Abbildungen der Seite

subsequent fortunes. The mean and servile who was acquainted with him, and was himself patible with his circumstances, even in their sional excellence, must be admitted as of con

too remote from absolute poverty, to permit upon dramatic composition we are certain that the

him to act for a moment in such a degrading he had completed, though he had not published, diately admitted within the theatre; but in what Adonis, and the Rape of Lucrece. We cannot,

rank or character cannot now be known. This therefore, date his arrival in the capital later 1

fact, however, soon became of very little con- than 1588, or, perhaps, than 1587; and the four ccasideration among his new fellows by the parture from Stratford and his becoming the exertions of his pen, if not by his proficiency object of Greene's malignant attack, constitutea sequence; for he speedily raised himself into or five years which interposed between his dedramatic writer, or to what degree of excel-Within this term he had conciliated the friendlence he attained in his personation of dramatic ship of the young Thomas Wriothesly, the liberal, as an actor. When he began his career as a a busy and an important period of his life characters, are questions which have been fre- the high-souled, the romantic Earl of Southampquently agitated without any satisfactory result. ton; a friendship which adhered to him throughBy two publications, which appeared toward out his life; and he had risen to that celebrity, induced strongly to infer that at that period, with the first wits of the age, and subsequently

either as the corrector of old or as the writer of lifted him to the notice and the favour of ElizaTess

a copiousness of materials. We learn also from the throne of England.
original dramas, he had supplied the stage with beth and James, as they successively sat upon
the same documents that, in his profession of At
sition of applause. The two publications to what dramatic pieces had been composed by
worth of Wit bought with a Million of Repen-ficient excellence to excite the envy and the

which I allude, are Robert Greene's “Groats-him: but we are assured that they were of suf17

tance," and Henry Chettle's "Kind Hart's consequent hostility of those who, before his Dream." In the former of these works, which rising, had been the luminaries of the stage. It was published by Chettle subsequently to the would be gratifying to curiosity if the feat were unhappy author's decease, the writer, address-possible, to adjust with any precision the order Lodge, says, “ Yes! trust them not” (the ma- his brain. But the attempt has more than once ing his fellow dramatists, Marlowe, Peele, and in which his wonderful productions issued from

nagers of the theatre ;) " for there is an upstart been made, and never yet with entire success. TE

bis tiger's heart wrapt in a player's hide, sup-stage continued for about twenty years, (though crow, beautified with our feathers, that, with We know only that his connexion with the verse as the best of you; and, being an absolute with precision, and that, within this period he Johannes Fac-totam, is in his own conceit the composed either partially, as working on the only Shake-scene in a country.” As it could ground of others, or educing them altogether not be doubtful against whom this attack was from his own fertility, thirty-five or (if that directed, we cannot wonder that Shakspeare wretched thing, Pericles, in consecuence of should be hurt by it: or that he should expos. Dryden's testimony in favour of its authenticity, te as the editor of the offensive matter. In con- discover able in its last scenes, must be added Salate on the occasion rather warmly with Chet-and of a few touches of the golden pen being pamphlet from the pen of Chettle called " Kind on the works of preceding authors were the of resentment on the part of Shakspeare, a these it is probable that such as were founded Hari's Dream" issued from the press before the first essays of his dramatic talent; and such as close of the same year (1592) which had wit- were more perfectly his own, and are of the Dessed the publication of Greene's posthumous first sparkle of excellence, were among the last. work. In this pamphlet, Chettle acknowledges While I should not hesitate, therefore, to station bis concern for having edited any thing which " Pericles,” the three parts of “Henry VI.” had given pain to Shakspeare, of whose character (for I cannot see any reason for throwing the and accomplishments he avows a very favour first of these parts from the protection of our able opinion. Marlowe, as well as Shakspeare, author's name.) “Love's Labour Lost," "The appears to have been offended by some passages Comedy of Errors," "The Taming of the of these great dramatic poets Chettle refers in among his earliest productions, I should, with In this production of poor Greene's: and to both Shrew," "King John," and "Richard II.," from his page: "With neither of them that "Othello," "Twelfth Night," and "The Temthe short citation which we shall now make equal confidence, arrange" Macbeth,"" Lear,” take offence was I acquainted, and with one of pest," with his latest, assigning them to that them" (concluded to be Marlowe, whose moral season of his life, when his mind exalted in the character was unhappily not good) “I care not conscious plenitude of power. Whatever might

I never be. The other” (who must necessa- be the order of succession in which this illus not so much spare as since I wish I had ; for they soon attracted notice, and speedily comrily be Shakspeare) " whom at that time I did trious family of genius sprang into existence,

thors, and might have used my own discretion, were the most eminent for their learning, their Hoco especially in such a case, the author being talents, or their rank. Jonson, Selden, Beau

nal fault bad been my fault : because myself and the intimates of our poet: the Earl of dead) that I did not I am as sorry as if the origi-mont, Fletcher, and Donne, were the associates

have seen his demeanour no less civil than he is Southampton was his especial friend: the Earls to lo excellent in the quality he professes. Besides of Pembroke and of Montgomery were avowedly

divers of worship have reported his uprightness his admirers and patrons: Queen Elizabeth disof dealing, which argues his honesty; and his tinguished him with her favour; and her suc


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

compliment paid in Macbeth to the royal family at one time to his favoured dramatist the mag of the Stuarts.

nificent present of a thousand pounds. The circumstance which first brought the two of the degree of patronage

and kindness ex. lords of the stage, Shakspeare and Jonson, into tended to Shakspeare by the Earls of Pembroke that embrace of friendship which continued in- and Montgomery, we are altogether ignorant : dissoluble, as there is reason to believe, during but we know, from the dedication of his works the permission of mortality, is reported to have to them by Heminge and Condell, that they had been the kind assistance given by the former distinguished themselves as his admirers and to the latter, when he was offering one of his friends. That he numbered many more of the plays (Every Man in his Humour) for the benefit nobilit; of his day among the homagers of his of representation. The manuscript, as it is said, transcendent gevius, we may consider as a spe was on the point of being rejected and returned cious probability. But we must not indulge in with a rude answer, when Shakspeare, fortu- conjectures, when we can gratify ourselves with nately glancing his eye over its pages, imme- the reports of tradition. approaching very nearly diately discovered its merit; and, with his in- to certainties. Elizabeth, as it is confidently said, fluence, obtained its introduction on the stage honoured our illustrious dramatist with her es To this story some specious objections have pecial notice and regard. She was unquestion been raised ; and there cannot be any necessity ably fond of theatric exhibitions; and, with her for contending for it, as no lucky accident can literary mind and her discriminating eye, it is be required to account for the inducement of impossible that she should overlook; and thai, amity between two men of high genius, each noi overlooking, she should not appreciate tue treading the same broad path to fame and for- man, whose genius formed the prime glory of tune, yet each with a character so peculiarly her reign. Ti is affirmed that, delighted with his own that he might attain his object without the character of Falstaff as drawn in the two wounding the pride or invading the interests of parts of Henry IV., she expressed a wish to see the other It has been generally believed that the gross and dissolute knight under the influence the intellectual superiority of Shakspeare ex- of love; and that the result of our poet's comcited the envy and the consequent enmity of pliance with the desire of his royal mistress, Jonson. It is well that of these asserted facts wag" The Merry Wives of Windsor." Favoured, no evidences can be adduced. The friendship however, as our poet seems to have been by of these great men seems tn have been unbroken Elizabeth, and not withstanding the fire incense during the life of Shakspeare; and, on his death, which he offered to her vanity, it does not appear Jonson made an offering to his memory of high, that he profited in any degree by her bounty. just, and appropriate panegyric. He places him she could distinguish and could smile upon above not only the modern but the Greek dra- genius: but unless it were immediately service matists; and he professes for him admiration able to her personal or her political interests, short only of idolatry. They who can discover she had not the soul to reward it. However any penuriousness of praise in the surviving inferior to her in the arts of government and in poet, must be gifted with a very peculiar vision some of the great characters of mind might be of mind. With the flowers, which he strewed her Scottish successor, he resembled her in his upon the grave of his friend, there certainly love of letters, and in his own cultivation of was not blended one poisonous or bitter leaf learning. He was a scholar, and even a poet: If, therefore, he was, as he is represented to his attachment to the general cause of literature have been by an impartial and able judge, was strong; and his love of the drama and the

(Drummond of Hawthornden) "a great lover theatre was particularly warm. Before his ac. and praiser of himself; a contemner and scorner cession to the English throne he had written, as of others; jealous of every word and action of we have before noticed, a letter, with his own those about him," &c. &c., how can we other hand, to Shakspeare, acknowledging, as it is supwise account for the uninterrupted harmony of posed, the compliment paid to him in the noble his intercourse with our bard than by supposing scenes of Macbeth; and scarcely had the crown that the frailties of his nature were overruled of England fallen upon his heart, when he granted by that pre-eminence of mental power in his his royal patent to our poet and his company of friend which precluded competition; and by the Globe; and thus raised them from being the his friend's sweetness of temper and gentleness Lord Chamberlain's servants to be the servants of manners, which repressed every feeling of of the King. The patent is dated on the 19th of hostility. Between Shakspeare and Thomas May, 1603, and the name of William Shakspeare Wriothesly, the munificent and the noble Earl stands second on the list of the patentees. As of Southampton, distinguished in history by his the demise of Elizabeth had occurred on the inviolable attachment to the rash and the un- 24th of the preceding March, this early attention fortunate Essex, the friendship was permanent of James to the company of the Globe may be and ardent. At its commencement, in 1593, regarded as highly complimentary to Shake when Shakspeare was twenty-nine years of speare's theatre, and as strongly demonstrative age, Southampton was not more than nineteen; of the new sovereign's partiality for the drama and, with the love of general literature, he was But James's patronage of our poet was not in particularly attached to the exhibitions of the any other way beneficial to his fortunes. If theatre. His attention was first drawn to Shak. Elizabeth were too parsimonious for an effective speare by the poet's dedication to him of the patron, by his profusion on his pleasures and

,;" dedicator calls it, “ of his invention;" and the possess the means of bounty for the reward of acquaintance, once begun between characters talents and of learning: Honour, in short, was and hearts like theirs, would soon mature in!o all that Shakspeare gained by the favour of two intimacy and friendship. In the following year successive sovereigns, each of them versed in (1594) Shakspeare's second poem, " The Rape literature, each of them fond of the drama, and of Lucrece," was addressed by him to his noble each of them capable of appreciating the tran patron in a strain of less distant timidity: and scendency of his genius. we may infer from it that the poet had then ob- It would be especially gratifying to us to ex. tained a portion of the favour which he sought. bibit to our readers some portion at least of the That his fortunes were essentially promoted by personal history of this illustrious man during the munificent patronage of Southampton can- his long residence in the capital ;-to announce not reasonably be doubled. We are told by Sir the names and characters of his associates, a William Davenant, who surely possessed the few of which only we can obtain from Fuller; means of knowing the fact, that the peer gave to delineate his habits of life; to record his con

[ocr errors]

vivial wit; to commemorate the books which as degraded by such a public exhibition. The be read; and to number his compositions as time was not yet come when actors were to be they dropped in succession from his pen. But the companions of princes; when their lives, no power of this nature is indulged to us. All as of illustrious men, were to be written ; and that active and efficient portion of his mortal when statues were to be erected to them by existence, which constituted considerably more public contribution ! than a third part of it, is an unknown region, The amount of the fortune, on which Shaknot to be penetrated by our most zealous and speare retired from the busy world, has been intelligent researches. It may be regarded by the subject of some discussion. By Gildon, who us as a kind of central Africa, which our reason forbears to state his authority, this fortune is assures us to be glowing with fertility and alive valued at 3001. a year; and by Malone, who, with pupulation but which is abandoned in our calculating our Poet's real property from aumaps, from the ignorance of our geographers, thentic documents, assigns a random value to to the death of barrenness, and the silence of his personal, it is reduced to 2001. Of these two sindy desolation. By the Stratford register we valuations of Shakspeare's property, we concan ascertain that his only son, Hamnet, was ceive that Gildon's approaches the more nearly buried in the twelfth year of his age, on the 11th to the truth: for if to Malone's conjectural esof August 1596 ; and that, after an interval of limate of the personal property, of which he Dearly eleven years; his eldest daughter, Su- professes to be wholly ignorant, he added the sanna, was raarried to John Hall, a physician, ihousand pounds, given by Southampton, (an on the 5th of June 1607. With the exception of act of munificence of which we entertain not two or three purchases made by him at Strat- a doubt,) the precise total, as money then bore ford, one of them being that of New Place, an interest of 101. per cent., of the three hunwhich he repaired and ornamented for his future dred pounds a year will be made up. On the residence, the iwo entries which we have now smallest of these incomes, however, when moextraeted from the register, are positively all ney was at least of five times its present value, that we can relate with confidence of our great might our Poet possess the comforts and the Poet and his family, during the long term of his liberalities of life: and in the society of his connexion with the theatre and the metropolis. family, and of the neighbouring gentry, conciWe may fairly conclude, indeed, that he was liated by the amiableness of his manners and present at each of the domestic events, recorded the pleasantness of his conversation, he seems by the register: that he attended his son to the to have passed his few remaining days in the grave, and his daughter to the altar. We may enjoyment of tranquillity and respect. So ex: believe also, from its great probability, even on quisite, indeed, appears to have been his relish the testimony of Aubrey, that he paid an annual of the quiet, which was his portion within the visit to his native town; whence his family were walls of New Place, that it induced a complete never removed, and which he seems always to oblivion of all that had engaged his attention, have contemplated as the resting place of his and had aggrandized his name in the preceding deelining age. He probably had nothing more scenes of his life. Without any regard to his than a lodging in London, and this he might literary fame, either present or to come, he saw occasionally change: but in 1595 he is said to with perfect onconcern some of his immortal have lived somewhere near to the Bear-Garden works brought, mutilated and deformed, in in Southwark.

surreptitioas copies, before the world ; and lo 1606, James procured from the continent others of them, with an equal indifference to

large importation of mulberry trees, with a their fate, he permitted to remain in their unreview to the establishment of the silk manufac-vised or interpolated MRS. in the hands of the tory in his dominions; and, either in this year theatric prompter. There is not, probably, in or in the following, Shakspeare enriched his the whole compass of literary history, such garden at New Place with one of these exotic, another instance of a proud snperiority to what and at that time very rare trees. This plant of has been called by a rival genius, his hand took root, and flourished till the year 1752, when it was destroyed by the barbarous

“ The last infirmity of noble minds," Axe of one Francis Gastrell, a clergyman, into as that which was now exhibited by our illuswhose worse than Gothic hands New Place had trious dramatist and poet. He seemed most unfortunately fallen. As we are not told the precise time, when How much his worth transcended all his kind."'*

"As if he could not or he would not find, Shakepeare retired from the stage and the metropolia to enjoy the tranquillity of life in his with a privilege, rarely indulged even to the native town, we cannot pretend to determine sons of genius, he had produced his admirable it As he is said, however, to have passed some works without any throes or labour of the mind: years in his establishment at New Place, we they had obtained for him all that he had asked may conclude that his removal took place either from them,--the patronage of the great, the apin 1612 or in 1613, when he was yet in the vigour plause of the witty, and a competency of fortune of life, being not more than forty-eight or forty- adequate to the moderation of his desires. Havnine years old. He had ceased, as it is probable, ing fulfilled, or, possibly, exceeded his expectato treat the stage as an actor at an earlier period; tions, they had discharged their duty; and he for in the list of actors, prefixed to the Volpone threw them altogether from his thought; and of B. Jonson, performed at the Globe theatre, whether it were their destiny to emerge into reand published in 1605, the name of W. Shak- nown, or to perish in the drawer of a manager; speare is not to be found. However versed he to be brought to light in a state of integrity, or to might be in the science of acting, (and that he revisit the glimpses of the moon with a thousand was versed in it we are assured by his directions mortal murders on their head, engaged no part to the players in Hamlet,) and however well he of his solicitude or interest. They had given to migtt acquit himself in some of the subordinate him the means of easy life, and he sought from enaracters of the drama, it does not appear that them nothing more. This insensibility in our Au. he ever rose to the higher honours of his pro- thor to the offspring of his brain may be the subfession. Bat if they were above his attainment, ject of our wonder or admiration : but its consethey seem not to have been the objects of his quences have been calamitous to those who in ambition ; for by one of his sonnets we find after times have hung with delight over his what the lamented the fortune which had devoted pages. On the intellect and the temper of these sin to the stage, and that he considered himself ill-fated mortals it has inflicted a heavy load of See Sonnet cxi.

Epitaph on a Fair Maiden Lady, by Dryden.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

punishment in the dulness and the arrogance can see nothing but a whimsical sally, breaking of commentators and illustrators in the con- from the niind of one friend, and of a nature to ceit and petulance of Theobald ; the imbecility excite a good-humoured smile on the cheek of of Capell; the pert and tasteless dogmatism of the other. In Aubrey's hands, the transaction Steevens; the ponderous littleness of Malone assumes a somewhat darker complexion; and and of Drake. Some superior men, it is true, the worse verses, as written after the death of have enlisted themselves in the cause of Shak. their subject, may justly be branded as malevo speare. Rowe, Pope, Warburton, Hanmer, and lent, and as discovering enmity in the heart of Johnson, have successively been his editors; and their writer. But I have dwelt too long upon a have professed to give his scenes in their origi- topic which, in truth, is undeserviug of a syllanal purity to the world. But from some cause ble; and if I were to linger on it any longer, for or other, which it is not our present business to the purpose of exhibiting Malone's reasons for explore, each of these editors, in his turn, has his preference of Aubrey's copy of the epitaph to disappointed the just expectations of the public : Rowe's, and his discovery of the propriety and and, with an inversion of Nature's general rule, beauty of the single Ho in the last line of Authe little men have finally prevailed against the brey's, as Ho is the abbreviation of Hobgoblin, great. The blockheads have hooted the wits one of the names of Robin Good-fellow, the fairy from the field; and attaching themselves to the servant of Oberon, my readers would have just mighty body of Shakspeare, like barnacles to cause to complain of me as sporting with their the hull of a proud man of war, they are pre- time and their patience. pared to plough with him the vast ocean of time; On the 9th of July 1614, Stratford was ravaged and thus, by the only means in their power, to by a fire, which destroyed fifty-four dwelling snatch themselves from that oblivion to which houses besides barns and out offices. It abstainNature had devoted them. It would be unjust, ed, however, from the property of Shakspeare : however, to defraud these gentlemen of iheir and he had only to commiserate the losses of his proper praise. They have read for men of neighbours. talents; and, by their gross labour in the mine. With his various powers of pleasing ; his wit they have accumulated materials to be arranged and his humour; the gentleness of his manners; and polished by the hand of the finer artist. the flow of his spirits and his fancy; the variety Some apology may be necessary for this short of anecdote with which his mind must have digression from the more immediate subject of been stored ; his knowledge of the world, and my biography. But the three or four years, his intimacy with man, in every gradation of which were passed by Shakspeare in the peace- society, from the prompter of a playhouse to the ful retirement of New Place are not distinguish- peer and the sovereign, Shakspeare must have ed by any traditionary anecdote deserving of been a delightful-nay, a fascinating compaour record; and the chasm may not improperly nion; and his acquaintance must necessarily be supplied with whatever stands in contiguity have been courted by all the prime inhabitants with it. I should pass in silence, as too trifling of Suratford and its vicinity. But over this, as for notice, the story of our Poet's extempore and over the preceding periods of his life, brood jocular epitaph on John Combe, a rich towns- silence and oblivion; and in our total ignorance man of Strafford, and a noted money-lender, if of his intimacies and friendships, we must apply my readers would not object to me that I had to our imagination to furnish out his convivial omitted an anecdote which had been honoured board, where intellect presided, and delight with with a place in every preceding biography of my admiration gave the applause. author. As the circumstance is related by Rowe, On the 24 of February 1615-16, he married his “In a pleasant conversation among their com- youngest daughter, Judith, then in the thirty. mon friends, Mr. Combe told Shakspeare, in a first year of her age, to Thomas Quiney, a laughing manner, that he fancied he intended to vintner in Stratford : and on the 25th of the day write his epitaph if he happened to outlive him; succeeding month he executed his will. He and since he could not know what might be was then, as it would appear, in the full vigour by said of him when he was dead, he desired it and enjoyment of life, and we are not informed might be done immediately: upon which Shak- that his constitution had been previously weak. speare gave him these four verses :

ened by the attack of any malady. But his days, Ten in the hundred lies here ingraved :

or rather his hours, were now all numbered ; for 'Tis a hundred to ten his soul is not saved.

he breathed his last on the 23d of the ensuing If any man ask, who lies in this tomb:

April, on that anniversary of his birth which Ho! ho! quoth the devil, 'tis my John a Combe. gratifying to our curiosity to know something of

completed his fifty-second year. It would be But the sharpness of the satire is said to have the disease, which thus preinaturely terminated stung the man so severely that he never forgave the life of this illustrious man : but the secret is it." By Aubrey the story is differently told: withheld from us; and it would be idle to endeaand the lines in question, with some alterations, vour to obtain it. We may be certain that Dr. which evidently made them worse, are said to Hall, who was a physician of considerable have been written after Combe's death. Stee- eminence, attended his father-in-law in his last vens and Malone discredit the whole tale. The illness; and Dr. Hall kept a register of all the two first lines, as given to us by Rowe, are un remarkable cases, with their symptoms and questionably not Shakspeare's; and that any treatment, which in the course of his practice lasting enmity subsisted between these two bur- had fallen under his observation. This curious ghers of Stratford is disproved by the respective MS., which had escaped the enmity of time, was wills

of the parties, John Combe bequeathing five obtained by Malone but the recorded cases in pounds to our Poet, and our Poei leaving his it most unfortunately began with the year 1617; sword to John Combe's nephew and residuary and the preceding part of the register, which legatee, John Combe himself being at that time most probably had been in existence, could no deceased. With the two commentators above- where be fonnd. The mortal complaint, there. mentioned, I am inclined, therefore, on the fore, of William Shakspeare, is likely to remain whole, to reject the story as a fabrication ; for ever unknown ; and, as darkness had closed though I cannot, with Steevens, convict the upon his path through life, so darkness now lines of malignity; or think, with him and with gathered round his bed of death, awfully to cover Malone, thai the character of Shakspeare, on it from the eyes of succeeding generations. the supposition of his being their author, could On the 25th of April 1616, two days after bis require any laboured vindication to clear it from decease, he was buried in the chancel of the alain. In the anecdote, as related by Rowe, Ilchurch of Stratford; and at some period within

[merged small][ocr errors]

the seven subsequent years (for in 1632 it is | artist, acting under the recollections of the noticed in the verses of Leonard Digges) a mo- Shakspeare family, into some likeness of the nament was raised to his memory either by the great townsman of Stratford : and on this prorespect of his low sinen, or by the piety of his bability, we may contemplate it with no inconrelations. It represents the poet with a counte-siderable interest. I cannot, however, persuade nance of thought, resting on a cushion and in myself that the likeness could have been strong. the act of writing. It is placed under an arch, The forehead, indeed, is sufficiently spacious between two Corinthian columns of black mar- and intellectual; but there is a disproportionate ble, the capitals and bases of which are gilt. The length in the under part of the face ; the mouth face is said, but, as far as I can find, not on any is weak; and the whole countenance is heavy adequate authority, to have been modelled from and inert. Not having seen the monument itthe face of the deceased; and the whole was self, I can speak of it only from its numerous painted to bring the imitation nearer to nature. copies by the graver; and by these it is possible The face and the hands wore the carnation of that I may be deceived. But if we cannot rely life: the eyes were light hazel; the hair and on the Stratford bust for a resemblance of our heard were auburn : & black gown, without immortal dramatist, where are we to look with sleeves, hung loosely over a scarlet doublet. any hope of finding a trace of his features ? It The cushion in its upper part was green, in its is highly probable that no portrait of him was lower criinson; and the tassels were of gold painter during his life; and it is certain that no colour. This certainly was not in the high clas- portrait of him, with an incontestible claim to sical state ; though we may learn from Pausanias genuineness, is at present in existence. The that statues in Greece were sometimes coloured lairest title to authenticity seems to be assigna. after life ; but as it was the work of contempo- ble to that which is called the Chandos portrait ; rary hands, and was intended, by those who and is now in the collection of the Duke of knew the Poet, to convey to posterity some re- Buckingham at Stowe. semblance of his lineaments and dress, it was a It is well that we are better acquainted with monument of rare value; and the tastelessness the rectitude of his morals, than with the symof Malone, who caused all its tints to be oblite-metry of his features. To the integrity of his rated with a daubing of white lead, cannot be heart; the gentleness and benignity of his mansufficiently ridiculed and condemned. Its ma- ners, we have the positive testimony of Chettle terial is a species of free-stone ; and as the chisel and Ben Jonson ; the former of whom seems to of the sculptor was most probably under the gui- have been drawn by our Poet's good and amiadance of Doctor Hall, ii bore some promise of ble qualities, from the faction of his dramatic ene likeness to the mighty dead. Immediately below mies; and the latter, in his love and admiration the cushion is the following distich :

of the man, to have lost all his natural jealousy

of the successful competitor for the poetic palm. Judicio Pylium; genic Socratem; arte Maronem. I have already cited Chettle: let me now cite

Terra legit; populus mæret; Olympus habet Jonson, from whose pages much more of a simi. On a tablet underneath are inscribed these lines: lar nature might be adduced. "I loved," he

says in his . Discoveries,' " I loved the man, Stay, passenger, why dost thou go so fast ?

and do honour his memory, on this side idolatry, Read, if thou canst, whom envious death has as much as any. He was, indeed, honest, of an

placed Within this monument-Shakspeare ; with brave notions, and gentle expressions,” &c. &c.

open and free nature ; had an excellent fancy, whom

When Jonson apostrophizes his deceased friend Quick Nature died : whose name doth deck he calls him, " My gentle Shakspeare," and the the tomb

Litle of "the sweet swan of Avon,” so general. far more than cost : since all that he hath ly given to him, after the example of Jonson, writ

by his contemporaries, seems to have been given Leaves living art but page to serve his wit: with reference as much to the suavity of his temand the flat stone, covering the grave, holds out, dication of his works to the Earls of Pembroke

per as to the harmony of his verse. In their dein very irregular characters, a supplication to the reader, with the promise of a blessing and Condell, profess that their great object in their

and Montgomery, his fellows, Heminge and the menace of a curse :

publication was "only to keep the memory of Good Friend ! for Jesus' sake forbear so worthy a friend and fellow alive as was our To dig the dust inclosed here.

Shakspeare:" and their preface to the public apBlest be the man that spares these stones; pears evidently to have been dictated by their And cursed be he that moves my bones.

personal and affectionate attachment to their

departed friend. If we wish for any further The last of these inscriptions may have been evidence in the support of the moral character written by Shakspeare himself under the appre of Shakspeare, we may find it in the friendship bension of his bones being tambled, with those of Southampton ; we may extract it from the of many of his townsmen, into the charnel-house pages of his immortal works. Dr. Johnson, in of the parish. But his dust has continued un-his much over-praised Preface, seems to have violated, and is likely to remain in its holy re- taken a view, very different front ours, of the pose till the last awful scene of oar perishable morality of our author's scenes. He says, “His globe. It were to be wished that the two pre-(Shakspeare's) first defect is that to which may ceding inscriptions were more worthy, than be impiited most of the evil in books or in they are, of the tomb to which they are attached. men. 'He sacrifices virtue to convenience ; and It would be gratifying if we could give any faith is so much more careful to please than to in. to the tradition, which asserts that the bust of struct, that he seems to write without any moral this monument was sculptured from a cast purpose. From his writings, indeed, a system moulded on the face of the departed poet; for of moral duty may be selected," (indeed !) but then we might assure ourselves that we possess his precepts and axioms drop casually from one authentic resemblance of this pre-eminently him" (Would the preface-writer have wished intellectual mortal. But the cast, if taken, must the dramatist to give a connected treatise on have been taken immediately after his death ; ethics like the offices of Cicero 7) "he makes and we know neither at whose expense the no just distribution of good or evil, nor is almonument was constructed ; nor by whose band ways careful to show in the virtuous a disap it was executed ; nor at what precise time it probation of the wicked; he carries his per. Tas erected. It may have been wrought bw the Isons indifferently through right and wrong i

« ZurückWeiter »