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In that year Robert Greene speaks of him in his Groatsworth of Wit in a way that shows us that Shakespeare was succeeding both as an actor and as a writer of plays. The best companies of actors in the kingdom visited Stratford during Shakespeare's youth, and we naturally conjecture that their influence was powerful with him. Certainly he had gone to London, had joined one of the companies of players, and had speedily pushed his way to the front. In March, 1595, "William Kempe, William Shakespeare, and Richard Burbage" were paid £20 "for two several comedies or interludes showed by them before her Majesty in Christmas time last past." The young dramatist had come to enjoy the patronage of the nobility; his poems, — Venus and Adonis, 1593, and Lucrece, 1594, were dedicated to the Earl of Southampton.

Shakespeare's only son Hamnet died in 1596. In 1597 he bought New Place, the largest house in Stratford; and he afterward made other purchases of Stratford property. He was already planning to spend his last days in the home of his boyhood. "The tie that bound the first endures the


Shakespeare's father shared in his son's prosperity. In 1596 John Shakespeare made application to the heralds' college for a coat-of-arms, and this was subsequently granted. In 1597 he tried to recover the possession of an important piece of property which he had mortgaged nearly twenty years before.

In 1598 Francis Meres in his Palladis Tamia, Wits Treasury, speaks of Shakespeare as "the most excellent" English writer of both comedy and tragedy, and mentions twelve of his plays by name as already in existence. In 1599 the Globe Theater was built. This was a very large and prosperous playhouse, and Shakespeare had a fixed share of the receipts. Lee believes that "Shakespeare drew from the Globe Theater, at the lowest estimate, more than £500

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a year as actor's salary and profits, and that he was earning in all ways "above £ 600 a year." This was an unusually large income for those days. As nearly as we can estimate, this amount was equivalent to an annual income of about $24,000 at the present time. In 1601 Shakespeare's father died. In 1607 his daughter Susanna was married to Dr. John Hall of Stratford; in the same year he lost his younger brother Edmund, a London actor like himself. In 1608 occurred the birth of the only grandchild that Shakespeare saw, Elizabeth Hall; and in the same year the poet lost his mother. About 1610, it is supposed, the dramatist once more made Stratford his home. In February, 1616, his daughter Judith married Thomas Quiney of Stratford. In March of this year the poet made his will; and on April 23 he died. He was buried under the floor of the church at Stratford; his bust looks at us from the wall, and may be seen in the accompanying picture; and the stern inscription upon the stone that covers his remains' has kept them undisturbed.

In 1623 the poet's friends and fellow-actors Heminge and Condell edited his plays in folio form. They dedicated the volume to the Earl of Pembroke and the Earl of Montgomery, on the ground that they had shown "much favour" to the author while living. The last direct descendant of the dramatist was his grandchild, Elizabeth Hall, who died in 1670 as Lady Barnard.

It is pleasant to know that Shakespeare was very generally admired and honored. Ben Jonson, though often severe and hard to please, says of him, "I loved Shakespeare and do honor his memory, on this side idolatry, as much as any. He was, indeed, honest, and of an open and

free nature."

1 Good frend for Iesvs sake forbeare
To digg the dvst encloased heare
Blest be ye man yt spares thes stones
And cvrst be he yt moves my bones."


The First Folio edition of Shakespeare's plays was published in 1623, seven years after his death. This volume contained thirty-six plays. The Third Folio, published in 1663-1664, added seven other plays; but of these seven it is believed that Shakespeare wrote only a portion of the one named Pericles. The thirty-six dramas of the First Folio and Pericles make up the complete plays of Shakespeare, as they are usually reckoned.

In the Folio the dramas are divided into comedies, historical plays, and tragedies. By a comedy is meant a play that ends happily for the hero; and by a tragedy, one that ends fatally. The plays founded upon later English history, beginning with the reign of King John, are called historical plays; but those based upon early legendary history-King Lear, Macbeth, and Cymbeline are not included in this class. Usually one of these historical plays is either a tragedy or a comedy; but some of the dramas of this kind resemble the older "chronicle plays." A chronicle play presented the important events of a reign, rather than a single action. In Shakespeare's Henry VIII our interest is directed to one action after another, in the manner of a chronicle play. These various actions are largely independent of one another, and the drama is not a unified whole. As Mrs. W. D. MacClintock has said of Ivanhoe, "There is a sort of relay race of plot interests."

Shakespeare's comedies belong mostly to the class called "romantic comedies." In a romantic comedy the main action is, on the whole, earnest rather than comic, while the humorous element is largely furnished by subordinate characters, or even by a separate minor story. The Merchant of Venice is what is called a "tragi-comedy."

This means that

it begins in a serious vein and threatens to end fatally, but finally reaches a happy conclusion.

In the mingling of the grave and the sportive elements, the plays of Shakespeare show the utmost variety; in no play is either element entirely wanting. But none of the dramas has a smaller admixture of the humorous than Julius Cæsar.

There are various ways by which we are able to learn, or to conjecture, about when each play was written. Nearly one half of the plays were published in separate quarto editions during the lifetime of the poet; and each quarto bears its date. Also, the stationers, or publishers, had a common register in which each one entered the title of any work which he intended to bring out; he then had the exclusive right to publish the book. This register has come down to us, and many of Shakespeare's plays are here entered under different dates. Again, writers of the period sometimes make references to individual plays, and such a reference sometimes helps us in determining the date of composition. We have already learned that Francis Meres mentioned twelve plays by name in 1598; and we shall see later that a reference by a writer named Weever is the most important piece of evidence in fixing the probable date of Julius Cæsar. Sometimes, too, a play makes use of another book whose date of publication we know. Shakespeare's style changed gradually, and this is still another kind of evidence. The versification of the dramas also showed alteration as he went on writing; for example, in his earliest plays about six lines out of every seven show a natural pause at the end of the line; in his last plays only about three lines out of five have this pause. Again, Shakespeare's dramatic power steadily increased; and his method of managing the action of a play showed distinct changes. For determining the date of Coriolanus, for example, we have no means except purely internal evidence of the kinds

last mentioned. The outcome of all these various forms of testimony taken together is that the order in which the plays were produced can be determined in a general way, but many minor details are still uncertain.

Edward Dowden has divided Shakespeare's career as a writer of plays into four periods, and has suggested for each of these a striking motto. The following table agrees in the main with his fourfold division. The titles of those plays which have the greatest interest and value for younger readers are printed in capitals; and the most important of the remaining plays are put in italics.

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