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scription, as copied by Scot, contributed, no doubt, to prolong the public credulity in this kingdom ; though the English philosopher attempts to explain the phenomenon by supposing that actual flame was concentrated and burning in the centre of the gem.
“ Johannes Fernelius writelh of a strange stope latelie brought out of India, which halh in it such a marvellous brightness, puritie, and shining, that therewith the aire round about is so lightened and cleared, that one may see to read thereby in the darkness of night. It will not be conteined in a close roome, but requirelh an open and free place. It would not willingly rest or staie here belowe on the earth, but alwaies laboureth lo ascend up into the aire. If one presse it downe wild bis band, it resisteth, and striveth verie sharplie. It is so beautiful to behold, without either spol or blemish, and yet verie unpleasant lo lasle or feele. If any part thereof be taken awaie, it is never a whit diminished, the forme thereof being inconstant, and at everie moment mutable.” *
The carbuncle was believed to be an animal substance generated in the body of a serpent, to possess a sexual distinction, the males having a star-formed burning nucleus, while the females dispersed their brilliancy on all sides in a formless blaze; and, like other transparent gems, to have the power of expelling evil spirits.
While on the subject of superstitious notions relative to luminous bodies, we may remark, that in the age of Shakspeare, the wandering lights, termed Will-o-wisp and Jack-o-lantern, were supposed by the common people to be occasioned by demons and malignant fairies, with the view of leading the benighted traveller to his destruction.
“Many lymes,” says Lavalerus, “ candles and small fiers appeare in the night, and seeme to run up and downe ;- those fiers some time seeme to come logither, and by and by to be severed and run abroade, and at the last to vanish clean away. Sometime these fiers go alone in the night season, and put such as see them, as they travel by night, in great fear. But these things, and many such lyke, have their natural causes : and yet I will not denye, but that many lymes Dyvels delude men in tbis manner." +
Stephano, in the Tempest, attributes this phenomenon to the agency of a mischievous fairy; “Monster, your fairy, which, you say, is a harmless fairy, has done little better than played the Jack with us.”-Act. iv. sc. I.
Various causes have been assigned for the appearance of the ignis fatuus; modern chemistry asserts it to be occasioned by hydrogen gas, evolving from decaying vegetables, and the decomposition of pyritic coal; and when seen hovering on the surface of burial grounds, to originate from the same gas in a higher state of volatility, through the agency of phosphoric impregnation.
The partial view which we have now taken of the superstitions of the country, as they existed in the age of Shakspeare, will, in part, demonstrate how great was the credulity subsisting at this period; how well calculated were many of these popular delusions for the purposes of the dramatic writer, and how copiously and skilfully have these been moulded and employed by the great poet of our stage. A considerable portion also of the manners, customs, and diversions of the country, which had been necessarily omitted in the preceding chapters, will be found included in this sketch of a part of the popular creed, and will contribute to heighten the effect of a picture, which can only receive its completion through the mutual aid of various subsequent depart ments of the present work.
* Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 306
Biography of Shakspeare resumed_His Irregularities–Deer-stealing in Sir Thomas Lucy's Par
-Account of the Lucy family-Daisy-hill, the keeper's Lodge, where Shakspeare was confined, on the Charge of stealing Deer-Shakspeare's Revenge-Ballad on Lucy-Severe Prosecution by Sir Thomas-never forgotten by Shakspeare-this Cause, and probably also Debt, as his Father was now in reduced Circumstances, induced him to leave the Country for London about 1586_Remarks on this Removal.
AFTER the slight sketch of rural life which we have just given ; of its manners, customs, diversions, and superstitions, as they existed during the latter part of the sixteenth century, we shall now proceed with the biographical narrative of our author, resuming it from the close of the fourth chapter.
To regulate the workings of an ardent imagination, and to control the effervescence of the passions in early life, experience has uniformly taught us to consider as a task of great difficulty; and seldom, indeed, capable of being achieved without the advice and direction of those, who, under the guidance of similar admonition, have successfully borne up against the numerous temptations to which human frailty is subjected. That Shakspeare possessed powers of fancy greatly beyond the common lot of humanity, and that with these is almost constantly connected a correspondent fervency of temperament and passion, will not probably be denied ; and if it be recollected that the poet became the arbitrator of his own conduct at the early age of eighteen, not much wonder will be excited, although he was a married man, and a father, if we have to record some juvenile irregularities. Tradition affirms, and the report has been repeated by Mr. Rowe, that he had the misfortune, shortly after his settlement in Stratford, to form an intimacy with some young men of thoughtless and dissipated character, who, among other illegalities, had been in the habit of deer-stealing, and by whom, more than once, he was induced, under the idea of a frolic, to join in their reprehensible practice.
The scene of depredation when Shakspeare and his companions were detected, was Fulbroke Park, at that time belonging to Sir Thomas Lucy, knight. This gentleman, who has obtained celebrity principally, if not solely, as the prosecutor of Shakspeare, was descended from a family, whose pedigree has been deduced, by Dugdale, from the reign of Richard the First; the name of Lucy, however, was not assumed by his ancestors until the thirty-fourth of Henry the Third. Sir Thomas, in the first year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, built a noble mansion at Charlcott, near Stratford, but on the opposite side of the Avon; this edifice, which still exists, is constructed of brick with stone coins, and though somewhat modernized, still preserves, as a whole, its ancient Gothic character, especially the grand front, which exhibits pretty accurately its pristine state. Fuller has recorded Sir Thomas as sheriff for the county of Warwickshire in the tenth year of Elizabeth, and informs us, that his armorial bearings were Gul. Crusulee Or, 3 Picks (or Lucies) Hauriant Ar.*
That the rich woods, sequestered lawns, and romantic recesses of Fulbroke Park, would very frequently attract the footsteps of our youthful bard, independent of any lure which the capture of its game might afford, we may justly surmise; and still more confidently may we allirm, that his meditations or diversions in this forest laid the foundation of a part of the beautiful scenery which occurs in As You Like it. The woodland pictures in this delightful play are faithful transcripts of what he had felt and seen in those secluded haunts, particularly the description of the wounded deer, the pathos and accuracy of which are no doubt referrible to the actual contemplation of such an incident, in the shades of Fulbroke; they strikingly prove, indeed, that the habits of the chase, though fostered in the morn of youth, had not, even in respect to the objects of their sport, in the smallest degree impaired the native tenderness and humanity of the poet. The expressions of pity, in fact, for the sufferings of a persecuted animal were never uttered in words more impressive than what the ensuing dialogue exhibits : “Duke. Come, shall we go and kill us venison?| Upon the brook that brawls along this wood : And yet it irks me, the poor dappled fools, - To the which place a poor sequester'd stag, Being native burghers of this desert city, That from the hunter's aim had ta'en a hurt, Should, in their own confines, with forked heads Did come to languish; and, indeed, my lord, Have their round haunches gor'd.
* Fuller's Worthies, part iii. p. 132. The Luce or Pike is very abundant in this part of the Avon, and here may still be seen in the kitchen of Charlcott-house, the representation of a pike, itiging forty pounds, native of this stream, and caught in the year 1640.
The wretched animal heav'd forth such groans, Lord.
Indeed, my lord, That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat The melancholy Jaques grieves at that; Almost to bursting; and the big round tears And, in that kind, swears you do more usurp Cours'd one another down his innocent nose Than doth your brother that hath banish'd you. In piteous chase : and thus the hairy fool, To-day, my lord of Amiens, and myself, Much marked of the melancholy Jaques, Did steal behind him, as he lay along
Stood on the extremest verge of the swift brook, Under an oak, whose antique root peeps out Augmenting it with tears.”
Act i. sc. 2. T'he detection of Shakspeare in his adventurous amusement, was followed, it is said, by confinement for a short time in the keeper's lodge, until the charge had been substantiated against him. A farm-house in the park, situated on a spot called Daisy Hill, is still pointed out as the very building which sheltered the delinquent on this unfortunate occasion.
That Sir Thomas had reason to complain of this violation of his property, and was warranted in taking proper steps to prevent its recurrence, who will deny? and yet it appears from tradition, that a reprimand and public exposure of his conduct constituted all the punishment that was at first inflicted on the oflender. Here the matter would have rested, had not the irritable feelings of our young bard, inflamed by the disgrace which he had suffered, induced him to attempt a retaliation on the magistrate. He had recourse to his talents for satire, and the ballad which he produced for this purpose was probably his earliest effort as a writer.
of this pasquinade, which the poet took care should be affixed to Sir Thomas's park-gates, and extensively circulated through his neighbourhood, three stanzas have been brought forward as genuine fragments. The preservation of the whole would certainly have been a most entertaining curiosity; but even the authenticity of what is said to have been preserved, becomes a subject of interest, when we recollect, that the fate and fortunes of our author hinged upon the consequences of this juvenile production.
The first of these fragments, which is the opening stanza, rests upon testimony of considerable weight and respectability; upon the authority of a Mr. Thomas Jones, who was born about 1613 and resided at Tarbick, a village in Worcestershire, eighteen miles from Stratford, where he died, aged upwards of ninety, in 1703. He is considered by Mr. Malone, as the grandson of a Mr. Thomas Jones, who dwelt in Stratford during the period that Shakspeare was an inhabitant of it, and who had four sons between the years 1581 and 1590, one of whom, settling at Tarbick, became the father of the preserver of the fragment. This venerable old man could remember having heard from several very aged people at Stratford the whole history of the poet's transgression, and could repeat the first stanza of the ballad which he had written in ridicule of Sir Thomas, A friend
Ireland's views on the Aron, p. 154.
of his to whom he was one day repeating this stanza, which was the whole that he could recollect, had the precaution to take a copy of it from his recitation, and the grandson of the person thus favoured, a Mr. Wilkes, presented a transcript of it to Mr. Oldys and Mr. Capell. Among the collections for a “Life of Shakspeare" left by the former of these gentlemen, this stanza was found, "faithfully transcribed," says its possessor, “from the copy which his (Mr. Jones's) relation very courteously communicated to me;" and of Mr. Oldys's veracity it is important to add, that Mr. Steevens considered it as unimpeachable, remarking, at the same time, that “it is not very probable that a ballad should be forged, from which an undiscovered wag could derive no triumph over antiquarian credulity.” It must be confessed that neither the wit nor the poetry of these lines, which we are about to communicate, deserve much praise, and that the greater part of the point, if it can be termed such, depends upon provincial pronunciation ; for in a note on the copy which Mr. Capell possessed, it is said, that “the people of those parts pronounce lowsie like Lucy:" but let us listen to the commencement of this once important libel :
“ A parliamente member, a justice of peace,
At home a poor scare-crow, at London an asse,
He thinks himself greate,
Yet an asse in his state
Sing lowsie Lucy, whatever befall it.” Upon the next fragment of this composition, including two stanzas, an equal degree of confidence cannot be reposed; for it occurs in a mauscript History of the Stage, written between the years 1727 and 1730, in which many falsehoods have been detected ; but still the internal evidence is such as to render its genuineness far from improbable. The narrative of its acquisition informs us that " the learned Mr. Joshua Barnes, late Greek Professor of the University of Cambridge, baiting about forty years ago at an inn in Stratford, and hearing an old woman singing part of the above said song, such was his respect for Mr. Shakspeare's genius, that he gave her a new gown for the two following stanzas in it; and could she have said it all, he would (as he often said in company, when any discourse has casually arose about him) have given her ten guineas:
u Sir Thomas was too covetous
To covet so much deer,
Most plainly did appear.
What then? He had a wife
Should last him during life.” The quibble upon the word deer in these lines strongly tends to authenticate them as a genuine production of our bard; for he has in more places than one of his dramas amused himself with a similar jingle ; thus in the First Part of Henry the Sixth, allowing this play to have issued from his pen, Talbot, encouraging his forces, exclaims
“ Sell every man his life as dear as mine,
And they sball find dear deer of us, my friends;"- Act iv. sc. 2. and again in the First Part of King Henry the Fourth, the Prince, lamenting over Falstaff, says
Death hath not struck so fat a deer to-day,