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PLAYS

OF

WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE,

ACCURATELY PRINTED FROM

THE TEXT OF MR. STEEVENS'S LAST EDITION.

IN NINE VOLUMES.

VOLUME 1.

CONTAINING

THE TEMPEST ;
TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA ;

MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR; TWELFTH-NIGHT:OR, WHAT YOU WILL;

MEASURE FOR MEASURE.

LONDON:

PRINTED BY H. BALDWIN AND SON, FOR C. DILLY,

J. JOHNSON, G. C. AND J. ROBINSON, R. BALDWIN, H. L. GARDNER, J. SEWELL, W. J. AND J. RICHARDSON, J. NICHOLS, F. AND C. RIVINGTON, T. PAYNE, R. FAULDER, W. LOWNDES, G. WILKIE, J. AND J. TAYLOR, J. SCATCHERD, T. EGERTON,

E. NEWBERY, W. BENT, J. WALKER, W.CLARKE AND SON, J. BARKER, J. EDWARDS, D. OGILVY AND SON, J. CUTHELL, R. LEA, J. NUNN, J. LACKINGTON AND CO. T. KAY, J. DEIGHTON, J. WHITE, W. MILLER, VERNOR AND HOOD, CADELL AND DAVIES, T, N. LONGMAN, c. LAW, MURRAY AND HIGHLEY,

AND LEE AND HURST.

SOME

ACCOUNT OF THE LIFE, &c.

OF

WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE.

WRITTEN BY MR. ROWE.

It seems to be a kind of respect due to the memory of excellent men, especially of those whom their wit and learning have made famous, to deliver some account of themselves, as well as their works, to potterity. For this reason, how fond do we fee fome people of discovering any little personal story of the great men of antiquity! their families, the common accidents of their lives, and even their shape, make, and features, have been the subject of critical inquiries. How trifling foever this curi. ofity may seem to be, it is certainly very natural; and we are hardly satisfied with an acccount of any remarkable perfon, till we have heard him described even to the very cloaths he wears. As for what relates to men of letters, the knowledge of an au. thor may

sometimes conduce to the better understanding his book; and though the works of Mr. Shakspeare may seem to many not to want a comment, yet I fancy some little account of the man himself may not be thought improper to go along with them.

He was the son of Mr. John Shakspeare, and was born at Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire, in April 1564. His family, as appears by the register

VOL,

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392

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and publick writings relating to that town, were of good figure and fashion there, and are mentioned as gentlemen. His father, who was a considerable dealer in wool, had so large a family, ten children in all, that thongh he was his eldest son, he could give him no better education than his own employment. He had bred him, it is true, for some time at a free-school, where, it is probable, he acquired what Latin he was master of: but the narrowness of his circumstances, and the want of his assistance at home, forced his father to withdraw him from thence, and unhappily prevented his further proficiency in that language. It is without controversy, that in his works we scarce find any traces of any thing that looks like an imitation of the ancients. The delicacy of his taste, and the natural bent of his own great genius, (equal, if not fuperior, to some of the best of theirs,) would certainly have led him to read and study them with so much pleasure, that some of their fine images would naturally have insinuated themselves into, and been mixed with his own writings; fo that his not copying at least fomething from them, may be an argument of his never having read them. Whether his ignorance of the ancients were a disadvantage to him or no, may admit of a dispute : for though the knowledge of them might have made him more correct, yet it is not improbable but that the regularity and deference for them, which would have attended that correctness, might have restrained some of that fire, impetuosity, and even beautiful extravagance, which we admire in Shakspeare : and I believe we are better pleased with those thoughts, altogether new and uncommon, which his own imagination supplied him fo abundantly with, than if he had given us the most beautiful pallages out of the Greek and Latin poets, and that

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