AS IT WAS BY THE SOCIAL FIRESIDE,
IN THE TIME OF THE TUDORS.
[MEM.-The following is supposed to be an extract from the diary of the Pepys of that day, the same being cup-bearer to Queen Elizabeth. It is supposed that he is of ancient and noble lineage; that he despises these literary canaille; that his soul consumes with wrath to see the Queen stooping to talk with such ; and that the old man feels his nobility defiled by contact with Shakspere, etc., and yet he has got to stay there till Her Majesty chooses to dismiss him.]
YESTERNIGHT toke her majesty the queene a fantasie such as shee sometimes hath, & hadde to her closet certaine that doe write playes, bookes, & such like, these beeing my lord Bacon, his worship Sr. Walter Ralegh, Mr. Ben Jonson, & the childe Frances Beaumonte, who beeing but sixteen, hath yet turned his hand to the doing of the Lattin masters in our Englyche tong, with grete discretion & much applaus. Also came with these the famous Shaxpur. A righte straunge mixing truly of mighty blood with mean, the more in especial syns the queenes grace was present, as likewyse these following, to wit: Ye Duchesse of Bilgewater, twenty-two yeeres of age; the Countesse of Granby, twenty-six ; her doter, the Lady Helen, fifteen; as also these two maides of honor, to wit : the Lady Margery Boothy, sixty-five, & the Lady Alice Dilberry, turned seventy, shee beeing two yeeres the queenes graces elder.
I beeing her majesty's' cup-bearer, hadde no choyce but to remayne & behold ranke forgotten, & the high holde converse With the low as uppon equal termes, a grete scandal did world heare therof.
In the heat of the talke it befell that one did breake wind, yielding an exceding mighty & distressfull stink, whereat all did laffe full sore, and then :
Ye Queene. Verily in mine eight and sixty yeeres have, I not heard the fellow to this fart. Me seemeth, by the grete sound and clamour of it, it was male; yet the belly it did lurk behinde shoulde now fall lene & flat agaynst the spine of him that hath beene delivered of so stately & so vaste a bulke, whereas the guts of them that doe quiff-splitters bear, stand comely still & rounde. Prithee, lette the author confesse the offspring. Will my Lady Alice testify?
Lady Alice. Good your grace, an'I hadde room for such a thundergust within mine ancient bowels, 'tis not in reason I coulde discharge the same & live to thanck God for that Hee did chuse handmayd so humble whereby to shew his power. Nay, 'tis not I that have broughte forth this ryche overmastering fog, this fragrant gloom, so pray you seeke, ye further.
Ye Queene. Mayhap the Lady Margery hath done the companie this favour ?
Lady Margerey. So please you madam, my limbs are feeble with the weighte and drouth of five & sixty winters, & it behoveth that I be tender unto them. In the good providence of God, an'I hadde contained this wonder, forsoothe woulde I have gi'en the whole evening 0f my sinking life to the dribbling of it forth, with trembling & uneasy soul, not launched it sudden in its matchless might, taking myne owne life with violence, rending my weak frame like rotten rags. It was not I, your majesty.
Ye Queene. O God's naym, who hath favoured us ? Hath it come to pass that a fart shall fart itself ? Not suche a one as this, I trow. Young Master Beaumont; but no, 'twould have wafted him to Heav'n like down of goose's boddy. 'Twas not ye little Lady Helen--nay, ne'er blush, my child; thoul't tickle thy tender maidenhedde with many a mousie-squeak before thou learnest to blow a harricane like this. Was't you, my learned & ingenious Jonson ?
Jonson. So fell a blast hath ne'er mine ears saluted, nor yet a stench so all-pervading & immortal. Twas not a novice did it, good your majestie, but one of veteran experience--else hadde hee fayled of confidence. In sooth it was not I.
Ye Queene. My lord Bacon?
Lord Bacon. Not from my leane entrailes hath this prodigie burst forth, so please your grace. Naught doth so befit the grete as grete performance; & haply shall ye finde that 'tis not from mediocrity this miracle hath issued.
(Tho' the subject bee but a fart, yet will this tedious sink of learning ponderously philosophize. Meantime did the foul & deadly stink pervade all places to that degree, that never smelt I the like, yet dared I not to leave the presence, albeit I was like to suffocate.)
Ye Queene. What saith the worshipful Master Shaxpur?
Shaxpur. In the grete hand of God I stand, & so proclaim my innocence. Tho'gh the sinless hosts of Heav'n hadde foretold the comyng of this most desolating breath, proclaiming it a werke of uninspired man, its quaking thunders, its firmament clogging rottennesse his owne achievement in due course of nature, yet hadde not I believed it; but hadde sayd the pit itself hath furnished forth the stink, & Heav'n's artillery hath shook the globe in admiration of it.
(Then was there a silence, & each did turne him toward the worshipful Sr Walter Ralegh, that brown'd, embatteld, bloudy swashbuckler, who rising up did smilel & simpering, say :)
Sr. W. Most gracious majestie, 'twas I that did it, but indeed it was so poor & frail a note, compared with such as I am wont to furnish, that in sooth I was ashamed to call the weakling mine in soe august a presence. It was nothing less than nothing, madam, I did it but to clere my nether throat; but hadde I come prepared then hadde I delivered something worthy. Bear with mee, please your grace, till I can make amends.
(Then delivered hee himselfe of such a godlesse & rocke-shivering blast that all were fain to stop their ears, & following it did come so dense & foul a stink that that which went before did seeme a poor & trifling thing beside it. Then saith he, feigning that he blushed & was confused, I perceive that I am weak to-daie & cannot justice doe unto my powers; & sat him down as who sholde say, There, it is not moche ; yet he that hath an arse to spare lette hym fellow that, an' hee think hee can. By God, an' I were the queene, I wolde e'en tip this swaggering braggart out o' the court, & lette him air his grandeurs & break his intolerable wynd before the deaf & such as suffocation pleaseth.)
Then fell they to talke about the manners & customs of many peoples, &Master Shaxpur spake of the booke of the sienur Michael de Montaine, wherein was mention of the coustom of widows of Perigord to wear upon the hedde-dress, in sign of widowhood, a jewel in the similitude of a man's member wilted & limber, whereat the queene did laffe & say, widows in England doe wear prickes too, but 'twixt the thyghs, & not wilted neither, till coition hath done that office for them. Master Shaxpur did likewise observe how that the sienur de Montaine hath also spoken of a certaine emperour of suche mightie prowesse that hee did take ten maiden-heddes in the compass of a single night, the while his empresse did entertain two&twenty lusty knights atweene her sheetes, yet was not satisfide ; whereat the merrie Countesse Granby saith a ram is yet the emperour's superiour, sith hee will tup above an hundred yewes 'twixt sunne & sunne, & after, if that hee can have none more to shag, will masturbate until hee hath enrych'd whole acres with hys seed.
Then spake the damned wyndmill, Sr Walter, of a people in the uttermost parts of America that copulate not until they be five-&-thirty yeeres of age, the women beeing eight-&-twenty, & doe it then but once in seven yeeres.
Ye Qneene. How doth thatte like my lyttle lady Helen ? Shall wee send thee thither & preserve thy belly ?
Lady Helen. Please your highnesses grace, mine old nurse hath told mee there bee more ways of serving God than by locking the thyghs together; yet am I willing to serve him that way too, sith your highnesses grace hath set the ensample.
Ye Queene. God's wowndes a goode answer, childe.
Lady Alice. Mayhap 'twill weaken when the hair sprouts below the navel.
Lady Helen. Nay, it sprouted two yeeres synce; I can scarce more than cover it with my hand now.
Ye Queene. Hear ye thatte, my little Beaumonte ? Have ye not a smalle birde about ye that stirs at hearing tell of soe sweete a neste ?
Beaumonte. Tis not insensible, illustrious madam; but mousing owls & bats of low degree may not aspire to bliss soe whelming & ecstatic as is found in downie nests of birdes of Paradise.
Ye Queene. By the gullet of God, 'tis a neat-turned compliment. With soche a tong as thyne, lad, thou'lt spread the ivorie thyghs of many a willing mayd in thy good time, an' thy cod-piece bee as handy as thy speeche.
Then spake the queene of how shee met old Rabelais when shee was turned of fifteen, & hee did tell her of a man his father knew that hadde a double pair of bollocks, whereon a controversy followed as concerning the most just way to spell the word,the contention running high 'twixt the learned Bacon & the ingenious Jonson, until at last the old Lady Margery, wearying of it all, saith, ,Gentles, what mattereth it how ye shall spell the word ? I warrant ye when ye use your bollocks ye shall not think of it; & my Lady Granby, bee ye content; lette the spelling bee; you shall enjoy the beating of them on your buttocks just the same, I trow. Before I hadde gained my fourteenth yeere I hadde learnt that them that would explore a cunt stop'd not to consider the spelling o't.'
Sr W. In sooth, when a shift's turned upp delay is meet for naught but dalliance. Boccaccio hath a story of a priest that did beguile a mayd into his cell, then knelt him in a corner for to pray for grace that hee bee rightly thanckfull for this tender maidenhedde the Lord hadde sent him; but the abbot spying through the key-hole, did see a tuft of brownish hair with fair white flesh about it, wherefore when the priest's prayer was donne, his chance was gone, for-asmuch as the lyttle mayd hadde but the one cunt, & was already occupied to her content.
Then conversed they of religion, & the mightie werke the olde dead Luther did doe by grace of God. The next about poetry, & Master Shaxpur did rede a parte of his Kyng Henry iv, the which, it seemeth unto mee, is not of the ualve of an arsefvl of ashes,yet they praised it bravely,one&all.
The same did rede a portion of his ,,Venus & Adonis to their prodigious admiration, whereas 1, beeing sleepy & fatigued withal, did deme it but paltrie stoffe, & was the more discomforted in that the bloudie bucanier hadde gotte his wynd again, & did turne his mind to farting with such villain zeal that presently I was like to choke once more. God damn this wyndy ruffian &all his breed. I wolde that hell mighte gette hym.
They talked about the wonderful defense which olde Sr Nickolas Throgmorton did make for himselfe before the judges in the time of Mary; which was unlucky matter for to broach, sith it fetched out the queene with a Pity that hee, having soe moche wit, hadd eyet not enogh to save his doter's maiden hedde sounde for her marriage-bedde. And the queene did give the damn'd Sr.Walter a look that made hym wince--for shee hath not forgot hee was her own lover in that olde daie. There was silent uncomfortableness now ; 'twas not a good turne for talk to take, sith if the queene must find offense in a little harmlesse debauching, when pricks were stiff & cunts not loath to take the stiffness out of them, who of your companie was sinless; beholde was not the wife of Mafter Shaxpur four months gone with child when she stood uppe before the altar? Was not her Grace of Bilgewater roger'd by four lords before she hadde a husband ? Was not the lyttle LadyHelen born on her mother's wedding-day? And, beholde, were not the Lady Alice &the Lady Margery there, mouthing religion, whores from the cradle ?
In time came they to discourse of Cervantes, & of the new painter, Rubens, that is begynning to bee heard of. Fine words & dainty-wrought phrases from the ladies now, one or two of them beeing, in other days, pupils of that poor ass, Lilly, himself; & I marked how that Jonson & Shaxpur did fidget to discharge some venom of sarcasm, yet dared they not in the presence, the queene's grace beeing the very flower of the Euphuists herselfe. But beholde there bee they that, having a specialtie, & admiring it. in themselves, bee jealous when a neighbour doth essaye it, nor can bide it in them long. Wherefore 'twas observable that the queene waxed uncontent; &in tyme a labord grandiose speech out of the mouthe of Lady Alice, who manifestly did mightily pride herself thereon, did quite exhauste the queene's endurance, who listened till the gaudy speeche was done, then lifted up her brows, & with vaste irony, mincing sayth, ,,O shit ! Whereat they all did laffe, but not the Lady Alice, the olde foolish bitche.
Now was Sr Walter minded of a tale hee once did hear the ingenious Margrette of Navarre relate, about a maid which beeing like to suffer rape by an olde archbishoppe, did smartly contrive a device to save her maydenhedde, &said to him, ,,First, my lord, I prithee, take out thy holy tool & piss before mee, which doing, lo hys member felle, &woulde not rise again.
Ye Academie Presse,
M DCCC LXXX IL