Three weeks ago we stopped off in England in April of 1564, when Shakespeare
was born. Now we'll leap ahead fifty-two years from that date, to April
of 1616, and Shakespeare's death.
The poet and dramatist died on April 23rd. Perhaps this is the real reason
for the slightly arbitrary choice of the same date for his birth in 1564
­p; some desire for symmetry. In on the 23rd. Out on the 23rd.
Regardless, William Shakespeare was not the first playwright to shuffle
off this mortal coil in 1616. Dramatist Francis Beaumont had died on March
6th. But enough of somber stuff for a moment. What else were our English
cousins up to, on both sides of the Atlantic?
Elizabeth I was gone now, and James VI and James I sat on the throne ­p;
he wasn't cloned, he just retained his Scots title. In Greenwich, just downstream
a ways from London, architect Inigo Jones commenced work on a palace for
Anne of Denmark, England's Queen. She would die three years later, long
before her new H-shaped Palladian palace was completed. Queen Henrietta
Maria, wife of the new king, Charles I, would be it's first occupant. She
liked it so well it was dubbed the House of Delights.
Many eyes were focused on the New World ­p; Captain John Smith's A
Description of New England had just been published. William Baffin set
off on his fifth voyage.
But it was a return crossing that really excited the Londoner of that year.
John Rolfe was aboard. So? Ah, but he was bringing his new American wife
with him. Some barbaric sounding name? Oh, yes. Pocahontas. No talking raccoons
though. She entered what must have seemed a miraculous world. Dramatist
Ben Jonson was introduced. Her old acquaintance John Smith also. Rebecca
­p; that was her new Christian name ­p; joined the King and Queen
to attend Jonson's new Twelfth Night masque.
All this would end in 1617, when the smallpox that was decimating the native
tribes in her homeland, reached back across the ocean and carried off her,
as well as two of her twelve native retainers, all strangers in a strange
For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor.
© 1997 David Minor / Eagles Byte
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