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Hamlet Sadler, for they were considered as synonymous names, and therefore used indiscriminately,* appears to have been some relation of the Shakspeare family; he is one of the witnesses to Shakspeare's will, and is remembered in it in the following manner:-"Item, I give and bequeath to Hamlet Sadler twenty-six shillings eight-pence, to buy him a ring." Mr. Sadler died at Stratford in October, 1624, and is supposed to have been born about the year 1550. His wife was buried there March 23, 1613-14, and Mr. Malone conjectures that our poet was probably godfather to their son William, who was baptized at Stratford, February 5, 1797-8. In the Stratford Register are to be found entries of the baptism of six of Mr. Sadler's children, four sons and two daughters, William being the last but one.
An anecdote of Shakspeare, unappropriated to any particular period of his life, and which may with as much, if not more, probability, be ascribed to this stage of his biography, as to any subsequent era, has been preserved as a tradition at Stratford. A drunken blacksmith, with a carbuncled face, reeling up to Shakspeare, as he was leaning over a mercer's door, exclaimed, with much vociferation, "Now, Mr SHAKSPEARE, tell me, if you can,
The difference between a youth and a young man?"
a question which immediately drew from our poet the following reply: "Thou son of fire, with thy face like a maple,
The same difference as between a scalded and a coddled apple."
A part of the wit of this anecdote, which, says Mr. Malone, "was related near fifty years ago to a gentleman at Stratford, by a person then above eighty years of age, whose father might have been contemporary with Shakspeare," turns upon the comparison between the blacksmith's face and a species of maple, the bark of which, according to Evelyn, is uncommonly rough, and the grain undulated and crisped into a variety of curls.
It would appear, indeed, from a book published in 1611, under the title of "Tarleton's Jeasts," that this fancied resemblance was a frequent source of sarcastic wit; for it is there recorded of this once celebrated comedian, that, "as he was performing some part at the Bull in Bishopsgate-street, where the Queen's players oftentimes played,' while he was kneeling down to ask his father's blessing,' a fellow in the gallery threw an apple at him, which hit him on the cheek. He immediately took up the apple, and, advancing to the audience, addressed them in these lines:
'Gentlemen, this fellow, with his face of mapple,
So instead of an honest woman God hath sent him a drab.'
'The people,' says the relator, 'laughed heartily; for the fellow had a quean to his wife.""
Shakspeare was now, to all appearance, settled in the country; he was carrying on his own and his father's business; he was married and had a family around him; a situation in which the comforts of domestic privacy might be predicted within his reach, but which augured little of that splendid destiny, that universal fame and unparalleled celebrity, which awaited his future career.
In adherence, therefore, to the plan which we have announced, of connecting the circumstances of the times with our author's life, we have chosen this period of it, as admirably adapted for the introduction of a survey of country life and
Thus in the will of Shakspeare we read, "I give and bequeath to Hamlet Sadler;" when at the close, Mr Sadler as a witness writes his christian name Hamnet. See Malone's note on this subject, Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 135.
Reed's Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 159, note 1.
Malone's Historical Account of the English Stage, Shakspeare's Works p. lxxv.
manners, its customs, diversions, and superstitions, as they existed in the age of Shakspeare. These, therefore, will be the subject of the immediately following chapters, in which it shall be our particular aim, among the numerous authorities to which we shall be obliged to have recourse, to draw from the poet himself those passages which throw light upon the topics as they rise to view; an arrangegement which, when it shall have been carried, in all its various branches, through the work, will clearly show, that from Shakspeare, more than from any other poet, is to be collected the history of the times in which he lived, so far as that history relates to popular usage and amusement.
A View of Country-Life during the Age of Shakspeare-Its Manners and Customs-Rural Characters.
It may be necessary, in the commencement of this chapter, to remark, that rural life, in the strict acceptation of the term, will be at present the exclusive object of attention; a survey of the manners and customs of the metropolis, and of the superior orders of society, being deferred to a subsequent portion of the work. No higher character will, therefore, be introduced in this sketch than the Country Squire, constituting according to Harrison, who wrote about the year 1580, one of the second order of gentlemen; for these, he remarks, "be divided into two sorts, as the baronie or estate of lords (which conteineth barons and all above that degree), and also those that be no lords, as knights, esquires, and simple gentlemen. He has also furnished us, in another place, with a more precise definition of the character under consideration. "Esquire (which we call commonlie squire) is a French word, and so much in Latine as Scutiger vel Armige, and such are all those which beare armes, or armoires, testimonies of their race from whence they be descended. They were at the first costerels or bearers of the armes of barons, or knights, and thereby being instructed in martiall knowledge, had that name for a dignitie given to distinguish them from common souldiers called Gregarii Milities when they were together in the field." †
It is curious to mark the minute distinctions of gentlemen as detailed at this period, in the various books of Armorie or Heraldrie. The science, indeed, was cultivated, in the days of Shakspeare, with an enthusiasm which has never since been equalled, and the treatises on the subject were consequently multitudinous.
exclaims our poet; the aspirants, therefore, to this distinction were numerous, and in the "Gentleman's Academie; or, The Booke of St. Albans," published by Gervase Markham in 1595, which he says in the dedication was then absolutely "necessarie and behovefull to the accomplishment of the gentlemen of this flourishing ile—in the heroicall and excellent study of Armory," we find "nine sortes" and "foure maner" of gentlemen expressly distinguished.
"A gentleman of coat-armour, and those are three, one of the kings badge, another of lordship, and the third of killing a pagan.
* Holinshed's Chronicles. edit. of 1807, in six vol. 4to, vol. i. p. 276.
4 Holiushed, vol. i. p. 273,
Taming of the Shrew, act ii. se 1.
"A gentleman untriall : a gentleman Ipocrafet : a gentleman spirituall and temporall: there is also a gentleman spirituall and temporall.
"The divers maner of gentlemen :
"There are foure maner of gentlemen, to wit, one of auncestrie, which must needes bee of blood, and three of coate-armour, and not of blood as one a gentleman of coate-armour of the kings badge, which is of armes given him by an herauld: another is, to whome the king giveth a lordeshippe, to a yeoman by his letters pattents, and to his heires for ever, whereby hee may beare the coate-armour of the same lordeshippe: the thirde is, if a yeoman kill a gentleman, Pagan or Sarazen, whereby he may of right weare his coate-armour and some holde opinion, that if one christian doe kill an other, and if it be lawfull battell, they may weare each coatearmour, yet it is not so good as where the christian killes the Pagan."
We have also the virtues and vices proper or contrary to the character of the gentleman, the former of which are divided into five amorous and four sovereign : "the five amorous are these,-lordly of countenance, speech, wise in answere, perfitte in government and cherefull to faithfulnes: the foure soveraigne are these fewe, oathes are no swearing, patient in affliction, knowledge of his owne birth, and to feare to offend his soveraigne." The vices which are likewise enumerated as nine, are all modifications of cowardice, lechery, and drunkenness.
Of the very rare tract from which these extracts are taken, the following is the entire title-page:"The Gentleman's Academie; or, the Booke of St. Albans: containing three most exact and excellent Bookes the first of Hawking, the second of all the proper Termes of Hunting, and the last of Armorie: all compiled by Juliana Barnes, in the Yere from the Incarnation of Christ 1486. And now reduced into a better method, by G. M. London. Printed for Humphrey Lownes, and are to be sold at his shop in Paules Church-yard, 1595." This curious edition of the "Booke of St. Albans," accommodated to the days of Shakspeare, contains 95 leaves 4to. and I shall add the interesting dedication :
"To the Gentlemen of England:
"Gentlemen, this booke, intreting of Hawking, Hunting, and Armorie; the originall copie of the which was doone at St. Albans, about what time the excellent arte of printing was first brought out of Germany, and practised here in England:, which booke, because of the antiquitie of the same, and the things therein contained, being so necessarie and behovefull to the accomplishment of the gentlemen of this flourishing ile, and others which take delight in either of these noble sports, or in that heroicall and excellent study of Armory, I have revived and brought again to light the same which was almost altogether forgotten, and either few or none of the perfect copies thereof remaining, except in their hands, who wel knowing the excellency of the worke, and the rarenesse of the booke, smothered the same from the world, thereby to inrich themselves in private with the knowledge of these delights. Therfore I humbly crave pardon of the precise and judicial reader, if sometimes I use the the words of the ancient authour, in such plaine and homely English, as that time affoorded, not being so regardful, nor tying myself so strictly to deliver any thing in the proper and peculiar wordes and termes of arte, which for the love I beare to antiquitie, and to the honest simplicitie of those former times, I observe as wel beseeming the subject, and no whit disgracefull to the worke, our tong being not of such puritie then, as at this day the poets of our age have raised it to: of whom, and in whose behalf I wil say thus much, that our nation may only thinke herself beholding for the glory and exact compendiousnes of our language. Thus submitting our academy to your kind censures and friendly acceptance of the same, and requesting you to reade with indifferency, and correct with judgement; I commit you to God. G. M."
From this dedication we learn that the original edition of the Booke of St. Albans was as scarce towards the close of the sixteenth century as at the present day; that "few or none of the perfect copies" were to be obtained; for that those were in the hands of Bibliomaniacs who (like too many now existing) “smother'd them from the world." We have, therefore, every reason to conclude, from “the rarenesse (and consequent value) of the booke" of 1486, that the copy of Juliana's work in the library of Shakspeare. was the edition by Markham of 1595. I shall just add, that the copy now before me, was purchased at the Roxburgh sale, for 91. 19s. 6d. ! It is, notwithstanding, probable, from the peculiarities attending Markham's re-impression, that this sum, great as it may appear, will be exceeded at some future sale.
The attachment of Gervase Markham to the subjects which employed the pen of his favourite Prioress, is very happily introduced by Mr. Dibdin, while alluding to the similar propensities of the modern Markham, Mr. Haslewood. "Up starts Florizel, and blows his bugle, at the annunciation of any work, new or old, upon the diversions of Hawking, Hunting, or Fishing! Carry him through Camillo's cabinet of Dutch pictures, and you will see how instinctively, as it were, his eyes are fixed upon a sporting piece by Wouvermans. The hooded hawk, in his estimation, hath more charms than Guido's Madonna :-how he envies every rider upon his white horse!-how he burns to bestride the foremost steed, and to mingle in the fair throng, who turn their blue eyes to the scarcely bluer expanse of heaven! Here he recognises Gervase Markham, spurring his courser; and there he fancies himself lifting Dame Juliana from her horse! Happy deception! dear fiction! says Florizel-while he throws his eyes in an opposite direction, and views every printed book upon the subject, from Barnes to Thornton." Bibliomania, p. 729, 730.
The following very amusing description of "the difference twixt Churles and Gentlemen,” will prove an
That the character of the gentleman was estimated, in the reign of Elizabeth, according to this definition of the Prioress of Sopewell, we have consequently the authority of Markham to assert, who tells us, that the study of his modernised edition of St. Albans was still "behovefull to the accomplishment of the gentleman" of 1595.
The mansion-houses of the country-gentlemen were, in the days of Shakspeare, rapidly improving, both in their external appearance and in their interior comforts. During the reign of Henry the Eighth, and even of Mary, they were, if we except their size, little better than cottages, being thatched buildings, covered on the outside with the coarsest clay, and lighted only by lattices; when Harrison wrote, in the age of Elizabeth, though the greater number of manor-houses still remained framed of timber, yet he observes, "such as be latelie builded, are comonlie either of bricke or hard stone, or both; their roomes large and comelie, and houses of office further distant from their lodgings.' The old timber man
sions, too, were now covered with the finest plaster, which, says the historian, "beside the delectable whitenesse of the stuffe itselfe, is laied on so even and smoothlie, as nothing in my judgement can be done with more exactnesse :" † and at the same time, the windows, interior decorations, and furniture were becoming greatly more useful and elegant.
"Of old time our countrie houses," continues Harrison, "instead of glasse did use much lattise, and that made either of wicker or fine rifts of oke in chekerwise. I read also that some of the better sort, in and before the time of the Saxons, did make panels of horne insteed of glasse, and fix them in woodden calmes. But as horne in windows is now quite laid downe in everie place, so our lattises are also growne into lesse use, because glasse is come to be so plentifull, and within a verie little so good cheape if not better than the other. --The wals of our houses on the inner sides in like sort be either hanged with tapisterie, arras worke, or painted cloths, wherein either diverse histories, or hearbes, beasts, knots, and such like are stained, or else they are seeled with oke of our owne, wainescot brought hither out of the east countries, whereby the roomes are not a little commanded, made warme, and much more close than otherwise they would be. As for stooves we have not hitherto used them greatlie, yet doo they now begin to be made in diverse houses of the gentrie.-Likewise in the houses of knights, gentlemen, &c. it is not geson to behold generallie their great provision of Turkie worke, pewter, brasse, fine linen, and
adequate specimen of Markham's edition, will be appropriate to the subject in the text, and may be compared with the accurate reprint of the edition of W. De Worde by Mr. Haslewood.
There was never gentleman, nor churle ordained, but hee had father and mother: Adam and Eve had neither father nor mother, and therefore in the sonnes of Adam and Eve, first issued out both gentleman and churle. By the sonnes of Adam and Eve, to wit, Seth, Abell, and Caine, was the royall blood divided from the rude and barbarous, a brother to murder his brother contrary to the law, what could be more ungentlemanly or vile? in that, therefore, became Caine and al his ofspring churles, both by the curse of God, and his owne father. Seth was made a gentleman through his father and mother's blessing, from whose loynes issued Noah, a gentleman by kind and linage. Noah had three sonnes truely begotten, two by the mother, named Cham and Sem, and the third by the father called Japhet, even in these three, after the world's inundation, was both gentlenes and vilenes discerned, in Cham was grose barbarisme founde towardes his owne father in discovering his privities, and diriding from whence hee proceeded. Japhet the youngest gentlemanlike reproved his brother, which was to him reputed a vertue, where Cham for his abortive vilenes became a churle both through the curse of God and his father Noah. When Noah awoke, hee said to Cham his sonne knowest not thou how it is become of Caine the sonne of Adam, and of his churlelike blood, that for them all the worlde is drowned save eight persons, and wilt thou nowe begin barbarisme againe, whereby the world in after ages shall be brought to consummation? well upon thee it shall bee and so I pray the Great one it maye fall out, for to thee I give my curse, and withall the north part of the world, to draw thine habitation unto, for there shall it be where sorrow, care, colde, and as a mischievous and unrespected churle thou shalt live, which part of the earth shall be termed Europe, which is the country of churles. Japhet come hither my sonne, on thee will I raine my blessing, deare insteede of Seth: Adams sonne, I make thee a gentleman, and thy renowne shall stretch through the west part of the world, and to the end of the occident, where wealth and grace shall flourish, there shall be thine habitation, and thy dominion shall bee called Asia, which is the cuntrie of gentlemen. And Sem my sonne, I make thee a gentleman also, to multiply the blood of Abell slaine so undeservedlie, to thee I give the orient, that part of the world which shall be called Africa, which is the country of temperateres: and thus divided Noah the world and his blessings. From the of-spring of gentlemanly Japhet came Abraham, Moyses, Aaron and the Prophets, and also the king of the right line of Mary, of whom that only absolute gentleman Jesus was borne, perfite God and perfite man, according to his manhood king of the lande of Juda and the Jewes, and gentleman by his mother Mary princesse of coat armor." Fol. 44.
Holinshed, vol. i. p. 316.
+ Ibid p. 315.
thereto costlie cupbords of plate, worth five or six hundred or a thousand pounds, to be deemed by estimation."
The house of every country-gentleman of property included a neat chapel and a spacious hall; and where the estate and establishment were considerable, the mansion was divided into two parts or sides, one for the state or banqueting-rooms, and the other for the household; but in general, the latter, except in baronial residences, was the only part to be met with, and when complete had the addition of parlours; thus Bacon, in his Essay on Building, describing the houshold side of a mansion, says,
"I wish it divided at the first into a hall, and a chappell, with a partition betweene; both of good state and bignesse and those not to goe all the length, but to have, at the further end, a winter, and a summer parler, both faire: and under these roomes a faire and large cellar, sunke under ground: and likewise, some privie kitchins, with butteries and pantries, and the like." It was the custom also to have windows opening from the parlours and passages into the chapel, hall, and kitchen, with the view of overlooking or controlling what might be going on; a trait of vigilant caution, which may still be discovered in some of our ancient colleges and manor-houses, and to which Shakspeare alludes in King Henry the Eighth, where he describes His Majesty and Butts the physician entering at a window above, which overlooks the council-chamber. We may add, in illustration of this system of architectural espionage, that Andrew Borde, when giving instructions for building a house in his "Dictarie of Health," directs "many of the chambers to have a view into the chapel :" and that Parker, Archbishop of Can"if it please Her Majestie, she may come in through my terbury, in a letter, dated 1573, says, gallerie, and see the disposition of the hall in dynner-time, at a window opening thereunto." S The hall of the country-squire was the usual scene of eating and hospitality, at the upper end of which was placed the orsille or high table, a litle elevated above the floor, and here the master of the mansion presided, with an authority, if not a state, which almost equalled that of the potent baron. The table was divided into upper and lower messes, by a huge saltcellar, and the rank and consequence of the visitors were marked by the situation of their seats above, and below, the saltcellar; a custom which not only distinguished the relative dignity of the guests, but extended likewise to the nature of the provision, the wine frequently circulating only above the saltcellar, and the dishes below it being of a coarser kind than those near the head of the table. So prevalent was this uncourteous distinction, that Shakspeare, in his Winter's Tale, written about the year 1604, or 1610, designates the inferior orders of society by the term "lower messes."
Delkar, likewise, in his play called "The Honest Whore," 1604, mentions in strong terms the degradation of sitting beneath the salt: "Plague him, set him beneath the salt; and let him not touch a bit, till every one has had his full'cut."++ Hall too, in the sixth satire of his second book, published in 1597, when depicting the humiliated state of the squire's chaplain, says, that he must not
66 ever presume to sit above the salt:"
and Jonson, in his Cynthia's Revels, speaking of a coxcomb, says, "his fashion is, not to take knowledge of him that is beneath him in clothes. He never drinkes below the salt." See act i. sc. 2.
This invidious regulation appears to have extended far into the seventeenth century; for Massinger in his "City Madam," acted in 1632, thus notices it: