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FIRST PART OF
KING HENRY VI.
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.
Bed. Hung be the heavens with black,' yield day to night!
Comets, importing change of times and states,
Glo. England ne'er had a king, until his time.
Hung be the heavens with black,] Alluding to our ancient stage-practice when a tragedy was to be expected.
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:
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;
Win. Gloster, whate'er we like, thou art protector;
And lookest to command the prince, and realm.
Glo. Name not religion, for thou lov'st the flesh; And ne'er throughout the year to church thou go'st,
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:-
Since arms avail not, now that Henry's dead.-
When at their mothers' moist eyes babes shall suck;
Enter a Messenger.
Mess. My honourable lords, health to
Bed. What say'st thou, man, before dead Henry's
Speak softly; or the loss of those great towns
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,
Let not sloth dim your honours, new-begot:
Exe. Were our tears wanting to this funeral,
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;
Exe. The Dauphin crowned king! all fly to him! O, whither shall we fly from this reproach?
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.
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,
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 circumstance I'll tell you more at large.