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Brief lives.
1679/
1680
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MS. Aubrey 6, folio 109 recto

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MS. Aubrey 6, folio 109 recto
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The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, has graciously contributed images of materials in its collections to Shakespeare Documented under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.  Images used within the scope of these terms should cite the Bodleian Libraries as the source.  For any use outside the scope of these terms, visitors should contact Bodleian Libraries Imaging Services at imaging@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Document-specific information
Creator: John Aubrey
Title: Brief lives.
Date: 1679/1680
Repository: Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
Call number and opening: MS. Aubrey 6, fol. 109r-v

Item Creator
John Aubrey
Item Title
Brief lives.
Item Date
1679/80
Repository
Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
Call Number
MS. Aubrey 6, fol.109r

MS. Aubrey 6, folio 109 verso

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MS. Aubrey 6, folio 109 verso
Click image to enlarge

Institution Rights and Document Citation

Terms of use
The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, has graciously contributed images of materials in its collections to Shakespeare Documented under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.  Images used within the scope of these terms should cite the Bodleian Libraries as the source.  For any use outside the scope of these terms, visitors should contact Bodleian Libraries Imaging Services at imaging@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Document-specific information
Creator: John Aubrey
Title: Brief lives.
Date: 1679/1680
Repository: Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
Call number and opening: MS. Aubrey 6, fol. 109r-v

Item Creator
John Aubrey
Item Title
Brief lives.
Item Date
1679/80
Repository
Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
Call Number
MS. Aubrey 6, fol. 109v

Institution Rights and Document Citation

Terms of use
The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, has graciously contributed images of materials in its collections to Shakespeare Documented under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.  Images used within the scope of these terms should cite the Bodleian Libraries as the source.  For any use outside the scope of these terms, visitors should contact Bodleian Libraries Imaging Services at imaging@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Document-specific information
Creator: John Aubrey
Title: Brief lives.
Date: 1679/1680
Repository: Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
Call number and opening: MS. Aubrey 6, fol. 109r-v

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Semi-diplomatic transcription

[fol. 109r]

                                            Mr. William Shakespear.                        109            78              
                                         was borne at Stratford vpon Avon in the County of Warwic
                                         his father was a Butcher, & I haue been told heretofore by some
                                         of the neighbours that when he was a boy he exercised his fathers-
                                         Trade, but when he kill'd a Calfe he would doe it in a high style, &
                                         make a Speech. There was at that time another Butchers son in
                                         this Towne that was held not at all inferior to him for wi a naturall
                                         witt, his acquaintance & coetanean; but dyed young. This William
                                         being inclined naturally to Poetry and acting, came to London
                                         I guesse about 18: and was an Actor at one of the Play-houses
                                         and did acte exceedingly well: now Ben Iohnson was never
                                         a good Actor, but an excellent Instructor.  He began early to -
                                         make essayes at Dramatique Poetry, which at that time was very
                                         lowe; and his Playes tooke well: He was a handsome, well
                                         shap't man: very good company, and of a very readie and
                                         pleasant smooth Witt. The Humour of ……. the Constable
                                         in a Midsomersnight's Dreame, he happened to take at
*I thinke it was Mid-       *Grendon in Bucks which is the roade from London to Stratford
somer night that he-     
happened to lye there.     and there was living that Constable about 1642 when I
                                        first came to Avon. Mr Ios: Howe is of that parish and knew him.
                                        Ben Iohnson and he did gather Humours of men dayly
                                        where euer they came. One time as he was at the Tavern
                                        at Stratford super Avon, one Combes, an old rich Usurer
                                        was to be buryed. He makes there this extemporary Epitaph
                                                     Ten in the Hundred the Devill aIlowes
                                                     But Combes will haue twelue he sweares & vowes:
                                                     If any one askes who lies in this Tombe:
                                                     Hoh! quoth the Devill, 'Tis my Iohn o'Combe.
                                        He was wont to goe to his native Country once a yeare:
                                        I thinke I have been told that he left 2 or 300l per annum there
                                        and thereabout: to a sister. I have heard Sir William Dave-
V. his Epitaph                 -nant and Mr. Thomas Shadwell (who is counted the best Co-
in Dugdals Warw.           -moedian we have now) say that he had a most prodigious Witt,
                                        and did admire his naturall parts beyond all other Dramaticall
B. Iohnsons Vnder-         writers. He* was wont to say. That he never blotted out a line
- woods.                          in his life: sayd Beniamin Iohnson. I wish he had blotted out a thou-
                                        -sand. His Comoedies will be W repaire witt, as long as the English
                                        tongue is understood: where our for that he handles mores hominum: now
                                        our present writers reflect to much on particular persons, &
                                        coxcombeities,  that 20 yeares hence, they will not be understood.
                                        Though, as Ben Iohnson sayes of him. that he und had little Latine and
from Mr...Beeston.          lesse Greek; He understood Latine pretty well: for he had been in his younger
                                        yeares a Schoolmaster in the Countrey.

[fol. 109v]

                                    Moren of Sir Iohn Suckling
                                         My Lady Southcot. whose husband hanged himselfe,
                                         was Sir Iohn Sucklings sister, to whom he writes a consolato-
+ Dr. Corbet married       -ry letter viz: the first . She afterward maried ……+ Corbet D.D.
      Sir Nath. Brents        of Merton College oxon: at her house in Bishopsgate street London is
          daughter                an originall of her brother Sir John, of Sir Anthony van-
                                         Dyke, all at length leaning against a rock with a play papir
                                         -booke, contemplating. It is a piece of great value: there is
                                         also anothr rare picture, viz: of that pretty creature
                                         Mistress Iane Shore; an originall. / When his Aglaura was
                                         he bought all the Clouthes himselfe, which were very rich.
                                         no tinsill: all the lace pure gold and silver which cost him
                                         . . . . . . . . I haue now forgott: he had some scanes to it
                                         which these dayes were only used at masques. / Memorandum
                                         Mr Snowdon. tells me that after Sir Iohns unluckie ren-
                                         -counter, or Quarrell with Sir Iohn Digby, wherin he was-
                                         baffled: ‘twas strange to see the envie, and ill nature of
                                         people to trample, and scoffe at, and deject one in dis-
                                         -grace; inhumane as well as un-christian. The Lady
                                         . . . . Moray had made an entertainment for severall
                                         persons of quality at Ashley (in Surrey neer Chertsey)
                                         where^ at Mr Snowden then was. There was the Countesse
                                         of Middlesex, whom Sir Iohn had highly courted, and
                                         had spent on her & in treating her some thousand of
                                         pounds. At this entertainment she could not forbeare
                                         but was so severe, and ingrate as to upbraid Sir John
                                         of his late received Baffle: and some other Ladys,
                                         had their flirts. The Lady Moray (who invited them)
                                         seing Sir Iohn out of countenance, and for whse
                                         worth she alwaies had a respect. Come Well sayd shee
                                         I am a merry Wench, and will never for sake an
                                          old friend in disgrace: so come me sitt downe by me
                                         Sir John (said she) and seated him on her right hand:
                                         and countenanced him. this raysed Sir iohns dejected-
                                         spirites that he threw his reparties about the Table
                                         with so much sparklingnesse and Gentilenes of Witt,
                                         to the admiration of them all./

Sources

John Aubrey, Brief Lives with An Apparatus for the Lives of our English Mathematical Writers, ed. Kate Bennett (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 365-66, 371-72.

John Aubrey and Andrew‏ Clark, Brief lives, chiefly of contemporaries,... 1669-1696 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1898), 244-45.

Oliver Lawson Dick, ed., Aubrey’s Brief Lives (London: Secker and Warburg, 1949), 275-76.

 

Last updated January 6, 2017