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sallies fresh in his recollection, has not been more communicative! What tradition, however, or rather, perhaps, what fabrication, has left us, of this kind, will be found in the notes.
It would appear that Shakspeare was now rapidly accumulating property; he had purchased, we have seen, New Place in 1597, a hundred and seven acres of land in 1602, and in 1605 he became the purchaser of the lease of the moiety of the great and small tithes of Stratford, for the sum of 4407., a pretty strong proof of the success which had accompanied the exercise of his talents, both as an actor and a poet, and a complete one of his having overcome the difficulties which, for some years after his arrival in London, had so oppressively encumbered his efforts.
We may add, that he was gratified this year by the affectionate remembrance of his former associate Augustine Phillips, who, in his Will, proved on the 13th of May, 1605, gives and bequeaths to his "Fellowe Willm Shakespeare a thirty shillings piece in gould."
It was the fashion at this period among the poets, to compliment a monarch, who was peculiarly open to flattery, especially on the subject of his genealogy, and on the union of the three kingdoms in his own person; a species of panegyric in which our author had been preceded by Daniel, Drayton, and Ben Jonson, and
• Were the repartees, however, of which time has deprived us, no better than those that we have now to communicate, it must be confessed, that the two bards have no great reason to complain of the loss *Shakspeare,” relates Capell, “was god-father to one of Ben Jonson's children, and after the christening, being in deep study, Jonson came to cheer him up; and asked him why he was so melancholy? No faith, Ben, says he, not I; but I have been considering a great while what should be the fittest gift for me to bestow upon my god-child, and I have resolved at last. I prithee what, says he? I'faith, Ben, I'll c'en give her a dozen good Latin (latten) spoons, and thou shalt translate them.”—Notes on Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 94.
The second of these morceaux is, if possible, still worse than the preceding: "Mr. Ben Jonson and Mr. William Shakspeare being merrie at a tavern, Mr. Jonson begins this for his epitaph,
"Here lies Ben Jonson
he gives it to Mr. Shakspeare to make up, who presently write,
"That, while he liv'd was a slow thing,
“This stuff,” adds Mr. Gifford, “is copied from the Ashmole MS. 38. ”—-Gifford's Ben Jonson, vol. i. Memoirs, p. lxxx. note.
The next may be said to be rather of a "better leer."
Verses by Ben Jonson and Shakspeare, occasioned by the motto to the Globe Theatre-Totus mundus agit histrionem.
"If, but stage actors, all the world displays,
Where shall we find spectators of their plays?"
"Little, or much, of what we see, we do;
We are all both actors and spectators too.”
"Poetical Characteristics, Svo. MS. vol. i. some time in the Harleian Library; which volume was returned to its owner."
"That Shakspeare and Ben Jonson were intimate," observes Dr. Berkenhout, "appears from the following letter, written by G. Peel, a dramatic poet, to his friend Marle :—
• Friend Marle,
'I never longed for thy company more than last night; we were all very merrye at the Globe, when Ned Alleyn did not scruple to affy rme pleasantely to thy friend Will, that he had stolen his speeche about the qualityes of an actor's excellencye, in Hamlet hys tragedye, from conversations many fold which had passed between them, and opinyons given by Alleyn touchinge the subject. Shakspeare did not take this talke in good sorte; but Jonson put an end to the strife, wittylie remarking, This affaire needeth no contentione; you stole it from Ned, no doubt; do not marvel: have you not seen him act tymes out of number?
'G. PEEL.' "Whence I copied this letter, I do not recollect; but I remember that at the time of transcribing it, I bad no doubt of its authenticity."-Biographia Literaria, p. 399, 400. 4to. 1777.
I believe the first appearance of this letter was in the Annual Register for 1770, whence it was copied into the Biographia Britannica, and in both these works it commences in the following manner: "I must desyre that my syster hyr watche, and the cookerie book you promysed, may be sente bye the man --I never longed, &c." Of the four, this is the only anecdote worth preserving; but I apprehend it to be a mere forgery,
even by such grave characters as Dugdale and Wake. * _It was natural, therefore, for Shakspeare, who had been under some obligation to James, to express his sense of it in a similar way, and he has accordingly, through the medium of his Macbeth, which we conceive to have been performed in 1606, represented James as descended from Banquo, a character which, for this purpose, he has drawn, contrary to his historical authorities, noble and blameless. James, as Dr. Farmer thinks, was so delighted with the line which painted him as carrying "twofold balls and treble sceptres," that it was on this occasion he was induced to acknowledge the compliment by a letter to the bard from his own hand; an anecdote which seems entitled to full credit, as it originated, Oldys tells us, with Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham, who had it immediately from Sir William D'Avenant, in whose hands the letter long remained.
This year has been also rendered memorable in the biography of our poet by the publication of a drama called "The Return from Parnassus," which had been acted by the students of St. John's College, Cambridge, as early as 1602. To a passage in this very curious production is to be ascribed all the idle tales which have been circulated with so much industry and avidity relative to a supposed quarrel between our author and Ben Jonson, in doing which, though the principal object has been to substantiate a charge of envy and malignancy against the latter, the mode in which the attempt is executed has been such as would, were the premises true, reflect no credit on the former. But the whole is a tissue of the most groundless and indefensible scandal, and we stand aghast at the motives which could induce such persevering hostility against the very man who, more than all others, had been the steady and professed eulogist of the poet whom these commentators sally forth to protect.
The passage, however, as equally applicable and important to both these great men, it will be necessary to transcribe. Burbage and Kempe, Shakspeare's fellow-comedians, are introduced conversing about the histrionic powers of the students of Cambridge, the latter ridiculing and the former defending their attempts, by observing, "that a little teaching will mend their faults; and it may be, besides, they will be able to pen a part;" to which Kempe, who seems here an object of irony, replies,
"Few of the university pen plays well; they smell too much of that writer Ovid, and that writer Metamorphosis, and talk too much of Proserpina and Jupiter. Why here's our fellow Shakspeare put them (the University poets) all down, ay, and Ben Jonson too. O that Ben Jonson is a pestilent fellow; he brought up Horace, giving the poets a pill, but our fellow Shakspeare has given him a purge that made him bewray his credit."+
"When an object is placed too near to the eye," observes Mr. Gilchrist, commenting on this quotation, "the vision is strained and impaired, and the object obscured or distorted: if the commentators had viewed this passage as others use,' they would have found in the numerous dramas published anterior to the above passage, the instruments by which he put Ben down; and, in their various excellence, the means by which he threw the claims of his competitor into the shade. The passage has no reference to personal animosity; it was a just testimony to the superior merit of the poet of nature,' over the writings of more learned candidates for fame;' and the well-merited compliment is very appropriately put into the mouth of Will Kempe, one of Shakspeare's fellows." +
It is remarkable, that with the exception of Rowe, who, however, soon retracted the accusation, none of the editors of, and commentators on, Shakspeare had, previous to Steevens, attempted to prove Jonson the libeller of his friend. It remained therefore for his commentators of the last half century to undertake the noble task of heaping a thousand groundless calumnies on the defenceless head of Shakspeare's dearest friend, on him whom he most admired, and by whom he was best beloved! The iteration of these charges, under every form and shape,
Wake, in his "Rex Platonicus, sive de potentiis, principis Jacobi regis ad Acad. Oxon. adventu, anno 1605," speaking of the prophecy of the Weird Sisters, says, "Vaticinii veritatem rerum eventus comprobavit Banquonis enim e stirpe potentissimus Jacobus oriundus." Gilchrist's Examination, p. 15, 16.
† Ancient British Drama, vol. i. p. 64. Act iv. sc. 3.
and connected with a commentary rendered popular by the text to which it was appended, had totally poisoned the public mind, when Mr. Gilchrist, and, still more amply, Mr. Gifford, by hunting these gentlemen through all their windings and doublings, through all the channels to which they had recourse for defamation, have produced a refutation of their charges, and a detection of their practices, more complete, perhaps, than any other instance of the kind on literary record.* Truly delightful must it be to every lover of Shakspeare and of human nature, to find that the affectionate confidence of our bard was not thrown away, was not placed on a man worthless and insensible of the gift, but was returned by honest Ben, however occasionally rough in his manner and temper, with an attachment amounting to enthusiasm, with a steadiness which neither years nor infirmities could shake. †
On the last day of the year 1607, our poet buried at the church of St. Saviour's Southwark, his brother Edmond, who, with singular precision, is entered in the register of that parish as "Edmond Shakspeare, a player," so that, as Mr. Chalmers has observed, "there were two Shakspeares on the stage during the same period."
He had likewise married, on the fifth of June of this year, his favourite daughter Susanna, to Dr. John Hall, a physician of considerable skill and reputation in his profession, which he exercised at Stratford, residing during his father-in-law's life-time in the old town, but, on his death, removing to New Place, which, with the chief part of his property, had been left by the poet to Mrs. Hall. Susanna was, on her nuptials with Dr. Hall, twenty-five years of age, and there can be little doubt but that her father was present at the celebration of an event so materially affecting the happiness of his child.
It is highly probable, that, independent of his regular annual visit, family
* One of these refutations, as including a complete detection of the fallacious grounds on which a wellknown anecdote relative to Shakspeare and Jonson has been founded, it will be useful as well as entertaining to transcribe.
* “Hales of Eaton,” observes Mr. Gifford, “was reported to have said (though the matter was not much in Hales of Eaton's way), that there was no subject of which any person ever writ, but he would produce it much better done by Shakspeare,' p. 16.—Shakspeare, vol. i. edit. 1593. This is told by Dryden, 1667. The next version is by Tate, 1680. Our learned Hales was wont to assert, that since the time of Orpheus no common place has been touched upon, where Shakspeare has not performed as well.' Next comes the illustrious Gildon (of Dunciad memory), and he models the story thus, from Dryden, as he says, with a salvo for the accuracy of his recollection! Mr. Hales of Eaton affirmed, that he would shew all the poets of antiquity outdone by Shakspeare.-The enemies of Shakspeare would by no means yield to this; so that it came to a trial of skill. The place agreed on for the dispute was Mr. Hales's chamber at Eton. A great many books were sent down by the enemies of this poet, and on the appointed day my lord Falkland, sir John Suckling, and all the persons of quality that had wit and learning, met there, and upon a thorough disquisition of the point, the judges chosen out of this assembly unanimously gave the preference to Shakspeare, and the Greek and Roman poets were adjudged to vail at least their glory in that to the English poet.' P. 17.
"The story now reached Rowe; and as it was discovered about this time, that the praise of Shakspeare was worth nothing unless coupled with the abuse of Jonson, it puts on this form. Mr. Hales,, who had sate still some time, hearing Ben reproach Shakspeare with the want of learning, and ignorance of the ancients, told him, at last.' &c. Thus it stood in the first edition: but Mr. Rowe was an honest man, and having found occasion to change his mind before the appearance of the second edition, he struck the pas sage out, and inserted in its stead,- sir John Suckling, who was a professed admirer of Shakspeare, had undertaken, with some warmth, his defence against Ben Jonson, when Mr. Hales,' &c. &c.—
Thus we have the Fable of the Three Black Crows! and thus a simple observation of Mr. Hales (which in all probability he never made), is dramatised, at length, into a scene of obloquy against our author! A tissue of mere dotage scarcely deserves unravelling; but it may be just observed, that when Jonson was seized with his last illness (after which he certainly never went to Mr. Hales's chamber, at Eton,' or elsewhere), the two grave judges, Suckling and Falkland, who sat on the merits of all the Greek and Roman poets, and decided with such convincing effect, were, the first in the twelfth, and the second in the fifteenth year of their ages!-But the chief mistake lies with Dryden, whose memory was always subservient to the passions of the day; the words which he has put into the mouth of Mr. Hales being, in fact, the property of Jonson. Long before Suckling and Falkland were out of leading-strings, he had told the world, that Shakspeare surpassed not only all his contemporary poets, but even those of Greece and Rome:and if Mr. Hales used these words, without giving the credit of them to Jonson, he was, to say the least of it, a bold plagiarist.”—Vol. i. p. celxii.
"It is my fixed persuasion," says Mr. Gifford (not lightly adopted, but deduced from a wide examination of the subject), that they (Jonson and Shakspeare) were friends and associates till the latter finally retired-that no feud, no jealousy ever disturbed their connection-that Shakspeare was pleased with Jonson, and that Jonson loved and admired Shakspeare.”—Vol, i. p. ccli.
Vide Wheler's Guide, p. 27.
occurrences frequently drew Shakspeare from London to the purer atmosphere of his native fields; for, in the year succeeding the marriage of his daughter, two events of this kind took place, of which one required his personal attendance. On the 21st of February, 1608, his granddaughter Elizabeth, daughter of Dr. Hall, was baptized; and, on the 16th of the October following, he stood godfather for William Walker, the son of Henry Walker of Stratford, remembering the child in his will, with twenty shillings in gold, under the title of his "godson William Walker."
The year 1609 is sufficiently commemorated by the general opinion, that, at this period, Shakspeare planted the Mulberry Tree, whose premature fate has been recorded in a preceding note.
"That Shakspeare planted this tree," "observes Mr. Malone, "is as well authenticated as any thing of that nature can be. The Rev. Mr. Davenport informs me, that Mr. Hugh Tay (the father of his clerk), who is now eighty-five years old and an alderman of Warwick, where he at present resides, says, he lived, when a boy, at the next house to New Place; that his famly had inhabited the house for almost three hundred years; that it was transmitted from father to son during the last and the present century; that this tree (of the fruit of which he had often eaten in his younger days, some of its branches hanging over his father's garden), was planted by Shakspeare; and that till this was planted, there was no mulberry-tree in that neighbourhood. Mr Taylor adds, that he was frequently, when a boy, at New Place, and that this tradition was preserved in the Clopton family, as well as in his own."
That it was planted in the year above-mentioned, seems established by the facts. that, previous to the epoch in question, mulberry-trees, though not absolutely unknown in this country, were extremely scarce; and that, in 1609, King James, with a view to the encouragement of the silk manufacture, imported many hundred thousand of these trees from France, dispersing them all over England. accompanied by circular letters, written to induce the inhabitants to cultivate so useful, and at the same time so ornamental, a production of the vegetable world. It may safely be inferred, therefore, that our poet, on his visit this year to Stratford, had, in deference to the recommendation of his sovereign, as well as from his own taste and inclination, embellished his garden with this elegant tree. With the exception of a Writ, issued out of the Stratford Court of Record, in June, 1610, for a small debt due to our author, scarcely a vestige of his existence. apart from his works, can be found for the next three years. This writ, and another issued the preceding year for a similar purpose, have the subjoined signature of Greene, being that of Thomas Greene, Esq., a cousin of the poet's; who. though resident in Stratford, and clerk to its corporation, had at the same time chambers in the Middle Temple, and was a barrister in Chancery. He is entitled to this notice, as being not only the relation, but the intimate friend of Shakspeare. We now approach the last year of Shakspeare's abode in London, which, there is every reason to suppose, continued to be in that part of it where we found him in 1596; where he assuredly was, according to Malone, in 1608, and where he no doubt remained, until, as a resident, he quitted the capital for ever.* Before he took this step, however, he became the purchaser of a tenement in Blackfriars, for which, according to a deed still extant, he agreed to give one Henry Walker the sum of 1407., of which he paid 807. down, and mortgaged the premises for the remainder. The property acquired by this transaction, which took place on the 10th of March, 1613, is in his will bequeathed to his daughter Susanna, and being there described as "that messuage or tenement, with the appurtenances, wherein John Robinson dwelleth, situate, lying, and being, in the Blackfriars in London, near the Wardrobe," was probably let to this tenant soon after the purchase.
Among the arrangements which such a change of situation would almost necessarily require, it is reasonable to imagine, that his property in the Globe theatre
Malone's Inquiry, p. 216.
SHAKSPEARE AND HIS TIMES.
would not be forgotten; but as this is neither mentioned in his will, nor he himself once noticed in the transactions of the theatre for 1613, we are entitled to infer, that he disposed of his interest in the concern previous to his leaving London. That this event took place before the close of 1613, in all probability during the summer of the year, not only this circumstance relative to the theatre, and the general tradition, that a few years anterior to his death, he had left the metropolis for "ease, retirement, and the conversation of his friends" at Stratford, but two other circumstances of importance, will lead us to conclude. For, in the first place, it has been calculated that, at this period, his income from real and personal property was such, as to enable him to live handsomely in the country, independent of any profit from the stage;* and secondly, we have found sufficient data for believing, that his literary career was terminated by the production of The Twelfth Night, and that this play was written in 1613.
These considerations, when united, impress us with a perfect conviction, that when Shakspeare bade adieu to London, he left it predetermined to devote the residue of his days exclusively to the cultivation of social and domestic happiness in the shades of retirement.
⚫ Gildon says that Shakspeare left behind him an estate of 3007. per annum, equal to at least 10007. per "If," he adds, "we rate the ann. at this day; but Mr. Malone doubts "whether all his property, real and personal, amounted to much more than 2001. per ann. which yet was a considerable fortune in those days.
New Place with the appurtenances, and our poet's other houses in Stratford, at 607. a year, and his house, &c. in the Blackfriars, (for which he paid 1407.) at 207. a year, we have a rent-roll of 1507. per ann. Of his personal property it is not now possible to form any accurate estimate; but if we rate it at 5001., money then bearing an interest of 107. per cent. Shakspeare's total income was 2007. per ann.'