Page images

K. Edw. King James, are you content ?*

K. James. I am content, and like your majesty, And will leave good castles in security.

K. Edw. I crave no more. Now George-a-Greene, I'll to thy house; and when I have supt, I'll go to Ask, and see if Jane-a-Barley be so fair, As good king James reports her for to be. And for the ancient custom of Vail staff, Keep it still, claim privilege from me. If any ask a reason why, or how ? Say, English Edward vail'd his staff to you.


* King James, are you content] The 4to. gives these words to George-a-Greene.


Specimen of the History of George-a-Greene, on

which the preceding play is founded : see p. 167; and the account of our author's life, p. xliv. note *.

“Richard having settled his affairs, he prepared for a voyage to the Holy Land, in conjunction with Philip the Second, then king of France. During his absence he constituted the bishop of Ely, then chancellor of England, vicegerent of the kingdom. This bishop being on the one side covetous, and by many unjust impositions oppressing the nation, and the king's brother ambitious on the other, as presuming

some persons fomented great factions and combinations against the tyranizing prelate; so that all things grew out of frame and order ; and great distractions ensued ; nay, a third ulcer, worse than the former, broke into open rebellion, namely, an insurrection was raised by the earl of Kendal, with divers of his adherents, as, the Lord Bouteil, Sir Gilbert Arme

of some twenty thousand malecontents, made publick proclamation, that they came into the field for no other cause, but to purchase their country-men's liberty, and to free them from the great and insufferable oppression which they then lived under, by the prince and prelate. This drew to the earl many followers for the present, so that he seemed to have got together a very potent army. But the main reason of this rebellion was, that when the earl was but a child, a wizard had prophesy'd of him, That Richard and he should meet in London, and the king should there vail his bonnet unto him: and this prediction of the sooth-sayer prov'd afterwards to be true, but not as he vainly had expounded it. The earl having led his army into the north, struck a great terror into all those honest subjects, that tender'd their allegiance to their absent king and sovereign, and wish'd well to the good of the commonwealth, and the safety of the kingdom; yet many were forced through fear to supply his men with necessary provisions, lest otherwise they should have made spoil and havock of all they had. Now, the earl being for some time destitute of many things that are useful and commodious for an army, and encamping some five miles from the town of Wakefield, the three confederates drew a commission, and having sign’d it with their own seals sent it by one Mannering, a servant of the earl's, to the bailiff and towns-men of Wakefield, requiring seemingly, by way of intreaty, to send unto his host such a quantity of provision, of corn and cattle, with other necessaries (of which he was then in great want,) and withal, such a sum of money as he demanded for the payment of so many soldiers, to which this Mannering was to perswade them by all fair means possible : but, if they should deny his request, he was to threaten them with fire and sword, with all the violence that could be suggested to them. The news of this commission coming to their knowledge, the bailiff sent abroad to the neighbouring justices, as, to Mr. Grymes, and others ; so that he and his brethren appointed to give them a meeting in the town-house, where many of the Commons were to be present, and amongst others, George A Green purposed to be there, to hear what would become of the business. The summons being made, the assembly met, and the messenger appear’d, show'd his warrant, and, according to his orders, told them what great conveniencies would grow in supplying the army, and withal entreated from the lords their love and favour. The bailiff and the justices were loth, it being contrary to their allegiance, to grant their request; yet they were fearful withal peremptorily to deny it, and stood wavering long and debating amongst themselves what they had best do for their own safeties; which Mannering seeing, without doing any reverence at all unto the bench, he began to alter his phrases, and changed the copy of his countenance, first taunting and deriding their faint-hearted cowardize, and afterward threatening them, that if they gave not present satisfaction to his demand, the army would instantly remove, make havock and spoil of their goods and chattels, ravish their daughters, and deflower their wives before their faces, and make a bonfire of the town, to the terrifying of others, whose insolence durst oppose the earl his master's commission. At these haughty and insufferable menaces, whilst the bench sate quaking, George presseth forward in the face of the court, and desireth, by the favour of the bench, to have the liberty, according to his plain and weak understanding, to give the messenger an answer, which being granted him, he boldly stept up to him, and demanded his name, who made him answer, that his name was Mannering. Mannering (saith he); that name was ill bestow'd on one who can so forget all manners, as to stand cover'd before a bench, upon which the majesty of his sovereign was represented : which manners (saith he) since thou wantest, I will teach thee: and withal, first snatching his bonnet from his head, trod upon it, then spurn’d it before him. At which the other, being inraged, ask'd him, How he durst to offer that violence to one, who brought so strong a commission? Your commission (saith George) I cry your mercy, sir; and withal, desired the favour of the bench, that he might have the liberty to peruse it, which being granted, I marry (saith he, having read it) I cannot chuse but submit myself to this authority: and making an offer, as if he meant to kiss it, tore it in pieces. Mannering seeing this, began to stamp, stare, and swear; but George taking him fast by the collar, so shook him, as if he had purposed to have made all his bones loose in his skin, and drawing his dagger, and pointing it to his bosom, told him, He had devised physick to purge his cholerick blood; and gathering up the three seals, told him, It was these three pills which he must instantly take and swallow, and never more expect to return to his master : nor did he leave him, or take the dagger from his breast, till he had seen it down, and afterwards, when he had perceiv'd that they had almost choak’d him, he call’d for a bottle of ale, and said these words : It shall never


« PreviousContinue »