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History of Henry VI, Part I

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Act III, Scene 2

France. Before Rouen.


[Enter JOAN LA PUCELLE disguised, with four Soldiers] [p]with sacks upon their backs]

  • Joan la Pucelle. These are the city gates, the gates of Rouen, 1440
    Through which our policy must make a breach:
    Take heed, be wary how you place your words;
    Talk like the vulgar sort of market men
    That come to gather money for their corn.
    If we have entrance, as I hope we shall, 1445
    And that we find the slothful watch but weak,
    I'll by a sign give notice to our friends,
    That Charles the Dauphin may encounter them.
  • First Soldier. Our sacks shall be a mean to sack the city,
    And we be lords and rulers over Rouen; 1450
    Therefore we'll knock.


  • Watch. [Within] Qui est la?
  • Joan la Pucelle. Paysans, pauvres gens de France;
    Poor market folks that come to sell their corn. 1455
  • Watch. Enter, go in; the market bell is rung.
  • Joan la Pucelle. Now, Rouen, I'll shake thy bulwarks to the ground.
    REIGNIER, and forces] 1460
  • Bastard of Orleans. Here enter'd Pucelle and her practisants;
    Now she is there, how will she specify
    Where is the best and safest passage in? 1465
  • Reignier. By thrusting out a torch from yonder tower;
    Which, once discern'd, shows that her meaning is,
    No way to that, for weakness, which she enter'd.
    [Enter JOAN LA PUCELLE on the top, thrusting out a]
    torch burning] 1470
  • Joan la Pucelle. Behold, this is the happy wedding torch
    That joineth Rouen unto her countrymen,
    But burning fatal to the Talbotites!


  • Bastard of Orleans. See, noble Charles, the beacon of our friend; 1475
    The burning torch in yonder turret stands.
  • Reignier. Defer no time, delays have dangerous ends;
    Enter, and cry 'The Dauphin!' presently, 1480
    And then do execution on the watch.

[Alarum. Exeunt]

[An alarum. Enter TALBOT in an excursion]

  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. France, thou shalt rue this treason with thy tears,
    If Talbot but survive thy treachery. 1485
    Pucelle, that witch, that damned sorceress,
    Hath wrought this hellish mischief unawares,
    That hardly we escaped the pride of France.
    [An alarum: excursions. BEDFORD, brought in sick] 1490
    in a chair. Enter TALBOT and BURGUNDY without:
    ALENCON, and REIGNIER, on the walls]
  • Joan la Pucelle. Good morrow, gallants! want ye corn for bread?
    I think the Duke of Burgundy will fast 1495
    Before he'll buy again at such a rate:
    'Twas full of darnel; do you like the taste?
  • Duke of Burgundy. Scoff on, vile fiend and shameless courtezan!
    I trust ere long to choke thee with thine own
    And make thee curse the harvest of that corn. 1500
  • Joan la Pucelle. What will you do, good grey-beard? break a lance,
    And run a tilt at death within a chair?
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. Foul fiend of France, and hag of all despite, 1505
    Encompass'd with thy lustful paramours!
    Becomes it thee to taunt his valiant age
    And twit with cowardice a man half dead?
    Damsel, I'll have a bout with you again,
    Or else let Talbot perish with this shame. 1510
  • Joan la Pucelle. Are ye so hot, sir? yet, Pucelle, hold thy peace;
    If Talbot do but thunder, rain will follow.
    [The English whisper together in council]
    God speed the parliament! who shall be the speaker?
  • Joan la Pucelle. Belike your lordship takes us then for fools,
    To try if that our own be ours or no.
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. I speak not to that railing Hecate,
    But unto thee, Alencon, and the rest;
    Will ye, like soldiers, come and fight it out? 1520
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. Signior, hang! base muleters of France!
    Like peasant foot-boys do they keep the walls
    And dare not take up arms like gentlemen.
  • Joan la Pucelle. Away, captains! let's get us from the walls; 1525
    For Talbot means no goodness by his looks.
    God be wi' you, my lord! we came but to tell you
    That we are here.

[Exeunt from the walls]

  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. And there will we be too, ere it be long, 1530
    Or else reproach be Talbot's greatest fame!
    Vow, Burgundy, by honour of thy house,
    Prick'd on by public wrongs sustain'd in France,
    Either to get the town again or die:
    And I, as sure as English Henry lives 1535
    And as his father here was conqueror,
    As sure as in this late-betrayed town
    Great Coeur-de-lion's heart was buried,
    So sure I swear to get the town or die.
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. But, ere we go, regard this dying prince,
    The valiant Duke of Bedford. Come, my lord,
    We will bestow you in some better place,
    Fitter for sickness and for crazy age.
  • Duke of Bedford. Lord Talbot, do not so dishonour me: 1545
    Here will I sit before the walls of Rouen
    And will be partner of your weal or woe.
  • Duke of Bedford. Not to be gone from hence; for once I read
    That stout Pendragon in his litter sick 1550
    Came to the field and vanquished his foes:
    Methinks I should revive the soldiers' hearts,
    Because I ever found them as myself.
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. Undaunted spirit in a dying breast!
    Then be it so: heavens keep old Bedford safe! 1555
    And now no more ado, brave Burgundy,
    But gather we our forces out of hand
    And set upon our boasting enemy.
    [Exeunt all but BEDFORD and Attendants]
    [An alarum: excursions. Enter FASTOLFE and] 1560
    a Captain]
  • Captain. Whither away, Sir John Fastolfe, in such haste?
  • Sir John Fastolfe. Whither away! to save myself by flight:
    We are like to have the overthrow again.
  • Captain. What! will you fly, and leave Lord Talbot? 1565


  • Captain. Cowardly knight! ill fortune follow thee!
    [Exit] 1570
    [Retreat: excursions. JOAN LA PUCELLE, ALENCON,]
    and CHARLES fly]
  • Duke of Bedford. Now, quiet soul, depart when heaven please,
    For I have seen our enemies' overthrow.
    What is the trust or strength of foolish man? 1575
    They that of late were daring with their scoffs
    Are glad and fain by flight to save themselves.

[BEDFORD dies, and is carried in by two in his chair]

[An alarum. Re-enter TALBOT, BURGUNDY, and the rest]

  • Duke of Burgundy. Warlike and martial Talbot, Burgundy
    Enshrines thee in his heart and there erects
    Thy noble deeds as valour's monuments. 1585
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. Thanks, gentle duke. But where is Pucelle now?
    I think her old familiar is asleep:
    Now where's the Bastard's braves, and Charles his gleeks?
    What, all amort? Rouen hangs her head for grief
    That such a valiant company are fled. 1590
    Now will we take some order in the town,
    Placing therein some expert officers,
    And then depart to Paris to the king,
    For there young Henry with his nobles lie.
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. But yet, before we go, let's not forget
    The noble Duke of Bedford late deceased,
    But see his exequies fulfill'd in Rouen:
    A braver soldier never couched lance,
    A gentler heart did never sway in court; 1600
    But kings and mightiest potentates must die,
    For that's the end of human misery.