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An Antechamber in the English Court.
Enter the ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, and the
BISHOP OF ELY.
Can. My lord, I'll tell you,—That self bill is urg'd, Which, in the eleventh year oʻthe last king's reign, Was like, and had indeed against us pass’d, But that the scambling and unquiet time Did push it out of further question.
Ely. But how, my lord, shall we resist it now?
Can. It must be thought on; If it pass against us,
We lose the better half of our possession;
For all the temporal lands, which men devout
By testament have given to the church,
Would they strip from us.
Ely. But what prevention ?
Can. The king is full of grace, and fair regard.
Ely. And a true lover of the holy church.
Can. The courses of his youth promis'd it not.
The breath no sooner left his father's body,
But that his wildness, mortify'd in him,
Seem'd to die too: yea, at that very moment,
Consideration, like an angel, came,
And whipp'd the offending Adam out of him;
Leaving his body as a paradise,
To envelope and contain celestial spirits.
Never was such a sudden scholar made:
Never came reformation in a floud,
With such a heady current, scouring faults,
Nor never Hydra-headed wilfulness
So soon did lose his seat, and all at once,
As in this king.
Ely. We're blessed in the change.
Can. Hear him but reason in divinity, And, all admiring, with an inward wish You would desire the king were made a prelate; Hear him debate of common-wealth affairs, You would say,-it hath been all-in-all his study : List his discourse of war, and you shall hear A fearful battle render'd you in music: Turn him to any cause of policy, The gordian knot of it he will unloose, Familiar as his garter ; that, when he speaks, The air, a charter'd libertine, is still, And the mute wonder lurketh in men's ears, To steal his sweet and honied sentences; So that the art, and practic part of life, Must be the mistress to this theoric: Which is a wonder, how his grace should glean it, Since his addiction was to courses vain; His companies unletter'd, rude, and shallow; His hours fill'd up with riots, banquets, sports; And never noted in him any study, Any retirement, any sequestration From open haunts, and popularity.
Ely. The strawberry grows underneath the nettle,
And wholesome berries thrive, and ripen best,
Neighbour'd by fruit of baser quality:
And so the prince obscur'd his contemplation
Under the veil of wildness; which, no doubt,
Grew like the summer grass, fastest by night,
Unseen, yet crescive in his faculty:-
But, my good lord,
How now for mitigation of this bill,
Urg'd by the commons ? Doth his majesty
Incline to it, or no?
Can. He is rather swaying more upon our part
Than cherishing the exhibitors against us:
For I have inade an offer to his majesty,--
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?
Can. 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 unbidden passages,
Of his true titles to some certain dukedoms,
And, generally, to the crown of France,
Deriv'd from Edward, his great grandfather,
Ely. What was the impediment that broke this off?
Can. The French embassador, 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,
Can. Then go we in, to know his embassy.
Ely. I'll wait upon you; and I long to hear it.
Flourish of Drums and Trumpets.
KING HENRY discovered on his Throne. GLOSTER, BEDFORD, EXETER, WESTMORELAND,
CAMBRIDGE, SCROOP, GREY, HERALDS, &c. at.
K. Hen. Where is my gracious lord of Canterbury?
Bed. Not here in presence.
K. Hen. Send for him, good brother.
[Exit a HERALD. West. Shall we call in the embassador, 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 HERALD, with the ARCHBISHOP OF CANTER-
BURY, and the BISHOP OF ELY.
Can. Heav'n and his angels, guard your sacred
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 Heav'n forbid, my dear and faithful lord, That you should fashion, wrest, or bow your read
ing; Or nicely charge your understanding soul With opening titles miscreate, whose right
Suits not in native colours with the truth ;
For Heav'n doth know, how many, now in health,
Shall drop their blood in approbation
Of what your reverence shall incite uz to:
Therefore take heed how you impawn our person,
How you awake the sleeping sword of war;
We charge you in the name of Heaven, take heed.
Under this conjuration, speak, my lord.
Can. Then hear me, gracious sovereign :-
There is no bar.
To make against your highness' claim to France,
But this which they produce from Pharamond;
“ 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 :
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 :
Besides, their writers say,
King Pepin, who deposed Childerick,
Did 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.
K. Hen. May 1, with right and conscience, make
Can. The sin upon my head, dread sovereign!
For in the book of Numbers it is writ,
When the son dies, let the inheritance
Descend unto the daughter.
Exe. Gracious lord,
Stand for your own; unwind your bloody flag;
Look back unto your mighty ancestors :