ACT 5 SCENE III. Windsor. A room in the Castle.
[Enter BOLINGBROKE as King, HENRY PERCY, and other LORDS.]
Can no man tell me of my unthrifty son?
'Tis full three months since I did see him last.
If any plague hang over us, 'tis he.
I would to God, my lords, he might be found.
Inquire at London, 'mongst the taverns there,
For there, they say, he daily doth frequent
With unrestrained loose companions,
Even such, they say, as stand in narrow lanes
And beat our watch and rob our passengers;
Which he, young wanton and effeminate boy,
Takes on the point of honour to support
So dissolute a crew.
My lord, some two days since I saw the prince,
And told him of those triumphs held at Oxford.
And what said the gallant?
His answer was: he would unto the stews,
And from the common'st creature pluck a glove
And wear it as a favour; and with that
He would unhorse the lustiest challenger.
As dissolute as desperate; yet through both
I see some sparks of better hope, which elder years
May happily bring forth. But who comes here?
Where is the King?
What means our cousin that he stares and looks
God save your Grace! I do beseech your majesty,
To have some conference with your Grace alone.
Withdraw yourselves, and leave us here alone.
[Exeunt HENRY PERCY and LORDS.]
What is the matter with our cousin now?
[Kneels.] For ever may my knees grow to the earth,
My tongue cleave to my roof within my mouth,
Unless a pardon ere I rise or speak.
Intended or committed was this fault?
If on the first, how heinous e'er it be,
To win thy after-love I pardon thee.
Then give me leave that I may turn the key,
That no man enter till my tale be done.
Have thy desire.
[AUMERLE locks the door.]
[Within.] My liege, beware! look to thyself;
Thou hast a traitor in thy presence there.
[Drawing.] Villain, I'll make thee safe.
Stay thy revengeful hand; thou hast no cause to fear.
[Within.] Open the door, secure, foolhardy king:
Shall I, for love, speak treason to thy face?
Open the door, or I will break it open.
[BOLINGBROKE unlocks the door; and afterwards, relocks it.]
What is the matter, uncle? speak;
Recover breath; tell us how near is danger,
That we may arm us to encounter it.
Peruse this writing here, and thou shalt know
The treason that my haste forbids me show.
Remember, as thou read'st, thy promise pass'd:
I do repent me; read not my name there;
My heart is not confederate with my hand.
It was, villain, ere thy hand did set it down.
I tore it from the traitor's bosom, king;
Fear, and not love, begets his penitence.
Forget to pity him, lest thy pity prove
A serpent that will sting thee to the heart.
O heinous, strong, and bold conspiracy!
O loyal father of a treacherous son!
Thou sheer, immaculate, and silver fountain,
From whence this stream through muddy passages
Hath held his current and defil'd himself!
Thy overflow of good converts to bad;
And thy abundant goodness shall excuse
This deadly blot in thy digressing son.
So shall my virtue be his vice's bawd,
And he shall spend mine honour with his shame,
As thriftless sons their scraping fathers' gold.
Mine honour lives when his dishonour dies,
Or my sham'd life in his dishonour lies:
Thou kill'st me in his life; giving him breath,
The traitor lives, the true man's put to death.
[Within.] What ho! my liege, for God's sake, let me in.
What shrill-voic'd suppliant makes this eager cry?
[Within.] A woman, and thine aunt, great king; 'tis I.
Speak with me, pity me, open the door:
A beggar begs that never begg'd before.
Our scene is alter'd from a serious thing,
And now chang'd to 'The Beggar and the King.'
My dangerous cousin, let your mother in:
I know she's come to pray for your foul sin.