« ForrigeFortsæt »
Ilamlet had been played: the word in Italics, “ Hamlets,” proving that Hamlet was then on the stage, and that it had been written by a “ Noverint," or lawyer's clerk; while the examples which I have given of Shakespeare's law.phrases, and which might be multiplied tenfold at least, if sought in all his works, prove that such must have been the employment of his early days.'
Knight agrees with Brown, and sees nothing, on the score of Shakespeare's youth, 'extravagant in his [Brown's] belief,' adding: •Let it be remembered that in that very year , when Shakespeare was twenty-five, it has been distinctly proved by Collier that he was a sharer in the Blackfriars theatre with others, and some of note, below him in the list of sharers.'
In reference to this Epistle of Nash's, STAUNTON says: “Here the “ shifting companions, that runne through every arte,” brings so distinctly to mind the epithet “an absolute Johannes Factotum,” which Nash's sworn brother, Greene, in his Groatsworth of Wit, &c., 1593, applied to Shakespeare; and “the trade of Noverint” so well tallies with the received tradition of his having passed some time in the office of an attorney, that, primâ facie, the allusion to Hamlet would seem directly levelled at our author's tragedy. But then interposes a difficulty on the score of dates. Shakespeare, in 1589, was only twenty-three [sic] years old,—too young, it may be well objected, to have earned the distinction of being satirized by Nash as having “run through every art." It is asserted, too, on good authority that an edition of the Menaphon was published in 1587, and if that earlier copy contained Nash's Epistle, the probability of his reserring to Shakespeare is considerably weakened.'
Just as Malone's edition of 1790 was issuing from the press, there was found at Dulwich College a large Folio MS volume, containing valuable information respecting theatrical affairs from the year 1591 to 1609. The volume is in the handwriting of Philip Ilenslowe, a proprietor, or joint lessee, of more than one theatre during that period, and contains, among others, his accounts of receipts and expenditures in connection with his theatrical management. Malone reprinted copious extracts from this MS in the first volume of his edition; but it was reprinted entire by the *Shakespeare Society'in 1845, with a valuable Preface by Collier, from which the following extracts are given, which, although not strictly germane to the First Quarto of Hamlet, contain much important aid in estimating the value of the theories respecting it. But, first, a few words as to the Diary itself: .llenslowe,' says Collier, was an ignorant man, even for the time in which he lived, and for the station he occupied; he wrote a bad hand, adopted any orthography that suited his notions of the sound of words, especially of proper names (necessarily of most frequent occurrence), and he kept his book, as respects dates in particular, in the most disorderly, negligent, and confused manner. Soinetimes, indeed, he observes a sort of system in his entries; but often, when he wished to make a note, he seems to have opened his book at random, and to have written what he wanted in any space he found vacant. He generally used his own pen, but, as we have stated, in some places the hand of a scribe or clerk is visible; and here and there the dramatists and actors themselves wrote the item in which they were concerned, for the sake, perhaps, of saving the old manager trouble; thus, in various parts of the manuscript, we meet with the handwriting, not merely the signatures, of Drayton, Chapman, Dekker, Chettle, Porter, Wilson, Hathaway, Day, S. Rowley, Haughton, Rankins, and Wadeson ; but, although frequently mentioned, we have no specimen of the handwriting of Nash, Ben Jonson, Middleton, Webster, Marston, or Heywood.' Where the names of nearly all dramatic poets of the age are to be frequently found, we might certainly count on finding that of Shakespeare, but the shadow within which Shakespeare's earthly life was spent envelops him here, too, and his name,' as COLLIER says, 'is not met with in any part of the manuscript.' “At various times and for uncertain periods, Henslowe was more or less interested in the receipts obtained by players acting under the names of the Queen, Lord Nottingham, Lord Strange, Lord Sussex, Lord Worcester, and the Lord Chamberlain. The latter was the company of which Shakespeare was a member, either as actor or author, from his first arrival in, until his final retirement from, London; which company, after the accession of James I, was allowed to assume the distinguishing title of the King's Players.'
So much for the general character of this interesting volume; the portion of the contents that is most important is the period which it covers from 3 June, 1594, to 18 July, 1596; during the whole of this time the Lord Admiral's Players were jointly occupying, or possibly playing in combination at, the theatre at Newington Butts with the Lord Chamberlain's Players ; and here we find by Henslowe that no fewer than forty new plays were got up and acted. For about ten days of the two years the companies ceased to perform, on account, perhaps, of the heat of the weather, and the occurrence of Lent; so that two years are the utmost upon which a calculation can be made, and the result of it is, that the audiences of that day re. quired a new play upon an average about every eighteen days, including Sundays. The rapidity with which plays must then have been written is most remarkable, and is testified beyond dispute by later portions of lenslowe's manuscript, where, among other charges, he registers the sums paid, the dates of payment, and the authors who received the money. Nothing was more common than for dramatists to unite their abilities and resources, and when a piece on any account was to be brought out with peculiar dispatch, three, four, five, and perhaps even six poets engaged themselves on different portions of it. Evidence of this dramatic combination will be found of such frequent occurrence that it is vain here to point out particular pages where it is to be met with.' The union of the two companies of players just referred to lasted a little more than two years. Possibly it may have been merely a joint occupation of the same theatre while the Globe was building, but at any rate it is singular that while it lasted, whatever may have been its character, ‘most of the old plays which our great dramatist is supposed, more or less, to have employed, and of the stories of which he availed himself, are found in Henslowe's list of this period. Here we find a Titus Andronicus, a Lear, a Hamlet, a Hinry V', and a Henry VI, a Buckingham, the old Taming of a Shrew, and several others. For aught we know, Shakespeare may have had originally some share in their authorship, or if he had not, as he probably acted in them, he may have felt himself authorised, as a member of the company, to use them to the extent that answered his purpose... No fact is more clearly made out, and very much by the evidence Henslowe furnishes, than that it was a very common practice for our early dramatists to avail themselves of the materials, whether of plot, character, or language, supplied by their immediate predecessors, and even by their actual contemporaries.'
Five lines before the entry in llenslowe's diary there is this memorandum : “In the name of God Amen, beginninge at Newington, my Lord Admeralle and my Lorde chamberlen men, as foloweth. 1594.' (It is to be borne in mind that Shake. speare was one of the · Lorde chamberlen men' at this date.') The entry itself is as follows: 9 of June 1594, Rd at hamlet ....
In a note Malone says: 'In the Essay on the Order of Shakespeare's Plays, I have stated my opinion [quoted above), that there was a play on the subject of Hamlet prior to our author's, and here we have a full confirmation of that conjecture. It cannot be supposed that our poet's play should have been performed but once in the time of this account, and that Henslowe should have drawn from such a piece but the sum of eight shillings, when his share in several other plays came to three and sometimes four pounds. It is clear that not one of our author's plays was played at Newington Butts; if one had been performed, we should certainly have found more.'
Collier's note (p. 35, ed. Sh. Soc.) is as follows: "Malone contends, we think correctly, that this was the old Hamlet, and not Shakespeare's play. [If this be the case), our great dramatist might adopt the story, and feel that he had a better right to do so, because the old play had been acted by his friends and fellows, or perh:ips with their assistance.'
Among other peculiarities of Henslowe’s diary is the custom which he adopted of marking each new play with the abbreviation ne. The above entry has no such mark; it is therefore to be inferred that it was not a first performance.
The next trace that we find of the old tragedy is in Lodge's Iits miserie, which also was discovered by Dr FARMER (Essay, &c., p. 75, second edition, 1767), who, however, supposed that the allusion by Lodge referred to Shakespeare's own play, and not to any older tragedy. Aubrey having said that Shakespeare did act exceedingly well,' Farmer denies that we have any reason to suppose so, because • Rowe tells us from the information of Betterton, who was inquisitive into this point, and had very early opportunities of inquiry from Sir W. Davenant, that he was no extraordinary actor, and that the top of his performance was the Ghost in his own Hamlet. Yet this chef d'ouvre did not please; I will give you an original stroke at it. Dr Lodge, who was for ever pestering the town with pamphlets, published in the year 1596, Wits miserie, and the Worlds madnesse, discovering the Devils incarnat of this Age. One of these Devils is late- Virtue, or Sorrow for another mans good Success, who, says the Doctor, is “a foule lubber, and looks as pale as the visard of ye ghost, which cried so miserally [sic] at ye theator, like an oisterwise, Hamlet reuenge."
This phrase, • Hamlet, revenge!' made a deep impression on the popular mind, and is referred to more than once before the present Hamlet appeared and obliterated the memory of it.
DYCE (Preliminary Note to Hamlet, p. 100): My own conviction is .... that the piece alluded to by Nash and Lodge, and acted at Newington, was an earlier tragedy on the same subject, which no longer exists, and which probably (like many other old dramas) never reached the press.
STAUNTON remarks : ‘After duly weighing the evidence on either side, we incline to agree with Dyce, that the play alluded to by Lodge and Nash was an earlier production on the same subject; though we find no cause to conclude that the first sketch of Shakespeare's Hamlet, as published in 1603, was not the piece to which Henslowe resers in his entry, connected with the performance at Newington Butts.'
In the Variorum of 1773, STEEVENS says: 'I have hitherto met with no earlier edition of this play [Hamlet] than the one in the year 1605 (1604,– Var. 1778], tho' it must have been performed before that time, as I have seen a copy of Speght's edition of Chaucer, which formerly belonged to Dr Gabriel Harvey (the antagonist of Nash), who, in his own handwriting, has set down the play as a performance with which he was well acquainted, in the year 1598. His words are these: “The younger sort take much delight in Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis, but his Lucrece and his tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke, have it in them to please the wiser sort, 1598.'''
In consequence of this note of Steevens, MALONE was induced to believe that Shakespeare's Hamlet was first published in 1596, but afterwards, in the Variorum of 1821 (ii, 369), he has the following note: • In a former edition of this Essay', I was induced to suppose that Ilamlet must have been written prior to 1598, from the loose manner in which Mr Steevens has mentioned a manuscript note by Gabriel Harvey, in a copy, which had belonged to him, or Speght's Chaucer, in which, we are told, he has set down llamlet as a performance with which he was well acquainted in 1598. But I have been savored by the Bishop of Dromore [Dr l'ercy), the possessor of the book referred to, with an inspection of it, and, on an attentive examination, I have found reason to believe that the note in question may have been written in the latter end of the year 1600. Harvey doubtless purchased this volume in 1598, having, both at the beginning and end of it, written his name. But it by no means follows that all the intermediate remarks which are scattered throughout were put down at the same time. He speaks of translated Tasso in one passage; and the first edition of Fairfax, which is doubtless alluded to, appeared in 1600.'
Wherefore, and in consequence of the allusion to the • inhibition of the players spoken of in Hamlet, II, ii, 320, Malone supposed Ilamlet to have appeared first in 1600.
According to SINGER (Preliminary Remarks to Ilamlet, p. 152, 1826), the translated Tasso, referred to by Malone, need not necessarily have been Fairfax's translation of 1600, but Harvey may have alluded to the version of the first five books of the Jerusalem, published by R. C[arew] in 1594. Singer therefore 'safely places the date of the first composition of Hamlet at least as early as 1597.'
KNIGHT: Not a tittle of distinct evidence exists to show that there was any other play of Hamlet but that of Shakspere; and all the collateral evidence upon which it is inferred that an earlier play of Hamlet than Shakspere's did exist may, on the other hand, be taken to prove that Shakspere's original sketch of Hamlet was in repute at an earlier period than is commonly assigned to its date. . . . . In Henslowe's diary, the very next entry is ' at the taminge of a shrewe;' and Malone, in a note, adds : 'the play which preceded Shakespeare's.' When Malone wrote this note he believed that Shakspere's Taming of the Shrew was a late production; but in the second edition of his · Chronological Order' he is persuaded that it was one of his very curly productions. “There is nothing,' says Knight in conclusion, to prove that both these plays thus acted were not Shakspere's.'
MALONE, in his edition of 1790, finds another reserence to this old tragerly in Jonson's The Case is Altered, which was written before the end of 1599. It is as follows: • But first I'll play the ghost ; I'll call him out.' The allusion is so very doubtful that Malone did not refer to it in his subsequent editions. As Gifford says, we might as well find an allusion in the ghost of every play that has appeared since the days of Thespis.'
The last allusion to this old tragedy that we find before the publication of the First Quarto in 1603 is given by CAPELL (Notes, iii, 232), and bears witness to the
distinguishing phrase before quoted : 'Asinius. Wod I were hang'd if I can call you any names but Captaine and Tucca. Tucca. No. Fye'st; my name's Hamlet reuenge : thou hast been at Parris garden, hast not ?'— Dekker's Satiro-mastix, 1602.
This allusion by Dekker may be compared, says HALLIWELL, with another passage, in Westward Hoe, 1607,—'I, but when light wives make heavy husbands, let these husbands play mad Hamlet ; and crie revenge.' So likewise in Rowlands's The Night Raven, 1618,—- I will not cry Hamlet Reuenge my greeues, But I will call Hang-man Reuenge on theeues' [p. 27, ed. Hunterian Club, where the date of the first edition is given as 1620]. Halliwell adds: There is also reason to suppose that another passage in the old tragedy of Hamlet is alluded to in Armin's Nest of Ninnies, 1608,--ther are, as Hamlet saies, things cald whips in store' [p. 55, ed Sh. Soc. But may not this refer to the whips and scorns of time in the later Hamlet?].
Douce (ii, 265): In a poem, written by Anthony Scoloker, a printer, entitled Daiphantus, or The passions of love, &c., 1604, there are the following allusions to Hamlet : '-or to come home to the vulgars Element, like Frienilly Shake-speare's Tragedies, where the Commedian rides, where the Tragedian stands on Tip-toe: Faith it should please all, like Prince Hamlet. But in sadnesse, then it were to be feared he would runne mad.'
'Calls players fooles, the foole he judgeth wisest,
In Eastward Hoe, by Chapman, Jonson, and Marston, 1605, says STEEVENS, there is a fling at the hero of this tragedy. A footman named Hamlet enters, and a tankard-bearer asks him: ''Sfoote, Hamlet, are you mad?' MALONE says there was no satire intended. Eastward Iloe was acted at Shakespeare's own play-house (the Blackfriars), by the children of the revels.'
STEEVENS also cites from Dekker's Bel-man's Night-walkes, 1612:— But if any mad Hamlet, hearing this, smell villainie, and rush in by violence,' &c.
DR LATHAM ( Two Dissertations on Hamlet, &c. London, 1872, p. 87) says that we know the date' of this older Hamlet to be 1589, but gives no proofs for his assertion, and in the next sentence weakens our faith in his figures by stating that Shakespeare was then in his twenty-third year. We are still more puzzled by finding on page 91 a reference to the Ilamlet of 1598. Under either date, I believe, Dr Latham denies that this older Ilamlet, referred to by Nash, Lodge, and others, was written by Shakespeare, but maintains that it is wholly or partially preserved' in the text of the Bestrafte Brudermord. See Note prefixed to a translation of this old German drama in this volume.
The foregoing are all the allusions, I believe, to a play of Hamlet which many critics believe preceded Shakespeare's tragedy. Some of these allusions that occur after 1602 probably refer to Shakespeare's tragedy, but I have given them all because they are mentioned by one or another of the editors, and because it is proper that in an edition for students, like this, every item of evidence should be set forth.
We now come to something more definitely connected with Shakespeare than anything thus far.
STEEVENS discovered the following entry in the Stationers' Registers :