Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/1024

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998
STRATFORD-ON-AVON

parliamentary life. He sat for Old Sarum, for Stockbridge (rotten boroughs) and for Southampton, but did not make much mark •in parliament. He was twice absent on diplomatic missions. At the end of 1831 he went to Constantinople to attend the conferences on the delimitation of the Greek frontier, arriving immediately after the receipt of the riews of Mehemet Ali's invasion of Syria (see Mehemet Ali). Sultan Mahmud now proposed to Canning an alliance between Great Britain and Tur- key, and Canning strongly urged this upon Palmerston, pointing out the advisability of helping the sultan against Mehemet Ali in drder to forestall Russia, and of at the same time placating Mehemet Ali by guaranteeing him certain advantages. This advice, which largely anticipated the settlement of 1841, was not followed ; but Canning himself was in high favour with the sultan, from whom he received the unique distinction of the sovereign's portrait set in diamonds. In 1833 he was selected as ambassador t6 Russia, but the tsar Nicholas I. refused to receive him. The story that the tsar was influenced by merely personal animosity seems to be unfounded. Nicholas was no doubt sufficiently informed as to the peremptory character of Sir Stratford Canning (he had been made G.C.B. in 1828) to see his unfitness to represent Great Britain at a really independent court.

After Canning had declined the treasurership of the Household and the governor-generalship of Canada, he was again named ambassador at Constantinople. He reached his post in January 1842 and retained it till his resignation in February 1858. His tenure of office in these years was made remarkable — first by his constant efforts t6 induce the Turkish government to accept reform and to conduct itself with humanity and decency; then by the Crimean War {q.v.). Canning had no original liking for the Turks. He was the first to express an ardent hope that they would be expelled from Europe with " bag and baggage " — a phrase made popular in after times by Gladstone. But he had persuaded himself that under the new sultan Abd-ul- Mejid they might be reformed, and he was willing to play the part of guiding providence. He certainly impressed himself on the Turks, and on all other witnesses, as a strong personality. In particular he struck the imagination of Kinglake, the author of the Invasion of the Crimea. In that book he appears as a kind of magician who is always mentioned as the " great Elchi " and who influences the fate of nations by mystic spells cast on pallid sultans. Great Elchi is the Turkish title for an ambassador, and Elchi for a minister plenipotentiary. The use made of the exotic title in Kinglake's book is only one of the Corinthian ornaments of his style. In sober fact Canning's exertions on behalf of reform in Turkey affected little below the surface. His share in the Crimean War cannot be told here. On the fall of Palmerston's ministry in February 1858 he resigned, and though he paid a complimentary farewell visit to Constantinople, he had no further share in public life than the occasional speeches he delivered from his place in the House of Lords. He had been raised to the peerage in 1852. During his later years he wrote several essays collected under the title of The Eastern Question (London, 1881)! In 1873 he published his treatise, Why I am a Christian, and in 1876 his play, Alfred the Great at Athelney. The only son of his second marriage died before him. His wife and two daughters survived him. Lord Stratford died on the 14th of August 1880, and was buried at Frant in Sussex. A monument to him was erected in Westminster Abbey in 1884.

See Life of Lord Stratford de Reddiffe, by S. Lane Poole (London, 1888).


STRATFORD-ON-AVON, a market town and municipal borough in the Sfratford-on-Avon parliamentary division of Warwickshire, England; on a branch line of the Great Western railway and on the East & West Junction railway, in connexion with which it is served from London by the Great Central (92½ m.) and the London & North-Western railways. Pop. (1901), 8310. The town lies mainly on the right (west) bank of the Avon. The neighbourhood, comprised in the rich valley of the Avon, is beautiful though of no considerable elevation. The river flows in exquisite wooded reaches, navigable only for small boats. The Stratford-on-Avon canal communicates with the Warwick and Birmingham canal. The river is crossed at Stratford by a stone bridge of 14 arches, built by Sir Hugh Clopton in the reign of Henry VII. The church of the Holy Trinity occupies the site of a Saxon monastery, which existed before 691, when the bishop of Worcester received it in exchange from Ethelred, king of Mercia. It is beautifully placed near the river, and is a fine cruciform structure, partly Early English and partly Perpendicular, with a central tower and lofty octagonal spire. It was greatly improved in the reign of Edward III. by John de Stratford, who rebuilt the south aisle. He also in 1332 founded a chantry for priests, and in 1351 Ralph de Stratford built for John's chantry priests " a house of square stone," which came to be known as the college, and in connexion with which the church became collegiate. The present beautiful choir was built by Dean Balshall (1465–1491), and in the reign of Henry VII. the north and south transepts were erected. A window commemorates the Shakespearian scholar J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps. The foundation of the chapel of the gild of the Holy Cross was laid by Robert de Stratford. The gild, to which both sexes were admitted, was in existence early in the 13th century, and it was incorporated by a charter from Edward III. in 1322. It was dissolved in 1547. The guildhall is a picturesque half-timbered building. A beautiful house of the 16th century belonged to one Thomas Rogers, whose daughter was mother of John Harvard, the founder of Harvard College, U.S.A. Among public buildings are the town hall, originally dated 1633, rebuilt 1767, and altered 1863; market house, corn exchange and three hospitals. There are recreation grounds. Brewing is carried on, but the trade is principally agricultural. Area, 4013 acres.

Shakespearian Connexion.—To no town has the memory of one famous son brought wider notoriety than that which the memory of William Shakespeare has brought to Stratford; yet this notoriety sprang into strong growth only towards the end of the 18th century. The task of preserving for modern eyes the buildings which Shakespeare himself saw was not entered upon until much of the visible connexion with his times had been destroyed. Yet the town is under no great industrial or other modernizing influence, and therefore stands in the position of an ancient shrine, drawing a pilgrimage of modern origin. The plan of Shakespeare's Stratford at least is preserved, for the road crossing Clopton's bridge is an ancient highway, and forks in the midst of the town into three great branches, about which: the village grew up. The high cross no longer stands at the marketplace where these roads converged. But the open space where is now a memorial fountain was the Rother market, and Rother Street preserves its name. The word signifies horned cattle, and is found in Shakespeare's own writing, in the restored line " It is the pasture lards the rother's sides " (Timon of Athens), where " brother's " was originally the accredited reading. In Henley Street, close by, is the house in which the poet was born, greatly altered in external appearance, being actually two half-timbered cottages connected. A small apartment is by immemorial tradition shown as his birth-room, bearing on its white-washed walls and its windows innumerable signatures of visitors, among which such names as Walter Scott, Dickens and Thackeray may be deciphered. Part of the building, used by the poet's father as a wool-shop, is fitted as a museum. Shakespeare may have attended the grammar school attached to the old guildhall in Church Street. This was a foundation in connexion with the gild of the Holy Cross, but was refounded after the dissolution by King Edward VI. in 1553, and bears his name. The site of Shakespeare's house, New Place, bought by him in 1597, was acquired by public subscription, chiefly through the exertions of J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps, and was handed over to the trustees of the birthplace in 1876. The house was built by Sir Hugh Clopton. Shakespeare acquired a considerable property adjacent to it, retired here after his active life in London, and here died. Sir John Clopton destroyed the house in 1702 (as it had reverted to his family), and the mansion he built was in turn destroyed by Sir Francis Gastrell in 1759. The site, which is