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A LONDONER, A VISITOR
VIS. You speak to me of this domestic evil, terrible and grave. With how many waves will the great weight of kingship, exposed to hatred, be tossed? Although it is already conquered, it fancies itself invisible. Greed for the throne stirs up great storms, while the prince’s blind lust has beset the kingdom. How many cities have been laid low? Just as a strong gale strikes a gentle ship, cleaving the ocean deep, and raging with its blast strikes the main, while it splits the ship’s sides and redoubles its menaces, so this violent shift of government oppresses our nation.
Tell me, pray, why this crowd approaches. Every man stares at his surroundings and gapes at the splendid shows. Everything is hung with bright tapestries, and the King’s throne shines in splendor.
LOND. Trusty guest, Richard is being crowned. By the unanimous vote of all orders of society he is acclaimed as heir.
VIS. An uncertain rumor has already reported this.
LOND. This place is dedicated to the great ceremony. The hour is at hand.
VIS. A good hour as long as a pious King is chosen, a bad one if he is more base. If the King be good, this is the salvation of our citizenry. If he be bad, he is a plague.
LOND. The uncle, born of the royal stock, who as Regent took his two nephews under his protection, behold, he himself is being made King of England in this grand ceremony.
VIS. Where are the two little princes? It is a crime for the uncle to rule, as long as they are alive.
LOND. Greed for the throne brings this about. They suffer disgrace, confined in the Tower.
VIS. How criminal!
LOND. Yes, but a royal crime.
VIS. All the worse.
LOND. Yes, but concerning a matter of state.
VIS. Piety befits a King, nor is it lawful to purchase a kingdom for an unholy price.
LOND. But government is always for sale — for a goodly price.
VIS. Never will things basely acquired turn out for the best.
LOND. It is sufficient to be King once.
VIS. Here’s a twofold road to catastrophe: the pleasure is brief, the labor of ruling is hard.
LOND. If it is your pleasure, the labor of ruling is lessened.
VIS. But the hate you incur is greater.
LOND. That is suppressed by fear.
VIS. Rather by loyalty.
LOND. Alter your mood. To speak ill of a prince is a grave danger, and he will immediately order those whom he suspects to be killed. Now leave off your comments. It is necessary to yield to the times. The King has recently greeted those he meets with great deference, and the King’s appearance shows him to be almost fawning, for a guilty conscience compels him to abase himself. He has released the Cardinal from bondage and set Lord Stanley free from jail, for he feared lest his son, a Lancastrian, avenge his father’s imprisonment. But he has ordered the Duke of Buckingham to guard the Bishop of Ely, pent up in his home.
VIS. But the trumpet blast announces the King’s approach. I see Earls, Dukes, Marquises, all the Peers in procession with their glittering chains of office.
After they have thus declared what everything signifieth, let the singers sing etc, being placed on the toppe of some of the houses. In the mean season let such ceremonyes be used for the coronation as the Chronicle declareth. And after let them departe in this order following.
The Shewe of the Coronation
Trumpetts and heraldes.
Priestes in surplices and graye amesies or silke hoodes
Bishops in rochets and chymers
Noblemen Lords, Earles, Dukes.
Gilt spurres carried by the Earle of Huntingdon.
St. Edwardes staffe carried by the Earle of Bedforde.
The pointles sworde naked by the Earle of Northumberlande bare headed.
The greate mace by the Lord Stanley.
Two swordes together naked by the Earle of Kent and the Lord Lovell.
The great scepter by the Duke of Suffolke.
The ball with the crosse the Earle of Lincoln.
The sword of estate with a rich scabeard by the Earle of Surray.
Three together that is the king of heraldes in the middest, on the left hand the Mayor of London with a mace, on the right hand the gentleman usher.
The Kinges crown the Duke of Norfolk.
The King under a canopy betwixt two Bishoppes.
The Duke of Buckingham with a white staffe bearing up the Kinges trayne.
Lordes and gentlemen before the Queene.
The Queenes scepter.
The white dove with a white rodde.
The Queen with a circlet of on her head under a canopy with four belles hanging on it and the lady Margaret bearinge her trayne.
A troupe of Ladies.
Knights, Esquires, gentlemen, tipstaffes.
Northern soldiers well armed.
VIS. Tell me, Londoner, what is the significance of these glittering golden spurs which the Earl bears in his hand.
LOND. They are the symbols of martial virtue.
VIS. And this staff?
LOND. It belonged to St. Edward the King. They bear it in his memory.
VIS. And what means the sword which the bare-headed man carries?
VIS. And the gold mace?
LOND. In this ceremony the Master of Horse performs the office of Constable of England.
VIS. Why do they carry two glittering swords on either side of the King?
LOND. They are the two swords of justice, which punish the clergy and the laity alike with their wholesome wounds.
VIS. And why are they bearing two unpointed swords?
LOND. [ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ]
VIS. What do these scepters signify?
VIS. And the orb, atop of which there stands a cross?
VIS. And look here, this man is carrying another shining sword, large and artfully LOND, in a scabbard.
LOND. That is the Sword of State.
VIS. But tell me, who is this man in the middle, radiant with splendor, dressed in LOND?
LOND. He is the head of his College, Garter King of Arms.
VIS. And why does the Duke’s servant bear a white rod before him?
LOND. The Lord High Chamberlain bears this.
VIS. What means the Queen’s dove?
LOND. It symbolizes innocence, harmful to no man.
During the solemnity of the Coronation lett this songe followinge be sunge with instruments.
Let us celebrate this festive day with conjoined hearts, the day on which the King is crowned. This noble offspring of a King gains the glory of the throne, the illustrious head of the prince is bound with the shining gold. Now sing with a happy voice. Let us sing the sovereign’s praises. Shame has oppressed the realm, a King’s lust has polluted it.
Go to Act I of the Third Action