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History of Henry VI, Part II

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Act IV, Scene 7

London. Smithfield.


[Alarums. MATTHEW GOFFE is slain, and all the rest.] [p]Then enter CADE, with his company.

  • Jack Cade. So, sirs: now go some and pull down the Savoy;
    others to the inns of court; down with them all.
  • Jack Cade. Be it a lordship, thou shalt have it for that word.
  • John Holland. [Aside] Mass, 'twill be sore law, then; for he was
    thrust in the mouth with a spear, and 'tis not whole
    yet. 2630
  • Smith the Weaver. [Aside] Nay, John, it will be stinking law for his
    breath stinks with eating toasted cheese.
  • Jack Cade. I have thought upon it, it shall be so. Away, burn
    all the records of the realm: my mouth shall be
    the parliament of England. 2635
  • John Holland. [Aside] Then we are like to have biting statutes,
    unless his teeth be pulled out.
  • Jack Cade. And henceforward all things shall be in common.

[Enter a Messenger]

  • Messenger. My lord, a prize, a prize! here's the Lord Say, 2640
    which sold the towns in France; he that made us pay
    one and twenty fifteens, and one shilling to the
    pound, the last subsidy.

[Enter BEVIS, with Lord SAY]

  • Jack Cade. Well, he shall be beheaded for it ten times. Ah, 2645
    thou say, thou serge, nay, thou buckram lord! now
    art thou within point-blank of our jurisdiction
    regal. What canst thou answer to my majesty for
    giving up of Normandy unto Mounsieur Basimecu, the
    dauphin of France? Be it known unto thee by these 2650
    presence, even the presence of Lord Mortimer, that I
    am the besom that must sweep the court clean of such
    filth as thou art. Thou hast most traitorously
    corrupted the youth of the realm in erecting a
    grammar school; and whereas, before, our forefathers 2655
    had no other books but the score and the tally, thou
    hast caused printing to be used, and, contrary to
    the king, his crown and dignity, thou hast built a
    paper-mill. It will be proved to thy face that thou
    hast men about thee that usually talk of a noun and 2660
    a verb, and such abominable words as no Christian
    ear can endure to hear. Thou hast appointed
    justices of peace, to call poor men before them
    about matters they were not able to answer.
    Moreover, thou hast put them in prison; and because 2665
    they could not read, thou hast hanged them; when,
    indeed, only for that cause they have been most
    worthy to live. Thou dost ride in a foot-cloth, dost thou not?
  • Jack Cade. Marry, thou oughtest not to let thy horse wear a 2670
    cloak, when honester men than thou go in their hose
    and doublets.
  • Dick the Butcher. And work in their shirt too; as myself, for example,
    that am a butcher.
  • Lord Say. Nothing but this; 'tis 'bona terra, mala gens.'
  • Jack Cade. Away with him, away with him! he speaks Latin.
  • Lord Say. Hear me but speak, and bear me where you will.
    Kent, in the Commentaries Caesar writ, 2680
    Is term'd the civil'st place of this isle:
    Sweet is the country, because full of riches;
    The people liberal, valiant, active, wealthy;
    Which makes me hope you are not void of pity.
    I sold not Maine, I lost not Normandy, 2685
    Yet, to recover them, would lose my life.
    Justice with favour have I always done;
    Prayers and tears have moved me, gifts could never.
    When have I aught exacted at your hands,
    But to maintain the king, the realm and you? 2690
    Large gifts have I bestow'd on learned clerks,
    Because my book preferr'd me to the king,
    And seeing ignorance is the curse of God,
    Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven,
    Unless you be possess'd with devilish spirits, 2695
    You cannot but forbear to murder me:
    This tongue hath parley'd unto foreign kings
    For your behoof,—
  • Jack Cade. Tut, when struck'st thou one blow in the field?
  • Lord Say. Great men have reaching hands: oft have I struck 2700
    Those that I never saw and struck them dead.
  • George Bevis. O monstrous coward! what, to come behind folks?
  • Lord Say. These cheeks are pale for watching for your good.
  • Jack Cade. Give him a box o' the ear and that will make 'em red again.
  • Lord Say. Long sitting to determine poor men's causes 2705
    Hath made me full of sickness and diseases.
  • Jack Cade. Ye shall have a hempen caudle, then, and the help of hatchet.
  • Lord Say. The palsy, and not fear, provokes me.
  • Jack Cade. Nay, he nods at us, as who should say, I'll be even 2710
    with you: I'll see if his head will stand steadier
    on a pole, or no. Take him away, and behead him.
  • Lord Say. Tell me wherein have I offended most?
    Have I affected wealth or honour? speak.
    Are my chests fill'd up with extorted gold? 2715
    Is my apparel sumptuous to behold?
    Whom have I injured, that ye seek my death?
    These hands are free from guiltless bloodshedding,
    This breast from harbouring foul deceitful thoughts.
    O, let me live! 2720
  • Jack Cade. [Aside] I feel remorse in myself with his words;
    but I'll bridle it: he shall die, an it be but for
    pleading so well for his life. Away with him! he
    has a familiar under his tongue; he speaks not o'
    God's name. Go, take him away, I say, and strike 2725
    off his head presently; and then break into his
    son-in-law's house, Sir James Cromer, and strike off
    his head, and bring them both upon two poles hither.
  • All. It shall be done.
  • Lord Say. Ah, countrymen! if when you make your prayers, 2730
    God should be so obdurate as yourselves,
    How would it fare with your departed souls?
    And therefore yet relent, and save my life.
  • Jack Cade. Away with him! and do as I command ye.
    [Exeunt some with Lord SAY] 2735
    The proudest peer in the realm shall not wear a head
    on his shoulders, unless he pay me tribute; there
    shall not a maid be married, but she shall pay to me
    her maidenhead ere they have it: men shall hold of
    me in capite; and we charge and command that their 2740
    wives be as free as heart can wish or tongue can tell.
  • Dick the Butcher. My lord, when shall we go to Cheapside and take up
    commodities upon our bills?
  • All. O, brave! 2745

[Re-enter one with the heads]

  • Jack Cade. But is not this braver? Let them kiss one another,
    for they loved well when they were alive. Now part
    them again, lest they consult about the giving up of
    some more towns in France. Soldiers, defer the 2750
    spoil of the city until night: for with these borne
    before us, instead of maces, will we ride through
    the streets, and at every corner have them kiss. Away!