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106.—THE DEATH OF EDWARD II.
Enter Matrevis, Gurney, and Soldiers, with King Edward.
Mat. My lord, be not pensive ; we are your friends :
Men are ordain'd to live in misery ;
Therefore, come ; dalliance dangereth our lives.
Edw. Friends, whither must unhappy Edward go ?
Will hateful Mortimer appoint no rest ?
Must I be vexed like the nightly bird
Whose sight is loathsome to all winged fowls ?
When will the fury of his mind assuage ?
When will his heart be satisfied with blood ;
If mine will serve, unbowel straight this breast,
And give my heart to Isabel and him :
It is the chiefest mark they level at.
Gur. Not so, my liege, the queen hath given this charge,
To keep your grace in safety :
Your passions make your dolours to increase.
Edw. This usage makes my misery increase.
But can my air of life continue long,
When all my senses are annoyed with stench ?
Within a dungeon England's king is kept,
Where I am starv'd for want of sustenance
My daily diet is heart-breaking sobs,
That almost rent the closet of my heart :
Thus lives old Edward not reliev'd by any,
And so must die, though pitièd by many
Oh, water, gentle friends, to cool my thirst,
And clear my body from foul excrements !
Mat. Here's channel-water, as our charge is given :
Sit down, for we'll be barbers to your grace.
Edw. Traitors, away ! what, will you murder me, Or choke your sovereign with puddle-water ?
Gur. No, but wash your face, and shave away your beard, Lest you be known, and so be rescued.
Mat. Why strive you thus ! your labour is in vain.
Edw. The wren may strive against the lion's strength,
But all in vain : so vainly do I strive
To seek for mercy at a tyrant's hand.
[They wash him with puddle-water, and shave his beard.
Immortal powers, that know the painful cares
That wait upon my poor distressed soul,
Oh, level all your looks upon these daring men
That wrong their liege and sovereign, England's king !
Oh, Gaveston, it is for thee that I am wrong'd !
For me both thou and both the Spensers died ;
And for your sakes a thousand wrongs I'll take.
The Spensers' ghosts, wherever they remain,
Wish well to mine ; then, tush, for them I'll die.
Mat. 'Twist theirs and yours shall be no enmity. Come, come, away! now put the torches out ; We'll enter in by darkness to Killingworth.
Enter the younger Mortimer.
Y. Mor. The king must die, or Mortimer goes down ;
The commons now begin to pity him :
Yet he that is the cause of Edward's death,
Is sure to pay for it when his son's of age ;
And therefore will I do it cunningly.
This letter written by a friend of ours,
Contains his death, yet bids them save his life ;
Edwardum occidere nolite timere, bonum est,
Fear not to kill the king, 'tis good he die ;
But read it thus, and that's another sense ;
Edwardum occidere nolite, timere bonum est,
Kill not the king, 'tis good to fear the worst.
Unpointed as it is, thus shalt it go,
That, being dead, if it chance to be found,
Matrevis and the rest may bear the blame,
And we be quit that caus'd it to be done.
Within this room is lock'd the messenger
That shall convey it, and perform the rest ;
And by a secret token that he bears,
Shall he be murder'd when the deed is done.
Lightborn, come forth !
Art thou so resolute as thou wast?
Light. What else, my lord ? and far more resolute.
Y. Mor. And hast thou cast how to accomplish it?
Light. Ay, ay; and none shall know which way he died.
Y. Mor. But at his looks, Lightborn, thou wilt relent.
Light. Relent! ha! ha! I use much to relent.
Y. Mor. Well, do it bravely, and be secret.
Light. You shall not need to give instructions ;
'Tis not the first time I have kill'd a man :
I learn'd in Naples how to poison flowers ;
To strangle with a lawn thrust down the throat;
To pierce the wind-pipe with a needle's point;
Or, whilst one is asleep, to take a quill,
And blow a little powder in his ears ;
Or open his mouth, and pour quick-silver down.
But yet I have a braver way than these.
Y. Mor. What's that ?
Light. Nay, you shall pardon me ; none shall know my tricks.
Y. Mor. I care not how it is, so it be not spied.
Deliver this to Gurney and Matrevis
[Gives letter. At every ten-mile end thou hast a horse : Take this [Gives money]: away, and never see me more !
Light. No ?
1. Mor. No; unless thou bring me news of Edward's death.
Light. That will I quickly do. Farewell, my lord.
Enter Matrevis and Gurney.
Mat. Gurney, I wonder the king dies not,
Being in a vault up to the knees in water,
To which the channels of the castle run,
From whence a damp continually ariseth,
That were enough to poison any man,
Much more a king, brought up so tenderly.
Gur. And so do I, Matrevis : yesternight
I open'd but the door to throw him meat,
And I was almost stifled with his savour.
Mat. He hath a body able to endure
More than we can inflict : and therefore now
Let us assail his mind another while.
Gur. Send for him out thence, and I will anger him.
Mat. But stay; who's this?
Enter Lightborn Light. My Lord Protector greets you.
[Gives lotter Gur. What's here ? I know not how to construe it.
Mat. Gurney, it was left unpointed for the nonce ;
Edwardum occidere nolite timere,
That's his meaning.
Light. Know you this token ? I must have the king.
[Gines token. Mat. Ay, stay a while, thou shalt have answer straight This villain's sent to make away the king.
Gur. I thought as much.
Mat. And, when the murder's done,
See, how he must be handled for his labour,
Pereat iste! Let him have the king;
What else 1—Here is the keys, this is the lake :
Do as you are commanded by my lord.
Light. I know what I must do. Get you away :
Yet be not far off ; I shall need your help:
See that in the next room I have a fire,
And get me a spit, and let it be red hot.
Mat. Very well.
Gur. Need you any thing besides ?
Light. What else ? a table and a feather bed.
Gur. That's all ?
Light. Ay, ay : so, when I call you, bring it in.
Mat. Fear not thou that.
Gur. Here's a light to go into the dungeon,
[Exit with Matrevis.
Light. So, now must I about this gear : ne'er was there any
So finely handled as this king shall be.-
Foh, here's a place indeed, with all my heart !
Edw. Who's there? what light is that ? wherefore com'st thou ?
Light. To comfort you, and bring you joyful news.
Edw. Small comfort finds poor Edward in thy looks :
Villain, I know thou com’st to murder me.
Light. To murder you, my most gracious lord !
Far is it from my heart to do you harm.
The queen sent me to see how you were used,
For she relents at this your misery :
And what eyes can refrain from shedding tears,
To sec a king in this most piteous state ?
Edw. Weep'st thou alrcady ? list a while to me,
And then thy heart, were it as Gurney's is,
Or as Matrevis', hewn from the Caucasus,
Yet will it melt, ere I have done my tale.
This dungeon where they keep me, is the sink
Wherein the filth of all the castle falls.
Light. Ok, villains !
Edw. And there, in mire and puddle have I stood
This ten days' space ; and, lest that I should sleep,
One plays continually upon a drum;
They give me bread and water, being a king;
So that, for want of sleep and sustenance,
My mind's distemper'd, and my body's numb'd,
And whether I have limbs or not I know not.
Oh, would my blood dropp'd out from every vein,
As doth this water from my tatter'd robes !
Tell Isabel the queen, I look'd not thus,
When for her sake I ran at tilt in France,
And there unbors’d the Duke of Cleremont.
Light. Oh, speak no more, my lord ! this breaks my heart.
Lie on this bed, and rest yourself a while,
Edr. These looks of thine can harbour nought but death,
I see my tragedy written in thy brows.
Yet stay a while ; forbear thy bloody hand,
And let me see the stroke before it comes,
That even then when I shall lose my life,
My mind may be more stedfast on my God.
Light. What means your highness to mistrust me thus ?
Edw. What mean'st thou to dissemble with me thus ?
Light. These hands were never stain'd with innocent blood.
Nor shall they now be tainted with a king's.
Edw. Forgive my thought for having such a thought. One jewel have I left ; receive thou this :
[Giving jewel. Still fear I, and I know not what's the cause, But every joint shakes as I give it thee. Oh, if thou harbour’st murder in thy heart, Let this gift change thy mind, and save thy soul ! Know that I am a king : oh, at that name I feel a hell of grief! where is my crown? Gone, gone! and do I still remain alive?
Light. You're ever-watch'd, my lord : lie down and rest.
Edw. But that grief keeps me waking, I should sleep ; For not these ten days have these eye-lids clos’d.
Now, as I speak, they fall; and yet with fear
Open again. Oh, wherefore sitt'st thou here?
Light. If you mistrust me, I'll be gone, my lord.
Edw. No, no; for, if thou mean'st to murder me,
Thou wilt return again ; and therefore stay.
Light. Ho sleeps.
Edu. Oh, let me not die yet ! oh, stay a while !
Light. How now, my lord ?
Edw. Something still buzzeth in my ears,
And tells me, if I sleep, I never wake :
This fear is that which makes me tremble thus;
And therefore tell me, wherefore art thou come ?
Light. To rid thee of thy life.—Matrevis, come!
Enter Matrevis and Gurney.
Edw. I am too weak and feeble to resist.
Assist me, sweet God, and receive my soul !
Light. Run for the table.
Edw. Oh, spare me, or despatch me in a trice !
Matrevis brings in a table. King Edward is murdered by holding
him down on the bed with the table, and stamping on it.
Light. So, lay the table down, and stamp on it,
But not too hard, lest that you bruise his body.
Mat. I fear me that this cry will raise the town,
And therefore let us take horse and away.
Light. Tell me, sirs, was it not bravely done?
Gur. Excellent well: take this for thy reward.
Come, let us cast the body in the moat,
And bear the king's to Mortimer our lord :
[Exeunt with the bodies.
107.-THE ENGLISH POSSESSIONS IN FRANCE.
B. ST. LEGER. There are few subjects connected with English history of which the general reader is more apt to lose sight, than the acquisition, the continuance, and the loss, of those possessions in France, which became attached to our own crown from its being worn by the princes of the lines of Normandy and of Anjou. The matters relating to these provinces are but episodical to the main story of our country ;-they were rather foreign dominions of the king than dependencies of the kingdom. From these causes, they appear upon the stage of our history only at distant and unconnected periods, when they chanced in any way to act upon the policy or the fortunes of England ;-and thus no distinct, consecutive, and unbroken picture remains impressed upon the mind concerning them.
The English power in Aquitaine arose, as is well known, from the marriage of Henry II., with Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, and Countess of Poitou, the repudiated wife of Louis VII. of France. Eleanor had accompanied her first husband into Palestine, during one of the Crusades,—where, as he suspected, she was false to him in favour of a young Saracen. On his return to France, he applied to this