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Prerogative. 197

"Body o' me! 'Tis well he built his Almshouses ere he made his Knights: so shall he have house-room for them!"

"'Twas irrespective of the Royal prerogative."

"Nay, We allowed of some!"

"True, gracious! But, in the excess, 'twill bring the noble order to contempt"

"Then, by the wounds We'll hack their laquered

spurs from off their peasant heels!"

"Madam, that may not be!"

"Not be, sirrah—not be! Is there no precedent? 'Tis not for the Council that! 'Tis our prerogative, as you call it—eh?"

"True, Royal madam! Yet, i' the opinion of the world"

"Marry, that! Are we amenable to the opinion of the world? Go to, sirrah—your world!"

"Your Majesty!"

"Answer me that, Sir Robert. Answer me that!"

"Your most gracious and most mighty Majesty is advised in the matter more better than your poor Secretary and humble servant!"

"Go to! A fig for your opinion o' the world! A fig, I say!"

"Yet, gracious Madam"

"We are not so lewdly given as care for the opinion of the world! Ha!"

"Yet, Madam, suffer me to say your Council will be judged i' the matter. 'Twill be said the Earl's enemies moved it in spleen. Twas never known that Sovereigns took those honours off they or their substitutes put on but on attainder."

"By God's passion, you are i' th' right, Sir Robert! We will have this dubbing limited to ourselves, or soon 'twill become tag, rag, cut, and bobtail; and in the interval will soundly rate the gracious Earl. Body o' me, but he is right Royal as ourselves, with his Thomas of Woodstock blood—much! We must take order on't lest he grow too high, and overtop the monarch of the woods. Ha!"

"Tis my constant fear, most Royal lady."

"You—you fear it! Dost fear it, Cecyl? Ha!"

"In all sincerity, and in much grief, most gracious Queen!"

Her Grace Mindeth. 199

"What instance, sir? Quick! Quick.! Speak, and at once!"

"Madam, those things I have rehearsed."

"What else? Come; no reservation, sir!"

"His peremptoriness in the Council—his faction amongst the Lords—his favour with the people—his often courting military men—his covetousness of armies"

"Ha!"

"Your Highness shall call to mind when York from Ireland"

"Leave us now, Sir Robert. Begone, I say !M

"Hereford from banishment"

"Begone!"

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CHAPTER XIV.

"Let us condemn him, tread him down in water
While he doth lie upon the bank."

Sejanus His Fall, act v. sc. x.

HE Archangel's feast and commemoration of the Armado being on the morrow, Taileton, now old and motley-minded, conceiveth that my Lord cometh as the Goose, to be plucked by their Lordships of the Council. One emulous of his place saith with a gleek, "Thou shalt be Lord Envoy for thy savoury jest," and with that tears the poor fool's calf-skin, and had gone well nigh to pull his cap and bells over his head.

"Prythee, vent thy folly farther off, and be naught awhile," quoth a pantler; for 'twas beside the Master of the Horse's table this chanced. My Lord, it coming to his ear, comforteth Richard with a Cup o' Sack, and a " How Testsof a Goose. 201

do'st, man?" to which he, in a silly vein (his mind still hammering on the season)—

"I'd fain see your Lordship," quoth he, "triumphing over your enemies, like S. Michael i' the painted cloth yonder, an I might live to it; for there be some here crooked enow for the Devil's tail in a pageaunt."

And there was a merry laugh, and a sly joke, for the fool's bolt maketh a whirr; and none can answer a fool but according to his folly. In his own element the jester hath the vantage of the wise man, as your small crab pulled the big fox under water i' the fable.

And Essex was in high spirits, eating freely, as was his wont, but talking more than was usual with him, having William and his friends beside him. And the officers of the Court who, of use, dined at my Lord's table, asked of Ireland, and of their progress through those parts, and of the people; and the Earl shewed them of those matters liefly, speaking of the true nobleness and hospitality of some: to wit, the great Earl of Ormonde, and the Lord Le Poer of Curraghmore; and the Earls of Kildare and Clan Richard; and how they and the higher sort equalled in civility our English gentles, surpassing them often in wit

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