times; and at Sandwich al sis of the clocke the land not onelie quaked, but the sea also fomed, so Ibat the ships toltered. At Dover also the same boure was the like, so that a peece of the clille fell into the sea, with also a peece of the castell wall there: a piece of Sallwood castell in Kent fell downe: and in the church of Hide the bels were heard to sound. A peece of Sullon church in Kent fell downe, the earthquake being there not onlie felt, but also beard. And in all these places and others in east Kent, the same earthquake was felt three times to move, lo wil, al six, at nine, and at eleven of Ibe clocke.” *

In this passage, to which we shall again have occasion to revert, the violence and universality of the event described, are such as would almost necessarily form an era for reference in the poet's mind; and the date, indeed, of the prima s'amina of the play in which the line above-mentioned is found, may be nearly ascertained by this allusion.

Il, as some of his commentators have supposed, Shakspeare possessed any grammatical knowledge of the French and Italian languages, it is highly probable that the acquisition must have been obtained in the interval which took place between his quitting the grammar-school of Stratford and his marriage, a period, if our arrangement be admitted, of about six years; and consequently, any consideration of the subject will almost necessarily claim a place at the close of this chapter.

That the dramas of our great poet exhibit numerous instances in which both these languages are introduced, and especially the former, of which we have an entire scene in Henry V., will not be denied by any reader of his works; nor will any person, acquainted with the literature of his times, venture to affirm, that he might not have acquired by his own industry, and through the medium of the introductory books then in circulation, a sufficient knowledge of French and Italian for all the purposes which he had in view. We cannot therefore agree with Dr. Farmer, when he asserts, that Shakspeare's acquaintance with these languages consisted only of a familiar phrase or two picked up in the writers of the time, or the course of his conversation. +

The corrupted state of the French and Italian passages, as found in the early editions of our poet's plays, can be no argument that he was totally ignorant of these languages; as it would apply with nearly equal force to prove that he was similarly situated with regard to his vernacular tongue, which in almost every scene of these very editions has undergone various and gross corruptions. Nor will greater conviction result, when it is affirmed that this foreign phraseology might be the interpolation of the players; for it is remains to be ascertained, that they possessed a larger portion of exotic literature than Shakspeare himself.

The author of an essay on Shakspeare's learning in the Censura Literaria, from which we have already quoted a passage in favour of his having made some pro gress in latinity, is likewise of opinion that his knowledge of the French was greater than Dr. Farmer is willing to allow.

I have been confirmed in this opinion,” be observes, “ by a casual discovery of Shakspeare having imitated a whole French line and description in a long French epic poem, written by Garnier, called the “ Henriade,” like Voltaire's, and on the same subject, first published in 1394.

"In As You Like It, Shakspeare gives an affecting descriplion of the different manners of men in the different ages of life, which closes with these lines :

"What ends this strange eventful history
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing.' Now-why have recourse for an insipid preposition to a language of which he is said to have been totally ignorant? I always supposed therefore that there must have been some peculiar

• Holinshed's Chronicles, vol. iv. p. 426. edit. of 1808. + Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 85. Mr. Capel Loffi's opinion of the Italian literature of Shakspeare is soinewhat more extended than my own. “My impression," says he,"is, that Shakspeare was not unacquainted with the most popular authors in Italian prose : and that his ear had listened to the enchanting tones of Petrarca and some others of their great poets." Preface to his Laura, p. cxcii.

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apei cons opruion or ine italian literature or snakspeare is somewhat more extended than my own. “My impression,” says he,“ is, that Shakspeare was not unacquainted with the most popular authors in Italian prose: and that his ear had listened to the enchanting tones of Petrarca and some others of their great poets.” Preface to his Laura, p. cxcii.

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