Henry VI Part 2 (1923) Yale/Text/Act V

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Scene One

[Kent. Fields between Dartford and Blackheath]

Enter York and his army of Irish, with drum and colours.

York. From Ireland thus comes York to claim his right,
And pluck the crown from feeble Henry's head:
Ring, bells, aloud; burn, bonfires, clear and bright,
To entertain great England's lawful king. 4
Ah sancta majestas, who would not buy thee dear?
Let them obey that know not how to rule;
This hand was made to handle nought but gold:
I cannot give due action to my words, 8
Except a sword or sceptre balance it.
A sceptre shall it have, have I a soul,
On which I'll toss the flower-de-luce of France.

Enter Buckingham.

Whom have we here? Buckingham, to disturb me? 12
The king hath sent him, sure: I must dissemble.

Buck. York, if thou meanest well, I greet thee well.

York. Humphrey of Buckingham, I accept thy greeting.
Art thou a messenger, or come of pleasure? 16

Buck. A messenger from Henry, our dread liege,
To know the reason of these arms in peace;
Or why thou,—being a subject as I am,—
Against thy oath and true allegiance sworn, 20
Should raise so great a power without his leave,
Or dare to bring thy force so near the court.

York. [Aside.] Scarce can I speak, my choler is so great:
O! I could hew up rocks and fight with flint, 24
I am so angry at these abject terms;
And now, like Ajax Telamonius,
On sheep or oxen could I spend my fury.
I am far better born than is the king, 28
More like a king, more kingly in my thoughts;
But I must make fair weather yet awhile,
Till Henry be more weak, and I more strong.
[Aloud.] Buckingham, I prithee, pardon me 32
That I have given no answer all this while;
My mind was troubled with deep melancholy.
The cause why I have brought this army hither
Is to remove proud Somerset from the king, 36
Seditious to his Grace and to the state.

Buck. That is too much presumption on thy part:
But if thy arms be to no other end,
The king hath yielded unto thy demand: 40
The Duke of Somerset is in the Tower.

York. Upon thine honour, is he a prisoner?

Buck. Upon mine honour, he is a prisoner.

York. Then, Buckingham, I do dismiss my powers. 44
Soldiers, I thank you all; disperse yourselves;
Meet me to-morrow in Saint George's Field,
You shall have pay, and everything you wish,
And let my sovereign, virtuous Henry, 48
Command my eldest son, nay, all my sons,
As pledges of my fealty and love;
I'll send them all as willing as I live:
Lands, goods, horse, armour, anything I have 52
Is his to use, so Somerset may die.

Buck. York, I commend this kind submission:
We twain will go into his highness' tent.

Enter King and Attendants.

King. Buckingham, doth York intend no harm to us, 56
That thus he marcheth with thee arm in arm?

York. In all submission and humility
York doth present himself unto your highness.

King. Then what intend these forces thou dost bring? 60

York. To heave the traitor Somerset from hence,
And fight against that monstrous rebel, Cade,
Who since I heard to be discomfited.

Enter Iden, with Cade's head.

Iden. If one so rude and of so mean condition 64
May pass into the presence of a king,
Lo! I present your Grace a traitor's head,
The head of Cade, whom I in combat slew.

King. The head of Cade! Great God, how just art thou! 68
O! let me view his visage, being dead,
That living wrought me such exceeding trouble.
Tell me, my friend, art thou the man that slew him?

Iden. I was, an 't like your majesty. 72

King. How art thou call'd, and what is thy degree?

Iden. Alexander Iden, that's my name;
A poor esquire of Kent, that loves his king.

Buck. So please it you, my lord, 'twere not amiss 76
He were created knight for his good service.

King. Iden, kneel down. [He kneels.] Rise up a knight.
We give thee for reward a thousand marks,
And will that thou henceforth attend on us. 80

Iden. May Iden live to merit such a bounty,
And never live but true unto his liege!

Enter Queen and Somerset.

King. See! Buckingham! Somerset comes with the queen:
Go, bid her hide him quickly from the duke. 84

Queen. For thousand Yorks he shall not hide his head,
But boldly stand and front him to his face.

York. How now! is Somerset at liberty?
Then, York, unloose thy long-imprison'd thoughts 88
And let thy tongue be equal with thy heart.
Shall I endure the sight of Somerset?
False king! why hast thou broken faith with me,
Knowing how hardly I can brook abuse? 92
King did I call thee? no, thou art not king;
Not fit to govern and rule multitudes,
Which dar'st not, no, nor canst not rule a traitor.
That head of thine doth not become a crown; 96
Thy hand is made to grasp a palmer's staff,
And not to grace an awful princely sceptre.
That gold must round engirt these brows of mine,
Whose smile and frown, like to Achilles' spear, 100
Is able with the change to kill and cure.
Here is a hand to hold a sceptre up,
And with the same to act controlling laws.
Give place: by heaven, thou shalt rule no more 104
O'er him whom heaven created for thy ruler.

Som. O monstrous traitor! I arrest thee, York,
Of capital treason 'gainst the king and crown.
Obey, audacious traitor; kneel for grace. 108

York. Wouldst have me kneel? first let me ask of these
If they can brook I bow a knee to man.
Sirrah, call in my sons to be my bail:

[Exit an Attendant.]

I know ere they will have me go to ward, 112
They'll pawn their swords of my enfranchisement.

Queen. Call hither Clifford; bid him come amain,
To say if that the bastard boys of York
Shall be the surety for their traitor father. 116

[Exit Buckingham.]

York. O blood-bespotted Neapolitan,
Outcast of Naples, England's bloody scourge!
The sons of York, thy betters in their birth,
Shall be their father's bail; and bane to those 120
That for my surety will refuse the boys!

Enter Edward and Richard.

See where they come: I’ll warrant they'll make it good.

Enter Clifford [and his son].

Queen. And here comes Clifford, to deny their bail.

Clif. [Kneeling.] Health and all happiness to my lord the king! 124

York. I thank thee, Clifford: say, what news with thee?
Nay, do not fright us with an angry look:
We are thy sovereign, Clifford, kneel again;
For thy mistaking so we pardon thee. 128

Clif. This is my king, York, I do not mistake;
But thou mistak'st me much to think I do.
To Bedlam with him! is the man grown mad?

King. Ay, Clifford; a bedlam and ambitious humour
Makes him oppose himself against his king.

Clif. He is a traitor; let him to the Tower,
And chop away that factious pate of his.

Queen. He is arrested, but will not obey: 136
His sons, he says, shall give their words for him.

York. Will you not, sons?

Edw. Ay, noble father, if our words will serve.

Rich. And if words will not, then our weapons shall. 140

Clif. Why, what a brood of traitors have we here!

York. Look in a glass, and call thy image so:
I am thy king, and thou a false-heart traitor.
Call hither to the stake my two brave bears, 144
That with the very shaking of their chains
They may astonish these fell-lurking curs:
Bid Salisbury and Warwick come to me.

Enter the Earls of Warwick and Salisbury.

Clif. Are these thy bears? we'll bait thy bears to death, 148
And manacle the bearard in their chains,
If thou dar'st bring them to the baiting-place.

Rich. Oft have I seen a hot o'erweening cur
Run back and bite, because he was withheld; 152
Who, being suffer'd, with the bear's fell paw,
Hath clapp'd his tail between his legs, and cried:
And such a piece of service will you do,
If you oppose yourselves to match Lord Warwick. 156

Clif. Hence, heap of wrath, foul indigested lump,
As crooked in thy manners as thy shape!

York. Nay, we shall heat you thoroughly anon.

Clif. Take heed, lest by your heat you burn yourselves. 160

King. Why, Warwick, hath thy knee forgot to bow?
Old Salisbury, shame to thy silver hair,
Thou mad misleader of thy brain-sick son!
What! wilt thou on thy death-bed play the ruffian, 164
And seek for sorrow with thy spectacles?
O! where is faith? O, where is loyalty?
If it be banish'd from the frosty head,
Where shall it find a harbour in the earth? 168
Wilt thou go dig a grave to find out war,
And shame thine honourable age with blood?
Why art thou old, and want'st experience?
Or wherefore dost abuse it, if thou hast it? 172
For shame! in duty bend thy knee to me,
That bows unto the grave with mickle age.

Sal. My lord, I have consider'd with myself
The title of this most renowned duke; 176
And in my conscience do repute his Grace
The rightful heir to England's royal seat.

King. Hast thou not sworn allegiance unto me?

Sal. I have. 180

King. Canst thou dispense with heaven for such an oath?

Sal. It is great sin to swear unto a sin,
But greater sin to keep a sinful oath.
Who can be bound by any solemn vow 184
To do a murderous deed, to rob a man,
To force a spotless virgin's chastity,
To reave the orphan of his patrimony,
To wring the widow from her custom'd right, 188
And have no other reason for this wrong
But that he was bound by a solemn oath?

Queen. A subtle traitor needs no sophister.

King. Call Buckingham, and bid him arm himself. 192

York. Call Buckingham, and all the friends thou hast,
I am resolv'd for death or dignity.

Clif. The first I warrant thee, if dreams prove true.

War. You were best to go to bed and dream again,
To keep thee from the tempest of the field.

Clif. I am resolv'd to bear a greater storm
Than any thou canst conjure up to-day;
And that I'll write upon thy burgonet, 200
Might I but know thee by thy household badge.

War. Now, by my father's badge, old Nevil's crest,
The rampant bear chain'd to the ragged staff,
This day I'll wear aloft my burgonet,— 204
As on a mountain-top the cedar shows,
That keeps his leaves in spite of any storm,—
Even to affright thee with the view thereof.

Clif. And from thy burgonet I'll rend thy bear, 208
And tread it underfoot with all contempt,
Despite the bearard that protects the bear.

Y. Clif. And so to arms, victorious father,
To quell the rebels and their complices. 212

Rich. Fie! charity! for shame! speak not in spite,
For you shall sup with Jesu Christ to-night.

Y. Clif. Foul stigmatic, that's more than thou canst tell.

Rich. If not in heaven, you'll surely sup in hell.


Scene Two

[Saint Albans]

[Alarums: Excursions.] Enter Warwick.

War. Clifford of Cumberland, 'tis Warwick calls:
And if thou dost not hide thee from the bear,
Now, when the angry trumpet sounds alarum,
And dead men's cries do fill the empty air, 4
Clifford, I say, come forth, and fight with me!
Proud northern lord, Clifford of Cumberland,
Warwick is hoarse with calling thee to arms.

Enter York.

How now, my noble lord! what! all afoot? 8

York. The deadly-handed Clifford slew my steed;
But match to match I have encounter'd him,
And made a prey for carrion kites and crows
Even of the bonny beast he lov'd so well. 12

Enter Clifford.

War. Of one or both of us the time is come.

York. Hold, Warwick! seek thee out some other chase,
For I myself must hunt this deer to death.

War. Then, nobly, York; 'tis for a crown thou fight'st. 16
As I intend, Clifford, to thrive to-day,
It grieves my soul to leave thee unassail'd. Exit War.

Clif. What seest thou in me, York? why dost thou pause?

York. With thy brave bearing should I be in love, 20
But that thou art so fast mine enemy.

Clif. Nor should thy prowess want praise and esteem,
But that 'tis shown ignobly and in treason.

York. So let it help me now against thy sword 24
As I in justice and true right express it.

Clif. My soul and body on the action both!

York. A dreadful lay! address thee instantly.

Clif. La fin couronne les œuvres. 28

[They fight, and Clifford falls and dies.]

York. Thus war hath given thee peace, for thou art still.
Peace with his soul, heaven, if it be thy will! Exit.

Enter Young Clifford.

Y. Clif. Shame and confusion! all is on the rout:
Fear frames disorder, and disorder wounds 32
Where it should guard. O war! thou son of hell,
Whom angry heavens do make their minister,
Throw in the frozen bosoms of our part
Hot coals of vengeance! Let no soldier fly: 36
He that is truly dedicate to war
Hath no self-love; nor he that loves himself
Hath not essentially, but by circumstance,
The name of valour. [Seeing his father's body.]
O, let the vile world end, 40
And the premised flames of the last day
Knit heaven and earth together;
Now let the general trumpet blow his blast,
Particularities and petty sounds 44
To cease!—Wast thou ordain'd, dear father,
To lose thy youth in peace, and to achieve
The silver livery of advised age,
And in thy reverence and thy chair-days thus 48
To die in ruffian battle? Even at this sight
My heart is turn'd to stone: and while 'tis mine
It shall be stony. York not our old men spares;
No more will I their babes: tears virginal 52
Shall be to me even as the dew to fire;
And beauty, that the tyrant oft reclaims,
Shall to my flaming wrath be oil and flax.
Henceforth I will not have to do with pity: 56
Meet I an infant of the house of York,
Into as many gobbets will I cut it
As wild Medea young Absyrtus did:
In cruelty will I seek out my fame. 60
Come, thou new ruin of old Clifford's house:

[Taking up the body.]

As did Æneas old Anchises bear,
So bear I thee upon my manly shoulders;
But then Æneas bare a living load, 64
Nothing so heavy as these woes of mine. [Exit.]

Enter Richard and Somerset to fight.
[Somerset is killed.]

Rich. So, lie thou there;
For underneath an alehouse' paltry sign,
The Castle in Saint Albans, Somerset 68
Hath made the wizard famous in his death.
Sword, hold thy temper; heart, be wrathful still:
Priests pray for enemies, but princes kill. [Exit.]

Fight. Excursions. Enter King, Queen, and others.

Queen. Away, my lord! you are slow: for shame, away! 72

King. Can we outrun the heavens? good Margaret, stay.

Queen. What are you made of? you'll nor fight nor fly:
Now is it manhood, wisdom, and defence
To give the enemy way, and to secure us 76
By what we can, which can no more but fly.

Alarum afar off.

If you be ta'en, we then should see the bottom
Of all our fortunes: but if we haply scape,
As well we may, if not through your neglect, 80
We shall to London get, where you are lov'd,
And where this breach now in our fortunes made
May readily be stopp'd.

Enter [Young] Clifford.

Clif. But that my heart's on future mischief set, 84
I would speak blasphemy ere bid you fly;
But fly you must: uncurable discomfit
Reigns in the hearts of all our present parts.
Away, for your relief! and we will live 88
To see their day and them our fortune give.
Away, my lord, away! Exeunt.

Scene Three

[Field near Saint Albans]

Alarum. Retreat. Enter York, Richard, Warwick, and Soldiers, with drum and colours.

York. Of Salisbury, who can report of him,
That winter lion, who in rage forgets
Aged contusions and all brush of time,
And, like a gallant in the brow of youth, 4
Repairs him with occasion? this happy day
Is not itself, nor have we won one foot,
If Salisbury be lost.

Rich.My noble father,
Three times to-day I holp him to his horse, 8
Three times bestrid him; thrice I led him off,
Persuaded him from any further act:
But still, where danger was, still there I met him;
And like rich hangings in a homely house, 12
So was his will in his old feeble body.
But, noble as he is, look where he comes.

Enter Salisbury.

Sal. Now, by my sword, well hast thou fought to-day;
By the mass, so did we all. I thank you, Richard: 16
God knows how long it is I have to live;
And it hath pleas'd him that three times to-day
You have defended me from imminent death.
Well, lords, we have not got that which we have: 20
'Tis not enough our foes are this time fled,
Being opposites of such repairing nature.

York. I know our safety is to follow them;
For, as I hear, the king is fled to London, 24
To call a present court of parliament:
Let us pursue him ere the writs go forth:—
What says Lord Warwick? shall we after them?

War. After them! nay, before them, if we can. 28
Now, by my hand, lords, 'twas a glorious day:
Saint Albans battle, won by famous York,
Shall be eterniz'd in all age to come.
Sound, drums and trumpets, and to London all: 32
And more such days as these to us befall! Exeunt.


Footnotes to Act V

Scene One

5 Cf. n.
8 action: effect
9 balance it: add weight to my hand
10 have I: as sure as I have
11 toss: bear aloft
flower-de-luce: fleur de lys
15 Humphrey of Buckingham; cf. n.
26 Ajax Telamonius; cf. n.
46 Saint George's Field; cf. n.
49 Command: demand as hostage
80 will: command
100 Achilles' spear; cf. n.
103 act: put into effect
109 these: his followers
112 ward: custody
113 of: in behalf of
enfranchisement: freedom
114 amain: with speed
117 Neapolitan; cf. n.
140 Cf. n.
144 two brave bears; cf. n.
146 fell-lurking: watching to do mischief
149 bearard: bear-ward, keeper of bears
181 dispense with: get exemption from
182 swear: pledge oneself
187 reave: bereave
188 custom'd: sanctioned by custom
191 sophister: teacher of equivocation
194 resolv'd for: determined to win
196 You . . . best: it would be best for you
200 burgonet: helmet
201 household badge: distinguishing emblem of a family
203 Cf. n.
204 aloft: on top of
212 complices: accomplices
215 stigmatic: one branded with deformity

Scene Two

2 And if: An if, if
21 fast: inalterably
26 action: result of combat
27 lay: stake
address thee: prepare
28 La fin . . . œuvres: 'finis coronat opus,' the result proves the justice of the cause
35 part: party, side
39 not . . . circumstance: not really but through accident
41 premised: sent before their time (?), foreordained (?)
44 Particularities: individual affairs
45 cease: put an end to
47 advised: experienced, cautious
48 reverence: state of dignity
chair-days: time of repose
53 as . . . fire: i.e. shall make the flame hotter
54 that . . . reclaims: which often subdues ferocity
59 Medea . . . Absyrtus; cf. n.
65 Nothing: in no respect
69 the wizard: i.e. the Spirit (cf. I. iv. 38–40)
74 nor . . . nor: neither . . . nor
76 secure us: make ourselves safe
77 which can: we who can do
78, 79 Cf. n.
80 if . . . neglect: if we do not fail through your negligence
86 discomfit: discouragement
87 all . . . parts: all of our party here
89 their day: a day of victory like theirs
them . . . give: impose on them a misfortune like this of ours

Scene Three

2 winter: aged
3 brush: wear and tear
4 brow: forefront
5 Repairs . . . occasion: grows more vigorous as he is called upon to exert himself
9 bestrid: stood over, to defend him when prostrate
11 still: always
20 got: secured firmly
22 opposites: adversaries
22  of . . . nature: so endowed with means of recovery
26 writs; cf. n.