Open Source Shakespeare

History of Henry VI, Part II

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Act I, Scene 2




  • Eleanor. Why droops my lord, like over-ripen'd corn,
    Hanging the head at Ceres' plenteous load? 275
    Why doth the great Duke Humphrey knit his brows,
    As frowning at the favours of the world?
    Why are thine eyes fixed to the sullen earth,
    Gazing on that which seems to dim thy sight?
    What seest thou there? King Henry's diadem, 280
    Enchased with all the honours of the world?
    If so, gaze on, and grovel on thy face,
    Until thy head be circled with the same.
    Put forth thy hand, reach at the glorious gold.
    What, is't too short? I'll lengthen it with mine: 285
    And, having both together heaved it up,
    We'll both together lift our heads to heaven,
    And never more abase our sight so low
    As to vouchsafe one glance unto the ground.
  • Duke of Gloucester. O Nell, sweet Nell, if thou dost love thy lord, 290
    Banish the canker of ambitious thoughts.
    And may that thought, when I imagine ill
    Against my king and nephew, virtuous Henry,
    Be my last breathing in this mortal world!
    My troublous dream this night doth make me sad. 295
  • Eleanor. What dream'd my lord? tell me, and I'll requite it
    With sweet rehearsal of my morning's dream.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Methought this staff, mine office-badge in court,
    Was broke in twain; by whom I have forgot,
    But, as I think, it was by the cardinal; 300
    And on the pieces of the broken wand
    Were placed the heads of Edmund Duke of Somerset,
    And William de la Pole, first duke of Suffolk.
    This was my dream: what it doth bode, God knows.
  • Eleanor. Tut, this was nothing but an argument 305
    That he that breaks a stick of Gloucester's grove
    Shall lose his head for his presumption.
    But list to me, my Humphrey, my sweet duke:
    Methought I sat in seat of majesty
    In the cathedral church of Westminster, 310
    And in that chair where kings and queens are crown'd;
    Where Henry and dame Margaret kneel'd to me
    And on my head did set the diadem.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Nay, Eleanor, then must I chide outright:
    Presumptuous dame, ill-nurtured Eleanor, 315
    Art thou not second woman in the realm,
    And the protector's wife, beloved of him?
    Hast thou not worldly pleasure at command,
    Above the reach or compass of thy thought?
    And wilt thou still be hammering treachery, 320
    To tumble down thy husband and thyself
    From top of honour to disgrace's feet?
    Away from me, and let me hear no more!
  • Eleanor. What, what, my lord! are you so choleric
    With Eleanor, for telling but her dream? 325
    Next time I'll keep my dreams unto myself,
    And not be cheque'd.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Nay, be not angry; I am pleased again.

[Enter Messenger]

  • Messenger. My lord protector, 'tis his highness' pleasure 330
    You do prepare to ride unto Saint Alban's,
    Where as the king and queen do mean to hawk.
  • Duke of Gloucester. I go. Come, Nell, thou wilt ride with us?
  • Eleanor. Yes, my good lord, I'll follow presently.
    [Exeunt GLOUCESTER and Messenger] 335
    Follow I must; I cannot go before,
    While Gloucester bears this base and humble mind.
    Were I a man, a duke, and next of blood,
    I would remove these tedious stumbling-blocks
    And smooth my way upon their headless necks; 340
    And, being a woman, I will not be slack
    To play my part in Fortune's pageant.
    Where are you there? Sir John! nay, fear not, man,
    We are alone; here's none but thee and I.

[Enter HUME]

  • Father John Hume. Jesus preserve your royal majesty!
  • Eleanor. What say'st thou? majesty! I am but grace.
  • Father John Hume. But, by the grace of God, and Hume's advice,
    Your grace's title shall be multiplied.
  • Eleanor. What say'st thou, man? hast thou as yet conferr'd 350
    With Margery Jourdain, the cunning witch,
    With Roger Bolingbroke, the conjurer?
    And will they undertake to do me good?
  • Father John Hume. This they have promised, to show your highness
    A spirit raised from depth of under-ground, 355
    That shall make answer to such questions
    As by your grace shall be propounded him.
  • Eleanor. It is enough; I'll think upon the questions:
    When from St. Alban's we do make return,
    We'll see these things effected to the full. 360
    Here, Hume, take this reward; make merry, man,
    With thy confederates in this weighty cause.


  • Father John Hume. Hume must make merry with the duchess' gold;
    Marry, and shall. But how now, Sir John Hume! 365
    Seal up your lips, and give no words but mum:
    The business asketh silent secrecy.
    Dame Eleanor gives gold to bring the witch:
    Gold cannot come amiss, were she a devil.
    Yet have I gold flies from another coast; 370
    I dare not say, from the rich cardinal
    And from the great and new-made Duke of Suffolk,
    Yet I do find it so; for to be plain,
    They, knowing Dame Eleanor's aspiring humour,
    Have hired me to undermine the duchess 375
    And buz these conjurations in her brain.
    They say 'A crafty knave does need no broker;'
    Yet am I Suffolk and the cardinal's broker.
    Hume, if you take not heed, you shall go near
    To call them both a pair of crafty knaves. 380
    Well, so it stands; and thus, I fear, at last
    Hume's knavery will be the duchess' wreck,
    And her attainture will be Humphrey's fall:
    Sort how it will, I shall have gold for all.