Open Source Shakespeare

History of Henry VI, Part II

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Act II, Scene 1

Saint Alban’s.



  • Queen Margaret. Believe me, lords, for flying at the brook,
    I saw not better sport these seven years' day:
    Yet, by your leave, the wind was very high;
    And, ten to one, old Joan had not gone out. 730
  • Henry VI. But what a point, my lord, your falcon made,
    And what a pitch she flew above the rest!
    To see how God in all his creatures works!
    Yea, man and birds are fain of climbing high.
  • Earl of Suffolk. No marvel, an it like your majesty, 735
    My lord protector's hawks do tower so well;
    They know their master loves to be aloft,
    And bears his thoughts above his falcon's pitch.
  • Duke of Gloucester. My lord, 'tis but a base ignoble mind
    That mounts no higher than a bird can soar. 740
  • Winchester. I thought as much; he would be above the clouds.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Ay, my lord cardinal? how think you by that?
    Were it not good your grace could fly to heaven?
  • Henry VI. The treasury of everlasting joy.
  • Winchester. Thy heaven is on earth; thine eyes and thoughts 745
    Beat on a crown, the treasure of thy heart;
    Pernicious protector, dangerous peer,
    That smooth'st it so with king and commonweal!
  • Duke of Gloucester. What, cardinal, is your priesthood grown peremptory?
    Tantaene animis coelestibus irae? 750
    Churchmen so hot? good uncle, hide such malice;
    With such holiness can you do it?
  • Earl of Suffolk. No malice, sir; no more than well becomes
    So good a quarrel and so bad a peer.
  • Duke of Gloucester. As who, my lord? 755
  • Earl of Suffolk. Why, as you, my lord,
    An't like your lordly lord-protectorship.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Why, Suffolk, England knows thine insolence.
  • Queen Margaret. And thy ambition, Gloucester.
  • Henry VI. I prithee, peace, good queen, 760
    And whet not on these furious peers;
    For blessed are the peacemakers on earth.
  • Winchester. Let me be blessed for the peace I make,
    Against this proud protector, with my sword!
  • Duke of Gloucester. [Aside to CARDINAL] Faith, holy uncle, would 765
    'twere come to that!
  • Winchester. [Aside to GLOUCESTER] Marry, when thou darest.
  • Duke of Gloucester. [Aside to CARDINAL] Make up no factious
    numbers for the matter;
    In thine own person answer thy abuse. 770
  • Winchester. [Aside to GLOUCESTER] Ay, where thou darest
    not peep: an if thou darest,
    This evening, on the east side of the grove.
  • Henry VI. How now, my lords!
  • Winchester. Believe me, cousin Gloucester, 775
    Had not your man put up the fowl so suddenly,
    We had had more sport.
    [Aside to GLOUCESTER]
    Come with thy two-hand sword.
  • Duke of Gloucester. True, uncle. 780
  • Winchester. [Aside to GLOUCESTER] Are ye advised? the
    east side of the grove?
  • Duke of Gloucester. [Aside to CARDINAL] Cardinal, I am with you.
  • Henry VI. Why, how now, uncle Gloucester!
  • Duke of Gloucester. Talking of hawking; nothing else, my lord. 785
    [Aside to CARDINAL]
    Now, by God's mother, priest, I'll shave your crown for this,
    Or all my fence shall fail.
  • Winchester. [Aside to GLOUCESTER] Medice, teipsum—
    Protector, see to't well, protect yourself. 790
  • Henry VI. The winds grow high; so do your stomachs, lords.
    How irksome is this music to my heart!
    When such strings jar, what hope of harmony?
    I pray, my lords, let me compound this strife.

[Enter a Townsman of Saint Alban's, crying 'A miracle!']

  • Duke of Gloucester. What means this noise?
    Fellow, what miracle dost thou proclaim?
  • Townsman. A miracle! a miracle!
  • Earl of Suffolk. Come to the king and tell him what miracle.
  • Townsman. Forsooth, a blind man at Saint Alban's shrine, 800
    Within this half-hour, hath received his sight;
    A man that ne'er saw in his life before.
  • Henry VI. Now, God be praised, that to believing souls
    Gives light in darkness, comfort in despair!
    [Enter the Mayor of Saint Alban's and his] 805
    brethren, bearing SIMPCOX, between two in a
    chair, SIMPCOX's Wife following]
  • Winchester. Here comes the townsmen on procession,
    To present your highness with the man.
  • Henry VI. Great is his comfort in this earthly vale, 810
    Although by his sight his sin be multiplied.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Stand by, my masters: bring him near the king;
    His highness' pleasure is to talk with him.
  • Henry VI. Good fellow, tell us here the circumstance,
    That we for thee may glorify the Lord. 815
    What, hast thou been long blind and now restored?
  • Simpcox. Born blind, an't please your grace.
  • Simpcox's Wife. Ay, indeed, was he.
  • Earl of Suffolk. What woman is this?
  • Simpcox's Wife. His wife, an't like your worship. 820
  • Duke of Gloucester. Hadst thou been his mother, thou couldst have
    better told.
  • Henry VI. Where wert thou born?
  • Simpcox. At Berwick in the north, an't like your grace.
  • Henry VI. Poor soul, God's goodness hath been great to thee: 825
    Let never day nor night unhallow'd pass,
    But still remember what the Lord hath done.
  • Queen Margaret. Tell me, good fellow, camest thou here by chance,
    Or of devotion, to this holy shrine?
  • Simpcox. God knows, of pure devotion; being call'd 830
    A hundred times and oftener, in my sleep,
    By good Saint Alban; who said, 'Simpcox, come,
    Come, offer at my shrine, and I will help thee.'
  • Simpcox's Wife. Most true, forsooth; and many time and oft
    Myself have heard a voice to call him so. 835
  • Winchester. What, art thou lame?
  • Simpcox. Ay, God Almighty help me!
  • Earl of Suffolk. How camest thou so?
  • Simpcox. A fall off of a tree.
  • Simpcox's Wife. A plum-tree, master. 840
  • Duke of Gloucester. How long hast thou been blind?
  • Simpcox. Born so, master.
  • Duke of Gloucester. What, and wouldst climb a tree?
  • Simpcox. But that in all my life, when I was a youth.
  • Simpcox's Wife. Too true; and bought his climbing very dear. 845
  • Duke of Gloucester. Mass, thou lovedst plums well, that wouldst
    venture so.
  • Simpcox. Alas, good master, my wife desired some damsons,
    And made me climb, with danger of my life.
  • Duke of Gloucester. A subtle knave! but yet it shall not serve. 850
    Let me see thine eyes: wink now: now open them:
    In my opinion yet thou seest not well.
  • Simpcox. Yes, master, clear as day, I thank God and
    Saint Alban.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Say'st thou me so? What colour is this cloak of? 855
  • Simpcox. Red, master; red as blood.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Why, that's well said. What colour is my gown of?
  • Simpcox. Black, forsooth: coal-black as jet.
  • Henry VI. Why, then, thou know'st what colour jet is of?
  • Earl of Suffolk. And yet, I think, jet did he never see. 860
  • Duke of Gloucester. But cloaks and gowns, before this day, a many.
  • Simpcox's Wife. Never, before this day, in all his life.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Tell me, sirrah, what's my name?
  • Simpcox. Alas, master, I know not.
  • Duke of Gloucester. What's his name? 865
  • Simpcox. I know not.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Nor his?
  • Simpcox. No, indeed, master.
  • Duke of Gloucester. What's thine own name?
  • Simpcox. Saunder Simpcox, an if it please you, master. 870
  • Duke of Gloucester. Then, Saunder, sit there, the lyingest knave in
    Christendom. If thou hadst been born blind, thou
    mightest as well have known all our names as thus to
    name the several colours we do wear. Sight may
    distinguish of colours, but suddenly to nominate them 875
    all, it is impossible. My lords, Saint Alban here
    hath done a miracle; and would ye not think his
    cunning to be great, that could restore this cripple
    to his legs again?
  • Simpcox. O master, that you could! 880
  • Duke of Gloucester. My masters of Saint Alban's, have you not beadles in
    your town, and things called whips?
  • Mayor of Saint Alban's. Yes, my lord, if it please your grace.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Then send for one presently.
  • Mayor of Saint Alban's. Sirrah, go fetch the beadle hither straight. 885

[Exit an Attendant]

  • Duke of Gloucester. Now fetch me a stool hither by and by. Now, sirrah,
    if you mean to save yourself from whipping, leap me
    over this stool and run away.
  • Simpcox. Alas, master, I am not able to stand alone: 890
    You go about to torture me in vain.

[Enter a Beadle with whips]

  • Duke of Gloucester. Well, sir, we must have you find your legs. Sirrah
    beadle, whip him till he leap over that same stool.
  • Beadle. I will, my lord. Come on, sirrah; off with your 895
    doublet quickly.
  • Simpcox. Alas, master, what shall I do? I am not able to stand.
    [After the Beadle hath hit him once, he leaps over]
    the stool and runs away; and they follow and cry, 'A miracle!']
  • Henry VI. O God, seest Thou this, and bearest so long? 900
  • Queen Margaret. It made me laugh to see the villain run.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Follow the knave; and take this drab away.
  • Simpcox's Wife. Alas, sir, we did it for pure need.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Let them be whipped through every market-town, till
    they come to Berwick, from whence they came. 905

[Exeunt Wife, Beadle, Mayor, &c]

  • Winchester. Duke Humphrey has done a miracle to-day.
  • Earl of Suffolk. True; made the lame to leap and fly away.
  • Duke of Gloucester. But you have done more miracles than I;
    You made in a day, my lord, whole towns to fly. 910


  • Henry VI. What tidings with our cousin Buckingham?
  • Duke of Buckingham. Such as my heart doth tremble to unfold.
    A sort of naughty persons, lewdly bent,
    Under the countenance and confederacy 915
    Of Lady Eleanor, the protector's wife,
    The ringleader and head of all this rout,
    Have practised dangerously against your state,
    Dealing with witches and with conjurers:
    Whom we have apprehended in the fact; 920
    Raising up wicked spirits from under ground,
    Demanding of King Henry's life and death,
    And other of your highness' privy-council;
    As more at large your grace shall understand.
  • Winchester. [Aside to GLOUCESTER] And so, my lord protector, 925
    by this means
    Your lady is forthcoming yet at London.
    This news, I think, hath turn'd your weapon's edge;
    'Tis like, my lord, you will not keep your hour.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Ambitious churchman, leave to afflict my heart: 930
    Sorrow and grief have vanquish'd all my powers;
    And, vanquish'd as I am, I yield to thee,
    Or to the meanest groom.
  • Henry VI. O God, what mischiefs work the wicked ones,
    Heaping confusion on their own heads thereby! 935
  • Queen Margaret. Gloucester, see here the tainture of thy nest.
    And look thyself be faultless, thou wert best.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Madam, for myself, to heaven I do appeal,
    How I have loved my king and commonweal:
    And, for my wife, I know not how it stands; 940
    Sorry I am to hear what I have heard:
    Noble she is, but if she have forgot
    Honour and virtue and conversed with such
    As, like to pitch, defile nobility,
    I banish her my bed and company 945
    And give her as a prey to law and shame,
    That hath dishonour'd Gloucester's honest name.
  • Henry VI. Well, for this night we will repose us here:
    To-morrow toward London back again,
    To look into this business thoroughly 950
    And call these foul offenders to their answers
    And poise the cause in justice' equal scales,
    Whose beam stands sure, whose rightful cause prevails.

[Flourish. Exeunt]