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Gary Taylor, John Jowett, Terri Bourus, and Gabriel Egan (eds), The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition

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Sc. 21.2

Editor’s NoteEnter Duke Humphrey of Gloucester [carrying a staff], and his wife Eleanor, [the Duchess]

duchess Why droops my lord, like over-ripened corn

Editor’s Note2Hanging the head at Ceres' plenteous load?

3Why doth the great Duke Humphrey knit his brows,

4As frowning at the favours of the world?

5Why are thine eyes fixed to the sullen earth,

6Gazing on that which seems to dim thy sight?

7What seest thou there? King Henry's diadem,

Editor’s Note8Enchased with all the honours of the world?

9If so, gaze on, and grovel on thy face,

10Until thy head be circled with the same.

Editor’s Note11Put forth thy hand, reach at the glorious gold.

12What, is't too short? I'll lengthen it with mine;

13And having both together heaved it up,

14We'll both together lift our heads to heaven,

15And never more abase our sight so low

16As to vouchsafe one glance unto the ground.


gloucester O Nell, sweet Nell, if thou dost love thy lord,

Editor’s Note18Banish the canker of ambitious thoughts!

Editor’s Note19And may that hour when I imagine ill

20Against my king and nephew, virtuous Henry,

21Be my last breathing in this mortal world!

Editor’s Note22My troublous dream this night doth make me sad.


duchess What dreamed my lord? Tell me and I'll requite it

Editor’s Note24With sweet rehearsal of my morning's dream.

Editor’s Note25

gloucester Methought this staff, mine office-badge in court,

26Was broke in twain—by whom, I have forgot,

27But, as I think, it was by th' Cardinal—

28And on the pieces of the broken wand

29Were placed the heads of Edmund, Duke of Somerset,

30And William de la Pole, first Duke of Suffolk.

31This was my dream; what it doth bode, God knows.

pg 263 Editor’s Note32

duchess Tut, this was nothing but an argument

33That he that breaks a stick of Gloucester's grove

34Shall lose his head for his presumptïon.

35But list to me, my Humphrey, my sweet duke:

36Methought I sat in seat of majesty

37In the cathedral church of Westminster,

38And in that chair where kings and queens were crowned,

39Where Henry and Dame Margaret kneeled to me,

40And on my head did set the diadem.

Editor’s Note41

gloucester Nay, Eleanor, then must I chide outright.

42Presumptuous dame, ill-nurtured Eleanor!

43Art thou not second woman in the realm,

44And the Protector's wife, beloved of him?

45Hast thou not worldly pleasure at command

Editor’s Note46Above the reach or compass of thy thought?

Editor’s Note47And wilt thou still be hammering treachery

48To tumble down thy husband and thyself

49From top of honour to disgrace's feet?

50Away from me, and let me hear no more!


duchess What, what, my lord? Are you so choleric

52With Eleanor for telling but her dream?

53Next time I'll keep my dreams unto myself

Editor’s Note54And not be checked.


gloucester Nay, be not angry, I am pleased again.

Enter a Messenger

messenger My Lord Protector, 'tis his highness' pleasure

57You do prepare to ride unto Saint Albans,

Editor’s Note58Whereas the King and Queen do mean to hawk.


gloucester I go. Come, Nell, thou wilt ride with us?

Editor’s Note60

duchess Yes, my good lord, I'll follow presently.

Exeunt [Gloucester and the Messenger]

61Follow I must; I cannot go before

62While Gloucester bears this base and humble mind.

63Were I a man, a duke, and next of blood,

64I would remove these tedious stumbling blocks

65And smooth my way upon their headless necks.

66And, being a woman, I will not be slack

Editor’s Note67To play my part in fortune's pageant.

Editor’s Note68Where are you there? Sir John! Nay, fear not man,

Editor’s Note69We are alone; here's none but thee and I.

Editor’s NoteEnter Hume
Editor’s Note70

hume Jesus preserve your royal majesty.

Editor’s Note71

duchess What sayst thou? 'Majesty'? I am but 'grace'.


hume But by the grace of God and Hume's advice

Editor’s Note73Your grace's title shall be multiplied.

pg 264 74

duchess What sayst thou, man? Hast thou as yet conferred

Editor’s Note75With Margery Jordan, the cunning witch,

76With Roger Bolingbroke, the conjuror?

77And will they undertake to do me good?


hume This they have promisèd: to show your highness

79A spirit raised from depth of underground

Link 80That shall make answer to such questïons

81As by your grace shall be propounded him.


duchess It is enough. I'll think upon the questions.

83When from Saint Albans we do make return,

84We'll see these things effected to the full.

85Here, Hume, take this reward [handing him money] ; make merry, man,

86With thy confederates in this weighty cause.


hume Hume must make merry with the Duchess' gold;

Editor’s Note88Marry, and shall. But how now, Sir John Hume?

89Seal up your lips, and give no words but mum;

Editor’s Note90The business asketh silent secrecy.

91Dame Eleanor gives gold to bring the witch;

92Gold cannot come amiss, were she a devil.

93Yet have I gold flies from another coast:

94I dare not say from the rich Cardinal

95And from the great and new-made Duke of Suffolk;

96Yet I do find it so. For, to be plain,

97They, knowing Dame Eleanor's aspiring humour,

Editor’s Note98Have hirèd me to undermine the Duchess

Editor’s Note99And buzz these conjurations in her brain.

Editor’s Note100They say 'A crafty knave does need no broker',

101Yet am I Suffolk and the Cardinal's broker.

102Hume, if you take not heed, you shall go near

103To call them both a pair of crafty knaves.

104Well, so it stands; and thus, I fear, at last

Editor’s Note105Hume's knavery will be the Duchess' wrack,

Editor’s Note106And her attainture will be Humphrey's fall.

Editor’s Note107Sort how it will, I shall have gold for all.


Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
2.0 Productions often emphasize the contrast between the opening public court scene and this private space.
Editor’s Note
2.2 Ceres Roman goddess of grain
Editor’s Note
2.8 Enchased adorned
Editor’s Note
2.11–2 Put … mine The Duchess may stretch out Gloucester's arms in an extravagant manner, perhaps joining hers with his and lifting his chin to look towards heaven. If so, Gloucester may break away from her abruptly at 2.18.
Editor’s Note
2.18 canker eating, spreading sore
Editor’s Note
2.19 imagine conceive
Editor’s Note
2.22 this night last night
Editor’s Note
2.24 rehearsal recital
Editor’s Note
2.24 morning's dream (i.e. dream thought likely to come true)
Editor’s Note
2.25 this staff (perhaps holding the staff aloft or pointing to it if he has laid it down)
Editor’s Note
2.32 argument proof
Editor’s Note
2.41–2 Nay … Eleanor! The tone of Gloucester's rebuke offers a strong insight into his marital relationship; Gloucester's chiding could be light-hearted, scornful, angry, etc. He could seem sceptical or wary.
Editor’s Note
2.46 compass range
Editor’s Note
2.47 hammering devising
Editor’s Note
2.54 checked rebuked
Editor’s Note
2.58 Whereas where
Editor’s Note
2.60 I'll follow presently Gloucester and the Duchess might embrace before he leaves with the messenger.
Editor’s Note
2.67 pageant (pronounced as three syllables)
Editor’s Note
2.68 Sir Both knights and, as here, priests were so addressed.
Editor’s Note
2.69 We are alone (perhaps looking around)
Editor’s Note
2.69.1 Enter Hume (presumably from the opposite direction to Gloucester's exit)
Editor’s Note
2.70 majesty An anachronism: the Tudors were the first monarchs to be so addressed.
Editor’s Note
2.71 What … 'grace' perhaps spoken warily or curiously; she may seem contemptuous of her current title
Editor’s Note
2.73 grace's … multiplied Hume punningly alludes to 1 Peter 1:2: 'Grace and peace be multiplied unto you'.
Editor’s Note
2.75 cunning possessing magical knowledge or skill
Editor’s Note
2.88 Marry indeed (a mild oath)
Editor’s Note
2.90 asketh requires
Editor’s Note
2.98 undermine work secretly or stealthily against
Editor’s Note
2.99 buzz whisper, insinuate
Editor’s Note
2.100 broker agent
Editor’s Note
2.105 wrack destruction
Editor’s Note
2.106 attainture shame
Editor’s Note
2.107 Sort how it will however it turns out
Editor’s Note
2.107 Sort … all Hume may look at the money the Duchess has given him to strengthen his resolve; alternatively, he may seem entirely without remorse about his actions.
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