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friends are related more as facts to be recorded than as a tale of pity. In vain I look for the faintest indication of his dramatic power, which argues that his mind was in no way interested in the drama at that period; “heavy” Seneca, the epithet he afterwards bestowed on him in Hamlet, could not inspire his genius. Venus and Adonis is far superior to the Rape of Lucrece; the difference of scene between a woodland and the walls of a palace sufficiently explains this, since a young poet is best recognized in his vivid painting of natural objects. Both poems are equally imbued with the spirit of Spenser, lacking his experience. My third and last reason is, that Shakespeare, when in London, if he followed his newly adopted profession eagerly, which, besides his studies as an actor, he assuredly did, by his having produced the first sketch of Hamlet at the end of three or four years, implying much previous application to dramatic composition, would neither have had time nor inclination to compose either of these narra

tive poems.

He must now be examined touching deer-stealing. Tradition tells us he was prosecuted with so much rigour by Sir Thomas Lucy, for stealing his deer, that the delinquent was obliged to fly the country. Never was there a stronger instance of the worthless gossip of tradition. Malone has proved that Sir T. Lucy never possessed deer; and the statutes of the time prove that the penalty for stealing deer was of too mild a character to compel flight. With these facts before him, Dr. Lardner, “ assisted by eminent literary and scientific men,” acknowledges that the



tradition is refuted; but, nevertheless, he insists it must have had “some kind of foundation in fact," because we find in the Merry Wives of Windsor, that Sir T. Lucy is held up to ridicule in the person of Justice Shallow. Dr. Lardner, therefore, supposes that young Shakespeare was brought before Sir T. Lucy, as a magistrate, “ for stealing deer in some

a other park.” There is, I cannot forbear saying it, more malice than charity in this supposition ; more of the qualities of a Mrs. Candour than ought to be found in a reverend doctor. If indeed the tradition must have been founded in fact, why might not the prosecution have been against one of young Shakespeare's friends ? or why may not Shakespeare himself have been wrongfully accused? Why invent and raise a supposititious tale, on an assumed foundation, against the greatest human being the world has produced, or even against the meanest wretch that ever existed ? The Reverend Doctor indeed confesses that in those days deer-stealing was not a crime, but rather a frolic; that a Right Reverend Father-in-God, a Bishop of Winchester, had committed it, and that another bishop had partaken of the spoil; yet he still contrives, in Mrs. Candour's peculiar way, to attach some undefined stigma on the memory of our poet. When the Merry Wives of Windsor was first performed, Dr. Lardner informs us, Sir T. Lucy was dead; this fact, to my imagination, makes it impossible that Shakespeare would have held his failings, when alive, to ridicule; and I am, consequently, induced to believe it was his son who was ridiculed. An allusion, not positive, to the family coat of arms

seems to show that one or the other was meant; and Justice Shallow thus accuses Falstaff: “Knight, you have beaten my men, killed my deer, and broke open my lodge."

The old knight of Charlecote, it is known, was a rigid preserver of game, and so might have been the son. In answer to a calumnious supposition, I beg leave to suggest, and I think it a likely solution of the riddle, that Shakespeare attacked, on the stage, the younger knight of Charlecote for his vexatiously jealous preservation of game, and that he was prosecuted for that attack. Such a prosecution would necessarily have created much gossip in Warwickshire, coupled with the words of part of the libel “ killed my deer,” and thus might tradition have converted the whole story into a prosecution against Shakespeare himself for deer-stealing. Had the tradition never been treated otherwise than in the pleasant, good-humoured, honest vein of the author of the Citation and Examination of William Shakespeare, and others, touching Deer-stealing, I should not have attempted a refutation.

It may be observed that I have bestowed the word “prudent” on the youth of Shakespeare. This was done advisedly ; but perhaps it ought to be mentioned that I mean it in the best sense, not in its unsocial, formal, and selfish signification. When I come to speak of his entire character through life, among other good qualities, a wise prudence, on all essential points, will be found conspicuous; and since I have never met with a prudent middle-aged or old man who had passed his youth imprudently, it is not fasy for me to conceive the opposite. At the same

time, let it be understood, that it is out of my power to imagine the lad Shakespeare to have been anything else than a hearty lover of good fellowship, as he afterwards showed himself at the “Mermaid," a right merry companion, the delight of his mates at Stratford, and in the neighbourhood.

Little is known of Anne Hathaway, his wife. Stevens, in a note, tells us, —“ As Shakespeare the poet

a ,married his wife from Shottery, a village near Stratford, possibly he might became possessor of a remarkable house there, as part of her portion; and jointly with his wife convey it as part of their daughter Judith's portion to Thomas Queeny. It is certain that one Queeny, an elderly gentleman, sold it to

Harvey, Esq. of Stockton, near Southam, Warwickshire, father of John Harvey Thursby, Esq. of Abington, near Northampton; and that the aforesaid Harvey sold it again to Samuel Tyler, Esq. whose sisters, as his heirs, now enjoy it.” It is reasonably conjectured that she brought him some property. .

The marriage is not registered at Stratford. According to the Stratford register of the first birth, of his daughter Susannah, he was married, in all probability, soon after entering his nineteenth year. His two other children, twins, were baptised at Stratford, in the following year, 2nd of February, 1584-5.

From the last mentioned date he must have been above twenty when he quitted his native town for London. Nothing has yet been discovered to fix the precise period; but probably he was about that age at the time. We are also ignorant whether he took his wife and children with him, or if, from the first,

he paid occasional visits to Stratford, as tradition, backed by some circumstances, informs us he did through a long course of years, till he finally retired thither.

At length, it is generally agreed that his love of the stage impelled him to London. He may have had, in addition, some friendly offers of encouragement to this change of profession. “ He could not,”

. says Malone, “have wanted an easy introduction to the theatre; for Thomas Greene, a celebrated comedian, was his townsman, perhaps his relation, and Michael Drayton was likewise born in Warwickshire; the latter was nearly of his own age, and both were in some degree of reputation soon after the year 1590." If there is such a thing as an innate propensity, we can readily accord it to Shakespeare for the theatre; and, if so, it was fostered and brought into action by the visits, from time to time, of companies of players at Stratford. Indeed his natural inclination for the profession might have met with excitement enough to raise it to a passion ; since, without looking back to former years, when he was at the age of twelve, again when he was fifteen, and every following year, the players were in his town. At one of these visits, doubtless, his townsman or relative, Thomas Greene, when he was of the company, took him by the hand, and led him delighted among his fellows.


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