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follow in the path of their London ancestors who blow, and brag, and strut in midnight clubs and taverns to the pity and disgust of their table tooters.
Speaking one evening at the Red Lion, in the rooms of Florio, I asked William how it was that his plays were so successful, while those of other authors had almost been banished from the dramatic boards. He at once replied:
I draw my plots from Nature's law
Displayed below for little man.
Shall teach us how to build and toil
If we would mingle with the free,
Who plough the seas or till the soil.
I shall never forget the visit Shakspere and myself paid to the cloistered, columned, pinnacled proportions of Westminster Abbey.
It was three o'clock in the afternoon of the 24th of December, 1592.
The living London world was rushing in great multitudes by alley, lane, street and park preparing for the celebration of Christmas Eve.
Vanity Fair was decked off with palm, spruce, pine, myrtle, ivy and holly to garnish home, hall and shop in honor of Jesus, who had been crucified nearly sixteen hundred years before for telling the truth and tearing down the vested arrogance of religious tyranny.
A bright winter sun was gilding the tall towers of the Abbey with golden light, and the mullioned windows were blazing over the surrounding buildings like flashes of fire.
We entered the court of Westminster through the old school by way of a long, low passage, dimly lighted corridors, with glinting figures of old teachers in black gowns, moving like specters from the neighboring tombs.
As we passed along by cloistered walls and mural monuments to vanished glory, we were soon within the interior of the grand old Abbey.
Clustered columns of gigantic dimensions, with lofty arches springing from wall to nave met the eye of the beholder, and stunned by the solemn surroundings, vain man wonders at his own handiwork, trembling with doubt amid the monumental glory of Old Albion.
The Abbey clock struck the hour of five as William and myself stood in deep contemplation at Poets' corner.
The reverberating tones of time echoed from nave to floor, through cloistered walls and columned aisles, noting the passing hour and ages, like billows of sound rolling over the graves of vanished splendor.
Here crumble the dust and effigies of courtiers, warriors, statesmen, lords, dukes, kings, queens
and authors; and yet, there is no spot in the Abbey that holds such an abiding interest for mankind as the modest corner where lie the dust of noted poets and philosophers.
The great and the heroic of the world may be bravely admired in lofty contemplation of nationality, but a feeling of fondness creeps over the traveler or reader when he bows at the grave of buried genius, while tears of remembrance even wash away the sensuous Bacchanalian escapades of impulsive, poetic revelers.
The author, touched by the insanity of genius, must ever live in the mind of the reader, and while posterity shall forget even warriors, kings and queens, it never fails to preserve in marble, granite, bronze and song the name and fame of great poets.
David, Solomon, Job, Homer, Horace, Ovid, Angelo, Dante and Plutarch are deeply imbedded in the memory of mankind, and although great kingdoms, empires and dynasties, have passed away to the rubbish heap of oblivion, the poet, musician, painter, and sculptor still remain to thrill and beautify life, and teach hope of immortality beyond the grave.
After gazing on the statues of abbots, Knights Templar, Knights of the Bath, bishops, statesmen, kings and queens, many mutilated by time and profane hands, William stood by the coffin of Edward the Confessor and mournfully soliloquized:
Westminster! lofty heir of Pagan Temple;
With imperishable deeds
Liberty of thought and action, shall,
Levels Prince and Peasant, in impalpable dust.
We strut and shine our passing day, and then-
And these dumb mouths, with ghostly spirits near
In September, 1592, the second play of Shakspere, "Love's Labor's Lost," was given at the Blackfriars, to a fine audience.
He took the characters of the play from a French novel, based on an Italian plot, and wove around the story a lot of glittering talk to please the lords and ladies who listened to the silly gabble of their prototypes.
Ferdinand, King of Navarre, and his attendant lords are a set of silly beaux who propose to retire from the world and leave women alone for the space of three years.
The Princess of France and her ladies in waiting, with the assistance of a gay lord named Boyet, made an incursion into the Kingdom of Navarre and break into the solitude of the students.
Nathaniel, a parson, and Holofernes, a pedant schoolmaster, are introduced into the play by William to illustrate the asinine pretensions of ministers and pedagogues, who are constantly introducing Latin or French words in their daily conversation, for the purpose of impressing common people with their great learning, when, in fact, they only show ridiculous pretense and expose themselves to the contempt of mankind.
There are very few noted philosophic sentiments in the play, and the attempt at wit, of the clown, the constable and Holofernes, the schoolmaster, fall very flat on the ear of an audience, while the rhymes put in the mouth of the various characters are unworthy of a boy fourteen years of age.
I remonstrated with William about injecting his alleged poctry into the love letters sent by the lords and ladies, but he replied that young love