David Bruce: John Ford’s PERKIN WARBECK: A Retelling — Act 3, Scene 2

— 3.2 —

TheEarl of Huntley and Lord Dalyell talked together in the palace at Edinburgh. The wedding of Perkin Warbeck and Lady Katherine was being celebrated.

The Earl of Huntley and Lord Dalyell were both unhappy, but only the Earl of Huntley was putting on a grotesque imitation of a happy man.

“Now, sir, a modest word with you, sad gentleman,” the Earl of Huntley said to Lord Dalyell. “Isn’t this fine, I suppose, to see the gambols, hear the jigs, observe the frisks, be enchanted with the excellent discord of bells, pipes, and the small drums called tabors and the confused hotch-potch of Scotch and Irish twingling-twangling harpists, which are similarto so many insane choristers at Bedlam Hospital singing a round of a song!

“The feasts, the manly, hearty appetites, the pledging of healths in usquebaugh, aka whisky, and bonny-clabber, aka beer and buttermilk, the ale in dishes never fetched from China, the hundred-thousand delicacies not to be spoken of — and all this for King Oberon and Queen Mab of the fairies — should put a soul into you.”

Perkin Warbeck and Lady Katherine were figuratively King Oberon and Queen Mab of the fairies.

The Earl of Huntley continued, “Look, good man, how youthful I am grown, but if you don’t mind my saying so, this new Queen-bride must henceforth be no more my daughter — no, by our lady, it is unfit.

“And yet you see how I bear this change. I think I do so courageously, and so you should then shake off your cares and worries in such a time of jollity.”

“Alas, sir,” Lord Dalyell replied, “how can you cast a mist upon and cover up your griefs?

“Your griefs, howsoever you conceal them in shadow, still present to any judging eye the perfect substance of grief, of which my griefs are but counterfeits.”

“Bah, Dalyell!” the Earl of Huntley said. “Thou interrupt the part I bear in music to this rare bridal-feast. Let us be merry, while flattering calms make us feel overconfident about storms. Tempests, when they begin to roar, put out the light of peace and cloud the sun’s bright eye in darkness of despair; as of right now, we are safe.”

Mist, which is less dense than fog, conceals grief, but a tempest blots out the sun and causes grief. A light mistiness in the eyes can conceal grief, but a tempest of tears reveals grief.

“I wish you could as easily forget the justice of your sorrows as my hopes can yield to destiny,” Lord Dalyell said.

“Bah!” the Earl of Huntley said. “Then I see thou do not know the flexible condition of my apt — and aped — nature.”

His nature was apt in that it could adapt to bad conditions — or so he claimed. It was aped in that it was imitative: He did not feel happy, but he was imitating — badly — a happy man.

The Earl of Huntley continued:

“I can laugh, laugh heartily, when the gout cramps my joints.

“Just let the kidney stone stop in my bladder, and I am immediately singing.

“The quartan-fever that strikes every fourth day, shrinking every limb, sets me capering and dancing right away.

“Betray me, and you bind me as a friend forever.

“Indeed, I trust that the losing of a daughter, although I doted on every hair that grew to trim her head, does not allow the presence of any pain like one of these.

“Come, thou are deceived in me when you think that I feel pain and grief.

“Give me a blow, a sound blow on the face, and I’ll thank thee for it.

“I love the wrongs that are done to me. Thou are deceived in me if you think that I do not.”

He was saying that he felt no pain and no grief.

It was more accurate, however, to say that no other pain and grief could compare to the pain and grief of losing his daughter. The pain and grief of losing his daughter made every other pain and grief seem pleasurable.

“Deceived!” Lord Dalyell said. “Oh, noble Huntley, my few years have learnt experience of too ripe an age to forfeit fit credulity. I know what is believable and what is unbelievable.

“I do not believe that you feel no pain and no grief.

“Forgive my rudeness; I am bold.”

He was rude and bold because he was calling the Earl of Huntley — an older man — a liar.

The Earl of Huntley said, “Forgive me first a madness of ambition.

“Through your example teach me humility, for patience and calmness scorn lectures, which schoolmen are accustomed to read to boys who are incapable of injuries.”

Schoolboys are too young to have daughters old enough to be married to an impostor by the King, and so they are incapable of being injured by such a deed.

In order to learn how to deal with such a bad situation as this, it would take the example of another person. Simply hearing advice about how to deal with such a calamity is worthless. In such a bad situation, the positive example of someone with experience is much more worthwhile.

The Earl of Huntley continued, “Although I am old, I could grow tough in fury, and disclaim allegiance to my King. I could fall at odds with all my fellow peers who dared not stand up as defenders against the rape done on my honor.

“But Kings are earthly gods, so there is no meddling with their anointed bodies; as for their actions, Kings are accountable only to Heaven.

“Yet in the puzzle of my troubled brain, one antidote’s kept in reserve against the poison of my temporary madness; it lies in thee to apply the antidote.”

“Name it,” Lord Dalyell said. “Oh, name it quickly, sir! Tell me what the antidote is!”

“The antidote is a pardon for my most foolish slighting thy deserts; I have culled out this time to beg your pardon. Please, be generous; had I been so, thou had owned a happy bride, but now she is a castaway, and she is never a child of mine anymore.”

The Earl of Huntley now regretted not using his power as a father to make his daughter marry Lord Dalyell, and he was begging Lord Dalyell to forgive him. Because the Earl of Huntley had been ambitious for a socially reputable marriage for his daughter, he had missed the opportunity to have her married to a good man: Lord Dalyell.

“Don’t say that, sir,” Lord Dalyell said. “Lady Katherine is not at fault here.”

“The world would prate about how she was beautiful,” the Earl of Huntley said. “I know she was young, tender, and sweet in her obedience. But she is lost now. What a bankrupt am I now, fallen from a full stock of blessings!

“Must I hope for a mercy from thy heart?”

“You shall receive it,” Lord Dalyell said. “You shall receive a love, a service, and a friendship to posterity.”

“May good angels reward thy charity!” the Earl of Huntley replied. “I have nothing more except prayers left to me now.”

“I’ll lend you mirth, sir, if you will be in harmony with me and with yourself,” Lord Dalyell said.

No such mirth would be forthcoming. Such harmony was not possible at this time. At best, they could endure their sorrow together.

“Thank you truly,” the Earl of Huntley said. “I must; yes, yes, I must.

“Here’s yet some ease: a partner in affliction. Do not look angry.”

“Good, noble sir!” Lord Dalyell said.

He was not angry; instead, he felt pity.

Trumpets sounded.

“Oh, listen!” the Earl of Huntley said. “We must be quiet. The King and all the others are coming.

“Here is a meeting of festive sights. This day is the last of the revels.

“Tomorrow sounds of war; then we will see a new exchange: Fiddles must turn to swords.

“Unhappy marriage!”

Trumpets again sounded.

King James IV, Perkin Warbeck and Lady Katherine, the Earl of Crawford and his Countess, and Jane Douglas and other ladies entered the scene.

The Earl of Huntley and Lord Dalyell fell in among them.

King James IV said to Perkin Warbeck, “Cousin of York, you and your princely bride have liberally enjoyed such soft delights as a new-married couple could anticipate, nor has our generosity shorted expectation.But after all those pleasures of repose, of amorous safety, we must rouse the ease of dalliance with achievements of more glory than sloth and sleep can furnish; yet, for farewell, we gladly entertain a truce with time in order to grace the joint endeavors of our servants.”

Perkin Warbeck replied, “My royal cousin, in your princely favor the extent of bounty has been so unlimited that an acknowledgment in words only would breed suspicion of our state and quality. When we shall, in the fullness of our Fate — completed by its minister, Necessity — sit on our own throne as King of England, then our arms, laid open in gratitude, in sacred memory of these large benefits, shall entwine our benefactors closely, even to our thoughts and heart, without distinction. Then James IV and Richard IV, being in effect one person, shall unite and rule one people, divisible in titles only.”

Perkin Warbeck was saying that he would thank King James IV of Scotland with more than words when he became King Richard IV of England. His thanks would include peace between England and Scotland and a close relationship with King James IV of Scotland.

“Be seated,” King James IV said.

He then asked, “Are the performers ready?”

“All are entering,” the Earl of Crawford replied.

“Dainty entertainment is approaching, Dalyell!” the Earl of Huntley said. “Sit; come, sit. Sit and be quiet; here are kingly bug’s-words!”

Bug’s-words were the pompous, overly courtly words that the Earl of Huntley expected to be spoken by Perkin Warbeck.

Four grotesque performers costumed as Scotchmen entered through one door. Warbeck’s followers, costumed as four long-haired wild Irishmen in trousers, entered through another door.

Music played, and the performers danced.

“To all a general thanks!” King James IV said.

“In the next room put on your own clothing again; you shall receive the particular and individual acknowledgment of a gift of money,” Perkin Warbeck said.

Theperformers exited.

“Enough of merriments,” King James IV said.

He then asked, “Crawford, how far’s our army upon the march?”

“The soldiers are at Hedonhall, great King,” the Earl of Crawford answered. “They number twelve thousand well-prepared soldiers.”

“Crawford, tonight travel there posthaste,” King James IV said. “We in person, with the prince, by four o’clock tomorrow after dinner will be with you; speed away!”

“I fly, my lord,” the Earl of Crawford said, and then he exited.

“Our business grows to a head — a critical point — now,” King James IV said to Perkin Warbeck. “Where’s Frion, your secretary? Why isn’t he present to serve you?”

“He is with Marchmont, your herald,” Perkin Warbeck replied.

“Good,” King James IV said. “The proclamation’s ready. By that it will appear how the English feel about your title.”

The purpose of the proclamation was to announce publicly to the English that their true King — Perkin Warbeck — was coming. The reaction to the proclamation would help King James IV and Perkin Warbeck gauge the English reaction to Perkin Warbeck: Did they support him or not?

“Huntley, comfort your daughter in her husband’s absence,” King James IV said. “Fight with prayers at home for us, who for your honors must toil in fight abroad.”

“Prayers are the weapons that men so near their graves as I am use,” the Earl of Huntley said. “I’ve little else to do.”

“To rest, young beauties!” King James IV said.

He added, “We must be early stirring; we must quickly part. A kingdom’s rescue craves both speed and art.”

The kingdom being “rescued” and returned to its “true King” was England.

“Art” in this context meant “skill and cunning.”

“Cousins, goodnight,” King James IV said to Perkin Warbeck and Lady Katherine.

“We wish rest to our cousin-King,” Perkin Warbeck said.

“Your blessing, sir,” Lady Katherine said to her father.

The Earl of Huntley said, “Fair blessings on your highness! To be sure, you need them.”

Everyone except PerkinWarbeck, Lady Katherine, and Jane Douglas exited.

“Jane, set the lights down, and from us give to the performers in the next room this little purse of money,” Perkin Warbeck said, giving her money. “Tell them that we’ll deserve their loves.”

Jane Douglas replied, “It shall be done, sir,” and then she exited.

Now Perkin Warbeck and his new wife, Lady Katherine, were alone.

He said, “Now, dearest, before sweet sleep shall seal your eyes, which are love’s precious taper — lights — give me permission to engage in a parting ceremony now; for tomorrow it would be sacrilege to intrude upon the temple of thy peace. Swift as the morning I must break from the soft down of thy embraces in order to put on hard steel and tread the paths that lead through various hazards to a full-of-worries throne.”

“Down” consists of the soft feathers of a bird. Lady Katherine’s embraces were soft.

“My lord, I’d be delighted to go with you,” Lady Katherine said. “There’s little benefit in staying behind here.”

“The churlish brow of war, fair dearest, is a sight of horror when it comes to ladies’ entertainment,” Perkin Warbeck said.

He did not want her to witness war.

He continued, “If thou should hear a report of my sad ending by the hand of some English subject who against nature fights against his true King, thou in addition shall hear how I died worthy of my right to the crown by falling like a King; and in the close of my life, my last breath shall sound this cadence: thy name.

“Thy name, thou fairest, shall sing a requiem to my soul, unwilling to move on only to greater glory, because in the Heavenly Paradise it will be divided from such a Heaven on Earth as life with thee.

“But these are chimes for funerals. My business now turns to fortune of a sprightlier triumph: For love and majesty are reconciled, and both of them vow to crown thee Empress of the west.”

“You have a noble language, sir,” Lady Katherine said. “Your right in me is without question, and however events of time may shorten my deservings of others’ pity, yet it shall not stagger and daunteither constancy or duty in a wife.”

Events could quickly make her deserving of others’ pity if her husband were to soon die on the battlefield.

She concluded, “You must be King of me; and my poor heart is all I can call mine.”

“But we will live, live, beauteous virtue, by the living proof of our own blood, to let the counterfeit be known as the world’s object of contempt,” Perkin Warbeck said.

He meant the word “counterfeit” to mean King Henry VII, but it accurately referred to himself.

“Please, do not use that word,” Lady Katherine said. “It carries fate in it.”

She added, “I now make the first request I ever made to you, and I trust that your love for me will grant it.”

“I will make no denial, dearest.”

“My request is that hereafter, if you return safely, no adventure may sever us in tasting and experiencing any fortune,” Lady Katherine said. “I never can stay behind again.”

“You’re lady of your desires, and you shall command whatever you will,” Perkin Warbeck said. “Yet it is too hard to promise.”

“What our destinies have decreed in their books we must not probe and examine, but kneel to,” Lady Katherine said. “We must accept what is written in the Book of Fate.”

“Then to fear when hope is fruitless would be to be desperately miserable,” Perkin Warbeck said. “This poverty of spirit our greatness dares not dream of, and much more our greatness scorns to stoop to.

“Some few minutes remain yet before I go; let’s be thriving and successful in our hopes.”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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