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Pretence to give the fame Creft: But Shakespeare's Clowns and Fops come all of a different Houfe: they are no farther allied to one another than as Man to Man, Members of the fame Species: but as different in Features and Lineaments of Character, as we are from one another in Face, or Complexion. But I am unawares launching into his Character as a Writer, before I have faid what I intended of him as a private Member of the Republick.

Mr. Rowe has very juftly obferved, that People are fond of difcovering any little perfonal Story of the Great Men of Antiquity; and that the common Accidents of their Lives naturally become the Subject of our critical Enquiries: That however trifling fuch a Curiofity at the firft View may appear, yet, as for what relates to Men of Letters, the Knowledge of an Author may, perhaps, fometimes conduce to the better understanding his works: And, indeed, this Author's Works, from the bad Treatment he has met with from Copyifts and Editors, have fo long wanted a Comment, that one would zealously embrace every Method of Information, that could contribute to recover them from the Injuries with which they have fo long lain o'erwhelm'd.

"Tis certain, that if we have firft admired the Man in his Writings, his Cafe is fo circumftanced, that we muft naturally admire the Writings in the Man: That if we go back to take a View of his Education, and the Employment in Life which Fortune had cut out for him, we shall retain the ftronger Ideas of his extenfive Genius.

His Father, we are told, was a confiderable Dealer in Wool; but having no fewer than ten Children, of whom our Shakespeare was the eldeft, the best Education he could afford him was no better than to qualify him for his own Bufinefs, and Employment. I cannot affirm with any Certainty how long his Father liv'd; but I take him to be the fame Mr. John Shakespeare who was living in the Year 1599, and who then, in Honour of his Son, took out an Extract of his FamilyArms from the Herald's Office; by which it appears,

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that he had been Officer and Bailiff of Stratford upon Avon in Warwickshire; and that he enjoyed fome he reditary Lands and Tenements, the Reward of his Great Grandfather's faithful and approved Service to King Henry VII..

Be this as it will, our Shakespeare, it feems, was bred for fome Time at a Free-School; the very FreeSchool, I prefume, founded at Stratford where, we are told, he acquired what Latin he was Mafter of: but, that his Father being obliged, thro' Narrowness of Circumftance, to withdraw him too o foon from thence, he was thereby unhappily prevented from making any Proficiency in the dead Languages: A Point that will deferve fome little Difcuffion in the Sequel of this Differtation.

How long he continued in his Father's Way of Bufinefs, either as an Affiftant to him, or on his own proper Account, no Notices are left to inform us: nor have I been able to learn precifely at what Period of Life he quitted his native Stratford, and began his Acquaintance with London and the Stage.

In order to fettle in the World after a Family-manner, he thought fit, Mr. Rowe acquaints us, to marry while he was yet very young. It is certain, he did fo: for by the Monument, in Stratford Church, erected to the Memory of his Daughter Sufanna, the Wife of John Hall, Gentleman, it appears, that he died on the 2d Day of July, in the Year 1649, aged 66. So that she was born in 1583, when her Father could not be full 19 Years old; who was himself born in the Year 1564. Nor was the his eldeft Child, for he had another Daughter, Judith, who was born before her, and who was married to one Mr. Thomas Quiney. So that Shakespeare must have entered into Wedlock by that Time he was turned of feventeen Years.

Whether the Force of Inclination merely, or some concurring Circumftance of Convenience in the Match, prompted him to marry fo early, is not eafy to be determined at this Distance: but 'tis probable, a View of Intereft might partly fway his Conduct in this Point: for he married the daughter of one Hathaway, a fub


ftantial Yeoman in his Neighbourhood, and she had the Start of him in Age no lefs than eight Years. She furvived him notwithstanding, seven Seafons, and died that very year in which the Players publifhed the first Edition of his Works in Folio, Anno Dom. 1623, at the Age of 67 Years, as we likewife learn from her Monument in Stratford Church.

How long he continued in this kind of Settlement, upon his own Native Spot, is not more eafily to be determined. But if the Tradition be true, of that Extravagance which forced him both to quit his Country and Way of Living; to wit, his being engaged, with a Knot of young Deer-ftealers, to rob the Park of Sir Thomas Lucy of Cherlecot near Stratford: the Enterprize favours fo much of Youth and Levity, we may reasonably fuppofe it was before he could write full Man. Befides, confidering he has left us fix and thirty Plays, at leaft, avowed to be genuine; and confidering too, that he had retired from the Stage, to fpend the latter Part of his Days at his own Native Stratford; the Interval of Time, neceffarily required for the finishing fo many Dramatic Pieces, obliges us to fuppofe he threw himself very early upon the Play-houfe. And as he could, probably, contract no Acquaintance with the Drama, while he was driving on the Affair of Wool at home; fome Time must be loft, even after he had commenced Player, before he could attain Knowledge enough in the Science to qualify himself for turning


It has been obferved by Mr. Rowe, that amongst other Extravagancies which our Author has given to his Sir John Falftaffe, in the Merry Wives of Windfor, he has made him a Deer-ftealer; and that he might at the fame Time remember his Warwickfbire Profecutor under the Name of Juftice Shallow, he has given him very near the fame Coat of Arms, which Dugdale, in his Antiquities of that County, defcribes for a Family there. There are two Coats, I obferve, in Dugdale, where three Silver Fishes are borne in the Name of Lucy; and another Coat, to the Monument of Thomas Lucy, Son of Sir William Lucy, in which are

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quarter'd in four feveral Divifions, twelve little Fishes, three in each Divifion, probably Luces. This very Coat, indeed, feems alluded to in Shallow's giving the dozen White Luces, and in Slender faying he may quarter. When I confider the exceeding Candour and Good-nature of our Author, (which inclin'd 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 ;) and that he fhould throw this humorous Piece of Satire at his Prosecutor, at least twenty Years after the Provocation given; I am confidently perfuaded it must be owing to an unforgiving Rancour on the Profecutor's Side: and if This was the Cafe, it were Pity but the Difgrace of fuch an Inveteracy fhould remain as a lafting Reproach, and Shallow ftand as a Mark of Ridicule to ftigmatize his Malice.

It is faid, our Author spent fome Years before his Death, in Eafe, Retirement, and the Converfation of his Friends, at his Native Stratford. I could never pick up any certain Intelligence, when He relinquifh'd the Stage. I know, it has been mistakenly thought, by fome, that Spenfer's Thalia, in his Tears of his Mufes, where the laments the Lofs of her Willy in the Comic Scene, has been apply'd to our Author's quitting the Stage. But Spenfer himfelf, 'tis well known, quitted the Stage of Life in the Year 1598; and, five Years after this, we find Shakespeare's Name among the Actors in Ben Johnson's Sejanus, which firft made its Appearance in the Year 1603. Nor, furely, could he then have any thoughts of retiring, fince, that very Year, a Licence under the Privy-Seal was granted by K. James I. to him and Fletcher, Burbage, Philippes, Hemings, Condel, &c. authorizing them to exercife the Art of playing Comedies, Tragedies, &c. as well at their ufual Houfe called the Globe on the other Side of the Water, as in any other Parts of the Kingdom, during his Majesty's Pleasure: (A copy of which Licence is preferved in Rymer's Fœdera.) Again, 'tis certain, that Shakespeare did not exhibit his Macbeth, till after the union was brought about, and till after K. James I.


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had begun to touch for the Evil: for 'tis plain, he has inferted Compliments, on both thofe Accounts, upon his Royal Mafter in that Tragedy. Nor, indeed, could. the Number of the Dramatic Pieces, he produced, admit of his retiring near fo early as that Period. So that what Spenfer there fays, if it relate at all to Shakefpeare, muft hint at fome occafional Recefs he made for a Time upon a Difguft taken: or the Willy, there mentioned, muft relate to fome other favourite Poet. I believe, we may fafely determine that he had not quitted in the Year 1610. For in his Tempeft, our Author makes mention of the Bermuda Islands, which were unknown to the English, till, in 1606, Sir John Summers made a Voyage to North-America, and difcovered them: and afterwards invited fome of his Countrymen to fettle a Plantation there. That he became the pri vate Gentleman, at least three Years before his Deceafe, is pretty obvious from another Circumftance: I mean, from that remarkable and well-known Story, which Mr. Rowe has given us of our Author's Intimacy with Mr. Jahn Combe, an old Gentleman noted thereabouts for his Wealth and Ufury: and upon whom Shakespeare made the following facetious Epitaph..

Ten in the hundred lies bere ingrav'd,
'Tis a hundred to ten his Soul is not fav'd;
If any Man afk who lies in this Tomb,

Ob! oh! quoth the Devil, 'tis my John-a-Combe.

This farcaftical Piece of Wit was, at the Gentleman's own Requeft, thrown out extemporally in his Company. And this Mr. John Combe I take to be the fame, who, by Dugdale in his Antiquities of Warwickfbire, is faid to have dy'd in the Year 1614, and for whom at the upper-end of the Quire, of the Guild of the Holy Crofs at Stratford, a fair Monument is erected, having a Statue thereon cut in Alabafter, and in a Gown, with this Epitaph. "Here lyeth interr'd "the Body of John Combe Efq; who dy'd the 10th of "July, 1614, who bequeath'd feveral Annual Charities "to the Parish of Stratford, and 100l. to be lent to

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