Imatges de pÓgina



Second, Henry the Fourth, Richard the Third,, ted, or at least moderated, what Greene had Romeo and Juliet, The Midsummer Night's Dream, written against Shakspeare, and adding, “ I am Tizo Gentlemen of Verona, The Comedy of Errors, as sorry as if the original fault had been my The Love's Labour Lost, The Love's Labour Won, * fault; because myself have seen his demeanour, 140 and The Merchant of Venice. He had also written less civil than he ercelleth in the qualitie he proa great number of his Sonnets, and the minor fesses : besides divers of worship have reported his pieces of poetry which were collected and printed uprightness of deuling, which argues his honestie, by Jaggart, in 1599, under the somewhat affected and his facetious grace in writing, that approves his title of the Passionate Pilgrim. After this, we

art.' have no means of ascertaining the succession in It may be conceived from the abundance of which the plays of Shakspeare were composed. his works, of which, perhaps, very many have

Very early in his dramatic career, he appears been lost, that our author's facility of composito have attained to a principal share in the direction must have been extremely great; and, on tion and emoluments of the theatres to which he this point, we have the contemporary testimony 5ā attached. His name stands second in the of his sincere, kind-hearted, generous, and much list of proprietors of the Globe, and Blackfriars, slandered friend, Ben Jonson, who writes in his in the license granted to them by James the Discoveries, “I remember the players have often First in 1603: and his industry in supporting mentioned it as an honour to Shakspeare, that these establishments was indefatigable. Besides in writing (whatsoever he penned) he never tie plays which were entirely of his own com- blotted out a line. My answer hath been, Would position, or which he so completely rewrote as he had blotted out a thousand ! which they thought to make them bis own, he seems to have been a malevolent speech. I had not told posterity frequently engaged in revising, and adding to this, but for their ignorance, who chose that cirand remodelling, the works of others. This cumstance to commend their friend by, wherein task, however beneficial to the interests of his he most faulted ; and to justify mine own cantheatre, and necessary to give attraction to the dour, for I loved the man, and do honour his pieces themselves, was viewed with an eye of memory, on this side idolatry, as much as any. jealousy by the original authors; and Robert He was, indeed, honest, and of an open and free Greene, in his Groatsworth of Wit, himself a nature, had an excellent fancy, brave notions, writer for the stage, in admonishing his fellow- and gentle expressions ; wherein he flowed with cramatists to abandon their pursuit, and apply that felicity, that sometimes it was necessary he themselves to some more profitable vocation, should be stopped : Sufflaminandus erat, as Aurefers them to this part of our author's labours gustus said of Haterius. His wit was in his own with no little asperity. “Trust them not (i. e. power; would the rule of it bad been so too. the players), for there is an upstart crow beau- Many times he fell into those things which could tified with our feathers, that with his tyger's not escape laughter; as when he said, in the beart wrapt in a player's hide, supposes he is person of Cæsar, one speaking to him, as well able to bombast out a blank-verse as the

Cæsar, thou dost me wrong.' best of you; and being an absolute Johannes factatur, is in his own conceit the only Shak-scene

• He replied : in a country. This sarcasm, however, was

•Cæsar did never wrong, but with just cause, 'I Dothing more than the unwarranted effusion of a dissolute and disappointed spirit.

Greene was

and such like, which were ridiculous. But he a bad man. The pamphlet from which the redeemed his vices with his virtues; there was above passage is extracted was published after ever more in him to be praised than to be parhis death by Henry Chettle ; and the editor, doned.'S after he had given it to the world, was so satis- But Shakspeare was not only an author but an bed of the falsehood of the charges insinuated actor. In this union of the two professions he against our author, that he made a public apo- was not singular; his friend Ben Jonson resemlogy for his indiscretion in the preface to a sub- bled him in this. With respect to the merits of xquent pamphlet of his own, entitled, Kind Shakspeare as a performer, there has existed Hart's Dreame; lamenting that he had not omit- some doubt.

From the expression used in

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Rowe's Life, it would appear that he had been of Shakspeare were confined, was that of elderly but indifferently skilled in the inferior half of his persons ; parts, rather of declamation than of double vocation, and never attempted any parts passion. With a countenance which, if any one superior to the Ghost in Hamlet ; but the words of his pictures is a genuine resemblance of him, of Chettle, speaking of him as one excellent in we may adduce that one as our authority for the qualitie he professes,' confirm the account of esteeming capable of every variety of expression ; Aubrey, that he did act exceedingly well.' That with a knowledge of the art that rendered him he understood the theory of his profession is fit to be the teacher of the first actors of his day, manifest from the invaluable instructions which and to instruct Joseph Taylor in the character of he has written, for the use of all future actors, Hamlet, and John Lowine in that of King Henry in the third act of Hamlet. His class of cha- the Eighth ;£ with such admirable qualifications racters was probably not very extensive. If for pre-eminence, we must infer that nothing but the names of the performers prefixed to the some personal defect could have reduced him to early editions of Every Man in his Humour limit the exercise of his powers, and even in were arranged in the same order as the per- youth assume the slow and deliberate motion, sons of the drama, which was most probably which is the characteristic of old age. In his the case, he was the original representative of minor poems we, perhaps, trace the origin of Old Knowell; and an anecdote preserved by this direction of his talents. It appears from two Oldys would also make it appear that he played places in his Sonnets, that he was lamed by some Adam in As you like it. 'One of Shakspeare's accident. In the 37th sonnet he writesbrothers, * who lived to a good old age, even

So I made lame by Fortune's dearest spite.' some years after the restoration of Charles the Second, would, in his younger days, come to And, in the 89th, he again alludes to his infirLondon to visit his brother Will, as he called mity, and says— him, and be a spectator of him as an actor in some

"Speak of my lameness, and I straight will halt.' of his own plays. This custom, as his brother's fame enlarged, and his dramatic entertainments This imperfection would necessarily have rengrew the greatest support of our principal, if not dered him unfit to appear as the representative of all our theatres, he continued it seems so long of any characters of youthful ardour, in which after his brother's death as even to the latter end rapidity of movement or violence of exertion of his own life. The curiosity at this time of the was demanded; and would oblige him to apply most noted actors (exciting them) to learn some- his powers to such parts as were compatible with thing from him of his brother, &c. they justly his measured and impeded action. Malone has held him in the highest veneration. And it may most inefficiently attempted to explain away the be well believed, as there was, besides, a kinsman palpable meaning of the above lines ; and adds, and descendant of the family, who was then a • If Shakspeare was in truth lame, he had it not celebrated actor among them (Charles Hart. in his power to halt occasionally for this or any See Shakspeare's Will). This opportunity made other purpose. The defect must have been fixed them greedily inquisitive into every little cir- and permanent. Not so. Surely, many an incumstance, more especially in his dramatic cha- firmity of the kind may be skilfully concealed; or racter, which his brother could relate of him. only become visible in the moments of hurried But he, it seems, was so stricken in years, and movement. Either Sir Walter Scott or Lord possibly his memory so weakened with infirmities Byron might, without any impropriety, have (which might make him the easier pass for a man written the verses in question. They would of weak intellects), that he could give them but have been applicable to either of them. Indeed little light into their inquiries; and all that the lameness of Lord Byron was exactly such as could be recollected from him of his brother Shakspeare's might have been ; and I remember Will in that station was, the faint, general, and as a boy, that he selected those speeches for de. almost lost ideas he had of having once seen him clamation, which would not constrain him to the act a part in one of his own comedies, wherein, use of such exertions, as might obtrude the defect being to personate a decrepit old man, he wore a of his person into notice. long beard, and appeared so weak and drooping Shakspeare's extraordinary merits, both as an and unable to walk, that he was forced to be author and as an actor, did not fail of obtaining supported and carried by another person to a for him the fame and the remuneration that they table, at which he was seated among some com

deserved. He was soon honoured by the patronpany, who were eating, and one of them sung a age of the young Lord Southampton, one of song.'+ From this it would appear, that the class the most amiable and accomplished noblemen of of characters to which the histrionic exertions the court of Elizabeth, and one of the earliest THE LIFE OF WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE.

• Gilbert.
+ Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. 122.

| Roscius Anglicanus, commonly called, Downes the Prompter's Book.


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patrons of our national drama. * To this dis- I have been obtained by purchase, and could not tinguished person our author dedicated, the first have been obtained for an inconsiderable sum ;s heir of his invention,'t the poem of Venus and nor by any means that our author could of himAdonis, in 1593. This was within five years self have procured, by the most indefatigable after Shakspeare arrived in London ; and, in the exertions of his talents and economy. At a time following year, he inscribed the Rape of Lucrece when the most successful dramatic representation to the same nobleman, in terms which prove that did not produce to its author so much as twenty the barriers imposed by difference of condition pounds, and generally little more than ten;|| bad become gradually levelled, and that, between when, as an actor, his salary would have amountthese young men, the cold and formal inter-ed to a mere trifle; and when, as we have before course of the patron and the client had been seen, the circumstances of his father could not rapidly exchanged for the kinder familiarity of have aided him by any supplies from home, i: is friendship. The first address is respectful; the only by adopting D'Avenant's statement, and second affectionate. When this intimacy began admitting the munificence of Lord Southampton, Shakspeare was in his twenty-seventh, and Lord that we can account for the sudden prosperity of Southampton in his twentieth year; a time of Shakspeare. But, says Malone, it is more

when the expansion of our kindness is not likely that he presented the poet with a hundred restrained by any of those apprehensions and pounds in return for his dedications.' And this suspicions which, in after-life, impede the de- instance of liberality, which is so creditable to velopment of the affections; and when, in the Shakspeare and his patron—to him who merited, enthusiastic admiration of excellence, we hasten and the high-spirited and noble youth who comto seek fellowship with it, and disregard every prehended and rewarded his exalted merit—is to impediment to free communication which may be be discredited, because such an ardour of admiraopposed by the artificial distinctions of society. tion does not square with the frigid views of proThe superiority of Shakspeare's genius raised bability entertained by the aged antiquarian in him to a level with his friend. Lord Southamp- the seclusion of his closet ! ton allowed the gifts of Nature to claim equal The fortunes of Shakspeare were indeed rapid privilege with the gifts of Fortune; and the in their rise; but he did not selfishly monopolize splendid present of a thousand pounds, which the emoluments of his success. On being driven our great poet received from him, was bestowed from Stratford, he left, as we have seen, a father and accepted in the true spirit of generosity; as in reduced circumstances, and a wife and chilcoming from one, who was exercising to its dren who were to be supported by his labours. noblest uses the power of his affluence, and re- We may confidently assert, on a comparison of ceived by one whose soul was large enough to facts and dates, that the spirit of Shakspeare was contain the sense of obligation without any mix- not of a niggard and undiffusive kind. The ture of petty shame or any sacrifice of indepen- course of his success is marked by the returning dence. The name of Henry Wriothesley, earl of prosperity of his family. In 1578, his father was Scuthampton, should be dear to every English- unable to pay, as a member of the corporation, Dan, as the first patron—the youthful friend his usual contribution of four-pence a-week to and author of the fortunes of Sbakspeare.


poor; and in 1588, a distress was issued for The authority for believing that this magnifi. the seizure of his goods, which his poverty rencent present was made—which is equivalent to dered nugatory; for it was returned, * Johannes at least five thousand pounds at the present day Shakspeare nihil habet unde distributio potest -is the best that can be obtained respecting the levari."** Yet, from this state of poverty, we find events of our author's life; that of Sir William him within ten years rising with the fortunes of D'Avenant. "It was given,' he says, 'to complete his child; cheered and invigorated by the first a purchase.' Malone doubts the extent of the dawning of his illustrious son's prosperity; and earl's munificence—and what does he not doubt? | in 1590, applying at the Herald's Office for a reHe says, “no such purchase was ever made.'t newal of his grant of arms,tt and described as This is a mere gratuitous assumption; for it is a Justice of the Peace, and one possessing lands evident that Shakspeare had a very considerable and tenements to the amount of 5001. That property in two principal theatres, which must this restoration of Mr. John Shakspeare's affairs

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*My Lord Southampton and Lord Rutland came het to the court; the one doth but very seldome: They pass away the time in London, merely in going & plays every day.'-Rowland Whyte's Letter to Biz Robert Sidney, 1599, Sydney Papers, vol. ii.

tronje of en af niest

• Dedication to Venus and Adonis.
: BOSWELL's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 480.

The Globe was, perhaps, worth about 500l.; the
Backfriars somewhat more: but this was the least
biable portion of the concern. The scenery, the

properties, and the dresses, must have been worth
infinitely more. In Greene's Groate's worth of Wit,
a player is introduced, boasting that his share in the
stage apparel could not be sold for two hundred
pounds. Shakspeare was also the purchaser of pro-
perty at Stratford so early as 1597.
|| GIFFORD's Massinger, vol. i. p. 64.

Boswell's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 478.
** Register of the Bailiff's Court of Stratford.

#1 They were originally granted to himn in 1569 while high-bailiff of the town.


originated in the filial piety of his son, appears conformists; and in a MS. volume of poems, evident, from our knowledge that the branch of which was purchased by Boswell, the following traffic with which his circumstances in life were complimentary lines are preserved. inseparably connected, was at that period in its most extreme state of depression. *

The kindness of Shakspeare was not restricted • Crownes have their compass, length of dayes their to his family; and the only letter which remains

date, out of the many he must have received, is one Triumphes their tombs, felicity her fate :

Of more than earth cann earth make none partaker; from his townsman, Richard Quiney, requesting But knowledge makes the king most like bis Maker.'' in terms that speak him confident of success, the loan of thirty pounds, a sum in those days by no Thus honoured and applauded by the great, means inconsiderable.+

the intercourse of Shakspeare with that bright Pecuniary emolument and literary reputation band and company of gifted spirits, which enwere not the only reward that our poet received nobled the reigns of Elizabeth and James by for his labours: the smiles of royalty itself shone their writings, must have been a source of the upon him. 'Queen Elizabeth,' says Rowe, “ gave highest intellectual delight. The familiarity him many gracious marks of her favour ;'t and with which they seem to have communicated ; so delighted was she with the character of Fal- the constant practice of uniting their powers in staff, that she desired our author to continue it in the completion of a joint production ; the unanother play, and exhibit him in love. To this envying admiration with which they rejoiced in command we owe The Merry Wives of Windsor. the triumphs of their literary companions, and Dennis adds, that, from the Queen's eagerness to introduced the compositions of one another to see it acted, she commanded it to be finished in the world by recommendatory verses, present us fourteen days, and was afterwards, as tradition with such a picture of kind and gay and intellitells us, very well pleased with the representa- / gent society, as the imagination finds it difficult tion.'S If Queen Elizabeth was pleased to direct to entertain an adequate conception of. Sir the course of our author's imagination, with her Walter Raleigh, previously to his unfortunate successor he was a distinguished favourite : and engagement with the wretched Cobham and James the First, whose talents and judgment others, had instituted a meeting of beaur esprits have deserved more respect than they have re- at the Mermaid, a celebrated tavern in Fridayceived, wrote him a letter with his own hand, street. Of this club, which combined more talent which was long in the possession of Sir W. and genius, perhaps, than ever met together beD'Avenant. || Dr. Farmer supposes this letter fore or since, our author was a member; and to have been written in return for the compli- here, for many years, he regularly repaired with ment paid the monarch in Macbeth ; but he haz Ben Jonson, Beaumont, Fletcher, Selden, Cotton, overlooked an equally probable occasion. The Carew, Martin, Donne, and many others, whose Tempest was written for the festivities that at- names, even at this distant period, call up a tended the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth mingled feeling of reverence and respect. Here, with the Prince Palatine ; and was performed at

in the full flow and confidence of friendship, the court in the beginning of the year 1613. In the lively and interesting “ wit combats” took place island Princess, Miranda, Shakspeare undoubtedly between Ben Jonson and our author; and hither, designed a poetic representative of the virgin and in probable allusion to them, Beaumont fondly high-born bride ; in the royal and learned Pros- | lets his thoughts wander, in his letter to Jonson, pero, we may trace a complimentary allusion to the from the country : literary character and mysterious studies of her

What things have we seen royal father; and it is at all events as likely that Done at the Mermaid ! heard words that have been the letter of James to Shakspeare should have

So nimble, and so full of subtle flame, had reference to The Tempest as to Macbeth. Our

As if that every one from whom they came,

Had meant to put his whole wit in a jest, &c." "* author seems to have formed a far more correct estimate of the talents of his sovereign, than that

The 'wit combats' alluded to in this interesting which we have blindly received and adopted on passage are mentioned by Fuller, who, speaking the authority of his political enemies, the Non- of Shakspeare, says, “Many were the wit com

Supplication to the Lord Treasurer Burghley, 482. He was called a pedant; 'but,' says Mr. D'ls1590.

raeli,' he was no more a pedant than the ablest of + This letter is preserved in Boswell's Shakspeare, his contemporaries; nor abhorred the taste of tobacco, vol. ii. p. 485.

nor feared witches, more than they did : he was a Life of Shakspeare.

great wit, a most acute disputant '&c.-Calamities of Epistle Dedicatory to the Comical Gallant. Authors, vol. ii. p. 245. || James was the patron of Jonson and of Shak

Boswell's Shakspeare, vol. ii. p. 481. speare; he possessed himself no inconsiderable talent for poetry. See Boswell's Shakspeare, vol. ii.p. 481,

** Gifford's Ben Jonson, vol, i. p. Lxv. lxvi.



bates between Shakspeare and Ben Jonson. Il The intimacy of Shakspeare and Ben Jonson behold them like a Spanish great galleon, and is alluded to in the following letter, written by an English man of war, Master Jonson, like G. Peel, a dramatic poet, to his friend Marle :the former, was built far higher in learning, solid bat slow in his performances. Shakspeare, like ‘FRIEND MARLE, the latter, lesser in bulk, but lighter in sailing, could turn with all tides, tack about, and take last night. We were all very merrye at the

* I never longed for thy company more than advantage of all winds, by the quickness of his Globe, when Ned Alleyn did not scruple to wit and invention.' Of these encounters of the keenest intellects had stolen his speeche about the qualityes of an

affyrme pleasantely to thy friend Will, that he not a restige now remains.

The memory of

actor's excellencye, in Hamlet hys tragedye, from Fuller, perhaps, teemed with their sallies; but

conversations manyfold whych had passed bepothing on which we can depend has descended to us. The few traditionary tales that remain, touchinge the subject. Shakspeare did not take

tween them, and opinyons given by Alleyn are without any authority; but, such as they are, this talke in good sorte ; but Jonson put an end I present them to the reader as Dr. Drake has

to the strife, wittylie remarking, This affaire collected them.

needeth no contentione ; you stole it from Ned, Shakspeare was godfather to one of Ben Jonsod's children; and after the christening, being him act tymes out of number?

no doubt ; do not marvel : have you not seen in deep study, Jonson came to cheer him up, and

G. PEEL' asked him, why he was so melancholy? No, faith, Ben,' says he, ‘not I; but I have been con- The first appearance of this Letter was in the sidering a great while what should be the fittest Annual Register for 1770, whence it was copied gift for me to bestow upon my godchild, and I into the Biographia Britannica, and in both these have resolved at last.' *I prithee, what ?' says works it commences in the following manner : be. "Ifaith, Ben, I'll e'en give her a dozen I must desyre that my syster hyr watche, and good Latin (lattent) spoons, and thou shalt the cookerie book you promysed, may be sente bye translate them.'

the man. I never longed, &c.' 'Of four, • The above,' says Archdeacon Nares, 'is a this is the only anecdote worth preserving ; but,' pleasant raillery enough on Jonson's love for concludes Dr. Drake, “I apprehend it to be a translating. The second is not so worthy of mere forgery.' preservation. “Mr. Ben Jonson and Mr. Wil- The names of Shakspeare and Ben Jonson, as liam Shakspeare being merrie at a tavern, Mr. friends, and the most successful cultivators of our Jason begins this for his epitaph:

early dramatic literature, are so intimately con• Here lies Ben Jonson,

nected, that the life of one involves the frequent Who was once one-

mention of the other. Indeed, it is reported by

Rowe, that Shakspeare was the original means • He gives it to Mr. Shakspeare to make up, who of introducing the works of Jonson to the stage, presently writte,

Jonson, altogether unknown to the world, had * That, while he liv'd, was a slow thing,

offered one of his plays to the players, in order And now, being dead, is nothing."

to have it acted; and the persons into whose • This stuff,' adds Mr. Gifford, 'is copied from and superciliously over, were just upon returning

hands it was put, after having turned it carelessly the Ashmole MS. 38.'S

it to him with an ill-natured answer, that it would The next may be said to be rather of a “better be of no service to their company, when Shakter.' * Verses by Ben Jonson and Shakspeare, oc

speare luckily cast his eye upon it, and found

something so well in it, as to engage him first to casioned by the motto to the Globe Theatre— read it through, and afterwards to recommend Tetus mundus agit histrionem.

Jonson and his writings to the public.'1-This

anecdote is disputed by Mr. Gifford. He proves • If, but stage actors, all the world displays,

that in 1598, when Every Man in his Humour, Where shall we find spectators of their plays?" the first effort of Jonson's genius which we are

acquainted with, was produced, its author was

as well known as Shakspeare, and, perhaps, bet• Little, or much, of what we see, we do ;

Very true; but this does not in the least We are all both actors and spectators too.'l impugn the credibility of Rowe's tradition. It




Worthies, folio edition, p. 111. 126.
Kakspeare and his Times, vol. ii. p. 593.
: Lallen, i. e. brass. The anecdote is from the
Har MSS. No. 6395.

Gifford's Ben Jonson, vol. i. p. Ixxx.
| Poetical Characteristics, vol. i. MS. some time
in the Harleian Library.

{ Rowe's Life of Shakspeare.
** Ben Jonson, vol. i. p. xliii.

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