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Henry VI, Part 1 - Act 1, scene 1
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Navigate this workHenry VI, Part 1 - Act 1, scene 1
Act 1, scene 1
The funeral procession for Henry V is interrupted first by a quarrel between Gloucester and Winchester and then by messengers from France. The messengers report the loss of England’s lands in France and the French capture of Talbot, the English military commander.Dead March. Enter the funeral of King Henry the Fifth,
attended on by the Duke of Bedford, Regent of France;
the Duke of Gloucester, Protector; the Duke of Exeter;
⌜the Earl of⌝ Warwick; the Bishop of Winchester; and
the Duke of Somerset, ⌜with Heralds and Attendants.⌝
0001 Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night!
0002 Comets, importing change of times and states,
0003 Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky,
0004 And with them scourge the bad revolting stars
0005 5 That have consented unto Henry’s death:
0006 King Henry the Fifth, too famous to live long.
0007 England ne’er lost a king of so much worth.
0008 England ne’er had a king until his time.
0009 Virtue he had, deserving to command;
0010 10 His brandished sword did blind men with his beams;
0011 His arms spread wider than a dragon’s wings;
0012 His sparkling eyes, replete with wrathful fire,
0013 More dazzled and drove back his enemies
0014 Than midday sun fierce bent against their faces.
0015 15 What should I say? His deeds exceed all speech.
0016 He ne’er lift up his hand but conquerèd.
0017 We mourn in black; why mourn we not in blood?
0018 Henry is dead and never shall revive.
0019 Upon a wooden coffin we attend,
0020 20 And Death’s dishonorable victory
p. 90021 We with our stately presence glorify,
0022 Like captives bound to a triumphant car.
0023 What? Shall we curse the planets of mishap
0024 That plotted thus our glory’s overthrow?
0025 25 Or shall we think the subtle-witted French
0026 Conjurers and sorcerers, that, afraid of him,
0027 By magic verses have contrived his end?
0028 He was a king blest of the King of kings;
0029 Unto the French the dreadful Judgment Day
0030 30 So dreadful will not be as was his sight.
0031 The battles of the Lord of Hosts he fought;
0032 The Church’s prayers made him so prosperous.
0033 The Church? Where is it? Had not churchmen prayed,
0034 His thread of life had not so soon decayed.
0035 35 None do you like but an effeminate prince
0036 Whom like a schoolboy you may overawe.
0037 Gloucester, whate’er we like, thou art Protector
0038 And lookest to command the Prince and realm.
0039 Thy wife is proud; she holdeth thee in awe
0040 40 More than God or religious churchmen may.
0041 Name not religion, for thou lov’st the flesh,
0042 And ne’er throughout the year to church thou go’st,
0043 Except it be to pray against thy foes.
0044 Cease, cease these jars, and rest your minds in peace!
0045 45 Let’s to the altar.—Heralds, wait on us.—
0046 Instead of gold, we’ll offer up our arms,
0047 Since arms avail not, now that Henry’s dead.
0048 Posterity, await for wretched years
0049 When at their mothers’ moistened eyes babes shall
0050 50 suck,
p. 110051 Our isle be made a nourish of salt tears,
0052 And none but women left to wail the dead.
0053 Henry the Fifth, thy ghost I invocate:
0054 Prosper this realm, keep it from civil broils,
0055 55 Combat with adverse planets in the heavens.
0056 A far more glorious star thy soul will make
0057 Than Julius Caesar or bright—
Enter a Messenger.
0058 My honorable lords, health to you all.
0059 Sad tidings bring I to you out of France,
0060 60 Of loss, of slaughter, and discomfiture:
0061 Guyen, Champaigne, Rheims, ⌜Roan,⌝ Orleance,
0062 Paris, Gisors, Poitiers, are all quite lost.
0063 What say’st thou, man, before dead Henry’s corse?
0064 Speak softly, or the loss of those great towns
0065 65 Will make him burst his lead and rise from death.
0066 Is Paris lost? Is Roan yielded up?
0067 If Henry were recalled to life again,
0068 These news would cause him once more yield the
0070 70 How were they lost? What treachery was used?
0071 No treachery, but want of men and money.
0072 Amongst the soldiers, this is mutterèd:
0073 That here you maintain several factions
0074 And, whilst a field should be dispatched and fought,
0075 75 You are disputing of your generals.
0076 One would have ling’ring wars with little cost;
0077 Another would fly swift, but wanteth wings;
0078 A third thinks, without expense at all,
p. 130079 By guileful fair words peace may be obtained.
0080 80 Awake, awake, English nobility!
0081 Let not sloth dim your honors new begot.
0082 Cropped are the flower-de-luces in your arms;
0083 Of England’s coat, one half is cut away.⌜He exits.⌝
0084 Were our tears wanting to this funeral,
0085 85 These tidings would call forth her flowing tides.
0086 Me they concern; regent I am of France.
0087 Give me my steelèd coat, I’ll fight for France.
0088 Away with these disgraceful wailing robes.
0089 Wounds will I lend the French instead of eyes
0090 90 To weep their intermissive miseries.
Enter to them another Messenger, ⌜with papers.⌝
0091 Lords, view these letters, full of bad mischance.
0092 France is revolted from the English quite,
0093 Except some petty towns of no import.
0094 The Dauphin Charles is crownèd king in Rheims;
0095 95 The Bastard of Orleance with him is joined;
0096 Reignier, Duke of Anjou, doth take his part;
0097 The Duke of Alanson flieth to his side.He exits.
0098 The Dauphin crownèd king? All fly to him?
0099 O, whither shall we fly from this reproach?
0100 100 We will not fly but to our enemies’ throats.—
0101 Bedford, if thou be slack, I’ll fight it out.
0102 Gloucester, why doubt’st thou of my forwardness?
0103 An army have I mustered in my thoughts,
0104 Wherewith already France is overrun.
Enter another Messenger.
p. 15THIRD MESSENGER
0105 105 My gracious lords, to add to your laments,
0106 Wherewith you now bedew King Henry’s hearse,
0107 I must inform you of a dismal fight
0108 Betwixt the stout Lord Talbot and the French.
0109 What? Wherein Talbot overcame, is ’t so?
0110 110 O no, wherein Lord Talbot was o’erthrown.
0111 The circumstance I’ll tell you more at large.
0112 The tenth of August last, this dreadful lord,
0113 Retiring from the siege of Orleance,
0114 Having full scarce six thousand in his troop,
0115 115 By three and twenty thousand of the French
0116 Was round encompassèd and set upon.
0117 No leisure had he to enrank his men.
0118 He wanted pikes to set before his archers,
0119 Instead whereof, sharp stakes plucked out of hedges
0120 120 They pitchèd in the ground confusedly
0121 To keep the horsemen off from breaking in.
0122 More than three hours the fight continuèd,
0123 Where valiant Talbot, above human thought,
0124 Enacted wonders with his sword and lance.
0125 125 Hundreds he sent to hell, and none durst stand him;
0126 Here, there, and everywhere, enraged, he slew.
0127 The French exclaimed the devil was in arms;
0128 All the whole army stood agazed on him.
0129 His soldiers, spying his undaunted spirit,
0130 130 “À Talbot! À Talbot!” cried out amain
0131 And rushed into the bowels of the battle.
0132 Here had the conquest fully been sealed up
0133 If Sir John Fastolf had not played the coward.
0134 He, being in the vaward, placed behind
0135 135 With purpose to relieve and follow them,
0136 Cowardly fled, not having struck one stroke.
0137 Hence grew the general wrack and massacre.
p. 170138 Enclosèd were they with their enemies.
0139 A base Walloon, to win the Dauphin’s grace,
0140 140 Thrust Talbot with a spear into the back,
0141 Whom all France, with their chief assembled
0143 Durst not presume to look once in the face.
0144 Is Talbot slain then? I will slay myself
0145 145 For living idly here, in pomp and ease,
0146 Whilst such a worthy leader, wanting aid,
0147 Unto his dastard foemen is betrayed.
0148 O, no, he lives, but is took prisoner,
0149 And Lord Scales with him, and Lord Hungerford;
0150 150 Most of the rest slaughtered or took likewise.
0151 His ransom there is none but I shall pay.
0152 I’ll hale the Dauphin headlong from his throne;
0153 His crown shall be the ransom of my friend.
0154 Four of their lords I’ll change for one of ours.
0155 155 Farewell, my masters; to my task will I.
0156 Bonfires in France forthwith I am to make,
0157 To keep our great Saint George’s feast withal.
0158 Ten thousand soldiers with me I will take,
0159 Whose bloody deeds shall make all Europe quake.
0160 160 So you had need; ’fore Orleance besieged,
0161 The English army is grown weak and faint;
0162 The Earl of Salisbury craveth supply
0163 And hardly keeps his men from mutiny,
0164 Since they so few watch such a multitude.
0165 165 Remember, lords, your oaths to Henry sworn:
0166 Either to quell the Dauphin utterly
0167 Or bring him in obedience to your yoke.
0168 I do remember it, and here take my leave
0169 To go about my preparation.Bedford exits.
0170 170 I’ll to the Tower with all the haste I can
0171 To view th’ artillery and munition,
0172 And then I will proclaim young Henry king.
0173 To Eltham will I, where the young king is,
0174 Being ordained his special governor;
0175 175 And for his safety there I’ll best devise.He exits.
0176 Each hath his place and function to attend.
0177 I am left out; for me nothing remains.
0178 But long I will not be Jack-out-of-office.
0179 The King from Eltham I intend to ⌜steal,⌝
0180 180 And sit at chiefest stern of public weal.
He exits ⌜at one door; at another door,
Warwick, Somerset, Attendants and
Heralds exit with the coffin.⌝