Open Source Shakespeare

History of Henry VI, Part III

Act II

Scene 1. A plain near Mortimer’s Cross in Herefordshire.

Scene 2. Before York.

Scene 3. A field of battle between Towton and Saxton, in

Scene 4. Another part of the field.

Scene 5. Another part of the field.

Scene 6. Another part of the field.

• To print this text, click here
• To save this text, go to your browser's File menu, then select Save As


Act II, Scene 1

A plain near Mortimer’s Cross in Herefordshire.


[A march. Enter EDWARD, RICHARD, and their power]

  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). I wonder how our princely father 'scaped,
    Or whether he be 'scaped away or no
    From Clifford's and Northumberland's pursuit:
    Had he been ta'en, we should have heard the news; 630
    Had he been slain, we should have heard the news;
    Or had he 'scaped, methinks we should have heard
    The happy tidings of his good escape.
    How fares my brother? why is he so sad?
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). I cannot joy, until I be resolved 635
    Where our right valiant father is become.
    I saw him in the battle range about;
    And watch'd him how he singled Clifford forth.
    Methought he bore him in the thickest troop
    As doth a lion in a herd of neat; 640
    Or as a bear, encompass'd round with dogs,
    Who having pinch'd a few and made them cry,
    The rest stand all aloof, and bark at him.
    So fared our father with his enemies;
    So fled his enemies my warlike father: 645
    Methinks, 'tis prize enough to be his son.
    See how the morning opes her golden gates,
    And takes her farewell of the glorious sun!
    How well resembles it the prime of youth,
    Trimm'd like a younker prancing to his love! 650
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Dazzle mine eyes, or do I see three suns?
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Three glorious suns, each one a perfect sun;
    Not separated with the racking clouds,
    But sever'd in a pale clear-shining sky.
    See, see! they join, embrace, and seem to kiss, 655
    As if they vow'd some league inviolable:
    Now are they but one lamp, one light, one sun.
    In this the heaven figures some event.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). 'Tis wondrous strange, the like yet never heard of.
    I think it cites us, brother, to the field, 660
    That we, the sons of brave Plantagenet,
    Each one already blazing by our meeds,
    Should notwithstanding join our lights together
    And over-shine the earth as this the world.
    Whate'er it bodes, henceforward will I bear 665
    Upon my target three fair-shining suns.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Nay, bear three daughters: by your leave I speak it,
    You love the breeder better than the male.
    [Enter a Messenger]
    But what art thou, whose heavy looks foretell 670
    Some dreadful story hanging on thy tongue?
  • Messenger. Ah, one that was a woful looker-on
    When as the noble Duke of York was slain,
    Your princely father and my loving lord!
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). O, speak no more, for I have heard too much. 675
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Say how he died, for I will hear it all.
  • Messenger. Environed he was with many foes,
    And stood against them, as the hope of Troy
    Against the Greeks that would have enter'd Troy.
    But Hercules himself must yield to odds; 680
    And many strokes, though with a little axe,
    Hew down and fell the hardest-timber'd oak.
    By many hands your father was subdued;
    But only slaughter'd by the ireful arm
    Of unrelenting Clifford and the queen, 685
    Who crown'd the gracious duke in high despite,
    Laugh'd in his face; and when with grief he wept,
    The ruthless queen gave him to dry his cheeks
    A napkin steeped in the harmless blood
    Of sweet young Rutland, by rough Clifford slain: 690
    And after many scorns, many foul taunts,
    They took his head, and on the gates of York
    They set the same; and there it doth remain,
    The saddest spectacle that e'er I view'd.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Sweet Duke of York, our prop to lean upon, 695
    Now thou art gone, we have no staff, no stay.
    O Clifford, boisterous Clifford! thou hast slain
    The flower of Europe for his chivalry;
    And treacherously hast thou vanquish'd him,
    For hand to hand he would have vanquish'd thee. 700
    Now my soul's palace is become a prison:
    Ah, would she break from hence, that this my body
    Might in the ground be closed up in rest!
    For never henceforth shall I joy again,
    Never, O never shall I see more joy! 705
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). I cannot weep; for all my body's moisture
    Scarce serves to quench my furnace-burning heart:
    Nor can my tongue unload my heart's great burthen;
    For selfsame wind that I should speak withal
    Is kindling coals that fires all my breast, 710
    And burns me up with flames that tears would quench.
    To weep is to make less the depth of grief:
    Tears then for babes; blows and revenge for me
    Richard, I bear thy name; I'll venge thy death,
    Or die renowned by attempting it. 715
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). His name that valiant duke hath left with thee;
    His dukedom and his chair with me is left.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Nay, if thou be that princely eagle's bird,
    Show thy descent by gazing 'gainst the sun:
    For chair and dukedom, throne and kingdom say; 720
    Either that is thine, or else thou wert not his.

[March. Enter WARWICK, MONTAGUE, and their army]

  • Earl of Warwick. How now, fair lords! What fare? what news abroad?
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Great Lord of Warwick, if we should recount
    Our baleful news, and at each word's deliverance 725
    Stab poniards in our flesh till all were told,
    The words would add more anguish than the wounds.
    O valiant lord, the Duke of York is slain!
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). O Warwick, Warwick! that Plantagenet,
    Which held three dearly as his soul's redemption, 730
    Is by the stern Lord Clifford done to death.
  • Earl of Warwick. Ten days ago I drown'd these news in tears;
    And now, to add more measure to your woes,
    I come to tell you things sith then befall'n.
    After the bloody fray at Wakefield fought, 735
    Where your brave father breathed his latest gasp,
    Tidings, as swiftly as the posts could run,
    Were brought me of your loss and his depart.
    I, then in London keeper of the king,
    Muster'd my soldiers, gather'd flocks of friends, 740
    And very well appointed, as I thought,
    March'd toward Saint Alban's to intercept the queen,
    Bearing the king in my behalf along;
    For by my scouts I was advertised
    That she was coming with a full intent 745
    To dash our late decree in parliament
    Touching King Henry's oath and your succession.
    Short tale to make, we at Saint Alban's met
    Our battles join'd, and both sides fiercely fought:
    But whether 'twas the coldness of the king, 750
    Who look'd full gently on his warlike queen,
    That robb'd my soldiers of their heated spleen;
    Or whether 'twas report of her success;
    Or more than common fear of Clifford's rigour,
    Who thunders to his captives blood and death, 755
    I cannot judge: but to conclude with truth,
    Their weapons like to lightning came and went;
    Our soldiers', like the night-owl's lazy flight,
    Or like an idle thresher with a flail,
    Fell gently down, as if they struck their friends. 760
    I cheer'd them up with justice of our cause,
    With promise of high pay and great rewards:
    But all in vain; they had no heart to fight,
    And we in them no hope to win the day;
    So that we fled; the king unto the queen; 765
    Lord George your brother, Norfolk and myself,
    In haste, post-haste, are come to join with you:
    For in the marches here we heard you were,
    Making another head to fight again.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Where is the Duke of Norfolk, gentle Warwick? 770
    And when came George from Burgundy to England?
  • Earl of Warwick. Some six miles off the duke is with the soldiers;
    And for your brother, he was lately sent
    From your kind aunt, Duchess of Burgundy,
    With aid of soldiers to this needful war. 775
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). 'Twas odds, belike, when valiant Warwick fled:
    Oft have I heard his praises in pursuit,
    But ne'er till now his scandal of retire.
  • Earl of Warwick. Nor now my scandal, Richard, dost thou hear;
    For thou shalt know this strong right hand of mine 780
    Can pluck the diadem from faint Henry's head,
    And wring the awful sceptre from his fist,
    Were he as famous and as bold in war
    As he is famed for mildness, peace, and prayer.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). I know it well, Lord Warwick; blame me not: 785
    'Tis love I bear thy glories makes me speak.
    But in this troublous time what's to be done?
    Shall we go throw away our coats of steel,
    And wrap our bodies in black mourning gowns,
    Numbering our Ave-Maries with our beads? 790
    Or shall we on the helmets of our foes
    Tell our devotion with revengeful arms?
    If for the last, say ay, and to it, lords.
  • Earl of Warwick. Why, therefore Warwick came to seek you out;
    And therefore comes my brother Montague. 795
    Attend me, lords. The proud insulting queen,
    With Clifford and the haught Northumberland,
    And of their feather many more proud birds,
    Have wrought the easy-melting king like wax.
    He swore consent to your succession, 800
    His oath enrolled in the parliament;
    And now to London all the crew are gone,
    To frustrate both his oath and what beside
    May make against the house of Lancaster.
    Their power, I think, is thirty thousand strong: 805
    Now, if the help of Norfolk and myself,
    With all the friends that thou, brave Earl of March,
    Amongst the loving Welshmen canst procure,
    Will but amount to five and twenty thousand,
    Why, Via! to London will we march amain, 810
    And once again bestride our foaming steeds,
    And once again cry 'Charge upon our foes!'
    But never once again turn back and fly.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Ay, now methinks I hear great Warwick speak:
    Ne'er may he live to see a sunshine day, 815
    That cries 'Retire,' if Warwick bid him stay.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Lord Warwick, on thy shoulder will I lean;
    And when thou fail'st—as God forbid the hour!—
    Must Edward fall, which peril heaven forfend!
  • Earl of Warwick. No longer Earl of March, but Duke of York: 820
    The next degree is England's royal throne;
    For King of England shalt thou be proclaim'd
    In every borough as we pass along;
    And he that throws not up his cap for joy
    Shall for the fault make forfeit of his head. 825
    King Edward, valiant Richard, Montague,
    Stay we no longer, dreaming of renown,
    But sound the trumpets, and about our task.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Then, Clifford, were thy heart as hard as steel,
    As thou hast shown it flinty by thy deeds, 830
    I come to pierce it, or to give thee mine.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Then strike up drums: God and Saint George for us!

[Enter a Messenger]

  • Earl of Warwick. How now! what news?
  • Messenger. The Duke of Norfolk sends you word by me, 835
    The queen is coming with a puissant host;
    And craves your company for speedy counsel.
  • Earl of Warwick. Why then it sorts, brave warriors, let's away.



Act II, Scene 2

Before York.


[Flourish. Enter KING HENRY VI, QUEEN MARGARET,] [p]PRINCE EDWARD, CLIFFORD, and NORTHUMBERLAND, with [p]drum and trumpets]

  • Queen Margaret. Welcome, my lord, to this brave town of York.
    Yonder's the head of that arch-enemy
    That sought to be encompass'd with your crown: 845
    Doth not the object cheer your heart, my lord?
  • Henry VI. Ay, as the rocks cheer them that fear their wreck:
    To see this sight, it irks my very soul.
    Withhold revenge, dear God! 'tis not my fault,
    Nor wittingly have I infringed my vow. 850
  • Lord Clifford. My gracious liege, this too much lenity
    And harmful pity must be laid aside.
    To whom do lions cast their gentle looks?
    Not to the beast that would usurp their den.
    Whose hand is that the forest bear doth lick? 855
    Not his that spoils her young before her face.
    Who 'scapes the lurking serpent's mortal sting?
    Not he that sets his foot upon her back.
    The smallest worm will turn being trodden on,
    And doves will peck in safeguard of their brood. 860
    Ambitious York doth level at thy crown,
    Thou smiling while he knit his angry brows:
    He, but a duke, would have his son a king,
    And raise his issue, like a loving sire;
    Thou, being a king, blest with a goodly son, 865
    Didst yield consent to disinherit him,
    Which argued thee a most unloving father.
    Unreasonable creatures feed their young;
    And though man's face be fearful to their eyes,
    Yet, in protection of their tender ones, 870
    Who hath not seen them, even with those wings
    Which sometime they have used with fearful flight,
    Make war with him that climb'd unto their nest,
    Offer their own lives in their young's defence?
    For shame, my liege, make them your precedent! 875
    Were it not pity that this goodly boy
    Should lose his birthright by his father's fault,
    And long hereafter say unto his child,
    'What my great-grandfather and his grandsire got
    My careless father fondly gave away'? 880
    Ah, what a shame were this! Look on the boy;
    And let his manly face, which promiseth
    Successful fortune, steel thy melting heart
    To hold thine own and leave thine own with him.
  • Henry VI. Full well hath Clifford play'd the orator, 885
    Inferring arguments of mighty force.
    But, Clifford, tell me, didst thou never hear
    That things ill-got had ever bad success?
    And happy always was it for that son
    Whose father for his hoarding went to hell? 890
    I'll leave my son my virtuous deeds behind;
    And would my father had left me no more!
    For all the rest is held at such a rate
    As brings a thousand-fold more care to keep
    Than in possession and jot of pleasure. 895
    Ah, cousin York! would thy best friends did know
    How it doth grieve me that thy head is here!
  • Queen Margaret. My lord, cheer up your spirits: our foes are nigh,
    And this soft courage makes your followers faint.
    You promised knighthood to our forward son: 900
    Unsheathe your sword, and dub him presently.
    Edward, kneel down.
  • Henry VI. Edward Plantagenet, arise a knight;
    And learn this lesson, draw thy sword in right.
  • Prince Edward. My gracious father, by your kingly leave, 905
    I'll draw it as apparent to the crown,
    And in that quarrel use it to the death.
  • Lord Clifford. Why, that is spoken like a toward prince.

[Enter a Messenger]

  • Messenger. Royal commanders, be in readiness: 910
    For with a band of thirty thousand men
    Comes Warwick, backing of the Duke of York;
    And in the towns, as they do march along,
    Proclaims him king, and many fly to him:
    Darraign your battle, for they are at hand. 915
  • Lord Clifford. I would your highness would depart the field:
    The queen hath best success when you are absent.
  • Queen Margaret. Ay, good my lord, and leave us to our fortune.
  • Henry VI. Why, that's my fortune too; therefore I'll stay.
  • Earl of Northumberland. Be it with resolution then to fight. 920
  • Prince Edward. My royal father, cheer these noble lords
    And hearten those that fight in your defence:
    Unsheathe your sword, good father; cry 'Saint George!'
    NORFOLK, MONTAGUE, and Soldiers] 925
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Now, perjured Henry! wilt thou kneel for grace,
    And set thy diadem upon my head;
    Or bide the mortal fortune of the field?
  • Queen Margaret. Go, rate thy minions, proud insulting boy!
    Becomes it thee to be thus bold in terms 930
    Before thy sovereign and thy lawful king?
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). I am his king, and he should bow his knee;
    I was adopted heir by his consent:
    Since when, his oath is broke; for, as I hear,
    You, that are king, though he do wear the crown, 935
    Have caused him, by new act of parliament,
    To blot out me, and put his own son in.
  • Lord Clifford. And reason too:
    Who should succeed the father but the son?
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Are you there, butcher? O, I cannot speak! 940
  • Lord Clifford. Ay, crook-back, here I stand to answer thee,
    Or any he the proudest of thy sort.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). 'Twas you that kill'd young Rutland, was it not?
  • Lord Clifford. Ay, and old York, and yet not satisfied.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). For God's sake, lords, give signal to the fight. 945
  • Earl of Warwick. What say'st thou, Henry, wilt thou yield the crown?
  • Queen Margaret. Why, how now, long-tongued Warwick! dare you speak?
    When you and I met at Saint Alban's last,
    Your legs did better service than your hands.
  • Earl of Warwick. Then 'twas my turn to fly, and now 'tis thine. 950
  • Lord Clifford. You said so much before, and yet you fled.
  • Earl of Warwick. 'Twas not your valour, Clifford, drove me thence.
  • Earl of Northumberland. No, nor your manhood that durst make you stay.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Northumberland, I hold thee reverently.
    Break off the parley; for scarce I can refrain 955
    The execution of my big-swoln heart
    Upon that Clifford, that cruel child-killer.
  • Lord Clifford. I slew thy father, call'st thou him a child?
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Ay, like a dastard and a treacherous coward,
    As thou didst kill our tender brother Rutland; 960
    But ere sunset I'll make thee curse the deed.
  • Henry VI. Have done with words, my lords, and hear me speak.
  • Queen Margaret. Defy them then, or else hold close thy lips.
  • Henry VI. I prithee, give no limits to my tongue:
    I am a king, and privileged to speak. 965
  • Lord Clifford. My liege, the wound that bred this meeting here
    Cannot be cured by words; therefore be still.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Then, executioner, unsheathe thy sword:
    By him that made us all, I am resolved
    that Clifford's manhood lies upon his tongue. 970
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Say, Henry, shall I have my right, or no?
    A thousand men have broke their fasts to-day,
    That ne'er shall dine unless thou yield the crown.
  • Earl of Warwick. If thou deny, their blood upon thy head;
    For York in justice puts his armour on. 975
  • Prince Edward. If that be right which Warwick says is right,
    There is no wrong, but every thing is right.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Whoever got thee, there thy mother stands;
    For, well I wot, thou hast thy mother's tongue.
  • Queen Margaret. But thou art neither like thy sire nor dam; 980
    But like a foul mis-shapen stigmatic,
    Mark'd by the destinies to be avoided,
    As venom toads, or lizards' dreadful stings.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Iron of Naples hid with English gilt,
    Whose father bears the title of a king,— 985
    As if a channel should be call'd the sea,—
    Shamest thou not, knowing whence thou art extraught,
    To let thy tongue detect thy base-born heart?
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). A wisp of straw were worth a thousand crowns,
    To make this shameless callet know herself. 990
    Helen of Greece was fairer far than thou,
    Although thy husband may be Menelaus;
    And ne'er was Agamemnon's brother wrong'd
    By that false woman, as this king by thee.
    His father revell'd in the heart of France, 995
    And tamed the king, and made the dauphin stoop;
    And had he match'd according to his state,
    He might have kept that glory to this day;
    But when he took a beggar to his bed,
    And graced thy poor sire with his bridal-day, 1000
    Even then that sunshine brew'd a shower for him,
    That wash'd his father's fortunes forth of France,
    And heap'd sedition on his crown at home.
    For what hath broach'd this tumult but thy pride?
    Hadst thou been meek, our title still had slept; 1005
    And we, in pity of the gentle king,
    Had slipp'd our claim until another age.
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). But when we saw our sunshine made thy spring,
    And that thy summer bred us no increase,
    We set the axe to thy usurping root; 1010
    And though the edge hath something hit ourselves,
    Yet, know thou, since we have begun to strike,
    We'll never leave till we have hewn thee down,
    Or bathed thy growing with our heated bloods.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). And, in this resolution, I defy thee; 1015
    Not willing any longer conference,
    Since thou deniest the gentle king to speak.
    Sound trumpets! let our bloody colours wave!
    And either victory, or else a grave.
  • Queen Margaret. Stay, Edward. 1020
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). No, wrangling woman, we'll no longer stay:
    These words will cost ten thousand lives this day.



Act II, Scene 3

A field of battle between Towton and Saxton, in



[Alarum. Excursions. Enter WARWICK]

  • Earl of Warwick. Forspent with toil, as runners with a race,
    I lay me down a little while to breathe;
    For strokes received, and many blows repaid,
    Have robb'd my strong-knit sinews of their strength,
    And spite of spite needs must I rest awhile. 1030

[Enter EDWARD, running]

  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Smile, gentle heaven! or strike, ungentle death!
    For this world frowns, and Edward's sun is clouded.
  • Earl of Warwick. How now, my lord! what hap? what hope of good?

[Enter GEORGE]

  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). Our hap is loss, our hope but sad despair;
    Our ranks are broke, and ruin follows us:
    What counsel give you? whither shall we fly?
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Bootless is flight, they follow us with wings;
    And weak we are and cannot shun pursuit. 1040


  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Ah, Warwick, why hast thou withdrawn thyself?
    Thy brother's blood the thirsty earth hath drunk,
    Broach'd with the steely point of Clifford's lance;
    And in the very pangs of death he cried, 1045
    Like to a dismal clangour heard from far,
    'Warwick, revenge! brother, revenge my death!'
    So, underneath the belly of their steeds,
    That stain'd their fetlocks in his smoking blood,
    The noble gentleman gave up the ghost. 1050
  • Earl of Warwick. Then let the earth be drunken with our blood:
    I'll kill my horse, because I will not fly.
    Why stand we like soft-hearted women here,
    Wailing our losses, whiles the foe doth rage;
    And look upon, as if the tragedy 1055
    Were play'd in jest by counterfeiting actors?
    Here on my knee I vow to God above,
    I'll never pause again, never stand still,
    Till either death hath closed these eyes of mine
    Or fortune given me measure of revenge. 1060
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). O Warwick, I do bend my knee with thine;
    And in this vow do chain my soul to thine!
    And, ere my knee rise from the earth's cold face,
    I throw my hands, mine eyes, my heart to thee,
    Thou setter up and plucker down of kings, 1065
    Beseeching thee, if with they will it stands
    That to my foes this body must be prey,
    Yet that thy brazen gates of heaven may ope,
    And give sweet passage to my sinful soul!
    Now, lords, take leave until we meet again, 1070
    Where'er it be, in heaven or in earth.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Brother, give me thy hand; and, gentle Warwick,
    Let me embrace thee in my weary arms:
    I, that did never weep, now melt with woe
    That winter should cut off our spring-time so. 1075
  • Earl of Warwick. Away, away! Once more, sweet lords farewell.
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). Yet let us all together to our troops,
    And give them leave to fly that will not stay;
    And call them pillars that will stand to us;
    And, if we thrive, promise them such rewards 1080
    As victors wear at the Olympian games:
    This may plant courage in their quailing breasts;
    For yet is hope of life and victory.
    Forslow no longer, make we hence amain.



Act II, Scene 4

Another part of the field.


[Excursions. Enter RICHARD and CLIFFORD]

  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Now, Clifford, I have singled thee alone:
    Suppose this arm is for the Duke of York,
    And this for Rutland; both bound to revenge,
    Wert thou environ'd with a brazen wall. 1090
  • Lord Clifford. Now, Richard, I am with thee here alone:
    This is the hand that stabb'd thy father York;
    And this the hand that slew thy brother Rutland;
    And here's the heart that triumphs in their death
    And cheers these hands that slew thy sire and brother 1095
    To execute the like upon thyself;
    And so, have at thee!

[They fight. WARWICK comes; CLIFFORD flies]

  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Nay Warwick, single out some other chase;
    For I myself will hunt this wolf to death. 1100



Act II, Scene 5

Another part of the field.


[Alarum. Enter KING HENRY VI alone]

  • Henry VI. This battle fares like to the morning's war,
    When dying clouds contend with growing light,
    What time the shepherd, blowing of his nails, 1105
    Can neither call it perfect day nor night.
    Now sways it this way, like a mighty sea
    Forced by the tide to combat with the wind;
    Now sways it that way, like the selfsame sea
    Forced to retire by fury of the wind: 1110
    Sometime the flood prevails, and then the wind;
    Now one the better, then another best;
    Both tugging to be victors, breast to breast,
    Yet neither conqueror nor conquered:
    So is the equal of this fell war. 1115
    Here on this molehill will I sit me down.
    To whom God will, there be the victory!
    For Margaret my queen, and Clifford too,
    Have chid me from the battle; swearing both
    They prosper best of all when I am thence. 1120
    Would I were dead! if God's good will were so;
    For what is in this world but grief and woe?
    O God! methinks it were a happy life,
    To be no better than a homely swain;
    To sit upon a hill, as I do now, 1125
    To carve out dials quaintly, point by point,
    Thereby to see the minutes how they run,
    How many make the hour full complete;
    How many hours bring about the day;
    How many days will finish up the year; 1130
    How many years a mortal man may live.
    When this is known, then to divide the times:
    So many hours must I tend my flock;
    So many hours must I take my rest;
    So many hours must I contemplate; 1135
    So many hours must I sport myself;
    So many days my ewes have been with young;
    So many weeks ere the poor fools will ean:
    So many years ere I shall shear the fleece:
    So minutes, hours, days, months, and years, 1140
    Pass'd over to the end they were created,
    Would bring white hairs unto a quiet grave.
    Ah, what a life were this! how sweet! how lovely!
    Gives not the hawthorn-bush a sweeter shade
    To shepherds looking on their silly sheep, 1145
    Than doth a rich embroider'd canopy
    To kings that fear their subjects' treachery?
    O, yes, it doth; a thousand-fold it doth.
    And to conclude, the shepherd's homely curds,
    His cold thin drink out of his leather bottle. 1150
    His wonted sleep under a fresh tree's shade,
    All which secure and sweetly he enjoys,
    Is far beyond a prince's delicates,
    His viands sparkling in a golden cup,
    His body couched in a curious bed, 1155
    When care, mistrust, and treason waits on him.
    [Alarum. Enter a Son that has killed his father,]
    dragging in the dead body]
  • Son. Ill blows the wind that profits nobody.
    This man, whom hand to hand I slew in fight, 1160
    May be possessed with some store of crowns;
    And I, that haply take them from him now,
    May yet ere night yield both my life and them
    To some man else, as this dead man doth me.
    Who's this? O God! it is my father's face, 1165
    Whom in this conflict I unwares have kill'd.
    O heavy times, begetting such events!
    From London by the king was I press'd forth;
    My father, being the Earl of Warwick's man,
    Came on the part of York, press'd by his master; 1170
    And I, who at his hands received my life, him
    Have by my hands of life bereaved him.
    Pardon me, God, I knew not what I did!
    And pardon, father, for I knew not thee!
    My tears shall wipe away these bloody marks; 1175
    And no more words till they have flow'd their fill.
  • Henry VI. O piteous spectacle! O bloody times!
    Whiles lions war and battle for their dens,
    Poor harmless lambs abide their enmity.
    Weep, wretched man, I'll aid thee tear for tear; 1180
    And let our hearts and eyes, like civil war,
    Be blind with tears, and break o'ercharged with grief.

[Enter a Father that has killed his son, bringing in the body]

  • Father. Thou that so stoutly hast resisted me,
    Give me thy gold, if thou hast any gold: 1185
    For I have bought it with an hundred blows.
    But let me see: is this our foeman's face?
    Ah, no, no, no, it is mine only son!
    Ah, boy, if any life be left in thee,
    Throw up thine eye! see, see what showers arise, 1190
    Blown with the windy tempest of my heart,
    Upon thy words, that kill mine eye and heart!
    O, pity, God, this miserable age!
    What stratagems, how fell, how butcherly,
    Erroneous, mutinous and unnatural, 1195
    This deadly quarrel daily doth beget!
    O boy, thy father gave thee life too soon,
    And hath bereft thee of thy life too late!
  • Henry VI. Woe above woe! grief more than common grief!
    O that my death would stay these ruthful deeds! 1200
    O pity, pity, gentle heaven, pity!
    The red rose and the white are on his face,
    The fatal colours of our striving houses:
    The one his purple blood right well resembles;
    The other his pale cheeks, methinks, presenteth: 1205
    Wither one rose, and let the other flourish;
    If you contend, a thousand lives must wither.
  • Son. How will my mother for a father's death
    Take on with me and ne'er be satisfied!
  • Father. How will my wife for slaughter of my son 1210
    Shed seas of tears and ne'er be satisfied!
  • Henry VI. How will the country for these woful chances
    Misthink the king and not be satisfied!
  • Son. Was ever son so rued a father's death?
  • Father. Was ever father so bemoan'd his son? 1215
  • Henry VI. Was ever king so grieved for subjects' woe?
    Much is your sorrow; mine ten times so much.
  • Son. I'll bear thee hence, where I may weep my fill.

[Exit with the body]

  • Father. These arms of mine shall be thy winding-sheet; 1220
    My heart, sweet boy, shall be thy sepulchre,
    For from my heart thine image ne'er shall go;
    My sighing breast shall be thy funeral bell;
    And so obsequious will thy father be,
    Even for the loss of thee, having no more, 1225
    As Priam was for all his valiant sons.
    I'll bear thee hence; and let them fight that will,
    For I have murdered where I should not kill.

[Exit with the body]

  • Henry VI. Sad-hearted men, much overgone with care, 1230
    Here sits a king more woful than you are.
    [Alarums: excursions. Enter QUEEN MARGARET, PRINCE]
  • Prince Edward. Fly, father, fly! for all your friends are fled,
    And Warwick rages like a chafed bull: 1235
    Away! for death doth hold us in pursuit.
  • Queen Margaret. Mount you, my lord; towards Berwick post amain:
    Edward and Richard, like a brace of greyhounds
    Having the fearful flying hare in sight,
    With fiery eyes sparkling for very wrath, 1240
    And bloody steel grasp'd in their ireful hands,
    Are at our backs; and therefore hence amain.
  • Duke of Exeter. Away! for vengeance comes along with them:
    Nay, stay not to expostulate, make speed;
    Or else come after: I'll away before. 1245
  • Henry VI. Nay, take me with thee, good sweet Exeter:
    Not that I fear to stay, but love to go
    Whither the queen intends. Forward; away!



Act II, Scene 6

Another part of the field.


[A loud alarum. Enter CLIFFORD, wounded]

  • Lord Clifford. Here burns my candle out; ay, here it dies,
    Which, whiles it lasted, gave King Henry light.
    O Lancaster, I fear thy overthrow
    More than my body's parting with my soul!
    My love and fear glued many friends to thee; 1255
    And, now I fall, thy tough commixture melts.
    Impairing Henry, strengthening misproud York,
    The common people swarm like summer flies;
    And whither fly the gnats but to the sun?
    And who shines now but Henry's enemies? 1260
    O Phoebus, hadst thou never given consent
    That Phaethon should cheque thy fiery steeds,
    Thy burning car never had scorch'd the earth!
    And, Henry, hadst thou sway'd as kings should do,
    Or as thy father and his father did, 1265
    Giving no ground unto the house of York,
    They never then had sprung like summer flies;
    I and ten thousand in this luckless realm
    Had left no mourning widows for our death;
    And thou this day hadst kept thy chair in peace. 1270
    For what doth cherish weeds but gentle air?
    And what makes robbers bold but too much lenity?
    Bootless are plaints, and cureless are my wounds;
    No way to fly, nor strength to hold out flight:
    The foe is merciless, and will not pity; 1275
    For at their hands I have deserved no pity.
    The air hath got into my deadly wounds,
    And much effuse of blood doth make me faint.
    Come, York and Richard, Warwick and the rest;
    I stabb'd your fathers' bosoms, split my breast. 1280
    [He faints]
    [Alarum and retreat. Enter EDWARD, GEORGE, RICHARD,]
    MONTAGUE, WARWICK, and Soldiers]
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Now breathe we, lords: good fortune bids us pause,
    And smooth the frowns of war with peaceful looks. 1285
    Some troops pursue the bloody-minded queen,
    That led calm Henry, though he were a king,
    As doth a sail, fill'd with a fretting gust,
    Command an argosy to stem the waves.
    But think you, lords, that Clifford fled with them? 1290
  • Earl of Warwick. No, 'tis impossible he should escape,
    For, though before his face I speak the words
    Your brother Richard mark'd him for the grave:
    And wheresoe'er he is, he's surely dead.

[CLIFFORD groans, and dies]EDWARD. Whose soul is that which takes her heavy leave?

  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). A deadly groan, like life and death's departing.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). See who it is: and, now the battle's ended,
    If friend or foe, let him be gently used.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Revoke that doom of mercy, for 'tis Clifford;
    Who not contented that he lopp'd the branch 1300
    In hewing Rutland when his leaves put forth,
    But set his murdering knife unto the root
    From whence that tender spray did sweetly spring,
    I mean our princely father, Duke of York.
  • Earl of Warwick. From off the gates of York fetch down the head, 1305
    Your father's head, which Clifford placed there;
    Instead whereof let this supply the room:
    Measure for measure must be answered.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Bring forth that fatal screech-owl to our house,
    That nothing sung but death to us and ours: 1310
    Now death shall stop his dismal threatening sound,
    And his ill-boding tongue no more shall speak.
  • Earl of Warwick. I think his understanding is bereft.
    Speak, Clifford, dost thou know who speaks to thee?
    Dark cloudy death o'ershades his beams of life, 1315
    And he nor sees nor hears us what we say.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). O, would he did! and so perhaps he doth:
    'Tis but his policy to counterfeit,
    Because he would avoid such bitter taunts
    Which in the time of death he gave our father. 1320
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). If so thou think'st, vex him with eager words.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Clifford, ask mercy and obtain no grace.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Clifford, repent in bootless penitence.
  • Earl of Warwick. Clifford, devise excuses for thy faults.
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). While we devise fell tortures for thy faults. 1325
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Thou didst love York, and I am son to York.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Thou pitied'st Rutland; I will pity thee.
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). Where's Captain Margaret, to fence you now?
  • Earl of Warwick. They mock thee, Clifford: swear as thou wast wont.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). What, not an oath? nay, then the world goes hard 1330
    When Clifford cannot spare his friends an oath.
    I know by that he's dead; and, by my soul,
    If this right hand would buy two hour's life,
    That I in all despite might rail at him,
    This hand should chop it off, and with the 1335
    issuing blood
    Stifle the villain whose unstanched thirst
    York and young Rutland could not satisfy.
  • Earl of Warwick. Ay, but he's dead: off with the traitor's head,
    And rear it in the place your father's stands. 1340
    And now to London with triumphant march,
    There to be crowned England's royal king:
    From whence shall Warwick cut the sea to France,
    And ask the Lady Bona for thy queen:
    So shalt thou sinew both these lands together; 1345
    And, having France thy friend, thou shalt not dread
    The scatter'd foe that hopes to rise again;
    For though they cannot greatly sting to hurt,
    Yet look to have them buzz to offend thine ears.
    First will I see the coronation; 1350
    And then to Brittany I'll cross the sea,
    To effect this marriage, so it please my lord.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Even as thou wilt, sweet Warwick, let it be;
    For in thy shoulder do I build my seat,
    And never will I undertake the thing 1355
    Wherein thy counsel and consent is wanting.
    Richard, I will create thee Duke of Gloucester,
    And George, of Clarence: Warwick, as ourself,
    Shall do and undo as him pleaseth best.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Let me be Duke of Clarence, George of Gloucester; 1360
    For Gloucester's dukedom is too ominous.
  • Earl of Warwick. Tut, that's a foolish observation:
    Richard, be Duke of Gloucester. Now to London,
    To see these honours in possession.