Enter King John of France, his two sons, Charles of Normandy and Philip, and the Duke of Lorraine
Here, till our navy of a thousand sail
Have made a breakfast to our foe by sea,
Let us encamp, to wait their happy speed. –
Lorraine, what readiness is Edward in?
How hast thou heard that he provided is
Of martial furniture for this exploit?
To lay aside unnecessary soothing,
And not to spend the time in circumstance,
'Tis bruited for a certainty, my lord,
That he's exceeding strongly fortified;
His subjects flock as willingly to war
As if unto a triumph they were led.
England was wont to harbour malcontents,
Bloodthirsty and seditious Catilines,
Spendthrifts, and such that gape for nothing else
But changing and alteration of the state.
And is it possible that they are now
So loyal in themselves?
All but the Scot, who solemnly protests,
As heretofore I have informed his grace,
Never to sheathe his sword or take a truce.
Ah, that's the anch'rage of some better hope.
But, on the other side, to think what friends
King Edward hath retained in Netherland,
Among those ever-bibbing epicures,
Those frothy Dutchmen puffed with double beer,
That drink and swill in every place they come,
Doth not a little aggravate mine ire.
Besides, we hear the Emperor conjoins,
And stalls him in his own authority.
But all the mightier that the number is,
The greater glory reaps the victory.
Some friends have we beside domestic power:
The stern Polonian, and the warlike Dane,
The King of Bohemia and of Sicily,
Are all become confederates with us,
And, as I think, are marching hither apace.
But soft, I hear the music of their drums,
By which I guess that their approach is near.
Enter the King of Bohemia, with Danes, and a Polonian captain, with other soldiers, another way
King John of France, as league and neighbourhood
Requires, when friends are any way distressed,
I come to aid thee with my country's force.
And from great Moscow, fearful to the Turk,
And lofty Poland, nurse of hardy men,
I bring these servitors to fight for thee,
Who willingly will venture in thy cause.
Welcome, Bohemian King, and welcome all:
This your great kindness I will not forget.
Besides your plentiful rewards in crowns
That from our treasury ye shall receive,
There comes a hare-brained nation, decked in pride,
The spoil of whom will be a treble gain.
And now my hope is full, my joy complete:
At sea we are as puissant as the force
Of Agamemnon in the haven of Troy;
By land, with Xerxes we compare of strength,
Whose soldiers drank up rivers in their thirst.
Then Bayard-like, blind overweening Ned,
To reach at our imperial diadem
Is either to be swallowed of the waves,
Or hacked a-pieces when thou comest ashore.
Near to the coast I have descried, my lord,
As I was busy in my watchful charge,
The proud armado of King Edward's ships,
Which, at the first far off when I did ken,
Seemed as it were a grove of withered pines;
But, drawing near, their glorious bright aspect,
Their streaming ensigns wrought of coloured silk,
Like to a meadow full of sundry flowers
Adorns the naked bosom of the earth.
Majestical the order of their course,
Figuring the horned circle of the moon;
And on the top gallant of the admiral,
And likewise all the handmaids of his train,
The arms of England and of France unite
Are quartered equally by herald's art.
Thus, titely carried with a merry gale,
They plough the ocean hitherward amain.
Dare he already crop the fleur-de-lis?
I hope, the honey being gathered thence,
He, with the spider afterward approached,
Shall suck forth deadly venom from the leaves. –
But where's our navy? How are they prepared
To wing themselves against this flight of ravens?
They, having knowledge brought them by the scouts,
Did break from anchor straight, and, puffed with rage
No otherwise then were their sails with wind,
Made forth, as when the empty eagle flies
To satisfy his hungry griping maw.
There's for thy news. Return unto thy bark;
And if thou scape the bloody stroke of war
And do survive the conflict, come again,
And let us hear the manner of the fight.
Mean space, my lords, 'tis best we be dispersed
To several places, least they chance to land.
First you, my lord, with your Bohemian troops,
Shall pitch your battles on the lower hand;
My eldest son, the Duke of Normandy,
Together with this aid of Muscovites,
Shall climb the higher ground another way;
Here in the middle coast, betwixt you both,
Philip my youngest boy and I will lodge.
So, lords, be gone, and look unto your charge:
You stand for France, an empire fair and large.
Exeunt all but King John and Philip
Now tell me, Philip, what is thy conceit,
Touching the challenge that the English make.
I say, my Lord, claim Edward what he can,
And bring he ne'er so plain a pedigree,
'Tis you are in the possession of the crown,
And that's the surest point of all the law;
But were it not, yet ere he should prevail,
I'll make a conduit of my dearest blood,
Or chase those straggling upstarts home again.
Well said, young Philip! Call for bread and wine,
That we may cheer our stomachs with repast,
To look our foes more sternly in the face.
A table and provisions brought in; the battle heard afar off
Now is begun the heavy day at sea.
Fight, Frenchmen, fight; be like the field of bears
When they defend their younglings in their caves.
Steer, angry Nemesis, the happy helm,
That with the sulphur battles of your rage
The English fleet may be dispersed and sunk.
O father, how this echoing cannon shot,
Like sweet harmony, disgests my cates!
Now, boy, thou hear'st what thund'ring terror 'tis
To buckle for a kingdom's sovereignty.
The earth, with giddy trembling when it shakes,
Or when the exhalations of the air
Breaks in extremity of lightning flash,
Affrights not more than kings when they dispose
To show the rancour of their high-swoll'n hearts.
Retreat is sounded; one side hath the worse.
O, if it be the French, sweet Fortune, turn,
And in thy turning change the froward winds,
That, with advantage of a favouring sky,
Our men may vanquish, and the other fly!
My heart misgives. – Say, mirror of pale death,
To whom belongs the honour of this day.
Relate, I pray thee, if thy breath will serve,
The sad discourse of this discomfiture.
I will, my lord.
My gracious sovereign, France hath ta'en the foil,
And boasting Edward triumphs with success.
These iron-hearted navies,
When last I was reporter to your grace,
Both full of angry spleen, of hope, and fear,
spleen (n.) 1
temper, spirit, passion [part of the body seen as the source of both gloomy and mirthful emotions]
Hasting to meet each other in the face,
At last conjoined, and by their admiral
Our admiral encountered many shot.
By this, the other, that beheld these twain
Give earnest penny of a further wrack,
guarantee, promise [small sum of money paid to secure a bargain]
Like fiery dragons took their haughty flight,
And, likewise meeting, from their smoky wombs
Sent many grim ambassadors of death.
Then 'gan the day to turn to gloomy night,
And darkness did as well enclose the quick
As those that were but newly reft of life.
No leisure served for friends to bid farewell;
And, if it had, the hideous noise was such
As each to other seemed deaf and dumb.
Purple the sea, whose channel filled as fast
With streaming gore that from the maimed fell
As did the gushing moisture break into
The crannied cleftures of the through-shot planks.
Here flew a head dissevered from the trunk,
There mangled arms and legs were tossed aloft,
As when a whirlwind takes the summer dust
And scatters it in middle of the air.
Then might ye see the reeling vessels split,
And tottering sink into the ruthless flood,
Until their lofty tops were seen no more.
All shifts were tried, both for defence and hurt;
And now the effect of valour and of force,
Of resolution and of cowardice,
Were lively pictured: how the one for fame,
The other by compulsion laid about.
Much did the Nonpareille, that brave ship;
So did the Black Snake of Boulogne, than which
A bonnier vessel never yet spread sail;
But all in vain. Both sun, the wind, and tide
Revolted all unto our foemen's side,
That we perforce were fain to give them way,
And they are landed. – Thus my tale is done:
We have untimely lost, and they have won.
Then rests there nothing but with present speed
To join our several forces all in one,
And bid them battle ere they range too far.
Come, gentle Philip, let us hence depart.
This soldier's words have pierced thy father's heart.