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fomewhat 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 V. and Henry VI.'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 friendship from the Earl of South, ampton, 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 fingular in the magnificence of this patron of Shakespear'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

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 shewn to French dancers and Italian singers.

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 juít value and elteem 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 Johnson began with a remarkable piece of humanity and good-nature. Mr. Johnton, who was at that time altogether unknown to the world, had offered one of his plays to the players, in order to have it acted; 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 Shakespear luckily cast his eye upon it, and found something so well in it as to engage

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him first to read it through, and afterwards to recommend Mr. Johnson and his writings to the public. Johnson was certainly a very good scholar, and in that had the advantage of Shakespear; 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 juft and proper. In a conversation between Sir John Suckling, Sir Wilham d'Avenant, Endyinion Porter, Mr. Hales of Eaton, and Ben Johnson, Sir John Suckling, who was a profeffed admirer of Shakespear, had undertaken his defence against Ben Johnson with some warmth ; Mr. Hales, who had fat still for some time, told them, That if Mr. Shakespear had not read the ancients, he had likewise not stoln any thing from them; and that if he would produce any one topic finely treated by any of them, he would undertake to New fomethiug upon the same subject, at least as well written by Shakespear.

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 occafion, 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 intitled him to the friendthip of the gentlemen of the neighbourhood. Amongst them, it is a story almost ftill remembered in that country, that he had a partir cular intimacy with Mr. Combe, an old gentleman noted thereabouts for his wealth and usury. It happened, that in a pleasant conversation amongst their common friends, Mr. Combe told Shakespear in a laughing manner, that he fancied he intended to write his epitaph, if he happened to outlive him; and fince he could not know what might be said of him when he was dead, he detired it might be done immediately. Upon which Shakespear gave him these four veries.

Ten in the hundred lies here ingravid,
Tis a hundred to ten his foul is not sav'd.

If any man ask, Who lies in this tombs

OA! ho! quoth the devil, 'tis my John-a-Gombe.
But the sharpness of the fatyr is faid to have ftung the
man so 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 grave-ftone underneath is,

Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear
To dig the dust inclosed here.
Bless'd be the man that spares these stones,

And curs'd be he that moves my bones.
He had three daughters, of which two lived to be
married; Judith, the elder, to one Mr. Thomas Qui-
ney, by whom she had three fons, 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 firit to Thomas Nath, Efq; and afterwards
to Sir John Bernard of Abbington, but died likewife
without iffue.

This is what I could learn of any note, either relating to himself or family. The character of the man is belt seen in his writings. But since Ben Jolinson has made a sort of an effizy towards it in his Discoveries, I will give it in his words.

“ I remember the players have often mentioned it as " an honour to Shakespear, that in writing, whatso

ever he penneit, 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 pofterity this, but for their ignorance, who chose " that circumstance to commend their friend by, where" in he most faulted; and to justify mine own candour; " for I loved the man, and do honour his memory, on " this fide idolatry, as much as any. He was indeed “ honest, and of an open and free nature; had an ex« cellent fancy, brave notions, and gentle expressions; " wherein he Howed with that facility, that sometimes * it was necessary he should be stopped: Suflaminandus Vol.I.

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erat, as Augustus said of Haterius. His wit was in " his own power,

would the rule 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,

Cæfar did never wrong, but with just caufe *. - and such like, which were ridiculous. But he reas 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 Shakespear, there is somewhat like it in Julius Cæsar, but without the absurdity; nor did I ever meet with it in any edition that I have seen, as quoted by Mr. Johnson. Besides 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 Johnson, there is a good deal true in it; but I believe it may be as well expressed by what Horace says of the first Romans, who wrote tragedy upon the Greek models, (or indeed tranflated them), in his epistle to Augustus.

* If ever there was such a line written by Shakespear, I should fancy it might have its place vol. 7. p. 44. after line 32. thus :

Cæsar ba bad great wrong.

3 Pleb. Cæfar had never wrong, but with just cause. and very humouroufly in the cha acter of a Plebrian. One might believe Ben Jornfon's rimark was made upon no better ciedit than fume blunder of an actor in speaking that verse near the beginning of the third act, p. 34. 1.41.42.

Know, Casar d'th not wrong ; nor without cause

Will be be sutisfied. But the verse, as cited by Ben Johnson, does not connect with will be fatisfied. Perhaps this play was never printed in B:n Johnson's time, and so he had nothing to judge by but as the actor pleased to {peak it. Mr. Pepe.

-Natura

Naturú sublimis & acer,
Nam fpirat tragicum fatis & feliciter audet,
Sed turpem putat in chartis metuitque lituram.

As I have not proposed to myself to enter into a large and compleat colle&tion upon Shakespear'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 distinguifhed 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 critics 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 shorew, are all pure comedy; the rest, however they are called, have something of both kinds. 'Tis 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 fatyr 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 masterpiece. The character is always well sustained, 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 first act of Henry V. though it be extremely natural, is yet as diverting as any part of his life. If there be any fault in the draught he has made of this lewd old fellow, it is, that though he has made him a thief, ly-ing 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 fome people have not, in remembrance of the diversion he had formerly afforded them, been forry to see his friend Hal use him fo fcurvily, when he comes to the

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