Imatges de pÓgina

And therefore we must needs admit the means,

How things are perfected.

Ely. But, my good lord,

How now for mitigation of this bill

Urg'd by the commons? Doth his majesty
Incline to it, or no?

Cant. He seems indifferent;

Or, rather, swaying more upon our part,
Than cherishing the exhibiters against us:
For I have made an offer to his majesty,—
Upon our spiritual convocation;
And, in regard of causes now in hand,
Which I have open'd to his grace at large,

As touching France,-to give a greater sum
Than ever at one time the clergy yet

Did to his predecessors part withal.

Ely. How did this offer seem receiv'd, my lord?
Cant. With good acceptance of his majesty;
Save, that there was not time enough to hear
(As, I perceiv'd, his grace would fain have done,)
The severals, and unhidden passages,

Of his true titles to some certain dukedoms;
And, generally, to the crown and seat of France,
Deriv'd from Edward, his great grandfather.

Ely. What was the impediment that broke this off? Cant. The French ambassador, upon that instant, Crav'd audience: and the hour, I think, is come, To give him hearing: Is it four o'clock? Ely. It is.

Cant. Then go we in, to know his embassy; Which I could, with a ready guess, declare, Before the Frenchman speak a word of it.

Ely. I'll wait upon you; and I long to hear it.


SCENE II.-The same. A Room of State in the same.

K. Hen. Where is my gracious lord of Canterbury?
Exe. Not here in presence.

K. Hen. Send for him, good uncle.

West. Shall we call in the ambassador, my liege? K. Hen. Not yet, my cousin; we would be resolv'd, Before we hear him, of some things of weight, That task our thoughts, concerning us and France.

Enter the Archbishop of CANTERBURY and Bishop of ELY.

Cant. God, and his angels, guard your sacred throne, And make you long become it!

K. Hen. Sure, we thank you.

My learned lord, we pray you to proceed;

And justly and religiously unfold,

Why the law Salique, that they have in France,

Or should, or should not bar us in our claim.

And God forbid, my dear and faithful lord,

That you should fashion, wrest, or bow your reading,
Or nicely charge your understanding soul
With opening titles miscreate, whose right
Suits not in native colours with the truth;
For God doth know, how many, now in health,
Shall drop their blood in approbation

Of what your reverence shall incite us to:

Therefore take heed how you impawn our person,
How you awake the sleeping sword of war;
We charge you in the name of God, take heed:
For never two such kingdoms did contend,
Without much fall of blood; whose guiltless drops

Are every one a woe, a sore complaint,

'Gainst him, whose wrongs give edge unto the swords That make such waste in brief mortality. Under this conjuration, speak, my lord,

And we will hear, note, and believe in heart,

That what you speak is in your conscience wash'd

As pure as sin with baptism.

Cant. Then hear me, gracious sovereign, and you


That owe your lives, your faith, and services,

To this imperial throne ;-There is no bar

To make against your highness' claim to France,
But this, which they produce from Pharamond,—
In terram Salicam mulieres nè succedant,

No woman shall succeed in Salique land:
Which Salique land the French unjustly gloze,
To be the realm of France, and Pharamond
The founder of this law and female bar.
Yet their own authors faithfully affirm,
That the land Salique lies in Germany,

Between the floods of Sala and of Elbe:

Where Charles the great, having subdued the Saxons,

There left behind and settled certain French;
Who, holding in disdain the German women,
For some dishonest manners of their life,
Establish'd there this law,-to wit, no female
Should be inheritrix in Salique land;

Which Salique, as I said, 'twixt Elbe and Sala,
Is at this day in Germany call'd-Meisen.
Thus doth it well appear, the Salique law
Was not devised for the realm of France:
Nor did the French possess the Salique land
Until four hundred one and twenty years
After defunction of king Pharamond,
Idly suppos'd the founder of this law;

Who died within the year of our redemption
Four hundred twenty-six; and Charles the great,
Subdued the Saxons, and did seat the French

Beyond the river Sala, in the year

Eight hundred five. Besides, their writers say,
King Pepin, which deposed Childerick,
Did, as heir general, being descended

Of Blithild, which was daughter to king Clothair,
Make claim and title to the crown of France.
Hugh Capet also,—that usurp'd the crown
Of Charles the duke of Lorain, sole heir male
Of the true line and stock of Charles the great,
To fine his title with some show of truth,

(Though, in pure truth, it was corrupt and naught,)
Convey'd himself as heir to the lady Lingare,
Daughter to Charlemain, who was the son
To Lewis the emperor, and Lewis the son

Of Charles the great. Also king Lewis the tenth,
Who was sole heir to the usurper Capet,
Could not keep quiet in his conscience,
Wearing the crown of France, till satisfied
That fair queen Isabel, his grandmother,
Was lineal of the lady Ermengare,

Daughter to Charles the foresaid duke of Lorain:

By the which marriage, the line of Charles the great
Was re-united to the crown of France.

So that, as clear as is the summer's sun,
King Pepin's title, and Hugh Capet's claim,
King Lewis his satisfaction, all appear
To hold in right and title of the female:
So do the kings of France unto this day;
Howbeit they would hold up this Salique law,
To bar your highness claiming from the female ;
And rather choose to hide them in a net,
Than amply to imbare their crooked titles
Usurp'd from you and your progenitors.

K. Hen. May I, with right and conscience, make this claim?

Cant. The sin upon my head, dread sovereign!

For in the book of Numbers is it writ,—

When the son dies, let the inheritance
Descend unto the daughter. Gracious lord,
Stand for your own; unwind your bloody flag;
Look back unto your mighty ancestors:

Go, my dread lord, to your great grandsire's tomb,
From whom you claim; invoke his warlike spirit,
And your great uncle's, Edward the black prince;
Who on the French ground play'd a tragedy,
Making defeat on the full power of France;
Whiles his most mighty father on a hill
Stood smiling, to behold his lion's whelp
Forage in blood of French nobility.

O noble English, that could entertain
With half their forces the full pride of France;
And let another half stand laughing by,

All out of work, and cold for action!

Ely. Awake remembrance of these valiant dead,

« AnteriorContinua »