The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource The Ultimate Free Shakespeare Resource

Henry VI, Part 2 Scenes

Scene 7

London. Smithfield.

(Matthew Goffe; Jack Cade; Dick the Butcher; Smith the Weaver; John Holland; Rebel Messenger; George Bevis; Lord Say; Rebel Poleman)

The rebels defeat the royalists, and Cade orders that the Savoy palace and the law schools be pulled down. Cade orders that all the records of Parliament be burnt so that he alone can decide the law. Lord Say, whom the rebels blame for losing France, is captured and brought in. Though he defends himself well, Cade has him executed. Cade decrees that all noblemen are to die unless they bow to him, that all women are to sleep with him before they are allowed to marry, and that all married women shall be available to anyone. Lord Say’s head is brought in on a pole, along with Cromer’s: the bearers make the heads kiss each other, and they are carried at the front of Cade’s triumphant procession. (70 lines)

Alarums. Matthew Goffe is slain, and all the rest.

Then enter Jack Cade with his company.


So, sirs. Now go some and pull down the Savoy; others to th’ Inns of Court; down with them all.


I have a suit unto your lordship.


Be it a lordship, thou shalt have it for that word.


Only that the laws of England may come out of your mouth.



Mass, ’twill be sore law then, for he was thrust in the mouth with a spear, and ’tis not whole yet.



Nay, John, it will be stinking law, for his breath stinks with eating toasted cheese.


I have thought upon it, it shall be so. Away, burn all the records of the realm, my mouth shall be the parliament of England.



Then we are like to have biting statutes, unless his teeth be pull’d out.


And henceforward all things shall be in common.

Enter a Rebel Messenger.


My lord, a prize, a prize! Here’s the Lord Say, which sold the towns in France; he that made us pay one and twenty fifteens, and one shilling to the pound, the last subsidy.

Enter George Bevis with the Lord Say.


Well, he shall be beheaded for it ten times. Ah, thou say, thou serge, nay, thou buckram lord! Now art thou within point-blank of our jurisdiction regal. What canst thou answer to my Majesty for giving up of Normandy unto mounsieur Basimecu, the Dauphin of France? Be it known unto thee by these presence, even the presence of Lord Mortimer, that I am the besom that must sweep the court clean of such filth as thou art. Thou hast most traitorously corrupted the youth of the realm in erecting a grammar school; and whereas, before, our forefathers had no other books but the score and the tally, thou hast caus’d printing to be us’d, and, contrary to the King, his crown, and dignity, thou hast built a paper-mill. It will be prov’d to thy face that thou hast men about thee that usually talk of a noun and a verb, and such abominable words as no Christian ear can endure to hear. Thou hast appointed justices of peace, to call poor men before them about matters they were not able to answer. Moreover, thou hast put them in prison, and because they could not read, thou hast hang’d them, when, indeed, only for that cause they have been most worthy to live. Thou dost ride in a foot-cloth, dost thou not?


What of that?


Marry, thou oughtst not to let thy horse wear a cloak, when honester men than thou go in their hose and doublets.


And work in their shirt too, as myself, for example, that am a butcher.


You men of Kent—


What say you of Kent?


Nothing but this; ’tis “bona terra, mala gens.”


Away with him, away with him! He speaks Latin.


Hear me but speak, and bear me where you will.

Kent, in the Commentaries Caesar writ,

Is term’d the civill’st place of all this isle:

Sweet is the country, because full of riches,

The people liberal, valiant, active, wealthy,

Which makes me hope you are not void of pity.

I sold not Maine, I lost not Normandy,

Yet to recover them would lose my life.

Justice with favor have I always done;

Pray’rs and tears have mov’d me, gifts could never.

When have I aught exacted at your hands,

But to maintain the King, the realm, and you?

Large gifts have I bestow’d on learned clerks,

Because my book preferr’d me to the King;

And seeing ignorance is the curse of God,

Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven,

Unless you be possess’d with devilish spirits

You cannot but forbear to murder me.

This tongue hath parley’d unto foreign kings

For your behoof—


Tut, when struck’st thou one blow in the field?


Great men have reaching hands; oft have I struck

Those that I never saw, and struck them dead.


O monstrous coward! What, to come behind folks?


These cheeks are pale for watching for your good.


Give him a box o’ th’ ear, and that will make ’em red again.


Long sitting to determine poor men’s causes

Hath made me full of sickness and diseases.


Ye shall have a hempen caudle then, and the help of hatchet.


Why dost thou quiver, man?


The palsy, and not fear, provokes me.


Nay, he nods at us, as who should say, I’ll be even with you. I’ll see if his head will stand steadier on a pole, or no. Take him away, and behead him.


Tell me: wherein have I offended most?

Have I affected wealth or honor? Speak.

Are my chests fill’d up with extorted gold?

Is my apparel sumptuous to behold?

Whom have I injur’d that ye seek my death?

These hands are free from guiltless blood-shedding,

This breast from harboring foul deceitful thoughts.

O, let me live!



I feel remorse in myself with his words; but I’ll bridle it. He shall die, and it be but for pleading so well for his life.—Away with him, he has a familiar under his tongue, he speaks not a’ God’s name. Go, take him away I say, and strike off his head presently, and then break into his son-in-law’s house, Sir James Cromer, and strike off his head, and bring them both upon two poles hither.


It shall be done.


Ah, countrymen! If when you make your pray’rs,

God should be so obdurate as yourselves,

How would it fare with your departed souls?

And therefore yet relent, and save my life.


Away with him, and do as I command ye.

Exeunt some with the Lord Say.

The proudest peer in the realm shall not wear a head on his shoulders, unless he pay me tribute. There shall not a maid be married, but she shall pay to me her maidenhead ere they have it. Men shall hold of me in capite; and we charge and command that their wives be as free as heart can wish or tongue can tell.


My lord, when shall we go to Cheapside and take up commodities upon our bills?


Marry, presently.


O, brave!

Enter one with the heads of Say and Cromer upon two poles.


But is not this braver? Let them kiss one another, for they lov’d well when they were alive. Now part them again, lest they consult about the giving up of some more towns in France. Soldiers, defer the spoil of the city until night; for with these borne before us, in stead of maces, will we ride through the streets, and at every corner have them kiss. Away!



Use Power Search to search the works

Please consider making a small donation to help keep this site free.


Log in or Register

Forgot username  Forgot password
Get the Shakespeare Pro app