« FöregåendeFortsätt »
of the chancel, under a stone inlaid with brass, and inscribed thus :
“ Heere lyeth interred the bodye of Anne, wife of Mr. William Shakespeare, who depted. this life the 6th day of Avgvst, 1623, being or the age of 67 yeares.
Vbera, ty Mater, ty lac vitamq. dedisti,
Clavsa Jicet tymvlo mater, et astra petet." The family of Shakspeare, as already mentioned, consisted only of one son and two daughters. The son died in 1596; but both the daughters survived their father. The eldest, Susanna, married Dr. John Hall, a physician of Stratford, who is said to have obtained much reputation and practice. She brought her husband an only child, Elizabeth, who was married, first, to 'Thomas Nashe, Esq. and afterwards to Sir John Barnard of Abingdon, in Northamptonshire; but had no issue by either of them. Judith, Shakspeare's second daughter, married Thomas Quiney, a gentleman of good family, by whom she had three children; but as none of them reached their twentieth year, they left no posterity. Hence our poet's last descendant was Lady Barnard, who was buried at Abingdon, Feb. 17, 1669-70. Dr. Hall, her father, died Nov. 25, 1635, and her mother, July 11, 1649: and both were interred in Stratford church under flat stones, bearing inscriptions to their respective memories.
Shakspeare, by his Will, yet extant in the office of the Prerogative Court, and bearing date the 25th day of March, 1616, made the following bequests :
To his daughter Judith he gave 1501. of lawful English money; one hundred to be paid in discharge of her marriage portion, within one year after his decease, and the remaining fifty upon her giving up in favour of her elder sister, Susanna Hall, all her right in a copyhold tenement and apportenances parcel of the manor of Rowington. To the said Judith he also bequeathed 150l. more, if she or any of her issue were living three years from the date of his will; but in the contrary event, then he directed that 100l. of the sum should be paid to his niece, Elizabeth Hall, and the proceeds of the fifty to his sister, Joan, or Jone Hart, for life, with residue to ber children. He further gave to the said Judith a broad silver gilt bowl.
To his sister Joan, beside the contingent bequest above mentioned, he gave lwenty pounds and all his wearing apparel; also the house in Stratford, in which she was to reside for her natural life, under the yearly rent of twelve-pence.
To her three sons, William Hart, Hart, and Michael Hart, he gave five pounds a-piece; to be paid within one year after his decease.
To his grand-daughter, Elizabeth Hall, he bequeathed all his plate, the silver bowl above excepted.
To the poor of Stratford he bequeathed ten pounds; to Mr. Thomas Combe, his sword; to Thomas Russel five pounds; to Francis Collins, esq. thirteen pounds six shillings and eight-pence; to Hamlet (Hamnet) Sadler twenty-six shillings and eight-pence to buy a ring; and a like sum, for the same purpose, to William Reynolds, gent. Anthony Nash, gent. John Hemynge, Richard Burhage, and Henry Cundell, his “fellows;" also twenty shillings in gold to his godson, William Walker.
To his daughter, Susanna Hall, he bequeathed New. place, with its appurtenances; two inessuages or tenements, with their appurtenances, situated in Henleystreet (represented in the accompanying print); also all his " barns, stables, orchards, gardens, lands, tenements, and hereditaments whatsoever, situate, lying, and being, or to be bad, received, perceived, or taken, within the towns, hamlets, villages, fields, and grounds of Stratford-upon-Avon, Old Stratford, Bishopton, and Welcombe, or in any of them, in the said county of Warwick; and also all that messuage or tenement, with the appurtenances, wherein one John Robinson dwelleth, situated, lying, and being in the Blackfriars, London, near the Wardrobe; and all my other lands, tenements, and hereditaments whatsoever: to have and to hold all and singular the said premises, with their appurtenances, unto the said Susanna Hall, for and during the term of her natural life; and after her decease, to the first son of her body lawfully issuing, and to the heirs males of the body of the said first son, Jawfully issuing; and for default of such issue, to the second son of her body lawfully issuing, and to the heirs males of the body of the said second son lawfully issuing;" and so forth, as to the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh sons of her body and their heirs males: “and for default of such issue, the said premises to be and remain lo my said neice Hall, and the heirs males of her body lawfully issuing; and for default of such issue, to my daughter Judith, and the heirs males of her body lawfully issuing; and for default of such issue, to the right heirs of me the said William Sbakspeare.”
To the said Susanna Hall and her husband, whom he appointed executors of his will, under the direction of Francis Collins and Thomas Russel, esqrs. he further bequeathed all the rest of his “goods, chattels, leases, plate, jewels, and household stuff whatsoever,” after the payment of his debts, legacies, and funeral expenses ; with the exception of his “ second best bed with the furniture,” which constituted the only bequest he made to his wife, and that by insertion after the will was written out.
The houses mentioned above, as being situated in Henley-street, are those represented in the annexed wood cut. According to tradition, they originally constituted a single mansion, the residence of our poet's father, and the immediate scene of his own birth. This view was sketched by Mr. W. Alexander, in June 1807; but the figures, representing the procession at the Stratford Jubilee, are inserted from a drawing made by Samuel Ireland.
New-Place, the residence of Shakspeare, was occupied after his death by Mr. and Mrs. Hall, the latter of whom survived her husband several years. During her residence in it in her widowhood, it was honoured by the temporary abode of Henrietta Maria, queen to Charles the First. On the decease of Mrs. Hall, it became the property of her daughter, Lady Barnard,
and was sold by her surviving executor, to Edward Nash, Esq. who bequeathed it to his daughter Mary, wife of Sir Reginald Forster. By that gentleman it was sold to Sir John Clopton, a descendant from the original proprietor and founder. Here, under a mulberry tree planted by Shakspeare's own hand, Garrick, Macklin, and Delane, were hospitably entertained, when they visited Stratford, in 1742, by Sir Hugh Clopton, barrister at law, who repaired and beautified the house, instead of (as Malone asserts) pulling it down, and building another on its site. On his death it was sold, in 1752, by his son-in-law, Henry Talbot, Esq. to the Rev. Francis Gastrell, who cut down the mulberry tree to save himself the trouble of showing it to visitors.
With a few remarks on the accompanying Portrait, we must close the present essay. This is taken from the bust of the bard in Stratford church; and that head is indubitably the most authentic and probable likeness of the poet. It was executed soon after his decease, and according to the credible tradition of the town, was copied from a cast after nature. We also know that Leonard Digges mentions the “Stratford monument,” in his lines prefixed to the folio edition of Shakspeare's plays of 1623; whence it is certain, that the bust was executed within seven years of the poet's death. The common practice in that age of executing monumental busts of illustrious and eminent persons, is also in favour of this at Stratford: but we have still a better criterion, and a more forcible argument in its behalf: one that “flashes conviction” to the eye of the intelligent artist and anatomist. This is the truth of drawing with the accuracy of muscular forms, and shape of the skull which distinguishes the bust now referred to, and which are evidences of a skilful sculptor. The head is cut out of a block of stone, and was formerly coloured in imitation of nature: but Mr. Malone prevailed on the present respectable clergyman of Stratford, to have it re-painted all over with white lead, &c. By this absurd and tasteless operation, the character and expression of the features are much injured: but it is proposed to divest the head of this exterior coat, and it.”
preserve it with care and caution in proportion to its value. Mr. Malone characterises the bust, for its "pertness of countenance; and therefore totally differing from that placid composure and thoughtful gravity, so perceptible in his original portrait, and his best prints. Our poets monument, having been erected by his son-in-law, Dr. Hall, the statuary probably had the assistance of some picture, and failed froin want of skill to copy Thus prepossession and prejudice will always pervert facts, and resort to sophistry. In spite of all that has been advanced by Mr. Malone, by Jonson, and by other writers, in hebalf of different pictures and prints professing to be the head of Shakspeare, they are all unsatisfactory, and mostly futile: for a bad artist can never produce a good likeness, nor can we place any reliance on the execution of an unskilful engraver, or a worn-out picture. Whatever comes in “a questionable shape,” should be severely and fastidiously investigated; if not authenticated by proof, or supported by powerful probability, should be bauished from the page of history, and from the receptacles of belief.
From what has already been stated, it is evident that the writings of Shakspeare have progressively acquired considerable publicity; and that they, now rank as chief, or in the first list, of British classics. This high
elebrity is to be attributed to various secondary causes, as well as to their own intrinsic merits. To players, critics, biographers, and artists, a large portion of this fame is to be ascribed; for had the plays been represented by Garrick, Kemble, &c. as originally published by Condell and Hemynge, or reprinted verbatim from that text, the spectalors lo the one, and readers of the other, would have been comparatively limited, It is talent only that can properly represent and appreciate talent. The birth and productions of one man of brilliant genius will stimulate the emulation, and call into action the full powers of a correllative mind. Hence the British theatrical hemisphere has been repeatedly illumined by the corruscations of a Garrick, Henderson, Pritchard, Kemble, Siddons, Cooke, Young, and Kean : and these performers bave derived no small portion of