A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Volume 8 online

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

PRIOR. What meant the villains?

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

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

_Enter another_ SERVANT.

PRIOR. What are your tidings?

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

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

_Enter a_ HERALD.

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

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


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

[_Exeunt cum_ PRIOR.

_Enter_ LEICESTER, _drum and ancient_.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHES. Undone by riot.

LEI. Ah! the greater ruth.

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

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

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

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

JOHN. Leicester, so?
Did he all this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHES. Pale death and vengeance dwell within his jaws.

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

JOHN. Do, if you can.

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

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

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

SAL. Dare subjects dare, their sovereign being by?

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

QUEEN. Leicester, he is.

LEI. Madam, by God, you lie.

CHES. Unmanner'd man.

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

JOHN. What drums are these?

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

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

_Enter_ RICHMOND, _Soldiers_.

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

JOHN. Richmond is yonder.

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

CHES. Now heaven forfend!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

JOHN. Mother, stay you.

QUEEN. Not I, son, by Saint Anne.

JOHN. Will you not stay?

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

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

_Enter again_ LEICESTER _and_ RICHMOND.[224]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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




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

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

FRIAR. And would ye have me be no liar?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ELY. I dwell in Oxon, sir.

SCAR. I know the town.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[_Exit_ SCAR.

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

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

_Enter_ ROBIN HOOD _and_ LITTLE JOHN.[227]

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

ELY. Thanks, Friar.

FRIAR. O, my lord thinks me an ass.

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

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

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

ROB. H. Friar, enough. [_Aside_.

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

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

ROB. H. What would he sell?

FRIAR. Eggs, sir, as he says.

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

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

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

ELY. Pray, sir.

FRIAR. Tush, let him have your eggs.

ELY. Faith, I have none.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



_Enter_ WARMAN.

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

_Enter a_ GENTLEMAN, _Warman's Cousin_.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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