Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > 2 King Henry VI.
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
The Second Part of King Henry the Sixth
 
Act I. Scene III.
 
The Same.  A Room in the Palace.
 
Enter three or four Petitioners, PETER, the Armourer’s man, being one.
  First Pet.  My masters, let’s stand close: my Lord Protector will come this way by and by, and then we may deliver our supplications in the quill.
  Sec. Pet.  Marry, the Lord protect him, for he’s a good man! Jesu bless him!
 
Enter SUFFOLK and QUEEN MARGARET.
        5
  First Pet.  Here a’ comes, methinks, and the queen with him. I’ll be the first, sure.
  Sec. Pet.  Come back, fool! this is the Duke of Suffolk and not my Lord Protector.
  Suf.  How now, fellow! wouldst anything with me?
  First Pet.  I pray, my lord, pardon me: I took ye for my Lord Protector.
  Q. Mar.  [Glancing at the Superscriptions.]  To my Lord Protector! are your supplications to his lordship? Let me see them: what is thine?        10
  First Pet.  Mine is, an ’t please your Grace, against John Goodman, my Lord Cardinal’s man, for keeping my house, and lands, my wife and all, from me.
  Suf.  Thy wife too! that is some wrong indeed. What’s yours? What’s here? Against the Duke of Suffolk, for enclosing the commons of Melford! How now, sir knave!
  Sec. Pet.  Alas! sir, I am but a poor petitioner of our whole township.
  Peter.  [Presenting his petition.]  Against my master, Thomas Horner, for saying that the Duke of York was rightful heir to the crown.
  Q. Mar.  What sayst thou? Did the Duke of York say he was rightful heir to the crown?        15
  Pet.  That my master was? No, forsooth: my master said that he was; and that the king was an usurper.
  Suf.  Who is there?
 
Enter Servants.
Take this fellow in, and send for his master with a pursuivant presently. We’ll hear more of your matter before the king.  [Exeunt Servants with PETER.
  Q. Mar.  And as for you, that love to be protected        20
Under the wings of our protector’s grace,
Begin your suits anew and sue to him.  [Tears the petitions.
Away, base cullions! Suffolk, let them go.
  All.  Come, let’s be gone.  [Exeunt Petitioners.
  Q. Mar.  My Lord of Suffolk, say, is this the guise,        25
Is this the fashion of the court of England?
Is this the government of Britain’s isle,
And this the royalty of Albion’s king?
What! shall King Henry be a pupil still
Under the surly Gloucester’s governance?        30
Am I a queen in title and in style,
And must be made a subject to a duke?
I tell thee, Pole, when in the city Tours
Thou ran’st a tilt in honour of my love,
And stol’st away the ladies’ hearts of France,        35
I thought King Henry had resembled thee
In courage, courtship, and proportion:
But all his mind is bent to holiness,
To number Ave-Maries on his beads;
His champions are the prophets and apostles;        40
His weapons holy saws of sacred writ;
His study is his tilt-yard, and his loves
Are brazen images of canoniz’d saints.
I would the college of the cardinals
Would choose him pope, and carry him to Rome,        45
And set the triple crown upon his head:
That were a state fit for his holiness.
  Suf.  Madam, be patient; as I was cause
Your highness came to England, so will I
In England work your Grace’s full content.        50
  Q. Mar.  Beside the haught protector, have we Beaufort
The imperious churchman, Somerset, Buckingham,
And grumbling York; and not the least of these
But can do more in England than the king.
  Suf.  And he of these that can do most of all        55
Cannot do more in England than the Nevils:
Salisbury and Warwick are no simple peers.
  Q. Mar.  Not all these lords do vox me half so much
As that proud dame, the Lord Protector’s wife:
She sweeps it through the court with troops of ladies,        60
More like an empress than Duke Humphrey’s wife.
Strangers in court do take her for the queen:
She bears a duke’s revenues on her back,
And in her heart she scorns our poverty.
Shall I not live to be aveng’d on her?        65
Contemptuous base-born callot as she is,
She vaunted ’mongst her minions t’ other day
The very train of her worst wearing gown
Was better worth than all my father’s lands,
Till Suffolk gave two dukedoms for his daughter.        70
  Suf.  Madam, myself have lim’d a bush for her,
And plac’d a quire of such enticing birds
That she will light to listen to the lays,
And never mount to trouble you again.
So, let her rest: and, madam, list to me;        75
For I am bold to counsel you in this.
Although we fancy not the cardinal,
Yet must we join with him and with the lords
Till we have brought Duke Humphrey in disgrace.
As for the Duke of York, this late complaint        80
Will make but little for his benefit:
So, one by one, we’ll weed them all at last,
And you yourself shall steer the happy helm.
 
Sound a sennet.  Enter KING HENRY, YORK, and SOMERSET; DUKE and DUCHESS OF GLOUCESTER, CARDINAL BEAUFORT, BUCKINGHAM, SALISBURY, and WARWICK.
  K. Hen.  For my part, noble lords, I care not which;        85
Or Somerset or York, all’s one to me.
  York.  If York have ill demean’d himself in France,
Then let him be denay’d the regentship.
  Som.  If Somerset be unworthy of the place,
Let York be regent; I will yield to him.        90
  War.  Whether your Grace be worthy, yea or no,
Dispute not that: York is the worthier.
  Car.  Ambitious Warwick, let thy betters speak.
  War.  The cardinal’s not my better in the field.
  Buck.  All in this presence are thy betters, Warwick.        95
  War.  Warwick may live to be the best of all.
  Sal.  Peace, son! and show some reason, Buckingham,
Why Somerset should be preferr’d in this.
  Q. Mar.  Because the king, forsooth, will have it so.
  Glo.  Madam, the king is old enough himself        100
To give his censure: these are no women’s matters.
  Q. Mar.  If he be old enough, what needs your Grace
To be protector of his excellence?
  Glo.  Madam, I am protector of the realm;
And at his pleasure will resign my place.        105
  Suf.  Resign it then and leave thine insolence.
Since thou wertking,—as who is king but thou?—
The commonwealth hath daily run to wrack;
The Dauphin hath prevail’d beyond the seas;
And all the peers and nobles of the realm        110
Have been as bondmen to thy sovereignty.
  Car.  The commons hast thou rack’d; the clergy’s bags
Are lank and lean with thy extortions.
  Som.  Thy sumptuous buildings and thy wife’s attire
Have cost a mass of public treasury.        115
  Buck.  Thy cruelty in execution
Upon offenders hath exceeded law,
And left thee to the mercy of the law.
  Q. Mar.  Thy sale of offices and towns in France,
If they were known, as the suspect is great,        120
Would make thee quickly hop without thy head.  [Exit GLOUCESTER.  The QUEEN drops her fan.
Give me my fan: what, minion! can ye not?  [Giving the DUCHESS a box on the ear.
I cry you mercy, madam, was it you?
  Duch.  Was ’t I? yea, I it was, proud French-woman:
Could I come near your beauty with my nails        125
I’d set my ten commandments in your face.
  K. Hen.  Sweet aunt, be quiet; ’twas against her will.
  Duch.  Against her will! Good king, look to ’t in time;
She’ll hamper thee and dandle thee like a baby:
Though in this place most master wear no breeches,        130
She shall not strike Dame Eleanor unreveng’d.  [Exit.
  Buck.  Lord Cardinal, I will follow Eleanor,
And listen after Humphrey, how he proceeds:
She’s tickled now; her fume can need no spurs,
She’ll gallop far enough to her destruction.  [Exit BUCKINGHAM.        135
 
Re-enter GLOUCESTER.
  Glo.  Now, lords, my choler being over-blown
With walking once about the quadrangle,
I come to talk of commonwealth affairs.
As for your spiteful false objections,        140
Prove them, and I lie open to the law:
But God in mercy so deal with my soul
As I in duty love my king and country!
But to the matter that we have in hand.
I say, my sov’reign, York is meetest man        145
To be your regent in the realm of France.
  Suf.  Before we make election, give me leave
To show some reason, of no little force,
That York is most unmeet of any man.
  York.  I’ll tell thee, Suffolk, why I am unmeet:        150
First, for I cannot flatter thee in pride;
Next, if I be appointed for the place,
My Lord of Somerset will keep me here,
Without discharge, money, or furniture,
Till France be won into the Dauphin’s hands.        155
Last time I danc’d attendance on his will
Till Paris was besieg’d, famish’d, and lost.
  War.  That can I witness; and a fouler fact
Did never traitor in the land commit.
  Suf.  Peace, headstrong Warwick!        160
  War.  Image of pride, why should I hold my peace?
 
Enter Servants of SUFFOLK, bringing in HORNER and PETER.
  Suf.  Because here is a man accus’d of treason:
Pray God the Duke of York excuse himself!
  York.  Doth any one accuse York for a traitor?        165
  K. Hen.  What mean’st thou, Suffolk? tell me, what are these?
  Suf.  Please it your majesty, this is the man
That doth accuse his master of high treason.
His words were these: that Richard, Duke of York,
Was rightful heir unto the English crown,        170
And that your majesty was a usurper.
  K. Hen.  Say, man, were these thy words?
  Hor.  An ’t shall please your majesty, I never said nor thought any such matter: God is my witness, I am falsely accused by the villain.
  Pet.  By these ten bones, my lords, he did speak them to me in the garret one night, as we were scouring my Lord of York’s armour.
  York.  Base dunghill villain, and mechanical,        175
I’ll have thy head for this thy traitor’s speech.
I do beseech your royal majesty
Let him have all the rigour of the law.
  Hor.  Alas! my lord, hang me if ever I spake the words. My accuser is my prentice; and when I did correct him for his fault the other day, he did vow upon his knees he would be even with me: I have good witness of this: therefore I beseech your majesty, do not cast away an honest man for a villain’s accusation.
  K. Hen.  Uncle, what shall we say to this in law?        180
  Glo.  This doom, my lord, if I may judge.
Let Somerset be regent o’er the French,
Because in York this breeds suspicion;
And let these have a day appointed them
For single combat in convenient place;        185
For he hath witness of his servant’s malice.
This is the law, and this Duke Humphrey’s doom.
  K. Hen.  Then be it so. My Lord of Somerset,
We make your Grace lord regent o’er the French.
  Som.  I humbly thank your royal majesty.        190
  Hor.  And I accept the combat willingly.
  Pet.  Alas! my lord, I cannot fight: for God’s sake, pity my case! the spite of man prevaileth against me. O Lord, have mercy upon me! I shall never be able to fight a blow. O Lord, my heart!
  Glo.  Sirrah, or you must fight, or else be hang’d.
  K. Hen.  Away with them to prison; and the day
Of combat shall be the last of the next month.        195
Come, Somerset, we’ll see thee sent away.  [Exeunt.
 
 
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