Open Source Shakespeare

History of Henry VI, Part I

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Act II, Scene 3

Auvergne. The COUNTESS’s castle.


[Enter the COUNTESS and her Porter]

  • Countess of Auvergne. Porter, remember what I gave in charge;
    And when you have done so, bring the keys to me.
  • Porter. Madam, I will.


  • Countess of Auvergne. The plot is laid: if all things fall out right, 830
    I shall as famous be by this exploit
    As Scythian Tomyris by Cyrus' death.
    Great is the rumor of this dreadful knight,
    And his achievements of no less account:
    Fain would mine eyes be witness with mine ears, 835
    To give their censure of these rare reports.

[Enter Messenger and TALBOT]

  • Messenger. Madam,
    According as your ladyship desired,
    By message craved, so is Lord Talbot come. 840
  • Countess of Auvergne. And he is welcome. What! is this the man?
  • Messenger. Madam, it is.
  • Countess of Auvergne. Is this the scourge of France?
    Is this the Talbot, so much fear'd abroad
    That with his name the mothers still their babes? 845
    I see report is fabulous and false:
    I thought I should have seen some Hercules,
    A second Hector, for his grim aspect,
    And large proportion of his strong-knit limbs.
    Alas, this is a child, a silly dwarf! 850
    It cannot be this weak and writhled shrimp
    Should strike such terror to his enemies.
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. Madam, I have been bold to trouble you;
    But since your ladyship is not at leisure,
    I'll sort some other time to visit you. 855
  • Countess of Auvergne. What means he now? Go ask him whither he goes.
  • Messenger. Stay, my Lord Talbot; for my lady craves
    To know the cause of your abrupt departure.
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. Marry, for that she's in a wrong belief,
    I go to certify her Talbot's here. 860

[Re-enter Porter with keys]

  • Countess of Auvergne. If thou be he, then art thou prisoner.
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. Prisoner! to whom?
  • Countess of Auvergne. To me, blood-thirsty lord;
    And for that cause I trained thee to my house. 865
    Long time thy shadow hath been thrall to me,
    For in my gallery thy picture hangs:
    But now the substance shall endure the like,
    And I will chain these legs and arms of thine,
    That hast by tyranny these many years 870
    Wasted our country, slain our citizens
    And sent our sons and husbands captivate.
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. Ha, ha, ha!
  • Countess of Auvergne. Laughest thou, wretch? thy mirth shall turn to moan.
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. I laugh to see your ladyship so fond 875
    To think that you have aught but Talbot's shadow
    Whereon to practise your severity.
  • Countess of Auvergne. Why, art not thou the man?
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. I am indeed.
  • Countess of Auvergne. Then have I substance too. 880
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. No, no, I am but shadow of myself:
    You are deceived, my substance is not here;
    For what you see is but the smallest part
    And least proportion of humanity:
    I tell you, madam, were the whole frame here, 885
    It is of such a spacious lofty pitch,
    Your roof were not sufficient to contain't.
  • Countess of Auvergne. This is a riddling merchant for the nonce;
    He will be here, and yet he is not here:
    How can these contrarieties agree? 890
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. That will I show you presently.
    [Winds his horn. Drums strike up: a peal of]
    ordnance. Enter soldiers]
    How say you, madam? are you now persuaded
    That Talbot is but shadow of himself? 895
    These are his substance, sinews, arms and strength,
    With which he yoketh your rebellious necks,
    Razeth your cities and subverts your towns
    And in a moment makes them desolate.
  • Countess of Auvergne. Victorious Talbot! pardon my abuse: 900
    I find thou art no less than fame hath bruited
    And more than may be gather'd by thy shape.
    Let my presumption not provoke thy wrath;
    For I am sorry that with reverence
    I did not entertain thee as thou art. 905
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. Be not dismay'd, fair lady; nor misconstrue
    The mind of Talbot, as you did mistake
    The outward composition of his body.
    What you have done hath not offended me;
    Nor other satisfaction do I crave, 910
    But only, with your patience, that we may
    Taste of your wine and see what cates you have;
    For soldiers' stomachs always serve them well.
  • Countess of Auvergne. With all my heart, and think me honoured
    To feast so great a warrior in my house. 915