Sennet. Enter King Henry VI, Gloucester, and Exeter
King Henry VI Have you perused the letters from the pope,
The emperor and the Earl of Armagnac?
Gloucester I have, my lord: and their intent is this:
They humbly sue unto your excellence
To have a godly peace concluded of
Between the realms of England and of France.
King Henry VI How doth your grace affect their motion?
Gloucester Well, my good lord; and as the only means
To stop effusion of our Christian blood
And ’stablish quietness on every side.
King Henry VI Ay, marry, uncle; for I always thought
It was both impious and unnatural
That such immanity and bloody strife
Should reign among professors of one faith.
Gloucester Beside, my lord, the sooner to effect
And surer bind this knot of amity,
The Earl of Armagnac, near knit to Charles,
A man of great authority in France,
Proffers his only daughter to your grace
In marriage, with a large and sumptuous dowry.
King Henry VI Marriage, uncle! alas, my years are young!
And fitter is my study and my books
Than wanton dalliance with a paramour.
Yet call the ambassador; and, as you please,
So let them have their answers every one:
I shall be well content with any choice
Tends to God’s glory and my country’s weal.
Enter Cardinal Of Winchester in Cardinal’s habit, a Legate and two Ambassadors
Exeter What! is my Lord of Winchester install’d,
And call’d unto a cardinal’s degree?
Then I perceive that will be verified
Henry the Fifth did sometime prophesy,
‘If once he come to be a cardinal,
He’ll make his cap co-equal with the crown.’
King Henry VI My lords ambassadors, your several suits
Have been consider’d and debated on.
And therefore are we certainly resolved
To draw conditions of a friendly peace;
Which by my Lord of Winchester we mean
Shall be transported presently to France.
Gloucester And for the proffer of my lord your master,
I have inform’d his highness so at large
As liking of the lady’s virtuous gifts,
Her beauty and the value of her dower,
He doth intend she shall be England’s queen.
King Henry VI In argument and proof of which contract,
Bear her this jewel, pledge of my affection.
And so, my lord protector, see them guarded
And safely brought to Dover; where inshipp’d
Commit them to the fortune of the sea.
Exeunt all but Cardinal Of Winchester and Legate
Bishop of Winchester Stay, my lord legate: you shall first receive
The sum of money which I promised
Should be deliver’d to his holiness
For clothing me in these grave ornaments.
Legate I will attend upon your lordship’s leisure.
Bishop of Winchester [Aside] Now Winchester will not submit, I trow,
Or be inferior to the proudest peer.
Humphrey of Gloucester, thou shalt well perceive
That, neither in birth or for authority,
The bishop will be overborne by thee:
I’ll either make thee stoop and bend thy knee,
Or sack this country with a mutiny.
Enter Charles, Burgundy, Alencon, Bastard Of Orleans, Reignier, Joan La Pucelle, and forces
Charles These news, my lord, may cheer our drooping spirits:
’Tis said the stout Parisians do revolt
And turn again unto the warlike French.
Alencon Then march to Paris, royal Charles of France,
And keep not back your powers in dalliance.
Joan La Pucelle Peace be amongst them, if they turn to us;
Else, ruin combat with their palaces!
Scout Success unto our valiant general,
And happiness to his accomplices!
Charles What tidings send our scouts? I prithee, speak.
Scout The English army, that divided was
Into two parties, is now conjoined in one,
And means to give you battle presently.
Charles Somewhat too sudden, sirs, the warning is;
But we will presently provide for them.
Burgundy I trust the ghost of Talbot is not there:
Now he is gone, my lord, you need not fear.
Joan La Pucelle Of all base passions, fear is most accursed.
Command the conquest, Charles, it shall be thine,
Let Henry fret and all the world repine.
Charles Then on, my lords; and France be fortunate!
Alarum. Excursions. Enter Joan La Pucelle
Joan La Pucelle The regent conquers, and the Frenchmen fly.
Now help, ye charming spells and periapts;
And ye choice spirits that admonish me
And give me signs of future accidents.
You speedy helpers, that are substitutes
Under the lordly monarch of the north,
Appear and aid me in this enterprise.
This speedy and quick appearance argues proof
Of your accustom’d diligence to me.
Now, ye familiar spirits, that are cull’d
Out of the powerful regions under earth,
Help me this once, that France may get the field.
They walk, and speak not
O, hold me not with silence over-long!
Where I was wont to feed you with my blood,
I’ll lop a member off and give it you
In earnest of further benefit,
So you do condescend to help me now.
They hang their heads
No hope to have redress? My body shall
Pay recompense, if you will grant my suit.
They shake their heads
Cannot my body nor blood-sacrifice
Entreat you to your wonted furtherance?
Then take my soul, my body, soul and all,
Before that England give the French the foil.
See, they forsake me! Now the time is come
That France must vail her lofty-plumed crest
And let her head fall into England’s lap.
My ancient incantations are too weak,
And hell too strong for me to buckle with:
Now, France, thy glory droopeth to the dust.
Excursions. Re-enter Joan La Pucelle fighting hand to hand with York. Joan La Pucelle is taken. The French fly.
York Damsel of France, I think I have you fast:
Unchain your spirits now with spelling charms
And try if they can gain your liberty.
A goodly prize, fit for the devil’s grace!
See, how the ugly wench doth bend her brows,
As if with Circe she would change my shape!
Joan La Pucelle Changed to a worser shape thou canst not be.
York O, Charles the Dauphin is a proper man;
No shape but his can please your dainty eye.
Joan La Pucelle A plaguing mischief light on Charles and thee!
And may ye both be suddenly surprised
By bloody hands, in sleeping on your beds!
York Fell banning hag, enchantress, hold thy tongue!
Joan La Pucelle I prithee, give me leave to curse awhile.
York Curse, miscreant, when thou comest to the stake.
Alarum. Enter Suffolk with Margaret in his hand
Suffolk Be what thou wilt, thou art my prisoner.
Gazes on her
O fairest beauty, do not fear nor fly!
For I will touch thee but with reverent hands;
I kiss these fingers for eternal peace,
And lay them gently on thy tender side.
Who art thou? say, that I may honour thee.
Margaret Margaret my name, and daughter to a king,
The King of Naples, whosoe’er thou art.
Suffolk An earl I am, and Suffolk am I call’d.
Be not offended, nature’s miracle,
Thou art allotted to be ta’en by me:
So doth the swan her downy cygnets save,
Keeping them prisoner underneath her wings.
Yet, if this servile usage once offend.
Go, and be free again, as Suffolk’s friend.
She is going
O, stay! I have no power to let her pass;
My hand would free her, but my heart says no
As plays the sun upon the glassy streams,
Twinkling another counterfeited beam,
So seems this gorgeous beauty to mine eyes.
Fain would I woo her, yet I dare not speak:
I’ll call for pen and ink, and write my mind.
Fie, de la Pole! disable not thyself;
Hast not a tongue? is she not here?
Wilt thou be daunted at a woman’s sight?
Ay, beauty’s princely majesty is such,
Confounds the tongue and makes the senses rough.
Margaret Say, Earl of Suffolk — if thy name be so —
What ransom must I pay before I pass?
For I perceive I am thy prisoner.
Suffolk How canst thou tell she will deny thy suit,
Before thou make a trial of her love?
Margaret Why speak’st thou not? what ransom must I pay?
Suffolk She’s beautiful, and therefore to be woo’d;
She is a woman, therefore to be won.
Margaret Wilt thou accept of ransom? yea, or no.
Suffolk Fond man, remember that thou hast a wife;
Then how can Margaret be thy paramour?
Margaret I were best to leave him, for he will not hear.
Suffolk There all is marr’d; there lies a cooling card.
Margaret He talks at random; sure, the man is mad.
Suffolk And yet a dispensation may be had.
Margaret And yet I would that you would answer me.
Suffolk I’ll win this Lady Margaret. For whom?
Why, for my king: tush, that’s a wooden thing!
Margaret He talks of wood: it is some carpenter.
Suffolk Yet so my fancy may be satisfied,
And peace established between these realms
But there remains a scruple in that too;
For though her father be the King of Naples,
Duke of Anjou and Maine, yet is he poor,
And our nobility will scorn the match.
Margaret Hear ye, captain, are you not at leisure?
Suffolk It shall be so, disdain they ne’er so much.
Henry is youthful and will quickly yield.
Madam, I have a secret to reveal.
Margaret What though I be enthrall’d? he seems a knight,
And will not any way dishonour me.
Suffolk Lady, vouchsafe to listen what I say.
Margaret Perhaps I shall be rescued by the French;
And then I need not crave his courtesy.
Suffolk Sweet madam, give me a hearing in a cause —
Margaret Tush, women have been captivate ere now.
Suffolk Lady, wherefore talk you so?
Margaret I cry you mercy, ’tis but Quid for Quo.
Suffolk Say, gentle princess, would you not suppose
Your bondage happy, to be made a queen?
Margaret To be a queen in bondage is more vile
Than is a slave in base servility;
For princes should be free.
Suffolk And so shall you,
If happy England’s royal king be free.
Margaret Why, what concerns his freedom unto me?
Suffolk I’ll undertake to make thee Henry’s queen,
To put a golden sceptre in thy hand
And set a precious crown upon thy head,
If thou wilt condescend to be my —
Suffolk His love.
Margaret I am unworthy to be Henry’s wife.
Suffolk No, gentle madam; I unworthy am
To woo so fair a dame to be his wife,
And have no portion in the choice myself.
How say you, madam, are ye so content?
Margaret An if my father please, I am content.
Suffolk Then call our captains and our colours forth.
And, madam, at your father’s castle walls
We’ll crave a parley, to confer with him.
A parley sounded. Enter Reignier on the walls
See, Reignier, see, thy daughter prisoner!
Reignier To whom?
Suffolk To me.
Reignier Suffolk, what remedy?
I am a soldier, and unapt to weep,
Or to exclaim on fortune’s fickleness.
Suffolk Yes, there is remedy enough, my lord:
Consent, and for thy honour give consent,
Thy daughter shall be wedded to my king;
Whom I with pain have woo’d and won thereto;
And this her easy-held imprisonment
Hath gained thy daughter princely liberty.
Reignier Speaks Suffolk as he thinks?
Suffolk Fair Margaret knows
That Suffolk doth not flatter, face, or feign.
Reignier Upon thy princely warrant, I descend
To give thee answer of thy just demand.
Exit from the walls
Suffolk And here I will expect thy coming.
Trumpets sound. Enter Reignier, below
Reignier Welcome, brave earl, into our territories:
Command in Anjou what your honour pleases.
Suffolk Thanks, Reignier, happy for so sweet a child,
Fit to be made companion with a king:
What answer makes your grace unto my suit?
Reignier Since thou dost deign to woo her little worth
To be the princely bride of such a lord;
Upon condition I may quietly
Enjoy mine own, the country Maine and Anjou,
Free from oppression or the stroke of war,
My daughter shall be Henry’s, if he please.
Suffolk That is her ransom; I deliver her;
And those two counties I will undertake
Your grace shall well and quietly enjoy.
Reignier And I again, in Henry’s royal name,
As deputy unto that gracious king,
Give thee her hand, for sign of plighted faith.
Suffolk Reignier of France, I give thee kingly thanks,
Because this is in traffic of a king.
And yet, methinks, I could be well content
To be mine own attorney in this case.
I’ll over then to England with this news,
And make this marriage to be solemnized.
So farewell, Reignier: set this diamond safe
In golden palaces, as it becomes.
Reignier I do embrace thee, as I would embrace
The Christian prince, King Henry, were he here.
Margaret Farewell, my lord: good wishes, praise and prayers
Shall Suffolk ever have of Margaret.
Suffolk Farewell, sweet madam: but hark you, Margaret;
No princely commendations to my king?
Margaret Such commendations as becomes a maid,
A virgin and his servant, say to him.
Suffolk Words sweetly placed and modestly directed.
But madam, I must trouble you again;
No loving token to his majesty?
Margaret Yes, my good lord, a pure unspotted heart,
Never yet taint with love, I send the king.
Suffolk And this withal.
Margaret That for thyself: I will not so presume
To send such peevish tokens to a king.
Exeunt Reignier and Margaret
Suffolk O, wert thou for myself! But, Suffolk, stay;
Thou mayst not wander in that labyrinth;
There Minotaurs and ugly treasons lurk.
Solicit Henry with her wondrous praise:
Bethink thee on her virtues that surmount,
And natural graces that extinguish art;
Repeat their semblance often on the seas,
That, when thou comest to kneel at Henry’s feet,
Thou mayst bereave him of his wits with wonder.
Enter York, Warwick, and others
York Bring forth that sorceress condemn’d to burn.
Enter Joan La Pucelle, guarded, and a Shepherd
Shepherd Ah, Joan, this kills thy father’s heart outright!
Have I sought every country far and near,
And, now it is my chance to find thee out,
Must I behold thy timeless cruel death?
Ah, Joan, sweet daughter Joan, I’ll die with thee!
Joan La Pucelle Decrepit miser! base ignoble wretch!
I am descended of a gentler blood:
Thou art no father nor no friend of mine.
Shepherd Out, out! My lords, an please you, ’tis not so;
I did beget her, all the parish knows:
Her mother liveth yet, can testify
She was the first fruit of my bachelorship.
Warwick Graceless! wilt thou deny thy parentage?
York This argues what her kind of life hath been,
Wicked and vile; and so her death concludes.
Shepherd Fie, Joan, that thou wilt be so obstacle!
God knows thou art a collop of my flesh;
And for thy sake have I shed many a tear:
Deny me not, I prithee, gentle Joan.
Joan La Pucelle Peasant, avaunt! You have suborn’d this man,
Of purpose to obscure my noble birth.
Shepherd ’Tis true, I gave a noble to the priest
The morn that I was wedded to her mother.
Kneel down and take my blessing, good my girl.
Wilt thou not stoop? Now cursed be the time
Of thy nativity! I would the milk
Thy mother gave thee when thou suck’dst her breast,
Had been a little ratsbane for thy sake!
Or else, when thou didst keep my lambs a-field,
I wish some ravenous wolf had eaten thee!
Dost thou deny thy father, cursed drab?
O, burn her, burn her! hanging is too good.
York Take her away; for she hath lived too long,
To fill the world with vicious qualities.
Joan La Pucelle First, let me tell you whom you have condemn’d:
Not me begotten of a shepherd swain,
But issued from the progeny of kings;
Virtuous and holy; chosen from above,
By inspiration of celestial grace,
To work exceeding miracles on earth.
I never had to do with wicked spirits:
But you, that are polluted with your lusts,
Stain’d with the guiltless blood of innocents,
Corrupt and tainted with a thousand vices,
Because you want the grace that others have,
You judge it straight a thing impossible
To compass wonders but by help of devils.
No, misconceived! Joan of Arc hath been
A virgin from her tender infancy,
Chaste and immaculate in very thought;
Whose maiden blood, thus rigorously effused,
Will cry for vengeance at the gates of heaven.
York Ay, ay: away with her to execution!
Warwick And hark ye, sirs; because she is a maid,
Spare for no faggots, let there be enow:
Place barrels of pitch upon the fatal stake,
That so her torture may be shortened.
Joan La Pucelle Will nothing turn your unrelenting hearts?
Then, Joan, discover thine infirmity,
That warranteth by law to be thy privilege.
I am with child, ye bloody homicides:
Murder not then the fruit within my womb,
Although ye hale me to a violent death.
York Now heaven forfend! the holy maid with child!
Warwick The greatest miracle that e’er ye wrought:
Is all your strict preciseness come to this?
York She and the Dauphin have been juggling:
I did imagine what would be her refuge.
Warwick Well, go to; we’ll have no bastards live;
Especially since Charles must father it.
Joan La Pucelle You are deceived; my child is none of his:
It was Alencon that enjoy’d my love.
York Alencon! that notorious Machiavel!
It dies, an if it had a thousand lives.
Joan La Pucelle O, give me leave, I have deluded you:
’Twas neither Charles nor yet the duke I named,
But Reignier, king of Naples, that prevail’d.
Warwick A married man! that’s most intolerable.
York Why, here’s a girl! I think she knows not well,
There were so many, whom she may accuse.
Warwick It’s sign she hath been liberal and free.
York And yet, forsooth, she is a virgin pure.
Strumpet, thy words condemn thy brat and thee:
Use no entreaty, for it is in vain.
Joan La Pucelle Then lead me hence; with whom I leave my curse:
May never glorious sun reflex his beams
Upon the country where you make abode;
But darkness and the gloomy shade of death
Environ you, till mischief and despair
Drive you to break your necks or hang yourselves!
York Break thou in pieces and consume to ashes,
Thou foul accursed minister of hell!
Enter Cardinal Of Winchester, attended
Bishop of Winchester Lord regent, I do greet your excellence
With letters of commission from the king.
For know, my lords, the states of Christendom,
Moved with remorse of these outrageous broils,
Have earnestly implored a general peace
Betwixt our nation and the aspiring French;
And here at hand the Dauphin and his train
Approacheth, to confer about some matter.
York Is all our travail turn’d to this effect?
After the slaughter of so many peers,
So many captains, gentlemen and soldiers,
That in this quarrel have been overthrown
And sold their bodies for their country’s benefit,
Shall we at last conclude effeminate peace?
Have we not lost most part of all the towns,
By treason, falsehood and by treachery,
Our great progenitors had conquered?
O Warwick, Warwick! I foresee with grief
The utter loss of all the realm of France.
Warwick Be patient, York: if we conclude a peace,
It shall be with such strict and severe covenants
As little shall the Frenchmen gain thereby.
Enter Charles, Alencon, Bastard Of Orleans, Reignier, and others
Charles Since, lords of England, it is thus agreed
That peaceful truce shall be proclaim’d in France,
We come to be informed by yourselves
What the conditions of that league must be.
York Speak, Winchester; for boiling choler chokes
The hollow passage of my poison’d voice,
By sight of these our baleful enemies.
Bishop of Winchester Charles, and the rest, it is enacted thus:
That, in regard King Henry gives consent,
Of mere compassion and of lenity,
To ease your country of distressful war,
And suffer you to breathe in fruitful peace,
You shall become true liegemen to his crown:
And Charles, upon condition thou wilt swear
To pay him tribute, submit thyself,
Thou shalt be placed as viceroy under him,
And still enjoy thy regal dignity.
Alencon Must he be then as shadow of himself?
Adorn his temples with a coronet,
And yet, in substance and authority,
Retain but privilege of a private man?
This proffer is absurd and reasonless.
Charles ’Tis known already that I am possess’d
With more than half the Gallian territories,
And therein reverenced for their lawful king:
Shall I, for lucre of the rest unvanquish’d,
Detract so much from that prerogative,
As to be call’d but viceroy of the whole?
No, lord ambassador, I’ll rather keep
That which I have than, coveting for more,
Be cast from possibility of all.
York Insulting Charles! hast thou by secret means
Used intercession to obtain a league,
And, now the matter grows to compromise,
Stand’st thou aloof upon comparison?
Either accept the title thou usurp’st,
Of benefit proceeding from our king
And not of any challenge of desert,
Or we will plague thee with incessant wars.
Reignier My lord, you do not well in obstinacy
To cavil in the course of this contract:
If once it be neglected, ten to one
We shall not find like opportunity.
Alencon To say the truth, it is your policy
To save your subjects from such massacre
And ruthless slaughters as are daily seen
By our proceeding in hostility;
And therefore take this compact of a truce,
Although you break it when your pleasure serves.
Warwick How say’st thou, Charles? shall our condition stand?
Charles It shall;
Only reserved, you claim no interest
In any of our towns of garrison.
York Then swear allegiance to his majesty,
As thou art knight, never to disobey
Nor be rebellious to the crown of England,
Thou, nor thy nobles, to the crown of England.
So, now dismiss your army when ye please:
Hang up your ensign, let your drums be still,
For here we entertain a solemn peace.
Enter Suffolk in conference with King Henry VI, Gloucester and Exeter
King Henry VI Your wondrous rare description, noble earl,
Of beauteous Margaret hath astonish’d me:
Her virtues graced with external gifts
Do breed love’s settled passions in my heart:
And like as rigor of tempestuous gusts
Provokes the mightiest hulk against the tide,
So am I driven by breath of her renown
Either to suffer shipwreck or arrive
Where I may have fruition of her love.
Suffolk Tush, my good lord, this superficial tale
Is but a preface of her worthy praise;
The chief perfections of that lovely dame
Had I sufficient skill to utter them,
Would make a volume of enticing lines,
Able to ravish any dull conceit:
And, which is more, she is not so divine,
So full-replete with choice of all delights,
But with as humble lowliness of mind
She is content to be at your command;
Command, I mean, of virtuous chaste intents,
To love and honour Henry as her lord.
King Henry VI And otherwise will Henry ne’er presume.
Therefore, my lord protector, give consent
That Margaret may be England’s royal queen.
Gloucester So should I give consent to flatter sin.
You know, my lord, your highness is betroth’d
Unto another lady of esteem:
How shall we then dispense with that contract,
And not deface your honour with reproach?
Suffolk As doth a ruler with unlawful oaths;
Or one that, at a triumph having vow’d
To try his strength, forsaketh yet the lists
By reason of his adversary’s odds:
A poor earl’s daughter is unequal odds,
And therefore may be broke without offence.
Gloucester Why, what, I pray, is Margaret more than that?
Her father is no better than an earl,
Although in glorious titles he excel.
Suffolk Yes, lord, her father is a king,
The King of Naples and Jerusalem;
And of such great authority in France
As his alliance will confirm our peace
And keep the Frenchmen in allegiance.
Gloucester And so the Earl of Armagnac may do,
Because he is near kinsman unto Charles.
Exeter Beside, his wealth doth warrant a liberal dower,
Where Reignier sooner will receive than give.
Suffolk A dower, my lords! disgrace not so your king,
That he should be so abject, base and poor,
To choose for wealth and not for perfect love.
Henry is able to enrich his queen
And not seek a queen to make him rich:
So worthless peasants bargain for their wives,
As market-men for oxen, sheep, or horse.
Marriage is a matter of more worth
Than to be dealt in by attorneyship;
Not whom we will, but whom his grace affects,
Must be companion of his nuptial bed:
And therefore, lords, since he affects her most,
It most of all these reasons bindeth us,
In our opinions she should be preferr’d.
For what is wedlock forced but a hell,
An age of discord and continual strife?
Whereas the contrary bringeth bliss,
And is a pattern of celestial peace.
Whom should we match with Henry, being a king,
But Margaret, that is daughter to a king?
Her peerless feature, joined with her birth,
Approves her fit for none but for a king:
Her valiant courage and undaunted spirit,
More than in women commonly is seen,
Will answer our hope in issue of a king;
For Henry, son unto a conqueror,
Is likely to beget more conquerors,
If with a lady of so high resolve
As is fair Margaret he be link’d in love.
Then yield, my lords; and here conclude with me
That Margaret shall be queen, and none but she.
King Henry VI Whether it be through force of your report,
My noble Lord of Suffolk, or for that
My tender youth was never yet attaint
With any passion of inflaming love,
I cannot tell; but this I am assured,
I feel such sharp dissension in my breast,
Such fierce alarums both of hope and fear,
As I am sick with working of my thoughts.
Take, therefore, shipping; post, my lord, to France;
Agree to any covenants, and procure
That Lady Margaret do vouchsafe to come
To cross the seas to England and be crown’d
King Henry’s faithful and anointed queen:
For your expenses and sufficient charge,
Among the people gather up a tenth.
Be gone, I say; for, till you do return,
I rest perplexed with a thousand cares.
And you, good uncle, banish all offence:
If you do censure me by what you were,
Not what you are, I know it will excuse
This sudden execution of my will.
And so, conduct me where, from company,
I may revolve and ruminate my grief.
Gloucester Ay, grief, I fear me, both at first and last.
Exeunt Gloucester and Exeter
Suffolk Thus Suffolk hath prevail’d; and thus he goes,
As did the youthful Paris once to Greece,
With hope to find the like event in love,
But prosper better than the Trojan did.
Margaret shall now be queen, and rule the king;
But I will rule both her, the king and realm.
This web edition published by:
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University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59