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SCENE I.- A STREET IN LONDON
Enter GAVESTON, reading a letter.
AV. “My father is deceased ! Come, Gaveston,
And share the kingdom with thy dearest friend.”
Ah! words that make me surfeit with delight!
What greater bliss can hap to Gaveston
Than live and be the favourite of a king !
Sweet prince, I come; these, these thy amorous lines
Might have enforced me to have swum from France,
And, like Leander, gasped upon the sand,
So thou would'st smile, and take me in thine arms.
The sight of London to my exiled eyes
Is as Elysium to a new-come soul;
Not that I love the city, or the men,
But that it harbours him I hold so dear -
The king, upon whose bosom let me lie,
And with the world be still at enmity.
What need the arctic people love starlight,
To whom the sun shines both by day and night?
Farewell base stooping to the lordly peers!
My knee shall bow to none but to the king.
As for the multitude, that are but sparks,
Raked up in embers of their poverty ; -
Tanti; I'll fawn first on the wind
That glanceth at my lips, and flieth away.
But how now, what are these?
Enter three Poor Men.
Men. Such as desire your worship's service.
Gav. What canst thou do?
First P. Man. I can ride.
Gav. But I have no horse. What art thou?
Second P. Man. A traveller.
Gav. Let me see thou would'st do well
To wait at my trencher and tell me lies at dinner-time;
And as I like your discoursing, I'll have you.
And what art thou?
Third P. Man. A soldier, that hath served against the Scot.
Gav. Why, there are hospitals for such as you ;
I have no war, and therefore, sir, begone.
Third P. Man. Farewell, and perish by a soldier's hand, That would'st reward them with an hospital.
Gav, Ay, ay, these words of his move me as much
As if a goose would play the porcupine,
And dart her plumes, thinking to pierce my breast.
But yet it is no pain to speak men fair;
I'll flatter these, and make them live in hope.
[Aside You know that I came lately out of France, And
yet I have not viewed my lord the king ; If I speed well, I'll entertain you all.
All. We thank your worship.
Gav. I have some business. Leave me to myself.
All. We will wait here about the court.
Gav. Do; these are not men for me :
I must have wanton poets, pleasant wits,
Musicians, that with touching of a string
May draw the pliant king which way I please.
Music and poetry is his delight;
Therefore I'll have Italian masks by night,
Sweet speeches, comedies, and pleasing shows;
And in the day, when he shall walk abroad,
Like sylvan nymphs my pages shall be clad;
My men, like satyrs grazing on the lawns,
Shall with their goat-feet dance the antic hay."
Sometime a lovely boy in Dian's shape,
With hair that gilds the water as it glides,
Crownets of pearl about his naked arms,
And in his sportful hands an olive-tree,
To hide those parts which men delight to see,
Shall bathe him in a spring; and there hard by,
One like Actæon peeping through the grove,
Shall by the angry goddess be transformed,
And running in the likeness of an hart
By yelping hounds pulled down, shall seem to die;
Such things as these best please his majesty.
Here comes my lord the king, and the nobles
From the parliament. I'll stand aside.
[Retires. 1 Or heydeguy, a rural dance.
Enter KING EDWARD, LANCASTER, the Elder MORTIMER, Young
MORTIMER, KENT, WARWICK, PEMBROKE, and Attendants.
K. Edw. Lancaster !
Lan. My lord.
Gav. That Earl of Lancaster do I abhor.
K. Edw. Will you not grant me this? In spite of them
I'll have my will; and these two Mortimers,
That cross me thus, shall know I am displeased. [Aside.
E. Mor. If you love us, my lord, hate Gaveston.
Gav. That villain Mortimer! I'll be his death. [Aside.
Y. Mor. Mine uncle here, this earl, and I myself,
Were sworn to your father at his death,
That he should ne'er return into the realm :
And know, my lord, ere I will break my oath,
This sword of mine, that should offend your foes,
Shall sleep within the scabbard at thy need,
And underneath thy banners march who will,
For Mortimer will hang his armour up.
Gav. Mort dieu !
K. Edw. Well, Mortimer, I'll make thee rue these words.
Beseems it thee to contradict thy king?
Frown'st thou thereat, aspiring Lancaster?
The sword shall plane the furrows of thy brows,
And hew these knees that now are grown so stiff.
I will have Gaveston; and you shall know
What danger 'tis to stand against your king.
Gav. Well done, Ned!
[Aside. Lan. My lord, why do
thus incense your peers,
That naturally would love and honour you
But for that base and obscure Gaveston?
Four earldoms have I, besides Lancaster -
Derby, Salisbury, Lincoln, Leicester,
These will I sell, to give my soldiers pay,
Ere Gaveston shall stay within the realm ;
Therefore, if he be come, expel him straight.
Kent. Barons and earls, your pride hath made me mute;
But now I'll speak, and to the proof, I hope.
I do remember, in my father's days,
Lord Percy of the north, being highly moved,
Braved Moubery in presence of the king;
For which, had not his highness loved him well,
He should have lost his head ; but with his look
The undaunted spirit of Percy was appeased,
And Moubery and he were reconciled :
Yet dare you brave the king unto his face.
Brother, revenge it, and let these their heads
Preach upon poles, for trespass of their tongues.
War. O, our heads !
K. Edw. Ay, yours; and therefore I would wish you grant -
War. Bridle thy anger, gentle Mortimer.
Y. Mor. I cannot, nor I will not; I must speak.
Cousin, our hands I hope shall fence our heads,
And strike off his that makes you threaten us.
Come, uncle, let us leave the brain-sick king,
And henceforth parley with our naked swords.
E. Mor. Wiltshire hath men enough to save our heads.
War. All Warwickshire will love him for my sake.
Lan. And northward Gaveston hath many friends. -
Adieu, my Lord; and either change your mind,
Or look to see the throne, where you should sit,
To float in blood ; and at thy wanton head,
The glozing head of thy base minion thrown.
[Exeunt all except KING EDWARD, KENT, GAVESTON
K. Edw. I cannot brook these haughty menaces ;
Am I a king, and must be overruled ?
Brother, display my ensigns in the field;
I'll bandy' with the barons and the earls,
And either die or live with Gaveston.
Gav. I can no longer keep me from my lord.
K. Edw. What, Gaveston ! welcome !— Kiss not my hand
Embrace me, Gaveston, as I do thee.
Why should'st thou kneel? know'st thou not who I am?
Thy friend, thyself, another Gaveston !
Not Hylas was more mourned of Hercules,
Than thou hast been of me since thy exile.
Gav. And since I went from hence, no soul in hell Hath felt more torment than poor Gaveston.
K. Edw. I know it. — Brother, welcome home my friend. Now let the treacherous Mortimers conspire, And that high-minded Earl of Lancaster : I have my wish, in that I joy thy sight; And sooner shall the sea o'erwhelm my land, Than bear the ship that shall transport thee hence. I here create thee Lord High Chamberlain, Chief Secretary to the state and me,
Contend. The expression is no doubt borrowed from the old game of bandy-ball, which was similar to golf.
Earl of Cornwall, King and Lord of Man.
Gav. My lord, these titles far exceed my worth.
Kent. Brother, the least of these may well suffice For one of greater birth than Gaveston.
K. Edw. Cease, brother; for I cannot brook these words.
Thy worth, sweet friend, is far above my gifts,
Therefore, to equal it, receive my heart;
If for these dignities thou be envied,
I'll give thee more; for, but to honour thee,
Is Edward pleased with kingly regiment.
Fear'st thou thy person? thou shalt have a guard :
Wantest thou gold ? go to my treasury :
Wouldst thou be loved and feared ? receive my seal;
Save or condemn, and in our name command
Whatso thy mind affects, or fancy likes.
Gav. It shall suffice me to enjoy your love,
Which whiles I have, I think myself as great
As Cæsar riding in the Roman street,
With captive kings at his triumphant car.
Enter the BISHOP of COVENTRY.
K. Edw. Whither goes my lord of Coventry so fast?
B. of Cov. To celebrate your father's exequies.
But is that wicked Gaveston returned ?
K. Edw. Ay, priest, and lives to be revenged on thee, That wert the only cause of his exile.
Gav. 'Tis true; and but for reverence of these robes,
Thou should'st not plod one foot beyond this place.
B. of Cov. I did no more than I was bound to do;
And, Gaveston, unless thou be reclaimed,
As then I did incense the parliament,
So will I now, and thou shalt back to France.
Gav. Saving your reverence, you must pardon me.
K. Edw. Throw off his golden mitre, rend his stole, And in the channel christen him anew.
Kent. Ah, brother, lay not violent hands on him ! For he'll complain unto the see of Rome.
Gav. Let him complain unto the see of hell ;
I'll be revenged on him for my exile.
K. Edw. No, spare his life, but seize upon his goods :
Be thou lord bishop and receive his rents,
And make him serve thee as thy chaplain :
I give him thee - here, use him as thou wilt.