Act the Second - Scene II
Enter KING EDWARD, QUEEN ISABELLA, KENT, LANCASTER, the younger MORTIMER, WARWICK, PEMBROKE, and Attendants.
K. Edw. The wind is good; I wonder why he stays:
I fear me he is wreck'd upon the sea.
Q. Isab. Look, Lancaster, how passionate he is,
And still his mind runs on his minion!
Lan. My lord,—
K. Edw. How now! what news? is Gaveston arriv'd?
Y. Mor. Nothing but Gaveston! what means your grace?
You have matters of more weight to think upon:
The King of France sets foot in Normandy.
K. Edw. A trifle! we'll expel him when we please.
But tell me, Mortimer, what's thy device
Against the stately triumph we decreed?
Y. Mor. A homely one, my lord, not worth the telling.
K. Edw. Pray thee, let me know it.
Y. Mor. But, seeing you are so desirous, thus it is;
A lofty cedar tree, fair flourishing,
On whose top branches kingly eagles perch,
And by the bark a canker creeps me up,
And gets unto the highest bough of all;
The motto, Æque tandem.
K. Edw. And what is yours, my Lord of Lancaster?
Lan. My lord, mine's more obscure than Mortimer's.
Pliny reports, there is a flying-fish
Which all the other fishes deadly hate,
And therefore, being pursu'd, it takes the air:
No sooner is it up, but there's a fowl
That seizeth it: this fish, my lord, I bear;
The motto this, Undique mors est.
Kent. Proud Mortimer! ungentle Lancaster!
Is this the love you bear your sovereign?
Is this the fruit your reconcilement bears?
Can you in words make show of amity,
And in your shields display your rancorous minds?
What call you this but private libelling
Against the Earl of Cornwall and my brother?
Q. Isab. Sweet husband, be content; they all love you.
K. Edw. They love me not that hate my Gaveston.
I am that cedar; shake me not too much;
And you the eagles; soar ye ne'er so high,
I have the jesses that will pull you down;
And Æque tandem shall that canker cry
Unto the proudest peer of Britainy.
Thou that compar'st him to a flying-fish,
And threaten'st death whether he rise or fall,
'Tis not the hugest monster of the sea,
Nor foulest harpy, that shall swallow him.
Y. Mor. If in his absence thus he favours him,
What will he do whenas he shall be present?
Lan. That shall we see: look, where his lordship come!
K. Edw. My Gaveston!
Welcome to Tynmouth! welcome to thy friend!
Thy absence made me droop and pine away;
For, as the lovers of fair Danaë,
When she was lock'd up in a brazen tower,
Desir'd her more, and wax'd outrageous,
So did it fare with me: and now thy sight
Is sweeter far than was thy parting hence
Bitter and irksome to my sobbing heart.
Gav. Sweet lord and king, your speech preventeth mine;
Yet have I words left to express my joy:
The shepherd, nipt with biting winter's rage,
Frolics not more to see the painted spring
Than I do to behold your majesty.
K. Edw. Will none of you salute my Gaveston?
Lan. Salute him! yes.—Welcome, Lord Chamberlain!
Y. Mor. Welcome is the good Earl of Cornwall!
War. Welcome, Lord Governor of the Isle of Man!
Pem. Welcome, Master Secretary!
Kent. Brother, do you hear them?
K. Edw. Still will these earls and barons use me thus?
Gav. My lord, I cannot brook these injuries.
Q. Isab. Ay me, poor soul, when these begin to jar! [Aside.
K. Edw. Return it to their throats; I'll be thy warrant.
Gav. Base, leaden earls, that glory in your birth,
Go sit at home, and eat your tenants' beef;
And come not here to scoff at Gaveston,
Whose mounting thoughts did never creep so low
As to bestow a look on such as you.
Lan. Yet I disdain not to do this for you. [Draws his sword, and offers to stab Gaveston.
K. Edw. Treason! treason! where's the traitor?
Pem. Here, here!
K. Edw. Convey hence Gaveston; they'll murder him.
Gav. The life of thee shall salve this foul disgrace.
Y. Mor. Villain, thy life! unless I miss mine aim. [Wounds Gaveston.
Q. Isab. Ah, furious Mortimer, what hast thou done.
Y. Mor. No more than I would answer, were he slain. [Exit Gaveston with Attendants.
K. Edw. Yes, more than thou canst answer, though he live:
Dear shall you both abide this riotous deed:
Out of my presence! come not near the court.
Y. Mor. I'll not be barr'd the court for Gaveston.
Lan. We'll hale him by the ears unto the block.
K. Edw. Look to your own heads; his is sure enough.
War. Look to your own crown, if you back him thus.
Kent. Warwick, these words do ill beseem thy years.
K. Edw. Nay, all of them conspire to cross me thus:
But, if I live, I'll tread upon their heads
That think with high looks thus to tread me down.
Come, Edmund, let's away, and levy men:
'Tis war that must abate these barons' pride. [Exeunt King Edward, Queen Isabella, and Kent.
War. Let's to our castles, for the king is mov'd.
Y. Mor. Mov'd may he be, and perish in his wrath!
Lan. Cousin, it is no dealing with him now;
He means to make us stoop by force of arms:
And therefore let us jointly here protest
To prosecute that Gaveston to the death.
Y. Mor. By heaven, the abject villain shall not live!
War. I'll have his blood, or die in seeking it.
Pem. The like oath Pembroke takes.
Lan. And so doth Lancaster.
Now send our heralds to defy the king;
And make the people swear to put him down.
[Enter a Messenger.]
Y. Mor. Letters! from whence?
Mes. From Scotland, my lord. [Giving letters to Mortimer.
Lan. Why, how now, cousin! how fare all our friends?
Y. Mor. My uncle's taken prisoner by the Scots.
Lan. We'll have him ransom'd, man: be of good cheer.
Y. Mor. They rate his ransom at five thousand pound.
Who should defray the money but the king,
Seeing he is taken prisoner in his wars?
I'll to the king.
Lan. Do, cousin, and I'll bear thee company.
War. Meantime my Lord of Pembroke and myself
Will to Newcastle here, and gather head.
Y. Mor. About it, then, and we will follow you.
Lan. Be resolute and full of secrecy.
War. I warrant you. [Exit with Pembroke.
Y. Mor. Cousin, an if he will not ransom him,
I'll thunder such a peal into his ears
As never subject did unto his king.
Lan. Content; I'll bear my part.—Hollo! who's there?
Y. Mor. Ay, marry, such a guard as this doth well.
Lan. Lead on the way.
Guard. Whither will your lordships?
Y. Mor. Whither else but to the king?
Guard. His highness is dispos'd to be alone.
Lan. Why, so he may; but we will speak to him.
Guard. You may not in, my lord.
Y. Mor. May we not?
Enter KING EDWARD and KENT.
K. Edw. How now!
What noise is this? who have we here? is't you? [Going.
Y. Mor. Nay, stay, my lord; I come to bring you news;
Mine uncle's taken prisoner by the Scots.
K. Edw. Then ransom him.
Lan. 'Twas in your wars; you should ransom him.
Y. Mor. And you will ransom him, or else—
Kent. What, Mortimer, you will not threaten him?
K. Edw. Quiet yourself; you shall have the broad seal,
To gather for him th[o]roughout the realm.
Lan. Your minion Gaveston hath taught you this.
Y. Mor. My lord, the family of the Mortimers
Are not so poor, but, would they sell their land,
'Twould levy men enough to anger you.
We never beg, but use such prayers as these.
K. Edw. Shall I still be haunted thus?
Y. Mor. Nay, now you are here alone, I'll speak my mind.
Lan. And so will I; and then, my lord, farewell.
Y. Mor. The idle triumphs, masks, lascivious shows,
And prodigal gifts bestow'd on Gaveston,
Have drawn thy treasury dry, and made thee weak;
The murmuring commons, overstretched, break.
Lan. Look for rebellion, look to be depos'd:
Thy garrisons are beaten out of France,
And, lame and poor, lie groaning at the gates;
The wild Oneil, with swarms of Irish kerns,
Lives uncontroll'd within the English pale;
Unto the walls of York the Scots make road,
And, unresisted, drive away rich spoils.
Y. Mor. The haughty Dane commands the narrow seas,
While in the harbour ride thy ships unrigg'd.
Lan. What foreign prince sends thee ambassadors?
Y. Mor. Who loves thee, but a sort of flatterers?
Lan. Thy gentle queen, sole sister to Valois,
Complains that thou hast left her all forlorn.
Y. Mor. Thy court is naked, being bereft of those
That make a king seem glorious to the world,
I mean the peers, whom thou shouldst dearly love;
Libels are cast against thee in the street;
Ballads and rhymes made of thy overthrow.
Lan. The northern borderers, seeing their houses burnt,
Their wives and children slain, run up and down,
Cursing the name of thee and Gaveston.
Y. Mor. When wert thou in the field with banner spread,
But once? and then thy soldiers march'd like players,
With garish robes, not armour; and thyself,
Bedaub'd with gold, rode laughing at the rest,
Nodding and shaking of thy spangled crest,
Where women's favours hung like labels down.
Lan. And thereof came it that the fleering Scots,
To England's high disgrace, have made this jig;
Maids of England, sore may you mourn,
For your lemans you have lost at Bannocksbourn,—
With a heave and a ho!
What weeneth the king of England
So soon to have won Scotland!—
With a rombelow!
Y. Mor. Wigmore shall fly, to set my uncle free.
Lan. And, when 'tis gone, our swords shall purchase more.
If you be mov'd, revenge it as you can:
Look next to see us with our ensigns spread. [Exit with Y. Mortimer.
K. Edw. My swelling heart for very anger breaks:
How oft have I been baited by these peers,
And dare not be reveng'd, for their power is great!
Yet, shall the crowning of these cockerels
Affright a lion? Edward, unfold thy paws,
And let their lives'-blood slake thy fury's hunger.
If I be cruel and grow tyrannous,
Now let them thank themselves, and rue too late.
Kent. My lord, I see your love to Gaveston
Will be the ruin of the realm and you,
For now the wrathful nobles threaten wars;
And therefore, brother, banish him for ever.
K. Edw. Art thou an enemy to my Gaveston?
Kent. Ay; and it grieves me that I favour'd him.
K. Edw. Traitor, be gone! whine thou with Mortimer.
Kent. So will I, rather than with Gaveston.
K. Edw. Out of my sight, and trouble me no more!
Kent. No marvel though thou scorn thy noble peers,
When I thy brother am rejected thus.
K. Edw. Away! [Exit Kent.
Poor Gaveston, thou hast no friend but me!
Do what they can, we'll live in Tynmouth here;
And, so I walk with him about the walls,
What care I though the earls begirt us round?
Here comes she that is cause of all these jars.
Enter QUEEN ISABELLA, with EDWARD'S NIECE, two Ladies, GAVESTON, BALDOCK, and the younger SPENSER.
Q. Isab. My lord, 'tis thought the earls are up in arms.
K. Edw. Ay, and 'tis likewise thought you favour 'em.
Q. Isab. Thus do you still suspect me without cause.
Niece. Sweet uncle, speak more kindly to the queen.
Gav. My lord, dissemble with her; speak her fair.
K. Edw. Pardon me, sweet; I forgot myself.
Q. Isab. Your pardon is quickly got of Isabel.
K. Edw. The younger Mortimer is grown so brave,
That to my face he threatens civil wars.
Gav. Why do you not commit him to the Tower?
K. Edw. I dare not, for the people love him well.
Gav. Why, then, we'll have him privily made away.
K. Edw. Would Lancaster and he had both carous'd
A bowl of poison to each other's health!
But let them go, and tell me what are these.
Niece. Two of my father's servants whilst he liv'd:
May't please your grace to entertain them now.
K. Edw. Tell me, where wast thou born? what is thine arms?
Bald. My name is Baldock, and my gentry
I fetch from Oxford, not from heraldry.
K. Edw. The fitter art thou, Baldock, for my turn.
Wait on me, and I'll see thou shalt not want.
Bald. I humbly thank your majesty.
K. Edw. Knowest thou him, Gaveston.
Gav. Ay, my lord;
His name is Spenser; he is well allied:
For my sake let him wait upon your grace;
Scarce shall you find a man of more desert.
K. Edw. Then, Spenser, wait upon me for his sake:
I'll grace thee with a higher style ere long.
Y. Spen. No greater titles happen unto me
Than to be favour'd of your majesty!
K. Edw. Cousin, this day shall be your marriage feast:
And, Gaveston, think that I love thee well,
To wed thee to our niece, the only heir
Unto the Earl of Glocester late deceas'd.
Gav. I know, my lord, many will stomach me;
But I respect neither their love nor hate.
K. Edw. The headstrong barons shall not limit me;
He that I list to favour shall be great.
Come, let's away; and, when the marriage ends,
Have at the rebels and their complices! [Exeunt.