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thereof; as bis house, a is remarkab bachelor, a he left bocht ford, he beq nage of poor London and a donations in had purchası estate of the elder brother how well bent hand in wise yet in the pos Hugh Clopto brother of the queathed to the name of

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together with a causeway running at the west-end thereof; as also for rebuilding the chapel adjoining to his house, and the cross-aisle in the church there. It is remarkable of him, that, though he lived and died a bachelor, among the other extensive charities which he left both to the city of London and town of Stratford, he bequeathed considerable legacies for the marriage of poor maidens of good name and fame both in London and at Stratford. Notwithstanding which large donations in his life, and bequests at his death, as he had purchased the manor of Clopton, and all the estate of the family, so he left the same again to his elder brother's son with a very great addition (a proof how well beneficence and æconomy may walk hand in hand in wise families): good part of which estate is yet in the possession of Edward Clopton, esq. and Sir Hugh Clopton, knt. lineally descended from the elder brother of the first Sir Hugh, who particularly be. queathed to his nephew, by his will, his house, by the name of his Great House in Stratford.

The estate had now been sold out of the Clopton fa. mily for above a century, at the time when Shakspere became the purchaser; who, having repaired and modeiled it to his own mind, changed the name to New-Place, which the mansion-house, since erected upon the same spot, at this day retains. The house and lands, which attended it, continued in Shakspeve's descendants to the time of the Restoration ; when they were repurchased by the Clopton family, and the mansion now belongs to Sir Hugh Clopton, knt. To [ Ꭰ ij .

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the favour of this worthy gentleman I owe the know. ledge of one particular, in honour of our poet's once dwelling-house, of which, I presume, Mr. Rowe never was apprized. When the civil war raged in England, and king Charles the First's queen was driven by the necessity of affairs to make a recess in Warwickshire, she kept her court for three weeks in New-Place. We may reasonably suppose it then the best private house in the town; and her majesty preferred it to the college, which was in the possession of the Combe family, who did not so strongly favour the king's party.

How much our author employed himself in poetry, after his retirement from the stage, does not so evi.. dently appear : very few posthumous sketches of his pen have been recovered to ascertain that point. We have been told, indeed, in print *, but not till very lately, that two large chests full of this great man's loose papers and manuscripts, in the hands of an ignonorant baker of Warwick (who married one of the descendants from our Shakspere), were carelessly scattered and thrown about as garret-lumber and litter, to the particular knowledge of the late Sir William Bishop, till they were all consumed in the general fire and destruction of that town. I cannot help being a little apt to distrust the authority of this tradition, because his wife survived him seven years; and, as his

* See an answer to Mr. Pope's Preface to Shakspere, by a Strolling Player, 8vo. 1729, p. 45.

REED. favourite

favourite daughter Susanna survived her twenty-six years, it is very improbable they should suffer such a treasure to be removed, and translated into a remoter branch of the family, without a scrutiny first made into the value of it. This, I say, inclines me to distrust the authority of the relation : but, notwithstanding such an apparent improbability, if we really lost such a treasure, by whatever fatality or caprice of fortune they came into such ignorant and neglectful hands, I agree with the relater, the misfortune is wholly irreparable.

To these particulars, which regard his person and private life, some few more are to be gleaned from Mr. Rowe's Account of his Life and Writings: let us now take a short view of him in his publick capacity as a writer : and, from thence, the transition will be easy to the state in which his writings have been handed down to us.

No age, perhaps, can produce an author more var .. rious from himself, than Shakspere has been universally acknowledged to be, The diversity in style, and a other parts of composition, so obvious in him, is as variously to be accounted for. His education, we find, was at best but begun: and he started early into a science from the force of genius, unequally assisted by acquired improvements. His fire, spirit, and exuberance of imagination, gave an impetuosity to his pen : his ideas flowed from him in a stream rapid, but not turbulent; copious, but not ever overbearing its

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shores. The ease and sweetness of his temper might
not a little contribute to his facility in writing ; as his
employment, as a player, gave him an advantage and
habit of fancying himself the very character he meant
to delineate. He used the helps of his function in
forming himself to create and express that sublime,
which other actors can only copy, and throw out, in
action and graceful attitude. But, Nullum sine veniâ
placuit ingenium, says Seneca. The genius, that gives
us the greatest pleasure, sometimes stands in need of
our indulgence. Whenever this happens with regard
to Shakspere, I would willingly impute' it to a vice of
his times. We see complaisance enough, in our days,
paid to a bad taste. So that his clinches, false wit, and
descending beneath himself, may have proceeded from
a deference paid to the then reigning barbarism.

I have not thought it out of my province, whenever occasion offered, to take notice of some of our poet's grand touches of nature; some, that do not appear sufficiently such, but in which he seems the most deeply instructed ; and to which, no doubt, he has so much owed that happy preservation of his characters, for which he is justly celebrated. Great geniuses, like his, naturally unambitious, are satisfied to conceal their art in these points. It is the foible of your worser poets to make a parade and ostentation of that little science they have ; and to throw it out in the most ambitious colours. And whenever a writer of this class shall attempt to copy, these artful conceal. ments of our author, and shall either think them easy,

or

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