THE COMING OF JAMES; ROYAL FAVOR
THE rapidly failing health of the aged Queen caused most of the Court festivities to be omitted during the Christmas season of 1602-03. Elizabeth, indeed, had withdrawn from London to her palace at Richmond in search of quiet; yet on February 2, 1603, she summoned thither her favorite troupe, the Chamberlain's Men, to entertain her with a play. This proved to be the last time she was to call upon them. On March 19 the Privy Council, in view of her sinking condition, ordered the discontinuance of dramatic performances in the city; and on the morning of March 24, she quietly passed away at Richmond.
Many poets wrote tributes suitable to the memory of so great a Queen; but Shakespeare, in spite of the obvious favor she had always shown him and his troupe, maintained a complete silence. The fact did not escape comment. Henry Chettle, whom we met at the outset of the poet's career in London, now again crossing his path, expressed regret that the dramatist had forborne to --
Drop from his honied Muse one sable tear
To mourne her death that gracèd his desert,
And to his laies opened her royal ear;
and with an obvious allusion to Lucrece he added the injunction:
Shepherd, remember our Elizabeth,
And sing her rape done by that Tarquin, Death.
A second writer, who remains anonymous, likewise reproved Shakespeare for his silence: