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Home > King Henry VI Part 1 > ACT II - SCENE V. The Tower of London.

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ACT II - SCENE V. The Tower of London.
Enter MORTIMER, brought in a chair, and Gaolers

MORTIMER
1    Kind keepers of my weak decaying age,
2    Let dying Mortimer here rest himself.
3    Even like a man new haled from the rack,
4    So fare my limbs with long imprisonment.
5    And these grey locks, the pursuivants of death,
6    Nestor-like aged in an age of care,
7    Argue the end of Edmund Mortimer.
8    These eyes, like lamps whose wasting oil is spent,
9    Wax dim, as drawing to their exigent;
10   Weak shoulders, overborne with burthening grief,
11   And pithless arms, like to a wither'd vine
12   That droops his sapless branches to the ground;
13   Yet are these feet, whose strengthless stay is numb,
14   Unable to support this lump of clay,
15   Swift-winged with desire to get a grave,
16   As witting I no other comfort have.
17   But tell me, keeper, will my nephew come?
First Gaoler
18   Richard Plantagenet, my lord, will come:
19   We sent unto the Temple, unto his chamber;
20   And answer was return'd that he will come.
MORTIMER
21   Enough: my soul shall then be satisfied.
22   Poor gentleman! his wrong doth equal mine.
23   Since Henry Monmouth first began to reign,
24   Before whose glory I was great in arms,
25   This loathsome sequestration have I had:
26   And even since then hath Richard been obscured,
27   Deprived of honour and inheritance.
28   But now the arbitrator of despairs,
29   Just death, kind umpire of men's miseries,
30   With sweet enlargement doth dismiss me hence:
31   I would his troubles likewise were expired,
32   That so he might recover what was lost.
Enter RICHARD PLANTAGENET

First Gaoler
33   My lord, your loving nephew now is come.
MORTIMER
34   Richard Plantagenet, my friend, is he come?
RICHARD PLANTAGENET
35   Ay, noble uncle, thus ignobly used,
36   Your nephew, late despised Richard, comes.
MORTIMER
37   Direct mine arms I may embrace his neck,
38   And in his bosom spend my latter gasp:
39   O, tell me when my lips do touch his cheeks,
40   That I may kindly give one fainting kiss.
41   And now declare, sweet stem from York's great stock,
42   Why didst thou say, of late thou wert despised?
RICHARD PLANTAGENET
43   First, lean thine aged back against mine arm;
44   And, in that ease, I'll tell thee my disease.
45   This day, in argument upon a case,
46   Some words there grew 'twixt Somerset and me;
47   Among which terms he used his lavish tongue
48   And did upbraid me with my father's death:
49   Which obloquy set bars before my tongue,
50   Else with the like I had requited him.
51   Therefore, good uncle, for my father's sake,
52   In honour of a true Plantagenet
53   And for alliance sake, declare the cause
54   My father, Earl of Cambridge, lost his head.
MORTIMER
55   That cause, fair nephew, that imprison'd me
56   And hath detain'd me all my flowering youth
57   Within a loathsome dungeon, there to pine,
58   Was cursed instrument of his decease.
RICHARD PLANTAGENET
59   Discover more at large what cause that was,
60   For I am ignorant and cannot guess.
MORTIMER
61   I will, if that my fading breath permit
62   And death approach not ere my tale be done.
63   Henry the Fourth, grandfather to this king,
64   Deposed his nephew Richard, Edward's son,
65   The first-begotten and the lawful heir,
66   Of Edward king, the third of that descent:
67   During whose reign the Percies of the north,
68   Finding his usurpation most unjust,
69   Endeavor'd my advancement to the throne:
70   The reason moved these warlike lords to this
71   Was, for that--young King Richard thus removed,
72   Leaving no heir begotten of his body--
73   I was the next by birth and parentage;
74   For by my mother I derived am
75   From Lionel Duke of Clarence, the third son
76   To King Edward the Third; whereas he
77   From John of Gaunt doth bring his pedigree,
78   Being but fourth of that heroic line.
79   But mark: as in this haughty attempt
80   They laboured to plant the rightful heir,
81   I lost my liberty and they their lives.
82   Long after this, when Henry the Fifth,
83   Succeeding his father Bolingbroke, did reign,
84   Thy father, Earl of Cambridge, then derived
85   From famous Edmund Langley, Duke of York,
86   Marrying my sister that thy mother was,
87   Again in pity of my hard distress
88   Levied an army, weening to redeem
89   And have install'd me in the diadem:
90   But, as the rest, so fell that noble earl
91   And was beheaded. Thus the Mortimers,
92   In whom the tide rested, were suppress'd.
RICHARD PLANTAGENET
93   Of which, my lord, your honour is the last.
MORTIMER
94   True; and thou seest that I no issue have
95   And that my fainting words do warrant death;
96   Thou art my heir; the rest I wish thee gather:
97   But yet be wary in thy studious care.
RICHARD PLANTAGENET
98   Thy grave admonishments prevail with me:
99   But yet, methinks, my father's execution
100  Was nothing less than bloody tyranny.
MORTIMER
101  With silence, nephew, be thou politic:
102  Strong-fixed is the house of Lancaster,
103  And like a mountain, not to be removed.
104  But now thy uncle is removing hence:
105  As princes do their courts, when they are cloy'd
106  With long continuance in a settled place.
RICHARD PLANTAGENET
107  O, uncle, would some part of my young years
108  Might but redeem the passage of your age!
MORTIMER
109  Thou dost then wrong me, as that slaughterer doth
110  Which giveth many wounds when one will kill.
111  Mourn not, except thou sorrow for my good;
112  Only give order for my funeral:
113  And so farewell, and fair be all thy hopes
114  And prosperous be thy life in peace and war!
Dies

RICHARD PLANTAGENET
115  And peace, no war, befall thy parting soul!
116  In prison hast thou spent a pilgrimage
117  And like a hermit overpass'd thy days.
118  Well, I will lock his counsel in my breast;
119  And what I do imagine let that rest.
120  Keepers, convey him hence, and I myself
121  Will see his burial better than his life.
Exeunt Gaolers, bearing out the body of MORTIMER
122  Here dies the dusky torch of Mortimer,
123  Choked with ambition of the meaner sort:
124  And for those wrongs, those bitter injuries,
125  Which Somerset hath offer'd to my house:
126  I doubt not but with honour to redress;
127  And therefore haste I to the parliament,
128  Either to be restored to my blood,
129  Or make my ill the advantage of my good.
Exit

< (Previous) ACT II, SCENE IVACT III, SCENE I (Next) >
Scene Index
ACT I
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V
  • SCENE VI


  • ACT II
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V


  • ACT III
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV


  • ACT IV
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V
  • SCENE VI
  • SCENE VII


  • ACT V
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V

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