Roxborough. Before the castle.
(Countess of Salisbury; King David; Douglas; Lorraine; First Scottish Messenger; Second Scottish Messenger; King Edward; Warwick; Artois)
The Countess of Salisbury laments and frets over her captivity and her fears that the King will not come to rescue her. She overhears King David of Scots making plans with the Duke of Lorraine, promising to keep the English busy so that they have no leisure to attack France. Lorraine leaves, and the King and the Earl of Douglas begin disputing over who should have the Countess and her jewels as booty. But at that moment a messenger runs in to announce that the English are on their way; the Earl immediately announces his intention to flee. The Countess jeers at the Scots as they run away. The Countess’s nephew Montague, arriving with the English forces, informs her that the King himself is at the head of the army. She is immediately worried about greeting him appropriately. Edward, coming in with Warwick, is quite smitten with the Countess. He wants to leave to pursue the Scots immediately, but the Countess persuades him to stay for dinner. (165 lines)
Enter the Countess.
Alas, how much in vain my poor eyes gaze
For succor that my sovereign should send!
Ah, cousin Mountague, I fear thou wants
The lively spirit, sharply to solicit
With vehement suit the king in my behalf:
Thou dost not tell him, what a grief it is
To be the scornful captive of a Scot,
Either to be wooed with broad untuned oaths,
Or forced by rough insulting barbarism;
Thou doest not tell him, if he here prevail,
How much they will deride us in the north,
And, in their wild, uncivil, skipping gigs,
Bray forth their conquest and our overthrow
Even in the barren, bleak, and fruitless air.
Enter David and Douglas, Lorraine.
I must withdraw, the everlasting foe
Comes to the wall; I’ll closely step aside,
And list their babble, blunt and full of pride.
My lord of Lorraine, to our brother of France
Commend us, as the man in Christendom
That we most reverence and entirely love.
Touching your embassage, return and say,
That we with England will not enter parley,
Nor never make fair weather, or take truce;
But burn their neighbor towns, and so persist
With eager roads beyond their city York.
And never shall our bonny riders rest,
Nor rusting canker have the time to eat
Their light borne snaffles nor their nimble spurs,
Nor lay aside their Jacks of Gymould mayle,
Nor hang their staves of grained Scottish ash
In peaceful wise upon their city walls,
Nor from their buttoned tawny leathern belts
Dismiss their biting whinyards, till your King
Cry out, “Enough! Spare England now for pity!”
Farewell, and tell him that you leave us here
Before this castle; say, you came from us,
Even when we had that yielded to our hands.
I take my leave, and fairly will return
Your acceptable greeting to my king.
Now, Douglas, to our former task again,
For the division of this certain spoil.
My liege, I crave the lady, and no more.
Nay, soft ye, sir; first I must make my choice,
And first I do bespeak her for myself.
Why then, my liege, let me enjoy her jewels.
Those are her own, still liable to her,
And who inherits her, hath those with all.
Enter First Scottish Messenger in haste.
My liege, as we were pricking on the hills,
To fetch in booty, marching hitherward,
We might descry a might host of men;
The sun, reflecting on the armor, shewed
A field of plate, a wood of picks advanced.
Bethink your highness speedily herein:
An easy march within four hours will bring
The hindmost rank unto this place, my liege.
Dislodge, dislodge! It is the king of England.
Jemmy, my man, saddle my bonny black.
Meanst thou to fight, Douglas? We are too weak.
I know it well, my liege, and therefore fly.
My lords of Scotland, will ye stay and drink?
She mocks at us, Douglas; I cannot endure it.
Say, good my lord, which is he must have the Lady,
And which her jewels? I am sure, my lords,
Ye will not hence, till you have shared the spoils.
She heard the messenger, and heard our talk;
And now that comfort makes her scorn at us.
Enter Second Scottish Messenger.
Arm, my good lord! O, we are all surprised!
After the French ambassador, my liege,
And tell him, that you dare not ride to York;
Excuse it that your bonny horse is lame.
She heard that too; intolerable grief!
Woman, farewell! Although I do not stay...
’Tis not for fear, and yet you run away.—
O happy comfort, welcome to our house!
The confident and boisterous boasting Scot,
That swore before my walls they would not back
For all the armed power of this land,
With faceless fear that ever turns his back,
Turned hence against the blasting north-east wind
Upon the bare report and name of arms.
O Summer’s day! See where my Cousin comes!
How fares my Aunt? We are not Scots;
Why do you shut your gates against your friends?
Well may I give a welcome, cousin, to thee,
For thou comst well to chase my foes from hence.
The king himself is come in person hither;
Dear aunt, descend, and gratulate his highness.
How may I entertain his majesty,
To shew my duty and his dignity?
Exit, from above.
Enter King Edward, Warwick, Artois, with others.
What, are the stealing Foxes fled and gone,
Before we could uncouple at their heels?
They are, my liege; but, with a cheerful cry,
Hot hounds and hardy chase them at the heels.
This is the countess, Warwick, is it not?
Even she, my liege; whose beauty tyrants fear,
As a May blossom with pernicious winds,
Hath sullied, withered, overcast, and done.
Hath she been fairer, Warwick, than she is?
My gracious King, fair is she not at all,
If that herself were by to stain herself,
As I have scene her when she was herself.
What strange enchantment lurked in those her eyes,
When they excelled this excellence they have,
That now her dim decline hath power to draw
My subject eyes from persing majesty,
To gaze on her with doting admiration?
In duty lower than the ground I kneel,
And for my dull knees bow my feeling heart,
To witness my obedience to your highness,
With many millions of a subject’s thanks
For this your royal presence, whose approach
Hath driven war and danger from my gate.
Lady, stand up; I come to bring thee peace,
How ever thereby I have purchased war.
No war to you, my liege; the Scots are gone,
And gallop home toward Scotland with their hate.
Least, yielding here, I pine in shameful love,
Come, we’ll pursue the Scots;—Artois, away!
A little while, my gracious sovereign, stay,
And let the power of a mighty king
Honor our roof; my husband in the wars,
When he shall hear it, will triumph for joy;
Then, dear my liege, now niggard not thy state:
Being at the wall, enter our homely gate.
Pardon me, countess, I will come no near;
I dreamed tonight of treason, and I fear.
Far from this place let ugly treason lie!
No farther off, than her conspiring eye,
Which shoots infected poison in my heart,
Beyond repulse of wit or cure of art.
Now, in the sun alone it doth not lie,
With light to take light from a mortal eye;
For here two day stars that mine eyes would see
More than the sun steals mine own light from me,
Contemplative desire, desire to be
In contemplation, that may master thee!
Warwick, Artois, to horse and let’s away!
What might I speak to make my sovereign stay?
What needs a tongue to such a speaking eye,
That more persuades than winning Oratory?
Let not thy presence, like the April sun,
Flatter our earth and suddenly be done.
More happy do not make our outward wall
Than thou wilt grace our inner house withal.
Our house, my liege, is like a country swain,
Whose habit rude and manners blunt and plain
Presageth nought, yet inly beautified
With bounties, riches and faire hidden pride.
For where the golden ore doth buried lie,
The ground, undecked with nature’s tapestry,
Seems barren, sere, unfertile, fructless, dry;
And where the upper turf of earth doth boast
His pied perfumes and party colored coat,
Delve there, and find this issue and their pride
To spring from ordure and corruption’s side.
But, to make up my all too long compare,
These ragged walls no testimony are,
What is within; but, like a cloak, doth hide
From weather’s Waste the under garnished pride.
More gracious then my terms can let thee be,
Intreat thyself to stay a while with me.
As wise, as fair; what fond fit can be heard,
When wisdom keeps the gate as beauty’s guard?—
It shall attend, while I attend on thee:
Come on, my lords; here will I host tonight.