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punishment in the dulness and the arrogance can see nothing but a whimsical sally, breaking of commentators and illustrators in the con- from the mind of one friend, and of a nature ta ceit and petulance of Theobald; the imbecility excite a good-humoured mile on the cheek of of Capell; the pert and tasteless dogmatism of the other. In Aubrey's hands, the transaction Steevens; the ponderous intleness of Malone assumes a somewhat darker complexion; and and of Drake. Some superior men, it is true, the worse verses, as written after the death of have enlisted themselves in the cause of Shak their subject, may justly be branded as malevospeare. Rowe, Pope, Warburton, Hanmer, and lent, and as discovering enmity in the heart of Johuson, have successively been his editors; an their writer. But I have dwelt too long upon a have professed to give his scenes in their origi-topic which, in truth, is undeserving of a syllanal purity to the world. But from some cause ble; and if I were to linger on it any longer, for or other, which it is not our present business to the purpose of exhibiting Malone's reasons for explore, each of these editors, in his turn, has his preference of Aubrey's copy of the epitaph to disappointed the just expectations of the public: Rowe's, and his discovery of the propriety and and, with an inversion of Nature's general rule, beauty of the single Ho in the last line of Authe little men have finally prevailed against the brey's, as Ho is the abbreviation of Hobg blin, great. The blockheads have hooted the wits one of the names of Robin Good-fellow, the fairy from the field; and attaching themselves to the servant of Oberon, my readers would have just mighty body of Shakspeare, like barnacles to cause to complain of me as sporting with their the hull of a proud man of war, they are pre-time and their patience.
pared to plough with him the vast ocean of time; On the 9th of July 1614, Stratford was ravaged and thus, by the only means in their power, to by a fire, which destroyed fifty-four dwellingsnatch themselves from that oblivion to which houses besides barns and out offices ft abstainNature had devoted them. It would be unjust, ed, however, from the property of Shakspeare: however, to defraud these gentlemen of their and he had only to commiserate the losses of his proper praise. They have read for men of neighbours. talents; and, by their gross labour in the mine. With his various powers of pleasing; his wit they have accumulated materials to be arranged and his humour; the gentleness of his manners; and polished by the hand of the finer artist. the flow of his spirits and his fancy; the variety Some apology may be necessary for this short of anecdote with which his mind must have digression from the more imunediate subject of been stored; his knowledge of the world, and my biography. But the three or four years, his intimacy with man, in every gradation of which were passed by Shakspeare in the peace society, from the prompter of a playhouse to the ful retirement of New Place are not distinguish- peer and the sovereign, Shakspeare must have ed by any traditionary anecdote deserving of been a delightful-nay, a fascinating compa our record; and the chasm may not improperlynion; and his acquaintance must necessarily be supplied with whatever stands in contiguity have been courted by all the prime inhabitants with it. I should pass in silence, as too trifling of Stratford and its vicinity. But over this, as for notice, the atory of our Poet's extempore and over the preceding periods of his life, brood Jocular epitaph on John Combe, a rich towns- silence and oblivion; and in our total ignorance man of Stratford, and a noted money-lender, if of his intimacies and friendships, we must apply my readers would not object to me that I had to our imagination to furnish out his convivial omitted an anecdote which had been honoured board, where intellect presided, and delight with. with a place in every preceding biography of my admiration gave the applause. author. As the circumstance is related by Rowe, "In a pleasant conversation among their common frier is, Mr. Combe toid Shakspeare, in a langhing manner, that he fancied he intended to write his epitaph if he happened to outlive him; and since he could not know what might be said of him when he was dead, he desired it might be done immediately: upon which Shakspeare gave him these four verses:
On the 2 of February 1615-16, he married his youngest daughter, Judith, then in the thirtyfirst year of her age, to Thomas Quiney, a vintner in Stratford: and on the 25th of the succeeding month he executed his will. He was then, as it would appear, in the full vigour and enjoyment of life; and we are not informed that his constitution had been previously weakened by the attack of any malady. But his days, Ten in the hundred lies here ingraved : or rather his hours, were now all numbered; for he breathed his last on the 23d of the ensuing "Tis a hundred to ten his soni is not saved. April, on that anniversary of his birth which If any man ask, who lies in this tomb: completed his fifty-cond year. It would be Ho! hot quoth the devil, 'tia my John a Combe.gratifying to our curiosity to know something of But the sharpness of the satire is said to have the disease, which thus prematurely terminated stung the man so severely that he never forgave the life of this illustrious man: but the secret is it." By Aubrey the story is differently told: withheld from ns; and it would be idle to endea and the lines in question, with some alterations, your to obtain it. We may be certain that Dr. which evidently made them worse, are said to Hall, who was a physician of considerable have been written after Combe's death. Stee-eminence, attended his father-in-law in his last vens and Malone discredit the whole tale The illness; and Dr. Hall kept a register of all the two first lines, as given to us by Rowe, are unremarkable case, with their symptoms and questionably not Shakspeare's: and that any treatment, which in the course of his practice lasting enmity subsis:si between these two bur had fallen under his observation. This curiona ghers of Stratford is disproved by the respective MS., wtich had ezca ed the enmity of time, wan wills of the parties, John Combe bequeathing five obtained by Maline but the recorded cases in pounds to our Poet, and our Poet leaving his it most unfortunately began with the year 1617; sword to John Combe's nephew and residuary and the preceding part of the register, which legatee, Jolin Combe himself being at that time most probably had been in exist ice, could no decensed. With the two commentators above-where be found. The mortal complaint, therementioned, I am inclined, therefore, on the fore, of William Shakspeare, is likely to remain whole, to reject the story as a fabrication for ever unknown; and, as darkness had closed though I cannot, with Steevens, convict the lines of malignity; or think, with him and with Malone, that the character of Shakspeare, on the supposition, of his being their author, could require any laboured vindication to clear it from stain. In the anecdote, as related by Rowe,
upon his path through life, so darkness now gathered round his bed of death, awfully to cover it from the eyes of succeeding generations
On the 25th of April 1616. 1wo days after his decease, he was buried in the chancel of the church of Stratford; and at some period within
the seven subsequent years (for in 1632 it is artist, acting under the recollections of the noticed in the verses of Leonard Digges) a mo- Shakspeare family, into some likeness of the nument was raised to his memory either by the great townsman of Stratford: and on this pro respect of his townsmen, or by the piety of his bability, we may contemplate it with ne incon relations. It represents the poet with a counte- siderable interest. I cannot, however, persnade nance of thought, resting on a cushion and in myself that the likeness could have been strong. the act of writing. It is placed under an arch, The forehead, indeed, is sufficiently spacious between two Corinthian columns of black mar and intellectual; but there is a disproportionate ble, the capitals and bases of which are galt. The length in the under part of the face; the mouth face is said, but, as far as I can find, not on any is weak; and the whole countenance is heavy aderpate authority, to have been modelled from and inert. Not having seen the monument itthe face of he deceased; and the whole was self, I can speak of it only from its numerous painted to bring the imitation nearer to nature copies by the graver; and by these it is possible The face and the hands wore the carnation of that I may be deceived. But if we cannot rely Life: the eyes were light hazel; the hair and on the Stratford bust for a resemblance of our beard were Auburn: a black gown, without immortal dramatist, where are we to look with sleeves, hung loosely over a scarlet doublet. any hope of finding a trace of his features ? It The cushion in its upper part was green, in its is highly probable that no portrait of him was lower crimson; and the tassels were of gold painted during his life; and it is certain that no colour. This certainly was not in the high clas-portrait of him, with an incontestible claim to sical state; though we may learn from Pausanias genuineness, is at present in existence. The that states in Greece were sometimes coloured fairest title to authenticity seems to be assigna after life; but as it was the work of contempo-ble to that which is called the Chandos portrait rary hands, and was intended, by those who and is now in the collection of the Duke of knew the Poet, to convey to posterity some re- Buckingham at Stowe.
semblance of his lineaments and dress, it was a It is well that we are better acquainted with monument of rare value; and the tastelessness the rectitude of his morals, than with the symof Malone, who caused all its tints to be oblite-metry of his features. To the integrity of his rated with a danbing of white lead, cannot be heart; the gentleness and benignity of his mansufficiently ridiculed and coodemned. Its maners, we have the positive testimony of Chettle terial is a species of free-stone; and as the chisel and Ben Jonson; the former of whom seems to of the sculptor was most probably under the gui-have been drawn by our Poet's good and amiq. dance of Doctor Hall, it bore some promise of ble qualities, from the faction of his dramatic ene likeness to the mighty dead. Iminediately below mies; and the latter, in his love and admiration the cushion is the following distich:
Judicio Pylium; genio Socratem; arte Maronem.
Within this monument-Shakspeare; with
Quick Nature died: whose name doth deck
Far more than cost: since all that he
Leaves living art but page to serve his wit: and the flat stone, covering the grave, holds out, in very irregular characters, a supplication to the reader, with the promise of a blessing and
the menace of a curse:
Good Friend! for Jesus' sake forbear
of the man, to have lost all his natural jealousy of the successful competitor for the poetic palm. I have already cited Chettle: let me now cite Jonson, from hose pages much more of a simi lar nature might be adduced. "I loved," be says in his Discoveries,' I loved the man, and do honour his memory, on this side idolatry, as much as any. He was, indeed, honest, of an open and free nature; had an excellent fancy, brave notions, and gentle expressions," &c. &e When Jonson apostrophizes his deceased friend he calls him, "My gentle Shakspeare," and the title of the sweet swan of Avon," so generally given to him, after the example of Jonson, by his contemporaries, seems to have been given with reference as much to the suavity of his teindication of his works to the Earls of Pembroke per as to the harmony of his verse. In their de and Montgomery, his fellows, Heminge and Condell, profess that their great object in their publication was "ouly to keep the memory of en worthy a friend and fellow ahve as was our Shakspeare:" and their preface to the public ap Blest be the man that spares these stones; pears evidently to have been dictated by their And cursed be he that moves my bones. personal and affectionate attachment to their departed friend. If we wish for any farther The Inst of these inscriptions may have been evidence in the support of the moral character written by Shakspeare himself under the appre-of Shakspeare, we may find it in the friendship hension of his bones being tumbled, with those of Southampton; we may extract it from the of many of his townsmen, into the charnel-house pages of his immortal works. Dr. Johnson, in of the parish. But his dust has continued un-his much over praised Preface, seems to have violated, and is likely to remain in its holy re-taken a view. very different from ours, of the pose till the last awful scene of our perishable morality of our author's scenes. He says, "His globe. It were to be wished that the two pre- (Shakspeare's) first defect is that to which may ceding inscriptions were more worthy, than be imputed most of the evil in books or in they are, of the tomb to which they are attached. men. He sacrifices virme to convenience; and It would be gratifying if we could give any faith is so much more careful to please than to into the tradition, which asserts that the bast of struct, that he seems to write without any moral this monument was sculptured from a cast purpose. From his writings, indeed, a system moulded on the face of the departed poet; for of moral duty may be selected." (indeed!) "but then we might assun ourselves that we possess his precepts and axioms drop casually from one authentic resemblance of this pre-eminently him" (Would the preface-writer have wished Intellectual mortal. But the cast, if taken, must the dramatist to give a connected treatise on have been taken immediately after his death; ethics like the offices of Cicero ) he makes and we know neither at whose expense the no just distribution of good or evil, nor is a monument was constructed; nor by whose hand it was executed; nor at what precise time it was erected. It may have been wrought be the
ways careful to show in the virtuous a disap probation of the wicked; he carries his per sons indifferently through right and wrong i
weakness did not diminish the respect, com manded by the probity of his heart; or the love, conciliated by the benignity of his man ners; or the admiration exacted by the triumph of his genins
and at the close dismisses them without further care, and leaves their examples to operate by chance. This fault the barbarity of the age cannot extennate! for it is always a writer's duty to make the world better, and justice is a virtue independent on time or place." this commonplace on Justice should be com daughter, Judith, not more than three hundred Why The Will of Shakspeare, giving to his youngest pelled into the station in which we here most pounds, and a piece of plate, which probably strangely find it, I cannot for my life conjecture. was valuable, as it is called by the testator, But absurd as it is made by its association in" My broad silver and gilt bowl," assigns althis place, it may not form an improper con- most the whole of his property to his eldest clusion to a paragraph which means little, and daughter, Susanna Hall, and her husband which, intending censure, confers dramatic whom he appoints to be his executors. The praise on a dramatic writer. however, that Dr. Johnson, though he says that appears to be discoverable in the higher mental It is evident, cause of this evident partiality in the father a system of moral duty may be selected from accomplishments of the eldest daughter; who Shakspeare's writings, wished to inculcate that is reported to have resembled him in her inhis scenes were not of a moral tendency. On this tellectual endowments, and to have been emi topic, the first and the greater Jonson seems nently distinguished by the piety and the Chris to have entertained very different sentiments- tian benevolence which actuated her conduct. "Look, how the father's face Having survived her estimable hushand fourteen years, she died on the 11th of July, 1649; and the inscription on her tomb, preserved by Dugdale, commemorates her intellectual superiority and
(says this great man)
Lives in his issue; even so the race
Of Shakspeare's mind, and manners, brightly influence of religion upon her heart. This in
In his well-turned and true filed lines."
seription, which we shall transcribe, bears wit
Witty above her sex; but that's not all:
To weep with her, that wept with all:
Them up with comforts cordial.
We think, indeed, that his scenes are rich in sterling morality, and that they must have been the effusions of a moral mind. The only crimination of his morals must be drawn from a few of his sonnets; and from a story first suggested by Anthony Wood, and afterwards told by Oldys on the authority of Betterton and Pope. From the Sonnets we can collect nothing more than that their writer was blindly attached to an unprincipled woman, who preferred a young and beautiful friend of his to himself. But the story told by Oldys presents something to us of a more tangible nature: and as it possesses some intrinsic merit as a stery, and rests, as to its band, Thomas Quiney, three sons; Shakspeare, Judith, his younger daughter, bore to her hus principal facts, on the anthority of Wood, who who died in his infancy, Richard and Thomas, was a native of Oxford, and a veracious man, who de eased, the first in his 21st year, the last we shall not hesitate, after the example of in his 19th unmarried, and before their mother; most of the recent biographers of our Poet, to who, having reached her 77th year, expired in relate it, and in the very word of Oldys tradition may he trusted, Shakspeare often month. She appears either not to have received If February 1661-2-being buried on the 9th of that Daited at the Crown Ion or Tavern in Oxford, any education, or not to have profited by the on his journey to and from London. The land- lessons of her teachers, for to a deed, still in exlady was a beautiful woman and of a sprightly istence, she affixes her mark. wit and her husband, Mr. John Davenant,, (afterwards mayor of that city.) a grave, melan- birth, marriage, and death of Susanna Hall. We have already mentioned the dates of the choly man, who, as well as his wife, used much She left only one daughter, Elizabeth, who was to delight in Shakspeare's pleasant company. baptized on the 21st of February 1607-8, eight Their son, young Will Davenant (afterwards years before her grandfather's decease, and was Sir William Davenant) was then a little school- married on the 22d of April 1626, to Mr. boy, in the town, of about seven or eight years Thomas Nash, a country gentleman, as it ap old and so fond also of Shakspeare that, when pears, of independent fortune. Two years after ever he heard of his arrival, he would fly from the death of Mr. Nash, who was buried on the school to see him. One day, an old townsman, 5th of April 1647, she married on the 5th of observing the boy running homewards almost June 1649, at Billesley in Warwickshire, Sir ont of breath, asked him whither he was posting John Barnard, Knight, of Abington, a small in that heat and hurry. He answered, to see his village in the vicinity of Northampton. She god-father, Shakspeare. There is a good boy; died, and was buried at Abington, on the 17th of said the other; but have a care that you don't February 1669-70; and, as she left no issue by take God's name in vain! This story Mr. Pope either of her husbands. her death terminated the told me at the Earl of Oxford's table, upon oc-lineal descendants of Shakspeare. His collatecasion of some discourse which arose about ral kindred have been indulged with a much Shakspeare's monument, then newly erected in longer period of duration; the descendants of Westminster Abbey."
On these two instances of his frailty, under succession of generations even to our days; his sister, Joan, having continued in a regular the influence of the tender passion, one of them whilst none of them, with a single exception, supported by his own evidence, and one resting have broken from that rank in the community in on authority which seems to be not justly ques which their ancestors, William Hart and Joan tionable, depend all the charges which can be Shakspeare united their unostentatious fortunes brought against the strict personal morality of in the year 1599. The single exception to which Shakspeare. In these days of peculiarly sensi-we allude, is that of Charles Hart, believed, for tive virtue, he would not possibly be admitted good reasons, to be the son of William the elinto the party of the saints: but, in the age in dest son of William and Joan Hart, and conwhich he lived, these errors of his human sequently the grand-nephew of our poet. At See Son. 141, 144, 147, 151, 152 the early age of venteen Charles Hart, as
Heutenant in Prince Rupert's regiment, fought younger son of an old family resident near at the cattle of Edgehill; and, subsequently Stratford, who had filled in succession the of betaking himself to the stage, he becaine the fices of Sheriff and of Lord Mayor of London. niest ichowned tragic actor of his time. "What In 1563 it was sold by one of the Clopton faMr Hus delivers," says Rymer, (I adopt the mily to William Bort; and by him it was again citation from the page of Malone,) every one sold in 1570 to William Underhill, (the purcha takes upon content; their eyes are prepossessed ser and the seller being both of the rank of es Biel claimed by his action before aught of the quires.) om whom it was bought by our Poet,in poet's con approach their ears; and to the most 1597. By him it was bequeathed to his daughter, wretched of characters he gives a lustre and Susanna Hall; from whom it descended to her brilliancy, which dazzles the sight that the de-only child, Lady Barnard. In the June of 1643, formities in the poetry cannot be perceived." this Lady, with her first husband, Mr. Nash, "Were I a poet," (says another contemporary entertained, for nearly three weeks, at New Writer,) nya Fletcher or a Shakspeare, Place, Henrietta Maria, the queen of Charles would my own title to immortality so that, when escorted by Prince Rupert and a large one actor might never die. This I may mo body of troops, she was on her progress to meet destly say of him, nor is it my particular opi- her royal consort, and to proceed with him to airn, but the sense of all mankind,) that the best Oxford. On the death of Lady Barnard withtragedies on the English stage have received out children, New Place was sold in 1675, to Sir their lustre from Mr. Hart's performance: that Edward Walker, K., Garter King at Arms; he has left such an impression behind him, that by whom it was left to his only child, Barbara, no less than the interval of an age can make married to Sir John Clopton, Kt., of Clopton them appear again with half their majesty from in the parish of Stratford. On his demise, it be any second hand." This was a brilliant erup-came the property of a younger son of his, Sir tion from the family of Shakspeare: but as it High Clopton, Kt., (this family of the Cloptons was the first, so it appears to have beer, the seems to have been peculiarly prolific in the last; and the Harts have ever since, as far at breed of knights), by whom it was repaired and least as it is known to us, “pursued the noise-decorated at a very large expense. Malone af less teer of their way," within the precincts of firms that it was pulled down by him, and its their naive town on the banks of the soft-flow-place supplied by a more sumptuous edifice. If ing Avon. this statement were correct, the crime of its subWhatever is in any degree associated with the sequent destroyer would be greatly extenuated; persona, history of Shakspeare is weighty with and the hand which had wielded the axe against genera, interest. The circumstance of his birth the hallowed arilberry tree, would be absolved can impart consequence even to a provincial from the second act, imputed to it, of sacriletown; and we are not unconcerned in the past gious violence. But Malone's account is, unor the present fortunes of the place, over which questionably, erroneous. In the May of 1742, hovers the glory of his naine. But the house in Sir Hugh entertained Garrick, Macklin, and which he passed the last three or four years of Delany, under the shade of the Shakspearian his life, and in which he terminated his mortal mulberry. On the demise of Sir Hugh in the Labours, is still more engaging to our imagina- December of 1751, New Place was sold by his tions, as it is more closely and personally con- son-in-law and executor, Henry Talbot, the nected with him. Its history, therefore, must Lord Chancellor Talbot's brother, to the Rev. not be omitted by us; and if, in some respects, Francis Gastrell, Vicar of Frodsham in Chewe should Ter in it from the narrative of Mashire; by whom, on some quarrel with the ma lone, we shall not be without reasons sufficient gistrates on the subject of the parochial asseasto justify the deviations in which we indulge.ments, it was razed to the ground, and its site New Place, then, which was not thus first aabandoned to vacancy. On this completion of med by Shakspeare, was built in the reign of his outrages against the memory of Shakspeare, Henry VII, by Sir Hugh Clopton, Kt, the
which his unlucky possession of wealth enabled hia to commit, Francis Gastrell departed from • By intelligence, on the accuracy of which Stratford, hooted on of the town, and pursued I can rely, and which has only just reached me, by the execrations of its inhabitants. The fate from the birthplace of Shakspeare, I learn that of New Place has been rather remarkable. Afthe family of the Harts, after a course of lineal ter the demolition of the house by Gastrell, the descents during the revolution of two hundred ground, which it had occupied, was thrown and twenty-six years, is now on the verge of ex-into the contiguous garden, and was sold by the tinetion; au aged woman, who retains in single widow of the clerical barbarian. Having re blessedness her maiden name of Hart, being at mained during a certai.. period, as a portion of this time (Nov. 1825) its sole surviving reprea garden, a house was again erected on it; and For some years she occupied the in consequence also of some dispute about the house of her ancestors, in which Shakspeare is parish assessments, that house, like its predereporte 1 to have first seen the light; and here cessor, was pulled down; and its site was finalshe obtained a comfortable subaistence by show.ly abandoned to Nature, for the production of Ing the antiquities of the venerated mansion to her fruits and flowers: and thither may we ima the numerous strangers who were attracted to gine the little Elves and Fairies frequently to re It Being dispossessed of this residence by the sort, to trace the footsteps of their beloved poet, rapaciousness of its proprietor, she settled her now obliterated from the vision of man; to self in a dwelling nearly opposite to it. Here throw a finer perfume on the violet; to unfold the still lives; and continues to exhibit some re- the first rose of the year, and to tinge its cheek jiques, not reputed to be genuine, of the mighty with a richer blush; and, in their dances bebard, with whom her maternal ancestor was neath the full-orbed moon, to chant their harnourished in the same womb. She regards her- monies, too subtle for the gross ear of mortaself also as a dramatic poet; and, in support of lity, to the fondly cherished memory of their her pretensions, she produces the rude sketch of darling, The Sweet Swan of Avon. a play, uninformed, as it is said, with When I have cited, at the close of what I am the vitality of genins. For this information, I am now writing, the description by Jaques, in "As indebted to Mr. Charles Fellows, of Notting-you Like it," of the seven ages of man, as an ham; who, with the characteristic kindness of evidence of Shakspeare's power to touch the his most estimable family, sought for the intel-rost familiar topics into poetry, as the Phry ligence which was required by me, and obtain- gian monarch could touch the basest substances linto gold, I shall conclude this Life of Shak
speare, by asking if he be not a mighty genius, On the scath'd heath the fatal Sisters scowls
Yes, Master of the human heart! we own
Where, richly deck'd with laurels never sere,
And rosy Laughter holding both his sides.
And, as the moon her perfect orb displays,
These are thy wonders, Nature's darling birth
By hallow'd Ganges and Missouri's flood:
In ages far remote, when Albion's state
TO THE MEMORY
OF MY BELOVED
MR. WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE,
AND WHAT HE HATH LEFT US.
To draw no envy, Shakspeare, on thy name,
But thou art proof against them, and indeed
From thence to honour thee, I will not seek
Of all, that insolent Greece, or haughty Rome
To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe.
Lives in his issue: even so the race
In his well turned, and true filed lines:
mourn'd like night,
And despairs day, but for thy volumes' light.