David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s 1 HENRY VI: A Retelling in Prose — Act 5, Scenes 1-2

— 5.1 —

In the palace in London, King Henry VI was meeting with the Duke of Gloucester and the Duke of Exeter.

He asked the Duke of Gloucester, “Have you perused the letters from the Pope, the Holy Roman Emperor, and the Earl of Armagnac?”

“I have, my lord,” the Duke of Gloucester replied, “and their purpose is this: They humbly petition your excellence to have a godly peace brought into existence between the realms of England and of France.”

“How does your grace like their proposal?”

“I like it well, my good lord, and I think it is the only way to stop the spilling of our Christian blood and establish peace on every side.”

“Yes, that is true, by the Virgin Mary, uncle,” King Henry VI said, “for I always thought it was both impious and unnatural that such inhuman, atrocious savagery and bloody strife should reign among professors of one faith. The English and the French are Christian.”

“In addition, my lord, the sooner to effect and the surer to bind this knot of amity, the Earl of Armagnac, who is closely related to Charles the Dauphin and who is a man of great authority in France, offers his only daughter to your grace in marriage, along with a large and sumptuous dowry. This is a marriage that will advance peace between England and France.”

“Marriage, uncle!” King Henry VI said. “Alas, my years are young! And it is more suitable for me to devote myself to my study and my books than to engage in wanton dalliance with a paramour.

“Yet call the ambassadors, and as you please, let every one of them have their answers. I shall be well content with any choice that tends to God’s glory and my country’s well-being.”

The Bishop of Winchester had officially become the Cardinal of Winchester. Dressed in the clothing of a Cardinal, he entered the room, along with the three ambassadors representing the Pope, the Holy Roman Emperor, and the Earl of Armagnac. The ambassador representing the Pope was a Papal Legate.

Seeing the Cardinal of Winchester, the Duke of Exeter said to himself, “Has my Lord of Winchester been officially installed as a Cardinal and been given a Cardinal’s rank? Then I perceive that what King Henry V once prophesied will be verified as true: ‘If once Winchester comes to be a Cardinal, he’ll make his Cardinal’s cap equal to the crown.’”

King Henry VI said, “My lords ambassadors, your several petitions have been considered and debated. And therefore we are for certain resolved to draft the conditions of a friendly peace, which we intend shall be transported immediately to France by my Lord of Winchester.”

The Duke of Gloucester said to the ambassador of the Earl of Armagnac, “And as for the offer to my lord from your master, I have informed at length his highness of it, and as he likes the lady’s virtuous gifts, her beauty, and the value of her dowry, he intends that she shall be his wife and the Queen of England.”

King Henry VI said, “As evidence and proof of this marriage contract, take to her and give her this jewel as a pledge of my affection, and so, my Lord Protector, see them safeguarded and safely brought to Dover, where after they board a ship, commit them to the fortune of the sea.”

Everyone exited except for the Cardinal of Winchester and the Papal Legate.

“Wait, my lord Legate,” the Cardinal of Winchester said. “You shall first receive the sum of money that I promised would be delivered to his holiness for clothing me in these grave ornaments — this habit of a Cardinal.”

“I will attend upon your lordship’s leisure,” the Papal Legate said. “I am ready when you are ready.”

The Cardinal of Winchester said to himself, “Now I, Winchester, will not submit, I think, or be inferior to the proudest peer. Duke of Gloucester, you shall well perceive that, neither in birth nor in authority, I the Bishop will be put down or overruled by you. I’ll either make you stoop and bend your knee to me, or sack this country with a mutinous rebellion.”

Although he had become a Cardinal, he had not ceased being a Bishop.

— 5.2 —

On the plains of Anjou, France, Charles the Dauphin was meeting with the Duke of Burgundy, the Duke of Alençon, the Bastard of Orleans, Reignier, and Joan la Pucelle. Soldiers were present. Charles the Dauphin held a letter in his hand.

Charles the Dauphin said, “This news, my lords, may cheer our drooping spirits. It is said that the brave Parisians are revolting against the English and are turning again into the warlike French.”

The Duke of Alençon said, “Then march to Paris, royal Charles of France, and don’t keep back your armies in dalliance.”

Joan la Pucelle said, “May peace be among the Parisians, if they turn to us and join us; otherwise, let devastation battle against their palaces!”

A scout arrived and said, “Success to our valiant General, and happiness to his accomplices!”

“What news do our scouts send?” Charles the Dauphin said. “Please, speak.”

The scout said, “The English army, which was divided into two parties, is now joined into one, and it intends to fight you soon.”

“Somewhat too sudden, sirs, the warning is,” Charles the Dauphin said, “but we will soon provide for them.”

The Duke of Burgundy said, “I trust that the ghost of Lord Talbot is not there. Now that he is gone, my lord, you need not fear.”

“Of all base passions, fear is the most accursed,” Joan la Pucelle said. “Command the conquest, Charles, it shall be yours. Let Henry VI fret and all the world complain.”

She sounded positive that the French would defeat the English.

“Then let’s go on, my lords,” Charles the Dauphin said, “and may France be fortunate!”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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David Bruce: Politics Anecdotes

When Norman Mailer ran for Mayor of New York, his running mate was Jimmy Breslin. Their rallying cry was “Vote the rascals in!” Both writers were known for hard living, and when they spoke at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to police students, they ran into a police officer who asked Mr. Mailer, “If you and Breslin go ape on the same evening, who will run the city?” Mr. Mailer, of course, was an original (as was Mr. Breslin). Mr. Mailer had a column in the Village Voice for a while, but he quit after four months because a mistake in copy-editing had changed his nuance into nuisance. Obviously, Mr. Mailer’s beliefs, whether in literature or politics, were strong. After deciding to vote for Bobby Kennedy, whom he thought had a prep-school arrogance but was capable of greatness, Mr. Mailer wrote, “To vote for a man who is neuter is to vote for the plague. I would rather vote for a man on the assumption he is a hero and have him turn into a monster than vote for a man who can never be a hero.”

Syndicated columnist Susan Estrich wonders about the effect that pollution is having on our lives; many doctors wonder the same thing. She also wonders why politicians aren’t doing more to clean up pollution; many doctors wonder the same thing. After finding a lump in her breast, she consulted a doctor—fortunately, the lump wasn’t cancer. However, she did ask her doctor if she wasn’t too young to be worried about contracting breast cancer—wasn’t that a disease for women older than herself? He asked her if she knew anything about politics. When she replied that she knew a little, he asked her to consult people who were knowledgeable about politics and ask them why he was spending more and more time treating more and more young women who were contracting a disease that used to attack mostly older women. Her doctor said to her, “We need political leadership.” Ms. Estrich agrees.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese Consul-General in Bordeaux, rescued thousands of Jews from the Holocaust by directly disobeying his country’s orders and giving visas to Jews so that they could escape to freedom. A devout Roman Catholic, Mr. Mendes knew that he was risking his career, his reputation, and his own money by rescuing Jews. However, he said, “I cannot allow these people to die. Our constitution says that the religion or the politics of a foreigner shall not be used to deny refuge in Portugal. I have decided to follow this principle. Even if I am discharged, I can only act as a Christian, as my conscience tells me. If I am disobeying orders, I would rather be with God against men than with men against God.” The Jews used the Portuguese visas to escape to neutral Spain.

Populist Presidents can be extremely popular. Bill Moyers’ father, Henry Moyers, knew that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was on the side of the people. And because Henry Moyers was one of the people, he knew that President Roosevelt was on his side. Bill once asked his father why he had voted for President Roosevelt four times—only President Roosevelt’s death had kept Henry Moyers from voting for him a fifth, sixth, or even more times. Mr. Moyers—who had never met President Roosevelt—replied, “Because the President’s my friend.” Bill remembers the first time that he saw his father cry—it was the day that President Roosevelt died.

Actor Eli Wallach was born and raised in Brooklyn, but he attended the University of Texas at Austin because out-of-state tuition was only $30 for his first year. His professors often called on him in class. Why? Mr. Wallach explains, “Because they wanted to hear my Brooklyn accent.” Mr. Wallach became interested in Texas politics when he was at Austin. The governor at the time of his first year at the college was a woman, Ma Ferguson, whose husband had been Texas governor but had been impeached. Ma Ferguson ran for governor and was elected, and her husband kept on running the state just like he had before being impeached.

In 1903, union organizer Mother Jones led a group of child laborers from Philadelphia mills to New York City in a march designed to bring attention to the existence of child labor in the United States and to improve the lives of the working children. She even attempted to meet with President Theodore Roosevelt and have him see the mill children, but he resisted her attempts, saying that he believed in states’ rights and therefore child labor was the concern of states, not of the United States. Years later, Mother Jones said of President Roosevelt, “He had a lot of secret service men watching an old woman and an army of children. You fellows do elect wonderful Presidents.”

Back in 1956, a year when Yugoslavia was under the control of the dictator Josef Broz Tito, a Yugoslav consul-general confessed to theatrical guru Danny Newman that he never missed a performance at the Chicago Civic Opera by the baritone Tito Gobbi. Mr. Newman said that he understood that because Mr. Gobbi was a truly great baritone, but the consul-general replied, “Yes, but that’s not the real reason I love him so much. You see, Mr. Newman, Yugoslavia is a communist country and not very popular here. So your Civic Opera House is the only place in this country where I can publicly yell my head off with “BRAVO Tito! BRAVO Tito!”

Chuck Close took photographs of President Bill Clinton during a photo session in which he learned something about the former President that most people don’t know—that in at least one way, he is sensitive about his appearance. When Mr. Close showed up for the photo session, Mr. Clinton said, “Damn, look at those bags under my eyes. I forgot to take my water pills.” The water pills help to reduce the size of the bags under a person’s eyes, and evidently Mr. Clinton is sensitive about the bags under his eyes.

Fred W. McDarrah, long-time photographer for New York’s Village Voice, enjoyed taking photographs of the double-chinned movers and shakers of the predator class at fundraising dinners. He would take a photograph, and if the subject of the photograph angrily waved him away, he would take another photograph. Mr. McDarrah had a satiric streak; in 1960, he even started a small business known as “Rent-a-Beatnik.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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Edgar Lee Masters: Rosie Roberts (Spoon River Anthology)

I WAS sick, but more than that, I was mad
At the crooked police, and the crooked game of life.
So I wrote to the Chief of Police at Peoria:
“I am here in my girlhood home in Spoon River,
Gradually wasting away.
But come and take me, I killed the son
Of the merchant prince, in Madam Lou’s
And the papers that said he killed himself
In his home while cleaning a hunting gun—
Lied like the devil to hush up scandal
For the bribe of advertising.
In my room I shot him, at Madam Lou’s,
Because he knocked me down when I said
That, in spite of all the money he had,
I’d see my lover that night.”

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