Henry VI, part 1, by William Shakespeare

Act II

Scene I. Before Orleans.

Enter a Sergeant of a band with two Sentinels

Sergeant Sirs, take your places and be vigilant:
If any noise or soldier you perceive
Near to the walls, by some apparent sign
Let us have knowledge at the court of guard.

First Sentinel Sergeant, you shall.

Exit Sergeant

Thus are poor servitors,
When others sleep upon their quiet beds,
Constrain’d to watch in darkness, rain and cold.

Enter Talbot, Bedford, Burgundy, and Forces, with scaling-ladders, their drums beating a dead march

Talbot Lord Regent, and redoubted Burgundy,
By whose approach the regions of Artois,
Wallon and Picardy are friends to us,
This happy night the Frenchmen are secure,
Having all day caroused and banqueted:
Embrace we then this opportunity
As fitting best to quittance their deceit
Contrived by art and baleful sorcery.

Bedford Coward of France! how much he wrongs his fame,
Despairing of his own arm’s fortitude,
To join with witches and the help of hell!

Burgundy Traitors have never other company.
But what’s that Pucelle whom they term so pure?

Talbot A maid, they say.

Bedford   A maid! and be so martial!

Burgundy Pray God she prove not masculine ere long,
If underneath the standard of the French
She carry armour as she hath begun.

Talbot Well, let them practise and converse with spirits:
God is our fortress, in whose conquering name
Let us resolve to scale their flinty bulwarks.

Bedford Ascend, brave Talbot; we will follow thee.

Talbot Not all together: better far, I guess,
That we do make our entrance several ways;
That, if it chance the one of us do fail,
The other yet may rise against their force.

Bedford Agreed: I’ll to yond corner.

Burgundy And I to this.

Talbot And here will Talbot mount, or make his grave.
Now, Salisbury, for thee, and for the right
Of English Henry, shall this night appear
How much in duty I am bound to both.

Sentinels Arm! arm! the enemy doth make assault!

Cry: ‘St. George,’ ‘A Talbot.’

The French leap over the walls in their shirts. Enter, several ways, the Bastard Of Orleans, Alencon, and Reignier, half ready, and half unready

Alencon How now, my lords! what, all unready so?

Bastard Of Orleans Unready! ay, and glad we ’scaped so well.

Reignier ’Twas time, I trow, to wake and leave our beds,
Hearing alarums at our chamber-doors.

Alencon Of all exploits since first I follow’d arms,
Ne’er heard I of a warlike enterprise
More venturous or desperate than this.

Bastard Of Orleans I think this Talbot be a fiend of hell.

Reignier If not of hell, the heavens, sure, favour him.

Alencon Here cometh Charles: I marvel how he sped.

Bastard Of Orleans Tut, holy Joan was his defensive guard.

Enter Charles and Joan La Pucelle

Charles Is this thy cunning, thou deceitful dame?
Didst thou at first, to flatter us withal,
Make us partakers of a little gain,
That now our loss might be ten times so much?

Joan La Pucelle Wherefore is Charles impatient with his friend!
At all times will you have my power alike?
Sleeping or waking must I still prevail,
Or will you blame and lay the fault on me?
Improvident soldiers! had your watch been good,
This sudden mischief never could have fall’n.

Charles Duke of Alencon, this was your default,
That, being captain of the watch to-night,
Did look no better to that weighty charge.

Alencon Had all your quarters been as safely kept
As that whereof I had the government,
We had not been thus shamefully surprised.

Bastard Of Orleans Mine was secure.

Reignier   And so was mine, my lord.

Charles And, for myself, most part of all this night,
Within her quarter and mine own precinct
I was employ’d in passing to and fro,
About relieving of the sentinels:
Then how or which way should they first break in?

Joan La Pucelle Question, my lords, no further of the case,
How or which way: ’tis sure they found some place
But weakly guarded, where the breach was made.
And now there rests no other shift but this;
To gather our soldiers, scatter’d and dispersed,
And lay new platforms to endamage them.

Alarum. Enter an English Soldier, crying ‘A Talbot! a Talbot!’ They fly, leaving their clothes behind

Soldier I’ll be so bold to take what they have left.
The cry of Talbot serves me for a sword;
For I have loaden me with many spoils,
Using no other weapon but his name.

Exit

Scene II. Orleans. Within the town.

Enter Talbot, Bedford, Burgundy, a Captain, and others

Bedford The day begins to break, and night is fled,
Whose pitchy mantle over-veil’d the earth.
Here sound retreat, and cease our hot pursuit.

Retreat sounded

Talbot Bring forth the body of old Salisbury,
And here advance it in the market-place,
The middle centre of this cursed town.
Now have I paid my vow unto his soul;
For every drop of blood was drawn from him,
There hath at least five Frenchmen died tonight.
And that hereafter ages may behold
What ruin happen’d in revenge of him,
Within their chiefest temple I’ll erect
A tomb, wherein his corpse shall be interr’d:
Upon the which, that every one may read,
Shall be engraved the sack of Orleans,
The treacherous manner of his mournful death
And what a terror he had been to France.
But, lords, in all our bloody massacre,
I muse we met not with the Dauphin’s grace,
His new-come champion, virtuous Joan of Arc,
Nor any of his false confederates.

Bedford ’Tis thought, Lord Talbot, when the fight began,
Roused on the sudden from their drowsy beds,
They did amongst the troops of armed men
Leap o’er the walls for refuge in the field.

Burgundy Myself, as far as I could well discern
For smoke and dusky vapours of the night,
Am sure I scared the Dauphin and his trull,
When arm in arm they both came swiftly running,
Like to a pair of loving turtle-doves
That could not live asunder day or night.
After that things are set in order here,
We’ll follow them with all the power we have.

Enter a Messenger

Messenger All hail, my lords! which of this princely train
Call ye the warlike Talbot, for his acts
So much applauded through the realm of France?

Talbot Here is the Talbot: who would speak with him?

Messenger The virtuous lady, Countess of Auvergne,
With modesty admiring thy renown,
By me entreats, great lord, thou wouldst vouchsafe
To visit her poor castle where she lies,
That she may boast she hath beheld the man
Whose glory fills the world with loud report.

Burgundy Is it even so? Nay, then, I see our wars
Will turn unto a peaceful comic sport,
When ladies crave to be encounter’d with.
You may not, my lord, despise her gentle suit.

Talbot Ne’er trust me then; for when a world of men
Could not prevail with all their oratory,
Yet hath a woman’s kindness over-ruled:
And therefore tell her I return great thanks,
And in submission will attend on her.
Will not your honours bear me company?

Bedford No, truly; it is more than manners will:
And I have heard it said, unbidden guests
Are often welcomest when they are gone.

Talbot Well then, alone, since there’s no remedy,
I mean to prove this lady’s courtesy.
Come hither, captain.

Whispers

You perceive my mind?

Captain I do, my lord, and mean accordingly.

Exeunt

Scene III. Auvergne. The Countess’s castle.

Enter the Countess and her Porter

Countess of Auvergne Porter, remember what I gave in charge;
And when you have done so, bring the keys to me.

Porter Madam, I will.

Exit

Countess of Auvergne The plot is laid: if all things fall out right,
I shall as famous be by this exploit
As Scythian Tomyris by Cyrus’ death.
Great is the rumor of this dreadful knight,
And his achievements of no less account:
Fain would mine eyes be witness with mine ears,
To give their censure of these rare reports.

Enter Messenger and Talbot

Messenger Madam,
According as your ladyship desired,
By message craved, so is Lord Talbot come.

Countess of Auvergne And he is welcome. What! is this the man?

Messenger Madam, it is.

Countess of Auvergne   Is this the scourge of France?
Is this the Talbot, so much fear’d abroad
That with his name the mothers still their babes?
I see report is fabulous and false:
I thought I should have seen some Hercules,
A second Hector, for his grim aspect,
And large proportion of his strong-knit limbs.
Alas, this is a child, a silly dwarf!
It cannot be this weak and writhled shrimp
Should strike such terror to his enemies.

Talbot Madam, I have been bold to trouble you;
But since your ladyship is not at leisure,
I’ll sort some other time to visit you.

Countess of Auvergne What means he now? Go ask him whither he goes.

Messenger Stay, my Lord Talbot; for my lady craves
To know the cause of your abrupt departure.

Talbot Marry, for that she’s in a wrong belief,
I go to certify her Talbot’s here.

Re-enter Porter with keys

Countess of Auvergne If thou be he, then art thou prisoner.

Talbot Prisoner! to whom?

Countess of Auvergne To me, blood-thirsty lord;
And for that cause I trained thee to my house.
Long time thy shadow hath been thrall to me,
For in my gallery thy picture hangs:
But now the substance shall endure the like,
And I will chain these legs and arms of thine,
That hast by tyranny these many years
Wasted our country, slain our citizens
And sent our sons and husbands captivate.

Talbot Ha, ha, ha!

Countess of Auvergne Laughest thou, wretch? thy mirth shall turn to moan.

Talbot I laugh to see your ladyship so fond
To think that you have aught but Talbot’s shadow
Whereon to practise your severity.

Countess of Auvergne Why, art not thou the man?

Talbot I am indeed.

Countess of Auvergne Then have I substance too.

Talbot No, no, I am but shadow of myself:
You are deceived, my substance is not here;
For what you see is but the smallest part
And least proportion of humanity:
I tell you, madam, were the whole frame here,
It is of such a spacious lofty pitch,
Your roof were not sufficient to contain’t.

Countess of Auvergne This is a riddling merchant for the nonce;
He will be here, and yet he is not here:
How can these contrarieties agree?

Talbot That will I show you presently.

Winds his horn. Drums strike up: a peal of ordnance. Enter soldiers

How say you, madam? are you now persuaded
That Talbot is but shadow of himself?
These are his substance, sinews, arms and strength,
With which he yoketh your rebellious necks,
Razeth your cities and subverts your towns
And in a moment makes them desolate.

Countess of Auvergne Victorious Talbot! pardon my abuse:
I find thou art no less than fame hath bruited
And more than may be gather’d by thy shape.
Let my presumption not provoke thy wrath;
For I am sorry that with reverence
I did not entertain thee as thou art.

Talbot Be not dismay’d, fair lady; nor misconstrue
The mind of Talbot, as you did mistake
The outward composition of his body.
What you have done hath not offended me;
Nor other satisfaction do I crave,
But only, with your patience, that we may
Taste of your wine and see what cates you have;
For soldiers’ stomachs always serve them well.

Countess of Auvergne With all my heart, and think me honoured
To feast so great a warrior in my house.

Exeunt

Scene IV. London. The Temple-garden.

Enter the Earls of Somerset, Suffolk, and Warwick; Richard Plantagenet, Vernon, and another Lawyer

Richard

Plantagenet Great lords and gentlemen, what means this silence?
Dare no man answer in a case of truth?

Suffolk Within the Temple-hall we were too loud;
The garden here is more convenient.
Richard

Plantagenet Then say at once if I maintain’d the truth;
Or else was wrangling Somerset in the error?

Suffolk Faith, I have been a truant in the law,
And never yet could frame my will to it;
And therefore frame the law unto my will.

Somerset Judge you, my Lord of Warwick, then, between us.

Warwick Between two hawks, which flies the higher pitch;
Between two dogs, which hath the deeper mouth;
Between two blades, which bears the better temper:
Between two horses, which doth bear him best;
Between two girls, which hath the merriest eye;
I have perhaps some shallow spirit of judgement;
But in these nice sharp quillets of the law,
Good faith, I am no wiser than a daw.
Richard

Plantagenet Tut, tut, here is a mannerly forbearance:
The truth appears so naked on my side
That any purblind eye may find it out.

Somerset And on my side it is so well apparell’d,
So clear, so shining and so evident
That it will glimmer through a blind man’s eye.
Richard

Plantagenet Since you are tongue-tied and so loath to speak,
In dumb significants proclaim your thoughts:
Let him that is a true-born gentleman
And stands upon the honour of his birth,
If he suppose that I have pleaded truth,
From off this brier pluck a white rose with me.

Somerset Let him that is no coward nor no flatterer,
But dare maintain the party of the truth,
Pluck a red rose from off this thorn with me.

Warwick I love no colours, and without all colour
Of base insinuating flattery
I pluck this white rose with Plantagenet.

Suffolk I pluck this red rose with young Somerset
And say withal I think he held the right.

Vernon Stay, lords and gentlemen, and pluck no more,
Till you conclude that he upon whose side
The fewest roses are cropp’d from the tree
Shall yield the other in the right opinion.

Somerset Good Master Vernon, it is well objected:
If I have fewest, I subscribe in silence.
Richard

Plantagenet And I.

Vernon Then for the truth and plainness of the case.
I pluck this pale and maiden blossom here,
Giving my verdict on the white rose side.

Somerset Prick not your finger as you pluck it off,
Lest bleeding you do paint the white rose red
And fall on my side so, against your will.

Vernon If I my lord, for my opinion bleed,
Opinion shall be surgeon to my hurt
And keep me on the side where still I am.

Somerset Well, well, come on: who else?

Lawyer Unless my study and my books be false,
The argument you held was wrong in you:

To Somerset

In sign whereof I pluck a white rose too.
Richard

Plantagenet Now, Somerset, where is your argument?

Somerset Here in my scabbard, meditating that
Shall dye your white rose in a bloody red.
Richard

Plantagenet Meantime your cheeks do counterfeit our roses;
For pale they look with fear, as witnessing
The truth on our side.

Somerset No, Plantagenet,
’Tis not for fear but anger that thy cheeks
Blush for pure shame to counterfeit our roses,
And yet thy tongue will not confess thy error.
Richard

Plantagenet Hath not thy rose a canker, Somerset?

Somerset Hath not thy rose a thorn, Plantagenet?
Richard

Plantagenet Ay, sharp and piercing, to maintain his truth;
Whiles thy consuming canker eats his falsehood.

Somerset Well, I’ll find friends to wear my bleeding roses,
That shall maintain what I have said is true,
Where false Plantagenet dare not be seen.
Richard

Plantagenet Now, by this maiden blossom in my hand,
I scorn thee and thy fashion, peevish boy.

Suffolk Turn not thy scorns this way, Plantagenet.
Richard

Plantagenet Proud Pole, I will, and scorn both him and thee.

Suffolk I’ll turn my part thereof into thy throat.

Somerset Away, away, good William de la Pole!
We grace the yeoman by conversing with him.

Warwick Now, by God’s will, thou wrong’st him, Somerset;
His grandfather was Lionel Duke of Clarence,
Third son to the third Edward King of England:
Spring crestless yeomen from so deep a root?
Richard

Plantagenet He bears him on the place’s privilege,
Or durst not, for his craven heart, say thus.

Somerset By him that made me, I’ll maintain my words
On any plot of ground in Christendom.
Was not thy father, Richard Earl of Cambridge,
For treason executed in our late king’s days?
And, by his treason, stand’st not thou attainted,
Corrupted, and exempt from ancient gentry?
His trespass yet lives guilty in thy blood;
And, till thou be restored, thou art a yeoman.
Richard

Plantagenet My father was attached, not attainted,
Condemn’d to die for treason, but no traitor;
And that I’ll prove on better men than Somerset,
Were growing time once ripen’d to my will.
For your partaker Pole and you yourself,
I’ll note you in my book of memory,
To scourge you for this apprehension:
Look to it well and say you are well warn’d.

Somerset Ah, thou shalt find us ready for thee still;
And know us by these colours for thy foes,
For these my friends in spite of thee shall wear.
Richard

Plantagenet And, by my soul, this pale and angry rose,
As cognizance of my blood-drinking hate,
Will I for ever and my faction wear,
Until it wither with me to my grave
Or flourish to the height of my degree.

Suffolk Go forward and be choked with thy ambition!
And so farewell until I meet thee next.

Exit

Somerset Have with thee, Pole. Farewell, ambitious Richard.

Exit

Richard

Plantagenet How I am braved and must perforce endure it!

Warwick This blot that they object against your house
Shall be wiped out in the next parliament
Call’d for the truce of Winchester and Gloucester;
And if thou be not then created York,
I will not live to be accounted Warwick.
Meantime, in signal of my love to thee,
Against proud Somerset and William Pole,
Will I upon thy party wear this rose:
And here I prophesy: this brawl to-day,
Grown to this faction in the Temple-garden,
Shall send between the red rose and the white
A thousand souls to death and deadly night.
Richard

Plantagenet Good Master Vernon, I am bound to you,
That you on my behalf would pluck a flower.

Vernon In your behalf still will I wear the same.

Lawyer And so will I.
Richard

Plantagenet Thanks, gentle sir.
Come, let us four to dinner: I dare say
This quarrel will drink blood another day.

Exeunt

Scene V. The Tower of London.

Enter Mortimer, brought in a chair, and Gaolers

Mortimer Kind keepers of my weak decaying age,
Let dying Mortimer here rest himself.
Even like a man new haled from the rack,
So fare my limbs with long imprisonment.
And these grey locks, the pursuivants of death,
Nestor-like aged in an age of care,
Argue the end of Edmund Mortimer.
These eyes, like lamps whose wasting oil is spent,
Wax dim, as drawing to their exigent;
Weak shoulders, overborne with burthening grief,
And pithless arms, like to a wither’d vine
That droops his sapless branches to the ground;
Yet are these feet, whose strengthless stay is numb,
Unable to support this lump of clay,
Swift-winged with desire to get a grave,
As witting I no other comfort have.
But tell me, keeper, will my nephew come?

First Gaoler Richard Plantagenet, my lord, will come:
We sent unto the Temple, unto his chamber;
And answer was return’d that he will come.

Mortimer Enough: my soul shall then be satisfied.
Poor gentleman! his wrong doth equal mine.
Since Henry Monmouth first began to reign,
Before whose glory I was great in arms,
This loathsome sequestration have I had:
And even since then hath Richard been obscured,
Deprived of honour and inheritance.
But now the arbitrator of despairs,
Just death, kind umpire of men’s miseries,
With sweet enlargement doth dismiss me hence:
I would his troubles likewise were expired,
That so he might recover what was lost.

Enter Richard Plantagenet

First Gaoler My lord, your loving nephew now is come.

Mortimer Richard Plantagenet, my friend, is he come?
Richard

Plantagenet Ay, noble uncle, thus ignobly used,
Your nephew, late despised Richard, comes.

Mortimer Direct mine arms I may embrace his neck,
And in his bosom spend my latter gasp:
O, tell me when my lips do touch his cheeks,
That I may kindly give one fainting kiss.
And now declare, sweet stem from York’s great stock,
Why didst thou say, of late thou wert despised?
Richard

Plantagenet First, lean thine aged back against mine arm;
And, in that ease, I’ll tell thee my disease.
This day, in argument upon a case,
Some words there grew ’twixt Somerset and me;
Among which terms he used his lavish tongue
And did upbraid me with my father’s death:
Which obloquy set bars before my tongue,
Else with the like I had requited him.
Therefore, good uncle, for my father’s sake,
In honour of a true Plantagenet
And for alliance sake, declare the cause
My father, Earl of Cambridge, lost his head.

Mortimer That cause, fair nephew, that imprison’d me
And hath detain’d me all my flowering youth
Within a loathsome dungeon, there to pine,
Was cursed instrument of his decease.
Richard

Plantagenet Discover more at large what cause that was,
For I am ignorant and cannot guess.

Mortimer I will, if that my fading breath permit
And death approach not ere my tale be done.
Henry the Fourth, grandfather to this king,
Deposed his nephew Richard, Edward’s son,
The first-begotten and the lawful heir,
Of Edward king, the third of that descent:
During whose reign the Percies of the north,
Finding his usurpation most unjust,
Endeavor’d my advancement to the throne:
The reason moved these warlike lords to this
Was, for that — young King Richard thus removed,
Leaving no heir begotten of his body —
I was the next by birth and parentage;
For by my mother I derived am
From Lionel Duke of Clarence, the third son
To King Edward the Third; whereas he
From John of Gaunt doth bring his pedigree,
Being but fourth of that heroic line.
But mark: as in this haughty attempt
They laboured to plant the rightful heir,
I lost my liberty and they their lives.
Long after this, when Henry the Fifth,
Succeeding his father Bolingbroke, did reign,
Thy father, Earl of Cambridge, then derived
From famous Edmund Langley, Duke of York,
Marrying my sister that thy mother was,
Again in pity of my hard distress
Levied an army, weening to redeem
And have install’d me in the diadem:
But, as the rest, so fell that noble earl
And was beheaded. Thus the Mortimers,
In whom the tide rested, were suppress’d.
Richard

Plantagenet Of which, my lord, your honour is the last.

Mortimer True; and thou seest that I no issue have
And that my fainting words do warrant death;
Thou art my heir; the rest I wish thee gather:
But yet be wary in thy studious care.
Richard

Plantagenet Thy grave admonishments prevail with me:
But yet, methinks, my father’s execution
Was nothing less than bloody tyranny.

Mortimer With silence, nephew, be thou politic:
Strong-fixed is the house of Lancaster,
And like a mountain, not to be removed.
But now thy uncle is removing hence:
As princes do their courts, when they are cloy’d
With long continuance in a settled place.
Richard

Plantagenet O, uncle, would some part of my young years
Might but redeem the passage of your age!

Mortimer Thou dost then wrong me, as that slaughterer doth
Which giveth many wounds when one will kill.
Mourn not, except thou sorrow for my good;
Only give order for my funeral:
And so farewell, and fair be all thy hopes
And prosperous be thy life in peace and war!

Dies

Richard

Plantagenet And peace, no war, befall thy parting soul!
In prison hast thou spent a pilgrimage
And like a hermit overpass’d thy days.
Well, I will lock his counsel in my breast;
And what I do imagine let that rest.
Keepers, convey him hence, and I myself
Will see his burial better than his life.

Exeunt Gaolers, bearing out the body of Mortimer

Here dies the dusky torch of Mortimer,
Choked with ambition of the meaner sort:
And for those wrongs, those bitter injuries,
Which Somerset hath offer’d to my house:
I doubt not but with honour to redress;
And therefore haste I to the parliament,
Either to be restored to my blood,
Or make my ill the advantage of my good.

Exit

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Last updated Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 23:08