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certainly nothing was ever more justly written, than the character of Cardinal Wolsey, He has shewn him insolent in his prosperity; and yet, by a wonderful address, he makes his fall and ruin the subject of general compassion. The whole man, with his vices and virtues, is finely and exactly described in the second scene of the fourth act. The distresses likewise of Queen Catharine, in this play, are very movingly touched; and though the art of the poet has screened King Henry from any gross imputation of injustice, yet one is inclined to wish, the Queen had met with a fortune more worthy of her birth and virtue. Nor are the manners, proper to the persons represented, less justly observed in those characters taken from the Roman history; and of this, the fierceness and impatience of Coriolanus, his courage and disdain of the common people, the virtue and philosophical temper of Brutus, and the irregular greatness of mind in M. Antony, are beautiful proofs. For the two last especially, you find them exactly as they are described by Plutarch, from whom certainly Shakspeare copied them. He has indeed followed his original pretty close, and taken in several little incidents that might have been spared in a play. But, as I hinted before, his design seems most commonly rather to describe those great men in the several fortunes and accidents of their lives, than to take any single great action, and form his work simply upon that. However, there are some of his pieces where the fable is founded upon one action only. Such are more especially, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Othello.-The design in Romeo and Juliet is plainly the punishment of their two families, for the unreasonable feuds and animosities that had been so long kept up between them, and occasioned the effusion of so much blood. In the management of this story, he has shewn something wonderfully tender and passionate in the love-part, and very pitiful in the distress.Hamlet is founded on much the same tale with the Electra of Sophocles. In each of them, a young prince is engaged to revenge the death of his father; their mothers are equally guilty, are both concerned in the murder of their husbands, and are afterwards married to the murderers. There is, in the first part of the Greek tragedy, something very moving in the grief of Electra; but, as Mr. Dacier has observed, there is something very unnatural and shocking in the manners he has given that Princess and Orestes, in the latter part. Orestes imbrues his hands in the blood of his own mother; and that barbarous action is performed, though not immediately upon the stage, yet so near, that the audience hear Clytemnestra crying out to gysthus for help, and to her son for mercy; while Electra her daughter, and a Princess, (both of them characters that ought to have appeared with more decency,) stands upon the stage, and encourages her brother in the parricide. What horrors does this not raise! Clytemnestra was a wicked woman, and had deserved to die; nay, in the truth of the story, she was killed by her own son; but to represent an action of this kind on the stage, is certainly an offence against those rules of manners proper to the persons, that ought to be observed there. On the contrary, let us only look a little on the conduct of Shakspeare. Hamlet is represented with the same piety towards his father, and resolution to revenge his death, as Orestes; he has the same abhorrence for his mother's guilt, which, to provoke him the more, is heightened by incest: but it is with wonderful art and justness of judgement that the poet restrains him from doing violence to his mother. To prevent any thing of that kind, he makes his father's Ghost forbid that part of his vengeance:—
But howsoever thou pursu'st this act,
This is to distinguish between horror and terror. The latter is a proper passion of tragedy, but the former ought always to be carefully avoided. And certainly no
dramatic writer ever succeeded better in raising terror in the minds of an audience than Shakspeare has done.The whole tragedy of Macbeth, but more especially the scene where the King is murdered, in the second act, as well as this play, is a noble proof of that manly spirit with which he writ; and both shew how powerful he was, in giving the strongest notions to our souls that they are capable of. I cannot leave Hamlet, without taking notice of the advantage with which we have seen this master-piece of Shakspeare distinguish itself upon the stage, by Mr. Betterton's fine performance of that part; a man, who, though he had no other good qualities, as he has a great many, must have made his way into the esteem of all men of letters, by this only excellency. No man is better acquainted with Shakspeare's manner of expression, and indeed he has studied him so well, and is so much a master of him, that whatever part of his he performs, he does it as if it had been written on purpose for him, and that the author had exactly conceived it as he plays it. I must own a particular obligation to him, for the most considerable part of the passages relating to this life, which I have here transmitted to the publick ; his veneration for the memory of Shakspeare having engaged him to make a journey into Warwickshire, on purpose to gather up what remains he could, of a name for which he had so great a veneration *.
*This Account of the Life of Shakspeare is printed from Mr. Rowe's second edition, in which it had been abridged and altered by himself after its appearance in 1709.
Extracted from the Registry of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Vicesimc-quinto die Marti, anno regni Domini nostri Jacobi nunc Regis Angliæ, &c. decimo-quarto, & Scotia quadragesimo-nono, anno Domini 1616.
IN the Name of GOD, Amen. I William Shakespeare, of Stratford upon Avon, in the county of Warwick, gent., in perfect health and memory (God be praised!) do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following; that is to say:
First, I commend my soul into the bands of Gon my Creator; hoping, and assuredly believing, through the only merits of JESUS CHRIST my Saviour, to be made partaker of life everlasting; and my body to the earth whereof that is made.
Item, I give and bequeath unto my daughter Judith one-hundred-and-fifty pounds of lawful English money, to be paid unto her in manner and form following; that is to say, one hundred pounds in discharge of her marriage-portion, within one year after my decease, with considerations after the rate of two shillings in the pound for so long time as the same shall be unpaid unto her after my decease; and the fifty pounds residue thereof, upon her surrendering of or giving of such sufficient security as the overseers of this my will shall like of, to surrender or grant all her estate and right that shall descend or come unto her after my decease, or that she now hath of, in, or to, one copyhold tenement, with the appurtenances, lying and being in Stratford upon Avon aforesaid, in the said county of Warwick, being parcel or holden of the manor of Rowington, unto my daughter Susannah Hall, and her heirs for ever.
Item, I give and bequeath unto my said daughter Judith one-hundred-and-fifty pounds more, if she, or any issue of her body, be living at the end of three years next ensuing the day of the date of this my will; during which time, my executors to pay her consideration from my decease according to the rate aforesaid: and if she die within the said term without issue of her body, then my will is, and I do give and bequeath one hundred pounds thereof to my niece Elizabeth Hall, and the fifty pounds to be set forth by my executors during the life of my sister Joan Harte, and the use and profit thereof coming, shall be paid to my said sister Joan; and after her decease, the said fifty pounds shall remain amongst the children of my said sister, equally to be divided amongst them; but if my said daughter Judith be living at the end of the said three years, or any issue of her body, then my will is, and so I devise and bequeath the said hundred-and-fifty pounds to be set out by my executors and overseers for the best benefit of her and her issue, and the stock not to be paid unto her so long as she shall be married and covert baron; but my will is, that she shall have the consideration yearly paid unto her during her life, and after her decease the said stock and consideration to be paid to her children, if she have any, and if not, to her executors and assigns, she living the said term after my decease; provided that if such husband as she shall at the end of the said three years be married unto, or at and after, do sufficiently assure unto her, and the issue of her body, and answerable to the portion by this my will given unto her, and to be adjudged so by my executors and overseers, then my will is, that the said hundred-and-fifty pounds shall be paid to such husband as shall make such assurance, to his own use.
Item, I give and bequeath unto my said sister Joan twenty pounds, and all my wearing apparel, to be paid and delivered within one year after my decease; and I do will and devise unto her the house, with the appurtenances, in Stratford, wherein she dwelleth, for her natural life, under the yearly value of twelve-pence.
Item, I give and bequeath unto her three sons, William Hart, Hart, and Michael Hart, five pounds apiece, to be paid within one year after my decease. Item, I give and bequeath unto the said Elizabeth Hall all my plate that I now have, except my broad silver and gilt boxes, at the date of this my will.
Item, I give and bequeath unto the poor of Stratford aforesaid ten pounds; to Mr. Thomas Combe my sword; to Thomas Russel, esq. five pounds; and to Francis Collins of the borough of Warwick, in the county of Warwick, gent., thirteen pounds six shillings and eight-pence, to be paid within one year after my decease.
Item, I give and bequeath to Hamlet Sadler twenty-six shillings eight-pence to buy him a ring; to William Reynolds, gent. twenty-six shillings eight-pence to buy him a ring; to my godson William Walker, twenty shillings in gold; to Anthony Nash, gent. twenty-six shillings eight-pence; and to Mr. John Nash, twenty-six shillings eight-pence; and to my fellows John Hemynge, Richard Burbage, and Henry Cundell, twenty-six shillings eight-pence apiece to buy them rings.
Item, I give, will, bequeath, and devise unto my daughter Susannah Hall, for the better enabling of her to perform this my will, and towards the performance thereof, all that capital messuage or tenement, with the appurtenances, in Stratford aforesaid, called The New Place, wherein I now dwell, and two messuages or tenements, with the appurtenances, situate, lying, and being in Henley-street, within the borough of Stratford aforesaid; and all my barns, stables, orchards, gardens, lands, tenements, and hereditaments whatsoever, situate, lying, and being, or to be had, reserved, preserved, or taken within the towns, hamlets, villages, fields, and grounds of Stratford upon Avon, Old Stratford, Bushaxton, and Welcome, or in any of them, in the said county of Warwick; and also all that messuage or tenement, with the appurtenances, wherein one John Robinson dwelleth, situate, lying, and being in the Black-Friers in London near the Wardrobe; and all other my lands, tenements, and hereditaments whatsoever; to have and to hold all and singular the said premises, with their ap
purtenances, unto the said Susannah Hall, for and during the term of her natural life; and after her decease, to the first son of her body lawfully issuing, and to the heirs males of the body of the said first son lawfully issuing; and for default of such issue, to the second son of her body lawfully issuing, and to the heirs males of the body of the said second son lawfully issuing; and for default of such heirs, to the third son of the body of the said Susannah lawfully issuing, and of the heirs males of the body of the said third son lawfully issuing; and for default of such issue, the same to be and remain to the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh sons of her body, lawfully issuing one after another, and to the heirs males of the bodies of the said fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh sons lawfully issuing, in such manner as it is before limited to be, and remain to the first, second, and third sons of her body, and to their heirs males; and for default of such issue, the said premises to be and remain to my said niece Hall, and the heirs males of her body lawfully issuing; and for default of such issue, to my daughter Judith, and the heirs males of her body lawfully issuing; and for default of such issue, to the right heirs of me the said William Shakspeare for ever.
Item, I give unto my wife my brown best bed with the furniture.
Item, 1 give and bequeath to my said daughter Judith my broad silver gilt bole. All the rest of my goods, chattels, leases, plate, jewels, and household stuff whatsoever, after my debts and legacies paid, and my funeral expences discharged, I give, devise, and bequeath to my son-in-law, John Hall, gent. and my daughter Susannah his wife, whom I ordain and make executors of this my last Will and Testament. And I do intreat and appoint the said Thomas Russel, esq. and Francis Collins, gent. to be overseers hereof. And, I do revoke all former wills, and publish this to be my last Will and Testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto put my hand, the day and year first above-written, by me
Witness to the publishing hereof,
Probatum coram Magistro William Byrde, Legum Doctore Commissario, &c.
A LIST of the Thirty-six DRAMAS of SHAKSPEARE, which are published in the following Pages; with the Dates of the earliest Editions of each: Whence it ap pears, that twenty of them were first printed in the Folio of 1623.
THE TEMPEST.—In the folio of 1623.
2. THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.-In the folio of 1623.
3. THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR.-1602. 4to.-1619. 4to.
4. MEASURE FOR MEASURE.-In the folio of 1623.
5. THE COMEDY OF ERRORS.-In the folio of 1623.
6. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.—1600. 4to.
7. LOVE's LABOUR's LOST.-1598, 4to.-1631. 4to.
S. THE MIDSUMMER NIGHT's DREAM.-1600. 4to.
9. THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.-1600. 4to.-1637. 4to.
10. AS YOU LIKE IT.-In the folio of 1623.
11. TAMING OF THE SHREW.-In the folio of 1623.
12. ALL's WELL THAT ENDS WELL.-In the folio of 1623.
13. TWELFTH NIGHT.-In the folio of 1623.
14. THE WINTER's TALE.-In the folio of 1623.
15. MACBETH.-In the folio of 1623.
16. KING JOHN.-In the folio of 1623.
17. KING RICHARD THE SECOND.-1597. 4to.-1598. 4to.-1608. 4to.
18. KING HENRY THE FOURTH, PART I.-1598. 4to.-1599. 4to.-1604. 4to.
20. KING HENRY THE FIFTH.-1600. 4to.-1602. 4to.-1608. 4to.
21. KING HENRY THE SIXTH, PART I.-In the folio of 1623.
PART II.-In the folio of 1623.
PART III.-In the folio of 1623.
24. KING RICHARD THE THIRD.—1597. 4to.-1598. 4to.-1602. 4to.
31. TROILUS AND CRESSIDA.-1609. 4to.
32. CYMBELINE.-In the folio of 1623.
26. CORIOLANUS.-In the folio of 1623.
27. JULIUS CÆSAR.-In the folio of 1623.
28. ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.-In the folio of 1623.
29. TIMON OF ATHENS.-In the folio of 1623.
30. TITUS ANDRONICUS.-1611. 4to.
33. KING LEAR.-1608. 4to.
34. ROMEO AND JULIET.-1597. 4to.-1599. 4to.-1609. 4to.
35. HAMLET.-1604. 4to.-1605. 4to.-1611. 4to.
36. OTHELLO.-1622. 4to.-1630. 4to.