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King Henry VI, Part II

[ Enter three or four Petitioners, PETER, the Armourer’s man, being one ]
First Petitioner 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.
Second Petitioner Marry, the Lord protect him, for he’s a good man!
Jesu bless him! 5
PETER Here a’ comes, methinks, and the queen with him.
I’ll be the first, sure.
Second Petitioner Come back, fool; this is the Duke of Suffolk, and
not my lord protector.
SUFFOLK How now, fellow! would’st anything with me? 10
First Petitioner I pray, my lord, pardon me; I took ye for my lord
QUEEN MARGARET [Reading] ‘To my Lord Protector!’ Are your
supplications to his lordship? Let me see them:
what is thine? 15
First Petitioner Mine is, an’t please your grace, against John
Goodman, my lord cardinal’s man, for keeping my
house, and lands, and wife and all, from me.
SUFFOLK Thy wife, too! that’s some wrong, indeed. What’s
yours? What’s here! 20
‘Against the Duke of Suffolk, for enclosing the
commons of Melford.’ How now, sir knave!
Second Petitioner Alas, sir, I am but a poor petitioner of our whole township.
PETER [Giving his petition] Against my master, Thomas
Horner, for saying that the Duke of York was rightful 25
heir to the crown.
QUEEN MARGARET What sayst thou? did the Duke of York say he was
rightful heir to the crown?
PETER That my master was? no, forsooth: my master said
that he was, and that the king was an usurper. 30
SUFFOLK Who is there?
[Enter Servant]
Take this fellow in, and send for
his master with a pursuivant presently: we’ll hear
more of your matter before the King.
[Exit Servant with PETER]
QUEEN MARGARET And as for you, that love to be protected 35
Under the wings of our protector’s grace,
Begin your suits anew, and sue to him.
[Tears the supplication]
Away, base cullions! Suffolk, let them go.
ALL Come, let’s be gone.
QUEEN MARGARET My Lord of Suffolk, say, is this the guise, 40
Is this the fashion in 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? 45
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 stolest away the ladies’ hearts of France, 50
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, 55
His weapons holy saws of sacred writ,
His study is his tilt-yard, and his loves
Are brazen images of canonized saints.
I would the college of the cardinals
Would choose him pope, and carry him to Rome, 60
And set the triple crown upon his head:
That were a state fit for his holiness.
SUFFOLK Madam, be patient: as I was cause
Your highness came to England, so will I
In England work your grace’s full content. 65
QUEEN MARGARET Beside the haughty 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.
SUFFOLK And he of these that can do most of all 70
Cannot do more in England than the Nevils:
Salisbury and Warwick are no simple peers.
QUEEN MARGARET Not all these lords do vex me half so much
As that proud dame, the lord protector’s wife.
She sweeps it through the court with troops of ladies, 75
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 avenged on her? 80
Contemptuous base-born callet 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. 85
SUFFOLK Madam, myself have limed a bush for her,
And placed 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; 90
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 95
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.
KING HENRY VI For my part, noble lords, I care not which;
Or Somerset or York, all’s one to me. 100
YORK If York have ill demean’d himself in France,
Then let him be denay’d the regentship.
SOMERSET If Somerset be unworthy of the place,
Let York be regent; I will yield to him.
WARWICK Whether your grace be worthy, yea or no, 105
Dispute not that: York is the worthier.
CARDINAL Ambitious Warwick, let thy betters speak.
WARWICK The cardinal’s not my better in the field.
BUCKINGHAM All in this presence are thy betters, Warwick.
WARWICK Warwick may live to be the best of all. 110
SALISBURY Peace, son! and show some reason, Buckingham,
Why Somerset should be preferred in this.
QUEEN MARGARET Because the king, forsooth, will have it so.
GLOUCESTER Madam, the king is old enough himself
To give his censure: these are no women’s matters. 115
QUEEN MARGARET If he be old enough, what needs your grace
To be protector of his excellence?
GLOUCESTER Madam, I am protector of the realm;
And, at his pleasure, will resign my place.
SUFFOLK Resign it then and leave thine insolence. 120
Since thou wert king–as who is king but thou?–
The commonwealth hath daily run to wreck;
The Dauphin hath prevail’d beyond the seas;
And all the peers and nobles of the realm
Have been as bondmen to thy sovereignty. 125
CARDINAL The commons hast thou rack’d; the clergy’s bags
Are lank and lean with thy extortions.
SOMERSET Thy sumptuous buildings and thy wife’s attire
Have cost a mass of public treasury.
BUCKINGHAM Thy cruelty in execution 130
Upon offenders, hath exceeded law,
And left thee to the mercy of the law.
QUEEN MARGARET They sale of offices and towns in France,
If they were known, as the suspect is great,
Would make thee quickly hop without thy head. 135
Give me my fan: what, minion! can ye not?
[She gives the DUCHESS a box on the ear]
I cry you mercy, madam; was it you?
DUCHESS Was’t I! yea, I it was, proud Frenchwoman:
Could I come near your beauty with my nails,
I’d set my ten commandments in your face. 140
KING HENRY VI Sweet aunt, be quiet; ’twas against her will.
DUCHESS 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,
She shall not strike Dame Eleanor unrevenged. 145
BUCKINGHAM Lord cardinal, I will follow Eleanor,
And listen after Humphrey, how he proceeds:
She’s tickled now; her fume needs no spurs,
She’ll gallop far enough to her destruction.
GLOUCESTER Now, lords, my choler being over-blown 150
With walking once about the quadrangle,
I come to talk of commonwealth affairs.
As for your spiteful false objections,
Prove them, and I lie open to the law:
But God in mercy so deal with my soul, 155
As I in duty love my king and country!
But, to the matter that we have in hand:
I say, my sovereign, York is meetest man
To be your regent in the realm of France.
SUFFOLK Before we make election, give me leave 160
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:
First, for I cannot flatter thee in pride;
Next, if I be appointed for the place, 165
My Lord of Somerset will keep me here,
Without discharge, money, or furniture,
Till France be won into the Dauphin’s hands:
Last time, I danced attendance on his will
Till Paris was besieged, famish’d, and lost. 170
WARWICK That can I witness; and a fouler fact
Did never traitor in the land commit.
SUFFOLK Peace, headstrong Warwick!
WARWICK Image of pride, why should I hold my peace?
[ Enter HORNER, the Armourer, and his man PETER, guarded ]
SUFFOLK Because here is a man accused of treason: 175
Pray God the Duke of York excuse himself!
YORK Doth any one accuse York for a traitor?
KING HENRY VI What mean’st thou, Suffolk; tell me, what are these?
SUFFOLK Please it your majesty, this is the man
That doth accuse his master of high treason: 180
His words were these: that Richard, Duke of York,
Was rightful heir unto the English crown
And that your majesty was a usurper.
KING HENRY VI Say, man, were these thy words?
HORNER An’t shall please your majesty, I never said nor 185
thought any such matter: God is my witness, I am
falsely accused by the villain.
PETER 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. 190
YORK Base dunghill villain and mechanical,
I’ll have thy head for this thy traitor’s speech.
I do beseech your royal majesty,
Let him have all the rigor of the law.
HORNER Alas, my lord, hang me, if ever I spake the words. 195
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 200
KING HENRY VI Uncle, what shall we say to this in law?
GLOUCESTER This doom, my lord, if I may judge:
Let Somerset be regent over the French,
Because in York this breeds suspicion: 205
And let these have a day appointed them
For single combat in convenient place,
For he hath witness of his servant’s malice:
This is the law, and this Duke Humphrey’s doom.
SOMERSET I humbly thank your royal majesty. 210
HORNER And I accept the combat willingly.
PETER 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! 215
GLOUCESTER Sirrah, or you must fight, or else be hang’d.
KING HENRY VI Away with them to prison; and the day of combat
shall be the last of the next month. Come,
Somerset, we’ll see thee sent away.
[Flourish. Exeunt]

Continue to 2 Henry VI, Act 1, Scene 4