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punish him but by the forfeiture of those things which were his own at the time of his death.”

Bendloe cited a case in which “ a lunatic wounded himself mortally with a knife, and afterwards became of sound mind, and had the rights of Holy Church, and after died of the said wound, and his chattels were not forfeited;” and Carus cited another, “where it appears that one who had taken sanctuary in a church was out in the night, and the town pursued him, and the felon defended himself with clubs and stones, and would not render himself to the King's peace, and one struck off his head ; and the goods of the person killed were forfeited, for he could not be arraigned, because he was killed by his own fault, for which reason, upon the truth of the matter found, his goods were forfeited. Here, the inquiry before the coroner super visum corporis, . .... is equivalent to a judgment given against him in his lifetime, and the forfeiture has relation to the act which was the cause of his death, viz. the throwing himself into the water."

Dyer, C. J., giving the opinion of the Court, said :“ The forfeiture shall have relation to the act done by Sir James Hales in his lifetime, which was the cause of his death, viz. the throwing himself into the water.” He made five points : — “ First, the quality of the offence; secondly, to whom the offence was committed ; thirdly, what he shall forfeit; fourthly, from what time; and fifthly, if the term here shall be taken from the wife."

As to the second point, it is an offence against nature, against God, and against the King. Against nature, for every living thing does by instinct of nature defend itself from destruction, and then to destroy one's self is contrary to nature, and a thing most horrible.' Against God, in that it is a breach of his commandment, thou shalt not kill; and to kill himself, by which he kills in presumption his own soul, is a greater offence than to kill another. Against the King, in that hereby he has lost a subject, and (as Brown termed it) le

being the head, has lost one of his mystical members.”

. . . It was agreed by all the Judges, “ that he shall forfeit all his goods; for Brown said the reason why the King shall have the goods and chattels of a felo de se,

... is not because he is out of Holy Church, so that for that reason the Bishop will not meddle with them,

... but for the loss of his subject, and for the breach of his peace, and for the evil example given to his people, and not in respect that Holy Church will not meddle with them, for he is adjudged none of the members of Holy Church.

As to the fourth point, viz., to what time the forfeiture shall have relation; the forfeiture here shall have relation to the time of the original offence committed, which was the cause of the death, and that was the throwing himself into the water, which was done in his lifetime, and this act was felony. So that the felony is attributed to the act, which is always done by a living man, and in his lifetime: for Sir James Hales was dead, and how came he to his death? By drowning. And who drowned him ? Sir James Hales. And when did he drown him ? In his lifetime. So that Sir James Hales being alive caused Sir James Hales to die; and the act of the living man was the death of the dead man. But how can he be said to be punished alive when the punishment comes after his death? Sir, this can be done no other way than by devesting out of him his title and property, from the time of the act done which was the cause of his death, viz. the throwing himself into the water."

Now, that this very report is plainly travestied in the “ Hamlet,” can admit of no possible doubt. Ophelia had not drowned herself voluntarily, but, like the lunatic who became of sound mind, and had “ the rights of Holy Church," to the glassy stream, where “a willow grows aslant the brook,"

“There, with fantastic garlands, did she come,”


“ There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clamb’ring to hang, an envious sliver broke,
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,
And mermaid-like, a while they bore her up;
Which time, she chanted snatches of old tunes;
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indu'd
Unto that element: but long it could not be,
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay

To muddy death.” – Act IV. Sc. 7. Otherwise, as the author well knew, the Coroner's inquest would have found her a “felo de se," and she must have been buried, as one “out of Holy Church,” at a cross-road, where, says the Priest,

“ Her obsequies have been as far enlarg'd
As we have warrantise: her death was doubtful;
And but that great command o'ersways the order,
She should in ground unsanctified have lodg'd,
Till the last trumpet: for charitable prayers,
Shards, flints, and pebbles should be thrown on her;
Yet here she is allow'd her virgin rites,
Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home
Of bell and burial." — Act V. Sc. 1.

And in the same scene in which, with all technical skill in the use of the abstrusest terms of the law, he so easily empties “ the skull of a lawyer” of “ his quiddits now, his quillets, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks," ..... his action of battery, ..... his statutes, his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers, his recoveries,” now that " the fine of his fines, and the recovery of his recoveries' is, “ to have his fine pate full of fine dirt,” he makes the clowns discourse, on the question of the voluntary drowning and the right to Christian burial, thus :

1st Clo. Is she to be buried in Christian burial, that wilfully seeks her own salvation ?

2d Clo. I tell thee, she is; and therefore make her grave straight: the crowner hath set on her, and finds it Christian burial.

1st Clo. How can that be, unless she drown'd herself in her own defence ?

2d Clo. Why, 't is found so.

1st Clo. It must be se offendendo; it cannot be else. For here lies the point: if I drown myself wittingly, it argues an act, and an act hath three branches; it is, to act, to do, and to perform : argal, she drowned herself wittingly.

2d Clo. Nay, but hear you, goodman delver.

1st Clo. Give me leave. Here lies the water; good: here stands the man; good: if the man go to this water, and drown himself, it is, will he, nill he, he goes; mark you that: but if the water come to him, and drown him, he drowns not himself: argal, he that is not guilty of his own death shortens not his own life.

21 Clo. But is this law?
1st Clo. Ay, marry, is't; crowner's 'quest law.

2. Clo. Will you ha' the truth on 't? If this had not been a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out of Christian burial.

1st Clo. Why, there thou say'st, and the more pity, that great folk shall have countenance in this world to drown or hang themselves, more than their even Christian." - Act V. Sc. 1.

A careful comparison of these passages may satisfy the critical reader that the author of the play had certainly read this report of Plowden. They are not adduced here as amounting to proof that the author was any other than William Shakespeare, but rather as a circumstance bearing upon the antecedent probabilities of the case ; for there is not the slightest ground for a belief, on the facts which we know, that Shakespeare ever looked into Plowden's Reports ; while it is quite certain that Francis Bacon, who commenced his legal studies at Gray's Inn in the very next year after the date of Plowden's preface, did have occasion to make himself familiar with that work, some years before the appearance of the “Hamlet.” And the mode of reasoning, and the manner of the report, bordering so nearly upon the ludicrous, would be sure to impress the memory of Bacon, whose nature, as we know, was singularly capable of wit and humor.

Not less curious is it to observe, that Mr. Hackett, as early as 1859, noticing the numerous metaphorical expres

sions in the plays, which relate to the flowing of the blood to and from the heart or liver, and which imply, when closely examined, a critical knowledge of the physiology of this subject, as understood by professional authors down to that day, has actually maintained the proposition that William Shakespeare had anticipated the celebrated Harvey in the discovery of the circulation of the blood. And not much later, a distinguished English physician, following the example of Lord Campbell in the department of law, has undertaken to demonstrate that “the immortal dramatist," though he had not discovered the circulation of the blood, had nevertheless “ paid an amount of attention to subjects of medical interest scarcely if at all inferior to that which has served as the basis of the learned and ingenious argument, that this intellectual king of men had devoted seven good years of his life to the practice of law.”? Moreover, this same writer, on diligent examination, was “surprised and astonished” at “ the extent and exactness of the psychological knowledge displayed " in these plays, and very naturally came to the conclusion that “abnormal conditions of mind had attracted Shakespeare's diligent observation, and had been his favorite study.” 3 He finds instances which amount “not merely to evidence, but to proof, that Shakespeare had read widely in medical literature," and continues thus : “ For the honor of medicine, it would be difficult to point to any great author, not himself a physician, in whose works the healing art is referred to more frequently and more respectfully than in those of Shakespeare." Dr. Bucknill even ventures to suggest that the marriage of Shakespeare's eldest daughter, in 1607, with Dr. John Hall, the physician, who afterwards lived in the same house with him at Stratford-on-Avon, may have been the means of imparting to the mind of the poet some

1 Notes on Shakes. Plays and Actors (New York, 1863), p. 268. 2 Shakes. Med. Knowl., by John Charles Bucknill, M. D., London, 1860. 8 Psychology of Shakes., by John Charles Bucknill, M. D., London, 1859.

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