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King Henry VI, Part 2 online

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by William Shakespeare

Dramatis Personae

HUMPHREY, Duke of Gloster, his uncle.
CARDINAL BEAUFORT, Bishop of Winchester,
great-uncle to the King.
EDWARD and RICHARD, his sons.

STAFFORD, his brother.
A Sea-Captain, Master, and Master's-Mate, and WALTER
Two Gentlemen, prisoners with Suffolk.
THOMAS HORNER, an armourer. PETER, his man.
Clerk of Chatham. Mayor of Saint Albans.
SIMPCOX, an impostor.
ALEXANDER IDEN, a Kentish gentleman.
JACK CADE, a rebel.
SMITH the weaver, MICHAEL, etc., followers of Cade.
Two Murderers.

MARGARET, Queen to King Henry.
ELEANOR, Duchess of Gloster.
Wife to Simpcox.

Lords, Ladies, and Attendants, Petitioners, Aldermen, a Herald,
a Beadle, Sheriff, and Officers, Citizens, Prentices,
Falconers, Guards, Soldiers, Messengers, &c.

A Spirit.

SCENE: England.


London. The palace

[Flourish of trumpets: then hautboys. Enter the KING, GLOSTER,
one side; the QUEEN, SUFFOLK, YORK, SOMERSET, and
BUCKINGHAM, on the other.]

As by your high imperial Majesty
I had in charge at my depart for France,
As procurator to your excellence,
To marry Princess Margaret for your grace,
So, in the famous ancient city Tours,
In presence of the Kings of France and Sicil,
The Dukes of Orleans, Calaber, Bretagne, and Alencon,
Seven earls, twelve barons, and twenty reverend bishops,
I have perform'd my task and was espous'd,
And humbly now upon my bended knee,
In sight of England and her lordly peers,
Deliver up my title in the queen
To your most gracious hands, that are the substance
Of that great shadow I did represent:
The happiest gift that ever marquess gave,
The fairest queen that ever king receiv'd.

Suffolk, arise. - Welcome, Queen Margaret.
I can express no kinder sign of love
Than this kind kiss. - O Lord, that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!
For thou hast given me in this beauteous face
A world of earthly blessings to my soul,
If sympathy of love unite our thoughts.

Great King of England and my gracious lord,
The mutual conference that my mind hath had,
By day, by night, waking and in my dreams,
In courtly company or at my beads,
With you, mine alder-liefest sovereign,
Makes me the bolder to salute my king
With ruder terms, such as my wit affords
And over-joy of heart doth minister.

Her sight did ravish, but her grace in speech,
Her words yclad with wisdom's majesty,
Makes me from wondering fall to weeping joys;
Such is the fulness of my heart's content. -
Lords, with one cheerful voice welcome my love.

[Kneeling] Long live Queen Margaret, England's

We thank you all.


My Lord Protector, so it please your grace,
Here are the articles of contracted peace
Between our sovereign and the French king Charles,
For eighteen months concluded by consent.

[Reads] 'Imprimis, It is agreed between the French king
Charles and William de la Pole, Marquess of Suffolk, ambassador
for Henry King of England, that the said Henry shall espouse the
Lady Margaret, daughter unto Reignier King of Naples, Sicilia,
and Jerusalem, and crown her Queen of England ere the thirtieth
of May next ensuing. Item, that the duchy of Anjou and the
county of Maine shall be released and delivered to the king her
father' -

[Lets the paper fall.]

Uncle, how now!

Pardon me, gracious lord;
Some sudden qualm hath struck me at the heart
And dimm'd mine eyes, that I can read no further.

Uncle of Winchester, I pray, read on.

[Reads] 'Item, It is further agreed between them,
that the duchies of Anjou and Maine shall be released and
delivered over to the king her father, and she sent over of the
King of
England's own proper cost and charges, without having any dowry.'

They please us well. - Lord marquess, kneel down.
We here create thee the first duke of Suffolk,
And girt thee with the sword. - Cousin of York,
We here discharge your grace from being regent
I' the parts of France, till term of eighteen months
Be full expir'd. - Thanks, uncle Winchester,
Gloster, York, Buckingham, Somerset,
Salisbury, and Warwick;
We thank you all for this great favour done
In entertainment to my princely queen.
Come, let us in, and with all speed provide
To see her coronation be perform'd.

[Exeunt King, Queen, and Suffolk.]

Brave peers of England, pillars of the state,
To you Duke Humphrey must unload his grief,
Your grief, the common grief of all the land.
What! did my brother Henry spend his youth,
His valour, coin, and people, in the wars?
Did he so often lodge in open field,
In winter's cold and summer's parching heat,
To conquer France, his true inheritance?
And did my brother Bedford toil his wits
To keep by policy what Henry got?
Have you yourselves, Somerset, Buckingham,
Brave York, Salisbury, and victorious Warwick,
Receiv'd deep scars in France and Normandy?
Or hath mine uncle Beaufort and myself,
With all the learned counsel of the realm,
Studied so long, sat in the council-house
Early and late, debating to and fro
How France and Frenchmen might be kept in awe,
And had his highness in his infancy
Crowned in Paris in despite of foes?
And shall these labours and these honours die?
Shall Henry's conquest, Bedford's vigilance,
Your deeds of war, and all our counsel die?
O peers of England, shameful is this league!
Fatal this marriage, cancelling your fame,
Blotting your names from books of memory,
Razing the characters of your renown,
Defacing monuments of conquer'd France,
Undoing all, as all had never been!

Nephew, what means this passionate discourse,
This peroration with such circumstance?
For France, 't is ours; and we will keep it still.

Ay, uncle, we will keep it if we can,
But now it is impossible we should.
Suffolk, the new-made duke that rules the roast,
Hath given the duchy of Anjou and Maine
Unto the poor King Reignier, whose large style
Agrees not with the leanness of his purse.

Now, by the death of Him that died for all,
These counties were the keys of Normandy! -
But wherefore weeps Warwick, my valiant son?

For grief that they are past recovery;
For, were there hope to conquer them again,
My sword should shed hot blood, mine eyes no tears.
Anjou and Maine! myself did win them both,
Those provinces these arms of mine did conquer;
And are the cities that I got with wounds
Deliver'd up again with peaceful words?
Mort Dieu!

For Suffolk's duke, may he be suffocate,
That dims the honour of this warlike isle!
France should have torn and rent my very heart,
Before I would have yielded to this league.
I never read but England's kings have had
Large sums of gold and dowries with their wives;
And our King Henry gives away his own,
To match with her that brings no vantages.

A proper jest, and never heard before,
That Suffolk should demand a whole fifteenth
For costs and charges in transporting her!
She should have staid in France, and starv'd in France,
Before -

My Lord of Gloster, now ye grow too hot;
It was the pleasure of my lord the King.

My Lord of Winchester, I know your mind;
'T is not my speeches that you do mislike,
But 't is my presence that doth trouble ye.
Rancour will out.
Proud prelate, in thy face
I see thy fury; if I longer stay,
We shall begin our ancient bickerings. -
Lordings, farewell; and say, when I am gone,
I prophesied France will be lost ere long.


So, there goes our protector in a rage.
'T is known to you he is mine enemy,
Nay, more, an enemy unto you all,
And no great friend, I fear me, to the king.
Consider, lords, he is the next of blood,
And heir apparent to the English crown.
Had Henry got an empire by his marriage,
And all the wealthy kingdoms of the west,
There's reason he should be displeas'd at it.
Look to it, lords.
Let not his smoothing words
Bewitch your hearts; be wise and circumspect.
What though the common people favour him,
Calling him 'Humphrey, the good Duke of Gloster,'
Clapping their hands, and crying with loud voice,
'Jesu maintain your royal excellence!'
With 'God preserve the good Duke Humphrey!'
I fear me, lords, for all this flattering gloss,
He will be found a dangerous protector.

Why should he, then, protect our sovereign,
He being of age to govern of himself? -
Cousin of Somerset, join you with me,
And all together, with the Duke of Suffolk,
We'll quickly hoise Duke Humphrey from his seat.

This weighty business will not brook delay;
I'll to the Duke of Suffolk presently.


Cousin of Buckingham, though Humphrey's pride
And greatness of his place be grief to us,
Yet let us watch the haughty cardinal;
His insolence is more intolerable
Than all the princes in the land beside;
If Gloster be displac'd, he 'll be protector.

Or thou or I, Somerset, will be protector,
Despite Duke Humphrey or the cardinal.

[Exeunt Buckingham and Somerset.]

Pride went before, ambition follows him.
While these do labour for their own preferment,
Behoves it us to labour for the realm.
I never saw but Humphrey Duke of Gloster
Did bear him like a noble gentleman.
Oft have I seen the haughty cardinal,
More like a soldier than a man o' the church,
As stout and proud as he were lord of all,
Swear like a ruffian and demean himself
Unlike the ruler of a commonweal. -
Warwick my son, the comfort of my age,
Thy deeds, thy plainness, and thy housekeeping,
Hath won the greatest favour of the commons,
Excepting none but good Duke Humphrey; -
And, brother York, thy acts in Ireland,
In bringing them to civil discipline,
Thy late exploits done in the heart of France,
When thou wert regent for our sovereign,
Have made thee fear'd and honour'd of the people. -
Join we together, for the public good,
In what we can, to bridle and suppress
The pride of Suffolk and the cardinal,
With Somerset's and Buckingham's ambition,
And, as we may, cherish Duke Humphrey's deeds
While they do tend the profit of the land.

So God help Warwick, as he loves the land
And common profit of his country!

[Aside.] And so says York, for he hath greatest cause.

Then let's make haste away, and look unto the main.

Unto the main! O father, Maine is lost;
That Maine which by main force Warwick did win,
And would have kept so long as breath did last!
Main chance, father, you meant; but I meant Maine,
Which I will win from France, or else be slain.

[Exeunt Warwick and Salisbury.]

Anjou and Maine are given to the French;
Paris is lost; the state of Normandy
Stands on a tickle point now they are gone.
Suffolk concluded on the articles,
The peers agreed; and Henry was well pleas'd
To changes two dukedoms for a duke's fair daughter.
I cannot blame them all: what is't to them?
'T is thine they give away, and not their own.
Pirates may make cheap pennyworths of their pillage,
And purchase friends, and give to courtesans,
Still revelling like lords till all be gone;
Whileas the silly owner of the goods
Weeps over them and wrings his hapless hands
And shakes his head and trembling stands aloof,
While all is shar'd and all is borne away,
Ready to starve and dare not touch his own.
So York must sit and fret and bite his tongue,
While his own lands are bargain'd for and sold.
Methinks the realms of England, France, and Ireland
Bear that proportion to my flesh and blood
As did the fatal brand Althaea burn'd
Unto the prince's heart of Calydon.
Anjou and Maine both given unto the French!
Cold news for me, for I had hope of France,
Even as I have of fertile England's soil.
A day will come when York shall claim his own;
And therefore I will take the Nevils' parts,
And make a show of love to proud Duke Humphrey,
And when I spy advantage, claim the crown,
For that 's the golden mark I seek to hit.
Nor shall proud Lancaster usurp my right,
Nor hold the sceptre in his childish fist,
Nor wear the diadem upon his head,
Whose church-like humours fits not for a crown.
Then, York, be still awhile till time do serve;
Watch thou and wake when others be asleep,
To pry into the secrets of the state;
Till Henry, surfeiting in joys of love,
With his new bride and England's dear-bought queen,
And Humphrey with the peers be fallen at jars.
Then will I raise aloft the milk-white rose,
With whose sweet smell the air shall be perfum'd,
And in my standard bear the arms of York,
To grapple with the house of Lancaster;
And, force perforce, I 'll make him yield the crown
Whose bookish rule hath pull'd fair England down.


SCENE II. The Duke of Gloster's House.

[Enter DUKE HUMPHREY and his wife ELEANOR]

Why droops my lord, like over-ripen'd corn,
Hanging the head at Ceres' plenteous load?
Why doth the great Duke Humphrey knit his brows,
As frowning at the favours of the world?
Why are thine eyes fix'd to the sullen earth,
Gazing on that which seems to dim thy sight?
What see'st thou there? King Henry's diadem,
Enchas'd with all the honours of the world?
If so, gaze on, and grovel on thy face,
Until thy head be circled with the same.
Put forth thy hand, reach at the glorious gold.
What, is't too short? I'll lengthen it with mine,
And, having both together heav'd it up,
We'll both together lift our heads to heaven,
And never more abase our sight so low
As to vouchsafe one glance unto the ground.

O Nell, sweet Nell, if thou dost love thy lord,
Banish the canker of ambitious thoughts;
And may that thought when I imagine ill
Against my king and nephew, virtuous Henry,
Be my last breathing in this mortal world!
My troublous dreams this night doth make me sad.

What dream'd my lord? Tell me, and I'll requite it
With sweet rehearsal of my morning's dream.

Methought this staff, mine office-badge in court,
Was broke in twain; - by whom I have forgot,
But, as I think, it was by the cardinal, -
And on the pieces of the broken wand
Were plac'd the heads of Edmund Duke of Somerset
And William de la Pole, first duke of Suffolk.
This was my dream; what it doth bode, God knows.

Tut, this was nothing but an argument
That he that breaks a stick of Gloster's grove
Shall lose his head for his presumption.
But list to me, my Humphrey, my sweet duke:
Methought I sat in seat of majesty
In the cathedral church of Westminster
And in that chair where kings and queens are crown'd,
Where Henry and Dame Margaret kneel'd to me
And on my head did set the diadem.

Nay, Eleanor, then must I chide outright.
Presumptuous dame, ill-nurtur'd Eleanor,
Art thou not second woman in the realm,
And the protector's wife, belov'd of him?
Hast thou not worldly pleasure at command,
Above the reach or compass of thy thought?
And wilt thou still be hammering treachery,
To tumble down thy husband and thyself
From top of honour to disgrace's feet?
Away from me, and let me hear no more!

What, what, my lord! are you so choleric
With Eleanor for telling but her dream?
Next time I'll keep my dreams unto myself,
And not be check'd.

Nay, be not angry; I am pleas'd again.

[Enter Messenger.]

My lord protector, 't is his highness' pleasure
You do prepare to ride unto Saint Alban's,
Whereas the king and queen do mean to hawk.

I go. - Come, Nell, thou wilt ride with us?

Yes, my good lord, I'll follow presently.

[Exeunt Gloster and Messenger.]

Follow I must; I cannot go before
While Gloster bears this base and humble mind.
Were I a man, a duke, and next of blood,
I would remove these tedious stumbling-blocks
And smooth my way upon their headless necks;
And, being a woman, I will not be slack
To play my part in Fortune's pageant. -
Where are you there? Sir John! nay, fear not, man,
We are alone; here's none but thee and I.

[Enter HUME.]

Jesus preserve your royal majesty!

What say'st thou? majesty! I am but grace.

But, by the grace of God, and Hume's advice,
Your grace's title shall be multiplied.

What say'st thou, man? hast thou as yet conferr'd
With Margery Jourdain, the cunning witch,
With Roger Bolingbroke, the conjurer?
And will they undertake to do me good?

This they have promised, - to show your highness
A spirit rais'd from depth of underground,
That shall make answer to such questions
As by your Grace shall be propounded him.

It is enough; I'll think upon the questions.
When from Saint Alban's we do make return,
We'll see these things effected to the full.
Here, Hume, take this reward; make merry, man,
With thy confederates in this weighty cause.


Hume must make merry with the duchess' gold,
Marry, and shall. But, how now, Sir John Hume!
Seal up your lips, and give no words but mum;
The business asketh silent secrecy.
Dame Eleanor gives gold to bring the witch;
Gold cannot come amiss, were she a devil.
Yet have I gold flies from another coast.
I dare not say, from the rich cardinal
And from the great and new-made Duke of Suffolk,
Yet I do find it so; for, to be plain,
They, knowing Dame Eleanor's aspiring humour,
Have hired me to undermine the duchess
And buzz these conjurations in her brain.
They say ' A crafty knave does need no broker;'
Yet am I Suffolk and the cardinal's broker.
Hume, if you take not heed, you shall go near
To call them both a pair of crafty knaves.
Well, so its stands; and thus, I fear, at last
Hume's knavery will be the duchess' wrack,
And her attainture will be Humphrey's fall.
Sort how it will, I shall have gold for all.


SCENE III. London. The palace.

[Enter PETER and other PETITIONERS.]

My masters, let's stand close; my lord protector
will come this way by and by, and then we may deliver our
supplications in the quill.

Marry, the Lord protect him, for he's a good
man! Jesu bless him!

[Enter SUFFOLK and QUEEN.]

Here 'a comes, methinks, and the queen with him.
I'll be the first, sure.

Come back, fool; this is the Duke of Suffolk and
not my lord protector.

How now, fellow! wouldst any thing with me?

I pray, my lord, pardon me; I took ye for my lord

[Reading] 'To my Lord Protector!' Are your supplications
to his lordship? Let me see them; what is thine?

Mine is, an 't please your grace, against John
Goodman, my lord cardinal's man, for keeping my house and lands,
and wife and all, from me.

Thy wife too! that's some wrong, indeed. - What's
yours? - What's here! [Reads] 'Against the Duke of Suffolk for
the commons of Melford.' - How now, sir knave!

Alas, sir, I am but a poor petitioner of our
whole township.

[Giving his petition] Against my master, Thomas Horner,
for saying that the Duke of York was rightful heir to the crown.

What say'st thou? did the Duke of York say he was
rightful heir to the crown?

That my master was? no, forsooth; my master said that he
was, and that the king was an usurper.

Who is there? [Enter Servant.] Take this fellow in, and
send for his master with a pursuivant presently. - We'll hear more
of your matter before the king.

[Exit Servant with Peter.]

And as for you, that love to be protected
Under the wings of our protector's grace,
Begin your suits anew and sue to him.

[Tears the supplications.]

Away, base cullions! - Suffolk, let them go.

Come, let's be gone.


My Lord of Suffolk, say, is this the guise,
Is this the fashion in the court of England?
Is this the government of Britain's isle,
And this the royalty of Albion's king?
What, shall King Henry be a pupil still
Under the surly Gloster's governance?
Am I a queen in title and in style,
And must be made a subject to a duke?
I tell thee, Pole, when in the city Tours
Thou ran'st a tilt in honour of my love
And stol'st away the ladies' hearts of France,
I thought King Henry had resembled thee
In courage, courtship, and proportion;
But all his mind is bent to holiness,
To number Ave-Maries on his beads,
His champions are the prophets and apostles,
His weapons holy saws of sacred writ,
His study is his tilt-yard, and his loves
Are brazen images of canoniz'd saints.
I would the college of the cardinals
Would choose him pope and carry him to Rome,
And set the triple crown upon his head;
That were a state fit for his holiness.

Madam, be patient; as I was cause
Your highness came to England, so will I
In England work your grace's full content.

Beside the haughty protector, have we Beaufort
The imperious churchman, Somerset, Buckingham,
And grumbling York; and not the least of these
But can do more in England than the king.

And he of these that can do most of all
Cannot do more in England than the Nevils;
Salisbury and Warwick are no simple peers.

Not all these lords do vex me half so much
As that proud dame, the lord protector's wife.
She sweeps it through the court with troops of ladies,
More like an empress than Duke Humphrey's wife.
Strangers in court do take her for the queen;
She bears a duke's revenues on her back,
And in her heart she scorns our poverty.
Shall I not live to be aveng'd on her?
Contemptuous base-born callat as she is,
She vaunted 'mongst her minions t' other day,
The very train of her worst wearing gown
Was better worth than all my father's land
Till Suffolk gave two dukedoms for his daughter.

Madam, myself have lim'd a bush for her,
And plac'd a quire of such enticing birds
That she will light to listen to the lays,
And never mount to trouble you again.
So, let her rest; and, madam, list to me,
For I am bold to counsel you in this.
Although we fancy not the cardinal,
Yet must we join with him and with the lords
Till we have brought Duke Humphrey in disgrace.
As for the Duke of York, this late complaint
Will make but little for his benefit.
So, one by one, we'll weed them all at last,
And you yourself shall steer the happy helm.


For my part, noble lords, I care not which;
Or Somerset or York, all's one to me.

If York have ill demean'd himself in France,
Then let him be denay'd the regentship.

If Somerset be unworthy of the place,
Let York be regent; I will yield to him.

Whether your grace be worthy, yea or no,
Dispute not that; York is the worthier.

Ambitious Warwick, let thy betters speak.

The cardinal's not my better in the field.

All in this presence are thy betters, Warwick.

Warwick may live to be the best of all.

Peace, son! - and show some reason, Buckingham,
Why Somerset should be preferr'd in this.

Because the king, forsooth, will have it so.

Madam, the King is old enough himself
To give his censure; these are no women's matters.

If he be old enough, what needs your grace
To be protector of his excellence?

Madam, I am protector of the realm,
And, at his pleasure, will resign my place.

Resign it then, and leave thine insolence.
Since thou wert king - as who is king but thou? -
The commonwealth hath daily run to wrack;
The Dauphin hath prevail'd beyond the seas;
And all the peers and nobles of the realm
Have been as bondmen to thy sovereignty.

The commons hast thou rack'd; the clergy's bags
Are lank and lean with thy extortions.

Thy sumptuous buildings and thy wife's attire
Have cost a mass of public treasury.

Thy cruelty in execution
Upon offenders hath exceeded law,
And left thee to the mercy of the law.


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