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LIFE OF SHAKESPEARE.

THERE is hardly any English author of whose life we know so little as the greatest of them all, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. One of his editors has truly said that when we have told that Shakespeare was born at Stratford-on-Avon, that he married and had children there, that he went to London when he was twenty-three or twenty-four years of age, that he became an actor and wrote plays, that he returned to Stratford when he was approaching the age of fifty, resided there two or three years, made his will, died, and was buried, we have told all that can be said with certainty.

John Shakespeare, the poet's father, was, as some say, a butcher, or, as is more probably the case, a glover and woolstapler. At all events, he was a man of good position in his native town, of which he had once been high bailiff. He held some landed property which had been granted to his greatgrandfather for services rendered to Henry VII. He married Mary Arden, a member of one of the oldest families of Warwickshire, by whom he had eight children. William, the third child and eldest son, was born, there is reason to believe, on April 23, 1564, the day of St. George, the Patron Saint of England.

There was a good free grammar school in his native town, which he most probably attended. There the instruction was not altogether confined to elementary subjects, but extended to the study of the ancient classics; and although one of his mo intimate friends has said that Shakespeare “knew little La and less Greek, the phrase seems to infer that he knew si thing of both. It is known that he was a very good F scholar, and was not ignorant of Italian. When he w young, his father's fortunes declined, and he was forced

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Life of Shakespeare.

William from school to assist him in his business. At the early age of eighteen he married Anne Hathaway, the daughter of an old friend of his father, who lived in the picturesque hamlet of Shottery, about a mile from Stratford. She was older by six years than her husband; but there is no good reason for believing that the marriage was other than a happy one. He had three children, Susannah, Judith, and Hanmetthe two last being twins. Hanmet died early. In less than four years after his marriage, when he was twenty-two years of age—a young husband and a young father—he resolved to go to London to push his fortune. There he began to alter the rude historical dramas then on the stage. Afterward he produced those grand original plays known like “household words' to the whole civilised world. He soon came under the notice of Queen Elizabeth, and contracted many valuable friendships among courtiers and literary men, by all of whom he seems to have been admired and loved. He appears at this time to have worked so industriously as to produce a play, on an average, every six months; and this continued for twenty years. He and his friend Burbage, the player, were almost entire owners of the Blackfriars Theatre, and held shares in the Globe also. After twelve or fourteen years of persevering industry in London, Shakespeare found himself the possessor of handsome means, which continued steadily to increase till, there is every reason to believe, he had an income of not less than 1,5001. a year in modern money. Now he began to turn his face back to his native town. He bought the best house in Stratford, called the New Place, and shortly afterwards seven acres of land adjoining. He settled there, and with the exception of a few visits to London, and the reception of some of his closest friends, such as Ben Jonson, at Stratford, he seems to have lived the life of a country gentleman. Shakes} had no old age.

He had barely reached his fifty-third when he died. Within a month of his death he had dec. himself, in his will, to be “in perfect health and memory, be praised !' And who had ever done so much good, at the ge of fifty-three years, in elevating and refining the world hich was to live after him ?

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Life of Shakespeare.

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This is not the place to make remarks upon the works of genius of England's greatest poet. He is his own best eulogist. Read him and see how true one of his own wise sayings appears: 'One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. The man is forgotten in his works. He is never himself, but is sunk in his characters. Macbeth, Hamlet, Shylock, Bottom, Falstaff, Coriolanus, and Caliban are all living characters independent of Shakespeare. He turned all he touched to gold. A genial biographer says: 'He takes no trouble to invent a plot. A halfpenny ballad told the “Pityfull Historie of Two Loving Italians,” or “of a Jew who would for his Debt have a Pound of the Flesh of a Christian," or “of the Moorish Captain and the Merchant's Daughter,” and Shakespeare, by a magic alchemy, transmuted them into Romeo and Juliet, Shylock and Othello !' His writings may be divided into five classes, viz. :— Comedics, such as • Midsummer Night's Dream,' “The Merry Wives of Windsor,' “Much Ado about Nothing,' &c. Tragi-Comedies, as Merchant of Venice,' "Measure for Measure,' &c. Romantic Dramas, as "The Tempest,' “ As You Like It,' &c. Tragedies, as · IIamlet,” “Macbeth,' and Julius Cæsar.' Historical Plays, as 'Richard III.,' 'King John,' &c. Besides his plays he wrote two poems, 'Venus and Adonis, and the • Rape of Lucrece,' and a number of beautiful sonnets.

He died on April 23, 1610, and was buried on the 25th, in the chancel of Stratford Church. Had it been known to his contemporaries whom the world was losing,

Dear son of Memory, great heir of Fame, we should have had fuller particulars of his life and death.

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