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SCENE XI.-Hertford. A Hall of Justice.
Enter GAOLER and his Servant, bringing forth LORD COBHAM in irons.
Gaol. Bring forth the prisoners, see the court prepared ;
The justices are coming to the bench:
So, let him stand; away and fetch the rest.
Cob. O, give me patience to endure this scourge,
Thou that art fountain of this virtuous stream;
And though contempt, false witness, and reproach
Hang on these iron gyves, to press my life
As low as earth, yet strengthen me with faith,
That I may mount in spirit above the clouds.
Re-enter GAOLER's Servant, bringing in LADY COBHAM and
Here comes my lady. Sorrow, 'tis for her
Thy wound is grievous; else I scoff at thee.
What, and poor Harpool, art thou i' the briers too?
Har. I' faith, my lord, I am in, get out how I can.
L. Cob. Say, gentle lord (for now we are alone,
And may confer), shall we confess in brief
Of whence, and what we are, and so prevent
The accusation is commenced against us?
Cob. What will that help us? Being known, sweet love,
We shall for heresy be put to death,
For so they term the religion we profess.
No, if we die, let this our comfort be,
That of the guilt imposed our souls are free.
Har. Ay, ay, my ford; Harpool is so resolved.
I reck of death the less, in that I die
Not by the sentence of that envious priest.
L. Čob. Well, be it then according as heaven please.
Enter the JUDGE of Assize, and JUSTICES; the MAYOR of St. Albans, LORD and LADY Powis, and SIR RICHARD LEE. The JUDGE and JUSTICES take their Places on the Bench.
Judge. Now, master mayor, what gentleman is that
You bring with you before us to the bench?
Mayor. The Lord Powis, an if it like your honour,
And this his lady travelling toward Wales,
Who, for they lodged last night within my house,
And my lord bishop did lay wait for such,
Were very willing to come on with me,
Lest, for their sakes, suspicion we might wrong.
Judge. We cry your honour mercy; good my lord,
Will't please you take your place. Madam, your lady ship
May here, or where you will, repose yourself,
Until this business now in hand be past.
L. Pow. I will withdraw into some other room,
So that your lordship and the rest be pleased.
Judge. With all our hearts: Attend the lady there.
Pow. Wife, I have eyed yon prisoners all this while,
And my conceit doth tell me, 'tis our friend
The noble Cobham, and his virtuous lady.
L. Pow. I think no less: are they suspected for this murder?
Pow. What it means
I cannot tell, but we shall know anon.
Meantime, as you pass by them, ask the question;
But do it secretly, that you be not seen,
And make some sign, that I may know your mind.
[She passes over the stage by them.
L. Pow. My lord Cobham! Madam!
Cob. No Cobham now, nor madam, as you love us;
But John of Lancashire, and Joan his wife.
L. Pow. O tell, what is it that our love can do
To pleasure you, for we are bound to you?
Cob. Nothing but this, that you conceal our names;
So, gentle lady, pass; for being spied-
L. Pow. My heart I leave, to bear part of your grief.
Judge. Call the prisoners to the bar. Sir Richard Lee,
What evidence can you bring against these people,
To prove them guilty of the murder done?
Sir Rich. This bloody towel, and these naked knives:
Beside, we found them sitting by the place
Where the dead body lay within a bush.
Judge. What answer you, why law should not proceed, According to this evidence given in,
To tax you with the penalty of death?
Cob. That we are free from murder's very thought, And know not how the gentleman was slain.
1 Just. How came this linen cloth so bloody then? L. Cob. My husband hot with travelling, my lord, His nose gush'd out a bleeding: that was it.
2 Just. But how came your sharp-edged knives unsheath'd?
L. Cob. To cut such simple victual as we had.
Judge. Say we admit this answer to those articles,
What made you in so private a dark nook,
So far remote from any common path,
As was the thick+ where the dead corpse was thrown ?
Cob. Journeying, my lord, from London, from the term,
Down into Lancashire, where we do dwell,
And what with age and travel being faint,
We gladly sought a place where we might rest,
Free from resort of other passengers;
And so we stray'd into that secret corner.
Judge. These are but ambages to drive off time,
And linger justice from her purposed end.
Enter CONSTABLE, with the IRISHMAN, SIR JOHN, and DOLL. But who are these?
*I. e. what were you doing?
+ Thick, for thicket.
The law terms are mentioned in our ancient dramas as the great eras of business, pleasure, and profit.
Con. Stay judgment, and release those innocents;
For here is he whose hand hath done the deed
For which they stand indicted at the bar;
This savage villain, this rude Irish slave:
His tongue already hath confess'd the fact,
And here is witness to confirm as much.
Sir John. Yes, my good lord; no sooner had he slain
His loving master for the wealth he had,
But I upon the instant met with him:
And what he purchased with the loss of blood,
With strokes I presently bereaved him of:
Some of the which is spent; the rest remaining
I willingly surrender to the hands
Of old Sir Richard Lee, as being his :
Beside, my lord judge, I do greet your honour
With letters from my lord of Rochester.
[Delivers a letter.
Sir Rich. Is this the wolf whose thirsty throat did drink
My dear son's blood? art thou the cursed snake
He cherish'd, yet with envious piercing sting
Assail'dst him mortally? Wer't not that the law
Stands ready to revenge thy cruelty,
Traitor to God, thy master, and to me,
These hands should be thy executioner.
Judge. Patience, Sir Richard Lee, you shall have justice.
The fact is odious; therefore take him hence,
And being hang'd until the wretch be dead,
His body after shall be hang'd in chains,
Near to the place where he did act the murder.
Irishm. Prethee lord shudge, let me have mine own clothes, my strouces* there; and let me be hang'd in a wyth† after my country, the Irish fashion.
Judge. Go to; away with him. And now, Sir John, [Exeunt GAOLER and IRISHMAN.
Although by you this murder came to light,
Yet upright law will not hold you excused,
For you did rob the Irishman; by which
You stand attainted here of felony:
Beside, you have been lewd, and many years
Led a lascivious, unbeseeming life.
Sir John. O but, my lord, Sir John repents, and he will mend.
Judge. In hope thereof, together with the favour
My lord of Rochester entreats for you,
We are contented that you shall be proved.
Sir John. I thank your lordship.
Judge. These other, falsely here
Accused, and brought in peril wrongfully,
We in like sort do set at liberty.
Sir Rich. And for amends,
Touching the wrong unwittingly I have done,
I give these few crowns.
+ A band made of twigs. I. e. remain in a state of probation.
FIRST PART OF SIR JOHN OLDCASTLE.
Judge. Your kindness merits praise, Sir Richard Lee:
So let us hence. [Exeunt all except Powis and COBHAM.
Pow. But Powis still must stay.
There yet remains a part of that true love
He owes his noble friend, unsatisfied
And unperform'd; which first of all doth bind me
To gratulate your lordship's safe delivery;
And then entreat, that since unlook'd-for thus
We here are met, your honour would vouchsafe
To ride with me to Wales, where, to my power,
Though not to quittance those great benefits
I have received of you, yet both my house,
My purse, my servants, and what else I have,
Are all at your command. Deny me not:
I know the bishop's hate pursues you so,
As there's no safety in abiding here.
Cob. 'Tis true, my lord, and God forgive him for it.
Pow. Then let us hence. You shall be straight provided
Of lusty geldings: and once enter'd Wales,
Well may the bishop hunt; but, spite his face,
He never more shall have the game in chase.