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“ fasbions. Let it be remembered, too, that only popular, but approved by persons of the “ we receive this tale on no higher authorily higher order, as we are certain that he enjoyed “ than that of Cibber's Lives of the Poels, the gracious favour of queen Elizabeth, who “ vol. i. p. 130. Sir William Davenant lold was very fond of the stage; and the particular “ it lo Mr. Betterton, who communicated it to and affectionate patronage of the earl of South“ Mr. Rowe, who, according to Dr. Johnson, ampton, to whom he dedicated his poem of “ related it to Mr. Pope.”
“ Venus and Adonis," and his “Rape of LuMr. Malone concurs in opinion that this crece.” On Sir William Davenant's authority, story stands on a very slender foundation, while it has been asserted that this nobleman at one he differs with Mr. Steevens as to the fact of lime gave him a thousand pounds to enable him gentlemen going to the theatre on horseback. to complete a purchase. This anecdote Mr. With respect to Shakspeare's father “being Malone thinks extravagantly exaggerated, and engaged in a lucrative business," we may re- considers it as far more likely that he might mark that this could not have been the case at have presented the poet with an bundred pounds the lime our author came to London. He is in relurn for his dedications. said to have arrived in London in 1586, the At the conclusion of the adverlisement preyear in which bis father resigned the office of fixed to Lintot's edition of Shakspeare's poems, alderman, and was in decayed circumstances. it is said, "that most learned prince and great
But in whatever situation he was first em- patron of learning, king James the First, ployed at the theatre, he appears to have soon was pleased with bis own hand to write an discovered those talents which afterwards made “ amicable letter to Mr. Shakspeare: which him
“ lelter, though now lost, remained long in the
“ bands of sir William Davenant, as a credible •The applause ! delight ! the wonder of our stage !"
person now living can testify,” Dr. Farmer
with great probability supposes, that this letter Some distinction he probably first acquired was wrillen by King James in relurn for the as an actor, although Mr. Rowe was not able compliment paid to him in Macbeth. The to discover any character in which he appeared relalor of this anecdote was Shellield, duke of to more advantage than that of the ghost in Buckingham. These brief notices, meagre as Hamlet. The instructions given to the players they are, may show that our author enjoyed in that tragedy, and other passages of his works, high favour in his day. Whatever some may show an intimate acquaintance with the skill of think of king James as a "learned prince,” his acting, and such as is scarcely surpassed in our patronage, as well as that of his predecessor, own days. appears to have studied nature was sufficient to give celebrity to the founder in acting as much as in writing. Mr. Malone, of a new stage. It inay be added, that Shakhowever, does not believe that he played parls speare's uncommon merit, his candour, and of the first rale, though he probably distin- good- nature are supposed to have procured guished himself by whalever he performed; him the admiration and acquaintance of every and the distinction which he oblained could person distinguished for such qualities. It only be in bis own plays, in which he would be is not difficult, indeed, to suppose that Shakassisted by the novel appearance of author and speare was a man of humour and a social comaetor combined. Before his time, it does not panion, and probably excelled in that species appear that any actor could avail himself of the of minor wit pot ill adapted to conversation, of wretched pieces represented on the stage. which it could bave been wished he bad been
Mr. Rowe regrels that he cannot inform us more sparing in his writings. which was the first play he wrote, nor is that How long he acted has not been discovered, a point yet determined. Mr. Malone, in his but he continued to write till the year 1614. first edition, appears to have attained something | During his dramatic career he acquired a proconclusive; but in his last edition, he has perty in the theatre,* which he must have dischanged the dates of so many of the plays, that posed of when he retired, as no mention occurs we can only refer to the lists given at the end of it in his will. His connection with Ben of his History of the Stage. The progress of Jonson has been variously related. It is said Sbakspeare's taste or genius, it seems to be
* In 1603 he and several others obtained a license impossible to ascertain with any certainly.
from king James to exhibit comedies, tragedies, His plays, however, must have been not histories, &c. at the Globe Theatre and elsewhere.
that when Jonson was unknown to the world, per annum ; a sum at least equal lo 10001. in he offered a play to the theatre, which was re- our days; but Mr. Malone doubes whether all jected after a very careless perusal, but that his property amounted to much more than Shakspeare having accidentally cast his eye on 2001. per annum, which yet was a considerable il, conceived a favourable opinion of it, and fortune in those times; and it is supposed that afterwards recommended Jonson and bis wril- he might have derived 2001. per annum from ings to the public. For this candour he is the theatre while connecled with it. said to have been repaid by Jonson, when the He retired about four years (1611 or 1612) laller became a poet of note, with an envious before his death, to a house in Stralford, of disrespect. Jonson acquired reputation by the which it has been thought important to give the variety of his pieces, and endeavoured to arro- history. It was built by sir Hugh Clopton, a gate the supremacy in dramatic genius. Like younger brother of an ancient family in that a French critic, he insinuated Shakspeare's in- neighbourhood. Sir Hugh was sheriff of Loncorrectness, his careless manner of writing, and don in the reign of Richard III., and lordhis want of judgment; and, as he was a remark- mayor in that of Henry VII. By his will he able slow writer himself, he could not endure bequeathed to his elder brother's son his manor the praise frequently bestowed on Shakspeare, or Clopłon, &c., and his house by the name of the viz. that be seldom altered or blolled out what Great House in Stratford.* A good part of he had written. Mr. Malone says, that, “not the estate was in possession of Edward Clopton, " long after the year 1600, a coolness arose Esq. and sir Hugh Clopton, Kint. in 1733. The " between Shakspeare and him, which, bow- principal estate had been sold out of the Cloplon " ever he may talk of bis almost idolatrous family for above a century, at the time when “ affection, produced, on his part, from that Shakspeare became the purchaser; who, having ** time to the death of our author and for repaired and modelled it to his own mind, " many years afterwards, much clumsy sarcasm changed the name to New Place, which the " and many malevolent reflections.” But from mansion-house, afterwards erected in the room these, which were until lately the commonly of the poet's house, retained for many years. received traditions on this subject, the learned The house and lands belonging to it continued Dr. Farmer was inclined to depart; and to in the possession of Shakspeare's descendants think Jonson's hostility to Shakspeare absolutely lo the time of the Restoration, when they were groundless: and this opinion bas been amply repurchased by the Cloplon family. Here in confirmed by modern crilics.
May, 1742, when Mr. Garrick, Mr. Macklin, Jonson had only one advantage over Sbak- and Mr. Delane visited Stratford, they were speare, that of superior learning, which might, hospitably entertained under Shakspeare's mulin certain situations, give him a superior rank, berry-tree by Sir Hugh Cloplon. He was a but could never promote his rivalship with a barrister-at-law, was knighted by king George l., man who attained the highest excellence without and died in the eightieth year of his age, in il. Nor will Shakspeare suffer by its being Dec. 1751. His executor, about the year 1752, knows, that all the dramatic poels before he sold New Place to the Rev. Mr. Gastrell, a man appeared were scholars. Greene, Lodge, Peele, of large fortune, who resided in it but a few Marlow, Nashe, Lily, and Kid, had all, says years, inconsequence of a disagreement with the Mr. Malone, a regular university education; inhabitants of Stratford : as he resided part of and, as scholars in our universities, frequently the year at Lichfield, he thought he was assessed composed and acted plays on historical sub- too highly in the monthly rate towards the jects. *
maintenance of the poor; but being very proThe latter part of Shakspeare’s life was spent perly compelled by the magistrales of Stratford in ease, retirement, and the conversation of his to pay the whole of what was levied on him, on friends. He had accumulated considerable pro- the principle that his house was occupied by his perty, which Gildon (in his “ Lellers and servanls in his absence, he peevishly declared, Essays” in 1694,) stated to amount to 3001.
• The account of this house in Malone's ShakThis was the practice in Milton's days. “One speare, 1821, is the same which appeared in his * of his objections to academical education, as it edition of 1790, but which he probably would *was then conducted, is, that men designed for have corrected, had he seen some further infororders in the church were permitted to act mation on the subject, by Mr. Wheler, in Gent. *plays, &c. Johnson's wife of Milton.
Mag. vol. Ixxix. and vol. Ixxx.
ihal lhat house should never be assessed again ; 1 The sharpness of the satire is said to have stung and soon afterwards pulled it down, sold the ihe man so severely that he never forgave it. materials, and left the town. He had some These lines, however, or some which nearly time before cut down Shakspeare's mulberry- resembled them, appeared in various collectrec,* to save himself the trouble of showing it lions, both before and after the time when they to those whose admiration of our great poet led were said to have been composed; and the inthem to visit the classic ground on which it quiries of Mr. Steevens and Mr. Malone satisstood. That Shakspeare planted this tree ap- factorily prove that ibe whole story is a fabricapears to be sufficiently authenticated. Where lion. Betterton is said to have heard it when New Place stood is now a garden. Before con- he visited Warwickshire on purpose to collect cluding this history, it may be necessary to anecdotes of our poet, and probably thought mention that the poet's bouse was once honoured it of too much importance to be picely examined. by the temporary residence of Henrietta Maria, We know not whether it be worth adding of queen to Charles I. Theobald has given an a story which we have rejected, that a usurer, inaccurate account of this, as if she had been in Shakspeare's time, did not mean one who obliged to take refuge in Stratford from the took exorbitant, but any interest or usuance for rebels : but that was not the case. She marched money, and that ten in the hundred, or len per from Newark, June 16, 1643, and entered cent., was then the ordinary interest of money. Stratford triumphantly about the 22d of the It would have been of more consequence, howsame month, at the head of 3000 foot and ever, to have here recorded the opinion of Mr. 1,500 horse, with 150 waggons and a train of Malone, in his first edition, that Shakspeare, artillery. Here she was met by prince Rupert, during his retirement, wrote the play of Twelfth accompanied by a large body of troops. She Night; but unfortunately, in his last edition, he resided about three weeks at our poet's house, carried the date of this play back to the year which was then possessed by his grand-daugh- 1607. ler, Mrs. Nash, and her husband.
Shakspeare died on his birth-day, Tuesday, During Shakspeare's abode in this house, his April 23, 1616, when he had exactly compleasurable wit, and good nature, says Mr. pleted his fifty-second year ,* and was buried Rowe, engaged him the acquaintance, and en- on the north side of the chancel, in the great tilled him to the friendship of the gentlemen of church at Stratford, where a monument is the neighbourhood. This may be readily be placed in the wall, on which he is represented lieved, for he was entitled to their respect. He under an arch, in a sitting posture, a cushion had left his native place, poor, and almost un-placed before him, with a pen in his right known. He returned ennobled by fame, and hand, and his left rested on a scroll of paper. enriched by fortune.
The following Latin distich is engraved under Mr. Rowe gives us a traditional story of a the cushion :miser, or usurer, named Combe, who, in conversation with Shakspeare, said, he fancied the Judicio Pylium, genio Socratem, arte Maronem, poet intended to write his epitaph if he should
Terra tegit, populus mæret, Olympus habet. survive him, and desired to know what he “ The first syllable in "Socratem,' says meant to say. On this Shakspeare gave him “ Steevens, is here made short, wbicb cannot lhe following, probably extempore :
“ be allowed. Perhaps we should read 'SoTen in the hundred lies here engravid,
“ phoclem. Shakspeare is then appositely « Tis an hundred to ten his soul is not say'd ; If any man ask, who lies in this tombe ?
“ compared with a dramatic author among Oh! oh! quoth the devil, 'tis my John-a-Combe.
" the ancients : but still it should be remem** As the curiosity of this house and tree brought“ bered that the eulogium is lessened while much fame, and more company and profit to the “ the metre is reformed ; and it is well known towa, a certain man, on some disgust, has pulled " that some of our early writers of Latin poetry the house down, so as not to leave one stone upon another, and cut down the tree, and piled it as a
were uncommonly negligent in their prosody, stack of firewood, to the great vexation, loss, and
especially in proper names. The thought disappointment of the inhabitants ; however, an honest silversmith bought the whole stack of wood, * The only notice we have of his person is and makes many odd things of this wood for the from Aubrey, who says, “he was a handsome curious.” Letter in Annual Register, 1760. Of well-shaped man,” and adds, “verie good com Mr. Gastrell and his Lady see Boswell's Life of “pany, and of a very ready, and pleasant, and Dr. Johnson, vol. ii. p. 456. edit. 1822. 4 vol. - smooth wit."
" of this distich, as Mr. Tollet observes, might band. Judith, Shakspeare's youngest daughter, ** have been taken from the Faëry Queene of was married, February 10, 1615-16, to a Mr. ** Spenser, B. II. c. ix. st. 48., and c. X. Thomas Quiney, and died February 1661-62, ** st. s.
in her 77th year. By Mr. Quiney she had ** To this Latin inscription on Shakspeare three sons, Shakspeare, Richard, and Thomas, “may be added the lines which are found un- who all died unmarried, and here the descend** derneath it on his monument :
ants of our poet became extinct.
Sir Hugh Clopton, who was born two years * Stay, passenger, why dost thou go so fast? Read, if thou canst, whom envious death hath plac'd
after the death of lady Barnard, which hapWithin this monument; Shakspeare, with whom pened in 1669-70, related lo Mr. Macklin, in Quick Dature dy'd; whose name doth deck the tomb Par more than cost ; since all that he bath writ 174., an old tradition, that she had carried Leares living art but page to serve his wit."
away with her from Stratford many of her - Obiit Ano. Dni. 1616. æt. 53, die 23 Apri."
grandfather's papers. On the death of sir
John Barnard, Mr. Malone thought "these "It appears from the verses of Leonard
“ must have fallen into the hands of Mr. “ Digges, that our author's monument was
“ Edward Bagley, lady Barnard's executor, " erected before the year 1623. It has been " and if any descendant of that gentleman be ** engraved by Vertue, and done in mezzolinto
now living, in his custody they probably re" by Miller.”
“main.” But Mr. Malone, in his last ediOn his grave-stone underneath are these lion, tacitly confesses, that he has been able to lines, in an uncouth mixture of small and ca- make no discovery of such descendant, or such pital letters :
papers. Good Friend for lesus SAKE forbeare
To this account of Shakspeare's family we To dice T-E Dust Enclo Ased HERE
have now to add, that among Oldys's papers is Blese be T-E Manspares T-Es Stones
another traditional story of our illustrious poet's Aod curst be He y moves my Bones.»
having been the father of sir William DaveIt is uncertain whether this request and im- nant. Oldys's relation is thus given : precation were written by Shakspeare, or by “If tradition may be trusted, Shakspeare one of his friends. They probably allude io osten bailed at the Crown Inn or Tavern in the custom of removing skeletons after a certain “ Oxford, in his journey to and from London ; time, and depositing them in charnel-houses ; “ the landlady was a woman of great beauty and similar execrations are found in many an- " and sprightly wit, and her husband, Mr. cient Lalin epitaphs. Shakspeare's remains, " John Davenant (afterwards mayor of that however, have been ever carefully protected city), a grave melancholy man; wbo, as well from injury.*
as his wife, used much to delight in ShakWe have no account of the malady which at “ speare's pleasant company. no very advanced age closed the life and labours “ young Will. Davenant (afterwards sir Wilof this unrivalled and incomparable genius. “ liam), was then a little school-boy in the
His family consisted of two daughters, and a lown, of about seven or eight years old, and son named Hamnet, who died in 1596, in the “ so fond also of Shakspeare, that whenever he twelfth year of his age. Susannah, the eldest “ heard of his arrival, he would fly from school daughter, and her father's favourite, was " to see him. One day an old townsman obmarried, June 5, 1607, lo Dr. John Hall, a “ serving the boy running homeward almost physician, who died Nov. 1635, aged 60. " out of breath, asked bim whither he was Mrs. Hall died July 11, 1649, aged 66. They “ posting in that heat and hurry. He anleft only one child, Elizabelh, born 1607-8, “ swered, to see his god-father Shakspeare. and married April 22, 1626, to Thomas Nashe, “ There's a good boy, said the other, but have Esq., who died in 1647, and afterwards to sir a care that you don't take God's pame in Jobo Barnard, of Abingdon, in Northampton-“ vain. This story Mr. Pope told me at the sbire, but died without issue by either hus- " earl of Oxford's table, upon occasion of
“ some discourse which arose about ShakMr. Malone's causing the bust to be painted “speare's monument, then newly erected in white has been severely censured; he did not • Westminster Abbey." live to defend it. See this and other information respecting this bust in Gent. Mag vol. lxxxv.
This story appears to have originated with and lxxxvi.
Anthony Wood, and it has been thoughl a
Their son, presumption of its being true, that, after care-than that of any other man who has lived in ful examination, Mr. Thomas Warton was in-retirement, but if, as is generally the case with clined to believe it. Mr. Steevens, however, writers of great celebrity, he has acquired a pretreats it with the utmost contempt, but does not eminence over his contemporaries, if he has perhaps argue with his usual attention to ex. i excited rival contentions, and defeated the atperience when he brings sir William Dave- tacks of crilicism or of malignity, or if he has nant's “heavy, vulgar, unmeaning face," as a plunged into the controversies of his age, and proof that he could not be Shakspeare's son. performed the part either of a tyrant or a hero
In the year 1741 a monument was erected to in literature, his history may be rendered as inour poet in Westminster Abbey, by the direction teresting as that of any other public character. of the earl of Burlinglon, Dr. Mead, Mr. Pope. But whatever weight may be allowed to this and Mr. Martyn. It was the work of Schee- remark, the decision will not be of much conmaker (who received 3001. for it), after a de- sequence in the case of Shakspeare. Unforsign of Kent, and was opened in January of tunately, we know as little of his writings as of that year, one hundred and twenty-five years his personal history. The industry of his ilafter the death of him whom it commemorates, lastrators for the last fifty years is such as, and whose genius appears to have been for- probably, never was surpassed in the annals of gotten during almost the whole of that long literary investigation ; yet so far are we from period. The performers of each of the London information of the conclusive or satisfactory theatres gave a benefit to defray the expenses, kind, that even the order in which his plays and the dean and chapter of Westminster took were written rests principally on conjecture, nothing for the ground. The money received and of some plays usually printed among his by the performance at Drury-lane theatre works, it is not yet determined whether he amounted to above 2001., but the receipts at wrote the whole or any part Covent-Garden did not exceed 1001.
Much of our ignorance of every thing which From these imperfect notices, which are all it would be desirable to know respecting Shakwe have been able to collect from the labours of speare's works, must be imputed to the author his biographers and commentators, our readers himself. If we look merely at the state in will perceive that less is known of Shakspeare which he left his productions, we should be than of almost any writer who has been con- apt to conclude, either that he was insensible sidered as an object of laudable curiosily. No- of their value, or that while he was the greatest, thing could be more bighly gratifying than an he was at the same time the humblest dramatic account of the early studies of this wonderful writer the world ever produced : “ that he man, the progress of his pen, his moral and " thought his works unworthy of posterity, social qualities, his friendships, his failings, and " that he levied no ideal tribute upon future whatever else constitutes personal history. But “ times, nor had any further prospect than that on all these topics his contemporaries and his “ of present popularity and present profit." immediate successors have been equally silent, and such an opinion, although it apparently and if aught can be hereafter discovered, it partakes of the ease and looseness of conjecture, must be by exploring sources which have may not be far from probability. But before bitherto escaped the anxious researches of those we allow it any higher merit, or attempt to dewho have devoted their whole lives, and their cide upon the affection or indifference with most vigorous talents, lo revive his memory which he reviewed bis labours, it may be neand illustrate his writings. In the sketch we cessary to consider their precise nalure, and have given, if the dates of bis birth and death certain circumstances in his situation which be excepted, wbat is there on which the reader a Crected them; and, above all, we must take can depend, or for wbich, if he contend eagerly, into our account the character and predominant he may not be involved in controversy, and occupations of the time in which he lived, and perplexed with contradictory opinions and au- of that which followed his decease. thorities ?
With respect to himself, it does not appear It is usually said that the life of an author that he printed any one of his plays, and only can be little else than a bistory of his works ; eleven of them were printed in his life-time. but this opinion is liable to many exceptions. The reason assigned for this is, that he wrote Ir an author, indeed, has passed his days in retirement, his life can afford little more variely
* Dr. Johnson's Preface.