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"One of Shakspeare's younger brothers,' who
dote that Shakspeare, in his journies from Warwickshire to London, used to bait at the Crown-Inn on the west side of the corn market in Oxford. He says, that D'Avenant the poet was born in that house in 1606. "His father (he adds) John Davenant, was a sufficient vintner, kept the tavern now known by the sign of the Crown, and was mayor of the said city in 1621. His mother was a very beautiful woman, of a good wit and conversation, in which she was imitated by none of her children but by this William [the poet]. The father, who was a very grave and discreet citizen, (yet an admirer and lover of plays and play-makers, especially Shakspeare, who frequented his house in his journies between Warwickshire and London,) was of a melancholick disposition, and was seldom or never seen to laugh, in which he was imitated by none of his children but by Robert his eldest son, afterwards fellow of St. John's College, and a venerable Doctor of Divinity." Wood's Ath. Oxon. Vol. II. p. 292, edit. 1692. I will not suppose that Shakspeare could have been the father of a Doctor of Divinity who never laughed; but it was always a constant tradition in Oxford that Shakspeare was the father of Davenant the poet. And I have seen this circumstance expressly mentioned in some of Wood's papers. Wood was well qualified to know these particulars; for he was a townsman of Oxford, where he was born in 1632. Wood says, that Davenant went to school in Oxford. Ubi supr.
As to the Crown Inn, it still remains as an inn, and is an old decayed house, but probably was once a principal inn in Oxford. It is directly in the road from Stratford to London. In a large upper room, which seems to have been a sort of Hall for entertaining a large company, or for accommodating (as was the custom) different parties at once, there was a bow-window, with three pieces of excellent painted glass. About eight years ago, I remember visiting this room, and proposing to purchase of the landlord the painted glass, which would have been a curiosity as coming from Shakspeare's inn. But going thither soon after, I found it was removed; the inn-keeper having communicated my intended bargain to the owner of the house, who began to suspect that he was possessed of a curiosity too valuable to be parted with, or to remain in such a place: and I never could hear of it afterwards. If I remember right, the painted glass consisted of three armorial shields beautifully stained. I have said so much on this subject, because I think that Shakspeare's old hostelry at Oxford deserves no less respect than Chaucer's Tabarde in Southwark. T. WARTON.
lived to a good old age, even some years as I compute, after the restoration of King Charles II. would in his younger days come to London to visit his brother Will, as he called him, and be a spectator of him as an actor in some of his own plays. This custom, as his brother's fame enlarged, and
One of Shakspeare's younger brothers, &c.] Mr. Oldy's seems to have studied the art of "marring a plain tale in the telling of it;" for he has in this story introduced circumstances which tend to diminish, instead of adding to, its credibility. Male dum recitas, incipit esse tuus. From Shakspeare's not taking notice of any of his brothers or sisters in his will, except Joan Hart, I think it highly probable that they were all dead in 1616, except her, at least all those of the whole blood; though in the Register there is no entry of the burial of either his brother Gilbert, or Edmund, antecedent to the death of Shakspeare, or at any subsequent period.
The truth is, that this account of our poet's having performed the part of an old man in one of his own comedies, came originally from Mr. Thomas Jones, of Tarbick, in Worcestershire, who has been already mentioned, (see p. 62, n. 1,) and who related it from the information, not of one of Shakspeare's brothers, but of a relation of our poet, who lived to a good old age, and who had seen him act in his youth. Mr. Jones's informer might have been Mr. Richard Quiney, who lived in London, and died at Stratford in 1656, at the age of 69; or Mr. Thomas Quiney, our poet's son-in-law, who lived, I believe, till 1663, and was twenty-seven years old when his father-in-law died; or some one of the family of Hathaway. Mr. Thomas Hathaway, I believe Shakspeare's brother-in-law, died at Stratford in 1654-5, at the age of 85.
There was a Thomas Jones, an inhabitant of Stratford, who between the years 1581 and 1590 had four sons, Henry, James, Edmund, and Isaac: some one of these, it is probable, settled at Tarbick, and was the father of Thomas Jones, the relater of this anecdote, who was born about the year 1613.
If any of Shakspeare's brothers lived till after the Restoration, and visited the players, why were we not informed to what player he related it, and from what player Mr. Oldys had his account? The fact, I believe, is, he had it not from a player, but from the above-mentioned Mr. Jones, who likewise communicated the stanza of the ballad on Sir Thomas Lucy, which has been printed in a former page. MALONE.
his dramatick entertainments grew the greatest support of our principal, if not of all our theatres, he continued it seems so long after his brother's death, as even to the latter end of his own life. The curiosity at this time of the most noted actors [exciting them] to learn something from him of his brother, &c. they justly held him in the highest veneration. And it may be well believed, as there was besides a kinsman and descendant of the family, who was then a celebrated actor among them, [Charles Hart. See Shakspeare's Will.] this opportunity made them greedily inquisitive into every little circumstance, more especially in his dramatick character, which his brother could relate of him. But he, it seems, was so stricken in years, and possibly his memory so weakened with infirmities, (which might make him the easier pass for a man of weak intellects,) that he could give them but little light into their enquiries; and all that could be recollected from him of his brother Will. in that station was, the faint, general, and almost lost ideas he had of having once seen him act a part in one of his own comedies, wherein being to personate a decrepit old man, he wore a long beard, and appeared so weak and drooping and unable to walk, that he was forced to be supported and carried by another person to a table, at
Charles Hart] Mr. Charles Hart the player was born,
I believe, about the year 1630, and died in or about 1682. If he was a grandson of Shakspeare's sister, he was probably the son of Michael Hart, her youngest son, of whose marriage or death there is no account in the parish Register of Stratford, and therefore I suspect he settled in London. MALONE.
Charles Hart died in August, 1683, and was buried at Stanmore the 20th of that month. Lysons's Environs of London, Vol. III. p. 400. REED.
which he was seated among some company, who were eating, and one of them sung a song. See the character of Adam, in As you like it, Act II. sc. ult.
"Verses by Ben Jonson and Shakspeare, occasioned by the motto to the Globe Theatre-Totus mundus agit histrionem.
If, but stage actors, all the world displays,
'Little, or much, of what we see, we do;
Poetical Characteristicks, 8vo. MS. Vol. I. some time in the Harleian Library; which volume was returned to its owner."
"Old Mr. Bowman the player reported from Sir William Bishop, that some part of Sir John Falstaff's character was drawn from a townsman of Stratford, who either faithlessly broke a contract, or spitefully refused to part with some land for a valuable consideration, adjoining to Shakspeare's, in or near that town."
To these anecdotes I can only add the following.
At the conclusion of the advertisement prefixed to Lintot's edition of Shakspeare's Poems, it is said, "That most learned prince and great patron of learning, King James the First, was pleased with
his own hand to write an amicable letter to Mr. Shakspeare; which letter, though now lost, remained long in the hands of Sir William D'Avenant, as a credible person now living can testify." Mr. Oldys, in a MS. note to his copy of Fuller's Worthies, observes, that "the story came from the Duke of Buckingham, who had it from Sir William D'Avenant.' 99
It appears from Roscius Anglicanus, (commonly called Downes the prompter's book,) 1708, that Shakspeare took the pains to instruct Joseph Taylor in the character of Hamlet, and John Lowine in that of King Henry VIII. STEEvens.
The late Mr. Thomas Osborne, bookseller, (whose exploits are celebrated by the author of the Dunciad,) being ignorant in what form or language our Paradise Lost was written, employed one of his garretteers to render it from a French translation into English prose. Lest, hereafter, the compositions of Shakspeare should be brought back into their native tongue from the version of Monsieur le Compte de Catuelan, le Tourneur, &c. it may be necessary to observe, that all the following particulars, extracted from the preface of these gentlemen, are as little founded in truth as their description of the ridiculous Jubilee at Stratford,
- which letter, though now lost, remained long in the hands of Sir William D'Avenant.] Dr. Farmer with great probability supposes that this letter was written by King James in return for the compliment paid to him in Macbeth. The relater of this anecdote was Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham.