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inent, but not without devoting some time to dramatio composition; for Malone asserts, that the play of Twelfth Night was written after his final residence at Stratford. In this house he died, on Tuesday, April 23, 1616, being the anniversary of his 52d year: in two days afterwards his remains were interred within the chancel of the parish church; where a flat stone and a mural monument were afterwards placed to point out the spot, and coinmemorate his likeness, name, and memory.
Such is the substance of the scanty notices of the life of Sbakspeare, which we have been enabled to collect from Rowe, and from the various cominentators on his works, to Malone inclusive. To these we shall add, in his own words, the following anecdotes recorded by John Aubrey in his MS. collections in the Ashmolean Museom, at Oxford. “Mr. William Shakespear was borne at Stratford-upon-Avon, in the county of Warwick : his father was a butcher, and I have been told heretofore by some of the neighbours, that when he was a boy he exercised his father's trade, but when he kill'd a calfe he would doe it in a high style and make a speech. There was at that time another butcher's son in this towne, that was helde not at all inferior to him for a naturall witt, his acquaintance and coetanean, but dyed young. This Wm. being inclined naturally to poetry and acting came to London, I guesse about 18, and was an actor at one of the playhouses, and did act exceedingly well. Now B. Jonson never was a good actor, but an excellent instructor. He began early to make essayes at dramatique poetry, which at that time was very lowe, and his playes tooke well. He was a handsome well shap't man, very good company, and of a very readie and pleasant smooth witt: the humour of -..., the constable in a Midsummer Night's Dreame, he happened to take at Grendon, in Bucks, which is the roade from London to Stratford; and there was living that constable about 1642, when I first came to Oxon. Mr. Jos. Howe is of that parish, and knew him. Ben Jonson and he did gather humours of men dayly, wherever they caine. One time, as he was at the tavern, at Stratford-uponAvon, one Combes, an old rich usurer, was to be buryed, he makes there this extemporary epitaph:
“Ten in the hundred the devill allowes, But Combes will have twelve, he sweares and vowes : If any one askes who lies in this tombe, *Hoh, quoth the devill, 'tis my John ở Combe.' " He was wont to goe to his native country once a yeare. I think I have been told, that he left 2 or 300 lib. per annum, there and thereabout, to a sister. I have heard Sir Wm. Davenant and Mr. Thomas Shadwell (who is counted the best comedian we bave now), say that he had a most prodigious witt; and did admire his naturall parts beyond all other dramaticall writers. He was wont to say, that he never blotted out a line in his life: sayd Ben Jonson, I wish he had blotted out a thousand. His comcedies will remain witt as long as the English tongue is understood, for that he handles mores hominum : now, our present writers reflect so much opon particular persons and coxcombeities that twenty yeares hence they will not be understood. . “Though, as Ben Jonson sayes of him, that he had but little Latine and lesse Greek, he understood Latine pretty well, for he had been in his younger years a schoolmaster in the country.” See Letters from the Bodleian Library, &c. Vol. iii. p. 307.
The above account, though apparently sanctioned by good authority, and probably written about thirty years after Shakspeare's death, is treated by almost all his biographers as wholly incredible. of this opinion is Malone, in his notes upon the Life of our poet by Rowe; but in bis own “Historical Account of the English Slage,” he seems at a loss whether to argue for or against the probability of Aubrey's statement. The same wavering and inconsistency, on dubious points, are visible in other parts of the writings of that commentator. Thus in one place he is positive that Shakspeare's father was thrice married; and in another, he is equally confident that he had not more than two wives. I bis chronology, he states 1591 to be the year in which our author commenced writer for the stage, and argues throughout the whole essay on that presumption; but