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imagination. Thomas Carlyle says of him, in his “ Lectures on Heroes" :-“Which Englishman we ever made in this land of ours, which million of Englishmen, would we not give up rather than the Stratford peasant? There is no regiment of highest dignitaries that we would sell him for. He is the grandest thing we have done yet. For our honour among foreign nations, as an ornament to our English household, what item is there that we would not surrender rather than him ?
William Shakespeare was born at Stratford-on-Avon, in Warwickshire, about April 23, 1564. The exact date is a matter of doubt. His father was John Shakespeare, whose occupation is also variously stated as that of a farmer, glover, glazier, wool-stapler and butcher. His mother was Mary Arden, a lady of gentle birth, who was able to trace her descent from the Saxon times. John Shakespeare seems to have been in prosperous circumstances, and to have been the owner of some property in Stratford-on-Avon.
Our poet is supposed to have been one of a family of eight children-namely, John, Margaret, William, Gilbert, Joan, Anne, Richard, and Edmund. Little is known of his childhood or early youth. He seems to have been imperfectly educated in the school of his native town. Ben Jonson describes his classical education as consisting of " little Latin, and less Greek.” Probably his scholarship was not extensive, but his works prove him to have been a man of considerable reading, and he certainly attained to an unrivalled knowledge of human nature.
About 1582 (almost every incident in his biography is uncertain) he married Anne Hathaway, who was the daughter of a yeoman living in the neighbouring village of Shottery, and his senior by seven years. From this marriage were born a daughter, Susanna, in 1583, and twins (Hamnet and Judith) in 1584.
A year or two afterwards he removed to London, probably following the example of many young men of his own and subsequent times who have left the country and gone up to the metropolis. to seek their fortune. There is an obscure tradition that he was obliged to flee from his native town in order to avoid the wrath of Sir Thomas Lucy, of Charlecote Park, a local country squire whose estates had been trespassed on by our poet for the purpose of stealing deer. This story is now, however, generally abandoned as. not being supported by sufficient evidence and as being improbable.
Shakespeare's career for some years is almost entirely unknown. It is generally supposed that he very soon became connected with theatrical affairs, and one very untrustworthy account states that he at first gained a meagre subsistence by minding the horses of gentlemen who came to the play. We find him before very long one of a company of actors, called the Queen's Players, who performed at the Blackfriars Theatre, and afterwards removed to the new and more commodious building called the Globe Theatre, in Southwark.
He appears to have been only moderately successful as an actor, not rising to higher parts (according to Rowe) than the Ghost in his own“Hamlet.” As a writer for the stage he seems to have been more successful, and it was most likely in that capacity that he rose to be one of the principal proprietors of the Globe Theatre. During his connection with this theatre he wrote many of those great dramas which have immortalised his name.
In 1596 he visited Stratford-on-Avon, on the death of his only son, Hamnet.
He was acquainted with the Earlof Essex, Ben Jonson, and most of the leading spirits of his age. Queen Elizabeth is said to have been an admirer of his genius, and to have been so charmed with his delineation of the character of Falstaff as to request him to continue it in another play, a circumstance which led to the production of “ The Merry Wives of Windsor.”
His father died in 1601, at the age of seventy-one.
In 1607 his eldest daughter, Susanna, married Dr. Hall, a physician of some celebrity in Warwickshire.
Shakespeare seems to have been fond of a quiet country life. He is said to have visited Stratford-on-Avon once a year, and at length, having as a player, author, and proprietor obtained a comfortable competence, he left London early in the seventeenth century and settled down in his native town. Here he acquired property, bought a house and land in “ New Place," and continued the production of the wonderful dramas.
In the year 1613 the Globe Theatre was destroyed by fire during the performance of Shakespeare's "Henry VIII.” Whether he was a loser by this event is not known.
He seems to have lived quietly in Stratford-on-Avon, till his death on the supposed anniversary of his birth, April 23rd, 1616, at the age of fifty-two years. His wife survived him, and died seven years afterwards. His daughter Judith married a vintner of Stratfordon-Avon. There is now no lineal descendant of the great poet.
Shakespeare's will is still in existence, bearing his signature. A specimen of his handwriting is to be seen in the British Museum. The house in Henley Street, where he is supposed to have been born, is still carefully preserved.
He was buried in the Church of Stratford-on-Avon. A stone bearing the following inscription, said to have been written by himself, covers his grave :
“Good frend, for Jesus' sake forbeare
To digg the dust encloased heare ;
And curst' be he yt moves my bones.”
We must reserve our account of the poet's writings for the next number.
s the King
BISHOP OF CARLISLE.
Duke of Hereford, Son to John of Lord Marshal ; and another Lord.
SIR STEPHEN SCROOP.
Duke of York.
DUCHESS OF GLOSTER.
DUCHESS OF YORK. EARL BERKELEY.
Lady attending on the Queen. BUSHY, BAGOT, Creatures to King Rich- Lords, Heralds, Officers, Soldiers, GREEN, ard.
two Gardeners, Keeper, HessenEARL OF NORTHUMBERLAND.
ger, Groom, and other Attendants. SCENE-Dispersedly in England and IVales.
other Nobles with him.
K. Rich. Tell me, moreover, hast thou sounded him,
Gaunt. As near as I could sist him on that argument,-
K. Rich. Then call them to our presence; face to face,
[Exeunt some Attendants.
Re-enter Attendants, with BOLINGBROKE and NORFOLK.
Boling. Many years of happy days befal
Nor. Each day still better other's happiness ;
K. Rich. We thank you both ; yet one but flatters us,
Boling. First (Heaven be the record to my speech !),
Thou art a traitor, and a miscreant ;
Since, the more fair and crystal is the sky,
Nor, Let not my cold words here accuse my zeal : 'Tis not the trial of a woman's war,
The bitter clamour of two eager tongues, 50 Can arbitrate this cause betwixt us twain :
The blood is hot that must be cool'd for this,
And let him be no kinsman to my liege, 60 I do defy him, and I spit at him ;
Call him a slanderous coward, and a villain :
Wherever Englishman dare set his foot.
Boling: Pale trembling coward, there I throw my gage, 70 Disclaiming here the kindred of a king;
And lay aside my high blood's royalty,
Nor. I take it up, and by that sword I swear Which gently laid my knighthood on my shoulder, 80 I'll answer thee in any fair degree,
Or chivalrous design of knightly trial :
K. Rich. What doth our cousin lay to Mowbray's charge ?
Boling. Look, what I speak my life shall prove it true ;That Mowbray hath received eight thousand nobles,
In name of lendings for your highness' soldiers ;
Like a false traitor, and injurious villain.
Upon his bad life, to make all this good,-
Suggest his soon-believing adversaries;
K. Rich. How high a pitch his resolution soars ! 110 Thomas of Norfolk, what say'st thou to this ?
Nor. O, let my sovereign turn away his face,