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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    Sound a Flourish. Enter Charles [the Dauphin, the Duke of] Alencon, and Reignier [Duke of Anjou], marching with Drum[mer] and Soldiers.
    Mars his true moving, even as in the heavens,
    So in the earth, to this day is not known.
    Late did he shine upon the English side;
    Now we are victors, upon us he smiles.
    What towns of any moment but we have?
    200At pleasure here we lie near Orléans
    Otherwhiles, the famished English, like pale ghosts,
    Faintly besiege us one hour in a month.
    They want their porridge and their fat bull beeves.
    Either they must be dieted like mules,
    205And have their provender tied to their mouths,
    Or piteous they will look, like drownèd mice.
    Let's raise the siege. Why live we idly here?
    Talbot is taken, whom we wont to fear.
    Remaineth none but mad-brained Salisbury,
    210And he may well in fretting spend his gall:
    Nor men nor money hath he to make war.
    Sound, sound alarum. We will rush on them.
    Now for the honor of the forlorn French,
    Him I forgive my death that killeth me
    215When he sees me go back one foot, or flee.
    Here alarum. They [the French] are beaten back by the English, with great loss. Enter Charles [the Dauphin, the Duke of] Alencon, and Reignier [Duke of Anjou].
    Who ever saw the like? What men have I?
    220Dogs, cowards, dastards. I would ne'er have fled,
    But that they left me 'midst my enemies.
    Salisbury is a desperate homicide.
    He fighteth as one weary of his life.
    The other lords, like lions wanting food,
    225Do rush upon us as their hungry prey.
    Froissart, a countryman of ours, records
    England all Olivers and Rowlands bred,
    During the time Edward the Third did reign.
    More truly now may this be verified,
    230For none but Samsons and Goliasses
    It sendeth forth to skirmish. One to ten?
    Lean raw-boned rascals, who would e'er suppose
    They had such courage and audacity?
    Let's leave this town, 235for they are hare-brained slaves,
    And hunger will enforce them to be more eager.
    Of old I know them: rather with their teeth
    The walls they'll tear down, than forsake the siege.
    I think by some odd gimmers or device
    240Their arms are set, like clocks, still to strike on,
    Else ne'er could they hold out so as they do.
    By my consent we'll even let them alone.
    Be it so.
    Enter the Bastard of Orléans.
    Where's the Prince Dauphin? I have news for him.
    Bastard of Orléans, thrice welcome to us.
    Methinks your looks are sad, your cheer appalled.
    Hath the late overthrow wrought this offense?
    250Be not dismayed, for succor is at hand.
    A holy maid hither with me I bring,
    Which, by a vision sent to her from heaven,
    Ordainèd is to raise this tedious siege
    And drive the English forth the bounds of France.
    255The spirit of deep prophecy she hath,
    Exceeding the nine sibyls of old Rome.
    What's past and what's to come she can descry.
    Speak: shall I call her in? Believe my words,
    For they are certain, and unfallible.
    Go call her in.
    [Exit Bastard.]
    But first, to try her skill.
    Reignier stand thou as Dauphin in my place.
    Question her proudly; let thy looks be stern.
    By this means shall we sound what skill she hath.
    Enter [the Bastard of Orléans with] Joan [la] Pucelle [bearing sword.]
    [As Charles.] Fair maid, is't thou wilt do these wondrous feats?
    Reignier, is't thou that thinkest to beguile me?
    Where is the Dauphin? [To Charles.] Come, come from behind.
    I know thee well, though never seen before.
    270Be not amazed. There's nothing hid from me.
    In private will I talk with thee apart.
    Stand back you lords, and give us leave a while.
    [Reignier, Alencon, and Bastard stand apart.]
    [To Alencon and Bastard.] She takes upon her bravely, at first dash.
    Dauphin, I am by birth a shepherd's daughter.
    275My wit untrained in any kind of art.
    Heaven and our Lady gracious hath it pleased
    To shine on my contemptible estate.
    Lo, whilst I waited on my tender lambs,
    And to sun's parching heat displayed my cheeks,
    280God's mother deignèd to appear to me,
    And in a vision, full of majesty,
    Willed me to leave my base vocation
    And free my country from calamity.
    Her aid she promised, and assured success.
    285In complete glory she revealed herself;
    And whereas I was black and swart before,
    With those clear rays which she infused on me
    That beauty am I blest with, which you may see.
    Ask me what question thou canst possible,
    290And I will answer unpremeditated.
    My courage try by combat, if thou dar'st,
    And thou shalt find that I exceed my sex.
    Resolve on this: thou shalt be fortunate,
    If thou receive me for thy warlike mate.
    Thou hast astonished me with thy high terms.
    Only this proof I'll of thy valor make:
    In single combat thou shalt buckle with me.
    And if thou vanquishest, thy words are true;
    Otherwise, I renounce all confidence.
    I am prepared. Here is my keen-edged sword,
    Decked with five flower-de-luces on each side;
    The which at Touraine, in Saint Katherine's churchyard,
    Out of a great deal of old iron I chose forth.
    Then come a God's name, I fear no woman.
    And while I live, I'll ne'er fly from a man.
    Here they fight, and Joan [la] Pucelle overcomes.
    Stay, stay thy hands. Thou art an Amazon,
    And fightest with the sword of Deborah.
    Christ's mother helps me, else I were too 310weak.
    Whoe'er helps thee, 'tis thou that must help me.
    Impatiently I burn with thy desire.
    My heart and hands thou hast at once subdued.
    Excellent Pucelle if thy name be so,
    315Let me thy servant, and not sovereign be.
    'Tis the French Dauphin sueth to thee thus.
    I must not yield to any rights of love,
    For my profession's sacred from above.
    When I have chasèd all thy foes from hence,
    320Then will I think upon a recompense.
    Meantime, look gracious on thy prostrate thrall.
    [To the other lords apart.] My Lord methinks is very long in talk.
    Doubtless he shrives this woman to her smock,
    325Else ne'er could he so long protract his speech.
    Shall we disturb him, since he keeps no mean?
    He may mean more then we poor men do know.
    These women are shrewd tempters with their tongues.
    [To Charles.] My Lord, where are you? What devise you on?
    Shall we give o'er Orléans, or no?
    Why, no, I say. Distrustful recreants,
    Fight till the last gasp; I'll be your guard.
    What she says, I'll confirm. We'll fight 335it out.
    Assigned am I to be the English scourge.
    This night the siege assurèdly I'll raise.
    Expect Saint Martin's summer, halcyon's days,
    Since I have enterèd into these wars.
    340Glory is like a circle in the water,
    Which never ceaseth to enlarge itself
    Till, by broad spreading, it disperse to naught.
    With Henry's death, the English circle ends.
    Dispersèd are the glories it included.
    345Now am I like that proud insulting ship
    Which Caesar and his fortune bore at once.
    Was Muhammed inspirèd with a dove?
    Thou with an eagle art inspirèd then.
    Helen, the mother of great Constantine,
    350Nor yet Saint Philip's daughters were like thee.
    Bright star of Venus, fall'n down on the earth,
    How may I reverently worship thee enough?
    Leave off delays, and let us raise the siege.
    Woman, do what thou canst to save our honors.
    Drive them from Orléans, and be immortalized.
    Presently we'll try. Come, let's away about it.
    No prophet will I trust, if she prove false.