Page:Studies of a Biographer 4.djvu/30
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STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER
Justice Madden sets forth Shakespeare's accurate knowledge of field sports. It seems to prove conclusively a proposition against which there can certainly be no presumption. We may be quite confident that he could thoroughly enjoy a day's coursing on the Cotswold Hills, and we know by the most undeniable proof that his sense of humour was tickled by the oddities of his fellowsportsmen, the Shallows and Slenders. It is at least equally clear that he had the keenest enjoyment of the charms of the surrounding scenery. He could not have written Midsummer Night's Dream or As You Like It if the poetry of the English greenwood had not entered into his soul. The single phrase about the daffodils—so often quoted for its magical power—is proof enough, if there were no other, of a nature exquisitely sensitive to the beauties of flowers and of springtime. It wants, again, no such confirmation as Fuller's familiar anecdote to convince us that Shakespeare could enjoy convivial meetings at taverns, that he could listen to, and probably join in, a catch by Sir Toby Belch, or make Lord Southampton laugh as heartily as Prince Hal laughed at the jests of Falstaff. Shakespeare, again, as this suggests, was certainly not a Puritan. That may