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composed before “Richard III.," and to either or both of them the lines,
“ Whose Muse, full of high thought's invention,
Doth, like himself, heroically sound," will abundantly apply. The difference in the character of Spenser's tributes to Shakespeare in 1591 and 1594 was occasioned by the difference in the character of his productions
The dramas written by Shakespeare up to 1594. New doon
ments relating to his father, under the anthority of Sir Thomas Lucy, Sir Fulk Greville, &c. Recusants in Stratford-upon-Avon. John Shakespeare employed to value the goods of ll. Field. Publication of " Venus and Adonis" during the plagne in 1593. Dedication of it, and of " Lucrece," 1594, to the Earl of Southampton. Bounty of the Earl to Shakespeare, and coincidence between the date of the gift and the building of the Globe theatre on the •Bankside. Probability of the story that Lord Southamp
ton presented Shakespeare with 10001. HAVING arrived at the year 1594, we may take this oppor tunity of stating which of Shakespeare's extant works, in our opinion, had by that date been produced. We have already mentioned the three parts of " Henry VI.," “ Titus Andronicus," “ The Comedy of Errors,” « The Two Gentlemen of Verona," and " Love's Labour's Lost," as in being in 1591 ; and in the interval between 1591 and 1594, we apprehend, he had added to them “ Richard II.” and “ Richard III.” Of these, the four last were entirely the work of our great dramatist : in the others he more or less availed himself of previous dramas, or possibly, of the assistance of contemporaries.
We must now return to Stratford-upon-Avon, in order to advert to a very different subject.
A document has been recently discovered in the State Paper Office, which is highly interesting with respect to the religious tenets, or worldly circumstances, of Shakespeare's father in 1692?. Sir Thomas Lucy, Sir Fulk Greville, Sir Henry Gooderé, Sir John Harrington, and four others, having been appointed commissioners to make inquiries “ touching all such persons ” as were "jesuits, semi
1 We have to express our best thanks to Mr. Lemon for directing our attention to this inanuscript, and for supplying us with an analysis of its contents.
nary priests, fugitives, or recusantes,” in the county of Warwick, sent to the Privy Council what they call their “second certificate," on the 25th Sept. 1592? It is divided into different heads, according to the respeetive hundreds, parishes, &c., and each page is signed by them. One of these divisions applies to Stratford-upon-Avon, and the return of names there is thus introduced : " The names of all sutch Recusantes as have bene hearto.
fore presented for not cominge monethlie to the church, according to her Majesties lawes, and yet are thought to forbeare the church for debt, and for feare of processe, or for some other worse faultes, or for age,
sicknes, or impotencie of bodie.” The names which are appended to this introduction are the following :" Mr. John Wheeler,
Thomas James, alias Gyles, and opposite to them, separated by a bracket, we read these words :-
“ It is sayd, that these last nine coome not to churche for feare of processe of debte."
Here we find the name of “ Mr. John Shakespeare ” either as a recusant, or as “forbearing the Church," on account of the fear of process for debt, or on account of “ age, sickness, or impotency of body," mentioned in the introduction to the document. The question is, to which cause we are to attribute his absence; and with regard to process for debt, We are to recollect that it could not be served on Sunday, so that apprehension of that kind need not have kept him away from church on the Sabbath. Neither was it likely that his son, who was at this date profitably employed in London as an actor and author, and who three years before was a sharer in the Blackfriars theatre, would have allowed his father to continue so distressed for money, as not to be able to attend the usual place of divine worship. There
1 The first certificate has not been found in the State Paper Office, after the most diligent search.
2 Hence we see that Shakespeare took two names in his "Henry V." from persons who bore them in his native town. Awdrey was also a female appellation known in Stratford, as appears elsewhere in the same document.
? By an account of rents received by Thomas Rogers, Chamberlain of Stratford, in 1589, it appears that "John Shakespeare " occupied a house in Bridge-street, at an annual rent of twelve shillings,
fore, although John Shakespeare was certainly in great pecuniary difficulties at the time his son William quitted Stratford, we altogether reject the notion that that son had permitted his father to live in comparative want, while he himself possessed more than competence.
“ Age, sickness, and impotency of body,” may indeed have kept John Shakespeare from church, but upon this point we have no information beyond the fact, that if he were born, as Malone supposes, in 1530, he was at this date only sixty-two.
With regard to his religious opinions, it is certain that after he became alderman of Stratford, on 4th July 1565, he must have taken the usual oath required from all protestants; but, according to the records of the borough, it was not administered to him until the 12th September following his election. This trifling circumstance perhaps hardly deserves notice, as it may have been usual to choose the corporate officers at one court, and to swear them in at the next. So far John Shakespeare may have conformed to the requirements of the law, but it is still possible that he may not have adopted all the new protestant tenets, or that having adopted them, like various other conscientious men, he saw reason afterwards to return to the faith he had abandoned. We have no evidence on this point as regards him ; but we have evidence, as regards a person of the name of Thomas Greene, (who, although it seems very unlikely, may have been the same man who was an actor in the company to which Shakespeare belonged, and who was a co-sharer in the Blackfriars Theatre, in 1589) who is described in the certificate of the commissioners as then of a different parish, and who, it is added, had confessed that he had been “reconciled to the Romish religion.” The memorandum is in these terms :
" It is here to be remembred that one Thomas Greene, of this pärisshe, heretofore presented and indicted for a recusante, hath confessed to Mr. Pobt. Burgoyn, one of the commissioners for this service, that an ould
Preest reconciled him to the Romishe religion, while he was prisoner in Worcester goale. This Greene is not everie day to be founde.”
On the same authority we learn that the wife of Thomas Greene was “a most wilful recusant;" and although we are nine shillings of which had been paid. Perhaps (as Malone thought) this was John Shakespeare, the shoemaker; because the father of the poet, having been bailiff and head-alderman, was usually styled Mr. John Shakespeare, as we have before remarked. However, it is a coincidence to be noted, that the name of John Shakespeare immediately follows that of Henry Fylde or Field, whose goods Mr. John Shakespeare was subsequently employed to value : they were therefore in all probability neighbours
by no means warranted in forming even an opinion ou the question, whether Mary Shakespeare adhered to the ancier faith, it is indisputable, if we may rely upon the representation of the commissioners, that some of her family continued Roman Catholics. In the document under consideration it is stated, that Mrs. Mary Arden and her servant John Browne had been presented to the commissioners as recusants, and that they had been so prior to the date of the former return by the same official persons.
In considering the subject of the faith of our poet's father, we ought to put entirely out of view the paper upon which Dr. Drake lays some stresse; we mean the sort of religious will, or confession of faith, supposed to have been found, about the year 1770, concealed in the tiling of the house John Shakespeare is conjectured to have inhabited. It was printed by Malone in 1790, but it obviously merits no attention, and there are many reasons for believing it to be spurious. Malone once looked upon it as authentic, but he corrected his judgment respecting it afterwards.
Upon the new matter we have here been able to produce, we shall leave the reader to draw his own conclusion, and to decide for himself whether John Shakespeare forbore church in 1592, because he was in fear of arrest, because he was “ aged, sick, and impotent of body," or because he did not accord in the doctrines of the protestant faith.
We ought not, however, to omit to add, that if John Shakespeare were infirm in 1592, or if he were harassed and threatened by creditors, neither the one circumstance nor the other prevented him from being employed in Au. gust 1592 (in what particular capacity, or for what precise purpose is not stated) to assist * Thomas Trussell, gentle man,” and “ Richard Sponer and others,” in taking an inventory of the goods and chattels of Henry Feelde of Stratford, tanner, after his decease. A. contemporary copy of the iginal document has recently been placed in the hands of the Shakespeare Society for publication, but the fact, and not the details, is all that seems of importance here”.
1 "Shakspeare and his Times," vol. i. p. 8. Dr. Drake seems to be of the opinion that John Shakespeare may have refrained from attending the corporation l.alls previous to 1586, on account of his religious opinions.
2 It has the following title :
" A true and perfect Inventory of the Goodes and Cattells, which were the Goodes and Cattells of Henry Feelde, late of Stretford-upponAvon in the County of Warwyke, tanner, now decessed, beynge in Stretford aforesayd, the 21st daye of Auguste, Anno Domini 1592. By Thomas Trussell, Gentleman, Mr. John Shaksper, Richard Sponer and others."
The items of the inventory consist of nothing but an enumeration of old bedsteads, painted cloths, andirons, &c. of no curiosity and of
In the heading of the paper our poet's father is called “Mr. John Shakespeare," and at the end we find his name as "John Shakespeare senior :" this appears to be the only instance in which the addition of “ senior” was made, and the object of it might be to distinguish him more effectually from John Shakespeare, the shoemaker in Stratford, with whom, of old perhaps, as in modern times, he was now and then confounded. The fact itself may be material in deciding whether John Shakespeare, at the age of sixty-two, was, or was not so “ aged, sick, or impotent of body" as to be unable to attend protestant divine worship. It certainly does not seem likely that he would have been selected for the performance of such a duty, however trifling, if he had been so apprehensive of arrest as not to be able to leave his dwelling, or if he had been very infirm from sickness or
Whether he were, or were not a member of the protestant reformed Church, it is not be disputed that his children, all of whom were born between 1558 and 1580, were baptized at the ordinary and established place of worship in the parish. That his son William was educated, lived, and died a protestant we have no doubt'.
We have already stated our distinct and deliberate opinion that “ Venus and Adonis” was written before its author left his home in Warwickshire. He kept it by him for some little value. It is to be observed that Thomas Trussel was an attorney of Stratford, and it seems likely that the valuation was made in relation to Field's will. The whole sum at which the goods were estimated was £14. 14s. Od., and the total, with the names of the persons making the appraisement, is thus stated at the end of the ac
* Some totall- £14. 14s. Od.
* Nearly all the passages in his works, of a religious or doctrinal character, have been brought into one view by Sir Frederick B. Watson, K. C. H., in a very elegant volume, printed in 1843, for the benefit of the theatrical funds of our two great theatres. The object of the very zealous and amiable compiler was to counteract a notion, formerly prevailing, that William Shakespeare was a Roman Catholic, and he has done so very effectually, although we do not find among his extracts one which seems to us of great value upon this question : it forms part of the prophecy of Cranmer, at the christening of Queen Elizabeth in * Henry VIII." act v. sc. 4. It consists of but five expressive words, which we think clearly refer to the completion of the Reformation under our maiden queen.
" In her days