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knew better how to put on, as she placed a well filled purse in his hand, “and fairly is it won. There have been many labourers in the fire whose vast undertakings have ended in smoke; but thou art the first whose smoke was ever turned into gold.”
“ Well, I did not think he was such a superlative master of hocus pocus,” exclaimed Mistress Alice, with a wonderful elevation of her eyebrows. “Please your majesty, if you let him go on at this profitable rate, every conjuror in your dominions will hang himself in despair."
6 Indeed 'tis a very pretty piece of conjuration,” said Lady Blanche Somerset, opening her large blue eyes in a seeming astonishment; and all the rest, though they did in no way understand the matter, did rival each other in ready praise of Sir Walter Raleigh-except my Lord Bumble, who kept aloof, as if he had not yet recovered from his fright and surprise.
Sir Walter having put away the things he was using, placed his hand on his heart, and kneeling on one knee before her majesty, as she presented him the purse, said humbly, “I pray your majesty to pardon me, that the deep gratitude of my heart at this moment, at receiving such munificent and generous conduct from my sovereign, hath taken from my poor tongue all adequate expression, What Paris must have felt when he first beheld the beauteous Helen, I experience at witnessing such graces of behaviour-with the like of which was no princess ever blessed-therefore, if I make not too bold, I would implore your majesty, out of your right royal and princely disposition, and most admirable wisdom, to frame, in my behalf, such excuse for my silence as your majesty may think appropriate.”
“ Rise, Sir Walter Raleigh,” said the queen, graciously raising him from the ground; for, in truth, though waxing old, she did find exceeding delight in having such handsome gallants at her feet “ The wager was honourably won-therefore our bestowing it doth call for no gratitude. We are now disposed for a stroll through yonder pleasant walks, and require thy attendance.” So saying, she led the way, with a becoming stateliness, through the glass doors, and stepped out into the garden, closely followed by her captain of the guard -the rest staying behind, as they had not been invited. After some little time passed in the queen's garden, her majesty proceeded through divers passages, and through the new gallery in the palace, till she reached St. James' Park.
“ Hath Master Edmund Spenser, our poet laureate, of whom thou hast so oft spoke to us so fair, been well cared for, since at thy request we granted him an interview?” enquired her majesty, as they walked along.
“ I believe that my Lord Burghley never did anything for him, or paid him his salary, please your majesty,” replied Sir Walter. “But I marvel
6 not at that, seeing that my lord treasurer hath not seemed in any great degree affected towards the inestimable sweet delights of poetry and philosophy; and yet one would naturally suppose, that serving a mistress who hath so perfect a knowledge and so exquisite a taste in those divine enjoyments—the very Minerva of our thrice fortunate English land
- he would have imbibed sufficient inclination towards them as to foster such as possess them most -for the true glorification of his illustrious sovereign, and to the great advancement of his own honour."
“ Ah, my Lord Burghley is certainly somewhat deficient in such matters; nevertheless he is an excellent statesman and a faithful servant,” observed
“ We will, however, not allow Master Spenser to think himself unesteemed of us, for we remember well he did read to us divers passages from a poem called “The Fairy Queen, of which we entertain a very favourable consideration."
“ Your majesty playeth ever the part of the true judge of merit, and its most liberal patroness," exclaimed Raleigh, “and happy are those poetic
spirits who were born to flourish under such excellent auspices. Surely they might aptly be addressed in the words of Lucan his Pharsalia,
Vos quoque, qui fortes animos belloque peremptos
Plurima securi fudistis carmina Bardi. It has been left for your majesty's right glorious reign to produce two such unrivalled geniuses as Master Edmund Spenser and Master William Shakspeare-the one as an epic poet, who writeth to advance the admiration of that which is chivalrous and noble, hath no peer; the other as an inventor of plays--the which in this country he may justly be said to be the originator-for judgment, wit, imagination, and knowledge of human nature, standeth above all in these realms. Master Spenser hath fellowship with such noble spirits as Homer and Virgil, and Master Shakspeare deserveth to stand on equal terms with Sophocles and Menander.”
• We take great delight in the productions of this Shakspeare as exhibited at the playhouse,” replied her majesty, “and do intend this afternoon to partake of the same amusement.”
“ It is an entertainment worthy of your majesty's enjoyment, responded Sir Walter, " for I take it that players are a sort of looking-glasses, who shew humanity under all its fashions, as it is made to appear by the dramatist, to whom these fashions are familiar; and they who essay to know the world, its conduct and apparelling, will find no more direct way than the playhouse, where Master Shakspeare and some few who travel in his footsteps, are in requisition. Nor are your majesty's players undeserving of laudable mention, for without tuition or previous example, they have raised the art from little better than absolute vagrancy, to a profession honourable with the court, and in good esteem with the people.”
“ Ah-there is one Burbage, is there not, of notable excellence in this art?” enquired the queen. “ We have marked him oft. He that playeth the crook-backed king."
“ The same, please your majesty,” said Raleigh, 56 which sheweth your majesty's exquisite discrimination, for he beareth away the palm from them all; being of an exceeding ingenious nature, and of a very happy facility in taking upon himself the characters of others—which he sheweth not only when appearing as Richard the Third, though it be a most superlative piece of acting, as your majesty hath justly conceived—but in divers other parts in which he hath exhibited a similar excellence.”
They walked on for some two or three minutes without saying ever a word.