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FIRST PART OF

KING HENRY VI.

ACT I.

SCENE I. Westminster Abbey.

Dead march. Corpse of King Henry the Fifth discovered, lying in state; attended on by the Dukes of BEDFORD, GLOSTER, and EXETER; the Earl of WARWICK, the Bishop of Winchester, Heralds, &c.

1

Bed. Hung 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!
Henry the fifth, too famous to live long!
England ne'er lost a king of so much worth.

Glo. England ne'er had a king, until his time.
Virtue he had, deserving to command:
His brandish'd sword did blind men with his beams;
His arms spread wider than a dragon's wings;
His sparkling eyes replete with wrathful fire,
More dazzled and drove back his enemies,

Hung be the heavens with black,] Alluding to our ancient stage-practice when a tragedy was to be expected.

VOL. VI.

M

Than mid-day sun, fierce bent against their faces. What should I say? his deeds exceed all speech: He ne'er lift up his hand, but conquered.

Exe. We 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 victory
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 French2
Conjurers and sorcerers, that, afraid of him,
By magick verses have contriv'd his end?

Win. He was a king bless'd of the King of kings. Unto the French the dreadful judgment day So dreadful will not be, as was his sight. The battles of the Lord of hosts he fought: The church's prayers made him so prosperous.

Glo. The 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,
Whom, like a school-boy, you may over-awe.

Win. Gloster, 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.

Glo. Name not religion, for thou lov'st the flesh; And ne'er throughout the year to church thou go'st,

2

the subtle-witted French, &c.] There was a notion prevalent a long time, that life might be taken away by metrical charms. As superstition grew weaker, these charms were imagined only to have power on irrational animals. In our author's time it was supposed that the Irish could kill rats by a song.

Except it be to pray against thy foes.

Bed. Cease, cease these jars, and rest your minds in peace!

Let's to the altar:-Heralds, wait on us:-
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 nourish3 of salt tears,
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 make,
Than Julius Cæsar, or bright-

Enter a Messenger.

Mess. My honourable lords, health to
Sad tidings bring I to you out of France,
Of loss, of slaughter, and discomfiture:
Guienne, Champaigne, Rheims, Orleans,
Paris, Guysors, Poictiers, are all quite lost.

Bed. What say'st thou, man, before dead Henry's

you all!

corse?

Speak softly; or the loss of those great towns
Will make him burst his lead, and rise from death.
Glo. Is Paris lost? is Roüen yielded up?
If Henry were recall'd to life again,

These news would cause him once more yield the ghost.

Exe. How were they lost? what treachery was us'd?

3 Our isle be made a nourish,] probably a nurse.

Mess. No treachery; but want of men and money. Among the soldiers this is muttered,That here you maintain several factions;

And, whilst a field should be despatch'd and fought,
You are disputing of your generals.
One would have ling'ring wars, with little cost;
Another would fly swift but wanteth wings;
A third man thinks, without expence at all,
By guileful fair words peace may be obtain❜d.
Awake, awake, English nobility!

Let not sloth dim your honours, new-begot:
Cropp'd are the flower-de-luces in your arms;
Of England's coat one half is cut away.

Exe. Were our tears wanting to this funeral,
These tidings would call forth her flowing tides.*

Bed. Me they concern; regent I am of France:Give me my steeled coat, I'll fight for France.— Away with these disgraceful wailing robes! Wounds I will lend the French, instead of eyes, To weep their intermissive miseries."

Enter another Messenger.

2 Mess. Lords, view these letters, full of bad mischance,

France is revolted from the English quite;
Except some petty towns of no import:
The Dauphin Charles is crowned king in Rheims;
The bastard of Orleans with him is join'd;
Reignier, duke of Anjou, doth take his part;
The duke of Alençon flieth to his side.

Exe. The Dauphin crowned king! all fly to him! O, whither shall we fly from this reproach?

our enemies'

Glo. We will not fly, but to

throats:Bedford, if thou be slack, I'll fight it out.

4 -her flowing tides.] i. e. England's flowing tides.

5

their intermissive miseries.] i. e. their miseries, which have had only a short intermission from Henry the Fifth's death to my coming amongst them.

Bed. Gloster, why doubt'st thou of my forwardness?

An army have I muster'd in my thoughts,
Wherewith already France is over-run.

Enter a third Messenger.

3 Mess. My gracious lords,-to add to your laments, Wherewith you now bedew king Henry's hearse,I must inform you of a dismal fight, Betwixt the stout lord Talbot and the French.

Win. What! wherein Talbot overcame? is't so? 3 Mess. O, no; wherein lord Talbot was o'erthrown:

Here, there, and every where, enrag'd he slew:
The French exclaim'd, The devil was in arms;
All the whole army stood agaz'd 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,

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The circumstance I'll tell you more at large.
The tenth of August last, this dreadful lord,
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;
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;
Where valiant Talbot, above human thought,
Enacted wonders with his sword and lance.
Hundreds he sent to hell, and none durst stand
him;

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