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Queen. Look, Lancaster, how passionate he is,
And still his mind runs on his minion !
Lan. My lord !
Edw. How now,
what ? is Gaveston arriv'd ?
Mort. jun. Nothing but Gaveston! what means your
You have matters of more weight to think upon;
The king of France sets foot in Normandy.
Edw. A trifle, we'll expel him when we please.
But tell me, Mortimer, what's thy device,
Against the stately triumph we decreed?
Mort. A homely one, my lord, not worth the telling.
Edw. Pray thee, let me know it.
Mort. jun. But seeing you are so desirous, thus it is:
A lofty cedar-tree fair flourishing,
On whose top-branches kingly eagles perch,
And by the bark a canker creeps me up,
And gets unto the highest bough of all :
The motto, Æque tandem.
Edw. And what is yours, my lord of Lancaster ?
Lan. My lord, mine's more obscure than Mortimer's.
Pliny reports, there is a flying fish,
Which all the other fishes deadly hate,
And therefore being pursued, it takes the air :
No sooner is it up, but there's a fowl
That seizeth it: this fish, my lord, I bear,
The motto this : Undique mors est.
Edmund. Proud Mortimer! ungentle Lancaster!
Is this the love you bear your sovereign?
Is this the fruit your reconcilement bears :
Can you in words make show of amity,
your shields display your rancorous minds?
What call you this but private libelling,
Against the earl of Cornwal and my brother?
Qucen. Sweet husband, be content, they all love you.
Edw. They love me not that hate my Gaveston.
I am that cedar, shake me not too much;
you the eagles, soar ye ne'er so high,
I have the gresses that will pull you down,
And Æque tandem shall that canker cry,
Unto the proudest peer of Britainy.
Though thou compar'st him to a flying fish,
And threatnest death whether he rise or fall;
'Tis not the hugest monster of the sea,
Nor foulest harpy, that shall swallow him.
Mort. jun. If in his absence thus he favours him,
What will he do when as he shall be present?
Lan. That shall we see: look, where his lordship comes.
Edw. My Gaveston! welcome to Tinmouth! welcome
to thy friend!
Thy absence made me droop, and pine away;
For as the lovers of fair Danaë,
When she was lock'd up in a brazen tower,
Desir'd her more, and wax'd outragious,
So did it fare with me: and now thy sight
Is sweeter far, than was thy parting hence
Bitter and irksome to my sobbing heart.
Gav. Sweet lord and king, your speech preventeth mine.
Yet have I words left to express my joy :
The shepherd nipt with biting winter's rage,
Frolicks not more to see the painted spring,
Than I do to behold your majesty."
The scene in which Edward resigns his crown, and that in which he is murdered, would have been sufficient to immortalize Marlowe, if he had not written another line. Few things grander or more touching in tragedy can be conceived, than those splendid scenes, from his being told that he must go to Killingworth ; and his exclamation
“ Must! 'tis somewhat hard when kings must go"to the close of his existence.
The circumstances are wrought up with great skill. His musing, on being required to resign his crown, that kings, when power is gone, are
“ But perfect shadowes in a sunshine day;" his identity of life itself, with the fruition of an earthly crown; his wish to be king till night; his adjuration,
“Stand still, you watches of the elements,"
that he may still be England's king; his alternate grief and rage; his little bootless revenge; and his sad conviction, that death ends all, and he can die but once; could only have been produced by a first-rate genius.
The king, being vanquished by the forces of the queen, seeks refuge in a monastery. He addresses the abbot:
“ Edw. Father, thy face should harbour no deceit.
O hadst thou ever been a king, thy heart,
Pierc'd deeply with a sense of my distress,
Could not but take compassion of my state.
Stately and proud, in riches and in train,
Whilom I was, powerful, and full of pomp:
But what is he, whom rule and empire
Have not in life or death made miserable ?
Come Spencer, Baldock, come sit down by me;
Make trial now of that philosophy,
That in our famous nurseries of arts
Thou suck'st from Plato and from Aristotle.
Father, this life contemplative is heaven.
O that I might this life in quiet lead!
But we, alas! are chas'd; and you, my friends,
Your lives and my dishonour they pursue.
Yet, gentle monks, for treasure, gold por fee,
Do you betray us and our company."
Mortimer! who talks of Mortimer?
Who wounds me with the name of Mortimer?
That bloody man! Good father, on thy lap
Lay I this head, laden with mickle carę.
O might I never ope these eyes again!
Never again lift up this drooping head!
( never more lift up this dying heart!"
The king's retreat is discovered, and a warrant for the apprehension of his favorites Spencer and Baldock, produced by the Earl of Leicester.
“ Edw. O day! the last of all
bliss on earth!
Center of all misfortune! O my stars !
Why do you low'r unkindly on a king?
Comes Leister then in Isabella's name,
To take my life, my company
Here, man, rip up this panting breast of mine,
heart, in rescue of my
Rice. Away with them !
Spen. jun. It may become thee yet,
To let us take our farewell of his grace.
Abbot. My heart with pity yearns to see this sight,
A king to bear these words and proud commands.
Edw. Spencer, sweet Spencer, thus then must we part?
Spen. jun. We must, my lord, so will the angry heav’ns.
Edw. Nay, so will hell and cruel Mortimer;
The gentle heav'ns have not to do in this.
Bald. My lord, it is in vain to grieve or storm.
Here, humbly of your grace, we take our leaves ;
Our lots are cast: I fear me, so is thine.
Edw. In heav'n we may, in earth ne'er shall we meet :
And Leister say, what shall become of us?
Leist. Your majesty must go to Killingworth.
Edw. Must! 'tis somewhat hard, when kings must go.
Leist. Here is a litter ready for your grace,
That waits your pleasure, and the day grows old.
Rice. As good be gone, as stay and be benighted.
Edw. A litter hast thou? lay me in a hearse,
And to the gates of hell convey me hence;
Let Pluto's bells ring out my fatal knell,
And hags howl for my death at Charon's shoar.
For friends hath Edward none, but these ; and these
Must die under a tyrant's sword.
Rice. My lord, be going, care not for these,
For we shall see them shorter by the heads.
Edw. Well, what shall be, shall be : part we must!
Sweet Spencer, gentle Baldock, part we must!
Hence, feigned weeds, unfeigned are my woes;
Father, farewell! Lei'ster, thou stay'st for me,
I must. Life, farewell, with my friends.
[Exeunt Edward and Leicester.
Spen. jun. O is he gone! is noble Edward gone!
Parted from hence! never to see us more!
Rend, sphere of heav'n! and fire, forsake thy orb!
Earth, melt to air! gone is my sovereign,
Gone, gone, alas ! never to make return.
Bald. Spencer, I see our souls are fleeting hence;
We are depriv'd the sunshine of our life:
Make for a new life, man; throw up thy eyes,
And heart and hand, to heav'n's immortal throne,
Pay nature's debt with cheerful countenance;
Reduce we all our lessons unto this,
To die, sweet Spencer, therefore live we all ;
Spencer, all live to die, and rise to fall.
Enter the King, Leicester, with a Bishop, for the crown.
Leic. Be patient, good my lord, cease to lament,
Imagine Killingworth castle were your court,
And that you lay for pleasure here a space,
Not of compulsion or necessity.
Edw. Leister, if gentle words might comfort me,
Thy speeches long ago had eas'd my sorrows;
For kind and loving hast thou always been.
The griefs of private men are soon allay'd,
But not of kings. The forest deer being struck,
Runs to an herb that closeth up the wounds ;
But when the imperial lion's flesh is gor'd,
He rends and tears it with his wrathful paw,
And highly scorning, that the lowly earth
Should drink his blood, mounts up to th' air :
And so it fares with me, whose dauntless mind
Th'ambitious Mortimer would seek to curb,
And that unnatural queen, false Isabel,
That thus hath pent and mew'd me in a prison :
For such outragious passions claw my soul,
As with the wings of rancour and disdain,
Full oft am I soaring up to high heav'n,
To plain me to the gods against them both.
But when I call to mind I am a king,
Methinks I should revenge me of the wrongs,
That Mortimer and Isabel have done.
But what are kings, when regiment is gone,
But perfect shadows in a sunshine day?
My nobles rule, I bear the name of king;
I wear the crown, but am contrould by them,
By Mortimer, and my unconstant queen,
Who spots my nuptial bed with infamy;
Whilst I am lodg’d within this cave of care,
Where sorrow at my elbow still attends,
To company my
heart with sad laments,
That bleeds within me for this strange exchange.
But tell me, must I now resign my crown,
To make usurping Mortimer a king?
Bish. Your grace mistakes, it is for England's good, And princely Edward's right, we crave the crown.
Edw. No, 'tis for Mortimer, not Edward's head;
For he's a lamb, encompassed by wolves,
Which in a moment will abridge his life.
But if proud Mortimer do wear this crown,
Heav'ns turn it to a blaze of quenchless fire,
Or like the snaky wreath of Tisiphon,
Engirt the temples of his hateful head;
So shall not England's vines be perished,
But Edward's name survive, though Edward dies.
Leic. My lord, why waste you thus the time away?