II King Henry VI

Act II

Scene I Saint Alban's.

CARDINAL, and SUFFOLK, with Falconers halloing]
QUEEN MARGARET Believe me, lords, for flying at the brook,
I saw not better sport these seven years' day:
Yet, by your leave, the wind was very high;
And, ten to one, old Joan had not gone out.
KING HENRY VI But what a point, my lord, your falcon made,
And what a pitch she flew above the rest!
To see how God in all his creatures works!
Yea, man and birds are fain of climbing high.
SUFFOLK No marvel, an it like your majesty,
My lord protector's hawks do tower so well;
They know their master loves to be aloft,
And bears his thoughts above his falcon's pitch.
GLOUCESTER My lord, 'tis but a base ignoble mind
That mounts no higher than a bird can soar.
CARDINAL I thought as much; he would be above the clouds.
GLOUCESTER Ay, my lord cardinal? how think you by that?
Were it not good your grace could fly to heaven?
KING HENRY VI The treasury of everlasting joy.
CARDINAL Thy heaven is on earth; thine eyes and thoughts
Beat on a crown, the treasure of thy heart;
Pernicious protector, dangerous peer,
That smooth'st it so with king and commonweal!
GLOUCESTER What, cardinal, is your priesthood grown peremptory?
Tantaene animis coelestibus irae?
Churchmen so hot? good uncle, hide such malice;
With such holiness can you do it?
SUFFOLK No malice, sir; no more than well becomes
So good a quarrel and so bad a peer.
GLOUCESTER As who, my lord?
SUFFOLK Why, as you, my lord,
An't like your lordly lord-protectorship.
GLOUCESTER Why, Suffolk, England knows thine insolence.
QUEEN MARGARET And thy ambition, Gloucester.
KING HENRY VI I prithee, peace, good queen,
And whet not on these furious peers;
For blessed are the peacemakers on earth.
CARDINAL Let me be blessed for the peace I make,
Against this proud protector, with my sword!
GLOUCESTER [Aside to CARDINAL] Faith, holy uncle, would
'twere come to that!
CARDINAL [Aside to GLOUCESTER] Marry, when thou darest.
GLOUCESTER [Aside to CARDINAL] Make up no factious
numbers for the matter;
In thine own person answer thy abuse.
CARDINAL [Aside to GLOUCESTER] Ay, where thou darest
not peep: an if thou darest,
This evening, on the east side of the grove.
KING HENRY VI How now, my lords!
CARDINAL Believe me, cousin Gloucester,
Had not your man put up the fowl so suddenly,
We had had more sport.
Come with thy two-hand sword.
GLOUCESTER True, uncle.
CARDINAL [Aside to GLOUCESTER] Are ye advised? the
east side of the grove?
GLOUCESTER [Aside to CARDINAL] Cardinal, I am with you.
KING HENRY VI Why, how now, uncle Gloucester!
GLOUCESTER Talking of hawking; nothing else, my lord.
[Aside to CARDINAL]
Now, by God's mother, priest, I'll shave your crown for this,
Or all my fence shall fail.
CARDINAL [Aside to GLOUCESTER] Medice, teipsum--
Protector, see to't well, protect yourself.
KING HENRY VI The winds grow high; so do your stomachs, lords.
How irksome is this music to my heart!
When such strings jar, what hope of harmony?
I pray, my lords, let me compound this strife.
[Enter a Townsman of Saint Alban's, crying 'A miracle!']
GLOUCESTER What means this noise?
Fellow, what miracle dost thou proclaim?
Townsman A miracle! a miracle!
SUFFOLK Come to the king and tell him what miracle.
Townsman Forsooth, a blind man at Saint Alban's shrine,
Within this half-hour, hath received his sight;
A man that ne'er saw in his life before.
KING HENRY VI Now, God be praised, that to believing souls
Gives light in darkness, comfort in despair!
[Enter the Mayor of Saint Alban's and his
brethren, bearing SIMPCOX, between two in a
chair, SIMPCOX's Wife following]
CARDINAL Here comes the townsmen on procession,
To present your highness with the man.
KING HENRY VI Great is his comfort in this earthly vale,
Although by his sight his sin be multiplied.
GLOUCESTER Stand by, my masters: bring him near the king;
His highness' pleasure is to talk with him.
KING HENRY VI Good fellow, tell us here the circumstance,
That we for thee may glorify the Lord.
What, hast thou been long blind and now restored?
SIMPCOX Born blind, an't please your grace.
Wife Ay, indeed, was he.
SUFFOLK What woman is this?
Wife His wife, an't like your worship.
GLOUCESTER Hadst thou been his mother, thou couldst have
better told.
KING HENRY VI Where wert thou born?
SIMPCOX At Berwick in the north, an't like your grace.
KING HENRY VI Poor soul, God's goodness hath been great to thee:
Let never day nor night unhallow'd pass,
But still remember what the Lord hath done.
QUEEN MARGARET Tell me, good fellow, camest thou here by chance,
Or of devotion, to this holy shrine?
SIMPCOX God knows, of pure devotion; being call'd
A hundred times and oftener, in my sleep,
By good Saint Alban; who said, 'Simpcox, come,
Come, offer at my shrine, and I will help thee.'
Wife Most true, forsooth; and many time and oft
Myself have heard a voice to call him so.
CARDINAL What, art thou lame?
SIMPCOX Ay, God Almighty help me!
SUFFOLK How camest thou so?
SIMPCOX A fall off of a tree.
Wife A plum-tree, master.
GLOUCESTER How long hast thou been blind?
SIMPCOX Born so, master.
GLOUCESTER What, and wouldst climb a tree?
SIMPCOX But that in all my life, when I was a youth.
Wife Too true; and bought his climbing very dear.
GLOUCESTER Mass, thou lovedst plums well, that wouldst
venture so.
SIMPCOX Alas, good master, my wife desired some damsons,
And made me climb, with danger of my life.
GLOUCESTER A subtle knave! but yet it shall not serve.
Let me see thine eyes: wink now: now open them:
In my opinion yet thou seest not well.
SIMPCOX Yes, master, clear as day, I thank God and
Saint Alban.
GLOUCESTER Say'st thou me so? What colour is this cloak of?
SIMPCOX Red, master; red as blood.
GLOUCESTER Why, that's well said. What colour is my gown of?
SIMPCOX Black, forsooth: coal-black as jet.
KING HENRY VI Why, then, thou know'st what colour jet is of?
SUFFOLK And yet, I think, jet did he never see.
GLOUCESTER But cloaks and gowns, before this day, a many.
Wife Never, before this day, in all his life.
GLOUCESTER Tell me, sirrah, what's my name?
SIMPCOX Alas, master, I know not.
GLOUCESTER What's his name?
SIMPCOX I know not.
SIMPCOX No, indeed, master.
GLOUCESTER What's thine own name?
SIMPCOX Saunder Simpcox, an if it please you, master.
GLOUCESTER Then, Saunder, sit there, the lyingest knave in
Christendom. If thou hadst been born blind, thou
mightest as well have known all our names as thus to
name the several colours we do wear. Sight may
distinguish of colours, but suddenly to nominate them
all, it is impossible. My lords, Saint Alban here
hath done a miracle; and would ye not think his
cunning to be great, that could restore this cripple
to his legs again?
SIMPCOX O master, that you could!
GLOUCESTER My masters of Saint Alban's, have you not beadles in
your town, and things called whips?
Mayor Yes, my lord, if it please your grace.
GLOUCESTER Then send for one presently.
Mayor Sirrah, go fetch the beadle hither straight.
[Exit an Attendant]
GLOUCESTER Now fetch me a stool hither by and by. Now, sirrah,
if you mean to save yourself from whipping, leap me
over this stool and run away.
SIMPCOX Alas, master, I am not able to stand alone:
You go about to torture me in vain.
[Enter a Beadle with whips]
GLOUCESTER Well, sir, we must have you find your legs. Sirrah
beadle, whip him till he leap over that same stool.
Beadle I will, my lord. Come on, sirrah; off with your
doublet quickly.
SIMPCOX Alas, master, what shall I do? I am not able to stand.
[After the Beadle hath hit him once, he leaps over
the stool and runs away; and they follow and cry, 'A miracle!']
KING HENRY VI O God, seest Thou this, and bearest so long?
QUEEN MARGARET It made me laugh to see the villain run.
GLOUCESTER Follow the knave; and take this drab away.
Wife Alas, sir, we did it for pure need.
GLOUCESTER Let them be whipped through every market-town, till
they come to Berwick, from whence they came.
[Exeunt Wife, Beadle, Mayor, &c]
CARDINAL Duke Humphrey has done a miracle to-day.
SUFFOLK True; made the lame to leap and fly away.
GLOUCESTER But you have done more miracles than I;
You made in a day, my lord, whole towns to fly.
KING HENRY VI What tidings with our cousin Buckingham?
BUCKINGHAM Such as my heart doth tremble to unfold.
A sort of naughty persons, lewdly bent,
Under the countenance and confederacy
Of Lady Eleanor, the protector's wife,
The ringleader and head of all this rout,
Have practised dangerously against your state,
Dealing with witches and with conjurers:
Whom we have apprehended in the fact;
Raising up wicked spirits from under ground,
Demanding of King Henry's life and death,
And other of your highness' privy-council;
As more at large your grace shall understand.
CARDINAL [Aside to GLOUCESTER] And so, my lord protector,
by this means
Your lady is forthcoming yet at London.
This news, I think, hath turn'd your weapon's edge;
'Tis like, my lord, you will not keep your hour.
GLOUCESTER Ambitious churchman, leave to afflict my heart:
Sorrow and grief have vanquish'd all my powers;
And, vanquish'd as I am, I yield to thee,
Or to the meanest groom.
KING HENRY VI O God, what mischiefs work the wicked ones,
Heaping confusion on their own heads thereby!
QUEEN MARGARET Gloucester, see here the tainture of thy nest.
And look thyself be faultless, thou wert best.
GLOUCESTER Madam, for myself, to heaven I do appeal,
How I have loved my king and commonweal:
And, for my wife, I know not how it stands;
Sorry I am to hear what I have heard:
Noble she is, but if she have forgot
Honour and virtue and conversed with such
As, like to pitch, defile nobility,
I banish her my bed and company
And give her as a prey to law and shame,
That hath dishonour'd Gloucester's honest name.
KING HENRY VI Well, for this night we will repose us here:
To-morrow toward London back again,
To look into this business thoroughly
And call these foul offenders to their answers
And poise the cause in justice' equal scales,
Whose beam stands sure, whose rightful cause prevails.
[Flourish. Exeunt]

Scene II London. YORK'S garden.

YORK Now, my good Lords of Salisbury and Warwick,
Our simple supper ended, give me leave
In this close walk to satisfy myself,
In craving your opinion of my title,
Which is infallible, to England's crown.
SALISBURY My lord, I long to hear it at full.
WARWICK Sweet York, begin: and if thy claim be good,
The Nevils are thy subjects to command.
YORK Then thus:
Edward the Third, my lords, had seven sons:
The first, Edward the Black Prince, Prince of Wales;
The second, William of Hatfield, and the third,
Lionel Duke of Clarence: next to whom
Was John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster;
The fifth was Edmund Langley, Duke of York;
The sixth was Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester;
William of Windsor was the seventh and last.
Edward the Black Prince died before his father
And left behind him Richard, his only son,
Who after Edward the Third's death reign'd as king;
Till Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster,
The eldest son and heir of John of Gaunt,
Crown'd by the name of Henry the Fourth,
Seized on the realm, deposed the rightful king,
Sent his poor queen to France, from whence she came,
And him to Pomfret; where, as all you know,
Harmless Richard was murder'd traitorously.
WARWICK Father, the duke hath told the truth:
Thus got the house of Lancaster the crown.
YORK Which now they hold by force and not by right;
For Richard, the first son's heir, being dead,
The issue of the next son should have reign'd.
SALISBURY But William of Hatfield died without an heir.
YORK The third son, Duke of Clarence, from whose line
I claimed the crown, had issue, Philippe, a daughter,
Who married Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March:
Edmund had issue, Roger Earl of March;
Roger had issue, Edmund, Anne and Eleanor.
SALISBURY This Edmund, in the reign of Bolingbroke,
As I have read, laid claim unto the crown;
And, but for Owen Glendower, had been king,
Who kept him in captivity till he died.
But to the rest.
YORK His eldest sister, Anne,
My mother, being heir unto the crown
Married Richard Earl of Cambridge; who was son
To Edmund Langley, Edward the Third's fifth son.
By her I claim the kingdom: she was heir
To Roger Earl of March, who was the son
Of Edmund Mortimer, who married Philippe,
Sole daughter unto Lionel Duke of Clarence:
So, if the issue of the elder son
Succeed before the younger, I am king.
WARWICK What plain proceeding is more plain than this?
Henry doth claim the crown from John of Gaunt,
The fourth son; York claims it from the third.
Till Lionel's issue fails, his should not reign:
It fails not yet, but flourishes in thee
And in thy sons, fair slips of such a stock.
Then, father Salisbury, kneel we together;
And in this private plot be we the first
That shall salute our rightful sovereign
With honour of his birthright to the crown.
BOTH Long live our sovereign Richard, England's king!
YORK We thank you, lords. But I am not your king
Till I be crown'd and that my sword be stain'd
With heart-blood of the house of Lancaster;
And that's not suddenly to be perform'd,
But with advice and silent secrecy.
Do you as I do in these dangerous days:
Wink at the Duke of Suffolk's insolence,
At Beaufort's pride, at Somerset's ambition,
At Buckingham and all the crew of them,
Till they have snared the shepherd of the flock,
That virtuous prince, the good Duke Humphrey:
'Tis that they seek, and they in seeking that
Shall find their deaths, if York can prophesy.
SALISBURY My lord, break we off; we know your mind at full.
WARWICK My heart assures me that the Earl of Warwick
Shall one day make the Duke of York a king.
YORK And, Nevil, this I do assure myself:
Richard shall live to make the Earl of Warwick
The greatest man in England but the king.

Scene III A hall of justice.

[Sound trumpets. Enter KING HENRY VI, QUEEN
and BOLINGBROKE, under guard]
KING HENRY VI Stand forth, Dame Eleanor Cobham, Gloucester's wife:
In sight of God and us, your guilt is great:
Receive the sentence of the law for sins
Such as by God's book are adjudged to death.
You four, from hence to prison back again;
From thence unto the place of execution:
The witch in Smithfield shall be burn'd to ashes,
And you three shall be strangled on the gallows.
You, madam, for you are more nobly born,
Despoiled of your honour in your life,
Shall, after three days' open penance done,
Live in your country here in banishment,
With Sir John Stanley, in the Isle of Man.
DUCHESS Welcome is banishment; welcome were my death.
GLOUCESTER Eleanor, the law, thou see'st, hath judged thee:
I cannot justify whom the law condemns.
[Exeunt DUCHESS and other prisoners, guarded]
Mine eyes are full of tears, my heart of grief.
Ah, Humphrey, this dishonour in thine age
Will bring thy head with sorrow to the ground!
I beseech your majesty, give me leave to go;
Sorrow would solace and mine age would ease.
KING HENRY VI Stay, Humphrey Duke of Gloucester: ere thou go,
Give up thy staff: Henry will to himself
Protector be; and God shall be my hope,
My stay, my guide and lantern to my feet:
And go in peace, Humphrey, no less beloved
Than when thou wert protector to thy King.
QUEEN MARGARET I see no reason why a king of years
Should be to be protected like a child.
God and King Henry govern England's realm.
Give up your staff, sir, and the king his realm.
GLOUCESTER My staff? here, noble Henry, is my staff:
As willingly do I the same resign
As e'er thy father Henry made it mine;
And even as willingly at thy feet I leave it
As others would ambitiously receive it.
Farewell, good king: when I am dead and gone,
May honourable peace attend thy throne!
QUEEN MARGARET Why, now is Henry king, and Margaret queen;
And Humphrey Duke of Gloucester scarce himself,
That bears so shrewd a maim; two pulls at once;
His lady banish'd, and a limb lopp'd off.
This staff of honour raught, there let it stand
Where it best fits to be, in Henry's hand.
SUFFOLK Thus droops this lofty pine and hangs his sprays;
Thus Eleanor's pride dies in her youngest days.
YORK Lords, let him go. Please it your majesty,
This is the day appointed for the combat;
And ready are the appellant and defendant,
The armourer and his man, to enter the lists,
So please your highness to behold the fight.
QUEEN MARGARET Ay, good my lord; for purposely therefore
Left I the court, to see this quarrel tried.
KING HENRY VI O God's name, see the lists and all things fit:
Here let them end it; and God defend the right!
YORK I never saw a fellow worse bested,
Or more afraid to fight, than is the appellant,
The servant of this armourer, my lords.
[Enter at one door, HORNER, the Armourer, and his
Neighbours, drinking to him so much that he is drunk;
and he enters with a drum before him and his staff
with a sand-bag fastened to it; and at the other
door PETER, his man, with a drum and sand-bag, and
'Prentices drinking to him]
First Neighbour Here, neighbour Horner, I drink to you in a cup of
sack: and fear not, neighbour, you shall do well enough.
Second Neighbour And here, neighbour, here's a cup of charneco.
Third Neighbour And here's a pot of good double beer, neighbour:
drink, and fear not your man.
HORNER Let it come, i' faith, and I'll pledge you all; and
a fig for Peter!
First 'Prentice Here, Peter, I drink to thee: and be not afraid.
Second 'Prentice Be merry, Peter, and fear not thy master: fight
for credit of the 'prentices.
PETER I thank you all: drink, and pray for me, I pray
you; for I think I have taken my last draught in
this world. Here, Robin, an if I die, I give thee
my apron: and, Will, thou shalt have my hammer:
and here, Tom, take all the money that I have. O
Lord bless me! I pray God! for I am never able to
deal with my master, he hath learnt me so much fence already.
SALISBURY Come, leave your drinking, and fall to blows.
Sirrah, what's thy name?
PETER Peter, forsooth.
SALISBURY Peter! what more?
PETER Thump.
SALISBURY Thump! then see thou thump thy master well.
HORNER Masters, I am come hither, as it were, upon my man's
instigation, to prove him a knave and myself an
honest man: and touching the Duke of York, I will
take my death, I never meant him any ill, nor the
king, nor the queen: and therefore, Peter, have at
thee with a downright blow!
YORK Dispatch: this knave's tongue begins to double.
Sound, trumpets, alarum to the combatants!
[Alarum. They fight, and PETER strikes him down]
HORNER Hold, Peter, hold! I confess, I confess treason.
YORK Take away his weapon. Fellow, thank God, and the
good wine in thy master's way.
PETER O God, have I overcome mine enemy in this presence?
O Peter, thou hast prevailed in right!
KING HENRY VI Go, take hence that traitor from our sight;
For his death we do perceive his guilt:
And God in justice hath revealed to us
The truth and innocence of this poor fellow,
Which he had thought to have murder'd wrongfully.
Come, fellow, follow us for thy reward.
[Sound a flourish. Exeunt]

Scene IV A street.

[Enter GLOUCESTER and his Servingmen, in
mourning cloaks]
GLOUCESTER Thus sometimes hath the brightest day a cloud;
And after summer evermore succeeds
Barren winter, with his wrathful nipping cold:
So cares and joys abound, as seasons fleet.
Sirs, what's o'clock?
Servants Ten, my lord.
GLOUCESTER Ten is the hour that was appointed me
To watch the coming of my punish'd duchess:
Uneath may she endure the flinty streets,
To tread them with her tender-feeling feet.
Sweet Nell, ill can thy noble mind abrook
The abject people gazing on thy face,
With envious looks, laughing at thy shame,
That erst did follow thy proud chariot-wheels
When thou didst ride in triumph through the streets.
But, soft! I think she comes; and I'll prepare
My tear-stain'd eyes to see her miseries.
[Enter the DUCHESS in a white sheet, and a taper
burning in her hand; with STANLEY, the Sheriff,
and Officers]
Servant So please your grace, we'll take her from the sheriff.
GLOUCESTER No, stir not, for your lives; let her pass by.
DUCHESS Come you, my lord, to see my open shame?
Now thou dost penance too. Look how they gaze!
See how the giddy multitude do point,
And nod their heads, and throw their eyes on thee!
Ah, Gloucester, hide thee from their hateful looks,
And, in thy closet pent up, rue my shame,
And ban thine enemies, both mine and thine!
GLOUCESTER Be patient, gentle Nell; forget this grief.
DUCHESS Ah, Gloucester, teach me to forget myself!
For whilst I think I am thy married wife
And thou a prince, protector of this land,
Methinks I should not thus be led along,
Mail'd up in shame, with papers on my back,
And followed with a rabble that rejoice
To see my tears and hear my deep-fet groans.
The ruthless flint doth cut my tender feet,
And when I start, the envious people laugh
And bid me be advised how I tread.
Ah, Humphrey, can I bear this shameful yoke?
Trow'st thou that e'er I'll look upon the world,
Or count them happy that enjoy the sun?
No; dark shall be my light and night my day;
To think upon my pomp shall be my hell.
Sometime I'll say, I am Duke Humphrey's wife,
And he a prince and ruler of the land:
Yet so he ruled and such a prince he was
As he stood by whilst I, his forlorn duchess,
Was made a wonder and a pointing-stock
To every idle rascal follower.
But be thou mild and blush not at my shame,
Nor stir at nothing till the axe of death
Hang over thee, as, sure, it shortly will;
For Suffolk, he that can do all in all
With her that hateth thee and hates us all,
And York and impious Beaufort, that false priest,
Have all limed bushes to betray thy wings,
And, fly thou how thou canst, they'll tangle thee:
But fear not thou, until thy foot be snared,
Nor never seek prevention of thy foes.
GLOUCESTER Ah, Nell, forbear! thou aimest all awry;
I must offend before I be attainted;
And had I twenty times so many foes,
And each of them had twenty times their power,
All these could not procure me any scathe,
So long as I am loyal, true and crimeless.
Wouldst have me rescue thee from this reproach?
Why, yet thy scandal were not wiped away
But I in danger for the breach of law.
Thy greatest help is quiet, gentle Nell:
I pray thee, sort thy heart to patience;
These few days' wonder will be quickly worn.
[Enter a Herald]
Herald I summon your grace to his majesty's parliament,
Holden at Bury the first of this next month.
GLOUCESTER And my consent ne'er ask'd herein before!
This is close dealing. Well, I will be there.
[Exit Herald]
My Nell, I take my leave: and, master sheriff,
Let not her penance exceed the king's commission.
Sheriff An't please your grace, here my commission stays,
And Sir John Stanley is appointed now
To take her with him to the Isle of Man.
GLOUCESTER Must you, Sir John, protect my lady here?
STANLEY So am I given in charge, may't please your grace.
GLOUCESTER Entreat her not the worse in that I pray
You use her well: the world may laugh again;
And I may live to do you kindness if
You do it her: and so, Sir John, farewell!
DUCHESS What, gone, my lord, and bid me not farewell!
GLOUCESTER Witness my tears, I cannot stay to speak.
[Exeunt GLOUCESTER and Servingmen]
DUCHESS Art thou gone too? all comfort go with thee!
For none abides with me: my joy is death;
Death, at whose name I oft have been afear'd,
Because I wish'd this world's eternity.
Stanley, I prithee, go, and take me hence;
I care not whither, for I beg no favour,
Only convey me where thou art commanded.
STANLEY Why, madam, that is to the Isle of Man;
There to be used according to your state.
DUCHESS That's bad enough, for I am but reproach:
And shall I then be used reproachfully?
STANLEY Like to a duchess, and Duke Humphrey's lady;
According to that state you shall be used.
DUCHESS Sheriff, farewell, and better than I fare,
Although thou hast been conduct of my shame.
Sheriff It is my office; and, madam, pardon me.
DUCHESS Ay, ay, farewell; thy office is discharged.
Come, Stanley, shall we go?
STANLEY Madam, your penance done, throw off this sheet,
And go we to attire you for our journey.
DUCHESS My shame will not be shifted with my sheet:
No, it will hang upon my richest robes
And show itself, attire me how I can.
Go, lead the way; I long to see my prison.

Next Act

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