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Shakespeare

usually called “Gentle Will.”

His wife was Anne Hathaway, of Shottery, about eight years older than himself. He had one son, named Hamnet, who died in his twelfth year, and two daughters. Ben Jonson said of him—“And though thou hadst small Latin and less Greek ...” Milton calls him “Sweetest Shakespeare, fancy's child,” and says he will go to the well-trod stage to hear him “warble his native wood-notes wild.” (L'Allegro, 133.)

Akenside says he is “Alike the master of our smiles and tears.” ( Ode i.)

Dryden says of him—“He was a man who of all modern and perhaps ancient poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul.”

Young says—“He wrote the play the Almighty made.” (Epistle to Lord Lansdowne.) Mallett says—“Great above rule ... Nature was his own.” (Verbal Criticism.)

Collins says he “joined Tuscan fancy to Athenian force.” (Epistle to Sir Thomas Hanmer.) Pope says -

Shakespeare (whom you and every play-house bill
Style the divine, the matchless, what you will)
For gain, not glory, winged his roving flight.
And grew immortal in his own despite.

Imitations of Horace, Ep. i.

The dedication of Shakespeare's Sonnets
has provoked much controversy. It is as follows: TO THE ONLIE BEGETTER OF THESE INSUING SONNETS MR. W. H. ALL HAPPINESSE AND THAT ETERNITIE PROMISED BY OUR EVER-LIVING POET WISHETH

that is, Mr. William Herbert [afterwards Lord Pembroke] wisheth to [the Earl of Southampton] the only begetter or instigator of these sonnets, that happiness and eternal life which [Shakespeare] the ever-living poet speaks of. The rider is -

THE WELL-WISHING ADVENTURER IN SETTING FORTH. T.T. That is, Thomas Thorpe is the adventurer who speculates in their publication. (See Athenaeum, Jan. 25, 1862.)

Shakespeare.
There are six accredited signatures of this poet, five of which are attached to business documents, and one is entered in a book called Florio, a translation of Montaigne, published in 1603. A passage in act ii. s. 2 of The Tempest is traced directly to this translation, proving that the Florio was possessed by Shakespeare before he wrote that play.

The Shakespeare of divines.
Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667). The Shakespeare of eloquence. So Barnave happily characterised the Comte de Mirabeau (1749-1791). The Spanish Shakespeare. Calderon (1601-1687).

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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