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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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    2555Enter Goaler, bringing forth Oldcastle.
    Goa. Bring forth the prisoners, see the Court prepar'd,
    The Justices are coming to the Bench:
    So, let him stand, away and fetch the rest.Exeunt.
    Cob. Oh give me patience to endure this scourge.
    2560Thou that art fountain of that vertuous stream,
    And though contempt of witness, and reproach
    Hang on these iron gives, to presse my life
    As low as earth, yet strengthen me with faith,
    That I may mount in spirit above the clouds.
    2565Enter Goaler, bringing in La. Cobham and Harpool.
    Here comes my Lady, sorrow 'tis for her.
    Thy wound is grievous, else I scoffe at thee,
    What and poor Harpool! art thou i'th'bryars too?
    Har. Ifaith my Lord, I am in, get out how I can.
    2570La. Say (gentle Lord) for now we are alone,
    And may conferre, shall we confesse in brief,
    Of whence, and what we are, and so prevent
    The accusation is commenc'd against us?
    Cob. What will that help us? Being known, sweet love,
    2575We shall for heresie be put to death,
    For so they term the Religion we professe.
    No, if we dye, let this our comfort be,
    That of the guilt impos'd our soules are free.
    Har. I, I my Lord, Harpool is so resolv'd,
    2580I wreak of death the lesse in that I dye,
    Not by the sentence of that envious Priest.
    La. Well, be it then according as heavens please.
    Enter L. Judge, Justices, Mayor of S. Albans, Lord
    Powis and his Lady, old Sir Richard Lee: the
    2585Judge and Justices take their places.
    Judg. Now Mr. Maior, what Gentleman is that
    You bring with you before us to the bench?
    May. The Lord Powis, if it like your honour,
    And this his Lady travelling toward Wales;
    2590Who, for they lodg'd last night within my house,
    And my Lord Bishop did lay wait for such,
    Were very willing to come on with me,
    Lest for their sakes, suspition we might wrong.
    Jud. We cry your honour mercy, good my Lord,
    2595Wilt please you take your place. Madam, your Ladyship
    May here, or where you will repose your self
    Until this businesse now in hand be past.
    La. Po. I will withdraw into some other room,
    So that your Lordship and the rest be pleas'd.
    2600Jud. With all our hearts: attend the Lady there.
    Pow. Wife, I have ey'd yon pris'ners all this while,
    And my conceit doth tell me, 'tis our friend
    The Noble Cobham, and his virtuous Lady.
    La. Po. I think no less, are they suspected for this mur-ther?
    2605Po. What it means
    I cannot tell, but we shall know anon:
    Mean time as you pass by them, ask the question,
    But do it secretly you be not seen,
    And make some sign, that I may know your mind.
    2610As she passeth over the stage by them.
    La. Po. My Lord Cobham? Madam?
    Cob. No Cobham now, nor Madam, as you love us,
    But Iohn of Lancashire, and Joan his wife.
    La. Po. Oh tell, what is it that our love can do,
    2615To pleasure you, for we are bound to you.
    Cob. Nothing but this, that you conceal our names;
    So, gentle Lady, passe for being spyed.
    La. Po. My heart I leave, to bear part of your grief.Exit
    Jud. Call the Prisoners to the Bar: sir Richard Lee,
    2620What evidence can you bring against these people,
    To prove them guilty of the murther done?
    Lee. This bloudy Towel, and these naked Knives,
    Beside, we found them sitting by the place,
    Where the dead body lay within a bush.
    2625Iud. What answer you why Law should not proceed,
    According to this evidence given in,
    To tax ye with the penalty of death?
    Cob. That we are free from murders very thought,
    And know not how the Gentleman was slain.
    26301. Iust. How came this linnen cloath so bloudy then?
    L. Cob. My husband hot with travelling, my Lord,
    His nose gusht out a bleeding, that was it.
    2. Iust. But how came your sharp edg'd knives un-
    2635L. Cob. To cut such simple victual as we had.
    Jud. Say we admit this answer to those Articles,
    What made you in so private a dark nook,
    So far remote from any common path,
    As was the thick where the dead corps was thrown?
    2640Cob. Journying, my Lord, from London, from the Term,
    Down into Lancashire, where we do dwell;
    And what with age, and travel being faint,
    We gladly sought a place where we might rest,
    Free from resort of other passengers,
    2645And so we stray'd into that secret corner.
    Iud. These are but ambages to drive off time,
    And linger justice from her purpos'd end.
    But who are these?
    Enter Constable with the Irish-man, Priest, and Doll.
    2650Con. Stay judgement, and release those innocents,
    For here is he whose hand hath done the deed,
    For which they stand endited at the Bar:
    This savage villain, this rude Irish slave,
    His tongue already hath confest the fact,
    2655And here is witnesse to confirm as much.
    Pri. Yes, my good Lord, no sooner had he slain
    His loving Master for the wealth he had,
    But I upon the instant met with him:
    And what he purchas'd with the losse of bloud,
    2660With strokes I presently bereav'd him of,
    Some of the which is spent, the rest remaining,
    I willingly surrender to the hands
    Of old Sir Richard Lee, as being his;
    Beside, my Lord Judge, I greet your honour
    2665With Letters from my Lord of Rochester.
    Delivers them.
    Lee. Is this the Wolf, whose thirsty throat did drink
    My dear Son's bloud? art thou the Snake
    He cherisht, yet with envious piercing sting
    2670Assaild'st him mortally? Were't not that the Law
    Stands ready to revenge thy cruelty,
    Traytor to God, thy Master, and to me,
    These hands should be thy executioner.
    Iud. Patience, sir Richard Lee, you shall have justice.
    2675The fact is odious, therefore take him hence,
    And being hang'd until the wretch be dead,
    His body after shall be hang'd in chains,
    Near to the place where he did act the murther.
    Irish. Prythee, Lord Shudge, let me have mine own
    2680cloathes, my strouces there, and let me be hang'd in a
    wyth after my country the Irish fashion.Exit.
    Iud. Go to, away with him. And now, sir Iohn,
    Although by you this murther came to light:
    Yet upright Law will not hold you excus'd,
    2685For you did rob the Irish-man, by which
    You stand attainted here of Fellony:
    Beside, you have been lewd, and many yeares
    Led a lascivious, unbeseeming life.
    Pri. O but, my Lord, sir Iohn repents, and he will mend.
    2690Iud. In hope thereof, together with the favour
    My Lord of Rochester intreats for you,
    We are content you shall be proved.
    Pri.I thank your good Lordship.
    Iud. These falsly here accus'd, and brought
    2695In peril wrongfully, we in like sort do set at liberty.
    Lee. And for amends,
    Touching the wrong unwittingly I have done,
    I give these few Crowns.
    Iud. Your kindnesse merits praise, sir Richard Lee,
    2700So let us hence.Exeunt all but L. Powess and Cobham.
    Pow. But Powess still must stay,
    There yet remains a part of that true love
    He owes his noble Friend, unsatisfied
    And unperform'd, which first of all doth bind me
    2705To gratulate your Lordship's safe delivery:
    And then intreat, that since unlookt for thus
    We here are met, your honour would vouchsafe
    To ride with me to Wales, where though my power,
    (Though not to quittance those great benefits
    2710I have receiv'd of you) yet both my house,
    My purse, my servants, and what else I have
    Are all at your command. Deny me not,
    I know the Bishop's hate pursues ye so,
    As there's no safety in abiding here.
    2715Cob. 'Tis true my Lord, and God forgive him for it.
    Pow. Then let us hence, you shall be straight provided
    Of lusty geldings: and once entred Wales,
    Well may the Bishop hunt, but spight his face,
    He never more shall have the game in chace.Exeunt.