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History of Henry VI, Part II

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Act IV, Scene 1

The coast of Kent.


[Alarum. Fight at sea. Ordnance goes off. Enter a] [p]Captain, a Master, a Master's-mate, WALTER WHITMORE, [p]and others; with them SUFFOLK, and others, prisoners]

  • Captain. The gaudy, blabbing and remorseful day
    Is crept into the bosom of the sea;
    And now loud-howling wolves arouse the jades
    That drag the tragic melancholy night; 2155
    Who, with their drowsy, slow and flagging wings,
    Clip dead men's graves and from their misty jaws
    Breathe foul contagious darkness in the air.
    Therefore bring forth the soldiers of our prize;
    For, whilst our pinnace anchors in the Downs, 2160
    Here shall they make their ransom on the sand,
    Or with their blood stain this discolour'd shore.
    Master, this prisoner freely give I thee;
    And thou that art his mate, make boot of this;
    The other, Walter Whitmore, is thy share. 2165
  • Master. A thousand crowns, or else lay down your head.
  • Captain. What, think you much to pay two thousand crowns,
    And bear the name and port of gentlemen? 2170
    Cut both the villains' throats; for die you shall:
    The lives of those which we have lost in fight
    Be counterpoised with such a petty sum!
  • Walter Whitmore. I lost mine eye in laying the prize aboard,
    And therefore to revenge it, shalt thou die;
    [To SUFFOLK]
    And so should these, if I might have my will.
  • Captain. Be not so rash; take ransom, let him live. 2180
  • Earl of Suffolk. Look on my George; I am a gentleman:
    Rate me at what thou wilt, thou shalt be paid.
  • Walter Whitmore. And so am I; my name is Walter Whitmore.
    How now! why start'st thou? what, doth
    death affright? 2185
  • Earl of Suffolk. Thy name affrights me, in whose sound is death.
    A cunning man did calculate my birth
    And told me that by water I should die:
    Yet let not this make thee be bloody-minded;
    Thy name is Gaultier, being rightly sounded. 2190
  • Walter Whitmore. Gaultier or Walter, which it is, I care not:
    Never yet did base dishonour blur our name,
    But with our sword we wiped away the blot;
    Therefore, when merchant-like I sell revenge,
    Broke be my sword, my arms torn and defaced, 2195
    And I proclaim'd a coward through the world!
  • Earl of Suffolk. Stay, Whitmore; for thy prisoner is a prince,
    The Duke of Suffolk, William de la Pole.
  • Earl of Suffolk. Ay, but these rags are no part of the duke: 2200
    Jove sometimes went disguised, and why not I?
  • Captain. But Jove was never slain, as thou shalt be.
  • Earl of Suffolk. Obscure and lowly swain, King Henry's blood,
    The honourable blood of Lancaster,
    Must not be shed by such a jaded groom. 2205
    Hast thou not kiss'd thy hand and held my stirrup?
    Bare-headed plodded by my foot-cloth mule
    And thought thee happy when I shook my head?
    How often hast thou waited at my cup,
    Fed from my trencher, kneel'd down at the board. 2210
    When I have feasted with Queen Margaret?
    Remember it and let it make thee crest-fall'n,
    Ay, and allay this thy abortive pride;
    How in our voiding lobby hast thou stood
    And duly waited for my coming forth? 2215
    This hand of mine hath writ in thy behalf,
    And therefore shall it charm thy riotous tongue.
  • Captain. First let my words stab him, as he hath me.
  • Captain. Convey him hence and on our longboat's side
    Strike off his head.
  • Captain. Pool! Sir Pool! lord!
    Ay, kennel, puddle, sink; whose filth and dirt
    Troubles the silver spring where England drinks.
    Now will I dam up this thy yawning mouth
    For swallowing the treasure of the realm: 2230
    Thy lips that kiss'd the queen shall sweep the ground;
    And thou that smiledst at good Duke Humphrey's death,
    Against the senseless winds shalt grin in vain,
    Who in contempt shall hiss at thee again:
    And wedded be thou to the hags of hell, 2235
    For daring to affy a mighty lord
    Unto the daughter of a worthless king,
    Having neither subject, wealth, nor diadem.
    By devilish policy art thou grown great,
    And, like ambitious Sylla, overgorged 2240
    With gobbets of thy mother's bleeding heart.
    By thee Anjou and Maine were sold to France,
    The false revolting Normans thorough thee
    Disdain to call us lord, and Picardy
    Hath slain their governors, surprised our forts, 2245
    And sent the ragged soldiers wounded home.
    The princely Warwick, and the Nevils all,
    Whose dreadful swords were never drawn in vain,
    As hating thee, are rising up in arms:
    And now the house of York, thrust from the crown 2250
    By shameful murder of a guiltless king
    And lofty proud encroaching tyranny,
    Burns with revenging fire; whose hopeful colours
    Advance our half-faced sun, striving to shine,
    Under the which is writ 'Invitis nubibus.' 2255
    The commons here in Kent are up in arms:
    And, to conclude, reproach and beggary
    Is crept into the palace of our king.
    And all by thee. Away! convey him hence.
  • Earl of Suffolk. O that I were a god, to shoot forth thunder 2260
    Upon these paltry, servile, abject drudges!
    Small things make base men proud: this villain here,
    Being captain of a pinnace, threatens more
    Than Bargulus the strong Illyrian pirate.
    Drones suck not eagles' blood but rob beehives: 2265
    It is impossible that I should die
    By such a lowly vassal as thyself.
    Thy words move rage and not remorse in me:
    I go of message from the queen to France;
    I charge thee waft me safely cross the Channel. 2270
  • Walter Whitmore. Thou shalt have cause to fear before I leave thee.
    What, are ye daunted now? now will ye stoop? 2275
  • Earl of Suffolk. Suffolk's imperial tongue is stern and rough,
    Used to command, untaught to plead for favour.
    Far be it we should honour such as these
    With humble suit: no, rather let my head 2280
    Stoop to the block than these knees bow to any
    Save to the God of heaven and to my king;
    And sooner dance upon a bloody pole
    Than stand uncover'd to the vulgar groom.
    True nobility is exempt from fear: 2285
    More can I bear than you dare execute.
  • Captain. Hale him away, and let him talk no more.
  • Earl of Suffolk. Come, soldiers, show what cruelty ye can,
    That this my death may never be forgot!
    Great men oft die by vile bezonians: 2290
    A Roman sworder and banditto slave
    Murder'd sweet Tully; Brutus' bastard hand
    Stabb'd Julius Caesar; savage islanders
    Pompey the Great; and Suffolk dies by pirates.

[Exeunt Whitmore and others with Suffolk]

  • Captain. And as for these whose ransom we have set,
    It is our pleasure one of them depart;
    Therefore come you with us and let him go.

[Exeunt all but the First Gentleman]

[Re-enter WHITMORE with SUFFOLK's body]

  • Walter Whitmore. There let his head and lifeless body lie,
    Until the queen his mistress bury it.


  • First Gentleman. O barbarous and bloody spectacle!
    His body will I bear unto the king: 2305
    If he revenge it not, yet will his friends;
    So will the queen, that living held him dear.

[Exit with the body]