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THE COMPANION.

No. XIV. WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9, 1828.

66 Something alone yet not alone, to be wished, and only to be found, in a friend."-SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE.

SIR WILLIAM DAVENANT.

It is among the objects of the Companion, from time to time, to look into the more curious particulars in the lives of celebrated poets and wits, especially where a settlement of them appears to be wanting. It is remarkable, on turning over biographies even of the greatest repute (Dr Johnson's for one), to see how contented the authors are to repeat what has been told before them, searching for little or nothing in addition, and only giving some new turn of words to the style. We do not mean to undervalue the criticism of Johnson, up to a certain pitch. His remarks on the town poets and all beneath them are as masterly, as those upon the higher ones are now understood to be defective and uninformed. But like other biographers, he avoids trouble. He errs also, as Hume did in his History, in omitting anecdotes and characteristics, some of them of the most interesting description, as if he thought them too trifling to mention; a mistake, more surprising even in Johnson than Hume; for the former was a good table companion; whereas we know of nothing to that effect about the philosopher, except the good round stomach which he condescended to have.

If the reader took up Johnson's Lives, and compared them with what might have been added to the stock of amusement, by a dili

VOL. I.

14

SONNETS.*

NOON.

How all the spirits of Nature love to greet,
In mystic recognition from the grass,
And cloud, and spray-a warm and vivid clas
The eagle-tiring Noon: around whose feet
The glories of the brimfull summer meet;
That reeling Time beholds his sober glass
Turn to a goblet-and the sands that pas
Seem drops of living wine. Oh! this
To see the heavens all open, and the r
Of crystal Noon flung back :-the ea
Filling her veins with sunshine-vit
Of all that now from her full breas
(Casting no shadow) on that pleas
Of light, where every mote is sor

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To one that marks the quick
Of year on year, and finds h
Brings its gray hair, or bea
From the full glory with y
Ere youth becomes a sha
Surely to one that feels
Unsure, the bright and
Of Time points far ab
Of pride that perishes
To loftier objects an
A tranquil strength
A knowledge of ou
A sympathy for a

ecord. We begin with some f whom a curious question has As a son of Shakspeare's. By the a with people's proper names, if all ad their family pretensions inquired of peers! What abdicating of monarchs! With cheerful lo and Jenkinses would suddenly be found

and Marquisses! How many poor wits brothers! And alas! how many footmen. or

Perhaps there is not a dynasty in Europe

These two sonnets "young." They are ve reminds us of the late M with it, that, unfortuna but we cannot wish hi

The preservation of tcepted) which has any right to the throne. A

suffice to produce a a golden planet.the favours he spe

?

his predecessor; but what of grandfathers and And what of the good old times of Jesuits, Petits-Maitres, and Carpet-Knights, and

wisp and wh

Comtoig od

TW

Air Harte, and Broome, and the Watts,-all clergyo clergyman, ought to ched the town deaf with

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Aye," returned Henry:

Musicians? Somebody, speaking to Henry IV of France, James the First a Solomon. the son of David." "Was your mother ever at Rome?" gustus of a young man who resembled him. "No, Sir; ather was. Many poets, it is presumed, would be found little pretension to their own names, as a multitude of

other lively people; except that they generally come out of middle" Davenant's case is certainly

life, where the manners are staider. not made out, as he wished it to be.

Was Davenant the Natural Son of Shakspeare?

This poet, who united in a more than ordinary degree the active with the contemplative life, and went through a greater number of adventures than falls to the lot of most of his brethren, was born at Oxford, in February 1605, and was the son of John Davenant, a citizen of repute, who kept an inn or tavern in that city. The biographers have not noticed the deduction; but as he had a brother who became chaplain to Bishop Davenant, it is not unlikely that the family were of the same ancient stock of the Davenants of Sible Heningham and Davenants-lands in Essex. Wit and scandal, however, have interfered to give him a profaner genealogy.

Shakspeare, it seems, used to put up at Mr Davenant's house in his journies between Stratford and London; and Mr Davenant being a very grave personage, though fond of the drama, and Mrs Davenant on the other hand being equally lively and beautiful, and a woman of good wit and conversation, it has been conjectured that Sir William had more reasons for the talents that were in him than the honest vintner had warrant for laying claim to. A story is related of little Davenant's being met in the streets of Oxford by an acquaintance, who, asking him where he was going in such a hurry, was told, "To see my godfather Shakspeare;" upon which the other advised him to be cautious how he took the name of God in vain.

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Biographers have very properly called for proofs of this illustrious piece of gossip. Some, with not so much reason, have found arefutation of it in the manners of the time, and the opinions of the great poet of nature himself. What the manners of the time were, at least in those quarters where licence is usually to be found, the memoirs both of court and stage sufficiently inform us; and without entering any deeper into the question as to Shakspeare's opinions, there is no reason to conclude, from what he has left us of them, that such a circumstance would have been absolutely impossible. Thomas Warton was inclined to believe it.

B

gent perusal of the works of the poets, he would be surprised to find how much the latter process can bring forth. Let him compare Gray for instance, or even Akenside. Pursuits, connexions, pieces of auto-biography, or helps to it, are all overlooked. In these two cases, political prejudice interposed to encourage the Doctor's indolence. In others, the want of relish for the finest poetry enabled him to omit some of the greatest names altogether; as his want of animal spirits did some of the most delightful, and his politics others. We have no Chaucer, no Spenser, no Suckling, no Andrew Marvell; but on the other hand we have Sprat.. Sprat, though a minnow among the Tritons, was a bishop on dry land. There is also the Reverend Mr Stepney, and the Reverend Mr Harte, and the Reverend Mr Pitt, and the Reverend Mr Broome, and the Reverend Dr Yalden, and the Reverend Dr Watts,-all clergymen; and there is Mr Hughes, who though no clergyman, ought to have been one; and Blackmore, who preached the town deaf with bad poetry.

But we are wandering out of the record.-We begin with some passages in the life of Davenant, of whom a curious question has been raised, whether or not he was a son of Shakspeare's. By the way, what havoc would be made with people's proper names, if all whose lives were noticed, had their family pretensions inquired into! What plebeianizing of peers! What abdicating of monarchs ! How many Tomkinses and Jenkinses would suddenly be found figuring among Dukes and Marquisses! How many poor wits patronized by their brothers! And alas! how many footmen ordering about theirs! Perhaps there is not a dynasty in Europe (one, of course, excepted) which has any right to the throne. A prince may be like his predecessor; but what of grandfathers and great-grandfathers? And what of the good old times of Jesuits, and Confessors, and Petits-Maitres, and Carpet-Knights, and Chamber-Musicians? Somebody, speaking to Henry IV of France, called our James the First a Solomon. "Aye," returned Henry; "Solomon, the son of David." " Was your mother ever at Rome?" inquired Augustus of a young man who resembled him. "No, Sir; but my father was." Many poets, it is presumed, would be found to have as little pretension to their own names, as a multitude of

other lively people; except that they generally come out of middle' Davenant's case is certainly

life, where the manners are staider. not made out, as he wished it to be.

Was Davenant the Natural Son of Shakspeare?

C

This poet, who united in a more than ordinary degree the active with the contemplative life, and went through a greater number of adventures than falls to the lot of most of his brethren, was born at Oxford, in February 1605, and was the son of John Davenant, a citizen of repute, who kept an inn or tavern in that city. The biographers have not noticed the deduction; but as he had a brother who became chaplain to Bishop Davenant, it is not unlikely that the family were of the same ancient stock of the Davenants of Sible Heningham and Davenants-lands in Essex. Wit and scandal, however, have interfered to give him a profaner genealogy.

Shakspeare, it seems, used to put up at Mr Davenant's house in his journies between Stratford and London; and Mr Davenant being a very grave personage, though fond of the drama, and Mrs Davenant on the other hand being equally lively and beautiful,

a woman of good wit and conversation, it has been conjectured that Sir William had more reasons for the talents that were in' him than the honest vintner had warrant for laying claim to. A story is related of little Davenant's being met in the streets of Oxford by an acquaintance, who, asking him where he was going in such a hurry, was told, "To see my godfather Shakspeare;" úpon which the other advised him to be cautious how he took the name of God in vain.

P

Biographers have very properly called for proofs of this illustrious piece of gossip. Some, with not so much reason, have found arefutation of it ́in the manners of the time, and the opinions of the great poet of nature himself. What the manners of the time were, at least in those quarters where licence is usually to be found, the memoirs both of court and stage sufficiently inform us; and without entering any deeper into the question as to Shakspeare's opinions, there is no reason to conclude, from what he has left us of them, that such a circumstance would have been absolutely impossible. Thomas Warton was inclined to believe it.

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