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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    Not Peer Reviewed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 King Harry, Suffolk, M. Butler, Old-
    castle kneeling to the King.
    King. 'Tis not enough, Lord Cobham, to submit,
    865You must forsake your grosse opinion;
    The Bishops find themselves much injured,
    And though for some good service you have done,
    We for our part are pleas'd to pardon you,
    Yet they will not so soon be satisfied.
    870Cob. My gracious L rd, unto your Majesty,
    Next unto my God, I owe my life;
    And what is mine, either by Natures gift,
    Or fortunes bounty, all is at your service.
    But for obedience to the Pope of Rome,
    875I ow him none; nor shall his shaveling Priests
    That are in England, alter my belief.
    If out of holy Scripture they can prove
    That I am in an error, I will yield,
    And gladly take instruction at their hands:
    880But otherwise, I do beseech your Grace,
    My conscience may not be incroach'd upon.
    King. We would be loath to press our subjects bodies.
    Much lesse their souls, the deer redeemed part
    Of him that is the Ruler of us all:
    885Yet let me counsel you, that might command;
    Do not presume to tempt them with ill words,
    Nor suffer any meetings to be had
    Within your house, but to the uttermost
    Disperse the flocks of this new gathering sect.
    890Cob. My Liege, if any breath that dares come forth,
    And say, my life in any of these points
    Deserves th'attainder of ignoble thoughts:
    Here stand I, craving no remorse at all,
    But even the utmost rigour may be shown.
    895King. Let it suffice we know your loyalty,
    What have you there?
    Cob. A Deed of clemency,
    Your highnesse pardon for Lord Powess life,
    Which I did beg, and you my Noble Lord,
    900Of gracious favour did vouchsafe to grant.
    King. But yet it is not signed with our hand.
    Cob. Not yet, my Liege.
    King. The fact you say was done
    Not of pretensed malice, but by chance.
    905Cob. Upon mine Honour so, no otherwise.
    King. There is his pardon, bid him make amends,
    And cleanse his soul to God for his offence,
    What we remit, is but the bodies scourge.
    How now, Lord Bishop?
    Enter Bishop.
    910Bish. Justice dread Soveraigne,
    As thou art King, so grant I may have Justice.
    King. What means this exclamation? Let us know.
    Bish. Ah, my good Lord, the State's abus'd,
    And our Decrees most shamefully prophan'd.
    915King. How? Or by whom?
    Bish. Even by this Heretick,
    This Jew, this Traitor to your Majesty.
    Cob. Prelate, thou lyest, even in thy greasie maw,
    Or whosoever twit's me with the name
    920Of either Traitor, or of Heretick.
    King. Forbear I say: and Bishop, shew the cause
    From whence this late abuse hath been deriv'd.
    Bish. Thus mighty King: by general consent
    A messenger was sent to scite this Lord
    925To make appearance in the Consistory:
    And coming to his house, a Ruffian slave,
    One of his daily followers, met the man,
    Who knowing him to be a Parator
    Assaults him first, and after in contempt
    930Of us, and our proceedings, makes him eat
    The written Process, parchment, Seal and all:
    Whereby this matter neither was brought forth,
    Nor we but scorn'd for our authority.
    King. When was this done?
    935Bish. At six a clock this morning.
    King. And when came you to Court?
    Cob. Last night, my Liege.
    King. By this it seems he is not guilty of it,
    And you have done him wrong t'accuse him so.
    940Bish. But it was done, my Lord, by his appointment,
    Or else his man durst not have been so bold.
    King. Or else you durst be bold ot interrupt
    And fill our ears with frivolous complaints.
    Is this the duty you do bear to us?
    945Was't not sufficient we did Passe our word
    To send for him, but you misdoubting it,
    Or which is worse, intending to forestall
    Our Regal power, must likewise summon him?
    This savours of Ambition, not of zeal,
    950And rather proves you malice his estate,
    Then any way that he offends the Law.
    Go too, we like it not: and he your Officer
    Had his desert for being insolent,
    Enter Huntington.
    955That was imployed so much amisse herein.
    So Cobham when you please, you may depart.
    Cob. I humbly bid farewell unto my Liege.
    King. Farewell: what's the news by Huntington?
    Hun. Sir Roger Acton, and a crew (my Lord)
    960Of bold sedetious Rebells, are in Armes,
    Intending reformation of Religion.
    And with their Army they intend to pitch
    In Ficket field, unlesse they be repuls't.
    King. So near our presence? Dare they be so bold?
    965And will proud War and eager thirst of bloud,
    Whom we had thought to entertain far off,
    Press forth upon us in our Native bounds?
    Must we be forc'd to hansel our sharp blades
    In England here, which we prepar'd for France?
    970Well, a Gods name be it. What's their Number? say,
    Or who's the chief Commander of this Rowt?
    Hun. Their number is not known, as yet my Lord,
    But 'tis reported, Sir John Oldcastle
    Is the chief man, on whom they do depend.
    975 King.How? the Lord Cobham?
    Hun. Yes, my gracious Lord.
    Bish. I could have told your Majesty as much
    Before he went, but that I saw your Grace
    Was too much blinded by his flattery.
    980Suf. Send post, my Lord, to fetch him back again.
    But. Traitor unto his Country, how he smooth'd
    And seem'd as innocent as Truth it self?
    King. I cannot think it yet he would be false:
    But if he be, no matter, let him go,
    985We'll meet both him and them unto their woe.
    Bish. This falls out well, and at the last I hope
    To see this heretick die in a rope.