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this conceit, yet here must I say this much-to wit, Master Shakspeare did bring out his play called "The Merry Wives of Windsor," that was so much approved of by Queen Elizabeth and all her court upon its reading, at which time her majesty with a fine company of courtiers did honour the playhouse with her presence, and seemed to relish the acting of it marvellously; and it met with wonderful success, as its singular merit well deserved. To mark the sense the queen's majesty had of him, his vast genius, and great honesty of heart, the next day she sent him a purse of money with a commendable message. After this he sat to the writing of other plays, whereof many were relished of the town in a like manner, and these, together with what he derived from his playing, brought him in such gains, as gave him no fear of the future, and enabled him to send loving tokens to his relations very frequently, and to invite his brother Edmund from Stratford to become a player with him in London.

His reputation continuing so to increase, he was much sought after by many noblemen and persons of worship, who took huge delight in his society for the delicacy of his wit and the honourableness of his behaviour. He was held in such request of them, that no name was so oft or famously spoken of; and amongst the gay gallants of the time, not to have been in company with Master Shakspeare argued a want of distinction that was considered of all an infinite disparagement. Of those who esteemed him most was there none so true a friend as my Lord of Southampton, for he seemed not only never to tire in doing him good service, but the more he did for him in the way of friendliness, the more appeared he inclined to do. Indeed he was such a patron as a poet hath been seldom blessed with, but this also may be said, he met with such a poet as patron never had. About this time Master Shakspeare took also to the writing of poems, whereof one was of the subject of Venus and Adonis, and the other the Rape of Lucrece, and both were very movingly writ, and full of right delicate fancies. They were dedicated by him unto his excellent good friend and patron, in token of what respect he held him in, and in grateful remembrance of my lord's manifold good offices.

It so fell out that Master Shakspeare, though he had some share in the playhouse at the Blackfriars before this, as well as that of the Globe at the Bankside, had been exceeding








anxious to have greater share in them; yet lacked he the means to do it with, for it required no small sum. He had saved but little, and could scarce expect, saved he ever so, to get for some years to come as much as he needed. This told he to none, for he was not of a nature to solicit a favour, though few writers of his time stood upon much ceremony in that respect. His friend Master Burbage knew of it only, and it was like enough he should have more knowledge of his affairs than any other, because of their being such constant associates, sharers of the same property, and fellowplayers; and from its being equally the desire of one as of the other, that Master Shakspeare should have a greater interest in the playhouse than what he had. For such purpose the latter was eager to increase his gains as fast as he might that he should the sooner realise his wish, therefore brought he out as many plays as he could, together with the poems that have already been mentioned.

About this time Master Shakspeare was in a large room in the playhouse at Blackfriars, that served as a wardrobe. It had shelves and presses in it as many as it could hold, and pins against the wainscot, on which were placed a wonderful variety of different dresses, such as might be worn of the players in their different plays. There were the robes of the Ottomite and the Venetian, the swarthy Moor and the gay Italian, the ancient Greek and Roman, and others of modern date, as well foreign as English, together with divers suits of armour, weapons of sundry sorts, hats, caps, cloaks, doublets, jerkins, and boots, seemingly out of all number. The room was so crowded with such motley gear that there was scarcely a space for one to sit; yet had Master Shakspeare found himself a seat, he being in the habit of using this chamber as a dressing-room; and there sat he in a deep arm-chair, resting of himself, as if after some labour he had undergone, or considering of some matter he was intent upon. He was dressed in what appeared to be a complete suit of armour, having his vizor up, and what could be seen of his face looked exceeding pale and ghostlike, but doubtless that was from some white stuff he had put on it to make it so. He was leaning back in his seat, with his legs stretched out before him, resting upon his elbow upon an old table, upon which there was seen a rapier and a hat, some papers, with pen and ink, a silver goblet with a flask of wine at the side of it, and two or three books. There was a log blazing 2


on the fire-dogs nearly opposite to him, which cast a cheerful light over the room.

Whilst he was sitting as he was, there was ever and anon heard a voice shouting out famously, which beyond all manner of doubt could belong to none other than Gib the callboy; and at other times there was heard a noise like unto a great clapping of hands. Once the latter sounds were of so great a loudness, it roused Master Shakspeare from his thoughtfulness, and he jumped up of a sudden with a smile upon his face, that showed he found some satisfaction in them. Then he took off his helmet, and such portion of his armour as encased the upper part of his body and arms; and going to an ewer and basin that stood in a corner, fell to washing of his face, humming of a merry tune all the while, which was only interrupted by the splashing of his mouth with the water. As he was finishing of his lavation he broke out into the following pleasant song.

"Go, happy youth, and loudly swear

That with thy Love none can compare;
And vow to own her angel hand,

Will make the proudest of the land.

Thou hast her hand. 'Though that be true,
I asked not for a cudgel too;

And though mine own my angel be,
She now doth play the devil with me.'

• Alack! alack! and well-a-day!'
I heard a hapless husband say,
Bachelors all be not too bold,
'Tis better go hang than marry a scold.'

"Go, happy youth, and swear once more,
Thy Love all Loves be far before.
Troth I another wife have got,
Who never rateth me one jot.'
A month passed by-the honey-moon-
The doting husband changed his tune;
"O hapless wight! my wife,' cried he,
'Loves others quite as well as me!'

Alack! alack! and well-a-day!'
I heard a hapless husband say,
'Bachelors all be not betrayed,
'Tis better go hang than marry a jade.’

"Go, happy youth, and swear at last
That all thy travail now is passed.

'I'faith 'tis true. My wooing thrives-
I've found the very best of wives.'
Another month went by-again
I heard the horn-mad fool complain.
'She doth not scold-she doth not roam-
But drinketh me out of house and home.'

Alack! alack! and well-a-day!'
I heard a happy widower say;-
'Bachelors all-seek ye no thrall,
'Tis better go hang than marry at all.' "

This sung he with such a happy carelessness, it was plain he had not much to fret him; but scarce had he finished it when he heard some one whom he knew on the instant, coming towards the door whistling of the tune of Green Sleeves." Not being in a state to be seen of any, for that he was but half dressed, he presently hied to the door and bolted it inside.



Ope the door, Will " cried Master Burbage from without, knocking at it briskly. "Ope the door, I prythee."

"Tarry awhile, Dick," replied Master Shakspeare, "I cannot let thee in for some minutes."

"Nay, why should I tarry?" inquired the other, "did I not hear thee singing like a very swan? Haste and ope the door, for I must have speech with thee.'


Tarry awhile, Dick, I tell thee again," said his companion with more emphasis than at first. "I can let thee in now on no account."

"Oh thou villain !" exclaimed he on the outside in his customary jocular manner. "I see through thy tricks now. Thou art not the bird to be ever a singing to thyself. Thou hast got some pretty wench with thee-a murrain on thee for thy slyness."

"Thou art out in thy reckoning this time, good Dick, depend on't," observed Master Shakspeare laughingly.

"By this hand I do not believe thee," cried Master Burbage. "It be plain from thy singing so like unto a swan, and thy not opening the door to me, that thou art playing at Jupiter and Leda after thine own fashion. Oh, I be so monstrously shocked! I be afraid my innocency will so suffer by keeping of thy villanous company, I shall soon get me a bad character. Dost not know that evil communications corrupt good morals, and be hanged to thee?"


Thy good morals, Dick!" exclaimed the other in the like

bantering way. "Under what bushel hast thou hid so goodly a rushlight? Thy good morals! Diogenes with his lanthern might have met with an honest man, but if he spied thy good morals searched he ever so close, he must needs be blest with marvellous fine eyesight."

"Out on thee for a reprobate !" cried his companion. “Thou dost slander the modestest nature that breathes.”

"Then alack for modesty !" replied Master Shakspeare. "But I tell thee what it is Dick-I am stripped to the buff, therefore be as patient as thou canst for a minute or so."


"I do hugely suspect thee," said Master Burbage. "Thou art not the first I have met in a buff jerkin, therefore is there no occasion to make that a hindrance.' Notwithstanding of what he said, his friend opened not the door till he was ready. "I'faith thou lookest marvellous well considering that thou hast just given up the ghost," observed Master Burbage upon his entering. "Be thy intent wicked or charitable, oh, representative of the majesty of buried Denmark! But I will see with mine own eyes whether thou hast not been cozening of me." Upon this, whilst Master Shakspeare could not but laugh, the other began to look about him with a monstrous earnestness, rummaging of every place, spying into the drawers and presses, and under the tables and chairs.


Mayhap thou hast conjured her into the bottle," observed he very seriously, as he first took a look into the flask, and then poured out some of the wine into the goblet. "Well, if she be as good as this," continued he, upon drinking off the liquor," then is she the very excellentest woman I ever came anigh. I'faith, she cannot help being a wench after mine own heart. I drink to her better acquaintance." And thereupon he drank off another draught of the wine.

"But how hath Hamlet gone off to-day ?" inquired Master Shakspeare, as soon as he could put on him a serious face.

"Naught could go better," replied his companion. "I was in front best part of the time, and famously did I notice thy admirable performance; I tell thee truly, Will, thou art the only ghost I would care to look on a second time."

"I believe thee there, Dick," said the other with a laugh."Nay, 'tis probable enough thou wouldst much rather turn thy back on a ghost than look on it at all."

"I will acknowledge to thee, I liked not holding acquaintance with any," said Master Burbage.

"And yet they be not unsocial," observed Master Shak

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