David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s 2 HENRY VI: A Retelling in Prose — Act 4, Scene 7

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N5C7W2V/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i74— 4.7 —

In Smithfield, London, the battle had taken place. The rebels were victorious and had killed the great warrior Matthew Goffe.

Jack Cade said, “So, sirs, now some of you go and pull down the Savoy — the residence of the Duke of Lancaster. Others of you go to the Inns of Court — the London law schools and the place where London lawyers work and reside. Down with them all!”

Dick the Butcher said, “I have a suit — a formal request — for your lordship.”

Jack Cade replied, “If you want a lordship, you shall have it for calling me ‘my lordship.’”

Dick the Butcher said, “I request only that the laws of England may come out of your mouth.”

John Holland said, “By the Mass, it will be sore — poor and painful — law, then, for he was thrust in the mouth with a spear, and the wound has not healed yet.”

Smith the Weaver said, “John, it will be stinking law because his breath stinks from eating toasted cheese.”

Jack Cade replied to Dick the Butcher, “I have thought about it, and it shall be so. All laws will come from my mouth. Leave, and burn all the records of the realm. My mouth shall be the Parliament of England.”

John Holland said, “Then we are likely to have biting — severe — statutes, unless his teeth are pulled out.”

Jack Cade said, “And henceforward all things shall belong to the whole community — they shall be owned in common.”

A messenger arrived and said, “My lord, a prize, a prize! Here’s the Lord Say, who sold the towns in France; he is the man who made us pay one and twenty fifteens, and one shilling to the pound, the last subsidy.”

The messenger was exaggerating how much taxes the commoners paid. One and twenty fifteens totaled 140 percent.

Jack Cade said, “Well, he shall be beheaded for it ten times.”

Lord Say, guarded by the rebel George Bevis, arrived.

Jack Cade then said to Lord Say, “Ah, you say, you serge — no, you buckram lord!”

“Say” was a fine-textured cloth, “serge” was a woolen cloth, and “buckram” was a cloth that was stiffened with glue.

Jack Cade continued, “Now you are within point-blank range of our regal jurisdiction. What can you answer to my majesty for the giving up of Normandy to Mounsieur Basimecu, the Dauphin of France?”

“Mounsieur” was an uneducated pronunciation of the French “Monsieur,” and “Basimecu” was an uneducated pronunciation of the French “Baise mon cul,” aka “F**k my *ss.”

Jack Cade continued, “Be it known to you by these presence, even the presence of Lord Mortimer, that I am the besom — broom — that must sweep the court clean of such filth as you are. “

He was confusing the Latin “per has literas presents,” aka “by these present documents,” and “in this presence.”

Jack Cade continued, “You have most traitorously corrupted the youth of the realm by erecting a grammar school, and whereas our forefathers previously had no other books but the score and the tally, which are a way of recording debts, you have caused printing to be used, and, contrary to the King, his crown, and his dignity, you have built a paper mill.”

The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates taught the youth of Athens, for which activity he was accused in a lawsuit of “corrupting the youth of Athens.”

Jack Cade continued, “It will be proved to your face that you have men about you who usually talk of a noun and a verb, and these are such abominable words as no Christian ear can endure to hear. You have appointed justices of peace to call poor men before them about matters they were not able to answer satisfactorily. Moreover, you have put them in prison, and because they could not read, you have hanged them; when, indeed, for just that reason they have been most worthy to live.”

In this culture, priests were exempt from being tried in a criminal court, although they could be tried in an ecclesiastical court. Priests were able to read Latin and anyone who could prove that he could read Latin could avoid a sentence of capital punishment given in a criminal court by claiming benefit of clergy.

Jack Cade continued, “You ride in a footcloth, don’t you?”

He meant that Lord Say rode a horse that was decorated with a footcloth — a richly ornamented cloth that was draped over the horse’s back.

“What of that?” Lord Say asked.

Jack Cade said, “By the Virgin Mary, you ought not to let your horse wear a cloak, when men who are more honest than you go about in their tights and jackets.”

Dick the Butcher added, “And work in their shirt, too, as for example I myself, who am a butcher, do.”

Jack Cade’s point was that animals ought not to be better dressed than human beings.

Lord Say began, “You men of Kent —”

Dick the Butcher interrupted, “What do you say about Kent?”

Knowing that the rebels did not know Latin, Lord Say replied, “Nothing but this: It is ‘bona terra, mala gens.’”

Bona terra, mala gens” is Latin for “a good land, a bad people.”

“Away with him, away with him!” Jack Cade said, “He speaks Latin.”

Lord Say said, “Hear me speak, and then take me where you will.

“Julius Caesar, in his Commentaries on the Gallic War, wrote that Kent is the most civil place of this isle. Sweet is the country, because full of riches. The people are liberal, valiant, active, and wealthy, which makes me hope you are not devoid of pity.

“I did not sell Maine, I did not lose Normandy, yet I am willing to lose my life to recover them.

“As a judge, I have always given justice with mercy. Prayers and tears have moved me, but gifts never could. I did not accept bribes.

“When have I exacted any tax at your hands, except in order to maintain the King, the realm, and you?

“I have bestowed large gifts on learned clerks because my education preferred me to the King. Seeing that ignorance is the curse of God, while knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to Heaven, unless you are possessed with Devilish spirits, you cannot but refrain from murdering me.

“This tongue has parleyed with foreign Kings for your benefit —”

Jack Cade said, “Tut, when have you struck even one blow on the battlefield?”

Lord Say said, “Great men have hands that reach far. Often have I struck those whom I never saw and struck them dead.”

George Bevis said, “Oh, monstrous coward! To come up behind folks and then strike them dead!”

Lord Say said, “These cheeks of mine are pale because I spent so much time watching out for your good.”

Jack Cade said, “Give him a box on the ear and that will make his cheeks red again.”

Lord Say said, “Long sitting as a judge to rule in poor men’s law cases has made me full of sickness and diseases.”

Jack Cade said, “You shall have a hempen caudle, then, and the help of hatchet.”

A caudle is a warm drink intended to restore invalids to health. A hempen caudle is a hangman’s noose. The word “hatchet” refers to an executioner’s ax. After being hung and then beheaded so that one’s head can be displayed on a pole, no one has to worry about sickness and disease.

Dick the Butcher asked Lord Say, who was trembling, “Why are you quivering, man?”

“The palsy, and not fear, affects me, an old man, and makes me tremble,” Lord Say replied.

Jack Cade said, “He nods at us, as if to say, ‘I’ll get even with you.’ I’ll see if his head will stand steadier on a pole, or not. Take him away, and behead him.”

Lord Say said, “Tell me in what I have offended most? Have I sought wealth or honors? Tell me. Are my chests filled up with gold that I have extorted from others? Is my apparel sumptuous to behold? Whom have I injured with the result that you seek my death? These hands are free from the shedding of guiltless blood. This breast is free of harboring foul deceitful thoughts. Oh, let me live!”

John Cade thought, I feel remorse in myself because of his words, but I’ll bridle my remorse. He shall die, even if it be only for pleading so well for his life.

He said out loud, “Away with him! He has a familiar spirit under his tongue; he speaks not in God’s name.”

Witches had familiars — spirits that served them.

Jack Cade continued, “Go, take him away, I say, and strike off his head immediately; and then break into the house of his son-in-law, Sir James Cromer, and strike off his head, and bring both heads on two poles here.”

The rebels said, “It shall be done.”

“Ah, countrymen!” Lord Say said. “If when you make your prayers, God would be so obdurate as yourselves, how would it fare with your departed souls? Therefore relent now, and save my life.”

Jack Cade ordered, “Take him away! And do as I command you.”

Some rebels, including Dick the Butcher, exited with Lord Say.

Jack Cade said, “The proudest peer in the realm shall not wear a head on his shoulders, unless he pays me tribute. Not a maid shall be married, but she shall pay to me her maidenhead before her husband can have it. Men shall hold land from me in capite.”

In capite” was a Latin phrase meaning “from the head.” The Latin legal phrase referred to land held directly from the King, who was the head of the country.

Jack Cade continued, “And we order and command that husbands’ wives be as free and sexually available as heart can wish or tongue can tell — you will get as much sex as you could want or ask for.”

A rebel arrived and said, “Captain, London Bridge is on fire!”

Jack Cade said, “Run to Billingsgate and fetch pitch and flax and quench it.”

Pitch and flax would make the fire burn more fiercely.

Dick the Butcher and a Sergeant arrived.

The Sergeant said, “Justice, justice, I ask you for justice, sir. Let me have justice on this fellow Dick the Butcher here.”

Jack Cade asked, “Why? What has he done?”

“Sir, he has raped my wife,” the Sergeant said.

Dick the Butcher said to Jack Cade, “Why, my lord, he would have arrested me and so I went and entered my action in his wife’s proper house.”

“Arrested” also meant “stopped.”

“Entered my action in his wife’s proper house” meant 1) “stated my law case in his wife’s house,” and 2) “entered my penis and its action in his wife’s body.”

Jack Cade said, “Dick, follow your suit in her common place.”

This meant 1) “Dick, pursue your law case in her common meetinghouse,” and 2) “Dick, pursue your sexual desire in her vagina, which is open to all.”

John Cade then said to the Sergeant, “You whoreson villain, you are a Sergeant — you’ll take any man by the throat for twelve pence, and arrest a man when he’s at dinner, and have him in prison before the food is out of his mouth.”

He then said to Dick the Butcher, “Go, Dick, take him away from here. Cut out his tongue for deception, cripple him for running, and, to conclude, brain him with his own mace.”

Dick the Butcher took the Sergeant away.

A rebel asked Jack Cade, “My lord, when shall we go to Cheapside and take up commodities upon our bills?”

“Take up commodities upon our bills” meant 1) “Buy goods [commodities] on credit [bills],” 2) “Take women’s sexual organs [commodities] upon our penises [bills],” aka rape women, and 3) “Steal [Take] goods [commodities] by using our bills [long-handled weapons with blades].”

Jack Cade said, “By the Virgin Mary, right away. He who will lustily stand to it shall go with me and take up these commodities following — item, a gown, a kirtle [outer petticoat], a petticoat, and a smock [ladies’ undergarment].”

“Stand to it” meant “get an erection.”

The rebels shouted, “Oh, splendid!”

Two rebels arrived, carrying Lord Say’s head and Sir James Cromer’s head on two poles.

Jack Cade said, “But isn’t this more splendid? Let them kiss one another, for they loved each other well when they were alive.”

The two rebels holding the poles brought the heads together as if the heads were kissing.

Jack Cade continued, “Now part them again, lest they consult about the giving up of some more towns in France.

“Soldiers, defer the despoiling and plundering of the city until night, for with these heads borne before us, instead of maces — staffs of office — we will ride through the streets, and at every corner we will have them kiss. Away! Let’s go!”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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