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1589 he had worked his way up to be one of the proprietors of the Blackfriars Theatre. But he seems to have always continued to look upon Stratford as his home ; there he left his wife and children; he is said to have made a point of revisiting his native town once a year; and thither, after he had, by the unceasing activity of many years, secured a competency, he returned to spend the evening of his days in quiet. So that we may say he resorted to London, after all, only as the sailor goes to sea, always intending to come back. He appears to have finally retired to Stratford, and settled there on a property which he had purchased, about the year 1612; his wife still lived, and also his two daughters, of whom the elder, Susanna, was married to Dr John Hall, a physician, in 1607; the younger, Judith, to Mr Thomas Quiney, in February 1616. But he had lost his only son, who was named Hamnet, in 1596, when the boy was in his twelfth year. Shakespeare died at Stratford, as already mentioned, on the 23rd of April 1616; and he lies interred in the parish church there.
His wife survived till August 1623. Both his daughters had families ;-Susanna, a daughter, who was twice married; Judith, three sons ; but no descendant of the great poet now exists. The last was probably Elizabeth, daughter of Dr Hall, who became the wife first of Thomas Nash, Esq., secondly of Sir John Barnard, and died without issue by either husband in February 1670. Nor is it known that there are any descendants even of his father remaining, although one of his brothers and also one of his sisters are ascertained to have been married, and to have had issue.
II. SHAKESPEARE'S WORKS.
The first work of Shakespeare's which was printed with his name was his poem entitled Venus and Adonis, in stanzas consisting each of an alternately rhyming quatrain followed by a couplet. It appeared in 1593, with a Dedication to the Earl of Southampton, in which the author styles it the first heir of his invention. This was followed in 1594 by The Rape of Lucrece, in stanzas of seven lines, one rhyming to the fourth being here inserted before the closing couplet; it is also dedicated to Lord Southampton, to whom the author expresses the most unlimited obligation :-“What I have done,” he says, “is
, yours; what I have to do is yours ; being part in all I have, devoted yours.” The Venus and Adonis was thrice reprinted in Shakespeare's lifetime; the Lucrece, five or six times.
His other works, besides his Plays, are The Passionate Pilgrim, a small collection of poems, first printed in 1599; and his Sonnets, 154 in number, with the poem entitled A Lover's Complaint (in the same stanza as the Lucrece), which appeared together in 1609. But the Sonnets, or some of them at least, were well known long before this. “As the soul of Euphorbus was thought to
. live in Pythagoras,” says a writer named Francis Meres in his Palladis Tamia, published in 1598, so the sweet witty soul of Ovid lives in mellifluous and honey-tongued Shakespeare: witness his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece, his sugаred Sonnets among his private friends.” It was still a common practice for works to be circulated to a limited extent in manuscript while they were withheld
from the press.
The first edition of Shakespeare's collected Dramatic Works appeared in 1623, or not till seven years after his death, in a folio volume. A second edition, with numerous verbal alterations, but no additional Plays, was brought out in the same form in 1632. In 1664 appeared a third edition, also in folio, containing seven additional Plays. And a fourth and last folio reprint followed in 1685.
The Plays that are now commonly received as Shakespeare's are all those that are contained in the First Folio,
being thirty-six in number, together with Pericles, Prince of Tyre, one of the seven added in the Third Folio. Besides the other six in that edition,-entitled The Tragedy of Locrine, The First Part of the Life of Sir John Oldcastle, The Chronicle History of Thomas Lord Cromwell, The London Prodigal, The Puritan, and A Yorkshire Tragedy,—there have been ascribed to Shakespeare in more recent times the old Plays of The Reign of King Edward the Third and The Tragedy of Arden of Feversham; and by certain German critics those of The Comedy of George-a-Green (generally held to be the work of Robert Greene), The Comedy of Mucedorus, The Birth of Merlin, and The Merry Devil of Edmonton. Some of these are among the humblest productions of the human intellect; that the notion of their being Shakespeare's should have been taken up by such men as Schlegel and Tieck is an illustrious instance of how far the blinding and extravagant spirit of system may go. Finally, the Play of The Two Noble Kinsmen, commonly included among those of Beaumont and Fletcher, has been attributed in part to Shakespeare; it is described on the title-page of the first edition, published in 1634, as written by Fletcher and Shakespeare, and the opinion that Shakespeare had a share in it has been revived in our own day.
Of the thirty-seven Plays generally held to be genuine, eighteen are known to have been separately printed, some of them oftener than once, in Shakespeare's lifetime:Titus Andronicus, Romeo and Juliet, Love's Labour's Lost, Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado about Nothing, Merchant of Venice, Lear, Troilus and Cressida, Pericles, Richard the Second, First Part of Henry the Fourth, Second Part of Henry the Fourth, Richard the Third (all substantially as we now have them); Hamlet, in three editions, two of them greatly differing the one from the other; and, in forms more or less unlike our present copies, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry the Fifth, and the Second and Third Parts of Henry the Sixth, under the titles of The First Part of the Contention betwixt the Houses of York and Lancaster,” and “The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York” (often referred to as “The Second Part of the Contention”). Nor is it improbable that there may have been early impressions of some others of the Plays, although no copies are now known. The Tragedy of Othello was also printed separately in 1622. All these separately published Plays are in quarto, and are familiarly known as the old or early Quartos.
The following eighteen Plays appeared for the first time, as far as is known, in the Folio of 1623:- The Tempest, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Measure for Measure, The Comedy of Errors, As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew, All's Well that Ends Well, Twelfth Night, A Winter's Tale, King John, The First Part of Henry the Sixth, Henry the Eighth, Coriolanus, Timon of Athens, Julius Cæsar, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, and Cymbeline.
There is reason to believe that the first edition of Titus Andronicus was printed in 1594, although the earliest of which any copy is now known is dated 1600. The earliest existing editions of Romeo and Juliet, Richard the Second, and Richard the Third, bear the date of 1597. The dates of the other Quartos (except Othello) all range between 1598 and 1609. It appears, however, from Francis Meres's book, mentioned above, that by the year 1598, when it was published, Shakespeare had already produced at least the following Plays, several of which, as we have seen, are not known to have been printed till they were included a quarter of a century afterwards in the First Folio:--The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Comedy of Errors, Love's Labour's Lost, Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Richard the Second, Richard the Third, Henry the Fourth, King John, Titus Andronicus, Romeo and Juliet, and another called Love's Labour's Won, which
has been commonly supposed to be that now entitled All's Well that Ends Well.* And Meres cannot be
* But the play of All's Well that Ends Well seems to have its present title built or wrought into it, and as it were incorporated with it. It is Helena's habitual word, and the thought that is never absent from her mind. "All's well that ends well,” she exclaims, in the fourth Scene of the Fourth Act;
“ Still the fine's the crown : Whate'er the course, the end is the renown.” And again in the first Scene of the Fifth Act:
“ All's well that ends well yet.” So also the King, in the concluding lines of the Play :
“All yet seems well; and, if it end so meet
The bitter past, more welcome is the sweet; and then to the audience :
“The king's a beggar, now the play is done ;
All is well ended, if this suit be won,
That you express content.” There would be no nature or meaning in the dialogue circling around the phrase in question, or continually returning upon it, in this way, unless it formed the name of the Play. On the other hand, there is not an expression throughout the piece that can be fairly considered as allusive to such a title as Love's Labour's Won.
Another notion that has been taken up is that the Play now known as The Tempest is that designated Love's Labour's Won by Meres. This is the theory of the Reverend Joseph Hunter, first brought forward in a “ Disquisition on the Tempest,” published in 1841, and reproduced in the Second Part of his “ New Illustrations of the Life, Studies, and Writings of Shakespeare,” 1844. But, notwithstanding all the learning and ingenuity by which it has been set forth and defended, it has probably not met with much acceptance. One would as soon believe with Ulrici that The Tempest is the very latest of all Shakespeare's Plays, as with Mr Hunter that it is one of his earliest,— “nearly the first in time,” he calls it, “as the first in place (meaning as it stands in the original collective edition), of the dramas which are wholly his.”
May not the true Love's Labour's Won be what we now call The Taming of the Shrew? That Play is founded upon an older one called The Taming of A Shrew; it is therefore in the highest degree improbable that it was originally produced under its present name.