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his Life of Dr. Bathurst
, with some hear fay particulars concerning Shakespeare from the papers of Aubrey, which had been in the hands of Wood; and I ought not to suppress them as the last seems to make against my doctrine. They came originally, I find, on consulting the MS. from one Mr. Beefion: and I am sure Mr. Warton, whom I have the honour to call my friend, and an associate in the question, will be in no pain about their credit.
“ William Shakefpeare's father was a butcher,-while he was a boy he exercised his father's trade, but when he killed a calf, he would do it in a high style, and make a speech. This William being inclined natu'ally to poetry and acting, came to London, I guess, about eighteen, and was an actor in one of the playhouses, and did act exceedingly well. He began early to make eilays in dramatique poetry. The humour of the Constable in the Mid;ummer Night's Dream le happen'd to take at Crendon * in Bucks.-I think, I have been told, that he left near three hundred pounds to a filer. He understood Larin pretty well, For he had been in his younger years a schoolmaster in the country.'
I will be short in my animadversions; and take them in their order.
The account of the trade of the family is not only contrary to all other tradition, but, as it may feem, to the inftrument from the Herald's office, so frequently reprinted.-Shakespeare most certainly went to London, and commenced actor through neceflity, not natural inclination.-Nor bave we any reason to fuppofe, that he did act, exceedingly well. Rowe tells us from the information of Bettertoil, who was inquisitive into this point, and had very early opportunities of enquiry from Sir W. Davenant, that he was no exiyoordinary actor; arid that the top of his performance v. as the Ghost in his owu Hamlet. Yet this chef d' ceuvre did not pleale: I will give you an original ilioke at it. Dr. Lodge, who was for ever pcftering the town with pamphlets, published in the year 1996, ið its Miferie, and the Worids
* This place is not met with in Spelman's Villare, or in Adam's Index; nor in the first and the last performance of this fort, Speed's Tallis, and Wailey's Gazetteer: perhaps, however, it may be meant under the name of Crandon;- but the inquiry is of no importance. - It should, I think, le written Crodendon; though better antiquaries than Aubrey have acquiefced in the vulgar corrup
Madnesse, discovering the Devils incarnat of this Age, 4to. One of these devils is Hate-virtus, or Sorrow for another man's good fuccelle, who, says the doctor, is “a foule lubber, and looks as pale as the visard of the Ghost, which cried fo miserably at the theatre, like an oifter-wife, Hamlet revenge *.” Thus you see Mr. Holt's supposed proof, in the appendix to the sate edition, that Hamlet was written after 1597, or perhaps 1602, will by no means hold good; whatever might be the case of the particular passage on which it is founded.
Nor does it appear, that Shakespeare did begin early to make effays in dramatique poetry: the Arraignment of Paris, 1584, which hath so often been ascribed to him on the credit of Kirkman and Winstanley t, was written by George Pcele; and Shakespeare is not met with, even as an aliftant, 'till at least seven years afterward I. - Nash in his epiltle to
• To this observation of Dr. Farmer it may be added, that the play of Hamlet was better known by this scene, than by any other. in Decker's Satiromaffix the following paffage occurs.
Alinius. " Would I were hang'd if I can call you any names but cap• tain, and Turra."
“ No, fye; my name's Harnlet Revenge: thou hast been at Paris Garden, halt thou not?'"
Again, in Wefiward Hoe, by Decker and Webster, 1607.
STEEVENS. Dr. Farmer's observation may be further confirmed by the fol. lowing pallage in an anonymous play, called A Warning for faire Women, 1599. We also learn from it the usual dress of the itage ghosts of that time.
A filthie whining ghost
" And cries vindišta-revenge, revenge." The leathern pilch, I suppose, was a theatrical substitute for armour.
MALONE. * These people, who were the Curls of the last age, ascribe likewife to our author those miserable performances, Mucedorus, and the Merry Devil of Edmonton.
| Mr. Pope afferts“ The troublefome Raigne of King John," in 2 parts, 1611, to have been written by Shakespeare and Rowley :-which edition is a mere copy of another in black letter, 159, But I find his affertion is somewhat to be doubted: for the old edition hath no name of author at all; and that of 1611, the initials only, W', Sh, in the title-page.
the gentlemen students of both universities, prefixed to
In the next place, unfortunately, there is neither such a
And to close the whole, it is not possible, according to Aubrey himself, that Shakespeare could have been some years a schoolmafler in the country: on which circumstance only the supposition of his learning is professedly founded. He was not surely very young; when he was employed to kill calves, and he commenced player about eighteen! - The
* Peele seems to have been taken into the patronage of the
We had lately in a periodical pamphlet, called, The Theatrical
before. “ As Anacreon died by the
truth is, that he left his father, for a wife, a year fooner; and had at least two children born at Stratford before he retired from thence to London. It is therefore sufficiently clear, that poor Anthony had too much reason for his character of Aubrey: we find it in his own account of his life, published by Hearne, which I would earnestly recommend to any hypochondriack:
“ A pretender to antiquities, roving, magotie-headed, and sometimes little better than crased: and being exceedingly credulous, would stuff his many letters sent to A. W. with folliries and misinformations.” p. 577. FARMER.
The late Mr. Thomas Olborne, bookseller, (whose exploits are celebrated by the author of the Dunciad) being ignorant in what forin or language our Paradise Lost was written, employed one of bis garreteers to render it from a French tranflation into English prose. Leít, hereafter, the compositions of Shakespeare should be brought back into their native tongue from the version of Monlieur le Comte de Catuelan, le Tourneur, &c. it may be necessary to observe, that all the following particulars, extracted from the preface of these gentlemen, are as little founded in truth as their description of the Jubilee at Stratford, which they have been taught to represent as an affair of general approbation and national concern.
They say, that Shakespeare came to London without a plan, and finding himlelf at the door of a theatre, instinctively stopped there, and offered himself to be a holder of horfés:-that he was remarkable for his excellent performance of the Ghost in Hamlet:- that he borrowed nothing from preceding writers:-that all on a sudden he left the stage, and returned without eclat into his native county: that his monument at Stratford is of copper:-that the courtiers of James I. paid several compliments to him which are still preserved:- that he relieved a widow, who, together with her numerous family, was involved in a ruinous lawfuit:--that bis editors have restored many passages in his plays, by the afliitance of the manuscripts he left behind him, &c. &c.
Let me not however forget the justice due to these ingenious Frenchmen, whose fkill and fidelity in the execution of their very difficult undertaking, is only exceeded by such a display of candour as would serve to cover the imperfections of much less elegant and judicious writers.. STEEVENS.
* Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials of the Shak
speare family; transcribed from the Register-book of the Parish of Stratford upon Avon, Warwickfhire.
daughter of John Shaksperę, was baptized Sept. 15, 1558. Margaret, daughter of John Shakspere, was buried April
30, 1563 | WILLIAM, son of John Shakfpere, was baptized April
26, 1564. Gilbert, son of John Shakspere, was baptized Oct. 13, 1566. § Jone, daughter of John Shakfpere, was baptized April
15, 1569. Anne, daughter of Mr. John Shakspere, was baptized Sept.
Richard, son of Mr. John Shakfpere, was baptized March
1580. Elizabeth, daughter of Anthony Shakspere, of Hampton,
was baptized Feb. 10, 1583. Susanna, daughter of WILLIAM SHAKSPERE, was bap
tized May 26, 1583
SHAKSPERE, were baptized Feb. 2, 1584.
11, 1588. Thomas Greene, alias Shakspere, was buried March 6, 1589. Humphrey, son of John Shakspere, was baptized May 24,
* With this extract from the register of Stratford, I was favour-
Born April 23, 1564.