My lord, this argues conscience in your Grace,
But the respects thereof are nice and trivial,
175All circumstances well considerèd.
You say that Edward is your brother’s son;
So say we too, but not by Edward’s wife.
For first was he contract to Lady Lucy—
Your mother lives a witness to that vow—
180And afterward by substitute betrothed
To Bona, sister to the king of France.
These both put off, a poor petitioner,
A care-crazed mother to a many sons,
A beauty-waning and distressèd widow,
185Even in the afternoon of her best days,
Made prize and purchase of his wanton eye,
Seduced the pitch and height of his degree
To base declension and loathed bigamy.
By her in his unlawful bed he got
190This Edward, whom our manners term “the Prince.”
More bitterly could I expostulate,
Save that, for reverence to some alive,
I give a sparing limit to my tongue.
Then, good my lord, take to your royal self
195This proffered benefit of dignity,
If not to bless us and the land withal,
Yet to draw forth your noble ancestry
From the corruption of abusing times
Unto a lineal, true-derivèd course.
My lord, what you’ve said makes clear you have a conscience, but your objections are trivial, given the circumstances. You say that Prince Edward is your brother’s son. We agree, but not by your brother’s wife. King Edward was going to marry Lady Lucy—your mother can vouch for that—and then he was betrothed to Bona, the King of France’s sister-in-law. But both of these were put off by Elizabeth Grey, a careworn mother of many children who had once been a beauty but was now a stressed-out widow
long past her prime. Nevertheless, under pretence of asking a favor of him, she attracted his lustful eye and seduced him so thoroughly that he completely debased himself, committing adultery with her. It resulted in this Edward, whom we’re polite enough to call “Prince.” Out of respect for the living, I’ll restrain myself from telling you everything. But, my good lord, if you don’t care about this country, at least use your own pure lineage to rescue us from the current corruption of the royal line.