The Tragedy of Sir Walter Raleigh excerpt, By Evan Gunn Wilson

Act III, scene I

Dramatis personae: William Shakespeare
Ben Jonson

Scene: Mermaid Pub

Jonson: Ay! Will, fancy meeting you here at the Mermaid! In my line of profession this is one of the few joys I may cling to without concern of excess.

Shakespeare: Ben, you are grabbing unnecessary attention . . . again. Although, it is a pleasure to see a friend at this hour; the succession of James is near, and I feel ill.

Jonson: I believe, Will, you are crediting yourself with more enemies than you deserve. Amongst my friends with whom you are unacquainted, you are known as sort of the Town Suck-up. I, on the other hand, have much more weight on my dealings than you. James is a passionate man which could result in my fleeing the country or at least an early retirement. Count your blessings, Will.

Shakespeare: Could you be any thicker? You think I am concerned about my repute? If I am pray that I receive a severe punishment of shame. It is not myself that I am sick about, but our friend Raleigh. Oh, and how undeserving he is malicious ill favor! And Raleigh, the free spirited man that he is, wont change his charity or generosity to gain graces with the King. He is too right to change and I imagine James is too selfish to see that.

Jonson: Raleigh? You are concerned for Raleigh? I do think there is an air of overreaction in you. Snuff that out as best you can, otherwise it will eat at you and there is no where to go but down into melancholy. No, Walter is a capable man and has enough allies in the citizenry to have an army, or even flee to America and be his own King. Hell, I believe if poked and prodded enough he will run the king through next chance he gets.

Shakespeare: You vile bastard! You know so little of him! Your mere suggestion of Raleigh conspiring to assassinate our potentate is libelous towards him and could be his undoing. No, Walter is loyal to his friends, but before that he is loyal to his authorities; no matter his condition. And that is the very reason I worry for him. If James wants him dead, Raleigh will be dead. I know this as he is no coward.

Jonson: Will, had I known your passions, I would think your actions were allusions. [sarcastically] Perhaps, I do not see you before me now, and you are really petitioning the king as I become a loon.

Shakespeare: [returning the sarcasm] Oh, and I'll see you stand for Raleigh in his time of need? You know your problem, but you choose to ignore it; at least I observe mine, and you can see my sorrow.

Jonson: Ay, but thereis no point in us ruffling each others feathers when we both agree we would like to see Walter living here in England, free of persecution. All we know is that it is a tough task; the man is a devout protestant and I have a sure notion of what James thinks of that, bloody Stuart.

Shakespeare: Please let us speak no more of it. I take no pleasure in hearing this tragedy.

Jonson: Listen Will, I only ask that you get in the right mind; become a realist. Take a healthy portion of the stoics why don't you. You are a good friend, Will, and I rather not see you go into a spiraling depression. I'd prefer you remain among the living.

Shakespeare: I see your reasoning. You may be my foil, Ben, but I would do very well to keep you around.

Jonson: Now that I have you back, indulge me a little with your true heart felt ideas of James!

Shakespeare: Imprudence, Thy name is Jonson!

Jonson: Well, not what I was looking for, but your manner has changed. Come, say what do you think of how he dresses? How about his pretense, or no his self-righteousness! I can think of hundreds of insults: James has a big head, slobbering mouth, codfish eyes, spindle shanks, drunk, coward.

Shakespeare: Despite your best efforts to resolve mt mind, thoughts are still there. Besides, I worry less about James; it is that reptile Cecil. You may call me double minded but Cecil is a snake that makes a friend and instantly throws them away for higher position.

Jonson: Secretary Cecil? Why I was sure that he liked Raleigh.

Shakespeare: And perhaps he did, but only before James was the suggested successor to the throne.

Jonson: Strange, but I suppose I should not take surprise at this. James has a very imposing will since you and I both lie low in one fashion or another.

Shakespeare: Ben, I have resolved that next I see Raleigh that I warn him of Cecil. I do not know what I want him to do with the information, but it is an itch that I cannot help scratch.

Jonson: I make no objections.

Shakespeare: Very well, but now I must leave your presence to attend a meeting with Marlowe.

Jonson: Bah! I would say that you not waste your time with Kit. Man's an amateur.

Shakespeare: Hold your tongue, Ben.

[exit Shakespeare]

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