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Henry VI, Part 1 Scenes

Scene 6

A field of battle.

(Lord Talbot; John Talbot)

Talbot rescues his son from the French, and again urges him to flee, arguing he has proved his worth and can leave without dishonor, and that he must live to continue the family name. John refuses to risk being considered a coward, and Talbot allows to stay and fight by his side. (57 lines)

Alarum. Excursions, wherein Talbot’s son, John, is hemm’d about, and Talbot rescues him.


Saint George and victory! Fight, soldiers, fight!

The Regent hath with Talbot broke his word,

And left us to the rage of France his sword.

Where is John Talbot? Pause, and take thy breath;

I gave thee life, and rescu’d thee from death.


O, twice my father, twice am I thy son!

The life thou gav’st me first was lost and done,

Till with thy warlike sword, despite of fate,

To my determin’d time thou gav’st new date.


When from the Dauphin’s crest thy sword struck fire,

It warm’d thy father’s heart with proud desire

Of bold-fac’d victory. Then leaden age,

Quicken’d with youthful spleen and warlike rage,

Beat down Alanson, Orléans, Burgundy,

And from the pride of Gallia rescued thee.

The ireful Bastard Orléans, that drew blood

From thee, my boy, and had the maidenhood

Of thy first fight, I soon encountered,

And interchanging blows I quickly shed

Some of his bastard blood, and in disgrace

Bespoke him thus: “Contaminated, base,

And misbegotten blood I spill of thine,

Mean and right poor, for that pure blood of mine

Which thou didst force from Talbot, my brave boy.”

Here, purposing the Bastard to destroy,

Came in strong rescue. Speak, thy father’s care:

Art thou not weary, John? How dost thou fare?

Wilt thou yet leave the battle, boy, and fly,

Now thou art seal’d the son of chivalry?

Fly, to revenge my death when I am dead;

The help of one stands me in little stead.

O, too much folly is it, well I wot,

To hazard all our lives in one small boat!

If I today die not with Frenchmen’s rage,

Tomorrow I shall die with mickle age.

By me they nothing gain and if I stay,

’Tis but the short’ning of my life one day.

In thee thy mother dies, our household’s name,

My death’s revenge, thy youth, and England’s fame:

All these, and more, we hazard by thy stay;

All these are sav’d if thou wilt fly away.


The sword of Orléans hath not made me smart;

These words of yours draw life-blood from my heart.

On that advantage, bought with such a shame,

To save a paltry life and slay bright fame,

Before young Talbot from old Talbot fly

The coward horse that bears me fall and die!

And like me to the peasant boys of France,

To be shame’s scorn and subject of mischance!

Surely, by all the glory you have won,

And if I fly, I am not Talbot’s son.

Then talk no more of flight, it is no boot;

If son to Talbot, die at Talbot’s foot.


Then follow thou thy desp’rate sire of Crete,

Thou Icarus; thy life to me is sweet.

If thou wilt fight, fight by thy father’s side,

And commendable prov’d, let’s die in pride.



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