History of Henry VI, Part I

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Act V, Scene 5

London. The palace.

       
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[Enter SUFFOLK in conference with KING HENRY VI,] [p]GLOUCESTER and EXETER]

  • Henry VI. Your wondrous rare description, noble earl,
    Of beauteous Margaret hath astonish'd me: 2855
    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 2860
    Either to suffer shipwreck or arrive
    Where I may have fruition of her love.
  • Earl of Suffolk. Tush, my good lord, this superficial tale
    Is but a preface of her worthy praise;
    The chief perfections of that lovely dame 2865
    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, 2870
    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.
  • Henry VI. And otherwise will Henry ne'er presume. 2875
    Therefore, my lord protector, give consent
    That Margaret may be England's royal queen.
  • Duke of Gloucester. So should I give consent to flatter sin.
    You know, my lord, your highness is betroth'd
    Unto another lady of esteem: 2880
    How shall we then dispense with that contract,
    And not deface your honour with reproach?
  • Earl of 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 2885
    By reason of his adversary's odds:
    A poor earl's daughter is unequal odds,
    And therefore may be broke without offence.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Why, what, I pray, is Margaret more than that?
    Her father is no better than an earl, 2890
    Although in glorious titles he excel.
  • Earl of 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 2895
    And keep the Frenchmen in allegiance.
  • Duke of Gloucester. And so the Earl of Armagnac may do,
    Because he is near kinsman unto Charles.
  • Duke of Exeter. Beside, his wealth doth warrant a liberal dower,
    Where Reignier sooner will receive than give. 2900
  • Earl of 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: 2905
    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, 2910
    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, 2915
    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? 2920
    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; 2925
    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 2930
    That Margaret shall be queen, and none but she.
  • 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, 2935
    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; 2940
    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, 2945
    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, 2950
    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.

[Exit]

[Exeunt GLOUCESTER and EXETER]

  • Earl of 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, 2960
    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.

[Exit]

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