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with entire mactivity; but would obtain knowledge where it could, if not from the stores of the ancients, from those at least which were supplied to him by the writers of his own country.
master when he was six years old, he might have I he continued in this situation whilst he remained in continued in a state of instruction for seven or even his single state, has not been told to us, and cannot for eight years; a term sufficiently long for any therefore at this period be known. But in the abboy, not an absolute blockhead, to acquire some-sence of information, conjecture will be busy; and thing more than the mere elements of the classical will soon cover the bare desert with unprofitable languages. We are too ignorant, however, of dates vegetation. Whilst Malone surmises that the young in these instances to speak with any confidence on Poet passed the interval, till his marriage, or a the subject; and we can only assert that seven or large portion of it, in the office of an attorney, eight of the fourteen years, which intervened be- Aubrey stations him during the same term at the tween the birth of our Poet in 1564 and the known head of a country school. But the surmises of period of his father's diminished fortune in 1578, Malone are not universally happy; and to the might very properly have been given to the advan- assertions of Aubrey* I am not disposed to attach tages of the free-school. But now the important more credit than was attached to them by Anthony question is to be asked-What were the attainments Wood, who knew the old gossip and was compeof our young Shakspeare at this seat of youthful tent to appreciate his character. It is more probainstruction? Did he return to his father's house in ble that the necessity, which brought young Shaka state of utter ignorance of classic literature? or speare from his school, retained him with his was he as far advanced in his school-studies as father's occupation at home, till the acquisition of a boys of his age (which I take to be thirteen or four-wife made it convenient for him to remove to a teen) usually are in the common progress of our separate habitation. It is reasonable to conclude public and more reputable schools? That his scho-that a mind like his, ardent, excursive, and "all lastic attainments did not rise to the point of learn-compact of imagination," would not be satisfied ing, seems to have been the general opinion of his contemporaries; and to this opinion I am willing to assent. But I cannot persuade myself that he was entirely unacquainted with the classic tongues; or that, as Farmer and his followers labour to con- In 1582, before he had completed his eighteenth vince us, he could receive the instructions, even for year, he married Anne Hathaway, the daughter, as three or four years, of a school of any character, Rowe informs us, of a substantial yeoman in the and could then depart without any knowledge be- neighbourhood of Stratford. We are unacquainted yond that of the Latin accidence. The most ac- with the precise period of their marriage, and with complished scholar may read with pleasure the the church in which it was solemnized, for in the poetic versions of the classic poets; and the less register of Stratford there is no record of the event; advanced proficient may consult his indolence by and we are made certain of the year, in which it applying to the page of a translation of a prose occurred, only by the baptism of Susanna, the first classic, when accuracy of quotation may not be produce of the union, on the 26th of May, 1583. required and on evidences of this nature is sup- As young Shakspeare neither increased his fortune ported the charge which has been brought, and by this match, though he probably received some which is now generally admitted, against our im- money with his wife, nor raised himself by it in the mortal bard, of more than school-boy ignorance. community, we may conclude that he was induced He might, indeed, from necessity apply to North to it by inclination, and the impulse of love. But for the interpretation of Plutarch; but he read the youthful poet's dream of happiness does not Golding's Ovid only, as I am satisfied, for the en- seem to have been realized by the result. The tertainment of its English poetry. Ben Jonson, bride was eight years older than the bridegroom; who must have been intimately conversant with his and whatever charms she might possess to fascinate friend's classic acquisitions, tells us expressly that, the eyes of her boy-lover, she probably was defi"He had small Latin and less Greek." But, cient in those powers which are requisite to impose according to the usual plan of instruction in our a durable fetter on the heart, and to hold "in sweet schools, he must have traversed a considerable ex-captivity" a mind of the very highest order. No tent of the language of Rome, before he could charge is intimated against the lady: but she is left touch even the confines of that of Greece. He in Stratford by her husband during his long resimust in short have read Ovid's Metamorphoses, dence in the metropolis; and on his death, she is and a part at least of Virgil, before he could open found to be only slightly, and, as it were, casually the grammar of the more ancient, and copious, and remembered in his will. Her second pregnancy, complex dialect. This I conceive to be a fair state- which was productive of twins, (Hamnet and Jument of the case in the question respecting Shak- dith, baptized on the 2d of February, 1584-5,) terspeare's learning. Beyond controversy he was not minated her pride as a mother; and we know noa scholar; but he had not profited so little by the thing more respecting her than that, surviving her hours, which he had passed in school, as not to be illustrious consort by rather more than seven years, able to understand the more casy Roman authors she was buried on the 8th of August, 1623, being, without the assistance of a translation. If he him- as we are told by the inscription on her tomb, of self had been asked, on the subject, he might have the age of sixty-seven. Respecting the habits of parodied his own Falstaff and have answered, "In- life, or the occupation of our young Poet by which deed I am not a Scaliger or a Budæus, but yet no he obtained his subsistence, or even the place of his blockhead, friend." I believe also that he was not residence, subsequently to his marriage, not a floatwholly unacquainted with the popular languages o ing syllable has been wafted to us by tradition for France and Italy. He had abundant leisure to ac- the gratification of our curiosity; and the history quire them; and the activity and the curiosity of of this great man is a perfect blank till the occur his mind were sufficiently strong to urge him to rence of an event, which drove him from his native their acquisition. But to discuss this much agita- town, and gave his wonderful intellect to break out ted question would lead me beyond the limits which in its full lustre on the world. From the frequent are prescribed to me; and, contenting myself with allusions in his writings to the elegant sport of faldeclaring that, in my opinion, both parties are conry, it has been suggested that this, possibly, wrong, both they who contend for our Poet's learn- might be one of his favourite amusements: and noing, and they who place his illiteracy on a level thing can be more probable, from the active season with that of John Taylor, the celebrated waterpoet, I must resume my humble and most deficient narrative. The classical studies of William Shak-picked up information on the highway and scattered it speare, whatever progress he may or may not have made in them, were now suspended; and he was replaced in his father's house, when he had attained his thirteenth or fourteenth year, to assist with his hand in the maintenance of the family. Whether
*What credit can be due to this Mr. Aubrey, who every where as authentic? who whipped Milton at Carmaking our young Shakspeare a butcher's boy, could bridge in violation of the university statutes; and who, embrue his hands in the blood of calves, and represent him as exulting in poetry over the convulsions of the dying animals?
of his life, and his fixed habitation in the country, fant offspring. The world was spread before him, than his strong and eager passion for all the plea- like a dark ocean, in which no fortunate isle could sures of the field. As a sportsman, in his rank of be seen to glitter amid the gloomy and stillen tide. life, he would naturally become a poacher; and But he was blessed with youth and health; his then it is highly probable that he would fall into the conscience was unwounded, for the adventure for acquaintance of poachers; and, associating with which he suffered, was regarded, in the estimation them in his idler hours, would occasionally be one of his times, as a mere boy's frolick, of not greater of their fellow-marauders on the manors of their guilt than the robbing of an orchard; and his mind, rich neighbours. In one of these licentious excur- rich beyond example in the gold of heaven, could sions on the grounds of Sir Thomas Lucy of Charle- throw lustre over the black waste before him, and cote, in the immediate vicinity of Stratford, for the could people it with a beautiful creation of her own. purpose, as it is said, of stealing his deer, our We may imagine him, then, departing from his young bard was detected; and, having farther irri-home, not indeed like the great Roman captive as tated the knight by affixing a satirical ballad on him he is described by the poet
Fertur pudicæ conjugis osculum,
despair; and if he indulged in sanguine expectaous at his heart. It was impossible that he should tion, the event proved him not to be a visionary. In the course of a few years, the exile of Stratford became the associate of wits, the friend of nobles, the favourite of monarchs; and in a period which still left him not in sight of old age, he returned to his birth-place in affluence, with honour, and with the plaudits of the judicious and the noble resound
to the gates of Charlecote, he was compelled to fly before the cumity of his powerful adversary, and to seek an asylum in the capital. Malone, who is prone to doubt, wishes to question the truth of this whole narrative, and to ascribe the flight of young Shakspeare from his native country to the embar-but touched with some feelings of natural sorrow, rassment of his circumstances, and the persecution yet with an unfaltering step, and with hope vigourof his creditors. But the story of the deer-stealing rests upon the uniform tradition of Stratford, and is confirined by the character of Sir T. Lucy, who is known to have been a rigid preserver of his game, by the enmity displayed against his memory by Shakspeare in his succeeding life; and by a part of the offensive ballad itself, preserved by a Mr. Jones of Tarbick, a village near to Stratford, who obtained it from those who must have been aquainted with the fact, and who could not be biased by any interest or passion to falsify or misstate it. Besides the objector, in this instance, seems not to be aware that it was easier to escape from the resentment of an offended proprietor of than from the avarice of a creditor: that game, whilst the former might be satisfied with the removal of the delinquent to a situation where he could no longer infest his parks or his warrens, the latter would pursue his debtor wherever bailiffs could find and writs could attach him. On every account, therefore, I believe the tradition, recorded by Rowe, that our Poet retired from Stratford before the exasperated power of Sir T. Lucy, and found a refuge in London, not possibly beyond the reach of the arm, but beyond the hostile purposes of his provincial antagonist.
The time of this eventful flight of the great bard of England cannot now be accurately determined: but we may somewhat confidently place it between the years 1585 and 1588; for in the former of these we may conclude him to have been present with his family at the baptism of his twins, Hamnet and Jadith; and than the latter of them we cannot well assign a later date for his arrival in London, since we know that before 1592 he had not only written two long poems, the Venus and Adonis, and the Rape of Lucrece, but had acquired no small degree of celebrity as an actor and as a dramatic writer.
ing in his ears.
stage; to which his access, as it appears, was casy. His immediate refuge in the metropolis was the Stratford was fond of theatrical representations, which it accommodated with its town or guildhall; and had frequently been visited by companies of players when our Poet was of an age, not only to enjoy their performances, but to form an acquaintance with their members. Thomas Greene, who sidered by some writers as a kinsman of our auwas one of their distinguished actors, has been conthor's; and though he, possibly, may have been confounded by them with another Thomas Greene, with the Shakspeares, he was certainly a fellow a barrister, who was unquestionably connected townsman of our fugitive bard's; whilst Heminge question, belonged either to Stratford or to its imand Burbage, two of the leaders of the company in mediate neighbourhood. With the door of the theatre thus open to him, and under the impulse of his own natural bias, (for however in after life he sional actor, it must be concluded that he now felt may have lamented his degradation as a profesful that young Shakspeare should solicit this asylum a strong attachment to the stage,) it is not wonderin his distress; or that he should be kindly received by men who knew him, and some of whom were connected, if not with his family, at least with At this agitating crisis of his life, the situation of himself, was the Earl of Leicester's or the Queen's; his native town. The company, to which he united young Shakspeare was certainly, in its obvious which had obtained the royal license in 1574. The aspect, severe and even terrific. Without friends to protect or assist him, he was driven, under the enrolled among its members, was the Globe on the place of its performances, when our Poet became frown of exasperated power, from his profession; Bankside; and its managers subsequently purfrom his native fields; from the companions of his chased the theatre of Blackfriars, (the oldest theachildhood and his youth; from his wife and his in-tre in London,) which they had previously rented * Malone was much addicted to doubt. Knowing, for some years; and at these two theatres, the perhaps, that, on all the chief topics of the Grecian first of which was open in the centre for summer hools of philosophy, the great mind of Cicero faltered representations, and the last covered for those of ha doubt, our commentator and critic wished, possibly, winter, were acted all the dramatic productions of to establish his claim to a superiority of intellect by the Shakspeare. That he was at first received into the ane academic withholding of assent. He ought, how-company in a very subordinate situation, may be ever, to have been aware that scepticism, which is regarded not merely as probable, but as certain: times the misfortune of wise men, is generally the that he ever carried a link to light the frequenters of the theatre, or ever held their horses, must be rejected as an absurd tale, fabricated, no doubt, by the lovers of the marvellous, who were solicitous to obtain a contrast in the humility of his first to the pride of his subsequent fortunes. The mean and servile occupation, thus assigned to him, was present afflicted state: and his relations and connecincompatible with his circumstances, even in their
effectation of fools.
The first stanza of this ballad, which is admitted to he engine, may properly be preserved as a curiosity. Ex as it is to be found in every life of our author, with he exception of Rowe's, I shall refer my readers, to hom it could not be gratifying, to some other page for
I than my own.
From Robert Greene's posthumous work, written in 32, and Chettle's Kind Hart's Dream, published very
tions, though far from wealthy, were yet too remote | departure from Stratford and his becoming the obfrom absolute poverty, to permit him to act for a mo- ject of Greene's malignant attack, constituted a ment in such a degrading situation. He was certainly, busy and an important period of his life. Within therefore, immediately admitted within the theatre; this term he had conciliated the friendship of the but in what rank or character cannot now be known. young Thomas Wriothesly, the liberal, the high This fact, however, soon became of very little con- souled, the romantic Earl of Southampton: a sequence; for he speedily raised himself into con- friendship which adhered to him throughout his life; sideration among his new fellows by the exertions and he had risen to that celebrity, as a poet and a of his pen, if not by his proficiency as an actor. dramatist, which placed him with the first wits of the When he began his career as a dramatic writer; age, and subsequently lifted him to the notice and or to what degree of excellence he attained in his the favour of Elizabeth and James, as they succespersonation of dramatic characters, are questions sively sate upon the throne of England. which have been frequently agitated without any At the point of time which our narrative has now satisfactory result. By two publications, which reached, we cannot accurately determine what appeared toward the end of 1592, we know, or at dramatic pieces had been composed by him: but least we are induced strongly to infer, that at that we are assured that they were of sufficient excelperiod, either as the corrector of old or as the writer lence to excite the envy and the consequent hostiof original dramas, he had supplied the stage with a lity of those who, before his rising, had been the copiousness of materials. We learn also from the luminaries of the stage. It would be gratifying to same documents that, in his profession of actor, he curiosity if the feat were possible, to adjust with trod the boards not without the acquisition of ap- any precision the order in which his wonderful plause. The two publications, to which I allude, productions issued from his brain. But the atare Robert Greene's "Groatsworth of Wit bought tempt has more than once been made, and never with a Million of Repentance," and Henry Chet- yet with entire success. We know only that his tle's "Kind Hart's Dream." In the former of connection with the stage continued for about twenthese works, which was published by Chettle sub-ty years, (though the duration even of this term sequently to the unhappy author's decease, the cannot be settled with precision,) and that, within writer, addressing his fellow dramatists, Marlowe, this period he composed either partially, as workPeele, and Lodge, says, "Yes! trust them not," ing on the ground of others, or educing them alto(the managers of the theatre;) "for there is an gether from his own fertility, thirty-five or (if that upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that, wretched thing, Pericles, in consequence of Drywith his tiger's heart wrapped in a player's hide, den's testimony in favour of its authenticity, and supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank of a few touches of THE GOLDEN FEN being discoverse as the best of you; and, being an absolute verable in its last scenes, must be added to the Johannes Factotum, is in his own conceit the only number) thirty-six dramas; and that of these it is Shake-scene in a country." As it could not be probable that such as were founded on the works doubtful against whom this attack was directed, we of preceding authors were the first essays of his cannot wonder that Shakspeare should be hurt by dramatic talent; and such as were more perfectly it: or that he should expostulate on the occasion his own, and are of the first sparkle of excellence, rather warmly with Chettle as the editor of the of- were among the last. While I should not hesitate, fensive matter. In consequence, as it is probable, therefore, to station "Pericles," the three parts of of this expression of resentment on the part of "Henry VI.," (for I cannot see any reason for Shakspeare, a pamphlet from the pen of Chettle throwing the first of these parts from the protection called "Kind Hart's Dream" issued from the press of our author's name,) "Love's Labour Lost," before the close of the same year (1592,) which had "The Comedy of Errors," "The Taming of the witnessed the publication of Greene's posthumous Shrew," "King John," and "Richard II.," among work. In this pamphlet, Chettle acknowledges his his earliest productions, I should, with equal conficoncern for having edited any thing which had given dence, arrange "Macheth," "Lear," "Othello,” pain to Shakspeare, of whose character and accom-"Twelfth Night," and "The Tempest," with his plishments he avows a very favourable opinion. latest, assigning them to that season of his life, Marlowe, as well as Shakspeare, appears to have when his mind exulted in the conscious plenitude been offended by some passages in this production of power. Whatever might be the order of succesof poor Greene's: and to both of these great drama-sion in which this illustrious family of genius sprang tic poets Chettle refers in the short citation which into existence, they soon attracted notice, and we shall now make from his page: "With neither speedily compelled the homage of respect from of them that take offence was I acquainted, and with those who were the most eminent for their learnone of them" (concluded to be Marlowe, whose ing, their talents, or their rank. Jonson, Selden, moral character was unhappily not good) "I care Beaumont, Fletcher, and Donne, were the associ not if I never be. The other," (who must neces-ates and the intimates of our Poet: the Earl of sarily be Shakspeare,) "whom at that time I did not so much spare as since I wish I had; for that, as I have moderated the hate of living authors, and might have used my own discretion, (especially in such a case, the author being dead,) that I did not I am as sorry as if the original fault had been my fault: because myself have seen his demeanor no less civil than he is excellent in the quality he professes. Besides divers of worship have reported his uprightness of dealing, which argues his honesty; and his facetious grace in writing, that approves his art." Shakspeare was now twenty-eight years of age; and this testimony of a contemporary, who was acquainted with him, and was himself an actor, in favour of his moral and his professional excellence, must be admitted as of considerable value. It is evident that he had now written for the stage; and before he entered upon dramatic composition, we are certain that he had completed, though he had not published his two long and laboured poems of Venus and Adonis, and the Rape of Lucrece. We cannot, therefore, date his arrival in the capital later than 1588, or, perhaps, than 1587; and the four or five years which interposed between his
Southampton was his especial friend: the Earls of Pembroke and of Montgomery were avowedly his admirers and patrons: Queen Elizabeth distinguished him with her favour; and her successor, James, with his own hand, honoured the great dra matist with a letter of thanks for the compliment paid in Macbeth to the royal family of the Stuarts.*
The circumstance which first brought the two lords of the stage, Shakspeare and Jonson, into that embrace of friendship which continued indissoluble, as there is reason to believe, during the permission of mortality, is reported to have been the kind assistance given by the former to the lat ter, when he was offering one of his plays (Every Man in his Humour) for the benefit of representa tion. The manuscript, as it is said, was on the point of being rejected and returned with a rude answer, when Shakspeare, fortunately glancing his eye over its pages, immediately discovered its
The existence of this royal letter of thanks is as serted on the authority of Sheffield Duke of Bucking ham, who saw it in the possession of Davenant. The cause of the thanks is assigned on the most probable conjecture.
merit; and, with his influence, obtained its intro- | land to a mere actor, of ten times the nominal and duction on the stage. To this story some specious twice the effective value of this proud bounty of objections have been raised; and there cannot be the great Earl of Southampton's* to one of the any necessity for contending for it, as no lucky ac- master spirits of the human race? † cident can be required to account for the induce- Of the degree of patronage and kindness extendment of amity between two men of high genius, each ed to Shakspeare by the Earls of Pembroke and treading the same broad path to fame and fortune, Montgomery, we are altogether ignorant: but we yet each with a character so peculiarly his own, know, from the dedication of his works to them by that he might attain his object without wounding the Heminge and Condell, that they had distinguished pride or invading the interests of the other. It has themselves as his admirers and friends. That he been generally believed that the intellectual superi-numbered many more of the nobility of his day ority of Shakspeare excited the envy and the con- among the homagers of his transcendent genius, sequent enmity of Jonson. It is well that of these we may consider as a specious probability. But asserted facts no evidences can be adduced. The we must not indulge in conjectures, when we can friendship of these great men seems to have been gratify ourselves with the reports of tradition, apunbroken during the life of Shakspeare; and, on proaching very nearly to certainties. Elizabeth, as his death, Jonson made an offering to his memory it is confidently said, honoured our illustrious draof high, just, and appropriate panegyric. He places matist with her especial notice and regard. She him above not only the modern but the Greek dra- was unquestionably fond of theatric exhibitions; matists; and he professes for him admiration short and, with her literary mind and her discriminating only of idolatry. They who can discover any pe- eye, it is impossible that she should overlook; and nuriousness of praise in the surviving poet must be that, not overlooking, she should not appreciate the gifted with a very peculiar vision of mind. With man, whose genius formed the prime glory of her the flowers, which he strewed upon the grave of reign. It is affirmed that, delighted with the chahis friend, there certainly was not blended one racter of Falstaff as drawn in the two parts of Henry poisonous or bitter leaf. If, therefore, he was, as IV., she expressed a wish to see the gross and dishe is represented to have been by an impartial and solute knight under the influence of love; and that able judge, (Drummond of Hawthornden,) "a great the result of our Poet's compliance, with the desire lover and praiser of himself; a contemner and of his royal mistress, was "The Merry Wives of scorner of others; jealous of every word and ac- Windsor." Favoured, however, as our Poet tion of those about him," &c. &c., how can we seems to have been by Elizabeth, and notwithotherwise account for the uninterrupted harmony of standing the fine incense which he offered to her his intercourse with our bard than by supposing vanity, it does not appear that he profited in any that the frailties of his nature were overruled by degree by her bounty. She could distinguish and that pre-eminence of mental power in his friend could smile upon genius: but unless it were immewhich precluded competition; and by his friend's diately serviceable to her personal or her political sweetness of temper and gentleness of manners, interests, she had not the soul to reward it. Howwhich repressed every feeling of hostility. Be-ever inferior to her in the arts of government and tween Shakspeare and Thomas Wriothesly, the in some of the great characters of mind might be munificent and the noble Earl of Southampton, dis-her Scottish successor, he resembled her in his love tinguished in history by his inviolable attachment of letters, and in his own cultivation of learning. to the rash and the unfortunate Essex, the friendship was permanent and ardent. At its commencement, m 1593, when Shakspeare was twenty-nine years of age, Southampton was not more than nineteen; and, with the love of general literature, he was particularly attached to the exhibitions of the theatre. His attention was first drawn to Shakspeare by the poet's dedication to him of the "Venus and Adonis," that "first heir," as the dedicator calls it, "of his invention;" and the acquaintance, once begun between characters and hearts like theirs, would soon mature into intimacy and friendship. In the following year (1594) Shakspeare's second poem, "The Rape of Lucrece," was addressed by him to his noble patron in a strain of less distant timidity; and we may infer from it that the poet had then obtained a portion of the favour which he sought. That his fortunes were essentially promoted by the munificent patronage of Southampton cannot reasonably be doubted. We are told by Sir William Davenant, who surely possessed the means of knowing the fact, that the peer gave at one time to his favoured dramatist the magnificent present of a thousand pounds. This is rejected by Malone as an extravagant exaggeration; and be cause the donation is said to have been made for the purpose of enabling the poet to complete a pur-assistance of the crown. chase which he had then in contemplation; and The late Duke of Northumberland made a present because no purchase of an adequate magnitude to John Kemble of 10,000. seems to have been accomplished by him, the critic treats the whole story with contempt; and is desirous of substituting a dedication fee of one hundred pounds for the more princely liberality which is attested by Davenant. But surely a purchase might be within the view of Shakspeare, and eventually not be effected; and then of course the thousand pounds in question would be added to his personal property; where it would just complete the income on which he is reported to have retired from the stage. As to the incredibility of the gift in consequence of its value, have we not witnessed a gift, made in the present day, by a noble of the
He was a scholar, and even a poet: his attachment to the general cause of literature was strong; and his love of the drama and the theatre was particularly warm. Before his accession to the English throne he had written, as we have before noticed, a letter, with his own hand, to Shakspeare,
As the patron and the friend of Shakspeare, Thomas Wriothesly, Earl of Southampton, is entitled to our especial attention and respect. But I cannot admit his eventful history into the text, without breaking the uniwithin the compass of a note will be only to inform my ty of my biographical narrative; and to speak of him readers, that he was born on the 6th of October, 1573: that he was engaged in the mad attempts of his friend, the Earl of Essex, against the government of Eliza beth: that, in consequence, he was confined during her life by that Queen, who was so lenient as to be satisfied on her death, he was liberated by her successor, not with the blood of one of the friends: that, immediately disposed to adopt the enmities of the murderess of his mother: that he was promoted to honours by the new sovereign; and that, finally, being sent with a military command to the Low Countries, he caught a fever from his son, Lord Wriothesly; and, surviving him only five days, concluded his active and honourable career of life at Bergen-op-zoom, on the 10th of November, 1624. It left his widow in such circumstances as to call for the may be added, that, impoverished by his liberalities, he
Animated as this comedy is with much distinct delineation of character, it cannot be pronounced to be unworthy of its great author. But it evinces the difficulty of writing upon a prescribed subject, and of workhe sported in the scenes of Henry IV., Falstaff was ining with effect under the control of another mind. As susceptible of love: and the egregious dupe of Windsor, ducked and cudgelled as he was, cannot be the wit of Eastcheap, or the guest of Shallow, or the military commander on the field of Shrewsbury. But even the He did what he could to revive his own Falstaff: but genius of Shakspeare could not effect impossibilities. the life which he reinfused into his creature was not the vigorous vitality of Nature; and he placed him in a scene where he could not subsist.
acknowledging, as it is supposed, the compliment rell, a clergyman, into whose worse than Gothe paid to him in the noble scenes of Macbeth; and hands New Place had most unfortunately fallen. scarcely had the crown of England fallen upon his As we are not told the precise time, when Shak head, when he granted his royal patent to our Poet speare retired from the stage and the metropods to and his company of the Globe; and thus raised enjoy the tranquillity of life in his native town, we them from being the Lord Chamberlain's servants cannot pretend to determine it. As he is said, to be the servants of the King. The patent is dated however, to have passed some years in his estabon the 19th of May, 1603, and the name of Williamlishment at New Place, we may conclude that his Shakspeare stands second on the list of the patentees. removal took place either in 1612 or in 1613, when As the demise of Elizabeth had occurred on the he was yet in the vigour of life, being not more 24th of the preceding March, this early attention of than forty-eight or forty-nine year old. He bad James to the company of the Globe may be regard-ceased, as it is probable, to tread the stage as an ed as highly complimentary to Shakspeare's thea- actor at an earlier period; for in the it of actors, tre, and as strongly demonstrative of the new sov-prefixed to the Volpone of B. Jonson, performed at ereign's partiality for the drama. But James' the Globe theatre, and published in 1605, the name patronage of our Poet was not in any other way of William Shakspeare is not to be found. However beneficial to his fortunes. If Elizabeth were too versed he might be in the science of acting, (and parsimonious for an effective patron, by his profu- that he was versed in it we are assured by his dision on his pleasures and his favourites, James soon rections to the players in Hamlet,) and, however became too needy to possess the means of bounty well he might acquit himself in some of the suborfor the reward of talents and of learning. Honour, dinate characters of the drama, it does not appear in short, was all that Shakspeare gained by the fa- that he ever rose to the higher honours of his provour of two successive sovereigns, each of them fession. But if they were above his attainment, versed in literature, each of them fond of the dra- they seem not to have been the objects of his amma, and each of them capable of appreciating the bition; for by one of his sonnets we find that he transcendency of his genius. lamented the fortune which had devoted him to the stage, and that he considered himself as degraded by such a public exhibition. The time was not yet come when actors were to be the companions of princes: when their lives, as of illustrious men, were to be written; and when statues were to be erected to them by public contribution!
It would be especially gratifying to us to exhibit to our readers some portion at least of the personal history of this illustrious man during his long residence in the capital;-to announce the names and characters of his associates, a few of which only we can obtain from Fuller; to delineate his habits of life; to record his convivial wit; to com- The amount of the fortune, on which Shakspeare memorate the books which he read; and to number retired from the busy world, has been the subject his compositions as they dropped in succession of some discussion. By Gildon, who forbears to from his pen. But no power of this nature is in-state his authority, this fortune is valued at 3001. a dulged to us. All that active and efficient portion year; and by Malone, who, calculating our Poet's of his mortal existence, which constituted conside-real property from authentic documents, assigns a rably more than a third part of it, is an unknown random value to his personal, it is reduced to 2004. region, not to be penetrated by our most zealous Of these two valuations of Shakspeare's property, and intelligent researches. It may be regarded by we conceive that Gildon's approaches the more us as a kind of central Africa, which our reason nearly to the truth: for if to Malone's conjectural assures us to be glowing with fertility and alive with estimate of the personal property, of which he propopulation; but which is abandoned in our maps, fesses to be wholly ignorant, be added the thousand from the ignorance of our geographers, to the death pounds, given by Southampton, (an act of munifiof barrenness, and the silence of sandy desolation. cence of which we entertain not a doubt,) the preBy the Stratford register we can ascertain that his cise total, as money then bore an interest of 101. only son, Hamnet, was buried, in the twelfth year per cent., of the three hundred pounds a year will of his age, on the 11th of August, 1596; and that, be made up. On the smallest of these incomes, after an interval of nearly eleven years, his eldest however, when money was at least five times its daughter, Susanna, was married to John Hall, present value, might our Poet possess the comforts a physician, on the 5th of June, 1607. With the ex- and the liberalities of life: and in the society of ception of two or three purchases made by him at his family, and of the neighbouring gentry, conciliaStratford, one of them being that of New Place, ted by the amiableness of his manners and the which he repaired and ornamented for his future re-pleasantness of his conversation, he seems to have sidence, the two entries which we have now ex-passed his few remaining days in the enjoyment of tracted from the register, are positively all that we tranquillity and respect. So exquisite, indeed, apcan relate with confidence of our great poet and his pears to have been his relish of the quiet, which family, during the long term of his connection with was his portion within the walls of New Place, that the theatre and the metropolis. We may fairly it induced a complete oblivion of all that had enconclude, indeed, that he was present at each of the gaged his attention, and had aggrandized his name domestic events, recorded by the register: that he in the preceding scenes of his life. Without any attended his son to the grave, and his daughter to regard to his literary fame, either present or to the altar. We may believe also, from its great come, he saw with perfect unconcern some of his probability, even to the testimony of Aubrey, that immortal works brought, mutilated and deformed, he paid an annual visit to his native town; whence in surreptitious copies, before the world; and others his family were never removed, and which he seems of them, with an equal indifference to their fate, always to have contemplated as the resting place he permitted to remain in their unrevised or interof his declining age. He probably had nothing more polated MSS. in the hands of the theatric prompthan a lodging in London, and this he might occa-ier. There is not, probably, in the whole compass sionally change: but in 1596 he is said to have of literary history, such another instance of a proud lived somewhere near to the Bear-Garden, in South-superiority to what has been called by a rival