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quality is often the product of a hundred climates. The muff and the fan come together from the different ends of the earth. The scarf is sent from the torrid zone, and the tippet from beneath the pole. The brocade petticoat rises out of the mines of Peru, and the diamond necklace out of the bowels of Hindostan.
If we consider our own country in its natural prospect, without any of the benefits and advantages of commerce, what a barren, uncomfortable spot of earth falls to our share ! Natural historians tell us that no fruit grows originally among us besides hips and haws, acorns and pignuts, with other delicacies of the like nature. Our climate of itself, without the assistance of art, can make no further advances towards a plum than a sloe, and carries an apple to no greater perfection than a crab. Our melons, our peaches, our figs, our apricots and cherries, are strangers among us, imported in different ages, and naturalised in our English gardens. They would all degenerate and fall away into the trash of our own country if they were wholly neglected by the planter, and left to the mercy of our sun and soil.
Nor has traffic more enriched our vegetable world than it has improved the whole face of nature among us. Our ships are laden with the harvest of every climate ; our tables are stored with spices, and oils and wines ; our rooms are filled with pyramids of China, and adorned with the workmanship of Japan. Our morning's draught comes to us from the remotest corners of the earth. We repair our bodies by the drugs of America, and repose ourselves under Indian canopies. My friend, Sir Andrew, calls the vineyards of France our gardens, the spice islands our hot-beds, the Persians our silk weavers, and the Chinese our potters. Nature, indeed, furnishes us with the bare necessaries of life, but traffic gives us a great variety of what is useful, and at the same time supplies us with everything that is convenient and ornamental. Nor is it the least part of this our happiness that, whilst we enjoy the remotest products of the north and south, we are free from those extremities of weather that gave them birth; that our eyes are refreshed with the green fields of Britain
at the same time that our palates are feasted with fruits that rise between the tropics.
For these reasons there are not more useful members in a commonwealth than merchants. They knit mankind together in a mutual intercourse of good offices, distribute the gifts of nature, find work for the poor, add wealth to the rich, and magnificence to the great. Our English merchant converts the tin of his own country into gold, and exchanges his wool for rubies. The Mahometans are clothed in our British manufactures, and the inhabitants of the frozen zone warmed with the fleeces of our sheep.
When I have been upon the Exchange, I have often fancied one of our old kings standing in person, where he is represented in effigy, and looking down upon the wealthy concourse of people with which that place is every day filled. In this case, how would he be surprised to hear all the languages of Europe spoken in this little spot of his former dominions, and to see so many private men, who in his time would have been the vassals of some powerful baron, negociating like princes for greater sums of money than were formerly to be met with in the royal treasury! Trade, without enlarging the British territories, has given us a kind of additional empire. It has multiplied the number of the rich, made our landed estates infinitely more valuable than they were formerly, and added to them an accession of other estates as valuable as the lands themselves.
THE BIRTHPLACE OF SHAKESPERE.
PART I. To a homeless man, who has no spot on this wide world which he can truly call his own, there is a momentary feeling of something like independence and territorial consequence, when, after a weary day's travel, he kicks off his boots, thrusts his feet into slippers, and stretches them before an inn fire. Let the world without go as it may ; let kingdoms rise and fall, so long as he hath the wherewithal to pay his bill, he is for the time being the very monarch of all he surveys. The arm-chair is his throne, the poker his sceptre, the little parlour, some twelve feet square, his undisputed empire. It is a morsel of certainty snatched from the uncertainties of life ; it is a sunny moment gleaming out kindly on a cloudy day; and he who has advanced some way on the pilgrimage of existence knows the importance of husbanding even morsels and moments of enjoyment. “Shall I not take mine ease in mine inn ?" thought I, as I gave the fire a stir, lolled back in my elbowchair, and cast a complacent look about the little parlour of the Red Horse at Stratford-on-Avon.
The words of sweet Shakespere were just passing my mind as the clock struck midnight from the tower of the church in which he lies buried. There was a gentle tap at the door, and a chambermaid inquired with an hesitating air, whether I had rung. I understood it as a modest hint that it was time to retire. My dream of absolute dominion was at an end ; so abdicating my throne like a prudent potentate, to avoid being deposed, and putting the Stratford guide book under my arm as a pillow companion, I went to bed, and dreamed all night of Shakespere, the jubilee, and David Garrick.
I had come to Stratford on a poetical pilgrimage. My first visit was to the house where Shakespere was born, and where, according to tradition, he was brought up to his father's craft of wool-combing. It is a small, meanlooking edifice of wood and plaster, a true resting-place of genius, which seems to delight in hatching its offspring in by-corners. The walls of its squalid chambers are covered with names and inscriptions in every language; by pilgrims of all nations, ranks, and conditions, from the prince to the peasant; and present a simple but striking instance of the spontaneous and universal homage of mankind to the great poet of nature.
The house is shown by a garrulous old lady, in a frosty red face, lighted up by a cold, blue, anxious eye, and garnished with artificial locks of flaxen hair, curling from under an exceedingly dirty cap. She was peculiarly assiduous in exhibiting the relics with which this, like all
other celebrated shrines, abounds. There was the shattered stock of the very matchlock with which Shakespere shot the deer, on his poaching exploits. There, too, was his tobacco-box, which proves that he was a rival smoker of Sir Walter Raleigh ; the sword also with which he played Hamlet ; and the identical lantern with which Friar Laurence discovered Romeo and Juliet at the tomb. There was an ample supply also of Shakespere's mulberrytree, which seems to have as extraordinary powers of selfmultiplication as the wood of the true cross, of which there is enough extant to build a ship of the line.
The most favourite object of curiosity, however, is Shakespere's chair. It stands in the chimney nook of a small gloomy chamber, just behind what was his father's shop. Here he may many a ime have sat when a boy, watching the slowly revolving spit with all the longing of an urchin; or of an evening, listening to the cronies and gossips of Stratford, dealing forth churchyard tales and legendary anecdotes of the troublesome times of England. In this chair it is the custom of everyone that visits the house to sit; and mine hostess privately assured me, that, though built of solid oak, such was the fervent zeal of devotees, that the chair had to be new-bottomed at least once in three years. It is worthy of notice, also, in the history of this extraordinary chair, that it partakes something of the volatile nature of the flying chair of the Arabian enchanter; for, though sold some years back to a northern princess, yet, strange to tell, it has found its way back again to the old chimney corner.
I am always of easy faith in such matters, and am ever willing to be deceived, where the deceit is pleasant and costs nothing. I am, therefore, a ready believer in relics, legends, and local anecdotes of goblins and great men; and would advise all travellers who travel for their gratification to be the same. There is nothing like resolute good-humoured credulity in these matters; and on this occasion I went even so far as willingly to believe the claims of mine hostess to a lineal descent from the poet, when, unluckily for my faith, she put into my hands a play of her own composition, which set all belief in her consanguinity at defiance.
From the birthplace of Shakespere a few paces brought me to his grave. He lies buried in the chancel of the parish church, a large and venerable pile mouldering with age, but richly ornamented. It stands on the banks of the Avon, on an embowered point, and separated by adjoining gardens from the suburbs of the town. Its situation is quiet and retired; the river runs murmuring at the foot of the churchyard, and the elms which grow upon its banks droop their branches into its clear bosom. An avenue of limes, the boughs of which are curiously interlaced, so as to form in summer an arched way of foliage, leads up from the gate of the yard to the church porch. The graves are overgrown with grass ; the gray tombstones, some of them nearly sunk into the earth, are half-covered with moss, which has likewise tinted the reverend old building. Small birds have built their nests among the cornices and fissures of the walls, and keep up a continual flutter and chirping ; and rooks are sailing and cawing about its lofty gray spire.
In the course of my rambles I met with the gray-headed sexton, Edmonds, and accompanied him home to get the key of the church. He had lived in Stratford, man and boy, for eighty years, and seemed still to consider himself a vigorous man, with the trivial exception that he had nearly lost the use of his legs for a few years past. His dwelling was a cottage, looking out upon the Avon and its bordering meadows; and was a picture of that neatness, order, and comfort which pervade the humblest dwellings in this country. A low white-washed room, with a stone floor carefully scrubbed, served for parlour, kitchen and hall. Rows of pewter and earthen dishes glittered along the dresser. On an old oaken table, well rubbed and polished, lay the family Bible and Prayer-book, and the drawer contained the family library, composed of about half-a-score of well thumbed volumes. An ancient clockthat important article of cottage furniture-ticked on the opposite side of the room; with a bright warming-pan hanging on one side of it, and the old man's horn-handled Sunday cane on the other. The fireplace, as usual, was wide and deep enough to admit a gossip knot within its