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William Shakespeare

Attorney at Law and Solicitor in Chancery

162 pages
Library of Alexandria
Part OneÑWilliam ShakespeareÑAttorney At Law SOMEWHAT more than three-quarters of a century ago George Steevens, the acutest, and, perhaps, the most accomplished, but certainly the most perverse and unreliable of Shakespeare's commentators and critics, wrote thus of Shakespeare's life: "All that is known, with any degree of certainty, concerning Shakespeare, is, that he was born at Stratford-upon-Avon; married and had children [85] there; went to London, where he commenced actor,* and wrote poems and plays; returned to Stratford, made his will, died, and was buried." From 1780, when this was written, to the present day, the search after well-authenticated particulars of Shakespeare's life has been kept up with a faithfulness equal to that of Sir Palomides after the beast glatisaunt, and by as many devotees and with as much hope of glory as in the quest for the Sangreal. But the fortune of the paynim, rather than the virgin knight, has fallen to all the members of the self-devoted band, and we know little more of the man Shakespeare than was known by our great-grandfathers. For, although there have been issued to us of the present generation pamphlets professing to give new particulars of the life of Shakespeare, and tomes with even more pretentious titles, from all these there has been small satisfaction, save to those who can persuade themselves, that, by knowing what Shakespeare might have done, they know what he did, or that the reflex of his daily life is to be found in documents inscribed on parchment, and beginning, "This indenture made," etc., or "Noverint universi per presentes."