A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Vol. VIII (4th edition)

Part 3 out of 10

There where your greedy uncle is Lord Prior.

MUCH. O, murrain on ye! have you two 'scap'd hanging?[190]
Hark ye, my lord: these two fellows kept at Barnsdale
Seven year to my knowledge, and no man[191]--

ROB. H. Here is no biding, masters: get ye in,
Take a short blessing at your mother's hands.
Much, bear them company; make Matilda merry:
John and myself will follow presently.
John, on a sudden thus I am resolv'd--
To keep in Sherwood till the king's return,
And being outlaw'd, lead an outlaw's life.
(Seven years these brethren, being yeomen's sons,
Lived and 'scap'd the malice of their foes.)[192]
How think'st thou, Little John, of my intent?

LIT. JOHN. I like your honour's purpose exceeding well.

ROB. H. Nay, no more honour, I pray thee, Little John;
Henceforth I will be called Robin Hood.
Matilda shall be my maid Marian.
Come, John, friends all, for now begins the game;
And after our deserts so grow our fame!



_Enter_ PRINCE JOHN, _and his Lords, with Soldiers_.

JOHN. Now is this comet shot into the sea,
Or lies like slime upon the sullen earth.
Come, he is dead, else should we hear of him.

SAL. I know not what to think herein, my lord.

FITZ. Ely is not the man I took him for:
I am afraid we shall have worse than he.

JOHN. Why, good Fitzwater, whence doth spring your fear.

FITZ. Him for his pride we justly have suppress'd;
But prouder climbers are about to rise.

SAL. Name them, Fitzwater: know you any such?

JOHN. Fitzwater means not anything, I know;
For if he did, his tongue would tell his heart.

FITZ. An argument of my free heart, my lord.
That lets the world be witness of my thought.
When I was taught, true dealing kept the school;
Deeds were sworn partners with protesting words;
We said and did; these say and never mean.
This upstart protestation of no proof--
This, "I beseech you, sir, accept my love;
Command me, use me; O, you are to blame,
That do neglect, my everlasting zeal,
My dear, my kind affect;" when (God can tell)
A sudden puff of wind, a lightning flash,
A bubble on the stream doth longer 'dure,
Than doth the purpose of their promise bide.
A shame upon this peevish, apish age,
These crouching, hypocrite, dissembling times!
Well, well, God rid the patrons of these crimes
Out of this land: I have an inward fear,
This ill, well-seeming sin will be bought dear.

SAL. My Lord Fitzwater is inspired, I think.

JOHN. Ay, with some devil: let the old fool dote.

_Enter_ QUEEN MOTHER, CHESTER, SHERIFF _of Kent, Soldiers_.

QU. MO. From the pursuing of the hateful priest
And bootless search of Ely are we come.

JOHN. And welcome is your sacred majesty;
And, Chester, welcome too against your will.

CHES. Unwilling men come not without constraint;
But uncompell'd comes Chester to this place,
Telling thee, John, that thou art much to blame,
To chase hence Ely, chancellor to the king;
To set thy footsteps on the cloth of state,
And seat thy body in thy brother's throne.

SAL. Who should succeed the brother but the brother?

CHES. If one were dead, one should succeed the other.

QU. MO. My son is king, my son then ought to reign.

FITZ. One son is king; the state allows not twain.

SAL. The subjects many years the king have miss'd.

CHES. But subjects must not choose what king they list.

QU. MO. Richard hath conquer'd kingdoms in the east.

FITZ. A sign he will not lose this in the west.

SAL. By Salisbury's honour, I will follow John.

CHES. So Chester will, to shun commotion.

QU. MO. Why, John shall be but Richard's deputy.

FITZ. To that Fitzwater gladly doth agree.
And look to't, lady, mind King Richard's love;
As you will answer't, do the king no wrong.

QU. MO. Well-said, old Conscience, you keep still one song.

JOHN. In your contentious humours, noble lords,
Peers and upholders of the English state,
John silent stood, as one that did await
What sentence ye determin'd for my life:
But since you are agreed that I shall bear
The weighty burthen of this kingdom's state,
Till the return of Richard our dread king,
I do accept the charge, and thank ye all,
That think me worthy of so great a place.

ALL. We all confirm you Richard's deputy.

SAL. Now shall I plague proud Chester.

QU. MO. Sit you sure, Fitzwater.

CHES. For peace I yield to wrong.

JOHN. Now, old man, for your daughter.

FITZ. To see wrong rule, my eyes run streams of water.

[_A noise within_.

_Enter_ COLLIERS, _crying, A monster_!

COL. A monster! a monster! bring her out, Robin: a monster! a monster!

SAL. Peace, gaping fellow! know'st thou where thou art?

1ST COL. Why, I am in Kent, within a mile of Dover.
'Sblood, where I am! peace, and a gaping fellow!
For all your dagger, wert not for your ging,[193]
I would knock my whipstock on your addle-head.
Come, out with the monster, Robin.

WITHIN. I come, I come. Help me, she scratches!

1ST COL. I'll gee her the lash. Come out, ye bearded witch.

[_Bring forth_ ELY, _with a yard in his hand and
linen cloth, dressed like a woman_.

ELY. Good fellows, let me go! there's gold to drink,
I am a man, though in woman's weeds.
Yonder's Prince John: I pray ye, let me go.

QU. MO. What rude companions have we yonder, Salisbury?

1ST COL. Shall we take his money?

2D COL. No, no; this is the thief that robbed Master Michaels, and came
in like a woman in labour, I warrant ye.

SAL. Who have ye here, honest colliers?

2D COL. A monster, a monster! a woman with a beard, a man in a petticoat.
A monster, a monster!

SAL. What, my good Lord of Ely, is it you?--Ely is taken, here's the

1ST COL. Pray God we be not hanged for this trick.

QU. MO. What, my good lord!

ELY. Ay, ay, ambitious lady.

JOHN. Who? My lord chancellor?

ELY. Ay, you proud usurper.

SAL. What, is your surplice turned to a smock?

ELY. Peace, Salisbury, thou changing weather-cock.

CHES. Alas, my lord! I grieve to see this sight.

ELY. Chester, it will be day for this dark night.

FITZ. Ely, thou wert the foe to Huntington:
Robin, thou knew'st, was my adopted son.
O Ely, thou to him wert too-too cruel!
With him fled hence Matilda, my fair jewel.
For their wrong, Ely, and thy haughty pride,
I help'd Earl John; but now I see thee low,
At thy distress my heart is full of woe.

QU. MO. Needs must I see Fitzwater's overthrow.
John, I affect him not, he loves not thee:
Remove him, John, lest thou removed be.

JOHN. Mother, let me alone; by one and one
I will not leave one that envies our good.
My Lord of Salisbury, give these honest colliers
For taking Ely each a hundred marks.

SAL. Come, fellows; go with me.

COL. Thank ye, [i'] faith. Farewell, monster.

[_Exeunt_ SALISBURY, _with_ COLLIERS.

JOHN. Sheriff of Kent, take Ely to your charge.
From shrieve to shrieve send him to Nottingham,
Where Warman, by our patent, is high shrieve.
There, as a traitor, let him be close-kept.
And to his trial we will follow straight.

ELY. A traitor, John?

JOHN. Do not expostulate:
You at your trial shall have time to prate.

[_Exeunt cum_ ELY.

FITZ. God, for thy pity, what a time is here!

JOHN. Right gracious mother, would yourself and Chester
Would but withdraw you for a little space,
While I confer with my good Lord Fitzwater?

QUEEN. My Lord of Chester, will you walk aside?

CHES. Whither your highness please, thither I will.

[_Exeunt_ CHESTER _and_ QUEEN.

JOHN. Soldiers, attend the person of our mother.
[_Exeunt_ SOLDIERS.
Noble Fitzwater, now we are alone,
What oft I have desir'd I will entreat,
Touching Matilda, fled with Huntington.

FITZ. Of her what would you touch? Touching her flight,
She is fled hence with Robert, her true knight.

JOHN. Robert is outlaw'd, and Matilda free;
Why through his fault should she exiled be?
She is your comfort, your old[194] age's bliss;
Why should your age so great a comfort miss?
She is all England's beauty, all her pride;
In foreign lands why should that beauty bide?
Call her again, Fitzwater, call again
Guiltless Matilda, beauty's sovereign.

FITZ. I grant, Prince John, Matilda was my joy,
And the fair sun that kept old Winter's frost
From griping dead the marrow of my bones;
And she is gone; yet where she is, God wot:
Aged Fitzwater truly guesseth not.
But where she is, there is kind Huntington;
With my fair daughter is my noble son.
If he may never be recall'd again,
To call Matilda back it is in vain.

JOHN. Living with him, she lives in vicious state,
For Huntington is excommunicate;
And till his debts be paid, by Rome's decree
It is agreed absolv'd he cannot be;
And that can never be: so ne'er a[195] wife,
But a loathed[196] adulterous beggar's life,
Must fair Matilda live. This you may amend,
And win Prince John your ever-during friend.

FITZ. As how? as how?

JOHN. Call her from him: bring her to England's court,
Where, like fair Phoebe, she may sit as queen
Over the sacred, honourable maids
That do attend the royal queen, my mother.
There shall she live a prince's Cynthia,
And John will be her true Endymion.

FITZ. By this construction she should be the moon,
And you would be the man within the moon!

JOHN. A pleasant exposition, good Fitzwater:
But if it so fell out that I fell in,
You of my full joys should be chief partaker.

FITZ. John, I defy thee! by my honour's hope,
I will not bear this base indignity!
Take to thy tools! think'st thou a nobleman
Will be a pander to his proper[197] child?
For what intend'st thou else, seeing I know
Earl Chepstow's daughter is thy married wife.
Come, if thou be a right Plantaganet,
Draw and defend thee. O our Lady, help
True English lords from such a tyrant lord!
What, dost thou think I jest? Nay, by the rood,
I'll lose my life, or purge thy lustful blood.

JOHN. What, my old ruffian, lie at your ward?[198]
Have at your froward bosom, old Fitzwater.

[_Fight_: JOHN _falls_.

_Enter_ QUEEN, CHESTER, SALISBURY, _hastily_.

FITZ. O, that thou wert not royal Richard's brother,
Thou shouldst here die in presence of thy mother.
[JOHN _rises: all compass_ FITZWATER; FITZWATER _chafes_.
What, is he up? Nay, lords, then give us leave.

CHES. What means this rage, Fitzwater?

QUEEN. Lay hands upon the Bedlam, trait'rous wretch!

JOHN. Nay, hale him hence! and hear you, old Fitzwater:
See that you stay not five days in the realm.
For if you do, you die remediless.

FITZ. Speak, lords: do you confirm what he hath said?

ALL. He is our prince, and he must be obey'd.

FITZ. Hearken, Earl John! but one word will I say.

JOHN. I will not hear thee; neither will I stay.
Thou know'st thy time.
[_Exit_ JOHN.

FITZ. Will not your highness hear?

QUEEN. No: thy Matilda robb'd me of my dear.
[_Exit_ QUEEN.

FITZ. I aided thee in battle, Salisbury.

SAL. Prince John is mov'd; I dare not stay with thee.
[_Exit_ SALISBURY.[199]

FITZ. 'Gainst thee and Ely, Chester, was I foe,
And dost thou stay to aggravate my woe?

CHES. No, good Fitzwater; Chester doth lament
Thy wrong, thy sudden banishment.
Whence grew the quarrel 'twixt the prince and thee?

FITZ. Chester, the devil tempted old Fitzwater
To be a pander to his only daughter;
And my great heart, impatient, forc'd my hand,
In my true honour's right to challenge him.
Alas the while! wrong will not be reprov'd.

CHES. Farewell, Fitzwater: wheresoe'er thou be,
By letters, I beseech thee, send to me.
[_Exit_ CHESTER.

FITZ. Chester, I will, I will.
Heavens turn to good this woe, this wrong, this ill.



_Enter_ SCATHLOCK _and_ SCARLET, _winding their horns,
at several doors. To them enter_ ROBIN HOOD, MATILDA,
_all the men with bows and arrows_.

ROB. H. Widow, I wish thee homeward now to wend,
Lest Warman's malice work thee any wrong.

WID. Master, I will; and mickle good attend
On thee, thy love, and all these yeomen strong.

MAT. Forget not, widow, what you promis'd me.

MUCH. O, ay, mistress; for God's sake let's have Jenny.

WID. You shall have Jenny sent you with all speed.
Sons, farewell, and, by your mother's reed,
Love well your master: blessing ever fall
On him, your mistress, and these yeomen tall.

MUCH. God be with you, mother: have much mind, I pray, on Much your son,
and your daughter Jenny.

ROB. H. Wind once more, jolly huntsmen, all your horns;
Whose shrill sound, with the echoing wood's assist,
Shall ring a sad knell for the fearful deer,
Before our feathered shafts, death's winged darts,
Bring sudden summons for their fatal ends.

SCAR. It's full seven years since we were outlaw'd first,
And wealthy Sherwood was our heritage:
For all those years we reigned uncontroll'd,
From Barnsdale shrogs to Nottingham's red cliffs;
At Blithe and Tickhill were we welcome guests.
Good George-a-Greene at Bradford was our friend,
And wanton Wakefield's Pinner[200] lov'd us well.
At Barnsley dwells a potter tough and strong,
That never brook'd we brethren should have wrong.
The nuns of Farnsfield (pretty nuns they be)
Gave napkins, shirts, and bands to him and me.
Bateman of Kendal gave us Kendal green,
And Sharpe of Leeds sharp arrows for us made:
At Rotheram dwelt our bowyer, God him bless;
Jackson he hight, his bows did never miss.
This for our good--our scathe let Scathlock tell,
In merry Mansfield how it once befell.

SCATH. In merry Mansfield, on a wrestling day,
Prizes there were, and yeomen came to play;
My brother Scarlet and myself were twain.
Many resisted, but it was in vain,
For of them all we won the mastery,
And the gilt wreaths were given to him and me.
There by Sir Doncaster of Hothersfield
We were bewray'd, beset, and forc'd to yield,
And so borne bound from thence to Nottingham,
Where we lay doom'd to death till Warman came.

ROB. H. Of that enough. What cheer, my dearest love?

MUCH. O, good cheer anon, sir; she shall have venison her bellyful.

MAT. Matilda is as joyful of thy good
As joy can make her: how fares Robin Hood?

ROB. H. Well, my Matilda, and if thou agree,
Nothing but mirth shall wait on thee and me.

MAT. O God, how full of perfect mirth were I
To see thy grief turn'd to true jollity!

ROB. H. Give me thy hand; now God's curse on me light,
If I forsake not grief, in griefs despite.
Much, make a cry, and, yeomen, stand ye round:
I charge ye never more let woful sound
Be heard among ye; but whatever fall,
Laugh grief to scorn, and so make sorrow small,
Much, make a cry, and loudly: Little John.

MUCH. O God, O God! help, help, help! I am undone, I am undone!

LIT. JOHN. Why, how now, Much? Peace, peace, you roaring slave.

MUCH. My master bad me cry, and I will cry till he bid me leave.
Help, help, help! Ay, marry will I.

ROB. H. Peace, Much. Read on the articles, good John.

LIT. JOHN. First, no man must presume to call our master
By name of Earl, Lord, Baron, Knight, or Squire;
But simply by the name of Robin Hood.

ROB. H. Say, yeomen, to this order will ye yield?

ALL. We yield to serve our master, Robin Hood.

LIT. JOHN. Next, 'tis agreed, if thereto she agree,
That fair Matilda henceforth change her name,
And while it is the chance of Robin Hood
To live in Sherwood a poor outlaw's life,
She by Maid Marian's name be only call'd.

MAT. I am contented; read on, Little John:
Henceforth let me be nam'd Maid Marian.

LIT. JOHN. Thirdly, no yeoman, following Robin Hood
In Sherwood, shall [ab]use widow, wife, or maid;
But by true labour lustful thoughts expel.

ROB. H. How like ye this?

ALL. Master, we like it well.

MUCH. But I cry no to it. What shall I do with Jenny then?

SCAR. Peace, Much: go forward with the orders, fellow John.

LIT. JOHN. Fourthly, no passenger with whom ye meet
Shall ye let pass, till he with Robin feast;
Except a post, a carrier, or such folk
As use with food to serve the market towns.

ALL. An order which we gladly will observe.

LIT. JOHN. Fifthly, you never shall the poor man wrong,
Nor spare a priest, a usurer, or a clerk.

MUCH. Nor a fair wench, meet we her in the dark!

LIT. JOHN. Lastly, you shall defend with all your power
Maids, widows, orphans, and distressed men.

ALL. All these we vow to keep as we are men.

ROB. H. Then wend ye to the greenwood merrily,
And let the light roes bootless from ye run.
Marian and I, as sovereigns of your toils,
Will wait within our bower your bent bows' spoils.

MUCH. I will among them, master.

[_Exeunt winding their horns_.

ROB. H. Marian, thou seest, though courtly pleasures want,
Yet country sport in Sherwood is not scant:
For the soul-ravishing, delicious sound
Of instrumental music we have found
The winged quiristers with divers notes
Sent from their quaint recording[201] pretty throats,
On every branch that compasseth our bow'r,
Without command contenting us each hour.
For arras hangings and rich tapestry
We have sweet nature's best embroidery.
For thy steel glass, wherein thou wont'st to look,
Thy crystal eyes gaze in a crystal brook.
At court a flower or two did deck thy head,
Now with whole garlands is it circled.
For what in wealth we want, we have in flowers,
And what we lose in halls, we find in bowers.

MAR. Marian hath all, sweet Robert, having thee,
And guesses thee as rich in having me.

ROB. H. I am indeed;
For, having thee, what comfort can I need?

MAR. Go in, go in.
To part such true love, Robin, it were sin.



PRIOR. To take his body, by the blessed rood,
'Twould do me more than any other good.

DON. O, 'tis an unthrift, still the churchmen's foe;
An ill-end will betide him, that I know.
'Twas he that urged the king to 'sess the clergy,
When to the holy land he took his journey;
And he it is that rescued those two thieves,
Scarlet and Scathlock, that so many griefs
To churchmen did: and now, they say,
He keeps in Sherwood, and himself doth play
The lawless reaver:[202] hear you, my Lord Prior,
He must be taken, or it will be wrong.

TUCK. Ay, ay, soon said;
But ere he be, many will lie dead,
Except it be by sleight.

DON. Ay, there, there, Friar.

TUCK. Give me, my lord, your execution.
The widow Scarlet's daughter, lovely Jenny,
Loves, and is belov'd of Much, the miller's son.
If I can get the girl to go with me,
Disguis'd in habit like a pedlar's mort,[203]
I'll serve this execution, on my life,
And single out a time alone to take
Robin, that often careless walks alone.
Why, answer not; remember what I said:
Yonder, I see, comes Jenny, that fair maid.
If we agree, then back me soon with aid.

_Enter_ JENNY _with a fardel_.

PRIOR. Tuck, if thou do it--

DON. Pray, you do not talk:
As we were strangers let us careless walk.

JEN. Now to the green wood wend I, God me speed.

TUCK. Amen, fair maid, and send thee, in thy need,
Much, that is born to do thee much good deed.

JEN. Are you there, Friar? nay then, i'faith, we have it.

TUCK. What, wench? my love?

JEN. Ay, gi't me when I crave it.

TUCK. Unask'd I offer; prythee, sweet girl, take it.

JEN. Gifts stink with proffer: foh! Friar, I forsake it.

TUCK. I will be kind.

JEN. Will not your kindness kill her?

TUCK. With love?

JEN. You cog.

TUCK. Tut, girl, I am no miller:
Hear in your ear.

DON. The Friar courts her. [_Standing behind_.

PRIOR. Tush, let them alone;
He is our Lady's Chaplain, but serves Joan.

DON. Then, from the Friar's fault, perchance, it may be
The proverb grew, Joan's taken for my lady.

PRIOR. Peace, good Sir Doncaster, list to the end.

JEN. But mean ye faith and troth? shall I go wi' ye?

TUCK. Upon my faith, I do intend good faith.

JEN. And shall I have the pins and laces too,
If I bear a pedlar's pack with you?

TUCK. As I am holy Friar, Jenny, thou shalt.

JEN. Well, there's my hand; see, Friar, you do not halt.

TUCK. Go but before into the miry mead,
And keep the path that doth to Farnsfield lead;
I'll into Southwell and buy all the knacks,
That shall fit both of us for pedlar's packs.

JEN. Who be they two that yonder walk, I pray?

TUCK. Jenny, I know not: be they what they may,
Scare not for them; prythee, do not stay,
But make some speed, that we were gone away.

JEN. Well, Friar, I trust you that we go to Sherwood.

TUCK. Ay, by my beads, and unto Robin Hood.

JEN. Make speed, good Friar.

TUCK. Jenny, do not fear. [_Exit_ JENNY.
Lord Prior, now you hear,
As much as I. Get me two pedlar's packs,
Points, laces, looking-glasses, pins and knacks;
And let Sir Doncaster with some wight lads
Follow us close; and, ere these forty hours,
Upon my life Earl Robert shall be ours.

PRIOR. Thou shalt have anything, my dearest Friar;
And in amends I'll make thee my sub-prior.
Come, good Sir Doncaster, and if we thrive,
We'll frolic with the nuns of Leeds, belive.[204]


_Enter_ FITZWATER, _like an old man_.

FITZ. Well did he write, and mickle did he know,
That said this world's felicity was woe,
Which greater states can hardly undergo.
Whilom Fitzwater, in fair England's court,
Possess'd felicity and happy state,
And in his hall blithe fortune kept her sport,
Which glee one hour of woe did ruinate.
Fitzwater once had castles, towns, and towers,
Fair gardens, orchards, and delightful bowers;
But now nor garden, orchard, town, nor tower,
Hath poor Fitzwater left within his power.
Only wide walks are left me in the world,
Which these stiff limbs will hardly let me tread;
And when I sleep, heaven's glorious canopy
Me and my mossy couch doth overspread.
Of this injurious John cannot bereave me;
The air and earth he (while I live) must leave me;
But from the English air and earth, poor man,
His tyranny hath ruthless thee exiled.
Yet e'er I leave it, I'll do what I can
To see Matilda, my fair luckless child.

[_Curtains open_:--ROBIN HOOD _sleeps on a green bank,
and_ MARIAN _strewing flowers on him_.

And in good time, see where my comfort stands,
And by her lies dejected Huntington.
Look how my flow'r holds flowers in her hands,
And flings those sweets upon my sleeping son.
I'll close mine eyes as if I wanted sight,
That I may see the end of their delight.
[_Goes knocking with his staff_.

MAR. What aged man art thou? or by what chance
Cam'st thou thus far into the wayless wood?

FITZ. Widow or wife, or maiden if thou be,
Lend me thy hand; thou seest I cannot see:
Blessing betide thee, little feel'st thou want;
With me, good child, food is both hard and scant.
These smooth even veins assure me he is kind,
Whate'er he be, my girl, that thee doth find.
I, poor and old, am reft of all earth's good,
And desperately am crept into this wood
To seek the poor man's patron, Robin Hood.

MAR. And thou art welcome: welcome, aged man,
Ay, ten times welcome to Maid Marian.
Sit down, old father, sit, and call me daughter.
O God, how like he looks to old Fitzwater!
[_Runs in_.

FITZ. Is my Matilda call'd Maid Marian?
I wonder why her name is changed thus.

[MARIAN _brings wine, meat_.

MAR. Here's wine to cheer thy heart; drink, aged man:
There's ven'son and a knife, here's manchet[205] fine:
Drink, good old man, I pray you, drink more wine.
My Robin stirs; I must sing him asleep.

ROB. H. Nay, you have wak'd me, Marian, with your talk.
What man is that's come within our walk?

MAR. An aged man, a silly, sightless man,
Near pin'd with hunger: see, how fast he eats.

ROB. H. Much good may't do him: never is good meat
Ill-spent on such a stomach. Father, proface;[206]
To Robin Hood thou art a welcome man.

FITZ. I thank you, master. Are you Robin Hood?

ROB. H. Father, I am.

FITZ. God give your soul much good
For this good meat Maid Marian hath given me.
But hear me, master; can you tell me news,
Where fair Matilda is, Fitzwater's daughter?

ROB. H. Why, here she is; this Marian is she.

FITZ. Why did she change her name?

ROB. H. What's that to thee?

FITZ. Yes, I could weep for grief that it is so,
But that my tears are all dried up with woe.

ROB. H. Why, she is called Maid Marian, honest friend,
Because she lives a spotless maiden life;
And shall, till Robin's outlaw life have end,
That he may lawfully take her to wife;
Which, if King Richard come, will not be long,
For in his hand is power to right our wrong.

FITZ. If it be thus, I joy in her name's change:
So pure love in these times is very strange.

MAR. Robin, I think it is my aged father. [_Aside_.

ROB. H. Tell me, old man, tell me in courtesy,
Are you no other than you seem to be?

FITZ. I am a wretched aged man, you see,
If you will do me aught for charity:
Further than this, sweet, do not question me.

ROB. H. You shall have your desire. But what be these?

_Enter_ FRIAR TUCK _and_ JENNY_, like pedlars, singing.

What lack ye? what lack ye?
What is it you will buy?
Any points, pins or laces,
Any laces, points or pins?
Fine gloves, fine glasses,
Any busks or masks?
Or any other pretty things?
Come, cheap for love, or buy for money.
Any coney, coney-skins?
For laces, points or pins?
Fair maids, come choose or buy.
I have pretty poking-sticks,[207]
And many other tricks,
Come, choose for love, or buy for money_.

ROB. H. Pedlar, I prythee set thy pack down here:
Marian shall buy, if thou be not too dear.

TUCK. Jenny, unto thy mistress show thy pack.
Master, for you I have a pretty knack,
From far I brought, please you see to the same.


_Enter_ SIR DONCASTER _and others, weaponed_.[208]

FRIAR. Sir Doncaster, are not we pedlar-like?

DON. Yes, passing fit; and yonder is the bower.
I doubt not we shall have him in our power.

FRIAR. You and your company were best stand close.

DON. What shall the watchword be to bring us forth?

FRIAR. Take it, I pray, though it be much more worth:
When I speak that aloud, be sure I serve
The execution presently on him.

DON. Friar, look to't.

FRIAR. Now, Jenny, to your song. [_Sings_.


MAR. Pedlar, what pretty toys have you to sell?

FRIAR. Jenny, unto your mistress show your ware.

MAR. Come in, good woman. [_Exeunt_.

FRIAR. Master, look here,
And God give ear,
So mote I the[209],
To her and me,
If ever we,
Robin, to thee,
That art so free.
Mean treachery.

ROB. H. On, pedlar, to thy pack;
If thou love me, my love thou shalt not lack.

FRIAR. Master, in brief,
There is a thief,
That seeks your grief.
God send relief
To you in need.
For a foul deed,
If not with speed
You take good heed,
There is decreed.
In yonder brake
There lies a snake,
That means to take
Out of this wood
The yeoman good,
Call'd Robin Hood.

ROB. H. Pedlar, I prythee be more plain.
What brake? what snake? what trap? what train?

FRIAR. Robin, I am a holy friar,
Sent by the Prior,
Who did me hire,
For to conspire
Thy endless woe
And overthrow:
But thou shalt know,
I am the man
Whom Little John
From Nottingham
Desir'd to be
A clerk to thee;
For he to me
Said thou wert free,
And I did see
Thy honesty,
From gallow-tree
When thou didst free
Scathlock and Scarlet certainly[210].

ROB. H. Why, then, it seems that thou art Friar Tuck.

FRIAR. Master, I am.

ROB. H. I pray thee, Friar, say,
What treachery is meant to me this day?

FRIAR. First wind your horn; then draw your sword.
[_ROBIN HOOD winds his horn_.
For I have given a friar's word,
To take your body prisoner,
And yield you to Sir Doncaster,
The envious priest of Hothersfield,
Whose power your bushy wood doth shield;
But I will die ere you shall yield.

_Enter_ LITTLE JOHN, &c.

And sith your yeomen do appear,
I'll give the watchword without fear.
Take it, I pray thee, though it be more worth.

_Rush in_ SIR DONCASTER _with his crew_.

DON. Smite down! lay hold on outlaw'd Huntington!

LIT. JOHN. Soft, hot-spurr'd priest, 'tis not so quickly done.

DON. Now, out alas! the friar and the maid
Have to false thieves Sir Doncaster betray'd.

[_Exeunt omnes_.[211]


LORD PRIOR. _Sit down all_. WARMAN _stands_.

JOHN. As God's vicegerent, John ascends this throne,
His head impal'd with England's diadem,[212]
And in his hand the awful rod of rule,
Giving the humble place of excellence,
And to the low earth casting down the proud.

QUEEN. Such upright rule is in each realm allow'd.

JOHN. Chester, you once were Ely's open friend,
And yet are doubtful whether he deserve
A public trial for his private wrongs.

CHES. I still am doubtful whether it be fit
To punish private faults with public shame
In such a person as Lord Ely is.

PRIOR. Yes, honourable Chester, more it fits
To make apparent sins of mighty men,
And on their persons sharply to correct
A little fault, a very small defect,
Than on the poor to practise chastisement:
For if a poor man die, or suffer shame,
Only the poor and vile respect the same;
But if the mighty fall, fear then besets
The proud heart of the mighty ones, his mates:
They think the world is garnished with nets,
And traps ordained to entrap their states;
Which fear in them begets a fear of ill,
And makes them good, contrary to their will.

JOHN. Your lordship hath said right. Lord Salisbury,
Is not your mind as ours concerning Ely?

SAL. I judge him worthy of reproof and shame.

JOHN. Warman, bring forth your prisoner, Ely, the chancellor;
And with him bring the seal that he detains.
Warman, why goest thou not?

WAR. Be good to me, my lord.

JOHN. What hast thou done?

WAR. Speak for me, my Lord Prior:
All my good lords entreat his grace for me.
Ely, my lord--

JOHN. Why, where is Ely, Warman?

WAR. Fled to-day: this misty morning he is fled away.

JOHN. O Judas! whom nor friend nor foe may trust,
Think'st thou with tears and plaints to answer this?
Do I not know thy heart? do I not know
That bribes have purchas'd Ely this escape?
Never make antic faces, never bend
With feigned humblesse thy still crouching knee,
But with fix'd eyes unto thy doom attend.
Villain! I'll plague thee for abusing me.
Go hence; and henceforth never set thy foot
In house or field thou didst this day possess.
Mark what I say: advise thee to look to't,
Or else, be sure, thou diest remediless.
Nor from those houses see that thou receive
So much as shall sustain thee for an hour,
But as thou art, go where thou canst; get friends,
And he that feeds thee be mine enemy.

WAR. O my good lord!

JOHN. Thou thy good lord betrayedst,
And all the world for money thou wilt sell.

WAR. What says the queen?

QUEEN. Why, thus I say:
Betray thy master, thou wilt all betray.

WAR. My Lords of Chester and of Salisbury!

BOTH. Speak not to us: all traitors we defy.

WAR. Good my Lord Prior!

PRIOR. Alas! what can I do?

WAR. Then I defy the world! yet I desire
Your grace would read this supplication.

[JOHN _reads_.

JOHN. I thought as much: but, Warman, dost thou think
There is one moving line to mercy here?
I tell thee, no; therefore away, away!
A shameful death follows thy longer stay.

WAR. O poor, poor man!
Of miserable miserablest wretch I am. [_Exit_.

JOHN. Confusion be thy guide! a baser slave
Earth cannot bear: plagues follow him, I crave.
Can any tell me if my Lord of York
Be able to sit up?

QUEEN. The Archbishop's grace
Was reasonable well even now, good son.

SAL. And he desir'd me that I should desire
Your majesty to send unto his grace,
If any matter did import his presence.

JOHN. We will ourselves step in and visit him.
Mother and my good lords, will you attend us?

PRIOR. I gladly will attend your majesty.

JOHN. Now, good lord, help us! When I said good lords,
I meant not you, Lord Prior: lord I know you are,
But good, God knows, you never mean to be.


PRIOR. John is incens'd; and very much, I doubt,
That villain Warman hath accused me
About the 'scape of Ely. Well, suppose he have,
What's that to me? I am a clergyman,
And all his power, if he all extend,
Cannot prevail against my holy order.
But the Archbishop's grace is now his friend,
And may, perchance, attempt to do me ill.

_Enter a_ SERVING-MAN.

What news with you, sir?

SERV.-MAN. Even heavy news, my lord; for the lightning's[213] fire,
Falling in manner of a firedrake[214]
Upon a barn of yours, hath burnt six barns,
And not a strike of corn reserv'd from dust.
No hand could save it, yet ten thousand hands
Laboured their best, though none for love of you;
For every tongue with bitter cursing bann'd
Your lordship, as the viper of the land.

PRIOR. What meant the villains?

SERV.-MAN. Thus and thus they cried:
Upon this churl, this hoarder-up of corn,
This spoiler of the Earl of Huntington,
This lust-defiled, merciless, false prior,
Heaven raineth vengeance down in shape of fire.
Old wives, that scarce could with their crutches creep,
And little babes, that newly learn'd to speak,
Men masterless, that thorough want did weep,
All in one voice, with a confused cry,
In execrations bann'd you bitterly:
Plague follow plague, they cry: he hath undone
The good Lord Robert, Earl of Huntington.
And then--

PRIOR.[215] What then, thou villain? Get thee from my sight!
They that wish plagues, plagues will upon them light.

_Enter another_ SERVANT.

PRIOR. What are your tidings?

SERV. The convent of St Mary's are agreed,
And have elected in your lordship's place
Old father Jerome, who is stall'd Lord Prior
By the new Archbishop.

PRIOR. Of York, thou mean'st?
A vengeance on him! he is my hope's foe.

_Enter a_ HERALD.

HER. Gilbert de Hood, late Prior of Saint Mary's,
Our sovereign John commandeth thee by me,
That presently thou leave this blessed land,
Defiled with the burthen of thy sin.
All thy goods temporal and spiritual,
With free consent of Hubert Lord [of] York,
Primate of England and thy ordinary,
He hath suspended, and vowed by heaven
To hang thee up, if thou depart not hence
Without delaying or more question.
And that he hath good reason for the same,
He sends this writing 'firm'd with Warman's hand,
And comes himself; whose presence if thou stay,
I fear this sun will see thy dying day.

PRIOR. O, Warman hath betray'd me! woe is me!


JOHN. Hence with that Prior! sirrah, do not speak:
My eyes are full of wrath, my heart of wreak.[216]
Let Leicester come: his haught heart, I am sure,
Will check the kingly course we undertake.

[_Exeunt cum_ PRIOR.

_Enter_ LEICESTER, _drum and ancient_.

JOHN. Welcome from war, thrice noble Earl of Leicester,
Unto our court: welcome, most valiant earl.

LEI. Your court in England, and King Richard gone!
A king in England, and the king from home!
This sight and salutations are so strange,
That what I should I know not how to speak.

JOHN. What would you say? speak boldly, we entreat.

LEI. It is not fear, but wonder, bars my speech.
I muse to see a mother and a queen,
Two peers so great as Salisbury and Chester,
Sit and support proud usurpation,
And see King Richard's crown worn by Earl John.

QUEEN. He sits as viceroy and a[s] substitute.

CHES. He must and shall resign, when Richard comes.

SAL. Chester, he will, without your must and shall.

LEI. Whether he will or no, he shall resign.

JOHN. You know your own will, Leicester, but not mine.

LEI. Tell me among ye, where is reverend Ely,
Left by our dread king as his deputy?

JOHN. Banish'd he is, as proud usurpers should.

LEI. Pride then, belike, was enemy to pride:
Ambition in yourself his state envied.
Where is Fitzwater, that old honour'd lord?

JOHN. Dishonour'd and exil'd, as Ely is.

LEI. Exil'd he may be, but dishonour'd never!
He was a fearless soldier and a virtuous scholar.
But where is Huntington, that noble youth?

CHES. Undone by riot.

LEI. Ah! the greater ruth.

JOHN. Leicester, you question more than doth become you.
On to the purpose, why you come to us.

LEI. I come to Ely and to all the state,
Sent by the king, who three times sent before
To have his ransom brought to Austria:
And if you be elected deputy,
Do as you ought, and send the ransom-money.

JOHN. Leicester, you see I am no deputy;
And Richard's ransom if you do require,
Thus we make answer: Richard is a king,
In Cyprus, Acon, Acre, and rich Palestine.
To get those kingdoms England lent him men,
And many a million of her substance spent,
The very entrails of her womb were rent:
No plough but paid a share, no needy hand,
But from his poor estate of penury
Unto his voyage offer'd more than mites,
And more, poor souls, than they had might to spare.
Yet were they joyful; for still flying news--
And lying I perceive them now to be--
Came of King Richard's glorious victories,
His conquest of the Soldan,[217] and such tales
As blew them up with hope, when he return'd,
He would have scatter'd gold about the streets.

LEI. Do princes fight for gold? O leaden thought!
Your father knew that honour was the aim
Kings level at. By sweet St John, I swear,
You urge me so, that I cannot forbear.
What do you tell of money lent the king,
When first he went into this holy war,
As if he had extorted from the poor,
When you, the queen, and all that hear me speak,
Know with what zeal the people gave their goods.
Old wives took silver buckles from their belts;
Young maids the gilt pins that tuck'd up their trains;
Children their pretty whistles from their necks,
And every man what he did most esteem,
Crying to soldiers, "Wear these gifts of ours."
This proves that Richard had no need to wrong,
Or force the people, that with willing hearts
Gave more than was desir'd. And where you say,
You [do] guess Richard's victories but lies,
I swear he wan rich Cyprus with his sword;
And thence, more glorious than the guide of Greece,
That brought so huge a fleet to Tenedos,
He sail'd along the Mediterran sea,
Where on a sunbright morning he did meet
The warlike Soldan's[218] well-prepared fleet.
O, still, methinks, I see King Richard stand
In his gilt armour stain'd with Pagan's blood,
Upon a galley's prow, like war's fierce god,
And on his crest a crucifix of gold!
O, that day's honour can be never told!
Six times six several brigantines he boarded,
And in the greedy waves flung wounded Turks;
And three times thrice the winged galley's banks
(Wherein the Soldan's son was admiral)
In his own person royal Richard smooth'd,
And left no heathen hand to be upheav'd
Against the Christian soldiers.

JOHN. Leicester, so?
Did he all this?

LEI. Ay, by God he did,
And more than this: nay, jest [not] at it, John;
I swear he did, by Leicester's faith he did,
And made the green sea red with Pagan blood,
Leading to Joppa glorious victory,
And following fear, that fled unto the foe.

JOHN. All this he did! perchance all this was so!

LEI. Holy God, help me! soldiers, come away!
This carpet-knight[219] sits carping at our scars,
And jests at those most glorious, well-fought wars.

JOHN. Leicester, you are too hot: stay; go not yet.
Methinks, if Richard won those victories,
The wealthy kingdoms he hath conquered
May, better than poor England, pay his ransom.
He left this realm, as a young orphan-maid,
To Ely, the step-father of this state,
That stripp'd the virgin to her very skin;
And, Leicester, had not John more careful been
Than Richard,
At this hour England had not England been.
Therefore, good warlike lord, take this in brief;
We wish King Richard well, but can send no relief.

LEI. O, let not my heart break with inward grief!

JOHN. Yes, let it, Leicester: it is not amiss,
That twenty such hearts break as your heart is.

LEI. Are you a mother? were you England's queen?
Were Henry, Richard, Geoffery, your sons?
All sons but Richard--sun of all those sons
And can you let this little meteor,
This _ignis fatuus_, this same wandering fire,
This goblin of the night, this brand, this spark,
Seem through a lanthorn greater than he is?
By heaven, you do not well: by earth, you do not?
Chester, nor you, nor you, Earl Salisbury;
Ye do not, no, ye do not what ye should.

QUEEN. Were this bear loose, how he would tear our maws.

CHES. Pale death and vengeance dwell within his jaws.

SAL. But we can muzzle him, and bind his paws:
If King John say we shall, we will indeed.

JOHN. Do, if you can.

LEI. It's well thou hast some fear.
No, curs! ye have no teeth to bait this bear.[220]
I will not bid mine ensign-bearer wave
My tattered colours in this worthless air,
Which your vile breaths vilely contaminate.
Bearer,[221] thou'st been my ancient-bearer long,
And borne up Leicester's bear in foreign lands;
Yet now resign these colours to my hands,
For I am full of grief and full of rage.
John, look upon me: thus did Richard take
The coward Austria's colours in his hand,
And thus he cast them under Acon walls,
And thus he trod them underneath his feet.
Rich colours, how I wrong ye by this wrong!
But I will right ye. Bear[er], take them again,
And keep them ever, ever them maintain:
We shall have use for them, I hope, ere long.

JOHN. Dar'st thou attempt this proudly in our sight?

LEI. What is't a subject dares, that I dare not?

SAL. Dare subjects dare, their sovereign being by?

LEI. O God, that my true sovereign were nigh!

QUEEN. Leicester, he is.

LEI. Madam, by God, you lie.

CHES. Unmanner'd man.

LEI. A plague of reverence,
Where no regard is had of excellence. [_Sound drum_.
But you will quite[222] me now: I hear your drums:
Your principality hath stirr'd up men,
And now you think to muzzle up this bear.
Still they come nearer, but are not the near.

JOHN. What drums are these?

SAL. I think, some friends of yours
Prepare a power to resist this wrong.

LEI. Let them prepare, for Leicester is prepar'd,
And thus he wooes his willing men to fight.
Soldiers,[223] ye see King Richard's open wrong;
Richard, that led ye to the glorious East,
And made ye tread upon the blessed land,
Where he, that brought all Christians blessedness,
Was born, lived, wrought his miracles, and died,
From death arose, and then to heaven ascended;
Whose true religious faith ye have defended.
Ye fought, and Richard taught ye how to fight
Against profane men, following Mahomet;
But, if ye note, they did their kings their right:
These more than heathen sacrilegious men,
Professing Christ, banish Christ's champion hence,
Their lawful lord, their home-born sovereign,
With petty quarrels and with slight pretence.

_Enter_ RICHMOND, _Soldiers_.

O, let me be as short as time is short,
For the arm'd foe is now within our sight.
Remember how 'gainst ten one man did fight,
So hundreds against thousands have borne head!
You are the men that ever conquered:
If multitudes oppress ye that ye die,
Let's sell our lives, and leave them valiantly.
Courage! upon them! till we cannot stand.

JOHN. Richmond is yonder.

QUEEN. Ay, and, son, I think,
The king is not far off.

CHES. Now heaven forfend!

LEI. Why smite ye not, but stand thus cowardly?

RICH. If Richmond hurt good Leicester, let him die.

LEI. Richmond! O, pardon mine offending eye,
That took thee for a foe: welcome, dear friend!
Where is my sovereign Richard? Thou and he
Were both in Austria. Richmond, comfort me,
And tell me where he is, and how he fares.
O, for his ransom, many thousand cares
Have me afflicted.

RICH. Leicester, he is come to London,
And will himself to faithless Austria,
Like a true king, his promis'd ransom bear.

LEI. At London, say'st thou, Richmond? is he there?
Farewell: I will not stay to tell my wrongs
To these pale-colour'd, heartless, guilty lords.
Richmond, you shall go with me: do not stay,
And I will tell you wonders by the way.

RICH. The king did doubt you had some injury,
And therefore sent this power to rescue ye.

LEI. I thank his grace. Madam, adieu, adieu.
I'll to your son, and leave your shade with you.


JOHN. Hark how he mocks me, calling me your shade.
Chester and Salisbury, shall we gather power,
And keep what we have got?

CHES. And in an hour
Be taken, judg'd, and 'headed with disgrace.
Salisbury, what say you?

SAL. My lord, I bid your excellence adieu.
I to King Richard will submit my knee:
I have good hope his grace will pardon me.

CHES. And, Salisbury, I'll go along with thee.
Farewell, Queen Mother; fare you well, Lord John.

JOHN. Mother, stay you.

QUEEN. Not I, son, by Saint Anne.

JOHN. Will you not stay?

QUEEN. Go with me: I will do the best I may
To beg my son's forgiveness of my son. [_Exit_.

JOHN. Go by yourself. By heaven, 'twas 'long of you
I rose to fall so soon. Leicester and Richmond's crew,
They come to take me: now too late I rue
My proud attempt. Like falling Phaeton,
I perish from my guiding of the sun.

_Enter again_ LEICESTER _and_ RICHMOND.[224]

LEI. I will go back, i' faith, once more and see,
Whether this mock king and the Mother Queen--
And who--Here's neither queen nor lord!
What, king of crickets, is there none but you?
Come off, [this crown: this sceptre, off!][225]
This crown, this sceptre are King Richard's right:
Bear thou them, Richmond, thou art his true knight.
You would not send his ransom, gentle John;
He's come to fetch it now. Come, wily fox,
Now you are stripp'd out of the lion's case,
What, dare you look the lion in the face?
The English lion, that in Austria
With his strong hand pull'd out a lion's heart.
Good Richmond, tell it me; for God's sake, do:
O, it does me good to hear his glories told.

RICH. Leicester, I saw King Richard with his fist
Strike dead the son of Austrian Leopold,
And then I saw him, by the duke's command,
Compass'd and taken by a troop of men,
Who led King Richard to a lion's den.
Opening the door, and in a paved court,
The cowards left King Richard weaponless:
Anon comes forth the fire-eyed dreadful beast,
And with a heart-amazing voice he roar'd,
Opening (like hell) his iron-toothed jaws,
And stretching out his fierce death-threatening paws.
I tell thee, Leicester, and I smile thereat
(Though then, God knows, I had no power to smile),
I stood by treacherous Austria all the while,
Who in a gallery with iron grates
Stay'd to behold King Richard made a prey.

LEI. What was't thou smiledst at in Austria?

RICH. Leicester, he shook--so help me God, he shook--
With very terror at the lion's look.

LEI. Ah, coward! but go on, what Richard did.

RICH. Richard about his right hand wound a scarf
(God quite her for it) given him by a maid:
With endless good may that good deed be paid!
And thrust that arm down the devouring throat
Of the fierce lion, and withdrawing it,
Drew out the strong heart of the monstrous beast,
And left the senseless body on the ground.

LEI. O royal Richard: Richmond, look on John:
Does he not quake in hearing this discourse?
Come, we will leave him, Richmond: let us go.
John, make suit
For grace, that is your [only] means, you know.


JOHN. A mischief on that Leicester! is he gone?
'Twere best go too, lest in some mad fit
He turn again, and lead me prisoner.
Southward I dare not fly: fain, fain I would
To Scotland bend my course; but all the woods
Are full of outlaws, that in Kendal green
Follow the outlaw'd Earl of Huntington.
Well, I will clothe myself in such a suit,
And by that means as well 'scape all pursuit,
As pass the danger-threatening Huntington;
For, having many outlaws, they'll think me
By my attire one of their mates to be.




FRIAR. Scarlet and John, so God me save,
No mind unto my beads I have:
I think it be a luckless day,
For I can neither sing nor say;
Nor have I any power to look
On portace or on matin book.

SCAR. What is the reason, tell us, Friar?

FRIAR. And would ye have me be no liar?

LIT. JOHN. No. God defend that you should lie:
A churchman be a liar?--fie!

FRIAR. Then, by this hallow'd crucifix,
The holy water and the pix,
It greatly at my stomach sticks,
That all this day we had no gues',[226]
And have of meat so many a mess.

MUCH _brings out_ ELY, _like a countryman with a basket_.

MUCH. Well, and ye be but a market, ye are but a market-man.

ELY. I am sure, sir, I do you no hurt, do I?

SCAR. We shall have company, no doubt:
My fellow Much hath found one out.

FRIAR. A fox, a fox! as I am friar,
Much is well worthy of good hire.

LIT. JOHN. Say, Friar, soothly, know'st thou him!

FRIAR. It is a wolf in a sheep's skin.
Go, call our master, Little John;
A glad man will he be anon.
It's Ely, man, the chancellor. [_Aside_.]

LIT. JOHN. God's pity! look unto him, Friar.
[_Aside. Exit_ LITTLE JOHN.

MUCH. What, ha' ye eggs to sell, old fellow?

ELY. Ay, sir, some few; and those my need constrains me bear to
Mansfield, that I may sell them there to buy me bread.

SCAR. Alas, good man! I prythee, where dost dwell?

ELY. I dwell in Oxon, sir.

SCAR. I know the town.

MUCH. Alas, poor fellow! if thou dwell with oxen, it's strange they do
not gore thee with their horns.

ELY. Masters, I tell ye truly where I dwell,
And whither I am going; let me go.
Your master would be much displeas'd, I know,
If he should hear you hinder poor men thus.

FRIAR. Father, one word with you, before we part.

MUCH. Scarlet, the Friar will make us have anger all.
Farewell; and bear me witness, though I stay'd him,
I stay'd him not. An old fellow and a market man! [_Exit_.

FRIAR. Whoop! in your riddles, Much? then we shall ha't.

SCAR. What dost thou, Friar? prythee, let him go.

FRIAR. I prythee, Scarlet, let us two alone.

[_Exit_ SCAR.

ELY. Friar, I see thou know'st me: let me go,
And many a good turn I to thee will owe.

FRIAR. My master's service bids me answer no,
Yet love of holy churchmen wills it so.
Well, good my lord, I will do what I may
To let your holiness escape away.

_Enter_ ROBIN HOOD _and_ LITTLE JOHN.[227]

Here comes my master: if he question you,
Answer him like a plain man, and you may pass.

ELY. Thanks, Friar.

FRIAR. O, my lord thinks me an ass.

ROB. H. Friar, what honest man is there with thee?

FRIAR. A silly man, good master. I will speak for you:
Stand you aloof, for fear they note your face. [_To_ ELY.

Master, in plain,
It were but in vain,
Long to detain
With toys or with babbles,
With fond, feigned fables;
But him that you see
In so mean degree
Is the Lord Ely,
That help'd to exile you,
That oft did revile you.
Though in his fall
His train be but small,
And no man at all
Will give him the wall,
Nor lord doth him call,
Yet he did ride,
On jennets pied,
And knights by his side
Did foot it each tide.
O, see the fall of pride.[228]

ROB. H. Friar, enough. [_Aside_.

FRIAR. I pray, sir, let him go,
He is a very simple man in show:
He dwells at Oxon, and to us doth say,
To Mansfield market he doth take his way.

LIT. JOHN. Friar, this is not Mansfield market-day.

ROB. H. What would he sell?

FRIAR. Eggs, sir, as he says.

ROB. H. Scarlet, go thy ways:
Take in this old man, fill his skin with venison,
And after give him money for his eggs.

ELY. No, sir, I thank you, I have promis'd them
To Master Bailey's wife, of Mansfield, all.

ROB. H. Nay, sir, you do me wrong:
No Bailey nor his wife shall have an egg.
Scarlet, I say, take his eggs, and give him money.

ELY. Pray, sir.

FRIAR. Tush, let him have your eggs.

ELY. Faith, I have none.

FRIAR. God's pity, then, he will find you some.[229]

SCAR. Here are no eggs, nor anything but hay.
Yes, by the mass, here's somewhat like a seal!

ROB. H. O God!
My prince's seal! fair England's royal seal!
Tell me, thou man of death, thou wicked man,
How cam'st thou by this seal? wilt thou not speak?
Bring burning irons! I will make him speak.
For I do know the poor distressed lord,
The king's vicegerent, learned, reverend Ely,
Flying the fury of ambitious John,
Is murder'd by this peasant. Speak, vile man,
Where thou hast done thrice honourable Ely!

ELY. Why dost thou grace Ely with styles of grace,
Who thee with all his power sought to disgrace?

ROB. H. Belike, his wisdom saw some fault in me.

ELY. No, I assure thee, honourable earl;
It was his envy, no defect of thine,
And the persuasions of the Prior of York,
Which Ely now repents. See, Huntington,
Ely himself, and pity him, good son.

ROB. H. Alas, for woe! alack, that so great state
The malice of this world should ruinate!
Come in, great lord, sit down and take thy ease,
Receive the seal, and pardon my offence.
With me you shall be safe, and if you please,
Till Richard come, from all men's violence.
Aged Fitzwater, banished by John,
And his fair daughter shall converse with you:
I and my men that me attend upon
Shall give you all that is to honour due.
Will you accept my service, noble lord?

ELY. Thy kindness drives me to such inward shame,
That, for my life, I no reply can frame.
Go; I will follow. Blessed may'st thou be,
That thus reliev'st thy foes in misery!


LIT. JOHN. Skelton, a word or two beside the play.

FRIAR. Now, Sir John Eltham, what is't you would say?

LIT. JOHN. Methinks, I see no jests of Robin Hood,
No merry morrices of Friar Tuck,
No pleasant skippings up and down the wood,
No hunting-songs, no coursing of the buck.
Pray God this play of ours may have good luck,
And the king's majesty mislike it not.

FRIAR. And if he do, what can we do to that?
I promis'd him a play of Robin Hood,
His honourable life in merry Sherwood.
His majesty himself survey'd the plot,
And bad me boldly write it; it was good.
For merry jests they have been shown before,
As how the friar fell into the well
For love of Jenny, that fair bonny belle;
How Greenleaf robb'd the Shrieve of Nottingham,
And other mirthful matter full of game.[230]
Our play expresses noble Robert's wrong;
His mild forgetting treacherous injury:
The abbot's malice, rak'd in cinders long,
Breaks out at last with Robin's tragedy.
If these, that hear the history rehears'd,
Condemn my play, when it begins to spring,
I'll let it wither, while it is a bud,
And never show the flower to the king.

LIT. JOHN. One thing beside: you fall into your vein
Of ribble-rabble rhymes Skeltonical,
So oft, and stand so long, that you offend.

FRIAR. It is a fault I hardly can amend.
O, how I champ my tongue to talk these terms!
I do forget ofttimes my friar's part;
But pull me by the sleeve when I exceed,
And you shall see me mend that fault indeed.

Wherefore, still sit you,
Doth Skelton entreat you
While he _facete_
Will briefly repeat ye
The history all
And tale tragical,
By whose treachery
And base injury
Robin the good,
Call'd Robin Hood,
Died in Sherwood.
Which till you see,
Be ruled by me:
Sit patiently,
And give a plaudite,
If anything please ye.



_Enter_ WARMAN.

WAR. Banish'd from all, of all I am bereft!
No more than what I wear unto me left.
O wretched, wretched grief, desertful fall!
Striving to get all, I am reft of all.
Yet if I could awhile myself relieve,
Till Ely be in some place settled,
A double restitution should I get,
And these sharp sorrows, that have joy suppress'd,
Should turn to joy with double interest.

_Enter a_ GENTLEMAN, _Warman's Cousin_.

And in good time, here comes my cousin Warman,
Whom I have often pleasur'd in my time.
His house at Bingham I bestow'd on him,
And therefore doubt not, he will give me house-room.
Good even, cousin.

COU. O cousin Warman, what good news with you?

WAR. Whither so far a-foot walk you in Sherwood?

COU. I came from Rotherham; and by hither Farnsfield
My horse did tire, and I walk'd home a-foot.

WAR. I do beseech you, cousin, at some friend's,
Or at your own house, for a week or two
Give me some succour.

COU. Ha! succour, say you? No, sir:
I heard at Mansfield how the matter stands;
How you have justly lost your goods and lands,
And that the prince's indignation
Will fall on any that relieves your state.
Away from me! your treacheries I hate.
You, when your noble master was undone,
(That honourable-minded Huntington),
Who forwarder than you all to distrain?
And, as a wolf that chaseth on the plain
The harmless hind, so wolf-like you pursued
Him and his servants. Vile ingratitude,
Damn'd Judasism,[231] false wrong, abhorred treachery,
Impious wickedness, wicked impiety!
Out, out upon thee! foh, I spit at thee!

WAR. Good cousin.

COU. Away! I'll spurn thee if thou follow me.

WAR. O just heaven, how thou plagu'st iniquity!
All that he has my hand on him bestowed.
My master gave me all I ever owed,
My master I abus'd in his distress;
In mine my kinsman leaves me comfortless.

_Enter_ JAILER _of Nottingham, leading a dog_.

Here comes another; one that yesterday
Was at my service, came when I did call,
And him I made jailer of Nottingham.
Perchance some pity dwells within the man;
Jailer, well met; dost thou not know me, man?

JAI. Yes, thou art Warman; every knave knows thee.

WAR. Thou know'st I was thy master yesterday.

JAI. Ay, but 'tis not as it was: farewell; go by.

WAR. Good George, relieve my bitter misery.

JAI. By this flesh and blood, I will not.
No, if I do, the devil take me quick.
I have no money, beggar: balk the way!

WAR. I do not ask thee money.

JAI. Wouldst ha' meat?

WAR. Would God I had a little bread to eat.

JAI. Soft, let me feel my bag. O, here is meat,
That I put up at Retford for my dog:
I care not greatly if I give thee[232] this.

WAR. I prythee, do.

JAI.[233] Yet let me search my conscience for it first:
My dog's my servant, faithful, trusty, true;
But Warman was a traitor to his lord,
A reprobate, a rascal and a Jew,
Worser than dogs, of men to be abhorr'd!
Starve, therefore, Warman; dog, receive thy due.
Follow me not, lest I belabour you,
You half-fac'd groat, you thick-cheek'd chittyface;
You Judas-villain! you that have undone
The honourable Robert Earl of Huntington. [_Exit_.

WAR. Worse than a dog the villain me respects,
His dog he feeds, me in my need rejects.
What shall I do? yonder I see a shed,
A little cottage, where a woman dwells,
Whose husband I from death delivered:
If she deny me, then I faint and die.
Ho! goodwife Thompson!

WOM. What a noise is there?
A foul shame on ye! is it you that knock'd?

WAR. What, do you know me then?

WOM. Whoop! who knows not you?
The beggar'd, banish'd Shrieve of Nottingham,
You that betray'd your master: is't not you?
Yes, a shame on you! and forsooth ye come,
To have some succour here, because you sav'd
My unthrift husband from the gallow-tree.
A pox upon you both! would both for me
Were hang'd together. But soft, let me see;
The man looks faint: feel'st thou indeed distress?

WAR. O, do not mock me in my heaviness.

WOM. Indeed, I do not. Well, I have within
A caudle made, I will go fetch it him. [_Exit_.

WAR. O blessed woman! comfortable word!
Be quiet, entrails, you shall be reliev'd.

_Enter_ WOMAN.[234]

WOM. Here, Warman, put this hempen caudle o'er thy head.
See downward yonder is thy master's walk;
And like a Judas, on some rotten tree,
Hang up this rotten trunk of misery,
That goers-by thy wretched end may see.
Stirr'st thou not, villain? get thee from my door;
A plague upon thee, haste and hang thyself.
Run, rogue, away! 'tis thou that hast undone
Thy noble master, Earl of Huntington.

WAR. Good counsel and good comfort, by my faith.
Three doctors are of one opinion,
That Warman must make speed to hang himself.
The last hath given a caudle comfortable,
That to recure my griefs is strong and able:
I'll take her medicine, and I'll choose this way,
Wherein, she saith, my master hath his walk;
There will I offer life for treachery,
And hang, a wonder to all goers-by.
But soft! what sound harmonious is this?
What birds are these, that sing so cheerfully,
As if they did salute the flowering spring?
Fitter it were with tunes more dolefully
They shriek'd out sorrow, than thus cheerly sing.
I will go seek sad desperation's cell;
This is not it, for here are green-leav'd trees.
Ah, for one winter-bitten bared bough,
Whereon a wretched life a wretch would lese.
O, here is one! Thrice-blessed be this tree,
If a man cursed may a blessing give.


But out, alas! yonder comes one to me
To hinder death, when I detest to live.

FITZ. What woful voice hear I within this wood?
What wretch is there complains of wretchedness?

WAR. A man, old man, bereav'd of all earth's good,
And desperately seeks death in this distress.

FITZ. Seek not for that which will be here too soon,
At least, if thou be guilty of ill-deeds.
Where art thou, son? come, and nearer sit:
Hear wholesome counsel 'gainst unhallow'd thoughts.

WAR. The man is blind. Muffle the eye of day,
Ye gloomy clouds (and darker than my deeds,
That darker be than pitchy sable night)
Muster together on these high-topp'd trees,
That not a spark of light thorough their sprays
May hinder what I mean to execute.

FITZ. What dost thou mutter? Hear me woful man.

_Enter_ MARIAN _with meat_.

MAR. Good morrow, father.

FITZ. Welcome, lovely maid;
And in good time, I trust, you hither come.
Look if you see not a distressful man,
That to himself intendeth violence:
One such even now was here, and is not far.
Seek, I beseech you; save him, if you may.

MAR. Alas! here is, here is a man enrag'd,
Fastening a halter on a wither'd bough,
And stares upon me with such frighted looks,
As I am fearful of his sharp aspect.

FITZ. What mean'st thou, wretch? say, what is't thou wilt do?

WAR. As Judas did, so I intend to do,
For I have done already as he did:
His master he betray'd, so I have mine.
Fair mistress, look not on me with your blessed eyne:
From them, as from some excellence divine,
Sparkles sharp judgment, and commands with speed.
Fair, fare you well: foul fortune is my fate;
As all betrayers, I die desperate.

FITZ. Soft, ho! Go, Marian, call in Robin Hood:
'Tis Warman, woman, that was once his steward.

MAR. Alas! although it be, yet save his life!
I will send help unto you presently. [_Exit_.


Back to Full Books