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and anecdotes about Shakspeare. The deer-stealing from the park of Sir Thomas Lucy is denied in toto. We confess we have a sneaking regard for the story, and a wish to credit it on account of Justice Shallow; but the biographer is remorseless :
"The tale is fabulous and rotten to its core; yet even this does less dishonour to Shakspeare's memory than the sequel attached to it. A sort of scurrilous rondeau, consisting of nine lines, so loathsome in its brutal stupidity, and so vulgar in its expression, that we shall not pollute our pages by transcribing it, has been imputed to Shakspeare ever since the days of the credulous Rowe. The total point of this idiot's drivel consists in calling Sir Thomas
an asse ;'
and well it justifies the poet's own remark, 'Let there be gall enough in thy ink, no matter though thou write with a goose pen.' Our own belief is, that these lines were a production of Charles II.'s reign, and applied to a Sir Thomas Lucy, not very far removed, if at all, from the age of him who first picked up the precious filth: the phrase, parliament member,' we believe to be quite unknown in the colloquial use of Elizabeth's reign.
"But, that we may rid ourselves once and for ever of this outrageous calumny upon Shakspeare's memory, we shall pursue the story to its final stage. Even Malone has been thoughtless enough to accredit this closing chapter, which contains, in fact, such a superfetation of folly as the annals of human dulness do not exceed. Let us recapitulate the points of the story. A baronet, who has no deer and no park, is supposed to persecute a poet for stealing these aerial deer out of this aerial park, both lying in nephelococcygia. The poet sleeps upon this wrong for eighteen years; but at length, hearing that his persecutor is dead and buried, he conceives bloody thoughts of revenge. And this revenge he purposes to execute by picking a hole in his dead enemy's coat-of-arms. Is this coat-of-arms, then, Sir Thomas Lucy's? Why, no; Malone admits that it is not. For the poet, suddenly recollecting that this ridicule would settle upon the son of his enemy, selects another coat-of-arms with which his enemy never had any connexion, and he spends his thunder and lightning on this irrelevant object; and, after all, the ridicule itself lies in a Welshman's mispronouncing one single heraldic term-a Welshman, who mispronounces all words. The last act of the poet's malice recalls to us a sort of jest-book story of an Irishman, the vul garity of which the reader will pardon in consideration of its relevancy. The Irishman having lost a pair of silk stock
ings, mentions to a friend that he has taken steps for recovering them by an advertisement, offering a reward to the finder. His friend objects that the cost of advertising, and the reward, would eat out the full value of the silk stockings. But to this the Irishman replies, with a knowing air, that he is not so green as to have overlooked that; and that, to keep down the reward, he had advertised the stockings as worsted. Not at all less flagrant is the bull ascribed to Shakspeare, when he is made to punish a dead man by personalities meant for his exclusive ear, through his coat-of-arms, but at the same time, with the express purpose of blunting and defeating the edge of his own scurrility, is made to substitute for the real arms some others which had no more relation to the dead enemy than they had to the poet himself. This is the very sublime of folly, beyond which human dotage cannot advance."
A little too strongly put, Mr. De Quincey, and rather a waste of virtuous indignation. The Lucy coat of arms was gules three luces [i. e., pike fishes] hariant, argent." Slender says, Shallow "may give the dozen white luces in their coat,"-an allusion quite obvious enough to point out the Lucy family. We do not see why the tradition of Shakspeare's deer-stealing exploit should not be, like the Minerva press novels, founded in fact. It was natural to his situation and turn of mind, as Washington Irving remarks; and though there was no deer-park at Charlecote, there was one at Fulbroke, on the road from Stratford to Warwick. In the latter the exploit may have taken place, and Shakspeare have been brought to the hall at Charlecote for trial, before the grave and solemn Sir Thomas, enthroned in awful state." A beautiful spot Charlecote is," a goodly place," of the true Elizabethan style. The old mansion, with its red brick walls and tall chimneys, seems a fitting residence for "a gentleman born," who could write "himself Armigero in any bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation." A magnificent avenue of elms, by a pathway somewhat neglected, and overgrown with nettles, leads to its gates, and a colony of rooks have fixed their aristocratic station among the branches. The Avon winds along under the windows, and herds of deer browse in the park. It was at sunset on a summer's day, without a cloud to mar the bright and lucid
sky, when we last strolled under the old trees, that form a complete shade, or canopy, from sun or shower. The deer were reposing in groups of thirty or forty in the hollows of the park, and under the trees; and the scene was altogether one of great woodland richness and seclusion. Who but connects it with Shakspeare? Let the wanderer here,
"Under the shade of melancholy boughs, Lose and neglect the creeping hours of time."
The hours so employed are not misspent.
We give up the story of John O'Combe, and the maledictory lines on the grave-stone in the chancel of Stratford church, to De Quincey's cordial objurgation and contempt :
is a common one; and some stupid fellow, who had seen the name in Shakspeare's will, and happened also to have seen the lines in a collection of epigrams, chose to connect the cases, by attributing an identity to the two John Combes, though at war with chronology.
Finally, there is another specimen of doggerel attributed to Shakspeare, which is not equally unworthy of him, because not equally malignant, but otherwise equally below his intellect, no less than his scholarship,-we mean the inscription on his grave-stone. This, as a sort of siste viator appeal to future sextons, is worthy of the grave-digger, or the parish clerk, who was probably its author. Or it may have been an antique formula, like the vulgar record of ownership in books,
"This poet, who was a model of gracious benignity in his manners, and of whom, amidst our general ignorance, thus much is perfectly established, that the term gentle was almost as generally, and by prescriptive right, associated with his name, as the affix of venerable with Bede, or judicious with Hooker, is alleged to have insulted a friend by an imaginary epitaph, beginning ten in the hundred, and supposing him to be damned, yet without wit enough (which surely the Stratford bellman could have furnished) for devising any, even fanciful, reason for such a supposition; upon which the comment of some foolish critic is,The sharpness of the satire is said to have stung the man so much, that he never forgave it.' We have heard of the sting in the tail atoning for the brainless head; but in this doggerel the tail is surely as stingless as the head is brainless. For, first, ten in the hundred could be no reproach in Shakspeare's time, any more than to call a man three and a-half per cent in this pre
Anthony Timothy Dolthead's book, God give him grace therein to look.
Thus far the matter is of little importance; and it might have been supposed that malignity itself could hardly have im.puted such trash to Shakspeare. But when we find, even in this short compass, scarcely wider than the posey of a ring, room found for traducing the poet's memory, it becomes important to say, that the leading sentiment, the horror expressed at any disturbance offered to his bones, is not one to which Shakspeare could have attached the slightest weight, far less could have outraged the sanctities of place and subject, by affixing to any sentiment whatever (and, according to the fiction of the case, his farewell sentiment) the sanction of a curse.'
We have an idea that this stone, with its alternative of a blessing or a curse, may not, after all, mark the grave of Shakspeare. It is considerably distant from the wall on which is placed his monument, leaving a blank place sufficient for two or three graves · and in fact in part of the
There is no name or initials on the grave-stone-nothing but the four lines of doggerel, sprawling most irregularly and inelegantly on its surface. It appears much more probable that the sacred ashes of the poet, like those of his friend, John Combe (which lie within a few feet of the Shakspeare monument, on the same side of the chancel), were interred close by the wall, "within the monument," and not at some yards distance, on the other side of his wife's remains, which were placed there seven years afterwards,- cutting off, as it were, by this arrangement (if we believe the inscribed flagstone to mark the poet's dust), the connexion between the monument and all that remained of him, mortally speaking, whom it was designed to commemorate. If our conjecture be correct--and it was forced upon us on the spot-we shall have no difficulty in relieving Shakspeare of the harsh and ungraceful siste viator appeal, which interferes with the solemn sanctity of the spot-the calm and beautiful resting-place of the poet's remains.
"After life's fitful fever he sleeps well."
A word as to the bust on the monument. It is a very different work, and much less poetical or etherial in expression, than the statue in Westminster Abbey. We have no doubt, however, that it is the true likeness. In the first place, it was erected shortly after his death, under the eye of his nearest friends, his widow and daughter, who would certainly have some pictorial resemblance to guide the "tomb-maker." Mr. Haydon, the artist (as we were informed by the sexton), after a careful inspection of the bust, expressed himself satisfied that it was done from a cast taken after death. There must be certain slight marks and "denotements"-such as a mole, a rise or falling in of the skin-that we should
conceive a cast would render visible, but which the painter would fail to catch, as not necessary to the expression of the features. Should Mr. Haydon be right, the poet must have died after a very short illness ; for the countenance is full, and healthy-looking. The face is bland and cheerful in expression
sive, and thoroughly English; the head bald; the mouth and nose finely chiselled; and the lips slightly parted, as if shewing the upper teeth. The profile, from the mouth upwards, is singularly sweet and handsome; and a good view of it may be obtained by standing on a large tomb (conveniently situated in the chancel for this purpose), and looking betwixt the Corinthian pillar and the wall at the projecting features. A second reason for believing that the Stratford bust is a good likeness, is its close resemblance to the engraved frontispiece of the first folio edition of the poet's works,-the faithfulness of which was attested by Ben Jonson. The latter is a little heavier -still more earthy. We have carefully noted both, and therefore speak "by the card," though not, we confess, without something like a sigh,— for the reality destroys part of the romance of the Shaksperian divine," as statuaries, painters, and poets, have loved to deem of it. The church of Stratford, however, is holy ground. Here, undoubtedly, the poet trod, in company with those bound to him by filial and tender ties, listening to the pealing anthem, and joining in the praise, or, perhaps, casually recalling the chequered story of his life, that, after years of tumult, excitement, and splendour, was destined to close among the humble and quiet scenes of his early and obscure nativity.
"We are such stuff As dreams are made of; and our little life
Is rounded by a sleep."
THE THREE GREAT EPOCHS; OR, 1830, 1840, AND 1850.
Book I. 1830.
THE PROGRESS OF REFORM.
"GENTLEMEN!" cried Mr. Beaver, at the very top of his voice, "if you have any regard to your own character-any desire that the Reform-bill should pass-any wish to vindicate the reformers of England from the calumnies with which the boroughmongers desire to overwhelm them, I implore you to keep your temper. The breath of a faction never has prevailed, and never will prevail, against the will of a united people. Put a restraint, I beseech you, upon your very natural indignation. Let that poor devil, Lord Boroughdale, go to sleep in his insignificance. What can he do, either for or against you, now? He may give his votehis paltry, worthless, and turn-coat vote to deprive you of your rights, and to perpetuate all the abuses of the system which made him; but will he ever return a member for Coketown again? ("Never! never!" shouted a thousand voices at once.) Will he ever presume to speak of you as his voters? ("Never! never!") Will he ever cajole a time-serving mayor and corporation, buying their very souls with haunches of venison, and making them sell your liberties for messes of pottage? ("Never! never! we'll have no more mayors→→→→ no more corporations!") Well, then, my good friends-my noble and right-minded Englishmen - let him alone in his insignificance! What does it signify to us that he should
to old Nick; which, by the way, would be a punishment not one whit more severe than their offences against the common rights of man deserve! But mark me, Englishmen - freeborn and true-hearted Englishmenno violence, no outbreak, no striking of blows, till the proper time come! Keep your courage up, exercise your discipline and self-control, but go no farther as yet. The Lords must yield next session; or if they don't, why then we shall see farther into the matter!"
So spake the editor of the Coketown Journal to an enormous assemblage of people, which, somehow or another, had contrived to come together on the evening of the very day when intelligence reached the place of the throwing out of the Reform-bill by a majority of not less than forty-one in the House of Lords. His appeal was responded to with deafening shouts; while mayor, aldermen, members of the common council and others, who used in former times to carry all before them, seemed of a sudden to have dropped into the list of very secondrate people. It was to no purpose that they did their best to harp upon his string. "How long have you been a Reformer ?" was the sort of poser with which each was met. "Who made Giles Shark a collector of customs?" "Who got Tom Lubber his ship and his rank ?"
by-lanes and back alleys," I say, Master Mayor, what's wrong? Have the anti-reformers voted you out of the chair, or what else has befallen ?"
"Not much more than I all along expected, Master Bull. There's great truth in the proverb, Set a beggar on horseback,' and I fear we have scarce seen the end of his gallop yet. He's the most impertinent scoundrel, that fellow, that ever I encountered!" "What fellow, Master Mayor ?" "Oh, never you mind, Master Bull! You're no reformer yet; and, by my troth, if things go on at this rate, I don't think you're likely ever to become one!"
So saying, the mayor hurried past; while John Bull, not without a shrewd suspicion that his worship's chagrin might be owing rather to some private slight-than to a public wrong, went about his business, laughing heartily, yet nowise at ease as to the results. Neither was the sense of security restored to our friend when he found himself in the main street of the borough suddenly confronted by a moving mass; the regularity of whose formations, as well as the cadence of their step, would have done no discredit to the best-drilled brigade in the British army. According to the report of the Journal, which appeared next day, upwards of ten thousand men composed that formidable column. There was much exaggeration in this, of course; for reformers always exaggerate, whether the point discussed be their own influence, or the weakness of their rivals; but a soldier's eye would have probably counted, in rough numbers, full three thousand; nor is there any reason to believe that the calculation would have greatly erred. Moreover, these three thousand men were not like your operatives of Birmingham, a set of half-starved and squalid wretches, whose physical energies are always in an inverse ratio to the activity of their depraved and vitiated minds. They were, on the contrary, for the most part, athletic fellows, workmen from the surrounding mines, with limbs that made the very earth ring as they trod upon it, and shoulders broad enough to sustain the weight of a round world. And as if a common spirit had animated them all, or that they acted in obedience to
orders fully understood, Mr. Bull observed that they were all dressed alike. They wore their ordinary working clothes, their leathern aprons hung before them, their heads were covered with leathern caps; they had no coats on, and the shirt-sleeve was tucked up so as to expose each man's arm well-nigh to the shoulder. The consequence was, such a display of full chests and brawny arms as could not fail to inspire the lookeron with a sentiment not far removed
from respect. For it is quite true that, in spite of the march of intellect and all that, men do respect one another proportionably to the relative amount of their physical strength. And it is equally certain that, so long as human nature continues to be what it is, this same respect for physical strength will, more or less, continue.
The mass moved on in perfect order, but in profound silence. No band of music preceded it, neither did any individual utter a syllable. There was, too, a total absence of weapons from among the throng, for not so much as a stick was wielded; but on and on, rank succeeding rank, the column, apparently interminable, held its way, with a frontage just sufficient to occupy the whole width of the street, save only the little spaces on the right and left, which belonged of right on ordinary occasions to foot - passengers. Neither could Mr. Bull be ignorant for a moment that, to the leaders at least, of almost every section, he was well known. For Mr. Beaver first, who marched between two strangers at the head of the procession, eyed him with a peculiar expression, yet said nothing, except in a whisper to his companions, and passed by. Then came the leader of a division or company, whose face, though not quite so familiar to Mr. Bull, was not altogether strange. He also stared, smiled a scornful smile, and held his course. But the circumstance which most of all surprised the alderman was this; that of the inhabitants of Coketown, properly so-called, there were not fifty in all that procession. A crowd of ragged rascals hung upon the rear and about the flanks of the column; but few, indeed next to none, of the burghers could be said to belong to it.
"This is most extraordinary!" said