Infomotions, Inc.Citation and Examination of William Shakspeare, Euseby Treen, Joseph Carnaby, and Silas Gough, Clerk / Landor, Walter Savage, 1775-1864

Author: Landor, Walter Savage, 1775-1864
Title: Citation and Examination of William Shakspeare, Euseby Treen, Joseph Carnaby, and Silas Gough, Clerk
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): silas; william shakspeare; master silas; shakspeare; joseph carnaby; thomas; euseby treen; william; doctor glaston; monsieur dubois; worship
Contributor(s): Bell, Clara, 1834-1927 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 39,852 words (really short) Grade range: 8-10 (high school) Readability score: 67 (easy)
Identifier: etext5112
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Title: Citation and Examination of William Shakspeare

Author: Walter Savage Landor

Release Date: February, 2004  [EBook #5112]
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[This file was first posted on April 30, 2002]

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Transcribed from the 1891 Chatto & Windus edition by David Price,

On the Nineteenth Day of September in the Year of Grace 1582


"It was an ancestor of my husband who BROUGHT OUT the famous

These words were really spoken, and were repeated in conversation as
most ridiculous.  Certainly such was very far from the lady's
intention; and who knows to what extent they are true?

The frolic of Shakspeare in deer-stealing was the cause of his
Hegira; and his connection with players in London was the cause of
his writing plays.  Had he remained in his native town, his ambition
had never been excited by the applause of the intellectual, the
popular, and the powerful, which, after all, was hardly sufficient
to excite it.  He wrote from the same motive as he acted,--to earn
his daily bread.  He felt his own powers; but he cared little for
making them felt by others more than served his wants.

The malignant may doubt, or pretend to doubt, the authenticity of
the Examination here published.  Let us, who are not malignant, be
cautious of adding anything to the noisome mass of incredulity that
surrounds us; let us avoid the crying sin of our age, in which the
"Memoirs of a Parish Clerk," edited as they were by a pious and
learned dignitary of the Established Church, are questioned in
regard to their genuineness; and even the privileges of Parliament
are inadequate to cover from the foulest imputation--the imputation
of having exercised his inventive faculties--the elegant and
accomplished editor of Eugene Aram's apprehension, trial, and

Indeed, there is little of real history, excepting in romances.
Some of these are strictly true to nature; while histories in
general give a distorted view of her, and rarely a faithful record
either of momentous or of common events.

Examinations taken from the mouth are surely the most trustworthy.
Whoever doubts it may be convinced by Ephraim Barnett.

The Editor is confident he can give no offence to any person who may
happen to bear the name of Lucy.  The family of Sir Thomas became
extinct nearly half a century ago, and the estates descended to the
Rev. Mr. John Hammond, of Jesus College, in Oxford, a respectable
Welsh curate, between whom and him there existed at his birth
eighteen prior claimants.  He took the name of Lucy.

The reader will form to himself, from this "Examination of
Shakspeare," more favourable opinion of Sir Thomas than is left upon
his mind by the dramatist in the character of Justice Shallow.  The
knight, indeed, is here exhibited in all his pride of birth and
station, in all his pride of theologian and poet; he is led by the
nose, while he believes that nobody can move him, and shows some
other weaknesses, which the least attentive observer will discover;
but he is not without a little kindness at the bottom of the heart,-
-a heart too contracted to hold much, or to let what it holds
ebulliate very freely.  But, upon the whole, we neither can utterly
hate nor utterly despise him.  Ungainly as he is. -

Circum praecordia ludit.

The author of the "Imaginary Conversations" seems, in his "Boccacio
and Petrarca," to have taken his idea of Sir Magnus from this
manuscript.  He, however, has adapted that character to the times;
and in Sir Magnus the coward rises to the courageous, the unskilful
in arms becomes the skilful, and war is to him a teacher of
humanity.  With much superstition, theology never molests him;
scholarship and poetry are no affairs of his.  He doubts of himself
and others, and is as suspicious in his ignorance as Sir Thomas is

With these wide diversities, there are family features, such as are
likely to display themselves in different times and circumstances,
and some so generically prevalent as never to lie quite dormant in
the breed.  In both of them there is parsimony, there is arrogance,
there is contempt of inferiors, there is abject awe of power, there
is irresolution, there is imbecility.  But Sir Magnus has no
knowledge, and no respect for it.  Sir Thomas would almost go thirty
miles, even to Oxford, to see a fine specimen of it, although, like
most of those who call themselves the godly, he entertains the most
undoubting belief that he is competent to correct the errors of the
wisest and most practised theologian.


A part only of the many deficiencies which the reader will discover
in this book is attributable to the Editor.  These, however, it is
his duty to account for, and he will do it as briefly as he can.

The fac-similes (as printers' boys call them, meaning specimens) of
the handwriting of nearly all the persons introduced, might perhaps
have been procured had sufficient time been allowed for another
journey into Warwickshire.  That of Shakspeare is known already in
the signature to his will, but deformed by sickness; that of Sir
Thomas Lucy is extant at the bottom of a commitment of a female
vagrant, for having a sucking child in her arms on the public road;
that of Silas Gough is affixed to the register of births and
marriages, during several years, in the parishes of Hampton Lucy and
Charlecote, and certifies one death,--Euseby Treen's; surmised, at
least, to be his by the letters "E. T." cut on a bench seven inches
thick, under an old pollard-oak outside the park paling of
Charlecote, toward the northeast.  For this discovery the Editor is
indebted to a most respectable, intelligent farmer in the adjoining
parish of Wasperton, in which parish Treen's elder brother lies
buried.  The worthy farmer is unwilling to accept the large portion
of fame justly due to him for the services he has thus rendered to
literature in elucidating the history of Shakspeare and his times.
In possession of another agricultural gentleman there was recently a
very curious piece of iron, believed by many celebrated antiquaries
to have constituted a part of a knight's breast-plate.  It was
purchased for two hundred pounds by the trustees of the British
Museum, among whom, the reader will be grieved to hear, it produced
dissension and coldness; several of them being of opinion that it
was merely a gorget, while others were inclined to the belief that
it was the forepart of a horse-shoe.  The Committee of Taste and the
Heads of the Archaeological Society were consulted.  These learned,
dispassionate, and benevolent men had the satisfaction of
conciliating the parties at variance,--each having yielded somewhat
and every member signing, and affixing his seal to the signature,
that, if indeed it be the forepart of a horse-shoe, it was probably
Ismael's,--there being a curved indentation along it, resembling the
first letter of his name, and there being no certainty or record
that he died in France, or was left in that country by Sir Magnus.

The Editor is unable to render adequate thanks to the Rev. Stephen
Turnover for the gratification he received in his curious library by
a sight of Joseph Carnaby's name at full length, in red ink, coming
from a trumpet in the mouth of an angel.  This invaluable document
is upon an engraving in a frontispiece to the New Testament.  But
since unhappily he could procure no signature of Hannah Hathaway,
nor of her mother, and only a questionable one of Mr. John
Shakspeare, the poet's father,--there being two, in two very
different hands,--both he and the publisher were of opinion that the
graphical part of the volume would be justly censured as extremely
incomplete, and that what we could give would only raise
inextinguishable regret for that which we could not.  On this
reflection all have been omitted.

The Editor is unwilling to affix any mark of disapprobation on the
very clever engraver who undertook the sorrel mare; but as in the
memorable words of that ingenious gentleman from Ireland whose
polished and elaborate epigrams raised him justly to the rank of
prime minister, -

"White was not SO VERY white," -

in like manner it appeared to nearly all the artists he consulted
that the sorrel mare was not SO SORREL in print.

There is another and a graver reason why the Editor was induced to
reject the contribution of his friend the engraver; and this is, a
neglect of the late improvements in his art, he having, unadvisedly
or thoughtlessly, drawn in the old-fashioned manner lines at the two
sides and at the top and bottom of his print, confining it to such
limits as paintings are confined in by their frames.  Our spirited
engravers, it is well-known, disdain this thraldom, and not only
give unbounded space to their scenery, but also melt their figures
in the air,--so advantageously, that, for the most part, they
approach the condition of cherubs.  This is the true aerial
perspective, so little understood heretofore.  Trees, castles,
rivers, volcanoes, oceans, float together in absolute vacancy; the
solid earth is represented, what we know it actually is, buoyant as
a bubble, so that no wonder if every horse is endued with all the
privileges of Pegasus, save and except our sorrel.  Malicious
carpers, insensible or invidious of England's glory, deny her in
this beautiful practice the merit of invention, assigning it to the
Chinese in their tea-cups and saucers; but if not absolutely new and
ours, it must be acknowledged that we have greatly improved and
extended the invention.

Such are the reasons why the little volume here laid before the
public is defective in those decorations which the exalted state of
literature demands.  Something of compensation is supplied by a
Memorandum of Ephraim Barnett, written upon the inner cover, and
printed below.

The Editor, it will be perceived, is but little practised in the
ways of literature; much less is he gifted with that prophetic
spirit which can anticipate the judgment of the public.  It may be
that he is too idle or too apathetic to think anxiously or much
about the matter; and yet he has been amused, in his earlier days,
at watching the first appearance of such few books as he believed to
be the production of some powerful intellect.  He has seen people
slowly rise up to them, like carp in a pond when food is thrown into
it; some of which carp snatch suddenly at a morsel, and swallow it;
others touch it gently with their barb, pass deliberately by, and
leave it; others wriggle and rub against it more disdainfully;
others, in sober truth, know not what to make of it, swim round and
round it, eye it on the sunny side, eye it on the shady, approach
it, question it, shoulder it, flap it with the tail, turn it over,
look askance at it, take a pea-shell or a worm instead of it, and
plunge again their heads into the comfortable mud.  After some
seasons the same food will suit their stomachs better.


About one hour before noontide the youth WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE, accused
of deer-stealing, and apprehended for that offence, was brought into
the great hall at Charlecote, where, having made his obeisance, it
was most graciously permitted him to stand.

The worshipful Sir Thomas Lucy, Knight, seeing him right opposite,
on the farther side of the long table, and fearing no disadvantage,
did frown upon him with great dignity; then, deigning ne'er a word
to the culprit, turned he his face toward his chaplain, Sir Silas
Gough, who stood beside him, and said unto him most courteously, and
unlike unto one who in his own right commandeth, -

"Stand out of the way!  What are those two varlets bringing into the

"The table, sir," replied Master Silas, "upon the which the
consumption of the venison was perpetrated."

The youth, William Shakspeare, did thereupon pray and beseech his
lordship most fervently, in this guise:-

"Oh, sir! do not let him turn the tables against me, who am only a
simple stripling, and he an old codger."

But Master Silas did bite his nether lip, and did cry aloud, -

"Look upon those deadly spots!"

And his worship did look thereupon most staidly, and did say in the
ear of Master Silas, but in such wise that it reached even unto

"Good honest chandlery, methinks!"

"God grant it may turn out so!" ejaculated Master Silas.

The youth, hearing these words, said unto him, -

"I fear, Master Silas, gentry like you often pray God to grant what
HE would rather not; and now and then what YOU would rather not."

Sir Silas was wroth at this rudeness of speech about God in the face
of a preacher, and said, reprovingly, -

"Out upon thy foul mouth, knave! upon which lie slaughter and

Whereupon did William Shakspeare sit mute awhile, and discomfited;
then turning toward Sir Thomas, and looking and speaking as one
submiss and contrite, he thus appealed unto him:-

"Worshipful sir! were there any signs of venison on my mouth, Master
Silas could not for his life cry out upon it, nor help kissing it as
'twere a wench's."

Sir Thomas looked upon him with most lordly gravity and wisdom, and
said unto him, in a voice that might have come from the bench:

"Youth, thou speakest irreverently;" and then unto Master Silas:
"Silas! to the business on hand.  Taste the fat upon yon boor's
table, which the constable hath brought hither, good Master Silas!
And declare upon oath, being sworn in my presence, first, whether
said fat do proceed of venison; secondly, whether said venison be of
buck or doe."

Whereupon the reverend Sir Silas did go incontinently, and did bend
forward his head, shoulders, and body, and did severally taste four
white solid substances upon an oaken board; said board being about
two yards long, and one yard four inches wide,--found in, and
brought thither from, the tenement or messuage of Andrew Haggit, who
hath absconded.  Of these four white solid substances, two were
somewhat larger than a groat, and thicker; one about the size of
King Henry the Eighth's shilling, when our late sovereign lord of
blessed memory was toward the lustiest; and the other, that is to
say the middlemost, did resemble in some sort, a mushroom, not over
fresh, turned upward on its stalk.

"And what sayest thou, Master Silas?" quoth the knight.

In reply whereunto Sir Silas thus averred:-

"Venison! o' my conscience!
Buck! or burn me alive!

The three splashes in the circumference are verily and indeed
venison; buck, moreover,--and Charlecote buck, upon my oath!"

Then carefully tasting the protuberance in the centre, he spat it
out, crying, -

"Pho! pho! villain! villain!" and shaking his fist at the culprit.

Whereat the said culprit smiled and winked, and said off-hand, -

"Save thy spittle, Silas!  It would supply a gaudy mess to the
hungriest litter; but it would turn them from whelps into wolvets.
'T is pity to throw the best of thee away.  Nothing comes out of thy
mouth that is not savoury and solid, bating thy wit, thy sermons,
and thy promises."

It was my duty to write down the very words, irreverent as they are,
being so commanded.  More of the like, it is to be feared, would
have ensued, but that Sir Thomas did check him, saying, shrewdly, -

"Young man!  I perceive that if I do not stop thee in thy courses,
thy name, being involved in thy company's, may one day or other
reach across the county; and folks may handle it and turn it about,
as it deserveth, from Coleshill to Nuneaton, from Bromwicham to
Brownsover.  And who knoweth but that, years after thy death, the
very house wherein thou wert born may be pointed at, and commented
on, by knots of people, gentle and simple!  What a shame for an
honest man's son!  Thanks to me, who consider of measures to prevent
it!  Posterity shall laud and glorify me for plucking thee clean out
of her head, and for picking up timely a ticklish skittle, that
might overthrow with it a power of others just as light.  I will rid
the hundred of thee, with God's blessing!--nay, the whole shire.  We
will have none such in our county; we justices are agreed upon it,
and we will keep our word now and forevermore.  Woe betide any that
resembles thee in any part of him!"

Whereunto Sir Silas added, -

"We will dog him, and worry him, and haunt him, and bedevil him; and
if ever he hear a comfortable word, it shall be in a language very
different from his own."

"As different as thine is from a Christian's," said the youth.

"Boy! thou art slow of apprehension," said Sir Thomas, with much
gravity; and taking up the cue, did rejoin, -

"Master Silas would impress upon thy ductile and tender mind the
danger of evil doing; that we, in other words that justice is
resolved to follow him up, even beyond his country, where he shall
hear nothing better than the Italian or the Spanish, or the black
language, or the language of Turk or Troubadour, or Tartar or
Mongol.  And, forsooth, for this gentle and indirect reproof, a
gentleman in priest's orders is told by a stripling that he lacketh
Christianity!  Who then shall give it?"


"Who, indeed? when the founder of the feast leaveth an invited guest
so empty!  Yea, sir, the guest was invited, and the board was
spread.  The fruits that lay upon it be there still, and fresh as
ever; and the bread of life in those capacious canisters is
unconsumed and unbroken,"

SIR SILAS (aside).

"The knave maketh me hungry with his mischievous similitudes."


"Thou hast aggravated thy offence, Wil Shakspeare!  Irreverent
caitiff! is this a discourse for my chaplain and clerk?  Can he or
the worthy scribe Ephraim (his worship was pleased to call me
worthy) write down such words as those, about litter and wolvets,
for the perusal and meditation of the grand jury?  If the whole
corporation of Stratford had not unanimously given it against thee,
still his tongue would catch thee, as the evet catcheth a gnat.
Know, sirrah, the reverend Sir Silas, albeit ill appointed for
riding, and not over-fond of it, goeth to every house wherein is a
venison feast for thirty miles round.  Not a buck's hoof on any
stable-door but it awakeneth his recollections like a red letter."

This wholesome reproof did bring the youth back again to his right
senses; and then said he, with contrition, and with a wisdom beyond
his years, and little to be expected from one who had spoken just
before so unadvisedly and rashly, -

"Well do I know it, your worship!  And verily do I believe that a
bone of one being shovelled among the soil upon his coffin would
forthwith quicken {8a} him.  Sooth to say, there is ne'er a
buckhound in the county but he treateth him as a godchild, patting
him on the head, soothing his velvety ear between thumb and
forefinger, ejecting tick from tenement, calling him 'fine fellow,'
'noble lad,' and giving him his blessing, as one dearer to him than
a king's debt to a debtor, {8b} or a bastard to a dad of eighty.
This is the only kindness I ever heard of Master Silas toward his
fellow-creatures.  Never hold me unjust, Sir Knight, to Master
Silas.  Could I learn other good of him, I would freely say it; for
we do good by speaking it, and none is easier.  Even bad men are not
bad men while they praise the just.  Their first step backward is
more troublesome and wrenching to them than the first forward."

"In God's name, where did he gather all this?" whispered his worship
to the chaplain, by whose side I was sitting.  "Why, he talks like a
man of forty-seven, or more!"

"I doubt his sincerity, sir!" replied the chaplain.  "His words are
fairer now--"

"Devil choke him for them!" interjected he, with an undervoice.

"--and almost book-worthy; but out of place.  What the scurvy cur
yelped against me, I forgive him as a Christian.  Murrain upon such
varlet vermin!  It is but of late years that dignities have come to
be reviled.  The other parts of the Gospel were broken long before,-
-this was left us; and now this likewise is to be kicked out of
doors, amid the mutterings of such mooncalves as him yonder."

"Too true, Silas!" said the knight, sighing deeply.  "Things are not
as they were in our glorious wars of York and Lancaster.  The knaves
were thinned then,--two or three crops a year of that rank squitch-
grass which it has become the fashion of late to call the people.
There was some difference then between buff doublets and iron mail,
and the rogues felt it.  Well-a-day! we must bear what God willeth,
and never repine, although it gives a man the heart-ache.  We are
bound in duty to keep these things for the closet, and to tell God
of them only when we call upon his holy name, and have him quite by

Sir Silas looked discontented and impatient, and said, snappishly, -

"Cast we off here, or we shall be at fault.  Start him, sir!--
prithee, start him."

Again his worship, Sir Thomas, did look gravely and grandly, and
taking a scrap of paper out of the Holy Book then lying before him,
did read distinctly these words:-

"Providence hath sent Master Silas back hither, this morning, to
confound thee in thy guilt."

Again, with all the courage and composure of an innocent man, and
indeed with more than what an innocent man ought to possess in the
presence of a magistrate, the youngster said, pointing toward Master
Silas, -

"The first moment he ventureth to lift up his visage from the table,
hath Providence marked him miraculously.  I have heard of black
malice.  How many of our words have more in them than we think of!
Give a countryman a plough of silver, and he will plough with it all
the season, and never know its substance.  'T is thus with our daily
speech.  What riches lie hidden in the vulgar tongue of the poorest
and most ignorant!  What flowers of Paradise lie under our feet,
with their beauties and parts undistinguished and undiscerned, from
having been daily trodden on!  O, sir, look you!--but let me cover
my eyes!  Look at his lips!  Gracious Heaven! they were not thus
when he entered.  They are blacker now than Harry Tewe's bull-

Master Silas did lift up his eyes in astonishment and wrath; and his
worship, Sir Thomas, did open his wider and wider, and cried by fits
and starts:-

"Gramercy! true enough! nay, afore God, too true by half!  I never
saw the like!  Who would believe it?  I wish I were fairly rid of
this examination,--my hands washed clean thereof!  Another time,--
anon!  We have our quarterly sessions; we are many together.  At
present I remand--"

And now, indeed, unless Sir Silas had taken his worship by the
sleeve, he would may-hap have remanded the lad.  But Sir Silas,
still holding the sleeve and shaking it, said, hurriedly, -

"Let me entreat your worship to ponder.  What black does the fellow
talk of?  My blood and bile rose up against the rogue; but surely I
did not turn black in the face, or in the mouth, as the fellow calls

Whether Master Silas had some suspicion and inkling of the cause or
not, he rubbed his right hand along his face and lips, and, looking
upon it, cried aloud, -

"Ho, ho! is it off?  There is some upon my finger's end, I find.
Now I have it,--ay, there it is.  That large splash upon the centre
of the table is tallow, by my salvation!  The profligates sat up
until the candle burned out, and the last of it ran through the
socket upon the board.  We knew it before.  I did convey into my
mouth both fat and smut!"

"Many of your cloth and kidney do that, good Master Silas, and make
no wry faces about it," quoth the youngster, with indiscreet
merriment, although short of laughter, as became him who had already
stepped too far and reached the mire.

To save paper and time, I shall now, for the most part, write only
what they all said, not saying that they said it, and just copying
out in my clearest hand what fell respectively from their mouths.


"I did indeed spit it forth, and emunge my lips, as who should not?"


"Would it were so!"


"WOULD IT WERE SO! in thy teeth, hypocrite!"


"And, truly, I likewise do incline to hope and credit it, as thus
paraphrased and expounded."


"Wait until this blessed day next year, sir, at the same hour.  You
shall see it forth again at its due season; it would be no miracle
if it lasted.  Spittle may cure sore eyes, but not blasted mouths
and scald consciences."


"Why! who taught thee all this?"

Then turned he leisurely toward Sir Silas, and placing his hand
outspreaden upon the arm of the chaplain, said unto him in a low,
judicial, hollow voice, -

"Every word true and solemn!  I have heard less wise saws from
between black covers."

Sir Silas was indignant at this under-rating, as he appeared to
think it, of the church and its ministry, and answered impatiently,
with Christian freedom, -

"Your worship surely will not listen to this wild wizard in his


"Do I live to hear Charlecote Hall called a brothel-pulpit?  Alas,
then, I have lived too long!"


"We will try to amend that for thee."

William seemed not to hear him, loudly as he spake and pointedly
unto the youngster, who wiped his eyes, crying, -

"Commit me, sir! in mercy commit me!  Master Ephraim!  Oh, Master
Ephraim!  A guiltless man may feel all the pangs of the guilty!  Is
it you who are to make out the commitment?  Dispatch! dispatch.  I
am a-weary of my life.  If I dared to lie, I would plead guilty."


"Heyday!  No wonder, Master Ephraim, thy entrails are moved and
wamble.  Dost weep, lad?  Nay, nay; thou bearest up bravely.  Silas,
I now find, although the example come before me from humble life,
that what my mother said was true--'t was upon my father's demise--
'In great grief there are few tears.'"

Upon which did the youth, Willy Shakspeare, jog himself by the
memory, and repeat these short verses, not wide from the same

"There are, alas, some depths of woe
Too vast for tears to overflow."


"Let those who are sadly vexed in spirit mind that notion, whoever
indited it, and be men.  I always was; but some little griefs have
pinched me woundily."

Master Silas grew impatient, for he had ridden hard that morning,
and had no cushion upon his seat, as Sir Thomas had.  I have seen in
my time that he who is seated on beech-wood hath very different
thoughts and moralities from him who is seated on goose-feathers
under doe-skin.  But that is neither here nor there, albeit, an' I
die, as I must, my heirs, Judith and her boy Elijah, may note it.

Master Silas, as above, looked sourishly, and cried aloud, -

"The witnesses! the witnesses! testimony! testimony!  We shall now
see whose black goes deepest.  There is a fork to be had that can
hold the slipperiest eel, and a finger that can strip the slimiest.
I cry your worship to the witnesses."


"Ay, indeed, we are losing the day; it wastes toward noon, and
nothing done.  Call the witnesses.  How are they called by name?
Give me the paper."

The paper being forthwith delivered into his worship's hand by the
learned clerk, his worship did read aloud the name of Euseby Treen.
Whereupon did Euseby Treen come forth through the great hall-door
which was ajar, and answer most audibly, -

"Your worship!"

Straightway did Sir Thomas read aloud, in like form and manner, the
name of Joseph Carnaby; and in like manner as aforesaid did Joseph
Carnaby make answer and say, -

"Your worship!"

Lastly did Sir Thomas turn the light of his countenance on William
Shakspeare, saying, -

"Thou seest these good men deponents against thee, William
Shakspeare."  And then did Sir Thomas pause.  And pending this pause
did William Shakspeare look steadfastly in the faces of both; and
stroking down his own with the hollow of his hand from the jaw-bone
to the chin-point, said unto his honour, -

"Faith! it would give me much pleasure, and the neighbourhood much
vantage, to see these two fellows good men.  Joseph Carnaby and
Euseby Treen!  Why! your worship! they know every hare's form in
Luddington-field better than their own beds, and as well pretty nigh
as any wench's in the parish."

Then turned he with jocular scoff unto Joseph Carnaby, thus
accosting him, whom his shirt, being made stiffer than usual for the
occasion, rubbed and frayed, -

"Ay, Joseph! smoothen and soothe thy collar-piece again and again!
Hark ye!  I know what smock that was knavishly cut from."

Master Silas rose up in high choler, and said unto Sir Thomas, -

"Sir! do not listen to that lewd reviler; I wager ten groats I prove
him to be wrong in his scent.  Joseph Carnaby is righteous and


"By daylight and before the parson.  Bears and boars are tame
creatures, and discreet, in the sunshine and after dinner."


"I do know his down-goings and uprisings."


"The man and his wife are one, saith holy Scripture."


"A sober-paced and rigid man, if such there be.  Few keep Lent like
unto him."


"I warrant him, both lent and stolen."


"Peace and silence!  Now, Joseph Carnaby, do thou depose on


"May it please your worship!  I was returning from Hampton upon
Allhallowmas eve, between the hours of ten and eleven at night, in
company with Master Euseby Treen; and when we came to the bottom of
Mickle Meadow, we heard several men in discourse.  I plucked Euseby
Treen by the doublet, and whispered in his ear, 'Euseby! Euseby! let
us slink along in the shadow of the elms and willows.'"


"WILLOWS AND ELM-TREES were the words."


"See, your worship! what discordances!  They cannot agree in their
own story."


"The same thing, the same thing, in the main."


"By less differences than this estates have been lost, hearts
broken, and England, our country, filled with homeless, helpless,
destitute orphans.  I protest against it."


"Protest, indeed!  He talks as if he were a member of the House of
Lords.  They alone can protest."


"Your attorney may OBJECT, not PROTEST, before the lord judge.

"Proceed you, Joseph Carnaby."


"In the shadow of the willows and elm-trees, then--"


"No hints, no conspiracies!  Keep to your own story, man, and do not
borrow his."


"I overrule the objection.  Nothing can be more futile and


"So learned a magistrate as your worship will surely do me justice
by hearing me attentively.  I am young; nevertheless, having more
than one year written in the office of an attorney, and having heard
and listened to many discourses and questions on law, I cannot but
remember the heavy fine inflicted on a gentleman of this county who
committed a poor man to prison for being in possession of a hare, it
being proved that the hare was in his possession, and not he in the


"Synonymous term! synonymous term!"


"In what term sayest thou was it?  I do not remember the case."


"Mere quibble mere equivocation!  Jesuitical!  Jesuitical!"


"It would be Jesuitical, Sir Silas, if it dragged the law by its
perversions to the side of oppression and cruelty.  The order of
Jesuits, I fear, is as numerous as its tenets are lax and
comprehensive.  I am sorry to see their frocks flounced with English


"I don't understand thee, viper!"


"Cease thou, Will Shakspeare!  Know thy place.  And do thou, Joseph
Carnaby, take up again the thread of thy testimony."


"We were still at some distance from the party, when on a sudden
Euseby hung an --- " {21a}


"As well write DREW BACK, Master Ephraim and Master Silas!  Be
circumspecter in speech, Master Joseph Carnaby!  I did not look for
such rude phrases from that starch-warehouse under thy chin.
Continue, man!"


"'Euseby,' said I in his ear, 'what ails thee, Euseby?'  'I wag no
farther,' quoth he.  'What a number of names and voices!'"


"Dreadful gang! a number of names and voices!  Had it been any other
day in the year but Allhallowmas eve!  To steal a buck upon such a
day!  Well!  God may pardon even that.  Go on, go on.  But the laws
of our country must have their satisfaction and atonement.  Were it
upon any other day in the calendar less holy, the buck were nothing,
or next to nothing, saving the law and our conscience and our good
report.  Yet we, her Majesty's justices, must stand in the gap, body
and soul, against evil-doers.  Now do thou, in furtherance of this
business, give thine aid unto us, Joseph Carnaby!--remembering that
mine eye from this judgment-seat, and her Majesty's bright and
glorious one overlooking the whole realm, and the broader of God
above, are upon thee."

Carnaby did quail a matter at these words about the judgment-seat
and the broad eye, aptly and gravely delivered by him moreover who
hath to administer truth and righteousness in our ancient and
venerable laws, and especially, at the present juncture, in those
against park-breaking and deer-stealing.  But finally, nought
discomfited, and putting his hand valiantly atwixt hip and midriff,
so that his elbow well-nigh touched the taller pen in the ink-pot,
he went on.


NEARER.'  We were still at some distance, maybe a score of furlongs,
from the party--"


"Thou hast said it already--all save the score of furlongs."

"Hast room for them, Master Silas?"

"Yea," quoth Master Silas, "and would make room for fifty, to let
the fellow swing at his ease."


"Hast room, Master Ephraim?"

"'T is done, most worshipful!" said I.  The learned knight did not
recollect that I could put fifty furlongs in a needle's eye, give me
pen fine enough.

But far be it from me to vaunt of my penmanship, although there be
those who do malign it, even in my own township and parish; yet they
never have unperched me from my calling, and have had hard work to
take an idle wench or two from under me on Saturday nights.

I memorize thus much, not out of any malice or any soreness about
me, but that those of my kindred into whose hands it please God
these papers do fall hereafter, may bear up stoutly in such straits;
and if they be good at the cudgel, that they, looking first at their
man, do give it him heartily and unsparingly, keeping within law.

Sir Thomas, having overlooked what we had written, and meditated a
while thereupon, said unto Joseph, -

"It appeareth by thy testimony that there was a huge and desperate
gang of them afoot.  Revengeful dogs! it is difficult to deal with
them.  The laws forbid precipitancy and violence.  A dozen or two
may return and harm me; not me, indeed, but my tenants and servants.
I would fain act with prudence, and like unto him who looketh
abroad.  He must tie his shoe tightly who passeth through mire; he
must step softly who steppeth over stones; he must walk in the fear
of the Lord (which, without a brag, I do at this present feel upon
me), who hopeth to reach the end of the straightest road in safety."


"Tut, tut! your worship!  Her Majesty's deputy hath matchlocks and
halters at a knight's disposal, or the world were topsyturvy


"My mental ejaculations, and an influx of grace thereupon, have
shaken and washed from my brain all thy last words, good Joseph!
Thy companion here, Euseby Treen, said unto thee--ay--"


"Said unto me, 'What a number of names and voices!  And there be but
three living men in all!  And look again!  Christ deliver us! all
the shadows save one go leftward; that one lieth right upon the
river.  It seemeth a big, squat monster, shaking a little, as one
ready to spring upon its prey!'"


"A dead man in his last agonies, no doubt!  Your deer-stealer doth
boggle at nothing.  He hath alway the knife in doublet and the devil
at elbow.

"I wot not of any keeper killed or missing.  To lose one's deer and
keeper too were overmuch.

"Do, in God's merciful name, hand unto me a glass of sack, Master
Silas!  I wax faintish at the big, squat man.  He hath harmed not
only me, but mine.  Furthermore, the examination is grown so long."

Then was the wine delivered by Sir Silas into the hand of his
worship, who drank it off in a beaker of about half a pint,--but
little to his satisfaction, for he said shortly afterward, -

"Hast thou poured no water into the sack, good Master Silas?  It
seemeth weaker and washier than ordinary, and affordeth small
comfort unto the breast and stomach."

"Not I, truly, sir," replied Master Silas "and the bottle is a fresh
and sound one.  The cork reported on drawing, as the best diver doth
on sousing from Warwick bridge into Avon.  A rare cork! as bright as
the glass bottle, and as smooth as the lips of any cow."


"My mouth is out of taste this morning; or the same wine, mayhap,
hath a different force and flavor in the dining-room and among
friends.  But to business--what more?"

"Euseby Treen, what may it be?" said I.

"I know," quoth he, "but dare not breathe it."


"I thought I had taken a glass of wine, verily.  Attention to my
duty as a magistrate is paramount.  I mind nothing else when that
lies before me.

"Carnaby!  I credit thy honesty, but doubt thy manhood.  Why not
breathe it, with a vengeance?"


"It was Euseby who dared not."


"Stand still!  Say nothing yet; mind my orders.  Fair and softly!
compose thyself."

They all stood silent for some time, and looked very composed,
awaiting the commands of the knight.  His mind was clearly in such a
state of devotion that peradventure he might not have descended for
a while longer to his mundane duties, had not Master Silas told him
that, under the shadow of his wing, their courage had returned and
they were quite composed again.

"You may proceed," said the knight.


"Master Treen did take off his cap and wipe his forehead.  I, for
the sake of comforting him in this his heaviness, placed my hand
upon his crown; and truly I might have taken it for a tuft of bents,
the hair on end, the skin immovable as God's earth!"

Sir Thomas, hearing these words, lifted up his hands above his own
head, and in the loudest voice he had yet uttered did he cry, -

"Wonderful are thy ways in Israel, O Lord!"

So saying, the pious knight did strike his knee with the palm of his
right hand; and then gave he a sign, bowing his head and closing his
eyes, by which Master Carnaby did think he signified his pleasure
that he should go on deposing.  And he went on thus:-


"At this moment one of the accomplices cried, 'Willy!  Willy!
prithee stop! enough in all conscience!  First thou divertedst us
from our undertaking with thy strange vagaries, thy Italian girls'
nursery sigh, thy Pucks and pinchings, and thy Windsor whimsies.  No
kitten upon a bed of marum ever played such antics.  It was summer
and winter, night and day with us within the hour; and in such
religion did we think and feel it, we would have broken the man's
jaw who gainsaid it.  We have slept with thee under the oaks in the
ancient forest of Arden, and we have wakened from our sleep in the
tempest far at sea. {29a}  Now art thou for frightening us again out
of all the senses thou hadst given us, with witches and women more
murderous than they.'

"Then followed a deeper voice:  'Stouter men and more resolute are
few; but thou, my lad, hast words too weighty for flesh and bones to
bear up against.  And who knows but these creatures may pop amongst
us at last, as the wolf did, sure enough, upon him, the noisy rogue,
who so long had been crying WOLF! and WOLF!


"Well spoken, for two thieves; albeit I miss the meaning of the most
part.  Did they prevail with the scapegrace and stop him?"


"The last who had spoken did slap him on the shoulder, saying, 'Jump
into the punt, lad, and across.'  Thereupon did Will Shakspeare jump
into said punt, and begin to sing a song about a mermaid."


"Sir! is this credible?  I will be sworn I never saw one; and verily
do believe that scarcely one in a hundred years doth venture so far
up the Avon."


"There is something in this.  Thou mayest have sung about one,
nevertheless.  Young poets take great liberties with all female
kind; not that mermaids are such very unlawful game for them, and
there be songs even about worse and staler fish.  Mind ye that!
Thou hast written songs, and hast sung them, and lewd enough they
be, God wot!"


"Pardon me, your worship! they were not mine then.  Peradventure the
song about the mermaid may have been that ancient one which every
boy in most parishes has been singing for many years, and, perhaps,
his father before him; and somebody was singing it then, mayhap, to
keep up his courage in the night."


"I never heard it."


"Nobody would dare to sing in the presence of your worship, unless
commanded,--not even the mermaid herself."


"Canst thou sing it?


"Verily, I can sing nothing."


"Canst thou repeat it from memory?"


"It is so long since I have thought about it, that I may fail in the


"Try, however."


"'The mermaid sat upon the rocks
   All day long,
Admiring her beauty and combing her locks,
   And singing a mermaid song.'"


"What was it? what was it?  I thought as much.  There thou standest,
like a woodpecker, chattering and chattering, breaking the bark with
thy beak, and leaving the grub where it was.  This is enough to put
a saint out of patience."


"The wishes of your worship possess a mysterious influence,--I now
remember all.

"'And hear the mermaid's song you may,
   As sure as sure can be,
If you will but follow the sun all day,
   And souse with him into the sea.'"


"It must be an idle fellow who would take that trouble; besides,
unless he nicked the time he might miss the monster.  There be many
who are slow to believe that the mermaid singeth."


"Ah sir! not only the mermaid singeth, but the merman sweareth, as
another old song will convince you."


"I would fain be convinced of God's wonders in the great deeps, and
would lean upon the weakest reed like unto thee to manifest his
glory.  Thou mayest convince me."



"'A wonderful story, my lasses and lads,
Peradventure you've heard from your grannams or dads,
Of a merman that came every night to woo
The spinster of spinsters, our Catherine Crewe.


      "'But Catherine Crewe
      Is now seventy-two,
   And avers she hath half forgotten
The truth of the tale, when you ask her about it,
And says, as if fain to deny it or flout it,


"'The merman came up as the mermen are wont,
To the top of the water, and then swam upon 't;
And Catherine saw him with both her two eyes,
A lusty young merman full six feet in size.


      "'And Catherine was frighten'd,
      Her scalp-skin it tighten'd,
And her head it swam strangely, although on dry land;
   And the merman made bold
   Eftsoons to lay hold
(THIS Catherine well recollects) of her hand.


"'But how could a merman, if ever so good,
Or if ever so clever, be well understood
By a simple young creature of our flesh and blood?


      "'Some tell us the merman
      Can only speak German,
   In a voice between grunting and snoring;
But Catherine says he had learned in the wars
The language, persuasions, and oaths of our tars,
   And that even his voice was not foreign.


"'Yet when she was asked how he managed to hide
The green fishy tail, coming out of the tide
   For night after night above twenty,
"You troublesome creatures!" old Catherine replied,
   "IN HIS POCKET; won't that now content ye?"'"


"I have my doubts yet.  I should have said unto her, seriously,
'Kate!  Kate!  I am not convinced.'  There may be witchcraft or
sortilege in it.  I would have made it a star-chamber matter."


"It was one, sir."


"And now I am reminded by this silly, childish song,--which, after
all, is not the true mermaid's,--thou didst tell me, Silas, that the
papers found in the lad's pocket were intended for poetry."


"I wish he had missed his aim, sir, in your park, as he hath missed
it in his poetry.  The papers are not worth reading; they do not go
against him in the point at issue."


"We must see that,--they being taken upon his person when


"Let Ephraim read them, then; it behooveth not me, a Master of Arts,
to con a whelp's whining."


"Do thou read them aloud unto us, good Master Ephraim."

Whereupon I took the papers which young Willy had not bestowed much
pains on; and they posed and puzzled me grievously, for they were
blotted and scrawled in many places, as if somebody had put him out.
These likewise I thought fit, after long consideration, to write
better, and preserve, great as the loss of time is when men of
business take in hand such unseemly matters.  However, they are
decenter than most, and not without their moral; for example:-


"Who, O thou sapient, saintly bird!
Thy shouted warnings ever heard
      Unbleached by fear?
The blue-faced blubbering imp, who steals
Yon turnips, thinks thee at his heels,
      Afar or near.

"The brawnier churl, who brags at times
To front and top the rankest crimes, -
      To paunch a deer,
Quarter a priest, or squeeze a wench, -
Scuds from thee, clammy as a tench,
      He knows not where.

"For this the righteous Lord of all
Consigns to thee the castle-wall,
      When, many a year,
Closed in the chancel-vaults, are eyes
Rainy or sunny at the sighs
      Of knight or peer."

Sir Thomas, when I had ended, said unto me,

"No harm herein; but are they over?"

I replied, "Yea, sir!"

"I miss the POSY," quoth he; "there is usually a lump of sugar, or a
smack thereof at the bottom of the glass.  They who are
inexperienced in poetry do write it as boys do their copies in the
copy-book, without a flourish at the finis.  It is only the master
who can do this befittingly."

I bowed unto his worship reverentially, thinking of a surety he
meant me, and returned my best thanks in set language.  But his
worship rebuffed them, and told me graciously that he had an eye on
another of very different quality; that the plain sense of his
discourse might do for me, the subtler was certainly for himself.
He added that in his younger days he had heard from a person of
great parts, and had since profited by it, that ordinary poets are
like adders,--the tail blunt and the body rough, and the whole
reptile cold-blooded and sluggish:  "whereas we," he subjoined,
"leap and caracole and curvet, and are as warm as velvet, and as
sleek as satin, and as perfumed as a Naples fan, in every part of
us; and the end of our poems is as pointed as a perch's back-fin,
and it requires as much nicety to pick it up as a needle{38a} at
nine groats the hundred."

Then turning toward the culprit, he said mildly unto him, -

"Now why canst thou not apply thyself unto study?  Why canst thou
not ask advice of thy superiors in rank and wisdom?  In a few years,
under good discipline, thou mightest rise from the owlet unto the
peacock.  I know not what pleasant things might not come into the
youthful head thereupon.

"He was the bird of Venus, {39b} goddess of beauty.  He flew down (I
speak as a poet, and not in my quality of knight and Christian) with
half the stars of heaven upon his tail; and his long, blue neck doth
verily appear a dainty slice out of the solid sky."

Sir Silas smote me with his elbow, and said in my ear, -

"He wanteth not this stuffing; he beats a pheasant out of the
kitchen, to my mind, take him only at the pheasant's size, and don't
(upon your life) overdo him.

"Never be cast down in spirit, nor take it too 'grievously to heart,
if the colour be a suspicion of the pinkish,--no sign of rawness in
that; none whatever.  It is as becoming to him as to the salmon; it
is as natural to your pea-chick in his best cookery, as it is to the
finest October morning,--moist underfoot, when partridge's and
puss's and renard's scent lies sweetly."

Willie Shakspeare, in the mean time, lifted up his hands above his
ears half a cubit, and taking breath again, said, audibly, although
he willed it to be said unto himself alone, -

"O that knights could deign to be our teachers!  Methinks I should
briefly spring up into heaven, through the very chink out of which
the peacock took his neck."

Master Silas, who like myself and the worshipful knight, did
overhear him, said angrily, -

"To spring up into heaven, my lad, it would be as well to have at
least one foot upon the ground to make the spring withal.  I doubt
whether we shall leave thee this vantage."

"Nay, nay! thou art hard upon him, Silas," said the knight.

I was turning over the other papers taken from the pocket of the
culprit on his apprehension, and had fixed my eyes on one, when Sir
Thomas caught them thus occupied, and exclaimed, -

" Mercy upon us! have we more?"

"Your patience, worshipful sir!" said I; "must I forward?"

"Yea, yea," quoth he, resignedly, "we must go through; we are
pilgrims in this life."

Then did I read, in a clear voice, the contents of paper the second,
being as followeth:-


"I loved him not; and yet, now he is gone,
   I feel I am alone.
I check'd him while he spoke; yet, could he speak,
   Alas! I would not check.
For reasons not to love him once I sought,
   And wearied all my thought
To vex myself and him:  I now would give
   My love could he but live
Who lately lived for me, and when he found
   'T was vain, in holy ground
He hid his face amid the shades of death!
   I waste for him my breath
Who wasted his for me! but mine returns,
   And this loin bosom burns
With stifling heat, heaving it up in sleep,
   And waking me to weep
Tears that had melted his soft heart.  For years
   Wept he as bitter tears!
MERCIFUL GOD! such was his latest prayer,
Quieter is his breath, his breast more cold,
   Than daisies in the mould,
Where children spell, athwart the churchyard gate,
   His name and life's brief date.
Pray for him, gentle souls, whoe'er you be,
   And, oh! pray too for me!"

Sir Thomas had fallen into a most comfortable and refreshing slumber
ere this lecture was concluded; but the pause broke it, as there be
many who experience after the evening service in our parish-church.
Howbeit, he had presently all his wits about him, and remembered
well that he had been carefully counting the syllables, about the
time when I had pierced as far as into the middle.

"Young man," said he to Willy, "thou givest short measure in every
other sack of the load.  Thy uppermost stake is of right length; the
undermost falleth off, methinks.

"Master Ephraim, canst thou count syllables?  I mean no offence.  I
may have counted wrongfully myself, not being born nor educated for
an accountant."

At such order I did count; and truly the suspicion was as just as if
he had neither been a knight nor a sleeper.

"Sad stuff! sad stuff, indeed!" said Master Silas, "and smelling of
popery and wax-candles."

"Ay?" said Sir Thomas, "I must sift that."

"If praying for the dead is not popery," said Master Silas, "I know
not what the devil is.  Let them pray for us; they may know whether
it will do us any good.  We need not pray for them; we cannot tell
whether it will do them any.  I call this sound divinity."

"Are our churchmen all agreed thereupon?" asked Sir Thomas.

"The wisest are," replied Master Silas.

"There are some lank rascals who will never agree upon anything but
upon doubting.  I would not give ninepence for the best gown upon
the most thrifty of 'em; and their fingers are as stiff and hard
with their pedlary, knavish writing, as any bishop's are with chalk-
stones won honestly from the gout."

Sir Thomas took the paper up from the table on which I had laid it,
and said after a while, -

"The man may only have swooned.  I scorn to play the critic, or to
ask any one the meaning of a word; but, sirrah!"

Here he turned in his chair from the side of Master Silas, and said
unto Willy, -

"William Shakspeare! out of this thraldom in regard to popery, I
hope, by God's blessing, to deliver thee.  If ever thou repeatest
the said verses, knowing the man to be to all intents and purposes a
dead man, prythee read the censurable line as thus corrected, -

'Pray for our Virgin Queen, gentles! whoe'er you be.'

although it is not quite the thing that another should impinge so
closely on her skirts.

"By this improvement, of me suggested, thou mayest make some amends-
-a syllable or two--for the many that are weighed in the balance and
are found wanting."

Then turning unto me, as being conversant by my profession in such
matters, and the same being not very worthy of learned and staid
clerks the like of Master Silas, he said, -

"Of all the youths that did ever write in verse, this one verily is
he who hath the fewest flowers and devices.  But it would be loss of
time to form a border, in the fashion of a kingly crown, or a
dragon, or a Turk on horseback, out of buttercups and dandelions.

"Master Ephraim! look at these badgers! with a long leg on one
quarter and a short leg on the other.  The wench herself might well
and truly have said all that matter without the poet, bating the
rhymes and metre.  Among the girls in the country there are many
such SHILLY-SHALLYS, who give themselves sore eyes and sharp eye-
water; I would cure them rod in hand."

Whereupon did William Shakspeare say, with great humility, -

"So would I, may it please your worship, an they would let me."

"Incorrigible sluts!  Out upon 'em! and thou art no better than they
are," quoth the knight.

Master Silas cried aloud, "No better, marry! they at the worst are
but carted and whipped for the edification of the market-folks.
{44a}  Not a squire or parson in the country round but comes in his
best to see a man hanged."

"The edification then is higher by a deal," said William, very

"Troth! is it," replied Master Silas.  "The most poisonous reptile
has the richest jewel in his head; thou shalt share the richest gift
bestowed upon royalty, and shalt cure the king's evil." {45a}

"It is more tractable, then, than the church's," quoth William; and,
turning his face toward the chair, he made an obeisance to Sir
Thomas, saying, -

"Sir! the more submissive my behaviour is, the more vehement and
boisterous is Master Silas.  My gentlest words serve only to carry
him toward the contrary quarter, as the south wind bloweth a ship

"Youth," said Sir Thomas, smiling most benignly, "I find, and well
indeed might I have surmised, thy utter ignorance of winds,
equinoxes, and tides.  Consider now a little!  With what propriety
can a wind be called a south wind if it bloweth a vessel to the
north?  Would it be a south wind that blew it from this hall into
Warwick market-place?"

"It would be a strong one," said Master Silas unto me, pointing his
remark, as witty men are wont, with the elbow-pan.

But Sir Thomas, who waited for an answer, and received none,
continued, -

"Would a man be called a good man who tended and pushed on toward


"I stand corrected.  I could sail to Cathay or Tartary {46a} with
half the nautical knowledge I have acquired in this glorious hall.

"The devil impelling a mortal to wrong courses, is thereby known to
be the devil.  He, on the contrary, who exciteth to good is no
devil, but an angel of light, or under the guidance of one.  The
devil driveth unto his own home; so doth the south wind, so doth the
north wind.

"Alas! alas! we possess not the mastery over our own weak minds when
a higher spirit standeth nigh and draweth us within his influence."


"Those thy words are well enough,--very well, very good, wise,
discreet, judicious beyond thy years.  But then that SAILING comes
in an awkward, ugly way across me,--that CATHAY, that TARTARUS!

"Have a care!  Do thou nothing rashly.  Mind! an thou stealest my
punt for the purpose, I send the constable after thee or e'er thou
art half way over."


"He would make a stock-fish of me an he caught me.  It is hard
sailing out of his straits, although they be carefully laid down in
most parishes, and may have taken them from actual survey."


"Sir, we have bestowed on him already well-nigh a good hour of our

Sir Thomas, who was always fond of giving admonition and reproof to
the ignorant and erring, and who had found the seeds (little
mustard-seeds, 't is true, and never likely to arise into the great
mustard-tree of the Gospel) in the poor lad Willy, did let his heart
soften a whit tenderer and kindlier than Master Silas did, and said
unto Master Silas, -

"A good hour of our time!  Yea, Silas! and thou wouldst give HIM

"What, sir! would you let him go?" said Master Silas.  "Presently we
shall have neither deer nor dog, neither hare nor coney, neither
swan nor heron; every carp from pool, every bream from brook, will
be groped for.  The marble monuments in the church will no longer
protect the leaden coffins; and if there be any ring of gold on the
finger of knight or dame, it will be torn away with as little ruth
and ceremony as the ring from a butchered sow's snout."

"Awful words!  Master Silas," quoth the knight, musing; "but thou
mistakest my intentions.  I let him not go; howbeit, at worst I
would only mark him in the ear, and turn him up again after this
warning, peradventure with a few stripes to boot athwart the
shoulders, in order to make them shrug a little, and shake off the
burden of idleness."

Now I, having seen, I dare not say the innocence, but the innocent
and simple manner of Willy, and pitying his tender years, and having
an inkling that he was a lad, poor Willy! whom God had endowed with
some parts, and into whose breast he had instilled that milk of
loving-kindness by which alone we can be like unto those little
children of whom is the household and kingdom of our Lord,--I was
moved, yea, even unto tears.  And now, to bring gentler thoughts
into the hearts of Master Silas and Sir Thomas, who, in his wisdom,
deemed it a light punishment to slit an ear or two, or inflict a
wiry scourging, I did remind his worship that another paper was yet
unread, at least to them, although I had been perusing it.

This was much pleasanter than the two former, and overflowing with
the praises of the worthy knight and his gracious lady; and having
an echo to it in another voice, I did hope thereby to disarm their
just wrath and indignation.  It was thus couched:-


"Jesu! what lofty elms are here!
Let me look through them at the clear,
Deep sky above, and bless my star
That such a worthy knight's they are!


"Innocent creatures! how those deer
Trot merrily, and romp and rear!


"The glorious knight who walks beside
His most majestic lady bride,


"Under these branches spreading wide,


"Carries about so many cares
Touching his ancestors and heirs,
That came from Athens and from Rome -


"As many of them as are come -


"Nought else the smallest lodge can find
In the vast manors of his mind;
Envying not Solomon his wit -


"No, nor his women not a bit;
Being well-built and well-behaved
As Solomon, I trow, or David.


"And taking by his jewell'd hand
The jewel of that lady bland,
He sees the tossing antlers pass
And throw quaint shadows o'er the grass;
While she alike the hour beguiles,
And looks at him and them, and smiles.


"With conscience proof 'gainst Satan's shock,
Albeit finer than her smock, {50a}
Marry! her smiles are not of vanity,
But resting on sound Christianity.
Faith, you would swear, had nail'd {50b} her ears on
The book and cushion of the parson."

"Methinks the rhyme at the latter end might be bettered," said Sir
Thomas.  "The remainder is indited not unaptly.  But, young man,
never having obtained the permission of my honourable dame to praise
her in guise of poetry, I cannot see all the merit I would fain
discern in the verses.  She ought first to have been sounded; and it
being certified that she disapproved not her glorification, then
might it be trumpeted forth into the world below."

"Most worshipful knight," replied the youngster, "I never could take
it in hand to sound a dame of quality,--they are all of them too
deep and too practised for me, and have better and abler men about
'em.  And surely I did imagine to myself that if it were asked of
any honourable man (omitting to speak of ladies) whether he would
give permission to be openly praised, he would reject the
application as a gross offence.  It appeareth to me that even to
praise one's self, although it be shameful, is less shameful than to
throw a burning coal into the incense-box that another doth hold to
waft before us, and then to snift and simper over it, with maidenly,
wishful coyness, as if forsooth one had no hand in setting it

Then did Sir Thomas, in his zeal to instruct the ignorant, and so
make the lowly hold up their heads, say unto him, -

"Nay, but all the great do thus.  Thou must not praise them without
leave and license.  Praise unpermitted is plebeian praise.  It is
presumption to suppose that thou knowest enough of the noble and the
great to discover their high qualities.  They alone could manifest
them unto thee.  It requireth much discernment and much time to
enucleate and bring into light their abstruse wisdom and gravely
featured virtues.  Those of ordinary men lie before thee in thy
daily walks; thou mayest know them by converse at their tables, as
thou knowest the little tame squirrel that chippeth his nuts in the
open sunshine of a bowling-green.  But beware how thou enterest the
awful arbours of the great, who conceal their magnanimity in the
depths of their hearts, as lions do."

He then paused; and observing the youth in deep and earnest
meditation over the fruits of his experience, as one who tasted and
who would fain digest them; he gave him encouragement, and relieved
the weight of his musings by kind interrogation.

"So, then, these verses are thine own?"  The youth answered, -

"Sir, I must confess my fault."


"And who was the shepherd written here Second Shepherd, that had the
ill manners to interrupt thee?  Methinks, in helping thee to mount
the saddle, he pretty nigh tossed thee over, {53a} with his jerks
and quirks."

Without waiting for any answer, his worship continued his

"But do you woolstaplers call yourselves by the style and title of


"Verily, sir, do we; and I trust by right.  The last owner of any
place is called the master more properly than the dead and gone who
once held it.  If that be true (and who doubts it?) we, who have the
last of the sheep, namely, the wool and skin, and who buy all of all
the flock, surely may more properly be called shepherds than those
idle vagrants who tend them only for a season, selling a score or
purchasing a score, as may happen."

Here Sir Thomas did pause a while, and then said unto Master Silas,

"My own cogitations, and not this stripling, have induced me to
consider and to conclude a weighty matter for knightly scholarship.
I never could rightly understand before how Colin Clout, and sundry
others calling themselves shepherds, should argue like doctors in
law, physic, and divinity.

"Silas! they were woolstaplers; and they must have exercised their
wits in dealing with tithe-proctors and parsons, and moreover with
fellows of colleges from our two learned universities, who have
sundry lands held under them, as thou knowest, and take the small
tithes in kind.  Colin Clout, methinks, from his extensive learning,
might have acquired enough interest with the Queen's Highness to
change his name for the better, and, furthermore, her royal license
to carry armorial bearings, in no peril of taint from so unsavoury
an appellation."

Master Silas did interrupt this discourse, by saying, -

"May it please your worship, the constable is waiting."

Whereat Sir Thomas said, tartly, -

"And let him wait." {55a}

Then to me, -

"I hope we have done with verses, and are not to be befooled by the
lad's nonsense touching mermaids or worse creatures."

Then to Will, -

"William Shakspeare! we live in a Christian land, a land of great
toleration and forbearance.  Three score cartsful of fagots a year
are fully sufficient to clear our English air from every pestilence
of heresy and witchcraft.  It hath not alway been so, God wot!
Innocent and guilty took their turns before the fire, like geese and
capons.  The spit was never cold; the cook's sleeve was ever above
the elbow.  Countrymen came down from distant villages into towns
and cities, to see perverters whom they had never heard of, and to
learn the righteousness of hatred.  When heretics waxed fewer the
religious began to grumble that God, in losing his enemies, had also
lost his avengers.

"Do not thou, William Shakspeare, dig the hole for thy own stake.
If thou canst not make men wise, do not make them merry at thy cost.
We are not to be paganised any more.  Having struck from our
calendars, and unnailed from our chapels, many dozens of decent
saints, with as little compunction and remorse as unlucky lads throw
frog-spawn and tadpoles out of stagnant ditches, never let us think
of bringing back among us the daintier divinities they ousted.  All
these are the devil's imps, beautiful as they appear in what we
falsely call works of genius, which really and truly are the devil's
own,--statues more graceful than humanity, pictures more living than
life, eloquence that raised single cities above empires, poor men
above kings.  If these are not Satan's works, where are they?  I
will tell thee where they are likewise.  In holding vain converse
with false gods.  The utmost we can allow in propriety is to call a
knight Phoebus, and a dame Diana.  They are not meat for every

"We must now proceed straightforward with the business on which thou
comest before us.  What further sayest thou, witness?"


"His face was toward me; I saw it clearly.  The graver man followed
him into the punt, and said, roughly, 'We shall get hanged as sure
as thou pipest.'

"Whereunto he answered, -

'Naturally, as fall upon the ground
The leaves in winter and the girls in spring.'

And then began he again with the mermaid; whereat the graver man
clapped a hand before his mouth, and swore he should take her in
wedlock, to have and to hold, if he sang another stave.  'And thou
shalt be her pretty little bridemaid,' quoth he gaily to the graver
man, chucking him under the chin."


"And what did Carnaby say unto thee, or what didst thou say unto


"Carnaby said unto me, somewhat tauntingly, 'The big squat man, that
lay upon thy bread-basket like a nightmare, is a punt at last, it

"'Punt, and more too,' answered I.  'Tarry awhile, and thou shalt
see this punt (so let me call it) lead them into temptation, and
swamp them or carry them to the gallows; I would not stay else.'


"And what didst thou, Joseph Carnaby?"


"Finding him neither slack nor shy, I readily tarried.  We knelt
down opposite each other, and said our prayers; and he told me he
was now comfortable.  'The evil one,' said he, 'hath enough to mind
yonder:  he shall not hurt us.'

"Never was a sweeter night, had there been but some mild ale under
it, which any one would have sworn it was made for.  The milky way
looked like a long drift of hail-stones on a sunny ridge."


"Hast thou done describing?"


"Yea, an please your worship."


"God's blessing be upon thee, honest Carnaby!  I feared a moon-fall.
In our days nobody can think about a plum-pudding but the moon comes
down upon it.  I warrant ye this lad here hath as many moons in his
poems as the Saracens had in their banners."


"I have not hatched mine yet, sir.  Whenever I do I trust it will be
worth taking to market."


"I said all I know of the stars; but Master Euseby can run over half
a score and upward, here and there.  'Am I right, or wrong?' cried
he, spreading on the back of my hand all his fingers, stiff as
antlers and cold as icicles.  'Look up, Joseph! Joseph! there is no
Lucifer in the firmament!'  I myself did feel queerish and qualmy
upon hearing that a star was missing, being no master of gainsaying
it; and I abased my eyes, and entreated of Euseby to do in like
manner.  And in this posture did we both of us remain; and the
missing star did not disquiet me; and all the others seemed as if
they knew us and would not tell of us; and there was peace and
pleasantness over sky and earth.  And I said to my companion, -

"'How quiet now, good Master Euseby, are all God's creatures in this
meadow, because they never pry into such high matters, but breathe
sweetly among the pig-nuts.  The only things we hear or see stirring
are the glow-worms and dormice, as though they were sent for our
edification, teaching us to rest contented with our own little
light, and to come out and seek our sustenance where none molest or
thwart us'"


"Ye would have it thus, no doubt, when your pockets and pouches are
full of gins and nooses."


"A bridle upon thy dragon's tongue!  And do thou, Master Joseph,
quit the dormice and glow-worms, and tell us whither did the rogues


"I wot not after they had crossed the river they were soon out of
sight and hearing."


"Went they toward Charlecote?"


"Their first steps were thitherward."


"Did they come back unto the punt?"


"They went down the stream in it, and crossed the Avon some
fourscore yards below where we were standing.  They came back in it,
and moored it to the sedges in which it had stood before."


"How long were they absent?"


"Within an hour, or thereabout, all the three men returned.  Will
Shakspeare and another were sitting in the middle, the third punted.

"'Remember now, gentles!' quoth William Shakspeare, 'the road we
have taken is henceforward a footpath for ever, according to law.'

"'How so?' asked the punter, turning toward him,

"'Forasmuch as a corpse hath passed along it,' answered he.

"Whereupon both Euseby and myself did forthwith fall upon our faces,
commending our souls unto the Lord."


"It was then really the dead body that quivered so fearfully upon
the water, covering all the punt!  Christ, deliver us!  I hope the
keeper they murdered was not Jeremiah.  His wife and four children
would be very chargeable, and the man was by no means amiss.
Proceed! what further?"

"On reaching the bank, 'I never sat pleasanter in my lifetime,' said
William Shakspeare, 'than upon this carcass.'"


"Lord have mercy upon us!  Thou upon a carcass, at thy years!"

And the knight drew back his chair half an ell farther from the
table, and his lips quivered at the thought of such inhumanity.

"And what said he more? and what did he?" asked the knight.


"He patted it smartly, and said, 'Lug it out; break it.'"


"These four poor children! who shall feed them?"


"Sir! in God's name have you forgotten that Jeremiah is gone to
Nuneaton to see his father, and that the murdered man is the buck?"


"They killed the buck likewise.  But what, ye cowardly varlets! have
ye been deceiving me all this time?  And thou, youngster! couldst
thou say nothing to clear up the case?  Thou shalt smart for it.
Methought I had lost by a violent death the best servant ever man
had--righteous, if there be no blame in saying it, as the prophet
whose name he beareth, and brave as the lion of Judah."


"Sir, if these men could deceive your worship for a moment, they
might deceive me for ever.  I could not guess what their story aimed
at, except my ruin.  I am inclined to lean for once toward the
opinion of Master Silas, and to believe it was really the stolen
buck on which this William (if indeed there is any truth at all in
the story) was sitting."


"What more hast thou for me that is not enigma or parable?"


"I did not see the carcass, man's or beast's, may it please your
worship, and I have recited and can recite that only which I saw and
heard.  After the words of lugging out and breaking it, knives were
drawn accordingly.  It was no time to loiter or linger.  We crope
back under the shadow of the alders and hazels on the high bank that
bordereth Mickle Meadow, and, making straight for the public road,
hastened homeward."


"Hearing this deposition, dost thou affirm the like upon thy oath,
Master Euseby Treen, or dost thou vary in aught essential?"


"Upon my oath I do depose and affirm the like, and truly the
identical same; and I will never more vary upon aught essential."


"I do now further demand of thee whether thou knowest anything more
appertaining unto this business."


"Ay, verily; that your worship may never hold me for timorsome and
superstitious, I do furthermore add that some other than deer-
stealers was abroad.  In sign whereof, although it was the dryest
and clearest night of the season, my jerkin was damp inside and
outside when I reached my house-door."


"I warrant thee, Euseby, the damp began not at the outside.  A word
in thy ear--Lucifer was thy tapster, I trow."


"Irreverent swine! hast no awe nor shame.  Thou hast aggravated thy
offence, William Shakspeare, by thy foul-mouthedness."


"I must remind your worship that he not only has committed this
iniquity afore, but hath pawed the puddle he made, and relapsed into
it after due caution and reproof.  God forbid that what he spake
against me, out of the gall of his proud stomach, should move me.  I
defy him, a low, ignorant wretch, a rogue and vagabond, a thief and
cut-throat, a -- {66a} monger and mutton-eater."


"Your worship doth hear the learned clerk's testimony in my behalf.
'Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings'--"


"Silas, the youth has failings--a madcap; but he is pious."


"Alas, no, sir!  Would I were!  But Sir Silas, like the prophet,
came to curse, and was forced to bless me, even me, a sinner, a


"Thou urgedst him.  He beareth no ill-will toward thee.  Thou
knewedst, I suspect, that the blackness in his mouth proceeded from
a natural cause."


"The Lord is merciful!  I was brought hither in jeopardy; I shall
return in joy.  Whether my innocence be declared or otherwise, my
piety and knowledge will be forwarded and increased; for your
worship will condescend, even from the judgment-seat, to enlighten
the ignorant where a soul shall be saved or lost.  And I, even I,
may trespass a moment on your courtesy.  I quail at the words
NATURAL CAUSE.  Be there any such?"


"Youth!  I never thought thee so staid.  Thou hast, for these many
months, been represented unto me as one dissolute and light, much
given unto mummeries and mysteries, wakes and carousals, cudgel-
fighters and mountebanks and wanton women.  They do also represent
of thee--I hope it may be without foundation--that thou enactest the
parts, not simply of foresters and fairies, girls in the green-
sickness and friars, lawyers and outlaws, but likewise, having small
reverence for station, of kings and queens, knights and privy-
counsellors, in all their glory.  It hath been whispered, moreover,
and the testimony of these two witnesses doth appear in some measure
to countenance and confirm it, that thou hast at divers times this
last summer been seen and heard alone, inasmuch as human eye may
discover, on the narrow slip of greensward between the Avon and the
chancel, distorting thy body like one possessed, and uttering
strange language, like unto incantation.  This, however, cometh not
before me.  Take heed! take heed unto thy ways; there are graver
things in law even than homicide and deer-stealing."


"And strong against him.  Folks have been consumed at the stake for
pettier felonies and upon weaker evidence."


"To that anon."

William Shakspeare did hold down his head, answering nought.  And
Sir Thomas spake again unto him, as one mild and fatherly, if so be
that such a word may be spoken of a knight and parliament-man.  And
these are the words he spake:-

"Reason and ruminate with thyself now.  To pass over and pretermit
the danger of representing the actions of the others, and mainly of
lawyers and churchmen, the former of whom do pardon no offences, and
the latter those only against God, having no warrant for more, canst
thou believe it innocent to counterfeit kings and queens?  Supposest
thou that if the impression of their faces on a farthing be
felonious and rope-worthy, the imitation of head and body, voice and
bearing, plume and strut, crown and mantle, and everything else that
maketh them royal and glorious, be aught less?  Perpend, young man,
perpend!  Consider, who among inferior mortals shall imitate them
becomingly?  Dreamest thou they talk and act like checkmen at
Banbury fair?  How can thy shallow brain suffice for their vast
conceptions?  How darest thou say, as they do:  'Hang this fellow;
quarter that; flay; mutilate; stab; shoot; press; hook; torture;
burn alive'?  These are royalties.  Who appointed thee to such
office?  The Holy Ghost?  He alone can confer it; but when wert thou

William was so zealous in storing up these verities that he looked
as though he were unconscious that the pouring-out was over.  He
started, which he had not done before, at the voice of Master Silas;
but soon recovered his complacency, and smiled with much serenity at
being called low-minded varlet.

"Low-minded varlet!" cried Master Silas, most contemptuously, "dost
thou imagine that king calleth king, like thy chums, FILCHER and
FIBBER, WHIRLIGIG and NINCOMPOOP?  Instead of this low vulgarity and
sordid idleness, ending in nothing, they throw at one another such
fellows as thee by the thousand, and when they have cleared the
land, render God thanks and make peace."

Willy did now sigh out his ignorance of these matters; and he
sighed, mayhap, too, at the recollection of the peril he had run
into, and had ne'er a word on the nail. {70a}

The bowels of Sir Thomas waxed tenderer and tenderer; and he opened
his lips in this fashion:-

"Stripling!  I would now communicate unto thee, on finding thee
docile and assentaneous, the instruction thou needest on the
signification of the words NATURAL CAUSE, if thy duty toward thy
neighbour had been first instilled into thee."

Whereupon Master Silas did interpose, for the dinner hour was
drawing nigh.

"We cannot do all at once," quoth he.  "Coming out of order, it
might harm him.  Malt before hops, the world over, or the beer

But Sir Thomas was not to be pricked out of his form even by so
shrewd a pricker; and like unto one who heareth not, he continued to
look most graciously on the homely vessel that stood ready to
receive his wisdom.

"Thy mind," said he, "being unprepared for higher cogitations, and
the groundwork and religious duty not being well rammer-beaten and
flinted, I do pass over this supererogatory point, and inform thee
rather, that bucks and swans and herons have something in their very
names announcing them of knightly appurtenance; and (God forfend
that evil do ensue therefrom!) that a goose on the common, or a
game-cock on the loft of a cottager or villager, may be seized,
bagged, and abducted, with far less offence to the laws.  In a buck
there is something so gainly and so grand, he treadeth the earth
with such ease and such agility, he abstaineth from all other
animals with such punctilious avoidance, one would imagine God
created him when he created knighthood.  In the swan there is such
purity, such coldness is there in the element he inhabiteth, such
solitude of station, that verily he doth remind me of the Virgin
Queen herself.  Of the heron I have less to say, not having him
about me; but I never heard his lordly croak without the conceit
that it resembled a chancellor's or a primate's.

"I do perceive, William Shakspeare, thy compunction and contrition."


"I was thinking, may it please your worship, of the game-cock and
the goose, having but small notion of herons.  This doctrine of
abduction, please your worship, hath been alway inculcated by the
soundest of our judges.  Would they had spoken on other points with
the same clearness.  How many unfortunates might thereby have been
saved from crossing the Cordilleras!" {72a}


"Ay, ay! they have been fain to fly the country at last, thither or

And then did Sir Thomas call unto him Master Silas, and say, -

"Walk we into the bay-window.  And thou mayest come, Ephraim."

And when we were there together, I, Master Silas, and his worship,
did his worship say unto the chaplain, but oftener looking toward
me, -

"I am not ashamed to avouch that it goeth against me to hang this
young fellow, richly as the offence in its own nature doth deserve
it, he talketh so reasonably; not indeed so reasonably, but so like
unto what a reasonable man may listen to and reflect on.  There is
so much, too, of compassion for others in hard cases, and something
so very near in semblance to innocence itself in that airy swing of
lightheartedness about him.  I cannot fix my eyes (as one would say)
on the shifting and sudden SHADE-AND-SHINE, which cometh back to me,
do what I will, and mazes me in a manner, and blinks me."

At this juncture I was ready to fall upon the ground before his
worship, and clasp his knees for Willy's pardon.  But he had so many
points about him, that I feared to discompose 'em, and thus make bad
worse.  Besides which, Master Silas left me but scanty space for
good resolutions, crying, -

"He may be committed, to save time.  Afterward he may be sentenced
to death, or he may not."


"'T were shame upon me were he not; 't were indication that I acted
unadvisedly in the commitment."


"The penalty of the law may be commuted, if expedient, on
application to the fountain of mercy in London."


"Maybe, Silas, those shall be standing round the fount of mercy who
play in idleness and wantonness with its waters, and let them not
flow widely, nor take their natural course.  Dutiful gallants may
encompass it, and it may linger among the flowers they throw into
it, and never reach the parched lip on the wayside.

"These are homely thoughts--thoughts from a-field, thoughts for the
study and housekeeper's room.  But whenever I have given utterance
unto them, as my heart hath often prompted me with beatings at the
breast, my hearers seemed to bear toward me more true and kindly
affection than my richest fancies and choicest phraseologies could

"'T were convenient to bethink thee, should any other great man's
park have been robbed this season, no judge upon the bench will back
my recommendation for mercy.  And, indeed, how could I expect it?
Things may soon be brought to such a pass that their lordships shall
scarcely find three haunches each upon the circuit."

"Well, Sir!" quoth Master Silas, "you have a right to go on in your
own way.  Make him only give up the girl."

Here Sir Thomas reddened with righteous indignation, and answered, -

"I cannot think it! such a stripling! poor, penniless; it must be
some one else."  And now Master Silas did redden in his turn, redder
than Sir Thomas, and first asked me, -

"What the devil do you stare at?"  And then asked his worship, -

"Who should it be if not the rogue?" and his lips turned as blue as
a blue-bell.  Then Sir Thomas left the window, and again took his
chair, and having stood so long on his legs, groaned upon it to ease
him.  His worship scowled with all his might, and looked exceedingly
wroth and vengeful at the culprit, and said unto him, -

"Harkye, knave!  I have been conferring with my learned clerk and
chaplain in what manner I may, with the least severity, rid the
county (which thou disgracest) of thee."

William Shakspeare raised up his eyes, modestly and fearfully, and
said slowly these few words, which, had they been a better and
nobler man's, would deserve to be written in letters of gold.  I,
not having that art nor substance, do therefore write them in my
largest and roundest character, and do leave space about 'em,
according to their rank and dignity

"Worshipful sir!"


"Thou discoursest well," said Sir Thomas, "but others can discourse
well likewise.  Thou shalt avoid; I am resolute."


"I supplicate your honour to impart unto me, in your wisdom, the
mode and means whereby I may surcease to be disgraceful to the


"I am not bloody-minded.

"First, thou shalt have the fairest and fullest examination.  Much
hath been deposed against thee; something may come forth for thy
advantage.  I will not thy death; thou shalt not die.

"The laws have loopholes, like castles, both to shoot from and to
let folks down."


"That pointed ear would look the better for paring, and that high
forehead can hold many letters."

Whereupon did William, poor lad! turn deadly pale, but spake not.

Sir Thomas then abated a whit of his severity, and said, staidly, -

"Testimony doth appear plain and positive against thee; nevertheless
am I minded and prompted to aid thee myself, in disclosing and
unfolding what thou couldst not of thine own wits, in furtherance of
thine own defence.

"One witness is persuaded and assured of the evil spirit having been
abroad, and the punt appeared unto him diversely from what it
appeared unto the other."


"If the evil spirit produced one appearance, he might have produced
all, with deference to the graver judgment of your worship.

"If what seemed PUNT was DEVIL, what seemed BUCK might have been
DEVIL too; nay, more easily, the horns being forthcoming.

"Thieves and reprobates do resemble him more nearly still; and it
would be hard if he could not make free with their bodies, when he
has their souls already."


"But, then, those voices! and thou thyself, Will Shakspeare!"


"O might I kiss the hand of my deliverer, whose clear-sightedness
throweth such manifest and plenary light upon my innocence!"


"How so?  What light, in God's name, have I thrown upon it as yet?"


"Oh! those voices! those faeries and spirits! whence came they?
None can deal with 'em but the devil, the parson, and witches.  And
does not the devil oftentimes take the very form, features, and
habiliments of knights, and bishops, and other good men, to lead
them into temptation and destroy them? or to injure their good name,
in failure of seduction?

"He is sure of the wicked; he lets them go their ways out of hand.

"I think your worship once delivered some such observation, in more
courtly guise, which I would not presume to ape.  If it was not your
worship, it was our glorious lady the queen, or the wise Master
Walsingham, or the great Lord Cecil.  I may have marred and broken
it, as sluts do a pancake, in the turning."


"Why! ay, indeed, I had occasion once to remark as much."


"So have I heard in many places; although I was not present when
Matthew Atterend fought about it for the honour of Kineton hundred."


"Fought about it!"


"As your honour recollects.  Not but on other occasions he would
have fought no less bravely for the queen."


"We must get thee through, were it only for thy memory,--the most
precious gift among the mental powers that Providence hath bestowed
upon us.  I had half forgotten the thing myself.  Thou mayest, in
time, take thy satchel for London, and aid good old Master

"We must clear thee, Will!  I am slow to surmise that there is blood
upon thy hands!"

His worship's choler had all gone down again; and he sat as cool and
comfortable as a man sitteth to be shaved.  Then called he on Euseby
Treen, and said, -

"Euseby Treen! tell us whether thou observedst anything unnoticed or
unsaid by the last witness."


"One thing only, sir!

"When they had passed the water an owlet hooted after them; and
methought, if they had any fear of God before their eyes they would
have turned back, he cried so lustily."


"Sir, I cannot forbear to take the owlet out of your mouth.  He
knocks them all on the head like so many mice.  Likely story!  One
fellow hears him cry lustily, the other doth not hear him at all!"


"Not hear him!  A body might have heard him at Barford or


"Why didst not name him?  Canst not answer me?"


"HE doubted whether punt were punt; I doubted whether owlet were
owlet, after Lucifer was away from the roll-call.

"We say, SPEAK THE TRUTH AND SHAME THE DEVIL; but shaming him is one
thing, your honour, and facing him another!  I have heard owlets,
but never owlet like him."


"The Lord be praised!  All, at last, a-running to my rescue.

"Owlet, indeed!  Your worship may have remembered in an ancient
book--indeed, what book is so ancient that your worship doth not
remember it?--a book printed by Doctor Faustus--"


"Before he dealt with the devil?"


"Not long before, it being the very book that made the devil think
it worth his while to deal with him."


"What chapter thereof wouldst thou recall unto my recollection?"


"That concerning owls, with the grim print afore it.

"Doctor Faustus, the wise doctor, who knew other than owls and
owlets, knew the tempter in that form.  Faustus was not your man for
fancies and figments; and he tells us that, to his certain
knowledge, it was verily an owl's face that whispered so much
mischief in the ear of our first parent.

"One plainly sees it, quoth Doctor Faustus, under that gravity which
in human life we call dignity, but of which we read nothing in the
Gospel.  We despise the hangman, we detest the hanged; and yet,
saith Duns Scotus, could we turn aside the heavy curtain, or stand
high enough a-tiptoe to peep through its chinks and crevices, we
should perhaps find these two characters to stand justly among the
most innocent in the drama.  He who blinketh the eyes of the poor
wretch about to die doeth it out of mercy; those who preceded him,
bidding him in the garb of justice to shed the blood of his fellow-
man, had less or none.  So they hedge well their own grounds, what
care they?  For this do they catch at stakes and thorns, at quick
and rotten--"

Here Master Silas interrupted the discourse of the devil's own
doctor, delivered and printed by him before he was the devil's, to
which his worship had listened very attentively and delightedly.
But Master Silas could keep his temper no longer, and cried,
fiercely, "Seditious sermonizer! hold thy peace, or thou shalt
answer for 't before convocation."


"Silas! thou dost not approve, then, the doctrine of this Doctor


"Heretical Rabbi!"


"IF TWO OF A TRADE CAN NEVER AGREE, yet surely two of a name may."


"Who dares call me heretical? who dares call me rabbi? who dares
call me Scotus?  Spider! spider! yea, thou hast one corner left; I
espy thee, and my broom shall reach thee yet."


"I perceive that Master Silas doth verily believe I have been guilty
of suborning the witnesses, at least the last, the best man (if any
difference) of the two.  No, sir, no.  If my family and friends have
united their wits and money for this purpose, be the crime of
perverted justice on their heads!  They injure whom they intended to
serve.  Improvident men!--if the young may speak thus of the
elderly; could they imagine to themselves that your worship was to
be hoodwinked and led astray?"


"No man shall ever dare to hoodwink me, to lead me astray,--no, nor
lead me anywise.  Powerful defence!  Heyday!  Sit quiet, Master
Treen!--Euseby Treen! dost hear me?  Clench thy fist again, sirrah!
and I clap thee in the stocks.

"Joseph Carnaby! do not scratch thy breast nor thy pate before me."

Now Joseph had not only done that in his wrath, but had unbuckled
his leathern garter, fit instrument for strife and blood, and
peradventure would have smitten, had not the knight, with
magisterial authority, interposed.

His worship said unto him, gravely, -

"Joseph Carnaby!  Joseph Carnaby! hast thou never read the words

"Subornation! your worship!" cried Master Joe.  "The fellow hath
ne'er a shilling in leather or till, and many must go to suborn one
like me."

"I do believe it of thee," said Sir Thomas; "but patience, man!
patience! he rather tended toward exculpating thee.  Ye have far to
walk for dinner; ye may depart."

They went accordingly.

Then did Sir Thomas say, "These are hot men, Silas!"

And Master Silas did reply unto him, -

"There are brands that would set fire to the bulrushes in the mill-
pool.  I know these twain for quiet folks, having coursed with them
over Wincott.

Sir Thomas then said unto William, "It behooveth thee to stand clear
of yon Joseph, unless when thou mayest call to thy aid the Matthew
Atterend thou speakest of.  He did then fight valiantly, eh?"


"His cause fought valiantly; his fist but seconded it.  He won,--
proving the golden words to be no property of our lady's, although
her Highness hath never disclaimed them."


"What art thou saying?"


"So I heard from a preacher at Oxford, who had preached at Easter in
the chapel-royal of Westminster."


"Thou! why, how could that happen?  Oxford! chapel-royal!"


"And to whom I said (your worship will forgive my forwardness), 'I
SIR THOMAS LUCY WHO SPAKE THAT.'  And I vow I said it without any
hope or belief that he would invite me, as he did, to dine with him


"There be nigh upon three miles betwixt this house and Stratford


"I dropt a mile in my pride and exultation, God forgive me!  I would
not conceal my fault."


"Wonderful! that a preacher so learned as to preach before majesty
in the chapel-royal should not have caught thee tripping over a
whole lawful mile,--a good third of the distance between my house
and the cross-roads.  This is incomprehensible in a scholar."


"God willed that he should become my teacher, and in the bowels of
his mercy hid my shame."


"How camest thou into the converse of such eminent and ghostly men?"


"How, indeed?--everything against me!"

He sighed, and entered into a long discourse, which Master Silas
would at sundry times have interrupted, but that Sir Thomas more
than once frowned upon him, even as he had frowned heretofore on
young Will, who thus began and continued his narration:-

"Hearing the preacher preach at Saint Mary's (for being about my
father's business on Saturday, and not choosing to be a-horseback on
Sundays, albeit time-pressed, I footed it to Oxford for my
edification on the Lord's day, leaving the sorrel with Master Hal
Webster of the Tankard and Unicorn)--hearing him preach, as I was
saying, before the University in St. Mary's Church, and hearing him
use moreover the very words that Matthew fought about, I was
impatient (God forgive me!) for the end and consummation, and I
thought I never should hear those precious words that ease every
man's heart, 'NOW TO CONCLUDE.'  However, come they did.  I hurried
out among the foremost, and thought the congratulations of the other
doctors and dons would last for ever.  He walked sharply off, and
few cared to keep his pace,--for they are lusty men mostly; and
spiteful bad women had breathed {89a} in the faces of some among
them, or the gowns had got between their legs.  For my part, I was
not to be balked; so, tripping on aside him, I looked in his face
askance.  Whether he misgave or how, he turned his eyes downward.
No matter--have him I would.  I licked my lips and smacked them loud
and smart, and scarcely venturing to nod, I gave my head such a sort
of motion as dace and roach give an angler's quill when they begin
to bite.  And this fairly hooked him."

"'Young gentleman!' said he, 'where is your gown?'

"'Reverend sir!' said I, 'I am unworthy to wear one.'

"'A proper youth, nevertheless, and mightily well-spoken!' he was
pleased to say.

"'Your reverence hath given me heart, which failed me,' was my
reply.  'Ah! your reverence! those words about the devil were spicy
words; but, under favour, I do know the brook-side they sprang and
flowered by.  'T is just where it runs into Avon; 't is called

"'Right!' quoth he, putting his hand gently on my shoulder; 'but if
I had thought it needful to say so in my sermon, I should have
affronted the seniors of the University, since many claim them, and
some peradventure would fain transpose them into higher places, and
giving up all right and title to them, would accept in lieu thereof
the poor recompense of a mitre.'

"I wished (unworthy wish for a Sunday!) I had Matthew Atterend in
the midst of them.  He would have given them skulls mitre-fashioned,
if mitres are cloven now as we see them on ancient monuments.  Matt
is your milliner for gentles, who think no more harm of purloining
rich saws in a mitre than lane-born boys do of embezzling hazel-nuts
in a woollen cap.  I did not venture to expound or suggest my
thoughts, but feeling my choler rise higher and higher, I craved
permission to make my obeisance and depart.

"'Where dost thou lodge, young man?' said the preacher.

"'At the public,' said I, 'where my father customarily lodgeth.
There, too, is a mitre of the old fashion, swinging on the sign-post
in the middle of the street.'

"'Respectable tavern enough!' quoth the reverend doctor; 'and worthy
men do turn in there, even quality,--Master Davenant, Master Powel,
Master Whorwood, aged and grave men.  But taverns are Satan's
chapels, and are always well attended on the Lord's day, to twit
him.  Hast thou no friend in such a city as Oxford?'

"'Only the landlady of the Mitre,' said I.

"'A comely woman,' quoth he, 'but too young for business by half.

"'Stay thou with me to-day, and fare frugally, but safely.

"'What may thy name be, and where is thy abode?'

"'William Shakspeare, of Stratford-upon-Avon, at your service, sir.'

"'And welcome,' said he; 'thy father ere now hath bought our college
wool.  A truly good man we ever found him; and I doubt not he hath
educated his son to follow him in his paths.  There is in the blood
of man, as in the blood of animals, that which giveth the temper and
disposition.  These require nurture and culture.  But what nurture
will turn flint-stones into garden mould? or what culture rear
cabbages in the quarries of Hedington Hill?  To be well born is the
greatest of all God's primary blessings, young man, and there are
many well born among the poor and needy.  Thou art not of the
indigent and destitute, who have great temptations; thou art not of
the wealthy and affluent, who have greater still.  God hath placed
thee, William Shakspeare, in that pleasant island, on one side
whereof are the sirens, on the other the harpies, but inhabiting the
coasts on the wider continent, and unable to make their talons felt,
or their voices heard by thee.  Unite with me in prayer and
thanksgiving for the blessings thus vouchsafed.  We must not close
the heart when the finger of God would touch it.  Enough, if thou

Sir Thomas said, "AMEN!"  Master Silas was mute for the moment, but
then quoth he, "I can say amen too in the proper place."

The knight of Charlecote, who appeared to have been much taken with
this conversation, then interrogated Willy:-

"What farther might have been thy discourse with the doctor? or did
he discourse at all at trencher-time?  Thou must have been very much
abashed to sit down at table with one who weareth a pure lambskin
across his shoulder, and moreover a pink hood."


"Faith! was I, your honour! and could neither utter nor gulp."


"These are good signs.  Thou hast not lost all grace."


"With the encouragement of Dr. Glaston--"


"And was it Dr. Glaston?"


"Said I not so?"


"The learnedst clerk in Christendom! a very Friar Bacon!  The Pope
offered a hundred marks in Latin to who should eviscerate or evirate
him,--poisons very potent, whereat the Italians are handy,--so
apostolic and desperate a doctor is Doctor Glaston! so acute in his
quiddities, and so resolute in his bearing!  He knows the dark arts,
but stands aloof from them.  Prithee, what were his words unto


"Manna, sir, manna! pure from the desert!"


"Ay, but what spake he? for most sermons are that, and likewise many
conversations after dinner."


"He spake of the various races and qualities of men, as before
stated; but chiefly on the elect and reprobate, and how to
distinguish and know them."


"Did he go so far?"


"He told me that by such discussion he should say enough to keep me
constantly out of evil company."


"See there! see there! and yet thou art come before me!--Can nothing
warn thee?"


"I dare not dissemble, nor feign, nor hold aught back, although it
be to my confusion.  As well may I speak at once the whole truth for
your worship could find it out if I abstained."


"Ay, that I should indeed, and shortly.  But, come now, I am sated
of thy follies and roguish tricks, and yearn after the sound
doctrine of that pious man.  What expounded the grave Glaston upon
signs and tokens whereby ye shall be known?"


"Wonderful things! things beyond belief!  'There be certain men,'
quoth he--"


"He began well.  This promises.  But why canst not thou go on?"


"'There be certain men, who, rubbing one corner of the eye, do see a
peacock's feather at the other, and even fire.  We know, William,
what that fire is, and whence it cometh.  Those wicked men, William,
all have their marks upon them, be it only a corn, or a wart, or a
mole, or a hairy ear, or a toe-nail turned inward.  Sufficient, and
more than sufficient!  He knoweth his own by less tokens.  There is
not one of them that doth not sweat at some secret sin committed, or
some inclination toward it unsnaffled.

"'Certain men are there, likewise, who venerate so little the
glorious works of the Creator that I myself have known them to
sneeze at the sun!  Sometimes it was against their will, and they
would gladly have checked it had they been able; but they were
forced to shew what they are.  In our carnal state we say, WHAT IS
ONE AGAINST NUMBERS?  In another we shall truly say, WHAT ARE

Sir Thomas did ejaculate, "AMEN!  AMEN!"  And then his lips moved
silently, piously, and quickly; and then said he, audibly and
loudly, -


After which he turned to young Willy, and said, anxiously, -

"Hast thou more, lad? give us it while the Lord strengtheneth."

"Sir," answered Willy, "although I thought it no trouble, on my
return to the Mitre, to write down every word I could remember, and
although few did then escape me, yet at this present I can bring to
mind but scanty sentences, and those so stray and out of order that
they would only prove my incapacity for sterling wisdom, and my
incontinence of spiritual treasure."


"Even that sentence hath a twang of the doctor in it.  Nothing is so
sweet as humility.  The mountains may descend, but the valleys
cannot rise.  Every man should know himself.  Come, repeat what thou
canst.  I would fain have three or four more heads."


"I know not whether I can give your worship more than one other.
Let me try.  It was when Doctor Glaston was discoursing on the
protection the wise and powerful should afford to the ignorant and

"'In the earlier ages of mankind, your Greek and Latin authors
inform you, there went forth sundry worthies, men of might, to
deliver, not wandering damsels, albeit for those likewise they had
stowage, but low-conditioned men, who fell under the displeasure of
the higher, and groaned in thraldom and captivity.  And these mighty
ones were believed to have done such services to poor humanity that
their memory grew greater than they, as shadows do than substances
at day-fall.  And the sons and grandsons of the delivered did laud
and magnify those glorious names; and some in gratitude, and some in
tribulation, did ascend the hills, which appeared unto them as
altars bestrown with flowers and herbage for heaven's acceptance.
And many did go far into the quiet groves, under lofty trees,
looking for whatever was mightiest and most protecting.  And in such
places did they cry aloud unto the mighty who had left them,

"'Vain men! but had they stayed there, not evil.  Out of gratitude,
purest gratitude, rose idolatry.  For the devil sees the fairest,
and soils it.

"'In these our days, methinks, whatever other sins we may fall into,
such idolatry is the least dangerous.  For neither on the one side
is there much disposition for gratitude, nor on the other much zeal
to deliver the innocent and oppressed.  Even this deliverance,
although a merit, and a high one, is not the highest.  Forgiveness
is beyond it.  Forgive, or ye shall not be forgiven.  This ye may do
every day; for if ye find not offences, ye feign them; and surely ye
may remove your own work, if ye may re-remove another's.  To rescue
requires more thought and wariness; learn, then, the easier lesson
first.  Afterward, when ye rescue any from another's violence, or
from his own (which oftentimes is more dangerous, as the enemies are
within not only the penetrals of his house but of his heart), bind
up his wounds before ye send him on his way.  Should ye at any time
overtake the erring, and resolve to deliver him up, I will tell you
whither to conduct him.  Conduct him to his Lord and Master, whose
household he hath left.  It is better to consign him to Christ his
Saviour than to man his murderer; it is better to bid him live than
to bid him die.  The one word our Teacher and Preserver said, the
other our enemy and destroyer.  Bring him back again, the stray, the
lost one bring him back, not with clubs and cudgels, not with
halberts and halters, but generously and gently, and with the
linking of the arm.  In this posture shall God above smile upon ye;
in this posture of yours he shall recognize again his beloved Son
upon earth.  Do ye likewise, and depart in peace.'"

William had ended, and there was silence in the hall for some time
after, when Sir Thomas said, -

"He spake unto somewhat mean persons, who may do it without
disparagement.  I look for authority, I look for doctrine, and find
none yet.  If he could not have drawn us out a thread or two from
the coat of an apostle, he might have given us a smack of Augustin,
or a sprig of Basil.  Our older sermons are headier than these,
Master Silas! our new beer is the sweeter and clammier, and wants
more spice.  The doctor hath seasoned his with pretty wit enough, to
do him justice, which in a sermon is never out of place; for if
there be the bane, there likewise is the antidote.

"What dost thou think about it, Master Silas?"


"1 would not give ten farthings for ten folios of such sermons."


"These words, Master Silas, will oftener be quoted than any others
of thine; but rarely (do I suspect) as applicable to Doctor Glaston.
I must stick unto his gown.  I must declare that, to my poor
knowledge, many have been raised to the bench of bishops for less
wisdom and worse than is contained in the few sentences I have been
commanded by authority to recite.  No disparagement to any body I
know, Master Silas, and multitudes bear witness, that thou above
most art a dead hand at a sermon."


"Touch my sermons, wilt dare?"


"Nay, Master Silas, be not angered; it is courage enough to hear


"Now, Silas, hold thy peace and rest contented.  He hath excused
himself unto thee, throwing in a compliment far above his station,
and not unworthy of Rome or Florence.  I did not think him so ready.
Our Warwickshire lads are fitter for football than courtesies; and,
sooth to say, not only the inferior."

His worship turned from Master Silas toward William, and said,
"Brave Willy, thou hast given us our bitters; we are ready now for
any thing solid.  What hast left?"


"Little or nothing, sir."


"Well, give us that little or nothing."

William Shakspeare was obedient to the commands of Sir Thomas, who
had spoken thus kindly unto him, and had deigned to cast at him from
his LORDLY DISH (as the Psalmist hath it) a fragment of


"Alas, sir! may I repeat it without offence, it not being doctrine
but admonition, and meant for me only?"

"Speak it the rather for that," quoth Sir Thomas.

Then did William give utterance to the words of the preacher, not
indeed in his sermon at St. Mary's, but after dinner.

"'Lust seizeth us in youth, ambition in midlife, avarice in old age;
but vanity and pride are the besetting sins that drive the angels
from our cradle, pamper us with luscious and most unwholesome food,
ride our first stick with us, mount our first horse with us, wake
with us in the morning, dream with us in the night, and never at any
time abandon us.  In this world, beginning with pride and vanity, we
are delivered over from tormentor to tormentor, until the worst
tormentor of all taketh absolute possession of us for ever, seizing
us at the mouth of the grave, enchaining us in his own dark dungeon,
standing at the door, and laughing at our cries.  But the Lord, out
of his infinite mercy, hath placed in the hand of every man the helm
to steer his course by, pointing it out with his finger, and giving
him strength as well as knowledge to pursue it.

"'William! William! there is in the moral straits a current from
right to wrong, but no re-flux from wrong to right; for which
destination we must hoist our sails aloft and ply our oars
incessantly, or night and the tempest will overtake us, and we shall
shriek out in vain from the billows, and irrecoverably sink.'"

"Amen!" cried Sir Thomas most devoutly, sustaining his voice long
and loud.

"Open that casement, good Silas! the day is sultry for the season of
the year; it approacheth unto noontide.  The room is close, and
those blue flies do make a strange hubbub."


"In troth do they, sir; they come from the kitchen, and do savour
woundily of roast goose!  And, methinks--"


"What bethinkest thou?"


"The fancy of a moment,--a light and vain one."


"Thou relievest me; speak it!"


"How could the creatures cast their coarse rank odour thus far?--
even into your presence!  A noble and spacious hall!  Charlecote, in
my mind, beats Warwick Castle, and challenges Kenilworth."


"The hall is well enough; I must say it is a noble hall,--a hall for
a queen to sit down in.  And I stuffed an arm-chair with horse-hair
on purpose, feathers over it, swan-down over them again, and covered
it with scarlet cloth of Bruges, five crowns the short ell.  But her
highness came not hither; she was taken short; she had a tongue in
her ear."


"Where all is spring, all is buzz and murmur."


"Quaint and solid as the best yew hedge.  I marvel at thee.  A
knight might have spoken it, under favour.  They stopped her at
Warwick--to see what? two old towers that don't match, {105a} and a
portcullis that (people say) opens only upon fast-days.  Charlecote
Hall, I could have told her sweet Highness, was built by those Lucys
who came over with Julius Caesar and William the Conqueror, with
cross and scallop-shell on breast and beaver."


Such were the very words; I wrote them down with two signs in the
margent,--one a mark of admiration, as thus (!), the other of
interrogation (so we call it) as thus (?).

"But, honest Willy, I would fain hear more," quoth he, "about the
learned Doctor Glaston.  He seemeth to be a man after God's own


"Ay is he!  Never doth he sit down to dinner but he readeth first a
chapter of the Revelation; and if he tasteth a pound of butter at
Carfax, he saith a grace long enough to bring an appetite for a
baked bull's {106a} --zle.  If this be not after God's own heart, I
know not what is."
*** Corrected and spell-checked to here--page 107 ***

"I would fain confer with him, but that Oxford lieth afar off,--a
matter of thirty miles, I hear.  I might, indeed, write unto him;
but our Warwickshire pens are mighty broad-nibbed, and there is a
something in this plaguy ink of ours sadly ropy--"

"I fear there is," quoth Willy.

"And I should scorn," continued his worship, "to write otherwise
than in a fine Italian character to the master of a college, near in
dignity to knighthood."


"Worshipful sir! is there no other way of communicating but by
person, or writing, or messages?"


"I will consider and devise.  At present I can think of none so

And now did the great clock over the gateway strike.  And Bill
Shakspeare did move his lips, even as Sir Thomas had moved his
erewhile in ejaculating.  And when he had wagged them twice or
thrice after the twelve strokes of the clock were over, again he
ejaculated with voice also, saying, -

"Mercy upon us! how the day wears!  Twelve strokes!  Might I retire,
please your worship, into the chapel for about three quarters of an
hour, and perform the service {108a} as ordained?"

Before Sir Thomas could give him leave or answer, did Sir Silas cry
aloud, -

"He would purloin the chalice, worth forty-eight shillings, and melt
it down in the twinkling of an eye, he is so crafty."

But the knight was more reasonable, and said, reprovingly, -

"There now, Silas! thou talkest widely, and verily in malice, if
there be any in thee."

"Try him," answered Master Silas; "I don't kneel where he does.
Could he have but his wicked will of me he would chop my legs off,
as he did the poor buck's."


"No, no, no; he hath neither guile nor revenge in him.  We may let
him have his way, now that he hath taken the right one."


"Popery! sheer popery! strong as harts-horn!  Your papists keep
these outlandish hours for their masses and mummery.  Surely we
might let God alone at twelve o'clock!  Have we no bowels?"


"Gracious sir!  I do not urge it; and the time is now past by some


"Art thou popishly inclined, William?"


"Sir, I am not popishly inclined; I am not inclined to pay tribute
of coin or understanding to those who rush forward with a pistol at
my breast, crying, 'STAND, OR YOU ARE A DEAD MAN.'  I have but one
guide in faith,--a powerful, an almighty one.  He will not suffer to
waste away and vanish the faith for which he died.  He hath chosen
in all countries pure hearts for its depositaries; and I would
rather take it from a friend and neighbour, intelligent and
righteous, and rejecting lucre, than from some foreigner educated in
the pride of cities or in the moroseness of monasteries, who sells
me what Christ gave me,--his own flesh and blood.

"I can repeat by heart what I read above a year agone, albeit I
cannot bring to mind the title of the book in which I read it.
These are the words, -

"'The most venal and sordid of all the superstitions that have swept
and darkened our globe may, indeed, like African locusts, have
consumed the green corn in very extensive regions, and may return
periodically to consume it; but the strong, unwearied labourer who
sowed it hath alway sown it in other places less exposed to such
devouring pestilences.  Those cunning men who formed to themselves
the gorgeous plan of universal dominion were aware that they had a
better chance of establishing it than brute ignorance or brute force
could supply, and that soldiers and their paymasters were subject to
other and powerfuller fears than the transitory ones of war and
invasion.  What they found in heaven they seized; what they wanted
they forged.

"'And so long as there is vice and ignorance in the world, so long
as fear is a passion, their dominion will prevail; but their
dominion is not, and never shall be, universal.  Can we wonder that
it is so general?  Can we wonder that anything is wanting to give it
authority and effect, when every learned, every prudent, every
powerful, every ambitious man in Europe, for above a thousand years,
united in the league to consolidate it?

"'The old dealers in the shambles, where Christ's body is exposed
for sale in convenient marketable slices, {111a} have not covered
with blood and filth the whole pavement.  Beautiful usages are
remaining still,--kindly affections, radiant hopes, and ardent

"'It is a comfortable thing to reflect, as they do, and as we may do
unblamably, that we are uplifting to our Guide and Maker the same
incense of the heart, and are uttering the very words, which our
dearest friends in all quarters of the earth, nay in heaven itself,
are offering to the throne of grace at the same moment.

"'Thus are we together through the immensity of space.  What are
these bodies?  Do they unite us?  No; they keep us apart and asunder
even while we touch.  Realms and oceans, worlds and ages, open
before two spirits bent on heaven.  What a choir surrounds us when
we resolve to live unitedly and harmoniously in Christian faith!'"


"Now, Silas, what sayest thou?"


"Ignorant fool!"


"Ignorant fools are bearable, Master Silas! your wise ones are the


"Prithee no bandying of loggerheads."


"Or else what mortal man shall say
Whose shins may suffer in the fray?"


"Thou reasonest aptly and timest well.  And surely, being now in so
rational and religious a frame of mind, thou couldst recall to
memory a section or head or two of the sermon holden at St. Mary's.
It would do thee and us as much good as LIGHTEN OUR DARKNESS, or
FORASMUCH AS IT HATH PLEASED; and somewhat less than three quarters
of an hour (maybe less than one quarter) sufficeth."


"Or he hangs without me.  I am for dinner in half the time."


"Silas!  Silas! he hangeth not with thee or without thee."


"He thinketh himself a clever fellow; but he (look ye) is the
cleverest that gets off."

"I hold quite the contrary," quoth Will Shakspeare, winking at
Master Silas from the comfort and encouragement he had just received
touching the hanging.

And Master Silas had his answer ready, and shewed that he was more
than a match for poor Willy in wit and poetry.

He answered thus:-

"If winks are wit,
Who wanteth it?

Thou hadst other bolts to kill bucks withal.  In wit, sirrah, thou
art a mere child."


"Little dogs are jealous of children, great ones fondle them."


"An that were written in the Apocrypha, in the very teeth of Bel and
the Dragon, it could not be truer.  I have witnessed it with my own
eyes over and over."


"He will take this for wit, likewise, now the arms of Lucy do seal


"Silas, they may stamp wit, they may further wit, they may send wit
into good company, but not make it."


"Behold my wall of defence!"


"An thou art for walls, I have one for thee from Oxford, pithy and
apposite, sound and solid, and trimmed up becomingly, as a collar of
brawn with a crown of rosemary, or a boar's head with a lemon in the


"Egad, Master Silas, those are your walls for lads to climb over, an
they were higher than Babel's."


"Have at thee!"

"Thou art a wall
To make the ball
   Rebound from.

"Thou hast a back
For beadle's crack
   To sound from, to sound from.

The foolishest dolts are the ground-plot of the most wit, as the
idlest rogues are of the most industry.  Even thou hast brought wit
down from Oxford.  And before a thief is hanged, parliament must
make laws, attorneys must engross them, printers stamp and publish
them, hawkers cry them, judges expound them, juries weigh and
measure them with offences, then executioners carry them into
effect.  The farmer hath already sown the hemp, the ropemaker hath
twisted it; sawyers saw the timber, carpenters tack together the
shell, grave-diggers delve the earth.  And all this truly for
fellows like unto thee."


"Whom a God came down from heaven to save."


"Silas! he hangeth not.  William, I must have the heads of the
sermon, six or seven of 'em; thou hast whetted my appetite keenly.
How! dost duck thy pate into thy hat? nay, nay, that is proper and
becoming at church; we need not such solemnity.  Repeat unto us the
setting forth at St. Mary's."

Whereupon did William Shakspeare entreat of Master Silas that he
would help him in his ghostly endeavours, by repeating what he
called the PRELIMINARY prayer; which prayer I find nowhere in our
ritual, and do suppose it to be one of those Latin supplications
used in our learned universities now or erewhile.

I am afeard it hath not the approbation of the strictly orthodox,
for inasmuch as Master Silas at such entreaty did close his teeth
against it, and with teeth thus closed did say, Athanasiuswise, "Go
and be damned!"

Bill was not disheartened, but said he hoped better, and began

"'My brethren!' said the preacher, 'or rather let me call you my
children, such is my age confronted with yours, for the most part,--
my children, then, and my brethren (for here are both), believe me,
killing is forbidden.'"


"This, not being delivered unto us from the pulpit by the preacher
himself, we may look into.  Sensible man! shrewd reasoner!  What a
stroke against deer-stealers! how full of truth and ruth!  Excellent


"The last part was the best."


"I always find it so.  The softest of the cheesecake is left in the
platter when the crust is eaten.  He kept the best bit for the last,
then?  He pushed it under the salt, eh?  He told thee--"


"Exactly so."


"What was it?"


"'Ye shall not kill.'


"How I did he run in a circle like a hare?  One of his mettle should
break cover and off across the country like a fox or hart."


"'And yet ye kill time when ye can, and are uneasy when ye cannot.'"

Whereupon did Sir Thomas say, aside unto himself, but within my
hearing, -

"Faith and troth! he must have had a head in at the window here one
day or other."


"'This sin cryeth unto the Lord.'


"He was wrong there.  It is not one of those that cry; mortal sins
cry.  Surely he could not have fallen into such an error! it must be
thine; thou misunderstoodest him."


"Mayhap, sir!  A great heaviness came over me; I was oppressed in
spirit, and did feel as one awakening from a dream."


"Godlier men than thou art do often feel the right hand of the Lord
upon their heads in like manner.  It followeth contrition, and
precedeth conversion.  Continue."


"'My brethren and children,' said the teacher, 'whenever ye want to
kill time call God to the chase, and bid the angels blow the horn;
and thus ye are sure to kill time to your heart's content.  And ye
may feast another day, and another after that--'"

Then said Master Silas unto me, concernedly,

"This is the mischief-fullest of all the devil's imps, to talk in
such wise at a quarter past twelve!"

But William went straight on, not hearing him,

"'--upon what ye shall, in such pursuit, have brought home with you.
Whereas, if ye go alone, or two or three together, nay, even if ye
go in thick and gallant company, and yet provide not that these be
with ye, my word for it, and a powerfuller word than mine, ye shall
return to your supper tired and jaded, and rest little when ye want
to rest most.'"

"Hast no other head of the Doctor's?" quoth Sir Thomas.

"Verily none," replied Willy, "of the morning's discourse, saving
the last words of it, which, with God's help, I shall always

"Give us them, give us them," said Sir Thomas.

"He wants doctrine; he wants authority; his are grains of millet,--
grains for unfledged doves; but they are sound, except the CRYING.

"Deliver unto us the last words; for the last of the preacher, as of
the hanged, are usually the best."

Then did William repeat the concluding words of the discourse, being

"'As years are running past us, let us throw something on them which
they cannot shake off in the dust and hurry of the world, but must
carry with them to that great year of all, whereunto the lesser of
this mortal life do tend and are subservient.'

Sir Thomas, after a pause, and after having bent his knee under the
table, as though there had been the church-cushion, said unto us, -

"Here he spake THROUGH A GLASS, DARKLY, as blessed Paul hath it."

Then turning toward Willy, -

"And nothing more?"

"Nothing but the GLORY," quoth Willy, "at which there is always such
a clatter of feet upon the floor, and creaking of benches, and
rustling of gowns, and bustle of bonnets, and justle of cushions,
and dust of mats, and treading of toes, and punching of elbows, from
the spitefuller, that one wishes to be fairly out of it, after the
scramble for THE PEACE OF GOD is at an end--"

Sir Thomas threw himself back upon his armchair, and exclaimed in
wonderment, "How!"


"--and in the midst of the service again, were it possible.  For
nothing is painfuller than to have the pail shaken off the head when
it is brim-full of the waters of life, and we are walking staidly
under it."


"Had the learned Doctor preached again in the evening, pursuing the
thread of his discourse, he might, peradventure, have made up the
deficiencies I find in him."


"He had not that opportunity."


"The more's the pity."


"The evening admonition, delivered by him unto the household--"


"What! and did he indeed shew wind enough for that?  Prithee out
with it, if thou didst put it into thy tablets."


"Alack, sir! there were so many Latin words, I fear me I should be
at fault in such attempt."


"Fear not; we can help thee out between us, were there a dozen or a


"Bating those latinities, I do verily think I could tie up again
most of the points in his doublet."


"At him then!  What was his bearing?"


"In dividing his matter, he spooned out and apportioned the commons
in his discourse, as best suited the quality, capacity, and
constitution of his hearers.  To those in priests' orders he
delivered a sort of catechism."


"He catechise grown men!  He catechise men in priests' orders!--
being no bishop, nor bishop's ordinary!"


"He did so; it may be at his peril."


"And what else? for catechisms are baby's pap."


"He did not catechise, but he admonished the richer gentlemen with
gold tassels for their top-knots."


"I thought as much.  It was no better in my time.  Admonitions fell
gently upon those gold tassels; and they ripened degrees as glass
and sunshine ripen cucumbers.  We priests, forsooth, are catechised!
The worst question to any gold tasseller is, 'HOW DO YOU DO?'  Old
Alma Mater coaxes and would be coaxed.  But let her look sharp, or
spectacles may be thrust upon her nose that shall make her eyes
water.  Aristotle could make out no royal road to wisdom; but this
old woman of ours will shew you one, an you tip her.

"Tilley valley! {124a} catechise priests, indeed!"


"Peradventure he did it discreetly.  Let us examine and judge him.
Repeat thou what he said unto them."


"'Many,' said he, 'are ingenuous, many are devout, some timidly,
some strenuously, but nearly all flinch, and rear, and kick, at the
slightest touch, or least inquisitive suspicion of an unsound part
in their doctrine.  And yet, my brethren, we ought rather to flinch
and feel sore at our own searching touch, our own serious
inquisition into ourselves.  Let us preachers, who are sufficiently
liberal in bestowing our advice upon others, inquire of ourselves
whether the exercise of spiritual authority may not be sometimes too
pleasant, tickling our breasts with a plume from Satan's wing, and
turning our heads with that inebriating poison which he hath been
seen to instil into the very chalice of our salvation.  Let us ask
ourselves in the closet whether, after we have humbled ourselves
before God in our prayers, we never rise beyond the due standard in
the pulpit; whether our zeal for the truth be never over-heated by
internal fires less holy; whether we never grow stiffly and sternly
pertinacious, at the very time when we are reproving the obstinacy
of others; and whether we have not frequently so acted as if we
believed that opposition were to be relaxed and borne away by self-
sufficiency and intolerance.  Believe me, the wisest of us have our
catechism to learn; and these, my dear friends, are not the only
questions contained in it.  No Christian can hate; no Christian can
malign.  Nevertheless, do we not often both hate and malign those
unhappy men who are insensible to God's mercies?  And I fear this
unchristian spirit swells darkly, with all its venom, in the marble
of our hearts, not because our brother is insensible to these
mercies, but because he is insensible to our faculty of persuasion,
turning a deaf ear unto our claim upon his obedience, or a blind or
sleepy eye upon the fountain of light, whereof we deem ourselves the
sacred reservoirs.  There is one more question at which ye will
tremble when ye ask it in the recesses of your souls; I do tremble
at it, yet must utter it.  Whether we do not more warmly and erectly
stand up for God's word because it came from our mouths, than
because it came from his?  Learned and ingenious men may indeed find
a solution and excuse for all these propositions; but the wise unto
salvation will cry, "Forgive me, O my God, if, called by thee to
walk in thy way, I have not swept this dust from the sanctuary!"'"


"All this, methinks, is for the behoof of clerks and ministers."


"He taught them what they who teach others should learn and
practise.  Then did he look toward the young gentlemen of large
fortune; and lastly his glances fell upon us poorer folk, whom he
instructed in the duty we owe to our superiors."


"Ay, there he had a host."


"In one part of his admonition he said, -

"'Young gentlemen! let not the highest of you who hear me this
evening be led into the delusion, for such it is, that the founder
of his family was ORIGINALLY a greater or a better man than the
lowest here.  He willed it, and became it.  He must have stood low;
he must have worked hard,--and with tools, moreover, of his own
invention and fashioning.  He waved and whistled off ten thousand
strong and importunate temptations; he dashed the dice-box from the
jewelled hand of Chance, the cup from Pleasure's, and trod under
foot the sorceries of each; he ascended steadily the precipices of
Danger, and looked down with intrepidity from the summit; he
overawed Arrogance with Sedateness; he seized by the horn and
overleaped low Violence; and he fairly swung Fortune round.

"'The very high cannot rise much higher; the very low may,--the
truly great must have done it.

"'This is not the doctrine, my friends, of the silkenly and lawnly
religious; it wears the coarse texture of the fisherman, and walks
uprightly and straightforward under it.  I am speaking now more
particularly to you among us upon whom God hath laid the
incumbrances of wealth, the sweets whereof bring teazing and
poisonous things about you, not easily sent away.  What now are your
pretensions under sacks of money? or your enjoyments under the shade
of genealogical trees?  Are they rational?  Are they real?  Do they
exist at all?  Strange inconsistency! to be proud of having as much
gold and silver laid upon you as a mule hath, and yet to carry it
less composedly!  The mule is not answerable for the conveyance and
discharge of his burden,--you are.  Stranger infatuation still! to
be prouder of an excellent thing done by another than by yourselves,
supposing any excellent thing to have actually been done; and, after
all, to be more elated on his cruelties than his kindnesses, by the
blood he hath spilt than by the benefits he had conferred; and to
acknowledge less obligation to a well-informed and well-intentioned
progenitor than to a lawless and ferocious barbarian.  Would stocks
and stumps, if they could utter words, utter such gross stupidity?
Would the apple boast of his crab origin, or the peach of his prune?
Hardly any man is ashamed of being inferior to his ancestors,
although it is the very thing at which the great should blush, if,
indeed, the great in general descended from the worthy.  I did
expect to see the day, and although I shall not see it, it must come
at last, when he shall be treated as a madman or an impostor who
dares to claim nobility or precedency and cannot shew his family
name in the history of his country.  Even he who can shew it, and
who cannot write his own under it in the same or as goodly
characters, must submit to the imputation of degeneracy, from which
the lowly and obscure are exempt.

"'He alone who maketh you wiser maketh you greater; and it is only
by such an implement that Almighty God himself effects it.  When he
taketh away a man's wisdom he taketh away his strength, his power
over others and over himself.  What help for him then?  He may sit
idly and swell his spleen, saying,--WHO IS THIS? WHO IS THAT? and at
the question's end the spirit of inquiry dies away in him.  It would
not have been so if, in happier hour, he had said within himself,
WHO AM I? WHAT AM I? and had prosecuted the search in good earnest.

"'When we ask who THIS man is, or who THAT man is, we do not expect
or hope for a plain answer; we should be disappointed at a direct,
or a rational, or a kind one.  We desire to hear that he was of low
origin, or had committed some crime, or been subjected to some
calamity.  Whoever he be, in general we disregard or despise him,
unless we discover that he possesseth by nature many qualities of
mind and body which he never brings into use, and many accessories
of situation and fortune which he brings into abuse every day.
According to the arithmetic in practice, he who makes the most
idlers and the most ingrates is the most worshipful.  But wiser ones
than the scorers in this school will tell you how riches and power
were bestowed by Providence that generosity and mercy should be
exercised; for, if every gift of the Almighty were distributed in
equal portions to every creature, less of such virtues would be
called into the field; consequently there would be less of
gratitude, less of submission, less of devotion, less of hope, and,
in the total, less of content.'"

Here he ceased, and Sir Thomas nodded, and said, -

"Reasonable enough! nay, almost too reasonable!"

"But where are the apostles?  Where are the disciples?  Where are
the saints?  Where is hell-fire?"

"Well! patience! we may come to it yet.  Go on, Will!"

With such encouragement before him, did Will Shakspeare take breath
and continue:-

"'We mortals are too much accustomed to behold our superiors in rank
and station as we behold the leaves in the forest.  While we stand
under these leaves, our protection and refuge from heat and labour,
we see only the rougher side of them, and the gloominess of the
branches on which they hang.  In the midst of their benefits we are
insensible to their utility and their beauty, and appear to be
ignorant that if they were placed less high above us we should
derive from them less advantage.'"


"Ay; envy of superiority made the angels kick and run restive."


"May it please your worship! with all my faults, I have ever borne
due submission and reverence toward my superiors."


"Very right! very scriptural!  But most folks do that.  Our duty is
not fulfilled unless we bear absolute veneration; unless we are
ready to lay down our lives and fortunes at the foot of the throne,
and every thing else at the foot of those who administer the laws
under virgin majesty."


"Honoured sir!  I am quite ready to lay down my life and fortune,
and all the rest of me, before that great virgin."


"Thy life and fortune, to wit!

"What are they worth?  A June cob-nut, maggot and all."


"Silas, we will not repudiate nor rebuff his Magdalen, that bringeth
a pot of ointment.  Rather let us teach and tutor than twit.  It is
a tractable and conducible youth, being in good company."


"Teach and tutor!  Hold hard, sir!  These base varlets ought to be
taught but two things:  to bow as beseemeth them to their betters,
and to hang perpendicular.  We have authority for it, that no man
can add an inch to his stature; but by aid of the sheriff I engage
to find a chap who shall add two or three to this whoreson's."


"Nay, nay, now, Silas! the lad's mother was always held to be an
honest woman."


"His mother may be an honest woman for me."


"No small privilege, by my faith! for any woman in the next parish
to thee, Master Silas!"


"There again! out comes the filthy runlet from the quagmire, that
but now lay so quiet with all its own in it."


"Until it was trodden on by the ass that could not leap over it.
These, I think, are the words of the fable."


"They are so."


"What fable?"


"Tush! don't press him too hard; he wants not wit, but learning."


"He wants a rope's-end; and a rope's-end is not enough for him,
unless we throw in the other."


"Peradventure he may be an instrument, a potter's clay, a type, a

"I have seen many young men, and none like unto him.  He is shallow
but clear; he is simple, but ingenuous."


"Drag the ford again, then.  In my mind he is as deep as the big
tankard; and a mouthful of rough burrage will be the beginning and
end of it."


"No fear of that.  Neither, if rightly reported by the youngster, is
there so much doctrine in the doctor as we expected.  He doth not
dwell upon the main; he is worldly; he is wise in his generation,--
he says things out of his own head.

"Silas, that can't hold!  We want props--fulcrums, I think you
called 'em to the farmers; or was it stimulums?"


"Both very good words."


"I should be mightily pleased to hear thee dispute with that great


"I hate disputations.  Saint Paul warns us against them.  If one
wants to be thirsty, the tail of a stockfish is as good for it as
the head of a logician.

"The doctor there, at Oxford, is in flesh and mettle; but let him be
sleek and gingered as he may, clap me in St. Mary's pulpit, cassock
me, lamb-skin me, give me pink for my colours, glove me to the
elbow, heel-piece me half an ell high, cushion me before and behind,
bring me a mug of mild ale and a rasher of bacon, only just to con
over the text withal; then allow me fair play, and as much of my own
way as he had, and the devil take the hindermost.  I am his man at
any time."


"I am fain to believe it.  Verily, I do think, Silas, thou hast as
much stuff in thee as most men.  Our beef and mutton at Charlecote
rear other than babes and sucklings.

"I like words taken, like thine, from black-letter books.  They look
stiff and sterling, and as though a man might dig about 'em for a
week, and never loosen the lightest.

"Thou hast alway at hand either saint or devil, as occasion needeth,
according to the quality of the sinner, and they never come uncalled
for.  Moreover, Master Silas, I have observed that thy hell-fire is
generally lighted up in the pulpit about the dog-days."

Then turned the worthy knight unto the youth, saying, -

"'T were well for thee, William Shakspeare, if the learned doctor
had kept thee longer in his house, and had shewn unto thee the
danger of idleness, which hath often led unto deer-stealing and
poetry.  In thee we already know the one, although the distemper
hath eaten but skin-deep for the present; and we have the testimony
of two burgesses on the other.  The pursuit of poetry, as likewise
of game, is unforbidden to persons of condition."


"Sir, that of game is the more likely to keep them in it."


"It is the more knightly of the two; but poetry hath also her
pursuers among us.  I myself, in my youth, had some experience that
way; and I am fain to blush at the reputation I obtained.  His
honour, my father, took me to London at the age of twenty; and,
sparing no expense in my education, gave fifty shillings to one
Monsieur Dubois to teach me fencing and poetry, in twenty lessons.
In vacant hours he taught us also the laws of honour, which are
different from ours.

"In France you are unpolite unless you solicit a judge or his wife
to favour your cause; and you inevitably lose it.  In France there
is no want of honour where there is no want of courage; you may lie,
but you must not hear that you lie.  I asked him what he thought
then of lying; and he replied, -

"'C'est selon.'

"'And suppose you should overhear the whisper?'

"'Ah, parbleu!  Cela m'irrite; cela me pousse au bout.'

"I was going on to remark that a real man of honour could less bear
to lie than to hear it; when he cried, at the words REAL MAN OF

"'Le voila, Monsieur! le voila!' and gave himself such a blow on the
breast as convinced me the French are a brave people.

"He told us that nothing but his honour was left him, but that it
supplied the place of all he had lost.  It was discovered some time
afterward that M. Dubois had been guilty of perjury, had been a spy,
and had lost nothing but a dozen or two of tin patty-pans,
hereditary in his family, his father having been a cook on his own

"William, it is well at thy time of life that thou shouldst know the
customs of far countries, particularly if it should be the will of
God to place thee in a company of players.  Of all nations in the
world, the French best understand the stage.  If thou shouldst ever
write for it, which God forbid, copy them very carefully.  Murders
on their stage are quite decorous and cleanly.  Few gentlemen and
ladies die by violence who would not have died by exhaustion.  'For
they rant and rave until their voice fails them, one after another;
and those who do not die of it die consumptive.  They cannot bear to
see cruelty; they would rather see any image than their own.'  These
are not my observations, but were made by Sir Everard Starkeye, who
likewise did remark to Monsieur Dubois, that 'cats, if you hold them
up to the looking-glass, will scratch you terribly; and that the
same fierce animal, as if proud of its cleanly coat and velvety paw,
doth carefully put aside what other animals of more estimation take
no trouble to conceal.'

"'Our people,' said Sir Everard, 'must see upon the stage what they
never could have imagined; so the best men in the world would
earnestly take a peep of hell through a chink, whereas the worser
would skulk away.'

"Do not thou be their caterer, William!  Avoid the writing of
comedies and tragedies.  To make people laugh is uncivil, and to
make people cry is unkind.  And what, after all, are these comedies
and these tragedies?  They are what, for the benefit of all future
generations, I have myself described them, -

'The whimsies of wantons and stories of dread,
That make the stout-hearted look under the bed.'

Furthermore, let me warn thee against the same on account of the
vast charges thou must stand at.  We Englishmen cannot find it in
our hearts to murder a man without much difficulty, hesitation, and
delay.  We have little or no invention for pains and penalties; it
is only our acutest lawyers who have wit enough to frame them.
Therefore it behooveth your tragedy-man to provide a rich assortment
of them, in order to strike the auditor with awe and wonder.  And a
tragedy-man, in our country, who cannot afford a fair dozen of
stabbed males, and a trifle under that mark of poisoned females, and
chains enow to moor a whole navy in dock, is but a scurvy fellow at
the best.  Thou wilt find trouble in purveying these necessaries;
and then must come the gim-cracks for the second course,--gods,
goddesses, fates, furies, battles, marriages, music, and the
maypole.  Hast thou within thee wherewithal?"

"Sir!" replied Billy, with great modesty, "I am most grateful for
these ripe fruits of your experience.  To admit delightful visions
into my own twilight chamber is not dangerous nor forbidden.
Believe me, sir, he who indulges in them will abstain from injuring
his neighbour; he will see no glory in peril, and no delight in

"The world shall never be troubled by any battles and marriages of
mine, and I desire no other music and no other maypole than have
lightened my heart at Stratford."

Sir Thomas, finding him well-conditioned and manageable, proceeded:-

"Although I have admonished thee of sundry and insurmountable
impediments, yet more are lying in the pathway.  We have no verse
for tragedy.  One in his hurry hath dropped rhyme, and walketh like
unto the man who wanteth the left-leg stocking.  Others can give us
rhyme indeed, but can hold no longer after the tenth or eleventh
syllable.  Now Sir Everard Starkeye, who is a pretty poet, did
confess to Monsieur Dubois the potency of the French tragic verse,
which thou never canst hope to bring over.

"'I wonder, Monsieur Dubois!' said Sir Everard, 'that your
countrymen should have thought it necessary to transport their heavy
artillery into Italy.  No Italian could stand a volley of your
heroic verses from the best and biggest pieces.  With these brought
into action, you never could have lost the battle of Pavia.'

"Now my friend Sir Everard is not quite so good a historian as he is
a poet; and Monsieur Dubois took advantage of him.

"'Pardon!  Monsieur Sir Everard!' said Monsieur Dubois, smiling at
my friend's slip, 'We did not lose the battle of Pavia.  We had the
misfortune to lose our king, who delivered himself up, as our kings
always do, for the good and glory of his country.'

"'How was this?' said Sir Everard, in surprise.

"'I will tell you, Monsieur Sir Everard!' said Monsieur Dubois.  'I
had it from my own father, who fought in the battle, and told my
mother, word for word.

"'The king seeing his household troops, being only one thousand
strong, surrounded by twelve regiments, the best Spanish troops,
amounting to eighteen thousand four hundred and forty-two, although
he doubted not of victory, yet thought he might lose many brave men
before the close of the day, and rode up instantly to King Charles,
and said, -

"'"My brother!  I am loath to lose so many of those brave men
yonder.  Whistle off your Spanish pointers, and I agree to ride home
with you."

"'And so he did.  But what did King Charles?  Abusing French
loyalty, he made our Francis his prisoner, would you believe it? and
treated him worse than ever badger was treated at the bottom of any
paltry stable-yard, putting upon his table beer and Rhenish wine and
wild boar.'

"I have digressed with thee, young man," continued the knight, much
to the improvement of my knowledge, I do reverentially confess, as
it was of the lad's.  "We will now," said he, "endeavour our best to
sober thee, finding that Doctor Glaston hath omitted it."

"Not entirely omitted it," said William, gratefully; "he did after
dinner all that could be done at such a time toward it.  The doctor
could, however, speak only of the Greeks and Romans, and certainly
what he said of them gave me but little encouragement."


"What said he?"


"He said, 'The Greeks conveyed all their wisdom into their theatre,-
-their stages were churches and parliament-houses; but what was
false prevailed over what was true.  They had their own wisdom, the
wisdom of the foolish.  Who is Sophocles, if compared to Doctor
Hammersley of Oriel? or Euripides, if compared to Doctor Prichard of
Jesus?  Without the Gospel, light is darkness; and with it, children
are giants.

"'William, I need not expatiate on Greek with thee, since thou
knowest it not, but some crumbs of Latin are picked up by the
callowest beaks.  The Romans had, as thou findest, and have still,
more taste for murder than morality, and, as they could not find
heroes among them, looked for gladiators.  Their only very high poet
employed his elevation and strength to dethrone and debase the
Deity.  They had several others, who polished their language and
pitched their instruments with admirable skill; several who glued
over their thin and flimsy gaberdines many bright feathers from the
widespread downs of Ionia, and the richly cultivated rocks of

"'Some of them have spoken from inspiration; for thou art not to
suppose that from the heathen were withheld all the manifestations
of the Lord.  We do agree at Oxford that the Pollio of Virgil is our
Saviour.  True, it is the dullest and poorest poem that a nation not
very poetical hath bequeathed unto us; and even the versification,
in which this master excelled, is wanting in fluency and sweetness.
I can only account for it from the weight of the subject.  Two
verses, which are fairly worth two hundred such poems, are from
another pagan; he was forced to sigh for the church without knowing
her.  He saith, -

"May I gaze upon thee when my latest hour is come!
May I hold thy hand when mine faileth me!"

This, if adumbrating the church, is the most beautiful thought that
ever issued from the heart of man; but if addressed to a wanton, as
some do opine, is filth from the sink, nauseating and insufferable.

"'William! that which moveth the heart most is the best poetry; it
comes nearest unto God, the source of all power.'"


"Yea; and he appeareth unto me to know more of poetry than of
divinity.  Those ancients have little flesh upon the body poetical,
and lack the savour that sufficeth.  The Song of Solomon drowns all
their voices:  they seem but whistlers and guitar-players compared
to a full-cheeked trumpeter; they standing under the eaves in some
dark lane, he upon a well-caparisoned stallion, tossing his mane and
all his ribbons to the sun.  I doubt the doctor spake too fondly of
the Greeks; they were giddy creatures.  William, I am loath to be
hard on them; but they please me not.  There are those now living
who could make them bite their nails to the quick, and turn green as
grass with envy."


"Sir, one of those Greeks, methinks, thrown into the pickle-pot,
would be a treasure to the housewife's young jerkins."


"Simpleton! simpleton! but thou valuest them justly.  Now attend.
If ever thou shouldst hear, at Oxford or London, the verses I am
about to repeat, prithee do not communicate them to that fiery
spirit Mat Atterend.  It might not be the battle of two hundreds,
but two counties; a sort of York and Lancaster war, whereof I would
wash my hands.  Listen!"

And now did Sir Thomas clear his voice, always high and sonorous,
and did repeat from the stores of his memory these rich and proud
verses, -

"'Chloe! mean men must ever make mean loves;
They deal in dog-roses, but I in cloves.
They are just scorch'd enough to blow their fingers;
I am a phoenix downright burnt to cinders.'"

At which noble conceits, so far above what poor Bill had ever
imagined, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and exclaimed, -

"The world itself must be reduced to that condition before such
glorious verses die!  CHLOE and CLOVE!  Why, sir! Chloe wants but a
V toward the tail to become the very thing!  Never tell me that such
matters can come about of themselves.  And how truly is it said that
we mean men deal in dog-roses.

"Sir, if it were permitted me to swear on that holy Bible, I would
swear I never until this day heard that dog-roses were our
provender; and yet did I, no longer ago than last summer, write, not
indeed upon a dog-rose, but upon a sweet-briar, what would only
serve to rinse the mouth withal after the clove."


"Repeat the same, youth.  We may haply give thee our counsel

Willy took heart, and lowering his voice, which hath much natural
mellowness, repeated these from memory:-

   "My briar that smelledst sweet
   When gentle spring's first heat
      Ran through thy quiet veins, -
   Thou that wouldst injure none,
   But wouldst be left alone, -
Alone thou leavest me, and nought of thine remains.

   "What! hath no poet's lyre
   O'er thee, sweet-breathing briar,
      Hung fondly, ill or well?
   And yet methinks with thee
   A poet's sympathy,
Whether in weal or woe, in life or death, might dwell.

   "Hard usage both must bear,
   Few hands your youth will rear,
      Few bosoms cherish you;
   Your tender prime must bleed
   Ere you are sweet, but freed
From life, you then are prized; thus prized are poets too."

Sir Thomas said, with kind encouragement, "He who beginneth so
discreetly with a dog-rose, may hope to encompass a damask-rose ere
he die."

Willy did now breathe freely.  The commendation of a knight and
magistrate worked powerfully within him; and Sir Thomas said
furthermore, -

"These short matters do not suit me.  Thou mightest have added some
moral about life and beauty,--poets never handle roses without one;
but thou art young, and mayest get into the train."

Willy made the best excuse he could; and no bad one it was, the
knight acknowledged; namely, that the sweet-briar was not really
dead, although left for dead.

"Then," said Sir Thomas, "as life and beauty would not serve thy
turn, thou mightest have had full enjoyment of the beggar, the
wayside, the thieves, and the good Samaritan,--enough to tapestry
the bridal chamber of an empress."

William bowed respectfully, and sighed.

"Ha! thou hast lost them, sure enough, and it may not be quite so
fair to smile at thy quandary," quoth Sir Thomas.

"I did my best the first time," said Willy, "and fell short the

"That, indeed, thou must have done," said Sir Thomas.  "It is a
grievous disappointment, in the midst of our lamentations for the
dead, to find ourselves balked.  I am curious to see how thou
couldst help thyself.  Don't be abashed; I am ready for even worse
than the last."

Bill hesitated, but obeyed:-

   "And art thou yet alive?
   And shall the happy hive
      Send out her youth to cull
   Thy sweets of leaf and flower,
   And spend the sunny hour
With thee, and thy faint heart with murmuring music lull?

   "Tell me what tender care,
   Tell me what pious prayer,
      Bade thee arise and live.
   The fondest-favoured bee
   Shall whisper nought to thee
More loving than the song my grateful muse shall give."

Sir Thomas looked somewhat less pleased at the conclusion of these
verses than at the conclusion of the former, and said, gravely, -

"Young man! methinks it is betimes that thou talkest of having a
muse to thyself; or even in common with others.  It is only great
poets who have muses; I mean to say who have the right to talk in
that fashion.  The French, I hear, Phoebus it and muse-me it right
and left; and boggle not to throw all nine, together with mother and
master, into the compass of a dozen lines or thereabout.  And your
Italian can hardly do without 'em in the multiplication-table.  We
Englishmen do let them in quietly, shut the door, and say nothing of
what passes.  I have read a whole book of comedies, and ne'er a muse
to help the lamest."


"Wonderful forbearance!  I marvel how the poet could get through."


"By God's help.  And I think we did as well without 'em; for it must
be an unabashable man that ever shook his sides in their company.
They lay heavy restraint both upon laughing and crying.  In the
great master Virgil of Rome, they tell me they come in to count the
ships, and having cast up the sum total, and proved it, make off
again.  Sure token of two things,--first, that he held 'em dog-
cheap; secondly, that he had made but little progress (for a Lombard
born) in book-keeping at double entry.

"He, and every other great genius, began with small subject-matters,
gnats and the like.  I myself, similar unto him, wrote upon fruit.
I would give thee some copies for thy copying, if I thought thou
wouldst use them temperately, and not render them common, as hath
befallen the poetry of some among the brightest geniuses.  I could
shew thee how to say new things, and how to time the same.  Before
my day, nearly all the flowers and fruits had been gathered by
WALL; roses went up to Solomon, apples to Adam, and so forth.

"Willy! my brave lad!  I was the first that ever handled a quince,
I'll be sworn.


"Chloe!  I would not have thee wince
That I unto thee send a quince.
I would not have thee say unto 't
BEGONE! and trample 't underfoot,
For, trust me, 't is no fulsome fruit.
It came not out of mine own garden,
But all the way from Henly in Arden, -
Of an uncommon fine old tree,
Belonging to John Asbury.
And if that of it thou shalt eat,
'Twill make thy breath e'en yet more sweet;
As a translation here doth shew,
The frontispiece is printed so.
But eat it with some wine and cake,
Or it may give the belly-ache. {153a}
This doth my worthy clerk indite,
I sign,

"Now, Willy, there is not one poet or lover in twenty who careth for
consequences.  Many hint to the lady what to do, few what not to do
although it would oftentimes, as in this case, go to one's heart to
see the upshot."

"Ah, sir," said Bill, in all humility, "I would make bold to put the
parings of that quince under my pillow, for sweet dreams and
insights, if Doctor Glaston had given me encouragement to continue
the pursuit of poetry.  Of a surety it would bless me with a bedful
of churches and crucifixions, duly adumbrated."

Whereat Sir Thomas, shaking his head, did inform him, -

"It was in the golden age of the world, as pagans call it, that
poets of condition sent fruits and flowers to their beloved, with
posies fairly penned.  We, in our days, have done the like.  But
manners of late are much corrupted on the one side, if not on both.

"Willy! it hath been whispered that there be those who would rather
have a piece of brocade or velvet for a stomacher than the
touchingest copy of verses, with a bleeding heart at the bottom."




"'T is even so!"


"They must surely be rotten fragments of the world before the
flood,--saved out of it by the devil."


"I am not of that mind.

"Their eyes, mayhap, fell upon some of the bravery cast ashore from
the Spanish Armada.  In ancienter days, a few pages of good poetry
outvalued a whole ell of the finest Genoa."


"When will such days return?"


"It is only within these few years that corruption and avarice have
made such ghastly strides.  They always did exist, but were gentler.

"My youth is waning, and has been nigh upon these seven years, I
being now in my forty-eighth."


"I have understood that the god of poetry is in the enjoyment of
eternal youth; I was ignorant that his sons were."


"No, child! we are hale and comely, but must go the way of all


"Must it, can it, be?"


"Time was, my smallest gifts were acceptable, as thus recorded:-

"From my fair hand, O will ye, will ye
Deign humbly to accept a gilly-
   Flower for thy bosom, sugared maid!

"Scarce had I said it ere she took it,
And in a twinkling, faith! had stuck it,
   Where e'en proud knighthood might have laid."

William was now quite unable to contain himself, and seemed utterly
to have forgotten the grievous charge against him; to such a pitch
did his joy o'erleap his jeopardy.

Master Silas in the meantime was much disquieted; and first did he
strip away all the white feather from every pen in the inkpot, and
then did he mend them, one and all, and then did he slit them with
his thumb-nail, and then did he pare and slash away at them again
and then did he cut off the tops, until at last he left upon them
neither nib nor plume, nor enough of the middle to serve as quill to
a virginal.  It went to my heart to see such a power of pens so
wasted; there could not be fewer than five.  Sir Thomas was less
wary than usual, being overjoyed.  For great poets do mightly affect
to have little poets under them; and little poets do forget
themselves in great company, as fiddlers do, who HAIL FELLOW WELL
MET even with lords.

Sir Thomas did not interrupt our Bill's wild gladness.  I never
thought so worshipful a personage could bear so much.  At last he
said unto the lad, -

"I do bethink me, if thou hearest much more of my poetry, and the
success attendant thereon, good Doctor Glaston would tear thy skirt
off ere he could drag thee back from the occupation."


"I fear me, for once, all his wisdom would sluice out in vain."


"It was reported to me that when our virgin queen's highness (her
Dear Dread's {157a} ear not being then poisoned) heard these verses,
she said before her courtiers, to the sore travail of some, and
heart's content of others, -

"'We need not envy our young cousin James of Scotland his ass's bite
of a thistle, having such flowers as these gillyflowers on the
chimney-stacks of Charlecote.'

"I could have told her highness that all this poetry, from beginning
to end, was real matter of fact, well and truly spoken by mine own
self.  I had only to harness the rhymes thereunto, at my leisure."


"None could ever doubt it.  Greeks and Trojans may fight for the
quince; neither shall have it

While a Warwickshire lad
Is on earth to be had,
With a wand to wag
On a trusty nag,
He shall keep the lists
With cudgel or fists.
And black shall be whose eye
Looks evil on Lucy."


"Nay, nay, nay! do not trespass too soon upon heroics.  Thou seest
thou canst not hold thy wind beyond eight lines.  What wouldst thou
do under the heavy mettle that should have wrought such wonders at
Pavia, if thou findest these petards so troublesome in discharging?
Surely, the good doctor, had he entered at large on the subject,
would have been very particular in urging this expostulation."


"Sir, to my mortification I must confess that I took to myself the
counsel he was giving to another; a young gentleman who, from his
pale face, his abstinence at table, his cough, his taciturnity, and
his gentleness, seemed already more than half poet.  To him did
Doctor Glaston urge, with all his zeal and judgment, many arguments
against the vocation; telling him that, even in college, he had few
applauders, being the first, and not the second or third, who always
are more fortunate; reminding him that he must solicit and obtain
much interest with men of rank and quality, before he could expect
their favour; and that without it the vein chilled, the nerve
relaxed, and the poet was left at next door to the bellman.  'In the
coldness of the world,' said he, 'in the absence of ready friends
and adherents, to light thee upstairs to the richly tapestried
chamber of the muses, thy spirits will abandon thee, thy heart will
sicken and swell within thee; overladen, thou wilt make, O
Ethelbert! a slow and painful progress, and ere the door open, sink.
Praise giveth weight unto the wanting, and happiness giveth
elasticity unto the heavy.  As the mightiest streams of the
unexplored world, America, run languidly in the night, {159a} and
await the sun on high to contend with him in strength and grandeur,
so doth genius halt and pause in the thraldom of outspread darkness,
and move onward with all his vigour then only when creative light
and jubilant warmth surround him.'

"Ethelbert coughed faintly; a tinge of red, the size of a rose-bud,
coloured the middle of his cheek; and yet he seemed not to be pained
by the reproof.  He looked fondly and affectionately at his teacher,
who thus proceeded:

"'My dear youth, do not carry the stone of Sisyphus on thy shoulder
to pave the way to disappointment.  If thou writest but indifferent
poetry none will envy thee, and some will praise thee; but nature,
in her malignity, hath denied unto thee a capacity for the enjoyment
of such praise.  In this she hath been kinder to most others than to
thee; we know wherein she hath been kinder to thee than to most
others.  If thou writest good poetry many will call it flat, many
will call it obscure, many will call it inharmonious; and some of
these will speak as they think; for, as in giving a feast to great
numbers, it is easier to possess the wine than to procure the cups,
so happens it in poetry; thou hast the beverage of thy own growth,
but canst not find the recipients.  What is simple and elegant to
thee and me, to many an honest man is flat and sterile; what to us
is an innocently sly allusion, to as worthy a one as either of us is
dull obscurity; and that moreover which swims upon our brain, and
which throbs against our temples, and which we delight in sounding
to ourselves when the voice has done with it, touches their ear, and
awakens no harmony in any cell of it.  Rivals will run up to thee
and call thee a plagiary, and, rather than that proof should be
wanting, similar words to some of thine will be thrown in thy teeth
out of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

"'Do you desire calm studies?  Do you desire high thoughts?
Penetrate into theology.  What is nobler than to dissect and discern
the opinions of the gravest men upon the subtlest matters?  And what
glorious victories are those over Infidelity and Scepticism!  How
much loftier, how much more lasting in their effects, than such as
ye are invited unto by what this ingenious youth hath contemptuously
and truly called

"The swaggering drum, and trumpet hoarse with rage."

And what a delightful and edifying sight it is, to see hundreds of
the most able doctors, all stripped for the combat, each closing
with his antagonist, and tugging and tearing, tooth and nail, to lay
down and establish truths which have been floating in the air for
ages, and which the lower order of mortals are forbidden to see, and
commanded to embrace.  And then the shouts of victory!  And then the
crowns of amaranth held over their heads by the applauding angels!
Besides, these combats have other great and distinct advantages.
Whereas, in the carnal, the longer ye contend the more blows do ye
receive; in these against Satan, the more fiercely and
pertinaciously ye drive at him, the slacker do ye find him; every
good hit makes him redden and rave with anger, but diminishes its

"'My dear friends, who would not enter a service in which he may
give blows to his mortal enemy, and receive none; and in which not
only the eternal gain is incalculable, but also the temporal, at
four-and-twenty, may be far above the emolument of generals, who,
before the priest was born, had bled profusely for their country,
established her security, brightened her glory, and augmented her

At this pause did Sir Thomas turn unto Sir Silas, and asked, -

"What sayest thou, Silas?"

Whereupon did Sir Silas make answer, -

"I say it is so, and was so, and should be so, and shall be so.  If
the queen's brother had not sopped the priests and bishops out of
the Catholic cup, they could have held the Catholic cup in their own
hands, instead of yielding it into his.  They earned their money; if
they sold their consciences for it, the business is theirs, not
ours.  I call this facing the devil with a vengeance.  We have their
coats; no matter who made 'em,--we have 'em, I say, and we will wear
'em; and not a button, tag, or tassel, shall any man tear away."

Sir Thomas then turned to Willy, and requested him to proceed with
the doctor's discourse, who thereupon continued:-

"'Within your own recollections, how many good, quiet, inoffensive
men, unendowed with any extraordinary abilities, have been enabled,
by means of divinity, to enjoy a long life in tranquillity and

"Whereupon did one of the young gentlemen smile, and, on small
encouragement from Doctor Glaston to enounce the cause thereof, he
repeated these verses, which he gave afterward unto me:-

   "'In the names on our books
   Was standing Tom Flooke's,
Who took in due time his degrees;
   Which when he had taken,
   Like Ascham or Bacon,
By night he could snore and by day he could sneeze.

   "'Calm, pithy, pragmatical, {164a}
   Tom Flooke he could at a call
Rise up like a hound from his sleep;
   And if many a quarto
   He gave not his heart to,
If pellucid in lore, in his cups he was deep.

   "'He never did harm,
   And his heart might be warm,
For his doublet most certainly was so;
   And now has Torn Flooke
   A quieter nook
Than ever had Spenser or Tasso.

   "'He lives in his house,
   As still as a mouse,
Until he has eaten his dinner;
   But then doth his nose
   Outroar all the woes
That encompass the death of a sinner.

   "'And there oft has been seen
   No less than a dean
To tarry a week in the parish,
   In October and March,
   When deans are less starch,
And days are less gleamy and garish.

   "'That Sunday Tom's eyes
   Look'd always more wise,
He repeated more often his text;
   Two leaves stuck together,
   (The fault of the weather)

   "'At mess he lost quite
   His small appetite,
By losing his friend the good dean;
   The cook's sight must fail her!
   The eggs sure are staler!
The beef, too!--why, what can it mean?

   "'He turned off the butcher,
   To the cook could he clutch her,
What his choler had done there's no saying -
   'T is verily said
   He smote low the cock's head,
And took other pullets for laying.'

"On this being concluded, Doctor Glaston said he shrewdly suspected
an indigestion on the part of Mr. Thomas Flooke, caused by sitting
up late and studying hard with Mr. Dean; and he protested that
theology itself should not carry us into the rawness of the morning
air, particularly in such critical months as March and October, in
one of which the sap rises, in the other sinks, and there are many
stars very sinister."

Sir Thomas shook his head, and declared he would not be uncharitable
to rector, or dean, or doctor, but that certain surmises swam
uppermost.  He then winked at Master Silas, who said, incontinently,

"You have it, Sir Thomas!  The blind buzzards! with their stars and

"Well, but Silas! you yourself have told us over and over again, in
church, that there are arcana."

"So there are,--I uphold it," replied Master Silas; "but a fig for
the greater part, and a fig-leaf for the rest.  As for these signs,
they are as plain as any page in the Revelation."

Sir Thomas, after short pondering, said, scoffingly, -

"In regard to the rawness of the air having any effect whatsoever on
those who discourse orthodoxically on theology, it is quite as
absurd as to imagine that a man ever caught cold in a Protestant
church.  I am rather of opinion that it was a judgment on the rector
for his evil-mindedness toward the cook, the Lord foreknowing that
he was about to be wilful and vengeful in that quarter.  It was,
however, more advisedly that he took other pullets, on his own view
of the case, although it might be that the same pullets would suit
him again as well as ever, when his appetite should return; for it
doth not appear that they were loath to lay, but laid somewhat

"Now, youth," continued his worship, "if in our clemency we should
spare thy life, study this higher elegiacal strain which thou hast
carried with thee from Oxford; it containeth, over and above an
unusual store of biography, much sound moral doctrine, for those who
are heedful in the weighing of it.  And what can be more affecting
than -

   'At mess he lost quite
   His small appetite,
By losing his friend the good dean'?

And what an insight into character!  Store it up; store it up!
SMALL APPETITE, particular; GOOD DEAN, generick."

Hereupon did Master Silas jerk me with his indicative joint, the
elbow to wit, and did say in my ear, -

"He means DEANERY.  Give me one of those bones so full of marrow,
and let my lord bishop have all the meat over it, and welcome.  If a
dean is not on his stilts, he is not on his stumps; he stands on his
own ground; he is a noli-metangeretarian."

"What art thou saying of those sectaries, good Master Silas?" quoth
Sir Thomas, not hearing him distinctly.

"I was talking of the dean," replied Master Silas.  "He was the very
dean who wrote and sang that song called the Two Jacks."

"Hast it?" asked he.

Master Silas shook his head, and, trying in vain to recollect it,
said at last, -

"After dinner it sometimes pops out of a filbert-shell in a crack;
and I have known it float on the first glass of Herefordshire cider;
it also hath some affinity with very stiff and old bottled beer; but
in a morning it seemeth unto me like a remnant of over-night."

"Our memory waneth, Master Silas!" quoth Sir Thomas, looking
seriously.  "If thou couldst repeat it, without the grimace of
singing, it were not ill."

Master Silas struck the table with his fist, and repeated the first
stave angrily; but in the second he forgot the admonition of Sir
Thomas, and did sing outright, -

   "Jack Calvin and Jack Cade,
   Two gentles of one trade,
      Two tinkers,
   Very gladly would pull down
   Mother Church and Father Crown,
   And would starve or would drown
      Right thinkers.

   "Honest man! honest man!
   Fill the can, fill the can,
They are coming! they are coming! they are coming!
   If any drop be left,
   It might tempt 'em to a theft -
Zooks! it was only the ale that was humming."

"In the first stave, gramercy! there is an awful verity," quoth Sir
Thomas; "but I wonder that a dean should let his skewer slip out,
and his fat catch fire so wofully, in the second.  Light stuff,
Silas, fit only for ale-houses."

Master Silas was nettled in the nose, and answered, -

"Let me see the man in Warwickshire, and in all the counties round,
who can run at such a rate with so light a feather in the palm of
his hand.  I am no poet, thank God! but I know what folks can do,
and what folks cannot do."

"Well, Silas," replied Sir Thomas, "after thy thanksgiving for being
no poet, let us have the rest of the piece."

"The rest!" quoth Master Silas.  "When the ale hath done with its
humming, it is time, methinks, to dismiss it.  Sir, there never was
any more; you might as well ask for more after Amen or the see of

Sir Thomas was dissatisfied, and turned off the discourse; and
peradventure he grew more inclined to be gracious unto Willy from
the slight rub his chaplain had given him, were it only for the
contrariety.  When he had collected his thoughts he was determined
to assert his supremacy on the score of poetry.

"Deans, I perceive, like other quality," said he, "cannot run on
long together.  My friend, Sir Everard Starkeye, could never
overleap four bars.  I remember but one composition of his, on a
young lady who mocked at his inconsistency, in calling her sometimes
his Grace and at other times his Muse.

'My Grace shall Fanny Carew be,
   While here she deigns to stay;
And (ah, how sad the change for me!)
   My Muse when far away!'

And when we laughed at him for turning his back upon her after the
fourth verse, all he could say for himself was, that he would rather
a game at ALL FOURS with Fanny, than OMBRE and PICQUET with the
finest furbelows in Christendom.  Men of condition do usually want a
belt in the course."

Whereunto said Master Silas, -

"Men out of condition are quite as liable to lack it, methinks."

"Silas!  Silas!" replied the knight, impatiently, "prithee keep to
thy divinity, thy strong hold upon Zion; thence none that faces thee
can draw thee without being bitten to the bone.  Leave poetry to

"With all my heart," quoth Master Silas, "I will never ask a belt
from her, until I see she can afford to give a shirt.  She has
promised a belt, indeed,--not one, however, that doth much improve
the wind,--to this lad here, and will keep her word; but she was
forced to borrow the pattern from a Carthusian friar, and somehow it
slips above the shoulder."

"I am by no means sure of that," quoth Sir Thomas.  "He shall have
fair play.  He carrieth in his mind many valuable things, whereof it
hath pleased Providence to ordain him the depository.  He hath laid
before us certain sprigs of poetry from Oxford, trim as pennyroyal,
and larger leaves of household divinity, the most mildly-savoured,--
pleasant in health and wholesome in sickness."

"I relish not such mutton-broth divinity," said Master Silas.  "It
makes me sick in order to settle my stomach."

"We may improve it," said the knight, "but first let us hear more."

Then did William Shakspeare resume Dr. Glaston's discourse.

"'Ethelbert!  I think thou walkest but little; otherwise I should
take thee with me, some fine fresh morning, as far as unto the first
hamlet on the Cherwell.  There lies young Wellerby, who, the year
before, was wont to pass many hours of the day poetising amid the
ruins of Godstow nunnery.  It is said that he bore a fondness toward
a young maiden in that place, formerly a village, now containing but
two old farm-houses.  In my memory there were still extant several
dormitories.  Some love-sick girl had recollected an ancient name,
and had engraven on a stone with a garden-nail, which lay in rust
near it, -


I entered these precincts, and beheld a youth of manly form and
countenance, washing and wiping a stone with a handful of wet grass;
and on my going up to him, and asking what he had found, he shewed
it to me.  The next time I saw him was near the banks of the
Cherwell.  He had tried, it appears, to forget or overcome his
foolish passion, and had applied his whole mind unto study.  He was
foiled by his competitor; and now he sought consolation in poetry.
Whether this opened the wounds that had closed in his youthful
breast, and malignant Love, in his revenge, poisoned it; or whether
the disappointment he had experienced in finding others preferred to
him, first in the paths of fortune, then in those of the muses,--he
was thought to have died broken-hearted.

"'About half a mile from St. John's College is the termination of a
natural terrace, with the Cherwell close under it, in some places
bright with yellow and red flowers glancing and glowing through the
stream, and suddenly in others dark with the shadows of many
different trees, in broad, overbending thickets, and with rushes
spear-high, and party-coloured flags.

"'After a walk in Midsummer, the emersion of our hands into the cool
and closing grass is surely not the least among our animal delights.
I was just seated, and the first sensation of rest vibrated in me
gently, as though it were music to the limbs, when I discovered by a
hollow in the herbage that another was near.  The long meadow-sweet
and blooming burnet half concealed from me him whom the earth was
about to hide totally and for ever.

"'Master Batchelor,' said I, 'it is ill-sleeping by the water-side.'

"'No answer was returned.  I arose, went to the place, and
recognised poor Wellerby.  His brow was moist, his cheek was warm.
A few moments earlier, and that dismal lake whereunto and wherefrom
the waters of life, the buoyant blood, ran no longer, might have
received one vivifying ray reflected from my poor casement.  I might
not indeed have comforted--I have often failed; but there is one who
never has; and the strengthener of the bruised reed should have been
with us.

"'Remembering that his mother did abide one mile further on, I
walked forward to the mansion, and asked her what tidings she lately
had received of her son.  She replied that, having given up his mind
to light studies, the fellows of the college would not elect him.
The master had warned him beforehand to abandon his selfish poetry,
take up manfully the quarterstaff of logic, and wield it for St.
John's, come who would into the ring.  "'We want our man,'" said he
to me, "'and your son hath failed us in the hour of need.  Madam, he
hath been foully beaten in the schools by one he might have
swallowed, with due exercise.'"

"'"I rated him, told him I was poor, and he knew it.  He was stung,
and threw himself upon my neck, and wept.  Twelve days have passed
since, and only three rainy ones.  I hear he has been seen upon the
knoll yonder; but hither he hath not come.  I trust he knows at last
the value of time, and I shall be heartily glad to see him after
this accession of knowledge.  Twelve days, it is true, are rather a
chink than a gap in time; yet, O gentle sir, they are that chink
which makes the vase quite valueless.  There are light words which
may never be shaken off the mind they fall on.  My child, who was
hurt by me, will not let me see the marks."

"'"Lady," said I, "none are left upon him.  Be comforted! thou shalt
see him this hour.  All that thy God hath not taken is yet thine."
She looked at me earnestly, and would have then asked something, but
her voice failed her.  There was no agony, no motion, save in the
lips and cheeks.  Being the widow of one who fought under Hawkins,
she remembered his courage and sustained the shock, saying calmly,
"God's will be done!  I pray that he find me as worthy as he findeth
me willing to join them."

"'Now, in her unearthly thoughts she had led her only son to the
bosom of her husband; and in her spirit (which often is permitted to
pass the gates of death with holy love) she left them both with
their Creator.

"'The curate of the village sent those who should bring home the
body; and some days afterward he came unto me, beseeching me to
write the epitaph.  Being no friend to stonecutters' charges, I
entered not into biography, but wrote these few words:-


"Poor tack! poor tack!" sourly quoth Master Silas.  "If your wise
doctor could say nothing more about the fool, who died like a rotten
sheep among the darnels, his Latin might have held out for the
father, and might have told people he was as cool as a cucumber at
home, and as hot as pepper in battle.  Could he not find room enough
on the whinstone, to tell the folks of the village how he played the
devil among the dons, burning their fingers when they would put
thumbscrews upon us, punching them in the weasand as a blacksmith
punches a horse-shoe, and throwing them overboard like bilgewater?

"Has Oxford lost all her Latin?  Here is no capitani filius; no more
mention of family than a Welchman would have allowed him; no hic
jacet; and, worse than all, the devil a tittle of spe redemptionis,
or anno Domini."

"Willy!" quoth Sir Thomas, "I shrewdly do suspect there was more,
and that thou hast forgotten it."

"Sir!" answered Willy, "I wrote not down the words, fearing to mis-
spell them, and begged them of the doctor, when I took my leave of
him on the morrow; and verily he wrote down all he had repeated.  I
keep them always in the tin-box in my waistcoat-pocket, among the
eel-hooks, on a scrap of paper a finger's length and breadth, folded
in the middle to fit.  And when the eels are running, I often take
it out and read it before I am aware.  I could as soon forget my own
epitaph as this."

"Simpleton!" said Sir Thomas, with his gentle, compassionate smile;
"but thou hast cleared thyself."


"I think the doctor gave one idle chap as much solid pudding as he
could digest, with a slice to spare for another."


"And yet after this pudding the doctor gave him a spoonful of
custard, flavoured with a little bitter, which was mostly left at
the bottom for the other idle chap."

Sir Thomas not only did endure this very goodnaturedly, but deigned
even to take in good part the smile upon my countenance, as though
he were a smile collector, and as though his estate were so humble
that he could hold his laced bonnet (in all his bravery) for bear
and fiddle.

He then said unto Willy,

"Place likewise this custard before us."

"There is but little of it; the platter is shallow," replied he; "'t
was suited to Master Ethelbert's appetite.  The contents were these:

"'The things whereon thy whole soul brooded in its innermost
recesses, and with all its warmth and energy, will pass unprized and
unregarded, not only throughout thy lifetime but long after.  For
the higher beauties of poetry are beyond the capacity, beyond the
vision of almost all.  Once perhaps in half a century a single star
is discovered, then named and registered, then mentioned by five
studious men to five more; at last some twenty say, or repeat in
writing, what they have heard about it.  Other stars await other
discoveries.  Few and solitary and wide asunder are those who
calculate their relative distances, their mysterious influences,
their glorious magnitude, and their stupendous height.  'T is so,
believe me, and ever was so, with the truest and best poetry.
Homer, they say, was blind; he might have been ere he died,--that he
sat among the blind, we are sure.

"'Happy they who, like this young lad from Stratford, write poetry
on the saddle-bow when their geldings are jaded, and keep the desk
for better purposes.'

"The young gentlemen, like the elderly, all turned their faces
toward me, to my confusion, so much did I remark of sneer and scoff
at my cost.  Master Ethelbert was the only one who spared me.  He
smiled and said, -

"'Be patient!  From the higher heavens of poetry, it is long before
the radiance of the brightest star can reach the world below.  We
hear that one man finds out one beauty, another man finds out
another, placing his observatory and instruments on the poet's
grave.  The worms must have eaten us before it is rightly known what
we are.  It is only when we are skeletons that we are boxed and
ticketed, and prized and shewn.  Be it so!  I shall not be tired of

"Reasonable youth!" said Sir Thomas; "yet both he and Glaston walk
rather A-STRADDLE, methinks.  They might have stepped up to thee
more straightforwardly, and told thee the trade ill suiteth thee,
having little fire, little fantasy, and little learning.
Furthermore, that one poet, as one bull, sufficeth for two parishes,
and that where they are stuck too close together they are apt to
fire, like haystacks.  I have known it myself; I have had my
malignants and scoffers."


"I never could have thought it!"


"There again!  Another proof of thy inexperience."


"Mat Atterend!  Mat Atterend! where wert thou sleeping?"


"I shall now from my own stores impart unto thee what will avail to
tame thee, shewing the utter hopelessness of standing on that golden
weathercock which supporteth but one at a time.

"The passion for poetry wherewith Monsieur Dubois would have
inspired me, as he was bound to do, being paid beforehand, had cold
water thrown upon it by that unlucky one, Sir Everard.  He ridiculed
the idea of male and female rhymes, and the necessity of trying them
as rigidly by the eye as by the ear,--saying to Monsieur Dubois that
the palate, in which the French excel all mortals, ought also to be
consulted in their acceptance or rejection.  Monsieur Dubois told us
that if we did not wish to be taught French verse, he would teach us
English.  Sir Everard preferred the Greek; but Monsieur Dubois would
not engage to teach the mysteries of that poetry in fewer than
thirty lessons,--having (since his misfortunes) forgotten the
letters and some other necessaries.

"The first poem I ever wrote was in the character of a shepherd, to
Mistress Anne Nanfan, daughter of Squire Fulke Nanfan, of
Worcestershire, at that time on a visit to the worshipful family of
Compton at Long Compton.

"We were young creatures,--I but twenty-four and seven months (for
it was written on the 14th of May), and she well-nigh upon a twelve-
month younger.  My own verses, the first, are neither here nor
there; indeed, they were imbedded in solid prose, like lampreys and
ram's-horns {181a} in our limestone, and would be hard to get out
whole.  What they are may be seen by her answer, all in verse:-

"'Faithful shepherd! dearest Tommy!
I have received the letter from ye,
   And mightily delight therein.
But mother, SHE says, "Nanny!  Nanny!

"Sir shepherd!  I held down my head,
   All I could say would not content her;
Mother she would for ever harp on't,

"I know not how it happeneth; but a poet doth open before a poet,
albeit of baser sort.  It is not that I hold my poetry to be better
than some other in time past, it is because I would shew thee that I
was virtuous and wooed virtuously, that I repeat it.  Furthermore, I
wished to leave a deep impression on the mother's mind that she was
exceedingly wrong in doubting my innocence.


"Gracious Heaven! and was this too doubted?"


"Maybe not; but the whole race of men, the whole male sex, wanted
and found in me a protector.  I shewed her what I was ready to do."


"Perhaps, sir, it was for that very thing that she put the daughter
back and herself forward."


"I say not so; but thou mayest know as much as befitteth, by what

"'Worshipful lady! honoured madam!
I at this present truly glad am
   To have so fair an opportunity
Of saying I would be the man
To bind in wedlock Mistress Anne,
   Living with her in holy unity.

"'And for a jointure I will gi'e her
A good two hundred pounds a year
   Accruing from my landed rents,
Whereof see t'other paper, telling
Lands, copses, and grown woods for felling,
   Capons, and cottage tenements.

"'And who must come at sound of horn,
And who pays but a barley-corn,
   And who is bound to keep a whelp,
And what is brought me for the pound,
And copyholders, which are sound,
   And which do need the leech's help.

"'And you may see in these two pages
Exact their illnesses and ages,
   Enough (God willing) to content ye;
Who looks full red, who looks full yellow,
Who plies the mullen, who the mallow,
   Who fails at fifty, who at twenty.

"'Jim Yates must go; he's one day very hot,
And one day ice; I take a heriot;
   And poorly, poorly's Jacob Burgess.
The doctor tells me he has pour'd
Into his stomach half his hoard
   Of anthelminticals and purges.

"'Judith, the wife of Ebenezer
Fillpots, won't have him long to tease her;
   Fillpots blows hot and cold like Jim,
And, sleepless lest the boys should plunder
His orchard, he must soon knock under;
   Death has been looking out for him.

"'He blusters; but his good yard land
Under the church, his ale-house, and
   His Bible, which he cut in spite,
Must all fall in; he stamps and swears
And sets his neighbours by the ears -
   Fillpots, thy saddle sits not tight!'

"The epitaph is ready:-


"'And he who lent my lord his wife
Has but a very ticklish life;
   Although she won him many a hundred,
'T won't do; none comes with briefs and wills,
And all her gainings are gilt pills
   From the sick madman that she plundered.

"'And the brave lad who sent the bluff
Olive-faced Frenchman (sure enough)
   Screaming and scouring like a plover,
Must follow--him I mean who dash'd
Into the water and then thrash'd
   The cullion past the town of Dover.

"'But first there goes the blear old dame
Who nurs'd me; you have heard her name,
   No doubt, at Compton, Sarah Salways;
There are twelve groats at once, beside
The frying-pan in which she fried
   Her pancakes.
      Madam, I am always, etc.,
         Sir THOMAS LUCY, Knight.'

"I did believe that such a clear and conscientious exposure of my
affairs would have brought me a like return.  My letter was sent
back to me with small courtesy.  It may be there was no paper in the
house, or none equalling mine in whiteness.  No notice was taken of
the rent-roll; but between the second and third stanza these four
lines were written, in a very fine hand:-

"'Most honour'd knight, Sir Thomas! two
For merry Nan will never do;
Now under favour let me say 't,
She will bring more herself than that.'

I have reason to believe that the worthy lady did neither write nor
countenance the same, perhaps did not ever know of them.  She always
had at her elbow one who jogged it when he listed, and although he
could not overrule the daughter, he took especial care that none
other should remove her from his tutelage, even when she had fairly
grown up to woman's estate.

"Now, after all this condescension and confidence, promise me, good
lad, promise that thou wilt not edge and elbow me.  Never let it be
said, when people say, SIR THOMAS WAS A POET WHEN HE WILL EDIT,--SO
IS BILL SHAKSPEARE!  It beseemeth not that our names do go together
cheek by jowl in this familiar fashion, like an old beagle and a
whelp, in couples, where if the one would, the other would not."


"Sir, while these thoughts are passing in your mind, remember there
is another pair of couples out of which it would be as well to keep
the cur's neck."


"Young man! dost thou understand Master Silas?"


"But too well.  Not those couples in which it might be apprehended
that your worship and my unworthiness should appear too close
together; but those sorrowfuller which peradventure might unite
Master Silas and me in our road to Warwick and upwards.  But I
resign all right and title unto these as willingly as I did unto the
other, and am as ready to let him go alone."


"If we keep wheeling and wheeling, like a flock of pigeons, and
rising again when we are within a foot of the ground, we shall never
fill the craw."


"Do thou then question him, Silas."


"I am none of the quorum; the business is none of mine."

Then Sir Thomas took Master Silas again into the bay window, and
said softly, -

"Silas, he hath no inkling of thy meaning.  The business is a
ticklish one.  I like not overmuch to meddle and make therein."

Master Silas stood dissatisfied awhile, and then answered, -

"The girl's mother, sir, was housemaid and sempstress in your own
family, time back, and you thereby have a right over her unto the
third and fourth generation."

"I may have, Silas," said his worship, "but it was no longer than
four or five years agone that folks were fain to speak maliciously
of me for only finding my horse in her hovel."

Sir Silas looked red and shiny as a ripe strawberry on a
Snitterfield tile, and answered somewhat peevishly, -

"The same folks, I misgive me, may find the rogue's there any night
in the week."

Whereunto replied Sir Thomas, mortifiedly,

"I cannot think it, Silas!  I cannot think it."

And after some hesitation and disquiet, -

"Nay, I am resolved I will not think it; no man, friend or enemy,
shall push it into me."

"Worshipful sir," answered Master Silas, "I am as resolute as any
one in what I would think and what I would not think, and never was
known to fight dunghill in either cockpit.

"Were he only out of the way, she might do duty, but what doth she

"She points his young beard for him; persuading him it grows thicker
and thicker, blacker and blacker; she washes his ruff, stiffens it,
plaits it, tries it upon his neck, removes the hair from under it,
pinches it with thumb and fore-finger, pretending that he hath
moiled it, puts her hand all the way round it, SETTING IT TO RIGHTS,
as she calleth it -

"Ah, Sir Thomas! a louder whistle than that will never call her back
again when she is off with him."

Sir Thomas was angered, and cried tartly, -

"Who whistled?  I would know."

Master Silas said submissively, -

"Your honour, as wrongfully I fancied."

"Wrongfully, indeed, and to my no small disparagement and
discomfort," said the knight, verily believing that he had not
whistled; for deep and dubious were his cogitations.

"I protest," went he on to say, "I protest it was the wind of the
casement; and if I live another year I will put a better in the
place of it.  Whistle indeed--for what?  I care no more about her
than about an unfledged cygnet,--a child, {189a} a chicken, a mere
kitten, a crab-blossom in the hedge."

The dignity of his worship was wounded by Master Silas unaware, and
his wrath again turned suddenly upon poor William.

"Hark-ye, knave! hark-ye again, ill-looking stripling, lanky from
vicious courses!  I will reclaim thee from them; I will do what thy
own father would, and cannot.  Thou shalt follow his business."

"I cannot do better, may it please your worship!" said the lad.

"It shall lead thee unto wealth and respectability," said the
knight, somewhat appeased by his ready compliancy and low, gentle
voice. "Yea, but not here,--no witches, no wantons (this word fell
gravely and at full-length upon the ear), no spells hereabout.

"Gloucestershire is within a measured mile of thy dwelling.  There
is one at Bristol, formerly a parish-boy, or little better, who now
writeth himself GENTLEMAN in large, round letters, and hath been
elected, I hear, to serve as burgess in parliament for his native
city; just as though he had eaten a capon or turkey-poult in his
youth, and had actually been at grammar school and college.  When he
began, he had not credit for a goat-skin; and now, behold ye! this
very coat upon my back did cost me eight shillings the dearer for
him, he bought up wool so largely."


"May it please your worship! if my father so ordereth, I go


"Thou art grown discreet and dutiful.  I am fain to command thy
release, taking thy promise on oath, and some reasonable security,
that thou wilt abstain and withhold in future from that idle and
silly slut, that sly and scoffing giggler, Hannah Hathaway, with
whom, to the heartache of thy poor, worthy father, thou wantonly
keepest company."

Then did Sir Thomas ask Master Silas Gough for the Book of Life,
bidding him deliver it into the right hand of Billy, with an eye
upon him that he touch it with both lips,--it being taught by the
Jesuits, and caught too greedily out of their society and communion,
that whoso toucheth it with one lip only, and thereafter sweareth
falsely, cannot be called a perjurer, since perjury is breaking an
oath.  But breaking half an oath, as he doth who toucheth the Bible
or crucifix with one lip only, is no more perjury than breaking an
eggshell is breaking an egg, the shell being a part, and the egg
being an integral.

William did take the Holy Book with all due reverence the instant it
was offered to his hand.  His stature seemed to rise therefrom as
from a pulpit, and Sir Thomas was quite edified.

"Obedient and conducible youth!" said he.  "See there, Master Silas!
what hast thou now to say against him?  Who sees farthest?"

"The man from the gallows is the most likely, bating his nightcap
and blinker," said Master Silas, peevishly.  "He hath not outwitted
me yet."

"He seized upon the Anchor of Faith like a martyr," said Sir Thomas,
"and even now his face burns red as elder-wine before the gossips."


"I await the further orders of your worship from the chair."


"I return and seat myself."

And then did Sir Thomas say with great complacency and satisfaction
in the ear of Master Silas, -

"What civility, and deference, and sedateness of mind, Silas!"

But Master Silas answered not.


"Must I swear, sirs?"


"Yea, swear; be of good courage.  I protest to thee by my honour and
knighthood, no ill shall come unto thee therefrom.  Thou shalt not
be circumvented in thy simpleness and inexperience."

Willy, having taken the Book of Life, did kiss it piously, and did
press it unto his breast, saying,

"Tenderest love is the growth of my heart, as the grass is of
Alvescote mead.

"May I lose my life or my friends, or my memory, or my reason; may I
be viler in my own eyes than those men are--"

Here he was interrupted, most lovingly, by Sir Thomas, who said unto
him, -

"Nay, nay, nay! poor youth! do not tell me so! they are not such
very bad men, since thou appealest unto Caesar,--that is, unto the

Now his worship did mean the two witnesses, Joseph and Euseby; and,
sooth to say there be many worse.  But William had them not in his
eye; his thoughts were elsewhere, as will be evident, for he went on

"--if ever I forget or desert thee, or ever cease to worship {193a}
and cherish thee, my Hannah!"


"The madman! the audacious, desperate, outrageous villain!  Look-ye,
sir! where he flung the Holy Gospel!  Behold it on the holly and box
boughs in the chimney-place, spreaden all abroad, like a lad about
to be whipped!"


"Miscreant knave!  I will send after him forthwith!

"Ho, there! is the caitiff at hand, or running off?"

Jonas Greenfield the butler did budge forward after a while, and
say, on being questioned, -

"Surely, that was he!  Was his nag tied to the iron gate at the
lodge, Master Silas?"


"What should I know about a thief's nag, Jonas Greenfield?"

"And didst thou let him go, Jonas,--even thou?" said Sir Thomas.
"What! are none found faithful?"

"Lord love your worship," said Jonas Greenfield; "a man of
threescore and two may miss catching a kite upon wing.  Fleetness
doth not make folks the faithfuller, or that youth yonder beats us
all in faithfulness.

"Look! he darts on like a greyhound whelp after a leveret.  He, sure
enough, it was!  I now remember the sorrel mare his father bought of
John Kinderley last Lammas, swift as he threaded the trees along the
park.  He must have reached Wellesbourne ere now at that gallop, and
pretty nigh Walton-hill."


"Merciful Christ! grant the country be rid of him for ever!  What
dishonour upon his friends and native town!  A reputable wool-
stapler's son turned gipsy and poet for life."


"A Beelzebub; he spake as bigly and fiercely as a soaken yeoman at
an election feast,--this obedient and conducible youth!"


"It was so written.  Hold thy peace, Silas!"

E. B.


Twelve days are over and gone since William Shakspeare did leave our
parts.  And the spinster, Hannah Hathaway, is in sad doleful plight
about him; forasmuch as Master Silas Cough went yesterday unto her,
in her mother's house at Shottery, and did desire both her and her
mother to take heed and be admonished, that if ever she, Hannah,
threw away one thought after the runagate William Shakspeare, he
should swing.

The girl could do nothing but weep; while as the mother did give her
solemn promise that her daughter should never more think about him
all her natural life, reckoning from the moment of this her promise.

And the maiden, now growing more reasonable, did promise the same.
But Master Silas said,



Hannah screamed, and swooned, the better to forget him.  And Master
Silas went home easier and contenteder.  For now all the worst of
his hard duty was accomplished,--he having been, on the Wednesday of
last week, at the speech of Master John Shakspeare, Will's father,
to inquire whether the sorrel mare was his.  To which question the
said Master John Shakspeare did answer, "YEA."

"ENOUGH SAID!" rejoined Master Silas.


May the Lord in his mercy give the lad a good deliverance, if so be
it be no sin to wish it!

October 1, A. D. 1582.



{8a}  Quicken, bring to life.

{8b}  Debtors were often let out of prison at the coronation of a
new king; but creditors never paid by him.

{21a}  The word here omitted is quite illegible.  It appears to have
some reference to the language of the Highlanders.  That it was
rough and outlandish is apparent from the reprimand of Sir Thomas.

{29a}  By this deposition it would appear that Shakspeare had formed
the idea, if not the outline, of several plays already, much as he
altered them, no doubt, in after life.

{39a}  The greater part of the value of the present work arises from
the certain information it affords us on the price of small needles
in the reign of Elizabeth.  Fine needles in her days were made only
at Liege, and some few cities in the Netherlands, and may be
reckoned among those things which were much dearer than they are

{39b}  Mr. Tooke had not yet published his Pantheon.

{44a}  This was really the case within our memory.

{45a}  It was formerly thought, and perhaps is thought still, that
the hand of a man recently hanged, being rubbed on the tumour of the
king's evil, was able to cure it.  The crown and the gallows divided
the glory of the sovereign remedy.

{46a}  And yet he never did sail any farther than into Bohemia.

{50a}  Smock, formerly a part of the female dress, corresponding
with shroud, or what we now call (or lately called) shirt of the
man's.  Fox, speaking of Latimer's burning, says, "Being slipped
into his shroud."

{50b}  Faith nailing the ears is a strong and sacred metaphor.  The
rhyme is imperfect,--Shakspeare was not always attentive to these
minor beauties.

{53a}  Shakspeare seems to have profited afterward by this metaphor,
even more perhaps than by all the direct pieces of instruction in
poetry given him so handsomely by the worthy knight.  And here it
may be permitted the editor to profit also by the manuscript,
correcting in Shakspeare what is absolute nonsense as now printed:-

"VAULTING ambition that o'erleaps ITSELF."

It should be its SELL.  SELL is SADDLE in Spenser and elsewhere,
from the Latin and Italian.

This emendation was shewn to the late Mr. Hazlitt, an acute man at
least, who expressed his conviction that it was the right reading,
and added somewhat more in approbation of it.

{55a}  It has been suggested that this answer was borrowed from
Virgil, and goes strongly against the genuineness of the manuscript.
The Editor's memory was upon the stretch to recollect the words; the
learned critic supplied them:-

"Solum AEneas vocat:  et vocet, oro."

The Editor could only reply, indeed weakly, that CALLING and WAITING
are not exactly the same, unless when tradesmen rap and gentlemen
are leaving town.

{66a}  Here the manuscript is blotted; but the probability is that
it was FISHMONGER, rather than IRONMONGER, fishmongers having always
been notorious cheats and liars.

{70a}  ON THE NAIL appears to be intended to express READY PAYMENT.

{72a}  The Cordilleras are mountains, we know, running through South
America.  Perhaps a pun was intended; or possibly it might, in the
age of Elizabeth, have been a vulgar term for HANGING, although we
find no trace of the expression in other books.  We have no clue to
guide us here.  It might be suggested that Shakspeare, who shines
little in geographical knowledge, fancied the Cordilleras to extend
into North America, had convicts in his time been transported to
those colonies.  Certainly, many adventurers and desperate men went

{89a}  In that age there was prevalent a sort of cholera, on which
Fracastorius, half a century before, wrote a Latin poem, employing
the graceful nymphs of Homer and Hesiod, somewhat disguised, in the
drudgery of pounding certain barks and minerals.  An article in the
Impeachment of Cardinal Wolsey accuses him of breathing in the
king's face, knowing that he was affected with this cholera.  It was
a great assistant to the Reformation, by removing some of the most
vigorous champions that opposed it.  In the Holy College it was
followed by the SWEATING SICKNESS, which thinned it very sorely; and
several even of God's vicegerents were laid under tribulation by it.
Among the chambers of the Vatican it hung for ages, and it crowned
the labours of Pope Leo XII., of blessed memory, with a crown
somewhat uneasy.

{105a}  Sir Thomas seems to have been jealous of these two towers,
certainly the finest in England.  If Warwick Castle could borrow the
windows from Kenilworth, it would be complete.  The knight is not
very courteous on its hospitality.  He may, perhaps, have
experienced it, as Garrick and Quin did under the present occupant's
grandfather, on whom the title of Earl of Warwick was conferred for
the eminent services he had rendered to his country as one of the
lords of the bedchamber to his Majesty George the Second.  The
verses of Garrick on his invitation and visit are remembered by
many.  Quin's are less known.

He shewed us Guy's pot, but the soup he forgot;
   Not a meal did his lordship allow,
Unless we gnaw'd o'er the blade-bone of the boar,
   Or the rib of the famous Dun Cow.

When Nevile the great Earl of Warwick lived here,
   Three oxen for breakfast were slain,
And strangers invited to sports and good cheer,
   And invited again and again.

This earl is in purse or in spirit so low,
   That he with no oxen will feed 'em;
And all of the former great doings we know
   Is, he gives us a book and we read 'em.


STALE peers are but tough morsels, and 't were well
   If we had found the FRESH more eatable;
Garrick!  I do not say 't were well for HIM,
   For we had pluck'd the plover limb from limb.


{106a}  Another untoward blot! but leaving no doubt of the word.
The only doubt is whether he meant the MUZZLE of the animal itself,
or one of those leathern muzzles which are often employed to coerce
the violence of ferocious animals.  In besieged cities men have been
reduced to such extremities.  But the MUZZLE, in this place, we
suspect, would more properly be called the BLINKER, which is often
put upon bulls in pastures when they are vicious.

{108a}  This would countenance the opinion of those who are inclined
to believe that Shakspeare was a Roman Catholic.  His hatred and
contempt of priests, which are demonstrated wherever he has
introduced them, may have originated from the unfairness of Silas
Gough.  Nothing of that kind, we may believe, had occurred to him
from friars and monks, whom he treats respectfully and kindly,
perhaps in return for some such services to himself as Friar
Lawrence had bestowed on Romeo,--or rather less; for Shakspeare was
grateful.  The words quoted by him from some sermon, now lost, prove
him no friend to the filchings and swindling of popery.

{111a}  It is a pity that the old divines should have indulged, as
they often did, in such images as this.  Some readers in search of
argumentative subtility, some in search of sound Christianity, some
in search of pure English undefiled, have gone through with them;
and their labours (however heavy) have been well repaid.

{124a}  Tilley valley was the favourite adjuration of James the
Second.  It appears in the comedies of Shakspeare.

{133a}  Whoreson, if we may hazard a conjecture, means the son of a
woman of ill-repute.  In this we are borne out by the context.  It
appears to have escaped the commentators on Shakspeare.

Whoreson, a word of frequent occurrence in the comedies; more rarely
found in the tragedies.  Although now obsolete, the expression
proves that there were (or were believed to be) such persons

The Editor is indebted to two learned friends for these two remarks,
which appear no less just than ingenious.

{153a}  Belly-ache, a disorder once not uncommon in England.  Even
the name is now almost forgotten; yet the elder of us may remember
at least the report of it, and some, perhaps, even the complaint
itself, in our school-days.  It usually broke out about the cherry
season; and in some cases made its appearance again at the first

{157a}  Sir Thomas borrowed this expression from Spenser, who thus
calls Queen Elizabeth.

{159a}  Humboldt notices this.

{164a}  Pragmatical here means only PRECISE.

{181a}  It is doubtful whether Doctor Buckland will agree with Sir
Thomas that these petrifactions are ram's-horns and lampreys.

{189a}  She was then twenty-eight years of age.  Sir Thomas must
have spoken of her from earlier recollections.  Shakspeare was in
his twentieth year.

{193a}  It is to be feared that his taste for venison outlasted that
for matrimony, spite of this vow.


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