The Premium Complete Collection of Alfred Lord Tennyson - Alfred Lord Tennyson - ebook

Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, FRS was Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular British poets.Collection of 11 Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson Beauties of TennysonBecket and other playsEnoch Arden, &cIdylls of the KingLady ClareQueen Mary and HaroldSelections from Wordsworth and TennysonThe Early Poems of Alfred Lord TennysonThe Last TournamentThe PrincessThe Suppressed Poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson

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The Premium Complete Collection of Alfred Lord Tennyson

Detailed Biography of Alfred Lord Tennyson

Beauties of Tennyson

Becket and other plays

Enoch Arden, &c

Idylls of the King

Lady Clare

Queen Mary and Harold

Selections from Wordsworth and Tennyson

The Early Poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Last Tournament

The Princess

The Suppressed Poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson


Alfred, Lord Tennyson, is one of the most famous poets in English literature. Many of his poems are standards of 19th-century literature and are critical and popular favorites. The body of critical work on him is immense, and although some of his work is seen as too sentimental today, his intellectual contributions to poetry and metaphysics are undeniable.

Alfred Tennyson was born August 6, 1809, in Lincolnshire, England, to George and Elizabeth Tennyson. The family was very large; eleven children reached maturity. Alfred's father was not wealthy, as his grandfather had made his younger son Charles his heir, leaving George to enter the ministry. Tennyson often worried about money throughout his life. Several of Tennyson's family members also struggled with alcoholism and mental illness, including his father, who grew violent and paranoid from excessive drinking in the 1820s.

Tennyson left the family home to attend Trinity College at the University of Cambridge with his two brothers. He had already been writing poetry before he went away to school. One of his particular quirks was that, as he walked or performed other duties, he would think of discrete lines or phrases and store them in his memory until he invented the proper context in which to use them. At Cambridge his tutor was William Whewell, a renowned philosopher. Tennyson and his brothers Frederick and Charles published Poems by Two Brothers in 1827 and became well-known at the college, winning prizes for poetry.

At this time Tennyson composed the strange and mesmerizing "Timbuctoo," which attracted the notice of other young intellectuals. Tennyson was invited to join the Apostles Club in 1829, which included Arthur Henry Hallam, James Spedding, Edward Lushington, and Richard Monckton Milnes. These men would be his friends his entire life (except for Hallam, who died young). Hallam and Tennyson were particularly close, and the former became engaged to Tennyson's sister Emily after he met her on a visit to Somersby.

In 1830 Tennyson published Poems, Chiefly Lyrical. The volume included poems such as "Mariana," "The Kraken," and "Ode to Memory." "Mariana" is one of Tennyson's most beguiling and justly famous works. Reviews of this volume were generally favorable. In 1832 Tennyson published Poems, which included "The Lady of Shalott," "The Lotos-Eaters," "The Palace of Art," and "Oenone." Unfortunately, the reviews were brutal and damning, and Tennyson, sensitive to criticism, was crushed.

Hallam's death in 1833 at the age of 22 was another profoundly devastating blow to Tennyson. This death, his sister's despair over her fiancé's death, the terrible reviews, his father's death, his poverty and isolation in the country where he resided, and his own fears about mental illness and addiction pushed him into depression. He said of this period, "I suffered what seemed to me to shatter all my life so that I desired to die rather than to live." Many of Tennyson's most famous works of poetry were influenced by his immense grief even though they were not uniformly pessimistic. These included "Ulysses," "Tithonus" and, of course, the monumental In Memoriam A.H.H..

Tennyson became engaged to a young woman, Emily Sellwood, but fears about his financial situation and his possible mental problems led him to break off the engagement in 1840. During this time he was rather itinerant, moving about a great deal, and some of those closest to him thought his poetic genius had evaporated. In 1842, however, he published Poems, which contained some work from 1830 and 1832 that had been revised as well as new work; these two volumes provided the basis for his excellent reputation and secured his fame.

A government pension in 1845 alleviated some of his financial distress, and he married Emily in 1850. In 1847 he published "The Princess: A Medley," and in 1850 he finally published In Memoriam anonymously. Subsequent editions of that poem brought Tennyson a great deal of fame and money. The death of Wordsworth in 1850 seemed to designate Tennyson as his poetic successor, and indeed, in 1850 he was made Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom. Alfred's and Emily's first son, Hallam, was born in 1852, and a year later they established a home in Farringford, the Isle of Wight. A second son, Lionel, was born in 1854. "Maud, and Other Poems" was published in 1855, The Idylls of the King was published in 1859, and Tennyson published various other poems throughout the next decade.

Tennyson was admired by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. The Queen described her first impression after meeting him: "very peculiar looking, tall, dark, with a fine head, long black flowing hair & a beard, — oddly dressed, but there is no affectation about him." Tennyson accepted an offer of barony in 1883 and took his seat in the House of Lords in March 1884. He also was awarded honorary degrees from Oxford and Edinburgh, and he made friends with other luminaries such as Charles Dickens, William Gladstone, and Robert Browning.

Lord Tennyson was frequently ill throughout the 1880s. He suffered immensely once again when his son Lionel died at age 32 in 1886. On October 6, 1892, Tennyson died. He is buried at Westminster Abbey.







Copyright, 1885, By Porter & Coates.



I come from haunts of coot and hern, I make sudden sally And sparkle out among the fern, To bicker down a valley.

By thirty hills I hurry down, Or slip between the ridges, By twenty thorps, a little town, And half a hundred bridges.

* *

I chatter over stony ways, In little sharps and trebles, I bubble into eddying bays, I babble on the pebbles.

With many a curve my banks I fret By many a field and fallow, And many a fairy foreland set With willow-weed and mallow.

* *

And here and there a foamy lakeUpon me, as I travel With many a silvery waterbreak Above the golden gravel,

And draw them all along, and flow To join the brimming river, For men may come and men may go, But I go on for ever.



See what a lovely shell, Small and pure as a pearl, Lying close to my foot, Frail, but a work divine, Made so fairily well With delicate spire and whorl, How exquisitely minute, A miracle of design!

What is it? a learned man Could give it a clumsy name. Let him name it who can, The beauty would be the same.

The tiny cell is forlorn, Void of the little living will That made it stir on the shore. Did he stand at the diamond doorOf his house in a rainbow frill? Did he push, when he was uncurl'd, A golden foot or a fairy horn Thro' his dim water-world.

Slight, to be crushed with a tap Of my finger-nail on the sand, Small, but a work divine, Frail, but of force to withstand, Year upon year, the shock Of cataract seas that snap The three-decker's oaken spine Athwart the ledges of rock, Here on the Breton strand!



Flow down, cold rivulet, to the sea, Thy tribute wave deliver: No more by thee my steps shall be,For ever and for ever.

Flow, softly flow, by lawn and lea, A rivulet then a river: Nowhere by thee my steps shall be,For ever and for ever.

But here will sigh thine alder tree, And here thine aspen shiver; And here by thee will hum the bee,For ever and for ever.

A thousand suns will stream on thee, A thousand moons will quiver; But not by thee my steps shall be,For ever and for ever.



Come into the garden, Maud, For the black bat, night, has flown, Come into the garden, Maud, I am here at the gate alone; And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad, And the musk of the roses blown.

For a breeze of morning moves, And the planet of Love is on high, Beginning to faint in the light that she loves On a bed of daffodil sky, To faint in the light of the sun she loves, To faint in his light, and to die.

* *

There has fallen a splendid tearFrom the passion-flower at the gate. She is coming, my dove, my dear; She is coming, my life, my fate; The red rose cries, "She is near, she is near;" And the white rose weeps, "She is late;" The larkspur listens, "I hear, I hear;" And the lily whispers, "I wait."

She is coming, my own, my sweet; Were it ever so airy a tread, My heart would hear her and beat, Were it earth in an earthy bed; My dust would hear her and beat, Had I lain for a century dead; Would start and tremble under her feet, And blossom in purple and red.



Break, break, break, On thy cold gray stones, O Sea! And I would that my tongue could utterThe thoughts that arise in me.

O well for the fisherman's boy, That he shouts with his sister at play! O well for the sailor lad, That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on To their haven under the hill; But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand, And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break, At the foot of thy crags, O Sea! But the tender grace of a day that is deadWill never come back to me.



Love took up the glass of Time, and turn'd it in his glowing hands; Every moment, lightly shaken, ran itself in golden sands.

Love took up the harp of Life, and smote on all the chords with might; Smote the chord of Self, that, trembling, pass'd in music out of sight.

Many a morning on the moorland did we hear the copses ring, And her whisper throng'd my pulses with the fulness of the Spring.

Many an evening by the waters did we watch the stately ships, And our spirits rush'd together at the touching of the lips.

O my cousin, shallow-hearted! O my Amy, mine no more! O the dreary, dreary moorland! O the barren, barren shore!



Go not, happy day, From the shining fields, Go not, happy day, Till the maiden yields. Rosy is the West, Rosy is the South, Roses are her cheeks, And a rose her mouth When the happy Yes Falters from her lips, Pass and blush the news Over glowing ships; Over blowing seas,Over seas at rest, Pass the happy news, Blush it thro' the West; Till the red man dance By his red cedar-tree, And the red man's babe Leap, beyond the sea. Blush from West to East, Blush from East to West, Till the West is East, Blush it thro' the West. Rosy is the West, Rosy is the South, Roses are her cheeks, And a rose her mouth.



Sweet and low, sweet and low, Wind of the western sea, Low, low, breathe and blow, Wind of the western sea! Over the rolling waters go, Come from the dying moon, and blow, Blow him again to me; While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.

Sleep and rest, sleep and rest, Father will come to thee soon; Rest, rest, on mother's breast, Father will come to thee soon; Father will come to his babe in the nest, Silver sails all out of the west Under the silver moon: Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep.



Airy, fairy Lilian, Flitting, fairy Lilian, When I ask her if she love me, Claps her tiny hands above me,

Laughing all she can; She'll not tell me if she love me,

Cruel little Lilian.

When my passion seeks Pleasance in love-sighs, She, looking thro' and thro' me Thoroughly to undo me,

Smiling, never speaks: So innocent-arch, so cunning-simple, From beneath her gather'd wimple Glancing with black-beaded eyes, Till the lightning laughters dimple

The baby-roses in her cheeks; Then away she flies.

Prythee weep, May Lilian! Gayety without eclipseWearieth me, May Lilian: Thro' my very heart it thrilleth When from crimson-threaded lips Silver-treble laughter trilleth:Prythee weep, May Lilian.

Praying all I can, If prayers will not hush thee,

Airy Lilian, Like a rose-leaf I will crush thee,

Fairy Lilian.

[Illustration: AIRY, FAIRY LILIAN.]


Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,

The flying cloud, the frosty light: The year is dying in the night; Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,

Ring, happy bells, across the snow: The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,

For those that here we see no more; Ring out the feud of rich and poor, Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,

And ancient forms of party strife; Ring in the nobler modes of life, With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,

The faithless coldness of the times; Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes, But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,

The civic slander and the spite; Ring in the love of truth and right, Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;

Ring out the narrowing lust of gold; Ring out the thousand wars of old, Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,

The larger heart, the kindlier hand; Ring out the darkness of the land, Ring in the Christ that is to be.



Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean, Tears from the depth of some divine despair Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes, In looking on the happy Autumn-fields, And thinking of the days that are no more.

Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail, That brings our friends up from the underworld, Sad as the last which reddens over one That sinks with all we love below the verge; So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.

Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns The earliest pipe of half-awaken'd birds To dying ears, when unto dying eyes The casement slowly grows a glimmering square; So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.

Dear as remember'd kisses after death, And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feign'd On lips that are for others; deep as love, Deep as first love, and wild with all regret; O Death in Life, the days that are no more.

[Illustration: "TEARS, IDLE TEARS."]


The splendor falls on castle-walls

And snowy summits old in story: The long light shakes across the lakes, And the wild cataract leaps in glory. Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying, Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O hark, O hear! how thin and clear, And thinner, clearer, farther going! O sweet and far from cliff and scarThe horns of Elfland faintly blowing! Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying: Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O love, they die in yon rich sky, They faint on hill or field or river; Our echoes roll from soul to soul, And grow for ever and for ever. Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying, And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.



The mountain wooded to the peak, the lawns And winding glades high up like ways to Heaven, The slender coco's drooping crown of plumes The lightning flash of insect and of bird, The lustre of the long convolvuluses That coil'd around the stately stems, and ranEv'n to the limit of the land, the glows And glories of the broad belt of the world, All these he saw; but what he fain had seen He could not see, the kindly human face, Nor ever hear a kindly voice, but heard The myriad shriek of wheeling ocean-fowl, The league-long roller thundering on the reef, The moving whisper of huge trees that branch'd And blossom'd in the zenith, or the sweep Of some precipitous rivulet to the wave, As down the shore he ranged, or all day long Sat often in the seaward-gazing gorge, A shipwreck'd sailor, waiting for a sail: No sail from day to day, but every day The sunrise broken into scarlet shafts Among the palms and ferns and precipices; The blaze upon the waters to the east; The blaze upon his island overhead; The blaze upon the waters to the west; Then the great stars that globed themselves in heaven, The hollower-bellowing ocean, and again The scarlet shafts of sunrise--but no sail.



But Enoch yearn'd to see her face again; 'If I might look on her sweet face againAnd know that she is happy.' So the thought Haunted and harass'd him, and drove him forthAt evening when the dull November day Was growing duller twilight, to the hill. There he sat down gazing on all below; There did a thousand memories roll upon him, Unspeakable for sadness. By and by The ruddy square of comfortable light, Far blazing from the rear of Philip's house, Allured him, as the beacon-blaze allures The bird of passage, till he madly strikes Against it, and beats out his weary life.

For Philip's dwelling fronted on the street, The latest house to landward; but behind With one small gate that open'd on the waste,Flourish'd a little garden square and wall'd: And in it throve an ancient evergreen, A yew tree, and all round it ran a walk Of shingle, and a walk divided it: But Enoch shunn'd the middle walk and stole Up by the wall, behind the yew; and thence That which he better might have shunn'd, if griefs Like his have worse or better, Enoch saw.




Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward, All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. 'Forward, the Light Brigade!' 'Charge for the guns!' he said: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.


'Forward, the Light Brigade!' Was there a mandismay'd? Not tho' the soldier knewSome one had blunder'd:Their's not to make reply,Their's not to reason why,Their's but to do and die: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.


Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of themVolley'd and thunder'd;Storm'd at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well, Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell Rode the six hundred.


Flash'd all their sabres bare,Flash'd as they turn'd in air,Sabring the gunners there, Charging an army, while All the world wonder'd: Plunged in the battery-smoke Right thro' the line they broke; Cossack and RussianReel'd from the sabre-strokeShatter'd and sunder'd. Then they rode back, but notNot the six hundred.


Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon behind themVolley'd and thunder'd;Storm'd at with shot and shell, While horse and hero fell, They that had fought so well Came thro' the jaws of Death, Back from the mouth of Hell, All that was left of them, Left of six hundred.


When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made!All the world wondered. Honor the charge they made! Honor the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred!

[Illustration: "BOLDLY THEY RODE AND WELL."]


You must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear; To-morrow 'ill be the happiest time of all the glad New-year; Of all the glad New-year, mother, the maddest merriest day; For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

There's many a black black eye, they say, but none so bright as mine; There's Margaret and Mary, there's Kate and Caroline: But none so fair as little Alice in all the land they say, So I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

[Illustration: THE MAY QUEEN.]


As thro' the land at eve we went, And pluck'd the ripen'd ears, We fell out, my wife and I, O we fell out I know not why, And kiss'd again with tears, And blessings on the falling out That all the more endears, When we fall out with those we love And kiss again with tears! For when we came where lies the child We lost in other years, There above the little grave, O there above the little grave, We kiss'd again with tears.



_Tostig._ What for Norway then? He looks for land among us, he and his.

_Harold._ Seven feet of English land, or something more, Seeing he is a giant.

_Tostig._ That is noble! That sounds of Godwin.

_Harold._ Come thou back, and be Once more a son of Godwin.

_Tostig_ (_turns away_). O brother, brother, O Harold--

_Harold_ (_laying his hand on Tostig's shoulder_). Nay then, come thou back to us!

_Tostig_ (_after a pause turning to him_). Never shall any man say that I, that Tostig Conjured the mightier Harold from the North To do the battle for me here in England, Then left him for the meaner! thee!-- Thou hast no passion for the House of Godwin-- Thou hast but cared to make thyself a king-- Thou hast sold me for a cry-- Thou gavest thy voice against me in the Council-- I hate thee, and despise thee, and defy thee. Farewell for ever! [_Exit._

_Harold._ On to Stamford-bridge!

[Illustration: "NAY THEN, COME THOU BACK TO US!"]


And the sun went down, and the stars came out far over the summer sea, But never a moment ceased the fight of the one and the fifty-three. Ship after ship, the whole night long, their high-built galleons came, Ship after ship, the whole night long, with her battle-thunder and flame; Ship after ship, the whole night long, drew back with her dead and her shame. For some were sunk and many were shatter'd, and so could fight us no more-- God of battles, was ever a battle like this in the world before?

And the night went down, and the sun smiled out far over the summer sea, And the Spanish fleet with broken sides lay round us all in a ring; But they dared not touch us again, for they fear'd that we still could sting, So they watch'd what the end would be. And we had not fought them in vain, But in perilous plight were we, Seeing forty of our poor hundred were slain, And half of the rest of us maim'd for life In the crash of the cannonades and the desperate strife; And the sick men down in the hold were most of them stark and cold, And the pikes were all broken or bent, and the powder was all of it spent; And the masts and the rigging were lying over the side.

Becket and other plays









_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 approbation.

Ever yours_,



HENRY II. (_son of the Earl of Anjou_). THOMAS BECKET, _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. JOHN OF SALISBURY | HERBERT OF BOSHAM | 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 | _the four knights of the King's_ SIR WILLIAM DE TRACY | _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_.


_A Castle in Normandy. Interior of the Hall. Roofs of a City seen thro' Windows_.

HENRY and BECKET at chess.

HENRY. So then our good Archbishop Theobald Lies dying.

BECKET. I am grieved to know as much.

HENRY. But we must have a mightier man than he For his successor.

BECKET. Have you thought of one?

HENRY. 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.

BECKET. It is your move.

HENRY. Well--there. [Moves. 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.

BECKET. My liege, I move my bishop.

HENRY. And if I live, No man without my leave shall excommunicate 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 together. 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. St. 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, 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?

BECKET. That palate is insane which cannot tell A good dish from a bad, new wine from old.

HENRY. Well, who loves wine loves woman.

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, no!

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 whom 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 woman, as a woman should be loved?

HENRY. 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.

BECKET. My lord, I am your subject, not your--

HENRY. Pander. 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.

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 colour'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--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.

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--whatever come between us. [Going.

HENRY. 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.

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 _shoulder_). Here!

BECKET. Mock me not. I am not even a monk. Thy jest--no more. Why--look--is this a sleeve For an archbishop?

HENRY. But the arm within Is Becket's, who hath beaten down my foes.

BECKET. A soldier's, not a spiritual arm.

HENRY. I lack a spiritual soldier, Thomas-- A man of this world and the next to boot.

BECKET. There's Gilbert Foliot.

HENRY. He! too thin, too thin. Thou art the man to fill out the Church robe; Your Foliot fasts and fawns too much for me.

BECKET. Roger of York.

HENRY. Roger is Roger of York. King, Church, and State to him but foils wherein To set that precious jewel, Roger of York. No.

BECKET. Henry of Winchester?

HENRY. Him who crown'd Stephen-- King Stephen's brother! No; too royal for me. And I'll have no more Anselms.

BECKET. Sire, the business Of thy whole kingdom waits me: let me go.

HENRY. Answer me first.

BECKET. Then for thy barren jest Take thou mine answer in bare commonplace-- Nolo episcopari.

HENRY. Ay, but _Nolo Archiepiscopari_, my good friend, Is quite another matter.

BECKET. 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!

HENRY. Thou angerest me, man: I do not jest.


ELEANOR (_singing_).

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?

HENRY. The chart is not mine, but Becket's: take it, Thomas.

ELEANOR. 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.

HENRY. True enough, my mind was set upon other matters.

ELEANOR. What matters? State matters? love matters?

HENRY. My love for thee, and thine for me.


Over! the sweet summer closes, The reign of the roses is done; Over and gone with the roses, And over and gone with the sun.

Here; but our sun in Aquitaine lasts longer. I would I were in Aquitaine again--your north chills me.

Over! the sweet summer closes, And never a flower at the close; Over and gone with the roses, And winter again and the snows.

That was not the way I ended it first--but unsymmetrically, preposterously, illogically, out of passion, without art--like a song of the people. Will you have it? The last Parthian shaft of a forlorn Cupid at the King's left breast, and all left-handedness and under-handedness.

And never a flower at the close, Over and gone with the roses, Not over and gone with the rose.

True, one rose will outblossom the rest, one rose in a bower. I speak after my fancies, for I am a Troubadour, you know, and won the violet at Toulouse; but my voice is harsh here, not in tune, a nightingale out of season; for marriage, rose or no rose, has killed the golden violet.

BECKET. Madam, you do ill to scorn wedded love.

ELEANOR. So I do. Louis of France loved me, and I dreamed that I loved Louis of France: and I loved Henry of England, and Henry of England dreamed that he loved me; but the marriage-garland withers even with the putting on, the bright link rusts with the breath of the first after-marriage kiss, the harvest moon is the ripening of the harvest, and the honeymoon is the gall of love; he dies of his honeymoon. I could pity this poor world myself that it is no better ordered.

HENRY. Dead is he, my Queen? What, altogether? Let me swear nay to that by this cross on thy neck. God's eyes! what a lovely cross! what jewels!

ELEANOR. Doth it please you? Take it and wear it on that hard heart of yours-- there. [Gives it to him.

HENRY (_puts it on_).

On this left breast before so hard a heart, To hide the scar left by thy Parthian dart.

ELEANOR. Has my simple song set you jingling? Nay, if I took and translated that hard heart into our Provençal facilities, I could so play about it with the rhyme--

HENRY. That the heart were lost in the rhyme and the matter in the metre. May we not pray you, Madam, to spare us the hardness of your facility?

ELEANOR. The wells of Castaly are not wasted upon the desert. We did but jest.

HENRY. There's no jest on the brows of Herbert there. What is it, Herbert?


HERBERT. My liege, the good Archbishop is no more.

HENRY. Peace to his soul!

HERBERT. I left him with peace on his face--that sweet other-world smile, which will be reflected in the spiritual body among the angels. But he longed much to see your Grace and the Chancellor ere he past, and his last words were a commendation of Thomas Becket to your Grace as his successor in the archbishoprick.

HENRY. Ha, Becket! thou rememberest our talk!

BECKET. My heart is full of tears--I have no answer.

HENRY. Well, well, old men must die, or the world would grow mouldy, would only breed the past again. Come to me to-morrow. Thou hast but to hold out thy hand. Meanwhile the revenues are mine. A-hawking, a-hawking! If I sit, I grow fat. [_Leaps over the table, and exit_.

BECKET. He did prefer me to the chancellorship, Believing I should ever aid the Church-- But have I done it? He commends me now From out his grave to this archbishoprick.

HERBERT. A dead man's dying wish should be of weight.

BECKET. His should. Come with me. Let me learn at full The manner of his death, and all he said. [Exeunt HERBERT and BECKET.

ELEANOR. Fitzurse, that chart with the red line--thou sawest it--her bower.

FITZURSE. Rosamund's?

ELEANOR. Ay--there lies the secret of her whereabouts, and the King gave it to his Chancellor.

FlTZURSE. To this son of a London merchant--how your Grace must hate him.

ELEANOR. Hate him? as brave a Soldier as Henry and a goodlier man: but thou-- dost thou love this Chancellor, that thou hast sworn a voluntary allegiance to him?

FlTZURSE. Not for my love toward him, but because he had the love of the King. How should a baron love a beggar on horseback, with the retinue of three kings behind him, outroyalling royalty? Besides, he holp the King to break down our castles, for the which I hate him.

ELEANOR. For the which I honour him. Statesman not Churchman he. A great and sound policy that: I could embrace him for it: you could not see the King for the kinglings.

FlTZURSE. Ay, but he speaks to a noble as tho' he were a churl, and to a churl as if he were a noble.

ELEANOR. Pride of the plebeian!

FlTZURSE. And this plebeian like to be Archbishop!

ELEANOR. True, and I have an inherited loathing of these black sheep of the Papacy. Archbishop? I can see further into a man than our hot-headed Henry, and if there ever come feud between Church and Crown, and I do not then charm this secret out of our loyal Thomas, I am not Eleanor.

FlTZURSE. Last night I followed a woman in the city here. Her face was veiled, but the back methought was Rosamund--his paramour, thy rival. I can feel for thee.

ELEANOR. Thou feel for me!--paramour--rival! King Louis had no paramours, and I loved him none the more. Henry had many, and I loved him none the less--now neither more nor less--not at all; the cup's empty. I would she were but his paramour, for men tire of their fancies; but I fear this one fancy hath taken root, and borne blossom too, and she, whom the King loves indeed, is a power in the State. Rival!--ay, and when the King passes, there may come a crash and embroilment as in Stephen's time; and her children--canst thou not--that secret matter which would heat the King against thee (_whispers him and he starts_). Nay, that is safe with me as with thyself: but canst thou not--thou art drowned in debt--thou shalt have our love, our silence, and our gold--canst thou not--if thou light upon her--free me from her?

FITZURSE. Well, Madam, I have loved her in my time.

ELEANOR. No, my bear, thou hast not. My Courts of Love would have held thee guiltless of love--the fine attractions and repulses, the delicacies, the subtleties.

FITZURSE. Madam, I loved according to the main purpose and intent of nature.

ELEANOR. I warrant thee! thou wouldst hug thy Cupid till his ribs cracked-- enough of this. Follow me this Rosamund day and night, whithersoever she goes; track her, if thou canst, even into the King's lodging, that I may (_clenches her fist_)--may at least have my cry against him and her,--and thou in thy way shouldst be jealous of the King, for thou in thy way didst once, what shall I call it, affect her thine own self.

FITZURSE. Ay, but the young colt winced and whinnied and flung up her heels; and then the King came honeying about her, and this Becket, her father's friend, like enough staved us from her.


FITZURSE. Yea, by the Blessed Virgin! There were more than I buzzing round the blossom--De Tracy--even that flint De Brito.

ELEANOR. Carry her off among you; run in upon her and devour her, one and all of you; make her as hateful to herself and to the King, as she is to me.

FITZURSE. I and all would be glad to wreak our spite on the rose-faced minion of the King, and bring her to the level of the dust, so that the King--

ELEANOR. Let her eat it like the serpent, and be driven out of her paradise.


SCENE I.--BECKET'S _House in London. Chamber barely furnished_. BECKET unrobing. HERBERT OF BOSHAM and SERVANT.

SERVANT. Shall I not help your lordship to your rest?

BECKET. Friend, am I so much better than thyself That thou shouldst help me? Thou art wearied out With this day's work, get thee to thine own bed. Leave me with Herbert, friend. [Exit SERVANT. Help me off, Herbert, with this--and this.

HERBERT. Was not the people's blessing as we past Heart-comfort and a balsam to thy blood?

BECKET. The people know their Church a tower of strength, A bulwark against Throne and Baronage. Too heavy for me, this; off with it, Herbert!

HERBERT. Is it so much heavier than thy Chancellor's robe?

BECKET. No; but the Chancellor's and the Archbishop's Together more than mortal man can bear.

HERBERT. Not heavier than thine armour at Thoulouse?

BECKET. O Herbert, Herbert, in my chancellorship I more than once have gone against the Church.

HERBERT. To please the King?

BECKET. Ay, and the King of kings, Or justice; for it seem'd to me but just The Church should pay her scutage like the lords. But hast thou heard this cry of Gilbert Foliot That I am not the man to be your Primate, For Henry could not work a miracle-- Make an Archbishop of a soldier?

HERBERT. Ay, For Gilbert Foliot held himself the man.

BECKET. Am I the man? My mother, ere she bore me, Dream'd that twelve stars fell glittering out of heaven Into her bosom.

HERBERT. Ay, the fire, the light, The spirit of the twelve Apostles enter'd Into thy making.

BECKET. And when I was a child, The Virgin, in a vision of my sleep, Gave me the golden keys of Paradise. Dream, Or prophecy, that?

HERBERT. Well, dream and prophecy both.

BECKET. And when I was of Theobald's household, once-- The good old man would sometimes have his jest-- He took his mitre off, and set it on me, And said, 'My young Archbishop--thou wouldst make A stately Archbishop!' Jest or prophecy there?

HERBERT. Both, Thomas, both.

BECKET. Am I the man? That rang Within my head last night, and when I slept Methought I stood in Canterbury Minster, And spake to the Lord God, and said, 'O Lord, I have been a lover of wines, and delicate meats, And secular splendours, and a favourer Of players, and a courtier, and a feeder Of dogs and hawks, and apes, and lions, and lynxes. Am I the man?' And the Lord answer'd me, 'Thou art the man, and all the more the man.' And then I asked again, 'O Lord my God, Henry the King hath been my friend, my brother, And mine uplifter in this world, and chosen me For this thy great archbishoprick, believing That I should go against the Church with him. And I shall go against him with the Church, And I have said no word of this to him: 'Am I the man?' And the Lord answer'd me, 'Thou art the man, and all the more the man.' And thereupon, methought, He drew toward me, And smote me down upon the Minster floor. I fell.

HERBERT. God make not thee, but thy foes, fall.

BECKET. I fell. Why fall? Why did He smite me? What? Shall I fall off--to please the King once more? Not fight--tho' somehow traitor to the King-- My truest and mine utmost for the Church?

HERBERT. Thou canst not fall that way. Let traitor be; For how have fought thine utmost for the Church, Save from the throne of thine archbishoprick? And how been made Archbishop hadst thou told him, 'I mean to fight mine utmost for the Church, Against the King?'

BECKET. But dost thou think the King Forced mine election?

HERBERT. I do think the King Was potent in the election, and why not? Why should not Heaven have so inspired the King? Be comforted. Thou art the man--be thou A mightier Anselm.

BECKET. I do believe thee, then. I am the man. And yet I seem appall'd--on such a sudden At such an eagle-height I stand and see The rift that runs between me and the King. I served our Theobald well when I was with him; I served King Henry well as Chancellor; I am his no more, and I must serve the Church. This Canterbury is only less than Rome, And all my doubts I fling from me like dust, Winnow and scatter all scruples to the wind, And all the puissance of the warrior, And all the wisdom of the Chancellor, And all the heap'd experiences of life, I cast upon the side of Canterbury-- Our holy mother Canterbury, who sits With tatter'd robes. Laics and barons, thro' The random gifts of careless kings, have graspt Her livings, her advowsons, granges, farms, And goodly acres--we will make her whole; Not one rood lost. And for these Royal customs, These ancient Royal customs--they are Royal, Not of the Church--and let them be anathema, And all that speak for them anathema.

HERBERT. Thomas, thou art moved too much.

BECKET. O Herbert, here I gash myself asunder from the King, Tho' leaving each, a wound; mine own, a grief To show the scar for ever--his, a hate Not ever to be heal'd.

Enter ROSAMUND DE CLIFFORD, flying from SIR REGINALD FITZURSE. Drops her veil.

BECKET. Rosamund de Clifford!

ROSAMUND. Save me, father, hide me--they follow me-- and I must not be known.

BECKET. Pass in with Herbert there.

[Exeunt ROSAMUND and HERBERT by side door.


FITZURSE. The Archbishop!

BECKET. Ay! what wouldst thou, Reginald?

FITZURSE. Why--why, my lord, I follow'd--follow'd one--

BECKET. And then what follows? Let me follow thee.

FITZURSE. It much imports me I should know her name.

BECKET. What her?

FITZURSE. The woman that I follow'd hither.

BECKET. Perhaps it may import her all as much Not to be known.

FITZURSE. And what care I for that? Come, come, my lord Archbishop; I saw that door Close even now upon the woman.


FITZURSE (_making for the door_). Nay, let me pass, my lord, for I must know.

BECKET. Back, man!

FITZURSE. Then tell me who and what she is.

BECKET. Art thou so sure thou followedst anything? Go home, and sleep thy wine off, for thine eyes Glare stupid--wild with wine.

FITZURSE (_making to the door_). I must and will. I care not for thy new archbishoprick.

BECKET. Back, man, I tell thee! What! Shall I forget my new archbishoprick And smite thee with my crozier on the skull? 'Fore God, I am a mightier man than thou.

FlTZURSE. It well befits thy new archbishoprick To take the vagabond woman of the street Into thine arms!

BECKET. O drunken ribaldry! Out, beast! out, bear!

FlTZURSE. I shall remember this.

BECKET. Do, and begone! [Exit FITZURSE. [_Going to the door, sees_ DE TRACY.] Tracy, what dost thou here?

DE TRACY. My lord, I follow'd Reginald Fitzurse.

BECKET. Follow him out!

DE TRACY. I shall remember this Discourtesy. [Exit.

BECKET. Do. These be those baron-brutes That havock'd all the land in Stephen's day. Rosamund de Clifford.

_Re-enter_ ROSAMUND and HERBERT.

ROSAMUND. Here am I.

BECKET. Why here? We gave thee to the charge of John of Salisbury. To pass thee to thy secret bower to-morrow. Wast thou not told to keep thyself from sight?

ROSAMUND. Poor bird of passage! so I was; but, father, They say that you are wise in winged things, And know the ways of Nature. Bar the bird From following the fled summer--a chink--he's out, Gone! And there stole into the city a breath Full of the meadows, and it minded me Of the sweet woods of Clifford, and the walks Where I could move at pleasure, and I thought Lo! I must out or die.

BECKET. Or out and die. And what hast thou to do with this Fitzurse?

ROSAMUND. Nothing. He sued my hand. I shook at him. He found me once alone. Nay--nay--I cannot Tell you: my father drove him and his friends, De Tracy and De Brito, from our castle. I was but fourteen and an April then. I heard him swear revenge.

BECKET. Why will you court it By self-exposure? flutter out at night? Make it so hard to save a moth from the fire?

ROSAMUND. I have saved many of 'em. You catch 'em, so, Softly, and fling them out to the free air. They burn themselves _within_-door.

BECKET. Our good John Must speed you to your bower at once. The child Is there already.

ROSAMUND. Yes--the child--the child-- O rare, a whole long day of open field.

BECKET. Ay, but you go disguised.

ROSAMUND. O rare again! We'll baffle them, I warrant. What shall it be? I'll go as a nun.


ROSAMUND. What, not good enough Even to play at nun?

BECKET. Dan John with a nun, That Map, and these new railers at the Church May plaister his clean name with scurrilous rhymes! No! Go like a monk, cowling and clouding up That fatal star, thy Beauty, from the squint Of lust and glare of malice. Good night! good night!

ROSAMUND. Father, I am so tender to all hardness! Nay, father, first thy blessing.

BECKET. Wedded?


BECKET. Well, well! I ask no more. Heaven bless thee! hence!

ROSAMUND. O, holy father, when thou seest him next, Commend me to thy friend.

BECKET. What friend?


BECKET. Herbert, take out a score of armed men To guard this bird of passage to her cage; And watch Fitzurse, and if he follow thee, Make him thy prisoner. I am Chancellor yet. [Exeunt HERBERT and ROSAMUND. Poor soul! poor soul! My friend, the King!... O thou Great Seal of England, Given me by my dear friend the King of England-- We long have wrought together, thou and I-- Now must I send thee as a common friend To tell the King, my friend, I am against him. We are friends no more: he will say that, not I. The worldly bond between us is dissolved, Not yet the love: can I be under him As Chancellor? as Archbishop over him? Go therefore like a friend slighted by one That hath climb'd up to nobler company. Not slighted--all but moan'd for: thou must go. I have not dishonour'd thee--I trust I have not; Not mangled justice. May the hand that next Inherits thee be but as true to thee As mine hath been! O, my dear friend, the King! O brother!--I may come to martyrdom. I am martyr in myself already.--Herbert!

HERBERT (_re-entering_). My lord, the town is quiet, and the moon Divides the whole long street with light and shade. No footfall--no Fitzurse. We have seen her home.

BECKET. The hog hath tumbled himself into some corner, Some ditch, to snore away his drunkenness Into the sober headache,--Nature's moral Against excess. Let the Great Seal be sent Back to the King to-morrow.

HERBERT. Must that be? The King may rend the bearer limb from limb Think on it again.

BECKET. Against the moral excess No physical ache, but failure it may be Of all we aim'd at. John of Salisbury Hath often laid a cold hand on my heats, And Herbert hath rebuked me even now. I will be wise and wary, not the soldier As Foliot swears it.--John, and out of breath!


JOHN OF SALISBURY. Thomas, thou wast not happy taking charge Of this wild Rosamund to please the King, Nor am I happy having charge of her-- The included Danaë has escaped again Her tower, and her Acrisius--where to seek? I have been about the city.

BECKET. Thou wilt find her Back in her lodging. Go with her--at once-- To-night--my men will guard you to the gates. Be sweet to her, she has many enemies. Send the Great Seal by daybreak. Both, good night!

SCENE II.--Street in Northampton leading to the Castle.

ELEANOR'S RETAINERS and BECKET'S RETAINERS _fighting. Enter_ ELEANOR and BECKET from opposite streets.

ELEANOR. Peace, fools!

BECKET. Peace, friends! what idle brawl is this?

RETAINER OF BECKET. They said--her Grace's people--thou wast found-- Liars! I shame to quote 'em--caught, my lord, With a wanton in thy lodging--Hell requite 'em!

RETAINER OF ELEANOR. My liege, the Lord Fitzurse reported this In passing to the Castle even now.

RETAINER OF BECKET. And then they mock'd us and we fell upon 'em, For we would live and die for thee, my lord, However kings and queens may frown on thee.

BECKET TO HIS RETAINERS. Go, go--no more of this!


BECKET. Nay, let him be.

ELEANOR. No, no, my Lord Archbishop, 'Tis known you are midwinter to all women, But often in your chancellorship you served The follies of the King.

BECKET. No, not these follies!

ELEANOR. My lord, Fitzurse beheld her in your lodging.


ELEANOR. Well--you know--the minion, Rosamund.

BECKET. He had good eyes!

ELEANOR. Then hidden in the street He watch'd her pass with John of Salisbury And heard her cry 'Where is this bower of mine?'

BECKET. Good ears too!

ELEANOR. You are going to the Castle, Will you subscribe the customs?

BECKET. I leave that, Knowing how much you reverence Holy Church, My liege, to your conjecture.

ELEANOR. I and mine-- And many a baron holds along with me-- Are not so much at feud with Holy Church But we might take your side against the customs-- So that you grant me one slight favour.


ELEANOR. A sight of that same chart which Henry gave you With the red line--'her bower.'

BECKET. And to what end?

ELEANOR. That Church must scorn herself whose fearful Priest Sits winking at the license of a king, Altho' we grant when kings are dangerous The Church must play into the hands of kings; Look! I would move this wanton from his sight And take the Church's danger on myself.

BECKET. For which she should be duly grateful.

ELEANOR. True! Tho' she that binds the bond, herself should see That kings are faithful to their marriage vow.

BECKET. Ay, Madam, and queens also.

ELEANOR. And queens also! What is your drift?

BECKET. My drift is to the Castle, Where I shall meet the Barons and my King. [Exit.


ELEANOR. To the Castle?


ELEANOR. Stir up the King, the Lords! Set all on fire against him!

DE BRITO. Ay, good Madam! [Exeunt.

ELEANOR. Fool! I will make thee hateful to thy King. Churl! I will have thee frighted into France, And I shall live to trample on thy grave.

SCENE III.--The Hall in Northampton Castle.

_On one side of the stage the doors of an inner Council-chamber, half-open. At the bottom, the great doors of the Hall_. ROGER ARCHBISHOP OF YORK, FOLIOT BISHOP OF LONDON, HILARY OF CHICHESTER, BISHOP OF HEREFORD, RICHARD DE HASTINGS (_Grand Prior of Templars_), PHILIP DE ELEEMOSYNA (_the Pope's Almoner_), and others. DE BROC, FITZURSE, DE BRITO, DE MORVILLE, DE TRACY, and other BARONS _assembled--a table before them_. JOHN OF OXFORD, President of the Council.


BECKET. Where is the King?

ROGER OF YORK. Gone hawking on the Nene, His heart so gall'd with thine ingratitude, He will not see thy face till thou hast sign'd These ancient laws and customs of the realm. Thy sending back the Great Seal madden'd him, He all but pluck'd the bearer's eyes away. Take heed, lest he destroy thee utterly.

BECKET. Then shalt thou step into my place and sign.

ROGER OF YORK. Didst thou not promise Henry to obey These ancient laws and customs of the realm?

BECKET. Saving the honour of my order--ay. Customs, traditions,--clouds that come and go; The customs of the Church are Peter's rock.

ROGER OF YORK. Saving thine order! But King Henry sware That, saving his King's kingship, he would grant thee The crown itself. Saving thine order, Thomas, Is black and white at once, and comes to nought. O bolster'd up with stubbornness and pride, Wilt thou destroy the Church in fighting for it, And bring us all to shame?

BECKET. Roger of York, When I and thou were youths in Theobald's house, Twice did thy malice and thy calumnies Exile me from the face of Theobald. Now I am Canterbury and thou art York.

ROGER OF YORK. And is not York the peer of Canterbury? Did not Great Gregory bid St. Austin here Found two archbishopricks, London and York?

BECKET. What came of that? The first archbishop fled, And York lay barren for a hundred years. Why, by this rule, Foliot may claim the pall For London too.

FOLIOT. And with good reason too, For London had a temple and a priest When Canterbury hardly bore a name.

BECKET. The pagan temple of a pagan Rome! The heathen priesthood of a heathen creed! Thou goest beyond thyself in petulancy! Who made thee London? Who, but Canterbury?

JOHN OF OXFORD. Peace, peace, my lords! these customs are no longer As Canterbury calls them, wandering clouds, But by the King's command are written down, And by the King's command I, John of Oxford, The President of this Council, read them.


JOHN OF OXFORD (_reads_). 'All causes of advowsons and presentations, whether between laymen or clerics, shall be tried in the King's court.'

BECKET. But that I cannot sign: for that would drag The cleric before the civil judgment-seat, And on a matter wholly spiritual.

JOHN OF OXFORD. 'If any cleric be accused of felony, the Church shall not protect him: but he shall answer to the summons of the King's court to be tried therein.'

BECKET. And that I cannot sign. Is not the Church the visible Lord on earth? Shall hands that do create the Lord be bound Behind the back like laymen-criminals? The Lord be judged again by Pilate? No!

JOHN OF OXFORD. 'When a bishoprick falls vacant, the King, till another be appointed, shall receive the revenues thereof.'

BECKET. And that I cannot sign. Is the King's treasury A fit place for the monies of the Church, That be the patrimony of the poor?

JOHN OF OXFORD. 'And when the vacancy is to be filled up, the King shall summon the chapter of that church to court, and the election shall be made in the Chapel Royal, with the consent of our lord the King, and by the advice of his Government.'

BECKET. And that I cannot sign: for that would make Our island-Church a schism from Christendom, And weight down all free choice beneath the throne.

FOLIOT. And was thine own election so canonical, Good father?

BECKET. If it were not, Gilbert Foliot, I mean to cross the sea to France, and lay My crozier in the Holy Father's hands, And bid him re-create me, Gilbert Foliot.