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Majefty's Servants. Printed by Edw. White, 1611. Itap pears from B. Johnson's Induction to Barthol. Fair, that this Play was of 25 Years ftanding, in the Year 1614, fo that if it was Shakespear's, it must have been writ in the 25th Year of his Age.

XIV. The famous Hiftory of Troilus and Creffeida, excellently expreffing the beginning of their Loves, with the conceited wooing of Pandarus Prince of Lycia. Written by Will. Shakespear. Imprinted by G. Eld, for R. Bonian and H. Walley, 1609, Quarto, with a Preface of the Publisher. (This was 8 Years before his Death.)

The fame as it was acted by the Kings Majefty's. Servants at the Globe. Printed by the fame.

XV. An excellent conceited Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. As it hath been often with great Applaufe play'd publickly, by the Right Honourable the Lord of Hunfdon his Servants. London Printed by John Danter, 1597, Quarto.

The most excellent and famentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, newly corrected, augmented, and amended.. As it hath been fundry times publickly acted by the Right Honourable the Lord Chamberlain his Servants. Printed. by Tho. Crede, for Cuthbert Burby, 1599, Quarto.

XVI. The Tragical Hiftory of Hamlet Prince of Denmark. By W. Shakespear. Newly imprinted and inlarg'd to almoft as much again as it was, according to the true and perfect Copy. Printed by J.R..for N.L. 1605, Quarto..

The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark, newly imprinted and enlarg'd according to the true and perfect Copy lately Printed. Printed by W, S. for John Smeth witch, 1611.

XVII. The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice, As it hath been divers times acted at the Globe, and at the Black Fryars by his Majefty's Servants.. Written by Will. Shakespear. Publifhed by Tho. Walkely, Quarto, (foon af ter his Death, as appears by the Preface.)

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T feems to be a kind of refpect due to the memory of excellent men, efpeIcially of thofe whom their wit and learning have made famous, to deliver fome account of themfelves, a well as their works, to Pofterity. For this reafon, how fond do we fee fome people of difcovering any little perfonal ftory of the great men of Antiquity, their families, the common ac cidents of their lives, and even their make and features, have been the fubject of critical enquiries. How trifling foever this Curiofity may feem to be, it is certainly very natural; and we are hardly fatisfied with an account of any remarkable perfon, 'till we have heard him defcrib'd even to the very cloaths he wears. As for what relates to men of letters, the knowledge of an Author may fometimes conduce to the better understanding



his book: And tho' the Works of Mr. Shakespear may feem to many not to want a comment, yet I fancy fome little account of the man himself not be thought improper to go along with them.


He was the fon of Mr. John Shakespear, and was born at Stratford upon Avon, in Warwickshire, in April 1564. His family, as appears by the Regifter and publick Writings relating to that Town, were of good figure and fashion there, and are mention'd as gentlemen. His father, who was a confiderable dealer in wool, had fo large a family, ten children in all, that tho' he was his eldeft fon, he could give him no better education than his own employment. He had bred him, 'tis true, for fome time at a Free-fchool, where 'tis probable he acquir'd what Latin he was mafter of: But the narrowness of his circumftances, and the want of his affiftance at home, forc'd his father to withdraw him from thence, and unhappily prevented his further proficiency in that language. It is with out controverfy, that in his works we fcarce find any traces of any thing that looks like an imitation of the Ancients. The delicacy of his tafte, and the natural bent of his own great Genius (equal, if not fuperior to fome of the beft of theirs) would certainly have led him to read and ftudy 'em with fo much pleasure, that fome of their fine images. would naturally have infinuated themselves into, and been mix'd with his own writings; fo that his not copying at leaft fomething from them, may be an argument of his never having read 'em. Whether his ignorance of the Ancients were a difadvantage to him or no, may admit of a difpute: For tho' the knowledge of 'em might have made him more correct, yet it is not improbable but that the regularity and deference for them, which would. have attended that correctnefs, might have reftrain'd

fome of that fire, impetuofity, and even beautiful extravagance which we admire in Shakespear: And I believe we are better pleas'd with thofe thoughts, altogether new and uncommon, which his own imagination fupply'd him so abundantly with, than if he had given us the most beautiful paffages out of the Greek and Latin poets, and that in the most agreeable manner that it was poffible for a master of the English language to deliver 'em.

Upon his leaving school, he seems to have given intirely into that way of living which his father propos'd to him; and in order to fettle in the world after a family manner, he thought fit to marry while he was yet very young. His wife was the daughter of one Hathaway, faid to have been a fubftantial yeoman in the neighbourhood of Stratford. In this kind of fettlement he continued for fome time, 'till an extravagance that he was guilty of forc'd him both out of his country and that way of living which he had taken up; and tho' it seem'd at firft to be a blemish upon his good manners, and a misfortune to him, yet it afterwards happily prov'd the occafion of exerting one of the greatest Genius's that ever was known in dramatick Poetry. He had, by a misfortune common enough to young fellows, fallen into ill company; and amongit them, fome that made a frequent practice of Deerftealing, engag'd him with them more than once in robbing a Park that belong'd to Sir Thomas Lucy of Cherlecot, near Stratford For this he was profecuted by that gentleman, as he thought, fomewhat too feverely; and in order to revenge that ill ufage, he made a ballad upon him. And tho this, probably the firft effay of his Poetry, be loft, yet it is faid to have been fo very bitter, that it redoubled the profecution against him to that degree, that he was oblig'd to leave his bufinefs and family


in Warwickshire, for fome time, and shelter himfelf

It is at this time, and upon this accident, that he is faid to have made his firft acquaintance in the Play-houfe. He was receiv'd into the Company then in being, at firft in a very mean rank; but his admirable wit, and the natural turn of it to the ftage, foon diftinguifh'd him, if not as an extraordinary Actor, yet as an excellent Writer. His

name is printed, as the custom was in those times, amongst thofe of the other Players, before fome old Plays, but without any particular account of what fort of parts he us'd to play; and tho' I have inquir'd, I could never meet with any further account of him this way, than that the top of his performance was the ghoft in his own Hamlet. I fhould have been much more pleas'd, to have learn'd from fome certain authority, which was the first Play he wrote; * it would be without doubt a pleasure to any man, curious in things of this kind, to fee and know what was the firft effay of a fancy like Shakespear's. Perhaps we are not to look for his beginnings, like thofe of other authors, among their leaft perfect writings; art had fo little, and nature fo large a fhare in what he did, that, for ought I know, the performances of his youth, as they were the moft vigorous, and had the moft fire and ftrength of imagination in 'em, were the best. I would not be thought by this to mean, that his fancy was fo loofe and extravagant, as to be independent on the rule and government of judgment;


The highest date of any I can yet find, is Romeo and Juliet in 1597, when the Author was 33 years ald; and Richard the 2d, and 3d, in the next year, yiz. the 34th of his age.. A. P.

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