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applying at the Herald's Office for a renewal of his grant of
arms, and described as a Justice of the Peace, and one pos-
sessing lands and tenements to the amount of £500. That
this restoration of Mr. John Shakspeare's affairs originated
in the filial piety of his son, appears evident, from our knowl-
edge that the branch of traffic with which his circumstances
in life were inseparably connected, was at that period in its
most extreme state of depression.

The kindness of Shakspeare was not restricted to his family; and the only letter which remains out of the many he must have received, is one from his townsman, Richard Quincy, requesting, in terms that speak him confident of success, the loan of thirty pounds, a sum in those days by no means inconsiderable.

" and

Pecuniary emolument and literary reputation were not the
only reward that our poet received for his labors: the smiles
of royalty itself shone upon him. "Queen Elizabeth," says
Rowe, "Gave him many gracious marks of her favor;
so delighted was she with the character of Falstaff, that she
desired our author to continue it in another play, and exhibit
him in love. To this command we owe The Merry Wives of
Windsor. Dennis adds, that, from the Queen's eagerness to
see it acted," she commanded it to be finished in fourteen
days, and was afterwards, as tradition tells us, very well
pleased with the representation." If Queen Elizabeth was
pleased to direct the course of our author's imagination, with
her successor he was a distinguished favorite: and James the
First, whose talents and judgment have deserved more re-
spect than they have received, wrote him a letter with his
own hand, which was long in the possession of Sir W.
D'Avenant. Dr. Farmer supposes this letter to have been
written in return for the compliment paid the monarch in
Macbeth; but he has overlooked an equally probable occa-
sion. The Tempest was written for the festivities that at-
tended the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth with the
Prince Palatine; and was performed at court in the begin-
ning of the year 1613. In the island Princess, Miranda, Shak-
speare undoubtedly designed a poetic representative of the
virgin and high-born bride; in the royal and learned Prospero,

we may trace a complimentary allusion to the literary character and mysterious studies of her royal father; and it is at all events as likely that the letter of James to Shakspeare should have had reference to The Tempest as to Macbeth. Our author seems to have formed a more correct estimate of the talents of his sovereign, than that which we have blindly received and adopted on the authority of his political enemies, the Nonconformists; and in a MS. volume of poems, which was purchased by Boswell, the following complimentary lines are preserved.


"Crownes have their compass, length of dayes their date,
Triumphes their tombs, felicity her fate;

Of more than earth cann earth make none partaker ;
But knowledge makes the king most like his Maker."

Thus honored and applauded by the great, the intercourse of Shakspeare with that bright band and company of gifted spirits, which ennobled the reigns of Elizabeth and James by their writings, must have been a source of the highest intellectual delight. The familiarity with which they seem to have communicated; the constant practice of uniting their powers in the completion of a joint production; the unvarying admiration with which they rejoiced in the triumphs of their literary companions, and introduced the compositions of one another to the world by recommendatory verses, present us with such a picture of kind and gay and intelligent society, as the imagination finds it difficult to entertain an adequate conception of. "Sir Walter Raleigh, previously to his unfortunate engagement with the wretched Cobham and others, had instituted a meeting of beaux esprits at the Mermaid, a celebrated tavern in Friday street. Of this club, which combined more talent, perhaps, than ever met together before or since, our author was a member; and here, for many years, he regularly repaired with Ben Jonson, Beaumont, Fletcher, Selden, Cotton, Carew, Martin, Donne, and many others, whose names, even at this distant period, call up a mingled feeling of reverence and respect. Here, in the full flow and confidence of friendship, the lively and interesting

'wit combats' took place between Ben Jonson and our author; and hither, in probable allusion to them, Beaumont fondly lets his thoughts wander, in his letter to Jonson, from the country:

-What things have we seen

Doue at the Mermaid! heard words that have been
So nimble, and so full of subtle flame,

As if that every one from whom they came,
Had meant to put his whole wit in a jest.""

The "wit combats" alluded to in this interesting passage are mentioned by Fuller, who, speaking of Shakspeare, says, "Many were the wit combates between Shakspeare and Ben Jonson. I remember them like a Spanish great galleon, and an English man of war. Master Jonson, like the former, was built far higher in learning, solid but slow in his performances. Shakspeare, like the latter, lesser in bulk, but lighter in sailing, could turn with all tides, tack about, and take advantage of all winds, by the quickness of his wit and invention."

Of these encounters of the keenest intellects not a vestige now remains. The memory of Fuller, perhaps, teemed with their sallies; but nothing on which we can depend has descended to us. The few traditionary tales that remain, are without any authority; but such as they are, I present them to the reader as Dr. Drake has collected them.

Shakspeare was godfather to one of Ben Jonson's children; and after the cristening, being in deep study, Jonson came to cheer him up, and asked him, why he was so melancholy? "No faith, Ben," says he, "not I; but I have been considering a great while what should be the fittest thing to bestow upon my godchild, and I have resolved at last." "I prithee, what?" says he. "I'faith, Ben, I'll e'en give her a dozen good Latin (latteen*) spoons, and thou shalt translate them."

"The above," says Archdeacon Nares, "is a pleasant rail

*Latteen, i. e. brass.

lery enough on Jonson's love of translating." The second is not so worthy of preservation. "Mr. Ben Jonson and Mr. William Shakspeare, being merrie at a tavern, Mr. Jonson begins this for his epitaph:

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"He gives it to Mr. Shakspeare to make up, who presently writte

'That, while he liv'd, was a slow thing,
And now, being dead, is no-thing." "

"This stuff," adds Mr. Gifford, "is copied from the Ashmole MS. 38."

The next may be said to be rather of a "better leer." "Verses by Ben Jonson and Shakspeare, occasioned by the motto to the Globe Theatre-Totus mundus agit histrionem.


"If, but stage actors all the world displays,
Where shall we find spectators of their plays?"


"Little, or much, of what we see, we do;
We are all both actors and spectators too."

The intimacy of Shakspeare and Ben Jonson is alluded to in the following letter, written by G. Peel, a dramatic poet, to his friend Marle :


"I never longed for thy company more than last night. We were all very merrye at the Globe, when Ned Alleyn did not scruple to affyrme pleasantely to thy friend Will, that he had stolen his speeche about the qualityes of an actor's excellencye, in Hamlet, hys tragedye, from conversations manyfold which had passed between them, and opinyons given by Alleyn touchinge the subject. Shakspeare did not take this talke in very good sorte; but Jonson put an end to the strife, wittylie remarking, This affair needeth no contentione; you

stole it from Ned, no doubt; do not marvel; seen him act tymes out of number?

have you not G. PEEL."

The first appearance of this Letter was in the Annual Register for 1770, whence it was copied into the Biographia Britannica, and in both these works it commences in the following manner : "I must desyre that my syster hyr watche, and the cookerie book you promysed, may be sente bye the - I never longed, &c." "Of the four, this is the only anecdote worth preserving; but," continues Dr. Drake, “I apprehend it to be a mere forgery."



The name of Shakspeare and Ben Jonson as friends, and the most successful cultivators of our early dramatic literature, are so intimately connected, that the life of one involves the frequent mention of the other. Indeed, it is reported by Rowe, that Shakspeare was the original means of introducing the works of Jonson to the stage. Jonson, altogether unknown to the world, had offered one of his plays to the players, in order to have it acted; and the persons into whose hands it was put, after having turned it carelessly and superciliously over, were just upon returning it to him with an ill-natured answer, that it would be of no service to their company, when Shakspeare luckily cast his eye upon it, and found something so well in it, as to engage him first to read it through, and afterwards to recommend Jonson and his writings to the public."-This anecdote is disputed by Mr. Gifford. He proves that in 1598, when Every Man in his Humor, the first effort of Jonson's genius which we are acquainted with, was produced, "its author was as well known as Shakspeare, and, perhaps, better." Very true; but this does not in the least impugn the credibility of Rowe's tradition. It is nowhere asserted, that Every Man in his Humor was the play which thus attracted the attention of Shakspeare; all arguments, therefore, deduced from the situation held by Jonson in the literary world, at the time that comedy was first acted, are perfectly invalid. The performance which recommended him to Shakspeare, was most probably a boyish effort, full of talent and inexperience, which soon passed from the public mind, but not sooner than the author wished

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