Henry VI, Part 1 - Act 1, scene 2
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Act 1, scene 2
Charles the Dauphin, leader of the French, is defeated by a small English force that is besieging Orleance. He is then introduced to Pucelle, who declares herself chosen by the Virgin Mary to free France from the English. Charles challenges her to single combat, loses, and grants her authority as a military leader.Sound a flourish. Enter Charles ⌜the Dauphin,⌝
Alanson, and Reignier, marching with Drum
0181 Mars his true moving, even as in the heavens
0182 So in the Earth, to this day is not known.
0183 Late did he shine upon the English side;
0184 Now we are victors; upon us he smiles.
0185 5 What towns of any moment but we have?
0186 At pleasure here we lie, near Orleance.
0187 Otherwhiles, the famished English, like pale ghosts,
0188 Faintly besiege us one hour in a month.
0189 They want their porridge and their fat bull beeves.
0190 10 Either they must be dieted like mules
0191 And have their provender tied to their mouths,
0192 Or piteous they will look, like drownèd mice.
0193 Let’s raise the siege. Why live we idly here?
0194 Talbot is taken, whom we wont to fear.
0195 15 Remaineth none but mad-brained Salisbury,
0196 And he may well in fretting spend his gall;
0197 Nor men nor money hath he to make war.
0198 Sound, sound alarum! We will rush on them.
0199 Now for the honor of the forlorn French!
0200 20 Him I forgive my death that killeth me
0201 When he sees me go back one foot, or fly.
They exit. Here alarum. They are beaten
back by the English, with great loss.
Enter Charles, Alanson, and Reignier.
0202 Whoever saw the like? What men have I!
0203 Dogs, cowards, dastards! I would ne’er have fled
0204 But that they left me ’midst my enemies.
0205 25 Salisbury is a desperate homicide.
0206 He fighteth as one weary of his life.
0207 The other lords, like lions wanting food,
0208 Do rush upon us as their hungry prey.
0209 Froissart, a countryman of ours, records
0210 30 England all Olivers and Rolands ⌜bred⌝
0211 During the time Edward the Third did reign.
0212 More truly now may this be verified,
0213 For none but Samsons and Goliases
0214 It sendeth forth to skirmish. One to ten!
0216 They had such courage and audacity?
0217 Let’s leave this town, for they are hare-brained slaves,
0218 And hunger will enforce them to be more eager.
0219 Of old I know them; rather with their teeth
0220 40 The walls they’ll tear down than forsake the siege.
0221 I think by some odd gimmers or device
0222 Their arms are set, like clocks, still to strike on;
0223 Else ne’er could they hold out so as they do.
0224 By my consent, we’ll even let them alone.
ALANSON 0225 45Be it so.
Enter the Bastard of Orleance.
0226 Where’s the Prince Dauphin? I have news for him.
0227 Bastard of Orleance, thrice welcome to us.
0228 Methinks your looks are sad, your cheer appalled.
0229 Hath the late overthrow wrought this offence?
0230 50 Be not dismayed, for succor is at hand.
0231 A holy maid hither with me I bring,
0232 Which, by a vision sent to her from heaven,
0233 Ordainèd is to raise this tedious siege
0234 And drive the English forth the bounds of France.
0235 55 The spirit of deep prophecy she hath,
0236 Exceeding the nine Sibyls of old Rome.
0237 What’s past and what’s to come she can descry.
0238 Speak, shall I call her in? Believe my words,
0239 For they are certain and unfallible.
0240 60 Go call her in.⌜Bastard exits.⌝
0241 But first, to try her skill,
0242 Reignier, stand thou as Dauphin in my place;
0244 By this means shall we sound what skill she hath.
Enter ⌜Bastard, with⌝ Joan ⌜la⌝ Pucelle.
REIGNIER, ⌜as Charles⌝
0245 65 Fair maid, is ’t thou wilt do these wondrous feats?
0246 Reignier, is ’t thou that thinkest to beguile me?
0247 Where is the Dauphin?—Come, come from behind.
0248 I know thee well, though never seen before.
0249 Be not amazed; there’s nothing hid from me.
0250 70 In private will I talk with thee apart.—
0251 Stand back, you lords, and give us leave a while.
0252 She takes upon her bravely at first dash.
⌜Alanson, Reignier, and Bastard exit.⌝
0253 Dauphin, I am by birth a shepherd’s daughter,
0254 My wit untrained in any kind of art.
0255 75 Heaven and Our Lady gracious hath it pleased
0256 To shine on my contemptible estate.
0257 Lo, whilst I waited on my tender lambs,
0258 And to sun’s parching heat displayed my cheeks,
0259 God’s Mother deignèd to appear to me,
0260 80 And in a vision full of majesty
0261 Willed me to leave my base vocation
0262 And free my country from calamity.
0263 Her aid she promised and assured success.
0264 In complete glory she revealed herself;
0265 85 And whereas I was black and swart before,
0266 With those clear rays which she infused on me
0267 That beauty am I blest with, which you may see.
0268 Ask me what question thou canst possible,
0269 And I will answer unpremeditated.
0270 90 My courage try by combat, if thou dar’st,
0271 And thou shalt find that I exceed my sex.
0273 If thou receive me for thy warlike mate.
0274 Thou hast astonished me with thy high terms.
0275 95 Only this proof I’ll of thy valor make:
0276 In single combat thou shalt buckle with me,
0277 And if thou vanquishest, thy words are true;
0278 Otherwise I renounce all confidence.
0279 I am prepared. Here is my keen-edged sword,
0280 100 Decked with fine flower-de-luces on each side—
0281 ⌜Aside.⌝ The which at Touraine, in Saint Katherine’s
0283 Out of a great deal of old iron I chose forth.
0284 Then come, a’ God’s name! I fear no woman.
0285 105 And while I live, I’ll ne’er fly from a man.
Here they fight, and
Joan ⌜la⌝ Pucelle overcomes.
0286 Stay, stay thy hands! Thou art an Amazon,
0287 And fightest with the sword of Deborah.
0288 Christ’s mother helps me; else I were too weak.
0289 Whoe’er helps thee, ’tis thou that must help me.
0290 110 Impatiently I burn with thy desire.
0291 My heart and hands thou hast at once subdued.
0292 Excellent Pucelle, if thy name be so,
0293 Let me thy servant and not sovereign be.
0294 ’Tis the French Dauphin sueth to thee thus.
0295 115 I must not yield to any rights of love,
0296 For my profession’s sacred from above.
0298 Then will I think upon a recompense.
0299 Meantime look gracious on thy prostrate thrall.
⌜Enter Reignier and Alanson.⌝
REIGNIER, ⌜aside to Alanson⌝
0300 120 My lord, methinks, is very long in talk.
ALANSON, ⌜aside to Reignier⌝
0301 Doubtless he shrives this woman to her smock,
0302 Else ne’er could he so long protract his speech.
REIGNIER, ⌜aside to Alanson⌝
0303 Shall we disturb him, since he keeps no mean?
ALANSON, ⌜aside to Reignier⌝
0304 He may mean more than we poor men do know.
0305 125 These women are shrewd tempters with their
REIGNIER, ⌜to Charles⌝
0307 My lord, where are you? What devise you on?
0308 Shall we give o’er Orleance, or no?
0309 Why, no, I say. Distrustful recreants,
0310 130 Fight till the last gasp. I’ll be your guard.
0311 What she says I’ll confirm: we’ll fight it out.
0312 Assigned am I to be the English scourge.
0313 This night the siege assuredly I’ll raise.
0314 Expect Saint Martin’s summer, halcyons’ days,
0315 135 Since I have enterèd into these wars.
0316 Glory is like a circle in the water,
0317 Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself
0318 Till by broad spreading it disperse to naught.
0319 With Henry’s death, the English circle ends;
0320 140 Dispersèd are the glories it included.
0322 Which Caesar and his fortune bare at once.
0323 Was Mahomet inspirèd with a dove?
0324 Thou with an eagle art inspirèd then.
0325 145 Helen, the mother of great Constantine,
0326 Nor yet Saint Philip’s daughters were like thee.
0327 Bright star of Venus, fall’n down on the Earth,
0328 How may I reverently worship thee enough?
0329 Leave off delays, and let us raise the siege.
0330 150 Woman, do what thou canst to save our honors.
0331 Drive them from Orleance and be immortalized.
0332 Presently we’ll try. Come, let’s away about it.
0333 No prophet will I trust if she prove false.