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beaux assembled at the home of John Dryden, washed by the waters of the Avon, and thrilled by the songs of the nightingales, thrushes and larks lending enchantment to the flitting hours.
Stratford, Snitterfield, Wilmcote and Shottery sent their contingent of roistering boys and girls to enjoy the moonlight lawn dance and rural feast set out under flowery bowers by the generous Dryden.
It would have done your heart good to see the variegated dresses, antics and faces of the happy rural belles. I see them as plain as ever in the looking-glass of memory. There is Laura Combs, plump and intelligent, Mary Scott, willowy and keen, Jennie Field, sedate and sterling, Mary Hall, musical and handsome, Annie Condell, modest and benevolent, Joyce Acton, witty and aristocratic, Lizzie Heminge, bouncing and beaming, Fannie Hunt, stately and kind, while Anne Hathaway, the big girl of the party, seemed to be the leader in all the innocent mischief of the evening.
William took a particular liking to the push and go of Anne, and she seemed to concentrate her gaze on his robust form at first sight. William asked me, as the friend of the family, to introduce him to Miss Hathaway, which I did in my best words, and away they went, on a hop, step and a jump through the Morris dance that was just then being enacted on the lawn.
The clarion notes of the farm cocks were saluting the rosy footsteps of the dawn when the various parties dispersed for home.
The last I saw of William he was helping Miss Hathaway over the rustic stile and hedge row that
rimmed the old thatched cottage home of his new found flame.
It was a frigid day or night when William could not find something fresh and new among the fair sex, and like a king bee in a field of wild flowers, he sipped the nectar of love and beauty, and tossed carking care to the vagrant winds.
It was soon after this moonlight party that a picnic revel was given in the domain of Sir Hugh Clopton, near the old mill and stone bridge erected by that generous public benefactor.
The boys and girls of the town turned out en masse, and enjoyed the hawking, hunting, swimming, dancing, archery and boating that prevailed that day.
In the midst of the festivities, while a long line of rural beauties and beaux were prancing and rollicking on the bridge, a scream, and a flash of Dolly Varden dress in the river showed the struggling efforts of Anne Hathaway to keep her head above water.
One glance at the pride of his heart struggling for her life determined the soul of the athlete, when he plunged into the running stream, caught the arm of his adored as she was going down for the third time, and then with a few mighty sweeps of his brawny arm, he reached the shore and heaved her on the sands in an almost lifeless condition. She was soon restored, however, by her numerous companions, with only the loss of a few ribbons. and bunches of hawthorn blossoms that William had tied in her golden hair that morning.
William was the hero of the day, and his fame for bravery rung on the lips of the Warwick
shire yeomanry, while in the heart of Anne Hathaway devotion reigned supreme.
"There is no love broker in the world can more prevail in man's commendation with woman than report of valor."
The courtship of William and Anne was rapid, and although her father died only a few months before the 27th of November, 1582, license to marry was suddenly obtained through the insistence of the yeoman friends of the Hathaway family, Fulke-Sandells and John Richardson, who convinced the Lord Bishop of Worcester that one calling of the banns of matrimony was only necessary.
William left his home in Stratford immediately and took charge of Anne's cottage and farm, settling down as soon as one of his rollicking nature could realize that he had been virtually forced into marrying a buxom girl, eight years older than himself, and a woman of hot temper. Six months after marriage Susanna, his daughter was born, and about two years after, February 2d, 1585, his twin children Hammet and Judith were ushered into his cottage home, as new pledges of matrimonial felicity.
Things did not move on with William as happily after marriage as before, and while his wife did most of the work, the Bard of Nature preferred to shirk hard labor in field and wood, longing constantly to meet the "boys" at the tavern, or fish, sing, hunt and poach along the Avon.
Yoking Pegasus to a Flanders mare would be about as reasonable as joining a practical, honest woman with a poet!
Water and hot oil will not mix, and the fires of genius cannot be curbed or subdued by material surroundings. Beef cannot appreciate brains!
Anne was constantly sand papering William about his vagabond life, and holding up the picture of ruin for her ancestral estate, by his thoughtless extravagance and determination to attend to other people's business instead of his own. As the wife was senior and business boss, the Bard endured these curtain lectures with meekness and surface sorrow and promises of reformation, but, when out of her sight continued in the same old rut of playing the clown and philosopher for the public amusement.
"How hard it is to hide the spark of Nature!"
FARM LIFE. SPORTING.
POACHING ON LUCY.
"Hanging and wiving go by destiny!"
THE drudgery of farm work was not relished by Shakspere, and the spring of 1586 found the man of destiny more engaged in the sports of Stratford and surrounding villages than in the production of corn, cabbage, turnips and potatoes. Where fun was to be found William raised the auction and the highest bidder at the booths of vanity fair. He was athletic in mind and body, and forever like a cribbed lion or caged eagle, struggled to shake off his rural environments and dash away into the world of thought and action.
Home, with its practical, daily gad grind morality and responsibility, had no charm for William, and his stalwart wife made matters worse by her continual importunities to her vagabond husband to settle down with the muttonhead clodhoppers and tradesmen of Warwickshire. He was not built that way!
Her farm logic fell upon deaf ears, for while she was preaching hard work he was reading the lovelit flights of Ovid and pondering over the sugared sonnets of Petrarch and Sir Philip Sidney, living in the realms of Clio, Euterpe and Terpsichore,