Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed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,
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.Writes.
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.Exit.
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.Exeunt.
Enter Earle of Cambridge, Lord Scroop, Gray,
and Chartres the French Factor.
990Scr. Once more, my Lord of Cambridge, make rehersal
How you do stand intitled to the Crown,
The deeper shall we print it in our minds,
And every man the better be resolv'd,
When he perceiv's his quarrel to be just.
995Cam. Then thus, Lord Scroop, Sir Thomas Grey & you
Mounsieur de Chartes, Agent for the French.
This Lionel Duke of Clarence (as I said)
Third son of Edward (England's King) the third,
Had issue Philip his sole daughter and heir;
1000Which Philip, afterward was given in marriage
To Edmund Mortimer the Earle of March,
And by him had a son call'd Roger Mortimer;