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The text of the present edition is formed upon those of Steevens and Malone, occasionally com pared with the early editions; and the satisfaction arising from a rejection of modern unwarranted deviations from the old copies has not unfrequently been the reward of this labour.
strictures at the end of each play have been retain- | ed in compliance with custom, but not without an occasional note of dissent. We may suppose that Johnson himself did not estimate these observations very highly, for he tells us that in the plays which are condemned there may be much to be praised, and in those which are praised much to be condemned !' The preliminary remarks to each play are augFar be it from us to undervalue or speak slightingly mented with extracts from the more recent writers of our great moralist; but his most strenuous admirers upon Shakspeare, and generally contain brief critimust acknowledge that the construction of his mind cal observations which are in many instances op. incapacitated him from forming a true judgment of posed to the dictum of Dr. Johnson. Some of these the creations of one who was of imagination all are extracted from the Lectures on the Drama, by compact,' no less than his physical defects prevent-the distinguished German critic, A. W. Schlegel, ed him from relishing the beautiful and harmonious in nature and art.
a writer to whom the nation is deeply indebted, for having pointed out the characteristic excellencies of the great Poet of nature, in an eloquent and philosophical spirit of criticism; which, though it may sometimes be thought a little tinctured with mysdue meed of praise; and has, no doubt, tended to tical enthusiasm, has dealt out to Shakspeare his dissipate the prejudices of some neighbouring nations who have been too long wilfully blind to his
Quid valet ad surdas si cantet Phemius aures? Quid cæcum Thamyram picta tabella juvat?' It has been the studious endeavour of the Editor to avoid those splenetic and insulting reflections upon the errors of the commentators, where it has been his good fortune to detect them, which have been sometimes too captiously indulged in by labourers in this field of verbal criticism. Indeed it would ill become him to speak contemptuously of those who, Mr. Gifford, as it appears, once proposed to fawith all their defects, have deserved the gratitude of admirably that excellent critic would have perform vour the public with an edition of Shakspeare: how the age; for it is chiefly owing to the labours of Tyr-ed the task the world need not now be told. The whitt, Warton, Percy, Steevens, Farmer, and their successors, that attention has been drawn to the mine of wealth which our early literature affords; and no one will affect to deny that a recurrence to it has not been attended with beneficial effects, if it
has not raised us in the moral scale of nations.
Editor, who has been frequently indebted to the remarks on the language of our great Poet which occur in the notes to the works of Ben Jonson and Massinger, may be permitted to anticipate the public regret that these humble labours were not preThe plan pursued in the selection, abridgment, console himself with having used his best endeavour sented by that more skilful hand. As it is, he must and concentration of the notes of others, precluded to accomplish the task which he was solicited to the necessity of affixing the names of the commen-undertake; had his power equalled his desire to tators from whom the information was borrowed; render it useful and acceptable, the work would and, excepting in a few cases of controversial dis- have been more worthy of the public favour, and of eussion, and of some critical observations, authori- the Poet whom he and all unite in idolizingties are not given. The very curious and valuable Illustrations of Shakspeare by Mr. Douce have been laid under frequent contribution; the obligation has not always been expressed; and it is therefore here acknowledged with thankfulness.
It will be seen that the Editor has not thought, with some of his predecessors, that the text of Shakspeare was 'fixed' in any particular edition beyond the hope or probability of future amendment.' He has rather coincided with the opinion of Mr. Gifford, that those would deserve well of the public who should bring back some readings which Steevens discarded, and reject others which he has dopted.'
The bard of every age and clime,
Of genius fruitful and of soul sublime,
REMARKS UPON HIS DRAMATIC WRITINGS.
THEREVER any extraordinary display of hu
W man intellect has been made, there will human reports of unsubstantial tradition, or to the still
of the most richly endowed with intellect of the human species, who ran his mortal race in our own country, and who stands separated from us by no very great intervention of time, the causes may not be difficult to be ascertained. William Shakspeare was an actor and a writer of plays; in neither of which characters, however he might excel in them, could he be lifted high in the estimation of his contemporaries. He was honoured, indeed, with the friendship of nobles, and the patronage of monarchs: his theatre was frequented by the wits of the metropolis; and he associated with the most intellec tual of his times. But the spirit of the age was against him; and, in opposition to it, he could not become the subject of any general or comprehensive interest. The nation, in short, knew little and cared less about him. During his life, and for some
tory outline, we must have recourse to the vague curiosity, at one period or the other, be busy to ob- more shadowy inferences of lawless and vagabond tain some personal acquaintance with the distin-conjecture. Of this remarkable ignorance of one guished mortal whom Heaven had been pleased to endow with a larger portion of its own ethereal energy. If the favoured man walked on the high places of the world; if he were conversant with courts; if he directed the movements of armies or of states, and thus held in his hand the fortunes and the lives of multitudes of his fellow-creatures, the interest, which he excites, will be immediate and strong he stands on an eminence where he is the mark of many eyes; and dark and unlettered indeed must be the age in which the incidents of his eventful life will not be noted, and the record of them be preserved for the instruction or the entertainment of unborn generations. But if his course were through the vale of life; if he were unmingled with the factions and the contests of the great: if the powers of his mind were devoted to the silent pursuits of literature-to the converse of philo-years after his death, inferior dramatists outran him sophy and the Muse, the possessor of the ethereal treasure may excite little of the attention of his contemporaries; may walk quietly, with a veil over his glories, to the grave; and, in other times, when the expansion of his intellectual greatness has filled the eyes of the world, it may be too late to inquire for his history as a man. The bright track of his genius indelibly remains; but the trace of his mortal footstep is soon obliterated for ever. Homer is now only a name-a solitary name, which assures us, that, at some unascertained period in the annals of mankind, a mighty mind was indulged to a human being, and gave its wonderful productions to the perpetual admiration of men, as they spring in succession in the path of time. Of Homer himself we actually know nothing; and we see only an arm of immense power thrust forth from a mass of impenetrable darkness, and holding up the hero of his song to the applauses of never-dying fame. But it may be supposed that the revolution of, perhaps, thirty centuries has collected the cloud which thus withdraws the father of poesy from our sight. Little more than two centuries has elapsed since William Shakspeare conversed with our tongue, and trod the selfsame soil with ourselves; and if it were not for the records kept by our Church in its registers of births, marriages, and burials, we should at this moment be as personally ignorant of the "sweet swan of Avon" as we are of the old minstrel and rhapsodist of Meles. That William Shakspeare was born in Stratford upon Avon; that he married and had three children; that he wrote a certain number of dramas; that he died before he had attained to old age, and was buried in his native town, are positively the only facts, in the personai nistory of this extraordinary man, of which we are certainly possessed; and, if we should be solicitous to fill up this bare and most unsatisfac
in the race of popularity; and then the flood of puritan fanaticism swept him and the stage together into temporary oblivion. On the restoration of the monarchy and the theatre, the school of France perverted our taste, and it was not till the last century was somewhat advanced that William Shakspeare arose again, as it were, from the tomb, in al. his proper majesty of light. He then became the subject of solicitous and learned inquiry: but inquiry was then too late; and all that it could reco ver, from the ravage of time, were only a few hu man fragments, which could scarcely be united into a man. To these causes of our personal ignorance of the great bard of England, must be added his own strange indifference to the celebrity of genius. When he had produced his admirable works, ignorant or heedless of their value, he abandoned them with perfect indifference to oblivion or to fame. It surpassed his thought that he could grow into the admiration of the world; and, without any refer ence to the curiosity of future ages, in which he could not conceive himself to possess an interest, he was contented to die in the arms of obscurity, as an unlaurelled burgher of a provincial town. To this combination of causes are we to attribute the scantiness of our materials for the Life of William Shakspeare. His works are in myriads of hands: he constitutes the delight of myriads of readers: his renown is coextensive with the civilization of man; and, striding across the ocean from Europe, it occupies the wide region of transatlantic empire: but he is himself only a shadow which disappoints our grasp; an undefined form which is rather intimated than discovered to the keenest searchings of our eve. Of the little however, questionable or certain, which can be told of him, we must now proceed to make the best use in our power, to write what by courtesy may be called
nis ife; and we have only to lament that the result | gious faith, has recently been made the subject of of our labour must greatly disappoint the curiosity which has been excited by the grandeur of his reputation. The slight narrative of Rowe, founded on the information obtained, in the beginning of the ast century, by the inquiries of Betterton, the famous actor, will necessarily supply us with the greater part of the materials with which we are to work.
controversy. According to the testimony of Rowe, grounded on the tradition of Stratford, the father of our Poet was a dealer in wool, or, in the provincial vocabulary of his country, a wool-driver; and such he has been deemed by all the biographers of his son, till the fact was thrown into doubt by the result of the inquisitiveness of Malone. Finding, in an old and obscure MS. purporting to record the proceedings of the bailiff's court in Stratford, our WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE, or SHAKSPERE, (for John Shakspeare designated as a glover, Malone the floating orthography of the name is properly exults over the ignorance of poor Rowe, and as attached to the one or the other of these varieties,) sumes no small degree of merit to himself as the was baptized in the church of Stratford upon Avon, discoverer of a long sought and a most important as is ascertained by the parish register, on the 26th historic truth. If he had recollected the remark of of April, 1564; and he is said to have been born on the clown in the Twelfth Night, that "a sentence the 23d of the same month, the day consecrated to is but a cheverel glove to a good wit. How quickly the tutelar saint of England. His parents, John the wrong side may be turned outwards!" he would, and Mary Shakspeare, were not of equal ranks in doubtless, have pressed the observation into his serthe community; for the former was only a respect-vice, and brought it as an irresistible attestation of able tradesman, whose ancestors cannot be traced the veracity of his old MS. into gentility, whilst the latter belonged to an an- Whatever may have been the trade of John cient and opulent house in the county of Warwick, Shakspeare, whether that of wool-merchant or of being the youngest daughter of Robert Arden of glover, it seems, with the little fortune of his wife, Wilmecote. The family of the Ardens (or Arder- to have placed him in a state of casy competence. nes, as it is written in all the old deeds,) was of In 1569 or 1570, in consequence partly of his alliconsiderable antiquity and importance, some of ance with the Ardens, and partly of his attainment them having served as high sheriffs of their county, of the prime municipal honours of his town, he and two of them (Sir John Arden and his nephew, obtained a concession of arms from the herald's the grandfather of Mrs. Shakspeare,) having en- office, a grant, which placed him and his family on joyed each a station of honour in the personal esta- the file of the gentry of England; and, in 1574, he blishment of Henry VII. The younger of these purchased two houses, with gardens and orchards Ardens was made, by his sovereign, keeper of the annexed to them, in Henley Street, in Stratford. park of Aldercar, and bailiff of the lordship of Cod- But before the year 1578, his prosperity, from nore. He obtained, also, from the crown, a valu- causes not now ascertainable, had certainly deable grant in the lease of the manor of Yoxsal, inclined; for in that year, as we find from the records Staffordshire, consisting of more than 4,600 acres, at a rent of 424. Mary Arden did not come dowerless to her plebeian husband, for she brought to him a small freehold estate called Asbies, and the sum of 6l. 133. 4. in money. The freehold consisted of a house and fifty-four acres of land; and, as far as it appears, it was the first piece of landed property which was ever possessed by the Shakspeares, Of this marriage the offspring was four sons and four daughters; of whom Joan (or, according to the orthography of that time, Jone,) and Margaret, the eldest of the children died, one in infancy and one at a somewhat more advanced age; and Gilbert, whose birth immediately succeeded to that of our Poet, is supposed by some not to have reached his maturity, and by others, to have attained to considerable longevity. Joan, the eldest of the four remaining children, and named after her deceased sister, married William Hart, a hatter in her native town; and Edmund, the youngest of the family, adopting the profession of an actor, resided in St. Saviour's parish in London; and was buried in St. Saviour's Church, on the last day of December, 1607, in his twenty-eighth year. Of Anne and Richard, whose births intervened between those of Joan and Edmund, the parish register tells the whole history, when it cords that the former was buried on the 4th of Apr 1, 1579, in the eighth year of her age, and the latte on the 4th of February, 1612-13, when he had nearly completed his thirtyninth.
of his borough, he was excused, in condescension to his poverty, from the moiety of a very moderate assessment of six shillings and eight pence, made by the members of the corporation on themselves; at the same time that he was altogether exempted from his contribution to the relief of the peor. During the remaining years of his life, his fortunes appear not to have recovered themselves; for he ceased to attend the meetings of the corporation hall, where he had once presided; and, in 1586, another person was substituted as alderman in his place, in consequence of his magisterial inefficiency. He died in the September of 1601, when his illustrious son had already attained to high celebrity; and his wife, Mary Shakspeare, surviving him for seven years, deceased in the September of 1608, the burial of the former being registered on the eighth and that of the latter on the ninth of this month, in each of these respective years.
On the 30th of June, 1564, when our Poet had not yet been three months in this breathing world, his native Stratford was visited by the plague; and, during the six succeeding months, the ravaging disease is calculated to have swept to the grave more than a seventh part of the whole population of the place. But the favoured infant reposed in security in his cradle, and breathed health amid an atmosphere of pestilence. The Genius of England may be supposed to have held the arm of the destroyer, and not to have permitted it to fall on the conse crated dwelling of his and Nature's darling. The In consequence of a document, discovered in the disease, indeed, did not overstep his charmed thresyear 1770, in the house in which, if tradition is to hold; for the name of Shakspeare is not to be found be trusted, our Poet was born, some persons having in the register of deaths throughout that period of concluded that John Shakspeare was a Roman accelerated mortality. That he survived this desoCatholic, though he had risen, by the regular gra-lating calamity of his townsmen, is all that we know dation of office, to the chief dignity of the corpora- of William Shakspeare from the day of his birth tion of Stratford, that of high bailiff; and, during till he was sent, as we are informed by Rowe, to the the whole of this period, had unquestionably con- free-school of Stratford; and was stationed there formed to the rites of the Church of England. The in the course of his education, till, in corsequence asserted fact seemed not to be very probable; and of the straitened circumstances of his father, he the document in question, which, drawn up in a was recalled to the paternal roof. As we are not testamentary form and regularly attested, zealously told at what age he was sent to school, we cannot professes the Roman faith of him in whose name it form any estimate of the time during which he respeaks, having been subjected to a rigid examina-mained there. But if he was placed under his tion by Malone, has been pronounced to be spurious. The trade of John Shakspeare, as well as his reli
Act iii. sc.
more credit than was attached to them by Anthony Wood, who knew the old gossip and was compe tent to appreciate his character. It is more proba ble that the necessity, which brought young Shakspeare from his school, retained him with his father's occupation at home, till the acquisition of a separate habitation. It is reasonable to conclude that a mind like his, ardent, excursive, and "all compact of imagination," would not be satisfied with entire mactivity; but would obtain knowledge where it could, if not from the stores of the ancients, from those at least which were supplied to him by the writers of his own country.
master when he was six years old, he might have he continued in this situation whilst he remained in continued in a state of instruction for seven or even his single state, has not been told to us, and cannot for eight years; a term sufficiently long for any therefore at this period he known. But in the abDoy, not an absolute blockhead, to acquire some-sence of information, conjecture will be busy; and thing more than the mere elements of the classical will soon cover the bare desert with unprofitable languages. We are too ignorant, however, of dates vegetation. Whilst Malone surmises that the young in these instances to speak with any confidence on Poet passed the interval, till his marriage, or a the subject; and we can only assert that seven or large portion of it, in the office of an attorney, eight of the fourteen years, which intervened be- Aubrey stations him during the same term at the tween the birth of our Poet in 1564 and the known head of a country school. But the surmises of period of his father's diminished fortune in 1578, Malone are not universally happy; and to the might very properly have been given to the advan-assertions of Aubrey* I am not disposed to attach tages of the free-school. But now the important question is to be asked-What were the attainments of our young Shakspeare at this seat of youthful instruction? Did he return to his father's house in a state of utter ignorance of classic literature? or was he as far advanced in his school-studies as boys of his age (which I take to be thirteen or four-wife made it convenient for him to remove to a teen) usually are in the common progress of our public and more reputable schools? That his scholastic attainments did not rise to the point of learning, seems to have been the general opinion of his contemporaries; and to this opinion I am willing to assent. But I cannot persuade myself that he was entirely unacquainted with the classic tongues; or that, as Farmer and his followers labour to con- In 1582, before he had completed his eighteenth vince us, he could receive the instructions, even for year, he married Anne Hathaway, the daughter, as three or four years, of a school of any character, Rowe informs us, of a substantial yeoman in the and could then depart without any knowledge be-neighbourhood of Stratford. We are unacquainted yond that of the Latin accidence. The most ac- with the precise period of their marriage, and with complished scholar may read with pleasure the the church in which it was solemnized, for in the poetic versions of the classic poets; and the less register of Stratford there is no record of the event; advanced proficient may consult bis indolence by and we are made certain of the year, in which it applying to the page of a translation of a prose occurred, only by the baptism of Susanna, the first lassic, when accuracy of quotation may not be produce of the union, on the 26th of May, 1583. required: and on evidences of this nature is sup- As young Shakspeare neither increased his fortune ported the charge which has been brought, and by this match, though he probably received some which is now generally admitted, against our im- money with his wife, nor raised himself by it in the mortal bard, of more than school-boy ignorance. community, we may conclude that he was induced He might, indeed, from necessity apply to North to it by inclination, and the impulse of love. But for the interpretation of Plutarch; but he read the youthful poet's dream of happiness does not Golding's Ovid only, as I am satisfied, for the en- seem to have been realized by the result. The tertainment of its English poetry. Ben Jonson, bride was eight years older than the bridegroom; who must have been intimately conversant with his and whatever charms she might possess to fascinate friend's classic acquisitions, tells us expressly that, the eyes of her boy-lover, she probably was defi"He had small Latin and less Greek." But, cient in those powers which are requisite to impose according to the usual plan of instruction in our a durable fetter on the heart, and to hold "in sweet schools, he must have traversed a considerable ex- captivity" a mind of the very highest order. No terft of the language of Rome, before he could charge is intimated against the lady but she is left touch even the confines of that of Greece. He in Stratford by her husband during his long resi must in short have read Ovid's Metamorphoses, dence in the metropolis; and on his death, she is and a part at least of Virgil, before he could open found to be only slightly, and, as it were, casually the grammar of the more ancient, and copious, and remembered in his will. Her second pregnancy, complex dialect. This I conceive to be a fair state- which was productive of twins, (Hamnet and Jument of the case in the question respecting Shak-dith, baptized on the 2d of February, 1584-5,) terspeare's learning. Beyond controversy he was not a scholar; but he had not profited so little by the hours, which he had passed in school, as not to be able to understand the more easy Roman authors without the assistance of a translation. If he himself had been asked, on the subject, he might have parodied his own Falstaff and have answered, "Indeed I am not a Scaliger or a Budæus, but yet no blockhead, friend." I believe also that he was not wholly unacquainted with the popular languages of France and Italy. He had abundant leisure to acquire them; and the activity and the curiosity of his mind were sufficiently strong to urge him to their acquisition. But to discuss this much agitated question would lead me beyond the limits which are prescribed to me; and, contenting myself with declaring that, in my opinion, both parties are wrong, both they who contend for our Poet's learning, and they who place his illiteracy on a level with that of John Taylor, the celebrated waterpoet, I must resume my humble and most deficient What credit can be due to this Mr. Aubrey, who narrative. The classical studies of William Shak-picked up information on the highway and scattered it speare, whatever progress he may or may not have every where as authentic? who whipped Milton at Cam made in them, were now suspended; and he was making our young Shakspeare a butcher's boy, could bridge in violation of the university statutes; and who, replaced in his father's house, when he had attained embrue his hands in the blood of calves, and represent his thirteenth or fourteenth year, to assist with his him as exulting in poetry over the convulsions of the band in the maintenance of the family. Whether dying animals
minated her pride as a mother; and we know nothing more respecting her than that, surviving her illustrious consort by rather more than seven years, she was buried on the 8th of August, 1623, being, as we are told by the inscription on her tomb, of the age of sixty-seven. Respecting the habits of life, or the occupation of our young Poet by which he obtained his subsistence, or even the place of his residence, subsequently to his marriage, not a floating syllable has been wafted to us by tradition for the gratification of our curiosity; and the history of this great man is a perfect blank till the occur rence of an event, which drove him from his native town, and gave his wonderful intellect to break out in its full lustre on the world. From the frequent allusions in his writings to the elegant sport of falconry, it has been suggested that this, possibly, might be one of his favourite amusements: and no thing can be more probable, from the active season
of his life, and his fixed habitation in the country, fant offspring. The world was spread before him, than his strong and eager passion for all the plea- like a dark ocean, m which no fortunate isle could sures of the field. As a sportsman, in his rank of be seen to glitter amid the gloomy and sullen tide. life, he would naturally become a poacher; and But he was blessed with youth and health; his then it is highly probable that he would fall into the conscience was unwounded, for the adventure for acquaintance of poachers; and, associating with which he suffered, was regarded, in the estimation them in his idler hours, would occasionally be one of his times, as a mere boy's frolick, of not greater of their fellow-marauders on the manors of their guilt than the robbing of an orchard; and his mind, rich neighbours. In one of these licentious excur- rich beyond example in the gold of heaven, could sions on the grounds of Sir Thomas Lucy of Charle- throw lustre over the black waste before him, and cote, in the immediate vicinity of Stratford, for the could people it with a beautiful creation of her own. purpose, as it is said, of stealing his deer, our We may imagine him, then, departing from his young bard was detected; and, having farther irri-home, not indeed like the great Roman captive as tated the knight by affixing a satirical ballad on him he is described by the poet
to the gates of Charlecote, he was compelled to fly before the enmity of his powerful adversary, and to seek an asylum in the capital. Malone, who is prone to doubt, wishes to question the truth of this whole narrative, and to ascribe the flight of young
Fertur pudicæ conjugis osculum,
despair; and if he indulged in sanguine expectation, the event proved him not to be a visionary. In the course of a few years, the exile of Stratford became the associate of wits, the friend of nobles, the favourite of monarchs; and in a period which still left him not in sight of old age, he returned to his birth-place in affluence, with honour, and with the plaudits of the judicious and the noble resounding in his ears.
Shakspeare from his native country to the embar- but touched with some feelings of natural sorrow, rassment of his circumstances, and the persecution yet with an unfaltering step, and with hope vigour. of his creditors. But the story of the deer-stealous at his heart. It was impossible that he should ing rests upon the uniform tradition of Stratford, and is confirmed by the character of Sir T. Lucy, who is known to have been a rigid preserver of his game, by the enmity displayed against his memory by Shakspeare in his succeeding life; and by a part of the offensive balladf itself, preserved by a Mr. Jones of Tarbick, a village near to Stratford, who obtained it from those who must have been quainted with the fact, and who could not be biased by any interest or passion to falsify or misstate it. Besides the objector, in this instance, seems not to be aware that it was easier to escape from the resentment of an offended proprietor of game, than from the avarice of a creditor: that whilst the former might be satisfied with the removal of the delinquent to a situation where he could no longer infest his parks or his warrens, the latter would pursue his debtor wherever bailiffs could find and writs could attach him. On every account, therefore, I believe the tradition, recorded by Rowe, that our Poet retired from Stratford before the exasperated power of Sir T. Lucy, and found a refuge in London, not possibly beyond the reach of the arm, but beyond the hostile purposes of his provincial antagonist.
His immediate refuge in the metropolis was the stage; to which his access, as it appears, was easy. Stratford was fond of theatrical representations, which it accommodated with its town or guildhall; and had frequently been visited by companies of players when our Poet was of an age, not only to enjoy their performances, but to form an acquaintance with their members. Thomas Greene, who was one of their distinguished actors, has been considered by some writers as a kinsman of our author's; and though he, possibly, may have been confounded by them with another Thomas Greene, a barrister, who was ungaestionably connected with the Shakspeares, he was certainly a fellow townsman of our fugitive bard's; whilst Heminge and Burbage, two of the leaders of the company in question, belonged either to Stratford or to its immediate neighbourhood. With the door of the theatre thus open to him, and under the impulse of his own natural bias, (for however in after life he may have lamented his degradation as a professional actor, it must be concluded that he now felt strong attachment to the stage,) it is not wonderful that young Shakspeare should solicit this asylum in his distress; or that he should be kindly received by men who knew him, and some of whom were connected, if not with his family, at least with his native town. The company, to which he united At this agitating crisis of his life, the situation of himself, was the Earl of Leicester's or the Queen's; young Shakspeare was certainly, in its obvious which had obtained the royal license in 1574. The aspect, severe and even terrific. Without friends place of its performances, when our Poet became to protect or assist him, he was driven, under the enrolled among its members, was the Globe on the frown of exasperated power, from his profession;. Bankside; and its managers subsequently purfrom his native fields; from the companions of his chased the theatre of Blackfriars, (the oldest theachildhood and his youth; from his wife and his in-tre in London,) which they had previously rented
The time of this eventful flight of the great bard of England cannot now be accurately determined: but we may somewhat confidently place it between the years 1585 and 1588; for in the former of these we may conclude him to have been present his family at the baptism of his twins, Hamnet and Judith; and than the latter of them we cannot well assign a later date for his arrival in London, since we know that before 1592 he had not only written two long poems, the Venus and Adonis, and the Rape of Lucrece, but had acquired no small degree of celebrity as an actor and as a dramatic writer.
for some years; and at these two theatres, the Malone was much addicted to doubt. Knowing, first of which was open in the centre for summer perhaps, that, on all the chief topics of the Grecian schools of philosophy, the great mind of Cicero faltered representations, and the last covered for those of in doubt, our commentator and critic wished, possibly, winter, were acted all the dramatic productions of to establish his claim to a superiority of intellect by the Shakspeare. That he was at first received into the same academic withholding of assent. He ought, how-company in a very subordinate situation, may be ever, to have been aware that scepticism, which is regarded not merely as probable, but as certain: sometimes the misfortune of wise men, is generally the that he ever carried a link to light the frequenters affectation of foois. of the theatre, or ever held their horses, must be rejected as an absurd tale, fabricated, no doubt, by the lovers of the marvellous, who were solicitous to obtain a contrast in the humility of his first to the pride of his subsequent fortunes. The mean and servile occupation, thus assigned to mim, was incompatible with his circumstances, even in their present afflicted state: and his relations and connee
The first stanza of this ballad, which is admitted to be genuine, may properly be preserved as a curiosity. But as it is to be found in every life of our author, with the exception of Rowe's, I shall refer my readers, to whom it could not be gratifying, to some other page for is than my own.
From Robert Greene's posthumous work, written in 1592, and Chettle's Kind Hart's Dream, published very