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jew. So I tell thee what, sweet Will, thou shalt help me in this strait with thine own unparalleled talents, and if I be not grateful, call me a dog."
“Dog, quotha !” cried his guest, in seeming amazement, “art thou not the veriest dog that howls o’nights? What a face hast thou, thou impudent varlet, after having, with thy-miserable breath, cursed Apollo and all his generation, to come, cap in hand, to one of the humblest of his followers! Go to, I'll ha' none o'thee! I abandon thee to the fury of the immortal gods.”
“ Nay, but, sweet Will.”
“ Ay, 'sweet Will' thou callest me now; yet a moment since I was likened to a jackass eating thistles. Hast thou no shame? Dost think, because thine own wretched hack will not stir a foot, that thou shalt ride on my Pegasus ? I'm an oyster if I let thee.”
6 What! not assist thy old friend and comrade ?” asked the other, in the same bantering tone he had used from the first; “how often have I done thee a good turn that way? Dost remember, in merry Stratford, when we were both boys, yet with an intolerant inclination for the honours of manhood, how often I did lead Sir Thomas Lucy's gamekeeper in search of imaginary deer-stealers, whilst thou wert courting his niece in the shrubbery?”
“ Ha ! ha! thou hast me there, Dick," replied
his friend, unable to refrain from laughing at the odd associations which came crowding to his memory, “ thou hast me there of a surety. Ah, Kate ! she was a delectable little gipsey, with a most enticing ankle, and a smile that would thaw a six weeks' frost. But dost forget thine own tricks, old memorandum? Hast forgot when thou wert laying siege to Barbara, the sexton's pretty daughter, behind the church, how I, with a sheet I had stolen for the nonce, and a turnip-lantern and candle, did stalk through the church-yard, to keep the folks from disturbing thee—to the horror of the whole neighbourhood, and the near frightening to death of three ancient spinsters, two drunken ploughboys, and the parish constable?”
“ Ha ! ha! ha!” shouted the other, with an obstreperous fit of mirth, “ 'tis as true as life ; I'm nothing better than a Turk, if ev'ry word isn't gospel. But,” added he gravely, “who could imagine Master William Shakspeare playing the ghost in a country church-yard ?”
“ Or Master Richard Burbage playing the lover to a sexton's daughter ?”
And thereupon the two worthies did laugh till the tears ran down their cheeks, and for some time every word they added seemed to act as a provocative to their mirth.
“ l’faith, after all's said and done,” observed
Master Shakspeare, when he had recovered his gravity, “'twas most exquisite fooling."
“ l’faith it was,” said Master Burbage. “But thou wilt let me have the verses ?” he added, as he sauntered up to the table.
“Ay, marry will I, for old acquaintance sake,” replied his friend, and immediately did search among his papers, from which he presently selected
Scrutinising it earnestly, he continued, “ Ha! here is a string of idle rhymes that mayhap may suit thy purpose, and thy mercer's daughter also. I think of it indifferently; nay, I will acknowledge I fancy 'tis rather discreditable to me; but each has his own taste, and therefore it may stand a chance of pleasing thy inamorata. Listen, and I will read it to thee."
Master Burbage did lean his elbow on the table, having his body bent forward, and supporting his head with his hand; and kept a profound attention whilst Master Shakspeare read the following lines.
“ The Time hath passed for godlike forms
To leave awbile their starry homes,
Elysian joy on niortal domes.
His golden spells on laughing earth ;
With hymns of bliss, and shouts of mirth.
The Sea Nymphs dance not on the shore;
Silent is now the Dryad's flute,
And Pan's sweet reed is heard no more. E'en Love hath folded up his wings,
And from his hand his bow bath cast; Apollo's lyre hath lost its strings,
Its tune hath fled — THE TIME HATH PASSED!
“ Gone are the glorious visitants
Who gave this world so bright a grace, And Grief and Care-a thousand wants,
And endless crimes, are in their place; Unhonoured is the poet's lay
That once made all Olympus glad ;
Or perish with the mean and bad.
That famished souls might break their fast,
The world is dead THE TIME HATH PASSED !
“Oh, no, the Time's restored again,
And with it all its gladdening shapes, The whilst, from off the breast and brain,
The cloud in wbich they lay, escapes. Phoebus in thy bright shape returns,
Thy words chaste Dian's voice enslave, For thee the Sea Nymphs chrystal urns,
When in the bath thy limbs must lave. Love in thine eyes hath ta’en new ground,
And keeps his sharp artillery there; The breeze Apollo's strings hath found,
And stirs them in thy golden hair ; And as for Pan's Arcadian reed,
Tuned with the Dryads, measured trips, What blissful melodies exceed
The music breathing from thy lips ?
Well cared for is the green earth still,
When round thee all Olympus glows;
When worth like thine its praise bestows.
And joy that no ill breath can blast
Can harm me not- THE TIME HATH PASSED !”
“ Excellent good, i’faith!” exclaimed Master Burbage, delightedly. “ Excellent good! If she be not satisfied with it, nothing less than another Iliad will gratify her cormorant fancy. Give me the paper, sweet Will! Dan Homer was a blind ballad-monger to thee, thou prince of rhymers.”
6 Avaunt, thou horrid flatterer !” cried Master Shakspeare, as he allowed his companion to conceal the verses in his
“But 'tis poor fishing with other folks' tackle, Dick,” he added, in his own facetious way.
“ Faith, I care not an' I have good sport: and I'll pay thee for thy tackle with a loose fish or two, replied the other, with a chuckle of inward satisfaction.
“ I'll ha' none o' thy gudgeons,” said his friend, with mock disdain. “When I fish I catch whales."
5 Then hast thou a very blubberly taste," rejoined Master Burbage, “and when I want salve for a wound I'll come to thee; for thou must have a most infinite stock of spermaceti.”