Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
Prince Henrys Placability
By Sir Thomas Elyot (c. 14901546)
From the Governour
THE MOST renowned prince, King Henry the Fifth, late King of England, during the life of his father was noted to be fierce and of wanton courage. It happened that one of his servants whom he well favoured, for felony by him committed, was arraigned at the Kings Bench: whereof he being advertised, and incensed by light persons about him, in furious rage came hastily to the bar, where his servant stood as a prisoner, and commanded him to be ungyved, and set at liberty, whereat all men were abashed, reserved the chief justice, who humbly exhorted the prince to be contented that his servant mought be ordered according to the ancient laws of this realm, or if he would have him saved from the rigour of the laws, that he should obtain, if he mought, of the King, his father, his gracious pardon: whereby no law or justice should be derogate. With which answer the prince nothing appeased, but rather more inflamed, endeavoured himself to take away his servant. The judge considering the perilous example and inconvenience that mought thereby ensue, with a valiant spirit and courage commanded the prince upon his allegiance to leave the prisoner and depart his way. With which commandment the prince, being set all in a fury, all chafed, and in a terrible manner, came up to the place of judgementmen thinking that he would have slain the judge, or have done to him some damage; but the judge sitting still, without moving, declaring the majesty of the Kings place of judgement, and with an assured and bold countenance, had to the prince these words following: Sir, remember yourself: I keep here the place of the King, your sovereign lord and father, to whom ye owe double obedience, wherefore, eftsoons in his name, I charge you desist of your wilfulness, and unlawful enterprise, and from henceforth give good example to those which hereafter shall be your proper subjects. And now for your contempt and disobedience, go you to the prison of the Kings Bench, whereunto I commit you; and remain ye there prisoner until the pleasure of the King, your father, be further known. With which words being abashed, and also wondering at the marvellous gravity of that worshipful justice, the noble prince, laying his weapon apart, doing reverence, departed and went to the Kings Bench as he was commanded. Whereat his servants disdaining, came and shewed to the King all the whole affair. Whereat he a whiles studying, after as a man all ravished with gladness, holding his eyes and hands up toward heaven, abraided, saying with a loud voice: O merciful God, how much am I, above all other men, bound to Your infinite goodness; specially for that Ye have given me a judge, who feareth not to minister justice, and also a son who can suffer semblably and obey justice?
Now here a man may behold three persons worthy excellent memory. First, a judge, who being a subject, feared not to execute justice on the eldest son of his sovereign lord, and by the order of nature his successor. Also a prince and son and heir of the King, in the midst of his fury, more considered his evil example, and the judges constance in justice, than his own estate or wilful appetite. Thirdly, a noble King and wise father, who contrary to the custom of parents, rejoiced to see his son and the heir of his crown, to be for his disobedience by his subject corrected.
Wherefore I conclude that nothing is more honourable, or to be desired in a prince or noble man, than placability. As contrary wise, nothing is so detestable, or to be feared in such one, as wrath and cruel malignity.