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He was shortly after dismissed from the corporation for a neglect of attendance at the halls for the seven preceding yearst; and, in 1587, subjected to an action for debt. The precise state of his affairs during the ten succeeding years is not known, but it does not seem likely, from his describing himself in 1597 as of “ very small wealth and very few friends,” that the sun of prosperity ever again shone upon him ; and a supplication from the bailiff and burgesses of Stratford, in 1590, records the hopeless depression of the once highly prosperous trade of a woolstapler. The town had then “ fallen into much decay for want of such trade as heretofore they had by clothing and making of yarn, employing and maintaining a number of poor people by the same, which now live in great penury and misery, by reason they are not set at work as before they have been.”
John Shakspeare died in 1601. His family was numerous : Jone, Margaret, William, Gilbert, Jone, Ann, Richard, and Edmund.ll The
Register of the Bailiff's Court. + Regist. Burg. Strat. [ Declaration filed in the Bailiff's Court. Ś Bill of complaint against John Lambert. 9 Supplication to the Lord Treasurer Burghley. || Note D.
first born, Jone, died in earliest infancy, and Margaret when only five months old. William was the poet. Of Gilbert nothing appears after the registry of his baptism*: the register, indeed, mentions the burial of “Gilbert Shakspeare, adolescens,” in 1611-12, who might, or might not, have been the son of the elder Gilbert. Jone married William Hart, a hatter in Stratford. She died in 1646, leaving three sons.t She was remembered in her immortal brother's will by a contingent legacy of fifty pounds to her and her children; a bequest of twenty pounds, all his wearing apparel, and the house which she then occupied, at a yearly rent of one shilling, for her life. The Harts have continued in Stratford during the two centuries which have elapsed since the poet's death. In 1794, one of Shakspeare's two houses in Henley-street was the property of Thomas Hart, a butcher, the sixth in descent from Jone. Ann Shakspeare died in infancy.f Richard was buried in 161213.S Edmund Shakspeare embraced the calling of an actor, influenced, probably, in his choice by the connection of his brother with the theatre. He was a player at the Globe, lived in St. Saviour's, and was buried in the church of that parish on the 31st of December, 1607.*
* The text states the fact literally ; but I have no doubt that Gilbert lived till after the Restoration of Charles II., and was that brother of Shakspeare of whom Oldys reports, that he saw the dramatist perform the character of Adam in As You Like It. See Note N. + Parish Register of Stratford.
WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE was born at Stratfordupon-Avon, in April, 15647, a fact which comprises the whole of the poet's history till he is found, “ for some time,” at the free grammar school of his native townt, where he, doubtless, acquired the Latin, “ the small Latin,” that his friend Ben Jonson assures us he was master of. The narrowness of his parent's circumstances was an insuperable bar against the progress of his education, and he was summoned home to assist in the occupation of his fathers, which, at the period now spoken of, was that of a butcher, if the tradition is to be credited which relates that young Shakspeare killed a calf in
• high style,” and graced his slaughter by a speech. The same authority assigns also to
* Register of Saint Saviour's parish.
+ Parish Register. He was baptized on the 26th, and the day of his birth is said to have been the 23d, but on no sufficient authority | Rowe.
Rowe. Aubrey. A good story is seldom good enough for Aubrey. He adds, “ There was at that time another butcher's son in this town, that was held not at all inferior to him for a natural wit, his acquaintance and coetanean, but died young.”
his younger years the occupation of a schoolmaster in the country.*
Shakspeare had scarcely attained the age of eighteen, when he married. His wife was Anne, the daughter of Richard Hathaway, a substantial yeoman in the neighbourhood of Stratford.t She was twenty-six years of age, (eight years older than her husband,) who neither bettered his circumstances, nor elevated himself in society by the connection. In the following year, 1583, his daughter Susanna was born; and about eighteen months afterwards his wife bore twins, a son and a daughter, who were baptized by the names of Hamnet and Judith.I
Shakspeare's marriage was no proof of his worldly prudence, nor was the next great event in his life of a wiser character.
His associates, it is recorded, were dissolute, and some of them made a frequent practice of
* Aubrey. Note E.
+ Rowe says, “ the daughter of one Hathaway." The inscription on her tomb-stone, in Stratford church, proves her christian name and her age. “ Here lyeth interred the body of Anne, wife of William Shakspeare, who departed this life the 6th August, 1623, being of the age of 67 years.
" The date of Shakspeare's marriage is only known by reference to the birth of the first child. Note F.
| Parish Register.
deer-stealing. Shakspeare was, on ne more than one occasion, induced to join them in their incursions on the property of Sir Thomas Lucy, of Charlecote, in the neighbourhood of Stratford. The opinions of the injurer and the injured, in a case of this sort, were not very likely to accord; and it, therefore, excites no surprise that, on detection, Shakspeare imagined himself too harshly treated In revenge, he affixed a scurrilous ballad to the gate of the owner of the stolen deer.* One stanza of the offensive pasquinade has descended in connection with the story of its author's indiscretion :
“ A parliament member, a justice of peace,
He thinks himself greate,
Yet an asse in his state
+ Jones of Tarbick, -related by Oldys and Capell. The ballad hąs, at last, been discovered entire; but unaccompanied by any allusion to the occasion of its composition. The lines in the text are printed as two stanzas in the entire ballad.
“ He thinks himself greate, yet an åsse in his state," forming the first line of the second stanza. Note G.