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History of Henry VI, Part III

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Act I, Scene 4

Another part of the field.


[Alarum. Enter YORK]

  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). The army of the queen hath got the field:
    My uncles both are slain in rescuing me;
    And all my followers to the eager foe
    Turn back and fly, like ships before the wind
    Or lambs pursued by hunger-starved wolves. 440
    My sons, God knows what hath bechanced them:
    But this I know, they have demean'd themselves
    Like men born to renown by life or death.
    Three times did Richard make a lane to me.
    And thrice cried 'Courage, father! fight it out!' 445
    And full as oft came Edward to my side,
    With purple falchion, painted to the hilt
    In blood of those that had encounter'd him:
    And when the hardiest warriors did retire,
    Richard cried 'Charge! and give no foot of ground!' 450
    And cried 'A crown, or else a glorious tomb!
    A sceptre, or an earthly sepulchre!'
    With this, we charged again: but, out, alas!
    We bodged again; as I have seen a swan
    With bootless labour swim against the tide 455
    And spend her strength with over-matching waves.
    [A short alarum within]
    Ah, hark! the fatal followers do pursue;
    And I am faint and cannot fly their fury:
    And were I strong, I would not shun their fury: 460
    The sands are number'd that make up my life;
    Here must I stay, and here my life must end.
    PRINCE EDWARD, and Soldiers]
    Come, bloody Clifford, rough Northumberland, 465
    I dare your quenchless fury to more rage:
    I am your butt, and I abide your shot.
  • Lord Clifford. Ay, to such mercy as his ruthless arm,
    With downright payment, show'd unto my father. 470
    Now Phaethon hath tumbled from his car,
    And made an evening at the noontide prick.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). My ashes, as the phoenix, may bring forth
    A bird that will revenge upon you all:
    And in that hope I throw mine eyes to heaven, 475
    Scorning whate'er you can afflict me with.
    Why come you not? what! multitudes, and fear?
  • Lord Clifford. So cowards fight when they can fly no further;
    So doves do peck the falcon's piercing talons;
    So desperate thieves, all hopeless of their lives, 480
    Breathe out invectives 'gainst the officers.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). O Clifford, but bethink thee once again,
    And in thy thought o'er-run my former time;
    And, if though canst for blushing, view this face,
    And bite thy tongue, that slanders him with cowardice 485
    Whose frown hath made thee faint and fly ere this!
  • Lord Clifford. I will not bandy with thee word for word,
    But buckle with thee blows, twice two for one.
  • Queen Margaret. Hold, valiant Clifford! for a thousand causes
    I would prolong awhile the traitor's life. 490
    Wrath makes him deaf: speak thou, Northumberland.
  • Earl of Northumberland. Hold, Clifford! do not honour him so much
    To prick thy finger, though to wound his heart:
    What valour were it, when a cur doth grin,
    For one to thrust his hand between his teeth, 495
    When he might spurn him with his foot away?
    It is war's prize to take all vantages;
    And ten to one is no impeach of valour.

[They lay hands on YORK, who struggles]

  • Queen Margaret. Brave warriors, Clifford and Northumberland, 505
    Come, make him stand upon this molehill here,
    That raught at mountains with outstretched arms,
    Yet parted but the shadow with his hand.
    What! was it you that would be England's king?
    Was't you that revell'd in our parliament, 510
    And made a preachment of your high descent?
    Where are your mess of sons to back you now?
    The wanton Edward, and the lusty George?
    And where's that valiant crook-back prodigy,
    Dicky your boy, that with his grumbling voice 515
    Was wont to cheer his dad in mutinies?
    Or, with the rest, where is your darling Rutland?
    Look, York: I stain'd this napkin with the blood
    That valiant Clifford, with his rapier's point,
    Made issue from the bosom of the boy; 520
    And if thine eyes can water for his death,
    I give thee this to dry thy cheeks withal.
    Alas poor York! but that I hate thee deadly,
    I should lament thy miserable state.
    I prithee, grieve, to make me merry, York. 525
    What, hath thy fiery heart so parch'd thine entrails
    That not a tear can fall for Rutland's death?
    Why art thou patient, man? thou shouldst be mad;
    And I, to make thee mad, do mock thee thus.
    Stamp, rave, and fret, that I may sing and dance. 530
    Thou wouldst be fee'd, I see, to make me sport:
    York cannot speak, unless he wear a crown.
    A crown for York! and, lords, bow low to him:
    Hold you his hands, whilst I do set it on.
    [Putting a paper crown on his head] 535
    Ay, marry, sir, now looks he like a king!
    Ay, this is he that took King Henry's chair,
    And this is he was his adopted heir.
    But how is it that great Plantagenet
    Is crown'd so soon, and broke his solemn oath? 540
    As I bethink me, you should not be king
    Till our King Henry had shook hands with death.
    And will you pale your head in Henry's glory,
    And rob his temples of the diadem,
    Now in his life, against your holy oath? 545
    O, 'tis a fault too too unpardonable!
    Off with the crown, and with the crown his head;
    And, whilst we breathe, take time to do him dead.
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). She-wolf of France, but worse than wolves of France,
    Whose tongue more poisons than the adder's tooth!
    How ill-beseeming is it in thy sex
    To triumph, like an Amazonian trull,
    Upon their woes whom fortune captivates! 555
    But that thy face is, vizard-like, unchanging,
    Made impudent with use of evil deeds,
    I would assay, proud queen, to make thee blush.
    To tell thee whence thou camest, of whom derived,
    Were shame enough to shame thee, wert thou not shameless. 560
    Thy father bears the type of King of Naples,
    Of both the Sicils and Jerusalem,
    Yet not so wealthy as an English yeoman.
    Hath that poor monarch taught thee to insult?
    It needs not, nor it boots thee not, proud queen, 565
    Unless the adage must be verified,
    That beggars mounted run their horse to death.
    'Tis beauty that doth oft make women proud;
    But, God he knows, thy share thereof is small:
    'Tis virtue that doth make them most admired; 570
    The contrary doth make thee wonder'd at:
    'Tis government that makes them seem divine;
    The want thereof makes thee abominable:
    Thou art as opposite to every good
    As the Antipodes are unto us, 575
    Or as the south to the septentrion.
    O tiger's heart wrapt in a woman's hide!
    How couldst thou drain the life-blood of the child,
    To bid the father wipe his eyes withal,
    And yet be seen to bear a woman's face? 580
    Women are soft, mild, pitiful and flexible;
    Thou stern, obdurate, flinty, rough, remorseless.
    Bids't thou me rage? why, now thou hast thy wish:
    Wouldst have me weep? why, now thou hast thy will:
    For raging wind blows up incessant showers, 585
    And when the rage allays, the rain begins.
    These tears are my sweet Rutland's obsequies:
    And every drop cries vengeance for his death,
    'Gainst thee, fell Clifford, and thee, false
    Frenchwoman. 590
  • Richard Plantagenet (Duke of Gloucester). That face of his the hungry cannibals
    Would not have touch'd, would not have stain'd with blood:
    But you are more inhuman, more inexorable, 595
    O, ten times more, than tigers of Hyrcania.
    See, ruthless queen, a hapless father's tears:
    This cloth thou dip'dst in blood of my sweet boy,
    And I with tears do wash the blood away.
    Keep thou the napkin, and go boast of this: 600
    And if thou tell'st the heavy story right,
    Upon my soul, the hearers will shed tears;
    Yea even my foes will shed fast-falling tears,
    And say 'Alas, it was a piteous deed!'
    There, take the crown, and, with the crown, my curse; 605
    And in thy need such comfort come to thee
    As now I reap at thy too cruel hand!
    Hard-hearted Clifford, take me from the world:
    My soul to heaven, my blood upon your heads!
  • Earl of Northumberland. Had he been slaughter-man to all my kin, 610
    I should not for my life but weep with him.
    To see how inly sorrow gripes his soul.
  • Queen Margaret. What, weeping-ripe, my Lord Northumberland?
    Think but upon the wrong he did us all,
    And that will quickly dry thy melting tears. 615
  • Lord Clifford. Here's for my oath, here's for my father's death.

[Stabbing him]

[Stabbing him]


  • Queen Margaret. Off with his head, and set it on York gates;
    So York may overlook the town of York.

[Flourish. Exeunt]