NOTES AND QUERIES. [9 th s. XL JAN. 24, im.
There is nothing to prove that both these plays
['Hamlet' and 'Taming of a Shrew'] thus acted were not Shakspere's."
Staunton says :
" We find no cause to conclude that the first sketch of Shakespeare's k Hamlet,' as published in 1603, was not the piece to which Henslowe refers in his entry, connected with the performance at Newington Butts."
R. G. White says :
"Here we have a 'Hamlet' played, 1594, at a theatre where the company to which Shakespeare belonged was performing; in 1602 the same company still perform a 'Hamlet '; and we know of no play of the name being performed at any other theatre.
It is worthy of note that in the * Hamlet ' of 1589 and that of 1603 there is a ghost, which ghost is not to be found in the legend on which the play is founded.
On the title-page of the quarto of 1603 it is stated that the play had been acted "in the two Universities of Cambridge and Oxford." No evidence has yet been brought forward to show the occasion on which the play was acted at either university ; but I have seen it stated that a ' Hamlet ' was acted at Oxford in 1585, before Shakespeare left Stratford, on the occasion, I think, of an entertainment given to the King of Bohemia by the Earl of Leicester's company. I shall be glad if any reader of ' N. & Q.' can confirm this statement.
MR. RICHARD HEMMING states that many months ago he wrote to ' N. & Q.,' showing that "we know more about Shakespeare than Spenser, Jonson, Greene, Marlowe, and others," and that "a great deal is known about Shakespeare." George Steevens, the Shakespearean editor and commentator who, according to Mr. Sidney Lee, "made invaluable contributions to Shakespearean study," whose edition of Shakespeare's plays " was long regarded as the standard version," and to whom "all commentators of recent times are more deeply indebted in this de- partment of their labours than to any other critic " writes :
"All that is known with any degree of certainty concerning Shakespeare is, that he was born at Stratford -on -Avon, married, and had children there, went to London, where he commenced actor, and wrote poems and plays, returned to Stratford, made his will, died, and was buried." This summarizes all that is known of the life of William Shakespeare. The rest is mainly conjecture. Do we not know a little more than this about the contemporaries mentioned by MR. HEMMING 1
Even Mr. Sidney Lee acknowledges that " the sole anecdote of Shakespeare that is positively known to have been recorded in his lifetime relates that Burbage, when playing Richard III., agreed
with a lady in the audience to visit her after the performance; Shakespeare, overhearing the con- versation, anticipated the actor's visit, and met Burbage on his arrival with the quip that ' William the Conqueror was before Richard the Third.' "
A fair specimen of the facts which go to constitute the life of Shakespeare is the fol- lowing, given by Mr. Lee in his ' Stratford- on-Avon ':
" Shakespeare, it should also be remembered, must have been a regular attendant at the Parish Church, and may at times have enjoyed a sermon."
This story scarcely harmonizes with that of the foresaid "quip," but it is such romance that is generally accepted as Shakespearean biography. GEORGE STRONACH.
SHAKESPEARE COTTAGE AT ST. ALBANS (9 th S. x. 488). The cottage so called (in Fishpool Street, St. Michael's, St. Albans) must not be associated with the Bard of Avon, nor with the Bacon-Shakespeare con- troversy. It was thus named by a local baker, whose property it is, and who chris- tened the place after a member of his family bearing that surname. F. G. KITTON.
LEGEND OF THE SERPENT'S FEET (9 th S. x. 481). In my 'Adversaria' I find the follow- ing on this legend :
" Rabbi Eleazor's account of the fall of man says that the serpent had before the figure of a camel on which Sammael, the late angel, had been mounted, and God cut off the feet of the serpent-camel."
The variation as seen in the Bible of 1578, at Gen. iii. 15, is interesting, '* He shall break thine head,* and thou shalt bruise his heel." HAROLD MALET, Colonel.
Mr. M. D. Conway, in his ' Demonology and Devil-lore ' (part iii. chap, ii.), has a good deal on this subject, and says boldly that the serpent, "as an animal, is a consummate development. Its feet, so far from having been amputated, as the fables say, have been withdrawn beneath its skin as crutches used in a feebler period. It is found as a tertiary fossil." I am not sure how far naturalists agree with this. C. C. B.
" Now up to the time of the fall of man the serpent had four feet like the camel." In Gazette's ' Diablo Amoureux ' the devil ap- pears in the likeness of a camel. Perhaps this is a reminiscence of the ancient legend.
SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY QUERIES (9 th S. x. 408, 511). 5. A will of a person dying at Albury, Oxfordshire, in 1666, might be proved in one of the four following courts :
- " That is, the power of sin and death."