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King Henry VI, First Part by William Shakespeare [Aldus edition]

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SUFFOLK.
And yet a dispensation may be had.

MARGARET.
And yet I would that you would answer me.

SUFFOLK.
I'll win this Lady Margaret. For whom?
Why, for my king; tush, that 's a wooden thing!

MARGARET.
He talks of wood: it is some carpenter.

SUFFOLK.
Yet so my fancy may be satisfied,
And peace established between these realms.
But there remains a scruple in that too;
For though her father be the King of Naples,
Duke of Anjou and Maine, yet is he poor,
And our nobility will scorn the match.

MARGARET.
Hear ye, captain, are you not at leisure?

SUFFOLK.
It shall be so, disdain they ne'er so much:
Henry is youthful and will quickly yield.
Madam, I have a secret to reveal.

MARGARET.
What though I be enthrall'd? he seems a knight,
And will not any way dishonor me.

SUFFOLK.
Lady, vouchsafe to listen what I say.

MARGARET.
Perhaps I shall be rescued by the French;
And then I need not crave his courtesy.

SUFFOLK.
Sweet madam, give me hearing in a cause--

MARGARET.
Tush! women have been captivate ere now.

SUFFOLK.
Lady, wherefore talk you so?

MARGARET.
I cry you mercy, 'tis but Quid for Quo.

SUFFOLK.
Say, gentle princess, would you not suppose
Your bondage happy, to be made a queen?

MARGARET.
To be a queen in bondage is more vile
Than is a slave in base servility;
For princes should be free.

SUFFOLK.
And so shall you,
If happy England's royal king be free.

MARGARET.
Why, what concerns his freedom unto me?

SUFFOLK.
I'll undertake to make thee Henry's queen,
To put a golden scepter in thy hand
And set a precious crown upon thy head,
If thou wilt condescend to be my--

MARGARET.
What?

SUFFOLK.
His love.

MARGARET.
I am unworthy to be Henry's wife.

SUFFOLK.
No, gentle madam; I unworthy am
To woo so fair a dame to be his wife,
And have no portion in the choice myself.
How say you, madam, are ye so content?

MARGARET.
An if my father please, I am content.

SUFFOLK.
Then call our captain and our colors forth.
And, madam, at your father's castle walls
We'll crave a parley, to confer with him.

[A parley sounded. Enter Reignier on the walls.]

See, Reignier, see, thy daughter prisoner!

REIGNIER. To whom?

SUFFOLK.
To me.

REIGNIER.
Suffolk, what remedy?
I am a soldier, and unapt to weep,
Or to exclaim on fortune's fickleness.

SUFFOLK.
Yes, there is remedy enough, my lord:
Consent, and for thy honor give consent,
Thy daughter shall be wedded to my king;
Whom I with pain have woo'd and won thereto;
And this her easy-held imprisonment
Hath gain'd thy daughter princely liberty.

REIGNIER.
Speaks Suffolk as he thinks?

SUFFOLK.
Fair Margaret knows
That Suffolk doth not flatter, face, or feign.

REIGNIER.
Upon thy princely warrant, I descend
To give thee answer of thy just demand.

[Exit from the walls.]

SUFFOLK.
And here I will expect thy coming.

[Trumpets sound. Enter Reignier, below.]

REIGNIER.
Welcome, brave earl, into our territories:
Command in Anjou what your honor pleases.

SUFFOLK.
Thanks, Reignier, happy for so sweet a child,
Fit to be made companion with a king:
What answer makes your grace unto my suit?

REIGNIER.
Since thou dost deign to woo her little worth
To be the princely bride of such a lord;
Upon condition I may quietly
Enjoy mine own, the country Maine and Anjou,
Free from oppression or the stroke of war,
My daughter shall be Henry's, if he please.

SUFFOLK.
That is her ransom; I deliver her;
And those two counties I will undertake
Your Grace shall well and quietly enjoy.

REIGNIER.
And I again, in Henry's royal name,
As deputy unto that gracious king,
Give thee her hand, for sign of plighted faith.

SUFFOLK.
Reignier of France, I give thee kingly thanks,
Because this is in traffic of a king.
[Aside] And yet, methinks, I could be well content
To be mine own attorney in this case.
I 'll over then to England with this news,
And make this marriage to be solemnized.
So, farewell, Reignier; set this diamond safe
In golden palaces, as it becomes.

REIGNIER.
I do embrace thee as I would embrace
The Christian prince, King Henry, were he here.

MARGARET.
Farewell, my lord: good wishes, praise and prayers.
Shall Suffolk ever have of Margaret. [Going.

SUFFOLK.
Farewell, sweet madam: but hark you, Margaret;
No princely commendations to my king?

MARGARET.
Such commendations as becomes a maid,
A virgin and his servant, say to him.

SUFFOLK.
Words sweetly placed and modestly directed.
But, madam, I must trouble you again;
No loving token to his majesty?

MARGARET.
Yes, my good lord, a pure unspotted heart,
Never yet taint with love, I send the king.

SUFFOLK.
And this withal. [Kisses her.]

MARGARET.
That for thyself: I will not so presume
To send such peevish tokens to a king.

[Exeunt Reignier and Margaret.]

SUFFOLK. O, wert thou for myself! But, Suffolk, stay;
Thou mayst not wander in that labyrinth;
There Minotaurs and ugly treasons lurk.
Solicit Henry with her wondrous praise:
Bethink thee on her virtues that surmount,
And natural graces that extinguish art;
Repeat their semblance often on the seas,
That, when thou comest to kneel at Henry's feet,
Thou mayst bereave him of his wits with wonder.

[Exit.]

SCENE IV. Camp of the Duke of York in Anjou.

[Enter York, Warwick, and others.]

YORK.
Bring forth that sorceress condemn'd to burn.

[Enter La Pucelle, guarded, and a Shepherd.]

SHEPHERD.
Ah, Joan, this kills thy father's heart outright!
Have I sought every country far and near,
And now it is my chance to find thee out,
Must I behold thy timeless cruel death?
Ah, Joan, sweet daughter Joan, I 'll die with thee!

PUCELLE.
Decrepit miser! base ignoble wretch!
I am descended of a gentler blood:
Thou art no father nor no friend of mine.

SHEPHERD.
Out, out! My lords, as please you, 'tis not so;
I did beget her, all the parish knows.
Her mother liveth yet, can testify
She was the first fruit of my bachelorship.

WARWICK.
Graceless! wilt thou deny thy parentage?

YORK.
This argues what her kind of life hath been,
Wicked and vile; and so her death concludes.

SHEPHERD.
Fie, Joan, that thou wilt be so obstacle!
God knows thou art a collop of my flesh;
And for thy sake have I shed many a tear:
Deny me not, I prithee, gentle Joan.

PUCELLE.
Peasant, avaunt! You have suborn'd this man,
Of purpose to obscure my noble birth.

SHEPHERD.
'Tis true, I gave a noble to the priest
The morn that I was wedded to her mother.
Kneel down and take my blessing, good my girl.
Wilt thou not stoop? Now cursed be the time
Of thy nativity! I would the milk
Thy mother gave thee when thou suck'dst her breast,
Had been a little ratsbane for thy sake!
Or else, when thou didst keep my lambs a-field,
I wish some ravenous wolf had eaten thee!
Dost thou deny thy father, cursed drab?
O, burn her, burn her! hanging is too good.

[Exit.]

YORK.
Take her away; for she hath lived too long,
To fill the world with vicious qualities.

PUCELLE.
First, let me tell you whom you have condemn'd:
Not me begotten of a shepherd swain,
But issued from the progeny of kings;
Virtuous and holy; chosen from above,
By inspiration of celestial grace,
To work exceeding miracles on earth.
I never had to do with wicked spirits:
But you, that are polluted with your lusts,
Stain'd with the guiltless blood of innocents,
Corrupt and tainted with a thousand vices,
Because you want the grace that others have,
You judge it straight a thing impossible
To compass wonders but by help of devils.
No, misconceived! Joan of Arc hath been
A virgin from her tender infancy,
Chaste and immaculate in very thought;
Whose maiden blood, thus rigorously effused,
Will cry for vengeance at the gates of heaven.

YORK.
Aye, aye: away with her to execution!

WARWICK.
And hark ye, sirs; because she is a maid,
Spare for no faggots, let there be enow:
Place barrels of pitch upon the fatal stake,
That so her torture may be shortened.

PUCELLE.
Will nothing turn your unrelenting hearts?
Then, Joan, discover thine infirmity,
That warranteth by law to be thy privilege.
I am with child, ye bloody homicides:
Murder not then the fruit within my womb,
Although ye hale me to a violent death.

YORK.
Now heaven forfend! the holy maid with child!

WARWICK.
The greatest miracle that e'er ye wrought:
Is all your strict preciseness come to this?

YORK.
She and the Dauphin have been juggling:
I did imagine what would be her refuge.

WARWICK.
Well, go to; we'll have no bastards live;
Especially since Charles must father it.

PUCELLE.
You are deceived; my child is none of his:
It was Alencon that enjoy'd my love.

YORK.
Alencon! that notorious Machiavel!
It dies, an if it had a thousand lives.

PUCELLE.
O, give me leave, I have deluded you:
'Twas neither Charles nor yet the duke I named,
But Reignier, king of Naples, that prevail'd.

WARWICK.
A married man! that's most intolerable.

YORK.
Why, here's a girl! I think she knows not well
There were so many, whom she may accuse.

WARWICK.
It's sign she hath been liberal and free.

YORK.
And yet, forsooth, she is a virgin pure.
Strumpet, thy words condemn thy brat and thee:
Use no entreaty, for it is in vain.

PUCELLE.
Then lead me hence; with whom I leave my curse:
May never glorious sun reflex his beams
Upon the country where you make abode:
But darkness and the gloomy shade of death
Environ you, till mischief and despair
Drive you to break your necks or hang yourselves!

[Exit, guarded.]

YORK.
Break thou in pieces and consume to ashes,
Thou foul accursed minister of hell!

[Enter Cardinal Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester,
attended.]

CARDINAL.
Lord regent, I do greet your excellence
With letters of commission from the king.
For know, my lords, the states of Christendom,
Moved with remorse of these outrageous broils,
Have earnestly implored a general peace
Betwixt our nation and the aspiring French;
And here at hand the Dauphin and his train
Approacheth, to confer about some matter.

YORK.
Is all our travail turn'd to this effect?
After the slaughter of so many peers,
So many captains, gentlemen and soldiers,
That in this quarrel have been overthrown,
And sold their bodies for their country's benefit,
Shall we at last conclude effeminate peace?
Have we not lost most part of all the towns,
By treason, falsehood, and by treachery,
Our great progenitors had conquered?
O, Warwick, Warwick! I foresee with grief
The utter loss of all the realm of France.

WARWICK.
Be patient, York: if we conclude
a peace,
It shall be with such strict and severe covenants
As little shall the Frenchmen gain thereby.

[Enter Charles, Alencon, Bastard, Reignier, and others.]

CHARLES.
Since, lords of England, it is thus agreed
That peaceful truce shall be proclaim'd in France,
We come to be informed by yourselves
What the conditions of that league must be.

YORK.
Speak, Winchester; for boiling choler chokes
The hollow passage of my poison'd voice,
By sight of these our baleful enemies.

CARDINAL.
Charles, and the rest, it is enacted thus:
That, in regard King Henry gives consent,
Of mere compassion and of lenity,
To ease your country of distressful war,
And suffer you to breathe in fruitful peace,
You shall become true liegemen to his crown:
And, Charles, upon condition thou wilt swear
To pay him tribute and submit thyself,
Thou shalt be placed as viceroy under him,
And still enjoy the regal dignity.

ALENCON.
Must he be then as shadow of himself?
Adorn his temples with a coronet,
And yet, in substance and authority,
Retain but privilege of a private man?
This proffer is absurd and reasonless.

CHARLES.
'Tis known already that I am possess'd
With more than half the Gallian territories,
And therein reverenced for their lawful king:
Shall I, for lucre of the rest unvanquish'd,
Detract so much from that prerogative,
As to be call'd but viceroy of the whole?
No, lord ambassador, I 'll rather keep
That which I have than, coveting for more,
Be cast from possibility of all.

YORK.
Insulting Charles! hast thou by secret means
Used intercession to obtain a league,
And, now the matter grows to compromise,
Stand'st thou aloof upon comparison?
Either accept the title thou usurp'st,
Of benefit proceeding from our king
And not of any challenge of desert,
Or we will plague thee with incessant wars.

REIGNIER.
My lord, you do not well in obstinacy
To cavil in the course of this contract:
If once it be neglected, ten to one
We shall not find like opportunity.

ALENCON.
To say the truth, it is your policy
To save your subjects from such massacre
And ruthless slaughters as are daily seen,
By our proceeding in hostility;
And therefore take this compact of a truce,
Although you break it when your pleasure serves.

WARWICK.
How say'st thou, Charles? shall our condition stand?

CHARLES.
It shall;
Only reserv'd, you claim no interest
In any of our towns of garrison.

YORK.
Then swear allegiance to his majesty,
As thou art knight, never to disobey
Nor be rebellious to the crown of England
Thou, nor thy nobles, to the crown of England.
So, now dismiss your army when ye please;
Hang up your ensigns, let your drums be still,
For here we entertain a solemn peace.

[Exeunt.]

SCENE V. London. The royal palace.

[Enter Suffolk in conference with the King,
Gloucester and Exeter.]

KING.
Your wondrous rare description, noble earl,
Of beauteous Margaret hath astonish'd me.
Her virtues graced with external gifts
Do breed love's settled passions in my heart:
And like as rigor of tempestuous gusts
Provokes the mightiest hulk against the tide,
So am I driven by breath of her renown,
Either to suffer shipwreck or arrive
Where I may have fruition of her love.

SUFFOLK.
Tush, my good lord, this superficial tale
Is but a preface of her worthy praise;
The chief perfections of that lovely dame,
Had I sufficient skill to utter them,
Would make a volume of enticing lines,
Able to ravish any dull conceit:
And, which is more, she is not so divine,
So full-replete with choice of all delights,
But with as humble lowliness of mind
She is content to be at your command;
Command, I mean, of virtuous intents,
To love and honor Henry as her lord.

KING.
And otherwise will Henry ne'er presume.
Therefore, my lord protector, give consent
That Margaret may be England's royal queen.

GLOUCESTER.
So should I give consent to flatter sin.
You know, my lord, your highness is betroth'd
Unto another lady of esteem:
How shall we then dispense with that contract,
And not deface your honor with reproach?

SUFFOLK.
As doth a ruler with unlawful oaths;
Or one that, at a triumph having vow'd
To try his strength, forsaketh yet the lists
By reason of his adversary's odds:
A poor earl's daughter is unequal odds,
And therefore may be broke without offense.

GLOUCESTER.
Why, what, I pray, is Margaret more than that?
Her father is no better than an earl,
Although in glorious titles he excel.

SUFFOLK.
Yes, my lord, her father is a king,
The King of Naples and Jerusalem;
And of such great authority in France,
As his alliance will confirm our peace,
And keep the Frenchmen in allegiance.

GLOUCESTER.
And so the Earl of Armagnac may do,
Because he is near kinsman unto Charles.

EXETER.
Beside, his wealth doth warrant a liberal dower,
Where Reignier sooner will receive than give.

SUFFOLK.
A dower, my lords! disgrace not so your king,
That he should be so abject, base and poor,
To choose for wealth and not for perfect love.
Henry is able to enrich his queen,
And not to seek a queen to make him rich:
So worthless peasants bargain for their wives,
As market-men for oxen, sheep, or horse.
Marriage is a matter of more worth
Than to be dealt in by attorneyship;
Not whom we will; but whom his grace affects,
Must be companion of his nuptial bed:
And therefore, lords, since he affects her most,
It most of all these reasons bindeth us,
In our opinions she should be preferr'd.
For what is wedlock forced but a hell,
An age of discord and continual strife?
Whereas the contrary bringeth bliss,
And is a pattern of celestial peace.
Whom should we match with Henry, being a king,
But Margaret, that is daughter to a king?
Her peerless feature, joined with her birth,
Approves her fit for none but for a king;
Her valiant courage and undaunted spirit,
More than in women commonly is seen,
Will answer our hope in issue of a king;
For Henry, son unto a conqueror,
Is likely to beget more conquerors,
If with a lady of so high resolve
As is fair Margaret he be link'd in love.
Then yield, my lords; and here conclude with me
That Margaret shall be queen, and none but she.

KING.
Whether it be through force of your report,
My noble Lord of Suffolk, or for that
My tender youth was never yet attaint
With any passion of inflaming love,
I cannot tell; but this I am assured,
I feel such sharp dissension in my breast,
Such fierce alarums both of hope and fear,
As I am sick with working of my thoughts.
Take, therefore, shipping; post, my lord, to France;
Agree to any covenants, and procure
That Lady Margaret do vouchsafe to come
To cross the seas to England, and be crown'd
King Henry's faithful and anointed queen:
For your expenses and sufficient charge,
Among the people gather up a tenth.
Be gone, I say; for till you do return,
I rest perplexed with a thousand cares.
And you, good uncle, banish all offense:
If you do censure me by what you were,
Not what you are, I know it will excuse
This sudden execution of my will.
And so, conduct me where, from company,
I may revolve and ruminate my grief.

[Exit.]

GLOUCESTER.
Aye, grief, I fear me, both at first and last.

[Exeunt Gloucester and Exeter.]

SUFFOLK.
Thus Suffolk hath prevail'd; and thus he goes,
As did the youthful Paris once to Greece,
With hope to find the like event in love,
But prosper better than the Troyan did.
Margaret shall now be queen, and rule the king;
But I will rule both her, the king and realm.

[Exit.]

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