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Truly, they could not well go without,” remarked Master Shakspeare, with all his gravity.
“ Well, then, my masters, dost see the drift of my argument?” said Green. “ If the play be supported by the players, and the players be supported by their legs, is it not as true as that chickens come out of egg-shells, that a play goeth upon
“ I question not that if the play stand' at all, it shall have legs to stand upon," observed Master Shakspeare in the same humour, “but I doubt hugely, that the play and the players go together at all times; for it may chance that the players be damned, which is like enough of some of 'em that I know; but the damning of the play doth not follow—especially if it be one of mine."
“Out upon thee, thou intolerable piece of vanity and horrible calumniator !” cried Master Green, laughing all the time, “I will forswear thy company, and on the instant take myself off.”
“ Do so, Tom,” replied Master Shakspeare, as his friend was leaving him, “thou wilt save me an infinite world of trouble by it--for I have been taking thee off this many a day.”
" I owe thee one for that !” emphatically exclaimed the other, turning round as he was going out at the door, and shaking his droll face at him very merrily, “ and if I pay thee not, Will, thou
shalt hold me in no more estimation than a soused gurnet.”
“ Away with thee, thou wilt never become half so dainty a piece of pickle!” retorted his companion.
When Green was gone Master Shakspeare did. address Burbage in his usual playful manner, with “ Well, Dick-did the verses play the part thou wouldst have them ?” 6 Excellently well,” replied he.
« In truth, never verses had better reception. If she be not an exquisite judge of all the commodities of a good measure, then stand I on very indifferent footing with a pretty woman.”
" I'faith, thy feet have but an indifferent appearance, Dick,” said Master Shakspeare, gravely looking down upon the other's shoes.
66 That must needs become a standirg joke,” observed his companion.
“ It may, for I do not think it deserves to be set down.”
“Go too !” exclaimed Master Burbage, jocularly. 66 But listen to me. I watched her the whilst she read thy poem, and, believe me, her face be worth the looking at: and as she proceeded she opened her pretty lipsa tempting pair, by this light ! and said, • That is not ill'--and anon, brave words!' and presently, an excellent good conceit;' and
thus went she till she came to the end-when she did acknowledge that they were of better stuff than she had expected of me.”
6. Then must she have had a marvellous bad opinion of thee," duly remarked his companion, “ and evidently knew thy value to a fraction. But what didst get for them ?”
“ Dost think I kiss and tell?” said the other, in a seeming indignation. “But I tell thee how it is, Will I have cut out him of the sonnet-he hath no more chance than a drowned kitten in Houndsditch. And our next assignation hath a very pretty conceit in it, for it is agreed between us that I shall come to her door; and to prevent mistakes, when she says “who's there,' at my knocking, I am to reply, · It is 1–Richard the Third.'”
“ What, dost mean to play the tyrant with her?” laughingly enquired Master Shakspeare. “But let not thy longings for her father's gold make thee too sanguine. Mayhap thou wilt find plenty of Richmonds in the field yet.”
“I care not if there be-I am desperately in love ; and if she is to be had, will have her in spite of them,” replied Master Burbage. “ But there is our Stentor, with his lungs o’leather, giving me a pretty loud hint that I am wanted; so I am off.” Saying which, he hastily departed at the door.
“ And how like you the players and their associates," asked Master Shakspeare to his young companion.
“ In truth, exceeding well,” replied Master Francis, cheerfully, “never have I been so much amused as during the time I have been here. Methinks they must lead a right merry life.”
They are the very grasshoppers of the age," observed his friend, “a small matter of sunshine sufficeth to make them chirp; notwithstanding which they osttimes live in fear of being trodden under foot, or snapped up by such as think fit to devour them and their substance.” Doubtless, in this Master Shakspeare did allude to the efforts that had been made by the city authorities to deprive himself and his associates of performing plays within their jurisdiction.
After some time longer passed in the room, his friend did lead Master Francis out just as many of the players came in, denoting that the play was over; and after carefully picking his way along, he was brought before a large curtain, in the which there was a hole whereat Master Shakspeare took a peep, and desired his companion to do the same. He looked, and saw a throng of people of the respectable sort, standing up close together a little below him ; whilst a vast number of rooms, all round about and above them, were filled with
lords and ladies, and the like, very splendidly attired; and up higher on “ the scaffold,” or gallery, were a crowd of the meaner kind, who could afford neither a shilling or a sixpence, such as had been paid by " the groundlings,” and those in the rooms, but came only as threepenny customers. open to the sky, and at top was a great flag. But what struck him the most was the noise and hubbub of the people. Some were shouting “ God save the queen," others casting up their hats, and the ladies waved their handkerchiefs; and turning his eyes to where the looks of the audience were directed, Master Francis beheld, in the largest of the rooms, all daintily fitted up with curtains of satin and gold, her majesty, Queen Elizabeth, who, with a very queenlike dignity, had presented herself in front of her noble attendants, clad with princely magnificence; and continued most graciously to curtsey to her applauding subjects.
He had not been many minutes engaged in observing this interesting scene, from the attractions of which he could scarcely take off his eyes, when he felt himself touched on the shoulder, and turning round, saw a handome and gallant looking gentleman approaching the place where he stood.
“I have been in constant expectation of seeing you, Sir Walter"
Speed thee, Master Shakspeare, and follow me,” said the other, interrupting him quickly.