My duty to you both, on equal love,
25Great kings of France and England. That I have labored
With all my wits, my pains, and strong endeavors,
To bring your most imperial Majesties
Unto this bar and royal interview,
Your mightiness on both parts best can witness.
30Since, then, my office hath so far prevailed
That face to face and royal eye to eye
You have congreeted. Let it not disgrace me
If I demand before this royal view
What rub or what impediment there is
35Why that the naked, poor, and mangled peace,
Dear nurse of arts, plenties, and joyful births,
Should not in this best garden of the world,
Our fertile France, put up her lovely visage?
Alas, she hath from France too long been chased,
40And all her husbandry doth lie on heaps,
Corrupting in its own fertility.
Her vine, the merry cheerer of the heart,
Unprunèd, dies. Her hedges, even-pleached,
Like prisoners wildly overgrown with hair,
45Put forth disordered twigs. Her fallow leas
The darnel, hemlock, and rank fumitory
Doth root upon, while that the coulter rusts
That should deracinate such savagery.
The even mead, that erst brought sweetly forth
50The freckled cowslip, burnet, and green clover,
Wanting the scythe, withal uncorrected, rank,
Conceives by idleness, and nothing teems
But hateful docks, rough thistles, kecksies, burrs,
Losing both beauty and utility.
55And as our vineyards, fallows, meads, and hedges,
Defective in their natures, grow to wildness,
Even so our houses and ourselves and children
Have lost, or do not learn for want of time,
The sciences that should become our country,
60But grow like savages, as soldiers will
Great kings of France and England, I owe you both equal service and loyalty. Your Highnesses can both attest to the fact that I’ve strived mightily, with all my wits and energy, to bring about this royal meeting between you two imperial Majesties. Since I have succeeded to the point of bringing you face to face and eye to eye, don’t take it ill if I formally demand to know, before this royal congregation, what obstacle or impediment prevents the poor fragile, mangled peace, the mother of arts and joyous births, from showing her lovely face in this most fertile garden of the world, our fair France? Alas, she has been too long exiled from France, whose crops all lie in heaps, rotting with ripeness. Her grapes, which make the wine that cheers our hearts, die unpruned on the vines. Her once-trimmed hedges, like prisoners with wild, untended hair, put forth unruly twigs. Her fallow fields are overgrown with weeds, while the blade that should uproot such wilderness lies rusting. The level meadow, where the freckled cowslip, burnet, and green clover once grew, has become useless: unmowed, it grows to seed, so that nothing springs up but weeds, rough thistles, barren plants, and burs.
And just as our vineyards, fallow fields, meadows, and hedges, which grow improperly if left to themselves, run riot, so our families and ourselves and our