Imatges de pÓgina


thor alluded here to any such precise division of the drama. His comparisons seldom run on four feet. It was sufficient for him that a play was distributed into several acts, and that human life, long before his time, had been divided into seven periods. In The Treasury of Ancient and Modern Times, 1613, Proclus, a Greek author, is said to have divided the lifetime of man into seven ages ; over each of which one of the seven planets was supposed to rule.

“ The first age is called Infancy, containing the space of foure yeares. The second age continueth ten yeares, until he attaine to the yeares of fourteene: this age is called Childhood. -The third age consisteth of eight yeares, being named by our auncients Adolescencie or Youthhood; and it lasteth from fourteene, tilltwo and twenty yeares be fully compleate.-The fourth age paceth on, till a man have accomplished two and forty yeares, and is tearmed Young Manhood.—The fifth age, named Mature Manhood, hath (according to the said authour) fifteene yeares of continuance, and therefore makes his progress so far as six and fifty yeares.-Afterwards, in adding twelve to fifty-sixe, you shall make up sixty-eight yeares, which reach to the end of the sixt age,

and is called Old Age.-The seaventh and last of these seven ages

is limited from sixty-eight yeares, so far as four-score and eight, being called weak, declining, and Decrepite Age.-If any man chance to goe beyond this age, (which is more admired than noted in many,) you shall evidently perceive that he will returne to his first condition of Infancy againe.”

Hippocrates likewise divided the life of man into seven ages, but differs from Proclus in the number of years allotted to each period. See Brown's Vulgar Errors, folio, 1686, p. 173.

So also in The Diamant of Devotion, Cut and Squared into Six Severall Points; by Abraham Fleming, 4to, 1586, Part I.

“Wee are not placed in this world as continuers; for the scripture saith that we have no abiding citie heere, but as travellers and soiourners, whose custome it is to take up a new inne, and to change their lodging, sometimes here, sometimes there, during the time of their travell. Heere we walke like plaiers uppon a stage, one representing the person of a king, another of a lorde, the third of a plowman, the fourth of an artificer, and so foorth, as the course and order of the enterlude requireth ; everie acte whereof beeing plaide, there is no more to doe, but open the gates and dismisse the assemblie.

“Even so fareth it with us: for what other thing is the compasse of this world, beautified with varietie of creatures, reasonable and unreasonable, but an ample and large theatre, wherein all things are appointed to play their pageants, which when they have done, they die, and their glorie ceaseth.” Malone.

I have seen, more than once, an old print, entitled, The Stage

of Man's Life, divided into seven ages. As emblematical representations of this sort were formerly stuck up, both for ornament and instruction, in the generality of houses, it is more probable that Shakspeare took his hint from thence, than from Hippocrates or Proclus.

HENLEY. One of the representations to which Mr. Henley alludes, was formerly in my possession; and considering the use it is of in explaining the passage before us, “ I could have better spared a better print.", I well remember that it exhibited the school-boy with his satchell hanging over his shoulder. STEBVENS.


C. Baldwin, Printer, New Bi 'dge-street, London.

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