List iconHenry VI, Part 2List icon

Henry VI, Part 2
Act 2, scene 4

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Entire Play

With a weak, unworldly king on the throne, the English nobility heightens its struggle for power in Henry VI, Part 2,…

Act 1, scene 1

King Henry meets his consort Queen Margaret, brought by Suffolk from France. The nobles fall into dissension, with the Cardinal,…

Act 1, scene 2

The Duchess of Gloucester’s dream of becoming queen is rebuked by her husband but encouraged by the treacherous priest John…

Act 1, scene 3

Queen Margaret and Suffolk dismiss petitioners seeking Gloucester’s aid and then conspire against Gloucester. Somerset and York then clash, as…

Act 1, scene 4

The Duchess of Gloucester watches while a spirit is conjured up to prophesy the fates of her rivals, but she…

Act 2, scene 1

King Henry and his court are hunting when they are interrupted by an announcement of a miracle in nearby Saint…

Act 2, scene 2

York persuades Salisbury and Warwick of the validity of his claim to the throne.

Act 2, scene 3

King Henry sentences the Duchess to public penance and exile, and removes Gloucester from his office as Lord Protector. Then…

Act 2, scene 4

Gloucester watches his Duchess’s public humiliation as she goes into exile. He is summoned to Parliament.

Act 3, scene 1

In Parliament Queen Margaret and the nobles level charges against Gloucester, but King Henry remains convinced of his uncle’s innocence….

Act 3, scene 2

The news of Gloucester’s murder makes King Henry faint and the Commons rise to demand Suffolk’s exile. The King obliges…

Act 3, scene 3

The Cardinal dies.

Act 4, scene 1

Attempting to sail to France, Suffolk is captured by shipmen and brutally assassinated.

Act 4, scene 2

In a plot instigated by York, Jack Cade leads a rebellion against King Henry. The Staffords seek to put it…

Act 4, scene 3

Cade defeats and kills the Staffords and marches on London.

Act 4, scene 4

King Henry flees London and Queen Margaret mourns Suffolk’s death. Lord Saye, whom the rebels hate, decides to hide in…

Act 4, scene 5

Citizens of London plead for military aid from Lord Scales, who commands forces at the Tower. He sends Matthew Gough,…

Act 4, scene 6

Cade enters London.

Act 4, scene 7

Cade defeats and kills Gough. Lord Saye is captured and killed.

Act 4, scene 8

Lord Clifford and Buckingham persuade Cade’s followers to return to King Henry. Cade flees.

Act 4, scene 9

As King Henry rejoices at Cade’s defeat, a messenger announces York’s approach with an Irish army ostensibly seeking Somerset’s arrest…

Act 4, scene 10

A starving Cade is killed in a fight with the Kentish gentleman Alexander Iden, in whose garden Cade looked for…

Act 5, scene 1

Buckingham seemingly placates York, and King Henry rewards Iden. York, seeing Somerset at liberty, announces his claim to the throne,…

Act 5, scene 2

York kills Lord Clifford, and York’s son Richard kills the Duke of Somerset. Defeated in battle, King Henry flees to…

Act 5, scene 3

Victorious, York and his followers set out for London.

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Scene 4
Enter Duke Humphrey of Gloucester and his Men,
in mourning cloaks.


GLOUCESTER 
 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.
5 Sirs, what’s o’clock?
SERVANT Ten, my lord.
GLOUCESTER 
 Ten is the hour that was appointed me
 To watch the coming of my punished duchess.
 Uneath may she endure the flinty streets,
10 To tread them with her tender-feeling feet.
 Sweet Nell, ill can thy noble mind abrook

91
Henry VI, Part 2
ACT 2. SC. 4

 The abject people gazing on thy face
 With envious looks laughing at thy shame,
 That erst did follow thy proud chariot wheels
15 When thou didst ride in triumph through the streets.
 But, soft! I think she comes, and I’ll prepare
 My tearstained eyes to see her miseries.

Enter the Duchess of Gloucester, barefoot, and in a
white sheet, with papers pinned to her back and a
taper burning in her hand, with Sir John Stanley,
the Sheriff, and Officers.


SERVANT 
 So please your Grace, we’ll take her from the Sheriff.
GLOUCESTER 
 No, stir not for your lives. Let her pass by.
DUCHESS 
20 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,
25 And, in thy closet pent up, rue my shame,
 And ban thine enemies, both mine and thine.
GLOUCESTER 
 Be patient, gentle Nell. Forget this grief.
DUCHESS 
 Ah, Gloucester, teach me to forget myself!
 For whilst I think I am thy married wife
30 And thou a prince, Protector of this land,
 Methinks I should not thus be led along,
 Mailed up in shame, with papers on my back,
 And followed with a rabble that rejoice
 To see my tears and hear my deep-fet groans.
35 The ruthless flint doth cut my tender feet,
 And when I start, the envious people laugh

93
Henry VI, Part 2
ACT 2. SC. 4

 And bid me be advisèd how I tread.
 Ah, Humphrey, can I bear this shameful yoke?
 Trowest thou that e’er I’ll look upon the world
40 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.
 Sometimes I’ll say I am Duke Humphrey’s wife
 And he a prince and ruler of the land;
45 Yet so he ruled and such a prince he was
 As he stood by whilst 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,
50 Nor stir at nothing till the ax 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 Beaufort, that false priest,
55 Have all limed bushes to betray thy wings;
 And fly thou how thou canst, they’ll tangle thee.
 But fear not thou until thy foot be snared,
 Nor never seek prevention of thy foes.
GLOUCESTER 
 Ah, Nell, forbear. Thou aimest all awry.
60 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.
65 Wouldst have me rescue thee from this reproach?
 Why, yet thy scandal were not wiped 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;
70 These few days’ wonder will be quickly worn.

95
Henry VI, Part 2
ACT 2. SC. 4

Enter a Herald.

HERALD 
 I summon your Grace to his Majesty’s Parliament
 Holden at Bury the first of this next month.
GLOUCESTER 
 And my consent ne’er asked herein before?
 This is close dealing. Well, I will be there.
Herald exits.
75 My Nell, I take my leave.—And, master sheriff,
 Let not her penance exceed the King’s commission.
SHERIFF 
 An ’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.
GLOUCESTER 
80 Must you, Sir John, protect my lady here?
STANLEY 
 So am I given in charge, may ’t please your Grace.
GLOUCESTER 
 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
85 You do it her. And so, Sir John, farewell.
DUCHESS 
 What, gone, my lord, and bid me not farewell?
GLOUCESTER 
 Witness my tears. I cannot stay to speak.
Gloucester exits with his Men.
DUCHESS 
 Art thou gone too? All comfort go with thee,
 For none abides with me. My joy is death—
90 Death, at whose name I oft have been afeard,
 Because I wished 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.

97
Henry VI, Part 2
ACT 2. SC. 4

STANLEY 
95 Why, madam, that is to the Isle of Man,
 There to be used according to your state.
DUCHESS 
 That’s bad enough, for I am but reproach.
 And shall I, then, be used reproachfully?
STANLEY 
 Like to a duchess and Duke Humphrey’s lady;
100 According to that state you shall be used.
DUCHESS 
 Sheriff, farewell, and better than I fare,
 Although thou hast been conduct of my shame.
SHERIFF 
 It is my office; and, madam, pardon me.
DUCHESS 
 Ay, ay, farewell. Thy office is discharged.
The Sheriff and Officers exit.
105 Come, Stanley, shall we go?
STANLEY 
 Madam, your penance done, throw off this sheet,
 And go we to attire you for our journey.
DUCHESS 
 My shame will not be shifted with my sheet.
 No, it will hang upon my richest robes
110 And show itself, attire me how I can.
 Go, lead the way. I long to see my prison.
They exit.