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nour of his fon, took out an extract of his fa. mily-arms from the herald's office; by which it appears that he had been officer and bailiff of Stratfordynand that he enjoyed fome hereditary lands and tenements, the reward of his great grandfather's faithful and approved fervice to King Henry VI. 24
Be this as it will, our Shakespeare, it seems, was bredd for fome time at a free-school; the very free-school, I prefume, founded at Stratford: where, we are told, he acquired what Latin he was master of: but, that his father being obliged, through narrowness of circumstances, to withdraw him too soon from chence, he was so unhappily prevented from making any proficiency in the dead languages: A point, that will de serve fome little discussion in the fequel of the differtation.
How long he continued in his father's way of business, either as an affiftant to him, or on his own proper account, no notices are left to. inform ys : nor have I been able to learn precisely at what period of life he quitted his native Stratford, and began his acquaintance with Londan and the STAGE.Higvi
In order to settle in the world affer a familymanner, he thought fit, Mr. Rowe acquaints us, to marry while he was yet very young. It is cer, gain, he did fo: for by the monument, in Stratford church, erected to the memory of his daugh
ter Susanna, the wife of John Hall, gentleman, it appears, that she 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
year 1564, Nor was she his eldest child, for he had another daugh: ter, Judith, who was born before her, and who was married to one Mr. Thomas Quiney. So that Shakespeare muft have entred into wedlock by that time he was turned of seventeen years.
Whether the force of inclination merely, or fome concurring circumstances of convenience in the match, prompted him to marry so early, is not easy to be determined at this distance: but it is probable, a view of interest might partly fway his conduct in this point: for he married the daugh ter of one Hathaway, a substantial geoman in his neighbourhood, and she had the start of him in age no less than, eight years. She survived him, notwithstanding, feven seasons, and died that very year in which the Players published the first edi, tion of his works in folio, Anno Dom. 1623) at the age of 67 years, as we likewise learn from her monument in Stratford church,
How long he cantinued in this kind of settlement, upon his own native spot, is not more easily 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, bis being engaged, with a knot of young deera
Healers, to rob the park of Sir Thomas Lucy of Cberlecot near Stratford; the enterprize favours so much of youth and levity, we may reasonably fuppofe it was before he could write full man. Belides, considering he has left us fix and thirty plays, which are avowed to be genuine ; (to throw out of the questjoa those seven, in which his title is disputed; though I can, beyond all controversy, prove some touches in every one of them to come from his pen:) and considering too, that he had retired from the stage, to spend the latter part of hiş days at his own native Stratford; the interval of time, neceffarily required for the finishing so many dramatic pieces, obliges us to suppose he threw himself very early upon the play-house; And as he could, probably, contract no acquaint, ance with the drama, while he was driving on the affair of wool at home; some time must be loft, even after he had commenced Player, before he could attain knowledge enough in the science to qualify himself for turning Author. • It has been observed by Mr. Rowe, that, amongst other Extravagancies which our Author has gives to his Sir John Falsaf, in the Merry Wives of Windfor, he has made him a deer-stealer; and that he might at the same time remember his War. wickshire prosecutor, under the name of Justice Şhallow, he has given him very near the same coat of arms, which Dugdale, in his antiquities of that county, describes for a family there. There
are two coats, I observe, in Dugdale, where three filver fishes are borne in the name of Lucy; and another coat, to the monument of Thomas Lautta son of Sir William Lucy, in which are quartered in four feveral divisions, twelver, little fishes, three in each divifion, probably Lucesa i This very coat, indeed, seems alluded to in Shallow's giving the dozen white Luces, and in Slender saying, He may quarter. When I confider the exceeding candour and good-nature of our author, (which inclined 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 should throw this humorous piece of fatire at his profecutor, at least twenty years after the provocation given; I am confidently persuaded it must be owing to an unforgiving rancour on the prosecutor's fider and if this was the case, it were pity but the disgrace of fuch an inveteracy should remain as a lasting reproach, and Shallow. Itand as a mark of ridicule to ftigmatize bis malice.
It is said, our author spent some years before his death, in cafe, retirement, and the conversation of his friends, at his native Stratford. I could never pick up any certaia intelligence, when he relinquished the stage. I know, it has been mistakenly thought by fome, that Spenser's Thalia, in his Tears of his Mufes, where she laments the loss of her Willy in the comic scene, has been applied to our author's quitting the ftage.
But Spenser himself, 'tis well known, quitted the stage of life in the year 1598; and, five years after this, we find Skakespeare's name among the actors in Ben Johnfon's Sejanus, which first made its appearance in the year 1603. Nor, furely, could he then have any thoughts of teriting, since, that very year, 'a licence under the privy-real was granted by King James I. to him and Fletcher, Burbage, Phillips, Hemings, Con. del, Sze. authorizing them to exercise the art of playing Comedies, Tragedies, &c. as well ať their usual house called the Globe on the other fide of the water, as in any other parts of the kingdomn, during his majesty's pleasure : (a copy of which licence is preserved in Rymer's Federa.). Again, it is certain, that Shakespeare did mot'exhibit his Macbeth, till after the .union was brought about, and till after King James I. had begun to touch for the evil: for it is plain, he has inserted compliments, on both those accounts, upon his royal master in that tragedy. Norg indeed, could the number of the dramatic pieces be produced, adınit of his retiring near so early as that period.” So that what Spencer there says, if it relate at all to Shakespeare, muft bint at some occasional recess he made for a time upon a difguít tåken: or the Willy, there mentioned, must relate to fome other favourite Poet. I believe, we may fafely determine that he had not quitted in the year. 1610." For in his Tempest, our au*thor niakes mention of the Bermuda Iands,