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The latter part of his life was spent, as all men of good sense will wish theirs may be, in ease, retirement, and the conversation of his friends. He had the good fortune to gather an estate equal to his occasions, and, in that, to his wish; and is said to have spent some years before his death at his native Stratford. His pleasurable wit and good-nature engaged him in the acquaintance, and entitled him to the
Essay addressed to Dryden in 1694. The writer, it may be seen, appeals to Dryden as bis authority for the anecdote : « But, to give the world some satisfaction that Shakespeare has had as great veneration paid his excellence by men of unquestioned parts as this I now express for him, I shall give some account of what I have beard from your own mouth, Sir, about the noble triumph he gained over all the ancients, by the judgment of the ablest critics of that time. The matter of fact, if my memory fail me not, was this: Mr. Hales of Eton affirmed that he would show all the poets of antiquity outdone by Shakespeare, in all the topics and commonplaces made use of in poetry. The enemies of Shakespeare would by no means yield bim so much excellence; so that it came to a resolution of a trial of skill upon that subject. The place agreed on for the dispute was Mr. Hales' chamber at Eton. A great many books were sent down by the enemies of this poet; and on the appointed day my Lord Falkland, Sir John Suckling, and all the persons of quality that bad wit and learning, and inlerested themselves in the quarrel, met there; and, upon a thorough Jisquisition of the point, the judges chosen by agreement out of this learned and ingenious assembly unanimously gave the preference to Shakespeare, and the Greek and Roman poets were ad. judged to vail at least their glory in that to the English bero.” — It may be well to a 'd that John Hales, canon of Windsor ard Fellow of Eton, was for his great learning called “the ever-memorable,” and “the walking library." Under the tyranny of the Long Parliament, he was thrust from his preferment and stripped of his revenues; and when an offer was made of restoring him the fellowship he refused it, saying, that was the Parliament had put him out, be was resolved never to be put in again by tbem." He died in 1656. Lord Clarendon says of him, " be bad made a greater and better collection of books, than were to be found in any other private library that I have seen ; as he had sure read more, and carried more about him in his excellent memory, than any man I ever knew, my lord 'Falkland only excepted, who, I think, sided him." And he adds, referring to his smallness of per. son, “ he was one of the least men in the kingdom ; and one of the greatest scholars in Europe.”
friendship of the gentlemen of the neighbourhood. Among them, it is a story almost still remembered in that country, ti at he hud a particular intimacy with Mr. Combe, an old gentleman noted thereabouts for his wealth and usury. It happened, that in a pleasant conversation among their common friends, Mr. Combe told Shakespeare, in a laughing manner, that he fancied he intended to write his epitaph, if he happened to outlive him; and, since he could not know what might be said of him when he was dead, he desired it might be done immediately. Upon which Shakespeare gave him these four lines of verse :
« Ten in the hundred lies here ingrav'd;
'Tis a hundred to ten his soul is not sav'd:
0, ho! quoth the devil, 'tis my John-a-Combe.” But the sharpness of the satire is said to have stung the man 60 severely, that he never forgave it.
He died in the fifty-third year of his age, and was buried on the north side of the chancel, in the great church at Stratford, where a monument is placed in the wall. On his gravestone underneath is,
“Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear
To dig the dust inclosed here :
And curst be he that moves my bones." He had three daughters, of which two lived to be married ; Judith, the elder, to one Mr. Thomas Quiney, by whom she had three sons, who all died without children; and Susannah, who was his favourite, to Dr. John Hall, a physician of good reputation in that country. She left one child only, a daughter, who was married first to Thomas Nash, Esq. ; and afterwards to Sir John Bernard, of Abington, but died ükewise without issue,
THE FAMILY OF SHAKESPEARE.
THE RACE and lineage of WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE ha, jot been traced, on the paternal side, further back than to his grandfather, nor is the process altogether certain even so far as that. The name, which in its very composition smacks of brave old knighthood and chivalry, was frequent in Warwickshire from an early period. It occurs repeatedly in a manuscript “Register of the brothers and sisters of the Guild of St. Anne of Knolle,” from the year 1407 to the dissolution of the Guild in 1535. Among them are found the Christian names John, Ralph, Richard, Thomas, Christopher, and William; mention is also made of a “ Lady Jane Shakespeare," and of an “ Isabella Shakespeare, formerly Prioress of Wroxhall.” The sur-name is there variously spelt. Several of these Shakespeares are spoken of as belonging to the town of Rowington, where the name continues to be met with for a long time after ; a William Shakespeare being mentioned as one of the jury in 1614, and a Margaret Shakespeare as being married there in 1665. And for more than a century later, the name is met with in the Rowington papers. It appears also that there where Shakespeares living at Balsal, Woldiche, Claverdon, Hampton, and other places in Warwickshire : a John Shake. speare was living at Warwick in 1578, and a Thomas Shake. speare in 1585; and a William Shakespeare was drowned in the Avon, near that town, in 1579 :8 a Thomas Shake. speare, also, was chosen bailiff of Warwick in 1613, and again in 1627.
1 It may be well to give a few items from the Register in illustration of this: About 1440, “Pro anima Ricardi Shakspore et Aliciæ uxoris ejus, de Woldiche;" - about 1464 "Radulphos Schakespere et Isabella uxor ejus, et pro anima Johanna uxoris primæ;" — "Ricardus Schakespeire de Wrexsale et Margeria uxor ejus;” –“Johannes Shakespeyre ejusdem villæ (Rowington) et Alicia uxor ejus; ” — 1476, “ Thomas Chacsper et Christian. cons. Huu de Rowneton;" – 1486, “Pro anima Thomæ Schakspere;" - 1505, “Orate pro anima Isabellæ Shakspere quondam Priorissa de Wraxale;" – 1512, “Ballisballe, Alicia Sbakespere et pro anima Thomæ Shakespere;” -“ Meriden, Christophorus Shakeopere et Isabella uxor ejus;" — 1627, “Domina Jane Sbakspere;" -“Willielmus Shakspere et Agnes uxor."
9 Mr. Halliwell mentions a Thomas Shackspear, of Rowing.
There is no doubt that the father of our Poet was JOHN SHAKESPEARE, who, as we shall presently see, was living at Stratford-on-Avon in 1552. He was most likely a native of Snitterfield, a village three miles from Stratford. The ground of this likelihood is, that we find a RICHARD SHAKE SPEARE living at Snitterfield in 1550, and occupying a house and land owned by ROBERT ARDEN, the maternal grandfa ther of our Poet. This appears from a deed executed July 17, 1550, in which Robert Arden conveyed certain lands and tenements in Snitterfield, describeıl as being “now in the tenure of one Richard Shakespeare,” to be held in trust for three daughters, “after the death of Robert and Agnes Arden."4 It has been also ascertained that there was a Henry
ton, as being assessed on goods of the value of £3 in the Subsidy Roll of 1597; and a Thomas Shaxper, senior, of the same place, assessed on land of the value of thirty shillings in a similar roll of 1610. He adds the following : “ Amongst some early undated fragments of Records relating to Warwickshire, preserved in the Carlton Ride, I find a mention of a John Shakeseper, of Rowington If our Poet's family had been nearly connected with this branch, it is most probable one of his brothers would have received the Christian, name of Thomas. A survey of crown lands in Warwickshire, 1607, in the Land Revenue Office, notices a Thom. as, George, Richard, and John Shakespeare, as holding property in Rowington."
3 Mr. Halliwell prints the following curious entry from the Parish Register of St. Nicholas, Warwick : " 1579, Junii: sexto die hujus mensis sepultus fuet Gulielmus Saxspere, qui demersus fuet in rivulo aquæ qui vel quæ vocatur Avona " The same register also has the following: “1598, Junii 21 ; Solemnizatun matrimo nium inter Thomam Shaxeper et Elizabeth Letherberrow."
* Mr. Halliwell prints this deed in full. We subjoin enough of Shakespeare living at Snitterfield in 1586; the Parish Register of that village showing that on the 4th of September in that year Henry Townsend was baptized, and Henry Shake speare one of the sponsors. From the same source we also learn that a Henry Shakespeare died there in 1596. Both Malone and Collier conjectured that this Henry was brother to the John Shakespeare, who is found at Stratford in 1552. There can be little doubt that such was the case; for in 1587 Nicholas Lane brought an action against John Shakespeare for debt; and from a declaration filed that year in the Court of Record at Stratford, it appears that this was a debt wherein John had become surety for his brother Henry; and that, the latter not paying, John was proceeded against for the amount. Supposing the Richard Shakespeare, who
it to authenticate the statement of the text : “Sciant præsentes et futuri quod ego Robertus Ardern, de Wylmecote in parochia de Aston Cantlowe in com. Warr., husbandman, dedi, concessi, et hac præsenti carta mea tripartiter indentat. confirmavi Adæ Pal. mer de Aston Cantlowe prædict., et Hugoni Porter de Snytterfylde in com. prædicato, totum illud mesuagium meum cum suis pertinentiis in Snytterfylde prædict., quæ nunc sunt in tenura cujusdam Ricardi Shakespere, ac omnia illa mea terr. prat. pascuas et pasturas, cum suis pertinentiis in Snytterfylde predict. eidem mesuagio spectant. et pertinent., quæ nunc sunt in tenura prædicti Ricardi Shakespere.”
5 This no doubt is the same person as the one mentioned in 1586. The following are some of the entries relating to him: ** 1586, 4 Sept. Baplysed Henry Townsend, the sonn of John Townsend and Darrity bis wyff. William Meaydes. Henry Sbaxsper, Elizabeth Perkes, pleages." — " 1596. Henrey Shaxspere was boryed the xxix.ch day of December." -" 1597. Margret Saxo spere widow, being times the wyff of Henry Shakspere, was buried ix. Feb." — The will of Christopher Smyth of Stratford, made Nov. 2d, 1586, also has the following: “ltem, Heury Shax. spere of Snylterfild oweth me v. li. ix. 8.” — There was also an Antony Shakespeare living at Snitterfield in 1569, and a Thomas Shakespeare in 1582. These were most likely brothers of John, and all three of them sons of Richard Shakespeare.
& The original of this declaration is preserved at Stratford. and a copy of it is given in Halliwell's Life of the Poet. The rela. tionship of John and Henry Shakespeare is sbown by the following passage : “Quoddam colloquium tractatum et habituia fuit