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house, with its open butcher's window, we enter. The floor is paved with stones, that, characteristically enough, are cut up into a bost of splinters and fragments, as if really hacked by a butcher's clearer. On one side is an ample fireplace, with cozy sitting-places on either side; for, in those smoky days, with penetrating draughts coming in from all sides, happy was he who was privileged to take the chimney corner. We proceed into the kitchen, lighted by a side window, looking into the Swan yard. Here a most enormous beam-doubtless from an oak in the forest of Arden-supports the mantel. The fireplace is ample enough to roast a sheep; with recesses, as usual, on either side for the gaffer and bis dame, with a wide chimney gaping up to the sky, and ready to pour out a volcano of smoke, as doubtless it often has done, from a pile of crackling wood. If the fire is out now, our feelings sparkling back upon the past, must rekindle it. That Shakespeare himself has stood here before the cheerful blaze, no one can doubt. Perhaps, as a boy, he may have sat in the corner, feeding his galloping imagination from a spark in the ashes. His father, at any rate, lived and died here ; and he must have often walked in, when at Stratford, to see the old man. From the kitchen, a flight of about a dozen stairs leads into the chamber, that must be ever sacred, where the great bard first entered, as an actor, upon the seven ages of life. It is a low, moderate-sized room, pine paces by seven, with a window of four combined casements, and has a fireplace, with an enormous beam supporting its mantel.”* Its furniture is simple, but the tables and chairs are of the antique pattern; one of the former looks as if it might have existed since the age of Elizabeth. Of the small back-rooms, mentioned by Mrs. Stowe, one is now an ante-room; the other was the sleeping apartment of the person who shows the house ; it is now unoccupied.
On the table standing in front of the window, a book is now placed, in which the visitors inscribe their names; and, till recently, were requested to add what sum (if any) they might please to give towards "the fund for the complete purchase of Shake. speare's house, for the use of the public for ever.” As already observed, the walls are covered with autographs; some of the names, both on the wall and in the book, are accompanied with a few lines of poetry-very few of these mottoes, however, being worthy the subject. Some names, and the mottoes, occupy a wide space: the most eminent man who ever visited the hallowed retreat-himself possessing much of the genius of Shakespeare—has contented himself with writing his name in a small neat hand; that man was Sir Walter Scott.— We select three of the best of the poetical autographs, which will show that their general character does not come up to mediocrity.
. 1. WASHINGTON IRVING's.
That where he died in vain do try
2. LUCIEN BUONAPARTE's. “ The eyes of Genius glisten to admire,
How memory hails the sound of Shakespeare's lyre :
* Stratford as connected with Shakespeare.
3. MRS. CORNWALL BARON Wilson's.
Bard of the song that ne'er grows old,
Their lyric fire can ne'er grow cold;
Notwithstanding that tradition is, as we have shown, supported by ducumentary evidence, there are those who still “doubt" as to the house in Henley-street being that in which Shakespeare was born. When Mrs. Stowe and her husband visited Stratford, they were accompanied by a gentleman named C- , and by Joseph Sturge, the eminent Quaker corn-merchant of Birmingham; one of the last persons we should Lave supposed, à priori, to be likely to go on pilgrimage to the birthplace of a dramatist. In "the drizzly evening," after their visit, writes the lady, "over our comfortable tea-table, C- ventured to intimate, pretty decidedly, that he considered the whole thing a bore; whereat I thought I saw a slight twinkle around the eyes and mouth of our most Christian and patient friend, Joseph Sturge. Mr. S. (the writer's husband), laughingly told him, that he thought it the greatest exercise of Christian tolerance, that he should have trailed round with us in the mud all day in our sight-seeing, bearing with our unreasonable raptures. He smiled, and said quietly, 'I must confess, that I was a little pleased that our friend Harriet was so zealous to see Shakespeare's house, when it wasn't his house, and so earnest to get sprigs from his mulberry, when it wasn't his mulberry.' We were quite ready to allow the foolishness of the thing; and to join in the laugh at our own expense.” It would seem, therefore, as if the authoress, any more than the solemn matter-of-fact Quaker, had no great faith in the traditionary legends of Stratford. But if doubts-unreasonable doubts we must think them-are raised as to the identity of the place of the poet's birth, there can be none as to that of his education. He attended the grammar-school of his native town; "there," says Rowe, “ he learned what Latin he was master of;" but the biographer thinks that he was obliged, by family circumstances, to leave school before he had made himself complete master of the language.
In Chapel-street, Stratford, as early as 1269, Robert de Stratford built an hospital and a chapel, by permission of the Bishop of Worcester. Here a guild was instituted, of which the founder was the first master. Henry IV. conferred letters-patent upon it, and granted the members power to constitute a fraternity or guild, in honour of the Holy Cross and John the Baptist; and to provide two priests for the purpose of celebrating divine service. Thomas Jolyffe, a priest of this guild, and a native of the town, endowed it with certain lands and tenements in 1482, for the purpose of maintaining "a priest fit and able in knowledge to teach grammar freely to all scholars coming to the school.” This was the origin of the grammar-school, which, with the guild, fell into the hands of Bing Henry VIII., when he suppressed so many religious establishments. His son and successor, however, Edward VI., in the seventh year of his reign, restored the property to the corporation of Stratford, for charitable and educational purposes. At the same time, he granted, as we have already stated, a charter of incorporation to the inhabitante ; one clause of which provides, that “the free grammar-school, for the instruction and education of boys and youth, should be thereafter kept up and maintained as theretofore it used to be.” The qualifications necessary to entitle a boy to admission were, that he should be a resident in the town, seven years old, and able to read. This school is still maintained; and its income from the estates settled by Thomas Jolyffe, is upwards of £700 per annum. It is, as we read in a modern typographical work, “An ancient roo n, over the old town-ball of Stratford—both, no doubt, offices of the ancient guild. We enter from the street into a court, of which one side is formed by the chapel of the Holy Cross. Opposite the chapel is a staircase ; ascending which, we are in a plain room with a ceiling. But it is evident that this work of plaster is modern, and that, above it, we have the oak roof of the sixteenth century. In this room were a few forms, and a rude antique desk ;" [which are now removed; and the school-room having been recently repaired, the antique appearance is gone. The desk, said to have been Shakespeare's, is now kept locked up). “It appears that the chapel of the guild was also used as a school-room. This chapel" [built by Sir Hugh Clopton, to whom the inhabitants were indebted for the bridge, on the site of the old one, which he pulled down], "is, in greater part, a very perfect specimen of the plainer ecclesiastical architecture of the reign of Henry VII.—a building of just proportions and some ornament, but not running into elaborate decoration. The interior now presents nothing very remarkable. But, upon a general repair of the chapel, in 1804, beneath the whitewash of successive generations, was discovered a series of most remarkable paintings—some in that portion of the building erected by Sir Hugh Clopton, and others in the far more ancient chancel. If this was the schoolroom of William Shakespeare, those rude paintings must have produced a powerful effect upon his imagination. Many of them in the ancient chancel constituted a pictorial romance—the History of the Holy Cross from its origin, as a tree at the creation of the world, to its rescue from the Pagan Cosroe, King of Persia, by the Christian emperor, Heraclius; and its final exaltation at Jerusalem—the anniversary of which event was celebrated at Stratford, at its annual fair, held on the 14th of September.” The festival of the Holy Cross was instituted by the Roman Catholics, to commemorate the defeat of Cosroe, and the recovery of the holy relic; and though discountenanced by the divines of the Reformation, it is probable that the pictures alluded to were not covered over in Shakespeare's time; and we agree that those works of art, however rude—and those in the other parts of the chapel, which represented the Resurrection and the Day of Judgment, the Combat between George and the Dragon, and the Death of Becket-must have exercised a great interest over the poet. It was found impossible to preserve many of the paintings on the walls; but at the time of the discovery, Thomas Fisher, Esq., of Hoxton, was on a visit to Stratford, and through his zeal for antiquities, accurate drawings were made of these curious remains of antique art.
Not only had Stratford its grammar-school, but it boasted also, in Shakespeare's time, its chantry college, founded A.D. 1193, by John de Stratford, Bishop of Winchester, and afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. The original foundation was for a warden, four priests, three clerks, and four choristers, who were to celebrate divine service at the altar of St. Thomas, in the south aisle (which was built by the founder of the college) of the parish church of the Holy Trinity. In 1534, the estates with which this college was endowed were of the value of £127 178. 3d. In 1550, it was granted to John Dudley, Earl of Warwick; and in 1799 it was entirely taken down.
four pri St. Thomas, the Holy Trip
We have seen that Shakespeare married at an early age,* and soon after he went to London, to return—under whatever circumstances he left Stratford-one of the most famous men of his day, and enabled to purchase property of considerable value in the town and its vicinity. One of these purchases was a house on the north of the then modern chapel of the guild of the Holy Cross, which was also built by Sir Hugh Clopton, and called by him, in his will, “ the Great House,” it being, probably, the best house in the town. The property passed from the Cloptons into the bands of the Underwood family, and from William Underwood it was purchased, in 1597, by Shakespeare, for £60. It is described in the conveyance as consisting of “one messuage, two barns, two gardens, and their appurtenances.” The poet repaired the house, and remodelled it to suit bis own ideas, laying out the gardens on a new plan, and, according to tradition, planting a mulberry-tree with his own hand, which subsequently flourished with remarkable vigour. It is also said by most biographers of the poet, and it is the general opinion in Stratford, that he changed the name from “the Great House,” to “ New Place.” Malone, however, professes to have found documents of as early a date as 1565, in which it was called by that name. Here Shakespeare dwelt with his family. “Many authors have attempted to picture him in his pleasant retirement; but the fact is, that no chronicles exist on the subject, and very little is known. He might feel himself, indeed, different to, and above the comprehension of the world in poetical things; but he had to live and endure, like the general mass of mankind.”+ There is no reason to suppose that his life was an unhappy one; and may we not fancy, that he who could so well depict all the kindred and domestic feelings of the human heart, both diffused the genial influence of love and affection around him, and experienced their influence in his intercourse with his family and friends : it would be melancholy indeed to imagine any other result.
In New Place Shakespeare lived when at Stratford, and there he died. There “the last accents faltered on his tongue," and he breathed his last breath surrounded by his family, being buried in the chancel of the parish church two days after his death. By his will, he gave New Place, and certain lands in the parish of Stratford, which he had purchased of William and John Combe, in 1602, to his daughter, Mrs. Hall, for her life, and then to her daughter Elizabeth, afterwards Lady Barnard. Mrs. Hall resided there; and in 1643, when Queen Henrietta Maria entered Stratford from Newark, at the head of several thousand men, Shakespeare's daughter loyally entertained her majesty, who held her court at the deceased poet's house from the 16th of June till the 13th of July, when she went to Edgehill to meet the king, whom she accompanied to Oxford. On the death of Mrs. Hall, her daughter, Lady Barnard, succeeded to the property; which, after her death, was sold by her surviving trustees, with some land (107 acres, in Stratford field), in 1675, to Sir Edward Walker, Knight, whose only daughter married Sir John Clopton, of Clopton, and thus conveyed to him the whole of her paternal property. By this gentleman New Place was thoroughly repaired and beautified; and here, in 1742, his son, Sir Hugh Clopton, entertained Mr. Garrick, Mr. Macklin, and others, under the famed mulberry-tree, then standing in the garden.
Sir Hugh Clopton died in 1751, and in 1753 New Place was sold to the Rev. F. Gastrell, vicar of Frodsham, a clergyman, writes Malone, of large fortune. He took up his residence there; but, according to that biographer, soon left, “in consequence of a * See yol. 1., p. is.
+ Lees' Stratford as connected with Shakespeare.
Cisagreement - the irraarts of Stratford." The disagreement arose out of the 233ennest for poor-rates, vt, a be resided part of the year at Lichfield, be thought shou'd uk beseried bir for the entire twe're months. As he left servants in porsension, the magistrates decided against bim. And baring, in 1756, cut down the mulberry-tree, because it led to so many inquiries, and requests to be permitted to see it in the sear 1759, Le ordered the house to be pulled down, and sold the materials: nothing, therefore, t.ow remains of the mansion where Shakespeare lived for the latter years of his life. When this gentleman had the mulberry-tree cut down, he ordered it to be sold for firewood; very little of it, bowever, came to that ignominious fate. The bulk of the wood was parchased by Mr. Thomas Sharpe, of Stratford, watch and clock maker; who worked it into curious toys and useful articles. Mr. 0. Hurst, of Stratford, has now a very valuable table in his possession, made from the wood. The inhabitants of Stratford were very indignant at the destruction of this venerated tree; and Mr. Wheler informs us, that he had beard his father say, that “he assisted, when a boy, out of revenge, in breaking the reverend destroyer's windows."* Mrs. Gastrell was a sister of one of Dr. Johnson's friends and correspondents, Mrs. Aston. After the death of Mr. Gastrell, bis widow resided at Lichfield; and there, the Doctor, with Boswell, dined with the sisters. In noting down the occurrence, and commenting upon it, as was his wont, Boswell remarks—“I was not informed till afterwards, that Mrs. Gastrell's husband was the clergyman who, while he lived at Stratford-upon. Avon, with Gothic barbarity cut down Shakespeare's mulberry-tree, and, as Dr. Johnson told us, did it to vex his neighbours. His lady, I have reason to believe, on the same authority, participated in the guilt of what the enthusiasts of our immortal bard consider a species of sacrilege.” The Shakespeare Hotel stands near the site of New Place; and part of the garden and grounds of the latter now form the bowling-green of that place of public entertainment. In the centre of the green is a fine mulberry-tree, which is very rich in foliage during the summer, and is said to have been produced from a scion of Shakespeare's own tree. This green “is irresistible to every one, and deserves a visit, as on the site of New Place; and there are, besides, several architectural relics of pinnacles, &c., from the church, strewed around, inviting thought and observation.”+
Opposite the site of New Place is a house, evidently as ancient as the time of the poet. It is now a public-house, having for its sign the Falcon, Shakespeare's crest-no doubt adopted in compliment to him.
Having seen where Shakespeare was born, where he was educated, and where he lived, when at Stratford, we must now visit the place of his interment; and no poet has a more appropriate one. We give a view of the sacred edifice, embowered with woods, and its quiet serenity must strike the most careless observer. The church is approached by a thickly-arched avenue of limes; and it is, says Washington Irving, “a large and venerable pile, mouldering with age, but richly ornamented. It stands on the banks of the river, on an embowered point”—as represented in our view—"and separated by adjoining gardens from the suburbs of the town. The situation is quiet and retired: the river runs murmuring at the foot of the churchyard, and the elms which grow upon its banks drop their branches into its clear bosom. The * History of Stratford.
† Lees' Stratford as connected with Shakespeare,