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to lend, on proper security, a sum of money for the use of the town of Stratford. His continued advance in worldly consideration is indicated by his further purchases. In 1602, according to Wheeler, he gave £320 for one hundred and seventy acres of land, which he added to his estate in New Place. In 1605, he bought for £440 a moiety of the great and small tithes of Stratford; and in 1613, a tenement in Blackfriars for £140. It is remarkable in this latter purchase, that only £80 of the money was paid down, the residue being left as a mortgage on the premises. Malone is of opinion that his annual income could not have been less than £200, which, at the age when he lived, was equal to £800 at present. Several of the nobility, particularly the earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, vied with Southampton in conferring benefits on Shakspeare, and he was distinguished in a most flattering manner, by the favour of two successive sovereigns. We are told that the Merry Wives of Windsor (the first draught of which was finished in a fortnight,) was written expressly at the command of the Virgin Queen, who being highly delighted with Falstaff's humour in Henry IV., wished him to be exhibited under the influence of love. The character of Falstaff, one of the bappiest and most original of all the author's efforts, was, according to Bowman the player, who cited sir William Bishop as his authority, drawn from a townsman of Stratford, who either faithlessly broke a contract, or spitefully refused to part with some land, for a valuable consideration, adjoining to Shakspeare's, in or near that town.
The author's reputation was no doubt increased by the approbation of his royal mistress, which in all likelihood was the only solid advantage he obtained from her notice. Rowe celebrates the "many gracious marks of her favour" which Shakspeare received; but no traces of any pecuniary reward from her manificence is to be found, and the almost invariable parsimony of Elizabeth towards literary men, may fairly induce us to question whether her generosity was exhibited in anything more substantial than praise, notwithstanding all the elegant flattery which the poet offered on the shrine of her vanity. Elizabeth was certainly a very highly-gifted woman, but she was too selfish to pay for applanse, which she was sure of obtaining at an
In James I. the stage found a warm and patron. In 1599, he gave protection to a company of English comedians in his Scottish capital; and he had no sooner ascended the British throne, than be effected an absolute change in the theatrical world. In the first year of his reign, an act of parliament passed, which took from the nobility the privilege of licensing comedians, and all the skeleton companies then existing were immediately united into three regular establishments patronised by the royal family. Henry, prince of Wales, became the patron of lord Nottingham's company, which performed at the Curtain; the earl of Worcester's servants, who commonly acted at the Red Bull, were turned over to the queen, and ulti mately designated Children of the Revels; while the king declared the lord chamberlain's company under his own especial care. The license which James granted to Laurence Fletcher, William Shakspeare, Richard Burbage, and others, dated May 19, 1603, constituted them his servants, gave them legal possession of their usual house, the Globe, and allowed them to exhibit every kind of dramatic representation, in all suitable places in his dominions. From this document we learn that the Globe was the theatre generally occupied by the lord chamberlain's servants; but they had some interest in the house at Blackfriars, which, in the end, they purchased. At these theatres all Shakspeare's plays were originally acted; the Globe was
the summer, the Blackfriars the winter house of the company with which he was connected. [For a more enlarged view of the subject, see the Account of the Theatres in Shakspeare's Time, p. xliii.]
Inspired with feelings of gratitude for the distinction accorded to his associates, or in compliance with the servile spirit of the times, Shakspeare assiduously courted a monarch, whose ear was ever open to the blandishments of flattery. In opposition to historical evidence, Banquo, the ancestor of James, is represented in the tragedy of Macbeth, as noble in mind, and free from the guilt of Duncan's murder. There is another passage in the same play respecting the efficacy of the royal touch in curing the evil, highly complimentary, and this delicate praise richly merited the honour it is said to have earned, an amicable letter,' penned by king James's own hand. Davenant, if we may credit Oldys, possessed this curious epistle, and related the circumstance to Sheffield, duke of Buckingham. The favour shewn by Elizabeth and her successor to Shakspeare was a fact familiar in his own day. Ben Jonson says,
"Sweet swan of Avon, what a sight it were
And mark those flights upon the banks of Thames,' That did so please Eliza and our James." Shakspeare seems to have cherished a sincere regard for James. There are passages in the last written of his plays, which refer to that monarch in highly laudatory terms; and in a curious MS. volume of poems, written apparently about the period of the Revolution, the following lines occur, which are confidently ascribed to our poet:
"Shakspeare upon the King.
"Crownes have their compasse, length of dayes their date;
Of more than earth can earth make none partaker, But knowledge makes the king most like his Maker." Though Elizabeth and James were particularly fond of dramatic representations, it does not appear that they ever visited the public theatres; they gratified their taste by commanding the comedians to perform plays at court. These entertainments were usually given at night, which arrangement suited the actors, as the theatres were generally open in the morning. The ordinary fee for such a performance in London was £6: 13s : 4d. and an additional £3: 6s: 8d. was sometimes bestowed by the bounty of royalty.
Shakspeare soon became important in the management of the theatre, and participated in all the emoluments of the company. It is impossible to estimate his income from this source: we are ignorant into how many shares this theatrical property was divided; nor can we tell what proportion of them was enjoyed by our poet. If, however, he was equal with Heminges, who is joined with him in the license, we are authorized by his partner to assert that it produced "a good yearly income." This worldly elevation induced him to quit the drudgery of an actor, which employment he speaks of in his Sonnets with disgust, and henceforth he seems to have yielded all the powers of his comprehensive mind to the improvement of dramatic literature. The affectionate wish which Shakspeare formed in early life, to return, after his brilliant career, to his native Stratford, and die at home, induced him to purchase New Place, in 1597. In the pleasure ground of that unassuming mansion, he planted with his own hand a mulberry tree, which flourished for many years, and was regarded with reverence. To this favourite spot, in 1613 or 1614, he retired from the applauses of his contemporaries and the bustle of the world, to the genuine repose and unsophisticated pleasures of a country life. Aubrey informs us, that it was our bard's custom to visit Stratford yearly; but
previous to 1596, the place of his residence in The bard immediately gave him the following
London has not been discovered. He then lodged near the Bear Garden in Southwark, and it is not improbable that he remained there till his final retirement from the metropolis.
We shall now throw together such facts as we have gleaned in a careful course of reading, with reference to the subject, as may serve to illustrate the manners, habits, and individual character of Shakspeare.
The following abstract of his life is from Aubrey: "Mr.William Shakspeare was born at Stratford-upon Avon, in the county of Warwick; his father was a butcher, and I have been told heretofore by some of his neighbours, that when he was a boy he exercised his father's trade; but when he killed a calfe, he would doe it in a high style and make a speech. There was, at that time, another butcher's son in that towne, that was helde not at all inferior to him for a naturall witt, his acquaintance and coëtanean, but died young. This Wm. being inclined naturally to poetry and acting, came to London, I guesse about eighteen, and was an actor at one of the playhouses, and did act exceedingly well. Now B. Jonson never was a good actor, but an excellent instructor. He began early to make essayes at dramatic poetry, which at that time was very lowe, and his playes tooke well. He was a handsome well shap't man, and of a verie readie and pleasant smooth witt: the humour of the constable in A Midsummer Night's Dreame, he happened to take at Grendon, in Bucks, which is the roade from London to Stratforde, and there was living that constable about 1642, when I first came to Oxon. Mr. Jos. Howe is of that parishe, and knew him. Ben Jonson and he did gather humours of men dayly, wherever they came. One time, as he was at a tavern at Stratford-upon-Avon, one Combes, an old rich usurer was to be buryed, he makes there this extemporary epitaph:
Ten in the hundred the devill allowes,
But Combes will have twelve, he sweares and vowes; If any one aske who lies in this tombe, Hoh, quoth the devill, 'tis my John o'Combe.' "He was wont to goe to his native countrie once a yeare. I think I have been told, that he left 2 or 300 lib. per annum, or thereabout, to a sister. I have heard sir Wm. Davenant and Mr. Thomas Shadwell (who is counted the best comedian we have now), say that he had a most prodigious witt; and did admire his naturall parts beyond all other dramaticall writers. He was wont to say, that he never blotted out a line in his life; sayd Ben Jonson, I wish he had blotted out a thousand. His comedies will remain witt as long as the English tongue is understood, for that he handles mores hominum: now our present writers reflect so much upon particular persons and coxcombities, that twenty years hence they will not be understood."
There is no such character in the Midsummer Night's Dream as a constable. Aubrey most probably referred to the sagacious Dogberry in Much Ado about Nothing. This account, though seemingly sanctioned by good authority, and written most probably within thirty years of Shakspeare's death, is treated by his biographers as incredible; yet it is well worth preservation, for we cannot find any reasonable grounds on which Aubrey's testimony should be rejected. The story of the epitaph is variously told. In the following version the wit is certainly heightened: "Mr. John Combe had amassed considerable wealth by the practice of usury; he was Shakspeare's intimate friend. In the gaiety of conversation he told the poet that he fancied he intended to furnish his epitaph; and since whatever might be said of him after he was dead must be unknown to him, he requested it might be written forthwith.
"Ten in the hundred lies here engrav'd;
Oh oh quoth the devil, tis my John-a-Combe." Peck, in his Memoirs of Milton, 4to. 1740, has introduced another epitaph, which he attributes, though it does not appear on what authority, to Shakspeare. It is on a Tom-a-Combe, otherwise Thin-beard, brother to the above-named John who is noticed by Rowe :
"Thin in beard, and thick in purse,
He went to the grave with many a curse;
Much has been said of the rivalship and dissen
........ You see
What audience we have, what company
To Shakspeare comes; whose mirth did once beguile
He has but few friends lately."---Prologue to the Sister
I' th' lady's questions, and the fool's replies;
Verses on Fletcher, by William Cartwright,
Prologue to Shirley's Love Tricks, "At every shop, while Shakspeare's lofty style Neglected lies, to mice and worms a spoil; Gilt on the back, just smoking from the press, The apprentice shews you D'Urfey's Hudibras; Crown's Mask, bound up with Settle's choicest labour And promises some new essay of Babors." Satire, published in In the Spectator, Addison has several papers which a very high character is given of Sh speare's genius; but it is evident from the que
"If but stage actors all the world displays,
"Little or much of what we see, we do,
All this may be called trifling; but even trifles be-
Mr. Gifford has triumphantly proved, that the once generally received opinion of Jonson's malignant feelings towards his friend and benefactor, is void of the slightest foundation in fact; on the contrary, we are justified in believing that the author of Sejanus was, on all occasions, ready to admit the wonderful merit of his less learned, but more highlygifted, contemporary. His lines under Shakspeare's effigy breathe the warmest spirit of reverence and
"The figure that thou here seest put,
The anecdotes subjoined rest, perhaps, on slight authority; but every particular relative to our un rivalled dramatist has such powerful attraction, that we should not feel justified in withholding
tions introduced, that the elegant critic had no ac- | being asked for his opinion, wrote on a scrap of quaintance with his original, but through the medium of Davenant's new modelled editions of his great god-father's dramas. This fact is partly accounted for on the principle that classical literature and the learning of the schools were esteemed in those days as the best criterions of talent. Jonson's constant objection to Shakspeare, was the want of that species of knowledge; and upon his proficiency in it, be arrogated the superiority to himself. All classical scholars, however, did not sanction Jonson's claims; since, among the warmest admirers of Shakspeare, was one of the most learned men of his age, the great and excellent Hales. "On one occasion, the latter, after listening in silence to a warm debate between sir John Suckling and Jonson, is reported to have interposed, by observing that if Shakspeare had not read the ancients, he had likewise not stolen anything from them, and that if he (Jonson) would produce any one topic finely treated by any of them, he would undertake to shew something upon the same subject, at least as well written by Shakspeare.' A trial, it is added, being in consequence agreed to, judges were appointed to decide the dispute, who unanimously voted in favour of the English poet, after a candid examination and comparison of the passages produced by the contending parties." All this proves nothing more than a collision of intellect between these great men, which might exist without a particle of enmity or malicious feeling, and there are several circumstances to favour the opinion that Shakspeare and Jonson lived together on the most friendly terms. Our bard, in all probability, assisted in the composition of Sejanus; and on his Queen Elizabeth used sometimes to sit bedeath, Jonson wrote an elegy in his honour, in-hind the scenes, while her favourite plays were scribed his effigy with panegyrical verses, and fur- performing one evening, Shakspeare enacted the nished a preface for the first edition of his plays: part of a monarch (probably, in Henry IV.) The nor did the lapse of years cool his regard, or efface audience knew that her majesty was present. She from his mind the recollection of his companion; and being loudly greeted by the spectators, curtsied crossed the stage while Shakspeare was acting, in his declining days, he declared with all the energy of truth, "I loved the man, and do honour politely to the poet, who took no notice of her condescension. When behind the scenes, she caught his memory, on this side idolatry, as much as any." his eye and moved again, but still he would not Fuller's comparative view of these illustrious This made her majesty think of some means to throw off his character to pay her any attention. writers is highly interesting: "Shakspeare was an eminent instance of the truth of that rale: Poeta non know whether she could induce him to forget the fil sed nascitur, (one is not made, but born a poet.)ingly, as he was about to make his exit, she stepped dignity of his character while on the stage. AccordIndeed his learning was but very little; so that as Cornish diamonds are not polished by any lapidary, bot are pointed and smoothed even as they are taken out of the earth, so nature itself was all the art which was used upon him. Many were the wit combats betwixt him and Ben Jonson, which two I beheld, like a Spanish great galleon, and an English man of war! Master Jonson, like the former, was built far higher in learning, solid but slow in his performances. Shakspeare, with the English man of war, lesser in bulk, but lighter in sailing, could turn with all tides, and take advantage of all winds, by the quickness of his wit and invention."
The following anecdote, preserved by Malone, will serve to shew the habits of close intimacy in which these great and amiable men lived. In the serious business of life, rivals, and even enemies, are often obliged to associate; but when we find men seeking each other in the season of relaxation, and mingling thoughts in their sportive humours, we may safely pronounce them to be friends. An amicable dispute arose concerning the motto of the Globe theatre, "Totus mundus egit histrionem;" (all the world acts a play;) some condemned it as unmeaning, others declared it to be a fine piece of sententious wisdom; Jonson,
before him, dropped her glove, and re-crossed the stage, which Shakspeare noticing, took it up with these words, so immediately after finishing his speech, that they seemed to belong to it:
"And though now bent on this high embassy, Yet stoop we to take up our cousin's glove." He then withdrew from the stage, and presented the glove to the queen, who was much pleased with his behaviour, and complimented him on its propriety.
One evening, Burbage performed Richard III. and while behind the scenes, Shakspeare overheard him making an assignation with a lady of considerable beauty. Burbage was to knock at her chamber-door; she was to say, "Who comes there?" and on receiving for answer, "Tis I, Richard the Third," the favoured tragedian was to be admitted. Shakspeare instantly determined to keep the appointment himself. Tapping at the lady's door, he made the expected response to her interrogatory, and gained admittance. The poet's eloquence soon converted the fair one's anger into satisfaction; but the real Simon Pure quickly arrived; he rapped loudly, and to the expected query replied, ""Tis I, Richard the Third.” "Then," quoth Shakspeare,
go thy ways, Burby, for thou knowest that William the Conqueror reigned before Richard the Third.”
A tradition exists of a literary club, of which Shakspeare was a member, and which included the following illustrious names: Jonson, Fletcher, Selden, Cotton, Carew, Martin, Beaumont, and Donne. The meetings of such a phalanx of talent must necessarily have been attended with "the feast of reason and the flow of soul."
With Dadging Exhall, Papist Wixford,
These epithets we are told, are still given to th
There is a tradition in Stratford, of our po likening the carbuncled face of a drunken bla smith to a maple. The smith addressed him as leant over a mercer's door, thus:
"Now, Mr. Shakspeare, tell me if you can,
The difference between a youth and a young man."
To which Shakspeare instantly answered:
"Thou son of fire, with thy face like a maple,
This story was told, upwards of fifty years since
Of Shakspeare's convivial disposition, the following legendary story, told by John Jordan, a native of Stratford, might be given as evidence; though, certainly, it does not redound much to his credit. Shakspeare, says the tradition, loved hearty draughts of English beer or ale, and there were two clubs of persons who met at a village called Bid- lantries of our poet; they may not deserve en We come now to speak of some traditional ford, about seven miles below Stratford, who dis- credence, but it would not be satisfactory to tinguished themselves by the designation of topers them altogether. In his journeyings betw and sippers, the former of whom could drink the most without being intoxicated; the latter, bow- Stratford and London, Shakspeare often put u ever, were superior to most other drinkers in the the Crown Inn, Oxford; the hostess was bean country. These lovers of John Barleycorn chal-nine complexion, but a lover of plays and p and witty; the host, a discreet citizen, of a sa lenged all England to drink with them, to try the strength of their heads; the Stratford bard and his companions accepted it, and went to Bidford, on a Whit-Monday, to encounter the topers; but they were gone to Evesham fair upon a like expedition, so that Shakspeare and his Stratford friends were forced to sit down with the sippers; upon trial, they found themselves inferior to their opponents the poet and his companions became so intoxicated that they were forced to decline further trial. Leaving Bidford, they proceeded homeward, but poor William, when he had gone about half a mile, faid himself down on the turf, under the boughs of a crab-tree, where he reposed for the night. Awaking with the lark, he was invited to return to Bidford and renew the contest, but he refused, telling them, that he had drunk with
"Piping Pebworth, Dancing Marston,
wrights, and more particularly, of his visitor.
while he celebrates the charms of his fair ens!
"Two loves I have of comfort and despair,
And being both from me, both to each friend,
Yet this shall I ne'er know, but live in doubt,
A breach, however, did ensue between the bard and his good spirit; yet the pangs of separation scon proved intolerable; and, in defiance of his jealousies and doubts, Shakspeare took back his friend to his bosom, with an affection which seemed more powerful for this short interruption.
It has often been mentioned as singular, that Shakspeare does not appear to have written any commendatory verses on his literary companions, to which his great good-nature, it might have been supposed, would have inclined him; it was not known that he had composed even a solitary stanza to applaud the living or eulogize the dead. The annexed epitaphs, if they be authentic, and they have much of Shakspeare's manner about them, will prove, that in two instances at least, he laid aside that diffidence of his own merits, which made him undervalue the plaudits of a muse, the slightest breath of whose praise would have conferred immortality. In a MS. volume of poems, by Herrick and others, in the handwriting of Charles I. served in the Bodleian library, is the following epitaph, ascribed to our poet :
"When God was pleas'd, the world unwilling yet, Elias James to nature payd his debt, And here reposeth; as be liv'd, he dydes The saying in him strongly veretied, Such life, such death: then, the known truth to tell, He liv'd a godly life, and dyde as well. "WM. SHAKSPEARE." Sir William Dugdale, in his Visitation Book, describes a monument in Tongue church, Salop, erected in memory of sir Thomas Stanley, who died about the year 1600. After a long prose inscription, the frail marble was charged with the following
"These following Verses were made by
He is not dead, he doth but sleepe.
His fame is more perpetual than these stones:
"Written upon the west end thereof. "Not monumental stone preserves our fame, Nor skye-aspiring pyramids 'our name. The memory of him for whom this stands, Shall out-live marble, and defacers' hands. When all to time's consumption shall be given, Stanley, for whom this stands, shall stand in heaven." Shakspeare seems to have had no personal connexion with the theatre for about three years previously to his death, and this scanty remnant of his days was passed in peace and comfort. Rowe says: "The latter part of his life was spent, as all men of good sense would wish theirs' may be, in
ease, retirement, and the conversation of his friends. His pleasurable wit and good-nature engaged him in the acquaintance, and entitled him to the friendship, of the gentlemen of the neighbourhood." And tation as a poet, favoured by the great and accomin the words of Dr. Drake, "He was high in repuplished, and beloved by all who knew him." Nothing can be more delightful than to contemplate this wonderful man, in the vigour of his age, and in the full possession of his amazing faculties, retiring from the scene of his well-earned triumphs, to find, in the comparative seclusion of his native town, that repose and quietude both of mind and body, which is not to be looked for in the bustle of the world. And if he, whose glory was to fill the universe, and whose pursuits (if anything connected with time can be,) were worthy of an immortal soul, could pant for retirement in the meridian of his days, what excuse have they, who, in senectude and feebleness, continue to toil among the mole-hills of earth for a little perishable gold, for which they have no use when they have obtained it?
Shakspeare retired from the metropolis at a period little past the prime of life. We meet with no hint of any failure in his constitution; and the execution of his will, in "perfect health and memory," on the 25th of March, 1616, warrants no immediate expectation of his decease. The curtain was now to fall, however, on his earthly stage of existence. He died on the 23d of April, the anniversary of his birth, having exactly completed his fifty-second year. On the 25th, two days after his death, his body was laid in its original dust, being buried under the north side of the chancel of the great church at Stratford; a flat stone, protecting all that was perishable of the remains of Shakpeare, bears this inscription:
"Good frend, for Jesus' sake forbeare,
Bless'd be the man that spares these stones,
The common opinion is, that these lines were written by the poet himself; but this notion has, perhaps, originated solely from the use of the word "my" in the closing line. "The imprecation," says Malone, was probably suggested by an apprehension that our author's remains might share the same fate with those of the rest of his countrymen, and be added to the immense pile of human bones deposited in Stratford charnel-house."
We shall now give a brief abstract of Shakspeare's will, which is yet extant in the Prerogative Office. It bears date, March 25, 1616, and commences with the following paragraphs:
"In the name of God, amen. I, William Shakspeare, at Stratford-upon-Avon, in the county of (God be praised!) do make and ordain this my last Warwick, gent. in perfect health and memory, will and testament in manner and form following; that is to say:
"First, I commend my soul into the hands of God my Creator, hoping, and assuredly believing, through the only merits of Jesus Christ, my Saviour, to be made partaker of life everlasting; and my body to the earth, whereof it is made."
It then proceeds to make the bequests enumerated below:
To his daughter Judith he gave £150 of lawful English money; £100 to be paid in discharge of her marriage-portion within one year after his decease, and the remaining £50 upon her giving up to her elder sister, Susanna Hall, all her right in a copyhold tenement and appurtenances, parcel of the manor of Rowington. To the said Judith he also bequeathed £150 more, if she or any of her issue were living three years from the date of his will; but, in the contrary event, then he directed that £100 of the sum should be paid to his niece,