London. The Cardinal’s bedchamber.
(King Henry the Sixth; Earl of Salisbury; Earl of Warwick; Cardinal Beauford)
The King visits the Cardinal on his deathbed, but the old man does not recognize him. He is riddled with thoughts of Gloucester, and tries to protest his innocence, giving away his guilt in the process. He dies without making any sign of hope in God. The King characteristically refuses to judge him. (33 lines)
Enter the King, Salisbury, and Warwick to the Cardinal in bed, raving and staring as if he were mad.
How fares my lord? Speak, Beauford, to thy sovereign.
If thou beest death, I’ll give thee England’s treasure,
Enough to purchase such another island,
So thou wilt let me live, and feel no pain.
Ah, what a sign it is of evil life,
Where death’s approach is seen so terrible!
Beauford, it is thy sovereign speaks to thee.
Bring me unto my trial when you will.
Died he not in his bed? Where should he die?
Can I make men live, whe’er they will or no?
O, torture me no more, I will confess.
Alive again? Then show me where he is,
I’ll give a thousand pound to look upon him.
He hath no eyes, the dust hath blinded them.
Comb down his hair; look, look, it stands upright,
Like lime-twigs set to catch my winged soul.
Give me some drink, and bid the apothecary
Bring the strong poison that I bought of him.
O thou eternal Mover of the heavens,
Look with a gentle eye upon this wretch!
O, beat away the busy meddling fiend
That lays strong siege unto this wretch’s soul,
And from his bosom purge this black despair!
See how the pangs of death do make him grin!
Disturb him not, let him pass peaceably.
Peace to his soul, if God’s good pleasure be!
Lord Card’nal, if thou think’st on heaven’s bliss,
Hold up thy hand, make signal of thy hope.
The Cardinal dies.
He dies, and makes no sign. O God, forgive him!
So bad a death argues a monstrous life.
Forbear to judge, for we are sinners all.
Close up his eyes, and draw the curtain close,
And let us all to meditation.