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thing upon the fame fubject at least as well written by Shakspeare.3


he would undertake to Show fomething upon the fame Subject at least as well written by Shakspeare.] I had long endeavoured in vain to find out on what authority this relation was founded; and have very lately discovered that Mr. Rowe probably derived his information from Dryden: for in Gildon's Letters and Effays, published in 1694, fifteen years before this Life appeared, the fame ftory is told; and Dryden, to whom an Effay in vindication of Shakspeare is addreffed, is appealed to by the writer as his authority. As Gildon tells the story with fome flight variations from the account given by Mr. Rowe, and the book in which it is found is now extremely fcarce, I fhall fubjoin the paffage in his own words:

"But to give the world fome fatisfaction that Shakspeare has had as great veneration paid his excellence by men of unqueftioned parts, as this I now exprefs for him, I shall give fome account of what I have heard from your mouth, fir, about the noble triumph he gained over all the ancients, by the judgment of the ableft criticks of that time.

"The matter of fact, if my memory fail me not, was this. Mr. Hales of Eton affirmed, that he would fhow all the poets of antiquity out-done by Shakspeare, in all the topicks and commonplaces made ufe of in poetry. The enemies of Shakspeare would by no means yield him fo much excellence; fo that it came to a refolution of a trial of fkill upon that subject. The place agreed on for the dispute was Mr. Hales's chamber at Eton. A great many books were fent down by the enemies of this poet; and on the appointed day my Lord Falkland, Sir John Suckling, and all the perfons of quality that had wit and learning, and interested themselves in the quarrel, met there; and upon a thorough difquifition of the point, the judges chofen by agreement out of this learned and ingenious affembly, unanimoufly gave the preference to Shakspeare, and the Greek and Roman poets were adjudged to vail at least their glory in that, to the English Hero."

This elogium on our author is likewife recorded at an earlier period by Tate, probably from the fame authority, in the preface to The Loyal General, quarto, 1680: "Our learned Hales was wont to affert, that, fince the time of Orpheus, and the oldeft poets, no common-place has been touched upon, where our author has not performed as well."

Dryden himself alfo certainly alludes to this ftory, which he appears to have related both to Gildon and Rowe, in the follow

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From a Drawing in the Margin of an Ancient SURVEY, made by Order of (afterwards Tids BAKON CAREW of (lopton, and EARL of TOTNESS) and found at Clopton near Thatford upon Avon, in 1786.

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The latter part of his life was fspent, as all men of good fenfe will with theirs may be, in ease, retireinent, and the converfation of his friends. He had the good fortune to gather an eftate equal to his occafion,4 and, in that, to his wifh; and is faid

ing paffage of his Effay of Dramatick Poefy, 1667; and he as well as Gildon goes fomewhat further than Rowe in his panegyrick. After giving that fine character of our poet which Dr. Johnfon has quoted in his preface, he adds, "The confideration of this made Mr. Hales of Eton fay, that there was no fubject of which any poet ever writ, but he would produce it MUCH BETTER done by Shakspeare; and however others are now generally preferred before him, yet the age wherein he lived, which had contemporaries with him, Fletcher and Jonfon, never equalled them to him in their efteem: And in the laft king's court [that of Charles I.] when Ben's reputation was at higheft, Sir John Suckling, and with him the greater part of the courtiers, fet our Shakspeare far above him."

Let ever-memorable Hales, if all his other merits be forgotten, be ever mentioned with honour, for his good taste and admiration of our poet. "He was," fays Lord Clarendon," one of the least men in the kingdom; and one of the greatest scholars in Europe." See a long character of him in Clarendon's Life, Vol. I. p. 52. MALONE.

He had the good fortune to gather an eftate equal to his occafion,] Gildon, without authority, I believe, fays, that our author left behind him an eftate of 3001. per ann. This was equal to at least 1000l. per ann. at this day; the relative value of mo ney, the mode of living in that age, the luxury and taxes of the prefent time, and various other circumftances, being confidered. But I doubt whether all his property amounted to much more than 2001. per ann. which yet was a confiderable fortune in those times. He appears from his grand-daughter's will to have poffeffed in Bishopton, and Stratford Welcombe, four yard land and a half. A yard land is a denomination well known in Warwickfhire, and contains from 30 to 60 acres. The average therefore being 45, four yard land and a half may be estimated at about two hundred acres. As fixteen years purchase was the common rate at which the land was fold at that time, that is, one half lefs than at this day, we may suppose that these lands were let at feven fhillings per acre, and produced 701. per annum. If we Tate the New-Place with the appurtenances, and our poet's other

to have spent fome years before his death at his native Stratford.5 His pleasureable wit and good

houfes in Stratford, at 601. a year, and his houfe, &c. in the Blackfriars, (for which he paid 1401.) at 201. a year, we have a rent-roll of 150l. per annum. Of his perfonal property it is not now poffible to form any accurate eftimate: but if we rate it at five hundred pounds, money then bearing an interest of ten per cent. Shakspeare's total income was 2001. per ann.* In The Merry Wives of Windfor, which was written foon after the year 1600, three hundred pounds a year is described as an eftate of fuch magnitude as to cover all the defects of its poffeffor:

“O, what a world of vile ill-favour'd faults

"Look handfome in three hundred pounds a year."


$ -to have spent fome years before his death at his native Stratford.] In 1614 the greater part of the town of Stratford was confumed by fire; but our Shakspeare's houfe, among some others, escaped the flames. This houfe was firft built by Sir Hugh Clopton, a younger brother of an ancient family in that neighbourhood. Sir Hugh was Sheriff of London in the reign of Richard III. and Lord Mayor in the reign of King Henry VII. By his will he bequeathed to his elder brother's fon his manor of Clopton, &c. and his house, by the name of the Great House in Stratford. Good part of the estate is yet [in 1733] in the poffeflion of Edward Clopton, Efq. and Sir Hugh Clopton, Knt. lineally defcended from the elder brother of the firft Sir Hugh.

The eftate had now been fold out of the Clopton family for above a century, at the time when Shakspeare became the purchafer who having repaired and modelled it to his own mind, changed the name to New-Place, which the manfion-house, fince erected upon the fame spot, at this day retains. The house, and lands which attended it, continued in Shakspeare's defcendants to the time of the Reftoration; when they were re-purchased by the Clopton family, and the manfion now belongs to Sir Hugh Clopton, Knt. To the favour of this worthy gentleman I owe the knowledge of one particular in honour of our poet's once dwelling-houfe, of which I prefume Mr. Rowe never was apprized. When the Civil War raged in England, and King

To Shak(peare's income from his real and perfonal property muft be added 2001. per ann. which he probably derived from the theatre, while he continued en the ftage.

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