“When Shakespeare was twenty-five he was part owner of the Blackfriar’s Theatre in London. There he spent his literary life, and there he was actor, dramatist, and manager. He became rich and returned occasionally to Stratford where he bought lands and built houses.
“If we can trust statues and paintings and writers, William Shakespeare had a kingly physique, light hazel eyes and auburn hair.”
“What about his death?” inquired Colonel Harris.
“Of his death,” said Gertrude, “we know little, save that the Vicar of Stratford wrote that Shakespeare, Drayton, and Ben Johnson had a merry meeting, possibly drank too much, and that Shakespeare died of a fever then contracted, on the anniversary of his birth, when he was fifty-two years old.”
“And where was he buried?” inquired Lucille.
“In the Stratford church,” answered Gertrude, and the carriages were driven up an avenue of arching lime trees. The old church, with its tall and graceful spire, reflected in the waters of the Avon, is a restful place for the body that contains the mightiest voice in literature. Near by also lie buried his wife and their children. A plain slab in the floor covers his remains.
Recently a new grave was dug near Shakespeare’s and the intervening wall fell in. A workman ventured to hold a lighted taper in death’s chamber, which revealed that the ashes of the immortal Shakespeare could be held in the palm of the hand. The Harris party drove back to Leamington to spend the night.
A SEARCH FOR IDEAS
Later on the Harrises spent considerable time in London staying at the Grand Hotel which occupies the site of the old Northumberland House on Trafalgar Square. They soon learned that the English matrons are devoted mothers, that they take long walks, dress their children simply, and that their daughters have fair complexions, are modest in manner, and are the pictures of health.
Many of the English women find time to study national questions, to organize “Primrose” and “Liberal Leagues,” and to vote on municipal affairs. Miss Helen Taylor and other cultivated women have been elected members of the London school board, and aided in temperance reform.
While Alfonso, Leo, Lucille, and May were absent studying the artistic life of the metropolis, Mr. and Mrs. Harris, Gertrude, and George spent most of the day planning for the future. Reuben Harris and his wife had repeatedly talked over the Harrisville affair, and their trips in London where so many generations had lived and passed away had given both clearer ideas of life.
“At best,” thought the colonel, “life seems short indeed.” More than once he admitted to his wife that his early privations had made his life in Harrisville selfish and inconsiderate, that the questions of higher civilization were involved in the vigorous efforts of humanity for a closer brotherhood, and that if God permitted him he would lend a helping hand.