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greatest geniuses that ever was known in dramatic poetry. He had, by a misfortune common enough to young fellows, fallen into ill company, and amongst them, some that made a frequent practice of deer-stealing, engaged him more than once in robbing a park that belonged to Sir Thomas Lucy, of Charlecote, near Stratford. For this he was prosecuted by that gentleman, as he thought somewhat too severely; and in order to revenge that ill usage, he made a ballad upon him. And though this, probably the first essay of his poetry be lost, yet it is said to have been so very bitter that it redoubled the prosecution against him to that degree, that he was obliged to leave his business and family in Warwickshire for some time, and shelter himself in London."
What the verses really were that gave Sir Thomas Lucy's persecution of Shakespeare such a bitter character will perhaps never be known, but if their irony glanced at all upon the squire's lady, as would appear to have been the case according to two stanzas of a song which Mr. Halliwell has quoted as heard by Professor Barnes, in Stratford, in 1690, then Sir Thomas's rancour may be in some degree accounted for. Jokes about horns were very rife in Shakespeare's day, as may be noticed in several of his plays, and horns and deer are likely enough to have suggested to Shakespeare notions about the wearing of horns, not very acceptable to Sir Thomas Lucy's ideas.* Satirists, in their determination to vex
* It is remarkable that Sir Thomas Lucy has penned a long epitaph upon his wife, signed at bottom with his own name, "set down by him that best did know what hath been written to be true;"
and wound, are seldom very nice in their language. Certain it is that Shakespeare entertained in his mind some unpleasant feelings in connection with Sir Thomas Lucy, and he has embodied them with indelible ink in his conception of "Justice Shallow," whose "dozen white luces" magnified from three, probably on purpose, identifies the character with certainty. Perhaps too, the descriptions of a country justice of peace in the second part of Henry IV. are founded upon Shakespeare's recollections of Sir Thomas Lucy. The luce, according to Shallow, was a "fresh fish," and so in heraldry a luce signified a full-grown pike. An old author says that "the pike, as he ageth, receiveth diverse names, as from a frie to a gilthed, from a gilthed to a pod, from a pod to a jake, from a jake to a pikerell, from a pikerell to a pike, and last of all to a luce." Three luces* were the arms of the Lucy family. Sir Thomas died in 1600, sixteen years before Shakespeare, and is buried in Charlecote Church, lying side by side with his lady.
The walk from Stratford to Charlecote is very pleasing, especially if the side of the Avon be taken by Hatton Rock, as picturesque a part of the river as any about Stratford. Here all is serenity and repose—the river sleeps, lulled by the "waving sedges," hoar willows
as if some report had been abroad necessary to be put down. The inscription says she was 'NEVER DETECTED" in any crime or vice;" and "misliked of none, UNLESS OF THE ENVIOUS."
* Another joke against the Lucys still remembered in traditional rhyme, was from the similarity of sound suggesting their connection with a little animal more troublesome if not so rapacious as the luce or pike.
sentinel the banks, and the wooded glacis rapidly sinking to the stream wild with brush-wood, lofty wild flowers, and drooping brambles, "call home ancient thoughts from banishment," and invest our ideas with the simplicity of scenes fresh with childhood. Shakespeare has been here, and we catch the thoughts and similes before embodied by him, and but for him should we now be wandering with his "native wood-notes wild" in our thoughts? His enchanter's wand has consecrated all this river and woodland scenery, the soft-flowing Avon, and glades of Charlecote. With him we revisit them, nor care ought for them without him. We pass the new church of Hampton Lucy-we pass the new stone bridge over the Avon (there was only a ford formerly,) and still we pass on till we catch a sight among the trees of the old mansion with its bay windows and Elizabethan turrets, and its gate-house of red-brick with octangular turrets on each side, and oriel window over the arched gateway.—All that we know was in existence in Shakespeare's time and met his eye. This is the circumstance that hallows it in our view, and we ponder and gaze again and again. Numerous herds of deer too, are about, reposing or slowly moving along, increasing the incitement, and making us almost realize the forest scene as of old, when some vagrant archer might be couching in the greenwood shade waiting for a fat buck. And within that mansion is the noble hall with high-coved roof and bright armorial windows, (the three white luces still apparent,) gallery, and wide festal fire-place, where Shakespeare it is said, wild and reckless, confronted the angry squire in the blaze of his
awful authority. We may easily imagine that at least the rampant squire in his pride of place and in the hall of his own creation, feeling he was "under the king in some authority," would not at least be sparing of his threats on the occasion against the meek deer-killer, whatever he really did, for it appears that the utmost that could at that time fall out against a deer-stealer was imprisonment. Possibly some Dogberry may have put on the gyves, and conveyed poor Willie, too fond of wild Nature's love, to prison; or he may only have been threatened with the terrors of the law at that particular time; but little dreamed the mighty Justice, that except for Shakespeare and his "Shallow" conceptions, he himself, his name and possessions, his luces and his park, would be as little thought of now as the nameless rivulet gliding in obscurity along glens where foot has never trodden. Such is the power of genius to create, such the tenacity of poetical celebrity to retain scenes and things, however carelessly or faintly they may be touched. Charlecote is now wound up in the history of Shakespeare, and nothing can dissever the connection.
So we saunter through the park among the lofty elms, beeches, and limes, and the scene is involved in shadow consonant with the feelings likely to arise, save where on the velvet turf the opening glades exhibit the numerous deer with their branching horns, which we can by no means dispense with, leading us to the images of the witty poet, and his mention of the "hairy fools." Yet changes have occurred even here, we look for trees that could with certainty be considered coeval with the Elizabethan age, and find but few-some there are, and
66 STRATFORD, AND THE HAUNTS OF SHAKESPEARE.
perhaps the old hawthorns divided down to their roots in many boles are really as old as the time of Shakespeare's excursions hither. They inspire recollections of that "hawthorn shade," so old English in itself, to which he often refers.
The old church of Charlecote has recently been taken down, and another in the pointed style erected in its place.
Thus change progresses, and it becomes increasingly difficult for imagination to supply the images of the past. The old mansion has even been altered and added to, but may its characteristic features long remain.
We have thus exhibited Stratford and portions of its vicinity, in their connection with Shakespeare, because his reign over the human heart is and ever will be universal. His is the talisman, and the pilgrim journeys hither to commune with time past, and trace the mind of the poet entwined with the scenery he loved. This in its rural features-the soft-flowing Avon, fair flowers, and woodland beauties, can yet in a considerable degree be traced; and the munificence of the Shakespearean subscribers in renovating the church at an expense of near £10,000, has secured that "solemn temple" where undisturbed the ashes of our great bard repose, we trust as was his wish, never to be disturbed. THE BIRTHPLACE is now quite unincumbered, and safe from the mutilation of chance or caprice: and Stratford will therefore ever be a beacon towards which the aspirations of the poetical enthusiast will point.
Edward Adams, Printer and Bookseller, Stratford-upon-Avon.