Page images

Carry them here and there ; jumping o'er times,
Turning th' accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass : for the which supply,
Admit me chorus to this history;
Who, prologue-like, your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.


SCENE 1.- LONDON. An Ante-chamber in the King's Palace.


Cant. My lord, I'll tell you,—that self bill is urg'd,
Which in th' eleventh year of the last king's reign
Was like, and had indeed against us pass'd,
But that the scambling and unquiet time
Did push it out of farther question.

Ely. But how, my lord, shall we resist it now?

Cant. It must be thought on. If it pass against us,
We lose the better half of our possession :
For all the temporal lands, which men devout
By testament have given to the church,
Would they strip from us; being valued thus,-
As much as would maintain, to the king's honour,
Full fifteen earls, and fifteen hundred knights,
Six thousand and two hundred good esquires ;
And, to relief of lazars, and weak age,
Of indigent faint souls, past corporal toil,
A hundred alms-houses, right well supplied ;
And to the coffers of the king beside,
A thousand pounds by the year : thus runs the bill.

Ely. This would drink deep.
'Twould drink the cup and all

Ely. But what prevention !
Cant. The king is full of grace, and fair regard.
Ely. And a true lover of the holy church.

Cant. The courses of his youth promis'd it not.
The breath no sooner left his father's body,
But that his wildness, mortified in him,
Seem'd to die too; yea, at that very moment,
Consideration like an angel came,

And whipp'd th' offending Adam out of him,
Leaving his body as a paradise,
To envelope and contain celestial spirits.
Never was such a sudden scholar made;
Never came reformation in a flood,
With such a heady current, 'scouring faults;
Nor never Hydra-headed wilfulness
So soon did lose his seat, and all at once,
As in this king.

We are blessed in the change.
Cant. Hear him but reason in divinity,
And, all-admiring, with an inward wish
You would desire the king were made a prelate :
Hear him debate of commonwealth affairs,
You would say, it hath been all-in-all his study :
List his discourse of war, and you shall hear
A fearful battle render'd you in music :
Turn him to any cause of policy,
The Gordian knot of it he will unloose,
Familiar as his garter that, when he speaks,
The air, a charter'd libertine, is still,
And the mute wonder lurketh in men's ears,
To steal his sweet and honey'd sentences ;
So that the art and practick part of life
Must be the mistress to this theorick :
Which is a wonder, how his grace should glean it,
Since his addiction was to courses vain ;
His companies unletter'd, rude, and shallow;
His hours fill'd up with riots, banquets, sports;
And never noted in him any study,
Any retirement, any sequestration
From open haunts and popularity.

Ely. The strawberry grows underneath the nettle, And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best, Neighbour'd by fruit of baser quality : And so the prince obscur'd his contemplation Under the veil of wildness; which, no doubt, Grew like the summer grass, fastest by night, Unseen, yet crescive in his faculty.

Cant. It must be so; for miracles are ceas'd; And therefore we must needs admit the means, How things are perfected.

But, my good lord, How now for mitigation of this bill


Urg'd by the commons ? Doth his majesty
Incline to it, or no?

He seems indifferent;
Or, rather, swaying more upon our part,
Than cherishing th' exhibiters against us:
For I have made an offer to his majesty, -
Upon our spiritual convocation,
And in regard of causes now in hand,
Which I have open'd to his grace at large,
As touching France,-to give a greater sum
Than ever at one time the clergy yet
Did to his predecessors part withal.

Ely. How did this offer seem receiv'd, my lord ?

Cant. With good acceptance of his majesty;
Save, that there was not time enough to hear
(As, I perceiv'd, his grace would fain have done)
The severals, and unhidden passages
Of his true titles to some certain dukedoms,
And, generally, to the crown and seat of France,
Deriv'd from Edward, his great-grandfather.
Ely. What was th’ impediment that broke this off?

Cant. The French embassador upon that instant
Crav'd audience; and the hour, I think, is come,
To give him hearing : is it four o'clock ?

Ely. It is.

Cant. Then go we in, to know his embassy ; Which I could, with a ready guess, declare, Before the Frenchman speak a word of it.

Ely. I'll wait upon you ; and I long to hear it.


SCENE II.-LONDON. A Room of State in the Palace.

WESTMORELAND, and Attendants.
K. Hen. Where is my gracious lord of Canterbury?
Exe. Not here in presence.
K. Hen.

Send for him, good uncle.
West. Shall we call in th' embassador, my liege?

K. Hen. Not yet, my cousin : we would be resolvid,
Before we hear him, of some things of weight,
That task our thoughts, concerning us and France.

Cant. God, and his angels, guard your sacred throne,
And make you long become it!

K. Hen.

Sure, we thank you.
My learned lord, we pray you to proceed,
And justly and religiously unfold,
Why the law Salique, that they have in France,
Or should, or should not, bar us in our claim :
And God forbid, my dear and faithful lord,
That you should fashion, wrest, or bow your reading,
Or nicely charge your understanding soul
With opening titles miscreate, whose right
Suits not in native colours with the truth;
For God doth know how many, now in health,
Shall drop their blood in approbation
Of what your reverence shall incite us to.
Therefore, take heed how you impawn our person,
How you awake the sleeping sword of war :
We charge you in the name of God, take heed;
For never two such kingdoms did contend,
Without much fall of blood; whose guiltless drops
Are every one a woe, a sore complaint,
'Gainst him whose wrongs give edge unto the swords
That make such waste in brief mortality.
Under this conjuration, speak, my lord ;
And we will hear, note, and believe in heart,
That what you speak is in your conscience wash’d,
As pure as sin with baptism.

Cant. Then hear me, gracious sov'reign, and you peers,
That owe yourselves, your lives, and services,
To this imperial throne.-There is no bar
To make against your highness' claim to France,
But this, which they produce from Phatamond,
In terram Salicam mulieres ne succedant,
""No woman shall succeed in Salique land :"
Which Salique land the French unjustly gloze
To be the realm of France, and Pharamond
The founder of this law, and female bar.
Yet their own authors faithfully affirm,
That the land Salique is in Germany,
Between the floods of Sala and of Elbe ;
Where Charles the great, having subdu'd the Saxons,
There left behind and settled certain French;
Who, holding in disdain the German women
For some dishonest manners of their life,
Establish'd then this law,—to wit, no female
Should be inheritrix in Salique land:

Which Salique, as I said, 'twixt Elbe and Sala, Is at this day in Germany call’d Meisen. Then doth it well appear, the Salique law, Was not devised for the realm of France : Nor did the French possess the Salique land Until four hundred one and twenty years After defunction of king Pharamond, Idly suppos’d the founder of this law; Who died within the year of our redemption Four hundred twenty-six; and Charles the great Subdu'd the Saxons, and did seat the French Beyond the river Sala, in the year Eight hundred five. Besides, their writers say, King Pepin, which deposed Childerick, Did, as heir general, being descended Of Blithild, which was daughter to king Clothair, Make claim and title to the crown of France. Hugh Capet also,-who usurp'd the crown Of Charles the duke of Lorain, sole heir male Of the true line and stock of Charles the great,To find his title with some show of truth, (Though, in pure truth, it was corrupt and naught,) Convey'd himself as heir to the lady Lingare, Daughter to Charlemain, who was the son To Lewis the emperor, and Lewis the son Of Charles the great. Also king Lewis the tenth, Who was sole heir to the usurper Capet, Could not keep quiet in his conscience, Wearing the crown of France, till satisfied That fair queen Isabel, his grandmother, Was lineal of the lady Ermengare, Daughter to Charles the foresaid duke of Lorair : By the which marriage, the line of Charles the great Was re-united to the crown of France. So that, as clear as is the summer's sun, King Pepin's title, and Hugh Capet's claim, King Lewis his satisfaction, all appear To hold in right and title of the female : So do the kings of France unto this day; Howbeit they would hold up this Salique law, To bar your highness claiming from the female ; And rather choose to hide them in a net, Than amply to imbar their crooked titles Usurp'd from you and your progenitors.

« PreviousContinue »