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modern improvements upon former ways of living; and even at the period referred to, the apartments in noblemen's houses and in palaces were so neglected that they became offensive to the senses, and perfumes were burned in them, a substitute
a very poor one for the use of broom, and soap, and water. Stratford, also, like most country villages three centuries ago, was composed chiefly of thatched cottages and small farm houses, the meaner of which were without chimneys and glazed windows, and most of which would
be pronounced uninhabitable nowadays by people of the means and condition of those by whom they were then inhabited. But, after the fashion of those times, in the midst of these hovels were a few fine mansions, and a large and beautiful stone church ; and over the fertile, gently rolling country round were scattered the stately country houses of the gentry. A fine stone bridge of fourteen arches had been built here across the Avon by Sir Hugh Clopton, who also built the Great House, a mansion afterward called New Place, and in which the readers of these Memoirs are interested.
What was the education of William Shakespeare were a question indeed of interest to all reasonable creatures, and, to those who think that education makes great men, of singular importance. But of his teachers we know nothing, save of one - his father. What were his mother's traits of character, and whether by maternity and training she had transmitted any of them to her son, we cannot tell. In which ignorance there is a kind of bliss to those people who have taken up the novel notion of the day, that men of mark derive their mental and their moral gifts, not from the father, but the mother.
Mary Arden may have been such a woman as it would please us to imagine the mother of William Shakespeare ; but the limits of our knowledge oblige us to look upon him during childhood only under the tutelage of the father, whose good sense and strong character are shown by his rapid and steady rise of fortune and advancement among his townsmen. His son was taught, we may be sure, to fear God and honor the King,* and in the words of the Catechism, to learn and labor truly to get his own living, and do his duty in that state of life to which it had pleased God to call him ; for that was the sum and substance of the hometeaching of our forefathers. For book instruction, there was the Free Grammar School of Stratford, well endowed by Thomas Jolyffe in the reign of Edward IV., - forever therefore let his name be honored ! — where, unless it differed from all others of its kind, he could have learned Latin and some Greek. Some English, too; but not much; for English was held in scorn by
** Moriamur pro rege nostro; " as applicable to Elizabeth of England as to Maria Theresa of Hungary.
VOL. I. b
the scholars of those days, and long after. The only qualifications for admission to this school were residence in the town, seven years of age, and ability to read. That the sons of the chief alderman of Stratford went there, there could have hardly been a doubt, even had not Betterton learned the tradition that William had been bred there for some time. The masters of the school between 1572 and 1580 were Thomas Hunt, the parson of the neighboring village of Luddington, and Thomas Jenkins. Had either the Englishman or the Welshman known when they breeched Shakespeare primus that he would have his revenge in making the one sit for his portrait as Holofernes, and the other as Sir Hugh Evans, they would doubtless have taken out their satisfaction grievously in advance upon the spot. Could any one have told them, with power of conviction upon his tongue, what he was whom they were flogging, they would have dropped the birch and fed the school in awe unspeakable. There is better discipline, even for a dull or a vicious boy, than beating ; but, aside from question of the kind of training to which he was subjected, it was well perhaps for William Shakespeare that his masters knew only what he then was. Insight of the future would not always bring good fortune.
At school Shakespeare acquired some knowledge of Latin and of Greek. For not only does Ben Jonson tell us that he had a little of the former and less of the latter, but his very frequent use of Latin derivatives in their radical sense shows a somewhat thoughtful and observant study of that language ; and although he has left fewer traces of his personal feelings and experience upon his works than any modern writer, he wrote one passage bearing upon this subject, and telling a plain story. Warwick, pleading to King Henry IV. in extenuation of the fondness of Prince Hal for wild asso
“ My gracious lord, you look beyond him quite. The prince but studies his companions, Like a strange tongue; wherein, to gain the language, 'Tis needful that the most immodest word Be looked upon and learn'd; which once attain'd, Your highness knows, comes to no farther use, But to be known and hated."
Second Part of King Henry IV., Act IV. Sc. 4. Genius does not teach facts; and every man who has himself been through the curriculum will see that the writer of that passage had surely gone, at least, part through the same course before the days of expurgated classics. Jonson's phrase, “small Latin and less Greek," has been generally taken as meaning a mere smattering of the first, and nothing at all of the second; but without sufficient reason, in my opinion. So does Edward Bathurst, B. D., in his memoir of his friend Arthur Wilson, the author of The Inconstant Ladie, written before 1646, say that, “ He had little skill in the Latin tongue and less in the Greek, a good readiness in the French and some smattering in the Dutch ;'
"* and yet, according to the same authority, Wilson had been a fellow-commoner of Trinity College, Oxford, where he had been regular and studious; and by his own account he could, at a pinch, speak Latin. Little and much are comparative terms, the value of which can be determined only when we know the standard according to which they are used. Jonson's scholarship, though not profound or various, seems to
"Character of Wilson,” &c., in the Appendix to “ The Inconstant Ladie.” Ed. 1814, p. 156.
| “Observations of God's Providence in the Tract of my Life.” Ibid. p. 128. have been very thorough and exact, and Bathurst was probably a man entirely given up to study. Both, we may be sure, would speak very lightly of the Latin and Greek of many men now-a-days who have well earned their degree of Master of Arts, and who can make good use of their academical acquirements.
From report and from the evidence of his works we may reasonably conclude that William Shakespeare read, as boys read, the easier classical Latin authors at Stratford Grammar School, and added to them the favorite of that day, old Baptista Mantuan, whom he quotes in Love's Labour's Lost, and that he retained enough of what he learned to have thereby a finer insight and more thorough mastery of English, if not to enjoy Virgil and Terence in the original. It is true, as Farmer has shown, that his works furnish evidence undeniable that in preparing himself to write upon Greek and Roman subjects he used the existing translations of the classics. But how many who for years have spent a part of every day in the study of Greek and Latin do the same, when college exercises are driven out of mind by the duties and labors for which college studies are but discipline, and turn laboriously from translation to original only when they wish to examine some particular passage closely ! When, in The Taming of the Shrew, Tranio quotes a passage from Terence, he is inaccurate, and gives it not as it appears in the text of the Latin dramatist, but as it is misquoted in the Latin Grammar of William Lilly, whose accidence was in common use among our forefathers when Shakespeare was a boy.* But, even if this showed that Shakespeare had not read Terence, which
* “Quid agas ? nisi ut te redimas captum quam queas
Minimo.” Eunuchus, Act I. Sc. 1. " Redime to captum quam queas minimo."
The Taming of the Shrew, Act I. Sc. 1.