Imagens das páginas

Lamb says, moves pity and terror beyond any scene, ancient or modern.' It may challenge comparison with Shakspeare's death of Richard II.; but Marlowe could not interest us in his hero as the great dramatist does in the gentle Richard.

Nature that formed us of four elements,
Warring within our breasts for regiment,
Doth teach us all to have aspiring minds:
Our souls, whose faculties can comprehend
The wondrous architecture of the world,
And measure every wandering planet's course,
Still climbing after knowledge infinite,
And always moving as the restless spheres,
Will us to wear ourselves, and never rest
Until we reach the ripest fruit of all.

Marlowe came to an early and singularly unhappy end. He was stabbed in an affray in a tavern at Deptford, and buried on the 1st of June 1593, the parish register recording that he was 'slain by Francis Archer.' Marlowe had raised his poniard against his antagonist-whom Meres and Anthony Wood describe as 'a serving-man, a rival of his lewd love'-when the other seized him by the wrist, and turned the dagger, so that it entered Marlowe's own head, 'in such sort that, notwithstanding all the means of surgery that could be brought, he shortly after died of his wound.' Thus, condemned by the serious and puritanical, and stained with follies, while his genius was rapidly maturing and developing its magnificent resources, Marlowe fell a victim to an obscure and disgraceful brawl. The last words of Greene's address to him a year or two before are somewhat ominous: 'Refuse not (with me) till this last point of extremity; for little knowest thou how in the end thou shalt be visited.' The warning was

Like the sad presaging raven, that tolls
The sick man's passport in her hollow beak,
And in the shadow of the silent night
Doth shake contagion from her sable wings.
Jew of Malta.

The finest compliment paid to the genius of this unfortunate poet, was by his contemporary and fellow-dramatist, Michael Drayton :

Next Marlowe, bathed in the Thespian springs,
Had in him those brave translunary things
That the first poets had: his raptures were
All air and fire, which made his verses clear;
For that fine madness still he did retain,
Which rightly should possess a poet's brain.

The great success of Marlowe's plays, and the popularity of Alleyn, the principal actor in them, must have influenced Shakspeare in no small degree; and he fortunately possessed in Burbage a tragic performer capable of embodying his finest conceptions and dividing the applause of the town. Marlowe's Jew was, in a certain sense, the prototype of Shylock, and his historical plays the foundation of Shakspeare's first efforts in the same popular walk of the drama. There could never have been any serious or continued rivalry between the poets, even if death had not prevented it; but there may have been a short period when Shakspeare looked with envy and admiration on the wild, irregular, and towering genius that, 'with no middle flight,' successfully soared

Above the Aonian mount, while it pursued Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme. Originality, that first attribute of genius, belongs, in an eminent degree, to the ill-fated Marlowe. We subjoin part of the death-scene of Edward II. in his historical drama, a scene which, Charles

Scene from Marlowe's Edward II.

Scene-Berkeley Castle. The KING is left alone with LIGHtborn, a murderer.

Edward. Who's there? what light is that? wherefore com'st thou?

Lightborn. To comfort you, and bring you joyful news. Edw. Small comfort finds poor Edward in thy looks! Villain, I know thou com'st to murder me.

Light. To murder you, my most gracious lord !
Far is it from my heart to do you harm.
The queen sent me to see how you were used,
And what eyes can refrain from shedding tears,
For she relents at this your misery:
To see a king in this most piteous state.

Edw. Weep'st thou already? list a while to me,
And then thy heart, were it as Gurney's1 is,
Or as Matrevis',1 hewn from the Caucasus,
Yet will it melt, ere I have done my tale.
This dungeon where they keep me is a sink
Wherein the filth of all the castle falls.
Light. O villains!

Edw. And there, in mire and puddle, have I stood
This ten days' space; and lest that I should sleep,
One plays continually upon a drum.

They give me bread and water, being a king;
So that, for want of sleep and sustenance,
My mind's distempered, and my body's numbed,
And whether I have limbs or no, I know not.
O would my blood drop out from every vein,
As doth this water from my tattered robes!
Tell Isabel, the queen, I looked not thus,
When for her sake I ran at tilt in France,
And there unhorsed the Duke of Cleremont.

Light. O speak no more, my lord! this breaks my heart.

Lie on this bed, and rest yourself a while.

Edw. These looks of thine can harbour nought but death:

I see my tragedy written in thy brows.
Yet stay a while, forbear thy bloody hand,
And let me see the stroke before it comes,
That even then, when I shall lose my life,
My mind may be more steadfast on my God.

Light. What means your highness to mistrust me thus?

Edw. What mean'st thou to dissemble with me thus? Light. These hands were never stained with innocent blood, Nor shall they now be tainted with a king's.

Edw. Forgive my thought, for having such a thought. One jewel have I left, receive thou this. Still fear I, and I know not what's the cause, But every joint shakes as I give it thee. Oh, if thou harbour'st murder in thy heart, Let the gift change thy mind, and save thy soul. Know that I am a king: Oh, at that name I feel a hell of grief. Where is my crown? Gone, gone; and do I still remain alive?

Light. You're overwatched, my lord; lie down and

[blocks in formation]

Light. He sleeps.

Edw. O let me not die; yet stay, O stay a while.
Light. How now, my lord?

Edw. Something still buzzeth in mine ears,
And tells me if I sleep, I never wake;
This fear is that which makes me tremble thus.
And therefore tell me wherefore art thou come?
Light. To rid thee of thy life. Matrevis, come.
Edw. am too weak and feeble to resist :
Assist me, sweet God, and receive my soul.

The following may be taken as a specimen of Marlowe's sonorous exaggerated style:

Description of Tamburlaine.

Of stature tall, and straightly fashioned;
Like his desire, lift upwards and divine.
So large of limbs, his joints so strongly knit,
Such breadth of shoulders, as might mainly bear
Old Atlas' burthen. 'Twixt his manly pitch

A pearl more worth than all the world is placed :
Wherein by curious sovereignty of art
Are fixed his piercing instruments of sight:
Whose fiery circles bear encompassed

A heaven of heavenly bodies in their spheres,
That guides his steps and actions to the throne
Where Honour sits invested royally.

Pale of complexion, wrought in him with passion,
Thirsting with sovereignty and love of arms.
His lofty brows in folds do figure death;
And in their smoothness amity and life.
About them hangs a knot of amber hair,
Wrapped in curls, as fierce Achilles' was;
On which the breath of heaven delights to play,
Making it dance with wanton majesty.
His arms and fingers long and sinewy,
Betokening valour and excess of strength;
In every part proportioned like the man

Should make the world subdued to Tamburlaine. . . .

The first day when he pitched down his tents,
White is their hue; and on his silver crest
A snowy feather spangled white he bears;
To signify the mildness of his mind,

That, satiate with spoil, refuseth blood:

But when Aurora mounts the second time,

As red as scarlet is his furniture;


The following is exactly like a scene from Shakspeare:

The Nobles Remonstrate with Edward II. EDWARD.-KENT.-YOUNG MORTIMER.-LANCASTER. Young Mortimer. Nay, stay my lord: I come to bring you news:

Mine uncle's taken prisoner by the Scots.
Edward. Then ransom him.

Lancaster. 'Twas in your wars; you should ransom him.

Y. Mor. And you shall ransom him, or else

Kent. What! Mortimer, you will not threaten him? Edw. Quiet yourself; you shall have the broad seal To gather for him through the realm.

Lanc. Your minion, Gaveston, hath taught you this.
Y. Mor. My lord, the family of the Mortimers
Are not so poor, but would they sell their land,
Could levy men enough to anger you.

We never beg, but use such prayers as these.
Edw. Shall I still be taunted thus?

Y. Mor. Nay, now you're here alone, I'll speak my mind.

Lane. And so will I, and then, my lord, farewell.
Y. Mor. The idle triumphs, masques, lascivious shows,
And prodigal gifts bestowed on Gaveston,
Have drawn thy treasury dry, and made thee weak :
The murmuring commons, overstretched, break.

Lanc. Look for rebellion, look to be deposed;
Thy garrisons are beaten out of France,
And, lame and poor, lie groaning at the gates.
The wild O'Neil, with swarms of Irish kernes,
Lives uncontrolled within the English pale.
Unto the walls of York the Scots make road,
And unresisted draw away rich spoils.

Y. Mor. The haughty Dane commands the narrow


While in the harbour ride thy ships unrigged.
Lanc. What foreign prince sends thee ambassadors?
Y. Mor. Who loves thee but a sort of flatterers?
Lanc. Thy gentle queen, sole sister to Valois,
Complains that thou hast left her all forlorn.

Y. Mor. Thy court is naked, being bereft of those
That make a king seem glorious to the world;

I mean the Peers, whom thou shouldst dearly love:
Libels are cast against thee in the street-

Then must his kindled wrath be quenched with blood, Ballads and rhymes made of thy overthrow.

Not sparing any that can manage arms :
But if these threats move not submission,
Black are his colours, black pavilion,

His his shield, his horse, his armour, plumes,
And jetty feathers, menace death and hell;
Without respect of sex, degree or age,
He razeth all his foes with fire and sword.

Detached lines and passages in Edward II. possess much poetical beauty. Thus, in answer to Leicester, the king says:

Leicester, if gentle words might comfort me,
Thy speeches long ago had eased my sorrows;
For kind and loving hast thou always been.
The griefs of private men are soon allayed,
But not of kings. The forest deer being struck,
Runs to an herb that closeth up the wounds;
But when the imperial lion's flesh is gored,
He rends and tears it with his wrathful paw,
And highly scorning that the lowly earth
Should drink his blood, mounts up to the air.

Or Mortimer's device for the royal pageant:

A lofty cedar tree fair flourishing,

On whose top branches kingly eagles perch,
And by the bark a canker creeps me up,
And gets unto the highest bough of all.

Lanc. The northern borderers seeing their houses burned,

Their wives and children slain, run up and down
Cursing the name of thee and Gaveston.

Y. Mor. When wert thou in the field with banners spread?

But once; and then thy soldiers marched like players
With garish robes, not armour; and thyself
Bedaubed with gold, rode laughing at the rest,
Nodding and shaking of thy spangled crest,
Where women's favours hung like labels down.

Lanc. And therefore came it that the fleering Scots
To England's high disgrace have made this jig:
'Maids of England, sore may you mourn
For your lemans you have lost at Bannocksbourn,
With a heave and a ho.

What weened the king of England

So soon to have won Scotland

With a rombelow?'

[blocks in formation]

added some excellent illustrative and explanatory


The taste of the public for the romantic drama, in preference to the classical, seems now to have been confirmed. An attempt was made, towards the close of Elizabeth's reign, to revive the forms of the classic stage, by DANIEL, who wrote two plays, Cleopatra and Philotas, which are smoothly versified, but undramatic in their character. LADY PEMBROKE CO-operated in a tragedy called Antony, written in 1590; and SAMUEL BRANDON produced, in 1598, a tame and feeble Roman play, Virtuous Octavia.


In the throng of dramatic authors, the names of ANTHONY MUNDAY (1554-1633) and HENRY CHETTLE (known as author between 1592 and 1602) frequently occur. Munday was an author as early as 1579, and he was concerned in fourteen plays. Francis Meres, in 1598, calls him the 'best plotter' among the writers for the stage. One of his dramas, Sir John Oldcastle, was written in conjunction with Michael Drayton and others, and was printed in 1600, with the name of Shakspeare on the title-page. The Death of Robert, Earl of Huntington, printed in 1601, was a popular play by Munday, assisted by Chettle, though sometimes ascribed to Thomas Heywood. The pranks of Robin Hood and Maid Marian in merry Sherwood are thus gaily set forth :

Sport in Sherwood.

Wind once more, jolly huntsmen, all your horns,
Whose shrill sound, with the echoing woods' assist,
Shall ring a sad knell for the fearful deer,
Before our feathered shafts, death's winged darts,
Bring sudden summons for their fatal ends.
Give me thy hand: now God's curse on me light,
If I forsake not grief in grief's despite.
Now make a cry, and yeomen, stand ye round:
I charge ye, never more let woful sound
Be heard among ye; but whatever fall,
Laugh grief to scorn, and so make sorrow small.
Marian, thou seest, though courtly pleasures want,
Yet country sport in Sherwood is not scant.
For the soul-ravishing delicious sound
Of instrumental music, we have found
The winged quiristers, with divers notes,
Sent from their quaint recording pretty throats,
On every branch that compasseth our bower,
Without command contenting us each hour.
For arras hangings and rich tapestry,
We have sweet nature's best embroidery.

For thy steel glass, wherein thou wont'st to look,
Thy crystal eyes gaze in a crystal brook.
At court, a flower or two did deck thy head,
Now, with whole garlands it is circled;
For what in wealth we want, we have in flowers,
And what we lose in halls, we find in bowers.

Chettle was engaged in no less than thirty-eight plays between the years 1597 and 1603, four of which have been printed. Mr Collier thinks he had written for the stage before 1592, when he published Greene's posthumous work, A Groat's Worth of Wit. Among his plays the names of which have descended to us, is one on the subject of Cardinal Wolsey, which probably was the original of Shakspeare's Henry VIII. The best drama of this prolific author which we now

possess is a comedy called Patient Grissell, taken from Boccaccio. The humble charms of the heroine are thus finely described:

See where my Grissell and her father is ;
Methinks her beauty, shining through those weeds,
Seems like a bright star in the sullen night.
How lovely poverty dwells on her back!
Did but the proud world note her as I do,
She would cast off rich robes, forswear rich state,
To clothe her in such poor habiliments.

The names of Haughton, Antony Brewer, Porter, Smith, Hathaway-probably some relation of Shakspeare's wife-Wilson, &c. also occur as dramatic writers. From the diary of Henslowe, it appears that, between 1591 and 1597, upwards of a hundred different plays were performed by four of the ten or eleven theatrical companies which then existed. Henslowe was originally a pawnbroker, who advanced money and dresses to the players, and he ultimately possessed a large share of the wardrobe and properties of the playhouses with which he was concerned. The name of Shakspeare does not once occur in his diary.

Several good dramas of this golden age have descended to us, the authors of which are unknown. A few of these possess merit enough to have been considered first sketches of Shakspeare, but this opinion has been gradually abandoned by all but one or two German critics. Most of them have been published in Dodsley's Collection of Old Plays. The best are the Merry Devil of Edmonton, the London Prodigal, the Yorkshire Tragedy, Lord Cromwell, the Birth of Merlin, the Collier of Croydon, Mucedorus, Locrine, Arden of Feversham, the Misfortunes of Arthur, Edward III. &c. The most correct and regular of these anonymous dramas is Arden of Feversham, a domestic tragedy, founded on a murder which took place in 1551. Alice, the wife of Arden, proves unfaithful, and joins with her paramour Mosbie, and some assassins, in murdering her husband. Tieck has translated this play into German, as a genuine production of Shakspeare, but the style is different. In the earliest acknowledged works of the Warwickshire bard, there is a play of wit, and of what Hallam calls analogical imagery,' which is not seen in Arden of Feversham, though it exhibits a strong picture of the passions, and indicates freedom of versification and dramatic art. We subjoin one touching scene between Alice and her paramour-a scene of mutual recrimination, guilt, and tenderness :

Scene from Arden of Feversham.


Mosbie. How now, Alice? What! sad and passionate? Make me partaker of thy pensiveness;

Fire divided burns with lesser force.

Alice. But I will dam that fire in my breast,
Till by the force thereof my part consume.
Ah, Mosbie!

Mos. Such deep pathaires, like to a cannon's burst,
Discharged against a ruinated wall,
Breaks my relenting heart in thousand pieces.
Ungentle Alice, thy sorrow is my sore;
Thou knowest it well, and 'tis thy policy
To forge distressful looks, to wound a breast
Where lies a heart which dies when thou art sad.
It is not love that loves to anger love.

Al. It is not love that loves to murder love.
Mos. How mean you that?

Al. Thou know'st how dearly Arden loved me.
Mos. And then-

Al. And then-conceal the rest, for 'tis too bad,
Lest that my words be carried to the wind,
And published in the world to both our shames.
I pray thee, Mosbie, let our spring-time wither;
Our harvest else will yield but loathsome weeds.
Forget, I pray thee, what has passed betwixt us:
For now I blush and tremble at the thoughts.
Mos. What are you changed?

Al. Ay, to my former happy life again;
From title of an odious strumpet's name

To honest Arden's wife, not Arden's honest wife-
Ha, Mosbie! 'tis thou hast rifled me of that,
And made me slanderous to all my kin.
Even in my forehead is thy name engraven,

A mean artificer, that low-born name!

I was bewitched; woe-worth the hapless hour
And all the causes that enchanted me.

Mos. Nay, if thou ban, let me breathe curses forth;
And if you stand so nicely at your fame,
Let me repent the credit I have lost.

I have neglected matters of import,

That would have 'stated me above thy state;
For-slowed advantages, and spurned-at time;
Ay, fortune's right hand Mosbie hath forsook,
To take a wanton giglot by the left.

I left the marriage of an honest maid,

Whose dowry would have weighed down all thy wealth;
Whose beauty and demeanour far exceeded thee.
This certain good I lost for changing bad,
And wrapt my credit in thy company.

I was bewitched; that is no theme of thine;
And thou unhallowed hast enchanted me.
But I will break thy spells and exorcisms,
And put another sight upon these eyes,
That shewed my heart a raven for a dove.
Thou art not fair; I viewed thee not till now:
Thou art not kind; till now I knew thee not:
And now the rain hath beaten off thy gilt,
Thy worthless copper shews thee counterfeit.
It grieves me not to see how foul thou art,
But mads me that ever I thought thee fair.
Go, get thee gone, a copesmate for thy hinds;
I am too good to be thy favourite.

Al. Ay, now I see, and too soon find it true,
Which often hath been told me by my friends,
That Mosbie loves me not but for my wealth;
Which too incredulous I ne'er believed.
Nay, hear me speak, Mosbie, a word or two;
I'll bite my tongue if I speak bitterly.
Look on me, Mosbie, or else I'll kill myself.
Nothing shall hide me from thy stormy look;
If thou cry war, there is no peace for me.
I will do penance for offending thee;
And burn this prayer-book, which I here use,
The holy word that has converted me.
See, Mosbie, I will tear away the leaves,
And all the leaves; and in this golden cover
Shall thy sweet phrases and thy letters dwell,
And thereon will I chiefly meditate,

And hold no other sect but such devotion.
Wilt thou not look? is all thy love o'erwhelmed?
Wilt thou not hear? what malice stops thy ears?
Why speak'st thou not? what silence ties thy tongue?
Thou hast been sighted as the eagle is,
And heard as quickly as the fearful hare,
And spoke as smoothly as an orator,
When I have bid thee hear, or see, or speak:
And art thou sensible in none of these?
Weigh all thy good turns with this little fault,
And I deserve not Mosbie's muddy looks.
A fence of trouble is not thickened still;
Be clear again; I'll ne'er more trouble thee.
Mos. O fie, no; I'm a base artificer;
My wings are feathered for a lowly flight.
Mosbie, fie, no; not for a thousand pound

Make love to you; why, 'tis unpardonable.
We beggars must not breathe where gentles are.
Al. Sweet Mosbie is as gentle as a king,
And I too blind to judge him otherwise.
Flowers sometimes spring in fallow lands,
Weeds in gardens, roses grow on thorns;
So whatsoe'er my Mosbie's father was,
Himself is valued gentle by his worth.

Mos. Ah, how you women can insinuate,
And clear a trespass with your sweet set tongue.
I will forget this quarrel, gentle Alice,
Provided I'll be tempted so no more.

Arden of Feversham was first printed in 1592. The Yorkshire Tragedy, another play of the same kind, but apparently more hastily written, was performed in 1604, and four years afterwards printed with Shakspeare's name. Both Dyce and Collier, able dramatic antiquaries and students, are inclined to the opinion that this drama contains passages which only Shakspeare could have written. But in lines like the following-though smooth and natural, and quoted as the most Shakspearian in the play-we miss the music of the great dramatist's thoughts and numbers. It is, however, a forcible picture of a luckless, reckless gambler:

Picture of a Gambler.

What will become of us? All will away!
My husband never ceases in expense,
Both to consume his credit and his house;
And 'tis set down by Heaven's just decree,
That Riot's child must needs be Beggary.
Are these the virtues that his youth did promise?
Dice and voluptuous meetings, midnight revels,
Taking his bed with surfeits, ill beseeming
The ancient honour of his house and name?
And this not all, but that which kills me most,
When he recounts his losses and false fortunes,
The weakness of his state, so much dejected,
Not as a man repentant, but half mad.
His fortunes cannot answer his expense.
He sits and sullenly locks up his arms,

Forgetting Heaven, looks downward, which makes him
Appear so dreadful, that he frights my heart:
Walks heavily, as if his soul were earth;
Not penitent for those his sins are past,
But vexed his money cannot make them last.
A fearful melancholy, ungodly sorrow!


We have seen that Greene, Peele, and Marlowe prepared in some degree the way for Shakspeare. They had given a more settled and scholastic form to the drama, and assigned it a permanent place in the national literature. They adorned the stage with more variety of character and action, with deep passion, and true poetry. The latter, indeed, was tinged with incoherence and extravagance, but the sterling ore of genius was, in Marlowe at least, abundant. Above all, they had familiarised the public ear to the use of blank verse. The last improvement was the greatest; for even the genius of Shakspeare would have been cramped and confined, if it had been condemned to move only in the fetters of rhyme. The quick interchange of dialogue, and the various nice shades and alternations of character and feeling, could not have been evolved in dramatic action, except in that admirable form of verse which unites rhythmical harmony with the utmost freedom, grace, and flexibility.

When Shakspeare, therefore, appeared conspicuously on the horizon, the scene may be said to have been prepared for his reception. The Genius of the Drama had accumulated materials for the use of the great poet, who was to extend her empire over limits not yet recognised, and invest it with a splendour which the world had never seen before.

The few incidents known of Shakspeare's life are chiefly derived from legal documents. The fond idolatry with which he is now regarded was only turned to his personal history at a late period, when little could be gathered even by the most enthusiastic collector. WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE was born at Stratford-on-Avon, in the county of Warwick, in April 1564. There is a pleasant and poetical tradition, that he was born on the 23d of the month, the anniversary of St George, the tutelar saint of England; but all we know with certainty is, that he was baptised on the 26th. His father, John Shakspeare, is traced to a family occupying land at Snitterfield, near Warwick. He settled in the town of Stratford, became a wool-comber or glover, and elevated his social position by marriage with a rustic heiress, Mary Arden, possessed of an estate worth about £120 per annum of our present money. The poet's father rose to be high-bailiff and chief alderman of Stratford; but in 1578, he is found mortgaging his wife's inheritance, and, from entries in the town-books, is supposed to have fallen into comparative poverty. William was the eldest of six surviving children, and after some education at the grammar-school, he is said to have been brought home to assist at his father's business. There is a blank in his history for some years; but doubtless he was engaged, whatever might be his circumstances or employment, in treasuring up materials for his future poetry. The study of man and of nature, facts in natural history, the country, the fields, and the woods, would be gleaned by familiar intercourse and observation among his fellow-townsmen, and in rambling over the beautiful valley of the Avon. It has been conjectured that he was some time in a lawyer's office, as his works abound in technical legal phrases and illustrations. This has always seemed to us highly probable. The London players were also then in the habit of visiting Stratford; Thomas Green, an actor, was a native of the town; and Burbage, the greatest performer of his day-the future Richard, Hamlet, and Othello -was originally from Warwickshire. Who can doubt, then, that the high-bailiff's son, from the years of twelve to twenty, was a frequent and welcome visitant behind the scenes-that he there imbibed the tastes and feelings which coloured all his future life-and that he there felt the first stirrings of his immortal dramatic genius. We are persuaded that he had begun to write long before he left Stratford, and had most probably sketched, if not completed, his Venus and Adonis, and the Lucrece. The amount of his education at the grammar-school has been made a question of eager scrutiny and controversy. Ben Jonson says he had 'little Latin, and less Greek.' This is not denying that he had some. Many Latinised idioms and expressions are to be found in his plays. The choice of two classical subjects for his early poetry, and the numerous felicitous allusions in his dramas to the mythology of the

ancients, shew that he was imbued with the spirit and taste of classical literature, and was a happy student, if not a critical scholar. His mind was too comprehensive to degenerate into pedantry; but when, at the age of four or five and twenty, he took the field of original dramatic composition, in company with the university-bred authors and wits of his times, he soon distanced them all, in correctness as well as facility, in the intellectual richness of his thoughts and diction, and in the wide range of his acquired knowledge. It may be safely assumed, therefore, that at Stratford he was a hard, though perhaps an irregular student. The precocious maturity of Shakspeare's passions hurried him into a premature marriage. On the 28th of November 1582, he obtained a licence at Worcester, legalising his union with Anne Hathaway, with once asking of the bans. Two of his neighbours became security in the sum of £40, that the poet would fulfil his matrimonial engagement, he being a minor, and unable, legally, to contract for himself. Anne Hathaway was seven years older than her husband. She was the daughter of a 'substantial yeoman' of the village of Shottery, about a mile from Stratford. The poet's daughter, Susanna, was christened on the 26th of May 1583, six months after the marriage. In a year and a half, two other children, twins, were born to Shakspeare, who had no family afterwards. We may readily suppose that the small town of Stratford did not offer scope for the ambition of the poet, now arrived at early manhood, and feeling the ties of a husband and a father. He removed to London in 1586 or 1587. It has been said that his departure was hastened by the effects of a lampoon he had written on a neighbouring squire, Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote, in revenge for Sir Thomas prosecuting him for deer-stealing. The story is inconsistent in its details. Part of it must be untrue; it was never recorded against him in his lifetime; and the whole may have been built upon the opening scene in the Merry Wives of Windsor-not written till after Sir Thomas Lucy's death-in which there is some wanton wit on the armorial bearings of the Lucy family. As an actor, Shakspeare is spoken favourably of by Lodge; and in

* Mr Washington Irving, in his Sketch-book, thus adverts to Charlecote and the deer-stealing affair:

'I had a desire to see the old family seat of the Lucys at Charlecote, and to ramble through the park where Shakspeare, in company with some of the roysters of Stratford, committed his youthful offence of deer-stealing. In this hare-brained exploit, we are told that he was taken prisoner, and carried to the keeper's lodge, where he remained all night in doleful captivity. When brought into the presence of Sir Thomas Lucy, his treatment must have been galling and humiliating; for it so wrought upon his spirit, as to produce a rough pasquinade, which was affixed to the park-gate at Charlecote.

him, that he applied to a lawyer at Warwick to put the severity This flagitious attack upon the dignity of the knight so incensed of the laws in force against the rhyming deer-stalker. Shakspeare did not wait to brave the united puissance of a knight of the shire

and a country attorney.

It was

'I now found myself among noble avenues of oaks and elms, whose vast size bespoke the growth of centuries. the romantic solitudes of the adjoining park of Fulbroke, which from wandering in early life among this rich scenery, and about then formed a part of the Lucy estate, that some of Shakspeare's tations of Jaques, and the enchanting woodland pictures in As commentators have supposed he derived his noble forest mediYou Like It.

[The house] is a large building of brick, with stone quoins, and is in the Gothic style of Queen Elizabeth's day, having been built in the first year of her reign. The exterior remains very nearly in its original state, and may be considered a fair specimen of the residence of a wealthy country gentleman old style with stone-shafted casements, a great bow-window of The front of the house is completely in the heavy stone-work, and a portal with armorial bearings over it,

of those days.

« AnteriorContinuar »