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History of Henry VI, Part III

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Act V, Scene 6

London. The Tower.


[Enter KING HENRY VI and GLOUCESTER, with the] [p]Lieutenant, on the walls]

  • Henry VI. Ay, my good lord:—my lord, I should say rather;
    'Tis sin to flatter; 'good' was little better:
    'Good Gloucester' and 'good devil' were alike,
    And both preposterous; therefore, not 'good lord.'

[Exit Lieutenant]

  • Henry VI. So flies the reckless shepherd from the wolf;
    So first the harmless sheep doth yield his fleece
    And next his throat unto the butcher's knife.
    What scene of death hath Roscius now to act? 3005
  • Henry VI. The bird that hath been limed in a bush,
    With trembling wings misdoubteth every bush;
    And I, the hapless male to one sweet bird, 3010
    Have now the fatal object in my eye
    Where my poor young was limed, was caught and kill'd.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Why, what a peevish fool was that of Crete,
    That taught his son the office of a fowl!
    An yet, for all his wings, the fool was drown'd. 3015
  • Henry VI. I, Daedalus; my poor boy, Icarus;
    Thy father, Minos, that denied our course;
    The sun that sear'd the wings of my sweet boy
    Thy brother Edward, and thyself the sea
    Whose envious gulf did swallow up his life. 3020
    Ah, kill me with thy weapon, not with words!
    My breast can better brook thy dagger's point
    Than can my ears that tragic history.
    But wherefore dost thou come? is't for my life?
  • Henry VI. A persecutor, I am sure, thou art:
    If murdering innocents be executing,
    Why, then thou art an executioner.
  • Henry VI. Hadst thou been kill'd when first thou didst presume, 3030
    Thou hadst not lived to kill a son of mine.
    And thus I prophesy, that many a thousand,
    Which now mistrust no parcel of my fear,
    And many an old man's sigh and many a widow's,
    And many an orphan's water-standing eye— 3035
    Men for their sons, wives for their husbands,
    And orphans for their parents timeless death—
    Shall rue the hour that ever thou wast born.
    The owl shriek'd at thy birth,—an evil sign;
    The night-crow cried, aboding luckless time; 3040
    Dogs howl'd, and hideous tempest shook down trees;
    The raven rook'd her on the chimney's top,
    And chattering pies in dismal discords sung.
    Thy mother felt more than a mother's pain,
    And, yet brought forth less than a mother's hope, 3045
    To wit, an indigested and deformed lump,
    Not like the fruit of such a goodly tree.
    Teeth hadst thou in thy head when thou wast born,
    To signify thou camest to bite the world:
    And, if the rest be true which I have heard, 3050
    Thou camest—
  • Henry VI. Ay, and for much more slaughter after this. 3055
    God forgive my sins, and pardon thee!


  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). What, will the aspiring blood of Lancaster
    Sink in the ground? I thought it would have mounted.
    See how my sword weeps for the poor king's death! 3060
    O, may such purple tears be alway shed
    From those that wish the downfall of our house!
    If any spark of life be yet remaining,
    Down, down to hell; and say I sent thee thither:
    [Stabs him again] 3065
    I, that have neither pity, love, nor fear.
    Indeed, 'tis true that Henry told me of;
    For I have often heard my mother say
    I came into the world with my legs forward:
    Had I not reason, think ye, to make haste, 3070
    And seek their ruin that usurp'd our right?
    The midwife wonder'd and the women cried
    'O, Jesus bless us, he is born with teeth!'
    And so I was; which plainly signified
    That I should snarl and bite and play the dog. 3075
    Then, since the heavens have shaped my body so,
    Let hell make crook'd my mind to answer it.
    I have no brother, I am like no brother;
    And this word 'love,' which graybeards call divine,
    Be resident in men like one another 3080
    And not in me: I am myself alone.
    Clarence, beware; thou keep'st me from the light:
    But I will sort a pitchy day for thee;
    For I will buz abroad such prophecies
    That Edward shall be fearful of his life, 3085
    And then, to purge his fear, I'll be thy death.
    King Henry and the prince his son are gone:
    Clarence, thy turn is next, and then the rest,
    Counting myself but bad till I be best.
    I'll throw thy body in another room 3090
    And triumph, Henry, in thy day of doom.

[Exit, with the body]