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My Gift to Conservatives

December 25, 2013

There are right-wingers on Twitter who like to bandy about this video as “proving” that since I can stand for six and a half minutes that I can stand for eight hours at a time. As armchair physicians, they have a far greater understanding of my condition and abilities than any medical doctor, doctor of osteopathic medicine, doctor of neurology, doctor of chiropractic, doctor of pediatric medicine, or licensed massage therapist.

In honor of these great conservatives, I present them with this passage from Act II, Scene 1 of William Shakespeare’s King Henry VI, Part Two.

Enter the Mayor of Saint Alban’s and his brethren, bearing SIMPCOX, between two in a chair, SIMPCOX’s Wife following

CARDINAL
Here comes the townsmen on procession,
To present your highness with the man.

KING HENRY VI
Great is his comfort in this earthly vale,
Although by his sight his sin be multiplied.

GLOUCESTER
Stand by, my masters: bring him near the king;
His highness’ pleasure is to talk with him.

KING HENRY VI
Good fellow, tell us here the circumstance,
That we for thee may glorify the Lord.
What, hast thou been long blind and now restored?

SIMPCOX
Born blind, an’t please your grace.

Wife
Ay, indeed, was he.

SUFFOLK
What woman is this?

Wife
His wife, an’t like your worship.

GLOUCESTER
Hadst thou been his mother, thou couldst have
better told.

KING HENRY VI
Where wert thou born?

SIMPCOX
At Berwick in the north, an’t like your grace.

KING HENRY VI
Poor soul, God’s goodness hath been great to thee:
Let never day nor night unhallow’d pass,
But still remember what the Lord hath done.

QUEEN MARGARET
Tell me, good fellow, camest thou here by chance,
Or of devotion, to this holy shrine?

SIMPCOX
God knows, of pure devotion; being call’d
A hundred times and oftener, in my sleep,
By good Saint Alban; who said, ‘Simpcox, come,
Come, offer at my shrine, and I will help thee.’

Wife
Most true, forsooth; and many time and oft
Myself have heard a voice to call him so.

CARDINAL
What, art thou lame?

SIMPCOX
Ay, God Almighty help me!

SUFFOLK
How camest thou so?

SIMPCOX
A fall off of a tree.

Wife
A plum-tree, master.

GLOUCESTER
How long hast thou been blind?

SIMPCOX
Born so, master.

GLOUCESTER
What, and wouldst climb a tree?

SIMPCOX
But that in all my life, when I was a youth.

Wife
Too true; and bought his climbing very dear.

GLOUCESTER
Mass, thou lovedst plums well, that wouldst
venture so.

SIMPCOX
Alas, good master, my wife desired some damsons,
And made me climb, with danger of my life.

GLOUCESTER
A subtle knave! but yet it shall not serve.
Let me see thine eyes: wink now: now open them:
In my opinion yet thou seest not well.

SIMPCOX
Yes, master, clear as day, I thank God and
Saint Alban.

GLOUCESTER
Say’st thou me so? What colour is this cloak of?

SIMPCOX
Red, master; red as blood.

GLOUCESTER
Why, that’s well said. What colour is my gown of?

SIMPCOX
Black, forsooth: coal-black as jet.

KING HENRY VI
Why, then, thou know’st what colour jet is of?

SUFFOLK
And yet, I think, jet did he never see.

GLOUCESTER
But cloaks and gowns, before this day, a many.

Wife
Never, before this day, in all his life.

GLOUCESTER
Tell me, sirrah, what’s my name?

SIMPCOX
Alas, master, I know not.

GLOUCESTER
What’s his name?

SIMPCOX
I know not.

GLOUCESTER
Nor his?

SIMPCOX
No, indeed, master.

GLOUCESTER
What’s thine own name?

SIMPCOX
Saunder Simpcox, an if it please you, master.

GLOUCESTER
Then, Saunder, sit there, the lyingest knave in
Christendom. If thou hadst been born blind, thou
mightest as well have known all our names as thus to
name the several colours we do wear. Sight may
distinguish of colours, but suddenly to nominate them
all, it is impossible. My lords, Saint Alban here
hath done a miracle; and would ye not think his
cunning to be great, that could restore this cripple
to his legs again?

SIMPCOX
O master, that you could!

GLOUCESTER
My masters of Saint Alban’s, have you not beadles in
your town, and things called whips?

Mayor
Yes, my lord, if it please your grace.

GLOUCESTER
Then send for one presently.

Mayor
Sirrah, go fetch the beadle hither straight.

Exit an Attendant

GLOUCESTER
Now fetch me a stool hither by and by. Now, sirrah,
if you mean to save yourself from whipping, leap me
over this stool and run away.

SIMPCOX
Alas, master, I am not able to stand alone:
You go about to torture me in vain.

Enter a Beadle with whips

GLOUCESTER
Well, sir, we must have you find your legs. Sirrah
beadle, whip him till he leap over that same stool.

Beadle
I will, my lord. Come on, sirrah; off with your
doublet quickly.

SIMPCOX
Alas, master, what shall I do? I am not able to stand.

After the Beadle hath hit him once, he leaps over the stool and runs away; and they follow and cry, ‘A miracle!’

I’ve seen Rockland Brooks Mers do entire plays without a cane, even though he’s normally been using one ever since being in a car accident, or at least was at the time I left Indianapolis. In Diane Kondrat’s Shakespeare in My Room, he paraded about the stage carrying a gigantic phallus when Kondrat is discussing the satyr plays of the ancient Greeks. He also got a reprieve from standing when playing the title role in King John, in which he was seated on a throne for the entire scene. This Gloucester is Humphrey of Lancaster, the second duke of that title, lest the conservatives get too proud thinking that I am comparing them to Richard Plantagenet, the third Duke of Gloucester, and later King Richard III.

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