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MS. Aubrey 6, folio 109 recto
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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

Semi-diplomatic transcription

                                            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.

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