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Full text of "Shakespeare the boy : with sketches of the home and school life, the games and sports, the manners, customs and folk-lore of the time"

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CENTRAL CHILDREN'S ROfiM 
JQNNELL LIBRARY CENTER 
20 WEST 53 STREET / 
NEW YORK, jf.y. JQQJJ 

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SHAKESPEARE AT THE AGE OF TWELVE 
From the painting by J. Sant 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 



WITH SKETCHES OF 

THE HOME AND SCHOOL LIFE, THE GAMES 

AND SPORTS, THE MANNERS, CUSTOMS 

AND FOLK-LORE OF THE TIME 



BY 



WILLIAM J. ROLFE, LiTT.D. 



ILLUSTRATED 



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NEW YORK AND LONDON 
HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS 



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Copyright, 1896, by HARPER & BROTHERS. 

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 
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PREFACE 



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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 ex- 
pand 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 Bcibees Book, and his- edition of Harri- 
son's Description of Ev^la,ifl"^\dr^<i Lee's Stratford-on- 
Avon, Strutt's Sports ana Pastinus\ Brand's Popular An- 
tiquities, and Dyer's fiolk'-^.ore oj^ ' Shakzspeare. 

I hope that the book mi-iv sarve r o g ; ve 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. 






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CONTENTS 



PAGE 

PART I. HIS NATIVE TOWN AND NEIGHBOR. 

HOOD i 

WARWICKSHIRE 3 

WARWICK CASTLE AND SAINT MARY'S CHURCH . . 4 

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 

SUPERSTITIONS CONNECTED WITH BIRTH AND BAPTISM 84 

CHARMS AND AMULETS . . . f , , 87 



vi CONTENTS 

PAGE 

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 no 

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 ........... f , . . .. , 247 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY . Frontispiece 

THE SHAKESPEARE BIRTHPLACE, ABOUT l82O 3 

WARWICK CASTLE 5 

GATE-HOUSE OF KENILWORTH CASTLE 13 

COVENTRY CHURCHES AND PAGEANT Facing p. 14 

CHARLECOTE HALL 2O 

ENTRANCE TO CHARLECOTE HALL 22 

SIR THOMAS LUCY 23 

STRATFORD CHURCH Facing p. 30 

STRATFORD CHURCH, WEST END 32 

THE GUILD CHAPEL AND GRAMMAR SCHOOL, STRATFORD . . 35 

MAP PLAN OF STRATFORD 42 

SHAKESPEARE HOUSE, RESTORED 4Q 

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 8l 

PORCH, STRATFORD CHURCH Facing p. 88 

INNER COURT, GRAMMAR SCHOOL 95 



viii ILL USTRA TIONS 

THE SCHOOL-ROOM AS IT WAS 97 

DESK SAID TO BE SHAKESPEARE'S . . IO2 

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 

ITINERANT PLAYERS IN A COUNTRY HALL . . . Facing p. l6o 

WILLIAM KEMP DANCING THE MORRIS 163 

THE BOUNDARY ELM 1 67 

MORRIS-DANCE Facing p. 178 

CLOPTON HOUSE ON CHRISTMAS EVE IQO 

THE FAIR " 200 

INTERIOR OF GRAMMAR SCHOOL, BEFORE THE RESTORA- 
TION 225 

CLOPTON MONUMENTS Facing p. 238 

THE BAR-GATE, SOUTHAMPTON 242 

ARMS OF JOHN SHAKESPEARE. . , , 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 



PART I 
HIS NATIVE TOWN AND NEIGHBORHOOD 




THE SHAKESPEARE BIRTHPLACE, ABOUT 1820 



WARWICKSHIRE 

THE county of Warwick was called the heart of Eng- 
land as long ago as the time of Shakespeare. Indeed, 
it was his friend, Michael Drayton, born the year be- 
fore 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 his- 
torical, romantic, and poetical associations. Drayton, 
whose rhymed geography in the Poly-Olbion is rather 



4 -SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

prosaic and tedious, attains a kind of genuine inspira- 
tion when, in his i3th 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 thros- 
tle 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 " flow- 
ery 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. 



WARWICK CASTLE AND SAINT MARY'S CHURCH. 



Warwickshire is the heart of England, and the coun- 
try 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 vera- 
cious 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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 5 

part of England can hardly parallel ; so that now it is 
the most princely seat that is within the midland parts 
of this realm." 

The castle was old in Shakespeare's day. Caesar's 
Tower, so called, though not built, as tradition alleged, 
by the mighty Julius, dated back to an unknown period ; 




WARWICK CASTLE 



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 cen- 
tury than it is to-day, for they had been allowed to be- 
come somewhat dilapidated ; and it was not until the 
reign of James I. that they were repaired and embel- 



6 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

lished, at enormous expense, and made the stately for- 
tress and mansion that Dugdale describes. 

But the castle would be no less beautiful for situa- 
tion, 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 
remain. 

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, 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 7 

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 ad- 
jacent 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 cor- 
nice of the sepulchre, how this " most worshipful knight 
decessed full christenly the last day of April the year 
of cure Lord God 1439, ne 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 up- 
raised 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 



8 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

died in 1588 ; but in the poet's youth this famous noble- 
man was living in the height of his renown and pros- 
perity at the castle of Kenilworth five miles away, which 
we will visit later. 

WARWICK IN HISTORY. 

Only brief reference can be made here to the impor- 
tant part that Warwick, or its famous Earl, Richard 
Neville, the " King-maker," played in the English his- 
tory 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 Beau- 
champ, 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 aug- 
mented 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 ///., 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?" 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY g 

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 cer- 
tain historical difficulties which that theory involves. 
In 2 Henry IV. (iii. i. 66) Shakespeare makes the mis- 
take of calling him " Nevil " instead of Beauchamp. 

The title of the Warwick earls became extinct with 
the death of the King-maker on the battle-field of Bar- 
net. It was then bestowed on George, Duke of Clar- 
ence, 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 com- 
plicity 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. 

GUY OF WARWICK. 

The dramatist was evidently familiar with the legen- 
dary 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 



io SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 War- 
wick 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, hold- 
ing 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 con- 
flict 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 be- 
stowed 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, as- 
suming that he had perished by the fever of the East or 
the sword of the infidel. At last she received a sum- 
mons to visit the aged pilgrim on his death-bed, when, 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY n 

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 death. 

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 Beau- 
champ 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 



12 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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. 

KENILWORTH CASTLE. 

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 stupen- 
dous of similar structures that have fallen to decay. It 
was ancient in Shakespeare's day, having been origi- 
nally 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 hav- 
ing passed through sundry hands and undergone divers 
vicissitudes of fortune, it was given by Elizabeth to 
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who spent, in en- 
larging 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 ex- 
aggeration 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 architect- 
ure 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 impreg- 
nable 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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 13 

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 Qth to July 2yth there was a succession of 
holiday pageants in the most sumptuous and elaborate 




''"''--'' i 

'^PHf " T " 18 ^", 

GATE-HOUSE OF KENILWORTH CASTLE 

style of the time. Master Robert Laneham, whose ac- 
curacy 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 



14 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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-Nighfs 
Dream (ii. i. 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 ? 

COVENTRY. 

The road from Warwick to Kenilworth is one of the 
loveliest in England ; and that from Kenilworth five 






!^C _-"- : \" 




COVENTRY CHUKCHES ANP PAGEANT 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 15 

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 kalei- 
doscopic mutations. 

This magnificent avenue with its over-arching foliage 
brings us to Coventry, no mean city in our day, but re- 
taining 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 as- 
sociations 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., Eliza- 
beth, 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 



16 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 advan- 
tage 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 as- 
sociations 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' pag- 
eant 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 "prop- 
erties/ 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 17 

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

" Item, paid for v. schepskens for gods cote and for 
makyng, uis. 

Item, paid for mendyng of Herods hed and a myter 
and other thyngs, \\s. 

Item, paid for dressyng of the devells hede, viii</. 

Item, paid for a pair of gloves for god, \\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^/. 

Paid for keping of fyer at hell mouthe, iiii//." 

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 

t> 

stage became proverbial. In Hamlet (iii. 2. 16) we 
have the expression, "It out-herods Herod" ; and in the 
Merry Wires of Windsor (ii. i. 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 



18 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 Bar- 
dolph's rubicund nose is compared to "a black soul 
burning in hell fire." 

The Devil wore a dress of black leather, with a mask, 
and carried a club, with which he laid about him vigor- 
ously. 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 Sun- 
day, but they were occasionally performed on other 
days, especially at the time of a royal visit to Cov- 
entry, 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 



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 Wor- 



5Y/JAY-;.s/Y-.,/A'A - THE BOY 19 

thies," which he has burlesqued in Love s Labour V 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 bur- 
densome 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 Bene- 
dictine 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. 



CHARLECOTE HALL. 

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 Shake- 



20 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 



speare's deer-poaching a fine old mansion, seen across 
a breadth of fields dotted with tall elms. 

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 ma- 
terial change. It was begun in 1558, the year when 







CHARLECOTE HALL 



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 compli- 
ment to the Virgin Queen ; and only one out of many 
such tributes paid her by noble builders of the time. 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 21 

Over the main door are the royal arms, with the letters 
E. R., together with the initials of the owner, T. L. 

\Yithin 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 im- 
probable. 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 intro- 
duced 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 car- 
icatured 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 re- 
garded, 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 



22 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 



making expulsion from the university the penalty of de- 
tection. Dr. Forman relates how two students in 1573 
(one of whom afterwards became Bishop of Worces- 
ter) 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 




ENTRANCE TO CHARLECOTE HALL 



these exploits, which he believed to be an excellent 
kind of discipline for young men. 

We must not assume that Sir Thomas was fairly rep- 
resented 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 rec- 
ords bear frequent testimony to his judicial services; 
and his attendance on such occasions is generally 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 



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 1586 we read: "Paid for wine and 
sugar when Sir Thomas Lucy sat in commission for 
tipplers, xx.df." 

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 faith- 
ful 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 bet- 
ters, 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 clown by him that best 
did know what hath been written to be true, Thomas 
Lucy? 




SIR THOMAS LUCY 



24 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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-ON-AVON. 

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 Warwick- 
shire 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, 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 25 

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 sani- 
tary condition of the place was very bad. John Shake- 
speare would probably not have been fined if his ster- 
quinariuni had been behind his house instead of be- 
fore it. 

Stratford, however, was no worse in this respect than 
other English towns. The terrible plagues that devas- 
tated 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 pres- 
ence-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 Mitch Ado About Nothing in the refer- 
ence to " smoking a musty room." 



26 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 fra- 
grance of the flowers that bloom in and about Strat- 
ford ; and the wonderful accuracy of his allusions to 
them their colors, their habits, their time of blossom- 
ing, everything concerning them shows how thorough- 
ly 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 Strat- 
ford. 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 ex- 
aggeration 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 or- 
chises, and blue and white milkwort, and yellow rattle- 
grass, and tall moon-daisies : and I know nowhere wood- 
lands 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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 27 

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 be- 
cause 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.' 



THE EARLY HISTORY OF STRATFORD. 

Stratford is a very ancient town. Its name shows 
that it was situated at &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 Ethel- 
red, 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 mon- 
astery stood where the church now is ; and, as else- 
where 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 u fourteen and a half hides," or about two thou- 
sand acres. It was of smaller extent than in 691, be- 
cause the neighboring villages had become separate 
manors, The inhabitants were a priest, who doubtless 



28 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 shil- 
lings, 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 i2th 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 pres- 
ent 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 Bridgetown. 

We get an idea of the life led by the majority of the 
inhabitants of Stratford and its vicinity in the i2th and 
i3th 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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY Ig 

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 cot- 
tagers, 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 cot- 
tagers 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 priv- 
ilege." 

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 doubt- 



30 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

less 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 Philadel- 
phia, 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 nth century Stratford was also 
endowed with a series of annual fairs, " the chief stimu- 
lants 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 (Septem- 
ber 1 4th), "the day, and two days following"; and in 
1271, "for the eve of the Ascension of our Lord, com- 
monly 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. 

Trinity Sunday was doubtless chosen for the open- 
ing 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 




STRATFORD CHURCH 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 31 

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 bar- 
gaining were conducted in the church itself." Attempts 
were made by the ecclesiastical authorities to restrain 
these practices, but they continued until the Reforma- 
tion. 

At the close of the i3th century the prosperity of 
Stratford was assured. Alveston had then ceased to be 
a dangerous rival. The town was more and more profit- 
able to the Bishops of Worcester, who interested them- 
selves 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 1 4th century the condition of the Stratford 
folk materially improved. Villeinage gradually disap- 
peared 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 na- 
tives 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 Arch- 
bishop 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. 



32 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 



^ 

S_^ ' " L 



kJi 



-si V 



~ii : \l 



- 

; m n 

1 , VI/xlLi \ , ->iv. ', -'..V? 




STRATFORD CHURCH, WEST END 



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 pur- 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 33 

chased 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 va- 
rious 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 vil- 
lage 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 prop- 
erty of William Shakespeare, and was his residence 



34 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 pub- 
lic spirit. 

THE STRATFORD GUILD. 

In the latter part of the i3th 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 so- 
cieties, though in many instances offshoots from the re- 
ligious guilds, and often, as in London, surviving the 
decay of the parent institution. 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 



35 



Members of both sexes were admitted to the Strat- 
ford Guild, as to others of its class, on payment of a 
small annual fee. "This primarily secured for them 




THE GL'ILD CHAI'EL AND GRAMMAR SCHOOL, STRATFORD 

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 



36 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 fre- 
quently awarded to members anxious to make pilgrim- 
ages 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 au- 
thority or influence than laymen. Priests were em- 
ployed 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, alder- 
men, beadles, and clerks and a council of their repre- 
sentatives controlled their property and looked after 
their rights. 

When the Stratford Guild was founded it is impos- 
sible to determine. " Its beginning," as its chief offi- 
cers wrote in 1389, "was from time whereunto the mem- 
ory of man reacheth not." Records preserved in the 
town prove that it was in existence early in the i3th 
century, and that bequests were then made to it. The 
Bishops of Worcester encouraged such gifts, and appar- 
ently managed that some of the revenues of the Guild 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 37 

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, Guild- 
hall, and other fraternfty buildings now are. 

In 1332 Edward III. gave the Guild a charter con- 
firming its right to all its property and to the full control 
of its own affairs. In 1389 Richard II. sent out com- 
missioners 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 associa- 
tion which had come to include all the substantial house- 
holders naturally acquired much jurisdiction in civil 
affairs. Its members referred their disputes with one 
another to its council ; and the aldermen gradually be- 
came the administrators of the municipal police. The 
College priests were very jealous of the Guild's increas- 
ing influence, and when the society resisted the pay- 
ment 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 control. 

A curious feature of the conditions of membership in 



38 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

the 1 5th 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 his- 
tory 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 any- 
thing 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 promi- 
nent member of the fraternity. The work was not fin- 
ished until after his death in September, 1496, but the 
expense of its completion was nrovided for in his will. 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 39 

THE STRATFORD CORPORATION. 

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 citi- 
zens --the old officers of the Guild --had petitioned 
Edward VI. to restore that society as a municipal cor- 
poration. 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 corpora- 
tion, 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 com- 
mon council continued to meet monthly in the Guild- 
hall ; but it now included, besides the bailiff and ten 
aldermen, the ten chief burgesses, and its authority cov- 
ered 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, v]s. \\\]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 con- 
tinue and abide devoutly until the corpse be buried," 



40 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 reg- 
ulations. 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 lago (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 char- 
acter. " 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 scold- 
ing wives. A substantial 'ducking-stool,' with iron 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 41 

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 occa- 
sion 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 Shake- 
speare's time, were kept strictly under the council's con- 
trol. 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 imprison- 
ment. 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 com- 
missioners came from London to see that the local 
authorities enforced. Early in the 17 th century swear- 
ing 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 
Loves Labour's Lost (v. 2. 281); and the regulation 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 43 

affected all inhabitants above six years of age. In 
1604 'the greatest part' of the inhabitants were pre- 
sented at a great leet, or law-day, 'for wearing their 
apparel contrary to the statute.' Nor would it be diffi- 
cult 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." 

THE TOPOGRAPHY OF STRATFORD. 

No map of Stratford made before the middle of 
the i8th 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 ap- 
pears 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 there- 
fore 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: " i. 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; n. 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 



44 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 (i) 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 11 (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 i6th 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 corner. 

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 some- 
times 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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 45 

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, ad- 
jacent 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 re- 
ceptacle of sewage and filth." It continued to be a 
nuisance for at least two centuries more. A letter writ- 
ten in 1807, in connection with a lawsuit, gives some 
interesting reminiscences of it. " I very well remem- 
ber," says the writer, " the ditch you mention forty-five 
years, as after my sister was married, which was in Octo- 
ber, 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 ex- 
tended to Smith's house ; I well remember there was 



46 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 recep- 
tacle 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 particu- 
larly; 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 "wretch- 
ed sanitary conditions surrounding his residence " an 
explanation of it which would never have occurred even 
to medical men in that day. 



PART II 
HIS HOME LIFE 




SHAKESPEARE HOUSE, RESTORED 



THE DWELLING-HOUSES OF THE TIME 



THE house in Henley Street in which William Shake- 
speare 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 i6th century. 

There are a few houses of the same period and the 
same class still standing in Stratford and its vicinity, 



50 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 house. 

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 win- 
dows, as in Shakespeare's birthplace on Henley Street. 

In the Merchant of Venice (ii. 6. i) Gratiano says: 

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

In Much Ado About Nothing (iii. 3, no) Borachio 
says to Conrade: "Stand thee close, then, under this 
penthouse, for it drizzles rain. 7 ' We find a figurative 
allusion to the penthouse in Love's Labour 's Lost (iii. 
i, 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. 



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SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 51 

The better houses, like New Place, were of timber 
and brick, instead of plaster, though sometimes entire- 
ly 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 occasion- 
ally 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 

1756. 

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 Eng- 
land, and, though John Shakespeare's house had one, 
the dwellings of many of his neighbors were still un- 
provided with them. In 1582, when William was eigh- 
teen years old, an order was passed by the town council 



52 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

that " Walter Hill, dwelling in Rother Market, and all 
the other inhabitants of the borough, shall, before St. 
James's Day, 3<Dth April, make sufficient chimneys," 
under pain of a fine of ten shillings. 

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 Eng- 
land that had been " marvellously changed within the 
memory of old people, 11 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 re- 
ligious houses and manor places of their lords always 
excepted), but each one made his fire against a reredos* 
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 re- 
ported a far better medicine to keep the goodman and 
his family from the quack or pose, wherewith, as then, 
very few were acquainted." 

THE HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE. 

Of the furniture in these old houses we get an idea 
from inventories of the period that have come down to 

* A reredos was a kind of open hearth or brazier. Pose, just 
below, means a cold in the head, and quack a hoarseness or croak- 
ing caused by a cold in the throat. 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 53 

us. We have, for instance, such a list of the house- 
hold equipment of Richard Arden, Shakespeare's ma- 
ternal 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 (i Henry IV. iv. 2. 28) says 
that his recruits are "ragged as Lazarus in the painted 
cloth." 



54 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

In an anonymous play, No Whipping nor Tripping, 
printed in 1601, \ve 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. i. 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 win- 
dow-seats, but were seldom placed on the floor except 
to kneel upon, or for other special purposes. 

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

" 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 him- 
self 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 vellow and 
green " among his household goods, 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 55 

Kitchen utensils and table-ware had likewise im- 
proved within the memory of the old inhabitant, though 
still rude and simple enough. Harrison notes u 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 
i yth 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 ac- 
count of the use of forks in Italy, where they appear 
to have been invented in the i5th 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 



56 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 
affectation. 

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 fin- 
gers !" 

Towels, except for table use, are rarely noticed in in- 
ventories of the period, and when mentioned are speci- 
fied 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 filthi- 
ness, and as very few times comb their heads." 

Their betters were none too particular in these mat- 
ters, 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 un- 
necessary luxury on the part of Wolsey when he caused 
the rushes at Hampton Court to be changed every day. 



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SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 57 

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 or- 
ganic matters. 

Perfumes were used for neutralizing the foul odors 
that resulted from this filthiness. Burton, in his Anat- 
omy 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 uncleanly." 

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 gracious- 
ly ; 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 Ers- 
kine's chambers." 

FOOD AND DRINK. 

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." 



58 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 Eng- 
land, 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 fore- 
noon, beverages or nuntions [luncheons] after dinner, 
and thereto rear-suppers [late or second suppers] gen- 
erally when it was time to go to rest, now these odd re- 
pasts 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) con- 
tenteth 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 







OLD HOUSE IN HIGH STREET 



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 apd sup when 



,6o SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 cus- 
tom 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. 

i 

THE TRAINING OF CHILDREN. 

In the i6th century, children of the middle and up- 
per classes were strictly brought up. The " Books of 
Nurture," published at that time, give minute direc- 
tions 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 Sc hook of Vertue, and booke 
of good Nourture for Chyldrcn 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 * (the spelling 
being modernized) : 

* 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. Furnjvall does, 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 61 

. 

" 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 apparel- 
ling 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 family : 

" 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 
courtesy." 

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. 



62 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 nap- 
kins 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 contain- 
ing 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." 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 63 

He must keep his fingers clean with a napkin, wipe 
his mouth before drinking, and be temperate in eat- 
ing '< 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; 



64 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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. 1 ' 

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 message ": 

" 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. 



z 

2 



n 
o 

H 

n 

n 




SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 65 

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 
I 577 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." * 

* 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. 



66 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

The Bookc 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 refine- 
ments, 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 Testa- 
ment, 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 man- 
ners, called the new Schoole of Vertue, leading the childe 
as by the hand, in the way of all good manners." 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 67 

INDOOR AMUSEMENTS. 

Of the indoor amusements of country people we get 
an idea from Vincent's Dialogue with an English Court- 
ier, 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 ac- 
cording 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 1 6th and xyth 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 sec- 
tions, in every one of which is placed a figure, in regu- 
lar 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 



68 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 



according to the value of the figure affixed to the par- 
tition wherein the halfpenny rests, his game is reck- 
oned ; 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 deter- 




SHILLING OF EDWARD VI 



mine which shall go first, which is certainly a great 
advantage." 

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 Pis- 
tol 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. i. 159), Slender, 
when asked if Pistol had picked his purse, replies : 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 69 

" 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 pre- 
mium 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 gambling. 

Card-playing had become so general in the time of 
Henry VIII. that a statute was enacted forbidding ap- 
prentices to use cards except in the Christmas holi- 
days, and then only in their masters' houses. Many 



70 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 trots, 
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 mod- 
ern 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 Buck- 
stone (1572) refers to it thus : " The ladies, gentlewom- 
en, wives and maids, may in one of the galleries walk; 
and if the weather be not agreeable to their expecta- 
tion, 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. i. 172) Ferdinand and Miranda 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 71 

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 Con- 
quest, and became a favorite pastime with the upper 
classes, but appears to have been little known among 
the common people. 

POPULAR BOOKS. 

Of books there were probably very few at the house 
in Henley Street. Some of those mentioned by Vin- 
cent 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 like- 
ly to be well known in Stratford, which, as we have 
seen, was in the immediate vicinity of the hero's legen- 
dary exploits. The Four Sons of Aymon was the trans- 
lation of a French prose romance, the earliest form of 
which dated back to songs or ballads of the i3th cen- 
tury. 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. i. 134), where Beatrice refers to what 
Benedick had said about her: "That I was disdain- 
ful, and that I had my wit out of the Hundred Merry 
Tales." 

The Book of Riddles was another book mentioned by 
Shakespeare in The Merry Wives of Windsor (i. i. 205), 
in connection with a volume of verse which was equal- 
ly popular in the Elizabethan age : 



72 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

" 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 Ques- 
tions, 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 sam- 
ples :- 

" 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 Ixv. 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. 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 73 

The Ixvii. Rtdd/e.Vfhat is that, that goeth thorow the 
wood, and toucheth never a twig ? Solution. It is the 
blast of a home, or any other noyse." 

A bottom of thread was a ball of it. The word oc- 
curs in The Taming of the Shrew (iv. 3. 138), where 
Grumio says, in the dialogue with the Tailor : *' Mas- 
ter, 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-Nigh? s 
Dream. 

STORY-TELLING. 

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 entertain- 
ment of the family of a winter evening. The store of 
this unwritten history and fiction was inexhaustible. 

In Milton's L Allegro we have a pleasant picture of a 
rustic group listening to fairy stories round the even- 
ing fire : 

" Then to the spicy nut-brown ale, 
With stories told of many a feat, 
How lairy Mab the junkets eat. 
She was pinch'd and pull'd, she said, 
And he, by Friar's lantern led, 



74 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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-Nighf s Dream, to whom 
the Fairy says (ii. i. 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 sad- 
dest 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 
Winters Tale (ii. i. 21) which may have been suggest- 
ed by his own experience as a boy. As Mr. Charles 
Knight asks, " may we not read for Hermione, Mary 
Shakespeare, and for Mamillius, William ?" 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 75 

" 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 proba- 
bility, 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 



76 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

courageous personages, the virtuous minds of noble 
dames, the chaste hearts of constant ladies, the won- 
derful patience of puissant princes, the mild suffer- 
ance of well-disposed gentlewomen, and, in divers, the 
quiet bearing of adverse fortune.' Pleasant little apo- 
thegms 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 ^Esop's fable 
of the old lark and her young ones, wherein 'he pret- 
tily 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 Wil- 
liam 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 recita- 
tion. It was a tale which Painter translated from the 
French of Pierre Boisteau. ... It was ' The goodly his- 
tory 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 pain- 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 77 

ful 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,' trans- 
lated 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 ma- 
chinery 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 de- 
feated. 

"There was the story, too, in these legends, of the Em- 
peror Theodosius, who had three daughters ; and those 
two daughters who said they loved him more than them- 
selves were unkind to him, but the youngest, who only 
said she loved him as much as he was worthy, suc- 
coured 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 :- 



78 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

" ' 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 dis- 
cover 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 Jived 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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 79 

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 in- 
crease 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 jour- 
neyed 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 ; 



8o SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 ver- 
vain 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 horse- 
shoe 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 ad- 
dressed themselves ; and the night was without fear, 
and their sleep was pleasant." 

CHRISTENINGS. 

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. 1 68), 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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 



81 



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 







>-W-' y^er^Jtok 







ANCIENT FONT AT STRATFORD 



good Latin spoons, and thou shalt translate them." 
That is, as Mr. Thorns explains it, " Shakespeare, will- 
ing to show his wit, if not his wealth, gave a dozen 
spoons, not of silver, but of fatten, 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 

6 



82 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 fora squire's child! Look thee here; take up, 
take up, boy ; open 't." John Stow, writing in the clos- 
ing years of the i6th 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 6s. 8//.], 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. i. 405) the Abbess, when 
she finds that the twin brothers Antipholus are her 
long-lost sons, says to the company present : 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 83 

" 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, marma- 
let, 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. 



84 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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. 



SUPERSTITIONS CONNECTED WITH BIRTH AND BAPTISM. 

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 Shake- 
speare, 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 substi- 
tuting their own ugly and mischievous offspring. 
Shakespeare alludes to these "changelings, 1 ' as they 
were called, in the Midsummer- Niglifs Dream (ii. i. 
23), where Puck says that Oberon is angry with Ti- 
tania 

" 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 play. 

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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 85 

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 Qiteene (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 vanquish! 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 i Henry IV. (i. i. 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 supersti- 
tion prevalent in Shakespeare's day, as it had been 



86 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

from the earliest times. It dates back to old Greek 
and Roman days, being mentioned by Theocritus, 
Virgil, and other classical writers. In Turkey pas- 
sages from the Koran used to be painted on the out- 
side of houses as a protection against this malignant 
influence of witches, who were supposed to cause seri- 
ous 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 enchant- 
ment, 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 en- 
vied is beheld in glory and triumph." 

Robert Heron, writing in 1793 of his travels in Scot- 
land, 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 de- 
sired 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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 87 

their will or even unconsciously. It is said that Pius 
IX., soon after his election as Pope, when he was per- 
haps the best loved man in Italy, happened while pass- 
ing through the streets in his carriage to glance up- 
ward at an open window at which a nurse was stand- 
ing 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." 



CHARMS AND AMULETS. 

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. Magi- 
cians 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 Desde- 
mona, suspects that the Moor has won his daughter's 
love by charms. He says to Othello : 



88 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

" 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 conclusion : 

" 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. i. 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 in- 




PORCH, STRATFORD CHURCH 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 89 

cantations, 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 : 

ABRACADABRA 

ABRACADABR 

ABRACADAB 

ABRACADA 

A B R A C A P 

A B R A C A 

A B R A C 

A B R A 

A B R 

A B 

A 

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 sup- 
posed to furnish valuable material for charms and am- 
ulets. 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 dis- 
appoint 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 



go SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

" piece betwixt two knots " being hung about the pa- 
tient'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 he^e about his head; 
'T will keep my boy from ligntning." 

Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy (162 1), remarks : 
" Amulets, and things to be borne about, I find pre- 
scribed, taxed [condemned] by some, approved by 
others. ... I say with Renodeus, they are not alto- 
gether to be rejected." 

Reginald Scot, in his Discoverie of Witchcraft, pub- 
lished 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 
beins: burned as a witch, she owned that her whole con- 

O 

juration consisted in these lines, w r hich she repeated in 
a low voice near the head of the patient : 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 91 

" 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 De- 
monology, 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 time. 

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 be- 
came 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 supersti- 
tions 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. 



PART III 



AT SCHOOL 




' ' H '' it 
J^t hf 




INNER COURT, GRAMMAR SCHOOL 



THE STRATFORD GRAMMAR SCHOOL 

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 i5th century by the Guild, and, 
after the dissolution of that body, created by royal char- 
ter, in June, 1553, "The King's New School of Strat- 
ford-upon-Avon." The charter describes it as "a cer- 



96 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

tain 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 re- 
ceive 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 endowment. 

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 cir- 
cumstances on more than one former occasion. This 
probably suggested Shakespeare's comparison of Mal- 
volio to " a pedant that keeps a school i' the church r 
(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 iyth 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 con- 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 



97 




THE LATIN SCHOOL-ROOM 



juring doctor had the position, like Pinch in the Comedy 
of Errors (v. i. 237), whom Antipholus of Ephesus de- 
scribes 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; 



96 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 rep- 
utation 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 mid- 
dle of the i6th century declared that "by no entreaty 
would he teach any scholar he had, further than his 
father had learned before them," arguing that, if edu- 
cated 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 impor- 
tant years of William's school course, became vicar of the 
neighboring village of Luddington. " In the pedantic 
Holofernes of Lovers Labours Lost, Shakespeare has 
carefully portrayed the best type of the rural school- 
master, 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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY gg 

need not suppose that Holofernes is the exact counter- 
part of Master Hunt, but the latter was probably, like 
the former, a thorough scholar. 



WHAT SHAKESPEARE LEARNT AT SCHOOL. 

We may imagine young William wending his way to 
the Grammar School for the first time on a May morn- 
ing 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 ad- 
mission, 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. i. 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 



loo SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 monosyl- 
lables 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 anti- 
quarian 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. 



-)-Aabcdefghijklmnopq 
rfstuvwxyz& aeiou 

ABCDEFGH1JKLMNOPQ 

RSTUVWXYZ 



^ 



a e i o u 
abebibobub 
ac ec ic oc uc 
aded idodud 



a e i o u 
babebibobu 
ca ce ci co cu 
dadedidodu 



In the Name of the Father, and of the 
Son, and of the Holy Ghoft. 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 Dayour daily Bread; and 
forgive us our trefpafies, as 
we forgivethem thattrefpafs 
againft us : And lead us not 
into Temptation, but deliver || 
us from Evil. Amen. 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 101 

The alphabet was prefaced by a cross, whence it 
came to be called the Christ Cross row,* corrupted 
into "criss-cross-row" or contracted into "cross-row"; 
as in Richard III. (i. i. 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 ringers wet the letters fair." 

Possibly, the boy William, instead of a horn-book, 
had an " A-B-C book," which often contained a cate- 
chism, in addition to the elementary reading matter. 
To this we have an allusion in King John, i. i. 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." 

* Some believe it got the name from having the letters arranged 
in the form of a cross, as they sometimes were ; but the other ex- 
planation seems to me the more probable. 



102 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

" Absey " is one of many old spellings for " A-B-C " 
abcce, 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 nar- 
row 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 

DESK SAID TO BE SHAKESPEARE'S buy it for his OWtt TCSi- 

dence. 

The Latin room (page 97) probably looks to-day very 
much 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 evi- 
dently ancient. A desk which was formerly in this 
room, and said (with no authority whatever) to have 
been used by Shakespeare, is preserved in the Henley 
Street house. An adjacent room is known as the 
" mathematical room," and a smaller one on the same 
floor is used for the library. 

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, 




SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 103 

His first lessons in Latin were probably from two 
well-known books of the time, the Accidence and the 
Sententice Pueriles. The examination of Master Page 
by the Welsh parson and schoolmaster, Sir Hugh 
Evans, in The Merry Wives of Windsor (iv. i) is taken 
almost verbally from the Accidence. Mrs. Page, accom- 
panied by her son and the illiterate Dame Quickly, 
meets Sir Hugh in the street, and this dialogue en- 
sues : 

"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 accidence. 

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/^/r, William ? 

William. Pnlcher. 

Quickly. Pole-cats ! there are fairer things than pole- 
cats, sure. 

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. 



104 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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, Singular tier, nominative, hie, hcec, hoc. 

Evans. Nominativo, hig, hag, /tog /--pray you, mark: 
genitivo, hnjus. Well, what is your accusative case ? 

William. Accusative, hinc. 

Evans. I pray you, have your remembrance, child ; ac- 
cusative, hung, hang, hog. 

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

Evans. Leave your prabbles, oman. What is the foca- 
tive case, William ? 

William. O ! vocativo, O ! . 

Evans. Remember, William ; focative is caret. 

Quickly. And that's a good root. 

Evans. 'Oman, forbear. 

Mrs. Page. Peace ! 

:}; ^; -^ * * -4: ;(; 

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 under- 
standings 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, quce, quod ; if you forget your quis, 
your qucES, 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." 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 105 

The Sententia Pueriks was a collection of brief sen- 
tences from many authors, including moral and relig- 
ious passages intended for the use of the boys on 
Saints' days. 

The Latin Grammar studied by William was certain- 
ly Lilly's, the standard manual of the time, as long be- 
fore 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. i. 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, famil- 
iar as he was with classical literature, going to his old 
Latin Grammar for a quotation from Terence, and not 
to the original wprks of that famous playwright ? 

In Love's Labour V Lost (iv. 2. 95) Holofernes quotes 
the " good old Mantuan," as he calls him, the passage 
being evidently a reminiscence of Shakespeare's school- 
boy 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 Shake- 
speare 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 



io6 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 Sentential Pueriles 
or similar Elizabethan phrase-books. 

THE NEGLECT OF ENGLISH. 

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 Eng- 
lish 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 ElementarU) published in 1582, he has the following 
plea for the study of English : 

" 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 read- 
ing must needs be such as the writing leads unto, there- 
fore, before I meddle with any particular precept, to 
direct the reader, I will thoroughly rip up the whole 
certainty of our English writing, 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 bene- 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 107 

ficial 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 writ- 
ing 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 un- 
certain, and scant to be recovered from extreme con- 
fusion, 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 im- 
possibility 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 ex- 
amine 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 writ- 
ing:, and the uncertain force of all our letters, in as 

O' ' 

much certainty as any writing can be, by these seven 
precepts : 

" i. General rule, which concerneth the property and 
use of each letter. 

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

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



io8 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

" 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 writ- 
ing of all incorporate foreign words. 

" 7. Prerogative, which declareth a reservation wherein 
common use will continue her precedence in our Eng- 
lish 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 particulari- 
ties 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 or- 
dinary use. 

" And forasmuch as the eye will help many to write 
right by a seen precedent, which either cannot under- 
stand or cannot entend to understand the reason of a 
rule, therefore in the end of this treatise for right writ- 
ing I purpose to set down a general table of most Eng- 
lish 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." 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 109 

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 com- 
plain ; 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 : 

" i. Because that language which all sorts and con- 
ditions 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 gram- 
matical translations, 1 ' and " translating and writing 
English, with some other school exercises." 

O ' 

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. 



no SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

SCHOOL LIFE IN SHAKESPEARE'S DAY. 

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 ex- 
ercises 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 elec- 
tion of the form or otherwise.* 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 rec- 
reation, or to prepare their exercises against the mas- 
ter'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 inter- 

* 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." 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY in 

mission 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 in- 
stant ; 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 read- 
ing 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 Brins- 
ley 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, 



H2 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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. 

SCHOOL MORALS. 

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, meach- 
er, or moocher is now obsolete, though the practice it 
suggests is not ; but a contemporary dictionary of Pro- 
vincial Words and Phrases gives this definition of the 
word: "Moocher a truant; a blackberry moucher. 
A boy who plays truant to pick blackberries." 

Idle pupils in those days often " made shift to es- 
cape correction '' by methods not unlike those known 
in our modern schools. Boys who had faithfully pre- 
pared 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 ex- 
perience 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 




WALK ON THE BANKS OF THE AVON 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 113 

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 school- 
boys 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. i. 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." 

SCHOOL DISCIPLINE. 

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 i6th century. 

8 



Ii 4 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 method. 

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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 115 

''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 Sch'olemaster, 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 school- 
master, 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 



n6 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 man- 
ners ; 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. 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 117 

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] school- 
masters, 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 school- 
master should rather discreetly consider the right dis- 
position 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 com- 
monly 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 



n8 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

learning." He adds : " If ten gentlemen be asked why 
they forget so soon in court that which they were learn- 
ing 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 " learn- 
ing should be taught rather by love than fear," 
and "the schoolhouse should be counted a sanctuary 
against fear. 

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 concern- 
ing the importance of the study of English. 

WHEN WILLIAM LEFT SCHOOL. 

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 begin- 
ning 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 prob- 
ably 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. 



PART IV 

GAMES AND SPORTS 







- 



BOYISH GAMES 

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 fre- 
quent, and rural sports and pastimes for young and old 
were many and varied. We may be sure that Shake- 
speare enjoyed these to the full. His writings abound 
in allusions to them which were doubtless reminis- 
cences of his own boyhood. 

Many of the children's games to which he refers are 



122 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

familiar to small folk now, especially in the rural dis- 
tricts. 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. i. 100) Hamlet asks: 
" Did these bones cost no more the breeding but to 
play at loggats with them ?" This refers to the throw- 
ing 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." 

Stool-ball, commonly played by girls and women, 
sometimes in company with boys or men, is to this 



f 

* - ' 




HIUE-AND-SEEK 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 123 

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 com- 
mon 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. 647 : 

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



A poet of the i6th 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 
Dray ton 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 " round- 
ers," out of which our Yankee base-ball has been de- 
veloped. 



124 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 1 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 run- 
ning 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 Mas- 
sachusetts fifty years ago. 

Barley-break is often alluded to by the dramatists and 
lyrists of Shakespeare's day, and complete poems were 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 125 

written upon it by Suckling, Herrick, and others. 
Shakespeare does not mention it, though he has sev- 
eral 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,' 1 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 inter- 
est 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. i. 82), where Dromio of Ephesus says to 
his mistress Adriana, who has been chiding him :- 



126 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

" 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 player." 

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, appar- 
ently, from any particular objection to the game in it- 
self, 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 \\isjBasiticon a set of rules for the 
nurture and conduct of Henry, Prince of Wales, the 
heir-apparent to the throne says :- 

" Certainly bodily exercises and games are very com- 
mendable, as well for banishing of idleness, the mother 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 127 

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 field- 
games." 

Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy, published in 
1621, mentions foot-ball among the "common recrea- 
tions of country folks," as distinguished from the "dis- 
ports 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 
CJiristmas, tells us (in 1816) that he himself had "often 
played at this game." He describes it substantially as 



128 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

follows : A log of wood called " Dun the cart-horse r 
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, pretend- 
ing 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 fore- 
fathers in the old country were easily amused. 

In Antony and Cleopatra (iii. 13. 91) we find an allu- 
sion 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. i), 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(\v. i), 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 muss !" 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 129 

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 some- 
thing 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 men- 
tioned by Aristotle, Plato, and other Greek writers. 

In the Midsummer- Nights Dream (ii. 2. 98) Tita- 
nia, 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 an- 
other, 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. 

9 



13 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 



A woodcut of 1520 represents two monkeys engaged 
at it. It was sometimes called "nine men's merrils," 

from merelhs, the old French 
name for the " men," or count- 
ers, with which it was played. 

The " quaint mazes " in Tita- 
nia's speech, according to the 
best English critics, refer to a 
game known as " running the 
figure of eight." 

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 print- 
ed in 1581, enumerates as suitable exercises for boys: 
" indoors, dancing, wrestling, fencing, the top and 
scourge [whip -top]; outdoor, walking, running, leap- 
ing, 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. 



SWIMMING AND FISHING. 



The spirited description of Ferdinand swimming 
(The Tempest, ii. i. 113-121) could have been written 
only by one well skilled in the art : 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 131 

" 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 Caesar and Cassius 
(Julius Ccesar, \. 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 charing with her shores, 
Csesar 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, 
Caesar cried, ' Help me, Cassius, or I sink !' 
I, as /Eneas, our great ancestor, 



132 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder 
The old Anchises bear, so from the waves of Tiber 
Did I the tired Caesar." 

Of course William often went a-fishing in the Avon, 
and understood, as Ursula says in Much Ado About 
Nothing (iii. i. 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." 



BEAR-BAITING. 

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 pleas- 
ures " provided for the entertainment of the former at 
Kenil worth in 1575, when thirteen great bears were 
worried by bandogs. 

On another occasion, when Elizabeth gave a splen- 
did 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 dis- 
ports," as the chronicle expresses it. 

Elizabeth was a lover of the drama, but was unwill- 
ing that it should interfere with these brute tragedies. 
In 1591, a royal edict forbade plays to be acted on 




/ 



FISHING IN THE 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 



133 



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 



- 




THE BEAR GARDEN, LONDON 



destruction of the game of bear-baiting and such 
like pastimes, which are maintained for her majesty's 
pleasure.' 1 

The clergy were as fond of these amusements as 



134 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

their parishioners appear to have been. Thomas Cart- 
wright, 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 Chesh- 
ire, " the town bear having died, the corporation in 
1 60 1 gave orders to sell their Bible in order to pur- 
chase 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 immemo- 
rial sport. 

There are many allusions to bear-baiting in Shake- 
speare. In Twelfth Night (i. 3. 98) Sir Andrew Ague- 
cheek 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 fol- 
lowed 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. i. 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. i. 148) we find a similar figure 
where York says to Clifford :- 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 135 

" 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. i. 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 quar- 
rel 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 descrip- 
tion] ; but women, indeed, cannot abide 'em ; they are 
very ill-favoured rough things." 

Sackerson was a famous bear exhibited at Paris Gar- 
den, a popular bear-garden on the Bankside in Lon- 
don, 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 



136 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 davs after he died.' 

j 

James I. prohibited baiting on Sundays, but did not 
otherwise discourage it. In the time of the Common- 
wealth Paris Garden was shut up, the bear was killed, 
and the amusement forbidden ; but with the Restora- 
tion 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 re- 
fused to pass the bill. It was not until the year 1835 
that baiting was finally abolished by an act of Parlia- 
ment, forbidding " the keeping of any house, pit, or 
other place, for baiting or fighting any bull, bear, 
dog, or other animal."" 

COCK-FIGHTING AND COCK-THROWING. 

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 i6th 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 gram- 
mar school in 1513 was content with restricting the 
sport to "twice a year." 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 137 

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 (An- 
tony and Cleopatra, ii. 3. 36) : 

" 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 inhoopcd, 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 vic- 
torious cock over his beaten antagonist. 

In the Taming of the Shrew (ii. i. 228), Katharina 
says to Petruchio, " You crow too like a craven." 
This word craven, which meant a base coward, was of- 
ten 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 



133 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 
i4th century, and which was not uncommon in Eng- 
land less than a hundred years ago, is said to have 
been peculiar to that country. 

Sir Thomas More, writing in the i6th 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 prej- 
udice against the cock. On the contrary, in a very 
beautiful passage in Hamlet (i. i. 158), he associates 
the bird with the joy and hope of Christmas: 

" 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." 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 139 

OTHER CRUEL SPORTS. 

When the Chief Justice says to Falstaff (2 Henry IV. 
\. 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 War- 
wickshire 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! i. 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 m;iy suppose 
that it was solely for the mischief done to private prop- 
erty. 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-treat- 
ment. 

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 recog- 
nized its wantonness, and more than once reproved 



140 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

the brutality of children of larger growth in their sports 
and amusements. 

In Lear (iv. i. 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. i. 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 i. 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 gord. 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 141 

i 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, meet- 
ing 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 :- 



142 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

"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 wres- 
tler ; 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 Bean. 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. 

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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 143 

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 com- 
manded 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 prac- 
tice 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 train- 
ing 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 un- 
learn their bad habits than would suffice to teach 
them good ones. 

One of the statutes of Henry VIII. forbade any per- 
son 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 Eliza- 
beth, to encourage skill in the art. At one of these, held 



144 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

in London in 1583, there was a procession of three thou- 
sand 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 whifHers (heralds or ushers) 
and billmen, besides pages and footmen. They went 
through the city to Smithfield, where, after perform- 
ing 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 1 shot a fine shoot : 
John o' Gaunt loved him well, and betted much money 
on his head. Dead ! a 1 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. i. 39) Beatrice, mak- 
ing 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, 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 145 

he posted a challenge, inviting Cupid to compete with 
him in shooting with \htflight, 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, ex- 
claims, " Shot, by heaven ! Proceed, sweet Cupid ; thou 
hast thumped him with thy bird-bolt." 

HUNTING 

Professor Baynes, in his article on Shakespeare in 
the Encyclopedia Britannica, says : " It is clear that in 
his early years the poet had some experience of hunt- 
ing, 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 



IO 



146 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

mouth of Theseus in the Midsummer - Nigh? s Dream 
(iv. i. 1 08) : 

"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." 

The talk of the hunters about the dogs in The Tam- 
ing of the Shrew (ind. i. 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 



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GARDEN AT NEW PLACE 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 147 

At the hedge corner, in the coldest fault? 
I would not lose the dog for twenty pound. 

i 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. i. 96) Page de- 
fends his greyhound against the criticisms of Slender, 
and Shallow takes his part : 

"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 (hunt- 
ing 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 ; 



148 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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. 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 149 

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, 



150 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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, 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 151 

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 fol- 
lows : "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." 

FOWLING. 

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

In As You Like It (v. 4. in) 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 



152 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 particu- 
larly 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 con- 
ceal a more important object, or to mask one's real in- 
tention. Thus an old writer describes a hypocrite as 
one "that makes religion his stalking-horse." 

In the Mid summer- Nigh f s Dream (iii. 2. 20) Puck, de- 
scribing 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 i Henry IV. (iv. 2. 21) Falstaff says that his re- 
cruits are " such as fear the report of a caliyer [mus- 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 153 

ket] worse than a struck fowl or a hurt wild-duck." 
And in Much Ado (ii. i. 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 27ie Tempest (ii. i. 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 Hun- 
ger 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. 

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 Shake- 
speare'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 improve- 



154 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

ment 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 Iti?ierary, 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 writ- 
ten 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. i. 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. i. 196) Petruchio 
employs the same figure with reference to Katha- 
rina : 

" 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 be- 
coming popular when the play was written, are sneer- 
ingly 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, 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 



155 



my eyas-musket ! what news with you ?" The eyas- 
musket was the young sparrow-hawk, a small and in- 




ELIZABKTH HAWKING 



ferior species of hawk. The word is derived from the 
Latin musca, a fly, and probably refers to the small 
sue of the bird, It is curious that, as applied to the 



156 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

firearm, it has the same origin. The gun was figura- 
tively compared to the hawk as a means of taking 
birds. Similarly, a kind of cannon used in the i6th 
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 lure 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 hawk- 
ing, on account of its inferiority in size and strength. 
In descriptions of the sport we find the female pro- 
noun 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 Shake- 
speare. 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 157 

In Henry V. (iii. 7. 121) the Constable, sneering at 
the Dauphin, says of his boasted valor : " Never any- 
body 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 lago 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 sen- 
tence. Haggard, already mentioned, is used as an ad- 
jective, meaning wild or lawless. ^^ 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." 



158 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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.' 1 There is another figurative allusion to them 
in 3 Henry VI. i. i. 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 

o 

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, grad- 
ually 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 be- 
came 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 man- 
ners and customs. The one needs to be known in 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 



159 



- 




BOY WITH HAWK AND HOUNDS 



order to understand the other. To take a fresh ex- 
ample, John Skelton, who lived in the time of Henry 
VIII. , refers to a lady thus : 

" Merry Margaret, 

As midsummer flower; 
Gentle as falcon, 

Or hawk of the tower." 



160 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

If we should compare a young lady nowadays to a 
falcon or a hawk, she would hardly take it as a com- 
pliment ; 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 predic- 
tive 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 gist 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. 

%. % * ^ ^C * % 

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. 



THEATRICAL ENTERTAINMENTS. 

When the players came to town I suspect that no 
Stratford boy was more delighted than William. John 



's 




ITINERANT PLAYERS IN A COUNTRY HALL 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 161 

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 auto- 
biography, 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 court- 
iers 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 coun- 
sellors, . . . 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 



162 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 discov- 
ered [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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 163 

for the drama in the breast of young William and shap- 
ing 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 in- 
fluences of many characteristics of the man, the poet, 
and the dramatist. 




WILLIAM KEMI* DANCING THE MORRIS 



PART V 
HOLIDAYS, FESTIVALS, FAIRS, ETC 







THE BOUNDARY ELM 



SAINT GEORGE'S DAY. 

WE do not know the precise date of William Shake- 
speare'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 



1 68 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 par- 
ticular day, for it was Saint George's day, a great holi- 
day and time of feasting throughout the kingdom, Saint 
George being the patron saint of England. 

There is a book with which Shakespeare was doubt- 
less 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 
1 lived happily ever after,' in Warwickshire, where, some- 
time 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 Saint. 

" 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 in- 
fant and educated him by magic power to become a 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 169 

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 re- 
vealed 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 an- 
tique splendor. Mr. Wall gives the following descrip- 
tion of the festival :- 

" How great would be the preparations ! Old arms 



fyo SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

and armor from the Guild's collection would be bur- 
nished up to be used by the town watch and the arch- 
ers. 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 overflowing. 

" On the day, gravel would be spread along the pro- 
cession'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 school- 
master (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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 171- 

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 irre- 
pressible 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 Egyp- 
tian Princess, personated by the prettiest girl in Strat- 
ford (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 paste- 
board), 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 



172 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 child- 
ishly 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 born.' 

EASTER. 

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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 173 

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 Juliei\ has given life and movement 
to the sun :- 

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

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

Sir John Suckling, in his Ballad upon a Wedding, 
alludes prettily to this old superstition in the descrip- 
tion 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- 5 2 ) ; 



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



174 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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

THE PERAMBULATION OF THE PARISH. 

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 boun- 
dary-tree an elm to which reference is made in rec- 
ords of the i6th century. From that point the boun- 
dary 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 Ro- 
gation Week (six weeks after Easter), the clergy, the 
magistrates and public officers, and the inhabitants, in- 
cluding 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, 1 ' 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 "Ro- 
gation Days of Procession " was prescribed, " without 
addition of any superstitious ceremonies heretofore 
used "; and it was subsequently ordered that the cu- 
rate on such occasions " shall admonish the people to 
give thanks to God in the beholding of God's bene- 
fits," and enforce the scriptural denunciations against 
those who remove their neighbors' landmarks. Izaak 
Walton tells how the pious Hooker encouraged these 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 175 

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 peram- 
bulation he would usually express more pleasant dis- 
course than at other times, and would then always drop 
some loving and facetious observations, to be remem- 
bered 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 multi- 
tude of infirmities." 

" And so," remarks Mr. Knight, after quoting this 
passage, " listening to the gentle words of some ven- 
erable Hooker of his time, would the young Shake- 
speare 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 War- 
wick lying cradled in their surrounding woods. . . . 
At the northern extremity of the high land, which prin- 
cipally belongs to the estate of Clopton, and which was 
doubtless a park in early times, we have a panoramic 



176 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 defi- 
nite 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.' ' 

MAY-DAY AND THE MORRIS- DANCE. 

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 Puri- 
tans. Philip Stubbes, in his Anatomic 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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 177 

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 dedi- 
cation of their idols, whereof this is a perfect pattern, 
or rather the thing itself." 

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 en- 



12 



178 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

joyed 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 V Dream (iv. i.) 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 man- 
uscript 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 ist], 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 per- 
fumed 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 Toilet 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." 

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 :- 



- 



-. -.- ; - t 

'**' 



^l!i|;1 



' pS^I 

'<!:.-"' kt'it 



^.SSfcvO--, i-V i -' > Ji TilD v: ' 








SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 179 

" 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 Rob- 
in 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 Pi- 
per, 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 paste- 
board 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 dan- 
cers, 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 



i8o SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 La- 
bour 's Lost (iii. i. 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. i.) we find: "Shall the hobby- 
horse be forgot then ?" and in Ben Jonson's Entertain- 
ment at Althorp : " But see, the hobby-horse is forgot." 

Friar Tuck is alluded to by Shakespeare in The Two 
Gentlemen of Verona (iv. i. 36), where one of the Out- 
laws 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 Eng- 
land, 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 ab- 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY iSr 

sence from the dance : " There is no Maid Marian nor 
Friar amongst them." 1 

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 god- 
dess 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 i Henry IV. (iii. 3. 129), Falstaff refers contemptu- 
ously to " Maid Marian " as a low character, which she 
had doubtless become by the time (1596 or 1597) when 
that play was written. 

The connection of the morris-dance with May-day is 
alluded to in All V 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; 



182 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 mock- 
ery 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 unreali- 
ties 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 com- 
panions 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 ; 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 183 

" ' 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 ; 



184 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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. 

Whitsuntide, the season of Pentecost, or the week 
following Whitsunday (the seventh Sunday after East- 
er), 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 it : 

" ' 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 Eng- 
land that it became a part of the name of various fes- 
tal 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 i7th century, says that in his grand- 
father's days the church-ale at Whitsuntide furnished 
all the money needed for the relief of the parish poor. 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 185 

He adds : " In every parish is, or was, a church-house, 
to which belonged spits, crocks, etc., utensils for dress- 
ing 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 drunk- 
en Bacchus bears sway, against Christmas and Easter, 
Whitsuntide, or some other time, the churchwardens of 
every parish, with the consent of the whole parish, pro- 
vide 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 con- 
ferring 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 pic- 
nics, 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 together." 

Whitsuntide was also a favorite time for theatrical 
performances. Long before Shakespeare's day the 
miracle-plays and moralities had been popular at this 



1 86 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

season ; and these, as we have seen (page 17), were 
still kept up when he was a boy, together with " pasto- 
rals " 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 jny 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. 



MIDSUMMER EVE. 

The Vigil of Saint John the Baptist, or the evening 
before the day (June 24) dedicated to that Saint, was 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 187 

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 demonstra- 
tions 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 bon- 
fire 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, add- 
ed 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 bones." 

In the Ordinary of the Company of Cooks at New- 
castle-upon-Tyne, 1575, we read among other regula- 
tions: "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 



1 88 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 ist is the entry: "Item, to 
the pages of the hall, for making of the King's bone- 
fire upon Midsummer Eve, xj." 

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 i Henry IV. (ii. i. 95) Gadshill says: "We 
steal as in a castle, cock-sure ; we have the receipt of 
fern-seed,, we walk invisible " ; to which the Chamber- 
lain replies : " Nay, by my faith, I think ye are more 
beholding to the night than to fern-seed for your walk- 
ing invisible." In Ben Jonson's New Inn (i. i) one of 
the characters says :- 

" I had 

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



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 189 

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 (hal- 
lowed 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 ac- 
count 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 con- 
stantly 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 himself ! 

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 



I go SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

is very midsummer madness." Steevens, the Shake- 
spearian critic, believed that the Midsummer-Nighf s 
Dream owed its title to this association of mental va- 
garies with the season. John Heywood, writing in the 
latter part of the i6th century, alludes to the same 
belief when he says : 

" 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' 1 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 fes- 
tivities 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 mani- 
fest themselves to mortal vision either in vigils or in 
dreams. 

CHRISTMAS. 

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. War- 



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SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 191 

wickshire 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 Strat- 
ford gladly woke out of his innocent sleep, after the 
evening bells had rung him to rest, when in the still- 
ness of the night the psaltery was gently touched be- 
fore 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 half- 
penny ballads. A man who had a mind attuned to 
the love of what was beautiful in the past has pre- 



192 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

served 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 Christ- 
mas.' 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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 193 

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, \ve 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 Loves Labour V 
Lost (v. 2. 462) "a Christmas comedy' is alluded to; 
and in 77ie 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." 

SHEEP-SHEARING. 

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 Win- 
ter'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 ^rass, 
Gay shearing-time approaches." 
13 



i 9 4 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 Warwick- 
shire 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 cir- 
cumstance 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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 195 

upon the keen and prying observation of a boy occu- 
pied and interested with such details. Surely his fa- 
ther'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-shear- 
ing ; 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 delicacies." 

Shakespeare evidently knew for what the rice was 
wanted at the feast ; but the clown, who was no cook, 
mi^ht be familiar with the flavor of the cakes without 

o 

understanding all the ingredients that entered into 
their composition. 

Thomas Tusser, in his Five Hundred Points of Hus- 
bandry (1557), describing this festival, makes the shep- 
herd 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." 



HARVEST-HOME. 

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 



1 96 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 flow- 
ers, 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 fur- 
menty-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, 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 197 

Crown'd with the cars 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 mavvkin, 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, vea), 
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, un- 
der August, we read :- 

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



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

The harvest-home is alluded to in i 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 harvest-home." 

In the interlude in The Tempest (iv. i. 134) the dance 
of the Reapers was apparently a reminiscence of 
harvest-home sports. Iris says : 

" 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 iri the i2th Sonnet, though it 
has nothing of festival joyousness, may have been sug- 
gested 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 tip in sheaves 
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard" etc. 

MARKETS AND FAIRS. 

In a quiet country town like Stratford the weekly 
market was an occasion of some interest to the boys as 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 199 

to their elders. There is still such a market on Fri- 
days at Stratford, when wares of many sorts are ex- 
posed 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 sell- 
ers. " 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 pur- 
chase 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 deal- 
ers 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 Loves 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. i. in) there is an allusion to the 
old proverb, "Three women and a goose make a mar- 
ket," 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, mak- 
ing fun of Orlando's verses which Rosalind has just 
read, says: "Til rhyme you so eight years together, 
dinners and suppers and sleeping-hours excepted : it is 



200 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

the right butter-women's rank to market " ; that is, the 
metre is just like the jog-trot of countrywomen rid- 
ing to market one after another, with their butter 
and eggs. 

In Richard III. (i. i. 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 prov- 
erb, that he is counting his chickens before they are 
hatched ; that is, he is too hasty in reckoning upon the 
success of his plans. 

In i 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. 

i Soldier. Our sacks shall be a mean to sack the city, 
And we be lords and rulers over Rouen ; 
Therefore we'll knock. {Knocks. 



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: , ' .__ 

- J 




THE FAIR 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 201 

Guard. [ Within.} Oui est la ? 

Pucelle. Paisans, pauvrcs gens dc France: 
Poor market-folks, that come to sell their corn. 

Guard. [Opening- the gates.\ Enter, go in; the mar- 
ket-bell is rung. 

Pucelle. Now, Rouen, I'll shake thy bulwarks to the 
ground." 

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 pro- 
posed 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 boast- 
ingly, " 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 ex- 
posed for sale in the Rother Market. Sellers of but- 



202 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

ter, 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. Pew- 
terers were ordered to " pitch v 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 stew- 
ards to the P'airs 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 scat- 
ters consternation around. It is the Queen's Pur- 
veyor. 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 War- 
wick's stables at a considerable profit to Master Pur- 
veyor. 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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 203 

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 imag- 
ine 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, Beris 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 meas- 
ures. . . . 

"The Fair is over; the booths are taken down; the 
woolen statute-caps, which the commonest people re- 
fuse 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-staving wives after the fashion of the Wife 

J O 

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.' 



204 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 Loves Labour V Lost, besides the one quoted 
above (page 199), we find the following simile in Biron's 
eulogy of Rosaline (iv. 3. 235) : 

" 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 Winter s 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 



THE BOY 205 

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 Stam- 
ford fair ?" and Silence replies, " By my troth, I was 
not there." Later (v. i. 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 proces- 
sion, 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 market-towns !" 

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 1 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 gath- 
erings, whether festal or commercial, hawkers and ped- 
dlers came to sell their wares and merchants set up 
their stalls and booths, often in the very churchyard 



2o6 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

and even on a Sunday. The clergy naturally de. 
nounced 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 besides." 

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. 

SJC SJ 5J -j 5p !jt 

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. 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 207 

RURAL OUTINGS. 

Much of the recreation, as of the education, of Wil- 
liam 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 garden- 
er'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 maybe 
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 \Vilmcote, the home of his mother, was with- 
in 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 
Shakespeare's. 



208 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 evi- 
dence. 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 Mil- 
ton'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 Skakespeare ; 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; 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 209 

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 clown." 

Mr. Ellacombe, commenting upon this dialogue, re- 
marks : "This most interesting passage would almost 
14 



210 SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

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 experi- 
ence 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 //., 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. 



NOTES 



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 prose. 

The numbers appended to names of authors (as in the note on page 22, for ex- 
ample) 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. 



NOTES 



\ 



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 cho- 
rographical 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 patri- 
otic 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 IVilmecote, and Wilnecote ; 
and in old documents, Wilmcott, IVincott, etc. It is probably the 
Wincot of The Taming of the Shrew (ind. 2. 23) and the Woncot 
of 2 Henry IV. (v. I. 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 re- 
search. 




> 



I 



214 NOTES 

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 ser- 
vice, 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 j> 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." 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 215 

13. Master Robert Lane ha in. He was an English mer- 
chant 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 Kenihvorth, 
which was afterwards printed. He is one of the characters in 
Scott's Kenihvorth. 

Page 1-4. 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 recorded. 

Page 10. 77/(? 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. i. 82, Hamlet, iii. 4. 98, etc., and the notes in my edi- 
tion. 

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 2Oth 
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. 



2i6 NOTES 

Page 26. The banished Duke in As Yon Like It, etc. See 
the play, ii. i. i-iS. 

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 Loves 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 landsd estate, with a village or vil- 
lages upon it the inhabitants of which were generally villeins, or 
serfs of the owner or lord. These vuleins 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." 
Foi the menial services rendered by the villeins, and their condi- 
tion generally, see the following pages. 

Page 32. A chantry. A church or a chapel (as here) en- 
dowed 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. I. 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 
1 8th 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." 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 217 

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. I. 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 4t). In which William Shakespeare was probably born. 
We have no positive information on this point ; but \ve 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 birth- 
place is correctly so designated "; and he himself accepts the tradi- 
tion 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 Hath- 
away, 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 dilapi- 
dated 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 Underbill, whose family continued to 
hold it until Shakespeare bought it. He left k by his will to his 
daughter Susanna, who had married Dr. John Hall, and who prob- 
ably occupied it until her death in 1649, when she had been 3 



218 NOTES 

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, but ultimate- 
ly reverted by will to the Clopton family. Sir John Clopton re- 
built 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, how- 
ever, 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 asso- 
ciations 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 hori- 
zontal section of the stock of the mulberry-tree planted by Shake- 
speare at Stratford-upon-Avon." 

Page 52. William Harrison. An English clergyman, of whose 
history we know little except that he was bora in London, became 
rector of Radwinter, Essex, and canon of Windsor, wrote a De- 
scription of Britaine and England and other historical books, and 
probably died in 1592. His detailed account of the state of Eng- 
land and the manners and customs of the people in the i6th cen- 
tury is particularly valuable. 

Page 54. Strewn with rushes. There are many allusions to 
this in Shakespeare. In The Taming of the Shrew (\v. i. 48), when 
Petruchio is coming home, Grumio asks : ''Is supper ready, the 
house trimmed, rushes strewed, cobwebs swept ?" Compare Borneo 
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. 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 219 

Page 55. - - Thomas Coryat, born in 1577 and educated at 
Oxford, was celebrated for his pedestrian journeys on the Con- 
tinent of Europe. In 1608 he travelled through France, Ger- 
many, 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 Od- 
combe." 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 obei- 
sance was used by both sexes in Shakespeare's day. Cf. 2 Henry 
IV. ii. i. 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. I : " Not too fast ; say [recite] treatably." 

Much f order. 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. 



220 NOTES 

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 Go. Utterly detest. That is, detested. The omission of 
-ed in the participles of verbs ending in d and / (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 de- 
generate." See also tfichard 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, Epiccene, iii. I : " 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. I. 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 through/ares (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 ad- 
vanced age in 1552. He was educated at Oxford, became a priest, 
and was vicar of several parishes in England before he was pro- 
moted 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 anti- 
quarian, 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, 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 221 

Page 70. Dr. Jo/in Jones. A physician, who practised at 
Bath and Buxton, England, and wrote a number of medical works 
between 1556 and 1579. 

Page 7 1 . A'o of her 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. I. 58 : " To make a stale 
of me among these mates"; but this is doubtful. 

Page 73. She was pinclid. The she is used in a demonstra- 
tive 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 
jjeen in marshy places ; but Friar Rush, according to Keightley, 
" haunted houses, not fields, and was never the same with Jack-o'- 
the-Lantern." 

Page 74. The drudging goblin. Robin Goodfellow, the Puck 
of Shakespeare. Cf. A Midsummer" Night's Dream, ii, i. 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, 
aud in 1561 was made clerk of the ordnance in the Tower of Lon- 
don. 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 7(>. 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 I3th or early in the I4th cen- 
tury, 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. 



222 NOTES 

Page 78. The trumpet to the morn. The trumpeter that an- 
nounces the coming of day. Trumpet in this sense occurs several 
times in Shakespeare ; as in Henry V. iv. 2. 61 : ''I will the ban- 
ner from a trumpet take," etc. 

Extravagant and erring. Both words are used in their etymo- 
logical 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. I. 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 7). A laund. An open space in a forest. See 3 Henry 
VI. iii. i. 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 lyth century. 
Shakespeare was doubtless baptized at it. 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 

Page 82. John Stow. A noted English antiquarian and his- 
torian (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 chil- 
dren 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. Marclipanc was a kind of almond - cake, much 
esteemed in the time of Shakespeare. Compare Romeo and Ju- 
liet, i. 5. 9 : " Good thou, save me a piece of marchpane." Sweet- 
suckers are dried sweetmeats or sugar-plums, also called suckets, 
stic cades, etc. 

Pag'C 85. Wote. Know ; more commonly written ivot. It is 
the first and third persons singular, indicative present, of the obso- 
lete verb wit. Unweeting (unwitting), unknowing or unconscious, 
is from the same vepb. 

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. Reshrew. 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 con- 
found a man," etc. 

Page ^.Astrologaster. The full title was " The Astrolo- 
gaster, or the Figurecaster : Rather the Arraignment of Artless 
Astrologers and Fortune Tellers." 

Page 80. 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 sun- 



224 NOTES 

rise, 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 ef- 
ficacious 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 Groats-worth of Wit (pub- 
lished 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 
Faivnia, as it was subsequently entitled. 

Webster s White Devil. John Webster, who wrote in the early 
part of the lyth century, was a dramatist noted for his tragedies, 
among which The White Devil (i_(y*L2) 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 Dis- 
coverie 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 Prczstigiis 
Demonuni) in which the general belief in magic and witchcraft was 
attacked. 

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 Hars- 
net (1561-1631) entitled Declaration of Egregious Popish Impos- 
tures, 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, eti- 
quette, education, etc. His father, whose name was the same, was 
also an author, and it is doubtful whether certain books were writ- 
ten 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 Toxophihis (1545) and the Scholemaster (see page 115 
below). 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 



225 



Page 97. Took on him as a conjurer. Pretended to be a con- 
jurer. Compare 2 Henry IV. iv. i. 60 : "I take not on me here 
as a physician." 

Pilge 98. IVho could speak Latin, etc. Latin, the language of 
the church, was used in exorcising spirits. Compare Hamlet (i. i. 
42), where, on the appearance of the Ghost, Marcellus says : " Thou 
art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio." So in Much Ado About 
Xothing()\. i. 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. i : 

" 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. 




INTERIOR OF GRAMMAR sCIIonl., HKloRK TIIK I; KS I ( ' K ATK >N 



226 NOTES 

Page 101. Shenstone. William Shenstone (1714-1763) was 
educated at Pembroke College, Oxford. His best-known work is 
The Schoolmistress. 

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 Shak- 
spere). 

Page 103. Sententicc 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 
knight." 

'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 
odd. 

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 ap- 
pear 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 : 

1 ' Articles are borrowed of the Pronoune, and be thus declined : 

C Nomin. hie, h<zc, hoc. ~\ f Nomin. hi, h<z, hcec. 

o> Genetivo hujus. -~ Gen. horum, harum. horum. 

~ti I i <L> I 

' J Dativo huic. I J Dativo his. 

^ | Ace. htinc, hanc, hoc. j 2 j A ecus, hos, has, h<zc. 

.S j Vocativo caret. ^ Vocativo caret. 

00 (_ Ablativo hoc, hac, hoc. J [_ 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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 227 

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 hanged." 

Leave your prabbles. That is, your brabbles. The word literally 
means quarrels or broils ; as in Twelfth Night, v. I. 68 : 'In 
private brabble did we apprehend him." Sir Hugh uses it loosely 
with reference to the Dame's interruptions and criticisms. 

! vocativo, O ! The boy hesitates, trying to recall the voca- 
tive, 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 Acci- 
dence, which probably here also agrees with the Short Introduc- 
tion, where in the first declension we find: " Vocativo d musa "/ 
in the second : " Vocativo 6 magister" etc. 

William Lilly (or Lily), the author of the Latin Grammar men- 
tioned 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 " Brevis- 
sima Institutio, seu, Ratio Grammatices cognoscendae, ad omnium 
puerorum utilitatem proescripta." 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 77ie Taming of the Shrew (iii. i. 18), where Bianca says 
to her teachers : " I am no breeching scholar in the schools." 

Sprag. That is, sprack, which meant quick, ready. The word 
is Scotch, as well as Provincial English, and Scott uses it in 
Waverlev (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: " Kedime te captum quam queas minimo." 
The original Latin is : " Quid agas, nisi ut te redimas captum," etc. 

1'age 100. RicharJ Mulcuster. The poet Spenser was one of 



228 NOTES 

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 correct- 
ing 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 some- 
times 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 tip. That is, analyze. 

Page 107. The natural English. That is, natives of Eng- 
land. 

Will not yield fiat 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 orthog- 
raphy 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 other- 
wise be some doubt. 

Likes the pen. Suits the pen. Compare Hamlet ii. 2. So: "it 
likes us well " ; Henry V. iii. prol. 32 : " The offer likes not," etc. 

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. I. 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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 229 

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. Com- 
pare 2 Henry IV. ii. 4. 263 : " He a good wit? . . . there 's no 
more conceit in him than is in a mallet." 

Page \\)*--John Brinsley became master of the grammar 
school at Ashby-de-la-Zouche in 1601, where he remained for six- 
teen years. The full title of his book is I Aldus Literarius, or the 
Grammar Schoole (1612). He writes much better English than 
Mulcaster, and young people will find no difficulty in understand- 
ing 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 pun- 
ishment. 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 dis- 
like 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 Hus- 
bandry, 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. I. 228:- 

" Don Pedro. To be whipped? What 's his fault? 
Benedick. The flat transgression of a schoolboy," etc. 



230 NOTES 

Page 118. A sanctuary against/car. 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 pre- 
cincts of Westminster Abbey, which retained its privileges until 
the dissolution of the monastery, and for debtors until 1602. Com- 
pare Richard III. (ii. 4. 66), where Queen Elizabeth says : " Come, 
come, my boy ; we will to sanctuary." 

Page V&.Hoodman-blind. In All 's Well that Ends Well 
(iv. 3. 136), when Parolles is brought in blindfolded to his com- 
panions in arms, whom he supposes to be enemies that have capt- 
ured 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 con- 
cerned 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 Kenihvorth 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 inhabi- 
tants. 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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 231 

for Parish-garden ?" This was a vulgar pronunciation of Paris- 
garden. The place was noted for its noise and disorder. 

Page 130. DC -an Colet. John Colet (1456-1519), dean of St. 
Paul's in 1505. The school was founded in 1512. 

Page 138. Sir Thomas Afore. The well-known English 
author and statesman, born in 1478, and executed on Tower Hill 

in 1535- 

No planets strikt. That is, exert a baleful influence ; an allu- 
sion to astrology. 

No fairy takes. Blasts, or bewitches. Compare The Alerry 
Wives of Windsor, iv. 4. 32 : "blasts the tree and takes the cat- 
tle," 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. i. 18), where Hermione says to 
her women who are grieved at the unjust charge against her, " Do 
not weep, poor fools !" 

IL\\Q forked heads are heads of arrows. Ascham refers to such in 
his Toxophilus. 

Page 141. A poor sequester d stag. Separated from his com- 
panions. 

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 Ency- 
clopedia Britannica. 

Page 14G. 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. i. 7 : "And churl- 
ish 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 con- 
sequence 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. /// the coldest fault. When the scent was cold- 
est (or faintest), and the hounds most at fault. Compare the 



232 NOTES 

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 London. 

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 w/iic/i, and which (see on page 108 above) 
where we should use who. 

It yearn d my heart. That is, grieved it. Compare Henrv V. 
iv. 3. 26 : ' It yearns me not when men my garments wear," etc. 

Page 150. Jouncing. 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 K. Wise. Compare page 26 above. 

Page 155. The cut is a fac-simile of one in The Booke oj 
Falconrie (1575), by George Turbervile, or Turberville (1520?- 
1595?), an English poet, translator, and writer on hunting, hawk- 
ing, etc. 

Page 156. Cotgrave. Randle Cotgrave, an English lexicog- 
rapher, who died about 1634. His French- English Dictionarv 
(first published in 1611) is still valuable in the study of French and 
English philology. 

Page \\).John Skelton. An English scholar and poet, a 
protege 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 iii their horse. That is, their horses, the 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 233 

word here being plural. Plurals and possessives of nouns ending 
in j-sounds were often written without the additional syllable in 
the time of Shakespeare. Cf. Kiti^ John, ii. I. 289: "Sits on 
his horse back at mine hostess' door"; Merchant of Venice, iv. 
I. 255: "Are there balance here to weigh the flesh ?" etc. 

PagTC 163. ll-'illiain 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 Jon- 
son's, when they were first put upon the stage. In 1599 he jour- 
neyed from London to Norwich, dancing the Morris all the way. 
The next year he published an account of the exploit, entitled The 
Nine dales ivonder. The cut here is a fac-simile of one on the 
title-page of this pamphlet. It represents Kemp, with his attend- 
ant, 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 occa- 
sion 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 por- 
tions of the journey the roads were very bad, and his dancing was 
frequently interrupted by the hospitality or importunity of the peo- 
ple along the route. At Norwich he was received as an honored 
guest by the mayor of the city 

Page 108. Corresponded to our -$d 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, biogra- 
phers, and other writers into mistakes concerning dates in the i6th, 
iyth, and iSth 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 2^d of April has come to be generally recog- 



234 A'OTES 

nized as tlie anniversary, there is no particular reason for chang- 
ing 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 Ire- 
land, and St. David of Wales. 

Mr. A. II. 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 2gth of June, 1613, when, as the critics generally agree, Shake- 
speare'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* his companie were acting at y e Globe the play of 
Hen = 8, and there shooting of certayne chambers in way of tri- 
umph, the fire catch'd." Another account states that these can- 
non were fired on King Henry's arrival at Cardinal Wolsey's 
house ; and the original stage-direction in Henry VIII. (iv. i.) 
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 

* Richard Burbage (is67?-i6i9) was a noted English actor. He made his 
fame at the Blackfriars and the Globe, of which he was a proprietor. He ex- 
celled 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. 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 235 

long been modernised, the only existing portions of the ancient 
building being a few massive beams supporting the tloor over the 
cellar " (Halliwell-Phillipps). 

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 Wedding. 

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 (15537-1600) was a celebrated theologian, 
author of Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, four books of which ap- 
peared in 1592, a fifth in 1597, and the remaining three after his 
death. 

Page 180. Warner s Albion s England. William Warner 
(1558 7-1609) was tne author of Albion s England (1586), a rhymed 
history of the country, and the translator of the Menccchmi 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. i. 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 Winters Tale, iv. 4. 176 : ' She dances f eatly " ; 
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 Winters Tale, iv. 4. 431), as the scrip 
js his pouch or wallet. Compare As You Like It (iii. 2. 171), 



236 NOTES 

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 I7th 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 per- 
formance 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 grati- 
fication of dragging unsuspicious innocents into the mire with him. 
He was, in short, the very Puck of commentators." 

John Heywood ( 1 500 7-1580) was a dramatist and epigrammatist. 
His interludes " prepared the way for English comedy," the char- 
acters 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 in- 
dulgences, or pardons. 

No night is now, etc. The quotation is from A Midsummer- 
Nighfs Dream, ii. I. 102. 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 237 

191, ff onsen. 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. 

IVaes-hael. Anglo-Saxon for " Be hale (whole, or well)," equiva- 
lent to " Here's to your health." IVassail is a corruption of this 
salutation, which from this meaning was transferred to festive gath- 
erings 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 equiva- 
lent) ; but occasionally he appears simply as "John Shakspere," 
and some of these entries were formerly supposed to refer to the 
father of the dramatist. 

The Lord of Misrule. The person chosen to direct the Christ- 
mas 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 mis- 
chief) 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 lie investeth with his liveries, of green, yellow, or 
some other light wanton color. . . . And they have their hobby- 



238 NOTES 

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 handker- 
chiefs 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 sum- 
mer halls, their bowers, arbors, and banqueting houses set up, 
wherein they feast, banquet, and dance all that day, and (perad- 
venture) 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 exe- 
crable 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 in- 
consistent with the discipline of students. But some grave gover- 
nors 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 Strat- 
ford 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. I. 277). 

To burn this night with torches. That is, to prolong the festiv- 
ities. The quotation is from Antony and Cleopatra, iv. 2. 41. 

John Dyer (1700-1758) was an English poet, author of Grongar 
Hill (1727), The Ruins of Rome ( 1 740), etc. 



L'-Fi r 




CLOPTON MONUMENTS 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 239 

Page 194. Flaums. 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 coun- 
ters" (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 Hentznet. He was a native or Silesia 
(1558-1623) who wrote a Journey through Germany, Frajicc, 
Italy, etc. 

.} faff hew Stevenson wrote several other books in prose and verse, 
published between 1654 and 1673. 

The fitrmenty-pot. The word fnrmenty is a corruption of fni- 
menty (see page 197), which is derived from the Latin f rumen turn t 
meaning wheat. The hulled wheat, boiled in milk and seasoned, 
was a popular dish in England, as it still is in the rural districts. 



240 NOTES 

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 matukin. A kitchen-wench, or other menial 
servant. The word is only a phonetic spelling of malkin, which 
Shakespeare has in Coriolanus, ii. i. 224: "the kitchen malkin." 
Compare Tennyson, The Princess, v. 25 . 

' If this be he, or a draggled mawkin, them, 
That tends her bristled grunters in the sludge ; 

that is, a female swineherd. 

Prank them tip. Adorn themselves. 

The fill-horse. The wordy?//, 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. I. 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 i6th century to the close of the 
1 7th. In 1624 a little book was published with the title, Love's 
Garland, or Posies for Rings, Handkerchiefs, and Gloves ; and site h 
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 
committed. 

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. 

N apery. 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 rib- 
bons, or galloons. Inkles are a kind of tape. Pomanders were 
little balls made of perfumes, and worn in the pocket or about the 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 241 

neck, for the sake of the fragrance or as a mere ornament, and 
sometimes to prevent infection in times of plague. 

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 Yen Like 
//, v. epil.), means that a place where good wine is kept needs no 
sign to attract customers. Gascoigne, in his Glass of Government 
(!575)' says: "Now a days the good wyne needeth none ivye 
garland." 

Page 203. The juggler ii.'i(/i 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. 

Cantabanqni. Strolling ballad-singers ; literally, persons who 
sing upon a bench (from the Italian catambanco, formerly can- 
tinbanco\ 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, 
7'he 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. I. 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 T7. , after the words (ii. 3. 89), "have at thee with a down- 
right blow," some editors add from the old play on which this is 
founded : "as lievis of Southampton fell upon Ascapart," a giant 
whom he was said to have conquered. Figures of Bevis and As- 
capart formerly adorned the I Jar-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 Clouglt (that is, of the Cliff) 
figure in a popular old ballad, which may be found in Percy V 
Reliques. 
16 



242 



NO TES 



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 
Loves 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 BAR-GATE, SOUTHAMPTON 



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 succes 
sion) : 

" 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 pres- 
ents 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 ; 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 243 

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. I. 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 
delicacies. 

Properties. In the theatrical sense of stage requisities, 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. i. 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 "/rf/V." The quota- 
tions 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. Srr note on The 
tenant of In^on, page i<;2, above. 



44 NOTES 

Page 208. Volumes have been written on the plant-lore, etc. 
The best of these is Rev. H. N. Ellacombe's Plant-Lore and Gar- 
den-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. i. 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 Mer- 
chant 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 sci- 
ence, seamanship, etc. 



ADDENDA 

Page 21. The letters E. R. Young readers may need to be 
informed that these letters stand for Elizabeth Regina (Latin for 
Queen}. 

Page o7. 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 



SHAKESPEARE THE BOY 245 

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 from ; 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 ap- 
peared. On the front of the house, under the second-story window, 
is the inscription, 

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 lyth of August, 1608, and 
that of her husband on the 2othof 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 hap- 
penings). Cf. Henry VIII. v. 3. 176 : 

"The comijion voice. I see, is verified 
Of thee, .vhicl. says t'.iu:., ' Do'njy i-crd cf Canterbury 
A shrewd tsr.i. and he is your ttieiid'tjr ever';" 

that is, he returns good lo> evil. Coir.jpAre As You Like It, v. 4. 






"And after, every [tve^y one] i>f rim h?<ipy number 
That have endur'rt shrewd chys'.lnd ''lights with us 
Shall share the good of our returned 'fortune ;'' 

and Chaucer, Tale of Melilnrus "The prophete saith: Flee 
shrewdnesse, and do goodnesse," etc. 

Page 102. A sergeant at-anns his mace. In Old English his 
was often put in this way after proper names, which had no gemtiw- 



246 NOTES 

(or possessive) inflection. In the i6th century it came to be used 
frequently in place of the possessive ending -s. It was occasionally 
used in the lyth and iSth centuries, when some grammarians adopt- 
ed 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 con- 
tain 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 i6th and iyth 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, cob- 
blers, tinkers, watchmen, country-parsons, and soldiers. ... If ever 
a country deserved to be called musical, that country was England 
in the i6th and 1 7th 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- 
hotise song in Elizabeth's day w?,s ?, capon in three parts, a thing 

c .' _ J ' * f i. j.'i 

which could only ,b<; rrnanag^d ft? sf time, through ' nowadays by 
the very first rank of professional singers." 

Page 201. Sweet hearts. This iom>t not be supposed to be a 
misprint for Sweethearts', which was-originally two words and often 
used as a tender OF affectionate Address. Sweetheart occurs in 
Shakespeare only in. The Winters* Talf^ \v, 4. 664: " take your 
sweetheart's hat," etc. 



INDEX 



A-B-C book, 101. 

abracadabra, 88. 

absey, 102. 

Adam Bell, 203, 241. 

Adunai, 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, 1X7. 
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, So. 

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 dough, 203, 241. 

cock-fisjhting, 136. 

cock-throwing, 138. 



248 



IXDEX 



Colbrand, 10, n. 
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. 

toot-ball, 125. 

forehand shaft, 144. 

forked heads (of arrows), 231. 

forks, 55, 66. 

Forman, Simon, 22, 215. 

Four Sons of Ayiuon, 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. 



INDEX 



249 



hooded (hawk), 156. 

lioodman-blind. 122, 230. 

hook (=shepherd's crook), 235. 

Hooker, Richard, 174, 2.55. 

hopharlots, 3 |. 

horn-book, <./>. 

horse, descriinion of, 147. 

horse (plural/, 160, 232. 

housen, 237. 

Hundred Alerry 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 Detnonology), 91. 

jauncing, 232. 

jesses, 157. 

John of Stratford, 31, 32. 

Johnson, Richard, 234. 

joint-stools, 53. 

Jones, Dr. John, 75, 22 r. 

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. 

I.upton, 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. 

maw kin, 240. 

May-day, 176. 

meals, 58, 61. 

means (=tenors), 239. 

Melton, John, 88. 

merest loss, 232. 

mews, 158. 

micher, 1 12. 

Midsummer Eve, 186. 

moralities, 161. 

More, Sir Thonns, 138, 231. 

Morisco, 235. 

morris-board, 130. 

morris-dance, 179, 184, 233. 

Mowbray, Thomas, is. 

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,Q\ 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, iOS, 234. 

pigeon-holes ( game), 70. 

pinfold, 45, 217. 

pitching the bar, 123. 

plucking geese, 139. 

poaching. 21. 

pomander. 2 \< >. 

pomegranate-Howe rs (as charm), 90, 

pose (cold in head), 52. 



250 



INDEX 



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. 
'pummels, 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 Vertrte, 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. 

Shif> 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. 

tabie-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. 

To pas, 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. 



f.YDEX 



251 



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, K., 112, 229. 

\Vilmcote, 4, 213. 

wine, 58. 

Wise, J. R., 26, 151. 

witches, 79, X-j. 

Wolsey, Cardinal, 56. 

woman's part (on stage), 236. 

Won cot, 213. 

Worthies, the Nine, iS. 

wote, 223. 

wrestling, 142. 

yearned (=grieved), 232. 




ARMS OF JOHN SHAKESPEARE