Page images
PDF
EPUB

BECKET

The first proofs of the play were printed in 1879, but it was not published until December, 1884. See prefatory note to Queen Mary,' and the . Memoir,' vol. ii. pp. 193–199. In 1879 Irving refused the play, but in 1891 he asked leave to produce it, and it proved very successful on the stage, both in England and in America.

TO THE LORD CHANCELLOR,

THE RIGHT HONORABLE EARL OF SELBORNE. MY DEAR SELBORNE, To you, the honored 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 approbation.

TENNYSON.

Ever yours,

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ

HENRY II. (son of the Earl of Anjou).
Thomas Becker, Chancellor of England, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury.
GILBERT Foliot, Bishop of London.
ROGER, Archbishop of York.
Bishop of Hereford.
Hilary, Bishop of Chichester.
JOCELYN, Bishop of Salisbury.
HERBERT OP BOSHX } friends of Becket.
WALTER MAP, reputed author of 'Golias,' Latin poems against the priesthood.
KING Louis OF FRANCE.
GEOFFREY, son of Rosamund and Henry.
GRIM, a monk of Cambridge.
SIR REGINALD FITZURSE
SIR RICHARD DE BRITO
SIR WILLIAM DE TRACY

the four knights of the king's household, enemies of Becket.
SIR HUGH DE MORVILLE
DE BROC OF SALTWOOD CASTLE.
LORD LEICESTER.
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.
MARGERY.

Knights, Monks, Beggars, etc.
BECKET

Becket. Have you thought of one ?

Henry. A cleric lately poisou'd his own PROLOGUE

mother,

And being brought before the courts of the A CASTLE IN NORMANDY. INTERIOR

Church, OF THE HALL. ROOFS OF A CITY They but degraded him. I hope they SEEN THRO' WINDOWS

whipt him. HENRY and BECKET at chess.

I would have hang'd him.

Becket. It is your move. Henry. So then our good Archbishop Henry.

Well — there. [Moves. Theobald

The Church in the pell-mell of Stephen's Lies dying

time Becket. I am grieved to know as much Hath climb'd the throne and almost clutch'd Henry. But we must have a mightier

the crown; man than he

But by the royal customs of our realm For his successor.

The Church should hold her baronies of ma

[ocr errors]

19

Like other lords amenable to law.
I'll have them written down and made the

law.
Becket. My liege, I move my bishop.
Henry.

Ånd if I live, No man without my leave shall excom

municate My tenants or my

household. Becket.

Look to your king: Henry. No man without my leave shall

cross the seas To set the Pope against me I pray your

pardon. Becket. Well will you move ? Henry.

There. [Moves. Becket. Check — you move so wildly. Henry. There then !

[Moves. Becket. 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 to

gether. I loathe being beaten; had I fixt my fancy Upon the game I should have beaten

thee, But that was vagabond.

Becket. Where, my liege ? With Phryne, Or Lais, or thy Rosamund, or another ? Henry. 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. Becket. 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 ? Henry. How dost thou know I am not

wedded to her ? Becket. How should I know ? Henry. That is my secret, Thomas. Becket. 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.

Henry. 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. Becket. Saint Denis, that thou shouldst

not. I should beat Thy kingship as my bishop hath beaten

it. Henry. 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, 5c A sauce-deviser for thy days of fish, A disb-designer, and most amorous Of good old red sound liberal Gascon wine. Will not thy body rebel, man, if thou flat

ter it ? Becket. That palate is insane which can

not tell A good dish from a bad, new wine from

old, Henry. Well, who loves wine loves wo

man. Becket.

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.

Henry. And thy thoughts, thy fancies ?
Becket. Good dogs, my liege, well train'd,

and easily call'd Off from the game.

Henry. Save for some once or twice, When they ran down the game and worried

it.
Becket. No, my liege, no ! - not once

in God's name,
Henry. 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 wbom I love indeed As a woman should be loved – Why dost

thou smile So dolorously?

Becket. My good liege, if a man Wastes himself among women, how should

he love A woinan as a woman should be loved 9

60

30

no !

70

40

[ocr errors]

81

I 20

Henry. How shouldst thou know that

never hast loved one ? Come, I would give her to thy care in Eng

land When I am out in Normandy or Anjou. Becket. My lord, I am your subject, not

yourHenry.

Pander. God's eyes! I know all that — not my pur

veyor Of pleasures, but to save a life - her life; Ay, and the soul of Eleanor from bell-fire. I have built a secret bower in England,

Thomas,
A nest in a bush.

Becket. And where, my liege ?
Henry (whispers).

Thine ear.
Becket. 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 color'd green — but

this Draws thro' the chart to her. Becket.

This blood-red line ? Henry. Ay! blood, perchance, except

thou see to her.
Becket. And where is she? There in

her English nest ?
Henry. Would God she were !

within the city. We take her from her secret bower in An

jon And pass her to her secret bower in Eng

land She is ignorant of all but that I love her. Becket. My liege, I pray thee let me

hence; a widow And orphan child, whom one of thy wild

barons Henry. Ay, ay, but swear to see to her

in England. Becket. Well, well, I swear, but not to

please myself. Henry. Whatever come between us ? Becket.

What should come Between us, Henry ?

Henry. Nay — I know not, Thomas.

Becket. What need then ? Well — what

ever come between us. [Going. Henry. A moment ! thou didst help me

to my throne In Theobald's time, and after by thy wis

dom 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 under

heel 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 Eng

land, As seeming his, not mine, and fall abroad. I'll have it done — and now. Becket.

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 !
Henry. I will not think so, Thomas.

Who shall crown him ?
Canterbury is dying.
Becket.

The next Canterbury. Henry. And who shall he be, my friend

Thomas ? Who ? Becket. Name him; the Holy Father will

confirm him. Henry (lays his hand on Becket's shoul

der). Here! Becket. Mock me not. I am not even

a monk. Thy jest

Why — look — is this a sleeve For an archbishop ? Henry.

But the arm within Is Becket’s, who hath benten down my

foes. Becket. A soldier's, not a spiritual arm.

90

no, here

129

100

no

more.

[ocr errors]

a

171

me.

180

Henry. I lack a spiritual soldier, Henry. The chart is not mine, but Thomas

Becket's; take it, Thomas. A man of this world and the next to boot. Eleanor. Becket ! 0,- ay - and these Becket. There's Gilbert Foliot.

chessmen on the floor – the king's crown Henry.

He ! too thin, too thin. broken! Becket hath beaten thee again Thou art the man to fill out the Church and thou hast kicked down the board. I robe;

know thee of old. Your Foliot fasts and fawns too much for Henry. True enough, my mind was set me.

140 upon other matters. Becket. Roger of York.

Eleanor. What matters ? State matHenry.

Roger is Roger of York; ters ? love matters ? King, Church, and State to him but foils Henry. My love for thee, and thine for

wherein To set that precious jewel, Roger of York.

ELEANOR. No.

Over the sweet summer closes, Becket. Henry of Winchester ?

The reign of the roses is done ; Henry. Him who crown's Stephen

Over and gone with the roses, King Stephen's brother ! No; too royal for

And over and gone with the sun. me. And I'll have no more Anselms.

Here; but our sun in Aquitaine lasts Becket.

Sire, the business longer. I would I were in Aquitaine again Of thy whole kingdom waits me; let me go.

- your North chills me. Henry. Answer me first.

Over! the sweet summer closes,
Becket.
Then for thy barren jest

And never a flower at the close ;
Take thou mine answer in bare common-

Over and gone with the roses, place

And winter again and the snows. Nolo episcopari.

That was not the way I ended it firstHenry. Ay, but Nolo

but unsymmetrically, preposterously, illogiArchiepiscopari, my good friend,

cally, out of passion, without art

like a Is quite another matter.

song of the people. Will you have it? The Becket.

A more awful one. last Parthian shaft of a forlorn Cupid at Make me archbishop! Why, my liege, I the King's left breast, and all left-handedknow

ness and under-bandedness. Some three or four poor priests a thousand times

And never a flower at the close ;

Over and gone with the roses, Fitter for this grand function. Me arch

Not over and gone with the rose. 198 bishop! God's favor and king's favor might so clash True, one rose will outblossom the rest, That thou and I- That were a jest in- one rose in a bower. I speak after my deed !

fancies, for I am a Troubadour, you know, Henry. Thou angerest me, man; I do and won the violet at Toulouse; but my not jest.

voice is harsh here, not in tune, a night

ingale out of season; for marriage, rose or Enter ELEANOR and SIR REGINALD

no rose, has killed the golden violet. FITZURSE.

Becket. Madam, you do ill to scorn ELEANOR (singing).

wedded love.

Eleanor. So I do. Louis of France
Over! the sweet summer closes,
The reign of the roses is done —

loved me, and I dreamed that I loved

Louis of France: and I loved Henry of Henry (to Becket, who is going). Thou | England, and Henry of England dreamed

shalt not go. I have not ended with that he loved me; but the marriage-garthee.

land withers even with the putting on, the Eleanor (seeing chart on table). This bright link rusts with the breath of the chart with the red line! her bower! whose first after-marriage kiss, the harvest moon Yower ?

is the ripening of the harvest, and the

151

160

223

272

233

241

;

Herbert. A dead man's dying wish should his honey-moon. I could pity this poor be of weight. world myself that it is no better ordered. Becket. His should. Come with me. Let Henry. Dead is he, my Queen ? What,

me learn at full altogether? Let me swear nay to that by The manner of his death, and all he said. this cross on thy neck. God's eyes ! what

[Exeunt Herbert and Becket. a lovely cross ! what jewels !

Eleanor. Fitzurse, that chart with the Eleanor. Doth it please you? Take it red line — thou sawest it — her bower. and wear it on that hard heart of yours Fitzurse. Rosamund's ? there.

[Gives it to him. Eleanor. Ay– there lies the secret of Henry (puts it on). On this left breast her whereabouts, and the King gave it to before so hard a heart,

his Chancellor. To hide the scar left by tby Parthian dart. Fitzurse. To this son of a London mer

Eleanor. Has my simple song set you chant — how your Grace must hate him ! jingling? Nay, if I took and translated Eleanor. Hate him ? as brave a soldier that hard heart into our Provençal facili- as Henry and a goodlier man: but thou ties, I could so play about it with the – dost thou love this Chancellor, that rhyme

thou hast sworn a voluntary allegiance to Henry. That the heart were lost in the him ? rhyme, and the matter in the metre. May Fitzurse. Not for my love toward him, we not pray you, madam, to spare us the but because he had the love of the King. hardness of your facility ?

How should a baron love a beggar on horseEleanor. The wells of Castaly are not back, with the retinue of three kings behind wasted upon the desert. We did but jest. him, out-royalling royalty ? Besides, he

Henry. There's no jest on the brows of holp the King to break down our castles, Herbert there. What is it, Herbert ? for the which I hate him.

Eleanor, For the which I honor him. Enter HERBERT OF BOSHAM.

Statesman, not Churchman, he. A great Herbert. My liege, the good archbishop and sound policy that; I could embrace is no more.

him for it: you could not see the King for Henry. Peace to his soul !

the kinglings. Herbert. I left him with peace on his Fitzurse. Ay, but he speaks to a noble face, that sweet other-world smile, which as tho' he were a churl, and to a churl as will be reflected in the spiritual body if he were a noble. among the angels. But he longed much to Eleanor. Pride of the plebeian ! see your Grace and the Chancellor ere he Fitzurse. And this plebeian like to be past, and his last words were a commenda- Archbishop ! tion of Thomas Becket to your Grace as Eleanor. True, and I have an inherited his successor in the archbishopric.

loathing of these black sheep of the PaHenry. Ha, Becket! thou rememberest pacy. Archbishop ? I can see further into our talk !

a man than our hot-headed Henry, and if Becket. My heart is full of tears — I have there ever come feud between Church and

Crown, and I do not then charm this Henry. Well, well, old men must die, or secret out of our loyal Thomas, I am not. the world would grow mouldy, would only Eleanor. breed the past again. Come to me to-mor- Fitzurse. Last night I followed a woman

Thou hast but to hold out thy hand. in the city here. Her face was veiled, but Meanwhile the revenues are mine. A-hawk- the back methought was Rosamund — his ing, a-bawking! If I sit, I grow fat. paramonr, thy rival. I can feel for thee. (Leaps over the table, and exit. Eleanor. Thou feel for me!

paramour Becket. He did prefer me to the chancel- – rival! King Louis had no paramours, lorship,

and I loved him none the more. Henry Believing I should ever aid the Church had many, and I loved him none the less But have I done it? He commends me now now neither more nor less not at all; From out his grave to this archbishopric. the cup's empty. I would she were but his

291

251

no answer.

305

row.

260

« PreviousContinue »