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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    Not Peer Reviewed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 Bishop, Lord Warden, Cromer the Shreeve,
    Lady Cobham and attendants.
    1830Bish. I tell ye, Lady, it's impossible
    But you should know where he conveyes himself,
    And you have hid him in some secret place.
    La. My Lord, believe me, as I have a soule,
    I know not where my Lord my Husband is.
    1835Bish. Go to, go, ye are an Heretick,
    And will be forc't by torture to confesse,
    If fair meanes will not serve to make you tell.
    La. My Husband is a noble Gentleman,
    And need not hide himself for any fact
    1840That e're I heard of, therefore wrong him not,
    Bish. Your husband is a dangerous Schismatick,
    Traitor to God, the King, and Commonwealth,
    And therefore, M. Cromer, Shreeve of Kent,
    I charge you take her to your custody,
    1845And seize the goods of Sir John Oldcastle
    To the Kings use; let her go in no more,
    To fetch so much as her apparell out,
    There is your warrant from his Majesty.
    L. War. Good my Lord Bishop, pacifie your wrath
    1850Against the Lady.
    Bish. Then let her confesse
    Where Oldcastle her husband is conceal'd.
    L. War. I dare engage mine honour and my life,
    Poor Gentlewoman, she is ignorant
    1855And innocent of all his practices
    If any evil by him be practised.
    Bish. If, my Lord Warden? Nay then I charge you,
    That all Cinque-ports whereof you are chief,
    Be laid forthwith, that he escapes us not.
    1860Shew him his Highnesse warrant, M. Sheriffe.
    L. War. I am sorry for the Noble Gentleman.
    Bish. Peace, he comes here, now do your office,
    Enter Harpoole and Oldcastle.
    Cob. Harpoole, what businesse have we here in hand?
    1865What makes the Bishop and the Sheriffe here?
    I fear my comming home is dangerous,
    I would I had not made such haste to Cobham.
    Har. Be of good cheer, my Lord, if they be foes,
    we'll scramble shrewdly with them: if they be friends
    1870they are welcome.
    Cro. Sir John Oldcastle Lord Cobham, in the Kings
    name, I arrest ye of high treason.
    Cob. Treason, M. Cromer?
    Har.Treason, M. Sheriffe, what Treason?
    1875Cob. Harpoole, I charge thee stirre not, but be quiet.
    Do ye arrest me of Treason, M. Sheriffe?
    Bish. Yea, of high Treason, Traitor, Heretick.
    Cob. Defiance in his face that calls me so,
    I am as true a loyall Gentleman
    1880Unto his Highnesse, as my proudest enemy,
    The King shall witnesse my late faithfull service,
    For safety of his sacred Majesty.
    Bish. What thou art, the Kings hand shall testifie,
    Shew him, Lord Warden.
    1885Cob. Jesu defend me,
    Is't possible your cunning could so temper
    The Princely disposition of his minde,
    To sign the damage of a royall Subject?
    Well, the best is, it beares an antedate,
    1890Procured by my absence and your malice.
    But I, since that, have shew'd my self as true,
    As any Churchman that dare challenge me.
    Let me be brought before his Majesty,
    If he acquit me not, then doe your worst.
    1895Bish. We are not bound to doe kinde offices,
    For any traitor, schismatick, nor heretick:
    The Kings hand is our warrant for our work,
    Who is departed on his way for France,
    And at Southampton doth repose this night.
    1900Har. O that thou and I were within twenty miles of
    it, on Salisbury plain! I would lose my head if thou
    brought'st thy head hither again.Aside.
    Cob. My Lord Warden o'th Cinque-ports, and Lord
    of Rochester, ye are joynt Commissioners, favour me so
    1905much on my expence, to bring me to the King.
    Bish. VVhat, to Southampton?
    Cob. Thither, my good Lord,
    And if he doe not clear me of all guilt,
    And all suspicion of conspiracy,
    1910Pawning his Princely warrant for my truth:
    I aske no favour, but extreamest torture.
    Bring me, or send me to him, good my Lord,
    Good my Lord VVarden, M. Shrieve entreat.
    They both entreat for me.
    1915Come hither, Lady, nay sweet wife, forbear
    To heap one sorrow on anothers neck:
    'Tis grief enough falsely to be accus'd,
    And not permitted to acquit my self,
    Doe not thou with thy kinde respective teares,
    1920Torment thy husbands heart that bleeds for thee:
    But be of comfort, God hath help in store
    For those that put assured trust in him.
    Dear VVife, if they commit me to the Tower,
    Come up to London to your sisters house:
    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.