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mer Night's Dreame,'' he happened to take at Grendon, in Bucks, which is the roade from London to Stratford ; and there was living that constable about 1642, when I first came to Oxon. Mr. Jos. Howe is of that parish, and knew him. Ben Jonson and he did gather humours of men dayly, wherever they came. One time, as he was at the tavern, at Stratford-upon-Avon, one Combes, an old rich usurer, was to be buryed; he makes there this extemporary epitaph :
Ten in the hundred the devill allowes,
· He was wont to goe to his native country once a yeare.
I think I have been told, that he left 200 or 300 lib. per annum, there and therabout, to a sister. I have heard Sir William D'Avenant and Mr. Thomas Shadwell, who is counted the best comædian we have now, say that he had a most prodigious witt; and did admire his naturall parts veyond all other dramaticall writers. He was wont to say that he never blotted out a line in his life : sayd Ben Jonson, “I wish he had blotted out a thousand.' His comodies will remain witt as long as the English tongue is understood, for that he handles
1 Probably Dogberry, in • Much Ado about Nothing.'
mores hominum : now our present writers reflect so much upon particular persons and coxcombeities, that twenty years hence they will not be understood.
Though, as Ben Jonson sayes of him, that he had hut little Latine and lesse Greek, he understood Latine pretty well, for he had been in his younger years a schoolmaster in the country.' See Letters from the Bodleian Library, &c. ii. 307.
In order to reconcile these conflicting testimonies, Malone supposes that Aubrey confounded the father of our poet, with John, son of Thomas Shakspeare, a butcher at Warwick, who lived at the same period. Dr. Drake, however, conjectures that John Shakspeare, when under the pressure of adversity, might combine the two employments of wool-stapler and butcher, which are in a certain degree connected with each other. The same learned author seems also inclined to believe, with Malone, that, in the early part of his life, Shakspeare was employed in the office of an attorney; that some uncertain rumor of this kind might have continued to the middle of the last century; and by the time it reached Aubrey, our poet's original occupation was changed from a scrivener to that of a schoolmaster.
To the disposition and moral character of Shakspeare, to the felicity of his temper and the sweetness of his manners, tradition has ever borne the most uniform and favorable testimony: and, indeed, had
she been silent on the subject, his own works would have whispered to us the truth; would have told us, in almost every page, of the gentleness, the benevolence, and the goodness of his heart. That a temper of this description, and combined with such talents, should be the object of sincere and ardent friendship, can excite no surprise.
I loved the man,' says Jonson, with a noble burst of enthusiasm, and do honor his memory on this side idolatry as much as any.
He was indeed honest, and of an open and free nature.' •My gentle Shakspeare' is the language of the same great man, in his poem to the memory of our bard; and Rowe, repeating the uncontradicted rumor of times past, has told us, that every one, who had a true sense of merit, and could distinguish men, had generally a just value and esteem for him ;' adding, 'that his exceeding candor and good nature must certainly have inclined all the gentler part of the world to love him.'
Mrs. Shakspeare, who survived her husband eight years, was buried between his grave and the north wall of the chancel, under a stone inlaid with brass, and thus inscribed :
Heere lyeth interred the bodye of Anne, wife of Mr. William
Shakespeare, who depted. this life the 6th day of Avgvst,
Væ mihi! pro tanto mvnere saxa daho.
Qvam mallem, amoveat lapidem bonys angel' ore,
Exeat vt Christi corpvs, imago tva.
Claysa licet tvmvlo, mater, et astra petet. Of Shakspeare's two daughters, the eldest, Susanna, married Dr. John Hall, a physician of Stratford, who is said to have obtained much reputation and practice. She brought her husband an only child, Elizabeth, who was married, first, to Thomas Nashe, Esq. and afterwards to Sir John Barnard, of Abingdon, in Northamptonshire ; but had no issue by either of them. Judith, Shakspeare's second daughter, married Thomas Quiney, a vintner of Stratford, by whom she had three children; but none of them reached their twentieth
year, left no posterity. Hence our poet's last lineal descendant was Lady Barnard, who was buried at Abingdon, February 17, 1669-70. Dr. Hall, her father, died November 25, 1635, and her mother July 11, 1649; and both were interred in Stratford church.
Our poet's house and lands continued in the possession of his descendants to the time of the Restoration, when they were repurchased by the Clopton family, the original proprietors. Sir Hugh Clopton, who was knighted by George I., modernised the residence by internal and external alterations, and in 1742, entertained Macklin, Garrick, and Dr. Delany under Shakspeare's mulberry-tree. By Sir Hugh's executor it was sold to the Rev. Francis Gastrell, vicar of Frodsham in Cheshire; who, if we may judge by his actions, felt no pride or pleasure in this charming retirement, no consciousness of being possessed of the sacred ground, which the Muses had consecrated to the memory of their favorite poet. The celebrated mulberry-tree, planted by Shakspeare's hand, became first an object of his dislike, because it subjected him to answer the frequent importunities of travellers, whose zeal might prompt them to visit it. In an evil hour the sacrilegious priest ordered the tree, then remarkably large and at its full growth, to be cut down; which was no sooner done, than it was cleft to pieces for fire-wood : this took place in 1756, to the great vexation, not only of the inhabitants, but of every admirer of our bard. The greater part of it was however soon after purchased by Mr. T. Sharp, watch-maker, of Stratford; who, well acquainted with the value set on it by the world, turned it much to his advantage, by converting every fragment into small boxes, goblets, tooth-pick cases, tobacco-stoppers, and numerous other articles. Nor did New Place long escape the destructive hand of Mr. Gastrell, who, being compelled to pay the monthly assessments towards the maintenance of the poor, some of which he expected to avoid because he resided part of the year at Lichfield, though his