Page images
[ocr errors]


that Father liv’d; but I take him to be the fame per

Mr. Jobn Shakespeare who was living in the uity:


1999, and who then, in Honour of his Lives Son, took out an Extract of his Family-Arms itical from the Herald's Office; by which it apCu. pears, that he had been Officer and Bailiff of

Stratford, and that he enjoy'd some hereditaÓW. ty Lands and Tenements, the Reward of his imes

Great Grandfacher's faichful and approved Setorks: vice to King Henry VII. che Be this as it will, our Shakespeare, it feems,

was bred for some Time at a Free-School; that


very Free-School, I presume, founded at hod. Stratford : where, we are told, he acquired

what Latin he was Master of: but, that his ich Father being oblig'd, thro' Narrowness of

Circumstance, to withdraw him too soon ir'd

from thence, he was so unhappily prevented cir

from making any Proficiency in the Dead ire Languages : A Point, that will deserve some lit

tle Discuffion in the Sequel of this Dissertation. end

How long he continued in his Father's nad Way of Buliness, either as an AMiftant to

him, or on his own proper Account, no No

tices are left to inform us : nor have I been le able to learn precisely at what Period of Life

he quitted his native Stratford, and began his Acquaintance with London, and the Stage.

In order to settle in the World after a Fa. rd

mily-manner, he thought fit, Mr. Rowe ac

quaints us, to marry while he was yet very is young. It is certain, he did fo: for by the




an Fas


[ocr errors]

Monument, in Stratford Church, erected to the Memory of his Daughter Susanna, the Wife of John Hall, Gentleman, it appears, that the died on the 2d Day of July in the Year 1649, aged 66. So that She was born in 1583, when her Father could not be full 19 Years old; who was himself born in the Year 1564. Nor was She his eldest Child, for he had another Daughter, Judith, who was born before her, and who was married to one Mr. Thomas Quiney. So that Shakespeare must have entred into Wedlock, by that Time he was turn'd of seventeen Years.

Whether the Force of Inclination merely, or some concurring Circumstances of Çonvenience in the Match, prompted him to marry so early, is not easy to be determin'd at this Distance: but 'tis probable, a View of Interest might partly sway his Conduct in this Point : for he married the Daughter of one Hathaway, a substantial Yeoman in his Neighbourhood, and She had the Start of him in Age no less than 8 Years. She surviv'd bim, notwithstanding, seven Seasons, and dy'd that very Year in which the Players publith'd the first Edition of his works in Folio, Anno Dom. 1623, at the Age of 67 Years, as we likewise learn from her Monument in Stratford-Church,

How long he continued, in this kind of Settlement, upon his own Native Spor, is not more easily to be determin'd. But if che


Tradition be true, of that Extravagance which forc'd him both to quit his Country and way of Living; to wit, his being engag'd, with a Knot of young Deer-stealers, to rob the Park of Sir Thomas Lucy of Cherlecot near Strato ford: the Enterprize favours so much of Youth and Levity, we may reasonably suppose it was before he could write full Man. Besides, considering he has left us fix and thirty Plays, which are avow'd to be genuine ; ( to throw out of the Question those Seven, in which his Title is disputed: tho' I can, beyond all Çontroversy, prove fome Touches in every one of them to come from his Pen:) and confia dering too, that he had recir'd from the Scage, to spend the latter Part of his Days at his own Native Stratford; the Interval of Time, necessarily required for the finishing so many Dramatic Pieces, obliges us to suppose he threw himself very early upon the Play-house. And as he could, probably, contract no Acquaintance with the Drama, while he was driving on the Affair of Wool at home; some Time must be loft, even after he had commenc'd Player, before he could attain Knowledge enough in the Science to qualify himself for turning Author.

le has been observ'd by Mr. Rowe, thats amongst other Extravagancies which our Aus thor has given to his Sir John Falstaffe, in the Merry Wives of Windfor, he has made him a Deer-Atealer; and that he might at the same


[ocr errors]

Son ok

time remember his Warwickshire Prosecutor, under the Name of Justice Shallo, he has given him very near the same Coat of Arms, which Dugdale, in his Antiquities of that County, describes for a Family there, There are cwo Coats

, I observe, in Dugdako where three Silver Fiches are borng in the Name of Lycy; and another Coat, 10 the Monument of which are quarter'd in four several Divisions, twelve Little Files, three in each Division, probably, Luces. ( Thiş very Coas indeed, seems alluded to in Shallard's giving the dazen White Luces, and in Slender, saying, he may quarter. When I consider the exceeding Candoun and Good-nature of our Anchor, (which inclind all the gentler Part of the World to love him; as the Power of his Wit obliged the Men of the most delicate Knowledge and polite Learning to admire him ; ) and that he Thould throw this humorous Piece of Safire ac bis Prosecutor, at least twenty Years after the Provocation given, I am confidently perfuaded it must be owing to an unforgiving Rancour on the Proiecutor's Sido; and if This nie was the

the Cale, je were Pigy but the Dir . grace of such an Inveteracy should remain as a lading Reproach, and, Shallow Itand as a Mark of Ridicule to stigmatize his Malice,

It is said, our Author spent some Years bea fore liis Death, in Ease, Retirement, and the Conversatiour of this Friends, at his Nacive


[ocr errors]

to our Author's

Stratford. I could never pick up any

certain Intelligence,

when He relinquifh'd the Stage. I know, Ic' has been mistakenly thought by some, that'Spenser's Thalid, in his Tears of bis Mufes, where the laments the Loss of her Willy in the Comic Scene, has been apply'd fer himself, is well known, quitted the Stage of Life in the Year 1598; and, five Years after this, we find "Shakespeare's Name among the Adors in Ben Jonson's, Sejanus, which first made its Appearance in the Year 1693. Nor, fürely, could he then have any Thoughts of retiring, fince; that very Year, a Licence under the Privy-Seal was granted

by K. James I. to him and Fletcher, Burbage, Phillippes, Hermes ings, Condel, &c. authorizing them to exercise the Art of playing Comedies, Tragedies, &c. as well at their usual Houfe call'd the Globe on the other Side of the Water, as in any other parts of the Kingdom, during his Majesty's Pleasure: (A Copy of which Licence is prefero'd' in Rymer's Fædera.). Again, 'tis certain, that şbakespeare did not 'exhibic his Macbeth, till after the Union was brought about, and tilf after K. James I. had begun to touch for the Evil: for 'tis plain, he has inserted Compliments, on both thofe Accounts, upon his Royal Master in that Tragedy. Norlindeed, could the Number of the' Dramatic Pieces, he produced, admit of his retiring 'near fo early as that period. So


a 2

« PreviousContinue »