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Henry VI, Part 3 - Act 2, scene 1
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Navigate this workHenry VI, Part 3 - Act 2, scene 1
Act 2, scene 1
Edward and Richard receive the news of their father’s death. Warwick then brings news of the Yorkist defeat at St. Albans following the battle of Wakefield. As the Yorkist leaders prepare once more to meet the Lancastrian forces, Warwick announces that Edward, now Duke of York, will be proclaimed king of England.A march. Enter Edward, Richard, and their power,
⌜all wearing the white rose.⌝
0597 I wonder how our princely father scaped,
0598 Or whether he be scaped away or no
0599 From Clifford’s and Northumberland’s pursuit.
0600 Had he been ta’en, we should have heard the news;
0601 5 Had he been slain, we should have heard the news;
0602 Or had he scaped, methinks we should have heard
0603 The happy tidings of his good escape.
0604 How fares my brother? Why is he so sad?
0605 I cannot joy until I be resolved
0606 10 Where our right valiant father is become.
0607 I saw him in the battle range about
0608 And watched him how he singled Clifford forth.
0609 Methought he bore him in the thickest troop
0610 As doth a lion in a herd of neat,
0611 15 Or as a bear encompassed round with dogs,
0612 Who having pinched a few and made them cry,
0613 The rest stand all aloof and bark at him;
0614 So fared our father with his enemies;
0615 So fled his enemies my warlike father.
0616 20 Methinks ’tis prize enough to be his son.
0617 See how the morning opes her golden gates
p. 610618 And takes her farewell of the glorious sun.
0619 How well resembles it the prime of youth,
0620 Trimmed like a younker, prancing to his love!
0621 25 Dazzle mine eyes, or do I see three suns?
0622 Three glorious suns, each one a perfect sun,
0623 Not separated with the racking clouds
0624 But severed in a pale clear-shining sky.
0625 See, see, they join, embrace, and seem to kiss,
0626 30 As if they vowed some league inviolable.
0627 Now are they but one lamp, one light, one sun;
0628 In this, the heaven figures some event.
0629 ’Tis wondrous strange, the like yet never heard of.
0630 I think it cites us, brother, to the field,
0631 35 That we, the sons of brave Plantagenet,
0632 Each one already blazing by our meeds,
0633 Should notwithstanding join our lights together
0634 And overshine the earth, as this the world.
0635 Whate’er it bodes, henceforward will I bear
0636 40 Upon my target three fair shining suns.
0637 Nay, bear three daughters: by your leave I speak it,
0638 You love the breeder better than the male.
Enter ⌜a Messenger,⌝ blowing.
0639 But what art thou whose heavy looks foretell
0640 Some dreadful story hanging on thy tongue?
0641 45 Ah, one that was a woeful looker-on
0642 Whenas the noble Duke of York was slain,
0643 Your princely father and my loving lord.
0644 O, speak no more, for I have heard too much!
0645 Say how he died, for I will hear it all.
0646 50 Environèd he was with many foes,
0647 And stood against them, as the hope of Troy
0648 Against the Greeks that would have entered Troy.
0649 But Hercules himself must yield to odds;
0650 And many strokes, though with a little axe,
0651 55 Hews down and fells the hardest-timbered oak.
0652 By many hands your father was subdued,
0653 But only slaughtered by the ireful arm
0654 Of unrelenting Clifford and the Queen,
0655 Who crowned the gracious duke in high despite,
0656 60 Laughed in his face; and when with grief he wept,
0657 The ruthless queen gave him to dry his cheeks
0658 A napkin steepèd in the harmless blood
0659 Of sweet young Rutland, by rough Clifford slain.
0660 And after many scorns, many foul taunts,
0661 65 They took his head and on the gates of York
0662 They set the same, and there it doth remain,
0663 The saddest spectacle that e’er I viewed.⌜He exits.⌝
0664 Sweet Duke of York, our prop to lean upon,
0665 Now thou art gone, we have no staff, no stay.
0666 70 O Clifford, boist’rous Clifford, thou hast slain
0667 The flower of Europe for his chivalry;
0668 And treacherously hast thou vanquished him,
0669 For hand to hand he would have vanquished thee.
0670 Now my soul’s palace is become a prison;
0671 75 Ah, would she break from hence, that this my body
0672 Might in the ground be closèd up in rest,
0673 For never henceforth shall I joy again.
0674 Never, O never, shall I see more joy!⌜He weeps.⌝
0675 I cannot weep, for all my body’s moisture
0676 80 Scarce serves to quench my furnace-burning heart;
p. 650677 Nor can my tongue unload my heart’s great burden,
0678 For selfsame wind that I should speak withal
0679 Is kindling coals that fires all my breast
0680 And burns me up with flames that tears would
0681 85 quench.
0682 To weep is to make less the depth of grief:
0683 Tears, then, for babes; blows and revenge for me.
0684 Richard, I bear thy name. I’ll venge thy death
0685 Or die renownèd by attempting it.
0686 90 His name that valiant duke hath left with thee;
0687 His dukedom and his chair with me is left.
0688 Nay, if thou be that princely eagle’s bird,
0689 Show thy descent by gazing ’gainst the sun;
0690 For “chair” and “dukedom,” “throne” and
0691 95 “kingdom” say;
0692 Either that is thine or else thou wert not his.
March. Enter Warwick, Marquess Montague, and their
army, ⌜all wearing the white rose.⌝
0693 How now, fair lords? What fare, what news abroad?
0694 Great lord of Warwick, if we should recount
0695 Our baleful news, and at each word’s deliverance
0696 100 Stab poniards in our flesh till all were told,
0697 The words would add more anguish than the wounds.
0698 O valiant lord, the Duke of York is slain.
0699 O Warwick, Warwick, that Plantagenet
0700 Which held thee dearly as his soul’s redemption
0701 105 Is by the stern Lord Clifford done to death.
0702 Ten days ago I drowned these news in tears.
0703 And now to add more measure to your woes,
p. 670704 I come to tell you things sith then befall’n.
0705 After the bloody fray at Wakefield fought,
0706 110 Where your brave father breathed his latest gasp,
0707 Tidings, as swiftly as the posts could run,
0708 Were brought me of your loss and his depart.
0709 I, then in London, keeper of the King,
0710 Mustered my soldiers, gathered flocks of friends,
0711 115 Marched toward Saint Albans to intercept the
0713 Bearing the King in my behalf along;
0714 For by my scouts I was advertisèd
0715 That she was coming with a full intent
0716 120 To dash our late decree in Parliament
0717 Touching King Henry’s oath and your succession.
0718 Short tale to make, we at Saint Albans met,
0719 Our battles joined, and both sides fiercely fought.
0720 But whether ’twas the coldness of the King,
0721 125 Who looked full gently on his warlike queen,
0722 That robbed my soldiers of their heated spleen,
0723 Or whether ’twas report of her success
0724 Or more than common fear of Clifford’s rigor,
0725 Who thunders to his captives blood and death,
0726 130 I cannot judge; but to conclude with truth,
0727 Their weapons like to lightning came and went;
0728 Our soldiers’, like the night owl’s lazy flight
0729 Or like ⌜an idle⌝ thresher with a flail,
0730 Fell gently down, as if they struck their friends.
0731 135 I cheered them up with justice of our cause,
0732 With promise of high pay and great rewards,
0733 But all in vain; they had no heart to fight,
0734 And we, in them, no hope to win the day,
0735 So that we fled: the King unto the Queen;
0736 140 Lord George your brother, Norfolk, and myself
0737 In haste, posthaste, are come to join with you;
0738 For in the Marches here we heard you were,
0739 Making another head to fight again.
0740 Where is the Duke of Norfolk, gentle Warwick?
0741 145 And when came George from Burgundy to England?
0742 Some six miles off the Duke is with the soldiers,
0743 And, for your brother, he was lately sent
0744 From your kind aunt, Duchess of Burgundy,
0745 With aid of soldiers to this needful war.
0746 150 ’Twas odds, belike, when valiant Warwick fled.
0747 Oft have I heard his praises in pursuit,
0748 But ne’er till now his scandal of retire.
0749 Nor now my scandal, Richard, dost thou hear?
0750 For thou shalt know this strong right hand of mine
0751 155 Can pluck the diadem from faint Henry’s head
0752 And wring the awful scepter from his fist,
0753 Were he as famous and as bold in war
0754 As he is famed for mildness, peace, and prayer.
0755 I know it well, Lord Warwick; blame me not.
0756 160 ’Tis love I bear thy glories make me speak.
0757 But in this troublous time, what’s to be done?
0758 Shall we go throw away our coats of steel
0759 And wrap our bodies in black mourning gowns,
0760 Numb’ring our Ave Marys with our beads?
0761 165 Or shall we on the helmets of our foes
0762 Tell our devotion with revengeful arms?
0763 If for the last, say “Ay,” and to it, lords.
0764 Why, therefore Warwick came to seek you out,
0765 And therefore comes my brother Montague.
0766 170 Attend me, lords: the proud insulting queen,
0767 With Clifford and the haught Northumberland
0768 And of their feather many more proud birds,
0769 Have wrought the easy-melting king like wax.
p. 710770 He swore consent to your succession,
0771 175 His oath enrollèd in the Parliament.
0772 And now to London all the crew are gone
0773 To frustrate both his oath and what beside
0774 May make against the house of Lancaster.
0775 Their power, I think, is thirty thousand strong.
0776 180 Now, if the help of Norfolk and myself,
0777 With all the friends that thou, brave Earl of March,
0778 Amongst the loving Welshmen canst procure,
0779 Will but amount to five and twenty thousand,
0780 Why, via, to London will we march,
0781 185 And once again bestride our foaming steeds,
0782 And once again cry “Charge!” upon our foes,
0783 But never once again turn back and fly.
0784 Ay, now methinks I hear great Warwick speak.
0785 Ne’er may he live to see a sunshine day
0786 190 That cries “Retire!” if Warwick bid him stay.
0787 Lord Warwick, on thy shoulder will I lean,
0788 And when thou fail’st—as God forbid the hour!—
0789 Must Edward fall, which peril heaven forfend.
0790 No longer Earl of March, but Duke of York;
0791 195 The next degree is England’s royal throne:
0792 For King of England shalt thou be proclaimed
0793 In every borough as we pass along,
0794 And he that throws not up his cap for joy
0795 Shall for the fault make forfeit of his head.
0796 200 King Edward, valiant Richard, Montague,
0797 Stay we no longer dreaming of renown,
0798 But sound the trumpets and about our task.
0799 Then, Clifford, were thy heart as hard as steel,
0800 As thou hast shown it flinty by thy deeds,
0801 205 I come to pierce it or to give thee mine.
0802 Then strike up drums! God and Saint George for us!
Enter a Messenger.
WARWICK 0803 How now, what news?
0804 The Duke of Norfolk sends you word by me,
0805 The Queen is coming with a puissant host,
0806 210 And craves your company for speedy counsel.
0807 Why, then it sorts. Brave warriors, let’s away!
They all exit.