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LIFE OF SHAKS PEARE.
BY ALEXANDER CHALMERS, A.M.
WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE was born at Stratford- / which Mr. Malone thinks not inconsistent with Epon-Avon, in Warwickshire, on the 23d day probability. It must have been, however, at of April, 1564. Of the rank of his family it this time, no inconsiderable addition to hi: is not easy to form an opinion. . Mr. Rowe says difficulties that he had a family of ten chil. that by the register and certain public writings dren. His wife was the daughter and heiress relating to Stratford, it appears that his an- of Robert Arden of Wellingcote, in the county cestors were “ of good figure and fashion," in of Warwick, who is styled “a gentleman of that town, and are mentioned as “gentlemen,” worship.” The family of Arden is very anan epithet which was more determinate then cient, Robert Arden of Bromich, Esq., being than at present, when it has become an un- in the list of the gentry of this county relimited phrase of courtesy. His father, John turned by the commissioners in the twelfth Shakspeare, was a considerable denler in wool, year of King Henry VI., A. D. 1433. Edward and had been an officer and bailiff (probably Arden was sheriff of the county in 1568. The high-bailiff or mayor) of the body corporate woodland part of this county was anciently of Stratford. He held also the office of justice called Ardern, afterwards softened to Arden; of the peace; and at one time, it is said, pos- and hence the name. sessed lands and tenements to the amount of Our illustrious poet was the eldest son, and £500, the reward of his grandfather's faithful received his early education, however narros and approved services to King Henry VII. or liberal, at a free school, probably that This, however, has been asserted upon very founded at Stratford. From this he appears doubtful authority. Mr. Malone thinks “it is to have been soon removed, and placed, achighly probable that he distinguished himself cording to Mr. Malone's opinion, in the office in Bosworth Field on the side of King Henry, of some country attorney, or the seneschal of and that he was rewarded for his military some manor court, where it is highly probable services by the bounty of that parsimonious he picked up those technical law phrases that prince, though not with a grant of lands. No so frequently occur in his plays, and could such grant appears in the Chapel of the Rolls, not have been in common use, unless among from the beginning to the end of Henry's professional men. Mr. Capell conjectures, that jeign." But whatever may have been his his early marriage prevented his being sent to former wealth, it appears to have been greatly some university. It appears, however, as Dr. seduced in the latter part of his life, as we Farmer observes, that his life was incompatifind, from the books of the Corporation, that, ble with a course of education; and it is cerin 1579, he was excused the trifling weekly tain, that “his contemporaries, friends and tax of fourpence levied on all the aldermen; foes, nay, and himself likewise, agree in his and that, in 1586, another alderman was ap- want of what is usually termed literature.” li pointed in his room, in consequence of his de- is, indeed, a strong argument in favor of Shaks. clining to attend on the business of that office. peare's illiterature, that it was maintained by It is even said by Aubrey,' a man sufficiently all his contemporaries, many of whom have left accurate in facts, although credulous in super- upon record every merit they could bestow on stitious narratives and traditions, that he fol- him; and by his successors, who lived nearest lowed for some time the occupation of a butcher, to his time, when “bis memory was green;"
and that it has been denied only by Gildon, 138. dubroy, Mus. Aslimol. Oxon, examined by Jir. Sewell, and others down to Upton, who could
have no means of ascertaining the truth.