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Excerpts from “Westminster Hall,” by F L Light

In Arts & Letters, British Literature, Creative Writing, Humanities, Literature, Poetry, Shakespeare on August 5, 2015 at 8:45 am

Fred Light

A Shakespearean proficiency in meter and rhetoric may to F L Light be ascribed. Nearly forty of his dramas are now available on Amazon, and twenty have been produced for Audible. His Gouldium is a series of twenty four dramas on the life and times of Jay Gould which he followed with six plays on Henry Clay Frick. The whole first book of his translation of The Iliad was published serially in Sonnetto Poesia. He has also appeared in Classical Outlook  and The Raintown Review. Most of his thirty five books of couplets are on economics, such as Shakespeare Versus Keynes and Upwards to Emptiness the State Expands.

Westminster Hall. James Burbage and Shakespeare are seated.

Burbage: The Privy Council can on riddances
Pronounce. It governs the legalities
Outside the city’s scope or what the Crown
Would touch.

WS:             As a patrician council how
Should they abide your common plea?

Burbage:                                               Why, Will,
Assure yourself, the Council favors quality.
Opinionated oligarchs prefer
Their kind. Ignoble verities will be
Unnoted. Evidential knowledge is
Not high enough in rank to weigh against
Renown. Her name ennobles her complaint.
She is too glorious for a loss in court,
Where reputation has more proof than real
Disproof. Her reputable rank is heard
More readily than ours of trade. She has
Momentous notability while ours
Is mean.

WS:    Thus for a coat of arms I have
In proper requisition been precise;
For with a gentleman’s esteem I’d stand
Protected from the contumelies of power.

Burbage: Yes, yes. Armorial fortitude avails
In litigation where one’s stature is
Observed.

WS:          Incarcerated debtors have
No rank while lordly borrowers are left
At large.
Burbage:     I think the giddy nobleness
Of Oxford fit for jail.

WS:                           He is too high
To see himself deluded.

Burbage:                        And your friend,
Southampton, in excess of easiness
Expends himself.

WS:                     I fear he is far gone
In impecunious vacancies. His goings
Of gold are lightly gamed away.

Burbage:                                     There is
The bloated bonnet of the dowager. Enter Lady Russell.

WS: It swells herself conceitedly to suit
Her rank.

Burbage: The bailiff comes. Enter bailiff.

Bailiff:                                      All present rise
In subject salutation to the lords
Of state. Enter four members of the Privy Council, Sir Robert Cecil, Lord Burghley, Lord Cobham, and Sir Edward Coke, who sit down about a table.
All sit.

Burghley:       What matter, bailiff, is
Before us?

Bailiff:     The petitioners in Blackfriars,
My lord, beseech the Privy Council now
To let no playhouse in their midst be wrought.

Burghley: How many have petitioned with their names?
And who are chief among them?

Bailiff:                                            Twenty nine
Are named thereon. The chief of them are Lady
Elizabeth Russell, Dowager; George Lord Hunsdon; Sir Thomas Browne, knight, Stephen Egerton of Saint Anne’s church, and Richard Field, printer to the Crown.

Burghley: Who would defend the playhouse from this plea?

Burbage: My lord, I am James Burbage, bound
In ownership to build this theatre for
My company, the Lord Hunsdon’s Men, of which
A sharer, William Shakespeare, would with me
Defend it.

Burghley: How then guard your venture when
Your patron is averse thereto?

Burbage:                                   He weighed
His spirit with my lady’s spite and could
Not desperate inspiration brook.

Burghley:                                      That may
Be so. Now Lady Russell, as the prime
Complainant on this parchment, read it out.
Bailiff, to Lady Russell bring the writ.

Lady R: In chambered transformation of the Friars’
Refectory beside Lord Hunsdon’s house
And near Lord Cobham’s, now James Burbage would
By framework a theatrical resort
Complete. An arduous nuisance, cynosurally
Not sane, seductively seditious, would
With brigand congregations Blackfriars crowd.
Amassed in molestation, Londoners
Like jouncers, vagrant japers, changefully
Conjoined, our gentle precinct would deject.
And should diffusive pestilence come down
From God, these crowds will aggravate the course
Of death. And fanfaron profaners would
With throbbing respiration trumpet forth
The entrance for a play, so near the church
In blazing perturbation as to throw
The rightful services of ministers
And pews into distraction. Thus, my lords,
In sensed consideration of this shame
And for that never hitherto there was
In Blackfriars such a playhouse, nor should be
While the Lord Mayor has from London barred
Such faults, which try in unprotected liberties
Their trials of plays, you should this troop displace
And have the rooms reframed for trades of use.

Burghley: What little replication would you players
Pursue?

WS:      My lord, the grandest comprehension was
Required in Rome, where presses ten times broader than
Would come in Blackfriars filled the lanes for plays,
As public delectation laudative
Of Plautus proved. In flowed conventions Romans,
Encompassing convergent wholeness, would
By theatres magnify themselves, immense
Assertions gathering, where Caesar was
Revered. To legion generalities
Extending, throngers without prejudice
To Rome would in the Circus Maximus
Comprise one hundred thousand for the cheer
Of rival favorites on the road. Convened
Contentiousness appeased the populace,
Not their insurgent fluency provoking.
Municipal atonements, unified
Amassments, would be found in theatres, where
The vices are depicted for distaste,
And nothing virtuous is deformed.

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