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Henry VI, Part 1 - Act 2, scene 5
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Navigate this workHenry VI, Part 1 - Act 2, scene 5
Act 2, scene 5
Edmund Mortimer, imprisoned by Henry IV because of his strong claim to the throne, and kept in prison by Henry V, is about to die and wishes to see Richard Plantagenet, his kinsman. The dying Mortimer encourages Richard’s ambitions but counsels him to be secretive.Enter ⌜Edmund⌝ Mortimer, brought in a chair,
0972 Kind keepers of my weak decaying age,
0973 Let dying Mortimer here rest himself.
0974 Even like a man new-halèd from the rack,
0975 So fare my limbs with long imprisonment;
0976 5 And these gray locks, the pursuivants of death,
0977 Nestor-like agèd in an age of care,
0978 Argue the end of Edmund Mortimer;
0979 These eyes, like lamps whose wasting oil is spent,
0980 Wax dim, as drawing to their exigent;
0981 10 Weak shoulders, overborne with burdening grief,
0982 And pithless arms, like to a withered vine
0983 That droops his sapless branches to the ground;
0984 Yet are these feet, whose strengthless stay is numb,
0985 Unable to support this lump of clay,
0986 15 Swift-wingèd with desire to get a grave,
0987 As witting I no other comfort have.
0988 But tell me, keeper, will my nephew come?
0989 Richard Plantagenet, my lord, will come.
0990 We sent unto the Temple, unto his chamber,
0991 20 And answer was returned that he will come.
0992 Enough. My soul shall then be satisfied.
0993 Poor gentleman, his wrong doth equal mine.
0994 Since Henry Monmouth first began to reign,
0995 Before whose glory I was great in arms,
0996 25 This loathsome sequestration have I had;
0997 And even since then hath Richard been obscured,
0998 Deprived of honor and inheritance.
0999 But now the arbitrator of despairs,
p. 891000 Just Death, kind umpire of men’s miseries,
1001 30 With sweet enlargement doth dismiss me hence.
1002 I would his troubles likewise were expired,
1003 That so he might recover what was lost.
Enter Richard ⌜Plantagenet.⌝
1004 My lord, your loving nephew now is come.
1005 Richard Plantagenet, my friend, is he come?
1006 35 Ay, noble uncle, thus ignobly used,
1007 Your nephew, late despisèd Richard, comes.
MORTIMER, ⌜to Jailer⌝
1008 Direct mine arms I may embrace his neck
1009 And in his bosom spend my latter gasp.
1010 O, tell me when my lips do touch his cheeks,
1011 40 That I may kindly give one fainting kiss.
⌜He embraces Richard.⌝
1012 And now declare, sweet stem from York’s great stock,
1013 Why didst thou say of late thou wert despised?
1014 First, lean thine agèd back against mine arm,
1015 And in that ease I’ll tell thee my disease.
1016 45 This day, in argument upon a case,
1017 Some words there grew ’twixt Somerset and me,
1018 Among which terms he used his lavish tongue
1019 And did upbraid me with my father’s death;
1020 Which obloquy set bars before my tongue,
1021 50 Else with the like I had requited him.
1022 Therefore, good uncle, for my father’s sake,
1023 In honor of a true Plantagenet,
1024 And for alliance’ sake, declare the cause
1025 My father, Earl of Cambridge, lost his head.
1026 55 That cause, fair nephew, that imprisoned me
1027 And hath detained me all my flow’ring youth
1028 Within a loathsome dungeon, there to pine,
1029 Was cursèd instrument of his decease.
1030 Discover more at large what cause that was,
1031 60 For I am ignorant and cannot guess.
1032 I will, if that my fading breath permit
1033 And death approach not ere my tale be done.
1034 Henry the Fourth, grandfather to this king,
1035 Deposed his nephew Richard, Edward’s son,
1036 65 The first begotten and the lawful heir
1037 Of Edward king, the third of that descent;
1038 During whose reign the Percies of the north,
1039 Finding his usurpation most unjust,
1040 Endeavored my advancement to the throne.
1041 70 The reason moved these warlike lords to this
1042 Was, for that—young Richard thus removed,
1043 Leaving no heir begotten of his body—
1044 I was the next by birth and parentage;
1045 For by my mother I derivèd am
1046 75 From Lionel, Duke of Clarence, third son
1047 To King Edward the Third; whereas he
1048 From John of Gaunt doth bring his pedigree,
1049 Being but fourth of that heroic line.
1050 But mark: as in this haughty great attempt
1051 80 They laborèd to plant the rightful heir,
1052 I lost my liberty and they their lives.
1053 Long after this, when Henry the Fifth,
1054 Succeeding his father Bolingbroke, did reign,
1055 Thy father, Earl of Cambridge then, derived
1056 85 From famous Edmund Langley, Duke of York,
1057 Marrying my sister that thy mother was,
p. 931058 Again, in pity of my hard distress,
1059 Levied an army, weening to redeem
1060 And have installed me in the diadem.
1061 90 But, as the rest, so fell that noble earl
1062 And was beheaded. Thus the Mortimers,
1063 In whom the title rested, were suppressed.
1064 Of which, my lord, your Honor is the last.
1065 True, and thou seest that I no issue have
1066 95 And that my fainting words do warrant death.
1067 Thou art my heir; the rest I wish thee gather.
1068 But yet be wary in thy studious care.
1069 Thy grave admonishments prevail with me.
1070 But yet methinks my father’s execution
1071 100 Was nothing less than bloody tyranny.
1072 With silence, nephew, be thou politic;
1073 Strong-fixèd is the house of Lancaster,
1074 And, like a mountain, not to be removed.
1075 But now thy uncle is removing hence,
1076 105 As princes do their courts when they are cloyed
1077 With long continuance in a settled place.
1078 O uncle, would some part of my young years
1079 Might but redeem the passage of your age.
1080 Thou dost then wrong me, as that slaughterer doth
1081 110 Which giveth many wounds when one will kill.
1082 Mourn not, except thou sorrow for my good;
1083 Only give order for my funeral.
1084 And so farewell, and fair be all thy hopes,
1085 And prosperous be thy life in peace and war.
1086 115 And peace, no war, befall thy parting soul.
1087 In prison hast thou spent a pilgrimage,
1088 And like a hermit overpassed thy days.—
1089 Well, I will lock his counsel in my breast,
1090 And what I do imagine, let that rest.—
1091 120 Keepers, convey him hence, and I myself
1092 Will see his burial better than his life.
⌜Jailers⌝ exit ⌜carrying Mortimer’s body.⌝
1093 Here dies the dusky torch of Mortimer,
1094 Choked with ambition of the meaner sort.
1095 And for those wrongs, those bitter injuries,
1096 125 Which Somerset hath offered to my house,
1097 I doubt not but with honor to redress.
1098 And therefore haste I to the Parliament,
1099 Either to be restorèd to my blood,
1100 Or make ⌜mine ill⌝ th’ advantage of my good.