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guite worthless productions. On the same subject let us hear the decided language of Dr. Drake :
Of these wretched dramas, it has been now positively proved, through the medium of the Hensiowe papers, that the name of Shakspeare, which is printed at length in the title-pages of Sir John Oldcastie, 1690, and The London Prodigal, 1605, was affixed to those pieces by a knavish bookseller, without any foundation.' Eight other dramatic pieces have been attributed to Shakspeare; all of which are condemned by Dr. Drake, who says, he does not believe that 'twenty lines can be found of Shakspeare in · King Henry VI. or Titus Andronicus,' and not so many in the six above enumerated; and therefore,' says he, ' to enter into any critical discussion of the merits or defects of these pieces, wouia ne an utter abuse of time. The same may be said or other volumes, consisting of poems, &c. which. certain unprincipled booksellers have foistea on the world, even with the name of Shakspeare in the title-page. A rare little volume, called . Cupia s Cabinet Unlocked,' in the possession of James Perry, Esq., with the name of our author, was inspected by that enthusiastic admirer of Shakspeare, Mr. Britijn, who pronounces it to have no other characteristic or the great author, whose name is thus prostituted.
Besides his thirty-six plays, Shakspeare wrote some poetical pieces, which were publisnec seprarately, viz. Venus and Adonis, printed in 1593; The
Rape of Lucrece, in 1594; The Passionate Pilgrim, in 1599; A Lover's Complaint, undated; and a volume of Sonnets, in 1609. The first and second of these productions were dedicated to his great patron, the Earl of Southampton, who is reported, at one time, to have given Shakspeare 10001. to enable him to complete a purchase; a sum which in those days would be equal in value to more than five times its present amount. be, and probably is, an exaggeration; but that it has been founded on the well-known liberality of Lord Southampton to Shakspeare; on a certain knowlege that donations had passed from the peer to the poet, there can be little doubt. The earls of Pembroke and Montgomery are said to have vied with this amiable nobleman in the patronage of our author, who was soon after honored by the favor of Queen Elizabeth, at whose desire he is stated to have composed the Merry Wives of Windsor.' Tradition says, this was executed in a fortnight, and afforded Her Majesty intire satisfaction. The approbation and encouragement of the two sovereigns, under whose reigns he florished, was a subject of contemporary notoriety; for Ben Jonson, in his celebrates eulogy, thus apostrophises his departed friend :
Sweet swan of Avon, what a sight it were,
The latter monarch was present at the representation of many of his pieces, and is stated by Lintot to have written an amicable letter to Mr. Shakspeare,' in return, as Dr. Farmer supposes, for the compliment paid to him in Macbeth, where allusion is made to the kingdoms of England and Scotland being united under one sovereign, and to James's pretensions of curing the malady of the king's evil by his royal touch. This letter is said to have remained long in the possession of Sir W. Davenant, who was by some persons thought to be an illegitimate son of our author, if the following traditionary anecdote be worthy of credit :
That Shakspeare was accustomed to pay an annual visit to his native place has been already noticed ; and we learn from Antony Wood, that in performing these journeys, he used to bait at the Crown Inn at Oxford, which was then kept by J. Davenant, the father of the poet. Antony represents Mrs. Davenant as both beautiful and accomplished, and her husband as a lover of plays, and a great admirer of Shakspeare. The frequent visits of the bard, and the charms of his landlady, appear to have given birth to some scandalous surmises; for Oldys, repeating Wood's story, adds, on the authority of Betterton and Pope, that their son, young
Will Davenant, afterwards Sir William, was then a little school-boy in the town, of about seven or eight years old, and so fond also of Shakspeare, that
whenever he heard of his arrival, he would fly from school to see him. One day, an old townsman, observing the boy running homeward almost out of breath, asked him whither he was posting in that heat and hurry. He answered, to see his god-father Shakspeare. “There's a good boy,' said the other ; • but have a care that you don't take God's name in vain.' It has been also said that Sir William had the weakness to feel gratified by the publicity of this supposition.
In the year 1596 Shakspeare's feelings as a father were put to a severe trial, by the loss of his only son, Hamnet, who died in August, at the age of twelve.
Shakspeare was now residing, it would appear from evidence referred to by Mr. Malone, near the Bear Garden in Southwark; and in the following year, 1597, he purchased of Wm. Underhill, Esq. one of the best houses in his native town of Stra:ford, which, having repaired and improved, he denoninated New Place. Whether this was the purchase, in which he is said to have been so materially assisted by Lord Southampton, cannot positively be affirmed; but as he had not long emerged from his difficulties, it is highly probable that, on this, as well as on subsequent occasions, he was indebted to tie County of his patron. It must be gratifying to
"A late heviewer has observed, in estimating the genius of Byron and Shakspeare, that the former could never claim every reader to reflect, that one, to whom mankind has been so largely indehted for the pleasure and instruction which his writings have afforded, was not, while he was administering to the delight of others, himself laboring under the pressure of poverty; and we are rejoiced to find him, at the close of life, leaving his family in a state of comparative affluence.
The commencement of the intimacy between our author and Ben Jonson has been commonly assigned to the year 1598. We are informed by Mr. Rowe, that his friendship began with a remarkable piece of humanity and good nature. Mr. Jonson, who was at that time altogether unknown to the world,
equal talent with the latter in his delineations of high life; since Shakspeare never had the advantage of mixing in such society, while Byron was bred and educated in the midst of it. The same opinion has indeed been generally adopted, and some Commentators have even considered that Shakspeare always lived in a state of comparative obscurity. Such however cannot be the fact ; for with the acknowleged patronage of such men as Lords Southampton, Pembroke, and Montgomery, it cannot well be doubted that he was introduced to the society and intercourse of great as well as good men.-Is it not a little surprising that Lord Byron should have disparaged the genius of Shakspeare, whom every great poet and philosopher has so universally and unequivocally admired and extolled ? The excessive praise bestowed by Byron on Pope suggests many reflections, which more properly belong to his own biography; though perhaps such extreme approbation may have had some reference to his owa occasional controversies relative to that poet.