Imagens da página

ried on the north-fide of the chancel, in the gre church at Stratford, where a monument, as



66 'Tis a hundred to ten

66 But his soul is damn'd." MALONE. Whether the epitaph on Combe was Shakespeare or not, it is not at present possible to determine ; th however, which follows, is inserted, both because hath been attributed to him and also because Milton af pears, from his epitaph on Shakespeare, to have bee no stranger to it. Epitaph on the tomb of Sir Thomas Stanley, knt. fe cond son of Edward Earl of Derby ; which was TE maining on the north-side of the chancel of the churc of Tong, in the county of Salop, in 1663, when Si William Dugdale made the last visitation of tha county; and which Sir William, in a marginal not says, was written by William Shakespeare the lat famous tragedian : “ Ake who lies here, but do not weepe ; “ He is not dead, he doth but seepe: “ 'This stony Regifter is for his Bones, “ His Fame is more perpetuail than these Stones; .“ And his own goodnesse, with himself being gone, “ Shall live when earthly monument is none. “ Not monumentall ftone preserves our fame, “ Nor skye aspiring Piramids our name; " The memory of him for whom this stands, “ Shall out-live marble and defacers' hands : “ When all to time's consumption shall be given, “Stanley,for whom this stands, íhall stand in Heaven." From C. 35. fol. 20. in the College of Arms


graved in the plate, is placed in the wall *. On His grave-stone underneath is,

Good friend; for Jesus' fake forbear
To dig the dust inclosed here.
Bleft be the man that spares these stones,

And curst be he that moves any bones t. 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 Susanna, who was his fa| vourite, to Dr John Hall, a physician of good re

putation in that country. She left one child only, 1 a daughter, who was married, first, to Thomas

Nath, Esq. and afterwards to Sir John Bernard of Abbington, but died likewise without issue 1.

This is what I could learn of any note, either relating to himself or family: the character of the man is best seen in his writings. But since Ben


Jonson He died on his birth-day, April 23, 1616, and had exactly completed his fifty-second year. MALONE.

† “ And curft be he that moves my bones.” It is uncertain whether this epitaph was written by Shakespeare himself, or by one of his friends after his death. The imprecation contained in this last line might have been suggested by an apprehension that our author's remains might share the same fate with those of the rest of his countrymen, and be added to the immense pile of human bones depofited in the charnelhouse at Stratford. This, however, is mere conjecture ; for fimilar execrations are found in many ancient Latin epitaphs. MALONE.

| This, however, is a mistake, as will appear by the pedigree annexed to the list of baptisms, &c. Reed.

Jonson has made a sort of an essay towards it in his Discoveries, I will give it in his words:

“ I remember the players have often mentioned it as an honour to Shakespeare, that in writing (whatsoever he penned) he never blotted out a line. My answer hath been, Would he had blotted a thousand! which they thought a malevolent speech. I had not told posterity 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, and do honour his memory, on this side idola. try, as much as any. He was, indeed, honest, and of an open and free nature, had an excellent fancy, brave noțions, and gentle expresions; wherein he flowed with that facility, that sometimes it was necessary he should be stopped : Suffiaminandus erat, as Augustus said of Haterius. His wit was in his own power: would the rule of it had been fo 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, tbou doft me wrong, he replied,

Cafar did never wrong, but with just cause. And such like, which were ridiculous. But he re. deemed 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 Shakespeare, 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


[ocr errors]

quoted by Mr Jonson. Befides his plays in this edition, there are two or three ascribed to him by Mr Langbain, which I have never seen, and know nothing of. He writ likewise Venus and Adonis, and Tarquin and Lucrece, in stanzas, which have been printed in a late collection of poems. As to the character given of him by Ben Jonson, there is a good deal in it: but I believe it may be as well expressed by what Horace fays of the first Romans, who wrote tragedy upon the Greek models (or indeed translated them) in his epistle to Au. guftus :

Natura fublimis & acer,
Nam spirat tragicum fatis & feliciter audet !

Sed turpem putat in chartis metuitque lituram. As I have not proposed to myself to enter into a large and complete collection upon Shakespeare's works, fo I will only take the liberty, with all due submission to the judgment of others, to observe some of those things I have been pleased with in looking him over.

His plays are properly to be distinguished only into comedies and tragedies. Those which are called histories, and even some of his comedies, are really tragedies, with a run or mixture of comedy amongst them. That way of tragi-comedy was the common mistake of that age, and is indeed become so agreeable to the English taste, that though the feverer criticks among us cannot bear it, yet the generality of our audiences seem to be better pleased with it than with an exact tragedy. The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Comedy of Errors, and The Taming of the Shreri, are all pure comedy


b 2

the rest, however they are called, have something of both kinds. It is not very easy to determine which way of writing he was most excellent in. There is certainly a great deal of entertainment in his comical humours; and though they did not then strike at all ranks of people, as the satire of the present age has taken the liberty to do, yet there is a pleasing and a well-distinguished variety in those characters which he thought fit to meddle with. Falstaff is allowed by every body to be a mafter-piece; the character is always well fustained, though drawn out into the length of three plays; and even the account of his death, given by his old landlady, Mrs Quickly, in the firit act of Henry the Fifth, though it be extremely natural, is yet as diverting as any part of his life. If there be any fault in the draught he hath made of this lewd old fellow, it is, that though he has made him a thief, lying, cowardly, vain-glorious, and, in short, every way vicious, yet he has given him so much wit as to make him almost too agreeable; and I do not know whether some people have not, in remembrance of the diverfion he had formerly afforded them, been sorry to see his friend Hal use him fo fcurvily, when he comes to the crown in the end of The Second Part of Henry the Fourth. Amongst other extravagancies, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, he hath made him a deer-stealer, that he might at the same time remember his WarwickShire prosecutor, under the name of Justice Shallow; he has given him very near the same coat of arms which Dugdale, in his Antiquities of that county, describes for a family there, and makes the Welsh parson descant very pleasantly upon


« AnteriorContinuar »