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Act II

Scene I

Saint Alban's

Enter King Henry VI, Queen Margaret, Gloucester, Cardinal, and Suffolk, with Falconers halloing

Queen Margaret

Believe me, lords, for flying at the brook,
I saw not better sport these seven years' day:
Yet, by your leave, the wind was very high;
And, ten to one, old Joan had not gone out.

King Henry VI

But what a point, my lord, your falcon made,
And what a pitch she flew above the rest!
To see how God in all his creatures works!
Yea, man and birds are fain of climbing high.

Suffolk

No marvel, an it like your majesty,
My lord protector's hawks do tower so well;
They know their master loves to be aloft,
And bears his thoughts above his falcon's pitch.

Gloucester

My lord, 'tis but a base ignoble mind
That mounts no higher than a bird can soar.

Cardinal

I thought as much; he would be above the clouds.

Gloucester

Ay, my lord cardinal? how think you by that?
Were it not good your grace could fly to heaven?

King Henry VI

The treasury of everlasting joy.

Cardinal

Thy heaven is on earth; thine eyes and thoughts
Beat on a crown, the treasure of thy heart;
Pernicious protector, dangerous peer,
That smooth'st it so with king and commonweal!

Gloucester

What, cardinal, is your priesthood grown peremptory?
Tantaene animis coelestibus irae?
Churchmen so hot? good uncle, hide such malice;
With such holiness can you do it?

Suffolk

No malice, sir; no more than well becomes
So good a quarrel and so bad a peer.

Gloucester

As who, my lord?

Suffolk

Why, as you, my lord,
An't like your lordly lord-protectorship.

Gloucester

Why, Suffolk, England knows thine insolence.

Queen Margaret

And thy ambition, Gloucester.

King Henry VI

I prithee, peace, good queen,
And whet not on these furious peers;
For blessed are the peacemakers on earth.

Cardinal

Let me be blessed for the peace I make,
Against this proud protector, with my sword!

Gloucester

Aside to Cardinal

Faith, holy uncle, would 'twere come to that!

Cardinal

Aside to Gloucester

Marry, when thou darest.

Gloucester

Aside to Cardinal

Make up no factious numbers for the matter;
In thine own person answer thy abuse.

Cardinal

Aside to Gloucester

Ay, where thou darest not peep: an if thou darest,
This evening, on the east side of the grove.

King Henry VI

How now, my lords!

Cardinal

Believe me, cousin Gloucester,
Had not your man put up the fowl so suddenly,
We had had more sport.

Aside to Gloucester

Come with thy two-hand sword.

Gloucester

True, uncle.

Cardinal

Aside to Gloucester

Are ye advised? the east side of the grove?

Gloucester

Aside to Cardinal

Cardinal, I am with you.

King Henry VI

Why, how now, uncle Gloucester!

Gloucester

Talking of hawking; nothing else, my lord.

Aside to Cardinal

Now, by God's mother, priest, I'll shave your crown for this,
Or all my fence shall fail.

Cardinal

Aside to Gloucester

Medice, teipsum—
Protector, see to't well, protect yourself.

King Henry VI

The winds grow high; so do your stomachs, lords.
How irksome is this music to my heart!
When such strings jar, what hope of harmony?
I pray, my lords, let me compound this strife.

Enter a Townsman of Saint Alban's, crying 'A miracle!'

Gloucester

What means this noise?
Fellow, what miracle dost thou proclaim?

Townsman

A miracle! a miracle!

Suffolk

Come to the king and tell him what miracle.

Townsman

Forsooth, a blind man at Saint Alban's shrine,
Within this half-hour, hath received his sight;
A man that ne'er saw in his life before.

King Henry VI

Now, God be praised, that to believing souls
Gives light in darkness, comfort in despair!

Enter the Mayor of Saint Alban's and his brethren, bearing Simpcox, between two in a chair, Simpcox's Wife following

Cardinal

Here comes the townsmen on procession,
To present your highness with the man.

King Henry VI

Great is his comfort in this earthly vale,
Although by his sight his sin be multiplied.

Gloucester

Stand by, my masters: bring him near the king;
His highness' pleasure is to talk with him.

King Henry VI

Good fellow, tell us here the circumstance,
That we for thee may glorify the Lord.
What, hast thou been long blind and now restored?

Simpcox

Born blind, an't please your grace.

Wife

Ay, indeed, was he.

Suffolk

What woman is this?

Wife

His wife, an't like your worship.

Gloucester

Hadst thou been his mother, thou couldst have better told.

King Henry VI

Where wert thou born?

Simpcox

At Berwick in the north, an't like your grace.

King Henry VI

Poor soul, God's goodness hath been great to thee:
Let never day nor night unhallow'd pass,
But still remember what the Lord hath done.

Queen Margaret

Tell me, good fellow, camest thou here by chance,
Or of devotion, to this holy shrine?

Simpcox

God knows, of pure devotion; being call'd
A hundred times and oftener, in my sleep,
By good Saint Alban; who said, 'Simpcox, come,
Come, offer at my shrine, and I will help thee.'

Wife

Most true, forsooth; and many time and oft
Myself have heard a voice to call him so.

Cardinal

What, art thou lame?

Simpcox

Ay, God Almighty help me!

Suffolk

How camest thou so?

Simpcox

A fall off of a tree.

Wife

A plum-tree, master.

Gloucester

How long hast thou been blind?

Simpcox

Born so, master.

Gloucester

What, and wouldst climb a tree?

Simpcox

But that in all my life, when I was a youth.

Wife

Too true; and bought his climbing very dear.

Gloucester

Mass, thou lovedst plums well, that wouldst venture so.

Simpcox

Alas, good master, my wife desired some damsons,
And made me climb, with danger of my life.

Gloucester

A subtle knave! but yet it shall not serve.
Let me see thine eyes: wink now: now open them:
In my opinion yet thou seest not well.

Simpcox

Yes, master, clear as day, I thank God and
Saint Alban.

Gloucester

Say'st thou me so? What colour is this cloak of?

Simpcox

Red, master; red as blood.

Gloucester

Why, that's well said. What colour is my gown of?

Simpcox

Black, forsooth: coal-black as jet.

King Henry VI

Why, then, thou know'st what colour jet is of?

Suffolk

And yet, I think, jet did he never see.

Gloucester

But cloaks and gowns, before this day, a many.

Wife

Never, before this day, in all his life.

Gloucester

Tell me, sirrah, what's my name?

Simpcox

Alas, master, I know not.

Gloucester

What's his name?

Simpcox

I know not.

Gloucester

Nor his?

Simpcox

No, indeed, master.

Gloucester

What's thine own name?

Simpcox

Saunder Simpcox, an if it please you, master.

Gloucester

Then, Saunder, sit there, the lyingest knave in Christendom. If thou hadst been born blind, thou mightest as well have known all our names as thus to name the several colours we do wear. Sight may distinguish of colours, but suddenly to nominate them all, it is impossible. My lords, Saint Alban here hath done a miracle; and would ye not think his cunning to be great, that could restore this cripple to his legs again?

Simpcox

O master, that you could!

Gloucester

My masters of Saint Alban's, have you not beadles in your town, and things called whips?

Mayor

Yes, my lord, if it please your grace.

Gloucester

Then send for one presently.

Mayor

Sirrah, go fetch the beadle hither straight.

Exit an Attendant

Gloucester

Now fetch me a stool hither by and by. Now, sirrah, if you mean to save yourself from whipping, leap me over this stool and run away.

Simpcox

Alas, master, I am not able to stand alone:
You go about to torture me in vain.

Enter a Beadle with whips

Gloucester

Well, sir, we must have you find your legs. Sirrah beadle, whip him till he leap over that same stool.

Beadle

I will, my lord. Come on, sirrah; off with your doublet quickly.

Simpcox

Alas, master, what shall I do? I am not able to stand.

After the Beadle hath hit him once, he leaps over the stool and runs away; and they follow and cry, 'A miracle!'

King Henry VI

O God, seest Thou this, and bearest so long?

Queen Margaret

It made me laugh to see the villain run.

Gloucester

Follow the knave; and take this drab away.

Wife

Alas, sir, we did it for pure need.

Gloucester

Let them be whipped through every market-town, till they come to Berwick, from whence they came.

Exeunt Wife, Beadle, Mayor, &c

Cardinal

Duke Humphrey has done a miracle to-day.

Suffolk

True; made the lame to leap and fly away.

Gloucester

But you have done more miracles than I;
You made in a day, my lord, whole towns to fly.

Enter Buckingham

King Henry VI

What tidings with our cousin Buckingham?

Buckingham

Such as my heart doth tremble to unfold.
A sort of naughty persons, lewdly bent,
Under the countenance and confederacy
Of Lady Eleanor, the protector's wife,
The ringleader and head of all this rout,
Have practised dangerously against your state,
Dealing with witches and with conjurers:
Whom we have apprehended in the fact;
Raising up wicked spirits from under ground,
Demanding of King Henry's life and death,
And other of your highness' privy-council;
As more at large your grace shall understand.

Cardinal

Aside to Gloucester

And so, my lord protector, by this means
Your lady is forthcoming yet at London.
This news, I think, hath turn'd your weapon's edge;
'Tis like, my lord, you will not keep your hour.

Gloucester

Ambitious churchman, leave to afflict my heart:
Sorrow and grief have vanquish'd all my powers;
And, vanquish'd as I am, I yield to thee,
Or to the meanest groom.

King Henry VI

O God, what mischiefs work the wicked ones,
Heaping confusion on their own heads thereby!

Queen Margaret

Gloucester, see here the tainture of thy nest.
And look thyself be faultless, thou wert best.

Gloucester

Madam, for myself, to heaven I do appeal,
How I have loved my king and commonweal:
And, for my wife, I know not how it stands;
Sorry I am to hear what I have heard:
Noble she is, but if she have forgot
Honour and virtue and conversed with such
As, like to pitch, defile nobility,
I banish her my bed and company
And give her as a prey to law and shame,
That hath dishonour'd Gloucester's honest name.

King Henry VI

Well, for this night we will repose us here:
To-morrow toward London back again,
To look into this business thoroughly
And call these foul offenders to their answers
And poise the cause in justice' equal scales,
Whose beam stands sure, whose rightful cause prevails.

Flourish. Exeunt

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