Poitou. Fields near Poitiers. The English camp.
(Prince Edward; King John; Charles; Artois; Philip; Audley)
Both King John and the Duke of Normandy have been captured and are brought before Prince Edward. John insists that the English only won by luck, not by skill. Philip too is brought in a prisoner. So is the wounded Audley, who thinks himself near to death. The Prince refuses to let him die, offering him a great reward for his service that day, and calling for a litter to carry him with them as they march to Calais. (64 lines)
Enter Prince Edward, King John, Charles, and all, with ensigns spread.
Now, John in France, and lately John of France,
Thy bloody ensigns are my captive colours;
And you, high vaunting Charles of Normandy,
That once today sent me a horse to fly,
Are now the subjects of my clemency.
Fie, lords! Is it not a shame that English boys,
Whose early days are yet not worth a beard,
Should in the bosom of your kingdom thus,
One against twenty, beat you up together?
Thy fortune, not thy force, hath conquered us.
An argument that heaven aides the right.
Enter Artois with Philip.
See, see! Artois doth bring with him along
The late good counsel giver to my soul.
Welcome, Artois; and welcome, Philip, too:
Who now of you or I have need to pray?
Now is the proverb verified in you:
“Too bright a morning breeds a low’ring day.”
Sound Trumpets. Enter Audley.
But say, what grim discouragement comes here!
Alas, what thousand armed men of France
Have writ that note of death in Audley’s face?
Speak, thou that wooest death with thy careless smile,
And lookst so merrily upon thy grave,
As if thou were enamored on thine end:
What hungry sword hath so bereaved thy face,
And lopped a true friend from my loving soul?
O Prince, thy sweet bemoaning speech to me
Is as a mournful knell to one dead-sick.
Dear Audley, if my tongue ring out thy end,
My arms shall be thy grave: what may I do
To win thy life, or to revenge thy death?
If thou wilt drink the blood of captive kings,
Or that it were restorative, command
A health of kings’ blood, and I’ll drink to thee;
If honor may dispense for thee with death,
The never dying honor of this day
Share wholly, Audley, to thyself, and live.
Victorious Prince,—that thou art so, behold
A Caesar’s fame in king’s captivity—
If I could hold him death but at a bay,
Till I did see my liege thy royal father,
My soul should yield this castle of my flesh,
This mangled tribute, with all willingness,
To darkness, consummation, dust, and worms.
Cheerily, bold man, thy soul is all too proud
To yield her city for one little breach;
Should be divorced from her earthly spouse
By the soft temper of a Frenchman’s sword?
Lo, to repair thy life, I give to thee
Three thousand marks a year in English land.
I take thy gift, to pay the debts I owe:
These two poor esquires redeemed me from the French
With lusty and dear hazard of their lives:
What thou hast given me, I give to them;
And, as thou lovest me, prince, lay thy consent
To this bequeath in my last testament.
Renowned Audley, live, and have from me
This gift twice doubled to these esquires and thee:
But live or die, what thou hast given away
To these and theirs shall lasting freedom stay.
Come, gentlemen, I will see my friend bestowed
With in an easy litter; then we’ll march
Proudly toward Callice, with triumphant pace,
Unto my royal father, and there bring
The tribute of my wars, fair France his king.