Yorkshire. Within the Forest of Gaultree.
(Archbishop of York; Mowbray; Lord Bardolph; Hastings; Messenger; Earl of Westmorland; Prince John)
The rebels have received news that Northumberland will not be joining them. Westmoreland comes to them from Prince John of Lancaster, the leader of the royalist forces, and asks them the reasons for their rebellion. The Archbishop lists off a number of grievances, but Westmoreland argues that they are all specious reasons for a revolt. The Archbishop sends him back to Prince John with a written list of the rebels’ complaints; in Westmoreland’s absence, the rebels confer and are divided over their chances of success. The Archbishop is convincing when he argues that the King is too weak to risk standing up to the rebellion. Westmoreland returns and asks the rebel leaders to come to a parley with Prince John, and they agree. (233 lines)
Enter the Archbishop of York, Mowbray, Lord Bardolph, Hastings, and others, within the forest of Gaultree.
What is this forest call’d?
’Tis Gaultree forest, and’t shall please your Grace.
Here stand, my lords, and send discoverers forth
To know the numbers of our enemies.
We have sent forth already.
’Tis well done.
My friends and brethren in these great affairs,
I must acquaint you that I have receiv’d
New-dated letters from Northumberland,
Their cold intent, tenure, and substance thus:
Here doth he wish his person, with such powers
As might hold sortance with his quality,
The which he could not levy; whereupon
He is retir’d, to ripe his growing fortunes,
To Scotland, and concludes in hearty prayers
That your attempts may overlive the hazard
And fearful meeting of their opposite.
Thus do the hopes we have in him touch ground
And dash themselves to pieces.
Now, what news?
West of this forest, scarcely off a mile,
In goodly form comes on the enemy,
And by the ground they hide, I judge their number
Upon or near the rate of thirty thousand.
The just proportion that we gave them out.
Let us sway on and face them in the field.
What well-appointed leader fronts us here?
I think it is my Lord of Westmorland.
Health and fair greeting from our general,
The Prince, Lord John and Duke of Lancaster.
Say on, my Lord of Westmorland, in peace,
What doth concern your coming.
Then, my lord,
Unto your Grace do I in chief address
The substance of my speech. If that rebellion
Came like itself, in base and abject routs,
Led on by bloody youth, guarded with rage,
And countenanc’d by boys and beggary—
I say, if damn’d commotion so appear’d
In his true, native, and most proper shape,
You, reverend father, and these noble lords
Had not been here to dress the ugly form
Of base and bloody insurrection
With your fair honors. You, Lord Archbishop,
Whose see is by a civil peace maintain’d,
Whose beard the silver hand of peace hath touch’d,
Whose learning and good letters peace hath tutor’d,
Whose white investments figure innocence,
The dove, and very blessed spirit of peace,
Wherefore do you so ill translate yourself
Out of the speech of peace that bears such grace,
Into the harsh and boist’rous tongue of war?
Turning your books to graves, your ink to blood,
Your pens to lances, and your tongue divine
To a loud trumpet and a point of war?
Wherefore do I this? So the question stands.
Briefly, to this end: we are all diseas’d,
And with our surfeiting and wanton hours
Have brought ourselves into a burning fever,
And we must bleed for it; of which disease
Our late King Richard (being infected) died.
But, my most noble Lord of Westmorland,
I take not on me here as a physician,
Nor do I as an enemy to peace
Troop in the throngs of military men;
But rather show a while like fearful war
To diet rank minds sick of happiness,
And purge th’ obstructions which begin to stop
Our very veins of life. Hear me more plainly.
I have in equal balance justly weigh’d
What wrongs our arms may do, what wrongs we suffer,
And find our griefs heavier than our offenses.
We see which way the stream of time doth run,
And are enforc’d from our most quiet there
By the rough torrent of occasion,
And have the summary of all our griefs
(When time shall serve) to show in articles;
Which long ere this we offer’d to the King,
And might by no suit gain our audience.
When we are wrong’d and would unfold our griefs,
We are denied access unto his person
Even by those men that most have done us wrong.
The dangers of the days but newly gone,
Whose memory is written on the earth
With yet appearing blood, and the examples
Of every minute’s instance (present now)
Hath put us in these ill-beseeming arms,
Not to break peace, or any branch of it,
But to establish here a peace indeed,
Concurring both in name and quality.
When ever yet was your appeal denied?
Wherein have you been galled by the King?
What peer hath been suborn’d to grate on you?
That you should seal this lawless bloody book
Of forg’d rebellion with a seal divine.
My brother general, the commonwealth,
I make my quarrel in particular.
There is no need of any such redress,
Or if there were, it not belongs to you.
Why not to him in part, and to us all
That feel the bruises of the days before,
And suffer the condition of these times
To lay a heavy and unequal hand
Upon our honors?
O, my good Lord Mowbray,
Construe the times to their necessities,
And you shall say, indeed, it is the time,
And not the King, that doth you injuries.
Yet, for your part, it not appears to me,
Either from the King or in the present time,
That you should have an inch of any ground
To build a grief on. Were you not restor’d
To all the Duke of Norfolk’s signories,
Your noble and right well-rememb’red father’s?
What thing, in honor, had my father lost,
That need to be reviv’d and breath’d in me?
The King that lov’d him, as the state stood then,
Was force perforce compell’d to banish him;
And then that Henry Bullingbrook and he,
Being mounted and both roused in their seats,
Their neighing coursers daring of the spur,
Their armed staves in charge, their beavers down,
Their eyes of fire sparkling through sights of steel,
And the loud trumpet blowing them together;
Then, then, when there was nothing could have stay’d
My father from the breast of Bullingbrook,
O, when the King did throw his warder down
(His own life hung upon the staff he threw),
Then threw he down himself and all their lives
That by indictment and by dint of sword
Have since miscarried under Bullingbrook.
You speak, Lord Mowbray, now you know not what.
The Earl of Herford was reputed then
In England the most valiant gentleman.
Who knows on whom fortune would then have smil’d?
But if your father had been victor there,
He ne’er had borne it out of Coventry;
For all the country in a general voice
Cried hate upon him; and all their prayers and love
Were set on Herford, whom they doted on
And bless’d and grac’d and did, more than the King—
But this is mere digression from my purpose.
Here come I from our princely general
To know your griefs, to tell you from his Grace
That he will give you audience, and wherein
It shall appear that your demands are just,
You shall enjoy them, every thing set off
That might so much as think you enemies.
But he hath forc’d us to compel this offer,
And it proceeds from policy, not love.
Mowbray, you overween to take it so;
This offer comes from mercy, not from fear.
For lo, within a ken our army lies:
Upon mine honor, all too confident
To give admittance to a thought of fear.
Our battle is more full of names than yours,
Our men more perfect in the use of arms,
Our armor all as strong, our cause the best;
Then reason will our hearts should be as good.
Say you not then our offer is compell’d.
Well, by my will we shall admit no parley.
That argues but the shame of your offense:
A rotten case abides no handling.
Hath the Prince John a full commission,
In very ample virtue of his father,
To hear and absolutely to determine
Of what conditions we shall stand upon?
That is intended in the general’s name.
I muse you make so slight a question.
Then take, my Lord of Westmorland, this schedule,
For this contains our general grievances:
Each several article herein redress’d,
All members of our cause, both here and hence,
That are ensinewed to this action
Acquitted by a true substantial form
And present execution of our wills—
To us and to our purposes confin’d
We come within our awful banks again,
And knit our powers to the arm of peace.
This will I show the general. Please you, lords,
In sight of both our battles we may meet,
And either end in peace, which God so frame!
Or to the place of diff’rence call the swords
Which must decide it.
My lord, we will do so.
There is a thing within my bosom tells me
That no conditions of our peace can stand.
Fear you not that; if we can make our peace
Upon such large terms and so absolute
As our conditions shall consist upon,
Our peace shall stand as firm as rocky mountains.
Yea, but our valuation shall be such
That every slight and false-derived cause,
Yea, every idle, nice, and wanton reason,
Shall to the King taste of this action,
That were our royal faiths martyrs in love,
We shall be winnow’d with so rough a wind
That even our corn shall seem as light as chaff,
And good from bad find no partition.
No, no, my lord, note this: the King is weary
Of dainty and such picking grievances,
For he hath found to end one doubt by death
Revives two greater in the heirs of life;
And therefore will he wipe his tables clean
And keep no tell-tale to his memory
That may repeat and history his loss
To new remembrance; for full well he knows
He cannot so precisely weed this land
As his misdoubts present occasion.
His foes are so enrooted with his friends
That, plucking to unfix an enemy,
He doth unfasten so and shake a friend,
So that this land, like an offensive wife
That hath enrag’d him on to offer strokes,
As he is striking, holds his infant up
And hangs resolv’d correction in the arm
That was uprear’d to execution.
Besides, the King hath wasted all his rods
On late offenders, that he now doth lack
The very instruments of chastisement,
So that his power, like to a fangless lion,
May offer, but not hold.
’Tis very true,
And therefore be assur’d, my good Lord Marshal,
If we do now make our atonement well,
Our peace will, like a broken limb united,
Grow stronger for the breaking.
Be it so.
Here is return’d my Lord of Westmorland.
The Prince is here at hand. Pleaseth your lordship
To meet his Grace just distance ’tween our armies.
Your Grace of York, in God’s name then set forward.
Before, and greet his Grace.—My lord, we come.
They march about the stage and then move forward to meet Prince John.