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Scene 1

Coast of Kent. Seashore near Dover.

(Lieutenant; Shipmaster; Master’s Mate; Walter Whitmore; Duke of Suffolk; First Gentlemen; Second Gentlemen)

Suffolk and his accompanying gentlemen have been captured in a seafight with pirates. The others are ransomed by their captors, but Walter Whitmore, who has charge of Suffolk, lost an eye in the fight and is determined that his captive shall die in retaliation. Hearing Whitmore’s name of Walter (pronounced ‘water’), Suffolk is scared, reminded of the spirit’s prophecy, but reassures himself and haughtily identifies himself, believing his rank will save him. Unfortunately for him, he is loathed by the common people, and the Lieutenant vomits up that loathing on him before sending him off to die. Stubbornly proud, Suffolk remains scornful and arrogant, finally comparing himself to Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great as he is carried off. One of the ransomed gentlemen decides to take Suffolk’s body to the Queen. (150 lines)

Alarum within. Ord’nance goes off like as it were a fight at sea.

Enter Lieutenant, a Shipmaster and his Mate, Walter Whitmore, and others; with them Suffolk, disguised, and other Gentlemen, prisoners.


The gaudy, blabbing, and remorseful day

Is crept into the bosom of the sea;

And now loud-howling wolves arouse the jades

That drag the tragic melancholy night;

Who with their drowsy, slow, and flagging wings

Cleep dead men’s graves, and from their misty jaws

Breathe foul contagious darkness in the air.

Therefore bring forth the soldiers of our prize,

For whilst our pinnace anchors in the Downs,

Here shall they make their ransom on the sand,

Or with their blood stain this discolored shore.

Master, this prisoner freely give I thee,

And thou that art his mate, make boot of this;

The other, Walter Whitmore, is thy share.

1. GENT.

What is my ransom, master? Let me know.


A thousand crowns, or else lay down your head.


And so much shall you give, or off goes yours.


What, think you much to pay two thousand crowns,

And bear the name and port of gentlemen?

Cut both the villains’ throats; for die you shall.

The lives of those which we have lost in fight

Be counterpois’d with such a petty sum!

1. GENT.

I’ll give it, sir, and therefore spare my life.

2. GENT.

And so will I, and write home for it straight.


I lost mine eye in laying the prize aboard,

And therefore to revenge it shalt thou die,

To Suffolk.

And so should these, if I might have my will.


Be not so rash, take ransom, let him live.


Look on my George, I am a gentleman:

Rate me at what thou wilt, thou shalt be paid.


And so am I; my name is Walter Whitmore.

How now? Why starts thou? What, doth death affright?


Thy name affrights me, in whose sound is death.

A cunning man did calculate my birth

And told me that by water I should die:

Yet let not this make thee be bloody-minded;

Thy name is Gualtier, being rightly sounded.


Gualtier or Walter, which it is, I care not.

Never yet did base dishonor blur our name

But with our sword we wip’d away the blot;

Therefore, when merchant-like I sell revenge,

Broke be my sword, my arms torn and defac’d,

And I proclaim’d a coward through the world!


Stay, Whitmore, for thy prisoner is a prince,

The Duke of Suffolk, William de la Pole.


The Duke of Suffolk muffled up in rags?


Ay, but these rags are no part of the duke;

Jove sometime went disguis’d, and why not I?


But Jove was never slain, as thou shalt be.


Obscure and lousy swain, King Henry’s blood,

The honorable blood of Lancaster,

Must not be shed by such a jaded groom.

Hast thou not kiss’d thy hand and held my stirrup?

Bare-headed plodded by my foot-cloth mule

And thought thee happy when I shook my head?

How often hast thou waited at my cup,

Fed from my trencher, kneel’d down at the board,

When I have feasted with Queen Margaret?

Remember it, and let it make thee crestfall’n,

Ay, and allay this thy abortive pride:

How in our voiding lobby hast thou stood

And duly waited for my coming forth?

This hand of mine hath writ in thy behalf,

And therefore shall it charm thy riotous tongue.


Speak, captain, shall I stab the forlorn swain?


First let my words stab him, as he hath me.


Base slave, thy words are blunt and so art thou.


Convey him hence, and on our longboat’s side

Strike off his head.


Thou dar’st not, for thy own.


Yes, Poole.




Poole! Sir Poole! Lord!

Ay, kennel, puddle, sink, whose filth and dirt

Troubles the silver spring where England drinks.

Now will I dam up this thy yawning mouth

For swallowing the treasure of the realm.

Thy lips that kiss’d the Queen shall sweep the ground,

And thou that smil’dst at good Duke Humphrey’s death

Against the senseless winds shall grin in vain,

Who in contempt shall hiss at thee again;

And wedded be thou to the hags of hell,

For daring to affy a mighty lord

Unto the daughter of a worthless king,

Having neither subject, wealth, nor diadem.

By devilish policy art thou grown great,

And like ambitious Sylla, overgorg’d

With gobbets of thy mother’s bleeding heart.

By thee Anjou and Maine were sold to France.

The false revolting Normans thorough thee

Disdain to call us lord, and Picardy

Hath slain their governors, surpris’d our forts,

And sent the ragged soldiers wounded home.

The princely Warwick, and the Nevils all,

Whose dreadful swords were never drawn in vain,

As hating thee, are rising up in arms;

And now the house of York, thrust from the crown

By shameful murder of a guiltless king

And lofty, proud, encroaching tyranny,

Burns with revenging fire, whose hopeful colors

Advance our half-fac’d sun, striving to shine,

Under the which is writ, “Invitis nubibus.”

The commons here in Kent are up in arms,

And to conclude, reproach and beggary

Is crept into the palace of our king,

And all by thee. Away, convey him hence.


O that I were a god, to shoot forth thunder

Upon these paltry, servile, abject drudges!

Small things make base men proud. This villain here,

Being captain of a pinnace, threatens more

Than Bargulus the strong Illyrian pirate.

Drones suck not eagles’ blood, but rob beehives.

It is impossible that I should die

By such a lowly vassal as thyself.

Thy words move rage and not remorse in me.


Ay, but my deeds shall stay thy fury soon.


I go of message from the Queen to France;

I charge thee waft me safely cross the Channel.


Come, Suffolk, I must waft thee to thy death.


Pene gelidus timor occupat artus: it is thee I fear.


Thou shalt have cause to fear before I leave thee.

What, are ye daunted now? Now will ye stoop?

1. GENT.

My gracious lord, entreat him, speak him fair.


Suffolk’s imperial tongue is stern and rough,

Us’d to command, untaught to plead for favor.

Far be it we should honor such as these

With humble suit. No, rather let my head

Stoop to the block than these knees bow to any

Save to the God of heaven and to my king;

And sooner dance upon a bloody pole

Than stand uncover’d to the vulgar groom.

True nobility is exempt from fear:

More can I bear than you dare execute.


Hale him away, and let him talk no more.


Come, soldiers, show what cruelty ye can,

That this my death may never be forgot!

Great men oft die by vild besonians:

A Roman sworder and bandetto slave

Murder’d sweet Tully; Brutus’ bastard hand

Stabb’d Julius Caesar; savage islanders

Pompey the Great; and Suffolk dies by pirates.

Exit Walter Whitmore with Suffolk.


And as for these whose ransom we have set,

It is our pleasure one of them depart;

Therefore come you with us and let him go.

Exeunt Lieutenant and the rest. Manet the First Gentleman.

Enter Walter Whitmore with the body of Suffolk.


There let his head and lifeless body lie,

Until the Queen his mistress bury it.

Exit Walter.

1. GENT.

O barbarous and bloody spectacle!

His body will I bear unto the King.

If he revenge it not, yet will his friends;

So will the Queen, that living held him dear.

Exit with the body.


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