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penalty of 401. to be forfeited to the bishop of the diocese of Worcester, if it were thereafter found that there existed any lawful impediment to the solemnization of matrimony between William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway, of Stratford. It is not known at what church the ceremony was performed, but certainly not at Stratford-upon-Avon "o, to which both the parties belonged, where the bondsmen resided, and where it might be expected that it would have been registered. The object of the bond was to obtain such a dispensation from the bishop of Worcester as would authorize a clergyman to unite the bride and groom after only a single publication of the banns ; and it is not to be denied, or concealed, that the whole proceeding seems to indicate haste and secrecy. However, it ought not to escape notice that the seal used when the bond was executed, although damaged, has upon it the initials R. H.,
firmiter obligari Ricardo Cosin, generoso, et Roberto Warmstry, notario publico, in quadraginta libris bonæ et legalis monetæ Angliæ solvendis eisdem Ricardo et Roberto, heredibus, executoribus, vel assignatis suis, ad quam quidem solutionem bene et fideliter faciendam obligamus nos, et utrumque nostrum, per se pro toto et in solido, heredes, executores, et administratores nostros firmiter per presentes, sigillis nostris sigillatos. Datum 28 die Novembris, anno Regni Dominæ nostræ Elizabethæ, Dei gratia Angliæ, Franciæ, et Hiberniæ Reginæ, Fidei Defensoris, &c. 25°.
“ The condition of this obligation ys suche, that if hereafter there shall not appere any lawfull lett or impediment, by reason of any precontract, consan. guinitie, affinitie, or by any other lawfull meanes whatsoever, but that William Shagspere one thone partie, and Anne Hathwey, of Stratford in the Dioces of Worcester, maiden, may lawfully solemnize matrimony together, and in the same afterwards remaine and continew like man and wiffe, according unto the lawes in that behalf provided : and moreover, if there be not at this present time any action, sute, quarrel, or demaund, moved or depending before any judge, ecclesiastical or temporal, for and concerning any suche lawfull lett or impediment : and moreover, if the said William Shagspere do not proceed to solemnization of marriadg with the said Anne Hathwey without the consent of her frinds : and also if the said William do, upon his owne proper costs and expenses, defend and save harmles the Right Reverend Father in God, Lord John Bushop of Worcester, and his offycers, for licencing them the said William and Anne to be maried together with once asking of the bannes of matrimony betwene them, and for all other causes which may ensue by reason or occasion thereof, that then the said obligation to be voyd and of none effect, or els to stand and abide in fulle force and vertue.'
The marks and seals of Sandells and Richardson. 10 Malone conjectured that the marriage took place at Weston, or Billesley, but the old registers there having been lost or destroyed, it is impossible to ascertain the fact. A more recent search in the registers of some of the other churches in the neighbourhood of Stratford has not been attended with any success. Possibly, the ceremony was performed in the vicinity of Worcester, but the mere fact that the bond was there executed proves nothing. An examination of the registers at Worcester has been equally fruitless.
as if it had belonged to Richard Hathaway, the father of the bride, and had been used on the occasion with his consenti.
Considering all the circumstances, there might be good reasons why the father of Anne Hathaway should concur in the alliance, independently of any regard to the worldly prospects of the parties. The first child of William and Anne Shakespeare was christened Susanna on 26th May, 1583?. Anne was seven or eight years older than her young husband, and several passages in Shakespeare's plays have been pointed out by Malone, and repeated by other biographers, which seem to point directly at the evils resulting from unions in which the parties were “misgraffed in respect of
The most remarkable of these is certainly the wellknown speech of the Duke to Viola, in “Twelfth Night," (Act ii. sc. 4,) where he says,
“Let still the woman take
Than women's are.” – Vol. ii. p. 672.
“ Then, let thy love be younger than thyself,
Or thy affection cannot hold the bent.” Whether these lines did or did not originate in the author's reflections upon his own marriage, they are so applicable to his own case, that it seems impossible he should have written them without recalling the circumstances attending his hasty union, and the disparity of years between himself and his wife. Such, we know, was the confirmed opinion of Coleridge, expressed on two distinct occasions in his lectures, and such we think will be the conclusion at which most readers will arrive :-"I cannot hesitate in believing,” observed Coleridge in 1811-12, " that in this passage from "Twelfth Night,' Shakespeare meant to give a caution, arising out of his own experience; and, but for the fact of the disproportion
I Rowe tells us (and we are without any other authority), that Hathaway was " said to have been a substantial yeoman,” (“ Some Account of the Life,"
&c. 1709, p. v.) and he was most likely in possession of a seal, such as John Shakespeare had used, with his own initials, in 1579. 2 The fact was registered at Stratford Church in this form :
“ 1583. May 26. Susanna daughter to William Shakspere.”
in point of years between himself and his wife, I doubt much whether the dialogue between Viola and the Duke would have received this turn!.” It is incident to our nature that youths, just advancing to manhood, should feel with peculiar strength the attraction of women whose charms have reached the fullblown summer of beauty; but we cannot think that it is so necessary a consequence, as some have supposed, that Anne Hathaway should have possessed peculiar personal advantages“. It may be remarked, that poets have often appeared comparatively indifferent to the features, if not to the figures of their mistresses, since, in proportion to the strength of the imaginative faculty, they have been able to supply all physical deficiencies . Coleridge was aware, if not from his own particular case, from recorded examples, that the beauty of the objects of the affection of poets was sometimes more fanciful than real; and his notion was, that Anne Hathaway was a woman with whom the boyish Shakespeare had fallen in love, perhaps from proximity of residence and frequency of intercourse, and that she had not any peculiar recommendations of a personal description. The truth, however, is, that we have no evidence either way; and when Oldys remarks upon the 93rd sonnet, that it “ seems to have been addressed by Shakespeare to his beautiful wife, on some suspicion of her infidelity,” it is clear that he was under an entire mistake as to the individual : the lines,
“ So shall I live supposing thou art true,
May still seem love to me,”' &c.—Vol. vi. p. 631. were most certainly not applied to his wife; and Oldys could have had no other ground for asserting that Anne Hathaway
3 We derive this opinion from our own notes of what fell from Coleridge upon the occasion in question. The lectures, upon which he was then engaged, were delivered in the Scots’ Corporation Hall, Crane Court, Fleet Street. He repeated the same sentiment in public in 1818, and we have more than once heard it from him in private society.
4 The Rev. Mr. Dyce, in hís brief and judicious Life of Shakespeare, prefixed to the Aldine edition of his Poems, 12mo, 1832, p. xi. It comprises all the main points of the biography of our poet.
5 When the Rev. Mr. Dyce observes, p. xi, that “it is unlikely that a woman devoid of personal charms should have won the youthful affections of so imaginative a being as Shakespeare,” he forgets that the mere fact that Shakespeare was an “imaginative being” would render “personal charms" in his wife less necessary to his happiness.
6 In his MS. notes to Langbaine, in the British Museum, as quoted by Steevens : see “Malone's Shakspeare, by Boswell,” Vol. xx. p. 306.
was “beautiful,” than general supposition, and an erroneous belief that a sonnet like that from which we have made a brief quotation had Shakespeare's wife for its object.
The present may not be an improper opportunity for remarking (if, indeed, the remark might not be entirely spared, and the reader left to draw his own inferences) that the balance of such imperfect information as remains to us leads us to the opinion that Shakespeare was not a very happy married man. The disparity in age between himself and his wife from the first was such, that she could not “sway level in her husband's heart;" and this difference, for a certain time at least, became more apparent as they advanced in years: may we say also, that the peculiar circumstances attending their marriage and the birth of their first child, would not tend, even in the most grateful and considerate mind, to increase that respect which is the chief source of confidence and comfort in domestic life? To this may be added the fact (by whatever circumstances it may have been occasioned, which we shall consider presently) that Shakespeare quitted his home at Stratford a very few years after he had become a husband and a father, and that although he revisited his native town frequently, and ultimately settled there with his family, there is no proof that his wife ever returned with him to London, or resided with him during any of his lengthened sojourns in the metropolis : that she may have done so is very possible ; and in 1609 he certainly paid a weekly poor-rate to an amount that may indicate, that he occupied a house in Southwark capable of receiving his family'; but we are here, as upon many other points, compelled to deplore the absence of testimony. We put out of view the doubtful and ambiguous indications to be gleaned from Shakespeare's Sonnets, observing merely, that they contain little to show that he was of a domestic turn, or that he found any great enjoyment in the society of his wife. That such may have been the fact we do not pretend to deny, and we willingly believe that much favourable evidence upon the point has been lost : all we venture to advance, on a question of so much difficulty and delicacy, is that what remains to us is not, as far as it goes, perfectly satisfactory. In relation to this point the celebrated passage
7 We have noticed this matter more at length hereafter, with reference to the question, whether Shakespeare, in 1609, might not be rated to the poor of Southwark in respect of his theatrical property, and not for the dwelling-house which he occupied.
in “The Comedy of Errors,” A. v. sc. 1, respecting a wife's jealousy, and the manner in which it sometimes interfered with domestic happiness, may possibly (we only say possibly) have an individual application :
“ The venom clamours of a jealous woman
Unquiet meals make ill digestions,”' &c.—Vol. i. p. 413. Placed where it is, perhaps hardly called for, and written with the spirit in which it seems to have been dictated, the poet may have had his own case in his thoughts, and it is on this account alone that we advert to it.
A question was formerly agitated, which the marriage bond, already quoted, tends to set at rest. Some of Shakespeare's biographers have contended that Anne Hathaway came from Shottery, within a mile of Stratford, while Malone argued that she was probably from Luddington, about three miles from the borough. There is no doubt that a family of the name of Hathaway had been resident at Shottery from the year 1543, and continued to occupy a house there long after the death of Shakespeare 8: there is also a tradition in favour of a particular cottage in the village ; and, on the whole, we may perhaps conclude that Anne Hathaway was of that family. She is, however, described in the bond as “of Stratford,” and
, we may take it for granted, until other and better proof is offered, that she was resident at the time in the borough, although she may have come from Shottery'. Had the parties seeking the licence wished to misdescribe her, it might have answered their purpose. better to have stated her to be of any other place, rather than of Stratford.
8 Richard Hathaway, alias Gardener, of Shottery, had a daughter named Johanna, baptized at Stratford church on 9th May, 1566; but there is no trace of the baptism of Anne Hathaway. A Ri. Hathwaye (so spelt) was one of the writers in the pay of Henslowe, but it is not known that he was any relation.
9 From an extract of a letter from Abraham Sturley, dated 24 Jan. 1598, printed in “ Malone's Shakspeare, by Boswell,” Vol. ii. p. 266, it appears that our great dramatist then contemplated the purchase of “some odd yard-land or other at Shottery.” This intention perhaps arose out of the connexion of his wife with the village.