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King Henry VI, Part 1: Act 5 Scene 5
Scene V London. The palace.
- [Enter SUFFOLK in conference with KING HENRY VI,
- GLOUCESTER and EXETER]
- KING HENRY VI
- Your wondrous rare description, noble earl,
- Of beauteous Margaret hath astonish'd me:
- Her virtues graced with external gifts
- Do breed love's settled passions in my heart:
- And like as rigor of tempestuous gusts
- Provokes the mightiest hulk against the tide,
- So am I driven by breath of her renown
- Either to suffer shipwreck or arrive
- Where I may have fruition of her love.
- Tush, my good lord, this superficial tale
- Is but a preface of her worthy praise;
- The chief perfections of that lovely dame
- Had I sufficient skill to utter them,
- Would make a volume of enticing lines,
- Able to ravish any dull conceit:
- And, which is more, she is not so divine,
- So full-replete with choice of all delights,
- But with as humble lowliness of mind
- She is content to be at your command;
- Command, I mean, of virtuous chaste intents,
- To love and honour Henry as her lord.
- KING HENRY VI
- And otherwise will Henry ne'er presume.
- Therefore, my lord protector, give consent
- That Margaret may be England's royal queen.
- So should I give consent to flatter sin.
- You know, my lord, your highness is betroth'd
- Unto another lady of esteem:
- How shall we then dispense with that contract,
- And not deface your honour with reproach?
- As doth a ruler with unlawful oaths;
- Or one that, at a triumph having vow'd
- To try his strength, forsaketh yet the lists
- By reason of his adversary's odds:
- A poor earl's daughter is unequal odds,
- And therefore may be broke without offence.
- Why, what, I pray, is Margaret more than that?
- Her father is no better than an earl,
- Although in glorious titles he excel.
- Yes, lord, her father is a king,
- The King of Naples and Jerusalem;
- And of such great authority in France
- As his alliance will confirm our peace
- And keep the Frenchmen in allegiance.
- And so the Earl of Armagnac may do,
- Because he is near kinsman unto Charles.
- Beside, his wealth doth warrant a liberal dower,
- Where Reignier sooner will receive than give.
- A dower, my lords! disgrace not so your king,
- That he should be so abject, base and poor,
- To choose for wealth and not for perfect love.
- Henry is able to enrich his queen
- And not seek a queen to make him rich:
- So worthless peasants bargain for their wives,
- As market-men for oxen, sheep, or horse.
- Marriage is a matter of more worth
- Than to be dealt in by attorneyship;
- Not whom we will, but whom his grace affects,
- Must be companion of his nuptial bed:
- And therefore, lords, since he affects her most,
- It most of all these reasons bindeth us,
- In our opinions she should be preferr'd.
- For what is wedlock forced but a hell,
- An age of discord and continual strife?
- Whereas the contrary bringeth bliss,
- And is a pattern of celestial peace.
- Whom should we match with Henry, being a king,
- But Margaret, that is daughter to a king?
- Her peerless feature, joined with her birth,
- Approves her fit for none but for a king:
- Her valiant courage and undaunted spirit,
- More than in women commonly is seen,
- Will answer our hope in issue of a king;
- For Henry, son unto a conqueror,
- Is likely to beget more conquerors,
- If with a lady of so high resolve
- As is fair Margaret he be link'd in love.
- Then yield, my lords; and here conclude with me
- That Margaret shall be queen, and none but she.
- KING HENRY VI
- Whether it be through force of your report,
- My noble Lord of Suffolk, or for that
- My tender youth was never yet attaint
- With any passion of inflaming love,
- I cannot tell; but this I am assured,
- I feel such sharp dissension in my breast,
- Such fierce alarums both of hope and fear,
- As I am sick with working of my thoughts.
- Take, therefore, shipping; post, my lord, to France;
- Agree to any covenants, and procure
- That Lady Margaret do vouchsafe to come
- To cross the seas to England and be crown'd
- King Henry's faithful and anointed queen:
- For your expenses and sufficient charge,
- Among the people gather up a tenth.
- Be gone, I say; for, till you do return,
- I rest perplexed with a thousand cares.
- And you, good uncle, banish all offence:
- If you do censure me by what you were,
- Not what you are, I know it will excuse
- This sudden execution of my will.
- And so, conduct me where, from company,
- I may revolve and ruminate my grief.
- Ay, grief, I fear me, both at first and last.
- [Exeunt GLOUCESTER and EXETER]
- Thus Suffolk hath prevail'd; and thus he goes,
- As did the youthful Paris once to Greece,
- With hope to find the like event in love,
- But prosper better than the Trojan did.
- Margaret shall now be queen, and rule the king;
- But I will rule both her, the king and realm.