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"What shall he have that killed the deer?"-As YOU LIKE IT. "You have beaten my men, killed my deer, and broken open my lodge."-MERRY WIVES OF Windsor.

Charlecote Park is about three miles from Stratford, beautifully situated upon the green banks of the quiet musing Avon, and at present embosomed in gigantic elms whose leafy canopies surround it on all sides. So thickly placed are these lofty wooded citizens that the old Elizabethan mansion with its turrets, gables, balustrades, and chimneys, is scarcely to be seen from between the foliage unless the house is approached very near.

Charlecote has always been traditionally connected with an early exploit of Shakespeare's, the truth or falsehood of which has engaged the attempts of many writers to elucidate. We accept the tradition, and think it highly probable that Shakespeare in his younger days may have been passionately fond of field sports, and engaged in them clandestinely. Romance and adventure would give to deer-stealing in those days a very different aspect to what it now appears in, and Mr. Halliwell has shown by extracts from various authors of the day, that killing deer, without permission first had and obtained, was an "amusement indulged in by the


youths of Shakespeare's time, and although legally punishable, was regarded by the public as a venial offence, not detrimental to the characters of the persons who committed the depredation."* Probably it was then considered no more of than is thought now of a sportsman shooting a hare on a manor where he is on trespass. From the allusions made by Shakespeare to deer and the hunting of them, it is evident that he was perfectly familiar with the subject, and this knowledge he must have attained when a young man, instigated as all young men are by a love of fun, frolic, and ad venture, especially when a set of them meet regularly together, exciting each other by roysterous merriment as they formerly did over the jovial flagon. No man was ever yet wise at all times, much less before he had attained the maturity of years, and young Will. Shakespeare the woodman, was somewhat different to him who came afterwards as a dramatist of established fame to New Place, and purchased the tithes of Stratford.

Sir Thomas Lucy might have been displeased at losing his deer, but who else would care about it, when in after years such exploits enabled the poet from the rich stores of his recollection of deer among parks and forests to indite such lines as these, accurately beautiful, yet so tinged with the pathetic as to assure us that the deerstealer and subsequent poet must have regretted any cruelties he had ever seen committed, and been in after life one of the most gentle and humane of men.

*Halliwell's Life of Shakespeare, 8vo.,

p. 121.

"DUKE. Come, shall we go and kill us venison?

And yet it irks me, the poor dappled fools,

Being native burghers of this desert city

Should, in their own confines, with forked heads

Have their round haunches gor❜d.

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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 sequestred stag,
That from the hunter's 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."


Who could have penned such a description as the above, unless in the course of his woodland exploits a similar scene had passed before his own eyes? We should imagine that oft and again Shakespeare and his associates had by moonlight visited the shadowy glades of Charlecote "hunting of the deer," and pierced many a one with their arrows. Perhaps crossing a ford of the sedgy Avon, he has stood "under an oak" in deep

shadow, and thence twanged his arrow on some “hairy fool" too prominent in the moonlight. The deed is done, the quarry must be hidden securely-and now off's the word.

Forgiving Shakespeare then, as we heartily do, for what doubtless was one of the manners of his age, we turn to Squire Lucy (for he was not then knighted) for his opinion of things in general, and this inraid upon property in particular. The Lucys it appears were persons of great influence and power in and near Stratford, but they were frequently engaged in disputes with the Corporation with regard to common of pasture and other matters, and consequently not very popular. Indeed Halliwell mentions a "ryot uppon Master Thomas Lucy, esquire," in which thirty-five inhabitants of Stratford were concerned. If these were prosecuted for the "ryot" we need not wonder at reprisals upon the Charlecote deer. Charlecote House was built by Thomas Lucy, Esq., in 1558, only six years before Shakespeare was born, and he was Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1578, so that he would be in full-blown dignity as "the justice," when Shakespeare incurred his weighty displeasure. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, at

All the writers of the Elizabethan period, observes Mr. Knight, "speak of killing a deer with a sort of jovial sympathy worthy the descendants of Robin Hood. 'This day a stag must die,' was a chorus that probably had often echoed in the hostelries of Stratford in Shakespeare's time; and the penality which was by the 5th Eliz. chap. 21, the defined one of three months' imprisonment, was doubtless laughed at under the inspiring influence of good ale or 66 cups of sack."

a later period, in 1593.

Mr. Knight, in his Biography

of Shakespeare, in attempting to prove the improbability of the deer-stealing tradition, desires to "imagine the fine old knight living at his hall in peace and happiness with his family;" and asks whether it is likely that Sir Thomas Lucy would have pursued the son of an alderman of Stratford with extraordinary severity? We think it likely enough that Squire Lucy, sheriff and justice of the peace, would be irritated to prosecute the slayers of his deer whoever they were, and if we may safely judge from his portraiture in stone sculptured on his monument at Charlecote, we should be inclined to consider him as proud, self-sufficient, and unrelenting. It is remarkable too, that just about this time the alderman was getting poor, involved in debt, and with no friends.

The account given by Rowe, then, really as far as can now be made out, shadows forth the true facts of the case." Upon his (Shakespeare's) leaving school, he seems to have given entirely into that way of living which his father proposed to him; and in order to settle in the world after a family manner, he thought fit to marry while he was yet very young. His wife was the daughter of one Hathaway, said to have been a substantial yeoman, in the neighbourhood of Stratford. In this kind of settlement he continued for some time, till an extravagance that he was guilty of, forced him both out of his county and that way of living which he had taken up; and, though it seemed at first to be a blemish upon his good manners, and a misfortune to him, yet it afterwards happily proved the occasion of exerting one of the

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