Flanders. The French camp.
(King John of France; Charles of Normandy; Philip; Duke of Lorraine; King of Bohemia; Danes; Polish Captain; Soldiers; French Mariner)
King John of France and the Duke of Lorraine discuss their preparedness to deal with Edward. They are slightly worried by the reports of the forces and allies Edward has managed to assemble, but are fairly confident. The allies of the French arrive, led by the King of Bohemia, and are warmly welcomed. But this cannot last, as a French Mariner comes in to report that Edward’s fleet has arrived on the shores of France, and that the English King has already added the royal symbols of France to his flag. King John rapidly disposes his forces in expectation of a land assault, while waiting to hear how the battle at sea turns out. John and his son sit and eat as the battle rages; they soon find out that Edward has bested the French. John rushes to prepare his army for imminent fighting. (189 lines)
Enter King John of France, his two sons, Charles of Normandy, and Philip, and the Duke of Lorraine.
Here, till our navy of a thousand sail
Have made a breakfast to our foe by sea,
Let us encamp, to wait their happy speed.—
Lorraine, what readiness is Edward in?
How hast thou heard that he provided is
Of martial furniture for this exploit?
To lay aside unnecessary soothing,
And not to spend the time in circumstance,
’Tis bruited for a certainty, my lord,
That he’s exceeding strongly fortified;
His subjects flock as willingly to war,
As if unto a triumph they were led.
England was wont to harbor malcontents,
Blood thirsty and seditious Catelynes,
Spend thrifts, and such as gape for nothing else
But changing and alteration of the state;
And is it possible
That they are now so loyal in themselves?
All but the Scot, who solemnly protests,
As heretofore I have informed his grace,
Never to sheath his sword or take a truce.
Ah, that’s the anchorage of some better hope!
But, on the other side, to think what friends
King Edward hath retained in Netherland,
Among those ever-bibbing Epicures,
Those frothy Dutch men, puff’d with double beer,
That drink and swill in every place they come,
Doth not a little aggravate mine ire;
Besides, we hear, the Emperor conjoins,
And stalls him in his own authority;
But, all the mightier that their number is,
The greater glory reaps the victory.
Some friends have we beside domestic power;
The stern Polonian, and the warlike Dane,
The King of Boheme and of Sicily,
Are all become confederates with us,
And, as I think, are marching hither apace.
But soft, I hear the music of their drums,
By which I guess that their approach is near.
Enter the King of Bohemia, with Danes, and a Polish Captain, with other soldiers, another way.
King John of France, as league and neighborhood
Requires, when friends are any way distrest,
I come to aide thee with my country’s force.
And from great Moscow, fearful to the Turk,
And lofty Poland, nurse of hardy men,
I bring these servitors to fight for thee,
Who willingly will venture in thy cause.
Welcome, Bohemian king, and welcome all:
This your great kindness I will not forget.
Besides your plentiful rewards in crowns,
That from our treasury ye shall receive,
There comes a hare brained nation, decked in pride,
The spoil of whom will be a treble gain.
And now my hope is full, my joy complete:
At sea, we are as puissant as the force
Of Agamemnon in the haven of Troy;
By land, with Zerxes we compare of strength,
Whose soldiers drank up rivers in their thirst;
Then Bayard-like, blind, overweaning Ned,
To reach at our imperial diadem
Is either to be swallowed of the waves,
Or hacked a pieces when thou comest ashore.
Enter French Mariner.
Near to the coast I have descried, my lord,
As I was buy in my watchful charge,
The proud armado of King Edward’s ships:
Which, at the first, far off when I did ken,
Seemed as it were a grove of withered pines;
But, drawing near, their glorious bright aspect,
Their streaming ensigns, wrought of colored silk,
Like to a meadow full of sundry flowers,
Adorns the naked bosom of the earth:
Majestical the order of their course,
Figuring the horned circle of the moon:
And on the top gallant of the admiral
And likewise all the handmaids of his train
The arms of England and of France unite
Are quartered equally by heralds’ art:
Thus, tightly carried with a merry gale,
They plough the ocean hitherward amain.
Dare he already crop the Fleur de Luce?
I hope, the honey being gathered thence,
He, with the spider, afterward approached,
Shall suck forth deadly venom from the leaves.—
But where’s our navy? How are they prepared
To wing themselves against this flight of ravens?
They, having knowledge, brought them by the scouts,
Did break from Anchor straight, and, puffed with rage,
No otherwise then were their sails with wind,
Made forth, as when the empty eagle flies,
To satisfy his hungry griping maw.
There’s for thy news. Return unto thy bark;
And if thou scape the bloody stroke of war
And do survive the conflict, come again,
And let us hear the manner of the fight.
Exit French Mariner.
Mean space, my lords, ’tis best we be dispersed
To several places, least they chance to land:
First you, my lord, with your Bohemian troops,
Shall pitch your battailes on the lower hand;
My eldest son, the Duke of Normandy,
Together with the aide of Muscovites,
Shall climb the higher ground another way;
Here in the middle cost, betwixt you both,
Philip, my youngest boy, and I will lodge.
So, lords, be gone, and look unto your charge:
You stand for France, an empire fair and large.
Now tell me, Philip, what is thy concept,
Touching the challenge that the English make?
I say, my lord, claim Edward what he can,
And bring he ne’er so plain a pedigree,
’Tis you are in the possession of the crown,
And that’s the surest point of all the law:
But, were it not, yet ere he should prevail,
I’ll make a conduit of my dearest blood,
Or chase those straggling upstarts home again.
Well said, young Philip! Call for bread and wine,
That we may cheer our stomachs with repast,
To look our foes more sternly in the face.
A table and provisions brought in. The battle hard a far off.
Now is begun the heavy day at sea:
Fight, Frenchmen, fight! Be like the field of bears,
When they defend their younglings in the caves!
Stir, angry nemesis, the happy helm,
That, with the sulphur battles of your rage,
The English fleet may be dispersed and sunk.
O Father, how this echoing cannon shot,
Like sweet harmony, digests my eats!
Now, boy, thou hearest what thundering terror ’tis
To buckle for a kingdom’s sovereignty:
The earth, with giddy trembling when it shakes,
Or when the exhalations of the air
Breaks in extremity of lightning flash,
Affrights not more than kings, when they dispose
To shew the rancor of their high swollen hearts.
Retreat is sounded; one side hath the worse;
O, if it be the French, sweet fortune, turn;
And, in thy turning, change the forward winds,
That, with advantage of a favoring sky,
Our men may vanquish, and the other fly!
Enter French Mariner.
My heart misgives:—say, mirror of pale death,
To whom belongs the honor of this day?
Relate, I pray thee, if thy breath will serve,
The sad discourse of this discomfiture.
I will, my lord.
My gracious sovereign, Franch hath ta’en the foil,
And boasting Edward triumphs with success.
These iron-hearted navies,
When last I was reporter to your grace,
Both full of angry spleen, of hope, and fear,
Hasting to meet each other in the face,
At last conjoined; and by their admiral
Our admiral encountered many shot:
By this, the other, that beheld these twain
Give earnest penny of a further wrack,
Like fiery dragons took their haughty flight;
And, likewise meeting, from their smoky wombs
Sent many grim ambassadors of death.
Then ’gan the day to turn to gloomy night,
And darkness did as well enclose the quick
As those that were but newly reft of life.
No leisure served for friends to bid farewell;
And, if it had, the hideous noise was such,
As each to other seemed deaf and dumb.
Purple the sea, whose channel filled as fast
With streaming gore, that from the maimed fell,
As did her gushing moisture break into
The crannied cleftures of the through shot planks.
Here flew a head, dissever’d from the trunk,
There mangled arms and legs were tossed aloft,
As when a whirl wind takes the summer dust
And scatters it in middle of the air.
Then might ye see the reeling vessels split,
And tottering sink into the ruthless flood,
Until their lofty tops were seen no more.
All shifts were tried, both for defense and hurt:
And now the effect of valor and of force,
Of resolution and of cowardice,
We lively pictures; how the one for fame,
The other by compulsion laid about;
Much did the Nonpareille, that brave ship;
So did the Black Snake of Bullen, then which
A bonnier vessel never yet spread sail.
But all in vain; both sun, the wind and tide,
Revolted all unto our foe men’s side,
That we perforce were fain to give them way,
And they are landed.—Thus my tale is done:
We have untimely lost, and they have won.
Then rests there nothing, but with present speed
To join our several forces all in one,
And bid them battle, ere they range too far.
Come, gentle Philip, let us hence depart;
This soldier’s words have pierced thy father’s heart.