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“ Thou smiling queen of every tuneful breast,
IT is to be lamented that the indefatigable industry of so many commentators as have engaged in the laudable work of illustrating and explaining the works of our immortal bard, should have failed in collecting those particulars which would have given an exact picture of his private and domestic character. The life of Shakspeare, by Rowe, has been adopted by all the succeeding editors, not from any high admiration of the performance, but from the want of more correct and more ample information. Yet a few tra. ditional circumstances have been gleaned ; and, in a volume like the present, it would be altogether unpardonable to pass, unnoticed, the name of Shakspeare.
His father had filled the first civil office in the borough of Stratford-upon-Avon, but becoming
reduced, he was excused paying the usual fees to the corporation, and, in 1586, he was dismissed from the situation of Alderman, on account of nonattendance.
The education of Shakspeare was scanty, but it is evident that he must have had some small knowledge of Latin, notwithstanding the invidious remark of Ben Jonson to the contrary, but his continuance at school could not be long, and Mr. Malone is of opinion that, on quitting it, he became clerk to a country attorney, or to the seneschal of a manor-court.
Shakspeare married when very young, for his daughter was born in 1583, when he had just attained his nineteenth year.
But this settlement did not allay the heat and wildness of youth. Shakspeare was fond of company, and he
engag. ed with some persons who made a practice of stealing deer in the park of Sir Thomas Lucy. In the course of these depredations Shakspeare was discovered and prosecuted, on which he libelled the knight in a ballad, which he fixed upon his park gate. In consequence of this, the prosecution was renewed, and Shakspeare was obliged to fly to London. Such is the account given by Rowe ; and it is confirmed by many authorities.
A contempary of Shakspeare, has a quaint or punning allusion to this circumstance, in a Play intituled, “ The Return from Parnassus; or the Scourge of Simony; publiquely acted by the