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Henry VI, Part 2 - Act 2, scene 4
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Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
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Act 2, scene 4
Gloucester watches his Duchess’s public humiliation as she goes into exile. He is summoned to Parliament.Enter Duke Humphrey ⌜of Gloucester⌝ and his Men,
in mourning cloaks.
1108 Thus sometimes hath the brightest day a cloud,
1109 And after summer evermore succeeds
1110 Barren winter, with his wrathful nipping cold;
1111 So cares and joys abound, as seasons fleet.
1112 5 Sirs, what’s o’clock?
SERVANT 1113 Ten, my lord.
1114 Ten is the hour that was appointed me
1115 To watch the coming of my punished duchess.
1116 Uneath may she endure the flinty streets,
1117 10 To tread them with her tender-feeling feet.
1118 Sweet Nell, ill can thy noble mind abrook
p. 911119 The abject people gazing on thy face
1120 With envious looks laughing at thy shame,
1121 That erst did follow thy proud chariot wheels
1122 15 When thou didst ride in triumph through the streets.
1123 But, soft! I think she comes, and I’ll prepare
1124 My tearstained eyes to see her miseries.
Enter the Duchess ⌜of Gloucester, barefoot, and⌝ in a
white sheet, ⌜with papers pinned to her back⌝ and a
taper burning in her hand, with ⌜Sir John Stanley,⌝
the Sheriff, and Officers.
1125 So please your Grace, we’ll take her from the Sheriff.
1126 No, stir not for your lives. Let her pass by.
1127 20 Come you, my lord, to see my open shame?
1128 Now thou dost penance too. Look how they gaze!
1129 See how the giddy multitude do point,
1130 And nod their heads, and throw their eyes on thee.
1131 Ah, Gloucester, hide thee from their hateful looks,
1132 25 And, in thy closet pent up, rue my shame,
1133 And ban thine enemies, both mine and thine.
1134 Be patient, gentle Nell. Forget this grief.
1135 Ah, Gloucester, teach me to forget myself!
1136 For whilst I think I am thy married wife
1137 30 And thou a prince, Protector of this land,
1138 Methinks I should not thus be led along,
1139 Mailed up in shame, with papers on my back,
1140 And followed with a rabble that rejoice
1141 To see my tears and hear my deep-fet groans.
1142 35 The ruthless flint doth cut my tender feet,
1143 And when I start, the envious people laugh
p. 931144 And bid me be advisèd how I tread.
1145 Ah, Humphrey, can I bear this shameful yoke?
1146 Trowest thou that e’er I’ll look upon the world
1147 40 Or count them happy that enjoys the sun?
1148 No, dark shall be my light, and night my day.
1149 To think upon my pomp shall be my hell.
1150 Sometimes I’ll say I am Duke Humphrey’s wife
1151 And he a prince and ruler of the land;
1152 45 Yet so he ruled and such a prince he was
1153 As he stood by whilst I, his forlorn duchess,
1154 Was made a wonder and a pointing-stock
1155 To every idle rascal follower.
1156 But be thou mild, and blush not at my shame,
1157 50 Nor stir at nothing till the ax of death
1158 Hang over thee, as, sure, it shortly will.
1159 For Suffolk, he that can do all in all
1160 With her that hateth thee and hates us all,
1161 And York and impious Beaufort, that false priest,
1162 55 Have all limed bushes to betray thy wings;
1163 And fly thou how thou canst, they’ll tangle thee.
1164 But fear not thou until thy foot be snared,
1165 Nor never seek prevention of thy foes.
1166 Ah, Nell, forbear. Thou aimest all awry.
1167 60 I must offend before I be attainted;
1168 And had I twenty times so many foes,
1169 And each of them had twenty times their power,
1170 All these could not procure me any scathe
1171 So long as I am loyal, true, and crimeless.
1172 65 Wouldst have me rescue thee from this reproach?
1173 Why, yet thy scandal were not wiped away,
1174 But I in danger for the breach of law.
1175 Thy greatest help is quiet, gentle Nell.
1176 I pray thee, sort thy heart to patience;
1177 70 These few days’ wonder will be quickly worn.
p. 95Enter a Herald.
1178 I summon your Grace to his Majesty’s Parliament
1179 Holden at Bury the first of this next month.
1180 And my consent ne’er asked herein before?
1181 This is close dealing. Well, I will be there.
1182 75 My Nell, I take my leave.—And, master sheriff,
1183 Let not her penance exceed the King’s commission.
1184 An ’t please your Grace, here my commission stays,
1185 And Sir John Stanley is appointed now
1186 To take her with him to the Isle of Man.
1187 80 Must you, Sir John, protect my lady here?
1188 So am I given in charge, may ’t please your Grace.
1189 Entreat her not the worse in that I pray
1190 You use her well. The world may laugh again,
1191 And I may live to do you kindness, if
1192 85 You do it her. And so, Sir John, farewell.
1193 What, gone, my lord, and bid me not farewell?
1194 Witness my tears. I cannot stay to speak.
Gloucester exits ⌜with his Men.⌝
1195 Art thou gone too? All comfort go with thee,
1196 For none abides with me. My joy is death—
1197 90 Death, at whose name I oft have been afeard,
1198 Because I wished this world’s eternity.—
1199 Stanley, I prithee, go, and take me hence.
1200 I care not whither, for I beg no favor;
1201 Only convey me where thou art commanded.
1202 95 Why, madam, that is to the Isle of Man,
1203 There to be used according to your state.
1204 That’s bad enough, for I am but reproach.
1205 And shall I, then, be used reproachfully?
1206 Like to a duchess and Duke Humphrey’s lady;
1207 100 According to that state you shall be used.
1208 Sheriff, farewell, and better than I fare,
1209 Although thou hast been conduct of my shame.
1210 It is my office; and, madam, pardon me.
1211 Ay, ay, farewell. Thy office is discharged.
⌜The Sheriff and Officers exit.⌝
1212 105 Come, Stanley, shall we go?
1213 Madam, your penance done, throw off this sheet,
1214 And go we to attire you for our journey.
1215 My shame will not be shifted with my sheet.
1216 No, it will hang upon my richest robes
1217 110 And show itself, attire me how I can.
1218 Go, lead the way. I long to see my prison.