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to understand something of what would naturally be said and done in the home and at the fireside of an English magistrate, and to take more or less interest in the duties, the hospitalities, and perhaps the gayeties, incident to the headship of the borough. It would seem that the Poet came honestly by his inclination towards the drama. During his term of office, John Shakespeare is found acting in his public capacity as a patron of the stage. The chamberlain's accounts for that year show at one time 98. “ paid to the Queen's players,” and at another time 12d. “ to the Earl of Worcester's players ;” and these are the earliest notices we have of theatrical performances in that ancient town. What particular course the bailiff and the players took on these occasions, is not known; but R. Willis, who was born the same year as our Poet, gives, in his Mount Tabor, 1639, the following curious reminiscence:
“ UPON A STAGE-PLAY WHICH I SAW WHEN I WAS A
CHILD. “ In the city of Gloucester the manner is, (as I think it is in other like corporations,) that when players of interludes come to town, they first attend the Mayor, to inform him what nobleman's servants they are, and so to get licence for their public playing; and if the mayor like the actors, or would show respect to their lord and master, he appoints them to play their first play before himself and the aldermen and common council of the city; and that is called the mayor's play, where every one that will comes without money, the mayor giving the players a reward as he thinks fit, to show respect unto them. At such a play my father took me with him, and made me stand between his legs, as he sat upon one of the benches, where we saw and heard very well. The play was called The Cradle of Security, wherein was personated a king or some great prince with his courtiers of several kinds, amongst which three ladies were in special grace with him; and they, keeping him in delights and pleasures, drew him from his graver counsellors, hearing of sermons, and listening to good counsel and admonitions; that in the end they got him to lie down in a cradle upon the stage, where these three ladies, joining in a sweet song, rocked him asleep, that he snorted again ; and in the mean time closely conveyed under the clothes, where withal he was covered, a vizard like a swine's snout upon his face, with three wire chains fastened thereunto, the other end whereof being holden severally by those three ladies, who fell to singing again, and then discovered his face, that the spectators might see how they had transformed him going on with their singing. ... This sight took such impression in me, that when I came towards man's estate it was as fresh in my memory as if I had seen it newly acted."
Gloucester being not more than a day's ride from Stratford, much the same custom which we here see in use at the former place was probably used at the latter when the first companies acted there. So that the bailiff and his son William were most likely present at those performances. From this time forward all through the Poet's youth, probably no year passed without similar exhibitions at Stratford, though we hear of no more players there till 1573, when the account-books show an entry of 58. 8d. “ paid to Mr. Bailiff for the Earl of Leicester's players." In 1576 we have notes of similar donations to the companies of the Earls of Warwick and Worcester; and so on, continually, from that pe riod till some years after the time of the Poet's quitting Stratford.' Such were the opportunities our embryo Poet had for catching the first rudiments of that art in which he afterwards displayed such learned mastery. The subject will needs be recurred to when we come to discuss the probable date and probable causes of the Poet's first connexion with the theatre,
| We subjoin fiom the chamberlains' accounts a number of entries, showing to what extent Stratford was favoured with players' visits : 1577. “ Paid to my lord of Leyster players . . . . XV. 8.
" Paid to my lord of Wosters players . . iii. s. iii.d. 1579. “Paid at the commandment of Mr. Baliffe to the Coun.
tys of Essex plears . . . . . . xiiii. s. vi. d. 1680. “Paid to the Earle of Darbyes players at the commaund.
ment of Mr. Baliffe . . . . . . viii. s. ill. d.
The same accounts show an entry, in 1564, of 2s. "paid for defacing image in the chapel.” Even then the excesses generated out of the Reformation, and rendered fierce by the scarce-extinct fires of Smithfield, were invading such towns as Stratford, and inaugurating a "crusade against the harmless monuments of the ancient belief, no exercise of taste being suffered to interfere with what was considered a religious duty.” In those exhibitions of strolling players, especially as in course of time abuses crept in, this spirit found matter, no doubt, more deserving of its enmity. While the Poet was yet a boy, a bitter war of books and pamphlets had begun against plays and players; and the Stratford records inform us of divers early attempts to suppress them in that town; but the issue proves that the Stratfordians were not easily beaten from this species of entertainment, in which they evidently took great delight.”
1581. “Paid to the Earle of Worcester his players iii. s. iiii.d.
“Paid to the L. Bartlett his players . . iii. s. ii. d. 1582. “Paid 10 Henry Russell for the Earle of Worcesters
players . . . . . . . . . . . . . V.3. 1583. “Payd to Mr. Alderman that he layd downe to the
Lord Bartlite his players, and to a preacher V.S.
(i Payd to the Lord Shandowes players. iii. s. iii.d. 1584. “Geven to my lord of Oxfordes pleers. iii. s. iii. d.
« Geven to the Earle of Worceter pleers. iii. s. jiii. d.
“Geven to the Earle of Essex pleers . . ii. s. viii. d, 1586. “Paide to Mr. Tiler for the pleyers.... V.8. 1567. “Paid for mendinge of a forme that was broken by the
Quenes players . . . . . . . . . xvi.d. « Gyven to the Quenes players . . . . . XX. S. “Gyven to my Lo. of Essex players . . . . v.s. « Gyven to therle of Leycester bis players . . . X. S. « Gyven to another company . . . ii. s. jji. d.
“Gyven to my Lo. of Staffordes men . jï. s. ini.d." The year 1602 furnishes the following : 617. Decenber, 45
The account-books quoted above furnish notices of various other events and customs which bore a part in the Poet's early education. We have entries, in 1570, of sums paid “to Humphrey Getley for mending of the stocks," and “ to the smith for iron-work of the same stocks ;" facts that infer suitable precedents for what brave Kent is made to undergo in King Lear. Entries also there are, showing that the cucking-stool, that ancient engine for taming female shrews and scolds, was kept in repair and ready for use, An entry, in 1577, of 48., “ paid when the muster was here for a gallon and half of sack ;” and one, May 20th, 1584, of sa church-ale granted to be kept by the church-warden;" refer us to other sources of delight and instruction for the growing youth. Entries touching the bowling-alleys and the hutts inform us that these were among the favourite places of amusement. · What means were in use for appeasing the anger or conciliating the favour of the rich and powerful, is shown by an entry of 18d. “ paid for wine, sugar, and cakes, to make Sir Fulk Greville drink," and of 40s. "paid to Sir Fulk Greville for nothing;” also, of 3s. "for sack and claret wine for Sir Thomas Lucy and my Lady and Mr. Sheriff at the Swan ;” of 6s, 10d. “for wine and sugar bestowed on Sir Edward Greville at the Swan;" and of 2s. 2d. “ for wine and sugar when my Lady Greville came to see our sport." How new friendships were used to be made, or broken ones mended, appears from entries of 4s. “paid Mrs.
Eliz. At this ball yt is ordred, that there shall be no plays or interludes played in the Chamber, the Guildhall, nor in any parte of he howse or courte, from bensforward, upon payne, that whoever of the Baylif, Aldermen, or Burgesses of the Boroughe shall give leave or license thereunto, sball forfeyt for everie offenceX. s." Other orders still more stringent were passed from time to time; still we find, in 1617, an entry of 5s. paid by “Mr. Baylift''s ap poyntment to a company of players.” Š 1576. “ Paid for mendinge the docke stoole two elles xii. d.
“ Paid for the stoll and thinges to mend it withal vi. d.
« Paid for a cocke for to sett on the stoole, viii. d. 1617. “ For ii. trees for the cookstoole . . . . xi. s."
Quiney for wine to the chamber in making Mr. Baker and Mr. Smith friends," and of 3s. 4d. “ paid at Mrs. Quiney's when Mr. Rogers and Mr. Wright were made friends." Many other very curious and edifying entries are here found, a considerable list of which is given by Halliwell."
We have seen that both John and Mary Shakespeare, instead of writing their name, were so far disciples of Jack Cade as to use the more primitive way of making their mark. It nowise follows from this that they could not read; neither, on the other hand, have we any certain evidence that they could. Be that as it may, there was no reason why their children should not be able to say, “I thank
4 The reader may be glad to find some of the more curious ones in a note : 1578. “Item, to Johu Smith for a pottell of wine and a quar.
terue of sugar for Sir Thomas Lucy . . xvi. d. 1584. “ Paid for a quart of secke, a pottell of claret wyne, a quarterue of sugar, for Sir Thomas Lucy knight
ii. s. i d. 1586. “Paid for wine and sugar when Sir Thomas Lucie satt
in comission for tipplers . . . . . . . xx.d. 1594. « Item, at the eatinge of Mr. Grevilles bucke the kep
ers fee and horse bire . . . . . XXX. S. vi. d. “ Item, a bankett at the Beare for Mr. Grevill
xxxiïi. s. ii.d. 1597. «Payd for a sugerlofe to send to Sur Foke Grivill the 20. of January, 11 li. 9 ounces, at xvi. d. a pound
xv. 8. v.d. 1598. “To Jhon Whittcoott iji. dayes worcke at 9 d. daye
iii. s. “ Bald Hughes for xi. dayes at 9 d. . . viii. s. iii. d. 1604. “ Item, we do present the greatest part of the inhabyi
ants of this towne for wearing theyr repariell con
trary to the stattut. 1606. "Itein, to Spenser for joistes for the scolehouse and for
work about the same . . . . . . ii. s. ix. d. 1608. “ Paied Richard Stanell for tiling the fre skole XXV. 8 1617. “ For a quart of sack sent to Mr. Cooper, a preacher
1.8. « Payde for a quarte of sacke and a quart of clareet
wyne beestowed of Mr. Harris for his sermon made heire . . . . . . . . . . . XX. d'