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And hey, thanks for reading along.
As I was some time with the lawyer, the Lord Admiral’s Men’s performance was near to starting by the time I made Bankside, some many booths and tents marking the vendors of food, drink and varied sundries that did flock about any performance like gulls, all clamoring for a snack of coin from the crowds gathered. I made to the theater straight, paying my penny and pushing with much effort and accepting many insults as I made through the throng crammed in the yard to the front of the stage that was the reserve in any theater for those poor groundlings who would standing in such muck the play enjoy, such comfort as a seat in the surrounding arcades might provide being beyond their means. The crowd was such thick and of such temper at my attempts to pass that I knew, come morning I would bear not few bruises for my efforts. But as his word, Burbage had claimed the prime spot, he and Heming fending off those that tried encroach until I could press to their left and gain their company at the front edge of the stage just as the play was begun.
“How with the lawyer, Will?” Burbage asked.
“I think well, but soon events will tell.” There was something odd in his manner, as if he had gained knowing of some further sad news in the few hours since I was last in his company..
“And what now?” I asked, at which Heminges reached across to pass some small pamphlet, atop which clear I could read mine own name.
Do your coins make rich
Satan’s Good Servant?
As Clear you already do despise the good grace of God by choice to frequent such vile entertainments as do here transpire, I rightly fear any further charge doth fall upon such ears as already sealed up against any appeal to grace, but do pray that once you know the debased nature of such human agents who do these entertainments create, you may in their foul deeds recognize such evils as you do buttress, and such lusts and appetites that do cloud your vision will fall away and you will see clear to frequent these iniquities no more and beg God his forgiveness and return to his fold.
Wm. Shakespeare, much eminent amongst the merchants of filth that are the diseased fare of these venues, though lawful married, hath oft lain with such fallen women who can his favors endure, but in his latest adventure hath made such brazen insult to God’s command as to shock the conscience of even such fellow players as did before celebrate his depravity so that they have made such known to me.
In recent weeks, having made acquaintance of a fair child who did her father’s booth tend at the Royal Exchange in Threadneedle, he did seduce her to his foul purposes, much to her despair, as she be not such wanton harlot as is his usual custom but instead a too-trusting and Godly child, and having to his cunning blandishments yielded, she did, in depths of such despair as he had caused her, leap from the bridge unto her death.
We did to both Sheriff and Bailiff appeal that he be made to answer before law for such offense, but as the child, now dead, can offer no testimony, and such witness who to our keeping has entrusted this tale is of the theater also and of insufficient character so as to speak in her stead, so it falls to our poor office to at least share such tale to you fallen who do these foul districts frequent so you should at least know those devils whose mouths you do feed and may, perchance, redeem your ways.
A Puritan Friend
I felt my shame hot on my face, and could scarce look up at my fellows, double shamed that, having the past day been much distracted both with Carey’s charge and with the Company’s matters, I had, after such harsh night as I did first pass upon learning of those events related in the pamphlet, suffer for it only little, and then triple shamed to know that what distress I felt now was for myself and the cost of having such insult as I had done to my made honor, though thinking my own honor now immune to insult, as one can little harm the dead.
“I will not call it false,” I said.
And Burbage shrugged, and did reach his arm around my shoulder and pull me to him close and say into my ear to be heard over the clamor of the crowd that now did greet the players as they took the stage, “I call thee my good friend, Will – and I do say good, knowing full such ills as we may each commit, sure knowing full my own, and sure that you do suffer for those sins you know to be such, and do require no scold from me but instead only my love.”
Heminges, too, did reach to squeeze my arm in assent to Burbage’s word, and I did spill some tears in shame for my deeds, regret for my reputation and love for such friends as with which I was unjustly blessed, whilst all about, our common fellows did rollick at the comedy on stage, for some short hours taking leave of the concerns of their mean estate and seeming little caring for those numerous pamphlets now crushed into the muck.
After play’s end, whilst we waited for the crowd to some disperse, Alleyn called down from the stage, saying “Will, it seems your spear does shake, quivering likely in weariness from its frequent employ, and in this at least, sir, I must admit you my better, for whilst the ladies do me some little love, I have not the surfeit of their adoring from which you profit.” And he gave a deep bow, his gibe seeming meant in good humor..
Burbage then having to add, “They do thee little love, there being so little,” then grabbing his codpiece, “and so little,” Alleyn then again making rush at Burbage and having by his fellows to be restrained, and then drug back across the stage, such being the common method of his exit whene’re he and Burbage did meet.
Making with Burbage and Heminges our way back to the bridge, I was some accosted by such of my acquaintance as that had seen the pamphlet, but more in good spirit than in ill, such broadsides being increasingly fired at varied persons in our professions by the swelling Puritan ranks who did find in us so much offense. And so, whether those I knew felt the charge true or no, they did ignore it or else used it in sport,
But I did doubt that such common eyes as these were meant this instrument’s true audience, and suspect in this, in the late attack on my person, and in our eviction some broader scheme to do our Company ill, and also knew that I owed these fellows who had again their loyalties proved the tardy duty of truth.