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the church of Waltham, in the county of Essex. Thomas, her son, died in his infancy, and is
“ Written upon the east ende of this tombe.
“ Written upon the west ende thereof.
Stanley, for whom this stands, shall stand in heaven.'"* It has been well remarked by Mr. Malone, that the fifth and last lines of this epitaph “bear very strong marks of the hand of Shakspeare."
As every circumstance relative to our author is, however minute, possessed of interest, the following particulars and conversation concerning a negociation for the enclosure of some land near Stratford in 1614, and which were first communicated to the public by Mr. Wheler, shall be given in that gentleman's own words.
“ About the year 1614,” he relates, “There was an intentention of inclosing Welcombe field, in this parish, where part of Shakspeare's landed properly lay, which he had purchased in 1602 of William and John Combe, and over which field the tithes extended, of which he purchased a moiely in 1605. Shakspeare was therefore doubly interested in this inclosure; and from some memorandums of notes commenced in London, but concluded at Stratford, by Thomas Green, Esq. (the owner of part of the lithes, perhaps the other moiety), a relation of Shakspeare's—lho following particulars of his conversation with Shakspeare are extracted.
* Rec. 16. No. 1614, at 4 o'clock afr. noon, a Lre. from Mr. Bayly, and Mr. Alderman, (the Bailif fand chief Alderman of Stratford-upon-Avon), dated 12. No. 1614, louchyng the inclosure busynes.'
Jovis 17. No. (1614) My Cosen Shakspeare comyng yesterday to town, I went to see him how he did. He told me that they (the parties wishing to inclose) assured him they ment to inclose no further than to Gospel bush, and so upp straight (leaving out pt. of the Dyngles lo the field), to the gale in Cloplon hedg and take in Salisbury's peece; and that they mean in Aprill to svey. the land and then to gyve satisfaccion and nol before: and he and Mr. Hall, (Shakspeare's son-in-law, probably present) say they think yr. (there) will be nothyng done al all.'
" Mr. Green, (the common clerk to this corporation, who were adverse to the inclosure) returned to Stratford at the latter end of November, or beginning of December, 1614, and continued his notes until the 23 of December ; upon which day it appears that letters were written by the corporation to Shakspeare and to Mr. Manwaring, (another proprietor, resident
“Preserved,” says Mr, Malone, “in a collection of Epitaphs, at the end of the Visitation of Salop, taken by Sir William Duydale in the year 1664, now remaining in the College of Arms, chap. xxxv. fol 20.; a transcript of which Sir Isaac Heard, Garter principal King at Arms, has obligingly transmitted to me."
The other epitaph alluded to in the text, is from “a Manuscript volume of Poems by William Herrick and others, in the hand-writing of the time of Charles I., among Rawlinson's Collections in the Bodleian Library.
He liv'd a godly life, and dyde as well. W». SaaksPEARE.'" It appears from Mr. Malone's researches, that the James's were a family living at Stratford both during and after our poet's time,
in London), both of whom secm to have been desirous of inclosing. Mr. Green's memorandum, as far as it can be transcribed, being almost illegible and the paper somewhat damaged, is as follows:
“*23. Dec. (1614.) a Hall. Lres. wrylten, one to Mr. Manyring—another lo Mr. Shakspeare, with almost all the company's hands to eyther. I also wrylle myself to my Csn. (Cousin) Shakspear, the coppyes of all our
then also a nole of the inconvenyences wold by the inclosure.'
" From a copy of the corporation's letter to “ Arthur Mannering, Esq.'(then residing at the Lord Chancellor's house, perhaps in some oflicial capacity) as noticed by Green to have been written on the 23d of December, 1614, it appears that he was apprized of the injury to be expected from the intended inclosure; reminded of the damage that Sıralford, then lying in the ashes of desolation,' had sustained from recent fires ; and entreated to forbear the inclosure. The letter written to Shakspeare, the author has not been sufficiently fortunate to discover; but it was probably to the same effect. A petition was presented from the corporation to the Lords of the Privy Council, requesting their injunction to William Combe, Esq. of Stratford College, then High Sheriff of this County; who, being proprietor of considerable estales at Welcombe, was desirous of an inclosure. Nothing, however, was done, as Shakspeare had surmised; and the fields remained open until the year 1774.”
Early in 1616 our poet married his youngest daughter Judith to Mr. Thomas Quiney, a vintner in Stratford. The ceremony took place on February the 10th, 1616, the bridegroom being four years older than the bride, who had, however, completed her thirty-second year.
The daughters of Shakspeare appear to have been, like those of Milton, ignorant of the art of writing ; Judith, at least, in attesting a deed still extant, being under the necessity of making her mark, which is accompanied by the explanatory appendage of " Signum Judeth Shakspeare”+ The omission, however, is less extraordinary in the days of Shakspeare than in those of bis great successor; the education of women, during the reigns of Elizabeth and James, being in general calculated, with a few splendid exceptions, principally in the upper classes of society, for the discharge of mere domestic duties; and when, to be able to read was considered as a very distinguishing compliment.
The fruit of this marriage was three sons, Shakspeare, Richard, and Thomas Quiney; the first dying in his infancy, the second in his twenty-first year, and the third in his twentieth year; so that, as Elizabeth, the daughter of Susanna, by Dr. Hall, had no issue by her two husbands, Thomas Nash, Esq. and Sir John Barnard, she proved the last lineal descendant of her grandfather.
It was very shortly after the marriage of Judith, that our author, being in perfect health and memory, deemed it necessary to make his Will; a document which appears to have been drawn up on the 25th of February, 1616, though not executed until the 25th of the following month.
That the event, for which this was a proper preparatory act, should have so rapidly followed, could be little in the contemplation of one who had not reached his fifty-second year, and who, according to his own account, was in perfect health and memory. Yet we may venture to infer, from what tradition has left us of his life and character, that few were better prepared for the transition, that few could be found, over whom, when the event had occurred, with more justice might it be said,
“After lise's fitful fever, he sleeps well!"
* Wheler's Guide to Stratford, p. 22–25.
+ Vide Wheler's Guide, p. 21. † “ February," says Mr. Malone, was first written, and afterwards struck out, and March written, over it."
The Death of Shakspeare Observations on bis Will — On the Disposition and Moral Character
of Shakspeare -On the Monument erected to his Memory, and on the Engraving of him pre fixed to the first Folio Edition of bis Plays — Conclusion.
The death of Shakspeare, of which the closing paragraph of the last chapter had afforded us an intimation, took place on Tuesday, the 23d of April, 1616, on his birth-day, and when he had exactly completed his fifty-second year. It is remarkable, that on the same day expired, in Spain, his great and amiable contemporary, Cervantes; the world being thus deprived, nearly at the same moment, of the two most original writers which modern Europe has produced.
That not the smallest account of the disease which terminated so valuable a life, should have been transmitted to posterity, is perhaps equally singular; and the more so, as our poet was, no doubt, attended by his son-in-law, Dr. Hall, who was then forty years of age ; and who should have recollected, that the circumstances which led to the dissolution of such a man, had, whether professionally important or not, a claim to preservation and publicity. But the age was a most incurious one, as to the personal history of literary men; and Hall, who left for publication a manuscript collection of cases, selected from not less than a thousand diseases, has omitted the only one which could have secured to his work any permanent interest or value.
On the second day after his decease, the remains of Shakspeare were committed to the grave; being buried on the 25th of April, on the north side of the chancel of the great church of Stratford.
Fortunately, some light has been thrown upon the domestic circumstances of the poet, by the preservation of his Will, yet extant in the Prerogative Court, and which, though often published, we have again introduced, as a necessary appendage to our work.
The most striking features in this document, are the apparent neglect of his wife, and the favouritism exhibited with regard to his eldest daughter. Mrs. Shakspeare, indeed, was so entirely forgotten in the original Will, that the only bequest which her husband makes her, of his “ second best bed, with the furniture,” is introduced by an interlineation.
This omission, and the trisling nature of the legacy, have given birth to some conjectures on the part of his biographers and commentators. Oldys, misapplying the language of one of his sonnets, has hinted, that the poet entertained some doubts as to the fidelity of his beautiful wise; an intimation which soon after occasioned a curious controversy between Messrs. Steevens and Malone; the latter impeaching, and the former defending, the conjugal affection of their bard. “ Ilis wile had not wholly escaped his memory,” observes Mr. Malone; "he had forgot her,-he had recollected her,—but so recollected her, as more strongly to mark how little he esteemed her; he had already (as it is vulgarly expressed) cut her off, not indeed with a shilling, but with an old bed.” “That our poet was jealous of this lady,” remarks Mr. Steevens, “is an unwarrantable conjecture. llaving, in times of health and prosperity, provided for her by settlement (or knowing that her father had already done so), he bequeathed to her at his
* These Cases were afterwards translated from the original Latin by James Cooke, a Surgeon at War. wick, under the title of “Select Observations on English Bodies; or Cures, both emperical and historical. performed upon very eminent persons in desperate diseases,” London, 1657. 12mo.
death, not merely an old piece of furniture, but perhaps, as a mark of peculiar Luderness,
u The very bed that on his bridal night
Received him to the arms of Belvidera.” in fact, we do know that Shakspeare married for love, but we do not know f any the smallest intimation or hint, previous to the wild conjecture of Oldys, nat coolness or estrangement had subsisted between the poet and his wife. We have every right, therefore, to conclude, that Mrs. Shakspeare had been preiously and amply provided for, either by her husband, or by her father, whose *** cumstances are represented by Rowe, as having been “substantial.” We may, at least, rest satisfied, as well from the known integrity of Shakspeare, as from the humanity of his disposition, that nothing harsh or unjust had been com mitted by him on this occasion. Indeed, had the case been otherwise, the love of mankind for propagating what tends to deteriorate superior characters, would, doubtless, have protected such a family-anecdote from oblivion.
Why the executorship was intrusted to Dr. Hall and his lady, may be readily conceived to have originated, independent of their being the persons principally concerned, in the knowledge of the poet that the former, who was a man of business, was much better calculated than Mrs. Shakspeare could possibly be, for carrying the will into execution.
That superior qualities of the head and heart, more especially when united, are entitled, even under the parental roof, to marked distinction, who will deny ? and that such were the blended qualities which rendered Susanna the favourite of her father may be certainly inferred from the circumstance that, while we hear nothing of Judith, but that she is supposed to have married contrary to her father's wishes, of Susanna we are told that she was “witty above her sex;" that she had "something of Shakspeare" in her, and, above all, that she was "wise to salvation,” that she “wept with all that wept, yet set herself to cheer them up with comforts.” To a child thus great and good, we need not wonder that Shakspeare paid a delighted deference.
It may be objected that, however superior the elder daughter might be in point of intellect and moral sensibility, if the younger had done nothing worse than marry without her father's approbation, no great difference should have been made between them in the distribution of his property. But we must recollect, that they moved in different circles, that whilst Susanna was united to a physician, who being in great practice, and intimate with the first families in the neighbourhood, was obliged to support an etablishment of much expense, Judith was the wife of a vintner, a station comparatively inferior, and not necessarily requiring such an expenditure. Under these considerations we shall probably be induced to acquit the poet of any undue partiality, and to view the provisions of his Will as neither disproportioned to the stations nor inadequate to the necessities of the parties concerned.
To the disposition and moral character of Shakspeare, tradition has ever borne the most uniform and favourable testimony. And, indeed, had she been silent on the subject, his own works would have whispered to us the truth; would have told us, in almost every page, of the gentleness, the benevolence, and the goodness of his heart. For, though no one has exceeded him in painting the stronger passions of the human breast, it is evident that he delighted most in the expression of loveliness and simplicity, and was ever willing to descend from the loftiest soarings of imagination, to sport with innocence and beauty. Though " the world of spirits and of nature," says the admirable Schlegel, “ had laid all their treasures at his feet : in strength a demi-god, in profundity of view a
* I recollect an engraving, from a picture by Westa!!, of Milton composing Paradise Lost in which he is attended by his two daughters. Shakspeare and his favourite Susanna might furnish a pleasing subject for the same elegant artist.
prophet, in all-seeing wisdom a protecting spirit of a higher order, he yet lowered himself to mortals as if unconscious of his superiority, and was as open and unassuming as a child."*
That a temper of this description, and combined with such talents, should be the object of sincere and ardent friendship, can excite no surprise. “I loved the man, says Jonson, with a noble burst of enthusiasm, “and do honour his memory on this side idolatry as much as any. He was, indeed, honest; and of an open and free nature;” and Rowe, repeating the uncontradicted rumour of times past, has told us,—" that every one, who had a true taste of merit, and could distinguish men, had generally a just value and esteem for him;" adding, that his exceeding candour and good-nature must certainly have inclined all the gentler part of the world to love him."
No greater proof, indeed, can be given of the felicity of his temper, and the sweetness of his manners, than that all who addressed bim, seem to have uniformly connected his name with the epithets worthy, gentle, or beloved ; t nor was he backward in returning this esteem, many of his sonnets indicating the warmth with which he cherished the remembrance of his friends. Thus the thirtieth opens with the following pensive retrospect :
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night;" and in the thirty-first he tenderly exclaims,
“ How many a holy and obsequious tear
Ilath dear religious love stolen from mine eye,
As interest of the dead !" Another very fascinating feature in the character of Shakspeare, was the almost constant cheerfulness and serenity of his mind: he was “verie good company, says Aubrey, “and of a very ready, and pleasant, and smooth witt.” ! In this, as Mr. Godwin has justly observed, he bore a striking resemblance to Chaucer, who was remarkable for the placidity and cheerfulness of his disposition :S nor can there, probably, be a surer indication of that peace and sunshine of the soul which surpasses all other gists, than this habitual tone of mind.
That Shakspeare was entitled to its possession from bis moral virtues, we have already seen; and that, in a religious point of view, he had a claim to the enjoyment, the numerous passages in his works, which breathe a spirit of pious gratitude and devotional rapture, will sufficiently declare. In fact, upon the topic of religious, as upon that of ethic wisdom, no profane poet can furnish us with a greater number of just and luminous aphorisms; passages which dwell upon the heart and reach the soul, for they have issued from lips of fire, from conceptions worthy of a superior nature, from feelings solemn and unearthly.
To these observations on the disposition and moral character of Shakspeare, we must add a few remarks on the taste which he seems to have possessed, in an exquisite degree, for all the forms of beauty, whether resulting from nature or from art. No person can study his writings, indeed, without perceiving, that, throughout the vast range of being, whatever is lovely and harmonious, whatever is sweet in expression, or gracesul in proportion, was constantly present to his mind; that
“on every part,
* Lectures on Dramatic Literature. vol. ii p. 138.
i “My gentle Shakspeare" is the language of Jonson, in his Poem to the memory of our baril: and see the Commendatory Poems Prefixed to our author's works.
Letters by Eminent persons. from the Bodleian Library, vol iii. p. 307. 9 Life of Chaucer, vol. iv. p. 175.