Open Source Shakespeare

History of Henry VI, Part III

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Act I, Scene 2

Sandal Castle.



  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Brother, though I be youngest, give me leave.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). No, I can better play the orator. 295
  • Marquess of Montague. But I have reasons strong and forcible.

[Enter YORK]

  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Why, how now, sons and brother! at a strife?
    What is your quarrel? how began it first?
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). No quarrel, but a slight contention. 300
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). About what?
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). About that which concerns your grace and us;
    The crown of England, father, which is yours.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Mine boy? not till King Henry be dead.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Your right depends not on his life or death. 305
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Now you are heir, therefore enjoy it now:
    By giving the house of Lancaster leave to breathe,
    It will outrun you, father, in the end.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). I took an oath that he should quietly reign.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). But for a kingdom any oath may be broken: 310
    I would break a thousand oaths to reign one year.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). No; God forbid your grace should be forsworn.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). I shall be, if I claim by open war.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). I'll prove the contrary, if you'll hear me speak.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Thou canst not, son; it is impossible. 315
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). An oath is of no moment, being not took
    Before a true and lawful magistrate,
    That hath authority over him that swears:
    Henry had none, but did usurp the place;
    Then, seeing 'twas he that made you to depose, 320
    Your oath, my lord, is vain and frivolous.
    Therefore, to arms! And, father, do but think
    How sweet a thing it is to wear a crown;
    Within whose circuit is Elysium
    And all that poets feign of bliss and joy. 325
    Why do we finger thus? I cannot rest
    Until the white rose that I wear be dyed
    Even in the lukewarm blood of Henry's heart.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Richard, enough; I will be king, or die.
    Brother, thou shalt to London presently, 330
    And whet on Warwick to this enterprise.
    Thou, Richard, shalt to the Duke of Norfolk,
    And tell him privily of our intent.
    You Edward, shall unto my Lord Cobham,
    With whom the Kentishmen will willingly rise: 335
    In them I trust; for they are soldiers,
    Witty, courteous, liberal, full of spirit.
    While you are thus employ'd, what resteth more,
    But that I seek occasion how to rise,
    And yet the king not privy to my drift, 340
    Nor any of the house of Lancaster?
    [Enter a Messenger]
    But, stay: what news? Why comest thou in such post?
  • Messenger. The queen with all the northern earls and lords
    Intend here to besiege you in your castle: 345
    She is hard by with twenty thousand men;
    And therefore fortify your hold, my lord.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Ay, with my sword. What! think'st thou that we fear them?
    Edward and Richard, you shall stay with me;
    My brother Montague shall post to London: 350
    Let noble Warwick, Cobham, and the rest,
    Whom we have left protectors of the king,
    With powerful policy strengthen themselves,
    And trust not simple Henry nor his oaths.
  • Marquess of Montague. Brother, I go; I'll win them, fear it not: 355
    And thus most humbly I do take my leave.
    Sir John and Sir Hugh Mortimer, mine uncles,
    You are come to Sandal in a happy hour; 360
    The army of the queen mean to besiege us.
  • Sir John Mortimer. She shall not need; we'll meet her in the field.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). What, with five thousand men?
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Ay, with five hundred, father, for a need:
    A woman's general; what should we fear? 365

[A march afar off]

  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). I hear their drums: let's set our men in order,
    And issue forth and bid them battle straight.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). Five men to twenty! though the odds be great,
    I doubt not, uncle, of our victory. 370
    Many a battle have I won in France,
    When as the enemy hath been ten to one:
    Why should I not now have the like success?

[Alarum. Exeunt]