This article, translated by Melville B. Anderson, was first published in English in William Shakespeare. Victor Hugo. Chicago: A.C. McClurg and Co., 1886. p. 18-19.

SHAKESPEARE remained for a long time on the threshold of theatrical life,--outside, rather, and in the street. (He began by holding horses at the doors of theatres.) At length he entered. He passed the door and got behind the scenes. He succeeded in becoming a call-boy, vulgarly, a "barker." About 1586 Shakespeare was "barking" with Greene at Blackfriars. In 1587 he gained a step. In the piece called 'The Giant Agrapardo, King of Nubia, worse than his late brother, Angulafer," Shakespeare was entrusted with the task of carrying the turban to the giant. Then from supernumerary he became actor,--thanks to Burbage, to whom, long after, by an interlineation in his will, he left thirty-six shillings to buy a gold ring. He was the friend of Condell and Hemynge,--his comrades while alive, his publishers after his death. He was handsome: he had a high forehead, his beard was brown, his manner was gentle, his mouth pleasant, his eye profound. He took delight in reading Montaigne, translated by Florio. He frequented the Apollo Tavern, where he would see and keep company with two frequenters of his theatre,--Dekker, author of "The Gull's Hornbook," in which a chapter is specially devoted to "the way a man of fashion ought to behave at a play," and Dr. Simon Forman, who has left a manuscript journal containing reports of the first performance of "The Merchant of Venice" and "The Winter's Tale." [1]

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1 Hugo's source for this statement is unknown. Nothing is known of the first representation of "The Merchant of Venice." Dr. Forman records representations of but three plays--"Macbeth," "Cymbeline," and "The Winter's Tale;" and it does not appear that these were first representations.

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