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doubled the prosecution against him to that degree, that he was obliged to leave his business and family in Warwickshire for some time, and shelter himself in London.'
The detection of Shakspeare in his adventurous amusement, was followed, it is said, by confinement for a short time in the keeper's lodge, until the charge bad been substantiated against him. A farm-house in the park, situated on a spot called Daisy Hill, is still pointed out as the very building which sheltered the delinquent on this unfortunate occasion.
That Sir Thomas had reason to complain of this violation of his property, and was warranted in taking proper steps to prevent its recurrence, cannot be denied ; and yet it appears from tradition, that a reprimand and public exposure of his conduct constituted all the punishment that was at first inflicted on the offender. Here the matter would have rested, had not the irritable feelings of our young bard, inflamed by the disgrace which he had suffered, induced him to attempt a retaliation on the magistrate. He had recourse to his talents for satire, and the ballad which he is said to have produced for this purpose was probably his earliest effort as a writer.
Of this pasquinade, which the poet took care should be affixed to Sir Thomas's park gates, and extensively circulated through his neighborhood, three stanzas have been brought forward as genuine fragments. The preservation of the whole would certainly have been a most entertaining curiosity; but even the authenticity of what is said to have been preserved becomes a subject of interest, when we recollect that the fate and fortunes of our author hinged on this juvenile production.
Mr. William Oldys, (Norroy king at arms, and well known from the share he had in compiling the Biographia Britannica) among some collections which he left for a life of Shakspeare, observes,
that there was a very aged gentleman living in the neighborhood of Stratford, where he died fifty years since, who had not only heard from several old people in that town of Shakspeare's transgression, but could remember the first stanza of that bitter ballad, which repeating to one of his acquaintance, he preserved it in writing ; and here it is, neither better nor worse, but faithfully transcribed from the copy which his relation very courteously communicated to me:
A parliamente member, a justice of peace,
He thinks himself greate,
Yet an asse in his state
Although neither the wit nor the poetry of this
satire deserves much praise, yet at the time when it was written, it might have had sufficient power to exasperate an irritable magistrate; especially as it was affixed to his park gates, and consequently published among his neighbors. It may be remarked likewise, in favor of its authenticity, that the jingle on which it turns occurs in the first scene of the
Merry Wives of Windsor.' We may add too, that Steevens considered Mr. Oldys' veracity as unimpeachable, remarking, at the same time, that it is not very probable that a ballad should be forged, from which an undiscovered wag could derive no triumph over antiquarian credulity.'
According to Mr. Capell, this ballad came originally from Mr. Thomas Jones, who lived at Tarbick, a village in Worcestershire, about 18 miles from Stratford-on-Avon, and died in 1703, aged upwards of ninety. “He remembered to have heard from several old people at Stratford the story of Shakspeare's robbing Sir Thomas Lucy's park, and their account of it agreed with Mr. Rowe's, with this addition, that the ballad written against Sir T. Lucy by Shakspeare was stuck on his park gate, which exasperated the knight to apply to a lawyer at Warwick to proceed against him. Mr. Jones put down in writing the first stanza of this ballad, which was all he remembered of it.' In a note on the transcript with which Mr. Capell was furnished, it is said that the people of those parts pronounce lowsie like Lucy.' They do so to this day in Scotland. Mr. Wilkes, grandson of the gentleman to whom Mr. Jones repeated the stanza, appears to have been the person who gave a copy of it to Mr. Oldys and Mr. Capell.
In a manuscript History of the Stage, written between the years 1727 and 1730, in which are contained forgeries and falshoods of various kinds, we meet with the following passage, on which although we are unable to repose an equal degree of confidence, still the internal evidence is such, as to render its genuineness far from improbable :
• Here we shall observe that the learned Mr. Joshua Barnes, late Greek professor at Cambridge, baiting, about 40 years ago, at an inn in Stratford, and hearing an old woman singing part of the above song, such was his respect for Shakspeare's genius, that he gave her a new gown for the two following stanzas in it; and, could she have said it all, he would (as he often said in
discourse casually arose about him) have given her ten guineas :
Sir Thomas was too covetous
To covet so much deer,
Most plainly did appear.
What then? He had a wife
Should last him during life'
Mr. Malone has endeavored to prove that the whole story of the deer-stealing is unworthy of credit, that the verses are altogether spurious, and that Sir T. Lucy never was in possession of a park at Charlecote; and thinks it much more probable that Shakspeare's own lively disposition made him acquainted with some of the principal performers who visited Stratford, and that there he first determined to engage in the profession of a player. The arrival of our author in London is generally supposed to have taken place in 1586, when he was 22 years
Mr. Rowe has affirmed, on a tradition which we have no claim to dispute, that he was obliged to leave his family for some time;' a fact in the highest degree probable, from the causes which led to his removal; for it is not to be supposed, situated as he then was, that he would be willing to render his wife and children the partakers and companions of the disasters and disappointments which it was probable he had to encounter. Tradition farther says, as preserved in the manuscripts of Aubrey, that he was wont to go to his native country once a yeare;' and Mr. Oldys, in his collections for a life of our author, repeats this report with an additional circumstance, remarking, if tradition may be trusted, Shakspeare often baited at the Crown Inn, at Oxford, in his journey to and from London. The testimony of