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his life, in field or foray, for a king or chieftain now as obscure as himself; one of the many millions who have bad courage, skill, and fidelity, for their portion; but wanting an historian, have sunk, without mark, into the oblivious abysses of Time.

$ 3. In 1574, some houses in Henley-street, Stratford, were purchased by John Shakespeare; and in 1578, he mortgaged bis wife's estate, as has been stated. It seems that the mortgagee was let into possession of the land; for about twenty years afterwards, a suit in equity was instituted by John Shakespeare, for redemption or recovery of the mortgaged property. This mortgage has been adduced as presumptive proof of the distress of Shakespeare's father, and, thence, of the probability of a want of education in his son. To persons acquainted with transactions of this nature, nothing can seem more rash than such conclusions, drawn from such imperfect premises. The purchase of houses, in 1574, denotes-if it denotes anything—a superfluity of money in the purchaser-money that, probably, was not then required for the purposes of his trade: and the mortgage, in 1578, shows that the money, which was invested four years before, was again wanted. But, as the houses were retained, and descended, with the other landed estate, to his son, it seeins quite unlikely that he should have been seriously impoverished. As to the allegations by John Shakespeare in the suit) of his own poverty, and of the frauds practised by the person to whom he mortgaged his wife's estate, they may be classed amongst the many fictions of the law. If all the allegations contained in bills in equity were to be taken for granted, the defendants (who, according to the plaintiffs' statements, are always in the wrong) would present such a body of fraud, conspiracy, and oppression, as never was equalied in any civilised country.

To reconcile all the doings of the person or persons bearing the name of John Shakespeare with each other-for there were several John Shakespeares at Stratfordwould be a difficult task, and, as it appears to me, an unnecessary one.

It is safer to proceed upon facts which, to use a species of pleonasm, are well authenticated. It is certain that John Shakespeare, the poet's father, was a person holding a respectable position in society; that he married the daughter of an ancient house; that he was himself entitled to a coat of arms, acquired originally by services to the country ; that with his wife he obtained a landed estate ; that he purchased other landed property out of his own money; that he rose to such dignities as his native town offered; and, finally, that the estates which ho purchased and acquired by marriage became, after his death, the property of his

It is impossible, in the face of these facts, to argue, with any chance of success, that ho was a pauper or insolvent. Both fact and probability weigh strongly against such a presumption. It is more wise, I think, to dismiss the little anecdotes and authorities which havo been urged against the solvency of John Shakespeare, as things which applied to another person of his name; or, if any of them applied to him, that they could not have shaken his station in life, or have affected him, otherwise than for a short time, and then in a very trivial degree.

Thero can be small doubt but that our poet had as good an education as the town of Stratford afforded; and that the learning or accomplishments, in Latin and otherwise, which tradesmen in Stratford possessed, and which they bestowed upon their children, were not withheld from William Shakespeare. It has been ascertained, that the intercourse between children and their parents (aldermen or tradesmen of Stratford), and also between some of the tradesmen themselves, on matters of business, was occasionally carried on by Latin letters and communications. Is it in the least likely, that Shakespeare, the son of

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the principal officer of the town, and the inheritor of a valuable estate, should be wanting in an equal amount of learning? Is it possible that, with the same opportunities, the author of "TROILUS AND CRESSIDA," of " ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA," of " JULIUS CÆSAR," of “ CORIOLANUS," should have passed his youth in sloth and unlettered ignorance ? To come to such an opinion, we must suppose that the eager aptitude of the man had never disclosed itself in the boy; and, in effect, that the great genius of Shakespeare had never felt the restlessness or impulses which are an integral part of genius, but had slumbered in utter idleness throughout the whole interval of boyhood. Ben Jonson's reference to his “ little Latin and less Greek,” shows that he knew both Latin and Greek; and so far as it is disparaging, must be understood to speak by way of comparison, between the mere word-learning of Shakespeare, and that of himself (Jonson) and other ripe scholars of the time. In all that was essential, whether it related to the people of Rome or Greece, Shakespeare undoubtedly knew infinitely more than "rare Ben Jonson" himself, or probably any of his contemporaries.

§ 4. Leaving the question of our poet's education and learning to be canvassed by the more curious, I proceed, and find that, towards the close of the year 1582, being then about eighteen years and seven months old, he intermarried with Ann Hathaway, a "maiden of Stratford," who, if the inscription on her tomb be correct, was his elder by eight years. Soon after the marriage, namely, on the 26th of May, 1583, Susanna, their eldest child, was baptized; and on the 2nd of February, 1585, their son and daughter, Hamnet and Judith. It appears by the register that Hamnet was buried on the 11th of August, 1596, and thereupon Susanna and Judith, the poet's two daughters, became his co-heiresses.

Susanna, the eldest child of Shakespeare, married John Hall, gentleman (who was a plıysician of Stratford), on the 5th of June, 1607, she being then thirty-four years of age;

; and Judith, the younger daughter, married Thomas Queeny on the 10th of February, 1616, about two months only before the death of her father. The wife of Shakespeare, as it is supposed, survived him; for on the 6th of August, 1623, there appears on the register the burial of “Mrs. Shakespeare, widow," who must then have been sixty-seven years old, her illustrious husband dying at the early age of fifty-two. His will, a copy of which follows this introductory essay, appears to have been made about a month after his daughter Judith's marriage, and to have preceded by a month only his own death; the approach of which, in all probability, then became visible to him.

It does not appear that the poet's youngest daughter left any issue ; but there was one child of Susanna, named Elizabeth, who married Thomas Nash, Esq., and who herself had a daughter, afterwards the wife of Sir Reginald Forster; from which last-mentioned marriage there appears to have been a descent through two generations. The family of Shakespeare, however, in the lineal direction, is now extinct.

Various conjectures have been formed as to the mode in which Shakespeare was employed, previously and subsequently to his marriage ; as to how he was enabled to maintain his wife and children; as to the motives that induced him to quit Stratford for London, and other circumstances very desirable to know; but all which have hitherto been diligently sought for in vain. He may have been a schoolmaster or scrivener, as has been suggested; but I shall not add to the many ingenious hypotheses that have been started by any idle speculations of my own. It is clear that it was his destiny. Whether impelled, outwardly or ostensibly, by the persecution of others, or by his on misfortunes or

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discontent, is an inquiry not very important. It was his destiny; the inner call of his genius, which bade him seek its proper development; which drew him, by its mysterious influence, from the solitudes where Nature is dumb, into the teeming city-into those crowds and throngs of men from whom he learned so much; and to whom, and to whose posterity, he taught all that we see written down in that volume which has no likeness, called, “ THE WORKS OF SIIAKESPEARE."

The story of the deer-stealing, and of the prosecution of our poet by Sir Thomas Lucy, rests on too uncertain a foundation to render it necessary to do more than simply advert to it. That he may have taken part in any of the ordinary frolics of the time, is likely enough ; but whether that was the cause which“ drove” him to London, or whether, in fact, he was driven there at all, is beyond the power of any one at present to certify. It is generally thought that Shakespeare quitted Warwickshire for London about 1586 or 1587; but in 1589 he was one of the proprietors of the Blackfriars Theatre, a fact that seems to indicate an earlier arrival in the metropolis than is usually supposed. It is not very probable that a youth who left Stratford in 1587 (whether to evade the pursuit of justice or not, but at all events) with small or no pecuniary resources, and with the burthen of a wife and children upon him, should, in the space of about a couple of years, become a joint proprietor of one of the principal theatres in London.

His position at the theatre, as proprietor, in 1589, therefore, seems to indicate that he must then have been a considerable period in London ; and not only this, but also that he must then have been, for a considerable time, a writer for the stage. What, in fact, could have renovated his fortunes, and raised him to the dignity of proprietor, but the aid that he had given to the drama ? His earliest work, according to his own account "the first heir of his invention," was the poem of “VENUS AND ADONIS.” That was printed for the first time in 1593: but he was then the friend of Lord Southampton, who was the friend of genius. How had he manifested his genius and acquired this friendship, which did both so much honour, before 1593, unless by the dramas which he had without doubt at that time created ? The fact of there having been none of his plays in print at that period proves nothing. There is, according to the opinion of critics, an evident and a very invidious allusion to him, as actor and dramatist, in Robert Green's“ GROATSWORTH OF WIT,” written in or before the year 1592; so that he was then well known as a writer of plays. The omission of Shakespeare's name in Harrington's " APOLOGIE FOR POETRY," published in 1590-’1, proves, not that Shakespeare had not then written, but simply that Harrington either preferred the plays of Lord Buckhurst and others, or that he was unaware of the dramas of Shakespeare, or of their merit. If the plays of our author were not (as they appear not to have been) in print at that period, the fact of Harrington having omitted to speak of the excellence of works that he had had no opportunity of reading, seems to be sufficiently accounted for.

§ 5. On the arrival of Shakespeare in London, it is generally supposed that he resorted to the stage for employment; commencing, probably, as actor, for it is certain that he was an actor during part of his sojourn ; and producing afterwards, from time to time, his marvellous plays.

It has been discovered that, in 1596, he lived near the Bear Garden, in Southwark, his residence being also in the neighbourhood of the theatre to which he was attached; and that in 1609 he occupied a good house within the liberty of the Clink. It would appear that he remained in London till about the year 1611: not longer, for in March, 1612, he

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is described as “of Stratford-upon-Avon, gentleman,” in a deed by which a house in Blackfriars, which he had purchased, was conveyed to him by one Henry Walker. During his residence in London, however, he made occasional visits to Stratford, in the course of which he was accustomed to stop at the Crown Inn, at Oxford, at that time kept by one John Davenant; and it is tolerably certain that he became, in 1606, the godfather of Davenant's son, afterwards known as Sir William Davenant, the poet. Previously to this, he had acquired the friendship of Lord Southampton, and of Lord Pembroke; had, in 1598, been admitted to an intimacy with Ben Jonson; and had associated generally with the wits and writers of the age. It was at the Mermaid, then a tavern of note in Fleet Street, that Shakespeare, Jonson, Beaumont, Fletcher, and other social men of genius, were wont to congregrate; and there* it was, that those lively interchanges of wit and vivacity, those " wit combats,” which we are told of, occurred between Ben and Shakespeare. Amongst other persons he was acquainted with Alleyn, the founder of Dulwich College, and during that person's absence in the country, was in the habit of visiting his wife, who remained in London. In one of her letters to her absent husband, she informs him that a certain Mr. Francis Chaloner had endeavoured to borrow ten pounds, but that “Mr. Shakespeare, of the Globe, who came said he knew him not, only he herd of him that he was a roge, so he was glad we did not lend him the money." This is the only real anecdote that we possess of Shakespeare during his London residence. Amongst other acquisitions of this period, not to be forgotten, our poet obtained the approbation of Queen Elizabeth, before whom some of his plays were performed, and who is said to have " appreciated his genius." There is no evidence that

" She showered her bounties on him, like the Hours,"

or, in fact, that she rewarded him with anything more solid than her smiles ; a cheap mode of remunerating genius, but which, to the credit of that age, was not then common with persons of illustrious rank.

That Shakespeare was loved as well as admired by many of his contemporaries, is well authenticated. Ben Jonson (a warmhearted man, as well as a sterling writer) declares, " I do love the man and honour his memory, on this side of idolatry, as much as any: he was indeed honest, and of an open and free nature ;” and the editors of the folio edition of the plays, say that they have collected them" to keep the memory of so worthy a friend and fellow alive, as was our Shakespeare.” Whether the poet was beloved by any one of the opposite sex, remains a mystery. From the tenor of some of his sonnets, there is reason to suppose that he attached himself to some female, and that he was ill requited.

A few years ago some papers were written on this obscure subject, entitled, if I remember rightly, “ The Confessions of Shakespeare.” They were made out, with great ingenuity, from the “SONNETS" alone ; combining and consolidating the several parts of each into one (as it were) authentic narrative. And, indeed, as one travels through these

The following is Fuller's account of Shakespeare, in his “Worthies of England:" "He was an eminent instance of the truth of that rule, poeta non fit, sed nascitur : one is not made but born a poet.' Many were the wit combats betwixt him and Ben Jonson, which two I behold like a Spanish great galleon and an English man-of-war. Master Jonson, like the former, was built far higher in learning; solid, but slow in his performa ances. Shakespeare, like an English man-of-war, lesser in bulk but lighter in sailing, could turu with all tides, tack about and take advantage of all winds, by the quickness of his wit and invention.”

records of the great poet's feelings, a dim and shadowy History seems to rise and disclose itself before us, an intimation not to be neglected; seeing that such a man, however entangled amongst the conceits and fancies of his age, would hardly, in his own person, have wasted such sad and passionate verses on any subject that had no foundation in truth.

On quitting London, Shakespeare retired to his native town of Stratford. He had previously purchased one of the best houses there, called “ New Place," and in this house he lived and died. He was buried on the 25th of April, 1616, on the north side of the chancel of the great church of Stratford. A monument was shortly afterwards--certainly before the year 1623-erected to his memory. The artist has represented him in a sitting posture, with a pen in his right hand, and his left resting on a scroll of paper; and on the cushion which appears spread out before bim, are engraved the following lines :

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Not much can be said of this monument as a work of art: it is poor enough. And yet to this tomb, and to the house wherein he (is supposed to have) lived and died, how many thousand pilgrims have since come! Here people of all ages and all nations have repaired, for upwards of two hundred years. Walls covered with inscriptions (each man eager to write down his admiration) attest the worth and influence of a great poet. It would have been creditable to this country, or to its government, if some fit memorial, in bronze or marble, had been built up in his honour. For, although (as Milton sings)

“What, needs my Shakespeare for his honoured bonez,

The labour of an age in piléd stones ?
Or that his hallowed reliques should be hid
Under a star-y pointing pyramid ?"

yet that does not exonerate us from paying the tribute due to his memory; however it may account for the abundance of statues which we have erected, in the vain hope of immortalising people who have shed neither glory nor light of any sort upon the English nation.

§ 6. As part of the biography of Shakespeare, it would have been very desirable to have ascertained the order in which his plays were written. It would have exhibited the gradations, and, perhaps, fluctuations, of his intellect, and have cast light on many ques. tions of great interest relating to the works themselves; but unfortunately, this must still remain doubtful. The subject has been frequently discussed; and trifling facts have from time to time arisen, proving that certain plays had been actually performed when, as was once supposed, they existed only in the imagination of the author. But nothing like satisfactory evidence has been produced to show at what precise time any one play was written. We know that some plays were printed, and that others were represented, in

But we do not know how long before those years these dramas were actu. ally composed, nor whether other plays, which were made public at a later date, were not then in existence.

For my own part, I think that, in determining the chronology as well as the authenticity of Shakespeare's plays, there is, after all, no evidence like the internal evidence; no proof like the plays themselves. Other proofs may be, and have, in similar cases, re.

, peatedly been found fallacious. But there is no retrograding in point of style; no going

certain years.

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