Henry VI, Part 1 "Unbidden Guests Are Often Welcomest When They Are Gone"

William Shakespeare

"Unbidden Guests Are Often Welcomest When They Are Gone"

Context: Lord Talbot, afterwards Earl of Shrewsbury, called a "fiend of hell" or "if not of hell, the heavens sure favour him," has stormed the French city of Orleans, and routed the French out of their beds half dressed. An English soldier has discovered that he needs no arms since "The cry of Talbot serves me as a sword." After having taken Orleans, Talbot, Bedford and Burgundy, with soldiers, while in the city are approached by a messenger from the Countess of Auvergne who says that she should like to talk to Talbot, so "That she may boast she hath beheld the man,/ Whose glory fills the world with loud report." Talbot agrees to visit the Countess, but asks the other nobles to go with him. Burgundy and Bedford comment as follows:

Nay, then I see our wars
Will turn unto a peaceful comic sport,
When ladies crave to be encountered with.
No, truly, it is more than manners will;
And I have heard it said, unbidden guests
Are often welcomest when they are gone.