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History of Henry VI, Part I

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Act III, Scene 1

London. The Parliament-house.


[Flourish. Enter KING HENRY VI, EXETER, GLOUCESTER,] [p]WARWICK, SOMERSET, and SUFFOLK; the BISHOP OF [p]WINCHESTER, RICHARD PLANTAGENET, and others. [p]GLOUCESTER offers to put up a bill; BISHOP OF [p]WINCHESTER snatches it, and tears it]

  • Winchester. Comest thou with deep premeditated lines,
    With written pamphlets studiously devised,
    Humphrey of Gloucester? If thou canst accuse,
    Or aught intend'st to lay unto my charge,
    Do it without invention, suddenly; 1225
    As I with sudden and extemporal speech
    Purpose to answer what thou canst object.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Presumptuous priest! this place commands my patience,
    Or thou shouldst find thou hast dishonour'd me.
    Think not, although in writing I preferr'd 1230
    The manner of thy vile outrageous crimes,
    That therefore I have forged, or am not able
    Verbatim to rehearse the method of my pen:
    No, prelate; such is thy audacious wickedness,
    Thy lewd, pestiferous and dissentious pranks, 1235
    As very infants prattle of thy pride.
    Thou art a most pernicious usurer,
    Forward by nature, enemy to peace;
    Lascivious, wanton, more than well beseems
    A man of thy profession and degree; 1240
    And for thy treachery, what's more manifest?
    In that thou laid'st a trap to take my life,
    As well at London bridge as at the Tower.
    Beside, I fear me, if thy thoughts were sifted,
    The king, thy sovereign, is not quite exempt 1245
    From envious malice of thy swelling heart.
  • Winchester. Gloucester, I do defy thee. Lords, vouchsafe
    To give me hearing what I shall reply.
    If I were covetous, ambitious or perverse,
    As he will have me, how am I so poor? 1250
    Or how haps it I seek not to advance
    Or raise myself, but keep my wonted calling?
    And for dissension, who preferreth peace
    More than I do?—except I be provoked.
    No, my good lords, it is not that offends; 1255
    It is not that that hath incensed the duke:
    It is, because no one should sway but he;
    No one but he should be about the king;
    And that engenders thunder in his breast
    And makes him roar these accusations forth. 1260
    But he shall know I am as good—
  • Winchester. Ay, lordly sir; for what are you, I pray,
    But one imperious in another's throne? 1265
  • Winchester. And am not I a prelate of the church?
  • Duke of Gloucester. Yes, as an outlaw in a castle keeps
    And useth it to patronage his theft.
  • Earl of Warwick. Methinks his lordship should be humbler;
    it fitteth not a prelate so to plead. 1280
  • Earl of Warwick. State holy or unhallow'd, what of that?
    Is not his grace protector to the king?
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). [Aside] Plantagenet, I see, must hold his tongue, 1285
    Lest it be said 'Speak, sirrah, when you should;
    Must your bold verdict enter talk with lords?'
    Else would I have a fling at Winchester.
  • Henry VI. Uncles of Gloucester and of Winchester,
    The special watchmen of our English weal, 1290
    I would prevail, if prayers might prevail,
    To join your hearts in love and amity.
    O, what a scandal is it to our crown,
    That two such noble peers as ye should jar!
    Believe me, lords, my tender years can tell 1295
    Civil dissension is a viperous worm
    That gnaws the bowels of the commonwealth.
    [A noise within, 'Down with the tawny-coats!']
    What tumult's this?
  • Earl of Warwick. An uproar, I dare warrant, 1300
    Begun through malice of the bishop's men.

[A noise again, 'Stones! stones!' Enter Mayor]

  • Lord Mayor of London. O, my good lords, and virtuous Henry,
    Pity the city of London, pity us!
    The bishop and the Duke of Gloucester's men, 1305
    Forbidden late to carry any weapon,
    Have fill'd their pockets full of pebble stones
    And banding themselves in contrary parts
    Do pelt so fast at one another's pate
    That many have their giddy brains knock'd out: 1310
    Our windows are broke down in every street
    And we for fear compell'd to shut our shops.

[Enter Serving-men, in skirmish, with bloody pates]

  • Henry VI. We charge you, on allegiance to ourself,
    To hold your slaughtering hands and keep the peace. 1315
    Pray, uncle Gloucester, mitigate this strife.

[Skirmish again]

  • Duke of Gloucester. You of my household, leave this peevish broil
    And set this unaccustom'd fight aside.
  • Third Serving-Man. My lord, we know your grace to be a man
    Just and upright; and, for your royal birth,
    Inferior to none but to his majesty: 1325
    And ere that we will suffer such a prince,
    So kind a father of the commonweal,
    To be disgraced by an inkhorn mate,
    We and our wives and children all will fight
    And have our bodies slaughtered by thy foes. 1330
  • First Serving-Man. Ay, and the very parings of our nails
    Shall pitch a field when we are dead.

[Begin again]

  • Duke of Gloucester. Stay, stay, I say!
    And if you love me, as you say you do, 1335
    Let me persuade you to forbear awhile.
  • Henry VI. O, how this discord doth afflict my soul!
    Can you, my Lord of Winchester, behold
    My sighs and tears and will not once relent?
    Who should be pitiful, if you be not? 1340
    Or who should study to prefer a peace.
    If holy churchmen take delight in broils?
  • Earl of Warwick. Yield, my lord protector; yield, Winchester;
    Except you mean with obstinate repulse
    To slay your sovereign and destroy the realm. 1345
    You see what mischief and what murder too
    Hath been enacted through your enmity;
    Then be at peace except ye thirst for blood.
  • Winchester. He shall submit, or I will never yield.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Compassion on the king commands me stoop; 1350
    Or I would see his heart out, ere the priest
    Should ever get that privilege of me.
  • Earl of Warwick. Behold, my Lord of Winchester, the duke
    Hath banish'd moody discontented fury,
    As by his smoothed brows it doth appear: 1355
    Why look you still so stern and tragical?
  • Henry VI. Fie, uncle Beaufort! I have heard you preach
    That malice was a great and grievous sin;
    And will not you maintain the thing you teach, 1360
    But prove a chief offender in the same?
  • Earl of Warwick. Sweet king! the bishop hath a kindly gird.
    For shame, my lord of Winchester, relent!
    What, shall a child instruct you what to do?
  • Winchester. Well, Duke of Gloucester, I will yield to thee; 1365
    Love for thy love and hand for hand I give.
  • Duke of Gloucester. [Aside] Ay, but, I fear me, with a hollow heart.—
    See here, my friends and loving countrymen,
    This token serveth for a flag of truce
    Betwixt ourselves and all our followers: 1370
    So help me God, as I dissemble not!
  • Winchester. [Aside] So help me God, as I intend it not!
  • Henry VI. O, loving uncle, kind Duke of Gloucester,
    How joyful am I made by this contract!
    Away, my masters! trouble us no more; 1375
    But join in friendship, as your lords have done.

[Exeunt Serving-men, Mayor, &c]

  • Earl of Warwick. Accept this scroll, most gracious sovereign,
    Which in the right of Richard Plantagenet
    We do exhibit to your majesty.
  • Duke of Gloucester. Well urged, my Lord of Warwick: or sweet prince,
    And if your grace mark every circumstance, 1385
    You have great reason to do Richard right;
    Especially for those occasions
    At Eltham Place I told your majesty.
  • Henry VI. And those occasions, uncle, were of force:
    Therefore, my loving lords, our pleasure is 1390
    That Richard be restored to his blood.
  • Earl of Warwick. Let Richard be restored to his blood;
    So shall his father's wrongs be recompensed.
  • Winchester. As will the rest, so willeth Winchester.
  • Henry VI. If Richard will be true, not that alone 1395
    But all the whole inheritance I give
    That doth belong unto the house of York,
    From whence you spring by lineal descent.
  • Henry VI. Stoop then and set your knee against my foot;
    And, in reguerdon of that duty done,
    I gird thee with the valiant sword of York:
    Rise Richard, like a true Plantagenet, 1405
    And rise created princely Duke of York.
  • All. Welcome, high prince, the mighty Duke of York!
  • Duke of Gloucester. Now will it best avail your majesty
    To cross the seas and to be crown'd in France:
    The presence of a king engenders love 1415
    Amongst his subjects and his loyal friends,
    As it disanimates his enemies.
  • Henry VI. When Gloucester says the word, King Henry goes;
    For friendly counsel cuts off many foes.

[Sennet. Flourish. Exeunt all but EXETER]

  • Duke of Exeter. Ay, we may march in England or in France,
    Not seeing what is likely to ensue.
    This late dissension grown betwixt the peers
    Burns under feigned ashes of forged love 1425
    And will at last break out into a flame:
    As fester'd members rot but by degree,
    Till bones and flesh and sinews fall away,
    So will this base and envious discord breed.
    And now I fear that fatal prophecy 1430
    Which in the time of Henry named the Fifth
    Was in the mouth of every sucking babe;
    That Henry born at Monmouth should win all
    And Henry born at Windsor lose all:
    Which is so plain that Exeter doth wish 1435
    His days may finish ere that hapless time.