Please wait

The text you requested is loading.
This shouldn't take more than a minute, depending on
the speed of your Internet connection.

progress graphic

The food that to him now is as luscious as locusts, shall be to him shortly as bitter as coloquintida.

      — Othello, Act I Scene 3


Plays  +  Sonnets  +  Poems  +  Concordance  +  Advanced Search  +  About OSS

History of Henry VI, Part II

Act II

print/save print/save view

Scene 1. Saint Alban’s.

Scene 2. London. YORK’S garden.

Scene 3. A hall of justice.

Scene 4. A street.


Act II, Scene 1

Saint Alban’s.

      next scene .


  • 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.
  • Earl of Suffolk. Why, as you, my lord,
    An't like your lordly lord-protectorship.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Winchester. [Aside to GLOUCESTER] Are ye advised? the
    east side of the grove?
  • 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!']

  • 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. 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
  • Simpcox. Ay, God Almighty help me!
  • Simpcox. But that in all my life, when I was a youth.
  • 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.
  • Simpcox. Red, master; red as blood.
  • Simpcox. Black, forsooth: coal-black as jet.
  • Henry VI. Why, then, thou know'st what colour jet is of?
  • Simpcox. Alas, master, I know not.
  • 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?

[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
  • 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.
  • 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]

. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 2

London. YORK’S garden.

      next scene .


  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Now, my good Lords of Salisbury and Warwick,
    Our simple supper ended, give me leave
    In this close walk to satisfy myself,
    In craving your opinion of my title,
    Which is infallible, to England's crown. 960
  • Earl of Warwick. Sweet York, begin: and if thy claim be good,
    The Nevils are thy subjects to command.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Then thus:
    Edward the Third, my lords, had seven sons: 965
    The first, Edward the Black Prince, Prince of Wales;
    The second, William of Hatfield, and the third,
    Lionel Duke of Clarence: next to whom
    Was John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster;
    The fifth was Edmund Langley, Duke of York; 970
    The sixth was Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester;
    William of Windsor was the seventh and last.
    Edward the Black Prince died before his father
    And left behind him Richard, his only son,
    Who after Edward the Third's death reign'd as king; 975
    Till Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster,
    The eldest son and heir of John of Gaunt,
    Crown'd by the name of Henry the Fourth,
    Seized on the realm, deposed the rightful king,
    Sent his poor queen to France, from whence she came, 980
    And him to Pomfret; where, as all you know,
    Harmless Richard was murder'd traitorously.
  • Earl of Warwick. Father, the duke hath told the truth:
    Thus got the house of Lancaster the crown.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). The third son, Duke of Clarence, from whose line
    I claimed the crown, had issue, Philippe, a daughter, 990
    Who married Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March:
    Edmund had issue, Roger Earl of March;
    Roger had issue, Edmund, Anne and Eleanor.
  • Earl of Salisbury. This Edmund, in the reign of Bolingbroke,
    As I have read, laid claim unto the crown; 995
    And, but for Owen Glendower, had been king,
    Who kept him in captivity till he died.
    But to the rest.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). His eldest sister, Anne,
    My mother, being heir unto the crown 1000
    Married Richard Earl of Cambridge; who was son
    To Edmund Langley, Edward the Third's fifth son.
    By her I claim the kingdom: she was heir
    To Roger Earl of March, who was the son
    Of Edmund Mortimer, who married Philippe, 1005
    Sole daughter unto Lionel Duke of Clarence:
    So, if the issue of the elder son
    Succeed before the younger, I am king.
  • Earl of Warwick. What plain proceeding is more plain than this?
    Henry doth claim the crown from John of Gaunt, 1010
    The fourth son; York claims it from the third.
    Till Lionel's issue fails, his should not reign:
    It fails not yet, but flourishes in thee
    And in thy sons, fair slips of such a stock.
    Then, father Salisbury, kneel we together; 1015
    And in this private plot be we the first
    That shall salute our rightful sovereign
    With honour of his birthright to the crown.
  • Both. Long live our sovereign Richard, England's king!
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). We thank you, lords. But I am not your king 1020
    Till I be crown'd and that my sword be stain'd
    With heart-blood of the house of Lancaster;
    And that's not suddenly to be perform'd,
    But with advice and silent secrecy.
    Do you as I do in these dangerous days: 1025
    Wink at the Duke of Suffolk's insolence,
    At Beaufort's pride, at Somerset's ambition,
    At Buckingham and all the crew of them,
    Till they have snared the shepherd of the flock,
    That virtuous prince, the good Duke Humphrey: 1030
    'Tis that they seek, and they in seeking that
    Shall find their deaths, if York can prophesy.
  • Earl of Warwick. My heart assures me that the Earl of Warwick
    Shall one day make the Duke of York a king. 1035


. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 3

A hall of justice.

      next scene .


  • Henry VI. Stand forth, Dame Eleanor Cobham, Gloucester's wife:
    In sight of God and us, your guilt is great: 1045
    Receive the sentence of the law for sins
    Such as by God's book are adjudged to death.
    You four, from hence to prison back again;
    From thence unto the place of execution:
    The witch in Smithfield shall be burn'd to ashes, 1050
    And you three shall be strangled on the gallows.
    You, madam, for you are more nobly born,
    Despoiled of your honour in your life,
    Shall, after three days' open penance done,
    Live in your country here in banishment, 1055
    With Sir John Stanley, in the Isle of Man.
  • Eleanor. Welcome is banishment; welcome were my death.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Eleanor, the law, thou see'st, hath judged thee:
    I cannot justify whom the law condemns.
    [Exeunt DUCHESS and other prisoners, guarded] 1060
    Mine eyes are full of tears, my heart of grief.
    Ah, Humphrey, this dishonour in thine age
    Will bring thy head with sorrow to the ground!
    I beseech your majesty, give me leave to go;
    Sorrow would solace and mine age would ease. 1065
  • Henry VI. Stay, Humphrey Duke of Gloucester: ere thou go,
    Give up thy staff: Henry will to himself
    Protector be; and God shall be my hope,
    My stay, my guide and lantern to my feet:
    And go in peace, Humphrey, no less beloved 1070
    Than when thou wert protector to thy King.
  • Queen Margaret. I see no reason why a king of years
    Should be to be protected like a child.
    God and King Henry govern England's realm.
    Give up your staff, sir, and the king his realm. 1075
  • Duke of Gloucester. My staff? here, noble Henry, is my staff:
    As willingly do I the same resign
    As e'er thy father Henry made it mine;
    And even as willingly at thy feet I leave it
    As others would ambitiously receive it. 1080
    Farewell, good king: when I am dead and gone,
    May honourable peace attend thy throne!


  • Queen Margaret. Why, now is Henry king, and Margaret queen;
    And Humphrey Duke of Gloucester scarce himself, 1085
    That bears so shrewd a maim; two pulls at once;
    His lady banish'd, and a limb lopp'd off.
    This staff of honour raught, there let it stand
    Where it best fits to be, in Henry's hand.
  • Earl of Suffolk. Thus droops this lofty pine and hangs his sprays; 1090
    Thus Eleanor's pride dies in her youngest days.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Lords, let him go. Please it your majesty,
    This is the day appointed for the combat;
    And ready are the appellant and defendant,
    The armourer and his man, to enter the lists, 1095
    So please your highness to behold the fight.
  • Queen Margaret. Ay, good my lord; for purposely therefore
    Left I the court, to see this quarrel tried.
  • Henry VI. O God's name, see the lists and all things fit:
    Here let them end it; and God defend the right! 1100
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). I never saw a fellow worse bested,
    Or more afraid to fight, than is the appellant,
    The servant of this armourer, my lords.
    [Enter at one door, HORNER, the Armourer, and his]
    Neighbours, drinking to him so much that he is drunk; 1105
    and he enters with a drum before him and his staff
    with a sand-bag fastened to it; and at the other
    door PETER, his man, with a drum and sand-bag, and
    'Prentices drinking to him]
  • First Neighbour. Here, neighbour Horner, I drink to you in a cup of 1110
    sack: and fear not, neighbour, you shall do well enough.
  • Third Neighbour. And here's a pot of good double beer, neighbour:
    drink, and fear not your man.
  • Thomas Horner. Let it come, i' faith, and I'll pledge you all; and 1115
    a fig for Peter!
    for credit of the 'prentices.
  • Peter. I thank you all: drink, and pray for me, I pray 1120
    you; for I think I have taken my last draught in
    this world. Here, Robin, an if I die, I give thee
    my apron: and, Will, thou shalt have my hammer:
    and here, Tom, take all the money that I have. O
    Lord bless me! I pray God! for I am never able to 1125
    deal with my master, he hath learnt me so much fence already.
  • Earl of Salisbury. Come, leave your drinking, and fall to blows.
    Sirrah, what's thy name?
  • Thomas Horner. Masters, I am come hither, as it were, upon my man's
    instigation, to prove him a knave and myself an
    honest man: and touching the Duke of York, I will 1135
    take my death, I never meant him any ill, nor the
    king, nor the queen: and therefore, Peter, have at
    thee with a downright blow!

[Alarum. They fight, and PETER strikes him down]


  • Peter. O God, have I overcome mine enemy in this presence?
    O Peter, thou hast prevailed in right!
  • Henry VI. Go, take hence that traitor from our sight;
    For his death we do perceive his guilt:
    And God in justice hath revealed to us 1150
    The truth and innocence of this poor fellow,
    Which he had thought to have murder'd wrongfully.
    Come, fellow, follow us for thy reward.

[Sound a flourish. Exeunt]

. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 4

A street.


[Enter GLOUCESTER and his Servingmen, in] [p]mourning cloaks]

  • Duke of Gloucester. Thus sometimes hath the brightest day a cloud;
    And after summer evermore succeeds
    Barren winter, with his wrathful nipping cold:
    So cares and joys abound, as seasons fleet. 1160
    Sirs, what's o'clock?
  • Duke of Gloucester. Ten is the hour that was appointed me
    To watch the coming of my punish'd duchess:
    Uneath may she endure the flinty streets, 1165
    To tread them with her tender-feeling feet.
    Sweet Nell, ill can thy noble mind abrook
    The abject people gazing on thy face,
    With envious looks, laughing at thy shame,
    That erst did follow thy proud chariot-wheels 1170
    When thou didst ride in triumph through the streets.
    But, soft! I think she comes; and I'll prepare
    My tear-stain'd eyes to see her miseries.
    [Enter the DUCHESS in a white sheet, and a taper]
    burning in her hand; with STANLEY, the Sheriff, 1175
    and Officers]
  • Servant. So please your grace, we'll take her from the sheriff.
  • Eleanor. Come you, my lord, to see my open shame?
    Now thou dost penance too. Look how they gaze! 1180
    See how the giddy multitude do point,
    And nod their heads, and throw their eyes on thee!
    Ah, Gloucester, hide thee from their hateful looks,
    And, in thy closet pent up, rue my shame,
    And ban thine enemies, both mine and thine! 1185
  • Eleanor. Ah, Gloucester, teach me to forget myself!
    For whilst I think I am thy married wife
    And thou a prince, protector of this land,
    Methinks I should not thus be led along, 1190
    Mail'd up in shame, with papers on my back,
    And followed with a rabble that rejoice
    To see my tears and hear my deep-fet groans.
    The ruthless flint doth cut my tender feet,
    And when I start, the envious people laugh 1195
    And bid me be advised how I tread.
    Ah, Humphrey, can I bear this shameful yoke?
    Trow'st thou that e'er I'll look upon the world,
    Or count them happy that enjoy the sun?
    No; dark shall be my light and night my day; 1200
    To think upon my pomp shall be my hell.
    Sometime I'll say, I am Duke Humphrey's wife,
    And he a prince and ruler of the land:
    Yet so he ruled and such a prince he was
    As he stood by whilst I, his forlorn duchess, 1205
    Was made a wonder and a pointing-stock
    To every idle rascal follower.
    But be thou mild and blush not at my shame,
    Nor stir at nothing till the axe of death
    Hang over thee, as, sure, it shortly will; 1210
    For Suffolk, he that can do all in all
    With her that hateth thee and hates us all,
    And York and impious Beaufort, that false priest,
    Have all limed bushes to betray thy wings,
    And, fly thou how thou canst, they'll tangle thee: 1215
    But fear not thou, until thy foot be snared,
    Nor never seek prevention of thy foes.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Ah, Nell, forbear! thou aimest all awry;
    I must offend before I be attainted;
    And had I twenty times so many foes, 1220
    And each of them had twenty times their power,
    All these could not procure me any scathe,
    So long as I am loyal, true and crimeless.
    Wouldst have me rescue thee from this reproach?
    Why, yet thy scandal were not wiped away 1225
    But I in danger for the breach of law.
    Thy greatest help is quiet, gentle Nell:
    I pray thee, sort thy heart to patience;
    These few days' wonder will be quickly worn.

[Enter a Herald]

  • Herald. I summon your grace to his majesty's parliament,
    Holden at Bury the first of this next month.
  • Duke of Gloucester. And my consent ne'er ask'd herein before!
    This is close dealing. Well, I will be there.
    [Exit Herald] 1235
    My Nell, I take my leave: and, master sheriff,
    Let not her penance exceed the king's commission.
  • Sheriff. An't please your grace, here my commission stays,
    And Sir John Stanley is appointed now
    To take her with him to the Isle of Man. 1240
  • Duke of Gloucester. Entreat her not the worse in that I pray
    You use her well: the world may laugh again;
    And I may live to do you kindness if 1245
    You do it her: and so, Sir John, farewell!
  • Eleanor. What, gone, my lord, and bid me not farewell!

[Exeunt GLOUCESTER and Servingmen]

  • Eleanor. Art thou gone too? all comfort go with thee! 1250
    For none abides with me: my joy is death;
    Death, at whose name I oft have been afear'd,
    Because I wish'd this world's eternity.
    Stanley, I prithee, go, and take me hence;
    I care not whither, for I beg no favour, 1255
    Only convey me where thou art commanded.
  • Sir John Stanley. Why, madam, that is to the Isle of Man;
    There to be used according to your state.
  • Eleanor. That's bad enough, for I am but reproach:
    And shall I then be used reproachfully? 1260
  • Sir John Stanley. Like to a duchess, and Duke Humphrey's lady;
    According to that state you shall be used.
  • Eleanor. Sheriff, farewell, and better than I fare,
    Although thou hast been conduct of my shame.
  • Sheriff. It is my office; and, madam, pardon me. 1265
  • Eleanor. Ay, ay, farewell; thy office is discharged.
    Come, Stanley, shall we go?
  • Sir John Stanley. Madam, your penance done, throw off this sheet,
    And go we to attire you for our journey.
  • Eleanor. My shame will not be shifted with my sheet: 1270
    No, it will hang upon my richest robes
    And show itself, attire me how I can.
    Go, lead the way; I long to see my prison.