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As was formerly therefore observed, he who waited till the river should run dry, did not act with less reason than the editors would do, who should suspend a voluminous and complicated publication, in the vain hope of rendering it absolutely free from literary and typographical errors.

about 2680 distinct pieces of metal; which multiplied by 16, the number of pages in a sheet, will amount to 42,880-the misplacing of any one of which would inevitably cause a blunder, PLYMSELL.







IT seems to be a kind of respect due to the memory of excellent men, especially of those whom. their wit and learning have made famous, to deliver some account of themselves, as well as their works, to posterity. For this reason, how fond do we see some people of discovering any little personal story of the great men of antiquity! their families, the common accidents of their lives, and even their shape, make, and features, have been the subject of critical inquiries. How trifling soever this curiosity may seem to be, it is certainly very natural; and we are hardly satisfied with an account of any remarkable person, till we have heard him described even to the very clothes he wears. As for what relates to men of letters, the knowledge of an author may sometimes conduce to the better understanding his book; and though the works of Mr. Shakspeare may seem to many not to want a comment, yet I fancy some little ac

count of the man himself may not be thought improper to go along with them.

He was the son of Mr. John Shakspeare, and was born at Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire, in April, 1564. His family, as appears by the register and publick writings relating to that town, were of good figure and fashion there, and are mentioned as gentlemen. His father, who was a considerable dealer in wool, had so large a family, ten children

"His father, who was a considerable dealer in wool,] It appears that he had been an officer and bailiff of Stratford-uponAvon; and that he enjoyed some hereditary lands and tenements, the reward of his grandfather's faithful and approved services to King Henry VII. See the extract from the Herald's Office. THEOBALD.

The chief Magistrate of the Body Corporate of Stratford, now distinguished by the title of Mayor, was in the early charters called the High Bailiff. This office Mr. John Shakspeare filled in 1569, as appears from the following extracts from the books of the corporation, with which I have been favoured by the Rev. Mr. Davenport, Vicar of Stratford-upon-Avon:

"Jan. 10, in the 6th year of the reign of our sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth, John Shakspeare passed his Chamberlain's ac


"At the Hall holden the eleventh day of September, in the eleventh year of the reign of our sovereign lady Elizabeth, 1569, were present Mr. John Shakspeare, High Bailiff." [Then follow the names of the Aldermen and Burgesses.]

"At the Hall holden Nov. 19th, in the 21st year of the reign of our sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth, it is ordained, that every Alderman shall be taxed to pay weekly 4d. saving John Shakspeare and Robert Bruce, who shall not be taxed to pay any thing; and every burgess to pay 2d."

"At the Hall holden on the 6th day of September, in the 28th year of our sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth.

"At this Hall William Smith and Richard Courte are chosen to be Aldermen in the places of John Wheler, and John Shakspeare, for that Mr. Wheler doth desire to be put out of the company, and Mr. Shakspere doth not come to the halls, when they be warned, nor hath not done of long time."

From these extracts it may be collected, (as is observed by the gentleman above mentioned, to whose obliging attention to my

in all, that though he was his eldest son, he could give him no better education than his own employment. He had bred him, it is true, for some time at a free school," where, it is probable, he acquired what Latin he was master of: but the narrowness of his circumstances, and the want of his assistance at home, forced his father to withdraw him from thence, and unhappily prevented his further proficiency in that language. It is without controversy, that in his works we scarce find any traces of any thing that looks like an imitation of the ancients. The delicacy of his taste, and the natural bent of his own great genius, (equal, if not superior, to some of the best of theirs,) would certainly have led him to read and study them with so much pleasure, that some of their fine images would naturally have insinuated themselves into, and been mixed

inquiries I am indebted for many particulars relative to our poet's family,) that Mr. John Shakspeare in the former part of his life was in good circumstances, such persons being generally chosen into the corporation; and from his being excused [in 1579] to pay 4d. weekly, and at a subsequent period (1586) put out of the corporation, that he was then reduced in his circumstances.

It appears from a note to W. Dethick's Grant of Arms to him in 1596, now in the College of Arms, Vincent, Vol. 157, p. 24, that he was a justice of the peace, and possessed of lands and tenements to the amount of 5001.

Our poet's mother was the daughter and heir of Robert Arden of Wellingcote, in the county of Warwick, who, in the MS. above referred to, is called "a gentleman of worship." The family of Arden is a very ancient one; Robert Arden of Bromwich, Esq. being in the list of the gentry of this county, returned by the commissioners in the twelfth year of King Henry VI. A. D. 1433. Edward Arden was Sheriff to the county in 1568.-The woodland part of this county was anciently called Ardern; afterwards softened to Arden. Hence the name.


• He had bred him, it is true, for some time at a free-school,] The free-school, I presume, founded at Stratford. THEOBALD.

with his own writings; so that his not copying at least something from them, may be an argument of his never having read them. Whether his ignorance of the ancients were a disadvantage to him or no, may admit of a dispute: for though the knowledge of them might have made him more correct, yet it is not improbable but that the regularity and deference for them, which would have attended that correctness, might have restrained some of that fire, impetuosity, and even beautiful extravagance, which we admire in Shakspeare: and I believe we are better pleased with those thoughts, altogether new and uncommon, which his own imagination supplied him so abundantly with, than if he had given us the most beautiful passages out of the Greek and Latin poets, and that in the most agreeable manner that it was possible for a master of the English language to deliver them.


Upon his leaving school, he seems to have given entirely into that way of living which his father proposed to him; and in order to settle in the world after a family manner, he thought fit to marry while he was yet very young." His wife was


into that way of living which his father proposed to him ;] I believe, that on leaving school Shakspeare was placed in the office of some country attorney, or the seneschal of some manor court. See the Essay on the Order of his Plays, Article, Hamlet. MALONE.


he thought fit to marry while he was yet very young,] It is certain he did so; for by the monument in Stratford church erected to the memory of his daughter, Susanna, the wife of John Hall, gentleman, it appears, that she died on the 2d of July, 1649, aged 66; so that she was born in 1583, when her father could n not be full 19 years old. THEOBald.

Susanna, who was our poet's eldest child, was baptized, May 26, 1583. Shakspeare therefore, having been born in April 1564, was nineteen the month preceding her birth. Mr.

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