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With a privilege, rarely indulged even to the sons make them worse, are said to have been written of genius, he had produced his admirable works after Combe's death. Steevens and Malone diswithout any throes or labour of the mind : they had credit the whole tale. The two first lines, as given obtained for him all that he had asked from them, to us by Rowe, are unquestionably not Shak--the patronage of the great, the applause of the speare's; and that any lasting enmity subsisted witty, and a competency of fortune adequate to between these two burghers of Stratford is disprothe moderation of his desires. Having fulfilled, or, ved by the respective wills of the parties, Juha? possibly, exceeded his expectations, they had dis- Combe bequeathing five pounds to our Poet, and charged their duty; and he threw them altogether our Poet leaving his sword to John Combe's nefrom his thought, and whether it were their des- phew and residuary legatee, John Combe himself tiny to emerge into renown, or to perish in the being at that time deceased. With the two comdrawer of a manager; to be brought to light in a mentators above mentioned, I am inclined, therefore, state of integrity, or to revisit the glimpses of the on the whole, to reject the story as a fabrication; moon with a thousand mortal murders on their head, though I cannot, with Steevens, convict the lines of engaged no part of his solicitude or interest. They malignity; or think, with him and with Malone, that had given to him the means of easy life, and he the character of Shakspeare, on the supposition of sought from them nothing more. This insensi- bris being their author, could require any laboured bility in our Author to the offspring of his brain vindication to clear it from stain. In the anecdote, may be the subject of our wonder or admira- as related by Rowe, I can see nothing but a whimtion: but its consequences have been calamitous sical sally, breaking from the mind of one friend, to those who in after times have hung with delight and of a nature to excite a good-humoured smile on over his pages. On the intellect and the temper of the cheek of the other. In Aubrey's hands, tho these ill-lated mortals it has inflicted a heavy load transaction assumes a somewhat darker comof punishment in the dullness and the arrogance of plexion; and the worse verses, as written after the commentators and illustrators—in the conceit and death of their subject, may justly be branded as petulance of Theobald ; the imbecility of Capell; malevolent, and as discovering enmity in the heart the pert and tasteless dogmatism of Steevens; the of their writer. But I have dwelt too long upon a ponderous littleness of Malone and of Drake. Some topic which, in truth, is undeserving of a syllable; superior men, it is true, have enlisted themselves and if I were to linger on it any longer, for the purpose in the cause of Shakspeare. Rowe, Pope, War- of exhibiting Malone's reasons for his preference of burton, Hanmer, and Johnson have successively Aubrey's copy of the epitaph to Rowe's, and his been his editors; and have professed to give his discovery of the propriety and beauty of the single scenes in their original purity to the world. But Ho in the last line of Aubrey's, as Ho is the abbrefrom some cause or other, which it is not our pre- viation of Hobgoblin, one of the names of Robin sent business to explore, each of these editors, in Good-fellow, the fairy servant of Oberon, my readhis turn, has disappointed the just expectations of ers would have just cause to complain of me, as the public; and, with an inversion of Nature's sporting with their time and their patience. general rule, the little men have finally prevailed On the 9th of July, 1614, Stratford was ravaged against the great. The blockheads have hooted by a fire, which destroyed fifty-four dwelling-houses the wits from the field; and, attaching themselves besides barns and out-offices. It abstained, howto the mighty body of Shakspeare, like barnacles to ever, from the property of Shakspeare; and he had the hull of a proud man of war, they are prepared to only to commiserate the losses of his neighbours. plough with him the vast ocean of time, and thus, With his various powers of pleasing; his wit and by the only means in their power, to snatch them- his humour ; the gentleness of his manners; the flow selves from that oblivion to which Nature had devo- of his spirits and his fancy; the variety of anected them. It would be unjust, however, to defraud dote with which his mind must have been stored; these gentlemen of their proper praise. They have his knowledge of the world, and his intimacy read for men of talents; and, by their gross labour with man, in every gradation of the society, from in the mine, they have accumulated materials to the prompter of a playhouse to the peer and the be arranged and polished by the hand of the finer sovereign, Shakspeare must have been a delightful artist. Some apology may be necessary for this —nay, a fascinating companion; and his acquainshort digression from the more immediate subject tance must necessarily have been courted by all of my biography. But the three or four years, the prime inhabitants of Stratford and its vicinity. which were passed by Shakspeare in the peaceful But over this, as over the preceding periods of his retirement of New Place are not distinguished by life, brood silence and oblivion; and in our total igany traditionary anecdoto deserving of our record; norance of his intimacies and friendships, we must and the chasm may not improperly be supplied with apply to our imagination to furnish out his conwhatever stands in contiguity with it." I should vivial board where intellect presided, and delight, pass in silence, as too trifling for notice, the story with admiration, gave the applause. of our Poet's extempore and jocular epitaph on On the 2d of February, 1615-16, he married his John Combe, a rich townsman of Stratford, and a youngest daughter, Judith, then 'in the thirtynoted money-lender, if my readers would not object first year of her age, to Thomas Quiney, a vintner to me that I had omitted an anecdote which had in Stratford; and on the 25th of the succeeding been honoured with a place in every preceding bio- month he executed his will. He was then, as it graphy of my author. 'As the circumstance is re- would appear, in the full vigour and enjoyment of lated by Rowe," In a pleasant conversation among life ; and we are not informed that his constitution their common friends, Mr. Combe told Shakspeare, had been previously weakened by the attack of any in a laughing manner, that he fancied he intended malady. But his days, or rather his hours, were now to write his epitaph if he happened to outlive him : all numbered ; for he breathed his last on the 23d of and, since he could not know what might be said of the ensuing April, on that anniversary of his birth him when he was dead, he desired it might be done which completed his fifty-second year. It would be immediately: upon which Shakspeare gave him gratifying to our curiosity to know something of the these four verses :
disease, which thus prematurely terminated the life
of this illustrious man: but the secret is withheld Ten in the hundred lies here ingraved:
from us ; and it would be idle to endeavour to obTig a hundred to ten his soul is not saved. tain it. We may be certain that Dr. Hall, who was If any man ask, who lies in this tomb : Ho! Ho! quoth the devil, 'tis my John a Combe. father-in-law in his last illness; and Dr. Hall kept
a physician of considerable eminence, attended his
a register of all the remarkable cases, with their But the sharpness of the satire is said to have stung symptoms and treatment, which in the course of the man so severely that he never forgave it.”. By his practice had fallen under his observation. This ubrey the story is differently told; and the lines curious MS., which had escaped the enmity of time, Aquestion, with some alterations, which evidently was obtained by Malone : but the recorded casos in it most unfortunately began with the year 1617; whose expense the monument was constructed, and the preceding part of the register, which most nor by whose hand it was executed ; nor at what probably had been in existence, could no where be precise time it was erected. It may have been found. The mortal complaint, therefore, of William wrought by the artist, acting under the recollections Shakspeare is likely to remain for ever unknown; of the Shakspeare family into some likeness of the and as darkness had closed upon his path through great townsman of Stratford; and on this probalife, so darkness now gathered round his bed of bility, we may contemplate it with no inconsidedeath, awfully to cover it from the eyes of succeed- rable interest. I cannot, however, persuade mying generations.
self that the likeness could have been strong. The On the 25th of April, 1616, two days after his de- forehead, indeed, is sufficiently spacious and intel cease, he was buried in the chancel of the church lectual : but there is a disproportionate length in the of Stratford ; and at some period within the seven under part of the face: the mouth is weak; and subsequent years, (for in 1623 it is noticed in the the whole countenance is heavy and inert.
Not verses of Leonard Digges,) a monument was raised having seen the monument itself, I can speak of it to his memory either by the respect of his towns. only from its numerous copies by the graver; and by men, or by the piety of his relations. It represents these it is possible that I may be deceived. But if we the Poet with a countenance of thought, resting on cannot rely on the Stratford bust for a resemblance a cushion and in the act of writing. It is placed of our immortal dramatist, where are we to look under an arch, between two Corinthian columns of with any hope of finding a trace of his features ? It black marble, the capitals and bases of which are is highly probable that no portrait of him was paint. gilt. The face is said, but, as far as I can find, not ed during his life ; and it is certain that no portrait of on any adequate authority, to have been modelled him, with an incontestible claim to genuineness, is from the face of the deceased; and the whole was at present in existence. The fairest title to aupainted, to bring the imitation nearer to nature. thenticity seems to be assignable to that which is The face and the hands wore the carnation of life: called the Chandos portrait; and is now in the colthe eyes were light hazel: the hair and beard lection of the Duke of Buckingham, at Stowe. The were auburn: a black gown, without sleeves, hung possession of this picture can be distinctly traced loosely over a scarlet doublet. The cushion in up to Betterton and Davenant. Through the hands its upper part was green: in its lower, crimson; of successive purchasers, it became the property and the tassels were of gold colour. This certainly of Mr. Robert Keck. On the marriage of the heirwas not in the high classical taste; though we may ess of the Keck family, it passed to Mr. Nicholl, of learn from Pausanias that statues in Greece were Colney-Hatch, in Middlesex: on the union of this sometimes coloured after life; but as it was the gentleman's daughter with the Duke of Chandos, it work of contemporary hands, and was intended, by found a place in that nobleman's collection; and, those who knew the Poet, to convey to posterity finally, by the marriage of the present Duke of some resemblance of his lineaments and dress, it Buckingham with the Lady Anne Elizabeth Brydges, was a monument of rare value ; and the tasteless- the heiress of the house of Chandos, it has settled ness of Malone, who caused all its tints to be ob- in the gallery of Stowe. This was pronounced by literated with a daubing of white lead, cannot be the late Earl of Orford, (Horace Walpole,) as we sufficiently ridiculed and condemned. Its material are informed by Mr. Granger, to be the only origiis a species of free-stone; and as the chisel of the nal picture of Shakspeare. But two others, if not sculptor was most probably under the guidance of more, contend with it for the palm of originality; one, Doctor Hall, it bore some promise of likeness to the which in consequence of its having been in the posmighty dead. Immediately below the cushion is the session of Mr. Felton, of Drayton, in the county of fo.lowing distich :
Salop, from whom it was purchased by the Boydells,
has been called the Felton Shakspeare ; and one, a Judicio Pylium; genio Socratem ; arte Maronem
miniature, which, by some connection, as I believe, Terra legit; populus mærel; Olympus habet. with the family of its proprietors, found its way into
the cabinet of the late Sir James Lamb, more geneOn a tablet underneath are inscribed these lines :
rally, perhaps, known by his original name of James
Bland Burgess. The first of these pictures was Stay, passenger, why dost thou go so fast ?
reported to have been found at the Boar's Head in Read, if thou can'st, whom envious death has placed Within this monument—Shakspeare; with whom
Eastcheap, one of the favourite haunts, as it was Quick Nature died; whose name doth deck the tomb
erroneously called, of Shakspeare and his compaFar more than cost : since all that he hath writ nions; and the second by a tradition, in the family Leaves living art but page to serve his wit :
of Somervile the poet, is affirmed to have been
drawn from Shakspeare, who sate for it at the presand the flat stone, covering the grave, holds out, in sing instance of a Somervile, one of his most intivery irregular characters, a supplication to the read- mate friends. But the genuineness of neither of er, with the promise of a blessing and the menace these pictures can be supported under a rigid inof a curse :
vestigation; and their pretensions must yield to Good Friend! for Jesus' sake forbear
those of another rival portrait of our Poet, which To dig the dust inclosed here.
was once in the possession of Mr. Jennens, of GopBlest be the man that spares these stones ; sal in Leicestershire, and is now the property of And cursed be he that moves my bones.
that liberal and literary nobleman, the Duke of
Somerset. For the authenticity of this portrait, The last of these inscriptions may have been written attributed to the pencil of Cornelius Jansenn, Mr. by Shakspeare himself under the apprehension of Boaden* contends with much zeal and ingenuity. his bones being tumbled, with those of many of his Knowing that some of the family of Lord Southtownsmen, into the charnel-house of the parish. ampton, Shakspeare's especial friend and patron, But his dust has continued unviolated, and is likely had been painted by Jansenn, Mr. Boaden speto remain in its holy repose till the last awful scene ciously infers that, at the Earl's request, his favourite of our perishable globe. It were to be wished that dramatist had, likewise, allowed his face to this the two preceding inscriptions were more worthy, painter's imitation ; and that the Gopsal portrait, than they are, of the tomb to which they are at the result of the artist's skill on this occasion, had tached. It would be gratifying if we could give any obtained a distinguished place in the picture-gallery faith to the tradition, which asserts that the bust of of the noble Earl. This, however, is only unsupthis monument was sculptured from a cast moulded ported assertion, and the mere idleness of conjecon the face of the departed poet; for then we might ture. It is not pretended to be ascertained that the assure ourselves that we possess one authentic re. Gopsal portrait was ever in the possession of Shaksemblance of this pre-eminently intellectual mortal. But the cast, if taken, must have been taken im
* An Inquiry into the Authenticity of Pictures and mediately after his death; and we know neither at Prints offered as Portraits of Shakspeare, p. 67—50
speare's illustrious friend; and its transfers, during poetic palm. I have already cited Chettle: let me the hundred and thirty-seven years, which inter- now cite Jonson, from whose pages much more of posed between the death of Southampton, in 1624, a similar nature might be adduced. “I loved,” he and the time of its emerging from darkness at Gop- says in his · Discoveries, “I loved the man, and do sal, in 1761, are not made the subjects even of a honour his memory, on this side idolatry, as much random guess.
On such evidence, therefore, if as any. He was, indeed, honest, of an open and evidence it can be called, it is impossible for us to free nature; had an excellent fancy, brave notions receive, with Mr. Boaden, the Gopsal picture as a and gentle expressions,” &c. &c. When Jonson genuine portrait of Shakspeare. We are now as- apostrophizes his deceased friend, he calls him, sured that it was from the Chandos portrait Sir “My gentle Shakspeare," and the title of "the Godfrey Kneller copied the painting which he pre- sweet swan of Avon," so generally given to him, sented to Dryden, a poet inferior only to him whose after the example of Jonson, by his contemporaries, portrait constituted the gift. The beautiful verses, seems to have been given with reference as much with which the poet requited the kind attention of to the suavity of his temper as to the harmony of the painter, are very generally known : but many his verse. In their dedication of his works to the may require to be informed that the present, made Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, his fellows, on this occasion by the great master of the pen- Heminge and Condell
, profess that their great obcil to the greater master of the pen, is still in ject in their publication was “only to keep the existence, preserved no doubt by the respect felt to memory of so worthy a friend and fellow alive as be due to the united names of Kneller, Dryden, was our Shakspeare :” and their preface to the and Shakspeare ; and is now in the collection of public appears evidently to have been dictated by Earl Fitzwilliam at Wentworth Castle.* The ori- their personal and affectionate attachment to ther ginal painting, from which Droeshout drew the copy departed friend. If we wish for any further evifor his engraving, prefixed to the first folio edition dence in the support of the moral character of of our Poet's dramas, has not yet been discovered; Shakspeare, we may find it in the friendship of Southand I feel persuaded that no original painting ever ampton ; we may extract it from the pages of his existed for his imitation; but that the artist worked immortal works. Dr. Johnson, in his much overin this instance from his own recollection, assisted praised Preface, seems to have taken a view, very probably by the suggestions of the Poet's theatric different from ours, of the morality of our author's friends. We are, indeed, strongly of opinion that scenes. He says, “ His (Shakspeare's) first defect Shakspeare, remarkable, as he seems to have been, is that to which may be imputed most of the evil in for a lowly estimate of himself, and for a carelessness books or in men. He sacrifices virtue to conveof all personal distinction, would not readily submitnience; and is so much more careful to please than his face to be a painter's study, to the loss of hours, to instruct, that he seems to write without any moral which he might more usefully or more pleasurably purpose. From his writings, indeed, a system of assign to reading, to composition, or to conviviality. moral duty may be selected," (indeed !) " but his If any sketch of his features was made during his precepts and axioms drop casually from him:” life, it was most probably taken by some rapid
and| (Would the preface-writer have wished the dramaunprofessional pencil
, when the Poet was unaware tist to give a connected treatise on ethics like the of it; or, taken by surprise, and exposed by it to offices of Cicero?) “he makes no just distribution no inconvenience, was not disposed to resist it. of good or evil, nor is always careful to show in We are convinced that no authentic portrait of this the virtuous a disapprobation of the wicked: he great man has yet been produced, or is likely to be carries his persons indifferently through right and discovered; and that we must not therefore hope wrong; and at the close dismisses them without to be gratified with any thing which we can contem- further care, and leaves their examples to operate plate with confidence as a faithful representation of by chance. This fault the barbarity of the age canhis countenance. The head of the statue, executed not extenuate ; for it is always a writer's duty to by Scheemaker, and erected, in 1741, to the honour make the world better, and justice is a virtue indeof our poet in Westminster Abbey, was sculptured pendent on time or place.” Why this commonplace after a mezzotinto, scraped by Simon nearly twenty on justice should be compelled into the station in years before, and said to be copied from an origi- which we here most strangely find it, I cannot for nal portrait, by Zoust. But as this artist was not my life conjecture. But absurd as it is made by its known by any of his productions in England till association in this place, it may not form an im the year 1657, no original portrait of Shakspeare proper conclusion
to a paragraph which means little, could be drawn by his pencil; and, consequently, and which, intending censure, confers dramatic the marble chiselled by Scheemaker, under the praise on a dramatic writer. It is evident, however, direction of Lord Burlington, Pope, and Mead, that Dr. Johnson, though he says that a system oi
cannot lay any claim to an authorized resemblancé moral duty may be selected from Shakspeare's to the man, for whom it was wrought. We must writings, wished to inculcate that his scenes were be satisfied, therefore, with knowing, on the au- not of a moral tendency. On this topic, the first thority of Aubrey, that our Poet“ was a handsome, and the greater Jonson seems to have entertained well-shaped man;" and our imagination must sup- very different sentimentsply the expansion of his forehead, the sparkle and flash of his eyes, the sense and good-temper play- -“ Look, how the father's face ing round his mouth; the intellectuality and the benevolence mantling over his whole countenance. (says this great man) It is well that we are better acquainted with the
Lives in his issue; even so the race rectitude of his morals, than with the symmetry of his features. To the integrity of his heart; "the
Of Shakspeare's mind and manners, brightly shine
In his well-torned and truefiled lines.” gentleness and benignity of his manners, we have the positive testimony of Chettle and Ben Jonson; We think, indeed, that his scenes are rich in ster the former of whom seems to have been drawn, by ling morality, and that they must have been the effu our Poet's good and amiable qualities, from the fac-sions of a moral mind. The only crimination of h tion of his dramatic enemies; and the latter, in his morals must be drawn from a few of his sonnets love and admiration of the man, to have lost all his and from a story first suggested by Anthony Woo natural jealousy of the successful competitor for the and afterwards told by Oldys on the authority
Betterton and Pope. From the Sonnets* we ca * I derive my knowledge on this topic from Malone; collect nothing more than that their writer w for till I saw the fact asserted in his page, I was not blindly attached to an unprincipled woman, w aware that the picture in question had been preserved amid the wreck of poor Dryden's property. On the au. preferred a young and beautiful friend of his to bir thority also of Malone and of Mr. Boaden, I speak of self. But the story told by Oldys presents som Sir Godfrey's present to Dryden as of a copy from the Chandos portrait.
* See Son 141, 144, 147, 151, 152
thing to us of a more tangible nature ; and as it the Roman poet, into a man, as I would be induced possesses some intrinsic merit as a story, and rests, to think, with the writer “On Shakspeare and his as to its principal facts, on the authority of Wood, Times," that these familiar and fervent addresses who was a native of Oxford and a veracious man, were made to the proud and the lofty Southampton. we shall not hesitate, after the example of most of Neither can I persuade myself, with Malone, that the recent biographers of our Poet, to relate it, and the friend and the mistress are the mere creatures in the very words of Oldys. “If tradition may be of our Poet's imagination, raised for the sport of trusted, Shakspeare often baited at the Crown Inn his muse, and without “a local habitation or a or Tavern in Oxford, on his journey to and from name.” They were, unquestionably, realities : but London. The landlady was a beautiful woman and who they were must for ever remain buried in inof a sprightly wit; and her husband, Mr. John scrutable mystery. That those addressed to his Davenant, (afterwards mayor of that city,) a grave, male friend are not open to the infamous interpremelancholy man, who, as well as his wife, used tation, affixed to them by the monthly critic, may much to delight in Shakspeare's pleasant company. be proved, as I persuade myself, to demonstration. Their son, young Will Davenant (afterwards Sir The odious vice to wnich we allúde, was always in William Davenant) was then a little schoolboy, in England held in merited detestation; and would the town, of about seven or eight years old; and so our Poet consent to be the publisher of his own fond also of Shakspeare that, whenever he heard of shame ? to become a sort of outcast from society? his arrival, he would fly from school to see him. to be made One day, an old townsman, observing the boy running homeward almost out of breath, asked him
"A fixed figure for the hand of time whither he was posting in that heat and hurry. He
To point his slow, unmoving finger at?" answered, to see his god-father, Shakspeare. There is the sonnets in question were not actually publishis a good boy, said the other; but have a care ed by him, he refrained to guard them from manuthat you don'i iake God's name in vain! This story Mr.
Pope told me at the Earl of Oxford's table, script distribution; and they soon, as might be exupon occasion of some discourse which arose about pected, found their way to the press; whence they Shakspeare's monument, then newly erected in
were rapidly circulated, to the honour of his poetry Westminster Abbey."
and not to the discredit of his morals. influence of the tender passion, one of them sup- alludes to it only once (if my recollection be at all On these two instances of his frailty, under the was he from the disgusting vice, imputed to him,
for the first time, in the nineteenth century, that he ported by his own evidence, and one resting on authority which seems to be not justly questionable, accurate) in all his voluminous works ; and that is depend all the charges which can be brought against where the foul-mouthed Thersites, in Troilus and the strict personal morality of Shakspeare. In these Cressida,* calls Patroclus “Achilles's masculine days of peculiarly sensitive virtue, he would not whore.” Under all the circumstances of the case, possibly be admitted into the party of the saints: therefore, that these sonnets should be the effusions but, in the age in which he lived, these errors of his of sexual love is incredible, inconceivable, impossihuman weakness did not diminish the respect, com
and we must turn away from the injurious manded by the probity of his heart; or the love, suggestion with honest abhorrence and disdain. conciliated by the benignity of his manners; or the
The Will of Shakspeare, giving to his youngest admiration exacted by ihe triumph of his genius. 1 daughter, Judith, noi more than three hundred blush with indignation when I relate that an offence, pounds, and a piece of plate, which probably was of a much more foul and atrocious nature, has been valuable, as it is called by the testator, “My broad suggested against him by a critic* of the present
silver and gilt bowl," assigns almost the whole of his day, on the pretended testimony of a large number property to his eldest daughter, Susanna Hall, and of his sonnets.
But his own proud character, which her husband; whom he appoints to be his executors. raised him high in the estimation of his contempo
The cause of this evident partiality in the father raries, sufficiently vindicates him from this abomi- appears to be discoverable in the higher mental acnable imputation. It is admitted that one hundred complishments of the elder daughter; who is reand twenty of these little poems are addressed to a ported to have resembled him in her intellectual male, and that in the language of many of them endowments, and to have been eminently distinlove is too strongly and warmly identified with guished by the piety and the Christian benevolenco friendship. But in the days of Shakspeare love and which actuated her conduct. Having survived her friendship were almost synonymous terms. In the
estimable husband fourteen years, she died on the Merchant of Venice, Lorenzo speaking of Antonio 11th of July, 1649 ; and the inscription on her tomb, to Portia, says,
preserved by Dugdale, commemorates her intellec
tual superiority, and the influence of religion upon “ But if you knew to whom you show this honour, her heart. This inscription, which we shall tranHow true a gentleman you send relief to ;
scribe, hears witness also, as we must observe, to How dear a lover of my lord, your husband,” &c. the piety of her illustrious father. and Portia, in her reply calls Antonio“ the bosom lover Witty above her sex; but that's not all: of her lord.” Drayton, in a letter to his friend, Wise to salvation was good Mistress Hall. Drummond of Hawthornden, tells him that Mr. Jo. Something of Shakspeare was in that; but this seph Davies is in love with him; and Ben Jonson
Wholly of him, with whom she's now in bliss concludes a letter to Dr. Donne by professing him
Then, passenger, hast ne'er a tear
To weep with her, that wept with all ? self as ever his true lover. Many more instances of the
That wept, yet set herself to cheer same perverted language might be educed from the Them up with comforts cordial. writings of that gross and indelicate age; and I Her love shall live, her mercy spread, have not a doubt that Shakspeare, without exposing
When thou hast ne'er a tear to shed. himself to the hazard of suspicion, employed this authorized dialect of his time to give the greater As Shakspeare's last will and testament will be glow to these addresses to his young friend. But printed at the end of this biography, we may refer who was this young friend? The question has fre- our readers to that document for all the minor legaquently been asked; and never once been even cies which it bequeaths; and may pass immediately speciously answered. I would as readily believe, to an account of our great Poet's family, as far as it with the late Mr. G. Chalmers, that this object of can be given from records which are authentic. our author's poetic ardour, was Queen Elizabeth, Judith, his younger daughter, bore to her husband, changed for the particular purpose, like the Iphis of Thomas. Quiney, three sons ; Shakspeare, who
died in his infancy, Richard and Thomas, who de* See Monthly Review for Dec. 1824 : article, Skot. ceased, the first in his 21st year, the last in bis 19th, towe's Life of Shakspeare. † Act iii. 8C 4
Act v sc. 1.
unmarried and before their mother; who, having Whatever is in any degree associated with the reached her 77th year, expired in February, 1661-2 personal history of Shakspeare is weighty with gen--being buried on the 9th of that month. She ap- eral interest. "The circumstance of his birth can pears either not to have received any cducation, or impart consequence even to a provincial town; and not to have profited by the lessons of her teachers, we are not unconcerned in the past or the present for to a deed, still in existence, she affixes her fortunes of the place, over which hovers the glory mark.
of his name. But the house, in which he passed We have already mentioned the dates of the the last three or four years of his life, and in which birth, marriage, and death of Susanna Hall. She he terminated his mortal labours, is still more enleft only one daughter, Elizabeth, who was baptized gaging to our imaginations, as it is more closely and on the 21st of February, 1607-8, eight years before personally connected with him. Its history, thereher grandfather's decease, and was married on the fore, must not be omitted by us; and if in some re. 22d of April, 162, to Mr. Thomas Nash, a country spects, we should differ in it from the narrative ou gentleman, as it appears, of independent fortune. Malone, we shall not be without reasons sufficient Two years after the death of Mr. Nash, who was to justify the deviations in which we indulge. New buried on the 5th of April, 1647, she married on the Place, then, which was not thus first named by 5th of June, 1649, at Billesley in Warwickshire, Sir Shakspeare, was built in the reign of Henry VII., John Barnard, Knight, of Abington, a small village by Sir Hugh Clopton, Kt., the younger son of an in the vicinity of Northampton. She died, and was old family resident near Stratford, who had filled buried at Abington, on the 17th of February, 1669-70; in succession the offices of Sheriff and of Lord and, as she left no issue by either of her husbands, Mayor of London. In 1563 it was sold by one of ner death terminated the lineal descendants of the Clopton family to William Bott; and by him Shakspeare. His collateral kindred have been in- it was again sold in 1570 to William Underhill, (the dulged with a much longer period of duration; the purchaser and the seller being both of the rank of descendants of his sister, Joan, having continued in esquires) from whom it was bought by our Poet in a regular succession of generations even to our 1597. By him it was bequeathed to his daughter, days; whilst none of them, with a single exception, Susanna Hall; from whom it descended to her only have broken from that rank in the community in child, Lady Barnard. In the June of 1643, this which their ancestors, William Hart and Joan Lady, with her first husband Mr. Nash, entertained, Shakspeare united their unostentatious fortunes in for nearly three weeks, at New Place, Henrietta the year 1599. The single exception to which we Maria, the queen of Charles I., when, escorted by allude is that of Charles Hart, believed, for good Prince Rupert and a large body of troops, she was reasons, to be the son of William the eldest son of on her progress to meet her royal consort, and to William and Joan Hart, and, consequently, the proceed with him to Oxford. On the death of Lady grand-nephew of our Poét. At the early age of Barnard without children, New Place was sold, in seventeen, Charles Hart, as lieutenant in Prince 1675,7 to Sir Edward Walker, Kt., Garter King at Rupert's regiment, fought at the battle of Edgehill: Arms; by whom it was left to his only child, Barbara, and, subsequently betaking himself to the stage, he married to Sir John Clopton, Kt., of Clopton in the became the most renowned tragic actor of his time. parish of Stratford. On his demise, it became the “What Mr. Hart delivers," says Rymer, (I adopt property of a younger son of his, Sir Hugh Clopton, the citation from the page of Malone,) “ every one kt., (this family of the Cloptons seems to have been takes upon content: their eyes are prepossessed peculiarly prolífic in the breed of knights,)
by whom and charmed by his action before aught of the poet's it was repaired and decorated at very large excan approach their ears; and to the most wretched (pense. Malone affirms that it was pulled down by of characters he gives a lustre and brilliancy, which him, and its place supplied by a more sumptuous dazzles the sight that the deformities in the poetry edifice. If this statement were correct, the crime of cannot be perceived.” “Were I a poet,” (says its subsequent destroyer would be greatly extenu another contemporary writer,) “nay a Fletcher or ated; and the hand which had wielded the axo a Shakspeare, I would quit my own title to immor- against the hallowed mulberry tree, would be abtality so that one actor might never die. This Isolved from the second act, imputed to it, of sacrimay modestly say of him (nor is it my particular legious violence. But Malone's acccount is, unopinion, but the sense of all mankind) that the best questionably, erroneous. In the May of 1742, Sir tragedies on the English stage have received their Hugh entertained Garrick, Macklin, and Delany lustre from Mr. Hart's performance: that he has under the shade of the Shakspearian mulberry. On left such an impression behind him, that no less than the demise of Sir Hught in the December of 1751, the interval of an age can make them appear again New Place was sold by his son-in-law and executor, with half their majesty from any second hand.” This Henry Talbot, the Lord Chancellor Talbot's brother, was a brilliant eruption from the family of Shak- to the Rev. Francis Gastrell, Vicar of Frodsham in speare ; but as it was the first so it appears to have Cheshire; by whom, on some quarrel with the been the last; and the Harts have ever since, as magistrates on the subject of the parochial assessEar at least as it is known to us, “pursued the noise- ments, it was razed to the ground, and its site abanless tenor of their way," within the precincts of doned to vacancy. On this completion of his outtheir native town on the banks of the soft-flowing ragesę against the memory of Shakspeare, which Avon.*
his unlucky possession of wealth enabled him to * By intelligence, on the accuracy of which I can rely, said, with any of the vitality of genius. For this inforand which has only just reached me, from the birth- mation I am indebted to Mr. Charles Fellows, of Notplace of Shakspeare, I learn that the family of the Harts, tingham; who with the characteristic kindness of his after a course of lineal descents during the revolu- most estimable family, sought for the intelligence which tion of two hundred and twenty-six years, is now on the was required by me, and obtained it. verge of extinction; an aged woman, who retains in † Malone gives a different account of some of the single blessedness her maiden name of Hart, being at transfers of New Place. According
to him, it passed by this time (Nov. 1825) its sole surviving representative. sale, on the death of Lady Barnard, to Edward Nash, For some years she occupied the house of her ancestors, the cousin-german of that Lady's first husband; and, in which shakspeare is reported to have first seen thé by him, was bequeathed to his daughter Mary, the wife light; and here she obtained a comfortable subsistence of Sir Reginald Foster ; from whom it was bought by by showing the antiquities of the venerated mansion to Sir John Clopton, who gave it by deed to his youngest the numerous strangers who were attracted to it. Being son, Sir Hugh. But the deed, which conveyed New dispossessed of this residence by the rapaciousness of its Place to Sir Edward Walber, is still in existence; and proprietor, she settled herself in a dwelling nearly
oppo has been published by R. B. Wheeler, the historian of Site to it. Here she still lives; and continues to exhibit Stratford. some relics, not reputed to be genuine, of the mighty Sir Hugh Clopton was knighted by George He bard, with whom her maternal ancestor was nourished was a barrister at law; and died in the December of in the same womb. She regards herself also as a dra- 1751, at the advanced age of eighty. -Malone. matíc roet;
and, in support of her pretensions, she pro- Our days, also, have witnessed a similar profana duces the rude sketch of a play, uninformed, as it is tion of the relics of genius; not, indeed, of gerius