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Title: Shakespeare the Boy - With Sketches of the Home and School Life, Games and Sports, Manners, Customs and Folk-lore of the Time
Author: Rolfe, W. J. (William James)
Language: English
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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.

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With Sketches of
The Home and School Life
The Games and Sports, the Manners, Customs
and Folk-Lore of the Time



[Illustration: (Publisher's colophon)]

With Forty-one Illustrations

Chatto & Windus

Copyright, 1896, by Harper & Brothers.

All rights reserved.


Two years ago, at the request of the editors of the _Youth's
Companion_, I wrote for that periodical a series of four familiar
articles on the boyhood of Shakespeare. It was understood at the
time that I might afterwards expand them into a book, and this
plan is carried out in the present volume. The papers have been
carefully revised and enlarged to thrice their original compass,
and a new fifth chapter has been added.

The sources from which I have drawn my material are often mentioned
in the text and the notes. I have been particularly indebted to
Halliwell-Phillipps's _Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare_,
Knight's _Biography of Shakspere_, Furnivall's Introduction to
the "Leopold" edition of Shakespeare, his _Babees Book_, and his
edition of Harrison's _Description of England_, Sidney Lee's
_Stratford-on-Avon_, Strutt's _Sports and Pastimes_, Brand's
_Popular Antiquities_, and Dyer's _Folk-Lore of Shakespeare_.

I hope that the book may serve to give the young folk some glimpses
of rural life in England when Shakespeare was a boy, and also to
help them--and possibly their elders--to a better understanding of
many allusions in his works.

  W. J. R.

  CAMBRIDGE, _June 10, 1896_.




      WARWICKSHIRE                                         3


      WARWICK IN HISTORY                                   8

      GUY OF WARWICK                                       9

      KENILWORTH CASTLE                                   12

      COVENTRY                                            14

      CHARLECOTE HALL                                     19

      STRATFORD-ON-AVON                                   24

      THE EARLY HISTORY OF STRATFORD                      27

      THE STRATFORD GUILD                                 34

      THE STRATFORD CORPORATION                           39

      THE TOPOGRAPHY OF STRATFORD                         43

  PART II.--HIS HOME LIFE                                 47

      THE DWELLING-HOUSES OF THE TIME                     49

      THE HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE                             52

      FOOD AND DRINK                                      57

      THE TRAINING OF CHILDREN                            60

      INDOOR AMUSEMENTS                                   67

      POPULAR BOOKS                                       71

      STORY-TELLING                                       73

      CHRISTENINGS                                        80


      CHARMS AND AMULETS                                  87

  PART III.--AT SCHOOL                                    93

      THE STRATFORD GRAMMAR SCHOOL                        95

      WHAT SHAKESPEARE LEARNT AT SCHOOL                   99

      THE NEGLECT OF ENGLISH                             106

      SCHOOL LIFE IN SHAKESPEARE'S DAY                   110

      SCHOOL MORALS                                      112

      SCHOOL DISCIPLINE                                  113

      WHEN WILLIAM LEFT SCHOOL                           118

  PART IV.--GAMES AND SPORTS                             119

      BOYISH GAMES                                       121

      SWIMMING AND FISHING                               130

      BEAR-BAITING                                       132

      COCK-FIGHTING AND COCK-THROWING                    136

      OTHER CRUEL SPORTS                                 139

      ARCHERY                                            142

      HUNTING                                            145

      FOWLING                                            151

      HAWKING                                            153

      THEATRICAL ENTERTAINMENTS                          160

  PART V.--HOLIDAYS, FESTIVALS, FAIRS, ETC.              165

      SAINT GEORGE'S DAY                                 167

      EASTER                                             172

      THE PERAMBULATION OF THE PARISH                    174

      MAY-DAY AND THE MORRIS-DANCE                       176

      WHITSUNTIDE                                        184

      MIDSUMMER EVE                                      186

      CHRISTMAS                                          190

      SHEEP-SHEARING                                     193

      HARVEST-HOME                                       195

      MARKETS AND FAIRS                                  198

      RURAL OUTINGS                                      207

  NOTES                                                  213

  INDEX                                                  247


  SHAKESPEARE THE BOY                         _Frontispiece_

  THE SHAKESPEARE BIRTHPLACE, ABOUT 1820                   3

  WARWICK CASTLE                                           5

  GATE-HOUSE OF KENILWORTH CASTLE                         13

  COVENTRY CHURCHES AND PAGEANT               _Facing p._ 14

  CHARLECOTE HALL                                         20

  ENTRANCE TO CHARLECOTE HALL                             22

  SIR THOMAS LUCY                                         23

  STRATFORD CHURCH                            _Facing p._ 30

  STRATFORD CHURCH, WEST END                              32


  MAP--PLAN OF STRATFORD                                  42

  SHAKESPEARE HOUSE, RESTORED                             49

  ROOM IN WHICH SHAKESPEARE WAS BORN          _Facing p._ 50

  INTERIOR OF ANNE HATHAWAY'S COTTAGE              "      56

  OLD HOUSE IN HIGH STREET                                59

  ANNE HATHAWAY'S COTTAGE                     _Facing p._ 64

  SHILLING OF EDWARD VI.                                  68

  ANCIENT FONT AT STRATFORD                               81

  PORCH, STRATFORD CHURCH                     _Facing p._ 88

  INNER COURT, GRAMMAR SCHOOL                             95

  THE SCHOOL-ROOM AS IT WAS                               97

  DESK SAID TO BE SHAKESPEARE'S                          102

  WALK ON THE BANKS OF THE AVON              _Facing p._ 112

  HIDE-AND-SEEK                                   "      122

  "MORRIS" BOARD                                         130

  FISHING IN THE AVON                        _Facing p._ 132

  THE BEAR GARDEN, LONDON                                133

  GARDEN AT NEW PLACE                        _Facing p._ 146

  ELIZABETH HAWKING                                      155

  BOY WITH HAWK AND HOUNDS                               159


  WILLIAM KEMP DANCING THE MORRIS                        163

  THE BOUNDARY ELM                                       167

  MORRIS-DANCE                               _Facing p._ 178

  CLOPTON HOUSE ON CHRISTMAS EVE                  "      190

  THE FAIR                                        "      200


  CLOPTON MONUMENTS                          _Facing p._ 238

  THE BAR-GATE, SOUTHAMPTON                              242

  ARMS OF JOHN SHAKESPEARE                               251






The county of Warwick was called the heart of England as long ago
as the time of Shakespeare. Indeed, it was his friend, Michael
Drayton, born the year before himself, who first called it so.
In his _Poly-Olbion_ (1613) Drayton refers to his native county
as "That shire which we the heart of England well may call." The
form of the expression seems to imply that it was original with
him. It was doubtless suggested by the central situation of the
county, about equidistant from the eastern, western, and southern
shores of the island; but it is no less appropriate with reference
to its historical, romantic, and poetical associations. Drayton,
whose rhymed geography in the _Poly-Olbion_ is rather prosaic and
tedious, attains a kind of genuine inspiration when, in his 13th
book, he comes to describe

      "Brave Warwick that abroad so long advanced her Bear,
      By her illustrious Earls renowned everywhere;
      Above her neighboring shires which always bore her head."

The verse catches something of the music of the throstle and the
lark, of the woosel "with golden bill" and the nightingale with her
tender strains, as he tells of these Warwickshire birds, and of the
region with "flowery bosom brave" where they breed and warble; but
in Shakespeare the same birds sing with a finer music--more like
that to which we may still listen in the fields and woodlands along
the lazy-winding Avon.


Warwickshire is the heart of England, and the country within ten
miles or so of the town of Warwick may be called the heart of this
heart. On one side of this circle are Stratford and Shottery and
Wilmcote--the home of Shakespeare's mother--and on the other are
Kenilworth and Coventry.

In Warwick itself is the famous castle of its Earls--"that fairest
monument," as Scott calls it, "of ancient and chivalrous splendor
which yet remains uninjured by time." The earlier description
written by the veracious Dugdale almost two hundred and fifty years
ago might be applied to it to-day. It is still "not only a place
of great strength, but extraordinary delight; with most pleasant
gardens, walls, and thickets such as this part of England can
hardly parallel; so that now it is the most princely seat that is
within the midland parts of this realm."

[Illustration: WARWICK CASTLE]

The castle was old in Shakespeare's day. Cæsar's Tower, so called,
though not built, as tradition alleged, by the mighty Julius, dated
back to an unknown period; and Guy's Tower, named in honor of the
redoubted Guy of Warwick, the hero of many legendary exploits, was
built in 1394. No doubt the general appearance of the buildings
was more ancient in the sixteenth century than it is to-day, for
they had been allowed to become somewhat dilapidated; and it
was not until the reign of James I. that they were repaired and
embellished, at enormous expense, and made the stately fortress
and mansion that Dugdale describes.

But the castle would be no less beautiful for situation, though it
were fallen to ruin like the neighboring Kenilworth. The rock on
which it stands, washed at its base by the Avon, would still be
there, the park would still stretch its woods and glades along the
river, and all the natural attractions of the noble estate would

We cannot doubt that the youthful Shakespeare was familiar with the
locality. Warwick and Kenilworth were probably the only baronial
castles he had seen before he went to London; and, whatever others
he may have seen later in life, these must have continued to be his
ideal castles as in his boyhood.

It is not likely that he was ever in Scotland, and when he
described the castle of Macbeth the picture in his mind's eye was
doubtless Warwick or Kenilworth, and more likely the former than
the latter; for

      "_This_ castle hath a pleasant seat; the air
      Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
      Unto our gentle senses. This guest of summer,
      The temple-haunting martlet, does approve,
      By his loved mansionry, that the air
      Smells wooingly here; no jutty, frieze,
      Buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird
      Hath made his pendent bed and procreant cradle.
      Where they most breed and haunt I have observed
      The air is delicate."

Saint Mary's church at Warwick was also standing then--the most
interesting church in Warwickshire next to Holy Trinity at
Stratford. It was burned in 1694, but the beautiful choir and the
magnificent lady chapel, or Beauchamp Chapel, fortunately escaped
the flames, and we see them to-day as Shakespeare doubtless saw
them, except for the monuments that have since been added. _He_
saw in the choir the splendid tomb of Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of
Warwick, and in the adjacent chapel the grander tomb of Richard
Beauchamp, unsurpassed in the kingdom except by that of Henry VII.
in Westminster Abbey. _He_ looked, as we do, on the full-length
figure of the Earl, recumbent in armor of gilded brass, under the
herse of brass hoops also gilt; his hands elevated in prayer, the
garter on his left knee, the swan at his head, the griffin and
bear at his feet. _He_ read, as we read, in the inscription on the
cornice of the sepulchre, how this "most worshipful knight decessed
full christenly the last day of April the year of oure Lord God
1439, he being at that time lieutenant general and governor of the
realm of Fraunce," and how his body was brought to Warwick, and
"laid with full solemn exequies in a fair chest made of stone in
this church" on the 4th day of October--"honoured be God therefor."
And the young Shakespeare looked up, as we do, at the exquisitely
carved stone ceiling, and at the great east window, which still
contains the original glass, now almost four and a half centuries
old, with the portrait of Earl Richard kneeling in armor with
upraised hands.

The tomb of "the noble Impe, Robert of Dudley," who died in 1584,
with the lovely figure of a child seven or eight years old, may
have been seen by Shakespeare when he returned to Stratford in his
latter years, and also the splendid monument of the father of the
"noble imp," Robert Dudley, the great Earl of Leicester, who died
in 1588; but in the poet's youth this famous nobleman was living in
the height of his renown and prosperity at the castle of Kenilworth
five miles away, which we will visit later.


Only brief reference can be made here to the important part that
Warwick, or its famous Earl, Richard Neville, the "King-maker,"
played in the English history on which Shakespeare founded several
dramas,--the three Parts of _Henry VI._ and _Richard III._ He is
the most conspicuous personage of those troublous times. He had
already distinguished himself by deeds of bravery in the Scottish
wars, before his marriage with Anne, daughter and heiress of
Richard Beauchamp, made him the most powerful nobleman in the
kingdom. By this alliance he acquired the vast estates of the
Warwick family, and became Earl of Warwick, with the right to hand
down the title to his descendants. The immense revenues from his
patrimony were augmented by the income he derived from his various
high offices in the state; but his wealth was scattered with a
royal liberality. It is said that he daily fed thirty thousand
people at his numerous mansions.

The Lady Anne of _Richard III._, whom the hero of the play wooes in
such novel fashion, was the youngest daughter of the King-maker,
born at Warwick Castle in 1452. Richard says, in his soliloquy at
the end of the first scene of the play:--

              "I'll marry Warwick's youngest daughter.
      What though I kill'd her husband and her father?"

Her husband was Edward, Prince of Wales, son of Henry VI., and was
slain at the battle of Tewkesbury.

The Earl of Warwick who figures in _2 Henry IV._ was the Richard
Beauchamp already mentioned as the father of Anne who became the
wife of the King-maker. He appears again in the play of _Henry V._,
and also in the first scene of _Henry VI._, though he has nothing
to say; and, as some believe, he (and not his son) is the Earl of
Warwick in the rest of the play, in spite of certain historical
difficulties which that theory involves. In _2 Henry IV._ (iii. 1.
66) Shakespeare makes the mistake of calling him "Nevil" instead of

The title of the Warwick earls became extinct with the death of the
King-maker on the battle-field of Barnet. It was then bestowed on
George, Duke of Clarence, who was drowned in the butt of wine by
order of his loving brother Richard. It then passed to the young
son of Clarence, who is another character in the play of _Richard
III._ He, like his unfortunate father, was long imprisoned in the
Tower, and ultimately murdered there after the farce of a trial on
account of his alleged complicity in a plot against Henry VII. The
subsequent vicissitudes of the earldom do not appear in the pages
of Shakespeare, and we will not refer to them here.


The dramatist was evidently familiar with the legendary renown of
Warwick as well as its authentic history. Doubtless he had heard
the story of the famous Guy of Warwick in his boyhood; and later
he probably visited "Guy's Cliff," on the edge of the town of
Warwick, where the hero is said to have spent the closing years of
his life. Learned antiquarians, in these latter days, have proved
that his adventures are mythical, but the common people believe
in him as of old. There is his "cave" in the side of the "cliff"
on the bank of the Avon, and his gigantic statue in the so-called
chapel; and can we not see his sword, shield, and breastplate, his
helmet and walking-staff, in the great hall of Warwick Castle? The
breastplate alone weighs more than fifty pounds, and who but the
mighty Guy could have worn it? There too is his porridge-pot of
metal, holding more than a hundred gallons, and the flesh-fork to
match. We may likewise see a rib and other remains of the famous
"dun cow," which he slew after the beast had long been the terror
of the country round about. Unbelieving scientists doubt the bovine
origin of these interesting relics, to be sure, as they doubt the
existence of the stalwart destroyer of the animal; but the vulgar
faith in them is not to be shaken.

Of Guy's many exploits the most noted was his conflict with a
gigantic Saracen, Colbrand by name, who was fighting with the Danes
against Athelstan in the tenth century, and was slain by Guy, as
the old ballad narrates. Subsequently Guy went on a pilgrimage
to the Holy Land, leaving his wife in charge of his castle.
Years passed, and he did not return. Meanwhile his lady lived an
exemplary life, and from time to time bestowed her alms on a poor
pilgrim who had made his appearance at a secluded cell by the Avon,
not far from the castle. She may sometimes have talked with him
about her husband, whom she now gave up as lost, assuming that he
had perished by the fever of the East or the sword of the infidel.
At last she received a summons to visit the aged pilgrim on his
death-bed, when, to her astonishment, he revealed himself as the
long-lost Guy. In his early days, when he was wooing the lady,
she had refused to give him her hand unless he performed certain
deeds of prowess. These had not been accomplished without sins that
weighed upon his conscience during his absence in Palestine; and
he had made a vow to lead a monastic life after his return to his
native land.

The legend, like others of the kind, was repeated in varied forms;
and, according to one of these, when Guy came back to Warwick he
begged alms at the gate of his castle. His wife did not recognize
him, and he took this as a sign that the wrath of Heaven was not
yet appeased. Thereupon he withdrew to the cell in the cliff, and
did not make himself known to his wife until he was at the point of

Shakespeare refers to Guy in _Henry VIII._ (v. 4. 22), where a
man exclaims, "I am not Samson, nor Sir Guy, nor Colbrand"; and
Colbrand is mentioned again in _King John_ (i. 1. 225) as "Colbrand
the giant, that same mighty man."

The scene of Guy's legendary retreat on the bank of the Avon is
a charming spot, and there was certainly a hermitage here at a
very early period. Richard Beauchamp founded a chantry for two
priests in 1422, and left directions in his will for rebuilding the
chapel and setting up the statue of Guy in it. At the dissolution
of the monasteries in the time of Henry VIII. the chapel and its
possessions were bestowed upon a gentleman named Flammock, and
the place has been a private residence ever since, though the
present mansion was not built until the beginning of the eighteenth
century. There is an ancient mill on the Avon not far from the
house, commanding a beautiful view of the river and the cliff. The
celebrated actress, Mrs. Siddons, lived for some time at Guy's
Cliff as waiting-maid to Lady Mary Greatheed, whose husband built
the mansion.


But we must now go on to Kenilworth, though we cannot linger long
within its dilapidated walls, majestic even in ruin. If, as Scott
says, Warwick is the finest example of its kind yet uninjured by
time and kept up as a noble residence, Kenilworth is the most
stupendous of similar structures that have fallen to decay. It
was ancient in Shakespeare's day, having been originally built
at the end of the eleventh century. Two hundred years later, in
1266, it was held for six months by the rebellious barons against
Henry III. After having passed through sundry hands and undergone
divers vicissitudes of fortune, it was given by Elizabeth to Robert
Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who spent, in enlarging and adorning
it, the enormous sum of £60,000--three hundred thousand dollars,
equivalent to at least two millions now. Scott, in his novel of
_Kenilworth_, describes it, with no exaggeration of romance--for
exaggeration would hardly be possible--as it was then. Its very
gate-house, still standing complete, was, as Scott says, "equal
in extent and superior in architecture to the baronial castle
of many a northern chief"; but this was the mere portal of the
majestic structure, enclosing seven acres with its walls, equally
impregnable as a fortress and magnificent as a palace.


There were great doings at this castle of Kenilworth in 1575, when
Shakespeare was eleven years old, and the good people from all the
country roundabout thronged to see them. Then it was that Queen
Elizabeth was entertained by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester,
and from July 9th to July 27th there was a succession of holiday
pageants in the most sumptuous and elaborate style of the time.
Master Robert Laneham, whose accuracy as a chronicler is not to be
doubted, though he may have been, as Scott calls him, "as great a
coxcomb as ever blotted paper," mentions, as a proof of the earl's
hospitality, that "the clock bell rang not a note all the while
her highness was there; the clock stood also still withal; the
hands stood firm and fast, always pointing at two o'clock," the
hour of banquet! The quantity of beer drunk on the occasion was 320
hogsheads, and the total expense of the entertainments is said to
have been £1000 ($5000) a day.

John Shakespeare, as a well-to-do citizen of Stratford, would
be likely to see something of that stately show, and it is not
improbable that he took his son William with him. The description
in the _Midsummer-Night's Dream_ (ii. 1. 150) of

                "a mermaid on a dolphin's back
      Uttering such dulcet and harmonious sounds
      That the rude sea grew civil at her song,"

appears to be a reminiscence of certain features of the Kenilworth
pageant. The minstrel Arion figured there, on a dolphin's back,
singing of course; and Triton, in the likeness of a mermaid,
commanded the waves to be still; and among the fireworks there were
shooting-stars that fell into the water, like the stars that, as
Oberon adds,

            "shot madly from their spheres
      To hear the sea-maid's music."

When Shakespeare was writing that early play, with its scenes in
fairy-land, what more natural than that this youthful visit to what
must then have seemed veritable fairy-land should recur to his
memory and blend with the creations of his fancy?


The road from Warwick to Kenilworth is one of the loveliest in
England; and that from Kenilworth five miles further on to
Coventry is acknowledged to be _the_ most beautiful in the kingdom;
yet it is only a different kind of beauty from the other, as that
is from the beauty of the road between Warwick and Stratford.


Till you reach Kenilworth you have all the varieties of charming
rural scenery--hill and dale, field and forest, river-bank and
village, hall and castle and church, grouping themselves in
ever-changing pictures of beauty and grandeur; and now you come to
a straight road for nearly five miles, bordered on both sides by
a double line of stately elms and sycamores, as impressive in its
regularity as the preceding stretch had been in its kaleidoscopic

This magnificent avenue with its over-arching foliage brings us to
Coventry, no mean city in our day, but retaining only a remnant of
its ancient glory. In the time of Shakespeare it was the third city
in the realm--the "Prince's Chamber," as it was called--unrivalled
in the splendor of its monastic institutions, "full of associations
of regal state and chivalry and high events."

In 1397 it had been the scene of the famous hostile meeting between
Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford (afterwards Henry IV.), and
Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, which Shakespeare has immortalized
in _Richard II._ Later Henry IV. held more than one parliament
here; and the city was often visited and honored with many marks of
favor by Henry VI. and his queen, as also by Richard III., Henry
VII., Elizabeth, and James I.

Coventry, moreover, played an important part in the history
of the English Drama. It was renowned for the religious plays
performed by the Grey Friars of its great monastery, and kept
up, though with diminished pomp, even after the dissolution of
their establishment. It was not until 1580 that these pageants
were entirely suppressed; and Shakespeare, who was then sixteen
years old, may have been an eye-witness of the latest of them. No
doubt he heard stories of their attractions in former times, when,
as we are told by Dugdale, they were "acted with mighty state
and reverence by the friars of this house, had theatres for the
several scenes, very large and high, placed upon wheels, and drawn
to all the eminent parts of the city for the better advantage of
spectators; and contained the story of the New Testament composed
into old English rhyme." There were forty-three of these ancient
plays, performed by the monks until, as Tennyson puts it,

      "Bluff Harry broke into the spence,
        And turned the cowls adrift."

When the boy Shakespeare saw them--if he did see them--they were
played by the different guilds, or associations of tradespeople.
Thus the Nativity and the Offering of the Magi, with the Flight
into Egypt and the Slaughter of the Innocents, were rendered by
the company of Shearmen and Tailors; the Smiths' pageant was the
Crucifixion; that of the Cappers was the Resurrection; and so on.
The account-books of the guilds are still extant, with charges for
helmets for Herod and gear for his wife, for a beard for Judas and
the rope to hang him, etc. In the accounts of the Drapers, whose
pageant was the Last Judgment, we find outlays for a "link to set
the world on fire," "the barrel for the earthquake," and kindred
stage "properties."

In the books of the Smiths or Armorers, some of the charges are as

"_Item_, paid for v. schepskens for gods cote and for makyng,

_Item_, paid for mendyng of Herods hed and a myter and other
thyngs, ii_s._

_Item_, paid for dressyng of the devells hede, viii_d._

_Item_, paid for a pair of gloves for god, ii_d._"

The most elaborate and costly of the properties was "Hell-Mouth,"
which was used in several plays, but specially in the representation
of the Last Judgment. This was a huge and grotesque head of canvas,
with vast gaping mouth armed with fangs and vomiting flames. The
jaws were made to open and shut, and through them the Devil made his
entrance and the lost souls their exit. The making and repairing of
this was a constant expense, and frequent entries like the following
occur in the books of the guilds:--

"Paide for making and painting hell mouth, xii_d._

Paid for keping of fyer at hell mouthe, iiii_d._"

Many curious details of the actors' dresses have come down to us.
The representative of Christ wore a coat of white leather, painted
and gilded, and a gilt wig. King Herod wore a mask and a helmet,
sometimes of iron, adorned with gold and silver foil, and bore a
sword and a sceptre. He was a very important character, and the
manner in which he blustered and raged about the stage became
proverbial. In _Hamlet_ (iii. 2. 16) we have the expression, "It
out-herods Herod"; and in the _Merry Wives of Windsor_ (ii. 1. 20),
"What a Herod of Jewry is this!"

All the actors were paid for their services, the amount varying
with the importance of the part. The same actor, as in the
theatres of Shakespeare's day, often played several parts. In
addition to the payment of money, there was a plentiful supply
of refreshments, especially of ale, for the actors. Pilate, who
received the highest pay of the company, was moreover allowed wine
instead of ale during the performance.

Reference has been made above to the "lost souls" in connection
with Hell-Mouth. There were also "saved souls," who were dressed in
white, as the lost were in black, or black and yellow. There is an
allusion to the latter in _Henry V._ (ii. 3. 43), where the flea on
Bardolph's rubicund nose is compared to "a black soul burning in

The Devil wore a dress of black leather, with a mask, and carried
a club, with which he laid about him vigorously. His clothes were
often covered with feathers or horsehair, to give him a shaggy
appearance; and the traditional horns, tail, and cloven feet were
sometimes added.

The regular time for these religious pageants was Corpus Christi
Day, or the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, but they were
occasionally performed on other days, especially at the time of
a royal visit to Coventry, like that of Queen Margaret in 1455.
Prince Edward was thus greeted in 1474, Prince Arthur in 1498,
Henry VIII. in 1510, and Queen Elizabeth in 1565.

Shakespeare has other allusions to these old plays besides those
here mentioned, showing that he knew them by report if he had not
seen them.

Historical pageants, not Biblical in subject, were also familiar to
the good people of Coventry a century at least before the dramatist
was born. "The Nine Worthies," which he has burlesqued in _Love's
Labour's Lost_, was acted there before Henry VI. and his queen
in 1455. The original text of the play has been preserved, and
portions of Shakespeare's travesty seem almost like a parody of it.

But we must not linger in the shadow of the "three tall spires"
of Coventry, nor make more than a brief allusion to the legend of
Godiva, the lady who rode naked through the town to save the people
from a burdensome tax. It was an old story in Shakespeare's time,
if, indeed, it had not been dramatized, like other chapters in
the mythic annals of the venerable city. It has been proved to be
without historical foundation, being mentioned by no writer before
the fourteenth century, though the Earl who figures in the tale
lived in the latter part of the eleventh century. The Benedictine
Priory in Coventry, of which some fragments still remain, is said
to have been founded by him in 1043. He died in 1057, and both he
and his lady were buried in the porch of the monastery.

The effigy of "Peeping Tom" is still to be seen in the upper part
of a house at the corner of Hertford Street in Coventry.

Shakespeare makes no reference to this story of Lady Godiva, though
it was probably well known to him.


Returning to Warwick, and travelling eight miles on the other
side of the town, we come to Stratford. By one of the two roads
we may take we pass Charlecote Hall and Park, associated with the
tradition of Shakespeare's deer-poaching--a fine old mansion, seen
across a breadth of fields dotted with tall elms.

[Illustration: CHARLECOTE HALL]

The winding Avon skirts the enclosure to the west. The house, which
has been in the possession of the Lucy family ever since the days
of Shakespeare, stands at the water's edge. It has been enlarged in
recent times, but the original structure has undergone no material
change. It was begun in 1558, the year when Elizabeth came to the
throne, and was probably finished in 1559. It took the place of
a much older mansion of which no trace remains, the ancestors of
Sir Thomas Lucy having then held the estate for more than five
centuries. The ground plan of the house is in the form of a capital
letter E, being so arranged as a compliment to the Virgin Queen;
and only one out of many such tributes paid her by noble builders
of the time. Over the main door are the royal arms, with the
letters E. R., together with the initials of the owner, T. L.

Within there is little to remind one of the olden time, but some
of the furniture of the library,--chairs, couch, and cabinet of
coromandel-wood inlaid with ivory,--is said to have been presented
by Elizabeth to Leicester in 1575, and to have been brought from
Kenilworth in the seventeenth century. There is a modern bust of
Shakespeare in the hall.

The tradition that the dramatist in his youth was guilty of
deer-stealing in Sir Thomas's park is not improbable. Some critics
have endeavored to prove that there was no deer-park at Charlecote
at that time; but Lucy had other estates in the neighborhood,
on some of which he employed game-keepers, and in March, 1585,
about the date of the alleged poaching, he introduced a bill into
Parliament for the better preservation of game.

The strongest argument in favor of the tradition is to be based on
the evidence furnished by the plays that Shakespeare had a grudge
against Sir Thomas, and caricatured him as Justice Shallow in
_Henry IV._ and _The Merry Wives of Windsor_. The reference in the
latter play to the "dozen white luces" on Shallow's coat of arms is
palpably meant to suggest the three luces, or pikes, in the arms of
the Lucys. The manner in which the dialogue dwells on the device
indicates that some personal satire was intended.

It should be understood that poaching was then regarded, except
by the victims of it, as a venial offence. Sir Philip Sidney's
May Lady calls deer-stealing "a prettie service." The students
at Oxford were the most notorious poachers in the kingdom, in
spite of laws making expulsion from the university the penalty
of detection. Dr. Forman relates how two students in 1573 (one of
whom afterwards became Bishop of Worcester) were more given to
such pursuits than to study; and one good man lamented in later
life that he had missed the advantages that others had derived
from these exploits, which he believed to be an excellent kind of
discipline for young men.


We must not assume that Sir Thomas was fairly represented in the
character of Justice Shallow. On the contrary, he appears to have
been an able man and magistrate, and very genial withal. The
Stratford records bear frequent testimony to his judicial services;
and his attendance on such occasions is generally coupled with
a charge for claret and sack or similar beverages. It is rather
amusing that these entries occur even when he is sitting in
judgment on tipplers. In the records for 1558 we read: "Paid for
wine and sugar when Sir Thomas Lucy sat in commission for tipplers,
xx _d._"

[Illustration: SIR THOMAS LUCY]

That he was a good husband we may infer from the long epitaph of
his wife in Charlecote Church, which, after stating that she died
in 1595, at the age of 63, goes on thus: "all the time of her life
a true and faithful servant of her good God; never detected of any
crime or vice; in religion most sound; in love to her husband most
faithful and true; in friendship most constant; to what in trust
was committed to her most secret; in wisdom excelling; in governing
of her house and bringing up of youth in the fear 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 of 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 by any. As she lived most virtuously, so she
died most godly. Set down by him that best did know what hath been
written to be true, _Thomas Lucy_."

The author of this beautiful tribute may have been a severe
magistrate, but he could not have been a Robert Shallow either in
his official capacity or as a man.


Stratford lies on a gentle slope declining to the Avon, whose banks
are here shaded by venerable willows, which the poet may have had
in mind when he painted the scene of poor Ophelia's death:--

      "There is a willow grows aslant a brook,
      That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream."

The description could have been written only by one who had
observed the reflection of the white underside of the willow-leaves
in the water over which they hung. And I cannot help believing
that Shakespeare was mindful of the Avon when in far-away London
he wrote that singularly musical simile of the river in one of his
earliest plays, _The Two Gentlemen of Verona_, so aptly does it
give the characteristics of the Warwickshire stream:

      "The current that with gentle murmur glides,
      Thou know'st, being stopp'd, impatiently doth rage;
      But when his fair course is not hindered,
      He makes sweet music with the enamell'd stones,
      Giving a gentle kiss to every sedge
      He overtaketh in his pilgrimage;
      And so by many winding nooks he strays,
      With willing sport, to the wild ocean.
      Then let me go, and hinder not my course:
      I'll be as patient as a gentle stream,
      And make a pastime of each weary step,
      Till the last step have brought me to my love;
      And there I'll rest, as, after much turmoil,
      A blessed soul doth in Elysium."

The river cannot now be materially different from what it was three
hundred years ago, but the town has changed a good deal. I fear
that we might not have enjoyed a visit to it in that olden time as
we do in these latter days.

It is not pleasant to learn that the poet's father was fined
for maintaining a _sterquinarium_, which being translated from
the Latin is _dung-heap_, in front of his house in Henley
Street--now, like the other Stratford streets, kept as clean
as any cottage-floor in the town--and we have ample evidence
that the general sanitary condition of the place was very bad.
John Shakespeare would probably not have been fined if his
_sterquinarium_ had been behind his house instead of before it.

Stratford, however, was no worse in this respect than other
English towns. The terrible plagues that devastated the entire
land in those "good old times" were the natural result of the
unwholesome habits of life everywhere prevailing--_everywhere_,
for the mansions of noblemen and the palaces of kings were as
filthy as the hovels of peasants. The rushes with which royal
presence-chamber and banquet-hall were strewn in place of carpets
were not changed until they had become too unsavory for endurance.
Meanwhile disagreeable odors were overcome by burning perfumes--of
which practice we have a hint in _Much Ado About Nothing_ in the
reference to "smoking a musty room."

But away from these musty rooms of great men's houses, and the
foul streets and lanes of towns, field and forest and river-bank
were as clean and sweet as now. The banished Duke in _As You Like
It_ may have had other reasons than he gives for preferring life
in the Forest of Arden to that of the court from which he had been
driven; and Shakespeare's delight in out-of-door life may have been
intensified by his experience of the house in Henley Street, with
the reeking pile of filth at the front door.

His poetry is everywhere full of the beauty and fragrance of the
flowers that bloom in and about Stratford; and the wonderful
accuracy of his allusions to them--their colors, their habits,
their time of blossoming, everything concerning them--shows how
thoroughly at home he was with them, how intensely he loved and
studied them.

Mr. J. R. Wise, in his _Shakespeare, His Birthplace and its
Neighbourhood_, says: "Take up what play you will, and you will
find glimpses of the scenery round Stratford. His maidens ever
sing of 'blue-veined violets,' and 'daisies pied,' and 'pansies
that are for thoughts,' and 'ladies'-smocks all silver-white,'
that still stud the meadows of the Avon.... I do not think it is
any exaggeration to say that nowhere are meadows so full of beauty
as those round Stratford. I have seen them by the riverside in
early spring burnished with gold; and then later, a little before
hay-harvest, chased with orchises, and blue and white milkwort,
and yellow rattle-grass, and tall moon-daisies: and I know nowhere
woodlands so sweet as those round Stratford, filled with the soft
green light made by the budding leaves, and paved with the golden
ore of primroses, and their banks veined with violets. All this,
and the tenderness that such beauty gives, you find in the pages
of Shakespeare; and it is not too much to say that he painted them
because they were ever associated in his mind with all that he held
precious and dear, both of the earliest and the latest scenes of
his life."


Stratford is a very ancient town. Its name shows that it was
situated at a _ford_ on the Roman _street_, or highway, from London
to Birmingham; but whether it was an inhabited place during the
Roman occupation is uncertain. The earliest known reference to the
town is in a charter dated A.D. 691, according to which Egwin, the
Bishop of Worcester, obtained from Ethelred, King of Mercia, "the
monastery of Stratford," with lands of about three thousand acres,
in exchange for a religious house built by the bishop at Fladbury.
It is not improbable that Stratford owes its foundation to this
monastic settlement. Tradition says that the monastery stood where
the church now is; and, as elsewhere in England, the first houses
of the town were probably erected for its servants and dependants.
These dwellings were doubtless near the river, in the street that
has been known for centuries as "Old Town."

The district continued to be a manor of the Bishop of Worcester
until after the Norman Conquest in 1066. According to the Domesday
survey in 1085, its territory was "fourteen and a half hides," or
about two thousand acres. It was of smaller extent than in 691,
because the neighboring villages had become separate manors. The
inhabitants were a priest, who doubtless officiated in the chapel
of the old monastery (of which we find no mention after the year
872), with twenty-one villeins and seven _bordarii_, or cottagers.
The families of these residents would make up a population of
about one hundred and fifty. "Every householder, whether villein
or cottager, evidently possessed a plough. The community owned
altogether thirty-one ploughs, of which three belonged to the
bishop, the lord of the manor." The agricultural produce was
chiefly wheat, barley, and oats. A water-mill stood by the river,
probably where the old mill now is; and there the villagers were
obliged to grind all their corn, paying a fee for the privilege.
In 1085 the annual income from the mill was ten shillings, but the
bishop was often willing to accept eels in payment of the fees, and
a thousand eels were then sent yearly to Worcester by the people
who used the mill.

During the 12th century Stratford appears to have made little
progress. Alveston, now a small village on the other side of the
Avon, seemed likely then to rival it in prosperity. The boundaries
of the Alveston manor were gradually extended until they reached
their present limit on the south side of the bridge at Stratford
(at that time a rude wooden structure), and there a little colony
was planted which was known until after the Elizabethan period as

We get an idea of the life led by the majority of the inhabitants
of Stratford and its vicinity in the 12th and 13th centuries from
the ecclesiastical records of the various services and payments
rendered as rent. Many of the large estates outside of the town
had been let as "knight's fees," that is, on condition of certain
military services to be performed by the holders. Some of the
villeins within the village had become "free tenants," or free
from serfdom, and were permitted to cultivate their land as they
pleased on payment of a fixed rental in money, with little or no
labor service in addition. But most of the inhabitants were still
villeins or cottagers, from whom labor service was regularly
exacted. "Villeins who owned sixty acres had to supply two men
for reaping the lord's fields, and cottagers with thirty acres
supplied one. On a special day an additional reaping service was
to be performed by villeins and cottagers with all their families
except their wives and shepherds. Each of the free tenants had then
also to find a reaper, and to direct the reaping himself.... The
villein was to provide two carts for the conveyance of the corn to
the barns, and every cottager who owned a horse provided one cart,
for the use of which he was to receive a good morning meal of bread
and cheese. One day's hoeing was expected of the villein and three
days' ploughing, and if an additional day were called for, food
was supplied free to the workers.... No villein nor cottager was
allowed to bring up his child for the church without permission of
the lord of the manor. A fee had to be paid when a daughter of a
villein or cottager was married. On his death his best wagon was
claimed by the steward in his lord's behalf, and a fine of money
was exacted from his successor--if, as the record wisely adds, he
could pay one. Any townsman who made beer for sale paid for the

In 1197 the inhabitants obtained for the town from Richard I. the
privilege of a weekly market, to be holden on Thursdays, for which
the citizens paid the bishop a yearly toll of sixteen shillings.
The market was doubtless held at first in the open space still
known as the Rother Market, in the centre of which the Memorial
Fountain, the gift of Mr. George W. Childs of Philadelphia, now
stands. _Rother_ is an old word, of Anglo-Saxon origin, applied
to cattle, which must have been a staple commodity in the early
Stratford market. The term was familiar to Shakespeare, who uses it
in _Timon of Athens_ (iv. 3. 12):--

      "It is the pasture lards the rother's sides,
      The want that makes him lean."

In the course of the 11th century Stratford was also endowed with
a series of annual fairs, "the chief stimulants of trade in the
middle ages." The earliest of these fairs was granted by the Bishop
of Worcester in 1216, to begin "on the eve of the Holy Trinity,
and to continue for the next two days ensuing." In 1224 a fair was
established for the eve of St. Augustine (May 26th) "and on the day
and morrow after"; in 1242, for the eve of the Exaltation of the
Holy Cross (September 14th), "the day, and two days following"; and
in 1271, "for the eve of the Ascension of our Lord, commonly called
Holy Thursday, and upon the day and morrow following." Early in
the next century (1313) another fair was instituted, to begin on
the eve of St. Peter and St. Paul (June 29th) and to be held for
fifteen days.

[Illustration: STRATFORD CHURCH]

Trinity Sunday was doubtless chosen for the opening of the first
of these fairs because the parish church was dedicated to the
Holy Trinity, and a festival in commemoration of the dedication
of the church was celebrated on that Sunday by a "wake," which
attracted many people from the neighboring villages. "There
was nothing exceptional in a Sunday of specially sacred character
being turned to commercial uses. In most medieval towns, moreover,
traders exposed their wares at fair-time in the churchyard, and
chaffering and bargaining were conducted in the church itself."
Attempts were made by the ecclesiastical authorities to restrain
these practices, but they continued until the Reformation.

At the close of the 13th century the prosperity of Stratford was
assured. Alveston had then ceased to be a dangerous rival. The
town was more and more profitable to the Bishops of Worcester, who
interested themselves in promoting its welfare. It appears also
that Bishop Gifford had a park here; for on the 3d of May, 1280,
he sent his injunctions to the deans of Stratford and the adjacent
towns "solemnly to excommunicate all those that had broke his park
and stole his deer."

In the 14th century the condition of the Stratford folk materially
improved. Villeinage gradually disappeared in the reign of Edward
III. (1327-1377), and those who had been subject to it became
free tenants, paying definite rents for house and land. Three
natives of the town, who, after the fashion of the time, took their
surnames from the place of their birth, rose to high positions in
the Church, one becoming Archbishop of Canterbury, and the others
respectively Bishops of London and Chichester. John of Stratford
and Robert of Stratford were brothers, and Ralph of Stratford was
their nephew. John and Robert were both for a time Chancellors of
England, and there is no other instance of two brothers attaining
that high office in succession.


All three had a great affection for their native town, and did
much to promote its welfare. Robert, while holding the living
of Stratford, took measures for the paving of some of the main
streets. John enlarged the parish church, rebuilding portions of
it, and founded a chantry with five priests to perform masses for
the souls of the founder and his friends. Later he purchased the
patronage of Stratford from the Bishop of Worcester, and gave it to
his chantry priests, who thus came into full control of the parish
church. Ralph, in 1351, built for the chantry priests "a house of
square stone for the habitation of these priests, adjoining to
the churchyard." This building, afterwards known as the College,
remained in possession of the priests until 1546, when Henry VIII.
included it in the dissolution of monastic establishments. After
passing through various hands as a private residence, it was
finally taken down in 1799.

Other inhabitants of Stratford followed the example set by John
and Ralph in their benefactions to the church. Dr. Thomas Bursall,
warden of the College in the time of Edward IV., added "a fair and
beautiful choir, rebuilt from the ground at his own cost"--the
choir which is still the most beautiful portion of the venerable
edifice, and in which Shakespeare lies buried.

The only important alteration in the church since Shakespeare's
day was the erection of the present spire in 1764, to replace a
wooden one covered with lead and about forty feet high, which had
been taken down a year before. The tower is the oldest part of the
church as it now exists, and was probably built before the year
1200. It is eighty feet high, to which the spire adds eighty-three
feet more.

The last of the early benefactors of Stratford was Sir Hugh
Clopton, who came from the neighboring village of Clopton about
1480. A few years later he built "a pretty house of brick and
timber wherein he lived in his latter days." This was the mansion
afterwards known as New Place, which in 1597 became the property of
William Shakespeare, and was his residence after he returned to
his native town about 1611 or 1612.

Sir Hugh also built "the great bridge upon the Avon, at the east
end of the town," constructed of freestone, with fourteen arches,
and a "long causeway" of stone, "well walled on each side." ...
Before this time, as Leland the antiquarian wrote about 1530,
"there was but a poor bridge of timber, and no causeway to come to
it, whereby many poor folk either refused to come to Stratford when
the river was up, or coming thither stood in jeopardy of life."
This bridge, though often repaired, is to this day a monument to
Sir Hugh's public spirit.


In the latter part of the 13th century an institution attained a
position and influence in Stratford which were destined to deprive
the Bishops of Worcester of their authority in the government of
the town. This was the Guild of the Holy Cross, the Blessed Virgin,
and St. John the Baptist, as it was then called. The triple name
has suggested that it was formed by the union of three separate
guilds, but of this no historical evidence has been discovered.

This guild, like other of these ancient societies, had a religious
origin, being "collected for the love of God and our souls' need";
but relief of the poor and of its own indigent members was also a
part of its functions.

The "craft-guilds," formed by people engaged in a single trade or
occupation, were a different class of societies, though in many
instances offshoots from the religious guilds, and often, as in
London, surviving the decay of the parent institution.


Members of both sexes were admitted to the Stratford Guild, as
to others of its class, on payment of a small annual fee. "This
primarily secured for them the performance of certain religious
rites, which were more valued than life itself. While the members
lived, but more especially after their death, lighted tapers were
duly distributed in their behalf, before the altars of the Virgin
and of their patron saints in the parish church. A poor man in
the Middle Ages found it very difficult, without the intervention
of the guilds, to keep this road to salvation always open. Gifts
were frequently awarded to members anxious to make pilgrimages to
Canterbury, and at times the spinster members received dowries
from the association. The regulation which compelled the members
to attend the funeral of any of their fellows united them among
themselves in close bonds of intimacy."

The social spirit was fostered yet more by a great annual meeting,
at which all members were expected to be present in special
uniform. They marched with banners flying in procession to church,
and afterwards sat down together to a generous feast.

Though of religious origin the guilds were strictly lay
associations. In many towns priests were excluded from membership;
if admitted, they had no more authority or influence than laymen.
Priests were employed to perform the religious services of the
guild, for which they were duly paid; but the fraternities were
governed by their own elected officers--wardens, aldermen, beadles,
and clerks--and a council of their representatives controlled their
property and looked after their rights.

When the Stratford Guild was founded it is impossible to determine.
"Its beginning," as its chief officers wrote in 1389, "was from
time whereunto the memory of man reacheth not." Records preserved
in the town prove that it was in existence early in the 13th
century, and that bequests were then made to it. The Bishops of
Worcester encouraged such gifts, and apparently managed that some
of the revenues of the Guild should be devoted to ecclesiastical
purposes outside its own regular uses. Before the time of Edward
I. the society was rich in houses and lands; and in 1353, as its
records show, it owned a house in almost every street in Stratford.

In 1296 the elder Robert of Stratford, father of John and Robert
(p. 31), laid the foundation of a special chapel for the Guild,
and also of adjacent almshouses. These doubtless stood where the
present chapel, Guildhall, and other fraternity buildings now are.

In 1332 Edward III. gave the Guild a charter confirming its
right to all its property and to the full control of its own
affairs. In 1389 Richard II. sent out commissioners to report
upon the ordinances of the guilds throughout England, and the
report for Stratford is still extant. It shows what a good work
the society was doing for the relief of the poor and for the
promotion of fraternal relations among its members. Regulations
for the government of the Guild by two wardens or aldermen and
six others indicate the progress of the town in the direction of
self-government. An association which had come to include all the
substantial householders naturally acquired much jurisdiction
in civil affairs. Its members referred their disputes with one
another to its council; and the aldermen gradually became the
administrators of the municipal police. The College priests were
very jealous of the Guild's increasing influence, and when the
society resisted the payment of tithes they brought a lawsuit to
compel the fulfilment of this ancient obligation; but in all other
respects the Guild appears to have been independent of external

A curious feature of the conditions of membership in the 15th
century was that the souls of the dead could be admitted to its
spiritual privileges on payment of the regular fees by the living.
Early in the century six dead children of John Whittington of
Stratford were allowed this benefit for the sum of ten shillings.

The fame of the institution in its palmy days spread far beyond
the limits of Stratford, and attracted not a few men of the
highest rank and reputation. George, Duke of Clarence, brother of
Edward IV., and his wife, were enrolled among its members, with
Edward Lord Warwick and Margaret, two of their children; and the
distinguished judge, Sir Thomas Lyttleton, received the same honor.
Few towns or villages of Warwickshire were without representation
in it, and merchants joined it from places as far away as Bristol
and Peterborough.

To us, however, the most remarkable fact in the history of the
Guild is the establishment of the Grammar School for the children
of its members. The date of its foundation has been usually given
as 1453, but it is now known to have been in existence before
that time. Attendance was free, and the master, who was paid ten
pounds a year by the Guild, was forbidden to take anything from the
pupils. In this school, as we shall see later, William Shakespeare
was educated, and we shall become better acquainted with it when we
follow the boy thither.

The Guild Chapel, with the exception of the chancel, which had been
renovated about 1450, was taken down and rebuilt in the closing
years of the century by Sir Hugh Clopton (see page 34 above), who
was a prominent member of the fraternity. The work was not finished
until after his death in September, 1496, but the expense of its
completion was provided for in his will.


The Guild was dissolved by Henry VIII. in 1547, and its possessions
remained as crown property until 1553. For seven years the town
had been without any responsible government. Meanwhile the
leading citizens--the old officers of the Guild--had petitioned
Edward VI. to restore that society as a municipal corporation. He
granted their prayer, and by a charter dated June 7, 1553, put
the government of the town in the hands of its inhabitants. The
estates, revenues, and chattels of the Guild were made over to the
corporation, which, as the heir and successor of the venerable
fraternity, adopted the main features of its organization. The
names and functions of its chief officers were but slightly
changed. The warden became the bailiff, and the proctors were
called chamberlains, but aldermen, clerk, and beadle resumed
their old titles. The common council continued to meet monthly
in the Guildhall; but it now included, besides the bailiff and
ten aldermen, the ten chief burgesses, and its authority covered
the whole town. The fraternal sentiment of the ancient society
survived; it being ordered "that none of the aldermen nor none
of the capital burgesses, neither in the council chamber nor
elsewhere, do revile one another, but brother-like live together,
and that after they be entered into the council chamber, that they
nor none of them depart not forth but in brotherly love, under
the pains of every offender to forfeit and pay for every default,
vj_s._ viij_d._" When any councillor or his wife died, all were to
attend the funeral "in their honest apparel, and bring the corpse
to the church, there to continue and abide devoutly until the
corpse be buried."

The Grammar School and the chapel and almshouses of the Guild
became public institutions. The bailiff became a magistrate who
presided at a monthly court for the recovery of small debts, and
at the higher semi-annual _leets_, or court-leets, to which all
the inhabitants were summoned to revise and enforce the police
regulations. Shakespeare alludes to these leets in _The Taming of
the Shrew_ (ind. 2. 89) where the servant tells Kit Sly that he has
been talking in his sleep:--

      "Yet would you say ye were beaten out of door,
      And rail upon the mistress of the house,
      And say you would present her at the leet
      Because she brought stone jugs and no seal'd quarts."

And Iago (_Othello_, iii. 3. 140) refers to "leets and law-days."
Prices of bread and beer were fixed by the council, and ale-tasters
were annually appointed to see that the orders concerning the
quality and price of malt liquors and bread were enforced.
Shakespeare's father was an ale-taster in 1557, and about the same
time was received into the corporation as a burgess. In 1561 he
was elected as one of the two chamberlains; in 1565 he became an
alderman; and in 1568 he was chosen bailiff, the highest official
position in the town.

The rule of the council was of a very paternal character. "If
a man lived immorally he was summoned to the Guildhall, and
rigorously examined as to the truth of the rumors that had reached
the bailiff's ear. If his guilt was proved, and he refused to
make adequate reparation, he was invited to leave the town. Rude
endeavors were made to sweeten the tempers of scolding wives.
A substantial 'ducking-stool,' with iron staples, lock, and
hinges, was kept in good repair. The shrew was attached to it, and
by means of ropes, planks, and wheels was plunged two or three
times into the Avon whenever the municipal council believed her
to stand in need of correction. Three days and three nights were
invariably spent in the open stocks by any inhabitant who spoke
disrespectfully to any town officer, or who disobeyed any minor
municipal decree. No one might receive a stranger into his house
without the bailiff's permission. No journeyman, apprentice, or
servant might 'be forth of their or his master's house' after nine
o'clock at night. Bowling-alleys and butts were provided by the
council, but were only to be used at stated times. An alderman was
fined on one occasion for going to bowls after a morning meeting of
the council, and Henry Sydnall was fined twenty pence for keeping
unlawful or unlicensed bowling in a back shed. Alehouse-keepers,
of whom there were thirty in Shakespeare's time, were kept
strictly under the council's control. They were not allowed to
brew their own ale, or to encourage tippling, or to serve poor
artificers except at stated hours of the day, on pain of fine and
imprisonment. Dogs were not to go about the streets unmuzzled.
Every inhabitant had to go to church at least once a month, and
absences were liable to penalties of twenty pounds, which in the
late years of Elizabeth's reign commissioners came from London to
see that the local authorities enforced. Early in the 17th century
swearing was rigorously prohibited. Laws as to dress were regularly
enforced. In 1577 there were many fines exacted for failure to
wear the plain statute woollen caps on Sundays, to which Rosaline
makes allusion in _Love's Labour's Lost_ (v. 2. 281); and the
regulation affected all inhabitants above six years of age. In
1604 'the greatest part' of the inhabitants were presented at a
great leet, or law-day, 'for wearing their apparel contrary to the
statute.' Nor would it be difficult to quote many other like proofs
of the persistent strictness with which the new town council of
Stratford, by the enforcement of its own order and the statutes of
the realm, regulated the inhabitants' whole conduct of life."

[Illustration: PLAN of STRATFORD _On Avon_]


No map of Stratford made before the middle of the 18th century
is known to exist. The one here given in fac-simile was executed
about the year 1768, and, as Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps tells us, "it
clearly appears from the local records that there had then been
no material alteration in either the form or the extent of the
town since the days of Elizabeth. It may therefore be accepted
as a reliable guide to the locality as it existed in the poet's
own time, when the number of inhabited houses, exclusive of mere
hovels, could not have much exceeded five hundred."

The following is a copy of the references which are appended
to the original map: "1. Moor Town's End;--2. Henley Lane;--3.
Rother Market;--4. Henley Street;--5. Meer Pool Lane;--6. Wood
Street;--7. Ely Street or Swine Street;--8. Scholar's Lane alias
Tinker's Lane;--9. Bull Lane;--10. Street call'd Old Town;--11.
Church Street;--12. Chapel Street;--13. High Street;--14. Market
Cross;--15. Town Hall;--16. Place where died Shakespeare;--17.
Chapel, Public Schools, &c.;--18. House where was Shakespeare
born;--19. Back Bridge Street;--20. Fore Bridge Street;--21. Sheep
Street;--22. Chapel Lane;--23. Buildings call'd Water Side;--24.
Southam's Lane;--25. Dissenting Meeting;--26. White Lion."

Moor Town's End (1) is now Greenhill Street. The Town Hall (15)
did not exist in Shakespeare's time, having been first erected
in 1633, taken down in 1767, and rebuilt the following year. The
"Place where died Shakespeare" (16) was New Place, the home of
his later years. The "Dissenting Meeting" or Meeting-house (25)
was built long after the poet's day. The "White Lion" (26) was
also post-Shakespearian, the chief inns in the 16th century being
the Swan, the Bear, and the Crown, all in Bridge Street. The Mill
and Mill Bridge (built in 1590) are indicated on the river at the
left-hand lower corner of the map; and the stone bridge, erected by
Sir Hugh Clopton about 1500, is just outside the right-hand lower

The only important change in the streets since the map was made is
the removal of the row of small shops and stalls, known as Middle
Row, between Fore Bridge Street (20); and Back Bridge Street (19);
thus making the broad avenue now called Bridge Street.

The "Market Cross" (14) was "a stone monument covered by a low
tiled shed, round which were benches for the accommodation of
listeners to the sermons which, as at St. Paul's Cross in London,
were sometimes preached there." Later a room was added above, and
a clock above that. The open space about the Cross was the chief
market-place of the town. Near by was a pump, at which housewives
were frequently to be seen "washing of clothes" and hanging them on
the cross to dry, and butchers sometimes hung meat there; but these
practices were forbidden by the town council in 1608. The stocks,
pillory, and whipping-post were in the same locality.

There was also a stone cross in the Rother Market (3), and near the
Guild Chapel (17) was a second pump, which was removed by order
of the council in 1595. The field on the river, near the foot of
Chapel Lane (22), was known as the Bank-croft, or Bancroft, where
drovers and farmers of the town were allowed to take their cattle
to pasture for an hour daily. "All horses, geldings, mares, swine,
geese, ducks, and other cattle," according to the regulation
established by the council, if found there in violation of this
restriction, were put by the beadle into the "pinfold," or pound,
which was not far off. This Bancroft, as it is still called, is now
part of the beautiful little park on the river-bank, adjacent to
the grounds of the Shakespeare Memorial.

Chapel Lane, which bounded one side of the New Place estate,
was one of the filthiest thoroughfares of the town, the general
sanitary condition of which (see page 25 above) was bad enough. A
streamlet ran through it, the water of which turned a mill, alluded
to in town records of that period. This water-course gradually
became "a shallow fetid ditch, an open receptacle of sewage and
filth." It continued to be a nuisance for at least two centuries
more. A letter written in 1807, in connection with a lawsuit, gives
some interesting reminiscences of it. "I very well remember," says
the writer, "the ditch you mention forty-five years, as after my
sister was married, which was in October, 1760, I was very often
at Stratford, and was very well acquainted both with the ditch and
the road in question;--the ditch went from the Chapel, and extended
to Smith's house;--I well remember there was a space of two or
three feet from the wall in a descent to the ditch, and I do not
think any part of the new wall was built on the ditch;--the ditch
was the receptacle for all manner of filth that any person chose
to put there, and was very obnoxious at times;--Mr. Hunt used to
complain of it, and was determined to get it covered over, or he
would do it at his own expense, and I do not know whether he did
or not;--across, the road from the ditch to Shakespeare Garden was
very hollow and always full of mud, which is now covered over, and
in general there was only one wagon tract along the lane, which
used to be very bad, in the winter particularly;--I do not know
that the ditch was so deep as to overturn a carriage, and the
road was very little used near it, unless it was to turn out for
another, as there was always room enough." Thomas Cox, a carpenter,
who lived in Chapel Lane from 1774, remembered that the open
gutter from the Chapel to Smith's cottage "was a wide dirty ditch
choked with mud, that all the filth of that part of the town ran
into it, that it was four or five feet wide and more than a foot
deep, and that the road sloped down to the ditch." According to
other witnesses, the ditch extended to the end of the lane, where,
between the roadway and the Bancroft, was a narrow creek or ditch
through which the overflow from Chapel Lane no doubt found a way
into the river.

Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps believes that the fever which proved fatal
to Shakespeare was caused by the "wretched sanitary conditions
surrounding his residence"--an explanation of it which would never
have occurred even to medical men in that day.





The house in Henley Street in which William Shakespeare was
probably born and spent his early years has undergone many changes;
but, as carefully restored in recent years and reverently preserved
for a national memorial of the poet, its appearance now is
doubtless not materially different from what it was in the latter
part of the 16th century.

There are a few houses of the same period and the same class still
standing in Stratford and its vicinity, which, according to the
highest antiquarian authority, are almost unaltered from their
original form and finish. Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps mentions one
in particular in the Rother Market, "the main features of which
are certainly in their original state," and the sketches of the
interior given by him closely resemble those of the Shakespeare

These houses were usually of two stories, and were constructed of
wooden beams, forming a framework, the spaces between the beams
being filled with lath and plaster. The roofs were usually of
thatch, with dormer windows and steep gables. The door was shaded
by a porch or by a _pentice_, or _penthouse_, which was a narrow
sloping roof often extending along the the front of the lower story
over both door and windows, as in Shakespeare's birthplace on
Henley Street.

In the _Merchant of Venice_ (ii. 6. 1) Gratiano says:--

      "This is the penthouse under which Lorenzo
      Desired us to make stand."

In _Much Ado About Nothing_ (iii. 3. 110) Borachio says to Conrade:
"Stand thee close, then, under this penthouse, for it drizzles
rain." We find a figurative allusion to the penthouse in _Love's
Labour's Lost_ (iii. 1. 17): "with your hat penthouse-like o'er the
shop of your eyes"; and another in _Macbeth_ (i. 3. 20):--

      "Sleep shall neither night nor day
      Hang upon his penthouse lid";

the projecting eyebrow being compared to this part of the
Elizabethan dwelling.


The better houses, like New Place, were of timber and brick,
instead of plaster, though sometimes entirely of stone. Shakespeare
appears to have rebuilt the greater part of New Place with stone.
The roofs of this class of dwellings were usually tiled, but
occasionally thatched. We read of one Walter Roche, who in 1582
replaced the tiles of his house in Chapel Street with thatch. The
wood-work in the front of some houses, as in a fine example still
to be seen in the High Street (page 59 below), was elaborately
carved with floral and other designs.

The gardens were bounded by walls constructed of clay or mud and
usually thatched at the top. Fruit-trees were common in these
gardens, and the orchard about the Guild buildings was noted for
its plums and apples. When the mulberry-tree was first introduced
into England, Shakespeare bought one and set it out in his grounds
at New Place, where it grew to great size. It survived for nearly
a century and a half after the death of the poet, but in 1758 was
cut down by the Rev. Francis Gastrell, who had bought the estate in

There was little of what we should regard as comfort in those
picturesque old English houses, with their great black beams
chequering the outer walls into squares and triangles, their small
many-paned windows, their low ceilings and rude interior wood-work,
their poor and scanty furnishings.

Chimneys had but just come into general use in England, and, though
John Shakespeare's house had one, the dwellings of many of his
neighbors were still unprovided with them. In 1582, when William
was eighteen years old, an order was passed by the town council
that "Walter Hill, dwelling in Rother Market, and all the other
inhabitants of the borough, shall, before St. James's Day, 30th
April, make sufficient chimneys," under pain of a fine of ten

This was intended as a precaution against fires, the frequent
occurrence of which in former years had been mainly due to the
absence of chimneys.

William Harrison, in 1577, referring to things in England that
had been "marvellously changed within the memory of old people,"
includes among these "the multitude of chimneys lately erected,
whereas in their young days there were not above two or three, if
so many, in most uplandish towns of the realm (the religious houses
and manor places of their lords always excepted), but each one
made his fire against a reredos[1] in the hall, where he dined and
dressed his meat."

In another chapter Harrison says: "Now have we many chimneys; and
yet our tenderlings complain of rheums, catarrhs, and poses. Then
had we none but reredosses; and our heads did never ache. For as
the smoke in those days was supposed to be a sufficient hardening
for the timber of the house, so it was reported a far better
medicine to keep the goodman and his family from the quack or pose,
wherewith, as then, very few were acquainted."


Of the furniture in these old houses we get an idea from
inventories of the period that have come down to us. We have, for
instance, such a list of the household equipment of Richard Arden,
Shakespeare's maternal grandfather, who was a wealthy farmer;
and another of such property belonging to Henry Field, tanner, a
neighbor of John Shakespeare, who was his chief executor.

From these and similar inventories we find that the only furniture
in the hall, or main room of the house--often occupying the whole
of the ground floor--and the parlor, or sitting-room, when there
was one, consisted of two or three chairs, a few joint-stools--that
is, stools made of wood jointed or fitted together, as distinguished
from those more rudely made--a table of the plainest construction,
and possibly one or more "painted cloths" hung on the walls.

These painted cloths were cheap substitutes for the tapestries
with which great mansions were adorned, and they were often found
in the cottages of the poor. The paintings were generally crude
representations of Biblical stories, together with maxims or
mottoes, which were sometimes on scrolls or "labels" proceeding
from the mouths of the characters.

Shakespeare refers to these cloths several times; for instance,
in _As You Like It_ (iii. 2. 291), where Jaques says to Orlando:
"You are full of pretty answers; have you not been acquainted
with goldsmiths' wives and conned them out of rings?"--referring
to the mottoes, or "posies," as they were called, often inscribed
in finger-rings. Orlando replies: "Not so; but I answer you right
painted cloth, from whence you have studied your questions."
Falstaff (_1 Henry IV._ iv. 2. 28) says that his recruits are
"ragged as Lazarus in the painted cloth."

In an anonymous play, _No Whipping nor Tripping_, printed in 1601,
we find this passage:--

      "Read what is written on the painted cloth:
      Do no man wrong; be good unto the poor;
      Beware the mouse, the maggot, and the moth,
      And ever have an eye unto the door," etc.

When carpets are mentioned in these inventories, they are coverings
for the tables, not for the floors, which, even in kings' palaces,
were strewn with rushes. Grumio, in _The Taming of the Shrew_
(iv. 1. 52) sees "the carpets laid" for supper on his master's
return home. A Stratford inventory of 1590 mentions "a carpet for
a table." Carpets were also used for window-seats, but were seldom
placed on the floor except to kneel upon, or for other special

The bedroom furniture was equally rude and scanty, though better
than it had been when the old folk of the time were young. Harrison

"Our fathers and we ourselves have lien full oft upon straw pallets
covered only with a sheet, under coverlets made of dagswain or
hopharlots [coarse, rough cloths], and a good round log under their
heads instead of a bolster. If it were that our fathers or the good
man of the house had a mattress or flock-bed, and thereto a sack
of chaff to rest his head upon, he thought himself to be as well
lodged as the lord of the town, so well were they contented."

But feather beds had now come into use, with pillows, and "flaxen
sheets," and other comfortable appliances. Henry Field had "one
bed-covering of yellow and green" among his household goods.

Kitchen utensils and table-ware had likewise improved within the
memory of the old inhabitant, though still rude and simple enough.
Harrison notes "the exchange of treen [wooden] platters into
pewter, and wooden spoons into silver or tin."

He adds: "So common were all sorts of treen stuff in old time that
a man should hardly find four pieces of pewter (of which one was
peradventure a salt) in a good farmer's house"; but now they had
plenty of pewter, with perhaps a silver bowl and salt-cellar, and a
dozen silver spoons.

The table-linen was hempen for common use, but flaxen for special
occasions, and the napkins were of the same materials. These
napkins, or towels, as they were sometimes called, were for wiping
the hands after eating with the fingers, forks being as yet unknown
in England except as a curiosity.

Elizabeth is the first royal personage in the country who is known
to have had a fork, and it is doubtful whether she used it. It was
not until the middle of the 17th century that forks were used even
by the higher classes, and silver forks were not introduced until
about 1814.

Thomas Coryat, in his _Crudities_, published in 1611, only five
years before Shakespeare died, gives an account of the use of forks
in Italy, where they appear to have been invented in the 15th
century. He says:--

"The Italian and also most strangers do always at their meals use
a little fork when they do cut their meat. For while with their
knife, which they hold in one hand, they cut the meat out of the
dish, they fasten the fork, which they hold in their other hand,
upon the same dish; so that whosoever he be that, sitting in the
company of others at meals, should unadvisedly touch the dish of
meat with his fingers, from which all the table do cut, he will
give occasion of offence unto the company, as having transgressed
the laws of good manners."

Coryat adds that he himself "thought good to imitate the Italian
fashion by this forked cutting of meat," not only while he was in
Italy, but after he came home to England, where, however, he was
sometimes "quipped" for what his friends regarded as a foreign

The dramatists of the time also refer contemptuously to "your
fork-carving traveller"; and one clergyman preached against the use
of forks "as being an insult to Providence not to touch one's meat
with one's fingers!"

Towels, except for table use, are rarely noticed in inventories of
the period, and when mentioned are specified as "washing towels."
Neither are wash-basins often referred to, except in lists of
articles used by barbers.

Bullein, in his _Government of Health_, published about 1558, says:
"Plain people in the country use seldom times to wash their hands,
as appeareth by their filthiness, and as very few times comb their

Their betters were none too particular in these matters, and in
personal cleanliness generally. Baths are seldom referred to in
writings of the time, except for the treatment of certain diseases.


Reference has already been made to the use of rushes for covering
floors. It was thought to be a piece of unnecessary luxury on the
part of Wolsey when he caused the rushes at Hampton Court to be
changed every day. From a letter of Erasmus to Dr. Francis,
Wolsey's physician, it would appear that the lowest layer of
rushes--the top only being renewed--was sometimes unchanged
for years--the latter says "twenty years," which seems hardly
credible--becoming a receptacle for beer, grease, fragments of
victuals, and other organic matters.

Perfumes were used for neutralizing the foul odors that resulted
from this filthiness. Burton, in his _Anatomy of Melancholy_, 1621,
says: "The smoke of juniper is in great request with us at Oxford,
to sweeten our chambers." [See also page 25 above.]

From the correspondence of the Earl of Shrewsbury with Lord
Burleigh, during the confinement of Mary Queen of Scots at
Sheffield Castle, in 1572, we learn that she was to be removed
for five or six days "to cleanse her chamber, being kept very

In a memoir written by Anne, Countess of Dorset, in 1603, we read:
"We all went to Tibbals to see the King, who used my mother and my
aunt very graciously; but we all saw a great change between the
fashion of the Court as it was now and of that in the Queen's, for
we were all lousy by sitting in Sir Thomas Erskine's chambers."


The food of the common people was better in some respects than
it is nowadays, and better than it was in Continental countries.
Harrison says that whereas what he calls "white meats"--milk,
butter, and cheese--were in old times the food of the upper
classes, they were in his time "only eaten by the poor," while all
other classes ate flesh, fish, and "wild and tame fowls."

Wheaten bread, however, was little known except to the rich, the
bread of the poor being made of rye or barley, and, in times of
scarcity, of beans, oats, and even acorns.

Tea and coffee had not yet been introduced into England, but wine
was abundant and cheap. It is rather surprising to learn that from
twenty to thirty thousand tuns of home-grown wine were then made in
the country.

Of foreign wines, thirty kinds of strong and fifty-six of light
were to be had in London. The price ranged from eightpence to a
shilling a gallon. The drink of the common people, however, was
beer, which was generally home-brewed and cheap withal.

Harrison, who was a country clergyman with forty pounds a year,
tells how his good wife brewed two hundred gallons at a cost of
twenty shillings, or less than three halfpence a gallon. When
nobody drank water, and the only substitute for malt liquors was
milk, the consumption of beer was of course enormous.

The meals were but two a day. Harrison says: "Heretofore there hath
been much more time spent in eating and drinking than commonly
is in these days, for whereas of old we had breakfasts in the
forenoon, beverages or nuntions [luncheons] after dinner, and
thereto rear-suppers [late or second suppers] generally when it
was time to go to rest, now these odd repasts--thanked be God--are
very well left, and each one in manner (except here and there some
young hungry stomach that cannot fast till dinner time) contenteth
himself with dinner and supper only."


Of the times of meals he says: "With us the nobility, gentry,
and students do ordinarily go to dinner at eleven before noon,
and to supper at five, or between five and six at afternoon. The
merchants dine and sup seldom before twelve at noon and six at
night, especially in London. The husbandmen dine also at high noon,
as they call it, and sup at seven or eight; but out of the term in
our universities the scholars dine at ten. As for the poorest sort,
they generally dine and sup when they may, so that to talk of
their order of repast it were but needless matter."

Rising at four or five in the morning, as was the custom with the
common people, and going until ten or even noon without food must
have been hard for other than the "young hungry stomachs" of which
Harrison speaks so contemptuously.


In the 16th century, children of the middle and upper classes were
strictly brought up. The "Books of Nurture," published at that
time, give minute directions for the behavior of boys like William
at home, at school, at church, and elsewhere. These manuals were
generally in doggerel verse, and several of them have been edited
by Dr. F. J. Furnivall for the Early English Text Society.

Among them is one by Francis Seager, published in London in 1557,
entitled _The Schoole of Vertue, and booke of good Nourture for
Chyldren and youth to learne their dutie by_. Another is _The
Boke of Nurture, or Schoole of good maners for men, servants, and
children_, compiled by Hugh Rhodes, of which at least five editions
were printed between 1554 and 1577.

The _Schoole of Vertue_ begins thus[2] (the spelling being

      "First in the morning when thou dost awake
      To God for his grace thy petition then make;
      This prayer following use daily to say,
      Thy heart lifting up; thus begin to pray,"

A prayer of eighteen lines follows, with directions to repeat the
Lord's Prayer after it. Then come rules "how to order thyself when
thou risest, and in apparelling thy body."

The child is to rise early, dress carefully, washing his hands and
combing his head. When he goes down stairs he is to salute the

      "Down from thy chamber when thou shalt go,
      Thy parents salute thou, and the family also."

Elsewhere, politeness out of doors is enjoined:--

      "Be free of cap [taking it off to his elders] and full of

At meals his first duty is to wait upon his parents, after saying
this grace:--

      "Give thanks to God with one accord
      For that shall be set on this board.
      And be not careful what to eat,
      To each thing living the Lord sends meat;
      For food He will not see you perish,
      But will you feed, foster, and cherish;
      Take well in worth what He hath sent,
      At this time be therewith content,
      Praising God."

He is then to make low curtsy, saying "Much good may it do you!"
and, if he is big enough, he is to bring the food to the table.

In filling the dishes he must take care not to get them so full
as to spill anything on his parents' clothes. He is to have
spare trenchers and napkins ready for guests, to see that all
are supplied with "bread and drink," and that the "voiders"--the
baskets or vessels into which bones are thrown--are often emptied.

When the course of meat is over he is to clear the table, cover the
salt, put the dirty trenchers and napkins into a voider, sweep the
crumbs into another, place a clean trencher before each person,
and set on "cheese with fruit, with biscuits or caraways" [comfits
containing caraway seeds, which were considered favorable to
digestion, and, according to a writer on health, in 1595, "surely
very good for students"], also wine, "if any there were," or beer.

The meal ended, he is to remove the cloth, turning in each side
and folding it up carefully; "a clean towel then on the table to
spread," and bring basin and ewer for washing the hands. He now
clears the table again, and when the company rise, he must not
"forget his duty":--

      "Before the table make thou low curtsy."

The boy can now eat his own dinner, and equally minute directions
are given as to his behavior while doing it. He is not to break his
bread, but "cut it fair," not to fill his spoon too full of soup,
nor his mouth too full of meat--

      "Not smacking thy lips as commonly do hogs,
      Nor gnawing the bones as it were dogs.
      Such rudeness abhor, such beastliness fly,
      At the table behave thyself mannerly."

He must keep his fingers clean with a napkin, wipe his mouth before
drinking, and be temperate in eating--"For 'measure is treasure,'
the proverb doth say."

The directions "how to behave thyself in talking with any man" are
very minute and specific:--

      "If a man demand a question of thee,
      In thine answer-making be not too hasty;
      Weigh well his words, the case understand,
      Ere an answer to make thou take in hand;
      Else may he judge in thee little wit,
      To answer to a thing and not hear it.
      Suffer his tale whole out to be told,
      Then speak thou mayst, and not be controlled;
      Low obeisance making, looking him in the face,
      Treatably speaking, thy words see thou place,
      With countenance sober, thy body upright,
      Thy feet just together, thy hands in like plight;
      Cast not thine eyes on either side.
      When thou art praised, therein take no pride.
      In telling thy tale, neither laugh nor smile;
      Such folly forsake thou, banish and exile.
      In audible voice thy words do thou utter,
      Not high nor low, but using a measure.
      Thy words see that thou pronounce plaine,
      And that they spoken be not in vain;
      In uttering whereof keep thou an order,
      Thy matter thereby thou shalt much forder [further];
      Which order if thou do not observe,
      From the purpose needs must thou swerve,
      And hastiness of speed will cause thee to err,
      Or will thee teach to stut or stammer.
      To stut or stammer is a foul crime;
      Learn then to leave it, take warning in time;
      How evil a child it doth become,
      Thyself being judge, having wisdom;
      And sure it is taken by custom and ure [use],
      While young you be there is help and cure.
      This general rule yet take with thee,
      In speaking to any man thy head uncovered be,
      The common proverb remember ye ought,
      'Better unfed than untaught.'"

Though this may be very poor poetry, it is very good advice; and
so is this which follows, on "how to order thyself being sent of

      "If of message forth thou be sent,
      Take heed to the same, give ear diligent;
      Depart not away and being in doubt,
      Know well thy message before thou pass out;
      With possible speed then haste thee right soon,
      If need shall require it so to be done.
      After humble obeisance the message forth shew,
      Thy words well placing, in uttering but few
      As shall thy matter serve to declare.
      Thine answer made, then home again repair,
      And to thy master thereof make relation
      As then the answer shall give thee occasion.
      Neither add nor diminish anything to the same,
      Lest after it prove to thy rebuke and shame,
      But the same utter as near as thou can;
      No fault they shall find to charge thee with than [then]."


Similar counsel is added "against the horrible vice of swearing":

      "In vain take not the name of God;
      Swear not at all for fear of his rod.

             *       *       *       *       *

      Seneca doth counsel thee all swearing to refrain,
      Although great profit by it thou might gain;
      Pericles, whose words are manifest and plain,
      From swearing admonisheth thee to abstain;
      The law of God and commandment he gave
      Swearing amongst us in no wise would have.
      The counsel of philosophers I have here exprest,
      Amongst whom swearing was utterly detest;
      Much less among Christians ought it to be used,
      But utterly of them clean to be refused."

There are also admonitions "against the vice of filthy talking" and
"against the vice of lying"; and a prayer follows, "to be said when
thou goest to bed."

The rules laid down in the _Boke of Nurture_ are similar and in the
same doggerel measure. It is interesting, by the bye, to compare
the alterations in successive editions as indicating changes in the
manners and customs of the time. A single illustration must suffice.

When the first edition appeared, handkerchiefs had not come into
general use; and how to blow the nose without one was evidently
a difficulty with the writer and other early authorities on
deportment. Even in 1577, when handkerchiefs began to be common,
Rhodes says:--

      "Blow not your nose on the napkin
        Where you should wipe your hand,
      But cleanse it in your handkercher."[3]

The _Booke of Demeanor_, printed in 1619, says:--

      "Nor imitate with Socrates
        To wipe thy snivelled nose
      Upon thy cap, as he would do,
        Nor yet upon thy clothes:
      But keep it clean with handkerchief,
        Provided for the same,
      Not with thy fingers or thy sleeve,
        Therein thou art to blame."

The introduction of toothpicks, the gradual adoption of forks,
already referred to, and sundry other refinements, can be similarly
traced in these interesting hand-books.

It would appear that this _Schoole of Vertue_, or some other book
with the same title, was used in schools for boys. John Brinsley,
in his _Grammar Schoole_ of 1612 (quoted by Dr. Furnivall),
enumerates the "Bookes to be first learned of children." After
mentioning the Primer, the Psalms in metre--"because children
will learne that booke with most readinesse and delight through
the running of the metre"--and the Testament, he adds: "If any
require any other little booke meet to enter children, the
_Schoole of Vertue_ is one of the principall, and easiest for the
first enterers, being full of precepts of civilitie, and such as
children will soone learne and take a delight in, thorow [through]
the roundnesse of the metre, as was sayde before of the singing
Psalmes: and after it the _Schoole of good manners_, called _the
new Schoole of Vertue_, leading the childe as by the hand, in the
way of all good manners."


Of the indoor amusements of country people we get an idea from
Vincent's _Dialogue with an English Courtier_, published in 1586.
He says: "In foul weather we send for some honest neighbors, if
haply we be with our wives alone at home (as seldom we are) and
with them we play at Dice and Cards, sorting ourselves according
to the number of players and their skill; ... sometimes we fall to
Slide-Thrift, to Penny Prick, and in winter nights we use certain
Christmas games very proper, and of much agility; we want not also
pleasant mad-headed knaves, that be properly learned, and will read
in divers pleasant books and good authors; as Sir Guy of Warwick,
the Four Sons of Aymon, the Ship of Fools, the Hundred Merry Tales,
the Book of Riddles, and many other excellent writers both witty
and pleasant. These pretty and pithy matters do sometimes recreate
our minds, chiefly after long sitting and loss of money."

"Slide-thrift," called also "slip-groat" and "shove-groat," is
a game frequently mentioned by writers of the 16th and 17th
centuries. Strutt, in his _Sports and Pastimes of England_,
describes it thus:--

"It requires a parallelogram to be made with chalk, or by lines
cut upon the middle of a table, about twelve or fourteen inches
in breadth, and three or four feet in length: which is divided,
latitudinally, into nine sections, in every one of which is placed
a figure, in regular succession from one to nine. Each of the
players provides himself with a smooth halfpenny, which he places
upon the edge of the table, and, striking it with the palm of his
hand, drives it towards the marks; and according to the value of
the figure affixed to the partition wherein the halfpenny rests,
his game is reckoned; which generally is stated at thirty-one,
and must be made precisely: if it be exceeded, the player goes
again for nine, which must also be brought exactly or the turn is
forfeited; and if the halfpenny rests upon any of the marks that
separate the partitions, or over-passes the external boundaries,
the go is void. It is also to be observed that the players toss
up to determine which shall go first, which is certainly a great


Shovel-board, or shuffle-board, which some writers confound with
slide-thrift, was also played upon a table with coins or flat
pieces of metal; but the board was longer and the rules of the game
were different.

In _2 Henry IV._ (ii. 4. 206), when Falstaff wants Pistol put out
of the room, he says to Bardolph: "Quoit him down, Bardolph, like a
shove-groat shilling."

In _The Merry Wives of Windsor_ (i. 1. 159), Slender, when asked
if Pistol had picked his purse, replies: "Ay, by these gloves,
did he ... of seven groats in mill-sixpences and two Edward
shovel-boards, that cost me two shillings and twopence apiece."
"Edward shovel-boards" were the broad shillings of Edward VI. which
were generally used in playing the game. It has been suggested
that Slender was a fool to pay two shillings and twopence for a
shilling worn smooth; but it is possible that these old coins
commanded a premium on account of being in demand for this game.
The silver groat (fourpence) was originally used for the purpose,
but the shilling, especially of this particular coinage, came to
be preferred by players. Taylor the Water Poet makes one of these
coins say:--

      "You see my face is beardless, smooth, and plain,
      Because my sovereign was a child 't is known,
      When as he did put on the English crown;
      But had my stamp been bearded, as with hair,
      Long before this it had been worn out bare;
      For why, with me the unthrifts every day,
      With my face downward, do at shove-board play."

"Penny-prick" is described as "a game consisting of casting oblong
pieces of iron at a mark." Another writer explains it as "throwing
at halfpence placed on sticks which are called hobs." It was a
common game as early as the fifteenth century, and is reproved by a
religious writer of that period, probably because it was used for

Card-playing had become so general in the time of Henry VIII. that
a statute was enacted forbidding apprentices to use cards except
in the Christmas holidays, and then only in their masters' houses.
Many different games with cards are mentioned by writers of the
time, but few of them are described minutely enough to make it
clear how they were played.

Backgammon, or "tables," as it was called, was popular in
Shakespeare's time. He refers to it in _Love's Labour's Lost_ (v.
2. 326), where Biron, ridiculing Boyet, says:--

      "This is the ape of form, monsieur the nice,
      That, when he plays at tables, chides the dice
      In honourable terms."

"Tick-tack" was a kind of backgammon; alluded to, figuratively, in
_Measure for Measure_ (i. 2. 196): "thus foolishly lost at a game
of tick-tack."

"Tray-trip" was a game of dice, in which success depended upon
throwing a "tray" (the French _trois_, or three); mentioned
in _Twelfth Night_ (ii. 5. 207): "Shall I play my freedom at
tray-trip, and become thy bond-slave?"

"Troll-my-dames" was a game resembling the modern bagatelle. The
name is a corruption of the French _trou-madame_. It was also
known as "pigeon-holes." Dr. John Jones, in his _Ancient Baths of
Buckstone_ (1572) refers to it thus: "The ladies, gentlewomen,
wives and maids, may in one of the galleries walk; and if the
weather be not agreeable to their expectation, they may have in the
end of a bench eleven holes made, into the which to troll pummets,
or bowls of lead, big, little, or mean, or also of copper, tin,
wood, either violent or soft, after their own discretion: the
pastime _troule-in-madame_ is called."

In _The Tempest_ (v. 1. 172) Ferdinand and Miranda are represented
as playing chess; but there is no other clear allusion to the game
in Shakespeare's works. It was introduced into England before the
Norman Conquest, and became a favorite pastime with the upper
classes, but appears to have been little known among the common


Of books there were probably very few at the house in Henley
Street. Some of those mentioned by Vincent were popular with all
classes. The story of Guy of Warwick had been told repeatedly in
prose and verse from the twelfth century down to Shakespeare's
day, and some of the books and ballads would be likely to be well
known in Stratford, which, as we have seen, was in the immediate
vicinity of the hero's legendary exploits. The _Four Sons of Aymon_
was the translation of a French prose romance, the earliest form of
which dated back to songs or ballads of the 13th century. Aymon,
or Aimon, a prince of Ardennes whose history was partly imaginary,
and his sons figure in the works of Tasso and Ariosto, and other
Italian and French poets and romancers.

The _Hundred Merry Tales_ was a popular jest-book of Shakespeare's
time, to which he alludes in _Much Ado About Nothing_ (ii. 1. 134),
where Beatrice refers to what Benedick had said about her: "That
I was disdainful, and that I had my wit out of the Hundred Merry

The _Book of Riddles_ was another book mentioned by Shakespeare
in _The Merry Wives of Windsor_ (i. 1. 205), in connection with a
volume of verse which was equally popular in the Elizabethan age:--

  "_Slender._ I had rather than forty shillings, I had my book of
  Songs and Sonnets here.--

  _Enter_ Simple.

  How now, Simple! Where have you been? I must wait on myself, must
  I? You have not the Book of Riddles about you, have you?

  _Simple._ Book of Riddles? why, did you not lend it to Alice
  Shortcake upon Allhallowmas last, a fortnight afore Michaelmas?"

The title-page of one edition reads thus: "The Booke of Merry
Riddles. Together with proper Questions, and witty Proverbs to make
pleasant pastime. No lesse usefull than behoovefull for any yong
man or child, to know if he bee quick-witted, or no."

A few of the shortest riddles may be quoted as samples:--

  "_The_ li. _Riddle_.--My lovers will
                                  I am content for to fulfill;
                                  Within this rime his name is framed;
                                  Tell me then how he is named?

  _Solution._--His name is William; for in the first line is
  _will_, and in the beginning of the second line is _I am_, and
  then put them both together, and it maketh _William_.

  _The_ liv. _Riddle_.--How many calves tailes will reach to the
  skye? _Solution._--One, if it be long enough.

  _The_ lxv. _Riddle_.--What is that, round as a ball,
                                  Longer than Pauls steeple,
                                    weather-cocke, and all?

  _Solution._--It is a round bottome of thred when it is unwound.

  _The_ lxvii. _Riddle_.--What is that, that goeth thorow the wood,
  and toucheth never a twig? _Solution._--It is the blast of a
  horne, or any other noyse."

A _bottom_ of thread was a ball of it. The word occurs in _The
Taming of the Shrew_ (iv. 3. 138), where Grumio says, in the
dialogue with the Tailor: "Master, if ever I said loose-bodied
gown, sew me in the skirts of it, and beat me to death with a
bottom of brown thread; I said a gown." The verb is used in _The
Two Gentlemen of Verona_ (iii. 2. 53):--

      "Therefore, as you unwind her love from him,
      Lest it should ravel and be good to none,
      You must provide to bottom it on me."

This old meaning of _bottom_ doubtless suggested the name of Bottom
the Weaver in the _Midsummer-Night's Dream_.


If books were scarce in the homes of the common people when
Shakespeare was a boy, there was no lack of oral tales, legends,
and folk-lore for the entertainment of the family of a winter
evening. The store of this unwritten history and fiction was

In Milton's _L'Allegro_ we have a pleasant picture of a rustic
group listening to fairy stories round the evening fire:--

      "Then to the spicy nut-brown ale,
      With stories told of many a feat,
      How fairy Mab the junkets eat.
      She was pinch'd and pull'd, she said,
      And he, by Friar's lantern led,
      Tells how the drudging goblin sweat
      To earn his cream-bowl duly set,
      When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
      His shadowy flail hath thresh'd the corn
      That ten day-laborers could not end;
      Then lies him down the lubber fiend,
      And, stretch'd out all the chimney's length,
      Basks at the fire his hairy strength,
      And crop-full out of doors he flings
      Ere the first cock his matin rings.
      Thus done the tales, to bed they creep,
      By whispering winds soon lull'd asleep."

Of "fairy Mab" we have a graphic description from the merry
Mercutio in _Romeo and Juliet_ (i. 4. 53-94); and the "drudging
goblin," or Robin Goodfellow, is the Puck of the _Midsummer-Night's
Dream_, to whom the Fairy says (ii. 1. 40):--

      "Those that Hobgoblin call you and sweet Puck,
      You do their work, and they shall have good luck."

In the same scene Puck himself tells of the practical jokes he
plays upon "the wisest aunt telling the saddest tale" to a fireside
group, and of many another sportive trick with which he "frights
the maidens" and vexes the housewives.

The children had their stories to tell, like their elders; and
Shakespeare has pictured a home scene in _The Winter's Tale_ (ii.
1. 21) which may have been suggested by his own experience as a
boy. As Mr. Charles Knight asks, "may we not read for Hermione,
Mary Shakespeare, and for Mamillius, William?"

      "_Hermione._ What wisdom stirs amongst you? Come, sir, now
      I am for you again; pray you, sit by us,
      And tell 's a tale.

      _Mamillius._     Merry, or sad shall 't be?

      _Hermione._ As merry as you will.

      _Mamillius._ A sad tale 's best for winter. I have one
      Of sprites and goblins.

      _Hermione._           Let's have that, good sir.
      Come on, sit down; come on, and do your best
      To fright me with your sprites; you're powerful at it.

      _Mamillius._ There was a man--

      _Hermione._               Nay, come, sit down; then on.

      _Mamillius._ Dwelt by a churchyard:--I will tell it softly;
      Yond crickets shall not hear it.

      _Hermione._                     Come on, then,
      And give 't me in mine ear."

Just then his father, Leontes, comes in, and the tale is
interrupted, never to be resumed.

Mr. Knight assumes, with a good degree of probability, that William
had access to some of the books from which he drew material for the
story of his plays later in life, and that he may have told these
tales, whether "merry or sad," to his brothers and sisters at home.

"He had," says this genial biographer, "a copy, well thumbed from
his first reading days, of 'The Palace of Pleasure, beautified,
adorned, and well furnished with pleasant histories and excellent
novelles, selected out of divers good and commendable authors; by
William Painter, Clarke of the Ordinaunce and Armarie.' In this
book, according to the dedication of the translator to Ambrose Earl
of Warwick, was set forth 'the great valiance of noble gentlemen,
the terrible combats of courageous personages, the virtuous minds
of noble dames, the chaste hearts of constant ladies, the wonderful
patience of puissant princes, the mild sufferance of well-disposed
gentlewomen, and, in divers, the quiet bearing of adverse fortune.'
Pleasant little apothegms and short fables were there in the book;
which the brothers and sisters of William Shakespeare had heard
him tell with marvellous spirit, and they abided therefore in
their memories. There was Æsop's fable of the old lark and her
young ones, wherein 'he prettily and aptly doth premonish that
hope and confidence of things attempted by man ought to be fixed
and trusted in none other but himself.' There was the story, most
delightful to a child, of the bondman at Rome, who was brought into
the open place upon which a great multitude looked, to fight with
a lion of a marvellous bigness; and the fierce lion, when he saw
him, 'suddenly stood still, and afterwards by little and little,
in gentle sort, he came unto the man as though he had known him,'
and licked his hands and legs; and the bondman told that he had
healed in former time the wounded foot of the lion, and the beast
became his friend. These were for the younger children; but William
had now a new tale, out of the same storehouse, upon which he had
often pondered, the subject of which had shaped itself in his mind
into dialogue that almost sounded like verse in his graceful and
earnest recitation. It was a tale which Painter translated from
the French of Pierre Boisteau.... It was 'The goodly history of
the true and constant love between Romeo and Julietta.' ... From
the same collection of tales had the youth before half dramatized
the story of 'Giletta of Narbonne,' who cured the King of France
of a painful malady, and the king gave her in marriage to the
Count Beltramo, with whom she had been brought up, and her husband
despised and forsook her, but at last they were united, and lived
in great honor and felicity.

"There was another collection, too, which that youth had diligently
read,--the 'Gesta Romanorum,' translated by R. Robinson in
1577,--old legends, come down to those latter days from monkish
historians, who had embodied in their narratives all the wild
traditions of the ancient and modern world. He could tell the story
of the rich heiress who chose a husband by the machinery of a gold,
a silver, and a leaden casket; and another story of the merchant
whose inexorable creditor required the fulfilment of his bond in
cutting a pound of flesh, nearest the merchant's heart, and by the
skilful interpretation of the bond the cruel creditor was defeated.

"There was the story, too, in these legends, of the Emperor
Theodosius, who had three daughters; and those two daughters who
said they loved him more than themselves were unkind to him, but
the youngest, who only said she loved him as much as he was worthy,
succoured him in his need, and was his true daughter....

"Stories such as these, preserved amidst the wreck of time, were
to that youth like the seeds that are found in the tombs of ruined
cities, lying with the bones of forgotten generations, but which
the genial influence of nature will call into life, and they shall
become flowers, and trees, and food for man.

"But, beyond all these, our Mamillius had many a tale 'of sprites
and goblins'.... Such appearances were above nature, but the
commonest movements of the natural world had them in subjection:--

                              "'I have heard,
      The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,
      Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
      Awake the god of day; and at his warning,
      Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
      The extravagant and erring spirit hies
      To his confine.'

"Powerful they were, but yet powerless. They came for benevolent
purposes: to warn the guilty; to discover the guilt. The belief in
them was not a debasing thing. It was associated with the enduring
confidence that rested upon a world beyond this material world.
Love hoped for such visitations; it had its dreams of such--where
the loved one looked smilingly, and spoke of regions where change
and separation were not. They might be talked of, even among
children then, without terror. They lived in that corner of the
soul which had trust in angel protections, which believed in
celestial hierarchies, which listened to hear the stars moving in
harmonious music....

"William Shakespeare could also tell to his greedy listeners, how
in the old days of King Arthur

      "'The elf-queene, with her jolly compagnie,
      Danced full oft in many a grene mede.'

"Here was something in his favorite old poet for the youth to work
out into beautiful visions of a pleasant race of supernatural
beings; who lived by day in the acorn cups of Arden, and by
moonlight held their revels on the greensward of Avon-side, the
ringlets of their dance being duly seen, 'whereof the ewe not
bites'; who tasted the honey-bag of the bee, and held counsel by
the light of the glowworm; who kept the cankers from the rosebuds,
and silenced the hootings of the owl.... Some day would William
make a little play of Fairies, and Joan should be their Queen, and
he would be the King; for he had talked with the Fairies, and he
knew their language and their manners, and they were 'good people,'
and would not mind a boy's sport with them.

"But when the youth began to speak of witches there was fear and
silence. For did not his mother recollect that in the year she was
married Bishop Jewell had told the Queen that her subjects pined
away, even unto the death, and that their affliction was owing to
the increase of witches and sorcerers? Was it not known how there
were three sorts of witches,--those that can hurt and not help,
those that can help and not hurt, and those that can both help and
hurt? It was unsafe even to talk of them.

"But the youth had met with the history of the murder of Duncan
King of Scotland, in a chronicler older than Holinshed; and he told
softly, so that 'yon crickets shall not hear it,' that, as Macbeth
and Banquo journeyed from Forres, sporting by the way together,
when the warriors came in the midst of a laund, three weird sisters
suddenly appeared to them, in strange and wild apparel, resembling
creatures of an elder world, and prophesied that Macbeth should be
King of Scotland; and Macbeth from that hour desired to be king,
and so killed the good king his liege lord.

"And then the story-teller would pass on to safer matters--to
the calculations of learned men who could read the fates of
mankind in the aspects of the stars; and of those more deeply
learned, clothed in garments of white linen, who had command over
the spirits of the earth, of the water, and of the air. Some of
the children said that a horseshoe over the door, and vervain
and dill, would preserve them, as they had been told, from the
devices of sorcery. But their mother called to their mind that
there was security far more to be relied on than charms of herb or
horseshoe--that there was a Power that would preserve them from
all evil, seen or unseen, if such were His gracious will, and if
they humbly sought Him, and offered up their hearts to Him in all
love and trust. And to that Power this household then addressed
themselves; and the night was without fear, and their sleep was


In the olden time the christening of a child was an occasion of
feasting and gift-giving. It was an ancient custom for the sponsors
to make a present of silver or gilt spoons to the infant. These
were called "apostle spoons," because the end of the handle was
formed into the figure of one of the apostles. The rich or generous
gave the whole twelve; those less wealthy or liberal limited
themselves to the four evangelists; while the poor contented
themselves with the gift of a single spoon.

There is an allusion to this custom in _Henry VIII._ (v. 3.
168), where the King replies to Cranmer, who has professed to be
unworthy of being a sponsor to the baby Elizabeth, "Come, come, my
lord, you'd spare your spoons,"--a playful insinuation that the
archbishop wants to escape making a present to the child.


It is related that Shakespeare was godfather to one of Ben Jonson's
children, and said to his friend after the christening, "I' faith,
Ben, I'll e'en give him a dozen good Latin spoons, and thou shalt
translate them." That is, as Mr. Thoms explains it, "Shakespeare,
willing to show his wit, if not his wealth, gave a dozen spoons,
not of silver, but of _latten_, a name formerly used to signify a
mixed metal resembling brass, as being the most appropriate gift to
the child of a father so learned."

After baptism at the church a piece of white linen was put
upon the head of the child. This was called the "chrisom" or
"chrisom-cloth," and originally was worn seven days; but after the
Reformation it was kept on until the churching of the mother. If
the child died before the churching, it was buried with the chrisom
upon it. In parish registers such infants are often referred to
as "chrisoms." In _Henry V._ (ii. 3. 12), Dame Quickly says of
Falstaff, "A' made a finer end, and went away an it had been any
christom child"; that is, his death was like that of a young
infant. "Christom" is the old woman's blunder for "chrisom."

The "bearing-cloth" was the mantle which covered the child when
it was carried to the font. In the _Winter's Tale_ (iii. 3. 119),
the Shepherd, when he finds the infant Perdita abandoned on the
sea-shore, says to his son: "Here's a sight for thee; look thee, a
bearing-cloth for a squire's child! Look thee here; take up, take
up, boy; open 't." John Stow, writing in the closing years of the
16th century, says that at that time it was not customary "for
godfathers and godmothers generally to give plate at the baptism of
children, but only to give 'christening shirts,' with little bands
and cuffs, wrought either with silk or blue thread. The best of
them, for chief persons, were edged with a small lace of black silk
and gold, the highest price of which, for great men's children,
was seldom above a noble [a gold coin worth 6_s._ 8_d._], and the
common sort, two, three, or four, and six shillings apiece."

The "gossips' feast" (or sponsors' feast) held in honor of those
who were associated in the christening, was an ancient English
custom often mentioned by dramatists and other writers of the
Elizabethan age. In the _Comedy of Errors_ (v. 1. 405) the Abbess,
when she finds that the twin brothers Antipholus are her long-lost
sons, says to the company present:--

      "Thirty-three years have I but gone in travail
      Of you, my sons; and till this present hour
      My heavy burthen ne'er delivered.--
      The duke, my husband, and my children both,
      And you the calendars of their nativity,
      Go to a gossip's feast, and go with me;
      After so long grief, such nativity!"

And the Duke replies, "With all my heart I'll gossip at this feast."

In the _Bachelor's Banquet_ (1603) we find an allusion to these
feasts: "What cost and trouble will it be to have all things
fine against the Christening Day; what store of sugar, biscuits,
comfets, and caraways, marmalet, and marchpane, with all kinds of
sweet-suckers and superfluous banqueting stuff, with a hundred
other odd and needless trifles, which at that time must fill the
pockets of dainty dames." It would appear from this that the women
at the feast not only ate what they pleased, but carried off some
of the good things in their pockets.

A writer in 1666, alluding to this and the falling-off in the
custom of giving presents at christenings, says:--

      "Especially since gossips now
      Eat more at christenings than bestow.
      Formerly when they used to trowl
      Gilt bowls of sack, they gave the bowl--
      Two spoons at least; an use ill kept:
      'T is well now if our own be left."

He insinuates that some of the guests were as likely to steal
spoons from the table as to give gilt bowls or "apostle spoons" to
the infant.

The boy Shakespeare must have often seen this ceremony of
christening. His sister Joan was baptized when he was five years
old; his sister Anna when he was eight; his brother Richard when he
was ten; and Edmund when he was sixteen.


In the time of Shakespeare babies were supposed to be exposed to
other risks and dangers than the infantile disorders to which they
are subject. Mary Shakespeare, as she watched the cradle of the
infant William, may have been troubled by fears and anxieties that
never occur to a fond mother now.

Witches and fairies were supposed to be given to stealing beautiful
and promising children, and substituting their own ugly and
mischievous offspring. Shakespeare alludes to these "changelings,"
as they were called, in the _Midsummer-Night's Dream_ (ii. 1. 23),
where Puck says that Oberon is angry with Titania

      "Because that she as her attendant hath
      A lovely boy, stolen from an Indian king;
      She never had so sweet a changeling."

This "changeling boy" is alluded to several times afterwards in the

In the _Winter's Tale_ (iii. 3. 122), when the Shepherd finds
Perdita, he says: "It was told me I should be rich by the fairies;
this is some changeling"; and the money left with the infant he
believes to be "fairy gold." As the child is beautiful he does not
take it to be one of the ugly elves left in exchange for a stolen
babe, but a human changeling which the fairy thieves have for some
reason abandoned. If it were not for the gold left with it, he
might suppose that the stolen infant had been temporarily hidden
there. We have an allusion to such behavior on the part of the
fairies in Spenser's _Faerie Queene_ (i. 10. 65):--

      "For well I wote thou springst from ancient race
      Of Saxon kinges, that have with mightie hand,
      And many bloody battailes fought in face,
      High reard their royall throne in Britans land,
      And vanquisht them, unable to withstand:
      From thence a Faery thee unweeting reft,
      There as thou slepst in tender swadling band,
      And her base Elfin brood there for thee left:
      Such men do Chaungelings call, so chaung'd by Faeries theft.

      Thence she thee brought into this Faery lond [land],
      And in a heaped furrow did thee hyde;
      Where thee a Ploughman all unweeting fond [found],
      As he his toylesome teme that way did guyde,
      And brought thee up in a ploughmans state to byde."

In _1 Henry IV._ (i. 1. 87), the King, contrasting the gallant
Hotspur with his own profligate son, exclaims:

                        "O that it could be proved
      That some night-tripping fairy had exchang'd
      In cradle-clothes our children where they lay,
      And call'd mine Percy, his Plantagenet!
      Then would I have his Harry, and he mine."

The belief in the "evil eye" was another superstition prevalent
in Shakespeare's day, as it had been from the earliest times.
It dates back to old Greek and Roman days, being mentioned by
Theocritus, Virgil, and other classical writers. In Turkey passages
from the Koran used to be painted on the outside of houses as a
protection against this malignant influence of witches, who were
supposed to cause serious injury to human beings and animals by
merely looking at them.

Thomas Lupton, in his _Book of Notable Things_ (1586) says: "The
eyes be not only instruments of enchantment, but also the voice and
evil tongues of certain persons." Bacon, in one of his minor works,
remarks: "It seems some have been so curious as to note that the
times when the stroke or percussion of an envious eye does most
hurt are particularly when the party envied is beheld in glory and

Robert Heron, writing in 1793 of his travels in Scotland, says:
"Cattle are subject to be injured by what is called an _evil
eye_, for some persons are supposed to have naturally a blasting
power in their eyes, with which they injure whatever offends or
is hopelessly desired by them. Witches and warlocks are also much
disposed to wreak their malignity on cattle.... It is common to
bind into a cow's tail a small piece of mountain-ash wood, as a
charm against witchcraft."

As recently as August, 1839, a London newspaper reports a case in
which a woman was suspected of the evil eye by a fellow-lodger
merely because she squinted.

In this case, as in many others, the possession of the evil eye
may not have been supposed due to any evil purpose or character.
Good people might be born with this baleful influence, and might
exert it against their will or even unconsciously. It is said that
Pius IX., soon after his election as Pope, when he was perhaps
the best loved man in Italy, happened while passing through the
streets in his carriage to glance upward at an open window at which
a nurse was standing with a child. A few minutes afterward the
nurse let the child drop and it was killed. Nobody thought that the
Pope wished this, but the fancy that he had the evil eye became
universal and lasted till his death.

In the _Merry Wives of Windsor_ (v. 5. 87) Pistol says to Falstaff:
"Vile worm, thou wast o'erlook'd even in thy birth." In the
_Merchant of Venice_ (iii. 2. 15) Portia playfully refers to the
same superstition in talking with Bassanio:--

                  "Beshrew your eyes,
      They have o'erlook'd me and divided me;
      One half of me is yours, the other half yours."


Against these dangers, and many like them which it would take
an entire volume to enumerate, protection was sought by charms
and amulets. These were also supposed to prevent or cure certain
diseases. Magicians and witches employed charms to accomplish their
evil purposes; and other charms were used to thwart these purposes
by those who feared mischief from them.

In _Othello_ (i. 2. 62) Brabantio, the father of Desdemona,
suspects that the Moor has won his daughter's love by charms. He
says to Othello:--

      "O thou foul thief, where hast thou stow'd my daughter?
      Damn'd as thou art, thou hast enchanted her."

In the preceding scene, talking with Roderigo, he asks:--

                  "Is there not charms
      By which the property of youth and maidhood
      May be abused? Have you not heard, Roderigo,
      Of some such thing?"

And Roderigo replies: "Yes, sir, I have indeed." When Othello
afterward tells how he had gained the maiden's love, he says in

      "She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd,
      And I loved her that she did pity them.
      This only is the witchcraft I have used."

In the _Midsummer-Night's Dream_ (i. 1. 27) Egeus accuses Lysander
of wooing Hermia by magic arts: "This man hath bewitch'd the bosom
of my child."

In _Much Ado About Nothing_ (iii. 2. 72) Benedick, when his friends
banter him for pretending to have the toothache, replies: "Yet this
is no charm for the toothache."

John Melton, in his _Astrologaster_ (1620), says it is vulgarly
believed that "toothaches, agues, cramps, and fevers, and many
other diseases may be healed by mumbling a few strange words over
the head of the diseased."


Written charms in prose or verse--or neither, being nonsensical
combinations of words, letters, or signs--were in great favor then,
as before and since. The unmeaning word _abracadabra_ was much used
in incantations, and worn as an amulet was supposed to cure
or prevent certain ailments. It was necessary to write it in the
following form, if one would secure its full potency:--

      A B R A C A D A B R A
       A B R A C A D A B R
        A B R A C A D A B
         A B R A C A D A
          A B R A C A D
           A B R A C A
            A B R A C
             A B R A
              A B R
               A B

A manuscript in the British Museum contains this note: "Mr.
Banester saith that he healed 200 in one year of an ague by hanging
_abracadabra_ about their necks."

Thomas Lodge, in his _Incarnate Divels_ (1596) refers to written
charms thus: "Bring him but a table [tablet] of lead, with crosses
(and 'Adonai' or 'Elohim' written in it), he thinks it will heal
the ague."

Certain trees, like the elder and the ash, were supposed to furnish
valuable material for charms and amulets. A writer in 1651 says:
"The common people keep as a great secret the leaves of the elder
which they have gathered the last day of April; which to disappoint
the charms of witches they affix to their doors and windows." An
amulet against erysipelas was made of "elder on which the sun
never shined," a "piece betwixt two knots" being hung about the
patient's neck.

In a book published in 1599 it is asserted that "if one eat three
small pomegranate-flowers, they say for a whole year he shall be
safe from all manner of eye sore." According to the same authority,
"it hath been and yet is a thing which superstition hath believed,
that the body anointed with the juice of chicory is very available
to obtain the favor of great persons."

Wearing a bay-leaf was a charm against lightning. Robert Greene,
_Penelope's Web_ (1601), says: "He which weareth the bay leaf is
privileged from the prejudice of thunder." In Webster's _White
Devil_ (1612) Cornelia says:--

                    "Reach the bays:
      I'll tie a garland here about his head;
      'T will keep my boy from lightning."

Burton, in his _Anatomy of Melancholy_ (1621), remarks: "Amulets,
and things to be borne about, I find prescribed, taxed [condemned]
by some, approved by others.... I say with Renodeus, they are not
altogether to be rejected."

Reginald Scot, in his _Discoverie of Witchcraft_, published in
1584, in which he exposed and ridiculed the pretensions of witches,
magicians, and astrologers, tells an amusing story of an old woman
who cured diseases by muttering a certain form of words over the
person afflicted; for which service she always received a penny and
a loaf of bread. At length, terrified by threats of being burned as
a witch, she owned that her whole conjuration consisted in these
lines, which she repeated in a low voice near the head of the

      "Thy loaf in my hand,
        And thy penny in my purse,
      Thou art never the better,
        And I--am never the worse."

Scot was one of the few men of that age who dared to assail the
general belief in witchcraft and magic; and James I. ordered his
book to be burned by the common hangman. That monarch also wrote
his _Demonology_, as he tells us, "chiefly against the damnable
opinions of Wierus and Scot; the latter of whom is not ashamed in
public print to deny there can be such a thing as witchcraft."
Eminent divines and scientific writers joined in the attempt to
refute this bold attack upon the ignorance and superstition of the

We infer, from certain passages in the plays, that Shakespeare had
read Scot's book; and we have good reason to believe that, like
Scot, he was far enough in advance of his age to see the absurdity
of the popular faith in magic and witchcraft. In his boyhood we
may suppose that he believed in them, as his parents and everybody
in Stratford doubtless did; but when he became a man he appears
to have regarded them only as curious old folk-lore from which he
could now and then draw material for use in his plays and poems.

The illustrations here given of the vulgar superstitions of
Shakespeare's time are merely a few out of thousands equally
interesting to be found in books on the subject, or scattered
through the dramatic and other literature of the period.


[1] A _reredos_ was a kind of open hearth or brazier. _Pose_,
just below, means a cold in the head, and _quack_ a hoarseness or
croaking caused by a cold in the throat.

[2] In the original each of these lines is divided into two, thus:

      "First in the mornynge
        when thou dost awake
      To God for his grace
        thy peticion then make;" etc.

To save space, I arrange the lines as Dr. Furnivall does.

[3] The spelling _handkercher_, common in these old books, and in
the early editions of Shakespeare, indicates the pronunciation
of the time. In _As You Like It_, _The Taming of the Shrew_,
_Hamlet_, _Othello_, and other plays, _napkin_ is equivalent to
_handkerchief_. This, indeed, is the only meaning of the word in
Shakespeare, as often in other writers of the period.





The Stratford Grammar School, as we have already seen (page 38
above), was an ancient institution in Shakespeare's day, having
been originally founded in the first half of the 15th century
by the Guild, and, after the dissolution of that body, created
by royal charter, in June, 1553, "The King's New School of
Stratford-upon-Avon." The charter describes it as "a certain free
grammar school, to consist of one master and teacher, hereafter
for ever to endure." The master was to be appointed by the Earl of
Warwick, and was to receive twenty pounds a year from the income
of certain lands given by the King for that purpose. A part of the
expenses of the school is to this day paid from the same royal

The school-house stood, as it still does, close beside the Guild
Chapel, the school-rooms on the second story being originally
reached by an outside staircase, roofed with tile, which was
demolished about fifty years ago. The building was old and out
of repair in Shakespeare's boyhood. In 1568 it was partially
renovated, and while the work was going on the school was
transferred to the adjoining chapel, as it may have been under
similar circumstances on more than one former occasion. This
probably suggested Shakespeare's comparison of Malvolio to "a
pedant that keeps a school i' the church" (_Twelfth Night_, iii.
2. 80). In 1595 the holding of school in church or chapel was
forbidden by statute.


The training in an English free day-school in the time of Elizabeth
depended much on the attainments of the master, and these varied
greatly, bad teachers being the rule and good ones the exception.
"It is a general plague and complaint of the whole land," writes
Henry Peacham in the 17th century, "for, for one discreet and able
teacher, you shall find twenty ignorant and careless; who (among
so many fertile and delicate wits as England affordeth), whereas
they make one scholar, they mar ten." Roger Ascham, some years
earlier, had written in the same strain. In many towns the office
of schoolmaster was conferred on "an ancient citizen of no great
learning." Sometimes a quack conjuring doctor had the position,
like Pinch in the _Comedy of Errors_ (v. 1. 237), whom Antipholus
of Ephesus describes thus:--

                            "Along with them
      They brought one Pinch, a hungry lean-fac'd villain,
      A mere anatomy, a mountebank,
      A threadbare juggler, and a fortune-teller,
      A needy, hollow-eyed, sharp-looking wretch,
      A living dead man. This pernicious slave,
      Forsooth, took on him as a conjurer;
      And, gazing in mine eyes, feeling my pulse,
      And with no face, as 't were, out-facing me.
      Cries out, I was possess'd."

Pinch is not called a schoolmaster in the text of the play, but in
the stage-direction of the earliest edition (1623) he is described,
on his entrance, as "a schoole-master call'd Pinch."

In old times the village pedagogue often had the reputation
of being a conjurer; that is, of one who could exorcise evil
spirits--perhaps because he was the one man in the village, except
the priest, who could speak Latin, the only language supposed to be
"understanded of devils."

A certain master of St. Alban's School in the middle of the 16th
century declared that "by no entreaty would he teach any scholar
he had, further than his father had learned before them," arguing
that, if educated beyond that point, they would "prove saucy rogues
and control their fathers."

The masters of the Stratford school at the time when Shakespeare
probably attended it were university men of at least fair
scholarship and ability, as we infer from the fact that they
rapidly gained promotion in the church. Thomas Hunt, who was master
during the most important years of William's school course, became
vicar of the neighboring village of Luddington. "In the pedantic
Holofernes of _Love's Labour's Lost_, Shakespeare has carefully
portrayed the best type of the rural schoolmaster, as in Pinch he
has portrayed the worst, and the freshness and fulness of detail
imparted to the former portrait may easily lead to the conclusion
that its author was drawing upon his own experience." We need not
suppose that Holofernes is the exact counterpart of Master Hunt,
but the latter was probably, like the former, a thorough scholar.


We may imagine young William wending his way to the Grammar School
for the first time on a May morning in 1571. If he was born on the
23d of April, 1564 (or May 3d, according to our present calendar),
he had now reached the age of seven years, at which he could enter
the school. The only other requirement for admission, in the case
of a Stratford boy, was that he should be able to read; and this he
had probably learned at home with the aid of a "horn-book," such as
he afterwards referred to in _Love's Labour's Lost_ (v. 1. 49):--

      "Yes, yes; he teaches boys the horn-book.
      What is a, b, spelt backward with the horn on its head?"

This primer of our forefathers, which continued in common use in
England down to the middle of the last century at least, was a
single printed leaf, usually set in a frame of wood and covered
with a thin plate of transparent horn, from which it got its name.
There was generally a handle to hold it by, and through a hole in
the handle a cord was put by which the "book" was slung to the
girdle of the scholar.

In a book printed in 1731 we read of "a child, in a bodice coat
and leading-strings, with a horn-book tied to her side." In 1715
we find mention of the price of a horn-book as twopence; but
Shakespeare's probably cost only half as much.

The leaf had at the top the alphabet large and small, with a list
of the vowels and a string of easy monosyllables of the _ab_, _eb_,
_ib_ sort, and a copy of the Lord's Prayer. The matter varied
somewhat from time to time.

Here is an exact reproduction of the text of one specimen, from a
recent catalogue of a London antiquarian bookseller, who prices it
at twelve guineas, or a trifle more than sixty dollars. These old
horn-books are now excessively rare, having seldom survived the
wear and tear of the nursery.


  rsstuvwxyz&     aeiou


     a e i o u   |   a e i o u
  ab eb ib ob ub | ba be bi bo bu
  ac ec ic oc uc | ca ce ci co cu
  ad ed id od ud | da de di do du

  In the Name of the Father, and of the
  Son, and of the Holy Ghoſt. _Amen._

  Our Father, which art in
  Heaven, hallowed be thy
  Name; thy Kingdom come,
  thy Will be done on Earth,
  as it is in Heaven. Give us
  this Day our daily Bread; and
  forgive us our treſpaſſes, as
  we forgive them that treſpaſs
  againſt us: And lead us not
  into Temptation, but deliver
  us from Evil. _Amen._]

The alphabet was prefaced by a cross, whence it came to be called
the Christ Cross row,[4] corrupted into "criss-cross-row" or
contracted into "cross-row"; as in _Richard III._ (i. 1. 55), where
Clarence says:--

      "He harkens after prophecies and dreams,
      And from the cross-row plucks the letter G,
      And says a wizard told him that by G
      His issue disinherited should be."

Shenstone alludes to the horn-book in _The School-mistress_:--

      "Their books of stature small they take in hand,
      Which with pellucid horn secured are
      To save from fingers wet the letters fair."

Possibly, the boy William, instead of a horn-book, had an "A-B-C
book," which often contained a catechism, in addition to the
elementary reading matter. To this we have an allusion in _King
John_, i. 1. 196:--

                      "Now your traveller--
      He and his toothpick at my worship's mess,
      And when my knightly stomach is sufficed,
      Why, then I suck my teeth and catechise
      My picked man of countries: 'My dear sir,'--
      Thus, leaning on my elbow, I begin,--
      'I shall beseech you'--that is question now;
      And then comes answer like an Absey book."

"Absey" is one of many old spellings for "A-B-C"--_abece_, _apece_,
_apecy_, _apsie_, _absee_, _abcee_, _abeesee_, etc.

It was not a long walk that our seven-year-old boy had to take in
going to school. Turning the corner of Henley Street, where his
father lives (compare the map, page 42 above), he passes into the
High Street, on which (though the street changes its name twice
before we get there) the Guildhall is situated. The adjoining Guild
Chapel is separated only by a narrow lane from the "great house,"
as it was called, the handsomest in all Stratford.

The child, as he passes that grand mansion, little dreams that,
some twenty-five years later, he will buy it for his own residence.


The school-room probably looks much the same to-day as it did when
William studied there, the modern plastered ceiling which hid the
oak roof of the olden time having been removed. The wainscoted
walls, with the small windows high above the floor, are evidently
ancient. An old desk, which may have been the master's, and a few
rude forms, or benches, are now the only furniture; for the school
was long since removed to ampler and more convenient quarters.
A desk, said with no authority whatever to have been used by
Shakespeare, is preserved in the Henley Street house.

What did William study in the Grammar School? Not much except
arithmetic and Latin, with perhaps a little Greek and a mere
smattering of other branches.

His first lessons in Latin were probably from two well-known books
of the time, the _Accidence_ and the _Sententiæ Pueriles_. The
examination of Master Page by the Welsh parson and schoolmaster,
Sir Hugh Evans, in _The Merry Wives of Windsor_ (iv. 1) is taken
almost verbally from the _Accidence_. Mrs. Page, accompanied by her
son and the illiterate Dame Quickly, meets Sir Hugh in the street,
and this dialogue ensues:--

  "_Mrs. Page._ How now, Sir Hugh! no school to-day?

  _Evans._ No; master Slender is get the boys leave to play.

  _Quickly._ Blessing of his heart!

  _Mrs. Page._ Sir Hugh, my husband says, my son profits nothing in
  the world at his book. I pray you, ask him some questions in his

  _Evans._ Come hither, William; hold up your head; come.

  _Mrs. Page._ Come on, sirrah; hold up your head; answer your
  master, be not afraid.

  _Evans._ William, how many numbers is in nouns?

  _William._ Two.

  _Quickly._ Truly, I thought there had been one number more,
  because they say, 'od's nouns.

  _Evans._ Peace your tattlings!--What is _fair_, William?

  _William._ _Pulcher._

  _Quickly._ Pole-cats! there are fairer things than pole-cats,

  _Evans._ You are a very simplicity 'oman; I pray you peace.--What
  is _lapis_, William?

  _William._ A stone.

  _Evans._ And what is a stone, William?

  _William._ A pebble.

  _Evans._ No, it is _lapis_: I pray you remember in your prain.

  _William._ _Lapis._

  _Evans._ That is a good William. What is he, William, that does
  lend articles?

  _William._ Articles are borrowed of the pronoun; and be thus
  declined, _Singulariter_, _nominativo_, _hic_, _hæc_, _hoc_.

  _Evans._ _Nominativo_, _hig_, _hag_, _hog_;--pray you, mark:
  _genitivo, hujus_. Well, what is your accusative case?

  _William._ _Accusativo_, _hinc_.

  _Evans._ I pray you, have your remembrance, child; _accusativo_,
  _hung_, _hang_, _hog_.

  _Quickly._ Hang-hog is Latin for bacon, I warrant you.

  _Evans._ Leave your prabbles, 'oman.--What is the focative case,

  _William._ O!--_vocativo_, O!

  _Evans._ Remember, William; focative is _caret_.

  _Quickly._ And that's a good root.

  _Evans._ 'Oman, forbear.

  _Mrs. Page._ Peace!

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Quickly._ You do ill to teach the child such words.--He teaches
  him to hick and to hack, which they'll do fast enough of
  themselves. Fie upon you!

  _Evans._ 'Oman, art thou lunatics? hast thou no understandings
  for thy cases, and the numbers of the genders? Thou art as
  foolish Christian creatures as I would desires.

  _Mrs. Page._ Prithee, hold thy peace.

  _Evans._ Show me now, William, some declensions of your pronouns.

  _William._ Forsooth, I have forgot.

  _Evans._ It is _qui_, _quæ_, _quod_; if you forget your _quis_,
  your _quæs_, and your _quods_, you must be preeches. Go your
  ways, and play; go.

  _Mrs. Page._ He is a better scholar than I thought he was.

  _Evans._ He is a good sprag memory. Farewell, mistress Page.

  _Mrs. Page._ Adieu, good Sir Hugh."

The _Sententiæ Pueriles_ was a collection of brief sentences from
many authors, including moral and religious passages intended for
the use of the boys on Saints' days.

The Latin Grammar studied by William was certainly Lilly's, the
standard manual of the time, as long before and after. The first
edition was published in 1513, and one was issued as late as 1817,
or more than three hundred years afterward. In _The Taming of the
Shrew_ (i. 1. 167) a passage from Terence is quoted in the modified
form in which it appears in this grammar.

There are certain people, by the way, who believe that
Shakespeare's plays were written by Francis Bacon. Can we imagine
the sage of St. Albans, familiar as he was with classical
literature, going to his old Latin Grammar for a quotation from
Terence, and not to the original works of that famous playwright?

In _Love's Labour's Lost_ (iv. 2. 95) Holofernes quotes the "good
old Mantuan," as he calls him, the passage being evidently a
reminiscence of Shakespeare's schoolboy Latin. The "Mantuan" is not
Virgil, as one might at first suppose (and as Mr. Andrew Lang, who
is a good scholar, assumes in his pleasant comments on the play
in _Harper's Magazine_ for May, 1893), but Baptista Mantuanus,
or Giovanni Battista Spagnuoli (or Spagnoli), who got the name
Mantuanus from his birthplace.

He died in 1516, less than fifty years before Shakespeare was born,
and was the author of sundry _Eclogues_, which the pedants of that
day preferred to Virgil's, and which were much read in schools. The
first Eclogue begins with the passage quoted by Holofernes.

A little earlier in the same scene the old pedant gives us a
quotation from Lilly's Grammar. Other bits of Latin with which he
interlards his talk are taken, with little or no variation, from
the _Sententiæ Pueriles_ or similar Elizabethan phrase-books.


No English was taught in the Stratford school then, or for many
years after. It is only in our own day that it has begun to receive
proper attention in schools of this grade in England, or indeed in
our own country.

It is interesting, however, to know that the first English
schoolmaster to urge the study of the vernacular tongue was a
contemporary of Shakespeare. In 1561 Richard Mulcaster, who had
been educated at King's College, Cambridge, and Christ Church,
Oxford, was appointed head-master of Merchant-Taylors School in
London, which had just been founded as a feeder, or preparatory
school, for St. John's College, Oxford. In his _Elementarie_,
published in 1582, he has the following plea for the study of

"But because I take upon me in this Elementarie, besides some
friendship to secretaries for the pen, and to correctors for the
print, to direct such people as teach children to read and write
English, and the _reading_ must needs be such as the writing leads
unto, therefore, before I meddle with any particular precept, to
direct the reader, I will thoroughly rip up the whole certainty
of our English writings so far forth and with such assurance as
probability can make me, because it is a thing both proper to my
argument and profitable to my country. For our natural tongue
being as beneficial unto us for our needful delivery as any other
is to the people which use it; and having as pretty and as fair
observations in it as any other hath; and being as ready to yield
to any rule of art as any other is; why should I not take some
pains to find out the right writing of ours as other countrymen
have done to find the like in theirs? and so much the rather
because it is pretended that the writing thereof is marvellous
uncertain, and scant to be recovered from extreme confusion,
without some change of as great extremity?

"I mean therefore so to deal in it as I may wipe away that opinion
of either uncertainty for confusion or impossibility for direction,
that both the natural English may have wherein to rest, and the
desirous stranger may have whereby to learn. For the performance
whereof, and mine own better direction, I will first examine those
means whereby other tongues of most sacred antiquity have been
brought to art and form of discipline for their right writing, to
the end that, by following their way, I may hit upon their right,
and at the least by their precedent devise the like to theirs,
where the use of our tongue and the property of our dialect will
not yield flat to theirs.

"That done, I will set all the variety of our now writing, and the
uncertain force of all our letters, in as much certainty as any
writing can be, by these seven precepts:

"1. _General rule_, which concerneth the property and use of each

"2. _Proportion_, which reduceth all words of one sound to the same

"3. _Composition_, which teacheth how to write one word made of

"4. _Derivation_, which examineth the offspring of every original.

"5. _Distinction_, which bewrayeth the difference of sound and
force in letters by some written figure or accent.

"6. _Enfranchisement_, which directeth the right writing of all
incorporate foreign words.

"7. _Prerogative_, which declareth a reservation wherein common
use will continue her precedence in our English writing as she
hath done everywhere else, both for the form of the letter, in
some places, which likes the pen better; and for the difference in
writing, where some particular caveat will check a common rule.

"In all these seven I will so examine the particularities of our
tongue, as either nothing shall seem strange at all, or if anything
do seem, yet it shall not seem so strange but that either the self
same, or the very like unto it, or the more strange than it is,
shall appear to be in those things which are more familiar unto us
for extraordinary learning than required of us for our ordinary use.

"And forasmuch as the eye will help many to write right by a
seen precedent, which either cannot understand or cannot entend
to understand the reason of a rule, therefore in the end of this
treatise for right writing I purpose to set down a general table of
most English words, by way of precedent, to help such plain people
as cannot entend the understanding of a rule, which requireth both
time and conceit in perceiving, but can easily run to a general
table, which is readier to their hand. By the which table I shall
also confirm the right of my rules, that they hold throughout, and
by multitude of examples help some in precepts."

Thirty years later, in 1612, another teacher followed Mulcaster in
advocating the study of English. This was John Brinsley, who, in
_The Grammar Schoole_, writes thus:--

"There seems unto me to be a very main want in all our grammar
schools generally, or in the most of them, whereof I have heard
some great learned men to complain; that there is no care had in
respect to train up scholars so as they may be able to express
their minds purely and readily in our own tongue, and to increase
in the practice of it, as well as in the Latin and Greek; whereas
our chief endeavour should be for it, and that for these reasons:

"1. Because that language which all sorts and conditions of men
amongst us are to have most use of, both in speech and writing, is
our own native tongue.

"2. The purity and elegance of our own language is to be esteemed
a chief part of the honour of our nation, which we all ought to
advance as much as in us lieth....

"3. Because of those which are for a time trained up in schools,
there are very few which proceed in learning, in comparison of them
that follow other callings."

Among the means which he recommends "to obtain this benefit of
increasing in our English tongue as in the Latin" are "continual
practice of English grammatical translations," and "translating and
writing English, with some other school exercises."

But, as we have seen, the study of our mother tongue continued to
be generally ignored in English schools for nearly three centuries
after Mulcaster and Brinsley had thus called attention to its
educational value.


From Brinsley's book we get an idea of the daily life of a
grammar-school boy in 1612, which probably did not differ
materially from what it was in Shakespeare's boyhood.

In his chapter "Of school times, intermissions, and recreations,"
Brinsley says: "The school-time should begin at six: all who write
Latin to make their exercises which were given overnight, in that
hour before seven." To make boys punctual, "so many of them as are
there at six, to have their places as they had them by election
or the day before: all who come after six, every one to sit as he
cometh, and so to continue that day, and until he recover his place
again by the election of the form or otherwise.[5] If any cannot be
brought by this, them to be noted in the black bill by a special
mark, and feel the punishment thereof: and sometimes present
correction to be used for terror;" that is, to frighten the rest.

The school work is to go on from six in the morning as follows:
"Thus they are to continue until nine.... Then at nine to let them
to have a quarter of an hour at least, or more, for intermission,
either for breakfast, or else for the necessity of every one,
or for honest recreation, or to prepare their exercises against
the master's coming in. After, each of them to be in his place
in an instant, upon the knocking of the door or some other sign,
... so to continue until eleven of the clock, or somewhat after,
to countervail the time of the intermission at nine;" that is,
apparently, to make the morning session full five hours.

For the afternoon the schedule is as follows: "To be again all
ready and in their places at one, in an instant; to continue until
three, or half an hour after; then to have another quarter of an
hour or more, as at nine, for drinking and necessities; so to
continue till half an hour after five: thereby in that half hour
to countervail the time at three; then to end with reading a piece
of a chapter, and with singing two staves of a Psalm: lastly, with
prayer to be used by the master."

These closing exercises would fill out the time until about six
o'clock, making the school day nearly ten hours long, exclusive
of the two intermissions at nine and three and the interval of
somewhat more than an hour at noon.

It would seem that some objection had been made to the
intermissions at nine and three, on the ground that the boys then
"do nothing but play"; but Brinsley believed that the boys did
their work the better for these brief respites from it. He adds:
"It is very requisite also that they should have weekly one part of
an afternoon for recreation, as a reward of diligence, obedience,
and profiting; and that to be appointed at the master's discretion,
either the Thursday, after the usual custom, or according to the
best opportunity of the place."

The sports and recreations of the boys are to be carefully looked
after. "Clownish sports, or perilous, or yet playing for money, are
no way to be admitted."

Of the age at which boys went to school the same writer says: "For
the time of their entrance with us, in our country schools, it
is commonly about seven or eight years old: six is very soon. If
any begin so early, they are rather sent to the school to keep
them from troubling the house at home, and from danger, and shrewd
turns, than for any great hope and desire their friends have that
they should learn anything in effect."

Seven, as we have seen, was the earliest age at which boys could be
admitted to the Stratford School.


Schoolboys in that olden time appear to have been much like those
nowadays. They sometimes played truant. Jack Falstaff, in the
_First Part of Henry IV._ (ii. 4. 450) asks: "Shall the blessed
sun of heaven prove a micher and eat blackberries?" _Micher_,
_meacher_, or _moocher_ is now obsolete, though the practice it
suggests is not; but a contemporary dictionary of _Provincial Words
and Phrases_ gives this definition of the word: "_Moocher_--a
truant; a blackberry moucher. A boy who plays truant to pick

Idle pupils in those days often "made shift to escape correction"
by methods not unlike those known in our modern schools. Boys who
had faithfully prepared their lessons would "prompt" others who had
been less diligent.


One of these fellows, named Willis, born in the same year with
Shakespeare, has recorded his youthful experience at school in a
diary written later in life which is still extant. He tells how,
after being often helped in this fashion, "it fell out on a day
that one of the eldest scholars and one of the highest form fell
out with" him "upon occasion of some boys' play abroad," and
refused to "prompt" him as aforetime. He feared that he might "fall
under the rod," but, gathering his wits together, managed to recite
his lesson creditably; and "so" he says, "the evil intended to me
by my fellow-scholar turned to my great good."

How William liked going to school we do not know, but if we are
to judge from his references to schoolboys and schooldays he had
little taste for it. In _As You Like It_ (ii. 7. 145) we have the
familiar picture of

      ... "the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
      And shining morning face, creeping like snail
      Unwillingly to school;"

and in _Romeo and Juliet_ (ii. 1. 156) the significant similes:--

      "Love goes toward love as schoolboys from their books,
      But love from love, toward school with heavy looks."

Gremio, in _The Taming of the Shrew_ (iii. 2. 149), when asked if
he has come from the church, replies: "As willingly as e'er I came
from school."


Sooth to say, the schoolmasters of that time were not likely to be
remembered with much favor by their pupils in after years. There is
abundant testimony to the severity of their discipline in Ascham,
Peacham, and other writers of the 16th century.

Thomas Tusser tells of his youthful experiences at Eton in verses
that have been often quoted:

      "From Paul's I went, to Eton sent,
      To learn straightways the Latin phrase,
      When fifty-three stripes given to me
                At once I had:
      For fault but small or none at all
      It came to pass, thus beat I was.
      See, Udall, see the mercy of thee
                To me, poor lad!"

Nicholas Udall was the master of Eton at the time.

Peacham tells of one pedagogue who used to whip his boys of a cold
morning "for no other purpose than to get himself a heat." No doubt
it warmed the boys too, but it is not recorded that they liked the

Some of the grammars of the period have on the title-page the
significant woodcut of "an awful man sitting on a high chair,
pointing to a book with his right hand, but with a mighty rod in
his left." Lilly's Grammar, on the other hand, has the picture
of a huge fruit-tree, with little boys in its branches picking
the abundant fruit. I hope the urchins did not find this more
suggestive of stealing apples than of gathering the rich fruit of
the tree of knowledge.

Mr. Sidney Lee remarks: "A repulsive picture of the terrors which
the schoolhouse had for a nervous child is drawn in a 'pretie and
merry new interlude' entitled 'The Disobedient Child, compiled by
Thomas Ingeland, late student in Cambridge,' about 1560. A boy who
implores his father not to force him to go to school tells of his
companions' sufferings there--how

      "'Their tender bodies both night and day
      Are whipped and scourged, and beat like a stone,
      That from top to toe the skin is away;'

and a story is repeated of how a scholar was tormented to death by
'his bloody master.' Other accounts show that the playwright has
not gone far beyond the fact."

We will try to believe, however, that Master Hunt of Stratford was
of a milder disposition. Holofernes seems well disposed towards
his pupils, and is invited to dine with the father of one of
them; and Sir Hugh Evans, in his examination of William Page, has
a very kindly manner. It is to be noted, indeed, that in few of
Shakespeare's references to school life is there any mention of
whipping as a punishment.

Roger Ascham, in his _Scholemaster_, advocated gentler discipline
than was usual in the schools of his day. His book, indeed, owed
its origin to his interest in this matter.

In 1563, Ascham, who was then Latin Secretary to Queen Elizabeth,
was dining with Sir William Cecil (afterwards Lord Burleigh),
when the conversation turned to the subject of education, from
news of the running away of some boys from Eton, where there
was much beating. Ascham argued that young children were sooner
allured by love than driven by beating to obtain good learning.
Sir Richard Sackville, father of Thomas Sackville, said nothing at
the dinner-table, but he afterwards drew Ascham aside, agreed with
his opinions, lamented his own past loss by a harsh schoolmaster,
and said, Ascham tells us in the preface to his book: "'Seeing it
is but in vain to lament things past, and also wisdom to look to
things to come, surely, God willing, if God lend me life, I will
make this my mishap some occasion of good hap to little Robert
Sackville, my son's son. For whose bringing up I would gladly,
if it so please you, use specially your good advice. I hear say
you have a son much of his age [Ascham had three little sons];
we will deal thus together. Point you out a schoolmaster who by
your order shall teach my son's son and yours, and for all the
rest I will provide, yea, though they three do cost me a couple of
hundred pounds by year; and besides you shall find me as fast a
friend to you and yours as perchance any you have.' Which promise
the worthy gentleman surely kept with me until his dying day." The
conversation ended with a request that Ascham would "put in some
order of writing the chief points of this our talk, concerning
the right order of teaching and honesty of living, for the good
bringing up of children and young men."

Ascham accordingly wrote _The Scholemaster_, which was published in
1570 (two years after his death) by his widow, with a dedication to
Sir William Cecil.

In the very first page of the book, Ascham, referring to training
in "the making of Latins," or writing the language, says: "For the
scholar is commonly beat for the making, when the master were more
worthy to be beat for the mending or rather marring of the same;
the master many times being as ignorant as the child what to say
properly and fitly to the matter."

Again he says: "I do gladly agree with all good schoolmasters in
these points: to have children brought to good perfectness in
learning; to all honesty in manners; to have all faults rightly
amended; to have every vice severely corrected; but for the order
and way that leadeth rightly to these points we somewhat differ.
For commonly, many schoolmasters--some, as I have seen, more, as
I have heard tell--be of so crooked a nature, as, when they meet
with a hard-witted scholar, they rather break him than bow him,
rather mar him than mend him. For when the schoolmaster is angry
with some other matter, then will he soonest fall to beat his
scholar; and though he himself should be punished for his folly,
yet must he beat some scholar for his pleasure, though there be no
cause for him to do so, nor yet fault in the scholar to deserve so.
These, you will say, be fond [that is, foolish] schoolmasters, and
few they be that be found to be such. They be fond, indeed, but
surely over many such be found everywhere. But this will I say,
that even the wisest of your great beaters do as oft punish nature
as they do correct faults. Yea, many times the better nature is
sorely punished; for, if one, by quickness of wit, take his lesson
readily, another, by hardness of wit, taketh it not so speedily,
the first is always commended, the other is commonly punished;
when a wise schoolmaster should rather discreetly consider the
right disposition of both their natures, and not so much weigh what
either of them is able to do now, as what either of them is likely
to do hereafter. For this I know, not only by reading of books in
my study, but also by experience of life abroad in the world, that
those which be commonly the wisest, the best learned, and best men
also, when they be old, were never commonly the quickest of wit
when they were young."

The result of ordinary school training, with the free use of the
rod, as Ascham says, is that boys "carry commonly from the school
with them a perpetual hatred of their master and a continual
contempt for learning." He adds: "If ten gentlemen be asked why
they forget so soon in court that which they were learning so
long in school, eight of them, or let me be blamed, will lay the
fault on their ill handling by their schoolmasters." The sum of
the matter is that "learning should be taught rather by love than
fear," and "the schoolhouse should be counted a sanctuary against

But Ascham, like Mulcaster and Brinsley, was far in advance of his
age, and it is doubtful whether his wise counsel with regard to
methods of discipline met with any greater favor among teachers
than theirs concerning the importance of the study of English.


How long William remained in the Grammar School we do not know, but
probably not more than six years, or until he was thirteen. In 1577
his father was beginning to have bad luck in his business, and the
boy very likely had to be taken from school for work of some sort.

As Ben Jonson says, Shakespeare had "small Latin and less
Greek"--perhaps none--and this was probably due to his leaving the
Grammar School before the average age. However that may have been,
we may be pretty sure that all the regular schooling he ever had
was got there.


[4] Some believe it got the name from having the letters arranged
in the form of a cross, as they sometimes were; but the other
explanation seems to me the more probable.

[5] In a preceding chapter we are told that it was a rule for "all
of a form to name who is the best of their form, and who is the
best next him."





Young William may have found life at the Henley Street house and at
the Grammar School rather dull, but there was no lack of diversion
and recreation out of doors. Household comforts and attractions
were meagre enough in those days, but holidays were frequent,
and rural sports and pastimes for young and old were many and
varied. We may be sure that Shakespeare enjoyed these to the full.
His writings abound in allusions to them which were doubtless
reminiscences of his own boyhood.

Many of the children's games to which he refers are familiar to
small folk now, especially in the rural districts. Hide-and-seek,
for example--also known as "hoop-and-hide" and "harry-racket"--is
probably the play that Hamlet had in mind when he exclaimed (iv. 2.
33), "Hide, fox, and after." Blind-man's-buff is also alluded to
by Hamlet when, chiding his mother for preferring his uncle to his
father, he asks:

                        "What devil was 't
      That thus hath cozen'd you at hoodman-blind."

A dictionary of Shakespeare's time couples this name for the
pastime with the one that has survived: "The Hoodwinke play, or
hoodmanblinde, in some places called the blindmanbuf." Hamlet's
question is evidently suggested by the practice of making the
"blind man" guess whom he has caught--as Greek and Roman boys did
when they played the game.

In the grave-digging scene (v. 1. 100) Hamlet asks: "Did these
bones cost no more the breeding but to play at loggats with them?"
This refers to the throwing of _loggats_ or _loggets_--small logs,
or sticks of wood much like "Indian clubs"--at a stake, the player
coming nearest to it being the winner.

In a poem of 1611 we find loggats in a list of games with sundry
others that are still in vogue:--

      "To wrastle, play at stooleball, or to runne,
      To pich the Barre, or to shoote off a Gunne,
      To play at Loggets, Nine-holes, or Ten-pinnes;
      To try it out at Foot-ball by the shinnes."

[Illustration: HIDE-AND-SEEK]

Stool-ball, commonly played by girls and women, sometimes in
company with boys or men, is to this day a village pastime in
some parts of England. It is essentially a lighter kind of cricket,
but is more ancient than that game.

Pitching the bar was an athletic exercise still common in Scotland.
Scott alludes to it in _The Lady of the Lake_, iv. 559:--

      "Now, if thou strik'st her but one blow,
      I'll pitch thee from the cliff as far
      As ever peasant pitch'd a bar!"

And again, in the account of the sports at Stirling Castle, v.

      "Their arms the brawny yeomen bare
      To hurl the massive bar in air."

A poet of the 16th century tells us that to throw "the stone,
the bar, or the plummet" is a commendable exercise for kings and
princes; and, according to the old chroniclers, it was a favorite
diversion with Henry VIII. after his accession to the throne.

Nine-holes, a game in which nine holes were made in a board or in
the ground at which small balls were rolled, is among the rustic
sports enumerated by Drayton in the _Poly-Olbion_.

There were many ball-games besides stool-ball in the days of
Elizabeth, from the simple hand-ball, which Homer represents
the princess of Corcyra as playing with her maidens, to more
complicated exercises, among which we can recognize the germ of
the later "rounders," out of which our Yankee base-ball has been

The term _base_, as denoting a starting-point or goal, occurs
in the name of other than ball-games, especially in "prisoners'
base"--sometimes "prisoners' bars," or "prison-bars"--which was
popular long before Shakespeare was born. It is played by two
sides, who occupy opposite bases, or "homes." Any player running
out from his base is chased by the opposite party, and if caught
is made a prisoner. It belongs to a class of old games, one of the
most popular of which was called "barley-break."

Originally, this was played by three couples, male and female;
one couple was stationed in "hell" or the space between the two
goals, and tried to catch the others as they ran across. It is thus
described by Sir Philip Sidney in the _Arcadia_:--

      "Then couples three be straight allotted there;
        They of both ends the middle two do fly;
      The two that in mid-space, Hell called, were
        Must strive, with waiting foot and watching eye,
      To catch of them, and them to Hell to bear,
        That they, as well as they, may Hell supply."

Later it came to be played by any number of young people, of either
sex or both, with one person in "hell" at the start. The game was
kept up until all had been captured and brought into this Inferno.
In this form, under the name of "Lill-lill"--which was the signal
cry of the person between the goals for beginning the sport--it was
played by schoolboys in eastern Massachusetts fifty years ago.

Barley-break is often alluded to by the dramatists and lyrists
of Shakespeare's day, and complete poems were written upon it
by Suckling, Herrick, and others. Shakespeare does not mention
it, though he has several references to prisoners' base; as in
_Cymbeline_ (v. 3. 20):--

                      "lads more like to run
      The country base than to commit such slaughter."

To "bid a base," or "the base," was a common phrase for challenging
to a game of this kind, and we often find it used figuratively;
as in _Venus and Adonis_, 303, in the spirited description of
the horse, which, like many other passages, shows Shakespeare's
interest in the animal:--

      "Sometimes he scuds far off, and there he stares;
        Anon he starts at stirring of a feather;
      To bid the wind a base he now prepares,
        And whether he run or fly they know not whether,
      For through his mane and tail the high wind sings,
      Fanning the hairs, who wave like feather'd wings."

In the _Two Gentlemen of Verona_ (i. 2. 97), Lucetta says to Julia,
with a pun upon the phrase: "Indeed, I bid the base for Proteus."

Drayton, in the _Poly-Olbion_, includes this game with others that
have been described above: "At hood-wink, barley-brake, at tick
[that is, tag], or prison-base"; and Spenser in the _Shepherd's
Calendar_ (October) refers to it among rustic pastimes: "In rymes,
in ridles, and in bydding base."

Foot-ball is mentioned by Shakespeare in the _Comedy of Errors_
(ii. 1. 82), where Dromio of Ephesus says to his mistress Adriana,
who has been chiding him:--

      "Am I so round with you as you with me,
      That like a foot-ball you do spurn me thus?
      You spurn me hence, and he will spurn me hither;
      If I last in this service, you must case me in leather."

In _Lear_ (i. 4. 95), Oswald says to Kent, "I'll not be struck, my
lord!" and Kent replies, "Nor tripped neither, you base foot-ball

The game was popular with the common people of England at least as
early as the reign of Edward III., for in 1349 it was prohibited by
royal edict--not, apparently, from any particular objection to the
game in itself, but because it was believed to interfere with the
popular interest in archery.

The sport was, however, a rough one then as now. Alexander Barclay,
who died in 1552, in one of his _Eclogues_, tells how

      "The sturdie plowman, lustie, strong, and bold,
      Overcometh the winter with driving the foote-ball,
      Forgetting labour and many a grievous fall."

Edmund Waller, in the next century, writes:--

      "As when a sort [company] of lusty shepherds try
      Their force at foot-ball; care of victory
      Makes them salute so rudely breast to breast,
      That their encounter seems too rough for jest."

King James I., in his _Basilicon_--a set of rules for the nurture
and conduct of Henry, Prince of Wales, the heir-apparent to the

"Certainly bodily exercises and games are very commendable, as well
for banishing of idleness, the mother of all vice, as for making
the body able and durable for travell, which is very necessarie
for a king. But from this court I debarre all rough and violent
exercises; as the foote-ball, meeter for lameing than making able
the users thereof; likewise such tumbling tricks as only serve for
comedians and balladines [theatrical dancers] to win their bread
with; but the exercises that I would have you to use, although but
moderately, not making a craft of them, are, running, leaping,
wrestling, fencing, dancing, and playing at the caitch, or tenise,
archery, palle-malle, and such like other fair and pleasant

Burton, in his _Anatomy of Melancholy_, published in 1660, mentions
foot-ball among the "common recreations of country folks," as
distinguished from the "disports of greater men," or those higher
in rank.

In _Romeo and Juliet_ (i. 4. 41) Mercutio says to Romeo, "If thou
art Dun, we'll draw thee from the mire"--that is, of love. This is
an allusion to a rural game which seems to have been a favorite for
several centuries, and to which scores of references, literal and
figurative, are to be found in writers of all classes.

In Chaucer's _Canterbury Tales_ (16936) we read:--

      "Ther gan our hoste for to jape and play,
      And sayde, 'sires, what? Dun is in the myre;'"

Bishop Butler, more than three hundred years later, writes: "they
mean to leave reformation, like Dun in the mire."

Gifford, in his notes on Ben Jonson's _Masque of Christmas_, tells
us (in 1816) that he himself had "often played at this game." He
describes it substantially as follows: A log of wood called "Dun
the cart-horse" is brought into the middle of the room, and some
one cries, "Dun is stuck in the mire." Two of the players try, with
or without ropes, to drag it out, but, pretending to be unable
to do so, call for help. Others come forward, and make awkward
attempts to draw out the log, which they manage, if possible, to
drop upon a companion's toes, causing "much honest mirth."

It is remarkable that so simple a diversion could have been popular
with generation after generation of British young folk, and that
they should apparently recall it with so much interest in later
years. Verily, our forefathers in the old country were easily

In _Antony and Cleopatra_ (iii. 13. 91) we find an allusion to
another game equally simple--if, indeed, it be not too simple to be
called a game. Antony says:--

      "Authority melts from me; of late, when I cried 'Ho!'
      Like boys unto a muss, kings would start forth
      And cry 'Your will?'"

A "muss" was merely a scramble for small coins or other things
thrown down to be taken by those who could seize them. Ben Jonson,
in _The Magnetic Lady_ (iv. 1), says:--

      "The moneys rattle not, nor are they thrown
      To make a muss yet 'mong the gamesome suitors";

In the same author's _Bartholomew Fair_ (iv. 1), when the
costard-monger's basket of pears is overturned, Cokes begins to
scramble for them, crying, "Ods so! a muss, a muss, a muss, a

Dryden, in the prologue to _Widow Ranter_, says:--

      "Bauble and cap no sooner are thrown down
      But there's a muss of more than half the town."

This is the origin of the modern colloquial or slang use of _muss_.

"Handy-dandy" was a childish play in which something was shaken
between the two hands, and a guess made as to the hand in which
it remained. It is alluded to in _Lear_ (iv. 6. 157): "See how
yond justice rails upon yond simple thief. Hark, in thine ear:
change places; and, handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the
thief?" The game is very ancient, being mentioned by Aristotle,
Plato, and other Greek writers.

In the _Midsummer-Night's Dream_ (ii. 2. 98) Titania, lamenting the
results of the quarrel with Oberon, says:--

      "The nine men's morris is fill'd up with mud,
      And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
      For lack of tread are undistinguishable."

The "nine men's morris" was a Warwickshire game which is still kept
up among the rural population of the county. It is played on three
squares, one within another, with lines uniting the angles and the
middle of the sides; the opponents having each nine "men," which
are moved somewhat as in draughts, or checkers.

In the country the squares were often cut in the green turf, the
sides of the outer one being sometimes three or four yards long.
In towns, they were chalked upon the pavement. It was also played
indoors upon a board.

A woodcut of 1520 represents two monkeys engaged at it. It was
sometimes called "nine men's merrils," from _merelles_, the old
French name for the "men," or counters, with which it was played.

[Illustration: "MORRIS" BOARD]

The "quaint mazes" in Titania's speech, according to the best
English critics, refer to a game known as "running the figure of

Space would fail to describe other boyish games of the time, even
those mentioned in the writings of Shakespeare; and I need not say
anything of leap-frog, trundling-hoop, battledore and shuttle-cock,
seesaw--sometimes called "riding the wild mare"--tops, and many
other pastimes in perennial favor with boys.

Mulcaster, the head-master of Merchant-Taylors School in London
(see page 106 above), in a book printed in 1581, enumerates
as suitable exercises for boys: "indoors, dancing, wrestling,
fencing, the top and scourge [whip-top]; outdoor, walking, running,
leaping, swimming, riding, hunting, shooting, and playing at the
ball--hand-ball, tennis, foot-ball, arm-ball." William doubtless
had experience in most of these, swimming in the Avon among them.


The spirited description of Ferdinand swimming (_The Tempest_, ii.
1. 113-121) could have been written only by one well skilled in the

      "I saw him beat the surges under him,
      And ride upon their backs; he trod the water,
      Whose enmity he flung aside, and breasted
      The surge most swoln that met him; his bold head
      'Bove the contentious waves he kept, and oar'd
      Himself with his good arms in lusty stroke
      To the shore, that o'er his wave-worn basis bow'd,
      As stooping to relieve him. I not doubt
      He came alive to land."

There are many other allusions to swimming in the plays which
indicate the writer's personal acquaintance with the exercise; as
in _Macbeth_, i. 2. 8:--

      "As two spent swimmers that do cling together
      And choke their art."

The swimming match between Cæsar and Cassius (_Julius Cæsar_, i. 2.
100) is described with sympathetic vigor. Cassius says to Brutus:--

                        "We can both
      Endure the winter's cold as well as he.
      For once, upon a raw and gusty day,
      The troubled Tiber chafing with her shores,
      Cæsar said to me, 'Dar'st thou, Cassius, now
      Leap in with me into this angry flood,
      And swim to yonder point?' Upon the word,
      Accoutred as I was, I plunged in,
      And bade him follow; so, indeed, he did.
      The torrent roar'd, and we did buffet it
      With lusty sinews, throwing it aside
      And stemming it with hearts of controversy.
      But ere we could arrive the point propos'd,
      Cæsar cried, 'Help me, Cassius, or I sink!'
      I, as Æneas, our great ancestor,
      Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder
      The old Anchises bear, so from the waves of Tiber
      Did I the tired Cæsar."

Of course William often went a-fishing in the Avon, and understood,
as Ursula says in _Much Ado About Nothing_ (iii. 1. 26), that

      "The pleasant'st angling is to see the fish
      Cut with her golden oars the silver stream,
      And greedily devour the treacherous bait."


The boy must often have seen a bear-baiting, for the cruel sport
was popular with all classes, from sovereign to peasant. Queen
Elizabeth was fond of it, as was her sister Mary; and it was one
of the "princely pleasures" provided for the entertainment of
the former at Kenilworth in 1575, when thirteen great bears were
worried by bandogs.

On another occasion, when Elizabeth gave a splendid dinner to
the French ambassadors, she entertained them afterwards with the
baiting of bulls and bears; and she herself watched the sport till
six at night. The next day the ambassadors went to see another
exhibition of the same kind. A Danish ambassador, some years later,
was entertained by the Queen at Greenwich with a bear-baiting and
"other merry disports," as the chronicle expresses it.

[Illustration: FISHING IN THE AVON]

Elizabeth was a lover of the drama, but was unwilling that it
should interfere with these brute tragedies. In 1591, a royal edict
forbade plays to be acted on Thursdays, because bear-baiting
and similar sports had usually been practised on that day. This
order was followed by one to the same effect from the lord mayor,
who complained that "in divers places the players do use to recite
their plays to the great hurt and destruction of the game of
bear-baiting and such like pastimes, which are maintained for her
majesty's pleasure."


The clergy were as fond of these amusements as their parishioners
appear to have been. Thomas Cartwright, in a book published in
1572, says: "If there be a bear or a bull to be baited in the
afternoon, or a jackanapes to ride on horseback, the minister
hurries the service over in a shameful manner, in order to be
present at the show."

It is on record that at a certain place in Cheshire, "the town bear
having died, the corporation in 1601 gave orders to _sell their
Bible_ in order to purchase another." At another place, when a
bear was wanted for baiting at a town festival, the church-wardens
pawned the Bible from the sacred desk in order to obtain the means
of enjoying their immemorial sport.

There are many allusions to bear-baiting in Shakespeare. In
_Twelfth Night_ (i. 3. 98) Sir Andrew Aguecheek says: "I would
I had bestowed that time in the tongues [that is, the study of
languages] that I have in fencing, dancing, and bear-baiting: O,
had I but followed the arts!" In the same play (ii. 5. 9) Fabian,
referring to Malvolio, says to Sir Toby, "You know, he brought me
out of favor with my lady about a bear-baiting here"; and Fabian
replies, "To anger him we'll have the bear back again." There is a
figurative reference to the sport in this play (iii. 1. 130) where
Olivia says to the disguised Viola:--

      "Have you not set mine honour at the stake,
      And baited it with all the unmuzzled thoughts
      That tyrannous heart can think?"

In _2 Henry VI._ (v. 1. 148) we find a similar figure where York
says to Clifford:--

      "Call hither to the stake my two brave bears,
      That with the very shaking of their chains
      They may astonish these fell-lurking curs:
      Bid Salisbury and Warwick come to me."

The amusing dialogue between Slender and Anne Page, in the _Merry
Wives of Windsor_ (i. 1. 307), may be added:--

  "_Slender._ Why do your dogs bark so? be there bears i' the town?

  _Anne._ I think there are, sir, I heard them talked of.

  _Slender._ I love the sport well; but I shall as soon quarrel at
  it as any man in England.--You are afraid, if you see the bear
  loose, are you not?

  _Anne._ Ay, indeed, sir.

  _Slender._ That's meat and drink to me, now: I have seen
  Sackerson loose twenty times, and have taken him by the chain;
  but, I warrant you, the women have so cried and shriek'd at it,
  that it passed [passed description]; but women, indeed, cannot
  abide 'em; they are very ill-favoured rough things."

_Sackerson_ was a famous bear exhibited at Paris Garden, a popular
bear-garden on the Bankside in London, near the Globe Theatre. An
old epigram refers to the place and the animal thus:--

      "Publius, a student of the common law,
      To Paris-garden doth himself withdraw,
      Leaving old Ployden, Dyer, and Broke alone,
      To see old Harry Hunkes and Sacarson;"

that is, neglecting Ployden and other writers on law for the sports
at the bear-garden.

For the bear to get loose was a serious matter. We read in a diary
of 1554 that at a bear-baiting on the Bankside "the great blind
bear broke loose, and in running away he caught a servingman by the
calf of the leg and bit a great piece away," so that "within three
days after he died."

James I. prohibited baiting on Sundays, but did not otherwise
discourage it. In the time of the Commonwealth Paris Garden was
shut up, the bear was killed, and the amusement forbidden; but
with the Restoration it was revived, and continued to be popular
until the early part of the next century. In 1802 an attempt was
made in Parliament to suppress it altogether, but the House of
Commons by a majority of thirteen refused to pass the bill. It was
not until the year 1835 that baiting was finally abolished by an
act of Parliament, forbidding "the keeping of any house, pit, or
other place, for baiting or fighting any bull, bear, dog, or other


Cock-fighting was another barbarous amusement that was very early
in great favor in England. Fitz-stephen, who died in 1191, records
that in London "every year at Shrove Tuesday the schoolboys do
bring cocks to their master, and all the forenoon they delight
themselves in cock-fighting"; and it is not until the 16th century
that we find Dean Colet, the founder of St. Paul's School,
objecting to it as an amusement for the pupils.

The good lady who founded the Nottingham grammar school in 1513 was
content with restricting the sport to "twice a year."

In Scotland cock-fights were sanctioned as a school recreation
till the middle of the last century, and the master received a
fee, called "cock-penny," from the boys on the occasion. As late
as 1790, at Applecross, in Ross-shire, "the cock-fight dues" were
reckoned as a part of the schoolmaster's income.

Shakespeare has only two or three allusions to cock-fighting in
his works. Antony says of Octavius (_Antony and Cleopatra_, ii. 3.

      "His cocks do win the battle still of mine,
      When it is all to nought; and his quails ever
      Beat mine, inhoop'd, at odds."

Dr. Johnson, in a note on the passage, says: "The ancients used
to match quails as we match cocks." The birds were _inhooped_, or
confined within a circle, to keep them "up to the scratch"; or,
according to some authorities, the one that was driven out of the
hoop was considered beaten.

Hamlet, when at the point of death, exclaims:--

                            "O, I die, Horatio;
      The potent poison quite o'er-crows my spirit!"

He means that the poison triumphs over him, as a victorious cock
over his beaten antagonist.

In the _Taming of the Shrew_ (ii. 1. 228), Katharina says to
Petruchio, "You crow too like a craven." This word _craven_, which
meant a base coward, was often applied to a vanquished knight who
had not fought bravely, and hence came to be used with reference to
a beaten or cowardly cock, as it is in this passage.

Another popular diversion, especially among the boys, was
"throwing at cocks," in which the bird was tied to a stake and
sticks thrown at it until it was killed. This sport, which dates
back to the 14th century, and which was not uncommon in England
less than a hundred years ago, is said to have been peculiar to
that country.

Sir Thomas More, writing in the 16th century, tells of his own
skill in his childhood in casting a "cock-stele," that is, a stick
or cudgel to throw at a cock. The amusement was regularly practised
on Shrove Tuesday.

In some places the cock was put into an earthen vessel made for the
purpose, with only his head and tail exposed to view. The vessel
was then suspended across the street twelve or fourteen feet from
the ground, to be thrown at. The boy who broke the pot and freed
the cock from his confinement had him for a reward.

According to a popular superstition of Shakespeare's day, the cock
was supposed to be a kind of devil's messenger, from his crowing
after Peter's denial of his Master. Clergymen sometimes made this
an excuse for their enjoyment in cock-throwing.

Shakespeare makes no reference to this vulgar prejudice against
the cock. On the contrary, in a very beautiful passage in _Hamlet_
(i. 1. 158), he associates the bird with the joy and hope of

      "Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
      Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
      The bird of dawning singeth all night long;
      And then, they say, no spirit can walk abroad,
      The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike,
      No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
      So hallow'd and so gracious is the time."


When the Chief Justice says to Falstaff (_2 Henry IV._ i. 2. 255),
"Fare you well; commend me to my cousin Westmoreland," the fat
knight mutters, "If I do, fillip me with a three-man beetle." The
allusion is to a cruel sport which is said to have been common
with Warwickshire boys. A toad was put on one end of a short board
placed across a small log, and the other end was then struck with
a bat, thus throwing the creature high in the air. This was called
_filliping_ the toad. A _three-man beetle_ was a heavy rammer with
three handles used in driving piles, requiring three men to wield
it. Such a beetle would evidently be needed for filliping a weight
like Falstaff's.

Falstaff alludes to another piece of boyish cruelty to animals in
_The Merry Wives of Windsor_ (v. 1.26) when he says, after the
cudgelling he has received from Ford, "Since I plucked geese,
played truant, and whipped top, I knew not what 'twas to be beaten
till lately." The young barbarians of Shakespeare's time thought
it fine sport to pull the feathers from a live goose. If they
sometimes got whipped for it, we may suppose that it was solely
for the mischief done to private property. When their elders were
fond of bear-baiting, cock-fighting, and other brutal amusements,
the boys would hardly be punished for torturing a domestic animal
unless its value was lessened by the ill-treatment.

Whether Shakespeare in his boyhood was guilty of thoughtless
cruelty like this, as boys are apt to be even nowadays, we cannot
say; but later in life he recognized its wantonness, and more than
once reproved the brutality of children of larger growth in their
sports and amusements.

In _Lear_ (iv. 1. 38) Gloster says bitterly:--

      "As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods,
      They kill us for their sport."

In the same play (iv. 7. 36) Cordelia, referring to the unnatural
conduct of Goneril in turning her old father out of doors in the
storm, exclaims:--

                              "Mine enemy's dog,
      Though he had bit me, should have stood that night
      Against my fire!"

The poet did not forget that even an insect may suffer pain. In
_Measure for Measure_ (iii. 1. 79) Isabella says to her brother:--

                          "Darest thou die?
      The sense of death is most in apprehension;
      And the poor beetle, that we tread upon,
      In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great
      As when a giant dies."

In _As You Like It_ (ii 1. 21) the banished Duke in the Forest of
Arden laments the necessity of killing deer for food:--

      "_Duke S._ Come, shall we go and kill us venison?
      And yet it irks me, the poor dappled fools,
      Being native burghers of this desert city,
      Should in their own confines with forked heads
      Have their round haunches gor'd.

      _1 Lord._                     Indeed, my lord,
      The melancholy Jaques grieves at that,
      And, in that kind, swears you do more usurp
      Than doth your brother that hath banish'd you.
      To-day my lord of Amiens and myself
      Did steal behind him as he lay along
      Under an oak, whose antique root peeps out
      Upon the brook that brawls along this wood:
      To the which place a poor sequester'd stag,
      That from the hunters' aim had ta'en a hurt,
      Did come to languish; and, indeed, my lord,
      The wretched animal heav'd forth such groans,
      That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat
      Almost to bursting, and the big round tears
      Cours'd one another down his innocent nose
      In piteous chase: and thus the hairy fool,
      Much marked of the melancholy Jaques,
      Stood on the extremest verge of the swift brook,
      Augmenting it with tears."

The sympathy of the Duke and the First Lord for the "poor dappled
fools" is sincere, but that of Jaques, as we understand when we
come to know him better, is mere sentimental affectation. We may
be sure that the Duke rather than Jaques represents the feeling of
Shakespeare himself for the unfortunate creatures.

In another part of the same play (i. 2) the poet, through the mouth
of Touchstone, the philosophic Fool, gives a sly rap at people who
find amusement in brutal games. Le Beau, a courtier who is really
a kind-hearted fellow, as his conduct elsewhere proves, meeting
Rosalind and Celia, tells them that they have just "lost much fine
sport," that is, as he explains, some "good wrestling." They ask
him to "tell the manner of it," and he says:--

  "There comes an old man and his three sons,--three proper young
  men of excellent growth and presence. The eldest of the three
  wrestled with Charles, the duke's wrestler; which Charles in a
  moment threw him, and broke three of his ribs, that there is
  little hope of life in him: so he served the second, and so the
  third. Yonder they lie; the poor old man, their father, making
  such pitiful dole over them that all the beholders take his part
  with weeping.

  _Rosalind._ Alas!

  _Touchstone._ But what is the sport, monsieur, that the ladies
  have lost?

  _Le Beau._ Why, this that I speak of.

  _Touchstone._ Thus men may grow wiser every day! It is the first
  time that ever I heard breaking of ribs was sport for ladies.

  _Celia._ Or I, I promise thee."

Wrestling, by the bye, was a common exercise with the rural youth
in the time of Elizabeth, and no doubt the smaller boys often tried
their hand at it.


Archery was a popular pastime in those days with young and old.
The bow and arrow continued to be used in warfare long after the
discovery of gunpowder. As late as 1572 Queen Elizabeth promised to
furnish six thousand men for Charles IX. of France, half of whom
were to be archers. Ralph Smithe, a writer on Martial Discipline in
the reign of the same queen, says: "Captains and officers should
be skilful of that most noble weapon the long bow; and to see that
their soldiers, according to their draught and strength, have good
bows," etc. In the reign of Henry VIII. several laws were made
for promoting the use of the long bow. One of these required every
male subject to exercise himself in archery, and also to keep a
long bow with arrows continually in his house. Men sixty years
old, ecclesiastics, and certain justices were exempted from this
obligation. Fathers and guardians were commanded to teach the male
children the use of the long bow, and to have bows provided for
them as soon as they were seven years old; and masters were ordered
to furnish bows for their apprentices, and to compel them to learn
to shoot therewith upon holidays and at every other convenient time.

In 1545 Roger Ascham published his _Toxophilus, or the Schole of
Shooting_, in which he advocated the practice of archery among
scholars as among the people at large, and gave full directions for
making and using bows and arrows. He dedicated the book to Henry
VIII., who rewarded the patriotic service with a pension of ten
pounds a year.

Ascham urged that attention should be paid to training the young in
archery; "for children," he said, "if sufficient pains are taken
with them at the outset, may much more easily be taught to shoot
well than men," because the latter have frequently more trouble to
unlearn their bad habits than would suffice to teach them good ones.

One of the statutes of Henry VIII. forbade any person who had
reached the age of twenty-four years from shooting at a mark less
than 220 yards distant; and a writer of 1602 tells of Cornish
archers who could send an arrow to a distance of 480 yards.
Matches of archery were held under the patronage of Henry VIII.
and Elizabeth, to encourage skill in the art. At one of these,
held in London in 1583, there was a procession of three thousand
archers, each of whom had a long bow and four arrows. Nine hundred
and forty-two of the men had chains of gold about their necks. The
company was guarded by four thousand whifflers (heralds or ushers)
and billmen, besides pages and footmen. They went through the city
to Smithfield, where, after performing various evolutions, they
"shot at a target for honor."

There are many allusions to archery in Shakespeare's works, only
one or two of which can be mentioned here. In _2 Henry IV._ (iii.
2. 49) Shallow, referring to "old Double," who is dead, says of
him: "Jesu, Jesu, dead! a' drew a good bow; and dead! a' shot a
fine shoot: John O' Gaunt loved him well, and betted much money on
his head. Dead! a' would have clapped i' the clout at twelve score;
and carried you a forehand shaft at fourteen and fourteen and a
half, that it would have done a man's heart good to see."

To "clap in the clout" was to hit the _clout_, or the white mark in
the centre of the target. "Twelve score" means twelve score or two
hundred and forty _yards_; and the "fourteen" and "fourteen and a
half" also refer to scores of yards. The "forehand shaft" is among
the kinds of arrow mentioned by Ascham, who says: "the forehand
must have a big breast, to bear the great might of the bow"; that
is, the great strain in shooting at long range.

In _Much Ado About Nothing_ (i. 1. 39) Beatrice, making fun of
Benedick, says: "He set up his bills here in Messina and challenged
Cupid at the flight; and my uncle's fool, reading the challenge,
subscribed for Cupid, and challenged him at the bird-bolt"; that
is, he posted a challenge, inviting Cupid to compete with him
in shooting with the _flight_, a kind of light-feathered arrow
used for great distances. The fool subscribed (wrote underneath)
a challenge to Benedick to try his skill with the cross-bow and
_bird-bolt_, a short, thick, blunt-headed arrow used by children
and fools, who could not be trusted with pointed arrows. The point
of the joke is that Benedick, though he has the vanity to think he
can compete in feats of archery with an expert bowman like Cupid,
is only fit to contend with beginners and blunderers.

In _Loves Labour's Lost_ (iv. 3. 23) Cupid's own arrow is jocosely
called a bird-bolt. Biron, finding that the King has fallen in love
with the French Princess, exclaims, "Shot, by heaven! Proceed,
sweet Cupid; thou hast thumped him with thy bird-bolt."


Professor Baynes, in his article on Shakespeare in the
_Encyclopædia Britannica_, says: "It is clear that in his early
years the poet had some experience of hunting, hawking, coursing,
wild-duck shooting, and the like. Many of these sports were pursued
by the local gentry and the yeomen together; and the poet, as the
son of a well-connected burgess of Stratford, who had recently
been mayor of the town and possessed estates in the county, would
be well entitled to share in them, while his handsome presence and
courteous bearing would be likely to ensure him a hearty welcome."

His love for dogs and horses is illustrated by many passages in his
works. There was never a more graphic description of hounds than he
puts into the mouth of Theseus in the _Midsummer-Night's Dream_
(iv. 1. 108):--

      "_Theseus._ Go, one of you, find out the forester;
      For now our observation is perform'd:
      And since we have the vaward of the day,
      My love shall hear the music of my hounds.
      Uncouple in the western valley; let them go!--
      Despatch, I say, and find the forester.--
      We will, fair queen, up to the mountain's top,
      And mark the musical confusion
      Of hounds and echo in conjunction.

      _Hippolyta._ I was with Hercules and Cadmus once,
      When in a wood of Crete they bay'd the bear
      With hounds of Sparta: never did I hear
      Such gallant chiding: for, besides the groves,
      The skies, the fountains, every region near
      Seem'd all one mutual cry. I never heard
      So musical a discord, such sweet thunder.

      _Theseus._ My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind,
      So flew'd, so sanded, and their heads are hung
      With ears that sweep away the morning dew;
      Crook-knee'd, and dew-lapp'd like Thessalian bulls;
      Slow in pursuit, but match'd in mouth like bells
      Each under each. A cry more tuneable
      Was never holla'd to, nor cheer'd with horn,
      In Crete, in Sparta, nor in Thessaly:
      Judge when you hear."

[Illustration: GARDEN AT NEW PLACE]

The talk of the hunters about the dogs in _The Taming of the Shrew_
(ind. 1. 16) is in the same vein:--

      "_Lord._ Huntsman, I charge thee, tender well my hounds--
      Brach Merriman, the poor cur, is emboss'd--
      And couple Clowder with the deep-mouth'd brach.
      Saw'st thou not, boy, how Silver made it good
      At the hedge corner, in the coldest fault?
      I would not lose the dog for twenty pound.

      _1 Hunter._ Why, Bellman is as good as he, my lord;
      He cried upon it at the merest loss,
      And twice to-day pick'd out the dullest scent:
      Trust me, I take him for the better dog.

      _Lord._ Thou art a fool: if Echo were as fleet,
      I would esteem him worth a dozen such.
      But sup them well, and look unto them all;
      To-morrow I intend to hunt again."

In the _Merry Wives of Windsor_ (i. 1. 96) Page defends his
greyhound against the criticisms of Slender, and Shallow takes his

  "_Slender._ How does your fallow greyhound, sir? I heard say, he
  was outrun on Cotsall.

  _Page._ It could not be judged, sir.

  _Slender._ You'll not confess, you'll not confess.

  _Shallow._ That he will not.--'T is your fault, 't is your fault:
  't is a good dog.

  _Page._ A cur, sir.

  _Shallow._ Sir, he 's a good dog, and a fair dog; can there be
  more said? he is good and fair."

_Cotsall_ (or _Cotswold_) is an allusion to the Cotswold downs in
Gloucestershire, celebrated for coursing (hunting the hare), for
which their fine turf fitted them, and also for other rural sports.

The description of the horse in _Venus and Adonis_ (259), a
youthful work of Shakespeare's, is famous:--

      "But, lo, from forth a copse that neighbours by,
      A breeding jennet, lusty, young, and proud,
      Adonis' trampling courser doth espy,
      And forth she rushes, snorts, and neighs aloud;
        The strong-neck'd steed, being tied unto a tree,
        Breaketh his rein, and to her straight goes he.

      Imperiously he leaps, he neighs, he bounds,
      And now his woven girths he breaks asunder;
      The bearing earth with his hard hoof he wounds,
      Whose hollow womb resounds like heaven's thunder;
        The iron bit he crushes 'tween his teeth,
        Controlling what he was controlled with.

      His ears up-prick'd; his braided hanging mane
      Upon his compass'd crest now stand on end;
      His nostrils drink the air, and forth again,
      As from a furnace, vapours doth he send;
        His eye, which scornfully glisters like fire,
        Shows his hot courage and his high desire.

      Sometime he trots, as if he told the steps,
      With gentle majesty and modest pride;
      Anon he rears upright, curvets and leaps,
      As who should say, 'Lo! thus my strength is tried;
        And this I do to captivate the eye
        Of the fair breeder that is standing by.'

      What recketh he his rider's angry stir,
      His flattering 'Holla', or his 'Stand, I say'?
      What cares he now for curb or pricking spur,
      For rich caparisons, or trapping gay?
        He sees his love, and nothing else he sees,
        Nor nothing else with his proud sight agrees.

      Look, when a painter would surpass the life,
      In limning out a well-proportion'd steed,
      His art with nature's workmanship at strife,
      As if the dead the living should exceed;
        So did this horse excel a common one,
        In shape, in courage, colour, pace, and bone.

      Round-hoof'd, short-jointed, fetlocks shag and long,
      Broad breast, full eye, small head, and nostril wide,
      High crest, short ears, straight legs, and passing strong,
      Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide:
        Look, what a horse should have he did not lack,
        Save a proud rider on so proud a back.

      Sometime he scuds far off, and there he stares;
      Anon he starts at stirring of a feather;
      To bid the wind a base he now prepares,
      And whether he run or fly they know not whether;
        For thro' his mane and tail the high wind sings,
        Fanning the hairs, who wave like feather'd wings."

In _Richard II._ (v. 5. 72) the dialogue between the Groom and the
King could have been written only by one who knew by experience the
affection that one comes to feel for a favorite horse:--

      "_Groom._ I was a poor groom of thy stable, king,
      When thou wert king; who, travelling towards York,
      With much ado at length have gotten leave
      To look upon my sometimes royal master's face.
      O, how it yearn'd my heart, when I beheld,
      In London streets, that coronation day,
      When Bolingbroke rode on roan Barbary,
      That horse that thou so often hast bestrid,
      That horse that I so carefully have dress'd!

      _King Richard._ Rode he on Barbary? Tell me, gentle friend,
      How went he under him?

      _Groom._ So proud as if he had disdain'd the ground.

      _King Richard._ So proud that Bolingbroke was on his back!
      That jade hath eat bread from my royal hand;
      This hand hath made him proud with clapping him.
      Would he not stumble? Would he not fall down,--
      Since pride must have a fall,--and break the neck
      Of that proud man that did usurp his back?
      Forgiveness, horse! why do I rail on thee,
      Since thou, created to be awed by man,
      Wast born to bear? I was not made a horse;
      And yet I bear a burden like an ass,
      Spur-gall'd and tir'd by jauncing Bolingbroke."

The description of hare-hunting in _Venus and Adonis_ (679) must
also have been based on actual experience in the sport:--

      "And when thou hast on foot the purblind hare,
      Mark the poor wretch, to overshoot his troubles
      How he outruns the winds, and with what care
      He cranks and crosses with a thousand doubles:
        The many musits through the which he goes,
        Are like a labyrinth to amaze his foes.

      "Sometime he runs among a flock of sheep,
      To make the cunning hounds mistake their smell,
      And sometime where earth-delving conies keep,
      To stop the loud pursuers in their yell,
        And sometime sorteth with a herd of deer;
        Danger deviseth shifts, wit waits on fear:

      "For there his smell with others being mingled,
      The hot scent-snuffing hounds are driven to doubt,
      Ceasing their clamorous cry till they have singled
      With much ado the cold fault cleanly out;
        Then do they spend their mouths; Echo replies,
        As if another chase were in the skies.

      "By this, poor Wat, far off upon a hill,
      Stands on his hinder legs with listening ear,
      To hearken if his foes pursue him still:
      Anon their loud alarums he doth hear;
        And now his grief may be compared well
        To one sore sick that hears the passing-bell.

      "Then shalt thou see the dew-bedabbled wretch
      Turn, and return, indenting with the way;
      Each envious brier his weary legs doth scratch,
      Each shadow makes him stop, each murmur stay:
        For misery is trodden on by many
        And being low never reliev'd by any."

Mr. John R. Wise comments on this passage as follows: "This
description of the run is wonderfully true; how the 'dew-bedabbled
wretch' betakes herself to a flock of sheep to lead the hounds
off the scent; how she stops to listen, and again makes another
double. Mark, too, the beauty and aptness of the epithets, 'the hot
scent-snuffing' hounds, and the 'earth-delving' conies; but more
especially mark the pity that the poet feels for the poor animal,
showing that he possessed a true feeling heart, without which no
line of poetry can ever be written."


There are many allusions to fowling in Shakespeare's works. He had
evidently seen a good deal of it, probably in his boyhood, whether
he had had actual experience in it or not.

In _As You Like It_ (v. 4. 111) the Duke says of Touchstone, who
combined much philosophy with his professional foolery, "He uses
his folly like a stalking-horse, and under the presentation of that
he shoots his wit." And in _Much Ado About Nothing_ (ii. 3. 95),
when Don Pedro and his companions are talking about Benedick, whom
they know to be hid within hearing, Claudio says: "Stalk on, stalk
on; the fowl sits"; that is, go on with the practical joke, for the
victim does not suspect it.

The stalking-horse, originally, was a horse trained for the purpose
and covered with trappings, so as to conceal the sportsman from
the game. It was particularly useful to the archer by enabling him
to approach the birds, without being seen by them, near enough to
reach them with his arrows. As it was not always convenient to
use a real horse for this purpose, the fowler had recourse to an
artificial one, made of stuffed canvas and painted like a horse,
but light enough to be moved with one hand. Hence _stalking-horse_
came to be used figuratively for anything put forward to conceal
a more important object, or to mask one's real intention. Thus an
old writer describes a hypocrite as one "that makes religion his

In the _Midsummer-Night's Dream_ (iii, 2. 20) Puck, describing the
fright of the clowns when Bottom makes his appearance with the
ass's head on his shoulders, says:--

      "Anon his Thisbe must be answered,
      And forth my mimic comes. When they him spy,
      As wild geese that the creeping fowler eye,
      Or russet-pated choughs, many in sort,
      Rising and cawing at the gun's report,
      Sever themselves and madly sweep the sky,
      So at his sight away his fellows fly."

In _1 Henry IV._ (iv. 2. 21) Falstaff says that his recruits are
"such as fear the report of a caliver [musket] worse than a struck
fowl or a hurt wild-duck." And in _Much Ado_ (ii. 1. 209) Benedick
says of Claudio, who runs away from his friend's bantering: "Alas,
poor hurt fowl! now will he creep into sedges"; that is, he will go
and brood over his vexation in solitude.

In _The Tempest_ (ii. 1. 85) we have an allusion to "bat-fowling,"
a method of fowling by night in which the birds were started from
their nests and stupefied by a sudden blaze of light from torches.
Gervase Markham, a contemporary of Shakespeare, in his _Hunger's
Prevention, or the Whole Arte of Fowling_, says: "I think meet to
proceed to Bat-fowling, which is likewise a nighty taking of all
sorts of great and small birds, which rest not on the earth, but
on shrubs, tall bushes, hawthorn trees, and other trees, and may
fitly and most conveniently be used in all woody, rough, and bushy
countries, but not in the champaign," or open country. He then
goes on to explain how it is carried on. Some of the sportsmen
have torches to start the birds, while others are armed with "long
poles, very rough and bushy at the upper ends," with which they
beat down the birds bewildered by the light and capture them.


Hawking, or falconry, the art of training and flying hawks for the
purpose of catching other birds, was a sport generally limited to
the nobility; but Shakespeare's many allusions to it show that
he was very familiar with all its forms and its technicalities.
He doubtless saw a good deal of it in his boyhood rambles in the
neighborhood of Stratford.

The practice of hawking declined with the improvement in muskets,
which afforded a readier and surer method of procuring game, with
an equal degree of out-of-door exercise. As the expense of training
and keeping hawks was very great, it is no wonder that the gun
soon superseded the bird with sportsmen. The change, indeed, was
surprisingly rapid. Hentzner, in his _Itinerary_, written in 1598,
tells us that hawking was then the general sport of the English
nobility; and most of the best treatises upon this subject were
written about that time; but in the latter part of the next century
the art was almost unknown.

Shakespeare knew all the different kinds of hawks. He refers
several times to the _haggard_, or wild hawk. In _Much Ado_ (iii.
1. 36) Hero says of Beatrice:--

      "I know her spirits are as coy and wild
      As haggards of the rock."

In _The Taming of the Shrew_ (iv. 1. 196) Petruchio employs the
same figure with reference to Katharina:--

      "Another way I have to man my haggard,
      To make her come and know her keeper's call";

where _man_ means to tame. Again in the same play (iv. 2. 39) the
shrew is called "this proud disdainful haggard."


The nestling or unfledged hawk was called an _eyas_; and in
_Hamlet_ (ii. 2. 355) the boy actors, who were becoming popular
when the play was written, are sneeringly described as "an aery of
children, little eyases." In the _Merry Wives of Windsor_ (iii. 3.
22), Mrs. Ford addresses Robin, the page of Falstaff thus: "How
now, my eyas-musket! what news with you?" The eyas-musket was the
young sparrow-hawk, a small and inferior species of hawk. The word
is derived from the Latin _musca_, a fly, and probably refers to
the small size of the bird. It is curious that, as applied to the
firearm, it has the same origin. The gun was figuratively compared
to the hawk as a means of taking birds. Similarly, a kind of cannon
used in the 16th century was called a falcon; and another, of
smaller bore, was known as a _falconet_.

In _Romeo and Juliet_ (ii. 2. 160), when the lover has left his
lady and she would call him back, she says:--

      "Hist, Romeo, hist! O for a falconer's voice
      To call this tassel-gentle back again!"

The _tassel-gentle_, or _tercel-gentle_, was the male hawk.
Cotgrave, in his _French Dictionary_ (edition of 1672) defines
_tiercelet_ as "the Tassell or male of any kind of Hawk, so termed
because he is, commonly, a third part less than the female." The
_gentle_ referred to the ease with which the bird was trained.

We find the word _tercel_ in _Troilus and Cressida_ (iii. 2. 56):
"The falcon as the tercel, for all the ducks in the river"; that
is, the female bird is as good as the male.

The male bird, however, was seldom used in hawking, on account of
its inferiority in size and strength. In descriptions of the sport
we find the female pronoun generally applied to the bird. Tennyson
in _Lancelot and Elaine_ originally wrote:--

      "No surer than our falcon yesterday,
      Who lost the hern we slipt him at";

but he afterwards changed "him" to "her."

The hawk was "hooded," that is, had a hood put over its head, until
it was _slipped_, or let fly at the game; and to this we have
several allusions in Shakespeare.

In _Henry V._ (iii. 7. 121) the Constable, sneering at the Dauphin,
says of his boasted valor: "Never anybody saw it but his lackey:
't is a hooded valour; and when it appears it will bate." To _bate_,
or _bait_, was to flutter the wings, as the bird did when unhooded.
In this passage there is a pun on _bate_ in this sense and as
meaning to abate or diminish.

In _Othello_ (iii. 3. 260), when the Moor has been told by Iago
that Desdemona may be false, he says:--

                      "If I do prove her haggard,
      Though that her jesses were my dear heart-strings,
      I'd whistle her off and let her down the wind,
      To prey at fortune."

Here we have several hawking terms in a single sentence. _Haggard_,
already mentioned, is used as an adjective, meaning wild or
lawless. The _jesses_ were straps of leather or silk attached to
the foot of the hawk, by which the falconer held her. The bird was
_whistled off_ when first set free for flight; and she was always
let fly against the wind. If she flew with the wind behind her,
she seldom returned. If therefore a hawk was for any reason to be
dismissed, she was _let down the wind_, and from that time shifted
for herself and _preyed at fortune_, or at random.

The legs of the hawk were adorned with two small bells, not both of
the same sound but differing by a semitone. They were intended to
frighten the game, so that it could be more readily caught. This is
alluded to in _Lucrece_, 511:--

      "Harmless Lucretia, marking what he tells
      With trembling fear, as fowl hear falcon's bells."

Touchstone also refers to the bells in _As You Like It_ (iii.
3. 81): "As the ox hath his bow, sir, the horse his curb, and
the falcon her bells, so man hath his desires." There is another
figurative allusion to them in _3 Henry VI._ i. 1. 47, where
Warwick, boasting of his power, says:--

      "Neither the king, nor he that loves him best,
      The proudest he that holds up Lancaster,
      Dares stir a wing if Warwick shake his bells."

In England _mews_ is the name commonly given to a livery stable,
or place where carriage horses are kept. The word has a curious
connection with hawking. A bird was said to _mew_, when it moulted
or changed its feathers. When hawks were moulting they were shut
up in a cage or coop, which was called a _mew_. The royal stables
in London got the name of _mews_ because they were built where
the mews of the king's hawks had been situated. This was done in
the year 1537, the hawks being removed to another place. The word
_mews_, being thus used for the royal stables, gradually came to be
applied to other buildings of the kind.

It would take too much space to quote and explain all the allusions
to hawking in Shakespeare's works. The few here given may serve as
samples of this very interesting class of technical terms, most of
which became obsolete when the art ceased to be practised.


Before dropping the subject, however, I may remind the young reader
that many of the quotations here given to illustrate archery,
hawking, and other ancient arts, sports, and games, also illustrate
the fact that the figurative language of a period is affected by
its manners and customs. The one needs to be known in order to
understand the other. To take a fresh example, John Skelton, who
lived in the time o£ Henry VIII., refers to a lady thus:--

      "Merry Margaret,
        As midsummer flower;
      Gentle as falcon,
        Or hawk of the tower."

If we should compare a young lady nowadays to a falcon or a hawk,
she would hardly take it as a compliment; and this very simile
has been criticised by a writer who evidently did not understand
it. He says: "We would rather be excused from wedding a lady of
that ravenous class. This simile, we fear, was predictive of sharp
nails after marriage." He forgets, or does not know, that this was
written when, as we have learned, the art of hawking was in vogue.
The trained falcons were as gentle and docile as any dove. They
were domestic pets, and high-born ladies especially took delight in
them. Shakespeare in his 91st Sonnet says:--

      "Some glory in their birth, some in their skill,
      Some in their wealth, some in their bodies' force,
      Some in their garments, though new-fangled ill,
      Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse.

             *       *       *       *       *

      Thy love is better than high birth to me,
      Richer than wealth, prouder than garments' cost,
      Of more delight than hawks or horses be,
      And, having thee, of all men's pride I boast."

And in _Much Ado_ (iii. 4. 54) when Beatrice sighs, Margaret asks:
"For a hawk, a horse, or a husband?"

Commentators on Shakespeare, like the critic quoted above, have
sometimes erred in their interpretation of a passage because
they did not understand the fact or usage upon which a figure or
allusion was founded.


When the players came to town I suspect that no Stratford boy was
more delighted than William. John Shakespeare, like his fellows
in the town council, seems to have been a lover of the drama. When
he was bailiff in 1569 he granted licenses for performances of the
Queen's and the Earl of Worcester's companies.


The Queen's company received nine shillings and the Earl's
twelvepence for their first entertainments, to which the public
were admitted free. They doubtless gave others afterwards for which
an entrance fee was charged.

Did John Shakespeare take the five-year-old William to see
them act? He may have done so, for we know that in the city of
Gloucester (only thirty miles from Stratford) a man took his
little boy, born in the same year with Shakespeare, to a free
dramatic performance similarly provided by the corporation. In his
autobiography, written in his old age, the person tells how he went
to the show with his father and stood between his legs as he sat
upon one of the benches.

The play was one of the "moralities" then in vogue, and the good
man's quaint description of it is worth quoting as giving an idea
of those curious dramas:--

"It was called The Cradle of Security, wherein was personated a
king or some great prince, with his courtiers of several kinds,
amongst which three ladies were in special grace with him; and
they, keeping him in delights and pleasures, drew him from his
graver counsellors, ... that, in the end, they got him to lie down
in a cradle upon the stage, where these three ladies, joining in
a sweet song, rocked him asleep that he snorted again; and in the
mean time closely [that is, secretly] conveyed under the clothes
wherewithal he was covered a vizard, like a swine's snout, upon
his face, with three wire chains fastened thereunto, the other end
whereof being holden severally by those three ladies, who fall to
singing again, and then discovered [uncovered] his face that the
spectators might see how they had transformed him, going on with
their singing.

"Whilst all this was acting, there came forth of another door at
the farthest end of the stage two old men, the one in blue with a
sergeant-at-arms his mace on his shoulder, the other in red with
a drawn sword in his hand and leaning with the other hand upon
the other's shoulder; and so they two went along in a soft pace
round about by the skirt of the stage, till at last they came to
the cradle, when all the court was in the greatest jollity; and
then the foremost old man with his mace struck a fearful blow
upon the cradle, whereat all the courtiers, with the three ladies
and the vizard, all vanished; and the desolate prince starting up
bare-faced, and finding himself thus sent for to judgment, made a
lamentable complaint of his miserable case, and so was carried away
by wicked spirits.

"This prince did personate in the moral the Wicked of the World;
the three ladies, Pride, Covetousness, and Luxury [Lust]; the two
old men, the End of the World and the Last Judgment.

"This sight took such impression in me that, when I came towards
man's estate, it was as fresh in my memory as if I had seen it
newly acted."

So far as the Stratford records show, the theatrical company of
1569 was the first that had visited the town, but afterwards
players came thither almost every year.

How much they had to do in awakening a passion for the drama in
the breast of young William and shaping his subsequent career,
we cannot guess; but "the boy is father of the man," and in all
that we know of Shakespeare as a boy we can detect the germinal
influences of many characteristics of the man, the poet, and the




[Illustration: THE BOUNDARY ELM]


We do not know the precise date of William Shakespeare's birth.
That of his baptism is recorded in the parish register at Stratford
as the 26th of April, 1564. It was a common practice then to
baptize infants when they were three days old, and it has therefore
been assumed that William was born on the 23d of April; but the
rule, if rule it can be called, was often varied from, and we have
not a particle of evidence that it was followed in this instance.
It should, moreover, be understood that the 23d of April, as dates
were then reckoned in England, corresponded to our 3d of May.

It would be pleasant to think that the poet made his first
appearance on the stage of human life on that particular day, for
it was Saint George's day, a great holiday and time of feasting
throughout the kingdom, Saint George being the patron saint of

There is a book with which Shakespeare was doubtless familiar
when he grew up--a collection of ancient stories made by Richard
Johnson--in which Saint George figures as one of the "Seven
Champions of Christendom."

From this book, as Mr. A. H. Wall tells us, we learn "how Saint
George was imprisoned by the black King of Morocco, after he had
fought so miraculously against the Saracens, and slain a frightful
dragon, which had destroyed entire cities by the poison of its
breath, and had every day devoured a beautiful virgin. Escaping
from prison, he carried off a princess he had rescued from the
monster, whom neither sword nor spear could pierce, and brought
her to England, where the twain 'lived happily ever after,' in
Warwickshire, where, sometime in the third century they died.
The war-cry of England was 'Saint George!' as that of France
was 'Montjoye Saint Denis!'; and to this day 'by George!' is an
exclamation derived from the ancient custom of swearing by that

"The ancient ballad of Saint George and the Dragon (printed in
the Percy _Reliques_) tells us that the shire in which he died
was that in which he first saw the light; that his mother expired
while giving him birth; that a weird lady of the woods stole him
when an infant and educated him by magic power to become a great
warrior; and that on his person, prophetic of his future career
and greatness, were three very mysterious marks--on one shoulder a
cross, on the breast a dragon, and round one leg a garter. Their
meanings were revealed when he fought so astoundingly as a crusader
in the Holy Land, when he killed the magic dragon in Egypt, and
rescued the King's daughter, Silene or Sabra, and, after his death,
when Edward III. founded the knightly Order of the Garter, and made
Saint George its patron.

"Centuries before that, the soldiers had adopted him as their
special patron, as had also not a few of the old trade guilds.
In some of the provincial towns and cities regulations for the
annual ceremony of 'Riding the George' were enforced by penalties
more or less severe. An ancestor of Shakespeare's, John Arden, of
Warwickshire, 'bequethed his white harneis complete to the church
of Ashton for a George to were it.' This was in the reign of the
seventh Harry.... There was also an ancient play called 'The Holy
Martyr St. George,' which, sadly degenerated in modern times, used
to be played by rustics as a piece of coarse buffoonery."

The "Riding of Saint George" was forbidden by Henry VIII., but the
custom was nevertheless kept up in out-of-the-way places even after
Edward VI. had made more stringent laws against it.

It appears from the ancient records of the Guild that Stratford was
one of the very last places in which the celebration was finally
suppressed. Shakespeare in his boyhood doubtless saw it carried
out with all its antique splendor. Mr. Wall gives the following
description of the festival:--

"How great would be the preparations! Old arms and armor from the
Guild's collection would be burnished up to be used by the town
watch and the archers. All sorts of choice dishes and rare wines
would be in demand for mighty feasting. The suit of white armor,
of an antique pattern, which hung above the altar of Saint George,
would be taken down and cleaned with reverential care, and from all
the surrounding towns and villages, castles and mansions, guests
would come flocking in, day after day, filling the numerous inns to

"On _the_ day, gravel would be spread along the procession's route,
and barricades erected; house fronts would be adorned with plants
and tapestry. Chambers (small cannon) would be fired at daybreak,
and great shouts of 'Saint George!' would drown the echoes of their
explosions. The Master of the Guild, its schoolmaster (a truly
learned man), with the monitors and scholars of the Grammar School
in their long blue gowns and flat caps, with the priests of the
Guild Chapel, would all walk in the procession, with their Guild
brothers and sisters, with representatives of the trades practised
in the town, and even with the old Almshouse people, smiling
and chattering and wagging their ancient heads. Nobody would be
forgotten who had a fair claim to be conspicuously remembered
then. The 'Bedals' would be there of course in all their native
dignity, solemn and severe. The town 'waits' would 'discourse most
excellent music' with drums and fifes and other cheek-distending
wind-instruments. The bells in the church and chapel tower would be
ringing out right jovial peals. Then would come the town trumpeters
marching before the High Bailiff, Aldermen, and Chamberlains, with
their long furred scarlet robes, their chains of office, and the
newly-gilded maces borne before them.

"Then, riding on horseback, his armor and drawn sword flashing back
the rays of a fitful sun, would be seen the living representative
of Saint George, with his great white plume floating from his
white helm, as the soft, sweet, playing wind tossed it to and fro.
Behind him, creating as he came such a roar of honest irrepressible
laughter as would have done your heart good to hear, would waddle
the dragon (oh! such a dragon!) a 'property' one, with two boys
inside it, led in chains, with the spear of Saint George down its
throat. And then the vicar, his curates, and the gentry, in all
the grandeur of silk and satin lace and spangles, would do the
'Riding' honor, with gold and silver chains about their necks,
spurs at their heels, and swords by their sides, the Lord and Lady
of the Manor riding before them. And these last-named were indeed
dignitaries of great consequence, being, you must know, no lesser
personages than Ambrose Dudley, 'the Good Earl' and his good lady,
patrons of learning and rewarders of virtue, from their great
castle at Warwick.

"But there is one feature of the Riding which must not on any
account be forgotten. This was the Egyptian Princess, personated
by the prettiest girl in Stratford (where pretty girls were always
found, and are still not few). She came on a raised wheeled
platform with a golden crown upon her head (made of gilded
pasteboard), and by her side a pretty pet lamb, garlanded with the
earliest flowers of the spring, blushing (she, not the lamb) and
smiling, and looking down very charming--as I tenderly imagine.

"And all the time they were passing, the bells would ring out
right merrily, and the people shout most lustily; and from every
throat, blending thunderously, would come the cry, the cry that
England's foes had trembled at in many a desperate fight: 'Saint
George for England, Saint George for Merry England!'

"It was customary to announce this Riding by sound of trumpet from
the Market Cross some time before it took place. And so I can fancy
John Shakespeare, the glover, with all his clever work-people, men
and women, artists and mechanics, joining the crowd that listens
to the town trumpeter's loud-ringing voice here at the Cross, and
opposite the Cage, where once lived Judith Shakespeare. By John,
stands--in my fancy--Mary, his wife, with little Willie holding
tightly to her hand, in a state of intense excitement; and almost
before the crier has spoken his lines this laughing little fellow,
who has been looking on with such wide-open wondering brown eyes,
is suddenly lifted into the air and from above his father's head
cries, in his childishly treble voice, 'Saint George for England!'
for his mother had said, ''T is his right to lead the shouting here
to-day, dear neighbors all, for on Saint George's day my boy was


The festival of Easter would generally come before Saint George's
day. When Shakespeare was a boy the Reformation had somewhat
mitigated the ancient rigor and austerity of Lent, but Easter was
none the less a joyous and jubilant anniversary.

"Surely," as Mr. Charles Knight remarks, "there was something
exquisitely beautiful in the old custom of going forth into the
fields before the sun had risen on Easter-day, to see him mounting
over the hills with a tremulous motion, as if it were an animate
thing bounding in sympathy with the redeemed of mankind. The young
poet [Shakespeare] might have joined his simple neighbors on this
cheerful morning, and yet have thought with Sir Thomas Browne, 'We
shall not, I hope, disparage the Resurrection of our Redeemer if we
say that the sun doth _not_ dance on Easter-day.' But one of the
most glorious images of one of his early plays [_Romeo and Juliet_]
has given life and movement to the sun:--

      "'Night's candles are burnt out, and _jocund_ Day
      Stands _tiptoe_ on the misty mountain's tops.'

Saw he not the sun dance--heard he not the expression of the
undoubting belief that the sun danced--as he went forth into
Stratford meadows in the early twilight of Easter-day?"

Sir John Suckling, in his _Ballad upon a Wedding_, alludes prettily
to this old superstition in the description of the bride:--

      "But O she dances such a way!
      No sun upon an Easter day
        Is half so fine a sight."

Perhaps Shakespeare had this bit of folk-lore in mind when he wrote
these lines in _Coriolanus_ (v. 4. 52):--

      "The trumpets, sackbuts, psalteries and fifes,
      Tabors and cymbals and the shouting Romans,
      Make the sun dance."

Easter was a favorite time for games of ball and many of the
athletic sports described in the preceding pages.


On the road to Henley-in-Arden, a few hundred yards from John
Shakespeare's house in Henley Street, there stood until about fifty
years ago an ancient boundary-tree--an elm to which reference is
made in records of the 16th century. From that point the boundary
of the borough continued to "the two elms in Evesham highway"; and
so on, from point to point, round to the tree first mentioned. Once
a year, in Rogation Week (six weeks after Easter), the clergy, the
magistrates and public officers, and the inhabitants, including
the boys of the Grammar School, assembled under this elm for the
perambulation of the boundaries. They marched in procession, with
waving banners and poles crowned with garlands, over the entire
circuit of the parish limits. Under each "gospel-tree," as at the
first boundary elm, a passage from Scripture was read, a collect
recited, and a psalm sung.

These parochial processions were kept up after the Reformation.
In 1575 a form of devotion for the "Rogation Days of Procession"
was prescribed, "without addition of any superstitious ceremonies
heretofore used"; and it was subsequently ordered that the curate
on such occasions "shall admonish the people to give thanks to God
in the beholding of God's benefits," and enforce the scriptural
denunciations against those who remove their neighbors' landmarks.
Izaak Walton tells how the pious Hooker encouraged these annual
ceremonies: "He would by no means omit the customary time of
procession, persuading all, both rich and poor, if they desired
the preservation of love and their parish rights and liberties,
to accompany him in his perambulation; and most did so: in which
perambulation he would usually express more pleasant discourse
than at other times, and would then always drop some loving and
facetious observations, to be remembered against the next year,
especially by the boys and young people; still inclining them, and
all his present parishioners, to meekness and mutual kindnesses
and love, because love thinks not evil, but covers a multitude of

"And so," remarks Mr. Knight, after quoting this passage,
"listening to the gentle words of some venerable Hooker of
his time, would the young Shakespeare walk the bounds of his
native parish. One day would not suffice to visit its numerous
gospel-trees. Hours would be spent in reconciling differences among
the cultivators of the common fields; in largesses to the poor; in
merry-making at convenient halting-places. A wide parish is this
of Stratford, including eleven villages and hamlets. A district of
beautiful and varied scenery is this parish--hill and valley, wood
and water.... For nearly three miles from Welcombe Greenhill the
boundary lies along a wooded ridge, opening prospects of surpassing
beauty. There may the distant spires of Coventry be seen peeping
above the intermediate hills, and the nearer towers of Warwick
lying cradled in their surrounding woods.... At the northern
extremity of the high land, which principally belongs to the estate
of Clopton, and which was doubtless a park in early times, we have
a panoramic view of the valley in which Stratford lies, with its
hamlets of Bishopton, Little Wilmecote, Shottery, and Drayton. As
the marvellous boy of the Stratford Grammar School then looked
upon that plain, how little could he have foreseen the course of
his future life! For twenty years of his manhood he was to have no
constant dwelling-place in that his native town; but it was to be
the home of his affections. He would be gathering fame and opulence
in an almost untrodden path, of which his young ambition could
shape no definite image; but in the prime of his life he was to
bring his wealth to his own Stratford, and become the proprietor
and the contented cultivator of the loved fields that he now saw
mapped out at his feet. Then, a little while, and an early tomb
under that grey tower--a tomb so to be honored in all ages to come

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


The first of May was in the olden time one of the most delightful
of holidays; but its harmless sports were an abomination in the
eyes of the Puritans. Philip Stubbes, in his _Anatomie of Abuses_
(1583) says: "Against May, every parish, town, and village assemble
themselves together, both men, women, and children, old and
young, even all indifferently: and either going all together, or
dividing themselves into companies, they go, some to the woods and
groves, some to the hills and mountains, some to one place, some
to another, where they spend all the night in pastimes; and in the
morning they return, bringing with them birch boughs and branches
of trees to deck their assemblies withal.... But their chiefest
jewel they bring from thence is their _May pole_, which they bring
home with great veneration, as thus:--They have twenty or forty
yoke of oxen, every ox having a sweet nosegay of flowers tied on
the tip of his horns, and these oxen draw home this May pole, which
is covered all over with flowers and herbs, bound round about with
strings, from the top to the bottom, and sometime painted with
variable colors, with two or three hundred men, women, and children
following it, with great devotion. And thus being reared up, with
handkerchiefs and flags streaming on the top, they strew the ground
about, bind green boughs about it, set up summer halls, bowers, and
arbors hard by it. And then fall they to banquet and feast, to leap
and dance about it, as the heathen people did at the dedication of
their idols, whereof this is a perfect pattern, or rather the thing

Milton, though a Puritan, writes in a different vein in his _Song
on May Morning_:--

      "Now the bright morning-star, day's harbinger,
      Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her
      The flowery May, who from her green lap throws
      The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.
        Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire
        Mirth and youth and warm desire!
        Woods and groves are of thy dressing,
        Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
      Thus we salute thee with our early song,
      And welcome thee, and wish thee long."

Kings and queens did not disdain to join in these rural sports.
Henry VIII. and Queen Katherine enjoyed them; and he, in the
early part of his reign, rose on May Day very early and went with
his courtiers to the wood to "fetch May," or green boughs. In the
_Midsummer-Night's Dream_ (iv. 1.) Theseus, Hippolyta, and their
train are in the wood in "the vaward of the day," and find the
pairs of lovers sleeping under the influence of Puck's magic; and
Theseus says:--

      "No doubt they rose up early to observe
      The rite of May, and, hearing our intent,
      Came here in grace of our solemnity."

The boys and girls, as the sour Stubbes has told us, were not slack
to observe this rite of May. In a manuscript in the British Museum,
entitled _The State of Eton School_, and dated 1560, we read that
"on the day of Saint Philip and Saint James [May 1st], if it be
fair weather, and the master grants leave, those boys who choose
it may rise at four o'clock, to gather May branches, if they can
do it without wetting their feet: and that on that day they adorn
the windows of the bedchamber with green leaves, and the houses are
perfumed with fragrant herbs."

The May-pole was often kept standing from year to year on the
village green or in some public place in town or city, and in
such cases was usually painted with various colors. One described
by Tollet was "painted yellow and black in spiral lines." In the
_Midsummer-Night's Dream_ (iii. 2. 296), Hermia sneers at the
taller Helena as a "painted May-pole."

[Illustration: MORRIS-DANCE]

In _Henry VIII._ (v. 4. 15) when the Porter is angry at the crowds
that have made their way into the palace yard, and calls for "a
dozen crab-tree staves" to drive them out, a man says to him:--

      "Pray, sir, be patient: 't is as much impossible--
      Unless we sweep 'em from the door with cannons--
      To scatter 'em, as 't is to make 'em sleep
      On May-day morning; which will never be."

Of course the day was a holiday in the Stratford school, and we may
be sure that William made the most of it.

An important feature in the May-day games in Shakespeare's time was
the _Morris-Dance_, in which a group of characters associated with
the stories of Robin Hood were the chief actors. These were Robin
himself; his faithful companion, Little John; Friar Tuck, to whom
Drayton alludes as

      "Tuck the merry friar which many a sermon made
      In praise of Robin Hood, his outlaws and their trade;"

Maid Marian, the mistress of Robin; the Fool, who was like the
domestic buffoon of the time, with motley dress, the cap and bells,
and additional bells tied to his arms and ankles; the Piper,
sometimes called Tom Piper, the musician of the troop; and the
Hobby-horse, represented by a man equipped with a pasteboard frame
forming the head and hinder parts of a horse, with a long mantle or
footcloth reaching nearly to the ground, to hide the man's legs;
and the Dragon, another pasteboard device, much like the one in
the Riding of Saint George described above (page 169). In addition
to these characters there were a number of common dancers, in
fantastic costume, with bells about their feet.

The forms and number of the characters varied much with time and
place. Sometimes only one or two of those just mentioned were
introduced in the dance, and sometimes others were added.

During the reign of Elizabeth the Puritans, by their sermons
and invectives, did much to interfere with this feature of the
May-day games. Friar Tuck was deemed a remnant of Popery, and
the Hobby-horse an impious superstition. The opposition to them
became so bitter that they were generally omitted from the sport.
Allusions to the omission of the Hobby-horse are frequent in the
plays of the time; as in _Love's Labour's Lost_ (iii. 1. 30): "The
hobby-horse is forgot;" and _Hamlet_ (iii. 2. 142): "or else he
shall suffer not thinking on, with the hobby-horse, whose epitaph
is, 'For, O, for, O, the hobby-horse is forgot.'" This "epitaph"
(which is also referred to in _Love's Labour's Lost_) appears to be
a quotation from some popular song of the time. So in Beaumont and
Fletcher's _Women Pleased_ (iv. 1.) we find: "Shall the hobby-horse
be forgot then?" and in Ben Jonson's _Entertainment at Althorp_:
"But see, the hobby-horse is forgot."

Friar Tuck is alluded to by Shakespeare in _The Two Gentlemen of
Verona_ (iv. 1. 36), where one of the Outlaws who have seized
Valentine exclaims:--

      "By the bare scalp of Robin Hood's fat friar,
      This fellow were a king for our wild faction!"

That he kept his place in the morris-dance in the reign of
Elizabeth is evident from Warner's _Albion's England_, published in
1586: "Tho' Robin Hood, little John, friar Tuck, and Marian deftly
play"; but he is not heard of afterwards. In Ben Jonson's _Masque
of the Gipsies_, written about 1620, the Clown notes his absence
from the dance: "There is no Maid Marian nor Friar amongst them."

Maid Marian also officiated as the Queen or Lady of the May, who
had figured in the May-day festivities long before Robin Hood was
introduced into them. She was probably at first the representative
of the goddess Flora in the ancient Roman festival celebrated at
the same season of the year.

Maid Marian was sometimes personated by a young woman, but
oftener by a boy or young man in feminine dress. Later, when the
morris-dance had degenerated into coarse foolery, the part was
taken by a clown. In _1 Henry IV._ (iii. 3. 129), Falstaff refers
contemptuously to "Maid Marian" as a low character, which she had
doubtless become by the time (1596 or 1597) when that play was

The connection of the morris-dance with May-day is alluded to in
_All's Well that Ends Well_ (ii. 2. 25): "as fit ... as a morris
for May-day"; but it came to be a feature of many other holidays
and festivals, and was often one of the sports introduced to amuse
the crowd at fairs and similar gatherings.

Mr. Knight gives us this fancy picture of the May-day games as they
probably were in Shakespeare's boyhood:--

  "An impatient group is gathered under the shade of the old elms,
  for the morning sun casts his slanting beams dazzlingly across
  the green. There is the distant sound of tabor and bagpipe:--

      "'Hark, hark! I hear the dancing,
      And a nimble morris prancing;
      The bagpipe and the morris bells
      That they are not far hence us tells.'

  From out of the leafy Arden are they bringing in the May-pole.
  The oxen move slowly with the ponderous wain; they are garlanded,
  but not for the sacrifice. Around the spoil of the forest are the
  pipers and the dancers--maidens in blue kirtles, and foresters
  in green tunics. Amidst the shouts of young and old, childhood
  leaping and clapping its hands, is the May-pole raised. But
  there are great personages forthcoming--not so great, however,
  as in more ancient times. There are Robin Hood and Little John,
  in their grass-green tunics; but their bows and their sheaves
  of arrows are more for show than use. Maid Marian is there; but
  she is a mockery--a smooth-faced youth in a watchet-colored
  tunic, with flowers and coronets, and a mincing gait, but not the
  shepherdess who

            "'with garlands gay
      Was made the Lady of the May.'

  There is farce amidst the pastoral. The age of unrealities
  has already in part arrived. Even among country-folk there is
  burlesque. There is personation, with a laugh at the things
  that are represented. The Hobby-horse and the Dragon, however,
  produce their shouts of merriment. But the hearty morris-dancers
  soon spread a spirit of genial mirth among all the spectators.
  The clownish Maid Marian will now 'caper upright like a wild
  Morisco.' Friar Tuck sneaks away from his ancient companions to
  join hands with some undisguised maiden; the Hobby-horse gets rid
  of pasteboard and his foot-cloth; and the Dragon quietly deposits
  his neck and tail for another season. Something like the genial
  chorus of _Summer's Last Will and Testament_ is rung out:--

      "'Trip and go, heave and ho,
      Up and down, to and fro,
      From the town to the grove,
      Two and two, let us rove,
      A-Maying, a-playing;
      Love hath no gainsaying,
      So merrily trip and go.'

  "The early-rising moon still sees the villagers on that green of
  Shottery. The Piper leans against the May-pole; the featliest of
  dancers still swim to the music:--

                      "'So have I seen
      Tom Piper stand upon our village-green,
      Backed with the May-pole, whilst a jocund crew
      In gentle motion circularly threw
      Themselves around him.'

  The same beautiful writer--one of the last of our golden age of
  poetry--has described the parting gifts bestowed upon the 'merry
  youngsters' by

                      "'the Lady of the May
      Set in an arbor (on a holiday)
      Built by the May-pole, where the jocund swains
      Dance with the maidens to the bagpipe's strains,
      When envious night commands them to be gone.'"

These latter quotations are from William Browne's _Britannia's
Pastorals_ (book ii. published in 1616), and the poet goes on to
tell how the Lady

      "Calls for the merry youngsters one by one,
      And, for their well performance, soon disposes
      To this a garland interwove with roses;
      To that a carved hook or well-wrought scrip;
      Gracing another with her cherry lip;
      To one her garter; to another then
      A handkerchief cast o'er and o'er again:
      And none returneth empty that hath spent
      His pains to fill their rural merriment."


Whitsuntide, the season of Pentecost, or the week following
Whitsunday (the seventh Sunday after Easter), was another period of
festivity in old English times.

The morris-dance was commonly one of its features, as of the
May-day sports. In _Henry V._ (ii. 4. 25) the Dauphin alludes to

              "'I say 't is meet we all go forth
      To view the sick and feeble parts of France;
      And let us do it with no show of fear,
      No, with no more than if we heard that England
      Were busied with a Whitsun morris-dance."

Another custom connected with the festival was the "Whitsun-ale."
Ale was so common a drink in England that it became a part of
the name of various festal meetings. A "leet-ale" was a feast at
the holding of a court-leet; a "lamb-ale" was a sheep-shearing
merry-making; a "bride-ale" was a _bridal_, as we now call
it--always a festive occasion; and a "church-ale" was connected
with some ecclesiastical holiday.

John Aubrey, the eminent antiquary, writing in the latter part
of the 17th century, says that in his grandfather's days the
church-ale at Whitsuntide furnished all the money needed for the
relief of the parish poor. He adds: "In every parish is, or was,
a church-house, to which belonged spits, crocks, etc., utensils
for dressing provision. Here the housekeepers met and were merry,
and gave their charity. The young people were there too, and had
dancing, bowling, shooting at butts, without scandal."

The Puritan Stubbes, in the book before quoted (page 176, above),
took a different view of these social gatherings. He says: "In
certain towns, where drunken Bacchus bears sway, against Christmas
and Easter, Whitsuntide, or some other time, the churchwardens
of every parish, with the consent of the whole parish, provide
half a score or twenty quarters of malt, whereof some they buy
of the church stock, and some is given them of the parishioners
themselves, every one conferring somewhat, according to his
ability; which malt, being made into very strong ale or beer, is
set to sale, either in the church or some other place assigned to
that purpose. Then when this is set abroach, well is he that can
get the soonest to it, and spend the most at it."

Old parish records show that considerable money was obtained at
these festivals, not only by the sale of ale and food, but from the
charges made for certain games, among which "riffeling" (raffling)
is included. Neighboring parishes often united in these church
picnics, as they might be called. Richard Carew, in his _Survey of
Cornwall_ (1602), says: "The neighboring parishes at these times
lovingly visit one another, and this way frankly spend their money

Whitsuntide was also a favorite time for theatrical performances.
Long before Shakespeare's day the miracle-plays and moralities had
been popular at this season; and these, as we have seen (page 17),
were still kept up when he was a boy, together with "pastorals" and
other "pageants" such as Perdita alludes to in _The Winter's Tale_
(iv. 4. 134):--

                "Come, take your flowers:
      Methinks I play as I have seen them do
      In Whitsun pastorals;"

and such as the disguised Julia describes in _The Two Gentlemen of
Verona_ (iv. 4. 163):--

                                "At Pentecost,
      When all our pageants of delight were play'd,
      Our youth got me to play the woman's part,
      And I was trimm'd in Madam Julia's gown,
      Which served me as fit, by all men's judgments,
      As if the garment had been made for me;
      Therefore, I know she is about my height.
      And at that time I made her weep a-good,
      For I did play a lamentable part.
      Madam, 't was Ariadne, passioning
      For Theseus' perjury and unjust flight,
      Which I so lively acted with my tears
      That my poor mistress, moved therewithal,
      Wept bitterly; and would I might be dead
      If I in thought felt not her very sorrow!"

This is in one of the earliest of his plays, and may be a
reminiscence of some simple attempt at dramatic representation
which he had seen at Stratford.


The Vigil of Saint John the Baptist, or the evening before the day
(June 24) dedicated to that Saint, was commonly called Midsummer
Eve, and was observed with curious ceremonies in all parts of
England. On that evening the people used to go into the woods
and break down branches of trees, which they brought home and
fixed over their doors with great demonstrations of joy. This was
originally done to make good the Scripture prophecy concerning the
Baptist, that many should rejoice in his birth.

It was also customary on this occasion for old and young, of both
sexes, to make merry about a large bonfire made in the street or
some open place. They danced around it, and the young men and boys
leaped over it, not to show their agility, but in compliance with
an ancient custom. These diversions they kept up till midnight, and
sometimes later.

According to some old writers these fires were made because the
Saint was said in Holy Writ to be "a shining light." Others, while
not denying this, added that the fires served to drive away the
dragons and evil spirits hovering in the air; and one asserts that
in some countries bones were burnt in this "bone-fire," or bonfire,
"for the dragons hated nothing more than the stench of burning

In the _Ordinary of the Company of Cooks_ at Newcastle-upon-Tyne,
1575, we read among other regulations: "And also that the said
Fellowship of Cooks shall yearly of their own cost and charge
maintain and keep the bone-fires, according to the ancient custom
of the town on the Sand-hill; that is to say, one bone-fire on the
Even of the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, commonly
called Midsummer Even, and the other on the Even of the Feast of
St. Peter the Apostle, if it shall please the mayor and aldermen
of the town for the time being to have the same bone-fires."

In a manuscript record of the expenses of the royal household for
the first year of the reign of Henry VIII. (1513), under date of
July 1st is the entry: "Item, to the pages of the hall, for making
of the King's bone-fire upon Midsummer Eve, x_s._"

There were many popular superstitions connected with Midsummer Eve.
It was believed that if any one sat up fasting all night in the
church porch, he would see the spirits of those who were to die in
the parish during the ensuing twelve months come and knock at the
church door, in the order in which they were to die.

It was customary on this evening to gather certain plants
which were supposed to have magical properties. Fern-seed, for
instance, being on the back of the leaf and in some species
hardly discernible, was thought to have the power of rendering
the possessor invisible, if it was gathered at this time. In some
places it was believed that the seed must be got at midnight by
letting it fall into a plate without touching the plant.

We find many allusions to fern-seed in Elizabethan writers. In _1
Henry IV._ (ii. 1. 95) Gadshill says: "We steal as in a castle,
cock-sure; we have the receipt of fern-seed, we walk invisible";
to which the Chamberlain replies: "Nay, by my faith, I think ye
are more beholding to the night than to fern-seed for your walking
invisible." In Ben Jonson's _New Inn_ (i. 1) one of the characters

                          "I had
      No medicine, sir, to go invisible,
      No fern-seed in my pocket."

In _Plaine Percevall_, a tract of the time of Elizabeth, we read:
"I think the mad slave hath tasted on a fern-stalk, that he walks
so invisible."

Scot, in his _Discoverie of Witchcraft_ (1584), directs us, as
protection against witches, to "hang boughs (hallowed on Midsummer
Day) at the stall door where the cattle stand."

St. John's wort, vervain, orpine, and rue were among the plants
gathered on Midsummer Eve on account of their supernatural virtue.
Each was supposed to have its peculiar use in popular magic.
Orpine, for instance, was set in clay upon pieces of slate, and
called a "Midsummer man." According as the stalk was found next
morning to incline to the right or the left, the anxious maiden
knew whether her lover would prove true to her or not. Young women
also sought at this time for what they called pieces of coal, but
in reality hard, black, dead roots, often found under the living
mugwort; and these they put under their pillows that they might
dream of their lovers. Lupton, in his _Notable Things_ (1586),
says: "It is certainly and constantly affirmed that on Midsummer
Eve there is found, under the root of mugwort, a coal which saves
or keeps them safe from the plague, carbuncle, lightning, the
quartan ague, and from burning, that bear the same about them." He
also says it is reported that the same remarkable "coal" is found
at the same time of the year under the root of plantain; and he
adds that he knows this "to be of truth," for he has found it there

Midsummer Eve was also thought to be a season productive
of madness. In _Twelfth Night_ (iii. 4. 61) Olivia says of
Malvolio's eccentric behavior, "Why, this is very midsummer
madness." Steevens, the Shakespearian critic, believed that the
_Midsummer-Night's Dream_ owed its title to this association of
mental vagaries with the season. John Heywood, writing in the
latter part of the 16th century, alludes to the same belief when he

      "As mad as a March hare; when madness compares,
      Are not Midsummer hares as mad as March hares?"

It is not improbable, however, that the _Midsummer-Night's Dream_
was so called because it was to be first represented at Midsummer,
or because it was like the plays commonly performed in connection
with the festivities of that season. A drama in which fairies
were leading characters was in keeping with the time of year when
fairies and spirits were supposed to manifest themselves to mortal
vision either in vigils or in dreams.



Passing by sundry minor festivals of the year, we come to
Christmas, which is a day of feasting and merrymaking in England
even now, though but a "starveling Christmas" compared with that
of the olden time. "Where now," as Mr. Knight asks, "is the real
festive exhilaration of Christmas; the meeting of all ranks as
children of a common father; the tenant speaking freely in his
landlord's hall; the laborers and their families sitting at the
same great oak table; the Yule Log brought in with shout and song?
'No night is now with hymn or carol blest.' There are singers of
carols even now at a Stratford Christmas. Warwickshire has
retained some of its ancient carols. But the singers are wretched
chorus-makers, according to the most unmusical style of all the
generations from the time of the Commonwealth.... But in an age of
music we may believe that one young dweller in Stratford gladly
woke out of his innocent sleep, after the evening bells had rung
him to rest, when in the stillness of the night the psaltery was
gently touched before his father's porch, and he heard, one voice
under another, these simple and solemn strains:--

      "'As Joseph was a-walking
        He heard an angel sing,
      This night shall be born
        Our heavenly King.

      "'He neither shall be born
        In housen nor in hall,
      Nor in the place of Paradise,
        But in an ox's stall.

      "'He neither shall be clothed
        In purple nor in pall,
      But all in fair linen,
        As were babies all.

      "'He neither shall be rock'd
        In silver nor in gold,
      But in a wooden cradle
        That rocks on the mould.'

London has perhaps this carol yet, among its halfpenny ballads. A
man who had a mind attuned to the love of what was beautiful in the
past has preserved it; but it was for another age. It was for the
age of William Shakespeare. It was for the age when superstition,
as we call it, had its poetical faith....

"Such a night was a preparation for a 'happy Christmas.' The Cross
of Stratford was garnished with the holly, the ivy, and the bay.
Hospitality was in every house; but the hall of the great landlord
of the parish was a scene of rare conviviality. The frost or the
snow will not deter the principal tenants and friends from the
welcome of Clopton. There is the old house, nestled in the woods,
looking down upon the little town. Its chimneys are reeking; there
is bustle in the offices; the sound of the trumpeters and the
pipers is heard through the open door of the great entrance; the
steward marshals the guests; the tables are fast filling. Then
advance, courteously, the master and the mistress of the feast. The
Boar's head is brought in with due solemnity; the wine-cup goes
round; and perhaps the Saxon shout of Waes-hael and Drink-hael
may still be shouted. The boy-guest who came with his father, the
tenant of Ingon, has slid away from the rout; for the steward, who
loves the boy, has a sight to make him merry. The Lord of Misrule
and his jovial attendants are rehearsing their speeches; and the
mummers from Stratford are at the porch. Very sparing are the
cues required for the enactment of this short drama. A speech to
the esquire, closed with a merry jest; something about ancestry
and good Sir Hugh; the loud laugh; the song and the chorus; and
the Lord of Misrule is now master of the feast. The Hall is
cleared.... There is dancing till curfew; and then a walk in the
moonlight to Stratford, the pale beam shining equally upon the dark
resting-place in the lonely aisle of the Clopton who is gone,
and upon the festal hall of the Clopton who remains, where some
loiterers of the old and young still desire 'to burn this night
with torches.'"

This is a fancy picture, but it is in keeping with the life of the
time. Whether the boy Shakespeare spent a Christmas in just this
manner or not, we may be sure that he enjoyed the merriment of the
season to the full.

There are a few allusions to Christmas in the plays, besides the
beautiful one in _Hamlet_ already quoted (page 138) in another
connection. In _Love's Labour's Lost_ (v. 2. 462) "a Christmas
comedy" is alluded to; and in _The Taming of the Shrew_ (ind. 2.
140), when Sly the tinker learns that a comedy is to be played for
his entertainment, he asks whether a "comonty" is "like a Christmas
gambold or a tumbling-trick."


Our English ancestors had other holidays than those associated
with the ecclesiastical year, but only one or two of them can be
mentioned here.

The time of sheep-shearing was celebrated by a rural feast such as
Shakespeare has introduced in _The Winter's Tale_. The shearing
took place in the spring as soon as the weather became warm enough
for the sheep to lay aside their winter clothing without danger.
John Dyer, in his poem entitled _The Fleece_ (1757), fixes the
proper time thus:--

                  "If verdant elder spreads
      Her silver flowers, if humble daisies yield
      To yellow crowfoot and luxuriant grass,
      Gay shearing-time approaches."

Drayton, writing in Shakespeare's day (page 3 above), describes a
shearing-feast in the Vale of Evesham, not far from Stratford:--

                                "The shepherd-king,
      Whose flock hath chanced that year the earliest lamb to bring,
      In his gay baldric sits at his low, grassy board,
      With flawns, curds, clouted cream, and country dainties stored;
      And whilst the bagpipe plays, each lusty jocund swain
      Quaffs syllabubs in cans to all upon the plain;
      And to their country girls, whose nosegays they do wear,
      Some roundelays do sing, the rest the burden bear."

In _The Winter's Tale_, instead of the shepherd-king we have
the more poetical shepherdess-queen. Dr. F. J. Furnivall, in
his introduction to this play, remarks: "How happily it brings
Shakespeare before us, mixing with his Stratford neighbors at their
sheep-shearing and country sports, enjoying the vagabond peddler's
gammon and talk, delighting in the sweet Warwickshire maidens,
and buying them 'fairings,' opening his heart afresh to all the
innocent mirth and the beauty of nature around him!" Doubtless
he enjoyed these rural festivities in his later years, after he
settled down in his own house at Stratford, no less heartily than
he did in his boyhood, when his father may have had sheep to shear.

Mr. Knight remarks: "There is a minuteness of circumstance amidst
the exquisite poetry of this scene [in _The Winter's Tale_] which
shows that it must have been founded upon actual observation, and
in all likelihood upon the keen and prying observation of a boy
occupied and interested with such details. Surely his father's
pastures and his father's homestead might have supplied all these
circumstances. His father's man might be the messenger to the town,
and reckon upon 'counters' the cost of the sheep-shearing feast.
'Three pounds of sugar, five pounds of currants, rice'--and then
he asks, 'What will this sister of mine do with rice?' In Bohemia
the clown might, with dramatic propriety, not know the use of
rice at a sheep-shearing; but a Warwickshire swain would have the
flavor of cheese-cakes in his mouth at the first mention of rice
and currants. Cheese-cakes and warden-pies were the sheep-shearing

Shakespeare evidently knew for what the rice was wanted at the
feast; but the clown, who was no cook, might be familiar with the
flavor of the cakes without understanding all the ingredients that
entered into their composition.

Thomas Tusser, in his _Five Hundred Points of Husbandry_ (1557),
describing this festival, makes the shepherd say:--

      "Wife, make us a dinner, spare flesh neither corn,
      Make wafers and cakes, for our sheep must be shorn;
      At sheep-shearing, neighbors none other things crave
      But good cheer and welcome like neighbors to have."


The ingathering of the harvest was a season of great rejoicing from
the most remote antiquity. "Sowing is hope; reaping, fruition of
the expected good." To the husbandman to whom the fear of wet,
blights, and other mischances has been a source of anxiety between
seedtime and harvest, the fortunate completion of his long labors
cannot fail to be a relief and a delight.

Paul Hentzner, writing in 1598 at Windsor, says: "As we were
returning to our inn we happened to meet some country-people
celebrating their harvest-home. Their last load of corn they crown
with flowers, having besides an image richly dressed, by which
perhaps they would signify Ceres. This they keep moving about,
while men and women, riding through the streets in the cart, shout
as loud as they can till they arrive at the barn." In the reign of
James I., Moresin, another foreigner, saw a figure made of corn
drawn home in a cart, with men and women singing to the pipe and
the drum.

Matthew Stevenson, in the _Twelve Months_ (1661), under August,
alludes to this festival thus: "The furmenty-pot welcomes home the
harvest-cart, and the garland of flowers crowns the captain of the
reapers; the battle of the field is now stoutly fought. The pipe
and the tabor are now busily set a-work; and the lad and the lass
will have no lead on their heels. O, 't is the merry time wherein
honest neighbors make good cheer, and God is glorified in his
blessings on the earth."

Robert Herrick, in his _Hesperides_ (1648), refers to the
harvest-home as follows:--

      "Come, sons of summer, by whose toil
      We are the lords of wine and oil,
      By whose tough labor and rough hands
      We rip up first, then reap our lands,
      Crown'd with the ears of corn, now come,
      And to the pipe sing harvest-home.
      Come forth, my lord, and see the cart,
      Drest up with all the country art.
      See here a mawkin, there a sheet
      As spotless pure as it is sweet:
      The horses, mares, and frisking fillies
      Clad all in linen, white as lilies;
      The harvest swains and wenches bound
      For joy to see the hock-cart crown'd.
      About the cart hear how the rout
      Of rural younglings raise the shout;
      Pressing before, some coming after,
      Those with a shout, and these with laughter.
      Some bless the cart, some kiss the sheaves,
      Some prank them up with oaken leaves;
      Some cross the fill-horse; some, with great
      Devotion, stroke the home-borne wheat.

             *       *       *       *       *

      Well, on, brave boys, to your lord's hearth,
      Glittering with fire; where, for your mirth,
      You shall see, first, the large and chief
      Foundation of your feast, fat beef;
      With upper stories, mutton, veal,
      And bacon (which makes full the meal),
      With several dishes standing by,
      And here a custard, there a pie,
      And here all-tempting frumenty."

The "hock-cart" was the cart that brought home the last load of
corn. It was sometimes called the "hockey-cart"; and one of the
dainties of the feast was the "hockey-cake." In an almanac for
1676, under August, we read:--

      "Hocky is brought home with hallowing,
      Boys with plum-cake the cart following."

The harvest-home is alluded to in _1 Henry IV._ (i. 3. 35), where
Hotspur, describing the "popinjay" lord who came to demand his
prisoners, says:--

                    "and his chin new-reap'd
      Show'd like a stubble-land at harvest-home."

In _The Merry Wives of Windsor_ (ii. 2. 287) Falstaff says of
Mistress Ford, to whom he intends to make love, "and there's my

In the interlude in _The Tempest_ (iv. 1. 134) the dance of the
Reapers was apparently a reminiscence of harvest-home sports. Iris

      "You sunburnt sicklemen, of August weary,
      Come hither from the furrow and be merry.
      Make holiday; your rye-straw hats put on,
      And these fresh nymphs encounter every one
      In country footing."

The following passage in the 12th Sonnet, though it has nothing
of festival joyousness, may have been suggested by the ceremonial
bringing home of the last load of grain:--

      "When lofty trees I see barren of leaves
      Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
      _And summer's green all girded up in sheaves_
      _Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard_," etc.


In a quiet country town like Stratford the weekly market was an
occasion of some interest to the boys as to their elders. There
is still such a market on Fridays at Stratford, when wares of many
sorts are exposed for sale in the streets, and people from the
neighboring villages come to buy. In old times there would have
been a greater throng of buyers and sellers. "The housewife from
her little farm would ride in gallantly between her paniers laden
with butter, eggs, chickens, and capons. The farmer would stand
by his pitched corn, and, as Harrison complains, if the poor man
handled the sample with the intent to purchase his humble bushel,
the man of many sacks would declare that it was sold. There, before
shops were many and their stocks extensive, would come the dealers
from Birmingham and Coventry, with wares for use and wares for
show,--horse-gear and women-gear, Sheffield whittles, and rings
with posies."

We find a number of allusions to these markets in Shakespeare's
plays. In _Love's Labour's Lost_ (v. 2. 318) Biron, ridiculing
Boyet, says of him:--

      "He is art's pedler, and retails his wares
      At wakes and wassails, meetings, markets, fairs."

In the same play (iii. 1. 111) there is an allusion to the old
proverb, "Three women and a goose make a market," where Costard,
referring to Moth's nonsense about "the fox, the ape, and the
humble-bee," followed by the goose that made up four, says, "And he
[the goose] ended the market."

In _As You Like It_ (iii. 2. 104) Touchstone, making fun of
Orlando's verses which Rosalind has just read, says: "I'll rhyme
you so eight years together, dinners and suppers and sleeping-hours
excepted: it is the right butter-women's rank to market"; that
is, the metre is just like the jog-trot of countrywomen riding to
market one after another, with their butter and eggs.

In _Richard III._ (i. 1. 160) Gloster, after saying that he means
to "marry Warwick's youngest daughter," adds:--

      "But yet I run before my horse to market:
      Clarence still breathes, Edward still lives and reigns;
      When they are gone, then must I count my gains."

He means, in the language of a more familiar proverb, that he is
counting his chickens before they are hatched; that is, he is too
hasty in reckoning upon the success of his plans.

[Illustration: THE FAIR]

In _1 Henry VI._ (iii. 2) Joan of Arc gets into Rouen with her
soldiers in the guise of countrymen bound for market:--

  "_Enter_ La Pucelle, _disguised, and_ Soldiers _dressed like
  countrymen, with sacks upon their backs_.

      _Pucelle._ These are the city gates, the gates of Rouen,
      Through which our policy must make a breach.
      Take heed, be wary how you place your words;
      Talk like the vulgar sort of market-men,
      That come to gather money for their corn.
      If we have entrance--as I hope we shall--
      And that we find the slothful watch but weak,
      I'll by a sign give notice to our friends
      That Charles the Dauphin may encounter them.

      _1 Soldier._ Our sacks shall be a mean to sack the city,
      And we be lords and rulers over Rouen;
      Therefore we'll knock.                       [_Knocks._

      _Guard._ [_Within._] _Qui est la?_

      _Pucelle._ _Paisans, pauvres gens de France_:
      Poor market-folks, that come to sell their corn.

      _Guard._ [_Opening the gates._] Enter, go in; the market-bell
      is rung.

      _Pucelle._ Now, Rouen, I'll shake thy bulwarks to the

The "market-bell" was rung at the hour when the market was to begin.

In the same play (v. 5. 54), when a dower is proposed for Margaret,
who is to marry Henry, Suffolk says:--

      "A dower, my lords! disgrace not so your king,
      That he should be so abject, base, and poor,
      To choose for wealth, and not for perfect love.
      Henry is able to enrich his queen,
      And not to seek a queen to make him rich:
      So worthless peasants bargain for their wives,
      As market-men for oxen, sheep, or horse."

In _2 Henry VI._ (v. 2. 62), when Cade has said boastingly, "I am
able to endure much," Dick makes the comment, aside: "No question
of that; for I have seen him whipped three market-days together."

There are many other allusions to markets, market-men,
market-maids, etc., in the plays, but these will suffice for
illustration here.

The semi-annual Fair was a market on a grander scale. The increased
crowd of dealers called for certain police regulations, and these
were strictly enforced. The town council appointed to each trade
a particular station in the streets. Thus, raw hides were to be
exposed for sale in the Rother Market. Sellers of butter, cheese,
wick-yarn, and fruits were to set up their stalls by the cross
at the Guild Chapel. A part of the High Street was assigned to
country butchers. Pewterers were ordered to "pitch" their wares
in Wood Street, and to pay fourpence a square yard for the ground
they occupied. Salt-wagons, whose owners did a large business when
salted meats formed the staple supply of food, were permitted to
stand about the cross in the Rother Market. At various points
victuallers could erect booths. These regulations were necessary to
prevent strife concerning locations, and violations were punished
by heavy fines.

Mr. Knight remarks: "At the joyous Fair-season it would seem that
the wealth of a world was emptied into Stratford; not only the
substantial things, the wine, the wax, the wheat, the wool, the
malt, the cheese, the clothes, the napery, such as even great lords
sent their stewards to the Fairs to buy, but every possible variety
of such trumpery as fills the pedler's pack,--ribbons, inkles,
caddises, coifs, stomachers, pomanders, brooches, tapes, shoe-ties.
Great dealings were there on these occasions in beeves and horses,
tedious chafferings, stout affirmations, saints profanely invoked
to ratify a bargain. A mighty man rides into the Fair who scatters
consternation around. It is the Queen's Purveyor. The best horses
are taken up for her Majesty's use, at her Majesty's price; and
they probably find their way to the Earl of Leicester's or the Earl
of Warwick's stables at a considerable profit to Master Purveyor.
The country buyers and sellers look blank; but there is no remedy.
There is solace, however, if there is not redress. The ivy-bush
is at many a door, and the sounds of merriment are within, as
the ale and the sack are quaffed to friendly greetings. In the
streets there are morris-dancers, the juggler with his ape, and
the minstrel with his ballads. We may imagine the foremost in a
group of boys listening to the 'small popular musics sung by these
_cantabanqui_ upon benches and barrels' heads,' or more earnestly
to some one of the 'blind harpers, or such-like tavern minstrels,
that give a fit of mirth for a groat; their matters being for the
most part stories of old time as _The Tale of Sir Topas_, _Bevis
of Southampton_, _Guy of Warwick_, _Adam Bell and Clymme of the
Clough_, and such other old romances or historical rhymes, made
purposely for the recreation of the common people.' A bold fellow,
who is full of queer stories and cant phrases, strikes a few notes
upon his gittern, and the lads and lasses are around him ready to
dance their country measures....

"The Fair is over; the booths are taken down; the woolen
statute-caps, which the commonest people refuse to wear because
there is a penalty for not wearing them, are packed up again; the
prohibited felt hats are all sold; the millinery has found a ready
market among the sturdy yeomen, who are careful to propitiate
their home-staying wives after the fashion of the Wife of Bath's
husbands.... The juggler has packed up his cup and balls; the last
cudgel-play has been fought out:--

      "'Near the dying of the day
      There will be a cudgel-play,
      Where a coxcomb will be broke
      Ere a good word can be spoke:
      But the anger ends all here,
      Drench'd in ale, or drown'd in beer.'

Morning comes, and Stratford hears only the quiet steps of its
native population."

There are many allusions, literal and figurative, to these fairs in
Shakespeare's plays, a few of which may be cited here as specimens.

In _Love's Labour's Lost_, besides the one quoted above (page 199),
we find the following simile in Biron's eulogy of Rosaline (iv. 3.

      "Of all complexions the cull'd soverignty
      Do meet, as at a fair, in her fair cheek."

In the same play (v. 2. 2), the Princess says to her ladies,
referring to the presents they have received:--

      "Sweet hearts, we shall be rich ere we depart
      If fairings come thus plentifully in."

It was so common a practice to buy presents at fairs that the word
_fairing_, which originally meant presents thus bought, came to be
used in a more general sense, as in this passage and many others
that might be quoted.

In _The Winters Tale_ (iv. 3. 109) the Clown says of the merry
peddler Autolycus that "he haunts wakes, fairs, and bear-baitings."
Later (iv. 4) we meet the rogue at the sheep-shearing, where he
finds a good market for ribbons, gloves, and other "fairings,"
which the swains buy for their sweethearts; and when the festival
is over he says: "I have sold all my trumpery; not a counterfeit
stone, not a ribbon, glass, pomander, brooch, table-book, ballad,
knife, tape, glove, shoe-tie, bracelet, horn-ring, to keep my pack
from fasting; they throng who should buy first, as if my trinkets
had been hallowed and brought a benediction to the buyer."

In _2 Henry IV._ (iii. 2. 43) Shallow asks his cousin Silence, "How
a good yoke of bullocks now at Stamford fair?" and Silence replies,
"By my troth, I was not there." Later (v. 1. 26) Davy asks Shallow:
"Sir, do you mean to stop any of William's wages, about the sack he
lost the other day at Hinckley fair?"

In _Henry VIII._ (v. 4. 73) the Chamberlain, seeing the crowd
gathered to get a sight of the royal procession, exclaims:--

      "Mercy o' me, what a multitude are here!
      They grow still too; from all parts they are coming,
      As if we kept a fair here."

In _Lear_ (iii. 6. 78) Edgar, in his random talk while pretending
to be insane, cries: "Come, march to wakes and fairs and

The "wakes," mentioned so often in connection with fairs, were
annual feasts kept to commemorate the dedication of a church;
called so, as an old writer tells us, "because the night before
they were used to watch till morning in the church." The next day
was given up to feasting and all sorts of rural merriment. In the
churchwardens' accounts of the time we find charges for "wine and
sugar," for "bread, wine, and ale," and the like, for "certain
of the parish," for "the singing men and singing children," and
others, on these occasions.

At these wakes, as at the fairs and other large gatherings, whether
festal or commercial, hawkers and peddlers came to sell their wares
and merchants set up their stalls and booths, often in the very
churchyard and even on a Sunday. The clergy naturally denounced
this profanation of the Sabbath, but it was not entirely suppressed
until the reign of Henry VI.

Stubbes, in his _Anatomy of Abuses_ (1583), inveighed against these
wakes, as against the May-day sports (page 176 above), especially
on account of the money wasted at them, "insomuch as the poor men
that bear the charges of these feasts and wakes are the poorer
and keep the worser houses a long time after: and no marvel, for
many spend more at one of these wakes than in all the whole year

Herrick, in his _Hesperides_ (page 196 above) took a more cheerful
view of such rural holidays:--

      "Come, Anthea, let us two
      Go to feast, as others do.
      Tarts and custards, creams and cakes,
      Are the junkets still at wakes;
      Unto which the tribes resort,
      Where the business is the sport.
      Morris-dancers thou shalt see,
      Marian too in pageantry;
      And a mimic to devise
      Many grinning properties.
      Players there will be, and those
      Base in action as in clothes;
      Yet with strutting they will please
      The incurious villages.

             *       *       *       *       *

      Happy rustics, best content
      With the cheapest merriment;
      And possess no other fear
      Than to want the wake next year;"

that is, to miss or lack it.


Much of the recreation, as of the education, of William Shakespeare
was in the fields. "He is rarely a descriptive poet, distinctively
so called; but images of mead and grove, of dale and upland, of
forest depths, of quiet walks by gentle rivers,--reflections of
his own native scenery,--spread themselves without an effort over
all his writings. All the occupations of a rural life are glanced
at or embodied in his characters. He wreathes all the flowers of
the field in his delicate chaplets; and even the nicest mysteries
of the gardener's art can be expounded by him. His poetry in this,
as in all other great essentials, is like the operations of nature
itself; we see not its workings. But we may be assured, from the
very circumstance of its appearing so accidental, so spontaneous in
its relations to all external nature and to the country life, that
it had its foundation in very early and very accurate observation.
Stratford was especially fitted to have been the 'green lap' in
which the boy-poet was 'laid.' The whole face of creation here wore
an aspect of quiet loveliness."

The surrounding country was no less beautiful; and William would
naturally become familiar with it in his boyish rambles and in his
visits to his relatives. The village of Wilmcote, the home of his
mother, was within walking distance; and so was Snitterfield, where
his father lived before he came to Stratford, and where his uncle
Henry still resided. All through the wooded district of Arden the
name of Shakespeare was very common, and among those who bore it
were probably other families more or less closely related to John

However that may have been, the enterprising glover and
wool-merchant must have had large dealings with the neighboring
farmers; and William must have seen much of rural life and
employments in the company of his father, or when wandering at
his own free will in the country about Stratford. In no other way
could he have gained the intimate acquaintance with farming and
gardening operations of which his works bear evidence. He went to
London before his literary career began, and lived there until it
closed, with only brief occasional visits to Warwickshire. In the
metropolis he could not have added much to his early lessons in the
country life and character of which he has given us such graphic
and faithful delineations. These are thoroughly fresh and real;
they tell of the outdoor life he loved, and never smell of the
study-lamp, as Milton's and Spenser's allusions to plants, flowers,
and other natural objects often do.

Volumes have been written on the plant-lore and garden-craft of
Shakespeare; and the authors dwell equally on the poet's ingrained
love of the country and his keen observation of natural phenomena
and the agricultural practice of the time.

In _Richard II._ (iii. 4. 29-66) the Gardener and his Servant draw
lessons of political wisdom from the details of their occupation:--

      "_Gardener._ Go, bind thou up yon dangling apricocks,
      Which, like unruly children, make their sire
      Stoop with oppression of their prodigal weight;
      Give some supportance to the bending twigs.
      Go thou, and like an executioner
      Cut off the heads of too-fast-growing sprays,
      That look too lofty in our commonwealth;
      All must be even in our government.
      You thus employ'd, I will go root away
      The noisome weeds, that without profit suck
      The soil's fertility from wholesome flowers.

      _Servant._ Why should we, in the compass of a pale,
      Keep law, and form, and due proportion,
      Showing, as in a model, our firm estate,
      When our sea-walled garden, the whole land,
      Is full of weeds; her fairest flowers chok'd up,
      Her fruit-trees all unprun'd, her hedges ruin'd,
      Her knots disorder'd, and her wholesome herbs
      Swarming with caterpillars?

      _Gardener._                 Hold thy peace!
      He that hath suffer'd this disorder'd spring
      Hath now himself met with the fall of leaf.
      The weeds that his broad-spreading leaves did shelter,
      That seem'd in eating him to hold him up,
      Are pluck'd up, root and all, by Bolingbroke;
      I mean the Earl of Wiltshire, Bushy, Green.

      _Servant._ What, are they dead?

      _Gardener._ They are; and Bolingbroke
      Hath seiz'd the wasteful king.--O, what pity is it,
      That he hath not so trimm'd and dress'd his land
      As we this garden! We at time of year
      Do wound the bark, the skin of our fruit-trees,
      Lest, being over-proud with sap and blood,
      With too much riches it confound itself:
      Had he done so to great and growing men,
      They might have liv'd to bear, and he to taste
      Their fruits of duty. All superfluous branches
      We lop away, that bearing boughs may live:
      Had he done so, himself had borne the crown,
      Which waste of idle hours hath quite thrown down."

Mr. Ellacombe, commenting upon this dialogue, remarks: "This most
interesting passage would almost tempt us to say that Shakespeare
was a gardener by profession; certainly no other passages that have
been brought to prove his real profession are more minute than
this. It proves him to have had practical experience in the work,
and I think we may safely say that he was no mere 'prentice hand
in the use of the pruning-knife." But this play was written in
London, when he could hardly have known anything more of practical
gardening than he had learned in his boyhood and youth at Stratford.

Grafting and the various ways of propagating plants by cuttings,
slips, etc., are described or alluded to with equal accuracy; also
the mischief done by weeds, blights, frosts, and other enemies of
the husbandman and horticulturist. He writes on all these matters
as we might expect him to have done in his last years at Stratford,
after he had had actual experience in the management of a large
garden at New Place and in farming operations on other lands he had
bought in the neighborhood; but all these passages, like the one
quoted from _Richard II._, were written long before he had a garden
of his own. They were reminiscences of his observation as a boy,
not the results of his experience as a country gentleman.


  Abbreviations, except a few of the most familiar, have been
  avoided in the Notes, as in other parts of the book. The
  references to act, scene, and line in the quotations from
  Shakespeare are added for the convenience of the reader or
  student, who may sometimes wish to refer to the context. The
  line-numbers are those of the "Globe" edition, which vary from
  those of my edition only in scenes that are wholly or partly in

  The numbers appended to names of authors (as in the note on
  page 22, for example) are the dates of their birth and death.
  An interrogation-mark after a date (as in the note on page 114)
  indicates that it is uncertain. I have not thought it necessary
  to insert biographical notes concerning well-known authors, like
  Spenser, Milton, etc.



=Page 3.=--_Michael Drayton._ He was born in Warwickshire in 1563.
Of his personal history very little is known. His most famous work,
the _Poly-Olbion_ (or _Polyolbion_, as it is often printed), is a
poem of about 30,000 lines, the subject of which, as he himself
states it, is "a chorographical description of all the tracts,
rivers, mountains, forests, and other parts of this renowned
Isle of Great Britain; with intermixture of the most remarkable
stories, antiquities, wonders, etc., of the same." His _Ballad
of Agincourt_ (see _Tales from English History_, p. 39) has been
called "the most perfect and patriotic of English ballads." Drayton
was made poet-laureate in 1626. He died in 1631, and was buried in
Westminster Abbey.

=Page 4.=--_Her Bear._ The badge of the Earls of Warwick.

_Wilmcote._ A small village about three miles from
Stratford-on-Avon. The name is also written _Wilmecote_, and
_Wilnecote_; and in old documents, _Wilmcott_, _Wincott_, etc. It
is probably the _Wincot_ of _The Taming of the Shrew_ (ind. 2. 23)
and the _Woncot_ of _2 Henry IV._ (v. 1. 42).

_Dugdale._ Sir William Dugdale (1605-1686), one of the most learned
of English antiquaries. His _Antiquities of Warwickshire_ (1656) is
said to have been the result of twenty years' laborious research.

=Page 7.=--_Beauchamp._ Pronounced _Beech'-am_.

_The herse of brass hoops._ The word _herse_ (the same as _hearse_)
originally meant a harrow; then a temporary framework, often shaped
like a harrow, used for supporting candles at a funeral service,
and placed over the coffin; then a kind of frame or cage over an
effigy on a tomb; and finally a carriage for bearing a corpse to
the grave. For the third meaning (which we have here), compare Ben
Jonson's _Epitaph on the Countess of Pembroke_:--

      "Underneath this sable herse
      Lies the subject of all verse," etc.

_The garter._ Showing that he was a Knight of the Garter.

_The noble Impe._ The word _imp_ originally meant a scion, shoot,
or slip of a tree or plant; then, figuratively, human offspring
or progeny, as here and in many passages in writers of the time.
Holinshed the chronicler speaks of "Prince Edward, that goodlie
impe," and Churchyard calls Edward VI. "that impe of grace."
Fulwell, addressing Anne Boleyn, refers to Elizabeth as "thy royal
impe." As first applied to a young or small devil, the word had
this same meaning of offspring, "an imp of Satan" being a child of
Satan. How it came later to mean a mischievous urchin I leave the
small folk themselves to guess.

=Page 10.=--_The famous "dun cow."_ This, according to the legend,
was "a monstrous wild and cruel beast" which ravaged the country
about Dunsmore. Guy also slew a wild boar of "passing might and
strength," and a dragon "black as any coal" which was long the
terror of Northumberland. Compare the old ballad of _Sir Guy_:--

      "On Dunsmore heath I also slew
        A monstrous wild and cruel beast,
      Call'd the Dun-cow of Dunsmore heath,
        Which many people had opprest.

      "Some of her bones in Warwick yet
        Still for a monument do lie;
      And there exposed to lookers' view
        As wondrous strange they may espy.

      "A dragon in Northumberland
        I also did in fight destroy,
      Which did both man and beast oppress,
        And all the country sore annoy."

=Page 13.=--_Master Robert Laneham._ He was an English merchant
who became "doorkeeper of the council-chamber" to the Earl of
Leicester. He wrote an account, in the form of a letter, of the
festivities in honor of this visit of Elizabeth to Kenilworth,
which was afterwards printed. He is one of the characters in
Scott's _Kenilworth_.

=Page 14.=--_Theatres_, etc. The cut facing page 14 shows one of
the movable stages referred to by Dugdale; also two of "the three
tall spires" mentioned by Tennyson in the poem of _Godiva_. The
nearer church is St. Michael's, said to be the largest parish
church in England, with a steeple 303 feet high. Beyond it is
Trinity Church, with a spire 237 feet high.

=Page 15.=--_The most beautiful in the kingdom._ There is a
familiar story of two Englishmen who laid a wager as to which
was the finest walk in England. After the money was put up, one
named the walk from Stratford to Coventry, and the other that from
Coventry to Stratford. How the umpire decided the case is not

=Page 16.=--_The Cappers._ The makers of caps.

=Page 17.=--_King Herod._ Longfellow, in his _Golden Legend_,
introduces a miracle-play, _The Nativity_, which is supposed to
be acted at Strasburg. Herod figures in it after the blustering
fashion of the ancient dramas. Young readers will get a good idea
of these plays from this imitation of them.

=Page 18.=--_Other allusions to these old plays._ See, for
instance, _Twelfth Night_, iv. 2. 134, _2 Henry IV._ iii. 2. 343,
_Richard III._ iii. 1. 82, _Hamlet_, iii. 4. 98, etc., and the
notes in my edition.

=Page 19.=--_The legend of Godiva._ See Tennyson's _Godiva_.

=Page 22.=--_Dr. Forman._ Simon Forman (1552-1611), a noted
astrologer and quack, who wrote several books, and left a diary, in
which he describes at considerable length the plot of Shakespeare's
_Macbeth_, which he saw performed "at the Globe, 1610, the 20th of
April, Saturday." See my edition of _Macbeth_, p. 9.

=Page 23.=--The head of Sir Thomas Lucy is from his monument in
Charlecote church.

=Page 24.=--_A willow grows aslant a brook._ See _Hamlet_, iv. 7.
165. Some editions of Shakespeare follow the reading of the early
quartos, "ascaunt the brook," which means the same. This willow
(the _Salix alba_) grows on the banks of the Avon, and from the
looseness of the soil the trees often partly lose their hold, and
bend "aslant" the stream.

=Page 26.=--_The banished Duke in As You Like It, etc._ See the
play, ii. 1. 1-18.

_His maidens ever sing of "blue-veined violets," etc._ The
"blue-vein'd violets" are mentioned in _Venus and Adonis_,
125; the "daisies pied" (variegated), and the "lady-smocks all
silver-white," in _Love's Labour's Lost_, v. 2. 904, 905; and the
"pansies" in _Hamlet_, iv. 5. 176.

=Page 27.=--_A manor of the Bishop of Worcester._ Under the feudal
system, a _manor_ was a landed estate, with a village or villages
upon it the inhabitants of which were generally _villeins_,
or serfs of the owner or lord. These _villeins_ were either
_regardant_ or _in gross_. The former "belonged to the manor as
fixtures, passing with it when it was conveyed or inherited, and
they could not be sold or transferred as persons separate from the
land"; the latter "belonged personally to their lord, who could
sell or transfer them at will." The _bordarii_, _bordars_, or
_cottagers_, "seem to have been distinguished from the _villeins_
simply by their smaller holdings." For the menial services rendered
by the villeins, and their condition generally, see the following

=Page 32.=--_A chantry._ A church or a chapel (as here) endowed
with lands or other revenues for the maintenance of one or more
priests to sing or say mass daily for the soul of the donor or the
souls of persons named by him. Cf. _Henry V._ iv. 1. 318:--

                            "I have built
      Two chantries, where the sad and solemn priests
      Sing still for Richard's soul."

=Page 40.=--_Present her at the leet, etc._ Complain of her for
using common stone jugs instead of the quart-pots duly sealed or
stamped as being of legal size.

_A substantial ducking-stool, etc._ The _ducking-stool_ was kept
up as a punishment for scolds in some parts of England until late
in the 18th century. An antiquary, writing about 1780, tells of
seeing it used at Magdalen bridge in Cambridge. He says: "The
chair hung by a pulley fastened to a beam about the middle of the
bridge; and the woman having been fastened in the chair, she was
let under water three times successively, and then taken out....
The ducking-stool was constantly hanging in its place, and on the
back panel of it was an engraving representing devils laying hold
of scolds. Some time after, a new chair was erected in the place of
the old one, having the same device carved on it, and well painted
and ornamented."

=Page 41.=--_Butts._ Places for the practice of archery, the
_butts_ being properly the targets.

=Page 45.=--_Pinfold._ Shakespeare uses the word in _The Two
Gentlemen of Verona_ (i. 1. 114): "I mean the pound--a pinfold";
and in _Lear_ (ii. 2. 9): "in Lipsbury pinfold." It was so called
because stray beasts were _pinned_ or shut up in it.

=Page 46.=--_One wagon tract._ That is, track. _Tract_ in this
sense is obsolete.

=Page 49.=--_In which William Shakespeare was probably born._ We
have no positive information on this point; but we know that John
Shakespeare resided in Henley Street in 1552, and that he became
the owner of this house at some time before 1590. The tradition
that this was the poet's birthplace is ancient and has never been
disproved. Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps, one of the most careful and
conservative of critics, says: "There can be no doubt that from the
earliest period at which we have, or are likely to have, a record
of the fact, it was the tradition of Stratford that the birthplace
is correctly so designated"; and he himself accepts the tradition
as almost certainly founded upon fact.

The cut facing page 50, like that facing page 56, gives an idea
of the interior appearance of these old houses. The room in which
tradition says that Shakespeare was born is the front room on the
second floor (what English people call the "first floor"), at the
left-hand side of the house as seen in the cut on page 49.

In the other cut (the interior of the cottage in which Anne
Hathaway, whom Shakespeare married, is said to have lived at
Shottery) the very large old-fashioned fire-place is to be noted.
Persons could actually sit "in the chimney corner," like the woman
in the picture. The grate is a modern addition.

=Page 51.=--_New Place._ Sir Hugh Clopton, for whom this mansion
was erected, speaks of it in 1496 as his "great house," a title
by which it was commonly known at Stratford for more than two
centuries. Shakespeare bought it in 1597 for £60, a moderate
price for so large a property; but in a document of the time
of Edward VI. it is described as having been for some time "in
great ruin and decay and unrepaired," and it was probably in a
dilapidated condition when it was transferred to Shakespeare. It
had been sold by the Clopton family in 1563, and in 1567 came
into the possession of William Underhill, whose family continued
to hold it until Shakespeare bought it. He left it by his will
to his daughter Susanna, who had married Dr. John Hall, and who
probably occupied it until her death in 1649, when she had been
a widow for fourteen years. The estate descended to her daughter
Elizabeth, who was first married to Thomas Nash, and afterwards to
Sir Thomas Barnard. In 1675 it was sold again, and was ultimately
re-purchased by the Clopton family. Sir John Clopton rebuilt the
house early in the next century, and it was subsequently occupied
by another Hugh Clopton. He died in 1751, and in 1756 the estate
was sold to Rev. Francis Gastrell, who pulled the house down in
1759, on account of a quarrel with the town authorities concerning
the taxes levied upon it. The year before (1758) he had cut down
Shakespeare's mulberry-tree, in order, as tradition says, to save
himself the trouble of showing it to visitors. The Stratford people
were indignant at this act of vandalism. Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps
says that an old inhabitant of the town told him that his father,
when a boy, "assisted in breaking Gastrell's windows in revenge for
the fall of the tree." It is possible, however, that some injustice
has been done the reverend gentleman. Davies, in his _Life of
Garrick_ (1780), asserts that Gastrell disliked the tree "because
it overshadowed his window, and rendered the house, as he thought,
subject to damps and moisture." There is also some evidence that
the trunk of the tree, which was now a hundred and fifty years old
and grown to a great size, had begun to decay. That Gastrell was
not indifferent to the poetical associations of the tree is evident
from the fact that he kept relics of it, his widow having presented
one to the Lichfield Museum in 1778. It is described in a catalogue
(1786) of the museum as "an horizontal section of the stock of the
mulberry-tree planted by Shakespeare at Stratford-upon-Avon."

=Page 52.=--_William Harrison._ An English clergyman, of whose
history we know little except that he was born in London, became
rector of Radwinter, Essex, and canon of Windsor, wrote a
_Description of Britaine and England_ and other historical books,
and probably died in 1592. His detailed account of the state of
England and the manners and customs of the people in the 16th
century is particularly valuable.

=Page 54.=--_Strewn with rushes._ There are many allusions to
this in Shakespeare. In _The Taming of the Shrew_ (iv. 1. 48),
when Petruchio is coming home, Grumio asks: "Is supper ready, the
house trimmed, rushes strewed, cobwebs swept?" Compare _Romeo and
Juliet_, i. 4. 36: "Tickle the senseless rushes with their heels"
(that is, in dancing); _Cymbeline_, ii. 2. 13:--

                "Our Tarquin thus
      Did softly press the rushes," etc.

=Page 55.=--_Thomas Coryat_, born in 1577 and educated at Oxford,
was celebrated for his pedestrian journeys on the Continent of
Europe. In 1608 he travelled through France, Germany, and Italy,
"walking 1975 miles, more than half of which were accomplished in
one pair of shoes, which were only once mended, and on his return
were hung up in the Church of Odcombe." Of this tour he wrote an
account entitled "Coryat's Crudities hastily gobled up in five
months' Travels in France," etc. He died at Surat in 1617, after
explorations in Greece, Egypt, and India.

=Page 56.=--_Bullein._ William Bullein, or Bulleyn, born about
1500, was a learned physician and botanist. His _Government of
Health_ was very popular in its day. He wrote several other books
of medicine. He died in 1576.

=Page 57.=--_His Anatomy of Melancholy._ Of this famous work,
written by Robert Burton (1577-1640), Dr. Johnson said that it was
"the only book that ever took me out of bed two hours sooner than I
wished to rise."

=Page 60.=--_Francis Seager._ Of his personal history, as of that
of _Hugh Rhodes_, nothing of importance is known.

=Page 61.=--_He is then to make low curtsy._ This form of obeisance
was used by both sexes in Shakespeare's day. Cf. _2 Henry IV._
ii. 1. 135: "if a man will make courtesy and say nothing, he is
virtuous"; and the epilogue to the same play: "First my fear, then
my courtesy, last my speech." _Curtsy_ is a modern spelling of the
word in this sense.

=Page 62.=--_Caraways._ The word occurs once in Shakespeare (_2
Henry IV._ v. 3. 3: "a dish of caraways"), where it probably has
the same meaning as here; but some have thought that the reference
is to a variety of apple.

=Page 63.=--_Treatably._ Tractably, smoothly. Cf. Marston, _What
You Will_, ii. 1: "Not too fast; say [recite] treatably."

_Much forder._ We find _d_ and _th_ used interchangeably in many
words in old writers; as _fadom_ and _fathom_, _murder_ and
_murther_, etc.

=Page 64.=--_To charge thee with than._ We find _than_ for _then_
in Shakespeare, _Lucrece_, 1440:--

      "To Simois' reedy banks the red blood ran,
      Whose waves to imitate the battle sought
      With swelling ridges; and their ranks began
      To break upon the galled shore, and than
      Retire again," etc.

Here, it will be seen, the word rhymes with _ran_ and _began_. On
the other hand, _than_ in the early eds. of Shakespeare and other
writers of the time is generally _then_.

=Page 65.=--_Utterly detest._ That is, _detested_. The omission of
-_ed_ in the participles of verbs ending in _d_ and _t_ (or _te_)
was formerly not uncommon in prose as well as poetry. Cf. Bacon,
_Essay 16_: "Their means are less exhaust"; and _Essay 38_: "They
have degenerate." See also _Richard III._, iii. 7. 179: "For first
was he contract to Lady Lucy," etc.

=Page 66.=--_To enter children._ To begin their training. The word
is now obsolete in this sense of introducing to, or initiating
into, anything. Cf. Ben Jonson, _Epicœne_, iii. 1: "I am bold to
enter these gentlemen in your acquaintance"; Walton, _Complete
Angler_: "to enter you into the art of fishing," etc.

_Thorow._ _Thorough_ and _through_ were originally the same word,
and we find them and their derivatives used interchangeably in
Shakespeare and other old writers. Cf. _A Midsummer-Night's Dream_,
ii. 1. 3:--

      "Over hill, over dale,
        Thorough bush, thorough brier,
      Over park, over pale,
        Thorough flood, thorough fire."

So we find _thoroughly_ and _throughly_ (_Hamlet_, iv. 5. 36,
etc.), _thoroughfares_ and _throughfares_ (_Merchant of Venice_,
ii. 7. 42, etc.).

=Page 67.=--_The Ship of Fools._ A translation (with original
modifications) of the _Narrenschiff_ of Sebastian Brandt (or
Brant), a German satire (1494) upon the follies of different
classes of men. It was made in 1508 by Alexander Barclay, who died
at an advanced age in 1552. He was educated at Oxford, became a
priest, and was vicar of several parishes in England before he was
promoted to that of All Saints, Lombard Street, London, a few weeks
previous to his death. _The Ship of Fools_ was the first English
book in which any mention is made of the New World.

_Strutt._ Joseph Strutt (1742-1802) was an eminent English
antiquarian, who wrote several valuable works in that line of
literature and others. The first edition of his _Sports and
Pastimes of the People of England_ appeared in 1801.

=Page 69.=--_Taylor the Water Poet._ John Taylor (1580-1654),
a waterman who afterwards became a collector of wine duties in
London. He wrote much in prose and verse, and was very popular in
his day.

=Page 70.=--_Dr. John Jones._ A physician, who practised at Bath
and Buxton, England, and wrote a number of medical works between
1556 and 1579.

=Page 71.=--_No other clear allusion to the game, etc._ Some
critics have thought there may be a punning allusion to the
_stale-mate_ of chess in _The Taming of the Shrew_, i. 1. 58: "To
make a stale of me among these mates"; but this is doubtful.

=Page 73.=--_She was pinch'd._ The _she_ is used in a demonstrative
sense, referring to one of the company (this maid), as _he_
(that man) is in the next line. The _Friar_ is the Friar Rush
of the fairy mythology, whom Milton seems here to identify with
Jack-o'-the-Lantern, or Will-o'-the-Wisp, the luminous appearance
sometimes seen in marshy places; but Friar Rush, according to
Keightley, "haunted houses, not fields, and was never the same with

=Page 74.=--_The drudging goblin._ Robin Goodfellow, the Puck of
Shakespeare. Cf. _A Midsummer-Night's Dream_, ii, 1. 40:--

      "They that Hobgoblin call you and sweet Puck,
      You do their work, and they shall have good luck."

_To bed they creep._ Somewhat reluctantly and timidly after the
stories of fairies and goblins.

_Charles Knight._ An English publisher and author (1791-1873), one
of the leading editors and biographers of Shakespeare.

=Page 75.=--_William Painter._ He was born in England about 1537,
and died about 1594. He studied at Cambridge in 1554, and in 1561
was made clerk of the ordnance in the Tower of London. In 1566 he
published the first volume of _The Palace of Pleasure_, containing
sixty tales from Latin, French, and Italian authors. The second
volume (1567) contained thirty-four tales. In later editions six
more were added, making a hundred in all. The collection is the
source from which Shakespeare and other Elizabethan dramatists drew
many of their plots.

=Page 76.=--_Giletta of Narbonne._ The story dramatized by
Shakespeare in _All's Well that Ends Well_.

=Page 77.=--_The "Gesta Romanorum."_ A popular collection of
stories in Latin, compiled late in the 13th or early in the 14th
century, and often reprinted and translated. The two stories
(of the caskets and of the bond) combined in the _Merchant of
Venice_ are found in it; and also the story of Theodosius and his
daughters, which is like that of _Lear_, though Shakespeare did not
take the plot of that tragedy directly from it.

=Page 78.=--_The trumpet to the morn._ The _trumpeter_ that
announces the coming of day. _Trumpet_ in this sense occurs several
times in Shakespeare; as in _Henry V._ iv. 2. 61: "I will the
banner from a trumpet take," etc.

_Extravagant and erring._ Both words are used in their etymological
sense of wandering. _Extravagant_ is, literally, _wandering beyond_
(its proper _confine_, or limit).

_Arden._ There was a Forest of Arden in Warwickshire as well as on
the Continent in the northeastern part of France. Drayton, in his
_Matilda_ (1594), speaks of "Sweet Arden's nightingales," etc.

_The ringlets of their dance._ The "fairy rings," so called, which
were supposed to be made by their dancing on the grass. In _The
Tempest_ (v. 1. 37) Prospero refers to them thus, in his apostrophe
to the various classes of spirits over whom he has control:--

                        "You demi-puppets that
      By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make
      Whereof the ewe not bites."

Dr. Grey, in his _Notes on Shakespeare_, says that they are
"higher, sourer, and of a deeper green than the grass which grows
round them." They were long a mystery even to scientific men, but
are now known to be due to the spreading of a kind of _agaricum_,
or fungus, which enriches the ground by its decay.

_Who tasted the honey-bag of the bee, etc._ All these allusions
to the fairies are suggested by passages in _A Midsummer-Night's
Dream_. The _cankers_ are canker-worms, as often in Shakespeare.

=Page 79.=--_A laund._ An open space in a forest. See _3 Henry VI._
iii. 1. 2: "For through this laund anon the deer will come," etc.
_Lawn_ is a corruption of _laund_.

=Page 80.=--_Who had command over the spirits, etc._ Like Prospero
in _The Tempest_.

_Vervain and dill._ These were among the plants supposed to be used
by witches in their charms; but many such plants were also believed
to be efficacious as counter-charms, or means of protection
against witchcraft. _Vervain_ was called "the enchanter's plant,"
on account of its magic potency; but Aubrey says that it "hinders
witches from their wills," and Drayton refers to it as "'gainst
witchcraft much availing."

=Page 81.=--The ancient font represented in the cut was in use in
the Stratford Church until about the middle of the 17th century.
Shakespeare was doubtless baptized at it.

=Page 82.=--_John Stow._ A noted English antiquarian and historian
(1525-1604). His _Survey of London_ (1598) is the standard
authority on old London.

=Page 83.=--_The calendars of their nativity._ Referring to the
twin Dromios, who were born at the same time with the twin children
of the Abbess, who is really Emilia, the long-lost wife of Egeus.
By a similar figure Antipholus of Syracuse (i. 2. 41) says of
Dromio, "Here comes the almanac of my true date."

_Caraways._ See on page 62 above. _Marmalet_ is an obsolete form of
_marmalade_. _Marchpane_ was a kind of almond-cake, much esteemed
in the time of Shakespeare. Compare _Romeo and Juliet_, i. 5. 9:
"Good thou, save me a piece of marchpane." _Sweet-suckers_ are
dried sweetmeats or sugar-plums, also called _suckets_, _succades_,

=Page 85.=--_Wote._ Know; more commonly written _wot_. It is the
first and third persons singular, indicative present, of the
obsolete verb _wit_. _Unweeting_ (_unwitting_), unknowing or
unconscious, is from the same verb.

=Page 86.=--_Thomas Lupton._ He wrote several books besides his
_Thousand Notable Things_, which was a collection of medical
recipes, stories, etc. Little is known of his personal history.

_Robert Heron._ He was a Scotchman (1764-1807), who wrote books of
travel, geography, history, etc.

_Warlocks._ Persons supposed to be in league with the devil;
sorcerers or wizards.

=Page 87.=--_Beshrew._ Originally a mild imprecation of evil, but
often used playfully, as here. Compare the similar modern use of
_confound_, which originally meant ruin or destroy; as in the
_Merchant of Venice_, iii. 2. 271: "So keen and greedy to confound
a man," etc.

=Page 88.=--_Astrologaster._ The full title was "The Astrologaster,
or the Figurecaster: Rather the Arraignment of Artless Astrologers
and Fortune Tellers."

=Page 89.=--_In the following form._ There were other forms, but
this was regarded as one of the most potent. It will be seen that
the word, as here arranged, can be read in various ways; as, for
instance, following each line to the end and then up the right-hand
side of the triangle, etc. An old writer, after giving directions
to write the word in this triangular form, adds: "Fold the paper
so as to conceal the writing, and stitch it into the form of a
cross with white thread. This amulet wear in the bosom, suspended
by a linen ribbon, for nine days. Then go in dead silence, before
sunrise, to the bank of a stream that flows eastward, take the
amulet from off the neck, and fling it backwards into the water.
If you open or read it, the charm is destroyed." It was thought
to be efficacious for the cure of fevers, "especially quartan and
semi-tertian agues."

_Thomas Lodge._ He was born about 1556, and died in 1625, and wrote
plays, novels, songs, translations, etc. His _Rosalynde_ (1590)
furnished Shakespeare with the plot of _As You Like It_.

=Page 90.=--_Robert Greene_ (1560-1592) was a popular dramatist,
novelist, and poet in his day. In his _Groatsworth of Wit_
(published in 1592, after his death) he attacked the rising
Shakespeare as "an upstart crow," who was "in his own conceit the
only Shake-scene in a country." Shakespeare afterwards took the
story of _The Winter's Tale_ from Greene's _Pandosto_, or _Dorastus
and Fawnia_, as it was subsequently entitled.

_Webster's White Devil._ John Webster, who wrote in the early part
of the 17th century, was a dramatist noted for his tragedies, among
which _The White Devil_ (1612) is reckoned one of the best. Of his
biography nothing worth mentioning is known.

_Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy._ See on page 57 above.

_Reginald Scot_, who died in 1599, is chiefly known by his
_Discoverie of Witchcraft_, the main facts concerning which are
given here.

=Page 91.=--_Wierus._ The Latin form of the name of _Weier_, a
German physician, who in 1563 published a book (_De Præstigiis
Demonum_) in which the general belief in magic and witchcraft was

_We infer that Shakespeare had read Scot's book._ However this
may be, we are sure that he had read a book by Dr. Samuel Harsnet
(1561-1631) entitled _Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures,
etc., under the pretence of casting out devils_ (1603), from which
he took the names of some of the devils in _Lear_ (iii. 4).

=Page 96.=--_Henry Peacham._ "A travelling tutor, musician,
painter, and author," who wrote on drawing and painting, etiquette,
education, etc. His father, whose name was the same, was also an
author, and it is doubtful whether certain books were written by
him or by his son.

_Roger Ascham_ (1515-1568) was a noted classical scholar and
author. He was tutor to Elizabeth (1548-1550), and Latin Secretary
to Mary and Elizabeth (1553-1568). His chief works were the
_Toxophilus_ (1545) and the _Scholemaster_ (see page 115 below).

=Page 97.=--_Took on him as a conjurer._ Pretended to be a
conjurer. Compare _2 Henry IV._ iv. 1. 60: "I take not on me here
as a physician."

=Page 98.=--_Who could speak Latin, etc._ Latin, the language of
the church, was used in exorcising spirits. Compare _Hamlet_ (i.
1. 42), where, on the appearance of the Ghost, Marcellus says:
"Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio." So in _Much Ado About
Nothing_ (ii. 1. 264), Benedick, after comparing Beatrice to "the
infernal Ate," adds: "I would to God some scholar would conjure
her!" See also Beaumont and Fletcher, _The Night-Walker_, ii. 1:--

      "Let's call the butler up, for he speaks Latin,
      And that will daunt the devil."

=Page 99.=--_Transparent horn._ Used to protect the paper, as
explained in the quotation from Shenstone on page 101. The
horn-book was really "of stature small," the figure on page 100
being of the exact size of the specimen described. One delineated
by Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps is of about the same size. See
Chambers's _Book of Days_, vol. i. p. 46.


=Page 101.=--_Shenstone._ William Shenstone (1714-1763) was
educated at Pembroke College, Oxford. His best-known work is _The

=Page 102.=--_The modern plastered ceiling, etc._ This has been
removed within the past few years. Its appearance before the
restoration is shown in the cut (from Knight's _Biography of

=Page 103.=--_Sententiæ Pueriles._ Literally, Boyish Sentences, or
Sentences for Boys.

_Sir Hugh Evans._ The title of _Sir_ (equivalent to the Latin
_dominus_) was given to priests. The "hedge-priest" in _As You Like
It_ (iii. 3) is called "Sir Oliver Martext." In _Twelfth Night_
(iii. 4. 298) Viola says: "I had rather go with sir priest than sir

_'Od's nouns._ Probably a corruption of "God's wounds," which is
also contracted into _Swounds_ and _Zounds_. So we find "od's
heartlings," "od's pity," etc. Dame Quickly confounds _'od_ and

=Page 104.=--_Articles._ Sir Hugh uses the word in the sense of
"demonstratives." This shows that the _Accidence_ mentioned above
as the book from which Shakespeare got his first lessons in Latin
(as Halliwell-Phillipps and other authorities state) gave some
of the elementary facts in precisely the same form in which they
appear in the Latin Grammar written _in English_ and published in
1574 with the title, "A Short Introduction of Grammar, generally to
be used: compiled and set forth for the bringing up of all those
that intend to attaine to the knowledge of the Latine Tongue." I
transcribe this from the edition published at Oxford in 1651 (a
copy in the Harvard University library, which appears to be the one
studied by President Ezra Stiles when he was a boy). In this book
(page 3), under the head of "Articles," we read:--

"Articles are borrowed of the Pronoune, and be thus declined:


  _Nomin._ _hic_, _hæc_, _hoc_.
  _Genetivo_ _hujus_.
  _Dativo_ _huic_.
  _Acc._ _hunc_, _hanc_, _hoc_.
  _Vocativo_ _caret_.
  _Ablativo_ _hoc_, _hac_, _hec_.


  _Nomin._ _hi_, _hæ_, _hæc_.
  _Gen._ _horum_, _harum_, _horum_.
  _Dativo_ _his_.
  _Accus._ _hos_, _has_, _hæc_.
  _Vocativo_ _caret_.
  _Ablativo_ _his_."

It will be noticed that the names of the cases are in Latin, as in
Shakespeare. He may have used this very grammar.

_Hang-hog is Latin for Bacon._ Suggested by the hanging up of
the pork during the process of curing. There is an old story of
Sir Nicholas Bacon (father of the philosopher), who was a judge.
A criminal whom he was about to sentence begged mercy on account
of kinship. "Prithee, said my lord, how came that in? Why, if it
please you, my lord, your name is _Bacon_ and mine is _Hog_, and
in all ages Hog and Bacon are so near kindred that they are not to
be separated. Ay, but, replied the judge, you and I cannot be of
kindred unless you be hanged; for Hog is not Bacon till it be well

_Leave your prabbles._ That is, your _brabbles_. The word literally
means quarrels or broils; as in _Twelfth Night_, v. 1. 68: "In
private brabble did we apprehend him." Sir Hugh uses it loosely
with reference to the Dame's interruptions and criticisms.

_O!--vocativo, O!_ The boy hesitates, trying to recall the
vocative, but Sir Hugh reminds him that it is wanting--_caret_ in
Latin, which suggests _carrot_ to the Dame. The _O_ is suggested
by its use before the vocative case of nouns in the paradigms in
the _Accidence_, which probably here also agrees with the _Short
Introduction_, where in the first declension we find: "_Vocativo ô
musa_"; in the second: "_Vocativo ô magister_," etc.

William Lilly (or Lily), the author of the Latin Grammar mentioned
on page 105, was born about 1468 and died in 1523. He was an
eminent scholar and the first master of St. Paul's School, London.
His Grammar (written in Latin) was entitled "Brevissima Institutio,
seu, Ratio Grammatices cognoscendæ, ad omnium puerorum utilitatem
præscripta." Of this book more than three hundred editions were
printed, the latest mentioned by Allibone (who, by the way, gives
the title of the Grammar in an imperfect and ungrammatical form)
having been issued in 1817. A copy of the 1651 edition is bound
with the _Short Introduction_ of the same date in the Harvard
Library. Lilly was the author of both.

_You must be preeches._ That is, you must be _breeched_, or
flogged. Compare _The Taming of the Shrew_ (iii. 1. 18), where
Bianca says to her teachers: "I am no breeching scholar in the

_Sprag._ That is, _sprack_, which meant quick, ready. The word
is Scotch, as well as Provincial English, and Scott uses it in
_Waverley_ (chap, xliii.): "all this fine sprack [lively] festivity
and jocularity."

=Page 105.=--_A passage from Terence._ In the play, as in the
Grammar, it reads: "Redime te captum quam queas minimo." The
original Latin is: "Quid agas, nisi ut te redimas captum," etc.

=Page 106.=--_Richard Mulcaster._ The poet Spenser was one of his
pupils at Merchant-Taylors School in 1568 see (Church's _Spenser_
in "English Men of Letters" series). In 1596 Mulcaster became
master of St. Paul's School. He died in 1611. The title of the book
quoted here was _The First Part of the Elementarie ... of the Right
Writing of our English Tung_. The author's theory was better than
his practice, as the specimen of his "right writing" given here
will suffice to show. It is to be hoped that his oral style was
less clumsy and involved.

_Correctors for the print._ Whether this refers to persons
correcting manuscript for the press or to proof-readers is
doubtful, but probably the former. Some have denied that there was
any proof-reading in the Elizabethan age; but variations in copies
of the same edition of a book (the First Folio of Shakespeare,
published in 1623, for instance) prove that corrections in the text
were sometimes made even after the printing had begun. The author
also sometimes did some proof-reading. At the end of Beeton's _Will
of Wit_ (1599) we find this note: "What faults are escaped in the
printing, finde by discretion, and excuse the author, by other
worke that let [hindered] him from attendance to the presse."

_Rip up._ That is, analyze.

=Page 107.=--_The natural English._ That is, natives of England.

_Will not yield flat to theirs._ Will not conform exactly to theirs.

=Page 108.=--_Bewrayeth._ Shows, makes known. Cf. _Proverbs_,
xxvii. 16; _Matthew_, xxvi. 73.

_Enfranchisement._ This evidently refers to the "naturalization" of
foreign words taken into the language, or making their orthography
conform to English usage.

_Prerogative, etc._ This paragraph is somewhat obscure at first
reading; but it appears to mean that _common use_, or established
usage, settles certain questions concerning which there might
otherwise be some doubt.

_Likes the pen._ Suits the pen. Compare _Hamlet_ ii. 2. 80: "it
likes us well"; _Henry V._ iii. prol. 32: "The offer likes not,"

_Particularities._ Peculiarities.

_Which either cannot understand, etc._ The relative is equivalent
to _who_, and refers to the preceding _many_. This use of _which_
was common in Shakespeare's day. Compare _The Tempest_, iii. 1. 6:
"The mistress which I serve," etc.

_Or cannot entend to understand, etc._ That is, cannot _intend_
(of which _entend_ is an obsolete form), but the word is here
used in a sense which is not recognized in the dictionaries. The
meaning seems to be that these "plain people" cannot understand
a rule either at sight or after some effort to comprehend it,
having neither the _time_ nor the _conceit_ (intellect) to master
it. _Conceit_ in this sense is common in Shakespeare and his
contemporaries. Compare _2 Henry IV._ ii. 4. 263: "He a good
wit?... there's no more conceit in him than is in a mallet."

=Page 109.=--_John Brinsley_ became master of the grammar school at
Ashby-de-la-Zouche in 1601, where he remained for sixteen years.
The full title of his book is _Ludus Literarius, or the Grammar
Schoole_ (1612). He writes much better English than Mulcaster, and
young people will find no difficulty in understanding the passage
quoted from him.

_Proceed in learning._ That is, pursue their studies after leaving
the grammar school.

=Page 110.=--_Present correction._ Immediate correction, or
punishment. For this old sense of _present_, compare _2 Henry IV._
iv. 3. 80:--

      "Send Colevile with his confederates
      To York, to present execution."

_Countervail._ Counterbalance, make up for.

=Page 112.=--_Willis._ All that is known of this "R. Willis" is
from his autobiography, the title of which is, "Mount Tabor, or
Private Exercises of a Penitent Sinner, published in the yeare of
his age 75, anno Dom. 1639." He is the same person who is quoted on
page 161 below.

=Page 113.=--_His references to schoolboys, etc._ Perhaps we
ought not to lay much stress on these. The description of "the
whining schoolboy" is from the "Seven Ages" of the cynical Jaques,
who describes all these stages of human life in sneering and
disparaging terms; and the other passages simply refer to the
proverbial dislike of boys to go to school.

=Page 114.=--_Thomas Tusser_ (1527?-1580?) was a poet and writer
on agriculture. Besides his _One Hundred Points of Good Husbandry_
(1557), he wrote _Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry, United to
as Many of Good Wiferie_ (1570), etc. He was educated at Oxford,
spent ten years at court, and then settled on a farm, where the
rest of his life was passed.

=Page 115.=--_In few of Shakespeare's references to school life,
etc._ See on _You must be preeches_, page 227 above; and compare
_Much Ado About Nothing_, ii. 1. 228:--

      "_Don Pedro._ To be whipped? What's his fault?
      _Benedick._ The flat transgression of a schoolboy," etc.

=Page 118.=--_A sanctuary against fear._ The allusion is to those
sacred places in which criminals could take refuge and be exempt
from arrest. There was such a sanctuary within the precincts
of Westminster Abbey, which retained its privileges until the
dissolution of the monastery, and for debtors until 1602. Compare
_Richard III._ (ii. 4. 66), where Queen Elizabeth says: "Come,
come, my boy; we will to sanctuary."

=Page 122.=--_Hoodman-blind._ In _All's Well that Ends Well_ (iv.
3. 136), when Parolles is brought in blindfolded to his companions
in arms, whom he supposes to be enemies that have captured him, one
of them says aside, "Hoodman comes."

_Loggats._ When I was at Amherst College, forty or more years ago,
we had this same exercise under the name of "loggerheads"; but I
have not seen it or heard of it anywhere else.

=Page 125.=--_The spirited description of the horse._ Compare page
147 below, where it is quoted at length.

=Page 126.=--_Alexander Barclay._ See on page 67 above.

_Edmund Waller_ (1605-1687) was an English poet, who was a leader
in the Long Parliament, afterwards exiled for being concerned in
Royalist plots, returned to England under Cromwell, and was a
favorite at court after the Reformation.

=Page 127.=--_The caitch._ _Catch_ was another name for tennis.
_Palle-malle_, or _pall-mall_ (pronounced pel-mel´), was a game in
which a wooden ball was struck with a mallet, to drive it through a
raised iron ring at the end of an alley. It was formerly played in
St. James's Park, London, and gave its name to the street known as
Pall Mall.

_Bishop Butler._ Joseph Butler (1692-1752), bishop of Bristol
and afterwards of Durham, and author of the famous _Analogy of
Religion, etc._ (1736).

_Gifford._ William Gifford (1757-1826), an English critic and
satirical poet, editor of the _Quarterly Review_ from 1809 to 1824.

=Page 130.=--_Mulcaster._ See on page 106 above.

=Page 132.=--_At Kenilworth in 1575._ See page 12 above.

=Page 134.=--_A certain place in Cheshire._ The story is told
of Congleton in that county, but it is denied by the modern
inhabitants. The other place referred to is Ecclesfield in
Yorkshire, and I do not know that the statement concerning the
pawning of the Bible has been disputed.

=Page 135.=--_Paris-garden._ It is mentioned in _Henry VIII._ (v.
4. 2), where the Porter of the Palace Yard says to the crowd:
"You'll leave your noise anon, ye rascals! do you take the
court for Parish-garden?" This was a vulgar pronunciation of
_Paris-garden_. The place was noted for its noise and disorder.

=Page 136.=--_Dean Colet._ John Colet (1456-1519), dean of St.
Paul's in 1505. The school was founded in 1512.

=Page 138.=--_Sir Thomas More._ The well-known English author and
statesman, born in 1473, and executed on Tower Hill in 1535.

_No planets strike._ That is, exert a baleful influence; an
allusion to astrology.

_No fairy takes._ Blasts, or bewitches. Compare _The Merry Wives of
Windsor_, iv. 4. 32: "blasts the tree and takes the cattle," etc.

=Page 140.=--_It irks me._ It is _irksome_ to me, troubles me.

_Fool_ was sometimes used as a term of endearment or pity. Compare
_The Winter's Tale_ (ii. 1. 18), where Hermione says to her women
who are grieved at the unjust charge against her, "Do not weep,
poor fools!"

The _forked heads_ are heads of arrows. Ascham refers to such in
his _Toxophilus_.

=Page 141.=--_A poor sequester'd stag._ Separated from his

=Page 145.=--_Professor Baynes_. Thomas Spencer Baynes (1823-1887),
professor of English Literature at the University of St. Andrews,
Scotland, and editor of the ninth edition of the _Encyclopædia

=Page 146.=--_The vaward of the day._ The _vanguard_, or early part
of the day. Compare _Coriolanus_, i. 6. 53: "Their bands i' the
vaward," etc.

_Such gallant chiding._ The verb _chide_ often meant "to make an
incessant noise." Compare _As You Like It_, ii. 1. 7: "And churlish
chiding of the winter's wind"; _Henry VIII._ iii. 2. 197: "As doth
a rock against the chiding flood," etc.

_So flew'd, so sanded._ Having the same large hanging chaps and the
same sandy color.

_Like bells._ That is, like a chime of bells.

_Tender well._ Take good care of.

_Emboss'd_ was a hunter's term for foaming at the mouth in
consequence of hard running.

_Brach._ The word properly meant a female hound, but came to be
applied to a particular kind of scenting-dog.

=Page 147.=--_In the coldest fault._ When the scent was coldest (or
faintest), and the hounds most at fault. Compare the quotation
from _Venus and Adonis_, page 150 below: "the cold fault."

_He cried upon it at the merest loss._ He gave the cry when the
scent seemed utterly lost. See the passage just referred to. _Mere_
was formerly used in the sense of absolute or complete. Compare
_Othello_, ii. 2. 3: "the mere perdition of the Turkish fleet" (its
entire destruction); _Henry VIII._ iii. 2. 329: "the mere undoing
of the kingdom" (its utter ruin), etc.

_A youthful Work of Shakespeare's._ It was first published in 1593,
when he was twenty-nine years of age; and some critics believe that
it was written several years earlier, perhaps before he went to

=Page 148.=--_Glisters._ Glistens. Both Shakespeare and Milton use
_glister_ several times, _glisten_ not at all.

_Told the steps._ Counted them. Compare _The Winter's Tale_, iv. 4.
185: "He sings several tunes faster than you'll tell money." The
_teller_ in a bank is so called because he does this.

=Page 149.=--_The hairs, who wave_, etc. _Who_ was often used where
we should use _which_, and _which_ (see on page 108 above) where we
should use _who_.

_It yearn'd my heart._ That is, grieved it. Compare _Henry V._ iv.
3. 26: "It yearns me not when men my garments wear," etc.

=Page 150.=--_Jauncing._ Riding hard.

_Musits._ Holes (in fence or hedge) for creeping through. The word,
also spelled _muset_, is a diminutive of the obsolete _muse_, which
means the same. _Amaze_ here means bewilder.

_Wat._ A familiar name for a hare, as _Reynard_ for a fox, etc.

=Page 151.=--_Mr. John R. Wise._ Compare page 26 above.

=Page 155.=--The cut is a fac-simile of one in _The Booke
of Falconrie_ (1575), by George Turbervile, or Turberville
(1520?-1595?), an English poet, translator, and writer on hunting,
hawking, etc.

=Page 156.=--_Cotgrave._ Randle Cotgrave, an English lexicographer,
who died about 1634. His _French-English Dictionary_ (first
published in 1611) is still valuable in the study of French and
English philology.

=Page 159.=--_John Skelton._ An English scholar and poet, a protégé
of Henry VII. and the tutor of Henry VIII. He was born about 1460,
and probably died in 1529. "His rough wit and eccentric character
made him the hero of a book of 'merry tales.'"

=Page 160.=--_Some in their horse._ That is, their horses, the
word here being plural. Plurals and possessives of nouns ending in
_s_-sounds were often written without the additional syllable in
the time of Shakespeare. Cf. _King John_, ii. 1. 289: "Sits on his
horse back at mine hostess' door"; _Merchant of Venice_, iv. 1.
255: "Are there balance here to weigh the flesh?" etc.

=Page 163.=--_William Kemp dancing the Morris._ Kemp was a favorite
comic actor in the latter years of the reign of Elizabeth. He
acted in some of Shakespeare's plays and in some of Ben Jonson's,
when they were first put upon the stage. In 1599 he journeyed from
London to Norwich, dancing the Morris all the way. The next year
he published an account of the exploit, entitled _The Nine daies
wonder_. The cut here is a fac-simile of one on the title-page of
this pamphlet. It represents Kemp, with his attendant, Tom the
Piper, playing on the pipe and tabor. They spent four weeks on
the journey, nine days of which were occupied in the dancing. At
Chelmsford the crowd assembled to receive them was so great that
they were an hour in making their way through it to their lodgings.
At this town "a maid not passing fourteen years of age" challenged
Kemp to dance the Morris with her "in a great large room," and held
out a whole hour, at the end of which he was "ready to lie down"
from exhaustion. On another occasion a "lusty country lass" wanted
to try her skill with him, and "footed it merrily to Melford, being
a long mile." Between Bury and Thetford he performed the ten miles
in three hours. On portions of the journey the roads were very
bad, and his dancing was frequently interrupted by the hospitality
or importunity of the people along the route. At Norwich he was
received as an honored guest by the mayor of the city.

=Page 168.=--_Corresponded to our 3d of May._ The difference
between Old and New Style in reckoning dates, and the fact that the
Gregorian Calendar (or New Style) was not adopted in England until
1752, or nearly two hundred years after it was accepted by Catholic
nations on the Continent, have often led historians, biographers,
and other writers into mistakes concerning dates in the 16th, 17th,
and 18th centuries. For instance, it has been often asserted that
Shakespeare and the Spanish dramatist Cervantes died on the same
day, April 23, 1616; but Shakespeare actually died ten days later
than his great contemporary, New Style having been adopted in Spain
in 1582. If we were certain that Shakespeare was born on the 23d of
April, 1564, we ought now to celebrate the anniversary of his birth
on the 3d of May. As we do not know the precise date of his birth,
and the 23d of April has come to be generally recognized as the
anniversary, there is no particular reason for changing it.

_Richard Johnson._ He was born in 1573 and died about 1659. He is
chiefly noted as the author of this _Famous History of the Seven
Champions of Christendom_. These, according to him, were St. George
of England, St. Denis of France, St. James of Spain, St. Antony
of Italy, St. Andrew of Scotland, St. Patrick of Ireland, and St.
David of Wales.

_Mr. A. H. Wall_, of Stratford-on-Avon, was for several years
the librarian of the Shakespeare Memorial Library there, and is
the author of many scholarly articles in English periodicals on
subjects connected with Shakespeare and Warwickshire.

_The Percy Reliques._ A collection of old ballads, entitled
_Reliques of Ancient English Poetry_ (1765), made by Thomas Percy
(1729-1811), a clergyman (in 1782 made Bishop of Dromore in
Ireland) and poet.

=Page 170.=--_Chambers._ These are mentioned in more than one
account of the burning of the Globe Theatre in London, on the 29th
of June, 1613, when, as the critics generally agree, Shakespeare's
_Henry VIII._ was the play being performed. A letter written by
John Chamberlain to Sir Ralph Winwood, describing the fire, says
that it "fell out by a peale of chambers," and a letter from
Thomas Lorkin to Sir Thomas Puckering, dated "this last of June,
1613," says: "No longer since than yesterday, while Bourbege[6]
his companie were acting at y^e Globe the play of Hen=8, and
there shooting of certayne chambers in way of triumph, the fire
catch'd." Another account states that these cannon were fired on
King Henry's arrival at Cardinal Wolsey's house; and the original
stage-direction in _Henry VIII._ (iv. 1.) orders "chambers
discharged" at the entrance of the king to the "mask at the
cardinal's house."

=Page 171.=--_Ambrose Dudley._ He was born about 1530, made Earl of
Warwick when Elizabeth came to the throne, and died in 1589.

=Page 172.=--_The Cage._ This house, on the corner of Fore Bridge
Street (see map on page 42), was occupied by Thomas Quiney
after he married Judith Shakespeare. "The house has long been
modernized, the only existing portions of the ancient building
being a few massive beams supporting the floor over the cellar"

=Page 173.=--_Sir Thomas Browne_ (1605-1682) was an eminent
physician and author. Among his books were the _Religio Medici_
(1643), _Vulgar Errors_ (1646), etc.

_Sir John Suckling_ (baptized Feb. 10, 1609, and supposed to have
died by suicide at Paris about 1642) was a Royalist poet in the
Court of Charles I. He wrote some plays, but is best known by his
minor poems, one of the most noted of which is the _Ballad upon a

=Page 174.=--_Izaak Walton_ (1593-1683) is famous as the author
of _The Complete Angler_ (1653), one of the classics of our
literature. He also wrote Lives of Donne, Hooker, Herbert, and
other English divines.

_Richard Hooker_ (1553?-1600) was a celebrated theologian, author
of _Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity_, four books of which appeared in
1592, a fifth in 1597, and the remaining three after his death.

=Page 180.=--_Warner's Albion's England._ William Warner
(1558?-1609) was the author of _Albion's England_ (1586), a rhymed
history of the country, and the translator of the _Menæchmi_ of the
Latin dramatist Plautus (1595), on which Shakespeare founded the
plot of the _Comedy of Errors_.

=Page 182.=--_Watchet-colored._ Light blue. Compare Spenser, _F.
Q._ iii. 4. 40: "Their watchet mantles frindgd with silver rownd."

_Like a wild Morisco._ That is, a morris-dancer. The quotation is
from _2 Henry VI._ iii. 1. 365:--

                            "I have seen
      Him caper upright like a wild Morisco,
      Shaking the bloody darts as he his bells."

=Page 183.=--_The featliest of dancers._ The most dexterous.
Compare _The Winter's Tale_, iv. 4. 176: "She dances featly"; and
_The Tempest_, i. 2. 380: "Foot it featly," etc.

_William Browne_ (1591-1643?) published book i. of _Britannia's
Pastorals_ in 1613. He also wrote _The Shepherd's Pipe_ (1614) and
other poems.

=Page 184.=--_A carved hook_, that is, a shepherd's crook (called
a "sheep-hook" in _The Winter's Tale_, iv. 4. 431), as the _scrip_
is his pouch or wallet. Compare _As You Like It_ (iii. 2. 171),
where Touchstone says to Corin: "Come, shepherd, let us make an
honourable retreat; though not with bag and baggage, yet with scrip
and scrippage."

_John Aubrey_ (1626-1697), besides assisting Anthony Wood in his
_Antiquities of Oxford_ (1674), wrote _Miscellanies_, a collection
of short stories and other tales of the supernatural.

=Page 185.=--_The Puritan Stubbes._ Concerning this Philip Stubbes
little appears to be known except that he was educated at Oxford
and Cambridge, but became a rigid Puritan, and wrote several books
besides the famous _Anatomie of Abuses_.

_Richard Carew_ (1555-1620) was a poet and antiquarian, and for a
time high sheriff of Cornwall.

=Page 186.=--_Pageants._ The word in Shakespeare's day was
generally applied to theatrical entertainments.

_Play the woman's part._ Female parts were played by boys or young
men until after the middle of the 17th century. Samuel Pepys,
in his _Diary_, under date of January 3, 1660, writes: "To the
Theatre, where was acted 'Beggar's Brush,' it being very well done;
and here the first time that ever I saw women come upon the stage."
Again, under February 12, 1660, he records a performance of _The
Scornful Lady_, adding: "now done by a woman, which makes the play
appear much better than ever it did to me."

_Made her weep a-good._ That is, heartily.

_Passioning._ Grieving, lamenting. Compare _Venus and Adonis_,
1059: "Dumbly she passions," etc.

=Page 190.=--_Steevens._ George Steevens (1736-1800) was an
eccentric but accomplished editor and critic. "He was often
wantonly mischievous, and delighted to stumble for the mere
gratification of dragging unsuspicious innocents into the mire with
him. He was, in short, the very Puck of commentators."

_John Heywood_ (1500?-1580) was a dramatist and epigrammatist. His
interludes "prepared the way for English comedy," the characters
having some individuality instead of being mere walking virtues
and vices. Of these plays _The Four P's_ (printed between 1543
and 1547) is the best known. The characters that give it the
name are a Palmer, a Pardoner, a Potecary (apothecary) and a
Pedlar. A _palmer_ was a pilgrim to the Holy Land, so called from
the palm-branch he brought back in token of having performed
the journey. A _pardoner_ was a person licensed to sell papal
indulgences, or _pardons_.

_No night is now_, etc. The quotation is from _A Midsummer-Night's
Dream_, ii. 1. 102.

=Page 191.=--_Housen._ An obsolete plural of _house_, formed like
_oxen_, etc.

=Page 192.=--_The offices._ The rooms in an old English mansion
where provisions are kept; that is, the pantry, kitchen, etc.

_Waes-hael._ Anglo-Saxon for "Be hale (whole, or well)," equivalent
to "Here's to your health." _Wassail_ is a corruption of this
salutation, which from this meaning was transferred to festive
gatherings where it was used, and then to the liquor served on such
occasions--generally, spiced ale.

_The tenant of Ingon._ When Knight wrote this, fifty or more
years ago, he supposed that a certain John Shakespeare who in
1570 held a farm known as _Ingon_ or _Ington_, in the parish of
Hampton Lucy near Stratford, was the poet's father; but that he
was one of the many other Shakespeares in Warwickshire (see page
207 below) appears from an entry in the parish register at Hampton
Lucy, showing that he was buried on the 25th of September, 1589.
The poet's father lived until September, 1601, his funeral being
registered as having taken place on the 8th of that month. There
was another John Shakespeare, a shoemaker, who was a resident of
Stratford from about 1584 to about 1594. In the town records he is
generally called the "shumaker," or "corvizer" (an obsolete word of
the same meaning), or "cordionarius" (the Latin equivalent); but
occasionally he appears simply as "John Shakspere," and some of
these entries were formerly supposed to refer to the father of the

_The Lord of Misrule._ The person chosen to direct the Christmas
sports and revels. His sovereignty lasted during the twelve days of
the holiday season. Stow, in his _Survey of London_ (see on page 82
above), says: "In the feast of Christmas, there was in the king's
house, wheresoever he lodged, a Lord of Misrule, or Master of Merry
Disports, and the like had ye in the house of every nobleman of
honour or good worship, were he spiritual or temporal." Stubbes
(see on page 185 above) inveighed against the practice in his usual
bitter way: "First, all the wild heads of the parish, conventing
together, choose them a grand captain (of mischief) whom they
innoble with the title of my Lord of Misrule, and him they crown
with great solemnity, and adopt for their king. This king anointed
chooseth forth twenty, forty, three score, or a hundred lusty guts
like to himself, to wait upon his lordly majesty, and to guard his
noble person. Then every one of these his men he investeth with his
liveries, of green, yellow, or some other light wanton color....
And they have their hobby-horses, dragons, and other antics,
together with their bawdy pipers and thundering drummers, to strike
up the devil's dance withal; ... and in this sort they go to the
church (though the minister be at prayer or preaching) dancing
and swinging their handkerchiefs over their heads in the church,
like devils incarnate, with such a confused noise that no man can
hear his own voice.... Then after this, about the church they go
again and again, and so forth into the churchyard, where they have
commonly their summer halls, their bowers, arbors, and banqueting
houses set up, wherein they feast, banquet, and dance all that day,
and (peradventure) all that night too. And thus these terrestrial
furies spend their Sabbath day." He goes on to tell how the people
give money, food, and drink for these festivities, and adds: "but
if they knew that, as often as they bring any to the maintenance
of these execrable pastimes, they offer sacrifice to the Devil and
Sathanas [Satan], they would repent, and withdraw their hands,
which God grant they may." The Lords of Misrule in colleges were
preached against at Cambridge by the Puritans in the reign of
James I. as inconsistent with a place of religious education, and
as a relic of Pagan worship. In Scotland, the "Abbot of Unreason"
(as the Lord of Misrule was called there), with other festive
characters, was suppressed by legislation as early as 1555. Thomas
Fuller (1608-1681), in his _Good Thoughts in Worse Times_ (1647),
says: "Some sixty years since, in the University of Cambridge,
it was solemnly debated betwixt the heads [of the colleges] to
debar young scholars of that liberty allowed them in Christmas,
as inconsistent with the discipline of students. But some grave
governors mentioned the good use thereof, because thereby, in
twelve days, they more discover the dispositions of scholars than
in twelve months before."

=Page 193.=--_The Clopton who is gone._ William Clopton, whose tomb
is in the north aisle of Stratford Church. He was the father of the
William Clopton of Shakespeare's boyhood, who resided at Clopton
House, an ancient mansion less than two miles from Stratford on the
brow of the Welcombe Hills. It is still standing, though long ago
modernized. It is said to have been originally surrounded with a
moat, like the "moated grange" of _Measure for Measure_ (iii. 1.

_To burn this night with torches._ That is, to prolong the
festivities. The quotation is from _Antony and Cleopatra_, iv. 2.

_John Dyer_ (1700-1758) was an English poet, author of _Grongar
Hill_ (1727), _The Ruins of Rome_ (1740), etc.


=Page 194.=--_Flawns._ A kind of custard-pie. Compare Ben Jonson,
_Sad Shepherdess_, i. 2:--

      "Fall to your cheese-cakes, curds, and clouted cream,
      Your fools, your flawns," etc.

The _fools_ were also a kind of custard, or fruit with whipped
cream, etc. _Gooseberry-fool_ is still an English dish.

=Page 195.=--_The cost of the sheep-shearing feast._ Mr. Knight
makes a little slip here. The Clown, on his way to buy materials
for the feast, tries to reckon up mentally what the _wool_ from the
shearing will bring. "Let me see," he says; "every 'leven wether
tods [that is, yields a _tod_, or 28 pounds of wool]; every tod
yields pound and odd shilling; fifteen hundred shorn,--what comes
the wool to?" Then, after vainly attempting to make out what the
amount will be, he adds: "I cannot do 't without counters" (round
pieces of metal used in reckoning), and, giving up the problem,
turns to considering what he is to buy for his sister: "Let me
see; what am I to buy for our sheep-shearing feast? Three pound of
sugar, five pound of currants, rice,--what will this sister of mine
do with rice? But my father hath made her mistress of the feast,
and she lays it on. She hath made me four-and-twenty nosegays for
the shearers,--three-man songmen all, and very good ones; but they
are most of them means and bases; but one Puritan amongst them, and
he sings psalms to hornpipes. I must have saffron to colour the
warden pies; mace, dates--none; that's out of my note: nutmegs,
seven; a race or two of ginger,--but that I may beg; four pound of
prunes, and as many of raisins o' the sun." _Three-man songmen_
are singers of catches in three parts. _Means_ are tenors. _Warden
pies_ are pies made of _wardens_, a kind of large pears, which were
usually baked or roasted. A _race_ of ginger is a root of it; and
_raisins o' the sun_ are raisins dried in the sun.

=Page 196.=--_Paul Hentzner._ He was a native of Silesia
(1558-1623) who wrote a _Journey through Germany, France, Italy,

_Matthew Stevenson_ wrote several other books in prose and verse,
published between 1654 and 1673.

_The furmenty-pot._ The word _furmenty_ is a corruption of
_frumenty_ (see page 197), which is derived from the Latin
_frumentum_, meaning wheat. The hulled wheat, boiled in milk and
seasoned, was a popular dish in England, as it still is in the
rural districts.

_Robert Herrick_ (1591-1674) was an English lyric poet. The
_Hesperides_ was his most important work. A complete edition of his
poems, edited by Mr. Grosart, was published in 1876.

=Page 197.=--_A mawkin._ A kitchen-wench, or other menial servant.
The word is only a phonetic spelling of _malkin_, which Shakespeare
has in _Coriolanus_, ii. 1. 224: "the kitchen malkin." Compare
Tennyson, _The Princess_, v. 25:--

      "If this be he,--or a draggled mawkin, thou,
      That tends her bristled grunters in the sludge;"

that is, a female swineherd.

_Prank them up._ Adorn themselves.

_The fill-horse._ The word _fill_, for the _thills_ or shafts of a
vehicle, used by Shakespeare and other writers of that day, is now
obsolete in England, though still current in New England. _Cross_
means to make the sign of the cross upon or over the animal.

=Page 199.=--_Sheffield whittles._ Knives made at Sheffield.
Chaucer, in the _Canterbury Tales_ (3931) refers to a "Shefeld
thwitel," or whittle. Compare Shakespeare, _Timon of Athens_, v. 1.
173: "There's not a whittle in the unruly camp," etc.

_Rings with posies._ Rings with mottoes inscribed inside them.
_Posy_ is the same word as _poesy_, which we also find used in
this sense. Compare _Hamlet_, iii. 2. 162: "Is this a prologue, or
the poesy of a ring?" The fashion of putting such posies on rings
prevailed from the middle of the 16th century to the close of the
17th. In 1624 a little book was published with the title, _Love's
Garland, or Posies for Rings, Handkerchiefs, and Gloves; and such
pretty tokens, that lovers send their loves_. Compare page 53 above.

=Page 201.=--_Qui est la?_ Who is there? (French). The reply is,
"Peasants, poor French people."

_Whipped three market-days._ For some petty offence he had

=Page 202.=--_Wick-yarn._ For making wicks for the oil-lamps then
in common use. It was a familiar article in this country fifty
years ago, when whale-oil was used for household illumination.

_Napery._ Linen for domestic use, especially table-linen.

_Inkles, caddises, coifs, stomachers, pomanders_, etc. All
these things are found in the peddler's pack of Autolycus in
_The Winter's Tale_ (iv. 4). Compare page 204 below. _Caddises_
are worsted ribbons, or galloons. _Inkles_ are a kind of tape.
_Pomanders_ were little balls made of perfumes, and worn in the
pocket or about the neck, for the sake of the fragrance or as
a mere ornament, and sometimes to prevent infection in times of

_The ivy-bush._ A bush or tuft of ivy was in olden time the sign of
a vintner. Compare the cut of the Morris-Dance, opposite page 178.
The old proverb, "Good wine needs no bush" (_As You Like It_, v.
epil.), means that a place where good wine is kept needs no sign to
attract customers. Gascoigne, in his _Glass of Government_ (1575),
says: "Now a days the good wyne needeth none ivye garland."

=Page 203.=--_The juggler with his ape._ The ape being used to
perform tricks, as monkeys are nowadays by organ-grinders to amuse
their street audiences. In _The Winter's Tale_ (iv. 3. 101) the
Clown says of Autolycus: "I know this man well: he hath been since
an ape-bearer"; that is, he carried round a trained ape as a show.

_Cantabanqui._ Strolling ballad-singers; literally, persons
who sing upon a bench (from the Italian _catambanco_, formerly
_cantinbanco_). Compare Sir Henry Taylor, _Philip van Artevelde_,
i. 3. 2:--

      "He was no tavern cantabank that made it,
      But a squire minstrel of your Highness' court."

_The Tale of Sir Topas._ One of Chaucer's _Canterbury Tales_, _The
Rime of Sir Topas_, a burlesque upon the metrical romances of the
time. It is written in ballad form.

_Bevis of Southampton._ A fabulous hero of the time of William the
Conqueror. He is mentioned in _Henry VIII._ i. 1. 38:--

                "that former fabulous story,
      Being now seen possible enough, got credit,
      That Bevis was believed;"

that is, _so_ that the old romantic legend became credible. In
_2 Henry VI._, after the words (ii. 3. 89), "have at thee with a
downright blow," some editors add from the old play on which this
is founded: "as Bevis of Southampton fell upon Ascapart," a giant
whom he was said to have conquered. Figures of Bevis and Ascapart
formerly adorned the Bar-gate at Southampton, as shown in the cut
on the next page; but when the gate was repaired some years ago
they were removed to the museum.

_Adam Bell and Clymme of the Clough_ (that is, of the Cliff) figure
in a popular old ballad, which may be found in Percy's _Reliques_.

_The woolen statute-caps._ Caps which, by Act of Parliament in
1571, the citizens were required to wear on Sundays and holidays.
The nobility were exempt from the requirement, which, as Strype
informs us, was "in behalf of the trade of cappers"--one of sundry
such "protection" measures in the time of Elizabeth. Compare
_Love's Labour's Lost_, v. 2. 282: "Well, better wits have worn
plain statute-caps." As Knight intimates here, the law was a very
unpopular one.


_The Wife of Bath's husbands._ Alluding to the _Wife of Bath_, one
of Chaucer's Canterbury pilgrims. In the prologue to her tale, she
says of her husbands (of whom she had five in succession):--

      "I governed hem so wel after my lawe,
      That eche of hem ful blisful was and fawe [fain, or glad]
      To bringen me gay things fro the feyre."

That is, as she goes on to explain, they were glad to bring her
presents from the fair to keep her in good humor, as otherwise she
was apt to treat them "spitously," or spitefully.

_Where a coxcomb will be broke._ That is, a head will be broken;
but it should be understood that this does not mean a fractured
skull, but merely a bruise sufficient to break the skin and make
the blood flow. Shakespearian critics have sometimes misapprehended
this and similar expressions. In _Romeo and Juliet_ (i. 2. 52),
where the hero says, "Your plantain-leaf is excellent for that"
(referring to a "broken shin"), Ulrici, the eminent German
commentator, thinks that he must be speaking ironically, as
plantain "was used to stop the blood, but not for a fracture of
a bone." Compare _Twelfth Night_, v. 1. 178, where Sir Andrew
says: "He has broke my head across and has given Sir Toby a bloody
coxcomb too."

=Page 206.=--_Junkets._ The word here means sweetmeats or

_Properties._ In the theatrical sense of stage requisites, such as
costumes and other equipments and appointments.

_Incurious._ Not _curious_, in the original sense of _careful_; not
fastidious, and therefore pleased with these inferior actors.

_And possess._ The subject of _possess_ is omitted, after the loose
fashion of the time, being obviously implied in _rustics_. Compare
_Hamlet_, iii. 1. 8:--

      "Nor do we find him forward to be sounded,
      But with a crafty madness keeps aloof";

that is, _he_ keeps aloof.

=Page 207.=--_We see not its workings._ We see the results, but not
the processes by which they have been brought about.

_The "green lap" in which the boy poet was "laid."_ The quotations
are from the passage referring to Shakespeare in _The Progress of
Poesy_ by Thomas Gray (1716-1771):--

        "Far from the sun and summer gale,
      In thy green lap was Nature's darling laid,
      What time, where lucid Avon stray'd,
      To him the mighty mother did unveil
      Her awful face; the dauntless child
      Stretch'd forth his little arms and smil'd.
      'This pencil take,' she said, 'whose colors clear
      Richly paint the vernal year:
      Thine too these golden keys, immortal boy!
      This can unlock the gates of joy;
      Of horror that, and thrilling fears,
      Or ope the sacred fount of sympathetic tears.'"

_The name of Shakespeare was very common._ See note on _The tenant
of Ingon_, page 192, above.

=Page 208.=--_Volumes have been written on the plant-lore_, etc.
The best of these is Rev. H. N. Ellacombe's _Plant-Lore and
Garden-craft of Shakespeare_, which is quoted on the next page.

_Apricocks._ An old form of _apricots_.

=Page 209.=--_In the compass of a pale._ Within the limits of an
enclosure, or walled garden.

_Knots._ Interlacing beds. Compare Milton, P. L. iv. 242: "In beds
and curious knots"; and _Love's Labour's Lost_, i. 1. 249: "thy
curious-knotted garden."

_He that hath suffer'd_, etc. King Richard.

_At time of year._ That is, at the proper season.

_Confound itself._ Ruin or destroy itself. Compare _The Merchant of
Venice_, iii. 2. 278:--

                        "Never did I know
      A creature that did bear the shape of man
      So keen and greedy to confound a man."

=Page 210.=--_To prove his real profession._ Books and essays have
been written to prove Shakespeare's intimate knowledge of various
professions and occupations--law, medicine, military science,
seamanship, etc.


=Page 21.=--_The letters E. R._ Young readers may need to be
informed that these letters stand for _Elizabeth Regina_ (Latin for
_Queen_). See cut on next page.

=Page 37.=--_The elder Robert of Stratford._ Sidney Lee says:
"Robert, the father of the prelates Robert and John, was a
well-to-do inhabitant of Stratford, who appears to have set his
sons an example in local works of benevolence. He it is to whom
has been attributed the foundation, in 1296, of the chapel of the
guild, and of the hospital or almshouses attached to it."

=Page 59.=--_Old House on High Street._ This house, the finest
example of Elizabethan architecture in Stratford, and one of
the best in England, was built in 1596 by Thomas Rogers, whose
daughter, Katherine, married Robert Harvard, a butcher in the
parish of St. Saviour in London, and became the mother of John
Harvard, the early benefactor of Harvard College from whom it took
its name. The house of Thomas Rogers was nearly opposite New
Place, the residence of Shakespeare in his later years; and Mr.
Rogers and his daughter doubtless knew the dramatist as a famous
neighbor of theirs, and may have seen him on the stage. The cut
on page 59 gives no adequate idea of the elaborate carving on the
front; but this is well shown in the full-page heliotype in Mr.
Henry F. Waters's _Genealogical Gleanings in England_, where these
facts concerning the parentage of John Harvard first appeared.
On the front of the house, under the second-story window, is the

      TR                1596                AR

The "AR" doubtless stands for Alice Rogers, the second wife of
Thomas. This proves that the second marriage occurred before
1596. Mr. Waters found no record of the burial of the first wife,
Margaret, but that of Alice was on the 17th of August, 1608, and
that of her husband on the 20th of February, 1610-11. The Globe
Theatre, of which Shakespeare was a shareholder, stood in the
parish of St. Saviour. Robert Harvard died in 1625, and was buried
in St. Saviour's Church. His widow appears to have been married
twice (to John Elletson and Richard Yearwood) before her death in
1635; but the date of the Elletson marriage (Jan. 19, 1625) given
by Mr. Waters cannot be correct if that of Robert Harvard's death
(Aug. 24, 1625) is right.

=Page 89.=--_Adonai or Elohim._ Hebrew names for Jehovah, or God.

=Page 112.=--_Shrewd turns._ That is, evil turns (chances or
happenings). Cf. _Henry VIII._ v. 3. 176:--

      "The common voice, I see, is verified
      Of thee, which says thus, 'Do my Lord of Canterbury
      A shrewd turn, and he is your friend for ever';"

that is, he returns good for evil. Compare _As You Like It_, v. 4.

      "And after, every [every one] of this happy number
      That have endur'd shrewd days and nights with us
      Shall share the good of our returned fortune;"

and Chaucer, _Tale of Melibæus_: "The prophete saith: Flee
shrewdnesse, and do goodnesse," etc.

=Page 162.=--_A sergeant at-arms his mace._ In Old English _his_
was often put in this way after proper names, which had no
genitive (or possessive) inflection. In the 16th century it came
to be used frequently in place of the possessive ending -_s_. It
was occasionally used in the 17th and 18th centuries, when some
grammarians adopted the false theory that the possessive ending
was a contraction of _his_. The construction occurs now and then
in Shakespeare; as in _Twelfth Night_, iii. 3. 26: "the count his
galleys," etc.

=Page 191.=--_An age of music._ Such was the Elizabethan age.
Shakespeare himself had a hearty love of music, and evidently a
good knowledge of the science, as the many allusions to it in
his works abundantly prove. No less than thirty-two of the plays
contain interesting references to music and musical matters in the
text; and there are also over three hundred stage-directions of
a musical nature scattered through thirty-six of the plays. Mr.
Edward W. Naylor, in his _Shakespeare and Music_ (London, 1896),
says: "We find that in the 16th and 17th centuries a practical
acquaintance with music was a regular part of the education of the
sovereign, gentlemen of rank, and the higher middle class.... There
is plenty of evidence that the lower classes were as enthusiastic
about music as the higher. A large number of passages in
contemporary authors show clearly that singing in parts (especially
of 'catches') was a common amusement with blacksmiths, colliers,
cloth-workers, cobblers, tinkers, watchmen, country-parsons, and
soldiers.... If ever a country deserved to be called musical,
that country was England in the 16th and 17th centuries. King and
courtier, peasant and ploughman, each could 'take his part,' with
each music was a part of his daily life.... In this respect, at any
rate, the 'good old days' were indeed better than those we now see.
Even a _public-house song_ in Elizabeth's day was a canon in three
parts, a thing which could only be managed 'first time through'
nowadays by the very first rank of professional singers."

=Page 204.=--_Sweet hearts._ This must not be supposed to be a
misprint for _Sweethearts_, which was originally two words and
often used as a tender or affectionate address. _Sweetheart_ occurs
in Shakespeare only in _The Winters Tale_, iv. 4. 664: "take your
sweetheart's hat," etc.


[6] Richard Burbage (1567?-1619) was a noted English actor. He
made his fame at the Blackfriars and the Globe, of which he was a
proprietor. He excelled in tragedy, and is said to have been the
original Hamlet, Lear, and Othello. He was a painter as well as an
actor. When this fire occurred at the Globe Theatre, he narrowly
escaped with his life.


  A-B-C book, 101.

  abracadabra, 88.

  absey, 102.

  Adam Bell, 203, 241.

  Adonai, 245.

  a-good, 236.

  ale-tasters, 40.

  Alveston, 28, 31.

  Ambrose, Earl of Warwick, 75, 171.

  amulets, 87.

  amusements, indoor, 67.

  Anne, Lady, 8.

  apricocks, 208, 244.

  archery, 142.

  Arden, Forest of, 222.

  Arden, Richard, 53.

  articles (in grammar), 226.

  Ascham, Roger, 96, 115, 143, 224.

  ash-tree (in charms), 89.

  Aubrey, John, 184, 236.

  Avon, the, 24.

  backgammon, 70.

  bait (in hawking), 157.

  ball-games, 123.

  Bancroft, the, 45.

  Barclay, Alexander, 126, 230.

  barley-break, 124.

  base-ball, 123.

  bat-fowling, 153.

  bay-leaf (as charm), 90.

  Baynes, Professor, 145, 231.

  Bear (of Warwick), 4.

  bear-baiting, 132.

  bearing-cloth, 82.

  Beauchamp, Richard, 7, 9.

  Beauchamp, Thomas, 7.

  beer, 58.

  bells (of hawk), 157.

  beshrew, 223.

  Bevis, 203, 241.

  bewrayeth, 228.

  bid a base, 125.

  bird-bolt, 145.

  blind-man's-buff, 122.

  Bolingbroke, Henry, 15.

  bone-fires, 187.

  _Book of Riddles_, 67, 71.

  _Books of Nurture_, 60.

  books, popular, 71.

  _bordarii_, 28.

  bottom (of thread), 73.

  boundary elm, 174.

  brach, 231.

  bread, 58.

  bride-ale, 184.

  Brinsley, John, 66, 109, 229.

  broken coxcomb, 203, 242.

  Browne, Sir Thomas, 173, 235.

  Browne, William, 183, 235.

  Bullein, William, 56, 219.

  Burbage, Richard, 234.

  Bursall, Thomas, 33.

  Burton, Robert, 57, 90, 127, 219, 224.

  Butler, Bishop, 127, 230.

  butts, 41, 217.

  caddises, 202, 240.

  Cage, the, 172, 234.

  caitch, 230.

  calendars, 223.

  cankers (=canker-worms), 79, 222.

  _cantabanqui_, 203, 241.

  cappers, 16, 215.

  caps, statute, 41, 203, 242.

  caraways, 62, 83, 219, 223.

  card-playing, 69.

  _caret_, 227.

  Carew, Richard, 185, 236.

  chambers (cannon), 170, 234.

  changelings, 84.

  chantry, 32, 216.

  Chapel Lane, 45.

  Charlecote Hall, 19.

  charms, 87.

  chess, 71, 221.

  chiding, 231.

  children, training of, 60.

  chimneys, 51.

  chrisom, 81.

  Christ Cross row, 101.

  christenings, 80.

  christening shirts, 82.

  Christmas, 190.

  clap in the clout, 144.

  Clopton House, 192.

  Clopton, Hugh, 33, 192.

  Clopton, William, 193, 238.

  closely (=secretly), 161.

  Clymme of the Clough, 203, 241.

  cock-fighting, 136.

  cock-throwing, 138.

  Colbrand, 10, 11.

  coldest fault, 231.

  Colet, Dean, 136, 231.

  compass of a pale, 209, 244.

  conceit (=intellect), 229.

  confound (=ruin), 209, 244.

  Corporation, Stratford, 39.

  correctors for the print, 228.

  Coryat, Thomas, 55, 219.

  Cotgrave, Randle, 156, 232.

  Cotsall, 147.

  cottagers (feudal), 28.

  counters, 239.

  countervail, 229.

  coursing, 147.

  Coventry, 4, 14.

  Coventry churches, 215.

  coxcomb (=head), 203, 242.

  craft-guilds, 34.

  craven, 137.

  cried upon it, 232.

  cross-row, 101.

  curtsy, 61, 219.

  dagswain, 54.

  deer-stealing, 21.

  detest (=detested), 220.

  dill (in magic), 222.

  discovered (=uncovered), 162.

  Drayton, Michael, 3, 123, 213.

  drink-hael, 192.

  drinks, 58.

  ducking-stool, 40.

  Dudley, Ambrose, 75, 171, 234.

  Dudley, Robert, 7, 12.

  Dugdale, William, 4, 16, 213.

  dun cow, the, 10, 214.

  Dun in the mire, 127.

  dwelling-houses, 49.

  Dyer, John, 193, 238.

  Easter, 172.

  elder-tree (in charms), 89.

  Ellacombe, H. N., 209, 244.

  Elohim, 245.

  embossed, 231.

  enfranchisement, 228.

  English, neglect of, 106.

  entend, 228.

  enter children, to, 220.

  E. R., 21, 244.

  erring, 222.

  Eton, May-day at, 178.

  Eton, whipping at, 114.

  evil eye, the, 85.

  extravagant, 222.

  eyas, 154.

  fairing, 204.

  fairs, 30, 198, 201.

  fairy rings, 222.

  falconet, 156.

  featliest, 235.

  fern-seed, 188.

  Field, Henry, 53.

  fill-horse, 240.

  filliping the toad, 139.

  fishing, 132.

  flawns, 239.

  flewed, 231.

  flight (arrow), 145.

  fond (=foolish), 117.

  food, 57.

  fool (a dish), 239.

  fool (in pity), 231.

  foot-ball, 125.

  forehand shaft, 144.

  forked heads (of arrows), 231.

  forks, 55, 66.

  Forman, Simon, 22, 215.

  _Four Sons of Aymon, The_, 67, 71.

  fowling, 151.

  Friar Tuck, 179, 180, 221.

  frumenty, 239.

  furmenty, 239.

  furniture, household, 52.

  Furnivall, F. J., 66, 194.

  games and sports, 121.

  garden-craft in Shakespeare, 208.

  gardens, Stratford, 51.

  Gastrell, Rev. Francis, 51, 218.

  George, Duke of Clarence, 9, 38.

  _Gesta Romanorum_, 77, 221.

  Gifford, William, 127, 230.

  Giletta of Narbonne, 76, 221.

  glisters, 232.

  Godiva, 19.

  gospel-trees, 174.

  gossips' feast, 82.

  Grammar School, Stratford, 38, 95.

  Greene, Robert, 90, 224.

  Guild chapel, 37, 96, 102, 202.

  Guild, the Stratford, 34.

  Guy of Warwick, 5, 9, 67, 71, 203.

  Guy's Cliff, 9.

  haggard (noun), 154.

  handkerchiefs, 65.

  handy-dandy, 129.

  hang-hog, 226.

  hare-hunting, 150.

  Harrison, William, 52, 54, 58, 199, 218.

  harry-racket, 122.

  Harsnet, Samuel, 224.

  harvest-home, 195.

  hawking, 153.

  Hell-mouth, 17.

  Hentzner, Paul, 196, 239.

  Herod (in old plays), 17, 215.

  Heron, Robert, 86, 223.

  Herrick, Robert, 196, 206, 240.

  herse, 214.

  Heywood, John, 190, 236.

  hide-and-seek, 122.

  hock-cart, 197.

  hooded (hawk), 156.

  hoodman-blind, 122, 230.

  hook (=shepherd's crook), 235.

  Hooker, Richard, 174, 235.

  hopharlots, 54.

  horn-book, 96.

  horse, description of, 147.

  horse (plural), 160, 232.

  housen, 237.

  _Hundred Merry Tales, The_, 67, 71.

  Hunt, Thomas, 96, 115.

  hunting, 145.

  imp (=child), 7, 214.

  incurious, 243.

  Ingon, 192, 237.

  inhooped, 137.

  inkles, 240.

  irks, 231.

  ivy-bush (vintner's sign), 241.

  James I. (his _Demonology_), 91.

  jauncing, 232.

  jesses, 157.

  John of Stratford, 31, 32.

  Johnson, Richard, 234.

  joint-stools, 53.

  Jones, Dr. John, 75, 221.

  Jonson, Ben, 81, 118, 127, 188.

  juggler (with ape), 241.

  junkets, 243.

  Kemp, William, 233.

  Kenilworth, 4, 12, 132, 230.

  Knight, Charles, 172, 181, 194, 202, 221.

  knots (in garden), 207, 244.

  lamb-ale, 184.

  Laneham, Robert, 13, 215.

  Latin (at school), 103.

  Latin (in exorcisms), 98, 225.

  latten, 81.

  laund, 222.

  leet-ale, 184.

  leets, 40, 43, 184.

  let down the wind, 157.

  likes (=suits), 228.

  lill-lill, 124.

  Lilly, William, 105, 227.

  Lodge, Thomas, 89, 224.

  loggats, 122, 230.

  Lord of Misrule, 192, 237.

  Lucy, Sir Thomas, 20, 215.

  Lupton, Thomas, 86, 223.

  Lyttleton, Sir Thomas, 38.

  Mab, 73, 74.

  Macbeth, 79.

  Maid Marian, 179, 181.

  malkin, 240.

  Mamillius, 74.

  man (=tame), 154.

  manor, 217.

  marchpane, 83, 223.

  market cross (Stratford), 44, 92.

  markets, 198.

  Markham, Gervase, 153.

  marmalet, 83, 223.

  Mantuan, the, 105.

  mawkin, 240.

  May-day, 176.

  meals, 58, 61.

  means (=tenors), 239.

  Melton, John, 88.

  merest loss, 232.

  mews, 158.

  micher, 112.

  Midsummer Eve, 186.

  moralities, 161.

  More, Sir Thomas, 138, 231.

  Morisco, 235.

  morris-board, 130.

  morris-dance, 179, 184, 233.

  Mowbray, Thomas, 15.

  Mulcaster, Richard, 106, 130, 227, 230.

  musits, 232.

  muss, 128.

  napery, 240.

  napkin, 65.

  Neville, Richard, 8.

  New Place, 33, 217.

  nine-holes, 123.

  nine men's morris, 129.

  Nine Worthies, the, 18.

  nuntions, 58.

  O!--_vocativo_, O! 227.

  'od's nouns, 226.

  o'erlooked (=bewitched), 87.

  offices, 237.

  Old and New Style, 233.

  orpine, 189.

  pageants, 236.

  painted cloths, 53.

  Painter, William, 75, 221.

  pale (=enclosure), 207, 244.

  palle-malle, 230.

  palmer, 236.

  pardoner, 236.

  Paris Garden, 135, 230.

  passioning, 236.

  Peacham, Henry, 96, 113, 114, 224.

  penny-prick, 69.

  penthouse, 50.

  perambulation of parish, 74.

  Percy, Thomas, 168, 234.

  pigeon-holes (game), 70.

  pinfold, 45, 217.

  pitching the bar, 123.

  plucking geese, 139.

  poaching, 21.

  pomander, 240.

  pomegranate-flowers (as charm), 90.

  pose (=cold in head), 52.

  posies (in rings), 53, 199, 240.

  prabbles, 227.

  prank them up, 240.

  preeches, 227, 229.

  present (=immediate), 229.

  prisoners' base, 124.

  proceed in learning, 229.

  properties, 243.

  Puck, 74.

  pummets, 70.

  quack (=hoarseness), 52.

  quails (for fighting), 137.

  race (=root), 239.

  raisins o' the sun, 239.

  Ralph of Stratford, 31, 33.

  rear-suppers, 58.

  reredos, 52.

  Rhodes, Hugh, 60, 219.

  riffeling, 185.

  ringlets (=fairy rings), 222.

  rip up, 228.

  Robert of Stratford, 31, 37, 244.

  Robin Goodfellow, 74, 221.

  Rother Market, 30, 50.

  rushes (for floors), 54, 56, 218.

  Sackerson, 135.

  Saint George's Day, 167.

  Saint John's wort, 189.

  Saint Mary's Church, Warwick, 6.

  sanctuary, 230.

  sanded, 231.

  school discipline, 113.

  school life, 109.

  school morals, 112.

  _Schoole of Vertue, The_, 60.

  Scot, Reginald, 90, 189, 224.

  Seager, Francis, 60, 219.

  sequestered, 231.

  Shakespeare Birthplace, 49, 217.

  Shakespeare mulberry-tree, 51, 218.

  Shakespeare, Henry, 207.

  Shakespeare, John, 26, 40, 53.

  Shakespeare, Mary, 84.

  sheep-shearing, 193.

  Sheffield whittles, 240.

  Shenstone, William, 101, 226.

  _Ship of Fools, The_, 67, 200.

  Shottery, 4.

  shove-groat, 67.

  shovel-board, 68.

  shrewd (=evil), 112, 245.

  Siddons, Mrs., 12.

  Sir (title of priests), 226.

  Skelton, John, 232.

  slide-thrift, 67.

  slip-groat, 67.

  slipping a hawk, 156.

  Smithe, Ralph, 142.

  spoons, apostle, 80.

  spoons, Latin, 81.

  sprag, 227.

  statute-caps, 41, 203, 242.

  Steevens, George, 190, 236.

  Stevenson, Matthew, 196, 239.

  stool-ball, 122.

  story-telling, 73.

  Stow, John, 82, 222.

  Stratford College, 33, 37.

  Stratford corporation, 39.

  Stratford early history, 27.

  Stratford grammar school, 95.

  Stratford Guild, 34, 37.

  Stratford-on-Avon, 21.

  Stratford topography, 43.

  strikes (of planet), 231.

  Strutt, Joseph, 67, 220.

  Stubbes, Philip, 176, 178, 185, 206, 236.

  Suckling, John, 235.

  sun dancing at Easter, 173.

  sweet hearts, 204, 246.

  sweet-suckers, 83, 223.

  swimming, 130.

  table-linen, 55.

  takes (of fairies), 231.

  tassel-gentle, 156.

  Taylor the Water Poet, 69, 220.

  tender well, 231.

  than (=then), 219.

  theatres, movable, 14, 215.

  theatrical entertainments, 160, 185.

  then (=than), 220.

  thorow, 65, 220.

  three-man beetle, 139.

  three-man songmen, 239.

  tick (=tag), 125.

  tick-tack, 70.

  tod, 239.

  told (=counted), 232.

  took on him as a conjurer, 225.

  toothache, charms for, 88.

  toothpicks, 65.

  _Topas, Tale of Sir_, 203, 241.

  towels, 56.

  tract (=track), 217.

  training of children, 60.

  tray-trip, 90.

  treatably, 219.

  treen, 55.

  troll-my-dames, 70.

  trumpet (=trumpeter), 222.

  Tusser, Thomas, 114, 195, 229.

  Udall, Nicholas, 114.

  vaward, 231.

  vervain, 80, 189, 222.

  villeins, 28.

  voiders, 62.

  waes-hael, 192, 237.

  wakes, 30, 205.

  Wall, A. H., 168, 234.

  Waller, Edmund, 126, 230.

  Walton, Izaak, 235.

  warden-pies, 239.

  warlocks, 223.

  Warner, William, 235.

  Warwick, 4.

  Warwickshire, 3.

  wash-basins, 56.

  Wat, 232.

  watchet-colored, 235.

  Webster, John, 90, 224.

  which (=who), 228.

  whifflers, 144.

  whistled off (in hawking), 157.

  white meats, 57.

  Whitsuntide, 184.

  whittles (noun), 240.

  who (=which), 231.

  wick-yarn, 240.

  Wierus, 224.

  Wife of Bath, 203, 242.

  Willis, R., 112, 229.

  Wilmcote, 4, 213.

  wine, 58.

  Wise, J. R., 26, 151.

  witches, 79, 84.

  Wolsey, Cardinal, 56.

  woman's part (on stage), 236.

  Woncot, 213.

  Worthies, the Nine, 18.

  wote, 223.

  wrestling, 142.

  yearned (=grieved), 232.



What plays of Shakespeare are to be recommended for school use, and
in what order should they be taken up? These are questions often
addressed to me by teachers, and I will attempt to answer them
briefly here.

Of the thirty-seven (or thirty-eight if we include the _Two Noble
Kinsmen_) plays in the standard editions of Shakespeare, twenty at
least are suitable for use in "mixed" schools. Among the "comedies"
are _The Merchant of Venice_, _A Midsummer-Night's Dream_, _As You
Like It_, _Twelfth Night_, _Much Ado About Nothing_, _The Tempest_,
_The Winter's Tale_, and _The Taming of the Shrew_; among the
"tragedies," _Macbeth_, _Hamlet_, _Lear_, and _Romeo and Juliet_;
and among the historical plays, _Julius Cæsar_, _Coriolanus_, _King
John_, _Richard II._, _Henry IV. Part I._, _Henry V._, _Richard
III._, and _Henry VIII._

Certain plays, like _Cymbeline_, _Othello_, and _Antony and
Cleopatra_, are not, in my opinion, to be commended for "mixed"
schools or classes, but may be used in others at the discretion of
the teacher.

If but one play is read, my own choice would be _The Merchant of
Venice_; except for _classical_ schools, where _Julius Cæsar_ is
to be preferred. All the leading colleges now require one or more
plays of Shakespeare as part of the preparation in English, and
_Julius Cæsar_ is almost invariably included for every year.

If _two_ plays can be read, the _Merchant_ and _Julius Cæsar_ may
be commended; or either of these with _As You Like It_, or with
_Macbeth_, if a tragedy is desired. _Macbeth_ is the shortest of
the great tragedies (only a trifle more than half the length of
_Hamlet_, for instance), and seems to me unquestionably the best
for an ordinary school course.

For a selection of _three_ plays, we may take the _Merchant_ (or
_Julius Cæsar_), _As You Like It_ (or _Twelfth Night_ or _Much
Ado_--the other two of the trio of "Sunny or Sweet-Time Comedies,"
as Furnivall calls them), and _Macbeth_. An English historical play
(_King John_, _Richard II._, _Henry IV. Part I._, or _Henry V._)
may be substituted for the comedy, if preferred; and _Hamlet_ for
_Macbeth_, if time permits and the teacher chooses. As I have said,
_Hamlet_ is about twice as long as _Macbeth_, and should have at
least treble the time devoted to it.

If a _fourth_ play is wanted, add _The Tempest_ to the list.
_Macbeth_ and _The Tempest_ together (4061 lines, as given in the
"Globe" edition) are but little longer than _Hamlet_ (3929 lines),
and can be read in less time than the latter.

For a _fifth_ play, _Hamlet_, _Lear_, or _Coriolanus_ may be
taken; or, if a shorter and lighter play is preferred, the
_Midsummer-Night's Dream_. In a course of five plays, I should
myself put this first, as a specimen of the dramatist's early work.
For a course of five plays arranged with special reference to the
illustration of Shakespeare's career as a writer, the following may
be commended: A _Midsummer-Night's Dream_ (early comedy); _Richard
II._, _Henry IV. Part I._, or _Henry V._ (English historical
period); _As You Like It_, _Twelfth Night_, or _Much Ado_ (later
comedy); _Macbeth_, _Hamlet_, or _Lear_ (period of the great
tragedies); and _The Tempest_ or _The Winter's Tale_ (the latest
plays, or "romances," as Dowden aptly terms them).

For a series of _six_ plays, following this chronological order,
instead of one English historical play take two: _Richard III._,
_Richard II._, or _King John_ (earlier history, 1593-1595), and
_Henry IV. Part I._, or _Henry V._ (later history, or "history and
comedy united," 1597-1599).

_Richard III._ is a favorite with many teachers in a course of
three or four plays; but, for myself, I should never take it up
unless in a course of six or more, and only as an example of
Shakespeare's earliest work--not later than 1593. As Oechelhäuser
says, "_Richard III._ is the significant boundary-stone which
separates the works of Shakespeare's youth from the immortal works
of the period of his fuller splendor." As such it has a certain
historical interest to the student of his literary career; but
this seems to me its only claim to attention. I am not disposed,
however, to quarrel with those who think otherwise.

To return to our courses of reading: for a series of _seven_ plays
I would insert in the above chronological list either _Romeo and
Juliet_ (early tragedy) _before_ "early history," or the _Merchant_
(middle comedy) _after_ "early history"; and for a series of
_eight_ plays I would include _both_ these.

_Henry VIII._ can be added to any of the longer series as a very
late play, of which Shakespeare wrote only a part, and which was
completed by Fletcher. _The Taming of the Shrew_ may be mentioned
incidentally as an earlier play that is interesting as being
Shakespeare's only in part.

In closing, let me commend the _Sonnets_ as well adapted to give
variety to any extended course in Shakespeare. They are not known
to teachers, or to cultivated people generally, as they should be.
In my own experience as a teacher, I have found that young people
always get interested in these poems, if their attention is once
called to them. I once gave one of my classes an informal talk
on the _Sonnets_, merely to fill an hour for which there was no
regular work, owing to an unexpected delay in getting copies of the
play we were about to begin. Some months afterwards, when I asked
the class what play they would select for our next reading if the
choice were left to them, several of the girls asked if we could
not take up the _Sonnets_, and the request was endorsed by a large
majority. We gave about the same time to them as to a play, and I
have never had a more enjoyable or, so far as I could judge, a more
profitable series of lessons with a class.

  W. J. ROLFE.


      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

  Obvious typographical errors and punctuation errors have been
  corrected after careful comparison with other occurrences within
  the text and consultation of external sources.

  The phrases [ 't is ] and [ 'T is ] in quotations in the original
  text have been retained, and not changed to the modern contracted
  form of 'tis and 'Tis.

  Except for those changes noted below, all misspellings in the text,
  and inconsistent or archaic usage, have been retained.

  Pg 9, 'his loving brother Richard' has been retained though this is
  factually incorrect. His brother was Edward (king Edward IV.)

  Pg 100, The text of the horn-book illustration given in the caption
  uses the letter ſ (the long-form s) to reflect the original text.

  Pg 208, 'Skakespeare; and' replaced by 'Shakespeare; and'.

  Pg 226, { and } bracketing has been removed from the declension table,
  and the two vertical text headings have been made horizontal.

  Pg 239, 'or Silesia' replaced by 'of Silesia'.

  Pg 243, 'stage requisities' replaced by 'stage requisites'.

  Index: 'Grammar Sehool' replaced by 'Grammar School'.

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