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“ And who may this distressed friend of yours happen to be?” asked the queen, in some degree pleased to meet with one of such a nature as would rather ask for another than for himself.
66 Sir Walter Raleigh,” replied he.
Thereupon every one did look amazed at Master Shakspeare's imprudence, and the queen's brow grew black of a sudden. 66 We are astonished that
could find no better request to make," observed the queen, somewhat angrily; yet in her heart wondering that there should come before her one so bold as, in his first request of her, to plead for a disgraced favourite. “ He hath done us such extreme dishonour as surely never before did crowned queen suffer of a subject. We have had him placed where he shall have time to repent him of such shameful misdoings; and there 'tis our good pleasure he shall remain. As for yourself, Master Shakspeare, you have done greatly amiss in speaking of such a traitor. It seemeth to us somewhat overbold of you. Go your ways, sir, and when we next allow of your asking of us a favour, see that it contain no such offensive matter.'
At this Master Shakspeare bowed very low, yet with a marvellous dignity, that was the admiration of all, and was about to depart from the presence, when my Lord of Essex, who, notwithstanding his exceeding pride, and jealousy of any that did seem
to interfere with his supremacy, was possessed of some noble qualities, thought to put in a word for him.
“ Please your majesty,” said he, “it bè all out of the very honesty of Master Shakspeare's nature, that he hath said this, I will be bound for it. My honourable friend the Lord Southampton, hath given me great commendation of him; and I do assure your majesty he is in excellent good report of all men.
What he hath urged in behalf of his friend is in the manner natural; and methinks he might escape blame without any dishonour to your majesty, whose bountifulness of heart can in no way suffer by it. I pray you, let not what he hath said move you against him, for I for one, who, it may be supposed, am not like to go out of my way to say aught upon the matter, do consider that Sir Walter Raleigh hath the requisites of a very noble gentleman.”
Now the courtiers knew not which to marvel at most—the imprudence of Master Shakspeare in requesting pardon for his friend, or the magnanimity of my Lord of Essex in speaking in favour of his rival; but the consequence of my lord's speaking was, that the queen did give Master Shakspeare a more gracious dismissal than she seemed before inclined to do; and acknowledged that she believed her captain of the guard had many commendable qualities : and it now appeared to those around her,
a greater marvel than all, that her majesty should say this when it was known he had done her so grievous a wrong.
Master Shakspeare made all haste from the palace to the lodgings of Master Burbage in Cheapside, in great disappointment that he had succeeded no better for Sir Walter Raleigh, .whom he greatly esteemed; yet in some hope that the consequences would not be to his disadvantage. He found his friend dressed, and on the point of going out.
“ Ha, Will !” exclaimed he, as soon as the other entered the room, “How liketh the queen thy new play? Doth it please her? Dost think 'twill draw her to the playhouse ? How was it taken among the noble lords and fair ladies of the court?"
“ I prythee have patience, Dick,” replied Master Shakspeare, sitting of himself down awhile, “I will answer thy questions as speedily as I
liketh my new play well—it doth please her, because she liketh it—she will be at the playhouse the first time of its performance, because it pleaseth her--and the noble lords and fair ladies were taken with it exceedingly, because it was exceedingly taken of the queen.”
6 Bravo, Will! thou answereth marvellously to the purpose,” cried Master Burbage, cutting a caper, as if the intelligence was hugely to his liking.
“ I'faith, 'tis well that thou art pleased,” remarked the other,for I had need of half a dozen
tongues to do justice to thy questions, they come so thick
upon one.” “ Tongues ! Talk not to me of tongues, I prythee," exclaimed his companion, in seeming anger. “Thou hast one of such a sort that it requireth no other to help it. O' my life, I do believe thou couldst wheedle the moon into a nut-shell-thou hast got such a tongue. Didst thou not cut me out with the mercer's daughter, and be hanged to thee!”
“ Indeed I fared no better than thyself in that quarter, believe me,” said Master Shakspeare.
“ No !” cried Master Burbage, in extreme astonishment. “What, did she not become villainously in love with thei? Did she not give thee most exquisite, fond en, rtainment? Didst thou not, now, in honest truth,, d her a most delicious creature,' as thou didst say to me through the keyhole-thou aggravating villain !”
“In honest truth, then, Dick, I must answer to all thy questions-no!"
“ Ha ! ha! ha! 'tis good ! 'tis excellent good !” exclaimed Master Burbage, and he began to caper about the room, seemingly in a monstrous delight. “That be the pleasantest news I have heard a long time; and, in truth, thou hast been but rightly served for the very heathenish wickedness thou didst commit, of cutting me out with her.” “Nay, I do assure thee, Dick, I knew not, till
within a minute or so of thy coming, that thou wert at all of her acquaintance; and I then was resolved to have some sport at thy expense, merely because of thy having disparaged me to her, and claiming for thyself the merit of my best verses."
66 Ah, that was done out of no malice, thou shouldst be well aware. I said it but out of vanity, and would have been the very first to tell thee of it again. By this light, Will! I do think it lawful to tell a pretty woman anything. I would swear to her I was the greatest, wisest, faithfullest of men, if I thought she would believe me. I would brave it out with her I was the Pope of Rome, or the Great Mogul, or even one of the Anthropophagi, if it looked as if ’twould advantage me in my suit. Nay, Ovid himself knoweth not the metamophoses I would undergo under such circumstances. Dost think they would have no disguises ? Dost think they stand upon the saying of anything with us? By this hand, I would as soon expect to find sunbeams in a snowball, as truth in a pretty woman. Ask of her if she love thee, she shall answer ono' straight, when be sure she hath 'yes' in her heart all the time. Attempt to lay siege to her lips, she shall presently frown and seem in a monstrous to do, but so completely doth her nature assent to it, that do but persist for a sufficient time, and make no doubt the citadel shall surrender at discretion."
“ I do believe, Dick, thou knowest very little of