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Thus, is it not extremely probable, that there were two or more persons named John Shakspeare, living al Stratford, or in its immediate vicinity? On this questionable point, however, we must forbear to dilato at present, though it is certainly entitled to particular investigation, in a more extended memoir than can be admitted into this work.
WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE, the pride of England and of nature, first drew breath in the town of Stratfordupon-Avon, in the county of Warwick, on the 23rd day of April, 1564. His juvenile habits and early associations are unknown; but it appears evident from bis writings, that he did not receive a very liberal, or as it is commonly called, “learned education.” Rowe states, that he was “ for some time at a free-school, where it is probable he acquired what Latin he was master of; but that the narrowness of his circumstances, and the want of his assistance at home, forced his father to withdraw him from thence, and unhappily prevented his further proficiency in that language.” On this statement Malone remarks, in a note, “I believe that on leaving school, Shakspeare was placed in the office of some country attorney, or the seneschal of some manor courl.” The principal reason which this Jaborious commentator urges for his opinion, is the appearance of legal “ technical skill” which is manifested in our poet's plays. But whatever doubts there may be as to his employment on leaving school, it is certain that he early entered into the matrimonial condition, for an entry in the Stratford register mentions, that “Susanna, daughter of William Shakspeare, was baptised May 26, 1583,” when he was only nineteen years of age. His wife was Anne Hathaway, who is said to have been the “daughter of a substantial yeoman, then residing at the village of Sholtery,” which is distant about a mile from the town of Stralford. This lady, as may be inferred from the inscription (quoted in the sequel) on her tombstone in the church, was eight years older than her husband, to whom she brought three children, Şusanna, Judith, and Hamnet: the two last were twins, and were baptized February 2, 1584-5.
Concerning the domestic economy of Shakspeare after his marriage, and tbe means by which he maintained his family, neither tradition nor record furnisb the most distant hint. Nor is the date of his leaving Stratford better ascertained; but it is conjectured, with much plausibility, that it did not take place till after the birth of his twin children. As to the cause of his flight to the metropolis, the common story is, that being detected in robbing the deer park of Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote, that gentleman, who was one of the county magistrates, prosecuted him with so much rigour, that he found it necessary to escape out of the boundaries of his influence and jurisdiction. Sir Thomas's spirit of justice, or, as some call it, revenge, is said, on this occasion, to have been stimulated by a ballad written by Shakspeare, of which the following stanza was communicated to Steevens by Mr. Oldys, Norroy King at Arms:
“A parliemente member, a justice of peace,
He thinks himself greate,
Yet an asse in his state
Sing lowsie Lucie, whatever befall it.” These lines, if really from the pen of Shakspeare, are not calculated to impress his admirers with a favourable idea of his early powers of composition; nor, if the circumstances which are said to bave occasioned them be true, can any one regard them otherwise than as the effusion of a sarcastic heart, and of a mind insensible to moral propriety. As our bard, however, both in his writings and in his subsequent life, exemplifies a very opposite character, we are inclined to regard the whole story as fictitious, and to ascribe bis removal to London either to natural inclination or to family disagreement, perhaps estrangement from his wife. This notion derives some probability from the neglect of her manifested in his will, and the fact of his not cohabiting with her, or at least having any children by her, after 1584. It'is curious also, that an eutry