TALES AND TEMPESTS
Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant;
And my ending is despair
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so, that it assaults
Mercy itself, and frees all faults.
( Prospero, The Tempest)
Sir, she's well restored
And to be married shortly
( Jailer, The Two Noble Kinsmen)
An alert traveller riding into Stratford around 1607 would not have found the townspeople invariably sombre or the local trades hopelessly depressed. Puritanical feeling was strong among aldermen who met at 'halls', but old festivals were still honoured. There was jollity enough, and merchants had more to celebrate than in the lean years of the 1590s. Despite fears about the ungodly, some thirty alehouses were to be allowed at Stratford, along with the three inns -- the Crown, Bear, and Swan -- all on Bridge Street.
There were tensions in the local council which illuminate the dramatist's late years (as does fresh evidence about his son-in-law). But after leaving dusty London, Shakespeare would have returned to a place of natural beauty. Passing over Clopton's bridge, a rider saw green tillage-lands which ended in high, overgrown earthy banks or meers. Extending by the Avon were rich 'water-furlongs' -- where all manner of wild fowl bred and greylag geese fed.