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way, do justice to the occasion, and intimated that when he arrived at the Red Lion in London, he could write up Cleopatra and Antony, and the ten-years' siege of Troy, with Helen, Agamemnon, Ulysses, Achilles, Pandarus, Paris, Troilus, Cressida and Hector as star performers in the plays.
It was not very often that I interfered with William in his personal movements and aspirations, but as he had given so much of his poetry in illustration of our recent travels, and knowing that I was in honor bound to report to posterity all he said and did as his mental stenographer, I begged him to "give us a rest," and "let it go at that."
The next day the Albion bore away for the Strait of Gibraltar, rounding Portugal, Spain and France, sailing into the Strait of Dover, passed Gravesend, until we anchored in safety under the shadow of the Blackfriars Theatre, where a jolly crowd of bohemians greeted our rapid and successful tour of continental and classic lands.
"This accident and flood of Fortune
So far exceed all instance, all discourse,
"MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM."
"This is the fairy land; O spite of spites We talk with goblins, owls, and elfish sprites.
'Tis still a dream, or else such stuff as
Madmen tongue and brain!”
"If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it."
SHAKSPERE had blocked out the play of "Midsummer Night's Dream" in the year 1593, and completed it in the summer of 1599.
The story of Palamon and Arcite by Chaucer, and the love of Athenian Theseus for the Amazonian Queen Hippolyta, as told by Plutarch, gave William his first idea of composing a play where the acts of fairies and human beings would assimilate in their loves and jealousies.
One evening while seated at the Falcon Tavern, in company with the Earl of Southampton, Essex, Florio, Bacon, Cecil, Warwick, Burbage, Drayton and Jonson, William read the main points of the play, which was lauded to the skies by all present.
Burbage, the manager of the Globe, suggested to Essex and Southampton that it would be a grand idea to have the "Dream" enacted in the park and woods of Windsor !
It was a novel idea, and one sure to catch the romantic sentiments of Queen Elizabeth, as old Duke Theseus, the cross-purposed lovers, Bottom and his rude theatrical troop, and the fairies, led by Oberon, Titania and Puck could have full swing in the forest, sporting in their natural elements.
In reading or viewing the play, the mind wanders in a mystic grove by moonlight and breathes at every step odors of sweet flowers, while listening to the musical murmurings of fantastic fairies and echoing hounds in forest glens.
Theseus was the first and greatest Grecian in strength of body, second only to his cousin Hercules, each reveling in the god-like antics of seduction, incest, rape, robbery and murder!
The Persian, Egyptian, Grecian and Roman gods commingled with the heroes and heroines of mankind and committed unheard of crimes with impunity, the most outrageous villain seeming to be honored as the greatest god!
The amphitheater grove in front of Windsor Castle, overlooking the Thames, was the place selected for the exhibition of the "Dream." Natural circular terraces for the spectators.
The Virgin Queen had sent out five thousand invitations to her wealthy and intellectual subjects to attend the new and romantic play of Shakspere, "Midsummer Night's Dream," on the 4th of July, 1599.
Everything had been prepared in the way of natural and artificial scenery by the direction of William, while the Queen sat on a sylvan throne, embowered in vines and roses, surrounded by all her courtiers, ladies and lords, in grand, golden array.
The night was calm, bright and warm, while the young moon and twinkling stars, shining over Windsor, lent a celestial radiance to the scene, where lovers and fairies mingled in the meshes of affection. Candles, torches, chimes, lanterns and stationary fire balloons were interspersed through the royal domain in brilliant profusion.
Essex and Southampton were, unfortunately, absent in Ireland putting down a rebellion.
William took the part of Theseus, Field played Hippolyta, Burbage played Puck, Heminge represented Lysander, and Condell Demetrius, while Phillips and Cooke played respectively Hermia and Helen, Jo Taylor played Oberon and Robert Benfield acted Titania, the fairy queen.
The characters Pyramus and Thisbe were played by Peele and Crosse.
The play opens with a grand scene in the palace of Theseus, who thus addresses the Amazonian Queen Hippolyta :
"Now, fair Hippolyta, our mutual hour
Draws on apace, four happy days bring in, Another moon; but, O, methinks, how slow This old moon wanes! She lingers my desires, Like to a step-dame, or a dowager,
Long withering out a young man's revenue!"
"Four days will quickly steep themselves in nights; And then, the moon shall behold the night Of our solemnities."
Egeus, a wealthy Athenian complains to Duke Theseus that his daughter Hermia will not consent to marry Demetrius, but disobedient, insists on wedding with Lysander.
Theseus decides that she must obey her father or suffer death, or enter a convent, excluded from the world forever.
Theseus reasons with Hermia thus:
"If you yield not to your father's choice,
Chanting fair hymns to the cold, fruitless moon.
This sentiment was cheered heartily by the great forest audience, and "Queen Bess" led the applause!
Lysander pleaded his own case for the heart of Hermia, and sighing, says:
"Ah, me! for aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth!"