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singular in the magnificence of this patron of Shakspeare's, that if I had not been assured that the story was handed down by Sir William D'Avenant, who was probably very well acquainted with his affairs, I should not have ventured to have inserted, that my lord Southampton at one time gave him a thousand pounds, to enable him to go through with a purchase which he heard he had a mind to. A bounty very great, and very rare at any time, and almost equal to that profuse generosity the present age has shown to French dancers and Italian singers."

What particular habitude or friendships he contracted with private men, I have not been able to learn, more than that every one, who had a true taste of merit, and could distinguish men, had generally a just value and esteem for him. His exceeding candour and good nature must certainly have inclined all the gentler part of the world to love him, as the power of his wit obliged the men of the most delicate knowledge and polite learning to admire him.

His acquaintance with Ben Jonson began with a remarkable piece of humanity and good nature: Mr. Jonson, who was at that time altogether unknown to the world, had offered one of his plays to the players, in order to have it acted; and the persons into whose hands it was put, after having turned it carelessly and superciliously over, were just upon returning it to him with an ill-natured answer, that it would be of no service to their company; when Shakspeare luckily cast his eye upon it, and found something so well in it, as to engage him first to read it through, and afterwards to recommend Mr. Jonson and his writings to the public. Jonson was certainly a very good scholar, and in that had the advantage of Shakspeare; though at the same time I believe it must be allowed, that what nature gave the latter was more than a balance for what books had given the former; and the judgment of a great man upon this occasion was, I think, very just and proper. In a conversation between Sir John Suckling, Sir William D'Avenant, Endymion Porter, Mr. Hales of Eton, and Ben Jonson, Sir John Suckling, who was a professed admirer of Shakspeare, had undertaken his defence against Ben Jonson with some warmth; Mr. Hales, who had sat still for some time, told them, That if Mr. Shakspeare had not read the ancients, he had likewise not stolen any thing from them; and that if he would produce any one topic finely treated by any one of them, he would undertake to shew something upon the same subject at least as well written by Shakspeare.

The latter part of his life was spent, as all men of good sense will wish theirs may be, in ease, retirement, and the conversation of his friends. He had the good fortune to gather an estate equal to his occasion, and, in that, to his wish; and is said to have spent some years before his death at his native Stratford, His pleasurable wit and good-nature engaged him in the acquaintance, and entitled him to the friendship, of the gentlemen of the neighbourhood. Amongst them, it is a story almost still remembered in that country that he had a particular intimacy with Mr. Combe, an old gentleman noted thereabouts for his wealth and usury; it happened that in a pleasant conversation amongst their common friends, Mr. Combe told Shakspeare in a laughing manner, that he fancied he intended to write his epitaph, if he happened to out-live him; and since he could not know what might be said of him when he was dead, he desired it might be doue immediately; upon which Shakspeare gave him these four verses:

"TEN IN THE HUNDRED lies here engraved;

'Tis a hundred to ten his soul is not saved;
If any man ask, Who lies in this tomb?

Oh! oh! quoth the devil, 'tis my John-a-Combe."

But the sharpness of the satire is said to have stung the man so severely, that he never forgave it.

He died in the 53d year of his age, and was buried on the north side of the chancel, in the great church at Stratford, where a monument is placed in the wall. On his grave-stone underneath is,

"Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear
To dig the dust enclosed here.

Blest be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones."

He had three daughters, of which two lived to be married; Judith, the elder, to one Mr. Thomas Quiney, by whom she had three sons, who all died without children; and Susanna, who was his favourite, to Dr. John Hall, a physician of good reputation in that country. She left one child only, a daughter, who was married first to Thomas Nashe, Esq., and afterwards to Sir John Barnard, of Abington, but died likewise without issue.

This is what I could learn of any note, either relating to himself or family: the

character of the man is best seen in his writings. But since Ben Jonson has made, a sort of an essay toward it in his Discoveries, I will give it in his words:

I remember the players have often mentioned it as an honour to Shakspeare, that in writing (whatsoever he penned) he never blotted out a line. My answer hath been, Would he had blotted a thousand! which they thought a malevolent speech. I had not told posterity this, but for their ignorance, who chose that circumstance to commend their friend by, wherein he most faulted: and to justify mine own candour, for I loved the man, and do honour his memory, on this side idolatry, as much as any. He was, indeed, honest, and of an open and free nature, had an excellent fancy, brave notions, and gentle expressions: wherein he flowed with that facility, that sometimes it was necessary he should be stopped: SufAaminandus erat, as Augustus said of Haterius. His wit was in his own power: would the rule of it had been so too! Many times he fell into those things, which could not escape laughter; as when he said in the person of Cæsar, one speaking to him,

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"He replied:

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"Cæsar, thou dost me wrong.

"Cæsar did never wrong, but with just cause.

"and such like, which were ridiculous. But he redeemed his vices with his virtues: there was ever more in him to be praised that to be pardoned."

As for the passage which he mentions out of Shakspeare, there is somewhat like it in Julius Cæsar, but without the absurdity; nor did I ever meet with it in any edition that I have seen, as quoted by Mr. Jonson.

Besides his plays in this edition, there are two or three ascribed to him by Mr. Langbaine, which I have never seen, and know nothing of. He writ likewise Venus and Adonis, and Tarquin and Lucrece, in stanzas, which have been printed in a late collection of poems. As to the character given of him by Bea Jonson, there is a good deal true in it: but I believe it may be as well expressed by what Horace says of the first Romans, who wrote tragedy upon the Greek models, (or indeed translated them,, in his epistle to Augustus:

"naturà sublimis et acer :

Nam spirat tragicum satis, et feliciter audet,
Sed turpem putat in chartis metuitque lituram."

As I have not proposed to myself to enter into a large and complete criticism upon Shakspeare's works, so I will only take the liberty, with all due submission to the judgment of others, to observe some of those things I have been pleased with in looking him over.

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His plays are properly to be distinguished only into comedies and tragedies, Those which are called histories, and even some of his comedies, are really tragedies, with a run or mixture of comedy amongst them. That way of tragicomedy was the common mistake of that age; and is, indeed, become so agreeable to the English taste, that though the severer critics among us cannot bear it, yet the generality of our audiences seem to be better pleased with it than with an exact tragedy. The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Comedy of Errors, and The Taming of a Shrew, are all pure comedy; the rest, however they are called, have something of both kinds. It is not very easy to determine which way of writing he was most excellent in. There is certainly a great deal of entertaininent in his comical humours; and, though they did not then strike at all ranks of people, as the satire of the present age has taken the liberty to do, yet there is a pleasing and a well-distinguished variety in those characters which he thought fit to meddle with. Falstaff is allowed by every body to be a master-piece; the character is always well sustained, though drawn out into the length of three plays; and even the account of his death, given by his old, landlady, Mrs. Quickly, in the first act of Henry the Fifth, though it be extremely natural, is yet as diverting as any part of his life. If there be any fault in the draught he has made of this lewd old, fellow, it is that, though he has made him a thief, lying, cowardly, vain-glorious, and, in short, every way vicious, yet he has given him so much wit as to make him almost too agreeable; and I do not know whether some people have not, in remembrance of the diversion he had formerly afforded them, been sorry to see his friend Hal use him so scurvily, when he comes to the crown in the end of The Second Part of Henry the Fourth. Amongst other extravagancies, in The Merry Wives of Windsor he has made him a deer-stealer, that he might at the same time remember his Warwickshire prosecutor, under the name of Justice Shallow; he has given himn very near the same court of arms which Dugdale, in his Antiquities of that

county, describes for a family there, and makes the Welsh parson descant very pleasantly upon them. That whole play is admirable; the humours are various and well opposed; the main design, which is to cure Ford of his unreasonable jealousy, is extremely well conducted. In Twelfth Night there is something singularly ridiculous and pleasant in the fantastical steward Malvolio. The parasite and the vain-glorious in Parolles, in All's Well that Ends Well, is as good as any thing of that kind in Plautus or Terence. Petruchio, in The Taming of the Shrew, is an uncommon piece of humour. The conversation of Benedick and Beatrice, in Much Ado About Nothing, and of Rosalind, in As You Like It, have much wit and sprightliness all along. His clowns, without which character there was hardly any play writ in that time, are all very entertaining; and, I believe, Thersites, in Troilus and Cressida, and Apemantus, ia Timon, will be allowed to be master pieces of ill-nature and satirical snarling. To these I might add that incomparable character of Shylock, the Jew, in The Merchant of Venice: but though we have seen that play received and acted as a comedy, and the part of the Jew performed by an excellent comedian, yet I cannot but think it was designed tragically by the author. There appears in it such a deadly spirit of revenge, such a savage fierceness and fellness, and such a bloody designation of cruelty and mischief, as cannot agree either with the style or characters of comedy. The play itself, take it altogether, seems to me to be one of the most finished of any of Shakspeare's. The tale, indeed, in that part relating to the caskets, and the extravagant and unusual kind of bond given by Antonio, is too much removed from the rules of probability; but, taking the fact for granted, we must allow it to be very beautifully written. There is something in the friendship of Antonio to Bassanio, very great, generous, and tender. The whole fourth act (supposing, as I said, the fact to be probable) is extremely fine. But there are two passages that deserve a particular notice: the first is what Portia says in praise of mercy; and the other on the power of music. The melancholy of Jaques, in As You Like It, is as singular and odd as it is diverting. And if, what Horace says,

"Difficile est proprie communia dicere,

it will be a hard task for any one to go beyond him in the description of the several degrees and ages of man's life, though the thought be old and common enough.

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All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women inerely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms;
And then, the whining school boy with his satchel,
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then, the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad
Made to his mistress' eye-brow. Then, a soldier;
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon's mouth. And then, the justice;
In fair round belly, with good capon lined,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon;
With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again tow'rds childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound: Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness, and mere oblivion

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing."

His images are, indeed, every where so lively, that the thing he would repre sen: stands full before you, and you possess every part of it. 1 will venture to

point out one more, which is, I think, as strong and as uncommon as any thing I ever saw it is an image of Patience. Speaking of a maid in love, he says,

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She never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm i' th' bud,
Feed on her damask cheek: she pined in thought,
And sat like PATIENCE on a monument,
Smiling at GRIEF."

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What an image is here given! and what a task would it have been for the greatest masters of Greece and Rome to have expressed the passions designed by the sketch of statuary! The style of his comedy is, in general, natural to the characters, and easy in itself; and the wit most commonly sprightly and, pleasing, except in those places where he runs into doggerel rhymes, as in The Comedy of Errors and some other plays. As for his jingling sometimes, and playing upon words, it was the common vice of the age he lived in: and if we find it in the pulpit, made use of as an ornament to the sermons of some of the gravest divines of those times, perhaps it may not be thought too light for the stage.

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But certainly the greatness of this author's genius does no where so much appear as where he gives his imagination an entire loose, and raises bis fancy to a flight above mankind, and the limits of the visible world. Such are his attempts in The Tempest, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, and Hamlet. Of these The Tempest, however it comes to be placed the first by the publishers of his works, can never have been the first written by him: it seems to me as perfect in its kind as almost any thing we have of his. One may observe that the unities are kept here, with an exactness uncommon to the liberties of his writing; though that was what, I suppose, he valued himself least upon, since his excellencies were all of another kind. I am very sensible that he does, in this play, depart too much from that likeness to truth which ought to be ob served in these sort of writings; yet he does it so very finely, that one is easily drawn in to have more faith for his sake, than reason does well allow of. His magic has something in it very solemn and very poetical; and that extravagant character of Caliban is mightily well sustained, shows a wonderful invention in the author, who could strike out such a particular wild image, and is certainly one of the finest and most uncommon grotesques that ever was seen. The observation, which I have been informed three very great men concurred in. making upon this part, was extremely just; That Shakspeare had not only found out a new character in his Caliban, but had also devised and adapted a new manner of language for that character.

It is the same magic that raises the Fairies in A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Witches in Macbeth, and the Ghost in Hamlet, with thoughts and language so proper to the parts they sustain, and so peculiar to the talent of this writer. But of the two last of these plays I shall have occasion to take notice among the tragedies of Mr. Shakspeare. If one undertook to examine the greatest part of these by those rules which are established by Aristotle, and taken from the model of the Grecian stage, it would be no very hard task to find a great many faults; but as Shakspeare lived under a kind of mere light of nature, and had never been made acquainted with the regularity of those written precepts, so it would be hard to judge him by a law he knew nothing of. We are to consider him as a man that lived in a state of almost universal license and ignorance; there was no established judge, but every one took the liberty to write according to the dictates of his own fancy. When one considers, that there is not one play before him of a reputation good enough to entitle it to an appearance on the present stage, it cannot but be a matter of great wonder that he should advance dramatic poetry so far as he did. The fable is what is generally placed the first, among those that are reckoned the constituent parts of a tragic or heroic poem; not, perhaps, as it is the most difficult or beautiful, but as it is the first properly to be thought of in the contrivance and course of the whole; and, with the fable, ought to be considered the fit disposition, order, and conduct of its several parts. As it is not in this province of the drama that the strength and mastery of Shakspeare lay, so I shall not undertake the tedious and ill-natured trouble to point out the several faults he was guilty of in it. His tales were seldom invented, but rather taken either from the true history, or novels and romances: and he commonly made use of thein in that order, with those incidents, and that extent of time in which he found them in the authors from whence he borrowed them. So The Winter's Tule, which is taken from an old book, called The Delectable History of Dorastus and Fawnia, contains the space of sixteen or seventeen years, and the scene is sometimes laid in Bohe

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mia, and sometimes in Sicily, according to the original order of the story. Almost all his historical plays comprehend a great length of time, and very different and distinct places: and in his Antony and Cleopatra, the scene travels over the greatest part of the Roman empire. But in recompense for his carelessness in this point, when he comes to another part of the drama, the manners of his charac ters, in acting or speaking what is proper for them, and fit to be shewn by the poet, he may be generally justified, and in very many places greatly commended. For those plays which he has taken from the English or Roman history, let any inan compare them, and he will find the character as exact in the poet as the historian. He seems indeed so far from proposing to himself any one action for a subject, that the title very often tells you, it is The Life of King John, King Richard, &c. What can be more agreeable to the idea our historians give of Henry the Sixth, than the picture Shakspeare has drawn of him! His manners are every where exactly the same, with the story; one finds him im still described with simplicity, passive sanctity, want of courage, weakness of mind, and easy submission to the governance of an imperious wife, or prevailing faction; though at the same time the poet does justice to his good qualities, and moves the pity of his audience for him, by shewing him pious, disinterested, a contemner of the things of this world, and wholly resigned to the severest dispensations of God's providence. There is a short scene in The Second Part of Henry the Sixth, which I cannot but think admirable in its kind. Cardinal Beanfort, who had murdered the Duke of Gloucester, is shewn, in the last agonies on his death-bed, with the good king praying over him. There is so much terror in one, so much tenderness and moving piety in the other, as must touch any one who is capable either of fear or pity. In his Henry the Eighth, that prince is drawn with that greatness of mind, and all those good qualities which are attributed to him in any account of his reign. If hiɛ faults are not shewn in an equal degree, and the shades in this picture do not bear a just proportion to the lights, it is not that the artist wanted either colours or skill in the disposition of them; but the truth, I believe, might be, that he forbore doing it out of regard to Queen Elizabeth, since it could have been no very great respect to the memory of his mistress, to have exposed some certain parts of her father's life upon the stage. He has dealt much more freely with the minister of that great king; and certainly nothing was ever more justly written than the character of Cardinal Wolsey. He has shewn him insolent in his prosperity; and yet, by a wonderful address, he makes his fall and ruin the subject of general compassion. The whole man, with his vices and virtues, is finely and exactly described in the second scene of the fourth act. The distresses, likewise, of Queen Catherine, in this play, are very movingly touched; and though the art of the poet has screened King Henry from any gross imputation of injustice, yet one is inclined to wish, the queen had met with a fortune more worthy of her birth and virtue. Nor are the manners, proper to the persons represented, less justly observed in those characters taken from the Roman history; and of this, the fierceness and impatience of Coriolanus, his courage and disdain of the common people, the virtue and philosophical temper of Brutus, and the irregular greatness of mind in M. Antony, are beautiful proofs. For the two last especially, you find them exactly as they are described by Plutarch, from whom certainly Shakspeare copied them. He has indeed followed his original pretty close, and taken in several little incidents that might have been spared in a play. But, as I hinted before, his design seems most commonly rather to describe those great men in the several fortunes and accidents of their lives, than to take any single great action, and form his work simply upon that. However, there are some of his pieces, where the fable is founded upon one action only. Such are more especially Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Othello. The design in Romeo and Juliet is plainly the punishment of their two families, for the unreasonable feuds and animosities that had been so long kept up between them, and occasioned the effusion of so much blood. In the management of this story, he has shewn something wonderfully tender and passionate in the love-part, and very pitiful in the distress. Hamlet is founded ou much the same tale with the Electra of Sophocles. In each of them a young prince is engaged to revenge the death of his father, their mothers are equally guilty, are both concerned in the murder of their husbands, and are afterwards married to the murderers. There is, in the first part of the Greek tragedy, something very moving in the grief of Electra; but, as Mr. Dacier has observed, there is something very unnatural and shocking in the manners he has given that princess and Orestes in the latter part. Orestes imbrues his hands in the blood of his own mother; and that barbarous action is performed, though not immediately upon the stage, yet so near, that the audience hear Clytemnestra crying out to Ægysthus for help, and to her son for mercy: while Electra, her daughter and a princess, (both of them characters that ought to have appeared with more decency,) stands upon

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