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ral annual charities to the parish of Stratford, and an hundred pounds to be lent to fifteen poor tradesmen from three years to three years, changing the parties every third year, at the rate of fifty shillings per annum ; the interest to be distributed to the alms poor there." The donation has all the air of a rich and sagacious usu
Shakespeare himself did not survive Mr. Combe long; for he died in 1616, on the 23d of April, his birth-day, leaving behind three daughters two of whoni lived to be married. He was interred on the north side of the chancel in the great church at Stratford, where a monument, decent enough for the time, is erected to him, and placed against the wall. He is represented under an arch, in a sitting posture, a cushion spread before him, with a pen in his right hand, and his left rested on a scroll of paper.
The Latin distich, which is placed under the cushion has been given us by Mr. Pope in this manner.
Ingeniu Pylium, genio Socratem, arte Maronem,
We cannot discern the difference betwixt ingenio and genio, in the first line, the terms having been ever considered entirely synonimous.
Dugdale, in his Antiquities of Warwickshire, has copied this distich with a distinction which Mr. Rowe has followed, and which certainly restores us the true meaning of the epitaph.
Judicio Pylium, genio Socratem, &c.
The following lines are inscribed, under the Latin verses, on bis monument.
* Stay, passenger, why dost thou go so fast?
Again, near the wall on which this monument is erected, is a plain free stone, under which his body is buried, with another epitaph, expressed in an uncouth jumble of small and capital letters.
Public gratitude, upon representation of his own Julius Cæsar, complimented his valuable memory with means to erect an exceeding well-imagined monument in Westminster Abbey, (1741) upon which we find that celebrated inscription taken from the Tempest, • The cloud-capt towers, &c.” an inscription the most fanciful, philosophical, and comprehensive for the occasion that ever pen placed upon paper, or instrument graved in stone: it seems almost providentially suggested for the very purpose whereto it has been so solemnly and so judiciously applied.
Thus rose our immortal bard in the auspicious reign of Queen Elizabeth, an æra favourable to genius and learning, when liberty began to dawn, and dispel the mists of Gothic ignorance, and its puny nursling, Super stition.-Reason now having assumed its empire,' over the human mind, the mantle of mystery, which had veiled both religion and literature, was removed; man. kind began to exercise their intellectual powers, and assert their right to think for themselves.
Dr. Johnson describes the appearance of this extraordinary genius at a period when mankind were struggling to emerge from barbarity with an energy of diction scarcely to be equalled in the whole compass of poetic composition. The lines alluded to are as fol." low :
“When learning's triumph o'er her barbarous foes
His dramatic works were first collected and published together, by his fellow comedians, in 1623, seven years after his death; but they have since undergone a number of republications, by Rowe, Theobald, Hanmer, Warburton, Capel, Johnson, Steevens, Reed, Malone, &c.
It is observed that Shakespeare, in the early part of life, acquired more reputation by his poems than his plays-indeed they are more frequently and more ex-; pressively alluded to by contemporary writers. Meres, i in his Wit's Treasury, published in 1598, has the follow
ing observation. “ As the soul of Euphorbus was thought to live in Pythagoras, so the sweet witty soul of Ovid lives in the mellifluous honey-tongued Shakespeare: witness his Venus and Adonis; his Lucrece; his sacred sonnets among his private friends.” In his dedication to the Earl of Southampton, he calls his poem of Venus and Adonis, the first heir of his invention; or, in other words, his first poetical production. It was printed in 1693, and so universally approved in his life-time, that, in the course of thirteen years from the first publication, it underwent six impressions,
Some are of opinion that the subject of Venus and Adonis was suggested to our author by Spenser's striking description of the hangings in the Ludy of Delight's Castle, in the third book of the Faery Queene ; or by a short poem, entitled, The Shepherd's Song of Venus und Adonis, written by Henry Constable. He did not found the basis of his poem on the mythological story introduced in Spenser's Faery Queene, but rather followed the model of another poem, which represents Adonis as insensible to the charms and caresses of transcendent beauties.
His poem entitled The Rape of Lucrece, was published in 1594, the year after the first appearance of Venus and Adonis ; and such was its estimation, that it went through four more editions, having been reprinted in 1598, 1600, 1607, and 1616. The Roman story, on which the Rape of Lucrece is founded, is detailed at large in the argument prefixed to the poem. Lucretia, the grand subject of it, was celebrated for conjugal Sidelity throughout the Gothic ages : and as the legend is to
be found amongst the writings of Chaucer and other bards of antiquity, Mr. Wharton is of opinion, that the perusal of some of these works, suggested to Shakespeare the plan of his poem.
These two poems were the only works Shakespeare published himself.—Their reputation in his day is evident, from the numerous impressions they underwent in the course of a short time. But the author, having adopted his composition to the taste of the times, when prolixity and circumlocution, even on trivial subjects, were not merely dispensed with, but approved; they are not read, perhaps, with the same pleasure in modern as in former days, being deemed too long, and therefore tedious. They evince great force of genius, and are acknowledged by the best critics to be superior to the productions of any contemporary authors in the line of what is called narrative poetry. The preference is given to Venus and Adonis. Fenton observes that “ the passion of Venus for Adonis, is described, by our admirable Shakespeare, in language only inferior to the finest writers of antiquity.”
The Sonnets first appeared in 1609, and were republished in 1640.-They amount in the whole to the number of one hundred and fifty four, Many of them are written with perspicuity and energy; some are less forcible and expressive, and most of them want the charm of variety to recommend them.
The poem entitled A Lover's Complaint, first published in 1609, possesses great merit; the commencement is beautifully descriptive, and the piece in general bears a greater resemblauce to the lighter productions of