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like that of the lines quoted above, belongs to this side of the Atlantic:
"Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear
A melancholy fate had nearly befallen the names and inscriptions upon the walls and ceiling. The old lady "with keen blue eye and frosty complexion" getting into a quarrel with her landlord about the rent, which threatened to swallow up the profits of showing the place, with a coat of white-wash soon extinguished these interesting reminiscences. Most fortunately, however, in her haste she omitted to put in size, which allowed the coating to be washed off and the writing restored. An eminent commentator on Shakspeare, who visited Stratford in the year 1820, for the purpose of gathering traditions, states that he saw the old lady, then upward of threescore and ten. "She claimed a descent from Shakspeare, and had evidently inherited a full share of his love of the drama. Her high ancestral feeling displayed itself by her saying, I writes plays, and producing a tragedy called 'The Battle of Waterloo.'" As regards her syntax, she seems to have been what the French critics were wont to call her great progenitor, 'A wild, irregular genius."
Among the few articles of furniture in the house—none of which can be considered as belonging to the home of Shakspeare—is a chair whose history has been admirably drawn by Washington Irving in the following words:
"The most favorite object of curiosity, however, is Shakspeare's chair. It stands in the chimney corner of a small gloomy chamber, just behind what was his father's shop. Here he may many a time have sat, when a boy, watching the slowly-revolving spit with all the longing of an urchin, or of an evening listened to the cronies and gossips of Stratford dealing forth churchyard tales and legendary aneedotes of the troublesome times of England. In this chair it is the custom of every one that visits the house to sit; whether this be done with the hope of imbibing any of the inspiration of the bard I am at a loss to say—I merely mention the fact; and mine hostess privately assured me that though built of solid oak, such was the fervent zeal of devotees that it had to be new-bottomed at least once in three years. It is worthy of notice, also, in the history of this remarkable chair, that it partakes something of the volatile nature of the Santa Casa of Loretto, or the flying chair of the Arabian enchanter, for though sold to a Russian princess, yet, strange to say, it has found its way back again to the old chimney corner."
The tastefully-designed ancient font which we saw in a neighboring garden, now but a fragment, is supposed to have been used when the poet was christened, as it is known to have belonged to the Stratford Church at that date. It has a curious history. In the middle of the seventeenth century it was superseded and flung into the charnel-house, and when that was destroyed—
OLD FONT. some sixty years since—was thrown into the church-yard. This beautiful relic of the olden time was afterward removed by the parish clerk to form a trough of a pump at his cottage. From the parish clerk it passed into the hands of the late Captain Saunders; and from his possession came into that of the present owner, a builder of Stratford.
Our next visit was to the house of a Shakspearian antiquary, where we saw various objects of interest, and many rare editions of the poet's works, including the two first, published in 1623 and 1632. A letter written by Richard Quyny, whose son afterward was married to Shakspeare's youngest daughter, addressed "To my loving countryman, Mr. William Shakspeare," was an object of the deepest interest to us. The burden of the epistle is, that the writer stands in need of the kind offices of his friend, and solicits the loan of thirty pounds. We have evidence that the letter was received and opened by Shakspeare, as a charge appears a few weeks later in Quy ny's account-book of "£30 returned to Mr. William Shakspeare."
e : AKSt'K IEE'8 s1GNET EING.
Another object of equal interest, and of which we brought away an impression, was Shakspeare's signet ring, the only existing article that belonged to him except Quyny's epistle. It was found near the Stratford church-yard, and is deemed an undoubted relic. Its owner informed us that he purchased it of the finder—the wife of a mechanic—for about nine dollars, the value of the gold. It bears the initials W. S. connected by an ornamental string and tassels, the upper bow presenting a resemblance to the true lover's knot. Poor Haydon the painter says, in a letter dated 1818, about the time of its discovery: "My dear Keats, I shall go mad! In a field at Stratfordon-Avon, that belonged to Shakspeare, they have found a gold ring and seal with the initials W. S. and a true lover's knot between. If this is not Shakspeare's whose is it? A true lover's knot! I saw an impression to-day, and am to have
one as soon as possible; as sure as you live and breathe, and that he was the first of beings, the seal belonged to him. OLord!" Little doubt can exist that it was originally worn by Shakspeare, and that it is the ring that he lost before his death, and was not to be found when his will was executed, the word hand being substituted for seal in the original copy of that document. The true lover's knot indicates that the ring must have been a gift; and there is every reason to suppose that "the gentle Shakspeare" received it from sweet Anne Hathaway—she ''who had as much virtue as could
,. .. BACE OF
The Guild Chapel is a building of great an- [ tiquity. The guild to which this chapel belonged was an association partly for civil and partly for religious objects, and had its origin in the reign of Edward the First. The original chapel was erected by Robert do Stratford, in the year 1296. During the reign of Henry the Seventh it was taken down and the present structure erected on its site by Sir Hugh Clopton, a great benefactor to Stratford, and the person who built the before-mentioned bridge. The arehitecture ia pointed and in the perpendicular style of the Tudor period, and is a good specimen of the ecclesiastical architecture of that day. The interior of the building was originally decorated with a series of remarkable pictures, the principal being the legendary history of the Holy Cross. They were mutilated to a considerable extent at the Reformation. In this chapel at one time a school was held, and an order in the corporation books, dated 1594, directs "that there shall be no school kept in the chapel from this time following." The occupation of the chapel as a school-room may have been temporary, but Shakspeare may have imbibed a portion of his learning within its sacred walls.
Around the Grammar School, a venerable pile adjoining the Guild Chapel, cluster many Shakspearian associations. It was founded during the reign of Edward the Fourth by Thomas Jollyffe,
OEAMMAU-sfJUOOL AND GCILD CUAPEL.
who gave certain lands and tenements to maintain "a priest fit and able in knowledge to teach grammar freely to all scholars coming to the school in the said town to him, taking nothing of the scholars for their teaching." At a later date it was amply endowed by that most excellent prince, Edward VI. In Shakspcare's time the ascent was by a curious outer staircase, roofed with tile, which remained unaltered until quite recently. The interior of the school-room has undergone essential changes since its immortal pupil each day crossed its threshold with "shining morning face." The oaken roof, with its large supporting beams, is now hid from view by a ceiling of plaster work, and the desks are not those that were in use in the days of the youthful Shukspcare. An old worm-eaten oaken desk in a room below, which has suffered greatly from the ravages of relic hunters, is still pointed out as the one used by William Shakspeare. The tradition that assigns it to Shakspeare may be very questionable; but let us not disturb the belief that at this old desk the poet daily sat and learned
"Smalt L»tine and less Greeke," and first began to discipline that wonderful mind that was to bequeath to the world those matchless productions that will endure "to the last syllable of recorded time."
In this connection we wish to mention a pleasant aneedote, related by William Howitt. He says: "As I was walking through Stratford one morning I saw the master of the village school mustering his scholars to their tasks. I stopped, being pleased with the look of the old man, and said, 'You seem to have a considerable number of boys here; shall you raise another Shakspeare from among them, think you?' 'Why,' replied the master, 'I have a Shakspeare now in the school.' I knew that Shakspeare had no descendants beyond the third generation, and I was not aware that there was any of his family remaining. But it seems that the posterity of his sister, Joan Hart, who is mentioned in his will, still exist, part under the name of Hart at Tewsbury, and a family in Stratford of the name of Smith. 'I have a Shakspeare here,' said the master, with evident pride and pleasure. 'Here, hoys, here.' He quickly mustered his laddish troop in a row, and said to me, 'There now, Sir, can you tell which is a Shakspeare?' I glanced my eye along the line, and instantly fixing it on one boy, said, 'That is the Shakspeare.' 'You are right,' said the master. 'That is Shakspeare; the Shakspeare cast of countenance is there. That is William Shakspeare Smith, a lineal descendant of the poet's sister.'" Mr.' Howitt adds: "It sounded strangely enough as I was passing along the street in the evening to hear some of the boys say one to another, 'That is the gentleman who gave Bill Shakspeare a shilling.'"
EEMAINS OF BUAESPEAUE'S IIOL'BE AT NEW PLACE.
We wish it were in our power to present our readers with a view of the house in which Shakspeare lived after his retirement from London. We only know that it was the largest house in Stratford. The garden was spacious. The Avon washed its banks. Within its inclosures were sunny terraces and green lawns, honey-suckle bowers, and flowers of all hues. Hugdale, speaking of Sir Hugh Clopton, who built the Stratford bridge and repaired the chapel, says, "On the north side of this chapel was a fair house, built of brick and timber by the said Hugh, wherein he lived in his later years." This "fair house" was purchased by Shakspeare, who repaired and modeled it to his own mind, and changed the name to "NewPlace." Ryhi* will he left it to his daughter, Mrs. Hall, with remainder to her heirs male, or in default, to her daughter Elizabeth and her heirs male, or the heirs male of his daughter Judith. Mrs. Hall died in 1649, and there is little doubt but
that she occupied "New Place" when Queen Heurietta'Maria, in 1643, coming to Stratford in royal state, with a large army, resided for three weeks under her roof. The property descended to her daughter Elizabeth, first married to Mr. Thomas Nash, and afterward to Sir John Barnard. She dying without issue, New Place was sold, and ultimately fell into the hands of the Rev. Francis Gastrell, in 1757. Malone thus relates the story:
"The Rev. Mr. Gastrell, a man of large fortune, resided in itbuta few years, in cousequence of a disagreement with the inhabitants of Stratford. Every house in that town that is let or valued at more than forty shillings a year is assessed by the overseers, according to its worth and the ability of the occupier, to pay a monthly rate toward the maintenance of the poor. As Mr. Gastrell resided part of the time at Lichfield, he thought he was assessed too highly; but being very properly compelled by the magistrates of Stratford to pay the whole of what was levied upon him, on the principle that his house was occupied by his servants during his absence, he peevishly declared that that house should never be assessed again; and soon afterward pulled it down, sold the materials, and left the town. Wishing, as it should seem, to be "damn'd to everlasting fame," he had some time before cut down Shakspeare's celebrated mulberry-tree, to save himself the trouble of showing it to those whose admiration of the great poet led them to visit the poetic ground on which it stood."
The destruction of the mulberry-tree, which the previous possessor of New Place had always shown with pride and pleasure, greatly enraged the good people of Stratford, and we were informed by the Shaksperian antiquary before mentioned "that he remembered hearing his father say that he had, when a boy, assisted in the revenge of breaking the reverend Vandal's windows."
Nothing now remains of what would have been the most interesting spot in Stratford but the site, and that has been divided and built upon. Of how much did that ignorant Englishman deprive the world by his Gothic barbarity? Under that roof Shakspeare composed the grandest of all his glorious creations — his Hamlet, Lear, Othello, and Macbeth, plays exhibiting his wonderful genius at its very point of culmination. Underthat roof he spent the closing years of his too brief career, surrounded by his children and the loved scenes of his childhood. Who would not wish to have walked reverentially in those halls, hallowed by his presence and his labors? We will now visit the tomb of Shakspeare, in the chancel of the church of the Holy Trinity—a spot possessing, m common with his birth-place, an interest to Britons and Americans that does not belong to any other spot on the habita- I sponding to the upper portion, the transepts to ble globe. The approach to this venerable and the short arms, and the nave to the longest porpicturesque fane is through an avenue of beauti- tion. There are aisles on each side of the nave, ful lime-trees, clipped in such a manuer as to and a charnel-house formerly stood on the north form an arbor extending from the gateway of side of the chancel. Portions of this " solemn the chureh-yard to the poreh. The chureh is temple" belong to different ages. The tewer, built in the form of a cross, the chancel corre- which is in the Norman-Gothic style, is believed to bens old as the days of William the Conqueror. Its height is eighty feet, and that of the graystone spire surmounting it eighty-five feet. The chancel, or choir—much the finest portion of the structure—was built about the middle of the fifteenth century, as a substitute for a more ancient one.
Passing into the chancel you see directly in front of the communion-rails the tombs of the Shakspeare family, which, in harmony with Christian usage, lie east and west; and on your left as you face the altar, Shakspeare's monument. How soon it was placed there after the poet's death is not known, but that it was there before 1623 we can ascertain from Leonard Digges's verses prefixed to the first edition of Shakspeare's works. A half-length figure of Imboii Of Tub Ohukch. I "'ni is placed in a niche, which is arched over
CUANCEL OF TUE CIICECU OF TUE UOLY TEINITY.
and fronted by Corinthian columns of black polished marble, with gilded capitals and bases. The architraves are of marble, and the arms of Shakspeare are supported above the entablature. The crest is a falcon grasping a golden spear, and the supporters are two boys in a sitting posture, representing Death and the Grave. The one on the right, emblematic of the former, holds an inverted torch in one hand and rests the other on a skull. That on the left is figured holding a spade, and turning its eyes toward the other, and "m the apex above is another skull. The sculptor of the bust, the material of which is bluish limestone, was Gerard Johnson; it is supposed to have been made from a cast taken after death. It was originally painted from nature. The face and hands were flesh-colored, the eyes a light hazel, and the hair and beard auburn. The dress was a scarlet doublet slashed on the breast,
iver which was a loose black gown without sleeves. The upper part of the cushion was crimson, the lower green; the cord which bound it and the tassels were gilt. In 1748 the original colors were restored by an ancestor of Mrs. Fanny Kemble. Malone, in an evil hour, was allowed to coat the bust, in 1793, with white paint; also the effigy of Shakspeare's friend, John Combe, who lies beside the altar. This act has been most justly stigmatized as one of
'uuscrupulous iusolence." Beneath the cushion on which the poet is writing is iuscribed,
1VTHCIO PYL1VM OENIO BOCEATEM AETE MAEONEM
Stay Passenger why goest thov by so fust?
Obilt Ano Do". 1616.
iEtatis 53. die 23 Ap'.
There can be no doubt that this bust is the best portrait of "the gentle Shakspeare." The features are handsome and intelligent, but it is evident that such a head depended on its living expression, and that then it must have been eminently prepossessing.
IlliST OF BUAESFEAEE.
The first of the grave-stones of the Shakspeare family is that of his wife, immediately beneath his monument. It is a flat stone, the surface injured by time, having a small brass plate let in it, with this inscription—here literally given, as are all the others:
Here lyeth interred the body of Anne
Next is the grave of William Shakspeare, on which lies a large slab of coarse stone with the following inscription, which has been attributed to the great dramatist. A peculiarity which it possesses over ordinary inscriptions is the abbreviation of the word that, and the grouping together of some of the letters after the fashion of a monogram: