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History of Henry VI, Part I

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Act I, Scene 2

France. Before Orleans.


[Sound a flourish. Enter CHARLES, ALENCON, and] [p]REIGNIER, marching with drum and Soldiers]

  • Charles, King of France. Mars his true moving, even as in the heavens
    So in the earth, to this day is not known:
    Late did he shine upon the English side;
    Now we are victors; upon us he smiles.
    What towns of any moment but we have? 195
    At pleasure here we lie near Orleans;
    Otherwhiles the famish'd English, like pale ghosts,
    Faintly besiege us one hour in a month.
  • Duke of Alencon. They want their porridge and their fat bull-beeves:
    Either they must be dieted like mules 200
    And have their provender tied to their mouths
    Or piteous they will look, like drowned mice.
  • Reignier. Let's raise the siege: why live we idly here?
    Talbot is taken, whom we wont to fear:
    Remaineth none but mad-brain'd Salisbury; 205
    And he may well in fretting spend his gall,
    Nor men nor money hath he to make war.
  • Charles, King of France. Sound, sound alarum! we will rush on them.
    Now for the honour of the forlorn French!
    Him I forgive my death that killeth me 210
    When he sees me go back one foot or fly.
    [Here alarum; they are beaten back by the English]
    with great loss. Re-enter CHARLES, ALENCON, and REIGNIER]
  • Charles, King of France. Who ever saw the like? what men have I! 215
    Dogs! cowards! dastards! I would ne'er have fled,
    But that they left me 'midst my enemies.
  • Reignier. Salisbury is a desperate homicide;
    He fighteth as one weary of his life.
    The other lords, like lions wanting food, 220
    Do rush upon us as their hungry prey.
  • Duke of Alencon. Froissart, a countryman of ours, records,
    England all Olivers and Rowlands bred,
    During the time Edward the Third did reign.
    More truly now may this be verified; 225
    For none but Samsons and Goliases
    It sendeth forth to skirmish. One to ten!
    Lean, raw-boned rascals! who would e'er suppose
    They had such courage and audacity?
  • Charles, King of France. Let's leave this town; for they are hare-brain'd slaves, 230
    And hunger will enforce them to be more eager:
    Of old I know them; rather with their teeth
    The walls they'll tear down than forsake the siege.
  • Reignier. I think, by some odd gimmors or device
    Their arms are set like clocks, stiff to strike on; 235
    Else ne'er could they hold out so as they do.
    By my consent, we'll even let them alone.


  • Bastard of Orleans. Methinks your looks are sad, your cheer appall'd:
    Hath the late overthrow wrought this offence?
    Be not dismay'd, for succor is at hand:
    A holy maid hither with me I bring, 245
    Which by a vision sent to her from heaven
    Ordained is to raise this tedious siege
    And drive the English forth the bounds of France.
    The spirit of deep prophecy she hath,
    Exceeding the nine sibyls of old Rome: 250
    What's past and what's to come she can descry.
    Speak, shall I call her in? Believe my words,
    For they are certain and unfallible.
  • Charles, King of France. Go, call her in.
    But first, to try her skill,
    Reignier, stand thou as Dauphin in my place:
    Question her proudly; let thy looks be stern:
    By this means shall we sound what skill she hath.


  • Reignier. Fair maid, is't thou wilt do these wondrous feats?
  • Joan la Pucelle. Reignier, is't thou that thinkest to beguile me?
    Where is the Dauphin? Come, come from behind;
    I know thee well, though never seen before.
    Be not amazed, there's nothing hid from me: 265
    In private will I talk with thee apart.
    Stand back, you lords, and give us leave awhile.
  • Reignier. She takes upon her bravely at first dash.
  • Joan la Pucelle. Dauphin, I am by birth a shepherd's daughter,
    My wit untrain'd in any kind of art. 270
    Heaven and our Lady gracious hath it pleased
    To shine on my contemptible estate:
    Lo, whilst I waited on my tender lambs,
    And to sun's parching heat display'd my cheeks,
    God's mother deigned to appear to me 275
    And in a vision full of majesty
    Will'd me to leave my base vocation
    And free my country from calamity:
    Her aid she promised and assured success:
    In complete glory she reveal'd herself; 280
    And, whereas I was black and swart before,
    With those clear rays which she infused on me
    That beauty am I bless'd with which you see.
    Ask me what question thou canst possible,
    And I will answer unpremeditated: 285
    My courage try by combat, if thou darest,
    And thou shalt find that I exceed my sex.
    Resolve on this, thou shalt be fortunate,
    If thou receive me for thy warlike mate.
  • Charles, King of France. Thou hast astonish'd me with thy high terms: 290
    Only this proof I'll of thy valour make,
    In single combat thou shalt buckle with me,
    And if thou vanquishest, thy words are true;
    Otherwise I renounce all confidence.
  • Joan la Pucelle. I am prepared: here is my keen-edged sword, 295
    Deck'd with five flower-de-luces on each side;
    The which at Touraine, in Saint Katharine's
    Out of a great deal of old iron I chose forth.

[Here they fight, and JOAN LA PUCELLE overcomes]

  • Charles, King of France. Whoe'er helps thee, 'tis thou that must help me:
    Impatiently I burn with thy desire;
    My heart and hands thou hast at once subdued.
    Excellent Pucelle, if thy name be so,
    Let me thy servant and not sovereign be: 310
    'Tis the French Dauphin sueth to thee thus.
  • Joan la Pucelle. I must not yield to any rites of love,
    For my profession's sacred from above:
    When I have chased all thy foes from hence,
    Then will I think upon a recompense. 315
  • Reignier. My lord, methinks, is very long in talk.
  • Duke of Alencon. Doubtless he shrives this woman to her smock;
    Else ne'er could he so long protract his speech.
  • Reignier. Shall we disturb him, since he keeps no mean? 320
  • Duke of Alencon. He may mean more than we poor men do know:
    These women are shrewd tempters with their tongues.
  • Reignier. My lord, where are you? what devise you on?
    Shall we give over Orleans, or no?
  • Joan la Pucelle. Why, no, I say, distrustful recreants! 325
    Fight till the last gasp; I will be your guard.
  • Joan la Pucelle. Assign'd am I to be the English scourge.
    This night the siege assuredly I'll raise:
    Expect Saint Martin's summer, halcyon days, 330
    Since I have entered into these wars.
    Glory is like a circle in the water,
    Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself
    Till by broad spreading it disperse to nought.
    With Henry's death the English circle ends; 335
    Dispersed are the glories it included.
    Now am I like that proud insulting ship
    Which Caesar and his fortune bare at once.
  • Charles, King of France. Was Mahomet inspired with a dove?
    Thou with an eagle art inspired then. 340
    Helen, the mother of great Constantine,
    Nor yet Saint Philip's daughters, were like thee.
    Bright star of Venus, fall'n down on the earth,
    How may I reverently worship thee enough?
  • Reignier. Woman, do what thou canst to save our honours;
    Drive them from Orleans and be immortalized.
  • Charles, King of France. Presently we'll try: come, let's away about it:
    No prophet will I trust, if she prove false.