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It was at Nonsuch that the Queen usually devoted her leisure hours to intellectual pursuits ; and one cannot imagine any thing of that nature more agreeable to her cultivated mind than the emanations of the all-gifted mind of Shakespeare.

It is most probable that our poet was introduced to the notice of the Queen by the Earl of Essex, and that his introduction to Lord Essex was by his friend and munificent patron, the Earl of Southampton.

As Queen Elizabeth possessed great literary attainments, and delighted much in literature and the drama, so she patronised the superior classes of dramatists, and availed herself of their recreative qualities to divert her mind after the fatigues of regal duties.

The details which have come down to us are very scanty in their elucidation of the times and manner in which her Majesty was entertained with dramatic representations at the palace of Nonsuch ; neither have we been successful in our endeavours to obtain a definite knowledge of the dates when the Queen visited that palace : it is only recorded that, in the latter years of her life, she frequently sojourned there; and that plays and dramatic pastimes formed a part of the amusement of the court there ; but of the names or nature of the dramas, or of the performers, we have no correct knowledge, save that Shakespeare and Tarlton were, at times, honoured with her Majesty's commands to attend.

We feel a gratification in remarking that, however highly honoured Shakespeare might feel by the flattering distinction which he received at the Queen's hands, he fully manifested his sense of it, and repaid it with tributary stanzas of gratitude, of a surpassing kind, which are introduced in his various dramas, breathing a spirit of adulation most refined, without admixture of servility.

First, we find, in “Midsummer Night's Dream,” that, with lofty imagery, graceful flattery, and poetic genius, he compares the Queen to a western star, viz. :

“ That very time I saw (but thou could'st not),

Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
Cupid all arm’d: a certain aim he took,
At a fair Vestal, throned by the west ;
And loos’d his love-shaft smartly from his bow,
As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts :
But I might see young Cupid's fiery shaft,
Quench'd in the chaste beams of the wat’ry moon;
And the Imperial Votress passed on,
In maiden meditation, fancy free."

MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, ii. 2.

What a fine illustration is this of his own beautiful metaphor of

“ The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,

Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven,”' &c.

Secondly, in “Henry VIII.,” upon her christening, when Garter King-at-Arms addresses an invocation to Heaven in her behalf, viz. :

Heaven, from Thy endless goodness ! send prosperous life, long, and ever happy, to the high and mighty Princess of England, Elizabeth."

HENRY VIII. v. 4. Afterwards, Cranmer pronounces a species of prediction of her rising virtues, worldly eminence, and Heavenly goodness :

“Let me speak, sir,
For Heaven now bids me ; and the words I utter
Let none think flattery, for they 'll find them truth.
This royal infant (Heaven still move about her!),
Though in her cradle, yet now promises
Upon this land a thousand thousand blessings,
Which time shall bring to ripeness : She shall be
(But few now living shall behold that goodness)

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A pattern to all princes, living with her,
And all that shall succeed : Sheba was never
More covetous of wisdom, and fair virtue,
Than this pure soul shall be : all princely graces,
That mould up such a mighty piece as this is,
With all the virtues that attend the good,
Shall still be doubled on her : truth shall nurse her:
Holy and Heavenly thoughts still counsel her ;
She shall be lov'd and fear'd: Her own shall bless her:
Her foes shake like a field of beaten corn,
And hang their heads with sorrow : Good grows with her:
In her days, every man shall eat in safety,
Under his own vine, what he plants; and sing
The merry songs of peace to all his neighbours :
God shall be truly known; and those about her,
From her shall read the perfect ways of honour;
And by those, claim their greatness, not by blood.

* * * * * * * *
She shall be, to the happiness of England,
An aged Princess ; many days shall see her,
And yet no day without a deed to crown it.”

HENRY VIII. v. 4.

Then again, in “The Merry Wives of Windsor :”—

“ About, about,
Search Windsor Castle, elves, within and out:
Strew good luck, Ouphes, on every sacred room ;
That it may stand till the perpetual doom,
In state as wholesome as in state 't is fit ;
Worthy the owner, and the owner it.”.

MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, v. 5.

NONSUCH.

The following is a description of Nonsuch Palace, published by Horace Walpole, at Strawberry Hill, 1757, derived from Camden.

Nonsuch, a royal retreat, built by Henry VIII. with an excess of magnificence and elegance, even to ostentation. The whole science of architecture seemed to have been exhausted upon this building ; everywhere so many statues, of exquisite workmanship ; so many miracles of consummate art; so many casts, that rivalled even the perfection of Roman antiquity, that it claimed, and justly so, its distinguished name of Nonsuch, being without an equal; for, as the poets sung:

• This, which no equal has, in art or fame ;

Britons, deservedly, do Nonsuch name.' And also :

• Unrivall'd in design, the Britons tell,

The wond'rous praises of this Nonpareil.' “ The palace was so encompassed with parks, full of deer ; delicious gardens ; groves, ornamented with trellis-works ; cabinets of verdure; and walks, so embrowned by trees, that it seemed to be a place chosen by Pleasure to dwell in, along with Health.

This is all the information (interesting to Shakespearians) that we have been enabled to collect of that once renowned palace of Nonsuch, where the votaries of Thalia and Melpomene were wont to assemble : Not a vestige of it now remains ;—it has wholly disappeared, and

“ Like the baseless fabric of a vision,

Left not a rack behind.”

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