Henry VI, Pt. 2
Act II, Scene 4
London. A street.
- Enter Duke Humphrey of Gloucester and his Attendants in
- mourning cloaks.
Duke of Gloucester1 - 5
- Thus sometimes hath the brightest day a cloud,
- And after summer evermore succeeds
- Barren winter, with his wrathful nipping cold;
- So cares and joys abound, as seasons fleet.
- Sirs, what’s a’ clock?
Gloucester’s First Attendant6
- Ten, my lord.
Duke of Gloucester7 - 17
- Ten is the hour that was appointed me
- To watch the coming of my punish’d duchess.
- Uneath may she endure the flinty streets,
- To tread them with her tender-feeling feet.
- Sweet Nell, ill can thy noble mind abrook
- The abject people gazing on thy face,
- With envious looks laughing at thy shame,
- That erst did follow thy proud chariot-wheels
- When thou didst ride in triumph through the streets.
- But soft, I think she comes, and I’ll prepare
- My tear-stain’d eyes to see her miseries.
- Enter the Duchess of Gloucester, barefoot, in a white sheet,
- and verses written on her back and
- pinned on, and a taper burning in her hand, with Sir John
- Stanley, the Sheriff, and Officers.
Gloucester’s Second Attendant18
- So please your Grace, we’ll take her from the sheriff.
Duke of Gloucester19
- No, stir not for your lives, let her pass by.
Duchess20 - 26
- Come you, my lord, to see my open shame?
- Now thou dost penance too. Look how they gaze!
- See how the giddy multitude do point
- And nod their heads, and throw their eyes on thee!
- Ah, Gloucester, hide thee from their hateful looks,
- And in thy closet pent up, rue my shame,
- And ban thine enemies, both mine and thine.
Duke of Gloucester27
- Be patient, gentle Nell, forget this grief.
Duchess28 - 58
- Ah, Gloucester, teach me to forget myself;
- For whilest I think I am thy married wife,
- And thou a prince, Protector of this land,
- Methinks I should not thus be led along,
- Mail’d up in shame, with papers on my back,
- And follow’d with a rabble that rejoice
- To see my tears and hear my deep-fet groans.
- The ruthless flint doth cut my tender feet,
- And when I start, the envious people laugh,
- And bid me be advised how I tread.
- Ah, Humphrey, can I bear this shameful yoke?
- Trowest thou that e’er I’ll look upon the world,
- Or count them happy that enjoys the sun?
- No; dark shall be my light, and night my day;
- To think upon my pomp shall be my hell.
- Sometime I’ll say, I am Duke Humphrey’s wife,
- And he a prince, and ruler of the land;
- Yet so he rul’d, and such a prince he was,
- As he stood by, whilest I, his forlorn duchess,
- Was made a wonder and a pointing-stock
- To every idle rascal follower.
- But be thou mild, and blush not at my shame,
- Nor stir at nothing, till the axe of death
- Hang over thee, as sure it shortly will;
- For Suffolk, he that can do all in all
- With her that hateth thee and hates us all,
- And York and impious Beauford, that false priest,
- Have all lim’d bushes to betray thy wings,
- And fly thou how thou canst, they’ll tangle thee.
- But fear not thou, until thy foot be snar’d,
- Nor never seek prevention of thy foes.
Duke of Gloucester59 - 70
- Ah, Nell, forbear! Thou aimest all awry.
- I must offend before I be attainted;
- And had I twenty times so many foes,
- And each of them had twenty times their power,
- All these could not procure me any scathe
- So long as I am loyal, true, and crimeless.
- Wouldst have me rescue thee from this reproach?
- Why, yet thy scandal were not wip’d away,
- But I in danger for the breach of law.
- Thy greatest help is quiet, gentle Nell.
- I pray thee sort thy heart to patience,
- These few days’ wonder will be quickly worn.
- Enter a Herald.
Herald71 - 72
- I summon your Grace to his Majesty’s parliament,
- Holden at Bury the first of this next month.
Duke of Gloucester73 - 76
- And my consent ne’er ask’d herein before?
- This is close dealing. Well, I will be there.
- Exit Herald.
- My Nell, I take my leave; and, Master Sheriff,
- Let not her penance exceed the King’s commission.
Sheriff of London77 - 79
- And’t please your Grace, here my commission stays;
- And Sir John Stanley is appointed now
- To take her with him to the Isle of Man.
Duke of Gloucester80
- Must you, Sir John, protect my lady here?
Sir John Stanley81
- So am I given in charge, may’t please your Grace.
Duke of Gloucester82 - 85
- Entreat her not the worse in that I pray
- You use her well. The world may laugh again,
- And I may live to do you kindness if
- You do it her. And so, Sir John, farewell!
- What, gone, my lord, and bid me not farewell?
Duke of Gloucester87
- Witness my tears, I cannot stay to speak.
- Exit Gloucester with his Men.
Duchess88 - 94
- Art thou gone too? All comfort go with thee,
- For none abides with me. My joy is death;
- Death, at whose name I oft have been afeard,
- Because I wish’d this world’s eternity.
- Stanley, I prithee go, and take me hence,
- I care not whither, for I beg no favor;
- Only convey me where thou art commanded.
Sir John Stanley95 - 96
- Why, madam, that is to the Isle of Man,
- There to be us’d according to your state.
Duchess97 - 98
- That’s bad enough, for I am but reproach;
- And shall I then be us’d reproachfully?
Sir John Stanley99 - 100
- Like to a duchess, and Duke Humphrey’s lady,
- According to that state you shall be us’d.
Duchess101 - 102
- Sheriff, farewell, and better than I fare,
- Although thou hast been conduct of my shame.
Sheriff of London103
- It is my office, and, madam, pardon me.
Duchess104 - 105
- Ay, ay, farewell, thy office is discharg’d.
- Come, Stanley, shall we go?
Sir John Stanley106 - 107
- Madam, your penance done, throw off this sheet,
- And go we to attire you for our journey.
Duchess108 - 111
- My shame will not be shifted with my sheet.
- No, it will hang upon my richest robes,
- And show itself, attire me how I can.
- Go, lead the way, I long to see my prison.