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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 Sbakspeare 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 alınost any writer who has been considered as an object of laudable curiosity. Nothing could be more highly gratifying, than an account of the early studies of this wonderful man, the
• 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 our. selves in the above Sketch.
progress of his pen, his moral and social qualities, his friendships, his failings, and whatever else constitutes personal history. But on all these topics his contemporaries, and his immediate successors, have been equally silent; and if aught can hereafter be discovered, it must be. by exploring sources which have hitherto escaped the anxious researches of those who have devoted their whole lives, and their most vigorous talents, to revive his memory, and illustrate his writings.
It is equally unfortunate, that we know as little of the progress of his writings, as of his personal history. The industry of his illustrators for the last forty years, has been such as probably never was surpassed in the annals of literary investigation; yet so far are we from information of the conclusive or satisfactory kind, that even the order in which his plays were written rests principally on conjecture, and of some of the plays usually printed among his works, it is not yet determined whether he wrote the whole, or any part. We are, however, indebted to the labours of his commentators, not only for much light thrown upon his obscurities, but for a text pu
rified from the gross blunders of preceding transcribers and editors; and it is almost unnecessary to add, that the text of the following volumes is that of the last corrected edition of Johnson and Steevens.