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History of Henry VI, Part III

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Act III, Scene 1

A forest in the north of England.


[Enter two Keepers, with cross-bows in their hands]

  • First Keeper. Under this thick-grown brake we'll shroud ourselves;
    For through this laund anon the deer will come;
    And in this covert will we make our stand,
    Culling the principal of all the deer. 1370
  • First Keeper. That cannot be; the noise of thy cross-bow
    Will scare the herd, and so my shoot is lost.
    Here stand we both, and aim we at the best:
    And, for the time shall not seem tedious, 1375
    I'll tell thee what befell me on a day
    In this self-place where now we mean to stand.

[Enter KING HENRY VI, disguised, with a prayerbook]

  • Henry VI. From Scotland am I stol'n, even of pure love, 1380
    To greet mine own land with my wishful sight.
    No, Harry, Harry, 'tis no land of thine;
    Thy place is fill'd, thy sceptre wrung from thee,
    Thy balm wash'd off wherewith thou wast anointed:
    No bending knee will call thee Caesar now, 1385
    No humble suitors press to speak for right,
    No, not a man comes for redress of thee;
    For how can I help them, and not myself?
  • First Keeper. Ay, here's a deer whose skin's a keeper's fee:
    This is the quondam king; let's seize upon him. 1390
  • Henry VI. Let me embrace thee, sour adversity,
    For wise men say it is the wisest course.
  • Henry VI. My queen and son are gone to France for aid; 1395
    And, as I hear, the great commanding Warwick
    Is thither gone, to crave the French king's sister
    To wife for Edward: if this news be true,
    Poor queen and son, your labour is but lost;
    For Warwick is a subtle orator, 1400
    And Lewis a prince soon won with moving words.
    By this account then Margaret may win him;
    For she's a woman to be pitied much:
    Her sighs will make a battery in his breast;
    Her tears will pierce into a marble heart; 1405
    The tiger will be mild whiles she doth mourn;
    And Nero will be tainted with remorse,
    To hear and see her plaints, her brinish tears.
    Ay, but she's come to beg, Warwick to give;
    She, on his left side, craving aid for Henry, 1410
    He, on his right, asking a wife for Edward.
    She weeps, and says her Henry is deposed;
    He smiles, and says his Edward is install'd;
    That she, poor wretch, for grief can speak no more;
    Whiles Warwick tells his title, smooths the wrong, 1415
    Inferreth arguments of mighty strength,
    And in conclusion wins the king from her,
    With promise of his sister, and what else,
    To strengthen and support King Edward's place.
    O Margaret, thus 'twill be; and thou, poor soul, 1420
    Art then forsaken, as thou went'st forlorn!
  • Second Keeper. Say, what art thou that talk'st of kings and queens?
  • Henry VI. More than I seem, and less than I was born to:
    A man at least, for less I should not be;
    And men may talk of kings, and why not I? 1425
  • Henry VI. Why, so I am, in mind; and that's enough.
  • Henry VI. My crown is in my heart, not on my head;
    Not decked with diamonds and Indian stones, 1430
    Nor to be seen: my crown is called content:
    A crown it is that seldom kings enjoy.
  • Second Keeper. Well, if you be a king crown'd with content,
    Your crown content and you must be contented
    To go along with us; for as we think, 1435
    You are the king King Edward hath deposed;
    And we his subjects sworn in all allegiance
    Will apprehend you as his enemy.
  • Henry VI. But did you never swear, and break an oath?
  • Henry VI. Where did you dwell when I was King of England?
  • Henry VI. I was anointed king at nine months old;
    My father and my grandfather were kings,
    And you were sworn true subjects unto me: 1445
    And tell me, then, have you not broke your oaths?
  • First Keeper. No;
    For we were subjects but while you were king.
  • Henry VI. Why, am I dead? do I not breathe a man?
    Ah, simple men, you know not what you swear! 1450
    Look, as I blow this feather from my face,
    And as the air blows it to me again,
    Obeying with my wind when I do blow,
    And yielding to another when it blows,
    Commanded always by the greater gust; 1455
    Such is the lightness of you common men.
    But do not break your oaths; for of that sin
    My mild entreaty shall not make you guilty.
    Go where you will, the king shall be commanded;
    And be you kings, command, and I'll obey. 1460
  • First Keeper. We are true subjects to the king, King Edward.
  • Henry VI. So would you be again to Henry,
    If he were seated as King Edward is.
  • First Keeper. We charge you, in God's name, and the king's,
    To go with us unto the officers. 1465
  • Henry VI. In God's name, lead; your king's name be obey'd:
    And what God will, that let your king perform;
    And what he will, I humbly yield unto.