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History of Henry VI, Part III

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Act III, Scene 2

London. The palace.



  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Brother of Gloucester, at Saint Alban's field
    This lady's husband, Sir Richard Grey, was slain,
    His lands then seized on by the conqueror:
    Her suit is now to repossess those lands;
    Which we in justice cannot well deny, 1475
    Because in quarrel of the house of York
    The worthy gentleman did lose his life.
  • Queen Elizabeth. Right gracious lord, I cannot brook delay:
    May it please your highness to resolve me now; 1490
    And what your pleasure is, shall satisfy me.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). [Aside to CLARENCE] Ay, widow? then I'll warrant
    you all your lands,
    An if what pleases him shall pleasure you.
    Fight closer, or, good faith, you'll catch a blow. 1495


  • Queen Elizabeth. My love till death, my humble thanks, my prayers;
    That love which virtue begs and virtue grants. 1545
  • Queen Elizabeth. My mind will never grant what I perceive
    Your highness aims at, if I aim aright. 1550
  • Queen Elizabeth. Why, then mine honesty shall be my dower;
    For by that loss I will not purchase them. 1555
  • Queen Elizabeth. Herein your highness wrongs both them and me.
    But, mighty lord, this merry inclination
    Accords not with the sadness of my suit:
    Please you dismiss me either with 'ay' or 'no.' 1560
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). [Aside] Her looks do argue her replete with modesty;
    Her words do show her wit incomparable;
    All her perfections challenge sovereignty: 1570
    One way or other, she is for a king;
    And she shall be my love, or else my queen.—
    Say that King Edward take thee for his queen?
  • Queen Elizabeth. 'Tis better said than done, my gracious lord:
    I am a subject fit to jest withal, 1575
    But far unfit to be a sovereign.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Sweet widow, by my state I swear to thee
    I speak no more than what my soul intends;
    And that is, to enjoy thee for my love.
  • Queen Elizabeth. And that is more than I will yield unto: 1580
    I know I am too mean to be your queen,
    And yet too good to be your concubine.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). No more than when my daughters call thee mother. 1585
    Thou art a widow, and thou hast some children;
    And, by God's mother, I, being but a bachelor,
    Have other some: why, 'tis a happy thing
    To be the father unto many sons.
    Answer no more, for thou shalt be my queen. 1590

[Enter a Nobleman]

  • Nobleman. My gracious lord, Henry your foe is taken,
    And brought your prisoner to your palace gate.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). See that he be convey'd unto the Tower:
    And go we, brothers, to the man that took him,
    To question of his apprehension. 1610
    Widow, go you along. Lords, use her honourably.

[Exeunt all but GLOUCESTER]

  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Ay, Edward will use women honourably.
    Would he were wasted, marrow, bones and all,
    That from his loins no hopeful branch may spring, 1615
    To cross me from the golden time I look for!
    And yet, between my soul's desire and me—
    The lustful Edward's title buried—
    Is Clarence, Henry, and his son young Edward,
    And all the unlook'd for issue of their bodies, 1620
    To take their rooms, ere I can place myself:
    A cold premeditation for my purpose!
    Why, then, I do but dream on sovereignty;
    Like one that stands upon a promontory,
    And spies a far-off shore where he would tread, 1625
    Wishing his foot were equal with his eye,
    And chides the sea that sunders him from thence,
    Saying, he'll lade it dry to have his way:
    So do I wish the crown, being so far off;
    And so I chide the means that keeps me from it; 1630
    And so I say, I'll cut the causes off,
    Flattering me with impossibilities.
    My eye's too quick, my heart o'erweens too much,
    Unless my hand and strength could equal them.
    Well, say there is no kingdom then for Richard; 1635
    What other pleasure can the world afford?
    I'll make my heaven in a lady's lap,
    And deck my body in gay ornaments,
    And witch sweet ladies with my words and looks.
    O miserable thought! and more unlikely 1640
    Than to accomplish twenty golden crowns!
    Why, love forswore me in my mother's womb:
    And, for I should not deal in her soft laws,
    She did corrupt frail nature with some bribe,
    To shrink mine arm up like a wither'd shrub; 1645
    To make an envious mountain on my back,
    Where sits deformity to mock my body;
    To shape my legs of an unequal size;
    To disproportion me in every part,
    Like to a chaos, or an unlick'd bear-whelp 1650
    That carries no impression like the dam.
    And am I then a man to be beloved?
    O monstrous fault, to harbour such a thought!
    Then, since this earth affords no joy to me,
    But to command, to cheque, to o'erbear such 1655
    As are of better person than myself,
    I'll make my heaven to dream upon the crown,
    And, whiles I live, to account this world but hell,
    Until my mis-shaped trunk that bears this head
    Be round impaled with a glorious crown. 1660
    And yet I know not how to get the crown,
    For many lives stand between me and home:
    And I,—like one lost in a thorny wood,
    That rends the thorns and is rent with the thorns,
    Seeking a way and straying from the way; 1665
    Not knowing how to find the open air,
    But toiling desperately to find it out,—
    Torment myself to catch the English crown:
    And from that torment I will free myself,
    Or hew my way out with a bloody axe. 1670
    Why, I can smile, and murder whiles I smile,
    And cry 'Content' to that which grieves my heart,
    And wet my cheeks with artificial tears,
    And frame my face to all occasions.
    I'll drown more sailors than the mermaid shall; 1675
    I'll slay more gazers than the basilisk;
    I'll play the orator as well as Nestor,
    Deceive more slily than Ulysses could,
    And, like a Sinon, take another Troy.
    I can add colours to the chameleon, 1680
    Change shapes with Proteus for advantages,
    And set the murderous Machiavel to school.
    Can I do this, and cannot get a crown?
    Tut, were it farther off, I'll pluck it down.