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NOTE ON SOME POINTS OF SHAKSPERE'S WILL.
THE solemn clause, "My body to the earth whereof it is made," was carried into effect by the burial of William Shakspere in the chancel of his parish church. A tomb of which we shall presently speak more particularly, was erected to his memory before 1623. The following lines are inscribed beneath the bust:
"JVDICIO PYLIVM, GENIO SOCRATEM, ARTE MARONEM,
TERRA TEGIT, POPVLVS MÆRET, OLYMPVS HABET.
STAY, PASSENGER, WHY GOEST THOV BY SO FAST,
READ, IF THOV CANST, WHOM ENVIOVS DEATH HATH PLAST
WITHIN THIS MONVMENT, SHAKSPEARE, WITH WHOME
OBIIT ANO. DOI. 1616. ÆTATIS 53. DIE 23. AP."
Below the monument, but at a few paces from the wall, is a flat stone, with the following extraordinary inscription:—
In a letter from Warwickshire, in 1693,* the writer, after describing the monument to Shakspere, and giving its inscription, says, "Near the wall where this monument is erected lie the plain free-stone underneath which his body is buried, with this epitaph made by himself a little before his death." He then gives the epitaph, and subsequently adds, "Not one for fear of the curse above-said dare touch his grave-stone, though his wife and daughters did earnestly desire to be laid in the same grave with him." This information is given by the tourist upon the authority of the clerk who showed him the church, who "was above eighty years old." Here is unquestionable authority for the existence of this free-stone seventy-seven years after the death of Shakspere. We have an earlier authority. In a plate to Dugdale's' Antiquities of Warwickshire,' first published in 1656, we have a representation of Shakspere's tomb, with the following:-"Neare the wall where this monument is erected lyeth a plain free-stone, underneath which his body is buried, with this epitaph
"Good frend," &c.
But it is very remarkable, we think, that this plain free-stone does not bear the name of Shakspere-has nothing to establish the fact that the stone originally belonged to his grave. We apprehend that during the period that elapsed between his death and the setting-up of the monument, a stone was temporarily placed over the grave; and that the warning not to touch the bones was the stone-mason's invention, to secure their reverence till a fitting monument should be prepared, if the stone were not ready in his yard to serve for any grave. We quite agree with Mr. De Quincey that this doggrel attributed to Shakspere is "equally below his intellect no less than his scholarship," and we hold with him that "as a sort of siste viator appeal to future sextons, it is worthy of the grave-digger or the parish clerk, who was probably its author."
The bequest of the second-best bed to his wife was an interlineation in Shakspere's Will. "He had forgot her," says Malone. There was another bequest which was also an interlineation: * Published from the original manuscript by Mr. Rodd, 1838.
"To my fellows, John Hemynge, Richard Burbage, and Henry Cundell, twenty-six shillings eight pence apiece, to buy them rings." It is not unlikely that these companions of his professional life derived substantial advantages from his death, and probably paid him an annuity after his retirement. The bequest of the rings marked his friendship to them, as the bequest of the bed his affection to his wife. She died on the 6th of August, 1623, and was buried on the 8th, according to the register
Her grave-stone is next to the stone with the doggrel inscription, but nearer to the north wall, upon which Shakspere's monument is placed. The stone has a brass plate, with the following inscription:
“HEERE LYETH INTERRED THE BODYE OF ANNE, WIFE OF MR. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, WHO DEPTED. THIS LIFE THE 6TH DAY OF Avgvst, 1623, being of THE AGE OF 67 YEARES."
VBERA, TU MATER, TU LAC VITAMQ. DEDISTI,
VÆ MIHI; PRO TANTO MUNERE SAXA DABO!
QUAM MALLEM, AMOUEAT LAPIDEM, BONUS ANGEL' ORE'
SED NIL VOTA VALENT, VENIAS CITO CHRISTE RESURGET,
It is evident that the epitaph was intended to express the deep affection of her daughter, to whom Shakspere bequeathed a life interest in his real property, and the bulk of his personal. The widow of Shakspere in all likelihood resided with this elder daughter. It is possible that they formed one family previous to his death. That daughter died on the 11th of July, 1649, having survived her husband, Dr. Hall, fourteen years. She is described as widow in the register of burials:
July) 16 mes su panna Hall nordow
Ranging with the other stones, but nearer the south wall, is a flat stone now bearing the following inscription:
"HEERE LYETH YE. BODY OF SVSANNA, WIFE TO JOHN HALL, GENT. YE. DAVGHTER OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, GENT. SHE DECEASED YE. 11TH OF JVLY, Ao. 1649, aged 66."
On the same stone is an inscription for Richard Watts, who had no relationship to Shakspere or his descendants. Fortunately Dugdale has preserved an inscription which the masons of Stratford obliterated, to make room for the record of Richard Watts, who has thus attained a distinction to which he had no claim:
"WITTY ABOVE HER SEXE, BUT THAT'S NOT ALL,
WISE TO SALVATION WAS GOOD MISTRIS HALL,
SOMETHING OF SHAKESPERE WAS IN THAT, BUT THIS
THEN, PASSENGER, HA'ST NE'RE A TEARE,
TO WEEPE WITH HER THAT WEPT WITH ALL?
THEM UP WITH COMFORTS CORDIALL.
HER LOVE SHALL LIVE, HER MERCY SPREAD,
Judith, the second daughter of Shakspere, lived till 1662. She was buried on the 9th of February of that year:
Harber & Gudity book egomar quinery, Could
Her married life must have been one of constant affliction in the bereavement of her children. Her first son, who was named Shakspere, was born in November, 1616, and died in May, 1617. Her second son, Richard, was born in February, 1618, and died in February, 1639. Her third son, Thomas, was born in August, 1619, and died in January, 1639. Thus perished all of the second branch of the heirs male of William Shakspere. His grand-daughter Elizabeth, the only child of his daughter Susanna, was married in 1626, when she was eighteen years of age, to Mr. Thomas Nash, a native of Stratford. He died in 1647, leaving no children. She remained a widow about two years, having married, on the 5th of June, 1649, Mr. John Barnard of Abington, near Northampton. He was a widower with a large family. They were married at Billesley, near Stratford. Her husband was created a knight by Charles II. in 1661. The grand-daughter of Shakspere died in February, 1670, and was buried at Abington. Her signature, with a seal, the same as that used by her mother,-the arms of Hall impaled with those of Shakspere, is affixed to a deed of appointment in the possession of Mr. Wheler of Stratford. She left no issue.
We have seen that all the sons of Judith Quiney were dead at the commencement of 1639. Shakspere's elder daughter and grand-daughter were therefore at liberty to treat the property as their own by the usual processes of law. The mode in which they, in the first instance, made it subservient to their family arrangements is thus clearly stated by Mr. Wheler, in an interesting tract on the birth-place of Shakspere:-" By a deed of the 27th of May, 1639, and a fine and recovery (Trinity and Michaelmas Terms, 15th Charles I.), Mrs. Susannah Hall, Shakspere's eldest daughter, with Thomas Nash, Esq., and Elizabeth his wife (Mrs. Hall's only child), confirmed this and our bard's other estates to Mrs. Hall for her life, and afterwards settled them upon Mr. and Mrs. Nash, and her issue; but in the event of her leaving no family, then upon Mr. Nash. As, however, Mr. Nash died 4th April, 1647, without issue, a resettlement of the property was immediately adopted, to prevent its falling to the heir of Mr. Nash, who had, by his will of the 26th of August, 1642, devised his reversionary interest in the principal part of Shakspere's estates to his cousin Edward Nash. By a subsequent settlement, therefore, of the 2nd of June, 1647, and by another fine and recovery (Easter and Michaelmas Terms, 23rd Charles I.), Shakspere's natal place and his other estates were again limited to the bard's descendants, restoring to Mrs. Nash the ultimate power over the property." Upon the second marriage of Shakspere's grand-daughter other arrangements were made, in the usual form of fine and recovery, by which New Place, and all the other property which she inherited of William Shakspere, her grandfather, were settled to the use of John Barnard and Elizabeth his wife, for the term of their natural lives; then to the heirs of the said Elizabeth; and in default of such issue to the use of such person, and for such estate, as the said Elizabeth shall appoint by any writing, either purporting to be her last will or otherwise. She did make her last will on the 29th of January, 1669; according to which, after the death of Sir John Barnard, the property was to be sold. Thus, in half a century, the estates of Shakspere were scattered and went out of his family, with the exception of the two houses in Henley Street, where he is held to have been born, which Lady Barnard devised to her kinsman Thomas Hart, the grandson of Shakspere's sister Joan. Those who are curious to trace the continuity of the line of the Harts will find very copious extracts from the Stratford registers in Boswell's edition of Malone.
NOTE ON THE AUTOGRAPHS OF SHAKSPERE.
THE will of Shakspere, preserved in the Prerogative Office, Doctors' Commons, is written upon three sheets of paper. The name is subscribed at the right-hand corner of the first sheet; at the left-hand corner of the second sheet; and immediately before the names of the witnesses upon the third sheet. These signatures, engraved from a tracing by Steevens, were first published in 1778. The first signature has been much damaged since it was originally traced by Steevens. It was for a long time thought that in the first and second of these signatures the poet had written his name Shakspere, but in the third Shakspeare; and Steevens and Malone held, therefore, that they had authority in the handwriting of the poet for uniformly spelling his name Shakspeare. They rested this mode of spelling the name not upon the mode in which it was usually printed during the poet's life, and especially in the genuine editions of his own works, which mode was Shakespeare, but upon this signature to the last sheet of his will, which they fancied contained an a in the last syllable. When William Henry Ireland, in 1795, produced his 'Miscellaneous Papers and Legal Instruments,' it was necessary that he should fabricate Shakspere's name, and the engraving published by Steevens enabled him to do so. He varied the spelling, as he found it said to be varied in the signatures to the will; but he inore commonly spelt the name with the a in the final syllable. His confidence in the Shakspere editors supplied one of the means for his detection. Malone, in his 'Inquiry,' published in 1796, has a confession upon this subject, which is almost as curious as any one of Ireland's own confessions:-"In the year 1776 Mr. Steevens, in my presence, traced with the utmost accuracy the three signatures affixed by the poet to his will. While two of these manifestly appeared to us Shakspere, we conceived that in the third there was a variation; and that in the second syllable an a was found. Accordingly we have constantly so exhibited the poet's name ever since that time. It ought certainly to have struck us as a very extraordinary circumstance, that a man should write his name twice one way, and once another, on the same paper: however, it did not; and I had no suspicion of our mistake till, about three years ago, I received a very sensible letter from an anonymous correspondent, who showed me very clearly that, though there was a superfluous stroke when the poet came to write the letter r in his last signature, probably from the tremor of his hand, there was no a discoverable in that syllable; and that this name, like both the other, was written 'Shakspere.' Revolving this matter in my mind, it occurred to me, that in the new fac-simile of his name which I gave in 1790, my engraver had made a mistake in placing an a over the name which was there exhibited, and that what was supposed to be that letter was only a mark of abbreviation, with a turn or curl at the first part of it, which gave it the appearance of a letter. If Mr. Steevens and I had maliciously intended to lay a trap for this fabricator to fall into, we could not have done the business more adroitly." The new fac-simile to which Malone here alludes continued to be given with the a over the name, in subsequent editions; and we have no alternative but to copy it from the engraving. It was taken from the mortgage deed executed by Shakspere on the 11th of March, 1613.* When Malone's engraver turned the re of that signature into an a, the deed was in the possession of Mr. Albany Wallis, a solicitor. It was subsequently presented to Garrick; but after his death was nowhere to be found. Malone, however, traced that the counterpart of the deed of bargain and sale, dated the 10th of March, 1613, was also in the possession of Mr. Wallis; and he corrected his former error by engraving the signature to that deed in his 'Inquiry.' He says, "Notwithstanding this authority, I shall still continue to write our poet's name Shakspeare, for reasons which I have *See Note at the end of Chapter XI
assigned in his Life. But whether in doing so I am right or wrong, it is manifest that he wrote it himself Shakspere; and therefore if any original Letter or other MS. of his shall ever be discovered, his name will appear in that form." This prophecy has been partly realized. The autograph of Shakspere, corresponding in its orthography with the other documents, was found in a small folio volume, the first edition of Florio's translation of Montaigne, having been sixty years in the possession of the Rev. Edward Patteson, minister of Smethwick, near Birmingham. In 1838 the volume was sold by auction, and purchased by the British Museum for one hundred pounds. The deed of bargain and sale, the signature of which was copied by Malone in 1796, was sold by auction in 1841, and was purchased by the Corporation of London for one hundred and forty-five pounds. The purchase was denounced in the Court of Common Council as "a most wasteful and prodigal expenditure;" but it was defended upon the ground that "it was not very likely that the purchase of the autograph would be acted upon as a precedent, for Shakspere stood alone in the history of the literature of the world." Honoured be those who have thus shown a reverence for the name of Shakspere! It is a symptom of returning health in the Corporation of London, after a long plethora, which might have ended in sudden death. In former ages she has been the assertor of liberty and the encourager of learning. She has called in the poet to her pageants and the painter to her high festivals. In later times her state and ancientry have been child's play and burlesque If the altered spirit of the majority is willing thus to reverence the symbol of the highest literature, in Shakspere's autograph, that spirit will lead to a wise employment of the civic riches, in the encouragement of intellectual efforts in their own day. This was written in 1843. There are evidences of a better spirit, such as is evinced in the City Library, a most valuable institution, freely opened to men of letters.
We subjoin fac-similes of the six authentic autographs of Shakspere. That at the head of the page is from the Montaigne of Florio; the left, with the seal, is from the counterpart of the Conveyance in the possession of the Corporation of London; the right, with the seal, is from Malone's fac-simile of the Mortgage-deed which has been lost; the three others are from the three sheets of the will.