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"Triumph, my Britain, thou hast one to show
To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe."-BEN JONSON.

'Dear son of Memory, great heir of Fame."-MILTON.


"But Shakespeare's magic could not copy'd be,

Within that circle none durst walk but he."-DRYDEN.

"Our myriad-minded Shakespeare."-COLERIDGE.

"Shakespeare's mind is the horizon beyond which, at present,

we do not see."-EMERSON.

Life at Stratford-The player-Early poems-First-fruits— The flowering period-Shakespeare and Scott-Hamlet and the great tragedies-Later years-Bibliographical summaries.

IF the name of Shakespeare had come up before a lordlieutenant or a genealogist during the first thirty years of Elizabeth's reign, it would have been readily identified as that of a large family of small farmers in the midland counties. During the last fifteen years of the same reign the name (which finds its equivalent in the well-known Italian surname, Crollalanza) was to acquire a celebrity which has given it a unique and almost sacrosanct significance from that day to this. As in the case of so many great men, the place and time of Shakespeare's nativity have been the subjects of much animated discussion, the echoes of which have by no means died away, even at the present day. It is generally believed, however, that Shakespeare was born in a roomy cottage neighbouring the site of


what is now known as " Shakespeare's Birthplace," in Henley Street, Stratford-on-Avon,1 during the second half of April, 1564. His christening is thus entered in Church Latin in the baptismal register of the parish church of the Holy Trinity, Stratford-on-Avon: 1564, April 26th, Gulielmus filius Johannes Shakspere." Of Shakespeare's father, the said Johannes or John Shakespeare, we strive in vain to get a clear idea, based upon such facts as that he was a chief alderman of his native Stratford, that he married a rich wife, Mary Arden, daughter of Robert Arden of Wilmecote or Wilmcote, and begot a large family, that he apparently had heavy losses, was continually engaged in lawsuits, but continued "merry-cheek'd,” and, like Mr. Wilkins Micawber, was invincibly hopeful that something would turn up. John Shakespeare bought the Henley Street property in 1556 and brought his wife home there in the following year. Ten years later he was head bailiff of the town and welcomed the Queen's and other companies of players to Stratford. In 1575 he bought the house familiar to-day as the "Birthplace"; but from 1557 the fortunes of the once prosperous glover began to decline. Every long holiday that the eldest son spent at home from the Free Grammar School we can imagine him noticing that the family resources were steadily diminishing, while every year his father had in prospect some new lawsuit or some new business scheme whereby the finances of the Shakespeares were infallibly to be restored.

After a few years' subjection to the good pedagogue

1 A small town of then about 1,300 inhabitants, clustered round the ford at which the ancient Roman street from Londinium to Uriconium crossed the Warwickshire Avon, though from about 1490 the road was carried over the river by a noble stone bridge (still standing), called after its builder, Sir Hugh Clopton. Legend says that the bard was born on the same day of the month that he died. We may safely drink to his memory on any day from the 20th to the 25th.

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Walter Roche, Shakespeare had to leave his Latin book and the quaint gabled schoolroom with its rough desks and wooden beams, which still forms a most genuine attraction to all Stratford pilgrims-he had to quit these altogether, and rally to the help of his father in the humble trade to which all his great projects had reduced him, that of a common butcher.

John Aubrey, the first of our antiquaries who thought it worth while to record anecdotes about Shakespeare, when collecting materials (the product of a journey made to Stratford about 1662) for Anthony à Wood, wrote of the poet at this time: "His father was a butcher, and I have been told heretofore by some of the neighbours, that when he was a boy he exercised his father's trade, but when he kill'd a calf he would doe it in high style, and make a speech. There was at that time another butcher's son in this towne that was held not at all inferior to him for naturall witt, his acquaintance and coetanean, but dyed young." These days in the slaughter-house must evidently have been to Shakespeare what those in the blacking factory were to Dickens. They begot in him an unconquerable determination to rise to a position of well-to-do respectability in the world.

A mile or two from Stratford is a hamlet named Shottery, accessible by a short walk through pleasant fields from the little town. Here, in a cottage of thatch, brick, and rubble which is still standing, lived Richard Hathaway, husbandman, and his daughter Anne. Shakespeare as a lad of eighteen must apparently have fallen in love with the maiden of twenty-five or six. According to an entry in the register of the Bishop of Worcester (Whitgift), a licence was granted on November 27th, 1582, for a marriage between William Shaxpere and Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton. On the following day (November 28th) a bond was entered into, in which two

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