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ing the repute of bearing a richer kind by grafting; and this was the reason he omitted it.”
The same story, without the names of the persons, is printed among the jests of John Taylor the Water poet, in his works, folio, 1630, page 184, No 39: and, with some variations, may be found in one of Hearne's pocket books.
“ One of Shakespeare's younger brothers, who lived to a good old age, even some years, as I compute, after the restoration of K. Charles II. would in his younger days come to London to visit his brother Will, as he called him, and be a spectator of him as an actor in some of his own plays. This custom, as his brother's fame enlarged, and his dra. matic entertainments grew the greatest support of our principal, if not of all our theatres, he continued it seems so long after his brother's death, as even to the latter end of his own life. The curiosity at this time of the most noted actors to learn something from him of his brother, &c. they justly held him in the highest veneration. And it may be well believed, as there was besides a kinsman and descendant of the family, who was then a celebrated actor among them, (Charles Harte. See Shakespeare's Will] this opportunity made them greedily inquisitive into every little circumstance, more especially in his dramatick character, which his brother could relate of him. But he, it seems, was so stricken in years, and possibly his memory fo weakened with infirmities (which might make him the easier pass for a man of weak intellects) that he could give them but little light into their enquiries; and all that could be recollected from him of his brother Will, in that station was, the faint, general, and almost lost ideas he had of having once seen him act a part in one of his own comedies, wherein being to perfonate a decrepit old man, he wore a long beard, and appeared so weak and drooping and unable to walk, that he was forced to be supported and carried by another person to a table, at which he was seated among some company, who were eating, and one of them sung a song." See the character of Adam in As you like it. Act. II. Sc. ult.
“ Verses by Ben Jonson and Shakespeare, occafioned by the motto to the Globe Theatre. Totus mundus agit hij. trionem.
Poetical Characteristicks, 8vo. MS. vol. I. some time in the Harleian Library; which volume was returned to its owner.”
« Old Mr. Bowman the player reported from Sir William Bishop, that some part of Sir John Falstaff's character was drawn from a townsman of Stratford, who either faithlessly broke a contract, or spitefully refused to part with some land, for a valuable consideration, adjoining to Shakespeare's, in or near that town."
To thefe anecdotes I can only add the following.
At the conclusion of the advertisement prefixed to Lintot's edition of Shakespeare's poems, it is said, “ That. most learned prince and great patron of learning, King James the First, was pleased with his own hand to write an amicable letter to Mr. Shakespeare; which letter, though now loft, remained long in the hands of Sir William Davenant, as a credible person now living can testify."
Mr. Oldys, in a MS. note to his copy of Fuller's Worthies, observes, that “ the story came from the duke of Buckingham, who had it from Sir William D'Avenant."
It appears from Rofcius Anglicanus, (commonly called Downes the prompter's book) 1708, that Shakespeare took the pains to instruct Joseph Taylor in the character of Hamlet, and John Lowine in that of K. Henry VIII. STEEVENS. Extract from the Rev. Dr. Farmer's Essay on the Learning of
Shakespeare. In 1751, was reprinted “ A compendious or briefe examination of certayne ordinary complaints of diuers of our Countrymen in these our days: which although they are in fome parte unjust and friuolous, yet are they all by way of dialogue thoroughly debated and discussed by William Shakespeare, Gentleman.” 8vo.
This extraordinary piece was originally published in 4to, 158s, and dedicated by the author, “ To the most vertu
ous and learned Lady, his most deare and foveraigne Prine cesse, Elizabeth; being inforced by her majesties late and singular clemency in pardoning certayne his unduetifull mifdemeanour." And by the modern editors, to the late king; as “ a treatise composed by the most extensive and fertile genius, that ever any age or nation produced.”
Here we join issue with the writers of that excellent, though very unequal work, the Biographia Britannica: if, say they, this piece could be written by our poet, it would be absolutely decisive in the dispute about his learning; for many quotations appear in it from the Greek and Latin claflicks.
The concurring circumstances of the name, and the mildemeanor, which is supposed to be the old story of deer-slealing, feem fairly to challenge our poet for the author: but they hesitate.- His claim may appear to be confuted by the date 1581, when Shakej peare was only seventeen, and the long experience, which the writer talks of.-But I will not keep the reader in suspense: the book was not written by Shakespeare.
Strype, in his Annals, calls the author SOME learned man, and this gave me the first suspicion. I knew very well, that honest John (to use the language of Sir Thomas Bodley) did not waste his time with such baggage books as plays and poems; yet I must suppose, that he had heard of the name of Shakespeare. After a while I met with the original edi. tion. Here in the title-page, and at the end of the dedication, appear only the initials, W. S. gent. and presently I was informed by Anthony Wood, that the book in question was written, not by William Shakespeare, but by William Stafford, gentleman*: which at once accounted for the mildemeanour in the dedication. For Stafford had been concerned at that time, and was indeed afterward, as Camden "and the other annalists inform us, with some of the conSpirators against Elizabeth; which he properly calls his unduetifull behaviour.
I hope by this time, that any one open to conviction may * be nearly sátisfied; and I will promise to give on this head very little more trouble.
The juftly celebrated Mr. Warton hath favoured us, in
* Fafti, 2d Edit. V. 1. 208. It will be seen on turning to the former edition, that the latter part of the paragraph belongs to another Stafford.--I have since observed, that Wood is not the first, who hath given us the true author of the pamphlet.
Mr. Beriginally, temin to make again ought nom" which had
his Life of Dr. Bathursi, with some hearsay particulars concerning Shakespeare from the papers of Aubrey, which had been in the hands of Wood; and I ought not to suppress them as the last seems to make against my doctrine. They came originally, I find, on consulting the MS. from one Mr. Beeston: and I am sure Mr. Warton, whom I have the honour to call my friend, and an associate in the question, will be in no pain about their credit.
« William Shakespeare's father was a butcher,-while he was a boy he exercised his father's trade, but when he killed a calf, he would do it in a high style, and make a speech. This William being inclined naturally to poetry and acting, came to London, I guess, about eighteen, and was an actor in one of the playhouses, and did act exceedingly well. He begar early to make efsays in dramatique poetry.— The humour of the Constable in the Midsummer Night's Dream he happen'd to take at Crendon * in Bucks. I think, I have been told, that he left near three hundred pounds to a fuler, He understood Latin pretty well, For he had been in his younger years a schoolmaster in the country.”
I will be short in my animadversions; and take them in their order.
The account of the trade of the family is not only contrary to all other tradition, but, as it may seem, to the instrument from the Herald's oifice, fo frequently reprinted. Shakespeare most certainly went to London, and commence ed actor through neceffity, not natural inclination. ---Nor have we any reason to suppose, that he did act, exceedinging well. Rowe tells us from the information of Betterton, who was inquisitive into this point, and had very early opportunities of enquiry from Sir W. Davenant, that he was no extraordinary attor; and that the top of his performance was the Ghost in his own Hamlet. Yet this chef d'oeuvre did not please: I will give you an original stroke at it. Dr. Lodge, who was for ever pestering the town with pamphlets, published in the year 1996, 1its Miferie, and the Worlds
* This place is not met srith in Spelman's Villare, or in Adam's Index; nor in the first and the lali performance of this fort, Speed's Tables, and Whatley's Gazetteer: perhaps, however, it may be ineant under the name of Crandon ;- but the inquiry is of no importance. It should, I think, be written Credendon; though bet. ter antiquaries than Aubrey have acquiefced in the vulgar corrup
as phe theatre, like a supposed proolon after 1597, Ohi be the
Madnesse, discovering the Devils incarnat of this Age, 4to. Onie of these devils is Hate-virtue, or Sorrow for another man's good su celle, who, says the doctor, is “ a foule lubber, and looks as pale as the visard of the Ghost, which cried so miserably at the theatre, like an oister-wife, Hamlet revenge *.” Thus you see Mr. Holt's supposed proof, in the appendix to the late edition, that Hamlet was written after 1597, or perhaps 1602, will by no means hold good; whatever might be the case of the particular passage on which it is founded.
Nor does it appear, that Shakespeare did begin early to make elays in dramatique poetry: the Arraignment of Paris, 1584, which hath so often been afcribed to him on the credit of Kirkman and Winstanley t, was written by George Peele; and Shakespeare is not met with, even as an alliftant, 'till at least seven years afterward 1. - Nash in his epistle to
To this observation of Dr. Farmer it may be added, that the play of Hamlet was better known by this scene, than by any other. In Decker's Satiromastix the following passage occurs.
Afinius. “ Would I were hang'd if I can call you any names but cap. tain, and Tucca."
Tucca. 6 No, fye; my name's Hamlet Revenge: thou hast been at Paris Garden, hait thou not?”
Again, in Weft-vard Hoe, by Decker and Webster, 1607. • Let there husbands play mad Hamlet, and cry revenge!”
STEEVENS. Dr. Farmer's observation may be further confirmed by the following passage in an anonymous play, called A Warning for faire Women, 1599. We also learn from it the usual dress of the itage ghosts of that time.
" . A filthie whining ghost
66 And cries vindišta-revenge, revenge." The leathern pilch, I suppose, was a theatrical substitute for armour.
MALONE. i These people, who were the Curls of the last age, ascribe likewise to our author those miserable performances, Mucedorus, and the Merry Devil of Edmonton.
I Mr. Pope allerts “ The troublesome Raigne of King Jobu,'' in 2 parts, 1011, to have been written by Shakespeare and Row. ler:--which edition is a mere copy of another in black letter, 1591. But I find his allertion is fomewhat to be doubted: for the old edi. tion hath no nane of auihor at all; and that of 1611, the initials only, Il. Si, in the title-page.