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SKETCH OF THE LIFE
WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE was born at Strat-ter the performance. But in whatever situation he
ford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire, on the 23d day of April, 1564. His family was above the vulgar rank. His father, John Shakspeare, was a considerable dealer in wool, and had been an officer of the corporation of Stratford. He was likewise! a justice of the peace, and at one time a man of considerable property. This last, however, appears to have been lost by some means, , in the latter part of his life. His wife was the daughter and heiress of Robert Arden, of Wellington, in the county of Warwick, by whom he had a family of ten children.
was first employed at the theatre, he appears to have soon discovered those talents which afterwards made him
Th' applause, delight, the wonder, of our stage. Some distinction he probably first acquired as an actor, but no character has been discovered in which he appeared to more advantage than in that of the Ghost in Hamlet: and the best critics and inquirers into his life are of opinion, that he was not eminent as an actor. In tracing the chronology of his plays, it has been discovered, that Romeo and Juliet, and Richard II. and III., Our illustrious poet was the eldest son, and was were printed in 1597, when he was thirty-three educated, probably, at the free-school of Stratford; years old. There is also some reason to think that but from this he was soon removed, and placed in he commenced a dramatic writer in 1592, and the office of some country attorney. The exact Mr. Malone even places his first play, The First amount of his education has been long a subject|| Part of Henry VI., in 1589. of controversy. It is generally agreed, that he did not enjoy what is usually termed a literary education; but he certainly knew enough of Latin and French to introduce scraps of both in his plays, without blunder or impropriety.
His plays were not only popular but approved by persons of the higher order, as we are certain that he enjoyed the gracious favour of Queen Elizabeth, who was very fond of the stage; the patronage of the Earl of Southampton, to whom When about eighteen years old, he married he dedicated some of his poems; and of King Anne Hathaway, who was eight years older than || James, who wrote a very gracious letter to him himself. His conduct soon after this marriage was with his own hand, probably in return for the comnot very correct. Being detected with a gang of pliment Shakspeare had paid to his majesty in the deer-stealers, in robbing the park of Sir Thomas tragedy of Macbeth. It may be added, that his Lucy, of Charlecote, near Stratford, he was obli-uncommon merit, his candour, and good-nature ged to leave his family and business, and take shelter in London.
are supposed to have procured him the admiration and acquaintance of every person distinguished for such qualities. It is not difficult, indeed, to He was twenty-two years of age when he arrived trace, that Shakspeare was a man of humour, and in London, and is said to have made his first ac-a social companion; and probably excelled in that quaintance in the play-house. Here his necessities species of minor wit, not ill adapted to conversaobliged him to accept the office of call-boy, or tion, of which it could have been wished he had prompter's attendant; who is appointed to give the been more sparing in his writings. performers notice to be ready, as often as the business of the play requires their appearance on the How long he acted, has not been discovered; stage. According to another account, far less but he continued to write till the year 1614. During probable, his first employment was to wait at the his dramatic career, he acquired a property in the door of the play-house, and hold the horses of those theatre, which he must have disposed of when he who had no servants, that they might be ready af-retired, as no mention of it occurs in his will. The
katun pam uí no lie was spear in case, retirement 2. HD6, when he hat esarty computed bus aut becomeau of me inents. He has accent year, and was buried at the north mtalet counteractive property, which Gram 'n the Letters and Essers set amour u 300. jer anı & sum equal i 1992 in our days. But Hit. Marone doubts whether al his property Bromnet k much more than 200 per and which 34 was a derate fortune in those times; and I supposed, that he might have deved 2001 amualy from the theatre, will be commed
He retired some years before his death to a house in Stratford, of which it has been though important to give the history. It was built by S Hugh Chopin, a younger brother of an ancient fams in that neighbourhood. Sir Hugh was sheriff of London in the reign of Fuchard II and Jure mayor in that of Henry VII By his will be bequeathed to his eider brother's son his manor of Copton, &c. and his house by the name of the Great House in Stratford A good part of the estate was in possession of Edward Clopton, Esq. " and Sir Hugh Clopton, Knt. in 1733. The prite. cipal estate had been sold out of the Clopton family for above a century, at the time when Shakspeare became the purchaser, who, having repaired and modelled it to his own mind, changed the name to New Place, which the mansion-house afterwards erected, in the room of the poet's house, retained for many years. The house and lands belonging to it continued in the possession of Shakspeare's descendants to the time of the Restoration, when they were re-purchased by the Clopton family. Here, in May 1742, when Mr. Garrick, Mr. Macklin, and Mr. Delane, visited Stratford, they were hospitably entertained under Shakspeare's mulberry-tree, by Sir Hugh Clopton, who was a bar rister, was knighted by George L and died in the 80th year of his age, 1751. His executor, about, the year 1752, sold New Place to the Rev. Mr. Gastrel, a man of large fortune, who resided in it but a few years, in consequence of a disagreement with the inhabitants of Stratford. As he resided part of the year at Lichfield, he thought he was assessed too highly in the monthly rate towards the maintenance of the poor, and being opposed, he peevishly declared, that that house should never be assessed again; and soon afterwards pulled it down, sold the materials, and left the town. He had some time before cut down Shakspeare's mulberry-tree, to save himself the trouble of showing it to visitors. That Shakspeare planted this tree appears to be sufficiently authenticated. Where New Place stood is now a garden.
During Shakspeare's abode in this house, he enjoyed the acquaintance and friendship of the gentlemen of the neighbourhood; and here he is thought to have written the play of Twelfth Night. He died on his birth-day, Tuesday, April
side of the chancel in the great church at Stratird, where a monument s placed in the wall Œ which he is representet under at Koch, 11 a sitting posture, a custor spread before him, with a pen in his right hand, and his jet rested on a scrali of paper. The flowing Lan disuch as engraved wäer the cushion:
Judicio Prium gene Socraten, arte Muronem,
Perhaps we should read Sophoclem, instead of
Stay, passenger, why dost thou go so fast?
Far more than cost: since all that he hath writ
Obit ano. Dr. 1616,
We have not any account of the malady which, at no very advanced age, closed the life and labours of this unrivalled and incomparable genius. The only notice we have of his person is from Aubrey, who says, 'He was a handsome wellshaped man; and adds, 'verie good company, and of a very ready and pleasant and smooth wit’
His family consisted of two daughters, and a son named Hammet, who died in 1596, in the twelfth year of his age. Susannah, the eldest daughter, and her father's favourite, was married to Dr. John Hall, a physician, who died Nov. 1635, aged 60. Mrs. Hall died July 11, 1649, aged 66. They left only one child, Elizabeth, born 1607-8, and married April 22, 1626, to Thomas Nashe, esq. who died in 1647; and afterwards to Sir John Barnard, of Abington in Northamptonshire, but died without issue by either husband. Judith, Shakspeare's youngest daughter, was married to Mr. Thomas Quiney, and died Feb. 1661-2, in her 77th year. By Mr. Quiney she had three sons, Shakspeare, Richard, and Thomas, who all died unmarried. The traditional story of Shakspeare having been the father of Sir William Davenant, has been generally discredited.
From these imperfect notices, which are all we have been able to collect from the labours of his biographers and commentators, our readers will perceive that less is known of Shakspeare than of almost any writer who has been consider
*The first regular attempt at a life of Shakspeare is prefixed to Mr. A. Chalmers's variorum edition, published in 1805, of which we have availed ourselves in the above Sketch