E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
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 himAnd though thou hadst small Latin and less Greek
Milton calls him Sweetest Shakespeare, fancys child, and says he will go to the well-trod stage to hear him warble his native wood-notes wild. (LAllegro, 133.)
Akenside says he is Alike the master of our smiles and tears. (Ode i.)
Dryden says of himHe was a man who of all modern and perhaps ancient poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul.
Young saysHe wrote the play the Almighty made. (Epistle to Lord Lansdowne.)
Mallett saysGreat above rule Nature was his own. (Verbal Criticism.)
Collins says he joined Tuscan fancy to Athenian force. (Epistle to Sir Thomas Hanmer.)
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 Shakespeares 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
OUR EVER-LIVING POET
that is, Mr. William Herbert [after-wards 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
That is, Thomas Thorpe is the adventurer who speculates in their publication. (See Athenæum, 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 Floria, 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 (16131667).
The Shakespeare of eloquence. So Barnave happily characterised the Comte de Mirabeau (17491791).