« PreviousContinue »
strictures at the end of each play have been retain. The text of che present edixon is formed upon
having pointed out the characteristic excellencies of «Quid valet ad surdas si cantet Phemius aures ?
the great Poet of nature, in an eloquent and philoQuid cæcum Thamyram picta tabella juvat?'
sophical spirit of criticism; which, though it may It has been the studious endeavour of the Editor tical enthusiasm, has dealt out to Shakspeare his
sometimes' be thought a litile tinctured with mysto avoid those splenetic and insulting reflections upon due meed of praise ; and has, no doubt, tended to the errors of the commentators, where it has been dissipate the prejudices of some neighbouring na. his good fortune to detect them, which have been tions who have been too long wilfully blind to his sometimes too captiously indulged in by labourers
merits. in this field of verbal criticism. Indeed it would ill become him to speak contemptuously of those who, vour the public with an edition of Shakspeare : how
Mr. Gifford, as it appears, once proposed to fawith all their defects, have deserved the gratitude of admirably that excellent critic would have performthe age ; for it is chiefly owing to the labours of Tyre ed the task the world need not now be told. The whitt, Warton, Percy, Steevens, Farmer, and their Editor, who has been frequently indebted to the successors, that attention has been drawn to the remarks on the language of our great Poet which mine of wealth which our early literature affords; and no one will affect to deny that a recurrence to Massinger, may be permitted to anticipate the pub
occur in the notes to the works of Ben Jonson and it has not been attended with beneficial effects, if it lic regret that these humble labours were not prehas not raised us in the moral scale of nations. The plan pursued in the selection, abridgment, console himself with having used his best endeavour
sented by that more skilful hand. As it is, he must and concentration of the notes of others, precluded to accomplish the task which he was solicited to the necessity of affixing the names of the commen- undertake; bad his power equalled his desire to tators from whom the information was borrowed; render it useful and acceptable, the work would and, excepting in a few cases of controversial dis- have been more worthy of the public favour, and of cussion, and of some critical observations, authori- the Poet whom he and all unite in idolizingties are not given. The very curious and valuable Illustrations of Shakspeare by Mr. Douce have been
The bard of every age and clime, laid onder frequent contribution; the obligation has Of genius fruitful and of soul sublime, Rot always been expressed ; and it is therefore here Who, from the flowing mint of fancy, pours acknowledged with thankfulness.
No spurious metal, fused from common ores, It will be seen that the Editor has not thought, But gold, to matchless purity refin'd, with some of his predecessors, that the text of
And stamp'd with all the godhead in his mind; Shakspeare was 'fixed in any particular edition
He whom I feel, but want the power to paint! beyond the hope or probability of future amendment.' He has rather coincided with the opinion of
JUVENAL, Sat. vii, Mr. Gifford's Translation Mr. Gifford, that those would deserve well of the public who should bring back some readings which Steevens discarded, and reject others which he has MICKLEHAM, dopted.
Dec. S, 1825.
HEREVER any extraordinary display of hu- | tory outline, we must have recourse to the vague
man intellect has been made, there will human reports of unsubstantial tradition, or to the still curiosity, at one period or the other, be busy to ob- more shadowy inferences of lawless and vagabond tain some personal acquaintance with the distin- conjecture. of this remarkable ignorance of one guished mortal whom Heaven had been pleased to of the most richly endowed with intellect of the endow with a larger portion of its own ethereal human species, who ran his mortal race in our own energy. If the favoured man walked on the high country, and who stands separated from us by no places of the world; if he were conversant with very great intervention of time, the causes may not courts; if he directed the movements of armies or be difficult to be ascertained. William Shakspeare of states, and thus held in his hand the fortunes and was an actor and a writer of plays; in neither of the lives of multitudes of his fellow-creatures, the which characters, however he might excel in them, interest, which he excites, will be immediate and could he be lifted high in the estimation of his cono strong : he stands on an eminence where he is the temporaries. He was honoured, indeed, with the mark of many eyes; and dark and unleitered in- friendship of nobles, and the patronage of monarchs : deed must be the age in which the incidents of his his theaire was frequented by the wits of the me. eveniful life will noi be noted, and the record of tropolis ; and he associated with the most intellecthem be preserved for the instruction or the enter- tual of his times. But the spirit of the age was tainment of unborn generations. But if his course against him; and, in opposition to it, he could not were throug'i the vale of life: if he were unmingled become the subject of any general or comprehenwith the factions and the contests of the great: if sive interest. The nation, in short, knew liitle and the powers of his mind were devoted to the silent cared less about him. During his life, and for some pursuits of literature the converse of philuo years after his death, inferior dramatists outran him sophy and the Muse, the possessor of the ethereal in the race of popularity; and then the flood of treasure may excite little of the attention of his puritan fanaticism swept him and the stage together contemporaries; may walk quietly, with a veil into temporary oblivion. On the restoration of the over his glories, to the grave; and, in other times, monarcliy and the theatre, the school of France when the expansion of his intellectual greatness perverted our taste, and it was not till the last cenhas filled the eyes of the world, it may be too late tury was somewhat advanced that William Shakto inquire for his history as a man. The bright speare arose again, as it were, from the tomb, in al. track of his genius indelibly remains; but the trace his proper majesty of light. He then became the of his mortal footstep is soon obliterated for ever. subject of solicitous and learned inquiry: but inHomer is now only a name—a solitary name, which quiry was then too late ; and all that it could recoassures us, that, at some unascertained period in ver, from the ravage of time, were only a few huthe annals of mankind, a mighty mind was indulged man fragments, which could scarcely be united into to a human being, and gave its wonderful produc- a man. To these causes of our personal ignoranco tions to the perpetual admiration of men, as they of the great vard of England, must be added his spring in succession in the path of time. Of Homer own strange indifference to the celebrity of genius. himself we actually know nothing; and we see only When he had produced his admirable works, ignoan arm of immense power thrust forth from a mass rant or heedless of their value, he abandoned them of impenetrable darkness, and holding up the hero with perfect indifference to oblivion or to fame. It of his song to the applauses of never-dying fame. surpassed his thought that he could grow into the But it may be supposed that the revolution of, per- admiration of the world; and, without any referhaps, thirty centuries has collected the cloud which ence to the curiosity of future ages, in which he thus withdraws the father of poesy from our sight. could not conceive himself to possess an interest, Little more than two centuries has elapsed since he was contented to die in the arms of obscurity, William Shakspeare conversed with our tongue, as an unlaurelled burgher of a provincial town. and trod the selfsame soil with ourselves; and if it. To this combination of causes are we to attribute were not for the records kept by our Church in its the scantiness of our materials for the Life of registers of births, marriages, and burials, we William Shakspeare. His works are in nyriads of should at this moment be as personally ignorant of hands : be constitutes the delight of myriads of the “ sweet swan of Avon” as we are of the old readers: his renown is coextensive with the civiminstrel and rhapsodist of Meles. That William lization of man; and, striding across the ocean Shakspeare was born in Stratford upon Avon ; that from Europe, it occupies the wide region of transhe married and had three children; that he wrote atlantic empire : but he is himself only a shadow a certain number of dramas; that he died before which disappoints our grasp; an undefined form he had attained to old age, and was buried in his which is rather intimated than discovered to the native town, are positivelv the only !acts, ir. the keenesi searcings vi vur eve. of the late howpersonai nistory of this extraordinary man, of which | ever, questionable or certain, which can be told of we are certainly possessed; and, if we should be him, we must now proceed to make the best use in solicitous to fill up this bare and most unsatisfac- l our power, to write what by esy may be called
nis .ife; and we have only to lament that the result | gious faith, has recently been made the subject of of our labour must greatly disappoint the curiosity controversy. According to the testimony of Rowe, which has been excited by the grandeur of his repu- grounded on the tradition of Straiford, the father of tation. The slight narrative of Rowe, founded on our Poet was a dealer in wool, or, in the provincial che information obtained, in the beginning of the vocabulary of his country, a wool-driver; and such last century, by the inquiries of Betterton, the he has been deemed by all the biographers of his famous actor, will necessarily supply us with the son, till the fact was thrown into doubt by the result greater part of the materials with which we are to of the inquisitiveness of Malone. Finding, in an work.
old and obscure MS. purporting to record the pro
ceedings of the bailiff's court in Stratford, our WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE, or SHAXSPERE, (for John Shakspeare designated as a glover, Malone the floating orthography of the name is properly exults over the ignorance of poor Rowe, and as attached to the one or the other of these varieties,) sumes no small degree of merit to himself as the was baptized in the church of Stratford upon Avon, discoverer of a long sought and a most important as is ascertained by the parish register, on the 26th historic truth. If he had recollected the rernark of of April, 1564; and he is said to have been born on the clown in the Twelfth Night, * that " a sentence the 23d of the same month, the day consecrated to is but a cheverel glove to a good wit. How quickly thu tutelar saint of England. His parents, John the wrong side may be turned outwards !” he would, and Mary Shakspeare, were not of equal ranks in doubtless, have pressed the observation into his será the community ; for the former was only a respect- vice, and brought it as an irresistible attestation of able tradesman, whose ancestors cannot be traced the veracity of his old MS. into gentility, whilst the latter belonged to an an Whatever may have been the trade of John cient and opulent house in the county of Warwick, Shakspeare, whether that of wool-merchant or of being the youngest daughter of Robert Arden of glover, it seems, with the little fortune of his wife, Wilmecote. The family of the Ardens (or Arder- io have placed him in a state of casy competence. nes, as it is written in all the old deeds,) was of In 1569 or 1570, in consequence partly of his alliconsiderable antiquity and importance, some of ance with the Ardens, and partly of his attainment them having served as high sheriffs of their county, of the prime municipal honours of his town, he and two of them (Sir John Arden and his nephew, obtained a concession of arms from the herald's the grandfather of Mrs. Shakspeare,) having en-office, a grant, which placed him and his family on joyed each a station of honour in the personal esta- the file of the gentry of England; and, in 1574, he blishment of Henry VII. The younger of these purchased two houses, with gardens and orchards Ardens was made, by his sovereign, keeper of the annexed to them, in Henley Street, in Stratford. park of Aldercar, and bailiff of the lordship of Cod- But before the year 1578, his prosperity, from nore. He obtained, also, from the crown, a valu- causes not now ascertainable, had certainly deable grant in the lease of the manor of Yoxsal, in clined; for in that ycar, as we find from the records Staffordshire, consisting of more than 4,600 acres, of his borough, he was excused, in condescension
the stil agabond ce of one ct of the
Our 099 us by Do
may DCH akspeare berter of
at a re
with the narchs: the me istelles age 28 could not mpreher little and
of 42. Mary Arden did not come dowers to his poverty, from the moiety of a very moderato less to her plebeian husband, for she brought to him assessinent of six shillings and eighi pence, made a small freehold estate called Asbies, and the sum by the members of the corporation on themselves of 6l. 13s. 4.1. in money. The freehold consisted of at the same time that he was a.together exempled a house and fifty-four acres of land; and, as far as from his contribution to the relief of the peor. it appears, it was the first piece of landed property During the remaining years of his life, his fortunes which was cver possessed by the Shakspeares. appear not to have recovered themselves ; for ho of this marriage the offspring was four sons and ceased to attend the meetings of the corporation four daughters; of whom Joan (or, according to hall, where he had once presided; and, in 1586, the orthography of that time, Jone,) and Margarer, another person was substituted as alderman in his the eldest of the children died, one in infancy and place, in consequence of his magisterial inefficiency. one at a somewhat more advanced age; and Gil- He died in the September of 1601, when his illusbert, whose birth immediately succeeded to that of trious son had already attained to high celebrity; our Poet, is supposed by some not to have reached and his wife, Mary Shakspeare, surviving him for his maturity, and by others, to have attained to con seven years, deceased in the September of 1608, siderable jongevity. Joan, the eldest of the four the burial of the former being registered on the remaining children, and named after her deceased eighth and that of the latter on the ninth of this sister, married William Hart, a hatter in her native month, in each of these respective years. town; and Edmund, the youngest of the family, On the 30th of June, 1564, when our Poet had adopting the profession of an actor, resided in St. not yet been three months in this breathing world, Saviour's parish in London; and was buried in St. his native Stratford was visited by the plague; and, Saviour's Church, on the last day of December, during the six succeeding months, the ravaging disa 1607, in his twenty-eighth year. Of Anne and ease is calculated to have swept to the grave more Richard, whose births intervened between those of than a seventh part of the whole population of the Joan and Edmund, th parish register tells the place. But the favoured infant reposed in security whole history, when it i cords that the former was in his cradle, and breathed healih amid an atmosburied on the 4th of Apr 1, 1579, in the eighth year phere of pestilence. The Genius of England may of her age, and the laite on the 4th of February, be supposed to have held the arm of the destroyer, 1612-13, when he had neurly completed his thirty- and not to have permitted it to fall on the conse ainth.
crated dwelling of his and Nature's darling. The In consequence of a document, discovered in the disease, indeed, did not overstep his charmed thresyear 1770, in the house in which, if tradition is to hold; for the name of Shakspeare is not to be found be trusted, our Poet was born, some persons having in the register of deaths throughout that period of concluded that John Shakspeare was a Roman accelerated mortality. That he survived this desoCatholic, though he had risen, by the regular gra- lating calamity of his townsmen, is all that we know dation of office, to the chief dignity of the corpora- of William Shakspeare from the day of his birth tion of Stratford, that of high bailiff'; and, during till he was sent, as we are informed by Rowe, to the the whole of this period, had unquestionably con- free-school of Stratford; and was stationed there formed to the rites of the Church of England. The in the course of his education, till, in corsequence asserted fact seemed not to be very probable; and of the straitened circumstances of his father, ho the document in question, which, drawn up in a was recalled to the paternal roof. As we are not testamentary form and regularly attested, zealously told at what age he was sent to school, we colizo! profosses the Roman faith of him in whose name it form any estimale of the time during which he pre speaks, having been subjected to a rigid examina- mained there. But if he was placed under his tion by Malonc, has been pronounced to be spurious. The trade of John Slakspeare, as well as his reli
• Act iii. sc.
tran him 2 Hood of p together con of the of France
- last rebe
am Shat. omh, in al came te
a ler his nited into anoranet added bis of genius rks, 1900ned them fame. It w into the ny refer which he
interest Obscurity, ial town. attribute
Life d 7 riads of sriads d the civi ne ocean of trans
shadon ved form ed to the le 50% e told of si use a pe called
master when he was six years old, he might have he continued in this situation whilst he remained in continued in a state of instruction for seven or even his single state, has not been told to us, and cannot for eight years; a term sufficiently long for any therefore at this period he known. But in the abu doy, not an absolute blockhead, to acquire some- sence of information, conjecture will be busy; and thing more than the mere elements of the classical will soon cover the bare desert with unprofitable languages. We are too ignorant, however, of dates vegetation. Whilst Malone surmises that the young in these instances to speak with any confidence on Poet passed the interval, till his marriage, or a the subject; and we can only assert that seven or large portion of it, in the office of an attorney, cight of the fourteen years, which intervened ben Aubrey stations him during the same term at the tween the birth of our Poet in 1564 and the known head of a country school. But the surmises of period of his father's diminished fortune in 1578, Malone are not universally happy; and to the might very properly have been given to the advan- assertions of Aubrey* I am not disposed to attach tages of the free-school. But now the important more credit than was attached to them by Anthony question is to be asked-What were the attainments Wood, who knew the old gossip and was compeof our young Shakspeare at this seat of youthful sent to appreciate his character. It is more probainstruction ? Did he return to his father's house in ble that the necessity, which brought young Shak1 state of utter ignorance of classic literature? or speare from his school, retained him with his was he as far advanced in his school-studies as father's occupation at home, till the acquisition of a boys of his age (which I take to be thirteen or four wife made it convenient for him to remove to a teen) usually are in the common progress of our separate habitation. It is reasonable to conclude public and more reputable schools ?' That his scho- that a mind like his, ardent, excursive, and "all lastic attainments did not rise to the point of learn- compact of imagination,” would not be satisfied ing, seems to have been the general opinion of his with entire inactivity ; but would obtain knowledge contemporaries; and to this opinion I am willing where it could, if not from the stores of the anto assent. But I cannot persuasie myself that he cients, from those at least which were supplied to was entirely unacquainted with the classic tongues ; him by the writers of his own country. or that, as Farmer and his followers labour to con- In 1582, before he had completed his eighteenth vince us, he could receive the instructions, even for year, he married Anne Hathaway, the daughter, as three or four years, of a school of any character, Rowe informs us, of a substantial yeoman in the and could then depart without any knowledge be- neighbourhood of Stratford. We are unacquainted yond that of the Latin accidence. The most ac- with the precise period of their marriage, and with complished scholar may read with pleasure the the church in which it was solemnized, for in the poetic versions of the classic poets; and the less register of Stratford there is no record of the event; advanced proficient may consult bis indolence by and we are made certain of the year, in which it applying to the page of a translation of a prosc occurred, only by the baptism of Susanna, the first slassic, when accuracy of quotation may not be produce of the union, on the 26th of May, 1583. required : and on evidences of this nature is sup- As young Shakspeare neither increased his fortune ported the charge which has been brought, and by ihis maich, ihough he probably received some which is now generally admitted, against our im- money with his wife, nor raised himself by it in the mortal bard, of more ihan school-boy ignorance. community, we may conclude that he was induced He might, indeed, from necessity apply to North to it by inclination, and the impulse of love. But for the interpretation of Plutarch; but he read the youthful poet's dream of happiness does not Golding's Ovid only, as I am satisfied, for the en- seem to have been realized by the result. The tertainment of its English poetry. Ben Jonson, bride was eight years older than the bridegroom; who must have been intimately conversant with his and whatever charms she might possess to fascinate friend's classic acquisitions, tells us expressly that, the eyes of her boy-lover, she probably was defi“He had small Latin and less Greek.” But, cient in those powers which are requisite to imposo according to the usual plan of instruction in our a durable fetter on the heart, and to hold “in sweet schools, he must have traversed a considerable ex- captivity” a mind of the very highest order. No tert of the language of Rome, before he could charge is intimated against the lady: but she is left touch even the confines of that of Greece. He in Siratford by her husband during his long resi must in short have read Ovid's Metamorphoses, dence in the metropolis ; and on his death, she is and a part at least of Virgil, before he could open found to be only slightly, and, as it were, casually the grammar of the more ancient, and copious, and remembered in his will. Her second pregnancy, complex dialect. This I conceive to be a fair state- which was productive of twins, (Hamnet and Jument of the case in the question respecting Shak-dith, baptized on the 2d of February, 1584–5,) tere speare's learning. Beyond controversy he was not minated her pride as a mother; and we know noa scholar; but he had not profited so little by the thing more respecting her than that, surviving her hours, which he had passed in school, as not to be illustrious consort by rather more than seven years, able to understand the more easy Roman authors she was buried on the 8th of August, 1623, being, without the assistance of a translation. If he him- as we are told by the inscription on her tomb, of self had been asked, on the subject, he might have the age of sixty-seven. Respecting the habits of parodied his own Falstaff and have answered, “In-life, or the occupation of our young Poet by which deed I am not a Scaliger or a Budæus, but yet no he obtained his subsistence, or even the place of his blockhead, friend." I believe also that he was not residence, subsequently to his marriage, not a floatwholly unacquainted with the popular languages of ing syllable has been wafted to us by tradition for France and Italy. He had abundant leisure to ac- the gratification of our curjosity; and the history quire them; and the activity and the curiosity of of this great man is a perfect blank till the occur his mind were sufficiently strong to urge him to rence of an event, which drove him from his native their acquisition. But to discuss this much agita- town, and gave his wonderful intellect to break out led question would lead me beyond the limits which in its full lustre on the world. From the frequent aru prescribed to me; and, contenting myself with allusions in his writings to the elegant sport of faldeclaring that, in my opinion, both parties are conry, it has been suggested that this, possibly, wrong, both they who contend for our Poet's learn- might be one of his favourite amusements : and now ing, and they who place his illiteracy on a level thing can be more probable, from the active season with that of John Taylor, the celebrated waterpoet, I must resume my humble and most deficient * What credit can be due to this Mr. Aubrey, who aarrative. The classical studies of William Shak-picked up information on the highway and scaliered to speare, whatever progress he may or may not have every where as authentic? who whipped Milton at Cam made in them, were now suspended; and he was making our young Shakspeare a butcher's boy, could
bridge in violation of the university statutes; and who, roplaced in his father's house, when he had attained embrue his hands in the blood of calves, and represent his thirteenth or fourteenth year, to assist with his him as exulting in poetry over the convulsions of the band in the maintenance of the family. Whether | dying animals)
of his life, and his fixed habitation in the country, (fant offspring. The world was spread before him, than his strong and eager passion for all the plea- like a dark ocean, in which no fortunate isle could sures of the field. As a sportsman, in his rank of be seen to glitter amid the gloomy and sullen tide. life, he would naturally become a poacher; and But he was blessed with youth and health ; his then it is highly probable that he would fall into the conscience was unwounded, for the adventure for acquaintance of poachers; and, associating with which he suffered, was regarded, in the estimation them in his idler hours, would occasionally be one of his times, as a mere boy's frolick, of not greater of their fellow-marauders on the manors of their guilt than the robbing of an orchard; and his mind, rich neighbours. In one of these licentious excur- rich beyond example in the gold of heaven, could sions on the grounds of Sir Thomas Lucy of Charle- throw lustre over the black waste before him, and cote, in the immediate vicinity of Stratford, for the could people it with a beautiful creation of her own. purpose, as it is said, of stealing his deer, our We may imagine him, then, departing from his young bard was detected; and, having farther irri- home, not indeed like the great Ronjan captive as lated the knight by affixing a satirical ballad on him he is described by the pootto the gates of Charlecote, he was compelled to fly before the enmity of his powerful adversary, and to
Fertur pndicæ conjugis osculum, goek an asylum in the capital. Malone, * who is Parvosque naros, ut capitis minor,
Ab se removisse, et virilem prone to doubt, wishes to question the truth of this
Torvus humi posuisse, vultum, &c. whole narrative, and to ascribe the flight of young Shakspeare from his native country to the embar- but touched with some feelings of natural sorrow, rassment of his circumstances, and the persecution yet with an unfaltering step, and with hope vigour: of his creditors. But the story of the deer-steal- ous at his heart. It was impossible that he should ing rests upon the uniform tradition of Stratford, and is confirmed by the character of Sir T. Lucy, despair; and if he indulged in sanguine expectawho is known to have been a rigid preserver of his tion, the event proved him not to be a visionary, game, by the enmity displayed against his memory became the associate of wits, the friend of nobles, by Shakspeare in his succeeding life ; and by a the favourite of monarchs; and in a period which part of the offensive balladt itself, preserved by a still left him not in sight of old age, he returned to Mr. Jones of Tarbick, a village near to Stratford, his birth-place in alluence, with honour, and with who obtained it from those who must have been the plaudits of the judicious and the noble resound-quainted with the fact, and who could not be
ing in his ears. biased by any ir-erest or passion to falsify or mis His immediate refuge in the metropolis was the state it. Besides the objector, in this instance, stage; to which his access, as it appears, was easy. seems not to be aware that it was easier to escape Stratford was fond of theatrical representations, from the resentment of an offended proprietor of which it accommodated with its town or guildhall; game, than from the avarice of a creditor: that and had frequently been visited by companies of whilst the former might be satisfied with the re
players when our "Poet was of an age, not only to moval of the delinquent to a situation where he enjoy their performances, but to form an acquain. could no longer infest his parks or his warrens, the tance with their members. Thomas Greene, who latter would pursue his debtor wherever bailiffs
was one of their distinguished actors, has been concould find and writs could attach him. On every sidered by some writers as a kinsman of our auaccount, therefore, I believe the tradition, recorded thor's; and though he possibly, may have been by Rowe, that our Poet retired from Stratford before confounded by them with ansther Thomas Greene, the exasperated power of Sir T. Lucy, and found a a barrister, who was unnaestionably connected refuge in London, not possibly beyond the reach of with the Shakspeares, he was certainly a fellow the arm, but beyond the hostile purposes of his pro- townsman of our fugitive bard's; whilst Heminge vincial antagonist.
and Burbage, two of the leaders of the company in The time of this eventful flight of the great bard question, belonged either to Stratford or to its imof England cannot now be accurately determined : mediate neighbourhood. With the door of the the, but we may somewhat confidently place it between atre thus open to him, and under the impulse of the years 1585 and 1588 ; for in the former of these his own natural bias, (for however in after life he we may conclude him to have been present with may have lamented his degradation as a profeshis family at the baptism of his twins, Hamnet and sional actor, it must be concluded that he now felt Judith; and than the latter of them we cannot well a strong attachment to the stage,) it is not wonderassign a later date for his arrival in London, since ful that young Slakspeare should solicit this asylum we knows that before 1592 he had not only written in his distress; or that he should be kindly retwo long poems, the Venus and Adonis, and the ceived by men who knew him, and some of whom Rape of Lucrece, but had acquired no small degree were connected, if not with his family, at least with of celebrity as an actor and as a dramatic writer.
his native town. The company, to which he united At this agitating crisis of his life, the situation of himself, was the Earl of Leicester's or the Queen's; young Shakspeare was certainly, in its obvious which had obtained the royal license in 1574. The aspect, severe and even terrific. Without friends place of its performances, when our Poet became to protect or assist him, he was driven, under the enrolled among its members, was the Globe on the frown of exasperated power, from his profession ;. Bankside; and its managers subsequently purfrom his native fields ; from the companions of his chased the theatre of Blackfriars, (the oldest theachildhood and his youth ; from his wife and his in- tre in London,) which they had previously rented
for some years; and at these two theatres, the Malone was much addicted to doubt. perhaps, that, on all the chief topics of the Grecian first of which was open in the centre for summer schools of philosophy, the great mind of Cicero faltered representations, and the last covered for those of in doubt, our commentator and critic wished, possibly, winter, were acted all the dramatic productions of co establish his claim to a superiority of intellect by the Shakspeare. That he was at first received into the same academic withholding of assent. He ought, how company in a very subordinate situation, may be erer, to have been aware that scepticism, which is regarded not merely as probable, but as certain : Sometimes the misfortune of wise men, is generally the that he ever carried a link to light the frequenters affectation of fools.
# The first stanza of this ballad, which is admitted to of the theatre, or ever held their horses, must be be genuine, may properly be preserved as a curiosity. rejected as an absurd tale, fabricated, no doubt, by But as it is to be found in every life of our author, with the lovers of the marvellous, who were solicitous the exception of Rowe's, I shall refer my readers, to to obtain a contrast in the humility of his first to whom it could not be gratifying, to some other page for the pride of his subsequent fortunes. The mean is than my own. From Robert Greene's posthumous work, written in
and servile occupation, thus assigned to num, was 1502, and Chettle's Kind Hart's Dream, published very incompatible with his circumstances, even in their von afterwards
present afflicted state: and his relations and conneo