Page images
PDF
EPUB

pen, and 'a babbled of green fields. How now, Sir John? quoth I: what, man! be of good cheer. So 'a cried out-God, God, God! three or four times: now I, 'to comfort him, bid him, 'a should not think of God; I hoped there was no need to trouble himself with any such thoughts yet: So, 'a bade me lay more clothes on his feet: I put my hand into the bed, and felt them, and they were as cold as any stone. KING HENRY'S CHARACTER BY

THE CONSTABLE 01

FRANCE.

You are too much mistaken in this king:
Question your grace the late ambassadors,
With what great state he heard their embassy,
How well supplied with noble counsellors,
How modest in exception,* and withal,
How terrible in constant resolution,
And you shall find his vanities forespentt
Were but the outside of the Roman Brutus,
Covering discretion with a coat of folly;
As gardeners do with ordure hide those roots
That shall first spring, and be most delicate.

ACT III. .
CHORUS.

DESCRIPTION OF A FLEET SETTING SAIL. Suppose that you have seen The well-appointed king at Hampton pier Embark his royalty; and his brave fleet With silken streamers the young Phæbus fanning, Play with your fancies; and in them behold, Upon the hempen tackle, ship-boys climbing: Hear the shrill whistle, which doth order give To sounds confus'd; behold the threaden sails, Borne with the invisible and creeping wind, Draw the huge bottoms through the furrow'd sea, Breasting the losty surge.

• In making objections. † Wasted, exhausted

ACT IV.

)

CHORUS. DESCRIPTION OF NIGHT IN A CAMP. From camp to camp, through the foul womb

of night,
The hum of either army stilly* sounds,
That the fix'd sentinels almost receive
The secret whispers of each other's watch:
Fire answers fire, and though their paly flames
Each battle sees the other's umber'dt face:
Steed threatens steed, in high and boastful neighs
Piercing the night's dull ear; and from the tents,
The armourers, accomplishing the knights,
With busy hammers closing rivets up,
Give dreadful note of preparation.
The country cocks do crow, the clocks do toll,
And the third hour of drowsy morning name.
Proud of their numbers, and secure in soul,
The confident and over-lustyf French
Do the low-rated English play at dice;
And chide the cripple tardy-gaited night,
Who, like a foul and ugly witch, doth limp
So tediously away. The poor condemned English,
Like sacrifices, by their watchful fires
Sit patiently, and inly ruminate
The morning's danger; and their gesture sad,
Investing lank-lean cheeks, and war-worn coats,
Presenteth them unto the gazing moon
So many horrid ghosts. O, now, who will behold
The royal captain of this ruin’d band,
Walking from watch to watch, from tent to tent,
Let him cry—Praise and glory on his head!
For forth he goes, and visits all his host;
Bids them good morrow, with a modest smile;
And calls them-brothers, friends, and countrymen
Upon his royal face there is no note,
How dread an army hath enrounded him;

* Gently, lowly.
4 Discoloured by the gleam of the fires.

Over-saucy.

Nor doth he dedicate one jot of colour
Unto the weary and all-watched night:
But freshly looks, and overbears attaint,
With cheerful semblance, and sweet majesty;
That every wretch, pining and pale before,
Beholding him, plucks comfort from his looks:
A largess universal, like the sun,
His liberal eye doth give to every one,
Thawing cold fear.

Enter Bates, Court, and Williams. Court. Brother John Bates, is not that the morning which breaks yonder?

Bates. I think it be: but we have no great cause to desire the approach of day, Will

. We see yonder the beginning of the day, but I think, we shall never see the end of it.--Who

goes there?

K. Hen. A friend.
Will. Under what captain serve you?
K. Hen. Under Sir Thomas Erpingham.

Will. A good old commander, and a most kind gentleman: I pray you what thinks he of our estate?

K. Hen. Even as men wrecked upon a sand, that look to be washed off the next tide.

Bates. He hath not told his thought to the king?

K. Hen. No; nor it is not meet he should. For, though I speak it to you, I think, the king is but a man, as I am: the violet smells to him, as it doth to me; the element shows to him, as it doth to me; all his senses have but human conditions:* his ceremonies laid by, in his nakedness he appears but a man; and though his affections are higher mounted than ours, yet when they stoop, they stoop with the like wings; therefore, when he sees reason of fears, as we do, his fears, out of doubt, be of the same relish as ours are: Yet, in reason, no man should possess him with any appearance of fear, lest he, by showing it, should dishearten his army:

Bates. He may show what outward courage hc will: but I believe, as cold a night as 'tis, he could wish himself in the Thames up to the neck; and so would he were, and I by him, at all adventures, so we were quit here.

*Qualities.

K. Hen. By my troth, I will speak my conscience of the king; I think, he would not wish himself any where but where he is.

Bates. Then, 'would he were here alone; so should he be sure to be ransomed, and many poor men's lives saved.

K. Hen. I dare say, you love him not so ill, to wish hım here, alone; howsoever you speak this, to feel other men's minds: Methinks, I could not die any where so contented, as in the king's company: his cause being just, and his quarrel honourable.

Will. That's more than we know. Bates. Ay, or more than we should seek aster; for we know enough, if we know we are the king's subjects; if his cause be wrong, our obedience to the king wipes the crime of it out of us.

Will. But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make; when all those legs, and arms, and heads chopped off in a battle shall join together at the latter day,* and cry

allWe died at such a place; some, swearing; some, crying for a surgeon; some, upon their wives left poor behind them; some, upon the debts they owe; some, upon their children rawlyf left. I am afeard there are few die well, that die in battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey, were against all proportion of sub jection.

K. Hen. So, if a son, that is by his father sent about merchandise, do sinfully miscarry upon the sea, the imputation of his wickedness, by your rule, should be imposed upon his father that sent him: or if a servant, under his master's command, transporting a sum of money, be assailed by robbers, and die in many irreconciled iniquities, you may call the busi

* The last day, ile czy od judgment. + Suddenly.

ness of the master the author of the servant's damna tion:-But this is not so: the king is not bound to answer the particular endings of his soldiers, the father of his son, nor the master of his servant; for they purpose not their death, when they purpose their services. Besides, there is no king, be his cause never so spotless, if it come to the arbitrement of swords, can try it out with all unspotted soldiers. Some, peradventure, have on them the guilt of premeditated and contrived murder; some, of beguiling, virgins with the broken seals of perjury; some, making the wars their bulwark, that have before gored the gentle bosom of peace with pillage and robbery. Now, if these men have defeated the law, and outrun native punishment,* though they can outstrip men, they have no wings to fly from God: war is his beadle, war is his vengeance; so that here men are punished, for before breach of the king's laws, in now the king's quarrel: where they feared the death, they have borne life away; and where they would be safe, they perish: Then if they die unprovided, no more is the king guilty of their damnation, than he was before guilty of those impieties for the which they are now visited. Every subject's duty is the king's: but every subject's soul is his own. Therefore should every soldier in the wars do as every sick man in his bed, wash every mote out of his conscience; and dying so, death is to him advantage; or not dying, the time was blessedly lost, wherein such preparations was gained: and in him that escapes, it were not sin to think, that making God so free an offer, he let him outlive that day to see his greatness, and to teach others how they should prepare.

Will. 'Tis certain, every man that dies ill, the ill is upon his own head, the king is not to answer for it.

THE MISERIES OF ROYALTY. O hard condition ! twin-born with greatness Subjected to the breath of every fool, Whose sense no more can seel but his own wringing! What infinite heart's ease must kings neglect,

*ic. Punishment in their native country.

« PreviousContinue »