Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Henry VI, Part 1 (Modern)
  • Editor:

  • Copyright . This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Henry VI, Part 1 (Modern)

    Dead March. Enter the funeral of King Henry the Fifth, attended on by the Duke of Bedford (Regent of France) the Duke5 of Gloucester (Protector), the Duke of Exeter [the Earl of] Warwick, the Bishop of Winchester, and the Duke of Somerset.
    Hung be the heavens with black. Yield day to night.
    10Comets, 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.
    King Henry the Fifth, too famous to live long.
    15England ne'er lost a king of so much worth.
    England ne'er had a king until his time:
    Virtue he had, deserving to command.
    His brandished sword did blind men with his beams.
    His arms spread wider than a dragon's wings.
    20His sparkling eyes, replete with wrathful fire,
    More dazzled and drove back his enemies
    Than midday sun, fierce bent against their faces.
    What should I say? His deeds exceed all speech.
    He ne'er lift up his hand, but conquerèd.
    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 dishonorable victory,
    We with our stately presence glorify
    30Like 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 French,
    Conjurers and sorcerers, that, afraid of him,
    35By magic verses have contrived his end?
    He was a king, blest 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.
    40The Church's prayers made him so prosperous.
    The Church? Where is it?
    Had not churchmen prayed,
    His thread of life had not so soon decayed.
    None do you like but an effeminate prince,
    45Whom like a schoolboy you may overawe.
    Gloucester, 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.
    Name not religion, for thou lov'st the flesh,
    And ne'er throughout the year to church thou go'st,
    Except it be to pray against thy foes.
    Cease, cease these jars, and rest your minds in peace.
    Let's to the altar. Heralds wait on us.
    55Instead 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 mother's moistened eyes, babes shall suck,
    Our isle be made a nourish of salt tears,
    60And 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
    65Than Julius Caesar, or bright--
    Enter a Messenger.
    1 Messenger
    My honorable lords, health to you all.
    Sad tidings bring I to you out of France,
    Of loss, of slaughter, and discomfiture.
    70Guyenne, Campiègne, Rouen, Reims, OrlĂ©ans,
    Paris, Gisors, Poitiers, are all quite lost.
    What sayst thou, man, before dead Henry's corpse?
    Speak softly, or the loss of those great towns
    Will make him burst his lead and rise from death.
    Is Paris lost? Is Rouen yielded up?
    If Henry were recalled to life again,
    These news would cause him once more yield the ghost.
    How were they lost? What treachery was used?
    1 Messenger
    No treachery, but want of men and money.
    80Amongst the soldiers this is mutterèd:
    That here you maintain several factions,
    And whilst a field should be dispatched and fought,
    You are disputing of your generals.
    One would have ling'ring wars, with little cost;
    85Another would fly swift, but wanteth wings;
    A third thinks, without expense at all,
    By guileful fair words peace may be obtained.
    Awake, awake, English nobility.
    Let not sloth dim your honors new-begot.
    90Cropped are the flower-de-luces in your arms;
    Of England's coat, one half is cut away.
    Were our tears wanting to this funeral,
    These tidings would call forth her flowing tides.
    Me they concern; Regent I am of France.
    95Give me my steelèd coat. I'll fight for France.
    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 [with letters].
    1002 Messenger
    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 crownèd king in Reims;
    The Bastard of Orléans with him is joined;
    105Reignier, Duke of Anjou, doth take his part;
    The Duke of Alencon flyeth to his side.
    The Dauphin crownèd King? All fly to him?
    O whither shall we fly from this reproach?
    We will not fly, but to our enemies' throats.
    110Bedford, if thou be slack, I'll fight it out.
    Gloucester, why doubt'st thou of my forwardness?
    An army have I mustered in my thoughts,
    Wherewith already France is overrun.
    Enter another Messenger.
    1153 Messenger
    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.
    What, wherein Talbot overcame, is't so?
    1203 Messenger
    O no, wherein Lord Talbot was o'erthrown.
    The circumstance I'll tell you more at large.
    The tenth of August last, this dreadful lord,
    Retiring from the Siege of Orléans,
    Having full scarce six thousand in his troop,
    125By three-and-twenty thousand of the French
    Was round encompassèd and set upon.
    No leisure had he to enrank his men.
    He wanted pikes to set before his archers;
    Instead whereof, sharp stakes plucked out of hedges
    130They pitchèd in the ground confusèdly,
    To keep the horsemen off, from breaking in.
    More than three hours the fight continuèd:
    Where valiant Talbot, above human thought,
    Enacted wonders with his sword and lance.
    135Hundreds he sent to hell, and none durst stand him;
    Here, there, and everywhere, enraged he slew.
    The French exclaimed the devil was in arms,
    All the whole army stood agazed on him.
    His soldiers, spying his undaunted spirit,
    140"A Talbot! A Talbot!" cried out amain,
    And rushed into the bowels of the battle.
    Here had the conquest fully been sealed up,
    If Sir John Falstaff had not played the coward.
    He being in the vayward placed behind,
    145With purpose to relieve and follow them,
    Cowardly fled, not having struck one stroke.
    Hence grew the general wrack and massacre:
    Enclosèd were they with their enemies.
    A base Walloon, to win the Dauphin's grace,
    150Thrust Talbot with a spear into the back,
    Whom all France, with their chief assembled strength,
    Durst not presume to look once in the face.
    Is Talbot slain then? I will slay myself,
    For living idly here in pomp and ease
    155Whilst such a worthy leader, wanting aid,
    Unto his dastard foemen is betrayed.
    3 Messenger
    O no, he lives, but is took prisoner,
    And Lord Scales with him, and Lord Hungerford;
    Most of the rest slaughtered, or took likewise.
    His 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.
    Four of their lords I'll change for one of ours.
    Farewell my masters; to my task will I.
    165Bonfires in France forthwith I am to make,
    To keep our great Saint George's feast withal.
    Ten thousand soldiers with me I will take,
    Whose bloody deeds shall make all Europe quake.
    3 Messenger
    So you had need, for Orléans is besieged,
    170The English army is grown weak and faint.
    The Earl of Salisbury craveth supply,
    And hardly keeps his men from mutiny,
    Since they, so few, watch such a multitude.
    Remember, lords, your oaths to Henry sworn:
    175Either to quell the Dauphin utterly,
    Or bring him in obedience to your yoke.
    I do remember it, and here take my leave
    To go about my preparation.
    Exit Bedford.
    I'll to the Tower with all the haste I can,
    180To view th'artillery and munition,
    And then I will proclaim young Henry king.
    Exit Gloucester.
    To Eltham will I, where the young King is,
    Being ordained his special governor,
    185And for his safety there I'll best devise.
    Exit [Exeter].
    Each 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.
    The King from Eltham I intend to send,
    190And sit at chiefest stern of public weal.
    Exit [Winchester].