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The younger daughter of Shakspere was married on the 10th of February, 1616, to Thomas Quiney, as the register of Stratford shows :
The Queeny fow Judith Shakspe
Thomas Quiney was the son of Richard Quiney of Stratford, whom we have seen in 1598 soliciting the kind offices of his loving countryman Shakspere. Thomas, who was born in 1588, was probably a well-educated man. At any rate he was a great master of calligraphy, as his signature attests:
The last will of Shakspere would appear to have been prepared in some degree with reference to this marriage. It is dated the 25th of March, 1616; but the word "Januarii" seems to have been first written and afterwards struck out," Martii" having been written above it. It is not unlikely, and indeed it appears most probable, that the document was prepared before the marriage of Judith; for the elder daughter is mentioned as Susanna Hall,the younger simply as Judith. To her, one hundred pounds is bequeathed, and fifty pounds conditionally. The life-interest of a further sum of one hundred and fifty pounds is also bequeathed to her, with remainder to her children; but if she died without issue within three years after the date of the will, the hundred and fifty pounds was to be otherwise appropriated. We pass over the various legacies to relations and friends to come to the bequest of the great bulk of the property. All the real estate is devised to his daughter Susanna Hall, for and during the term of her natural life. It is then entailed upon her first son and his heirs male; and in default of such issue, to her second son and
* See the Will at the end of this Chapter.
his heirs male; and so on: in default of such issue, to his granddaughter Elizabeth Hall (called in the language of the time his "niece "): and in default of such issue, to his daughter Judith, and her heirs male. By this strict entailment it was manifestly the object of Shakspere to found a family. Like many other such purposes of short-sighted humanity the object was not accomplished. His elder daughter had no issue but Elizabeth, and she died childless. The heirs male of Judith died before her. The estates were scattered after the second generation; and the descendants of his sister were the only transmitters to posterity of his blood and lineage.*
"Item, I give unto my wife my second-best bed, with the furniture." This is the clause of the will upon which, for half a century, all men believed that Shakspere recollected his wife only to mark how little he esteemed her,-to "cut her off, not indeed with a shilling, but with an old bed."+ We had the satisfaction of first showing the utter groundlessness of this opinion; and we here briefly repeat the statement which we made in our Postscript to Twelfth Night, that the wife of Shakspere was unquestionably provided for by the natural operation of the law of England. His estates, with the exception of a copyhold tenement, expressly mentioned in his will, were freehold. His wife was entitled to dower. She was provided for amply, by the clear and undeniable operation of the English law. Of the houses and gardens which Shakspere inherited from his father, she was assured of the life-interest of a third, should she survive her husband, the instant that old John Shakspere died. Of the capital messuage called New Place, the best house in Stratford, which Shakspere purchased in 1597, she was assured of the same life-interest, from the moment of the conveyance, provided it was a direct conveyance to her husband. That it was so conveyed we may infer from the terms of the conveyance of the lands in Old Stratford, and other places, which were purchased by Shakspere in 1602, and were then conveyed "to the onlye proper use and behoofe of the saide William Shakespere, his heires and assignes, for ever." Of a life-interest in a third of these lands also was she assured. The tenement in Blackfriars, purchased in 1614, was conveyed to Shakspere and three other persons; and after his death was re-conveyed by those persons to the uses of his will," for and in performance of the confidence and trust in them reposed by William Shakespeare deceased." In this estate, certainly, the widow of our poet had not dower. It has been remarked to us that even the express mention of the second-best bed was anything but unkindness and insult; that the best bed was in all probability an heir-loom: it might have descended to Shakspere himself from his father as an heir-loom, and, as such, was the property of his own heirs. The best bed was considered amongst the most important of those chattels which went to the heir by custom with the house.‡
* See Note on some points of Shakspere's Will at the end of this Chapter. + Malone.
"And note that in some places chattels as heir-looms (as the best bed, table, pot, pan, cart, and other dead chattels moveable) may go to the heir, and the heir in that case may have an action for them at the common law, and shall not sue for them in the ecclesiastical court; but the heirloom is due by custom, and not by the common law."-Coke upon Littleton, 18 b.
The will of Shakspere thus commences:-" I, William Shakspere, of Stratford-upon-Avon, in the county of Warwick, gent., in perfect health and memory, (God be praised!) do make and ordain this my last will and testament." And yet within one month of this declaration William Shakspere is no more:
OBIT ANO. DOI. 1616. ÆTATIS 53. DIE 23. ap.
Such is the inscription on his tomb. It is corroborated by the register of his burial:
Writing forty-six years after the event, the vicar of Stratford says, "Shakspere, Drayton, and Ben Jonson had a merry meeting, and, it seems, drank too hard, for Shakspere died of a fever there contracted." A tradition of this nature, surviving its object nearly half a century, is not much to be relied on. if it were absolutely true, our reverence for Shakspere would not be diminished by the fact that he accelerated his end in the exercise of hospitality, according to the manner of his age, towards two of the most illustrious of his friends. The "merry meeting," the last of many social hours spent with the full-hearted Jonson and the elegant Drayton, may be contemplated without a painful feeling. Shakspere possessed a mind eminently social-" he was of a free and generous nature." But, says the tradition of half a century, “he drank too hard" at this "merry meeting." We believe that this is the vulgar colouring of a common incident. He "died of a fever there contracted." The fever that is too often the attendant upon a hot spring, when the low grounds upon a river bank have been recently inundated, is a fever that the good people of Stratford did not well understand at that day. The "merry meeting" rounded off a tradition much more effectively. Whatever was the immediate cause of his last illness, we may well believe that the closing scene was full of tranquillity and hope; and that he who had sought, perhaps more than any man, to look beyond the material and finite things of the world, should rest at last in the "peace which passeth all understanding"-in that assured belief which the opening of his will has expressed with far more than formal solemnity:"I commend my soul into the hands of God my creator, hoping, and assuredly believing, through the only merits of Jesus Christ, my Saviour, to be made partaker of life everlasting."
"Vicesimo quinto die Martii, Anno Regni Domini nostri Jacobi nunc Regis Angliae, &c. decimo quarto, et Scotiace quadragesimo nono. Anno Domini 1616.
"In the name of God, Amen. I, William Shakspere, of Stratford-upon-Avon, in the county of Warwick, gent., in perfect health and memory, (God be praised!) do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner and form following; that is to say:
"First, I commend my soul into the hands of God my creator, hoping, and assuredly believing, through the only merits of Jesus Christ my Saviour, to be made partaker of life everlasting; and my body to the earth whereof it is made.
"Item, I give and bequeath unto my daughter Judith one hundred and fifty pounds of lawful English money, to be paid unto her in manner and form following; that is to say, one hundred
pounds in discharge of her marriage portion within one year after my decease, with consideration after the rate of two shillings in the pound for so long time as the same shall be unpaid unto her after my decease; and the fifty pounds residue thereof, upon her surrendering of, or giving of such sufficient security as the overseers of this my will shall like of, to surrender or grant, all her estate and right that shall descend or come unto her after my decease, or that she now hath, of, in, or to, one copyhold tenement, with the appurtenances, lying and being in Stratford-upon-Avon aforesaid, in the said county of Warwick, being parcel or holden of the manor of Rowington, unto my daughter Susanna Hall, and her heirs for ever.
" Item, I give and bequeath unto my said daughter Judith one hundred and fifty pounds more, if she, or any issue of her body, be living at the end of three years next ensuing the day of the date of this my will, during which time my executors to pay her consideration from my decease according to the rate aforesaid: and if she die within the said term without issue of her body, then my will is, and I do give and bequeath one hundred pounds thereof to my niece Elizabeth Hall, and the fifty pounds to be set forth by my executors during the life of my sister Joan Hart, and the use and profit thereof coming, shall be paid to my said sister Joan, and after her decease the said fifty pounds shall remain amongst the children of my said sister, equally to be divided amongst them; but if my said daughter Judith be living at the end of the said three years, or any issue of her body, then my will is, and so I devise and bequeath, the said hundred and fifty pounds to be set out by my executors and overseers for the best benefit of her and her issue, and the stock not to be paid unto her so long as she shall be married and covert baron; but my will is, that she shall have the consideration yearly paid unto her during her life, and after her decease the said stock and consideration to be paid to her children, if she have any, and if not, to her executors or assigns, she living the said term after my decease: provided that if such husband as she shall at the end of the said three years be married unto, or at any [time] after, do sufficiently assure unto her, and the issue of her body, lands answerable to the portion by this my will given unto her, and to be adjudged so by my executors and overseers, then my will is, that the said hundred and fifty. pounds shall be paid to such husband as shall make such assurance, to his own use.
“Item, I give and bequeath unto my said sister Joan twenty pounds, and all my wearing apparel, to be paid and delivered within one year after my decease; and I do will and devise unto her the house, with the appurtenances, in Stratford, wherein she dwelleth, for her natural life, under the yearly rent of twelve-pence.
" Item, I give and bequeath unto her three sons, William Hart, five pounds apiece, to be paid within one year after my decease.
Hart, and Michael Hart,
" Item, I give and bequeath unto the said Elizabeth Hall all my plate (except my broad silver and gilt bowl) that I now have at the date of this my will.
“Item, I give and bequeath unto the poor of Stratford aforesaid ten pounds; to Mr. Thomas Combe my sword; to Thomas Russel, esq., five pounds; and to Francis Collins of the borough of Warwick, in the county of Warwick, gent., thirteen pounds six shillings and eight-pence, to be paid within one year after my decease.
" Item, I give and bequeath to Hamlet [Hamnet] Sadler twenty-six shillings eight-pence, to buy him a ring; to William Reynolds, gent., twenty-six shillings eight-pence, to buy him a ring; to my godson William Walker, twenty shillings in gold; to Anthony Nash, gent., twenty-six shillings eight-pence; and to Mr. John Nash, twenty-six shillings eight-pence; and to my fellows, John Hemynge, Richard Burbage, and Henry Cundell, twenty-six shillings eight-pence apiece, to buy them rings.
Item, I give, will, bequeath, and devise, unto my daughter Susanna Hall, for better enabling of her to perform this my will, and towards the performance thereof, all that capital messuage or tenement, with the appurtenances, in Stratford aforesaid, called The New Place, wherein I now dwell, and two messuages or tenements, with the appurtenances, situate, lying, and being in Henley Street, within the borough of Stratford aforesaid; and all my barns, stables, orchards, gardens, lands, tenements, and hereditaments whatsoever, situate, lying, and being, or to be had, received, perceived, or taken, within the towns, hamlets, villages, fields, and grounds of Stratford-uponAvon, Old Stratford, Bishopton, and Welcombe, or in any of them, in the said county of Warwick; and also all that messuage or tenement, with the appurtenances, wherein one John Robinson