William Shakespeare: Henry VI (Pt 2), Act I, Scene III
Enter three or four Petitioners, Peter, the Armourer's man, being one
My masters, let's stand close: my lord protector will come this way by and by, and then we may deliver our supplications in the quill.
Enter Suffolk and Queen Margaret
[Reading] 'To my Lord Protector!' Are your supplications to his lordship? Let me see them: what is thine?
Mine is, an't please your grace, against John Goodman, my lord cardinal's man, for keeping my house, and lands, and wife and all, from me.
Thy wife, too! that's some wrong, indeed. What's yours? What's here!
'Against the Duke of Suffolk, for enclosing the commons of Melford.' How now, sir knave!
Giving his petition
Against my master, Thomas Horner, for saying that the Duke of York was rightful heir to the crown.
That my master was? no, forsooth: my master said that he was, and that the king was an usurper.
Who is there?
Take this fellow in, and send for his master with a pursuivant presently: we'll hear more of your matter before the King.
Exit Servant with Peter
And as for you, that love to be protected
Under the wings of our protector's grace,
Begin your suits anew, and sue to him.
Tears the supplication
Away, base cullions! Suffolk, let them go.
My Lord of Suffolk, say, is this the guise,
Is this the fashion in the court of England?
Is this the government of Britain's isle,
And this the royalty of Albion's king?
What shall King Henry be a pupil still
Under the surly Gloucester's governance?
Am I a queen in title and in style,
And must be made a subject to a duke?
I tell thee, Pole, when in the city Tours
Thou ran'st a tilt in honour of my love
And stolest away the ladies' hearts of France,
I thought King Henry had resembled thee
In courage, courtship and proportion:
But all his mind is bent to holiness,
To number Ave-Maries on his beads;
His champions are the prophets and apostles,
His weapons holy saws of sacred writ,
His study is his tilt-yard, and his loves
Are brazen images of canonized saints.
I would the college of the cardinals
Would choose him pope, and carry him to Rome,
And set the triple crown upon his head:
That were a state fit for his holiness.
Madam, be patient: as I was cause
Your highness came to England, so will I
In England work your grace's full content.
Beside the haughty protector, have we Beaufort,
The imperious churchman, Somerset, Buckingham,
And grumbling York: and not the least of these
But can do more in England than the king.
And he of these that can do most of all
Cannot do more in England than the Nevils:
Salisbury and Warwick are no simple peers.
Not all these lords do vex me half so much
As that proud dame, the lord protector's wife.
She sweeps it through the court with troops of ladies,
More like an empress than Duke Humphrey's wife:
Strangers in court do take her for the queen:
She bears a duke's revenues on her back,
And in her heart she scorns our poverty:
Shall I not live to be avenged on her?
Contemptuous base-born callet as she is,
She vaunted 'mongst her minions t'other day,
The very train of her worst wearing gown
Was better worth than all my father's lands,
Till Suffolk gave two dukedoms for his daughter.
Madam, myself have limed a bush for her,
And placed a quire of such enticing birds,
That she will light to listen to the lays,
And never mount to trouble you again.
So, let her rest: and, madam, list to me;
For I am bold to counsel you in this.
Although we fancy not the cardinal,
Yet must we join with him and with the lords,
Till we have brought Duke Humphrey in disgrace.
As for the Duke of York, this late complaint
Will make but little for his benefit.
So, one by one, we'll weed them all at last,
And you yourself shall steer the happy helm.
Sound a sennet. Enter King Henry VI, Gloucester, Cardinal, Buckingham, York, Somerset, Salisbury, Warwick, and the Duchess
Resign it then and leave thine insolence.
Since thou wert king—as who is king but thou?—
The commonwealth hath daily run to wreck;
The Dauphin hath prevail'd beyond the seas;
And all the peers and nobles of the realm
Have been as bondmen to thy sovereignty.
Thy cruelty in execution
Upon offenders, hath exceeded law,
And left thee to the mercy of the law.
They sale of offices and towns in France,
If they were known, as the suspect is great,
Would make thee quickly hop without thy head.
Exit Gloucester. Queen Margaret drops her fan
Give me my fan: what, minion! can ye not?
She gives the Duchess a box on the ear
I cry you mercy, madam; was it you?
Was't I! yea, I it was, proud Frenchwoman:
Could I come near your beauty with my nails,
I'd set my ten commandments in your face.
Against her will! good king, look to't in time;
She'll hamper thee, and dandle thee like a baby:
Though in this place most master wear no breeches,
She shall not strike Dame Eleanor unrevenged.
Lord cardinal, I will follow Eleanor,
And listen after Humphrey, how he proceeds:
She's tickled now; her fume needs no spurs,
She'll gallop far enough to her destruction. [Exit]
Now, lords, my choler being over-blown
With walking once about the quadrangle,
I come to talk of commonwealth affairs.
As for your spiteful false objections,
Prove them, and I lie open to the law:
But God in mercy so deal with my soul,
As I in duty love my king and country!
But, to the matter that we have in hand:
I say, my sovereign, York is meetest man
To be your regent in the realm of France.
Before we make election, give me leave
To show some reason, of no little force,
That York is most unmeet of any man.
I'll tell thee, Suffolk, why I am unmeet:
First, for I cannot flatter thee in pride;
Next, if I be appointed for the place,
My Lord of Somerset will keep me here,
Without discharge, money, or furniture,
Till France be won into the Dauphin's hands:
Last time, I danced attendance on his will
Till Paris was besieged, famish'd, and lost.
Enter Horner, the Armourer, and his man Peter, guarded
Please it your majesty, this is the man
That doth accuse his master of high treason:
His words were these: that Richard, Duke of York,
Was rightful heir unto the English crown
And that your majesty was a usurper.
An't shall please your majesty, I never said nor thought any such matter: God is my witness, I am falsely accused by the villain.
By these ten bones, my lords, he did speak them to me in the garret one night, as we were scouring my Lord of York's armour.
Base dunghill villain and mechanical,
I'll have thy head for this thy traitor's speech.
I do beseech your royal majesty,
Let him have all the rigor of the law.
Alas, my lord, hang me, if ever I spake the words. My accuser is my 'prentice; and when I did correct him for his fault the other day, he did vow upon his knees he would be even with me: I have good witness of this: therefore I beseech your majesty, do not cast away an honest man for a villain's accusation.
This doom, my lord, if I may judge:
Let Somerset be regent over the French,
Because in York this breeds suspicion:
And let these have a day appointed them
For single combat in convenient place,
For he hath witness of his servant's malice:
This is the law, and this Duke Humphrey's doom.
Alas, my lord, I cannot fight; for God's sake, pity my case. The spite of man prevaileth against me. O Lord, have mercy upon me! I shall never be able to fight a blow. O Lord, my heart!
Away with them to prison; and the day of combat shall be the last of the next month. Come, Somerset, we'll see thee sent away.