ACT I
Scene III.
 

London. The palace

Enter three or four PETITIONERS, PETER, the Armourer's man, being one

FIRST PETITIONER
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.

SECOND PETITIONER
Marry, the Lord protect him, for he's a good
man, Jesu bless him!

Enter SUFFOLK and QUEEN

FIRST PETITIONER
Here 'a comes, methinks, and the Queen with him.
I'll be the first, sure.

SECOND PETITIONER
Come back, fool; this is the Duke of Suffolk and
not my Lord Protector.

SUFFOLK
How now, fellow! Wouldst anything with me?

FIRST PETITIONER
I pray, my lord, pardon me; I took ye for my Lord
Protector.

QUEEN
[Reads] 'To my Lord Protector!' Are your supplications to
his lordship? Let me see them. What is thine?

FIRST PETITIONER
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.

SUFFOLK
Thy wife too! That's some wrong indeed. What's yours?
What's here! [Reads] 'Against the Duke of Suffolk, for enclosing
the commons of Melford.' How now, sir knave!

SECOND PETITIONER
Alas, sir, I am but a poor petitioner of our
whole township.

PETER
[Presenting his petition] Against my master, Thomas Horner,
for saying that the Duke of York was rightful heir to the crown.

QUEEN
What say'st thou? Did the Duke of York say he was rightful
heir to the crown?

PETER
That my master was? No, forsooth. My master said that he
was, and that the King was an usurper.

SUFFOLK
Who is there? [Enter servant] 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

QUEEN
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 supplications]

Away, base cullions! Suffolk, let them go.

ALL
Come, let's be gone.

Exeunt

QUEEN
My Lord of Suffolk, say, is this the guise,
Is this the fashions 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 stol'st 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.

SUFFOLK
Madam, be patient. As I was cause
Your Highness came to England, so will I
In England work your Grace's full content.

QUEEN
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.

SUFFOLK
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.

QUEEN
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 aveng'd 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.

SUFFOLK
Madam, myself have lim'd a bush for her,
And plac'd 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 the KING, DUKE HUMPHREY, CARDINAL BEAUFORT, BUCKINGHAM, YORK, SOMERSET, SALISBURY, WARWICK, and the DUCHESS OF GLOUCESTER

KING HENRY
For my part, noble lords, I care not which:
Or Somerset or York, all's one to me.

YORK
If York have ill demean'd himself in France,
Then let him be denay'd the regentship.

SOMERSET
If Somerset be unworthy of the place,
Let York be Regent; I will yield to him.

WARWICK
Whether your Grace be worthy, yea or no,
Dispute not that; York is the worthier.

CARDINAL
Ambitious Warwick, let thy betters speak.

WARWICK
The Cardinal's not my better in the field.

BUCKINGHAM
All in this presence are thy betters, Warwick.

WARWICK
Warwick may live to be the best of all.

SALISBURY
Peace, son! And show some reason, Buckingham,
Why Somerset should be preferr'd in this.

QUEEN
Because the King, forsooth, will have it so.

GLOUCESTER
Madam, the King is old enough himself
To give his censure. These are no women's matters.

QUEEN
If he be old enough, what needs your Grace
To be Protector of his Excellence?

GLOUCESTER
Madam, I am Protector of the realm;
And at his pleasure will resign my place.

SUFFOLK
Resign it then, and leave thine insolence.
Since thou wert king- as who is king but thou?-
The commonwealth hath daily run to wrack,
The Dauphin hath prevail'd beyond the seas,
And all the peers and nobles of the realm
Have been as bondmen to thy sovereignty.

CARDINAL
The commons hast thou rack'd; the clergy's bags
Are lank and lean with thy extortions.

SOMERSET
Thy sumptuous buildings and thy wife's attire
Have cost a mass of public treasury.

BUCKINGHAM
Thy cruelty in execution
Upon offenders hath exceeded law,
And left thee to the mercy of the law.

QUEEN
Thy 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. The QUEEN drops QUEEN her fan

Give me my fan. What, minion, can ye not?

[She gives the DUCHESS a box on the ear]

I cry your mercy, madam; was it you?

DUCHESS
Was't I? Yea, I it was, proud Frenchwoman.
Could I come near your beauty with my nails,
I could set my ten commandments in your face.

KING HENRY
Sweet aunt, be quiet; 'twas against her will.

DUCHESS
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 unreveng'd.

Exit

BUCKINGHAM
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

Re-enter GLOUCESTER

GLOUCESTER
Now, lords, my choler being overblown
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.

SUFFOLK
Before we make election, give me leave
To show some reason, of no little force,
That York is most unmeet of any man.

YORK
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 danc'd attendance on his will
Till Paris was besieg'd, famish'd, and lost.

WARWICK
That can I witness; and a fouler fact
Did never traitor in the land commit.

SUFFOLK
Peace, headstrong Warwick!

WARWICK
Image of pride, why should I hold my peace?

Enter HORNER, the Armourer, and his man PETER, guarded

SUFFOLK
Because here is a man accus'd of treason:
Pray God the Duke of York excuse himself!

YORK
Doth any one accuse York for a traitor?

KING HENRY
What mean'st thou, Suffolk? Tell me, what are these?

SUFFOLK
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 an usurper.

KING HENRY
Say, man, were these thy words?

HORNER
An't shall please your Majesty, I never said nor thought
any such matter. God is my witness, I am falsely accus'd by the
villain.

PETER
[Holding up his hands] 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.

YORK
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 rigour of the law.
HORNER`. 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.

KING HENRY
Uncle, what shall we say to this in law?

GLOUCESTER
This doom, my lord, if I may judge:
Let Somerset be Regent o'er 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.

SOMERSET
I humbly thank your royal Majesty.

HORNER
And I accept the combat willingly.

PETER
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!

GLOUCESTER
Sirrah, or you must fight or else be hang'd.