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Henry VI, Part 1 - Act 2, scene 4
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Navigate this workHenry VI, Part 1 - Act 2, scene 4
Act 2, scene 4
Richard Plantagenet and Somerset, having quarreled over a case at law, withdraw into a garden, where the supporters of Plantagenet signal their commitment to him by plucking and wearing white roses, the supporters of Somerset red roses.Enter Richard Plantagenet, Warwick, Somerset,
⌜William de la⌝ Pole ⌜the Earl of Suffolk,
Vernon, a Lawyer,⌝ and Others.
0837 Great lords and gentlemen, what means this silence?
0838 Dare no man answer in a case of truth?
0839 Within the Temple Hall we were too loud;
0840 The garden here is more convenient.
0841 5 Then say at once if I maintained the truth,
0842 Or else was wrangling Somerset in th’ error?
0843 Faith, I have been a truant in the law
0844 And never yet could frame my will to it,
0845 And therefore frame the law unto my will.
0846 10 Judge you, my Lord of Warwick, then, between us.
0847 Between two hawks, which flies the higher pitch,
0848 Between two dogs, which hath the deeper mouth,
0849 Between two blades, which bears the better temper,
0850 Between two horses, which doth bear him best,
0851 15 Between two girls, which hath the merriest eye,
0852 I have perhaps some shallow spirit of judgment;
0853 But in these nice sharp quillets of the law,
0854 Good faith, I am no wiser than a daw.
0855 Tut, tut, here is a mannerly forbearance!
0856 20 The truth appears so naked on my side
0857 That any purblind eye may find it out.
0858 And on my side it is so well appareled,
0859 So clear, so shining, and so evident,
0860 That it will glimmer through a blind man’s eye.
0861 25 Since you are tongue-tied and so loath to speak,
0862 In dumb significants proclaim your thoughts:
0863 Let him that is a trueborn gentleman
0864 And stands upon the honor of his birth,
0865 If he suppose that I have pleaded truth,
0866 30 From off this brier pluck a white rose with me.
0867 Let him that is no coward nor no flatterer,
0868 But dare maintain the party of the truth,
0869 Pluck a red rose from off this thorn with me.
0870 I love no colors; and, without all color
0871 35 Of base insinuating flattery,
0872 I pluck this white rose with Plantagenet.
0873 I pluck this red rose with young Somerset,
0874 And say withal I think he held the right.
0875 Stay, lords and gentlemen, and pluck no more
0876 40 Till you conclude that he upon whose side
0877 The fewest roses are croppèd from the tree
0878 Shall yield the other in the right opinion.
0879 Good Master Vernon, it is well objected:
0880 If I have fewest, I subscribe in silence.
PLANTAGENET 0881 45And I.
0882 Then for the truth and plainness of the case,
0883 I pluck this pale and maiden blossom here,
0884 Giving my verdict on the white rose side.
0885 Prick not your finger as you pluck it off,
0886 50 Lest, bleeding, you do paint the white rose red,
0887 And fall on my side so against your will.
0888 If I, my lord, for my opinion bleed,
0889 Opinion shall be surgeon to my hurt
0890 And keep me on the side where still I am.
SOMERSET 0891 55Well, well, come on, who else?
0892 Unless my study and my books be false,
p. 810893 The argument you held was wrong in ⌜law,⌝
0894 In sign whereof I pluck a white rose too.
0895 Now, Somerset, where is your argument?
0896 60 Here in my scabbard, meditating that
0897 Shall dye your white rose in a bloody red.
0898 Meantime your cheeks do counterfeit our roses,
0899 For pale they look with fear, as witnessing
0900 The truth on our side.
SOMERSET 0901 65 No, Plantagenet.
0902 ’Tis not for fear, but anger that thy cheeks
0903 Blush for pure shame to counterfeit our roses,
0904 And yet thy tongue will not confess thy error.
0905 Hath not thy rose a canker, Somerset?
0906 70 Hath not thy rose a thorn, Plantagenet?
0907 Ay, sharp and piercing, to maintain his truth,
0908 Whiles thy consuming canker eats his falsehood.
0909 Well, I’ll find friends to wear my bleeding roses
0910 That shall maintain what I have said is true,
0911 75 Where false Plantagenet dare not be seen.
0912 Now, by this maiden blossom in my hand,
0913 I scorn thee and thy fashion, peevish boy.
0914 Turn not thy scorns this way, Plantagenet.
0915 Proud Pole, I will, and scorn both him and thee.
0916 80 I’ll turn my part thereof into thy throat.
0917 Away, away, good William de la Pole!
0918 We grace the yeoman by conversing with him.
0919 Now, by God’s will, thou wrong’st him, Somerset.
0920 His grandfather was Lionel, Duke of Clarence,
0921 85 Third son to the third Edward, King of England.
0922 Spring crestless yeomen from so deep a root?
0923 He bears him on the place’s privilege,
0924 Or durst not for his craven heart say thus.
0925 By Him that made me, I’ll maintain my words
0926 90 On any plot of ground in Christendom.
0927 Was not thy father Richard, Earl of Cambridge,
0928 For treason executed in our late king’s days?
0929 And, by his treason, stand’st not thou attainted,
0930 Corrupted, and exempt from ancient gentry?
0931 95 His trespass yet lives guilty in thy blood,
0932 And, till thou be restored, thou art a yeoman.
0933 My father was attachèd, not attainted,
0934 Condemned to die for treason, but no traitor;
0935 And that I’ll prove on better men than Somerset,
0936 100 Were growing time once ripened to my will.
0937 For your partaker Pole and you yourself,
0938 I’ll note you in my book of memory
0939 To scourge you for this apprehension.
0940 Look to it well, and say you are well warned.
0941 105 Ah, thou shalt find us ready for thee still,
0942 And know us by these colors for thy foes,
0943 For these my friends in spite of thee shall wear.
0944 And, by my soul, this pale and angry rose,
0945 As cognizance of my blood-drinking hate,
p. 850946 110 Will I forever, and my faction, wear
0947 Until it wither with me to my grave
0948 Or flourish to the height of my degree.
0949 Go forward, and be choked with thy ambition!
0950 And so farewell, until I meet thee next.He exits.
0951 115 Have with thee, Pole.—Farewell, ambitious Richard.
0952 How I am braved, and must perforce endure it!
0953 This blot that they object against your house
0954 Shall be whipped out in the next parliament,
0955 Called for the truce of Winchester and Gloucester;
0956 120 And if thou be not then created York,
0957 I will not live to be accounted Warwick.
0958 Meantime, in signal of my love to thee,
0959 Against proud Somerset and William Pole
0960 Will I upon thy party wear this rose.
0961 125 And here I prophesy: this brawl today,
0962 Grown to this faction in the Temple garden,
0963 Shall send, between the red rose and the white,
0964 A thousand souls to death and deadly night.
0965 Good Master Vernon, I am bound to you,
0966 130 That you on my behalf would pluck a flower.
0967 In your behalf still will I wear the same.
0968 And so will I.
PLANTAGENET 0969 Thanks, gentle ⌜sir.⌝
0970 Come, let us four to dinner. I dare say
0971 135 This quarrel will drink blood another day.