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History of Henry VI, Part III

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Act V, Scene 4

Plains near Tewksbury.



  • Queen Margaret. Great lords, wise men ne'er sit and wail their loss, 2805
    But cheerly seek how to redress their harms.
    What though the mast be now blown overboard,
    The cable broke, the holding-anchor lost,
    And half our sailors swallow'd in the flood?
    Yet lives our pilot still. Is't meet that he 2810
    Should leave the helm and like a fearful lad
    With tearful eyes add water to the sea
    And give more strength to that which hath too much,
    Whiles, in his moan, the ship splits on the rock,
    Which industry and courage might have saved? 2815
    Ah, what a shame! ah, what a fault were this!
    Say Warwick was our anchor; what of that?
    And Montague our topmost; what of him?
    Our slaughter'd friends the tackles; what of these?
    Why, is not Oxford here another anchor? 2820
    And Somerset another goodly mast?
    The friends of France our shrouds and tacklings?
    And, though unskilful, why not Ned and I
    For once allow'd the skilful pilot's charge?
    We will not from the helm to sit and weep, 2825
    But keep our course, though the rough wind say no,
    From shelves and rocks that threaten us with wreck.
    As good to chide the waves as speak them fair.
    And what is Edward but ruthless sea?
    What Clarence but a quicksand of deceit? 2830
    And Richard but a ragged fatal rock?
    All these the enemies to our poor bark.
    Say you can swim; alas, 'tis but a while!
    Tread on the sand; why, there you quickly sink:
    Bestride the rock; the tide will wash you off, 2835
    Or else you famish; that's a threefold death.
    This speak I, lords, to let you understand,
    If case some one of you would fly from us,
    That there's no hoped-for mercy with the brothers
    More than with ruthless waves, with sands and rocks. 2840
    Why, courage then! what cannot be avoided
    'Twere childish weakness to lament or fear.
  • Prince Edward. Methinks a woman of this valiant spirit
    Should, if a coward heard her speak these words,
    Infuse his breast with magnanimity 2845
    And make him, naked, foil a man at arms.
    I speak not this as doubting any here
    For did I but suspect a fearful man
    He should have leave to go away betimes,
    Lest in our need he might infect another 2850
    And make him of like spirit to himself.
    If any such be here—as God forbid!—
    Let him depart before we need his help.
  • Earl Oxford. Women and children of so high a courage,
    And warriors faint! why, 'twere perpetual shame. 2855
    O brave young prince! thy famous grandfather
    Doth live again in thee: long mayst thou live
    To bear his image and renew his glories!
  • Duke/Earl of Somerset. And he that will not fight for such a hope.
    Go home to bed, and like the owl by day, 2860
    If he arise, be mock'd and wonder'd at.

[Enter a Messenger]

  • Messenger. Prepare you, lords, for Edward is at hand. 2865
    Ready to fight; therefore be resolute.
  • Earl Oxford. I thought no less: it is his policy
    To haste thus fast, to find us unprovided.
  • Earl Oxford. Here pitch our battle; hence we will not budge.
    [Flourish and march. Enter KING EDWARD IV, GLOUCESTER,]
    CLARENCE, and soldiers]
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Brave followers, yonder stands the thorny wood,
    Which, by the heavens' assistance and your strength, 2875
    Must by the roots be hewn up yet ere night.
    I need not add more fuel to your fire,
    For well I wot ye blaze to burn them out
    Give signal to the fight, and to it, lords!
  • Queen Margaret. Lords, knights, and gentlemen, what I should say 2880
    My tears gainsay; for every word I speak,
    Ye see, I drink the water of mine eyes.
    Therefore, no more but this: Henry, your sovereign,
    Is prisoner to the foe; his state usurp'd,
    His realm a slaughter-house, his subjects slain, 2885
    His statutes cancell'd and his treasure spent;
    And yonder is the wolf that makes this spoil.
    You fight in justice: then, in God's name, lords,
    Be valiant and give signal to the fight.

[Alarum. Retreat. Excursions. Exeunt]