age in 1595, he may well out of his riches have helped the man who had dedicated his poems to him with servile adulation. Moreover, the statement is put forward by Rowe, who is certainly more trustworthy than the general run of gossip-mongers, and his account of the matter proves that he did not accept the story with eager credulity, but as one compelled by authority. Here is what he says:

There is one story so singular in magnificence of this patron of Shakespeare that if I had not been assured that the story was handed down by Sir Wm. D'Avenant, who was probably very well acquainted with his affairs, I should not have ventured to insert that my lord Southampton, at one time, gave him a thousand pounds to enable him to go through with a purchase to which he heard he had a mind. A bounty very great, and very rare at any time, almost equal to that profuse generosity the present age has shown to French dancers and Italian Eunuchs.

It seems to me a great deal more likely that this munificent gift of Southampton was the source of Shakespeare's wealth than that he added coin to coin in saving, careful fashion. It may be said at once that all the evidence we have is in favour of Shakespeare's extravagance, and against his thrift. As we have seen, when studying “ The Merchant of Venice,” the presumption is that he looked upon saving with contempt, and was himself freehanded to a fault. The Rev. John Ward, who was Vicar of Stratford from 1648 to 1679, tells us “ that he spent at the rate of a thousand a year, as I have heard.

It is impossible to deny that Shakespeare got rid of a great deal of money even after his retirement to Stratford; and men accustomed to save are not likely to become prodigal in old age.


On the 10th March, 1613, Shakespeare bought a house in Blackfriars for £140; the next day he executed another deed, now in the British Museum, which stipulated that £60 of the purchase-money was to remain on mortgage until the following Michaelmas: the money was unpaid at Shakespeare's death, which seems to me to argue a certain carelessness, to say the least of it.

Dryasdust makes out that Shakespeare, in the years from 1600 to 1612, was earning about six hundred a year in the money of the period, or nearly five thousand a year of our money, and yet he was unable or unwilling to pay off a paltry £60.

After passing the last five years of his life in village Stratford, where he could not possibly have found many opportunities of extravagance, he was only able to leave a little more than one year's income. He willed New Place to his elder daughter, Susanna Hall, together with the land, barns, and gardens at and near Stratford (except the tenement in Chapel Lane), and the house in Blackfriars, London, all together equal, at the most, to five or six hundred pounds; and to his younger daughter, Judith, he bequeathed the tenement in Chapel Lane, £150 in money, and another £150 to be paid if she was alive three years after the date of the will. Nine hundred pounds, or so, of the money of the period, would cover all he possessed at death. When we consider these things, it becomes plain, I think, that Shakespeare was extravagant to lavishness even in cautious age. While in London he no doubt earned and was given large sums of money; but he was freehanded and careless, and died far poorer than one would have expected from an ordinarily thrifty man. The loose-liver is usually a spendthrift.

There are worse faults to be laid to his account than lechery and extravagance. Every one who has

read his works with any care must admit that Shakespeare was a snob of the purest English water. Aristocratic tastes were natural to him; inherent, indeed, in the delicate sensitiveness of his beauty-loving temperament; but he desired the outward and visible signs of gentility as much as any podgy millionaire of our time, and stooped as low to get them as man could stoop. In 1596, his young son, Hamnet, died at Stratford, and was buried on 11th August in the parish church. This event called Shakespeare back to his village, and while he was there he most probably paid his father's debts, and certainly tried to acquire for himself and his successors the position of gentlefolk. He induced his father to make application to the College of Heralds for a coat of arms, on the ground not only that his father was a man of substance, but that he had also married into a “worshipful ” family. The draft grant of arms was not executed at the time. It may have been that the father's pecuniary position became known to the College, or perhaps the profession of the son created difficulties; but in any case nothing was done for some time. In 1597, however, the Earl of Essex became Earl Marshal and Chief of the Heralds' College, and the scholar and antiquary, William Camden, joined the College as Clarenceux King of Arms. Shakespeare must have been known to the Earl of Essex, who was an intimate friend of the Earl of Southampton; he was indeed almost certainly a friend and admirer of Essex. The Shakespeares' second application to be admitted to the status of gentlefolk took a new form. They asserted roundly that the coat as set out in the draft of 1596 had been assigned to John Shakespeare while he was bailiff, and the heralds were asked to give him a “recognition” of it. At the


same time John Shakespeare asked for permission to quarter on his “ ancient coat of arms" that of the Ardens of Wilmscote, his wife's family. But this was going too far, even for a friend of Essex. To grant such a request might have got the College into trouble with the influential Warwickshire family of Arden, and so it was refused; but the grant was

recognized,” and Shakespeare's peculiar ambition was satisfied.

Every single incident in his life bears out what we have learned from his works. In all his writings he praises lords and gentlemen, and runs down the citizens and common people, and in his life he spent some years, a good deal of trouble, and many impudent lies in getting for his father a grant of arms and recognition as a gentleman-a very pitiful ambition, but peculiarly English. Shakespeare, one fancies, was a gentleman by nature, and a good deal more.

But his snobbishness had other worse results. Partly because of it he never got to know the middle classes in England. True, even in his time they were excessively Puritanical, which quality hedged them off, so to speak, from the playwright-poet. With his usual gentleness or timidity, Shakespeare never tells us directly what he thought of the Puritans, but his half-averted, contemptuous glance at them in passing, is very significant. Angelo, the would-be Puritan ruler, was a “ false seemer," Malvolio was a “ chough.” The peculiar virtues of the English middle class, its courage and sheepishness; its good conduct and respect for duties; its religious sense and cocksure narrow-mindedness, held no attraction for Shakespeare, and, armoured in snobbishness, he utterly missed what a knowledge of the middle classes might have given him.

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Let us take one instance of his loss. Though he lived in an age of fanaticism, he never drew a fanatic or reformer, never conceived a man as swimming against the stream of his time. He had but a vague conception of the few spirits in each age who lead humanity to new and higher ideals; he could not understand a Christ or a Mahomet, and it seems as if he took but small interest in Jeanne d'Arc, the noblest being that came within the ken of his art. For even if we admit that he did not write the first part of “ Henry VI.,” it is certain that it passed through his hands, and that in his youth, at any rate, he saw nothing to correct in that vile and stupid libel on the greatest of women. Even the English fanatic escaped his intelligence; his Jack Cade, as I have already noticed, is a wretched caricature; no Cade moves his fellows save by appealing to the best in them, to their sense of justice, or what they take for justice. The Cade who will wheedle men for his own gross ambitions may

make a few dupes, but not thousands of devoted followers. These elementary truths Shakespeare never understood. Yet how much greater he would have been had he understood them; had he studied even one Puritan lovingly and depicted him sympathetically. For the fanatic is one of the hinges which swing the door of the modern world. Shakespeare's “universal sympathy”—to quote Coleridge-did not include the plainly-clad tub-thumper who dared to accuse him to his face of serving the Babylonish Whore. Shakespeare sneered at the

Puritan instead of studying him; with the result that he belongs rather to the Renaissance than to the modern world, in spite even of his Hamlet. The best of a Wordsworth or a Turgenief is outside him; he would never have understood a Mariana or a Bazarof, and the noble faith of the

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