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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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    The History of Sir John Oldcastle,
    1925That being near me, you may comfort me.
    One solace find I setled in my soul,
    That I am free from Treasons very thought,
    Onely my conscience for the Gospels sake,
    Is cause of all the troubles I sustain.
    1930La. O, my dear Lord, what shall betide of us?
    You to the Tower, and I turn'd out of doors,
    Our substance seiz'd unto his Highnesse use,
    Even to the garments longing to our backs.
    Har. Patience, good Madam, things at worst will mend,
    1935And if they do not, yet our lives may end.
    Bish. Urge it no more, for if an Angel spake,
    I swear by sweet S. Peter's blessed keyes,
    First goes he to the Tower, then to the stake.
    Crom. But by your leave, this warrant doth not stretch
    1940To imprison her.
    Bish. No, turn her out of doors,
    Even as she is, and lead him to the Tower,
    With guard enough, for fear of rescuing.
    La. O God requite thee thou bloud-thirsty man.
    1945Cob. May it not be, my Lord of Rochester?
    Wherein have I incurr'd your hate so far,
    That my appeal unto the King's deny'd.
    Bish. No hate of mine, but power of holy Church,
    Forbids all favour to false Hereticks.
    1950Cob.Your private malice more then publick power,
    Strikes most at me, but with my life it ends.
    Har. aside. O that I had the Bishop in that fear
    That once I had his Sumner by our selves.
    Cro. My Lord, yet grant one suit unto us all,
    1955That this same ancient servingman may wait
    Upon my Lord his master in the Tower.
    Bish. This old iniquity, this heretick?
    That in contempt of our Church discipline,
    Compel'd my Sumner to devour his Processe?
    1960Old ruffian past-grace, upstart schismatick,
    Had not the King pray'd us to pardon ye,
    Ye had fryed for't, ye grizeled heretick.
    Har. Sblood, my Lord Bishop, ye wrong me, I am
    neither Heretick nor Puritan, but of the old Church, I'le
    1965swear, drink ale, kiss a wench, go to mass, eat fish all
    Lent, and fast Frydayes with cakes and wine, fruit and
    spicery, shrive me of my old sinnes afore Easter, and be-
    gin new before Whitsontide.
    Cro. A merry mad conceited knave, my Lord.
    1970Har. That knave was simply put upon the Bishop.
    Bish. Well, God forgive him, and I pardon him:
    Let him attend his master in the Tower,
    For I in charity wish his soul no hurt.
    Cob. God bless my soul from such cold charity.
    1975Bish. To th'Tower with him, & when my leisure serves
    I will examine him of Articles;
    Look, my Lord Warden, as you have in charge
    The Shrieve perform his office.
    War. I, my Lord.
    Enter Sumner with Books.
    1980Bish. What bring'st thou there? what, books of heresie?
    Sum. Yea, my Lord, here's not a Latine Book,
    No not so much as our Ladies Psalter:
    Here's the Bible, the Testament, the Psalmes in meeter,
    The sick-man's salve, the Treasure of Gladness,
    1985All English, no not so much but the Almanack's English.
    Bish. Away with them, to th'fire with them, Clun,
    Now fie upon these upstart Hereticks.
    All English, burn them, burn them quickly, Clun.
    Harp. But do not, Sumner, as you'll answer it, for I
    1990have there English books, my Lord, that I'le not part
    withall for your Bishoprick, Bevis of Hampton, Owle-
    glasse, The Fryer and the Boy, Ellen of Rumming, Ro-
    bin-hood, and other such godly stories, which if you burn,
    by this flesh I'le make ye drink their ashes in S. Marget's
    Enter the Bishop of Rochester, with his men in Livery Coats.
    1. Ser. Is it your honours we shall stay,
    Or come back in the afternoon to fetch you.
    Bish. Now have ye brought me here unto the Tower,
    2000You may go back unto the Porter's lodge,
    Where if I have occasion to employ you,
    I'le send some officer to call you to me.
    Into the City go not, I command you,
    Perhaps I may have present need to use you.
    20052. We will attend your honour here without.
    3. Come, we may have a quart of wine at the Rose at
    Barking, and come back an hour before he'll go.
    1.We must hie us then.
    3. Let's away.Exeunt.
    2010Bish. Ho, Mr. Lievtenant.
    Liev. Who calls there?
    Bish. A friend of yours.
    Liev. My Lord of Rochester? your honour's welcome.
    Bish. Sir, here's my warrant from the counsel,
    2015For conference with Sir John Oldcastle,
    Upon some matter of great consequence.
    Liev. Ho, Sir John.
    Har. Who calls there?
    Liev. Harpool, tell sir John, that my Lord of Rochester
    2020Comes from the counsel to confer with him,
    I think you may as safe without suspition.
    As any man in England as I hear,
    For it was you most labour'd his commitment.
    Bish. I did, sir, and nothing repent it I assure you.
    2025Enter Sir John Oldcastle.
    Mr. Lievtenant, I pray you give us leave,
    I must confer here with sir John a little.
    Liev. With all my heart, my Lord.
    Har. aside. My Lord, be rul'd by me, take this occasion
    2030while it is offered, & on my life your Lordship will escape.
    Cob. No more I say, peace lest he should suspect it.
    Bish. Sir John, I am come to you from the Lords of
    the Counsel, to know if you do recant your errours.
    Cob. My Lord of Rochester, on good advice.
    2035I see my errour; but yet understand me,
    I mean not errour in the Faith I hold,
    But errour in submitting to your pleasure,
    Therefore your Lordship without more to do,
    Must be a means to help me to escape.
    2040Bish. What means, thou heretick?
    Dar'st thou but lift thy hand against my calling?
    Cob. No, not to hurt you for a thousand pound.
    Har. Nothing but to borrow your upper garment a
    little, not a word more, peace for waking the children;
    2045there, put on, dispatch, my Lord, the window that goes
    out into the Leads is sure enough: as for you, I'le bind
    you surely in the inner room.
    Cob. This is well begun, God send us happy speed,
    Hard shift you see men make in time of need.
    2050Enter servingmen again.
    1. I marvel that my Lord should stay so long.
    2. He hath sent to seek us I dare lay my life.
    3. We come in good time, see where he is coming.
    Har. I beseech you, good my Lord of Rochester, be
    2055favourable to my Lord and master.
    Cob. The