صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني


in all, that though he was his eldest son, he could give him no better education than his own employ

He had bred him, it is true, for some time at a free-school, where, it is probable, he acquired what Latin he was master of: but the narrowness of his circumstances, and the want of his assistance at home, forced his father to withdraw him from thence, and unhappily prevented his further proficiency in that language.

It is without controversy, that in his works we scarce find any traces of any thing that looks like an imitation of the ancients. The delicacy of his taste, and the natural bent of his own great genius, (equal, if not superior, to some of the best of theirs,) would certainly have led him to read and study them with so much pleasure, that some of their fine images would naturally have insinuated themselves into, and been mixed with his own writings; so that his not copying at leati something from them, may be an argument of his never having read them. Whether his ignorance of the ancients were a disadvantage to him or no, may admit of a dispute : for though the knowledge of them might have made him more correct, yet it is not improbable but that the regularity and deference for them, which would have attended that correctness, might have reftrained fome of that fire, impetuosity, and even beautiful extravagance, which we admire in Shakspeare : and I believe we are better pleased with those thoughts, altogether new and uncommon, which his own imagination supplied him fo abundantly with, than if he had given us the moft beautiful passages out of the Greek and Latin poets, and that in the most agreeable manner that it was poffible for a master of the English language to deliver them.

inquiries I am indebted for many particulars relative to our poet's family,) that Mr. John Shakspeare in the former part of his life was in good circumstances, such persons being generally chosen into the corporation ; and from his being excused (in 1579] to pay 4d. weekly, and at a subsequent period (1587) put out of the corporation, that he was then reduced in his circumstances.

It appears from a note to W. Dethick's Grant of Arms to him in 1596, now in the College of Arms, Vincent, Vol. 157, p. 24, that he was a justice of the peace, and possessed of lands and tenements to the amount of 5001.

Qur poet's mother was the daughter and heir of Robert Arden of Wellingcote, in the county of Warwick, who, in the MS. above referred to, is called " a gentleman of worship.” The family of Arden is a very ancient one ; Robert Arden of Bromwich, Esq. being in the list of the gentry of this county, returned by the commissioners in the twelfth year of King Henry VI. A. D. 1433. Edward Arden was Sheriff to the county in 1568.-The woodland part of this county was ancienily called Ardern ; afterwards softened to Arden. Hence the name.

MALONE. • He had bred him, it is true, for some time at a free-fihool,] The frec-school, I presume, founded at Stratford. THEOBALD.

Upon his leaving school, he seems to have given entirely into that way of living which his father proposed to him ;) and in order to settle in the world after a family manner, he thought fit' to marry while he was yet very young. His wife was


manor court.


into that way of living which his father proposed to him ;] I believe, that on leaving school Shakspeare was placed in the office of some country attorney, or the leneschal of some

See the Elay on the Order of his Plays, Article, Hamlet. MALONE.

- he thought fit to marry while he was yet very young,} It is certain he did fo ; for by the monument in Stratford church erected to the memory of his daughter, Sufanna, the wife of John Hall, gentleman, it appears, that she died on the 2d of July, 1649, aged 66 ; so that she was born in 1583, when her father could not be full 19 years old. THEOBALD.

Sufanna, who was our poet's eldest child, was baptized, May 26, 1583. Shakspeare therefore, having been born in April 1564, was nineteen the month preceding her birth. Mr.

the daughter of one Hathaway,' said to have been a subftantial yeoman in the neighbourhood of Stratford. In this kind of settlement he continued for some time, till an extravagance that he was guilty of forced him both out of his country, and that way of living which he had taken up; and though it seemed at first to be a blemish upon his good manners, and a 'misfortune to him, yet it afterwards happily proved the occasion of exerting one of the greatest geniuses that ever was known in dramatick poetry. He had by a misfortune common enough to young fellows, fallen into ill company, and amongst them, fome that made a frequent practice of deerstealing, engaged him more than once in robbing a park that belonged to Sir Thomas Lucy, of Charlecote, near Stratford. For this he was prosecuted by that gentleman, as he thought, somewhat too severely, and in order to revenge that ill usage, he made a ballad


him. And though this, pro

[ocr errors]

Theobald was mistaken in fuppofing that a monument was erected to her in the church of Stratford. There is no memorial there in honour of either our poet's wife or daughter, except flat tombstones, by which, however, the time of their respective deaths is ascertained. His daughter, Susanna, died, not on the second, but the eleventh of July, 1649. Theobald was led into this error by Dugdale. MALONE.

9 His wife was the daughter of one Hathaway,] She was eight years older than her husband, and died in 1623, at the age of 67 years. THEOBALD.

The following is the inscription on her tomb-ftone in the church of Stratford :

“ Here lyeth interred the body of Anne, wife of William Shakespeare, who departed this life the 6th day of Auguft, 1623, being of the age of 67 yeares.”

After this inscription follow lix Latin verses, not worth preserving. MALONE.

in order to revenge that ill usage, he made a ballad upon him.] Mr. William Oldys, (Norroy King at Arms, and


bably the first essay of his poetry, be loft, yet it is said to have been so very bitter, that it redoubled

well known from the share he had in compiling the Biographia Britannica) among the collections which he left for a Life of Shakspeare, observes, that“ - there was a very aged gentleman living in the neighbourhood of Stratford, (where he died fifty years since) who had not only heard, from several old people in that town, of Shakspeare's trapsgreflion, but could remember the first stanza of that bitter ballad, which, repeating to one of his acquaintance, he preserved it in writing; and here it is neither better nor worse, but faithfully transcribed from the copy which his relation very courteously communicated to me :"

“ A parliemente member, a justice of peace,
“ At home a poor scare-crowe, at London an affe,
“ If lowsie is Lucy, as some volke miscalle it,
“ Then Lucy is lowsie whatever befall it :

• He thinks himself greate,

“ Yet an asse in his state
“ We allowe by his ears but with asses to mate.
If Lucy is lowsie, as some volke miscalle it,

Sing lowsie Lucy, whatever befall it." Contemptible as this performance must now appear, at the time when it was written it might have had sufficient power to irritate a vain, weak, and vindi&tive magiftrate; especially as it' was affixed to several of his park-gates, and consequently published among his neighbours. It may be remarked likewise, that the jingle on which it turns, occurs in the first scene of The Merry Wives of Windfor.

I may add, that the veracity of the late Mr. Oldys has never yet been impeached ; and it is not very probable that a ballad Thould be forged, from which an undiscovered wag could derive no triumph over antiquarian credulity. STEVENS.

According to Mr. Capell, this ballad came originally from Mr. Thomas Jones, who lived at Tarbick, a village in WorcesterThire, about 18 miles from Stratford-upon-Avon, and died in 1703, aged upwards of ninety. “ He remembered to have heard from several old people at Stratford the ftory of Shakfpeare's robbing Sir Thomas Lucy's park; and their account of it agreed with Mr. Rowe's, with this addition, that the ballad written against Sir Thomas Lucy by Shakspeare was stuck upon his park-gate, which exasperated the knight to apply to a lawyer at Warwick to proceed against him. Mr. Jones (it is added) put down in writing the first stanza of this ballad, which was all he

the prosecution against him to that degree, that he was obliged to leave his business and family in Warwickshire, for some time, and shelter himself in London.

It is at this time, and upon this accident, that he is said to have made his first acquaintance in the playhouse.

He was received into the company then in being, at first in a very mean rank, but

remembered of it.” In a note on the transcript with which Mr. Capell was furnished, it is said, that "the people of those parts pronounce low

he like Lucy." They do fo to this day in Scotland, Mr. Wilkes, grandson of the gentleman to whom Mr. Jones repeated the stanza, appears to have been the person who gave a copy of it to Mr. Oldys, and Mr. Capell.

In a manuscript History of the Stage, full of forgeries and falsehoods of various kinds written (I suspect by William Chetwood the prompter) some time between April 1727 and October 1730, is the following passage, to which the reader will give just as much credit as he thinks fit:

Here we shall observe, that the learned Mr. Jolhua Barnes, late Greek Professor of the University of Cambridge, baiting about forty years ago at an inn in Stratford, and hearing an old woman singing part of the above-said song, such was his respect for Mr. Shakspeare's genius, that he gave her a new gown for the two following stanzas in it; and, could the have said it all, he would (as he often said in company, when any discourse has casually arose about him) have given her ten guineas :

6. Sir Thomas was too covetous,

“ To covet so much deer,
• When horns enough upon his head,

« Most plainly did appear.
Had not his worship one deer left?

" What then? He had a wife
“ Took pains enough to find him horns

* Should last him during life." Malone. He was received into the companyat first in a very mean rank;] There is a stage tradition, that his first office in the theatre was that of Call-boy, or prompter's attendant; whole employment it is to give the performers notice to be ready to enter, as often as the business of the play requires their appearance on the stage. MALONE.


« السابقةمتابعة »