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fancy was so loose and extravagant, as to be independent on
A Midsummer-Night's Dream. and that whole passage is a compliment very properly brought in, and very handsomely applied to her.
She was so well pleased with that admirable character of Falstaff, in The Two Parts of Henry the Fourth, that she commanded him to continue it for one play more, and to show him in love. This is said to be the occasion of his writing The Merry Wives of Windsor. How well she was obeyed, the play itself is an admirable proof. Upon this occasion it may not
be improper to observe, that this part of Falitaff is said to have been written originally under the name of Oldcastle : some of that family being then remaining, the queen was pleased to command him to alter it; upon which he made use of Falstaff. The present offence was indeed avoided ; but I do not know whether the author may not have been somewhat to blame in his second choice, since it is certain that Sir John Falstaff, who was a knight of the garter, and a lieutenant-general, was a name of distinguished merit in the wars in France in Henry the Fifth's and Henry the Sixth's times. What grace
soever the queen conferred upon him, it was not to her only he owed the fortune which the reputation of his wit made. He had the honour to meet with many great and uncommon marks of favour and friend. ship from the earl of Southampton, famous in the histories of that time for his friendship to the unfortunate earl of Essex. It was to that noble lord that he dedicated his poem of Venus and Adonis. There is one instance so singular in the magnificence of this patron of Shakspeare's, that if I had not been assured that the story was handed down by Sir William D'Avenant, who was probably very well acquainted with his affairs, I should not have ventured to have inserted ; that my lord Southampton at one time gave
him a thousand pounds, to enable him to go through with a purchase which he heard he had a mind to. A bounty very great, and very rare at any time, and almost equal to that profuse generosity the present age has shown to French dancers and Italian
What particular habitude or friendships he contracted with private men, I have not been able to learn, more than that every one, who had a true taste of merit, and could distinguish men, had generally a just value and esteem for him. His exceeding candour and good-nature must certainly have 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.
His acquaintance with Ben Jonson began with a remark. able piece of humanity and good-nature ; Mr. Jonson, who was at that time altogether unknown to the world, had offered one of his plays to the players, in order to have it
and the persons into whose hands it was put, after having turned it carelessly and superciliously over, were just upon returning it to him with an ill-natured answer, that it would be of no service to their company ; when Shakspeare luckily cast his eye upon it, and found something so well in it, as to engage him first to read it through, and afterwards to recomiend Mr. Jonson and his writings to the publick. Jonson was certainly a very good scholar, and in that had the advantage of Shakspeare ; though at the same time I believe it must be allowed, that what nature gave the latter, was more than a balance for what books had given the former; and the judgment of a great man upon this occasion was, I think, very just and proper. In a conversation between Sir John Suckling, Sir William D'Avenant, Endymion Porter, Mr. Hales of Eton, and Ben Jonson, Sir John Suckling, who was a professed admirer of Shakspeare, had undertaken his defence against Ben Jonson with some warmth ; Ir. Hales, who had fat ftill for some. time, told them, That if Mr. Shakspeare had not read the ancients, he had likewise not stolen any thing from them; and that if he would produce any one topick finely treated by any orze of them, he would undertake to thew fomething upon the same subject at least as well written by Shakspeare.
The latter part of his life was spent, as all men of good sense will with theirs may be, in case, retirement, and the conversation of his friends. He had the good fortune to gather an estate equal to his occasion, and, in that, to his wish; and is said to have spent some years before his death at his native Stratford. His pleasureable wit and goodnature engaged him in the acquaintance, and entitled him to the friend thip, of the gentlemen of the neighbourhood. Amongst them, it is a story almost still remembered in that country that he had a particular intimacy with Mr. Combe, an old gentleman noted thereabouts for his wealth and ufory : it happened, that in a pleasant conversation amongst their common friends, Mr. Combe told Shakspeare in a laughing manner, that he fancied he intended to write his epitaph, if he happened to out-live 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 Shak-
“ Ten in the hundred lies here ingrav'd;
" Oh!'ho! quoth the devil, 'tis my John-a-Combe.”
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 grave-ftone underneath is,
“ Good friend, for Jesus' fake forbear
“ And curft be he that moves my bones."
This 8 In this circumftance Mr. Rowe must have been mis-informed. In the Regitter of Stratford, no mention is made of any daughter of our author's but Susanna and Judith. He had indeed three children; the two already mentioned, and a son, named Hamnet, of whom Mr. Rowe takes no notice. He was a twin child, born at the same time with Judith. Hence probably the mistake. He died in the twelfth year of his age, in 3596. MALONE.
5 This alf) is a mistake. Judith was Shakspeare's youngest daughter, She died at Stratford-upon-Avon a few days after she had completed her seventy-1. venih year, and was buried there, Feb. 2, 1661-62. She was married to Mr. Quiney, who was four years younger than herself, on the oth of February, 1615-16, and not, as Mr. Weft fupposed, in the year 1616-17. MALONE.
2 Susanna's husband, Dr. John Hall, died in Nov. 1635, and is in. terred in the chancel of the church of Stratford near his wife. He was buried on the 26th of November. MALONE. 3 Elizabeth, qur poet's grand-daughter, whą appears to bave been a
« much as any.
This is what I could learn of any note, either relating to himself or family : the character of the man is bestsecn in his writings. But since Ben Jonson has made a sort of an effay towards it in his Discoveries, I will give it in his words :
“ I remember the players have often mentioned it as an “ honour to Shakspeare, that is writing (whatsoever he “ penned) he never blotted out a line. My answer hath « been, Would be had blotted a thousand! which they « thought a malevolent speech. I had not told pofterity " this, but for their ignorance, who chose that circumstance " to commend their friend by, wherein he most faulted : " and to justify mine own candour, for I loved the man, or and do honour his memory, on this fide idolatry, as
He was, indeed, honest, and of an open " and free nature, had an excellent fancy, brave notions, “ and gentle expresfions; wherein he flowed with that
facility, that sometimes it was necessary he should be
stopped : Suffiaminandus erat, as Auguftus faid of Ha“ terius. His wit was in his own power ; would the rule or of it had been so too. Many times he fell into those
things which could not escape laughter; as when he " said in the person of Cæfar, one speaking to him,
“ Cæfar thou doft me wrong: " He replied:
“ Cæsar did never wrong, but with just cause. se and such like, which were ridiculous. But he redeemed or his vices with his virtues : there was ever more in him to “ be praised than to be pardoned."
As for the passage which he mentions out of Shakspeare, there is somewhat like it in Julius Cæfar, but without the absurdity ; nor did I ever meet with it in any edition that I have seen, as quoted by Mr. Jonfon.
Besides favourite, Shakspeare having lft her by his will a memorial of his affeca tion, though the at that time was but eight years old, was born in Febe 3607.8, as appears by an entry in the Register of Stratford.