Henry VI, part 2, by William Shakespeare

Act II

Scene I. Saint Alban’s.

Enter King Henry VI, Queen Margaret, Gloucester, 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.

Aside to Gloucester

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.

Gloucester

Nor his?

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.

Enter Buckingham

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.

Enter York, Salisbury, and Warwick

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.

Exeunt

Scene III. A hall of justice.

Sound trumpets. Enter King Henry VI, Queen Margaret, Gloucester, York, Suffolk, and Salisbury; the Duchess, Margaret Jourdain, Southwell, Hume, 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!

Exit

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.

Dies

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.

Exeunt

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:30