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with more verisimilitude if we consider, in the first place, that though his bride were eight years older than himself, still she could be but in her twenty-sixth vear, an age compatible with youth, and with the most alluring beauty; secondly, it does not appear that the finances of young Shakspeare were in the least improved by the connection; and thirdly, we know that he remained some years at Stratford after his marriage, which it is not likely that he would have done, had he been at variance with his father.
It is to be regretted, and it is indeed somewhat extraordinary, that not a fragment of the bard's poetry, addressed to his Warwickshire beauty, has been rescued from oblivion; for that the muse of Shakspeare did not lie dormant on an occasion so propitious to her inspiration we must believe, both from the custom of the times, and from his own amatory disposition. He has himself told us that
“ Never durst poet touch a pen to write,
Love's Labour's Lost. Act iv. sc. 3. and we have seen that an opportunity for qualification was very early placed within his power. That he availed himself of it, there can be no doubt; and had his effusions, on this occasion, descended to posterity, we should, in all probability, have been made acquainted with several interesting particulars relative to his early life and character, and to the person and disposition of his mistress. *
Our ignorance on this subject, however, would have been compensated, had any authentic documents been preserved relative to his establishment at Stratford, in consequence of his marriage; but of his business, or professional employment, no information, or tradition to be depended upon, has reached us.
We can only infer, from the evidence produced in the preceding chapter, and from the necessity, which must now have occurred, of providing for a family-establishment, that is, as we have reason to conclude, he had entered on the exercise of a branch of the manorial law, previous to his marriage, and with a view towards that event, he would, of course, be compelled, from prudential motives, to continue that occupation, after he had become a householder, and most probably to combine with it the business of a woolstapler, either on his own separate interest, or in concert with his father.
If any further incitement were wanting to his industry, it was soon imparted; for, to the claims upon him as a husband, were added, during the following year, those which attach to the name of a parent; his eldest child, Susanna, being born in May, 1538, and baptized on the 26th of the same month. Thus, scarcely had
6 our poet completed his nineteenth year, when the most serious duties of life were imperiously forced upon his attention, under circumstances perhaps of narrow fortune not altogether calculated to render their performance easy and pleasant; a situation which, on a superficial view, would not appear adapted to afford that leisure, that free and unencumbered state of intellect, so necessary to mental exertion; but with Shakspeare the pressure of these and of pecuniary difficulties served only to awaken that energy and elasticity of mind, which, ultimately directing his talents into their proper channel, called forth the brightest and most successful emanations of a genius nearly universal.
The family of the youthful bard gathered round him with rapidity; for, in 1581-5, it was increased by the birth of twins, a son and daughter, named Hamnet and Judith, who were baptized on February the 2d, of the same year.
The boy was christened by the name of Hamnet in compliment to his godfather Mr. Hamnet Sadler, and the girl was called Judith, from a similar deference to his wife, Mrs. Judith Sadler, who acted as her sponsor. Mr. Hamnet or
Building on the high credibility of Shakspeare having employed his poetical talents, at this period, on the subject nearest to his heart, two ingenious gentlemen have been so obliging as not only to furnish him with words on this occasion, but to offer these to the world as the genuine product of lis genius. It is scarcely necessary to add, that I allude to the Shakspeare Papers of young Ireland; and to a Tour in Quest of Genealogy, by a Barrister.
Hamlet Sadler, for they were considered as synonymous names, and therefore used indiscriminately,* appears to have been some relation of the Shakspeare family; he is one of the witnesses to Shakspeare's will, and is remembered in it in the following manner:-“ Item, I give and bequeath to Hamlet Sadler twenty-six shillings eight-pence, to buy him a ring." Mr. Sadler died at Stratford in 0ctober, 1624, and is supposed to have been born about the year 1550. His wife was buried there March 23, 1613-14, and Mr. Malone conjectures that our poet was
probably godfather to their son William, who was baptized at Stratford, February 175, 1797-8.+ In the Stratford Register are to be found entries of the baptism of
six of Mr. Sadler's children, four sons and two daughters, William being the last
An anecdote of Shakspeare, unappropriated to any particular period of his life, and which may with as much, if not more, probability, be ascribed to this stage of his biography, as to any subsequent era, has been preserved as a tradition at Stratford. Å drunken blacksmith, with a carbuncled face, reeling up to Shakspeare, as he was leaning over a mercer's door, exclaimed, with much vociferation,
u Now, Mr SAAKSPEARE, tell me, if you can,
The difference between a youth and a young man? " a question which immediately drew from our poet the following reply:
“ Thou son of fire, with thy face like a maple,
The same difference as between a scalded and a coddled apple.” A part of the wit of this anecdote, which, says Mr. Malone, "was related near fisty years ago to a gentleman at Stratford, by a person then above eighty years of age, whose father might have been contemporary with Shakspeare," turns upon the comparison between the blacksmith's face and a species of maple, the bark of which, according to Evelyn, is uncommonly rough, and the grain undulated and crisped into a variety of curls.
It would appear, indeed, from a book published in 1611, under the title of "Tarleton's Jeasts,” that this fancied resemblance was a frequent source of sarcastic wit; for it is there recorded of this once celebrated comedian, that, “as he was performing some part at the Bull in Bishopsgate-street, where the Queen's players oftentimes played,' while he was ‘kneeling down to ask his father's blessing,' a fellow in the gallery threw an apple at him, which hit him on the cheek. He immediately took up the apple, and, advancing to the audience, addressed them in these lines:
Gentlemen, this fellow, with his face of mapple,
So instead of an honest woman God hath sent him a drab.' “The people,' says the relator, ‘laughed heartily; for the fellow had a quean to his wise.'” I
Shakspeare was now, to all appearance, settled in the country; he was carrying on his own and his father's business; he was married and had a family around him; a situation in which the comforts of domestic privacy might be predicted within his reach, but which augured little of that splendid destiny, that universal fame and unparalleled celebrity, which awaited his future career.
In adherence, therefore, to the plan which we have announced, of connecting the circumstances of the times with our author's life, we have chosen this period of it, as admirably adapted for the introduction of a survey of country life and
• Thus in the will of Shakspeare we read, “I give and bequeath to Hamlet Sadler;" when at the close, Mr Sadler as a witness writes his christian naine Hamnet. See Malone's note on this subject, Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 135.
Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 159, vote ).
manners, its customs, diversions, and superstitions, as they existed in the age of Shakspeare. These, therefore, will be the subject of the immediately following chapters, in which it shall be our particular aim, among the numerous authorities to which we shall be obliged to have recourse, to draw from the poet himself those passages which throw light upon the topics as they rise to view ; an arrangegement which, when it shall have been carried, in all its various branches, through the work, will clearly show, that from Shakspeare, more than from any other poet, is to be collected the history of the times in which he lived, so far as that history relates to popular usage and amusement.
A View of Country-Lise during the Age of Shakspeare-Its Manners and Customs—Rural
It may be necessary, in the commencement of this chapter, to remark, that rural life, in the strict acceptation of the term, will be at present the exclusive object of attention ; a survey of the manners and customs of the metropolis, and of the superior orders of society, being deferred to a subsequent portion of the work.
No higher character will, therefore, be introduced in this sketch than the Country Squire, constituting according to Harrison, who wrote about the year 1580, one of the second order of gentlemen ; for these, he remarks,“ be divided into two sorts, as the baronie or estate of lords (which conteineth barons and all above that degree), and also those that be no lords, as knights, esquires, and simple gentlemen." * ' He has also furnished us, in another place, with a more precise definition of the character under consideration. “ Esquire (which we call commonlie squire) is a French word, and so much in Latine as Scutiger vel Armige, and such are all those which beare armes, or armoires, testimonies of their race from whence they be descended. They were at the first costerels or bearers of the armes of barons, or knights, and thereby being instructed in martiall knowledge, had that name for a dignitie given to distinguish them from common souldiers called Gregarii Milities when they were together in the field.” +
It is curious to mark the minute distinctions of gentlemen as detailed at this period, in the various books of Armorie or Heraldrie. The science, indeed, was cultivated, in the days of Shakspeare, with an enthusiasm which has never since been equalled, and the treatises on the subject were consequently multitudinous.
- If no gentleman, why then no arms,” # exclaims our poet; the aspirants, therefore, to this distinction were numerous, and in the “Gentleman's Academie; or, The Booke of St. Albans," published by Gervase Markham in 1595, which he says in the dedication was then absolutely "necessarie and behovefull to the accomplishment of the gentlemen of this Nourishing ile-in the heroicall and excellent study of Armory,” we find “ nine sortes” and “foure maner” of gentlemen expressly distinguished.
" Or nipe sortes of gentlemen : "First, there is a gentleman of ancestry and blood. " A gentleman of blood.
"A gentleman of coat-armour, and those are three, one of the kings badge, ar other or ki tuship, and the third of killing a pagan.
• Flolinshed's Chronicles, edit. of 1807, in six vol. 4to, vol. i. p. 276. • Holished, vol. i. p. 273,
Taming of the Shrew, act ii. sc I.
“A gentleman untriall : a gentleman Jpocrafet : a gentleman spiriluall and lemporali : there is also a gentleman spirituall and temporall.
" The divers maner of gentlemen : “ There are foure maner of gentlemen, to wil, one of auncestrie, which must needes bce of blood, and three coate-armour, and not of blood : as one a gentleman of coale-armour of the kings badge, which is of armes given him by an herauld : another is, to whome the king giveth a lordeshippe, to a yeoman by his letters pallents, and to his heires for ever, whereby hee may beare the coale-armour of the same lordeshippe : the thirde is, is a yeoman kill a gentleman, Pagan or Sarazen, whereby he may of right weare his coale-armour : and some holde opinion, that if one christian doe kill an other, and if it be lawfull ballell, they may weare each coalearmour, yet it is not so good as where the christian killes lhe Pagan."
We have also the virtues and vices proper or contrary to the character of the gentleman, the former of which are divided into five amorous and four sovereign :
the five amorous are these,- lordly of countenance, speech, wise in answere, persitte in government and cherefull to faithfulnes : the foure soveraigne are these fewe, -oathes are no swearing, patient in affliction, knowledge of his owne birth, and to feare to offend his soveraigne.' The vices which are likewise enumerated as nine, are all modifications of cowardice, lechery, and drunkenness.
* Of the very rare tract froin which these extracts are taken, the following is the entire title-page :“ The Gentleman's Academie ; or, the Booke of St. Albans : containing three most exact and excellent Bookes : the first of Hawking, the second of all the proper Termes of Hunting, and the last of Armorie : all compiled by Juliana Barnes, in the Yere from the Incarnation of Christ 1486. And now reduced into a better method, by G. M. London. Printed for Humphrey Lownes, and are to be sold at his shop in Paules Church-yard, 1595.” This curious edition of the Booke of St. Albans,” accommodated to the days of Shakspeare, contains 95 leaves 4to. and I shall add the interesting dedication :
“ To the Gentlemen of England :
and all good fellowship
Falconers. “Gentlemen, this booke, intreting of Hawking, Hunting, and Armorie; the originall copie of the which was doone at St. Albans, about what time the excellent arte of printing was first brought out of Germany, and practised here in England:, which booke, because of the antiquitie of the same, and the things therein contained, being so necessarie and behovefull to the accomplishment of the gentlemen of this flourishing ile, and others which take delight in either of these noble sports, or in that heroicall and excellent study of Armory, I have revived and brought again to light the same which was almost altogether forgotten, and either few or none of the perfect copies thereof remaining, except in their hands, who wel knowing the excellency of the worke, aud the rarenesse of the booke, smothered the same from the world, thereby to inrich themselves in private with the knowledge of these delights. Therfore I humbly crave pardon of the precise and judicial reader, if sometimes I use the the words of the ancient authour, in such plaine and homely English, as that time affoorded, not being so regardful, nor tying myself so strictly to deliver any thing in the proper and peculiar wordes and termes of arte, which for the
love I beare to antiquitie, and to the honest simplicitie of those former times, I observe as wel beseeming the subject, and no whit disgrace full to the worke, our tong being not of such puritie then, as at this day the poets of our age have raised it to : of whom, and in wliose behalf I wil say thus much, that our nation may only thinke herself beholding for the glory and exact compendiousnes of our language. Thus submitting our academy to your kind censures and friendly acceptance of the same, and requesting you to reade with indifferency, and correct with judgement ; I commit you to God.
G. M." From this dedication we learn that the original edition of the Booke of St. Albans was as scarce towards the close of the sixteenth century as at the present day ; that “few or none of the perfect copies” were to be obtained ; for that those were in the hands of Bibliomaniacs who (like too many now existing) “smother'd them from the world.” We have, therefore, every reason to conclude, from the rarenesse (and consequent value) of the booke” of 1486, that the copy of Juliana's work in the library of Shakspeare, was the edition by Markham of 1595. I shall just add, that the copy now before me, was purchased at the Roxburgh sale, for 91. 19s. 6d. ! It is, notwithstanding, probable, from the peculiarities attending Markham's re-impression, that this sum, great as it may appear, will be exceeded at some future sale.
The attachment of Gervase Markham to the subjects which employed the pen of his favourite Prioress, is very happily introduced by Mr. Dibdin, while alluding to the similar propensities of the modern Markham, Mr. Haslewood. “Up starts Florizel, and blows his bugle, at the annunciation of any work, new or old, upon the diversions of Hawking, Hunting, or Fishing ! Carry him through Camillo's cabinet of Dutch pictures, and you will see how instinctively, as it were, his eyes are fixed upon a sporting piece by Wouvermans. The hooded hawk, in his estimation, hath more charms than Guido's Madonna :- how he envies every rider upon his white horse !-how he burns to bestride the foremost steed, and to mingle in the fair throng, who turn their blue eyes to the searcely bluer expanse of heaven! Here he recognises Gervase Markham, spurring his courser; and there he fancies himself lifting Dame Juliana from her horse! Happy deception ! dear fiction ! says Florizel-while he throws his eyes in an opposite direction, and views every printed book upon the subject, from Barnes to Thornton.” Bibliomania, p. 729.730.
The following very amusing description of “the difference twixt Churles and Gentlemen,” will prove an
That the character of the gentleman was estimated, in the reign of Elizabeth, according to this definition of the Prioress of Sopewell, we have consequently the authority of Markham to assert, who tells us, that the study of his modernised edition of St. Albans was still “ behovefull to the accomplishment of the gentle man" of 1595.
The mansion-houses of the country-gentlemen were, in the days of Shakspeare, rapidly improving, both in their external appearance and in their interior comforts. During the reign of Henry the Eighth, and even of Mary, they were, if we except their size, little better than cottages, being thatched buildings, covered on the outside with the coarsest clay, and lighted only by lattices; when Harrison wrote, in the age of Elizabeth, though the greater number of manor-houses still remained framed of timber, yet he observes, “such as be latelie builded, are co monlie either of bricke or hard stone, or both; their roomes large and comelie, and houses of office further distant from their lodgings. The old timber mansions, too, were now covered with the finest plaster, which, says the historian, “ beside the delectable whitenesse of the stuffe itselfe, is laied on so even and smoothlie, as nothing in my judgement can be done with more exactnesse :" + and at the same time, the windows, interior decorations, and furniture were becoming greatly more useful and elegant.
“Or old time our countrie houses,” continues Harrison, “instead of glasse did use much lattise, and that made either of wicker or fine rists of oke in chekerwise. I read also that some of the better sort, in and before the lime of the Saxons, did make panels of horne insteed of glasse, and fix them in woodden calmes. But as borne in windows is now quite laid downe in everie place, so our lattises are also growne into lesse use, because glasse is come to be so plentifull, and within a verie lillle so good cheape is not belter than the other.—The wals of our houses on the inner sides in like sort be either banged with tapisterie, arras worke, or painted cloths, wherein either diverse histories, or hearbes, beasts, knols, and such like are stained, or else they are seeled with oke of our owne, wainescot brought hither out of the east countries, whereby the toomes are not a little commanded, made warme, and much more close than otherwise they would be. As for stooves we have not hitherto used them greatlie, yet doo they now begin to be made in diverse bouses of the gentrie.—Likewise in the houses of knights, gentlemen, &c. it is not geson to behold generallie their great provision of Turkie worke, pewler, brasse, fine linen, and
adequate specimen of Markham's edition, will be appropriate to the subject in the text, and may be compared with the accurate reprint of the edition of W. De 'Worde by Mr. Haslewood.
- There was never gentleman, nor churle ordained, but hee had father and mother : Adam and Eve had peither father nor mother, and therefore in the sonnes of Adam and Eve, first issued out both gentleman and churle. By the sonnes of Adam and Eve, to wit, Seth, Abell, and Caine, was the royall blood divided from the rude aod barbarous, a brother to murder his brother contrary to the law, what could be more uogentlemanly or vile ? in that, therefore, became Caine and al his ofspring churles, both by the curse of Gnd, and his owne father. Seth was made a gentleman through his father and mother's blessing, from whose loynes issued Noah, a gentleman by kind and linage. Noah had three sonnes truely begotten, two by the mother, named Cham and sem, and the third by the father called Japhet, even in these three, 'after the world's inundation, was both gentlenes and vilenes discerned, in Cham was grose barbarisme founde towardes his owne father in discovering his privities, and diriding from whence bee proceeded. Japhet the youngest gentlemaulike reproved his brother, which was to him reputed a vertue, where Cham for his abortive vilenes became a churle both through the curse of God and his father Noah. When Noah awoke, hee said to Cham his sonne knowest not thou how it is become of Caine the sonne of Adam, and of his churlelike blood, that for them all the worlde is drowned save eight persons, and wilt thou nowe bezin barbarisme againe, whereby the world in after ages shall be brought to consummation ? well upon thee it shall bee and so I pray the Great one it maye fall out, for to thee I give my curse, and withall the north part of the world, to draw thine habitation unto, for there shall it be where sorrow, care, colde, and as a mischievous and unrespected churle thou shalt live, which part of the earth shall be termed Europe, which is the country of churles. Japhet come hither my sonde, on thee will I raine my blessing, deare insteede of Setb : Adams sonne, I make thee a gentleman, and thy renowne shall stretch through the west part of the world, and to the end of the occident, where wealth and grace shall flourish, there shall be thine habitation, and thy dominion shall bee called Asia, which is the cuntrie of gentlemen. And Sem my soone, I make thee a gentleman also, to multiply the blood of Abell slaine so undeservedlie, to thee I give the orient, that part of the world which shall be called Africa, which is the country of temperateres : and thus divided Noah the world and his blessings. From the of-spring of gentlemanly Japhet came Abrahain, Moyses, Aaron and the Prophets, and also the king of the righi line of Mary, of whoản that only absolute beateman Jesus was borne, perfite God and perfite man, according to his manhood king of the lande of Juda and the Jewes, and gentleman by his mother Mary princesse of coat armor.” Fol. 44.
• Holinshed, vol. i. p. 316. * Ibid p. 315.