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AS CONNECTED WITH
THE BARD'S RURAL HAUNTS.
BY EDWIN LEES, F.L. S.,
Author of the “ BOTANICAL LOOKER-OUT," &c.
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY E. A DAMS.
1 8 5 4.
THE HAUNTS OF SHAKESPEARE.
“ Sweet Swan of Avon, what a sight it were
RARE BEN Jonson.
BEAUTIFUL as is the situation of the town of Stratford, on the banks of the Warwickshire Avon, amidst Arcadian meadows, watered by a "soft-flowing" stream, there can be little doubt that its minute knowledge would be limited to those whose calm and happy fate it was to reside and dream away a peaceful life there ;
Methinks it were a happy life
certainly its pretensions to celebrity would be small, but for the magic of a name that has penetrated into every region of the world where civilized man has trodden. SHAKESPEARE was born in STRATFORD; here was the choice of his retirement from the world in middle life; still instinctively, with the feeling common to our nature, “turning to the spot from whence at first he flew,"-literally in his case : here he died, and in Stratford church his honoured relics are entombed.
After knowing this, the minute labours of the topographer become of little worth ; nor shall we enter a field interesting only to the mere groper after manorial or antiquarian lore. We shall not repeat here the chronicles of a Dugdale or a Wheler; for it matters little who held the site of the town “ three centuries before the Norman Conquest;" or how a Saxon monastery came to be there, which was destroyed; and how the Bishops of Worcester became possessed of the place, and who followed them. These matters we leave for those whom they may concern ; our business is to aid the pilgrim who may journey hither to the shrine of his idolatry, and trace Stratford principally in its connection with SHAKESPEARE.
The author of “Rambles by Rivers" has traced the ideas of a stranger in connection with Stratford so justly, that though the pride of a native may not be much flattered by the remark, we shall quote it and act upon it; since whatever interest Stratford possesses, is now entirely associated with and linked to the reputation of SHAKESPEARE ; and happy are those who, like Washington Irving, while aiming to follow the footsteps of the “immortal bard,” can add lustre to their own names in describing the local haunts of him who pictured all the phases of “many-coloured life.”
“Stratford is a clean, quiet town, pleasantly situated on the right bank of the Avon : it is a place of no large size, without any manufactures, of little traffic.
Its buildings are not very remarkable: one who knew nothing about it, might ride carelessly through it, without