Act the First - Scene IV
Enter LANCASTER, WARWICK, PEMBROKE, the elder MORTIMER, the younger MORTIMER, the ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, and Attendants.
Lan. Here is the form of Gaveston's exile; May it please your lordship to subscribe your name.
Archb. of Cant. Give me the paper. [He subscribes, as the others do after him. Lan. Quick, quick, my lord; I long to write my name.
War. But I long more to see him banish'd hence.
Y. Mor. The name of Mortimer shall fright the king, Unless he be declin'd from that base peasant.
Enter KING EDWARD, GAVESTON, and KENT.
K. Edw. What, are you mov'd that Gaveston sits here?
It is our pleasure; we will have it so.
Lan. Your grace doth well to place him by your side,
For nowhere else the new earl is so safe.
E. Mor. What man of noble birth can brook this sight?
Quam male conveniunt!—
See, what a scornful look the peasant casts!
Pem. Can kingly lions fawn on creeping ants?
War. Ignoble vassal, that, like Phaeton,
Aspir'st unto the guidance of the sun!
Y. Mor. Their downfall is at hand, their forces down:
We will not thus be fac'd and over-peer'd.
K. Edw. Lay hands on that traitor Mortimer!
E. Mor. Lay hands on that traitor Gaveston!
Kent. Is this the duty that you owe your king?
War. We know our duties; let him know his peers.
K. Edw. Whither will you bear him? stay, or ye shall die.
E. Mor. We are no traitors; therefore threaten not.
Gav. No, threaten not, my lord, but pay them home.
Were I a king—
Y. Mor. Thou, villain! wherefore talk'st thou of a king,
That hardly art a gentleman by birth?
K. Edw. Were he a peasant, being my minion,
I'll make the proudest of you stoop to him.
Lan. My lord—you may not thus disparage us.—
Away, I say, with hateful Gaveston!
E. Mor. And with the Earl of Kent that favours him. [Attendants remove Gaveston and Kent.
K. Edw. Nay, then, lay violent hands upon your king:
Here, Mortimer, sit thou in Edward's throne;
Warwick and Lancaster, wear you my crown.
Was ever king thus over-rul'd as I?
Lan. Learn, then, to rule us better, and the realm.
Y. Mor. What we have done, our heart-blood shall maintain.
War. Think you that we can brook this upstart['s] pride?
K. Edw. Anger and wrathful fury stops my speech.
Archb. of Cant. Why are you not mov'd? be patient, my lord,
And see what we your counsellors have done.
Y. Mor. My lords, now let us all be resolute,
And either have our wills, or lose our lives.
K. Edw. Meet you for this, proud over-daring peers!
Ere my sweet Gaveston shall part from me,
This isle shall fleet upon the ocean,
And wander to the unfrequented Inde.
Archb. of Cant. You know that I am legate to the Pope:
On your allegiance to the see of Rome,
Subscribe, as we have done, to his exile.
Y. Mor. Curse him, if he refuse; and then may we
Depose him, and elect another king.
K. Edw. Ay, there it goes! but yet I will not yield:
Curse me, depose me, do the worst you can.
Lan. Then linger not, my lord, but do it straight.
Archb. of Cant. Remember how the bishop was abus'd:
Either banish him that was the cause thereof,
Or I will presently discharge these lords
Of duty and allegiance due to thee.
K. Edw. It boots me not to threat; I must speak fair:
The legate of the Pope will be obey'd.— [Aside.
My lord, you shall be Chancellor of the realm;
Thou, Lancaster, High-Admiral of our fleet;
Young Mortimer and his uncle shall be earls;
And you, Lord Warwick, President of the North;
And thou of Wales. If this content you not,
Make several kingdoms of this monarchy,
And share it equally amongst you all,
So I may have some nook or corner left,
To frolic with my dearest Gaveston.
Archb. of Cant. Nothing shall alter us; we are resolv'd.
Lan. Come, come, subscribe.
Y. Mor. Why should you love him whom the world hates so?
K. Edw. Because he loves me more than all the world.
Ah, none but rude and savage-minded men
Would seek the ruin of my Gaveston!
You that be noble-born should pity him.
War. You that are princely-born should shake him off:
For shame, subscribe, and let the lown depart.
E. Mor. Urge him, my lord.
Archb. of Cant. Are you content to banish him the realm?
K. Edw. I see I must, and therefore am content:
Instead of ink, I'll write it with my tears. [Subscribes.
Y. Mor. The king is love-sick for his minion.
K. Edw. 'Tis done: and now, accursed hand, fall off!
Lan. Give it me: I'll have it publish'd in the streets.
Y. Mor. I'll see him presently despatch'd away.
Archb. of Cant. Now is my heart at ease.
War. And so is mine.
Pem. This will be good news to the common sort.
E. Mor. Be it or no, he shall not linger here. [Exeunt all except King EDWARD.
K. Edw. How fast they run to banish him I love!
They would not stir, were it to do me good.
Why should a king be subject to a priest?
Proud Rome, that hatchest such imperial grooms,
With these thy superstitious taper-lights,
Wherewith thy antichristian churches blaze,
I'll fire thy crazed buildings, and enforce
The papal towers to kiss the lowly ground,
With slaughter'd priests make Tiber's channel swell,
And banks rais'd higher with their sepulchres!
As for the peers, that back the clergy thus,
If I be king, not one of them shall live.
Gav. My lord, I hear it whisper'd everywhere,
That I am banish'd and must fly the land.
K. Edw. 'Tis true, sweet Gaveston: O were it false!
The legate of the Pope will have it so,
And thou must hence, or I shall be depos'd.
But I will reign to be reveng'd of them;
And therefore, sweet friend, take it patiently.
Live where thou wilt, I'll send thee gold enough;
And long thou shalt not stay; or, if thou dost,
I'll come to thee; my love shall ne'er decline.
Gav. Is all my hope turn'd to this hell of grief?
K. Edw. Rend not my heart with thy too-piercing words:
Thou from this land, I from myself am banish'd.
Gav. To go from hence grieves not poor Gaveston;
But to forsake you, in whose gracious looks
The blessedness of Gaveston remains;
For nowhere else seeks he felicity.
K. Edw. And only this torments my wretched soul,
That, whether I will or no, thou must depart.
Be governor of Ireland in my stead,
And there abide till fortune call thee home.
Here, take my picture, and let me wear thine; [They exchange pictures.
O, might I keep thee here, as I do this,
Happy were I! but now most miserable.
Gav. 'Tis something to be pitied of a king.
K. Edw. Thou shalt not hence; I'll hide thee, Gaveston.
Gav. I shall be found, and then 'twill grieve me more.
K. Edw. Kind words and mutual talk makes our grief greater:
Therefore, with dumb embracement, let us part,
Stay, Gaveston; I cannot leave thee thus.
Gav. For every look, my love drops down a tear:
Seeing I must go, do not renew my sorrow.
K. Edw. The time is little that thou hast to stay,
And, therefore, give me leave to look my fill.
But, come, sweet friend; I'll bear thee on thy way.
Gav. The peers will frown.
K. Edw. I pass not for their anger. Come, let's go:
O, that we might as well return as go!
Enter QUEEN ISABELLA.
Q. Isab. Whither goes my lord?
K. Edw. Fawn not on me, French strumpet; get thee gone!
Q. Isab. On whom but on my husband should I fawn?
Gav. On Mortimer; with whom, ungentle queen,—
I judge no more—judge you the rest, my lord.
Q. Isab. In saying this, thou wrong'st me, Gaveston:
Is't not enough that thou corrupt'st my lord,
And art a bawd to his affections,
But thou must call mine honour thus in question?
Gav. I mean not so; your grace must pardon me.
K. Edw. Thou art too familiar with that Mortimer,
And by thy means is Gaveston exil'd:
But I would wish thee reconcile the lords,
Or thou shalt ne'er be reconcil'd to me.
Q. Isab. Your highness knows, it lies not in my power.
K. Edw. Away, then! touch me not.—Come, Gaveston.
Q. Isab. Villain, 'tis thou that robb'st me of my lord.
Gav. Madam, 'tis you that rob me of my lord.
K. Edw. Speak not unto her: let her droop and pine.
Q. Isab. Wherein, my lord, have I deserv'd these words?
Witness the tears that Isabella sheds,
Witness this heart, that, sighing for thee, breaks,
How dear my lord is to poor Isabel!
K. Edw. And witness heaven how dear thou art to me:
There weep; for, till my Gaveston be repeal'd,
Assure thyself thou com'st not in my sight. [Exeunt King Edward and Gaveston.
Q. Isab. O miserable and distressed queen!
Would, when I left sweet France, and was embarked,
That charming Circe, walking on the waves,
Had chang'd my shape! or at the marriage-day
The cup of Hymen had been full of poison!
Or with those arms, that twin'd about my neck,
I had been stifled, and not liv'd to see
The king my lord thus to abandon me!
Like frantic Juno, will I fill the earth
With ghastly murmur of my sighs and cries;
For never doted Jove on Ganymede
So much as he on cursed Gaveston:
But that will more exasperate his wrath;
I must entreat him, I must speak him fair,
And be a means to call home Gaveston:
And yet he'll ever dote on Gaveston;
And so am I for ever miserable.
Re-enter LANCASTER, WARWICK, PEMBROKE, the elder
MORTIMER, and the younger MORTIMER.
Lan. Look, where the sister of the king of France
Sits wringing of her hands and beats her breast!
War. The king, I fear, hath ill-treated her.
Pem. Hard is the heart that injures such a saint.
Y. Mor. I know 'tis 'long of Gaveston she weeps.
E. Mor. Why, he is gone.
Y. Mor. Madam, how fares your grace?
Q. Isab. Ah, Mortimer, now breaks the king's hate forth,
And he confesseth that he loves me not!
Y. Mor. Cry quittance, madam, then, and love not him.
Q. Isab. No, rather will I die a thousand deaths:
And yet I love in vain; he'll ne'er love me.
Lan. Fear ye not, madam; now his minion's gone,
His wanton humour will be quickly left.
Q. Isab. O, never, Lancaster! I am enjoin'd,
To sue unto you all for his repeal:
This wills my lord, and this must I perform,
Or else be banish'd from his highness' presence.
Lan. For his repeal, madam! he comes not back,
Unless the sea cast up his shipwreck'd body.
War. And to behold so sweet a sight as that,
There's none here but would run his horse to death.
Y. Mor. But, madam, would you have us call him home?
Q. Isab. Ay, Mortimer, for, till he be restor'd,
The angry king hath banish'd me the court;
And, therefore, as thou lov'st and tender'st me,
Be thou my advocate unto these peers.
Y. Mor. What, would you have me plead for Gaveston?
E. Mor. Plead for him that will, I am resolv'd.
Lan. And so am I, my lord: dissuade the queen.
Q. Isab. O, Lancaster, let him dissuade the king!
For 'tis against my will he should return.
War. Then speak not for him; let the peasant go.
Q. Isab. 'Tis for myself I speak, and not for him.
Pem. No speaking will prevail; and therefore cease.
Y. Mor. Fair queen, forbear to angle for the fish
Which, being caught, strikes him that takes it dead;
I mean that vile torpedo, Gaveston,
That now, I hope, floats on the Irish seas.
Q. Isab. Sweet Mortimer, sit down by me a while,
And I will tell thee reasons of such weight
As thou wilt soon subscribe to his repeal.
Y. Mor. It is impossible: but speak your mind.
Q. Isab. Then, thus;—but none shall hear it but ourselves. [Talks to Y. Mor. apart.
Lan. My lords, albeit the queen win Mortimer,
Will you be resolute and hold with me?
E. Mor. Not I, against my nephew.
Pem. Fear not; the queen's words cannot alter him.
War. No? do but mark how earnestly she pleads!
Lan. And see how coldly his looks make denial!
War. She smiles: now, for my life, his mind is chang'd!
Lan. I'll rather lose his friendship, I, than grant.
Y. Mor. Well, of necessity it must be so.—
My lords, that I abhor base Gaveston
I hope your honours make no question.
And therefore, though I plead for his repeal,
'Tis not for his sake, but to our avail;
Nay, for the realm's behoof, and for the king's.
Lan. Fie, Mortimer, dishonour not thyself!
Can this be true, 'twas good to banish him?
And is this true, to call him home again?
Such reasons make white black, and dark night day.
Y. Mor. My Lord of Lancaster, mark the respect.
Lan. In no respect can contraries be true.
Q. Isab. Yet, good my lord, hear what he can allege.
War. All that he speaks is nothing; we are resolv'd.
Y. Mor. Do you not wish that Gaveston were dead?
Pem. I would he were!
Y. Mor. Why, then, my lord, give me but leave to speak.
E. Mor. But, nephew, do not play the sophister.
Y. Mor. This which I urge is of a burning zeal
To mend the king and do our country good.
Know you not Gaveston hath store of gold,
Which may in Ireland purchase him such friends
As he will front the mightiest of us all?
And whereas he shall live and be belov'd,
'Tis hard for us to work his overthrow.
War. Mark you but that, my lord of Lancaster.
Y. Mor. But, were he here, detested as he is,
How easily might some base slave be suborn'd
To greet his lordship with a poniard,
And none so much as blame the murderer,
But rather praise him for that brave attempt,
And in the chronicle enrol his name
For purging of the realm of such a plague!
Pem. He saith true.
Lan. Ay, but how chance this was not done before?
Y. Mor. Because, my lords, it was not thought upon.
Nay, more, when he shall know it lies in us
To banish him, and then to call him home,
'Twill make him vail the top flag of his pride,
And fear to offend the meanest nobleman.
E. Mor. But how if he do not, nephew?
Y. Mor. Then may we with some colour rise in arms;
For, howsoever we have borne it out,
'Tis treason to be up against the king;
So shall we have the people of our side,
Which, for his father's sake, lean to the king,
But cannot brook a night-grown mushroom,
Such a one as my Lord of Cornwall is,
Should bear us down of the nobility:
And, when the commons and the nobles join,
'Tis not the king can buckler Gaveston;
We'll pull him from the strongest hold he hath.
My lords, if to perform this I be slack,
Think me as base a groom as Gaveston.
Lan. On that condition Lancaster will grant.
War. And so will Pembroke and I.
E. Mor. And I.
Y. Mor. In this I count me highly gratified,
And Mortimer will rest at your command.
Q. Isab. And when this favour Isabel forgets,
Then let her live abandon'd and forlorn.—
But see, in happy time, my lord the king,
Having brought the Earl of Cornwall on his way,
Is new return'd. This news will glad him much:
Yet not so much as me; I love him more
Than he can Gaveston: would he lov'd me
But half so much! then were I treble-blest.
Re-enter KING EDWARD, mourning.
K. Edw. He's gone, and for his absence thus I mourn:
Did never sorrow go so near my heart
As doth the want of my sweet Gaveston;
And, could my crown's revenue bring him back,
I would freely give it to his enemies,
And think I gain'd, having bought so dear a friend.
Q. Isab. Hark, how he harps upon his minion!
K. Edw. My heart is as an anvil unto sorrow,
Which beats upon it like the Cyclops' hammers,
And with the noise turns up my giddy brain,
And makes me frantic for my Gaveston.
Ah, had some bloodless Fury rose from hell,
And with my kingly sceptre struck me dead,
When I was forc'd to leave my Gaveston!
Lan. Diablo, what passions call you these?
Q. Isab. My gracious lord, I come to bring you news.
K. Edw. That you have parled with your Mortimer?
Q. Isab. That Gaveston, my lord, shall be repeal'd.
K. Edw. Repeal'd! the news is too sweet to be true.
Q. Isab. But will you love me, if you find it so?
K. Edw. If it be so, what will not Edward do?
Q. Isab. For Gaveston, but not for Isabel.
K. Edw. For thee, fair queen, if thou lov'st Gaveston;
I'll hang a golden tongue about thy neck,
Seeing thou hast pleaded with so good success.
Q. Isab. No other jewels hang about my neck
Than these, my lord; nor let me have more wealth
Than I may fetch from this rich treasury.
O, how a kiss revives poor Isabel!
K. Edw. Once more receive my hand; and let this be
A second marriage 'twixt thyself and me.
Q. Isab. And may it prove more happy than the first!
My gentle lord, bespeak these nobles fair,
That wait attendance for a gracious look,
And on their knees salute your majesty.
K. Edw. Courageous Lancaster, embrace thy king;
And, as gross vapours perish by the sun,
Even so let hatred with thy sovereign's smile:
Live thou with me as my companion.
Lan. This salutation overjoys my heart.
K. Edw. Warwick shall be my chiefest counsellor:
These silver hairs will more adorn my court
Than gaudy silks or rich embroidery.
Chide me, sweet Warwick, if I go astray.
War. Slay me, my lord, when I offend your grace.
K. Edw. In solemn triumphs and in public shows
Pembroke shall bear the sword before the king.
Pem. And with this sword Pembroke will fight for you.
K. Edw. But wherefore walks young Mortimer aside?
Be thou commander of our royal fleet;
Or, if that lofty office like thee not,
I make thee here Lord Marshal of the realm.
Y. Mor. My lord, I'll marshal so your enemies,
As England shall be quiet, and you safe.
K. Edw. And as for you, Lord Mortimer of Chirke,
Whose great achievements in our foreign war
Deserve no common place nor mean reward,
Be you the general of the levied troops
That now are ready to assail the Scots.
E. Mor. In this your grace hath highly honour'd me,
For with my nature war doth best agree.
Q. Isab. Now is the king of England rich and strong,
Having the love of his renowmed peers.
K. Edw. Ay, Isabel, ne'er was my heart so light.—
Clerk of the crown, direct our warrant forth,
For Gaveston, to Ireland!
Enter BEAUMONT with warrant.
As fast as Iris or Jove's Mercury.
Beau. It shall be done, my gracious lord. [Exit.
K. Edw. Lord Mortimer, we leave you to your charge.
Now let us in, and feast it royally.
Against our friend the Earl of Cornwall comes
We'll have a general tilt and tournament;
And then his marriage shall be solemnis'd;
For wot you not that I have made him sure
Unto our cousin, the Earl of Glocester's heir?
Lan. Such news we hear, my lord.
K. Edw. That day, if not for him, yet for my sake,
Who in the triumph will be challenger,
Spare for no cost; we will requite your love.
War. In this or aught your highness shall command us.
K. Edw. Thanks, gentle Warwick. Come, lets in and revel. [Exeunt all except the elder Mortimer and the younger Mortimer.
E. Mor. Nephew, I must to Scotland; thou stay'st here.
Leave now to oppose thyself against the king:
Thou seest by nature he is mild and calm;
And, seeing his mind so dotes on Gaveston,
Let him without controlment have his will.
The mightiest kings have had their minions;
Great Alexander lov'd Hephæstion,
The conquering Hercules for Hylas wept,
And for Patroclus stern Achilles droop'd
And not kings only, but the wisest men;
The Roman Tully lov'd Octavius,
Grave Socrates wild Alcibiades.
Then let his grace, whose youth is flexible,
And promiseth as much as we can wish,
Freely enjoy that vain light-headed earl;
For riper years will wean him from such toys.
Y. Mor. Uncle, his wanton humour grieves not me;
But this I scorn, that one so basely-born
Should by his sovereign's favour grow so pert,
And riot it with the treasure of the realm,
While soldiers mutiny for want of pay.
He wears a lord's revenue on his back,
And, Midas-like, he jets it in the court,
With base outlandish cullions at his heels,
Whose proud fantastic liveries make such show
As if that Proteus, god of shapes, appear'd.
I have not seen a dapper Jack so brisk:
He wears a short Italian hooded cloak,
Larded with pearl, and in his Tuscan cap
A jewel of more value than the crown.
While others walk below, the king and he,
From out a window, laugh at such as we,
And flout our train, and jest at our attire.
Uncle, 'tis this that makes me impatient.
E. Mor. But, nephew, now you see the king is chang'd.
Y. Mor. Then so I am, and live to do him service:
But, whiles I have a sword, a hand, a heart,
I will not yield to any such upstart.
You know my mind: come, uncle, let's away. [Exeunt.