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Judith, the beautiful and intellectual daughter, kept house for her illustrious father, and entered heartily into all his social and business schemes for the improvement of the town of Stratford.
Thus days, weeks, months and years were passed in pleasant conclave with literary and neighboring friends, until the winter of 1615 and 1616, when a severe throat trouble afflicted the Bard, in conjunction with acute pains in the head, that prevented the solace of sleep, and which turned into chronic insomnia.
In January, Shakspere, in anticipation of his temporary exit from this world, determined to make his will and bequeath his property in detail to his daughter, relatives and friends. He called in Francis Collins, a solicitor of Warwick, who drew the important document, but it was not finally signed and witnessed until the 25th of March, 1616.
William, knowing that his wife would inherit legal dower, one-third of his real property, and being cared for by her daughter Susannah, only bequeathed to the "former Anne Hathaway," the personal gift of his "second best bed."
I asked Shakspere one evening about a month before his death if he intended the piece of bed furniture for his wife as a rebuke or a compliment.
He replied: "Jack, if you were not so inquisitive you would not have so much knowledge!"
I thanked him for his lucid explanation, and let the incident go at that remark.
As he was in a good-natured, facetious mood, I asked him why it was that in all his dramatic plays of forty years composition he had never placed on
the boards a great Irish character, although he had created Egyptian, Grecian, Italian, French, German, Danish, Scotch and English representatives that would go down the ages in eloquent glory.
I said, "William, you only formulated in Henry the Fifth Captain MacMorris, a Scotch-Irish bastard-renegade character, who bears about as much. relation to a true Irish gentleman as does a shark to a whale, a hawk to an eagle, or a lynx to a lion."
"Well, Jack, you know as well as I do that the 'eloquent,' brave,' 'Irish rebel,' against monarchy and tyrannical power has been the sharpest thorn in the sides of English royalty, and that with the enmity of Henry the Eighth, Queen Elizabeth, King James, and the London Protestants, a great, lofty Irish Catholic character would not have been popular, and ministered to our daily desire for pence, shillings and pounds!
"Yet posterity will notice the brave wit and greatness of the Irish race by their absence from my business plays."
While writing for the sake of Truth,
For, after all is past and told
On the 10th of January, 1616, Judith impulsively married Thomas Quincy, without the publi
cation of the church banns, to the scandal of the community, but love cared naught for rules or creeds when Nature stood as monitor.
Seated one April morning in his private apartment, looking over his beautiful garden of vegetables, fruit, flowers, vines and waving elms, margined by the murmuring waters of the silver Avon, I asked him if he had any special message before leaving life to communicate to the ages.
"Yes, my dear Jack, you, by nature's law must, like the Wandering Jew, fulfill your destiny, and 'tramp' out your thousand years ere you join me on the 'Island of Immortality.' These precepts I enjoin:
The Love and Truth that in my plays abide
The worm of detection and exposure
Shall gnaw its way through rugged, granite ribs
And then like the false, shimmering vision
I know and feel that myriad spirits
On the 13th of April, 1616, ten days before the death of Shakspere, Burbage, Jonson, Drayton, Florio, Field, Condell, Heming and Jo Taylor came down from London by special invitation to enjoy the hospitality of the Bard.
Judith made every preparation for their social entertainment, and the "New Place" was ablaze with hospitality and dramatic glory for a week.
I shall not enter into the pleasant and eccentric details of these authors and actors, but leave it to the imagination of the intelligent reader to know what a crowd of brilliant bohemians might do in the evening of life talking, laughing and drinking to the memory of friends and days that are no more!
Three days before the death of the great luminary of dramatic and poetic letters, he called me into his bedroom. He was resting in a reclining chair by an oaken desk, looking out on his garden, while the birds of spring were chirping, singing