George Colman.

The Battle of Hexham; online

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Mr. Colman acquaints his readers, in his Preface to this play, dated
1808, that it was written near twenty years ago: then, stating, as an
apology to his jocose accusers, this reason for having made Shakespeare
the model for his dialogue - that plays, which exhibit incidents of
former ages, should have the language of the characters conform to
their dress - he adds - "To copy Shakspeare, in the general _tournure_ of
his phraseology, is a mechanical task, which may be accomplished with
a common share of industry and observation: - and this I have attempted
(for the reason assigned); endeavouring, at the same time, to avoid a
servile quaintness, which would disgust. To aspire to a resemblance of
his boundless powers, would have been the labour of a coxcomb; - and had
I been vain enough to have essayed it, I should have placed myself in a
situation similar to that of the strolling actor, who advertised his
performance of a part" - "In imitation of the inimitable Garrick."

"The Battle of Hexham" has been one of the author's most popular works;
and has, perhaps, to charge its present loss of influence with the
public, to those historical events of modern times, which have steeled
the heart against all minor scenes of woe, and deprived of their
wonted interest the sorrows of Queen Margaret and her child.

There is a short, but well known narrative, written by one Clery,
an humble valet de chambre - which, for pathetic claims, in behalf of
suffering majesty and infant royalty, may bid defiance to all that
history has before recorded, or poets feigned, to melt the soul to

Nor can anxiety be now awakened in consequence of a past battle at
Hexham, between a few thousand men, merely disputing which of two
cousins should be their king, when, at this present period, hundreds
of thousands yearly combat and die, in a cause of far less doubtful

The loyal speeches of Gondibert, in this play, his zeal in the cause of
his sovereign, every reader will admire - yet one difficulty occurs to
abate this admiration - Did Gondibert know who his sovereign _was_? This
question seems to be involved in that same degree of darkness, in which
half the destructive battles which ever took place have been fought.

The adverse parties at Hexham had each a sovereign. Edward the Fourth
was the lawful king of the York adherents, as Henry the Sixth was of
those of Lancaster; and Edward had at least birthright on his side,
being the lineal descendant of the elder brother of Henry the Fourth,
and, as such, next heir to Richard the Second, setting aside the
usurper. - But, possibly, the degraded state of Henry the Sixth was
the strongest tie, which bound this valiant soldier to his supposed
allegiance; - for there are politicians so compassionate towards the
afflicted, or so envious of the prosperous, they will not cordially
acknowledge a monarch until he is dethroned. - Even the people of
England never would allow the Bourbon family to be the lawful kings
of France, till within these last fifteen years[1].

The youthful reader will delight in the conjugal ardour of Adeline;
whilst the prudent matron will conceive - that, had she loved her
blooming offspring, as she professes, it had been better to have
remained at home for their protection, than to have wandered in camps
and forests, dressed in vile disguise, solely for the joy of seeing
their father. - But prudence is a virtue, which would destroy the best
heroine that ever was invented. A mediocrity of discretion even,
dispersed among certain characters of a drama, might cast a gloom over
the whole fable, divest every incident of its power to surprise, take
all point from the catastrophe, and, finally, draw upon the entire
composition, the just sentence of condemnation.

[Footnote 1: It was since the French Revolution that the crown of
England relinquished its title and claim to the kingdom of France.]


A NOBLEMAN _Mr. Iliffe._
LA VARENNE _Mr. Williamson._
PRINCE OF WALES _Miss Gaudry._
GONDIBERT _Mr. Bannister, jun._
BARTON _Mr. Aickin._
FOOL _Mr. R. Palmer._
CORPORAL _Mr. Baddeley._
DRUMMER _Mr. Moss._
FIFER _Mr. Barret._
FIRST ROBBER _Mr. Bannister, sen._
SECOND DITTO _Mr. Davies._
THIRD DITTO _Mr. Chapman._
OTHER ROBBERS _Mr. Mathews_, _Mr. Chambers_, _&c._
SECOND DITTO _Mr. Painter._
SECOND DITTO _Mrs. Iliffe._
MARGARET _Mrs. S. Kemble._
ADELINE _Mrs. Goodall._


_SCENE - Northumberland._


* * * * *



_An open Country, near Hexham, in Northumberland; with a distant
View of HENRY THE SIXTH'S Camp. Time Day-break._

_Enter ADELINE, in Man's Habit and Accoutrements._

_Adeline._ Heigho! Six dark and weary miles, and not yet at the camp.
How tediously affliction paces! - Come, Gregory! come on. Why, how you
lag behind! - Poor simple soul! what cares has he to weigh him down? Oh,
yes, - he has served me from my cradle; and his plain honest heart feels
for his mistress's fallen fortunes, and is heavy. - Come, my good
fellow, come!

_Enter GREGORY._

_Gregory._ Mercy on us, how my poor legs do ache!

_Adeline._ What, with only six miles this morning? - Fie!

_Gregory._ Six! - sixteen, if we've gone an inch; my feet are cut
to pieces. A man may as well do penance, with pease in his shoes,
as trudge over these confounded roads in Northumberland. I used to
wonder, when we were at home, in the south, where it is as smooth as
a bowling-green, what the labourers did with all the loose stones they
carried off the highways; but now, I find, they come and shoot their
rubbish in the northern counties. I wish we had never come into them,
with all my heart!

_Adeline._ Then, you are weary of my service - you wish you had not
followed me.

_Gregory._ Who I? Heaven forbid! - I'd follow you to the end of the
world: - nay, for that matter, I believe I shall follow you there; for
I have tramped after you a deuced long way, without knowing where we
are going. But I'd live, ay, and die for you too.

_Adeline._ Well, well; we must to the wars, my good fellow.

_Gregory._ The wars! O lud! that's taking me at my word with a
vengeance! I never could abide fighting - there's something so plaguy
quarrelsome in it.

_Adeline._ Then you had best return. We now, Gregory, are approaching
King Henry's camp.

_Gregory._ Are we? Oh dear, oh dear! Pray, then, let us wheel about as
fast as we can.

_Adeline._ Don't you observe the light breaking through the tents

_Gregory._ Mercy on me! they are tents, sure enough! Come, madam, let's
be going, if you please.

_Adeline._ Why, whither should I go, poor simpleton? My home is
wretchedness. The wars I seek have made it so; they have robbed me of
my husband; comfort now is lost to me. Oh! Gondibert, too faithful to
a weak cause, our ruin is involved with our betters!

_Gregory._ Oh, rot the cause, say I! Plague on the House of Lancaster!
it has been many a noble gentleman's undoing. The white and red roses
have caused more eyes to water in England, than if we had planted
the whole island with onions. Such a coil kept up with their two
houses! - one's so old and t'other's so old! - they ought both to be
pulled down, for a couple of nuisances to the nation.

_Adeline._ Peace! peace, man! - half such a word, spoken at random,
might cost your life. The times, Gregory, are dangerous.

_Gregory._ Very true, indeed, madam. Death has no modesty in him
now-a-days; he stares every body full in the face. I wish we had kept
quiet at home, out of his way. Who knows but my master, Lord Gondibert,
might have returned to us, unexpectedly; I'm sure he left us
unexpectedly enough; for the deuce a bit of any notice did he give us
of his going.

_Adeline._ Ay, Gregory; was it not unkind? And yet I will not call him
so - the times are cruel - not my husband. - His affection had too much
thought in it to change. His regular love, corrected by the steady
vigour of his mind, knew not the turbulence of boyish raptures; but,
like a sober river in its banks, flowed with a sweet and equal current.
Oh! it was such a placid stream of tenderness! - How long is it since
your master left us, Gregory?

_Gregory._ Six months come to-morrow, madam. I caught a violent cold
the very same day: it has settled in my eyes, I believe, for they have
been troublesome to me ever since. Ah! I shall never forget that morning;
when the spies of the House of York, that's got upon the throne,
surrounded him for being an old friend to the Lancasters. Egad, he laid
about him like a lion! - Out whips his broad-sword; whack he comes me
one over the sconce; pat he goes me another on the cheek; and, after
putting them all out of breath, about he wheels his horse, and we have
never seen nor heard of him since.

_Adeline._ And, from that day to this, I have in vain cherished hopes
of his return. - Fearful, no doubt, of being surprised, he keeps
concealed. - Thus is he torn from me - torn from his children - poor
tender blossoms! too weak to be exposed to the rude tempest of the
times, and leaves their innocence unsheltered!

_Gregory._ Yes, and mine among the rest. But what is it you mean to
do, madam?

_Adeline._ To seek him in the camp. The Lancasters again are making
head, here, in the north. If he have had an opportunity of joining
them, 'tis more than probable he is in their army. Thither will
we; - and for this purpose have I doff'd my woman's habit; leaving my
house to the care of a trusty friend: and, thus accoutred, have led
you, Gregory, the faithful follower of my sorrows, a weary journey half
over England.

_Gregory._ Weary! oh dear, no - not at all - I could turn about again
directly, and walk back, brisker by half than I came.

_Adeline._ What, man, afraid! Come, come; we run but little risk.
Example, too, will animate us. The very air of the camp, Gregory, will
brace your courage to the true pitch.

_Gregory._ That may be, madam; and yet, for a bracing air, people are
apt to die in it, sooner than in any other place.

_Adeline._ Pshaw! pr'ythee, man, put but a confident look on the
matter, and we shall do, I warrant. A bluff and blustering outside
often conceals a chicken heart. Mine aches, I am sure! but I will hide
my grief under the veil of airy carelessness. - Down, sorrow! I'll be
all bustle, like the occasion. Come, Gregory! Mark your mistress, man,
and learn: see how she'll play the pert young soldier.


_The mincing step, the woman's air,_
_The tender sigh, the soften'd note,_
_Poor Adeline must now forswear,_
_Nor think upon the petticoat._

_Since love has led me to the field,_
_The soldier's phrase I'll learn by rote;_
_I'll talk of drums, of sword and shield,_
_And quite forget my petticoat._

_When the loud cannon's roar I hear,_
_And trumpets bray with brazen throat,_
_With blust'ring, then, I'll hide my fear,_
_Lest I betray my petticoat._

_But ah! how slight the terrors past,_
_If he on whom I fondly dote,_
_Is to my arms restored at last; - _
_Then - give me back my petticoat!_


_Gregory._ Well, if I must go, I must. I cannot help following my poor
Lady Adeline - affection has led many a bolder man by the nose than I.
I wonder, though, how your bold fellows find themselves just before
they're going to fight. I wonder if they have any uncomfortable sort
of sticking in the throat, and a queer kind of a cold tickling feel in
some part of the flesh. Ah! Gregory, Gregory Gubbins! your peaceable
qualities will never do for a camp. I never could bear gunpowder, since
I got fuddled at the fair, and the boys tied crackers, under Dobbin's
tail, in the Market Place.


_What's a valiant Hero?_
_Beat the drum,_
_And he'll come: - _
_Row de dow dero!_

_Nothing does he fear, O!_
_Risks his life,_
_While the fife - _
_Twittle, twittle twero - _
_Row de dow de dow,_
_Twittle, twittle twero._

_Havock splits his ear, O!_
_Groans abound,_
_Trumpets sound,_
_Ran tan tan ta tero - _
_Twittle, twittle twero._

_Then the scars he'll bear, O!_
_Muskets roar,_
_Small shot pour - _
_Rat tat tat to tero - _
_Pop, pop, pop,_
_Twittle, twittle twero._

_What brings up the rear, O?_
_In comes Death;_
_Stops his breath; - _
_Good bye, valiant Hero! - _
_Twittle twittle, rat a tat,_
_Pop, pop, pop, row de dow, &c. &c._ [Exit.


HENRY THE SIXTH'S _Camp, at Hexham._

_Enter a DRUMMER and a FIFER._

_Drum._ Morrow to you, Master Tooting - a merry day-breaking to your

_Fifer._ A sad head-breaking, I fancy. Plaguy troublesome times,
brother! Buffetted, by the opposite party, out of one place, and now
waiting till they come to buffet us out of another. Whenever they do
come, let me tell you, a man will scarce have time to get up from his
straw bed, before he's laid down again by a long shot of the enemy. We
shall be popp'd at like a parcel of partridges, rising from stubble.

_Drum._ Pshaw! plague, what signifies taking matters to heart? Luck's
all. War's a chance, you know. If one day's bad, another's better.
What matters an odd drubbing, or so? A soldier should never grumble.

_Fifer._ Why, zouns! flesh and blood, nor any thing that belongs to a
camp, can't help it. Do, now, only give your drum a good beating, and
mind what a damn'd noise it will make. - Not grumble, when we take so
many hard knocks?

_Drum._ No, to be sure; else how should we be able to return them?

_Fifer._ Ay, there stands the case; we never can return them. Others
can have a blow, and give a blow; but as for me, and yourself, and Kit
Crackcheeks, the trumpeter; 'sbud, they may thump us from morning to
night, and all the revenge we have, is - Toot-a-too, rub-a-dub, and

_Drum._ O fie! learn to know our consequence better, brother, I beseech
you. My word for it, we are the heros that do all the execution. Who
but we keep up the vigour of an engagement, and the courage of the
soldiers? Fear, brother, is, for all the world, like your bite of a
tarantula; there's no conquering its effects without music. We are of
as much consequence to an army, as wind to a windmill: the wings can't
be put in motion without us.

_Fifer._ Marry, that's true: and if two armies ever meet without coming
to blows, nothing but our absence can be the occasion of it. The only
way to restore harmony is, to take away our music.


_Soldier._ Come along, my boys; now for the news!

_Corp._ Silence!

_Soldiers._ Ay, ay - Silence.

_Corp._ Hold your peace, there, and listen to what I'm going to inform
you - Hem! - Who am I?

_All Soldiers._ Our corporal! Alick Puff; - our corporal.

_Corp._ O ho! am I so? - then obey orders, you riotous rascals, and keep
your tongues between the few teeth the civil war has been civil enough
to leave you. What! is it for a parcel of pitiful privates to gabble
before their superior officer! know yourselves for a set of ignorant
boobies, as you are - and do not forget that I am at the head of you.

_Drum._ But, pr'ythee, good Master Corporal, what news?

_Corp._ Ay, there it is; good Master Corporal, and sweet Master Corporal,
the news? who is to tell you, but I? and what do I ever get by it?

_Fifer._ Come, come, you shall have our thanks with all our hearts; - we
promise you that.

_Soldier._ Ay, ay, that you shall - now for it!

_Corp._ Then! - You remember your promise?

_All Soldiers._ Yes, yes, we do.

_Corp._ Why, then, you'll all have your throats cut before to-morrow

_All._ How!

_Drum._ Pshaw! it can't be!

_Corp._ See there, now! just as I expected. - After all I have imparted,
merely for your pleasure and satisfaction, not a man among you has the
gratitude to say, thank you, Corporal, for your kind information.

_Drum._ But, is the enemy at hand?

_Corp._ No matter, Mum! only when the business is over with you, and
you are all stiff in the field, do me the credit to say, afterwards, I
was the first that told you it would happen. I, Alexander Puff, corporal
to King Henry the Sixth, (Heaven bless him!) in his majesty's camp, at
Hexham, in Northumberland.

_Fifer._ Well, though they do muster strong, we may make Edward's party
skip for all that; if we have but justice on our side.

_Corp._ Well said, Master Wiseacre! - Justice! No, no! Might overcomes
right, now a days. Bully Rebellion has almost frightened Justice out of
her wits; and, when she ventures to weigh causes, her hand trembles so
confoundedly, that half the merits tumble out of the scale.

_Fifer._ But, still, I say - -

_Corp._ Say no more - but take care of yourself in the battle - that's
all. - 'Sblood! if the enemy were to find your little, dry, taper
carcase, pink'd full of round holes, they'd mistake you for your own
fife. But, remember this, my lads. Edward of York has again shoved King
Henry from his possessions, and squatted his own usurping, beggarly
gallygaskins, in the clean seat of sovereignty; and here are we brave
fellows, at Hexham, come to place him on the stool of repentance. And
there's our king at the head of us - and there's his noble consort, the
sword and buckler, Queen Margaret - and there's the Lord Seneschal of
Normandy - and the Lord Duke of Somerset - and the Lord knows who! - The
enemy is at hand, with a thumping power; so up, courage, and to
loggerheads we go for it. - Huzza! for the Red Roses, and the House
of Lancaster.

_All._ Huzza! huzza! huzza!


_My tight fellow soldiers, prepare for your foes;_
_Fight away, for the cause of the jolly Red Rose;_
_Never flinch while you live; should you meet with your death,_
_There's no fear that you'll run - you'll be quite out of breath._
_Then be true to your colours, the Lancasters chose,_
_And the laurel entwine with the jolly Red Rose._

Chorus. _Then be true, &c._

_He who follows for honour the drum and the fife,_
_May perhaps have the luck to get honour for life;_
_And he who, for money, makes fighting his trade,_
_Let him now face the foe, he'll be handsomely paid._

_Then be true, &c._

_The fight fairly done, my brave boys of the blade,_
_How we'll talk, o'er our cups, of the havock we've made!_
_How we'll talk, if we once kill a captain or two,_
_Of a hundred more fellows, that nobody knew._
_Then my tight fellow soldiers prepare for your foes._
_And the laurel entwine with the jolly Red Rose._



_Outside of the Royal Tent._

_Enter FOOL._

_Fool._ Queen Margaret has sheltered me from the peltings of fortune,
this many a year. Now the pelting has damaged my shelter; but still I
stick to it. More simpleton I! - to stand, like a thin-clad booby, in
a hard shower, under an unroofed penthouse. Truly, for a fool of my
experience, I have but little wisdom: and yet a camp suits well with
my humour; take away the fighting - the sleeping in a field - the bad
fare - the long marches, and the short pay - and a soldier's is a rare
merry life. - Here come two more musterers - troth we have need of
them - for, considering the goodness of the cause, they drop in as
sparingly as mites into a poor's box.


_Adeline._ Tremble not now, Gregory, for your life!

_Gregory._ Lord, madam, that is the only thing I do tremble for: if I
had as many lives as a cat, I must borrow a tenth, I fancy, to carry me
out of this place.

_Adeline._ Pooh! pr'ythee - we are here among friends. Did you not mark
the courtesy of the centinels; who, upon signifying our intentions, bid
us pass on, till we should find a leader, to whom we might tender our

_Gregory._ Ah! and there he is, I suppose. [_Pointing to the FOOL._]
Mercy on us! he's a terrible looking fellow - his coat has been so pepper'd
with musket shot in the wars, that 'tis patch'd from the very top to the

_Adeline._ Tut, tut, man! your fears have made you blind; this motley
gentleman's occupation has nothing terrible in it, I'll answer for
it - we will accost him. How now, fellow?

_Fool._ How now, fool?

_Adeline._ What, sirrah? call you me fool?

_Fool._ 'Faith may I, sir; when you call me fellow. Hail to you, sir,
you are very well met. Nay you need not be ashamed of me for a companion;
simple though I seem, we fools come of a great family, with a number of
rich relations.

_Adeline._ Why do you follow the camp, fool?

_Fool._ For the same reason that a blind beggar follows his dog; - though
it may lead me where my neck may be broke, I can't get on in the world
without it. You, sir, I take it, are come, like me, to shoot your bolt
at the enemy?

_Adeline._ I come, partly, indeed, among other purposes, to offer my
weak aid to the army.

_Fool._ Your weakness, sir, acts marvellously wisely: you'll be the
clean-shaved Nestor of the regiment.

_Adeline._ If I could find your leader, I would vouch, too, for the
integrity of this my follower, to be received into the ranks.

_Gregory._ Oh no, you need not put yourself to the trouble of vouching
for me.

_Fool._ Right; for your knave, when great folks have occasion for him,
is received with little inquiry into his character. Marry, let an
honest man lack their assistance, and starving stares him in the face,
for want of a recommendation.

_Adeline._ Lead us to your General, and you shall be well remember'd by

_Fool._ Why, as to a General, I can stand you in little stead; but if
such a simple thing as a Queen can content you, I am your only man: for
being a proper fellow, and a huge tickler up of a lady's fancy, I may
chance to push your fortune as far as another. Truly, you fell into
good hands when you stumbled on me. [_Flourish._] Stand back, here
comes royalty.

NORMANDY, with KNIGHTS and SOLDIERS, from the Tent._

_Som._ Here, if it please you, madam, we'll debate.
Our tented councils but disturb the King,
And break his pious meditations.

_Marg._ True, Duke of Somerset; for some there are
Who, idly stretch'd upon the bank of life,
Sleep till the stream runs dry. - Is't not vexatious,
That frolic nature, as it were, in mockery,
Should in the rough, and lusty mould of manhood,
Encrust a feeble mind! - Well, upon me
Must rest the load of war. - Assist me, then,
Ye powers of just revenge! fix deep the memory
Of injured majesty! heat my glowing fancy
With all the glittering pride of high dominion;
That, when we meet the traitors who usurp it,
My breast shall swell with manly indignation,
And spur me on to enterprise.

_La Var._ Oh! happy
The knight who wields his sword for such a mistress.
I cannot but be proud! When late, in Normandy,
Your grace demanded succour of my countrymen,
And beauty in distress shone like the sun
Piercing a summer's cloud - then - then was I
The honour'd cavalier a royal lady

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Online LibraryGeorge ColmanThe Battle of Hexham; → online text (page 1 of 4)