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Louis XI, an historical drama in three acts online

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Imy Robsart," " The Spirits of the A'ight," " York Rosa,"
" Faust and Margaret," " 'Tis an III Wind that
Blows Nobody Good"
Sfc. Sfc. Sfc.



First Performed at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane,
Monday, February 14A, 1853.


Loun XI

COITIER (the King's Physician)


RICHARD > (Peasants)








Mr. H. LEE.







Pages, Heralds, Standard Bearers, Soldiers, Peasants,
Courtiers, and Knights.




Female Peasants.

SCENE. The Castle of Plessis lei Tours.


LOUIS. Maroon velvet short robe, edged with fur down the front
and neck ; black shoes ; caul cap of maroon velvet ; gold collar ;
small leaden images with chain round a hat of black velvet ; dagger-
2nd Dress Blue circular regal mantle embroidered with fleur-
de-lys, enveloping the whole figure fastened on right shoulder.

DAUPHIN. Surcoat of damask; grey legs and arms; hat and
feather ; belt, sword, and dagger.

NEMOURS. Suit of armour and surcoat, embroidered with red lion.
2nd Dress Plain suit of the period.

COMINE. Dark under-dress and plain arm-hole robe ; black shoes.
OLIVER and DE DREUX. The same shape, but varying in colour
and material.

TRISTAN. A black velvet embroidered suit; short tight fitting
shirt, with long hanging sleeves ; turban cap.

CRAUFORD. Suit of armour of the time.

FRANCOIS DE PAULE. Monk's gown and cowl; staff.

PEASANTS. Cloth pantaloons, fastened to the jerkin by strings
tied in bows ; some in short frocks, black ankle shoes, caps.

MARIE. A parti-coloured dress of the period. 2nd Dress. Plain
white and mantle.

PEASANTS. Bodies laced in front ; short full sleeves ; short full
skirts, of any colour.

NOTE. The peculiarities in the dress of this reign render any brief description
(without illustrations) indefinite and unsatisfactory : but fortunately a particular
and dependable authority exists, which may be referred to with confidence, as
Sir Walter Scott, in Quentin Durward, describes the dress and appearance of
most of the individuals introduced in this play. " Herbe's Costumes Franeais,"
4to., and " Costumes Civil et Militaires de la Monarchic Franeais," 4to., will
also convey every information.

Time in Performance, Two Hours.



SCENE I. A Landscape The Chateau of Plessii-les- Tours at
back Drawbridge raised, Sfc, Some scattered Cottages, R.

Two SENTINELS discovered Pause SCOTCH GUARDS enter
and relieve GUARD Enter TRISTAN, L. with four SOL-
DIERS, meeting RICHARD, R.

THIS, (to RICHARD) Your name?

RICH. The herdsman, Richard.

THIS. Out after nightfall ? 'tis against the King's command.

RICH. I know it, bat

TRIS. Back, I say !

RICH. My eon ig

TRI. Away !

RICH. Is dying.

TRIS. (to his GUARDS) String me up that fellow upon yonder oak.

RICH, (terrified) Tristan !

Exit, running, L.H.

OFFICER, (from platform) Who goes there ?
TRIS. Grand Provost.
OFFICER. Guards, alert !

TRISTAN'S GUARDS go into Cottages, L.H.
Enter OFFICER and SOLDIERS over Bridgt from Chateau.

OFFICER. The watch-word ?
TRIS. (in an under tone) Faithful.

GUARDS go off, R.H.U.B.
OFFICER, (in the same) France.

Exeunt ALL to Chateau Day breaks.

Enter COMINE, holding a parchment roll He seats himself at
the foot of an oak, R.H. 2 E.

COM. This work of mine requires deep thought and quietude of
oul. Blest calm ! No sound is wafted to mine ear, save chirping
birds awaking to the morn, or the hoarse challenge of yon Scotch


sentinel who walks the battlements. I'm now alone here let me read.
Memoirs of Comine ! Ah! could Louis read this manuscript
mayhap in after times destined to live wherein, day after day, is
writ the chronicle of France's shame and glory he would shudder
to behold the gloomy annals of his strange career. Of vice and virtue
what a motley group ! Here, cowardice heroic valour, there here,
mercy there, ensanguined butchery humble and proud how dif-
ferent by turns courting the mass o'erbearing to the great ; miser,
and spendthrift, jealous all at will. ( passes to the end of his MS.)
Ah me ! the picture makes me shudder as I gaze ! See, how the rising
sun gilds the tower of yonder castle Louis's living tomb where,
self-immured, he struggles with inexorable death !

Enter CoiTiER/rowi Chateau, R.H.

COIT. Ha! (crosses, and comes down from L.H. gate) Good
morrow, Sieur Comine. (tapping COMINE on the shoulder)

COM. (R.) Ah, Coitier ! how came you here ? You should be be-
side the King, our master. You are angry !

COIT. A crime of foulest die has been committed. This peasant's
son, who lies there dying, was shot down by one of the Archer Guard,
to try his newarquebuss upon him.

COM. Let him complain.

COIT To whom ? The King ! Let lambs complain to wolves :
you complained once, and prayed and knelt do you forget
Nemours ?

COM. Xemours was guilty !

COIT. You are so to say it.

COM. Coitier

COIT. I was au humble vassal, fed by the bounty of Memours.
His home was mine he thought that heaven had given me brains
wits and so he fostered them ; his bounty sent me to the colleges
of Paris. My studies prospered I became renowned. Hebrought
me to Court my rude ways and manners ill suited with the place
men thought me mad ; but finding my skill, they called me singular.
The Kiag at length made me his surgeon, and by that title I rule him
who rules you all. To Nemours I owe every thing ; yet, leagued with
you, we could not stem the fury of the King, when he had doomed
Nemours to death. All ! all his family fell before the tiger all but
one ! by your assistance he was saved.

COM. Coitier!

COIT. By yours!

COM. For heav'ns sake speak lower !

COIT. Pity then, but do not reproach Nemours.

COM. Listen Nemours is now with Charles of Burgundy. When
the King dies, and Charles the Dauphin ascends the throne, l.e will
be pardoned.

COIT. (sarcastically) By virtue of your daughter's influence with
the Prince ?
COM. Marie !

COIT. (sarcastically) Of course you do not see he love her?


Con. Impossible she is betrothed to Neinours. From child-
hood they have loved each other.

Con. Would you be convinced ? Here she comes ask her.
Enter MARIE, R.H.

.MARIE, (croising to c.) Good morning, father dear good day
Master Coitier what news? how fares the King?

COIT. Your smiles prove sweeter physic than my drugs, and he likes
'em better in which he is not singular.

MARIE. You're a perfect courtier, Sieur Coitier.

COIT. Well, you have seen this pious man Franqois de Paule,
with whose renown all France is filled he is coming, it seems, to
cure my patient to work a miracle to re-animate the King: I'd
like to see him.

MARIE. What ! do you doubt his miraculous power ?

COIT. (sneering) Oh, no ! but I'd rather see than believe it.

MARIE. How simple is his mien ! He wears no mitre, gemmed
with pearls before him there is borne no haughty crozier but sim-
ply leaning on a staff, clad in the coarsest robe, he is crowned by the
blessings of the poor, and followed by the prayers of a million simple,
but loving, souls.

COIT. And how did this anchorite meet the Dauphin and the
Court, who went forth to welcome him ?

MARIE. All, from their steeds alighting, walked on foot beside
him, while the Dauphin led the way to Plessis : next, feudal lord*
dismounted, attended by their pages, rein in hand : next, damsels
came mingling their gayer summer hue, which floated on the breeze
o'er hill and plain. The cross, too, lifted in the sunbeam, shone ;
and Louis' banners with their fleur-de-lys in gold and azure painted.
Then, in front, young children censers bore, and strewed fresh
flowers on his path, while crowds thronged round to beg his blessing
From Amboise hither, all the road along, increasing hosts of followers
-welled his train. Yonder I left them, and hurried on to tell you of
his coming.

COM. Then let us hasten to the King.

MARIE. Father, a word.

COIT. I leave you, then. Farewell.

Exit to Castle.

COM. Xow we're alone, what news? I see you have a happy secret.

MAKIK. Guess.

COM. 1 cannot.

' MARIK. The Envoy of Burgundy is here his heralds and retinue
fill our village.

COM. His name?

MA HIE. The Count de Rethel.

COM. Count de Rethel ! That house has left no heirs to later times.

MARIE. Mayhap he brings some tidings of an exiled friend.

COM. Nemours?

MARIE. Ah! think you so? who knows? Absence often tem-
pers love.

COM. Marie!


MARIE. His love is, can be, never such as mine. Oft I have tried
to cheer his sinking soul; but he would smile most bitterly, as if con-
sumed by some deep grief. Finding, too, in my artless sympathy
some comfort, soon he learnt to speak his love, responsive to my own.
Time lingered on but gloomy, still, he fled society, the Court, its
pleasures, and gay tournaments. But the name of Louis would raise
his fury, his hand would clutch his poignard, and words of death fester
on his lips. The Dauphin, surely, would forgive.

COM. I know the Dauphin loves thy company seeks it too much.

MARIE. He is but a boy.

COM. A boy that must, one day, be King of France.

MARIE. But, father, 'tis a foolish child.

COM. Enough, avoid him, check his freedom there is danger in it.

MARIE. I obey.

MURMURS and distant TRUMPET, R.H.

COM. Hark! do you hear the crowd? (looking back) They fill
the wood they come the cavalcade descends the hill.

Exeunt, L.H.

Music ceases.

FRAN. (R.C.) Prince, let me speak to these poor peasants, for nay
cares are due to high and low alike.

DAU. As you will, good father, (crosses to L.) We go to announce
your coming to the King, (to his SUITE) Follow, Sirs.

Exeunt DAUPHIN and SUITE to Chateau R.U.E.

RICH, (crossing to BRANCOIS) Pray entei- 'neath my roof, most
rev'rend Priest, and give my son his sight.

FRAN. I am but a man, like you and your's ; besides, my body's
bent with years, my hair's all blanch'd ; and seeing this, you'll
judge how little I can do for you. As man, I sympathise with human
woes, and old myself, I pity age's ills. Learn how to ondure them,
there's the antidote. Leave me, my friends, and soon my prayers
shall mingle with yonr own.

RICH, (to MARCEL.) Had I been a count or duke he would
have healed my son.

MARCEL, (to RICHARD) Aye, brought him back to life. He'll
cure the King.

RICH. Aye, by to-morrow, too.

MARCEL. But peasants are not worth a miracle.

Exeunt LADIES and PEASANTS, L.H. 1 H.

NEM. (to his SUITE) Gentlemen, I pray you precede me to the

Exeunt BURGUNDIAN KNIGHT'S to Chateau K.U.E.


FRAN. Approach tny son.

NEM. Are we alone?

FRAN. Secret from all, but heaven !

NEM. Father thou hast the ear of heaven.

FRAN. It is open to all.

NEM. Pray for me.

FRAX. For what? thy life ? Thou art still young.

NEM. But death is everywhere.

FRAN. Youth deems it distant it is full of hope.

NEM. And full of daring too so ftill more need for fear.

FRAN. Thy purpose?

NEM. Martyrdom.

FRAN. Speak !

NEM. I may not.

FRAN. You contemplate some fatal plan ?

NEM. I but obey.

FRAN. Whose bidding ?

NEM. That of heaven, crying for vengeance, and for blood.

FRAN. Blood!

N EM . Will heaven be, complice of unshriven crimes ?

FRAN. His goodness waits, but still the reckoning comes though
late, yet sure.

NEM. Curse the assassin who must die the death.

FRAN. Servant of Him who died to pardon man, 1 know not
how to curse.

NEM. (kneels) Then bless me.

FRAN. Bless thee, my son ! my prayers go with thee, and may
they guide thee well we shall meet again hereafter farewell.

Exit I-.H. 2 E.

\KM. (rises) Aye, I shall precede thee thf re. Co, shrive the King,
<lo thine office his body perish, that's my care look to his soul,
that is thine. Now to beard this French wolf in his lair !

Exit over Bridge.

SCENE II. A Room in the Chateau of Plessis-les- Tours.
MARIE alone, near a table, arranging flowers taken from a vase.

MAKIK. First, sacred box, then oak leaves I'll entwine; then these
^wild roses, lilies, briars, too, of fragrant scent. Here's ivy from the

tombs No, that will scarcely suit a sick man's taste, for 'twonlrl

remind him of his coining death : some Sower of happier omen I
must find to place near France's royal fleur-de-lys.

Enter the DACPHIN, L.H. 1 E.

DAT. At length, Marie, we meet again.
MARIE. ( passing him) Pardon, my lord.
DAU. What! leave roe?

MARIE. The King has sent me to the chapel of our Lady, in the
wood, to give the order for a festival to-night.


DAU. Let's go together.

MARIE. Alone, I'll make more speed. An offering to our Lady of
Embrun, I bear with me to deck her festival ; and thither, on a
similar errand bent, our King himself repairs to ask her aid.

DAU. Now mark how fickle-minded is the King; this morn he
meant to have started in the park his favourite hounds, that he himself
has trained. He purposed too, to-morrow, to go forth and fly his
golden falcon, watch it pounce upon its quarry ; then, by torchlight,
chase the moping owls among our battlements; all useless tasks to
cheer his solitude : I pity him when mine's so easily amused. My
joys are everywhere ; in dreams at night, at cock-crow early, and
at dusky eve ; in every field I view, in the air I breathe, in thine
eyes too, Marie, that smile on me.

MARIE. My lord, at seventeen, all things give delight; older men
dread the future, not so, you. All things are bright to youth ; but
I must haste, for this fine day, and flowers, and village dance, will
cheer him on his holy pilgrimage.

DAU Alas ! note, dear Marie, did you but know it, I'm so unhappy.


DAU. And cause enough to be so. The love I bear my father he

MARIE. What thoughts !

DAU. Why, then, did he let my childhood pine away in yonder
dismal castle of Amboiso ? Uncared for, untaught, I scarce can
read : you know I can't and all I do know, you taught me.

MARIE. Hush !

DAU. (taking a book from his bosom) But look what I have here.

MARIE. Heavens ! a book ?

DAU . Yes, of battles, tournaments : let's read it now. Do you cor-
rect me, if I make mistakes.

MARIE. Well, I'll stay awhile, (teuting hertelf near the table)
Now, begin.

DAU. (putting his book on her lap, arid sitting on an Ottoman at
her feet, reading as MARIE keeps her finger on the page) " The
Chronicles of France, written in the year "

MARIE. " The year of grace." Well.

DAU. ( puzzled) Figures these I'll skip.

MARIE. And good cause why.

DAU. " Accounts of tournaments and high exploits" " and how
a shepherd's daughter saved the land of France, and expelled the
enemy." I know : 'twas Joan of Arc.

MARIE. You've heard of her?

DAU. The King bestowed upon her honours, rank for Kings, you
know, can give whate'er they please ; while's I, poor child of France,
have nought to give. This ring alone is mine : take it.

MARIE. No, no.

DAU. And should I e'er be King by this pledge I give my royal
word there's not a title, treasure, in my gift, which I'll refuse you.

MARIE. Did I ask an exile's pardon ?

DAU. An exile you love him ! Give back the ring.

MARIE. I obey.


DAU. Keep it 'tis given: yes, 'tis thine. The Dauphin's word
the King will not forget.

Enter COMINE, L.H. 1 E.

COM. Your Highness, the King, commands your presence instantly.

DAU. The King (crosses to L.H.) I tremble in every limb what
can he want ? ' What have I done ?

COM. Courage, my Prince no need to fear to-day. Duke
Charles's envoy has to Plessis come, with all due pomp of heraldry
and Knights ; and Louis, bent on honoring his guest, requests your
Highness to present the Duke.

DAU. Aniaz'd I tremble like some guilty thing. Good heav'ns,
that son should need to fear his sire ! When I eee mine, I'm motion-
less and dumb ; I scarce endure the task: and when I sec his eyes
fixed on me through their half shut lids, as if to scrutinize and freeze
my soul, each kind affection shrinks abashed, and though I love, I
shuddering, kiss his hand.

COM. Dear Prince, let him not wait ?

DAU. I fly I would but overcome my terror, (to MARIE) Fare-
well to my minister of State !

Exit L.H. 1 B.

COM. Marie, I'd be alone go wait me in the King's chamber.
MAKIB. On my finger see the pardon of Nemours !

Exit R.H.

COM . The Count de Rethel must be bought. The King has by the
royal purse won more than by his sword. I am despatched to find
this Envoy's price, and in what coin it must be paid gold titles
lands !

Enter OFFICER, L.H. 1 B.

OFFICER. The Count de Rethel.

Exit L.H. 1 E.

COM. He i.> here ! Ah, Nemours !

V EM. la this his living tomb ?

COM. Hush: here echo turns informer; walls have eyes.

.\ KM . Fit dungeon for a King ! Hard by, I've seen the bloody
trace of Tristan's work. There's not a tree but he has made a gibbe't
of it, and bows their branches down with carrion fruit.

COM. And you have crossed the threshold ?

NEM. Aye ! my secret's known to you and Coitier, and which of
you two will betray me ?

Con. Neither!

\EM. Could Louis recognise me ? No ! But once he saw me;
'twas on that fatal day, when, butcher-like, my brothers and myself he
forced beneath the scaffold reeking with our father's blood.

COM. Why sek then one so fatal to thy race ?

NEM. To board the dying tyrant !

COM. Nemours!


NEM. I'm charged with words that shall whiten his cheek, and
make him quail.

COM. Beware !

NEM. Let him beware. I'll make the regal monster pale, as he
made me, once.

COM. Hast thou forgotten Marie ?

NEM. Marie !

COM. Listen, Nemours 'tis in your power to reconcile two princes
and their States, and end a civil war ; which act, too, would at once
restore you to your friends, your country all ! Yield, my son, the King
will pardon thee, forget

NEM. Forget ? What forget his crime ? The scaffold victim
what, forget that horrid scene ? Three prostrate children 'neath the
ensanguined block their parent's altar! Aye, there we were con-
ducted by his order there a I stood with face uplifted, as I heard
my father's falt'ring words, his last expiring pray'r, I felt what seemed
to be his tears that fell upon my brow no, no these eyes shed tears
no more ; no tears.

COM. Nemours !

NEM. Twas blood, a cherished father's blood. Forget; he may
forget, aye, if he can, but I oh, never !

COM. Hark, 'tis he away !

NEM. Now to confront him then.

COM. Your grave is measured.

NEM. Be it so. Then see to it, I'll have no tears shed for me
none ! But such as my father wept, and those I'll make to flow.

Exit I,.H.

COM. He is lost.

Exit R.H.

SCENE III. The Throne Room.

The COURT discovered Enter Louis, preceded by the COUNT DK
DREUX, and followed by COITIER, OLIVER, KJUGHTS, and

Louis, (to DREUX.) Pacque Dieu ! look up ! Beware, fount,
or by the rood, if one more murmur or complaint I hear, I'll huvr>
my hand upon you ; then look to your soul, Heaven soilzie it, as
for your body, I'll provide for that.

DREUX. (R.) But I humbly beg

Louis. (L.) Deny it not lookup. Instead of two hundred golden
crowns, you've raised two thousand from these good folks. ( pointing
to the CITIZENS) You have robbed and plundered them and me by
no means the least of your crimes. Look at this dead King von so
despise : is he alive or not ?

DREUX. I pray you, Sire

Louis. I'm not so ill as men would make me out to be : some fire
stillgleams, when angry, in mine eye I live the ailing one's less pale
than thou ; though old, too, noble Sir. I'll outlive you and others
too I'm man enough for that. Whoe'w desire* to play a game like

12 LOUIS XI. [Act I.

your's, his heart had better fail him, ere he try. Mine is the right
divine by heritage ; to me alone, unshared, it still belongs. You'll
find to touch that right is dangerous, and has been fatal to much
loftier men than thou proud vassals whom I forced to bow. Oliver,
you have seen those troublous times.

OLIV. (L.C.) Yes, Sire, and e'en this day you're still the same.
Louis. More numerous aye, and haughtier, too, than he. The
game was bloody, and the quarry high j my scythe mowed down the
thorns so near the root, 'twere vain to search which way it swept
along : it cut down Nemours sharply, it may be for an example ;
and, perhaps, again may do the like, (to DREUX) Hast thou got
brats like him ? Advance !

DREUX. (terrified) Sire! (aside to COITIBR) For pity's sake

COIT. (L.H.) Sire, passion is dangerous.
Louis. True, but I am better since I saw that holy man.
COIT. Have faith in him then only. Is that eye of fury, and your
passion-bloated lip, of hia prescribing ?
Louis. Coitier !

COIT. Oh, don't rail at me you're wrong.
Louis. Coitier ! !

COIT. Yes, wrong, and I am right. Hold ! the mischiefs done
your colour's changed !
Lnuis. What?
COIT. Aye !

Louia. Well, I'll be calm !

COIT. No suffer on ; aye, die, if such be your will !
Louis, (to COITIER, aside) Peace ! (to DREUX) As for you,
what you have ta'en, give back within three days, as ransom for your
head; or else, convinced you little value it, I'll have the same cut
off, and (looking brick at COITIER) not in rage, for rage isdang'rous.
DEEUX. I submit 1

Louis. Well! Just such a game cost dear to Sieur Melun !
he was a Count too same pride same fate; have a care
Tristan watches you ; and what I've said to one, I'll do to all. Now,
go. (DREUX retires up)

OLIV. Sire, the Envoys from the Helvetic Cantons wait.
Louis. Pacque Dieu! Begone with them!
OLIV. Not see them ?
Louis. No; I hate republics.

COM. (comes down R.H.) Sire, I venture to observe, you've re-
cognised their charter'd rights and liberty.

Louis. I know it. Freedom, ah ! an old word ! hated sound ; I
like it not. Liberty nick name for tyranny ! Free ! rustics,
peasants, chemois hunters, boors !

COM. Their rights they know how bravely to defend.
I.i > i; is. What ! Would they have me take purt with them, against
my beloved cousin Burgundy, whose ambassador is here? No, no.
(aside to OLIVER) Treat with them.
OLIV. (aside, L.C.) How?

Louis, (aside) Give what you must, and promise them the rest.
OLIV. (aside) Enough.


Louis, (aloud) Banquet them and let me go. (aside) With our
French wine you may do much they are Swiss, and drink hard go
(to COITIEK, who is going up L.) Where goest thou ?

COIT. In yon banquet, Sire, I meant to take my part.

Louis. Sit at the head, Coitier; but pray be watchful o'er yonr

COIT. Answer for yourself, I will do the like.

Louis. Indulgent to themselves heedless of others' ills ; such
are physicians.

COIT. Yes, and many more of whom your Majesty takes great ac-
count who preach, but do not practice, abstinence.

Louis. Go, scoffer!


Well, Comine, whnt says yon Count ?

COM. He's incorruptible.

Louis. That cannot be.

COM. He spurned your gifts.

Louis. Because you didn't offer him enough. I'll treat with
him myeelf : admit him !

COM. Sire, believe me, 'tis in vain do not receive him.

Enter MARIE R.U.E.
Louis. Begone !


Well, Marie, hast thou been harvesting among the flowers?

MABIE. (R.) I call the neighbouring bushes to attest I have not
spared a bud.

Louis. What of yon holy man ? Hast seen his miracles ?

MARIE. Not one.

Louis. Ay, he reserves his power for me alone but go, my pretty
child, here come affairs of state.


DAU. (B.C.) Sire, the Envoy from Duke Charles, the Count de
Rethel, awaits an audience.

TRUMPETS. The KING ascends his Throne L.C. Enter
TRISTAN, and SUITE, a.u.B.

MARIE, (recognising NEMOURS) Ah!

Louis, (aside) Pacque Dieu ! Marie knows him. (to MARIE)
Go, child.


NEM. (R.) (aside) My body trembles with convuUive dread : 'tis
he, the murderer of my sire !

Louis, (after reading the credentials presented by a kneeling

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