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adduce the following passages from the works of our Dramatist, which seem to imply a more than theoretic intimacy with his father's business. In the Winter's Tale, the Clown exclaims,
"Let me see:-Every 'leven wether--tods; every tod yield-ound and odd shilling: fifteen buadred shorn-What comes the wool to? ”
Act I, Scene 2. Upon this passage Dr. Farmer remarks, “ that to tod is used as a verb by dealers in wool; thus, they say, “Twenty sheep ought to tod fisty pounds of wool,' etc. The meaning, therefore, of the Clown's words is, “Every eleven wether tods; i. e. will produce a tod, or twenty-eight pounds of wool; every tod yields a pound and some odd shillings; what then will the wool of fifteen hundred yield ?'”
“The occupation of his father,” subjoins Mr. Malone, “furnished our poet with accurate knowledge on this subject; for two pounds and a half of wool is, I am told, a very good produce from a sheep at the time of shearing.”
“Every 'leven wether-tods,” adds Mr. Ritson, “ has been rightly expounded to mean that the wool of eleven sheep would weigh a tod, or 28lb. Each fleece would, therefore, be 21b. 8oz. 11 dr., and the whole produce of fifteen hundred shorn 136 tod, 1 clove, 2/b. 6oz. 2dr. which at pound and odd shilling per tod, would yield 1431. 38. Od. Our author was too familiar with the subject to be suspected of inaccuracy.
“ Indeed it appears from Stafford's “ Breefe Conceipte of English Pollicye,” 1518, p. 16, that the price of a tod of wool was at that period twenty or two-andtwenty shillings: so that the medium price was exactly .pound and odd shilling.'” In Hamlet, the prince justly observes,
There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Act V. Scene 2. Lines, of which the words in italics were considered by Dr. Farmer as merely technical. “A woolman, butcher, and dealer in skewers," says Mr. Steevens, " lately observed to him (Dr. F)., that his nephew, an idle lad, could only assist him in making them; he could roughhew them, but I was obliged to shape their ends.' To shape the ends of wool-skewers, i. e. to point them, requires a degree of skill; any one can roughhew them. Whoever recollects the profession of Shakspeare's father, will admit that his son might be no stranger to such terms. I have frequently seen packages of wool pinned up with skewers." +
We may, therefore, after duly considering all the evidence that can now be obtained, pretty confidently acquiesce in the traditional account that Shakspeare was, for a time, and that immediately on his being taken from the free-school, the assistant of his father in the wool-trade; but it will be necessary here to mention, that Aubrey, on whose authority it has been related that John Shakspeare was, at one period of his life, a butcher, adds, with regard to our poet, that “when he was a boy, he exercised his father's trade;" and that “when he killed a calf, he would do it in a high style, and make a speech." # That John Shakspeare, when under the pressure of adversity, might combine the two employments, which are, in a certain degree, connected with each other, we have already recorded as probable; it is very possible, also, that the following similes may have been suggested to the son, by what he had occasionally observed at home:
And as the butcher takes away the calf,
• Reed's Shakspeare, vol. ix. p. 322, 323.
+ Ibid. vol. xviii. p. 346, 347.
And as the dam runs lowing up and down,
Henry IV. Part II. Act III. sc. I. but that the father of our poet, the former bailiff of Stratford, should employ his children, instead of servants, in the slaughter of his cattle, is a position so revolting, so unnecessarily degrading on the part of the father, and, at the same time, must have been so discordant with the well-known humane and gentle cast of the poet's disposition, that we cannot, for a moment, allow ourselves to conceive that any credibility can be attached to such a report.
At what age he began to assist his father in the wool-trade, cannot now be positively ascertained; but as he was early taken from school, for this purpose, we shall probably not err far, if we suppose this change to have taken place when he was twelve years old ; a computation which includes a period of scholastic education sufficiently long to have imbued him with just such a portion of classical lore, as an impartial enquirer into his life and works would be willing to admit.
A short time previous to this, when our poet was in his twelfth year, and in the summer of 1575, an event occurred which must have made a great impression on his mind; the visit of Queen Elizabeth to the magnificent Earl of Leicester, at Kenelworth Castle. That young Shaskpeare was a spectator of the festivities on this occasion, was first suggested by Bishop Percy, * who, in his Essay on the Origin of the English Stage, speaking of the old Coventry play of Hock Tuesday, which was performed before Her Majesty during her residence at the castle, observes.
“ Whatever this old play, or “storial show,' was al the time it was exhibited 10 Queen Elizabeth, it had probably our young Shakspeare for a specialor, who was then in his lwelfth year, and doubtless altended with all the inhabilants of the surrounding country al these
Princely Pleasures of Kenelworth,'t whence Stratford is only a few miles distant. And as the Queen was much diverled with the Coventry play, whereat Her Majestic laught well,' and rewarded the performers with two bucks, and live marks in money: who, what rejoicing upon their ample reward, and what triumphing upon the good acceptance, vaunled their play was never so dignified, nor ever any players before so beatified:' but especially if our young Barat afterwards gained admillance into the castle to see a play, which the same evening, after supper, was there presented of a very good theme, but so set forth by the actors' well-handling, that pleasure and mirth made it seem very short, though it lasted (wo good hours and more,' we may imagine what an impression was made on his infant mind. Indeed the dramatic cast of many parts of that superb entertainment, which continued nineteen days, and was the most splendid of the kind ever attempted in this kingdom, must have had a very great effect on a young imagination, whose dramatic powers were hereafter lo astonish the world.” #
of the gorgeous splendour and elaborate pageantry which were displayed during this princely fete at Kenelworth, some idea may be formed from the following summary. The Earl met the Queen on Saturday the 9th of July, 1575, at Long Ichington, a town seven miles from Kenelworth, where His Lordship had erected a tent, for the purpose of banqueting Her Majesty, upon such a magnificent scale, " that justly for dignity," says Laneham, “ may be comparable with a beautiful palace; and for greatness and quantity, with a proper town, or rather a citadel ;" and to give his readers an adequate conception of its magnitude, he adds that "it had seven cart load of pins pertaining to it."S At the first entrance of the Queen into His Lordship's castle a floating island was discerned upon the pool, glittering with torches, on which sat the Lady of the Lake, attended by two nymphs, who addressed Her Majesty in verse, with an historical account of the antiquity and owners of the castle; and the speech was closed with the sound of cornets, and
* Mr Malone is also of opinion that Shakspeare was present at this magnificent reception of Elizabeth. Vide“ Inquiry,” p. 150, note 82.
+ So denominated from a tract, written by George Gascoigne, Esq., entitled " The Princely Pleasures of Kenelworth Castle.” It is inserted in Nichol's Progresses of Queen Elizabeth, vol. i.
Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, vol. i. p. 143. 4th edition.
Nichols's Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth, vol. i. Laneham's Account of the Queen's Entertainment at Killingworth Castle, 1575, p. 50, or 78 of the original pamphlet.
other instruments of loud music. Within the base-court was erected a stately bridge, twenty feet wide, and seventy feet long, over which the Queen was to pass; and on each side stood columns, with presents upon them to Her Majesty from the gods. Silvanus offered a cage of wild-fowl, and Pomona various sorts of fruits ; Ceres gave corn, and Bacchus wine; Neptune presented sea-fish; Mars the habiliments of war; and Phæbus all kinds of musical instruments. During the rest of her stay, varieties of sports and shows were daily exhibited. In the chase was a savage-man clad in ivy accompanied by satyrs; there were bear-baitings and
a fire-works, Italian tumblers, and a country brideale, running at the Quintain, and Morrice-dancing. And, that no sort of diversion might be omitted, hither came the Coventry-men and acted the old play already mentioned, called Hock Tuesday, a kind of tilting match, representing, in dumb show, the defeat of the Danes by the English, in the reign of King Ethelred. There were besides on the pool, a Triton riding on a Mermaid eighteen feet long, and Arion upon a Dolphin. To grace the entertainment, the Queen here knighted Sir Thomas Cecil, eldest son to the lord treasurer ; Sir Henry Cobham, brother to the Lord Cobham; Sir Francis Stanhope, and Sir Thomas Tresham. An estimate may be formed of the expense from the quantity of ordinary beer that was drank upon this occasion, which amounted to three hundred and twenty hogsheads.*
To the ardent and opening mind of our youthful Bard what exquisite delight must this grand festival have imparted, the splendour of which, as Bishop Hurd remarks, “ claims a remembrance even in the annals of our country.”* A considerable portion of the very mythology which he had just been studying at school, was here brought before his eyes, of which the costume and language were under the direction of the first poets of the age ; and the dramatic cast of the whole pageantry, whether classical or Gothic, was such as probably to impress his glowing imagination with that bias for theatrical amusements, which afterwards proved the basis of his own glory, and of his country's poetic fame.
Here, could he revisit the glimpses of the day, how justly might he deplore, in his own inimitable language, the havoc of time, and the mutability of human grandeur; of this princely castle, once the seat of feudal hospitality, of revelry and song, and of which Laneham, in his quaint style and orthography, has observed, “Who that considers untoo the stately seat of Kenelworth Castl, the rare beauty of bilding that His Honor hath avaunced; all of the hard quarry-stone : every room so spacious, so well belighted, and so hy roofed within ; so seemly too sight, by du proportion without; a day tyme, on every side so glittering by glasse; a night, by continuall brightnesse of candel, fyre, and torch-light, transparent thro the lyghtsome wyndow, as it wear the Egiptian Pharos relucent untoo all the Alexandrian coast : or els (too talke merily with my mery freend) thus radiant, as thoogh Phæbus for hiz eaz woold rest him in the Castl, and not every night so to travel doown untoo the Antipodes ; heertoo so fully furnisht of rich apparell and ustensilez apted in all points to the best ;” # of this vast pile the very ruins are now so reduced, that the grand gateway, and the banquetting hall, eighty-six feet in length, and forty-five in width, are the only important remains. S
* Life of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, 1727. 8vo. p 92.
The following extract from Laneham's Letter, which immediately follows the passage given in the text, and in which I have dropped the author's singular orthography: will afford the reader a curious and very entertaining description of the costly and magnificent gardens of Kenelworth Castle, gardens in which it is probable the youthful Shakspeare had more than once wandered with delight :
"Unto this, His Honour's exquisite appointment of a beautiful garden, an acre or more of quantity, that lieth on the north there: wherein hard all along the castle-wall is reared a pleasant terrace of a ten foot bigh, and a twelve broad: even under foot, and fresh of fine grass; as is also the side thereof toward the garden, in which, by sundry equal distances, with obelisks, spheres, and white bears, all of stone, upon their curious bases, by goodly shew were set: to these two fine arbours redolent by sweet trees and flowers, at each end one, the garden plot under that, with fair allies green by grass, even voided from the borders a both sides, and some (for change) with sand, not light or too soft or soily by dust, but smooth and firm, pleasant to walk on, as a sea-shore when the water is availd: then, much gracified hy due proportion of four even quarters: in the midst of each, upon a base a iwo foot square, and high, seemly
If Shakspeare were taken as early from school as we have supposed, and his slender attainments in latinity strongly warrant the supposition, it is more than probable, building on the traditional hint in Rowe, of his aid being wanted at home,* that he continued to assist his father in the wool-trade for some years; that is, in all likelihood, until his sixteenth or eighteenth year. Mr. Malone, however, pot adverting to this tradition, has, in a note to Rowe's Life, declared his belief, “that, on leaving school, Shakspeare was placed in the office of some country attorney, or the seneschal of some manor court :” † a position which we think im
bordered of itself, a square pilaster rising pyramidally of a fisteeen foot high: simmetrically pierced through from a foot beneath, until a two foot of ihe top: whereupon for a capital, an orb of a ten inches thick: every of these (with his base) from the ground to the top, of one whole piece ; hewn out of hard porphery, and with great art and heed (thinks me) thither conveyed and there erected. Where, further also, by great cast and cost, the sweetness of savour on all sides, made so repirant from the redolent plants and fragrant herbs and flowers, in form, colour, and quantity so deliciously variant; and fruit-trees bedecked with apples, pears, and ripe cherries.
« And unto these, in the midst against the terrace, a square cage, sumptuous and beautiful, joined hard to the north wall (that a that side gards the garden as the garden the castle), of a rare form and excellency, was raised : in height a twenty foot, thirty long, and a fourteen broad. From the ground strong and close, reared breast high, whereat a soil of a fair moulding was couched all about: from that upward, four great windows a front, and two at each end, every one a five foot wide, as many more even above them divided
parts by a transome and architrave, so likewise ranging about the cage. Each window arched in the top, and parted from other in even distance by flat fair bolted columns, all in form and beauty like, that supported a comely cornish couched all along upon the bole square; which with a wire net, finely knit, of mashes six square, an inch wide (as it were for a flat roof) and likewise the space of every window with great cunning and comeliness, even and tight was all over-strained. Under the cornish again, every part beautified with great diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires ;, pointed, tabled, rok and round; garnished with their gold, by skilful head and hand, and by toil and pencil so lively expressed, as it mnought be great marvel and pleasure to consider how near excellency of art could approach unto perfection of nature.
“ Holes were there also and caverns in orderly distance and fashion, voided into the wall, as well for heat, for coolness, for roost a nights and refuge in weather, as also for breeding when time is. More, fair even and fresh holly-trees for pearching and proining, set within, toward each and one.
“ Hereto, their diversity of incats, their fine several vessels for their water and sundry grains; and a man skilful and diligent to look to them and tend them.
" But (shall I tell you) the silver sounded lute, without the sweet touch of hand; the glorious golden cup, without the fresh fragrant wine; or the rich ring with gem, without the fair featured finger; is uothing indeed in his proper grace and use : even so Flis
Honour accounted of this mansion, till he had placed their tenants according. Had it therefore replenished with lively birds, English, French, Spanish, Canarian, and (I am deceived if I saw not some) African. Whereby, whether it became more delightsomo in change of tunes, and harmony to the ear; or else in difference of colours, kinds, and properties to the eye, I'll tell you if I can, when I have better bethought me.
• In the centre (as it were) of this goodly garden, was there placed a very fair fountain, cast into an eight-square, reared a four foot high; from the midst whereof a column up set in shape of iwo Athlants joined together a back half; the one looking east, tother west, with their hands upholding a fair formed bowl of a three foot over ; from whence sundry fine pipes did lively distill continual streams into the re. ceipt of the fountain, maintained still two fool deep by the same fresh falling water : wherein pleasantly playing to and fro, and round about, carp, tench, bream, and for variety, perch, and eel, fish fair-liking all, and large : In the top, the ragged staff; which with the bowl, the pillar, and eight sides beneath, were all hewn out of rich and hard white marble. A one side Neptune with his tridental fuskin triumphing in his throne, trailed into the deep by his marine horses. On another, Thetis in her chariot drawn by her dolphins. Then Triton by his fishes. Here Proteus herding his sea-bulls. There Doris and her daughters solacing a sea and sands. The waves scourging with froth and foain, intermingled in place, with whales, whirlpools, sturgeons, tunnies, conchs, and wealks, all engraven by exquisiie device and skill, so as I may think this not much inferior unto Phæbus gates, which (Ovid says) and peradventure a pattern to this, that Vulcan himself did cut: whereof such was the excellency of art, that the work in value surmounted the stuff, and yet were the gates all of clean massy silver.
" Here were things, ye see, mought iflame any mind to long after looking ; but whoso was found so hot in desire, with the wreast of a cok was sure of a cooler: water spurting upward with such vehemency, as they should by and by be moistened from top to toe; the he's to some laughing, but the shie's to more sport. This some time was occupied to very good pastime.
A garden then so appointed, as wherein aloft upon sweet shawdowed walk of terrace, in heat of summer, to feel the pleasant whisking wind above, or delectable coolness of the fountain spring beneath: to taste of delicious strawberries, cherries and other fruits, even from their stalks : to smell such fragrancy of sweet odours, breathing from the plants, berbs, and flowers: to hear such natural melodious musick and tunes of birds: to have in eye, for mirth, some time these under springing streams; then, the woods, the waters (for both pool and chase were hard at hand in sight), the deer, the people (that out of the east arbour in the base court also at hand in view), the fruits trees, the plants, the herbs, the flowers. the change in colours, the birds flittering, the fountain streaming, the fish swimming, all in such delectable variety, order, dignity; whereby, at one moment, in one place, at hand, without travel, to have so full fruition of so many God's blessings, by entire delight unto all senses (if all can take) at once : for etymon of the word 'worthy to be called Paradise : and though not so goodly as Paradise for want of the fair rivers, yet better a great deal by the lack of so unhappy a tree.” Pages 66–72. Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 59.
+ Ibid. p. 60, note 7.