Several people were hunting with hawks at St. Albans: King Henry VI, Queen Margaret, the Duke of Gloucester, Cardinal Beaufort, and the Duke of Suffolk. Some other falconers were hallowing to encourage the dogs to force the waterfowl into the air where hawks could seize them.
Queen Margaret said, “Believe me, lords, for hunting with hawks at the brook, I have not seen better entertainment for the past seven years. Yet, by your leave, the wind was very high, and I would have bet ten to one that old Joan the hawk would not have gone out and hunted.”
On very windy days, hawks were not used in hunting.
King Henry VI said to the Duke of Gloucester, “But what a point — position for attacking — your falcon made, my lord, and what a height she flew above the rest! To see how God in all his creatures works! Yes, Mankind and birds are eager to climb high.”
The Duke of Suffolk said, “It is no marvel, if it pleases your majesty, that my Lord Protector’s hawks tower and soar so well. They know their master loves to be aloft and bears his thoughts above his falcon’s pitch.”
The word “pitch” means the greatest height a hawk will climb before swooping.
The Duke of Gloucester said, “My lord, it is but a base and ignoble mind that mounts no higher than a bird can soar.”
Cardinal Beaufort said, “I thought as much; the Duke of Gloucester wants to be above the clouds.”
The Duke of Gloucester asked, “My lord Cardinal, what do you mean by that? Wouldn’t it be good if your grace could fly to Heaven?”
King Henry VI said, “Heaven is the treasury of everlasting joy.”
Cardinal Beaufort said to the Duke of Gloucester, “Your Heaven is on Earth. Your eyes and thoughts are obsessed with a crown, which is the treasure of your heart, pernicious Protector, dangerous peer, who so flatters the King and commonwealth!”
Matthew 6:19-21 (King James Version) states this:
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
The Duke of Gloucester replied, “Cardinal Beaufort, have you as a priest grown imperious and dictatorial? ‘Tantaene animis coelestibus irae?’ Are churchmen so hot? Good uncle, hide such malice. With all of your ‘holiness,’ can you do it?”
“Tantaene animis coelestibus irae?” is a Latin quotation from Virgil’s Aeneid1:11. Translated, it means, “Is there such anger in the minds of Heavenly beings?”
Cardinal Beaufortand the Duke of Gloucester were related. The Duke of Gloucester’s father was King Henry IV. Cardinal Beaufortwas King Henry IV’s half-brother. When Cardinal Beaufortwas born, his parents were not married, but they married afterward. John of Gaunt is Cardinal Beaufort’s father and the Duke of Gloucester’s grandfather.
The Duke of Suffolk said, “There is no malice, sir — no more than well becomes so good a quarrel and so bad a peer.”
“So bad a peer as whom, my lord?” the Duke of Gloucester asked.
“Why, as you, my lord,” the Duke of Suffolk said, “if it pleases your lordly Lord Protectorship.”
“Why, Suffolk, England knows your insolence,” the Duke of Gloucester said.
“And it knows your ambition, Gloucester,” Queen Margaret said.
“Please, be calm and peaceful, good Queen,” King Henry VI said, “and don’t incite these furious peers, for blessed are the peacemakers on earth.”
Cardinal Beaufort said, “Let me be blessed for the peace I make, against this proud Lord Protector, with my sword!”
The Duke of Gloucester said quietly so that only Cardinal Beaufort could hear him, “Indeed, holy uncle, I wish that it would come to that — an armed single combat between us two!”
Cardinal Beaufort whispered to the Duke of Gloucester, “By the Virgin Mary, I am ready whenever you dare to fight me.”
The Duke of Gloucesterwhispered to Cardinal Beaufort, “Don’t gather supporters to back you in a fight. You yourself shall pay for your insults.”
Cardinal Beaufort whispered to the Duke of Gloucester, “Yes, I shall pay where you dare not peep. If you dare to fight me, let’s fight this evening, on the east side of the grove.”
“What’s going on, my lords?” King Henry VI asked them.
Cardinal Beaufort said out loud, “Believe me, cousin Gloucester, if your servant had not caused the fowl to rise from cover so suddenly, we would have had more sport.”
He was pretending to have been talking to the Duke of Gloucester only about hawking.
He then whispered to the Duke of Gloucester, “Come with your two-handed sword — your long sword.”
“I truly will, uncle,” the Duke of Gloucester replied.
Cardinal Beaufort whispered to the Duke of Gloucester, “Do you agree? The east side of the grove?”
The Duke of Gloucesterwhispered, “Cardinal, I will fight you there.”
“Why, what’s going on, uncle Gloucester!” King Henry VI asked.
“We are talking about hawking — nothing else, my lord,” the Duke of Gloucester replied.
He whispered to Cardinal Beaufort, “Now, by God’s mother, priest, I’ll shave your crown for this, or all my skill in fencing shall fail.”
Cardinal Beaufort whispered to the Duke of Gloucester, “Medice, teipsum. Protector, see to it well — protect yourself.”
Luke 4:23 in the Vulgate Bible stated in part, “Medice, cura teipsum.” The Latin meant, “Physician, cure yourself.” The words had become proverbial and the Latin word “cura” was understood.
King Henry VI said, “The winds grow high; so does your anger, lords. How irksome is this music to my heart! When such strings jar, what hope do we have of harmony? Please, my lords, let me settle this strife.”
Atownsman of St. Albans arrived, crying, “A miracle!”
The Duke of Gloucester asked, “What is the meaning of this noise? Fellow, what miracle are you proclaiming?”
“A miracle! A miracle!” the townsman cried.
The Duke of Suffolk said, “Come to the King and tell him what miracle.”
“Truly, within this past half-hour a blind man at St. Albans’ shrine that is devoted to St. Alban has received his sight. He is a man who was born blind and never saw in his life before.”
St. Albans was named after St. Alban, the first British saint.
King Henry VI said, “Now, God be praised, Who to believing souls gives light in darkness, and comfort in despair!”
The Mayor of St. Albans and some townsmen arrived. Some townsmen were carrying Simpcox in a chair. Simpcox’ wife followed behind the others.
Cardinal Beaufort said, “Here come the townsmen in a processionto show the man to your highness.”
“Great is his comfort in this earthly vale,although by his sight his sin will be multiplied,” King Henry VI said.
He meant that the gift of sight would increase the man’s temptations to sin.
“Stand by, my masters,” the Duke of Gloucester said. “Bring him near the King. His highness’ pleasure is to talk with him.”
“Good fellow, tell us here the circumstances of your receiving sight,so that we for you may glorify the Lord,” King Henry VI said. “Have you been blind a long time and is your sight now restored?”
“I was born blind, if it pleases your grace,” Simpcox said.
“Yes, indeed, he was,” his wife said.
“What woman is this?” the Duke of Suffolk asked.
“I am his wife, if it pleases your worship,” she replied.
The Duke of Gloucester, already suspicious of the miracle, said, “If you had been his mother, you would have been in a better position to say that.”
“Where were you born?” King Henry VI asked.
“At Berwick in the north, if it pleases your grace,” Simpcox replied.
Berwick is located near the Scottish border.
“Poor soul, God’s goodness has been great to you,” King Henry VI said. “Never let a day or a night pass without saying your prayers, but always remember what the Lord has done for you.”
“Tell me, good fellow,” Queen Margaret said, “did you come here to this holy shrine by chance, or out of devotion?”
“God knows that I came out of pure devotion,” Simpcox said. “I was called to come here a hundred times and oftener in my sleep by good St. Alban, who said, ‘Simpcox, come, come, make an offering at my shrine, and I will help you.’”
Simpcox’ wife said, “This is very true, indeed; and many time and often I myself have heard a voice call to him so.”
Because Simpcox had been carried in a chair, Cardinal Beaufort asked, “Are you lame?”
“Yes, may God Almighty help me!” Simpcox replied.
“How did you come to be lame?” the Duke of Suffolk asked.
“I fell out of a tree,” Simpcox replied.
His wife added, “A plum tree, master.”
The Duke of Gloucester asked, “How long have you been blind?”
“I was born blind, master,” Simpcox replied.
“Born blind, and yet you climbed a tree?” the Duke of Gloucester asked.
“Just once in all my life, when I was a youth,” Simpcox replied.
“That is too true, and his climbing cost him very dear,” his wife said.
“By the Mass, you must have really loved plums, if you would risk climbing a tree to get them,” the Duke of Gloucester said.
“Alas, good master, my wife desired some damsons, and made me climb to get them, despite the danger to my life,” Simpcox said.
Some bawdy humor was being expressed here. “Plum tree” was slang for a woman’s crotch and thighs. “Climbing a plum tree” was slang for mounting and having sex with a woman. “Damsons” was a word that meant 1) a kind of small plum and 2) testicles.
The Duke of Gloucester thought to himself, He is a cunning knave, but he won’t get away with this.
He said out loud to Simpcox, “Let me see your eyes. Close them; now open them. In my opinion you still do not see well.”
“Yes, I do, master,” Simpcox said. “I see as clear as day, for which I thank God and St. Alban.”
“Tell me,” the Duke of Gloucester said, “what color is this cloak?”
“It is red, master; it is as red as blood,” Simpcox replied.
“Why, that’s well said. What color is my gown?” the Duke of Gloucester asked.
“It is black, indeed,” Simpcox said. “It is as black as coal; it is as black as jet.”
Jet is a kind of black coal.
Suddenly suspicious, King Henry VI asked, “How do you know what color jet is?”
“I think he has never seen jet,” the Duke of Suffolk said.
The Duke of Gloucester said, “But he has seen many cloaks and gowns before this day.”
Simpcox’ wife said, “Before today, he has never seen any cloaks and gowns.”
The Duke of Gloucester asked, “Tell me, sirrah, what’s my name?”
Simpcox replied, “Alas, master, I don’t know your name.”
The Duke of Gloucester pointed to a man and asked, “What’s his name?”
“I don’t know,” Simpcox said.
The Duke of Gloucester pointed to another man and asked, “Do you know his name?”
“No, indeed, master.”
“What’s your own name?”
“Saunder Simpcox, if it pleases you, master.”
“Then, Saunder, sit there,” the Duke of Gloucester said. “You are the lyingest knave in Christendom. If you had been born blind, you might as well have known all our names as thus to name the several colors we wear. Sight may distinguish among colors, but for a just-sighted person to immediately be able to name them all is impossible.
“My lords, St. Alban here has done a miracle, and wouldn’t you think the cunning to be great of any person who could restore this cripple to his legs again?”
“Oh, master, I wish that you could!” Simpcox said.
The Duke of Gloucester asked, “My masters of St. Albans, don’t you have beadles — parish officers — in your town, and things called whips?”
The Mayor of St. Albans replied, “Yes, my lord, if it pleases your grace.”
“Then send for one of each immediately,” the Duke of Gloucester said.
The Mayor ordered an attendant, “Sirrah, go fetch the beadle and his whip here straightaway.”
An attendant exited to carry out the order.
The Duke of Gloucester said, “Now fetch for me a stool here immediately.”
He then said to Simpcox, “Now, sirrah, if you mean to save yourself from a whipping, leap over this stool and run away.”
“Alas, master, I am not able to stand by myself,” Simpcox said. “You are about to torture me in vain.”
A beadle arrived, carrying a whip.
The Duke of Gloucester said, “Well, sir, we must have you find your legs.
“Sirrah beadle, whip him until he leaps over that stool.”
The beadle replied, “I will, my lord.”
He then said to Simpcox, “Come on, sirrah; take your jacket off quickly.”
“Alas, master, what shall I do?” Simpcox asked. “I am not able to stand.”
The beadle hit Simpcox once with the whip, and Simpcox leapt over the stool and ran away. Some townsmen ran after him and cried, “A miracle!”
King Henry VI said, “Oh, God, can You see this, and tolerate it for so long?”
Queen Margaret said, “It made me laugh to see the villain run.”
The Duke of Gloucester ordered, “Follow the knave; and take this drab — Simpcox’ slut — away.”
Simpcox’ wife said, “Alas, sir, we did it out of pure need.”
The Duke of Gloucester ordered, “Let them be whipped through every market town until they come to the town of Berwick, from whence they came.”
Simpcox’ wife, the beadle, the Mayor, and the townspeople exited.
Cardinal Beaufort said, “Duke Humphrey of Gloucester has done a miracle today.”
“That is true,” the Duke of Suffolk said. “He made the lame leap and flee away.”
The Duke of Gloucester said, “But you have done more miracles than I: You made in a day, my lord, whole towns flee away.”
He was referring to the giving away of Anjou and Maine, and these regions’ towns, in exchange for Margaret.
The Duke of Buckingham arrived.
King Henry VI asked, “What tidings come with our kinsman Buckingham? What news do you have?”
The Duke of Buckingham replied, “My news is such that my heart trembles to reveal. A gang of wicked persons, evilly inclined, under the approval and collusion of Lady Eleanor, the Lord Protector’s wife, who is the ringleader and head of all this evil company, has conspired dangerously against your state. They have been dealing with witches and with conjurers whom we have apprehended in the act of raising up wicked spirits from underground and asking them about King Henry VI’s life and death, and the life and death of other members of your highness’ Privy Council, as in full detail your grace shall understand.”
Cardinal Beaufort whispered to the Duke of Gloucester, “And so, my Lord Protector, by this means your lady — your wife — is awaiting trial at London. This news, I think, has blunted your weapon’s edge; it is likely, my lord, you will not keep your appointment you made with me to fight a duel.”
The Duke of Gloucester replied, “Ambitious churchman, stop afflicting my heart. Sorrow and grief have vanquished all my powers, and vanquished as I am, I yield to you, or to the lowest servant.”
“Oh, God, what evils work the wicked ones, heaping confusion on their own heads thereby!” King Henry VI said.
Queen Margaret said, “Gloucester, see here the defilement of your nest. It is best for you to make sure that you are faultless.”
The Duke of Gloucester replied, “Madam, as for myself, I call on Heaven to corroborate how I have loved my King and commonwealth. And, as for my wife, I don’t know what the facts are, but I am sorry to hear what I have heard just now. Noble she is, but if she has forgotten honor and virtue and conversed with such people as, similar to pitch, defile nobility, I banish her from my bed and company and I give her as a prey to law and shame — to them I give this woman who has dishonored Gloucester’s honest name.”
King Henry VI said, “Well, for this night we will repose here. Tomorrow we will head back toward London again, to look into this business thoroughly and call these foul offenders to their interrogation and weigh the case in justice’s scales. The scales of justice are equal, and the scales’ beam stands sure, certain, and reliable. We will find out whose rightful cause prevails. We will discover the truth.”
Between the fifth and sixth grades, children’s book author Walter Dean Myers picked up a lot of information about female anatomy from his friends; unfortunately, much of the information was not accurate. For example, he learned that if a boy touched a girl’s breasts, the girl could get pregnant. This was believable to him because he had once hit his sister on a breast. She had complained to their mother, and their mother had told him never to hit a girl on a breast. Young Walter thought that his sister had complained because she was worried about getting pregnant.
Lesbian playwright Holly Hughes had a very good reason for writing plays—to get girls. She would write a play that starred the girl she was pursuing. (Of course, Ms. Hughes would play the love interest of the star.) In her introduction to Dress Suits for Hire, Ms. Hughes writes about the difficulty of writing a commissioned play for some people she knew she would not sleep with: “It was hard for me to imagine why someone would go to all the work to write a play if there was absolutely no chance she would get laid as a result. What was the point?”
Lesbian humorist Garbo once shared an apartment with two gay men, who were very open about their sexuality. Sometimes, one of Garbo’s straight friends would come over unannounced, and Garbo would remove a newspaper from the couch only to find gay porn under the newspaper. Once, the landlord showed the apartment to a straight couple. He opened the door to the gay men’s bedroom, where he saw a sex toy lying on the bed. The landlord quickly shut the door, then he told the straight couple. “Let’s take a look at the kitchen.”
Beth Joiner, a children’s dance teacher in Georgia, knows more about the goings-on of her students’ family lives than the students’ parents probably want her to know. For example, one young boy asked her, “Do you know what my sister and I do when my parents go in the bedroom and lock the door?” Miss Beth answered that she did not know, and the boy explained, “We throw the ball in the den—we’re not supposed to.” From this conversation, Miss Beth learned that parents and children can both be naughty.
Early Shakespearean actresses Margaret “Peg” Woffington and Catherine “Kitty” Clive were quite different in morals; Ms. Woffington was sexually adventurous, while Ms. Clive was sexually chaste. Once, Ms. Clive remarked that “a pretty face … excuses a multitude of sweethearts.” Ms. Woffington, who had both a pretty face and a multitude of sweethearts, replied, “And a plain one ensures a vast overflow of unmarketable virtue.”
Marty Brill started as a singer and guitarist, but he went into comedy full-time when the audience laughed at his ad libs after he broke a guitar string while on the Ed Sullivan Show. He used to tell a joke about Adolf Hitler picking up a French woman in Paris in 1940. After sleeping with the French woman, he told her, “In nine months, you’ll have a baby. Call him Adolf.” She replied, “In two weeks, you’ll have a rash. Call it what you like.”
Celebrated homosexual wit Quentin Crisp used to live in a house with several tenants, including a woman who would frequently bring home men and keep everyone up with her screams of sexual ecstasy. Eventually, she turned religious and lectured the other tenants on their lack of morality. Mr. Crisp told her one day, “I think I preferred you when you were a nymphomaniac.”
At one time, a rumor stated that President John Adams had sent General C.C. Pinckney to France so that he could pick out two French girls for himself and two for President Adams. In a letter to William Tudor, President Adams joked about the rumor, “If this be true, General Pinckney has kept them all for himself and cheated me out of my two.”
Some sexist comedians make jokes about forcing their girlfriends to sleep on the “wet spot” following sex. Canadian comedian Meg Soper responds by saying that if her boyfriend ever tries to make her sleep on the wet spot, she is going to give him no further opportunities to make wet spots.
Once, a man was trying to make comedian Margaret Cho have sex with him although she didn’t want to, and he tried to push her into a woodshed. She told him, “Don’t push me in there. There are axes in there!” He thought about what she might do with one of those axes and decided to leave her alone.
Gene Fowler was tending the lawn of his California home when a car drove up to him and stopped, then the driver asked about a glamorous, sexy movie star, “Does Lana Turner live here?” Mr. Fowler looked up and answered, “If Lana Turner lived here, do you think I would be outdoors?”
When playwright Lillian Hellman was a child, she discovered that her father was having an affair, despite still being married to her mother. She was so upset that she went home, climbed her favorite fig tree, and threw herself to the ground, breaking her nose.
Stand-up comedian Greg Dean once followed a redheaded woman comic who did a routine about having kinky sex all night with a stranger. When Mr. Dean went on sex, he looked exhausted and said that he had been up all night having kinky sex with a redhead.
Sometimes people tell lesbian comedian Judy Carter, “You’re a lesbian because you have had bad sexual experiences with men.” She replies, “If that were the case, ninety-nine percent of women would turn lesbian.”
While comedian Jebb Fink was performing live, his microphone suddenly sagged in its holder. Mr. Fink got a laugh by ad-libbing, “Oh, the story of my life. It’s always going limp when I need it most.”
One of Matt Groening’s Life in Hell comic strips featured “What Not to Say During Moments of Intimacy.” One conversational tidbit was “O, My Lord in Heaven, forgive me for this vile sin I am about to commit.”
“My Kid Got Your Honor Roll Student Pregnant.”—bumper sticker.
I HAVE two monuments besides this granite obelisk: One, the house I built on the hill, With its spires, bay windows, and roof of slate. The other, the lake-front in Chicago, Where the railroad keeps a switching yard, With whistling engines and crunching wheels And smoke and soot thrown over the city, And the crash of cars along the boulevard,— A blot like a hog-pen on the harbor Of a great metropolis, foul as a sty. I helped to give this heritage To generations yet unborn, with my vote In the House of Representatives, And the lure of the thing was to be at rest From the never-ending fright of need, And to give my daughters gentle breeding, And a sense of security in life. But, you see, though I had the mansion house And traveling passes and local distinction, I could hear the whispers, whispers, whispers, Wherever I went, and my daughters grew up With a look as if some one were about to strike them; And they married madly, helter-skelter, Just to get out and have a change. And what was the whole of the business worth? Why, it wasn’t worth a damn!
I WAS the daughter of Lambert Hutchins, Born in a cottage near the grist-mill, Reared in the mansion there on the hill, With its spires, bay-windows, and roof of slate. How proud my mother was of the mansion How proud of father’s rise in the world! And how my father loved and watched us, And guarded our happiness. But I believe the house was a curse, For father’s fortune was little beside it; And when my husband found he had married A girl who was really poor, He taunted me with the spires, And called the house a fraud on the world, A treacherous lure to young men, raising hopes Of a dowry not to be had; And a man while selling his vote Should get enough from the people’s betrayal To wall the whole of his family in. He vexed my life till I went back home And lived like an old maid till I died, Keeping house for father.
Do you know a language other than English? If you do, I give you permission to translate any or all of my retellings, copyright your translation, publish or self-publish it, and keep all the royalties for yourself. (Do give me credit, of course, for the original retelling.)
I would like to see my retellings of classic literature used in schools, so I give permission to the country of Finland (and all other countries) to give copies of this book to all students forever. I also give permission to the state of Texas (and all other states) to give copies of this book to all students forever. I also give permission to all teachers to give copies of this book to all students forever.
Teachers need not actually teach my retellings. Teachers are welcome to give students copies of my eBooks as background material. For example, if they are teaching Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, teachers are welcome to give students copies of my Virgil’s Aeneid: A Retelling in Prose and tell students, “Here’s another ancient epic you may want to read in your spare time.”
Bruce, David. “Teaching Problem-Solving Through Scenarios.” Classroom Notes Plus: A Quarterly of Teaching Ideas. April 2004.
Bruce, Bruce David, David Stewart, and H. Gene Blocker. Instructor’s Manual and Test Bank for Stewart and Blocker’s Fundamentals of Philosophy, 5th edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2001.
Bruce, Bruce David, and Michael Vengrin. Study Guide for Robert Paul Wolff’s About Philosophy, 8th edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2000.
Bruce, Bruce David, and Michael Vengrin. Study Guide for Robert Paul Wolff’s About Philosophy, 7th edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1998.
Bruce, Bruce David. Study Guide for David Stewart and H. Gene Blocker’s Fundamentals of Philosophy, 4th edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1996.
Bruce, David. “Quarterly Quiz.” The Opera Quarterly. Vol. 21. No. 2. Spring 2005.
Bruce, David. “Quarterly Quiz: Tenors.” The Opera Quarterly. Vol. 20. No. 4. Autumn 2004.
Bruce, David. “Quarterly Quiz: Sopranos.” The Opera Quarterly. Vol. 20. No. 3. Summer 2004.
Bruce, David. “Shakespeare Quiz.” The Shakespeare Newsletter. 52:1. No. 252. Spring 2002.
Bruce, David. “Quarterly Quiz: More Singer Anecdotes.” The Opera Quarterly. Vol. 18. No. 1. Winter 2002.
Bruce, David. “Mystery Quiz.” International Gymnast. March 2002.
Bruce, David. “Mystery Quiz.” International Gymnast. February 2002.
Bruce, David. “Mystery Quiz.” International Gymnast. November 2001.
A song for the rights of all: the right to be safe in our bodies, the right to make decisions for our bodies, and the right to be who we are in our bodies. (Lyrics below.) I wrote this song […] out of the need to process my anger at women’s rights being taken away and for what this means for other rights down the line. A never-ending issue it seems, but one we can’t stop fighting for. A big thank you to Tom Riggs for taking footage of my first performance of this song with Mark Hellenberg on drums at The Union in Athens, OH.
Lyrics for “This Body”:
This body is temporary, but while it’s here / It’s not yours to hold captive in fear / This body is mine, it was never yours / So fuck your laws and gods and guns / I get to say what I put inside / I GET TO CHOOSE, IT IS MY RIGHT / This body is sacred, but only safe / When I’m in charge, you have no claim / This body is proud and wears the crown / Makes the decisions and won’t back down / I get to say what I put inside / I GET TO CHOOSE, IT IS MY RIGHT / And don’t tell me who I can love or about my identity / Don’t use your privilege to subject your patriarchy / I get to say what I put inside / I GET TO CHOOSE, IT IS MY RIGHT.