Shakespeares Christmas Gift to Queen Bess

Anna Benneson McMahan
Shakespeare's Christmas Gift to
Queen Bess
by Anna Benneson

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Queen Bess
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Title: Shakespeare's Christmas Gift to Queen Bess
Author: Anna Benneson McMahan
Release Date: December 28, 2006 [EBook #20210]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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[Illustration: Queen Elizabeth going to Whitehall through London

Shakespeare's Christmas Gift To Queen Bess
In the year 1596
By Anna Benneson McMahan
[Illustration: THE MERMAID TAVERN]
Chicago A.C. McClurg & Co.
Published October 12, 1907
822.33 HN8 1907 McMahan, Anna (Benneson) Shakespeare's
Christmas gift
To my sister Lina in memory of the Christmases of our childhood.

"All, though feigned, is true."

Page I At the Mermaid 11
II At the Queen's Palace 33

III A Christmas Carol of the Olden Time 65

Queen Elizabeth going to Whitehall through London Streets
At the Mermaid 13
The River Avon at Stratford 14
Birthplace of Mary Arden, Mother of Shakespeare 16
Warwickshire House of the Tudor Period 18
Old Graves in Trinity Churchyard, Stratford 20
Old Warwickshire Cottages 24
A Group of Morris Dancers 26
Garden View of Shakespeare's Birthplace, Stratford 30
Queen Elizabeth going to Whitehall by the Thames 35
Portrait of the Earl of Essex 36
Portrait of the Earl of Southampton 40
Queen Elizabeth listening to the Play 44
"Observance to a morn of May" 46
Woods near Stratford 50
Earl of Leicester receiving Queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth 54

Portrait of Queen Elizabeth in her Later Years 58
A Dance of the Sixteenth Century 62

At the Mermaid.
Thus Raleigh, thus immortal Sidney shone (Illustrious names!) in great
Eliza's days.
--Thos. Edwardes.
[Illustration: At the Mermaid]


At the Mermaid.
The numberless diamond-shaped window panes of the Mermaid Tavern
are twinkling like so many stars in the chill December air of London. It
is the last meeting of the Mermaid Club for the year 1596, and not a
member is absent. As they drop in by twos and threes and gather in
groups about the room, it is plain that expectation is on tip-toe. They
call each other by their Christian names and pledge healths. Some are
young, handsome, fastidious in person and dress; others are bohemian
in costume, speech, and action; all wear knee breeches, and nearly all
have pointed beards. He of the harsh fighting face, of the fine eye and
coarse lip and the shaggy hair, whom they call Ben, although one of the
youngest is yet plainly one of the leaders both for wit and for wisdom.
[Illustration: The River Avon at Stratford

"I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where oxlips and the
nodding violet grows." ]
That grave and handsome gentleman whose lordly bearing and princely
dress mark his high rank, is another favourite. He has written charming
poems, has fought gallantly on many fields, has voyaged widely on
many seas, has founded colonies in distant America, is a favourite of
the Queen. But in this Mermaid Club his chief glory is that he is its
founder and leader, the one whose magnetism and personal charm has
summoned and cemented in friendship all these varied elements.
At last the all-important matter of the yearly Christmas play at court
has been settled; the Master of the Revels has chosen from the rich
stores of his manuscripts "The Midsummer Night's Dream", graciously
adding that "for wit and mirth it is like to please her Majesty
exceedingly." A high honor, indeed, for its author. For, not then, as
now, were plays written primarily for the recreation and approval of the
audience of the theatre. True, the public stage was fostered, and
attracted its daily audience, but rather as a dress rehearsal, its main
purpose being to train the players for the court presentations at one of
her Majesty's palaces. The secret spur to both players and playwright
was the hope of being among the chosen for the festivities at Richmond,
Whitehall, or Greenwich, as the Queen might fancy to hold her court.
[Illustration: Birthplace of Mary Arden, Mother of Shakespeare
"Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine With sweet musk-roses
and with eglantine." ]
[Illustration: Warwickshire House of the Tudor Period]
Disappointment, soreness, jealousy, not seldom followed the award of
the coveted distinction,
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