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History of Henry VI, Part I

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Act IV, Scene 1

Paris. A hall of state.



  • Winchester. God save King Henry, of that name the sixth! 1760
  • Duke of Gloucester. Now, governor of Paris, take your oath,
    That you elect no other king but him;
    Esteem none friends but such as are his friends,
    And none your foes but such as shall pretend
    Malicious practises against his state: 1765
    This shall ye do, so help you righteous God!


  • Sir John Fastolfe. My gracious sovereign, as I rode from Calais,
    To haste unto your coronation,
    A letter was deliver'd to my hands, 1770
    Writ to your grace from the Duke of Burgundy.
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. Shame to the Duke of Burgundy and thee!
    I vow'd, base knight, when I did meet thee next,
    To tear the garter from thy craven's leg,
    [Plucking it off] 1775
    Which I have done, because unworthily
    Thou wast installed in that high degree.
    Pardon me, princely Henry, and the rest
    This dastard, at the battle of Patay,
    When but in all I was six thousand strong 1780
    And that the French were almost ten to one,
    Before we met or that a stroke was given,
    Like to a trusty squire did run away:
    In which assault we lost twelve hundred men;
    Myself and divers gentlemen beside 1785
    Were there surprised and taken prisoners.
    Then judge, great lords, if I have done amiss;
    Or whether that such cowards ought to wear
    This ornament of knighthood, yea or no.
  • Duke of Gloucester. To say the truth, this fact was infamous 1790
    And ill beseeming any common man,
    Much more a knight, a captain and a leader.
  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. When first this order was ordain'd, my lords,
    Knights of the garter were of noble birth,
    Valiant and virtuous, full of haughty courage, 1795
    Such as were grown to credit by the wars;
    Not fearing death, nor shrinking for distress,
    But always resolute in most extremes.
    He then that is not furnish'd in this sort
    Doth but usurp the sacred name of knight, 1800
    Profaning this most honourable order,
    And should, if I were worthy to be judge,
    Be quite degraded, like a hedge-born swain
    That doth presume to boast of gentle blood.
  • Henry VI. Stain to thy countrymen, thou hear'st thy doom! 1805
    Be packing, therefore, thou that wast a knight:
    Henceforth we banish thee, on pain of death.
    [Exit FASTOLFE]
    And now, my lord protector, view the letter
    Sent from our uncle Duke of Burgundy. 1810
  • Duke of Gloucester. What means his grace, that he hath changed his style?
    No more but, plain and bluntly, 'To the king!'
    Hath he forgot he is his sovereign?
    Or doth this churlish superscription
    Pretend some alteration in good will? 1815
    What's here?
    'I have, upon especial cause,
    Moved with compassion of my country's wreck,
    Together with the pitiful complaints 1820
    Of such as your oppression feeds upon,
    Forsaken your pernicious faction
    And join'd with Charles, the rightful King of France.'
    O monstrous treachery! can this be so,
    That in alliance, amity and oaths, 1825
    There should be found such false dissembling guile?
  • Henry VI. What! doth my uncle Burgundy revolt?
  • Henry VI. Is that the worst this letter doth contain?
  • Henry VI. Why, then, Lord Talbot there shall talk with him
    And give him chastisement for this abuse.
    How say you, my lord? are you not content?
  • Henry VI. Then gather strength and march unto him straight:
    Let him perceive how ill we brook his treason
    And what offence it is to flout his friends.



  • Vernon. Grant me the combat, gracious sovereign.
  • Basset. And me, my lord, grant me the combat too.
  • Henry VI. Be patient, lords; and give them leave to speak.
    Say, gentlemen, what makes you thus exclaim?
    And wherefore crave you combat? or with whom?
  • Vernon. With him, my lord; for he hath done me wrong. 1850
  • Basset. And I with him; for he hath done me wrong.
  • Henry VI. What is that wrong whereof you both complain?
    First let me know, and then I'll answer you.
  • Basset. Crossing the sea from England into France,
    This fellow here, with envious carping tongue, 1855
    Upbraided me about the rose I wear;
    Saying, the sanguine colour of the leaves
    Did represent my master's blushing cheeks,
    When stubbornly he did repugn the truth
    About a certain question in the law 1860
    Argued betwixt the Duke of York and him;
    With other vile and ignominious terms:
    In confutation of which rude reproach
    And in defence of my lord's worthiness,
    I crave the benefit of law of arms. 1865
  • Vernon. And that is my petition, noble lord:
    For though he seem with forged quaint conceit
    To set a gloss upon his bold intent,
    Yet know, my lord, I was provoked by him;
    And he first took exceptions at this badge, 1870
    Pronouncing that the paleness of this flower
    Bewray'd the faintness of my master's heart.
  • Duke/Earl of Somerset. Your private grudge, my Lord of York, will out,
    Though ne'er so cunningly you smother it. 1875
  • Henry VI. Good Lord, what madness rules in brainsick men,
    When for so slight and frivolous a cause
    Such factious emulations shall arise!
    Good cousins both, of York and Somerset,
    Quiet yourselves, I pray, and be at peace. 1880
  • Vernon. Nay, let it rest where it began at first.
  • Basset. Confirm it so, mine honourable lord.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Confirm it so! Confounded be your strife!
    And perish ye, with your audacious prate!
    Presumptuous vassals, are you not ashamed 1890
    With this immodest clamorous outrage
    To trouble and disturb the king and us?
    And you, my lords, methinks you do not well
    To bear with their perverse objections;
    Much less to take occasion from their mouths 1895
    To raise a mutiny betwixt yourselves:
    Let me persuade you take a better course.
  • Henry VI. Come hither, you that would be combatants:
    Henceforth I charge you, as you love our favour, 1900
    Quite to forget this quarrel and the cause.
    And you, my lords, remember where we are,
    In France, amongst a fickle wavering nation:
    If they perceive dissension in our looks
    And that within ourselves we disagree, 1905
    How will their grudging stomachs be provoked
    To wilful disobedience, and rebel!
    Beside, what infamy will there arise,
    When foreign princes shall be certified
    That for a toy, a thing of no regard, 1910
    King Henry's peers and chief nobility
    Destroy'd themselves, and lost the realm of France!
    O, think upon the conquest of my father,
    My tender years, and let us not forego
    That for a trifle that was bought with blood 1915
    Let me be umpire in this doubtful strife.
    I see no reason, if I wear this rose,
    [Putting on a red rose]
    That any one should therefore be suspicious
    I more incline to Somerset than York: 1920
    Both are my kinsmen, and I love them both:
    As well they may upbraid me with my crown,
    Because, forsooth, the king of Scots is crown'd.
    But your discretions better can persuade
    Than I am able to instruct or teach: 1925
    And therefore, as we hither came in peace,
    So let us still continue peace and love.
    Cousin of York, we institute your grace
    To be our regent in these parts of France:
    And, good my Lord of Somerset, unite 1930
    Your troops of horsemen with his bands of foot;
    And, like true subjects, sons of your progenitors,
    Go cheerfully together and digest.
    Your angry choler on your enemies.
    Ourself, my lord protector and the rest 1935
    After some respite will return to Calais;
    From thence to England; where I hope ere long
    To be presented, by your victories,
    With Charles, Alencon and that traitorous rout.
    [Flourish. Exeunt all but YORK, WARWICK, EXETER] 1940
    and VERNON]
  • Earl of Warwick. My Lord of York, I promise you, the king
    Prettily, methought, did play the orator.
  • Earl of Warwick. Tush, that was but his fancy, blame him not;
    I dare presume, sweet prince, he thought no harm.

[Exeunt all but EXETER]

  • Duke of Exeter. Well didst thou, Richard, to suppress thy voice;
    For, had the passions of thy heart burst out,
    I fear we should have seen decipher'd there
    More rancorous spite, more furious raging broils,
    Than yet can be imagined or supposed. 1955
    But howsoe'er, no simple man that sees
    This jarring discord of nobility,
    This shouldering of each other in the court,
    This factious bandying of their favourites,
    But that it doth presage some ill event. 1960
    'Tis much when sceptres are in children's hands;
    But more when envy breeds unkind division;
    There comes the rain, there begins confusion.