Picardy. The fields near Cressy.
(King Edward; Audley; Artois; Derby; Audley; Prince Edward; King of Bohemia)
Seeing that Prince Edward is doing good work, the King takes a break from the fight. He hears a French retreat sounded and believes the day is won. However, Artois comes in to beg the King to rescue the Prince, who is surrounded and will almost certainly be captured or killed. Edward refuses. Derby comes in with the same plea, and then Audley, but Edward insists that the Prince must win on his own, and cannot be led to believe that his father will always rescue him. The three lords are aghast at this lack of fatherly feeling, but Prince Edward soon arrives victorious, having not only escaped but also killed the King of Bohemia. He announces the massive scale of the English victory. Edward sends his son and Audley to chase King John while he himself goes to besiege Calais. (115 lines)
Enter King Edward and Audley.
Lord Audley, whiles our son is in the chase,
With draw our powers unto this little hill,
And here a season let us breath ourselves.
I will, my lord.
Exit. Sound Retreat.
Just dooming heaven, whose secret providence
To our gross judgement is inscrutable,
How are we bound to praise thy wondrous works,
That hast this day given way unto the right,
And made the wicked stumble at themselves!
Rescue, king Edward! Rescue for thy son!
Rescue, Artois? What, is he prisoner,
Or by violence fell beside his horse?
Neither, my lord: but narrowly beset
With turning Frenchmen, whom he did pursue,
As ’tis impossible that he should scape,
Except your highness presently descend.
Tut, let him fight; we gave him arms today,
And he is laboring for a knighthood, man.
The Prince, my lord, the Prince! Oh, succour him!
He’s close incompast with a world of odds!
Then will he win a world of honor too,
If he by valour can redeem him thence;
If not, what remedy? We have more sons
Than one, to comfort our declining age.
Renowned Edward, give me leave, I pray,
To lead my soldiers where I may relieve
Your Grace’s son, in danger to be slain.
The snares of French, like emmets on a bank,
Muster about him; whilest he, lion-like,
Intangled in the net of their assaults,
Franticly wrends, and bites the woven toil;
But all in vain, he cannot free himself.
Audley, content; I will not have a man,
On pain of death, sent forth to succour him:
This is the day, ordained by destiny,
To season his courage with those grievous thoughts,
That, if he breaketh out, Nestor’s years on earth
Will make him savor still of this exploit.
Ah, but he shall not live to see those days.
Why, then his epitaph is lasting praise.
Yet, good my lord, ’tis too much willfulness,
To let his blood be spilt, that may be saved.
Exclaim no more; for none of you can tell
Whether a borrowed aid will serve, or no;
Perhaps he is already slain or ta’en.
And dare a falcon when she’s in her flight,
And ever after she’ll be haggard like:
Let Edward be delivered by our hands,
And still, in danger, he’ll expect the like;
But if himself himself redeem from thence,
He will have vanquished cheerful death and fear,
And ever after dread their force no more
Than if they were but babes or captive slaves.
O cruel Father! Farewell, Edward, then!
Farewell, sweet Prince, the hope of chivalry!
O, would my life might ransom him from death!
But soft, me thinks I hear
The dismal charge of trumpets’ loud retreat.
All are not slain, I hope, that went with him;
Some will return with tidings, good or bad.
Enter Prince Edward in triumph, bearing in his hands his chivered lance, and the King of Bohemia, borne before, wrapped in the colours. They run and embrace him.
O joyful sight! Victorious Edward lives!
Welcome, brave Prince!
Kneels and kisses his father’s hand.
First having done my duty as beseemed,
Lords, I regreet you all with hearty thanks.
And now, behold, after my winter’s toil,
My painful voyage on the boisterous sea
Of wars devouring gulfs and steely rocks,
I bring my fraught unto the wished port,
My summer’s hope, my travels’ sweet reward:
And here, with humble duty, I present
This sacrifice, this first fruit of my sword,
Cropped and cut down even at the gate of death,
The king of Boheme, father, whom I slew;
Whose thousands had entrenched me round about,
And lay as thick upon my battered crest,
As on an anvil, with their ponderous glaves:
Yet marble courage still did underprop
And when my weary arms, with often blows,
Like the continual laboring wood-man’s Axe
That is enjoined to fell a load of oaks,
Began to faulter, straight I would record
My gifts you gave me, and my zealous vow,
And then new courage made me fresh again,
That, in despite, I carved my passage forth,
And put the multitude to speedy flight.
Lo, thus hath Edward’s hand filled your request,
And done, I hope, the duty of a knight.
Aye, well thou hast deserved a knighthood, Ned!
And, therefore, with thy sword, yet reaking warm
His sword borne by a soldier.
With blood of those that fought to be thy bane.
Arise, Prince Edward, trusty knight at arms:
This day thou hast confounded me with joy,
And proud thyself fit heir unto a king.
Here is a note, my gracious lord, of those
That in this conflict of our foes were slain:
Eleven princes of esteem, four score barons,
A hundred and twenty knights, and thirty thousand
Common soldiers; and, of our men, a thousand.
Our God be praised! Now, John of France, I hope,
Thou knowest King Edward for no wantoness,
No love sick cockney, nor his soldiers jades.
But which way is the fearful king escaped?
Towards Poitiers, noble father, and his sons.
Ned, thou and Audley shall pursue them still;
Myself and Derby will to Calice straight,
And there be begirt that haven town with siege.
Now lies it on an upshot; therefore strike,
And wistly follow, whiles the game’s on foot.
What picture’s this?
A pelican, my lord,
Wounding her bosom with her crooked beak,
That so her nest of young ones may be fed
With drops of blood that issue from her heart;
The motto, Sic et vos: “And so should you”.