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ACT III. - William Shakespeare, The Second Part of King Henry the Sixth 
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (The Oxford Shakespeare), ed. with a glossary by W.J. Craig M.A. (Oxford University Press, 1916).
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The Abbey at Bury St. Edmund’s.
Sound a sennet. Enter to the Parliament,King Henry, Queen Margaret, Cardinal Beaufort, Suffolk, York, Buckingham,and Others.
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.
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,
An if we did but glance a far-off look,
Immediately he was upon his knee,
That all the court admir’d him for submission:
But meet him now, and, be it in the morn,
When everyone 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 is 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.
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 practices:
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 sov’reign; Gloucester is a man
Unsounded yet, and full of deep deceit.
Did he not, contrary to form of law,
Devise strange deaths for small offences done?
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.
Tut! these are petty faults to faults unknown,
Which time will bring to light in smooth Duke Humphrey.
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.
Ah! what’s more dangerous than this fond affiance!
Seems he a dove? his feathers are but borrow’d,
For he’s disposed as the hateful raven:
Is he a lamb? his skin is surely lent him,
For he’s inclin’d 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.
All health unto my gracious sovereign!
Welcome, Lord Somerset. What news from France?
That all your interest in those territories
Is utterly bereft you; all is lost.
Cold news, Lord Somerset: but God’s will be done!
[Aside.] Cold news for me; for I had hope of France,
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.
All happiness unto my lord the king!
Pardon, my liege, that I have stay’d so long.
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.
Well, Suffolk’s duke, 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?
’Tis thought, my lord, that you took bribes of France,
And, being protector, stay’d the soldiers’ pay;
By means whereof his highness hath lost France.
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.
It serves you well, my lord, to say so much.
I say no more than truth, so help me God!
In your protectorship you did devise
Strange tortures for offenders, never heard of,
That England was defam’d by tyranny.
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 fleec’d poor passengers,
I never gave them condign punishment:
Murder, indeed, that bloody sin, I tortur’d
Above the felon or what trespass else.
My lord, these faults are easy, quickly answer’d:
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.
My Lord of Gloucester, ’tis my special hope
That you will clear yourself from all suspect:
My conscience tells me you are innocent.
Ah! gracious lord, these days are dangerous.
Virtue is chok’d with foul ambition,
And charity chas’d hence by rancour’s hand;
Foul subornation is predominant,
And equity exil’d 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 unburdens 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 sov’reign 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 of 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.’
My liege, his railing is intolerable.
If those that care to keep your royal person
From treason’s secret knife and traitor’s rage
Be thus upbraided, chid, and rated at,
And the offender granted scope of speech,
’Twill make them cool in zeal unto your Grace.
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?
But I can give the loser leave to chide.
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.
He’ll wrest the sense and hold us here all day.
Lord Cardinal, he is your prisoner.
Sirs, take away the duke, and guard him sure.
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.
[Exeunt Attendants withGloucester.
My lords, what to your wisdoms seemeth best
Do or undo, as if ourself were here.
What! will your highness leave the parliament?
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 prov’d thee false, or fear’d thy faith.
What low’ring 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.’
Fair 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 flow’ring bank,
With shining checker’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 from the fear we have of him.
That he should die is worthy policy;
And yet we want a colour for his death.
’Tis meet he be condemn’d by course of law.
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.
So that, by this, you would not have him die.
Ah! York, no man alive so fain as I.
’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?
So the poor chicken should be sure of death.
Madam, ’tis true: and were’t not madness, then,
To make the fox surveyor of the fold?
Who, being accus’d 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 prov’d an enemy to the flock,
Before his chaps be stain’d with crimson blood,
As Humphrey, prov’d by reasons, to my liege.
And do not stand on quillets how to slay him:
Be it by gins, by snares, by subtilty,
Sleeping or waking, ’tis no matter how,
So he be dead; for that is good deceit
Which mates him first that first intends deceit.
Thrice noble Suffolk, ’tis resolutely spoke.
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.
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.
Here is my hand, the deed is worthy doing.
And so say I.
And I: and now we three have spoke it,
It skills not greatly who impugns our doom.
Enter a Messenger.
Great lords, from Ireland am I come amain,
To signify that rebels there are up,
And put the Englishmen unto the sword.
Send succours, lords, and stop the rage betime,
Before the wound do grow uncurable;
For, being green, there is great hope of help.
A breach that craves a quick expedient stop!
What counsel give you in this weighty cause?
That Somerset be sent as regent thither.
’Tis meet that lucky ruler be employ’d;
Witness the fortune he hath had in France.
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.
No, not to lose it all, as thou hast done:
I rather would have lost my life betimes
Than bring a burden of dishonour home,
By staying there so long till all were lost.
Show me one scar character’d on thy skin:
Men’s flesh preserv’d so whole do seldom win.
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 prov’d far worse than his.
What! worse than nought? nay, then a shame take all.
And in the number thee, that wishest shame.
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?
I will, my lord, so please his majesty.
Why, our authority is his consent,
And what we do establish he confirms:
Then, noble York, take thou this task in hand.
I am content: provide me soldiers, lords,
Whiles I take order for mine own affairs.
A charge, Lord York, that I will see perform’d.
But now return we to the false Duke Humphrey.
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.
My Lord of Suffolk, within fourteen days
At Bristol I expect my soldiers;
For there I’ll ship them all for Ireland.
I’ll see it truly done, my Lord of York.
[Exeunt all exceptYork.
Now, York, or never, steel thy fearful thoughts,
And change misdoubt to resolution:
Be that thou hop’st to be, or what thou art
Resign to death; it is not worth the enjoying.
Let pale-fac’d 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 a 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; yet be well assur’d
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 seduc’d 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 rescu’d, 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 mov’d 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.
Bury St. Edmund’s. A Room in the Palace.
Enter certain Murderers, hastily.
Run to my Lord of Suffolk; let him know
We have dispatch’d the duke, as he commanded.
O! that it were to do. What have we done?
Didst ever hear a man so penitent?
Here comes my lord.
Now, sirs, have you dispatch’d this thing?
Ay, my good lord, he’s dead.
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?
’Tis, my good lord.
Away! be gone.
Sound trumpets. EnterKing Henry, Queen Margaret, Cardinal Beaufort, Somerset, Lords, and Others.
Go, call our uncle to our presence straight;
Say, we intend to try his Grace to-day,
If he be guilty, as ’tis published.
I’ll call him presently, my noble lord.
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 approv’d in practice culpable.
God forbid any malice should prevail
That faultless may condemn a nobleman!
Pray God, he may acquit him of suspicion!
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?
Dead in his bed, my lord; Gloucester is dead.
Marry, God forfend!
God’s secret judgment: I did dream to-night
The duke was dumb, and could not speak a word.
How fares my lord? Help, lords! the king is dead.
Rear up his body; wring him by the nose.
Run, go, help, help! O Henry, ope thine eyes!
He doth revive again. Madam, be patient.
O heavenly God!
How fares my gracious lord?
Comfort, my sovereign! grocious Henry, comfort!
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 eyeballs 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.
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 judg’d 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!
Ah! woe is me for Gloucester, wretched man.
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 statua and worship it,
And make my image but an alehouse sign.
Was I for this nigh wrack’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 curs’d the gentle gusts
And he that loos’d them forth their brazen caves;
And bid them blow towards England’s blessed shore,
Or turn our stern upon a dreadful rock?
Yet Æolus would not be a murderer,
But left that hateful office unto thee:
The pretty vaulting sea refus’d 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 receiv’d 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, commenc’d 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. EnterWarwickandSalisbury.
The Commons press to the door.
It is reported, mighty sovereign,
That good Duke Humphrey trait’rously 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.
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.
That shall I do, my liege. Stay, Salisbury,
With the rude multitude till I return.
[Warwickgoes into an inner chamber.Salisburyretires.
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 deaf dumb 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-enterWarwickand Others bearingGloucester’sbody on a bed.
Come hither, gracious sovereign, view this body.
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.
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.
A dreadful oath, sworn with a solemn tongue!
What instance gives Lord Warwick for his vow?
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 eyeballs further out than when he liv’d,
Staring full ghastly like a strangled man;
His hair uprear’d, his nostrils stretch’d with struggling:
His hands abroad display’d, as one that grasp’d
And tugg’d for life, and was by strength subdu’d.
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 lodg’d.
It cannot be but he was murder’d here;
The least of all these signs were probable.
Why, Warwick, who should do the duke to death?
Myself and Beaufort had him in protection;
And we, I hope, sir, are no murderers.
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.
Then you, belike, suspect these noblemen
As guilty of Duke Humphrey’s timeless death.
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.
Are you the butcher, Suffolk? where’s your knife?
Is Beaufort term’d a kite? where are his talons?
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 dar’st, proud Lord of Warwickshire,
That I am faulty in Duke Humphrey’s death.
[ExeuntCardinal Beaufort, Somerset,and Others.
What dares not Warwick, if false Suffolk dare him?
He dares not calm his contumelious spirit,
Nor cease to be an arrogant controller,
Though Suffolk dare him twenty thousand times.
Madam, be still, with reverence may I say;
For every word you speak in his behalf
Is slander to your royal dignity.
Blunt-witted lord, ignoble in demeanour!
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.
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 sov’reign’s presence makes me mild,
I would, false murd’rous 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 wast 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.
Thou shalt be waking while I shed thy blood,
If from this presence thou dar’st go with me.
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.
What stronger breastplate than a heart untainted!
Thrice is he arm’d that hath his quarrel just,
And he but naked, though lock’d up in steel,
Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted.
What noise is this?
[A noise within.
Re-enterSuffolkandWarwick,with their weapons drawn.
Why, how now, lords! your wrathful weapons drawn
Here in our presence! dare you be so bold?
Why, what tumultuous clamour have we here?
The traitorous Warwick, with the men of Bury,
Set all upon me, mighty sovereign.
Noise of a crowd within. Re-enterSalisbury.
[Speaking to those within.] Sirs, stand apart; the king shall know your mind.
Dread lord, the commons send you word by me,
Unless false 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 wak’d,
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, whe’r 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.
[Within.] An answer from the king, my Lord of Salisbury!
’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.
[Within.] An answer from the king, or we will all break in!
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.
O Henry! let me plead for gentle Suffolk.
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.
[ToSuffolk.] 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.
[ExeuntKing Henry, Warwick, Lords, &c.
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!
Cease, gentle queen, these execrations,
And let thy Suffolk take his heavy leave.
Fie, coward woman and soft-hearted wretch!
Hast thou not spirit to curse thine enemy?
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-fac’d Envy in her loathsome cave.
My tongue should stumble in mine earnest words;
Mine eyes should sparkle like the beaten flint;
My hair be fix’d on end, as one distract;
Ay, every joint should seem to curse and ban:
And even now my burden’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 lizard’s stings!
Their music frightful as the serpent’s hiss,
And boding screech-owls make the concert full!
All the foul terrors in dark-seated hell—
Enough, sweet Suffolk; thou torment’st thyself;
And these dread curses, like the sun ’gainst glass,
Or like an over-charged gun, recoil,
And turn the force of them upon thyself.
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.
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 woeful monuments.
O! could this kiss be printed in thy hand,
[Kisses his hand.
That thou mightst think upon these by the seal,
Through whom a thousand sighs are breath’d for thee.
So, get thee gone, that I may know my grief;
’Tis but surmis’d whiles thou art standing by,
As one that surfeits thinking on a want.
I will repeal thee, or, be well assur’d,
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!
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 to joy in nought but that thou liv’st.
Whither goes Vaux so fast? what news, I prithee?
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.
Sometime 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.
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.
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 liv’d 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!
Away! though parting be a fretful corsive,
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.
And take my heart with thee.
A jewel, lock’d into the woefull’st cask
That ever did contain a thing of worth.
Even as a splitted bark, so sunder we:
This way fall I to death.
This way for me.
EnterKing Henry, Salisbury, Warwick,and Others. TheCardinalin bed; Attendants with him.
How fares my lord? speak, Beaufort, to thy sovereign.
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.
Ah! what a sign it is of evil life
Where death’s approach is seen so terrible.
Beaufort, it is thy sov’reign speaks to thee.
Bring me unto my trial when you will.
Died he not in his bed? where should he die?
Can I make men live whe’r 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.
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.
See how the pangs of death do make him grin!
Disturb him not! let him pass peaceably.
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!
So bad a death argues a monstrous life.
Forbear to judge, for we are sinners all.
Close up his eyes, and draw the curtain close;
And let us all to meditation.