Page images

We now imagine the gradual approach and entry of the forces forming the expedition from England. The next immediate speakers are the kings, John and Philip. [John.] Peace be to France, if France in peace permit

Our just and lineal entrance to our own :

If not, bleed France, and peace ascend to heaven. [Philip.] Peace be to England, if that war return

From France to England, there to live in peace.
England we love; and, for that England's sake,
With burthen of our armour, here we stand
To achieve a work should be a toil of thine.
Look here upon thy brother Geoffrey's face

eyes, these brows, were moulded out of his.
That Geoffrey was thy elder brother born;
England was Geoffrey's right, and this his son :

How comes it then, that thou art callid a king ? [John.] From whom hast thou this great commission, France,

To draw my answer from thy articles ? [Philip.] From that supernal Judge, that stirs good thoughts

In any breast of strong authority,
To look into the blots and stains of right:
That Judge hath made me guardian to this boy;
Under whose warrant, I impeach thy wrong.
England and Ireland, Anjou, Touraine, Maine,
In right of Arthur do I claim of thee ;

Wilt thou resign them, and lay down thine arms ? [John.] My life as soon: I do defy thee, France.

Arthur of Bretagne, yield thee to my hand,
And out of my dear love, I'll give thee more

Than e'er the coward hand of France can win. During this time, we may imagine that Faulconbridge has been surveying, with indignation and contempt, the person of the duke of Austria, over whose armour appears the lion's skin, which had been worn by Richard, the father of Faulconbridge. At this moment, Austria, if we suppose him to utter aloud the following call, will be the prominent person on the scene :

[Austria.] Some trumpet summon hither to the walls

These men of Angiers : let us hear them speak

Whose title they admit, Arthur's or John's. [Faulconbridge.] Hear the crier! [Austria.] Who the devil art thou ? [Faulconbridge.] One that will play the devil, Sir, with you, An he may catch your hide and


You are the hare of whom the proverb goes,
Whose valour plucks dead lions by the beard :
I'll smoke


skin coat, an I catch you right; Sirrah, look to 't ; i' faith I will, i' faith. [Austria.] What cracker is this same, that deafs our ears

With this abundance of superfluous breath?

-Princes, determine what we shall do straight. The citizens being summoned to their walls by the heralds of each party, declare their purpose of keeping their gates closed, till, by agreement, or the force of arms, the future king is with certainty determined. A battle in consequence takes place, during a pause in which the two kings again hold a parley : [John.] France, hast thou yet more blood to cast away

y? Say, shall the current of our right run on ? [Philip.] England, thou hast not sav’d one drop of blood

In this hot trial more than we of France :
Rather lost more. And by this hand I swear

sways the earth this climate overlooks,
Before we will lay down our just borne arms,
We 'll put thee down 'gainst whom these arms we bear,
Or add a royal number to the dead.

Faulconbridge comes forward. [Faulconbridge.] Ha, majesty! how high thy glory towers,

When the rich blood of kings is set on fire!
Why stand these royal fronts amazed thus ?
Cry havock, kings ! back to the stained field,
Ye equal potentates, ye fiery spirits !

Then let confusion of one part, confirm

The other's peace : till then, blows, blood, and death! [John.] Whose party do the townsmen yet admit ? [Philip.] Speak, citizens, for England: who's your king ?

The citizens being formally summoned, repeat their declaration to keep the gates closed till the undoubted king shall be determined. Fuulconbridge continues. [Faulconbridge.] By heavens, these scroyles of Angiers flout

And stand securely on their battlements, [you, Kings,
As in a theatre, to gape and point
At your industrious scenes and acts of death.
Your royal presences be rul'd by me:
Be friends awhile, and both conjointly pierce
The flinty ribs of this contemptuous city:
That done, dissever your united strengths,
Turn face to face, and bloody point to point,
And fortune, in a moment, shall cull forth
Out of one side her happy minion,
And kiss him with a glorious victory,

How like you this wild counsel, mighty states ?
[John.] Now, by the sky that hangs above our heads,

I like it well : France, shall we knit our powers,
And lay this Angiers even with the ground,

Then, after, fight who shall be King of it ? An agreement is concluded between the powers to make a common assault on the city. The citizens are no sooner sensible of this movement, than, entreating a parley, a herald thus speaks : [Herald.] Hear us, great Kings: vouchsafe awhile to stay,

And we shall show you how, with fair-fac'd league,
To win the city without stroke or wound,
And rescue breathing lives to die in beds,

Which here come sacrifices for the field. The kings manifest a disposition to listen favourably; on which the herald descending, as we may suppose, to a nearer situation, continues his address:

That daughter there of Spain, the Lady Blanche,
Is near to England : look upon the years
Of Lewis the dauphin, and that lovely maid.
If lusty love should go in quest of beauty,
Where shall he find it fairer than in Blanche ?
If zealous love should go in search of virtue,
Where shall he find it purer than in Blanche ?
If love ambitious sought a match of birth,
Whose veins bound richer blood than lady Blanche ?
Such as she is in beauty, virtue, birth,
Is the young dauphin every way complete :
If not complete, it is by lacking her :
He is the half part of a blessed man;
And she a fair divided excellence,
Whose fulness of perfection lies in him.
Oh! two such silver currents, when they join,
Do glorify the banks that bound them in :
And two such shores to two such streams made one,
Two such controlling bounds shall you be, Kings,
To these two princes, if you marry them.
This union shall do more than battery can
To our fast closed gates. Without this match,
The sea enraged is not half so deaf,
Lions more confident, mountains and rocks
More free from motion, no, not death himself
In mortal fury half so peremptory,
As we to keep our city from your

hands. The Queen Eleunor whispers King John. [Eleanor.] Son, list to this conjunction ; make this match;

Give with our niece a dowry large enough;
For by this knot thou shalt so surely tie
Thy now unsure assurance to the crown,
That yon green boy shall have no sun to ripe
The bloom that promiseth a mighty fruit.
I see a yielding in the looks of France ;
Mark how they whisper: urge them while their souls
Are capable of this ambition.

After a pause, the Herald continues.

What say

[Herald.] Why answer not the double majesties

This friendly treaty of our threaten’d town? [Philip.] Let England speak, that hath been forward first

To speak unto this city : what say you ?
[John.] If that the dauphin there, thy princely son,

Can, in this book of beauty, read I love,
Her dowry shall weigh equal to a queen.
For Anjou, Touraine, Maine, and Poictiers,
And all that, save this city now besieged,
Is liable on this side of the sea,
To England's crown, shall gild her bridal bed.
the young ones ? What say you, my niece ?

[a pause.] Prince dauphin, speak; say, can you love the lady? [Lewis.] Nay, ask me if I can refrain from love;

For I do love her most unfeignedly. [John.] She still is silent: what say you, my niece ? [Blanche.] That she is bound in honour still to do, What


in wisdom still vouchsafe to say. [John.] Philip of France, if thou be pleas'd withal,

Command thy son and daughter to join hands. [Philip.] It likes me well : Young princes, join your hands.

Now citizens of Angiers, ope your gates,
Let in the amity which you have made.
Is not the lady Constance in this troop?
I know she is not; for this match made up,
Her presence would have interrupted much :

Where is she, and her son ? tell me, who knows? [Lewis.] She' is sad and passio'nate at your highness' tent. [Philip.] And, by my faith, this league that we have made

Will give her sadness very little cure.
Brother of England, how may we content

This widow lady ?
[John.] We will heal all up;

For we'll create young Arthur duke of Bretagne,

« PreviousContinue »