Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0190. Saturday, 5 March 1994.
From: William Robinson <
Date: Saturday, 05 Mar 1994 10:02:27 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 1st Heir pt.2
Sitting back in the coach Anthony thought how important it was for him to be
separated from his writings. First of all he was involved with receiving
intelleigence from all parts of Europe and as secretary to the Earl of Essex he
had to remain in the shadows. He couldn't afford to draw any attention to
himself. Secondly there was his mother, Lady Ann Bacon, who liked to busy
herself in other people's business. Thirdly and most importantly, there was the
Queen; she mustn't connect him with the poem, which was allegory of what
occurred over 14 years ago between them. It was insignificant to the Queen but
to Anthony it shaped his future.
Even as the sun with golden-colored face
Had ta'en his last look at the purple hills,
White-faced Beth, Queen of the mighty English race,
Returned from the hunt, having shown her skill.
To the manor she returnth guiding her steed,
Surrounded by her Courtiers of food she felt a need.
It was spring 1577, Bess was 44, and had ruled England for 19 years. Traveling
on Summer sojorn, visiting her subjects, she planned a visit to her Lord Keeper
of the Seal, Nicholas Bacon, Anthony's father. Nicholas just completed the
gallery at his Gorhambury home, and with great pride wanted to show it off.
Arriving with her entourage she was to spend the next few days.
Nicholas, Lord Keeper of the Seal, waited
By the entrance as his Queen came into view.
At his side stood his wife who never hesitated
To speak her mind reguardless of whom too.
But to the Queen she held her tongue under lock
For fear that what she said might put her in the stock.
Anthony was summoned home from Gray's Inn and was expected to help with
entertaining his Queen. Anthony wanted nothing to do with the whole thing. But
his father ordered him to attend and for the last two years beginning with his
refusal to marry Dowsabel they have been fighting nonstop. That was why his
brother, Francis was now in France at the Court of King Henry instead of
Anthony. He was paying the price of being rebellious and suffering the
It was the custom during the summer months for the Queen to travel around her
realm staying with her nobility. Each visit drained the host, with each trying
to outdo the other. Days and days of preparation went into this visit throwing
each household in turmoil. But if the Queen wasn't suitably entertained it
could prove very costly, casting one out of favor. It was dog eat dog.
The first day was exciting. When the Queen arrived a big feast was prepared
and waiting. Afterwards everyone went hunting through the forest surrounding
Gorhambury. At nightfall another big meal was served this time with much wine.
As the Queen retired for the evening she requested a private audience with
young Anthony. He was to accompany her and perform on his lute. It was a
request he couldn't turn down.
The candlelight cast shadows across the room playing on the tapestry creating
the illusion of movement and giving more reality to the picture. It was an
arras of Venus, the goddess of love embracing in her arms the beautiful but
reluctant Adonis. The myth as told by Ovid the great Roman poet, tells how
Venus fell in love with the youthful Adonis who unfortunately just wanted to
hunt the wild boar. After many unsucessful attempts and tired of being
constantly shunned, Venus explodes in rage. Through her anger she lets him slip
away to pursue his hunt and is consequently killed by the animal. The arras
shows Venus trying to kiss Adonis on the cheek as he is looking away at a boar
running towards the woods.
Sir Nicholas went to a lot of trouble obtaining the arras. He even suffered the
wrath of his wife who found the tapestry disgusting and pagan in the eyes of
her Lord. His loyalty to the Queen won out, knowing that Elizabeth would find
favor in the arras and enjoy as it was intended. In his zest to please he
didn't realize the tangled web he wove for his son.
Elizabeth always enjoyed perennial devotion and savored it to the fulness of
her existence, whereas many Lords ruined themselves entertaining her. She
sought out this type of flattery, wallowed in it, and a man was promoted or
demoted by his flattery to her. Strange times.
So on the first day after an afternoon of hunting and a superb feast, Anthony
found himself alone playing his lute for the Queen. As the music drifted
through the chamber and the shadows dranced on the wall, the Queen's emotions
focused on the young man of 19.
The queen enjoyed the company of young men after since she came to power, the
very same year Anthony came to life in 1558. Their paths crossed many times
over the years at many state functions. But it has been in the last couple of
hours that the queen visibly took notice of this attractive man of 19. In 19
years she had the occassion to flirt with many and the rumors never stopped.
The legend grew of the Virgin Queen. "Young Anthony, you play the lute
beautifully," Bess spoke softly shifting her position closer. "Are the songs
pleasing to you," replied Anthony confident of his abilities and equally aware
of the closeness of the Queen. "Good music always pleases me, and I'm excited
with your talent. But you must be tired of playing, come share a glass of wine
with me,"she said in a soft but equally commanding voice that wouldn't take no
for an answer.
Putting down the lute Anthony got up slowly and walked over to the Queen. Time
seemed to slow down making Anthony acutely aware of his surroundings. He
starred into the Queen's eyes and what he saw frightened him. She appeared as a
lifesized doll, her face heavily painted white possibly to hide the lines of
age. Her smiled revealed teeth yellow and black, another indication of her age
and of her desire for sweet meats. To Anthony she was far removed from the face
of Venus smiling back in the tapestry. Trained since birth for the role of
Courtier he had to hide his true emotions. He was fully aware of the gossip of
Court and of all the women in England this one was to be feared. He knew what
she was capable of doing to those who displeased her. Anthony who was by nature
rebellious was warned by his father to be on his best behavior and to try with
all his abilities to please his Queen. He felt helpless for the first time in
his life and was being sucked into a vortex without any control. He felt
detached from his body as if he was hovering above looking down on some scene
from a play. She extended her hand with the wine and bid him to drink deep. She
could sense his nervousness and it only excited her more. "Sit down beside me,
don't be shy I won't bite you," she laughed grabing his sweaty hand and gently
pulling him down next to her. "My lady we...." before he could finish the Queen
kissed him on the lips to quiet him. He didn't know what to do, he was limp.
Here was the Queen throwing her arms around him and forcefully kissing his face
and neck. He couldn't respond, feeling her hot breath, hearing her urging him
to relax. "You don't have to be afraid, young Anthony, enjoy this moment."
Anthony tried to relax, he knew it was useless to try and resist. Slowly she
caressed him. "I see that there is some life in you after all, open your eyes
and look at me," the Queen whispered as she moved her hands over him, exploring
Opening his eyes he felt sick inside. The thought terrified him and he could
sense her passion turning to rage. Nobody likes to be rejected especially the
Queen. Anthony by not responding made the Queen feel humilated. Her right hand
reached up and slapped Anthony across the face. She spat in his face and called
him names. She accussed him of being less than a man, of being half dead and
went on and on. He wanted to run, to hide, to escape, but there was no where to
go. He felt a stranger in his own home. In a few years this experience would
come hauntingly back to him and he would write about it in a poem:
`Fie, lifeless picture, cold and senseless stone,
Well painted idol, image dull and dead,
Statue contending but the eye alone,
Thing like a man, but of no women bred!
Thou art no man, though of man's complexion,
For men will kiss ever by their own direction.'
The above is a fictionalized account of what might have happened between
Anthony and the Queen. It is worth noting that when Anthony returned from
France in 1592 he was requested over and over to appear in Court to meet with
the Queen. For the next twelve years he refused to comply by pleading ill. Up
to his death in 1601 he never appeared once in Court to meet with her. For what
reason did he refuse and what were the ramifications of his refusual?
To be continued.