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evil in such a disproportion to induce him to oppose the union.
His will had been prepared as long before its actual date as 25th January, 1615-16, and this fact is apparent on the face of it: it originally began “ Vicesimo quinto die Januarij,” (not Februarij, as Malone erroneously read it) but the word Januarij was subsequently struck through with a pen, and Martij substituted by interlineation. Possibly it was not thought necessary to alter vicesimo quinto, or the 25th March might be the very day the will was executed: if it were, the signatures of the testator, upon each of the three sheets of paper of which the will consists, bear evidence (from the want of firmness in the writing) that he was at that time suffering under sickness. It opens, it is true, by stating that he was “in perfect health and memory,” and such was doubtless the case when the instrument was prepared in January, but the execution of it might be deferred until he was attacked by serious indisposition, and then the date of the month only might be altered, leaving the assertion as to health and memory as it had originally stood. What was the nature of Shakespeare's fatal illness we have no satisfactory means of knowing’, but it was probably not of long duration, and if when he subscribed his will he had really been in health, we are persuaded that at the age of only fifty-two he would
? The Rev. John Ward's Diary, to which we have before referred, contains the following undated paragraph :
“ Shakespeare, Drayton, and Ben Jonson, had a merie meeting, and, itt seems, drank too hard, for Shakespear died of a fevour there contracted.”
What credit may be due to this statement, preceded as it is by the words “ it seems,” implying a doubt on the subject in the writer's mind, we must leave the reader to determine. That Shakespeare was of sober, though of companionable habits, we are thoroughly convinced : he could not have written seven-andthirty plays (not reckoning alterations and additions now lost) in five-andtwenty years had he been otherwise ; and we are sure also, that if Drayton and Ben Jonson visited him at Stratford, he would give them a free and hearty welcome. We have no reason to think that Drayton was at all given to intoxication, although it is certain that Ben Jonson was a bountiful liver.
have signed his name with greater steadiness and distinctness. All three signatures are more or less infirm and illegible, especially the two first, but he seems to have made an effort to write bis best when he affixed both his names at length at the end, “By me William Shakspeare.”
We hardly need entertain a doubt that he was attended in his last illness by his son-in-law, Dr. Hall, who had then been married to Susanna Shakespeare more than eight years: we have expressed our opinion that Dr. and Mrs. Hall lived in the same house with our poet, and it is to be recollected that in his will he leaves New Place to his daughter Susanna. Hall must have been a man of considerable science for the time at which he practised, and he has left behind him proofs of his knowledge and skill in a number of cases which had come under his own eye, and which he described in Latin : these were afterwards translated from his manuscript, and published in 1657 by Jonas Cooke, with the title of “Select Observations on English Bodies 3," but the case of Dr. Hall's father-in-law is not found there, because unfortunately the “observations” only begin in 1617. One of the earliest of them shows that an epidemic, called “the new fever," then prevailed in Stratford and “invaded many.” Possibly Shakespeare was one of these; though, had such been the fact, it is not unlikely that, when speaking of “the Lady Beaufou” who suffered under it on July 1st, 1617, Dr. Hall would have referred back to the earlier instance of his father-in-law. He does advert to a
s For a copy of this curious and interesting work, we gladly express our obligations to Mr. William Fricker, of Hyde, near Manchester,
* He several times speaks of sicknesses in his own family, and of the manner in which he had removed them: a case of his own, in which he mentions his age, accords with the statement in his inscription, and ascertains that he was thirty-two when he married Susanna Shakespeare in 1607. “Mrs. Hall, of Stratford, my wife,” is more than once introduced in the course of the volume, as well as “ Elizabeth Hall, my only daughter.” Mrs. Susanna Hall died in
tertian ague of which, at a period not mentioned, he had cured Michael Drayton, (“ an excellent poet,” as Hall terms him) when he was, perhaps, on a visit to Shakespeare. However, Drayton, as formerly remarked, was a native of Warwickshire, and Dr. Hall may have been called in to attend him elsewhere.
We are left, therefore, in utter uncertainty as to the immediate cause of the death of Shakespeare at an age when he would be in full possession of his faculties, and when in the ordinary course of nature he might have lived many years in the enjoyment of the society of his family and friends, in that grateful and easy retirement, which had been earned by his genius and industry, and to obtain which had apparently been the main object of many years of toil, anxiety, and deprivation.
Whatever doubt may prevail as to the day of the birth of Shakespeare, none can well exist as to the day of his death. The inscription on his monument in Stratford church tells us,
“ Obiit Anno Domini 1616.
Ætatis 53. die 23 Apr.”
And it is remarkable that he was born and died on the same day of the same month, supposing him, as we have every reason to believe, to have first seen the liglit on the 230 April, 1564. It was most usual about that period to mention the day of death in inscriptions upon tomb-stones, tablets, and monuments ; and such was the case with other members of the Shakespeare family. We are thus informed that his
1649, aged 66, and was buried at Stratford. Elizabeth Hall, her daughter by Dr. Hall, (baptized on the 21st Feb. 1607-8,) and grand-daughter to our poet, was married on the 22d April, 1626, to Mr. Thomas Nash, (who died in 1647) and on 5th June, 1649, to Mr. John Bernard, of Abingdon, who was knighted after the Restoration. Lady Bernard died childless in 1670, and was buried, not at Stratford with her own fainily, but at Abingdon with that of her second husband. She was the last of the lineal descendants of William Shakespeare.
wife, Anne Shakespeare, “departed this life the 6th day of Augu. 16235:” Dr. Hall“ deceased Nove. 25. A'. 16356;" Thomas Nash, who married Hall's daughter, “died April 4, A. 1647?:" Susanna Hall “deceased the 11th of July, A'. 16498.” Therefore,
5 The inscription, upon a brass plate, let into a stone, is in these terms:-We have to thank Mr. Bruce for the use of his copies of them, with which we have compared our own.
“ Heere lyeth interred the Body of Anne, Wife of William Shakespeare, who departed this life the 6th day of Augu. 1623. being of the age of 67 yeares.
Ubera, tu mater, tu lac, vitamq; dedisti,
Væ mihi : pro tanto munere saxa dabo.
Exeat ut Christi corpus imago tua.
Clausa licet tumulo mater, et astra petit.” 6 The following is the inscription commemorating him.
“Heere lyeth the Body of Iohn Hall, Gent: Hee marr : Susanna ye daughter and coheire of Will: Shakespeare, Gent. Hee deceased Nove. 25. Ao, 1635, aged 60.
Hallius hic situs est, medica celeberrimus arte,
Expectans regni gaudia læta Dei.
In terris omnes, sed rapit æqua dies.
Et vitæ comitem nunc quoq; mortis habet.”
“Heere resteth ye Body of Thomas Nashe, Esq. He mar. Elizabeth the daug. and heire of Jolin Halle, Gent. He died Aprill 4. A. 1647, Aged 53.
Fata manent omnes hunc non virtute carentem,
Ut neque divitiis abstulit atra dies;
Si peritura paras per male parta peris.” 8 The inscription to her runs thus :
"Heere lyeth ye body of Susanna, Wife to Iohn Hall, Gent: ye daughter of William Shakespeare, Gent. Shee deceased ye 11th of July, Ao. 1649. aged 66."
Dugdale has handed down the following verses upon her, which were originally engraved on the stone, but are not now to be found, half of it having been cut away to make room for an inscription to Richard Watts, who died in 1707.
“ Witty above her sexe, but that's not all;
To weepe with her that wept for all ?
Them up with comforts cordiall.
When thou hast ne’re a teare to shed.”
although the Latin inscription on the monument of our great dramatist may, from its form and punctuation, appear not so decisive as those we have quoted in English, there is in fact no ground for disputing that he died on 230 April, 1616. It is quite certain from the register of Stratford that he was interred on the 25th April, and the record of that event is placed among the burials in the following manner:
1616. April 25, Will' Shakspere, Gent."
Whether from the frequent prevalence of infectious disorders, or from any other cause, the custom of keeping the bodies of relatives unburied, for a week or more after death, seems comparatively of modern origin; and we may illustrate this point also by reference to facts regarding some of the members of the Shakespeare family. Anne Shakespeare was buried two days after she died, viz. on the 8th Aug., 1623°: Dr. Hall and Thomas Nash were buried on the day after they died'; and although it is true that there was an interval of five days between the death and burial of Mrs. Hall, in 1649, it is very possible that her corpse was conveyed from some distance, to be interred among her relations at Stratford?. Nothing would be easier than to accumulate instances to prove that in the time of Shakespeare, as well as before and afterwards, the custom was to bury persons very shortly subsequent to their decease. In the case of our poet, concluding that he expired on the 230 April, there was, as in the
9 The following is copied from the register :
“ 1623. August 8. Mrs. Shakspeare.” | Their registrations of burial are in these terms :
“ 1635. Nor. 26. Johannes Hall, medicus peritissimus."
“ 1647. Aprill 5. Thomas Nash, Gent.” ? The register contains as follows :
“ 1649. July 16. Mrs. Susanna Hall, widow.”