Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > 1 King Henry VI.
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
The First Part of King Henry the Sixth
 
Act I. Scene II.
 
France.  Before Orleans.
 
Flourish.  Enter CHARLES, with his Forces: ALENÇON, REIGNIER, and Others.
  Char.  Mars his true moving, even as in the heavens
So in the earth, to this day is not known.
Late did he shine upon the English side;        5
Now we are victors; upon us he smiles.
What towns of any moment but we have?
At pleasure here we lie near Orleans;
Otherwhiles the famish’d English, like pale ghosts,
Faintly besiege us one hour in a month.        10
  Alen.  They want their porridge and their fat bull-beeves:
Either they must be dieted like mules
And have their provender tied to their mouths,
Or piteous they will look, like drowned mice.
  Reig.  Let’s raise the siege: why live we idly here?        15
Talbot is taken, whom we wont to fear:
Remaineth none but mad-brain’d Salisbury,
And he may well in fretting spend his gall;
Nor men nor money hath he to make war.
  Char.  Sound, sound alarum! we will rush on them.        20
Now for the honour of the forlorn French!
Him I forgive my death that killeth me
When he sees me go back one foot or fly.  [Exeunt.
 
Alarums; Excursions; afterwards a retreat.  Re-enter CHARLES, ALENÇON, REIGNIER, and Others.
  Char.  Who ever saw the like? what men have I!        25
Dogs! cowards! dastards! I would ne’er have fled
But that they left me ’midst my enemies.
  Reig.  Salisbury is a desperate homicide;
He fighteth as one weary of his life:
The other lords, like lions wanting food,        30
Do rush upon us as their hungry prey.
  Alen.  Froissart, a countryman of ours, records,
England all Olivers and Rowlands bred
During the time Edward the Third did reign.
More truly now may this be verified;        35
For none but Samsons and Goliases,
It sendeth forth to skirmish. One to ten!
Lean raw-bon’d rascals! who would e’er suppose
They had such courage and audacity?
  Char.  Let’s leave this town; for they are hare-brain’d slaves,        40
And hunger will enforce them to be more eager:
Of old I know them; rather with their teeth
The walls they’ll tear down than forsake the siege.
  Reig.  I think, by some odd gimmals or device,
Their arms are set like clocks, still to strike on;        45
Else ne’er could they hold out so as they do.
By my consent, we’ll e’en let them alone.
  Alen.  Be it so.
 
Enter the BASTARD OF ORLEANS.
  Bast.  Where’s the prince Dauphin? I have news for him.        50
  Char.  Bastard of Orleans, thrice welcome to us.
  Bast.  Methinks your looks are sad, your cheer appall’d:
Hath the late overthrow wrought this offence?
Be not dismay’d, for succour is at hand:
A holy maid hither with me I bring,        55
Which by a vision sent to her from heaven
Ordained is to raise this tedious siege,
And drive the English forth the bounds of France.
The spirit of deep prophecy she hath,
Exceeding the nine sibyls of old Rome;        60
What’s past and what’s to come she can descry.
Speak, shall I call her in? Believe my words,
For they are certain and unfallible.
  Char.  Go, call her in.  [Exit BASTARD.]  But first, to try her skill,
Reignier, stand thou as Dauphin in my place:        65
Question her proudly; let thy looks be stern:
By this means shall we sound what skill she hath.  [Retires.
 
Re-enter the BASTARD OF ORLEANS, with JOAN LA PUCELLE and Others.
  Reig.  Fair maid, is ’t thou wilt do these wondrous feats?
  Joan.  Reignier, is ’t thou that thinkest to beguile me?        70
Where is the Dauphin? Come, come from behind;
I know thee well, though never seen before.
Be not amaz’d, there’s nothing hid from me:
In private will I talk with thee apart.
Stand back, you lords, and give us leave a while.        75
  Reig.  She takes upon her bravely at first dash.
  Joan.  Dauphin, I am by birth a shepherd’s daughter,
My wit untrain’d in any kind of art.
Heaven and our Lady gracious hath it pleas’d
To shine on my contemptible estate:        80
Lo! whilst I waited on my tender lambs,
And to sun’s parching heat display’d my cheeks,
God’s mother deigned to appear to me,
And in a vision full of majesty
Will’d me to leave my base vocation        85
And free my country from calamity:
Her aid she promis’d and assur’d success;
In complete glory she reveal’d herself;
And, whereas I was black and swart before,
With those clear rays which she infus’d on me,        90
That beauty am I bless’d with which you see.
Ask me what question thou canst possible
And I will answer unpremeditated:
My courage try by combat, if thou dar’st,
And thou shalt find that I exceed my sex.        95
Resolve on this, thou shalt be fortunate
If thou receive me for thy war-like mate.
  Char.  Thou hast astonish’d me with thy high terms.
Only this proof I’ll of thy valour make,
In single combat thou shalt buckle with me,        100
And if thou vanquishest, thy words are true;
Otherwise I renounce all confidence.
  Joan.  I am prepar’d: here is my keen-edg’d sword,
Deck’d with five flower-de-luces on each side;
The which at Touraine, in Saint Katharine’s churchyard,        105
Out of a great deal of old iron I chose forth.
  Char.  Then come, o’ God’s name; I fear no woman.
  Joan.  And, while I live, I’ll ne’er fly from a man.
[They fight, and JOAN LA PUCELLE overcomes.
  Char.  Stay, stay thy hands! thou art an Amazon,        110
And fightest with the sword of Deborah.
  Joan.  Christ’s mother helps me, else I were too weak.
  Char.  Whoe’er helps thee, ’tis thou that must help me:
Impatiently I burn with thy desire;
My heart and hands thou hast at once subdu’d.        115
Excellent Pucelle, if thy name be so,
Let me thy servant and not sovereign be;
’Tis the French Dauphin sueth to thee thus.
  Joan.  I must not yield to any rites of love,
For my profession’s sacred from above:        120
When I have chased all thy foes from hence,
Then will I think upon a recompense.
  Char.  Meantime look gracious on thy prostrate thrall.
  Reig.  My lord, methinks, is very long in talk.
  Alen.  Doubtless he shrives this woman to her smock;        125
Else ne’er could he so long protract his speech.
  Reig.  Shall we disturb him, since he keeps no mean?
  Alen.  He may mean more than we poor men do know:
These women are shrewd tempters with their tongues.
  Reig.  My lord, where are you? what devise you on?        130
Shall we give over Orleans, or no?
  Joan.  Why, no, I say, distrustful recreants!
Fight till the last gasp; I will be your guard.
  Char.  What she says, I’ll confirm: we’ll fight it out.
  Joan.  Assign’d am I to be the English scourge.        135
This night the siege assuredly I’ll raise:
Expect Saint Martin’s summer, halcyon days,
Since I have entered into these wars.
Glory is like a circle in the water,
Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself,        140
Till by broad spreading it disperse to nought.
With Henry’s death the English circle ends;
Dispersed are the glories it included.
Now am I like that proud insulting ship
Which Cæsar and his fortune bare at once.        145
  Char.  Was Mahomet inspired with a dove?
Thou with an eagle art inspired then.
Helen, the mother of great Constantine,
Nor yet Saint Philip’s daughters were like thee.
Bright star of Venus, fall’n down on the earth,        150
How may I reverently worship thee enough?
  Alen.  Leave off delays and let us raise the siege.
  Reig.  Woman, do what thou canst to save our honours;
Drive them from Orleans and be immortalis’d.
  Char.  Presently we’ll try. Come, let’s away about it:        155
No prophet will I trust if she prove false.  [Exeunt.
 
 
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