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Shackspeare. Among other forms discovered in the records of the family are the following: Shaxpur, Chacksper, Schakespeire, Shagspere, Shakaspeare, Shaykspere, and Schakespayr. Patronymics often varied at that time, as they do now, in different families and in different sections of the country, but here the variations in the same household were numerous and, apparently, at hap-hazard. Nevertheless, it is a singular circumstance, that in all the forms tabulated by Wise, nineteen hundred and six in number, the one appearing on the title-pages of the Plays and Poems, Shakespeare, is unique. No member of the family in any part of the kingdom wrote the name in that way. Literature had an absolute monopoly of it.*

3. Shakespeare's handwriting, of which we have five specimens in his signatures to legal documents, was not only almost illegible, but singularly uncultivated and grotesque, wholly at variance with the description given of the manuscripts of the Plays in the preface to the folio edition of 1623. The editorial encomium was in these words:

"His mind and hand went together; and what he thought, he uttered with that easiness, that we have scarce received from him a blot in his papers."

*It is significant, also, that in some of the quartos first published the name appears with a hyphen, thus, Shake-speare, as though to distinguish it in another slight respect from that of the actor.

In this connection, we reproduce the five autographs of Shakespeare, the only acknowledged specimens of his penmanship in existence, in fac-simile:

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4. Shakespeare made no mention of any literary property in his will. He was careful to specify, among other bequests, his "second-best bed," but not a book, not a copy of one of his own books, not even a manuscript, though such immortal dramas as Macbeth, Tempest, and Julius Cæsar were unpublished at the time of his death.*

* Counsel on the other side attempt to meet this point by saying that Shakespeare had sold his manuscripts to the theatre company before leaving London. They have so long assumed this to be true that they now state it unqualifiedly, though without proof. They should issue instructions, however, to the cicerone at Stratford, who informs visitors that the wicked manuscripts were destroyed, after Shakespeare's death, by his puritanical children!

5. No letter written by him has come down to us, and but two addressed to him, and those make no reference to literature. An inspection of his autograph is alone sufficient to explain the paucity of his correspondence, if not its absolute non-existence.

6. In the dedication of the Venus and Adonis, published in 1593, Shakespeare calls that poem the first heir of his invention. This makes it ante-date the Plays. Accordingly, Richard Grant White sets it down as written in 1584-5, before Shakespeare left Stratford. Furnivall, also, assigns it to the same early date.

purest, most elegant and Hazlitt compares it to an glittering, and as cold." Is

The Venus and Adonis is a product of the highest culture. It is prefixed with a Latin quotation from Ovid, and is written throughout in the scholarly English of that day. ice-house, " almost as hard, as it possible that in a town where seven only of the nineteen aldermen could write their names, where the habits of the people were so inconceivably filthy that John Shakespeare, father of William, was publicly prosecuted on two occasions for defiling the street in front of his house, where the common speech was a patois rude to the verge of barbarism, and where, probably, outside of the schools and churches, not a half dozen books, as White admits, were to be found among the whole population,—is it possible

that in such a town a lad of twenty composed this beautiful epic?

7. It is believed that Shakespeare left his home in Stratford and went to London some time between 1585 and 1587. He was then twenty-one to twenty-three years of age. One of the first of the Shakespeare Plays to be produced on the stage was Hamlet, and the date not later than 1589. It was founded on a foreign tragedy of which no translation then existed in English. As first presented, it was probably in an imperfect form, having been subsequently rewritten and enlarged into what is now, perhaps, the greatest individual work of genius the human mind has produced. To assume that Shakespeare, under the circumstances in which he was then placed, at so early an age, fresh from a country town where there were few or no books, and from a family circle whose members could not read or write, was the author of this play, would seem to involve a miracle as great as that imputed to Joshua-in other words, a suspension of the laws of cause and effect.*

* It has been suggested that the original Hamlet was by another author. This supposition, however, encounters an improbability of its own, not so great as the one mentioned in the text, but still fatal, viz.: that a playwright would adopt for the title of his masterpiece a name already familiar to the public, and identified in the same age with the same subject. No absurd hypothesis stands in Bacon's way, for he was nearly thirty years of age when Hamlet was first played, had been highly educated at home and abroad, and was then a briefless barrister at Gray's Inn.

8. The end of his career was as remarkable as the beginning. His residence in London extended over a period of twenty-five years, during which time, according to popular belief, he wrote thirty-seven dramas, one hundred and fiftyfour sonnets, and two or three minor poems, besides accumulating a fortune the income of which has been estimated at £1,000 (equivalent in our time and in our money to $25,000) per annum. Such an instance of mental fecundity the world has never seen, before or since.

In 1610 or thereabouts, while he was still comparatively young (at the age of forty-six), he retired from London and passed the remainder of his days among his old neighbors in Stratford, loaning money and brewing beer for sale. His intellectual life seems to have terminated as abruptly as it had begun. The most careful scrutiny fails to show that he took the slightest interest in the fate of the plays left behind him, or in his own reputation as the author of them. Some of these productions were still in manuscript, unknown even to the stage, and not given to the public, either for fame or profit, till thirteen years after his retireSuch indifference to the children of his brain and such utter seclusion in the prime of his manhood from the refinements of life present to us a picture, not only painful to contemplate, but one that stultifies human nature itself.


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