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Now my soul hath elbow-room.

      — King John, Act V Scene 7


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History of Henry VI, Part I

Act II

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Scene 1. Before Orleans.

Scene 2. Orleans. Within the town.

Scene 3. Auvergne. The COUNTESS’s castle.

Scene 4. London. The Temple-garden.

Scene 5. The Tower of London.


Act II, Scene 1

Before Orleans.

      next scene .

[Enter a Sergeant of a band with two Sentinels]

  • Sergeant. Sirs, take your places and be vigilant:
    If any noise or soldier you perceive
    Near to the walls, by some apparent sign
    Let us have knowledge at the court of guard. 665
  • First Sentinel. Sergeant, you shall.
    [Exit Sergeant]
    Thus are poor servitors,
    When others sleep upon their quiet beds,
    Constrain'd to watch in darkness, rain and cold. 670
    [Enter TALBOT, BEDFORD, BURGUNDY, and Forces, with]
    scaling-ladders, their drums beating a dead march]
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. Lord Regent, and redoubted Burgundy,
    By whose approach the regions of Artois,
    Wallon and Picardy are friends to us, 675
    This happy night the Frenchmen are secure,
    Having all day caroused and banqueted:
    Embrace we then this opportunity
    As fitting best to quittance their deceit
    Contrived by art and baleful sorcery. 680
  • Duke of Bedford. Coward of France! how much he wrongs his fame,
    Despairing of his own arm's fortitude,
    To join with witches and the help of hell!
  • Duke of Burgundy. Traitors have never other company.
    But what's that Pucelle whom they term so pure? 685
  • Duke of Burgundy. Pray God she prove not masculine ere long,
    If underneath the standard of the French
    She carry armour as she hath begun. 690
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. Well, let them practise and converse with spirits:
    God is our fortress, in whose conquering name
    Let us resolve to scale their flinty bulwarks.
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. Not all together: better far, I guess, 695
    That we do make our entrance several ways;
    That, if it chance the one of us do fail,
    The other yet may rise against their force.
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. And here will Talbot mount, or make his grave.
    Now, Salisbury, for thee, and for the right
    Of English Henry, shall this night appear
    How much in duty I am bound to both.
  • Sentinels. Arm! arm! the enemy doth make assault! 705
    [Cry: 'St. George,' 'A Talbot.']
    [The French leap over the walls in their shirts.]
    Enter, several ways, the BASTARD OF ORLEANS,
    ALENCON, and REIGNIER, half ready, and half unready]
  • Reignier. 'Twas time, I trow, to wake and leave our beds,
    Hearing alarums at our chamber-doors.
  • Duke of Alencon. Of all exploits since first I follow'd arms,
    Ne'er heard I of a warlike enterprise 715
    More venturous or desperate than this.
  • Reignier. If not of hell, the heavens, sure, favour him.


  • Charles, King of France. Is this thy cunning, thou deceitful dame?
    Didst thou at first, to flatter us withal,
    Make us partakers of a little gain,
    That now our loss might be ten times so much? 725
  • Joan la Pucelle. Wherefore is Charles impatient with his friend!
    At all times will you have my power alike?
    Sleeping or waking must I still prevail,
    Or will you blame and lay the fault on me?
    Improvident soldiers! had your watch been good, 730
    This sudden mischief never could have fall'n.
  • Charles, King of France. Duke of Alencon, this was your default,
    That, being captain of the watch to-night,
    Did look no better to that weighty charge.
  • Duke of Alencon. Had all your quarters been as safely kept 735
    As that whereof I had the government,
    We had not been thus shamefully surprised.
  • Charles, King of France. And, for myself, most part of all this night, 740
    Within her quarter and mine own precinct
    I was employ'd in passing to and fro,
    About relieving of the sentinels:
    Then how or which way should they first break in?
  • Joan la Pucelle. Question, my lords, no further of the case, 745
    How or which way: 'tis sure they found some place
    But weakly guarded, where the breach was made.
    And now there rests no other shift but this;
    To gather our soldiers, scatter'd and dispersed,
    And lay new platforms to endamage them. 750
    [Alarum. Enter an English Soldier, crying 'A]
    Talbot! a Talbot!' They fly, leaving their
    clothes behind]
  • Soldier. I'll be so bold to take what they have left.
    The cry of Talbot serves me for a sword; 755
    For I have loaden me with many spoils,
    Using no other weapon but his name.


. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 2

Orleans. Within the town.

      next scene .

[Enter TALBOT, BEDFORD, BURGUNDY, a Captain, and others]

  • Duke of Bedford. The day begins to break, and night is fled, 760
    Whose pitchy mantle over-veil'd the earth.
    Here sound retreat, and cease our hot pursuit.

[Retreat sounded]

  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. Bring forth the body of old Salisbury,
    And here advance it in the market-place, 765
    The middle centre of this cursed town.
    Now have I paid my vow unto his soul;
    For every drop of blood was drawn from him,
    There hath at least five Frenchmen died tonight.
    And that hereafter ages may behold 770
    What ruin happen'd in revenge of him,
    Within their chiefest temple I'll erect
    A tomb, wherein his corpse shall be interr'd:
    Upon the which, that every one may read,
    Shall be engraved the sack of Orleans, 775
    The treacherous manner of his mournful death
    And what a terror he had been to France.
    But, lords, in all our bloody massacre,
    I muse we met not with the Dauphin's grace,
    His new-come champion, virtuous Joan of Arc, 780
    Nor any of his false confederates.
  • Duke of Bedford. 'Tis thought, Lord Talbot, when the fight began,
    Roused on the sudden from their drowsy beds,
    They did amongst the troops of armed men
    Leap o'er the walls for refuge in the field. 785
  • Duke of Burgundy. Myself, as far as I could well discern
    For smoke and dusky vapours of the night,
    Am sure I scared the Dauphin and his trull,
    When arm in arm they both came swiftly running,
    Like to a pair of loving turtle-doves 790
    That could not live asunder day or night.
    After that things are set in order here,
    We'll follow them with all the power we have.

[Enter a Messenger]

  • Messenger. All hail, my lords! which of this princely train 795
    Call ye the warlike Talbot, for his acts
    So much applauded through the realm of France?
  • Messenger. The virtuous lady, Countess of Auvergne,
    With modesty admiring thy renown, 800
    By me entreats, great lord, thou wouldst vouchsafe
    To visit her poor castle where she lies,
    That she may boast she hath beheld the man
    Whose glory fills the world with loud report.
  • Duke of Burgundy. Is it even so? Nay, then, I see our wars 805
    Will turn unto a peaceful comic sport,
    When ladies crave to be encounter'd with.
    You may not, my lord, despise her gentle suit.
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. Ne'er trust me then; for when a world of men
    Could not prevail with all their oratory, 810
    Yet hath a woman's kindness over-ruled:
    And therefore tell her I return great thanks,
    And in submission will attend on her.
    Will not your honours bear me company?
  • Duke of Bedford. No, truly; it is more than manners will: 815
    And I have heard it said, unbidden guests
    Are often welcomest when they are gone.
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. Well then, alone, since there's no remedy,
    I mean to prove this lady's courtesy.
    Come hither, captain. 820
    You perceive my mind?
  • Captain. I do, my lord, and mean accordingly.


. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 3

Auvergne. The COUNTESS’s castle.

      next scene .

[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.


  • 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. 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
  • Messenger. Stay, my Lord Talbot; for my lady craves
    To know the cause of your abrupt departure.

[Re-enter Porter with keys]

  • 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. I laugh to see your ladyship so fond 875
    To think that you have aught but Talbot's shadow
    Whereon to practise your severity.
  • 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


. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 4

London. The Temple-garden.

      next scene .

[Enter the Earls of SOMERSET, SUFFOLK, and WARWICK;] [p]RICHARD PLANTAGENET, VERNON, and another Lawyer]

  • Earl of Suffolk. Within the Temple-hall we were too loud;
    The garden here is more convenient.
  • Earl of Suffolk. Faith, I have been a truant in the law,
    And never yet could frame my will to it;
    And therefore frame the law unto my will.
  • Earl of Warwick. Between two hawks, which flies the higher pitch;
    Between two dogs, which hath the deeper mouth;
    Between two blades, which bears the better temper:
    Between two horses, which doth bear him best;
    Between two girls, which hath the merriest eye; 935
    I have perhaps some shallow spirit of judgement;
    But in these nice sharp quillets of the law,
    Good faith, I am no wiser than a daw.
  • Duke/Earl of Somerset. And on my side it is so well apparell'd,
    So clear, so shining and so evident
    That it will glimmer through a blind man's eye. 945
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Since you are tongue-tied and so loath to speak,
    In dumb significants proclaim your thoughts:
    Let him that is a true-born gentleman
    And stands upon the honour of his birth, 950
    If he suppose that I have pleaded truth,
    From off this brier pluck a white rose with me.
  • Duke/Earl of Somerset. Let him that is no coward nor no flatterer,
    But dare maintain the party of the truth,
    Pluck a red rose from off this thorn with me. 955
  • Earl of Warwick. I love no colours, and without all colour
    Of base insinuating flattery
    I pluck this white rose with Plantagenet.
  • Earl of Suffolk. I pluck this red rose with young Somerset
    And say withal I think he held the right. 960
  • Vernon. Stay, lords and gentlemen, and pluck no more,
    Till you conclude that he upon whose side
    The fewest roses are cropp'd from the tree
    Shall yield the other in the right opinion.
  • Duke/Earl of Somerset. Good Master Vernon, it is well objected: 965
    If I have fewest, I subscribe in silence.
  • Vernon. Then for the truth and plainness of the case.
    I pluck this pale and maiden blossom here, 970
    Giving my verdict on the white rose side.
  • Duke/Earl of Somerset. Prick not your finger as you pluck it off,
    Lest bleeding you do paint the white rose red
    And fall on my side so, against your will.
  • Vernon. If I my lord, for my opinion bleed, 975
    Opinion shall be surgeon to my hurt
    And keep me on the side where still I am.
  • Lawyer. Unless my study and my books be false,
    The argument you held was wrong in you: 980
    In sign whereof I pluck a white rose too.
  • Duke/Earl of Somerset. Here in my scabbard, meditating that 985
    Shall dye your white rose in a bloody red.
  • Duke/Earl of Somerset. No, Plantagenet,
    'Tis not for fear but anger that thy cheeks
    Blush for pure shame to counterfeit our roses,
    And yet thy tongue will not confess thy error.
  • Duke/Earl of Somerset. Well, I'll find friends to wear my bleeding roses,
    That shall maintain what I have said is true,
    Where false Plantagenet dare not be seen.
  • Earl of Warwick. Now, by God's will, thou wrong'st him, Somerset;
    His grandfather was Lionel Duke of Clarence,
    Third son to the third Edward King of England: 1015
    Spring crestless yeomen from so deep a root?
  • Duke/Earl of Somerset. By him that made me, I'll maintain my words 1020
    On any plot of ground in Christendom.
    Was not thy father, Richard Earl of Cambridge,
    For treason executed in our late king's days?
    And, by his treason, stand'st not thou attainted,
    Corrupted, and exempt from ancient gentry? 1025
    His trespass yet lives guilty in thy blood;
    And, till thou be restored, thou art a yeoman.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). My father was attached, not attainted,
    Condemn'd to die for treason, but no traitor; 1030
    And that I'll prove on better men than Somerset,
    Were growing time once ripen'd to my will.
    For your partaker Pole and you yourself,
    I'll note you in my book of memory,
    To scourge you for this apprehension: 1035
    Look to it well and say you are well warn'd.
  • Duke/Earl of Somerset. Ah, thou shalt find us ready for thee still;
    And know us by these colours for thy foes,
    For these my friends in spite of thee shall wear.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). And, by my soul, this pale and angry rose,
    As cognizance of my blood-drinking hate,
    Will I for ever and my faction wear,
    Until it wither with me to my grave
    Or flourish to the height of my degree. 1045
  • Earl of Suffolk. Go forward and be choked with thy ambition!
    And so farewell until I meet thee next.



  • Earl of Warwick. This blot that they object against your house
    Shall be wiped out in the next parliament
    Call'd for the truce of Winchester and Gloucester; 1055
    And if thou be not then created York,
    I will not live to be accounted Warwick.
    Meantime, in signal of my love to thee,
    Against proud Somerset and William Pole,
    Will I upon thy party wear this rose: 1060
    And here I prophesy: this brawl to-day,
    Grown to this faction in the Temple-garden,
    Shall send between the red rose and the white
    A thousand souls to death and deadly night.
  • Vernon. In your behalf still will I wear the same.


. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 5

The Tower of London.


[Enter MORTIMER, brought in a chair, and Gaolers]

  • Edmund Mortimer. Kind keepers of my weak decaying age,
    Let dying Mortimer here rest himself.
    Even like a man new haled from the rack,
    So fare my limbs with long imprisonment.
    And these grey locks, the pursuivants of death, 1080
    Nestor-like aged in an age of care,
    Argue the end of Edmund Mortimer.
    These eyes, like lamps whose wasting oil is spent,
    Wax dim, as drawing to their exigent;
    Weak shoulders, overborne with burthening grief, 1085
    And pithless arms, like to a wither'd vine
    That droops his sapless branches to the ground;
    Yet are these feet, whose strengthless stay is numb,
    Unable to support this lump of clay,
    Swift-winged with desire to get a grave, 1090
    As witting I no other comfort have.
    But tell me, keeper, will my nephew come?
  • First Gaoler. Richard Plantagenet, my lord, will come:
    We sent unto the Temple, unto his chamber;
    And answer was return'd that he will come. 1095
  • Edmund Mortimer. Enough: my soul shall then be satisfied.
    Poor gentleman! his wrong doth equal mine.
    Since Henry Monmouth first began to reign,
    Before whose glory I was great in arms,
    This loathsome sequestration have I had: 1100
    And even since then hath Richard been obscured,
    Deprived of honour and inheritance.
    But now the arbitrator of despairs,
    Just death, kind umpire of men's miseries,
    With sweet enlargement doth dismiss me hence: 1105
    I would his troubles likewise were expired,
    That so he might recover what was lost.


  • Edmund Mortimer. Direct mine arms I may embrace his neck,
    And in his bosom spend my latter gasp: 1115
    O, tell me when my lips do touch his cheeks,
    That I may kindly give one fainting kiss.
    And now declare, sweet stem from York's great stock,
    Why didst thou say, of late thou wert despised?
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). First, lean thine aged back against mine arm;
    And, in that ease, I'll tell thee my disease.
    This day, in argument upon a case,
    Some words there grew 'twixt Somerset and me;
    Among which terms he used his lavish tongue 1125
    And did upbraid me with my father's death:
    Which obloquy set bars before my tongue,
    Else with the like I had requited him.
    Therefore, good uncle, for my father's sake,
    In honour of a true Plantagenet 1130
    And for alliance sake, declare the cause
    My father, Earl of Cambridge, lost his head.
  • Edmund Mortimer. That cause, fair nephew, that imprison'd me
    And hath detain'd me all my flowering youth
    Within a loathsome dungeon, there to pine, 1135
    Was cursed instrument of his decease.
  • Edmund Mortimer. I will, if that my fading breath permit 1140
    And death approach not ere my tale be done.
    Henry the Fourth, grandfather to this king,
    Deposed his nephew Richard, Edward's son,
    The first-begotten and the lawful heir,
    Of Edward king, the third of that descent: 1145
    During whose reign the Percies of the north,
    Finding his usurpation most unjust,
    Endeavor'd my advancement to the throne:
    The reason moved these warlike lords to this
    Was, for that—young King Richard thus removed, 1150
    Leaving no heir begotten of his body—
    I was the next by birth and parentage;
    For by my mother I derived am
    From Lionel Duke of Clarence, the third son
    To King Edward the Third; whereas he 1155
    From John of Gaunt doth bring his pedigree,
    Being but fourth of that heroic line.
    But mark: as in this haughty attempt
    They laboured to plant the rightful heir,
    I lost my liberty and they their lives. 1160
    Long after this, when Henry the Fifth,
    Succeeding his father Bolingbroke, did reign,
    Thy father, Earl of Cambridge, then derived
    From famous Edmund Langley, Duke of York,
    Marrying my sister that thy mother was, 1165
    Again in pity of my hard distress
    Levied an army, weening to redeem
    And have install'd me in the diadem:
    But, as the rest, so fell that noble earl
    And was beheaded. Thus the Mortimers, 1170
    In whom the tide rested, were suppress'd.
  • Edmund Mortimer. True; and thou seest that I no issue have
    And that my fainting words do warrant death; 1175
    Thou art my heir; the rest I wish thee gather:
    But yet be wary in thy studious care.
  • Edmund Mortimer. With silence, nephew, be thou politic:
    Strong-fixed is the house of Lancaster,
    And like a mountain, not to be removed.
    But now thy uncle is removing hence: 1185
    As princes do their courts, when they are cloy'd
    With long continuance in a settled place.
  • Edmund Mortimer. Thou dost then wrong me, as that slaughterer doth
    Which giveth many wounds when one will kill.
    Mourn not, except thou sorrow for my good;
    Only give order for my funeral:
    And so farewell, and fair be all thy hopes 1195
    And prosperous be thy life in peace and war!


  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). And peace, no war, befall thy parting soul!
    In prison hast thou spent a pilgrimage 1200
    And like a hermit overpass'd thy days.
    Well, I will lock his counsel in my breast;
    And what I do imagine let that rest.
    Keepers, convey him hence, and I myself
    Will see his burial better than his life. 1205
    [Exeunt Gaolers, bearing out the body of MORTIMER]
    Here dies the dusky torch of Mortimer,
    Choked with ambition of the meaner sort:
    And for those wrongs, those bitter injuries,
    Which Somerset hath offer'd to my house: 1210
    I doubt not but with honour to redress;
    And therefore haste I to the parliament,
    Either to be restored to my blood,
    Or make my ill the advantage of my good.