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Title: Shakespeare's England
Author: Winter, William, 1836-1917
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Shakespeare's England" ***

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Archive, American Libraries.



     SHAKESPEARE'S ENGLAND
          BY
     WILLIAM WINTER

     New Edition, Revised, with Illustrations

     _New York_
     THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
     LONDON: MACMILLAN & CO., LTD.
     1898

     _All rights reserved_

     Copyright, 1892,
     BY MACMILLAN AND CO.

     ------

     _Illustrated Edition,_
     COPYRIGHT, 1893,
     BY MACMILLAN AND CO.

     ------

     First published elsewhere.
     Set up and electrotyped by Macmillan & Co., April, 1892.
     Reprinted November, 1892; January, 1893.

     Illustrated edition, revised throughout, in crown 8v0, set up and
     Electrotyped June, 1893. Reprinted October, 1893; August, 1895;
     September, 1898.

     _Norwood Press_
     J. S. Cushing & Co.--Berwick & Smith
     Norwood Mass. U.S.A.



     To _Whitelaw Reid_


     IN HONOUR OF EXALTED VIRTUES
     ADORNING A LIFE OF
     NOBLE ACHIEVEMENT AND PATIENT KINDNESS
     AND IN REMEMBRANCE OF
     FAITHFUL AND GENTLE FRIENDSHIP
     I DEDICATE THIS BOOK


     ------

     _"Tum meae, si quid loquar audiendum,
     Vocis accedet bona pars"_



     PREFACE TO THE ILLUSTRATED EDITION OF SHAKESPEARE'S ENGLAND


_The favour with which this book has been received, alike in Great
Britain and America, is thought to warrant a reproduction of it with
pictorial embellishment, and accordingly it is offered in the present
form. I have revised the text for this reprint, and my friend Mr. George
P. Brett, of the house of Messrs. Macmillan and Company,--at whose
suggestion the pictorial edition was undertaken,--has supervised the
choice of pictures for its adornment. The approval that the work has
elicited is a source of deep gratification. It signifies that my
endeavour to reflect the gentle sentiment of English landscape and the
romantic character of English rural life has not proved altogether
in vain. It also shows that an appeal may confidently be
made,--irrespective of transitory literary fashions and of popular
caprice,--to the love of the ideal, the taste for simplicity, and the
sentiment of veneration. In these writings there is, I hope, a profound
practical deference to the perfect standard of style that is represented
by such illustrious exemplars as Addison, Goldsmith, Sterne, and Gray.
This frail fabric may perish: that standard is immortal; and whatever
merit this book may possess is due to an instinctive and passionate
devotion to the ideal denoted by those shining names. These sketches
were written out of love for the subject. The first book of them, called
_The Trip to England, _reprinted, with changes, from the _New York
Tribune, _was made for me, at the De Vinne Press. The subsequent growth
of the work is traced in the earlier Preface, herewith reprinted. The
title of _Shakespeare's England _was given to it when the first English
edition was published, by Mr. David Douglas, of Edinburgh. It has been
my privilege to make various tours of the British islands, since those
of _1877 _and _1882, _recorded here; and my later books, _Gray Days and
Gold, _and _Old Shrines and Ivy, _should be read in association with
this one, by those persons who care for a wider glimpse of the same
delightful field, in the same companionship, and especially by those who
like to follow the record of exploration and change in Shakespeare's
home. As to the question of accuracy,--and indeed, as to all other
questions,--it is my wish that this book may be judged by the text of
the present edition, which is the latest and the best._


     _W. W._

     June 6, 1893.



     PREFACE


_Beautiful and storied scenes that have soothed and elevated the mind
naturally inspire a feeling of gratitude. Prompted by that feeling the
present author has written this record of his rambles in England. It was
his wish, in dwelling upon the rural loveliness and the literary and
historical associations of that delightful realm, to afford sympathetic
guidance and useful suggestion to other American travellers who, like
himself, might be attracted to roam among the shrines of the mother
land. There is no pursuit more fascinating or in a high intellectual
sense more remunerative; since it serves to define and regulate
knowledge, to correct misapprehensions of fact, to broaden the mental
vision, to ripen and refine the Judgment and the taste, and to fill the
memory with ennobling recollections. These papers commemorate two visits
to England, the first made in _1877, _the second in _1882; _they
occasionally touch upon the same place or scene as observed at different
times; and especially they describe two distinct journeys, separated by
an interval of five years, through the region associated with the great
name of Shakespeare. Repetitions of the same reference, which now and
then occur, were found unavoidable by the writer, but it is hoped that
they will not be found tedious by the reader. Those who walk twice in
the same pathways should be pleased, and not pained, to find the same
wild-flowers growing beside them. The first American edition of this
work consisted of two volumes, published in _1879, 1881, _and _1884,
_called _The Trip to England _and _English Rambles. _The former book was
embellished with poetic illustrations by Joseph Jefferson, the famous
comedian, my life-long friend. The paper on _Shakespeare's
Home,--_written to record for American readers the dedication of the
Shakespeare Memorial at Stratford,_--_was first printed in _Harper's
Magazine, _in May _1879. _with delicate illustrative pictures from the
graceful pencil of Edwin Abbey. This compendium of the _Trip _and the
_Rambles, _with the title of _Shakespeare's England, _was first
published by David Douglas of Edinburgh. That title was chosen for the
reason that the book relates largely to Warwickshire and because it
depicts not so much the England of fact as the England created and
hallowed by the spirit of her poetry, of which Shakespeare is the soul.
Several months after the publication of _Shakespeare's England _the
writer was told of a work, published many years ago, bearing a similar
title, though relating to a different theme--the physical state of
England in Shakespeare's time. He had never heard of it and has never
seen it. The text for the present reprint has been carefully revised. To
his British readers the author would say that it is neither from lack of
sympathy with the happiness around him nor from lack of faith in the
future of his country that his writings have drifted toward the pathos
in human experience and toward the hallowing associations of an old
historic land. Temperament is the explanation of style: and he has
written thus of England because she has filled his mind with beauty and
his heart with mingled joy and sadness: and surely some memory of her
venerable ruins, her ancient shrines, her rustic glens, her gleaming
rivers, and her flower-spangled meadows will mingle with the last
thoughts that glimmer through his brain, when the shadows of the eternal
night are falling and the ramble of life is done._


     _W. W._

     1892.



          CONTENTS


     Preface  To Illustrated Edition

     Old  Preface

     CHAPTER I.
     The  Voyage

     CHAPTER II.
     Beauty Of England

     CHAPTER III.
     Great Historic Places

     CHAPTER IV.
     Rambles In London

     CHAPTER V.
     A Visit To Windsor

     CHAPTER VI.
     The Palace Of Westminster.

     CHAPTER VII.
     Warwick And Kenilworth

     CHAPTER VIII.
     First View Of Stratford-Upon-Avon

     CHAPTER IX.
     London Nooks And Corners

     CHAPTER X.
     Relics Of Lord Byron

     CHAPTER XI.
     Westminster Abbey

     CHAPTER XII.
     Shakespeare's Home

     CHAPTER XIII.
     Up to London

     CHAPTER XIV.
     Old Churches of London

     CHAPTER XV.
     Literary Shrines of London

     CHAPTER XVI.
     A Haunt Of Edmund Kean

     CHAPTER XVII.
     Stoke-Pogis and Thomas Gray

     CHAPTER XVIII.
     At The Grave of Coleridge

     CHAPTER XIX.
     On Barnet Battle-field

     CHAPTER XX.
     A Glimpse Of Canterbury

     CHAPTER XXI.
     The Shrines Of Warwickshire

     CHAPTER XXII.
     A Borrower of The Night



          ILLUSTRATIONS


     Portrait of William Winter--from a crayon by Arthur Jule Goodman

     The Anchor Inn

     Old House at Bridport

     Restoration House, Rochester

     Charing Cross

     Kensington Palace

     The Tower of London

     Old Water Gate

     Approach to Cheshire Cheese

     St. Mary-le-Strand

     Temple Church

     Gower's Monument

     Andrews's Monument

     Old Tabard Inn, Southwark

     Windsor Castle

     St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle

     Windsor Forest and Park

     The Curfew Tower

     The Sign of the Swan

     Westminster Hall

     The Mace

     Greenwich Hospital

     Queen Elizabeth's Cradle

     Warwick Castle

     Old Inn

     Washington Irving's Parlour

     From the Warwick Shield

     Holy Trinity Church, Stratford

     The Inglenook

     Approach to Shottery

     Distant View of Stratford

     Whitehall Gateway

     Lambeth Palace

     Dulwich College

     The Crown Inn, Dulwich

     Oriel Window

     From the Triforium, Westminster Abbey

     Chapel of Henry VII.

     Chapel of Edward the Confessor

     The Poets' Corner

     The North Ambulatory

     The Spaniards, Hampstead

     The Dome of St. Paul's

     The Grange

     Shakespeare's Birthplace

     Anne Hathaway's Cottage

     Charlecote

     Meadow Walk by the Avon

     Antique Font

     Monument

     Gable Window

     Peveril Peak

     St. Paul's, from Maiden Lane

     The Charter-house

     St. Giles', Cripplegate

     Sir John Crosby's Monument

     Gresham's Monument

     Goldsmith's House

     A Bit from Clare Court

     Fleet Street in 1780

     Gray's Inn Square

     Stoke-Pogis Church

     Old Church

     The White Hart

     Column on Barnet Battle-field

     Farm-house

     Falstaff Inn and West Gate, Canterbury

     Butchery Lane, Canterbury

     Flying-horse Inn, Canterbury

     Canterbury Cathedral

     Stratford-upon-Avon

     Stratford Church

     Washington Irving's Chair

     The Stratford Memorial

     Mary Arden's Cottage

     Church of St. Martin

     Westminster Abbey

     Middle Temple Lane



     _This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,_
     _This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,_
     _This other Eden, demi-paradise,_
     _This fortress built by Nature for herself, . . ._
     _This precious stone set in the silver sea, . . ._
     _This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England, . . ._
     _This land of such dear souls, this dear, dear land,_
     _Dear for her reputation through the world!_


          SHAKESPEARE.


          ------


     _All that I saw returns upon my view;_
     _All that I heard comes back upon my ear;_
     _All that I felt this moment doth renew._

     _Fair land! by Time's parental love made free,_
     _By Social Order's watchful arms embraced,_
     _With unexampled union meet in thee,_
     _For eye and mind, the present and the past;_
     _With golden prospect for futurity,_
     _If that be reverenced which ought to last._


          WORDSWORTH.



SHAKESPEARE'S ENGLAND


CHAPTER I

THE VOYAGE

1887

The coast-line recedes and disappears, and night comes down upon the
ocean. Into what dangers will the great ship plunge? Through what
mysterious waste of waters will she make her viewless path? The black
waves roll up around her. The strong blast fills her sails and whistles
through her creaking cordage. Overhead the stars shine dimly amid the
driving clouds. Mist and gloom close in the dubious prospect, and a
strange sadness settles upon the heart of the voyager--who has left his
home behind, and who now seeks, for the first time, the land, the homes,
and the manners of the stranger. Thoughts and images of the past crowd
thick upon his remembrance. The faces of absent friends rise before him,
whom, perhaps, he is destined nevermore to behold. He sees their smiles;
he hears their voices; he fancies them by familiar hearth-stones, in the
light of the evening lamps. They are very far away now; and already it
seems months instead of hours since the parting moment. Vain now the
pang of regret for misunderstandings, unkindness, neglect; for golden
moments slighted and gentle courtesies left undone. He is alone upon the
wild sea--all the more alone because surrounded with new faces of
unknown companions--and the best he can do is to seek his lonely pillow
and lie down with a prayer in his heart and on his lips. Never before
did he so clearly know--never again will he so deeply feel--the
uncertainty of human life and the weakness of human nature. Yet, as he
notes the rush and throb of the vast ship and the noise of the breaking
waves around her, and thinks of the mighty deep beneath, and the broad
and melancholy expanse that stretches away on every side, he cannot miss
the impression--grand, noble, and thrilling--of human courage, skill,
and power. For this ship is the centre of a splendid conflict. Man and
the elements are here at war; and man makes conquest of the elements by
using them as weapons against themselves. Strong and brilliant, the
head-light streams over the boiling surges. Lanterns gleam in the tops.
Dark figures keep watch upon the prow. The officer of the night is at
his post upon the bridge. Let danger threaten howsoever it may, it
cannot come unawares; it cannot subdue, without a tremendous struggle,
the brave minds and hardy bodies that are here arrayed to meet it. With
this thought, perhaps, the weary voyager sinks to sleep; and this is his
first night at sea.

There is no tediousness of solitude to him who has within himself
resources of thought and dream, the pleasures and pains of memory, the
bliss and the torture of imagination. It is best to have few
acquaintances--or none--on shipboard. Human companionship, at some
times, and this is one of them, distracts by its pettiness. The voyager
should yield himself to nature now, and meet his own soul face to face.
The routine of everyday life is commonplace enough, equally upon sea and
land. But the ocean is a continual pageant, filling and soothing the
mind with unspeakable peace. Never, in even the grandest words of
poetry, was the grandeur of the sea expressed. Its vastness, its
freedom, its joy, and its beauty overwhelm the mind. All things else
seem puny and momentary beside the life that this immense creation
unfolds and inspires. Sometimes it shines in the sun, a wilderness of
shimmering silver. Sometimes its long waves are black, smooth,
glittering, and dangerous. Sometimes it seems instinct with a superb
wrath, and its huge masses rise, and clash together, and break into
crests of foam. Sometimes it is gray and quiet, as if in a sullen sleep.
Sometimes the white mist broods upon it and deepens the sense of awful
mystery by which it is forever enwrapped. At night its surging billows
are furrowed with long streaks of phosphorescent fire; or, it may be,
the waves roll gently, under the soft light of stars; or all the waste
is dim, save where, beneath the moon, a glorious pathway, broadening out
to the far horizon, allures and points to heaven. One of the most
exquisite delights of the voyage, whether by day or night, is to lie
upon the deck in some secluded spot, and look up at the tall, tapering
spars as they sway with the motion of the ship, while over them the
white clouds float, in ever-changing shapes, or the starry
constellations drift, in their eternal march. No need now of books, or
newspapers, or talk! The eyes are fed by every object they behold. The
great ship, with all her white wings spread, careening like a tiny
sail-boat, dips and rises, with sinuous, stately grace. The clank of her
engines--fit type of steadfast industry and purpose--goes steadily on.
The song of the sailors--"Give me some time to blow the man down"--rises
in cheery melody, full of audacious, light-hearted thoughtlessness, and
strangely tinged with the romance of the sea. Far out toward the horizon
many whales come sporting and spouting along. At once, out of the
distant bank of cloud and mist, a little vessel springs into view, and
with convulsive movement--tilting up and down like the miniature barque
upon an old Dutch clock--dances across the vista and vanishes into
space. Soon a tempest bursts upon the calm; and then, safe-housed from
the fierce blast and blinding rain, the voyager exults over the stern
battle of winds and waters and the stalwart, undaunted strength with
which his ship bears down the furious floods and stems the gale. By and
by a quiet hour is given, when, met together with the companions of his
journey, he stands in the hushed cabin and hears the voice of prayer and
the hymn of praise, and, in the pauses, a gentle ripple of waves against
the ship, which now rocks lazily upon the sunny deep; and, ever and
anon, as she dips, he can discern through her open ports the shining sea
and the wheeling and circling gulls that have come out to welcome her to
the shores of the old world.


The present writer, when first he saw the distant and dim coast of
Britain, felt, with a sense of forlorn loneliness that he was a
stranger; but when last he saw that coast he beheld it through a mist of
tears and knew that he had parted from many cherished friends, from many
of the gentlest men and women upon the earth, and from a land henceforth
as dear to him as his own. England is a country which to see is to love.
As you draw near to her shores you are pleased at once with the air of
careless finish and negligent grace that everywhere overhangs the
prospect. The grim, wind-beaten hills of Ireland have first been
passed--hills crowned, here and there, with dark, fierce towers that
look like strongholds of ancient bandit chiefs, and cleft by dim valleys
that seem to promise endless mystery and romance, hid in their sombre
depths. Passed also is white Queenstown, with its lovely little bay, its
circle of green hillsides, and its valiant fort; and picturesque
Fastnet, with its gaily painted tower, has long been left behind. It is
off the noble crags of Holyhead that the voyager first observes with
what a deft skill the hand of art has here moulded nature's luxuriance
into forms of seeming chance-born beauty; and from that hour, wherever
in rural England the footsteps of the pilgrim may roam, he will behold
nothing but gentle rustic adornment, that has grown with the grass and
the roses--greener grass and redder roses than ever we see in our
western world! In the English nature a love of the beautiful is
spontaneous, and the operation of it is as fluent as the blowing of the
summer wind. Portions of English cities, indeed, are hard and harsh and
coarse enough to suit the most utilitarian taste; yet even in those
regions of dreary monotony the national love of flowers will find
expression, and the people, without being aware of it, will, in many odd
little ways, beautify their homes and make their surroundings pictorial,
at least to stranger eyes. There is a tone of rest and homelike comfort
even in murky Liverpool; and great magnificence is there--as well of
architecture and opulent living as of enterprise and action. "Towered
cities" and "the busy hum of men," however, are soon left behind by the
wise traveller in England. A time will come for those; but in his first
sojourn there he soon discovers the two things that are utterly to
absorb him--which cannot disappoint--and which are the fulfilment of all
his dreams. These things are--the rustic loveliness of the land and the
charm of its always vital and splendid antiquity. The green lanes, the
thatched cottages, the meadows glorious with wildflowers, the little
churches covered with dark-green ivy, the Tudor gables festooned with
roses, the devious footpaths that wind across wild heaths and long and
lonesome fields, the narrow, shining rivers, brimful to their banks and
crossed here and there with gray, moss-grown bridges, the stately elms
whose low-hanging branches droop over a turf of emerald velvet, the
gnarled beech-trees "that wreathe their old, fantastic roots so high,"
the rooks that caw and circle in the air, the sweet winds that blow from
fragrant woods, the sheep and the deer that rest in shady places, the
pretty children who cluster round the porches of their cleanly, cosy
homes, and peep at the wayfarer as he passes, the numerous and often
brilliant birds that at times fill the air with music, the brief, light,
pleasant rains that ever and anon refresh the landscape--these are some
of the everyday joys of rural England; and these are wrapped in a
climate that makes life one serene ecstasy. Meantime, in rich valleys or
on verdant slopes, a thousand old castles and monasteries, ruined or
half in ruins, allure the pilgrim's gaze, inspire his imagination,
arouse his memory, and fill his mind. The best romance of the past and
the best reality of the present are his banquet now; and nothing is
wanting to the perfection of the feast. I thought that life could have
but few moments of content in store for me like the moment--never to be
forgotten!--when, in the heart of London, on a perfect June day, I lay
upon the grass in the old Green Park, and, for the first time, looked up
to the towers of Westminster Abbey.



CHAPTER II

THE BEAUTY OF ENGLAND


It is not strange that Englishmen should be--as certainly they
are--passionate lovers of their country; for their country is, almost
beyond parallel, peaceful, gentle, and beautiful. Even in vast London,
where practical life asserts itself with such prodigious force, the
stranger is impressed, in every direction, with a sentiment of repose
and peace. This sentiment seems to proceed in part from the antiquity of
the social system here established, and in part from the affectionate
nature of the English people. Here are finished towns, rural regions
thoroughly cultivated and exquisitely adorned; ancient architecture,
crumbling in slow decay; and a soil so rich and pure that even in its
idlest mood it lights itself up with flowers, just as the face of a
sleeping child lights itself up with smiles. Here, also, are soft and
kindly manners, settled principles, good laws, wise customs--wise,
because rooted in the universal attributes of human nature; and, above
all, here is the practice of trying to live in a happy condition instead
of trying to make a noise about it. Here, accordingly, life is soothed
and hallowed with the comfortable, genial, loving spirit of home. It
would, doubtless, be easily possible to come into contact here with
absurd forms and pernicious abuses, to observe absurd individuals, and
to discover veins of sordid selfishness and of evil and sorrow. But the
things that first and most deeply impress the observer of England and
English society are their potential, manifold, and abundant sources of
beauty, refinement, and peace. There are, of course, grumblers. Mention
has been made of a person who, even in heaven, would complain that his
cloud was damp and his halo a misfit. We cannot have perfection; but the
man who could not be happy in England--in so far, at least, as happiness
depends upon external objects and influences--could not reasonably
expect to be happy anywhere.

Summer heat is perceptible for an hour or two each day, but it causes no
discomfort. Fog has refrained; though it is understood to be lurking in
the Irish sea and the English channel, and waiting for November, when it
will drift into town and grime all the new paint on the London houses.
Meantime, the sky is softly blue and full of magnificent bronze clouds;
the air is cool, and in the environs of the city is fragrant with the
scent of new-mown hay; and the grass and trees in the parks--those
copious and splendid lungs of London--are green, dewy, sweet, and
beautiful. Persons "to the manner born" were lately calling the season
"backward," and they went so far as to grumble at the hawthorne, as
being less brilliant than in former seasons. But, in fact, to the
unfamiliar sense, this tree of odorous coral has been delicious. We have
nothing comparable with it in northern America, unless, perhaps, it be
the elder, of our wild woods; and even that, with all its fragrance,
lacks equal charm of colour. They use the hawthorne, or some kindred
shrub, for hedges in this country, and hence their fields are seldom
disfigured with fences. As you ride through the land you see miles and
miles of meadow traversed by these green and blooming hedgerows, which
give the country a charm quite incommunicable in words. The green of the
foliage--enriched by an uncommonly humid air and burnished by the
sun--is in perfection, while the flowers bloom in such abundance that
the whole realm is one glowing pageant. I saw near Oxford, on the crest
of a hill, a single ray of at least a thousand feet of scarlet poppies.
Imagine that glorious dash of colour in a green landscape lit by the
afternoon sun! Nobody could help loving a land that woos him with such
beauty.

English flowers are exceptional for substance and pomp. The roses, in
particular--though some of them, it should be said, are of French
breeds--surpass all others. It may seem an extravagance to say, but it
is certainly true, that these rich, firm, brilliant flowers affect you
like creatures of flesh and blood. They are, in this respect, only to be
described as like nothing in the world so much as the bright lips and
blushing cheeks of the handsome English women who walk among them and
vie with them in health and loveliness. It is easy to perceive the
source of those elements of warmth and sumptuousness that are so
conspicuous in the results of English taste. It is a land of flowers.
Even in the busiest parts of London the people decorate their houses
with them, and set the sombre, fog-grimed fronts ablaze with scarlet and
gold. These are the prevalent colours--radically so, for they have
become national--and, when placed against the black tint with which this
climate stains the buildings, they have the advantage of a vivid
contrast that much augments their splendour. All London wears crape,
variegated with a tracery of white, like lace upon a pall. In some
instances the effect is splendidly pompous. There cannot be a grander
artificial object in the world than the front of St. Paul's cathedral,
which is especially notable for this mysterious blending of light and
shade. It is to be deplored that a climate which can thus beautify
should also destroy; but there can be no doubt that the stones of
England are steadily defaced by the action of the damp atmosphere.
Already the delicate carvings on the palace of Westminster are beginning
to crumble. And yet, if one might judge the climate by this glittering
July, England is a land of sunshine as well as of flowers. Light comes
before three o'clock in the morning, and it lasts, through a dreamy and
lovely gloaming, till nearly ten o'clock at night. The morning sky is
usually light blue, dappled with slate-coloured clouds. A few large
stars are visible then, lingering to outface the dawn. Cool winds
whisper, and presently they rouse the great, sleepy, old elms; and then
the rooks--which are the low comedians of the air in this region--begin
to grumble; and then the sun leaps above the horizon, and we sweep into
a day of golden, breezy cheerfulness and comfort, the like of which is
rarely or never known in northern America, between June and October.
Sometimes the whole twenty-four hours have drifted past, as if in a
dream of light, and fragrance, and music. In a recent moonlight time
there was scarce any darkness at all; and more than once I have lain
awake all night, within a few miles of Charing Cross, listening to a
twitter of birds that is like the lapse and fall of silver water. It
used to be difficult to understand why the London season should begin in
May and last through most of the summer; it is not difficult to
understand the custom now.

The elements of discontent and disturbance which are visible in English
society are found, upon close examination, to be merely superficial.
Underneath them there abides a sturdy, immutable, inborn love of
England. Those croakings, grumblings, and bickerings do but denote the
process by which the body politic frees itself from the headaches and
fevers that embarrass the national health. The Englishman and his
country are one; and when the Englishman complains against his country
it is not because he believes that either there is or can be a better
country elsewhere, but because his instinct of justice and order makes
him crave perfection in his own. Institutions and principles are, with
him, by nature, paramount to individuals; and individuals only possess
importance--and that conditional on abiding rectitude--who are their
representatives. Everything is done in England to promote the permanence
and beauty of the home; and the permanence and beauty of the home, by a
natural reaction, augment in the English people solidity of character
and peace of life. They do not dwell in a perpetual fret and fume as to
the acts, thoughts, and words of other nations: for the English there is
absolutely no public opinion outside of their own land: they do not live
for the sake of working, but they work for the sake of living; and, as
the necessary preparations for living have long since been completed,
their country is at rest. This is the secret of England's first, and
continuous, and last, and all-pervading charm and power for the
stranger--the charm and power to soothe.

The efficacy of endeavouring to make a country a united, comfortable,
and beautiful home for all its inhabitants,--binding every heart to the
land by the same tie that binds every heart to the fireside,--is
something well worthy to be considered, equally by the practical
statesman and the contemplative observer. That way, assuredly, lie the
welfare of the human race and all the tranquillity that human
nature--warped as it is by evil--will ever permit to this world. This
endeavour has, through long ages, been steadily pursued in England, and
one of its results--which is also one of its indications--is the vast
accumulation of what may be called home treasures in the city of London.
The mere enumeration of them would fill large volumes. The description
of them could not be completed in a lifetime. It was this copiousness of
historic wealth and poetic association, combined with the flavour of
character and the sentiment of monastic repose, that bound Dr. Johnson
to Fleet Street and made Charles Lamb such an inveterate lover of the
town. Except it be to correct a possible insular narrowness there can be
no need that the Londoner should travel. Glorious sights, indeed, await
him, if he journeys no further away than Paris; but, aside from
ostentation, luxury, gaiety, and excitement, Paris will give him nothing
that he may not find at home.

The great cathedral of Notre Dame will awe him; but not more than his
own Westminster Abbey. The grandeur and beauty of the Madeleine will
enchant him; but not more than the massive solemnity and stupendous
magnificence of St. Paul's. The embankments of the Seine will satisfy
his taste with their symmetrical solidity; but he will not deem them
superior in any respect to the embankments of the Thames. The Pantheon,
the Hotel des Invalides, the Luxembourg, the Louvre, the Tribunal of
Commerce, the Opera-House,--all these will dazzle and delight his eyes,
arousing his remembrances of history and firing his imagination of great
events and persons; but all these will fail to displace in his esteem
the grand Palace of Westminster, so stately in its simplicity, so strong
in its perfect grace! He will ride through the exquisite Park of
Monceau,--one of the loveliest spots in Paris,--and onward to the Bois
de Boulogne, with its sumptuous pomp of foliage, its romantic green
vistas, its many winding avenues, its hillside hermitage, its cascades,
and its affluent lakes whereon the white swans beat the water with their
joyous wings; but still his soul will turn, with unshaken love and loyal
preference to the sweetly sylvan solitude of the gardens of Kensington
and Kew. He will marvel in the museums of the Louvre, the Luxembourg,
and Cluny; and probably he will concede that of paintings, whether
ancient or modern, the French display is larger and finer than the
English; but he will vaunt the British Museum as peerless throughout the
world, and he will still prize his National Gallery, with its originals
of Hogarth, Reynolds, Gainsborough, and Turner, its spirited, tender,
and dreamy Murillos, and its dusky glories of Rembrandt. He will admire,
at the Théâtre Français, the photographic perfection of French acting;
but he will be apt to reflect that English dramatic art, if it sometimes
lacks finish, often has the effect of nature; and he will certainly
perceive that the playhouse itself is not superior to either Her
Majesty's Theatre or Covent Garden. He will luxuriate in the Champs
Élysées, in the superb Boulevards, in the glittering pageant of precious
jewels that blazes in the Rue de la Paix and the Palais Royal, and in
that gorgeous panorama of shop-windows for which the French capital is
unrivalled and famous; and he will not deny that, as to brilliancy of
aspect, Paris is prodigious and unequalled--the most radiant of
cities--the sapphire in the crown of Solomon. But, when all is seen,
either that Louis the Fourteenth created or Buonaparte pillaged,--when
he has taken his last walk in the gardens of the Tuileries, and mused,
at the foot of the statue of Caesar, on that Titanic strife of monarchy
and democracy of which France has seemed destined to be the perpetual
theatre,--sated with the glitter of showy opulence and tired with the
whirl of frivolous life he will gladly and gratefully turn again to his
sombre, mysterious, thoughtful, restful old London; and, like the Syrian
captain, though in the better spirit of truth and right, declare that
Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, are better than all the waters of
Israel.



CHAPTER III

GREAT HISTORIC PLACES


There is so much to be seen in London that the pilgrim scarcely knows
where to choose and certainly is perplexed by what Dr. Johnson called
"the multiplicity of agreeable consciousness." One spot to which I have
many times been drawn, and which the mention of Dr. Johnson instantly
calls to mind, is the stately and solemn place in Westminster Abbey
where that great man's ashes are buried. Side by side, under the
pavement of the Abbey, within a few feet of earth, sleep Johnson,
Garrick, Sheridan, Henderson, Dickens, Cumberland, and Handel. Garrick's
wife is buried in the same grave with her husband. Close by, some brass
letters on a little slab in the stone floor mark the last resting-place
of Thomas Campbell. Not far off is the body of Macaulay; while many a
stroller through the nave treads upon the gravestone of that astonishing
old man Thomas Parr, who lived in the reigns of nine princes
(1483-1635), and reached the great age of 152. All parts of Westminster
Abbey impress the reverential mind. It is an experience very strange and
full of awe suddenly to find your steps upon the sepulchres of such
illustrious men as Burke, Pitt, Fox, and Grattan; and you come, with a
thrill of more than surprise, upon such still fresh antiquity as the
grave of Anne Neville, the daughter of Warwick and queen of Richard the
Third. But no single spot in the great cathedral can so enthral the
imagination as that strip of storied stone beneath which Garrick,
Johnson, Sheridan, Henderson, Cumberland, Dickens, Macaulay, and Handel
sleep, side by side. This writer, when lately he visited the Abbey,
found a chair upon the grave of Johnson, and sat down there to rest and
muse. The letters on the stone are fast wearing away; but the memory of
that sturdy champion of thought can never perish, as long as the
votaries of literature love their art and honour the valiant genius that
battled--through hunger, toil, and contumely--for its dignity and
renown. It was a tender and right feeling that prompted the burial of
Johnson close beside Garrick. They set out together to seek their
fortune in the great city. They went through privation and trial hand in
hand. Each found glory in a different way; and, although parted
afterward by the currents of fame and wealth, they were never sundered
in affection. It was fit they should at last find their rest together,
under the most glorious roof that greets the skies of England.

Fortune gave me a good first day at the Tower of London. The sky
lowered. The air was very cold. The wind blew with angry gusts. The rain
fell, now and then, in a chill drizzle. The river was dark and sullen.
If the spirits of the dead come back to haunt any place they surely come
back to haunt that one; and this was a day for their presence. One dark
ghost seemed near, at every step--the ominous shade of the lonely Duke
of Gloster. The little room in which the princes are said to have been
murdered, by his command, was shown, and the oratory where king Henry
the Sixth is supposed to have met a violent death, and the council
chamber, in which Richard--after listening, in an ambush behind the
arras--denounced the wretched Hastings. The latter place is now used as
an armoury; but the same ceiling covers it that echoed the bitter
invective of Gloster and the rude clamour of his soldiers, when their
frightened victim was plucked forth and dragged downstairs, to be
beheaded on "a timber-log" in the courtyard. The Tower is a place for
such deeds, and you almost wonder that they do not happen still, in its
gloomy chambers. The room in which the princes were killed (if killed
indeed they were) is particularly grisly in aspect. It is an inner room,
small and dark. A barred window in one of its walls fronts a window on
the other side of the passage by which you approach it. This is but a
few feet from the floor, and perhaps the murderers paused to look
through it as they went to their hellish work upon the children of king
Edward. The entrance was indicated to a secret passage by which this
apartment could be approached from the foot of the Tower. In one gloomy
stone chamber the crown jewels are exhibited, in a large glass case. One
of the royal relics is a crown of velvet and gold that was made for poor
Anne Boleyn. You may pass across the courtyard and pause on the spot
where that miserable woman was beheaded, and you may walk thence over
the ground that her last trembling footsteps traversed, to the round
tower in which, at the close, she lived. Her grave is in the chancel of
the little antique church, close by. I saw the cell of Raleigh, and that
direful chamber which is scrawled all over with the names and emblems of
prisoners who therein suffered confinement and lingering agony, nearly
always ending in death; but I saw no sadder place than Anne Boleyn's
tower. It seemed in the strangest way eloquent of mute suffering. It
seemed to exhale grief and to plead for love and pity. Yet--what woman
ever had greater love than was lavished on her? And what woman ever
trampled more royally and recklessly upon human hearts?

The Tower of London is degraded by being put to commonplace uses and by
being exhibited in a commonplace manner. They use the famous White Tower
now as a store-house for arms, and it contains about one hundred
thousand guns, besides a vast collection of old armour and weapons. The
arrangement of the latter was made by J. R. Planché, the dramatic
author,--famous as an antiquarian and a herald. [That learned, able,
brilliant, and honoured gentleman died, May 29, 1880, aged 84.] Under
his tasteful direction the effigies and gear of chivalry are displayed
in such a way that the observer may trace the changes that war fashions
have undergone, through the reigns of successive sovereigns of England,
from the earliest period until now. A suit of mail worn by Henry the
Eighth is shown, and also a suit worn by Charles the First. The
suggestiveness of both figures is remarkable. In a room on the second
floor of the White Tower they keep many gorgeous oriental weapons, and
they show the cloak in which General Wolfe died, on the Plains of
Abraham. It is a gray garment, to which the active moth has given a
share of his assiduous attention. The most impressive objects to be seen
there, however, are the block and axe that were used in beheading the
Scotch lords, Kilmarnock, Balmerino, and Lovat, after the defeat of the
pretender, in 1746. The block is of ash, and there are big and cruel
dents upon it, showing that it was made for use rather than ornament. It
is harmless enough now, and this writer was allowed to place his head
upon it, in the manner prescribed for the victims of decapitation. The
door of Raleigh's bedroom is opposite to these baleful relics, and it is
said that his _History of the World _was written in the room in which
these implements are now such conspicuous objects of gloom.¹ The place
is gloomy and cheerless beyond expression, and great must have been the
fortitude of the man who bore, in that grim solitude, a captivity of
thirteen years--not failing to improve it by producing a book so
excellent for quaintness, philosophy, and eloquence. A "beef-eater,"
arrayed in a dark tunic, trousers trimmed with red, and a black velvet
hat adorned with bows of blue and red ribbon, precedes each group of
visitors, and drops information and the letter h, from point to point.
The centre of what was once the Tower green is marked with a brass
plate, naming Anne Boleyn and giving the date when she was there
beheaded. They found her body in an elm-wood box, made to hold arrows,
and it now rests, with the ashes of other noble sufferers, under the
stones of the church of St. Peter, about fifty feet from the place of
execution. The ghost of Anne Boleyn is said to haunt that part of the
Tower where she lived, and it is likewise whispered that the spectre of
Lady Jane Grey was seen, not long ago, on the anniversary of the day of
her execution [Obiit February 12, 1554], to glide out upon a balcony
adjacent to the room in which she lodged during nearly eight months, at
the last of her wasted, unfortunate, but gentle and noble life. [That
room was in the house of Thomas Brydges, brother and deputy of Sir John
Brydges, Lieutenant of the Tower, and its windows command an
unobstructed view of the Tower green, which was the place of the block.]
It could serve no good purpose to relate the particulars of those
visitations; but nobody doubts them--while he is in the Tower. It is a
place of mystery and horror, notwithstanding all that the practical
spirit of to-day has done to make it trivial and to cheapen its grim
glories by association with the commonplace.

¹ Many of these relics have since been disposed in a different
way.--Raleigh was incarcerated in various parts of the Tower, in the
course of his several imprisonments.



CHAPTER IV

RAMBLES IN LONDON


All old cities get rich in association, as a matter of course and
whether they will or no; but London, by reason of its great extent, as
well as its great antiquity, is richer in association than any modern
place on earth. The stranger scarcely takes a step without encountering
a new object of interest. The walk along the Strand and Fleet Street, in
particular, is continually on storied ground. Old Temple Bar still
stands (July 1877), though "tottering to its fall," and marks the
junction of the two streets. The statues of Charles the First and
Charles the Second on its western front would be remarkable anywhere, as
characteristic portraits. You stand beside that arch and quite forget
the passing throng, and take no heed of the tumult around, as you think
of Johnson and Boswell leaning against the Bar after midnight in the
far-off times and waking the echoes of the Temple Garden with their
frolicsome laughter. The Bar is carefully propped now, and they will
nurse its age as long as they can; but it is an obstruction to
travel--and it must disappear. (It was removed in the summer of 1878.)
They will probably set it up, newly built, in another place. They have
left untouched a little piece of the original scaffolding built around
St. Paul's; and that fragment of decaying wood may still be seen, high
upon the side of the cathedral. The Rainbow, the Mitre, the Cheshire
Cheese, Dolly's Chop-House, the Cock, and the Round Table--taverns or
public-houses that were frequented by the old wits--are still extant
(1877). The Cheshire Cheese is scarcely changed from what it was when
Johnson, Goldsmith, and their comrades ate beefsteak pie and drank
porter there, and the Doctor "tossed and gored several persons," as it
was his cheerful custom to do. The benches in that room are narrow,
incommodious, penitential; mere ledges of well-worn wood, on which the
visitor sits bolt upright, in difficult perpendicular; but there is,
probably, nothing on earth that would induce the owner to alter
them--and he is right.

Illustration: "Approach to Cheshire Cheese."

The conservative principle in the English mind, if it has saved some
trash, has saved more treasure. At the foot of Buckingham Street, in the
Strand,--where was situated an estate of George Villiers, first Duke of
Buckingham, assassinated in 1628, whose tomb may be seen in the chapel
of Henry the Seventh in Westminster Abbey,--still stands the slowly
crumbling ruin of the old Water Gate, so often mentioned as the place
where accused traitors were embarked for the Tower. The river, in former
times, flowed up to that gate, but the land along the margin of the
Thames has been redeemed, and the magnificent Victoria and Albert
embankments now border the river for a long distance on both sides. The
Water Gate, in fact, stands in a little park on the north bank of the
Thames. Not far away is the Adelphi Terrace, where Garrick lived and
died (Obiit January 20, 1779, aged 63), and where, on October 1, 1822,
his widow expired, aged 98. The house of Garrick is let in "chambers"
now. If you walk up the Strand towards Charing Cross you presently come
near to the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, which is one of the
works of James Gibbs, a pupil of Sir Christopher Wren, and entirely
worthy of the master's hand. The fogs have stained that building with
such a deft touch as shows the caprice of nature to be often better than
the best design of art. Nell Gwyn's name is connected with St. Martin.
Her funeral occurred in that church, and was pompous, and no less a
person than Tenison (afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury) preached the
funeral sermon.¹

¹ This was made the occasion of a complaint against him, to Queen Mary,
who gently expressed her unshaken confidence in his goodness and truth.

Illustration: "Temple Church."

That prelate's dust reposes in Lambeth church, which can be seen, across
the river, from this part of Westminster. If you walk down the Strand,
through Temple Bar, you presently reach the Temple; and there is no
place in London where the past and the present are so strangely
confronted as they are here. The venerable church, so quaint with its
cone-pointed turrets, was sleeping in the sunshine when first I saw it;
sparrows were twittering around its spires and gliding in and out of the
crevices in its ancient walls; while from within a strain of organ
music, low and sweet, trembled forth, till the air became a benediction
and every common thought and feeling was purified away from mind and
heart. The grave of Goldsmith is close to the pathway that skirts this
church, on a terrace raised above the foundation of the building and
above the little graveyard of the Templars that nestles at its base. As
I stood beside the resting-place of that sweet poet it was impossible
not to feel both grieved and glad: grieved at the thought of all he
suffered, and of all that the poetic nature must always suffer before it
will utter its immortal music for mankind: glad that his gentle spirit
found rest at last, and that time has given him the crown he would most
have prized--the affection of true hearts. A gray stone, coffin-shaped
and marked with a cross,--after the fashion of the contiguous tombs of
the Templars,--is imposed upon his grave.

Illustration: "St. Mary-le-Strand--The Strand."

One surface bears the inscription, "Here lies Oliver Goldsmith"; the
other presents the dates of his birth and death. (Born Nov. 10, 1728;
died April 4, 1774.) I tried to call up the scene of his burial, when,
around the open grave, on that tearful April evening, Johnson, Burke,
Reynolds, Beauclerk, Boswell, Davies, Kelly, Palmer, and the rest of
that broken circle, may have gathered to witness

     "The duties by the lawn-robed prelate paid,
     And the last rites that dust to dust conveyed."

No place could be less romantic than Southwark is now; but there are few
places in England that possess a greater charm for the literary pilgrim.
Shakespeare lived there, and it was there that he wrote for a theatre
and made a fortune. Old London Bridge spanned the Thames at this point,
in those days, and was the only road to the Surrey side of the river.
The theatre stood near the end of the bridge and was thus easy of access
to the wits and beaux of London. No trace of it now remains; but a
public-house called the Globe, which was its name, is standing near, and
the old church of St. Saviour--into which Shakespeare must often have
entered--still braves the storm and still resists the encroachments of
time and change. In Shakespeare's day there were houses on each side of
London Bridge; and as he walked on the bank of the Thames he could look
across to the Tower, and to Baynard Castle, which had been the residence
of Richard, Duke of Gloster, and could see, uplifted high in air, the
spire of old St. Paul's. The borough of Southwark was then but thinly
peopled. Many of its houses, as may be seen in an old picture of the
city, were surrounded by fields or gardens; and life to its inhabitants
must have been comparatively rural. Now it is packed with buildings,
gridironed with railways, crowded with people, and to the last degree
resonant and feverish with action and effort. Life swarms, traffic
bustles, and travel thunders all round the cradle of the British drama.
The old church of St. Saviour alone preserves the sacred memory of the
past. I made a pilgrimage to that shrine, with Arthur Sketchley (George
Rose), one of the kindliest humourists in England. (Obiit November 13,
1882.) We embarked at Westminster Bridge and landed close by the church
in Southwark, and we were so fortunate as to get permission to enter it
without a guide. The oldest part of it is the Lady chapel--which, in
English cathedrals, is almost invariably placed behind the choir.
Through this we strolled, alone and in silence. Every footstep there
falls upon a grave. The pavement is one mass of gravestones; and through
the tall, stained windows of the chapel a solemn light pours in upon the
sculptured names of men and women who have long been dust. In one corner
is an ancient stone coffin--a relic of the Roman days of Britain. This
is the place in which Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, in the
days of cruel Queen Mary, held his ecclesiastical court and doomed many
a dissentient devotee to the rack and the fagot. Here was condemned John
Rogers,--afterwards burnt at the stake, in Smithfield. Queen Mary and
Queen Elizabeth may often have entered this chapel. But it is in the
choir that the pilgrim pauses with most of reverence; for there, not far
from the altar, he stands at the graves of Edmund Shakespeare, John
Fletcher, and Philip Massinger.

Illustration: "Gower's Monument."

They apparently rest almost side by side, and only their names and the
dates of their death are cut in the tablets that mark their sepulchres.
Edmund Shakespeare, the younger brother of William, was an actor in his
company, and died in 1607, aged twenty-seven. The great poet must have
stood at that grave, and suffered and wept there; and somehow the lover
of Shakespeare comes very near to the heart of the master when he stands
in that place. Massinger was buried there, March 18, 1638,--the parish
register recording him as "a stranger." Fletcher--of the Beaumont and
Fletcher alliance--was buried there, in 1625: Beaumont's grave is in the
Abbey. The dust of Henslowe the manager also rests beneath the pavement
of St. Saviour's. Bishop Gardiner was buried there, with pompous
ceremonial, in 1555,--but subsequently his remains were removed to the
cathedral at Winchester. The great prelate Lancelot Andrews,
commemorated by Milton, found his grave there, in 1626. The royal poet
King James the First, of Scotland, was married there, in 1423, to Jane,
daughter of the Earl of Somerset and niece of Cardinal Beaufort. In the
south transept of the church is the tomb of John Gower, the old
poet--whose effigy, carved and painted, reclines upon it and is not
attractive. A formal, severe aspect he must have had, if he resembled
that image. The tomb has been moved from the spot where it first
stood--a proceeding made necessary by a fire that destroyed part of the
old church. It is said that Gower caused the tomb to be erected during
his lifetime, so that it might be in readiness to receive his bones. The
bones are lost, but the memorial remains--sacred to the memory of the
father of English song. This tomb was restored by the Duke of
Sutherland, in 1832.

Illustration: "Andrews Monument."

It is enclosed by a little grill made of iron spears, painted brown and
gilded at their points. I went into the new part of the church, and,
alone, knelt in one of the pews and long remained there, overcome with
thoughts of the past and of the transient, momentary nature of this our
earthly life and the shadows that we pursue.

One object of merriment attracts a passing glance in that old church.
There is a tomb in a corner of it that commemorates Dr. Lockyer, a maker
of patent physic, in the time of Charles the Second. This elaborate
structure presents an effigy of the doctor, together with a sounding
epitaph which declares that

"His virtues and his pills are so well known
That envy can't confine them under stone."

Shakespeare once lived in Clink Street, in the borough of Southwark.
Goldsmith practised medicine there. Chaucer came there, with his
Canterbury Pilgrims, and lodged at the Tabard inn, which has
disappeared. It must have been a romantic region in the old times. It is
anything but romantic now.

Illustration: "Hanging Lantern"

Illustration: "Old Tabard Inn, Southwark."



CHAPTER V

A VISIT TO WINDSOR


If the beauty of England were only superficial it would produce only a
superficial effect. It would cause a passing pleasure and would be
forgotten. It certainly would not--as now in fact it does--inspire a
deep, joyous, serene and grateful contentment, and linger in the mind, a
gracious and beneficent remembrance. The conquering and lasting potency
of it resides not alone in loveliness of expression but in loveliness of
character. Having first greatly blessed the British islands with the
natural advantages of position, climate, soil, and products, nature has
wrought their development and adornment as a necessary consequence of
the spirit of their inhabitants. The picturesque variety and pastoral
repose of the English landscape spring, in a considerable measure, from
the imaginative taste and the affectionate gentleness of the English
people. The state of the country, like its social constitution, flows
from principles within, which are constantly suggested, and it steadily
comforts and nourishes the mind with a sense of kindly feeling, moral
rectitude, solidity, and permanence.

Illustration: "Windsor Castle."

Thus in the peculiar beauty of England the ideal is made the actual--is
expressed in things more than in words, and in things by which words are
transcended. Milton's "L'Allegro," fine as it is, is not so fine as the
scenery--the crystallised, embodied poetry--out of which it arose. All
the delicious rural verse that has been written in England is only the
excess and superflux of her own poetic opulence: it has rippled from the
hearts of her poets just as the fragrance floats away from her hawthorn
hedges. At every step of his progress the pilgrim through English scenes
is impressed with this sovereign excellence of the accomplished fact, as
contrasted with any words that can be said in its celebration.

Among representative scenes that are eloquent with this instructive
meaning,--scenes easily and pleasurably accessible to the traveller in
what Dickens expressively called "the green, English summer
weather,"--is the region of Windsor. The chief features of it have often
been described; the charm that it exercises can only be suggested. To
see Windsor, moreover, is to comprehend as at a glance the old feudal
system, and to feel in a profound and special way the pomp of English
character and history. More than this: it is to rise to the ennobling
serenity that always accompanies broad, retrospective contemplation of
the current of human affairs. In this quaint, decorous town--nestled at
the base of that mighty and magnificent castle which has been the home
of princes for more than five hundred years--the imaginative mind
wanders over vast tracts of the past and beholds as in a mirror the
pageants of chivalry, the coronations of kings, the strife of sects, the
battles of armies, the schemes of statesmen, the decay of transient
systems, the growth of a rational civilisation, and the everlasting
march of thought. Every prospect of the region intensifies this
sentiment of contemplative grandeur. As you look from the castle walls
your gaze takes in miles and miles of blooming country, sprinkled over
with little hamlets, wherein the utmost stateliness of learning and rank
is gracefully commingled with all that is lovely and soothing in rural
life. Not far away rise the "antique towers" of Eton--

     "Where grateful science still adores
     Her Henry's holy shade."

It was in Windsor Castle that her Henry was born; and there he often
held his court; and it is in St. George's chapel that his ashes repose.
In the dim distance stands the church of Stoke-Pogis, about which Gray
used to wander,

     "Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade."

You recognise now a deeper significance than ever before in the "solemn
stillness" of the incomparable Elegy. The luminous twilight mood of that
immortal poem--its pensive reverie and solemn passion--is inherent in
the scene; and you feel that it was there, and there only, that the
genius of its exceptional author--austerely gentle and severely pure,
and thus in perfect harmony with its surroundings--could have been moved
to that sublime strain of inspiration and eloquence. Near at hand, in
the midst of your reverie, the mellow organ sounds from the chapel of
St. George, where, under "fretted vault" and over "long-drawn aisle,"
depend the ghostly, mouldering banners of ancient knights--as still as
the bones of the dead-and-gone monarchs that crumble in the crypt below.

Illustration: "St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle."

In this church are many of the old kings and nobles of England. The
handsome and gallant Edward the Fourth here found his grave; and near it
is that of the accomplished Hastings--his faithful friend, to the last
and after. Here lies the dust of the stalwart, impetuous, and savage
Henry the Eighth, and here, at midnight, by the light of torches, they
laid beneath the pavement the mangled body of Charles the First. As you
stand on Windsor ramparts, pondering thus upon the storied past and the
evanescence of "all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave," your eyes
rest dreamily on green fields far below, through which, under tall elms,
the brimming and sparkling river flows on without a sound, and in which
a few figures, dwarfed by distance, flit here and there, in seeming
aimless idleness; while, warned homeward by impending sunset, the
chattering birds circle and float around the lofty towers of the castle;
and delicate perfumes of seringa and jasmine are wafted up from dusky,
unknown depths at the base of its ivied steep. At such an hour I stood
on those ramparts and saw the shy villages and rich meadows of fertile
Berkshire, all red and golden with sunset light; and at such an hour I
stood in the lonely cloisters of St. George's chapel, and heard the
distant organ sob, and saw the sunlight fade up the gray walls, and felt
and knew the sanctity of silence. Age and death have made this church
illustrious; but the spot itself has its own innate charm of mystical
repose.

     "No use of lanterns; and in one place lay
     Feathers and dust to-day and yesterday."

Illustration: "Windsor Forest and Park."

The drive from the front of Windsor Castle is through a broad and
stately avenue, three miles in length, straight as an arrow and level as
a standing pool; and this white highway through the green and fragrant
sod is sumptuously embowered, from end to end, with double rows of
magnificent elms and oaks. The Windsor avenue, like the splendid
chestnut grove at Bushey Park, long famous among the pageants of rural
England, has often been described. It is after leaving this that the
rambler comes upon the rarer beauties of Windsor Park and Forest. From
the far end of the avenue--where, in a superb position, the equestrian
statue of King George the Third rises on its massive pedestal of natural
rock,--the road winds away, through shaded dell and verdant glade, past
great gnarled beeches and under boughs of elm, and yew, and oak, till
its silver thread is lost in the distant woods. At intervals a sinuous
pathway strays off to some secluded lodge, half hidden in foliage--the
property of the Crown, and the rustic residence of a scion of the royal
race. In one of those retreats dwelt poor old George the Third, in the
days of his mental darkness; and the memory of the agonising king seems
still to cast a shadow on the mysterious and melancholy house. They show
you, under glass, in one of the lodge gardens, an enormous grapevine,
owned by the Queen--a vine which, from its single stalwart trunk,
spreads its teeming branches, laterally, more than a hundred feet in
each direction. So come use and thrift, hand in hand with romance! Many
an aged oak is passed, in your progress, round which, "at still
midnight," Herne the Hunter might yet take his ghostly prowl, shaking
his chain "in a most hideous and dreadful manner." The wreck of the
veritable Herne's Oak, it is said, was rooted out, together with other
ancient and decayed trees, in the time of George the Third, and in
somewhat too literal fulfilment of his Majesty's misinterpreted command.

Illustration: "The Curfew Tower."

This great park is fourteen miles in circumference and contains nearly
four thousand acres, and many of the youngest trees that adorn it are
more than one hundred and fifty years old. Far in its heart you stroll
by Virginia Water--an artificial lake, but faultless in its gentle
beauty--and perceive it so deep and so breezy that a full-rigged
ship-of-war, with armament, can navigate its wind-swept, curling
billows. This lake was made by that sanguinary Duke of Cumberland who
led the English forces at Culloden. In the dim groves that fringe its
margin are many nests wherein pheasants are bred, to fall by the royal
shot and to supply the royal table: those you may contemplate but not
approach. At a point in your walk, sequestered and lonely, they have set
up and skilfully disposed the fragments of a genuine ruined temple,
brought from the remote East--relic perchance of "Tadmor's marble
waste," and certainly a most solemn memorial of the morning twilight of
time. Broken arch, storm-stained pillar, and shattered column are here
shrouded with moss and ivy; and should you chance to see them as the
evening shadows deepen and the evening wind sighs mournfully in the
grass your fancy will not fail to drink in the perfect illusion that one
of the stateliest structures of antiquity has slowly crumbled where now
its fragments remain.

"Quaint" is a descriptive epithet that has been much abused, but it may,
with absolute propriety, be applied to Windsor. The devious little
streets there visible, and the carved and timber-crossed buildings,
often of great age, are uncommonly rich in the expressiveness of
imaginative character. The emotions and the fancy, equally with the
sense of necessity and the instinct of use, have exercised their
influence and uttered their spirit in the shaping and adornment of the
town. While it constantly feeds the eye--with that pleasing irregularity
of lines and forms which is so delicious and refreshing--it quite as
constantly nurtures the sense of romance that ought to play so large a
part in our lives, redeeming us from the tyranny of the commonplace and
intensifying all the high feelings and noble aspirations that are
possible to human nature. England contains many places like Windsor;
some that blend in even richer amplitude the elements of quaintness,
loveliness, and magnificence. The meaning of them all is the same: that
romance, beauty, and gentleness are forever vital; that their forces are
within our souls, and ready and eager to find their way into our
thoughts, actions, and circumstances, and to brighten for every one of
us the face of every day; that they ought neither to be relegated to the
distant and the past nor kept for our books and day-dreams alone;
but--in a calmer and higher mood than is usual in this age of universal
mediocrity, critical scepticism, and miscellaneous tumult--should be
permitted to flow forth into our architecture, adornments, and customs,
to hallow and preserve our antiquities, to soften our manners, to give
us tranquillity, patience, and tolerance, to make our country loveable
for our own hearts, and so to enable us to bequeath it, sure of love and
reverence, to succeeding ages.

Illustration: "The Sign of the Swan."



CHAPTER VI

THE PALACE OF WESTMINSTER


The American who, having been a careful and interested reader of English
history, visits London for the first time, half expects to find the
ancient city in a state of mild decay; and consequently he is a little
startled at first, upon realising that the present is quite as vital as
ever the past was, and that London antiquity is, in fact, swathed in the
robes of everyday action and very much alive. When, for example, you
enter Westminster Hall--"the great hall of William Rufus"--you are
beneath one of the most glorious canopies in the world--one that was
built by Richard the Second, whose grave, chosen by himself, is in the
Abbey, just across the street from where you stand. But this old hall is
now only a vestibule to the palace of Westminster. The Lords and the
Commons of England, on their way to the Houses of Parliament, pass every
day over the spot on which Charles the First was tried and condemned,
and on which occurred the trial of Warren Hastings.

Illustration: "Westminster Hall."

It is a mere thoroughfare--glorious though it be, alike in structure and
historic renown. The Palace Yard, near by, was the scene of the
execution of Sir Walter Raleigh. In Bishopsgate Street stands Crosby
House; the same to which, in Shakespeare's tragedy, the Duke of Gloster
requests the retirement of Lady Anne. It is a restaurant now, and you
may dine in the veritable throne-room of Richard the Third. The house of
Cardinal Wolsey in Fleet Street is now a shop. Milton once lived in
Golden Lane, and Golden Lane was a sweet and quiet spot. It is a dingy
and dismal street now, and the visitor is glad to get out of it. To-day
makes use of yesterday, all the world over. It is not in London,
certainly, that you find anything--except old churches--mouldering in
silence, solitude, and neglect.

Those who see every day during the Parliamentary session the mace
that is borne through the lobby of the House of Commons, although they
are obliged, on every occasion, to uncover as it passes, do not,
probably, view that symbol with much interest. Yet it is the same mace
that Oliver Cromwell insulted¹ when he dissolved the Parliament and
cried out, "Take away that bauble!"

¹ An error. The House of Commons has had three maces. The first one
disappeared after the judicial slaughter of Charles the First. The
Cromwell mace was carried to the island of Jamaica, and is there
preserved in a museum at Kingston. The third is the one now in use.

Illustration: "The Mace."

I saw it one day, on its passage to the table of the Commons, and was
glad to remove the hat of respect to what it signifies--the power and
majesty of the free people of England. The Speaker of the House was
walking behind it, very grand in his wig and gown, and the members
trooped in at his heels to secure their places by being present at the
opening prayer. A little later I was provided with a seat, in a dim
corner, in that august assemblage of British senators, and could observe
at ease their management of the public business. The Speaker was on his
throne; the mace was on its table; the hats of the Commons were on their
heads; and over this singular, animated, impressive scene the waning
light of a summer afternoon poured softly down, through the high,
stained, and pictured windows of one of the most symmetrical halls in
the world. It did not happen to be a day of excitement. The Irish
members had not then begun to impede the transaction of business, for
the sake of drawing attention to the everlasting wrongs of Ireland. Yet
it was a lively day. Curiosity on the part of the Opposition and a
respectful incertitude on the part of Her Majesty's ministers were the
prevailing conditions. I had never before heard so many questions
asked--outside of the French grammar--and asked to so little purpose.
Everybody wanted to know, and nobody wanted to tell. Each inquirer took
off his hat when he rose to ask, and put it on again when he sat down to
be answered. Each governmental sphinx bared his brow when he emerged to
divulge, and covered it again when he subsided without divulging. The
superficial respect of these interlocutors for each other steadily
remained, however, of the most deferential and considerate description;
so that--without discourtesy--it was impossible not to think of Byron's
"mildest mannered man that ever scuttled ship or cut a throat."
Underneath this velvety, purring, conventional manner the observer could
readily discern the fires of passion, prejudice, and strong antagonism.
They make no parade in the House of Commons. They attend to their
business. And upon every topic that is brought before their notice they
have definite ideas, strong convictions, and settled purposes. The topic
of Army Estimates upon this day seemed especially to arouse their
ardour. Discussion of this was continually diversified by cries of "Oh!"
and of "Hear!" and of "Order!" and sometimes those cries savoured more
of derision than of compliment. Many persons spoke, but no person spoke
well. An off-hand, matter-of-fact, shambling method of speech would seem
to be the fashion in the British House of Commons. I remembered the
anecdote that De Quincey tells, about Sheridan and the young member who
quoted Greek. It was easy to perceive how completely out of place the
sophomore orator would be, in that assemblage. Britons like better to
make speeches than to hear them, and they will never be slaves to bad
oratory. The moment a windy gentleman got the floor, and began to read a
manuscript respecting the Indian Government, as many as forty Commons
arose and noisily walked out of the House. Your pilgrim likewise hailed
the moment of his deliverance and was glad to escape to the open air.

Books have been written to describe the Palace of Westminster; but it is
observable that this structure, however much its magnificence deserves
commemorative applause, is deficient, as yet, in the charm of
association. The old Palace of St. James, with its low, dusky walls, its
round turrets, and its fretted battlements, is more impressive, because
history has freighted it with meaning and time has made it beautiful.
But the Palace of Westminster is a splendid structure. It covers eight
acres of ground, on the bank of the Thames; it contains eleven
quadrangles and five hundred rooms; and when its niches for statuary
have been filled it will contain two hundred and twenty-six statues. The
monuments in St. Stephen's Hall--into which you pass from Westminster
Hall, which has been incorporated into the Palace and is its only
ancient and therefore its most interesting feature--indicate, very
eloquently, what a superb art gallery this will one day become. The
statues are the images of Selden, Hampden, Falkland, Clarendon, Somers,
Walpole, Chatham, Mansfield, Burke, Fox, Pitt, and Grattan. Those of
Mansfield and Grattan present, perhaps, the most of character and power,
making you feel that they are indubitably accurate portraits, and
winning you by the charm of personality. There are statues, also, in
Westminster Hall, commemorative of the Georges, William and Mary, and
Anne; but it is not of these you think, nor of any local and everyday
object, when you stand beneath the wonderful roof of Richard the Second.
Nearly eight hundred years "their cloudy wings expand" above that
fabric, and copiously shed upon it the fragrance of old renown. Richard
the Second was deposed there: Cromwell was there installed Lord
Protector of England: John Fisher, Sir Thomas More, and Strafford were
there condemned: and it was there that the possible, if not usual,
devotion of woman's heart was so touchingly displayed by her

     "Whose faith drew strength from death,
     And prayed her Russell up to God."

No one can realise, without personal experience, the number and variety
of pleasures accessible to the resident of London. These may not be
piquant to him who has them always within his reach. I met with several
residents of the British capital who had always intended to visit the
Tower but had never done so. But to the stranger they possess a constant
and keen fascination. The Derby this year [1877] was thought to be
comparatively a tame race; but I know of one spectator who saw it from
the top of the grand stand and who thought that the scene it presented
was wonderfully brilliant. The sky had been overcast with dull clouds
till the moment when the race was won; but just as Archer, rising in his
saddle, lifted his horse forward and gained the goal alone, the sun
burst forth and shed upon the downs a sheen of gold, and lit up all the
distant hills, and all the far-stretching roads that wind away from the
region of Epsom like threads of silver through the green.
Carrier-pigeons were instantly launched off to London, with the news of
the victory of Silvio. There was one winner on the grand stand who had
laid bets on Silvio, for no other reason than because that horse bore
the prettiest name in the list. The Derby, like Christmas, comes but
once a year; but other allurements are almost perennial.

Illustration: "Greenwich Hospital."

Greenwich, for instance, with its white-bait dinner, invites the epicure
during the best part of the London season. A favourite tavern is the
Trafalgar--in which each room is named after some magnate of the old
British navy; and Nelson, Hardy, and Rodney are household words. Another
cheery place of resort is The Ship. The Hospitals are at Greenwich that
Dr. Johnson thought to be too fine for a charity; and back of
these--which are ordinary enough now, in comparison with modern
structures erected for a kindred purpose--stands the famous Observatory
that keeps time for Europe. This place is hallowed also by the grave of
Clive and by that of Wolfe--to the latter of whom, however, there is a
monument in Westminster Abbey. Greenwich makes one think of Queen
Elizabeth, who was born there, who often held her court there, and who
often sailed thence, in her barge, up the river to Richmond--her
favourite retreat and the scene of her last days and her pathetic death.
Few spots can compare with Richmond, in brilliancy of landscape. That
place--the Shene of old times--was long a royal residence. The woods and
meadows that you see from the terrace of the Star and Garter
tavern--spread upon a rolling plain as far as the eye can reach--sparkle
like emeralds; and the Thames, dotted with little toy-like boats, shines
with all the deep lustre of the blackest onyx. Richmond, for those who
honour genius and who love to walk in the footsteps of renown, is full
of interest. Dean Swift once had a house there, the site of which is
still indicated. Pope's rural home was in the adjacent village of
Twickenham,--where it may still be seen. Horace Walpole's stately
mansion of Strawberry Hill is not far off. The poet Thomson long resided
at Richmond, in a house now used as an hospital, and there he died.
Edmund Kean and the once famous Mrs. Yates rest beneath Richmond church,
and there also are the ashes of Thomson. As I drove through the sweetly
sylvan Park of Richmond, in the late afternoon of a breezy summer day,
and heard the whispering of the great elms, and saw the gentle, trustful
deer couched at ease in the golden glades, I heard all the while, in the
still chambers of thought, the tender lament of Collins--which is now a
prophecy fulfilled:

     "Remembrance oft shall haunt the shore,
          When Thames in summer wreaths is drest;
     And oft suspend the dashing oar,
          To bid his gentle spirit rest."

Illustration: "Queen Elizabeth's Cradle."



CHAPTER VII

WARWICK AND KENILWORTH


All the way from London to Warwick it rained; not heavily, but with a
gentle fall. The gray clouds hung low over the landscape and softly
darkened it; so that meadows of scarlet and emerald, the shining foliage
of elms, gray turret, nestled cottage and limpid river were as
mysterious and evanescent as pictures seen in dreams. At Warwick the
rain had fallen and ceased, and the walk from the station to the inn was
on a road--or on a footpath by the roadside--still hard and damp with
the water it had absorbed. A fresh wind blew from the fields, sweet with
the rain and fragrant with the odour of leaves and flowers. The streets
of the ancient town--entered through an old Norman arch--were deserted
and silent. It was Sunday when I first came to the country of
Shakespeare; and over all the region there brooded a sacred stillness
peculiar to the time and harmonious beyond utterance with the sanctity
of the place. As I strive, after many days, to call back and to fix in
words the impressions of that sublime experience, the same awe falls
upon me now that fell upon me then. Nothing else upon earth--no natural
scene, no relic of the past, no pageantry of the present--can vie with
the shrine of Shakespeare, in power to impress, to humble, and to exalt
the devout spirit that has been nurtured at the fountain of his
transcendent genius.

A fortunate way to approach Stratford-on-Avon is by Warwick and
Kenilworth. Those places are not on a direct line of travel; but the
scenes and associations that they successively present are such as
assume a symmetrical order, increase in interest, and grow to a
delightful culmination. Objects that Shakespeare himself must have seen
are still visible there; and little by little, in contact with these,
the pilgrim through this haunted region is mentally saturated with that
atmosphere of serenity and romance in which the youth of Shakespeare was
passed, and by which his works and his memory are embalmed. No one
should come abruptly upon the poet's home. The mind needs to be prepared
for the impression that awaits it; and in this gradual approach it finds
preparation, both suitable and delicious. The luxuriance of the country,
its fertile fields, its brilliant foliage, its myriads of wild-flowers,
its pomp of colour and of physical vigour and bloom, do not fail to
announce, to every mind, howsoever heedless, that this is a fit place
for the birth and nurture of a great man. But this is not all. As you
stroll in the quaint streets of Warwick, as you drive to Kenilworth, as
you muse in that poetic ruin, as you pause in the old graveyard in the
valley below, as you meditate over the crumbling fragments of the
ancient abbey, at every step of the way you are haunted by a vague sense
of an impending grandeur; you are aware of a presence that fills and
sanctifies the scene. The emotion that is thus inspired is very
glorious; never to be elsewhere felt; and never to be forgotten.

Illustration: "Warwick Castle."

The cyclopædias and the guide-books dilate, with much particularity and
characteristic eloquence, upon Warwick Castle and other great features
of Warwickshire, but the attribute that all such records omit is the
atmosphere; and this, perhaps, is rather to be indicated than described.
The prevailing quality of it is a certain high and sweet solemnity--a
feeling kindred with the placid, happy melancholy that steals over the
mind, when, on a sombre afternoon in autumn, you stand in the
churchyard, and listen, amid rustling branches and sighing grass, to the
low music of distant organ and chanting choir. Peace, haunted by
romance, dwells here, in reverie. The great tower of Warwick, based in
silver Avon and pictured in its slumbering waters, seems musing upon the
centuries over which it has watched, and full of unspeakable knowledge
and thought. The dark and massive gateways of the town and the
timber-crossed fronts of its antique houses live on in the same strange
dream and perfect repose; and all along the drive to Kenilworth are
equal images of rest--of a rest in which there is nothing supine or
sluggish, no element of death or decay, but in which passion,
imagination, beauty, and sorrow, seized at their topmost poise, seem
crystallised in eternal calm. What opulence of splendid life is vital
for ever in Kenilworth's crumbling ruin there are no words to say. What
pomp of royal banners! what dignity of radiant cavaliers! what
loveliness of stately and exquisite ladies! what magnificence of
banquets! what wealth of pageantry! what lustre of illumination! The
same festal music that the poet Gascoigne heard there, three hundred
years ago, is still sounding on, to-day. The proud and cruel Leicester
still walks in his vaulted hall. The imperious face of the Virgin Queen
still from her dais looks down on plumed courtiers and jewelled dames;
and still the moonlight, streaming through the turret-window, falls on
the white bosom and the great, startled, black eyes of Amy Robsart,
waiting for her lover. The gaze of the pilgrim, indeed, rests only upon
old, gray, broken walls, overgrown with green moss and ivy, and pierced
by irregular casements through which the sun shines, and the winds blow,
and the rains drive, and the birds fly, amid utter desolation. But
silence and ruin are here alike eloquent and awful; and, much as the
place impresses you by what remains, it impresses you far more by what
has vanished. Ambition, love, pleasure, power, misery, tragedy--these
are gone; and being gone they are immortal. I plucked, in the garden of
Kenilworth, one of the most brilliant red roses that ever grew; and as I
pressed it to my lips I seemed to touch the lips of that superb,
bewildering beauty who outweighed England's crown (at least in story),
and whose spirit is the everlasting genius of the place.

There is a row of cottages opposite to the ruins of the castle, in which
contentment seems to have made her home. The ivy embowers them. The
roses cluster around their little windows. The greensward slopes away,
in front, from big, flat stones that are embedded in the mossy sod
before their doors. Down in the valley, hard by, your steps stray
through an ancient graveyard--in which stands the parish church, a
carefully restored building of the eleventh century, with tower, and
clock, and bell--and past a few fragments of the Abbey and Monastery of
St. Mary, destroyed in 1538. At many another point, on the roads betwixt
Warwick and Kenilworth and Stratford, I came upon such nests of cosy,
rustic quiet and seeming happiness. They build their country houses low,
in England, so that the trees overhang them, and the cool, friendly,
flower-gemmed earth--parent, and stay, and bourne of mortal life--is
tenderly taken into their companionship. Here, at Kenilworth, as
elsewhere, at such places as Marlowe, Henley, Richmond, Maidenhead,
Cookham, and the region round about Windsor, I saw many a sweet nook
where tired life might be content to lay down its burden and enter into
its rest. In all true love of country--a passion that seems to be more
deeply felt in England than anywhere else upon the globe--there is love
for the literal soil itself: and surely that sentiment in the human
heart is equally natural and pious which inspires and perpetuates man's
desire that where he found his cradle he may also find his grave.

Illustration: "Old Inn."

Under a cloudy sky and through a landscape still wet and shining with
recent rain the drive to Stratford was a pleasure so exquisite that at
last it became a pain. Just as the carriage reached the junction of the
Warwick and Snitterfield roads a ray of sunshine, streaming through a
rift in the clouds, fell upon the neighbouring hillside, scarlet with
poppies, and lit the scene as with the glory of a celestial benediction.
This sunburst, neither growing larger nor coming nearer, followed all
the way to Stratford; and there, on a sudden, the clouds were lifted and
dispersed, and "fair daylight" flooded the whole green countryside. The
afternoon sun was still high in heaven when I alighted at the Red Horse
and entered the little parlour of Washington Irving. They keep the room
much as it was when he left it; for they are proud of his gentle genius
and grateful for his commemorative words. In a corner stands [1877] the
small, old-fashioned haircloth arm-chair in which he sat, on that night
of memory and of musing which he has described in _The Sketch-Book. _A
brass plate is affixed to it, bearing his name; and the visitor
observes, in token of its age and service, that the hair-cloth of its
seat is considerably worn and frayed. Every American pilgrim to
Stratford sits in that chair; and looks with tender interest on the old
fireplace; and reads the memorials of Irving that are hung upon the
walls: and it is no small comfort there to reflect that our illustrious
countryman--whose name will be remembered with honour, as long as
literature is prized among men--was the first, in modern days, to
discover the beauties and to interpret the poetry of the birthplace of
Shakespeare.

Illustration: "Washington Irving's Parlour."

Illustration: "From the Warwick Shield."



CHAPTER VIII

FIRST VIEW OF STRATFORD-ON-AVON


Once again, as it did on that delicious summer afternoon which is for
ever memorable in my life, the golden glory of the westering sun burns
on the gray spire of Stratford church, and on the ancient graveyard
below,--wherein the mossy stones lean this way and that, in sweet and
orderly confusion,--and on the peaceful avenue of limes, and on the
burnished water of silver Avon. The tall, pointed, many-coloured windows
of the church glint in the evening light. A cool and fragrant wind is
stirring the branches and the grass. The small birds, calling to their
mates or sporting in the wanton pleasure of their airy life, are
circling over the church roof or hiding in little crevices of its walls.
On the vacant meadows across the river stretch away the long and level
shadows of the pompous elms. Here and there, upon the river's brink, are
pairs of what seem lovers, strolling by the reedy marge, or sitting upon
the low tombs, in the Sabbath quiet. As the sun sinks and the dusk
deepens, two figures of infirm old women, clad in black, pass with slow
and feeble steps through the avenue of limes, and vanish around an angle
of the church--that now stands all in shadow: and no sound is heard but
the faint rustling of the leaves.

Illustration: "Holy Trinity Church."

Once again, as on that sacred night, the streets of Stratford are
deserted and silent under the star-lit sky, and I am standing, in the
dim darkness, at the door of the cottage in which Shakespeare was born.
It is empty, dark, and still; and in all the neighbourhood there is no
stir nor sign of life; but the quaint casements and gables of this
haunted house, its antique porch, and the great timbers that cross its
front are luminous as with a light of their own, so that I see them with
perfect vision. I stand there a long time, and I know that I am to
remember these sights for ever, as I see them now. After a while, with
lingering reluctance, I turn away from this marvellous spot, and,
presently passing through a little, winding lane, I walk in the High
Street of the town, and mark, at the end of the prospect, the
illuminated clock in the tower of the chapel of the Holy Cross. A few
chance-directed steps bring me to what was New Place once, where
Shakespeare died; and there again I pause, and long remain in
meditation, gazing into the enclosed garden, where, under screens of
wire, are certain strange fragments of lime and stone. These--which I do
not then know--are the remains of the foundation of Shakespeare's house.
The night wanes; and still I walk in Stratford streets; and by and by I
am standing on the bridge that spans the Avon, and looking down at the
thick-clustering stars reflected in its black and silent stream. At
last, under the roof of the Red Horse, I sink into a troubled slumber,
from which soon a strain of celestial music--strong, sweet, jubilant,
and splendid--awakens me in an instant; and I start up in my bed--to
find that all around me is still as death; and then, drowsily, far-off,
the bell strikes three, in its weird and lonesome tower.

Every pilgrim to Stratford knows, in a general way, what he will there
behold. Copious and frequent description of its Shakespearean
associations has made the place familiar to all the world. Yet these
Shakespearean associations keep a perennial freshness, and are equally a
surprise to the sight and a wonder to the soul. Though three centuries
old they are not stricken with age or decay. The house in Henley Street,
in which, according to accepted tradition, Shakespeare was born, has
been from time to time repaired; and so it has been kept sound, without
having been materially changed from what it was in Shakespeare's youth.
The kind ladies, Miss Maria and Miss Caroline Chataway, who take care of
it [1877], and with so much pride and courtesy show it to the visitor,
called my attention to a bit of the ceiling of the upper chamber--the
room of Shakespeare's birth--which had begun to droop, and had been
skilfully secured with little iron laths. It is in this room that the
numerous autographs are scrawled over the ceiling and walls. One side of
the chimneypiece here is called "The Actor's Pillar," so richly is it
adorned with the names of actors; Edmund Kean's signature being among
them, and still legible. On one of the window-panes, cut with a diamond,
is the name of "W. Scott"; and all the panes are scratched with
signatures--making you think of Douglas Jerrold's remark on bad
Shakespearean commentators, that they resemble persons who write on
glass with diamonds, and obscure the light with a multitude of
scratches. The floor of this room, uncarpeted and almost snow-white with
much washing, seems still as hard as iron; yet its boards have been
hollowed by wear, and the heads of the old nails that fasten it down
gleam like polished silver.

Illustration: "The Inglenook."

You can sit in an antique chair, in a corner of this room, and think
unutterable things. There is, certainly, no word that can even remotely
suggest the feeling with which you are then overwhelmed. You can sit
also in the room below, in the seat, in the corner of the wide
fireplace, that Shakespeare himself must often have occupied. They keep
but a few sticks of furniture in any part of the cottage. One room is
devoted to Shakespearean relics--more or less authentic; one of which is
a schoolboy's desk that was obtained from the old grammar-school in
Church Street in which Shakespeare was once a pupil. At the back of the
cottage, now isolated from contiguous structures, is a pleasant garden,
and at one side is a cosy, luxurious little cabin--the home of order and
of pious decorum--for the ladies who are custodians of the Shakespeare
House. If you are a favoured visitor, you may receive from that garden,
at parting, all the flowers, prettily mounted upon a sheet of paper,
that poor Ophelia names, in the scene of her madness. "There's rosemary,
that's for remembrance: and there is pansies, that's for thoughts:
there's fennel for you, and columbines: there's rue for you: there's a
daisy:--I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my
father died."

The minute knowledge that Shakespeare had of plants and flowers, and the
loving appreciation with which he describes pastoral scenery, are
explained to the rambler in Stratford, by all that he sees and hears.
There is a walk across the fields to Shottery that the poet must often
have taken, in the days of his courtship of Anne Hathaway. The path to
this hamlet passes through pastures and gardens, necked everywhere with
those brilliant scarlet poppies that are so radiant and so bewitching in
the English landscape. To have grown up amid such surroundings, and,
above all, to have experienced amid them the passion of love, must have
been, for Shakespeare, the intuitive acquirement of ample and specific
knowledge of their manifold beauties. It would be hard to find a sweeter
rustic retreat than Anne Hathaway's cottage is, even now. Tall trees
embower it; and over its porches, and all along its picturesque,
irregular front, and on its thatched roof, the woodbine and the ivy
climb, and there are wild roses and the maiden's blush. For the young
poet's wooing no place could be fitter than this. He would always
remember it with tender-joy.

Illustration: "Approach to Shottery."

They show you, in that cottage, an old settle, by the fireside, whereon
the lovers may have sat together: it formerly stood outside the door:
and in the rude little chamber next the roof an antique, carved
bedstead, that Anne Hathaway once owned. This, it is thought, continued
to be Anne's home for several years of her married life--her husband
being absent in London, and sometimes coming down to visit her, at
Shottery. "He was wont," says John Aubrey, the antiquary, writing in
1680, "to go to his native country once a year." The last surviving
descendant of the Hathaway family--Mrs. Baker--lives in the house now,
and welcomes with homely hospitality the wanderers, from all lands, who
seek--in a sympathy and reverence most honourable to human nature--the
shrine of Shakespeare's love. There is one such wanderer who will never
forget the farewell clasp of that kind woman's hand, and who has never
parted with her gift of woodbine and roses from the porch of Anne
Hathaway's cottage.

In England it is living, more than writing about it, that is esteemed by
the best persons. They prize good writing, but they prize noble living
far more. This is an ingrained principle, and not an artificial habit,
and this principle doubtless was as potent in Shakespeare's age as it is
to-day. Nothing could be more natural than that this great writer should
think less of his works than of the establishment of his home. He would
desire, having won a fortune, to dwell in his native place, to enjoy the
companionship and esteem of his neighbours, to participate in their
pleasures, to help them in their troubles, to aid in the improvement and
embellishment of the town, to deepen his hold upon the affections of all
around him, and to feel that, at last, honoured and lamented, his ashes
would be laid in the village church where he had worshipped--

     "Among familiar names to rest,
     And in the places of his youth."

It was in 1597, twelve years after he went to London, that the poet
began to buy property in Stratford, and it was about eight years after
his first purchase that he finally settled there, at New Place. [J. O.
Halliwell-Phillips says that it was in 1609: There is a record alleging
that as late as that year Shakespeare still retained a residence in
Clink Street, Southwark.] This mansion was altered by Sir Hugh Clopton,
who owned it toward the middle of the eighteenth century, and
it was destroyed by the Rev. Francis Gastrell, in 1759. The grounds,
which have been reclaimed,--chiefly through the zeal of J. O.
Halliwell-Phillips,--are laid out according to the model they are
supposed to have presented when Shakespeare owned them. His lawn, his
orchard, and his garden are indicated; and a scion of his mulberry is
growing on the spot where that famous tree once flourished. You can see
a part of the foundation of the old house. It was made of brick and
timber, it seems to have had gables, and no doubt it was fashioned with
the beautiful curves and broken lines of the Tudor architecture. They
show, upon the lawn, a stone of considerable size, that surmounted its
door. The site--still a central and commodious one--is on the corner of
Chapel Street and Chapel Lane; and on the opposite corner stands now, as
it has stood for eight hundred years, the chapel of the Holy Cross, with
square, dark tower, fretted parapet, pointed casements, and Norman
porch--one of the most romantic and picturesque little churches in
England. It was easy, when musing on that storied spot, to fancy
Shakespeare, in the gloaming of a summer day, strolling on the lawn,
beneath his elms, and listening to the soft and solemn music of the
chapel organ; or to think of him as stepping forth from his study, in
the late and lonesome hours of the night, and pausing to "count the
clock," or note the "exhalations whizzing in the air."

The funeral train of Shakespeare, on that dark day when it moved from
New Place to Stratford Church, had but a little way to go. The river,
surely, must have seemed to hush its murmurs, the trees to droop their
branches, the sunshine to grow dim--as that sad procession passed! His
grave is under the gray pavement of the chancel, near the altar, and his
wife and one of his daughters are buried beside him. The pilgrim who
reads upon the gravestone those rugged lines of grievous entreaty and
awful imprecation that guard the poet's rest feels no doubt that he is
listening to his living voice--for he has now seen the enchanting beauty
of the place, and he has now felt what passionate affection it can
inspire. Feeling and not manner would naturally have prompted that
abrupt, agonised supplication and threat. Nor does such a pilgrim doubt,
when gazing on the painted bust, above the grave,--made by Gerard
Jonson, stonecutter,--that he beholds the authentic face of Shakespeare.
It is not the heavy face of the portraits that represent it. There is a
rapt, transfigured quality in it, that those copies do not convey. It is
thoughtful, austere, and yet benign. Shakespeare was a hazel-eyed man,
with auburn hair, and the colours that he wore were scarlet and black.
Being painted, and also being set up at a considerable height on the
church wall, the bust does not disclose what is sufficiently perceptible
in a cast from it--that it is the copy of a mask from the dead face. One
of the cheeks is a little swollen and the tongue, slightly protruded, is
caught between the lips. The idle theory that the poet was not a
gentleman of consideration in his own time and place falls utterly and
for ever from the mind when you stand at his grave. No man could have a
more honourable or sacred place of sepulture; and while it illustrates
the profound esteem of the community in which he lived it testifies to
the religious character by which that esteem was confirmed. "I commend
my soul into the hands of God, my Creator, hoping, and assuredly
believing, through the only merits of Jesus Christ, my Saviour, to be
made partaker of life everlasting." So said Shakespeare, in his last
Will, bowing in humble reverence the mightiest mind--as vast and
limitless in the power to comprehend as to express!--that ever wore the
garments of mortality.¹

¹ It ought perhaps to be remarked that this prelude to Shakespeare's
Will may not have been intended by him as a profession of faith, but may
have been signed simply as a legal formula. His works denote a mind of
high and broad spiritual convictions, untrammelled by creed or doctrine.
His inclination, probably, was toward the Roman Catholic church, because
of the poetry that is in it: but such a man as Shakespeare would have
viewed all religious beliefs in a kindly spirit, and would have made no
emphatic professions. The Will was executed on March 25, 1616. It covers
three sheets of paper; it is not in Shakespeare's hand-writing, but each
sheet bears his signature. It is in the British Museum.

Once again there is a sound of organ music, very low and soft, in
Stratford Church, and the dim light, broken by the richly stained
windows, streams across the dusky chancel, filling the still air with
opal haze and flooding those gray gravestones with its mellow radiance.
Not a word is spoken; but, at intervals, the rustle of the leaves is
audible in a sighing wind. What visions are these, that suddenly fill
the region! What royal faces of monarchs, proud with power, or pallid
with anguish! What sweet, imperial women, gleeful with happy youth and
love, or wide-eyed and rigid in tearless woe! What warriors, with
serpent diadems, defiant of death and hell! The mournful eyes of Hamlet;
the wild countenance of Lear; Ariel with his harp, and Prospero with his
wand! Here is no death! All these, and more, are immortal shapes; and he
that made them so, although his mortal part be but a handful of dust in
yonder crypt, is a glorious angel beyond the stars.

Illustration: "Distant View of Stratford."



CHAPTER IX

LONDON NOOKS AND CORNERS


Those persons upon whom the spirit of the past has power--and it has not
power upon every mind!--are aware of the mysterious charm that invests
certain familiar spots and objects, in all old cities. London, to
observers of this class, is a never-ending delight. Modern cities, for
the most part, reveal a definite and rather a commonplace design. Their
main avenues are parallel. Their shorter streets bisect their main
avenues. They are diversified with rectangular squares. Their
configuration, in brief, suggests the sapient, utilitarian forethought
of the land-surveyor and civil engineer. The ancient British capital, on
the contrary, is the expression--slowly and often narrowly made--of many
thousands of characters. It is a city that has happened--and the
stroller through the old part of it comes continually upon the queerest
imaginable alleys, courts, and nooks. Not far from Drury Lane Theatre,
for instance, hidden away in a clump of dingy houses, is a dismal little
graveyard--the same that Dickens has chosen, in his novel of _Bleak
House, _as the sepulchre of little Jo's friend, the first love of the
unfortunate Lady Dedlock. It is a doleful spot, draped in the robes of
faded sorrow, and crowded into the twilight of obscurity by the
thick-clustering habitations of men.¹ The Cripplegate church, St.
Giles's, a less lugubrious spot and less difficult of access, is
nevertheless strangely sequestered, so that it also affects the
observant eye as equally one of the surprises of London. I saw it, for
the first time, on a gray, sad Sunday, a little before twilight, and
when the service was going on within its venerable walls. The footsteps
of John Milton were sometimes on the threshold of the Cripplegate, and
his grave is in the nave of that ancient church. A simple flat stone
marks that sacred spot, and many a heedless foot tramples over that
hallowed dust. From Golden Lane, which is close by, you can see the
tower of this church; and, as you walk from the place where Milton lived
to the place where his ashes repose, you seem, with a solemn,
awe-stricken emotion, to be actually following in his funeral train. At
St. Giles's occurred the marriage of Cromwell.² I remembered--as I stood
there and conjured up that scene of golden joy and hope--the place of
the Lord Protector's coronation in Westminster Hall; the place, still
marked, in Westminster Abbey, where his body was buried; and old Temple
Bar, on which (if not on Westminster Hall) his mutilated corse was
finally exposed to the blind rage of the fickle populace. A little
time--a very little time--serves to gather up equally the happiness and
the anguish, the conquest and the defeat, the greatness and the
littleness of human life, and to cover them all with silence.

¹ That place has been renovated and is no longer a disgrace.

² The church of St. Giles was built in 1117 by Queen Maud. It was
demolished in 1623 and rebuilt in 1731. The tomb of Richard Pendrell,
who saved Charles the Second, after Worcester fight, in 1651, is in the
churchyard.

But not always with oblivion. Those quaint churches, and many other
mouldering relics of the past, in London, are haunted with associations
that never can perish out of remembrance. In fact the whole of the old
city impresses you as densely invested with an atmosphere of human
experience, dark, sad, and lamentable. Walking, alone, in ancient
quarters of it, after midnight, I was aware of the oppressive sense of
tragedies that have been acted and misery that has been endured in its
dusky streets and melancholy houses. They do not err who say that the
spiritual life of man leaves its influence in the physical objects by
which he is surrounded. Night-walks in London will teach you that, if
they teach you nothing else. I went more than once into Brooke Street,
Holborn, and traced the desolate footsteps of poor Thomas Chatterton to
the scene of his self-murder and agonised, pathetic, deplorable death.
It is more than a century (1770), since that "marvellous boy" was driven
to suicide by neglect, hunger, and despair. They are tearing down the
houses on one side of Brooke Street now (1877); it is doubtful which
house was No. 4, in the attic of which Chatterton died, and doubtful
whether it remains: his grave--a pauper's grave, that was made in a
workhouse burial-ground, in Shoe Lane, long since obliterated--is
unknown; but his presence hovers about that region; his strange and
touching story tinges its commonness with the mystical moonlight of
romance; and his name is blended with it for ever.

Illustration: "Whitehall Gateway."

On another night I walked from St. James's Palace to Whitehall (the York
Place of Cardinal Wolsey), and viewed the ground that Charles the First
must have traversed, on his way to the scaffold. The story of the
slaughter of that king, always sorrowful to remember, is very grievous
to consider, when you realise, upon the actual scene of his ordeal and
death, his exalted fortitude and his bitter agony. It seemed as if I
could almost hear his voice, as it sounded on that fateful morning,
asking that his body might be more warmly clad, lest, in the cold
January air, he should shiver, and so, before the eyes of his enemies,
should seem to be trembling with fear. The Puritans, having brought that
poor man to the place of execution, kept him in suspense from early
morning till after two o'clock in the day, while they debated over a
proposition to spare his life--upon any condition they might choose to
make--that had been sent to them by his son, Prince Charles. Old persons
were alive in London, not very long ago, who remembered having seen, in
their childhood, the window, in the end of the Whitehall Banquet
House--now a Chapel Royal and all that remains of the ancient
palace--through which the doomed monarch walked forth to the block. It
was long ago walled up, and the palace has undergone much alteration
since the days of the Stuarts. In the rear of Whitehall stands a bronze
statue of James the Second, by Roubiliac (whose marbles are numerous, in
the Abbey and elsewhere in London, and whose grave is in the church of
St. Martin), one of the most graceful works of that spirited sculptor.
The figure is finely modelled. The face is dejected and full of
reproach. The right hand points, with a truncheon, toward the earth. It
is impossible to mistake the ruminant, melancholy meaning of this
memorial; and equally it is impossible to walk without both thought that
instructs and emotion that elevates through a city which thus abounds
with traces of momentous incident and representative experience.

The literary pilgrim in London has this double advantage--that while he
communes with the past he may enjoy in the present. Yesterday and to-day
are commingled here, in a way that is almost ludicrous. When you turn
from Roubiliac's statue of James your eyes rest upon the retired house
of Disraeli. If you walk in Whitehall, toward the Palace of Westminster,
some friend may chance to tell you how the great Duke of Wellington
walked there, in the feebleness of his age, from the Horse Guards to the
House of Lords; and with what pleased complacency the old warrior used
to boast of his skill in threading a crowded thoroughfare,--unaware that
the police, acting by particular command, protected his revered person
from errant cabs and pushing pedestrians. As I strolled one day past
Lambeth Palace it happened that the palace gates were suddenly unclosed
and that His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury came forth, on
horseback, from that episcopal residence, and ambled away towards the
House of Lords. It is the same arched portal through which, in other
days, passed out the stately train of Wolsey. It is the same towered
palace that Queen Elizabeth looked upon as her barge swept past, on its
watery track to Richmond. It is for ever associated with the memory of
Thomas Cromwell.

Illustration: "Lambeth Palace."

In the church, hard by, rest the ashes of men distinguished in the most
diverse directions--Jackson, the clown; and Tenison, the archbishop, the
"honest, prudent, laborious, and benevolent" primate of William the
Third, who was thought worthy to succeed in office the illustrious
Tillotson. The cure of souls is sought here with just as vigorous energy
as when Tillotson wooed by his goodness and charmed by his winning
eloquence. Not a great distance from this spot you come upon the college
at Dulwich that Edward Alleyn founded, in the time of Shakespeare, and
that still subsists upon the old actor's endowment. It is said that
Alleyn--who was a man of fortune, and whom a contemporary epigram styles
the best actor of his day--gained the most of his money by the
exhibition of bears. But, howsoever gained, he made a good use of it.
His tomb is in the centre of the college. Here may be seen one of the
best picture-galleries in England. One of the cherished paintings in
that collection is the famous portrait, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, of
Mrs. Siddons as the Tragic Muse--remarkable for its colour, and
splendidly expositive of the boldness of feature, brilliancy of
countenance, and stately grace of posture for which its original was
distinguished. Another represents two renowned beauties of their
day--the Linley sisters--who became Mrs. Sheridan and Mrs. Tickel. You
do not wonder, as you look on those fair faces, sparkling with health,
arch with merriment, lambent with sensibility, and soft with goodness
and feeling, that Sheridan should have fought duels for such a prize as
the lady of his love; or that those fascinating creatures, favoured
alike by the Graces and the Muse, should in their gentle lives have
been, "like Juno's swans, coupled and inseparable." Mary, Mrs. Tickel,
died first; and Moore, in his _Life of Sheridan, _has preserved a lament
for her, written by Eliza, Mrs. Sheridan, which--for deep, true sorrow
and melodious eloquence--is worthy to be named with Thomas Tickel's
monody on Addison or Cowper's memorial lines on his mother's picture:--

     "Shall all the wisdom of the world combined
     Erase thy image, Mary, from my mind,
     Or bid me hope from others to receive
     The fond affection thou alone couldst give?
     Ah no, my best beloved, thou still shalt be
     My friend, my sister, all the world to me!"

Precious also among the gems of the Dulwich gallery are certain
excellent specimens of the gentle, dreamy style of Murillo. The pilgrim
passes on, by a short drive, to Sydenham, and dines at the Crystal
Palace--and still he finds the faces of the past and the present
confronted, in a manner that is almost comic. Nothing could be more
aptly representative of the practical, ostentatious phase of the spirit
of to-day than is this enormous, opulent, and glittering "palace made of
windows." Yet I saw there the carriage in which Napoleon Buonaparte used
to drive, at St. Helena--a vehicle as sombre and ghastly as were the
broken fortunes of its death-stricken master; and, sitting at a table
close by, I saw the son of Buonaparte's fiery champion, William Hazlitt.

Illustration: "Dulwich College."

It was a gray and misty evening. The plains below the palace terraces
were veiled in shadow, through which, here and there, twinkled the
lights of some peaceful villa. Far away the spires and domes of London,
dimly seen, pierced the city's nightly pall of smoke. It was a dream too
sweet to last. It ended when all the illuminations were burnt out; when
the myriads of red and green and yellow stars had fallen; and all the
silver fountains had ceased to play.

Illustration: "The Crown Inn, Dulwich."



CHAPTER X

RELICS OF LORD BYRON


The Byron Memorial Loan Collection, that was displayed at the Albert
Memorial Hall, for a short time in the summer of 1877, did not attract
much attention: yet it was a vastly impressive show of relics. The
catalogue names seventy-four objects, together with thirty-nine designs
for a monument to Byron. The design that has been chosen presents a
seated figure, of the young sailor-boy type. The right hand supports the
chin; the left, resting on the left knee, holds an open book and a
pencil. The dress consists of a loose shirt, open at the throat and on
the bosom, a flowing neckcloth, and wide, marine trousers. Byron's dog,
Boatswain--commemorated in the well-known misanthropic epitaph--

     "To mark a friend's remains these stones arise,
     I never knew but one, and here he lies"--

is shown, in effigy, at the poet's feet. The treatment of the subject,
in this model, certainly deserves to be called free, but the general
effect of the work is finical. The statue will probably be popular; but
it will give no adequate idea of the man. Byron was both massive and
intense; and this image is no more than the usual hero of nautical
romance. (It was dedicated in May, 1880, and it stands in Hamilton
Gardens, near Hyde Park Corner, London.)

It was the treasure of relics, however, and not the statuary, that more
attracted notice. The relics were exhibited in three glass cases,
exclusive of large portraits. It is impossible to make the
reader--supposing him to revere this great poet's genius and to care for
his memory--feel the thrill of emotion that was aroused by actual sight,
and almost actual touch, of objects so intimately associated with the
living Byron. Five pieces of his hair were shown, one of which was cut
off, after his death, by Captain Trelawny--the remarkable gentleman who
says that he uncovered the legs of the corse, in order to ascertain the
nature and extent of their deformity. All those locks of hair are faded
and all present a mixture of gray and auburn. Byron's hair was not,
seemingly, of a fine texture, and it turned gray early in life. Those
tresses were lent to the exhibition by Lady Dorchester, John Murray, H.
M. Robinson, D.D., and E. J. Trelawny. A strangely interesting memorial
was a little locket of plain gold, shaped like a heart, that Byron
habitually wore. Near to this was the crucifix found in his bed at
Missolonghi, after his death. It is about ten inches long and is made of
ebony. A small bronze figure of Christ is displayed upon it, and at the
feet of the figure are cross-bones and a skull, of the same metal. A
glass beaker, that Byron gave to his butler, in 1815, attracted
attention by its portly size and, to the profane fancy, hinted that his
lordship had formed a liberal estimate of that butler's powers of
suction. Four articles of head-gear occupied a prominent place in one of
the cabinets. Two are helmets that Byron wore when he was in Greece, in
1824--and very queer must have been his appearance when he wore them.
One is light blue, the other dark green; both are faded; both are fierce
with brass ornaments and barbaric with brass scales like those of a
snake. A comelier object is the poet's "boarding-cap"--a leather slouch,
turned up with green velvet and studded with brass nails. Many small
articles of Byron's property were scattered through the cases. A
corpulent little silver watch, with Arabic numerals upon its face, and a
meerschaum pipe, not much coloured, were among them. The cap that he
sometimes wore, during the last years of his life,--the one depicted in
a well-known sketch of him by Count D'Orsay,--was exhibited, and so was
D'Orsay's portrait. The cap is of green velvet, not much tarnished, and
is encircled by a gold band and faced by an ugly visor. The face in the
sketch is supercilious and defiant. A better, and obviously truer sketch
is that made by Cattermole, which also was in this exhibition. Strength
in despair and a dauntless spirit that shines through the ravages of
irremediable suffering are the qualities of this portrait; and they make
it marvellously effective. Thorwaldsen's fine bust of Byron, made for
Hobhouse, and also the celebrated Phillips portrait--that Scott said was
the best likeness of Byron ever painted--occupied places in this group.
The copy of the New Testament that Lady Byron gave to her husband, and
that he, in turn, presented to Lady Caroline Lamb, was there, and is a
pocket volume, bound in black leather, with the inscription, "From a
sincere and anxious friend," written in a stiff, formal hand, across the
fly-leaf. A gold ring that the poet constantly wore, and the collar of
his dog Boatswain--a discoloured band of brass, with sharply jagged
edges--should also be named as among the most interesting of the relics.

But the most remarkable objects of all were the manuscripts. These
comprise the original draft of the third canto of "Childe Harold,"
written on odd bits of paper, during Byron's journey from London to
Venice, in 1816; the first draft of the fourth canto, together with a
clean copy of it; the notes to "Marino Faliero"; the concluding stage
directions--much scrawled and blotted--in "Heaven and Earth"; a document
concerning the poet's matrimonial trouble; and about fifteen of his
letters. The passages seen are those beginning "Since my young days of
passion, joy, or pain"; "To bear unhurt what time cannot abate"; and in
canto fourth the stanzas 118 to 129 inclusive. The writing is free and
strong, and it still remains legible although the paper is yellow with
age. Altogether those relics were touchingly significant of the strange,
dark, sad career of a wonderful man. Yet, as already said, they
attracted but little notice. The memory of Byron seems darkened, as with
the taint of lunacy. "He did strange things," one Englishman said to me;
"and there was something queer about him." The London house in which he
was born, in Holies Street, Cavendish Square, is marked with a
tablet,--according to a custom instituted by a society of arts. (It was
torn down in 1890 and its site is now occupied by a shop, bearing the
name of John Lewis & Co.) Two houses in which he lived, No. 8 St. James
Street, near the old palace, and No. 139 Piccadilly, are not marked. The
house of his birth was occupied in 1877 by a descendant of Elizabeth
Fry, the philanthropist.

The custom of marking the houses associated with great names is
obviously a good one, and it ought to be adopted in other countries. Two
buildings, one in Westminster and one in the grounds of the South
Kensington Museum, bear the name of Franklin; and I also saw memorial
tablets to Dryden and Burke in Gerrard Street, to Dryden in Fetter Lane,
to Mrs. Siddons in Baker Street, to Sir Joshua Reynolds and to Hogarth
in Leicester Square, to Garrick in the Adelphi Terrace, to Louis
Napoleon, and to many other renowned individuals. The room that Sir
Joshua occupied as a studio is now an auction mart. The stone stairs
leading up to it are much worn, but they remain as they were when, it
may be imagined, Burke, Johnson, Goldsmith, Langton, Beauclerk, and
Boswell walked there, on many a festive night in the old times.

It is a breezy, slate-coloured evening in July. I look from the window
of a London house that fronts a spacious park. Those great elms, which
in their wealth of foliage and irregular and pompous expanse of limb are
finer than all other trees of their class, fill the prospect, and nod
and murmur in the wind. Through a rift in their heavy-laden boughs is
visible a long vista of green field, in which many children are at play.
Their laughter and the rustle of leaves, with now and then the click cf
a horse's hoofs upon the road near by, make up the music of this
hallowed hour. The sky is a little overcast but not gloomy. As I muse
upon this delicious scene the darkness slowly gathers, the stars come
out, and presently the moon rises, and blanches the meadow with silver
light. Such has been the English summer, with scarce a hint of either
heat or storm.

Illustration: "Oriel Window."



CHAPTER XI

WESTMINSTER ABBEY


It is strange that the life of the past, in its unfamiliar remains and
fading traces, should so far surpass the life of the present, in
impressive force and influence. Human characteristics, although
manifested under widely different conditions, were the same in old times
that they are now. It is not in them, surely, that we are to seek for
the mysterious charm that hallows ancient objects and the historical
antiquities of the world. There is many a venerable, weather-stained
church in London, at sight of which your steps falter and your thoughts
take a wistful, melancholy turn--though then you may not know either who
built it, or who has worshipped in it, or what dust of the dead is
mouldering in its vaults. The spirit which thus instantly possesses and
controls you is not one of association, but is inherent in the place.
Time's shadow on the works of man, like moonlight on a landscape, gives
only graces to the view--tingeing them, the while, with sombre
sheen--and leaves all blemishes in darkness. This may suggest the reason
that relics of bygone years so sadly please and strangely awe us, in the
passing moment; or it may be that we involuntarily contrast their
apparent permanence with our own evanescent mortality, and so are
dejected with a sentiment of dazed helplessness and solemn grief. This
sentiment it is--allied to bereaved love and a natural wish for
remembrance after death--that has filled Westminster Abbey, and many
another holy mausoleum, with sculptured memorials of the departed; and
this, perhaps, is the subtle power that makes us linger beside them,
"with thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls."

Illustration: "Westminster Abbey, from the Triforium."

When the gentle angler Izaak Walton went into Westminster Abbey to visit
the grave of Casaubon, he scratched his initials on the scholar's
monument, where the record, "I. W., 1658," may still be read by the
stroller in Poets' Corner. One might well wish to follow that example,
and even thus to associate his name with the great cathedral. And not in
pride but in humble reverence! Here if anywhere on earth self-assertion
is rebuked and human eminence set at nought. Among all the impressions
that crowd upon the mind in this wonderful place that which oftenest
recurs and longest remains is the impression of man's individual
insignificance. This is salutary, but it is also dark. There can be no
enjoyment of the Abbey till, after much communion with the spirit of the
place, your soul is soothed by its beauty rather than overwhelmed by its
majesty, and your mind ceases from the vain effort to grasp and
interpret its tremendous meaning. You cannot long endure, and you never
can express, the sense of grandeur that is inspired by Westminster
Abbey; but, when at length its shrines and tombs and statues become
familiar, when its chapels, aisles, arches, and cloisters are grown
companionable, and you can stroll and dream undismayed "through rows of
warriors and through walks of kings," there is no limit to the pensive
memories they awaken and the poetic fancies they prompt.

Illustration: "Henry VII. Chapel."

In this church are buried, among generations of their nobles and
courtiers, fourteen monarchs of England--beginning with the Saxon Sebert
and ending with George the Second. Fourteen queens rest here, and many
children of the royal blood who never came to the throne. Here,
confronted in a haughty rivalry of solemn pomp, rise the equal tombs of
Elizabeth Tudor and Mary Stuart. Queen Eleanor's dust is here, and here,
too, is the dust of the grim Queen Mary. In one little chapel you may
pace, with but half a dozen steps, across the graves of Charles the
Second, William and Mary, and Queen Anne and her consort Prince George.
At the tomb of Henry the Fifth you may see the helmet, shield, and
saddle that were worn by the valiant young king at Agincourt; and close
by--on the tomb of Margaret Woodeville, daughter of Edward the
Fourth--the sword and shield that were borne, in royal state, before the
great Edward the Third, five hundred years ago. The princes who are said
to have been murdered in the Tower are commemorated here by an altar,
set up by Charles the Second, whereon the inscription--blandly and
almost humorously oblivious of the incident of Cromwell--states that it
was erected in the thirtieth year of Charles's reign. Richard the
Second, deposed and assassinated, is here entombed; and within a few
feet of him are the relics of his uncle, the able and powerful Duke of
Gloster, treacherously ensnared and betrayed to death. Here also, huge,
rough, and gray, is the stone sarcophagus of Edward the First, which,
when opened, in 1771, disclosed the skeleton of departed majesty, still
perfect, wearing robes of gold tissue and crimson velvet, and having a
crown on the head and a sceptre in the hand. So sleep, in jewelled
darkness and gaudy decay, what once were monarchs! And all around are
great lords, holy prelates, famous statesmen, renowned soldiers, and
illustrious poets. Burleigh, Pitt, Fox, Burke, Canning, Newton, Barrow,
Wilberforce--names forever glorious!--are here enshrined in the grandest
sepulchre on earth.

The interments that have been effected in and around the Abbey since the
remote age of Edward the Confessor must number thousands; but only about
six hundred are named in the guide-books. In the south transept, which
is Poets' Corner, rest Chaucer, Spenser, Drayton, Cowley, Dryden,
Beaumont, Davenant, Prior, Gay, Congreve, Rowe, Dr. Johnson, Campbell,
Macaulay, and Dickens. Memorials to many other poets and writers have
been ranged on the adjacent walls and pillars; but these are among the
authors that were actually buried in this place. Ben Jonson is not here,
but--in an upright posture, it is said--under the north aisle of the
Abbey; Addison is in the chapel of Henry the Seventh, at the foot of the
monument of Charles Montague, the great Earl of Halifax; and Bulwer is
in the chapel of St. Edmund. Garrick, Sheridan, Henderson, Cumberland,
Handel, Parr, Sir Archibald Campbell, and the once so mighty Duke of
Argyle are almost side by side; while in St. Edward's chapel sleep Anne
of Cleves, the divorced wife of Henry the Eighth, and Anne Neville,
queen of Richard the Third.

Illustration: "Chapel of Edward the Confessor."

Betterton and Spranger Barry are in the cloisters--where may be read, in
four little words, the most touching epitaph in the Abbey: "Jane
Lister--dear child." There are no monuments to either Byron, Shelley,
Swift, Pope, Bolingbroke, Keats, Cowper, Moore, or Young; but Mason and
Shadwell are commemorated; and Barton Booth is splendidly inurned; while
hard by, in the cloisters, a place was found for Mrs. Cibber, Tom Brown,
Anne Bracegirdle, Anne Oldfield, and Aphra Behn. The destinies have not
always been stringently fastidious as to the admission of lodgers to
this sacred ground. The pilgrim is startled by some of the names that he
finds in Westminster Abbey, and pained by reflection on the absence of
some that he will seek in vain. Yet he will not fail to moralise, as he
strolls in Poets' Corner, upon the inexorable justice with which time
repudiates fictitious reputations and twines the laurel on only the
worthiest brows. In well-nigh five hundred years of English literature
there have lived only about a hundred and ten poets whose names survive
in any needed chronicle; and not all of those possess life outside of
the library. To muse over the literary memorials in the Abbey is also to
think upon the seeming caprice of chance with which the graves of the
British poets have been scattered far and wide throughout the land.

Illustration: "The Poets' Corner."

Gower, Fletcher, and Massinger (to name but a few of them) rest in
Southwark; Sydney and Donne in St. Paul's cathedral; More (his head,
that is, while his body moulders in the Tower chapel) at Canterbury;
Drummond in Lasswade church; Dorset at Withyham, in Sussex; Waller at
Beaconsfield; Wither, unmarked, in the church of the Savoy; Milton in
the church of the Cripplegate--where his relics, it is said, were
despoiled; Swift at Dublin, in St. Patrick's cathedral; Young at
Welwyn; Pope at Twickenham; Thomson at Richmond; Gray at Stoke-Pogis;
Watts in Bunhill-Fields; Collins in an obscure little church at
Chichester--though his name is commemorated by a tablet in Chichester
cathedral; Cowper in Dereham church; Goldsmith in the garden of the
Temple; Savage at Bristol; Burns at Dumfries; Rogers at Hornsey; Crabbe
at Trowbridge; Scott in Dryburgh abbey; Coleridge at Highgate; Byron in
Hucknall church, near Nottingham; Moore at Bromham; Montgomery at
Sheffield; Heber at Calcutta; Southey in Crossthwaite churchyard, near
Keswick; Wordsworth and Hartley Coleridge side by side in the churchyard
of Grasmere; and Clough at Florence--whose lovely words may here speak
for all of them--

     "One port, methought, alike they sought,
          One purpose held, where'er they fare:
     O bounding breeze, O rushing seas.
          At last, at last, unite them there!"

But it is not alone in the great Abbey that the rambler in London is
impressed by poetic antiquity and touching historic association--always
presuming that he has been a reader of English literature and that his
reading has sunk into his mind. Little things, equally with great ones,
commingled in a medley, luxuriant and delicious, so people the memory of
such a pilgrim that all his walks will be haunted. The London of to-day,
to be sure (as may be seen in Macaulay's famous third chapter, and in
Scott's _Fortunes of Nigel), _is very little like even the London of
Charles the Second, when the great fire had destroyed eighty-nine
churches and thirteen thousand houses, and when what is now Regent
Street was a rural solitude in which sportsmen sometimes shot the
woodcock.

Illustration: "The North Ambulatory."

Yet, though much of the old capital has vanished and more of it has been
changed, many remnants of its historic past exist, and many of its
streets and houses are fraught with a delightful, romantic interest. It
is not forgotten that sometimes the charm resides in the eyes that see,
quite as much as in the object that is seen. The storied spots of London
may not be appreciable by all who look upon them every day. The
cab-drivers in the region of Kensington Palace Road may neither regard,
nor even notice, the house in which Thackeray lived and died. The
shop-keepers of old Bond Street may, perhaps, neither care nor know that
in this famous avenue was enacted the woeful death-scene of Laurence
Sterne. The Bow Street runners are quite unlikely to think of Will's
Coffee House, and Dryden, or Button's, and Addison, as they pass the
sites of those vanished haunts of wit and revelry in the days of Queen
Anne. The fashionable lounger through Berkeley Square, when perchance he
pauses at the corner of Bruton Street, will not discern Colley Cibber,
in wig and ruffles, standing at the parlour window and drumming with his
hands on the frame. The casual passenger, halting at the Tavistock, will
not remember that this was once Macklin's Ordinary, and so conjure up
the iron visage and ferocious aspect of the first great Shylock of the
British stage, formally obsequious to his guests, or striving to edify
them, despite the banter of the volatile Foote, with discourse upon "the
Causes of Duelling in Ireland." The Barbican does not to every one
summon the austere memory of Milton; nor Holborn raise the melancholy
shade of Chatterton; nor Tower Hill arouse the gloomy ghost of Otway;
nor Hampstead lure forth the sunny figure of Steele and the passionate
face of Keats; nor old Northumberland Street suggest the burly presence
of "rare Ben Jonson"; nor opulent Kensington revive the stately head of
Addison; nor a certain window in Wellington Street reveal in fancy's
picture the rugged lineaments and splendid eyes of Dickens.

Illustration: "The Spaniards, Hampstead."

Yet London never disappoints; and for him who knows and feels its
history these associations, and hundreds like to these, make it populous
with noble or strange or pathetic figures, and diversify the aspect of
its vital present with pictures of an equally vital past. Such a
wanderer discovers that in this vast capital there is literally no end
to the themes that are to stir his imagination, touch his heart, and
broaden his mind. Soothed already by the equable English climate and the
lovely English scenery, he is aware now of an influence in the solid
English city that turns his intellectual life to perfect tranquillity.
He stands amid achievements that are finished, careers that are
consummated, great deeds that are done, great memories that are
immortal; he views and comprehends the sum of all that is possible to
human thought, passion, and labour; and then,--high over mighty London,
above the dome of St. Paul's cathedral, piercing the clouds, greeting
the sun, drawing into itself all the tremendous life of the great city
and all the meaning of its past and present,--the golden cross of
Christ!

Illustration: "Dome of St. Paul's"



CHAPTER XII.

SHAKESPEARE'S HOME


It is the everlasting glory of Stratford-upon-Avon that it was the
birthplace of Shakespeare. Situated in the heart of Warwickshire, which
has been called "the garden of England," it nestles cosily in an
atmosphere of tranquil loveliness and is surrounded with everything that
soft and gentle rural scenery can provide to soothe the mind and to
nurture contentment. It stands upon a plain, almost in the centre of the
island, through which, between the low green hills that roll away on
either side, the Avon flows downward to the Severn. The country in its
neighbourhood is under perfect cultivation, and for many miles around
presents the appearance of a superbly appointed park. Portions of the
land are devoted to crops and pasture; other portions are thickly wooded
with oak, elm, willow, and chestnut; the meadows are intersected by
hedges of fragrant hawthorn, and the region smiles with flowers. Old
manor-houses, half-hidden among the trees, and thatched cottages
embowered with roses are sprinkled through the surrounding landscape;
and all the roads that converge upon this point--from Birmingham,
Warwick, Shipton, Bidford, Alcester, Evesham, Worcester, and other
contiguous towns--wind, in sun and shadow, through a sod of green
velvet, swept by the cool, sweet winds of the English summer.

Illustration: "The Grange."

Such felicities of situation and such accessories of beauty, however,
are not unusual in England; and Stratford, were it not hallowed by
association, though it would always hold a place among the pleasant
memories of the traveller, would not have become a shrine for the homage
of the world. To Shakespeare it owes its renown; from Shakespeare it
derives the bulk of its prosperity. To visit Stratford is to tread with
affectionate veneration in the footsteps of the poet. To write about
Stratford is to write about Shakespeare.

More than three hundred years have passed since the birth of that
colossal genius and many changes have occurred in his native town within
that period. The Stratford of Shakespeare's time was built principally
of timber, and it contained about fourteen hundred inhabitants. To-day
its population numbers more than eight thousand. New dwellings have
arisen where once were fields of wheat, glorious with the shimmering
lustre of the scarlet poppy. Many of the older buildings have been
altered. Manufacture has been stimulated into prosperous activity. The
Avon has been spanned by a new bridge, of iron--a path for pedestrians,
adjacent to Clopton's bridge of stone. (The iron bridge was opened
November 23, 1827. The Clopton Bridge was 376 yards long and about 16
yards wide. Alterations of the west end of it were made in 1814.) The
streets have been levelled, swept, rolled and garnished till they look
like a Flemish drawing, of the Middle Ages. Even the Shakespeare
cottage, the old Harvard house in High Street, and the two old
churches--authentic and splendid memorials of a distant and storied
past--have been "restored." If the poet could walk again through his
accustomed haunts, though he would see the same smiling country round
about, and hear, as of old, the ripple of the Avon murmuring in its
summer sleep, his eyes would rest on but few objects that once he knew.
Yet, there are the paths that Shakespeare often trod; there stands the
house in which he was born; there is the school in which he was taught;
there is the cottage in which he wooed his sweetheart; there are the
traces and relics of the mansion in which he died; and there is the
church that keeps his dust, so consecrated by the reverence of mankind

     "That kings for such a tomb would wish to die."

In shape the town of Stratford somewhat resembles a large cross, which
is formed by High Street, running nearly north and south, and Bridge
Street and Wood Street, running nearly east and west. From these, which
are main avenues, radiate many and devious branches. A few of the
streets are broad and straight but many of them are narrow and crooked.
High and Bridge streets intersect each other at the centre of the town,
and there stands the market house, an ugly building, of the period of
George the Fourth, with belfry and illuminated clock, facing eastward
toward the old stone bridge, with fourteen arches,--the bridge that Sir
Hugh Clopton built across the Avon, in the reign of Henry the Seventh. A
cross once stood at the corner of High Street and Wood Street, and near
the cross was a pump and a well. From that central point a few steps
will bring the traveller to the birthplace of Shakespeare.

Illustration: "Shakespeare's Birthplace in Henley Street."

It is a little, two-story cottage, of timber and plaster, on the north
side of Henley Street, in the western part of the town. It must have
been, in its pristine days, finer than most of the dwellings in its
neighbourhood. The one-story house, with attic windows, was the almost
invariable fashion of building, in English country towns, till the
seventeenth century. This cottage, besides its two stories, had
dormer-windows, a pent-house over its door, and altogether was built and
appointed in a manner both luxurious and substantial. Its age is
unknown; but the history of Stratford reaches back to a period three
hundred years antecedent to William the Conqueror, and fancy, therefore,
is allowed ample room to magnify its antiquity. It was bought, or
occupied, by Shakespeare's father in 1555, and in it he resided till his
death, in 1601, when it descended by inheritance to the poet. Such is
the substance of the complex documentary evidence and of the emphatic
tradition that consecrate this cottage as the house in which Shakespeare
was born. The point has never been absolutely settled. John Shakespeare,
the father, was the owner in 1564 not only of the house in Henley Street
but of another in Greenhill Street. William Shakespeare might have been
born at either of those dwellings. Tradition, however, has sanctified
the Henley Street cottage; and this, accordingly, as Shakespeare's
cradle, will be piously guarded to a late posterity.

It has already survived serious perils and vicissitudes. By
Shakespeare's will it was bequeathed to his sister Joan--Mrs. William
Hart--to be held by her, under the yearly rent of twelvepence, during
her life, and at her death to revert to his daughter Susanna and her
descendants. His sister Joan appears to have been living there at the
time of his decease, in 1616. She is known to have been living there in
1639--twenty-three years later,--and doubtless she resided there till
her death, in 1646. The estate then passed to Susanna--Mrs. John
Hall,--from whom in 1649 it descended to her grandchild, Lady Barnard,
who left it to her kinsmen, Thomas and George Hart, grandsons of Joan.
In this line of descent it continued--subject to many of those
infringements which are incidental to poverty--till 1806, when William
Shakespeare Hart, the seventh in collateral kinship from the poet, sold
it to Thomas Court, from whose family it was at last purchased for the
British nation. Meantime the property, which originally consisted of two
tenements and a considerable tract of adjacent land, had, little by
little, been curtailed of its fair proportions by the sale of its
gardens and orchards. The two tenements--two in one, that is--had been
subdivided. A part of the building became an inn--at first called "The
Maidenhead," afterward "The Swan," and finally "The Swan and
Maidenhead." Another part became a butcher's shop. The old
dormer-windows and the pent-house disappeared. A new brick casing was
foisted upon the tavern end of the structure. In front of the butcher's
shop appeared a sign announcing "William Shakespeare was born in this
house: N.B.--A Horse and Taxed Cart to Let." Still later appeared
another legend, vouching that "the immortal Shakespeare was born in this
house." From 1793 till 1820 Thomas and Mary Hornby, connections by
marriage with the Harts, lived in the Shakespeare cottage--now at length
become the resort of literary pilgrims,--and Mary Hornby, who set up to
be a poet and wrote tragedy, comedy, and philosophy, took delight in
exhibiting its rooms to visitors. During the reign of that eccentric
custodian the low ceilings and whitewashed walls of its several chambers
became covered with autographs, scrawled thereon by many enthusiasts,
including some of the most famous persons in Europe. In 1820 Mary Hornby
was requested to leave the premises. She did not wish to go. She could
not endure the thought of a successor. "After me, the deluge!" She was
obliged to abdicate; but she conveyed away all the furniture and relics
alleged to be connected with Shakespeare's family, and she hastily
whitewashed the cottage walls. Only a small part of the wall of the
upper room, the chamber in which "nature's darling" first saw the light,
escaped that act of spiteful sacrilege. On the space behind its door may
still be read many names, with dates affixed, ranging back from 1820 to
1729. Among them is that of Dora Jordan, the beautiful and fascinating
actress, who wrote it there June 2, 1809. Much of Mary Hornby's
whitewash, which chanced to be unsized, was afterward removed, so that
her work of obliteration proved only in part successful. Other names
have been added to this singular, chaotic scroll of worship. Byron,
Scott,¹ Rogers, Thackeray, Kean, Tennyson, and Dickens are among the
votaries there and thus recorded.

¹ Sir Walter Scott visited Shakespeare's birthplace in August, 1821, and
at that time scratched his name on the window-pane. He had previously,
in 1815, visited Kenilworth. He was in Stratford again in 1828, and on
April 8 he went to Shakespeare's grave, and subsequently drove to
Charlecote. The visit of Lord Byron has been incorrectly assigned to the
year 1816. It occurred on August 28, possibly in 1812.

The successors of Mary Hornby guarded their charge with pious care. The
precious value of the old Shakespeare cottage grew more and more evident
to the English people. Washington Irving made his pilgrimage to
Stratford and recounted it in his beautiful _Sketch-Book. _Yet it was
not till P. T. Barnum, from the United States, arrived with a
proposition to buy the Shakespeare house and convey it to America that
the literary enthusiasm of Great Britain was made to take a practical
shape, and this venerated and inestimable relic became, in 1847, a
national possession. In 1856 John Shakespeare, of Worthington Field,
near Ashby-de-la-Zouche, gave a large sum of money to restore it; and
within the next two years, under the superintendence of Edward Gibbs and
William Holtom of Stratford, it was isolated by the demolition of the
cottages at its sides and in the rear, repaired wherever decay was
visible, and set in perfect order.

The builders of this house must have done their work thoroughly well,
for even after all these years of rough usage and of slow but incessant
decline the great timbers remain solid, the plastered walls are firm,
the huge chimney-stack is as permanent as a rock, and the ancient
flooring only betrays by the channelled aspect of its boards, and the
high polish on the heads of the nails which fasten them down, that it
belongs to a period of remote antiquity. The cottage stands close upon
the margin of the street, according to ancient custom of building
throughout Stratford; and, entering through a little porch, the pilgrim
stands at once in that low-ceiled, flag-stoned room, with its wide
fire-place, so familiar in prints of the chimney-corner of Shakespeare's
youthful days. Within the fire-place, on either side, is a seat
fashioned in the brick-work; and here, as it is pleasant to imagine, the
boy-poet often sat, on winter nights, gazing dreamily into the flames,
and building castles in that fairyland of fancy which was his celestial
inheritance. You presently pass from this room by a narrow, well-worn
staircase to the chamber above, which is shown as the place of the
poet's birth. An antiquated chair, of the sixteenth century, stands in
the right-hand corner. At the left is a small fire-place. Around the
walls are visible the great beams which are the framework of the
building--beams of seasoned oak that will last forever. Opposite to the
door of entrance is a threefold casement (the original window) full of
narrow panes of glass scrawled all over with names that their worshipful
owners have written with diamonds. The ceiling is so low that you can
easily touch it with uplifted hand. A portion of it is held in place by
a network of little iron laths. This room, and indeed the whole
structure, is as polished and orderly as any waxen, royal hall in the
Louvre, and it impresses observation much like old lace that has been
treasured up, in lavender or jasmine. These walls, which no one is now
permitted to mar, were naturally the favourite scroll of the Shakespeare
votaries of long ago. Every inch of the plaster bears marks of the
pencil of reverence. Hundreds of names are written there--some of them
famous but most of them obscure, and all destined to perish where they
stand. On the chimney-piece at the right of the fireplace, which is
named The Actor's Pillar, many actors have inscribed their signatures.
Edmund Kean wrote his name there--with what soulful veneration and
spiritual sympathy it is awful even to try to imagine. Sir Walter
Scott's name is scratched with a diamond on the window--"W. Scott." That
of Thackeray appears on the ceiling, and upon the beam across the centre
is that of Helen Faucit. The name of Eliza Vestris is written near the
fireplace. Mark Lemon and Charles Dickens are together on the opposite
wall. Byron wrote his name there, but it has disappeared. The list would
include, among others, Elliston, Buckstone, G. V. Brooke, Charles Kean,
Charles Mathews, and Fanny Fitzwilliam. But it is not of these offerings
of fealty that you think when you sit and muse alone in that mysterious
chamber. As once again I conjure up that strange and solemn scene, the
sunshine rests in checkered squares upon the ancient floor, the motes
swim in the sunbeams, the air is very cold, the place is hushed as
death, and over it all there broods an atmosphere of grave suspense and
mystical desolation--a sense of some tremendous energy stricken dumb and
frozen into silence and past and gone forever.

Opposite to the birthchamber, at the rear, there is a small apartment,
in which is displayed "the Stratford Portrait" of the poet. This
painting is said to have been owned by the Clopton family, and to have
fallen into the hands of William Hunt, town clerk of Stratford, who
bought the mansion of the Cloptons in 1758. The adventures through which
it passed can only be conjectured. It does not appear to have been
valued, and although it remained in the house it was cast away among
lumber and rubbish. In process of time it was painted over and changed
into a different subject. Then it fell a prey to dirt and damp. There is
a story that the little boys of the tribe of Hunt were accustomed to use
it as a target for their arrows. At last, after the lapse of a century,
the grandson of William Hunt showed it by chance to Simon Collins, an
artist, who surmised that a valuable portrait might perhaps exist
beneath its muddy surface. It was carefully cleaned. A thick beard was
removed, and the face of Shakespeare emerged upon the canvas. It is not
pretended that this portrait was painted in Shakespeare's time. The
close resemblance that it bears,--in attitude, dress, colours, and other
peculiarities,--to the painted bust of the poet in Stratford church
seems to indicate that it is a modern copy of that work. Upon a brass
plate affixed to it is the following inscription: "This portrait of
Shakespeare, after being in the possession of Mr. William Oakes Hunt,
town-clerk of Stratford, and his family, for upwards of a century, was
restored to its original condition by Mr. Simon Collins of London, and,
being considered a portrait of much interest and value, was given by
Mr. Hunt to the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, to be preserved in
Shakespeare's house, 23d April, 1862." There, accordingly, it remains,
and, in association with several other dubious presentments of the poet,
cheerfully adds to the mental confusion of the pilgrim who would form an
accurate image of Shakespeare's appearance. Standing in its presence it
was worth while to reflect that there are only two authentic
representations of Shakespeare in existence--the Droeshout portrait and
the Gerard Jonson bust. They may not be perfect works of art; they may
not do justice to the original; but they were seen and accepted by
persons to whom Shakespeare had been a living companion. The bust was
sanctioned by his children; the portrait was sanctioned by his friend
Ben Jonson, and by his brother actors Heminge and Condell, who prefixed
it, in 1623, to the first folio of his works. Standing among the relics
that have been gathered into a museum in an apartment on the
ground-floor of the cottage it was essential also to remember how often
"the wish is father to the thought" that sanctifies the uncertain
memorials of the distant past. Several of the most suggestive documents,
though, which bear upon the sparse and shadowy record of Shakespeare's
life are preserved in this place. Here is a deed, made in 1596, which
proves that this house was his father's residence. Here is the only
letter addressed to him that is known to exist--the letter of Richard
Quiney (1598) asking for the loan of thirty pounds. Here is a
declaration in a suit, in 1604, to recover the price of some malt that
he had sold to Philip Rogers. Here is a deed, dated 1609, on which is
the autograph of his brother Gilbert, who represented him, at Stratford,
in his business affairs, while he was absent in London, and who,
surviving, it is dubiously said, almost till the period of the
Restoration, talked, as a very old man, of the poet's impersonation of
Adam in _As You Like It._ (Possibly the reference of that legend is not
to Gilbert but to a son of his. Gilbert would have been nearly a century
old when Charles the Second came to the throne.) Here likewise is shown
a gold seal ring, found many years ago in a field near Stratford church,
on which, delicately engraved, appear the letters W. S., entwined with a
true lovers' knot. It may have belonged to Shakespeare. The conjecture
is that it did, and that,--since on the last of the three sheets which
contain his will the word "seal" is stricken out and the word "hand"
substituted,--he did not seal that document because he had only just
then lost this ring. The supposition is, at least, ingenious. It will
not harm the visitor to accept it. Nor, as he stands poring over the
ancient, decrepit school-desk which has been lodged in this museum, from
the grammar-school, will it greatly tax his credulity to believe that
the "shining morning face" of the boy Shakespeare once looked down upon
it, in the irksome quest of his "small Latin and less Greek." They call
it Shakespeare's desk. It is old, and it is known to have been in the
school of the guild three hundred years ago. There are other relics,
more or less indirectly connected with the great name that is here
commemorated. The inspection of them all would consume many days; the
description of them would occupy many pages. You write your name in the
visitors' book at parting, and perhaps stroll forth into the garden of
the cottage, which encloses it at the sides and in the rear, and there,
beneath the leafy boughs of the English lime, while your footsteps press
"the grassy carpet of this plain," behold growing all around you the
rosemary, pansies, fennel, columbines, rue, daisies, and violets, which
make the imperishable garland on Ophelia's grave, and which are the
fragrance of her solemn and lovely memory.

Thousands of times the wonder must have been expressed that while the
world knows so much about Shakespeare's mind it should know so little
about his life. The date of his birth, even, is established by an
inference. The register of Stratford church shows that he was baptised
there in 1564, on April 26. It was customary to baptise infants on the
third day after their birth. It is presumed that the custom was followed
in this instance, and hence it is deduced that Shakespeare was born on
April 23--a date which, making allowance for the difference between the
old and new styles of reckoning time, corresponds to our third of May.
Equally by an inference it is established that the boy was educated in
the free grammar-school. The school was there; and any boy of the town,
who was seven years old and able to read, could get admission to it.
Shakespeare's father, an alderman of Stratford (elected chief alderman,
October 10, 1571), and then a man of worldly substance, though afterward
he became poor, would surely have wished that his children should grow
up in knowledge. To the ancient school-house, accordingly, and the
adjacent chapel of the guild--which are still extant, at the south-east
corner of Chapel Lane and Church Street--the pilgrim confidently traces
the footsteps of the poet. Those buildings are of singular, picturesque
quaintness. The chapel dates back to about the middle of the thirteenth
century. It was a Roman Catholic institution, founded in 1296, under the
patronage of the Bishop of Worcester, and committed to the pious custody
of the guild of Stratford. A hospital was connected with it in those
days, and Robert de Stratford was its first master. New privileges and
confirmation were granted to the guild by Henry the Sixth, in 1403 and
1429. The grammar-school, established on an endowment of lands and
tenements by Thomas Jolyffe, was set up in association with it in 1482.
Toward the end of the reign of Henry the Seventh the whole of the
chapel, excepting the chancel, was torn down and rebuilt under the
munificent direction of Sir Hugh Clopton, Lord Mayor of London and
Stratford's chief citizen and benefactor. Under Henry the Eighth, when
came the stormy times of the Reformation, the priests were driven out,
the guild was dissolved, and the chapel was despoiled. Edward the Sixth,
however, granted a new charter to this ancient institution, and with
especial precautions reinstated the school. The chapel itself was
occasionally used as a schoolroom when Shakespeare was a boy, and until
as late as the year 1595; and in case the lad did go thither (in 1571)
as a pupil, he must have been from childhood familiar with the series of
grotesque paintings upon its walls, presenting, in a pictorial panorama,
the history of the Holy Cross, from its origin as a tree at the
beginning of the world to its exaltation at Jerusalem. Those paintings
were brought to light in 1804 in the course of a renovation of the
chapel which then occurred, when the walls were relieved of thick
coatings of whitewash, laid on them long before, in Puritan times,
either to spoil or to hide from the spoiler. They are not visible now,
but they were copied and have been engraved. The drawings of them, by
Fisher, are in the collection of Shakespearean Rarities made by J. O.
Halliwell-Phillipps. This chapel and its contents constitute one of the
few remaining spectacles at Stratford that bring us face to face with
Shakespeare. During the last seven years of his life he dwelt almost
continually in his house of New Place, on the corner immediately
opposite to this church. The configuration of the excavated foundations
of that house indicates what would now be called a deep bay-window in
its southern front. There, probably, was Shakespeare's study; and
through that casement, many and many a time, in storm and in sunshine,
by night and by day, he must have looked out upon the grim, square
tower, the embattled stone wall, and the four tall Gothic windows of
that mysterious temple. The moment your gaze falls upon it, the
low-breathed, horror-stricken words of Lady Macbeth murmur in your
memory:--

          "The raven himself is hoarse
     That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
     Under my battlements."

New Place, Shakespeare's home at the time of his death and the house in
which he died, stood on the north-east corner of Chapel Street and
Chapel Lane. Nothing now remains of it but a portion of its
foundations--long buried in the earth, but found and exhumed in
comparatively recent days. Its gardens have been redeemed, through the
zealous and devoted exertions of J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps and have been
restored to what is thought to have been almost their condition when
Shakespeare owned them. The crumbling fragments of the foundation are
covered with screens of wood and wire. A mulberry-tree, a scion of the
famous mulberry that Shakespeare is known to have planted, is growing on
the lawn. There is no authentic picture in existence that shows New
Place as it was when Shakespeare left it, but there is a sketch of it as
it appeared in 1740. The house was made of brick and timber, and was
built by Sir Hugh Clopton nearly a century before it became by purchase
the property of the poet. Shakespeare bought it in 1597, and in it he
passed, intermittently, a considerable part of the last nineteen years
of his life. It had borne the name of New Place before it came into his
possession. The Clopton family parted with it in 1563, and it was
subsequently owned by families of Bott and Underhill. At Shakespeare's
death it was inherited by his eldest daughter, Susanna, wife of Dr. John
Hall. In 1643, Mrs. Hall, then seven years a widow, being still its
owner and occupant, Henrietta Maria, queen to Charles the First, who had
come to Stratford with a part of the royal army, resided for three days
at New Place, which, therefore, must even then have been the most
considerable private residence in the town. (The queen arrived at
Stratford on July 11 and on July 13 she went to Kineton.) Mrs. Hall,
dying in 1649, aged sixty-six, left it to her only child, Elizabeth,
then Mrs. Thomas Nashe, who afterward became Lady Barnard, wife to Sir
John Barnard, of Abingdon, and in whom the direct line of Shakespeare
ended. After her death the estate was purchased by Sir Edward Walker, in
1675, who ultimately left it to his daughter's husband, Sir John Clopton
(1638-1719), and so it once more passed into the hands of the family of
its founder. A second Sir Hugh Clopton (1671-1751) owned it at the
middle of the eighteenth century, and under his direction it was
repaired, decorated, and furnished with a new front. That proved the
beginning of the end of this old structure, as a relic of Shakespeare;
for this owner, dying in 1751, bequeathed it to his son-in-law, Henry
Talbot, who in 1753 sold it to the most universally execrated iconoclast
of modern times, the Rev. Francis Gastrell, vicar of Frodsham, in
Cheshire, by whom it was destroyed. Mr. Gastrell was a man of fortune,
and he certainly was one of insensibility. He knew little of
Shakespeare; but he knew that the frequent incursion, into his garden,
of strangers who came to sit beneath "Shakespeare's mulberry" was a
troublesome annoyance. He struck, therefore, at the root of the vexation
and cut down the tree. That was in 1756. The wood was purchased by
Thomas Sharp, a watchmaker of Stratford, who subsequently made the
solemn declaration that he carried it to his home and converted it into
toys and kindred memorial relics. The villagers of Stratford, meantime,
incensed at the barbarity of Mr. Gastrell, took their revenge by
breaking his windows. In this and in other ways the clergyman was
probably made to realise his local unpopularity. It had been his custom
to reside during a part of each year in Lichfield, leaving some of his
servants in charge of New Place. The overseers of Stratford, having
lawful authority to levy a tax, for the maintenance of the poor, on
every house in the town valued at more than forty shillings a year, did
not neglect to make a vigorous use of their privilege in the case of
Mr. Gastrell. The result of their exactions in the sacred cause of
charity was significant. In 1759 Mr. Gastrell declared that the house
should never be taxed again, pulled down the building, sold the
materials of which it had been composed, and left Stratford forever. He
repaired to Lichfield and there died. In the house adjacent to the site
of what was once Shakespeare's home has been established a museum of
Shakespearean relics. Among them is a stone mullion, found on the site,
which may have belonged to a window of the original mansion. This
estate, bought from different owners and restored to its Shakespearean
condition, became on April 17, 1876, the property of the corporation of
Stratford. The tract of land is not large. The visitor may traverse the
whole of it in a few minutes, although if he obey his inclination he
will linger there for hours. The enclosure is an irregular rectangle,
about two hundred feet long. The lawn is perfect. The mulberry is extant
and tenacious, and wears its honours in contented vigour. Other trees
give grateful shade to the grounds, and the voluptuous red roses,
growing all around in rich profusion, load the air with fragrance.
Eastward, at a little distance, flows the Avon. Not far away rises the
graceful spire of the Holy Trinity. A few rooks, hovering in the air and
wisely bent on some facetious mischief, send down through the silver
haze of the summer morning their sagacious yet melancholy caw. The
windows of the gray chapel across the street twinkle, and keep their
solemn secret. On this spot was first waved the mystic wand of Prospero.
Here Ariel sang of dead men's bones turned into pearl and coral in the
deep caverns of the sea. Here arose into everlasting life Hermione, "as
tender as infancy and grace." Here were created Miranda and Perdita,
twins of heaven's own radiant goodness,--

                    "Daffodils
     That come before the swallow dares, and take
     The winds of March with beauty; violets dim,
     But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes
     Or Cytherea's breath."

To endeavour to touch upon the larger and more august aspect of
Shakespeare's life--when, as his wonderful sonnets betray, his great
heart had felt the devastating blast of cruel passions and the deepest
knowledge of the good and evil of the universe had been borne in upon
his soul--would be impious presumption. Happily to the stroller in
Stratford every association connected with him is gentle and tender. His
image, as it rises there, is of smiling boyhood or sedate and benignant
maturity; always either joyous or serene, never passionate, or
turbulent, or dark. The pilgrim thinks of him as a happy child at his
father's fireside; as a wondering school-boy in the quiet, venerable
close of the old guild chapel, where still the only sound that breaks
the silence is the chirp of birds or the creaking of the church vane; as
a handsome, dauntless youth, sporting by his beloved river or roaming
through field and forest many miles around; as the bold, adventurous
spirit, bent on frolic and mischief, and not averse to danger, leading,
perhaps, the wild lads of his village in their poaching depredations on
the chace of Charlecote; as the lover, strolling through the green lanes
of Shottery, hand in hand with the darling of his first love, while
round them the honeysuckle breathed out its fragrant heart upon the
winds of night, and overhead the moonlight, streaming through rifts of
elm and poplar, fell on their pathway in showers of shimmering silver;
and, last of all, as the illustrious poet, rooted and secure in his
massive and shining fame, loved by many, and venerated and mourned by
all, borne slowly through Stratford churchyard, while the golden bells
were tolled in sorrow and the mourning lime-trees dropped their blossoms
on his bier, to the place of his eternal rest. Through all the scenes
incidental to this experience the worshipper of Shakespeare's genius may
follow him every step of the way.

Illustration: "Anne Hathaway's Cottage."

The old foot-path across the fields to Shottery remains accessible.
Wild-flowers are blooming along its margin. The gardens and meadows
through which it winds are sprinkled with the gorgeous scarlet of the
poppy. The hamlet of Shottery is less than a mile from Stratford,
stepping toward the sunset; and there, nestled beneath the elms, and
almost embowered in vines and roses, stands the cottage in which Anne
Hathaway was wooed and won. This is even more antiquated in appearance
than the birthplace of Shakespeare, and more obviously a relic of the
distant past. It is built of wood and plaster, ribbed with massive
timbers, and covered with a thatch roof. It fronts southward, presenting
its eastern end to the road. Under its eaves, peeping through embrasures
cut in the thatch, are four tiny casements, round which the ivy twines
and the roses wave softly in the wind of June. The western end of the
structure is higher than the eastern, and the old building, originally
divided into two tenements, is now divided into three. In front of it is
a straggling garden. There is a comfortable air of wildness, yet not of
neglect, in its appointments and surroundings. The place is still the
abode of labour and lowliness. Entering its parlour you see a stone
floor, a wide fireplace, a broad, hospitable hearth, with cosy
chimney-corners, and near this an old wooden settle, much decayed but
still serviceable, on which Shakespeare may often have sat, with Anne at
his side. The plastered walls of this room here and there reveal
portions of an oak wainscot. The ceiling is low. This evidently was the
farm-house of a substantial yeoman, in the days of Henry the Eighth. The
Hathaways had lived in Shottery for forty years prior to Shakespeare's
marriage. The poet, then undistinguished, had just turned eighteen,
while his bride was nearly twenty-six, and it has been foolishly said
that she acted ill in wedding her boy-lover. They were married in
November, 1582, and their first child, Susanna, came in the following
May. Anne Hathaway must have been a wonderfully fascinating woman, or
Shakespeare would not so have loved her; and she must have loved him
dearly--as what woman, indeed, could help it?--or she would not thus
have yielded to his passion. There is direct testimony to the beauty of
his person; and in the light afforded by his writings it requires no
extraordinary penetration to conjecture that his brilliant mind,
sparkling humour, tender fancy, and impetuous spirit must have made him,
in his youth, a paragon of enchanters. It is not known where they lived
during the first years after their marriage. Perhaps in this cottage at
Shottery. Perhaps with Hamnet and Judith Sadler, for whom their twins,
born in 1585, were named Hamnet and Judith. Her father's house assuredly
would have been chosen for Anne's refuge, when presently (in 1585-86),
Shakespeare was obliged to leave his wife and children, and go away to
London to seek his fortune. He did not buy New Place till 1597, but it
is known that in the meantime he came to his native town once every
year. It was in Stratford that his son Hamnet died, in 1596. Anne and
her children probably had never left the town. They show a bedstead and
other bits of furniture, together with certain homespun sheets of
everlasting linen, that are kept as heirlooms in the garret of the
Shottery cottage. Here is the room that may often have welcomed the poet
when he came home from his labours in the great city. It is a homely and
humble place, but the sight of it makes the heart thrill with a strange
and incommunicable awe. You cannot wish to speak when you are standing
there. You are scarcely conscious of the low rustling of the leaves
outside, the far-off sleepy murmur of the brook, or the faint fragrance
of woodbine and maiden's-blush that is wafted in at the open casement
and that swathes in nature's incense a memory sweeter than itself.

Associations may be established by fable as well as by fact. There is
but little reason to believe the legendary tale, first recorded by Rowe,
that Shakespeare, having robbed the deer-park of Sir Thomas Lucy of
Charlecote (there was not a park at Charlecote then, but there was one
at Fullbrooke), was so severely persecuted by that magistrate that he
was compelled to quit Stratford and shelter himself in London. Yet the
story has twisted itself into all the lives of Shakespeare, and whether
received or rejected has clung to the house of Charlecote. That noble
mansion--a genuine specimen, despite a few modern alterations, of the
architecture of Queen Elizabeth's time--is found on the west bank of the
Avon, about three miles north-east from Stratford. It is a long,
rambling, three-storied palace--as finely quaint as old St. James's in
London, and not altogether unlike that edifice, in general
character--with octagon turrets, gables, balustrades, Tudor casements,
and great stacks of chimneys, so closed in by elms of giant growth that
you can scarce distinguish it, through the foliage, till you are close
upon it.

Illustration: "Charlecote."

It was erected in 1558 by Thomas Lucy, who in 1578 was Sheriff of
Warwickshire, who was elected to the Parliaments of 1571 and 1584, and
who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1565. The porch to this building
was designed by John of Padua. There is a silly ballad in existence,
idly attributed to Shakespeare, which, it is said, was found affixed to
Lucy's gate, and gave him great offence. He must have been more than
commonly sensitive to low abuse if he could have been annoyed by such a
manifestly scurrilous ebullition of the blackguard and the
blockhead,--supposing, indeed, that he ever saw it. The ballad,
proffered as the work of Shakespeare, is a forgery. There is but one
existing reason to think that the poet ever cherished a grudge against
the Lucy family, and that is the coarse allusion to the "luces" which is
found in the _Merry Wives of Windsor. _There was apparently, a second
Sir Thomas Lucy, later than the Sheriff, who was more of the Puritanic
breed, while Shakespeare evidently was a Cavalier. It is possible that
in a youthful frolic the poet may have poached on Sheriff Lucy's
preserves. Even so, the affair was trivial. It is possible, too, that in
after years he may have had reason to dislike the ultra-Puritanical
neighbour. Some memory of the tradition will, of course, haunt the
traveller's thoughts as he strolls by Hatton Rock and through the
villages of Hampton and Charlecote. But this discordant recollection is
soon smoothed away by the peaceful loveliness of the ramble--past aged
hawthorns that Shakespeare himself may have seen, and under the boughs
of beeches, limes, and drooping willows, where every footstep falls on
wild-flowers, or on a cool green turf that is softer than Indian silk
and as firm and elastic as the sand of the sea-beaten shore. Thought of
Sir Thomas Lucy will not be otherwise than kind, either, when the
stranger in Charlecote church reads the epitaph with which the old
knight commemorated his wife: "All the time of her Lyfe a true and
faithfull servant of her good God; never detected of any crime or vice;
in religion most sound; in love to her husband most faithfull and true.
In friendship most constant. To what in trust was committed to her most
secret; in wisdom excelling; in governing her House and bringing up of
Youth in the feare of God that did converse with her most rare and
singular; a great maintainer of hospitality; greatly esteemed of her
betters; misliked of none unless the envious. When all is spoken that
can be said, a Woman so furnished and garnished with Virtue as not to be
bettered, and hardly to be equalled of any; as she lived most
virtuously, so she dyed most godly. Set down by him that best did know
what hath been written to be true. Thomas Lucy." A narrow formalist he
may have been, and a severe magistrate in his dealings with scapegrace
youths, and perhaps a haughty and disagreeable neighbour; but there is a
touch of manhood, high feeling, and virtuous and self-respecting
character in those lines, that instantly wins the response of sympathy.
If Shakespeare really shot the deer of Thomas Lucy the injured gentleman
had a right to feel annoyed. Shakespeare, boy or man, was not a saint,
and those who so account him can have read his works to but little
purpose. He can bear the full brunt of his faults. He does not need to
be canonised.

The ramble to Charlecote--one of the prettiest walks about
Stratford--was, it may surely be supposed, often taken by Shakespeare.
Many another ramble was possible to him and no doubt was made. He would
cross the mill bridge (new in 1599), which spans the Avon a little way
to the south of the church. A quaint, sleepy mill no doubt it
was--necked with moss and ivy--and the gaze of Shakespeare assuredly
dwelt on it with pleasure.

Illustration: "Meadow Walk by the Avon."

His footsteps may be traced, also, in fancy, to the region of the old
college building, demolished in 1799, which stood in the southern part
of Stratford, and was the home of his friend John Combe, factor of Fulke
Greville, Earl of Warwick. Still another of his walks must have tended
northward through Welcombe, where he was the owner of land, to the
portly manor of Clopton, or to the home of William, nephew of
John-a-Combe, which stood where the Phillips mansion stands now. On what
is called the Ancient House, which stands on the west side of High
Street, he may often have looked, as he strolled past to the Red Horse.
That picturesque building, dated 1596, survives, notwithstanding some
modern touches of rehabilitation, as a beautiful specimen of Tudor
architecture in one at least of its most charming traits, the carved and
timber-crossed gable. It is a house of three stories, containing
parlour, sitting-room, kitchen, and several bedrooms, besides cellars
and brew-shed; and when sold at auction, August 23, 1876, it brought
£400. In that house was born John Harvard, who founded Harvard
University. There are other dwellings fully as old in Stratford, but
they have been covered with stucco and otherwise changed. This is a
genuine piece of antiquity and it vies with the grammar-school and the
hall of the Guild, under the pent-house of which the poet would pass
whenever he went abroad from New Place. Julius Shaw, one of the five
witnesses to his will, lived in the house next to the present New Place
Museum, and there, it is reasonable to think, Shakespeare would often
pause, for a word with his friend and neighbour. In the little streets
by the riverside, which are ancient and redolent of the past, his image
seems steadily familiar. In Dead Lane (once also called Walker Street,
now called Chapel Lane) he owned a cottage, bought of Walter Getley in
1602, and only destroyed within the present century. These and kindred
shreds of fact, suggesting the poet as a living man and connecting him,
however vaguely, with our everyday experience, are seized with peculiar
zest by the pilgrim in Stratford. Such a votary, for example, never
doubts that Shakespeare was a frequenter, in leisure or convivial hours,
of the ancient Red Horse inn. It stood there, in his day, as it stands
now, on the north side of Bridge Street, westward from the Avon. There
are many other taverns in the town--the Shakespeare, a delightful
resort, the Falcon, the Rose and Crown, the old Red Lion, and the Swan's
Nest, being a few of them,---but the Red Horse takes precedence of all
its kindred, in the fascinating because suggestive attribute of
antiquity. Moreover it was the Red Horse that harboured Washington
Irving, the pioneer of American worshippers at the shrine of
Shakespeare; and the American explorer of Stratford would cruelly
sacrifice his peace of mind if he were to repose under any other roof.
The Red Horse is a rambling, three-story building, entered through an
archway that leads into a long, straggling yard, adjacent to offices and
stables. On one side of the entrance is found the smoking-room; on the
other is the coffee-room. Above are the bed-rooms. It is a thoroughly
old-fashioned inn--such a one as we may suppose the Boar's Head to have
been, in the time of Prince Henry; such a one as untravelled Americans
only know in the pages of Dickens. The rooms are furnished in neat,
homelike style, and their associations readily deck them with the
fragrant garlands of memory. When Drayton and Jonson came down to visit
"gentle Will" at Stratford they could scarcely have omitted to quaff the
humming ale of Warwickshire in that cosy parlour. When Queen Henrietta
Maria was ensconced at New Place the general of the royal forces
quartered himself at the Red Horse, and then doubtless there was enough
and to spare of revelry within its walls. A little later the old house
was soundly peppered by Roundhead bullets and the whole town was overrun
with the close-cropped, psalm-singing soldiers of the Commonwealth. In
1742 Garrick and Macklin lodged in the Red Horse, and thither again came
Garrick in 1769, to direct the Shakespeare Jubilee, which was then most
dismally accomplished but which is always remembered to the great
actor's credit and honour. Betterton, no doubt, lodged there when he
came to Stratford in quest of reminiscences of Shakespeare. The visit of
Washington Irving, supplemented with his delicious chronicle, has led to
what might be called almost the consecration of the parlour in which he
sat and the chamber (No. 15) in which he slept. They still keep the
poker--now marked "Geoffrey Crayon's sceptre"--with which, as he sat
there in long, silent, ecstatic meditation, he prodded the fire in the
narrow, tiny grate. They keep also the chair in which he sat--a plain,
straight-backed arm-chair, with a haircloth seat, marked, on a brass
plate, with his renowned and treasured name. Thus genius can sanctify
even the humblest objects,

     "And shed a something of celestial light
     Round the familiar face of every day."

To pass rapidly in review the little that is known of Shakespeare's life
is, nevertheless, to be impressed not only by its incessant and amazing
literary fertility but by the quick succession of its salient incidents.
The vitality must have been enormous that created in so short a time
such a number and variety of works of the first class. The same quick
spirit would naturally have kept in agitation all the elements of his
daily experience. Descended from an ancestor who had fought for the Red
Rose on Bosworth Field, he was born to repute as well as competence, and
during his early childhood he received instruction and training in a
comfortable home. He escaped the plague that was raging in Stratford
when he was an infant, and that took many victims. He went to school
when seven years old and left it when about fourteen. He then had to
work for his living--his once opulent father having fallen into
misfortune--and he became an apprentice to a butcher, or else a lawyer's
clerk (there were seven lawyers in Stratford at that time), or else a
schoolteacher. Perhaps he was all three--and more. It is conjectured
that he saw the players who from time to time acted in the Guildhall,
under the auspices of the corporation of Stratford; that he attended the
religious entertainments that were customarily given in the not distant
city of Coventry; and that in particular he witnessed the elaborate and
sumptuous pageants with which in 1575 the Earl of Leicester welcomed
Queen Elizabeth to Kenilworth Castle. He married at eighteen; and,
leaving a wife and three children in Stratford, he went up to London at
twenty-two. His entrance into theatrical life followed--in what capacity
it is impossible to say. One dubious account says that he held horses
for the public at the theatre door; another that he got employment as a
prompter to the actors. It is certain that he had not been in the
theatrical business long before he began to make himself known. At
twenty-eight he was a prosperous author. At twenty-nine he had acted
with Burbage before Queen Elizabeth; and while Spenser had extolled him
in the "Tears of the Muses," the hostile Greene had disparaged him in
the "Groat's-worth of Wit." At thirty-three he had acquired wealth
enough to purchase New Place, the principal residence in his native
town, where now he placed his family and established his home,--himself
remaining in London, but visiting Stratford at frequent intervals. At
thirty-four he was heard of as the actor of Knowell in Ben Jonson's
comedy of _Every Man in his Humour_¹ and he received the glowing
encomium of Meres in _Wits Treasury. _At thirty-eight he had written
_Hamlet _and _As You Like It, _and moreover he had now become the owner
of more estate in Stratford, costing £320. At forty-one he made his
largest purchase, buying for £440 the "unexpired term of a moiety of the
interest in a lease granted in 1554 for ninety-two years of the tithes
of Stratford, Bishopton, and Welcombe." In the meantime he had smoothed
the declining years of his father and had followed him with love and
duty to the grave. Other domestic bereavements likewise befell him, and
other worldly cares and duties were laid upon his hands, but neither
grief nor business could check the fertility of his brain. Within the
next ten years he wrote, among other great plays, _Othello, Lear,
Macbeth, _and _Coriolanus._

¹ Jonson's famous comedy was first acted in 1598, "By the then Lord
Chamberlain his servants." Knowell is designated as "an old gentleman."
The Jonson Folio of 1692 names as follows the principal comedians who
acted in that piece: "Will. Shakespeare. Aug. Philips. Hen. Condel.
Will. Slye. Will. Kempe. Ric. Burbadge. Joh. Hemings. Tho. Pope. Chr.
Beston. Joh. Duke."


At about forty-eight he seems to have disposed of his interest in the
two London theatres with which he had been connected, the Blackfriars
and the Globe, and shortly afterwards, his work as we possess it being
well-nigh completed, he retired finally to his Stratford home. That he
was the comrade of many bright spirits who glittered in "the spacious
times" of Elizabeth several of them have left personal testimony. That
he was the king of them all is shown in his works. The Sonnets seem to
disclose that there was a mysterious, almost a tragical, passage in his
life, and that he was called to bear the burden of a great and perhaps a
calamitous personal grief--one of those griefs, which, being caused by
sinful love, are endless in the punishment they entail. Happily,
however, no antiquarian student of Shakespeare's time has yet succeeded
in coming near to the man. While he was in London he used to frequent
the Falcon Tavern, in Southwark, and the Mermaid, and he lived at one
time in St. Helen's parish, Aldersgate, and at another time in Clink
Street, Southwark. As an actor his name has been associated with his
characters of Adam, Friar Lawrence, and the Ghost of King Hamlet, and a
contemporary reference declared him "excellent in the quality he
professes." Some of his manuscripts, it is possible, perished in the
fire that consumed the Globe theatre in 1613. He passed his last days in
his home at Stratford, and died there, somewhat suddenly, on his
fifty-second birthday. That event, it may be worth while to observe,
occurred within thirty-three years of the execution of Charles the
First, under the Puritan Commonwealth of Oliver Cromwell. The Puritan
spirit, intolerant of the play-house and of all its works, must then
have been gaining formidable strength. His daughter Susanna, aged
thirty-three at the time of his death, survived him thirty-three years.
His daughter Judith, aged thirty-one at the time of his death, survived
him forty-six years. The whisper of tradition says that both were
Puritans. If so the strange and seemingly unaccountable disappearance of
whatever play-house papers he may have left at Stratford should not be
obscure. This suggestion is likely to have been made before; and also it
is likely to have been supplemented with a reference to the great fire
in London in 1666--(which in consuming St. Paul's cathedral burned an
immense quantity of books and manuscripts that had been brought from all
the threatened parts of the city and heaped beneath its arches for
safety)--as probably the final and effectual holocaust of almost every
piece of print or writing that might have served to illuminate the
history of Shakespeare. In his personality no less than in the
fathomless resources of his genius he baffles scrutiny and stands for
ever alone.

     "Others abide our question; thou art free:
     We ask, and ask; thou smilest and art still--
     Out-topping knowledge."

It is impossible to convey an adequate suggestion of the prodigious and
overwhelming sense of peace that falls upon the soul of the pilgrim in
Stratford church. All the cares and struggles and trials of mortal life,
all its failures, and equally all its achievements, seem there to pass
utterly out of remembrance. It is not now an idle reflection that "the
paths of glory lead but to the grave." No power of human thought ever
rose higher or went further than the thought of Shakespeare. No human
being, using the best weapons of intellectual achievement, ever
accomplished so much. Yet here he lies--who was once so great! And here
also, gathered around him in death, lie his parents, his children, his
descendants, and his friends. For him and for them the struggle has long
since ended. Let no man fear to tread the dark pathway that Shakespeare
has trodden before him. Let no man, standing at this grave, and seeing
and feeling that all the vast labours of that celestial genius end here
at last in a handful of dust, fret and grieve any more over the puny and
evanescent toils of to-day, so soon to be buried in oblivion! In the
simple performance of duty and in the life of the affections there may
be permanence and solace. The rest is an "insubstantial pageant." It
breaks, it changes, it dies, it passes away, it is forgotten; and though
a great name be now and then for a little while remembered, what can the
remembrance of mankind signify to him who once wore it? Shakespeare,
there is reason to believe, set precisely the right value alike upon
contemporary renown and the homage of posterity. Though he went forth,
as the stormy impulses of his nature drove him, into the great world of
London, and there laid the firm hand of conquest upon the spoils of
wealth and power, he came back at last to the peaceful home of his
childhood; he strove to garner up the comforts and everlasting treasures
of love at his hearthstone; he sought an enduring monument in the hearts
of friends and companions; and so he won for his stately sepulchre the
garland not alone of glory but of affection. Through the high eastern
window of the chancel of Holy Trinity church the morning sunshine,
broken into many-coloured light, streams in upon the grave of
Shakespeare and gilds his bust upon the wall above it. He lies close by
the altar, and every circumstance of his place of burial is eloquent of
his hold upon the affectionate esteem of his contemporaries. The line of
graves beginning at the north wall of the chancel and extending across
to the south seems devoted entirely to Shakespeare and his family, with
but one exception.¹ The pavement that covers them is of that blue-gray
slate or freestone which in England is sometimes called black marble. In
the first grave under the north wall rests Shakespeare's wife. The next
is that of the poet himself, bearing the world-famed words of blessing
and imprecation. Then comes the grave of Thomas Nashe, husband to
Elizabeth. Hall, the poet's granddaughter, who died April 4, 1647. Next
is that of Dr. John Hall (obiit November 25, 1635), husband to his
daughter Susanna, and close beside him rests Susanna herself, who was
buried on July 11, 1649. The gravestones are laid east and west, and all
but one present inscriptions. That one is under the south wall, and
possibly it covers the dust of Judith--Mrs. Thomas Quiney--the youngest
daughter of Shakespeare, who, surviving her three children and thus
leaving no descendants, died in 1662. Upon the gravestone of Susanna an
inscription has been intruded commemorative of Richard Watts, who is
not, however, known to have had any relationship with either Shakespeare
or his descendants.

¹ "The poet knew," says J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps, "that as a tithe-owner
he would necessarily be buried in the chancel."

Shakespeare's father, who died in 1601, and his mother, Mary Arden, who
died in 1608, were buried in or near this church. (The register says,
under Burials, "September 9, 1608, Mayry Shaxspere, wydowe.") His infant
sisters Joan, Margaret, and Anne, and his brother Richard, who died,
aged thirty-nine, in 1613, may also have been laid to rest in this
place. Of the death and burial of his brother Gilbert there is no
record. His sister Joan, the second--Mrs. Hart--would naturally have
been placed with her relatives. His brother Edmund, dying in 1607, aged
twenty-seven, is under the pavement of St. Saviour's church in
Southwark. The boy Hamnet, dying before his father had risen into local
eminence, rests, probably, in an undistinguished grave in the
churchyard. (The register records his burial on August 11, 1596.) The
family of Shakespeare seems to have been short-lived and it was soon
extinguished. He himself died at fifty-two. Judith's children perished
young. Susanna bore but one child--Elizabeth--who became successively
Mrs. Nashe and Lady Barnard, and she, dying in 1670, was buried at
Abingdon, near Oxford. She left no children by either husband, and in
her the race of Shakespeare became extinct. That of Anne Hathaway also
has nearly disappeared, the last living descendant of the Hathaways
being Mrs. Baker, the present occupant of Anne's cottage at Shottery.
Thus, one by one, from the pleasant gardened town of Stratford, they
went to take up their long abode in that old church, which was ancient
even in their infancy, and which, watching through the centuries in its
monastic solitude on the shore of Avon, has seen their lands and houses
devastated by flood and fire, the places that knew them changed by the
tooth of time, and almost all the associations of their lives
obliterated by the improving hand of destruction.

One of the oldest and most interesting Shakespearean documents in
existence is the narrative, by a traveller named Dowdall, of his
observations in Warwickshire, and of his visit, on April 10, 1693, to
Stratford church. He describes therein the bust and the tombstone of
Shakespeare, and he adds these remarkable words: "The clerk that showed
me this church is above eighty years old. He says that not one, for fear
of the curse above said, dare touch his gravestone, though his wife and
daughter did earnestly desire to be laid in the same grave with him."
Writers in modern days have been pleased to disparage that inscription
and to conjecture that it was the work of a sexton and not of the poet;
but no one denies that it has accomplished its purpose in preserving the
sanctity of Shakespeare's rest. Its rugged strength, its simple pathos,
its fitness, and its sincerity make it felt as unquestionably the
utterance of Shakespeare himself, when it is read upon the slab that
covers him. There the musing traveller full well conceives how dearly
the poet must have loved the beautiful scenes of his birthplace, and
with what intense longing he must have desired to sleep undisturbed in
the most sacred spot in their bosom. He doubtless had some premonition
of his approaching death. Three months before it came he made his will.
A little later he saw the marriage of his younger daughter. Within less
than a month of his death he executed the will, and thus set his affairs
in order. His handwriting in the three signatures to that paper
conspicuously exhibits the uncertainty and lassitude of shattered
nerves. He was probably quite worn out. Within the space, at the utmost,
of twenty-five years, he had written thirty-seven plays, one hundred and
fifty-four sonnets, and two or more long poems; had passed through much
and painful toil and through bitter sorrow; had made his fortune as
author and actor; and had superintended, to excellent advantage, his
property in London and his large interests in Stratford and its
neighbourhood. The proclamation of health with which the will begins was
doubtless a formality of legal custom. The story that he died of
drinking too hard at a merry meeting with Drayton and Ben Jonson is idle
gossip. If in those last days of fatigue and presentiment he wrote the
epitaph that has ever since marked his grave, it would naturally have
taken the plainest fashion of speech. Such is its character; and no
pilgrim to the poet's shrine could wish to see it changed:--

"Good frend for Iesvs sake forbeare,
To digg the dvst encloased heare;
Blese be ye man yt spares thes stones
And cvrst be he yt moves my bones."

It was once surmised that the poet's solicitude lest his bones might be
disturbed in death grew out of his intention to take with him into the
grave a confession that the works which now follow him were written by
another hand. Persons have been found who actually believe that a man
who was great enough to write _Hamlet _could be little enough to feel
ashamed of it, and, accordingly, that Shakespeare was only hired to play
at authorship, as a screen for the actual author. It might not, perhaps,
be strange that a desire for singularity, which is one of the worst
literary crazes of this capricious age, should prompt to the rejection
of the conclusive and overwhelming testimony to Shakespeare's genius
that has been left by Shakespeare's contemporaries, and that shines
forth in all that is known of his life. It is strange that a doctrine
should get itself asserted which is subversive of common reason and
contradictory to every known law of the human mind. This conjectural
confession of poetic imposture has never been exhumed. The grave is
known to have been disturbed, in 1796, when alterations were made in the
church,¹ and there came a time in the present century when, as they were
making repairs in the chancel pavement (the chancel was renovated in
1835), a rift was accidently made in the Shakespeare vault. Through
this, though not without misgiving, the sexton peeped in upon the poet's
remains. He saw nothing but dust.

¹ It was the opinion--not conclusive but interesting--of the late J. O.
Halliwell-Phillipps that at one or other of these "restorations" the
original tombstone of Shakespeare was removed and another one, from the
yard of a modern stone-mason, put in its place. Dr. Ingleby, in his book
on _Shakespeare's Bones, _1883, asserts that the original stone was
removed. I have compared Shakespeare's tombstone with that of his wife,
and with others in the chancel, but I have not found the discrepancy
observed by Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps, and I think there is no reason to
believe that the original tombstone has ever been disturbed. The letters
upon it were, probably, cut deeper in 1835.

The antique font from which the infant Shakespeare may have received the
water of Christian baptism is still preserved in this church. It was
thrown aside and replaced by a new one about the middle of the
seventeenth century. Many years afterward it was found in the
charnel-house. When that was destroyed, in 1800, it was cast into the
churchyard. In later times the parish clerk used it as a trough to his
pump. It passed then through the hands of several successive owners,
till at last, in days that had learned to value the past and the
associations connected with its illustrious names, it found its way back
again to the sanctuary from which it had suffered such a rude expulsion.
It is still a handsome stone, though broken, soiled, and marred.

Illustration: "Remains of the Old Font at which, probably, Shakespeare
was christened, now in the Nave of Stratford Church."

On the north wall of the chancel, above his grave and near to "the
American window," is placed Shakespeare's monument. It is known to have
been erected there within seven years after his death. It consists of a
half-length effigy, placed beneath a fretted arch, with entablature and
pedestal, between two Corinthian columns of black marble, gilded at base
and top. Above the entablature appear the armorial bearings of
Shakespeare--a pointed spear on a bend sable and a silver falcon on a
tasselled helmet supporting a spear. Over this heraldic emblem is a
death's-head, and on each side of it sits a carved cherub, one holding a
spade, the other an inverted torch. In front of the effigy is a cushion,
upon which both hands rest, holding a scroll and a pen. Beneath is an
inscription in Latin and English, supposed to have been furnished by the
poet's son-in-law, Dr. Hall. The bust was cut by Gerard Jonson, a native
of Amsterdam and by occupation a "tomb-maker," who lived in Southwark
and possibly had seen the poet. The material is a soft stone, and the
work, when first set up, was painted in the colours of life. Its
peculiarities indicate that it was copied from a mask of the features
taken after death. Some persons believe (upon slender and dubious
testimony) that this mask has since been found, and busts of Shakespeare
have been based upon it, by W. R. O'Donovan and by William Page. In
September, 1764, John Ward, grandfather of Mrs. Siddons, having come to
Stratford with a theatrical company, gave a performance of _Othello, _in
the Guildhall, and devoted its proceeds to reparation of the Gerard
Jonson effigy, then somewhat damaged by time.

Illustration: "Shakespeare's Monument."

The original colours were then carefully restored and freshened. In
1793, under the direction of Malone, this bust, together with the image
of John-a-Combe--a recumbent statue upon a tomb close to the east wall
of the chancel--was coated with white paint. From that plight it was
extricated, in 1861, by the assiduous skill of Simon Collins, who
immersed it in a bath which took off the white paint and restored the
colours. The eyes are painted light hazel, the hair and pointed beard
auburn, the face and hands flesh-tint. The dress consists of a scarlet
doublet, with a rolling collar, closely buttoned down the front, worn
under a loose black gown without sleeves. The upper part of the cushion
is green, the lower part crimson, and this object is ornamented with
gilt tassels. The stone pen that used to be in the right hand of the
bust was taken from it, toward the end of the last century, by a young
Oxford student, and, being dropped by him upon the pavement, was broken.
A quill pen has been put in its place. This is the inscription beneath
the bust:--

     Ivdicio Pylivm, genio Socratem, arte Maronem,
     Terra tegit, popvlvs mæret, Olympvs habet.

     Stay, passenger, why goest thov by so fast?
     Read, if thov canst, whom enviovs Death hath plast
     Within this monvment: SHAKSPEARE: with whome
     Qvick Natvre dide; whose name doth deck ys tombe
     Far more than cost; sieth all yt he hath writt
     Leaves living art bvt page to serve his witt.

     Obiit Ano. Doi. 1616. Ætatis 53. Die. 23. Ap.

The erection of the old castles, cathedrals, monasteries, and churches
of England was accomplished, little by little, with laborious toil
protracted through many years. Stratford church, probably more than
seven centuries old, presents a mixture of architectural styles, in
which Saxon simplicity and Norman grace are beautifully mingled.
Different parts of the structure were built at different times. It is
fashioned in the customary crucial form, with a square tower, an octagon
stone spire, (erected in 1764, to replace a more ancient one, made of
oak and covered with lead), and a fretted battlement all around its
roof. Its windows are diversified, but mostly Gothic. The approach to it
is across a churchyard thickly sown with graves, through a lovely green
avenue of lime-trees, leading to a porch on its north side. This avenue
of foliage is said to be the copy of one that existed there in
Shakespeare's day, through which he must often have walked, and through
which at last he was carried to his grave. Time itself has fallen asleep
in that ancient place. The low sob of the organ only deepens the awful
sense of its silence and its dreamless repose. Yews and elms grow in the
churchyard, and many a low tomb and many a leaning stone are there, in
the shadow, gray with moss and mouldering with age. Birds have built
their nests in many crevices in the timeworn tower, round which at
sunset you may see them circle, with chirp of greeting or with call of
anxious discontent. Near by flows the peaceful river, reflecting the
gray spire in its dark, silent, shining waters. In the long and lonesome
meadows beyond it the primroses stand in their golden ranks among the
clover, and the frilled and fluted bell of the cowslip, hiding its
single drop of blood in its bosom, closes its petals as the night comes
down.

Northward, at a little distance from the Church of the Holy Trinity,
stands, on the west bank of the Avon, the building that will always be
famous as the Shakespeare Memorial. The idea of the Memorial was
suggested in 1864, incidentally to the ceremonies which then
commemorated the three-hundredth anniversary of the poet's birth. Ten
years later the site for this structure was presented to the town by
Charles Edward Flower, one of its most honoured inhabitants.
Contributions of money were then asked, and were given. Americans as
well as Englishmen contributed. On April 23, 1877, the first stone of
the Memorial was laid. On April 23, 1880, the building was dedicated.
The fabric comprises a theatre, a library, and a picture-gallery. In the
theatre the plays of Shakespeare are annually represented, in a manner
as nearly perfect as possible. In the library and picture-gallery are to
be assembled all the books upon Shakespeare that have been published,
and all the choice paintings that can be obtained to illustrate his life
and his works. As the years pass this will naturally become a principal
depository of Shakespearean objects. A dramatic college may grow up, in
association with the Shakespeare theatre. The gardens that surround the
Memorial will augment their loveliness in added expanse of foliage and
in greater wealth of floral luxuriance. The mellow tinge of age will
soften the bright tints of the red brick that mainly composes the
building. On its cone-shaped turrets ivy will clamber and moss will
nestle. When a few generations have passed, the old town of Stratford
will have adopted this now youthful stranger into the race of her
venerated antiquities. The same air of poetic mystery that rests now
upon his cottage and his grave will diffuse itself around his Memorial;
and a remote posterity, looking back to the men and the ideas of to-day,
will remember with grateful pride that English-speaking people of the
nineteenth century, although they could confer no honour upon the great
name of Shakespeare, yet honoured themselves in consecrating this votive
temple to his memory.

Illustration: "Gable Window"



CHAPTER XIII

UP TO LONDON 1882


About the middle of the night the great ship comes to a pause, off the
coast of Ireland, and, looking forth across the black waves and through
the rifts in the rising mist, we see the low and lonesome verge of that
land of trouble and misery. A beautiful white light flashes now and then
from the shore, and at intervals the mournful booming of a solemn bell
floats over the sea. Soon is heard the rolling click of oars, and then
two or three dusky boats glide past the ship, and hoarse voices hail and
answer. A few stars are visible in the hazy sky, and the breeze from the
land brings off, in fitful puffs, the fragrant balm of grass and clover,
mingled with the salt odours of sea-weed and slimy rocks. There is a
sense of mystery over the whole wild scene; but we realise now that
human companionship is near, and that the long and lonely ocean voyage
is ended.

Illustration: "Peveril Peak."

Travellers who make the run from Liverpool to London by the Midland
Railway pass through the vale of Derby and skirt around the stately Peak
that Scott has commemorated in his novel of Peveril. It is a more rugged
country than is seen in the transit by the Northwestern road, but not
more beautiful. You see the storied mountain, in its delicacy of outline
and its airy magnificence of poise, soaring into the sky--its summit
almost lost in the smoky haze--and you wind through hillside pastures
and meadow-lands that are curiously intersected with low, zigzag stone
walls; and constantly, as the scene changes, you catch glimpses of green
lane and shining river; of dense copses that cast their cool shadow on
the moist and gleaming emerald sod; of long white roads that stretch
away like cathedral aisles and are lost beneath the leafy arches of elm
and oak; of little church towers embowered in ivy; of thatched cottages
draped with roses; of dark ravines, luxuriant with a wild profusion of
rocks and trees; and of golden grain that softly waves and whispers in
the summer wind; while, all around, the grassy banks and glimmering
meadows are radiant with yellow daisies, and with that wonderful scarlet
of the poppy that gives an almost human glow of life and loveliness to
the whole face of England. After some hours of such a pageant--so novel,
so fascinating, so fleeting, so stimulative of eager curiosity and
poetic desire--it is a relief at last to stand in the populous streets
and among the grim houses of London, with its surging tides of life, and
its turmoil of effort, conflict, exultation, and misery. How strange it
seems--yet, at the same time, how homelike and familiar! There soars
aloft the great dome of St. Paul's cathedral, with its golden cross that
flashes in the sunset! There stands the Victoria tower--fit emblem of
the true royalty of the sovereign whose name it bears. And there, more
lowly but more august, rise the sacred turrets of the Abbey. It is the
same old London--the great heart of the modern world--the great city of
our reverence and love. As the wanderer writes these words he hears the
plashing of the fountains in Trafalgar Square and the evening chimes
that peal out from the spire of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and he knows
himself once more at the shrine of his youthful dreams.

Illustration: "St. Paul's from Maiden Lane."

To the observant stranger in London few sights can be more impressive
than those that illustrate the singular manner in which the life of the
present encroaches upon the memorials of the past. Old Temple Bar has
gone,--a sculptured griffin, at the junction of Fleet Street and the
Strand, denoting where once it stood. (It has been removed to Theobald's
Park, near Waltham, and is now the lodge gate of the grounds of Sir
Henry Meux.) The Midland Railway trains dash over what was once St.
Pancras churchyard--the burial-place of Mary Wollstonecraft and William
Godwin, and of many other British worthies--and passengers looking from
the carriages may see the children of the neighbourhood sporting among
the few tombs that yet remain in that despoiled cemetery. Dolly's
Chop-House, intimately associated with the wits of the reign of Queen
Anne, has been destroyed. The ancient tavern of The Cock, immortalised
by Tennyson, in his poem of Will Waterproof's Monologue, is soon to
disappear,--with its singular wooden vestibule that existed before the
time of the Plague and that escaped the great fire of 1666. On the site
of Northumberland House stands the Grand Hotel. The gravestones that
formerly paved the precinct of Westminster Abbey have been removed, to
make way for grassy lawns intersected with pathways. In Southwark,
across the Thames, the engine-room of the brewery of Messrs. Barclay &
Perkins occupies the site of the Globe Theatre, in which most of
Shakespeare's plays were first produced. One of the most venerable and
beautiful churches in London, that of St. Bartholomew the Great,--a
gray, mouldering temple, of the twelfth century, hidden away in a corner
of Smithfield,--is desecrated by the irruption of an adjacent shop, the
staircase hall of which breaks cruelly into the sacred edifice and
impends above the altar. On July 12, 1882, the present writer, walking
in the churchyard of St. Paul's, Covent Garden,--the sepulchre of
William Wycherley, Robert Wilks, Charles Macklin, Joseph Haines, Thomas
King, Samuel Butler, Thomas Southerne, Edward Shuter, Dr. Arne, Thomas
Davies, Edward Kynaston, Richard Estcourt, William Havard, and many
other renowned votaries of literature and the stage,--found workmen
building a new wall to sustain the enclosure, and almost every stone in
the cemetery uprooted and leaning against the adjacent houses. Those
monuments, it was said, would be replaced; but it was impossible not to
consider the chances of error in a new mortuary deal--and the grim
witticism of Rufus Choate, about dilating with the wrong emotion, came
then into remembrance, and did not come amiss.

Illustration: "The Charter House."

Facts such as these, however, bid us remember that even the relics of
the past are passing away, and that cities, unlike human creatures, may
grow to be so old that at last they will become new. It is not wonderful
that London should change its aspect from one decade to another, as the
living surmount and obliterate the dead. Thomas Sutton's Charter-House
School, founded in 1611, when Shakespeare and Ben Jonson were still
writing, was reared upon ground in which several thousand corses were
buried, during the time of the Indian pestilence of 1348; and it still
stands and nourishes--though not as vigorously now as might be wished.
Nine thousand new houses, it is said, are built in the great capital
every year, and twenty-eight miles of new street are thus added to it.
On a Sunday I drove for three hours through the eastern part of London
without coming upon a single trace of the open fields. On the west, all
the region from Kensington to Richmond is settled for most part of the
way; while northward the city is stretching its arms toward Hampstead,
Highgate, and tranquil and blooming Finchley. Truly the spirit of this
age is in strong contrast with that of the time of Henry the Eighth when
(1530), to prevent the increasing size of London, all new buildings were
forbidden to be erected "where no former hath been known to have been."
The march of improvement nowadays carries everything before it: even
British conservatism is at some points giving way: and, noting the
changes that have occurred here within only five years, I am persuaded
that those who would see what remains of the London of which they have
read and dreamed--the London of Dryden and Pope, of Addison, Sheridan,
and Byron, of Betterton, Garrick, and Edmund Kean--will, as time passes,
find more and more difficulty both in tracing the footsteps of fame, and
in finding that sympathetic, reverent spirit which hallows the relics of
genius and renown.

Illustration: "Church Steeple Centered on Moon"



CHAPTER XIV

OLD CHURCHES OF LONDON


Sight-seeing, merely for its own sake, is not to be commended. Hundreds
of persons roam through the storied places of England, carrying nothing
away but the bare sense of travel. It is not the spectacle that
benefits, but the meaning of the spectacle. In the great temples of
religion, in those wonderful cathedrals that are the glory of the old
world, we ought to feel, not merely the physical beauty but the perfect,
illimitable faith, the passionate, incessant devotion, which alone made
them possible. The cold intellect of a sceptical age, like the present,
could never create such a majestic cathedral as that of Canterbury. Not
till the pilgrim feels this truth has he really learned the lesson of
such places,--to keep alive in his heart the capacity of self-sacrifice,
of toil and of tears, for the grandeur and beauty of the spiritual life.
At the tombs of great men we ought to feel something more than a
consciousness of the crumbling clay that moulders within,--something
more even than knowledge of their memorable words and deeds: we ought,
as we ponder on the certainty of death and the evanescence of earthly
things, to realise that art at least is permanent, and that no creature
can be better employed than in noble effort to make the soul worthy of
immortality. The relics of the past, contemplated merely because they
are relics, are nothing. You tire, in this old land, of the endless
array of ruined castles and of wasting graves; you sicken at the thought
of the mortality of a thousand years, decaying at your feet, and you
long to look again on roses and the face of childhood, the ocean and the
stars. But not if the meaning of the past is truly within your sympathy;
not if you perceive its associations as feeling equally with knowledge;
not if you truly know that its lessons are not of death but of life!
To-day builds over the ruins of yesterday, as well in the soul of man as
on the vanishing cities that mark his course. There need be no regret
that the present should, in this sense, obliterate the past.

Much, however, as London has changed, and constantly as it continues to
change, many objects still remain, and long will continue to remain,
that startle and impress the sensitive mind. Through all its wide
compass, by night and day, flows and beats a turbulent, resounding tide
of activity, and hundreds of trivial and vacuous persons, sordid,
ignorant, and commonplace tramp to and fro amid its storied antiquities,
heedless of their existence. Through such surroundings, but finding here
and there a sympathetic guide or a friendly suggestion, the explorer
must make his way,--lonely in the crowd, and walking like one who lives
in a dream. Yet he never will drift in vain through a city like this. I
went one night into the cloisters of Westminster Abbey--that part, the
South Walk, which is still accessible after the gates have been closed.
The stars shone down upon the blackening walls and glimmering windows of
the great cathedral; the grim, mysterious arches were dimly lighted; the
stony pathways, stretching away beneath the venerable building, seemed
to lose themselves in caverns of darkness; not a sound was heard but the
faint rustling of the grass upon the cloister green. Every stone there
is the mark of a sepulchre; every breath of the night wind seemed the
whisper of a gliding ghost. There, among the crowded graves, rest Anne
Oldfield and Anne Bracegirdle,--in Queen Anne's reign such brilliant
luminaries of the stage,--and there was buried the dust of Aaron Hill,
poet and dramatist, once manager of Drury Lane, who wrote _The Fair
Inconstant_ for Barton Booth, and some notably felicitous love-songs.
There, too, are the relics of Susanna Maria Arne (Mrs. Theo. Cibber),
Mrs. Dancer, Thomas Betterton, and Spranger Barry. Sitting upon the
narrow ledge that was the monks' rest, I could touch, close at hand, the
tomb of a mitred abbot, while at my feet was the great stone that covers
twenty-six monks of Westminster who perished by the Plague nearly six
hundred years ago. It would scarcely be believed that the doors of
dwellings open upon that gloomy spot; that ladies may sometimes be seen
tending flowers upon the ledges that roof those cloister walks. Yet so
it is; and in such a place, at such a time, you comprehend better than
before the self-centred, serious, ruminant, romantic character of the
English mind,--which loves, more than anything else in the world, the
privacy of august surroundings and a sombre and stately solitude. It
hardly need be said that you likewise obtain here a striking sense of
the power of contrast. I was again aware of this, a little later, when,
seeing a dim light in St. Margaret's church near by, I entered that old
temple and found the men of the choir at their rehearsal, and presently
observed on the wall a brass plate which announces that Sir Walter
Raleigh was buried here, in the chancel,--after being decapitated for
high treason in the Palace Yard outside. Such things are the surprises
of this historic capital. This inscription begs the reader to remember
Raleigh's virtues as well as his faults,--a plea, surely, that every man
might well wish should be made for himself at last. I thought of the
verses that the old warrior-poet is said to have left in his Bible, when
they led him out to die--

     "Even such is time; that takes in trust
               Our youth, our joys, our all we have,
     And pays us nought but age and dust;
               Which, in the dark and silent grave,
     When we have wandered all our ways,
               Shuts up the story of our days.--
     But from this earth, this grave, this dust,
               My God shall raise me up, I trust."

This church contains a window commemorative of Raleigh, presented by
Americans, and inscribed with these lines, by Lowell--

     "The New World's sons, from England's breast we drew
               Such milk as bids remember whence we came;
     Proud of her past, wherefrom our future grew,
               This window we inscribe with Raleigh's name."

It also contains a window commemorative of Caxton, presented by the
printers and publishers of London, which is inscribed with these lines
by Tennyson--

     "Thy prayer was Light--more Light--while Time shall last,
          Thou sawest a glory growing on the night,
      But not the shadows which that light would cast
          Till shadows vanish in the Light of Light."

In St. Margaret's--a storied haunt, for shining names alike of nobles
and poets--was also buried John Skelton, another of the old bards (obiit
1529), the enemy and satirist of Cardinal Wolsey and Sir Thomas More,
one of whom he described as "madde Amaleke," and the other as "dawcock
doctor." Their renown has managed to survive those terrific shafts; but
at least this was a falcon who flew at eagles. Here the poet Campbell
was married,--October 11, 1803. Such old churches as this--guarding so
well their treasures of history--are, in a special sense, the
traveller's blessings. At St. Giles's, Cripplegate, the janitor is a
woman; and she will point out to you the lettered stone that formerly
marked the grave of Milton. It is in the nave, but it has been moved to
a place about twelve feet from its original position,--the remains of
the illustrious poet being, in fact, beneath the floor of a pew, on the
left of the central aisle, about the middle of the church: albeit there
is a story, possibly true, that, on an occasion when this church was
repaired, in August, 1790, the coffin of Milton suffered profanation,
and his bones were dispersed.

Illustration: "St. Giles', Cripplegate."

Among the monuments hard by is a fine marble bust of Milton, placed
against the wall, and it is said, by way of enhancing its value, that
George the Third came here to see it.¹ Several of the neighbouring
inscriptions are of astonishing quaintness. The adjacent churchyard--an
eccentric, sequestered, lonesome bit of grassy ground, teeming with
monuments, and hemmed in with houses, terminates, at one end, in a piece
of the old Roman wall of London (A.D. 306),--an adamantine structure of
cemented flints--which has lasted from the days of Constantine, and
which bids fair to last forever. I shall always remember that strange
nook with the golden light of a summer morning shining upon it, the
birds twittering among its graves, and all around it such an atmosphere
of solitude and rest as made it seem, though in the heart of the great
city, a thousand miles from any haunt of man. (It was formally opened as
a garden for public recreation on July 8, 1891.)

¹ This memorial bears the following inscription: "John Milton. Author of
'Paradise Lost.' Born, December 1608. Died, November 1674. His father,
John Milton, died, March 1646. They were both interred in this church."

St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, an ancient and venerable temple, the church of
the priory of the nuns of St. Helen, built in the thirteenth century, is
full of relics of the history of England. The priory, which adjoined
this church, has long since disappeared and portions of the building
have been restored; but the noble Gothic columns and the commemorative
sculpture remain unchanged. Here are the tombs of Sir John Crosby, who
built Crosby Place (1466), Sir Thomas Gresham, who founded both Gresham
College and the Royal Exchange in London, and Sir William Pickering,
once Queen Elizabeth's Minister to Spain and one of the amorous
aspirants for her royal hand; and here, in a gloomy chapel, stands the
veritable altar at which, it is said, the Duke of Gloster received
absolution, after the disappearance of the princes in the Tower.
Standing at that altar, in the cool silence of the lonely church and the
waning light of afternoon, it was easy to conjure up his slender,
slightly misshapen form, decked in the rich apparel that he loved, his
handsome, aquiline, thoughtful face, the drooping head, the glittering
eyes, the nervous hand that toyed with the dagger, and the stealthy
stillness of his person, from head to foot, as he knelt there before the
priest and perhaps mocked both himself and heaven with the form of
prayer.

Illustration: "Sir John Crosby's Monument."

Every place that Richard touched is haunted by his magnetic presence. In
another part of the church you are shown the tomb of a person whose will
provided that the key of his sepulchre should be placed beside his body,
and that the door should be opened once a year, for a hundred years. It
seems to have been his expectation to awake and arise; but the allotted
century has passed and his bones are still quiescent.

Illustration: "Gresham's Monument."

How calmly they sleep--those warriors who once filled the world with the
tumult of their deeds! If you go into St. Mary's, in the Temple, you
will stand above the dust of the Crusaders and see the beautiful copper
effigies of them, recumbent on the marble pavement, and feel and know,
as perhaps you never did before, the calm that follows the tempest. St.
Mary's was built in 1240 and restored in 1828. It would be difficult to
find a lovelier specimen of Norman architecture--at once massive and
airy, perfectly simple, yet rich with beauty, in every line and scroll.

Illustration: "Goldsmith's House."

There is only one other church in Great Britain, it is said, which has,
like this, a circular vestibule. The stained glass windows, both here
and at St. Helen's, are very glorious. The organ at St. Mary's was
selected by Jeffreys, afterwards infamous as the wicked judge. The
pilgrim who pauses to muse at the grave of Goldsmith may often hear its
solemn, mournful tones. I heard them thus, and was thinking of Dr.
Johnson's tender words, when he first learned that Goldsmith was dead:
"Poor Goldy was wild--very wild--but he is so no more." The room in
which he died, a heart-broken man at only forty-six, was but a little
way from the spot where he sleeps.¹ The noises of Fleet Street are heard
there only as a distant murmur. But birds chirp over him, and leaves
flutter down upon his tomb, and every breeze that sighs around the gray
turrets of the ancient Temple breathes out his requiem.

¹ No. 2 Brick Court, Middle Temple.--In 1757-58 Goldsmith was employed
by a chemist, near Fish Street Hill. When he wrote his Inquiry into the
Present State of Polite Learning in Europe he was living in Green Arbour
Court, "over Break-neck Steps." At a lodging in Wine Office Court, Fleet
Street, he wrote The Vicar of Wakefield. Afterwards he had lodgings at
Canonbury House, Islington, and in 1764, in the Library Staircase of the
Inner Temple.

Illustration: "A Bit from Clare Court"



CHAPTER XV

LITERARY SHRINES OF LONDON


The mind that can reverence historic associations needs no explanation
of the charm that such associations possess. There are streets and
houses in London which, for pilgrims of this class, are haunted with
memories and hallowed with an imperishable light--that not even the
dreary commonness of everyday life can quench or dim. Almost every great
author in English literature has here left behind him some personal
trace, some relic that brings us at once into his living presence. In
the time of Shakespeare,--of whom it may be noted that wherever you find
him at all you find him in select and elegant neighbourhoods,--St.
Helen's parish was a secluded and peaceful quarter of the town; and
there the poet had his residence, convenient to the theatre in
Blackfriars, in which he is known to have owned a share. It is said that
he dwelt at number 134 Aldersgate Street (the house has been
demolished), and in that region,--amid all the din of traffic and all
the strange adjuncts of a new age,--those who love him are in his
company. Milton was born in a court adjacent to Bread Street, Cheapside,
and the explorer comes upon him as a resident in St. Bride's
churchyard,--where the poet Lovelace was buried,--and at the house which
is now No. 19 York Street, Westminster (in later times occupied by
Bentham and by Hazlitt), and in Jewin Street, Aldersgate. When secretary
to Cromwell he lived in Scotland Yard, where now is the headquarters of
the London police. His last home was in Artillery Walk, Bunhill Fields,
but the visitor to that spot finds it covered by the Artillery barracks.
Walking through King Street, Westminster, you will not forget Edmund
Spenser, who died there, in grief and destitution, a victim to the same
inhuman spirit of Irish ruffianism that is still disgracing humanity and
troubling the peace of the world. Everybody remembers Ben Jonson's terse
record of that calamity: "The Irish having robbed Spenser's goods and
burnt his house and a little child new-born, he and his wife escaped,
and after he died, for lack of bread, in King Street." Jonson himself is
closely and charmingly associated with places that may still be seen. He
passed his boyhood near Charing Cross--having been born in Hartshorn
Lane, now Northumberland Street--and went to the parish school of St.
Martin-in-the-Fields; and those who roam around Lincoln's Inn will call
to mind that this great poet helped to build it--a trowel in one hand
and Horace in the other. His residence, in his days of fame, was just
outside of Temple Bar--but all that neighbourhood is new at the present
time.

The Mermaid, which he frequented--with Shakespeare, Fletcher, Herrick,
Chapman, and Donne--was in Bread Street, but no trace of it remains; and
a banking-house stands now on the site of the Devil Tavern, in Fleet
Street, where the Apollo Club, which he founded, used to meet. The
famous inscription, "O rare Ben Jonson," is three times cut in the
Abbey--once in Poets' Corner and twice in the north aisle where he was
buried, the smaller of the two slabs marking the place of his vertical
grave.

Illustration: "A Bit from Clare Market."

Dryden once dwelt in a narrow, dingy, quaint house, in Fetter Lane,--the
street in which Dean Swift has placed the home of Gulliver, and where
now (1882) the famous Doomsday Book is kept,--but later he removed to a
finer dwelling, in Gerrard Street, Soho, which was the scene of his
death. Both buildings are marked with mural tablets and neither of them
seems to have undergone much change. (The house in Fetter Lane is
gone--1891.) Edmund Burke's house, also in Gerrard Street, is a
beer-shop; but his memory hallows the place, and an inscription upon it
proudly announces that here he lived. Dr. Johnson's house in Gough
Square bears likewise a mural tablet, and, standing at its time-worn
threshold, the visitor needs no effort of fancy to picture that uncouth
figure shambling through the crooked lanes that lead into this queer,
sombre, melancholy retreat. In that house he wrote the first Dictionary
of the English language and the immortal letter to Lord Chesterfield. In
Gough Square lived and died Hugh Kelly, dramatist, author of _The School
of Wives_ and _The Man of Reason_, and one of the friends of Goldsmith,
at whose burial he was present. The historical antiquarian society that
has marked many of the literary shrines of London has rendered a great
service. The houses associated with Reynolds and Hogarth, in Leicester
Square, Byron, in Holies Street, Benjamin Franklin and Peter the Great,
in Craven Street, Campbell, in Duke Street, St. James's, Garrick, in the
Adelphi Terrace, Michael Farraday, in Blandford Street, and
Mrs. Siddons, in Baker Street, are but a few of the historic spots which
are thus commemorated. Much, however, remains to be done. One would like
to know, for instance, in which room in "The Albany" it was that Byron
wrote _Lara_¹ in which of the houses of Buckingham Street Coleridge had
his lodging while he was translating _Wallenstein;_ whereabouts in
Bloomsbury Square was the residence of Akenside, who wrote _The
Pleasures of Imagination,_ and of Croly, who wrote _Salathiel;_ or where
it was that Gray lived, when he established himself close by Russell
Square, in order to be one of the first--as he continued to be one of
the most constant--students at the then newly opened British Museum
(1759).

¹ Byron was born at No. 34 Holies Street, Cavendish Square. While he was
at school in Dulwich Grove his mother lived in a house in Sloane
Terrace. Other houses associated with him are No. 8 St. James Street; a
lodging in Bennet Street; No. 2 "The Albany"--a lodging that he rented
of Lord Althorpe, and entered on March 28, 1814; and No. 139 Piccadilly,
where his daughter, Ada, was born, and where Lady Byron left him. This,
at present, is the home of the genial scholar Sir Algernon Borthwick
(1893). John Murray's house, where Byron's fragment of Autobiography was
burned, is in Albemarle Street. Byron's body, when brought home from
Greece, lay in state at No. 25 Great George Street, Westminster, before
being taken north, to Hucknall-Torkard church, in Nottinghamshire, for
burial.

These, and such as these, may seem trivial things; but Nature has denied
an unfailing source of innocent happiness to the man who can find no
pleasure in them. For my part, when rambling in Fleet Street it is a
special delight to remember even so slight an incident as that recorded
of the author of the _Elegy in a Country Churchyard_,--that he once saw
there his satirist, Dr. Johnson, rolling and puffing along the sidewalk,
and cried out to a friend, "Here comes Ursa Major." For the true lovers
of literature "Ursa Major" walks oftener in Fleet Street to-day than any
living man.

A good thread of literary research might be profitably followed by him
who should trace the footsteps of all the poets that have held, in
England, the office of laureate. John Kay was laureate in the reign of
Edward IV.; Andrew Bernard in that of Henry VII.; John Skelton in that
of Henry VIII.; and Edmund Spenser in that of Elizabeth.

Illustration: "Fleet Street in 1780."

Since then the succession has included the names of Samuel Daniel,
Michael Drayton, Ben Jonson, Sir William Davenant, John Dryden, Thomas
Shadwell, Nahum Tate, Nicholas Rowe, Lawrence Eusden, Colley Cibber,
William Whitehead, Thomas Wharton, Henry James Pye, Robert Southey,
William Wordsworth, and Alfred Tennyson--who, until his death, in 1892,
wore, in spotless renown, that

      "Laurel greener from the brows
      Of him that utter'd nothing base."

Most of those bards were intimately associated with London, and several
of them are buried in the Abbey. It is, indeed, because so many storied
names are written upon gravestones that the explorer of the old churches
of London finds so rich a harvest of impressive association and lofty
thought. Few persons visit them, and you are likely to find yourself
comparatively alone in rambles of this kind. I went one morning into St.
Martin--once "in the fields," now in one of the busiest thoroughfares at
the centre of the city--and found there only a pew-opener preparing for
the service, and an organist playing an anthem. It is a beautiful
structure, with its graceful spire and its columns of weather-beaten
stone, curiously stained in gray and sooty black, and it is almost as
famous for theatrical names as St. Paul's, Covent Garden, or St.
George's, Bloomsbury, or St. Clement Danes. Here, in a vault beneath the
church, was buried the bewitching and affectionate Nell Gwyn; here is
the grave of James Smith, joint author with his brother Horace--who was
buried at Tunbridge Wells--of _The Rejected Addresses;_ here rests
Yates, the original Sir Oliver Surface; and here were laid the ashes of
the romantic and sprightly Mrs. Centlivre, and of George Farquhar, whom
neither youth, genius, patient labour, nor sterling achievement could
save from a life of misfortune and an untimely and piteous death. A
cheerier association of this church is with Thomas Moore, the poet of
Ireland, who was here married.

Illustration: "Gray's Inn Square."

At St. Giles-in-the-Fields, again, are the graves of George Chapman, who
translated Homer, Andrew Marvel, who wrote such lovely lyrics of love,
Rich, the manager, who brought out Gay's _Beggar's Opera_, and James
Shirley, the fine old dramatist and poet, whose immortal couplet has
been so often murmured in such solemn haunts as these--

      "Only the actions of the just
      Smell sweet and blossom in the dust."

Shirley lived in Gray's Inn when he was writing his plays, and he was
fortunate in the favour of queen Henrietta Maria, wife to Charles the
First; but when the Puritan times arrived he fell into misfortune and
poverty and became a school-teacher in Whitefriars. In 1666 he was
living in or near Fleet Street, and his home was one of the many
dwellings that were destroyed in the great fire. Then he fled, with his
wife, into the parish of St. Giles-in-the-Fields, where, overcome with
grief and terror, they both died, within twenty-four hours of each
other, and were buried in the same grave.

Illustration: "Shield with Gargoyle Head"



CHAPTER XVI

A HAUNT OF EDMUND KEAN


To muse over the dust of those about whom we have read so much--the
great actors, thinkers, and writers, the warriors and statesmen for whom
the play is ended and the lights are put out--is to come very near to
them, and to realise more deeply than ever before their close
relationship with our own humanity; and we ought to be wiser and better
for this experience. It is good, also, to seek out the favourite haunts
of our heroes, and call them up as they were in their lives. One of the
happiest accidents of a London stroll was the finding of the Harp
Tavern,¹ in Russell Street, Covent Garden, near the stage door of Drury
Lane theatre, which was the accustomed resort of Edmund Kean.

¹ An account of the Harp, in the _Victuallers' Gazette_, says that this
tavern has had within its doors every actor of note since the days of
Garrick, and many actresses, also, of the latter part of the eighteenth
century; and it mentions, as visitants there, Dora Jordan, Nance
Oldfield, Anne Bracegirdle, Kitty Clive, Harriet Mellon, Barton Booth,
Quin, Cibber, Macklin, Grimaldi, Eliza Vestris, and Miss Stephens--who
became Countess of Essex.

Carpenters and masons were at work upon it when I entered, and it was
necessary almost to creep amid heaps of broken mortar and rubbish
beneath their scaffolds, in order to reach the interior rooms. Here, at
the end of a narrow passage, was a little apartment, perhaps fifteen
feet square, with a low ceiling and a bare floor, in which Kean
habitually took his pleasure, in the society of fellow-actors and boon
companions, long ago. A narrow, cushioned bench against the walls, a few
small tables, a chair or two, a number of churchwarden pipes on the
mantlepiece, and portraits of Disraeli and Gladstone, constituted the
furniture. A panelled wainscot and dingy red paper covered the walls,
and a few cobwebs hung from the grimy ceiling. By this time the old room
has been made neat and comely; but then it bore the marks of hard usage
and long neglect, and it seemed all the more interesting for that
reason.

Kean's seat is at the right, as you enter, and just above it a mural
tablet designates the spot,--which is still further commemorated by a
death-mask of the actor, placed on a little shelf of dark wood and
covered with glass. No better portrait could be desired; certainly no
truer one exists. In life this must have been a glorious face. The eyes
are large and prominent, the brow is broad and fine, the mouth wide and
obviously sensitive, the chin delicate, and the nose long, well set, and
indicative of immense force of character. The whole expression of the
face is that of refinement and of great and desolate sadness. Kean, as
is known from the testimony of one who acted with him,¹ was always at
his best in passages of pathos.

¹ The mother of Jefferson, the comedian, described Edmund Kean in this
way. She was a member of the company at the Walnut Street Theatre,
Philadelphia, when he acted there, and it was she who sang for him, when
he acted The Stranger, the well-known lines, by Sheridan,--

      "I have a silent sorrow here,
      A grief I'll ne'er impart;
      It breathes no sigh, it sheds no tear,
      But it consumes my heart."

To hear him speak Othello's farewell was to hear the perfect music of
heart-broken despair. To see him when, as The Stranger, he listened to
the song, was to see the genuine, absolute reality of hopeless sorrow.
He could, of course, thrill his hearers in the ferocious outbursts-of
Richard and Sir Giles, but it was in tenderness and grief that he was
supremely great; and no one will wonder at that who looks upon his noble
face--so eloquent of self-conflict and suffering--even in this cold and
colourless mask of death. It is easy to judge and condemn the sins of a
weak, passionate humanity; but when we think of such creatures of genius
as Edmund Kean and Robert Burns, we ought to consider what demons in
their own souls those wretched men were forced to fight, and by what
agonies they expiated their vices and errors. This little tavern-room
tells the whole mournful story, with death to point the moral, and pity
to breathe its sigh of unavailing regret.

Many of the present frequenters of the Harp are elderly men, whose
conversation is enriched with memories of the stage and with ample
knowledge and judicious taste in literature and art. They naturally
speak with pride of Kean's association with their favourite resort.
Often in that room the eccentric genius has put himself in pawn, to
exact from the manager of Drury Lane theatre the money needed to relieve
the wants of some brother actor. Often his voice has been heard there,
in the songs that he sang with so much feeling and sweetness and such
homely yet beautiful skill. In the circles of the learned and courtly he
never was really at home; but here he filled the throne and ruled the
kingdom of the revel, and here no doubt every mood of his mind, from
high thought and generous emotion to misanthropical bitterness and
vacant levity, found its unfettered expression. They show you a broken
panel in the high wainscot, which was struck and smashed by a pewter pot
that he hurled at the head of a person who had given him offence; and
they tell you at the same time,--as, indeed, is historically true,--that
he was the idol of his comrades, the first in love, pity, sympathy, and
kindness, and would turn his back, any day, for the least of them, on
the nobles who sought his companionship. There is no better place than
this in which to study the life of Edmund Kean. Old men have been met
with here who saw him on the stage, and even acted with him. The room is
the weekly meeting-place and habitual nightly tryst of an ancient club,
called the City of Lushington, which has existed since the days of the
Regency, and of which these persons are members. The City has its Mayor,
Sheriff, insignia, record-book, and system of ceremonials; and much of
wit, wisdom, and song may be enjoyed at its civic feasts. The names of
its four wards--Lunacy, Suicide, Poverty, and Juniper--are written up in
the four corners of the room, and whoever joins must select his ward.
Sheridan was a member of it, and so was the Regent; and the present
landlord of the Harp (Mr. M'Pherson) preserves among his relics the
chairs in which those gay companions sat, when the author presided over
the initiation of the prince. It is thought that this club grew out of
the society of The Wolves, which was formed by Kean's adherents, when
the elder Booth arose to disturb his supremacy upon the stage. But there
is no malice in it now. Its purposes are simply convivial and literary,
and its tone is that of thorough good-will.¹

¹ A coloured print of this room may be found in that eccentric book _The
Life of an Actor,_ by Pierce Egan: 1825.

One of the gentlest and most winning traits in the English character is
its instinct of companionship as to literature and art. Since the days
of the Mermaid the authors and actors of London have dearly loved and
deeply enjoyed such odd little fraternities of wit as are typified, not
inaptly, by the City of Lushington. There are no rosier hours in my
memory than those that were passed, between midnight and morning, in the
cosy clubs in London. And when dark days come, and foes harass, and the
troubles of life annoy, it will be sweet to think that in still another
sacred retreat of friendship, across the sea, the old armour is gleaming
in the festal lights, where one of the gentlest spirits that ever wore
the laurel of England's love smiles kindly on his comrades and seems to
murmur the charm of English hospitality--

      "Let no one take beyond this threshold hence
      Words uttered here in friendship's confidence."



CHAPTER XVII

STOKE-POGIS AND THOMAS GRAY


It is a cool afternoon in July, and the shadows are falling eastward on
fields of waving grain and lawns of emerald velvet. Overhead a few light
clouds are drifting, and the green boughs of the great elms are gently
stirred by a breeze from the west. Across one of the more distant fields
a flock of sable rooks--some of them fluttering and cawing--wings its
slow and melancholy flight. There is the sound of the whetting of a
scythe, and, near by, the twittering of many birds upon a cottage roof.
On either side of the country road, which runs like a white rivulet
through banks of green, the hawthorn hedges are shining and the bright
sod is spangled with all the wild-flowers of an English summer. An odour
of lime-trees and of new-mown hay sweetens the air for many miles
around. Far off, on the horizon's verge, just glimmering through the
haze, rises the imperial citadel of Windsor. And close at hand a little
child points to a gray spire¹ peering out of a nest of ivy, and tells me
that this is Stoke-Pogis church.

¹ In Gray's time there was no spire on the church--nor is the spire an
improvement to the tower.

If peace dwells anywhere upon the earth its dwelling-place is here. You
come into this little churchyard by a pathway across the park and
through a wooden turnstile; and in one moment the whole world is left
behind and forgotten. Here are the nodding elms; here is the yew-tree's
shade; here "heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap." All these
graves seem very old. The long grass waves over them, and some of the
low stones that mark them are entirely shrouded with ivy. Many of the
"frail memorials" are made of wood. None of them is neglected or
forlorn, but all of them seem to have been scattered here, in that sweet
disorder which is the perfection of rural loveliness. There never, of
course, could have been any thought of creating this effect; yet here it
remains, to win your heart forever. And here, amid this mournful beauty,
the little church itself nestles close to the ground, while every tree
that waves its branches around it, and every vine that clambers on its
surface, seems to clasp it in the arms of love. Nothing breaks the
silence but the sighing of the wind in the great yew-tree at the church
door,--beneath which was the poet's favourite seat, and where the brown
needles, falling, through many an autumn, have made a dense carpet on
the turf. Now and then there is a faint rustle in the ivy; a fitful
bird-note serves but to deepen the stillness; and from a rose-tree near
at hand a few leaves flutter down, in soundless benediction on the dust
beneath.

Illustration: "Stoke-Pogis Church."

Gray was laid in the same grave with his mother, "the careful, tender
mother of many children, one alone of whom," as he wrote upon her
gravestone, "had the misfortune to survive her." Their tomb--a low,
oblong, brick structure, covered with a large slab--stands a few feet
away from the church wall, upon which is a small tablet to denote its
place. The poet's name has not been inscribed above him. There was no
need here of "storied urn or animated bust." The place is his monument,
and the majestic Elegy--giving to the soul of the place a form of
seraphic beauty and a voice of celestial music--is his immortal epitaph.

     "There scatter'd oft, the earliest of ye Year,
          By hands unseen are showers of vi'lets found;
     The Redbreast loves to build & warble there,
          And little Footsteps lightly print the ground."

There is a monument to Gray in Stoke Park, about two hundred yards from
the church; but it seems commemorative of the builder rather than the
poet. They intend to set a memorial window in the church, to honour him,
and the visitor finds there a money-box for the reception of
contributions in aid of this pious design. Nothing will be done amiss
that serves to direct closer attention to his life. It was one of the
best lives ever recorded in the history of literature. It was a life
singularly pure, noble, and beautiful. In two qualities, sincerity and
reticence, it was exemplary almost beyond a parallel; and those are
qualities that literary character in the present day has great need to
acquire. Gray was averse to publicity. He did not sway by the censure of
other men; neither did he need their admiration as his breath of life.
Poetry, to him, was a great art, and he added nothing to literature
until he had first made it as nearly perfect as it could be made by the
thoughtful, laborious exertion of his best powers, superadded to the
spontaneous impulse and flow of his genius. More voluminous writers,
Charles Dickens among the rest, have sneered at him because he wrote so
little. The most colossal form of human complacency is that of the
individual who thinks all other creatures inferior who happen to be
unlike himself. This reticence on the part of Gray was, in fact, the
emblem of his sincerity and the compelling cause of his imperishable
renown. There is a better thing than the great man who is always
speaking; and that is the great man who only speaks when he has a great
word to say. Gray has left only a few poems; but of his principal works
each is perfect in its kind, supreme and unapproachable. He did not test
merit by reference to ill-formed and capricious public opinion, but he
wrought according to the highest standards of art that learning and
taste could furnish. His letters form an English classic. There is no
purer prose in existence; there is not much that is so pure. But the
crowning glory of Gray's nature, the element that makes it so
impressive, the charm that brings the pilgrim to Stoke-Pogis church to
muse upon it, was the self-poised, sincere, and lovely exaltation of its
contemplative spirit. He was a man whose conduct of life would, first of
all, purify, expand, and adorn the temple of his own soul, out of which
should afterward flow, in their own free way, those choral harmonies
that soothe, guide, and exalt the human race. He lived before he wrote.
The soul of the Elegy is the soul of the man. It was his thought--which
he has somewhere expressed in better words than these--that human beings
are only at their best while such feelings endure as are engendered when
death has just taken from us the objects of our love. That was the point
of view from which he habitually looked upon the world; and no man who
has learned the lessons of experience can doubt that he was right.

Gray was twenty-six years old when he wrote the first draft of the
Elegy. He began that poem in 1742, at Stoke-Pogis, and he finished and
published it in 1751. No visitor to this churchyard can miss either its
inspiration or its imagery. The poet has been dead more than a hundred
years, but the scene of his rambles and reveries has suffered no
material change. One of his yew-trees, indeed, much weakened with age,
was some time since blown down, in a storm, and its fragments have been
carried away. The picturesque manor house not far distant was once the
home of Admiral Penn, father of William Penn the famous Quaker.¹

¹ William Penn and his children are buried in the little Jordans
graveyard, not many miles away. The visitor to Stoke-Pogis should not
omit a visit to Upton church, Burnham village, and Binfield. Pope lived
at Binfield when he wrote his poem on Windsor Forest. Upton claims to
have had a share in the inspiration of the Elegy, but Stoke-Pogis was
unquestionably his place of residence when he wrote it. Langley Marish
ought to be visited also, and Horton--where Milton wrote "L'Allegro,"
"II Penseroso," and "Comus." Chalfont St. Peter is accessible, where
still is standing the house in which Milton finished _Paradise Lost_ and
began _Paradise Regained;_ and from there a short drive will take you to
Beaconsfield, where you may see Edmund Burke's tablet, in the church,
and the monument to Waller, in the churchyard.

All the trees of the region have, of course, waxed and expanded,--not
forgetting the neighbouring beeches of Burnham, among which he loved to
wander, and where he might often have been found, sitting with his book,
at some gnarled wreath of "old fantastic roots." But in its general
characteristics, its rustic homeliness and peaceful beauty, this
"glimmering landscape," immortalised in his verse, is the same on which
his living eyes have looked. There was no need to seek for him in any
special spot. The house in which he once lived might, no doubt, be
discovered; but every nook and vista, every green lane and upland lawn
and ivy-mantled tower of this delicious solitude is haunted with his
presence.

The night is coming on and the picture will soon be dark; but never
while memory lasts can it fade out of the heart. What a blessing would
be ours, if only we could hold forever that exaltation of the spirit,
that sweet, resigned serenity, that pure freedom from all the passions
of nature and all the cares of life, which comes upon us in such a place
as this! Alas, and again alas! Even with the thought this golden mood
begins to melt away; even with the thought comes our dismissal from its
influence. Nor will it avail us anything now to linger at the shrine.
Fortunate is he, though in bereavement and regret, who parts from beauty
while yet her kiss is warm upon his lips,--waiting not for the last
farewell word, hearing not the last notes of the music, seeing not the
last gleams of sunset as the light dies from the sky. It was a sad
parting, but the memory of the place can never now be despoiled of its
loveliness. As I write these words I stand again in the cool and dusky
silence of the poet's church, with its air of stately age and its
fragrance of cleanliness, while the light of the western sun, broken
into rays of gold and ruby, streams through the painted windows and
softly falls upon the quaint little galleries and decorous pews; and,
looking forth through the low, arched door, I see the dark and
melancholy boughs of the dreaming yew-tree, and, nearer, a shadow of
rippling leaves in the clear sunshine of the churchway path. And all the
time a gentle voice is whispering, in the chambers of thought--

     "No farther seek his merits to disclose,
          Or draw his frailties from their dread abode:
     (There they alike in trembling hope repose),
          The bosom of his Father and his God."

Illustration: "Old Church."



CHAPTER XVIII

AT THE GRAVE OF COLERIDGE


Among the deeply meditative, melodious, and eloquent poems of Wordsworth
there is one---about the burial of Ossian--that glances at the question
of fitness in a place of sepulchre. Not always, for the illustrious
dead, has the final couch of rest been rightly chosen. We think with
resignation, and with a kind of pride, of Keats and Shelley in the
little Protestant burial-ground at Rome. Every heart is touched at the
spectacle of Garrick and Johnson sleeping side by side in Westminster
Abbey. It was right that the dust of Dean Stanley should mingle with the
dust of poets and of kings; and to see--as the present writer did, only
a little while ago--fresh flowers on the stone that covers him, in the
chapel of Henry the Seventh, was to feel a tender gladness and solemn
content. Shakespeare's grave, in the chancel of Stratford church,
awakens the same ennobling awe and melancholy pleasure; and it is with
kindred feeling that you linger at the tomb of Gray. But who can be
content that poor Letitia Landon should sleep beneath the pavement of a
barrack, with soldiers trampling over her dust? One might almost think,
sometimes, that the spirit of calamity, which follows certain persons
throughout the whole of life, had pursued them even in death, to haunt
about their repose and to mar all the gentleness of association that
ought to hallow it. Chatterton, a pauper and a suicide, was huddled into
a workhouse graveyard, the very place of which--in Shoe Lane, covered
now by Farringdon Market--has disappeared. Otway, miserable in his love
for Elizabeth Barry, the actress, and said to have starved to death in
the Minories, near the Tower of London, was laid in a vault of St.
Clement Danes, in the middle of the Strand, where never the green leaves
rustle, but where the roar of the mighty city pours on in continual
tumult. That church holds also the remains of William Mountfort, the
actor, slain in a brawl by Lord Mohun; of Nat Lee, "the mad poet"; of
George Powell, the tragedian, of brilliant and deplorable memory; and of
the handsome Hildebrand Horden, cut off by a violent death in the
springtime of his youth. Hildebrand Horden was the son of a clergyman of
Twickenham and lived in the reign of William and Mary. Dramatic
chronicles say that he was possessed of great talent as an actor, and of
remarkable personal beauty. He was stabbed, in a quarrel, at the Rose
Tavern; and after he had been laid out for the grave, such was the
lively feminine interest in his handsome person, many ladies came, some
masked and others openly, to view him in his shroud. This is mentioned
in Colley Cibber's _Apology._ Charles Coffey, the dramatist, author of
_The Devil upon Two Sticks,_ and other plays, lies in the vaults of St.
Clement; as likewise does Thomas Rymer, historiographer for William
III., successor to Shadwell, and author of Foedera, in seventeen
volumes. In the church of St. Clement you may see the pew in which Dr.
Johnson habitually sat when he attended divine service there. It was his
favourite church. The pew is in the gallery; and to those who honour the
passionate integrity and fervent, devout zeal of the stalwart old
champion of letters, it is indeed a sacred shrine. Henry Mossop, one of
the stateliest of stately actors, perishing, by slow degrees, of penury
and grief,--which he bore in proud silence,--found a refuge, at last, in
the barren gloom of Chelsea churchyard. Theodore Hook, the cheeriest
spirit of his time, the man who filled every hour of life with the
sunshine of his wit and was wasted and degraded by his own brilliancy,
rests, close by Bishop Sherlock, in Fulham churchyard,--one of the
dreariest spots in the suburbs of London. Perhaps it does not much
signify, when once the play is over, in what oblivion our crumbling
relics are hidden away. Yet to most human creatures these are sacred
things, and many a loving heart, for all time to come, will choose a
consecrated spot for the repose of the dead, and will echo the tender
words of Longfellow,--so truly expressive of a universal and reverent
sentiment--

     "Take them, O Grave, and let them lie
          Folded upon thy narrow shelves,
     As garments by the soul laid by
          And precious only to ourselves."

One of the most impressive of the many literary pilgrimages that I have
made was that which brought me to the house in which Coleridge died, and
the place where he was buried. The student needs not to be told that
this poet, born in 1772, the year after Gray's death, bore the white
lilies of pure literature till 1834, when he too entered into his rest.
The last nineteen years of the life of Coleridge were spent in a house
at Highgate; and there, within a few steps of each other, the visitor
may behold his dwelling and his tomb. The house is one in a block of
dwellings, situated in what is called the Grove--a broad, embowered
street, a little way from the centre of the village. There are gardens
attached to these houses, both in the front and the rear, and the smooth
and peaceful roadside walks in the Grove itself are pleasantly shaded by
elms of noble size and abundant foliage. These were young trees when
Coleridge saw them, and all this neighbourhood, in his day, was but
thinly settled. Looking from his chamber window he could see the dusky
outlines of sombre London, crowned with the dome of St. Paul's on the
southern horizon, while, more near, across a fertile and smiling valley,
the gray spire of Hampstead church would bound his prospect, rising
above the verdant woodland of Caen.¹ In front were beds of flowers, and
all around he might hear the songs of birds that filled the fragrant air
with their happy, careless music. Not far away stood the old church of
Highgate, long since destroyed, in which he used to worship, and close
by was the Gate House inn, primitive, quaint, and cosy, which still is
standing, to comfort the weary traveller with its wholesome hospitality.

¹ "Come in the first stage, so as either to walk, or to be driven in
Mr. Gilman's gig, to Caen wood and its delicious groves and alleys, the
finest in England, a grand cathedral aisle of giant lime-trees, Pope's
favourite composition walk, when with the old Earl."--_Coleridge to
Crabb Robinson. Highgate, June_ 1817

Illustration: "The White Hart."

Highgate, with all its rural peace, must have been a bustling place in
the old times, for all the travel went through it that passed either
into or out of London by the great north road,--that road in which
Whittington heard the prophetic summons of the bells, and where may
still be seen, suitably and rightly marked, the site of the stone on
which he sat to rest. Here, indeed, the coaches used to halt, either to
feed or to change horses, and here the many neglected little taverns
still remaining, with their odd names and their swinging signs, testify
to the discarded customs of a bygone age. Some years ago a new road was
cut, so that travellers might wind around the hill, and avoid climbing
the steep ascent to the village; and since then the grass has begun to
grow in the streets. But such bustle as once enlivened the solitude of
Highgate could never have been otherwise than agreeable diversion to its
inhabitants; while for Coleridge himself, as we can well imagine, the
London coach was welcome indeed, that brought to his door such
well-loved friends as Charles Lamb, Joseph Henry Green, Crabb Robinson,
Wordsworth, or Talfourd.

To this retreat the author of _The Ancient Mariner_ withdrew in 1815, to
live with his friend James Gilman, a surgeon, who had undertaken to
rescue him from the demon of opium, but who, as De Quincey intimates,
was lured by the poet into the service of the very fiend whom both had
striven to subdue. It was his last refuge, and he never left it till he
was released from life. As you ramble in that quiet neighbourhood your
fancy will not fail to conjure up his placid figure,--the silver hair,
the pale face, the great, luminous, changeful blue eyes, the somewhat
portly form clothed in black raiment, the slow, feeble walk, the sweet,
benignant manner, the voice that was perfect melody, and the
inexhaustible talk that was the flow of a golden sea of eloquence and
wisdom. Coleridge was often seen walking there, with a book in his hand;
and the children of the village knew him and loved him. His presence is
impressed forever upon the place, to haunt and to hallow it. He was a
very great man. The wings of his imagination wave easily in the opal air
of the highest heaven. The power and majesty of his thought are such as
establish forever in the human mind the conviction of personal
immortality. Yet how forlorn the ending that this stately soul was
enforced to make! For more than thirty years he was the slave of opium.
It blighted his home; it alienated his wife; it ruined his health; it
made him utterly wretched. "I have been, through a large portion of my
later life," he wrote, in 1834, "a sufferer, sorely afflicted with
bodily pains, languor, and manifold infirmities." But behind all
this,--more dreadful still and harder to bear,--was he not the slave of
some ingrained perversity of the mind itself, some helpless and hopeless
irresolution of character, some enervating spell of that sublime yet
pitiable dejection of Hamlet, which kept him forever at war with
himself, and, last of all, cast him out upon the homeless ocean of
despair, to drift away into ruin and death? There are shapes more awful
than his, in the records of literary history,--the ravaged, agonising
form of Swift, for instance, and the wonderful, desolate face of Byron;
but there is no figure more forlorn and pathetic.

This way the memory of Coleridge came upon me, standing at his grave. He
should have been laid in some wild, free place, where the grass could
grow above him and the trees could wave their branches over his head.
They placed him in a ponderous tomb, of gray stone, in Highgate
churchyard, and in later times they have reared a new building above
it,--the grammar-school of the village,--so that now the tomb, fenced
round with iron, is in a cold, barren, gloomy crypt, accessible indeed
from the churchyard, through several arches, but grim and doleful in all
its surroundings; as if the evil and cruel fate that marred his life
were still triumphant over his ashes.



CHAPTER XIX

ON BARNET BATTLE-FIELD


In England, as elsewhere, every historic spot is occupied; and of course
it sometimes happens, at such a spot, that its association is marred and
its sentiment almost destroyed by the presence of the persons and the
interests of to-day. The visitor to such places must carry with him not
only knowledge and sensibility but imagination and patience. He will not
find the way strewn with roses nor the atmosphere of poetry ready-made
for his enjoyment. That atmosphere, indeed, for the most
part--especially in the cities--he must himself supply. Relics do not
robe themselves for exhibition. The Past is utterly indifferent to its
worshippers. All manner of little obstacles, too, will arise before the
pilgrim, to thwart him in his search. The mental strain and
bewilderment, the inevitable physical weariness, the soporific influence
of the climate, the tumult of the streets, the frequent and
disheartening spectacle of poverty, squalor, and vice, the capricious
and untimely rain, the inconvenience of long distances, the ill-timed
arrival and consequent disappointment, the occasional nervous sense of
loneliness and insecurity, the inappropriate boor, the ignorant,
garrulous porter, the extortionate cabman, and the jeering
bystander--all these must be regarded with resolute indifference by him
who would ramble, pleasantly and profitably, in the footprints of
English history. Everything depends, in other words, upon the eyes with
which you observe and the spirit which you impart. Never was a keener
truth uttered than in the couplet of Wordsworth--

      "Minds that have nothing to confer
      Find little to perceive."

To the philosophic stranger, however, even this prosaic occupancy of
historic places is not without its pleasurable, because humorous,
significance. Such an observer in England will sometimes be amused as
well as impressed by a sudden sense of the singular incidental position
into which--partly through the lapse of years, and partly through a
peculiarity of national character--the scenes of famous events, not to
say the events themselves, have gradually drifted. I thought of this one
night, when, in Whitehall Gardens, I was looking at the statue of James
the Second, and a courteous policeman came up and silently turned the
light of his bull's-eye upon the inscription. A scene of more
incongruous elements, or one suggestive of a more serio-comic contrast,
could not be imagined. I thought of it again when standing on the
village green near Barnet, and viewing, amid surroundings both pastoral
and ludicrous, the column which there commemorates the defeat and death
of the great Earl of Warwick, and, consequently, the final triumph of
the Grown over the last of the Barons of England.

It was toward the close of a cool summer day, and of a long drive
through the beautiful hedgerows of sweet and verdurous Middlesex, that I
came to the villages of Barnet and Hadley, and went over the field of
King Edward's victory,--that fatal glorious field, on which Gloster
showed such resolute valour, and where Neville, supreme and magnificent
in disaster, fought on foot, to make sure that himself might go down in
the stormy death of all his hopes. More than four hundred years have
drifted by since that misty April morning when the star of Warwick was
quenched in blood, and ten thousand men were slaughtered to end the
strife between the Barons and the Crown; yet the results of that
conflict are living facts in the government of England now, and in the
fortunes of her inhabitants. If you were unaware of the solid simplicity
and proud reticence of the English character,--leading it to merge all
its shining deeds in one continuous fabric of achievement, like jewels
set in a cloth of gold,--you might expect to find this spot adorned with
a structure of more than common splendour. What you actually do find
there is a plain monument, standing in the middle of a common, at the
junction of several roads,--the chief of which are those leading to
Hatfield and St. Albans, in Hertfordshire,--and on one side of this
column you may read, in letters of faded black, the comprehensive
statement that "Here was fought the famous battle between Edward the
Fourth and the Earl of Warwick, April 14th, anno 1471, in which the Earl
was defeated and slain."¹

¹ The words "stick no bills" have been intrusively added, just below
this inscription.

Illustration: "Column on Barnet Battle-Field."

In my reverie, standing at the foot of this humble, weather-stained
monument, I saw the long range of Barnet hills, mantled with grass and
flowers and with the golden haze of a morning in spring, swarming with
gorgeous horsemen and glittering with spears and banners; and I heard
the vengeful clash of arms, the horrible neighing of maddened steeds,
the furious shouts of onset, and all the nameless cries and groans of
battle, commingled in a thrilling yet hideous din. Here rode King
Edward, intrepid, handsome, and stalwart, with his proud, cruel smile
and his long, yellow hair. There Warwick swung his great two-handed
sword, and mowed his foes like grain. And there the fiery form of
Richard, splendid in burnished steel, darted like the scorpion, dealing
death at every blow; till at last, in fatal mischance, the sad star of
Oxford, assailed by its own friends, was swept out of the field, and the
fight drove, raging, into the valleys of Hadley. How strangely, though,
did this fancied picture contrast with the actual scene before me! At a
little distance, all around the village green, the peaceful, embowered
cottages kept their sentinel watch. Over the careless, straggling grass
went the shadow of the passing cloud. Not a sound was heard, save the
rustle of leaves and the low laughter of some little children, playing
near the monument. Close by and at rest was a flock of geese, couched
upon the cool earth, and, as their custom is, supremely contented with
themselves and all the world.

And at the foot of the column, stretched out at his full length, in
tattered garments that scarcely covered his nakedness, reposed the
British labourer, fast asleep upon the sod. No more Wars of the Roses
now; but calm retirement, smiling plenty, cool western winds, and sleep
and peace--

      "With a red rose and a white rose
      Leaning, nodding at the wall."

Illustration: "Farm-house."



CHAPTER XX

A GLIMPSE OF CANTERBURY


One of the most impressive spots on earth, and one that especially
teaches--with silent, pathetic eloquence and solemn admonition--the
great lesson of contrast, the incessant flow of the ages and the
inevitable decay and oblivion of the past, is the ancient city of
Canterbury. Years and not merely days of residence there are essential
to the adequate and right comprehension of that wonderful place. Yet
even an hour passed among its shrines will teach you, as no printed word
has ever taught, the measureless power and the sublime beauty of a
perfect religious faith; while, as you stand and meditate in the shadow
of the gray cathedral walls, the pageant of a thousand years of history
will pass before you like a dream. The city itself, with its bright,
swift river (the Stour), its opulence of trees and flowers, its narrow
winding streets, its numerous antique buildings, its many towers, its
fragments of ancient wall and gate, its formal decorations, its air of
perfect cleanliness and thoughtful gravity, its beautiful, umbrageous
suburbs,--where the scarlet of the poppies and the russet red of the
clover make one vast rolling sea of colour and of fragrant
delight,--and, to crown all, its stately character of wealth without
ostentation and industry without tumult, must prove to you a deep and
satisfying comfort. But, through all this, pervading and surmounting it
all, the spirit of the place pours in upon your heart, and floods your
whole being with the incense and organ music of passionate, jubilant
devotion.

Illustration: "Falstaff Inn and West Gate, Canterbury."

It was not superstition that reared those gorgeous fanes of worship
which still adorn, even while they no longer consecrate, the
ecclesiastic cities of the old world. In the age of Augustine, Dunstan,
and Ethelnoth humanity had begun to feel its profound and vital need of
a sure and settled reliance on religious faith. The drifting spirit,
worn with sorrow, doubt, and self-conflict, longed to be at
peace--longed for a refuge equally from the evils and tortures of its
own condition and the storms and perils of the world. In that longing it
recognised its immortality and heard the voice of its Divine Parent; and
out of the ecstatic joy and utter abandonment of its new-born,
passionate, responsive faith, it built and consecrated those stupendous
temples,--rearing them with all its love no less than all its riches and
all its power. There was no wealth that it would not give, no toil that
it would not perform, and no sacrifice that it would not make, in the
accomplishment of its sacred task. It was grandly, nobly, terribly in
earnest, and it achieved a work that is not only sublime in its poetic
majesty but measureless in the scope and extent of its moral and
spiritual influence. It has left to succeeding ages not only a legacy of
permanent beauty, not only a sublime symbol of religious faith, but an
everlasting monument to the loveliness and greatness that are inherent
in human nature. No creature with a human heart in his bosom can stand
in such a building as Canterbury cathedral without feeling a greater
love and reverence than he ever felt before, alike for God and man.

Illustration: "Butchery Lane, Canterbury."

On a day (July 27, 1882) when a class of the boys of the King's School
of Canterbury was graduated the present writer chanced to be a listener
to the impressive and touching sermon that was preached before them, in
the cathedral; wherein they were tenderly admonished to keep unbroken
their associations with their school-days and to remember the lessons of
the place itself. That counsel must have sunk deep into every mind. It
is difficult to understand how any person reared amid such scenes and
relics could ever cast away their hallowing influence. Even to the
casual visitor the bare thought of the historic treasures that are
garnered in this temple is, by itself, sufficient to implant in the
bosom a memorable and lasting awe. For more than twelve hundred years
the succession of the Archbishops of Canterbury has remained
substantially unbroken. There have been ninety-three "primates of all
England," of whom fifty-three were buried in the cathedral, and here the
tombs of fifteen of them are still visible. Here was buried the
sagacious, crafty, inflexible, indomitable Henry the Fourth,--that
Hereford whom Shakespeare has described and interpreted with matchless,
immortal eloquence,--and here, cut off in the morning of his greatness,
and lamented to this day in the hearts of the English people, was laid
the body of Edward the Black Prince, who to a dauntless valour and
terrible prowess in war added a high-souled, human, and tender
magnanimity in conquest, and whom personal virtues and shining public
deeds united to make the ideal hero of chivalry. In no other way than by
personal observance of such memorials can historic reading be invested
with a perfect and permanent reality. Over the tomb of the Black Prince,
with its fine recumbent effigy of gilded brass, hang the gauntlets that
he wore; and they tell you that his sword formerly hung there, but that
Oliver Cromwell--who revealed his iconoclastic and unlovely character in
making a stable of this cathedral--carried it away. Close at hand is the
tomb of the wise, just, and gentle Cardinal Pole, simply inscribed
"Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord"; and you may touch a
little, low mausoleum of gray stone, in which are the ashes of John
Morton, that Bishop of Ely from whose garden in Holborn the strawberries
were brought for the Duke of Gloster, on the day when he condemned the
accomplished Hastings, and who "fled to Richmond," in good time, from
the standard of the dangerous Protector. Standing there, I could almost
hear the resolute, scornful voice of Richard, breathing out, in clear,
implacable accents--

      "Ely with Richmond troubles me more near
      Than Buckingham and his rash-levied strength."

The astute Morton, when Bosworth was over and Richmond had assumed the
crown and Bourchier had died, was made Archbishop of Canterbury; and as
such, at a great age, he passed away.

Illustration: "Flying Horse Inn, Canterbury."

A few hundred yards from his place of rest, in a vault beneath the
Church of St. Dunstan, is the head of Sir Thomas More (the body being in
St. Peter's, at the Tower of London), who in his youth had been a member
of Morton's ecclesiastical household, and whose greatness that prelate
had foreseen and prophesied. Did no shadow of the scaffold ever fall
across the statesman's thoughts, as he looked upon that handsome, manly
boy, and thought of the troublous times that were raging about them?
Morton, aged ninety, died in 1500; More, aged fifty-five, in 1535.
Strange fate, indeed, was that, and as inscrutable as mournful, which
gave to those who in life had been like father and son such a ghastly
association in death!¹ They show you the place where Becket was
murdered, and the stone steps, worn hollow by the thousands upon
thousands of devout pilgrims who, in the days before the Reformation,
crept up to weep and pray at the costly, resplendent shrine of St.
Thomas. The bones of Becket, as all the world knows, were, by command of
Henry the Eighth, burnt, and scattered to the winds, while his shrine
was pillaged and destroyed. Neither tomb nor scutcheon commemorates him
here,--but the cathedral itself is his monument.

¹ St. Dunstan's church was connected with the Convent of St. Gregory.
The Roper family, in the time of Henry the Fourth, founded a chapel in
it, in which are two marble tombs, commemorative of them, and underneath
which is their burial vault. Margaret Roper, Sir Thomas More's daughter,
obtained her father's head, after his execution, and buried it here. The
vault was opened in 1835,--when a new pavement was laid in the chancel
of this church,--and persons descending into it saw the head, in a
leaden box shaped like a beehive, open in front, set in a niche in the
wall, behind an iron grill.

Illustration: "Canterbury Cathedral."

There it stands, with its grand columns and glorious arches, its towers
of enormous size and its long vistas of distance, so mysterious and
awful, its gloomy crypt where once the silver lamps sparkled and the
smoking censers were swung, its tombs of mighty warriors and statesmen,
its frayed and crumbling banners, and the eternal, majestic silence with
which it broods over the love, ambition, glory, defeat, and anguish of a
thousand years, dissolved now and ended in a little dust! As the organ
music died away I looked upward and saw where a bird was wildly flying
to and fro, through the vast spaces beneath its lofty roof, in the vain
effort to find some outlet of escape. Fit emblem, truly, of the human
mind which strives to comprehend and to utter the meaning of this
marvellous fabric!

Illustration: "Alladin's Lamp"



CHAPTER XXI

THE SHRINES OF WARWICKSHIRE 1882


Night, in Stratford-upon-Avon--a summer night, with large, solemn stars,
a cool and fragrant breeze, and the stillness of perfect rest. From this
high and grassy bank I look forth across the darkened meadows and the
smooth and shining river, and see the little town where it lies asleep.
Hardly a light is anywhere visible. A few great elms, near by, are
nodding and rustling in the wind, and once or twice a drowsy bird-note
floats up from the neighbouring thicket that skirts the vacant, lonely
road. There, at some distance, are the dim arches of Clopton's Bridge.
In front--a graceful, shapely mass, indistinct in the starlight--rises
the fair Memorial, Stratford's honour and pride. Further off, glimmering
through the tree-tops, is the dusky spire of Trinity, keeping its sacred
vigil over the dust of Shakespeare. Nothing here is changed. The same
tranquil beauty, as of old, hallows this place; the same sense of awe
and mystery broods over its silent shrines of everlasting renown. Long
and weary the years have been since last I saw it; but to-night they are
remembered only as a fleeting and troubled dream. Here, once more, is
the highest and noblest companionship this world can give. Here, once
more, is the almost visible presence of the one magician who can lift
the soul out of the infinite weariness of common things and give it
strength and peace. The old time has come back, and the bloom of the
heart that I thought had all faded and gone. I stroll again to the
river's brink, and take my place in the boat, and, trailing my hand in
the dark waters of the Avon, forget every trouble that ever I have
known.

Illustration: "Stratford-upon-Avon."

It is often said, with reference to memorable places, that the best view
always is the first view. No doubt the accustomed eye sees blemishes. No
doubt the supreme moments of human life are few and come but once; and
neither of them is ever repeated. Yet frequently it will be found that
the change is in ourselves and not in the objects we behold. Scott has
glanced at this truth, in a few mournful lines, written toward the close
of his heroic and beautiful life. Here at Stratford, however, I am not
conscious that the wonderful charm of the place is in any degree
impaired. The town still preserves its old-fashioned air, its
quaintness, its perfect cleanliness and order. At the Shakespeare
cottage, in the stillness of the room where he was born, the spirits of
mystery and reverence still keep their imperial state. At the ancient
grammar-school, with its pent-house roof and its dark, sagging rafters,
you still may see, in fancy, the unwilling schoolboy gazing upward
absently at the great, rugged timbers, or looking wistfully at the
sunshine, where it streams through the little lattice windows of his
prison. New Place, with its lovely lawn, its spacious garden, the
ancestral mulberry and the ivy-covered well, will bring the poet before
you, as he lived and moved, in the meridian of his greatness.
_Cymbeline, The Tempest,_ and _A Winter's Tale,_ the last of his works,
undoubtedly were written here; and this alone should make it a hallowed
spot. Here he blessed his young daughter on her wedding day; here his
eyes closed in the long last sleep; and from this place he was carried
to his grave in the chancel of Stratford church. I pass once again
through the fragrant avenue of limes, the silent churchyard with its
crumbling monuments, the dim porch, the twilight of the venerable
temple, and kneel at last above the ashes of Shakespeare. What majesty
in this triumphant rest! All the great labour accomplished. The
universal human heart interpreted with a living voice. The memory and
the imagination of mankind stored forever with words of sublime
eloquence and images of immortal beauty. The noble lesson of
self-conquest--the lesson of the entire adequacy of the resolute,
virtuous, patient human will--set forth so grandly that all the world
must see its meaning and marvel at its splendour. And, last of all,
death itself shorn of its terrors and made a trivial thing.

Illustration: "Stratford Church."

There is a new custodian at New Place, and he will show you the little
museum that is kept there--including the shovel-board from the old
Falcon tavern across the way, on which the poet himself might have
played--and he will lead you through the gardens, and descant on the
mulberry and on the ancient and still unforgiven vandalism of the Rev.
Francis Gastrell, by whom the Shakespeare mansion was destroyed (1759),
and will pause at the well, and at the fragments of the foundation,
covered now with stout screens of wire. There is a fresh and fragrant
beauty all about these grounds, an atmosphere of sunshine, life, comfort
and elegance of state, that no observer can miss. This same keeper also
has the keys of the guild chapel, opposite, on which Shakespeare looked
from his windows and his garden, and in which he was the holder of two
sittings. You will enter it by the same porch through which he walked,
and see the arch and columns and tall, mullioned windows on which his
gaze has often rested. The interior is cold and barren now, for the
scriptural wall-paintings, discovered there in 1804, under a thick
coating of whitewash, have been obliterated and the wooden pews, which
are modern, have not yet been embrowned by age. Yet this church, known
beyond question as one of Shakespeare's personal haunts, will hold you
with the strongest tie of reverence and sympathy. At his birthplace
everything remains unchanged. The gentle ladies who have so long guarded
and shown it still have it in their affectionate care. The ceiling of
the room in which the poet was born--the room that contains "the Actor's
Pillar" and the thousands of signatures on walls and windows--is slowly
crumbling to pieces. Every morning little particles of the plaster are
found upon the floor. The area of tiny, delicate iron laths, to sustain
this ceiling, has more than doubled (1882) since I first saw it, in
1877. It was on the ceiling that Lord Byron wrote his name, but this has
flaked off and disappeared. In the museum hall, once the Swan inn, they
are forming a library; and there you may see at least one Shakespearean
relic of extraordinary interest. This is the MS. letter of Richard
Quiney--whose son Thomas became, in 1616, the husband of Shakespeare's
youngest daughter, Judith--asking the poet for the loan of thirty
pounds. It is enclosed between plates of glass in a frame, and usually
kept covered with a cloth, so that the sunlight may not fade the ink.
The date of this letter is October 25, 1598, and thirty English pounds
then was a sum equivalent to about six hundred dollars of American money
now. This is the only letter known to be in existence that Shakespeare
received. Miss Caroline Chataway, the younger of the ladies who keep
this house, will recite to you its text, from memory--giving a delicious
old-fashioned flavour to its quaint phraseology and fervent spirit, as
rich and strange as the odour of the wild thyme and rosemary that grow
in her garden beds. This antique touch adds a wonderful charm to the
relics of the past. I found it once more when sitting in the
chimney-corner of Anne Hathaway's kitchen; and again in the lovely
little church at Charlecote, where a simple, kindly woman, not ashamed
to reverence the place and the dead, stood with me at the tomb of the
Lucys, and repeated from memory the tender, sincere, and eloquent
epitaph with which Sir Thomas Lucy thereon commemorates his wife. The
lettering is small and indistinct on the tomb, but having often read it
I well knew how correctly it was then spoken. Nor shall I ever read it
again without thinking of that kindly, pleasant voice, the hush of the
beautiful church, the afternoon sunlight streaming through the oriel
window, and--visible through the doorway arch--the roses waving among
the churchyard graves.

In the days of Shakespeare's courtship, when he strolled across the
fields to Anne Hathaway's cottage at Shottery, his path, we may be sure,
ran through wild pasture-land and tangled thicket. A fourth part of
England at that time was a wilderness, and the entire population of that
country did not exceed five millions of persons. The Stratford-upon-Avon
of to-day is still possessed of some of its ancient features; but the
region round about it then must have been rude and wild in comparison
with what it is at present. If you walk in the foot-path to Shottery now
you will pass between low fences and along the margin of gardens,--now
in the sunshine, and now in the shadow of larch and chestnut and elm,
while the sweet air blows upon your face and the expeditious rook makes
rapid wing to the woodland, cawing as he flies. In the old cottage, with
its roof of thatch, its crooked rafters, its odorous hedges and climbing
vines, its leafy well and its tangled garden, everything remains the
same. Mrs. Mary Taylor Baker, the last living descendant of the
Hathaways, born in this house, always a resident here, and now an
elderly woman, still has it in her keeping, and still displays to you
the ancient carved bedstead in the garret, the wooden settle by the
kitchen fireside, the hearth at which Shakespeare sat, the great
blackened chimney with its adroit iron "fish-back" for the better
regulation of the tea-kettle, and the brown and tattered Bible, with the
Hathaway family record. Sitting in an old arm-chair, in the corner of
Anne Hathaway's bedroom, I could hear, in the perfumed summer stillness,
the low twittering of birds, whose nest is in the covering thatch and
whose songs would awaken the sleeper at the earliest light of dawn. A
better idea can be obtained in this cottage than in either the
birthplace or any other Shakespearean haunt of what the real life
actually was of the common people of England in Shakespeare's day. The
stone floor and oak timbers of the Hathaway kitchen, stained and
darkened in the slow decay of three hundred years, have lost no particle
of their pristine character. The occupant of the cottage has not been
absent from it more than a week during upward of half a century. In such
a nook the inherited habits of living do not alter. "The thing that has
been is the thing that shall be," and the customs of long ago are the
customs of to-day.

The Red Horse inn is now in the hands of William Gardner Colbourne, who
has succeeded his uncle Mr. Gardner, and it is brighter than of
old--without, however, having parted with either its antique furniture
or its delightful antique ways. The old mahogany and wax-candle period
has not ended yet in this happy place, and you sink to sleep on a
snow-white pillow, soft as down and fragrant as lavender. One important
change is especially to be remarked. They have made a niche in a corner
of Washington Irving's parlour, and in it have placed his arm-chair,
re-cushioned and polished, and sequested from touch by a large sheet of
plate-glass. The relic may still be seen, but the pilgrim can sit upon
it no more. Perhaps it might be well to enshrine "Geoffrey Crayon's
Sceptre" in a somewhat similar way. It could be fastened to a shield,
displaying the American colours, and placed in this storied room. At
present it is the tenant of a starred and striped bag, and keeps its
state in the seclusion of a bureau; nor is it shown except upon
request--like the beautiful marble statue of Donne, in his shroud,
niched in the chancel wall of St. Paul's cathedral.¹

¹ A few effigies are all that remain of old St. Paul's. The most
important and interesting of them is that shrouded statue of the poet
John Donne, who was Dean of St. Paul's from 1621 to 1631, dying in the
latter year, aged 58. This is in the south aisle of the chancel, in a
niche in the wall. You will not see it unless you ask the privilege. The
other relics are in the crypt and in the churchyard. There is nothing to
indicate the place of the grave of John of Gaunt or that of Sir Philip
Sidney. Old St. Paul's was burned September 2, 1666.

Illustration: "Washington Irving's Chair."

One of the strongest instincts of the English character is the instinct
of permanence. It acts involuntarily, it pervades the national life,
and, as Pope said of the universal soul, it operates unspent.
Institutions seem to have grown out of human nature in this country, and
are as much its expression as blossoms, leaves, and flowers are the
expression of inevitable law. A custom, in England, once established, is
seldom or never changed. The brilliant career, the memorable
achievement, the great character, once fulfilled, takes a permanent
shape in some kind of outward and visible memorial, some absolute and
palpable fact, which thenceforth is an accepted part of the history of
the land and the experience of its people. England means stability--the
fireside and the altar, home here and heaven hereafter; and this is the
secret of the power that she wields in the affairs of the world, and the
charm that she diffuses over the domain of thought. Such a temple as St.
Paul's cathedral, such a palace as Hampton Court, such a castle as that
of Windsor or that of Warwick, is the natural, spontaneous expression of
the English instinct of permanence; and it is in memorials like these
that England has written her history, with symbols that can perish only
with time itself. At intervals her latent animal ferocity breaks
loose--as it did under Henry the Eighth, under Mary, under Cromwell, and
under James the Second,--and for a brief time ramps and bellows,
striving to deface and deform the surrounding structure of beauty that
has been slowly and painfully reared out of her deep heart and her sane
civilisation. But the tears of human pity soon quench the fire of
Smithfield, and it is only for a little while that the Puritan soldiers
play at nine-pins in the nave of St. Paul's. This fever of animal
impulse, this wild revolt of petulant impatience, is soon cooled; and
then the great work goes on again, as calmly and surely as before--that
great work of educating mankind to the level of constitutional liberty,
in which England has been engaged for well-nigh a thousand years, and in
which the American Republic, though sometimes at variance with her
methods and her spirit, is, nevertheless, her follower and the
consequence of her example. Our Declaration was made in 1776: the
Declaration to the Prince of Orange is dated 1689, and the Bill of
Rights 1628, while Magna Charta was secured in 1215.

Throughout every part of this sumptuous and splendid domain of
Warwickshire the symbols of English stability and the relics of historic
times are numerous and deeply impressive. At Stratford the reverence of
the nineteenth century takes its practical, substantial form, not alone
in the honourable preservation of the ancient Shakespearean shrines, but
in the Shakespeare Memorial. That fabric, though mainly due to the
fealty of England, is also, to some extent, representative of the
practical sympathy of America. Several Americans--Edwin Booth, Herman
Vezin, M. D. Conway, and W. H. Reynolds among them--were contributors to
the fund that built it, and an American gentlewoman, Miss Kate Field,
has worked for its cause with excellent zeal, untiring fidelity, and
good results. (Miss Mary Anderson acted--1885--in the Memorial Theatre,
for its benefit, presenting for the first time in her life the character
of Rosalind.) It is a noble monument. It stands upon the margin of the
Avon, not distant from the church of the Holy Trinity, which is
Shakespeare's grave; so that these two buildings are the conspicuous
points of the landscape, and seem to confront each other with
sympathetic greeting, as if conscious of their sacred trust. The vacant
land adjacent, extending between the road and the river, is a part of
the Memorial estate, and is to be converted into a garden, with
pathways, shade-trees, and flowers,--by means of which the prospect will
be made still fairer than now it is, and will be kept forever unbroken
between the Memorial and the Church. Under this ample roof are already
united a theatre, a library, and a hall of pictures. The drop-curtain,
illustrating the processional progress of Queen Elizabeth when "going to
the Globe Theatre," is gay but incorrect. The divisions of seats are in
conformity with the inconvenient arrangements of the London theatre of
to-day. Queen Elizabeth heard plays in the hall of the Middle Temple,
the hall of Hampton Palace, and at Greenwich and at Richmond; but she
never went to the Globe Theatre. In historic temples there should be no
trifling with historic themes; and surely, in a theatre of the
nineteenth century, dedicated to Shakespeare, while no fantastic regard
should be paid to the usages of the past, it would be tasteful and
proper to blend the best of ancient ways with all the luxury and
elegance of these times. It is much, however, to have built what can
readily be made a lovely theatre; and meanwhile, through the
affectionate generosity of friends in all parts of the world, the
library shelves are continually gathering treasures, and the hall of
paintings is growing more and more the imposing expository that it was
intended to be, of Shakespearean poetry and the history of the English
stage.

Illustration: "The Stratford Memorial."

Many faces of actors appear upon those walls--from Garrick to Edmund
Kean, from Macready to Henry Irving, from Kemble to Edwin Booth, from
Mrs. Siddons to Ellen Terry, Ada Rehan, and Mary Anderson. Prominent
among the pictures is a spirited portrait of Garrick and his wife,
playing at cards, wherein the lovely, laughing lady archly discloses
that her hands are full of hearts. Not otherwise, truly, is it with
sweet and gentle Stratford herself, where peace and beauty and the most
hallowed and hallowing of poetic associations garner up, forever and
forever, the hearts of all mankind.

In previous papers upon this subject I have tried to express the
feelings that are excited by personal contact with the relics of
Shakespeare--the objects that he saw and the fields through which he
wandered. Fancy would never tire of lingering in this delicious region
of flowers and of dreams. From the hideous vileness of the social
condition of London in the time of James the First, Shakespeare must
indeed have rejoiced to depart into this blooming garden of rustic
tranquillity. Here also he could find the surroundings that were needful
to sustain him amid the vast and overwhelming labours of his final
period. No man, however great his powers, can ever, in this world,
escape from the trammels under which nature enjoins and permits the
exercise of the brain. Ease, in the intellectual life, is always
visionary. The higher a man's faculties the higher are his
ideals,--toward which, under the operation of a divine law, he must
perpetually strive, but to the height of which he will never absolutely
attain. So, inevitably, it was with Shakespeare.

Illustration: "Mary Arden Cottage."

But, although genius cannot escape from itself and is no more free than
the humblest toiler in the vast scheme of creation, it may--and it
must--sometimes escape from the world: and this wise poet, of all men
else, would surely recognise and strongly grasp the great privilege of
solitude amid the sweetest and most soothing adjuncts of natural beauty.
That privilege he found in the sparkling and fragrant gardens of
Warwick, the woods, fields and waters of the Avon, where he had played
as a boy, and where love had laid its first kiss upon his lips and
poetry first opened upon his inspired vision the eternal glories of her
celestial world. It still abides there, for every gentle soul that can
feel its influence--to deepen the glow of noble passion, to soften the
sting of grief, and to touch the lips of worship with a fresh sacrament
of patience and beauty.

      ------

     THE ANNE HATHAWAY COTTAGE.

_April,_ 1892.--A record that all lovers of the Shakespeare shrines have
long wished to make can at last be made. The Anne Hathaway Cottage has
been bought for the British Nation, and that building will henceforth be
one of the Amalgamated Trusts that are guarded by the corporate
authorities of Stratford. The other Trusts are the Birthplace, the
Museum, and New Place. The Mary Arden Cottage, the home of Shakespeare's
mother, is yet to be acquired.



CHAPTER XXII

A BORROWER OF THE NIGHT


      _"I must become a borrower of the night,
      For a dark hour or twain."_--MACBETH.

Midnight has just sounded from the tower of St. Martin. It is a peaceful
night, faintly lit with stars, and in the region round about Trafalgar
Square a dream-like stillness broods over the darkened city, now slowly
hushing itself to its brief and troubled rest. This is the centre of the
heart of modern civilisation, the middle of the greatest city in the
world--the vast, seething alembic of a grand future, the stately
monument of a deathless past. Here, alone, in my quiet room of this old
English inn, let me meditate a while on some of the scenes that are near
me--the strange, romantic, sad, grand objects that I have seen, the
memorable figures of beauty, genius, and renown that haunt this classic
land.

Illustration: "Church of St. Martin."

How solemn and awful now must be the gloom within the walls of the
Abbey! A walk of only a few minutes would bring me to its gates--the
gates of the most renowned mausoleum on earth. No human foot to-night
invades its sacred precincts. The dead alone possess it. I see, upon its
gray walls, the marble figures, white and spectral, staring through the
darkness. I hear the night-wind moaning around its lofty towers and
faintly sobbing in the dim, mysterious spaces beneath its fretted roof.
Here and there a ray of starlight, streaming through the sumptuous rose
window, falls and lingers, in ruby or emerald gleam, on tomb, or pillar,
or dusky pavement. Rustling noises, vague and fearful, float from those
dim chapels where the great kings lie in state, with marble effigies
recumbent above their bones. At such an hour as this, in such a place,
do the dead come out of their graves? The resolute, implacable Queen
Elizabeth, the beautiful, ill-fated Queen of Scots, the royal boys that
perished in the Tower, Charles the Merry and William the Silent--are
these, and such as these, among the phantoms that fill the haunted
aisles? What a wonderful company it would be, for human eyes to behold!
And with what passionate love or hatred, what amazement, or what haughty
scorn, its members would look upon each other's faces, in this
miraculous meeting? Here, through the glimmering, icy waste, would pass
before the watcher the august shades of the poets of five hundred years.
Now would glide the ghosts of Chaucer, Spenser, Jonson, Beaumont,
Dryden, Cowley, Congreve, Addison, Prior, Campbell, Garrick, Burke,
Sheridan, Newton, and Macaulay--children of divine genius, that here
mingled with the earth. The grim Edward, who so long ravaged Scotland;
the blunt, chivalrous Henry, who conquered France; the lovely,
lamentable victim at Pomfret, and the harsh, haughty, astute victor at
Bosworth; James with his babbling tongue, and William with his
impassive, predominant visage--they would all mingle with the spectral
multitude and vanish into the gloom. Gentler faces, too, might here once
more reveal their loveliness and their grief--Eleanor de Bohun,
brokenhearted for her murdered lord; Elizabeth Claypole, the meek,
merciful, beloved daughter of Cromwell; Matilda, Queen to Henry the
First, and model of every grace and virtue; and sweet Anne Neville,
destroyed--if his enemies told the truth--by the politic craft of
Gloster. Strange sights, truly, in the lonesome Abbey to-night!

In the sombre crypt beneath St. Paul's cathedral how thrilling now must
be the heavy stillness! No sound can enter there. No breeze from the
upper world can stir the dust upon those massive sepulchres. Even in
day-time that shadowy vista, with its groined arches and the black tombs
of Wellington and Nelson and the ponderous funeral-car of the Iron Duke,
is seen with a shudder. How strangely, how fearfully the mind would be
impressed, of him who should wander there to-night! What sublime
reflections would be his, standing beside the ashes of the great
admiral, and thinking of that fiery, dauntless spirit--so simple,
resolute, and true--who made the earth and the sea alike resound with
the splendid tumult of his deeds. Somewhere beneath this pavement is the
dust of Sir Philip Sidney--buried here before the destruction of the old
cathedral, in the great fire of 1666--and here, too, is the nameless
grave of the mighty Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt. Shakespeare was
only twenty-two years old when Sidney fell, at the battle of Zutphen,
and, being then resident in London, he might readily have seen, and
doubtless did see, the splendid funeral procession with which the
body of that heroic gentleman--radiant and immortal example of
perfect chivalry--was borne to the tomb. Hither came Henry of
Hereford--returning from exile and deposing the handsome, visionary,
useless Richard--to mourn over the relics of his father, dead of sorrow
for his son's absence and his country's shame. Here, at the venerable
age of ninety-one, the glorious brain of Wren found rest at last,
beneath the stupendous temple that himself had reared. The watcher in
the crypt tonight would see, perchance, or fancy that he saw, those
figures from the storied past. Beneath this roof--the soul and the
perfect symbol of sublimity!--are ranged more than fourscore monuments
to heroic martial persons who have died for England, by land or sea.
Here, too, are gathered in everlasting repose the honoured relics of men
who were famous in the arts of peace. Reynolds and Opie, Lawrence and
West, Landseer, Turner, Cruikshank, and many more, sleep under the
sculptured pavement where now the pilgrim walks. For fifteen centuries a
Christian church has stood upon this spot, and through it has poured,
with organ strains and glancing lights, an endless procession of
prelates and statesmen, of poets and warriors and kings. Surely this is
hallowed and haunted ground! Surely to him the spirits of the mighty
dead would be very near, who--alone, in the darkness--should stand
to-night 'within those sacred walls, and hear, beneath that awful dome,
the mellow thunder of the bells of God.

Illustration: "Westminster Abbey."

How looks, to-night, the interior of the chapel of the Foundling
hospital? Dark and lonesome, no doubt, with its heavy galleries and
sombre pews, and the great organ--Handel's gift--standing there, mute
and grim, between the ascending tiers of empty seats. But never, in my
remembrance, will it cease to present a picture more impressive and
touching than words can say. Scores of white-robed children, rescued
from shame and penury by this noble benevolence, were ranged around that
organ when I saw it, and, with artless, frail little voices, singing a
hymn of praise and worship. Well-nigh one hundred and fifty years have
passed since this grand institution of charity--the sacred work and
blessed legacy of Captain Thomas Coram--was established in this place.
What a divine good it has accomplished, and continues to accomplish, and
what a pure glory hallows its founder's name! Here the poor mother,
betrayed and deserted, may take her child and find for it a safe and
happy home and a chance in life--nor will she herself be turned adrift
without sympathy and help. The poet and novelist George Croly was once
chaplain of the Foundling hospital, and he preached some noble sermons
there; but these were thought to be above the comprehension of his usual
audience, and he presently resigned the place. Sidney Smith often spoke
in this pulpit, when a young man. It was an aged clergyman who preached
there within my hearing, and I remember he consumed the most part of an
hour in saying that a good way in which to keep the tongue from speaking
evil is to keep the heart kind and pure. Better than any sermon, though,
was the spectacle of those poor children, rescued out of their
helplessness and reared in comfort and affection. Several fine works of
art are owned by this hospital and shown to visitors--paintings by
Gainsborough and Reynolds, and a portrait of Captain Coram, by Hogarth.
May the turf lie lightly on him, and daisies and violets deck his
hallowed grave! No man ever did a better deed than he, and the darkest
night that ever was cannot darken his fame.

Illustration: "Middle Temple Lane."

How dim and silent now are all those narrow and dingy little streets and
lanes around Paul's churchyard and the Temple, where Johnson and
Goldsmith loved to ramble! More than once have I wandered there, in the
late hours of the night, meeting scarce a human creature, but conscious
of a royal company indeed, of the wits and poets and players of a
far-off time. Darkness now, on busy Smithfield, where once the frequent,
cruel flames of bigotry shed forth a glare that sickened the light of
day. Murky and grim enough to-night is that grand processional walk in
St. Bartholomew's church, where the great gray pillars and splendid
Norman arches of the twelfth century are mouldering in neglect and
decay. Sweet to fancy and dear in recollection, the old church comes
back to me now, with the sound of children's voices and the wail of the
organ strangely breaking on its pensive rest. Stillness and peace over
arid Bunhill Fields---the last haven of many a Puritan worthy, and
hallowed to many a pilgrim as the resting-place of Bunyan and of Watts.
In many a park and gloomy square the watcher now would hear only a
rustling of leaves or the fretful twitter of half-awakened birds. Around
Primrose Hill and out toward Hampstead many a night-walk have I taken,
that seemed like rambling in a desert--so dark and still are the walled
houses, so perfect is the solitude. In Drury Lane, even at this late
hour, there would be some movement; but cold and dense as ever the
shadows are resting on that little graveyard behind it, where Lady
Dedlock went to die. To walk in Bow Street now,--might it not be to meet
the shades of Waller and Wycherley and Betterton, who lived and died
there; to have a greeting from the silver-tongued Barry; or to see, in
draggled lace and ruffles, the stalwart figure and flushed and
roystering countenance of Henry Fielding? Very quiet now are those grim
stone chambers in the terrible Tower of London, where so many tears have
fallen and so many noble hearts been split with sorrow. Does Brackenbury
still kneel in the cold, lonely, vacant chapel of St. John; or the sad
ghost of Monmouth hover in the chancel of St. Peter's? How sweet tonight
would be the rustle of the ivy on the dark walls of Hadley church, where
late I breathed the rose-scented air and heard the warbling thrush, and
blessed, with a grateful heart, the loving kindness that makes such
beauty in the world! Out there on the hillside of Highgate, populous
with death, the starlight gleams on many a ponderous tomb and the white
marble of many a sculptured statue, where dear and famous names will
lure the traveller's footsteps for years to come. There Lyndhurst rests,
in honour and peace, and there is hushed the tuneful voice of
Dempster--never to be heard any more, either when snows are flying or
"when green leaves come again." Not many days have passed since I stood
there, by the humble gravestone of poor Charles Harcourt, that fine
actor, and remembered all the gentle enthusiasm with which (1877) he
spoke to me of the character of Jaques--which he loved--and how well he
repeated the immortal lines upon the drama of human life. For him the
"strange, eventful history" came early and suddenly to an end.

Illustration: "The Castle Inn."

In that ground, too, I saw the sculptured medallion of the well-beloved
George Honey--"all his frolics o'er" and nothing left but this. Many a
golden moment did we have, old friend, and by me thou art not forgotten!
The lapse of a few years changes the whole face of life; but nothing can
ever take from us our memories of the past. Here, around me, in the
still watches of the night, are the faces that will never smile again,
and the voices that will speak no more--Sothern, with his silver hair
and bright and kindly smile, from the spacious cemetery of Southampton;
and droll Harry Beckett and poor Adelaide Neilson from dismal Brompton.
And if I look from yonder window I shall not see either the lions of
Landseer or the homeless and vagrant wretches who sleep around them; but
high in her silver chariot, surrounded with all the pomp and splendour
that royal England knows, and marching to her coronation in Westminster
Abbey, the beautiful figure of Anne Boleyn, with her dark eyes full of
triumph and her torrent of golden hair flashing in the sun. On this spot
is written the whole history of a mighty empire. Here are garnered up
such loves and hopes, such memories and sorrows, as can never be spoken.
Pass, ye shadows! Let the night wane and the morning break.



THE END





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