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A MAN who held no higher rank than glover, a the 23d, St George's Day, the festival of the simple villager, with a plain yeoman name,-- Patron Saint of England. His parents had to John Shakespeare,--had so much of intrinsic tremble for his life when he was no more than worth and attraction as to gain the heart and two months old ; for the plague broke out at hand of Mary Arden, daughter to a man of good Stratford, raging there with fatal effect from landed estate and ancient family, who was grand- June to December, and carrying off more than a nephew to a Sir John Arden, esquire of the body seventh part of the population, calculated to to Henry VII. Something originally and in- have been about fourteen hundred inhabitants. nately fine about these Shakespeares! The mar- But the baby Shakespeare escaped ; and the riage may be believed to have taken place some world, with his father and mother, had cause to where in 1537 ; and Joan, the first child, was bless God and rejoice. Three months after his haptized in the church of Stratford-upon-Avon, little son had completed his first year, John ou the 15th September 1558. A sweet English Shakespeare was elected one of the fourteen village, this Stratford! seated on the edge of a aldermen of his native village town; and he silvery river, green with turfy banks and woody gradually advanced in rank and municipal im. slopes, picturesque with cottage houses and cot- portance, until he received the highest distinctage gardens; crowned with a village church, tion in the power of his fellow-townsmen to iry clad, surrounded by moss-grown graves, ap- bestow-being elected Bailiff of Stratford-uponproached by a lime-tree avenue, and its slender Avon in 1568. He was thus, ex officio, a magisspire tapering towards heaven. In this same trate. When William was two years old he had pleasant village John Shakespeare bought him a brother born, Gilbert, baptized 13th October two houses, one of which, in Henley Street, he 1566 ; and by the time he reached the age of made his residence, and brought home thither five years, he had a sister born, Joan, baptized his wife. A homely tenement, one story high, 15th April 1569. She had the same name given few rooms on a floor, plastered walls and beamed to her as her parents' first-born; and this was roof; but in an upper chamber of this small probably owing to the fact of there being an Aunt house, Mary Arden Shakespeare gave birth to Joan, who, in all likelihood, stood godmother two daughters, (Joan and Margaret, both of on both occasions. This “Aunt Joan” was whom died in infancy,) and then to a son. The sister to the mother, Mary (Arden) Shakespeare, faint first cry of her new-born boy gave but the and had married Edward Lambert. token of joy common to all happy mothers that During the year 1569 there were thentrical her babe lived, and might still live to bless her performances by “The Queen's Players," in in his future life. She could then have had no Stratford-upon-Avon; and perhaps " Aunt Joan" thrill of conscioumess as to what would be to may have taken the little five-year-old fellow for the world the hereafter utterances of him who a treat to the play. Certain it is, that in the now drew his first breath. Could she at that following twelvemonth, John Shakespeare bemoment have beheld in beatific prevision the came possessed of a field called “Ingon Meaimmortal destiny awaiting her child, no dreams dow;" and here doubtless little William ran vouchsafed to mortal travail-worn woman might about to gather daisies pied and violets blue," equal hers. At the font he received the name --a “boy pursuing summer butterflies." Next of William, being christened on the 26th April year he had another sister born, Anne, baptized 1564; and as it was then the custom to have 28th September 1571; and now probably cominfants baptized at an early period, there is menced his schoolboy time, when, "with satchel great probability that the day of his birth was and shining morning face,” he sallied forth, even


then, perchance, marking some others his com- Stratford stripling, who would be sure to find panions creeping, like snail, unwillingly to means of making acquaintance with them. school;" for we cannot fancy him averse from This taste for theatricals and the society of his book. The masters of the Free Grammar

actors may have been indulgences snatched beSchool about that period were, successively, tween whiles, during holiday visits to his native Walter Roche, Thomas Hunt, and Thomas Jen-place; for we have never been able to divest kins; and the latter name irresistibly suggests ourselves of the idea that Shakespeare may have that he was the prototype of the Welsh parson, had a portion of college education during the Sir Hugh Evans : while we behold, as a picture- | three years when he was fifteen, sixteen, and verity, Mary (Arden) Shakespeare leading her seventeen years of age. Although John Shakeyoung son by the hand through Stratford streets, speare's income was at that time peculiarly reas Mrs Page leads his little namesake, William, stricted, yet it was not impossible that William through Windsor streets, till they meet with the may have been a scholar upon the foundation at schoolmaster, who is to “ ask him some ques- one of the universities, a sizer or servitor; in tions in his accidence.” Then we see William which case, his collegiateship would have been bid to hold up his head, answer his master, and

no expense to his father. We have always be not afraid. We see the boyish sunny eye fancied that it was during one of these joyous glance up, look in the old man's face, take mi

summer holidays at his Stratford home, that, nute gauge of its every peculiarity, speak with a strolling through the pleasant lanes of Shottery, roguish affectation of demureness, and be all the

a young fellow of eighteen, his eye first encounwhile engaged in half-unconsciously registering tered the sweet face and debonair figure of Anne present characteristic items forfuture delineation. Hathaway, then in the full bloom of woman

In 1573, when William was nine years old, his hood, and of an age most likely to captivate the brother Richard was born, being baptized March imagination of a lad-lover - buxom five-and11th ; and as John Shakespeare's family in- twenty. No surer enslaver of an imagination of creased, so did his worldly prosperity; for in eighteen, glowing with ideals of womanly per: the following year he purchased of Edmund and fection, than richly-gifted, accomplished, femiEmma Hall two freehold houses, with gardens ninely-crowned five-and-twenty. In the girl of and orchards, in Henley Street, Stratford-upon- fifteen or sixteen, the youth sees but timidity, Avon, for the sum of £40, equal to £200 of our insipidity, immaturity; but in womanly fivepresent money. But after this period, his cir-and-twenty he beholds a something to worship, cumstances gradually declined during the next to idolize, to inspire him with all lofty aspirathree years, until, in 1578, at a Borough-hall tions, to emulate him to highest endeavour. meeting, he was permitted to pay but 3s. 4d., as His own diffidence feels assured in the contemhis share of a levied contribution. He also mort- plation of her supremacy; and his own sense of gaged some property belonging to his wife by in- deficiency takes pride in and reposes on her enheritance, -a small estate called Asbyes, --and, tire excellence. We can believe that Shakebeing unable to afford poor-rates, was left un- speare, at eighteen, beheld in Anne Hathaway, taxed. In 1580 the youngest son, Edmund, was at five-and-twenty, the breathing embodiment born, and baptized May 3d; while William had of all that his young poet-brain had conceived attained the age of sixteen years. Meantime prophetically possible in a Helena, a Rosalind, there were not wanting events that may have an Imogen; and to make her his own became helped to foster in the youth the poetic and dra- the scope of his ambition. Shakespeare a suitor, matic bias of his genius. In 1575, Queen Eliza- a pleader, a lover; with his burning words, his beth was entertained by the Earl of Leicester at ardour, his irresistible impetuosity, his intensity, Kenilworth Castle, where masques, pageants, his vital eloquence, his witchery of playfulness, and entertainments of the most gorgeous descrip- his vivacity, his power of persuasion! Like his tion were enacted for her majesty's delectation; own Master Fenton," he has eyes of youth, he and it is by no means unlikely that the lad of writes verses, he speaks holiday, he smells April eleven years old, with heart and brain on fire and May: he will carry't! he will carry 't!” with accounts of what was in prospect at a place The plain prose of facts and events gives ample only fourteen miles off, found means to get over evidence how Shakespeare wooed and won. In there to witness these princely shows. Besides 1582, a “preliminary bond” to the solemnisation this, there were occasional theatrical perform- of matrimony between William Shakespeare and ances at Stratford-upon-Avon itself, by eminent Anne Hathaway was dated November 28th ; and travelling companies of actors from the metro- on May 26th of the following year their first child, polis; and many of these actors were natives of Susanna, was baptized. It behoved the nineteenWilliam's own birthplace and its neighbour-year-old father to bethink of some means of suphood. The names of Burbage, Slye, Heminge, porting his wife and child; and it is probably Tooley, and Greene-all players afterwards con- at this period that Shakespeare found employnected with Shakespeare's dramatic career- ment as a teacher at the grammar-school, (may. are those of men more or less owing their origin hap he was usher, under his old master, Thomas to the county of Warwickshire, and very prob- Jenkins,) according to some traditions; or as a ably were objects of boyish admiration to the ' lawyer's clerk, according to the conjecture of

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