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10 defend me from the snares and deceites of my infernal enemies, and to conduct me lo the secure haven of his eternal blisse.
4. “ Item, I John Shakspear doe protest that I will also passe out of this life, armed with the last sacrament of extreme unclion : the which is through any let or hindrance I should not then he able to have, I doe now also for that time demand and crave the same; beseecbing his Divine Majesty that he will be pleased to apoynt my senses both internall and externall with the sacred oyle of his infinite mercy, and to pardon me alle my sins commilled by seeing, speaking, feeling, smelling, hearing, touching, or by any other way whatsoever.
5. “ Item, 1 John Shakspear doe by this present protest, that I will never through any templation whatsoever despaire of the divine goodness, for the multitude and greatness of my sinnes; for which, although I confesse that I have deserved hell, yet will I steadfastly hope in God's infinite mercy, knowing that he hath beretofore pardoned many as great sinners as myself, whereof I have good warrant sealed with his sacred mouth, in holy writ, whereby he pronouncelh that he is nol come to call the just, but singers.
6. “ Ilem, 1 John Shakspear do protest, that I do not know that I have ever done any good worke meritorious of life everlasting: and if I have done any, I do acknowledge that I have done it with a great deale of negligence and imperfection ; neither should I have been able to have done the least without the assistance of his divine grace. Wherefore let the devill remain confounded : for I doe in no wise presume to merit heaven by such good workes alone, but through the merits and bloud of my Lord and Saviour Jesus, shed upon the cross for me most miserable sinner.
7. “ Item, I John Shakspear do protest by this present writing, that I will patiently endure and suffer all kind of infirmily, sickness, yea, and the paine of death itself : wherein if it should happen, which God forbid, that through violence of paine and agony, or by subtilly of the devill, I should fall into any impatience or templation of blasphemy, or murmuration against God, or the Catholic faith, or give any signe of bad example, I do henceforth, and for ibat present, repent me, and am most heartily sorry for the same : and I do renounce all the cvill whatsoever, which I might have then done or said ; beseeching his divine clemency that he will not forsake me in that grievous and paignefull agony.
8, “ Item, I John Shakspear, by virlue of this present testament, I do pardon all the injuries and offences that any one bath ever done unto me, either in my reputalion, life, goods, or any other way whatsoever ; besecching sweet Jesus lo pardon them for the same ; and I do desire ibat they will doe the like by me whome I have offended or injured in any sort howsoever.
9. “ Item, I John Shakspear do here protest, that I do render infinite thanks to his Divine Majesty for all the benefits that I have received, as well secret as manifest, and in particular for the benefit of my creation, redemption, sanctification, conservation, and vocation to the holy knowledge of him and his true Catholic faith : but above all for his so great expectation of me 10 pennance, when he might most justly have taken me out of this lise, when I least thought of it, yea, even then, when I was plunged in the durty puddle of my siones. Blessed be therefore and praised, for ever and ever, his infinite patience and charily.
10. “ Item, I John Shakspear do protest, that I am willing, yea, I do infinitely desire and humbly crave, that of this my last will and testament the glorious and ever Virgin Mary, mother of God, refuge and advocale of sinners (whom I honour specially above all saints), may be the chiese executresse, togeather with these other saints, my patrons (Saint Winefride), all whome I invoke and beseech to be present at the hour of my death, that she and they comfort mo with their desired presence, and crave of sweet Jesus that be will receive my soul into peace.
11. “ Item, In virtue of this present writing, I John Shakspear do likewise most willingly and with all humility constitute and ordaine my good angell for defender and protector of my soul in the dreadfull day of judgment, when the finall sentence of eternall life or dealb shall be discussed and given : beseeching him that, as my soule was appointed to his custody and prolection when I lived, even so he will vouchsafe lo defend the same at that houre, and conduct il lo eternall bliss.
12. “ Item, 1 John Shakspear do in like manner pray and beseech all my dear friends, parents, and kinsfolks, by the bowells of our Saviour Jesus Christ, that since it is uncertain what lot will berall me, for fear notwithstanding least by reason of my sinnes 1 be to pass and stay a long wbile in purgatory, they will vouchase to assist and succour me with their holy prayers and salisfactory workes, especially with the boly sacrifice of the masse, as being the most ellectual means lo deliver soules from their torments and paines; from the which, if I shall by God's gracions goodnesse, and by their vertuous workes, be delivered, I do promise that I will not be ungratefull unlo them for so great a benefilt.
13. “ Item, 1 Jobn Shakspear doe by this my last will and testament bequeath my soul, as as soon as it shall be delivered and loosened from the prison of this my body, to be entombed in the sweet and amorous coffin of the side of Jesus Christ; and that in this life-giving sepulcher il may rest and live, perpelually enclosed in that eternall habitation of repose, there lo blessé for ever and ever ibat diresul iron of the launce, which, like a charge in a censore, formes so sweet and pleasant a monument within the sacred breast of my Lord and Saviour.
14. Ilem, Lastly 1 John Shakspear doe protest, that I will willingly accept of death in what mander soever it may befall me, conforming my will unlo the will of God; accepling of the same in salissaction for my sinnes, and giving thanks unto his Divine Majesty for the life he hath bestowed upon me. And if it please him to prolong or shorten the same, blessed be he also a thousand thousand times; inlo whose most holy hands 1 commend my soul and body, my life and dcaih: and I beseech him above all things, that he never permit any change to be made by me juhn Shakspear of this my aforesaid will and testament. Amen.
“1 Joha Shakspeare bave made this present writing of protestation, confession, and charter, in presence of the blessed Virgin Mary, my angell guardian, and all the celestial court, as witnesses hereunto: the which my meaning is, that it be of full value now presently and for ever with the force and verlue of testament, codicill, and donation in course of death; confirming it anew, being in perfect health of soul and body, and signed with mine own hand; carrying also the same about me, and for the better declaration bereof, my will and intention is that it be finally buried with me after my death.
“ Pater noster, Ave maria, Credo.
Jesu, son of David, have mercy on me.-Amen." If the intention of the testator, as expressed in the close of this will, were carried into effect, then, of course, the manuscript which Mosely found, must necessarily have been a copy of that which was buried in the grave of John Shakspeare.
Mr. Malone, to whom, in his edition of Shakspeare, printed in 1790, we are indebted for this singular paper, and for the history attached to it, observes, thaj he is unable to ascertain whether it was drawn up by John Shakspeare the father, or by John his supposed eldest son ; but he says, • I have taken some pains to ascertain the authenticity of this manuscript, and, after a very careful inquiry, am perfectly satisfied that it is genuine." + In the “Inquiry," however, which he published in 1796, relative to the Ireland papers, he has given us, though without assigning any reasons for his change of opinion, a very different result : * In my conjecture,” he remarks, “concerning the writer of that paper, I certainly was mistaken ; for I have since obtained documents that clearly prove it could not have been the composition of any one of our poet's family." I
In the “ Apology” of Mr. George Chalmers “ for the Believers in the Shakspeare-Papers, which appeared in the year subsequent to Mr. Malone's “Inquiry,” a new light is thrown upon the origin of this confession. “From the sentiment, and the language, this confession appears to be," says this gentleman, " the effusion of a Roman Catholic mind, and was probably drawn up by some Roman Catholic priest. S If these premises be granted, it will follow, as a fair deduction, that the family of Shakspeare were Roman Catholics ; a circumstance this, which is wholly consistent with what Mr. Malone is now studious to inculcate, viz. that this confession could not have been the composition of any of our poet's family. The thoughts, the language, the orthography, all demonstrate the truth of my conjecture, though Mr. Malone did not perceive this truth, when he first published this paper in 1790. But it was the performance of a clerke, the undoubted work of the family-priest. The conjecture, that Shakspeare's family were Roman Catholics, is strengthened by the fact, that his father declined to attend the corporation meetings, and was at last removed from the corporato
• Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 199 et seq.
+ Ibid. p. 197. • Malone's Inquiry, p. 198, 199.
$ As a specimen, let us take the beginning of this declaration of faith, and see still stronger terms in the Duclusion of this protestation, confession, and charter.
** - The place too, the roof of the house, where this confession was found, proves, that it had been therein concealed, during times of persecution for the holy Catholic religion.” Apology, p. 198, 199.
This conjecture of Mr. Chalmers appears to us in its leading points very plausible ; for that the father of our poet might be a Roman Catholic is, if we consider the very unsettled state of his times with regard to religion, not only a possible but a probable supposition : in which case, it would undoubtedly have been the office of the spiritual director of the family to have drawn up such a paper as that which we have been perusing. It was the fashion also of the period, as Mr. Chalmers has subsequently observed, to draw up confessions of religious faith, a fashion honoured in the observance by the great names of Lord Bacon, Lord Burghley, and Archbishop Parker. * That he declined, however, attending the corporation meetings of Stratford from religious motives, and that his removal from that body was the result of non-attendance from such a cause, cannot readily be admitted; for we have clearly seen that his defection was owing to pecuniary difficulties ; nor is it, in the least degree, probable that, aster having honourably filled the highest offices in the corporation without scruple, he should at length, and in a reign too popularly protestant, incur expulsion from an avowed motive of this kind; especially as we have reason to suppose, from the mode in which this profession was concealed, that the tenets of the person whose faith it declares were cherished in secret.
From an accurate inspection of the hand-writing of this will, Mr. Malone insers that it cannot be attributed to an earlier period than the year 1600, 4 whence it follows that, if dictated by, or drawn up at the desire of, John Shakspeare, his death soon sealed the confession of his faith ; for, according to the register, he was buried on September 8th, 1601.
Such are the very few circumstances which reiterated research has hitherto gleaned relative to the father of our poet ; circumstances which, as being intimately connected with the history and character of his son, have acquired an interest of no common nature. Scanty as they must be pronounced, they lead to the conclusion that he was a moral and industrious man; that when fortune favoured him, he was not indolent, but performed the duties of a magistrate with respectability and effect, and that in the hour of adversity he exerted every nerve to support with decency a numerous family.
Before we close this chapter, it may be necessary to state, that the very orthography of the name of Shakspeare has occasioned much dispute. Of Shakspeare the father, no autograph exists; but the poet has left us several, and from these, and from the monumental inscriptions of his family, must the question be decided ; the latter, as being of the least authority, we shall briefly mention, as exhibiting, in Dugdale, three varieties,-Shakespeare, Shakespere, and Sbakspeare. The former present us with five specimens which, singular as it may appear, all vary, either in the mode of writing or mode of spelling. The first is annexed to a mortgage executed by the poet in 1613, and appears thus, Wm Shakspea : the second is from a deed of bargain and sale, relative to the same transaction, and of the same period, and signed, William Shaksper : the third, fourth and fifth are taken from the Will of Shakspeare executed in March, 1616, consisting of three briefs or sheets, to each of which his name is subscribed. These signatures, it is remarkable, disler considerably, especially in the surnames ; for in the first brief we find William Shackspere; in the second, Willm Shakspe re, and in the third, William Shakspeare. It has been supposed, however, that, according to the practice in Shakspeare's time, the name in the first sheet was written by the scrivener who drew the will.
In the year 1790, Mr. Malone, from an inspection of the mortgage, pronounced the genuine orthography to be Shakspeare ; & in 1796, from consulting the deed of sale, he altered his opinion, and declared that the poet's own mode of spelling, his name was, beyond a possibility of doubt, thatof Shakspere, though for reasons
Chalmer's Apology, p. 200.
+ Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iii. p. 193.
which he should assign in a subsequent publication, he should still continue to write the name Shakspeare.*
To this decision, relative to the genuine orthography, Mr. Chalmers cannot accede; and for this reason, that, “when the testator subscribed his name, for the last time, he plainly wrote Shakspeare."+
It is obvious, therefore, that the controversy turns upon, whether there be, or be not, an a introduced in the second syllable of the last signature of the poet. Mr. Malone, on the suggestion cf an anonymous correspondent, thinks that there is not, this gentleman having clearly shown him, “that though there was a superfluous stroke when the poet came to write the letter r in his last signature, probably from the tremor of his hand, there was no a discoverable in that syllable; and that this name, like both the other, was written Shakspere.” I
From the plate of autographs, which is to be found in Mr. Chalmer's Apology, and which presents us with very perfect fac-similes of the signatures, it is at once evident, that the assertion of the anonymous correspondent, that the last signature, * like both the other, was written Shakspere,” cannot be correct; for the surname in the first brief is written Shackspere, and, in the second, Shakspe re. Now the hiatus in this second signature is unaccounted for in the fac-simile given by Mr. Malone S; but in the plate of Mr. Chalmers it is found to have been occasioned by the intrusion of the word the of the preceding line, a circumstance which, very probably, might prevent the introduction of the controverted letter. It is like wise, we think, very evident that something more than a superfluous stroke exists between the e and r of the last signature, and that the variation is, indeed, too material to have originated from any supposed tremor of the hand.
Cpon the whole, it may, we imagine, be safely reposed on as a fact, that Shakspeare was not uniform in the orthography of his own name; that he sometimes spelt it Shakspere and sometimes Shakspeare ; but that no other variation is estant which can claim a similar authority.** It is, therefore, nearly a matter of
• Malone's Inquiry, p. 120.
Chalmers's Apology, p. 235. Ibid. pp. 117, 118.'
Inquiry, Plate II. No. 12.
Kyd. Yet, it is remarkable, that in this collection of diversities, our dramatist's name is uniformly spelt Shakspare : in whatever manner this celebrated name may have been pronounced in Warwickshire, it certainly was spoken in London, with the e soft, thus, Shakespeare : in the registers of the Stationers' Company, it is written, Shakespere, and Shakespeare." Chalmers's Supplemental Apology, pp. 129, 130.
A curious proof of the uncertain orthography of the poet's surname among his contemporaries and immediate successors, may be drawn from a pamphlet, entitled, “ The great Assizes holden in Parnassus by Apollo and his Assessours: at which Sessions are arraigned, Mercurius Britannicus, etc. etc. London: Printed by Richard Cotes for Edward Husbands, and are to be sold at his shop in the Middle Temple. 1615. qió. 25 leaves.
In this rare tract, among the list of the jurors is found the name of our bard, written William Shakespeere ; and in the body of the poem, it is given Shakespeare, and Shakespear. Vide British Bibliographer val. i. p. 513.
indifference which of these two modes of spelling we adopt; yet, as his last signature appears to have included the letter a, it may, for the sake of consistency, be proper silently to acquiesce in its admission.
The House in which Shakspeare was born-Plague at Stratford, June 1564-Shakspeare educated
at the Free-school of Stratford-State of Education, and of Juvenile Literature in the Country at this period—Extent of Shakspeare's acquirements as a Scholar.
The experience of the last half century has fully proved, that every thing relative to the history of our immortal dramatist has been received, and received justly too, by the public with an avidity proportional to his increasing fame. What, if recorded of a less celebrated character, might be deemed veryuninteresting, immediately acquires, when attached to the mighty name of Shakspeare, an importance nearly unparaleled. No apology, therefore, can be necessary for the introduction of any fact or circumstance, however minute, which is, in the slightest degree, connected with his biography ; tradition, indeed, has been so sparing of her communications on this subject, that every addition to her little store has been hitherto welcomed with the most lively sensation of pleasure, nor will the attempt to collect and embody these scattered fragments be unattended with its reward.
The birth-place of our poet, the spot where he drew the first breath of life, where Fancy
fed the little prattler, and with songs
Oft sooth'd bis woud'ring ears, has been the object of laudable curiosity to thousands, and happily the very roof that sheltered his infant innocence can still be pointed out. It stands in Henleystreet, and, though at present forming two separate tenements, was originally but one house.* The premises are still in possession of the Hart family, now the seventh descendants, in a direct line, from Jone the sister of the poet. From the plate in Reed's Shakspeare, which is a correct representation of the existing state of this humble but interesting dwelling, it will appear, that one portion of it is occupied by the Swan and Maidenhead public-house, and the other by a butcher's shop, in which the son of old Mr. Thomas Hart, mentioned in the last chapter, still carries on his father's trade. † “ The kitchen of this house,” says Mr. Samuel
* It is with some apprehension of imposition that I quote the following passage from Mr. Samuel Ireland's Picturesque Views on the River Avon. This gentleman, the father of the youth who endeavoured so grossly to deceive the public by the fabrication of a large mass of MSS which he attributed to Shakspeare, was undoubtedly, at the time he wrote this book, the complete dupe of his son ; and though, as a man of veracity and integrity, to be depended upon with regard to what originated from himself
, it is possible, that the settlement which he quotes may have been derived from the same ample store-house of forgery which produced the folio volume of miscellaneous papers, &c. This settlement, in the possession of Mr. Ireland, is brought forward as a proof that the premises in Henley-street were certainly in the occupation of John Shakspeare, the father of the poet; it is dated August 14th, third of Elizabeth, 1591, and 'Mr. Ireland professes to give the substance of it in the subseqent terms:—" "That George Badger, senior, of Stratford upon Avon, conveys to John and William Court, yeoman, and their heirs, in trust, &c. a messuage or tenement, with the appurtenances in Stratford upon Avon in a certain streete called Henley-streete, between the house of Robert Johnson on the one part, and the house of John Shakspeare on the other; and also two selions (i. e. ridges, or ground between furrows) of land lying between the land of Tomas Combe, Gent. on the one hand, and Thomas Reynolde, Gent, on the other.' I. is regularly executed, and livery of seisin on the 29th of the same month and year indorsed”. P. 195, 196,
+ See the title page of the first volume of Baudry's edition of Shakspeare's Complete Works.