Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
A dashing Prince Hal and a resplendent Sir Francis Drake were there Monday night. So were the Earl of Essex, Jane Seymour and Anne Howard, the wife of Sir Thomas More. Good Queen Bess and Mary, Queen of Scots, could not make it but sent messages by their emissaries.
With a fanfare of long trumpets (rented in New York City), these were among the 200 guests heralded at the Fifth Annual Folger Library acquisitions benefit last night.
They feasted on such 16th-century delicacies as mousse, smoked hadlock, hot vension pastry, Good King Henry Spinach, taffety tarts, all washed down with liberal liberations of wine and sack.
For their feasting and revelry, they paid $125 a plate, which for some certainly must have recalled these lines from Richard II "And for these great affairs do ask some charge towards our assistance/We do seize to [WORD ILLEGIBLE] the plate, coin, revenues, and moveables . . ."
The theme was Mirth and Merriment in Tudor England as the Folger banquet to raise money for new acquisitions for the library.
In the Great Hall, lit by tall tapers, the guests sat down to long tables, and when they were through feasting, they found that, indeed, Shakespeare did have a line for all occasions: "I am stuffed," as we noted in "Much Ado About Nothing."
The guests were either in black tie or costumes of the Tudor period. O. B. Hardison, Folger director, was of good leg in his hose, doublet and headdress as a royal personage.
Sir Francis Drake was more authentic than some of the other costumed guests. Rear Adm. Richard B. Black, who came as the reincarnated Sir Francis, had a 16-century sword and helmet from his own personal collection. For guests who wanted to appear in costume, outfits were rented from a New York theatrical supply house with size determining the character you might play.
"I'm Anne Howard because I fit the costume of the actress who played the role in 'A Man for All Seasons,'" observed Leni Spencer, director of museum and public programs for the Folger.
As it turned out, the vest of armor that Adm. Black, as Sir Francis Drake, wore proved a definite hindrance to gallantry. When a lady dropped a handkerchief on the floor, he found that he could not bend over to pick it up.
One guest not in disguise was Richard Helms, former head of the CIA.
Before the feast in the Great Hall, Sir Ian Richardson gave a selection of readings from the works of Shakespeare in the Folger's Elizabethan Theater. Sir Ian, who has played all the major Shakespearean roles except King Lear and has said he will wait until he is 50 to take on the role, did read from two scenes from Lear.
As the guests left the theater, it was to the music of the Earl of Oxford March - which would provide a delicious irony for Oxfordians, who do not acknowledge that William Shakespeare was the author of all those tragedies, comedies and sonnets but insist the real author was the Earl of Oxford.
The benefit was presented under the patronage of British Ambassador and Mrs. Peter Jay. The cochairmen were Mr. and Mrs. Huntington Block and Mr. and Mrs. Sander Vanocur. Last year, the benefit raised some $15,000 for new acquisitions for the Folger.