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Henry VI, Part 2 - Act 3, scene 1
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Navigate this workHenry VI, Part 2 - Act 3, scene 1
Act 3, scene 1
In Parliament Queen Margaret and the nobles level charges against Gloucester, but King Henry remains convinced of his uncle’s innocence. Nonetheless, the King allows Suffolk and the Cardinal to hold him for trial. Fearing that Gloucester will not be convicted, the Queen, the Cardinal, Suffolk, and York conspire to murder him, and Suffolk and the Cardinal promise to carry out the killing. Word comes of an Irish uprising, and York, delighted to be provided with an army, agrees to quell it.Sound a sennet. Enter King ⌜Henry,⌝ Queen ⌜Margaret,⌝
Cardinal, Suffolk, York, Buckingham, Salisbury, and
Warwick, ⌜and Others⌝ to the Parliament.
1219 I muse my lord of Gloucester is not come.
1220 ’Tis not his wont to be the hindmost man,
1221 Whate’er occasion keeps him from us now.
1222 Can you not see, or will you not observe,
1223 5 The strangeness of his altered countenance?
1224 With what a majesty he bears himself,
1225 How insolent of late he is become,
1226 How proud, how peremptory, and unlike himself?
1227 We know the time since he was mild and affable;
1228 10 And if we did but glance a far-off look,
1229 Immediately he was upon his knee,
1230 That all the court admired him for submission.
1231 But meet him now, and, be it in the morn
1232 When everyone will give the time of day,
1233 15 He knits his brow and shows an angry eye
1234 And passeth by with stiff unbowèd knee,
1235 Disdaining duty that to us belongs.
1236 Small curs are not regarded when they grin,
1237 But great men tremble when the lion roars—
1238 20 And Humphrey is no little man in England.
p. 1031239 First, note that he is near you in descent,
1240 And, should you fall, he is the next will mount.
1241 Meseemeth then it is no policy,
1242 Respecting what a rancorous mind he bears
1243 25 And his advantage following your decease,
1244 That he should come about your royal person
1245 Or be admitted to your Highness’ Council.
1246 By flattery hath he won the Commons’ hearts;
1247 And when he please to make commotion,
1248 30 ’Tis to be feared they all will follow him.
1249 Now ’tis the spring, and weeds are shallow-rooted;
1250 Suffer them now, and they’ll o’ergrow the garden
1251 And choke the herbs for want of husbandry.
1252 The reverent care I bear unto my lord
1253 35 Made me collect these dangers in the Duke.
1254 If it be fond, call it a woman’s fear,
1255 Which fear, if better reasons can supplant,
1256 I will subscribe and say I wronged the Duke.
1257 My ⌜lords⌝ of Suffolk, Buckingham, and York,
1258 40 Reprove my allegation if you can,
1259 Or else conclude my words effectual.
1260 Well hath your Highness seen into this duke,
1261 And, had I first been put to speak my mind,
1262 I think I should have told your Grace’s tale.
1263 45 The Duchess by his subornation,
1264 Upon my life, began her devilish practices;
1265 Or if he were not privy to those faults,
1266 Yet, by reputing of his high descent—
1267 As next the King he was successive heir,
1268 50 And such high vaunts of his nobility—
1269 Did instigate the bedlam brainsick duchess
1270 By wicked means to frame our sovereign’s fall.
1271 Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep,
1272 And in his simple show he harbors treason.
1273 55 The fox barks not when he would steal the lamb.
p. 1051274 No, no, my sovereign, Gloucester is a man
1275 Unsounded yet and full of deep deceit.
1276 Did he not, contrary to form of law,
1277 Devise strange deaths for small offenses done?
1278 60 And did he not, in his protectorship,
1279 Levy great sums of money through the realm
1280 For soldiers’ pay in France, and never sent it,
1281 By means whereof the towns each day revolted?
1282 Tut, these are petty faults to faults unknown,
1283 65 Which time will bring to light in smooth Duke
1285 My lords, at once: the care you have of us
1286 To mow down thorns that would annoy our foot
1287 Is worthy praise; but, shall I speak my conscience,
1288 70 Our kinsman Gloucester is as innocent
1289 From meaning treason to our royal person
1290 As is the sucking lamb or harmless dove.
1291 The Duke is virtuous, mild, and too well given
1292 To dream on evil or to work my downfall.
1293 75 Ah, what’s more dangerous than this fond affiance?
1294 Seems he a dove? His feathers are but borrowed,
1295 For he’s disposèd as the hateful raven.
1296 Is he a lamb? His skin is surely lent him,
1297 For he’s inclined as is the ravenous wolves.
1298 80 Who cannot steal a shape that means deceit?
1299 Take heed, my lord; the welfare of us all
1300 Hangs on the cutting short that fraudful man.
1301 All health unto my gracious sovereign!
p. 107KING HENRY
1302 Welcome, Lord Somerset. What news from France?
1303 85 That all your interest in those territories
1304 Is utterly bereft you. All is lost.
1305 Cold news, Lord Somerset; but God’s will be done.
1306 Cold news for me, for I had hope of France
1307 As firmly as I hope for fertile England.
1308 90 Thus are my blossoms blasted in the bud,
1309 And caterpillars eat my leaves away.
1310 But I will remedy this gear ere long,
1311 Or sell my title for a glorious grave.
1312 All happiness unto my lord the King!
1313 95 Pardon, my liege, that I have stayed so long.
1314 Nay, Gloucester, know that thou art come too soon,
1315 Unless thou wert more loyal than thou art.
1316 I do arrest thee of high treason here.
1317 Well, Suffolk, thou shalt not see me blush
1318 100 Nor change my countenance for this arrest.
1319 A heart unspotted is not easily daunted.
1320 The purest spring is not so free from mud
1321 As I am clear from treason to my sovereign.
1322 Who can accuse me? Wherein am I guilty?
1323 105 ’Tis thought, my lord, that you took bribes of France
1324 And, being Protector, stayed the soldiers’ pay,
1325 By means whereof his Highness hath lost France.
1326 Is it but thought so? What are they that think it?
p. 1091327 I never robbed the soldiers of their pay
1328 110 Nor ever had one penny bribe from France.
1329 So help me God as I have watched the night—
1330 Ay, night by night—in studying good for England!
1331 That doit that e’er I wrested from the King,
1332 Or any groat I hoarded to my use,
1333 115 Be brought against me at my trial day!
1334 No, many a pound of mine own proper store,
1335 Because I would not tax the needy Commons,
1336 Have I dispursèd to the garrisons
1337 And never asked for restitution.
1338 120 It serves you well, my lord, to say so much.
1339 I say no more than truth, so help me God.
1340 In your protectorship, you did devise
1341 Strange tortures for offenders, never heard of,
1342 That England was defamed by tyranny.
1343 125 Why, ’tis well known that whiles I was Protector,
1344 Pity was all the fault that was in me;
1345 For I should melt at an offender’s tears,
1346 And lowly words were ransom for their fault.
1347 Unless it were a bloody murderer
1348 130 Or foul felonious thief that fleeced poor passengers,
1349 I never gave them condign punishment.
1350 Murder indeed, that bloody sin, I tortured
1351 Above the felon or what trespass else.
1352 My lord, these faults are easy, quickly answered;
1353 135 But mightier crimes are laid unto your charge
1354 Whereof you cannot easily purge yourself.
1355 I do arrest you in his Highness’ name,
1356 And here commit you to my Lord Cardinal
1357 To keep until your further time of trial.
p. 111KING HENRY
1358 140 My lord of Gloucester, ’tis my special hope
1359 That you will clear yourself from all suspense.
1360 My conscience tells me you are innocent.
1361 Ah, gracious lord, these days are dangerous.
1362 Virtue is choked with foul ambition,
1363 145 And charity chased hence by rancor’s hand;
1364 Foul subornation is predominant,
1365 And equity exiled your Highness’ land.
1366 I know their complot is to have my life;
1367 And if my death might make this island happy
1368 150 And prove the period of their tyranny,
1369 I would expend it with all willingness.
1370 But mine is made the prologue to their play;
1371 For thousands more, that yet suspect no peril,
1372 Will not conclude their plotted tragedy.
1373 155 Beaufort’s red sparkling eyes blab his heart’s malice,
1374 And Suffolk’s cloudy brow his stormy hate;
1375 Sharp Buckingham unburdens with his tongue
1376 The envious load that lies upon his heart;
1377 And dogged York, that reaches at the moon,
1378 160 Whose overweening arm I have plucked back,
1379 By false accuse doth level at my life.—
1380 And you, my sovereign lady, with the rest,
1381 Causeless have laid disgraces on my head
1382 And with your best endeavor have stirred up
1383 165 My liefest liege to be mine enemy.
1384 Ay, all of you have laid your heads together—
1385 Myself had notice of your conventicles—
1386 And all to make away my guiltless life.
1387 I shall not want false witness to condemn me
1388 170 Nor store of treasons to augment my guilt.
1389 The ancient proverb will be well effected:
1390 “A staff is quickly found to beat a dog.”
1391 My liege, his railing is intolerable.
1392 If those that care to keep your royal person
1393 175 From treason’s secret knife and traitor’s rage
1394 Be thus upbraided, chid, and rated at,
1395 And the offender granted scope of speech,
1396 ’Twill make them cool in zeal unto your Grace.
1397 Hath he not twit our sovereign lady here
1398 180 With ignominious words, though clerkly couched,
1399 As if she had subornèd some to swear
1400 False allegations to o’erthrow his state?
1401 But I can give the loser leave to chide.
1402 Far truer spoke than meant. I lose, indeed;
1403 185 Beshrew the winners, for they played me false!
1404 And well such losers may have leave to speak.
1405 He’ll wrest the sense and hold us here all day.
1406 Lord Cardinal, he is your prisoner.
CARDINAL, ⌜to his Men⌝
1407 Sirs, take away the Duke, and guard him sure.
1408 190 Ah, thus King Henry throws away his crutch
1409 Before his legs be firm to bear his body.—
1410 Thus is the shepherd beaten from thy side,
1411 And wolves are gnarling who shall gnaw thee first.
1412 Ah, that my fear were false; ah, that it were!
1413 195 For, good King Henry, thy decay I fear.
Gloucester exits, ⌜guarded by Cardinal’s Men.⌝
1414 My lords, what to your wisdoms seemeth best
1415 Do, or undo, as if ourself were here.
1416 What, will your Highness leave the Parliament?
p. 115KING HENRY
1417 Ay, Margaret. My heart is drowned with grief,
1418 200 Whose flood begins to flow within mine eyes,
1419 My body round engirt with misery;
1420 For what’s more miserable than discontent?
1421 Ah, uncle Humphrey, in thy face I see
1422 The map of honor, truth, and loyalty;
1423 205 And yet, good Humphrey, is the hour to come
1424 That e’er I proved thee false or feared thy faith.
1425 What louring star now envies thy estate
1426 That these great lords and Margaret our queen
1427 Do seek subversion of thy harmless life?
1428 210 Thou never didst them wrong nor no man wrong.
1429 And as the butcher takes away the calf
1430 And binds the wretch and beats it when it ⌜strains,⌝
1431 Bearing it to the bloody slaughterhouse,
1432 Even so remorseless have they borne him hence;
1433 215 And as the dam runs lowing up and down,
1434 Looking the way her harmless young one went,
1435 And can do naught but wail her darling’s loss,
1436 Even so myself bewails good Gloucester’s case
1437 With sad unhelpful tears, and with dimmed eyes
1438 220 Look after him and cannot do him good,
1439 So mighty are his vowèd enemies.
1440 His fortunes I will weep and, ’twixt each groan,
1441 Say “Who’s a traitor, Gloucester he is none.”
He exits, ⌜with Buckingham, Salisbury, Warwick,
and Others. Somerset steps aside.⌝
QUEEN MARGARET, ⌜to Cardinal, Suffolk, and York⌝
1442 Free lords, cold snow melts with the sun’s hot
1443 225 beams.
1444 Henry my lord is cold in great affairs,
1445 Too full of foolish pity; and Gloucester’s show
1446 Beguiles him, as the mournful crocodile
1447 With sorrow snares relenting passengers,
1448 230 Or as the snake, rolled in a flow’ring bank,
p. 1171449 With shining checkered slough, doth sting a child
1450 That for the beauty thinks it excellent.
1451 Believe me, lords, were none more wise than I—
1452 And yet herein I judge mine own wit good—
1453 235 This Gloucester should be quickly rid the world,
1454 To rid us from the fear we have of him.
1455 That he should die is worthy policy,
1456 But yet we want a color for his death.
1457 ’Tis meet he be condemned by course of law.
1458 240 But, in my mind, that were no policy.
1459 The King will labor still to save his life,
1460 The Commons haply rise to save his life,
1461 And yet we have but trivial argument,
1462 More than mistrust, that shows him worthy death.
1463 245 So that, by this, you would not have him die.
1464 Ah, York, no man alive so fain as I!
1465 ’Tis York that hath more reason for his death.
1466 But, my Lord Cardinal, and you, my lord of Suffolk,
1467 Say as you think, and speak it from your souls:
1468 250 Were ’t not all one an empty eagle were set
1469 To guard the chicken from a hungry kite
1470 As place Duke Humphrey for the King’s Protector?
1471 So the poor chicken should be sure of death.
1472 Madam, ’tis true; and were ’t not madness then
1473 255 To make the fox surveyor of the fold—
1474 Who, being accused a crafty murderer,
1475 His guilt should be but idly posted over
1476 Because his purpose is not executed?
1477 No, let him die in that he is a fox,
p. 1191478 260 By nature proved an enemy to the flock,
1479 Before his chaps be stained with crimson blood,
1480 As Humphrey, proved by reasons, to my liege.
1481 And do not stand on quillets how to slay him—
1482 Be it by gins, by snares, by subtlety,
1483 265 Sleeping or waking. ’Tis no matter how,
1484 So he be dead; for that is good deceit
1485 Which mates him first that first intends deceit.
1486 Thrice noble Suffolk, ’tis resolutely spoke.
1487 Not resolute, except so much were done,
1488 270 For things are often spoke and seldom meant;
1489 But that my heart accordeth with my tongue,
1490 Seeing the deed is meritorious,
1491 And to preserve my sovereign from his foe,
1492 Say but the word and I will be his priest.
1493 275 But I would have him dead, my lord of Suffolk,
1494 Ere you can take due orders for a priest.
1495 Say you consent and censure well the deed,
1496 And I’ll provide his executioner.
1497 I tender so the safety of my liege.
1498 280 Here is my hand. The deed is worthy doing.
QUEEN MARGARET 1499 And so say I.
1500 And I. And now we three have spoke it,
1501 It skills not greatly who impugns our doom.
Enter a Post.
1502 Great lords, from Ireland am I come amain
1503 285 To signify that rebels there are up
1504 And put the Englishmen unto the sword.
1505 Send succors, lords, and stop the rage betime,
p. 1211506 Before the wound do grow uncurable;
1507 For, being green, there is great hope of help.
1508 290 A breach that craves a quick expedient stop!
1509 What counsel give you in this weighty cause?
1510 That Somerset be sent as regent thither.
1511 ’Tis meet that lucky ruler be employed—
1512 Witness the fortune he hath had in France.
1513 295 If York, with all his far-fet policy,
1514 Had been the regent there instead of me,
1515 He never would have stayed in France so long.
1516 No, not to lose it all, as thou hast done.
1517 I rather would have lost my life betimes
1518 300 Than bring a burden of dishonor home
1519 By staying there so long till all were lost.
1520 Show me one scar charactered on thy skin.
1521 Men’s flesh preserved so whole do seldom win.
1522 Nay, then, this spark will prove a raging fire
1523 305 If wind and fuel be brought to feed it with.—
1524 No more, good York.—Sweet Somerset, be still.—
1525 Thy fortune, York, hadst thou been regent there,
1526 Might happily have proved far worse than his.
1527 What, worse than naught? Nay, then, a shame take
1528 310 all!
1529 And, in the number, thee that wishest shame!
1530 My lord of York, try what your fortune is.
1531 Th’ uncivil kerns of Ireland are in arms
1532 And temper clay with blood of Englishmen.
p. 1231533 315 To Ireland will you lead a band of men,
1534 Collected choicely, from each county some,
1535 And try your hap against the Irishmen?
1536 I will, my lord, so please his Majesty.
1537 Why, our authority is his consent,
1538 320 And what we do establish he confirms.
1539 Then, noble York, take thou this task in hand.
1540 I am content. Provide me soldiers, lords,
1541 Whiles I take order for mine own affairs.
1542 A charge, Lord York, that I will see performed.
1543 325 But now return we to the false Duke Humphrey.
1544 No more of him, for I will deal with him,
1545 That henceforth he shall trouble us no more.
1546 And so break off; the day is almost spent.
1547 Lord Suffolk, you and I must talk of that event.
1548 330 My lord of Suffolk, within fourteen days
1549 At Bristow I expect my soldiers,
1550 For there I’ll ship them all for Ireland.
1551 I’ll see it truly done, my lord of York.
All but York exit.
1552 Now, York, or never, steel thy fearful thoughts
1553 335 And change misdoubt to resolution.
1554 Be that thou hop’st to be, or what thou art
1555 Resign to death; it is not worth th’ enjoying.
1556 Let pale-faced fear keep with the mean-born man
1557 And find no harbor in a royal heart.
1558 340 Faster than springtime showers comes thought on
p. 1251560 And not a thought but thinks on dignity.
1561 My brain, more busy than the laboring spider,
1562 Weaves tedious snares to trap mine enemies.
1563 345 Well, nobles, well, ’tis politicly done
1564 To send me packing with an host of men.
1565 I fear me you but warm the starvèd snake,
1566 Who, cherished in your breasts, will sting your
1568 350 ’Twas men I lacked, and you will give them me;
1569 I take it kindly. Yet be well assured
1570 You put sharp weapons in a madman’s hands.
1571 Whiles I in Ireland nourish a mighty band,
1572 I will stir up in England some black storm
1573 355 Shall blow ten thousand souls to heaven or hell;
1574 And this fell tempest shall not cease to rage
1575 Until the golden circuit on my head,
1576 Like to the glorious sun’s transparent beams,
1577 Do calm the fury of this mad-bred flaw.
1578 360 And for a minister of my intent,
1579 I have seduced a headstrong Kentishman,
1580 John Cade of Ashford,
1581 To make commotion, as full well he can,
1582 Under the title of John Mortimer.
1583 365 In Ireland have I seen this stubborn Cade
1584 Oppose himself against a troop of kerns,
1585 And fought so long till that his thighs with darts
1586 Were almost like a sharp-quilled porpentine;
1587 And in the end being rescued, I have seen
1588 370 Him caper upright like a wild Morisco,
1589 Shaking the bloody darts as he his bells.
1590 Full often, like a shag-haired crafty kern,
1591 Hath he conversèd with the enemy,
1592 And undiscovered come to me again
1593 375 And given me notice of their villainies.
1594 This devil here shall be my substitute;
1595 For that John Mortimer, which now is dead,
p. 1271596 In face, in gait, in speech he doth resemble.
1597 By this, I shall perceive the Commons’ mind,
1598 380 How they affect the house and claim of York.
1599 Say he be taken, racked, and torturèd,
1600 I know no pain they can inflict upon him
1601 Will make him say I moved him to those arms.
1602 Say that he thrive, as ’tis great like he will,
1603 385 Why then from Ireland come I with my strength
1604 And reap the harvest which that rascal sowed.
1605 For, Humphrey being dead, as he shall be,
1606 And Henry put apart, the next for me.