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simply forced upon him by the necessities of his condit The darling object of his London life evidently was, t he might return to his native town, with a handsome c petence, and dwell in the bosom of his family; and yearly visits, which tradition reports him to have made Stratford, look like any thing but a wish to forget them be forgotten by them. From what is known of his s sequent life, it is certain that he had, in large measure, t honourable ambition, so natural to an English gentleman, being the founder of a family; and as soon as he h reached the hope of doing so, he retired to his old hom and there set up his rest, as if his best sunshine of life s waited on the presence of her from whose society he alleged to have fled away in disappointment and disgust.

To Anne Hathaway, I have little doubt, were addresse in his early morn of love, three sonnets playing on the a thor's name, which are hardly good enough to have be his work at any time; certainly none too good to ha been the work of his boyhood. And I have met with conjecture on the point that bears greater likelihoods truth, than that another three, far different in merit, we addressed, much later in life, to the same object. The pr vailing tone and imagery of them are such as he wou hardly have used but with a woman in his thoughts; the are full-fraught with deep personal feeling, as distinguish from exercises of fancy; and they speak, with unsurpassab tenderness, of frequent absences, such as, before the So nets were printed, the Poet had experienced from his wif I feel morally certain that she was the inspirer of them. can quote but a part of them:

"How like a Winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen,
What old December's bareness everywhere!
For Summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And, thou away, the very birds are mute.

"From you I have been absent in the Spring,

When proud-pied April, dress'd in all his trim,


s of his condition. vidently was, that a handsome comfamily; and the

to have made to to forget them or known of his subrge measure, that lish gentleman, of soon as he had to his old home, nshine of life still ose society he is ent and disgust. , were addressed, laying on the augh to have been Do good to have have met with no er likelihoods of nt in merit, were object. The preIch as he would 3 thoughts; they as distinguished th unsurpassable before the Soned from his wife. ›irer of them. I


seen, !


As with your shadow I with these did play."
And I am scarcely less persuaded that a third cluster, of
nine, had the same source. These, too, are clearly con-
cerned with the deeper interests and regards of private
life; they carry a homefelt energy and pathos, such as
argue them to have had a far other origin than in trials
of art; they speak of compelled absences from the object
that inspired them, and are charged with regrets and con-
fessions, such as could only have sprung from the Poet's
own breast:

"Alas! 'tis true I have gone here and there,

And made myself a motley to the view;

Gor'd mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear,
Made old offences of affections new:

Most true it is, that I have look'd on truth
Askance and strangely.

"O, for my sake do you with Fortune chide,
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,
That did not better for my life provide,
Than public means, which public manners breeds.
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand,
And almost thence my nature is subdu'd
To what it works in, like the dyer's hand.

"Accuse me thus: That I have scanted all
Wherein I should your great deserts repay;
Forgot upon your dearest love to call,
Whereto all bonds do tie me day by day;

That I have frequent been with unknown minds,

And given to time your own dear-purchas'd right."

It will take more than has yet appeared, to convince me, that when the Poet wrote these and other similar lines his




thoughts were travelling anywhere but home to the b of his youth and mother of his children.

I have run ahead of my theme; but it may as wel added, here, that Francis Meres, writing in 1598, speak the Poet's "sugared Sonnets among his private friend which indicates the purpose for which they were writ None of them had been printed when this was said of th They were first collected and published in 1609; the lection being arranged, I think, in "most admirable di der," so that it is scarce possible to make head or tai them.

On the 2d of February, 1585, two more children, tw were christened in the parish church as "Hamnet and dith, son and daughter to William Shakespeare." Wel of no more children being added to the family. I n again so far anticipate as to observe, that the son Ham was buried in August, 1596, being then in his twelfth y This is the first severe home-stroke known to have ligh on the Poet.

Tradition has been busy with the probable causes Shakespeare's going upon the stage. Several causes h been assigned; such as, first, a natural inclination to etry and acting; second, a deer-stealing frolic, which resul in making Stratford too hot for him; third, the pecuni embarrassments of his father. It is not unlikely that these causes, and perhaps others, may have concurred prompting the step.

For the first, we have the testimony of Aubrey, who at Stratford probably about the year 1680. He was an rant and inveterate hunter after anecdotes, and seems have caught up, without sifting, whatever quaint or curi matter came in his way. So that no great reliance attach to what he says, unless it is sustained by other thority. But in this case his words sound like truth, a are supported by all the likelihoods that can grow fr what we should presume to have been the Poet's natu turn of mind. "This William," says he, "being incli


home to the bride it may as well be in 1598, speaks of s private friends"; they were written. s was said of them. in 1609; the colst admirable disorake head or tail to

pre children, twins. "Hamnet and Juespeare." We hear he family. I must at the son Hamnet in his twelfth year. wn to have lighted

robable causes of everal causes have inclination to poolic, which resulted ird, the pecuniary › unlikely that all have concurred in

'Aubrey, who was 0. He was an artes, and seems to quaint or curious great reliance can ined by other aund like truth, and It can grow from che Poet's natural "being inclined

naturally to poetry and acting, came to London, I guess,
about eighteen, and was an actor in one of the playhouses,
and did act exceedingly well. He began early to make essays
in dramatic poetry, which at that time was very low, and
his plays took well. He was a handsome, well-shaped man,
very good company, and of a very ready and pleasant
smooth wit. Ben Jonson and he did gather humours of
men daily wherever they came."

This natural inclination, fed by the frequent theatrical
performances at Stratford, would go far, if not suffice of
itself, to account for the Poet's subsequent course of life.
Before 1586, no doubt, he was well acquainted with some
of the players, with whom we shall hereafter find him asso-
ciated. In their exhibitions, rude as these were, he could
not but have been a greedy spectator and an apt scholar.
Thomas Greene, a fellow-townsman of his, was already one
of their number. All this might not indeed be enough to
draw him away from Stratford; but when other reasons
came, if others there were, for leaving, these circumstances
would hold out to him an easy and natural access and invi-
tation to the stage. Nor is there any extravagance in sup-
posing that, by 1586, he may have taken some part as actor
or writer, perhaps both, in the performances of the company
which he afterwards joined.

The deer-stealing matter as given by Rowe is as follows: That Shakespeare fell into the company of some wild fellows who were in the habit of stealing deer, and who drew him into robbing a park owned by Sir Thomas Lucy, of Charlecote, near Stratford. That, being prosecuted for this, he lampooned Sir Thomas in some bitter verses; which made the Knight so sharp after him, that he had to steal himself off and take shelter in London.

Several have attempted to refute this story; but the main substance of it stands approved by too much strength of credible tradition to be easily overthrown. And it is certain from public records that the Lucys had great power at Stratford, and were not seldom engaged in disputes with



the corporation. Mr. Halliwell met with an old reco titled "the names of them that made the riot upon M Thomas Lucy, Esquire." Thirty-five inhabitants of ford, chiefly tradespeople, are named in the list, bu Shakespeares among them.

Knight, over-zealous in the Poet's behalf, will not any thing to be true that infers the least moral blemi his life: he therefore utterly discredits the story in tion, and hunts it down with arguments more inge than sound. In writing biography, special-pleading i good; and I would fain avoid trying to make the Poe any better than he was. Little as we know about him. evident enough that he had his frailties, and ran into d faults, both as a poet and as a man. And when we him confessing, as in a passage already quoted, "Most it is, that I have looked on truth askance and stra ly"; we may be sure he was but too conscious of th that needed to be forgiven; and that he was as far as one from wishing his faults to pass for virtues. Deer-s ing, however, was then a kind of fashionable sport, whatever might be its legal character, it was not mo regarded as involving any criminality or disgrace. So the whole thing may be justly treated as a mere yout frolic, wherein there might indeed be some indiscretion, a deal of vexation to the person robbed, but no stain on party engaged in it.

The precise time of the Poet's leaving Stratford is known; but we cannot well set it down as later than 1 His children, Hamnet and Judith, were born, as I have in the early part of 1585; and for several years before time his father's affairs were drooping. The prosecution Sir Thomas Lucy, added to his father's straitness of me may well have made him desirous of quitting Stratf while the meeting of inclination and opportunity in acquaintance with the players may have determined where to go, and what to do. The company were alre in a course of thrift; the demand for their labours

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