« VorigeDoorgaan »
To see thee in our waters yet appear
to lend, on proper security, a sum of money for the summer, the Blackfriars the winter house of the use of the town of Stratford. His continued the company with which he was connected. advance in worldly consideration is indicated [For a more enlarged view of the subject, see by his farther purchases. In 1602, according the Account of the Theatres in Shakspeare's Time, to Wbeeler, he gave £320 for one bundred and p. xliii.) seventy acres of land, which he added to his estate Inspired with feelings of gratitude for the disin New Place. In 1605, he bought for £440 a tinction accorded to bis associates, or in complimoiety of the great and small tithes of Stratford; ance with the servile spirit of the times, Shakspeare and in 1613, a tenement in Blackfriars for assiduously courted a monarch, whose ear was £140. It is remarkable in this latter purchase, ever open to the blandishments of Hattery; In opthat only £80 of the money was paid down, the re- position to historical evidence, Banquo, the ancessidoe being left as a mortgage on the premises. tor of James, is represented in the tragedy of MacMalone is of opinion that his annual income could beth, as noble in mind, and free from the guilt of not have been less than £200, which, at the age Duncan's murder. There is another passage in wben be lived, was equal to $800 at present. the same play respecting the efficacy of the royal
Several of the nobility, particularly the earls of touch in curing the evil, bighly complimentary, Pembroke and Montgomery, vied with Southampton and this delicate praise richly merited the honour in conferring benefits on Shakspeare, and he was dis- it is said to have earned,-an amicable letter," tingnished in a most flatteriog manner, by the favour | penned by king James's own hand. Davenant, if of two suceessive sovereigns. We are told that we may credit Oldys, possessed this curious episthe Merry Wives of Windsor (the first draaght of tle, and related the circumstance to Sheflield, which was finished in a fortnight,) was written ex dake of Buckingham. The favour shewn by Elipressly at the command of the Virgin Queen, who zabeth and her successor to Shakspeare was a being highly delighted with Falstaff's humour in fact familiar in his own day. Ben Jonson says, Henry IV., wished him to be exhibited under the
“ Sweet swan of Avon, what a sight it were infgence of love. The character of Falstaff, one of the bappiest and most original of all the author's
And mark those flights upon the banks of Thames
That did so please Eliza and our James." efforts, was, according to Bowman the player, who cited sir William Bishop as his authority, drawn Shakspeare seems to have cherished a sincere from a towusman of Stratford, who either faithlessly regard for James. There are passages in the last broke a contract, or spitefully refased to part with written of his plays, which refer to that monarch some land, for a valuable consideration, adjoining to in bigbly laudatory terms; and in a curious MS. Shakspeare's, in or near that town.
volume of poems, written apparently about the The author's reputation was no doubt increased by period of the Revolution, the following lines occur, the approbation of his royal mistress, which in all which are confidently ascribed to our poet:likelihood was the only solid advantage he obtained
“Shakspeare upon the King. from her notice. Rowe celebrates the many gra
" Crownes have their compasse, length of layes their date; cious marks of her favour" which Shakspeare re Triumphes their tombes, felicity her fate: ceived; bot no traces of any pecuniary reward from
of more than earth can earth make none partaker,
But knowledge makes the king most like his Maker." her manificence is to be found, and the almost invariable parsimony of Elizabeth towards literary men, Though Elizabeth and James were particularly may fairly induce as to question whether her gene- fond of dramatic representations, it does not aprosity was exbibited in anything more substantial pear that they ever visited the public theatres ; tban praise, notwithstanding all the elegant flattery they gratified iheir taste by commanding the comewbich the poet offered on the shrine of her vanity. dians to perform plays at court. These entertainElizabeth was certainly a very bighly-gifted wents were usually given at night, which arrangewoman, but she was too selfish to pay for ap- ment suited the actors, as the theatres were geneplanse, which she was sure of obtaining at an rally open in the morning. The ordinary fee for easier rate.
such a performance in London was £6:138:4d. and In James I. the stage found a warm and generous an additional $3:6s : 8d. was sometimes bestowed patron. In 1599, he gave protection to a company by the bounty of royalty. of English comedians in his Scottish capital ; and Shakspeare soon became important in the mabe bad do sooner ascended the British tbrone, than nagement of the theatre, and participated in all be effected an absolute change in the theatrical the emoluments of the company. It is imposworld. In the first year of his reign, an act of par-sible to estimate his income from this source : liament passed, which took from the nobility the we are ignorant into how many shares this theprivilege of licensing comedians, and all the skele- atrical property was divided ; nor can we tell ton companies then existing, were immediately what proportion of them was enjoyed by our poet. anited into three regular establishments patronised If, however, he was equal with Heminges, who is by the royal family. Henry, prince of Wales, be joined with him in the license, we are authorized came the patron of lord Nottingham's company, by his partner to assert thai it produced “a good which performed at the Cartain ; the earl of Wor-yearly income." This worldly' elevation induced cester's servants, who commonly acted at the Red bim to quit the drudgery of an actor, which employBall, were turned over to the queen, and ulti inent le speaks of in bis Sonnets with disgust, and mately designated Children of the Revels; while the henceforth he seems to have yielded all the powers king declared the lord chamberlain's company on of bis comprehensive mind to the improvement of der bis own especial care.
The license which dramatic literature. The affectionate wish which James granted io Laurence Fletcher, William Shakspeare formed in early life, to return, after Sbakspeare, Richard Burbage, and others, dated his brilliant career, to his native Stratford, and May 19, 1603, constituted them his servants, gave die at home, induced him to purchase New Place, tbem legal possession of their usual house, the in 1597. In the pleasure ground of that unassumGlobe, and allowed them to exbibit every kind of ing mansion, he planted with his own band a muldramatic representation, in all suitable places in berry tree, which flourished for many years, and bis dominions. From this document we learn that was regarded with reverence. To this favourite the Globe was the theatre geverally occupied by spot, in 1613 or 1614, he retired from the applauses the lord chamberlain's servants; but they bad some of his contemporaries and the bustle of the world, interest in the house at Blackfriars, which, in the to the genuine repose and unsophisticated pleasures end, they purchased. At these theatres all Shak of a country life. Aubrey informs as, that it was speare's plays were originally acted; the Globe was our bard's custom to visit Stratford yearly ; but
Never man beloved worse :
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
** Ten in the hundred lies here engrav'd; improbable that he remained there till his final
Tis a hundred to ten his soul is not sav'd: retirement from the metropolis.
If any man ask, Who lies in this tomb?
Ob! oh! quoth the devil, tis my Jobn-a-Combe." We shall now throw together such facts as we have gleaned in a careful course of reading, with
Peck, in bis Memoirs of Milton, 4to. 1740, ha: reference to the subject, as may serve to illustrate introduced another epitaph, which he attributes the manners, habits, and individual character of though it does not appear on what authority, 11 Shakspeare.
Shakspeare. It is on a Tom-a-Combe, otherwisi The following abstract of his life is from Aubrey :
Thin-beard, brother to the above-named John "Mr. William Shakspeare was born at Stratford-upon
who is noticed by Rowe: Avon, in the county of Warwick; his father was
** Thin in beard, and thick in purse, a butcher, and I have been told heretofore by some
He went to the grave with many a curse ; of his neighbours, that when he was a boy he ex
The devil and he had both one nurse." ercised his father's trade; but when he killed a Much has been said of the rivalship and dissen calfe, he would doe it in a high style and make a tion between Ben Jonson and Shakspeare: we shal speech. There was, at that time, another butcher's give a few particulars, from which we think it wil son in that towne, that was helde pot at all inferior appear that they both were entirely free from per to him for a naturall witt, his acquaintance and sonal ill-will. Pope says, that Jonson “ lovet coetanean, but died young. This Wm. being Shakspeare as well as honoured his memory, cele inclined naturally to poetry and acting, came to brates the bonesty, openness and frankness of li London, I guesse about eighteen, and was an actor temper, and only distinguishes, as he reasonabl: at one of the playhouses, and did act exceedingly ought, between the real merit of the author, an well. Now B. Jonson never was a good actor, but the silly and derogatory applauses of the players. an excellent instructor. He began early to make Gilchrist, a very clever critic, published a pamphle essayos at dramatic poetry, which at that time was to prove that Jonson was never a harsh or enviou very lowe, and his playes tooke well. He was rival of Shakspeare, and that the popular opinio a handsome well shap't man, and of a verie readie on that subject is altogether erroneous. Row and pleasant smooth witt: the humour of the consta gives us the subjoined anecdote, which has bee ble in A Midsuminer Night's Dreame, he happened thought worthy of credit : “ Mr. Jonson, who wa to take at Grendon, in Bucks, wbich is the roade at that time altogether unknown to the world, bar from London to Stratforde, and there was living that offered one of his plays to the players, in order to constable about 1642, when I first came to Oxon. bave it acted; and the persons into whose hand Mr. Jos. Howe is of that parisbe, and knew him. it was put, after baving turned it carelessly and so Ben Jonson and he did gather humours of men perciliously over, were just upon returning it to hir dayly, wherever they came. One time, as he was with an ill-natured answer, that it would be of n at a tavern at Stratford-upon-Avon, one Combes, service to their company, when Shakspeare luckil an old rich usurer was to be buryed, be makes cast his eye upon it, and found something so we there this extemporary epitaph :
in it as to engage him first to read it throngh, an • Ten in the hundred the devill allowes,
afterwards to recommend Mr. Jonson and his writ
that Jonson seems to bave held a higher place i
public estimation than our poet, for more than “He was wont to goe to his native countrie once
century after the death of the latter. Within ths a yeare. I think I lave been told, that be left 2 period, Ben's works went through numerous edi or 300 lib. per annum, or thereabout, to a sister. tions, and were read with eagerness, while Shak I have heard sir Wm. Davenant and Mr. Thomas speare's remained in comparative neglect till th Shadwell (who is counted the best comedian we time of Rowe : of this fact, abundant evidenc have now), say that he had a most prodigious witt; might be given ; not only was Jonson preferred and did admire his naturall parts beyond all other but even Beaumont and Fletcher, with many dra dramaticall writers. He was wont to say, that he matic writers infinitely below them in merit, wer never blotted out a line in bis life; sayd Ben Jon- exalted above him. The following passages ar son, I wish he had blotted out a thousand. His curious, and will satisfactorily shew the little est comedies will remain witt as long as the English mation our bard's works were held in by the mi tongue is understood, for that he bandles mores lion of that day. hominum : now our present writers reflect so
.... You see much upon particular persons and coxcombities,
What audience we have, what company that twenty years hence they will not be under:
To Shakspeare comes ; whose mirth did once beguile
Dull hours, and buskind, made even sorrow smile: stood.”
So lovely were the wounds, that men would say, There is no such character in the Midsummer
They could endure the bleeding a whole day.
He has but few friends lately." --- Prologue to the Sisters Night's Dream as a constable. Aubrey inost probably referred to the sagacious Dogberry in
" Shakspeare to thee was dull, whose best jest lies
th'lady's questions, and the fool's replies; Much Ado about Nothing. This account, though Whose wit our nicer times would obsceneness call, seemingly sanctioned by good authority, and writ
And which made bawdry pass for comical.
Nature was all his art; thy vein was free ten most probably within thirty years of Shak
As his, but without his scurrility." speare's death, is treated by his biographers as
Verses on Fletcher, by William Cartwright, 164 incredible ; yet it is well worth preservation, for
“In our old plays, the humour, love, and passion,
Like doublet, hose, and cloak, are out of fashion; we cannot find any reasonable grounds on which That which the world call'd wit in Shakspeare's age, Aubrey's testimony should be rejected. The story Is laugh'd at as improper for our stage."
Prologue to Shirley's Love Tricks, 166 of the epitaph is variously told. In the following version the wit is certainly heightened : “ Mr.
“ At every shop, while Shakspeare's lofty style
Neglected lies, to mice and worms a spoil; John Combe had amassed considerable wealth by Gilt on the back, just smoking from the press, the practice of usury; he was Shakspeare's inti
The apprentia shews you D'Urfey's Hudibras;
Crown's Mask, bound up with Settle's choicest labours, male friend. In the gaiety of conversation he told
And promises some new essay of Babors."
Satire, published in 165 the poet that he fancied he intended to furnish his epitaph ; and since whatever might be said In the Spectator, Addison has several papers, i of him after lie was dead must be unknown to which a very high character is given 'ot' Shal him, he requested it might be written forthwith. I speare's genius; but it is evident from the quoti
" Little or much of what we see, we do,
It was for gentle Shakspeare cut;
0, could he but have drawne his wit
All that was ever writ in brass :
tious 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 me paper, dium of Davenant's new modelled editions of his
“If but stage actors all the world displays,
Where shall we find spectators of their plays ?” great god-father's dramas. This fact is partly accounted for on the principle that classical literature Shakspeare smiled, and taking the pen, set down and the learning of the schools were esteemed in these lines under Ben's couplet : those days as the best criterions of talent. Jonson's constant objection to Shakspeare, was the want of
We're all both actors and spectators too." that species of knowledge; and upon his proficiency. All this may be called trifling; but even trifles bein it, be arrogated the superiority to himself. All classical scholars, however, did not sanction Jon- and a Shakspeare.
come interesting, when connected with a Jonson son's claims; sincé, among the warmest admirers of
Mr. Gifford has triumphantly proved, that the Shakspeare, was one of the most learned men of his
once generally received opinion of Jonson's malig. age, the great and excellent Hales. “On one oc
nant feelings towards bis friend and benefactor, is casion, the latter, after listening in silence to a warın void of the slightest foundation in fact; on the condebate between sir Jobo Suckling and Jonson, is trary, we are justified in believing that the author reported to have interposed, by observing that of Sejanus was, on all occasions, ready to admit the if Shakspeare bad not read the ancients, he had wonderful merit of his less learned, but more highlylikewise not stolen anything from them, and that gifted, contemporary. His lines under Sbakspeare's if he (Jonson) would produce any one topic finely effigy breathe the warmest spirit of reverence and treated by any of them, he would undertake to
love: shew something upon the same subject, at least as
“The figure that thou here seest put, well written by Shakspeare.'. A trial, it is added,
Wherein the graver had a strifo being in consequence agreed to, judges were ap
With nature to outdo the life. pointed to decide the dispute, who unanimously
As well in brass, as he hath hit voted in favour of the English poet, after a candid
His face, the print would then surpass examination and comparison of the passages produced by the contending parties." All this proves
But since he cannot, reader, looke
Not on his picture but his booke." notbing more than a collision of intellect between these great men, which might exist without a particle
The anecdotes subjoined rest, perhaps, on slight of enmity or malicioas feeling, and there are several authority; but every particular relative to our on: circomstances to favour the opinion that Shak- rivalled dramatist has such powerful attraction, speare and Jopson lived together on the most
that we should not feel justified in withholding
them. frieodly 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 seribed his effigy with panegyrical verses, and for performing: one evening, Shakspeare enacted the dished a preface for the first edition of his plays : part of a monarch (probably, in Henry IV.) The por 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, cartsied
crossed the stage while Shakspeare was acting, in bis 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 oonbis memory, on this side idolatry, as much as
descension. When behind the scenes, she caught
his eye and moved again, bat still he would not Fuller's comparative view of these illustrious throw of his character to pay her any attention. writers is highly interesting: “Shakspeare was an
This made ber majesty think of some means to eminent instance of the truth of that role: 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. AccordCornish diamonds are not
polished by any lapidary, before him, dropped her glove, and re-crossed the bot are pointed and smoothed even as they are
stage, which Shakspeare noticing, took it up with taken out of the earth, so nature itself was all the these words, so immediately after finishing his art which was used upon bim. Many were the wit speech, that they seemed to belong to it: combats betwixt him and Ben Jonson, which "And though now bent on this high embassy, two I bebeld, like a Spanish great galleon, and an
Yet stoop we to take up our cousin's glove." English man of war! Master Jonson, like the He then withdrew from the stage, and presented the former, was built far higher in learning, solid but glove to the queen, who was much pleased with his slow in bis 'performances. Shakspeare, with the behaviour, and complimented him on its propriety. English man of war, lesser in bulk, but lighter in One evening, Burbage performed Richard III. sailing, could iurn with all tides, and take advan- and while behind the scenes, Shakspeare overheard tage of all winds, by the quickness of his wit and him making an assignation with a lady of considerioveotion."
able beauty. Burbage was to knock at her chamThe following anecdote, preserved by Malone, ber-door; she was to say, “Who comes there ?” will serve to shew the habits of close intimacy in and on receiving for answer, "'Tis I, Richard the which these great and amiable men lived. In the Third," the favoured tragedian was to be admitted. serious business of life, rivals, and even enemies, Sbakspeare instantly determined to keep the apare often obliged to associate; but when we find pointment himself. Tapping at the lady's door, he nen seeking each other in the season of relax- made the expected response to her interrogatory, ation, and mingling thoughts in their sportive and gained admittance. The poet's eloquence soon hamours, we may safely pronounce them to be converted the fair one's anger into satisfaction; but friends. An amicable dispute arose concerning the real Simon Pure quickly arrived; be rapped the motto of the Globe theatre, “ Totus mundus loudly, and to the expected query replied, “ 'Tis I, agit kistrionem ;” (all the world acts a play;) Richard the Third." "Then,” quoth Shakspeare, some condemned it as upmeaning, others declared go thy ways, Borby, for thou knowest that Wilit to be a fine piece of sententious wisdom;
Jonson, I liam the Conqueror reigned before Richard the Third.”
The Falcon Tavero, Bankside, the Resort of Shakspeare and bis Dramatic Companions.
Shakspeare's associates, during his residence in
With Dadging Exhall,
Papist Wixford, London, were the great spirits who were engaged,
Beggarly Broom, and Drunken Bidford." like him, in the pursuit of literary distinction : with These epithets we are told, are still given to thes Fletcher he was particularly intimate, and it is adjoining villages; and the reader will, accordin believed he assisted him largely in the composition to his degree of faith, credit or reject a tale, t! of The Two Noble Kinsmen. Rowley, Forde, Mas- particulars of which correspond so ill with th singer, and Decker were also indebted to bis liberal | bard's character. muse: indeed, there is scarcely any dramatist of
There is a tradition in Stratford, of our poet his age to whom the light of liis genius was not likening the carbuncled face of a drunken blac extended.
smith to a maple. Tbe smith addressed him as A tradition exists of a literary club, of which leant over a mercer's door, thus: Shakspeare was a member, and which included the “ Now, Mr. Shakspeare, tell me if you can, following illustrious names: Jonson, Fletcher, Sel
The difference between a youth and a young man." den, Cotion, Carew, Martin, Beaumont, and Donne. To which Shakspeare instantly answered : The meetings of such a phalanx of talent must necessarily have been attended with “ the feast of
“Thou son of fire, with thy face like a maple,
The same difference as between a scalded and a coddled app reason and the flow of soul.”
of Shakspeare's convivial disposition, the fol- This story was told, upwards of fifty years since. lowing legendary story, told by John Jordan, a
a gentleman at Stratford, by a person who was th native of Stratford, might be given as evidence; have been a contemporary of Shakspeare. Perha
more than eighty years old, whose father mig though, certainly, it does not redoand much to his however, it was only a version of the story told credit. 'Shakspeare, says the tradition, loved hearty Tarleton, the clown. (See p. l.) 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 eni
We come now to speak of some traditional g ford, about seven miles below Stratford, who distinguished theinselves by the designation of topers them altogether. In his journeyings betwe
credence, but it would not be satisfactory to on and sippers, the former of whom could drink
the Stratford and London, Shakspeare ofteu pat ap. most without being intoxicated; the latter, however, were superior to most other drinkers in the the Crown Inn, Oxford; the hostess was beanti country. These lovers of John Barleycorn chal- and witty; the host, a discreet citizen, of a sat lenged all England to drink with them, to try the nine complexion, but a lover of plays and pl strength of their heads; the Stratford bard and his wrights, and more particularly, of his visitor. 1 companions accepted it, and went to Bidford, on
bard's frequent calls, and the loveliness of a Whit-Monday, to encounter the topers; but | Young William Davenant, afterwards sir Willia
landlady, gave occasion to the following stor
expedition, so that Shakspeare and his Stratford friends old: this lad was so much attached to Shakspea
was then a slip of a school-boy, of about eight ye were forced to sit down with the sippers, upon trial, that whenever he heard of his arrival he would they found themselves inferior to their opponents the school to see him. One day, an old townsm the poet and his companions became so intoxicated observing the boy hastening homewards w that they were forced to declide further trial. Leaving Bidford, they proceeded homeward, but breathless impatience, demanded of him whither
was running in that eager manner. “To see himself down on the tort, under the boughs of god-father Shakspeare,” was the reply, “The a crab-tree, where he reposed for the night. a good boy," said the citizen ; " but have a c Awaking with the lark, he was invited to return to you don't take God's name in vain.” Bidford and renew the contest, but he refused, that he had formed an unhappy attachment,
From the Sonnets of our author we may conclu telling them, that he had drunk with Piping Pebworth, Dancing Marston,
while he celebrates the charms of his fair ensla Haunted Hillborough, and Hungry Graston, in the most hyperbolical terms, be is at po less p
to proclaim the utter worthlessness of her charac ease, retirement, and the conversation of his friends. ter. He
His pleasurable wit and good-nature engaged him *Swore her fair, and thought her bright, While she was black as hell, and dark as night."
in the acquaintance, and entitled him to the friendWith the perverseness so common in affairs of ship, of the gentlemen of the neighbourhood.” And gailantry, the lady neglected the poet, and placed in the words of Dr. Drake," He was bigh in repuher love on a youth of remarkable
beauty, the dear tation as a poet, favoured by the great and accomfriend and associate of the dramatist bimself. The Nothing can be more delightful than to contemplate
plished, and beloved by all who knew him." young man's participation in this violation of aflec- this wonderful man, in the vigour of bis age, and tion and friendship is uncertain, as appears from in the full possession of his amazing faculties, reSondet, which we qaote, as it epitomises the whole tiring from the scene of his well-earned triumphs, of the tale :
to find, in the comparative seclusion of his native
town, that repose and quietude both of mind and «T*o leres 1 bare of comfort and despair,
body, wbich is not to be looked for in the bustle Which like two spirits do suggest me still ; The better angel is a man right fair,
of the world. And if he, whose glory was to fill The worser spirit a woman colour'd'ill.
the aniverse, and whose pursuits (if anything To win me soon to bell, my female evil Tema preth my better angel from my side,
connected with time can be,) were worthy of an And would corrupt my saint to be a devil,
immortal soul, could pant for retirement in the Wooing his purity with her foul pride: And whether that my angel be turn'd fiend,
meridian of bis days, what excuse have they, who, Suspect I may, yet Bot directly tell ;
in senectude and feebleness, continue to toil among And being both fron me, both to each friend, I guess one angel in another's bell:
the mole-hills of earth for a little perishable gold, Yet this shall I ne'er know, but live in doubt,
for which they have no use when they have obtained Till my bad angel fire my good one out."
it? A breach, however, did ensue between the bard Shakspeare retired from the metropolis at a and his good spirit; yet the pangs of separation period little past the prime of life. We meet with scon proved intolerable; and, in defiance of his no hint of any failure in his constitution; and the jealousies and doubts, Shakspeare took back his execution of his will, in “perfect health and mefriend to his bosom, with an affection which seemed mory,” on the 25th of March, 1616, warrants no more powerful for this short interruption.
immediate expectation of bis decease. The curIt has often been mentioned as singular, that tain was now to fall, however, on his earthly stage Shakspeare does not appear to have written any of existence. He died on the 23d of April, the commendatory verses on his literary companions, anniversary of his birth, having exactly completed to which bis great good-nature, it might have been his fifty-second year. On the 25th, two days after sapposed, would have inclined bim; it was not his death, his body was laid in its original dust, known that he had composed even a solitary stanza being buried under the north side of the chancel of to applaud the living or eulogize the dead. The the great church at Stratford; a flat stone, protectandexed epitaphs, if they be authentic, and they ing all ihat was perishable of the remains of Shakhave mach of Shakspeare's manner about them, will peare, bears this inscription : prore, that in two instances at least, he laid aside
“ Good frend, for Jesus' sake forbcare, that dillidence of his own merits, which made him
To digg the dust enclosed here! undervalue the plaudits of a muse, the slightest
Bless'd be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones." breath of whose praise would have conferred immortality. In a MS. volume of poems, by Herrick
The common opinion is, that these lines were and others, in the bandwriting of Charles I.
written by the poet himself; but this notion bas,
preserved in the Bodleian library, is the following perhaps, originated solely from the use of the word epitaph, ascribed to our poet :
my” in the closing line. “ The imprecation,” says
Malone, was probably suggested by an apprehen“ AN EPITAPI.
sion “ that our author's remains might share the "When God was pleas'd, the world unwilling yet, same fate with those of the rest of his countrymen, Elias James to eature payd his debt, And bere reposeth; as be lı'd, he dydes
and be added to the immense pile of human bones The saying in him strongly veretied,
deposited in Stratford charnel-house." Sach life, such death: then, the known truth to tell, He livda godly hle, and dyde as well.
We shall now give a brief abstract of Shakspeare's
"WM. SHAKSPEARE.” will, which is yet extant in the Prerogative Office. Sir William Dagdale, in his Visitation Book,
It bears date, March 25, 1616, and commences with describes a monument in Tongue church, Salop,
the following paragraphs : erected in memory of sir Thomas Stanley, who died
“In the name of God, amen. I, William Shakabout the year 1600. After a long prose inscription, Warwick, gent. in perfect health and memory,
speare, at Stratford-upon-Avon, in the county of the frail marble was charged with the following (God be praised !) do make and ordain this my last poetical encomiums:
will and testament in manner and form following; “These following Verses were made by
that is to say: WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE, the late famous Tragedian :
“First, I commend my soul into the hands of "Writtes upon the east end of this tombe.
God my Creator, hoping, and assuredly believing, * Aske who lyes here, but do not weepe; He is not dead, he doth but sleepe.
through the only merits of Jesus Christ, my Saviour, This story register is for his bones,
to be made partaker of life everlasting; and my His fame is more perpetual than these stones: And his own gooduess, with himself being gone,
body to the earth, whereof it is made.' Shall live, wben earthly monument is none."
Ii then proceeds to make the bequests epu" Written upon the west end thereof.
merated 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 bis When all to time's consumption shall be given, decease, and the remaining £50 upon ber giving Stanley, for whom this stands, shall stand in heaven.”
up to her elder sister, Susanna Hall, all her right in Shakspeare seems to have had no personal con a copyhold tenement and appurtenances, parcel of nexion with the theatre for about three years the manor of Rowington. "To the said Judith he previously to bis death, and this scanty remnant of also bequeathed £150 more, if she or any of her his days was passed in peace and comfort. Rowe issue were living three years from the date of his says : " The latter part of his life was spent, as all will; but, in the contrary event, then he directed med of good sense would wish theirs' may be, in that £100 of the sum should be paid to his niece,