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players of interludes and minstrels wandering abroad, jugglers, tinkers and petty chapmen.” On referring to that statute (39 Eliz. c. 4), I find that it was not passed until 1599, the year Shakespeare's father received his grant of arms. However, as to the friendship between Shakespeare and Southampton in 1593, I am still not only skeptical, but every record of those times which I approach, confirms me in my disbelief.

The answers to the first edition (I have read ninetythree of them) seem to me mostly sentimental. The only practical point made appears to be that the discrepancies of the WiLL are to be accounted for by supposing the Plays to have passed either to Mrs. Shakespeare the relict, or to Dr. John Hall the executor, of the dramatist. But in either case, entries to that effect in the Books of the Stationers' Company would have been imperatively essential. And it must be remembered, too, that copyright in those days -being by common law and not by statute--did not expire by limitation at all, but was perpetual. (In other words, were it possible to trace them, we could find to-day parties in whom the copyright of the Shakespeare Plays still vests.) If light is wanted as to the laws of literary property in Elizabeth's and James's days, why guess at it, when law libraries are accessible, and the Books of the Stationers' Company extant? Blount and Jaggard, who printed the First Folio, were alive to their own interests, when (November 8, 1623,) they copyrighted the sixteen Plays first printed in that Folio. How did they obtain a right to print the remaining twenty which had already been copyrighted ? Nobody knows. They did not re-copyright them for the simple reason that, having helped themselves to them, they had no legal rights to make registry of. Blount and Jaggard were not interfered with, because these Plays, having lost for the time their commercial value, were not esteemed worth a lawsuit by their former printers. But the interesting fact remains that it was the firm of Blount and Jaggard, and not their predecessors, who printed “stolne and surreptitious copies.” It is simply silly to talk, as commentators will, of Shakespeare omitting to mention his Plays in his Testament, because his copyrights in them had expired, or because he or his representatives had sold them to the Globe Theater.

If his Plays had never been entered for copyright on the Books of the Stationers' Company, he or his executors might undoubtedly have sold them without registering the transfer. But, unfortunately, these Plays were registered; and, once registered, it was impossible to alienate them except by registry of later date. If, however, William Shakespeare never owned more than what we call to-day a Stageright in the Plays, all is accounted for. There was no law

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compelling an entry of stageright in the Stationers' Books, and no public office at which anything analogous to—(what nowadays becomes of such large pecuniary value)—a right to represent and perform dramatic productions—could be entered and secured.

In reading the late autobiographies of Anthony Trollope and Sergeant Ballantyne, I was impressed with the conviction that-down to the first quarter of the present century-nothing thorough (except flogging) was considered essential to the education of the British youth, in country schools. I was led by

I this to examine carefully into what must have been the course of instruction in Stratford school, when young Shakespeare is supposed to have been a stu- x dent there. To make my examinations as valuable as possible, I cited the testimony of Roger Asham, John Milton, and others nearly contemporary, and went to the pains of compiling a considerable glossary of the Warwickshire Dialect. The result was too bulky, of course, for adding to this work, and has been published elsewhere in a volume by itself.

While I have never yielded my assent to the Baconian theory, I have been so widely accused of bringing it aid and comfort that I would like to say a final word or two in regard to it:

It seems to me quite as impossible that Francis Bacon should have written certain portions of the Plays and Poems as that William Shakespeare should have

written those other portions which the general consent of the New Shakespeare Society, Mr. Fleay, Mr. W. J. Rolfe, and others have rejected. But yet Francis, afterward Lord, Bacon, was one of the most versatile men who ever lived. It is not safe to judge of his poetical powers by his Paraphrase of the Psalms, which was written—just as John Milton's paraphrase was written-in what is to us, to day, the purest doggerel. But that these versions were so written purposely, in order that the meanest intellects might commit them to memory and sing them, no one at all familiar with the times can doubt for a moment. If there is any degree in doggerel, Milton's versions are the most ridiculous. But the purpose for which both paraphrases were made is evidently one and the same. Nor can we exactly rail at the absurdity of a lord chancellor of England writing stage plays in the days of Elizabeth, when we have seen a prime minister of England writing novels in the age of Victoria.

We can, even now,

hear the twenty-second century's comparative critic cry, “Ridiculous to conceive of the great Beaconsfield, the man whose statesmanship grappled with the world, who, singly and alone, confronted an empire in its flush of victory, and forced it to relinquish a prize its sword had just won—to conceive of that man writing a few florid and stagey novels. And then, if it were not ridiculous on its face, look at the

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internal evidence; count the stopped and the unstopped' and the 'double' endings: the “run on' lines, and the alternates:' and, for the birth marks of style' (which any one not • color-blind' can see for himself), put one of his speeches at the Berlin congress alongside a chapter of Lothair!” In short, so versatile, so great in every literary walk of that day, was Francis Bacon, that nobody can wonder that the old school Shakespearean,—while willing to admit Greene, Marston, Nash, Middleton, Fletcher, or anybody else, a collaborateur with Shakespeare in the plays,-stands aghast at any approach of Francis Bacon to that vicinity, and cries “sacrilege” and “lunacy!

For my part I have never been able to decide whether the Baconian Theory were the greater compliment to Bacon or to Shakespeare himself. Certainly William Shakespeare is the only man who ever lived whose works are accounted too sublime for himself—the only man as to whom the centuries are still debating whether he was not-after all—a Demigod !

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OCTOBER 2, 1885.

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