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Home > King Henry VI Part 2 > ACT III - SCENE I. The Abbey at Bury St. Edmund's.

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ACT III - SCENE I. The Abbey at Bury St. Edmund's.
KING HENRY VI
1    I muse my Lord of Gloucester is not come:
2    'Tis not his wont to be the hindmost man,
3    Whate'er occasion keeps him from us now.
QUEEN MARGARET
4    Can you not see? or will ye not observe
5    The strangeness of his alter'd countenance?
6    With what a majesty he bears himself,
7    How insolent of late he is become,
8    How proud, how peremptory, and unlike himself?
9    We know the time since he was mild and affable,
10   And if we did but glance a far-off look,
11   Immediately he was upon his knee,
12   That all the court admired him for submission:
13   But meet him now, and, be it in the morn,
14   When every one will give the time of day,
15   He knits his brow and shows an angry eye,
16   And passeth by with stiff unbowed knee,
17   Disdaining duty that to us belongs.
18   Small curs are not regarded when they grin;
19   But great men tremble when the lion roars;
20   And Humphrey is no little man in England.
21   First note that he is near you in descent,
22   And should you fall, he as the next will mount.
23   Me seemeth then it is no policy,
24   Respecting what a rancorous mind he bears
25   And his advantage following your decease,
26   That he should come about your royal person
27   Or be admitted to your highness' council.
28   By flattery hath he won the commons' hearts,
29   And when he please to make commotion,
30   'Tis to be fear'd they all will follow him.
31   Now 'tis the spring, and weeds are shallow-rooted;
32   Suffer them now, and they'll o'ergrow the garden
33   And choke the herbs for want of husbandry.
34   The reverent care I bear unto my lord
35   Made me collect these dangers in the duke.
36   If it be fond, call it a woman's fear;
37   Which fear if better reasons can supplant,
38   I will subscribe and say I wrong'd the duke.
39   My Lord of Suffolk, Buckingham, and York,
40   Reprove my allegation, if you can;
41   Or else conclude my words effectual.
SUFFOLK
42   Well hath your highness seen into this duke;
43   And, had I first been put to speak my mind,
44   I think I should have told your grace's tale.
45   The duchess, by his subornation,
46   Upon my life, began her devilish practises:
47   Or, if he were not privy to those faults,
48   Yet, by reputing of his high descent,
49   As next the king he was successive heir,
50   And such high vaunts of his nobility,
51   Did instigate the bedlam brain-sick duchess
52   By wicked means to frame our sovereign's fall.
53   Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep;
54   And in his simple show he harbours treason.
55   The fox barks not when he would steal the lamb.
56   No, no, my sovereign; Gloucester is a man
57   Unsounded yet and full of deep deceit.
CARDINAL
58   Did he not, contrary to form of law,
59   Devise strange deaths for small offences done?
YORK
60   And did he not, in his protectorship,
61   Levy great sums of money through the realm
62   For soldiers' pay in France, and never sent it?
63   By means whereof the towns each day revolted.
BUCKINGHAM
64   Tut, these are petty faults to faults unknown.
65   Which time will bring to light in smooth
66   Duke Humphrey.
KING HENRY VI
67   My lords, at once: the care you have of us,
68   To mow down thorns that would annoy our foot,
69   Is worthy praise: but, shall I speak my conscience,
70   Our kinsman Gloucester is as innocent
71   From meaning treason to our royal person
72   As is the sucking lamb or harmless dove:
73   The duke is virtuous, mild and too well given
74   To dream on evil or to work my downfall.
QUEEN MARGARET
75   Ah, what's more dangerous than this fond affiance!
76   Seems he a dove? his feathers are but borrowed,
77   For he's disposed as the hateful raven:
78   Is he a lamb? his skin is surely lent him,
79   For he's inclined as is the ravenous wolf.
80   Who cannot steal a shape that means deceit?
81   Take heed, my lord; the welfare of us all
82   Hangs on the cutting short that fraudful man.
Enter SOMERSET

SOMERSET
83   All health unto my gracious sovereign!
KING HENRY VI
84   Welcome, Lord Somerset. What news from France?
SOMERSET
85   That all your interest in those territories
86   Is utterly bereft you; all is lost.
KING HENRY VI
87   Cold news, Lord Somerset: but God's will be done!
YORK
Aside
88    Cold news for me; for I had hope of France
89   As firmly as I hope for fertile England.
90   Thus are my blossoms blasted in the bud
91   And caterpillars eat my leaves away;
92   But I will remedy this gear ere long,
93   Or sell my title for a glorious grave.
Enter GLOUCESTER

GLOUCESTER
94   All happiness unto my lord the king!
95   Pardon, my liege, that I have stay'd so long.
SUFFOLK
96   Nay, Gloucester, know that thou art come too soon,
97   Unless thou wert more loyal than thou art:
98   I do arrest thee of high treason here.
GLOUCESTER
99   Well, Suffolk, thou shalt not see me blush
100  Nor change my countenance for this arrest:
101  A heart unspotted is not easily daunted.
102  The purest spring is not so free from mud
103  As I am clear from treason to my sovereign:
104  Who can accuse me? wherein am I guilty?
YORK
105  'Tis thought, my lord, that you took bribes of France,
106  And, being protector, stayed the soldiers' pay;
107  By means whereof his highness hath lost France.
GLOUCESTER
108  Is it but thought so? what are they that think it?
109  I never robb'd the soldiers of their pay,
110  Nor ever had one penny bribe from France.
111  So help me God, as I have watch'd the night,
112  Ay, night by night, in studying good for England,
113  That doit that e'er I wrested from the king,
114  Or any groat I hoarded to my use,
115  Be brought against me at my trial-day!
116  No; many a pound of mine own proper store,
117  Because I would not tax the needy commons,
118  Have I disbursed to the garrisons,
119  And never ask'd for restitution.
CARDINAL
120  It serves you well, my lord, to say so much.
GLOUCESTER
121  I say no more than truth, so help me God!
YORK
122  In your protectorship you did devise
123  Strange tortures for offenders never heard of,
124  That England was defamed by tyranny.
GLOUCESTER
125  Why, 'tis well known that, whiles I was
126  protector,
127  Pity was all the fault that was in me;
128  For I should melt at an offender's tears,
129  And lowly words were ransom for their fault.
130  Unless it were a bloody murderer,
131  Or foul felonious thief that fleeced poor passengers,
132  I never gave them condign punishment:
133  Murder indeed, that bloody sin, I tortured
134  Above the felon or what trespass else.
SUFFOLK
135  My lord, these faults are easy, quickly answered:
136  But mightier crimes are laid unto your charge,
137  Whereof you cannot easily purge yourself.
138  I do arrest you in his highness' name;
139  And here commit you to my lord cardinal
140  To keep, until your further time of trial.
KING HENRY VI
141  My lord of Gloucester, 'tis my special hope
142  That you will clear yourself from all suspect:
143  My conscience tells me you are innocent.
GLOUCESTER
144  Ah, gracious lord, these days are dangerous:
145  Virtue is choked with foul ambition
146  And charity chased hence by rancour's hand;
147  Foul subornation is predominant
148  And equity exiled your highness' land.
149  I know their complot is to have my life,
150  And if my death might make this island happy,
151  And prove the period of their tyranny,
152  I would expend it with all willingness:
153  But mine is made the prologue to their play;
154  For thousands more, that yet suspect no peril,
155  Will not conclude their plotted tragedy.
156  Beaufort's red sparkling eyes blab his heart's malice,
157  And Suffolk's cloudy brow his stormy hate;
158  Sharp Buckingham unburthens with his tongue
159  The envious load that lies upon his heart;
160  And dogged York, that reaches at the moon,
161  Whose overweening arm I have pluck'd back,
162  By false accuse doth level at my life:
163  And you, my sovereign lady, with the rest,
164  Causeless have laid disgraces on my head,
165  And with your best endeavour have stirr'd up
166  My liefest liege to be mine enemy:
167  Ay, all you have laid your heads together--
168  Myself had notice of your conventicles--
169  And all to make away my guiltless life.
170  I shall not want false witness to condemn me,
171  Nor store of treasons to augment my guilt;
172  The ancient proverb will be well effected:
173  'A staff is quickly found to beat a dog.'
CARDINAL
174  My liege, his railing is intolerable:
175  If those that care to keep your royal person
176  From treason's secret knife and traitors' rage
177  Be thus upbraided, chid and rated at,
178  And the offender granted scope of speech,
179  'Twill make them cool in zeal unto your grace.
SUFFOLK
180  Hath he not twit our sovereign lady here
181  With ignominious words, though clerkly couch'd,
182  As if she had suborned some to swear
183  False allegations to o'erthrow his state?
QUEEN MARGARET
184  But I can give the loser leave to chide.
GLOUCESTER
185  Far truer spoke than meant: I lose, indeed;
186  Beshrew the winners, for they play'd me false!
187  And well such losers may have leave to speak.
BUCKINGHAM
188  He'll wrest the sense and hold us here all day:
189  Lord cardinal, he is your prisoner.
CARDINAL
190  Sirs, take away the duke, and guard him sure.
GLOUCESTER
191  Ah! thus King Henry throws away his crutch
192  Before his legs be firm to bear his body.
193  Thus is the shepherd beaten from thy side,
194  And wolves are gnarling who shall gnaw thee first.
195  Ah, that my fear were false! ah, that it were!
196  For, good King Henry, thy decay I fear.
Exit, guarded

KING HENRY VI
197  My lords, what to your wisdoms seemeth best,
198  Do or undo, as if ourself were here.
QUEEN MARGARET
199  What, will your highness leave the parliament?
KING HENRY VI
200  Ay, Margaret; my heart is drown'd with grief,
201  Whose flood begins to flow within mine eyes,
202  My body round engirt with misery,
203  For what's more miserable than discontent?
204  Ah, uncle Humphrey! in thy face I see
205  The map of honour, truth and loyalty:
206  And yet, good Humphrey, is the hour to come
207  That e'er I proved thee false or fear'd thy faith.
208  What louring star now envies thy estate,
209  That these great lords and Margaret our queen
210  Do seek subversion of thy harmless life?
211  Thou never didst them wrong, nor no man wrong;
212  And as the butcher takes away the calf
213  And binds the wretch, and beats it when it strays,
214  Bearing it to the bloody slaughter-house,
215  Even so remorseless have they borne him hence;
216  And as the dam runs lowing up and down,
217  Looking the way her harmless young one went,
218  And can do nought but wail her darling's loss,
219  Even so myself bewails good Gloucester's case
220  With sad unhelpful tears, and with dimm'd eyes
221  Look after him and cannot do him good,
222  So mighty are his vowed enemies.
223  His fortunes I will weep; and, 'twixt each groan
224  Say 'Who's a traitor? Gloucester he is none.'
QUEEN MARGARET
225  Free lords, cold snow melts with the sun's hot beams.
226  Henry my lord is cold in great affairs,
227  Too full of foolish pity, and Gloucester's show
228  Beguiles him as the mournful crocodile
229  With sorrow snares relenting passengers,
230  Or as the snake roll'd in a flowering bank,
231  With shining chequer'd slough, doth sting a child
232  That for the beauty thinks it excellent.
233  Believe me, lords, were none more wise than I--
234  And yet herein I judge mine own wit good--
235  This Gloucester should be quickly rid the world,
236  To rid us of the fear we have of him.
CARDINAL
237  That he should die is worthy policy;
238  But yet we want a colour for his death:
239  'Tis meet he be condemn'd by course of law.
SUFFOLK
240  But, in my mind, that were no policy:
241  The king will labour still to save his life,
242  The commons haply rise, to save his life;
243  And yet we have but trivial argument,
244  More than mistrust, that shows him worthy death.
YORK
245  So that, by this, you would not have him die.
SUFFOLK
246  Ah, York, no man alive so fain as I!
YORK
247  'Tis York that hath more reason for his death.
248  But, my lord cardinal, and you, my Lord of Suffolk,
249  Say as you think, and speak it from your souls,
250  Were't not all one, an empty eagle were set
251  To guard the chicken from a hungry kite,
252  As place Duke Humphrey for the king's protector?
QUEEN MARGARET
253  So the poor chicken should be sure of death.
SUFFOLK
254  Madam, 'tis true; and were't not madness, then,
255  To make the fox surveyor of the fold?
256  Who being accused a crafty murderer,
257  His guilt should be but idly posted over,
258  Because his purpose is not executed.
259  No; let him die, in that he is a fox,
260  By nature proved an enemy to the flock,
261  Before his chaps be stain'd with crimson blood,
262  As Humphrey, proved by reasons, to my liege.
263  And do not stand on quillets how to slay him:
264  Be it by gins, by snares, by subtlety,
265  Sleeping or waking, 'tis no matter how,
266  So he be dead; for that is good deceit
267  Which mates him first that first intends deceit.
QUEEN MARGARET
268  Thrice-noble Suffolk, 'tis resolutely spoke.
SUFFOLK
269  Not resolute, except so much were done;
270  For things are often spoke and seldom meant:
271  But that my heart accordeth with my tongue,
272  Seeing the deed is meritorious,
273  And to preserve my sovereign from his foe,
274  Say but the word, and I will be his priest.
CARDINAL
275  But I would have him dead, my Lord of Suffolk,
276  Ere you can take due orders for a priest:
277  Say you consent and censure well the deed,
278  And I'll provide his executioner,
279  I tender so the safety of my liege.
SUFFOLK
280  Here is my hand, the deed is worthy doing.
QUEEN MARGARET
281  And so say I.
YORK
282  And I and now we three have spoke it,
283  It skills not greatly who impugns our doom.
Enter a Post

Post
284  Great lords, from Ireland am I come amain,
285  To signify that rebels there are up
286  And put the Englishmen unto the sword:
287  Send succors, lords, and stop the rage betime,
288  Before the wound do grow uncurable;
289  For, being green, there is great hope of help.
CARDINAL
290  A breach that craves a quick expedient stop!
291  What counsel give you in this weighty cause?
YORK
292  That Somerset be sent as regent thither:
293  'Tis meet that lucky ruler be employ'd;
294  Witness the fortune he hath had in France.
SOMERSET
295  If York, with all his far-fet policy,
296  Had been the regent there instead of me,
297  He never would have stay'd in France so long.
YORK
298  No, not to lose it all, as thou hast done:
299  I rather would have lost my life betimes
300  Than bring a burthen of dishonour home
301  By staying there so long till all were lost.
302  Show me one scar character'd on thy skin:
303  Men's flesh preserved so whole do seldom win.
QUEEN MARGARET
304  Nay, then, this spark will prove a raging fire,
305  If wind and fuel be brought to feed it with:
306  No more, good York; sweet Somerset, be still:
307  Thy fortune, York, hadst thou been regent there,
308  Might happily have proved far worse than his.
YORK
309  What, worse than nought? nay, then, a shame take all!
SOMERSET
310  And, in the number, thee that wishest shame!
CARDINAL
311  My Lord of York, try what your fortune is.
312  The uncivil kerns of Ireland are in arms
313  And temper clay with blood of Englishmen:
314  To Ireland will you lead a band of men,
315  Collected choicely, from each county some,
316  And try your hap against the Irishmen?
YORK
317  I will, my lord, so please his majesty.
SUFFOLK
318  Why, our authority is his consent,
319  And what we do establish he confirms:
320  Then, noble York, take thou this task in hand.
YORK
321  I am content: provide me soldiers, lords,
322  Whiles I take order for mine own affairs.
SUFFOLK
323  A charge, Lord York, that I will see perform'd.
324  But now return we to the false Duke Humphrey.
CARDINAL
325  No more of him; for I will deal with him
326  That henceforth he shall trouble us no more.
327  And so break off; the day is almost spent:
328  Lord Suffolk, you and I must talk of that event.
YORK
329  My Lord of Suffolk, within fourteen days
330  At Bristol I expect my soldiers;
331  For there I'll ship them all for Ireland.
SUFFOLK
332  I'll see it truly done, my Lord of York.
Exeunt all but YORK

YORK
333  Now, York, or never, steel thy fearful thoughts,
334  And change misdoubt to resolution:
335  Be that thou hopest to be, or what thou art
336  Resign to death; it is not worth the enjoying:
337  Let pale-faced fear keep with the mean-born man,
338  And find no harbour in a royal heart.
339  Faster than spring-time showers comes thought
340  on thought,
341  And not a thought but thinks on dignity.
342  My brain more busy than the labouring spider
343  Weaves tedious snares to trap mine enemies.
344  Well, nobles, well, 'tis politicly done,
345  To send me packing with an host of men:
346  I fear me you but warm the starved snake,
347  Who, cherish'd in your breasts, will sting
348  your hearts.
349  'Twas men I lack'd and you will give them me:
350  I take it kindly; and yet be well assured
351  You put sharp weapons in a madman's hands.
352  Whiles I in Ireland nourish a mighty band,
353  I will stir up in England some black storm
354  Shall blow ten thousand souls to heaven or hell;
355  And this fell tempest shall not cease to rage
356  Until the golden circuit on my head,
357  Like to the glorious sun's transparent beams,
358  Do calm the fury of this mad-bred flaw.
359  And, for a minister of my intent,
360  I have seduced a headstrong Kentishman,
361  John Cade of Ashford,
362  To make commotion, as full well he can,
363  Under the title of John Mortimer.
364  In Ireland have I seen this stubborn Cade
365  Oppose himself against a troop of kerns,
366  And fought so long, till that his thighs with darts
367  Were almost like a sharp-quill'd porpentine;
368  And, in the end being rescued, I have seen
369  Him caper upright like a wild Morisco,
370  Shaking the bloody darts as he his bells.
371  Full often, like a shag-hair'd crafty kern,
372  Hath he conversed with the enemy,
373  And undiscover'd come to me again
374  And given me notice of their villanies.
375  This devil here shall be my substitute;
376  For that John Mortimer, which now is dead,
377  In face, in gait, in speech, he doth resemble:
378  By this I shall perceive the commons' mind,
379  How they affect the house and claim of York.
380  Say he be taken, rack'd and tortured,
381  I know no pain they can inflict upon him
382  Will make him say I moved him to those arms.
383  Say that he thrive, as 'tis great like he will,
384  Why, then from Ireland come I with my strength
385  And reap the harvest which that rascal sow'd;
386  For Humphrey being dead, as he shall be,
387  And Henry put apart, the next for me.
Exit

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


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


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


  • ACT IV
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V
  • SCENE VI
  • SCENE VII
  • SCENE VIII
  • SCENE IX
  • SCENE X


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

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