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splashed and mired traveller a hand. The country was still generally unenclosed; and all that could be done when the ruts became too deep for endurance was to essay a fresh track by the side of the old one. Some statutes indeed had been passed in the reign of Henry the Eighth, designed to improve certain thoroughfares of notorious badness, and an Act of a more general application had been passed in the reign of Queen Mary; but little or nothing had come of them. The description given in the preamble of the statute of 1555 remained still true: "Highways are now both very noisome and tedious to travel in, and dangerous to all passengers and carriages." We have not yet learnt to control our rivers, and it is still possible sometimes to see wide lakes extending over the land but this was a common Elizabethan spectacle. Often then, and many a time after, locomotion was completely intercepted by floods. Not so very seldom might it be said that the "contagious fogs"

Falling in the land,

Have every pelting river made so proud

That they have overborne their continents:

The ox hath therefore stretch'd his yoke in vain,
The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn
Hath rotted ere his youth attain'd a beard;
The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
And crows are fatted with the murrion flock;
The nine men's morris is filled up with mud,

And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
For lack of tread are undistinguishable.

At such times one's journey could only be pursued by the help of skilful guides, and even so at some risk. To take a late illustration, Thoresby, who died in 1715, tells us in his diary how the rains had "raised the washes upon the road near Ware to that height that passengers from London that were upon that road swam, and a poor higgler was drowned, which prevented me travelling for many hours; yet towards evening we adventured with some country people who conducted us over the meadows, whereby we missed the deepest of the wash at Cheshunt, though we rode to the saddle-skirts for a considerable way, but got safe to Waltham Cross, where we lodged."*

Such being the roads-so "founderous," as someone calls them-what would the vehicles be?

Carriers' carts of a sort did struggle along; but for the most part movement was accomplished on foot or on horseback, and conveyance of goods by pack-horses. Horse-litters were occasionally used. Coaches are said to have been introduced by Boomen, Queen Elizabeth's own

* See Smiles' Lives of the Engineers: Metcalfe and Telford, p. 19, ed. 1874. + Fynes Morison speaks (temp. James I.) of "carriers who have long covered wagons, in which they carry passengers from place to place; but this kind of journeying," he adds, is so tedious, by reason they must take wagon very early and come very late to their inns, that none but women and people of inferior condition travel in this sort."

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coachman; but they were little better, as Mr. Smiles remarks, than carts without springs, the body resting solid upon the axles. And those who used them paid a bitter penalty for the luxury.* At one of the first audiences which the Queen gave to the French Ambassador, in 1568, she feelingly described to him "the aching pains she was suffering in consequence of having been knocked about in a coach which had been driven a little too fast, only a few days before." About a century later, the public vehicles were popularly known as "hell-carts," and no doubt well deserved the name. One grave objection to wheels was, it seems, that they broke up the roads! "King James," says Mr. Roberts, "proclaimed that carts and wagons with four wheels, carrying excessive burthens, so galled the highways and the very foundations of bridges, that the king denounced them to the judges as common nuisances, against the weal public, and the use of them an offence. By this proclamation of James I., in the year 1622, no carrier was to travel with a fourwheeled wagon, but only with a cart having two wheels, and only to carry 20 cwt. Anyone transgressing this was to be punished." At Weymouth, in 1635, "the authorities passed a bye-law, that no brewers were to bind the wheels of their carts with iron, as it wore away the pitching of the streets. Precisely similar was the complaint against hackney-coaches, 1638-viz. that they broke up the streets. . . . It having been thought proper to ordain in the year 1662, that the wheels of each cart or wagon should be four inches in the tyre, this was found to be impracticable, for in some parts the ruts could not receive such wheels, nor could the carriages pass. A proclamation stayed the prosecution of offenders till the further order of Parliament." In the Elizabethan age the fact was that the roads could not bear the coaches, and the coaches could not bear the roads; so there was but little traffic in that way, that fearful institution the stage-coach being a later birth of time.

On foot then, or on horseback, Shakspeare would perform his journeys. That he would ride when he could afford it is the more probable from the fact we gather from certain sonnets that he was lame, for we see no reason to take the words in any non-natural or heterobiographical sense. There is ground for believing that this defect was of no very serious nature; it has been compared with that of Scott, and that of Byron; but it would probably make him prefer riding to walking. And we might just ask in passing whether pedestrianising is not a quite modern English taste? A German, who made a walking tour in this country not a hundred years ago, found such a method of progress not at all practised, and indeed one which exposed him to much suspicion and discomfort. unbosomed his wonder that it should be so to a coach-fellow-traveller,


* See a picture of this invention in Mr. Roberts's Social History of the Southern Counties. Perhaps those who have known what it is to be hauled in a bathingmachine across a fine shingly beach can best appreciate the delights of such a means of locomotion.

for he did sometimes indulge himself in a lift. "On my asking him why Englishmen, who were so remarkable for acting up to their own notions and ideas, did not, now and then, merely to see life in every point of view, travel on foot; 'Oh!' said he, ' we are too rich, too lazy, and too proud.'" But, if a quite modern taste, it was, no doubt, an old necessity for many a traveller. See Walton's account of Hooker's walking from Oxford to Exeter.

Horses could be hired at 12d. the first day, and 8d. a day after till re-delivery. "Mr. John Garland, merchant, mayor of Lyme in 1569, rode to London on town business. His whole charge for himself and horse in London was 31. 58. ; the hire of the horse was 5s." Also, it was possible to post, at least in some parts. It was so in Norfolk as early as 1568, as we learn from Blomefield apud Roberts. The charge was 2d. a mile for the horse, and 6d. for the guide "to go and carry back the horse; and the said horses were not to carry any cloak-bag of above ten pounds' weight." A common arrangement for those who did not keep a horse of their own was to buy one at the beginning of a journey and sell it at the end. So late as 1753 a Dr. Skene, of Aberdeen, travelled from London to Edinburgh in this way. He bought a mare for eight guineas in London, rode her nineteen days, and sold her in Edinburgh for what he had given for her.

We have an incidental picture of the travelling equestrian of the seventeenth century, in a book quoted by Mr. Smiles, called The Grand Concern of England explained in several Proposals to Parliament, published in 1673, denouncing stage-coaches and caravans. The writer, said to be one John Gressot, of the Charterhouse, insists that stage-coaches were ruinous to trade, "for that most gentlemen, before they travelled in coaches, used to ride with swords, belts, pistols, holsters, portmanteaus, and hat-cases [a heavy cargo this !], which in these coaches they have little or no occasion for; for, when they rode on horseback, they rode in one suit and carried another to wear when they came to their journey's end, or lay by the way; but in coaches a silk suit and an Indian gown, with a sash, silk stockings, and beaver hats, men ride in and carry no other with them, because they escape the wet and dirt, which on horseback they cannot avoid; whereas in two or three journeys on horseback their clothes and hats were wont to be spoiled; which done, they were forced to have new very often, and that increased the consumption of the manufactures and the employment of the manufacturer, which travelling in coaches doth in no way do."

Certainly it was not all plain sailing for the equestrian. It was often as much as he could do, nay more, to get along. Here is a fourteenth century instance: Archbishop Islip, riding from Oxford Palace to Mayfield, Sussex, in 1362, fell from his horse in a wet and miry lane between Sevenoaks and Tunbridge, so that he was wet through all over. In that pitiable state he rode on without any change of clothes, and was seized with paralysis. Think of his poor Grace, the Primate of All

England, utterly dank and bemudded! And things were scarcely a whit better three centuries after. "Eight hundred horse were taken prisoners in the civil wars in Lincolnshire while sticking in the mire."

Add to all the perils from ruts and sloughs and floods those from highwaymen. The waters were only sometimes out; the robbers always were, professionals or amateurs. The woods that then abounded afforded these gentlemen an excellent cover, which they turned to good account. So early as 1285 some attempt was made to circumscribe this accommodation. It was enacted, says Mr. Smiles, "that all bushes and trees along the roads leading from one market to another should be cut down for two hundred feet on either side, to prevent robbers lurking therein." On the Buckinghamshire proverb, "Here if you beat a bush it's odds you'ld start a thief," Fuller, in his Worthies, observes, "No doubt there was just occasion for this proverb at the original thereof, which then contained satirical truth, proportioned to the place before it was reformed; whereof thus our great antiquary: 'It was altogether unpassable in times past by reason of trees, until that Leofstane, Abbot of St. Alban's, did cut them down, because they yielded a place of refuge for thieves.' But this proverb is now antiquated as to the truth thereof, Buckinghamshire affording as many maiden assizes as any locality of equal populousness. Yea, hear how she pleadeth for herself that such highwaymen were never her natives, but fled thither for their shelter out of neighbouring counties." We may quite admit the truth of Fuller's latter remark, without believing that highway robbery was at all rare in the county of which he speaks. Certainly in the olden times the Chiltern Hills were notorious for the bandits that haunted them. "We passed through many woods," writes Brunetto Latini, Dante's tutor, of his journey from London to Oxford, "considered here as dangerous places, as they are infested with robbers, which indeed is the case with most of the roads in England. This is a circumstance connived at by the neighbouring barons on consideration of sharing in their booty and of these robbers serving as their protectors on all occasions, personally and with the whole strength of their band. However, as our company was numerous, we had less fear." It was to establish order, or do what he could in that line in this thieves' lair, that the Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds was originally appointed. But in all parts of the country a meeting with those who

With a base and boisterous sword enforced

A thievish living on the common road

was a very common travelling experience. And so it was common to go armed; as appears from the extract given above, from The Grand Concern, &c., and could be shown still more fully, if our space permitted, from Harrison's Description of England. See the New Shakspere Society's edition, edited by Mr. Furnivall, Part I., p. 283.


Having said just as much on the ways and means of Elizabethan travelling as may help us to form a picture of our poet en route, let us now name specially the roads which he in all probability followed in passing between his home at Stratford and "his place of business London.


There are two main routes between Stratford and London: one by Oxford and High Wycombe, the other by Banbury and Aylesbury. And there are traditions which indicate that Shakspeare used them both. At least that he used the former one may be regarded as fairly certain. For the latter one it is to be said that certainly at a later time it became the recognised route from London, and that one tradition seems to connect him with it.

There would seem good reason for believing that in the Elizabethan age, and later still, that the common route was by Oxford. Mr. Halliwell Phillipps, to whose researches we all owe so much, prints in his Life of Shakspeare the following account of some Stratford people who went to London on the business of the Corporation in 1592.

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And for our horsemeat the same night at Islip

The third day for our bait and our horses at Hook Norton
And for walking our horses at Tetsworth and elsewhere

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We are told by Anthony Wood that Shakspeare in his journeys between Warwickshire and London frequented "the house of John Davenant, a sufficient vintner." It was, and is, a tavern known as the "Crown," in the Corn Market, not far from Carfax Church. And so Aubrey: "Mr. William Shakspeare was wont to go into Warwickshire once a year, and did commonly in this journey lie at this [Davenant's] house in Oxon, where he was exceedingly respected." And so Oldys, on the authority of Pope, who quoted Betterton: "If tradition may be trusted, Shakspeare often baited at the Crown Inn, a tavern in Oxford, in his journey to and from London." Davenant, the poet, son of the publican, is said to have been Shakspeare's godson, and to have boasted, or at least suggested, that he stood in a yet closer relation to him.

The tradition that connects Shakspeare with the other route mentioned, or rather with a variety of it, is given only by Aubrey

"The humour of the constable in Midsummer Night's Dream [he means Much Ado about Nothing] he happened to take at Grendon, in Bucks, which is the road from London to Stratford; and there was

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