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Camp at Tilbury was formed. "It was a pleasant sight to behold the soldiers, as they marched towards Tilbury, their cheerful countenances, courageous words and gestures, dancing and leaping wheresoever they came; and in the camp their most felicity was hope of fight with the enemy: where ofttimes divers rumours ran of their foe's approach, and that present battle would be given them; then were they joyful at such news, as if lusty giants were to run a race." There is another description of an eager and confident army that may parallel
He who wrote this description had, we think, looked upon the patriot trainbands of London in 1588. But, if we mistake not, he had given an impulse to the spirit which had called forth this "strong and mighty preparation," in a voice as trumpet-tongued as the proclamations of Elizabeth. The chronology
of Shakspere's King John is amongst the many doubtful points of his literary career. The authorship of the King John' in two Parts is equally doubtful. But if that be an older play than Shakspere's, and be not, as the Germans believe with some reason, written by Shakspere himself, the drama which we receive as his is a work peculiarly fitted for the year of the great Armada. The other play is full of matter that would have offended the votaries of the old religion. This, in a wise spirit of toleration, attacks no large classes of men -excites no prejudices against friars and nuns, but vindicates the independence of England against the interference of the papal authority, and earnestly exhorts her to be true to herself. This was the spirit in which even the undoubted adherents of the ancient forms of religion acted while England lay under the ban of Rome in 1588. The passages in Shakspere's King John appear to us to have even a more pregnant meaning, when they are connected with that stirring time :
"K. John. What earthly name to interrogatories Can task the free breath of a sacred king?
Thou canst not, cardinal, devise a name
So slight, unworthy, and ridiculous,
To charge me to an answer, as the pope.
Tell him this tale; and from the mouth of England
Add thus much more,-that no Italian priest
Shall tithe or toll in our dominions;
But as we under Heaven are supreme head,
So under Him, that great supremacy,
So tell the pope; all reverence set apart
To him and his usurp'd authority.
K. Phil. Brother of England, you blaspheme in this.
K. John. Though you, and all the kings of Christendom,
Are led so grossly by this meddling priest,
Dreading the curse that money may buy out;
Yet I, alone, alone do me oppose
Against the pope, and count his friends my foes."
"K. John. The legate of the pope hath been with me,
And I have made a happy peace with him;
And he hath promised to dismiss the powers
and mighty men who have fought her battles, the Queen descends from her "chariot throne" to make her "hearty prayers on her bended knees." Leicester, the favourite to whose weak hand was nominally intrusted the command of the troops, has not lived to see this triumph. But Essex, the new favourite, would be there; and Hunsdon, the General for the Queen. There too would be Raleigh, and Hawkins, and Frobisher, and Drake, and Howard of Effingham-one
"This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
'This other Eden, demi-paradise;
Against the envy of less happier lands;
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England."
But, glorious as was the contemplation of the attitude of England during the year of the Armada, the very energy that had called forth this noble display of patriotic spirit exhibited itself in domestic controversy when the pressure from without was removed. The poet might then, indeed, qualify his former admiration ::
"O England! model to thy inward greatness,
Like little body with a mighty heart,
What mightst thou do that honour would thee do,
The same season that witnessed the utter destruction of the armament of Spain saw London excited to the pitch of fury by polemical disputes. It was not now the quarrel between Protestant and Romanist, but between the National Church and Puritanism. The theatres, those new and powerful teachers, lent themselves to the controversy. In some of these their licence to entertain the people was abused by the introduction of matters connected with religion and politics; so that in 1589 Lord Burghley not only directed the Lord Mayor to inquire what companies of players had offended, but a commission was appointed for the same purpose. How Shakspere's company proceeded during this inquiry has been made out most clearly by the valuable document discovered at Bridgewater House by Mr. Collier, wherein they disclaim to have conducted themselves amiss. "These are to certify your right Honourable Lordships that her Majesty's poor players, Janies Burbage, Richard Burbage, John Laneham, Thomas Greene, Robert Wilson, John Taylor, Anth. Wadeson, Thomas Pope, George Peele, Augustine Phillipps, Nicholas Towley, William Shakespeare, William Kempe, William Johnson, Baptiste Goodale, and