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From Deed of sale. Mar.10.1612 3.onfly leaf of Florio's trans. of Montaigne's Essays.1603. in Brst Mus! Portmage de do ll do. 4.5.6. firm three briefs of his Will in the Prereg Cl.
ford, that she must have been born in 1556, and was therefore eight years older than her husband, to whom she brought three children, Susanna, Judith, and Hamnet; the last two being twins, who were baptised February 20, 1584-5.
Shakspeare was now, to all appearance, settled in the country; he was carrying on his own and his father's business ; he was married, and had a family around him; a situation, in which the comforts of domestic privacy might be predicted within his reach, but which augured little of that splendid destiny, that universal fame and unparalleled celebrity, which awaited his future career.
Shortly after the birth of his youngest children, our author quitted Stratford for the metropolis : his motive for taking this step must be admitted to be involved in considerable obscurity. We are informed by Rowe, that he had; by a misfortune common enough to young fellows, fallen into ill company; and amongst them, some that made a frequent practice of deer-stealing, engaged him more than once in robbing a park that belonged to Sir Thomas Lucy, of Charlecote, near Stratford. For this he was prosecuted by that gentleman, as he thought, somewhat too severely; and in order to revenge that ill usage, he made a ballad on him: and though this, probably the first essay of his poetry, is lost, yet it is said to have been so very bitter, that it redoubled the prosecution against him to that degree, that he was obliged to leave his business and family in Warwickshire for some time, and shelter himself in London.'
The detection of Snakspeare in his adventurous amusement, was followed, it is said, by confinement for a short time in the keeper's lodge, until the charge had been substantiated against him. A farm-house in the park, situated on a spot called Daisy Hill, is still pointed out as the very building which sheltered the delinquent on this unfortunate occasion.
That Sir Thomas had reason to complain of this violation of his property, and was warranted in taking proper steps to prevent its recurrence, cannot be denied ; and yet it appears from tradition, that a reprimand and public exposure of his conduct constituted all the punishment that was at first inflicted on the offender. Here the matter would have rested, had not the irritable feelings of our young bard, inflamed by the disgrace which he had suffered, induced him to attempt a retaliation on the magistrate. He had recourse to his talents for satire, and the ballad which he is said to have produced for this purpose was probably his earliest effort as a writer.
Of this pasquinade, which the poet took care should be affixed to Sir Thomas's park gates, and extensively circulated through his neighborhood, three stanzas have been brought forward as genuine fragments. The preservation of the whole would certainly have been a most entertaining curiosity ; but even the authenticity of what is said to have been preserved becomes a subject of interest, when we recollect that the fate and fortunes of our author hinged on this juvenile production.
Mr. William Oldys, (Norroy king at arms, and well known from the share he had in compiling the Biographia Britannica) among some collections which he left for a life of Shakspeare, observes, ' that there was a very aged gentleman living in the neighborhood of Stratford, where he died fifty years since, who had not only heard from several old people in that town of Shakspeare's transgression, but could remember the first stanza of that bitter ballad, which repeating to one of his acquaintance, he preserved it in writing ; and here it is, neither better nor worse, but faithfully transcribed from the copy which his relation very courteously communi. cated to me :
A parliamente member, a justice of peace,
lle thinks himself greate,
Yet an asse in his state
Although neither the wit nor the poetry of this
satire deserves much praise, yet at the time when it was written, it might have had sufficient power to exasperate an irritable magistrate; especially as it was affixed to his park gates, and consequently published among his neighbors. It may be remarked likewise, in favor of its authenticity, that the jingle on which it turns occurs in the first scene of the • Merry Wives of Windsor. We may add too, that Steevens considered Mr. Oldys' veracity as unimpeachable, remarking, at the same time, that it is not very probable that a ballad should be forged, from which an undiscovered wag could derive no triumph over antiquarian credulity.'
According to Mr. Capell, this ballad came originally from Mr. Thomas Jones, who lived at Tarbick, a village in Worcestershire, about 18 miles from Stratford-on-Avon, and died in 1703, aged upwards of ninety. • He remembered to have heard from several old people at Stratford the story of Shakspeare's robbing Sir Thomas Lucy's park, and their account of it agreed with Mr. Rowe's, with this addition, that the ballad written against Sir T. Lucy by Shakspeare was stuck on his park gate, which exasperated the knight to apply to a lawyer at Warwick to proceed against him. Mr. Jones put down in writing the first stanza of this ballad, which was all he remembered of it.' In a note on the transcript with which Mr. Capell was furnished, it