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much as is paid for the same fare in the north of England, we again took a post-chaise for Stratford-on-Avon, distant eight miles. Our minds the whole way were filled with the recollections of Shakspeare. On the left side of the road, at the distance of a mile or two, stands the mansion of Lord Lucy, from whose park the young bard stole the deer, and on whom he subsequently wrote a lampoon, which had the effect to drive its author instead of its subject from the village. It however proved to be the source of his fame and fortune.
At six o'clock in the evening, we arrived at the RedHorse, and took lodgings for the night. A copy of Washington Irving's sketch of Stratford-on-Avon was lying upon the table in the parlour of the hotel. It was presented by a Virginian,* on condition that when it is worn out, another will be substituted at his expense. The essay was written in an adjoining room of the same inn, and we had the pleasure of occupying the author's bed-chamber. A poker in one of the rooms is inscribed with the words_ Geoffrey Crayon's Sceptre.” This compliment was paid by a traveller, who astonished the landlady by requesting the loan of the instrument for a day or two. :
Notwithstanding the fatigues of the day, we did not feel like going to bed, without having first paid our respects to the birth-place of Shakspeare, and a guide was accordingly procured to conduct us to the memorable spot, at the distance of less than half a mile from the Red-Horse. The old-fashioned two story house, with a wooden frame, filled in with brick and mortar, and a white plastered front, stands upon one of the principal streets of Stratford. It has two small rooms on the ground floor. The one in front is occupied as a butcher's stall, which was lighted up and hung with meat. Back of this is the kitchen, which is much more classical in its appearance. It has remained without alteration since the days of the poet, who used to play when a child upon the hearth of the large fire-place. One of the old chairs stood in the chimney corner till within a few years, when it was borne away by sacrilegious hands, and carried to the continent. The lady who is the present tenant of the house, conducted us up a narrow flight of steps, to the chamber in
* I subsequently saw much of this estimable gentleman at Paris, where he is diving into the depths of mathematics and the science of engineering, laying the solid foundations of his future fame, and qualifying himself for an extended sphere of usefulness in his own country. VOL. I.
which the favoured child of genius was born. This apartment is of a piece with the rest of the mansion, small in dimensions, and antique in its construction. The walls are entirely covered over with the names and inscriptions of visitants, among whom are numbrred kings and dignitaries of all descriptions a proud compliment to literary eminence. There is no other furniture in the room than a solitary table, on which lies an Album containing the residue of signatures and sentiments, which the walls would not hold. It appeared from an inspection of the pages, that a large proportion of the visiters were from our country; and the names of several of our friends were recognized. But pilgrims from all parts of the globe have come hither, to bend at the shrine of the divine bard.
He was buried in the village church, half a mile from his birth-place, in a retired part of the village. The pretty Gothic edifice, ornamented with antique turrets, stands within a few paces of the right bank of the Avon. It is approached by an avenue, leading through ranges of trees, forming in summer an arch of foliage. At this season, the walk was strewed with the leaves of autumn, which rustled beneath our feet, and perhaps deepened the solemnity of the cemetery.
The church was locked, and it was too late to think of the key till morning. A most delightful hour was passed in rambling over the church-yard, and along the rural banks of the Avon, which is a much finer stream than I had anticipated. Its width is perhaps fifty yards, bordered with rich meadows, which still retained much of the verdure of summer. It winds silently by the church and cemetery, as if unwilling to break the repose of the dead. The shore is shaded with a curtain of trees and wild shrubbery. Just beJow is a water-fall, the murmur of which returns softened upon the ear. The evening of our visit was perfectly tranquil ; and while reposing under aged yews, or reclining upon tomb-stones, we could exclaim with as much truth as poetry
“How sweet the inoonlight sleeps on yonder bank”— for her orb was nearly full, and shed a mild radiance, better suited to the objects around, than the glare of day. It scarcely requires the dust of Shakspeare to give interest to such a scene ; but with the wide range of associations, which his name awakens, the charms of the place are absolutely enchanting. Proud as is the monument to the memory of the bard in Westminster Abbey, this rural and sequestered spot, upon the margin of his native stream, and hallowed by his ashes, is worth more than the most splendid decorations of art.
The remnant of a long evening was passed at a museum, kept by the same old lady who is described in Irving's Sketch. It is filled with relics of various kinds, which are said to have belonged to Shakspeare ; but the authenticity of the articles is so doubtful, and the cabinet has been opened under such suspicious circumstances, as to destroy the pleasure of the visiter. A sudden rise in the rent of the house where the bard was born, compelled Mrs. Hart, who claims to be a descendant of the family, to quit it and set up for herself. She took with her all the articles in her possession, and has since made copious additions, some of which have very strong marks of being apochryphal. Her manner is not the most winning, admitting of no sceptical suggestions, and challenging the admiration of the spectator in every particular. She is also too much in the habit of decrying the merits of her rival, who holds what may be called the homestead of the poet, and between whom there is a strong competition. Mrs. Hart is on the whole rather an original character. To increase the profits of her establishment, and to strengthen her claims to relationship with the great poet, she has written a drama called “the Battle of Waterloo," a copy of which she seemed anxious to palm upon
· We slept merely to dream of Shakspeare, and woke at 6 o'clock the next morning to revisit his tomb. A bookseller in the village, who is familiar with all its localities, was so polite as to obtain the key and accompany us to the church. He has become acquainted with several of our countrymen in their visits to Stratford ; and his devotion of two or three hours to us, who were entire strangers to him, furnishes additional evidence, that a laudable spirit of hospitality prevails in England, and that many of the people entertain the kindest feelings towards the United States. He remarked, that the Americans generally who had visited the place, appeared to take a more lively interest in its associations, than even the English themselves.
The church in which the great poet of nature sleeps, has a goodly number of monuments ; but the eye involuntarily passes over all others, and rests upon one alone. Noblemen and kings might slumber unnoticed by his side. His tomb stands against the northern wall, near the altar. It is a handsome marble structure, supported by Corinthian pils lars, and surmounted with the figures of two children, one of which holds a spade, and the other a funeral torch. At top is a death's head, in the taste of the age when the monument was erected; and below, a bust of the poet, which is said to be an admirable likeness. The inscription is too familiar to my readers to bear a citation Malone undertook to improve the tomb, by giving a complexion to the marble image of the poet, and by clothing it with the costume he used to wear. His eyes were painted of a hazel colour, and his locks and beard auburn. The public taste soon corrected these ill-judged alterations, and the original simplicity of the monument has as far as possible been restored. In front of the tomb, a plain slab in the pavement, with a half obliterated inscription, covers the dust of the bard ; and near him repose the ashes of his wife and family. A delightful tranquillity reigns around, and the sleep of the grave is unbroken, save by the gentle murmurs of the Avon, which die in faint echoes among the columns and arcbes of the church..
At 9 o'clock we took places in the coach for Oxford, the seat of the University. In leaving Stratford, the great road from Birmingham crosses the Avon on a handsome stone bridge. The banks of the river are in both directions extremely rural and quiet. In ascending a hill for several miles, the village and little church of Stratford continue in sight, to which the traveller bids a reluctant farewell.
The whole of our ride this day was through a rich and beautiful country, forming parts of Warwickshire and Oxfordshire. Numerous streams flow through fields highly cultivated, and bordered by forests, presenting a great variety of scenery, to which a bright autumnal day imparted an additional charm. Ten or twelve miles from Oxford, we passed through Woodstock, which was once a place of importance, the scene of interesting transactions, and the resort of many of the nobility. At present it is remarkable only for the manufacture of gloves of the best quality, materials for which covered all the fences in the neighbourhood. The town is pleasantly situated on a steep and rocky declivity. Many of the houses are built upon the cliffs and upon the terraces, which are better suited to the ancient magnificence than the present condition of the place.
Near Woodstock, we had a view of Blenheim House,
the seat of the Duke of Marlborough, whose ancestor re. ceived it from the government, as a reward for his distinguished services. It is seated on an eminence, at a little distance from the road, whence it appears to good advantage. The grounds are rich and beautiful, and the exterior of the building is imposing. It is reckoned one of the “lions" of England; but so many shows of the kind had already been examined, that Blenheim was passed without a visit.
At 2 o'clock we reached Oxford. Immediately after our arrival a guide was employed to conduct us over the University. We commenced the tour of observation by going through the Bodleian Library, which is one of the largest in the world, containing five or six hundred thousand volumes. It is peculiarly rich in rare and valuable manuscripts. The books occupy three spacious halls, a centre and two wings, which are neat and convenient, but have little to boast of in point of architectural beauty, furniture, or ornaments of any kind. A few portraits decorate the walls at the entrance. Connected with the library is an extensive picture gallery, which occupies three other large halls filled with paintings, statues, architectural models, and other curiosities. The superintendent of the department is an intelligent, clever man, with a good deal of taste in the arts, and very polite to strangers. He detained us more than an hour in pointing out the best pictures and the most interesting objects committed to his charge. Of these, a bronze statue of the Earl of Pembroke, which occupies a conspicuous situation, and half a dozen models of Greek and Roman edifices, are most attractive to the eye of the visitant. Some of the pictures are by the first masters ; but generally speaking, the collection cannot be considered very rare.
Our next visit was to the Radcliff Library, which is in the vicinity. It is a magnificent rotunda, eighty or a hundred feet high, and forming the most prominent object about Oxford. Its architecture is as beautiful as its proportions are grand. It was founded by Doctor Radcliff, at an expense of £100,000, and is appropriated to natural history and medicine. An observatory is connected with it. The inside corresponds in grandeur with the exterior. A succession of round rooms rise one above the other from the bottom to the top of the building. Alcoves for the books are arranged in a circle about the open area. Statues, portraits, and antique curiosities are among the ornaments. In the handsomest