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have studied nature in acting as much as in occurs in his will. His connection with Ben writing. But all this might have been mere Jonson has been variously related. It is theory. Mr. Malone is of opinion he was no said, that when Jonson was unknown to the great actor. The distinction, however, which world, he offered a play to the theatre, which he might obtain as an actor could only be in was rejected after a very careless perusal, but bis own plays, in which he would be assisted that Shakspeare having accidentally cast his by the novel appearance of author and actor eye on it, conceived a favorable opinion of it, combined. Before his time, it does not ap- and afterwards recommended Jonson and his pear that any actor could avail himself of the writings to the public. For this candor he wretched pieces represented on the stage. was repaid by Jonson, when the latter became
Mr. Rowe regrets that he cannot inform us a poet of note, with an envious disrespect. which was the first play he wrote. More skil-Jonson acquired reputation by the variety of ful research has since found, that Romeo and his pieces, and endeavoured to arrogate the Juliet, and Richard II. and III. were printed supremacy in dramatic genius. Like a French in 1597, when he was thirty-three years old; critic, he insinuated Shakspeare's incorrectthere is also some reason to think that he com- ness, his careless manner of writing, and his menced as a dramatic writer in 1592, and Mr. want of judgment; and, as he was a remarkMalone even places his first play, “ First part ably slow writer himself, he could not endure of Henry VI.," in 1589. His plays, however, the praise frequently bestowed on Shakspeare, must have been not only popular, but approved of seldom altering or blotting out what he had by persons of the higher order, as we are cer- written. Mr. Malone says, “that not long tain that he enjoyed the gracious favor of after the year 1600, a coolness arose between Queen Elizabeth, who was very fond of the Shakspeare and him, which, however we may stage, and the particular and affectionate pa- talk of his almost idolatrous affection, protronage of the Earl of Southampton, to whom duced on his part, from that time to the death he dedicated his poems of “Venus and Adonis,” of our author, and for many years afterwards, and his “ Tarquin and Lucrece.” On Sir Wil- much clumsy sarcasm, and many malevolent liam Davenant's authority, it has been asserted reflections." But from these, which are the that this nobleman at one time gave him a commonly received opinions on this subject, Dr. thousand pounds to enable him to complete a Farmer is inclined to depart, and to think Jonpurchase. At the conclusion of the advertise- son's hostility to Shakspeare absolutely groundment prefixed to Lintot's edition of Shakspeare's less ; so uncertain is every circumstance we poems, it is said, “ That most learned prince, attempt to recover of our great poet's life and great patron of learning, King James the Jonson had only one advantage over ShaksFirst, was pleased, with his own hand, to write peare, that of superior learning, which might an amicable letter to Mr. Shakspeare; which in certain situations give him a superior rank, letter, though now lost, remained long in the but could never promote his rivalship with a hands of Sir William D'Avenant, as a credible man who attained the highest excellence withperson now living can testify." Dr. Farmer out it. Nor will Shakspeare suffer by its bewith great probability supposes, that this let- ing known, that all the dramatic poets before ter was written by King James, in return for he appeared were scholars. Greene, Lodge, the compliment paid to him in Macbeth. The Peele, Marlowe, Nashe, Lily, and Kyd, had relator of this anecdote was Sheffield, Duke all, says Mr. Malone, a regular university eduof Buckingham. These brief notices, meagre cation; and, as scholars in our universities, as they are, may show that our author enjoyed frequently composed and acted plays on histohigh favor in his day. Whatever we may think rical subjects. of King James as a “learned prince," his pa- The latter part of Shakspeare's life was tronage, as well as that of his predecessor, was spent in ease, retirement, and the conversasufficient to give celebrity to the founder of a tion of his friends. He had accumulated connew stage. It may be added, that his uncom- siderable property, which Gildon (in his “Letmon merit, his candor, and good nature, are ters and Essays,” 1694) stated to amount to supposed to have procured him the admiration £300 per annum, a sum at least equal to and acquaintance of every person distinguished £1000 in our days; but Mr. Malone doubts for such qualities. It is not difficult, indeed, whether all his property amounted to much to suppose, that Shakspeare was a man of more than £200 per annum, which yet was a humor and a social companion, and probably considerable fortune in those times, and it is excelled in that species of minor wit not ill supposed that he might have derived £200 per adapted to conversation, of which it could have aunum from the theatre while he continued on been wished he had been more sparing in his the stage. writings.
He retired some years before his death to a How long he acted has not been discovered, house in Stratford, of which it has been but he continued to write till the year 1614. thought important to give the history. It was During his dramatic career he acquired a pro- built by Sir Hugh Clopton, a younger brother perty in the theatre,' which he must have dis- of an ancient family in that neighbourhood. posed of when he retired, as no mention of it Sir Hugh was Sheriff of London in the reign of Richard III., and Lord Mayor in the reign She resided about three weeks at cur poet's of Henry VII. By his will, he bequeatbed to house, which was then possessed by his grandhis elder brother's son his manor of Clopton, daughter, Mrs. Nashe, and her husband. &c., and his house by the name of the Great During Shakspeare's abode in this house, his House in Stratford. A good part of the estate pleasurable wit and good-nature, says Mr. was in possession of Edward Clopton, Esq., Rowe, engaged him the acquaintance and enand Sir Hugh Clopton, Knight, in 1733. The titled him to the friendship of the gentlemen principal estate had been sold out of the Clop- of the neighbourhood. Among these, Mr. ton family for above a century, at the time Rowe tells a traditional story of a miser or when Shakspeare became the purchaser; who usurer, named Combe, who, in conversation having repaired and modelled it to his own with Shakspeare, said he fancied the poet in. mind, changed the name to New Place, which tended to write his epitaph if he should surthe mansion-house, afterward erected in the vive him, and desired to know what he meant room of the poet's house, retained for many to say. On this Shakspeare gave him the fole years. The house and lands belonging to it lowing, probably extempore:continued in the possession of Shakspeare's
* Note by Mr. Malone to " Additional Anecdotes of Wil- • This was the practice in Milton's days. “One of hie nam Shakspeare."
objections to academical education, as it was then con • In 1603, he and several others obtained a license from ducted, is that men designed for orders in the church King Jarnes to exhibit comedies, tragediee, histories, &c., were permitted to act plays," &c. Johnson's Life of MV at the Globe Theatre and sewhere.
Ten in the hundred lies here engraved, descendants to the time of the Restoration, "Tis a hundred to ten his soul is not saved; when they were repurchased by the Clopton If any man ask, Who lies in this tombe ! family. Here, in May, 1742, when Mr. Gar
Oh! hol quoth the devil, 'tis my John-a-Combe. rick, Mr. Macklin, and Mr. Delane visited The sharpness of the satire is said to have Stratford. they were hospitably entertained stung the man so severely, that he never for ander Shakspeare's mulberry-tree by Sir Hugh gave it. These lines, however, or some which Clopton. He was a barrister at law, was nearly resemble them, appeared in various knighted by King George I., and died in the collections, both before and after the time 80th year of his age, in December, 1751. His they were said to have been composed; and executor, about the year 1752, sold.New Place the inquiries of Mr. Steevens and Mr. Malone to the Rev. Mr. Gastrell, a man of large for- satisfactorily prove that the whole story is a tune, who resided in it but a few years, in fabrication. Betterton is said to have heard consequence of a disagreement with the inha- it when he visited Warwickshire on purpose to bitants of Stratford. As he resided part of the collect anecdotes of our poet, and probably year at Litchfield, he thought he was assessed thought it of too much importance to be nicely too highly in the monthly rate toward the main-examined. We know not whether it be worth tenance of the poor; but being very properly adding of a story which we have rejected, that compelled by the magistrates of Stratford to pay a usurer in Shakspeare's time did not mean one the whole of what was levied on him, on the who took exorbitant, but any interest or usance principle that his house was occupied by his for money, and that ten in the hundred, or ten servants in his absence, he peevishly declared per cent., was then the ordinary interest of that that house should never be assessed again; money. It is of more consequence, however, and soon afterward pulled it down, sold the to record the opinion of Mr. Malone, that materials, and left the town. He had some Shakspeare, during his retirement, wrote the time before cut down Shakspeare's mulberry- play of Twelfth Night. tree to save himself the trouble of showing it He died on his birth-day, Tuesday, April 23, to those whose admiration of our great poet 1616, when he had exactly completed his fiftyled them to visit the classic ground on which second year,' and was buried on the norılı side it stood. That Shakspeare planted this tree of the chancel, in the great church of Stratappears to be sufficiently authenticated. Where ford, where a monument is placed in the wall, New Place stood is now a garden. Before con- on which he is represented under an arch, in a cluding this history, it may be necessary to sitting posture, a cushion spread before him, mention, that the poet's house was once nu- with a pen in his right hand, and his left rested noured by the temporary residence of Hen. on a scroll of paper. The following Latin rietta Maria, queen to Charles I. Theobald distich is engraved under the cushion :has given an inaccurate account of this, as if she had been obliged to take refuge in Strat
Judicio Pylium, genio Socratem, arte Maronem,
Terra tegit, populus mæret, Olympus habet. ford from the rebels; but that was not the ease. She marched from Newark, June 16, “The first syllable in Socratem,” says Mr. 1643, and entered Stratford triumphantly about Steevens, “is here made short, which cannot the 22d of the same month, at the head of be allowed. Perhaps we should read Sophothree thousand foot and fifteen hundred horse, clem. Shakspeare is then appositely comwith one hundred and fifty wagons, and a train pared with a dramatic author among the anof artillery. Here she was met by Prince Ru- cients; but still it should be remembered, that pert, accompanied by a large body of troops. the eulogium is lessened while the metre is
reformed; and it is well known, that some of s “ As the curiosity of this house and tree brought
much our early writers of Latin poetry were uncomnan, on some disgust, has pulled the house down, so as monly negligent in their prosody, especially not to leave one stone upon another, and cut down the in proper names. The though of this distich, tree, and piled it as a stock of firewood, to the great vexa
as Mr. Tollet observes, might have been taken tion, loss, and disappointment of the inhabitants; how. ever, an honest silversmith bought the whole stock of wood, and makes many odd things of this wood for the • The only notice we have of his person is from Aubrey, surious." Letter in Annual Register, 1760. Or Mr. Gas- who says, “ he was a handsome, well-shaped man;" and trell and his lady, sen Boswell's Life of Dr. Johnson, vo ii adds, "verie good company, and of a very realy, and plea V. 356. Edit. 1793.
Bant and smooth wit."
from the Faëry Queene of Spenser, B. ii. c. ix. “ If tradition may be trusted, Shakspeare Bt. 48, and c. X. st. 3.
often baited at the Crown Inn or Tavern in “ To this Latin inscription on Shakspeare Oxford, in his journey to and from London. may be added the lines which are found un- The landlady was a woman of great beauty derneath it on his monument:
and sprightly wit, and her husband, Mr. John Stay, passenger, why dost thou go so fast?
Davenant, (afterward mayor of that city,) a
pleasant company. Their son, young Will. DaLeaves living art but page to serve his wit.
venant, (afterward Sir William,) was then a Obiit, Ano. Dni. 1616.
little school-boy in the town, of about seven or æt. 53, die 23 Apri..
eight years old, and so fond also of Shakspeare, “ It appears from the verses of Leonard that whenever he heard of his arrival, he would Digges, that our author's monument was fly from school to see him. One day, an old erected before the year 1623. It has been townsman, observing the boy running homeengraved by Vertue, and done in mezzotinto ward almost out of breath, asked him whither by Miller."
he was posting in that heat and hurry. He On his grave-stone, underneath, are these answered, to see his god-father Shakspeare. lines, in an uncouth mixture of small and There's a good boy, said the other, but have napital letters :
a care that you don't take God's name in vain. Good Friend for Iesus SAKE forbare
This story, Mr. Pope told me at the Earl of To digg T-E Dust Enclo Ased HERO
Oxford's table, upon occasion of some discourse
which arose about Shakspeare's monument, Blese be T-E Man spares T-Es Stones
then newly erected in Westminster Abbey." And curst be Ile moves my Bones.
This story appears to have originated with
Anthony Wood, and it has been thought a preIt is uncertain whether the request and im- sumption of its being true, that, after careful precation were written by Shakspeare, or by examination, Mr. Thomas Warton was inclined one of his friends. They probably allude to to believe it. Mr. Steevens, however, treats it the custom of removing skeletons after a cer- with the utmost contempt; but does not, per tain time, and depositing them in charnel- haps, argue with his usual attention to expehouses; and similar execrations are found in rience, when he brings Sir William Davenant's many ancient Latin epitaphs.
"heavy, vulgar, unmeaning 'face," as a proof We have no account of the malady which, that he could not be Shakspeare's son. at no very advanced age, closed the life and In the year 1741, a monument was erected labours of this unrivalled and incomparable to our poet in Westminster Abbey, by the direcgenius.
tion of Earl of Burlington, Dr. Mead, Mr His family consisted of two daughters, and Pope, and Mr. Martyn. It was the work of a son named Hamnet, who died in 1596, in the Scheemaker, (who received £300 for it,) after twelfth year of his age. Susannah, the eldest a design of Kent, and was opened in January daughter, and her father's favourite, was mar- of that year. The performers of each of the ried to Dr. John Hall, a physician, who died London theatres gave a benefit to defray the November, 1635, aged sixty. Mrs. Hall died expenses, and the Dean and Chapter of WestJuly 11, 1619, aged sixty-six. They left only minster took nothing for the ground. The one child, Elizabeth, born 1607-8, and mar- money received by the performance at Drury ried April 22, 1626, to Thomas Nashe, Esq., | Lane theatre amounted to above £200, but the who died in 1647 ; and afterward to Sir John | receipts at Covent Garden did not exceed £100. Barnard, of Abington, in Northamptonshire; From these imperfect notices, which are all but died without issue by either husband. we have been able to collect from the labors Judith, Shakspeare's youngest daughter, was of his biographers and commentators, our married to a Mr. Thomas Quiney, and died readers will perceive that less is known of February, 1061-2, in her seventy-seventh year. Shakspeare than of almost any writer who has By Mr. Quiney she had three sons, Shakspeare, been considered as an object of laudable curiRichard, and Thomas, who all died unmarried. osity. Nothing could be more highly gratifySir Hugh Clopton, who was born two years ing than an account of the early studies of after the death of Lady Barnard, which hap- this wonderful man, the progress of his pen, pened in 1669–70, related to Mr. Macklin, in his moral and social qualities, his friendships, 1742, an old tradition, that she had carried his failings, and whatever else constitutes per: away with her from Stratford, many of her sonal history. But on all these topics his congrandfather's papers. On the death of Sir temporaries and his immediate successors have John Barnard, Mr. Malone thinks these must been equally silent, and if aught can be herehave fallen into the hands of Mr. Edward Bag- after discovered, it must be by exploring ley, Lady Barnard's executor; and if any de- sources which have hitherto escaped the anxscendant of that gentleman he now living, in ious researches of those who have devoted his custody they probably remain. To this their whole lives and their most vigorous Account of Shakspeare's family we have now talents to revive his memory and illustrate to add, that among Oldys's papers is another his writings. In the sketch we have given, if traditional gossip's story of his having been the dates of his birth and death be excepted, the father of Sir William Davenant. Oldys's what is there on which the reader can depend, relation is thus given :
or for which, if he contend eagerly, he muy not be involved in controversy, and perplexed very incorrect state ; but we may suppost with contradictory opinions and authorities? that it was wiser in the author or managers to
It is usually said that the life of an author overlook this fraud than publish a correct edi can be little else than a history of his works; tion, and so destroy the exclusive property but this opinion is liable to many exceptions. they enjoyed. It is clear, therefore, that any If an author, indeed, has passed his days in publication of his plays by himself would have retirement, his life can afford little more va- interfered, at first with his own interest, and riety than that of any other man who has lived afterward with the interest of those to whom in retirement; but it, as is generally the case he had made over his share in them. But with writers of great celebrity, he has acquired even had this obstacle been removed, we are a pre-eminence over his contemporaries, if he not sure that he would have gained much by has excited rival contentions, and defeated the publication. If he had no other copies but attacks of criticism or of malignity, or if he those belonging to the theatre, the business has plunged into the controversies of his age, of correction for the press must have been a and performed the part either of a tyrant or a toil which we are afraid the taste of the pubhero in literature, his history may be rendered lic at that time would have poorly rewarded. As interesting as that of any other public cha- We know not the exact portion of fame he racter. But whatever weight may be allowed enjoyed: it was probably the highest which to this remark, the decision will not be of dramatic genius could confer; but dramatio much consequence in the case of Shakspeare. genius was a new excellence, and not well unUnfortunately, we know as little of his writ- derstood. His claims were probably not heard ings as of his personal history. The industry out of the jurisdiction of the master of the of his illustrators for the last thirty years has revels, certainly not beyond the metropolis. been such as probably never was surpassed in Yet such was Shakspeare's reputation, that the annals of literary investigation; yet so far we are told his name was put to pieces which are we from information of the conclusive or he never wrote, and that he felt himself too satisfactory kind, that even the order in which confident in popular favor to undeceive the his plays were written rests principally on public. This was singular resolution in a mun conjecture, and of some plays usually printed who wrote so unequally, that at this day, iae among his works, it is not yet determined ost of internal evidence must be applied to his whether he wrote the whole, or any part. doubtful productions with the greatest caution.
Much of our ignorance of every thing which But still how far his character would have been it would be desirable to know respecting Shaks- elevated by an examination of his plays in the peare's works, must be imputed to the author closet, in an age when the refinements of criti. himself. If we look merely at the state in cism were not understood, and the sympathies which he left his productions, we should be of taste were seldom felt, may admit of a quesapt to conclude, either that he was insensible tion. “His language," says Dr. Johnson, not of their value, or that, while he was the great-being designed for the reader's desk, was all that est, he was at the same time the humblest he desired it to be if it conveyed his meaning writer the world ever produced that he to the audience.” thought his works unworthy of posterity--that Shakspeare died in 1616; and seven years he levied no ideal tribute upon future times, afterward appeared the first edition of his nor had any further prospect than that of plays, published at the charges of four bookpresent popularity and present profit." And sellers,-a circumstance from which Mr. Malone such an opinion, although it apparently par- infers " that no single publisher was at that takes of the ease and looseness of conjecture, | time willing to risk his money on a complete may not be far from probability. But before collection of our author's plays.” This ediwe allow it any higher merit, or attempt to tion was printed from the copies in the hands decide upon the affection or neglect with which of his fellow-managers, Heminge and Condell, he reviewed his labors, it may be necessary to which had been in a series of years frequently consider their precise nature, and certain cir- altered through convenience, caprice, or ignocumstances in his situation which affected rance. Heminge and Condell had now retired them; and, above all, we must take into our from the stage; and, we may suppose, were account the character and predominant occu- guilty of no injury to their successors in pations of the times in which he lived, and of printing what their own interest only had forthose which followed his decease.
merly withheld. Of this, although we have With respect to himself, it does not appear no documents amounting to demonstration, we that he printed any one of his plays, and only may be convinced, by adverting to a circumeleven of them were printed in his lifetime. stance which will, in our days, appear very The reason assigned for this is, that he wrote extraordinary, namely, the declension of Shaksthem for a particular theatre, sold them to the peare's popularity. We have seen that the managers when only an actor, reserved them publication of his works was accountea a in manuscript when himself a manager, and doubtful speculation; and it is yet more cerwhen he disposed of his property in the thea- tain that so much had the public taste turned tre, they were still preserved in manuscript to from him in quest of variety, that for several prevent their being acted by the rival houses. years after his death the plays of Fletcher Copies of some of them appear to have been were more frequently acted than his, and dur. surreptitiously obtained, and published in a ing the whole of the seventeenth century, they
were made to give place to performances the greater part of which cannot now be endured
Dr. Johnson's Preface.
Duritig the same period, only four editions of ginal as an obscure piece, recommended to his his works were published, all in folio ; and notice by a friend; and the author of the Tatperhaps this unwieldy size of volume may be ler, having occasion to quote a few lines out of an additional proof that they were not popu- Macbeth, was content to receive them from lar; nor is it thought that the impressions were D'Avenant's alteration of that celebrated drama,
in which almost every original beauty is either These circumstances, which attach to our awkwardly disguised, or arbitrarily omitted." author and to his works, must be allowed a In fifty years after his death, Dryden menplausible weight in accounting for our defi- tions that he was then become "a little obso. ciencies in his biography and literary career; lete.” In the beginning of the last century, but thore were circumstances enough in the Lord Shaftesbury complains of his "rude, unhistory of the times to suspend the progress polished style, and his antiquated phrase and of that more regular drama of which he had wit.” It is certain, that for nearly a hundred get the example, and may be considered as the years after his death, partly owing to the imfounder. If we wonder why we know so much mediate revolution and rebellion, and partly less of Shakspeare than of his contemporaries, to the licentious taste encouraged in Charles let us recollect that his genius, however highly II.'s time, and perhaps partly to the incorrect and justly we now rate it, took a direction state of his works, he was almost entirely which was not calculated for permanent admi- neglected. Mr. Malone bas justly remarked, ration, either in the age in which he lived, or " that if he had been read, admired, studied, in that which followed. Shakspeare was a and imitated, in the game degree as he is now, writer of plays, a promoter of an amusement the enthusiasm of some one or other of his just emerging from barbarism; and an amuse- admirers in the last age would have induced ment which, although it has been classed him to make some inquiries concerning the among the schools of morality, has ever had history of his theatrical career, and the anec. guch a strong tendency to deviate from moral dotes of his private life.” purposes, that the force of law has, in all His admirers, however, if he had admirerg ages, been called in to preserve it within the in that age, possessed no portion of such enbounds of common decency. The church has thusiasm. That curiosity which in our days ever been unfriendly to the stage. A part of has raised biography to the rank of an indethe injunctions of Queen Elizabeth is particu- pendent study, was scarcely known, and where larly directed against the printing of plays; known, confined principally to the public trang, and, according to an entry in the books of the actions of eminent characters. And if, in adStationers' Company, in the forty-first year of dition to the circumstances already stated, we her reign, it is ordered that no plays be printed, consider how little is known of the personal except allowed by persons in authority. Dr. history of Shakspeare's contemporaries, we Farmer also remarks, that in that age, poetry may easily resolve the question, why, of all and novels were destroyed publicly by the men that have ever claimed admiration by gebishops, and privately by the puritans. The nius, wisdom, or valor, who have eminently main transactions, indeed, of that period, could contributed to enlarge the taste, promote the not admit of much attention to matters of happiness, or increase the reputation of their amusement. The Reformation required all the country, we know the least of Shakspeare: circumspection and policy of a long reign to and why, of the few particulars which seem render it so tirmly established in popular favor entitled to credit, when simply related, and in as to brave the caprice of any succeeding which there is no manifest violation of probaBovereign. This was effected, in a great mea- bility, or promise of importance, there is sure, by the diffusion of religious controversy, scarcely one which has not swelled into a conwhich was encouraged by the church, and es- troversy. After a careful examination of all pecially by the puritans, who were the imme- that modern research has discovered, we know diate teachers of the lower classes, were lis- not how to trust our curiosity beyond the limits tened to with veneration, and usually inveighed of those barren dates which afford no personal against all public amusements, as inconsistent history. The nature of Shakspeare's writings with the Christian profession. These contro- prevents that appeal to internal evidence, versies continued during the reign of James I., which in other cases has been found to throw and were, in a considerable degree, promoted light on character. The purity of his morals, by him, although he, like Elizabeth, was a for example, if sought in his plays, must be favorer of the stage, as an appendage to the measured against the licentiousness of his langrandeur and pleasures of the Court. But the guage, and the question will then be, how commotions which followed in the unhappy much did he write from conviction, and how reign of Charles I., when the stage was totally much to gratify the taste of his hearers? How abolished, are sufficient to account for the much did he add to the age, and how much oblivion thrown on the history and works of did he borrow from it? Pope says, "he was our great bard. From this time, no inquiry obliged to please the lowest of the people, and was made, until it was too late to obtain any to keep the worst of company;" and Pope information more satisfactory than the few might have said more: for although we hope hearsay scraps and contested traditions above it was not true, we have no means of proving detailed. " How little," says Mr. Steevens, it was false. “Shakspeare was once read, may be understood from Tate, who, in his dedication to the
• Mr. Steevens's Advertisement to the Reader, firma
printed in 1773. altered play «f King Lear, speaks of the ori- . Mr. Malone's Preface to his edition, 1790.