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Shakespeare's funeral,

mr dusky's opinions on art,

victor hugo on the great french puzzle

false coin in poetry,

the slaughters in the soudan,

mr fechter's othello,

the life of lord lytton, .

the life and letters of george eliot,



. 72


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Place, — Stratford-on-Avox.
Time. — The 25th of April 1616.

Scene I. — The Taproom of the Falcon Tavern
in the High Street, kept by Eleanor Comyng.

Hostess and Sly.

Hostess. jZIT SLY, Kit Sly, dost thou hear?
-^ There be guests alighting in the
yard ; run thou and help Robin ostler hold
their stirrups, and so do somewhat for the ale
thou ne'er pay'st for.

Sly. If I do, wilt thou let this one day slip
without rating and prating of thy score that I
owe thee ?

Hostess. Yea, good Kit, if thou run quickly.

Sly. But wilt thou bid Francis draw me what
ale I may chance call for ?


2 «hakesfeare's funeral.

Hostess. Nay, that will I not, or thou wouldst
empty my great tun. Thou wouldst serve me
as thou didst the ale-wife of Wincot, 1 who says,
poor soul, that she ne'er had cask in cellar these
twelve years but thou wert more fatal to it than
a leaking tap. By these ears, I heard her say
so when the deputy's men were seizing her
goods. Thou shalt not cozen me as thou didst

Sly. Hold stirrup thyself then. I'll not
budge. I'll to sleep again by the chimney till
it please God send me drink.

Enter Drayton 2 {the poet) and Young
Raleigh 3 (son of Sir Walter).

Drayton. Sly, said she ! Didst thou not hear,
Walter, yon varlet's name ? but 'twas scarce
needful. The sodden face, the shaking nether
lip, the eye watery and impudent, the paunch
ale-swelled, the doublet liquor-stained, the hat

1 " Ask Marian Hacket, the fat ale-wife of Wincot, if she know
me not," .says Kit Sly in the " Taming of the Shrew." Wincot
is a village about three miles from Stratford.

2 Michael Drayton, a Warwickshire poet of great repute in his
day, was ahiiiil a year older than Shakespeare, and had known
him Long and familiarly.

:; SToung Walter Raleigh was Sir Walter's eldest son, and was
now twenty-two years old. He accompanied Ins father, soon
after, to South America, as commander of one of the companies
that formed the military part of the expedition, to prepare for
which was the express condition on which Sir Walter was re-
leased from the Tower in January 1616.

Shakespeare's funeral. 3

crushed from being much slept in, the apparel
ruinous, because the tapster intercepts the fee
that should be the tailor's and the cobbler's
— hath not the master, without cataloguing
one of these things, implied all, in half-a-
score of pregnant words, for all the future ?
What a skill is that can make a poor sot
immortal !

Sly. Sot, saidst thou ! — but I care not. Will
ye stand me, gentles, in a pot of ale ?

Raleigh. Wilt thou answer, then, a few ques-
tions I would put to thee ?

Sly. Ay — but the ale first ; and be brief ; I
love not much question. Say on, and let the
world slide.

Raleigh. A pot of ale, drawer, for this
worthy man. And now tell me, Sly, is't not
thy custom to use that phrase ' let the world
slide ' ? 1

Sly. It may well be ; 'tis a maxim I love ;
'tis a cure for much. I am cold — let the
world slide, for anon I shall be warmer. I
am dry — let the world slide, for time will
bring ale. I sit, pottle-pot in hand, i' the
chimney -nook — let the world slide while I
taste it.

Drayton. 'Tis a pretty philosophy, and might

1 A phrase much affected by Sly the Tinker in the prelude to
the "Tamino- f the Shrew."

4 Shakespeare's funeral.

serve for greater uses. But, for a further ques-
tion — Wert thou acquainted with old John
Naps of Greece ? l

Sly. John Naps, quotha ! what, old John ! by
Jeronimy, I knew him many a year, mended his
pots and helped him empty them. 'A had been
a sailor, or to say pirate would be to shoot
nearer the clout ; when sober his fashion was to
say nought, but when drunk his talk was of the
things 'a had seen in Greece — whereby they
called him Naps of Greece.

Drayton. And didst thou know, too, Peter
Turf and Henry Pimpernell ?

Sly. Yea, as this pot-handle knows these
fingers. For Turf, he was deputy-sexton of
Wincot, and indeed digged Naps's grave, and
was found lying drunk therein, with his spade
beside him, at the hour of burial. For Pimper-
nell, 'twas a half-witted companion, but his
grandam kept money in 's purse, and 'a served
to pay scores, and 'a could join in a catch on
occasion, thof 'a had but a small, cracked voice,
and mostly sung his part to psalm-tunes. And
now, masters, a question to ye — an ye answer

1 One of Sly's acquaintances at Wincot.

" Stephen Sly, and Old John Napa of Greece,
And Peter Turf and Henry Pimpernell."

— Taming of the Shrew.

A manuscript memorandum, in wliicli Stephen Sly is mentioned,
written at Stratford in 1614, is still extant.

Shakespeare's funeral. 5

not, faith, I care not — but how should such as
ye know Naps and the others ?

Drayton. They have been recorded, and thou
too, in what will outlast your epitaphs. Doubt-
less thou hast heard of Master William Shake-
speare of New Place. 1

Sly. Heard of hirn, said he ! Ay, and seen
him and talked with him both here and at
Wincot when he came thither to his kinsfolk. 2
By this malt-juice, a merry gentleman, and a
free — 'a should have been a lord, for, look you,
to bestow liquor on the thirsty is a lordly
fashion, and I have owed him many a skinful.
Marry, that tap's dry now.

Drayton. What, knave, hath he found at last
that it is more virtuous to forget thee than to
countenance thee ?

Sly. Nay, I will say nought in his dis-
praise ; 'a was good to me, and hath oft spoke
with me, and I'll ne'er deny it now's dead
and gone. Mayhap ye have come to the
burial ?

Drayton. Dead !

Raleigh. Master Shakespeare dead !

Hostess. Oh, masters, he hath spoke the

1 Xew Place was a large house, with garden attached, in the
town of Stratford — built by Sir Hugh Clopton in Henry VII. 's
time, and purchased by Shakespeare in 1597.

'-' The Ardens, Shakespeare's relations by the mother's side,
lived in the parish of Wincot.

6 Shakespeare's funeral.

truth, tho' he be no true man ; by these tears,
he hath. Master Shakespeare parted o' Tues-
day, and he will be buried this dientical day ;
the coffin will be brought forth of New Place
upon the stroke of two. I have talked with
the bearers, and all.

Raleigh. Thus perish the hopes which drew
me to Stratford. I thought to look on the fore-
most poet of the world — to hear his voice — per-
chance to be honoured with some discourse of
him — and now I shall look but on his coffin.
Oh, Master Drayton !

Drayton. We looked not, indeed, for this.
'Tis as if the sun were drawn from the firma-
ment, and had left us to perpetual twilight.
The radiant intellect is gone, and hath left but
its pale reflection in his works — tho' these shall
be immortal. Methinks, in future, the sky will
be less blue, the air less warm, the flowers less
gay ; for I honoured this man more than any,
and whate'er I essayed to do 'twas with a secret
thought of his judgment over me, as if he had
been the conscience of mine intellect.

Hostess. Ye look pale — a cup of sack, sweet
sirs ; for, ye know, a cheerful cup the heart
bears up.

Drayton. Nay, woman, nay.

Hostess. Tis of the best, 1 warrant you ; 'tis
from the stores of Master Quiney — him that

Shakespeare's funeral. 7

hath married Master Shakespeare's daughter
Judith, and he deals in none but the best.

Drayton. 'Tis not sack that will help us.
But canst thou tell us, good hostess, aught
concerning his end ?

Hostess. Yea, well-a-day, that can I, for 'twas
Gossip Joan Tisick who goeth out nursing, the
same, your worships, that brought young Eliza-
beth Hall, his grandchild, into the world, that
was sent for to him when 'twas seen which way
'a was likely to go ; whereby, she told me
thereof yesternight over a cup of ale and sugar
with a toasted crab in 't — for, said she, there's
none in Stratford, Mistress Comyng, that Mas-
ter Shakespeare thought more on than you.
The doctor, Master Hall, says to her, " Have a
care, Joan, of my father-in-law Shakespeare,
says he ; for 'tis a parlous case, says he ; we be
all mortal, says he — and the breath goeth when
it listeth — therefore keep thou the better watch,
for 'tis a man we could ill spare." " Fear
not, Master Hall," quoth Joan, " I'll tend him
an 'twere his mother." So, o' Tuesday night he
said he felt easier, and he bid Mistress Hall and
the doctor that they should leave him and take
good rest. And 'a says to Joan, " Art drowsy,
good Joan ? " Whereupon she made answer,
" A little ; for I have been up," saith she, " all
last night at a labour with Mistress Coney her

8 Shakespeare's funeral.

thirteenth child." "Ay," quoth he, "in thy
calling thou seest both ends of life ; well, thou
shalt sleep to-night, and all night if thou wilt."
" Nay, sir," saith Joan, " not so ; but your wor-
ship being of so good cheer to-night, mayhap if
I take a short nap 'twill do no harm." " If thou
take a long one, good Joan," said Master Shake-
speare, " it matters not, for, I warrant you, I
shall take a longer." " It doth me good to hear
your worship speak so," says Joan, "for sleep
well is keep well, and a night's rest physics
best " — and so tucks up the bedclothes, and
draws the hangings, and leaves him as 'a was
closing his eyes. Well, sweet sirs, all the night
he lay quiet, and with the dawn Joan peeps me
in through the curtains, and there he lay, quiet
and smiling — and as the sun rose she peeps me
in again and he was still quiet and smiling —
and she touched his forehead ; — and he had
been lying for hours (so the doctor said when
Joan called him) as dead as his grandam.

Drayton. 'Twas, then, with good heart that
this great soul passed to what himself hath
called the undiscovered country : of whose in-
habitants he must sure take his place among
the most illustrious. Thou art sad, Walter —
this grief touches thee, and, sooth, it becomes
thee well. It bespeaks thy youth generous ;
'tis an assurance that thou hast thy father's

shakespeake's funeral. 9

spirit, who, great himself, owns near kinship
with greatness, and will sorrow for Shake-
speare as for a brother.

Raleigh. 'Twas my father's wish, when he
knew I was to be thy guest in AVarwickshire,
that I should pay my duty to Master Shake-
speare, for, said he, there is no worthier thing
in life than to take note of the greatest of thy
companions in earth's pilgrimage ; in them thou
seest the quintessence of man's spirit, cleared of
the muddy vapours which make common hu-
manity so base and foolish : and this man is of
the greatest, a companion indeed for princes,
nay, himself a king, whose kingdom is of the
imagination, and therefore boundless. Tell
him, Walter, said my father, that in my long
captivity 1 I have oft remembered our pleasant
encounters at the Mermaid ; 2 tell him, too,
that I have solaced mine enforced solitude in
the Tower with studying all of his works
that have been given to us ; and entreat him,
in my name, not to leave those plays of his to
the chances of the world, as fathers leave their
misbegotten children, but to make them truly

1 The twelve years' imprisonment in the Tower to which
James I. had consigned him.

2 The Mermaid was a tavern in London where Sir Walter
had established, before his imprisonment, a club, of which
Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Beaumont, Fletcher, and others were


the heirs of his invention, and to spend on them
that paternal care which shall prove them
worthy of their source.

Hostess. Please you come in here to the Dol-
phin chamber, where Master Shakespeare loved
to sit.

Raleigh. Well — now we are in it, I find it
convenient and well lighted : and yet methinks
'tis but a small one.

Drayton. Ay, but seest thou that, through
the door, one that sits here can mark the whole
company of ale-drinkers in the tap-room with-
out, and therefore Shakespeare loved it ; here
would he sit and note the humours of such
guests as yonder Sly. For in such, he would
say, you see humanity with its vizard off; and
he held that nurture, though it oft cherishes a
good apprehension, yet as oft doth overlay and
smother it. He hath said to me, pointing to
the company without, " If you find wit here,
'tis the bird's own feather, and no borrowed
plume ; if you see courtesy 'tis inborn, and will
bear the rub ; if you note a quaint humour 'tis
in the man by the grace of God or the force of
circumstance : your weaver or your tinker, what-
soever other gift he hath, hath not the skill to
counterfeit, for that comes by art, and leisure,
and commerce with men of condition, and de-
sire of their good opinion ; wherefore methinks

Shakespeare's funeral. 11

I oft see deeper through your leathern jerkin
than your satin doublet."

Hostess. Yea, here would 'a come many a
time and oft, with Master Ben, that was full of
quips as an egg of meat. " Mistress Quickly ! "
Ben would say (for so 'a called me, I know not
wherefore), " set us in the Dolphin chamber ; l
and let us have a sea-coal fire," 'a would say —
" and I will drink none if thou give me not a
parcel-gilt goblet," whereby Master Shakespeare
would cast at him out of 's eye a merry glint.
" Hast thou thy plate yet ? ' Master Ben
would ask me, " and the tapestry of thy dining
chambers ? Come, let us have Doll Tearsheet
meet us at supper." " Lord, 1 sir," would I
say, " I know no Dolls nor Tearsheets neither ; "
but 'twas a merry man, I warrant you, tho' I
did never know what his meaning was.

Drayton. These memories of thine breed but
sad mirth in me now.

Hostess. Well -a -day, if there be not Sir
Thomas and Master Thynne, rid from Charle-
cote, 2 and alighting. By your leave, kind sirs,
I will go receive them. j\S7*e goes out.

Drayton. Dear Walter, this stroke is so

1 For the allusions here made by Master Ben, see the " Second
Part of King Henry IV.," act ii. sc. 1.

2 Charlecote, still the family seat of the Lucys, is some four
miles from Stratford.

12 Shakespeare's funeral.

sudden that it bewilders me ; methinks I am
dreaming ; I discourse, remember, reason, and
so forth, and yet my brain all the while wrapt
as in a cerement. Coming here with my
thoughts full of him, sitting in this room where
he and I have sat so oft, what could seem less
strange than that he should enter and greet
me ; and yet a little word hath made me know
that to be impossible for all time.

Raleigh. Ay, sir, amidst my own pain I re-
member how you have been familiar with that
divinest man, and must feel a far deeper sorrow
than myself, that know him but in the picture
my imagination hath formed ; and I perceive
by the blank made in mine own present, what
a void must be left in yours. Would you have
us quit Stratford forthwith ?

Drayton. Nay, by no means ; let us rather
give our sorrow somewhat to feed on ; let us
fill it with the sad memories that abound here.
For, to me, everything in Stratford speaks of
Shakespeare ; 'twas here he lived, while that
unmatched apprehension was most wax like to
receive impressions, when wonder and observa-
tion were quickest in him; and 'twas here he
began to fill a storehouse from whence to draw
at will. For his manner was always to build
on a ground of fact, or, rather, to sow fact like
a seed, and let it strike in that rich soil till


oftentimes none but himself could tell (even if
himself could) what the ripened fruit had sprung
from. Sometimes he would limn a man in brief
as he saw him, and, again, he would so play
with his first notion, dressing it and transform-
ing it, yet ever working even as nature works,
that the citizen of Stratford or Warwick would
grow into a Roman or ancient Briton, a lover
or a king, a conspirator or a jester, compounded
part of fact, part of fancy, yet would the mor-
sel of fact leaven the whole with truth.

Raleigh. Was this Sir Thomas Lucy he whom
the world calls Justice Shallow ?

Drayton. Nay, he hath been dead these
many years — this is his son ; but the com-
panion that's with him thou mayest have
chanced to hear of.

Enter Sir Thomas Lucy and Master Thynne,
in mourning habits.

Hostess. Wilt please you walk this way, Sir
Thomas ? This chamber is warmer, and the
day is fresh. There be here, sirs, none but
these two gentlemen.

Sir Thomas. Master Drayton, as I remember
me. You are of our county of Warwickshire, I
think, sir ?

Drayton. I am so, Sir Thomas, at your ser-
vice. Give me leave to bring you acquainted

14 Shakespeare's funeral.

with my friend and comrade in travel, Master
Walter Raleigh.

Sir Thomas. I salute yon, sir. Of the Ral-
eighs of Devonshire, mayhap ?

Raleigh. The same, Sir Thomas.

Sir Thomas. An honourable family, sir, and
one that hath borne itself among the best these
many reigns past. You quarter the arms of
Throckmorton, as I think, sir — you bear gules,
five fusils, in bend argent, and your cognisance
a stag ; or is't a martlet ?

Raleigh. I knew not we, being but simple
gentlemen, and out of favour, were of that
mark that our quarterings should be thus well

Sir Thomas. I am something of a herald, I
would have you know, sir. Met h inks 'twere
well that men of quality were familiar each
with the pretensions of all the rest, making as
'twere one family in condition : thus should we
at once know who are of the better, who of the
baser sort. And so, sir, of the leisure I spare
from mine office as justice of the peace, and
from mine own concerns, I give somewhat to

Drayton. I perceive by the sad hue of your
garments that you design to be present at
Master Shakespeare's funeral.

Si i' Thomas. Ay, sir. His son-in-law, Doctor

Shakespeare's funeral. 15

Hall, is our physician at Charlecote, and I have
had dealings with himself, and held him in

Raleigh. Tis as it should be — the whole
world should honour such worth as his.

Sir Thomas. Nay, good sir, I go not so far
with you : though he were indeed so honourable
that his neighbours, even of condition, may well
accord him a last show of respect.

Drayton. I am glad that the old grudge be-
tween Master Shakespeare and Sir Thomas
your father holds not in this generation.

Sir Thomas. Why, for that, Master Drayton,
in respect of the deer stealing, 'twas not such a
matter as is ne'er to be forgiven nor forgotten ;
he was but a youth then, and he suffered for't ;
and, for the scurril ballad concerning which the
rumour went 'twas writ by Shakespeare, why,
'twas none of his.

Drayton. I'll be sworn 'twas not. Know we
not the hand of the master better than to take
such 'prentice-stuff for his ? As well affirm that
a daw's feather may drop from an eagle.

Sir Thomas. Nay, sir, I have better assur-
ance ; he himself, of his own motion, told my
father (and hath repeated it to myself) that he
ne'er wrote it.

Drayton. He hath told me the same — and
for the plays

16 Shakespeare's funeral.

Sir Tliomas. For the plays wherein 'twas
said he drew my father, 'twas idle gossip. How
should a Gloucestershire justice, one Shallow
(for such I am told is what passes for the por-
trait), represent Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote
in AVarwickshire ?

Thynne. 'Twas said, too, that he had set me
down along with mine uncle. By the mass ! I
should not care though it had been so ; for I
saw the play 1 once in London, and Master
Slender was a gentleman, and an esquire, and
of good means, though the people did laugh, I
know not why, at some of his discourse. But
he and the rest lived in Harry Fourth's time,
'twas said ; and how could I live in Harry
Fourth's time that go not back beyond Eliza-
beth ? though the Thynnes were well thought
on afore that, look you.

Sir Thomas. Well, sir, I have ne'er seen the
play, and love not players. I ever noted that
when they came to Stratford there was new
business for the justices. The idle sort grew
idler — they drew others on to join them that
would else have been better conducted — there
was less work, more drink, and more disorder.
I could never away with the players, sir; and
I was heartily with those who were for inhibit-
ing their theatre in Stratford.

1 " Merry Wives of Windsor."

Shakespeare's funeral. 17

Thynne. And I too, Cousin Lucy, I care not
for the play, though, good sooth, I liked it well
enough. But give me for sport a stage with
two good back-sword or quarter-staff men ; or a
greased pole with a Gloucester cheese atop ; or
a bull-running : but of all sport, by the mass !
I love the bear-garden — man and boy, I ever
loved it ; 'tis the rarest sport, in good sooth,

Drayton. Methought, Sir Thomas, when you
talked of honouring my dear friend, 'twas for
his works.

Sir Tliomas. Nay, sir, I make no account of
his works, and, indeed, know nought of them.
He had won a good station, and maintained it,
and therefore he should have his due.

Drayton. For his descent, that, as all men
know, was not above humble citizen's degree.

Sir Thomas. His mother was an Arden ; and
the College granted to his father a coat of arms,
a spear or, upon a bend sable, in a field of gold
— the crest, a falcon with his wings displayed,
standing on a wreath of his colours, supporting
a spear ; and he might impale with Arden.
And the gentleman himself hath for years been
of good havings, with lands and houses, and of
good repute in all his dealings ; therefore, say
I, that we who be neighbours and gentlemen,
should have him in respect.


18 Shakespeare's funeral.

Thymic. Yea, forsooth ! gentlemen should
give to other gentlemen (thof they be new-made
and quarter not) what countenance they may,
for their better advantage, and to maintain
them in consideration, look you, and to prosper
them ; and therefore 'tis we come to make two
at the burial.

Raleigh. O ye gods ! this of him that con-
ceived Lear and Othello ! Sirs, with your
leave we will now bid you farewell.

Sir Thomas. Nay, I pray you that we part
not so. I beseech you, Master Kaleigh, and
you, Master Drayton, that you lie this night
at Charlecote. I would have you home to
supper, and thank you, too, for your good

Tliynne. And I, sirs, have a poor house of
mine own within these dozen miles, and thof
I be not a knight like my cousin Lucy here,
yet I can lodge a guest as well as some ; now
that my mother be dead, I live as befits a
gentleman, good sooth, and I would bid you
welcome truly, now, and show you a mastiff
that hath lost an eye by a bear.

Drayton. Sir, I thank you. For your good
kindness, Sir Thomas, we are beholden to you ;
but, pray you, let us stand excused. Master
Kaleigh hath business that

Raleigh. Nay, Master Drayton, that busi-

Shakespeare's funeral. 19

ness we had is sadly ended, and our whole
journey marred. With your good leave, there-
fore, I would rejoice that we should take Sir
Thomas at his word.

Sir Thomas. By my troth, sirs, I am glad
on't, and you shall be heartily welcome. We'll
e'en meet here at four o' the clock, and ye shall
find wherewithal to bear you and your mails to

Raleigh. Till then, farewell. {To Drayton as
they go out.) Seest thou not, Master Michael,
that to sit in Master Shallow's house, perchance
in his very arbour 1 — to eat a pippin, maybe, of
his own grafting — to look on his effigy, clad as
he went to the Court with Falstaff — were a
chance that would lead me to journey barefoot
in the snow to Charlecote ? For being here in
the birthplace (alas ! now the deathplace) of
him I so reverenced, what better tribute can I
pay (now that nought but his memory is left

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Online LibraryEdward Bruce HamleyShakespeare's funeral and other papers → online text (page 1 of 17)