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forms of Anne. Anne Hathaway had also four brothers, Bartholomew, Thomas, John, and William, and the father's will provided for helpful relations between Bartholomew the eldest son, and the widow.
Richard Hathaway's farmhouse at Shottery was a long building that, among many other changes, was at some time made into two cottages. Initials “I. H.” on a chimney, and “I. H., E. H., I. B." on the cross-bar of a cupboard door, are dated 1697, and mark alterations made by a John Hathaway in that year. Some of the land passed into other hands, but the old house remained with the Hathaway family till the male line of the family became extinct in 1746. It then continued in the female line till 1838. Known as Anne Hathaway's Cottage, the house was bought for the nation in 1892.
The evidence associating Shakespeare's wife with the cottage at Shottery, if not conclusive, is so strong that we may accept it without reasonable doubt. Richard Hathaway certainly lived in that house on the farm known as Hewlands, and after him his son Bartholomew. The same Richard Hathaway, who died about five months before the signing of Shakespeare's preliminary bond of marriage, had one of the two bondsmen in the instrument through which William Shakespeare was to obtain his licence of marriage with Anne Hathaway acting as witness to his will, and the other was named in his will as a supervisor to see that its provisions were duly carried out. Shakespeare's bondsmen, therefore, may be looked upon as representing Richard Hathaway. We have inferred from the terms of the will that, before his death, Richard Hathaway looked upon his two elder daughters as about to marry, but upon his youngest daughter, not then seventeen, as having
Shake a husband yet to find. The marriage bond also speare's grants Shakespeare his licence on condition Mar
Marriage. that he “ do not proceed to solemnizacion of mariadg
with the said Anne Hathway without the consent of her frindes.” At what date the religious solemnisation of marriage took place there is nothing to show, but the preliminary bond for the licence must have been taken out some three months after the betrothal.
Until the reign of George II., consensus faciat nuptias was so largely the maxim of the civil law, that any contract made in words of the present tense was so far a valid marriage that the parties might be compelled---not in the civil but in the spiritual courts—to celebrate it in the face of the Church. In and before and after the time of Elizabeth, formal betrothal was such a civil contract. It was recognised by law, and commonly regarded by the people as a civil marriage, actual and binding. It would afterwards be solemnised in the face of the Church, but it was a true marriage from the day of open betrothal. We have seen* that Mary Arden's sister Agnes was in a legal document called wife-uxor-of her second husband several weeks before she had been married to him in the church. This view of the contract was so much a matter of course that when George Peele, in his “Old Wives' Tale," has a charm to be broken by a woman who is neither maid, wife, nor widow, it is broken by Venelia, who, as the betrothed of Erastus, is not a maid ; as torn from him before marriage in the church, is not a wife; and, as Erastus lives, is not a widow. On the twenty-sixth of May, 1583, Susanna, daughter
of William and Anne Shakespeare, was baptized Susanna in Stratford Church. Shakespeare's age was
are then a month over nineteen. What were his means of livelihood ? We must be content to answer simply that we do not know. Considering his father's falling fortunes, and that his parents had four younger children to support, it may be supposed that at fourteen or
* “E W.” X. 4.
fifteen the eldest boy had been taken from school and put somewhere to earn his living. When between eighteen and nineteen, he ventured marriage upon what he then was earning. He could only have married upon some earnings of his own, since it was not possible that he could have added his wife to the overburdened home in Henley Street. Wherever we tread upon safe ground of evidence as to his home relations, we find him only labouring to help his parents.
Evidence of the age of Shakespeare's wife is found on her gravestone. She survived him seven years, was buried close to him in the chancel of the parish church at Stratford, and the inscription says-“Here lyeth interred the body of Anne, wife of William Shakespeare, who departed this life the 6th day of August, 1623, being of the age of 67 years." Her age, therefore, had been about sixty when Shakespeare died at the age of fifty-two, and was about twenty-six when Shakespeare attached himself to her. In choosing her for wife he showed the preference, not rare among young men of ripe intellectual power, for a companion who has passed out of her girlhood into a womanhood that has not lost the charms of youth. It may at once be said that we shall find, as we go on, no scrap of evidence, nor any reasonable foothold for a supposition, that William Shakespeare was not happy in his wife from the beginning of his marriage till his death. He even interlined in his will, with loving consideration, a bequest to her of his second-best bed, which obviously was the bed that they had shared together. The best bed in a house like his was that in the guest chamber.
On the second of February, 1584-85-1585 in modern reckoning--there was entered in the parish register at Stratford the baptism of “Hamnet and Judeth, Births of sonne and daughter to William Shakspere.” They Judith
Shakespeare. were named after a husband and wife who were among neighbours and old friends-Hamnet and
Judith Sadler, bakers. This friendship is attested by the fact that Hamnet Sadler left in his will thirty-six shillings and eightpence for a ring for William Shakespeare.
In the same year, 1585, John Shakespeare—who had still been marked as absent from the fourteen meetings of
the Town Council in 1583, and from those Troubles eight of the nine meetings in 1584, and the nine
in 1585, for which there is a record of attendance - in 1585 John Shakespeare was proceeded against, in October, in the Court of Record, by John Browne, who sued for a distraint for debt. He sued also on the twenty-ninth of January, 1586, and again on the sixteenth of February, when John Shakespeare's arrest was ordered, because there were no goods in his house to distrain upon—"quod predictus Johannes Shackspere nihil habet unde distringi possit.”
In whatever way John Shakespeare's eldest son was then earning his bread, he had at that time a wife and three little
ones to support; Susanna, not yet three years William old; the twins, Hamnet and Judith, a year old ;
and there was sore need that he should be for London. able to help also his distressed father and
mother. Then he-born artist-bethought himself, and resolved, at earliest in the spring of 1586, at the age of twenty-two, or in the next year at latest, to try whether he could not make his way to better fortune if he looked for work in London with the players. These plain facts, cleared of tattle and conjecture,* show
Shakespeare leaves Stratford
* Some of the tattle about Shakespeare's earlier life, omitted from the text, may here be dropped into a footnote. The first edition of Shakespeare after the four folios of 1523, 1632, 1664, and 1685, was that in seven volumes octavo published in 1709-10 by Nicholas Rowe, who prefixed 'to it a life of Shakespeare, the first that had been attempted. Rowe acknowledged a particular obligation to Thomas Betterton for the most considerable part of the passages in Shakespeare's lise. Betterton died in the year 1710. This great actor, son of an under-cook to Charles I., was born some fifty years after
at once why Shakespeare sought, in 1586 or 1587, to try his fortune in the form of work for which his powers were best fitted.
It may be that, after the spring of 1586, William Shakespeare struggled on at Stratford-upon-Avon for another year.
Shakespeare had left Stratford to try his fortune in London. Betterton felt, and he displayed upon the stage, the genius of the poet in a time of French-classical influence when Shakespeare was but little understood. Any stories about Shakespeare that he could have picked up in Stratsord would have been worth little enough though tales of yesterday, as all know who have lived in villages and little country towns. They were worth less than nothing as shreds from the small talk of a century. Other scraps of tradition are taken from John Aubrey, who was born ten years after Shakespeare's death and lived until 1697. Aubrey had valuable qualities, but as a retailer of anecdotai gossip he was of as poor authority as any modern quidnunc of the clubs. Other notes of local tradition about Shakespeare are in a memorandum book compiled by the Rev. John Ward, Vicar of Stratford-on-Avon. Notes were compiled by a visitor to Stratford Church in 1693, who took William Castle, parish clerk and sexton of that year, for his informant. That Shakespeare's father was a considerable dealer in wool" comes from Rowe. There is no strict evidence that he had any trade but that of glover. In small towns, how. ever, then as now, it was hard to get a living by a single trade. John Shakespeare would have taken any honest way of making money that was open to him. If he used for his own good the four acres of pasture-land at Asbies, or if he turned to account any other meadowland, he would most likely have had some sheep whose wool he could sell after shearing time. “Considerable dealer” in wool is phrase of the time of a false sense of dignity, when it was thought prudent to magnify or mystify the calling of anyone who was of the kindred of a man whom the polite world honoured with its attention. These mean little pomposities belong to the weak side of the period between the close of the English Commonwealth and the rise of the French Revolution. Aubrey says in his MSS., now in the Ashmolean Museum, that " in his younger years Shakespeare had been a schoolmaster in the country,” giving this on the authority of “Mr. Beeston." Malone argued, from acquaintance with law phrases shown in Shakespeare's plays, that the poet, when he left school, worked in an attorney's office ; and in 1859 Lord Chancellor Campbell followed the same arguments in a put lished letter to J. P. Collier, entitled “Shakespeare's Legal Acquirements