Sound a sennet. Enter King Henry VI, Queen Margaret, Cardinal, Suffolk, York, Buckingham, Salisbury and Warwick to the Parliament
King Henry VI I muse my Lord of Gloucester is not come:
’Tis not his wont to be the hindmost man,
Whate’er occasion keeps him from us now.
Queen Margaret Can you not see? or will ye not observe
The strangeness of his alter’d countenance?
With what a majesty he bears himself,
How insolent of late he is become,
How proud, how peremptory, and unlike himself?
We know the time since he was mild and affable,
And if we did but glance a far-off look,
Immediately he was upon his knee,
That all the court admired him for submission:
But meet him now, and, be it in the morn,
When every one will give the time of day,
He knits his brow and shows an angry eye,
And passeth by with stiff unbowed knee,
Disdaining duty that to us belongs.
Small curs are not regarded when they grin;
But great men tremble when the lion roars;
And Humphrey is no little man in England.
First note that he is near you in descent,
And should you fall, he as the next will mount.
Me seemeth then it is no policy,
Respecting what a rancorous mind he bears
And his advantage following your decease,
That he should come about your royal person
Or be admitted to your highness’ council.
By flattery hath he won the commons’ hearts,
And when he please to make commotion,
’Tis to be fear’d they all will follow him.
Now ’tis the spring, and weeds are shallow-rooted;
Suffer them now, and they’ll o’ergrow the garden
And choke the herbs for want of husbandry.
The reverent care I bear unto my lord
Made me collect these dangers in the duke.
If it be fond, call it a woman’s fear;
Which fear if better reasons can supplant,
I will subscribe and say I wrong’d the duke.
My Lord of Suffolk, Buckingham, and York,
Reprove my allegation, if you can;
Or else conclude my words effectual.
Suffolk Well hath your highness seen into this duke;
And, had I first been put to speak my mind,
I think I should have told your grace’s tale.
The duchess, by his subornation,
Upon my life, began her devilish practises:
Or, if he were not privy to those faults,
Yet, by reputing of his high descent,
As next the king he was successive heir,
And such high vaunts of his nobility,
Did instigate the bedlam brain-sick duchess
By wicked means to frame our sovereign’s fall.
Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep;
And in his simple show he harbours treason.
The fox barks not when he would steal the lamb.
No, no, my sovereign; Gloucester is a man
Unsounded yet and full of deep deceit.
Cardinal Did he not, contrary to form of law,
Devise strange deaths for small offences done?
York And did he not, in his protectorship,
Levy great sums of money through the realm
For soldiers’ pay in France, and never sent it?
By means whereof the towns each day revolted.
Buckingham Tut, these are petty faults to faults unknown.
Which time will bring to light in smooth
King Henry VI My lords, at once: the care you have of us,
To mow down thorns that would annoy our foot,
Is worthy praise: but, shall I speak my conscience,
Our kinsman Gloucester is as innocent
From meaning treason to our royal person
As is the sucking lamb or harmless dove:
The duke is virtuous, mild and too well given
To dream on evil or to work my downfall.
Queen Margaret Ah, what’s more dangerous than this fond affiance!
Seems he a dove? his feathers are but borrowed,
For he’s disposed as the hateful raven:
Is he a lamb? his skin is surely lent him,
For he’s inclined as is the ravenous wolf.
Who cannot steal a shape that means deceit?
Take heed, my lord; the welfare of us all
Hangs on the cutting short that fraudful man.
Somerset All health unto my gracious sovereign!
King Henry VI Welcome, Lord Somerset. What news from France?
Somerset That all your interest in those territories
Is utterly bereft you; all is lost.
King Henry VI Cold news, Lord Somerset: but God’s will be done!
York [Aside] Cold news for me; for I had hope of
As firmly as I hope for fertile England.
Thus are my blossoms blasted in the bud
And caterpillars eat my leaves away;
But I will remedy this gear ere long,
Or sell my title for a glorious grave.
Gloucester All happiness unto my lord the king!
Pardon, my liege, that I have stay’d so long.
Suffolk Nay, Gloucester, know that thou art come too soon,
Unless thou wert more loyal than thou art:
I do arrest thee of high treason here.
Gloucester Well, Suffolk, thou shalt not see me blush
Nor change my countenance for this arrest:
A heart unspotted is not easily daunted.
The purest spring is not so free from mud
As I am clear from treason to my sovereign:
Who can accuse me? wherein am I guilty?
York ’Tis thought, my lord, that you took bribes of France,
And, being protector, stayed the soldiers’ pay;
By means whereof his highness hath lost France.
Gloucester Is it but thought so? what are they that think it?
I never robb’d the soldiers of their pay,
Nor ever had one penny bribe from France.
So help me God, as I have watch’d the night,
Ay, night by night, in studying good for England,
That doit that e’er I wrested from the king,
Or any groat I hoarded to my use,
Be brought against me at my trial-day!
No; many a pound of mine own proper store,
Because I would not tax the needy commons,
Have I disbursed to the garrisons,
And never ask’d for restitution.
Cardinal It serves you well, my lord, to say so much.
Gloucester I say no more than truth, so help me God!
York In your protectorship you did devise
Strange tortures for offenders never heard of,
That England was defamed by tyranny.
Gloucester Why, ’tis well known that, whiles I was protector,
Pity was all the fault that was in me;
For I should melt at an offender’s tears,
And lowly words were ransom for their fault.
Unless it were a bloody murderer,
Or foul felonious thief that fleeced poor passengers,
I never gave them condign punishment:
Murder indeed, that bloody sin, I tortured
Above the felon or what trespass else.
Suffolk My lord, these faults are easy, quickly answered:
But mightier crimes are laid unto your charge,
Whereof you cannot easily purge yourself.
I do arrest you in his highness’ name;
And here commit you to my lord cardinal
To keep, until your further time of trial.
King Henry VI My lord of Gloucester, ’tis my special hope
That you will clear yourself from all suspect:
My conscience tells me you are innocent.
Gloucester Ah, gracious lord, these days are dangerous:
Virtue is choked with foul ambition
And charity chased hence by rancour’s hand;
Foul subornation is predominant
And equity exiled your highness’ land.
I know their complot is to have my life,
And if my death might make this island happy,
And prove the period of their tyranny,
I would expend it with all willingness:
But mine is made the prologue to their play;
For thousands more, that yet suspect no peril,
Will not conclude their plotted tragedy.
Beaufort’s red sparkling eyes blab his heart’s malice,
And Suffolk’s cloudy brow his stormy hate;
Sharp Buckingham unburthens with his tongue
The envious load that lies upon his heart;
And dogged York, that reaches at the moon,
Whose overweening arm I have pluck’d back,
By false accuse doth level at my life:
And you, my sovereign lady, with the rest,
Causeless have laid disgraces on my head,
And with your best endeavour have stirr’d up
My liefest liege to be mine enemy:
Ay, all you have laid your heads together —
Myself had notice of your conventicles —
And all to make away my guiltless life.
I shall not want false witness to condemn me,
Nor store of treasons to augment my guilt;
The ancient proverb will be well effected:
‘A staff is quickly found to beat a dog.’
Cardinal My liege, his railing is intolerable:
If those that care to keep your royal person
From treason’s secret knife and traitors’ rage
Be thus upbraided, chid and rated at,
And the offender granted scope of speech,
’Twill make them cool in zeal unto your grace.
Suffolk Hath he not twit our sovereign lady here
With ignominious words, though clerkly couch’d,
As if she had suborned some to swear
False allegations to o’erthrow his state?
Queen Margaret But I can give the loser leave to chide.
Gloucester Far truer spoke than meant: I lose, indeed;
Beshrew the winners, for they play’d me false!
And well such losers may have leave to speak.
Buckingham He’ll wrest the sense and hold us here all day:
Lord cardinal, he is your prisoner.
Cardinal Sirs, take away the duke, and guard him sure.
Gloucester Ah! thus King Henry throws away his crutch
Before his legs be firm to bear his body.
Thus is the shepherd beaten from thy side,
And wolves are gnarling who shall gnaw thee first.
Ah, that my fear were false! ah, that it were!
For, good King Henry, thy decay I fear.
King Henry VI My lords, what to your wisdoms seemeth best,
Do or undo, as if ourself were here.
Queen Margaret What, will your highness leave the parliament?
King Henry VI Ay, Margaret; my heart is drown’d with grief,
Whose flood begins to flow within mine eyes,
My body round engirt with misery,
For what’s more miserable than discontent?
Ah, uncle Humphrey! in thy face I see
The map of honour, truth and loyalty:
And yet, good Humphrey, is the hour to come
That e’er I proved thee false or fear’d thy faith.
What louring star now envies thy estate,
That these great lords and Margaret our queen
Do seek subversion of thy harmless life?
Thou never didst them wrong, nor no man wrong;
And as the butcher takes away the calf
And binds the wretch, and beats it when it strays,
Bearing it to the bloody slaughter-house,
Even so remorseless have they borne him hence;
And as the dam runs lowing up and down,
Looking the way her harmless young one went,
And can do nought but wail her darling’s loss,
Even so myself bewails good Gloucester’s case
With sad unhelpful tears, and with dimm’d eyes
Look after him and cannot do him good,
So mighty are his vowed enemies.
His fortunes I will weep; and, ’twixt each groan
Say ‘Who’s a traitor? Gloucester he is none.’
Exeunt all but Queen Margaret, Cardinal, Suffolk, and York; Somerset remains apart
Queen Margaret Free lords, cold snow melts with the sun’s hot beams.
Henry my lord is cold in great affairs,
Too full of foolish pity, and Gloucester’s show
Beguiles him as the mournful crocodile
With sorrow snares relenting passengers,
Or as the snake roll’d in a flowering bank,
With shining chequer’d slough, doth sting a child
That for the beauty thinks it excellent.
Believe me, lords, were none more wise than I—
And yet herein I judge mine own wit good —
This Gloucester should be quickly rid the world,
To rid us of the fear we have of him.
Cardinal That he should die is worthy policy;
But yet we want a colour for his death:
’Tis meet he be condemn’d by course of law.
Suffolk But, in my mind, that were no policy:
The king will labour still to save his life,
The commons haply rise, to save his life;
And yet we have but trivial argument,
More than mistrust, that shows him worthy death.
York So that, by this, you would not have him die.
Suffolk Ah, York, no man alive so fain as I!
York ’Tis York that hath more reason for his death.
But, my lord cardinal, and you, my Lord of Suffolk,
Say as you think, and speak it from your souls,
Were’t not all one, an empty eagle were set
To guard the chicken from a hungry kite,
As place Duke Humphrey for the king’s protector?
Queen Margaret So the poor chicken should be sure of death.
Suffolk Madam, ’tis true; and were’t not madness, then,
To make the fox surveyor of the fold?
Who being accused a crafty murderer,
His guilt should be but idly posted over,
Because his purpose is not executed.
No; let him die, in that he is a fox,
By nature proved an enemy to the flock,
Before his chaps be stain’d with crimson blood,
As Humphrey, proved by reasons, to my liege.
And do not stand on quillets how to slay him:
Be it by gins, by snares, by subtlety,
Sleeping or waking, ’tis no matter how,
So he be dead; for that is good deceit
Which mates him first that first intends deceit.
Queen Margaret Thrice-noble Suffolk, ’tis resolutely spoke.
Suffolk Not resolute, except so much were done;
For things are often spoke and seldom meant:
But that my heart accordeth with my tongue,
Seeing the deed is meritorious,
And to preserve my sovereign from his foe,
Say but the word, and I will be his priest.
Cardinal But I would have him dead, my Lord of Suffolk,
Ere you can take due orders for a priest:
Say you consent and censure well the deed,
And I’ll provide his executioner,
I tender so the safety of my liege.
Suffolk Here is my hand, the deed is worthy doing.
Queen Margaret And so say I.
York And I and now we three have spoke it,
It skills not greatly who impugns our doom.
Enter a Post
Post Great lords, from Ireland am I come amain,
To signify that rebels there are up
And put the Englishmen unto the sword:
Send succors, lords, and stop the rage betime,
Before the wound do grow uncurable;
For, being green, there is great hope of help.
Cardinal A breach that craves a quick expedient stop!
What counsel give you in this weighty cause?
York That Somerset be sent as regent thither:
’Tis meet that lucky ruler be employ’d;
Witness the fortune he hath had in France.
Somerset If York, with all his far-fet policy,
Had been the regent there instead of me,
He never would have stay’d in France so long.
York No, not to lose it all, as thou hast done:
I rather would have lost my life betimes
Than bring a burthen of dishonour home
By staying there so long till all were lost.
Show me one scar character’d on thy skin:
Men’s flesh preserved so whole do seldom win.
Queen Margaret Nay, then, this spark will prove a raging fire,
If wind and fuel be brought to feed it with:
No more, good York; sweet Somerset, be still:
Thy fortune, York, hadst thou been regent there,
Might happily have proved far worse than his.
York What, worse than nought? nay, then, a shame take all!
Somerset And, in the number, thee that wishest shame!
Cardinal My Lord of York, try what your fortune is.
The uncivil kerns of Ireland are in arms
And temper clay with blood of Englishmen:
To Ireland will you lead a band of men,
Collected choicely, from each county some,
And try your hap against the Irishmen?
York I will, my lord, so please his majesty.
Suffolk Why, our authority is his consent,
And what we do establish he confirms:
Then, noble York, take thou this task in hand.
York I am content: provide me soldiers, lords,
Whiles I take order for mine own affairs.
Suffolk A charge, Lord York, that I will see perform’d.
But now return we to the false Duke Humphrey.
Cardinal No more of him; for I will deal with him
That henceforth he shall trouble us no more.
And so break off; the day is almost spent:
Lord Suffolk, you and I must talk of that event.
York My Lord of Suffolk, within fourteen days
At Bristol I expect my soldiers;
For there I’ll ship them all for Ireland.
Suffolk I’ll see it truly done, my Lord of York.
Exeunt all but York
York Now, York, or never, steel thy fearful thoughts,
And change misdoubt to resolution:
Be that thou hopest to be, or what thou art
Resign to death; it is not worth the enjoying:
Let pale-faced fear keep with the mean-born man,
And find no harbour in a royal heart.
Faster than spring-time showers comes thought on thought,
And not a thought but thinks on dignity.
My brain more busy than the labouring spider
Weaves tedious snares to trap mine enemies.
Well, nobles, well, ’tis politicly done,
To send me packing with an host of men:
I fear me you but warm the starved snake,
Who, cherish’d in your breasts, will sting your hearts.
’Twas men I lack’d and you will give them me:
I take it kindly; and yet be well assured
You put sharp weapons in a madman’s hands.
Whiles I in Ireland nourish a mighty band,
I will stir up in England some black storm
Shall blow ten thousand souls to heaven or hell;
And this fell tempest shall not cease to rage
Until the golden circuit on my head,
Like to the glorious sun’s transparent beams,
Do calm the fury of this mad-bred flaw.
And, for a minister of my intent,
I have seduced a headstrong Kentishman,
John Cade of Ashford,
To make commotion, as full well he can,
Under the title of John Mortimer.
In Ireland have I seen this stubborn Cade
Oppose himself against a troop of kerns,
And fought so long, till that his thighs with darts
Were almost like a sharp-quill’d porpentine;
And, in the end being rescued, I have seen
Him caper upright like a wild Morisco,
Shaking the bloody darts as he his bells.
Full often, like a shag-hair’d crafty kern,
Hath he conversed with the enemy,
And undiscover’d come to me again
And given me notice of their villanies.
This devil here shall be my substitute;
For that John Mortimer, which now is dead,
In face, in gait, in speech, he doth resemble:
By this I shall perceive the commons’ mind,
How they affect the house and claim of York.
Say he be taken, rack’d and tortured,
I know no pain they can inflict upon him
Will make him say I moved him to those arms.
Say that he thrive, as ’tis great like he will,
Why, then from Ireland come I with my strength
And reap the harvest which that rascal sow’d;
For Humphrey being dead, as he shall be,
And Henry put apart, the next for me.
Enter certain Murderers, hastily
First Murderer Run to my Lord of Suffolk; let him know
We have dispatch’d the duke, as he commanded.
Second Murderer O that it were to do! What have we done?
Didst ever hear a man so penitent?
First Murder Here comes my lord.
Suffolk Now, sirs, have you dispatch’d this thing?
First Murderer Ay, my good lord, he’s dead.
Suffolk Why, that’s well said. Go, get you to my house;
I will reward you for this venturous deed.
The king and all the peers are here at hand.
Have you laid fair the bed? Is all things well,
According as I gave directions?
First Murderer ’Tis, my good lord.
Suffolk Away! be gone.
Sound trumpets. Enter King Henry VI, Queen Margaret, Cardinal, Somerset, with Attendants
King Henry VI Go, call our uncle to our presence straight;
Say we intend to try his grace to-day.
If he be guilty, as ’tis published.
Suffolk I’ll call him presently, my noble lord.
King Henry VI Lords, take your places; and, I pray you all,
Proceed no straiter ’gainst our uncle Gloucester
Than from true evidence of good esteem
He be approved in practise culpable.
Queen Margaret God forbid any malice should prevail,
That faultless may condemn a nobleman!
Pray God he may acquit him of suspicion!
King Henry VI I thank thee, Meg; these words content me much.
How now! why look’st thou pale? why tremblest thou?
Where is our uncle? what’s the matter, Suffolk?
Suffolk Dead in his bed, my lord; Gloucester is dead.
Queen Margaret Marry, God forfend!
Cardinal God’s secret judgment: I did dream to-night
The duke was dumb and could not speak a word.
King Henry VI swoons
Queen Margaret How fares my lord? Help, lords! the king is dead.
Somerset Rear up his body; wring him by the nose.
Queen Margaret Run, go, help, help! O Henry, ope thine eyes!
Suffolk He doth revive again: madam, be patient.
King Henry VI O heavenly God!
Queen Margaret How fares my gracious lord?
Suffolk Comfort, my sovereign! gracious Henry, comfort!
King Henry VI What, doth my Lord of Suffolk comfort me?
Came he right now to sing a raven’s note,
Whose dismal tune bereft my vital powers;
And thinks he that the chirping of a wren,
By crying comfort from a hollow breast,
Can chase away the first-conceived sound?
Hide not thy poison with such sugar’d words;
Lay not thy hands on me; forbear, I say;
Their touch affrights me as a serpent’s sting.
Thou baleful messenger, out of my sight!
Upon thy eye-balls murderous tyranny
Sits in grim majesty, to fright the world.
Look not upon me, for thine eyes are wounding:
Yet do not go away: come, basilisk,
And kill the innocent gazer with thy sight;
For in the shade of death I shall find joy;
In life but double death, now Gloucester’s dead.
Queen Margaret Why do you rate my Lord of Suffolk thus?
Although the duke was enemy to him,
Yet he most Christian-like laments his death:
And for myself, foe as he was to me,
Might liquid tears or heart-offending groans
Or blood-consuming sighs recall his life,
I would be blind with weeping, sick with groans,
Look pale as primrose with blood-drinking sighs,
And all to have the noble duke alive.
What know I how the world may deem of me?
For it is known we were but hollow friends:
It may be judged I made the duke away;
So shall my name with slander’s tongue be wounded,
And princes’ courts be fill’d with my reproach.
This get I by his death: ay me, unhappy!
To be a queen, and crown’d with infamy!
King Henry VI Ah, woe is me for Gloucester, wretched man!
Queen Margaret Be woe for me, more wretched than he is.
What, dost thou turn away and hide thy face?
I am no loathsome leper; look on me.
What! art thou, like the adder, waxen deaf?
Be poisonous too and kill thy forlorn queen.
Is all thy comfort shut in Gloucester’s tomb?
Why, then, dame Margaret was ne’er thy joy.
Erect his statue and worship it,
And make my image but an alehouse sign.
Was I for this nigh wreck’d upon the sea
And twice by awkward wind from England’s bank
Drove back again unto my native clime?
What boded this, but well forewarning wind
Did seem to say ‘seek not a scorpion’s nest,
Nor set no footing on this unkind shore’?
What did I then, but cursed the gentle gusts
And he that loosed them forth their brazen caves:
And bid them blow towards England’s blessed shore,
Or turn our stern upon a dreadful rock
Yet Aeolus would not be a murderer,
But left that hateful office unto thee:
The pretty-vaulting sea refused to drown me,
Knowing that thou wouldst have me drown’d on shore,
With tears as salt as sea, through thy unkindness:
The splitting rocks cower’d in the sinking sands
And would not dash me with their ragged sides,
Because thy flinty heart, more hard than they,
Might in thy palace perish Margaret.
As far as I could ken thy chalky cliffs,
When from thy shore the tempest beat us back,
I stood upon the hatches in the storm,
And when the dusky sky began to rob
My earnest-gaping sight of thy land’s view,
I took a costly jewel from my neck,
A heart it was, bound in with diamonds,
And threw it towards thy land: the sea received it,
And so I wish’d thy body might my heart:
And even with this I lost fair England’s view
And bid mine eyes be packing with my heart
And call’d them blind and dusky spectacles,
For losing ken of Albion’s wished coast.
How often have I tempted Suffolk’s tongue,
The agent of thy foul inconstancy,
To sit and witch me, as Ascanius did
When he to madding Dido would unfold
His father’s acts commenced in burning Troy!
Am I not witch’d like her? or thou not false like him?
Ay me, I can no more! die, Margaret!
For Henry weeps that thou dost live so long.
Noise within. Enter Warwick, Salisbury, and many Commons
Warwick It is reported, mighty sovereign,
That good Duke Humphrey traitorously is murder’d
By Suffolk and the Cardinal Beaufort’s means.
The commons, like an angry hive of bees
That want their leader, scatter up and down
And care not who they sting in his revenge.
Myself have calm’d their spleenful mutiny,
Until they hear the order of his death.
King Henry VI That he is dead, good Warwick, ’tis too true;
But how he died God knows, not Henry:
Enter his chamber, view his breathless corpse,
And comment then upon his sudden death.
Warwick That shall I do, my liege. Stay, Salisbury,
With the rude multitude till I return.
King Henry VI O Thou that judgest all things, stay my thoughts,
My thoughts, that labour to persuade my soul
Some violent hands were laid on Humphrey’s life!
If my suspect be false, forgive me, God,
For judgment only doth belong to thee.
Fain would I go to chafe his paly lips
With twenty thousand kisses, and to drain
Upon his face an ocean of salt tears,
To tell my love unto his dumb deaf trunk,
And with my fingers feel his hand unfeeling:
But all in vain are these mean obsequies;
And to survey his dead and earthly image,
What were it but to make my sorrow greater?
Re-enter Warwick and others, bearing Gloucester’s body on a bed
Warwick Come hither, gracious sovereign, view this body.
King Henry VI That is to see how deep my grave is made;
For with his soul fled all my worldly solace,
For seeing him I see my life in death.
Warwick As surely as my soul intends to live
With that dread King that took our state upon him
To free us from his father’s wrathful curse,
I do believe that violent hands were laid
Upon the life of this thrice-famed duke.
Suffolk A dreadful oath, sworn with a solemn tongue!
What instance gives Lord Warwick for his vow?
Warwick See how the blood is settled in his face.
Oft have I seen a timely-parted ghost,
Of ashy semblance, meagre, pale and bloodless,
Being all descended to the labouring heart;
Who, in the conflict that it holds with death,
Attracts the same for aidance ’gainst the enemy;
Which with the heart there cools and ne’er returneth
To blush and beautify the cheek again.
But see, his face is black and full of blood,
His eye-balls further out than when he lived,
Staring full ghastly like a strangled man;
His hair uprear’d, his nostrils stretched with struggling;
His hands abroad display’d, as one that grasp’d
And tugg’d for life and was by strength subdued:
Look, on the sheets his hair you see, is sticking;
His well-proportion’d beard made rough and rugged,
Like to the summer’s corn by tempest lodged.
It cannot be but he was murder’d here;
The least of all these signs were probable.
Suffolk Why, Warwick, who should do the duke to death?
Myself and Beaufort had him in protection;
And we, I hope, sir, are no murderers.
Warwick But both of you were vow’d Duke Humphrey’s foes,
And you, forsooth, had the good duke to keep:
’Tis like you would not feast him like a friend;
And ’tis well seen he found an enemy.
Queen Margaret Then you, belike, suspect these noblemen
As guilty of Duke Humphrey’s timeless death.
Warwick Who finds the heifer dead and bleeding fresh
And sees fast by a butcher with an axe,
But will suspect ’twas he that made the slaughter?
Who finds the partridge in the puttock’s nest,
But may imagine how the bird was dead,
Although the kite soar with unbloodied beak?
Even so suspicious is this tragedy.
Queen Margaret Are you the butcher, Suffolk? Where’s your knife?
Is Beaufort term’d a kite? Where are his talons?
Suffolk I wear no knife to slaughter sleeping men;
But here’s a vengeful sword, rusted with ease,
That shall be scoured in his rancorous heart
That slanders me with murder’s crimson badge.
Say, if thou darest, proud Lord of Warwick-shire,
That I am faulty in Duke Humphrey’s death.
Exeunt Cardinal, Somerset, and others
Warwick What dares not Warwick, if false Suffolk dare him?
Queen Margaret He dares not calm his contumelious spirit
Nor cease to be an arrogant controller,
Though Suffolk dare him twenty thousand times.
Warwick Madam, be still; with reverence may I say;
For every word you speak in his behalf
Is slander to your royal dignity.
Suffolk Blunt-witted lord, ignoble in demeanor!
If ever lady wrong’d her lord so much,
Thy mother took into her blameful bed
Some stern untutor’d churl, and noble stock
Was graft with crab-tree slip; whose fruit thou art,
And never of the Nevils’ noble race.
Warwick But that the guilt of murder bucklers thee
And I should rob the deathsman of his fee,
Quitting thee thereby of ten thousand shames,
And that my sovereign’s presence makes me mild,
I would, false murderous coward, on thy knee
Make thee beg pardon for thy passed speech,
And say it was thy mother that thou meant’st
That thou thyself was born in bastardy;
And after all this fearful homage done,
Give thee thy hire and send thy soul to hell,
Pernicious blood-sucker of sleeping men!
Suffolk Thou shall be waking well I shed thy blood,
If from this presence thou darest go with me.
Warwick Away even now, or I will drag thee hence:
Unworthy though thou art, I’ll cope with thee
And do some service to Duke Humphrey’s ghost.
Exeunt Suffolk and Warwick
King Henry VI What stronger breastplate than a heart untainted!
Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just,
And he but naked, though lock’d up in steel
Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted.
A noise within
Queen Margaret What noise is this?
Re-enter Suffolk and Warwick, with their weapons drawn
King Henry VI Why, how now, lords! your wrathful weapons drawn
Here in our presence! dare you be so bold?
Why, what tumultuous clamour have we here?
Suffolk The traitorous Warwick with the men of Bury
Set all upon me, mighty sovereign.
Salisbury [To the Commons, entering] Sirs, stand apart; the
king shall know your mind.
Dread lord, the commons send you word by me,
Unless Lord Suffolk straight be done to death,
Or banished fair England’s territories,
They will by violence tear him from your palace
And torture him with grievous lingering death.
They say, by him the good Duke Humphrey died;
They say, in him they fear your highness’ death;
And mere instinct of love and loyalty,
Free from a stubborn opposite intent,
As being thought to contradict your liking,
Makes them thus forward in his banishment.
They say, in care of your most royal person,
That if your highness should intend to sleep
And charge that no man should disturb your rest
In pain of your dislike or pain of death,
Yet, notwithstanding such a strait edict,
Were there a serpent seen, with forked tongue,
That slily glided towards your majesty,
It were but necessary you were waked,
Lest, being suffer’d in that harmful slumber,
The mortal worm might make the sleep eternal;
And therefore do they cry, though you forbid,
That they will guard you, whether you will or no,
From such fell serpents as false Suffolk is,
With whose envenomed and fatal sting,
Your loving uncle, twenty times his worth,
They say, is shamefully bereft of life.
Commons [Within] An answer from the king, my
Lord of Salisbury!
Suffolk ’Tis like the commons, rude unpolish’d hinds,
Could send such message to their sovereign:
But you, my lord, were glad to be employ’d,
To show how quaint an orator you are:
But all the honour Salisbury hath won
Is, that he was the lord ambassador
Sent from a sort of tinkers to the king.
Commons [Within] An answer from the king, or we will all break in!
King Henry VI Go, Salisbury, and tell them all from me.
I thank them for their tender loving care;
And had I not been cited so by them,
Yet did I purpose as they do entreat;
For, sure, my thoughts do hourly prophesy
Mischance unto my state by Suffolk’s means:
And therefore, by His majesty I swear,
Whose far unworthy deputy I am,
He shall not breathe infection in this air
But three days longer, on the pain of death.
Queen Margaret O Henry, let me plead for gentle Suffolk!
King Henry VI Ungentle queen, to call him gentle Suffolk!
No more, I say: if thou dost plead for him,
Thou wilt but add increase unto my wrath.
Had I but said, I would have kept my word,
But when I swear, it is irrevocable.
If, after three days’ space, thou here be’st found
On any ground that I am ruler of,
The world shall not be ransom for thy life.
Come, Warwick, come, good Warwick, go with me;
I have great matters to impart to thee.
Exeunt all but Queen Margaret and Suffolk
Queen Margaret Mischance and sorrow go along with you!
Heart’s discontent and sour affliction
Be playfellows to keep you company!
There’s two of you; the devil make a third!
And threefold vengeance tend upon your steps!
Suffolk Cease, gentle queen, these execrations,
And let thy Suffolk take his heavy leave.
Queen Margaret Fie, coward woman and soft-hearted wretch!
Hast thou not spirit to curse thine enemy?
Suffolk A plague upon them! wherefore should I curse them?
Would curses kill, as doth the mandrake’s groan,
I would invent as bitter-searching terms,
As curst, as harsh and horrible to hear,
Deliver’d strongly through my fixed teeth,
With full as many signs of deadly hate,
As lean-faced Envy in her loathsome cave:
My tongue should stumble in mine earnest words;
Mine eyes should sparkle like the beaten flint;
Mine hair be fixed on end, as one distract;
Ay, every joint should seem to curse and ban:
And even now my burthen’d heart would break,
Should I not curse them. Poison be their drink!
Gall, worse than gall, the daintiest that they taste!
Their sweetest shade a grove of cypress trees!
Their chiefest prospect murdering basilisks!
Their softest touch as smart as lizards’ sting!
Their music frightful as the serpent’s hiss,
And boding screech-owls make the concert full!
All the foul terrors in dark-seated hell —
Queen Margaret Enough, sweet Suffolk; thou torment’st thyself;
And these dread curses, like the sun ’gainst glass,
Or like an overcharged gun, recoil,
And turn the force of them upon thyself.
Suffolk You bade me ban, and will you bid me leave?
Now, by the ground that I am banish’d from,
Well could I curse away a winter’s night,
Though standing naked on a mountain top,
Where biting cold would never let grass grow,
And think it but a minute spent in sport.
Queen Margaret O, let me entreat thee cease. Give me thy hand,
That I may dew it with my mournful tears;
Nor let the rain of heaven wet this place,
To wash away my woful monuments.
O, could this kiss be printed in thy hand,
That thou mightst think upon these by the seal,
Through whom a thousand sighs are breathed for thee!
So, get thee gone, that I may know my grief;
’Tis but surmised whiles thou art standing by,
As one that surfeits thinking on a want.
I will repeal thee, or, be well assured,
Adventure to be banished myself:
And banished I am, if but from thee.
Go; speak not to me; even now be gone.
O, go not yet! Even thus two friends condemn’d
Embrace and kiss and take ten thousand leaves,
Loather a hundred times to part than die.
Yet now farewell; and farewell life with thee!
Suffolk Thus is poor Suffolk ten times banished;
Once by the king, and three times thrice by thee.
’Tis not the land I care for, wert thou thence;
A wilderness is populous enough,
So Suffolk had thy heavenly company:
For where thou art, there is the world itself,
With every several pleasure in the world,
And where thou art not, desolation.
I can no more: live thou to joy thy life;
Myself no joy in nought but that thou livest.
Queen Margaret Wither goes Vaux so fast? what news, I prithee?
Vaux To signify unto his majesty
That Cardinal Beaufort is at point of death;
For suddenly a grievous sickness took him,
That makes him gasp and stare and catch the air,
Blaspheming God and cursing men on earth.
Sometimes he talks as if Duke Humphrey’s ghost
Were by his side; sometime he calls the king,
And whispers to his pillow, as to him,
The secrets of his overcharged soul;
And I am sent to tell his majesty
That even now he cries aloud for him.
Queen Margaret Go tell this heavy message to the king.
Ay me! what is this world! what news are these!
But wherefore grieve I at an hour’s poor loss,
Omitting Suffolk’s exile, my soul’s treasure?
Why only, Suffolk, mourn I not for thee,
And with the southern clouds contend in tears,
Theirs for the earth’s increase, mine for my sorrows?
Now get thee hence: the king, thou know’st, is coming;
If thou be found by me, thou art but dead.
Suffolk If I depart from thee, I cannot live;
And in thy sight to die, what were it else
But like a pleasant slumber in thy lap?
Here could I breathe my soul into the air,
As mild and gentle as the cradle-babe
Dying with mother’s dug between its lips:
Where, from thy sight, I should be raging mad,
And cry out for thee to close up mine eyes,
To have thee with thy lips to stop my mouth;
So shouldst thou either turn my flying soul,
Or I should breathe it so into thy body,
And then it lived in sweet Elysium.
To die by thee were but to die in jest;
From thee to die were torture more than death:
O, let me stay, befall what may befall!
Queen Margaret Away! though parting be a fretful corrosive,
It is applied to a deathful wound.
To France, sweet Suffolk: let me hear from thee;
For wheresoe’er thou art in this world’s globe,
I’ll have an Iris that shall find thee out.
Suffolk I go.
Queen Margaret And take my heart with thee.
Suffolk A jewel, lock’d into the wofull’st cask
That ever did contain a thing of worth.
Even as a splitted bark, so sunder we
This way fall I to death.
Queen Margaret This way for me.
Enter the King, Salisbury, Warwick, to the Cardinal in bed
King Henry VI How fares my lord? speak, Beaufort, to thy sovereign.
Cardinal If thou be’st death, I’ll give thee England’s treasure,
Enough to purchase such another island,
So thou wilt let me live, and feel no pain.
King Henry VI Ah, what a sign it is of evil life,
Where death’s approach is seen so terrible!
Warwick Beaufort, it is thy sovereign speaks to thee.
Cardinal Bring me unto my trial when you will.
Died he not in his bed? where should he die?
Can I make men live, whether they will or no?
O, torture me no more! I will confess.
Alive again? then show me where he is:
I’ll give a thousand pound to look upon him.
He hath no eyes, the dust hath blinded them.
Comb down his hair; look, look! it stands upright,
Like lime-twigs set to catch my winged soul.
Give me some drink; and bid the apothecary
Bring the strong poison that I bought of him.
King Henry VI O thou eternal Mover of the heavens.
Look with a gentle eye upon this wretch!
O, beat away the busy meddling fiend
That lays strong siege unto this wretch’s soul.
And from his bosom purge this black despair!
Warwick See, how the pangs of death do make him grin!
Salisbury Disturb him not; let him pass peaceably.
King Henry VI Peace to his soul, if God’s good pleasure be!
Lord cardinal, if thou think’st on heaven’s bliss,
Hold up thy hand, make signal of thy hope.
He dies, and makes no sign. O God, forgive him!
Warwick So bad a death argues a monstrous life.
King Henry VI Forbear to judge, for we are sinners all.
Close up his eyes and draw the curtain close;
And let us all to meditation.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:54