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A Contribution to the Tercentenary Commemoration of
the Poet's Birth.
Four years ago I was induced to give a very plain, matter-of-fact account of a tour which I took in Brittany. To my great surprise and pleasure it was most indulgently received by my literary friends, the critics. I accomplished, not only my primary object of passing my summer holiday with pleasure and profit, but also the secondary one of obtaining much unexpected praise. I have been ever since projecting another expedition, but something always prevented me, till last autumn, when my friend, Mr. Lovell Reeve, suggested a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon, and a little book à propos of the Tercentenary Festival in honour of Shakespere's birth. A love for the drama, and an especial veneration for the Father of it in England, are, I may fay, hereditary in my family. In the last century my grand-uncle, Robert Jephson, was one of those who endeavoured to revive the romantic drama of the Elizabethan era, and wrote several tragedies, amongst which was “The Count of Nar
bonne,” founded on Walpole's “Castle of Otranto," and “ Julia, or the Italian Lovers,” which long held possession of the stage. From my childhood, then, I have heard Shakespere discussed, extolled, acted, and quoted; and I was glad of an opportunity of visiting the place which is especially consecrated to his memory, and of adding my tiny grain to the volume of incense which will rise in his honour on his three hundredth birthday. The few facts of his life already known have been published over and over again ; but I thought that they might be so connected with the scene of his youth and the chosen retreat of his mature age, as to make a whole which might be suggestive of thought to those who shall visit Stratford next spring. I am the more bold to offer this little sketch to lovers of England's greatest poet, because, if, like Moses, my speech be weak and stammering, I am assisted by a coadjutor whose camera is almost as great a worker of wonders as was Aaron's rod.