Abbildungen der Seite

“But be contented; when that fell arrest

Without all bail shall carry me away." *

“Of faults concealed, wherein I am attainted.

“Which works on leases of short numbered hours."

[merged small][ocr errors]

“Why so large cost, having so short a lease ? "I

“So should that beauty, which you hold in lease,

Find no determination.” S.

* Death is the sheriff's officer, strict in his arrest, and will take no bail.

† This is the beginning of a love-letter, in the language of a vassal doing homage to his liege lord.

| Taxing an overcharge in the attorney's bill of costs.

§ The word “determination ” is always used by lawyers instead of “end.”


“Mine Eye and Heart are at a mortal war

How to divide the conquest of thy sight;
Mine Eye my Heart thy picture's sight would bar,
My Heart mine Eye the freedom of that right.
My Heart doth plead that thou in him dost lie
(A closet never pierced with crystal eyes),
But the Defendant doth that plea deny,
And says in him thy fair appearance lies.
To 'cide this title is impannelled
A quest of thoughts, all tenants to the Heart;

The clear Eye's moiety, and the dear Heart's part ;

As thus: mine Eyes' due is thine outward part,
And my Heart's right, thine inward love of heart."

I need not go further than this sonnet, which is so intensely legal in its language and imagery, that without a considerable knowledge of English forensic

supposed to have made a conquest of [i.e. to have gained by purchase] his mistress, his EYE and his HEART, holding as joint-tenants, have a contest as to how she is to be partitioned between them,-each moiety then to be held in severalty. There are regular Pleadings in the suit, the HEART being represented as Plaintiff and the EYE as Defendant. At last issue is joined on what the

nature of an inquest] is to be impannelled to 'cide [decide] and by their verdict to apportion between the litigating parties the subject matter to be divided. The jury fortunately are unanimous, and after due deliberation find for the Eye in respect of the lady's outward form, and for the HEART in respect of her inward love.

Surely Sonnet XLVI. smells as potently of the attorney's office as any of the stanzas penned by Lord Kenyon while an attorney's clerk in Wales.

Shakespeare's Will.

Among Shakespeare's writings, I think that attention should be paid to his Will, for, upon a careful perusal, it will be found to have been in all probability composed by himself. It seems much too simple, terse, and condensed, to have been the composition of a Stratford attorney, who was to be paid by the number of lines which it contained. But a testator, without professional experience, could hardly have used language so appropriate as we find in this will, to express his meaning.

Shakespeare, the greatest of British dramatists, appears to have been as anxious as Sir Walter Scott, the greatest of British novelists, to found a family, although he does not require all his descendants to “ bear the name and arms of Shakespeare." But, as far as the rules of English law would permit, he seeks to perpetuate in an heir male, descended from one of his daughters (his son having died in infancy, and there being no longer any prospect of issue male of his own), all the houses and lands he had acquired, which were quite sufficient for a respectable Warwickshire squire. His favourite daughter, Susanna, married to Dr. Hall, an eminent physician, was to be the stirps from which this line of male heirs was to spring; and the testator creates an estate in tail male,—with remainders over, which, but for fines and recoveries, would have kept the whole of his property in one male representative for generations to come.

The will, dated 25th March, 1616, a month before his death, having given legacies to various friends and relations, thus proceeds :

“ Item, I give, will, bequeath, and devise unto my daughter, Susanna Hall, for better enabling of her to perform this my will and towards performance thereof, all that capital messuage or tenement, with the appurtenances, in Stratford aforesaid, called the New Place, wherein I now dwell, and two messuages or tenements with the appurtenances, situate, lying, and being in Henley Street, within the borough of Stratford aforesaid ; and all my barns, stables, orchards, gardens, lands, tenements, and hereditaments whatsoever, situate, lying, and being, or to be had, received, perceived, or taken, within the towns, hamlets, villages, fields, and grounds of Stratfordupon-Avon, Old Stratford, Bishopton, and. Welcombe, or in any of them, in the said county of Warwick; and also all that messuage

or tenement, with the appurtenances, wherein one John Robinson dwelleth, situate, lying, and being in the Blackfriars in London, near the Wardrobe; and all other my lands, tenements, and hereditaments whatsoever ; to have and to hold all and singular the said premises, with their appurtenances, unto the said Susanna Hall, for and during the term of her natural life ; and after her decease, to the first son of her body lawfully issuing, and to the heirs males of the body of the said first son lawfully issuing; and for default of such issue, to the said second son of her body lawfully issuing, and to the heirs males of the body of the second son lawfully issuing; and for default of such heirs, to the third son of the body of the said Susanna lawfully issuing, and to the heirs males of the body of the said third son lawfully issuing; and for default of such issue, the same so to be and remain to the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh sons of her body, lawfully issuing one after another, and to the heirs males of the bodies of the said fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh sons lawfully issuing, in such manner as it is before limited to be and remain to the first, second, and third sons of her body, and to their heirs males; and for default of such issue, the said premises to be and remain to my said niece Hall, and the heirs males of her body lawfully issuing; and for default of such issue, to my daughter Judith, and the heirs males of her body lawfully issuing; and for default of such issue, to the right heirs of me the said William Shakespeare for ever."

[blocks in formation]

In his will, when originally engrossed, there was no notice whatever taken of his wife; but immediately after these limitations he subsequently interpolated a bequest to her in the following words :

it, withic , stables

“I give unto my wife my second best bed with the furniture.”

atsoerer, or taker,


The subject of this magnificent gift being only personal property, he shows his technical skill by omitting

in any of


« ZurückWeiter »