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  • Title: The History of Sir John Oldcastle (Folio 3, 1664)
  • Editor: Michael Best

  • Copyright Internet Shakespeare Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-proift purposes; for all other uses contact the Coordinating Editor.
    Authors: Anonymous, Michael Drayton, Richard Hathway, Antony Munday, William Shakespeare, Robert Wilson
    Editor: Michael Best
    Not Peer Reviewed

    The History of Sir John Oldcastle (Folio 3, 1664)

    Enter Cobham and his Lady disguised.
    Cob. Come Madam, happily escapt, here let us sit,
    This place is far remote from any path,
    And here a while our weary limbs may rest,
    2400To take refreshing, free from the pursuit
    Of envious Rochester.
    La. But where, my Lord, shall we find rest for our
    disquiet minds?
    There dwell untamed thoughts that hardly stoop
    2405to such abasement of disdained rags:
    We were not wont to travel thus by night,
    Especially on foot.
    Cob. No matter, love, extremities admit no better choice:
    And were it not for thee, say froward time
    2410Impos'd a greater task, I would esteem it
    As lightly as the wind that blows upon us,
    But in thy sufferance I am doubly taskt,
    Thou wast not wont to have the earth thy stool,
    Nor the moist dewy grasse thy pillow, nor
    2415Thy chamber to be the wide Horizon.
    La. How can it seem a trouble, having you
    A partner with me, in the worst I feel?
    No gentle Lord, your presence would give ease
    To death it self, should he now seize upon me:
    Here's bread and cheese and a bottle.
    Behold what my fore-sight hath undertane
    For fear we faint, they are but homely Cates,
    Yet sawc'd with hunger, they may seem as sweet
    As greater dainties we were wont to taste.
    2425Cob. Praise be to him, whose plenty sends both this
    And all things else our mortal bodies need:
    Nor scorn we this poor feeding, nor the state
    We now are in, for what is it on earth,
    Nay under heaven, continues at a stay?
    2430Ebbs not the Sea, when it hath overflown?
    Follows not darknesse when the day is gone?
    And see we not sometime the eye of heaven
    Dim'd with ore-flying clouds? There's not that work
    Of carefull Nature, or of cunning Art,
    2435(How strong, how beauteous, or how rich it be)
    But falls in time to ruine: here, gentle Madam,
    In this one drauht I wash my sorrow down.
    La. And I encourag'd with your chearfull speech,
    Will do the like.
    2440Cob. Pray God poor Harpool come,
    If he should fall into the Bishops hands,
    Or not remember where we bad him meet us,
    It were the thing of all things else, that now
    Could breed revolt in this new peace of mind.
    2445La. Fear not, my Lord, he's witty to devise,
    And strong to execute a present shift.
    Cob. That power be still his guide hath guided us.
    My drowsie eyes wax heavy; early rising,
    Together with the travel we have had,
    2450Makes me that I could take a nap,
    Were I perswaded we might be secure.
    La. Let that depend on me, whilst you do sleep,
    I'le watch that no misfortune happen us.
    Cob. I shall, dear wife, be too much trouble to thee.
    Urge not that,
    My duty binds me, and your love commands,
    I would I had the skill with tuned voice
    To draw on sleep with some sweet melody,
    But imperfection and unaptnesse too
    2460Are both repugnant: fear inserts the one,
    The other nature hath denied me use.
    But what talk I of means, to purchase that
    Is freely happen'd? Sleep with gentle hand,
    Hath shut his eye-lids: Oh victorious labour,
    2465How soon thy power can charme the bodies sense?
    And now thou likewise climb'st unto my brain,
    Making my heavy temples stoop to thee,
    Great God of heaven from danger keep us free.
    Fall a
    Enter Sir Richard Lee and his men.
    2470Lee. A Murther closely done, and in my ground?
    Search carefully, if any where it were,
    This obscure thicket is the likeliest place.
    Ser. Sir, I have found the body stiff with cold
    And mangled cruelly with many wounds.
    2475Lee. Look if thou know'st him, turn his body up:
    Alack, it is my son, my son and heir,
    Whom two years since, I sent to Ireland,
    To practise there the discipline of war,
    And coming home, for so he wrote to me,
    2480Some savage heart, some bloudy devilish hand,
    Either in hate, or thirsting for his coin,
    Hath here sluc'd out his bloud. Unhappy hour,
    A cursed place, but most inconstant fate,
    That had'st reserv'd him from the bullets fire,
    2485And suffered him to scape the wood-kerns fury.
    Did'st here ordain the treasure of his life,
    Even here within the armes of tender peace,
    To be consum'd by treasons wastfull hand?
    And which is most afflicting to my soul,
    2490That this his death and murther should be wrought
    Without the knowledge by whose means 'twas done.
    2. Ser. Not so, sir, I have found the authors of it,
    See where they sit, and in their bloudy fists
    The fatal instruments of death and sin.
    2495Lee. Just judgement of that power, whose gracious eye,
    Loathing the sight of such a heinous fact,
    Dazling their senses with benumming sleep,
    Till their unhallowed treachery was known.
    Awake ye monsters, murtherers awake,
    2500Tremble for horror, blush you cannot choose,
    Beholding this unhumane deed of yours.
    Cob. What mean you, sir, to trouble weary souls,
    And interrupt us of our quiet sleep?
    Lee. Oh develish! can you boast unto your selves
    2505Of quiet sleep, having within your hearts
    The guilt of murder waking, that with cries
    Deafs the loud thunder, and solicits heaven
    With more then mandrakes shreeks for your offence?
    La. What murther? you upbraid us wrongfully.
    2510Lee. Can you deny the fact? See you not here,
    The body of my son by you misdone?
    Look on his wounds, look on his purple hue:
    Do we not find you where the deed was done?
    Were not your knives fast closed in your hands?
    2515Is not this cloth an argument beside,
    Thus stain'd and spotted with his innocent bloud?
    These speaking characters were there nothing else
    To plead against ye, would convict you both.
    To Hartford with them, where the Sizes now are kept,
    2520Their lives shall answer for my sons lost life.
    Cob. As we are innocent, so may we speed.
    Lee. As I am wrong'd, so may the Law proceed.