London. A room in the palace.
(King Henry the Sixth; Queen Margaret; Duke of Buckingham; Lord Say; Second Royal Messenger; Third Royal Messenger)
The King enters with the rebels’ supplication; horrified at the thought of deaths, he decides to send a bishop to parley with them. Meanwhile, the Queen cradles Suffolk’s head. A messenger runs in warning that the rebels are taking London and that Cade is being proclaimed King. The King flees. (59 lines)
Enter the King with a supplication and the Queen with Suffolk’s head, the Duke of Buckingham and the Lord Say.
Oft have I heard that grief softens the mind,
And makes it fearful and degenerate;
Think therefore on revenge and cease to weep.
But who can cease to weep and look on this?
Here may his head lie on my throbbing breast;
But where’s the body that I should embrace?
What answer makes your Grace to the rebels’ supplication?
I’ll send some holy bishop to entreat;
For God forbid so many simple souls
Should perish by the sword! And I myself,
Rather than bloody war shall cut them short,
Will parley with Jack Cade their general.
But stay, I’ll read it over once again.
Ah, barbarous villains! Hath this lovely face
Rul’d like a wandering planet over me,
And could it not enforce them to relent,
That were unworthy to behold the same?
Lord Say, Jack Cade hath sworn to have thy head.
Ay, but I hope your Highness shall have his.
How now, madam?
Still lamenting and mourning for Suffolk’s death?
I fear me, love, if that I had been dead,
Thou wouldst not have mourn’d so much for me.
No, my love, I should not mourn, but die for thee.
Enter Second Royal Messenger.
How now? What news? Why com’st thou in such haste?
The rebels are in Southwark; fly, my lord!
Jack Cade proclaims himself Lord Mortimer,
Descended from the Duke of Clarence’ house,
And calls your Grace usurper, openly,
And vows to crown himself in Westminster.
His army is a ragged multitude
Of hinds and peasants, rude and merciless.
Sir Humphrey Stafford and his brother’s death
Hath given them heart and courage to proceed.
All scholars, lawyers, courtiers, gentlemen,
They call false caterpillars, and intend their death.
O graceless men! They know not what they do.
My gracious lord, retire to Killingworth,
Until a power be rais’d to put them down.
Ah, were the Duke of Suffolk now alive,
These Kentish rebels would be soon appeas’d!
Lord Say, the traitors hateth thee,
Therefore away with us to Killingworth.
So might your Grace’s person be in danger.
The sight of me is odious in their eyes;
And therefore in this city will I stay
And live alone as secret as I may.
Enter Third Royal Messenger.
Jack Cade hath gotten London Bridge:
The citizens fly and forsake their houses;
The rascal people, thirsting after prey,
Join with the traitor, and they jointly swear
To spoil the city and your royal court.
Then linger not, my lord, away, take horse.
Come, Margaret, God, our hope, will succor us.
My hope is gone, now Suffolk is deceas’d.
Farewell, my lord, trust not the Kentish rebels.
Trust nobody, for fear you be betray’d.
The trust I have is in mine innocence,
And therefore am I bold and resolute.