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Henry VI, Part 2 Scenes

Scene 1

Fields Between Dartford and Blackheath.

(Duke of York; Duke of Buckingham; Soldiers; King Henry the Sixth; King’s Attendants; Alexander Iden; Queen Margaret; Duke Somerset; Edward Earl of March; Richard Plantagenet; Lord Clifford; Young Clifford; Earl of Warwick; Earl of Salisbury)

York proclaims himself King to his army. Buckingham comes as a messenger from the King, asking why York has come with such forces. Hearing that Somerset, his excuse, has been imprisoned, York dismisses his army. The King is told that Somerset and Cade were York’s objectives; at this point Iden brings in Cade’s head, and is knighted as a reward. The Queen enters with Somerset, and York, seeing his enemy at liberty despite promises, bursts out at the King, denying his title and claiming the throne. Somerset arrests him for high treason, but York calls for his sons as bail. The Queen sends for Clifford. The York boys enter with their armies and Clifford with his, and both sides defy each other. Then Warwick and Salisbury enter with their forces and declare for York. The Cliffords swear to beat the Yorkists, and all leave to battle. (217 lines)

Enter York and his army of Irish with Drum and Colors.


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!

Ah, sancta majestas! Who would not buy thee dear?

Let them obey that knows not how to rule;

This hand was made to handle nought but gold.

I cannot give due action to my words,

Except a sword or sceptre balance it.

A sceptre shall it have, have I a soul,

On which I’ll toss the flow’r-de-luce of France.

Enter Buckingham.

Whom have we here? Buckingham, to disturb me?

The King hath sent him sure; I must dissemble.


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


Humphrey of Buckingham, I accept thy greeting.

Art thou a messenger, or come of pleasure?


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,

Should raise so great a power without his leave,

Or dare to bring thy force so near the court.



Scarce can I speak, my choler is so great.

O, I could hew up rocks and fight with flint,

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;

More like a king, more kingly in my thoughts;

But I must make fair weather yet a while,

Till Henry be more weak and I more strong.—

Buckingham, I prithee pardon me,

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,

Seditious to his Grace and to the state.


That is too much presumption on thy part;

But if thy arms be to no other end,

The King hath yielded unto thy demand:

The Duke of Somerset is in the Tower.


Upon thine honor, is he prisoner?


Upon mine honor, he is prisoner.


Then, Buckingham, I do dismiss my pow’rs.

Soldiers, I thank you all; disperse yourselves.

Meet me tomorrow in Saint George’s Field,

You shall have pay and every thing you wish.

Exeunt Soldiers.

And let my sovereign, virtuous Henry,

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, armor, any thing I have

Is his to use, so Somerset may die.


York, I commend this kind submission;

We twain will go into his Highness’ tent.

Enter King and Attendants.


Buckingham, doth York intend no harm to us

That thus he marcheth with thee arm in arm?


In all submission and humility

York doth present himself unto your Highness.


Then what intends these forces thou dost bring?


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.


If one so rude and of so mean condition

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.


The head of Cade! Great God, how just art thou!

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?


I was, an’t like your Majesty.


How art thou call’d? And what is thy degree?


Alexander Iden, that’s my name,

A poor esquire of Kent, that loves his king.


So please it you, my lord, ’twere not amiss

He were created knight for his good service.


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.


May Iden live to merit such a bounty,

And never live but true unto his liege!


Enter Queen and Somerset.


See, Buckingham, Somerset comes with th’ Queen.

Go bid her hide him quickly from the Duke.


For thousand Yorks he shall not hide his head,

But boldly stand and front him to his face.


How now? Is Somerset at liberty?

Then, York, unloose thy long-imprisoned thoughts,

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?

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:

Thy hand is made to grasp a palmer’s staff

And not to grace an aweful princely sceptre.

That gold must round engirt these brows of mine,

Whose smile and frown, like to Achilles’ spear,

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

O’er him whom heaven created for thy ruler.


O monstrous traitor! I arrest thee, York,

Of capital treason ’gainst the King and crown.

Obey, audacious traitor, kneel for grace.


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 Attendant.

I know, ere they will have me go to ward,

They’ll pawn their swords for my enfranchisement.


Call hither Clifford, bid him come amain,

To say if that the bastard boys of York

Shall be the surety for their traitor father.

Exit Buckingham.


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

That for my surety will refuse the boys!

Enter Edward and Richard Plantagenet with Drum and Soldiers at one door.

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

Enter Clifford and his son Young Clifford with Drum and Soldiers at the other door.


And here comes Clifford to deny their bail.


Health and all happiness to my lord the King!



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.


This is my king, York, I do not mistake,

But thou mistakes me much to think I do.

To Bedlam with him! Is the man grown mad?


Ay, Clifford, a bedlam and ambitious humor

Makes him oppose himself against his king.


He is a traitor, let him to the Tower,

And chop away that factious pate of his.


He is arrested, but will not obey.

His sons, he says, shall give their words for him.


Will you not, sons?


Ay, noble father, if our words will serve.


And if words will not, then our weapons shall.


Why, what a brood of traitors have we here!


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,

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 with Drum and Soldiers.


Are these thy bears? We’ll bait thy bears to death,

And manacle the bearard in their chains,

If thou dar’st bring them to the baiting-place.


Oft have I seen a hot o’erweening cur

Run back and bite, because he was withheld,

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.


Hence, heap of wrath, foul indigested lump,

As crooked in thy manners as thy shape!


Nay, we shall heat you thoroughly anon.


Take heed, lest by your heat you burn yourselves.


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,

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 harbor in the earth?

Wilt thou go dig a grave to find out war,

And shame thine honorable age with blood?

Why art thou old, and want’st experience?

Or wherefore dost abuse it if thou hast it?

For shame, in duty bend thy knee to me

That bows unto the grave with mickle age.


My lord, I have considered with myself

The title of this most renowned duke,

And in my conscience do repute his Grace

The rightful heir to England’s royal seat.


Hast thou not sworn allegiance unto me?


I have.


Canst thou dispense with heaven for such an oath?


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

To do a murd’rous 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,

And have no other reason for this wrong

But that he was bound by a solemn oath?


A subtle traitor needs no sophister.


Call Buckingham, and bid him arm himself.


Call Buckingham, and all the friends thou hast,

I am resolv’d for death or dignity.


The first I warrant thee, if dreams prove true.


You were best to go to bed and dream again,

To keep thee from the tempest of the field.


I am resolv’d to bear a greater storm

Than any thou canst conjure up today;

And that I’ll write upon thy burgonet,

Might I but know thee by thy household badge.


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,

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.


And from thy burgonet I’ll rend thy bear,

And tread it under foot with all contempt,

Despite the bearard that protects the bear.


And so to arms, victorious father,

To quell the rebels and their complices.


Fie! Charity, for shame! Speak not in spite,

For you shall sup with Jesu Christ tonight.


Foul stigmatic, that’s more than thou canst tell.


If not in heaven, you’ll surely sup in hell.

Exeunt severally.


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