Act the First - Scene I
Enter GAVESTON, reading on a letter that was brought him from the KING.
Gaveston. My father is deceas'd. Come, Gaveston,
And share the kingdom with thy dearest friend.
Ah, words that make me surfeit with delight!
What greater bliss can hap to Gaveston
Than live and be the favourite of a king!
Sweet prince, I come! these, thy amorous lines
Might have enforc'd me to have swum from France,
And, like Leander, gasp'd upon the sand,
So thou wouldst smile, and take me in thine arms.
The sight of London to my exil'd eyes
Is as Elysium to a new-come soul:
Not that I love the city or the men,
But that it harbours him I hold so dear,—
The king, upon whose bosom let me lie,
And with the world be still at enmity.
What need the arctic people love star-light,
To whom the sun shines both by day and night?
Farewell base stooping to the lordly peers!
My knee shall bow to none but to the king.
As for the multitude, that are but sparks,
Rak'd up in embers of their poverty,—
Tanti,—I'll fawn first on the wind,
That glanceth at my lips, and flieth away.
Enter three Poor Men.
But how now! what are these?
Poor Men. Such as desire your worship's service.
Gav. What canst thou do?
First P. Man. I can ride.
Gav. But I have no horse.—What art thou?
Sec. P. Man. A traveller.
Gav. Let me see; thou wouldst do well
To wait at my trencher, and tell me lies at dinner-time;
And, as I like your discoursing, I'll have you.—
And what art thou?
Third P. Man. A soldier, that hath serv'd against the Scot.
Gav. Why, there are hospitals for such as you:
I have no war; and therefore, sir, be gone.
Third P. Man. Farewell, and perish by a soldier's hand,
That wouldst reward them with an hospital!
Gav. Ay, ay, these words of his move me as much
As if a goose should play the porcupine,
And dart her plumes, thinking to pierce my breast.
But yet it is no pain to speak men fair;
I'll flatter these, and make them live in hope.— [Aside.
You know that I came lately out of France,
And yet I have not view'd my lord the king:
If I speed well, I'll entertain you all.
All. We thank your worship.
Gav. I have some business: leave me to myself.
All. We will wait here about the court.
Gav. Do. These are not men for me:
I must have wanton poets, pleasant wits,
Musicians, that with touching of a string
May draw the pliant king which way I please:
Music and poetry is his delight;
Therefore I'll have Italian masks by night,
Sweet speeches, comedies, and pleasing shows;
And in the day, when he shall walk abroad,
Like sylvan nymphs my pages shall be clad;
My men, like satyrs grazing on the lawns,
Shall with their goat-feet dance the antic hay;
Sometime a lovely boy in Dian's shape,
With hair that gilds the water as it glides
Crownets of pearl about his naked arms,
And in his sportful hands an olive-tree,
To hide those parts which men delight to see,
Shall bathe him in a spring; and there, hard by,
One like Actæon, peeping through the grove,
Shall by the angry goddess be transform'd,
And running in the likeness of an hart,
By yelping hounds pull'd down, shall seem to die:
Such things as these best please his majesty.—
My lord. —Here comes the king, and the nobles,
From the parliament. I'll stand aside. [Retires.
Enter KING EDWARD, KENT, LANCASTER, the elder MORTIMER,
the younger MORTIMER, WARWICK, PEMBROKE, and
K. Edw. Lancaster!
Lan. My lord?
Gav. That Earl of Lancaster do I abhor. [Aside.
K. Edw. Will you not grant me this?—In spite of them
I'll have my will; and these two Mortimers,
That cross me thus, shall know I am displeased. [Aside.
E. Mor. If you love us, my lord, hate Gaveston.
Gav. That villain Mortimer! I'll be his death. [Aside.
Y. Mor._ Mine uncle here, this earl, and I myself,
Were sworn to your father at his death,
That he should ne'er return into the realm:
And now, my lord, ere I will break my oath,
This sword of mine, that should offend your foes,
Shall sleep within the scabbard at thy need,
And underneath thy banners march who will,
For Mortimer will hang his armour up.
Gav. Mort dieu! [Aside.
K. Edw. Well, Mortimer, I'll make thee rue these words:
Beseems it thee to contradict thy king?
Frown'st thou thereat, aspiring Lancaster?
The sword shall plane the furrows of thy brows,
And hew these knees that now are grown so stiff.
I will have Gaveston; and you shall know
What danger 'tis to stand against your king.
Gav. Well done, Ned! [Aside.
Lan. My lord, why do you thus incense your peers,
That naturally would love and honour you,
But for that base and obscure Gaveston?
Four earldoms have I, besides Lancaster,—
Derby, Salisbury, Lincoln, Leicester;
These will I sell, to give my soldiers pay,
Ere Gaveston shall stay within the realm:
Therefore, if he be come, expel him straight.
Kent. Barons and earls, your pride hath made me mute;
But know I'll speak, and to the proof, I hope.
I do remember, in my father's days,
Lord Percy of the North, being highly mov'd,
Brav'd Mowbray in presence of the king;
For which, had not his highness lov'd him well,
He should have lost his head; but with his look
Th' undaunted spirit of Percy was appeas'd,
And Mowbray and he were reconcil'd:
Yet dare you brave the king unto his face.—
Brother, revenge it, and let these their heads
Preach upon poles, for trespass of their tongues.
War. O, our heads!
K. Edw. Ay, yours; and therefore I would wish you grant.
War. Bridle thy anger, gentle Mortimer.
Y. Mor. I cannot, nor I will not; I must speak.—
Cousin, our hands I hope shall fence our heads,
And strike off his that makes you threaten us.—
Come, uncle, let us leave the brain-sick king,
And henceforth parley with our naked swords.
E. Mor. Wiltshire hath men enough to save our heads.
War. All Warwickshire will leave him for my sake.
Lan. And northward Lancaster hath many friends.—
Adieu, my lord; and either change your mind,
Or look to see the throne, where you should sit,
To float in blood, and at thy wanton head
The glozing head of thy base minion thrown. [Exeunt all except King Edward, Kent, Gaveston, and attendants.
K. Edw. I cannot brook these haughty menaces:
Am I a king, and must be over-rul'd!—
Brother, display my ensigns in the field:
I'll bandy with the barons and the earls,
And either die or live with Gaveston.
Gav. I can no longer keep me from my lord. [Comes forward.
K. Edw. What, Gaveston! welcome! Kiss not my hand:
Embrace me, Gaveston, as I do thee.
Why shouldst thou kneel? know'st thou not who I am?
Thy friend, thyself, another Gaveston:
Not Hylas was more mourned for of Hercules
Than thou hast been of me since thy exile.
Gav. And, since I went from hence, no soul in hell
Hath felt more torment than poor Gaveston.
K. Edw. I know it.—Brother, welcome home my friend.—
Now let the treacherous Mortimers conspire,
And that high-minded Earl of Lancaster:
I have my wish, in that I joy thy sight;
And sooner shall the sea o'erwhelm my land
Than bear the ship that shall transport thee hence.
I here create thee Lord High-chamberlain,
Chief Secretary to the state and me,
Earl of Cornwall, King and Lord of Man.
Gav. My lord, these titles far exceed my worth.
Kent. Brother, the least of these may well suffice
For one of greater birth than Gaveston.
K. Edw. Cease, brother, for I cannot brook these words.—
Thy worth, sweet friend, is far above my gifts:
Therefore, to equal it, receive my heart.
If for these dignities thou be envied,
I'll give thee more; for, but to honour thee,
Is Edward pleas'd with kingly regiment.
Fear'st thou thy person? thou shalt have a guard:
Wantest thou gold? go to my treasury:
Wouldst thou be lov'd and fear'd? receive my seal,
Save or condemn, and in our name command
What so thy mind affects, or fancy likes.
Gav. It shall suffice me to enjoy your love;
Which whiles I have, I think myself as great
As Cæsar riding in the Roman street,
With captive kings at his triumphant car.
Enter the BISHOP OF COVENTRY.
K. Edw. Whither goes my Lord of Coventry so fast?
Bish. of Cov. To celebrate your father's exequies. But is that wicked Gaveston return'd?
K. Edw. Ay, priest, and lives to be reveng'd on thee, That wert the only cause of his exile.
Gav. 'Tis true; and, but for reverence of these robes, Thou shouldst not plod one foot beyond this place.
Bish. of Cov. I did no more than I was bound to do: And, Gaveston, unless thou be reclaim'd, As then I did incense the parliament, So will I now, and thou shalt back to France.
Gav. Saving your reverence, you must pardon me.
K. Edw. Throw off his golden mitre, rend his stole, And in the channel christen him anew.
Kent. Ay, brother, lay not violent hands on him! For he'll complain unto the see of Rome.
Gav. Let him complain unto the see of hell: I'll be reveng'd on him for my exile.
K. Edw. No, spare his life, but seize upon his goods: Be thou lord bishop, and receive his rents, And make him serve thee as thy chaplain: I give him thee; here, use him as thou wilt.
Gav. He shall to prison, and there die in bolts.
K. Edw. Ay, to the Tower, the Fleet, or where thou wilt.
Bish. of Cov. For this offence be thou accurs'd of God!
K. Edw. Who's there? Convey this priest to the Tower.
Bish. of Cov. True, true.
K. Edw. But, in the meantime, Gaveston, away, And take possession of his house and goods. Come, follow me, and thou shalt have my guard To see it done, and bring thee safe again.
Gav. What should a priest do with so fair a house? A prison may beseem his holiness. [Exeunt.