Washington Irving's Room.
The " Red Horse Hotel".
The room in which the dramatist was born is low and ugly in appearance, yet what apartment in the most magnificent palace is of such value to the human race! I found it difficult, however, to think of Shakespeare as a child amid these surroundings. The tread of millions has replaced the echoes of his childish feet; the walls and even the ceiling are so thickly covered with the names of visitors that the apartment has become a roughly bound collection of illustrious autographs; and Shakespeare's spirit seems to have departed from the place, like the bright fire that once gleamed upon the hearth, beside which the young poet and his mother used to sit, unconscious of his mighty destiny.
Room Where Shakespeare Was Born.
A portrait of the immortal bard is here exhibited, but I have never met a traveler who liked it, or who could quite persuade himself that it bears much resemblance to the author of "Hamlet" and "Othello." But what reputed likeness ever could do justice to our ideal of this sublime interpreter of human nature ? No single cast of features seems appropriate to one whose genius was so universal. Instinctively we feel that Shakespeare's face should be as varied in expression as his mind: assuming now the cunning of Iago, and now the sweetness of Ophelia; the wild hilarity of Petruchio, the innocence of Cymbeline; the low buffoonery of Falstaff, or the thoughtfulness of Hamlet. Truly, if only arduous study and exceptional genius can portray their characters, what likeness can depict, as we imagine him, their versatile and unsurpassed creator? What brought me nearest to the personality of Shakespeare was a short walk across the fields to the quaint, thatch-roofed cottage of his wife, Anne Hathaway. It was the hour of sunset as I lingered here, and nightingales and thrushes were singing in the elms and hedges, as sweetly, doubtless, as they did when Shakespeare whispered to Anne Hathaway the story of his love. What an incomparable suitor must he have been who has given to the world that most adorable of lovers, Romeo! Whatever may be said about great geniuses making poor husbands, there can be little question of their fascination in those delightful hours of uncertainty and novelty, known as courtship and the honeymoon. Anne Hathaway's cottage is a characteristic farmhouse of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and even apart from its historical associations would be interesting; but with what reverence we step upon its old stone floor, when we remember it has echoed to the tread of Shakespeare! Into its fireplace his glorious eyes have, no doubt, gazed, and on the uncouth, time-worn bench which stands there still, he often sat beside the woman whom he wooed and won. The very timbers in the ceiling, visible to-day, have heard his whispers of impassioned love. What words they must have been, we can imagine from the experiences of Portia, Rosalind, and Juliet. One stands here lost in wondering what sort of a woman this Anne Hathaway was, whom this incomparable genius loved and married, who was the mother of his children, and whom he lived with constantly, until obliged to go away to London to seek fame and fortune. As then, emerging from the cottage, I took my farewell of its picturesque, flower-laden walls, I kept repeating to myself the stanzas, in which the enamoured poet is said to have addressed the nightingales and thrushes in these very fields:
Portrait Of Shakespeare.
Anne Hathaway's Cottage.
The Interior Of Anne Hathaway's Cottage.
"Would ye be taught, ye feathered throng, With love's sweet notes to grace your song, To pierce the heart with thrilling lay, Listen to mine Anne Hathaway ! She hath a way to sing so clear. Phoebus might wondering stop to hear. To melt the sad, make blithe the gay, And nature charm, Anne hath a way;
She hath a way, Anne Hathaway, To breathe delight Anne hath a way".