BECKET AND OTHER PLAYS
BECKET AND OTHER PLAYS
ALFRED LORD TENNYSON
THE PROMISE OF MAY
TO THE LORD CHANCELLOR THE RIGHT HONOURABLE EARL OF SELBORNE.
MY DEAR SELBORNE
_To you the honoured Chancellor of our own day I dedicate this
dramatic memorial of your great predecessor;--which altho' not
intended in its present form to meet the exigencies of our modern
theatre has nevertheless--for so you have assured me--won your
HENRY II. (_son of the Earl of Anjou_).
THOMAS BECKET _Chancellor of England afterwards Archbishop of
GILBERT FOLIOT _Bishop of London_.
ROGER _Archbishop of York_.
_Bishop of Hereford_.
HILARY _Bishop of Chichester_.
JOCELYN _Bishop of Salisbury_.
JOHN OF SALISBURY |
HERBERT OF BOSHAM | _friends of Becket_.
WALTER MAP _reputed author of 'Golias' Latin poems against
KING LOUIS OF FRANCE.
GEOFFREY _son of Rosamund and Henry_.
GRIM _a monk of Cambridge_.
SIR REGINALD FITZURSE |
SIR RICHARD DE BRITO | _the four knights of the King's_
SIR WILLIAM DE TRACY | _household enemies of Becket_.
SIR HUGH DE MORVILLE |
DE BROC OF SALTWOOD CASTLE.
PHILIP DE ELEEMOSYNA.
TWO KNIGHT TEMPLARS.
JOHN OF OXFORD (_called the Swearer_).
ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE _Queen of England (divorced from Louis of France)_.
ROSAMUND DE CLIFFORD.
_Knights Monks Beggars etc_.
_A Castle in Normandy. Interior of the Hall. Roofs of a City seen
HENRY _and_ BECKET _at chess_.
So then our good Archbishop Theobald
I am grieved to know as much.
But we must have a mightier man than he
For his successor.
Have you thought of one?
A cleric lately poison'd his own mother
And being brought before the courts of the Church
They but degraded him. I hope they whipt him.
I would have hang'd him.
It is your move.
The Church in the pell-mell of Stephen's time
Hath climb'd the throne and almost clutch'd the crown;
But by the royal customs of our realm
The Church should hold her baronies of me
Like other lords amenable to law.
I'll have them written down and made the law.
My liege I move my bishop.
And if I live
No man without my leave shall excommunicate
My tenants or my household.
Look to your king.
No man without my leave shall cross the seas
To set the Pope against me--I pray your pardon.
Well--will you move?
Check--you move so wildly.
There then! [_Moves_.
Why--there then for you see my bishop
Hath brought your king to a standstill. You are beaten.
HENRY (_kicks over the board_).
Why there then--down go bishop and king together.
I loathe being beaten; had I fixt my fancy
Upon the game I should have beaten thee
But that was vagabond.
Where my liege? With Phryne
Or Lais or thy Rosamund or another?
My Rosamund is no Lais Thomas Becket;
And yet she plagues me too--no fault in her--
But that I fear the Queen would have her life.
Put her away put her away my liege!
Put her away into a nunnery!
Safe enough there from her to whom thou art bound
By Holy Church. And wherefore should she seek
The life of Rosamund de Clifford more
Than that of other paramours of thine?
How dost thou know I am not wedded to her?
How should I know?
That is my secret Thomas.
State secrets should be patent to the statesman
Who serves and loves his king and whom the king
Loves not as statesman but true lover and friend.
Come come thou art but deacon not yet bishop
No nor archbishop nor my confessor yet.
I would to God thou wert for I should find
An easy father confessor in thee.
St. Denis that thou shouldst not. I should beat
Thy kingship as my bishop hath beaten it.
Hell take thy bishop then and my kingship too!
Come come I love thee and I know thee I know thee
A doter on white pheasant-flesh at feasts
A sauce-deviser for thy days of fish
A dish-designer and most amorous
Of good old red sound liberal Gascon wine:
Will not thy body rebel man if thou flatter it?
That palate is insane which cannot tell
A good dish from a bad new wine from old.
Well who loves wine loves woman.
So I do.
Men are God's trees and women are God's flowers;
And when the Gascon wine mounts to my head
The trees are all the statelier and the flowers
Are all the fairer.
And thy thoughts thy fancies?
Good dogs my liege well train'd and easily call'd
Off from the game.
Save for some once or twice
When they ran down the game and worried it.
No my liege no!--not once--in God's name no!
Nay then I take thee at thy word--believe thee
The veriest Galahad of old Arthur's hall.
And so this Rosamund my true heart-wife
Not Eleanor--she whom I love indeed
As a woman should be loved--Why dost thou smile
My good liege if a man
Wastes himself among women how should he love
A woman as a woman should be loved?
How shouldst thou know that never hast loved one?
Come I would give her to thy care in England
When I am out in Normandy or Anjou.
My lord I am your subject not your--
God's eyes! I know all that--not my purveyor
Of pleasures but to save a life--her life;
Ay and the soul of Eleanor from hell-fire.
I have built a secret bower in England Thomas
A nest in a bush.
And where my liege?
That's lone enough.
HENRY (_laying paper on table_).
This chart here mark'd '_Her Bower_'
Take keep it friend. See first a circling wood
A hundred pathways running everyway
And then a brook a bridge; and after that
This labyrinthine brickwork maze in maze
And then another wood and in the midst
A garden and my Rosamund. Look this line--
The rest you see is colour'd green--but this
Draws thro' the chart to her.
This blood-red line?
Ay! blood perchance except thou see to her.
And where is she? There in her English nest?
Would God she were--no here within the city.
We take her from her secret bower in Anjou
And pass her to her secret bower in England.
She is ignorant of all but that I love her.
My liege I pray thee let me hence: a widow
And orphan child whom one of thy wild barons--
Ay ay but swear to see to her in England.
Well well I swear but not to please myself.
Whatever come between us?
What should come
Between us Henry?
Nay--I know not Thomas.
What need then? Well--whatever come between us. [_Going_.
A moment! thou didst help me to my throne
In Theobald's time and after by thy wisdom
Hast kept it firm from shaking; but now I
For my realm's sake myself must be the wizard
To raise that tempest which will set it trembling
Only to base it deeper. I true son
Of Holy Church--no croucher to the Gregories
That tread the kings their children underheel--
Must curb her; and the Holy Father while
This Barbarossa butts him from his chair
Will need my help--be facile to my hands.
Now is my time. Yet--lest there should be flashes
And fulminations from the side of Rome
An interdict on England--I will have
My young son Henry crown'd the King of England
That so the Papal bolt may pass by England
As seeming his not mine and fall abroad.
I'll have it done--and now.
Surely too young
Even for this shadow of a crown; and tho'
I love him heartily I can spy already
A strain of hard and headstrong in him. Say
The Queen should play his kingship against thine!
I will not think so Thomas. Who shall crown him?
Canterbury is dying.
The next Canterbury.
And who shall he be my friend Thomas? Who?
Name him; the Holy Father will confirm him.
HENRY (_lays his hand on_ BECKET'S _shoulder_).
Mock me not. I am not even a monk.
Thy jest--no more. Why--look--is this a sleeve
For an archbishop?
But the arm within
Is Becket's who hath beaten down my foes.
A soldier's not a spiritual arm.
I lack a spiritual soldier Thomas--
A man of this world and the next to boot.
There's Gilbert Foliot.
He! too thin too thin.
Thou art the man to fill out the Church robe;
Your Foliot fasts and fawns too much for me.
Roger of York.
Roger is Roger of York.
King Church and State to him but foils wherein
To set that precious jewel Roger of York.
Henry of Winchester?
Him who crown'd Stephen--
King Stephen's brother! No; too royal for me.
And I'll have no more Anselms.
Sire the business
Of thy whole kingdom waits me: let me go.
Answer me first.
Then for thy barren jest
Take thou mine answer in bare commonplace--
Ay but _Nolo
Archiepiscopari_ my good friend
Is quite another matter.
A more awful one.
Make _me_ archbishop! Why my liege I know
Some three or four poor priests a thousand times
Fitter for this grand function. _Me_ archbishop!
God's favour and king's favour might so clash
That thou and I----That were a jest indeed!
Thou angerest me man: I do not jest.
_Enter_ ELEANOR _and_ SIR REGINALD FITZURSE.
Over! the sweet summer closes
The reign of the roses is done--
HENRY (_to_ BECKET _who is going_).
Thou shalt not go. I have not ended with thee.
ELEANOR (_seeing chart on table_).
This chart with the red line! her bower! whose bower?
The chart is not mine but Becket's: take it Thomas.
Becket! O--ay--and these chessmen on the floor--the king's crown
broken! Becket hath beaten thee again--and thou hast kicked down the
board. I know thee of old.