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Copy of the Preamble to a Manuscript exhibited as
At a House in Stratford-upon-Avon, where his relics are shewn.*
“ Vicesimo quinto die Martii, anno regni domini nostri
Jacobi, nunc Rex Angliæ, &c. decimo quarto, et
“ In the name of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost ; the most holy and blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God; the Holy Ghost, of Arc-Angels, Angels, Patriarchs, Prophets, Evangelists, Apostles, Saints, Martyrs, and all the Celestial Courts and Companies of Heaven,
“I, William Shakespear, an unworthy member of the Holy Catholic Religion, being, at this my present writing, in perfect health of body, sound mind, memory,
** The proprietors of the house where this Will is shewn (amongst the relics) are innocent of the fraud, and ignorant of its import, being poor persons, to whom the articles exhibited devolved by descent.
and understanding, but calling to mind the uncertainty of life, and the certainty of death, and that I may be possibly cut off in the blossom of my sins, and called to render an account of all my transgressions, external and internal, and that I may be unprepared for the dreadful trial, either by sacrament, penance, fasting, or prayer, or any other purgation whatever do, in the holy presence above specified, of my own free and voluntary accord, make and ordain this my last spiritual Will, Testament, Confession, Protestation, and Confession of Faith ; hoping hereby to receive pardon for all my sins and offences, and thereby to be made partaker of life everlasting, through the only merits of Jesus Christ, my Saviour and Redeemer ; who took upon himself the likeness of man, suffered death, and was crucified upon the cross, for the redemption of sinners.
Item. I, William Shakespear, do, by this present, protest, acknowledge, and confess, that in my past life
I have been a most abominable and grievous sinner, •and therefore unworthy to be forgiven without a true and sincere repentance for the same; but, trusting in the manifold mercies of my blessed Saviour and Redeemer, I am encouraged, by relying on His Sacred Word, to hope for salvation, and be made partaker of His Heavenly Kingdom, as a member of the Celestial Company of Angels, Saints, and Martyrs, and therefore reside for ever and ever in the Court of my God.
Item. I, William Shakespear, do, by this present, declare, that as I am certain I must pass out of this transitory life into another that will last to eternity, I do hereby most humbly implore and entreat my good Guardian Angels to instruct me in this my solemn preparation, protestation, and confession of Faith—at least spiritually.
Item. I give and bequeath, &c. &c.
N.B.—There is not, and never has been, any Will of Shakespeare, with the above preamble, deposited at Doctors' Commons; which circumstance is, in itself, a sufficient proof of the fraud attempted.
THE WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE;
ADDUCED AS PRESUMPTIVE EVIDENCE
TENETS OF THE RELIGION WHICH HE PROFESSED
WERE NOT OF THE
ROMAN CATHOLIC PERSUASION.
The following anti-papistical sentences are selected from the writings of Shakespeare with a view to corroborate the just opinion of him, that he was a true and professed member of the Protestant Church of England.
There is nothing presented in his writings, or in the few records that we have of his life, that in the least indicates his having held the Roman Catholic faith ; and it may be fully presumed, that had he been of that persuasion, he would not have exposed himself to the censure of that priesthood, by expressing the strong anti-popish sentiments conveyed in the following extracts.
borated, by, in that faith, in which faith
That he was a member of the Protestant Church of England is indisputably corroborated, by the circumstance of his children having been all baptized in that faith, in which faith he made his real last Will and Testament, and in which faith he was buried in his own Protestant Parish Church.
. . SUPREMACY.
KING John, iii. 1.
The Cardinal makes no reply to the above abjuration.
No Italian priest shall tithe or toll in our dominions.
King John, iii. 1.
Oaths are straws, men's faiths are wafer-cakes.
HENRY V. ii. 3.
Play fast and loose with faith, so jest with Heaven.
KING JOHN, iii. 1.