ACT I SCENE II

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

King Henry VI, Part I

ACT I SCENE II France. Before Orleans.
[ Sound a flourish. Enter CHARLES, ALENCON, and REIGNIER, marching with drum and Soldiers ]
CHARLES 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;
Now we are victors; upon us he smiles.
What towns of any moment but we have? 5
At pleasure here we lie near Orleans;
Otherwhiles the famish’d English, like pale ghosts,
Faintly besiege us one hour in a month.
ALENCON They want their porridge and their fat bull-beeves:
Either they must be dieted like mules 10
And have their provender tied to their mouths
Or piteous they will look, like drowned mice.
REIGNIER Let’s raise the siege: why live we idly here?
Talbot is taken, whom we wont to fear:
Remaineth none but mad-brain’d Salisbury; 15
And he may well in fretting spend his gall,
Nor men nor money hath he to make war.
CHARLES Sound, sound alarum! we will rush on them.
Now for the honour of the forlorn French!
Him I forgive my death that killeth me 20
When he sees me go back one foot or fly.
[Exeunt]
[ Here alarum; they are beaten back by the English with great loss. Re-enter CHARLES, ALENCON, and REIGNIER ]
CHARLES Who ever saw the like? what men have I!
Dogs! cowards! dastards! I would ne’er have fled,
But that they left me ‘midst my enemies.
REIGNIER Salisbury is a desperate homicide; 25
He fighteth as one weary of his life.
The other lords, like lions wanting food,
Do rush upon us as their hungry prey.
ALENCON Froissart, a countryman of ours, records,
England all Olivers and Rowlands bred, 30
During the time Edward the Third did reign.
More truly now may this be verified;
For none but Samsons and Goliases
It sendeth forth to skirmish. One to ten!
Lean, raw-boned rascals! who would e’er suppose 35
They had such courage and audacity?
CHARLES Let’s leave this town; for they are hare-brain’d slaves,
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. 40
REIGNIER I think, by some odd gimmors or device
Their arms are set like clocks, stiff to strike on;
Else ne’er could they hold out so as they do.
By my consent, we’ll even let them alone.
ALENCON Be it so. 45
[Enter the BASTARD OF ORLEANS]
BASTARD OF ORLEANS Where’s the Prince Dauphin? I have news for him.
CHARLES Bastard of Orleans, thrice welcome to us.
BASTARD OF ORLEANS Methinks your looks are sad, your cheer appall’d:
Hath the late overthrow wrought this offence?
Be not dismay’d, for succor is at hand: 50
A holy maid hither with me I bring,
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, 55
Exceeding the nine sibyls of old Rome:
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.
CHARLES Go, call her in. 60
[Exit BASTARD OF ORLEANS]
But first, to try her skill,
Reignier, stand thou as Dauphin in my place:
Question her proudly; let thy looks be stern:
By this means shall we sound what skill she hath.
[Re-enter the BASTARD OF ORLEANS, with JOAN LA PUCELLE]
REIGNIER Fair maid, is’t thou wilt do these wondrous feats? 65
JOAN LA PUCELLE Reignier, is’t thou that thinkest to beguile me?
Where is the Dauphin? Come, come from behind;
I know thee well, though never seen before.
Be not amazed, there’s nothing hid from me:
In private will I talk with thee apart. 70
Stand back, you lords, and give us leave awhile.
REIGNIER She takes upon her bravely at first dash.
JOAN LA PUCELLE 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 pleased 75
To shine on my contemptible estate:
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 80
Will’d me to leave my base vocation
And free my country from calamity:
Her aid she promised and assured success:
In complete glory she reveal’d herself;
And, whereas I was black and swart before, 85
With those clear rays which she infused on me
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 darest, 90
And thou shalt find that I exceed my sex.
Resolve on this, thou shalt be fortunate,
If thou receive me for thy warlike mate.
CHARLES Thou hast astonish’d me with thy high terms:
Only this proof I’ll of thy valour make, 95
In single combat thou shalt buckle with me,
And if thou vanquishest, thy words are true;
Otherwise I renounce all confidence.
JOAN LA PUCELLE I am prepared: here is my keen-edged sword,
Deck’d with five flower-de-luces on each side; 100
The which at Touraine, in Saint Katharine’s
churchyard,
Out of a great deal of old iron I chose forth.
CHARLES Then come, o’ God’s name; I fear no woman.
JOAN LA PUCELLE And while I live, I’ll ne’er fly from a man. 105
[Here they fight, and JOAN LA PUCELLE overcomes]
CHARLES Stay, stay thy hands! thou art an Amazon
And fightest with the sword of Deborah.
JOAN LA PUCELLE Christ’s mother helps me, else I were too weak.
CHARLES Whoe’er helps thee, ’tis thou that must help me:
Impatiently I burn with thy desire; 110
My heart and hands thou hast at once subdued.
Excellent Pucelle, if thy name be so,
Let me thy servant and not sovereign be:
‘Tis the French Dauphin sueth to thee thus.
JOAN LA PUCELLE I must not yield to any rites of love, 115
For my profession’s sacred from above:
When I have chased all thy foes from hence,
Then will I think upon a recompense.
CHARLES Meantime look gracious on thy prostrate thrall.
REIGNIER My lord, methinks, is very long in talk. 120
ALENCON Doubtless he shrives this woman to her smock;
Else ne’er could he so long protract his speech.
REIGNIER Shall we disturb him, since he keeps no mean?
ALENCON He may mean more than we poor men do know:
These women are shrewd tempters with their tongues. 125
REIGNIER My lord, where are you? what devise you on?
Shall we give over Orleans, or no?
JOAN LA PUCELLE Why, no, I say, distrustful recreants!
Fight till the last gasp; I will be your guard.
CHARLES What she says I’ll confirm: we’ll fight it out. 130
JOAN LA PUCELLE Assign’d am I to be the English scourge.
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, 135
Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself
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 140
Which Caesar and his fortune bare at once.
CHARLES 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. 145
Bright star of Venus, fall’n down on the earth,
How may I reverently worship thee enough?
ALENCON Leave off delays, and let us raise the siege.
REIGNIER Woman, do what thou canst to save our honours;
Drive them from Orleans and be immortalized. 150
CHARLES Presently we’ll try: come, let’s away about it:
No prophet will I trust, if she prove false.
[Exeunt]

Continue to 1 Henry VI, Act 1, Scene 3