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

Part 5 out of 10

And as they fall, shed tears and say,
Wella, wella-day! wella, wella-day:
Thus cast ye flowers and sing,
And on to Wakefield take your way_.


FRIAR. Here doth the Friar leave with grievance;
Robin is dead, that graced his entrance,
And being dead, he craves his audience
With this short play they would have patience.[288]

_Enter_ CHESTER.

CHES. Nay, Friar, at the request of thy kind friend,
Let not thy play too soon be at an end.
Though Robin Hood be dead, his yeomen gone,
And that thou think'st there now remains not one
To act another scene or two for thee,
Yet know full well, to please this company,
We mean to end Matilda's tragedy.

FRIAR. Off then, I wish you, with your Kendal green;
Let not sad grief in fresh array be seen.
Matilda's story is replete with tears,
Wrongs, desolations, ruins, deadly fears.
In, and attire ye. Though I tired be,
Yet will I tell my mistress' tragedy.
Apollo's masterdom[289] I invocate,
To whom henceforth my deeds I dedicate;
That of his godhead, 'bove all gods divine,
With his rich spirit he would lighten mine:
That I may sing true lays of trothless deeds,
Which to conceive my heart through sorrow bleeds,
Cheer thee, sad soul, and in a lofty line
Thunder out wrong, compass'd in cloudy tears:

[_Enter in black_.[290]

Show to the eyes, fill the beholders' ears,
With all the lively acts of lustful rage,
Restrain'd by modest tears and chastity's intreats:
And let King John, that ill-part[291] personage,
By suits, devices, practices, and threats,
And when he sees all serveth to no end,
Of chaste Matilda let him make an end.

CHO. We are all fitted, Friar: shall we begin?

FRIAR. Well art thou suited: would my order would
Permit me habit equal to my heart!

CHO. If you remember, John did take an oath
Never again to seek Matilda's love.

FRIAR. O, what is he, that's sworn affection's slave,
That will not violate all laws, all oaths?
And, being mighty, what will he omit
To compass his intents, though ne'er so ill?--
You must suppose King Richard now is dead,
And John, resistless, is fair England's lord
Who, striving to forget Matilda's love,
Takes to his wife the beauteous Isabel,
Betroth'd to Hugh le Brun, Earl of North-March:[292]
And picking quarrels under show of kin,
Wholly divorces his first queen away.
But yet Matilda still-still troubles him,
And being in the court, so oft he courts her,
That by her noble father, old Fitzwater,
She is remov'd from his lust-tempting eye.
But tides restrain'd o'erswell their bounds with rage:
Her absence adds more fuel to his fire.
In sleep he sees her, and his waking thoughts
Study by day to compass his desire.

CHO. Friar, since now you speak of visions,
It was received by tradition
From those that were right near unto King John,
Of three strange visions that to him appear'd;
And, as I guess, I told you what they were.

FRIAR. With them I will begin. Draw but that veil,
And there King John sits sleeping in his chair.

[_Draw the curtain: the king sits sleeping, his sword
by his side. Enter Austria, before whom cometh Ambition,
and bringing him before the chair, King John in sleep
maketh signs to avoid, and holdeth his own crown fast
with both his hands_.

FRIAR. Ambition, that had ever waited on King John,
Now brings him Austria, easy to be ta'en,
Being wholly tam'd by Richard's warlike hand.
And bids him add that dukedom to his crown:
But he puts by Ambition, and contemns
All other kingdoms but the English crown,
Which he holds fast, as if he would not loose[293].

[_Enter Constance, leading Young Arthur: both
offer to take the crown; but with his foot he
overturneth them: to them cometh Insurrection,
led by the F.K. and L.[294] menacing him, and
leads the child again to the chair; but he only
layeth hand on his sword, and with his foot
overthroweth the child, whom they take up as
dead; and, Insurrection flying, they mournfully
bear in the body_.

FRIAR. The lady and the child that did ascend,
Striving in vain to take the crown from John,
Were Constance and her son the Duke of Britain,
Heir to the elder brother of the king:
Yet he sleeps on, and with a little spurn
The mother and the prince doth overturn.
Again, when Insurrection them assists,
Stirr'd by the French king and the wronged earl,
Whose troth-plight wife King John had ta'en to wife,
He only claps his hand upon his sword,
Mocketh their threatenings, and in their attempts
The harmless prince receives recureless death,
Whom they too late with bootless tears lament.

[_Enter Queen with two Children, borne after her:
she ascends, and seeing no motion, she fetcheth her
children one by one; but seeing yet no motion, she
descendeth, wringing her hands, and departeth. Enter
Matilda in a mourning veil, reading on a book, at whose
coming he starteth, and sitteth upright; as she passeth
by, he smiles, and folds his arms as if he did embrace
her: being gone, he starts suddenly, and speaks_.

KING. Matilda! stay, Matilda, do but speak!
Who's there? Entreat Matilda to come back.

_Enter_ BONVILLE[295].

BON. Who would you have, my lord?

KING. Why, my Lord Bonville, I would have Matilda,
That but even now pass'd by toward the door.

BON. I saw her not, my lord.

KING. Hadst thou a lover's eye,
A gnat, a mote, a shadow thou wouldst spy.
Come, follow me; she cannot be so far,
But I shall overtake her: come away!

FRIAR. The last appearance shadow'd the fair queen
And her two children, at whose sight King John
Shewed neither sign nor show of passion:
But when the sun came masked in a cloud,
And veiled beauty, join'd with chastity,
Appeared in Matilda's lovely shape,
He starts, he clasps, he wakes, he calls, he seeks
The shadow of that substance he affects.
To her he sues, but she his suit rejects;
To him she sues, but he her suit neglects:
He sues to be her love; she doth despise:
She sues to live a maid, which he denies.
What follows of this wilfull will and shall,
This no and nay, this quenchless, bootless fire,
This cold affection and this hot desire,
The act itself shall tell; and the poor friar
Your partial favours humbly doth require.


_Sound trumpets. Enter_ KING, BONVILLE, SALISBURY, LORDS.[296]

KING. Now I perceive this only was a dream.
Divine Matilda's angel did appear,
Deck'd like a vestal ready for heaven's quire,
And to this earthly trunk will not come near.
Well, let her go: I must, i' faith, I must,
And so I will. Kings' thoughts should be divine;
So are Matilda's, so henceforth shall mine.

OLD AUB. So doing, peace shall wait upon your crown,
And blessing upon blessing shall befall.

KING. It's true, my lord: I know full well there shall.

SAL. Your people will wax proud of such a king,
That of himself is king, lord of his thoughts;
Which by assertion of philosophers
Is held to be the greatest empery.

KING. And they said wisely, noble Aubery.

SAL. Then will Fitzwater, with his gallant troop[297],
Again keep triumph[298] in the English court;
Then will Matilda--

KING. Matilda! what of her?

SAL. Like a bright star adorn the lovely train
Of beauteous ladies which attend the queen,
Whose only beauty equalleth them all.

KING. Like an old fool, whose dim eyes, wanting sight,
Compar'st the sun to common candle light?

SAL. Pardon, my liege, I do confess her fair[299]
Exceeds all these as far as day doth night.

KING. Grossly alluded: night by moon, by stars
By wandering fires, exhaled meteors,
By artificial lights, by eyes of beasts,
And little glow-worms glimpsing in the dark,
Hath somewhere brightness, lightness; and sometime
Under each horizon in all parts clear:
But they at no time nowhere can be said
To be less dark than dungeon darkness is:
Pitch-colour'd, ebon-fac'd, blacker than black,
While her fair eyes give beauty to bright day.

SAL. To hear the queen thus prais'd works my content.

KING. The queen!
O, had I such a thought, I would repent. [_To himself_.

SAL. Further, my lord--

KING. What, shall we further wade?
I fear I shall be tired with this jade.

SAL. The commonwealth will flourish and increase.

KING. Good Salisbury,[300] of those things now hold your peace,
And take the pains to fetch in Isabel.
I have strange tidings sent me out of France,
Which she will take, I know, in as good part,
As I accept her praise. Fetch her, I say.
What, is the old fool gone? now go thy way.
What think'st thou of him, Hubert? tell me, man.

HUB. As of a good old gentleman, my lord,
That speaks but what he thinks, and thinks you think
As he doth; and, I warrant you,
Will not conceal those praises from the queen
Which, as he deems, you utter'd in her praise.

KING. I would have them believe it so, indeed;
But I protest 'tis no part of my creed. [_Aside_.

HUB. I'faith, your grace did Salisbury's years great wrong,
To curtail his good work, that seem'd so long:
He, peradventure, would have brought in more,
After his preface, to rich plenty's store.
Perchance he would have show'd Dame Vanity,
That in your court is suffered hourly;
And bade you punish ruffians with long hair,
New fashions, and such toys. A special care
Has that good man: he turns the statute-book;
About his hall and chambers if you look,
The moral virtues in fair effigy
Are lively painted: moral philosophy
Has not a sentence, be it great or small,
But it is painted on his honour's wall.

_Enter_ QUEEN _and_ SALISBURY.

KING. Peace, peace! he comes: now let's be silent all.

SAL. I tell you, I was proud of his good words.

QUEEN. God hold them, Salisbury, for it's often seen,
A reconciled foe small good affords.

SAL. O, forbear! trust me.
I gage my honour he doth hold you dear.

KING. How cheer you, Isabel? The earl your spouse
Hath sent defiance to the king your husband,
And, like a tried tall soldier, fled his holds
In Marchland, where he knows, despite of him
And all the men that he therein can raise,
King John could have sent dogs enou' to tear
Their ill-arm'd bodies piecemeal, ere his bands
Should with base blood have stain'd their noble hands.
And whither is this worshipful good earl
(This first love, old love, new love, if you will)
Gone, thinks your ladyship? forsooth, good man,
To Normandy; and there he stirs up coals,
And urgeth strong aid for confederates
Who, as he says, are treacherously disposed.

QUEEN. If he do so, the greater is his sin.
Poor man. I have no interest in him.

KING. But he hath had in you, as it should seem,
Else would he not make sonnets of your brow,
Your eye, your lip, your hand, your thigh.
A plague upon him! how came he so nigh?
Nay, now you have the curs'd quean's counterfeit:
Through rage you shake, because you cannot rave.
But answer me: why should the bedlam slave
Entitle a whole poem to your kiss,
Calling it cherry, ruby, this and this?
I tell you, I am jealous of your love,
Which makes me break into this passion.
Here's the kind noble Aubery de Vere
Knows what I speak is true.
My lord, my lord! I do appeal to you,
Are these things to be borne?

SAL. No, by the rood:
These love-rhymes are the tokens of small good.

HUB. Why, my good lord, was never poetry
Offer'd unto a lady's patronage?

SAL. Yes, but not taken[301].

HUB. Yes, and taken too.
Though moody[302] slaves, whose balladising rhymes
With words unpolish'd show their brutish thoughts,
Naming their maukins[303] in each lustful line,
Let no celestial beauty look awry,
When well-writ poems, couching her rich praise,
Are offer'd to her unstain'd, virtuous eye:
For poetry's high-sprighted sons will raise
True beauty to all wish'd eternity.
Therefore, my lord, your age is much to blame
To think a taken poem lady's shame.

SAL. You see the king, that's better read than you,
And far more wrong'd than I, takes it not well.

KING. Yes, but I do: I think not Isabel
The worse for any writing of Le Brun's.[304]

SAL. Will you ha' the truth, my lord, I think so too;
And though I be an old man, by my sword,
My arm shall justify my constant word.

QUEEN. After a long storm in a troublous sea,
The pilot is no gladder of a calm,
Than Isabel to see the vexed looks
Of her lov'd lord chang'd into sweet aspects.

KING. I will not tell thee what a world of foes
For thy love (dear love) rise against my life.
Matilda's love, few swords will fight for thee. [_To himself_.
I will not number up the many woes
That shall be multiplied: strife upon strife
Will follow; but to shun ensuing ills,
I'll take such pledges as shall please me ask
Of each proud baron dwelling in the realm.
Bruce, kinsman and the deputy to March,
Hath a high-minded lady to his wife,
An able son for arms, and a less boy,
That is the comfort of his father's life.
Madam, I know you love the lady well,
And of her wealth you may be bold to build[305],
By sending you four hundred white milch kine,
And ten like-colour'd bulls to serve that herd;
So fair, that every cow did Ioe seem,
And every bull Europa's ravisher.
To friend myself with such a subject's truth,
Thus I command: you and Earl Salisbury
Shall, with what speed conveniently ye may,
Hie ye to Guildford: there the lady lies,
And her sons too, as I am told by spies.
All that she hath, I know, she calleth yours;
All that she hath I gladly would call mine,
If she abuse ye; if she use ye well,
For ever be what she retains her own.
Only go by, as queens in progress do,
And send me word how she receiveth you.

QUEEN. Well, I avouch, she will, before I go:
Far be it John should prove Lord Bruce's foe.
Come, noble Salisbury, I long to be at Guildford.

SAL. In such a business, madam, so do I.


KING. Go on, good stales[306]: now Guildford is mine own! [_Aside_.]
Hubert, I charge you take an hundred horse,
And follow unto Guildford castle-gates.
The queen pretend you come to tend upon,
Sent carefully from us: when you are in,
Boldly demand the lady for her sons,
For pledges of her husband's faith and hers:
Whom when ye have, upon the castle seize,
And keep it to our use, until we come.
Meanwhile let me alone with Hugh your son,
To work a wonder, if no prodigy;
But whatsoe'er, it shall attempted be.

HUB. Even that which to your majesty
May seem contentful, thereto I agree.

KING. Go then to Guildford, and a victor be, [_Exit_ HUBERT.
Mowbray, our masque: are you and Chester ready?

MOW. We will before your grace, I warrant you.

KING. How think'st of it, Mowbray?

MOW. As on a masque: but for our torch-bearers,
Hell cannot make so mad a crew as I.

KING. Faith, who is chief?

MOW. Will Brand, my lord;
But then your grace must curb his cruelty:
The rein once got, he's apt for villainy.

KING. I know the villain is both rough and grim;
But as a tie-dog I will muzzle him.
I'll bring him up to fawn upon my friends.
And worry dead my foes. But to our masque.
I mean this night to revel at the feast,
Where fair Matilda graceth every guest;
And if my hidden courtesy she grace,
Old Baynard's Castle, good Fitzwater's place,
John will make rich with royal England's wealth:
But if she do not, not those scatter'd bands,
Dropping from Austria and the Holy Land,
That boast so much of glorious victories,
Shall stop the inundations of those woes,
That like a deluge I will bring on them.
I know the crew is there; banish all fears:
If wrong'd, they shall be ours: if welcome, theirs.



_Enter_ FITZWATER _and his son_: OLD BRUCE _and_
YOUNG BRUCE, _and call forth_ MATILDA[307].

FITZ. Why, how now, votary! still at your book?
Ever in mourning weeds? For shame, for shame!
With better entertainment cheer our friends.
Now, by the bless'd cross, you are much to blame
To cross our mirth thus: you are much to blame,
I say. Good lord! hath never woe enough
Of welladay? Indeed, indeed,
Some sorrow fits, but this is more than need.

MAT. Good father, pardon me:
You saw I sat the supper and the banquet;
You know I cannot dance; discourse I shun,
By reason that my wit, but small before,
Comes far behind the ripe wits of our age.

YOUNG B. You'll be too ripe for marriage,
If you delay by day and day thus long.
There is the noble Wigmore, Lord of the March
That lies on Wye, Lug[308], and the Severn streams:
His son is like the sun's sire's Ganymede,
And for your love hath sent a lord to plead.
His absence I did purpose to excuse,


But Leicester is the man for him that sues.

FITZ. My cousin Bruce hath been your broker, Leicester;
At least hath broke the matter to my girl.

LEI. O, for a barber at the time of need,
Or one of these that dresses periwigs,
To deck my grey head with a youthful hair!
But I must to't. Matilda, thus it is!
Say, can you love me? I am Wigmore's son.

MAT. My cousin said he look'd like Ganymede;
But you, but you--

LEI. But I, but I, you say,
Am rather like old Chremes in a play[309];
But that's a nice objection: I am he,
But by attorneyship made deputy.

MAT. He's never like to speed well all his life,
That by attorney sues to win a wife:
But grant you are, whom you seem nothing like,
Young Wigmore, the heir to this noble lord--
He for his son hath sent us ne'er a word.

OLD B. If you grant love, when [that] his son doth woo,
Then in your jointure he'll send, say, and do.

YOUNG B. And for a doer, cousin, take my word:
Look for a good egg, he was a good bird;
Cock o' the game, i' faith, [O,] never fear.

MAT. Ay, but I fear the match will fall out ill,
Because he says his son is named Will.

FITZ. And why, good daughter? hath some palmister,
Some augur, or some dreaming calculator
(For such, I know, you often hearken to),
Been prating 'gainst the name? go to, go to;
Do not believe them. Leicester, fall to woo.

MAT. I must believe my father; and 'tis you
That, if I ought misdid, reprov'd me still,
And chiding said, "You're wedded to your will."

FITZ. God, for thy mercy! have ye catch'd me there?
Wigmore is William, woman. Leicester, speak:
Thou art the simplest wooer in the world.

LEI. You have put me out, and she hath took me down;
You with your talk, she with her ready tongue.
You told me I should find her mild and still,
And scarce a word came from her in an hour:
Then did I think I should have all the talk,
Unhinder'd by your willingness to help,
Unanswer'd, till I had no more to say;
And then--

YOUNG B. What, then?
She with a courtly court'sy saying Nay!

MAT. Your friend's attorney might have gone his way
With as great credit as did that orator
Which, handling an oration some three hours,
Ill for the matter, worse than bad for phrase,
Having said _dixi_, look'd, and found not one
To praise or dispraise his oration;
For, wearied with his talk, they all were gone.

FITZ. Now, by my troth, if any troth I have,
I am as merry at Matilda's mirth,
As I was glad to see her first day's birth.
For till this hour, so help me halidom,[310]
Since the too timely death of Huntington,
Not a blithe word had passage through her lips.

LEI. See, what a pleasing humour wooers bring.

YOUNG B. O, but ye leave too soon.

LEI. Yet she avers
I stand too long: shall I choose yours or hers?

MAT. Either forbear, I pray ye, for a while.

_Enter_ RICHMOND.[311]

Welcome, Lord Richmond.

RICH. What, doth Matilda smile,
That still like silence solitary sat?
Then off with widow's weeds, and teach your feet
(That have forgot for want of exercise,
And by the means your sorrow had no mean)
To tread a measure for a gallant crew
Of courtly masquers landed at the stairs;
Before whom, unentreated, I am come,
And have prevented, I believe, their page,
Who with his torch is enter'd.

FITZ. Richmond, thanks,
If you have aught to say about the masquers.
Beseech the gentlemen to enter in,
For they are welcome guests to old Fitzwater.
[_Exit Messenger_.
Son, son, I pray you fetch the ladies in:
We have been talking here about a match,
And left our noble friends in discontent.

RICH. Nay, by my faith we had much merriment,
Yet thought it long you neither came nor sent.

[MATILDA _faints, and sits down_.

FITZ. How now, Matilda? pray thee, cheer thee, girl.

MAT. I thought it was a lightening before death,[312]
Too sudden to be certain. Good pleasure, stay.

_Enter Ladies_.

Wilt thou not, wanton? churl, then go thy way.

RICH. What, chang'd so soon? so soon fallen to your dumps?
Cheerly! the masque comes in.

[_Enter the Masque_.]

MAT. O[313] God, this veil
And look fit not this sport. I'll leave it.

LEI. Nay,
For your love William's sake, fair maiden, stay!

[_Dance: Masquers take each a lady_, JOHN
MATILDA, _but [she] refusing, father.[314]
They sit down apart_.

FITZ. This is no courtship, daughter, be not nice,
You both abuse him and disparage us.
His fellows had the ladies they did choose,
And, well, you know here's no more maids than Maud:[315]
Yourself are all our store. I pray you, rise,
Or, by my faith, I say you do us wrong.

MAT. I will do what you will. Lead, lead your dance.

KING. You know me by my speech.

MAT. Ay, my liege, ay. O, that temptation's tongue
Hath[316] nowhere to be plac'd but in your head!

KING. Well, say I have her tongue, had I not need,
When you have both her eyes, nay, all her shape,
Able to tempt even Job himself to rape?

MAT. Good my lord, leave, or I will leave the place.

[_Dance again; and in the first course_ MATILDA
_flings from him_: JOHN _follows_.

FITZ. Dance out your galliard: God's dear holy-bread!
Y'are too forgetful. Dance, or, by my troth,
You'll move my patience more than I will speak.
[_She unwilling_, JOHN _roughly pulls her_.
Nay, soft, unmanner'd sir: you are too rough:
Her joints are weak, your arms are strong and tough.
If ye come here for sport, you welcome be;
If not, better your room than such bad company.
[JOHN _threatens him by signs_.
Dost threaten me? then will I see thy face.

KING. And so thou shalt. Look on me, rebel lord!
Thou that wert late a factious ringleader,
And in the open field gav'st me fierce fight:
Art thou again gathering another head,
That with such rudeness thou dost entertain
The gentle coming of thy sovereign?

FITZ. My dread lord, hear me, and forgive this fault,
What I have erst done, long since you forgave:
If I did lead the barons in the field,
The barons chose me, when they could not choose
But make some leader, you were so misled.
When better thoughts enter'd your royal breast,
We then obey'd you as our sovereign head.

KING. You did even what you list, and so do still:
I am the king, but you must have your will.
The plain truth is, we are not come in sport,
Though for our coming this was our best cloak;
For if we never come, till you do send,
We must not be your guest, while banquets last.
Contentious brawls you hourly send to us;
But we may send and send, and you return--
This lord is sick, that pained with the gout,
He rid from home. You think I find not out
Your close confederacies: yes, I do, no doubt.

LEI. If there be here a close confederate,
God's vengeance light upon him with my hate!

KING. No, you are open, Leicester; that I know.

CHES. I, by the Lord, my lord, your open foe.

LEI. By thy lord's Lord and mine, proud Ralph of Chester,
Thou durst not say so, wert thou from the king.

MOW. Yes, but he dares and shall.

RICH. Mowbray, if you stand by,
He dares perchance; else will the dastard fly.

CHES. My own sword shall maintain my tongue's true speech;
For it is not frequented to such lies,
As wrangling Leicester and proud Richmond use:
It cannot set out, like a thundering drum
Or roaring cannon, stuff'd with nought but brags,
The multitudes of seas dyed red with blood,[317]
And famous cities into cinders turn'd
By their two armed arms.

KING. Ay, Chester;
And then they show us rags, torn off belike
From poor decayed ladies' petticoats;
For neither bill, nor feather'd shot, nor pike
Make half nor any of those rents they have.
These, patch'd together, fasten'd unto staves,
They will not stick to swear have been advanc'd
Against the Sophy, Soldan, and the Turk.

LEI. Do not maintain proud Chester, my life's liege:
Your words I must put up; his if I bear--

KING.[318] Yes, you shall bear them, bear, and yet not bite:
We have you muzzled now. Remember once
You brav'd us with your bombard boasting words.
Come (briefly), Leicester, Richmond, both Fitzwaters, Bruce,
Deliver up your swords immediately;
And either yield your bodies to our hands,
Or give such pledges as we shall accept
Unto our steward Winchester with speed.

LEI. I will not leave my arms, nor break my word,
Except I be provok'd: your liege-man I am sworn;
That oath is pledge enough. If you mislike--

KING. Thou hear'st me say I do.

LEI. And I reply:
That pledge refus'd, I have no more for you.

RICH. And Richmond says as noble Leicester saith.
Already have we plighted fame and faith
Which, being scorn'd, returns to us again,
And by the king's own mouth we are discharged.

KING. Fitzwater, what say you?

FITZ. What pledge desires my liege?

KING. I ask your stubborn daughter.

YOUNG B. That were a gage
To be engaged.

FITZ. Peace, thou headstrong boy!
Pardon me, sovereign; all my power is yours;
My goods you may command, my life you may:
My children too, I know, with both their lives
Will readily adventure death's worst wrongs,
To do such service as true subjects should;
But honourable fame; true chastity--

KING. Make no exceptions: yield her up to me,
Or look for ever for my enmity.

FITZ. Nay, then, Fitzwater tells your majesty,
You do him wrong; and well will let you wit,
He will defend his honour to the death.

KING. And, Bruce, you are no otherwise disposed:
You will not give your sons to me for pledge.

BRUCE. I have but one, being my lesser boy,
Who is at Guildford: for my other son--

KING. He braves me with the rest.
Well, it is night, and there's no sun to swear by,
But God's[319] son, and by him I here protest
A miserable storm this night to raise
That shall not cease, while England giveth rest
To such vile traitors. Bruce, I'll begin with you;
I will, i' faith, as true as God is true.

[_Exit_ KING, _cum suis_.

LEI. Then shall a storm be rais'd against a storm,
And tempest be with tempest beaten back.

FITZ. But this firm island, like the sea, will toss.
And many goodly buildings go to wrack;
Many a widow weep her dying son,
And many a mother to her weeping babes
Cry out uncomfortably, "Children, peace,
Your crying unto me is all in vain,
Dead is my husband, your poor father slain!"

YOUNG B. We cannot help it, uncle.

RICH. No, you see
Entreats and humble suits have now no power,
But lust and wrath the kingdom do devour.

BRUCE. Me he did menace first, and much I fear
He will to Guildford, and besiege my wife.

FITZ. O, hie to save her! Richmond, ride with him.

RICH. Let us away, Bruce, lest we come too late,
And with us take some score of men well-arm'd.

[_Exeunt_ RICHMOND _and_ BRUCE.

FITZ. Do: Leicester and myself will keep the city,
Till we are furnish'd with an able army.
Your nephew Bruce shall take an hundred men,[320]
And post to Hertford Castle with your sister.
Sith wrong doth[321] wake us, we will keep such watch,
As for his life he shall not hurt us bring.

[_Exeunt omnes_.



QUEEN. Be comforted, good madam, do not fear,
But give your son as pledge unto the king:
Yourself at court may keep him company.

LADY B. I am betray'd! alas, I am betray'd!
And little thought your highness had been bent
So much against me for my many loves,
As to prepare an entrance for my foe.

QUEEN. As I shall live in heaven, I did not know
Of Hubert's coming. But lament not this:
Your son, you say, is gone; what fear you then?

LADY B. O madam, murder, mischief, wrongs of men
I fear, I fear--what is't I do not fear,
Sith hope is so far off, despair so near?

SAL. Answer me, good Hubert, I pray thee, Hubert, do:
What think you of this matter? may I on your word
Persuade the woman that all things are well?

HUB. You may persuade her if you can, my lord;
For I protest I know no other thing,
But that the king would have him for a pledge
Of the Lord Bruce's faith.

SAL. And reason, too.
Now, by my honour, Hubert, I protest
It is good reason: Bruce, I tell you plain,
Is no sound cloak to keep John from the rain.[322]
I will go to her.

HUB. Do, good simple earl.
If not by threats nor my entreats she yield,
Thy brain is barren of invention,
Dried up with care; and never will she yield
Her son to thee, that having power want'st wit.

LADY B. I overhear thee, Hubert.

SAL. So do I, Dame Bruce;
But stir no coals: the man is well belov'd,
And merits more than so.

LADY B. But I will answer.
Hubert, thou fatal keeper of poor babes,
That are appointed hostages for John,[323]
Had I a son here, as I have not one,
(For yesterday I sent him into Wales),
Think'st thou I would be so degenerate,
So far from kind, to give him unto thee?
I would not, I protest: thou know'st my mind.

SAL. Lady, you fear more than you need to do;
Indeed you do--in very deed you do.
Hubert is wrong'd about the thing you mean--
About young Arthur: O, I thought 'twas so:
Indeed the honest, good, kind gentleman
Did all he might for safeguard of the child.

QUEEN. Believe me, Madam Bruce, the man is wrong'd.

LADY B. But he wrongs me to keep my castle thus,
Disarming my true servants, arming his.
Now more of outrage comes! what shall I do?


KING. O, this is well! Hubert, where's Bruce's son?

LADY B. Where thou shalt never see him, John.

KING. Lady, we will have talk with you anon.
Where is he, Hubert?

HUB. Hid or fled, my lord:
We can by no means get her to confess.

SAL. Welcome to Guildford, Salisbury's liefest lord.[324]

KING. You scarce give welcome, ere I bid you go;
For you, my lord, the queen and Winchester
Shall march to Hertford. Sweet Isabel,
And if thou love me, play the amazon.
Matilda, that hath long bewitch'd mine eye,
Is, as I hear by spials, now in Hertford Castle:
Besiege her there; for now her haughty father
Ruffians it up and down, and all the brood
Of viperous traitors whet their poison'd teeth,
That they may feed on us that foster them.
Go forward, and go with you victory!
Which to assure my powers shall follow you.

SAL. Did I not tell you this? then trust me next.
Nay, he is chang'd, and cares no more for her
Than I do, madam.

KING. Begone, I say, begone!
Your speed rich victory attendeth on:
But your delay
May give your foes the happy glorious day.

QUEEN. One boon, my liege, and part.

KING. Be brief.

QUEEN. Show that poor lady pity, I beseech.


KING. I will indeed. Come, lady, let us in.
You have a son; go in and bring him me,
And for the queen's sake I will favour ye.

LADY B. I have no son. Come, come; come in and search,
And if you find him, wretched may I be.

KING. Chester and Hubert, see you keep good watch.
Not far off do I hear a warlike sound:
Bruce, on my life! look to't, while I go in
To seek this boy, for needs we must have him.
Come with us, Mowbray.


_Enter_ BRUCE, RICHMOND, _Soldiers_.

RICH. The castle-gates are shut. What ho! what ho!
You that are servants to the Lady Bruce,
Arise, make entrance for your lord and friends.

_Enter, or above_, HUBERT, CHESTER.[325]

HUB. We will make issue, ere ye enter here.
Who have we there? Richmond and Bruce, is't you?
What, up so soon? are ye so early here?
In you, i' faith, the proverb's verified,
Y'are early up, and yet are ne'er the near.

RICH. The worse, our fortune. Bruce, let us go hence;
We have no power to fight, nor make defence.

CHES. What, Richmond, will you prove a runaway?

RICH. From thee, good Chester I now the Lord defend!
Bruce, we will stay and fight.

BRUCE. 'Tis to no end:
We have but twenty men, and they be tired.
But ere we do retire, tell me, Lord Hubert,
Where are my wife and son?

HUB. Your wife is here; your son we cannot find.

BRUCE. Let son and wife, high heavens, your comfort find!




CHES. Bruce hath been here, my lord.

KING. Ay, let him go.
We have good pledges: though we see but one,
The other we are sure will come anon.

MOW. I do advise you, for your own discharge,
Deliver up your son unto the king.

KING. Nay, let her choose. Come hither, Mowbray.

[_The_ KING _and_ MOWBRAY _whisper_.

HUB. The king is angry: Lady Bruce, advise you.

LADY B. What! be advis'd by thee
To have my loving, kind, and pretty boy
Given to an unkind killer of sweet boys?

CHES. Madam, go to; take counsel of your friends.
I warrant you the king will use him well.

LADY B. Ay, as he us'd his nephew Arthur, Chester.
God bless my child from being used so!

MOW. Sir Hubert, what, are all the people voided,
The horses and the cattle turned forth?

HUB. Mowbray, they be.

MOW. Then will I do the king's commandment.

LADY B. What will he do? good Lord! what will he do?
Mowbray, I pray you, what is't you will do?

MOW. Why, fire the castle.

LADY B. The castle, Mowbray? tarry, tarry, man!
Hold me not, Chester! gentle Mowbray, stay!
Good Hubert, let me go!

MOW. You must not go:
The king is mov'd, and will not hear you speak.

LADY B. But he shall hear me! pity me, King John!
Call Mowbray back: hear me, for pity's sake!
Regard the Lady Bruce's woful cry!

KING. What dost thou ask?

LADY B. First call back Mowbray.

KING. Stay, Mowbray. Now, be brief.

LADY B. I have some linen garments, jewels, 'tires,
Pack'd in a hamper here within the lodge:
O, let me save it from consuming fire!

KING. And is this all?

LADY B. It's all the little all I here have left.

KING. Away! set fire! linen and trash!

LADY B. Once more hear me! there's a precious gem,
You have not any richer in all the realm:
If fire do blemish it, art never more
To his true colour can the same restore.

KING. Fetch it.
Two of ye help her with her hamper hither.

LADY B. Nay, nay, one will suffice: the jewel if I save,
Is all I ask.
[_Exit with_ CHESTER.

KING. We shall her jewel have.

HUB. She is very fearful I should keep her son.

LADY B. [_Within_.] Ye do, ye do!

KING. Alas! good Lady, hark: Chester and she are chiding.

_Enter_ CHESTER _and she, leading the boy_.

LADY B. Let go his hand! Is this a paw, think you,
To hold a tender hand in? fie, for shame!
A nobleman so churlish! Look, I pray,
His arms are gristless.[327]

KING. How now, Lady Bruce!
Doth Chester hurt the jewel of your joy?
Now, by my troth, it is a pretty boy!

LADY B. Ay, knew your majesty as much as I,
You would say more.

KING. Well, he and you of us no wrong shall have,
But stay in Windsor Castle with Sir Walter Blunt,
And honourably be us'd; provided still
Your husband and your son obey our will.

LADY B. For this great mercy, if they disobey,
Myself will chide them. Fortune follow John,
And on his foes fall swift destruction!

KING. Come! let us now after the queen and Salisbury.

[_Exeunt omnes_.


_Enter the_ QUEEN, SALISBURY, _Soldiers_.

QUEEN. Now are ye, worthy and resolved men,
Come to the cage where the unclean birds bide,
That tire[328] on all the fair flight in the realm.
Summon this castle, or (to keep my words)
This cage of night-hid owls, light-flying birds.
[_Offer to summon_.

_Enter_ YOUNG BRUCE, MATILDA, _Soldiers_.

SAL. Stay, drum! thou need'st not summon willing men,
Or rather wilful, for such methinks they be.

QUEEN. See ye yon baggage, muffled in black weeds:
Those clouds fold in the comet that portends
Sad desolation to this royal realm.
For ever seek to mask her light, good friends:
Let us disrobe her of each little beam,
And then your Phoebus will one Phoebe have,
That while they live shall lend your land true light,
Give joy unto your day, rest to your night.
Assail them, stay not.

SAL. Stay, and assay them first!
I say to you, fair queen, this fact is foul.
Let not provoking words whet dull-edg'd swords,
But try if we can blunt sharp blades with words.
Fitzwater's nephew, Bruce, I see thee there,
And tell thee it is shame for such a boy
To lead a many able men to fight.
And, modest-looking maid, I see you too:
An unfit sight to view virginity
Guarded with other soldiers than good prayers.
But you will say the king occasions it:
Say what you will, no king but would take cause
Of just offence.
Yield you, young Bruce, your mother is in hold.
Yield you, young maid, your father is in hold.

MAT. Will the queen keep me from the lustful king,
Then will I yield.

QUEEN. A plague upon this counterfeiting quean.

MAT. God's blessed mercy! will you still be mad,
And wrong a noble virgin with vile speech?

SAL. Let me alone. Matilda, maiden fair,
Thou virgin spouse, true Huntington's just heir,
Wilt thou come hither? and I do protest,
The queen and I, to mitigate this war,
Will do what thou wouldst have.

MAT. I come.

BRUCE. You shall not go. Sound, drums, to war!
Alack, alack, for woe!
Well, God for us! sith it will needs be so.

[_Alarum, fight, stay_.

SAL. What stay you for?

BRUCE. Matilda's cries do stay us.

MAT. Salisbury, I come in hope of thy defence.

BRUCE. First will I die, ere you shall yield yourself
To any coward lord that serves the king.

SAL. Coward, proud boy! Thou find'st me no such beast,
And thou shalt rue in earnest this rude jest.

[_Fight again_. MATILDA _taken, led by the hair
by two Soldiers_.

SAL. Rude hands! how hale you virtuous honour forth!
You do not well: away!
Now, by my faith, ye do not well, I say.
Take her, fair queen, use her as she deserves:
She's fair, she's noble, chaste, and debonair.
I must, according to due course of war,
See that our soldiers scatter not too far,
Lest, what care won, our negligence may lose.

QUEEN. Is this the Helen, this the paragon,
That makes the English Ilion[329] flame so fast?

MAT. I am not she; you see I am not she:
I am not ravish'd yet, as Helen was.
I know not what will come of John's desire,
That rages like the sea, that burns like fire.

QUEEN. Plain John, proud Joan! I'll tear your painted face.
Thus, thus I'll use you. [_Scratches her_.


MAT. Do, do what you will.

SAL. How goes this gear? ha! foul fall so foul deed![330]
Poor chaste child of Fitzwater, dost thou bleed?
By God's bless'd mother! this is more than need;
And more, I tell you true, than I would bear,
Were not the danger of the camp so near.

_Enter a_ MESSENGER.

MES. My lord, the foes have gathered head:
Lord Bruce, the father, joineth with the son.

SAL. Why, here's the matter: we must spend our time
To keep your nails from scratching innocence,
Which should have been bestow'd for our defence.
What shall we now do? Help me, holy God!
The foe is come, and we are out of rank.

[_Skirmish_: QUEEN _taken_, MATILDA _rescued_.

_Enter_ OLD BRUCE _wounded, led by his Son, and_ LEICESTER.

BRUCE. Is the field ours?

YOUNG B. Ay, thanks to noble Leicester.

BRUCE. Give God thanks, son: be careful to thy mother;
Commend me to Fitzwater; love thy brother,
If either arms or prayers may him recover.

LEI. How cheers old Bruce?

YOUNG B. His soul to joy is fled,
His grief is in my bosom buried.

LEI. His life was dearly bought; for my eyes saw
A shambles of dead men about his feet,
Sent by his sword into eternal shade.
With honour bury him. Cease tears, good Bruce.

YOUNG B, Tears help not, I confess, yet must I weep.
Soldiers, your help to bear him to my tent.

[_Exeunt cum_ BRUCE.

_Enter_ QUEEN _and_ MATILDA.

MAT. Be comforted, great queen: forget my wrongs.
It was my fortune, and no fault of yours.

QUEEN. Is she thus mild? or doth she mock my chance?

LEI. Queen Isabel,[331] are you a prisoner?
See what it is to be a soldier.
But what foul hand hath harm'd Matilda's fair?[332]
Speak, honourable maid, who tore thy hair?
Did Salisbury or the queen this violence?

MAT. Ungentle grooms first took and tore me thus,
From whom old Salisbury, chastising their wrong,
Most kindly brought me to this gentle queen;
Who laid her soft hand on my bleeding cheeks,
Gave kisses to my lips, wept for my woe;
And was devising how to send me back,
Even when your last alarum frighted us,
And by her kindness fell into your hands.

LEI. Which kindness we return: Madam, be free.
Soldiers, conduct the queen whither she please.

QUEEN. Farewell, Matilda; if I live, believe
I will remember this. O, how I grieve
That I should wrong so innocent a maid!
Come, lady, old Fitzwater is not far:
He'll weep to see these scars, full well I know.

MAT. Would I were from this woful world of war!
Sure I will 'scape, and to some nunnery go.




KING. Had you her, then, had you her in your power?

SAL. Ay, marry had we: we had taken her.

KING. O, had she been in mine, not all earth's power
From my power should have freed her!

SAL. You are a king, and high are princes' thoughts:
It may be, with your sight you could have chas'd
A host of armed men; it may be so:
But we, your subjects, did the best we could.
Yet Bruce the father, backing Bruce the son,
Scatter'd our troops, brought rescue to Matilda,
And took your peerless queen their prisoner.

KING. On all the race of Bruces for this wrong
I will have vengeance! Hubert, call in Brand. [_Exit_ HUBERT.
My Lord of Salisbury, give us leave awhile
To be alone.

SAL. I will, my liege. Be you comforted;
The queen will be recovered, do not fear,
As well as e'er she was.

KING. Salisbury, forbear, I pray.

SAL. Yet for the wrong she did unto Matilda,
I fear, I fear--

KING. The father and the son did rescue her;
The mother and the son shall rue the deed.
So it shall be; I am resolv'd thereon.
Matilda, my soul's food, those have bereft,
And these of body's food I will bereave.

_Enter_ HUBERT [_with_] BRAND.

KING. Will Brand.

BRAND. Your majesty. [_Make legs_.

KING. Less of your court'sy. Hubert, stand aside.
Post speedily to Windsor; take this ring;
Bid Blunt deliver Bruce's wife and child
Into your hands, and ask him for the key
Of the dark tower o'er the dungeon vault:
In that see you shut up the dam and brat.
Pretend to Blunt that you have left them meat,
Will serve some se'ennight; and unto him say,
It is my will you bring the key away.
And hear you, sir, I charge you on your life,
You do not leave a bit of bread with them.

BRAND. I warrant you; let me alone.

KING. Come back again with all the speed you may.

[_Exit_ BRAND.

HUB. Some cruel task is pointed for that slave,
Which he will execute as cruelly. [_Aside_.]

KING. No ruth, no pity shall have harbour here,
Till fair Matilda be within these arms.

_Enter_ SALISBURY _with the_ QUEEN.

SAL. Comfort, my lord; comfort, my gracious lord;
Your love is come again!

KING. Ah, Salisbury! where?

SAL. Here, my dread sovereign.

KING. Thou liest; she is not there.

SAL. Under correction you wrong my age.
Say, I beseech you, is not this the queen?

KING. I cry you mercy, Salisbury; 'tis indeed.
Where is Matilda?

QUEEN. Where virtue, chastity, and innocence remain,
There is Matilda.

KING. How comes she, pray, to be so chaste, so fair:
So virtuous in your eye?

QUEEN. She freed me from my foes, and never urg'd
My great abuse when she was prisoner.

KING. What did you to her!

QUEEN. Rail'd upon her first,
Then tare her hair, and rent her tender cheeks.

KING. O heaven! was not the day dark at that foul deed?
Could the sun see without a red eclipse
The purple tears fall from those tyrant wounds?
Out, Ethiop, gipsy, thick-lipped blackamoor!
Wolf, tigress! worse than either of them both!

SAL. Are you advis'd, my lord?

KING. Out, doting earl!
Couldst thou endure to see such violence?

SAL. I tell you plain, my lord, I brook'd it not.
But stay'd the tempest.

KING. Rend my love's cheeks! that matchless effigy
Of wonder-working nature's chiefest work:
Tear her rich hair! to which gold wires,
Sun's rays, and best of best compares
(In their most pride) have no comparison.
Abuse her name! Matilda's sacred name!
O barbarous outrage, rudeness merciless!

QUEEN. I told you, Salisbury, you mistook the king.

SAL. I did indeed. My liege lord, give me leave
To leave the camp.

KING. Away, old fool! and take with thee that trull;
For if she stay--

SAL. Come, lady, come away,
Tempt not his rage. Ruin wrath always brings:
Lust being lord, there is no trust in kings.


_Enter_ MOWBRAY.

MOW. To arms, King John! Fitzwater's field is pitch'd
About some mile hence on a champain[333] plain.
Chester hath drawn our soldiers in array:
The wings already have begun the fight.

KING. Thither we will with wings of vengeance fly,
And win Matilda, or lose victory!



_Enter_ LADY BRUCE _and her_ BOY _with_ BRAND.

LADY B. Why did my keeper put us in thy hands?
Wherein have we offended Blunt or thee?

BRAND. You need not make these words:
You must remove your lodging; this is all.
Be not afeard: come, come, here is the door.

LADY B. O God, how dark it is!

BRAND. Go in, go in; it's higher up the stairs.

LADY B. My trembling heart forbids me to go in.
O, if thou have compassion, tell me true,
What my poor boy and I must trust unto?

BRAND. I tell thee true, compassion is my foe;
Yet have I had of thee compassion.
Take in thy child: as I have faith or troth,
Thou and thy boy shall be but prisoners,
And I must daily bring you meat and drink.

LADY B. Well, thou hast sworn, and God so give thee light,
As in this dark place thou rememb'rest us.
Poor heart, thou laugh'st, and hast not wit to think
Upon the many fears that me afflict.
I will not in. Help us, assist us, Blunt!
We shall be murdered in a dungeon!

BRAND. Cry without cause? I'll have ye in, i' faith.

LADY B. O, let my boy and I but dine with Blunt,
And then I will with patience go in.

BRAND. Will ye or nill ye, zounds! ye must go in,
And never dine.

LADY B. What say'st thou I never dine!

BRAND. No--not with Blunt, I mean. Go in, I say;
Or by this hand ye get no meat to-day.

LADY B. My child is hungry: when shall he have meat?

BRAND. Why, and ye would go in, immediately.

LADY B. I will go in; but very much I doubt,
Nor I nor my poor boy shall e'er come out.

[_Exeunt. He seems to lock a door_.

BRAND. Ne'er, while ye live, i' faith! now are they sure.
Cry, till their hearts ache, no man can them hear.
A miserable death is famishment;
But what care I? The king commanded me.


_Alarum within: excursions: enter_ FITZWATER, BRUCE.

FITZ. Now doth fair fortune offer hope of speed;
But howsoe'er we speed, good cousin Bruce,
March with three hundred bows and pikes to Windsor,
Spreading a rumour that the day is ours,
As ours it shall be with the help of heaven.
Blunt loves our part far better than the king's,
And will, I gage my life, upon the news
Surrender up the castle to our use.
By this means shall you help us to a hold,
Howe'er it chance: set free your lady mother,
That lives in prison there with your young brother.

BRUCE. Away, good uncle, to the battle go!
But that a certain good ensues, I know,
For all the world I would not leave you so.

FITZ. Away, away!
God send thee Windsor: us this happy day.

_Alarum still. Enter_ HUBERT _and_ MATILDA.[334]

HUB. You cannot hide yourself, Matilda; no disguise
Will serve the turn: now must you to the king,
And all these wars will with your presence cease.
Yield you to him, he soon will yield to peace.

MAT. They say thou took'st some pity of a child,
The king appointing thee to sear his eyes;
Men do report thee to be just of word,
And a dear lover of my lord the king.
If thou didst that, if thou be one of these,
Pity Matilda, prostrate at thy feet.

HUB. I sav'd young Arthur's eyes, and pity thee;
My word is just, which I have given the king;
The king I love, and thee I know he loves:
Compare these, then how can I pleasure thee?

MAT. By letting me escape to Dunmow Abbey,
Where I will end my life a votary.

HUB. And the king die with doting on thy love?

MAT. No, no; this fire of lust would be soon laid,
If once he knew me sworn a holy maid.

HUB. Thy tears and love of virtue have the power
To make me at an instant true and false:
True to distressed beauty and rare chastity;
False to King John, that holds the sight of thee
Dearer than England or earth's empery.
Go, happy soul, that in so ill an age
Hast such fair beauty for thy heritage:
Yet go not so alone. Dost hear, tall soldier?
[_Call a Soldier_.
I know thee honest: guide this gentle maid
To Dunmow Abbey: she is one I know.
I will excuse thee, and content thee well;
My signet take, that ye may pass unsearch'd.

MAT. Kind Hubert, many prayers for this good deed
Shall on my beads be daily numbered.



LEI. O treble heat of honour, toil, and rage!
How cheers Earl Richmond? Fitzwater, speak, old man.
We are now near together: answer me.

FITZ. Leicester, the more our woe,
The likelier to be taken by the foe.

RICH. O, let not such a thought abuse thy age!
We'll never yield us to the tyrant's rage.

LEI. But if my girl be yielded--
If she be!

FITZ. Ay, ay--
There's no man but shall have his time to die.

LEI. Now is our hour, which they shall dearly by.


RICH. Leicester, we'll stand like three battalions:
What says our noble general thereto?

FITZ. Why, I say, do:
[And] while I can, I'll keep my place with you.

KING. How now, my bugbear, will you now submit?

LEI. To death, but not to thee.

KING. Richmond, nor you?

RICH. Earl Richmond will not yield.

KING. Methinks, Fitzwater, you should have more wit.

FITZ. If it be wit to live, I have no will;
And so in this my will o'errules my wit.

KING. Alarum then! with weapons will we scourge
Your desperate will, and teach ye to have wit.

[_Fight: drive back the_ KING.

KING. Of high heroic spirits be they all.
We will withdraw a little, and confer,
For they are circled round, and cannot 'scape.

RICH. O that we three who, in the sun's arise
Were, like the three Triumviri[335] of Rome,
Guides of an host, able to vanquish Rome,
Are now alone, enclos'd with enemies!

FITZ. The glory of the world hath no more stay,
But as it comes, it fleets, and fades away.

LEI. Courage, and let us die! they come again:
It's Lord Hubert alone. Hubert, what news?[336]

_Enter_ HUBERT.

HUB. This day's fierce slaughter, John our king laments,
And to you three, great leaders of an host,
That now have not a man at all to lead,
You worthy captains without companies--

LEI. Fitzwater! Richmond! by the blessed sun,
Lord Hubert mocks us.

HUB. By the moon, I do not; and put the blessed to't,
It is as good an oath as you have sworn.
My heart grieves that so great hearts as yours be
Should put your fortunes on a sort[337] of slaves,
That bring base fear within them to the field.
But to the matter--sith your state is such,
That without mercy you are sure of death
(Which I am sure, and well his highness knows,
You do not fear at all), yet he gives grant,
On just conditions you shall save your lives.

FITZ. On no condition will I save my life,
Except Matilda be return'd again,
Unblemish'd, unabus'd; and then I yield.

HUB. She now is where she never will return.

FITZ. Never? O God! is my Matilda dead?

HUB. Dead to the world; dead to this woe she is.
She lives at Dunmow, and is vow'd a nun.

FITZ. Do not delude me, Hubert, gentle son.

HUB. By all the faith and honour of my kin,
By my unstain'd allegiance to the king.
By my own word, that hath reproveless been,
She is at Dunmow.

FITZ. O, how came she there?

HUB. When all these fields were walks for rage and fear:
This howling like a head of hungry wolves,[338]
That, scudding as a herd of frighted deer:
When dust, arising like a coal-black fog,
From friend divided friend, join'd foe to foe,
Yet neither those nor these could either know;
Till here and there, through large wide-mouthed wounds,
Proud life, even in the glory of his heat
Losing possession, belch'd forth streams of blood,
Whose spouts in falling made ten thousand drops,
And with that purple shower the dust allay'd--
At such a time met I the trembling maid;
Seeming a dove from all her fellows parted--
Seen, known, and taken; unseen and unknown
To any other that did know us both,
At her entreats I sent her safely guided
To Dunmow Abbey; and the guide return'd
Assures me she was gladfully receiv'd,
Pitied, and in his sight did take her oath.

FITZ. Hubert, for this thy honourable deed
I and my house will reverence thy name.

HUB. Yet, I beseech you, hide it from the king;
At least that I convey'd her to the place.


FITZ. Hubert, I will.

KING. What, stand they still on terms?

LEI. On honourable terms, on terms of right.
Our lives without our liberty we scorn.

KING. You shall have life and liberty, I swear.

LEI. Then Leicester bows his knee to his liege lord,
And humbly begs his highness to beware
Of wronging innocence, as he hath done.

RICH. The like Richmond desires, and yields his sword.

KING. I do embrace ye both, and hold myself
Richer by a whole realm in having you.

FITZ. Much is my wrong; yet I submit with these,
Begging free leave to live a private life.

KING. Old brands of malice in thy bosom rest:
Thou shalt have leave to leave me, never doubt.
Fitzwater, see thou ship thee straight for France,
And never set thy foot on English shore,
Till I repeal thee. Go, go hence in peace.

LEI. Why doth your highness wrong Fitzwater thus?

KING. I right his wrong; he's weary of the land.

RICH. Not of the land, but of a public life.

KING. Content ye, lords: in such quick times as these
We must not keep a drone among our bees.

FITZ. I am as glad to go as you to send:
Yet I beseech this favour of your grace,
That I may see Matilda, ere I part.

KING. Matilda! see Matilda, if thou canst,
Before sunset: stay not another day.

FITZ[339]. The abbey-walls, that shroud my happy child,
Appear within her hapless father's sight.
Farewell, my sovereign, Leicester, Richmond, lords:
Farewell to all; grief gives no way to words.

KING. Fitzwater, stay: lords, give us leave awhile.
Hubert, go you before unto the abbess,
And signify our coming. Let her bring
Matilda to her father. (_Exit_ HUBERT.) Come, old man;
Be not too froward, and we shall be friends.
About this girl our mortal jars began,
And, if thou wilt, here all our quarrel ends.

FITZ. Reserve my honour and my daughter's fame,
And no poor subject that your grace commands
Shall willinger submit, obey, and serve.

KING. Do then but this. Persuade thy beauteous child
To leave the nunnery and return to court,
And I protest from henceforth to forswear
All such conceits of lust as I have borne.

FITZ. I will, my lord, do all that I may do;
But give me leave in this to doubt of you.

KING. This small thing grant, and ask me anything;
Or else die in exile, loath'd of the king.

FITZ. You shall perceive I will do what I may.

_Enter on the wall_, ABBESS, MATILDA. _Re-enter_ HUBERT.

HUB. Matilda is afraid to leave the house;
But lo, on yonder battlement she stands,
But in no case will come within your hands.

KING. What! will my lady-abbess war[340] with us?
Speak, lady; wherefore shut you up your gates?

ABB. Have we not reason, when an host of men
Hunt and pursue religious chastity?
King John, bethink thee what thou tak'st in hand
On pain of interdiction of thy land.
Murderers and felons may have sanctuary,
And shall not honourable maids distress'd,
Religious virgins, holy nuns profess'd,
Have that small privilege? Now, out upon thee, out!
Holy Saint Catherine, shield my virginity!
I never stood in such extremity.

HUB. My lord, the abbess lies, I warrant you;
For I have heard there is a monk of Bury,
That once a week comes thither to make merry.

KING. Content thee, Hubert; that same monk and she,
And the worst come, my instruments shall be.
Good lady-abbess, fear no violence;
There's not one here shall offer you offence.

FITZ. Daughter, all this while tears my speech have stay'd.
My lord the king, lords, all draw near, I pray,
And hear a poor man's parting from his child.
Matilda, still my unstain'd honour's joy,
Fair ornament of old Fitzwater's coat,[341]
Born to rich fortunes, did not this ill-age
Bereave thee of thy birthright's heritage,
Thou see'st our sovereign--lord of both our lives,
A long besieger of thy chastity--
Hath scatter'd all our forces, slain our friends,
Razed our castles, left us ne'er a house
Wherein to hide us from his wrathful eye:
Yet God provides; France is appointed me,
And thou find'st house-room in this nunnery.
Here, if the king should dote as he hath done,
It's sacrilege to tempt a holy nun:
But I have hope he will not; yet my fear
So drowns my hope, as I am forc'd to stay,
And leave abruptly what I more would say.

MAT. O, go not yet, my griev'd heart's comforter!
I am as valiant to resist desire
As ever thou wert worthy in the field.
John may attempt, but if Matilda yield,
O, then--

FITZ. Ay, then, Matilda, thou dost lose
The former glory of thy chaste resolves.
These seven years hast thou bid[342] a martyr's pains,
Resisting in thyself lust-growing fire,
For, being mortal, sure thou hast desire;
And five sad winters have their full course run,
Since thou didst bury noble Huntington.
In these years many months and many days
Have been consum'd thy virtues to consume.
Gifts have been heralds; panders did presume
To tempt thy chaste ears with their unchaste tongues:
All in effect working to no effect;
For I was still the watchman of thy tower,
The keeper of foul worms from my fair flower.
But now no more, no more Fitzwater may
Defend his poor lamb from the lion's prey--
Thy order and thy holy prayers may.
To help thee thou hast privilege by law;
Therefore be resolute, and nobly die!
Abhor base lust, defend thy chastity.

KING. Despatch, Fitzwater: hinder not thy child:
Many preferments do on her await.

FITZ. Ay, girl, I know thou shalt be offer'd wealth,
Which is a shrewd enticement in sad want,
Great honours to lift up thy low estate,
And glorious titles to eternise thee.
All these do but gild over ugly shame;
Such wealth, my child, foreruns releaseless need,
Such honour ever proves dishonourate.
For titles, none comes near a virtuous name:
O, keep it ever, as thou hast done yet!
And though these dark times should forget thy praise,
An age will come that shall eternise it.
Bid me farewell, and speak it in a word.

MAT. Farewell, dear father.

FITZ. O, farewell, sweet child.
My liege, farewell: Leicester, Richmond, Hubert,
Chester and Mowbray, friends and foes, farewell.
Matilda, see thou keep thy spotless fame,
And live eternis'd, else die soon with shame.

MAT. Amen, amen: father, adieu, adieu!
Grief dwells with me, sweet comfort follow you!

ABB. Come, daughter, come. This is a woful sight,
When good endeavours are oppress'd by might.

[_Exeunt from above_ ABBESS, MATILDA.

KING. Ah, Hubert! seest thou not the sun go down,
Cloudy and dark? Matilda, stay! one word.
She shakes her head, and scornfully says nay.

RICH. How cheer'st thou, Leicester?

LEI. Mad, man, at my state,
That cannot raise true honour ruinate.


KING. I will not be disdain'd. I vow to see
Quick vengeance on this girl for scorning me.

MES. Young Bruce, my lord, hath gotten Windsor Castle,
Slain Blunt your constable, and those that kept it;
And finding in a tower his mother dead,
With his young brother starv'd and famished,
That every one may see the rueful sight,
In the thick wall he a wide window makes;
And as he found them, so he lets them be,
A spectacle to every comer-by,
That heaven and earth your tyrant shame may see.
All people cursing, crying fie upon,
The tyrant, merciless, inhuman John.

KING. Chester and Mowbray, march away to Windsor:
Suppress that traitor Bruce. What, if his dam
In wilful fury would receive no meat,
Nor suffer her young child any to eat,
Is it our fault? haste ye with speed away,
And we will follow. Go; begone, I pray.


HUB. O black and woful deed! O piteous thing,
When slaves attend the fierce thoughts of a king.

LEI. My lord, shall we go too?

KING. Leicester and Richmond, ay, I pray ye, do.

LEI. Get I my bear and ragged staff once more
Rais'd in the field, for these wrongs some shall roar.


KING. Fetch in the monk of Bury, that I talk'd of,
[_Exeunt_ HUBERT _for the_ MONK.
And bid Will Brand, my instrument of death,
Come likewise in. Convert to raging hate


My long-resisted love! welcome, good monk.

MONK. Thanks to my liege.

KING. Thou hast been long in suit
To be installed abbot of your house,
And in your favour many friends have stirr'd.
Now is the hour that you shall be preferr'd
Upon condition--and the matter small.
Short shrift to make, good honest confessor,
I love a fair nun, now in Dunmow Abbey:
The abbess loves you, and you pleasure her;
Now, if between you two this pretty lady
Could be persuaded to affect a king,
Your suit is granted, and on Dunmow Abbey
I will bestow a hundred marks a year.

MONK. A holy nun! a young nun! and a lady!
Dear wear, my lord; yet bid you well as may be.
Strike hands; a bargain: she shall be your own,
Or if she will not--

KING. Nay, if she do refuse,
I'll send a death's man with you; this is he.
If she be wilful, leave her to his hands,
And on her own head be her hasted end.

MONK. The matter shall be done.

KING. Sirrah, what poisons have you ready?

BRAND. Store, store.

KING. Wait on the monk, then, and ere we take horse,
I'll give you such instructions as you need.
Hubert, repair[343] to Windsor with our host.

[_Exeunt_ KING, MONK, _and_ BRAND.

HUB. Your tyrannies have lost my love almost,
And yet I cannot choose but love eternally
This wanton king, replete with cruelty.
O, how are all his princely virtues stain'd
With lust abhorred and lascivious heat
Which, kindling first to fire, now in a flame,
Shows to the whole world clearly his foul shame.
To quench this flame full many a tide of tears,
Like overflowing-full seas, have been spent;
And many a dry land drunk with human blood;
Yet nothing helps his passions violent:
Rather they add oil to his raging fire,
Heat to his heat, desire to his desire.
Somewhat, I fear, is now a-managing,
For that prodigious bloody stigmatic[344]
Is never call'd unto his kingly sight,
But like a comet he portendeth still
Some innovation or some monstrous act,
Cruel, unkindly, horrid, full of hate;
As that vile deed at Windsor done of late.
Gentle Matilda, somewhat I mistrust;
Yet thee I need not fear, such is his love.
Again, the place doth give thee warrantise;
Yet I remember when his highness said,
The lustful monk of Bury should him aid.
Ay, so it is: if she have any ill,


Back to Full Books