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KKETCH

OF THE

LIFE OF SHAKSPEARE.

WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE was born at Strat- the performance. But in whatever situation 16 ford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire, on the 23d day was first employed at the theatre, he appears to of April, 1564. His family was above the vulgar have soon discovered those talents which afterwards rank' His father, John Shakspeare, was a con- made him sikrable dealer in wool, and had been an officer

"Tl'applause, delight, the wonder, of our stage." of the corporation of Stratford. He was likewise a justice of the peace, and at one time a man of

Some distinction he probably first acquired as cons.derable property. This last, however, ap- an actor, but no character has been discovered pears to have been lost by some means, in the latter in which he appeared to more advantage than in part of his life. His wife was the daughter and that of the Ghost in Hamlet : and the best critics heiress of Robert Arden, of Wellington, in the and inquirers into his life are or opinion, that he county of Warwick, by whom he had a family or was not eminent as an actor. In tracing the chroten children.

nology of his plays, it has been discovered, that

Romeo and Juliet, and Richard II. and III., were Our illustrious poet was the eldest son, and was printed in 1597, when he was thirty-three years educated, probably, at the free-school of Stratford; old. There is also some reason to think that he but from this he was soon removed, and placed in commenced a dramatic writer in 1592, and Mr. the office of some country attorney. The exact Malone even places his first play, the First Part of amount of his education has been long a subject Henry VI., in 1589. of controversy. It is generally agreed, that he did not enjoy what is usually termed a literary educa- His plays were not only popular, but approved tion; but he certainly knew enough of Latin and by persons of the higher order, as we are certain French to introduce scraps of both in his plays, that he cnjoyed the gracious favour of Queen Eliwithout blunder or impropriety.

zabeth, who was very fond of the stage; the pa

tronage of the Earl of Southampton, to whom he When about eighteen years old, he married dedicated some of his poems; and of King James, Anne Hathaway, who was eight years older than who wrote a very gracious letter to him with his himself. His conduct soon after this marriage was own hand, probably in return for the compliment not very correct. Being detected with a gang of Shakspeare had paid to his majesty in the tragedy deer-stealers, in robbing the park of Sir Thomas of Macbeth. It may be added, that his uncomLucy, of Charlecote, near Stratford, he was obliged mon merit, his candour, and good nature, are supto leave his family and business, and take shelter posed to have procured him the admiration and in London.

acquaintance of every person distinguished for such

qualities. It is not difficult, indeed, to trace, that He was twenty-two years of age when he arrived Shakspeare was a man of humour, and a social in London, and is said to have made his first ac- companion; and probably excelled in that species quaintance in the play-house. Here his necessities of minor wit, not ill adapted to conversation, of obliged him to accept the office of call-boy, or which it could have been wished he had been more prompter's attendant; who is appointed to give the sparing in his writings. performers notice to be ready, as often as the business of the play requires their appearance on the How long he acted, has not been discovered ; but stage. According to another account, far less he continued to write till the year 1614. During probable, his first employment was to wait at the his dramatic career, he acquired a property in the dose of the play-house, and hold the horses of those theatre, which he must have disposed of when he who had no servants, that they might be ready after retired, as no mention of it occurs in his will. The

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