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History of Henry VI, Part I

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Act IV, Scene 2

Before Bourdeaux.


[Enter TALBOT, with trump and drum]

  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. Go to the gates of Bourdeaux, trumpeter:
    Summon their general unto the wall.
    [Trumpet sounds. Enter General and others, aloft]
    English John Talbot, captains, calls you forth,
    Servant in arms to Harry King of England; 1970
    And thus he would: Open your city gates;
    Be humble to us; call my sovereign yours,
    And do him homage as obedient subjects;
    And I'll withdraw me and my bloody power:
    But, if you frown upon this proffer'd peace, 1975
    You tempt the fury of my three attendants,
    Lean famine, quartering steel, and climbing fire;
    Who in a moment even with the earth
    Shall lay your stately and air-braving towers,
    If you forsake the offer of their love. 1980
  • General. Thou ominous and fearful owl of death,
    Our nation's terror and their bloody scourge!
    The period of thy tyranny approacheth.
    On us thou canst not enter but by death;
    For, I protest, we are well fortified 1985
    And strong enough to issue out and fight:
    If thou retire, the Dauphin, well appointed,
    Stands with the snares of war to tangle thee:
    On either hand thee there are squadrons pitch'd,
    To wall thee from the liberty of flight; 1990
    And no way canst thou turn thee for redress,
    But death doth front thee with apparent spoil
    And pale destruction meets thee in the face.
    Ten thousand French have ta'en the sacrament
    To rive their dangerous artillery 1995
    Upon no Christian soul but English Talbot.
    Lo, there thou stand'st, a breathing valiant man,
    Of an invincible unconquer'd spirit!
    This is the latest glory of thy praise
    That I, thy enemy, due thee withal; 2000
    For ere the glass, that now begins to run,
    Finish the process of his sandy hour,
    These eyes, that see thee now well coloured,
    Shall see thee wither'd, bloody, pale and dead.
    [Drum afar off] 2005
    Hark! hark! the Dauphin's drum, a warning bell,
    Sings heavy music to thy timorous soul;
    And mine shall ring thy dire departure out.

[Exeunt General, &c]

  • Lord Talbot/Earl of Shrewsbury. He fables not; I hear the enemy: 2010
    Out, some light horsemen, and peruse their wings.
    O, negligent and heedless discipline!
    How are we park'd and bounded in a pale,
    A little herd of England's timorous deer,
    Mazed with a yelping kennel of French curs! 2015
    If we be English deer, be then in blood;
    Not rascal-like, to fall down with a pinch,
    But rather, moody-mad and desperate stags,
    Turn on the bloody hounds with heads of steel
    And make the cowards stand aloof at bay: 2020
    Sell every man his life as dear as mine,
    And they shall find dear deer of us, my friends.
    God and Saint George, Talbot and England's right,
    Prosper our colours in this dangerous fight!