« PreviousContinue »
thappurtenaunces, wherein one John Robinson dwelleth, scituat, lyeing, and being in the Blackfriers in London nere the Wardrobe; and all my other landes, tenementes, and hereditamentes whatsoever : To have and to hold all and singuler the saied premisses, with their appurtenaunces, unto the saied Susanna Hall, for and during the terme of her naturall lief; and after her deceas, to the first sonne of her bcdie lawfullie yssueinge, and to the heires males of the bodie of the said first sonne lawfullie yssueing; and for defalt of such issue, to the second sonne of her bodie lawfullie issueinge and to the heires males of the bodie of the saied second sonne lawfullie yssueinge; and for defalt of such heires, to the third sonne of the bodie of the saied Susanna lawfullie yssueing, and to the heires males of the bodie of the saied third sonne lawfullie yssueing; and for defalt of such issue, the same soe to be and remaine to the fourin, fyfth, sixte, and seaventh sonnes of her bodie lawfullie issueing, one after another, and to the heires males of the bodies of the saied fourth, fifth, sixte, and seaventh sonnes lawfullie yssueing, in such manner as yt ys before lymitted to be and remaine to the first, second, and third sonns of her bodie, and to theire heires males; and for defalt of such issue, the said premisses to be and remaine to my sayed neece Hall, and the heires males of her bodie lawfullie yssueing; and for defalt of such issue, to my daughter Judith, and the heires males of her bodie lawfullie issucinge; and for defalt of such issue, to the right heires of me the saied William Shackspeare for ever. Item, I gyve unto my wief my second best bed, with the furniture. Item, I gyve and bequeath to my saied daughter Judith my broad silver gilt bole. All the rest of my goodes, chattel, leases, plate, jewels, and houshold stuffe whatsoever, after my dettes and legacies paieil, and my funerall expences discharged, I give, devise, and bequeath to my sonne-in-lawe, John Hall, gent., and my daughter Susanna his wief, whom I ordaine and make executours of this my last will and testament. And I doe mtreat and appoint the saied Thomas Russell, esquier, and Frauncis Collins, gent., to be overseers hereof, and doe revoke all former wills, and publishe this to be my last will and le stament. In witness whereof I have hereunto put my hand, the daie and yeare first above written.
By me WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE. Witnes to the publishing hereof,
Fra. Collyns, Probatum coram Magistro WilJulyus Shawe, lielmo Byrde, Legum Doctore CoJohn Robinson, miss, &c. crii.do die mensis Junii, Hamnet Sadler, Anno Domini 1616, juramento JoRobert Whattcott, hannis Hall, unius executorum, &-c.,
cui de bene &c. juret. reservat. potestate &c. Susanne Hall, alteri erecutorum &c. cum venerit, &c. petitur (Ino. ex.)
AN HISTORICAL SKETCH
ENGLISH DRAMA BEFORE SHAKESPEARE.
THY ENGLISH DRAMA, as we have it in Shakespeare, was the slow growth of several centuries. Nor is it clearly traceable to any foreign source: it appears to have been an original and independent growth, the native and free product of the soil ; not a mere revival, or reproduction, or continuation of what had existed somewhere else. This position will be found very material when we approach the subject of structure and form; for it evidently infers that the Drama in question is not amenable to any ancient or foreign jurisdiction ; that it stands on independent ground, has a ife and spirit of its own, is to be viewed as a thing by itself, and judged according to the peculiar laws under which it grew and took its shape. That is, it had just as good a right to differ from any other Drama, as any other had, from it.
The ancient Drama, that which grew to perfection, and, so far as is known, had its origin, in Greece, is universally styled the Classic Drama. By what torm to distinguish the modern Drama of Europe, writers are not fully agreed Within a comparatively recent period, it has received from
high authorities the title of the Romantic Draina. A much more appropriate title, as it seems to us, suggested by its Gothic original, and used by earlier and perhaps equally good authorities, is that of the Gothic Drama. Such, accordingly, is the term by which we shall distinguish it in these pages. The fitness of the name, it is thought, will be seen at once from the fact that the thing was an indigenous and self-determined outgrowth from the Gothic mind under Christian culture. Of course, the term naturally carries the idea, that the Drama in question stands on much the same ground relatively to the Classic Drama, as is commonly recognised in the case of Gothic and Classic architecture. We can thus the better realize that each Drama forms a distinct species by itself, so that any argument or criticism urged from the rules of the ancient against the modern is wholly impertinent.
The Gothic Drama, as it fashioned itself in different na tions of modern Europe, especially in England and Spain, where it grew up and reached perfection simultaneously and independently, has certain not inconsiderable varieties. Upon the reason and nature of the variations we cannot enlarge: suffice it to say, that they do not reach beyond mere points of detail; so that their effect is to approve all the more forcibly the strength of the common principles which underlie and support them. These principles cover the whole ground of difference from the Classic Drama. The several varieties, therefore, of the Gothic Drama may be justly regarded as bearing concurrent testimony to a common right of freedom from the jurisdiction of ancient rules.
Of the origin and progress of the Drama in England our limits will permit only a brief sketch, not more than enough, perhaps not enough, to give a general idea on the subject. Ample materials for the work are furnished to our hand in Warton's History of English Poetry and Collier's Annals of the Stage, so that the only merit or demerit we can claim is in so selecting and condensing the matter as may best agree with our judgment and our space.
In Eugland, as in the other Christian nations where it can by regarded 28 at all original, the Drama was of ecclesiastical origin, and for a long time was used only as a means of diffusing among the people a knowledge of the leading facts and doctrines of Christianity as then understood and received. Of course, therefore, it was in substance and character religious, or meant to be so, and had the Clergy for its authors and founders. Nevertheless, we cannot admit the justice of Coleridge's remark on the subject : “ The Drama," says he, “recommenced in England, as it first began in Greece, in religion. The people were unable to read, – the Priesthood were unwilling that they should read ; and yet their own interest compelled them not to leave the people wholly ignorant of the great events of sacred history. They did that, therefore, by scenic representations, which in after ages it has been attempted to do in Roman Catholic countries by pictures."
Surely, it is of consequence to bear in mind that at that time “the people" had never been able to read : printing had not been heard of in Europe; books were with great difficulty multiplied, and could not be had but at great expense ; so that it was impossible “the people” should be able to read; and while there was a simple impossibility in the way, it is not necessary to impute an unwillingness. Nor does there seem to be any good reason for supposing that the Priesthood, in their simplicity of faith, were then at all apprehensive or aware of any danger in the people being able to read. Probably they worked, as honest men, with the best means they could devise : they endeavoured to clothe the most needful of all instruction in such forms, to mould it up with such arts of recreation and pleasure, as might render it interesting and attractive to the popular mind. In all which they seem to have merited any thing but an impeachment of their motives. However, what seems best worth the noting here is, the large share which those early Iramatic representations had in shaping the culture of