1709 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir William Davenant

Thomas Hearne, 30 July 1709; Reliquae Hearniae, ed. Bliss (1869) 1:150.



'Twas reported by tradition in Oxford, that Shakespear, as he used to pass from London to Stratford upon Avon, where he lived and now lies buried, always spent some time in the Crown tavern in Oxford, which was kept by one Davenant, who had a handsome wife, and loved witty company, though himself a reserved and melancholly man. He had born to him a son, who was afterwards christened by the name of William, who proved a very eminent poet, and was knighted, (by the name of sir William Davenant,) and the said Mr. Shakespear was his godfather, and gave him his name. (In all probability he got him.) 'Tis further said, that one day going from school, a grave doctor in divinity met him, and asked him, "Child, whether art thou going in such hast?" To which the child replyed, "O, sir, my god-father is come to town, and I am going to ask his blessing." To which the Dr. said, "Hold, child! You must not take the name of God in vaine."