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King Henry VI, Part I

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ACT I SCENE I Westminster Abbey. 
[ Dead March. Enter the Funeral of KING HENRY the Fifth, attended on by Dukes of BEDFORD, Regent of France; GLOUCESTER, Protector; and EXETER, Earl of WARWICK, the BISHOP OF WINCHESTER, Heralds, &c ]
BEDFORDHung be the heavens with black, yield day to night!
Comets, importing change of times and states,
Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky,
And with them scourge the bad revolting stars
That have consented unto Henry's death!5
King Henry the Fifth, too famous to live long!
England ne'er lost a king of so much worth.
GLOUCESTEREngland ne'er had a king until his time.
Virtue he had, deserving to command:
His brandish'd sword did blind men with his beams:10
His arms spread wider than a dragon's wings;
His sparking eyes, replete with wrathful fire,
More dazzled and drove back his enemies
Than mid-day sun fierce bent against their faces.
What should I say? his deeds exceed all speech:15
He ne'er lift up his hand but conquered.
EXETERWe mourn in black: why mourn we not in blood?
Henry is dead and never shall revive:
Upon a wooden coffin we attend,
And death's dishonourable victory20
We with our stately presence glorify,
Like captives bound to a triumphant car.
What! shall we curse the planets of mishap
That plotted thus our glory's overthrow?
Or shall we think the subtle-witted French25
Conjurers and sorcerers, that afraid of him
By magic verses have contrived his end?
BISHOP OF WINCHESTERHe was a king bless'd of the King of kings.
Unto the French the dreadful judgement-day
So dreadful will not be as was his sight.30
The battles of the Lord of hosts he fought:
The church's prayers made him so prosperous.
GLOUCESTERThe church! where is it? Had not churchmen pray'd,
His thread of life had not so soon decay'd:
None do you like but an effeminate prince,35
Whom, like a school-boy, you may over-awe.
BISHOP OF WINCHESTERGloucester, whate'er we like, thou art protector
And lookest to command the prince and realm.
Thy wife is proud; she holdeth thee in awe,
More than God or religious churchmen may.40
GLOUCESTERName not religion, for thou lovest the flesh,
And ne'er throughout the year to church thou go'st
Except it be to pray against thy foes.
BEDFORDCease, cease these jars and rest your minds in peace:
Let's to the altar: heralds, wait on us:45
Instead of gold, we'll offer up our arms:
Since arms avail not now that Henry's dead.
Posterity, await for wretched years,
When at their mothers' moist eyes babes shall suck,
Our isle be made a nourish of salt tears,50
And none but women left to wail the dead.
Henry the Fifth, thy ghost I invocate:
Prosper this realm, keep it from civil broils,
Combat with adverse planets in the heavens!
A far more glorious star thy soul will make55
Than Julius Caesar or bright--
[Enter a Messenger]
MessengerMy honourable lords, health to you all!
Sad tidings bring I to you out of France,
Of loss, of slaughter and discomfiture:
Guienne, Champagne, Rheims, Orleans,60
Paris, Guysors, Poictiers, are all quite lost.
BEDFORDWhat say'st thou, man, before dead Henry's corse?
Speak softly, or the loss of those great towns
Will make him burst his lead and rise from death.
GLOUCESTERIs Paris lost? is Rouen yielded up?65
If Henry were recall'd to life again,
These news would cause him once more yield the ghost.
EXETERHow were they lost? what treachery was used?
MessengerNo treachery; but want of men and money.
Amongst the soldiers this is muttered,70
That here you maintain several factions,
And whilst a field should be dispatch'd and fought,
You are disputing of your generals:
One would have lingering wars with little cost;
Another would fly swift, but wanteth wings;75
A third thinks, without expense at all,
By guileful fair words peace may be obtain'd.
Awake, awake, English nobility!
Let not sloth dim your horrors new-begot:
Cropp'd are the flower-de-luces in your arms;80
Of England's coat one half is cut away.
EXETERWere our tears wanting to this funeral,
These tidings would call forth their flowing tides.
BEDFORDMe they concern; Regent I am of France.
Give me my steeled coat. I'll fight for France.85
Away with these disgraceful wailing robes!
Wounds will I lend the French instead of eyes,

To weep their intermissive miseries.
[Enter to them another Messenger]
MessengerLords, view these letters full of bad mischance.
France is revolted from the English quite,90
Except some petty towns of no import:
The Dauphin Charles is crowned king of Rheims;
The Bastard of Orleans with him is join'd;
Reignier, Duke of Anjou, doth take his part;
The Duke of Alencon flieth to his side.95
EXETERThe Dauphin crowned king! all fly to him!
O, whither shall we fly from this reproach?
GLOUCESTERWe will not fly, but to our enemies' throats.
Bedford, if thou be slack, I'll fight it out.
BEDFORDGloucester, why doubt'st thou of my forwardness?100
An army have I muster'd in my thoughts,
Wherewith already France is overrun.
[Enter another Messenger]
MessengerMy gracious lords, to add to your laments,
Wherewith you now bedew King Henry's hearse,
I must inform you of a dismal fight105
Betwixt the stout Lord Talbot and the French.
BISHOP OF WINCHESTERWhat! wherein Talbot overcame? is't so?
MessengerO, no; wherein Lord Talbot was o'erthrown:
The circumstance I'll tell you more at large.
The tenth of August last this dreadful lord,110
Retiring from the siege of Orleans,
Having full scarce six thousand in his troop.
By three and twenty thousand of the French
Was round encompassed and set upon.
No leisure had he to enrank his men;115
He wanted pikes to set before his archers;
Instead whereof sharp stakes pluck'd out of hedges
They pitched in the ground confusedly,
To keep the horsemen off from breaking in.
More than three hours the fight continued;120
Where valiant Talbot above human thought
Enacted wonders with his sword and lance:
Hundreds he sent to hell, and none durst stand him;
Here, there, and every where, enraged he flew:
The French exclaim'd, the devil was in arms;125
All the whole army stood agazed on him:
His soldiers spying his undaunted spirit
A Talbot! a Talbot! cried out amain
And rush'd into the bowels of the battle.
Here had the conquest fully been seal'd up,130
If Sir John Fastolfe had not play'd the coward:
He, being in the vaward, placed behind
With purpose to relieve and follow them,
Cowardly fled, not having struck one stroke.
Hence grew the general wreck and massacre;135
Enclosed were they with their enemies:
A base Walloon, to win the Dauphin's grace,
Thrust Talbot with a spear into the back,
Whom all France with their chief assembled strength
Durst not presume to look once in the face.140
BEDFORDIs Talbot slain? then I will slay myself,
For living idly here in pomp and ease,
Whilst such a worthy leader, wanting aid,
Unto his dastard foemen is betray'd.
MessengerO no, he lives; but is took prisoner,145
And Lord Scales with him and Lord Hungerford:
Most of the rest slaughter'd or took likewise.
BEDFORDHis ransom there is none but I shall pay:
I'll hale the Dauphin headlong from his throne:
His crown shall be the ransom of my friend;150
Four of their lords I'll change for one of ours.
Farewell, my masters; to my task will I;
Bonfires in France forthwith I am to make,
To keep our great Saint George's feast withal:
Ten thousand soldiers with me I will take,155
Whose bloody deeds shall make all Europe quake.
MessengerSo you had need; for Orleans is besieged;
The English army is grown weak and faint:
The Earl of Salisbury craveth supply,
And hardly keeps his men from mutiny,160
Since they, so few, watch such a multitude.
EXETERRemember, lords, your oaths to Henry sworn,
Either to quell the Dauphin utterly,
Or bring him in obedience to your yoke.
BEDFORDI do remember it; and here take my leave,165
To go about my preparation.
GLOUCESTERI'll to the Tower with all the haste I can,
To view the artillery and munition;
And then I will proclaim young Henry king.
EXETERTo Eltham will I, where the young king is,170
Being ordain'd his special governor,
And for his safety there I'll best devise.
BISHOP OF WINCHESTEREach hath his place and function to attend:
I am left out; for me nothing remains.
But long I will not be Jack out of office:175
The king from Eltham I intend to steal
And sit at chiefest stern of public weal.

Continue to 1 Henry VI, Act 1, Scene 2


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