Act II


Scene i

(Northumbria - the court) [1]


Enter Osric, Theodric, Theodwald, Eaufrid and attendants. [2]



Osric. (Carrying Bertha's portrait)

Let your dispatches instantly be sent

Through all the kingdom to incite the people

(As many as are mine, or would be thought so)

To express with me their joy, for the enjoying

Of the so long desired happiness,                                                                                  5

In this [3] our beauteous and magnificent Queen.


Theodwald. (To Attendants)

See that through all the cities, towns and villages,

With solemn feasts and public sign of joy,

They celebrate a day for these glad tidings.


Eaufrid. (To Attendants)

Post every way, that the third day from this                                                                    10

The general joy may sound and shine through all

The kingdom.



That's with bells and bonfires.[4]


Theodwald and Eaufrid. (Together)



Exeunt Attendants.



And now my lords, I must require your care

To set down a fit order for our journey

Unto this Queen, to perfect my world's bliss.                                                     15

I would not fail in the least article

Of state or decency in this affair.

Provide so that we may in all appear

Worthy th' achievement of our fair ambition.

And let our followers be chosen such,                                                               20

Whose inward worth no less than outward show,

May make us glorious in this expedition.

Do speedily and effectually. Good my lords,

The time hasts on.


Theodwald and Eaufrid. (Together)

      Our duty shall prevent [5] it.



Methinks the silent picture seems to say,                                                                        25

'Tis fit I should anticipate a day, (Exeunt Theodwald and Eaufrid)

Rather than lose one minute from that light,

Whose very shadow is so angel bright. [6]



But when your Highness shall behold, nay more

Shall touch, nay more and nearer shall embrace,                                                            30

Nay more and nearer yet, enfold and handle,

Nay more and nearest of all, enjoy

The lively (that's too little) heavenly substance

Of this poor imaginary, which is as short,

As far inferior to the life,                                                                                                35

As a weak starlight to the midday sun.



O do not ravish me with expectation.

This is a way to make each hour until

I shall enjoy my bliss, a tedious night,

Each night a death. Yet can I not desire                                                                         40

To shift the argument off our discourse.

Did she appear so fair, so lovely?




Suppose you see a glorious firmament,

Bedecked with heavenly Stars: so shines her court

With ladies might be thought of matchless beauty,                                                          45

Striking mere human sight with admiration.

Imagine now you see break through a veil

Amidst those stars, though heavenly lesser beauties,

The bright Cynthia [7] in her full of lustre.

So this no less to be comparèd Queen,                                                              50

Shines above beauty to an human eye,

That is not mixed with powerful majesty.

You may behold her your divinity;

My King may comprehend what can befit

Me only to confess, I do admire.                                                                                   55



O thou art mine. In such a Queen

And such a servant never was king so blessed.

But are there in her court (although inferior

To her, more excellent) such special beauties,

And in my Theodric's apprehension?                                                                             60

You have made choice of one, then?




I have seen one so agreeable to my affection

Above all the rest, I cannot but confess

I strove to be her servant.



     Doubtless then,

She was a fair one. Theodric, never fear,                                                                       65

She is thine own: myself will be thy spokesman,

If she be worthy of thee.



    For fair virtue,

With all the graces which adorn the mind,

In best opinion, she's unparalleled

By any subject lady (I must ever                                                                                   70

Allow supremacy unto the Queen),

And for her person, it appears in all,

Most answerable to her face. Of which, here is

Th' exactest copy that I could get drawn,

And without flattery, by the Queen's own limner. [8]                                                         75



Pray let me see't. (Theodric hands Mildred's portrait to Osric)

   Indeed it is a sweet one.

Did he that drew this of the Queen, draw that?



With the same hand.



         But not with the same colours.

Trust me, they're much unlike: he wrongs the Queen

And merits her displeasure even to death,                                                                      80

T' advance a servant's beauty 'bove her own.



What says your Majesty?



      Keep off a little,

You stand just in my light. (Aside) And so he does,

'Twixt me and the prime beauty of the world.

But I'll be even with him, [9] and cause my picturer [10]                                                       85

To set this crown upon this head, [11] and then—

Fie! [12] What a fancy's [13] this? He will perceive me.

But now I note this forehead, and this brow,

This eye, this lip—

(lets fall the portrait of Bertha)



You have let fall the Queen, sir.                                     90

(takes up the portrait of Bertha)



I cry her mercy. (Aside) What a shame it is

That I should fall in his discovery?

Are courts so fraught with fraud and flattery?

And, can a king that governs such professors [14]

No whit dissemble, [15] to obscure his passions?                                                  95

I must, and thus begin to practise it.

Theodric, didst thou note my contemplation

Over these pictures?



          I could but perceive

Your Highness viewing them well. And I have learned

To make no search into my Sovereign's thoughts.                                                          100



Thou art ever modest. Thus it was, Theodric.

(Protest [16] it rapt [17] me 'bove the pitch of mortals)

First, to consider what an absolute beauty

This Queen has in herself; but then to gather

The circumstances, many such as this,                                                               105

As thou affirmst, inferior lights to her,

That shine about her, rendering her more glorious,

Lights her above affection, to an height

That claims her adoration. Then, marvel not

That now, when this but in effigy                                                                                    110

Was but placed by her, by which her majesty

So much the more appeared, I could not hold

This figure of that all to be commanding beauty

When my high thoughts were fled up to her presence.

Now take thy piece of craftsmanship again,                                                                   115

Which trust me is a pretty one, whilst I

Devote my service to this deity.

(Gives Theodric Bertha's portrait)



Sir, you have given me the Queen's picture.



Ha! What a mistake was here? But thou art honest,

And covetest but thy own; take it Theodric.                                                                   120

Now, tell me of what house or parentage

Your mistress is.



    I told you first her virtues,

Her person next, and by this her beauty,

Which you are pleased to deem not much amiss.



'Tis such, Theodric, that had I not seen                                                              125

This [18] so much above it (pardon my hypocrisy)

I should have envied any man but thee

In such a choice. But speak her parentage.



That's all her blemish.



Is she of tainted blood?



You search with kingly wisdom. She is daughter                                                            130

To that bold obstinate baron I informed you of,

Whom the Queen, in her just displeasure, banished.



Thy love to her may hereafter plead for him.

But soft, [19] I am not well.



  Heaven bless the King.

Who waits within [20] there?



    Tarry, [21] let me see                                                               135

That picture once again. It wants exceedingly

Of this in many things.



 I should want judgement

Not to grant that.



    Here it wants palpably:

The drooping of the brow; and here again

The dullness of the eye, which here shows deadly,                                                         140

But for a little squint it has. Good Queen

You look asquint. [22] Then look you sir, your wants.

You shall not hear me neither, cause I will not

Spoil your conceit of it. Your lady wants

The furious sharpness of the nose, which here                                                    145

My Queen has very shrewly. [23] And again,

You haven't the hanging of the nether lip,

Which the best physiognomists [24] do tell us

Shows women apt to lust, and strong incontinence. [25]

Phew! This is all too sweet for mortal sense.                                                                  150

Here, take't again, and keep mine for me with it.

Lay 'em together, th' one may mend the tother. [26]



I have known women oft marry one another;

Their pictures may perhaps have greater virtue.



I am not well. What kind of changeling [27] am I?                                                             155

A wild confusion rumbles in my brain,

My thoughts are all at strife.



How fares your Highness?



       Sick, sick, Theodric.



Retire, sir, to your couch.


Enter Theodwald and Eaufrid.


Theodwald and Eaufrid. (Together)

     Where is my lord the King?



Here yet, my lords.



       The King's not well.                                                                       160



We have provided for your Highness's journey,

In such a sort as never King went forth.



Whither, to Heaven my lords?



  Yes, to the Queen.

Lovers count marriage Heaven before they wed,

But afterwards I know what some have said.                                                     165

Oh, this is your honeymoon. Yes, yes, you

Shall to Heaven, your Heaven as you call it,

In such a royal manner. See the order.



Pray, peace.



       You do not well to vex the King;

You see he's sick.



     Sick? Marry! [28] Heaven forbid!                                                        170



Sick o' the wife before he has her.

Come, a very troth-plight qualm, [29] into your chamber,

And as we find you, we'll ourselves bestir.



Who waits within there? Call the King's physicians.


Exeunt omnes.




Scene ii [30]

(Northumbria - beyond the court)

A shout within, the sound of music and bells. Enter Four clowns [31] with tools.



First clown.

And what's the reason of all this merry glee?


Second clown.

The King's, the King, man, [32] must be married.


Third clown.

And must he have a wife?


Second clown.

A wife? A Queen, man, and all the wives in her dominion must be his

commonwealth, and under us. [33]                                                                                    5


Fourth Clown.

O brave. [34]


Second clown.

And we must son and daughter it [35] upon their nation.


Fourth clown.

That will be brave indeed.


First clown.

O but where is Jeffrey, jolly Jeffrey, now? The prick [36] and praise, the

very prick and praise, and prime spark of our parish, to set our bonfires             10

and our mirth a blazing.


Third clown.

The bells a ringing, and the bowls a trowling, [37] the fiddlers fumbling

and tumbling. O Jeffrey, where art thou Jeffrey?


Second clown.

He's at hand I warrant you, he went but to church e'en now.


Fourth clown.

What, to pray at such a time as this?                                                                              15


Second clown.

No, but to help to rear [38] the tenor, [39] and will come presently.


Third clown.

That's to be born withal. It is indeed a devilish lop-heavy [40] bell.

I would the churchwarden that should have mended it when he robbed

the poor, were hanged in its place.


Second clown.

There said you well. The curate could say almost as much when 'twas. [41]                       20

But it makes no matter what he says, I see little amended.


Third clown.

Whoop! Here comes Jeffrey, sweating in these affairs.


Enter Jeffrey. [42]



The great bells of our town, they tingle, they tangle, they jingle, they

jangle, the tenor of them [43] goes merrily.


Fourth clown.

O Jeffrey, welcome Jeffrey.                                                                                           25



And shall we have a Queen?



So they say, Jeffrey. O the bravest [44] woman!



Take heed o' that, woman did you say? Take heed, I give you warning:

no man must know she is a woman but the King himself. But, a brave

Queen she is they say, and loves a man with all her heart. Where art                  30

O Queen? We'll make thee such an holy day, [45] as shall justle [46] all the

working days out of our almanac. [47] It shall be said that we will work no

more till thy seventh son, [48] O Queen, who must be born a prophet, shall

foretell the age to come, shall not have a true labourer or honest workman in it.



First clown.

So, we may make a long holiday indeed.                                                                       35



Let work no more be thought on, we will revel it out of remembrance,

we will not cease our joy to sleep, for fear we dream of work again.

Down with your profane tools and implements of husbandry, [49] the very

sight of 'em dishonours our new holy day.


First clown.

But Jeffrey, our masters grudge to give us wood enough to make a                                40

beaking [50] bonfire.





Second clown.

They say 'tis waste.



Not wood to make a bonfire? Your sheeplocks, [51] flails, spades, shovels,

rakes and pitchforks, shall all be made a bonfire.                                                           45


Second clown.

And so we may be sure to make holiday till we get new ones.



The maids shall bring their rocks, [52] their wheels and reels, [53] their tubs,

their pails and buttocks.


Fourth clown.

Buckets, thou wouldst say.



Where was my mind? Their buckets shall they bring, wash-bowls and                50

butter-churns, their bucking-tubs,[54] baskets and battledores, [55] and all be

made a bonfire for the Queen.


Third clown.

My mother will not let her household stuff go so.



We'll burn her for a witch [56] then with all her trash, and her thatched

mansion too about her ears, but we will show our zeal unto the Queen               55

in fire sufficient.



Ah, good boy.



'Sfoot, [57] if our masters do rebel against us now majesty's on our side,

and not give fuel, when we mean to give fire, as duty binds, we'll have

their carts, by th' arfs, [58] hardles, [59] wheelbarrows, the ploughs and                                60

harrows, and the whips, because the beasts shall play too; only, we'll spare

Their racks [60] and mangers. All that's made of wood belonging to our work

besides, shall perish, shall perish, I have said it. Not the politic [61]

molecatcher's staff shall 'scape the flame. Not low us wood? We'll drink

up all the drink to the Queen's health, And burn the hogsheads, barrels,              65

kilderkins, [62] firkins and rundlets, [63] all to the wooden dish shall smoke

for't in our bonfire for the Queen.



Good boy, again.


First clown.

But where shall we make this huge and monstrous bonfire?



Here, here, just here, in this very place, I come to mark the ground.                               70

Here it shall blaze up to the heavens, and we will roast our town bull at it,

with a thousand puddings in his belly.



Ah, good Jeffrey still.



Nothing too dear to signify our loves to the King and Queen. Let

us bestir us therefore, and enact this as a law amongst us, that he that                 75

does not gall [64] his hands today with ringing shall be hanged up in the bell

rope; and he that is not soundly liquored by night shall be made fuel for our

bonfire; such dry rascals will burn better than heretics. [65] And last of all, he

that does not keep his wench waking, in the way that we wot [66] of, till tomorrow milking time, shall either be gelt, [67] or else led through the town by that which        80

shall be nameless [68] in a cleft stick. And so God save the Queen.


First clown.

And the King too.



The King we make no doubt of, we have prayed for him these seven years. [69]



A Jeffrey, a Jeffrey. [70]


Enter a Constable and Alfrid.



Whither away my friends?                                                                                             85



To make the bravest bonfire that ever blazed since Troy, [71] or that which

the tyrant emperor warmed his hands at. [72]



You must forbear.



We must forbear, what Hebrew's [73] that? We understand not what must

forbear means.                                                                                                  90



You must forbear to make your bonfire.



Must? That word had never been named had all been Jeffrey. We must

forbear to set our loves on fire unto the King? Dost thou not feel thyself,

O man, whate'er thou art, becoming a traitor? Knowst thou the words thou

speakest against the King?                                                                                            95



I know what I do speak, and what I am.


First clown.

It is the Constable.



I know my office too, by virtue whereof I charge you in the King's name,

lay by your sports and pastimes; I'll lay you by the heels else. Will you, sir,

know a reason? The King is sick.                                                                                  100



Then let us drink his health.



He is sick exceedingly.



Then let us drink exceedingly.



He's sick even unto death.



Then let us ring our bells for that, and make a funeral bonfire.                             105



I say no drinking at all, no bells, nor no bonfires; it is his Majesty's command.



I say his Majesty's first word shall stand for bells and bonfires, though

we set the town a fire, and ring the bells backwards.



Ye will not be all hanged, will ye? See, here's a gentleman and a courtier

that so signifies his Majesty's pleasure.                                                               110



A gentleman and a courtier, where be they? I see but one.



Sir, I am both.



What monsters are bred in Africa? I take you but for one at most; well,

for the gentleman that you are, thus I salute you; now for the courtier that

is within you, I must wait upon it here; this posterior posture [74] did I learn

of a spaniel [75] whose name was 'Courtier'. Now let me tell you, master              115

gentleman and courtier, that we are sorry that sickness should make our

King and master so fickle-headed as to cross our sports thus, that we meant

to have made him such an holiday as might, have proved more worth to him

than a wife and twenty sicknesses besides. Yet, can we not be so sorry for

his sickness as that it was his mishap to play mock holiday with us.                     120



The King shall know your loves, and for your part master speaker.



Your friend and Jeffrey.



Then Jeffrey be it, I'll promise you preferment, if you will up to court with me.



Up to the gallows, shall I not? [76]



My life for thine. And thou shalt not deny me; here's gold in earnest, take it.       125

The King's disease is melancholy, and thou mayst do him more good than a

whole college of physicians.


Jeffrey. (Aside)

He takes me for a fool, I'll make a venture on't. The best is, many a fool has

thrived at court, and the worst is, I am not the first that has forsaken his

country. [77] I'll along with you, sir, and if I rise by you, I shall quickly learn                       130

courtship enough to forget to thank you. And for your parts my old friends,

what need soever you may have of me, you must be sure I'll be a stranger to you.




Wilt thou forsake us, Jeffrey? Then who shall dance the hobbyhorse [78]

at our next revel rout?



The hobbyhorse of preferment gallops me from you; if you chance to                 135

see me in my robes hereafter, when I come to be the fool-royal, you may

admire my garments and whisper to your acquaintance very softly that you

knew me once, but on your allegiance look not that I should know you then. [79]


First clown.

Nay, we are not such clowns but we have heard that courtiers in favour

will know nobody.                                                                                                        140



'Tis true, for when they are in disgrace the silliest clown will not know them.



You were best look to your fast footing [80] then when you are high in favour.



High in fooling, thou wouldst say, silly constable. Yet, there's no great danger.

One fool may outstand six favourites.



Away then, as thou art.                                                                                                 145



I, sir, I'll take no shift [81] with me, I shall shift the better when I come there.



Well, farewell Jeffrey, thy like will never come here.



Commend me to all the lasses, and let not them, nor do not you grieve

for my departure, nor for the holiday that here is lost; instead of which,

that you may have a new one. I wish that one of you, even he that loves             150

me best, as speedily as may be, would deserve hanging, that the rest may

make holiday for him. Sic valete valetote. [82]


First clown.

Now, the Dee'l brast crag of him. [83]


Second clown.

He's a right courtier already.


Fourth clown.

I'm glad he used us no better. If he had, I should have cried out mine                 160

eyes for him.

Exeunt omnes.

Scene iii

(Northumbria - beyond the court)

Enter Segebert and Anthynus.




'Twas a miraculous escape. Good Heaven

Is with me still. I have not heard

That any of these native salvages, [84]

These home-bred monsters in humanity,

These outlaws, these detested thieves and robbers,                                                        5

Have enterprised a villainy like this:

To set with such a violence on men

Of our weak seeming, poor and needy pilgrims,

When I did offer them to shun their blows,

All that we had, even to our bare apparel.                                                                     10



It seems their aim was at our blood, not means.

And doubtless they were some that knew our persons

Through our disguises, and pursued us hither,

With an inveterate malice to destroy us

In this wild desert.



      Was it not enough,                                                              15

Thou impious Queen, and more unnatural [85] country,

To banish me unjustly, but thou must

Pursue my life by treacherous cruelty?

Art thou not hurt at all, my son?



   Not touched,

To the least danger of one drop of blood.                                                                      20



They are three sturdy knaves, and strongly weaponed.



Had they been forty, sir, while I was armed

By your white innocence and holy prayers,

Heaven's justice lent me hands to beat them off.

Yet give me leave, dear sir, to ask you now,                                                                  25

Why you have bent your pilgrimage this way?

Leading into a country of more danger

Unto your life and safety than your own:

Northumberland, whose King cannot but rage

In greater heat against you than the Queen,                                                                    30

That so unjustly banished you; you may fall

(Though you escape the danger of this forest)

Into the reach of his revengeful fury.



It was and is my purpose to appear

In person to that King, at my life's price,                                                                        35

Which I am no more fond of than my country

Is of my truth. And when I have made known

Th' unfitness of the match, by the dishonour

He'll run into if he proceed in it;

If then he take my life, I am at home,                                                                 40

Eternally at home. [86]



      But made you none

Acquainted that you meant to travel this way?



None but my dear son Offa.



         Then sure the Queen

Sent her bloodhounds after you; I perceive

They could not be mere thieves.



   Good angels guard us;                                               45

They have made head [87] again in greater numbers.


Enter Offa (disguised) and outlaws.



Take greater courage then.



       Faint-hearted slaves,

Must I give hire and do the task myself?


First outlaw.

'Tis not amiss to help for expedition.


All outlaws.

Upon 'em all at once. [88]                                                                                     50


They fight. Anthynus knocks down First outlaw and Offa wounds Segebert in the head; he sinks. Anthynus disarms Offa.


Anthynus. (Offa runs off while Anthynus speaks)

This sword thou never handlest more. Take you it and fresh courage, sir.


(Anthynus beats off First outlaw and speaks on)


May you not cease your flight till you reach Hell,

That bred ye, villains; to pursue ye further

Were to neglect a nearer duty.

Dear honoured Sir, look up; father, how do you?                                                          55



Even almost well I hope.



    He means with death, [89]

Alas, he's deeply wounded and bleeds much.

But what do I in this? I have not tears

Enough to wash these wounds, although some linen

To bind them up. But merely to bewail him                                                                    60

With looks and lamentations is as fruitless

As here to leave him languishing to death,

And run in pursuit of his enemies

To work revenge; neither of these bring ease.

Mount up my thoughts to Heaven then, for a blessing                                         65

Upon my ready industry, and let each faculty

Of mine as prompt to works and prayers be.

How is it now, sir? Do I not bind it too hard?

Pray, sir, speak to me.



Offa! Oh, son Offa!



Offa is not here, sir; 'tis I, your son Anthynus.                                                    70

Why look you on that sword so?



    O son Offa!



Pray sir, look on me. I fear his memory fails him.

And, as his mind was ever on Offa

Before unfortunate me, so now he gives

The merit that belongs (if any be)                                                                                   75

Due to the duty of a son in this

From me to him. But envy be thou from me.

Why look you on that sword, and not on me?

'Twas I that won it for you.



        O Anthynus!



That's well said, sir, speak though but faintly to me:                                                        80

I had rather hear your groans than find you speechless;

Better will come, I hope.



    Help me to rise.



That's comfortably spoken; so, well done,

Like a strong man again.



    Oh, I am weak.



Rest upon me, my strength, my all is yours.                                                                    85

Aeneas, that true Trojan son,[90] whose fame

For piety ever crowns his name,

Had not a will (although my means be poor)

Exceeding mine to answer nature more.

Well said, that step became you, we shall on                                                     90

I see, apace. Give me your sword, it troubles you.



No, not this sword.



       That's the best sign of all.

Keep it and hold it fast, sir, we will back

A little to the spring we came by, where

I'll somewhat more accommodate your wounds.                                                            95

Heaven, which men's honest pains doth ever bless,

Will, when we least can hope, afford redress.


Exeunt Segebert and Anthynus.


First outlaw.

Oh, oh, some help, oh.


Enter an Hermit [91] and Servant with a basket.



Hark, didst thou not hear a cry?



   Of nothing but

My guts that cry within me, sir, for meat.                                                                       100

I hear no other cry, nor have not done…


First outlaw.




Almost these five years. [92]



Peace, thou belly-god! 'Twas there again.



It is a belly-devil rather, that has tormented me                                                  105

E'er since I served you underground hereby.

No man above ground [93] could have fasted like me.



Hast thou not daily food, thou caterpillar?



Yes, such as caterpillars eat: blossoms and buds,

Many green growing things, such as you make                                                   110

Your medicines of, and roots; would I could get

Some of the caterpillars. A dish of caterpillars fried,

Let me see in what? In usurers' grease, [94] if one

Knew where to get it, might serve to feast an emperor.

But we live out o' th' world, by prayer and fasting.                                                         115



Thou farest as I fare, feedest as oft as I.



But sir, there's difference in our exercises. If I

Could spend my time, whole days in prayer, as

You do, this kind of fare, or fasting

Rather, would not be so bitter to me.                                                                             120


First outlaw.




Didst thou not hear it now?



Yes, something like the croaking of a frog,

Me thought. If it were one, I would wade up to

The waste for't, for my supper. Here, here sir,                                                   125

Here 'tis, here's more work for you. Once a week

We are commonly troubled either to cure or

Bury one or other; thank the outlaws, they make

Us work for nothing here, as if we dwelt

Here for the purpose, nor do I know other,                                                                   130




  Look up, man, canst thou speak?


First outlaw.

       Oh no.



There's great hope of recovery, you hear, he says he cannot speak.



Canst thou hold up thy hands and lift up thine eyes?



He does, he does; hang't, he'll do well enough.



Help up his body, then down into my cave.                                                                    135



And tomorrow, up with him again, and then down

Into a grave. Better let him lie now, sir.

You'll ne'er do good on him I doubt: he looks

So damnably as if the Devil were at my elbow

For him.



  Peace knave! In charity, I'll do my best.                                                          140

Heaven, hitherto, my labours well has blessed.


Servant. (Lifts First outlaw)

Nay, had I his weight in venison so

Near killed, and might be allowed to eat it,

I would ask no more flesh while I lived.


Exeunt Hermit, Servant and First outlaw.


Enter Offa and the outlaws; the outlaws are assuring Offa that Segebert and Anthynus are dead. [95] Exeunt Offa and the outlaws.


Enter Anthynus carrying Segebert in his arms.



Can no release be had? Is this the place,                                                                       145

That cursèd piece of ground which nature meant

Should be called Hell on earth? Where outrage reigns,

Murder and cruelty, beyond it deep despair

(To a poor remnant of distressèd life)

Of all reviving comforts, food, or medicine?                                                                   150




Oh, set me down.




    And must we needs be set

By the malicious ignorance of Fortune [96]

On this infernal [97] way?



           Patience, good son.



Where ill abounds, and every good is wanting,

Was't not enough that so much blood was spilt                                                  155

From this white reverend head, from which hath flowed

Counsels that have preserved the blood of nations?

And fitter now to wear a diadem [98]

Itself, than thus be stained with his own wrong.

Had it not been enough to have left him so,                                                                    160

Thou tyrant Fortune, but to take away

All means of succour? No relief? No comfort?



Good Son, be not impatient.



         And see, see,

Accursèd Fate! [99] He bleeds afresh again,

As if his blood, I now but washed away,                                                                       165

Cried for the rest to follow it.




Son, this impatience hurts thyself and me.

Better let me bleed still (bleeding's an easy death)

Than thou displease the awful power of Heaven,

By chiding at the feigned [100] ones, [101] good take heed.                                       170



Me you have justly chidden, and I beg

Pardon of Heaven and you, and now, methinks,

I am inspired unto a further duty

Of seeking remedy. I'll leave no way untried

To find it, if I may. And though my absence                                                                   175

Will sore perplex me, I will, with your grief,

Leave you a while to forage for relief.

But first, pray let me change a sword with you, sir;

Not that I think yours better, but because

I fear some charm is in't, or secret ill                                                                              180

'Gainst you, you sigh so when you view it still.



Good son, forbear't, and me unto my thoughts,

Till thou returnst. Heaven's and my blessing with thee.



So strengthened, I shall sure find remedy

To raise you out of this calamity.                                                                                   185


Exit Anthynus.



This sword, Anthynus? No! Shouldst thou but know

This sword as I do, it would raise thy fury

Unto an execution of that horror

Would shake me in my grave: this sword

Which now I cannot but with tears remember,                                                   190

Was once mine own. I gave it to thy brother,

(I will not call him so) but to my son,

(Why should I call him so?) but to Offa,

And so I fear I name my murtherer. [102]

For when I gave it him, I charged him never                                                                   195

To part with it; he firmly vowed the same,

And that whilst I or he should live, no man

Should ever give it motion but himself.

Were't thou so greedy of my life, my Offa,

To snatch it from me thus? When as the wounds                                                            200

Thy parricidal [103] hands have [104] given me,

Are not so bitter as the wronged thoughts,

Though they are deep and overflow their brinks;

I have two wounds within me that are deeper,

Which have discovered in my heart and bowels                                                             205

A trebled spring of dearer blood than this.

One pricks me with compassion for thee,

My good, my charitable, pious son.

All blessing due to sanctimonious virtue

Be ever thy companion, till thou art crowned,                                                    210

'Mongst sons of men, the pattern of true piety.

What foul mistrusts, puddles of jealousy,

Were lodged in this dark bosom against thee?

And of affection, what a pure stream did run,

By a false current, to my second son?                                                                215

Who by thy truth appears not now thine own?

Which makes my other wound, in that so long

I cherished him by doing of thee wrong.

Now, from my heart issue two streams of blood:

One thick and clotty, th' other clean vermilion.                                                   220

In the gross blood, I vent the wrong conceit

I swallowed against thee, my good Anthynus.

And, in the clear I see Offa's falsehood; may [105]

In both, my blood runs forth apace. O

My thick blood, Anthynus be forgiven by thee,                                                  225

And the clear cleanse my Offa's treachery.

Oh— (Sinks)


Enter Hermit and Servant.




Didst thou not hear a groan? A dying groan?



Not I, sir, I heard nothing.



      Hark, look about,

I am sure I heard a groan.



     Here, sir, here's

Something that perhaps has groaned. But it's out                                                            230

Of hearing now.



  And so is pity

Amongst men. Ay me! An old man murthered!

A seeming simple innocent old man,

And yet, he holds a sword.



        So, more work still.

Whilst we are gathering simples [106] to cure one,                                                             235

Here's another John Simple [107] laid in our way to bury.



He is yet warm.



  Ay, but he has no breath,

Not so much I'll undertake as a scolding

Wife that has been nine days in the grave.



Alas, he's gone indeed; what ruthless villains                                                      240

Could have done this on such an aged man,

In this so harmless habit?



    Good master,

Let it warn you: though we have hitherto

Passed by these man-tigers, these wolvish outlaws, safely,

Early and late, as not worth their malice,                                                                        245

Yet, pray sir, now since they begin to kill

Men of this coat, and these years, let us

Forsake this salvage habitation,

And live in the world of meat again.



How ill are these white hairs bestained with red?                                                            250

Methinks I should have known this face; nothing

To wipe the blood off? Come, help away with him.



He's holp [108] away, and made away enough already, methinks.



Why dost not lift?



     Sure they have blown their sins

Into him that killed him, he's so heavy, he's                                                                    255

Deadly heavy. Pray sir, let me fetch my grave

Instruments and your book and bestow him here.

You will not bury him in your cave, I'm sure.



I say I'll have him down. Perhaps the wounded

Man that's there may know him.


Servant. (Lifts Segebert)

    I would I                                                                  260

Had but this fellow's weight in buttock beef.


Exeunt Hermit, Servant and Segebert. Enter Anthynus.



I come, my father. Chide not now my stay,

In which I was more tardy, I confess,

Than e'er I was in duty. I have brought you—

Where are you, sir? Ha! This was sure the place,                                                           265

And this the very oak at which I left him;

I marked it carefully, and took due heed,

Even to the number of my steps in my

Departure, how to make my back return,

Nor was my tarriance [109] such that in that space                                                             270

He could recover strength to shift his ground.

I wish it were so well with him. My lord,

My father, what a mist of doubts stand I

Amazed in? And my unspeakable amazement

Is such that I begin to call my sight                                                                                 275

And memory in question. Whither this place?

Or whither he? Or I? Or anything

Be, or be not? Good senses do not leave me,

My search will be in vain if you forsake me.

Father, my lord! Where are you? How? Or where?                                                       280


Echo. [110]




          That was well said, speak on. (Exits and speaks from within) Now where?



Now here.



Anthynus. (From within)

     Now here? Where is that here?





Enter Anthynus.



I hear and follow, but I know not where.






         At the same place again?

If there be place, or I know anything,                                                                285

How is my willingness in search deluded?

It is the wood that rings with my complaint,

And mocking Echo makes her merry with it.

Cursed be thy babbling, and mayst thou become

A sport for wanton boys in thy fond answers;                                                    290

Or stay, [111] perhaps it was some gentle spirit

Hovering i' th' air, that saw his flight to heaven,

And would direct me thither after him.

Good reason, leave me not, but give me leave

A little to consider nearer home;                                                                                    295

Say his diviner part [112] be taken up

To those celestial joys, where blessèd ones

Find their inheritance of immortality.

I cannot think his earthly properties

So soon could find the passage to that height.                                                    300

His body would be here, poor martyred body,

That though it yet did live, could not part hence

Without the help of others' legs and hands.

And here haunt none, but such whose cruelty

Would toss him into further misery.                                                                                305

Wild beasts, if here were any half so ravenous

As those inhuman mankind-monsters were,

(That drew his blood and these unusual tears),

Could not devour him all, some particle,

Some remnant would be left to bless a son with.                                                            310

But here is none but that too sure a sign

For me to know the place by, where I left him.

Part of the blood I saw run from him. O

Dear hallowed blood [113] inspire me with this kiss (kisses the ground)

To find the fountain whence this stream did flow. [114]                                           315

I will not eat, nor sleep until I know.

No? Canst thou tell me nothing? Then I'll take

A sample of the precious store was spilt, (removes some of the blood-stained earth)

To keep me still in memory of the guilt,

And of my vow, never to feed or rest,                                                               320

Until I find him here, or with the blessed.




[1] Not included in the quarto. There are no indications of setting in the quarto other than 'Scene England' at the beginning of the play.

[2] The 1657 quarto has, 'Enter Osriick the King, Theodrick, Theodwald, Eaufrid, Alfrid, Edelbert, 2. Lords'. However, the only lords to speak in this scene (other than Theodric) are '1. Lord' and '2. Lord'; 'The Persons in the Play' lists just four lords (other than Theodric and Ethelswic), and by the evidence of III.i.186-7, the lords given the tags 1. Lord, 2. Lord, 3. Lord, 4. Lord are indeed, in the order of the dramatis personae, Theodwald, Eaufrid, Alfrid and Edelbert. Hence, Alfrid and Edelbert play no part in this scene, and are clearly not present when Osric is taken ill; the 'attendants' are present, and so are added to the list of characters entering.

[3] this] referring to Bertha's portrait.

[4] bells and bonfires] the ringing of bells and burning of bonfires: a common practice during celebrations in sixteenth and seventeenth century England; see Introduction for a discussion of their political significance.

[5] prevent] anticipate.

[6] Two rare rhyming couplets that reflect Osric's joyful mood.

[7] Cynthia] One of the Roman names for the goddess of the moon; see Act I. Scene i. l. 196.

[8] limner] portrait painter.

[9] be even with him] 'get even with him'.

[10] picturer] portrait painter.

[11] this crown upon this head] i.e. crown Mildred as his Queen.

[12] Fie!] Shame!

[13] fancy's] 'fancy': amorous inclination, love (OED 8.b).

[14] professors] adherents.

[15] No whit] 'Not in the least degree' ('whit': OED 2.b).

[16] Protest] profess.

[17] rapt] enraptured.

[18] this] i.e. Bertha's portrait.

[19] soft] wait.

[20] within] In another room or part of the room, i.e. off-stage or behind the scenes; 'within' referring to off-stage also occurs in stage directions.

[21] Tarry] Delay going (OED 3).

[22] asquint] not only with reference to Bertha's squint, but also with connotations of 'looking unfavourably or suspiciously' upon the king; cf. King Lear, V.iii.73: 'That eye that told you so looked but asquint.'

[23] shrewly] like a shrew: 'a woman given to railing or scolding' (OED 3) or a small mammal; also a variant of shrewdly: maliciously, wickedly, severely, sharply. The negative connotations are particularly ironic considering Osric's preference for Mildred's portrait.

[24] physiognomists] 'one who reads character or disposition from the face' (OED).

[25] incontinence] lacking self-restraint.

[26] tother] the other.

[27] changeling] fickle person; also with the connotation of 'substitute', presaging the 'exchange' that gives the play its title.

[28] Marry!] 'By Mary': an example of swearing without using the name of God, which was illegal on the stage after 1606.

[29] troth-plight qualm] ailment of the betrothed.

[30] This scene appears to be in prose: the line-lengths and metre are irregular and defy relineation to Brome's usual 'roughly' iambic pentameter; the few lines that do conform seem to do so incidently. Prose would be consistent with the 'low' nature of the scene.

[31] clowns] As becomes clear as the scene advances, these characters represent a farming community in the Northumbria of the play; as comic parts, they would have been played by actors whose speciality was 'clowning'; cf. 2 Henry VI, IV.ii.: the characters of Jack Cade, Dick the Butcher, Smith the Weaver et al; as such, they are examples of the tradition of anti-authority clowning in early modern theatre.

[32] man] A vocative 'used to address a person parenthetically without emphasis to indicate familiarity, amicability, or equality between the speaker and the person addressed' (OED 16.b). This is a particularly northern English and Scottish usage, and, as such, could indicate an attempt by Brome to mimic Northumbrian dialect.

[33] under us] a bawdy reference to sexual intercourse.

[34] brave] good, excellent, worthy (OED 3).

[35] son and daughter it] either another bawdy reference to procreation: 'make sons and daughters'; or, 'become sons and daughters' (subjects) of their nation.

[36] prick] inciter; also continuing the bawdy theme.

[37] trowling] an obsolete form of the verb 'troll': 'to move (a ball, bowl, round body) by or as by rolling' (OED 2).

[38] rear] raise.

[39] tenor] tenor bell.

[40] lop-heavy] 'heavy with a weight which causes lopping, hanging down, or drooping' (OED).

[41] The curate could say almost as much when 'twas] 'The curate said as much when it happened'.

[42] Jeffrey] It is possible that the name 'Jeffrey' is an allusion to 'Queen Henrietta Maria's dwarf', Jeffrey Hudson, who appeared in masques at court. Also see the Introduction for a more detailed discussion of this possibility.

[43] tenor of them] a play on words, referring to both the tenor bell and the tone of the bells in general.

[44] bravest] a play on words, involving the meanings 'worthy' and 'courageous'.

[45] holy day] the archaic version (rather than 'holiday') is preferred for Jeffrey's speech (here and l. 39), to retain the sacred connotation, and so make the contrast with the 'profane' of l. 38 more explicit.

[46] justle] the usual seventeenth-century variant of 'jostle' (OED).

[47] almanac] 'a book of tables, containing a calendar of months and days, with astronomical data and calculations, ecclesiastical and other anniversaries, besides other useful information' (OED).

[48] seventh son] A superstition that attributes magical powers of healing and foresight to the seventh son. Its origins are obscure, but it echoes numerous other magical associations with the number seven.

[49] husbandry] farming; also, further bawdy connotations.

[50] beaking] A variant form of the verb, 'beek': 'to warm'. This is another example of a northern English or Scottish dialect word.

[51] sheeplocks] obscure farming implement, possibly similar to a 'hobble or shackle on a horse's (or other animal's) foot to prevent it from straying' ('lock': OED 3).

[52] rocks] distaff(s): 'a cleft staff about 3 feet long, on which, in the ancient mode of spinning, wool or flax was wound' (OED).

[53] wheels and reels] Further implements for spinning.

[54] bucking-tubs] Tubs for 'bucking': 'the operation of steeping or boiling yarn, cloth, or clothes in a lye of wood ashes' (OED).

[55] battledores] Wooden ‘bats’ used in washing clothes and baking (OED 1).

[56] burn her for a witch] Richard Brome, in collaboration with Thomas Heywood, wrote a play, The Witches of Lancashire (1634), that draws on real contemporary cases of alleged witchcraft in Lancashire.

[57] 'Sfoot] 'God's foot': an example of swearing.

[58] by th' arfs] Obscure; 'arf' is possibly a dialect variant of 'argh' (as a noun), meaning 'wretch', 'betrayer' or 'enemy' (OED 4); i.e. 'by the betrayers': an interjection expressing anger. Nevertheless, the context suggests a farm implement.

[59] hardles] hurdles.

[60] racks] 'frame(s) made with upright bars of wood or metal to hold fodder for horses and cattle' (OED 3.a).

[61] politic] cunning.

[62] kilderkins] 'Cask(s) for liquids, fish, etc. of a definite capacity (half a barrel). By the statute of 1531-2 the kilderkin for beer had to contain 18 gallons, that for ale 16 gallons' (OED 1).

[63] rundlets] Variant of 'runlet': 'a cask or vessel of varying capacity' (OED).

[64] gall] to make sore (OED 1).

[65] burn better than heretics] The medieval European punishment of death by burning for heresy persisted into the seventeenth century, and was a particular feature of the Marian era (1553-1558) in England.

[66] wot] know (OED).

[67] gelt] castrated.

[68] that which shall be nameless] i.e. penis.

[69] seven years] It is possible that this may refer to the length of the reign of Charles I as well as that of the Northumbrian king; that would date the play to 1632 (for a discussion of dating see the Introduction).

[70] A Jeffrey] An example of the use of 'a' as a particle before a proper name as part of a supportive cry (Crystal).

[71] At the culmination of the Trojan War (as described in Homer's Iliad), the city of Troy was set alight and destroyed by fire.

[72] The 'tyrant emperor' in question is likely to be Nero (full name: Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus), emperor of Rome from 54 to 68 A.D., who, it is alleged, started a fire that almost completely destroyed the city.

[73] Hebrew's] A colloquial expression for unintelligible speech (OED 2.b).

[74] posterior posture] This possibly indicates a movement, by Jeffrey, to show subordination, perhaps mimicking that of a dog.

[75] spaniel] a breed of dog associated with slavish behaviour.

[76] Jeffrey is playing on the judicial meaning of 'court'.

[77] forsaken his country] a play on words that suggests exile rather than movement from country to court.

[78] hobbyhorse] a morris dance.

[79] not that I should know you then] Cf. 2 Henry IV, V.v.47: 'I know thee not, old man'. Jeffrey's treatment of his friends has comic echoes of Prince Hal's rejection of Falstaff when Prince Hal becomes King Henry.

[80] footing] 'foothold', but also 'dance'.

[81] shift] change of clothing (OED 9.a).

[82] Sic valete valetote] Latin: 'So farewell, farewell to all'.

[83] the Dee'l brast crag of him] 'Dee'l' or Deil meaning 'Devil' (OED); 'brast' being an obsolete form of 'brassed' (OED); 'crag' meaning 'neck' (OED 1); literally: 'the Devil brassed neck of him'; 'brassed neck' being a figurative expression denoting impudence, derived from the rigidity of neck to do something impudent or withstand censure ('neck': OED 11.b).

[84] salvages] savages; cf. The Tempest, II.ii.58: it is the Folio that has 'salvages', often emended by editors (as it is in the Arden Complete Works).

[85] unnatural] 'At variance with natural feeling or moral standards; excessively cruel or wicked' (OED 3).

[86] Eternally at home] i.e. in Heaven.

[87] head] 'A body of people gathered; a force raised' (OED 30).

[88] The fighting coincides with a disruption to the verse.

[89] Segebert's apparent wish to die is in parallel with Gloucester's similar desire in King Lear, 'O you mighty gods, / This world I do renounce and in your sights / Shake patiently my great affliction off.'

[90] Aeneas, that true Trojan son] The Aeneas of Greek and Roman legend, the founder of Rome, who fled the Trojan war; the events of his life are described in Homer's Iliad and Virgil's Aeneid; significantly, Aeneas is said to have been the great-grandfather of Brutus, the legendary founder of 'Britain'; a more detailed discussion of the significance of this appears in the Introduction.

[91] hermit] 'One who from religious motives has retired into solitary life' (OED 1.a); rather ironically, this hermit has a servant.

[92] The servant continues the sentence he began above.

[93] above ground] i.e. alive.

[94] usurer's grease] 'usurer': 'money-lender'; 'grease': 'money given as a bribe' (OED 5.a); i.e. figurative 'grease': comically unsuitable for frying, but useful for buying food.

[95] This is done without scripted dialogue.

[96] Fortune] the capital letter for a proper name is kept because of the personification.

[97] infernal] 'internal' in the quarto; considering Anthynus' evocation of 'Hell on earth', 'infernal' is preferred.

[98] diadem] crown.

[99] Fate!] A personification.

[100] feigned] spurious, false.

[101] feigned ones] i.e. the powers of 'Fortune' and 'Fate'.

[102] murtherer] murderer.

[103] parricidial] patricidal.

[104] have] 'has' in the quarto.

[105] may] maybe; i.e. Segebert speculates that 'Offa's falsehood' could be in both 'streams of blood', because of his rapid bleeding.

[106] simples] 'A plant or herb employed for medical purposes' ('simple': OED B.6).

[107] John Simple] A generic name given to an undistinguished man of unknown name.

[108] holp] helped.

[109] tarriance] delay.

[110] Echo] The personification of the phenomenon of an echo; a mountain nymph in Greek mythology (OED 2).

[111] stay] 'To cease speaking, break off one's discourse; to pause, stop or hesitate before speaking' (OED 2.b).

[112] diviner part] soul.

[113] O / Dear hallowed blood] Anthynus apostrophises his father's blood.

[114] the fountain whence this stream did flow] The 'fountain' is, metaphorically, his father; the 'stream' is, likewise, his father's blood.