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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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    1675An alarum. Enter King, Suffolk, Huntington, Sir
    John bringing forth Acton, Beverly, and
    Murly prisoners.
    King. Bring in those Traitors, whose aspiring minds
    Thought to have triumpht in our overthrow:
    1680But now ye see, base villains, what successe
    Attends ill actions wrongfully attempted.
    Sir Roger Acton, thou retain'st the name
    Of Knight, and should'st be more discreetly temper'd
    Than joyn with pezants, Gentry is divine,
    1685But thou hast made it more then popular.
    Act. Pardon, my Lord, my conscience urg'd me to it
    Kin. Thy conscience? then conscience is corrupt,
    For in thy conscience thou art bound to us,
    And in thy conscience thou should'st love thy Countrey,
    1690Else what's the difference 'twixt a Christian,
    And the uncivil manners of the Turk?
    Bev. We meant no hurt unto your Majesty,
    But reformation of Religion.
    King.Reform Religion? was it that you sought?
    1695I pray who gave you that authority?
    Belike then we hold the Scepter up,
    And sit within the Throne, but for a Cipher.
    Time was, good Subjects would make known their grief,
    And pray amendment, not enforce the same,
    1700Unlesse their King were tyrant, which I hope
    You cannot justly say that Harry is,
    What is that other?
    Suf. A Malt-man, my Lord,
    And dwelling in Dunstable as he sayes.
    1705King. Sirrha, what made you leave your Barley broth,
    To come in armour thus against your King?
    Mur. Fie, paltry, paltry, to and fro, in and out upon oc-
    casion, what a world is this? Knighthood (my Liege)
    'twas Knighthood brought me hither, they told me I had
    1710wealth enough to make my Wife a Lady.
    Kin. And so you brought those horses which we saw,
    Trapt all in costly furniture, and meant
    To wear these Spurres when you were Knighted once.
    Mur. In and out upon occasion I did.
    1715Kin. In and out upon occasion, therefore you shall be
    hang'd, and in the stead of wearing these Spurres upon
    your heeles, about your neck they shall bewray your fol-
    ly to the world.
    Pri. In and out upon occasion, that goes hard.
    1720Mur. Fie, paltry, paltry, too and fro: good my Liege,
    a pardon, I am sorry for my fault.
    King. That comes too late: but tell me, went there
    none beside Sir Roger Acton, upon whom
    You did depend to be you Governour.
    1725Mur. None, my Lord, but Sir John Oldcastle.
    Enter Bishop.
    Kin. Beares he a part in this conspiracy.
    Act. We lookt, my Lord, that he would meet us here.
    King. But did he promise you that he would come.
    1730Act. Such Letters we received forth of Kent,
    Bish. Where is my Lord the King? health to your grace.
    Examining, my Lord, some of these Rebels,
    It is a generall voyce among them all,
    That they had never come into this place,
    1735But to have met their valiant Generall
    The good Lord Cobham as they title him:
    Whereby, my Lord, your Grace may now perceive,
    His Treason is apparant, which before
    He sought to colour by his flattery.
    1740King. Now by my Royalty I would have sworn,
    But for his conscience which I bear withall,
    There had not liv'd a more true hearted Subject.
    Bish. It is but counterfeit, my gracious Lord,
    And therefore may it please your Majesty,
    1745To set your hand unto this precept here,
    By which we'll cause him forthwith to appear,
    And answer this by order of the Law.
    Kin. Not onely that, but take Commission
    To search, attach, imprison, and condemn,
    1750This most notorious traitor as you please.
    Bish. It shall be done, my Lord, without delay:
    So now I hold Lord Cobham in my hand,
    That which shall finish thy disdained life.
    King. I think the Iron age begins but now,
    1755Which learned Poets have so often taught,
    Wherein there is no credit to be given
    To either words or looks, or solemn oaths:
    For if he were, how often hath he sworn,
    How gently tun'd the musick of his tongue,
    1760And with what amiable face beheld he me,
    When all, God knowes, was but hypocrisie.
    Enter Cobham.
    Cob. Long life and prosperous reign unto my Lord.
    Kin. Ah, villain, canst thou wish prosperity,
    1765Whose heart includeth nought but treachery?
    I do arrest thee here my self, false Knight,
    Of treason capitall against the state.
    Cob. Of treason, mighty Prince? your Grace mistakes,
    I hope it is but in the way of mirth.
    1770Kin. Thy neck shall feel it is in earnest shortly.
    Dar'st thou intrude into our presence, knowing
    How hainously thou hast offended us?
    But this is thy accustomed deceit.
    Now thou perceiv'st thy purpose is in vain,
    1775With some excuse or other thou wilt come
    To clear thy self of this Rebellion.
    Cob. Rebellion, good my Lord, I know of none.
    Kin. If you deny it, here is evidence,
    See you these men; you never counselled,
    1780Nor offered them assistance in their Warres.
    Cob. Speak, sirs, not one but all, I crave no favour,
    Have ever I been conversant with you?
    Or written Letters to encourage you?
    Or kindled but the least or smallest part
    1785Of this your late unnaturall Rebellion?
    Speak, for I dare the uttermost you can.
    Mur. In and out upon occasion, I know you not.
    King. No, didst thou not say, that Sir John Oldcastle
    Was one with whom you purposed to have met?
    1790Mur. True, I did say so, but in what respect,
    Because I heard it was reported so.
    King. Was there no other argument but that?
    Act. I must confesse we have no other ground
    But onely runour to accuse this Lord,
    1795Which now I see was meerly fabulous.
    Kin. The more pernitious you to taint him then,
    Whom you know was not faulty, yea or no.
    Cob. Let this, my Lord, which I present your Grace
    Speak for my loyalty, read these Articles,
    1800And then give sentence of my life or death.
    Kin. Earl Cambridge, Scroop, and Gray corrupted
    With bribes from Charles of France, either to win
    My Crown from me, or secretly contrive
    My death by Treason? Is't possible.
    1805Cob. There is the platforme, and their hands, my Lord,
    Each severally subscribed to the same.
    Kin. Oh never heard of base ingratitude!
    Even those I hug within my bosome most,
    Are readiest evermore to sting my heart.
    1810Pardon me, Cobham, I have done thee wrong,
    Hereafter I will live to make amends.
    Is then their time of meeting so near hand?
    We'll meet with them, but little for their ease,
    If God permit. Go take these Rebels hence,
    1815Let them have martiall law: but as for thee,
    Friend to thy King and Countrey, still be free.Exeunt.
    Mur. Be it more or lesse, what a world is this?
    Would I had continued still of the order of knaves,
    And ne're sought Knight-hood, since it costs
    1820So dear: Sir Roger, I may thank you for all.
    Acton. Now 'tis too late to have it remedied,
    I prethee, Murley, doe not urge me with it.
    Hun. Will you away, and make no more to doe?
    Mur. Fie paltry, paltry, too and fro, as occasion serves,
    1825If you be so hasty, take my place.
    Hun. No, good sir Knight, e'ne tak't your self.
    Mur. I could be glad to give my betters place.Exeunt.