CHAPTER I. SCOTLAND AND ENGLAND.
After the annual meeting, I went to Birmingham and stayed a short while. From here I made a little journey to the birth-place of Shakespeare, at Stratford-on-Avon, a small, quiet town, where, to the best of my recollection, I saw neither street cars nor omnibuses. After being in several large cities, it was an agreeable change to spend a day in this quiet place, where the greatest writer in the English tongue spent his boyhood and the last days of his life on earth. The house where he was born was first visited. A fee of sixpence (about twelve cents) secures admission, but another sixpence is required if the library and museum are visited. The house stands as it was in the poet's early days, with a few exceptions. Since that time, however, part of it has been used as a meat market and part as an inn. In 1847, the property was announced for sale, and it fell into the hands of persons who restored it as nearly as possible to its original condition.
It has two stories and an attic, with three gables in the roof facing the street. At the left of the door by which the tourist is admitted, is a portion of the house where the valuable documents of the corporation are stored, while to the right are the rooms formerly used as the "Swan and Maidenhead Inn," now converted into a library and museum. The windows in the upstairs room where the poet was born are fully occupied with the autographs of visitors who have scratched their names there. I was told that the glass is now valuable simply as old glass, and of course the autographs enhance the value. The names of Scott and Carlyle are pointed out by the attendant in charge. From a back window one can look down into the garden, where, as far as possible, all the trees and flowers mentioned in Shakespeare's works have been planted. For some years past the average number of visitors to this house has been seven thousand a year. The poet's grave is in Trinity Church, at Stratford, beneath a stone slab in the floor bearing these lines:
"Good friend, for Jesus' sake, forbear
To digg the dust enclosed here.
Blest be ye man y spares these stones,
And curst be he ty moves my bones."
On the wall, just at hand, is a bust made from a cast taken after his death. Near by is a stained-glass window with the inscription, "America's gift to Shakespeare's church," and not far away is a card above a collection-box with an inscription which informs "visitors from U.S.A." that there is yet due on the window more than three hundred dollars. The original cost was about two thousand five hundred dollars. The Shakespeare Memorial is a small theater by the side of the Avon, with a library and picture gallery attached. The first stone was laid in 1877, and the building was opened in 1879 with a performance of "Much Ado About Nothing." The old school once attended by the poet still stands, and is in use, as is also the cottage of Anne Hathaway, situated a short distance from Stratford. I returned to Birmingham, and soon went on to Bristol and saw the orphans' homes founded by George Muller.
These homes, capable of accommodating two thousand and fifty orphans, are beautifully situated on Ashley Downs. Brother William Kempster and I visited them together, and were shown through a portion of one of the five large buildings by an elderly gentleman, neat, clean, and humble, who was sent down by the manager of the institution, a son-in-law of Mr. Muller, who died in 1898, at the advanced age of ninety-three years. We saw one of the dormitories, which was plainly furnished, but everything was neat and clean. We were also shown two dining-rooms, and the library-room in which Mr. Muller conducted a prayer-meeting only a night or two before his death. In this room we saw a fine, large picture of the deceased, and were told by the "helper" who was showing us around that Mr. Muller was accustomed to saying: "Oh, I am such a happy man!" The expression on his face in this picture is quite in harmony with his words just quoted. One of his sayings was: "When anxiety begins, faith ends; when faith begins, anxiety ends."