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third parts as vamped, imperfect, and blundering versions of the poet's own original dramas.

The Groatsworth of Wit was published very soon after the unfortunate writer's decease, that is to say, it appeared towards the end of September, 1592; and it is clear that one portion of it had been composed under the influence of a profound jealousy of Shakespeare. Greene is addressing his fellow-dramatists, and speaking of the actors of their plays, thus introduces his satirical observations on the author of the Third Part of Henry the Sixth, with a travesty of the line above mentioned,—“trust them not, for there is an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that, with his Tygers heart wrapt in a Players hide, supposes he is as well able to bumbast out a blanke verse as the best of you; and being an absolute Johannes factotum, is, in his owne conceit, the onely Shake-scene in a countrie." It was natural that these impertinent remarks should have annoyed the object of them, and that they were so far effective may be gathered from an interesting statement made by the editor, Henry Chettle, in a work of his own, entitled Kind-Heart's Dream, that he published a few weeks afterward, in which he specially regrets that the attack had proved offensive to Shakespeare, whom, he observes,-"at that time I did not so much spare as since I wish I had, for that, as I have moderated the heate of living writers, and might have usde my owne discretion, especially in such a case, the author beeing dead, that I did not I am as sory as if the originall fault had beene my fault, because myselfe have seene his demeanor: 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 writting, that aprooves his art." Apologies of this kind are so apt to be overstrained that we can hardly gather more from the present one than the respectable position Shakespeare held as a writer and actor, and that Chettle, having made his acquaintance, was desirous of keeping friends with one who was beginning to be appreciated by the higher classes of society. The annoyance, however, occasioned by Greene's posthumous criticism was soon forgotten by the poet amid the triumphs of his subsequent career.

Removing now the scene of our fragmentary history from the metropolis to the country, we find, at the time of Greene's lampoonry, the poet's father busily engaged with his counters in appraising the goods of one Henry Field, a tanner of Stratford-on-Avon, whose inventory, attached to his will, was taken in August, 1592. This tradesman's son, Richard, who was apprenticed to a printer in London in the year 1579, took up his freedom in 1587, and soon afterwards commenced business on his own account, an elegant copy of Ovid's Metamorphoses, 1589, being among the numerous works that issued from his press. It is most likely, indeed all but certain, that Shakespeare participated in his father's acquaintance with the printer's relatives, and at all events there was the provincial tie, so specially dear to Englishmen when at a distance from the town of their birth, between the poet and Richard Field. When, therefore, the latter is discovered, early in the year 1593, engaged in the production of Venus and Adonis, it is only reasonable to infer that the author had a control over the typographical arrangements. The purity of the text and the nature of the dedication may be thought to strengthen this opinion, and although poems

were not then generally introduced to the public in the same glowing terms usually accorded to dramatic pieces, the singularly brief and anonymous title-page does not bear the appearance of a publisher's handywork. Field, however, registered the copyright to himself on April 18, and the work was offered for sale, at the White Greyhound in St. Paul's Churchyard, by his friend, John Harrison, the publisher of the first three editions, and who next year became the owner both of the Venus and Lucrece. It may be well to record that the publication had what was probably the vicarious sanction of no less an individual than the Archbishop of Canterbury, who, although no Puritan, would scarcely have considered its exquisite versification sufficient to atone for its voluptuous character.

The poem of Venus and Adonis, which was favorably received and long continued to be the most popular book of the kind, is termed by the author "the first heir of my invention." If these words are to be literally interpreted, it must have been written in or before the year 1592; but Shakespeare may be referring only to works of a strictly poetical character, which were then held in far higher estimation than dramatic compositions. However that may be, the oft-repeated belief that Venus and Adonis was a production of his younger days at Stratford-on-Avon can hardly be sustained. It is extremely improbable that an epic, so highly finished and so completely devoid of patois, could have been produced under the circumstances of his then domestic surroundings, while, moreover, the notion is opposed to the best and earliest traditional opinions. It is also to be observed that there is nothing in the dedication in favor of such a conjecture, although the fact, had it been one, would have formed a ready and natural defense

against the writer's obvious timidity. The work was inscribed, apparently without permission, to Lord Southampton, a young nobleman then only in his twentieth year, who about this time had commenced to exhibit a special disposition to encourage the rising authors of the metropolis.

Literature, in Shakespeare's time, was nearly the only passport of the lower and middle class to the countenance and friendship of the great. It was no wonder that the poet, in days when interest was all but omnipotent, should have wished to secure the advantages that could hardly fail to be derived from a special association with an individual in the favored position, and with the exceptionally generous character, of Lord Southampton. Wealthy, accomplished and romantic, with a temperament that could listen to a metrical narrative of the follies of Venus without yielding to hysterics, the young nobleman was presumably the most eligible dedicatee that Shakespeare could have desired for the introduction of his first poem to the literary world. It is evident, however, that, when he was penning the inscription to Venus and Adonis, whatever presentiment he may have entertained on the subject, he was by no means sure that his lordship would give a friendly reception to, much less so that he would be gratified by, the intended compliment. But all doubts upon these points were speedily removed, and little more than a twelvemonth elapsed before the poet is found warmly attached to Lord Southampton, and eagerly taking the opportunity, in his second address, of tendering his gratitude for favors conferred in the interval.

In the winter season of 1593-4, Shakespeare's earliest tragedy, which was, unfortunately, based on a repulsive tale, was brought out by the Earl of Sussex's actors, who

were then performing, after a tour in the provinces, at one of the Surrey theaters. They were either hired by, or playing under some financial arrangement with, Henslowe, who, after the representation of a number of revivals, ventured upon the production of a drama on the story of Titus Andronicus, the only new play introduced during the season. This tragedy, having been successfully produced before a large audience on January 23, 1594, was shortly afterward entered on the books of the Stationers' Company and published by Danter. It was also performed, almost if not quite simultaneously, by the servants of the Earls of Derby and Pembroke. Thus it appears that Shakespeare, up to this period, had written all his dramas for Henslowe, and that they were acted, under the sanction of that manager, by the various companies performing from 1592 to 1594 at the Rose Theater and Newington Butts. The acting copies of Titus Andronicus and the three parts of Henry the Sixth must of course have been afterwards transferred by Henslowe to the Lord Chamberlain's company.

Hideous and repulsive as the story of Tamora and the Andronici is now considered, it was anything but repugnant to the taste of the general public in Henslowe's day. Neither was it regarded as out of the pale of the legitimate drama by the most cultivated, otherwise so able a scholar and critic as Meres would hardly, several years after the appearance of Titus Andronicus, have inserted its title among those of the noteworthy tragedies of Shakespeare. The audiences of Elizabeth's time reveled in the very crudity of the horrible, so much so that nearly every kind of bodily torture and mutilation, or even more revolting incidents, formed part of the stock business of the


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