The Life of Sir John Oldcastle
William Shakespeare [Apocrypha]

Part 1 out of 3

This Etext prepared by Tony Adam

The True and Honorable History of the Life of Sir John Oldcastle,
the Good Lord Cobham. Attributed in part to William Shakespeare.

The Actors Names in the History of Sir John Oldcastle.

King Henry the Fifth.
Sir John Old-castle, Lord Cobham.
Harpoole, Servant to the Lord Cobham.
Lord Herbert, with Gough his man.
Lord Powis, with Owen and Davy his men.
The Mayor of Hereford, and Sheriff of Herefordshire, with Bailiffs
and Servants.
Two Judges of Assize.
The Bishop of Rochester and Clun his Sumner.
Sir John the Parson of Wrotham, and Doll his Concubine.
The Duke of Suffolk.
The Earl of Huntington.
The Earl of Cambridge.
Lord Scroop and Lord Grey.
Chartres the French Agent.
Sir Roger Acton.
Sir Richard Lee.
M. Bourn, M. Beverly, and Murley the Brewer of Dunstable, rebels.
M. Butler, Gentleman of the Privy Chamber.
Lady Cobham and Lady Powis.
Cromer, Sheriff of Kent.
Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.
Lieutenant of the Tower.
The Mayor, Constable, and Gaoler of S. Albans.
A Kentish Constable and an Ale-man.
Soldiers and old men begging.
Dick and Tom, servants to Murley.
An Irishman.
An Host, Hostler, a Carrier and Kate.


The doubtful Title (Gentlemen) prefixt
Upon the Argument we have in hand,
May breed suspence, and wrongfully disturb
The peaceful quiet of your settled thoughts.
To stop which scruple, let this brief suffice:
It is no pampered glutton we present,
Nor aged Counsellor to youthful sin,
But one, whose virtue shone above the rest,
A valiant Martyr and a virtuous peer;
In whose true faith and loyalty expressed
Unto his sovereign, and his country's weal,
We strive to pay that tribute of our Love,
Your favours merit. Let fair Truth be graced,
Since forged invention former time defaced.

ACT I. SCENE I. Hereford. A street.

[Enter Lord Herbert, Lord Powis, Owen, Gough, Davy,
and several other followers of the lords Herbert and Powis;
they fight. In the fight, enter the Sheriff and two of his men.]

My Lords, I charge ye in his Highness' name,
To keep the peace, you, and your followers.

Good Master Sheriff, look unto your self.

Do so, for we have other business.

[Profer to fight again.]

Will ye disturb the Judges, and the Assize?
Hear the King's proclamation, ye were best.

Hold then, let's hear it.

But be brief, ye were best.


Cousin, make shorter O, or shall mar your Yes.


What, has her nothing to say but O yes?


O nay! pye Cosse plut down with her, down with her!
A Pawesse! a Pawesse!

A Herbert! a Herbert! and down with Powis!

[Helter skelter again.]

Hold, in the King's name, hold.

Down i' tha knave's name, down.

[In this fight, the Bailiff is knocked down, and the Sheriff
and the other run away.]

Powesse, I think thy Welsh and thou do smart.

Herbert, I think my sword came near thy heart.

Thy heart's best blood shall pay the loss of mine.

A Herbert! a Herbert!

A Pawesse! a Pawesse!

[As they are lifting their weapons, enter the Mayor of
Hereford, and his Officers and Towns-men with clubs.]

My Lords, as you are liege men to the Crown,
True noblemen, and subjects to the King,
Attend his Highness' proclamation,
Commanded by the Judges of Assize,
For keeping peace at this assembly.

Good Master Mayor of Hereford be brief.

Sergeant, without the ceremony of Oyes,
Pronounce aloud the proclamation.

The King's Justices, perceiving what public mischief may ensue
this private quarrel, in his majesty's name do straightly charge
and command all persons, of what degree soever, to depart this
city of Hereford, except such as are bound to give attendance at
this Assize, and that no man presume to wear any weapon,
especially welsh-hooks, forest bills--

Haw, no pill nor wells hoog? ha?

Peace, and hear the proclamation.

And that the Lord Powesse do presently disperse and discharge
his retinue, and depart the city in the King's peace, he and his
followers, on pain of imprisonment.

Haw? pud her Lord Pawesse in prison? A Pawes!
A Pawesse! cossone live and tie with her Lord.

A Herbert! a Herbert!

[In this fight the Lord Herbert is wounded, and falls to the
ground; the Mayor and his company go away, crying clubs;
Powesse runs away; Gough and other of Herbert's faction
busy themselves about Herbert; enter the two Judges in
their robes, the Sheriff and his Bailiffs afore them, &c.]

Where's the Lord Herbert? is he hurt or slain?

He's here, my Lord.

How fares his Lordship, friends?

Mortally wounded, speechless; he cannot live.

Convey him hence; let not his wounds take air,
And get him dressed with expedition.

[Ex. Herbert & Gough.]

Master Mayor of Hereford, Master Shrieve o' the shire,
Commit Lord Powesse to safe custody,
To answer the disturbance of the peace,
Lord Herbert's peril, and his high contempt
Of us, and you the King's commissioners.
See it be done with care and diligence.

Please it your Lordship, my Lord Powesse is gone
Past all recovery.

Yet let search be made,
To apprehend his followers that are left.

There are some of them. Sirs, lay hold of them.

Of us? and why? what has her done, I pray you?

Disarm them, Bailiffs.

Officers, assist.

Hear you, Lor shudge, what resson is for this?

Cosson pe puse for fighting for our Lord?

Away with them.

Harg you, my Lord.

Gough my Lord Herbert's man's a shitten kanave.

Ise live and tie in good quarrel.

Pray you do shustice; let all be preson.

Prison! no.
Lord shudge, I wool give you pale, good suerty.

What Bail? what sureties?

Her coozin ap Ries, ap Evan, ap Morris, ap Morgan, ap
Lluellyn, ap Madoc, ap Meredith, ap Griffen, ap Davy, ap
Owen, ap Shinken Shones.

Two of the most sufficient are ynow.

And 't please your Lordship, these are all but one.

To Jail with them, and the Lord Herbert's men;
We'll talk with them, when the Assize is done.


Riotous, audacious, and unruly Grooms,
Must we be forced to come from the Bench,
To quiet brawls, which every Constable
In other civil places can suppress?

What was the quarrel that caused all this stir?

About religion, as I heard, my Lord.
Lord Powesse detracted from the power of Rome,
Affirming Wickliffe's doctrine to be true,
And Rome's erroneous. Hot reply was made
By the lord Herbert, they were traitors all
That would maintain it: Powesse answered,
They were as true, as noble, and as wise
As he, that would defend it with their lives;
He named for instance sir John Old-castle
The Lord Cobham: Herbert replied again,
"He, thou, and all are traitors that so hold."
The lie was given, the several factions drawn,
And so enraged, that we could not appease it.

This case concerns the King's prerogative,
And's dangerous to the State and common wealth.
Gentlemen, Justices, master Mayor, and master Shrieve,
It doth behoove us all, and each of us
In general and particular, to have care
For suppressing of all mutinies,
And all assemblies, except soldiers' musters
For the King's preparation into France.
We hear of secret conventicles made,
And there is doubt of some conspiracies,
Which may break out into rebellious arms
When the King's gone, perchance before he go:
Note as an instance, this one perilous fray;
What factions might have grown on either part,
To the destruction of the King and Realm.
Yet, in my conscience, sir John Old-castle,
Innocent of it, only his name was used.
We, therefore, from his Highness give this charge:
You, master Mayor, look to your citizens;
You, master Sheriff, unto your shire; and you
As Justices, in every one's precinct,
There be no meetings. When the vulgar sort
Sit on their Ale-bench, with their cups and cans,
Matters of state be not their common talk,
Nor pure religion by their lips profaned.
Let us return unto the Bench again,
And there examine further of this fray.

[Enter a Bailiff and a Servant.]

Sirs, have ye taken the lord Powesse yet?

No, nor heard of him.

No, he's gone far enough.

They that are left behind shall answer all.


ACT I. SCENE II. Eltham. An antechamber in the

[Enter Suffolk, Bishop of Rochester, Butler, parson of

Now, my lord Bishop, take free liberty
To speak your mind: what is your suit to us?

My noble Lord, no more than what you know,
And have been oftentimes invested with:
Grievous complaints have past between the lips
Of envious persons to upbraid the Clergy,
Some carping at the livings which we have,
And others spurning at the ceremonies
That are of ancient custom in the church.
Amongst the which, Lord Cobham is a chief:
What inconvenience may proceed hereof,
Both to the King and to the commonwealth,
May easily be discerned, when like a frenzy
This innovation shall possess their minds.
These upstarts will have followers, to uphold
Their damned opinion, more than Harry shall
To undergo his quarrel gainst the French.

What proof is there against them to be had,
That what you say the law may justify?

They give themselves the name of Protestants,
And meet in fields and solitary groves.

Was ever heard, my Lord, the like til now?
That thieves and rebels--sblood, heretics,
Plain heretics, I'll stand tooth to their teeth--
Should have, to colour their vile practices,
A title of such worth as Protestant?

[Enter one with a letter.]

O, but you must not swear; it ill becomes
One of your coat to rap out bloody oaths.

Pardon him, good my Lord, it is his zeal;
An honest country prelate, who laments
To see such foul disorder in the church.

There's one--they call him Sir John Old-castle--
He has not his name for naught: for like a castle
Doth he encompass them within his walls;
But till that castle be subverted quite,
We ne'er shall be at quiet in the realm.

That is not our suit, my Lord, that he be ta'en,
And brought in question for his heresy.
Beside, two letters brought me out of Wales,
Wherein my Lord Hereford writes to me,
What tumult and sedition was begun,
About the Lord Cobham at the Sises there,
(For they had much ado the calm the rage),
And that the valiant Herbert is there slain.

A fire that must be quenched. Well, say no more,
The King anon goes to the counsel chamber,
There to debate of matters touching France:
As he doth pass by, I'll inform his grace
Concerning your petition: Master Butler,
If I forget, do you remember me.

I will, my Lord.

[Offer him a purse.]

Not for a recompence,
But as a token of our love to you,
By me my Lords of the clergy do present
This purse, and in it full a thousand Angels,
Praying your Lordship to accept their gift.

I thank them, my Lord Bishop, for their love,
But will not take they money; if you please
To give it to this gentleman, you may.

Sir, then we crave your furtherance herein.

The best I can, my Lord of Rochester.

Nay, pray ye take it; trust me but you shall.

--Were ye all thee upon New Market heath,
You should not need strain curtsey who should ha't;
Sir John would quickly rid ye of that care.

The King is coming. Fear ye not, my Lord;
The very first thing I will break with him
Shall be about your matter.

[Enter King Henry and Huntington in talk.]

My Lord of Suffolk,
Was it not said the Clergy did refuse
To lend us money toward our wars in France?

It was, my Lord, but very wrongfully.

I know it was, for Huntington here tells me,
They have been very bountiful of late.

And still they vow, my gracious Lord, to be so,
Hoping your majesty will think of them
As of your loving subjects, and suppress
All such malicious errors as begin
To spot their calling, and disturb the church.

God else forbid: why, Suffolk, is there
Any new rupture to disquiet them?

No new, my Lord; the old is great enough,
And so increasing as, if not cut down,
Will breed a scandal to your royal state,
And set your Kingdom quickly in an uproar.
The Kentish knight, Lord Cobham, in despite
Of any law, or spiritual discipline,
Maintains this upstart new religion still,
And divers great assemblies by his means
And private quarrels are commenced abroad,
As by this letter more at large, my liege,
Is made apparent.

We do find it here:
There was in Wales a certain fray of late,
Between two noblemen, but what of this?
Follows it straight, Lord Cobham must be he
Did cause the same? I dare be sworn, good knight,
He never dreamt of any such contention.

But in his name the quarrel did begin,
About the opinion which he held, my liege.

How if it did? was either he in place,
To take part with them, or abet them in it?
If brabling fellows, whose inkindled blood,
Seethes in their fiery veins, will needs go fight,
Making their quarrels of some words that past
Either of you, or you, amongst their cups,
Is the fault yours, or are they guilty of it?

With pardon of your Highness, my dread lord,
Such little sparks, neglected, may in time
Grow to a might flame: but that's not all;
He doth, beside, maintain a strange religion,
And will not be compelled to come to mass.

We do beseech you, therefore, gracious prince,
Without offence unto your majesty,
We may be bold to use authority.

As how?

To summon him unto the Arches,
Where such offences have their punishment.

To answer personally? is that your meaning?

It is, my lord.

How, if he appeal?

He cannot, my Lord, in such a case as this.

Not where Religion is the plea, my lord.

I took it always, that our self stood out,
As a sufficient refuge, unto whom
Not any but might lawfully appeal.
But we'll not argue now upon that point.
For Sir John Old-castle, whom you accuse,
Let me entreat you to dispence awhile
With your high title of pre-eminence.

[In scorn.]

Report did never yet condemn him so,
But he hath always been reputed loyal:
And in my knowledge I can say thus much,
That he is virtuous, wise, and honourable.
If any way his conscience be seduced,
To waver in his faith, I'll send for him,
And school him privately; if that serve not,
Then afterward you may proceed against him.
Butler, be you the messenger for us,
And will him presently repair to court.


How now, my lord, why stand you discontent?
In sooth, me thinks the King hath well decreed.

Yea, yea, sir John, if he would keep his word;
But I perceive he favours him so much,
As this will be to small effect, I fear.

Why, then, I'll tell you what y'are bets to do:
If you suspect the King will be but cold
In reprehending him, send you a process too
To serve upon him: so you may be sure
To make him answer 't, howsoe'er it fall.

And well remembered! I will have it so.
A Sumner shall be sent about it straight.


Yea, do so. In the mean space this remains
For kind sir John of Wrotham, honest Jack.
Me thinks the purse of gold the Bishop gave
Made a good show; it had a tempting look.
Beshrew me, but my fingers' ends to itch
To be upon those rudduks. Well, tis thus:
I am not as the world does take me for;
If ever wolf were clothed in sheep's coat,
Then I am he,--old huddle and twang, yfaith,
A priest in show, but in plain terms a thief.
Yet, let me tell you too, an honest thief,
One that will take it where it may be spared,
And spend it freely in good fellowship.
I have as many shapes as Proteus had,
That still, when any villainy is done,
There may be none suspect it was sir John.
Besides, to comfort me,--for what's this life,
Except the crabbed bitterness thereof,
Be sweetened now and then with lechery?--
I have my Doll, my concubine, as twere,
To frolic with, a lusty bouncing girl.
But whilst I loiter here, the gold may scape,
And that must not be so. It is mine own;
Therefore, I'll meet him on his way to court,
And shrive him of it: there will be the sport.


ACT I. SCENE III. Kent. An outer court before
lord Cobham's house.

[Enter three or four poor people: some soldiers,
some old men.]

God help! God help! there's law for punishing,
But there's no law for our necessity:
There be more stocks to set poor soldiers in,
Than there be houses to relieve them at.

Faith, housekeeping decays in every place,
Even as Saint Peter writ, still worse and worse.

Master mayor of Rochester has given commandment,
that none shall go abroad out of the parish; and they
have set an order down forsooth, what every poor
householder must give towards our relief: where
there be some ceased, I may say to you, had almost
as much need to beg as we.

It is a hard world the while.

If a poor man come to a door to ask for God's sake,
they ask him for a license, or a certificate from a

Faith we have none but what we bear upon our bodies,
our maimed limbs, God help us.

And yet, as lame as I am, I'll with the king into France,
if I can crawl but a shipboard. I had rather be slain in
France, than starve in England.

Ha, were I but as lusty as I was at the battle of
Shrewbury, I would not do as I do: but we are now
come to the good lord Cobham's, to the best man to
the poor that is in all Kent.

God bless him! there be but few such.

[Enter Lord Cobham with Harpoole.]

Thou peevish, froward man, what wouldst thou have?

This pride, this pride, brings all to beggary.
I served your father, and your grandfather;
Show me such two men now!
No! No! Your backs, your backs, the devil and pride,
Has cut the throat of all good housekeeping.--
They were the best Yeomens' masters,
That ever were in England.

Yea, except thou have a crew of seely knaves
And sturdy rogues still feeding at my gate,
There is no hospitality with thee.

They may sit at the gat well enough, but the devil of
any thing you give them, except they will eat stones.

Tis long, then, of such hungry knaves as you.

[Pointing to the beggars.]

Yea, sir, here's your retinue; your guests be come.
They know their hours, I warrant you.

God bless your honour! God save the good Lord Cobham
And all his house!

Good your honour, bestow your blessed alms
Upon poor men.

Now, sir, here be your Alms knights. Now are you
As safe as the Emperour.

My Alms knights! nay, th' are yours.
It is a shame for you, and I'll stand too 't;
Your foolish alms maintains more vagabonds,
Than all the noblemen in Kent beside.
Out, you rogues, you knaves! work for your livings!--
Alas, poor men! O Lord, they may beg their hearts out,
There's no more charity amongst men than amongst
So many mastiff dogs!--What make you here,
You needy knaves? Away, away, you villains.

I beseech you, sir, be good to us.

Nay, nay, they know thee well enough. I think that all
the beggars in this land are thy acquaintance. Go bestow
your alms; none will control you, sir.

What should I give them? you are grown so beggarly,
you have scarce a bit of bread to give at your door. You
talk of your religion so long, that you have banished
charity from amongst you; a man may make a flax shop
in your kitchen chimneys, for any fire there is stirring.

If thou wilt give them nothing, send them hence: let
them not stand here starving in the cold.

Who! I drive them hence? If I drive poor men from your
door, I'll be hanged; I know not what I may come to my
self. Yea, God help you, poor knaves; ye see the world,
yfaith! Well, you had a mother: well, God be with thee,
good Lady; thy soul's at rest. She gave more in shirts
and smocks to poor children, than you spend in your
house, & yet you live a beggar too.

Even the worst deed that ere my mother did was in
relieving such a fool as thou.

Yea, yea, I am a fool still. With all your wit you will
die a beggar; go too.

Go, you old fool; give the poor people something. Go
in, poor men, into the inner court, and take such alms
as there is to be had.

God bless your honor.

Hang you, rogues, hang you; there's nothing but misery
amongst you; you fear no law, you.


God bless you, good master Rafe, God save your life;
you are good to the poor still.

[Enter the Lord Powis disguised, and shroud himself.]

What fellow's yonder comes along the grove?
Few passengers there be that know this way:
Me thinks he stops as though he stayed for me,
And meant to shroud himself amongst the bushes.
I know the Clergy hate me to the death,
And my religion gets me many foes:
And this may be some desperate rogue, suborned
To work me mischief.--As it pleaseth God!
If he come toward me, sure I'll stay his coming--
Be he but one man--what so'er he be.

[The Lord Powis comes on.]

I have been well acquainted with that face.

Well met, my honorable lord and friend.

You are welcome, sir, what ere you be;
But of this sudden, sir, I do not know you.

I am one that wisheth well unto your honor;
My name is Powis, an old friend of yours.

My honorable lord, and worthy friend,
What makes your lordship thus alone in Kent,
And thus disguised in this strange attire?

My Lord, an unexpected accident
Hath at this time inforc'd me to these parts;
And thus it hapt:--Not yet full five days since,
Now at the last Assize at Hereford,
It chanced that the lord Herbert and my self,
Mongst other things, discoursing at the table,
Did fall in speech about some certain points
Of Wickliffe's doctrine gainst the papacy
And the religion catholique, maintained
Through the most part of Europe at this day.
This wilful teasty lord stuck not to say
That Wickliffe was a knave, a schismatic,
His doctrine devilish and heretical,
And what soe'er he was maintained the same,
Was traitor both to God and to his country.
Being moved at his peremptory speech,
I told him some maintained those opinions,
Men, and truer subjects than lord Herbert was:
And he replying in comparisons,
Your name was urged, my lord, gainst his challenge,
To be a perfect favourer of the truth.
And to be short, from words we fell to blows,
Our servants and our tenants taking parts--
Many on both sides hurt--and for an hour
The broil by no means could be pacified,
Until the Judges, rising from the bench,
Were in their persons forced to part the fray.

I hope no man was violently slain.

Faith, none, I trust, but the lord Herbert's self,
Who is in truth so dangerously hurt,
As it is doubted he can hardly scape.

I am sorry, my good lord, of these ill news.

This is the cause that drives me into Kent,
To shroud my self with you, so good a friend,
Until I hear how things do speed at home.

Your lordship is most welcome unto Cobham;
But I am very sorry, my good lord,
My name was brought in question in this matter,
Considering I have many enemies,
That threaten malice, and do lie in wait
To take advantage of the smallest thing.
But you are welcome: and repose your lordship,
And keep your self here secret in my house,
Until we hear how the lord Herbert speeds.
Here comes my man.

[Enter Harpoole.]

Sirra, what news?

Yonder's one master Butler of the privy chamber,
is sent unto you from the King.

I pray God the lord Herbert be not dead,
And the King, hearing whither I am gone,
Hath sent for me.

Comfort your self my lord, I warrant you.

Fellow, what ails thee? doost thou quake? dost thou
shake? dost thou tremble? ha?

Peace, you old fool! Sirra, convey this gentleman
in the back way, and bring the other into the walk.

Come, sir; you are welcome, if you love my lord.

God have mercy, gentle friend.


I thought as much: that it would not be long,
Before I heard of something from the King
About this matter.

[Enter Harpoole with Master Butler.]

Sir, yonder my lord walks, you see him;
I'll have your men into the Cellar the while.

Welcome, good master Butler.

Thanks, my good lord: his Majesty doth commend
His love unto your lordship,
And wills you to repair unto the court.

God bless his Highness, and confound his enemies!
I hope his Majesty is well.

In health, my lord.

God long continue it! Me thinks you look
As though you were not well: what ails you, sir?

Faith, I have had a foolish odd mischance,
That angers me: coming over Shooters hill,
There came a fellow to me like a Sailor,
And asked me money; and whilst I stayed my horse
To draw my purse, he takes th' advantage of
A little bank and leaps behind me, whips
My purse away, and with a sudden jerk,
I know not how, threw me at least three yards
Out of my saddle. I never was so robbed
In all my life.

I am very sorry, sir, for your mischance. We will send
our warrant forth, to stay such suspicious persons as
shall be found. Then, master Butler, we will attend you.

I humbly thank your lordship, I will attend you.

ACT II. SCENE I. The same.

[Enter the Sumner.]

I have the law to warrant what I do; and though the
Lord Cobham be a noble man, that dispenses not
with law: I dare serve process were a five noble men.
Though we Sumners make sometimes a mad slip in a
corner with a pretty wench, a Sumner must not go always
by seeing: a man may be content to hide his eyes, where
he may feel his profit. Well, this is my Lord Cobham's
house if I can devise to speak with him; if not, I'll clap
my citation upon's door: so my lord of Rochester bid
me. But me thinks here comes one of his men.

[Enter Harpoole.]

Welcome, good fellow, welcome; who wouldst thou
speak with?

With my lord Cobham I would speak, if thou be one of
his men.

Yes, I am one of his men, but thou canst not speak with
my lord.

May I send to him then?

I'll tell thee that, when I know thy errand.

I will not tell my errand to thee.

Then keep it to thy self, and walk like a knave as thou

I tell thee, my lord keeps no knaves, sirra.

Then thou servest him not, I believe: what lord is thy

My lord of Rochester.

In good time! And what wouldst thou have with my
lord Cobham?

I come, by virtue of a process, to ascite him to appear
before my lord in the court at Rochester.

[Aside.] Well, God grant me patience! I could eat this
conger. My lord is not at home; therefore it were good,
Sumner, you carried your process back.

Why, if he will not be spoken withal, then will I leave
it here; and see you that he take knowledge of it.

Swounds, you slave, do you set up your bills here! go to;
take it down again. Doest thou know what thou dost?
Dost thou know on whom thou servest process?

Yes, marry, do I; Sir John Old-castle, Lord Cobham.

I am glad thou knowest him yet: and, sirra, dost not thou
know, that the lord Cobham is a brave lord, that keeps
good beef and beer in his house, and every day feeds a
hundred poor people at's gate, and keeps a hundred tall

What's that to my process?

Marry, this, sir! is this process parchment?

Yes, marry.

And this seal wax?

It is so.

If this be parchment, & this wax, eat you this
parchment and this wax, or I will make parchment
of your skin, and beat your brains into wax: Sirra
Sumner, dispatch; devour, sirra, devour.

I am my lord of Rochester's Sumner; I came to do
my office, and thou shalt answer it.

Sirra, no railing, but betake you to your teeth. Thou
shalt eat no worse than thou bringst with thee: thou
bringst it for my lord, and wilt thou bring my lord
worse than thou wilt eat thy self?

Sirra, I brought it not my lord to eat.

O, do you sir me now? all's one for that: but I'll make
you eat it, for bringing it.

I cannot eat it.

Can you not? sblood I'll beat you until you have a

[He beats him.]

O hold, hold, good master serving-man! I will eat it.

Be champing, be chawing, sir; or I'll chaw you, you
rogue! the purest of the honey! Tough wax is the
purest of the honey.

O Lord, sir! oh! oh!

[He eats.]

Feed, feed! wholesome, rogue, wholesome! Cannot you,
like an honest Sumner, walk with the devil your brother,
to fetch in your Bailiffs' rents, but you must come to a
noble man's house with process? Sblood! if thy seal were
as broad as the lead that covers Rochester church, thou
shouldst eat it.

O, I am almost choked! I am almost choked!

Who's within there? will you shame my Lord? is there
no beer in the house? Butler! I say.

[Enter Butler.]

Here, here.

Give him Beer.

[He drinks.]

There; tough old sheepskin's bare, dry meat.

O sir, let me go no further; I'll eat my word.

Yea, marry, sit! so I mean: you shall eat more than your
own word, for I'll make you eat all the words in the process.
Why, you drab monger, cannot the secrets of all the wenches
in a shire serve your turn, but you must come hither with a
citation? with a pox! I'll cite you. [He has then done.] A
cup of sack for the Sumner.

Here, sir, here.

Here, slave, I drink to thee.

I thank you, sir.

Now if thou findst thy stomach well--because thou shalt
see my Lord keep's meat in's house--if thou wilt go in,
thou shalt have a piece of beef to the break fast.

No, I am very well, good Master serving-man, I thank
you; very well sir.

I am glad on't. Then be walking towards Rochester to keep
your stomach warm; and Sumner, if I may know you disturb
a good wench within this Diocese; if I do not make thee eat
her petticoat, if there were four yards of Kentish cloth in't,
I am a villain.

God be with you, Master serving-man.


Farewell, Sumner.

[Enter Constable.]

God save you Master Harpoole.

Welcome, Constable, welcome, Constable; what news with thee?

And't please you, Master Harpoole, I am to make hue and cry,
for a fellow with one eye that has robbed two Clothiers, and am
to crave your hindrance, for to search all suspected places; and
they say there was a woman in the company.

Hast thou been at the Alehouse? hast thou sought there?

I durst not search, sir, in my Lord Cobham's liberty, except I
had some of his servants, which are for my warrant.

An honest Constable! an honest Constable! Call forth him
that keeps the Alehouse here.

Ho! who's within there?

[Enter Ale-man.]

Who calls there? come near a God's name! Oh, is't you,
Master Constable and Master Harpoole? you are welcome
with all my heart. What make you here so early this morning?

Sirra, what strangers do you lodge? there is a robbery done
this morning, and we are to search for all suspected persons.

God's bores! I am sorry for't: yfaith, sir, I lodge no body but
a good honest merry priest,--they call him sir John a Wrotham--
and a handsome woman that is his niece, that he says he has
some suit in law for; and as they go up & down to London,
sometimes they lie at my house.

What, is he here in thy house now?

She is, sir. I promise you, sir, he is a quiet man; and because
he will not trouble too many rooms, he makes the woman lie
every night at his bed's feet.

Bring her forth! Constable, bring her forth! let's see her, let's
see her.

Dorothy, you must come down to Master Constable.

Anon, forsooth.

[She enters.]

Welcome, sweet lass, welcome.

I thank you, good Master serving-man, and master
Constable also.

A plump girl by the mass, a plump girl! Ha, Doll, ha!
Wilt thou forsake the priest, and go with me?

A! well said, Master Harpoole; you are a merry old man,
yfaith. Yfaith, you will never be old. Now, by the mack,
a pretty wench indeed!

Ye old mad merry Constable, art thou advised of that. Ha,
well said, Doll! fill some ale here.

[Aside.] Oh, if I wist this old priest would not stick to me,
by Jove, I would ingle this old serving-man.

Oh you old mad colt! yfaith, I'll feak you! fill all the pots in
the house there.

Oh, well said, Master Harpoole! you are heart of oak when
all's done.

Ha, Doll, thou hast a sweet pair of lips, by the mass.

Truly you are a most sweet old man, as ever I saw; by my
troth, you have a face, able to make any woman in love with you.

Fill, sweet Doll; I'll drink to thee.

'I pledge you, sir, and thank you therefore,
And I pray you let it come.'

[Embracing her.] Doll, canst thou love me? A mad merry
lass! would to God I had never seen thee!

I warrant you, you will not out of my thoughts this
twelvemonth; truly you are as full of favour, as a man may be.
Ah, these sweet grey locks! by my troth, they are most lovely.

God boores, master Harpoole, I will have one buss too.

No licking for you, Constable! hand off, hand off!

Bur lady, I love kissing as well as you.

Oh, you are an odd boy; you have a wanton eye of your own!
ah, you sweet sugar lipped wanton, you will win as many
women's hearts as come in your company.

[Enter Priest.]

Doll, come hither.

Priest, she shall not.

I'll come anon, sweet love.

Hand off, old fornicator.

Vicar, I'll sit here in spite of thee. Is this fit stuff for a priest to
carry up and down with him?

Ah, sirra, dost thou not know that a good fellow parson may
have a chapel of ease, where his parish Church is far off?

You whoreson stoned Vicar!

You old stale ruffin! you lion of Cotswold!

Swounds, Vicar, I'll geld you!

[Flies upon him.]

Keep the King's peace!

Murder! murder! murder!

Hold! as you are men, hold! for God's sake be quiet! Put up
your weapons; you draw not in my house.

You whoreson bawdy priest!

You old mutton monger!

Hold, sir John, hold!

[To the Priest.] I pray thee, sweet hear, be quiet. I was but
sitting to drink a pot of ale with him, even as kind a man as
ever I met with.

Thou art a thief, I warrant thee.

Then I am but as thou hast been in thy days. Let's not be
ashamed of our trade; the King has been a thief himself.

Come, be quiet. Hast thou sped?

I have, wench: here be crowns, yfaith.

Come, let's be all friends then.

Well said, mistress Dorothy, yfaith.

Thou art the maddest priest that ever I met with.

Give me thy hand, thou art as good a fellow. I am a
singer, a drinker, a bencher, a wencher! I can say a
mass, and kiss a lass! Faith, I have a parsonage, and
because I would not be at too much charges, this wench
serves me for a sexton.

Well said, mad priest, we'll in and be friends.


ACT II. SCENE II. London. A room in the Axe Inn,
without Bishop-gate.

[Enter sir Roger Acton, master Bourne, master Beverly,
and William Murley the brewer of Dunstable.]

Now, master Murley, I am well assured
You know our arrant, and do like the cause,
Being a man affected as we are.

Mary, God dild ye, dainty my dear! no master, good sir
Roger Acton Knight, master Bourne, and master Beverly
esquires, gentlemen, and justices of the peace--no master I,
but plain William Murley, the brewer of Dunstable, your
honest neighbour, and your friend, if ye be men of my

Professed friends to Wickliffe, foes to Rome.

Hold by me, lad; lean upon that staff, good master
Beverly: all of a house. Say your mind, say your mind.

You know our faction now is grown so great,
Throughout the realm, that it begins to smoke
Into the Clergy's eyes, and the King's ear.
High time it is that we were drawn to head,
Our general and officers appointed;
And wars, ye wot, will ask great store of coin.
Able to strength our action with your purse,
You are elected for a colonel
Over a regiment of fifteen bands.

Fue, paltry, paltry! in and out, to and fro! be it more or
less, upon occasion. Lord have mercy upon us, what a
world is this! Sir Roger Acton, I am but a Dunstable
man, a plain brewer, ye know: will lusty Cavaliering
captains, gentlemen, come at my calling, go at my
bidding? Dainty my dear, they'll do a god of wax, a
horse or cheese, a prick and a pudding. No, no, ye
must appoint some lord, or knight at least, to that place.

Why, master Murley, you shall be a Knight:
Were you not in election to be shrieve?
Have ye not past all offices but that?
Have ye not wealth to make your wife a lady?
I warrant you, my lord, our General
Bestows that honor on you at first sight.

Mary, God dild ye, dainty my dear!
But tell me, who shall be our General?
Where's the lord Cobham, sir John Old-castle,
That noble alms-giver, housekeeper, virtuous,
Religious gentleman? Come to me there, boys,
Come to me there!

Why, who but he shall be our General?

And shall he knight me, and make me colonel?

My word for that: sir William Murley, knight.

Fellow sir Roger Acton, knight, all fellows--I mean
in arms--how strong are we? how many partners? Our
enemies beside the King are might: be it more or less
upon occasion, reckon our force.

There are of us, our friends, and followers,
Three thousand and three hundred at the least;
Of northern lads four thousand, beside horse;
>From Kent there comes with sir John Old-castle
Seven thousand; then from London issue out,
Of masters, servants, strangers, prentices,
Forty odd thousands into Ficket field,
Where we appoint our special rendezvous.

Fue, paltry, paltry, in and out, to and fro! Lord have
mercy upon us, what a world is this! Where's that
Ficket field, sir Roger?

Behind saint Giles in the field near Holborne.

Newgate, up Holborne, S. Giles in the field, and to
Tiborne: an old saw. For the day, for the day?

On Friday next, the fourteenth day of January.

Tyllie vallie, trust me never if I have any liking of that
day! fue, paltry, paltry! Friday, quoth a! Dismal day!
Childermass day this year was Friday.

Nay, master Murley, if you observe the days,
We make some question of your constancy.
All days are like to men resolved in right.

Say Amen, and say no more; but say, and hold,
master Beverly: Friday next, and Ficket field,
and William Murley, and his merry men shall be
all one. I have half a score jades that draw my
beer carts,
And every jade shall bear a knave,
And every knave shall wear a jack,
And every jack shall have a skull,
And every skull shall shew a spear,
And every spear shall kill a foe
At Ficket field, at Ficket field.
John and Tom, and Dick and Hodge,
And Rafe and Robin, William & George,
And all my knaves shall fight like men,
At Ficket field on Friday next.

What sum of money mean you to disburse?

It may be modestly, decently, soberly, and handsomely
I may bring five hundred pound.

Five hundred, man! five thousand's not enough!
A hundred thousand will not pay our men
Two months together. Either come prepared
Like a brave Knight, and martial Colonel,
In glittering gold, and gallant furniture,
Bringing in coin a cart load at he least,
And all your followers mounted on good horse,
Or never come disgraceful to us all.

Perchance you may be chosen Treasurer.
Ten thousand pound's the least that you can bring.

Paltry, paltry! in and out, to and fro, upon occasion I
have ten thousand pound to spend, and ten too. And
rather than the Bishop shall have his will of me for my
conscience, it shall out all. Flame and flax, flame and
flax! it was got with water and malt, and it shall fly
with fire and gun powder. Sir Roger, a cart load of
money till the axetree crack, my self and my men in
Ficket field on Friday next: remember my Knighthood,
and my place. There's my hand; I'll be there.


See what Ambition may persuade men to,
In hope of honor he will spend himself.

I never thought a Brewer half so rich.

Was never bankerout Brewer yet but one,
With using too much malt, too little water.

That's no fault in Brewers now-adays.
Come, away, about our business.


ACT II. SCENE III. An audience-chamber in the
palace at Eltham.

[Enter King Henry, Suffolk, Butler, and Old-castle
kneeling to the King.]

Tis not enough, Lord Cobham, to submit;
You must forsake your gross opinion.
The Bishops find themselves much injured,
And though, for some good service you have done,
We for our part are pleased to pardon you,
Yet they will not so soon be satisfied.

My gracious Lord, unto your Majesty,
Next unto my God, I owe my life:
And what is mine, either by nature's gift,
Or fortune's bounty, all is at your service.
But, for obedience to the Pope of Rome,
I owe him none, nor shall his shaveling priests
That are in England alter my belief.
If out of holy Scripture they can prove,
That I am in an error I will yield,
And gladly take instruction at their hands;
But otherwise, I do beseech your grace,
My conscience may not be encroached upon.

We would be loath to press our subjects' bodies,
Much less their souls, the dear redeemed part
Of him that is the ruler of us all;
Yet let me counsel ye, that might command:
Do not presume to tempt them with ill words,
Nor suffer any meetings to be had
Within your house, but to the uttermost,
Disperse the flocks of this new gathering sect.

My liege, if any breathe, that dares come forth,
And say my life in any of these points
Deserves th'attaindor of ignoble thoughts,
Here stand I, craving no remorse at all,
But even the utmost rigor may be shown.

Let it suffice; we know your loyalty.
What have you there?

A deed of clemency;
Your Highness' pardon for Lord Powis' life,
Which I did beg, and you, my noble Lord,
Of gracious favour did vouchsafe to grant.

But yet it is not signed with our hand.

Not yet, my Liege.

[One ready with pen and ink.]

The fact, you say, was done,
Not of prepensed malice, but by chance.

Upon mine honor so, no otherwise.

There is his pardon; bid him make amends,


And cleanse his soul to God for his offence.
What we remit, is but the body's scourge--

[Enter Bishop.]

How now, Lord Bishop?

Justice, dread Sovereign!
As thou art King, so grant I may have justice.

What means this exclamation? let us know.

Ah, my good Lord, the state's abused,
And our decrees most shamefully profaned.

How? or by whom?

Even by this heretic,
This Jew, this Traitor to your majesty.

Prelate, thou liest, even in thy greasy maw,
Or whosoever twits me with the name
Of either traitor, or of heretic.

Forbear, I say: and, Bishop, shew the cause
>From whence this late abuse hath been derived.

Thus, mighty King:--By general consent,
A messenger was sent to cite this Lord,
To make appearance in the consistory;
And coming to his house, a ruffian slave,
One of his daily followers, met the man,
Who, knowing him to be a parroter,
Assaults him first and after, in contempt
Of us and our proceedings, makes him cate
The written process, parchment, scale and all:
Whereby his master neither was brought forth,
Nor we but scorned for our authority.

When was this done?

At six a clock this morning.

And when came you to court?

Last night, my Lord.

By this it seems, he is not guilty of it,
And you have done him wrong t'accuse him so.

But it was done, my lord, by his appointment,
Or else his man durst ne'er have been so bold.

Or else you durst be bold to interrupt,
And fill our ears with frivolous complaints.
Is this the duty you do bear to us?
Was't not sufficient we did pass our word
To send for him, but you, misdoubting it,
Or--which is worse--intending to forestall
Our regal power, must likewise summon him?
This savors of Ambition, not of zeal,
And rather proves you malice his estate,
Than any way that he offends the law.
Go to, we like it not; and he your officer,
That was employed so much amiss herein,
Had his desert for being insolent.

[Enter Huntington.]

So, Cobham, when you please you may depart.

I humbly bid farewell unto my liege.


Farewell.--What's the news by Huntington?

Sir Roger Acton and a crew, my Lord,
Of bold seditious rebels are in Arms,
Intending reformation of Religion.
And with their Army they intend to pitch
In Ficket field, unless they be repulsed.

So near our presence? Dare they be so bold?
And will proud war, and eager thirst of blood,
Whom we had thought to entertain far off,
Press forth upon us in our native bounds?
Must we be forced to hansell our sharp blades
In England here, which we prepared for France?
Well, a God's name be it! What's their number, say,
Or who's the chief commander of this rout?

Their number is not known, as yet, my Lord,
But tis reported Sir John Old-castle
Is the chief man on whom they do depend.

How, the Lord Cobham?

Yes, my gracious Lord.

I could have told your majesty as much
Before he went, but that I saw your Grace
Was too much blinded by his flattery.

Send post, my Lord, to fetch him back again.

Traitor unto his country, how he smoothed,
And seemed as innocent as Truth it self!

I cannot think it yet he would be false;
But if he be, no matter; let him go.
We'll meet both him and them unto their woe.

[Exeunt all but Bishop.]

This falls out well, and at the last I hope
To see this heretic die in a rope.

ACT III. SCENE I. An avenue leading to lord
Cobham's house in Kent.

[Enter Earl of Cambridge, Lord Scroop, Gray, and
Chartres the French factor.]

Once more, my Lord of Cambridge, make rehearsal,
How you do stand entitled to the Crown.
The deeper shall we print it in our minds,
And every man the better be resolved,
When he perceives his quarrel to be just.

Then thus, Lord Scroop, sir Thomas Gray, & you,
Monsieur de Chartres, agent for the French:--
This Lionel, Duke of Clarence, as I said,
Third son of Edward (England's King) the third,
Had issue Phillip, his sole daughter and heir;
Which Phillip afterward was given in marriage
To Edmund Mortimer, the Earl of March,
And by him had a son called Roger Mortimer;
Which Roger, likewise, had of his descent
Edmund, Roger, Anne, and Eleanor--
Two daughters and two sons--but those three
Died without issue. Anne, that did survive,
And now was left her father's only heir,
My fortune was to marry, being too
By my grandfather of Kind Edward's line:
So of his sirname, I am called, you know,
Richard Plantagenet. My father was
Edward, the Duke of York, and son and heir
To Edmund Langley, Edward the third's fifth son.

So that it seems your claim comes by your wife,
As lawful heir to Roger Mortimer,
The son of Edmund, which did marry Phillip,
Daughter and heir to Lionel, Duke of Clarence.

True, for this Harry and his father both,
Harry the first, as plainly doth appear,
Are false intruders and usurp the Crown.
For when young Richard was at Pomfret slain,
In him the title of prince Edward died,
That was the eldest of king Edward's sons:
William, of Hatfield, and their second brother,
Death in his nonage had before bereft:
So that my wife, derived from Lionel,
Third son unto king Edward, ought proceed,
And take possession of the Diadem
Before this Harry, or his father king,
Who fetched their title but from Lancaster,
Forth of that royal line. And being thus,
What reason ist but she should have her right?

I am resolved our enterprise is just.

Harry shall die, or else resign his crown.

Perform but that, and Charles, the king of France,
Shall aid you, lords, not only with his men,
But send you money to maintain your wars.
Five hundred thousand crowns he bade me profer,
If you can stop but Harry's voyage for France.

We never had a fitter time than now,
The realm in such division as it is.

Besides, you must persuade ye, there is due
Vengeance for Richard's murder, which, although
It be deferred, yet will it fall at last,
And now as likely as another time.
Sin hath had many years to ripen in,
And now the harvest cannot be far off,
Wherein the weeds of usurpation
Are to be cropped, and cast into the fire.

No more, earl Cambridge; here I plight my faith,
To set up thee and thy renowned wife.

Gray will perform the same, as he is knight.

And to assist ye, as I said before,
Charters doth gage the honor of his king.

We lack but now Lord Cobham's fellowship,
And then our plot were absolute indeed.

Doubt not of him, my lord; his life's pursued
By the incensed Clergy, and of late,
Brought in displeasure with the king, assures
He may be quickly won unto our faction.
Who hath the articles were drawn at large
Of our whole purpose?

That have I, my Lord.

We should not now be far off from his house;
Our serious conference hath beguiled the way.
See where his castle stands. Give me the writing.
When we are come unto the speech of him,
Because we will not stand to make recount,
Of that which hath been said, here he shall read

[Enter Cobham.]

Our minds at large, and what we crave of him.

A ready way. Here comes the man himself,
Booted and spurred; it seems he hath been riding.

Well met, lord Cobham.

My lord of Cambridge?
Your honor is most welcome into Kent,
And all the rest of this fair company.
I am new come from London, gentle Lords;
But will ye not take Cowling for your host,
And see what entertainment it affords?

We were intended to have been your guests:
But now this lucky meeting shall suffice
To end our business, and defer that kindness.

Business, my lord? what business should you have
But to be merry? We have no delicates,
But this I'll promise you: a piece of venison,
A cup of wine, and so forth--hunters' fare;
And if you please, we'll strike the stag our selves
Shall fill our dishes with his well-fed flesh.

That is, indeed, the thing we all desire.

My lords and you shall have your choice with me.

Nay, but the stag which we desire to strike
Lives not in Cowling; if you will consent,
And go with us, we'll bring you to a forest,
Where runs a lusty herd; amongst the which
There is a stag superior to the rest,
A stately beast that, when his fellows run,
He leads the race, and beats the sullen earth,
As though he scorned it, with his trampling hooves.
Aloft he bears his head, and with his breast,
Like a huge bulwark, counter-checks the wind:
And when he standeth still, he stretcheth forth
His proud ambitious neck, as if he meant
To wound the firmament with forked horns.

Tis pity such a goodly beast should die.

Not so, sir John, for he is tyrannous,
And gores the other deer, and will not keep


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