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guzzled in honour of Shakspeare, and the representatives of Shakspeare in the place have been left in their poverty. There seems to be some odd association of ideas in the minds of Englishmen on the subject of doing honour to genius. To reward warriors, and lawyers, and politicians,-places, titles, and estates are given. To reward poets and philosophers, the property which they honestly, and with the toil of their whole lives create, is taken from them, and that which should form an estate for their descendants to all posterity, and become a monument of fame to the nation, is conferred on booksellers. The copyright of authors, or, in other words, the right to the property which they made, was taken away in the reign of Queen Anne, “ for the benefit of literature,”—so says the Act. Let the same principle be carried out into all other professions, and we shall soon come to an understanding on the subject. Take a lord's or a squire's land from him and his family for ever, after a given number of years, for the benefit of aristocracy,-take the farmer's plough and team, his harrows and his corn, for the benefit of agriculture,-take the millowners' mills, with all their spinning-jennies, and their cotton, and their wool, and their silk, and their own new inventions, for the benefit of manufacturing-take the merchant's ships and their cargoes, the shopkeeper's shop and his stores, the lawyer's parchment and his fees, the physician's and surgeon's physic and fees, for the benefit of commerce, trade, law, and physic: and let the clergy suffer no injury of neglect in this respect ; let their churches, and their glebes, and tithes, be taken for the benefit of religion,-let them all go shares with the authors in this extraordinary system of justice and encouragement, and then the whole posse will soon put their heads together, and give back to the author his rights, while they take care of their own.
But till this be done, so long as the children and descendants, and nearest successors of the author are robbed by the State, while the poet and philosopher crown their country with glory, and fill it with happiness, and their country in return brands their children with disgrace, and fills them with emptiness—while they go in rags, and the bookseller in broadcloth,-in leanness, and the bookseller, endowed by the State with the riches of their ancestors, in jollity and fat, - so long let those who are anxious to do honour to the glorious names of our literature, honour them with some show of common sense and common feeling. Honour Shakspeare, indeed ! Has he not honoured himself sufficiently? What says John Milton, another glorious son of the Muse ?
“What needs my Shakspeare for his honour'd bones,
Hast built thyself a live-long monument."
achievements of pure intellect and seven-gallon-barrel stomachs of anniversary topers? Between the still labours of a divine imagination, and the uproarious riot of a public feed when half-seas over?
Let us suppose, for a moment, that the spirit of Shakspeare could hear the biccupings of the crew assembled in his name, to honour him forsooth! If he were permitted to descend from the serene glory of his seventh heaven, and appear at the door of their diningroom with the meagre descendants of the Shakspeare family crowding sadly behind him, what are the indignant words that he would address to the flushed throng of his soi-disant worshippers ? They have been already addressed to like ears by the great Master of love and of the philosophy of true honour. “I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink ; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Inasmuch as ye did it not to the least of these, ye did it not to me.”* No, the sycophantic humbugs never did it to Shakspeare. What cares he, in his seventh heaven of glory and of poetry, for their guzzlings? What have they to do with him or his honour? Is it not a precious imposture, to make a feast to a man's honour, and not to invite to it his nearest relatives, especially when they live at the next door? In the name of the national reputation, let this wretched and egotistic farce be put down by the good sense of the British public! If these people will pot honour Shakspeare by honouring his family, let them at least abstain from insulting their poverty and their neglect by this public parade, and this devouring of joints.
Hear what Robert Southey says :—“The last descendants of Milton died in poverty. The descendants of Shakspeareț are living in poverty, and in the lowest condition of life. Is this just to these individuals ? Is it grateful to those who are the pride and boast of their country? Is it honourable or becoming to us as a nation, holding-the better part of us assuredly, and the majority affecting to hold—the names of Shakspeare and Milton in veneration ? To have placed the descendants of Shakspeare and Milton in respectability and comfort, in that sphere of life where, with a full provision for our natural wants and social enjoyments, free scope is given to the growth of our intellectual and immortal part, simple justice was all that was required-only that they should have possessed the perpetual copyright of their ancestors' works-only that they should not have been deprived of their proper inheritance." I
The time is evidently not yet come for setting this great matter right; for doing this great act of justice towards the teachers of the world and glorifiers of our national name ; for executing this due redress. We have yet much to learn from those divine minds, whom, in Southey's words, we profess to venerate. But still the public mind is not destitute of its glimmerings of the truth, and its responsibilities. Since I wrote the pages quoted, numerous individuals have written to inquire if nothing can be done to remove the oppro• Matthew xxv. 43–45.
+ Such are Southey's words. 1 Colloquies, Vol. II. p. 312.
brium of our treatment to the Shakspeare family. Many visitors have desired to see the boy whom I pointed out, and have made him presents, but he still remains unprovided for.* A clergyman wrote to me from the west of England, expressing the interest he felt in this youth, whom he had seen at Stratford, and his anxious desire to have a subscription raised to educate him, and put him into some honourable way of life. He begged me to make a move, in which he would zealously cooperate, to interest a sufficient number of literary and influential individuals to agitate the question, and commence the subscription. I made the attempt, but in vain. Some parties gave professions which ended in nothing, others which began in nothing ; some doubted the chance of success, and some successfully chanced to doubt. The Countess of Lovelace, the worthy representative of another great bard, expressed the readiest and most zealous desire to move all those within the reach of her influence in the matter. But, in a word, it did not succeed. The honour of Shakspeare lay too much on the national tongue instead of on the heart, yet to procure justice to the living members of his family.
Let us still trust that that time will come. I will not believe that this great and intellectual nation, which has given an estate and titles to the family of Marlborough, and the same to the family of Wellington, will refuse all such marks of honour to the Shakspeare family. Shall the heroes of the sword alone be rewarded ? Shall the heroes of the pen, those far nobler and diviner heroes, be treated with a penniless contempt? In this nation, the worship of military honours is fast subsiding, the perception of the greatness and beneficence of intellect is fast growing. We are coming to see that it is out of our immortal minds, and not out of our swords and cannons, that our highest, purest, and most imperishable glory has grown and will grow. The people every day are more and more coming to this knowledge, and making it felt by Government and the world. The money which is spent in visiting the trumpery collected as his at Stratford, would have purchased a large estate for the descendants of the Shakspeare family. That has not been done, and never will be done ; but a penny a-piece from every person in this kingdom, who has derived days and months of delight from the pages of Shakspeare, would purchase an estate equal to that of Strathfieldsaye, or of Blenheim. What a glorious tribute would this be from the people of England to their great dramatic poet—the greatest dramatic poet in the world! How far would it rise above the tributes to violence and bloodshed! The tribute of a nation's love to pure and godlike intellect! This estate should not be appropriated on the feudal principle of primogeniture; should not be the estate of one, but of the family: should be vested in trustees, chosen by the people, to educate and honourably settle in the world every son and daughter of the Shakspearian family; and to support and comfort the old age of the unfortunate and decrepit of it. That it should not encourage idleness and a mischievous dependence, all such persons, when educated and endowed with a sufficient sum to enable
• Visits to Remarkable Places, Vol. I. p. 98, (3d edition.)
them to make their way in the world, should be left so to make their way. The nation would then have discharged its parental duties towards them, and they could expect no more. They should be educated to expect no more, and more should not be extended to them, except in case of utter misfortune or destitution, and then only on a scale that should be in itself no temptation.
Such an estate, founded by the people, would be the noblest monument ever yet erected to any man, or on any occ on. Sh speare has a decent monument at Stratford, and an indifferent one in Westminster Abbey; this would be one worthy of him and of the nation which produced him. It would take away from us a melancholy opprobrium, and confer on him and the British people an equal glory. But though such a magnificent event, we fear, is very
far distant, it is a pleasure to be able to state, that the house in which the poet was born has been purchased, as well as the adjoining houses, so as to be able to isolate the birthplace, and make it more secure from fire. Four tenements, adjoining the birthplace on the western side, were purchased by the Stratford Committee, some years ago, for 8201., and have been paid for by degrees. The portion of the property known as the birthplane, including the Swan and Maidenhead Inn, was purchased at public auction in 1847, by the Stratford and London Committees, for 3,0001., and conveyed in trust to Lord Carlisle, Mr. Thomas Amyott, Mr. Payne Collier, Dr. Thomas Thomson, of Leamington; and Mr. Flower of Stratford and other gentlemen are trustees for the former purchases.
Since then, Mr.John Shakspeare, the Orientalist, who claims to be descended from an ancestor of the poet, has munificently paid into the Stratford Bank, in the name of nine local trustees, the sum of 2,5001., for the purpose of purchasing and taking down the buildings immediately adjoining the house, so as to carry out the plan of its secure isolation, and to put it into thorough repair. I understand that Mr. Shakspeare is desirous to have the whole house enclosed in a miniature Crystal Palace, to defend it from the destroying influences of the weather. The house is now shown to the public free of charge, but any one is at liberty to give a trifle towards the necessary expense of keeping it open to inspection.
The chief places connected with the name of Cowley are Barn-Elms and Chertsey, both in Surrey. Cowley is one of those poets who had a great reputation in his own time, but who at the present day are only read by those who are anxious to know the real history of the poetry of their country. He is so overloaded with the most outrageous conceits, and his whole system of versification is at once so affected, artificial, and yet rugged and often mean, that he has, in the midst of so much more genuine inspiration, fallen into almost utter neglect. Johnson, often unjust to our poets, can hardly be said to have been so to Cowley, when he says of him and the other metaphysical poets, that they were men of learning, and to show their learning was their whole endeavour ; but unluckily resolving to show it in rhyme, instead of writing poetry, they wrote only verses, and very often such verses as stood the trial of the finger better than of the ear; for the modulation was so imperfect, that they were only found to be verses by counting the syllables.". . . . From this account of their compositions it will be readily inferred, that they were not successful in representing or moving the affections. “ For these reasons,” Johnson adds, “that though in his own time considered of unrivalled excellence, and as having taken a flight beyond all that went before him, Cowley's reputation could not last. His character of writing was indeed not his own: he unhappily adopted that which was predominant. He saw a certain way to present praise ; and, not sufficiently inquiring by what means the