Henry VI, Part 2

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King Henry VI Part 2 is a history play by William Shakespeare, originally known as The First Part of the Contention betwixt the Two Famous Houses of York and Lancaster. It was probably written ca. 1590-91 as the second part of the trilogy on Henry VI of England and is often grouped together with Richard III as a tetralogy on The Wars of the Roses, the success of which established Shakespeare's reputation as a playwright. The play focuses on the King's inability to quell the bickering of his nobles, the death of his trusted adviser Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the rise of the Duke of York and the inevitability of armed conflict.

Act I

  • O Lord, that lends me life,
    Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!
    • King Henry, scene i

  • Main chance.
    • Warwick, scene i

  • Put forth thy hand, reach at the glorious Gold.
    • Duchess, scene ii

  • Is this the fashion in the court of England?
    Is this the government of Britain's isle,
    And this the royalty of Albion's king?
    • Queen Margaret, scene iii

  • She bears a duke's revenues on her back,
    And in her heart she scorns our poverty.
    • Queen Margaret, scene iii

  • Could I come near your beauty with my nails,
    I’d set my ten commandments in your face.
    • Duchess, scene iii

Act II

  • How irksome is this music to my heart! When such strings jar, what hope of harmony?
    • King Henry, scene i

  • God shall be my hope,
    My stay, my guide, and lantern to my feet.
    • King Henry, scene iii


  • Smooth runs the water, where the brook is deep;
    And in his simple show he harbours treason.
    • Suffolk, scene i

  • The fox barks not, when he would steal the lamb.
    • Suffolk, scene i

  • The commons, like an angry hive of bees,
    That want their leader, scatter up and down,
    And care not who they sting in his revenge.
    • Warwick, scene ii

  • What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted!
    Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just;
    And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel,
    Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted.
    • King Henry, scene ii

  • He dies, and makes no sign.
    • King Henry, scene iii

  • Forbear to judge, for we are sinners all.
    Close up his eyes, and draw the curtain close;
    And let us all to meditation.
    • King Henry, scene iii

Act IV

  • The gaudy, blabbing, and remorseful day
    Is crept into the bosom of the sea.
    • Captain, scene i

  • Small things make base men proud.
    • Suffolk, scene i

  • True nobility is exempt from fear:—
    More can I bear, than you dare execute.
    • Suffolk, scene i

  • I say it was never merry world in England since gentlemen came up.
    • Second rebel, scene ii

  • There shall be, in England, seven half-penny loaves sold for a penny: the three-hoop'd pot shall have ten hoops; and I will make it felony, to drink small beer.
    • Cade, scene ii

  • The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
    • Dick the butcher, scene ii

  • Is not this a lamentable thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled o’er, should undo a man?
    • Cade, scene ii

  • And Adam was a gardener.
    • Cade, scene ii

  • Sir, he made a chimney in my father’s house, and the bricks are alive at this day to testify it.
    • Smith the weaver, scene ii

  • 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 caused printing to be used; and, contrary to the king, his crown, and dignity, thou hast built a paper-mill. It will be proved 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.
    • Cade, scene vii

  • Away with him, away with him! he speaks Latin.
    • Cade, scene vii

  • And seeing ignorance is the curse of God,
    Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.
    • Saye, scene vii

Act V

  • It is great sin, to swear unto a sin;
    But greater sin, to keep a sinful oath.
    • Salisbury, scene i

  • Can we outrun the heavens?
    • King Henry, scene ii
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