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PL A Y S
ACCURATELY PRINTED FROM
THE TEXT OF MR. STEEVEN'S
THE MOST IMPORTANT NOTES.
ACCOUNT OF THE LIFE, etc.
It seems to be a kind of respect due to the memory of excellent men, especially of those whom their wit and learning have made famous , to deliver some account of themselves, as well as their works, to posterily. For this reason, how foud do we see some people of discovering any little personal story of tlie great men of antiquity! their fami. lies, the common accidents of their lives, and even their shape, make, and features have been the subject of critical inquiries. How triling soever this curiosity may seem to be, it is cer. tainly very natural; and we are hardly satisfied with an account of any remarkable person, till we have heard him described even to the very cloaths he wears. As for what relates to men of letters, the knowledge of an author may someti. mes conduce to the better understanding his book; and though the works of Mr. Shakspeare may seem to many not to want a comment, yet I fancy some little account of the man himself may not be thought improper to go along with them.
Hc was the son of Mr. Jokin Shakspeare, and was born at Siratford upon Avone, in v'ar wickshire, in April 1564. His family, as appears by the register and public writings relating to that towni, were of good figure and fashion there, and are mentioned as gentlemen. His father, vho was a considerable dealer in wool, had so large a family, ten children in all, that though he
his cldest son, he could give him no better education than his own employment, He had pred him, it is true, for some time at a free-school, where it is probable, he acquired what Latin he
master of: but the narrowness of his cir. cumstances, and the want of his assistance at 10. me, forced l.is father to withdraw him from thence, and unhappily prevcuued his further proficiency in tlat language. It is without controversy, that in his works we scarce find any traces of any thing that looks like an imitation of the ancients. The delicacy of his taste, and the natural bent of his Own great genius, (equal, if not superior, to some of the best of theirs) would certainly have led him to read and study them with so much pleasure, that some of their fine images would na. turally have insinuated themselves into, and been mixed with his own writings; so that his not co. pying at least something from them, may argument of lis never having read them. Whether his ignorance of the ancieuts were a disadvantage to him or 10, may admit of a dispute: for though the knowledge of them might have made him more correct, yet it is not improbable but that the regularity and deference for them, which would have attended that correctness, might have re. strained some of that fire, impetuosity and evcil Lucautiful extravagance, which we admirc iu. Shak.