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Far more than cost; since all that he hath writ
" of this distich, as Mr. Tollet observes, might band. Judith, Shakspeare's youngest daughter, * bave 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, ** si. 3.
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 placid
after the death of lady Barnard, which hapWithin this monument; Shakspeare, with whom pened in 1669-70, related to Mr. Macklin, in Qaick pature dy'd; whose name doth deck the tomb
174?, an old tradition, that she had carried Leaves living art but page to serve his wit."
away with her from Stratford many of her * Obiit Ano. Dni. 1616. æt.53, die 23 A pri.”
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 mezzotinto
now living, in his custody they probably re" by Miller.”
“ main.” But Mr. Malone, in his last ediOn his grave-stone underneath are these tion, lacitly 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 Iesus SAKE forbeare
To this account of Sbakspeare'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 Man spares 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. Oidys's relation is thus given : precation were written by Shakspeare, or by “If tradition may be trusted, Sbakspear one of his friends. They probably allude io
" often baited 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 bowever, have been ever carefully protected city), a grave melancholy man; who, 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.
Their son, Bo 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 sop named Hamnet, who died in 1596, in the “ so fond also of Shakspeare, that whenever he twelfth year of bis 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, to Dr. John Hall, a “ serving the boy running homeward almost physician, who died Nov. 1635, aged 60. “out of breath, asked him whither he was Mrs. Hall died July 11, 1649, aged 66. They “ posting in that heat and hurry. He anleft ooly one child, Elizabeth, 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 name in Jobp Barnard, of Abingdon, in Northampton
This story Mr. Pope told me at the shire, 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 thought a
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 bas 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 criticism 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 Burlington, 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 lunately, 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 dealh of him whom it commemorates, lustrators 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 whelher 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, wbich 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 kpown 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 bave 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, to revive his memory which he reviewed his labours, it may be neand illustrate his writings. In the sketch we cessary to consider their precise nalure, and have given, if the dales of bis birth and death certain circumstances in his situation which bo excepted, what is there on which the reader afected them; and, above all, we must take can depend, or for wbich, if he contend eagerly, into our account the characler and predominant he may not be involved in controversy, and occupations of the lime 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 history 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 wrole If an author, indeed, has passed his days in retirement, his life can afford little more variely
* Dr. Johnson's Preface.
them for a particular thealre, sold them lo the Shakspeare died in 1616, and seven years managers when only an actor, reserved them afterwards appeared the first edition of his in manuscript when himself a manager, and plays, published at the charge of four bookwhen he disposed of his properly in the theatre, sellers; a circumstance from which Mr. they were still preserved in manuscript 10 Malone insers, “ that no single publisher was prevent their being acted by the rival houses. at that time willing to risk his money on a Copies of some of them appear to have been “ complete collection of our author's plays.” surreptitiously oblained, and published in This edition was printed from the copies in the very incorrect stale; but we may suppose that hands of his fellow-managers Heminge and it was wiser in the author or managers to over-Condell, which had been in a series of years look this fraud, than to publish a correct edi- frequently altered through convenience, caprice, tion, and so destroy the exclusive properly they or ignorance. Heminge and Condell had now enjoyed. It is clear therefore that any publi- retired from the stage, and, we may suppose, cation of his plays by bimself would have in- thought they were guilty of no injury to their terfered, at first with his own interest, and successors, in printing what their own interest afterwards with the interest of those to whom only had formerly withheld. Of this, although be made over his share in them. But even we have no documents amounting to demonstrabad this obstacle been removed, we are not lion, we may be convinced, by adverting to sure that he would have gained much by publi- circumstance, which will, in our days, appear cation. If he had no other copies but those very extraordinary, namely, the declension of belonging to the theatre, the business of correc- Shakspeare's popularity. We have seen that lion for the press must have been a loil which the publication of his works was accounted a we are afraid the taste of the public at that doubtful speculation; and it is yet more certain, time would have very poorly rewarded. We so much had the public laste turned from him know not the exact portion of fame he enjoyed ; in quest of variety, that for several years after it might be the bighest which dramatic genius his death the plays of Fletcher were more frecould confer, but dramatic genius was a new quently acted than bis, and during the whole excellence, and not well understood. His of the seventeenth century they were made to daims were, probably, not heard beyond the give place to performances, the greater part of jurisdiction of the master of the revels, certainly which cannot now be endured. During the not much beyond the metropolis. When he same period only four editions of his works died, the English public was approaching to a were published, all in folio; and perhaps this period in wbich mallers of higher moment were unwieldy size of volume may be an additional to engage allention, and in which his works were proof that they were not popular; nor is it Dearly buried in oblivion, and not for more than thought that the impressions were numerous. a century afterwards, ranked among the produce These circumstances, which atlach to our tions of which the nation had reason to be proud. author and to his works, must be allowed a
Such, however, was Shakspeare's reputation, plausible weight in accounting for our defithat we are told his name was put to pieces ciencies in his biography and literary career, which he never wrote, and that he felt him- but there were circumstances enough in the sell too confident of popular savour to unde- history of the times to suspend the progress of ceive the public. This was a singular reso- that more regular drama of which he had set lution in a man who wrote so unequally, that the example, and may be considered as the even at this day, the test of internal evidence founder. If we wonder why we know so much must be applied to bis doubtful productions | less of Shakspeare than of his contemporaries, with the greatest caution. But still how far let us recollect that his genius, however highiy his character would bave been elevated by an and justly we now rate it, took a direction examination of his plays in the closet, in an which was not calculated for permanent admiage when the refinements of criticism were not ration either in the age in which he lived, or understood, and the sympathies of taste were sel- in that wbich followed. Shakspeare was a dom fell, may admit of a question. “His lan- writer of plays, a promoter of an amusement guage,” says Dr. Johnson, “not being designed just emerging from barbarism; and an amuse" for the reader's desk, was all that he desired ment which, although it has been classed "il to be, if it copreyed his meaning to the au- among the schools of morality, has ever had
such a strong tendency to deviate from moral
purposes, that the force of law has in all ages In fifty years after his death, Dryden menbeen called in lo preserve it within the bounds tions, that he was then become “ a little obof common decency. The church has ever “ solete.” In the beginning of the last cenbeen unfriendly to the stage. A part of the lury, Lord Shaftesbury complains of his “rude injunctions of queen Elizabeth is particularly “unpolished style, and his antiquated phrase directed against the printing of plays; and," and wit.” It is certain that, for nearly a according to an entry in the books of the hundred years after his death, partly owing to Stationers' Company, in the 41st year of her the immediate revolution and rebellion, and reign, it is ordered, that no plays be printed partly to the licentious taste encouraged in except allowed by persons in authority. Dr. Charles the Second's time, and perhaps partly Farmer also remarks, that in that age poetry to the incorrect state of his works, he was aland novels were destroyed publicly by the most entirely neglected. Mr. Malone has bishops, and privately by the Purilans. The justly remarked, “ that if he had been read, main transactions, indeed, of that period could“ admired, studied, and imitated, in the same not admit of much attention to matters of degree as he is now, the enthusiasm of some amusement. The Reformation required all one or other of his admirers, in the last age, the circumspection and policy of a long reign " would have induced him to make some into render it so firmly established in popular" quiries concerning the history of his theatrical favour as to brave the caprice of any succeed- career, and the anecdotes of his private life."* ing sovereign. This was effected in a great His admirers, however, if he had admirers measure by the diffusion of religious contro- in that age, possessed no portion of such enthuversy, which was encouraged by the church, siasm. That curiosity, which in our days bas and especially by ibe Puritans, who were the raised biography to the rank of an independent immediate teachers of the lower classes, were study, was scarcely known, and where known, listened to with veneration, and usually in- was confined principally to the public transacveigbed against all public amusements, as in- tions of eminent characters, principally divines, consistent with the Christian profession. These of whom a few brief polices were prefixed 10 controversies continued during the reign of their works; but we are not sure that any of James I. and were in a considerable degree these are of an older dale than 1616. And if, promoted by him, although he, like Elizabeth, in addition to the circumstances already stated, was a favourer of the stage, as an appendage to we consider how lille is known of the personal the grandeur and pleasures of the court. But history of Shakspeare's contemporaries, we may the commotions which followed in the unhappy easily resolve the question, wby, of all men who reign of king Charles 1. when the stage was have ever claimed admiration by genius, wisdom, totally abolished, are alone sufficient to account or valour, who have eminently contributed to for the oblivion thrown on the history and enlarge the taste, promote the happiness, or works of our great bard.
increase the reputation of their country, we From this time no inquiry was made, until know the least of Shakspeare; and why, of the it was too late to obtain any information more few particulars which seem entitled to credit, satisfactory than the few hearsay scraps and when simply related, and in which there is no contested traditions above detailed. “How manisest violation of probability or promise of Jittle,” says Mr. Steevens, “Shakspeare was importance, there is scarcely one which has not “ once read, may be understood from Tate, swelled into a controversy. After a careful “ who, in his dedication to the altered play of examination of all that modern research has
King Lear, speaks of the original as an discovered, we know not how to trust our cu“ obscure piece, recommended to his notice riosity beyond the limits of those barren dates
by a friend : and the author of the Tatler which afford no personal history. The na
having occasion to quote a few lines out of ture of Shakspeare's writings prevents that “ Macbeth, was content to receive them from appeal to internal evidence, which in other “ D'Avenant's alteration of that celebrated cases has been found to throw light on character. “ drama, in which almost every original beauty The purity of his morals, for example, if sought “ is either awkwardly disguised, or arbitrarily in his plays, must be measured against the " omitted."
licentiousness of his language, and the question * Mr. Steevens's Advertisement to the Reader, first printed in 1773.
* Mr. Malone's Preface to his edition, 1790.
will then be, how much did he write from in- , with these two statesmen which he ought frst to clination, and how much to gratify the taste of have proved. Shakspeare might have enjoyed his hearers? How much did he add to the age, the confidence of their social hour, but it is and how much did be borrow from it? Pope mere conjecture that they admitted him into says, “ be was obliged to please the lowest of the confidence of their state affairs. Mr. " the people, and to keep the worst of com- Malone, the most frequent conjecturer of all “ pany:” Ibis must have been Pope's conjec- Shakspeare's admirers, but whose opinions are ture. Managers are sometimes obliged to please entitled to a higher degree of credit than those the lowest of the people : and, in our days, they of Mr. Capell, thinks that our author's prose have not unfrequently yielded to or created a compositions, if they should be discovered, corrupt laste ; but we know not that writers are would exhibit the same perspicuity, the same under a similar obligation; and of Shakspeare's cadence, the same elegance and vigour, which keeping the worst of company, we have no we find in bis plays. existing proof. With regard to the amusements Il is unfortunate, however, for all wishes of his leisure hours, we have many allusions in and all conjectures, that not a line of Shakhis works lo the sports of the field, and falconry speare's manuscripts is known to exist, and bis appears to have been a particular favourite. prose writings are no where hinted at. Generally speaking, there is every reason to are in possession of printed copies only of his think, that he soon acquired and maintained a plays and poems, and those so depraved by respectable character. He came to London carelessness or ignorance, that all the labour of poor and unknown, and he left it with a high all his commentators has not yet been able to reputation, and took his seat with the men of restore them to more than a probable purity. rank and opulence in his native county. Many of the difficulties which originally attended
The only life which has been prefixed to all the perusal of them yet remain, and will require, the editions of Shakspeare of the eighteenth cen- what it is now scarcely possible to expect, tury, is that drawn up by Mr. Rowe, and greater sagacity and more happy conjecturethan which he modestly calls, “Some Account, &c.” bave hitherto been employed. In this we have, what Rowe could collect when Of Shakspeare's Poems, it is perhaps necesevery legitimate source of information was sary that some notice should be taken in an dosed, a few traditions that were floating nearly account of his life, although they have never a century after the author's death. Some inac- been favourites with the public, and have seldom curacies in his account bave been detected in been reprinted with his plays. Shortly after the valuable notes of Mr. Steevens, and in that his death, Mr. Malone informs us, a very inpart of a new but imperfect life of Shakspeare, correct impression of them was issued out, published in Mr. Malone's last edition. In which in every subsequent reprint was imother parts also of their respective editions, they plicitly followed, until he published correct have scattered a few brief notices which we have edition, or what he supposed to be such, in racorporated in the present sketch. The whole, 1780, with illustrations. But the peremptory however, is unsatisfactory. Shakspeare, in his decision of his compeer, Mr. Steevens, on the private character, in his friendships, in bis merits of these poems, must be our apology for amusements, in his closet, in his family, is no omitting them in the present abridgment of the w bere before us : and such was the nature of labours of these critics. « We have not rethe writings on which his fame depends, and of “ printed the Sonnets, &c. of Shakspeare, beibat employment in which he was engaged, that cause the strongest act of parliament that being in no important respect connected with “ could be framed would fail to compel readers The bistory of his age, it is in vain to look into
" into their service. Had Shakspeare prothe latter for any information concerning him. “ duced no olher works than thesc, his name
M. Capell is of opinion that he wrole some “ would have reached us with as little celebrity prose works, because “ it can hardly be sup- as time bas conferred on that of Thomas * posed that he, who had so considerable a share “Watson, an older and much more clegant " in the confidence of the Earls of Essex and “ sonnetteer.” " Southampton, could be a mute spectator only The elegant preface of Dr. Johnson gives “of controversies in which they were so much an account of the attempts made in the early "interes!ed.” This editor, however, appears part of the last century to revive the memory to bave taken for granted a degree of confidence and reputation of our poel, by Rowe, Pope,