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And so the ties are too.
Card. To cut things short,
King. Decree, my lord! What! one estate decree?
Arch. He stands suspected, sir, of heresy.
King. Has he been called to make his just defence?
Card. That needs not, for 'tis known.
King. To whom?
Card. The Commons. King. What is't those gods, the Commons, do not know?
But heresy, you churchmen teach us vulgar,
Arch. We grant it has not; but—
King. Nay, give me leave,—
Card. The right of souls is still to be preferred; Religion must not suffer for a claim.
King. If kings may be excluded, or deposed,
Arch. Some say, revengeful.
King. Some then libel him;
Arch. Sir, we have many arguments to urge—
King. And I have more to answer: Let them know, My royal brother of Navarre shall stand Secure by right, by merit, and my love. God, and good men, will never fail his cause, And all the bad shall be constrained by laws.
Arch. Since gentle means to exclude Navarre are vain,
To-morrow, in the States, 'twill be proposed,
[Exeunt all but the King.
King. To-morrow Guise is made lieutenant-general;—
Why, then, to-morrow I no more am king. Tis time to push my slackened vengeance home, To be a king, or not to be at all. The vow that manacled my rage is loosed;Even heaven is wearied with repeated crimes, Till lightning flashes round, to guard the throne, And the curbed thunder grumbles to be gone.
Enter Grillon to him.
Gril. Tis just the appointed hour you bid me wait.
King. So just, as if thou wert inspired to come; As if the guardian-angel of my throne, Who had o'erslept himself so many years, Just now was roused, and brought thee to my rescue. Gril. I hear the Guise will be lieutenant-general. King. And canst thou suffer it?Gril. Nay, if you will suffer it, then well may I. If kings will be so civil to their subjects, to give up all things tamely, they first turn rebels to themselves, and that's a fair example for their friends. 'Slife, sir, 'tis a dangerous matter to be loyal on the wrong side, to serve my prince in spite of him; if you'll be a royalist yourself, there are millions of honest men will fight for you; but if you will not, there are few will hang for you.
King. No more: I am resolved. The course of things can be with-held no longer From breaking forth to their appointed end: My vengeance, ripened in the womb of time, Presses for birth, and longs to be disclosed. Grillon, the Guise is doomed to sudden death: The sword must end him:—has not thine an edge?Gril. Yes, and a point too; I'll challenge him. King. I bid thee kill him. [JValking.
Gril. So I mean to do.
King. Without thy hazard. Gril. Now I understand you; I should murder him: I am your soldier, sir, but not your hangman. King. Dost thou not hate him? Gril. Yes.
King. Hast thou not said, That he deserves it?
Gril. Yes; but how have I
King. Tis no murder;
Gril. 'Tis all confest, and yet I dare not do't.
King. Go; thou art a coward.
Gril. You are my king.
King. Thou say'st, thou dar'st not kill him.
Gril. Were I a coward, I had been a villain, And then I durst have done't.
King. Thou hast done worse, in thy long course of arms. Hast thou ne'er killed a man?
Gril. Yes, when a man would have killed me.
King. Hast thou not plundered from the helpless poor?
Snatched from the sweating labourer his food?
Gril. Sir, I have eaten and drank in my own defence, when I was hungry and thirsty; I have plundered, when you have not paid me; I have been content with a farmer's daughter, when a better whore was not to be had. As for cutting off a traitor, I'll execute him lawfully in my own function, when I meet him in the field; but for your chamber-practice, that's not my talent.
King. Is my revenge unjust, or tyrannous? Heaven knows I love not blood.
Gril. No, for your mercy is your only vice. You may dispatch a rebel lawfully, but the mischief is, that rebel has given me my life at the barricadoes, and, till I have returned his bribe, I am not upon even terms with him. King. Give me thy hand; I love thee not the worse:
Make much of honour, 'tis a soldier's conscience. Thou shalt not do this act; thou art even too good; But keep my secret, for that's conscience too.
Gril. When I disclose it, think I am a coward.
King. No more of that, I know thou art not one. Call Lognac hither straight, and St Malin; Bid Larchant find some unsuspected means, To keep guards doubled at the council-door, That none pass in or out, but those l eali: The rest I'll think on further; so farewell.
Gril. Heaven bless your majesty! Though I'll not kill him for you, I'll defend you when he's killed: Tor the honest part of the job let me alone*.
* This famous interview betwixt Grillon and the king deserved to have been brought on the stage, in a nobler strain, aild free from the buffoonery, by which the veteran's character is degraded. It is thus told by Davila: "Trattandosi delle persone, che avessero da eseguire il fatto, il Re elesse di Jidarsene nel Maestro di campo della sua guardia Griglione, uomo feroce e ardito e per molte cagioni nemico del Duca di Guisa. Fattolo perciò venire, gli espose con accomodate parole il suo pensiero, e gli significò aver disegnato, clic egli fosse quello, che eseguisse V impresa, nella quale consisteva tutta la sua salute. Griglione rispose con brevi e significanti parole : Sire, lo sono ben servitore a Vostra Maestà di somma fedeltà e divozione, ma faccio professione di soldato, e di cavaliero; s'ella vuoles eh' io vada a sfidare il Duca di Guisa, e che mi ammazzi a corpo a corpo con lui, son pronto a farlo in questo istesso punto; ma eh' io serva dimanigoldo, mentre la giustizia sua determina di farlo morire, questo non si conviene a par mio, nè sono per farlo giammai. Il Re non si stupì molto della libertà di Griglione, noto a lui e a tutta la corte per uomo schietto, e che libramento diceva i suoi sensi senza timore alcuno, e però replicò; che gli bastava, che tenesse segret»