Thursday, January 10, 2008

Drawing from Life

William Shakespeare lived in an incredible time, and no doubt drew inspiration for his work from events that surrounded him. Here are some contemporary passages from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I that he may have found helpful....

If any person had either the gift or the style to win the hearts of the people, it was this Queen. All her faculties were in motion, and every motion seemed a well-guided action; her eye was set upon one, her ear listened to another, her judgement ran upon a third, to a fourth she addressed her speech; her spirit seemed to be everywhere. Some she pitied, some she commended, some she thanked, at others she pleasantly and wittily jested, condemning no person, neglecting no office, and distributing her smiles, looks and graces so artfully that thereupon the people again redoubled the testimony of their joys, and afterwards, raising everything to the highest strain, filled the ears of all men with immoderate extolling of their prince.
-Sir John Hayward on Elizabeth I's entrance into London
November 28, 1558

We princes are set as it were upon stages in the sight and view of all the world.
-Elizabeth I
October 29, 1586

He carries his love and his hatred on his forehead.
-Unknown person describing the Earl of Essex

She walks much in her chamber, and stamps with her feet at ill news, and thrusts her rusty sword at times into the arras in great rage.
-Sir John Harington on Elizabeth's reaction to Essex's uprising
February, 1601

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