Act the Third - Scene II
Enter KING EDWARD, the younger SPENSER, BALDOCK, Noblemen of the king's side, and Soldiers with drums and fifes.
K. Edw. I long to hear an answer from the barons
Touching my friend, my dearest Gaveston.
Ah, Spenser, not the riches of my realm
Can ransom him! ah, he is mark'd to die!
I know the malice of the younger Mortimer;
Warwick I know is rough, and Lancaster
Inexorable; and I shall never see
My lovely Pierce of Gaveston again:
The barons overbear with me their pride.
Y. Spen. Were I King Edward, England's sovereign,
Son to the lovely Eleanor of Spain,
Great Edward Longshanks' issue, would I bear
These braves, this rage, and suffer uncontroll'd
These barons thus to beard me in my land,
In mine own realm? My lord, pardon my speech:
Did you retain your father's magnanimity,
Did you regard the honour of your name,
You would not suffer thus your majesty
Be counterbuff'd of your nobility.
Strike off their heads, and let them preach on poles:
No doubt, such lessons they will teach the rest,
As by their preachments they will profit much,
And learn obedience to their lawful king.
K. Edw. Yes, gentle Spenser, we have been too mild,
Too kind to them; but now have drawn our sword,
And, if they send me not my Gaveston,
We'll steel it on their crest[s], and poll their tops.
Bald. This haught resolve becomes your majesty,
Not to be tied to their affection,
As though your highness were a school-boy still,
And must be aw'd and govern'd like a child.
Enter the elder SPENSER with his truncheon, and Soldiers.
E. Spen. Long live my sovereign, the noble Edward,
In peace triumphant, fortunate in wars!
K. Edw. Welcome, old man: com'st thou in Edward's aid?
Then tell thy prince of whence and what thou art.
E. Spen. Low, with a band of bow-men and of pikes,
Brown bills and targeteers, four hundred strong,
Sworn to defend King Edward's royal right,
I come in person to your majesty,
Spenser, the father of Hugh Spenser there,
Bound to your highness everlastingly
For favour done, in him, unto us all.
K. Edw. Thy father, Spenser?
Y. Spen. True, an it like your grace,
That pours, in lieu of all your goodness shown,
His life, my lord, before your princely feet.
K. Edw. Welcome ten thousand times, old man, again!
Spenser, this love, this kindness to thy king,
Argues thy noble mind and disposition.
Spenser, I here create thee Earl of Wiltshire,
And daily will enrich thee with our favour,
That, as the sunshine, shall reflect o'er thee.
Beside, the more to manifest our love,
Because we hear Lord Bruce doth sell his land,
And that the Mortimers are in hand withal,
Thou shalt have crowns of us t'outbid the barons;
And, Spenser, spare them not, lay it on.—
Soldiers, a largess, and thrice-welcome all!
Y. Spen. My lord, here comes the queen.
Enter QUEEN ISABELLA, PRINCE EDWARD, and LEVUNE.
K. Edw. Madam, what news?
Q. Isab. News of dishonour, lord, and discontent.
Our friend Levune, faithful and full of trust,
Informeth us, by letters and by words,
That Lord Valois our brother, King of France,
Because your highness hath been slack in homage,
Hath seized Normandy into his hands:
These be the letters, this the messenger.
K. Edw. Welcome, Levune.—Tush, Sib, if this be all,
Valois and I will soon be friends again.—
But to my Gaveston: shall I never see,
Never behold thee now!—Madam, in this matter
We will employ you and your little son;
You shall go parley with the King of France.—
Boy, see you bear you bravely to the king,
And do your message with a majesty.
P. Edw. Commit not to my youth things of more weight
Than fits a prince so young as I to bear;
And fear not, lord and father,—heaven's great beams
On Atlas' shoulder shall not lie more safe
Than shall your charge committed to my trust.
Q. Isab. Ah, boy, this towardness makes thy mother fear
Thou art not mark'd to many days on earth!
K. Edw. Madam, we will that you with speed be shipp'd,
And this our son; Levune shall follow you
With all the haste we can despatch him hence.
Choose of our lords to bear you company;
And go in peace; leave us in wars at home.
Q. Isab. Unnatural wars, where subjects brave their king:
God end them once!—My lord, I take my leave,
To make my preparation for France. [Exit with Prince Edward.
K. Edw. What, Lord Arundel, dost thou come alone?
Arun. Yea, my good lord, for Gaveston is dead.
K. Edw. Ah, traitors, have they put my friend to death?
Tell me, Arundel, died he ere thou cam'st,
Or didst thou see my friend to take his death?
Arun. Neither, my lord; for, as he was surpris'd,
Begirt with weapons and with enemies round,
I did your highness' message to them all,
Demanding him of them, entreating rather,
And said, upon the honour of my name,
That I would undertake to carry him
Unto your highness, and to bring him back.
K. Edw. And, tell me, would the rebels deny me that?
Y. Spen. Proud recreants!
K. Edw. Yea, Spenser, traitors all!
Arun. In found them at the first inexorable;
The Earl of Warwick would not bide the hearing,
Mortimer hardly; Pembroke and Lancaster
Spake least; and when they flatly had denied,
Refusing to receive me pledge for him,
The Earl of Pembroke mildly thus bespake;
"My lord, because our sovereign sends for him,
And promiseth he shall be safe return'd,
I will this undertake, to have him hence,
And see him re-deliver'd to your hands."
K. Edw. Well, and how fortunes [it] that he came not?
Y. Spen. Some treason or some villany was cause.
Arun. The Earl of Warwick seiz'd him on his way;
For, being deliver'd unto Pembroke's men,
Their lord rode home, thinking his prisoner safe;
But, ere he came, Warwick in ambush lay,
And bare him to his death; and in a trench
Strake off his head, and march'd unto the camp.
Y. Spen. A bloody part, flatly 'gainst law of arms!
K. Edw. O, shall I speak, or shall I sigh and die!
Y. Spen. My lord, refer your vengeance to the sword
Upon these barons; hearten up your men;
Let them not unreveng'd murder your friends:
Advance your standard, Edward, in the field,
And march to fire them from their starting-holes.
K. Edw. [kneeling.] By earth, the common mother of us all,
By heaven, and all the moving orbs thereof,
By this right hand, and by my father's sword,
And all the honours 'longing to my crown,
I will have heads and lives for him as many
As I have manors, castles, towns, and towers!— [Rises.
Treacherous Warwick! traitorous Mortimer!
If I be England's king, in lakes of gore
Your headless trunks, your bodies will I trail,
That you may drink your fill, and quaff in blood,
And stain my royal standard with the same,
That so my bloody colours may suggest
Remembrance of revenge immortally
On your accursed traitorous progeny,
You villains that have slain my Gaveston!—
And in this place of honour and of trust,
Spenser, sweet Spenser, I adopt thee here;
And merely of our love we do create thee
Earl of Glocester and Lord Chamberlain,
Despite of times, despite of enemies.
Y. Spen. My lord, here's a messenger from the barons
Desires access unto your majesty.
K. Edw. Admit him near.
Enter Herald with his coat of arms.
Her. Long live King Edward, England's lawful lord!
K. Edw. So wish not they, I wis, that sent thee hither:
Thou com'st from Mortimer and his complices:
A ranker rout of rebels never was.
Well, say thy message.
Her. The barons, up in arms, by me salute
Your highness with long life and happiness;
And bid me say, as plainer to your grace,
That if without effusion of blood
You will this grief have ease and remedy,
That from your princely person you remove
This Spenser, as a putrifying branch
That deads the royal vine, whose golden leaves
Empale your princely head, your diadem;
Whose brightness such pernicious upstarts dim,
Say they, and lovingly advise your grace
To cherish virtue and nobility,
And have old servitors in high esteem,
And shake off smooth dissembling flatterers:
This granted, they, their honours, and their lives,
Are to your highness vow'd and consecrate.
Y. Spen. Ah, traitors, will they still display their pride?
K. Edw. Away! tarry no answer, but be gone!—
Rebels, will they appoint their sovereign
His sports, his pleasures, and his company?—
Yet, ere thou go, see how I do divorce [Embraces young Spenser.
Spenser from thee. Now get thee to thy lords,
And tell them I will come to chastise them
For murdering Gaveston: hie thee, get thee gone!
Edward, with fire and sword, follows at thy heels. [Exit Herald.
My lord[s], perceive you how these rebels swell?—
Soldiers, good hearts! defend your sovereign's right,
For, now, even now, we march to make them stoop.
Away![Exeunt. Alarums, excursions, a great fight, and a retreat sounded, within.