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cepend on the due proportion and quality of the nervous organism, whatever may be the outward influences. Mozart, when four years old, began to write music which was found to be in strict accordance with the rules of composition, although he had received no instruction in them
; and Shakspere's magnificent productions read as if they had emanated from him like splendid intuitions—the giant strokes of genius.
To form a great poet or artist, requires, therefore, a fine constitution and an active temperament; a large brain, or full endowment of the propensities and moral sentiments, with a large perceptive region, and good, large, or active imaginative and constructive faculties. Truth, simplicity, and force are the result, as seen in the beautiful creations of genius. This beauty in art is the effect of mental growth. Poetry is the language of passion idealised and beautified painting and sculpture are silent poetry, embodying and surrounding form and colour with refined sentiment; while music is the utterance of poetic and passionate expression.
All races write their history in their greatest national works, and in which we see prominent features of their character. The idols of the East; the pyramids and sphynxes of Egypt; the temples of the Greeks, in their simple grandeur; the arch of the Romans, in its solid strength ; and the railways, as well as the political institutions of England, are all epic passages in history, and mark great epochs in the progress of nations. Shakspere is one of the highest phases of the English character. All that we know of his private history, stamps him so thoroughly the Englishman, that we enjoy his massive, vital, and tender creations, with a hearty sense of their nationality: his courageous independence; his desire for fame ; his love of work, and his success; his wise return from the applause of theatres and courts, to the loved woodlands and meadows of Warwickshire, watered by the slow moving Avon, on the banks of which he had often wandered to seek inspiration : even the escapades of his youth, his ardent love for the fair and gentle Anne Hathaway, his chase of those "dappled fools," the deer of Fulbrook, together with his bold venture upon the metropolis,-all combine to arrest attention, win the heart's sympathy, and impart a deep interest in the heritage of the Shaksperes and the Ardens. While his biographers wonder where he obtained
his “ little Latin and less Greek,” his knowledge of law, history, biography, &c., I shall endeavour to evolve thé mystery of his racial character and his genius from the pedigree of his parents, and offer it as the best solution of many of the problems which have puzzled those who taste and judge of the waters of the river, yet neglect the sources in the springs flowing from the distant mountain tops.
HISTORY and HERITAGE of the ARDENS.
ANCESTORS OF SHAKSPERE.
NE of the most illustrious exainples of heritage, of trans
mission of qualities, aptitudes and capacity, mental and physical, is shown in the history of some of the prominent members of the maternal ancestry of Shakspere—the Ardens of Warwickshire. No one has yet attempted to trace the maternal ancestry of the poet beyond the immediate progenitors of Mary Arden ; nor has any biographer attached due importance to the question of heritage.
We have strong historic evidence of the origin of the surname of Arden, and are also justified in assuming that there is strong presumptive evidence in the possession of property in and around the Forest of Arden, and in the name itself, that the root of the family is the same. There are not the like difficulties surrounding the maternal ancestry of the poet as in the case of the Shaksperes, for, as Mr. Halliwell observes, notwithstanding the laborious researches repeated for a century, the history of our poet's descent is still miserably imperfect. If genealogical inquiries are ever worthy of pursuit, they must have some value in the reasonable curiosity to ascertain from what class of society the greatest author of the world arose.” It is not only to ascertain the class, but the quality of the class that I aim to investigate.
Of the ancestors of Shakspere's father but little is known, beyond the fact that John Shakspere was the son of a yeoman and farmer of Snitterfield, tenant of Richard Arden of Wilmcote, the residence of the Ardens.
The naine of Shakspere, spelled in various ways, appears repeatedly in the pages of a valuable illuminated black and red letter volume in the possession of Mr. Staunton, of Longbridge House, near Warwick, entitled a Register of the Guild of St. Anne of Knolle, from 1407 to its dissolution
in 1535. This Guild of St. Anne had a priest who said masses for them ;
à chantry priest, paid by the Guild. Some branches of the Shaksperes must have been in good circumstances, and they no doubt paid good fees to get their prayers recited, and their names recorded in these venerable registers of vellum-pious mementoes of their missals and their money. From the interesting pages of the volume I copied the following names of Shakspere :1460. Pro anima Ricardi Shakípere et Aliciæ uxor ejus, de
Shakespeire & Isabella his wife ; and Ricardus Schak-
Johannes Shakespeyre, of Rowington, and his wife.
pray for his foul: and in the same year Thomas Shak-
for them. 19 of Hen. VII.—Orate pro anima Isabelle Shakspere, quon
dam Priorissa de Wroxale.
of Balishalle. Also, Christophorus Shakespere, and
his wife ; Johannes Shakspere and Johanna his wife. We thus find that the Shaksperes were located in Warwickshire, not far from Stratford and Wilmcote, as early as the fourteenth century; and the name appears at various times in connection with families and transactions at Warwick, Rowington, Wroxall, Hampton, Lapworth, Kineton, and other parts of the county. There are a few families of the name still existing--one at Warwick, others in Staffordshire, and elsewhere ; but there is no satisfactory evidence that they are descended from the poet's family. George Shakspere, of Henley in Arden, claims to be so related.
The little that is known of John Shakspere, father of the poet, is highly favourable to his character, both as illustra
tive of his good nature, in his kindness to his brother Henry, as well as of his public spirit; for, when appointed to the office of bailiff, he was a warm patron of the players, the best public teachers at the time ; and he would probably take his son William both to see the performances at the Guildhall, and to witness the revels, at Kenilworth ; becoming thereby an educator of the youth for his future brilliant career as the greatest dramatist the world has yet
John Shakspere, when young, was no doubt comely in person, and fair to look on ; for he courted and won the beautiful Mary Arden, the youngest and favourite daughter and executor of Robert Arden; or, as she was tersely designated in the drafts of the grant of arms in 1696 and '99, one of the heyrs of Robert Arden of Wilmcote, Gent.”
The identity of Robert Arden as the grandson of Robert the third brother of the knight of the body-guard of Henry VII., has not yet been clearly proved, but that the family was the same is of the highest probability. There was no other family of Ardens, and the shield of the first draft of arms existing in the Herald's office makes them agree. Wilmcote and New Hall are both in the Forest of Arden. We find, too, that on 17th July, 1550, a deed was executed by Robert Arden, maternal grandfather of Shakspere, conveying lands and tenements in Snitterfield, then in the occupation of Richard Shakspere, in trust for three daughters, after the death of Robert and Agnes Arden.
Ten days previously he had executed a similar deed conveying other property in Snitterfield, for the benefit of three other daughters, Jocose, Alicia, and Margaret. The Ardens had been landed proprietors for more than a century before the marriage of Shakspere's grandfather, Robert Arden ;owning lands cut off, no doubt, from larger estates for younger sons, as in the case of Arden and Bagot, Arden and Adderley, Bracebridge and Willington. These possessions
may be taken as strong evidence of the relationship to the great Arden family. Besides this, Mary Arden was recognised in the Herald's office as belonging to the family. Although the notes of Dethick, King of Arms, are not to le relied on as to Shakspere's “antecessors,” yet the error consists in ascribing the honours and rewards as conferred by Henry VII. to the “late antecessors” of John Shakspere; whereas they were given to the ancestor of the Ardens. This incidentally confirms the descent of Mary Arden. It is reasonable to conclude that Clarenceaux would not have declared Robert Arden a gentleman if he had not been such ; and therefore, other things considered, a descendant of the Saxon Earles of Mercia. The mother of the poet may, therefore, when the collateral evidence is fairly and candidly reviewed, be traced by heritage through a long line of ancestors up to the time of the AngloSaxon Earls ;* many of them famous for wealth, position, and influence; and moreover, celebrated for their noble integrity, firmness, patriotism, and firm determination to sustain and hold fast by whatever they considered righteous and just; characteristics in living descendants of Shakspere's sister. We may hence with some reason assume that Mary Arden was not only handsome in form and fair in feature, but that she was mainly instrumental in transmitting to her son those exquisite sensibilities, moral and mental peculiarities in capacity and character, which have made all the world worshippers of the memory of Shakspere.
The mother of the poet, as a descendant of the Ardens, has a pedigree older and longer than the longest line of living kings; and withal a history as worthy and as noble as the most famous of the world's proudest aristocracy. Mothers often exercise great influence in moulding both the physical constitution, and the mental character of their sons ;
and a brief sketch of the Ardens will illustrate what has been already said on the heritage of genius.
During the reign of Edward the Confessor, Aluuinus, the father of Turchil
, was Vicecomes, earl or deputy, of Warwick, for the king of Mercia. Turchil, the son, was Vicecomes of Warwick at the time the Normans invaded England, and was the last of the powerful Saxon Earls, and
* Rohund, Earle of Warwick, had a daughter Felicia, or Phillis, married to Guido or Guy, son of Siward, Baron of Wallingford. They had a son named Reyburn, father of Wegeot, or Weyth the Humid. He had a son named Ufa (about 975), who
became a benefactor to the monks of Evesham. His son was Wolgeot, whose hereditary successor was Wigod or Wigot, married to Ermenilda, a sister of Leofric, Earl of Mercia, husband of Lady Godiva, and founder of the monastery at Coventry. The son of Wigod was Alwin, Aluuinus, or Alwinus, contemporary with Edward the Confessor Alwin was father of Turchil, the founder of the great Arden family, and governed Warwick for King William the Conqueror, till about 1070.