« PreviousContinue »
forsaken of his friends, and held in scorn, being triumphed over by his enemies. This was more than the Earl of Essex could well stomach! From sorrow and repentance, yea, from praying and hearing of sermons, to rage and rebellion of heart, he shifted suddenly. Harrington, visiting him, "Thank Heaven !" quoth he, " I am safe at home, and if I go in such troubles again I deserve the gallows for a meddling fool. For he uttered such strange words, bordering on such strange designs, that I was fain haste forth from his unruly presence. His speeches of the Queen become none who hath * mens sana in corpore sanoJ The man's soul seemeth tossed to and fro, like the waves of a troubled sea." And what he spake of the Queen it seems he stinted not to write unto her. "You may tell those that thirst and gape after my ruin, that you have now an advantage that, being in passion, I spake rashly." And this too fell from him; which was by some carried to her ear. "When I expected a harvest, a tempest is arisen unto me. If I be wanting to myself, my friends, and my country, it is 'long of others, not of me. The Queen hath thrust me down into a private life: I cannot serve with base obsequiousness. Neither doth my conscience accuse me. I have
Effex jlareth. 253
unjustly been committed to custody. Princes have not an infinite power: they may err with others. I have received wounds to my honour! Let them triumph: I will not follow their chariot! These things must have an end. The Queen is an old woman. She is now no less crooked in mind than in body; as curst in humour as she is cankered in her carcass!"
"Oh, behold this ring,
Whose high respeB and rich validity
Did lack a parallel"
All's Well That Ends Well, act v. sc. 3.
"You could, for a need,jludy a speech of some dozen or sixteen lines, which I would set down and insert in't! could you not?"
Hamlet, act 11. sc. 11.
UCH is the force of heaven-bred poesy!
'Tis as a cool breeze upon the crisped skin!
To the recovering sick man, sunshine, air! 'Tis a perpetual fountain running happiness! To the wounded spirit, a sweet balm of sympathy! How comfortable, the mind being overwrought or the body weary, when 'tis the imagination only works, and your thoughts and feelings shall be handsomely decked for you! Tis the sheen essence of life—no less!
Our Poet. 255
"Now the rose and the peony, our carnations and streaked gilly-flowers, the daffodil and lilly, wild thyme and bold oxlip: nay, the nodding violet, the pied daisy, pale primroses that die unmarried .ere they can behold bright Phœbus in his strength, the marygold that goeth to bed with the sun, and with him rises weeping;—as they could not have scent nor colour without light and warmth, moisture and breath; so man, if he have no poetry in himself— and 'tis the fame with music—one not moved with concord
of sweet sounds, is fit for" And by this time Master
Shakspeare had reached the wicket in the Strand leading to Essex-house.
As he approached the Earl's presence, Cuffe looked up from some letters he was writing. There was a silent recognition. Antony Bacon gave him good-morrow, staying for the nonce the burning of papers in a brazier. My Lord was retired, whispering with Sir William Cheney; but both rose to greet the Poet.
Now Sir Thomas was unable to ride long journeys. He was fast drawing towards the threescore years and ten the sweet Psalmist of Israel speaketh of. But Sir William had been several times to London, seeking to see his friend. 'Twas utterly in vain, as you well know, so guarded was each passage; and it had only been by Davy, once or twice, that he had sped a word through 'Zekiel to the Earl. So soon, however, as. this strictness was relaxed, he had hastened up. Oh, how heartily they met; and oh, how fondly cherished was the memory of that embrace! At this moment William was urging Essex wholly to retire from court, leaving all cares behind; to retreat, once and for ever, from the mere vanity of shadowy joys, and to inhabit home at Chartley, where, with wife and children, he would enjoy the real happiness of life. He thought he was making some impression; for though, when he raised his voice, Master Cuffe would scowl, ever and anon he met good Antony's approving eye.
Master Shakspeare came, he said, to do his service to my Lord; and, if it might stand with my Lord's pleasure to accept a trifle, he should seel himself honoured offering his last writ Comedy. Essex was more than gracious, nay, very thankful—" For," said he, "there be more cast stones at a dog with an evil name, than care to give him a piece of their dinner." And William asked, "What might the Comedy be?" and the Poet said, " Tis the Merchant of Venice."