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Henry VI, Part 2

Henry VI, Part 2 Translation Act 2, Scene 4

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Enter GLOUCESTER and his Servingmen, in mourning cloaks

GLOUCESTER

Thus sometimes hath the brightest day a cloud; And after summer evermore succeeds Barren winter, with his wrathful nipping cold: So cares and joys abound, as seasons fleet. Sirs, what's o'clock?

GLOUCESTER

And so just like a cloud appears even on the brightest day, and bleak winter always follows after summer with its angry biting coldness, so problems and joys come and go like the seasons. Sir, what's the time?

SERVANTS

Ten, my lord.

SERVANTS

It's ten o'clock, my lord.

GLOUCESTER

Ten is the hour that was appointed me To watch the coming of my punish'd duchess: Uneath may she endure the flinty streets, To tread them with her tender-feeling feet. Sweet Nell, ill can thy noble mind abrook The abject people gazing on thy face, With envious looks, laughing at thy shame, That erst did follow thy proud chariot-wheels When thou didst ride in triumph through the streets. But, soft! I think she comes; and I'll prepare My tear-stain'd eyes to see her miseries.

GLOUCESTER

I was told to watch the arrival of my punished duchess at ten o'clock. It won't be easy for her to walk on the stony streets with her soft, delicate feet. Sweet Nell, your noble mind won't be able to endure the lowly people staring at your face with malicious looks, laughing at your shame. Before, those people followed your luxurious carriage when you rode triumphantly through the streets. But, quiet! I think she's coming. And I'll prepare my teary eyes to see her suffering.

Enter the DUCHESS in a white sheet, and a taper burning in her hand; with STANLEY, the Sheriff, and Officers

SERVANT

So please your grace, we'll take her from the sheriff.

SERVANT

If your grace wants us to, we'll take her from the sheriff.

GLOUCESTER

No, stir not, for your lives; let her pass by.

GLOUCESTER

No, stop! Let her pass by. 

DUCHESS

Come you, my lord, to see my open shame? Now thou dost penance too. Look how they gaze! See how the giddy multitude do point, And nod their heads, and throw their eyes on thee! Ah, Gloucester, hide thee from their hateful looks, And, in thy closet pent up, rue my shame, And ban thine enemies, both mine and thine!

DUCHESS

Are you here to see my public shame, my husband? You're also punishing yourself. Look at how they're staring! See how the excited crowd point and nod their heads and look at you! Ah, Gloucester, hide yourself from their hateful looks and mourn my shame in your private rooms. And curse your enemies, both mine and yours!

GLOUCESTER

Be patient, gentle Nell; forget this grief.

GLOUCESTER

Be patient, gentle Nell and forget about this sorrow.

DUCHESS

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, Mail'd up 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 advised how I tread. Ah, Humphrey, can I bear this shameful yoke? Trow'st thou that e'er I'll look upon the world, Or count them happy that enjoy 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, fly thou how thou canst, they'll tangle thee:But fear not thou, until thy foot be snared,Nor never seek prevention of thy foes.

DUCHESS

Ah, Gloucester, teach me how to forget myself! I think that because I am your wife and you are a nobleman, protector of this land, I shouldn't be handled like this, wrapped up in shame, with papers on my back, and followed by a crowd that is happy to see my tears and hear my sad groans. The merciless stone cuts my delicate feet and when I flinch in pain, the jealous peasants laugh and tell me to be careful how I walk. Ah, Humphrey, can I bear this shameful burden? Do you think that I'll ever look on the world again, or say that those who enjoy the sun are the happy ones? No, dark will be my light and night my day. Thinking about my past splendor be my hell. Sometimes I'll say that I am Duke Humphrey's wife, and that he is a nobleman and ruler of the land. Yet even such a ruler and nobleman as he was, he stood by while I—his forsaken duchess—was made a spectacle and an object of ridicule to every foolish low-born man. But you should be calm and not blush at my shame, and don't let anything bother you until your life is threatened. I am sure that it shortly will be, because Suffolk can do everything he wants along with Margaret who hates you and hates us all. And York and wicked Beaufort, that false priest, have all laid out traps for you. You should fly as best as you may, or else they'll catch you. But don't be afraid until your foot is in the trap, and don't expect that you'll be able to stop your enemies.

GLOUCESTER

Ah, Nell, forbear! Thou aimest all awry; I must offend before I be attainted; And had I twenty times so many foes, And each of them had twenty times their power, All these could not procure me any scathe, So long as I am loyal, true and crimeless. Wouldst have me rescue thee from this reproach? Why, yet thy scandal were not wiped away But I in danger for the breach of law. Thy greatest help is quiet, gentle Nell: I pray thee, sort thy heart to patience; These few days' wonder will be quickly worn.

GLOUCESTER

Ah, Nell, let it go! You guess it all wrong. I must commit a crime before I can be convicted of treason. And if I had twenty times as many enemies and each of them had twenty times more power, none of them could do me any harm, as long as I am loyal, true and innocent of any crime. Do you want me to rescue you from your shame? Your disgrace would not be wiped way, but I would immediately be in danger for breaking the law.The best way you can help yourself, gentle Nell, is by being calm. I ask you, be patient so that this passing spectacle will be quickly forgotten. 

Enter a Herald

HERALD

I summon your grace to his majesty's parliament,Holden at Bury the first of this next month.

HERALD

I am sent to summon your grace to his majesty's parliament, which is to be held at Bury on the first day of next month.

GLOUCESTER

And my consent ne'er ask'd herein before!This is close dealing. Well, I will be there.

GLOUCESTER

And I wasn't asked to give my agreement! This is some secretive business. Well, I will be there.

Exit Herald

GLOUCESTER

My Nell, I take my leave: and, master sheriff,Let not her penance exceed the king's commission.

GLOUCESTER

My Nell, I have to ho. Master sheriff, don't let her public shame be longer than the king's order said.

SHERIFF

An't please your grace, here my commission stays,And Sir John Stanley is appointed nowTo take her with him to the Isle of Man.

SHERIFF

As you like, your grace. It's over now. And Sir John Stanley is appointed to take her with him to the Isle of Man.

GLOUCESTER

Must you, Sir John, protect my lady here?

GLOUCESTER

Do you have to take custody of my lady here, Sir John?

STANLEY

So am I given in charge, may't please your grace.

STANLEY

Yes, I was given that order, if it pleases your grace.

GLOUCESTER

Entreat her not the worse in that I pray You use her well: the world may laugh again; And I may live to do you kindness if You do it her: and so, Sir John, farewell!

GLOUCESTER

Don't treat her badly on my account, please. Treat her well. My fortunes may turn, and I may live to be kind to you if you are to her. And so, Sir John, goodbye!

DUCHESS

What, gone, my lord, and bid me not farewell!

DUCHESS

My husband is leaving without saying goodbye?

GLOUCESTER

Witness my tears, I cannot stay to speak.

GLOUCESTER

Look at my tears. I can't stay here to speak without crying.

Exeunt GLOUCESTER and Servingmen

DUCHESS

Art thou gone too? All comfort go with thee! For none abides with me: my joy is death; Death, at whose name I oft have been afear'd, Because I wish'd this world's eternity. Stanley, I prithee, go, and take me hence; I care not whither, for I beg no favour, Only convey me where thou art commanded.

DUCHESS

Are you gone as well? All comfort goes away with you! For no one stays with me. My joy is death—death, whose name I was often afraid of, because I wished for eternal enjoyment of this world. Stanley, please, go and take me from here. I don't care where, because I am not asking for a favor. Just take me where you are told to do so.

STANLEY

Why, madam, that is to the Isle of Man;There to be used according to your state.

STANLEY

Madam, it's to the Isle of Man. There you'll be be treated according to your rank. 

DUCHESS

That's bad enough, for I am but reproach:And shall I then be used reproachfully?

DUCHESS

That's bad enough, because I am disgrace itself. And shall I then be treated disgracefully?

STANLEY

Like to a duchess, and Duke Humphrey's lady;According to that state you shall be used.

STANLEY

Like a duchess, and Duke Humphrey's wife—you will be treated according to that rank. 

DUCHESS

Sheriff, farewell, and better than I fare,Although thou hast been conduct of my shame.

DUCHESS

Sheriff, goodbye.  I hope you'll do better than I, although it was you who conducted my shame.

SHERIFF

It is my office; and, madam, pardon me.

SHERIFF

It is my job, madam, and I am sorry.

DUCHESS

Ay, ay, farewell; thy office is discharged.Come, Stanley, shall we go?

DUCHESS

Yes, yes, goodbye! Your job has been carried out. Come, Stanley, shall we go?

STANLEY

Madam, your penance done, throw off this sheet,And go we to attire you for our journey.

STANLEY

Madam, your punishment is done. Throw away your clothing and we'll go dress you for your journey.

DUCHESS

My shame will not be shifted with my sheet: No, it will hang upon my richest robes And show itself, attire me how I can. Go, lead the way; I long to see my prison.

DUCHESS

My shame won't be removed with this clothing. No, it will hang on my richest dresses and show itself, however you dress me. Go, lead the way. I want to see my prison. 

Exeunt

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Nina romancikova
About the Translator: Nina Romancikova

Nina Romancikova is from Slovakia but her love of literature and theater has brought her to the UK and she has been living and studying there for the past six years. She graduated with a degree in English Literature and Language at University of Glasgow in 2016. Nina is now finishing her Masters in Shakespeare Studies at King's College London and is currently working as a Research Intern at Shakespeare's Globe.