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History of Henry VI, Part II

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Act IV, Scene 2




  • George Bevis. Come, and get thee a sword, though made of a lath; 2310
    they have been up these two days.
  • George Bevis. I tell thee, Jack Cade the clothier means to dress
    the commonwealth, and turn it, and set a new nap upon it.
  • John Holland. So he had need, for 'tis threadbare. Well, I say it 2315
    was never merry world in England since gentlemen came up.
  • George Bevis. O miserable age! virtue is not regarded in handicrafts-men.
  • John Holland. The nobility think scorn to go in leather aprons.
  • George Bevis. Nay, more, the king's council are no good workmen.
  • John Holland. True; and yet it is said, labour in thy vocation; 2320
    which is as much to say as, let the magistrates be
    labouring men; and therefore should we be
  • George Bevis. Thou hast hit it; for there's no better sign of a
    brave mind than a hard hand. 2325
  • John Holland. I see them! I see them! there's Best's son, the
    tanner of Wingham,—
  • George Bevis. He shall have the skin of our enemies, to make
    dog's-leather of.
  • George Bevis. Then is sin struck down like an ox, and iniquity's
    throat cut like a calf.
  • John Holland. Come, come, let's fall in with them. 2335
    [Drum. Enter CADE, DICK the Butcher, SMITH the]
    Weaver, and a Sawyer, with infinite numbers]
  • Jack Cade. We John Cade, so termed of our supposed father,—
  • Jack Cade. For our enemies shall fall before us, inspired with 2340
    the spirit of putting down kings and princes,
    —Command silence.
  • Jack Cade. My wife descended of the Lacies,—
  • Dick the Butcher. [Aside] She was, indeed, a pedler's daughter, and 2350
    sold many laces.
  • Smith the Weaver. [Aside] But now of late, notable to travel with her
    furred pack, she washes bucks here at home.
  • Jack Cade. Therefore am I of an honourable house.
  • Dick the Butcher. [Aside] Ay, by my faith, the field is honourable; 2355
    and there was he borne, under a hedge, for his
    father had never a house but the cage.
  • Dick the Butcher. [Aside] No question of that; for I have seen him
    whipped three market-days together.
  • Smith the Weaver. [Aside] He need not fear the sword; for his coat is of proof.
  • Dick the Butcher. [Aside] But methinks he should stand in fear of 2365
    fire, being burnt i' the hand for stealing of sheep.
  • Jack Cade. Be brave, then; for your captain is brave, and vows
    reformation. There shall be in England seven
    halfpenny loaves sold for a penny: the three-hooped
    pot; shall have ten hoops and I will make it felony 2370
    to drink small beer: all the realm shall be in
    common; and in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to
    grass: and when I am king, as king I will be,—
  • All. God save your majesty!
  • Jack Cade. I thank you, good people: there shall be no money; 2375
    all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will
    apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree
    like brothers and worship me their lord.
  • Jack Cade. Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable 2380
    thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should
    be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled
    o'er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings:
    but I say, 'tis the bee's wax; for I did but seal
    once to a thing, and I was never mine own man 2385
    since. How now! who's there?

[Enter some, bringing forward the Clerk of Chatham]

  • Smith the Weaver. The clerk of Chatham: he can write and read and
    cast accompt.
  • Jack Cade. I am sorry for't: the man is a proper man, of mine
    honour; unless I find him guilty, he shall not die.
    Come hither, sirrah, I must examine thee: what is thy name?
  • Dick the Butcher. They use to write it on the top of letters: 'twill 2400
    go hard with you.
  • Jack Cade. Let me alone. Dost thou use to write thy name? or
    hast thou a mark to thyself, like an honest
    plain-dealing man?
  • Clerk of Chatham. Sir, I thank God, I have been so well brought up 2405
    that I can write my name.
  • All. He hath confessed: away with him! he's a villain
    and a traitor.
  • Jack Cade. Away with him, I say! hang him with his pen and
    ink-horn about his neck. 2410

[Exit one with the Clerk]


  • Jack Cade. Here I am, thou particular fellow.
  • Michael. Fly, fly, fly! Sir Humphrey Stafford and his 2415
    brother are hard by, with the king's forces.
  • Jack Cade. Stand, villain, stand, or I'll fell thee down. He
    shall be encountered with a man as good as himself:
    he is but a knight, is a'?
  • Jack Cade. To equal him, I will make myself a knight presently.
    Rise up Sir John Mortimer.
    Now have at him! 2425
    drum and soldiers]
  • Sir Humphrey Stafford. Rebellious hinds, the filth and scum of Kent,
    Mark'd for the gallows, lay your weapons down;
    Home to your cottages, forsake this groom: 2430
    The king is merciful, if you revolt.
  • William Stafford. But angry, wrathful, and inclined to blood,
    If you go forward; therefore yield, or die.
  • Jack Cade. As for these silken-coated slaves, I pass not:
    It is to you, good people, that I speak, 2435
    Over whom, in time to come, I hope to reign;
    For I am rightful heir unto the crown.
  • Jack Cade. Marry, this: Edmund Mortimer, Earl of March.
    Married the Duke of Clarence' daughter, did he not?
  • Jack Cade. By her he had two children at one birth. 2445
  • Jack Cade. Ay, there's the question; but I say, 'tis true:
    The elder of them, being put to nurse,
    Was by a beggar-woman stolen away;
    And, ignorant of his birth and parentage, 2450
    Became a bricklayer when he came to age:
    His son am I; deny it, if you can.
  • Smith the Weaver. Sir, he made a chimney in my father's house, and
    the bricks are alive at this day to testify it; 2455
    therefore deny it not.
  • All. Ay, marry, will we; therefore get ye gone.
  • Jack Cade. [Aside] He lies, for I invented it myself.
    Go to, sirrah, tell the king from me, that, for his
    father's sake, Henry the Fifth, in whose time boys
    went to span-counter for French crowns, I am content
    he shall reign; but I'll be protector over him. 2465
  • Dick the Butcher. And furthermore, well have the Lord Say's head for
    selling the dukedom of Maine.
  • Jack Cade. And good reason; for thereby is England mained, and
    fain to go with a staff, but that my puissance holds
    it up. Fellow kings, I tell you that that Lord Say 2470
    hath gelded the commonwealth, and made it an eunuch:
    and more than that, he can speak French; and
    therefore he is a traitor.
  • Jack Cade. Nay, answer, if you can: the Frenchmen are our 2475
    enemies; go to, then, I ask but this: can he that
    speaks with the tongue of an enemy be a good
    counsellor, or no?
  • All. No, no; and therefore we'll have his head.
  • William Stafford. Well, seeing gentle words will not prevail, 2480
    Assail them with the army of the king.
  • Sir Humphrey Stafford. Herald, away; and throughout every town
    Proclaim them traitors that are up with Cade;
    That those which fly before the battle ends
    May, even in their wives' and children's sight, 2485
    Be hang'd up for example at their doors:
    And you that be the king's friends, follow me.

[Exeunt WILLIAM STAFFORD and SIR HUMPHREY, and soldiers]

  • Jack Cade. And you that love the commons, follow me.
    Now show yourselves men; 'tis for liberty. 2490
    We will not leave one lord, one gentleman:
    Spare none but such as go in clouted shoon;
    For they are thrifty honest men, and such
    As would, but that they dare not, take our parts.
  • Jack Cade. But then are we in order when we are most
    out of order. Come, march forward.