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few miles the scene would change. A noble park would stretch out as far as the eye could reach-rich with venerable oaks and beeches, planted in the reign of Henry I.,—the famous park of Woodstock. The poet would be familiar with all the interesting associations of this place. Here was Rosamond Clifford secluded from the eyes of the world by her bold and accomplished royal lover. Here dwelt Edward III. Here, more interesting than either fact, Chaucer wrote some of his early poems—

"Within a lodge out of the way,
Beside a well in a forest."*

And here, when he retired from active life, he composed his immortal ‘Canterbury Tales.' Here was the Lady Elizabeth a prisoner, almost dreading death, only a year or two before she ascended the throne. Here," hearing upon a time out of her garden a certain milkmaid singing pleasantly, she wished herself to be a milkmaid, as she was; saying that her case was better, and life more merrier, than was hers in that state as she was." + The travellers assuredly visited the palace which a few years after Hentzner described as abounding in magnificence; and near a spring of the brightest water they would have viewed all that was left of the tomb of Rosamond, with her rhyming epitaph, the production, probably, of a later age:—

"Hic jacet in tumbâ Rosamundi non Rosamunda,
Non redolet sed olet, quæ redolere solet."

The earliest light of the next morning would see the companions on their way to Oxford; and an hour's riding would lodge them in the famous hostelry of the Corn Market, the Crown. Aubrey tells us that "Mr. William Shakespeare was wont to go into Warwickshire once a-year, and did commonly in his journey lie at this house in Oxon, where he was exceedingly respected."‡ The poet's first journey may have determined his subsequent habit of resting at this house. It is no longer an inn. But one who possessed a true enthusiasm, Thomas Warton, described it in the last century in the belief" that Shakspeare's old hostelry at Oxford deserves no less respect than Chaucer's Tabard in Southwark." He says, "As to the Crown Inn, it still remains an inn, and is an old decayed house, but probably was once a principal inn in Oxford. It is directly in the road from Stratford to London. In a large upper room, which seems to have been a sort of hall for entertaining a large company, or for accommodating (as was the custom) different parties at once, there was a bow-window, with three pieces of excellent painted glass." We have ample materials for ascertaining what aspect Oxford presented for the first time to the eye of Shakspere. The ancient castle, according to Hentzner, was in ruins; but the elegance of its private buildings, and the magnificence of its public ones, filled this traveller with admiration. So noble a place, raised up entirely for the encouragement of learning, would excite in the young poet feelings that were strange and new. He had wept over the ruins of religious houses; but

Chaucer's 'Dream.'

+ Holinshed.

Life of Davenant.

here was something left to give the assurance that there was a real barrier against the desolations of force and ignorance. A deep regret might pass through his mind that he had not availed himself of the opening which was presented to the humblest in the land, here to make himself a ripe and good scholar. Oxford was the patrimony of the people; and he, one of the people, had not claimed his birthright. He was set out upon a doubtful adventure; the persons with whom he was to be associated had no rank in society; they were to a certain extent despised; they were the servants of a luxurious court, and, what was sometimes worse, of a tasteless public. But, on the other hand, as he paused before Baliol College, he must have recollected what a fearful tragedy was there acted some thirty years before. Was he sure that the day of persecution for opinions was altogether past? Men were still disputing

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everywhere around him; and the slighter the differences between them the more violent their zeal. They were furious for or against certain ceremonial observances; so that they appeared to forget that the object of all devotional forms was to make the soul approach nearer to the Fountain of wisdom and goodness, and that He could not be approached without love and charity. The spirit of love dwelt in the inmost heart of this young man. It was in after-time to diffuse itself over writings which entered the minds of the loftiest and the humblest, as an auxiliary to that higher teaching which is too often forgotten in the turmoil of the world. His intellect would at any rate be free in the course which was before him. Much of the knowledge that he had acquired up to this period was self-taught; but it was not

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the less full and accurate. He had ranged at his will over a multitude of books, -idle reading, no doubt, to the systematic and professional student; but, if weeds, weeds out of which he could extract honey. The subtile disputations of the schools, as they were then conducted, were more calculated, as he had heard, to call forth a talent for sophistry than a love of truth. Falsehood might rest upon logic, for the perfect soundness of the conclusion might hide the rottenness of the premises. He entered the beautiful Divinity Schools; and there, too, he found that the understanding was more trained to dispute, than the whole intellectual being of man to reverence. He would pursue his own course with a cheerful spirit; nothing doubting that, whilst he worked out his individual happiness, he might still become an instrument of good to his fellow-men. And yet did the young man reverence Oxford; because he reverenced letters as opposed to illiteracy. He gave his testimony to the worth of Oxford at a distant day, when he held that the great glory of Wolsey was to have founded Christchurch:

"He was a scholar, and a ripe and good one:
Exceeding wise, fair spoken, and persuading:
Lofty and sour to them that lov'd him not;
But, to those men that sought him, sweet as summer.
And though he were unsatisfied in getting,
(Which was a sin), yet in bestowing, madam,
He was most princely: Ever witness for him
Those twins of learning that he rais'd in you,
Ipswich and Oxford! one of which fell with him,
Unwilling to outlive the good he did it;

The other, though unfinish'd, yet so famous,

The journey from Oxford to London must have occupied two days, in that age of bad roads and long miles. Harrison, in his Chapter on Thoroughfares' (1586), gives us the distances from town to town:-Oxford to Whatleie, 4 miles; Whatleie to Thetisford, 6; Thetisford to Stockingchurch, 5; Stockingchurch to East Wickham, 5; East Wickham to Baccansfield, 5; Baccansfield to Uxbridge, 7; Uxbridge to London, 15. Total 47 miles. Our modern admeasurements give 54. Over this road, then, in many parts a picturesque one, would the two friends from Stratford take their course. They would fare well and cheaply on the road. Harrison tells us, "Each comer is sure to lie in clean sheets, wherein no man hath been lodged since they came from the laundress, or out of the water wherein they were last washed. If the traveller have a horse his bed doth cost him nothing, but if he go on foot he is sure to pay a penny for the same. But whether he be horseman or footman, if his chamber be once appointed he may carry the key with him, as of his own house, so long as he lodgeth there. If he lose aught whilst he abideth in the inn, the host is bound by a general custom to restore the damage, so that there is no greater security anywhere for travellers than in the greatest inns of England.”

* Henry VIII., Act Iv., Scene 11.

So excellent in art, and still so rising,

That Christendom shall ever speak his virtue."

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On the evening of the fourth day after their departure from home would the young wayfarers, accustomed to fatigue, reach London. They would see only fields and hedge-rows, leading to the hills of Hampstead and Highgate on the north of the road, and to Westminster on the south. They would be wholly in the country; with a long line of road before them, without a house, at the spot which now, although bearing the name of a lane-Park Lane-is one of the chosen seats of fashion. Here Burbage would point out to his companion the distant roofs of the Abbey and the Hall of Westminster; and nearer would stand St. James's Palace, a solitary and somewhat gloomy building.


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would ride on through fields, till they came very near the village of St. Giles's. Here, turning from their easterly direction to the south, they would pass through meadows; with the herd quietly grazing under the evening sun in one enclosure, and the laundress collecting her bleached linen in another. They are now in St. Martin's Lane; and the hum of population begins to be heard. The inn in the Strand receives their horses, and they take boat at Somerset Place. Then bursts upon the young stranger a full conception of the wealth and greatness of that city of which he has heard so much, and imagined so much more. Hundreds of boats are upon the river. Here and there a stately barge is rowed along, gay with streamers and rich liveries; and the sound of music is heard from its decks, and the sound is repeated from many a beauteous garden that skirts the water's edge. He looks back upon the cluster of noble buildings that form the

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