Part 1 out of 6
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BECKET AND OTHER PLAYS
ALFRED LORD TENNYSON, POET LAUREATE
THE PROMISE OF MAY
TO THE LORD CHANCELLOR, THE RIGHT HONOURABLE EARL OF SELBORNE.
MY DEAR SELBORNE,
_To you, the honoured Chancellor of our own day, I dedicate this
dramatic memorial of your great predecessor;--which, altho' not
intended in its present form to meet the exigencies of our modern
theatre, has nevertheless--for so you have assured me--won your
HENRY II. (_son of the Earl of Anjou_).
THOMAS BECKET, _Chancellor of England, afterwards Archbishop of
GILBERT FOLIOT, _Bishop of London_.
ROGER, _Archbishop of York_.
_Bishop of Hereford_.
HILARY, _Bishop of Chichester_.
JOCELYN, _Bishop of Salisbury_.
JOHN OF SALISBURY |
HERBERT OF BOSHAM | _friends of Becket_.
WALTER MAP, _reputed author of 'Golias,' Latin poems against
KING LOUIS OF FRANCE.
GEOFFREY, _son of Rosamund and Henry_.
GRIM, _a monk of Cambridge_.
SIR REGINALD FITZURSE |
SIR RICHARD DE BRITO | _the four knights of the King's_
SIR WILLIAM DE TRACY | _household, enemies of Becket_.
SIR HUGH DE MORVILLE |
DE BROC OF SALTWOOD CASTLE.
PHILIP DE ELEEMOSYNA.
TWO KNIGHT TEMPLARS.
JOHN OF OXFORD (_called the Swearer_).
ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE, _Queen of England (divorced from Louis of France)_.
ROSAMUND DE CLIFFORD.
_Knights, Monks, Beggars, etc_.
_A Castle in Normandy. Interior of the Hall. Roofs of a City seen
HENRY _and_ BECKET _at chess_.
So then our good Archbishop Theobald
I am grieved to know as much.
But we must have a mightier man than he
For his successor.
Have you thought of one?
A cleric lately poison'd his own mother,
And being brought before the courts of the Church,
They but degraded him. I hope they whipt him.
I would have hang'd him.
It is your move.
The Church in the pell-mell of Stephen's time
Hath climb'd the throne and almost clutch'd the crown;
But by the royal customs of our realm
The Church should hold her baronies of me,
Like other lords amenable to law.
I'll have them written down and made the law.
My liege, I move my bishop.
And if I live,
No man without my leave shall excommunicate
My tenants or my household.
Look to your king.
No man without my leave shall cross the seas
To set the Pope against me--I pray your pardon.
Well--will you move?
Check--you move so wildly.
There then! [_Moves_.
Why--there then, for you see my bishop
Hath brought your king to a standstill. You are beaten.
HENRY (_kicks over the board_).
Why, there then--down go bishop and king together.
I loathe being beaten; had I fixt my fancy
Upon the game I should have beaten thee,
But that was vagabond.
Where, my liege? With Phryne,
Or Lais, or thy Rosamund, or another?
My Rosamund is no Lais, Thomas Becket;
And yet she plagues me too--no fault in her--
But that I fear the Queen would have her life.
Put her away, put her away, my liege!
Put her away into a nunnery!
Safe enough there from her to whom thou art bound
By Holy Church. And wherefore should she seek
The life of Rosamund de Clifford more
Than that of other paramours of thine?
How dost thou know I am not wedded to her?
How should I know?
That is my secret, Thomas.
State secrets should be patent to the statesman
Who serves and loves his king, and whom the king
Loves not as statesman, but true lover and friend.
Come, come, thou art but deacon, not yet bishop,
No, nor archbishop, nor my confessor yet.
I would to God thou wert, for I should find
An easy father confessor in thee.
St. Denis, that thou shouldst not. I should beat
Thy kingship as my bishop hath beaten it.
Hell take thy bishop then, and my kingship too!
Come, come, I love thee and I know thee, I know thee,
A doter on white pheasant-flesh at feasts,
A sauce-deviser for thy days of fish,
A dish-designer, and most amorous
Of good old red sound liberal Gascon wine:
Will not thy body rebel, man, if thou flatter it?
That palate is insane which cannot tell
A good dish from a bad, new wine from old.
Well, who loves wine loves woman.
So I do.
Men are God's trees, and women are God's flowers;
And when the Gascon wine mounts to my head,
The trees are all the statelier, and the flowers
Are all the fairer.
And thy thoughts, thy fancies?
Good dogs, my liege, well train'd, and easily call'd
Off from the game.
Save for some once or twice,
When they ran down the game and worried it.
No, my liege, no!--not once--in God's name, no!
Nay, then, I take thee at thy word--believe thee
The veriest Galahad of old Arthur's hall.
And so this Rosamund, my true heart-wife,
Not Eleanor--she whom I love indeed
As a woman should be loved--Why dost thou smile
My good liege, if a man
Wastes himself among women, how should he love
A woman, as a woman should be loved?
How shouldst thou know that never hast loved one?
Come, I would give her to thy care in England
When I am out in Normandy or Anjou.
My lord, I am your subject, not your--
God's eyes! I know all that--not my purveyor
Of pleasures, but to save a life--her life;
Ay, and the soul of Eleanor from hell-fire.
I have built a secret bower in England, Thomas,
A nest in a bush.
And where, my liege?
That's lone enough.
HENRY (_laying paper on table_).
This chart here mark'd '_Her Bower_,'
Take, keep it, friend. See, first, a circling wood,
A hundred pathways running everyway,
And then a brook, a bridge; and after that
This labyrinthine brickwork maze in maze,
And then another wood, and in the midst
A garden and my Rosamund. Look, this line--
The rest you see is colour'd green--but this
Draws thro' the chart to her.
This blood-red line?
Ay! blood, perchance, except thou see to her.
And where is she? There in her English nest?
Would God she were--no, here within the city.
We take her from her secret bower in Anjou
And pass her to her secret bower in England.
She is ignorant of all but that I love her.
My liege, I pray thee let me hence: a widow
And orphan child, whom one of thy wild barons--
Ay, ay, but swear to see to her in England.
Well, well, I swear, but not to please myself.
Whatever come between us?
What should come
Between us, Henry?
Nay--I know not, Thomas.
What need then? Well--whatever come between us. [_Going_.
A moment! thou didst help me to my throne
In Theobald's time, and after by thy wisdom
Hast kept it firm from shaking; but now I,
For my realm's sake, myself must be the wizard
To raise that tempest which will set it trembling
Only to base it deeper. I, true son
Of Holy Church--no croucher to the Gregories
That tread the kings their children underheel--
Must curb her; and the Holy Father, while
This Barbarossa butts him from his chair,
Will need my help--be facile to my hands.
Now is my time. Yet--lest there should be flashes
And fulminations from the side of Rome,
An interdict on England--I will have
My young son Henry crown'd the King of England,
That so the Papal bolt may pass by England,
As seeming his, not mine, and fall abroad.
I'll have it done--and now.
Surely too young
Even for this shadow of a crown; and tho'
I love him heartily, I can spy already
A strain of hard and headstrong in him. Say,
The Queen should play his kingship against thine!
I will not think so, Thomas. Who shall crown him?
Canterbury is dying.
The next Canterbury.
And who shall he be, my friend Thomas? Who?
Name him; the Holy Father will confirm him.
HENRY (_lays his hand on_ BECKET'S _shoulder_).
Mock me not. I am not even a monk.
Thy jest--no more. Why--look--is this a sleeve
For an archbishop?
But the arm within
Is Becket's, who hath beaten down my foes.
A soldier's, not a spiritual arm.
I lack a spiritual soldier, Thomas--
A man of this world and the next to boot.
There's Gilbert Foliot.
He! too thin, too thin.
Thou art the man to fill out the Church robe;
Your Foliot fasts and fawns too much for me.
Roger of York.
Roger is Roger of York.
King, Church, and State to him but foils wherein
To set that precious jewel, Roger of York.
Henry of Winchester?
Him who crown'd Stephen--
King Stephen's brother! No; too royal for me.
And I'll have no more Anselms.
Sire, the business
Of thy whole kingdom waits me: let me go.
Answer me first.
Then for thy barren jest
Take thou mine answer in bare commonplace--
Ay, but _Nolo
Archiepiscopari_, my good friend,
Is quite another matter.
A more awful one.
Make _me_ archbishop! Why, my liege, I know
Some three or four poor priests a thousand times
Fitter for this grand function. _Me_ archbishop!
God's favour and king's favour might so clash
That thou and I----That were a jest indeed!
Thou angerest me, man: I do not jest.
_Enter_ ELEANOR _and_ SIR REGINALD FITZURSE.
Over! the sweet summer closes,
The reign of the roses is done--
HENRY (_to_ BECKET, _who is going_).
Thou shalt not go. I have not ended with thee.
ELEANOR (_seeing chart on table_).
This chart with the red line! her bower! whose bower?
The chart is not mine, but Becket's: take it, Thomas.
Becket! O--ay--and these chessmen on the floor--the king's crown
broken! Becket hath beaten thee again--and thou hast kicked down the
board. I know thee of old.
True enough, my mind was set upon other matters.
What matters? State matters? love matters?
My love for thee, and thine for me.
Over! the sweet summer closes,
The reign of the roses is done;
Over and gone with the roses,
And over and gone with the sun.
Here; but our sun in Aquitaine lasts longer. I would I were in
Aquitaine again--your north chills me.
Over! the sweet summer closes,
And never a flower at the close;
Over and gone with the roses,
And winter again and the snows.
That was not the way I ended it first--but unsymmetrically,
preposterously, illogically, out of passion, without art--like a song
of the people. Will you have it? The last Parthian shaft of a forlorn
Cupid at the King's left breast, and all left-handedness and
And never a flower at the close,
Over and gone with the roses,
Not over and gone with the rose.
True, one rose will outblossom the rest, one rose in a bower. I speak
after my fancies, for I am a Troubadour, you know, and won the violet
at Toulouse; but my voice is harsh here, not in tune, a nightingale
out of season; for marriage, rose or no rose, has killed the golden
Madam, you do ill to scorn wedded love.
So I do. Louis of France loved me, and I dreamed that I loved Louis
of France: and I loved Henry of England, and Henry of England dreamed
that he loved me; but the marriage-garland withers even with the
putting on, the bright link rusts with the breath of the first
after-marriage kiss, the harvest moon is the ripening of the harvest,
and the honeymoon is the gall of love; he dies of his honeymoon. I
could pity this poor world myself that it is no better ordered.
Dead is he, my Queen? What, altogether? Let me swear nay to that by
this cross on thy neck. God's eyes! what a lovely cross! what jewels!
Doth it please you? Take it and wear it on that hard heart of yours--
[_Gives it to him_.
HENRY (_puts it on_).
On this left breast before so hard a heart,
To hide the scar left by thy Parthian dart.
Has my simple song set you jingling? Nay, if I took and translated
that hard heart into our Provencal facilities, I could so play about
it with the rhyme--
That the heart were lost in the rhyme and the matter in the metre. May
we not pray you, Madam, to spare us the hardness of your facility?
The wells of Castaly are not wasted upon the desert. We did but jest.
There's no jest on the brows of Herbert there. What is it, Herbert?
_Enter_ HERBERT OF BOSHAM.
My liege, the good Archbishop is no more.
Peace to his soul!
I left him with peace on his face--that sweet other-world smile, which
will be reflected in the spiritual body among the angels. But he
longed much to see your Grace and the Chancellor ere he past, and his
last words were a commendation of Thomas Becket to your Grace as his
successor in the archbishoprick.
Ha, Becket! thou rememberest our talk!
My heart is full of tears--I have no answer.
Well, well, old men must die, or the world would grow mouldy, would
only breed the past again. Come to me to-morrow. Thou hast but to hold
out thy hand. Meanwhile the revenues are mine. A-hawking, a-hawking!
If I sit, I grow fat.
[_Leaps over the table, and exit_.
He did prefer me to the chancellorship,
Believing I should ever aid the Church--
But have I done it? He commends me now
From out his grave to this archbishoprick.
A dead man's dying wish should be of weight.
_His_ should. Come with me. Let me learn at full
The manner of his death, and all he said.
[_Exeunt_ HERBERT _and_ BECKET.
Fitzurse, that chart with the red line--thou sawest it--her bower.
Ay--there lies the secret of her whereabouts, and the King gave it to
To this son of a London merchant--how your Grace must hate him.
Hate him? as brave a Soldier as Henry and a goodlier man: but thou--
dost thou love this Chancellor, that thou hast sworn a voluntary
allegiance to him?
Not for my love toward him, but because he had the love of the King.
How should a baron love a beggar on horseback, with the retinue of
three kings behind him, outroyalling royalty? Besides, he holp the
King to break down our castles, for the which I hate him.
For the which I honour him. Statesman not Churchman he. A great and
sound policy that: I could embrace him for it: you could not see the
King for the kinglings.
Ay, but he speaks to a noble as tho' he were a churl, and to a churl
as if he were a noble.
Pride of the plebeian!
And this plebeian like to be Archbishop!
True, and I have an inherited loathing of these black sheep of the
Papacy. Archbishop? I can see further into a man than our hot-headed
Henry, and if there ever come feud between Church and Crown, and I do
not then charm this secret out of our loyal Thomas, I am not Eleanor.
Last night I followed a woman in the city here. Her face was veiled,
but the back methought was Rosamund--his paramour, thy rival. I can
feel for thee.
Thou feel for me!--paramour--rival! King Louis had no paramours, and I
loved him none the more. Henry had many, and I loved him none the
less--now neither more nor less--not at all; the cup's empty. I would
she were but his paramour, for men tire of their fancies; but I fear
this one fancy hath taken root, and borne blossom too, and she, whom
the King loves indeed, is a power in the State. Rival!--ay, and when
the King passes, there may come a crash and embroilment as in
Stephen's time; and her children--canst thou not--that secret matter
which would heat the King against thee (_whispers him and he starts_).
Nay, that is safe with me as with thyself: but canst thou not--thou
art drowned in debt--thou shalt have our love, our silence, and our
gold--canst thou not--if thou light upon her--free me from her?
Well, Madam, I have loved her in my time.
No, my bear, thou hast not. My Courts of Love would have held thee
guiltless of love--the fine attractions and repulses, the delicacies,
Madam, I loved according to the main purpose and intent of nature.
I warrant thee! thou wouldst hug thy Cupid till his ribs cracked--
enough of this. Follow me this Rosamund day and night, whithersoever
she goes; track her, if thou canst, even into the King's lodging, that
I may (_clenches her fist_)--may at least have my cry against him and
her,--and thou in thy way shouldst be
jealous of the King, for thou in thy way didst once,
what shall I call it, affect her thine own self.
Ay, but the young colt winced and whinnied and
flung up her heels; and then the King came honeying
about her, and this Becket, her father's friend, like
enough staved us from her.
Yea, by the Blessed Virgin! There were more than
I buzzing round the blossom--De Tracy--even that
flint De Brito.
Carry her off among you; run in upon her and
devour her, one and all of you; make her as hateful
to herself and to the King, as she is to me.
I and all would be glad to wreak our spite on the
rose-faced minion of the King, and bring her to the
level of the dust, so that the King--
Let her eat it like the serpent, and be driven out
of her paradise.
SCENE I.--BECKET'S _House in London. Chamber barely furnished_. BECKET
_unrobing_. HERBERT OF BOSHAM _and_ SERVANT.
Shall I not help your lordship to your rest?
Friend, am I so much better than thyself
That thou shouldst help me? Thou art wearied out
With this day's work, get thee to thine own bed.
Leave me with Herbert, friend. [_Exit_ SERVANT.
Help me off, Herbert, with this--and this.
Was not the people's blessing as we past
Heart-comfort and a balsam to thy blood?
The people know their Church a tower of strength,
A bulwark against Throne and Baronage.
Too heavy for me, this; off with it, Herbert!
Is it so much heavier than thy Chancellor's robe?
No; but the Chancellor's and the Archbishop's
Together more than mortal man can bear.
Not heavier than thine armour at Thoulouse?
O Herbert, Herbert, in my chancellorship
I more than once have gone against the Church.
To please the King?
Ay, and the King of kings,
Or justice; for it seem'd to me but just
The Church should pay her scutage like the lords.
But hast thou heard this cry of Gilbert Foliot
That I am not the man to be your Primate,
For Henry could not work a miracle--
Make an Archbishop of a soldier?
For Gilbert Foliot held himself the man.
Am I the man? My mother, ere she bore me,
Dream'd that twelve stars fell glittering out of heaven
Into her bosom.
Ay, the fire, the light,
The spirit of the twelve Apostles enter'd
Into thy making.
And when I was a child,
The Virgin, in a vision of my sleep,
Gave me the golden keys of Paradise. Dream,
Or prophecy, that?
Well, dream and prophecy both.
And when I was of Theobald's household, once--
The good old man would sometimes have his jest--
He took his mitre off, and set it on me,
And said, 'My young Archbishop--thou wouldst make
A stately Archbishop!' Jest or prophecy there?
Both, Thomas, both.
Am I the man? That rang
Within my head last night, and when I slept
Methought I stood in Canterbury Minster,
And spake to the Lord God, and said, 'O Lord,
I have been a lover of wines, and delicate meats,
And secular splendours, and a favourer
Of players, and a courtier, and a feeder
Of dogs and hawks, and apes, and lions, and lynxes.
Am _I_ the man?' And the Lord answer'd me,
'Thou art the man, and all the more the man.'
And then I asked again, 'O Lord my God,
Henry the King hath been my friend, my brother,
And mine uplifter in this world, and chosen me
For this thy great archbishoprick, believing
That I should go against the Church with him.
And I shall go against him with the Church,
And I have said no word of this to him:
'Am _I_ the man?' And the Lord answer'd me,
'Thou art the man, and all the more the man.'
And thereupon, methought, He drew toward me,
And smote me down upon the Minster floor.
God make not thee, but thy foes, fall.
I fell. Why fall? Why did He smite me? What?
Shall I fall off--to please the King once more?
Not fight--tho' somehow traitor to the King--
My truest and mine utmost for the Church?
Thou canst not fall that way. Let traitor be;
For how have fought thine utmost for the Church,
Save from the throne of thine archbishoprick?
And how been made Archbishop hadst thou told him,
'I mean to fight mine utmost for the Church,
Against the King?'
But dost thou think the King
Forced mine election?
I do think the King
Was potent in the election, and why not?
Why should not Heaven have so inspired the King?
Be comforted. Thou art the man--be thou
A mightier Anselm.
I do believe thee, then. I am the man.
And yet I seem appall'd--on such a sudden
At such an eagle-height I stand and see
The rift that runs between me and the King.
I served our Theobald well when I was with him;
I served King Henry well as Chancellor;
I am his no more, and I must serve the Church.
This Canterbury is only less than Rome,
And all my doubts I fling from me like dust,
Winnow and scatter all scruples to the wind,
And all the puissance of the warrior,
And all the wisdom of the Chancellor,
And all the heap'd experiences of life,
I cast upon the side of Canterbury--
Our holy mother Canterbury, who sits
With tatter'd robes. Laics and barons, thro'
The random gifts of careless kings, have graspt
Her livings, her advowsons, granges, farms,
And goodly acres--we will make her whole;
Not one rood lost. And for these Royal customs,
These ancient Royal customs--they _are_ Royal,
Not of the Church--and let them be anathema,
And all that speak for them anathema.
Thomas, thou art moved too much.
O Herbert, here
I gash myself asunder from the King,
Tho' leaving each, a wound; mine own, a grief
To show the scar for ever--his, a hate
Not ever to be heal'd.
_Enter_ ROSAMUND DE CLIFFORD, _flying from_ SIR REGINALD
FITZURSE. _Drops her veil_.
Rosamund de Clifford!
Save me, father, hide me--they follow me--
and I must not be known.
Pass in with Herbert there.
[_Exeunt_ ROSAMUND _and_ HERBERT _by side door_.
Ay! what wouldst thou, Reginald?
Why--why, my lord, I follow'd--follow'd one--
And then what follows? Let me follow thee.
It much imports me I should know her name.
The woman that I follow'd hither.
Perhaps it may import her all as much
Not to be known.
And what care I for that?
Come, come, my lord Archbishop; I saw that door
Close even now upon the woman.
FITZURSE (_making for the door_).
Nay, let me pass, my lord, for I must know.
Then tell me who and what she is.
Art thou so sure thou followedst anything?
Go home, and sleep thy wine off, for thine eyes
Glare stupid--wild with wine.
FITZURSE (_making to the door_).
I must and will.
I care not for thy new archbishoprick.
Back, man, I tell thee! What!
Shall I forget my new archbishoprick
And smite thee with my crozier on the skull?
'Fore God, I am a mightier man than thou.
It well befits thy new archbishoprick
To take the vagabond woman of the street
Into thine arms!
O drunken ribaldry!
Out, beast! out, bear!
I shall remember this.
Do, and begone! [_Exit_ FITZURSE.
[_Going to the door, sees_ DE TRACY.]
Tracy, what dost thou here?
My lord, I follow'd Reginald Fitzurse.
Follow him out!
I shall remember this
Do. These be those baron-brutes
That havock'd all the land in Stephen's day.
Rosamund de Clifford.
_Re-enter_ ROSAMUND _and_ HERBERT.
Here am I.
We gave thee to the charge of John of Salisbury.
To pass thee to thy secret bower to-morrow.
Wast thou not told to keep thyself from sight?
Poor bird of passage! so I was; but, father,
They say that you are wise in winged things,
And know the ways of Nature. Bar the bird
From following the fled summer--a chink--he's out,
Gone! And there stole into the city a breath
Full of the meadows, and it minded me
Of the sweet woods of Clifford, and the walks
Where I could move at pleasure, and I thought
Lo! I must out or die.
Or out _and_ die.
And what hast thou to do with this Fitzurse?
Nothing. He sued my hand. I shook at him.
He found me once alone. Nay--nay--I cannot
Tell you: my father drove him and his friends,
De Tracy and De Brito, from our castle.
I was but fourteen and an April then.
I heard him swear revenge.
Why will you court it
By self-exposure? flutter out at night?
Make it so hard to save a moth from the fire?
I have saved many of 'em. You catch 'em, so,
Softly, and fling them out to the free air.
They burn themselves _within_-door.
Our good John
Must speed you to your bower at once. The child
Is there already.
Yes--the child--the child--
O rare, a whole long day of open field.
Ay, but you go disguised.
O rare again!
We'll baffle them, I warrant. What shall it be?
I'll go as a nun.
What, not good enough
Even to play at nun?
Dan John with a nun,
That Map, and these new railers at the Church
May plaister his clean name with scurrilous rhymes!
Go like a monk, cowling and clouding up
That fatal star, thy Beauty, from the squint
Of lust and glare of malice. Good night! good night!
Father, I am so tender to all hardness!
Nay, father, first thy blessing.
Well, well! I ask no more. Heaven bless thee! hence!
O, holy father, when thou seest him next,
Commend me to thy friend.
Herbert, take out a score of armed men
To guard this bird of passage to her cage;
And watch Fitzurse, and if he follow thee,
Make him thy prisoner. I am Chancellor yet.
[_Exeunt_ HERBERT _and_ ROSAMUND.
Poor soul! poor soul!
My friend, the King!... O thou Great Seal of England,
Given me by my dear friend the King of England--
We long have wrought together, thou and I--
Now must I send thee as a common friend
To tell the King, my friend, I am against him.
We are friends no more: he will say that, not I.
The worldly bond between us is dissolved,
Not yet the love: can I be under him
As Chancellor? as Archbishop over him?
Go therefore like a friend slighted by one
That hath climb'd up to nobler company.
Not slighted--all but moan'd for: thou must go.
I have not dishonour'd thee--I trust I have not;
Not mangled justice. May the hand that next
Inherits thee be but as true to thee
As mine hath been! O, my dear friend, the King!
O brother!--I may come to martyrdom.
I am martyr in myself already.--Herbert!
My lord, the town is quiet, and the moon
Divides the whole long street with light and shade.
No footfall--no Fitzurse. We have seen her home.
The hog hath tumbled himself into some corner,
Some ditch, to snore away his drunkenness
Into the sober headache,--Nature's moral
Against excess. Let the Great Seal be sent
Back to the King to-morrow.
Must that be?
The King may rend the bearer limb from limb
Think on it again.
Against the moral excess
No physical ache, but failure it may be
Of all we aim'd at. John of Salisbury
Hath often laid a cold hand on my heats,
And Herbert hath rebuked me even now.
I will be wise and wary, not the soldier
As Foliot swears it.--John, and out of breath!
_Enter_ JOHN OF SALISBURY.
JOHN OF SALISBURY.
Thomas, thou wast not happy taking charge
Of this wild Rosamund to please the King,
Nor am I happy having charge of her--
The included Danae has escaped again
Her tower, and her Acrisius--where to seek?
I have been about the city.
Thou wilt find her
Back in her lodging. Go with her--at once--
To-night--my men will guard you to the gates.
Be sweet to her, she has many enemies.
Send the Great Seal by daybreak. Both, good night!
SCENE II.--_Street in Northampton leading to the Castle_.
ELEANOR'S RETAINERS _and_ BECKET'S RETAINERS _fighting. Enter_ ELEANOR
_and_ BECKET _from opposite streets_.
Peace, friends! what idle brawl is this?
RETAINER OF BECKET.
They said--her Grace's people--thou wast found--
Liars! I shame to quote 'em--caught, my lord,
With a wanton in thy lodging--Hell requite 'em!
RETAINER OF ELEANOR.
My liege, the Lord Fitzurse reported this
In passing to the Castle even now.
RETAINER OF BECKET.
And then they mock'd us and we fell upon 'em,
For we would live and die for thee, my lord,
However kings and queens may frown on thee.
BECKET TO HIS RETAINERS.
Go, go--no more of this!
ELEANOR TO HER RETAINERS.
Away!--(_Exeunt_ RETAINERS) Fitzurse--
Nay, let him be.
No, no, my Lord Archbishop,
'Tis known you are midwinter to all women,
But often in your chancellorship you served
The follies of the King.
No, not these follies!
My lord, Fitzurse beheld her in your lodging.
Well--you know--the minion, Rosamund.
He had good eyes!
Then hidden in the street
He watch'd her pass with John of Salisbury
And heard her cry 'Where is this bower of mine?'
Good ears too!
You are going to the Castle,
Will you subscribe the customs?
I leave that,
Knowing how much you reverence Holy Church,
My liege, to your conjecture.
I and mine--
And many a baron holds along with me--
Are not so much at feud with Holy Church
But we might take your side against the customs--
So that you grant me one slight favour.
A sight of that same chart which Henry gave you
With the red line--'her bower.'
And to what end?
That Church must scorn herself whose fearful Priest
Sits winking at the license of a king,
Altho' we grant when kings are dangerous
The Church must play into the hands of kings;
Look! I would move this wanton from his sight
And take the Church's danger on myself.
For which she should be duly grateful.
Tho' she that binds the bond, herself should see
That kings are faithful to their marriage vow.
Ay, Madam, and queens also.
And queens also!
What is your drift?
My drift is to the Castle,
Where I shall meet the Barons and my King. [_Exit_.
DE BROC, DE TRACY, DE BRITO, DE MORVILLE (_passing_).
To the Castle?
Stir up the King, the Lords!
Set all on fire against him!
Ay, good Madam! [_Exeunt_.
Fool! I will make thee hateful to thy King.
Churl! I will have thee frighted into France,
And I shall live to trample on thy grave.
SCENE III.--_The Hall in Northampton Castle_.
_On one side of the stage the doors of an inner Council-chamber,
half-open. At the bottom, the great doors of the Hall_. ROGER
ARCHBISHOP OF YORK, FOLIOT BISHOP OF LONDON, HILARY OF CHICHESTER,
BISHOP OF HEREFORD, RICHARD DE HASTINGS (_Grand Prior of Templars_),
PHILIP DE ELEEMOSYNA (_the Pope's Almoner_), _and others_. DE BROC,
FITZURSE, DE BRITO, DE MORVILLE, DE TRACY, _and other_ BARONS
_assembled--a table before them_. JOHN OF OXFORD, _President of the
_Enter_ BECKET _and_ HERBERT OF BOSHAM.
Where is the King?
ROGER OF YORK.
Gone hawking on the Nene,
His heart so gall'd with thine ingratitude,
He will not see thy face till thou hast sign'd
These ancient laws and customs of the realm.
Thy sending back the Great Seal madden'd him,
He all but pluck'd the bearer's eyes away.
Take heed, lest he destroy thee utterly.
Then shalt thou step into my place and sign.
ROGER OF YORK.
Didst thou not promise Henry to obey
These ancient laws and customs of the realm?
Saving the honour of my order--ay.
Customs, traditions,--clouds that come and go;
The customs of the Church are Peter's rock.
ROGER OF YORK.
Saving thine order! But King Henry sware
That, saving his King's kingship, he would grant thee
The crown itself. Saving thine order, Thomas,
Is black and white at once, and comes to nought.
O bolster'd up with stubbornness and pride,
Wilt thou destroy the Church in fighting for it,
And bring us all to shame?
Roger of York,
When I and thou were youths in Theobald's house,
Twice did thy malice and thy calumnies
Exile me from the face of Theobald.
Now I am Canterbury and thou art York.
ROGER OF YORK.
And is not York the peer of Canterbury?
Did not Great Gregory bid St. Austin here
Found two archbishopricks, London and York?
What came of that? The first archbishop fled,
And York lay barren for a hundred years.
Why, by this rule, Foliot may claim the pall
For London too.
And with good reason too,
For London had a temple and a priest
When Canterbury hardly bore a name.
The pagan temple of a pagan Rome!
The heathen priesthood of a heathen creed!
Thou goest beyond thyself in petulancy!
Who made thee London? Who, but Canterbury?
JOHN OF OXFORD.
Peace, peace, my lords! these customs are no longer
As Canterbury calls them, wandering clouds,
But by the King's command are written down,
And by the King's command I, John of Oxford,
The President of this Council, read them.
JOHN OF OXFORD (_reads_).
'All causes of advowsons and presentations, whether between laymen or
clerics, shall be tried in the King's court.'
But that I cannot sign: for that would drag
The cleric before the civil judgment-seat,
And on a matter wholly spiritual.
JOHN OF OXFORD.
'If any cleric be accused of felony, the Church shall not protect him:
but he shall answer to the summons of the King's court to be tried
And that I cannot sign.
Is not the Church the visible Lord on earth?
Shall hands that do create the Lord be bound
Behind the back like laymen-criminals?
The Lord be judged again by Pilate? No!
JOHN OF OXFORD.
'When a bishoprick falls vacant, the King, till another be appointed,
shall receive the revenues thereof.'
And that I cannot sign. Is the King's treasury
A fit place for the monies of the Church,
That be the patrimony of the poor?
JOHN OF OXFORD.
'And when the vacancy is to be filled up, the King shall summon the
chapter of that church to court, and the election shall be made in the
Chapel Royal, with the consent of our lord the King, and by the advice
of his Government.'
And that I cannot sign: for that would make
Our island-Church a schism from Christendom,
And weight down all free choice beneath the throne.
And was thine own election so canonical,
If it were not, Gilbert Foliot,
I mean to cross the sea to France, and lay
My crozier in the Holy Father's hands,
And bid him re-create me, Gilbert Foliot.
Nay; by another of these customs thou
Wilt not be suffer'd so to cross the seas
Without the license of our lord the King.
That, too, I cannot sign.
DE BROC, DE BRITO, DE TRACY, FITZURSE, DE
MORVILLE, _start up--a clash of swords_.
Sign and obey!
My lords, is this a combat or a council?
Are ye my masters, or my lord the King?
Ye make this clashing for no love o' the customs
Or constitutions, or whate'er ye call them,
But that there be among you those that hold
Lands reft from Canterbury.
And mean to keep them,
In spite of thee!
Sign, and obey the crown!
The crown? Shall I do less for Canterbury
Than Henry for the crown? King Stephen gave
Many of the crown lands to those that helpt him;
So did Matilda, the King's mother. Mark,
When Henry came into his own again,
Then he took back not only Stephen's gifts,
But his own mother's, lest the crown should be
Shorn of ancestral splendour. This did Henry.
Shall I do less for mine own Canterbury?
And thou, De Broc, that holdest Saltwood Castle--
And mean to hold it, or--
To have my life.
The King is quick to anger; if thou anger him,
We wait but the King's word to strike thee dead.
Strike, and I die the death of martyrdom;
Strike, and ye set these customs by my death
Ringing their own death-knell thro' all the realm.
And I can tell you, lords, ye are all as like
To lodge a fear in Thomas Becket's heart
As find a hare's form in a lion's cave.
JOHN OF OXFORD.
Ay, sheathe your swords, ye will displease the King.
Why down then thou! but an he come to Saltwood,
By God's death, thou shalt stick him like a calf!
[_Sheathing his sword_.
O my good lord, I do entreat thee--sign.
Save the King's honour here before his barons.
He hath sworn that thou shouldst sign, and now but shuns
The semblance of defeat; I have heard him say
He means no more; so if thou sign, my lord,
That were but as the shadow of an assent.
'Twould seem too like the substance, if I sign'd.
PHILIP DE ELEEMOSYNA.
My lord, thine ear! I have the ear of the Pope.
As thou hast honour for the Pope our master,
Have pity on him, sorely prest upon
By the fierce Emperor and his Antipope.
Thou knowest he was forced to fly to France;
He pray'd me to pray thee to pacify
Thy King; for if thou go against thy King,
Then must he likewise go against thy King,
And then thy King might join the Antipope,
And that would shake the Papacy as it stands.
Besides, thy King swore to our cardinals
He meant no harm nor damage to the Church.
Smoothe thou his pride--thy signing is but form;
Nay, and should harm come of it, it is the Pope
Will be to blame--not thou. Over and over
He told me thou shouldst pacify the King,
Lest there be battle between Heaven and Earth,
And Earth should get the better--for the time.
Cannot the Pope absolve thee if thou sign?
Have I the orders of the Holy Father?
PHILIP DE ELEEMOSYNA.
Orders, my lord--why, no; for what am I?
The secret whisper of the Holy Father.
Thou, that hast been a statesman, couldst thou always
Blurt thy free mind to the air?
If Rome be feeble, then should I be firm.
Take it not that way--balk not the Pope's will.
When he hath shaken off the Emperor,
He heads the Church against the King with thee.
RICHARD DE HASTINGS (_kneeling_).
Becket, I am the oldest of the Templars;
I knew thy father; he would be mine age
Had he lived now; think of me as thy father!
Behold thy father kneeling to thee, Becket.
Submit; I promise thee on my salvation
That thou wilt hear no more o' the customs.
Hath Henry told thee? hast thou talk'd with him?
_Another_ TEMPLAR (_kneeling_).
Father, I am the youngest of the Templars,
Look on me as I were thy bodily son,
For, like a son, I lift my hands to thee.
Wilt thou hold out for ever, Thomas Becket?
Dost thou not hear?
Why--there then--there--I sign,
And swear to obey the customs.
Is it thy will,
My lord Archbishop, that we too should sign?
O ay, by that canonical obedience
Thou still hast owed thy father, Gilbert Foliot.
Loyally and with good faith, my lord Archbishop?
O ay, with all that loyalty and good faith
Thou still hast shown thy primate, Gilbert Foliot.
[BECKET _draws apart with_ HERBERT.
Herbert, Herbert, have I betray'd the Church?
I'll have the paper back--blot out my name.
Too late, my lord: you see they are signing there.
False to myself--it is the will of God
To break me, prove me nothing of myself!
This Almoner hath tasted Henry's gold.
The cardinals have finger'd Henry's gold.
And Rome is venal ev'n to rottenness.
I see it, I see it.
I am no soldier, as he said--at least
No leader. Herbert, till I hear from the Pope
I will suspend myself from all my functions.
If fast and prayer, the lacerating scourge--
FOLIOT (_from the table_).
My lord Archbishop, thou hast yet to seal.
First, Foliot, let me see what I have sign'd.
[_Goes to the table_.
What, this! and this!--what! new and old together!
Seal? If a seraph shouted from the sun,
And bad me seal against the rights of the Church,
I would anathematise him. I will not seal.
[_Exit with_ HERBERT.
_Enter_ KING HENRY.
Where's Thomas? hath he sign'd? show me the papers!
Sign'd and not seal'd! How's that?
JOHN OF OXFORD.
He would not seal.
And when he sign'd, his face was stormy-red--
Shame, wrath, I know not what. He sat down there
And dropt it in his hands, and then a paleness,
Like the wan twilight after sunset, crept
Up even to the tonsure, and he groan'd,
'False to myself! It is the will of God!'
God's will be what it will, the man shall seal,
Or I will seal his doom. My burgher's son--
Nay, if I cannot break him as the prelate,
I'll crush him as the subject. Send for him back.
[_Sits on his throne_.
Barons and bishops of our realm of England,
After the nineteen winters of King Stephen--
A reign which was no reign, when none could sit
By his own hearth in peace; when murder common
As nature's death, like Egypt's plague, had fill'd
All things with blood; when every doorway blush'd,
Dash'd red with that unhallow'd passover;
When every baron ground his blade in blood;
The household dough was kneaded up with blood;
The millwheel turn'd in blood; the wholesome plow
Lay rusting in the furrow's yellow weeds,
Till famine dwarft the race--I came, your King!
Nor dwelt alone, like a soft lord of the East,
In mine own hall, and sucking thro' fools' ears
The flatteries of corruption--went abroad
Thro' all my counties, spied my people's ways;
Yea, heard the churl against the baron--yea,
And did him justice; sat in mine own courts
Judging my judges, that had found a King
Who ranged confusions, made the twilight day,
And struck a shape from out the vague, and law
From madness. And the event--our fallows till'd,
Much corn, repeopled towns, a realm again.
So far my course, albeit not glassy-smooth,
Had prosper'd in the main, but suddenly
Jarr'd on this rock. A cleric violated
The daughter of his host, and murder'd him.
Bishops--York, London, Chichester, Westminster--
Ye haled this tonsured devil into your courts;
But since your canon will not let you take
Life for a life, ye but degraded him
Where I had hang'd him. What doth hard murder care
For degradation? and that made me muse,
Being bounden by my coronation oath
To do men justice. Look to it, your own selves!
Say that a cleric murder'd an archbishop,
What could ye do? Degrade, imprison him--
Not death for death.
JOHN OF OXFORD.
But I, my liege, could swear,
To death for death.
And, looking thro' my reign,
I found a hundred ghastly murders done
By men, the scum and offal of the Church;
Then, glancing thro' the story of this realm,
I came on certain wholesome usages,
Lost in desuetude, of my grandsire's day,
Good royal customs--had them written fair
For John of Oxford here to read to you.
JOHN OF OXFORD.
And I can easily swear to these as being
The King's will and God's will and justice; yet
I could but read a part to-day, because----
Because my lord of Canterbury----
This lord of Canterbury----
As is his wont
Too much of late whene'er your royal rights
Are mooted in our councils----
--made an uproar.
And Becket had my bosom on all this;
If ever man by bonds of gratefulness--
I raised him from the puddle of the gutter,
I made him porcelain from the clay of the city--
Thought that I knew him, err'd thro' love of him,
Hoped, were he chosen archbishop, Church and Crown,
Two sisters gliding in an equal dance,
Two rivers gently flowing side by side--
The bird that moults sings the same song again,
The snake that sloughs comes out a snake again.
Snake--ay, but he that lookt a fangless one,
Issues a venomous adder.
For he, when having dofft the Chancellor's robe--
Flung the Great Seal of England in my face--
Claim'd some of our crown lands for Canterbury--
My comrade, boon companion, my co-reveller,
The master of his master, the King's king.--
God's eyes! I had meant to make him all but king.
Chancellor-Archbishop, he might well have sway'd
All England under Henry, the young King,
When I was hence. What did the traitor say?
False to himself, but ten-fold false to me!
The will of God--why, then it is my will--
Is he coming?
With a crowd of worshippers,
And holds his cross before him thro' the crowd,
As one that puts himself in sanctuary.
ROGER OF YORK.
His cross! I'll front him, cross to cross.
[_Exit_ ROGER OF YORK.
His cross! it is the traitor that imputes
Treachery to his King!
It is not safe for me to look upon him.
[_Goes in with his_ BARONS _to the Council Chamber,
the door of which is left open_.
_Enter_ BECKET, _holding his cross of silver before him_.
_The_ BISHOPS _come round him_.
The King will not abide thee with thy cross.
Permit me, my good lord, to bear it for thee,
Being thy chaplain.
No: it must protect me.
As once he bore the standard of the Angles,
So now he bears the standard of the angels.
I am the Dean of the province: let me bear it.
Make not thy King a traitorous murderer.
Did not your barons draw their swords against me?
_Enter_ ROGER OF YORK, _with his cross,
advancing to_ BECKET.
Wherefore dost thou presume to bear thy cross,
Against the solemn ordinance from Rome,
Out of thy province?
ROGER OF YORK.
Why dost thou presume,
Arm'd with thy cross, to come before the King?
If Canterbury bring his cross to court,
Let York bear his to mate with Canterbury.
FOLIOT (_seizing hold of_ BECKET'S _cross_).
Nay, nay, my lord, thou must not brave the King.
Nay, let me have it. I will have it!
[_Flinging him off_.
_He_ fasts, they say, this mitred Hercules!
_He_ fast! is that an arm of fast? My lord,
Hadst thou not sign'd, I had gone along with thee;
But thou the shepherd hast betray'd the sheep,
And thou art perjured, and thou wilt not seal.
As Chancellor thou wast against the Church,
Now as Archbishop goest against the King;
For, like a fool, thou knowst no middle way.
Ay, ay! but art thou stronger than the King?
Strong--not in mine own self, but Heaven; true
To either function, holding it; and thou
Fast, scourge thyself, and mortify thy flesh,
Not spirit--thou remainest Gilbert Foliot,
A worldly follower of the worldly strong.
I, bearing this great ensign, make it clear
Under what Prince I fight.
My lord of York,
Let us go in to the Council, where our bishops
And our great lords will sit in judgment on him.
Sons sit in judgment on their father!--then
The spire of Holy Church may prick the graves--
Her crypt among the stars. Sign? seal? I promised
The King to obey these customs, not yet written,
Saving mine order; true too, that when written
I sign'd them--being a fool, as Foliot call'd me.
I hold not by my signing. Get ye hence,
Tell what I say to the King.
[_Exeunt_ HEREFORD, FOLIOT, _and other_ BISHOPS.
ROGER OF YORK.
The Church will hate thee.
Serve my best friend and make him my worst foe;
Fight for the Church, and set the Church against me!
To be honest is to set all knaves against thee.
Ah! Thomas, excommunicate them all!
I cannot brook the turmoil thou hast raised.
I would, my lord Thomas of Canterbury,
Thou wert plain Thomas and not Canterbury,
Or that thou wouldst deliver Canterbury
To our King's hands again, and be at peace.
For hath not thine ambition set the Church
This day between the hammer and the anvil--
Fealty to the King, obedience to thyself?
What say the bishops?
Some have pleaded for him,
But the King rages--most are with the King;
And some are reeds, that one time sway to the current,
And to the wind another. But we hold
Thou art forsworn; and no forsworn Archbishop
Shall helm the Church. We therefore place ourselves
Under the shield and safeguard of the Pope,
And cite thee to appear before the Pope,
And answer thine accusers.... Art thou deaf?
I hear you. [_Clash of arms_.
Dost thou hear those others?
ROGER OF YORK (_re-entering_).
The King's 'God's eyes!' come now so thick and fast,
We fear that he may reave thee of thine own.
Come on, come on! it is not fit for us
To see the proud Archbishop mutilated.
Say that he blind thee and tear out thy tongue.
So be it. He begins at top with me:
They crucified St. Peter downward.
ROGER OF YORK.
But for their sake who stagger betwixt thine
Appeal, and Henry's anger, yield.
[_Exit_ ROGER OF YORK.
My lord, the King demands three hundred marks,
Due from his castles of Berkhamstead and Eye
When thou thereof wast warden.
Tell the King
I spent thrice that in fortifying his castles.
DE TRACY (_re-entering_.)
My lord, the King demands seven hundred marks,
Lent at the siege of Thoulouse by the King.
I led seven hundred knights and fought his wars.
DE BRITO (_re-entering_).
My lord, the King demands five hundred marks,
Advanced thee at his instance by the Jews,
For which the King was bound security.
I thought it was a gift; I thought it was a gift.
_Enter Lord_ LEICESTER (_followed by_ BARONS _and_ BISHOPS).
My lord, I come unwillingly. The King
Demands a strict account of all those revenues
From all the vacant sees and abbacies,
Which came into thy hands when Chancellor.
How much might that amount to, my lord Leicester?
Some thirty--forty thousand silver marks.
Are these your customs? O my good lord Leicester,
The King and I were brothers. All I had
I lavish'd for the glory of the King;
I shone from him, for him, his glory, his
Reflection: now the glory of the Church
Hath swallow'd up the glory of the King;
I am his no more, but hers. Grant me one day
To ponder these demands.
Hear first thy sentence!
The King and all his lords--
Son, first hear _me_!
Nay, nay, canst thou, that holdest thine estates
In fee and barony of the King, decline
The judgment of the King?
The King! I hold
Nothing in fee and barony of the King.
Whatever the Church owns--she holds it in
Free and perpetual alms, unsubject to
One earthly sceptre.
Nay, but hear thy judgment.
The King and all his barons--
Who but the bridegroom dares to judge the bride,
Or he the bridegroom may appoint? Not he
That is not of the house, but from the street
Stain'd with the mire thereof.
I had been so true
To Henry and mine office that the King
Would throne me in the great Archbishoprick:
And I, that knew mine own infirmity,
For the King's pleasure rather than God's cause
Took it upon me--err'd thro' love of him.
Now therefore God from me withdraws Himself,
And the King too.
What! forty thousand marks!
Why thou, the King, the Pope, the Saints, the world,
Know that when made Archbishop I was freed,
Before the Prince and chief Justiciary,
From every bond and debt and obligation
Incurr'd as Chancellor.
Hear me, son.
Outvalues dross, light darkness, Abel Cain,
The soul the body, and the Church the Throne,
I charge thee, upon pain of mine anathema,
That thou obey, not me, but God in me,
Rather than Henry. I refuse to stand
By the King's censure, make my cry to the Pope,
By whom I will be judged; refer myself,
The King, these customs, all the Church, to him,
And under his authority--I depart. [_Going_.