would have given advice and information so unfriendly to their own manager, and there cannot be the slightest doubt that Burbage was "the owner" of the Theatre from 1576 to 1596. It is apparent that the leader of the Queen's company was willing that the onus of the disturbances should be placed upon the Theatre rather than upon the Curtain, where the Queen's players were evidently performing at this time—Lord Arundel's company temporarily occupying the Theatre, Lord Hunsdon's company being at that time upon a provincial tour. They are recorded as performing in Bath in June 1584.[15]

A consideration of the records of Lord Hunsdon's company, and of previous companies that performed under this name, gives fair evidence that James Burbage established this company in 1582, at or before which date he severed his active connection as a player with the Earl of Leicester's players, though still continuing his own theatrical organisation at the Theatre under the patronage of Leicester, as the[Pg 49] Earl of Leicester's musicians, and maintaining relations with Leicester's players as a theatre owner.

Burbage's reason in 1582 for transferring from the patronage of Leicester for his theatrical employees to that of Lord Hunsdon was, no doubt, the fact of Leicester's departure for the Continent in this year. The constant attacks being made by the puritanical authorities upon the London theatrical interests made it expedient for him to have the protection of a nobleman whose aid could be quickly invoked in case of trouble. As I will show later that Burbage was regarded with disfavour by Burghley in 1589, it is likely that the opposition he met with from the local authorities in these earlier years was instigated by Burghley's agents and gossips. Recorder Fleetwood, chief amongst these, reports Burbage's alleged transgressions with such evident unction it is apparent that he knew his message would have a sympathetic reception.

It shall be shown that in later years the Burbage theatrical organisation was anti-Cecil and pro-Essex in its tacit political representations; it is not unlikely that it was recognised as anti-Cecil and pro-Leicester in these early years, and that in this manner it incurred Burghley's ill-will.

Previous to the year 1567 there existed a company under the patronage of Lord Hunsdon; between that date and 1582 there is no record of any company acting under this nobleman's licence. In July 1582 there is record that Lord Hunsdon's company acted at Ludlow, and upon 27th December 1582 we have record that Lord Hunsdon's players acted before the Court, presenting A Comedy of Beauty and Housewifery. The provincial records show a few performances by this company in the provinces in[Pg 50] every year, except one, between 1582 and 1589; while 1587 shows no provincial performance, a payment of five shillings is recorded in Coventry "to the Lord Chamberlain's Musicians that came with the Judge at the assizes"; these were, no doubt, a portion of Burbage's company, Lord Hunsdon then being Lord Chamberlain. This entry, however, is immediately preceded by the entry of a payment of twenty shillings to the Lord Admiral's players. It shall be shown that the Admiral's company was affiliated with Burbage at this time.

The Lord Hunsdon who patronised this company from the time of its inception, in 1582, until we hear no more about it in 1589, was the same Henry Carey, Baron Hunsdon, who, in 1594, still holding the office of Lord Chamberlain, again took Burbage and his theatrical associates under his protection.

In imagining James Burbage as a member of the Queen's company of players for several years following 1583, and ending in about 1591, it has been customary also to assume that the Queen's company played regularly, when in London, at Burbage's Theatre during these years; and that the Lord Admiral's company, between 1585 and 1591, played principally at the Curtain. There is very slight foundation for the former, and not the slightest for the latter, assumption, both of which were first mooted by Halliwell-Phillipps, and in which he has since been followed blindly by the compilers. The supposition that the Queen's company made their London centre at the Theatre from 1583 onwards, is based upon the disproved assumption that Burbage was the manager of this company. This supposition has been supported by the argument that Tarleton, who was a member of the Queen's company after 1583, is mentioned in 1592, in Nashe's[Pg 51] Pierce Penniless, as having "made jests" "at the Theatre," and again in Harrington's Metamorphosis of Ajax in 1596, as follows: "Which word was after admitted into the Theatre by the mouth of Mayster Tarleton, the excellent comedian." As Tarleton died in 1588 these references cannot apply to the "Theatre" later than this date, and if they apply at all to Burbage's Theatre and the term is not used generically, they apply to it in the years preceding 1583, when Tarleton played at the Theatre as a member of Lord Leicester's company. The author of Martin's Month's Mind, in 1587, refers to "twittle twattle that I learned in ale-houses and at the Theatre of Lanam and his fellowes." This also probably refers to the period preceding 1583, when Laneham was a member and evidently the leader of Leicester's company and after Burbage had retired from its leadership. In News out of Purgatory, published in 1587, in which the ghost of Tarleton appears, "the Curtaine of his Countenance" is mentioned, which apparently alludes to his recent connection with that house.[16] While it is possible, however, that the Queen's company may have performed occasionally at the Theatre after their formation in 1582-83 and before the Rose was built in 1587, all evidence and logical assumption regarding the regular playing-places of the Queen's and the Admiral's companies when in London, between 1586 and 1589, infer that the Queen's company played at the Curtain, and after 1587, at the Rose, and the Lord Admiral's company, in conjunction with the Lord Chamberlain's, at the Theatre in summer and the Crosskeys in winter.

Towards the end of this period a rivalry existed between[Pg 52] the Queen's company and the combined companies playing under Burbage at the Theatre, which ended in 1591 in the supersession for Court performances of the Queen's company by Lord Strange's players—a new company of which Richard Burbage was a member, which had been organised out of the best actors from the defunct companies of the Lord Chamberlain and Lord Leicester, and with accretions from the Lord Admiral's company and Lord Strange's company of boy acrobats; which latter had for about a year past been affiliated in some manner with the Lord Admiral's company, which, in turn, had worked in conjunction with Burbage's players (the Lord Chamberlain's company) since 1585-86.

For this connection between the Lord Admiral's company and the company of Lord Hunsdon, who was now Lord Chamberlain, we have record of a Court performance on 6th January 1586, which was paid for on 31st January: "The Lord Admiral's and the Lord Chamberlain's players were paid for a play before the Queen on Twelfth Day."

While two companies of players, meeting accidentally in the provinces, might at times have combined their forces in an entertainment, we may assume that in such cases each would give a short interlude from their own stock of plays, and not that they joined action in the same play. A performance before the Court, however, was no haphazard thing, but something that had been carefully rehearsed; hence, when we find—as in the case of the Lord Admiral's players and the Lord Chamberlain's players, mentioned above—members of two companies uniting in a play before the Court and receiving one payment for it, it is apparent that they must have acted in the same play, and also that such a play had been previously rehearsed. Burbage's Theatre being the theatrical home of his company, known,[Pg 53] until 1585, as Lord Hunsdon's company, and after that date, when Lord Hunsdon became Lord Chamberlain, as the Lord Chamberlain's players, it becomes evident that the rehearsal of plays for the Court would take place at the Theatre in the summer or the inn used by Burbage and his company in the winter-time, and that the members of the Lord Admiral's company, who had acted with him in the Court performance mentioned, would rehearse at the same places. As we find Lord Strange's company preparing to act in the winter-time of 1589 at the Crosskeys, when they were refused permission to do so by the Lord Mayor, and as we know also that—as the Lord Chamberlain's men—in 1594, after their separation from Henslowe, they again sought leave to act there in the winter season, we may infer that Burbage's men used this same inn for winter performances previous to 1589. Lord Hunsdon's letter to the Lord Mayor in December 1594, referring to the Crosskeys, reads: "Where my now company of players have byn accustomed ... to play this winter time within the City."

While both the Lord Admiral's and Lord Hunsdon's players performed occasionally in the provinces previous to 1591, the limited number of their provincial appearances, taken in conjunction with the fact that they were of sufficient importance to play at intervals before the Court, during the years that the Queen's company—which had been specially formed for that purpose—held sway, implies that they were players of recognised importance.

While it is apparent that Burbage ceased to be an active member of Leicester's players at or soon after the time he undertook the responsibilities of the management of the Theatre, he evidently continued to work under the protection of the Earl of Leicester, as the owner of the Theatre and of[Pg 54] the organisation known as Leicester's musicians, as late as 1582, when he secured the protection of Lord Hunsdon, and in transferring took with him his theatrical musicians, who now became Lord Hunsdon's and, later, the Lord Chamberlain's musicians. The first and last mention of Lord Leicester's musicians as distinct from the players in any of the records is in 1582, when they are mentioned in the Coventry records as accompanying Lord Leicester's players. These were evidently Burbage's theatrical musicians who accompanied Leicester's men to Coventry, as we find them accompanying the Admiral's men to the same place a few years later under the title of the "Lord Chamberlain's Musicians."

It is evident that Leicester's company continued to be Burbage's most permanent customer in the use of the Theatre as late as 1585, and that they acted there until that date in conjunction with Lord Hunsdon's men, who were Burbage's theatrical employees, and mostly musicians. Some time in, or before, June 1585, seven of the more important actors of Leicester's company sailed for the Continent, where they remained till July 1587. In June 1585 the remnant of Leicester's company joined forces with the new Admiral's company. They are recorded as acting together at Dover in this month. It is apparent that Leicester's men had come to this port to see their fellows off for the Continent, and that they were joined there by the Admiral's men by pre-arrangement. This performance of the Admiral's men, in conjunction with the remnant of Leicester's men at Dover, is the first record we possess for many years of any company under this title. The next record is a performance before the Court in the following Christmas season, when we find them acting conjointly with[Pg 55] the Lord Chamberlain's men, i.e. Burbage's men, recently Lord Hunsdon's. It is evident that they had now taken the place of Leicester's men as Burbage's permanent company at the Theatre, holding much the same relations to him as Lord Strange's men held to Henslowe at the Rose between 1592 and 1594.

Both Leicester's and Lord Hunsdon's companies disappear from the records at the same date (1588-89), and Lord Strange's players appear for the first time as a regular London company of players, performing in the City of London and at the Crosskeys in the same year. Three years later, when we are enabled, for the first time, to learn anything of the personnel of this company, we find among its members Thomas Pope, George Bryan, and, later on, William Kempe, all of them members of Leicester's company before 1589. We also find in Lord Strange's company, in 1592, Richard Burbage, who, without doubt, between 1584—in which year he first began as a player—and 1589, was a member of his father's company,—Lord Hunsdon's,—known as the Lord Chamberlain's company after 1585. It becomes apparent, then, that early in the year 1589 a junction of forces took place between the leading actors of the companies previously known as Lord Strange's tumblers, Lord Hunsdon's, or, as it was then known, the Lord Chamberlain's company, and the Earl of Leicester's players—the new organisation becoming known as Lord Strange's players. This company continued under the patronage of Lord Strange, under his successive titles of Lord Strange and the Earl of Derby, until his death in April 1594; they then, for a short period, passed under the patronage of his widow, the Countess of Derby, when they again secured the patronage of Lord Hunsdon—who was still Lord Chamberlain.[Pg 56]

Before the combination between these companies took place in December 1588, or January 1589, it is evident that an alliance of some kind was formed between the leading men of Lord Strange's tumblers and the Lord Admiral's company.[17] For several years, between about 1580 and 1587, Lord Strange's company was merely a company of acrobats, or tumblers, composed of boys and youths. In the provincial records they are mentioned at times as "Lord Strange's tumblers," "Symons and his fellowes," and as "John Symonds and Mr. Standleyes Boyes" (Lord Strange's name being Fernando Stanley). The Lord Admiral's players, on the other hand, were clearly a regular company of players who presented plays, yet we find them paid for Court performances in 1588 and 1589, and also "For showing other feats of activitye and tumblinge." In the following year they are again paid for a Court performance where "feates of activitye" are also mentioned. The last performances of this nature given by the Lord Admiral's players were on 27th December 1590 and 16th February 1591. The record of payment for these performances makes mention of "other feates of activitye then also done by them." Upon the 5th of March 1591 the payment for these performances is recorded in the Acts of the Privy Council to the Lord Admiral's company, while—as Mr. E.K. Chambers has pointed out—in the Pipe Rolls (542 fol. 156) these same performances are assigned to Strange's men. It is evident, then, that late in 1588 (the first performance of this nature being recorded on the 27th of December) a junction took place between certain members of Lord Strange's tumblers and the Lord[Pg 57] Admiral's men, who had been connected since 1585 with the Lord Chamberlain's men, and that, at the same time, the leading members of Lord Leicester's company became affiliated with them.

In the following Christmas season, 1591-92, Lord Strange's players—now thoroughly organised into a regular company of players—gave six performances before the Court, supplanting the formerly powerful and popular Queen's company, which gave only one performance in that season, and never afterwards appeared before the Court. There is no further record of a Court performance by the Lord Admiral's company until the Christmas season of 1594-95, by which time they had parted from the Lord Chamberlain's men and reorganised by absorbing members from other companies—such as the Earl of Sussex and Earl of Pembroke's companies, which at this time disappear from the records.

Here, then, we find, between the Christmas season of 1588-89 and 1591-92, an amalgamation into one company of a portion of the membership of four different companies, all of which had, immediately before, been associated in some measure with the theatrical interests of the Burbages.

While a chance record remains which reveals official action in the formation of the Queen's company of players in 1583, and no actual record of official action has yet been found to account for the sudden Court favour accorded the new and powerful Lord Strange's company in 1591, it is very apparent that an equally authoritative purpose existed in the latter case.

Between the years 1574 and 1583 the Earl of Leicester's company, under the auspices of James Burbage, held the[Pg 58] position of the leading company of players in London. During the Christmas and New Year festivities in every year but one in this decade, Leicester's company played before the Court, being supplanted by the newly formed Queen's company in 1583-84.

Howes states in his Additions to Stowe's Chronicles that "in 1583 twelve of the best players were chosen out of several great Lords' companies and sworn the Queen's servants, being allowed wages and liveries as Grooms of the Chamber," and among these, two players, Thomas (Robert) Wilson and Richard Tarleton, were chosen. As these players and John Laneham were taken from Lord Leicester's company it has been incorrectly inferred that James Burbage—who is known to have been the leader of the company as late as 1575—went with them to the Queen's company at this time.

It is apparent that changes so important in the several companies affected by the disruption of their memberships could not be made in a very short time, and that test performances and negotiations of some duration preceded the actual amalgamation of the new company. Burbage's reason for securing Lord Hunsdon's patronage in 1582 was, no doubt, because of Leicester's departure for the Continent in this year and the disorganisation of Leicester's company, caused by the formation of the new Queen's company at the same period.

Between 1583 and 1590, while other companies performed occasionally at the Court, the Queen's company performed during the Christmas festivities every season—and usually upon several occasions—in each year. In the Christmas season of 1591-92, however, they performed only once, and then for the last time on record, while Lord[Pg 59] Strange's company appeared in this season upon six occasions. This company, under its various later titles, retained the position it had now attained—of the leading Court company—for the next forty years. It is evident, then, that the amalgamation of the leading members of Lord Strange's acrobats, the Lord Chamberlain's, the Earl of Leicester's, and the Lord Admiral's players, which I have shown began in tentative Court performances in the Christmas season of 1588-89, and which culminated in the success of the thoroughly organised company in the season of 1591-92, was—at least in its later stage—fostered by similar official sanction and encouragement to that which brought about the formation of the Queen's company in 1582-83. Edmund Tilney, the Master of the Revels, who chose the players for the Queen's company in 1583, held the same position in 1591, and evidently exercised a similar function in forwarding the promotion of Lord Strange's company, and the discarding of the Queen's company for Court purposes in the latter year. It is significant that Henslowe, the owner of the Rose Theatre, where Lord Strange's players commenced to perform on 19th February 1592, was made a Groom of the Privy Chamber in that year, and that the weekly payments of his fees to Tilney, in connection with his new venture, begin at that time. Henslowe became the financial backer of this company in 1591, at which time, it shall be shown, later on, that James Burbage's fortunes were at a low ebb, and that he also was in disfavour with the authorities. Henslowe evidently was brought into the affair by Tilney's influence, the office of Groom of the Privy Chamber being a reward for his compliance. It shall be indicated that Tilney and Henslowe had probably held similar relations in connection with the[Pg 60] Queen's company, which evidently performed at the Rose under Henslowe between 1587 and 1591.

I have shown a connection between Burbage's company, i.e. the Lord Chamberlain's, and the Lord Admiral's company between 1585 and 1589, and will now inquire into the previous identity of the latter company.

A company performing under the licence of Lord Charles Howard of Effingham appears in the Court records between 1574 and 1577. Between 1581 and June 1585 there are no provincial records of any company performing under this nobleman's licence, and, until 6th January 1586, no Court records. On this latter date a company licensed by this nobleman, who was now Lord Admiral, appeared at Court working in conjunction with the Lord Chamberlain's company. The last provincial visit of Lord Howard's old company is at Ipswich in 1581. The first provincial record of his new company—the Lord Admiral's—is at Dover in June 1585, when the entry reads: "Paid unto my Lord Admiralles and my Lord Lycestors players 20 shillings." This seems to show that the new Admiral's company had joined forces with the remnant of Lord Leicester's players, the depletion of which company at this time was occasioned by the departure of seven of their members, including Kempe, Pope, and Bryan, for Denmark.

Their next recorded provincial visit is to Ipswich under date of 20th February 1586, when they are mentioned as the Lord Admiral's players. In this same year they appear at Cambridge, also as the Lord Admiral's players. On 15th November 1586 they are recorded at Coventry as having been paid twenty shillings, and immediately following, under the same date of entry, the Lord Chamberlain's men are recorded as being paid three shillings and fourpence,[Pg 61] and on 15th November 1587 they are again recorded at Coventry as receiving twenty shillings; and again, under the same date, is an entry recording the payment of five shillings "to the Lord Chamberlain's Musicians that came with the Judge at the assizes."

The juxtaposition of the entries on these records of the names of these two companies in 1586 and 1587, and their union in a performance before the Court in January 1586, shows that a combination of some sort between them was formed in 1585. Who, then, were the men that composed the Lord Admiral's company from 1585 to 1589?

In 1592, when Lord Strange's players left Burbage to perform under Henslowe at the Rose, we are assured that Edward Alleyn was the manager of the company, and, though the manager of Lord Strange's company, that he still styled himself a Lord Admiral's man. When, then, did Edward Alleyn, who is mentioned in the Leicester records in 1584 as a member of the Earl of Worcester's company, become a Lord Admiral's man and cease to perform under the licence of the Earl of Worcester? Is it not palpable that the change took place in 1585, when all records of Worcester's company cease for several years and a new Lord Admiral's company begins? The last record of a provincial performance for Worcester's company is at Barnstaple in 1585. The Court and provincial records of 1586 show that within about eight months of its inception the Lord Admiral's company worked in conjunction with Burbage's players—the Lord Chamberlain's men. That this connection continued in the case of Edward Alleyn and a few others of the Admiral's men, who were old Worcester men, and that they preserved their licensed identity through the several changes in the title of the[Pg 62] company, until they finally separated early in 1594, shall be made apparent in this history.

It is evident that Edward Alleyn's brother, John Alleyn, joined the Admiral's men at about the time of its inception, when his old company, Lord Sheffield's players, suddenly disappear from the records. Their last recorded provincial performance is in Coventry, under date of 15th November 1585, the Lord Admiral's men and the Lord Chamberlain's men being recorded there under the same date of entry. John Alleyn continued his connection with the Lord Admiral's men at least as late as July 1589, when he is mentioned as "servant to me the Lord Admiral" in a letter from the Privy Council to certain aldermen. After this he is not heard of again either in connection with Lord Strange's or the Admiral's men. He was evidently one of the discarded actors in the reorganisations of 1589-91.

Past critics, ignoring the fact that there are no records of either Court, London, or provincial performances for Worcester's company between 1585 and 1589-90, have assumed that this company was in existence during these years, and that it was disrupted and reorganised in 1589, Edward Alleyn leaving it and joining the Lord Admiral's men at that period. This inference is drawn erroneously from the following facts: first, that Richard Jones, who is recorded in 1584, in the Leicester records, as a member of Lord Worcester's company, in January 1589, sold to Edward Alleyn his share in theatrical properties, consisting of playing apparel, playbooks, instruments, etc., owned by him conjointly with Robert Brown, Edward Alleyn, and his brother, John Alleyn, all of whom are supposed to have been members of Worcester's company at that time, as Brown and Edward Alleyn are also recorded in 1584 as[Pg 63] members of that company; secondly, that John Alleyn is mentioned as a servant to the Lord Admiral later on in this year; and thirdly, that Edward Alleyn, when managing Lord Strange's company in 1593, is also mentioned as a Lord Admiral's man.

In the light of the foregoing facts and deductions it is evident that the Earl of Worcester's company, or at least a large portion of it, became the Lord Admiral's company in 1585, and that, at about the same time, they became affiliated with Burbage and the Lord Chamberlain's company. It is probable, however, that in making this change they discarded some of their old members and took on others, John Alleyn evidently joining them from Sheffield's company at that time.

The new licence they sought and secured in 1585 was evidently made necessary by the disfavour and ill repute which the ill-regulated behaviour of some of their members—whom they now discarded—had gained for them. In June 1583 the Earl of Worcester's company was refused permission to perform in Ipswich, the excuse being given that they had passed through places infected by the plague. They were, however, given a reward on their promise to leave the city, but instead of doing so they proceeded to their inn and played there. The Mayor and Court ordered that the Earl of Worcester should be notified, that this company should never again receive a reward from the city, and that they leave at once on pain of imprisonment. Though the Mayor and Court, at the entreaty of the company, agreed not to inform the Earl of their misconduct, it is not unlikely that this and similar happenings came to his knowledge, as they seem to have had little respect for municipal authorities. They were again in trouble in[Pg 64] March 1584, when they quarrelled with the Leicester authorities. Finding at their inn at Leicester the commission of the Master of the Revels' company, which in leaving Leicester three days before this company had inadvertently left behind, they appropriated it and presented it to the Leicester authorities as their own, stating that the previous company had stolen it from them. Not being believed, they were forced to produce their own licence, when they were refused permission to play, but given an angel to pay for their dinner. Later in the day, meeting the Mayor on the street, they again asked leave to play, and, being refused, abused the Mayor with "evyll and contemptuous words, and said they would play whether he wold or not," and went "in contempt of the Mayor with drum and trumpet through the town." On apologising later to the Mayor and begging him not to inform the Earl of Worcester, they secured leave to play on condition that they prefaced their performance with an apology for their misconduct and a statement that they were permitted to play only by the Mayor's goodwill.[18]

If their past reputation had been good in Leicester there seems to be no reason why they should have wished to perform under another company's licence. We may infer that these were not isolated instances of their misbehaviour, and that their change of title in 1585 was made necessary by reports of their misconduct coming to the notice of the old Earl of Worcester. No company of players is known to have acted under this nobleman's licence after 1585.

In 1589, when the process of amalgamation between the Lord Admiral's, the Lord Chamberlain's, and Lord Leicester's companies, and Lord Strange's acrobats, which resulted in[Pg 65] the formation of Lord Strange's company, was under way, discarded members of their companies, including, no doubt, some of the players of the old Worcester company, secured a licence from the new Earl of Worcester and continued to perform—though mostly as a provincial company—until 1603. Other old members, including Robert Brown—the leader of the former Worcester company—and Richard Jones, formed a new company for continental performances. Brown and others continued to make continental trips for years afterwards, while Richard Jones rejoined the Lord Admiral's men in 1594, after they and the Lord Chamberlain's men had separated.

It was plainly, then, Richard Jones' share in the stage properties of the Lord Admiral's company that Edward Alleyn bought in 1589. It is apparent that he also bought out his brother's and Robert Brown's shares, as neither of them afterwards appeared as Strange's or Admiral's men. This would give Edward Alleyn entire ownership of the properties of the Admiral's company, and, consequently, an important share in the new amalgamation.

It was on Burbage's stage, then, that this great actor between 1585 and 1589—after having spent several years touring the provinces—entered upon and established his metropolitan reputation, attaining in the latter year, at the age of twenty-three, a large, if not the largest, share in the properties and holdings, and also the management of the strongest company of players in England, as well as the reputation of being the greatest actor of the time.

It somewhat enlarges our old conception of the beginnings of Shakespeare's theatrical experiences and dramatic inspiration to know, that when he entered into relations with James Burbage, in 1586-87, and for from four to six years afterwards,[Pg 66] he had as intimate associates both Edward Alleyn and Richard Burbage; two young men of about his own age, who were already winning a good share of the notice and appreciation that later established them as the leading actors of the age. Which of them was the greater was one of the moot questions of the day eight to ten years later, when they had become the star actors of rival companies, and those the foremost two in London.

It is now pertinent to inquire as to which of these companies, if to any, Shakespeare was connected previous to the amalgamation, and also, whether or not he became a member of Lord Strange's company, along with Richard Burbage, and acted under, or wrote for, Alleyn and Henslowe between 1591 and 1594.

The suggestion which was first made by Mr. Fleay—in which he has since been followed by encyclopædists and compilers—that Shakespeare joined Lord Leicester's company upon one of its visits to Stratford-upon-Avon in 1586 or 1587, is plainly without foundation in the light of the foregoing facts, as is also his assumption that Lord Strange's company was merely a continuation of Lord Leicester's company under new patronage.

Lord Leicester's company spent the greater part of the years between 1585-86 and 1589 performing in the provinces. The records of its provincial visits outnumber all of those recorded for the other three companies concerned in the reorganisation of 1589. If Shakespeare acted at all in these early years he must have done so merely incidentally. When we bear in mind the volume and quality of his literary productions, between 1591 and 1594, it becomes evident that his novitiate in dramatic affairs in the dark years, between 1585-86 and 1592, was of a literary rather[Pg 67] than of an histrionic character, though he also acted in those years. He would have found little time for dramatic composition or study during these years had he accompanied Lord Leicester's company in their provincial peregrinations. Bearing in mind his later habit of revising earlier work it is not unlikely that some of his dramatic work, which from internal and external evidence we now date between 1591 and 1594, is rewritten or revised work originally produced before 1591.

It is palpable that Shakespeare had not been previously affiliated with Lord Strange's acrobats, nor a member of the Lord Admiral's company, and evident, in view of the above facts and deductions, as well as of his future close and continuous connection with James Burbage, that his inceptive years in London were spent in his service, working in various capacities in his business and dramatic interests. It is apparent that between 1586-87 and 1588-89 Shakespeare worked for James Burbage as a bonded and hired servant. In Henslowe's Diary there are several instances of such bonds with hired servants, and covenant servants, covering terms of years—usually from two to three—between Henslowe and men connected with the Lord Admiral's company. It shall be shown later that Nashe in his preface to Greene's Menaphon alludes to Shakespeare in this capacity.

The title of Johannes factotum, which Greene, in 1592, bestowed upon Shakespeare, as well as the term "rude groome," which he inferentially applies to him, when coupled with the tradition collected by Nicholas Rowe, his earliest biographer, who writes: "He was received into the company then in being, at first, in a very mean rank, but his admirable wit, and the natural turn of it to the stage, soon distinguished[Pg 68] him, if not as an extraordinary actor, yet as an excellent writer," all point to a business rather than to an exclusively histrionic connection with the Burbages in his earlier London years. These evidences are confirmed by the gossip of William Castle, who was parish clerk of Stratford for many years, and who was born two years before Shakespeare died, and, consequently, must have known and talked with many people who had known Shakespeare. He frequently told visitors that Shakespeare was first received in the playhouse as "a servitor." When the legal usage and business customs of that period, as exhibited in legal records and in Henslowe's Diary, are considered it becomes apparent that a youth of from twenty-one to twenty-three years of age, newly come to London, with no previous training in any particular capacity, with a bankrupt father and without means of his own, could not very well associate himself with a business concern in any other capacity than that of an indentured apprentice or bonded and hired servant. Without such a legally ratified connection with some employer, a youth of Shakespeare's poverty and social degree, and a stranger in London, would be classed before the law as a masterless man and a vagrant. The term "servitor" then does not refer to his theatrical capacity—as stated by Halliwell-Phillipps—but to his legal relations with James Burbage, his employer. Only sharers in a company were classed as "servants" to the nobleman under whose patronage they worked; the hired men were servants to the sharers, or to the theatrical owner for whom they worked.

Being connected with the Burbages between 1586-87 to 1588-89, whatever theatrical training Shakespeare may have received came undoubtedly from his association with the Lord Admiral's and Lord Hunsdon's companies, which[Pg 69] performed at the Theatre in Shoreditch as one company during these years, combining in the same manner as Strange's company and the Lord Admiral's company did, under Henslowe and Alleyn at the Rose, between 1592-94. Though in later life he was reputed to be a fair actor, he never achieved great reputation in this capacity; it was plainly not to acting that he devoted himself most seriously during these early years. Working in the capacity of handy-man or, as Greene calls him, Johannes factotum, for the Burbages, besides, possibly, taking general charge of their stabling arrangements,—as tradition asserts,—he also, no doubt, took care of the theatrical properties, which included the MSS. and players' copies of the plays owned by the company. Though Shakespeare's grammar school days ended in Stratford he took his collegiate course in Burbage's Theatre. During the leisure hours of the years of his servitorship he studied the arts as he found them in MS. plays. I shall show, later, that Robert Greene, through the pen of his coadjutor, Thomas Nashe, in an earlier attack than that of 1592, refers to Shakespeare's servitorship and to the acquisitions of knowledge he made during his idle hours. That he made good use of his time and his materials, however, is demonstrated by the fact that in the four years intervening between the end of 1590 and the end of 1594, he composed, at least, seven original plays, two long poems, and over sixty sonnets; much of this work being since and still regarded—three hundred years after its production—as a portion of the world's greatest literature.

While it is apparent, even to those critics and biographers who admit the likelihood that Shakespeare's earliest connection with theatrical affairs was with the Burbage interests, that Lord Strange's company—of which they, erroneously,[Pg 70] suppose that he still continued to be a member—ceased to perform under James Burbage in, or before, February 1592, when they began to play under Alleyn and Henslowe's management at the Rose Theatre, no previous attempt has been made to explain the reasons for Lord Strange's company's connection with Henslowe, or to account for the fact that no plays written by Shakespeare were presented by this company while they performed at the Rose Theatre, though it is very evident, and admitted by all critics, that he composed several original plays during this interval.

As it is probable that James Burbage, through his son Richard, retained some interest in Lord Strange's company during the period that it acted under Henslowe's and Alleyn's management, the question naturally arises, Why should Lord Strange's company, which was composed largely of members of Leicester's and Hunsdon's company, both of which, affiliated with the Admiral's men, had been previously associated with the Burbage interests—why should this company, having Richard Burbage in its membership, enter into business relations with Henslowe and perform for two years at the Rose Theatre instead of playing under James Burbage at the Theatre in Shoreditch in summer, and at the Crosskeys in winter, where they formerly played?

A consideration of the business affairs of James Burbage will show that the temporary severance of his business relations with Strange's men was due to legal and financial difficulties in which he became involved at this time, when strong financial backing became necessary to establish and maintain this new company, which, I have indicated, had been formed specially for Court performances. It also appears evident that he again incurred the disfavour of Lord Burghley and the authorities at this time.[Pg 71]

In the following chapter I analyse the reasons for the separation of Strange's company from Burbage at this time and give inceptive evidence that Shakespeare did not accompany Strange's men to Henslowe and the Rose, but that he remained with Burbage as the manager and principal writer for the Earl of Pembroke's company—a fact regarding his history which has not hitherto been suspected.


[10] This interesting fact, hitherto unknown, has recently been pointed out by Mrs. C.C. Stopes, Burbage and Shakespeare's Stage, London, 1913.

[11] A critical examination of the records of the English Dramatic Companies, 1558-1642, collected by Mr. John Tucker Murray, convinces me that such affiliations as those mentioned above existed between Lord Hunsdon's company and the Earl of Leicester's company from 1582-83 until 1585, and between the remnant of Leicester's company,—which remained in England when their fellows went to the Continent in 1585,—the Lord Admiral's company, and the Lord Chamberlain's company from 1585 until 1589, and following a reorganisation in that year—when the Lord Chamberlain's and Leicester's companies merged with Lord Strange's company—between this new Lord Strange's company and the Lord Admiral's company until 1591, when a further reorganisation took place, the majority of Strange's and the Admiral's men going to Henslowe and the Rose, and a portion, including Shakespeare, remaining with Burbage and reorganising in this year with accretions from the now disrupting Queen's company, including Gabriel Spencer and Humphrey Jeffes, as the Earl of Pembroke's company; John Sinkler, and possibly others from the Queen's company, evidently joined the Strange-Admiral's men at the same time. The mention of the names of these three men—two of them Pembroke's men and one a Strange's man after 1592—in the stage directions of The True Tragedy of the Duke of York, can be accounted for only by the probable fact that all three were members of the company that originally owned the play, and that this was the Queen's company is generally conceded by critics.

In order to restore their own acting strength the depleted Queen's company appears now to have formed similar affiliations with the Earl of Sussex's company, continuing the connection until 1594. In this year Strange's men (now the Lord Chamberlain's men) returned to Burbage while the Admiral's portion of the combination stayed with Henslowe as the Lord Admiral's company. These two companies now restored their full numbers by taking on men from the Earl of Pembroke's and the Earl of Sussex's companies; both of which now cease to work as independent companies, though the portion of Pembroke's men that returned to Henslowe, including Spencer and Jeffes, appear to have retained their own licensed identity until 1597, when several of them definitely joined Henslowe as Admiral men. Some Pembroke's and Sussex's men, not taken by Burbage or Henslowe in 1594, evidently joined the Queen's company at that time. Henslowe financed his brother Francis Henslowe in the purchase of a share in the Queen's company at about this time.

[12] Queen Elizabeth and Her Times, by Thomas Wright, 1838.

[13] Sir Sidney Lee, who as a rule follows Halliwell-Phillipps implicitly, in A Life of William Shakespeare, p. 59, writes: "James Burbage, in spite of pecuniary embarrassments, remained manager and owner of the Theatre for twenty-one years"; but in a footnote on p. 52, writes: "During 1584 an unnamed person, vaguely described as 'the owner of the Theatre,' claimed that he was under Lord Hunsdon's protection; the reference is probably to one John Hyde, to whom the Theatre was mortgaged." There is surely nothing vague in the expression "owner of the Theatre," especially when we remember that it was used by an important legal functionary in one of his weekly reports to Lord Treasurer Burghley. Recorder Fleetwood was a very exact and legal-minded official, and in using the term "the owner" he undoubtedly meant the owner and, it may be implied from the context, also the manager. Burbage was clearly manager and owner of the Theatre at this period.

[14] This Browne was in all probability the notorious Ned Browne of whom Robert Greene wrote in 1592, The Blacke Bookes Messenger, "Laying open the life and death of Ned Browne one of the worst cutpurses, crosbiters, and conycatchers that ever lived in England. Herein he tells verie pleasantly in his owne person such strange pranks and monstrous villanies by him and his consorts performed as the like was yet never heard of in any of the former bookes of conycatching, etc. By R.G. Printed at London by John Danter for Thomas Nelson, dwelling in Silver Street, neere to the sign of the Red Crosse, 1592, Quarto." Fleetwood writes later of Browne: "This Browne is a common cousener, a thief and a horse stealer and colloureth all his doings here about this town with a sute that he hath in the lawe against a brother of his in Staffordshire. He resteth now in Newgate."

[15] English Dramatic Companies, by John Tucker Murray, vol. i. p. 201.

[16] That Tarleton was a member of the Queen's company in 1588 is shown by a reference in his will, which is dated in this year, to "my fellow, William Johnson."

[17] Previous to the affiliations between Strange's tumblers and the Lord Admiral's company they seem to have maintained intermittent relations with the Queen's company, and are sometimes mentioned as the Queen's tumblers.

[18] English Dramatic Companies, 1558-1642, p. 43, by John Tucker Murray.



Almost from the time he first began to operate the Shoreditch Theatre in 1576, until his death in 1597, James Burbage had trouble from one source or another regarding his venture. Both the Theatre, and the Curtain at Shoreditch, seem to have been particularly obnoxious to the puritanical element among the local authorities, who made numerous attempts to have both theatres suppressed. There were long intervals during the term of Burbage's lease of the Theatre when, owing to various causes, both the Theatre and the Curtain were closed. Among the causes were—the prevalence of the plague, alleged rioting, and the performance of plays which infringed the law prohibiting the presentation of matters of Church and State upon the stage. Burbage's Theatre came into disfavour with the authorities in 1589 owing to the performance there of plays relating to the Martin Marprelate controversy; and that it was the combined Strange's and Admiral's company that was concerned in these performances, and not the Queen's, as is usually supposed, is evident from the fact that in November, when they moved to their winter quarters in the City at the Crosskeys, the Lord Mayor, John Hart, under instructions[Pg 73] from Lord Burghley, issued orders prohibiting them from performing in the City. It is not unlikely that their connection with the Martin Marprelate affair earlier in the year at the Theatre, and their deliberate defiance of the Mayor's orders in performing at the Crosskeys on the afternoon of the day the prohibition was issued, delayed the full measure of Court favour presaged for them by their recent drastic—and evidently officially encouraged—reorganisation. When they performed at Court in the Christmas seasons of 1589-90 and 1590-91, they did so as the Lord Admiral's men; and in the latter instance, while the Acts of the Privy Council credit the performance to the Admiral's, the Pipe Rolls assign it to Strange's men.[19] Seeing that the Admiral's men had submitted dutifully to the Mayor's orders, and that Lord Strange's men—two of whom had been committed to the Counter for their contempt—were again called before the Mayor and forbidden to play, the company's reason for performing at Court at this period as the Lord Admiral's men is plainly apparent. It is not unlikely that their transfer to Henslowe's financial management became necessary because of Burbage's continued disfavour with Lord Burghley and the City authorities, as well as his financial inability adequately to provide for the needs of the new Court company, in 1591. In the defiance of Burghley's and the Mayor's orders by the Burbage portion of the company, and the subservience of the Alleyn element at this time, is foreshadowed their future political bias as independent companies. From the time of their separation in 1594 until the death of Elizabeth, the Lord Admiral's company represented the Cecil-Howard, and Burbage's company the Essex factional and political interests in their covert stage polemics.[Pg 74] Shakespeare's friendship and intimacy with Essex's fidus Achates, the Earl of Southampton, between 1591 and 1601, served materially to accentuate the pro-Essex leanings of his company. This phase of Shakespeare's theatrical career has not been investigated by past critics, though Fleay, Simpson, and Feis recognise the critical and biographical importance of such an inquiry, while the compilers do not even suspect that such a phase existed.

While the Curtain seems to have escaped trouble arising from its lease and its ownership, the Theatre came in for more than its share. The comparative freedom of the Curtain from the interference and persecution of the local authorities in these years was evidently due to the fact that it was the recognised summer home of the Queen's company between 1584 and 1591. It is evident that during the winter months the Queen's company performed at the Rose between 1587—when this theatre was erected—and the end of 1590; it was superseded at Court by Lord Strange's company at the end of 1591, and was disrupted during this year—a portion of them continuing under the two Duttons, as the Queen's men. The Rose, being the most important, centrally located, theatre available for winter performances during these years, would naturally be used by the leading Court company. It is significant that Lord Strange's company commenced to play there when they finally supplanted the Queen's company at Court. It is probable that they played there also before it was reconstructed during 1591.

The large number of old plays formerly owned by the Queen's company, which came into the hands of the companies associated with Henslowe and Burbage at this time, suggests that they bought them from Henslowe, who[Pg 75] had retained them, and probably other properties, in payment for money owed him by the Queen's company which, having been several years affiliated with him at the Rose, would be likely to have a similar financial experience to that of the Lord Admiral's men, who, as shown by the Diary, got deeply into his debt between 1594 and 1598. The Queen's company was plainly not in a prosperous financial condition in 1591. It is apparent also that some Queen's men joined Strange's, and Pembroke's men at this time bringing some of these plays with them as properties.

In building the Theatre, in 1576, Burbage had taken his brother-in-law, one John Brayne, into partnership, agreeing to give him a half-interest upon certain terms which Brayne apparently failed to meet. Brayne, however, claimed a moiety and engaged in a lawsuit with Burbage which dragged along until his death, when his heirs continued the litigation. Giles Allen, the landlord from whom Burbage leased the land on which he had built the Theatre, evidently a somewhat sharp and grasping individual, failed to live up to the terms of his lease which he had agreed to extend, provided that Burbage expended a certain amount of money upon improvements. There was constant bickering between Allen and Burbage regarding this matter, which also eventuated in a lawsuit that was carried on by Cuthbert and Richard Burbage after their father's death in 1597. Added to these numerous irritations, came further trouble from a most unlooked-for source. In 1581, Edmund Peckham, son of Sir George Peckham, on the most shadowy and far-fetched grounds, questioned the validity of Giles Allen's title to the land he had leased to Burbage, and not only entered a legal claim upon it, but found a jury to agree with him. This suit also continued for years.[Pg 76]

In Burbage and Shakespeare's Stage, which is the best account yet written of Burbage and his affairs, Mrs. Stopes evidently gives all available details regarding his legal embarrassments. Mrs. Stopes' account makes it clear that by the year 1591, James Burbage could not have amassed much wealth in the practice of his profession, though we may infer that he had enriched a number of lawyers. In the legal records examined by Mrs. Stopes, I learn that upon 10th January 1591 an attachment on the Theatre was awarded against Burbage for contempt of court on the plea of one Robert Miles, and though several attempts were made in the meantime to have the matter adjudicated, that the attachment was still in force in November 1591; there is apparently no record as to when and how the matter was finally settled and the attachment lifted. It evidently held three months later when Lord Strange's company commenced to perform under Henslowe at the Rose, or at least as late as December and January 1591-92, in which months Henslowe repaired and enlarged the Rose in anticipation of the coming of Strange's company. I have reason to believe that some settlement was made regarding the attachment upon Burbage's Theatre early in 1592, and that the Earl of Pembroke's company played there when in London from that time until we lose sight of them late in 1593. In the spring of 1594 their membership and properties were absorbed by the Lord Admiral's company and Lord Strange's company, most of the properties they had in the way of plays going to the latter.

The Rose Theatre was first erected in 1587. By the year 1592, when Lord Strange's players commenced to appear there, it evidently needed to be repaired and enlarged. Between the 7th of March and the end of April 1592,[Pg 77] Henslowe paid out over £100 for these repairs; the work paid for having been done in the few months preceding 19th February 1592, when Lord Strange's company commenced to perform there.

Henslowe was much too careful a business man to invest the large sum of money in the enlargement and repair of the Rose Theatre, which he did at this time, without the assurance of a profitable return. When his other business transactions, as shown in his Diary, are considered it becomes apparent that in undertaking this expenditure he would stipulate for the use of his house by Lord Strange's men for a settled period, probably of, at least, two years, and that Edward Alleyn, who was the manager of Lord Strange's men at this time, and continued to be their manager for the next two years,—though still remaining the Lord Admiral's man,—was Henslowe's business representative in the company. Alleyn married Henslowe's stepdaughter in October, this year, and continued to be his business associate until Henslowe's death, when, through his wife, he became his heir. Lord Strange's company, under this and the later title of the Lord Chamberlain's men, continued to perform at theatres owned or operated by Henslowe, and probably also under Alleyn's management, until the spring of 1594, when it appears that they returned to Burbage and resumed performances, as in 1589-91, at the Theatre in Shoreditch in summer, and at the Crosskeys in winter.

The assumption that Shakespeare was a member of Lord Strange's company while it was with Henslowe, is based upon three things: first, the undoubted fact that his close friend and coadjutor, Richard Burbage, was one of the leading members of the company at that time; secondly, that The First Part of Henry VI., in an early form, was presented[Pg 78] as a revised play by Lord Strange's men at the Rose, upon 3rd March 1592, and upon several subsequent occasions while they were with Henslowe; thirdly, an alleged reference to Shakespeare's name in Peele's Edward I., which was owned by the Lord Admiral's players after 1594, and presumably written for them when Shakespeare acted with the company before 1592. Let us examine these things in order.

At first sight it is a plausible inference, in view of Shakespeare's earlier, and later, connection with the Burbages, that he should continue to be associated with Richard Burbage during these two years. When the reason for the formation of Lord Strange's company is remembered, however, it becomes clear that Richard Burbage would be a member for the very reason that Shakespeare would not. The intention in the formation of this company being to secure an organisation of the best actors for the services of the Court, it is evident that Richard Burbage—who even at this early date was one of the leading actors in London—would be chosen. Shakespeare never at any time attained distinction as an actor.

The presentation of Henry VI., Part I., by Lord Strange's players, as a reason for Shakespeare's membership, infers that he was the author of this play, or, at least, its reviser in 1592, and that the Talbot scenes are his. This, consequently, implies that Nashe's commendatory references to these scenes were complimentary to work of Shakespeare's in 1592. It is evident that the play of Henry VI., acted by Lord Strange's men in March 1592, and commended by Nashe, was much the same play as Henry VI., Part I., included in all editions of Shakespeare. Textual criticism has long since proved, however, that this was not a new[Pg 79] play in 1592—though marked "ne" by Henslowe—but merely a revision. Three hands are distinctly traceable in it; the unknown original author who wrote the opening lines:

"Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night!
Comets, importing change of times and states,
Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky,
And with them scourge the bad revolting stars
That have consented unto Henry's death!"

Whoever wrote these lines, it is very palpable that Shakespeare did not. The second hand in the play was the reviser of 1592 who introduced the Talbot passages. There cannot be the slightest doubt that this was George Peele, who in 1592, and for some time before and later, was the principal producer and reviser of plays for the Lord Admiral's company. The classical allusions in the Talbot scenes, and the manner in which they are always lugged in by the ear, as though for adornment, plainly proclaim the hand of Peele, and as plainly disassociate Shakespeare from their composition. The third hand is clearly Shakespeare's. The "Temple Garden" scene has been accepted by practically all critics as unquestionably his work; it is not the work, either, of his "pupil pen." His revision was evidently not made until 1594, when the Lord Chamberlain's company brought the MS. with them as a portion of their properties, upon their return to Burbage. The references to red and white roses, as the badges of Lancaster and York, were evidently then introduced by Shakespeare in order to link together, and give dramatic continuity to, the whole historical series connected with the Wars of the Roses, upon which he had already worked, or was then working for his company. There is not a single classical allusion in the "Temple Garden"[Pg 80] scene, while there are twenty-seven classical allusions in the whole play: eight of them being in the Talbot passages. In Shakespeare's Richard II.—which I shall give good evidence was written within about a year of the time that Henry VI. was presented as a new play—there are two classical allusions. In any authentic play by Marlowe, Greene, or Peele of an equal length there will be found from forty to eighty classical allusions, besides, as a rule, a number of Latin quotations. In revising the first part of Henry VI. in, or after, 1594, it is evident that Shakespeare eliminated many classical allusions, and that in the early work which he did upon The Contention, and also in his final revision of The Contention, into the second and third parts of Henry VI., he eliminated classical allusions, reducing the average in these plays to from thirty to thirty-five. In his own acknowledged historical plays, Richard II., King John, Richard III., Henry IV., and Henry V., there is not an average of six classical allusions.

When the settled animus which Nashe, in conjunction with Greene, between 1589-92, displays against Shakespeare is better understood, the utter improbability of his referring to Shakespeare's work in a laudatory manner in the latter year shall readily be seen. When, also, the high praise which Nashe bestows upon Peele in the same publications in which he attacks Shakespeare is noted, it becomes evident that he again intends to commend Peele in his complimentary allusion to the Talbot scenes. Peele was the principal writer and reviser for Henslowe at this period, while not one of Shakespeare's plays is mentioned in his whole Diary.

While I believe that the reference to Shakespeare's name in Edward I.—which was first noticed by Mr. Fleay[Pg 81]—was actually intended by Peele, the passage in which it occurs pertains to an early form of the play, which was old when it was published in 1593. It was written by Peele for the Lord Admiral's company before their conjunction with Strange's men under Henslowe, and at the time when they acted with Lord Hunsdon's company at the Theatre in Shoreditch in summer, and at the Crosskeys in the winter. It is significant that this play was not acted by Lord Strange's men during their tenure of the Rose Theatre, and that in 1595, after they had separated from Henslowe, it was revised and presented as a new play by the Lord Admiral's company. It is quite likely that it was the property of Pembroke's company in 1592-93. The allusion to Shakespeare in this play is probably the first evidence we possess of the well-authenticated fact that as an actor he usually appeared in kingly parts. It is recorded of him that he played the part of the ghost in Hamlet, and his friend, John Davies, the poet, writes in 1603:

"Some say, good Will, which I in sport do sing,
Hadst thou not played some kingly parts in sport,
Thou hadst been a companion for a King."

The reference to his name by Peele in Edward I., in which play Shakespeare evidently took the part of John Baliol, the Scottish King, is as follows:

"Shine with thy golden head,
Shake thy speare, in honour of his name,
Under whose royalty thou wear'st the same."

Against the assumption that Shakespeare acted with Lord Strange's company under Alleyn and Henslowe for two years, there is some positive, and much inferential, evidence, the strongest of the latter being that between[Pg 82] the end of 1590 and the middle of 1594, at about which latter date the Lord Chamberlain's company parted from Henslowe, Shakespeare produced,—as I shall later demonstrate,—in addition to Venus and Adonis, Lucrece, and nearly half of the whole body of his Sonnets, at least seven new plays, not one of which was performed at the Rose by Lord Strange's company. The remainder of the evidence against this assumption shall develop in this history.

We may infer that Henslowe in entering into business relations with Lord Strange's company would make quite as binding a contract with them as we find him making a few years later with the Lord Admiral's men. In those contracts he binds the players to play at the Rose and "at no other house publicly about London"; further stipulating that should the London theatres be closed by the authorities for any reason "then to go for the time into the country, then to return again to London."

The fact that his manager, and son-in-law, Edward Alleyn, accompanied Lord Strange's men upon their provincial tour in 1593, when, owing to the plague, the London theatres were closed by order of the Council, implies a similar understanding with this company.

The words "in any other house publicly about London" in Henslowe's contracts with players apparently infer that they retained the right of giving private and Court performances upon their own account and for their own profit. The money they received for Court performances appears to have belonged exclusively to the players, as the total amount collected by them is at times turned over to Henslowe in part payment of their corporate indebtedness to him, and credited to them in full. Had Henslowe shared in these payments his portion would have been deducted[Pg 83] from the credits. It is evident that he was merely the financial backer of, and not a sharer in, this company.

In the apparently comprehensive list of the members of Lord Strange's company—as it existed early in 1592—which was owned by Edward Alleyn and is now preserved at Dulwich College, while Pope and Bryan, who came from Leicester's company, and Richard Burbage and others, no doubt, who came from Lord Hunsdon's company are mentioned, Shakespeare's name does not appear. There is no reason why he should not have been mentioned in this list had he been a member of the company at that time. About three years later, when Strange's men had separated from Henslowe and the Admiral's men, and returned to Burbage, Shakespeare is mentioned, with William Kempe and Richard Burbage, in the Court records as receiving payment for Court performances, from which we may infer that he was regarded as one of the leading members of, and was also a sharer in, the company at this time.

Where, then, was Shakespeare during the period of Henslowe's management? What company of players performed in the plays he produced between about the end of 1590 and the middle of 1594, which are—The Comedy of Errors, Love's Labour's Lost, Love's Labour's Won, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, King John, Richard II., Richard III., and Midsummer Night's Dream? Later on I shall advance conclusive evidence to prove that all of these plays were written in this interval, though most of them were materially revised in later years.

In order to answer these questions it will be advisable to revert to a consideration of the drastic changes which took place between the end of 1588 and the beginning of 1592, in[Pg 84] the comparative standing, as well as in the personnel, of several of the most prominent companies of players. I have shown that early in 1589 a union took place between the leading members of Lord Strange's tumblers, the Lord Admiral's, the Lord Chamberlain's, and the Earl of Leicester's men. If an average of only three men were taken from each of these companies—forming a company of twelve players, which was then regarded as a large company—it would necessarily leave a considerable number of men free to make new connections, as three of the companies involved in the changes disappear from the records at that time. Thereafter we hear no more of Lord Strange's tumblers, nor of Lord Leicester's, nor Lord Hunsdon's players. It is not unlikely, then, that while some of the players discarded from the three companies that had gone out of existence would drift into different existing companies, that some of them would unite to form a new company. The disruption of the Queen's company in 1590-91 would also leave some men at large. As most of these men had been previously connected with well-known companies, which performed principally in London, it is likely that they would endeavour to continue as London performers instead of forming a provincial company.

That such a company for London performances was actually formed some time in 1591 is evident in the appearance of a company—hitherto unheard of for sixteen years—under the patronage of the Earl of Pembroke. Between the years 1576 and 1592 there is no mention of a company acting under this nobleman's licence in either the provincial or Court records, nor is there any mention of, or reference to, such a company in any London records.

All we know about this new company is that record of it[Pg 85] appeared for the first time in December 1592, when it played twice before the Court; that it returned to London in the early autumn of 1593 after a disastrous tour in the provinces, being compelled to pawn a portion of its properties to pay expenses; that Marlowe wrote Edward II. for it in about 1593; that The True Tragedy of the Duke of York was one of its properties, and that Shakespeare was connected with either the revision or the theatrical presentation of this play at the period that it belonged to Pembroke's company, i.e. in 1592, as he is attacked by Greene on that score at this time.

Owing to the prevalence of the plague in London in 1593, and early in 1594, the public performance of plays was prohibited. The Earl of Pembroke's company, which had failed to make its expenses travelling, and which was not allowed to play in London on account of the plague, evidently disrupted in the spring or summer of 1594; and as some of its members joined Henslowe at this time and some of the properties came to the Burbage organisation, we may infer that they were brought as properties by men who came from Pembroke's company to Burbage.

Edward Alleyn, who toured the provinces in the summer of 1593 with Lord Strange's company, and for the same reason that Pembroke's toured at this time, i.e. owing to the plague in London, wrote to Henslowe in September 1593, from the country, inquiring as to the whereabouts of Pembroke's company, and was told by Henslowe that they had returned to London five or six weeks before, as they could not make their charges travelling. He further informed him that he had heard that they were compelled to pawn their apparel. The fact that the fortunes of Pembroke's company should be a matter of interest to Alleyn and Henslowe appears to imply that it was a new theatrical[Pg 86] venture of some importance, and that it probably had in its membership some of the Admiral's, Strange's, or Queen's company's old players. That a new company should play twice before the Court, in what was evidently the first or second year of its existence, speaks well for the influence of its management and for the quality of its plays and performances. After this mention of Pembroke's company in Henslowe's letter to Alleyn in September 1593, we hear nothing further concerning it as an independent company until 1597. At that time Gabriel Spencer and Humphrey Jeffes, who were evidently Pembroke's men in 1592-93, became members of, and sharers in, the Lord Admiral's company, with which they had evidently worked—though under Pembroke's licence—between 1594 and 1597.

It is now agreed by critics that the Admiral's and Chamberlain's men, who had been united under Alleyn for the past two years, divided their forces and fortunes in June 1594, or earlier. It is evident that some of Pembroke's company's plays were absorbed by the Lord Chamberlain's company, and that a few of the Pembroke men joined the Lord Admiral's company at this time. As evidence of the absorption of the plays of Pembroke's men by Lord Strange's players is the fact that between 3rd and 13th June 1594, when Strange's players acted under Henslowe for the last time, three of the seven plays they then presented,—Hamlet, Andronicus, and The Taming of a Shrew,—while all old plays, were new to the repertory of Strange's company presented upon Henslowe's stages, and furthermore, that all three of these plays were rewritten—or alleged to have been rewritten—by Shakespeare. At about the same time that Pembroke's company ceased to exist the Earl of Sussex's company, which had recently played for Henslowe, was also[Pg 87] disrupted. It is evident that some of these men joined the Lord Admiral's and the Lord Chamberlain's companies also, and that in this manner the Lord Chamberlain's company secured Andronicus, which had lately been played by the Earl of Sussex's men as well as by Pembroke's men.

Humphrey Jeffes and Gabriel Spencer, whose names are mentioned in The True Tragedy of the Duke of York, which was played by Pembroke's company in 1592-93, and who, we may therefore infer, were members of Pembroke's company in those years, or else were members of the company that previously owned this play, are mentioned as playing with the Lord Admiral's company as Pembroke's men in 1597. The name of John Sinkler, who is mentioned as one of Lord Strange's men in Edward Alleyn's list, which evidently represents the company as it appeared in the first performance of Four Plays in One at the Rose Theatre upon 6th March 1592, also appears with that of Gabriel Spencer and Humphrey Jeffes in The True Tragedy of the Duke of York. From this we may infer either that Sinkler left Strange's company and joined Pembroke's men after this date, or else that he, Spencer, and Jeffes, before 1592, were members of the company that originally owned the play. It is very evident that the originals of the three parts of Henry VI. were old plays composed at about the time of the Spanish Armada, and, it is generally agreed, for the Queen's company. As The True Tragedy of the Duke of York—in common with Hamlet and The Taming of a Shrew—was also later revised or rewritten by Shakespeare, into the play now known as Henry VI., Part III., it evidently came from Pembroke's company to Lord Strange's company, along with Hamlet and The Taming of a Shrew in 1594. Later on I shall adduce evidence showing that The Taming of a Shrew and Hamlet[Pg 88] were owned and acted by a company, or companies, associated with the Burbage interests previous to the amalgamation of 1589, and that The True Tragedy of the Duke of York, which was an old play in 1592, probably originally written by Greene, was revised in that year by Marlowe and Shakespeare for Pembroke's company, and that its final change into the play now known as Henry VI., Part III., was made by Shakespeare in, or after, 1594, when he rejoined the Lord Chamberlain's company.

Within a year of the time that Marlowe, with Shakespeare, revised The True Tragedy of the Duke of York for Pembroke's men in 1592, Marlowe also wrote Edward II. for this company, Shakespeare producing Richard II. for the company at the same time. The friendly co-operation between Shakespeare and Marlowe, which I shall show commenced in 1588-89, and which aroused Greene's jealousy at that time, was evidently continued until the death of Marlowe in June 1593. It is in the historical plays composed or revised between 1591-93 by Shakespeare that Marlowe's influence is most apparent, as also is Shakespeare's influence upon Marlowe in his one play which we know was produced at the same period. Edward II. is much more Shakespearean in character than any other of Marlowe's plays. It is evident that their close association at this time reacted favourably upon the work of each of them.

The deductions I draw from these and other facts and inferences still to be developed, is, that shortly after the Lord Admiral's and Lord Strange's men passed under Alleyn's and Henslowe's management, some time between Christmas 1590 and Christmas 1591, Shakespeare formed Lord Pembroke's company, becoming its leader and also its[Pg 89] principal producer of plays, and that it was through his influence and the reputation that certain of his early plays had already attained in Court circles that this new company was enabled to appear twice before the Court in the Christmas season of 1592. To demonstrate this hypothesis it will be necessary to revert to a consideration of Shakespeare's status in theatrical affairs between 1588-89 and 1594.


[19] E.K. Chambers in Modern Language Review, Oct. 1906.




In considering the conditions of Shakespeare's life at the beginning of his career in London, and his application to the College of Heralds for a grant of arms in 1596, it must be borne in mind that social distinctions and class gradations at that time still retained much of their feudal significance. At that period an actor, unless protected by the licence of a nobleman or gentleman, was virtually a vagrant before the law, while felonies committed by scholars were still clergyable. When Ben Jonson was indicted for killing Gabriel Spencer in 1598, he pleaded and received benefit of clergy, his only legal punishment consisting in having the inside of his thumb branded with the Tyburn "T," and it is unlikely that even this was inflicted.

While a university degree thus enhanced both the social and legal status of sons of yeomen and tradesmen, the sons of equally reputable people who became actors were correspondingly debased both socially and legally.

Though the established status which the actors' profession attained during Shakespeare's connection with the stage—and largely through his elevating influence—made these legal disabilities of an actor a dead letter, it still continued to militate against the social standing of its members. John[Pg 91] Davies leaves record that at the accession of James I. it was gossiped that Shakespeare, had he not formerly been an actor, instead of being appointed Groom of the Privy Chamber, might have received the higher appointment of Gentleman of the Privy Chamber. This idea owed its birth to Shakespeare's friendship with the Earl of Southampton, whose influence in the early days of the new Court—when he himself stood high in favour—secured the office for his other protégé, John Florio, one of the gentlemen by the grace of a university degree who joined issue with the "university pens" against Shakespeare, and who in consequence—as I shall later demonstrate—shall be pilloried to far-distant ages in the character of Sir John Falstaff. Though Shakespeare had acquired a legal badge of gentility with his coat of arms in 1599, the histrionic taint—according to Davies—proved a bar to his official promotion.

"Some say, good Will, which I in sport do sing,
Hadst thou not played some kingly parts in sport,
Thou hadst been a companion to a King
And been a King among the meaner sort."

Arrogance towards social inferiors, as well as servility to superiors, is always manifested most offensively in the manners of those who are themselves conscious of equivocal social standing. I shall adduce evidence to prove that from the time we first begin dimly to apprehend Shakespeare in his London environment, in 1588-89, until his final return to Stratford in about 1610, he was continuously and spitefully attacked and vilified by a coterie of jealous scholars who, while lifted above him socially by the arbitrary value attaching to a university degree, were in no other sense his superiors either in birth or breeding. It was evidently, then, the contemptuous attitude of his jealous scholastic rivals, as[Pg 92] well as the accruing material advantages involved, that impelled Shakespeare in 1596 to apply, through his father, to the College of Heralds for official confirmation of a grant of arms alleged to have been made to his forebears.

Shakespeare's earliest scholastic detractor was Robert Greene, who evidently set much store by his acquired gentility, as he usually signed his publications as "By Robert Greene, Master of Arts in Cambridge," and who, withal, was a most licentious and unprincipled libertine, going, through his ill-regulated course of life, dishonoured and unwept to a pauper's grave at the age of thirty-two. After the death of Greene, when his memory was assailed by Gabriel Harvey and others whom he had offended, his friend Nashe, who attempted to defend him, finding it difficult to do so, makes up for the lameness of his defence by the bitterness of his attack on Harvey. Nashe, in fact, resents being regarded as an intimate of Greene's, yet his, and Greene's, spiteful and ill-bred reflections upon Shakespeare's social quality, education, and personal appearance, between 1589 and 1592, were received sympathetically by the remainder of the "gentlemen poets,"—as they styled themselves in contradistinction to the stage poets,—and used thereafter for years as a keynote to their own jealous abuse of him.

John Florio, in his First Fruites, published in 1591, and after he had entered the service of the Earl of Southampton, though not yet assailing Shakespeare personally, as did these other scholars, appears as a critic of his historical dramatic work.

In 1593 George Peele, in his Honour of the Garter, re-echoes the slurs against Shakespeare voiced by Greene in the previous year. In the same year George Chapman,[Pg 93] who thereafterwards proved to be Shakespeare's arch-enemy among the "gentlemen scholars," caricatures him and his affairs in a new play, which he revised, in conjunction with John Marston, six years later, under the title of Histriomastix, or The Player Whipt. Neither the authorship, date of production, nor satirical intention of the early form of the play has previously been known.

In 1594 Chapman again attacks Shakespeare in The Hymns to the Shadow of Night, as well as in the prose dedication written to his colleague, Matthew Roydon. In the same year Roydon enters the lists against Shakespeare by publishing a satirical and scandalous poem reflecting upon, and distorting, his private affairs, entitled Willobie his Avisa. From this time onward until the year 1609-10, Chapman, Roydon, and John Florio—who in the meantime had joined issue with them—continue to attack and vilify Shakespeare. Every reissue, or attempted reissue, of Willobie his Avisa was intended as an attack upon Shakespeare. Such reissues were made or attempted in 1596-1599-1605 and 1609, though some of them were prevented by the action of the public censor who, we have record, condemned the issue of 1596 and prevented the issue of 1599. As no copies of the 1605 or 1609 issues are now extant, it is probable that they also were estopped by the authorities. In 1598-99 these partisans (Chapman, Roydon, and Florio) are joined by John Marston, and a year later, also by Ben Jonson, when, for three or four years, Chapman, Jonson, and Marston collaborate in scurrilous plays against Shakespeare and friends who had now rallied to his side. In about 1598 Thomas Dekker and Henry Chettle joined sides with Shakespeare and answered his opponents' attacks by satirising them in plays. John Florio, while not partici[Pg 94]pating in the dramatic warfare, attacks Shakespeare viciously in the dedication to his Worlde of Wordes, in 1598, and comes in for his share of the satirical chastisement which Shakespeare, Dekker, and Chettle administer to them in acted, as well as in published, plays.

As Ben Jonson's dramatic reputation became assured the heat of his rivalry against Shakespeare died down; his vision cleared and broadened and he, more plainly than any writer of his time, or possibly since his time, realised Shakespeare in his true proportions. Jonson, in time, tires of Chapman's everlasting envy and misanthropy, and quarrels with him and in turn becomes the object of Chapman's invectives. After Shakespeare's death Jonson made amends for his past ill-usage by defending his memory against Chapman, who, even then, continued to belittle his reputation.

While various critics have from time to time apprehended a critical attitude upon the part of certain contemporary writers towards Shakespeare, they have usually regarded such indications as they may have noticed, merely as passing and temporary ebullitions, but no conception of the bitterness and continuity of the hostility which actually existed has previously been realised. Much of the evidence of the early antagonism of Greene and Nashe to Shakespeare has been entirely misunderstood, while their reflections against other dramatists and actors are supposed to have been directed against him. Past critics have been utterly oblivious of the fact that Florio, Roydon, and Chapman and others colluded for many years in active hostility to Shakespeare.

In publications issued between 1585 and 1592 Robert Greene vents his displeasure against various dramatic[Pg 95] writers whose plays had proved more popular than his, as well as against the companies of actors, their managers, and the theatre that favoured his rivals. The writers and actor-managers whom he attacks have been variously identified by past writers. Mr. Richard Simpson, one of the most acute, ingenious, and painstaking pioneers in Shakespearean research, whose School of Shakespeare was issued after his death in 1878, supposed that all of Greene's attacks in these years, including those in which his friend, Thomas Nashe, collaborated with him, were directed against Shakespeare and Marlowe. Since Mr. Simpson wrote, however, now over forty years ago, some new light has been thrown upon the theatrical companies, and their connection with the writers of the period with which he dealt, which negatives many of his conclusions. While it is evident that Greene was jealous of, and casts reflections upon, Marlowe, to whom he refers as "Merlin" and "the athiest Tamburlaine," Mr. Fleay has since proved that several of Greene's veiled reflections were directed against others. Mr. Fleay's suggestion that Robert Wilson was the Roscius so frequently referred to by Greene and Nashe is, however, based upon incorrect inference, though he proves by several characteristic parallels, which he adduces between lines in The Three Ladies of London, The Three Lords and Three Ladies, and Fair Em,—the last of which is satirically alluded to by Greene in his Farewell to Folly, in 1591,—that they were all three either written, or revised, by the same hand. While his ascription of the composition of the first two of these plays to Wilson is probably also correct, his assumption that Wilson was a writer and an actor for Lord Strange's company in 1591 was due to lack of collected and compiled records concerning the Elizabethan companies of[Pg 96] players at the time he wrote, which have since been made available.[20]

There is nothing whatever known of Robert Wilson after 1583, when he is mentioned, along with Tarleton, as being selected by Tilney, the Master of the Revels, for the Queen's company. In an appended note I analyse the literary evidence upon which Mr. Fleay associates Robert Wilson with Strange's company[Pg 97] in 1589-91.[21]

Robert Wilson must have been passé as an actor in 1589, if indeed he was then living, while Strange's company was composed of younger and rising men, all recently selected for their histrionic abilities from several companies, amongst[Pg 98] which, it appears evident, the Queen's company was not then included, though it is likely that in 1591 some Queen's men joined Strange's company. That Robert Wilson was not the Roscius referred to by Greene and Nashe in 1589 and 1590 a further examination of the evidence will fully verify.

The person indicated as Roscius by Nashe in his Address to Greene's Menaphon in 1589, and in Greene's Never Too Late in 1590, was the leading actor of a new company that was then gaining great reputation, which, however, was largely due—according to Nashe—to the pre-eminent excellence of this Roscius' acting. The pride and conceit of this actor had risen to such a pitch, Nashe informs us in his Anatomy of Absurdity (1589), that he had the "temerity to encounter with those on whose shoulders all arts do lean." This last is a plain reference to George Peele, whom he had recently described in his Menaphon "Address" as "The Atlas of Poetry." In the following year Greene refers to the same encounter in the first part of his Never Too Late. Pretending to describe theatrical conditions in Rome, he again attacks the London players and brings in Roscius—who without doubt was Edward Alleyn—as contending with Tully, who is Peele. "Among whom," he writes, "in the days of Tully, one Roscius grew to be of such exquisite perfection in his faculty that he offered to contend with the orators of that time in gesture as they did in eloquence, boasting that he would express a passion in as many sundry actions as Tully could discourse it in a variety of phrases. Yet so proud he grew by the daily applause of the people that he looked for honour or reverence to be done him in the streets, which conceit when Tully entered into with a piercing insight, he quipped it in this manner:[Pg 99]

"It chanced that Roscius and he met at dinner both guests unto Archias, the poet, when the proud comedian dared to make comparison with Tully. Why Roscius art thou proud with Æsop's crow, being prankt with the glory of others' feathers? Of thyself thou canst say nothing and if the cobbler hath taught thee to say Ave Cæsar disdain not thy tutor because thou pratest in a King's chamber. What sentence thou utterest on the stage flows from the censure of our wits, and what sentence or conceit the people applaud for excellence, that comes from the secrets of our knowledge. I grant your acting, though it be a kind of mechanical labour, yet well done, 'tis worthy of praise, but you worthless if for so small a toy you wax proud."

Here again Tully is Peele, and Greene is merely describing more fully the alleged encounter between Alleyn and Peele, mentioned by Nashe the year before in The Anatomy of Absurdity.

Though it has never been noticed before, in this connection, we possess in Edward Alleyn's own papers preserved at Dulwich College a remarkable confirmation of this emulation, which, however, Greene and Nashe distort to the prejudice of Alleyn, who, as shall be shown, was innocent in the affair. The whole thing arose from admirers of Alleyn's among the theatre-frequenting gentry offering wagers to friends who championed Peele in order to provide after-dinner entertainment for themselves, by putting the poet and the player on their mettle in "expressing a passion"—the one in action and the other in phrases. Alleyn refused the contest "for fear of hurting Peele's credit," but gossip of the proposed wager got abroad and was distorted by the scholars, who affected to be insulted by the idea of one of their ilk contending with a player. Fail[Pg 100]ing to bring about this match, Alleyn's backers, not to be beaten, and in order, willy-nilly, to make a wager on their champion, evidently tried to get Alleyn to display his powers before friends who professed to admire Bentley and Knell[22]—actors of a slightly earlier date, who were now either retired from the stage or dead. The following letter and poem were evidently written in 1589, as Nashe's reference to the "encounter," which is the first notice of it, was published in this year:

"Your answer the other nighte, so well pleased the Gentlemen, as I was satisfied therewith, though to the hazarde of ye wager; and yet my meaninge was not to prejudice Peele's credit; neither wolde it, though it pleased you so to excuse it, but beinge now growen farther into question, the partie affected to Bentley (scornynge to wynne the wager by your deniall), hath now given you libertie to make choice of any one playe, that either Bentley or Knell plaide, and least this advantage, agree not with your minde, he is contented, both the plaie, and the time, shall be referred to the gentlemen here present. I see not, how you canne any waie hurte your credit by this action; for if you excell them, you will then be famous, if equall them; you wynne both the wager and credit, if short of them; we must and will saie Ned Allen still.—Your frend to his power,


Deny me not sweete Nedd, the wager's downe,
and twice as muche, commande of me and myne:
And if you wynne I sweare the half is thyne;
and for an overplus, an English Crowne.
Appoint the tyme, and stint it as you pleas,
Your labor's gaine; and that will prove it ease."

(addressed) "To Edward Allen."[Pg 101]

This letter to Edward Alleyn from his friend "W.P." is finely written in an English, and the verses in an Italian, hand. The words, "Ned Allen," "sweete Nedd," and "English Crowne" are in gilt letters.[23] The occasion and its instigation must have been of interest to Alleyn for him to have preserved the letter for so many years; his reason for doing so evidently being to enable him to refute Greene's published and widely circulated misconstruction of it. It is evident that both the letter and poem were written while Alleyn was still young, when he already had ardent admirers, and his reputation was growing but not generally admitted, and at about the time that Peele had commenced to write for his company. Alleyn was twenty-four years old in 1589, and already regarded by many as the best actor in London. George Peele, who had written for the Queen's company in the past, at about, or shortly after, this date, began to write for Strange's company. His Edward I., which was published in 1593, was undoubtedly written between 1589-91, when Shakespeare was still connected with Strange's men.

The "cobbler" who taught Roscius to say "Ave Cæsar" was Christopher Marlowe, whose father was a shoemaker. Marlowe was the principal writer for Burbage at this period, and continued so until his death in 1593. "Ave Cæsar" and "a King's chamber" are references to the play of Edward III., which I shall demonstrate later was written by Marlowe, though revised by Shakespeare after Marlowe's death. It is the only known play of this period in which the expression "Ave Cæsar" occurs.

In many of Greene's romances the central figure has been recognised as a more or less fanciful autobiographical[Pg 102] sketch. In his last work, A Groatsworth of Wit, in the introduction to which he makes his well-known attack upon Shakespeare, the adventures of Roberto, the protagonist of the story, tally approximately with known circumstances of Greene's life. In the opening of the story, Roberto's marriage, his desertion of his wife, his attachment to another woman who deserts him when he falls into poverty, all coincide with the facts in his own career. From this we may infer that what follows has also a substratum of truth regarding a temporary connection of Greene with Alleyn's company as playwright, though it is evident that he describes Alleyn's theatrical conditions as they were between 1589 and 1592 and after Alleyn had acquired the theatrical properties of the old Admiral's company from Richard Jones, Robert Browne, and his brother, John Alleyn, in 1589. Greene's account of Roscius' own attempts at dramatic composition need not be taken very seriously, though it is not at all improbable that Alleyn, who was very ambitious, at some time tentatively essayed dramatic composition or revision. It was certainly a very inexperienced playwright, yet one who had some idea of the style of phrase that caught the ear of the masses, who interpolated the tame and prosy lines of the old Taming of a Shrew so freely with selections from Marlowe's most inflated grandiloquence, and one, also, who had access to Marlowe's manuscripts. The plays from which these selections were taken were all Burbage properties in 1588-89, as was also The Taming of a Shrew. It was this kind of dramatic stage-carpenter work that left an opening for Nashe's strictures in 1589 in his Menaphon "Address." Several of the later covert references to Alleyn as Roscius, by Greene and Nashe, indicate that he had tried his hand upon the composition and revision of dramatic[Pg 103] work, in which he had the assistance of a "theological poet." While they undoubtedly refer to Shakespeare as one of the "idiot art-masters" they use the plural and include others in authority in Burbage's company.

Greene, representing himself as Roberto after his mistress had deserted him, describes himself as sitting under a hedge as an outcast and bemoaning his fate.

"On the other side of the hedge sat one that heard his sorrow, who, getting over, came ... and saluted Roberto.... 'If you vouchsafe such simple comfort as my ability will yield, assure yourself that I will endeavour to do the best that ... may procure your profit ... the rather, for that I suppose you are a scholar; and pity it is men of learning should live in lack.' Roberto ... uttered his present grief, beseeching his advice how he might be employed. 'Why, easily,' quoth he, 'and greatly to your benefit; for men of my profession get by scholars their whole living.' 'What is your profession?' said Roberto. 'Truly, sir,' said he, 'I am a player.' 'A player!' quoth Roberto; 'I took you rather for a gentleman of great living; for if by outward habit men should be censured, I tell you you would be taken for a substantial man.' 'So am I, where I dwell,' quoth the player, 'reputed able at my proper cost to build a windmill. What though the world once went hard with me, when I was fain to carry my fardel a foot-back? Tempora mutantur—I know you know the meaning of it better than I, but I thus construe it—It is otherwise now; for my very share in playing apparel will not be sold for two hundred pounds.' 'Truly,' said Roberto, 'it is strange that you should so prosper in that vain practice, for that it seems to me your voice is nothing gracious.' 'Nay, then,' said the player, 'I mislike your judgement; why, I am as famous for Delphrygus and The King of Fairies as ever was any of my time; The Twelve Labours of Hercules have I thundered on the stage, [Pg 104]and played three scenes of the Devil in The Highway to Heaven.' 'Have ye so?' said Roberto; 'then I pray you pardon me.' 'Nay, more,' quoth the player, 'I can serve to make a pretty speech, for I was a country author, passing at a moral; for it was I that penned The Moral of Man's Wit, The Dialogue of Dives, and for seven years' space was absolute interpreter of the puppets. But now my almanac is out of date:

'"The people make no estimation
Of morals, teaching education——"

Was this not pretty for a rhyme extempore? If ye will ye shall have more.' 'Nay, it is enough,' said Roberto; 'but how mean ye to use me?' 'Why, sir, in making plays,' said the other, 'for which you shall be well paid, if you will take the pains.' Roberto, perceiving no remedy, thought it best to respect his present necessity, (and,) to try his wit, went with him willingly; who lodged him at the town's end in a house of retail ... there by conversing with bad company, he grew a malo in pegus, falling from one vice to another.... But Roberto, now famoused for an arch-playmaking poet, his purse, like the sea, sometime swelled, anon, like the same sea, fell to a low ebb; yet seldom he wanted, his labours were so well esteemed. Marry this rule he kept, whatever he fingered beforehand, was the certain means to unbind a bargain; and being asked why he so slightly dealt with them that did him good, 'It becomes me,' saith he, 'to be contrary to the world. For commonly when vulgar men receive earnest, they do perform. When I am paid anything aforehand, I break my promise.'"

The player described here is the same person indicated by Nashe three years before in his Menaphon "Address." Both are represented as being famous for their performance of Delphrygus and The King of the Fairies, but the events narrated connecting Greene with Alleyn, and the opulent[Pg 105] condition of the latter, refer to a more recent stage of Greene's and Alleyn's affairs than Nashe's reference. Both Nashe's and Greene's descriptions point to a company of players that between 1589-91 had won a leading place in London theatrical affairs; that performed at the Theatre; that played Hamlet, The Taming of a Shrew, Edward III., and Fair Em: the leader of which personally owned theatrical properties valued at two hundred pounds, and who was regarded by them as an actor of unusual ability. Seven years before 1592 this company performed mostly in the provinces, carrying their "fardels on their backs." It is very apparent then that it is Alleyn's old and new companies, the Worcester-Admiral-Strange development, to which the allusions refer.

While the "idiot art-masters" indicated by Nashe and Greene as those who chose, purchased, and reconstructed the plays used by Strange's company, included others beside Shakespeare in their satirical intention, this phase of their attacks upon the Theatre and its leading figures became centred upon Shakespeare as his importance in the conduct of its business increased, and his dramatic ability developed.

It is now generally agreed by critics that Shakespeare cannot have left Stratford for London before 1585, and probably not before 1586-87, and the likelihood has been shown that he then entered the service of James Burbage as a hired servant, or servitor, for a term of years. When Henslowe, in 1598, bound Richard Alleyn as a hired servant, he did so for a period of two years, which, we may judge, was then the customary term of such service. Assuming that Shakespeare bound himself to Burbage in 1586-87, his term of service would have expired in 1588-89. Though we possess no evidence that Shakespeare had pro[Pg 106]duced any original plays at this time, the strictures of Nashe and Greene make it apparent that he had by then attained to the position of what might be called dramatic critic for the Burbage interests. In this capacity he helped to choose the plays purchased by his employers for the use of the companies in which they were interested.

Greene had come at odds with theatrical managers several years before Shakespeare could have attained to the position of reader for the Burbages. Even some of Greene's earlier reflections, however, seem to be directed against the management of the Shoreditch Theatre. In attacking theatrical managers he writes in, what he calls, "mystical speeches," and transfigures the persons he attacks under fictitious characters and names. In his Planetomachia, published in 1585, he caricatures one actor-manager under the name of Valdracko, who is an actor in Venus' Tragedy, one of the tales of the book. Valdracko is described as an old and experienced actor, "stricken in age, melancholick, ruling after the crabbed forwardness of his doting will, impartial, for he loved none but himself, politic because experienced, familiar with none except for his profit, skillful in dissembling, trusting no one, silent, covetous, counting all things honest that were profitable." This characterisation cannot possibly have referred to Shakespeare in the year 1585. When it is noticed, however, that nearly all of Greene's later attacks are directed against the Theatre and its fellows, it is probable that the stubborn, wilful, and aged James Burbage is also here scurrilously indicated. In writing of London and the actors in his "dark speeches," Greene refers to London as Rome and to the Shoreditch Theatre as the "theatre in Rome." In his Penelope's Web he writes: "They which smiled at the theatre in Rome[Pg 107] might as soon scoff at the rudeness of the scene as give a plaudite at the perfection of the acting." While it is Burbage's Theatre that is here referred to, it is evident that his quarrel was not now with the actors—whom both he and Nashe praise in their quality—but with the plays, their authors, and the theatrical managers who patronised them.

It is evident that Shakespeare had something to do with the acceptance by the Burbages of plays by Marlowe and Kyd, and that Greene believed his own lack of patronage by the companies playing at the Theatre was due to Shakespeare's adverse influence. Knowing Shakespeare to be the son of a Stratford butcher, educated at a grammar school and recently a bonded servitor to Burbage, this "Master of Arts in Cambridge" questions the literary and dramatic judgment of the grammar school youth, and late serving-man, and employs his fellow university scholar, Thomas Nashe, to ridicule him and his critical pretensions.

Nashe returned to England in 1589, after a two years' absence upon the Continent, and cannot have acquired at first hand the knowledge he shows of dramatic affairs in London during the preceding year. It is evident that this knowledge was gained from Greene for that purpose. Mr. Fleay has demonstrated that Nashe, in his preface to Greene's Menaphon, alludes satirically to Thomas Kyd as the author of The Taming of a Shrew, and of the old Hamlet. Both of these plays were owned by Lord Strange's (now the Lord Chamberlain's) company in 1594, when, as I have suggested, they had recently taken them over from Pembroke's company, which was undoubtedly a Burbage company—using some of the Burbage properties and plays while under Shakespeare's management in 1591-94. Being Burbage properties, these plays were acted by Lord Strange's company[Pg 108] between 1589 and 1591. Besides satirically indicating these plays and their author, Nashe goes on to criticise the "idiot art-masters" who make choice of such plays for the actors. "This affectation of actors and audience," writes Nashe—meaning this suiting of plays to the crude taste of the actors and the cruder taste of the public—"is all traceable to their idiot art-masters that intrude themselves as the alchemists of eloquence, who (mounted on the stage of arrogance) think to outbrave better pens with the swelling bombast of bragging blank verse, indeed it may be the ingrafted overflow of some killcow conceit, etc. Among this kind of men that repose eternity in the mouth of a player I can but engross some deep read school men or grammarians, who have no more learning in their skull than will serve to take up a commodity, nor art in their brains than was nourished in a serving man's idleness, will take upon them to be ironical censurers of all when God and poetry doth know they are the simplest of all."

This attack of Nashe's upon Shakespeare was recognised by all of the scholastic clique, and certain of its phrases are re-echoed in later attacks upon him by other scholars for several years afterwards; in fact, Nashe's diatribe proved to be a cue for Shakespeare's future detractors. In the expression "killcow," Nashe alludes to Shakespeare's father's trade. A few years later—1594—Chapman refers to Shakespeare as "judgements butcher," and later still, in 1598, Florio in his dedication of the Worlde of Wordes, and, in 1600, Ben Jonson in Every Man out of his Humour, also refer satirically to the supposed fact that Shakespeare's father was a butcher. In 1593 Chapman, in attacking Shakespeare in the early Histriomastix, re-echoes the term "idiot art-master." The phrase "ingrafted overflow of a killcow conceit" refers to[Pg 109] Shakespeare's additions to, or revisions of, plays owned by his company that were originally written by such scholars as Greene. "Deep read school men or grammarians" is a reference to Shakespeare's grammar school education. "No more learning than will serve to take up a commodity" refers to Shakespeare's business management of Burbage's affairs, and "a serving man's idleness" to his recently ended term of service with Burbage in that capacity.

It shall be shown that in later years when Chapman, Roydon, Florio, Marston, and Jonson attacked Shakespeare in published or acted plays that he invariably answers them in kind. We have only inferential evidence that he answered Greene's and Nashe's reflections at this time by writing a ballad against them. Ralph Sidley, in verses prefixed to Greene's Never Too Late, published in the following year (1590), defends Greene from the attack of a ballad or jig maker, whom he calls a clown.

"The more it works, the quicker is the wit;
The more it writes, the better to be 'steemed.
By labour ought men's wills and wits be deem'd,
Though dreaming dunces do inveigh against it.
But write thou on, though Momus sit and frown;
A Carter's jig is fittest for a clown.
Bonum quo communius eo melius."

At the end of Greene's Never Too Late in the host's tale a ballad maker and player is attacked under the name of Mullidor; he is described as follows: "He is said to be a fellow that was of honest parents, but very poor: and his person was as if he had been cast in Æsop's mould; his back like a lute, and his face like Thersites', his eyes broad and tawny, his hair harsh and curled like a horse-mane, his lips were of the largest size in folio.... The only good part that he had to grace his visage was his nose, and that was[Pg 110] conqueror-like, as beaked as an eagle.... Into his great head (Nature) put little wit, that he knew rather his sheep by the number, for he was never no good arithmetician, and yet he was a proper scholar, and well seen in ditties."

When we discount the caricature and spiteful animus of this description it closely matches the presentments of Shakespeare given by the most authoritative portraits which have come down to us. His parents, as we know, were undoubtedly poor, otherwise he would not have been in London as a servitor to Burbage. His eyes are invariably shown as hazel in colour and widely set apart; his hair heavy, curled, and falling to his shoulders; his lips very full, his nose large and "beaked," and his brow, or "great head," of unusual height and breadth. It is apparent, then, that this is a spiteful and distorted, but recognisable, description of Shakespeare, who, I infer from many indications in his opponents' plays, wore his hair in a peculiar manner, was not very tall, and was also somewhat thin-legged. The Chandos portrait which shows his shoulders, suggests that they were slightly sloping and somewhat round rather than square. On the whole, a physical type not calculated to inspire fear in a bully. Greene, on the other hand, is described by Chettle as a handsome-faced and well-proportioned man, and we may judge of a rather swash-buckling deportment.

Robert Greene died in September 1592. Shortly afterwards Henry Chettle published Greene's Groatsworth of Wit, which was his last literary effort, and appended a farewell letter of Greene's addressed "To those gentlemen, his quandam acquaintances, that spend their time in making plays, R.G. wisheth a better exercise and wisdom to prevent[Pg 111] his extremities." In this epistle, addressing Marlowe, Nashe, and Peele, as well as two others at whose identity we can only guess, he says:

"If wofull experience may move you, gentlemen, to beware, or unheard-of wretchedness intreat you to take heed, I doubt not but you will look backe with sorrow on your time past, and endevour with repentance to spend that which is to come. Wonder not (for with thee will I first beginne), thou famous gracer of tragedians, that Greene, who hath said with thee, like the foole in his heart, 'There is no God,' should now give glorie unto his greatnesse; for penetrating is his power, his hand lyes heavy upon me, he hath spoken unto me with a voyce of thunder, and I have felt he is a God that can punish enemies. Why should thy excellent wit, his gift, be so blinded that thou shouldest give no glory to the giver? Is it pestilent Machivilian policie that thou hast studied? O peevish follie! what are his rules but meere confused mockeries, able to extirpate in small time the generation of mankinde? for if sic volo, sic iubeo, holde in those that are able to command, and if it be lawfull fas et nefas, to doo any thing that is beneficiall, onely tyrants should possesse the earth, and they, striving to exceed in tiranny, should each to other be a slaughterman, till, the mightyest outliving all, one stroke were left for Death, that in one age mans life should end.... With thee I joyne young Juvenall, that byting satyrist, that lastly with mee together writ a comedie. Sweet boy, might I advise thee, be advised, and get not many enemies by bitter words; inveigh against vaine men, for thou canst doo it, no man better, no man so well; thou hast a libertie to reproove all and name none; for one being spoken to, all are offended—none being blamed, no man is injured. Stop shallow water still running, it will rage; tread on a worme, and it will turne; then blame not schollers who are vexed with sharpe and bitter lines, if they reproove thy too much liberty of reproofe.[Pg 112]

"And thou no lesse deserving then the other two, in some things rarer, in nothing inferiour, driven, as myselfe, to extreame shifts, a little have I to say to thee; and, were it not an idolatrous oath, I would sweare by sweet S. George, thou art unworthy better hap, sith thou dependest on so mean a stay. Base-minded men all three of you, if by my misery yee bee not warned; for unto none of you, like me, sought those burs to cleave; those puppits, I meane, that speake from our mouths, those anticks garnisht in our colours. Is it not strange that I to whom they have been beholding, is it not like that you to whom they all have been beholding, shall, were yee in that case that I am now, be both of them at once forsaken? Yes, trust them not; for there is an upstart crow beautified with our feathers, that, with his Tygres heart wrapt in a players hyde, supposes hee is as well able to bombast out a blanke-verse as the best of you; and, beeing an absolute Johannes-fac-totum, is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey. Oh, that I might intreat your rare wittes to bee imployed in more profitable courses, and let these apes imitate your past excellence, and never more acquaynte them with your admyred inventions! I knowe the best husband of you all will never proove an usurer, and the kindest of them all will never proove a kinde nurse; yet, whilst you may, seeke you better maisters; for it is pitty men of such rare wits should bee subject to the pleasures of such rude groomes.

"In this I might insert two more[24] that both have writte [Pg 113]against these buckram gentlemen; but let their owne worke serve to witnesse against their owne wickednesse, if they persever to maintaine any more such peasants. For other new comers, I leave them to the mercie of those painted monsters, who, I doubt not, will drive the best-minded to despise them; for the rest, it skills not though they make a jeast at them...."

It is now accepted by critics that these allusions of Greene's were directed against Shakespeare, and that the line "Tygres heart wrapt in a players hyde" refers to Shakespeare's revision of The True Tragedy of Richard, Duke of York, a play in the original composition of which Greene evidently had some hand. It has not before been suggested, however, that this play was performed by the Earl of Pembroke's company, under Shakespeare's management, in 1592. It was evidently the publicity given Marlowe's and Shakespeare's revision by the stage revival of the play by Pembroke's company at this time that called forth Greene's attack. This brings us to the end of the year 1592 in outlining chronologically the evidences of the antagonism of the scholars to Shakespeare.

In June 1593 George Peele shows animus against Shakespeare by echoing Greene's phrases in the introduction to The Honour of the Garter. In these verses, in complimenting several noblemen and "gentlemen poets," such as[Pg 114] Sidney, Spenser, Harrington, Fraunce, Campion, and others, he refers also to

"ordinary grooms,
With trivial humours to pastime the world,
That favour Pan and Phœbus both alike."

This appears to be a reflection of Greene's "rude groomes" of the previous September and a reference to Shakespeare's theatrical work and his Venus and Adonis, which, though only recently published, had no doubt been read in MS. form for some time before.

I shall now proceed to show that at the end of 1593, after Lord Pembroke's company had returned from their unprofitable provincial tour when they were compelled to "pawn their apparel for their charges," George Chapman wrote a play satirising Shakespeare and the disastrous fortunes of this company. This play was revised by Marston and Chapman in 1599, under the title of Histriomastix, or The Player Whipt, as a counter-attack upon Shakespeare in order to revenge the satire which he, in conjunction with Dekker and Chettle, directed against Chapman and Marston in Troilus and Cressida, and in a play reconstructed from Troilus and Cressida by Dekker and Chettle, called Agamemnon, in 1598-99. This latter phase of the matter shall be dealt with when I come to a consideration of the literary warfare of the later period.

It has never before been suggested that George Chapman had any hand in the composition of Histriomastix, though Mr. Richard Simpson shows clearly that it was an old play roughly revised in the form in which it was acted in 1599. Mr. Simpson suggests that it might have been written by Peele, in its original form, owing to certain verbal resemblances between portions of it and Peele's dedication[Pg 115] to his Honour of the Garter. He dates its original composition in about 1590, but in doing so had evidently forgotten that he had already written: "The early Chrisoganus (of this play) seems to be of the time when the Earl of Northumberland, Raleigh, and Harriot strove to set up an Academy in London, and the spirit of the play, and even its expressions, were quite in unison with Peele's dedication of his Honour of the Garter,1593." All literary and historical references to the academical efforts of the Earl of Northumberland, Harriot, and others point to the years 1591-93 as the time in which this attempt to establish an Academy was made. Chapman in his dedication of The Shadow of Night to Roydon, in 1594, refers to the movement as then of comparatively recent date. "But I stay this spleen when I remember, my good Matthew, how joyfully oftentimes you reported unto me that most ingenious Derby, deep-searching Northumberland, and skill-embracing Earl of Hunsdon had most profitably entertained learning in themselves to the vital warmth of freezing Science," etc. Peele's allusions to the movement in his dedication to the Honour of the Garter, which is dated 26th June 1593, are as follows:

"Renowned Lord, Northumberland's fair flower,
The Muses' love, patron and favourite,
That artisans and scholars dost embrace.
And clothest Mathesis in rich ornaments,
That admirable mathematic skill,
Familiar with the stars and Zodiac,
To whom the heaven lies open as her book;
By whose directions undeceivable,
Leaving our Schoolmen's vulgar trodden paths,
And following the ancient reverent steps
Of Trismegistus and Pythagoras,
Through uncouth ways and unaccessible,
Doth pass into the pleasant spacious fields
Of divine science and philosophy," etc.
[Pg 116]

Shakespeare evidently reflects knowledge of this academical attempt and pokes fun at the scholars in his reference to "a little academie" in Love's Labour's Lost:

"Navarre shall be the wonder of the world
Our Court shall be a little academie
Still and contemplative in living art."

This play was originally written late in 1591, but was drastically revised late in 1594, or early in 1595, after Shakespeare had read Chapman's Hymns to the Shadow of Night; and again, in 1598. The reference to the Academy was evidently introduced at the time of its first revision.

Mr. Simpson recognises the fact that most of the Chrisoganus passages, especially those in the earlier portions of Histriomastix, pertain to the play in its original form. If the reader will take the trouble to read Chapman's Hymns to the Shadow of Night (1594), his poem to Thomas Harriot, and his Tears of Peace, and compare their mental attitude and verbal characteristics with the "Chrisoganus" and "Peace" passages of Histriomastix, Chapman's authorship of the latter will become apparent. The following parallels from four of Chapman's poems are convincing, and they can be extended indefinitely:


"Have always borne themselves in Godlike State
With lofty foreheade higher than the stars."

De Guiana, Carmen Epicum

"Whose forehead knocks against the roof of stars."


"Consume whole groves and standing fields of corn
In thy wild rage and make the proud earth groan."

The Shadow of Night

"Convert the violent courses of thy floods,
Remove whole fields of corn and highest woods."
[Pg 117]


"Whose glory which thy solid virtues won
Shall honour Europe while there shines a sun."

Poem to Harriot

"When thy true wisdom by thy learning won
Shall honour learning while there shines a sun."

Chapman in several instances in this play echoes Greene's slurs against Shakespeare and, in the same manner as Peele in the Honour of the Garter, repeats the actual phrases and epithets used by Greene and Nashe.


"I scorn a scoffing fool about my throne—
An artless idiot (that like Æsop's daw
Plumes fairer feathered birds)."

These lines evince Chapman's knowledge of Nashe's phrase "idiot art-master," and of Greene's "upstart crow beautified with our feathers," and clearly pertain to the play in its earlier form (1593) when Greene's Groatsworth of Wit (published late in 1592) was still a new publication. In fact, it is not improbable that Nashe collaborated with Chapman in the early form of this play.

Again when Chapman writes the following lines:


"O age, when every Scriveners boy shall dippe
Profaning quills into Thessalies spring;
When every artist prentice that hath read
The pleasant pantry of conceipts shall dare
To write as confident as Hercules;
When every ballad-monger boldly writes," etc.

It is apparent that he again echoes Nashe's and Greene's attacks upon Shakespeare and Thomas Kyd, all of which, however, he appears to have thought (as have later critics) were directed against Shakespeare.[Pg 118]

The lines quoted above evidently reflect Chapman's knowledge of Nashe's preface to Greene's Menaphon in the expressions "Scriveners boy," "artist prentice," and "ballad-monger," while the words

"shall dippe
Profaning quills into Thessalies spring"

refer to Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis, and the lines from Ovid with which he heads that poem.

In 1593 when, as I have indicated, Histriomastix in its early form was written, Shakespeare had published Venus and Adonis and dedicated it to the Earl of Southampton. In the composition of this poem Shakespeare undoubtedly worked from Arthur Golding's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses. He prefixed to the poem two lines from Ovid's fifteenth Elegy:

"Vilia miretur vulgus; mihi flavus Apollo
Pocula Castalia plena ministret aqua";

which are rendered in Marlowe's translation:

"Let base conceited wits admire vile things,
Fair Phœbus lead me to the Muses springs."

In The Shadow of Night, published in the following year, Chapman again resents the fact that one of Shakespeare's "small Latin and less Greek" should invade the classical preserves of the scholars for his poetical and dramatic subjects:

"Then you that exercise the virgin court
Of peaceful Thespia, my muse consort,
Making her drunken with Gorgonean dews,
And therewith all your ecstasies infuse,
That she may reach the topless starry brows
Of steep Olympus, crown'd with freshest boughs
Of Daphnean laurel, and the praises sing
Of mighty Cynthia: truly figuring
[Pg 119](As she is Hecate) her sovereign kind,
And in her force, the forces of the mind:
An argument to ravish and refine
An earthly soul and make it more devine.
Sing then with all, her palace brightness bright,
The dazzle-sun perfection of her light;
Circling her face with glories, sing the walks,
Where in her heavenly magic mood she stalks,
Her arbours, thickets, and her wondrous game,
(A huntress being never match'd in fame,)
Presume not then ye flesh-confounded souls,
That cannot bear the full Castalian bowls
Which sever mounting spirits from the senses,
To look into this deep fount for thy pretenses."

In these lines, besides indicating Shakespeare's recent Ovidian excursion in Venus and Adonis by his reference to "Castalian bowls," Chapman shows knowledge of Shakespeare's intention, in the composition of Love's Labour's Lost, of exhibiting Queen Elizabeth as a huntress. Chapman's Cynthia of The Shadow of Night is plainly a rhapsodised idealisation of the Queen. Later on I shall elaborate the fact that Love's Labour's Lost was written late in 1591, or early in 1592, as a reflection of the Queen's progress to Cowdray House, the home of the Earl of Southampton's maternal grandfather, Viscount Montague, and that the shooting of deer by the Princess and her ladies fancifully records phases of the entertainments arranged for the Queen during her visit.

Assuming, then, from the foregoing evidence and inferences that Chapman composed the early Histriomastix in 1593, let us examine the play further in order to trace its fuller application to Shakespeare and his affairs in that year.

Though Histriomastix was revised as an attack upon Shakespeare in 1599 by Chapman and Marston, who had commenced to collaborate in dramatic work in the previous year, its original plot and action remain practically unaltered.[Pg 120] In its revision its early anti-Shakespearean intention was merely amplified and brought up to date by a few topical allusions, fitting circumstances in the lives of the persons caricatured, pertaining to the later period. The substitution of Troilus and Cressida for The Prodigal Child, as the play within the play presented by Sir Oliver Owlet's company, is also due to the period of revision. All of the passages of the play which are suggestive of the period of revision are palpably in the style of John Marston.

Among the persons of the early play is Chrisoganus, a scholar and mathematician, who has set up an academy to expound the seven liberal Sciences: Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy, all of which are introduced as persons in the first act. Chrisoganus was undoubtedly intended for Chapman's friend Thomas Harriot, the mathematician and astronomer, who was so prominent in the academical movement of 1592-93. The name Chrisoganus is evidently a reflection of Harriot's Ephemeris Chrisometra, a MS. copy of which is preserved in Zion College. Chapman's poem to Harriot, prefixed to his Achilles Shield (1599), expresses many of the same ideas voiced in Histriomastix and in much the same language, and indicates Chapman's collaboration with Marston in the revision of the play in that year.

In the early Histriomastix Chapman represents himself in the character of Peace. When the utterances of Peace are compared with certain of Chapman's poems, such as his Euthymia Raptus, or The Tears of Peace (1609), his poem to Harriot (1598), The Shadow of Night (1594), and Ovid's Banquet of Sense (1595), in all of which he breaks away from his subject-matter at intervals to extol his own virtues and bewail his poverty and his neglect by patrons, it becomes[Pg 121] evident that he transfigures himself in Histriomastix as Peace; which character acts as a chorus to, or running commentary on, the action of the play.

The whole spirit and purpose of this play is reproduced in The Tears of Peace, which is a dialogue between Peace and an interlocutor, who discuss at great length exactly the same ideas and subjects, dramatically treated, in Histriomastix, i.e. the neglect of learning and the learned, and "the pursuit of wealth, glory, greatness, pleasure, and fashion" by "plebian and lord alike," as well as the unaccountable success of an ignorant playwright who writes plays on any subject that comes into his head:

"And how they trot out in their lines the ring
With idly iterating oft one thing,
A new fought combat, an affair at sea,
A marriage or progress or a plea.
No news but fits them as if made for them,
Though it be forged but of a woman's dream."

The plays of no other dramatist of that period match the description of the subjects of the plays given here. The "progress," mentioned by Chapman, is undoubtedly a reference to Love's Labour's Lost; "A marriage," Midsummer Night's Dream; "a plea," The Merchant of Venice; "A new fought combat," Henry V.—as a reflection of the military services of Southampton and Essex in Ireland in 1599; "an affair at sea," Twelfth Night, The Merchant of Venice, etc.

In the second scene of Histriomastix, to Peace, the Arts, and Chrisoganus, come Mavortius and a group of his friends representing the nobility whom the academicians endeavour to win to their attendance and support. Mavortius and his followers refuse to cultivate Chrisoganus and the Arts, preferring a life of dalliance and pleasure, and to patronise[Pg 122] plays and players instead. Other characters are introduced representing the Law, the Army, and Merchandise, who also neglect the Arts and live for pastime and sport.

The company of players patronised by Mavortius performs under the licence of Sir Oliver Owlet, and under the leadership of Posthaste, an erstwhile ballad maker, who writes plays for the company and who threatens to return to ballad making when playing proves unprofitable.

One of Mavortius' followers, Landulpho, an Italian lord, criticises the play presented by Posthaste and his fellows, and lauds the Italian drama.

A period of peace and prosperity, during which Chrisoganus and the Arts are neglected by the extravagant and pleasure-seeking lords and populace, is followed by war with an aftermath of poverty when Sir Oliver Owlet's company of players is disrupted, and the actors are compelled to "pawn their apparel for their charges."

Enter Constable.

Host. Master Constable, ho! these players will not pay their shot.
Post. Faith, sir, war hath so pinch'd us we must pawn.
Const. Alas, poor players! Hostess, what comes it to?
Host. The Sharers dinners sixpence a piece. The hirelings—pence.
Post. What, sixpence an egg, and two and two an egg?
Host. Faith, famine affords no more.
Post. Fellows, bring out the hamper. Chose somewhat out o'th stock.

Enter the Players.

What will you have this cloak to pawn? What think you its worth?
Host. Some fewer groats.
Onin. The pox is in this age; here's a brave world fellows!
Post. You may see what it is to laugh at the audience.
Host. Well, it shall serve for a pawn.

The further development of this narrative will make it evident beyond any reasonable doubt that Posthaste, the poet-actor, is intended to caricature Shakespeare, and Sir[Pg 123] Oliver Owlet's company and its misfortunes to reflect the Earl of Pembroke's company in similar circumstances in 1593; that Mavortius is the young Earl of Southampton, to whom Shakespeare dedicated Venus and Adonis in 1593, and Lucrece in the year following; that Landulpho, the Italian lord, represents John Florio, who, in 1591, in his Second Fruites, criticised English historical drama and praised Italian plays, and who, at about the same time as teacher of languages entered into the pay and patronage of the Earl of Southampton, a connection which his odd and interesting personality enabled him to hold thereafterwards for several years. The part which Landulpho takes in the play was somewhat developed by Marston in 1599, at which time it shall later on be shown that the relations between Florio and Shakespeare had reached a heated stage. The play of The Prodigal Child, which was the play within the play acted by Posthaste and his fellows in the earlier form of Histriomastix, did not, in my opinion, represent the English original of the translated German play of The Prodigal Son which Mr. Simpson presents as the possible original, but was meant to indicate Shakespeare's Love's Labours Won, which was written late in the preceding year as a reflection of Southampton's intimacy with Florio, and the beginning of his affair with Mistress Davenant,[25] the Oxford tavern keeper's wife. The expression The Prodigal Child differs from that of The Prodigal Son in meaning, in that the word "Child" at that period meant a young nobleman. There is nothing whatever[Pg 124] suggestive of Shakespeare's work in the translated German play, and it was merely the similarity of title that led Mr. Simpson to propose it as the play indicated. The play satirised by Chapman under the title of The Prodigal Child was undoubtedly written by Shakespeare, and it is no more likely that Chapman would use the actual name of the play at which he points than that he would use the actual names of the various persons or of the company of players whose actions and work he caricatures.

In 1594 George Chapman published Hymns to the Shadow of Night, and in 1595 his Ovid's Banquet of Sense and A Coronet for his Mistress Philosophy, dedicating both publications to his friend Matthew Roydon. The dedication of these poems to Roydon was an afterthought; they were not primarily written with Roydon in mind.[26] It has been made evident that Chapman had first submitted these poems to the Earl of Southampton in an endeavour to win his patronage, and failing to do so dedicated them to Roydon and attacked Shakespeare in the dedications, where he refers to him in the capacity of reader to the Earl of Southampton, and imputes to his adverse influence his ill-success in his attempt. In the dedication to The Shadow of Night he writes:

"How then may a man stay his marvailing to see passion-driven men reading but to curtail a tedious hour and altogether hidebound with affection to great men's fancies take upon them as killing censures as if they were judgements butchers or as if the life of truth lay tottering in their verdicts.

"Now what supererogation in wit this is to think skill so mightily pierced with their loves that she should prostitutely shew them her secrets when she will scarcely be looked upon by others but with invocation, fasting, watching; yea not [Pg 125]without having drops of their souls like an heavenly familiar. Why then should our Intonsi Catones with their profit ravished gravity esteem her true favours such questionless vanities as with what part soever thereof they seem to be something delighted they queamishly commend it for a pretty toy. Good Lord how serious and eternal are their idolatrous platts for riches."

The expression "passion-driven," as applied by Chapman to Shakespeare in 1594, especially in a dedication written to Matthew Roydon,—who in this same year published Willobie his Avisa,—plainly refers to Shakespeare's relations at that time with Mistress Davenant, who was the original for the figure now known as the Dark Lady of the Sonnets, as well as for the Avisa of Willobie his Avisa. The words "reading but to curtail a tedious hour and altogether hidebound with affection to great men's fancies," refer to Shakespeare in the capacity of reader to the Earl of Southampton. In an attack which John Florio makes upon Shakespeare in 1598, he also makes a similar reference to him in this capacity. The expression "judgements butcher," like Nashe's "killcow," indicates Shakespeare's father's trade of butcher.

It was the obvious parallel between Chapman's, "when she will scarcely be looked upon by others but with invocation, fasting, watching; yea not without having drops of their souls like an heavenly familiar," and Shakespeare's allusion, in Sonnet 86, to a poet who attempted to supplant him in Southampton's favour—

"He nor that affable familiar ghost
Which nightly gulls him with intelligence,
As victors of my silence cannot boast;
I was not sick of any fear from thence:
But when your countenance filled up his line,
Then lack'd I matter; that enfeebled mine"—
[Pg 126]

that led Professor Minto to suggest Chapman as the rival poet of the Sonnets. In a former essay I have demonstrated the truth of Professor Minto's suggestion.

Chapman's Intonsi Catones, or "Unshorn Catos," refers to the peculiar manner in which Shakespeare wore his hair, which Greene describes as "harsh and curled like a horse-mane," and is also a reference to his provincial breeding and, presumed, lack of culture.

There are a number of indications in the few facts we possess of Shakespeare's life in 1594, and also in his own and contemporary publications, to warrant the assumption that the Earl of Southampton bestowed some unusual evidence of his bounty upon him in this year. If ever there was a period in his London career in which Shakespeare needed financial assistance more than at other times it was in this year. Lord Strange's company had now been acting under Henslowe's management for two years. The financial condition of both Burbage and Shakespeare must at this time have been at a low ebb. The plague had prevented Pembroke's company playing in London for nearly a year, and we have seen that their attempts to play in the provinces had resulted in failure and loss. In about the middle of 1594, however, Lord Strange's players (now the Lord Chamberlain's men) return to Burbage and the Theatre, when Shakespeare becomes not only a member of the company, but, from the fact that his name is mentioned with that of Kempe and Richard Burbage in the Court records of the payment for performances in December 1594, it is evident that he was then also a leading sharer in the company.

In parting from Henslowe and reorganising under Burbage in 1594 it is apparent that the reorganisers of the[Pg 127] Lord Chamberlain's men would need considerable capital if we may judge the financial affairs of this company by those of the Lord Admiral's company (subsequently Lord Nottingham's men) while under Henslowe's management. On 13th October 1599 Henslowe records in his Diary: "Received with the company of my Lord of Nottingham's men to this place, beinge the 13th of October 1599, and it doth appeare that I have received of the debte which they owe unto me three hundred fifty and eight pounds." This was only a partial payment of this company's debt, which evidently was considerably in excess of this amount. It is unlikely, then, that Lord Strange's company was free of debt to him at the end of their term under his management.

Shakespeare's earliest biographer, Nicholas Rowe, records, on the authority of Sir William Davenant, "that my Lord Southampton at one time gave him a thousand pounds to enable him to go through with a purchase which he heard he had a mind to." Whatever truth there may be as to the amount of money here mentioned, it is apparent that Southampton evidenced his bounty to Shakespeare in 1594 in some substantial manner, which quickly became noised abroad among the poets and writers who sought patronage. Several of these poets in approaching Southampton refer inferentially to his munificence to Shakespeare. In 1594 Barnabe Barnes writes:

"Vouchsafe right virtuous Lord with gracious eyes
Those heavenly lamps which give the muses light
To view my muse with your judicial sight," etc.

The words italicised evidently refer to Southampton's acceptance of Venus and Adonis in the preceding year.[Pg 128] Later in 1594, Thomas Nashe dedicated The Life of Jack Wilton to Southampton, and in a dedicatory Sonnet to a poem preserved in the Rawlinson MS. in the Bodleian Library, entitled The Choice of Valentines, Nashe apologises for the salacious nature of the poem, and in an appended Sonnet evidently refers to Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis in the line italicised below:

"Thus hath my pen presumed to please my friend,
Oh might'st thou likewise please Apollo's eye;
No, honor brooks no such impietie,
Yet Ovids Wanton Muse did not offend,
He is the fountain whence my streams do flow,
Forgive me if I speak as I were taught."

In 1595 Gervase Markham, in a Sonnet prefixed to his poem on Richard Grenville's fight in the Revenge, addresses Southampton as:

"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."

The line italicised not only refers to Shakespeare but gives evidence also of the assured standing among poets which he had now attained in unbiased judgments.

In addition to these evidences of Southampton's bounty to Shakespeare at this time, we have the poet's own acknowledgment of the recent receipt of a valuable gift in the Lucrece dedication: "The warrant I have of your honourable disposition, not the worth of my untutored lines, makes it assured of acceptance."

In his Hymns to the Shadow of Night (1594) and its dedication, Chapman complains of his lack of patronage and refers to what he designates as Shakespeare's "idol[Pg 129] atrous platts for riches."[27] In the body of the poem he writes:

"Wealth fawns on fools; virtues are meat for vices,
Wisdom conforms herself to all earth's guises,
Good gifts are often given to men past good
And noblesse stoops sometimes beneath his blood

In view of the general knowledge of Southampton's bounty to Shakespeare at this time, and of the anti-Shakespearean intention which I have demonstrated in Chapman's poem, it is apparent that these lines refer to the nobleman's gift as well as to the intimacy between the peer and the player at this period.

In this same year (1594) the scholars devised a plan to disrupt the intimacy between Shakespeare and Southampton by producing and publishing a scandalous poem satirising their relations, entitled Willobie his Avisa, or the true picture of a modest maid and a chaste and constant wife. In this poem Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, is represented as "Henry Willobie a young man and a scholar of very good hope," while Shakespeare is indicated as "W.S.," an "old actor." "W.S." is depicted as aiding and abetting Henry Willobie in a love affair with Avisa, the wife of an Oxford tavern keeper who conducts a tavern described as follows:

"See yonder house where hangs the badge
Of England's saint when captains cry
Victorious land to conquering rage."

In this poem Henry Willobie is alleged to have fallen in love with Avisa at first sight, and to have confided in his friend "W.S.," "who not long before had tryed the courtesy of the like passion and was now newly recovered of the like infection." Willobie his Avisa in some measure reproduces but at the same time grossly distorts actual facts in the lives[Pg 130] of Shakespeare and Southampton which are dimly adumbrated in Sonnets written by Shakespeare to Southampton and to the Dark Lady at this time. I have elsewhere demonstrated Matthew Roydon's authorship as well as the anti-Shakespearean intention of this poem.

In 1595 George Chapman published his Ovid's Banquet of Sense and his A Coronet for his Mistress Philosophy, in both of which poems, as well as in the dedications, he again indicates and attacks Shakespeare. Shakespeare's cognizance of Chapman's intention, as well as the manner in which he answered him, have been examined in detail in a previous essay which is now generally accepted by authoritative critics as definitely establishing the fact of Chapman's ingrained hostility to Shakespeare as well as his identity as the rival poet of the Sonnets.[28]

Thus we find that, beginning with the reflections of Nashe and Greene in 1589, Shakespeare was defamed and abused by some one or more of this coterie of jealous scholars in every year down to 1595, and that the rancour of his detractors intensifies with the growth of his social and literary prestige.

The one thing of all others that served most to feed and perpetuate the envy of the scholars against Shakespeare was the friendship and patronage accorded him by the Earl of Southampton.

Past biographers and critics usually date the beginning of the acquaintance between Shakespeare and Southampton in 1593, when Venus and Adonis was published. In a later chapter I shall advance new evidence to show that their acquaintance had its inception nearly two years before that date.


[20] English Dramatic Companies, 1558-1641, by John Tucker Murray.

[21] In 1594 Cuthbert Burbie published a play entitled The Cobbler's Prophecy, the authorship of which is ascribed to "R. Wilson" on the title-page. The textual resemblances between this play, The Pedlar's Prophecy, The Three Ladies of London, and The Three Lords and Three Ladies, and certain parallels between the two latter and Fair Em, all of which plays were published anonymously, led Mr. Fleay to credit all of them to Wilson, in which—excluding Fair Em—he was probably correct. All of these plays, with the exception of The Pedlar's Prophecy, were either Burbage's or Admiral's properties. The Three Lords and Three Ladies was published for Richard Jones in 1590, and The Cobblers Prophecy for Cuthbert Burbie in 1594. All plays published for Richard Jones were formerly old Admiral's properties, and nearly all the early plays published for Cuthbert Burbie old Burbage properties. Fair Em, while not published until 1631, records on the title-page that it was acted by Lord Strange's company. The Pedlar's Prophecy was, however, published by Thomas Creede, all of whose publications Mr. Fleay has found were old Queen's properties. Admitting, then, that all of these plays were written by Robert Wilson, the latter play must have been written by him for the Queen's company later than 1582-83, when he left Leicester's company. It appears probable also that the earlier plays—The Three Ladies and The Cobbler's Prophecy—were written for Leicester's company before that date, and retained by Burbage when he severed his connection with Leicester's men, or else, that they were retained by Leicester's men as company properties and brought to Strange's men in 1588-89 by Kempe, Pope, and Bryan, when their old company disbanded. It is evident, then, The Three Lords and Three Ladies, which Mr. Fleay admits is merely an amplification of the old play of The Three Ladies, which he dates as being first published in 1584, was a revision made when all these plays became Strange's properties, and that the scriptural parallels between The Three Lords and Three Ladies, The Three Ladies, and Fair Em, which are quite absent in The Pedlar's Prophecy—the only one of these plays ascribed in the publication itself to Wilson—are due to the revisionary efforts of the "theological poet" referred to by Greene as doing such work for Strange's company, and as having had a hand in Fair Em, which was acted in about 1590, in which year The Three Lords and Three Ladies, which shows similar scriptural characteristics, was published. From a time reference in the earlier form of this play—The Three Ladies—in the first scene, "not much more than twenty-six years, it was in Queen Mary's time," Mr. Fleay arbitrarily dates from the last year of Mary's reign, and concludes that it may have been acted by the Queen's company in 1584. He admits, however, that it does not appear in the list of the Queen's men's plays for this year, and later on infers from other evidence that the allusion to twenty-six years from Queen Mary's time probably referred to the first date of publication, which is unknown, but which he places, tentatively, in 1584. "That it was played by the Queen's men," he writes, "is shown under the next play,—The Three Lords and Three Ladies,—which is an amplification of the preceding play performed shortly after Tarleton's death in about 1588." Mr. Fleay writes further: "If I rightly understand the allusions, Tarleton acted in Wit and Will in 1567-68. The allusion to Tarleton's picture shows that Tarleton's Jests, in which his picture appears, had already been published. The statement that Simplicity (probably acted by Wilson himself), Wit, and Will had acted with Tarleton, proves that the present play was acted by the Queen's men."

In arguing to place Robert Wilson as a member of Strange's company in 1588-89, Mr. Fleay borrows both premises and inference from the facts to support his theory. He is no doubt right in dating the original composition of The Three Ladies of London before 1584, and probably also in attributing all of these plays to Wilson, but, seeing that they were all Burbage properties in 1589-90, is it not evident that The Three Ladies of London was an old Leicester play produced by Wilson before 1582-83, when he and Burbage left that company, and either that Burbage then retained possession of it, or, that it was brought to Strange's men by Pope, Kempe, and Bryan in 1589? Mr. Fleay admits that The Three Lords and Three Ladies is merely an amplification of The Three Ladies made after Tarleton's death, which occurred in 1588. It seems apparent, then, that the scriptural phraseology noticeable in The Three Ladies, The Three Lords and Three Ladies, and Fair Em, which led Mr. Fleay to impute the last to Wilson's pen, and also to connect him as a writer and an actor with Lord Strange's company in 1589-90, is the work of the "theological poet" indicated by Greene and Nashe as having had a hand in Fair Em in 1589. It is also evident that the actors who took the parts of Simplicity, Wit, and Will,—in The Three Lords and Three Ladies,—who had formerly acted with Tarleton, were Kempe, Pope, and Bryan, Strange's men, who were all formerly Leicester's men. It is much more likely that these old members of Leicester's company, who in Tarleton's time would have been juniors in the company, would recall and boast of their old connection, than that his late associates in the Queen's company would do so within a year or two of his death.

[22] Bentley was a Queen's player in 1584, and probably came from Sussex's company to the Queen's upon the organisation of that company in 1583.

[23] This letter and the verses are printed in Henslowe's Papers, p. 32, W.W. Greg, 1907, and in the works of several earlier editors.

[24] "The two more" here indicated by Greene are, I believe, Lodge and Matthew Roydon, both of whom are mentioned by Nashe in his address "To the Gentlemen of the two Universities" prefixed to Greene's Menaphon. I have elsewhere shown that Roydon was a prolific ballad writer who invariably wrote anonymously, or under pen names, and have made evident his authorship of Willobie his Avisa, as well as its anti-Shakespearean intention. Roydon also wrote plays as well as ballads, and was possibly one of the "theological poets" referred to by Greene in the introduction to his Farewell to Folly, who, he intimates, were averse "for their calling and gravity" to have their names appear as the authors of ballads or plays, and so secured "some other batillus to set their names to their verses." Roydon's affected anonymity is referred to by several other contemporary writers. Robert Arnim writes of him as "a light that shines not in the world as it is wished, but yet the worth of his lustre is known." Roydon was a curate of the Established Church. Shakespeare's lack of respect for Church of England curates, which is several times exhibited in his plays, was, no doubt, due in some degree to his dislike of Roydon.

[25] Since the publication of Mistress Davenant, the Dark Lady of Shakespeare's Sonnets, in 1913, I have learned that John Davenant was married twice. Roydon's Willobie his Avisa refers to his first wife, who was Anne Birde, daughter of Mayor William Birde of Bristol, whom he married before July 1592. I have also found that his second wife was Jane Shepherd of Durham. This matter will be fully elucidated in a forthcoming publication.

[26] Shakespeare and the Rival Poet, 1902.

[27] A probable allusion to his Lucrece dedication.

[28] Shakespeare and the Rival Poet, John Lane, London, 1903.




The three parts of Henry VI. and their originals are of interest to Shakespearean students as marking the beginning of a phase of English historical drama, afterwards developed by Shakespeare, Kyd, Marlowe, and others. They owed their origin to the demand of the theatres for material with which to cater to the ebullient national spirit aroused by the long-threatened danger of a Spanish invasion, and its happy issue in the destruction of the great Armada, in 1588. They were originally produced between 1589 and 1591, and evidently for the Queen's players. The theatrical managers having found them a profitable investment, encouraged the continued production of historical plays. Peele, who is usually supposed to have been the author of The First Part of Henry VI., soon after wrote a play upon the reign of Edward I.; Marlowe appropriating Edward III. and later on Edward II.; and Shakespeare King John in 1591 and Richard II. in 1592-93.

Shakespeare, before composing Richard II.,—in the composition of which he was evidently guided by the[Pg 132] previous production of Marlowe's Edward II.,—tried his "prentice hand" on King John. Both this play and the older play of The Troublesome Raigne of King John (upon which it is based, and which, in fact, it practically recasts) owe their origin to the same influences as the other historical plays mentioned. The Troublesome Raigne of King John was composed for the Queen's company at, or near to, the date of the Spanish Armada, and at a period when religious animosities were acute. Its anti-Catholic spirit is very aggressive. We have good evidence, in the manner in which Shakespeare, on recasting the old play, toned down or eliminated this spirit, that whatever dogmatic latitude he allowed himself in religion, his social and religious sympathies at this period were Catholic rather than Protestant. He was, withal, in common with a large proportion, and probably a majority, of his compatriots at that time, an English, as distinguished from a Roman, Catholic, and like them, though he outwardly acquiesced in the established religion, tacitly favoured the old Church in spiritual matters, while resenting its political activities.

Socially and politically, Shakespeare was essentially conservative. He looked naturally unto the rock whence he was hewn and to the hole of the pit whence he was digged. With a deep and abiding pride of race, linking him spiritually with the historic past of his people, he was inclined to look askance at the subverting spirit of Puritanism, which was now beginning to give Merrie England food for serious thought. His temperamental bias against Puritanism was accentuated by the openly avowed hostility of the Puritans to his chosen profession. Though born of the people, Shakespeare's social ideals were strongly aristocratic, and, while possessing, in an unusual degree[Pg 133] that unerring knowledge of human nature in all classes and conditions of men, and broad tolerance of human foibles and weaknesses, attainable only by spiritual sympathy, in the political wisdom of democracy as it could then be conceived he had little confidence.

We have good evidence that Shakespeare's father was a Catholic, and it is more than likely that Shakespeare's sympathies were Catholic. His most intimate affiliations were Catholic. Southampton's family, the Wriothesleys, and his mother's family, the Browns, were adherents of the old faith, and though Southampton, in later life, turned to Protestantism he was Catholic during the early years of his intimacy with Shakespeare. For the clergy of the Established Church Shakespeare had little respect; he probably regarded the majority of them as trimmers and time-servers. He always makes his curates ridiculous; this, however, was probably due to his hostility to Roydon, whom he caricatures. On the other hand, his priests and friars, while erring and human, are always dignified and reverend figures. There is, however, no indecision in his attitude towards Rome's political pretensions. The most uncompromising Protestant of the time sounds no more defiant national note than he.

In King John we have an ingenuous revelation of Shakespeare's outlook on life while he was still comparatively young, and within a few years of his advent in London. He was yet unacquainted with the Earl of Southampton at the date of its composition, early in 1591.

In the character of Falconbridge, with which one instinctively feels its creator's sympathy, I am convinced that Shakespeare portrayed the personality of Sir John Perrot, an illegitimate son of Henry VIII., and half-brother[Pg 134] to Queen Elizabeth. The immense physical proportions of both Perrot and Falconbridge; their characteristic and temperamental resemblances; their common illegitimate birth; the fact that both were trusted generals and relatives of their sovereigns; their similar bluff and masterful manner; their freedom of speech; and the suggestive unison between important incidents in their lives, all exhibit a resemblance much too remarkable for mere coincidence.

In the development of certain of Shakespeare's characters we instinctively feel his sympathy with, or antipathy for, the type he represents. Like Thackeray in the case of Barry Lyndon, he paints in Falstaff a rascal so interesting that he leads us almost to condone his rascality; yet who can doubt in either instance the author's inherent antipathy to the basic character he portrays. On the other hand, in depicting Biron, Antonio, and Jacques, we feel a sympathetic touch. For no one of his numerous characters is his admiration so apparent and unreserved as for that of Falconbridge. With other characters, such as Biron, Antonio, Jacques, Hamlet, and Prospero in their successive stages, we apprehend a closer mental likeness to, and spiritual synthesis of, their creator; here, however, is no creature of the brain, but a flesh-and-blood man of action, taken bodily from life. An early date for the original composition of King John is manifest in the broad strokes of portraiture, and lack of introspective subtlety, with which this character is drawn.

Sir John Perrot was a natural son of Henry VIII. and Mary Berkley, afterwards wife of Thomas Perrot of Islington and Herrodston in Pembrokeshire. His resemblance to Henry VIII. was striking, although his physical proportions were still larger. Much as he resembled his father he more[Pg 135] nearly approximated in type both temperamentally and physically to "Cœur-de-lion." Perrot lived about two hundred years too late for his own fame. Had he been born a couple of centuries earlier he might have lived in history as a paladin of romance. He was a fantastical recrudescence, of the most fanciful age of chivalry. He is reported to have possessed extraordinary strength, and in his youth to have been much addicted to brawling. At about the age of twenty he owed his introduction to Henry VIII. to a fight in which he became engaged with two of the Yeomen of the Guard who endeavoured to oust him from the palace grounds, and whom he worsted in the effort. The King appearing upon the scene, Perrot is reported to have proclaimed himself his son. Henry received him favourably and promised him preferment, but died soon afterwards. Edward VI., upon his accession, acknowledged his kinship and created him Knight of the Bath. He was a very skilful horseman and swordsman, and excelled in knightly exercises.

In 1551 he accompanied the Marquis of Southampton to France upon the mission of the latter to negotiate a marriage between Edward VI. and Elizabeth, daughter of Henry II. The French King was so well pleased with him that he offered to retain him in his service. While generous and brave to an unusual degree, Perrot was extremely hot-tempered and of an arbitrary disposition. He seems to have inherited all of his father's mental, moral, and physical attributes in an exaggerated form, and to have had an ever-present consciousness of his kingly lineage. Money flowed through his fingers like water; he was rarely out of debt, and was relieved in this respect by both Edward VI. and Elizabeth. Upon the accession of Queen Mary, Perrot,[Pg 136] though a Protestant, continued in royal favour; his kinship outweighing his religious disadvantage. He was, however, never without enemies at Court, created largely by his high-handed behaviour. During Mary's reign he was accused of sheltering heretics in his house in Wales, and was, in consequence, committed for a while to the Fleet, but was soon released. He saw service in France under the Earl of Pembroke, being present at the capture of St. Quentin. Later on he had a violent disagreement with his old commander, owing to his refusal to assist the latter in persecuting Welsh Protestants. A life-enduring friendship was later established between them by Pembroke's magnanimity in rallying to his support at a crucial period in his career. When Protestantism, at a later period, gained the upper hand under Elizabeth, he was equally averse to the persecution of Catholics. Elizabeth upon her accession continued the favours shown him by her predecessors. He was selected as one of four gentlemen to carry the canopy of state at her Coronation, and was appointed Vice-Admiral of the seas about South Wales. In 1570 he was made President of Munster, where he performed his duties in an extremely strenuous manner. He used deputies only in clerical matters; where there was fighting to be done he was there in person, and usually in the thick of it. Much as he liked to command he never could resist being in the actual scrimmage. He challenged James Fitmaurice Fitzgerald, the rebel leader in Munster, to single combat, which the latter prudently refused; later on, Fitzgerald led him and a small body of men into an ambush where he was out-numbered ten to one; Perrot refused to surrender, and though he made great slaughter of his assailants, was saved only by the timely arrival of a small body of his own men,[Pg 137] whom the rebels supposed to be the advance guard of a stronger force. He was as generous in victory as he was imprudent in action; having defeated and captured Fitzgerald, he forgave him and restored him to his property. Such actions on his part being criticised by the Council, Perrot, in dudgeon, resigned his command and returned to England in 1573. He was received favourably by Elizabeth, whose goodwill he still continued to keep in spite of his numerous enemies at Court. Retiring to his Welsh estates at this time, he told Burghley that he intended thereafter to lead a "countryman's life," and "to keep out of debt." Much of his time during the following ten years was spent in suppressing piracy on the seas in his capacity of Vice-Admiral and Warden of the Marches. In 1584 he was appointed Viceroy of Ireland, an office which he executed vigorously and effectively, but in the same dominating spirit and with the same impatience of control that had marked his earlier Irish career. Exasperated at the delays of the Council in agreeing to his plans, he even went to the length of addressing the English Parliament in a letter, which, however, was suppressed by Walsingham, who apprehended the resentment of Elizabeth at such an unwarranted appropriation of her prerogative.

While Perrot's physical proportions were much above the average he was an extremely graceful and handsome man. A German nobleman of the time, visiting Ireland, seeing Perrot at the opening of Parliament, declared that though he had travelled all Europe he had never seen any one comparable to him for his port and majesty of personage.

Perrot's arbitrary and dominating manner created constant friction in his Council and aroused the enmity of his[Pg 138] coadjutors and subordinates. He challenged Sir Richard Bingham, President of Munster, to a duel, and came to actual blows in the council chamber with Sir Nicholas Bagenal. He aroused the deadly enmity of Loftus, Archbishop of Dublin, who set many plots on foot to work his undoing. One Philip Williams, a former secretary of Perrot's, was set on by Loftus to make revelations reflecting on Perrot's loyalty, which gained such credence that they resulted in his recall to England in 1588. He left behind him, writes Sir Henry Wallop, "a memory of such hard usage and haughty demeanour amongst his associates as I think never any before him in this place hath done." After Perrot's return to England, Loftus continued his machinations against him. Informers of all kinds were forthcoming to accuse him. One Denis O'Roughan, an ex-priest, offered to prove that he was the bearer of a letter from Perrot to Philip of Spain, promising that if the latter would give him the Principality of Wales, he would make him Master of England and Ireland. While this evidence was palpably false, the excited condition of public feeling in regard to the Jesuit plots and the aggressive plans of Spain lent it credence. A year before, Sir William Stanley, previously quite unsuspected of disloyalty, had turned the fortress of Deventer over to the Spaniards, and the Armada, which had been in preparation for years, was expected daily on the English coasts. Perrot, while not yet placed under arrest, was treated coldly by the Court. His was not a temper that could stand such treatment uncomplainingly. Knowing that the Queen's ill-usage of him arose largely from the influence of Sir Christopher Hatton, he expressed himself somewhat freely regarding that gentleman, and in a manner that reflected upon the Queen. Hatton's hatred of Perrot[Pg 139] was well founded, he having seduced Hatton's niece some years before. The unceasing plotting of Perrot's enemies and his own imprudence of speech led to his arrest early in 1591. After a short confinement in Burghley's house, he was removed to the Tower, where he remained for a year before he was brought to trial. At this period and while still under restraint at Burghley's house, I date the composition of Shakespeare's King John. He was tried for high treason in April 1592, being charged with using contemptuous words about the Queen, relieving known traitors and Romish priests, and also with treasonable correspondence with Philip of Spain and the Duke of Parma. All of the evidence against him, except that relating to the use of disrespectful expressions regarding the Queen, fell to the ground. He was found guilty on this one point and taken back to the Tower. Two months later—that is, on 26th June—he was brought up for judgment and condemned to death. "God's death," he exclaimed, on being led back to the Tower, "will the Queen suffer her brother to be offered up as a sacrifice to the envy of his frisking adversary?" He died a natural death in the Tower in September 1592. It is probable that had he lived the Queen would have pardoned him. It was rumoured at the time that she intended to do so. While such an intention appears probable from the fact that after his death his son was restored to his estates, it is more likely that Perrot's death, while under the Queen's disfavour, softened her resentment toward his family. Perrot's son, Sir Thomas, who inherited his estates, had incurred the ill-will of Elizabeth some years before by his clandestine marriage to Dorothy Devereux, sister of the Earl of Essex. She vented her displeasure upon every one remotely concerned in this transaction.[Pg 140] Essex, who was entirely innocent of any complicity in it, was frowned upon for a time, and Bishop Aylmer, under whose surreptitiously obtained licence the marriage ceremony was performed, was called before the Council. The Queen for years declined to receive Lady Perrot, and upon one occasion, when visiting the Earl of Essex, refused to remain in his house upon the arrival of his sister, and was pacified only when Lady Perrot removed to a distant neighbour's.

It thus appears that the rancour of Elizabeth towards Sir John Perrot, which led to his imprisonment in 1591 and his later prosecution, was intensified by the fact of his family connection with the Earl of Essex, who at this same period was deep in her disfavour owing to his own unauthorised marriage to Lady Sidney. We may then infer that Court circles were divided in their attitude towards Perrot, and that while Sir Christopher Hatton and his followers were antagonistic to him, that Essex and his faction were correspondingly sympathetic.

I am convinced that Shakespeare's first recast of The Troublesome Raigne of King John was made at about this period, at the instigation of a court of action friendly to Perrot and antagonistic to Hatton, with the intention of arousing sympathy for Perrot by presenting him inferentially in heroic colours in the character of Falconbridge. Whatever animosities his outspoken criticisms and arbitrary demeanour may have aroused, amongst the courtiers and politicians, it is likely that his romantic history, his personal bravery, and his interesting personality had made him a hero to the younger nobility and the masses. It is evident that the author of The Troublesome Raigne of King John had Perrot in mind in the composition of that play, which is usually dated by the text critics in about 1588-89. It is[Pg 141] acknowledged that the old play is based almost entirely upon the second edition of Holinshed's Chronicles, which was published in 1587, and that the Falconbridge incident has no foundation in that source, it being transposed from a portion of Hall's Chronicles relating to French history of an earlier time. If the original author's intention had been to dramatise the reign or character of King John, why should he have transposed incidents and characters from French history in no way connected with John's reign, and also have made one of these characters practically the protagonist of the action? Bearing this fact in mind, in conjunction with the evident date of composition of the old play in or about 1588-89, at the time when Perrot was recalled from Ireland and was being accused of disloyalty by his political enemies, it appears evident that the author, or authors, of The Troublesome Raigne had Perrot's interests in mind in its composition, and that its intention and personal point were recognised by the public upon its presentation, and also that it was published and rewritten in 1591, at the time when Perrot was sent to the Tower, in order further to stir up sympathy for his cause by a still more palpable and heroic characterisation.

In recasting the old play in 1591 at the most crucial period of Perrot's troubles, Shakespeare—evidently cognizant of its original intention and of the interpretation placed upon it by the theatre-going public—still further enhanced the character of Falconbridge as the protagonist of the drama, while he minimised the character of King John and quite neglected to explain the reason for much of the plot and action, which is quite clear in the old play. The neglect of historical and dramatic values, and the absence of analytical characterisation shown by Shakespeare in this[Pg 142] play when it is considered as a dramatisation of the reign of King John, has been noticed by many past critics, who have not suspected the possibility of an underlying intention in its production. Mr. Edward Rose, in his excellent essay upon Shakespeare as an adapter, writes:

"Shakespeare has no doubt kept so closely to the lines of the older play because it was a favorite with his audience and they had grown to accept its history as absolute fact; but one can hardly help thinking that, had he boldly thrown aside these trammels and taken John as his Hero, his great central figure; had he analyzed and built up before us the mass of power, craft, passion, and devilry which made up the worst of the Plantagenets; had he dramatized the grand scene of the signing of the Charter and shown vividly the gloom and horror which overhung the excommunicated land; had he painted John's last despairing struggles against rebels and invaders as he has given us the fiery end of Macbeth's life, we might have had another Macbeth, another Richard, who would by his terrible personality have welded the play together and carried us breathless through his scene of successive victory and defeat. That, by this means, something would be lost, 'tis true—Falconbridge, for example, would certainly be lesser," etc. etc.

While regretting Shakespeare's neglect of the great dramatic possibilities in the reign and the character of King John, Mr. Rose recognised Shakespeare's evident interest in the character of Falconbridge. He writes:

"In reconstructing the play the great want that struck Shakespeare seems to have been that of a strong central figure. He was attracted by the rough, powerful nature which he could see the Bastard must have been; almost like a modern dramatist writing up a part for a star actor, he introduced Falconbridge wherever it was possible, gave [Pg 143]him the end of every act (except the third), and created from a rude and inconsistent sketch a character as strong as complete and as original as even he ever drew. Throughout a series of scenes not otherwise very closely connected, this wonderful real type of faulty combative, not ignoble manhood, is developed, a support and addition to the scenes in which he has least to say, a great power where he is prominent."

Had Mr. Rose endeavoured briefly to describe the character of Sir John Perrot, he could not have done so more aptly.

Shakespeare in recasting The Troublesome Raigne of King John did not endeavour to dramatise either the character or reign of that King, but purposely followed the story of the earlier dramatist, having the same personal point in view. The author of The Troublesome Raigne of King John intentionally subordinated or distorted the actual facts of history in order to match his dramatic characterisation to the personality of Perrot, and its action to well-known incidents of Perrot's career in France and England. A palpable instance of this is exhibited in Falconbridge's soliloquy in Scene i., when questioned by the King before the Court regarding his paternity. Here the old author reflects a story of Perrot's youth which his biographers state was frequently related by Perrot to his friends. Soon after the accession of Edward VI., Perrot having by his extravagance become deeply involved in debt purposely placed himself in the path of the King's daily walk and, hearing his footsteps and pretending not to know of his presence, indulged in a soliloquy complaining of his misfortunes and lamenting his lack of wisdom and bemoaning the nonage of his half-brother the King, who in endeavouring[Pg 144] to help him would probably be overruled by the Lord Protector and the Lords of the Council. He also debated aloud with himself other means of retrieving his fortune, such as retiring from the Court into the country or betaking himself to the wars. His anonymous biographer of 1592 wrote:

"As he was thus sadly debating the Matter unto hymselfe, the Kinge came behynd hym, and overheard most of that which he sayd, who at length stepped before him, and asked him, How now Perrott (quoth the Kinge) what is the matter that you make this great Moane? To whom Sir John Perrott answered, And it lyke your Majestie, I did not thinck that your Highness had byn there. Yes, said the Kinge, we heard you well inough: And have you spent your Livinge in our Service, and is the Kinge so younge, and under Government, that he cannot give you any Thinge in Recompence of your Service? Spie out somewhat, and you shall see whether the Kinge hath not Power to bestow it on you. Then he most humbly thanked his Majestie and shortly after founde out a Concealment, which as soon as he sought, the Kinge bestowed it on hym, wherewith he paid the most part of his Debtes; and for always after he became a better Husband. This story Sir John Perrott would sometimes recounte unto his Frends, acknowledging it a greate Blessinge of God, that had given him Grace in Time to look into his decaying Estate."

Comparison of this biographical incident with the following passage from The Troublesome Raigne not only reveals the source of the dramatist's inspiration but also accounts for a scene that has appeared peculiar to many critics.

K. John. Ask Philip whose son he is.

Essex. Philip, who was thy father?

Philip. Mass, my lord, and that's a question: and you had not taken some pains with her before, I should have desired you to ask my mother.

K. John.. Say, who was thy father?

Philip. Faith, my lord, to answer you sure, he is my father that was [Pg 145]nearest my mother when I was gotten; and him I think to be Sir Robert Falconbridge.

K. John. Essex, for fashion's sake demand again: And so an end to this contention.

Robert. Was ever man thus wrong'd as Robert is?

Essex. Philip! Speak, I say; who was thy father?

K. John. Young man, how now? what! art thou in a trance?

Q. Elinor. Philip, awake! The man is in a dream.

Philip. Philippus, atavis edite Regibus. (Aside.)
What say'st thou: Philip, sprung of ancient Kings?
Quo me rapit tempestas?
What wind of honour blows this fury forth,
Or whence proceed these fumes of majesty?
Methinks I hear a hollow echo sound,
That Philip is the son unto a King:
The whistling leaves upon the trembling trees
Whistle in concert I am Richard's son;
The bubbling murmur of the water's fall
Records Philippus Regis filius;
Birds in their flight make music with their wings,
Filling the air with glory of my birth;
Birds, bubbles, leaves and mountains, echo, all
Ring in mine ears, that I am Richard's son.
Fond man, ah, whither art thou carried?
How are thy thoughts yrapt in Honour's heaven?
Forgetful what thou art, and whence thou cam'st?
Thy father's land cannot maintain these thoughts;
These thoughts are far unfitting Falconbridge;
And well they may; for why this mounting mind
Doth soar too high to stoop to Falconbridge
Why, how now? Knowest thou where thou art?
And know'st thou who expects thine answer here?
Wilt thou, upon a frantic madding vein,
Go lose thy land, and say thyself base-born?
No, keep thy land, though Richard were thy sire;
Whate'er thou think'st say thou art Falconbridge.

K. John. Speak, man! be sudden, who thy father was.

Philip. Please it your Majesty, Sir Robert ...
Philip, that Falconbridge cleaves to thy jaws: (Aside)
It will not out; I cannot for my life
Say I am son unto a Falconbridge.
Let land and living go! 'tis Honour's fire
That makes me swear King Richard was my sire.
Base to a King, adds title of more state,
Than knight's begotten, though legitimate.
Please it your Grace, I am King Richard's son.
[Pg 146]

While it is generally agreed by text critics that Shakespeare's King John was drastically revised in about 1596, the metrical tests and the scarcity of classical allusions denote its composition at about the same period as that of the original composition of Richard II.; and though the later time revision of both of these plays has no doubt replaced much of Shakespeare's earlier work in them with matter of a later time, an early date for their original composition is very evident. I therefore assign the original composition of King John to the early part of the year 1591, and believe, that in writing this play Shakespeare worked from a copy of The Troublesome Raigne of King John, and that he followed, and still further developed, the original intention of that play regarding the interests of Sir John Perrot. It is evident that King John was written at the time The Troublesome Raigne was published in 1591, and that the play was Burbage property when it was published. A play was not as a rule published until it had outrun its interest upon the stage, or had been replaced by a new play upon the same subject.

While records of Henslowe's affiliations with Lord Strange's and the Admiral's companies do not appear in his Diary until February 1592, when the Rose Theatre was ready for their occupancy, it is likely that their connection commenced in the previous year and that his affiliations with the Queen's company ended at the same time. The number of old plays formerly owned by the Queen's company that came into the hands of Strange's, the Admiral's, and Pembroke's men at this time were probably purchased from Henslowe, upon the reorganisation of companies in 1591-92, or else were brought to these companies as properties by Queen's men who joined them upon the[Pg 147] disruption of this large and powerful company at this period. Gabriel Spencer, Humphrey Jeffes, and John Sinkler, whose names are mentioned in The True Tragedy of the Duke of York, were evidently old Queen's men, the former two joining Pembroke's men, and Sinkler, Strange's men at this time. The entry of their names as actors in this play was evidently made while it was a Queen's property and when the Queen's company acted under Henslowe's auspices at the Rose Theatre between 1587 and 1591. Both Jeffes and Spencer rejoined Henslowe upon the new reorganisation of companies in 1594, and continued to perform with him and the Lord Admiral's men as Pembroke's men until 1597, when they became Admiral's men. After Spencer was killed in a duel by Ben Jonson in 1598, his widow continued to be a protégé or pensioner of Henslowe's for some years.

The generally accepted belief that the old Henry VI., The Contention, and The True Tragedie were—like The Troublesome Raigne of King John, The Seven Deadly Sins, and other plays owned by companies with which Burbage was connected—originally Queen's plays, is responsible for the otherwise unsupported assumption that Burbage was a member and the manager of the Queen's company for several years.

As the disruption of the old Queen's company and its reorganisation into a smaller company under the two Duttons, as well as the inception of Henslowe's connection with Strange's men, evidently took place some time between the Christmas season of 1590-91, when the Queen's company performed four times at Court and the Admiral-Strange company only once, and the Christmas season of 1591-92, when Strange's company performed six times and the Queen's only once, and then for the last time on record,[Pg 148] it is evident that Pembroke's company was formed also in this year. It is not unlikely then that Shakespeare's recast of The Troublesome Raigne of King John into King John was made at the instigation of the Earl of Pembroke himself at the time of Perrot's arrest in 1591. As Pembroke's father was a lifelong friend of Perrot's it is extremely probable that he also would be his partisan and well-wisher.

In every poem or play written by Shakespeare from the time he made the acquaintance of the Earl of Southampton at the end of 1591, and even for some time after the accession of James I. in 1603, I find some reflection of his interest in that nobleman or in the fortunes of the Essex party with which he was affiliated. I find no reflection of this interest in King John nor in The Comedy of Errors, except in a few passages which palpably pertain to a period of revision in the former play. From this and other subjective evidence already advanced I date the composition of both of these plays in 1591, and in doing so conform to the chronological conclusions reached by authoritative text critics whose judgments have been formed altogether upon textual and stylistic grounds.

While nearly all writers upon the Elizabethan drama recognise the topical, political, or controversial nature of much of the dramatic representation of that age, it is usual to deny for Shakespeare's plays any such topical significance. This attitude of the critics is due largely to neglect or ignorance of contemporary history, and also to the lack of a proper understanding of the chronological order in which the plays were produced, and their consequent inability to synchronise the characters or action of the plays, with circumstances of Shakespeare's life, or with matters of con[Pg 149]temporary interest, as well as to the masterly objective skill by which he disguised his intentions, in order to protect himself and his company from the stringent statutes then in force, prohibiting the presentation of matters concerning Church or State upon the stage.




A few months after the publication of Greene's A Groatsworth of Wit, Henry Chettle issued a book entitled Kinde Heartes Dreame, to which he prefaced an apology for publishing Greene's attack upon Shakespeare. He writes: "I am as sorry as if the original fault had been my fault, because myselfe have seene his demeanour no lesse civill than he exelent in the qualitie he professes, besides divers of worship have reported his uprightnes of dealing, which argues his honesty, and his facetious grace in writing that approoves his art." When critically examined, these references to Shakespeare take on a somewhat greater biographical value than has usually been claimed for them. Agreeing with the assumption that Shakespeare left Stratford between 1586 and 1587,—that is, at between the ages of twenty-two and twenty-three years,—we are informed by these allusions, that by the time he had reached his twenty-eighth year he had attained such social recognition as to have enlisted in his behalf the active sympathies of "divers of worship,"—that is, men of assured[Pg 151] social prestige and distinction,—whose protest against Greene's attack evidently induced Chettle's amends. Chettle's book was published in December 1592; just four months later, in April 1593, Venus and Adonis was licensed for publication, and shortly afterwards was issued with the well-known dedication to Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. It is reasonable to assume that this poem and its dedication had been submitted in MS. to Southampton and held some time previous to the date of the application for licence to publish, and that his favour was well assured before the poem was finally let go to press. The few months intervening between Greene's attack and Chettle's apology, and the application for licence to publish, may then easily be bridged by the reading in MS. form of Venus and Adonis by Southampton's friends. It is likely also that Greene's public attack upon Shakespeare led this generous and high-spirited nobleman to acquiesce in the use of his name as sponsor for the publication. The nearness of these dates and incidents gives us good grounds for believing that the Earl of Southampton was included in the number referred to by Chettle as "divers of worship." In using the expression "the qualitie he professes," Chettle plainly referred to Shakespeare's profession as an actor-manager, and of his excellence in this respect bears his own record: "myselfe," he writes, "have seene his demeanour no lesse civill than he exelent in the qualitie he professes." Of Shakespeare's literary merits, however, he expresses no personal knowledge, but tells us that "divers of worship have reported his uprightnes of dealing, which argues his honesty, and his facetious grace in writing that approoves his art." Had Chettle referred to any of Shakespeare's known dramatic work he could have passed his own judgment, as in fact he[Pg 152] does upon his civility as manager and his excellence as an actor. Having seen Shakespeare act he would also, no doubt, have heard his lines declaimed had our poet at that period produced upon the public boards any of his original dramas. The term "facetious grace" might well be applied to the manner and matter of Shakespeare's lighter comedies had any of them been publicly acted, but would be somewhat inapt if applied to the rather stilted staginess of his early historical work. Much argument has been advanced in various attempts to prove that Shakespeare produced Love's Labour's Lost, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Romeo and Juliet, and Midsummer Nights Dream previous to the year 1591-92, but no particle of evidence, either external or internal, has yet been advanced in support of these assumptions; much, however, has been advanced against them. If we may accept Shakespeare's own subscribed statement as evidence, and that evidence is truthful, Venus and Adonis was his first acknowledged original literary effort. In the dedication to Southampton he distinctly names it "the first heir of my invention." It is probable, then, that the "facetious grace" in writing, of which "divers of worship" had reported, referred to this poem, which had been held then for several months (as were his Sonnets for years) in MS. "among his private friends."

At the time that Chettle published his Kinde Heartes Dreame Shakespeare had already produced The Comedy of Errors and King John, and had evidently had a hand with Marlowe in the revision of The True Tragedie of the Duke of York. It is unlikely, however, that Chettle had witnessed a performance of The Comedy of Errors, which was produced primarily for private presentation. The True Tragedie of the Duke of York and The Troublesome Raigne of King John[Pg 153] were both old plays by other hands, and it was for publishing Greene's attack upon Shakespeare for his share in the revision of the former, that Chettle now apologised. He would therefore not regard his revision of The Troublesome Raigne, if he knew of it, as original work. It is evident, then, Shakespeare's "facetious grace in writing," of which Chettle had heard, referred either to Venus and Adonis, or The Comedy of Errors, or both, neither of which were known to the public at this time.

Friendship may perhaps be too strong a term to apply to the relations that subsisted at this date between Southampton and Shakespeare, but we have good proof in Chettle's references to him late in 1592, in the dedication of Venus and Adonis in 1593, and of Lucrece in 1594, as well as the first book of Sonnets,—which I shall later show belongs to the earlier period of their connection,—that the acquaintance between these two men, at whatever period it may have commenced, was at least in being towards the end of the year 1592. A brief outline and examination of the recorded incidents of Southampton's life in these early years may throw some new light upon the earliest stage of this acquaintance, especially when those incidents and conditions are considered correlatively with the spirit and intention of the poems which Shakespeare wrote for him, and dedicated to him a little later.

Thomas Wriothesley, second Earl of Southampton, and father of Shakespeare's patron, died on 4th October 1581. Henry, his only surviving son, thus became Earl of Southampton before he had attained his eighth birthday, and consequently became, and remained until his majority, a ward of the Crown. The Court of Chancery was at that period a much simpler institution than it is to-day, and[Pg 154] Lord Burghley seems personally to have exercised the chief functions of that Court in its relation to wards in Chancery, and also to have monopolised its privileges. We may infer that this was a position by no means distasteful to that prudent minister's provident and nepotic spirit. Burghley was essentially of that type of statesmen who are better contented with actual power, and its accruing profits, than the appearance of power and the glory of its trappings. Leicester, Raleigh, and Essex might, in turn, pose their day as they willed upon the political stage so long as they confined themselves to subordinate or ornamental capacities; but whenever they attempted seriously to encroach upon the reins of power, he set himself to circumvent them with a patience and finesse that invariably wrought their undoing.

In this system of politics he had an apt pupil in his son, Sir Robert Cecil, who, viewed through the ages, while presenting a less solid figure than his father, displays a much more refined and Machiavellian craft.

The attention and care which Burghley bestowed from the beginning upon his young ward's affairs bespeak an interest within an interest when his prudent and calculating nature is borne in mind and the later incidents of his guardianship are considered.

Towards the end of 1585, at the age of twelve, Southampton became a student of St. John's College, Cambridge, from whence he graduated as M.A. about four years later, i.e. in June 1589. After leaving Cambridge in 1589, he lived for over a year with his mother at Cowdray House in Sussex. Early in this year, or possibly while Southampton was still at Cambridge, Burghley had opened negotiations with the Countess of Southampton with the object of[Pg 155] uniting the interests and fortunes of her son with his own house, by consummating a marriage between this wealthy and promising young peer and his own granddaughter, Lady Elizabeth Vere, daughter of the Earl of Oxford. Burghley's extreme interest in the match is fully attested by a few letters that are still extant. In the Calendar State Papers we have an apologetic letter from Sir Thomas Stanhope (whose wife and daughter had recently visited Lady Southampton at Cowdray) to Lord Burghley, dated 15th July 1590, assuring him that he had never sought to procure the young Earl of Southampton in marriage for his daughter, as he knew Burghley intended marriage between him and the Lady Vere. That an actual engagement of marriage had already been entered into, we have proof in another letter dated 19th September 1590, from Anthony Brown, Viscount Montague (Southampton's maternal grandfather), to Lord Burghley. Regarding this engagement he writes, that Southampton "is not averse from it," and repeats further, that his daughter, Lady Southampton, is not aware of any alteration in her son's mind. The tone of this latter epistle does not seem to evince any great enthusiasm for the match upon the part of either Southampton or his mother; its rather diffident spirit was not lost upon Burghley, who, within a few days of its receipt, commanded the attendance of his young ward at Court. Upon 14th October 1590—that is, less than a month after Viscount Montague's letter to Burghley—we have a letter from Lady Southampton announcing her son's departure for London, and commending him to Burghley, but making no mention of the proposed marriage. From the fact that she thanks Burghley for the "long time" he "had intrusted" her son with her, we may infer that his present departure for[Pg 156] London was occasioned by Burghley's order, and also that the "long time" indicated by Lady Southampton's letter, was the interval between Southampton's leaving Cambridge in June 1589 and his present departure for London in October 1590. We are also assured by this data that Southampton had not travelled upon the Continent previous to his coming to Court. Between the time of his coming to London in October 1590 and August 1591, I find no dates in contemporary records referring to Southampton; but it appears evident that these nine months were spent at Court.

Some misgivings regarding the young Earl's desire for the match with his granddaughter seem to have arisen in Burghley's mind in March 1592, at which time Southampton was with the English forces in France. From this we may judge that Southampton's departure for the wars was undertaken at his own initiative and not at Burghley's suggestion. It appears likely that a lack of marital ardour inspired his martial ardour at this time, and that Burghley was conscious of his disinclination to the proposed marriage. In a letter dated 6th March 1592 (new style) Roger Manners writing to Burghley tells him he has been at North Hall with the Countess of Warwick, whom he reports as "very well inclined to the match between the Earl of Bedford and the Lady Vere." "She is desirous to know," he adds, "if your Lordship approves of it." While this letter shows that Burghley at this date had doubts regarding Southampton's fulfilment of his engagement, other inferences lead me to judge that it was not finally disrupted until the spring of 1594.

We have record that Southampton's name was entered as a student of Gray's Inn in July 1590,—that is, three months before his arrival in London,—and may therefore assume that[Pg 157] some of his subsequent time in London was occupied in more or less perfunctory legal studies.

As continental travel and an acquaintance with foreign tongues—at least Italian and French—had then come to be regarded as a part of a nobleman's education, Burghley, soon after Southampton's coming to Court, provided him with a tutor of languages in the person of John Florio, who thereafter continued in his pay and patronage as late as, if not later than, 1598. Even after this date Southampton continued to befriend Florio for many years.

As Florio continued in Southampton's service during the entire Sonnet period and played an important rôle in what shall hereafter be developed as The Story of the Sonnets, and as he shall also be shown to have provided Shakespeare with a model for several important characters in The Plays of the Sonnet Period, a brief consideration of his heredity and personal characteristics may help us to realise the manner in which Shakespeare held "the mirror up to nature" in his dramatic characterisations.

John Florio was born before 1553 and was the son of Michael Angelo Florio, a Florentine Protestant, who left Italy in the reign of Henry VIII. to escape the persecution in the Valteline. Florio's father was pastor to a congregation of his religious compatriots in London for several years. He was befriended by Archbishop Cranmer, and was patronised by Sir William Cecil during the reign of Edward VI.; but lost his church and the patronage of Cecil on account of charges of gross immorality that were made against him. We are informed by Anthony Wood that the elder Florio left England upon the accession of Mary, and moved to the Continent, probably to France, where John Florio received his early education. The earliest[Pg 158] knowledge we have of John Florio in England is that he lived at Oxford for several years in his youth, and that, in or about 1576, he became tutor in Italian to a Mr. Barnes, son of the Bishop of Durham. In 1581, according to Anthony Wood, Florio matriculated at Magdalen and was teacher and instructor to certain scholars at the University. In 1578 he was still living at Oxford when he dedicated his First Fruites to the Earl of Leicester, his dedication being dated "From my lodgings in Worcester Place." In 1580 he dedicated a translation from the Italian of Ramusio to Edward Bray, sheriff of Oxford, and two years later dedicated to Sir Edmund Dyer a MS. collection of Italian proverbs, which is also dated from Oxford on the 12th of November 1582.

Nothing definite is known concerning Florio between 1582 and 1591; in the latter year he published his Second Fruites, dedicating it to a recent patron, Mr. Nicholas Saunder of Ewell. Between about 1590 and 1591, and the end of 1598 and possibly later, he continued in the pay and patronage of the Earl of Southampton, dedicating his Worlde of Wordes in the latter year "To the Right Honourable Patrons of Virtue, Patterns of Honour, Roger, Earl of Rutland; Henry, Earl of Southampton; and Lucy, Countess of Bedford." A new and enlarged edition of this book containing his portrait was published in 1611. In the medallion surrounding this picture he gives his age as fifty-eight, which would date his birth in 1553, the year of Queen Mary's accession. It is probable that Florio understated his age, as he is said to have received his early education in France and to have returned to England with his father upon the accession of Elizabeth in 1558. Anthony Wood gives the date of his birth as 1545, and though I[Pg 159] cannot find his authority am inclined to believe the earlier date to be correct. Florio was vain enough to prevaricate on a matter of this nature. In 1603 he published his chief work, a translation of The Essaies of Montaigne. Florio was attached to the Court of James I. as French and Italian tutor to Prince Henry and the Queen, and also held the appointment of Gentleman of the Privy Chamber.

Florio was married on 9th September 1617 to a Rose Spicer, of whom nothing earlier than the marriage record is known. From the facts that his daughter Aurelia was already married at the time of his death in 1625, and that in his will he leaves her "the wedding ring wherewith I married her mother," it is evident that Rose Spicer was his second wife.

Following a suggestion made by the Rev. J.H. Halpin, it is supposed that his first wife was a Rose Daniel, a sister of Samuel Daniel, the poet, who was Florio's classfellow at Oxford. In the address to dedicatory verses by Daniel, prefixed to the 1611 edition of Florio's Worlde of Wordes he calls Florio "My dear friend and brother, Mr. John Florio, one of the gentlemen of Her Majesties Royal Privy Chamber." From this it has been supposed that Florio's first wife was Daniel's sister, and Mr. Halpin inferred that she was named Rose from his assumption that Spenser refers to her as Rosalinde, and to Florio as Menalcas in The Shepheards Calendar in 1579. Mr. Grosart, who carefully investigated the matter, states that Daniel—who in 1611 was also a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber—had only two sisters, neither of them being named Rose. It is likely, then, that Daniel referred to his official connection with Florio by the term "brother," as in 1603, in a similar address to dedicatory verses prefixed to Montaigne's Essaies[Pg 160] he refers to him only as "My Friend." There is no record of Florio's first marriage.

It is very unlikely, however, that two women named Rose should have come so intimately into Florio's life, and probable, when all the evidence is considered, that Rose Spicer, the "dear wife Rose" mentioned in his will, was the "Rosalinde" of his youth, whom, it appears, he had seduced, and with whom he had evidently lived in concubinage in the intervening years; making tardy amends by marriage in 1617, only eight years before his death. His marriage to Rose Spicer was evidently brought about by the admonitions of his friend Theophilus Field, Bishop of Llandaff, under whose influence Florio became religious in his declining years.

In Florio's will, in which he bequeaths nearly all of his small property to his "beloved wife Rose," he regrets that he "cannot give or leave her more in requital of her tender love, loving care, painful diligence, and continual labour to me in all my fortunes and many sicknesses, than whom never had husband a more loving wife, painful nurse, and comfortable consort." The words I have italicised indicate conjugal relations covering a much longer period than the eight years between his formal marriage in 1617 and his death in 1625. The term "all my fortunes" certainly implies a connection between them antedating Florio's sixty-fourth year.

We may infer that the Bishop of Llandaff and Florio's pastor, Dr. Cluet, whom he appointed overseers and executors of his will, held Florio in light esteem, as "for certain reasons" they renounced its execution. The Earl of Pembroke, to whom he bequeathed his books, apparently neglected to avail himself of the legacy, and probably for the same[Pg 161] reasons. An examination of Florio's characteristic will—in the Appendix—will suggest the nature of these reasons.

Mr. Halpin's inference that Florio as Menalcas had already married "Rosalinde" in 1596, when the last books of The Faerie Queen were published, is deduced from the idea that the originals for "Mirabella" and the "Carle and fool" of the The Faerie Queen are identical with those for "Rosalinde" and "Menalcas" of The Shepheards Calendar. While it is probable that Spenser had the same originals in mind in both cases, an analysis of his verses in The Faerie Queen shows that the "Carle and fool," who accompany Mirabella, represent two persons, i.e. "Disdaine" and "Scorne." In the following verses Mirabella speaks:

"In prime of youthly yeares, when first the flowre
Of beauty gan to bud, and bloosme delight,
And Nature me endu'd with plenteous dowre
Of all her gifts, that pleased each living sight,
I was belov'd of many a gentle Knight,
And sude and sought with all the service dew:
Full many a one for me deepe groand and sight,
And to the dore of death for sorrow drew,
Complayning out on me that would not on them rew.

But let them love that list, or live or die,
Me list not die for any lovers doole;
Ne list me leave my loved libertie
To pitty him that list to play the foole;
To love myselfe I learned had in schoole.
Thus I triumphed long in lovers paine.
And sitting carelesse on the scorners stoole,
Did laugh at those that did lament and plaine;
But all is now repayd with interest againe.

For loe! the winged God that woundeth harts
Causde me be called to accompt therefore;
And for revengement of those wrongfull smarts,
Which I to others did inflict afore,
Addeem'd me to endure this penaunce sore;
That in this wise, and this unmeete array,
With these two lewd companions, and no more,
Disdaine and Scorne, I through the world should stray.
[Pg 162]

Assuming "Mirabella" and "Rosalinde" to indicate the same woman, i.e. Rose Spicer, whom Florio married in 1617, but with whom he had been living in concubinage for about eighteen years when the last three books of The Faerie Queen were published, Mirabella's penance of being forced to "stray through the world" accompanied by "Disdaine" and "Scorne," would match her plight as Florio's mistress, but would not apply to her as his wife.

The Rosalinde indicated by Spenser was undoubtedly a north of England girl, while Samuel Daniel belonged to a Somerset family. While it is certain that Florio was married before 1617, it is evident he did not marry a Miss Daniel, and that Menalcas had not married Rosalinde in 1596; yet it is practically certain that Spenser refers to Florio as Menalcas, and that Shakespeare recognised that fact in 1592 and pilloried Florio to the initiated of his day as Parolles in Love's Labour's Won in this connection. Florio habitually signed himself "Resolute John Florio" to acquaintances, obligations, dedications, etc. When he commenced this practice I cannot learn, but the use of the word was known to Spenser in 1579, as the Greek word Menalcas means Resolute. It is not difficult to fathom Spenser's meaning in regard to the relations between Menalcas and Rosalinde, and it is clear that he had a poor opinion of the moral character of the former, and plainly charges him with seduction.

"And thou, Menalcas, that by treacheree
Didst underfong my lasse to waxe so light,
Shouldest well be known for such thy villanee.
But since I am not as I wish I were,
Ye gentle Shepheards, which your flocks do feede,
Whether on hylls, or dales, or other where,
Beare witnesse all of thys so wicked deede:
[Pg 163]And tell the lasse, whose flowre is woxe a weede,
And faultlesse fayth is turned to faithlesse fere,
That she the truest shepheards hart made bleede,
That lyves on earth, and loved her most dere."

The very unusual word "underfong" which Spenser uses in these verses, and the gloss which he appends to the verses of The Shepheards Calendar for June, were not lost upon Shakespeare. Spenser, in the glossary, writes: "Menalcas, the name of a shephearde in Virgile; but here is meant a person unknowne and secrete, against whome he often bitterly invayeth. Underfonge, undermyne, and deceive by false suggestion." The immoral flippancy of the remarkable dialogue between the disreputable Parolles and the otherwise sweet and maidenly Helena, in Act I. Scene i. of All's Well that Ends Well, has often been noticed by critics as a peculiar lapse in dramatic congruity on the part of Shakespeare. This is evidently one of several such instances in his plays where he sacrificed his objective dramatic art to a subjective contingency, though by doing so undoubtedly adding a greater interest to contemporary presentations not only by the palpable reflection of Spenser's point at Florio in the play on the word "undermine" in a similar connection, but also as reflecting the wide latitude his Italianate breeding and manners and his Mediterranean unmorality allowed him and his type to take in conversing with English gentlewomen at that period.

The Rev. J.H. Halpin was not far from the truth in saying that "Florio was beset with tempers and oddities which exposed him more perhaps than any man of his time to the ridicule of his contemporaries"; and that "he was in his literary career, jealous, vain, irritable, pedantic, bombastical, petulant, and quarrelsome, ever on the[Pg 164] watch for an affront, always in the attitude of a fretful porcupine."

Florio became connected as tutor of languages with the Earl of Southampton some time before the end of April 1591, when he issued his Second Fruites and dedicated it to his recent patron, Nicholas Saunder of Ewell. In this publication there is a passage which not only exhibits the man's unblushing effrontery, but also gives us a passing glimpse of his early relations with his noble patron, the spirit of which Shakespeare reflects in Falstaff's impudent familiarity with Prince Hal. This passage serves also to show that at the time it was written, the last of April 1591, Florio had entered the pay and patronage of the Earl of Southampton. He introduces two characters as follows, and, with true Falstaffian assurance, gives them his own and the Earl of Southampton's Christian names, Henry and John. Falstaff invariably addresses the Prince as Hal.

Henry. Let us make a match at tennis.

John. Agreed, this fine morning calls for it.

Henry. And after, we will go to dinner, and after dinner we will see a play.

John. The plaies they play in England are neither right comedies nor right tragedies.

Henry. But they do nothing but play every day.

John. Yea: but they are neither right comedies nor right tragedies.

Henry. How would you name them then?

John. Representations of history, without any decorum.

It shall later be shown that Chapman also noticed Florio's presumption in this instance, and that he recognised the fact, or else assumed as a fact, that Florio's stricture on English historical drama was directed against Shakespeare.

We may judge from the conversation between Henry and John that Southampton, in attaining a colloquial knowledge[Pg 165] of French and Italian, entered into intimate relations with Florio, and from the interest that he displayed in dramatic affairs in later years, that during his first year in London he would be likely frequently to witness the performance of plays in the public theatres. It is probable, then, that he would have seen performances by both Pembroke's and Strange's companies in this year.

It is evident that an acquaintance between the Earl of Southampton and Shakespeare was not formed previous to Southampton's coming to Court in November 1590. A first acquaintance undoubtedly had its inception between that date and Southampton's departure for France early in 1592. I shall now develop evidence for my belief that their first acquaintance was made upon the occasion of the Queen's progress to Cowdray and Tichfield House in August and September 1591.

I find no record in the State Papers concerning Southampton between the date of his departure from home for the Court in October 1590, and 2nd March 1592 (new style), when he wrote from Dieppe to the Earl of Essex. We may, however, infer that he was still in England on 15th August 1591, the date of the arrival of the Queen and Court at Cowdray House. It is evident also that the progress would not have proceeded a week later to his own county seat, Tichfield House, unless he was present. We have evidence in the State Papers that the itineraries of the Queen's progresses were usually planned by Burghley; the present progress to Cowdray and Tichfield was undoubtedly arranged in furtherance of his matrimonial plans for his granddaughter and Southampton. The records of this progress give us details concerning the entertainments for the Queen, which were given at some of the other noblemen's houses she visited;[Pg 166] the verses, masques, and plays being still preserved in a few instances, even where she tarried for only a few days. The Court remained at Cowdray House for a full week. No verses nor plays recited or performed upon this occasion, nor upon the occasion of her visit, a week later, to the Earl of Southampton's house at Tichfield, have been preserved in the records. It is very probable, however, in the light of the facts to follow, that our poet and his fellow-players attended the Earl of Southampton, both at Cowdray House and at Tichfield, during this progress. In the description of the Queen's entertainment during her stay at Cowdray, I find a most suggestive resemblance to much of the action and plot of Love's Labours Lost. The Queen and Court arrived at Cowdray House at eight o'clock on Saturday evening, 15th August. That night, the records tell us, "her Majesty took her rest and so in like manner the next, which was Sunday, being most royally feasted, the proportion of breakfast being 3 oxen and 140 geese." "The next day," we are informed, "she rode in the park where a delicate bower" was prepared and "a nymph with a sweet song delivered her a crossbow to shoot at the deer of which she killed three or four and the Countess of Kildare one." In Love's Labour's Lost the Princess and her ladies shoot at deer from a coppice.

Princess. Then, forester, my friend, where is the bush
That we must stand and play the murderer in?

For. Hereby, upon the edge of yonder coppice;
A stand where you may make the fairest shoot.

In Act IV. Scene ii., Holofernes makes an "extemporal epitaph on the death of the deer," which is reminiscent of the "sweet song" delivered to the Queen by "the nymph."[Pg 167]

Hol. Sir Nathaniel, will you hear an extemporal epitaph on the death of the deer? And, to humour the ignorant, call I the deer the princess killed a pricket.

I will something affect the letter, for it argues facility.

The preyful princess pierced and prick'd a pretty pleasing pricket;
Some say a sore, but not a sore, till now made sore with shooting.
The dogs did yell; put L to sore, then sorel jumps from thicket;
Or pricket sore, or else sorel; the people fall a-hooting.
If sore be sore, then L to sore makes fifty sores one sorel.
Of one sore I an hundred make by adding but one more L.

In a former publication I have shown that an antagonism had developed between Shakespeare and Chapman as early as the year 1594, and in a more recent one have shown Matthew Roydon's complicacy with Chapman in his hostility to Shakespeare, and also Shakespeare's cognizance of it. I have displayed Shakespeare's answers to the attacks of these scholars in his caricature of Chapman as Holofernes, and of the curate Roydon as the curate Nathaniel. Chapman's attack upon Shakespeare in 1593 in the early Histriomastix and his reflection of the Earl of Southampton as Mavortius give evidence that his hostility owed its birth to Shakespeare's success in winning the patronage and friendship of Southampton; unless Chapman and Roydon had already solicited this nobleman's patronage, or had at least come into contact with him in some manner, and considered themselves displaced by Shakespeare, both the virulence of their opposition to our poet, and the manner and matter of Chapman's slurs against him in Histriomastix, and in the dedications of his poems to Matthew Roydon in 1594-95, are unaccountable.

It is likely that Matthew Roydon was one of the theological poets—who wrote anonymously for the stage—mentioned by Robert Greene in the introduction to[Pg 168] The Farewell to Folly, which was published in 1591. It is probable also that Roydon is referred to as a writer for the stage in Greene's Groatsworth of Wit, where, after indicating Marlowe, Peele, and Nashe, he says:

"In this I might insert two more who have both writ against (for) these buckram gentlemen."

Now seeing that both Roydon and Chapman are satirised by Shakespeare in Love's Labours Lost, it occurs to me that the "preyful Princess" verses quoted above (which display parody in every line) are intended by Shakespeare to caricature the known work of the author of the sweet song delivered to the Queen by the nymph, and consequently that this song was from the pen of one of this learned couple. As I have already noticed, in the records of the Queen's stay at the other noblemen's houses that she visited on this progress, many verses and songs appear which were written specially for these occasions, while no songs, nor verses, have been preserved from the Cowdray or Tichfield festivities, occasions when they would be likely to have been used, considering Southampton's interest in literary matters and the court paid to him by the writers of the day. Among the poems which I have collected that I attribute to Roydon, I have elsewhere noticed one that Shakespeare makes fun of at a later time in Midsummer Night's Dream—that is, The Shepherd's Slumber. This poem deals with the exact season of the year when the Queen was at Cowdray—"peascod time"—and also with the killing of deer,

"when hound to horn gives ear till buck be killed";

and in one verse describes just such methods of killing deer as is suggested, both in Love's Labours Lost[Pg 169] and in Nichol's Progresses, which latter records the entertainment for the Queen at Cowdray House.

"And like the deer, I make them fall!
That runneth o'er the lawn.
One drops down here! another there!
In bushes as they groan;
I bend a scornful, careless ear,
To hear them make their moan."

May not this be the identical "sweet song" delivered by the nymph to the Queen, and the occasion of the progress to Cowdray, in 1591, indicate the entry of Roydon and Chapman into the rivalry between Shakespeare and the scholars inaugurated two years earlier by Greene and Nashe?

This poem which I attribute to Roydon has all the manner of an occasional production and is about as senseless as most of his other "absolute comicke inventions." The masque-like allegory it exhibits, introducing "Delight," "Wit," "Good Sport," "Honest Meaning" as persons, was much affected by the Queen and Court in their entertainments. At the marriage of Lord Herbert, son of the Earl of Worcester, in 1599, a masque was given for the Queen in which we are told eight ladies of the Court performed. One of these ladies "wooed her to dawnce, her Majesty asked what she was, affection she said, affection, said the Queen, affection is false, yet her Majesty rose and dawnced." During the stay at Cowdray similar make-believe and allegory were evidently used in the entertainments given for the Queen. Roydon's poem may, like Love's Labours Lost, be a reflection of such courtly nonsense.

During the first three days of the Queen's stay at Cowdray she was feasted and entertained (the records inform us) by Lady Montague, but on the fourth day "she dined at the Priory," where Lord Montague kept bachelor's hall, and[Pg 170] whither he had retired to receive and entertain the Queen without the assistance of Lady Montague. This reception and entertainment of the Queen by Lord Montague was, no doubt, accompanied by fantastic allegory—Lord Montague and his friends playing the parts of hermits, or philosophers in retreat, as in the case of the King of Navarre and his friends in Love's Labour's Lost. The paucity of plot in this play has been frequently noticed, and no known basis for its general action and plot has ever been discovered or proposed.

At this time (1591) Shakespeare had been in London only from four to five years, and, judging from the prominence in his profession which he shortly afterwards attained, we may be assured that these were years of patient drudgery in his calling. Neither in his Stratford years, nor during these inceptive theatrical years, would he be likely to have had much, if any, previous experience with the social life of the nobility; yet here, in what is recognised by practically all critical students as his earliest comedy, the original composition of which is dated by the best text critics in, or about, 1591, he displays an intimate acquaintance with their sports and customs which in spirit and detail most significantly coincide with the actual records of the Queen's progress, late in 1591, to Cowdray House, the home of the mother of the nobleman whose fortunes, from this time forward for a period of from ten to fifteen years, may be shown to have influenced practically every poem and play he produced.

As the incidents of the Queen's stay at Cowdray are reflected in the plot and action of Loves Labour's Lost, so, in All's Well that Ends Well, or, at least, in those portions of that play recognised by the best critics as the remains of the older play of Love's Labour's Won, the incidents and atmosphere of the Queen's stay at Tichfield House are also[Pg 171] suggested. The gentle and dignified Countess of Rousillon suggests the widowed Countess of Southampton; the wise and courtly Lafeu gives us a sketch of Sir Thomas Heneage, the Vice-Chamberlain of the Court, who married Lady Southampton about three years later. Bertram's insensibility to Helena's love, and indifference to her charms, as well as his departure for the French Court, coincide with the actual facts in the case of Southampton, who at this time was apathetic to the match planned by his friends, and who also left home for France shortly after the Queen's visit to Cowdray. Parolles is, I am convinced, a caricature from life, and in his original characterisation in Love's Labour's Won was probably a replica of the original Armado of the earliest form of Love's Labours Lost. Both of these characters I believe I can demonstrate to be early sketches, or caricatures, of John Florio, the same individual who is caricatured in Henry IV. and the Merry Wives of Windsor as Sir John Falstaff. The characterisation of Parolles as we have it in All's Well that Ends Well is probably much more accentuated than the Parolles of the earlier form of the play, in which he would most likely have been presented as a fantastical fop, somewhat of the order of Armado. By the time the earlier play of 1591-92 was rewritten into its present form, in 1598, the original of the character of Parolles had in Shakespeare's opinion developed also into a "misleader of youth"; in fact, into another Falstaff, minus the adipose tissue.

As both Loves Labour's Lost and Love's Labour's Won (All's Well that Ends Well in its early form) reflect persons and incidents of the Cowdray-Tichfield progress, it is evident that both plays were composed after the event. It is of interest then to consider which, if any, of Shakespeare's plays were likely to have been presented upon that occasion.[Pg 172]

As this narrative and argument develop, a date of composition later than the date of the Cowdray progress—when Shakespeare first formed the acquaintance of the Earl of Southampton—and based upon subjective evidence regarding the poet's relations with this nobleman, yet coinciding with the chronological conclusions of the best text critics, shall be demonstrated for all of Shakespeare's early plays with the exception of King John and The Comedy of Errors. In all the early plays except these two I find palpable time reflections of Shakespeare's interest in the Earl of Southampton or his affairs. I therefore date the original composition of both of these early plays previous to the Cowdray progress, in September 1591. I have already advanced my evidence for the original composition of Shakespeare's King John early in 1591. I cannot so palpably demonstrate the composition of The Comedy of Errors in this year, but, following the lead of the great majority of the text critics who date its composition in this year, and finding no internal reflection of Southampton or his affairs, I infer that it was written after the composition of King John, before Shakespeare had made Southampton's acquaintance and intentionally for presentation before the Queen and Court at Cowdray or Tichfield. The fact that The Comedy of Errors is the shortest of all Shakespeare's plays, the farce-like nature of the play and its recorded presentation in 1594 before the members of Gray's Inn, with which Southampton was connected, marks it as one of the plays originally composed for private rather than for public presentation. It is evident that it never proved sufficiently popular upon the public boards to warrant its enlargement to the size of the average publicly presented play.

While I cannot learn the actual date at which Southampton left England, we have proof in a letter[Pg 173] written by him to the Earl of Essex, that he was in France upon 2nd March 1592.

When we take into consideration the fact that this visit of the Queen's to Cowdray and Tichfield was arranged by Burghley in furtherance of his plans to marry his granddaughter to the Earl of Southampton, and that Shakespeare's earlier sonnets (which I shall argue were written with the intention of forwarding this match) are of a period very slightly later than this, it is evident that the incidents of the Queen's stay at Cowdray and Tichfield would become known to Shakespeare by report, even though he was not himself present upon those occasions. The plot of the first four Acts of Love's Labour's Lost, such as it is, bears such a strong resemblance to the recorded incidents of that visit as to suggest reminiscence much more than hearsay.

While Burghley in this affair was, no doubt, primarily seeking a suitable alliance for his granddaughter, the rather hurried and peremptory manner of Southampton's invitation to Court may partially be accounted for by other motives, when the conditions of the Court and its intrigues at that immediate period are considered.

The long struggle for political supremacy between Burghley and Elizabeth's first, and most enduring favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, came to an end in 1588 through the death of Leicester in that year. While Elizabeth's faith in Burghley's political wisdom was never at any time seriously shaken by the counsels of her more polished and courtly confidant, Leicester, there was a period in her long flirtation with the latter nobleman when the great fascination, which he undoubtedly exercised over her, seemed likely to lead her into a course which would completely alter, not only the political complexion of the[Pg 174] Court, but possibly also the actual destinies of the Crown. There was never at any period of their career any love lost between Burghley and Leicester; the latter, in the heyday of his favour, frequently expressed himself in such plain terms regarding Burghley that he could have had little doubt of the disastrous effect upon his own fortunes which might ensue from the consummation of Leicester's matrimonial ambitions. He, withal, wisely gauged the character and limits of Leicester's influence with Elizabeth. While Leicester played upon the vanities and weakness of the woman, Burghley appealed to the strong mentality and love of power of the queen; yet though he unceasingly opposed Leicester's projects and ambitions, wherein they threatened his own political supremacy, or the good of the State, he seems to have recognised the impossibility of undermining the Queen's personal regard for her great favourite, which continued through all the years of his selfish, blundering, and criminal career, down to the day of his death. While Leicester also in time appears to have realised the impossibility of seriously impairing Burghley's power, he, to the last, lost no opportunity of baffling that minister's more cherished personal policies. In introducing his stepson, Essex, to Court life and the notice of the Queen, in 1583, it is evident that he had in mind designs other than the advancement of his young kinsman. Essex, from the first, seems to have realised in whose shoes he trod, and for the first ten years of his life at Court fully maintained the Leicester tradition, and seemed likely in time even to refine upon and enhance it. Had this young nobleman possessed ordinary equipoise of temper it is questionable if Burghley would later have succeeded in securing the succession of his own place and power to his[Pg 175] son, Sir Robert Cecil. Preposterous as it may seem, when judged from a modern point of view, that the personal influence of this youth of twenty-three with the now aged Queen should in any serious measure have menaced the firm power and cautious policies of the experienced Burghley, we have abundance of evidence that he and his son regarded Essex's growing ascendancy as no light matter. From their long experience and intimate association with Elizabeth, and knowing her vanities and weaknesses, as well as her strength, they apprehended in her increasing favour for Essex the beginning and rooting of a power which might in time disintegrate their own solid foundations. The subtlety, dissimulation, and unrelenting persistency with which Burghley and his son opposed themselves to Essex's growing influence while yet posing as his confidants and well-wishers, fully bespeak the measure of their fears. While Burghley himself lacked the polished manners and graceful presence of the courtier, which so distinguished Raleigh, Leicester, and Essex, and owed his influence and power entirely to qualities of the mind and his indefatigable application to business, he had come to recognise the importance of these more ornamental endowments in securing and holding the regard of Elizabeth. His son, Sir Robert Cecil, who was not only puny and deformed, but also somewhat sickly all his days, made, and could make, no pretensions to courtier-like graces, and must depend for Court favour, to a yet greater degree than his father, upon his own powers of mind and will. To combat Essex's social influence at Court, these two more clerkly politicians, soon after Essex's appearance, proceeded to supplement their own power by making an ally of the accomplished Raleigh; to whom, previous to this, they had shown little[Pg 176] favour. They soon succeeded in fomenting a rivalry between these two courtiers which, with some short periods of truce, continued until their combined machinations finally brought Essex to the block. How Sir Robert Cecil, having used Raleigh as a tool against Essex, in turn effected his political ruin shall be shown in due course.

We shall now return to Southampton and to the period of his coming to London and the Court, towards the end of October, in the year 1590. A recent biographer of Shakespeare, writing of Southampton, sums up the incidents of this period in the following generalisation: "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." This not only hurries the narrative but also misconstrues the facts and ignores the most interesting phases of the friendship between these noblemen, as they influenced Southampton's subsequent connection with Shakespeare. Essex may have acknowledged Southampton's fascination at this date, though I find no evidence that he did do so, but for the assertion that he "thenceforth" displayed in his welfare a brotherly interest there is absolutely no basis. All reasonable inference, and some actual evidence, lead me to quite divergent conclusions regarding the relations that subsisted between these young noblemen at this early date. Southampton's interests, it is true, became closely interwoven with those of Essex at a somewhat later period when he had become enamoured of Essex's[Pg 177] cousin, Elizabeth Vernon, whom he eventually married. The inception of this latter affair cannot, however, at the earliest, be dated previous to the late spring of 1594. At whatever date Southampton and Essex became intimate friends, there can be no doubt that such a conjunction was contrary to Burghley's intentions in bringing Southampton to the Court in October 1590. In making use of Raleigh to counteract Essex's influence with the Queen, the Cecils were well aware, as their subsequent treatment of Raleigh proves, that they might in him augment a power which, if opposed to their own, would prove even more dangerous than that of Essex; yet feeling the need of a friend and ally in the more intimately social life of the Court, whose interests would be identical with their own, they chose what appeared to them an auspicious moment to introduce their graceful and accomplished protégé and prospective kinsman, to the notice of the Queen, whose predilection for handsome young courtiers seemed to increase with advancing age.

Essex, although then but in his twenty-sixth year, had spent nearly six years at Court. During this period he had been so spoiled and petted by his doting Sovereign that he had already upon several occasions temporarily turned her favour to resentment by his arrogance and ill-humour. In his palmiest days even Leicester had never dared to take the liberties with the Queen now, at times, indulged in by this brilliant but wilful youth. In exciting Essex's hot and hasty temper the watchful Cecils soon found their most effectual means of defence. Early in the summer of 1590, Essex, piqued by the Queen's refusal of a favour, committed what was, up till that time, his most wilful breach of Court decorum and flagrant instance of opposition to the Queen's[Pg 178] wishes. Upon the 6th of April in that year the office of Secretary of State became vacant by the death of Sir Francis Walsingham. Shortly afterward, Essex endeavoured to secure the office for William Davison, who, previous to 1587, had acted in the capacity of assistant to Walsingham and was therefore presumably well qualified for the vacant post. Upon the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1587, Elizabeth, in disavowing her responsibility for the act, had made a scapegoat of Davison, who, she claimed, had secured her signature to the death-warrant by misrepresentation, and had proceeded with its immediate execution contrary to her commands. Though she deceived no one but herself by this characteristic duplicity, she never retreated from the stand she had taken, but, feeling conscious that she was doubted, to enforce belief in her sincerity, maintained her resentment against Davison to the last. Upon Elizabeth's refusal of the Secretaryship to his luckless protégé, Essex, in dudgeon, absented himself from the Court, and within a few weeks chose a yet more effectual means of exasperating the Queen by privately espousing Sir Francis Walsingham's daughter, Lady Sidney, widow of the renowned Sir Philip. When knowledge of this latest action reached the Queen her anger was kindled to a degree that (to the Court gossips) seemed to preclude Essex's forgiveness, or the possibility of his reinstatement in favour. With the intention of increasing Essex's ill-humour and still further estranging him from the Queen, Burghley now proposed that all his letters and papers be seized. He also chose this period of estrangement to introduce his prospective grandson-in-law, Southampton, to the Court. The very eagerness of Essex's enemies, however, appears to have cooled the Queen's anger, as we find that within a month of Southampton's arrival at[Pg 179] the Court—that is, on 26th November—Essex is reported as "once more in good favour with the Queen."

In the light of the foregoing facts and deductions, it does not seem likely that Burghley would encourage a friendship between Essex and Southampton. The assumption that he would (at least tacitly) seek rather to provoke a rivalry is under the circumstances more reasonable. Though I find no record in the State Papers of this immediate date that hostility was aroused between these young courtiers, in a paper of a later date, which refers to this time, I find fair proof that such a condition of affairs did at this period actually exist. In the declaration of the treason of the Earl of Essex, 1600-1, in the State Papers we have the following passage: "There was present this day at the Council, the Earl of Southampton, with whom in former times he (Essex) had been at some emulations and differences at Court, but after, Southampton, having married his kinswoman (Elizabeth Vernon), plunged himself wholly into his fortunes," etc.

Though the matrimonial engagement between Burghley's granddaughter and Southampton never reached its consummation, and we have evidence in Roger Manners' letter of 6th March 1592 that some doubt in regard to its fulfilment had even then arisen in Court circles, we have good grounds for assuming that all hope for the union was not abandoned by Burghley till a later date. Lady Elizabeth Vere eventually married the Earl of Derby in January 1595. This marriage was arranged for in the summer of the preceding year, and after the Earl of Derby had come into his titles and estates, through the death of his elder brother, in April 1594.

Referring again to the State Papers, we have on[Pg 180] 15th August 1594 the statement of a Jesuit, named Edmund Yorke, who is reported as saying "Burghley poisoned the Earl of Derby so as to marry his granddaughter to his brother." Fernando Stanley, Earl of Derby, died under suspicious circumstances after a short illness, and it was reported at the time that he was poisoned. As he had recently been instrumental in bringing about the execution of a prominent Jesuit, whom he had accused of having approached him with seditious proposals, it was believed at the time that an emissary of that society was concerned in his death. While disregarding Yorke's atrocious imputation against Burghley, we may safely date the inception of the negotiations leading to Elizabeth Vere's marriage somewhere after 16th April, the date of the preceding Earl's death; Burghley did not choose younger sons in marriage for his daughters or granddaughters. Thus we are fully assured that, at however earlier a date the prospects for a marriage between Southampton and Lady Vere were abandoned, they had ceased to be entertained by the early summer of 1594. Shortly after this, Southampton's infatuation for Elizabeth Vernon had its inception. The intensity of the young nobleman's early interest in this latter affair quite precludes the necessity for Shakespeare's poetical incitements thereto; we may therefore refer the group of sonnets, in which Shakespeare urges his friend's marriage, to the more diffident affair of the earlier years and to a period antedating the publication of Venus and Adonis in May 1593. A comparison of the argument of Venus and Adonis with that of the first book of Sonnets will indicate a common date of production, and that Shakespeare wrote both poems with the same purpose in view.



Probably the most remarkable and interesting æsthetic study of a single Shakespearean character ever produced is Maurice Morgann's Essay on the Dramatic Character of Sir John Falstaff, which was written in 1774, and first published in 1777. This excellent piece of criticism deserves a much wider cognizance than it has ever attained; only three editions have since been issued.

Morgann's Essay was originally undertaken in jest, in order to disprove the assertion made by an acquaintance that Falstaff was a coward; but, inspired by his subject, it was continued and finished in splendid earnest. As his analysis of the character of Falstaff becomes more intimate his wonder grows at the concrete human personality he apprehends. Falstaff ceases to be a fictive creation, or the mere dramatic representation of a type, and takes on a distinctive individuality. He writes:

"The reader will not now be surprised if I affirm that those characters in Shakespeare, which are seen only in part, are yet capable of being unfolded and understood in the whole; every part being in fact relative, and inferring all the rest. It is true that the point of action or sentiment, which [Pg 182]we are most concerned in, is always held out for our special notice. But who does not perceive that there is a peculiarity about it, which conveys a relish of the whole? And very frequently, when no particular point presses, he boldly makes a character act and speak from those parts of the composition, which are inferred only, and not distinctly shewn. This produces a wonderful effect; it seems to carry us beyond the poet to nature itself, and give an integrity and truth to facts and character, which they would not otherwise obtain. And this is in reality that art in Shakespeare, which being withdrawn from our notice, we more emphatically call nature. A felt propriety and truth from causes unseen, I take to be the highest point of Poetic composition. If the characters of Shakespeare are thus whole, and as it were original, while those of almost all other writers are mere imitation, it may be fit to consider them rather as Historic than Dramatic beings; and, when occasion requires, to account for their conduct from the whole of character, from general principles, from latent motives, and from policies not avowed."

Morgann was closer to the secret of Shakespeare's art than he realised; he had really penetrated to the truth without knowing it. The reason that his fine analytical sense had led him to feel that "it may be fit to consider them rather as Historic than Dramatic beings" is the fact that in practically every instance where a very distinctive Shakespearean character, such as Falconbridge, Falstaff, Armado, Malvolio, and Fluellen, acts and speaks "from those parts of the composition, which are inferred only, and not distinctly shewn," the characters so apprehended may be shown by the light of contemporary social, literary, or political records to have been, in some measure, a reflection of a living model. Shakespeare had literally, in his own phrase, held "the mirror up to nature"; the reflection, how[Pg 183]ever, being heightened and vivified by the infusion of his own rare sensibility, and the power of his dramatic genius.

With all his genius Shakespeare was yet mortal, and human creativeness cannot transcend nature. What we call creativeness, even in the greatest artists, is but a fineness of sensibility and cognition, or rather recognition, coupled with the power to express what they see and feel in nature.

As a large number of Shakespeare's plays were written primarily for private or Court presentation, to edify or amuse his patron and his patron's friends, or with their immediate political or factional interests in mind to influence the Court in their favour, the shadowed purposes of such plays, the acting or speaking of a character "from those parts of the composition, which are inferred only, and not distinctly shewn," as well as a number of hitherto supposedly inexplicable asides and allusions, such as Bottom's "reason and love keep little company together nowadays; the more the pity, that some honest neighbours will not make them friends," would give to those acquaintances who were in Shakespeare's confidence an added zest and interest in such plays quite lacking to the uninitiated, or to a modern audience.

I propose in this chapter to demonstrate the facts that John Florio—the translator of Montaigne's Essays and tutor of languages to Shakespeare's patron, the Earl of Southampton—was Shakespeare's original for Sir John Falstaff and other of his characters; that the Earl of Southampton and Lady Southampton were cognizant of the shadowed identity, and that Florio himself recognised and angrily resented the characterisation when a knowledge of its personal application had spread among their mutual acquaintances.[Pg 184]

In preceding chapters and in former books[29] I have advanced evidence of a cumulative nature for Southampton's identity as the patron addressed in the Sonnets; the identity of Chapman as the "rival poet," and Shakespeare's caricature of him as Holofernes; the identity of Matthew Roydon as the author of Willobie his Avisa, as well as Shakespeare's caricature of him as the curate Nathaniel; and the identity of Mistress Davenant as the "dark lady" of the Sonnets. If, then, we find in the same plays in which these personal reflections are shown a certain distinctly marked type of character, bearing stronger prima facie evidence than the others of having been developed from a living original, may we not reasonably infer that the individual so represented might also have been linked in life in some manner approximating to his relations in the play, with the lives and interests of the other persons shadowed forth?

With this idea in mind I have searched all available records relating to Southampton, in the hope of finding among his intimates an individual whose personality may have suggested Shakespeare's characterisation, or caricature, set forth in the successive persons of Armado, Parolles, and Sir John Falstaff. The traceable incidents of John Florio's life, his long and intimate association with Shakespeare's patron, and reasonable inferences for the periods where actual record of him is wanting, gave probability, in my judgment, to his identity as Shakespeare's original for these and other characters. A further consideration of the man's personality, temperament, and mental habitude, as I could dimly trace them in his few literary remains that afford scope for unconscious self-revelation, left no[Pg 185] doubt in my mind as to his identity as Shakespeare's model.

Supposing it to be impossible, with our present records, to visualise Shakespeare more definitely in his contemporary environment, it has been common with biographers, in their endeavours to link him with the men of his times, to draw imaginative pictures of his intimate and friendly personal relations with such men as Sir Walter Raleigh, Bacon, Chapman, Marston, and others, equally improbable, forgetting the social distinctions, the scholastic prejudices, and still more, the religious or political animosities that divided men in public life in those days, as they do, though in a lesser degree, to-day. The intimate relations of the Earl of Southampton with Lord Burghley, during the earliest period of his Court life, when he was affianced to Burghley's granddaughter, and his later intimacy with the Earl of Essex and with the gentlemen of the Essex faction, coupled with Shakespeare's sympathy with the cause of his patron and his patron's friends, must be borne in mind in any endeavour that is made to trace in the plays either Shakespeare's political leanings or his probable affiliations with, or antagonisms to, his early contemporaries. The natural jealousies that would arise between the followers, dependants, or protégés of a liberal patron must also be considered.

John Florio became connected, in the capacity of Italian tutor, with the Earl of Southampton late in the year 1590, or early in 1591, shortly after his coming to Court, and a little before Southampton first began to show favour to Shakespeare. We have Florio's own statement for the fact that he continued in Southampton's "pay and patronage" at least as late as 1598, in which year he published his Worlde of Wordes. Whether or not he continued in[Pg 186] Southampton's service after this date is uncertain, but we may safely impute to that nobleman's good offices the favour shown to him by James I. and his Queen in 1604, and later.

From the first time that Shakespeare and Florio were thrown together, through their mutual connection with Southampton, in or about 1591, down to the year 1609, when the Sonnets were issued at the instigation of Shakespeare's literary rivals, I find intermittent traces of antagonism between them, and also of Florio's intimacy and sympathy with Chapman and his friends. In later years, Chapman, Jonson, and Marston, however, seem to have recognised in Florio an unstable ally, and tacitly to have regarded him as a selfish and shifty opportunist. Florio appears to have used his intimacy with Southampton, and his knowledge of that nobleman's relations with Shakespeare and the "dark lady" in 1593 to 1594, to the poet's disadvantage, by imparting intelligence of the affair to Chapman and Roydon, the latter of whom exploited this knowledge in the production of Willobie his Avisa.

In Chapman's dedication to Roydon of The Shadow of Night in 1594, he shows knowledge of the fact that Shakespeare was practically reader to the Earl of Southampton, and that he passed his judgment upon literary matter submitted to that nobleman. Referring to Shakespeare, Chapman writes: "How then may a man stay his marvailing to see passion-driven men, reading but to curtail a tedious hour, and altogether hidebound with affection to great men's fancies, take upon them as killing censures as if they were judgment's butchers, or as if the life of truth lay tottering in their verdicts." This reference to Shakespeare as "passion-driven" refers to the affair of the "dark lady," upon which[Pg 187] Chapman's friend, Roydon, was then at work in Willobie his Avisa. Florio, in later years, as shall appear, also makes a very distinct point at Shakespeare as a "reader." Unless there was an enemy in Shakespeare's camp to report to Chapman and Roydon the fact of his "reading" to curtail tedious hours for his patron, and to convey intelligence to Roydon of Shakespeare's and Southampton's relations with the "dark lady," either by reporting the affair or by bringing Shakespeare's earlier MS. books of sonnets to his notice, it is improbable that these men would have had such intimate knowledge of the incidents and conditions of this stage of Shakespeare's friendship with his patron. Florio probably fostered the hostility of these scholars to Shakespeare by imputing to his influence their ill-success in winning Southampton's favour. It is not improbable that for his own protection he secretly used his influence with Southampton in defeating their advances while posing as their friend and champion. Shakespeare distrusted Florio from the beginning of his acquaintance, and deprecated his influence upon his patron.

In the earlier stages of Shakespeare's observation of Florio he appears to have been more amused than angered, but as the years pass his dislike grows, as he sees more clearly into the cold selfishness of a character, obscured to his earlier and more casual view by the interesting personality and frank and humorous worldly wisdom of the man. However heightened and amplified by Shakespeare's imagination the characterisation of Falstaff may now appear, a consideration of the actual character of Florio, as we find it revealed between the lines of his own literary productions, and in the few contemporary records of him that have survived, suggests on Shakespeare's part portrayal rather than caricature.[Pg 188]

Assuming for the present that Shakespeare has characterised, or caricatured, Florio as Parolles, Armado, and Falstaff, the first and second of these characters are represented in plays originally produced in, or about, 1592, but reflecting the spirit and incidents of the Cowdray and Tichfield progress of the autumn of 1591. While these plays were altered at a later period, or periods, of revision, it is apparent that both characters pertain in a large measure to the plays in their earlier forms. If Shakespeare used Florio as his model for these characters, we have added evidence that by the autumn of 1591 Florio had already entered the "pay and patronage" of Southampton, who about this period, under his tuition and in anticipation of continental travel, developed his knowledge of Italian and French. In his dedication of the Worlde of Wordes to Southampton in 1598, Florio writes:

"In truth I acknowledge an entire debt, not only of my best knowledge, but of all, yea of more than I know or can, to your bounteous Lordship, most noble, most virtuous, and most Honourable Earl of Southampton, in whose pay and patronage I have lived some years, to whom I owe and vow the years I have to live."

Further on in this dedication he refers to Southampton's study of Italian under his tuition as follows:

"I might make doubt least I or mine be not now of any further use to your self-sufficiencie, being at home so instructed in Italian as teaching or learning could supply that there seemed no need of travell, and now by travell so accomplished as what wants to perfection?"

All's Well that Ends Well, in its earlier form of Loves Labour's Won, reflects the spirit and incidents of the Queen's progress to Tichfield House in September 1591; the widowed[Pg 189] Countess of Rousillon personifies the widowed Countess of Southampton; the wise and courtly Lafeu the courtly Sir Thomas Heneage, who within three years married the Countess of Southampton. I have suggested that Bertram represented Southampton, and that his coolness towards Helena, and his proposed departure for the French Court, reflects Southampton's disinclination to the marriage with Elizabeth Vere, and the fact of his departure shortly afterwards for France. In Florio, who was at that time attached to the Earl of Southampton's establishment, and presumably was present upon the occasion of the progress to Tichfield, we have the prototype of Parolles, though much of the present characterisation of that person, while referring to the same original, undoubtedly pertains to a period of later time revision, which on good evidence I date in, or about, the autumn of 1598, at which period Shakespeare's earlier antipathy had grown by knowledge and experience into positive aversion.

In 1591 Southampton was still a ward in Chancery, and the management of his personal affairs and expenditures under the supervision of Lord Burghley, to whose granddaughter he was affianced. It is evident then that when Florio was retained in the capacity of tutor, or bear-leader, and with the intention of having him accompany the young Earl upon his continental travels, his selection for the post would be made by Burghley—Southampton's guardian—who in former years had patronised and befriended Florio's father.

In Lafeu's early distrust of Parolles' pretensions, and his eventual recognition of his cowardice and instability, I believe we have a reflection of the attitude of Sir Thomas Heneage towards Florio, and a suggestion of his disapproval[Pg 190] of Florio's intimacy with Southampton. This leads me to infer that though Lady Southampton and Heneage apparently acquiesced in, and approved of, Burghley's marital plans for Southampton, secretly they were not displeased at their miscarriage.

When Southampton first came to Court he was a fresh and unspoiled youth, with high ideals and utterly unacquainted with the ethical latitude and moral laxity of city and Court life. In bringing him to Court and the notice of the Queen, and at the same time endeavouring to unite his interests with his own by marriage with his granddaughter, Burghley hoped that—as in the case of his son-in-law, the Earl of Oxford, some years before—Southampton would become a Court favourite, and possibly supplant Essex in the Queen's favour, as the Earl of Oxford had for a while threatened to displace Leicester. The ingenuous frankness and independence of the young Earl, however, appeared likely to defeat the plans of the veteran politician. Burghley now resolved that he must broaden his protégé's knowledge of the world and adjust his ideals to Court life. He accordingly engaged the sophisticated and world-bitten Florio as his intellectual and moral mentor. I do not find any record of Southampton's departure for France immediately after the Cowdray progress, but it is apparent either that he accompanied the Earl of Essex upon that nobleman's return to his command in France after a short visit to England in October 1591, or that he followed shortly afterwards. Essex was recalled from France in January 1592 (new style), and on 2nd March of the same year we have a letter dated at Dieppe from Southampton to Essex in England, which shows that Southampton was with the army in France within a few months of the Cowdray progress.[Pg 191]

Conceiving both Parolles and Falstaff to be caricatures of Florio I apprehend in the military functions of these characters a reflection of a probable quasi-military experience of their original during his connection with Southampton in the year 1592.

An English force held Dieppe for Henry IV. in March 1592, awaiting reinforcements from England to move against the army of the League, which was encamped near the town. If Southampton took Florio with him at this time it is quite likely that he had him appointed to a captaincy, though probably not to a command. Captain Roger Williams, a brave and capable Welsh officer (whom I have reason to believe was Shakespeare's original for the Welsh Captain Fluellen in Henry V.), joined the army at the end of this month, bringing with him six hundred men. In a letter to the Council, upon his departure from England, he writes sarcastically of the number and inefficiency of the captains being made. This letter is so characteristic of the man, and so reminiscent of blunt Fluellen, that I shall quote it in full.

"Moste Honorables, yesterdaie it was your Lordship's pleasure to shewe the roll of captaines by their names. More then half of them are knowen unto me sufficient to take charges; a greate number of others, besides the rest in that roll, although not knowen unto me, maie be as sufficient as the others, perhapps knowen unto menn of farr better judgment than myselfe. To saie truthe, no man ought to meddle further than his owne charge. Touching the three captaines that your Lordships appointed to go with me, I knowe Polate and Coverd, but not the thirde. There is one Captaine Polate, a Hampshire man, an honest gentleman, worthie of good charge. There is another not worthie to be a sergeant of a band, as Sir John Norris [Pg 192]knows, with many others; and I do heare by my Lord of Sussex it is he. Captain Coverd is worthie, but not comparable unto a dozen others that have no charge; but whatsoever your Lordships direct unto me, I muste accept, and will do my best endeavour to discharge my dutie towards the service comitted unto me. But be assured that the more new captaines that are made, the more will begg, I meane will trouble her Majestie after the warrs, unless the olde be provided for. I must confess I wrote effectual for one Captaine Smithe unto Sir Philipp Butler; two of the name Sir John Norris will confess to be well worthie to commande, at the least, three hundred men a-piece. He that I named, my desire is that he may be one of myne. I protest, on my poore credytt, I never delt with her Majestic concerning any of those captaines, nor anything that your Lordships spake yesterday before me; but true it is, I spake before the Earle of Essex and Sir John Norris, it was pittie that young captaines should be accepted and the old refused. True it is that I toulde them also that the lieutenants of the shire knew not those captaines so well as ourselves. On my creditt, my meaning was the deputies lieutenants, the which, as it was toulde me, had made all these captaines. My speeches are no lawe, nor scarce good judgment, for the warrs were unknowen to me 22 yeres agon. Notwithstanding, it shall satisfie me, that the greatest generalls in that time took me to be a souldier, for the which I will bring better proofs than any other of my qualitie shall deny. Humbly desiring your Lordships' accustomed good favor towards me, I reste to spend my life alwaies at her Majestie's pleasure, and at your Lordships' devotion. (27th March 1591.)"

Within a short period of the arrival of Sir Roger Williams he had dispersed the enemy and opened up the road to the suburbs of Paris; which city was then held by the combined forces of the League and the Spanish. I cannot learn[Pg 193] whether Southampton accompanied the troops in the proposed attack on Paris or continued his travels into the Netherlands and Spain. Some verses in Willobie his Avisa suggest such a tour at this time. He was back in England, however, by September 1592, when he accompanied the Queen and Court to Oxford. It is probable that Florio accompanied the Earl of Southampton upon this occasion, and that the nobleman's acquaintance with the mistress of the Crosse Inn, the beginning of which I date at this time, was due to his introduction. Florio lived for many years at Oxford and was undoubtedly familiar with its taverns and tavern keepers.[30]

In depicting Parolles as playing Pander for Bertram, and at the same time secretly pressing his own suit, I am convinced that Shakespeare caricatured Florio's relations with Southampton and the "dark lady." It is not unlikely that Florio is included by Roydon in Willobie his Avisa among Avisa's numerous suitors.

The literary history of All's Well that Ends Well, aside from internal considerations, suggests that it was not composed originally for public performance, nor revised with the public in mind. It appeared in print for the first time in the Folio of 1623, and it is practically certain that no earlier edition was issued. If we except Meres' mention of the play, Love's Labour's Won, in 1598, the earliest reference we have to All's Well that Ends Well is that in the Stationers' Registers dated 8th November 1623, where it is recorded as a play not previously entered to other men.[Pg 194] There is no record of its presentation during Shakespeare's lifetime.

Though the old play of Love's Labour's Won mentioned by Meres has been variously identified by critics, the consensus of judgment of the majority is in favour of its identification as All's Well that Ends Well. In no other of Shakespeare's plays—even in instances where we have actual record of revision—can we so plainly recognise by internal evidence both the work of his "pupil" and of his master pen. As I have assigned the original composition of this play to the year 1592, regarding it as a reflection of the Queen's progress to Tichfield House and of the incidents of the Earl of Southampton's life at, and following, that period, so I infer and believe I can demonstrate that its revision reflects the same personal influences under new phases in later years.

In February 1598 the Earl of Southampton left England for the French Court with Sir Robert Cecil. He returned secretly in August and was married privately at Essex House to Elizabeth Vernon, whose condition had recently caused her dismissal from the Court. Southampton returned to France as secretly as he had come, but knowledge of his return and of his unauthorised marriage reaching the Queen, she issued an order for his immediate recall, and upon his return in November committed him, and even threatened to commit his wife (who was now a mother), to the Fleet. It is not unlikely that Florio accompanied Southampton to France upon this visit, and that much of Shakespeare's irritation at this time arose from Southampton's neglect or coolness, which he supposed to be due to Florio's increasing influence, to which Shakespeare also imputed much of the young Earl's ill-regulated manner of life at this period.[Pg 195]

In the happy ending of Helena's troubles, and in Bertram's recognition of his moral responsibility and marital obligations, and also in the significant change of the title of this play from Love's Labour's Won to All's Well that Ends Well, we have Shakespeare's combined reproof and approval of Southampton's recent conduct towards Elizabeth Vernon, as well as a practical reflection of the actual facts in their case.

At about this time, in addition to the revision of All's Well that Ends Well, I date the first production, though not the original composition, of Troilus and Cressida, and also the final revision of Love's Labour's Lost. In this latter play the part taken by Armado was, I believe, enlarged and revised, as in the case of Parolles in All's Well that Ends Well, to suit the incidents and characterisation to Shakespeare's developed knowledge of, and experience with, Florio. There are several small but significant links of description between the Parolles of 1598 and the enlarged Armado of the same date. Both of these characters are represented as braggart soldiers and also as linguists, which evidently reflect Florio's quasi-military connection with Southampton and his known proficiency in languages.

In Act IV. Scene iii. Parolles is referred to as "the manifold linguist and armipotent soldier." In Love's Labour's Lost, in Act I. Scene i., in lines that palpably belong to the play in its earliest form, Armado is described as "a man of fire-new words." He is also represented as a traveller from Spain. In Act V. Scene ii., in lines that pertain to the revision of 1598, he is made to take the soldier's part again, in giving him the character of Hector in The Nine Worthies. In this character Armado is made to use the peculiar word "armipotent" twice. It is significant that this word is never used[Pg 196] by Shakespeare except in connection with Armado and Parolles. In giving Armado the character of Hector, I am convinced that Shakespeare again indicates Florio's military experience. In the lines which Armado recites in the character of Hector, Shakespeare intentionally makes his personal point at Florio more strongly indicative by alluding to the name Florio by the word "flower," in the interrupted line with which Hector ends his verses.

Arm. Peace!——
"The armipotent Mars, of lances the almighty,
Gave Hector a gift, the heir of Ilion;
A man so breathed, that certain he would fight ye
From morn till night, out of his pavilion.
I am that flower,——"

He reinforces his indication by Dumain's and Longaville's interpolations—"That mint," "That columbine." Florio undoubtedly indicated this meaning to his own name in entitling his earliest publication First Fruites and a later publication Second Fruites. In a sonnet addressed to him by some friend of his who signs himself "Ignoto," his name is also referred to in this sense. In his Italian-English dictionary, published in 1598, he does not include the word Florio. In the edition of 1611, however, he includes it, but states that it means, "A kind of bird." In using the word "columbine" Shakespeare gives the double meaning of a flower and also a bird. Florio used a flower for his emblem, and had inscribed under his portrait in the 1611 edition of his Worlde of Wordes:

"Floret adhuc et adhuc florebit
Florius haec specie floridus optat amans."

The frequent references to the characters of the Iliad in this act and scene of Love's Labour's Lost link the period[Pg 197] of its insertion with the date of the original composition of Troilus and Cressida in, or about, 1598, to which time I have also assigned the revision of Love's Labour's Won into All's Well that Ends Well, and the development of Parolles into a misleader of youth.

Another phase of Act V. Scene ii. of Love's Labour's Lost appears to be a reflection of an affair in the life of the individual whom Shakespeare has in mind in the delineation of the characters of Armado and Sir John Falstaff. Costard accuses Armado regarding his relations with Jaquenetta.

Cost. The party is gone, fellow Hector, she is gone; she is two months on her way.

Arm. What meanest thou?

Cost. Faith, unless you play the honest Trojan, the poor wench is cast away: she's quick; the child brags in her belly already: 'tis yours.

Arm. Dost thou infamonize me among potentates?

Precisely similar conditions are shown to exist in the relations between Falstaff and Doll Tearsheet, in the Second Part of Henry IV., in which play there are also allusions to the characters of the Iliad, which link its composition with the same period as Troilus and Cressida; and an allusion to The Nine Worthies that apparently link it in time with the final revision of Love's Labour's Lost late in 1598.

ACT V. Scene iv.

Enter Beadles dragging in Hostess Quickly and Doll Tearsheet.

Host. No, thou arrant knave; I would to God that I might have thee hanged: thou hast drawn my shoulder out of joint.

First Bead. The constables have delivered her over to me: and she shall have whipping-cheer enough I warrant her: there hath been a man or two lately killed about her.

Dol. Nut-hook, nut-hook, you lie. Come on; I'll tell thee what, thou damned tripe-visaged rascal, and the child I now go with miscarry, thou wert better thou hadst struck thy mother, thou paper-faced villain.

Host. O the Lord, that Sir John were come! he would make this a bloody day to somebody. But I pray God the fruit of her womb miscarry.

[Pg 198]

The natural sequel to the conditions so plainly indicated in the passages quoted from the lately revised Love's Labour's Lost, regarding Jaquenetta and Armado, and from the recently written Henry IV. in reference to Doll Tearsheet and Falstaff, is reported in due time in a postscript to a letter written by Elizabeth Vernon, now Lady Southampton, on 8th July 1599, to her husband, who was in Ireland with Essex. She writes from Chartley:

"All the nues I can send you that I thinke will make you mery is that I reade in a letter from London that Sir John Falstaff is by his Mistress Dame Pintpot made father of a godly millers thum a boye thats all heade and very litel body: but this is a secret."

Here we have record that Shakespeare's patron, and his patron's wife, knew that Falstaff had a living prototype who was numbered among their acquaintances. That the birth of this child was not in wedlock is suggested by the concluding words of the Countess's letter "but this is a secret."

The identification of Florio as the original caricatured as Parolles and Falstaff has never been anticipated, though some critics have noticed the basic resemblances between these two characters of Shakespeare's. Parolles has been called by Schlegel, "the little appendix to the great Falstaff."

A few slight links in the names of characters have led some commentators to date a revision of All's Well that Ends Well at about the same time as that of the composition of Measure for Measure and Hamlet. While the links of subjective evidence I have adduced for one revision in, or about, the autumn of 1598, and at the same period as that of the composition of the Second Part of Henry IV., of the[Pg 199] final revision of Love's Labour's Lost, and shortly after the production of Troilus and Cressida, in 1598, are fairly conclusive, a consideration of the characterisation of Falstaff in the First Part of Henry IV. and of the evidence usually advanced for the date of the composition of this play will elucidate this idea.

The First Part of Henry IV. in its present form belongs to a period shortly preceding the date of its entry in the Stationers' Registers, in February 1598. I am convinced that it was published at this time with Shakespeare's cognizance, and that he revised it with this intention in mind. All inference and evidence assign the composition of the Second Part of Henry IV. to some part of the year 1598. It is unlikely, however, that it was included in Meres' mention of Henry IV. in his Palladis Tamia, which was entered on the Stationers' Registers in September of that year. If the link between Doll Tearsheet's condition and the similar affair reported in Lady Southampton's letter in July 1599 be connected in intention with the same conditions reflected in the case of Armado and Jaquenetta, its date of production is palpably indicated, as is also the final revision of Love's Labour's Lost in about December 1598. Both of these plays were probably presented—the Second Part of Henry IV. for the first time, and Love's Labour's Lost for the first time in its final form—for the Christmas festivities at Court, in 1598. While the Quarto of Love's Labours Lost is dated as published in 1598, there is no record of its intended publication in the Stationers' Registers. It must be remembered, however, that all publications issued previous to the 25th of March 1599 would be dated 1598.

A comparison of the two parts of Henry IV. under the metrical test, while clearly showing Part I. as an earlier[Pg 200] composition, yet approximates their dates so closely in time as to suggest a comparatively recent and thorough revision of the earlier portion of the play in 1597 or 1598. It is plain, however, that Shakespeare's Henry IV., Part I., held the boards in some form for several years before this date. The numerous contemporary references, under the name of Sir John Oldcastle, to the character now known as Falstaff, evidences on the part of the public such a settled familiarity with this same character, under the old name, as to suggest frequent presentations of Shakespeare's play in the earlier form. The Oldcastle of The Famous Victories of Henry V. has no connection whatever with the characterisation of Falstaff.

Though the metrical evidences of so early a date are now obscured by the drastic revision of the autumn of 1597, or spring of 1598, I am of the opinion that Henry IV., Part I., as it was originally written, belongs to a period antedating the publication of Willobie his Avisa in 1594, and that it was composed late in 1593, or early in 1594. I am led to this conclusion by the underlying thread of subjective evidence linking the plays of this period with the affairs of Southampton and his connections. It is unlikely that Shakespeare would introduce that "sweet wench" my "Young Mistress of the Tavern" into a play after the publication of the scandal intended by Roydon in 1594, and probable that he altered the characterisation of the hostess to the old and widowed Mistress Quickly in the Second Part of Henry IV. for this reason.

Believing that Love's Labour's Won—i.e. All's Well that Ends Well in its earlier form—reflects Southampton in the person of Bertram, and Florio as Parolles, I have suggested that the military capacity of the latter character[Pg 201] infers a temporary military experience of Florio's in the year 1592. It is evident that most of the matter in this play following Act IV. Scene iii. belongs to the period of revision in 1598. In Act IV. Scene iii. we have what was apparently Parolles' final appearance in the old play of 1592; here he has been exposed, and his purpose in the play ended.

First Soldier. You are undone, Captain, all but your scarf; that has a knot on't yet.

Parolles. Who cannot be crushed with a plot?

First Soldier. If you could find out a country where women were that had received so much shame, you might begin an impudent nation. Fare ye well, Sir; I am for France too; we shall speak of you there.

[Exit Soldiers.

Parolles. Yet am I thankful: if my heart were great,
'Twould burst at this. Captain, I'll be no more;
But I will eat and drink, and sleep as soft
As captain shall: simply the thing I am
Shall make me live. Who knows himself a braggart,
Let him fear this, for it will come to pass
That every braggart shall be found an ass.
Rust sword! cool blushes! and, Parolles, live
Safest in shame, being fool'd, by foolery thrive.
There's place and means for every man alive.
I'll after them.


The resolution he here forms augurs for the future a still greater moral deterioration. He resolves to seek safety in shame; to thrive by foolery; and, though fallen from his captaincy, to

"eat and drink, and sleep as soft as captain shall."

When Shakespeare resumed his plan of reflecting Florio's association with Southampton, in the First Part of Henry IV. he recalled the state of mind and morals in which he had left him as Parolles in Love's Labour's Won, and allowing for a short lapse of time, and the effects of the life he had[Pg 202] resolved to live, introduces him in Henry IV., Part I. Act 1. Scene ii., as follows:

Fal. Now, Hal, what time of day is it, lad?

Prince. Thou art so fat-witted, with drinking of old sack and unbuttoning thee after supper and sleeping upon benches after noon, that thou hast forgotten to demand that truly which thou would'st truly know. What a devil hast thou to do with the time of the day? Unless hours were cups of sack, and minutes capons, and clocks the tongues of bawds, and dials the signs of leaping-houses, and the blessed sun himself a fair hot wench in flame-coloured taffeta, I see no reason why thou should'st be so superfluous to demand the time of day.

In Parolles and Falstaff we have displayed the same lack of moral consciousness, the same grossly sensuous materialism, and withal, the same unquenchable optimism and colossal impudence.

When we remember that though Shakespeare based his play upon the old Famous Victories of Henry V. and took from it the name Oldcastle, that the actual characterisation of his Oldcastle—Falstaff—has no prototype in the original, the abrupt first entry upon the scene of this tavern-lounger and afternoon sleeper-upon-benches, as familiarly addressing the heir apparent as "Hal" and "lad," supplies a good instance of Shakespeare's method—noticed by Maurice Morgann—of making a character act and speak from those parts of the composition which are inferred only and not distinctly shown; but to the initiated, including Southampton and his friends, who knew the bumptious self-sufficiency of Shakespeare's living model, and who followed the developing characterisation from play to play, the effect of such bold dramatic strokes must have been irresistibly diverting.

It is difficult now to realise the avidity with which such publications as Florio's First and Second Fruites were welcomed from the press and read by the cultured, or culture-seeking, public of his day. Italy being then regarded[Pg 203] as the centre of culture and fashion a colloquial knowledge of Italian was a fashionable necessity. A reference in a current play to an aphorism of Florio's or to a characteristic passage from the proverbial philosophy of which he constructs his Italian-English conversations, which would pass unnoticed now, would be readily recognised by a fashionable Elizabethan audience.

When Shakespeare, through the utterances of the prince, characterises Falstaff by suggestion upon his first appearance in the play in the following lines:

"Thou art so fat-witted, with drinking of old sack and unbuttoning thee after supper and sleeping upon benches after noon, that thou hast forgotten to demand that truly which thou would'st truly know,"

for the benefit of his initiated friends he links up and continues Florio's characterisation as Parolles and Falstaff, and in the remainder of the passage,

"What a devil hast thou to do with the time of the day? Unless hours are cups of sack, and minutes capons, and clocks the tongues of bawds, and dials the signs of leaping-houses, and the blessed sun himself a fair hot wench in flame-coloured taffeta,"

suggests Florio's character from his own utterances in the Second Fruites, where one of the characters holds forth as follows:

"As for me, I never will be able, nor am I able, to be willing but to love whatsoever pleaseth women, to whom I dedicate, yield, and consecrate what mortal thing soever I possess, and I say, that a salad, a woman and a capon, as yet was never out of season."

A consideration of certain of the divergences between the dramatis personæ of the First Part of Henry IV. and the Second Part of Henry IV., made in the light of the thread of subjective evidence in the plays of the Sonnet period, may give us some new clues in determining the relative periods of their original composition.[Pg 204]

In the First Part of Henry IV. the hostess of the tavern is referred to as a young and beautiful woman in Act I. Scene ii., as follows:

Falstaff. ... And is not my hostess of the tavern a most sweet wench?

Prince. As the honey of Hybla, my old lad of the castle. And is not a buff jerkin a most sweet robe of durance?

Fal. How now, how now, mad wag! what, in thy quips and quiddities? What a plague have I to do with a buff jerkin?

Prince."Why, what a pox have I to do with my hostess of the tavern?

Fal. Well, thou hast called her to a reckoning many a time and oft.

Prince. Did I ever call for thee to pay thy part?

Fal. "No, I'll give thee thy due, thou hast paid all there.

Prince. Yes, and elsewhere, so far as my coin would stretch; and where it would not, I have used my credit.

Fal. Yea, and so used it that, were it not here apparent that thou art heir apparent—but, I prithee, sweet wag, shall there be gallows standing in England when thou art king? And resolution thus fobbed as it is with the rusty curb of old father antic the law? Do not thou, when thou art king, hang a thief.

Falstaff's impertinent and suggestive reference to the prince's intimacy with the hostess, not being taken well, he quickly gives the conversation a turn to cover up the mistake he finds he has made. It is palpable that the characterisation of the hostess in the First Part of Henry IV., in its original form, was not the same as that presented in the Second Part of this play in which she is represented as Mistress Quickly, an old, unattractive, and garrulous widow. In the First Part of Henry IV. she is mentioned only once as Mistress Quickly. In Act III. Scene iii. the prince addresses her under this name and inquires about her husband.

Prince. What sayest thou, Mistress Quickly? How doth thy husband? I love him well; he is an honest man.

This single mention of the hostess as Mistress Quickly is evidently an interpolation made at the period of the[Pg 205] revision of this play late in 1597, or early in 1598. It is also probable that the revision at this time was made with the intention of linking the action of the First Part to the Second Part of the play, the outline of which Shakespeare was probably planning at that time.

The dramatic time of the First Part of the play has been estimated as at the outside covering a period of three months, and of the Second Part, a period of two months. No long interval is supposed to have elapsed between the action of the two parts; yet, in the First Part of the play the hostess is young, attractive, and has a husband. In the Second Part, she is old, unattractive, and is a widow. This divergence is evidently to be accounted for by the fact that the First Part of Henry IV. in its earliest, and unrevised, form was written, not long after the composition of Love's Labour's Won (All's Well that Ends Well in its early form), and during the estrangement between Southampton and Shakespeare in 1594, caused by the nobleman's relations with the "dark lady," that "most sweet wench," "my hostess of the tavern."

I have indicated a certain continuity and link of characterisation between Parolles, as we leave him in All's Well that Ends Well, and Falstaff, as we first encounter him in the First Part of Henry IV. I shall now demonstrate parallels between the characterisation of Falstaff in the First Part of Henry IV., and the tone and spirit of the conversations between the imaginary characters of Florio's Second Fruites. Fewer resemblances are to be found between the Second Fruites and the Second Part of Henry IV. From this I infer that when Shakespeare composed the First Part of Henry IV. in its original form, his personal acquaintance with Florio was recent and limited, and that he developed[Pg 206] his characterisation of Falstaff in that portion of the play largely from Florio's self-revelation in the Second Fruites, and that in continuing this characterisation later on, in the Second Part of the play, he reinforced it from a closer personal observation of the idiosyncrasies of his prototype.

The Earl of Southampton, who was shadowed forth as Bertram in Love's Labour's Won, with Parolles as his factotum,—representing Florio in that capacity,—becomes the prince in Henry IV., while Florio becomes Falstaff. The First Part of the play in its original form reflected their connection and the affair of the "dark lady" in 1593-94. The First Part of Henry IV., in its revised form, and the Second Part of Henry IV. reflect a resumed, or a continued, familiarity between Southampton and Florio in 1598. This leads me to infer that Florio may again have accompanied Southampton when he left England with Sir Robert Cecil for the French Court in February 1598, in much the same capacity as he had served him on his first visit to France in 1592, when they were first reflected as Bertram and Parolles.

In the original development of the characterisation of Parolles, Armado, and Falstaff, I am convinced that Shakespeare worked, not only from observation of his prototype in their daily intercourse, but that he also studied Florio's mental and moral angles and literary mannerisms in his extant productions. If Armado's letters to Jaquenetta and to the King be compared with Florio's dedication of his Second Fruites—which was published in 1591, several months preceding the original composition of Love's Labour's Lost—and also with his "Address to the Reader," a similitude will be found that certainly passes coincidence. A comparison of Parolles' and Falstaff's opportunist and materialistic[Pg 207] philosophy with Florio's outlook on life as we find it unconsciously exhibited in his Second Fruites, reveals a characteristic unity that plainly displays intentional parody on Shakespeare's part.

Didactic literature seldom presents the real character and workaday opinions and beliefs of a writer. The teacher generally speaks from a height transcending his ordinary levels of thought and action. In Florio's Second Fruites his intention is didactic only in relation to imparting a colloquial knowledge of Italian. In this endeavour he arranges a series of twelve conversations on matters of everyday life between imaginary characters, who are, presumably, of about the same social quality as his usual pupils—the younger gentry of the time. In these talks his intention was to be entirely natural and to reproduce, what he conceived to be, ordinary conversation between gentlemen of fashion. In doing this he reveals ethics, manners, and morals of a decidedly Falstaffian flavour. The gross and satyr-like estimate of women he displays; his primping enjoyment of apparel; the gusto with which he converses of things to eat and drink—of ale, and wine, and capons; his distrust of the minions of the law; his knowledge and horror of arrest and imprisonment, and his frankly animal zest of life, all suggest Shakespeare's knowledge of the book as well as the man.

As Florio's Second Fruites is not easily accessible to the general reader, a few extracts may serve to exhibit the characteristic resemblances to Shakespeare's delineation of Falstaff.

The twelve chapters of the work are headed as follows:

The first chapter, "Of rising in the morning and of things belonging to the chamber and to apparel."[Pg 208]

The second, "For common speech in the morning between friends; wherein is described a set of tennis."

The third, "Of familiar morning communication; wherein many courtesies are handled, and the manner of visiting and saluting the sick, and of riding, with all that belongeth to a horse."

The fourth chapter, "Wherein is set down a dinner for six persons, between whom there fall many pleasant discourses concerning meat and repast."

The fifth, "Wherein discourse is held of play and many things thereto appertaining, a game of primero and of chess."

The sixth chapter, "Concerning many familiar and ceremonious compliments among six gentlemen who talk of many pleasant matters, but especially of divers necessary, profitable, civil, and proverbial receipts for a traveller."

The seventh, "Between two gentlemen who talk of arms, and of the art of fencing, and of buying and selling."

The eighth chapter, "Between James, and Lippa, his man, wherein they talk of many pleasant and delightsome jests, and in it is described an unpleasant lodging, an illformed old woman, also the beautiful parts that a woman ought to have to be accounted fair in all perfection, and pleasantly blazoned a counterfeit lazy and naught-worth servant."

The ninth, "Between Cæzar and Tiberio; wherein they discourse of news of the Court, of courtiers of this day, and of many other matters of delight."

The tenth chapter, "Between gentlemen and a servant; wherein they talk of going to supper, and familiar speech late in the evening."

The eleventh, "Wherein they talk of going to bed, and many things thereto belonging."

The twelfth, "Wherein proverbially and pleasantly discourse is held of love and women."

He makes one of his characters end this last chapter as follows:[Pg 209]

"As for me, I never will be able, nor am I able, to be willing but to love whatsoever pleaseth women, to whom I dedicate, yield, and consecrate what mortal thing soever I possess, and I say, that a salad, a woman, and a capon as yet was never out of season."

The remarkable resemblance between the sentiments here expressed and the characteristics attributed to Falstaff by Prince Henry in the passage quoted above from Henry IV., Act I. Scene ii., suggest Shakespeare's knowledge of the Second Fruites.

He describes the wardrobe of a man of fashion with envious unction, giving a minute inventory of his shirts, handkerchiefs, ruffs, cuffs, towels, quoises, shoes, buskins, daggers, swords, gloves, doublets, jerkins, gowns, hats, caps, and boots. The very superabundance recalling, by contrast, the paucity in this regard in the cases of Armado and Falstaff.

The philosophy of his conversations is selfish and worldly-wise to a degree, with nowhere the slightest suggestion of ideality or altruism.

"T. From those that I do trust, good Lord deliver me, from such as I mistrust, I'll harmless come to be.

G. He gives me so many good words I cannot fail but trust him.

T. Wot you not that fair words and foul deeds are wont to make both fools and wise men fain.

G. I know it, but if he beat me with a sword, I will beat him again with a scabbard.

T. What, will you give him bread for cake then?

G. If any man wrong thee, wrong him again, or else be sure to remember it."

In the conversation concerning meats and repast he is Gargantuan in his descriptions.

"S. The meat is coming in, let us set down.

C. I would wash first if it were not to trouble Robert.

S. What, ho! Bring some water to wash our hands.

Robert. Here it is fresh and good to drinke for a neede.[Pg 210]

H. God hath made water for other things than to drinke.

C. Hast thou not heard that water rots, not only men, but stakes?

R. Yet men say that water was made to drinke, to saile, and to wash.

M. It was good to drinke when men did eat acornes.

T. I pray you set down for I have a good stomach.

N. As for a good stomach, I do yield a jot unto you.

S. My masters, the meat cooles.

S. My masters, sit down; every man take his place.

N. Tush, I pray you, sit down.

C. With obliging you I shall show myself unmannerly.

H. Of courtesie, Master M., sit here between us two.

M. Virtue consists in the midst quothe the devil when he found himself between two nuns.

S. Bring hither that salad, those steaks, that leg of mutton, that piece of beef with all the boiled meats we have.

S. I pray you, every man serve himself, let everyone cut where he please, and seek the best morsels.

N. Truly these meats are very well seasoned.

S. Call for drinke when you please, and what kind of wine you like best.

N. Give me some wine but put some water in it.

S. You may well enough drinke it pure, for our wines are all borne under the sign of Aquarius.

M. Do you not know that wine watered is esteemed a vile thing?

C. Give me a cup of beere, or else a bowl of ale.

S. I pray you, do not put that sodden water into your bellie.

C. I like it as well as wine, chiefly this hot weather.

T. He that drinks wine drinks blood, he that drinks water drinks fleame (phlegm).

H. I love to drink wine after the Dutch fashion.

T. How do they drinke it, I pray you?

H. In the morning, pure; at dinner, without water, and at night as it comes from the vessel.

M. I like this rule; they are wise, and God's blessing light upon them.

H. A slice of bacon would make us taste this wine well.

S. What, ho! set that gammon of bacon on the board.

M. God be thanked, I am at a truce with my stomach.

T. In faith, I would stay until the bells do ring.

S. You were not fasting then when you came here?

M. I had only drunk a little Malmslie.

T. And I a good draught of Muscatine, and eat a little bread.

S. Bring the meat away, in God's name.

R. The meat is not enough yet.

[Pg 211]

S. Take away that empty pot, set some bread upon the table and put some salt in the salt cellar, and make roome for the second messe.

R. Now, comes the roast.

S. Welcome may with his flowers.

T. And good speed may our barke have.

S. The Jews do not look for their Messias with more devotion than I have looked for the roast meat.

S. Set that capon upon the table, and those chickens, those rabbits, and that hen, that goose; those woodcock, those snipes, those larks, those quails, those partridges, those pheasants and that pasty of venison.

R. Here is everything ready.

N. You have led us to a wedding.

S. I pray you, cut up that hen, I pray God it be tender.

C. Alas, I think she was dam to the cock that crowed to St. Peter.

S. I thought that so soon as I saw her.

N. I beseech you, sir, will you carve some of that pheasant?

M. They be offices that I love to do.

N. I will one day fill my bellie full of them.

S. Master Andrew, will it please you to eat an egg?

A. With all my heart, sir, so be it new laid.

S. As new as may be; laid this morning.

A. I love new-laid eggs well.

S. Sirra, go cause a couple of eggs to be made readie.

R. By and by, will you have them hard or soft?

A. It is no matter, I love them better raire.

T. An egg of an hour, bread of a day, kidd of a month, wine of six, flesh of a year, fish of ten, a woman of fifteen, and a friend of a hundred, he must have that will be merrie.

S. What aileth Master T. that he looks so sad?

T. I am not very well at ease.

S. What feel you, where grieves it you?

T. I feel my stomach a little over-cloyde.

N. Shall I teach you a good medicine?

H. My mother, of happy memorie, was wont to tell me that a pill of wheat, of a hen the days work sweat, and some vine juice that were neat was best physick I could eat.

M. Your mother was a woman worthy to govern a kingdom.

S. My masters, you see here the period of this poor dinner; the best dish you have had hath been your welcome.

H. As that hath fed our minds so have the others fed our bodies well.

S. It grieves me that you have been put to such penance, but yet I hope you will excuse me.[Pg 212]

C. If doing such penance a man might win heaven, O sweet penance for a man to do every day."

Portions of the sixth chapter, with its talk of divers necessary prophetic and proverbial precepts for a traveller, evidently supplied Shakespeare with the hint for Scene iv. Act II. of the First Part of Henry IV., between Falstaff and Prince Hal, wherein Falstaff personates the prince's father.

"S. Mister Peeler, whatsoever I shall tell you, according to my wonted manner, I will speak as plainly unto you as though you were my son, and therefore pardon me, if I shall seem eyther too familiar, or too homely with you.

P. Say on boldly, for I shall be very proud if it please you to account me as your child, and that I may repute you as my father.

S. First, my loving Mister Peeler, if you purpose to come unto the wished end of your travel, have always your mind and thought on God."

This highly moral preamble is followed by much ungodly, worldly wisdom.

"S. And if you will be a traveller and wander safely through the world, wheresoever you come have always the eyes of a falcon that you may see far, the ears of an ass that you may hear well, the face of an ape that you may be ready to laugh, the mouth of a hog to eat all things, the shoulder of a camel that you may bear anything with patience, the legs of a stag that you may flee from dangers, and see that you never want two bags very full; that is, one of patience, for with it a man overcomes all things, and another of money, for,

They that have good store of crownes,
Are called lordes, though they be clownes;

and gold hath the very same virtue that charity hath, it covereth a multitude of faults, and golden hammers break all locks, and golden meedes do reach all heights, have always your hand on your hat, and in your purse, for,

A purse or cap used more or less a year
Gain many friends, and do not cost thee dear.

Travelling by the way in winter time, honour your companion, so shall you avoid falling into dangerous places. In summer go before, so shall not the dust come into your eyes. Setting at board, if there be but little bread, hold it fast in your hand, if small store of flesh, take hold on the bone, if no store of wine, drink often, and unless you be required, never offer any man either salt, etc."

[Pg 213]

The ninth chapter, wherein they "plausibly discourse of news of the Court and of courtiers of this day, and of many other matters of delight," is full of Falstaffian paradox, and reminiscent of Justice Shallow's relations with Jane Nightwork.

"C. What is become of your neighbour, I mean the old doating man grown twice a child?

T. As old as you see him he has of late wedded a young wench of fifteen years old.

C. Then he and she will make up the whole bible together; I mean the old and new testament.

T. To an old cat a young mouse.

C. Old flesh makes good broth.

T. What has become of his son that I see him not?

C. He was put in prison for having beaten an enemy of his.

T. Be wrong or right prison is a spite.

C. A man had need look to himself in this world.

T. What is become of his fair daughter whom he married to what you call him that was sometime our neighbour?

C. She spins crooked spindles for her husband and sends him into Cornwall without ship or boat.

T. What, does she make him wear the stag's crest then?

C. You have guessed right and have hit the nail on the head.

T. His blood is of great force and virtue then.

C. What virtue can his blood have, tell me in good faith?

T. It is good to break diamonds withal.

C. Why, man's blood cannot break diamonds.

T. Yes, but the blood of a he-goat will.

C. Moreover, he may challenge to have part in heaven by it.

T. What matter is it for him then to be a he-goat, or a stumpbuck, or a kid, or a chamois, a stag, or a brill, a unicorn, or an elephant so he may be safe, but how may that be, I pray thee, tell me?

C. I will tell thee, do not you know that whosoever is made a cuckold by his wife, either he knows it, or he knows it not.

T. That I know, then what will you infer upon it?

C. If he knows it he must needs be patient, and therefore a martyr, if he knows it not, he is innocent, and you know that martyrs and innocents shall be saved, which if you grant, it followeth that all cuckolds shall obtain paradise.

T. Methinks then that women are not greatly to be blamed if they seek their husbands' eternal salvation, but are rather to be commended as causes of a noble and worthy effect."

He speaks with evident feeling of one who is imprisoned for debt.[Pg 214]

"T. Take heed of debts; temper thy desires, and moderate thy tongue.

C. It is a devilish thing to owe money.

T. For all that he is so proud that though he have need of patience he calleth for revenge.

C. Could not he save himself out of the hands of those catchpoles, counter guardians, or sergeants?

T. Seeking to save himself by flight from that rascality he had almost left the lining of his cap behind.

C. I am sorry for his mischance, for with his jests, toys, fooleries, and pleasant conceits, he would have made Heraclitus himself to burst his heart with laughing.

T. Did you ever go see him yet?

C. I would not go into prison to fetch one of my eyes if I had left it there.

T. Yet there be some honest men there.

C. And where will you have them but in places of persecution?

T. You have reason.

C. I would not be painted there so much do I hate and loathe the place."

Speaking of the Court and courtiers he says:

"C. The favours of the Court are like fair weather in winter, or clouds in summer, and Court, in former time, was counted death.

T. It is still Court for the vicious, but death for the virtuous, learned and wise.

C. Seven days doth the Court regard a virtuous man, be he never so mannerly, well-brought up, and of gentle conditions. That is, the first day he makes a show of himself, he is counted gold; the second, silver; the third, copper; the fourth, tin; the fifth, lead; the sixth, dross; and the seventh, nothing at all, whereas the contrary happeneth of the vicious.

T. Yet the virtuous have sometimes got rich gifts there.

C. Yea, but they come as seldom as the year of jubilee.

T. Yet some of them are so courteous, so gentle, so kind, so liberal, so bountiful, that envy itself cannot choose but love them, and blame honour them, and, I think, there is no Court in the world that hath more nobility in it than ours.

T. But tell me truth, had you never the mind to become a courtier?

C. He that is well, let him not stir, for if in removing he break his leg, at his own peril be it.

T. Where there is life there is means; where means, entertainment; where entertainment, hope; where hope, there is comfort."

How closely this last passage resembles the philosophy[Pg 215] of Parolles, after his disgrace, in Act IV. Scene iii. of All's Well that Ends Well.

Par. Yet am I thankful: if my heart were great,
'Twould burst at this. Captain, I'll be no more;
But I will eat and drink, and sleep as soft
As captain shall: simply the thing I am
Shall make me live.

There's place and means for every man alive.

The familiarity of the public with the character of Falstaff, under the name of Sir John Oldcastle, is evidenced by the frequency with which both this play and character are referred to by the latter name even after the publication of the First Part of Henry IV. in 1598, with the name changed to Falstaff. If this play was originally composed, as is usually suggested, in 1596 or 1597, the short period which it could have been presented in its earlier form, and before its revision in the beginning of 1598, would scarcely allow for the confirmed acquaintance of the public with the name of Sir John Oldcastle in connection with the characterisation developed by Shakespeare. While Shakespeare took this name from the old play of The Famous Victories of Henry V., there is no similarity between the characterisation of the persons presented under that name in the two plays.

Nicholas Rowe, Shakespeare's earliest biographer, is responsible for the report that the change of the name of this character from Oldcastle to Falstaff was made by Shakespeare at the command of the Queen, and owing to the protest of Lord Cobham. It is not unlikely that there was some basis of truth for this report, nor improbable that Lord Cobham's alleged objection was caused by the misrepresentations of Shakespeare's literary rivals, including Florio, whose own "ox had been gored."[Pg 216]

In 1597 the Wardenship of the Cinque Ports having become vacant, Sir Robert Sidney, who had been long absent from England as Governor of Flushing, and was desirous of returning, made application for the office, being aided in his suit by the Earl of Essex and others of his friends in Essex's party. Sir Robert Cecil, while encouraging Sidney and professing friendship, secretly aided Lord Cobham for the post. Sidney's military fitness for so responsible a charge was constantly urged against Cobham's lack of martial experience, but the Queen, after a long delay, during which much heat developed between the contestants and their friends, finally decided in favour of her relative, Lord Cobham. The Earl of Southampton was one of Sir Robert Sidney's most intimate friends and ardent admirers, and must have taken some interest in this long-drawn-out rivalry. It is possible that Shakespeare, instigated by Southampton, may have introduced some personal reflections suggestive of Cobham's military inadequacy into the performance of the play at this crucial period, Cobham's alleged descent from the historical Oldcastle lending the suggestion its personal significance.

The sixth book of Sonnets was written either late in 1596, or in 1597. A line in the first Sonnet of this book (Thorpe's 66) implies, on Shakespeare's part, a recent unpleasant experience with the authorities:

"And art made tongue-tied by authority."

It is apparent that whatever was the cause, some difficulty arose in about 1597 regarding the name Oldcastle. Nicholas Rowe's report is substantiated by Shakespeare's own apologetic words in the Epilogue to Henry IV., Part II.:

"If you be not too much cloyed with fat meat, our humble author will continue the story, with Sir John in it, and make you merry with fair Katherine [Pg 217]of France; where, for any thing I know, Falstaff shall die of a sweat, unless already a' be killed with your hard opinions; for Oldcastle died a martyr, and this is not the man."

If Shakespeare was compelled to alter this name for the reasons reported by Nicholas Rowe, it is not unlikely that Florio and his literary allies helped in some manner to arouse the resentment of Lord Cobham. In altering the play in 1598, and changing the name of Sir John Oldcastle to Sir John Falstaff, I am convinced that Shakespeare intentionally made his caricature of John Florio more transparent by choosing a name having the same initials as his, and furthermore, that in altering the historical name of Fastolfe to Falstaff, he intended to indicate Florio's relations with Southampton as a false-staff, a misleader of youth. The Epilogue of the Second Part of Henry IV., while denying a representation of the historical Sir John Oldcastle in the words "this is not the man," implies at the same time that some other personal application is intended in the characterisation of Falstaff.

The First Part of Henry IV., with its significant allusion to the "Humourous Conceits of Sir John Falstaff" on the title-page, was entered on the Stationers' Registers under date of 25th February 1598, and was published within a short period. That John Florio recognised Shakespeare's satire and personal intention in choosing a character with his own initials he shows within a month or two of this date in his "Address to the Reader," prefixed to his Worlde of Wordes. He accuses a person, whom he indicates under the initials "H.S." of having made a satirical use of his initials "J.F." It is evident that in using the letters "H.S." he is not giving the actual initials of his antagonist. Addressing "H.S." he says: "And might not a man, that[Pg 218] can do as much as you (that is reade) finde as much matter out of H.S. as you did out of J.F.?" He says the person at whom he aims is a "reader" and a "writer" too; he also indicates him as a maker of plays. He says:

"Let Aristopanes and his comedians make plaies, and scowre their mouthes on Socrates; those very mouthes they make to vilifie, shall be meanes to amplifie his vertue. And it was not easie for Cato to speake evill, so was it not usuall for him to heare evill. It may be Socrates would not kicke againe, if an asse did kicke at him, yet some that cannot be so wise, and will not be so patient as Socrates, will for such jadish tricks give the asse his due burthen of bastonadas. Let H.S. hisse, and his complices quarrell, and all breake their gals, I have a great faction of good writers to bandie with me."

Florio here gives palpable evidence of the fact that his was not an isolated case, but that he was banded with a literary faction in hostility to Shakespeare, which included Roydon, who published Willobie his Avisa, in 1594, again in 1596, and again in 1599; Chapman, who, in 1593, attacked Shakespeare in the early Histriomastix, and again in 1599 in its revision, as well as in his poem to Harriot, appended to his Achilles Shield in the same year; and Marston, who joined Chapman in opposition to Shakespeare, and helped in the revision of Histriomastix. In the words "Let H.S. hisse, and his complices quarrell, etc.," Florio also gives evidence that Shakespeare at this period had literary allies. In the story of the Sonnets I shall show that Dekker was Shakespeare's principal ally in what has been called the "War of the Theatres," which is supposed to have commenced at this time, and, bearing in mind Chettle's recorded collaboration with Dekker at this same period, it is evident that he also sided with Shakespeare.[Pg 219]

A careful search of Elizabethan literature fails to bring to light any other writer who makes a satirical use of the initials "J.F.," or any record of a writer bearing initials in any way resembling "H.S." who in any manner approximates to Florio's description of a "reader" and a "writer too" as well as a maker of plays.

I have already shown Chapman's references to Shakespeare in the dedication of The Shadow of Night. His allusion to Shakespeare as "passion-driven" at that date (1594) being a reference to his relations with the "dark lady." That he suggests Shakespeare, in his capacity of "reader" to the Earl of Southampton, and that he takes flings at his social quality in the expression "Judgements butcher," which I recognise as an allusion to his father's trade, and in the words "Intonsi Catones," as a reference to his provincial breeding as well as to the flowing manner in which he wore his hair. In elucidating the meaning of the initials "H.S.," Florio still more coarsely indicates our country-bred poet, and accuses him of being a parasite, a bloodsucker, and a monster of lasciviousness. His abusive descriptions are given in Latin and Italian phrases commencing with the letters H and S. His reason for using the letter H no doubt being that there is no W in either Italian or Latin, H being its nearest phonetic equivalent. Let us consider the whole passage.

"There is another sort of leering curs, that rather snarle than bite, whereof I coulde instance in one, who lighting upon a good sonnet of a gentlemans, a friend of mine, that loved better to be a Poet, then to be counted so, called the author a rymer, notwithstanding he had more skill in good Poetrie, then my slie gentleman seemed to have in good manners or humanitie. But my quarrell is to a tooth-lesse [Pg 220]dog, that hateth where he cannot hurt, and would faine bite when he hath no teeth. His name is H.S. Do not take it for the Romane H.S. for he is not of so much worth, unlesse it be as H.S. is twice as much and a halfe as halfe an As. But value you him how you will, I am sure he highly valueth himselfe. This fellow, this H.S. reading (for I would you should knowe he is a reader and a writer too) under my last epistle to the reader J.F. made as familiar a word of F. as if I had bin his brother. Now Recte fit oculis magister tuis, said an ancient writer to a much-like reading gramarian-pedante[31]: God save your eie-sight, sir, or at least your insight. And might not a man, that can do as much as you (that is, reade) finde as much matter out of H.S. as you did out of J.F.? As for example H.S. why may it not stand as well for Hæres Stultitiæ, as for Homo Simplex? or for Hircus Satiricus, as well as for any of them? And this in Latine, besides Hedera Seguace, Harpia Subata, Humore Superbo, Hipocrito Simulatore in Italian. And in English world without end. Huffe Snuffe, Horse Stealer, Hob Sowter, Hugh Sot, Humphrey Swineshead, Hodge Sowgelder. Now Master H.S. if this do gaule you, forbeare kicking hereafter, and in the meane time you may make a plaister of your dried Marjoram. I have seene in my daies an inscription, harder to finde out the meaning, and yet easier for a man to picke a better meaning out of it, if he be not a man of H.S. condition."

It will be noticed that Florio's reflections upon Shakespeare's breeding, morals, and manners, while couched in coarser terms, are of the same nature as Chapman's. Ben Jonson,—as shall later be shown,—in Every Man out of his Humour, casts similar slurs at Shakespeare's provincial origin. It is likely that the friend whose sonnet had been criticised and who was called a "rymer" by "H.S." was[Pg 221] none other than George Chapman. The fifth book of Shakespeare's Sonnets to the Earl of Southampton was written against Chapman's advances upon his patron's favour. In the tenth Sonnet in this book, which is numbered as the 38th in Thorpe's arrangement, Shakespeare refers to Chapman as a rhymer in the lines:

"Be thou the tenth Muse ten times more in worth
Than those old nine which rhymers invocate."

The few records concerning Florio, from which we may derive any idea of his personal appearance and manner, suggest a very singular individuality. There was evidently something peculiar about his face; he was undoubtedly witty and worldly-wise, a braggart, a sycophant, and somewhat of a buffoon. He was imbued with an exaggerated idea of his own importance, and possessed of most unblushing assurance. In 1591 he signed his address "To the Reader," prefixed to his Second Fruites, "Resolute John Florio," a prefix which he persisted thereafter in using in similar addresses in other publications. In 1600 Sir William Cornwallis (who at that time had seen Florio's translation of Montaigne's Essays in MS.) writes of him: "Montaigne now speaks good English. It is done by a fellow less beholding to nature for his fortune than wit, yet lesser for his face than fortune. The truth is, he looks more like a good fellow than a wise man, and yet he is wise beyond either his fortune or education."

Between the year 1598 (when Florio dedicated his World of Wordes to the Earl of Southampton) and 1603, when Southampton was released from the Tower upon the accession of James I., we have no record of Florio's connection with that nobleman. It was undoubtedly due[Pg 222] to Southampton's influence in the new Court that Florio became reader to Queen Anna and Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to James I. His native vanity and arrogance blossomed into full bloom in this connection, in which he seems to have been tolerated as a sort of superior Court jester. The extravagant and grandiloquent diction of his early dedications read like commonplace prose when compared with the inflated verbosity of his later dedications to Queen Anna. In 1613 he issued a new edition of Montaigne's Essays which he dedicated to the Queen. A comparison of the flattering sycophancy of this dedication with the quick transition of his tone in his curt and insolent address "To the Reader" in the same book will give some idea of the man's shallow bumptiousness.

"To the Most Royal and Renowned Majestie of the Highborn Princess Anna of Denmark

By the grace of God, Queen of England, Scotland, France and Ireland. Imperial and Incomparable Majestic. Seeing with me all of me is in your royal possession, and whatever pieces of mine have hitherto under the starres passed the public view, come now of right to be under the predomination of a power that both contains all their perfections and hath influences of a more sublime nature. I could not but also take in this part (whereof time had worn out the edition) which the world had long since had of mine and lay it at your sacred feet as a memorial of my devoted duty, and to show that where I am I must be all I am and cannot stand dispersed in my observance being wholly (and therein happy)—Your Sacred Majesties most humble and Loyal servant,

John Florio.

To the Reader

Enough, if not too much, hath been said of this translation, if the faults found even by my own selfe in the first impression be now by the printer corrected, as he was directed, the work is much amended; if not, know, that through this mine attendance on her Majestic I could not intend it: and blame not Neptune for thy second shipwrecke. Let me conclude with this worthy mans daughter of alliance 'Que l'en semble donc lecteur.'

Still Resolute          John Florio,

Gentleman Extraordinary and Groome of the Privy Chamber."


[29] Shakespeare and the Rival Poet, 1903; Mistress Davenant, the Dark Lady of Shakespeare's Sonnets, 1913.

[30] While correcting proof sheets for this book I have found evidence that Florio was living in Oxford, and already married in September 1585. The Register of St. Peter's in the Baylie in Oxford records the baptism of Joane Florio, daughter of John Florio, upon the 24th of September in that year. Wood's City of Oxford, vol. iii. p. 258. Ed. by Andrew Clark.

[31] A grammar-school pedant, alluding to Shakespeare's limited education.


[Pg 223]



To the right worshipfull, the kinde entertainer of vertue, and mirrour of a good minde Master Nicholas Saunder of Ewel, Esquire, his devoted John Florio congratulates the rich reward of the one, and lasting beautie of the other, and wishes all felicitie els

Sir, in this stirring time, and pregnant prime of invention when everie bramble is fruitefull, when everie mol-hill hath cast of the winters mourning garment, and when everie man is busilie woorking to feede his owne fancies; some by delivering to the presse the occurrences & accidents of the world, newes from the marte, or from the mint, and newes are the credite of a travailer, and first question of an Englishman. Some like Alchimists distilling quintessences of wit, that melt golde to nothing, and yet would make golde of nothing; that make men in the moone, and catch the moon shine in the water. Some putting on pyed coates lyke calendars, and hammering upon dialls, taking the elevation of Pancridge Church (their quotidian walkes) pronosticate of faire, of foule, and of smelling weather;[Pg 224] men weatherwise, that wil by aches foretell of change and alteration of wether. Some more active gallants made of a finer molde, by devising how to win their Mistrises favours, and how to blaze and blanche their passions, with aeglogues, songs, and sonnets, in pitifull verse or miserable prose, and most for a fashion: is not Love then a wagg, that makes men so wanton? yet love is a pretie thing to give unto my Ladie. Othersome with new caracterisings bepasting al the posts in London to the proofe, and fouling of paper, in twelve howres thinke to effect Calabrian wonders: is not the number of twelve wonderfull? Some with Amadysing & Martinising a multitude of our libertine yonkers with triviall, frivolous, and vaine vaine droleries, set manie mindes a gadding; could a foole with a feather make men better sport? I could not chuse but apply my self in some sort to the season, and either proove a weede in my encrease without profit, or a wholesome pothearbe in profit without pleasure. If I prove more than I promise, I will impute it to the bountie of the gracious Soile where my endevours are planted, whose soveraine vertue divided with such worthles seedes, hath transformed my unregarded slips to medcinable simples. Manie sowe corne, and reape thisles; bestow three yeares toyle in manuring a barraine plot, and have nothing for their labor but their travel: the reason why, because they leave the low dales, to seeke thrift in the hill countries; and dig for gold on the top of the Alpes, when Esops cock found a pearle in a lower place. For me I am none of their faction, I love not to climbe high to catch shadowes; suficeth gentle Sir, that your perfections are the Port where my labors must anchor, whose manie and liberall favours have been so largely extended unto me, that I have long time studied how I might in some fort gratefully testifie my thankfulnes unto you. But when I had assembled all my thoughts, & entred into a contrarious consultation of my utmost abilities, I could not find anie employment more agreeable to my[Pg 225] power, or better beseeming my dutie, than this present Dedication, whereby the world, by the instance of your never entermitted benevolence towards me, should have a perfect insight into your vertue & bountie, (qualities growne too solitary in this age) and your selfe might be unfallibly perswaded in what degree I honor and regarde you. For indeede I neither may in equitie forget, nor in reason conceale the rare curtesies you vouchsaft me at Oxford, the friendly offers and great liberalitie since (above my hope and desert) continued at London, wherewith you have fast bound me to beare a dutiful & grateful observance towards you while I live, & to honour that mind from which as from a spring al your friendships & goodnes hath flowed: And therefore to give you some paune and certaine assurance of a thankfull minde, and my professed devotion I have consecrated these my slender endevours wholy to your delight, which shall stand for an image and monument of your worthines to posteritie. And though they serve to pleasure and profite manie, yet shall my selfe reape pleasure, also if they please you well, under whose name and cognisance they shall goe abroad and seeke their fortunes. How the world will entertaine them I know not, or what acceptance your credit may adde to their basenes I am yet uncertaine; but this I dare vaunt without sparke of vaine-glory that I have given you a taste of the best Italian fruites, the Thuscane Garden could affoorde; but if the pallate of some ale or beere mouths be out of taste that they cannot taste them, let them sporte but not spue. The moone keeps her course for all the dogges barking. I have for these fruites ransackt and rifled all the gardens of fame throughout Italie (and they are the Hesperides) if translated they do prosper as they flourished upon their native stock, or eate them & they will be sweete, or set them & they will adorne your orchyards.

The maiden-head of my industrie I yeelded to a noble Mecenas (renoumed Lecester) the honor of England, whom[Pg 226] thogh like Hector every miscreant Mirmidon dare strik being dead, yet sing Homer or Virgil, write friend or foe, of Troy, or Troyes issue, that Hector must have his desert, the General of his Prince, the Paragon of his Peeres, the watchman of our peace,

"Non so se miglior Duce o Cavalliero"

as Petrarke hath in his triumph of fame; and to conclude, the supporter of his friends, the terror of his foes, and the Britton Patron of the Muses.

"Dardanias light, and Troyans faithfulst hope."

But nor I, nor this place may halfe suffice for his praise, which the sweetest singer of all our westerns shepheards hath so exquisitely depainted, that as Achilles by Alexander was counted happy for having such a rare emblazoner of his magnanimitie, as the Meonian Poete; so I account him thrice-fortunate in having such a herauld of his vertues as Spencer; Curteous Lord, Curteous Spencer, I knowe not which hath purchast more fame, either he in deserving so well of so famous a scholler, or so famous a scholler in being so thankfull without hope of requitall to so famous a Lord: But leaving him that dying left al Artes, and al strangers as Orphanes, forsaken, and friendles, I will wholy convert my muze to you (my second patron) who amongst many that beare their crests hie, and mingle their titles with TAMMARTI QUAM MERCURIO are an unfayned embracer of vertues, and nourisher of knowledge and learning. I published long since my first fruits of such as were but meanely entred in the Italian tongue, (which because they were the first, and the tree but young were something sower, yet at last digested in this cold climat) knowing well that they would both nourish and delight, & now I have againe after long toyle and diligent pruning of my orcharde brought forth my second fruites, (better, riper, and pleasanter than the first) not unfit for those that embrace the language of the muses, or would beautifie their speech with a not vulgar[Pg 227] bravery. These two I brought forth as the daughters and offsprings of my care and studie: My elder (as before is noted) because she was ambitious (as heires are wont) I married for preferment and for honour, but this younger (fayrer, better nurtured, & comelier than her sister) because my hope of such preferment and honour as my first had, fayled me, I thought to have cloystred up in some solitarynes, which shee perceiving, with haste putting on her best ornaments and (following the guise of her countrie-women presuming very much upon the love and favour of her parentes) hath voluntaryly made her choyce (plainly telling me that she will not leade apes in hell) and matched with such a one as she best liketh, and hopeth will both dearly love her, & make her such a joynter as shal be to the comfort of her parents, and joy of her match, and therefore have I given her my consent, because shee hath jumped so well with modesty, and not aspired so high that shee might be upbraided either with her birth or basenes when she could not mend it. I know the world will smile friendlier, and gaze more upon a damzell marching in figured silkes (who are as paper bookes with nothing in them) than upon one being onely clad in home-spunn cloth (who are as playne cheasts full of treasure) yet communis error shall not have my company, and therefore have I rather chosen to present my Italian and English proverbiall sportes to such a one as I know joynes them both so aptly in himselfe, as I doubt whether is best in him, but he is best in both; who loves them both, no man better; and touching proverbs, invents them, no man finer; and aplyes them, no man fitter; and that taketh his greatest contentment in knowledge of languages (guides and instruments to perfection and excellency) as in Nectar and Ambrosia (meate onely for Gods and deyfied mindes,) I shal not neede to trouble my selfe or you with any commendation of the matter I deliver, nor to give credit by some figures and colours to proverbs and sentences, seeing your selfe know well (whose censure I[Pg 228] most respect) both how much a proverbiall speech (namely in the Italian) graceth a wise meaning, and how probably it argueth a good conceipt, and also how naturally the Italians please themselves with such materyall, short, and witty speeches (which when they themselves are out of Italy and amongst strangers, who they think hath learnt a little Italian out of Castilions courtier, or Guazzo his dialogues, they will endevour to forget or neglect and speake bookish, and not as they wil doe amongst themselves because they know their proverbs never came over the Alpes) no lesse than with the conceipted apothegmes, or Impreses, which never fall within the reach of a barren or vulgar head. What decorum I have observed in selecting them, I leave to the learned to consider. Thus craving the continuall sun-shine of your worships favour towards me, and that they may never decline to any west, and desiring your friendly censure of my travailes, I wish unto you your owne wishes, which are such as wisedome endites, and successe should subscribe.—Your affectionate in all he may.




To the Reader

Reader, good or bad, name thyself, for I know not which to tearme thee, unless heard thee read, and reading judge, or judging exercise; or curtesie the cognisance of a Gentleman, or malice the badge of a Momus, or exact examination the puritane scale of a criticall censor: to the first (as to my friends) I wish as gracious acceptance where they desire it most, as they extend where I deserve it least; to the second I can wish no worse than they worke themselves, though I should wish them blyndnes, deafnes, and dumbnes: for blynd they are (or worse) that see their owne vices, others vertues: deafe they are (or worse) that never could heare well of themselves, nor would heare well of others: and dumbe they are (and worse) that speake not but behinde mens backs (whose bookes speake to all;) and speake nought but is naught like themselves, than who, what can be worse? As for critiks I accompt of them as crickets; no goodly bird if a man marke them, no sweete note if a man heare them, no good luck if a man have them; they lurke in corners, but catch cold if they looke out; they lie in sight of the furnace that tryes others, but will not come neare the flame that should purifie themselves: they are bred of filth, & fed with filth, what vermine to call them I know not, or wormes, or flyes, or what worse? They[Pg 230] are like cupping glasses, that draw nothing but corrupt blood; like swine, that leave the cleare springs to wallow in a puddle: they doo not as Plutarke and Aristarcus derive philosophie, and set flowers out of Homer; but with Zoylus deride his halting, and pull asunder his faire joynted verses: they doo not seeke honie with the bee, but suck poyson with the spider. They will doo nought, yet all is naught but what they doo; they snuff our lampes perhaps, but sure they add no oyle; they will heale us of the toothache, but are themselves sick of the fever-lourdane. Demonstrative rethorique is their studie, and the doggs letter they can snarle alreadie. As for me, for it is I, and I am an Englishman in Italiane, I know they have a knife at command to cut my throate, Un Inglese Italianato, e un Diauolo incarnato. Now, who the Divell taught thee so much Italian? speake me as much more, and take all. Meane you the men, or their mindes? be the men good, and their mindes bad? speake for the men (for you are one) and I will doubt of your minde: Mislike you the language? Why the best speake it best, and hir Majestie none better. I, but too manie tongues are naught; indeede one is too manie for him that cannot use it well. Mithridates was reported to have learned three and twentie severall languages, and Ennius to have three harts, because three tongues, but it should seeme thou hast not one sound heart, but such a one as is cancred with ennui; nor anie tongue, but a forked tongue, thou hissest so like a snake, and yet me thinkes by thy looke, thou shouldst have no tongue thou gapest and mowest so like a frogg: I, but thou canst reade whatsoever is good in Italian, translated into English. And was it good that they translated then? or were they good that translated it? Had they been like thee, they were not woorth the naming; and thou being unlike them, art unworthie to name them. Had they not knowen Italian, how had they translated it? had they not translated it, where were not thy reading? Rather drinke at the wel-head, than[Pg 231] sip at pudled streames; rather buy at the first hand, than goe on trust at the hucksters. I, but thou wilt urge me with their manners & vices, (not remembring that where great vices are, there are infinit vertues) & aske me whether they be good or bad? Surely touching their vices, they are bad (& I condemne them) like thyself; the men are as we are, (is bad, God amend both us & them) and I think wee may verie well mend both. I, but (peradventure) thou wilt say my frutes are wyndie, I pray thee keepe thy winde to coole thy potage. I, but they are rotten: what, and so greene? that's marvell; indeede I thinke the caterpiller hath newly caught them. If thy sight and taste be so altred, that neither colour or taste of my frutes will please thee, I greatly force not, for I never minded to be thy fruterer. Muro bianco is paper good enough for everie matto: Prints were first invented for wise mens use, and not for fooles play. These Proverbs and proverbiall Phrases, (hethertoo so peculiar to the Italians, that they could never find the way over the Apenines, or meanes to become familiar to anie other Nation) have onely been selected and stamped for the wise and not for thee, (and therefore hast thou no part in them) who will kindly accept of them: (though in the ordering of them I differ from most mens methodes, who in their compositions onely seeke for words to expresse their matter, and I have endevored to finde matter to declare those Italian words & phrases, that yet never saw Albions cliffes) for the pleasure of which, I will shortly send into the world an exquisite Italian and English Dictionary, and a compendious Grammer. The Sunne spreading his beames indifferently (and my frutes are in an open orchyard, indifferent to all) doth soften wax, and harden clay; (my frutes will please the gentler, but offend the clayish or clownish sort, whom good things scarcely please, and I care not to displease). I know I have them not all, and you with readie (if I should say so) with Bate me an ace quoth Bolton, or Wide quoth Bolton when his bolt flew[Pg 232] backward. Indeed here are not all, for tell me who can tell them; but here are the chiefs, and thanke me that I cull them. The Greekes and Latines thanks Erasmus, and our Englishmen make much of Heywood: for Proverbs are the pith, the proprieties, the proofs, the purities, the elegancies, as the commonest so the commendablest phrases of a language. To use them is a grace, to understand them a good, but to gather them a paine to me, though gain to thee. I, but for all that I must not scape without some new flout: now would I were by thee to give thee another, and surely I would give thee bread for cake. Farewell if thou meane well; els fare as ill, as thou wishest me to fare.

The last of April, 1591.

Resolute          I.F.



To the right honorable patrons of vertue, patterns of honor, Roger Earle of Rutland, Henrie Earle of Southampton, Lucie Countesse of Bedford

This dedication (Right Honorable and that worthily) may haply make your Honors muse; wellfare that dedication, that may excite your muse. I am no auctorifed Herauld to marshall your precedence. Private dutie might perhaps give one the prioritie, where publike respect should prefer another. To choose Tullie or Ausonius Consuls, is to prefer them before all but one; but to choose either the former of the twaine, is to prefer him before all. It is saide of Atreus in a fact most disorderly, that may be saide of any in so ordering his best dutie.

It makes no matter whether, yet he resolves of neither. I onely say your Honors best knowe your places: An Italian turne may serve the turne. Lame are we in Platoes censure, if we be not ambidexters, using both handes alike. Right-hand, or left-hand as Peeres with mutuall paritie, without disparagement may be please your Honors to joyne hand in hand, an so jointly to lende an eare (and lende it I beseech you) to a poore man, that invites your Honors to a christening, that I and my poore studies, like Philemon and[Pg 234] Baucis, may in so lowe a cottage entertaine so high, if not deities, yet dignities; of whom the Poet testifies.

"Ma sopraogni altro frutto gradito
Fu il volto allegro, e'l non bigiardo amore.
E benchefosse pouero il conuito,
Non fu la volonta pouera e'l core.

But of all other cheere most did content
A cheerefull countenance, and a willing minde,
Poore entertainment being richly ment,
Pleaded excuse for that which was behinde."

Two overhastie fruites of mine nowe some yeeres since, like two forwarde females, the one put her selfe in service to an Earle of Excellence, the other to a Gentleman of Woorth, both into the worlde to runne the race of their fortune. Now where my rawer youth brought foorth those female fruites, my riper yeeres affoording me I cannot say a braine-babe Minerva, armed at all affaies at first houre; but rather from my Italian Semele, and English thigh, a bouncing boie, Bacchus-like, almost all named: And being as the manner of this countrie is, after some strength gathered to bring it abroade; I was to entreate three witnesses to the entrie of it into Christendome, over-presumptuous (I grant) to entreate so high a preference, but your Honors so gracious (I hope) to be over-entreated. My hope springs out of three stems: your Honors naturall benignitie; your able employment of such servitours; and the towardly likeliehood of this Springall to do you honest service. The first, to vouchsafe all; the second, to accept this; the third, to applie it selfe to the first and second. Of the first, your birth, your place, and your custome; of the second, your studies, your conceits, and your exercise: of the thirde, my endevours, my proceedings, and my project gives assurance. Your birth, highly noble, more than gentle: your place, above others, as in degree, so in height of bountie, and other vertues: your custome, never wearie of well dooing: your studies much in al, most in Italian excellence: your conceits,[Pg 235] by understanding others to work above them in your owne: your exercise, to reade, what the worlds best wits have written and to speake as they write. My endevours, to apprehend the best, if not all: my proceedings, to impart my best, first to your Honors, then to all that emploie me: my project, in this volume to comprehend the best and all. In truth I acknowledge an entyre debt, not onely of my best knowledge, but of all, yea of more then I know or can, to your bounteous Lordship most noble, most vertuous, and most Honorable Earle of Southampton, in whose paie and patronage I have lived some yeeres; to whom I owe and vowe the yeeres I have to live. But as to me, and manie more the glorious and gracious sunne-shine of your Honor hath infused light and life: so may my lesser borrowed light, after a principall respect to your benigne aspect, and influence, affoorde some lustre to some others. In loyaltie I may averre (my needle toucht, and drawne, and held by such an adamant) what he in love assumed, that sawe the other stars, but bent his course by the Pole-starre, and two guardes, avowing, Aspicit unam One guideth me, though more I see. Good parts imparted are not empaired: Your springs are first to serve your selfe, yet may yeelde your neighbours sweete water; your taper is to light to you first, and yet it may light your neighbours candle. I might make doubt, least I or mine be not now of any further use to your selfe-sufficiencie, being at home so instructed for Italian, as teaching or learning could supplie, that there seemed no neede of travell: and nowe by travell so accomplished, as what wants to perfection? Wherein no lesse must be attributed to your embellisht graces (my most noble, most gracious, and most gracefull Earle of Rutland) well entred in the toong, ere your Honor entered Italie, there therein so perfected, as what needeth a Dictionarie? Naie, if I offer service but to them that need it, with what face seeke I a place with your excellent Ladiship (my most-most honored, because best-best adorned Madame) who by con[Pg 236]ceited Industrie, or industrious conceite, in Italian as in French, in French as in Spanish, in all as in English, understand what you reade, write as you reade, and speake as you write; yet rather charge your minde with matter, then your memorie with words? And if this present, present so small profit, I must confesse it brings much lesse delight: for, what pleasure is a plot of simples, O non vista, o mal note, o mal gradite, Or not seene, or ill knowne, or ill accepted? Yet heere-hence may some good accrewe, not onelie to truantlie-schollers, which ever-and-anon runne to Venuti, and Alunno; or to new-entred novices, that hardly can construe their lesson; or to well-forwarde students, that have turned over Guazzo and Castiglione, yea runne through Guarini, Ariosto, Taffo, Boccace and Petrarche: but even to the most compleate Doctor; yea to him that best can stande All'erta for the best Italian, heereof sometimes may rise some use: since, have he the memorie of Themistocles, of Seneca, of Scaliger yet is it not infinite, in so finite a bodie. And I have seene the best, yea naturall Italians, not onely stagger, but even sticke fast in the myre, and at last give it over, or give their verdict with An ignoramus, Boccace is prettie hard, yet understood: Petrarche harder, but explaned: Dante hardest, but commented. Some doubt if all aright. Alunno for his foster-children hath framed a worlde of their wordes. Venuti taken much paines in some verie fewe authors; and our William Thomas hath done prettilie; and if all faile, although we misse or mistake the worde, yet make we up the sence. Such making is marring. Naie all as good; but not as right. And not right, is flat wrong. One saies of Petrarche for all: A thousand strappadas coulde nor compell him to confesse, what some interpreters will make him saie he ment. And a Judicious gentleman of this lande will uphold, that none in England understands him thoroughly. How then ayme we at Peter Aretine, that is so wittie, hath such varietie, and frames so manie new words? At Francesco Doni who is so fantasticall, & so strange? At Thomaso[Pg 237] Garzoni in his Piassa universale; or at Allesandro Cittolini, in his Typecosmia, who have more proper and peculiar words concerning everie severall trade, arte, or occupation for everie particular toole, or implement belonging unto them, then ever any man heeretofore either collected in any booke, or sawe collected in any one language? How shall we understand Hanniball Caro, who is so full of wittie jestes, sharpe quips, nipping tantes, and scoffing phrases against that grave and learned man Lodivico Castelvetri, in his Apologia de' Banchi? How shall the English Gentleman come to the perfect understanding of Federico Grisone, his Arte del Cavalcare, who is so full of strange phrases, and unusuall wordes, peculiar onely to horse-manship, and proper but to Cavalarizzi? How shall we understand so manie and so strange bookes, of so severall, and so fantasticall subjects as be written in the Italian toong? How shall we, naie how may we ayme at the Venetian, at the Romane, at the Lombard, at the Neapolitane, at so manie, and so much differing Dialects, and Idiomes, as be used and spoken in Italie, besides the Florentine? Sure we must saie as that most intelligent and grave Prelate said, when he came new out of the South into the North, and was saluted with a womans sute in Northern. Now what is that in English? If I, who many yeeres have made profession of this toong, and in this search or quest of inquirie have spent most of my studies; yet many times in many wordes have beene so stal'd, and stabled, as such sticking made me blushinglie confesse my ignorance, and such confession indeede made me studiouslie seeke helpe, but such helpe was not readilie to be had at hande. Then may your Honors without any dishonour, yea what and whosoever he be that thinkes himselfe a very good Italian, and that to trip others, doth alwaies stande All'erta, without disgrace to himselfe, sometimes be at a stand, and standing see no easie issue, but for issue with a direction, which in this mappe I hold, if not exactlie delineated, yet conveniently prickt out. Is all then in this[Pg 238] little? All I knowe: and more (I know) then yet in any other. Though most of these you know alreadie, yet have I enough, if you know anie thing more then you knew, by this. The retainer doth some service, that now and then but holds your Honors styrrop, or lendes a hande over a stile, or opens a gappe for easier passage, or holds a torch in a darke waie: enough to weare your Honors cloth. Such then since this may proove, proove it (right Honorable) and reproove not for it my rudenes, or my rashnes; rudenes in presuming so high, rashnes in assuming so much for it that yet is unaprooved. Some perhaps will except against the sexe, and not allowe it for a male-broode, sithens as our Italians saie, Le parole sono femine, & i fatti sono maschy, Wordes they are women, and deeds they are men. But let such know that Detti and fatti, wordes and deeds with me are all of one gender. And although they were commonly Feminine, why might not I by strong imagination (which Phisicions give so much power unto) alter their sexe? Or at least by such heaven-pearcing devotion as transformed Iphis, according to that description of the Poet.

"Et ognimembro suo piu forte e sciolto
Sente, e volge allamadre il motto, e'l lume.
Come veto fanciullo esser vede
Iphi va con parole alme, e devote
Altempio con la madre, e la nutrice,
E paga il voto, e'l suo miracoldice.

Feeling more vigor in each part and strength
Then earst, and that indeede she was a boy.
Towards hir mother eies and wordes at length
She turns, and at the temple with meeke joy
He and his nurse and mother utter how
The case fell out, and so he paide his vow."

And so his strength, his stature, and his masculine vigor (I would, naie I coulde saie vertue) makes me assure his sexe, and according to his sexe provide so autenticall testimonies. Laie then your blisse-full handes on his head[Pg 239] (right Honorable) and witnes that he by me devoted to your Honors, forsakes my private cell, all retired conceites, and selfe-respects to serve you in the worlde, the world in you; and beleeves in your Honors goodnes, in proportion as his service shall be of moment and effectuall; and that you will not onely in due censure be his judges, but on true judgement his protectors; and in this faith desires to be numbered in your familie; so in your studies to attend, as your least becke may be his dieugarde; for he hath toong to answer, words at will, and wants not some wit, though he speake plaine what each thing is. So have I crost him, and so blest him, your god-childe, and your servant; that you may likewise give him your blessing, if it be but as when one standes you in steede, supplies you, or pleases you, you saie, Gods-blessing on him. But though in the fore-front he beares your Honorable names, it may be demanded how is it, your Honors gave not him his name? Heerein (right Honorable) beare with the fondnes of his mother, my Mistresse Muse, who seeing hir female Arescusa turn'd to a pleasing male Arescon (as Plinie tels of one) beg'd (as some mothers use) that to the fathers name she might prefixe a name befitting the childes nature. So cald she him, A worlde of wordes: since as the Univers containes all things, digested in best equipaged order, embellisht with innumerable ornaments by the universall creator. And as Tipocosmia imaged by Allesandro Cittolini, and Fabrica del mondo, framed by Francesco Alunno, and Piazza universale set out by Thomaso Garzoni tooke their names of the universall worlde, in words to represent things of the world: as words are types of things, and everie man by himselfe a little world in some resemblances; so thought she, she did see as great capacitie, and as meete method in this, as in those latter, and (as much as there might be in Italian and English) a modell of the former, and therefore as good cause so to entitle it. If looking into it, it looke like the Sporades, or scattered Ilands, rather than one well-joynted or close-joyned bodie,[Pg 240] or one coherent orbe: your Honors knowe, an armie ranged in files is fitter for muster, then in a ring; and jewels are sooner found in severall boxes, then all in one bagge. If in these rankes the English outnumber the Italian, congratulate the copie and varietie of our sweete-mother toong, which under this most Excellent well-speaking Princesse or Ladie of the worlde in all languages is growne as farre beyond that of former times, as her most flourishing raigne for all happines is beyond the raignes of former Princes. Right Honorable, I feare me I have detained your Honors too long with so homelie entertainment, yet being the best the meanenes of my skill can affoorde; which intending as my childes christening-banquet, heereunto I presumed to invite your Honors: but I hope what was saide at you Honors first comming (I meane in the beginning of my Epistle) shall serve for a finall excuse. And in conclusion (most Honorable) once againe at your departure give me leave to commend this sonne of mine to your favourable protections, and advowe him yours, with this licence, that as Henricus Stephanus dedicated his Treasure of the Greeke toong to Maximilian the Emperour, to Charles the French king, and to Elizabeth our dread Soveraigne, and by their favours to their Universities: So I may consecrate this lesser-volume of little-lesse value, but of like import, first, to your triple-Honors, then under your protections to all Italian-English, or English-Italian students. Vouchsafe then (highlie Honorable) as of manie made for others, yet made knowne to your Honors, so of this to take knowledge, who was borne, bred, and brought foorth for your Honors chiefe service; though more service it may do, to many others, that more neede it; since manie make as much of that, which is made for them, as that they made them-selves, and of adopted, as begotten children; yea Adrian the Emperour made more of those then these; since the begotten are such as fates give us, the adopted such as choice culs us; they oftentimes Stolti, sgarbati, & inutili, these ever with Corpo intiero, leggiadre membra, entente sana.[Pg 241] Accepting therefore of the childe, I hope your Honors wish as well to the Father, who to your Honors all-devoted wisheth meeds of your merits, renowme of your vertues, and health of your persons, humblie with gracious leave kissing your thrice-honored hands, protesteth to continue ever

Your Honors most humble and

bounden in true service,

John Florio.



To the Reader

I know not how I may again adventure an Epistle to the reader, so are these times, or readers in these times, most part sicke of the sullens, and peevish in their sicknes, and conceited in their peevishnes. So should I feare the fire, that have felt the flame so lately, and flie from the sea, that have yet a vow to pay for escaping my last shipwracke. Then what will the world say for ventring againe? A fuo danno, one will say. Et a torto si lamenta del mare, chi due volte civoul tornare, will another say. Good council indeede, but who followeth it? Doe we not daily see the contrarie in practise? Who loves to be more on the sea, then they that have been most on it? Whither for change if they have kept at a stay: or for amends if they have lost: or for increase if they have gotten. Of these there are ynow and wise-ynough to excuse me. Therefore I have put forward at aventure: But before I recount unto thee (gentle reader) the purpose of my new voyage: give me leave a little to please my selfe and refresh thee with the discourse of my olde danger. Which because in some respect is a common danger, the discoverie thereof may happily profit other men, as much as please myselfe. And here might I begin with those notable Pirates in this our paper-sea, those sea-dogs, or lande-Critikes, monsters of men, if not beastes rather than men; whose teeth[Pg 243] are Canibals, their toongs adder-forkes, their lips aspes-poyson, their eies basiliskes, their breath the breath of a grave, their wordes like swordes of Turkes, that strive which shall dive deepest into a Christian lying bound before them. But for these barking and biting dogs, they are as well knowne as Scylla and Charybdis.

There is another sort of leering curs, that rather snarle than bite, whereof I coulde instance in one, who lighting upon a good sonnet of a gentlemans, a friend of mine, that loved better to be a Poet, then to be counted so, called the auctor a rymer, notwithstanding he had more skill in good Poetrie, then my slie gentleman seemed to have in good manners or humanitie But my quarrell is to a tooth-lesse dog that hateth where he cannot hurt, and would faine bite, when he hath no teeth. His name is H.S. Doe not take it for the Romane H.S. for he is not of so much worth, unlesse it be as H.S. is twice as much and a halfe as halfe an As. But value him how you will, I am sure he highly valueth himselfe. This fellow, this H.S. reading (for I would you should knowe he is a reader and a writer too) under my last epistle to the reader I.F. made as familiar a word of F. as if I had bin his brother. Now Recte fit oculis magister tuis, said an ancient writer to a much-like reading gramarian-pedante: God save your eie-sight, sir, or at least your insight. And might not a man that can do as much as you (that is, reade) finde as much matter out of H.S. as you did out of I.F.? As for example, H.S. why may it not stand as well for Haerus Stultitiae, as for Homo Simplex? or for Hara Suillina, as for Hostis Studioforum? or for Hircus Satiricus, as well as for any of them? And this in Latine, besides Hedera Seguice, Harpia Subata, Humore Superbo, Hipocrito Simulatore in Italian. And in English world without end, Huffe Snuffe, Horse Stealer, Hob Sowter, Hugh Sot, Humfrey Swineshead, Hodge Sowgelder. Now Master H.S. if this doe gaule you, forbeare kicking hereafter, and in the meane time you may make you a plaister of[Pg 244] your dride Maroram. I have seene in my daies an inscription, harder to finde out the meaning, and yet easier for a man to picke a better meaning out of it, if he be not a man of H.S. condition. There is a most excellent preface to the excellently translated booke signed A.B. which when I sawe, I eftsoones conceived, could I in perusing the whole A B C omit the needelesse, and well order the requisite letters, I should find some such thing as Admirabilis Bonitas, or Amantum Beatissumus. But how long thinke you would H.S. have bin rooting and grunting ere he could have found as he is Hominum Simplicissimus, or would have pickt out as he is Hirudo Sanguifuga, so honest a meaning? Trust me I cannot but marvell at the disposition of these men, who are so malicious as they will not spare to stab others, though it be through their owne bodies, and wrong other men with their owne double harme. Such mens wordes a wise man compares to boltes shot right-up against heaven, that come not neare heaven, but downe againe upon their pates that shot them: or a man may compare them to durt flung at another man, which besides it defiles his handes that flings it, possibly it is blowne backe againe upon his owne face: or to monie put out to usurie, that returnes with increase, so they delivered with hatred, are repaide with much more: or to the blasting Sereno in hot countries, rising from puddles, dunghils, carions, putrified dampes, poysoned lakes, that being detestable itselfe, makes that much more detested from whence it comes. On the other side a good word is a deaw from heaven to earth, that soakes into the roote and sends forth fruite from earth to heaven: it is a precious balme, that hath sweetenesse in the boxe, whence it comes, sweetnesse and vertue in the bodie, whereto it comes: it is a golden chaine, that linkes the toongs, and eares, and harts of writers and readers, each to other. They hurt not God (faith Seneca) but their owne soules, that overthrowe his altars: Nor harme they good men, but themselves, that turns their sacrifice of praises into blasphemie. They that[Pg 245] rave, and rage, and raile against heaven I say not (faith be) they are guiltie of sacrilege, but at least they loose their labour. Let Aristophanes and his comedians make plaies, and scowre their mouthes on Socrates; those very mouthes they make to vilifie, shall be the meanes to amplifie his vertue. And as it was not easie for Cato to speake evill, so was it not usuall for him to hear evill: it may be Socrates would not kicke againe, if an asse did kicke at him, yet some that cannot be so wise, and will not be so patient as Socrates, will for such jadish tricks give the asse his due burthen of bastonadas. Let H.S. hisse, and his complices quarrell, and all breake their gals, I have a great faction of good writers to bandie with me.

"Think they to set their teeth on tender stuffe?
But they shall marre their teeth, and finde me tough."

Conantes frangere frangam, said Victoria Collonna:

"Those that to breake me strive,
I'le breake them if I thrive."

Yet had not H.S. so causelesly, so witlesly provoked me, I coulde not have bin hired, or induced against my nature, against my manner thus far to have urged him: though happily heereafter I shall rather contemne him, then farther pursue him. He is to blame (faith Martiall, and further he brandes him with a knavish name) that will be wittie in another mans booke. How then will scoffing readers scape this marke of a maledizant? whose wits have no other worke, nor better worth then to flout, and fall out? It is a foule blemish that Paterculus findes in the face of the Gracchi. They had good wits, but used them ill. But a fouler blot then a Jewes letter is it in the foreheads of Caelies and Curio, that he sets, Ingeniose nequam, they were wittily wicked. Pitie it is but evermore wit should be vertuous, vertue gentle, gentrie studious, students gracious. Let follie be dishonest, dishonestie unnoble, ignobilitie scandalous and scandall[Pg 246] slanderous. Who then are they that mispend all their leisure, yea take their cheefe pleasure in back biting well-deservers? I see and am sorie to see a sort of men, whose fifth element is malediction, whose life is infamie, whose death damnation, whose daies are surfeiting, whose nights lecherie, yea such as Nanna could never teach Pippa, nor Comare and Balia discourse of and whose couches are Spintries; whose thrift is usurie, meales gluttonie, exercise cousenage, whose valour bragardrie, Astolpheidas, or Rodomontadas, or if it come to action, crueltie; whose communication is Atheisme, contention, detraction, or Paillardise, most of lewdness, seld of vertue, never of charitie; whose spare-time is vanitie or villanie: yet will I not deale by them, as they doe by others. I like not reproofe where it pertaines not to me: But if they like to see their owne pictures in lively colours of their own ornaments, habillements, attendants, observances, studies, amours, religions, games, travels, imployments, furnitures, let them as gentlemen (for so I construe Nobiles, and more they be not, if they be no lesse) goe to the Painters shop, or looking-glasse of Ammianus Marcellinus, an unpartiall historian, in his 28. booke about the middle, and blush, and amend, and think, that thence, and out of themselves I might well draw a long declamation: they that understand him, will agnise this; they that doe not, let them learne: let both conceive, how they conforme, and both reforme their deformities; or if they will not, at least let them forbeare to blur others because they are blacke themselves, least it be saide to them, as Seneca saide to one not unfitely, Te fera scabies depascitur, tu nacuos rides pulchriorum? this let them construe, and take to them the meaning of their labour. And though I more then feare much detracting: for I have already tasted some, and that extraordinarie though in an ordinarie place, where my childe was beaten ere it was borne: some divining of his imperfectnes for his English part; some fore-speaking his generall weakenes, and very gently seeming to pitie his[Pg 247] fathers. And one averring he could beget a better of his owne, which like ynough he can, and hath done many a one, God forgive him. But the best is, my sonne with all his faultes shall approove himself no misse-begotten. And for those exceptions, knowing from whom they come, I were very weake-minded if they coulde anything moove me. And that husbandman might be counted very simple, that for the ominous shreekes of an unluckie, hoarce-voist, dead-devouring night-raven or two, or for feare of the malice of his worst conditioned neighbors, would neglect either to till and sowe his ground, or after in due time to reape and thresh out his harvest, that might benefite so many others with that, which both their want might desire, and their thankfulness would deserve. So did I intend my first seede, so doe I my harvest. The first fruites onely reserved to my Honorable Patrones, the rest to every woorthie Ladie and gentleman that pleases to come and buy; and though I doubt not but ravens and crowes both, will have a graine or two now and then in spite of my teeth, especially H.S. who is so many graines too light: yet I am well content to repay good for evill, thinking it not impossible that by the taste of the corne those very soules may in time have their mouthes stopt for speaking evill against the husbandman. And let this comparison of a labouring man by the way put you in minde (gentle reader) of his labours, that hath laboured so much, and so long to save you a labour, which I doubt not but he may as justly stand upon in this toong-work, as in Latin Sir Thomas Eliot, Bishop Cooper, and after them Thomas Thomas, and John Rider have done amongst us: and in Greeks and Latin both the Stephans, the father and the sonne, who notwithstanding the helpes each of them had, yet none of them but thought he might challenge speciall thankes for his special travell, to better purpose then any before him. And if they did so in those toongs, where they had so many, and so great helpes, and in toongs which were helpes to one another; they that understande, will easily acknowledge the difference[Pg 248] betwixt my paines and theirs: yet I desire no pre-eminence of thankes; but either equall thankes, or equall excuse. And well may I make that comparison betwixt our labours, that Allessandro Cittolini maketh in his Tipocosmia: we all fared indeed like sea-faring men (according to my first comparison) and lanched foorth into a deepe, and dangerous sea, but they had this advantage of me, that they were many to steere a passage-boate; I was but one to turne and winde the sailes, to use the oare, to sit at sterne, to pricke my carde, to watch upon the upper decke, boate-swaine, pilot, mate, and master, all offices in one, and that in a more unruly, more unweildie, and more roome-some vessell, then the biggest hulke on Thames, or burthen-bearing Caracke in Spaine, or slave-tiring Gallie in Turkie, and that in a sea more divers, more dangerous, more stormie, and more comfortlesse then any Ocean. If any thinke I had great helpes of Alunno, or of Venuti, let him confer, and knowe I have in two, yea almost in one of my letters of the Alphabet, more wordes, then they have in all their twentie; and they are but for a few auctors in the Italian toong, mine for most that write well, as may appeere by the Catalog of bookes that I have read through of purpose for the accomplishing of this Dictionarie. I would not meddle with their defects and errors nor yet amplifie the fulnesse or perfection of my owne worke, farther then upon a just ground to satisfie his good desire that wisheth the best helpe. If any man aske whether all Italian wordes be here? I answer him, it may be no: and yet I thinke heere be as many, as he is likely to finde (that askes the question) within the compasse of his reading; and yet he may have read well too. I should thinke that very few wordes could escape those auctors I have set downe, which I have read of purpose to the absolute accomplishing of this worke, being the most principall, choisest, and difficult in the toong; especially writing in such varietie not onely of matters, but of dialects: but what I aske him againe, how many hundred wordes he, and[Pg 249] possibly his teachers too were gravelled in? which he shall finde here explaned? If no other bookes can be so well perfected, but still some thing may be added, how much lesse a Word-booke? Since daily both new wordes are invented; and bookes still found, that make a new supplie of olde. We see the experience in Latin, a limited toong, that is at his full growth: and yet if a man consider the reprinting of Latin Dictionaries, ever with addition of new store, he would thinke it were still increasing. And yet in these Dictionaries as in all other that that is printed still is reputed perfect. And so it is no doubt after the customarie and possible perfection of a Dictionarie, which kinde of perfection if I chalenge to mine (especially considering the yeerelt increase, which is as certainly in this, in French, in Spanish, in Dutch, &c., as we find by experience it is in English; and I thinke I may well saie more in this, then in the rest; yea and in the rest mostly from this) I hope no man that shall expend the woorth of this worke in impartiall examination, will thinke I challenge more then is due to it. And for English-gentlemen me thinks it must needs be a pleasure to them, to see so rich a toong out-vide by their mother-speech, as by the manie-folde Englishes or manie wordes in this is manifest? The want whereof in England heeretofore, I might justly say in all Europe, might more endeare the woorth. Though without it some knew much, yet none knew all Italian, as all may do by this. That well to know Italian is a grace of all graces, without exception, which I ever exemplifie in her gracious Highnes; whose due-deserved-praises set foorth aright I may rightly say, as a notable Italian writer saide earst of hir most-renowmed father of famous memorie, Che per capir le giufte lodi della quale conuerrebbe o che il cieli s'inalzaffe, o ch'il mondo s'allargaffe; or as the moderne Italian Homer saide of a Queene far inferious to hir thrice-sacred Majestie, Che le glorie altrui si esprimono scrivendo e parlando, quelle di fua serenissima e sacratissima Maesta si possono solo esprimere[Pg 250] maravigliando e tacendo. Of whose innumerable excellencies, is not the fore-most, yet most famous I have heard, and often have had the good hap and comfort to see, that no Embassador or stranger hath audience of hir Majestie, but in his native toong; and none hath answere but in the same; or in the common toongs of Greeke and Latin, by hir sacred lips pronounced. That the best by hir patterne desire to doe as much, I doubt not; but I doubt how they can without such helpe, and that such helpe was to be had till now. I denie: yet doe I understand that a gentleman of worshipful account, well travelled, well conceited, and well experienced in the Italian, hath in this very kinde taken great pains, and made as great proofes of his inestimable worth. Glad would I be to see that worke abroad; some sight whereof gave me twenty yeeres since the first light to this. But since he suppresseth his, for private respects, or further perfection, nor he, nor others will (I hope) prize this the lesse. I could here enter into a large discourse of the Italian toong, and of the teachers and teaching thereof, and shew the ease and facilities of it, with setting downe some few, yea very few observations whereunto the Italian toong may be reduced: which some of good sort and experience have merrily compared to jugling-tricks, all which afore a man know or discover how they are done, one would judge to be very hard and difficult; but after a man hath seene them and knowes them, they are deemed but slight and easie. And I was once purposed for the benefite of all learners to have done it, and to have shewed why through my Dictionarie I have in all verbs of the first conjugation onely set downe the Infinitive moode, except it be of fower irregular verbes, and wherefore in all of the seconde and thirde conjugations I have noted besides the Infinitive moode, the first person singular of the present-tence of the Indicative moode, the first person singular of the first preterperfect-tence of the Indicative, and the participle. And why in the verbes of the fourth conjugation, I have[Pg 251] besides the Infinitive moode, the participle, the first person singular of the present-tence of the Indicative moode of some very few, and not of all, and how by those fewe onely one may frame all the persons of all the tences of all the verbes in the Italian toong; without the knowledge of which, and of those few observations glanced at before, no man can or shall ever learne to speake or write true Italian in England: But that I understand there be some that are perswaded, yea and affirme, that nothing can be set down either by me, or any else that they have not or knowe not before; and I am informed, that some would not be ashamed to protest they knewe as much before: and therefore contrarie to my first resolution I forbeare to doe it, grieving that for their sakes the gentle reader and learner shall be barred of so necessarie a scale of the Italian toong. If these, or others thinke of this no such paines, little price, or lesse profit then I talke of, I onely wish, they felt but halfe my paines for it; or let them leave this, and tie themselves to the like taske, and then let the fruites of our labors, and the reapers of the fruites judge betwixt us whose paines hath sorted to best perfection: which ere long (if God sende me life, and blesse these labors) I meane to perfect with addition of the French and Latine, and with the wordes of some twenty good Italian auctors, that I could never obtaine the sight of, and hope shortly to enjoy: And I intend also to publish and annexe unto this, an Alphabeticall English Dictionarie, that any man knowing but the English word, shall presently finde the Italian for it. Meane-while I wish to thee, as of me thou shalt deserve, and wish of thee as I knowe of thee I have deserved.


John Florio.



In the blessed name of God the Father my gracious Creator and Maker, of God the Sonne Jesus Christ my merciful Savyor and Redeemer, and of God the Holie Ghost three persons and one ever liveing and omnipotent God, in unity and Trinity my most loving Comforter and preserver Amen. I John Florio of Fulham in the Countie of Middlesex Esqre, being of good health and sound minde and perfect memory, hearty thankes bee ever ascribed and given therefore unto Almighty God, And well in remembering and knowing that nothing is more certayne unto mortall man than death and noe one thing more uncertayne then is the houre therof, doe make appoint pronounce and declare this my Testament therin fully contayning my last direct and unrevocable will and intention in manner and forme following; That is to say, First and principally as duty and Christianity willeth mee I most heartily and penitently sorrowfull for all my sinnes committ and recommend my soule into the mercifull handes of Almighty God, assuredly trusting and faithfully beleeving by the onely meritts bitter passion precious blood and glorious death of the immaculate Lambe Jesus Christ his Sonne, to have full remission and absolute forgiveness of all my sinnes whatsoever, and after this transitory life to live and raigne with him in his most blessed Kingdome of heaven. As for my wretched Body I committe the same as earth to earth and dust to dust to be buried in such decent order as to my deare Wife and by my executors here under-named shalbee thought meete and convenient. And as touching the disposing and ordering of all and whatsoever such goodes cattle, chattle, Leases, monie, plate, jewells,[Pg 253] bookes, apparrell, bedding, hangings, peawter, brasse, household stuffe moveables, immoveables and all other things whatsoever named or unnamed, specifide or unspecifide, wherwith my most gracious God hath beene pleased to endowe mee with or hereafter shall of his infinite mercy bee pleased to bestowe or conferre upon me in this transitory life, I will appoint give order dispose and bequeath all and every part and parcel of the same firmely and unalterably to stand in manner and forme following, That is to say, Item, I give and bequeath unto my daughter Aurelia Molins the Wedding Ring wherewith I married her mother, being aggrieved at my very heart that by reason of my poverty I am not able to leave her anything els. Item, I give and bequeath as a poore token of my love to my sonne in law James Molins, a faire black velvett deske embroidered with seede pearles and with a silver and guilt inkhorne and dust box therin, that was Queen Anne's. Item, I give and bequeath unto the right honourable my sigulare and even honoured good Lord William Earle of Pembroke Lord Chamberlaine to the Kings most excellent maiestie and one of his royal counsell of state (if at my death he shall then be living) all my Italian, French and Spanish bookes, as well printed as unprinted, being in number about Three hundred and fortie, namely my new and perfect dictionary, as also my tenne dialogues in Italian and English and my unbound volume of divers written collections and rapsodies, most heartilie entreating his Honorable Lordshippe (as hee once promised mee) to accept of them as a sign and token of my service and affection to his honor and for my sake to place them in his library, either at Wilton or else at Baynards Castle at London, humbly desiring him to give way and favourable assistance that my dictionarie and dialogues may bee printed and the profitt therof accrud unto my wife. Item, I doe likewise give and bequeath unto his noble Lordship the Corinne Stone as a jewell fitt for a Prince which Ferdinando the great Duke of Tuscanie sent as a most precious gift (among divers[Pg 254] others) unto Queen Anne of blessed memory; the use and vertue wherof is written in two pieces of paper, both in Italian and English being in a little box with the Stone, most humbly beseeching his honour (as I right confidently hope and trust hee will in charity doe if neede require) to take my poore and deere wife into his protection and not suffer her to be wrongfully molested by any enemie of myne, and also in her extremity to afforde her his helpe good worde and assistance to my Lord Treasurer, that she may be payed my wages and the arrearages of that which is unpayed or shall bee behind at my death. The rest the residue and remainder of all whatsoever and singular my goods, cattles, chattles, jewells, plate, debts, leases, money, or monie worth, household stuffe, utensills, English bookes, moveables or immoveables, named or not named, and things whatsoever by mee before not given disposed or bequeathed (provided that my debts bee paid and my funerall discharged). I wholly give, fully bequeath, absolutely leave, assigne and unalterably consigne unto my deerly beloved wife Rose Florio, most heartily greiving and ever sorrowing that I cannot give or leave her more in requitall of her tender love, loving care painfull dilligence, and continuall labour, to me and of mee in all my fortunes and many sicknesses; then whome never had husband a more loving wife, painfull nurce, or comfortable consorte, And I doe make institute, ordaine, appoint and name the right Reverend Father in God, Theophilus Feild Lord bishoppe of Landaffe and Mr. Richard Cluet Doctor of Divinity vicar and preacher of the word of God at Fulham, both my much esteemed, dearely beloved and truely honest good frendes, my sole and onely Executors and overseers; And I doe give to each of them for their paines an ould greene velvett deske with a silver inke and dust box in each of them that were sometymes Queene Annes my Soveraigne Mistrisse, entreating both to accept of them as a token of my hearty affection towards them, and to excuse my poverty which disableth mee to requite the trouble,[Pg 255] paines, and courtesie, which I confidently beleeve they will charitably and for Gods sake undergoe in advising directing and helping my poore and deere wife in executing of this my last and unrevocable will and testament, if any should be soe malicious or unnaturall as to crosse or question the same; And I doe utterly revoke and for ever renounce, frustrate, disanull, cancell and make void, all and whatsoever former wills, legacies, bequests, promises, guifts, executors or overseers (if it should happen that anie bee forged or suggested for untill this tyme, I never writt made or finished any but this onely) And I will appoint and ordaine that this and none but this onely written all with mine owne hand, shall stand in full force and vigor for my last and unrevocable will and Testament, and none other nor otherwise. As for the debts that I owe the greatest and onelie is upon an obligatory writing of myne owne hand which my daughter Aurelia Molins with importunity wrested from me of about threescore pound, wheras the truth, and my conscience telleth mee, and soe knoweth her conscience, it is but thirty-four pound or therabouts, But let that passe, since I was soe unheedy, as to make and acknowledge the said writing, I am willing that it bee paid and discharged in this forme and manner, My sonne in lawe (as daughter his wife knoweth full well) hath in his handes as a pawne, a faire gold ring of mine, with thirteene faire table diamonds therein enchased; which cost Queene Anne my gracious Mistrisse seaven and forty pounds starline, and for which I might many tymes have had forty pounds readie money: upon the said ring my sonne in the presence of his wife lent me Tenne pound. I desire him and pray him to take the overplus of the said Ring in parte of payment, as also a leaden Ceasterne which hee hath of myne standing in his yard at his London-house that cost mee at a porte-sale fortie shillings, as also a silver candle cup with a cover worth about forty shillings which I left at his house being sicke there; desiring my sonne and daughter that their whole debt may bee made[Pg 256] up and they satisfied with selling the lease of my house in Shoe lane, and soe accquitt and discharge my poore wife who as yet knoweth nothing of his debt. Moreover I entreat my deare wife that if at my death my servant Artur [blank] shall chance to bee with mee and in my service, that for my sake she give him such poore doubletts, breeches, hattes, and bootes as I shall leave, and therwithall one of my ould cloakes soe it bee not lyned with velvett. In witnesse whereof I the said John Florio to this my last will and Testament (written every sillable with myne owne hande, and with long and mature deliberation digested, contayning foure sheetes of paper, the first of eight and twenty lines, the second of nine and twenty, the third of nyne and twenty and the fourth of six lines) have putt, sett, written and affixed my name and usual seale of my armes. The twentyth day of July in the yeare of our Lord and Savyour Jesus Christ 1625, and in the first yeare of the raigne of our Soveraigne Lord and King (whom God preserve) Charles the First of that name of England, Scotland, France and Ireland King. By mee John Florio being, thankes bee ever given to my most gracious God, in perfect sence and memory.

Proved 1 June 1626 by Rose Florio the relict, the executors named in the Will for certain reasons renouncing execution.


Florio was eighty years of age at his death in 1625. From significant references by Shakespeare, in Henry IV., to Falstaff's age, I have long been of the opinion that Florio was more than forty-five years old in 1598, when the First Part of this play was revised and the Second Part written; yet if the age of fifty-eight, which Florio gives himself in the medallion round his picture in the 1611 edition of his Worlde of Wordes is to be believed, he was only forty-five in 1598. I have now found Anthony Wood's authority for dating his birth in 1545.

In Registrium Universitalus Oxon., vol. ii., by Andrew Clark, I find: "1st May 1581, Magd. Co., John Florio, æt. 36, serviens mei Barnes."

In a copy of Florio's first edition of his Worlde of Wordes in my library, which evidently belonged to his friend William Godolphin, as his name is written in it, there is also written in an old hand, under Florio's name on the title-page, "born 1545."


[Pg 257]

Achilles Shield, 120

Admiral's company, the Lord, 6, 10, 12, 50, 51, 52, 53;
at Dover, 54; 56, 57, 59;
identity between 1585 and 1589, 60; 65;
under Henslowe, 73; 78, 81, 82, 84, 14

Agamemnon, 114

Allen, Giles, 39, 43, 45, 75

Alleyn, Edward, 6, 8, 9, 10, 14, 38, 61, 62, 65, 70;
manager of Strange's men, 77; 82, 85;
as Roscius, 98; 100, 101

Alleyn, John, 8, 62;
servant to the Lord Admiral, 63, 102

Alleyn, Richard, 105

All's Well that Ends Well, 163, 170, 171, 193, 194, 195, 205

Anatomy of Absurdity, 98, 99

Anna, Queen, 222

Antonio, 134

Arden, Mary, 21, 23

Arden, Robert, 21

Arden, the name, 21

Ardens of Parkhill, the, 21-22

Armada, the, 2, 131, 132

Armado, 18, 182, 206

Armin, Robert, 114 n.

Arundell's players, Lord, 44, 48

Ave Cæsar, 99

Avisa, 129

Aylmer, Bishop, 140

Bacon, Sir Francis, 185

Barnes, Barnabe, 127

Barnstaple, 9

Biron, 134

Blacke Bookes Messenger, The, 47 n.

Bodleian Library, 128

Brandes, Georg, 8 n.

Brayne, John, 39, 43, 75

Brown, John, 26

Brown, Ned, 47

Browne, Robert, 8, 62, 65, 102

Browning, Robert, 19

Bryan, George, 29, 55, 60, 83

Burbage, Cuthbert, 44, 45, 75

Burbage, James, 5, 9, 11, 38;
as theatrical manager, 38, 42, 43, 45, 52, 53, 58, 63, 65, 67, 70, 75, 106, 126

Burbage, Richard, 5, 8, 14, 55, 66, 70, 75, 77, 83, 126

Burbie, Cuthbert, 96 n.

Burghley, Lord, 11, 17, 73, 154, 155, 173, 174

Carey, Henry, Lord Hunsdon, 50

Castle, William, parish clerk of Stratford, 68

Cecil-Howard faction, 73

Cecil, Sir Robert, 17, 154, 175, 194, 216

Cecil, Sir William, 157

Censor, Public, 17

Chamberlain's company, the Lord, 10, 12, 13, 14, 38, 42, 52, 57, 59, 84;
leave Henslowe, 86

Chamberlain's musicians, the Lord, 54;
at Coventry, 50, 60

Chambers, E.K., 56

Chandos portrait, the, 110

Chapman, George, 15, 23, 31, 92, 93, 109, 114, 115, 119, 128, 167, 184, 185, 186

Chettle, Henry, 93, 110, 151

Choice of Valentines, The, 128

Chrisoganus, 120

Classical allusions, 79

Cobham, Lord, 215, 217

Comedy of Beauty and Housewifery, A, 49

Comedy of Errors, The, 8, 17, 83, 148, 152, 172

Contention, and True Tragedie, The, 80, 147
[Pg 258]
Cornwallis, Sir William, 221

Coronet for my Mistress Philosophy, A, 124, 130

Court performances, 82

Court records, 13

Coventry, 9

Coventry records, 54

Cowdray House, 37, 165, 166

Cranmer, Archbishop, 157

Crosskeys, the, 51, 53, 55, 70, 72, 73, 77, 81

Curtain Theatre, the 6, 14, 39, 44, 46, 48, 50, 51, 72, 74

Cymbeline, 3

Dame Pintpot, 198

Daniel, Samuel, 159, 162

Davenant, Mistress, 123, 125, 184

Davenant, Sir William, 36, 127

Davies, John, 81, 90-91

Davison, William, 178

De Guiana Carmen Epicum, 116

Dekker, Thomas, 93, 218

Delphrygus, 103, 104

Derby, Countess of, 55

Derby, Earl of, 55, 115, 179

Devereux, Dorothy, 139

Dialogue of Dives, 104

Diary, Henslowe's, 7, 8, 67, 68, 75, 77, 80, 127

Doll Tearsheet, 197

Dulwich College, 99

"Duttons, The Two," 74

Edward I., 78, 80, 81, 101

Edward II., 85, 88, 131

Edward III., 101, 105, 131

Edward VI., 135, 143

Elizabeth, Queen, as Cynthia, 119

English Dramatic Companies, 41 n., 96 n.

Ephemeris Chrisometra, 120

Essaies of Montaigne, 191, 222

Essex, Earl of, 140, 154, 175-78, 216

Essex faction, 73

Euthymia Raptus, 120

Every Man out of his Humour, 108, 220

Faerie Queen, The, 161

Fair Em, 95, 105

Falconbridge, as Sir John Perrot, 133-34

Falstaff, Sir John, 181, 182, 206, 215

Famous Victories of Henry V., 200, 202, 215

Farewell to Folly, 95, 168

Feis, Jacob, 74

Field, Theophilus, Bishop of Llandaff, 160

First Fruites, 92, 196

Fleay, F.G., 66, 74, 80, 95, 96, 107

Fleetwood, Recorder, as an enemy of the players, 11, 44, 46;
as Burghley's gossip, 49

Florio, John, 15;
as Falstaff's original, 18; 91, 92, 108;
as Landulpho, 122, 123; 125, 157-60, 183-91;
as Parolles, 171, 193, 201;
signs as "Resolute," 221

Fluellen, 182, 191

Four Plays in One, 87

Froude, James Anthony, 1, 16

Gardiner, S.R., 1, 16

Golding, Arthur, 118

Gray's Inn, 156, 172

Greene, Robert, 5, 12, 13, 14, 15, 30, 35, 69, 80, 85, 88, 92, 94;
as Roberto, 103; 106, 110, 117, 130, 151, 169

Greg, W.W., 101 n.

Groatsworth of Wit, A, 5, 15, 102, 110, 117, 150

Grooms of the Privy Chamber, 58

Halliwell-Phillipps, J.O., 43, 45, 50, 60

Hall's Chronicles, 141

Halpin, Rev. J.H., 15, 159, 161

Hamlet, 4, 81, 86, 105, 107, 198

Harriot, Thomas, 115, 120

Hart, Joan, 36

Hart, John, Lord Mayor of London, 72

Harvey, Gabriel, 92

Hatton, Sir Christopher, 138-39, 140

Heneage, Sir Thomas, 36;
as Lafeu, 171, 189

Henry IV., 80, 198

Henry IV., Part I., 199, 200, 202, 203, 204

Henry IV., Part II., 32, 197, 199, 203

Henry V., 80, 121

Henry VI., Part I., 7, 14, 77, 78, 131, 147

Henry VI., Part III., 7, 87, 88

Henry VIII., 134, 135
[Pg 259]
Henslowe, Philip, 6, 8, 10, 11, 38, 59, 61, 69, 70, 82

Heralds, The College of, 32, 90, 92

Highway to Heaven, The, 104

Histriomastix, 93, 108, 114, 116, 117, 118, 119, 167

Holinshed's Chronicles, 141

Honour of the Garter, 92, 113, 115, 117

Howard of Effingham's company, Lord Charles, at Ipswich, 1591, 60

Howe's Additions to Stowe's Chronicles, 58

"H.S.," 217-18, 219

Hunsdon, Lord, 9, 10, 43, 46, 50

Hunsdon's company, Lord, 42, 45, 48;
at Ludlow, 49, 53, 55;
disappear from records, 55

Hyde, John, 43, 45

Hymns to the Shadow of Night, 93, 115, 116, 118, 124, 128, 186

Iliad, Homer's, 197

Intonsi Catones, 125, 126, 219

Jacques, 134

Jacquespierre, 21

"J.F.," 217-18, 219

James I., 186, 221

Jaquenetta, 206

Jeffes, Humphrey, 87, 147

Jones, Richard, 8, 62, 65, 102

Jonson, Ben, 90, 93, 108, 109, 147, 186, 220

Keats, John, 19, 31

Kempe, William, 29, 55, 60, 83, 126

Kildare, Countess of, 166

Kinde Heartes Dreame, 150, 152

King John, 8, 17, 34, 80, 83, 131, 132, 133, 139, 146, 152, 172

King Lear, 3

King of the Fairies, The, 103, 104

Kyd, Thomas, 107, 117, 131

"Lanam and his fellowes," 51

Laneham, John, 43, 51, 58

Langley, William, 13

Leases, Elizabethan, 43

Lee, Sir Sidney, 6 n., 46 n.

Leicester's company, Earl of, 5, 9, 13;
at Stratford, 29, 43, 45; 52;
at Dover, 54;
disappear from records, 55, 55, 57, 58, 59, 66, 67, 84

Leicester, Earl of; death, 29; 49, 154, 173-75

Leicester's musicians, Earl of, 9, 54

Leicester Records, City of, 8

Life of Jack Wilton, 128

Lodge, Thomas, 114 n.

Loftus, Archbishop, 138

Love's Labours Lost, 8, 83, 116, 119, 121, 152, 166, 168, 170, 197, 206

Love's Labour's Won, 8, 83, 123, 162, 170, 171

Lucrece, 13, 82;
dedication, 128, 153

Lucy, Sir Thomas, alleged deer preserves, 32

Malvolio, 182

Manners, Roger, 156, 179

Markham, Gervase, 128

Marlowe, Christopher, 12, 30, 80, 85, 88;
as "Merlin," 95;
as "the cobbler," 101, 107, 131

Marston, John, 93, 109, 119, 185, 186

Martin Marprelate Controversy, 72

Martin's Month's Mind, 51

Mary, Queen, 135-36

Mary, Queen of Scots, 178

Master of the Revels' company, the, 64

Measure for Measure, 198

Menalcas, 161

Menaphon, Greene's, 67, 98, 102, 107, 118

Merchant of Venice, The, 121

Meres, Francis, 31, 193, 199

Merry Wives of Windsor, 171

Metamorphosis of Ajax, 51

Midsummer Night's Dream, A, 8, 83, 121, 152, 168

Miles, Robert, 76

Minto, Prof. William, 126

"Mirabella," 161, 162

Montague, Lady, 169-70

Montague, Viscount, 155, 169-70

Moral of Man's Wit, 104

Morgann, Maurice, 181, 202

Murray, John Tucker, 9 n., 41 n.

Nashe, Thomas, 7, 12, 14, 67, 69, 78, 80, 92, 94, 98, 100, 102, 104, 107, 108, 117, 128, 130, 169

Never too Late to Mend, 98, 109

News Out of Purgatory, 51

Nichol's Progresses, 168-69

Nightwork, Jane, 213

Nine Worthies, The, 195, 197
[Pg 260]
Northumberland, Earl of, 115

Nottingham's company, Lord, 127

Oldcastle, Sir John, 200, 215, 217

O'Roughan, Denis, 138

Outlines for the Life of Shakespeare, 45

Ovid's Banquet of Sense, 120, 124, 130

Ovid's Elegies, 118

Oxford, Earl of, 190

Palladis Tamia,199

Parolles, 18, 171, 206

Peckham, Edward, 75

Peele, George, 12, 31, 78, 79, 80, 81, 92, 98;
as Tully, 98, 99; 101, 113, 117, 131

Pembroke, Earl of, 136, 148

Pembroke's company, Earl of, 7, 12, 13, 14, 57, 71, 75, 76, 84, 85;
pawn their apparel, 86;
plays, 86, 107, 113

Penelope's Web, 106

Perrot, Sir John, 134-39;
recalled from Ireland, 138;
death of, 139

Perrot, Sir Thomas, 139

Phillip II. of Spain, 138, 139

Pierce Penniless, 51

Pipe Rolls, the, 56, 73

Plague, the, 85

Planetomachia, 106

Pope, Thomas, 29, 55, 60, 83

Privy Council, Acts of the, 56, 73

Prodigal Child, The, 120, 123

Prodigal Son, The, 123

Puritanism, 132

Queen's company, Old Plays of the, 14, 74

Queen's company, the, 6, 11, 43, 46, 48, 50, 51, 53, 55, 59, 75, 84, 131,146, 147

Queen's progress to Cowdray and Tichfield, the, 37, 119, 165

Queen's tumblers, the, 56 n.

Quickly, Mistress, 200, 204

Raleigh, Sir Walter, 115, 154, 175, 185

Richard II., 8, 80, 83, 88, 131, 146

Richard III., 8, 80, 83

Romeo and Juliet, 152

"Rosalinde," 160, 161, 162

Roscius, 98, 102

Rose, Edward, 142

Rose Theatre, the, 6, 10, 11, 51, 59, 61, 69, 70, 76, 81, 146

Rowe, Nicholas, 67, 127, 215, 216

Roydon, Matthew, 15, 31, 93, 109, 114 n., 124, 125, 167, 168, 184, 200, 218

Saexberht, 20

Saunder, Nicholas, 158

Scapula, 24

Schlegel, 198

School of Shakespeare, 95

Second Fruites, 123, 164, 196, 203, 205, 206;
extracts from, 207-14

Seven Deadly Sins, The, 147

Shakespeare families, 19;
the name, 19

Shakespeare, Hamnet, 26

Shakespeare, John, 21, 25;
applies for grant of arms, 32

Shakespeare, Judith, 26

Shakespeare, Richard, of Snitterfield, 21

Shakespeare, William;
as Burbage servitor, 13;
brothers and sisters of, 19;
Norman origin, 19;
his mother, 22;
as Johannes factotum, 22;
boyhood, 24;
marriage, 26;
leaves Stratford, 28;
alleged poaching adventure, 30;
return to Stratford in 1597, 30;
grant of arms, 30;
"Shakespeare's boys," 35;
"rude groome," 35;
a bonded servitor, 67;
early training with Lord Hunsdon's and the Lord Admiral's companies, 68;
in kingly parts, 81;
co-operates with Marlowe, 88;
leader of Pembroke's company, 88;
Groom of the Privy Chamber, 91;
as an "idiot art-master," 105;
alluded to as a serving man, 108;
as Mullidor in Never too Late, 109;
Chandos portrait of, 110;
rejoins Chamberlain's company, 126;
indicated as "W.S.," an "old actor," 129;
distrust of Florio, 187

Shallow, Justice, 213

Shaxper, 19

Sheffield's company, Lord, 62, 63

Shepheards Calendar, The, 159, 160, 163

Shepherd's Slumber, The, 168

Sidley, Ralph, 109

Sidney, Lady, 140, 178

Sidney, Sir Robert, 216

Simpson, Richard, 74, 95, 114, 116
[Pg 261]
Sinkler, John, 87, 147

Smith, Mr. J.M., 36

Smithe, Humprey, 47

Sonnets, The, 17, 82

Southampton, Countess of, 171, 189

Southampton, Earl of, 13, 17, 18, 36, 74, 91;
as Mavortius, 121; 124, 126;
bounty to Shakespeare, 127; 153, 156, 164, 167, 172;
early relations with Essex, 176;
as Bertram, 189; 194, 216

Spencer, Gabriel, 86, 87;
death of, 90; 147

Spenser, Edmund, 30, 162

Spicer, Rose, 159-60

Stanhope, Sir Thomas, 155

Stanley, Sir William, 138

Star Chamber, the, 45

Stopes, Mrs. C.C., 39 n., 76

Strange, Lord, 55

Strange's company, Lord, 6, 9, 11, 12, 52, 53, 57, 59, 74, 82, 83, 95, 107, 126, 147

Strange's tumblers, Lord, 6, 55, 56, 59, 67, 84

Stratford Free Grammar School, 23

Stratford-on-Avon, 5, 25

Sussex's company, Earl of, 12, 14, 57;
disrupted, 86-87

Swan Theatre, the, 13

"Symons and his fellowes," 56

Talbot Scenes, 7, 14, 78, 80

Taming of a Shrew, The, 86, 102, 105, 107

Tarleton, Richard, 43, 50, 96

Tears of Peace, The, 116, 120, 121

Tempest, The, 3

"Temple Garden" Scene, the, 79

Theatre, the, 6, 9, 11, 36, 39, 44, 46, 48, 50, 51, 52, 53, 72, 75, 77, 81, 106

Three Ladies of London, The, 95

Three Lords and Three Ladies, The, 95

Tichfield House, Queen's progress to, 37, 165

Tilney, Edmund, Master of the Revels, 43, 59, 96

Timon of Athens, 3

Titus Andronicus, 12, 14, 86

Titus and Vespasian, 12

Troilus and Cressida, 114, 120, 195, 197

Troublesome Raigne of King John, The, 132, 140, 143, 146

True Tragedie of the Duke of York, The, 7, 85, 87, 88, 113, 147

Twelfth Night, 121

Twelve Labours of Hercules, The, 103

Two Gentlemen of Verona, The, 8, 83, 152

Tyburn "T," 90

Valdracko, 106

Venus and Adonis, 13, 82, 114, 118, 119, 127, 128, 151, 152, 153, 180

Venus' Tragedy, 106

Vere, Lady Elizabeth, 155, 179

Vernon, Elizabeth, 177, 180, 194, 198

Volumnia, a reflection of Shakespeare's mother, 23

Wallop, Sir Henry, 138

Walsingham, Sir Francis, 178

War of the Theatres, the, 15

Wars of the Roses, 79

Williams, Sir Roger, as Fluellen, 191, 192

Willobie his Avisa, 93, 125, 129, 184, 186, 187

Wilson, Robert, 43, 58, 95, 96, 98

Winter's Tale, A, 3

Wood, Anthony, 157

Woodward, Joan, 9

Worcester, Earl of, 61, 63, 64

Worcester's company, Earl of, 8, 9, 10, 61, 62;
in trouble at Ipswich and Leicester, 63

Worlde of Wordes, A, 15, 94, 108, 158, 185, 188, 196, 217

Wriothesley, Henry. See Earl of Southampton

Wriothesley, Thomas, Earl of Southampton, 153

Yorke, Edmund, Jesuit, 180


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