A monologue from Act II, Scene iv

by: William Shakespeare

NOTE: The Second and Third Parts of King Henry the Sixth were printed in the folio of 1623. Previous versions had been printed in 1594 and 1595. These are now public domain works and may be performed without royalties.

ELEANOR: Ah, Gloucester, teach me to forget myself.
For whilst I think I am thy married wife
And thou a prince, Protector of this land,
Methinks I should not thus be led along,
Mailed up [1] in shame, with papers on my back,
And followed 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 advisèd how I tread.
Ah, Humphrey, can I bear this shameful yoke?
Trowest thou [2] 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 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,
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 Beaufort, that false priest,
Have all limed bushes to betray thy wings,
And flay thou how thou canst, they'll tangle thee.
But fear not thou until thy foot be snared,
Nor never seek prevention of thy foes.

1 Wrapped up (as a hawk is wrapped to keep it from struggling).

2 Know thou not?

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