London. The Parliament House.
(Duke of York; Edward, Earl of March; Richard; Norfolk; Montague; Warwick; Soldiers; King Henry; Clifford; Northumberland; Westmorland; Exeter; Queen Margaret; Prince Edward)
York and his sons tally up the enemy dead, wondering how the King got away. York sits in the throne and King Henry and his supporters enter. Henry makes an attempt at seeming strong, but since even he realizes that his claim to the throne is weak, things soon begin to fall apart, with Exeter admitting that York’s claim is stronger. In the end Henry negotiates to keep the throne for the span of his lifetime, and for York to take it thereafter. Northumberland, Westmoreland and Clifford abandon the King in disgust at his cowardice and go to join the Queen. Henry regrets disinheriting his son, but sees this as the only solution. Queen Margaret comes to find him, though he attempts to escape her; she berates him for giving up her son’s inheritance and vows to fight to reclaim it, refusing to have anything more to do with Henry until the arrangement is abandoned. The young prince vows the same. Left alone, Henry plans to write to the three lords who left him in the hopes of reconciling with them. (277 lines)
Alarum. Enter Richard Plantagenet, the Duke of York, Edward, Richard, Norfolk, Montague, Warwick, with Drum and Soldiers, with white roses in their hats.
I wonder how the King escap’d our hands.
While we pursu’d the horsemen of the north,
He slily stole away and left his men;
Whereat the great Lord of Northumberland,
Whose warlike ears could never brook retreat,
Cheer’d up the drooping army, and himself,
Lord Clifford, and Lord Stafford, all abreast,
Charg’d our main battle’s front; and breaking in,
Were by the swords of common soldiers slain.
Lord Stafford’s father, Duke of Buckingham,
Is either slain or wounded dangerous;
I cleft his beaver with a downright blow.
That this is true, father, behold his blood.
And, brother, here’s the Earl of Wiltshire’s blood,
Whom I encount’red as the battles join’d.
Speak thou for me and tell them what I did.
Showing the Duke of Somerset’s head.
Richard hath best deserv’d of all my sons.
But is your Grace dead, my Lord of Somerset?
Such hope have all the line of John of Gaunt!
Thus do I hope to shake King Henry’s head.
And so do I, victorious prince of York.
Before I see thee seated in that throne
Which now the house of Lancaster usurps,
I vow by heaven these eyes shall never close.
This is the palace of the fearful king,
And this the regal seat. Possess it, York,
For this is thine and not King Henry’s heirs’.
Assist me then, sweet Warwick, and I will,
For hither we have broken in by force.
We’ll all assist you; he that flies shall die.
Thanks, gentle Norfolk. Stay by me, my lords,
And, soldiers, stay and lodge by me this night.
They go up.
And when the King comes, offer him no violence,
Unless he seek to thrust you out perforce.
The Queen this day here holds her parliament,
But little thinks we shall be of her council.
By words or blows here let us win our right.
Arm’d as we are, let’s stay within this house.
The bloody parliament shall this be call’d,
Unless Plantagenet, Duke of York, be king,
And bashful Henry depos’d, whose cowardice
Hath made us by-words to our enemies.
Then leave me not, my lords, be resolute,
I mean to take possession of my right.
Neither the King, nor he that loves him best,
The proudest he that holds up Lancaster,
Dares stir a wing if Warwick shake his bells.
I’ll plant Plantagenet, root him up who dares.
Resolve thee, Richard, claim the English crown.
York takes the throne.
Flourish. Enter King Henry, Clifford, Northumberland, Westmorland, Exeter, and the rest, with red roses in their hats.
My lords, look where the sturdy rebel sits,
Even in the chair of state. Belike he means,
Back’d by the power of Warwick, that false peer,
To aspire unto the crown and reign as king.
Earl of Northumberland, he slew thy father,
And thine, Lord Clifford, and you both have vow’d revenge
On him, his sons, his favorites, and his friends.
If I be not, heavens be reveng’d on me!
The hope thereof makes Clifford mourn in steel.
What, shall we suffer this? Let’s pluck him down.
My heart for anger burns, I cannot brook it.
Be patient, gentle Earl of Westmorland.
Patience is for poltroons, such as he.
He durst not sit there, had your father liv’d.
My gracious lord, here in the parliament
Let us assail the family of York.
Well hast thou spoken, cousin, be it so.
Ah, know you not the city favors them,
And they have troops of soldiers at their beck?
But when the Duke is slain, they’ll quickly fly.
Far be the thought of this from Henry’s heart,
To make a shambles of the parliament house!
Cousin of Exeter, frowns, words, and threats
Shall be the war that Henry means to use.
Thou factious Duke of York, descend my throne,
And kneel for grace and mercy at my feet:
I am thy sovereign.
I am thine.
For shame, come down. He made thee Duke of York.
It was my inheritance, as the earldom was.
Thy father was a traitor to the crown.
Exeter, thou art a traitor to the crown,
In following this usurping Henry.
Whom should he follow but his natural king?
True, Clifford, that’s Richard Duke of York.
And shall I stand, and thou sit in my throne?
It must and shall be so. Content thyself.
Be Duke of Lancaster, let him be King.
He is both King and Duke of Lancaster,
And that the Lord of Westmorland shall maintain.
And Warwick shall disprove it. You forget
That we are those which chas’d you from the field,
And slew your fathers, and with colors spread
March’d through the city to the palace gates.
Yes, Warwick, I remember it to my grief,
And by his soul, thou and thy house shall rue it.
Plantagenet, of thee and these thy sons,
Thy kinsmen and thy friends, I’ll have more lives
Than drops of blood were in my father’s veins.
Urge it no more, lest that, in stead of words,
I send thee, Warwick, such a messenger
As shall revenge his death before I stir.
Poor Clifford, how I scorn his worthless threats!
Will you we show our title to the crown?
If not, our swords shall plead it in the field.
What title hast thou, traitor, to the crown?
Thy father was, as thou art, Duke of York,
Thy grandfather, Roger Mortimer, Earl of March:
I am the son of Henry the Fifth,
Who made the Dauphin and the French to stoop,
And seiz’d upon their towns and provinces.
Talk not of France, sith thou hast lost it all.
The Lord Protector lost it, and not I;
When I was crown’d I was but nine months old.
You are old enough now, and yet methinks you lose.
Father, tear the crown from the usurper’s head.
Sweet father, do so, set it on your head.
Good brother, as thou lov’st and honorest arms,
Let’s fight it out, and not stand cavilling thus.
Sound drums and trumpets, and the King will fly.
Peace thou! And give King Henry leave to speak.
Plantagenet shall speak first. Hear him, lords,
And be you silent and attentive too,
For he that interrupts him shall not live.
Think’st thou that I will leave my kingly throne,
Wherein my grandsire and my father sat?
No; first shall war unpeople this my realm;
Ay, and their colors, often borne in France,
And now in England to our heart’s great sorrow,
Shall be my winding-sheet. Why faint you, lords?
My title’s good, and better far than his.
Prove it, Henry, and thou shalt be King.
Henry the Fourth by conquest got the crown.
’Twas by rebellion against his king.
I know not what to say, my title’s weak.—
Tell me, may not a king adopt an heir?
And if he may, then am I lawful king;
For Richard, in the view of many lords,
Resign’d the crown to Henry the Fourth,
Whose heir my father was, and I am his.
He rose against him, being his sovereign,
And made him to resign his crown perforce.
Suppose, my lords, he did it unconstrain’d,
Think you ’twere prejudicial to his crown?
No; for he could not so resign his crown
But that the next heir should succeed and reign.
Art thou against us, Duke of Exeter?
His is the right, and therefore pardon me.
Why whisper you, my lords, and answer not?
My conscience tells me he is lawful king.
All will revolt from me and turn to him.
Plantagenet, for all the claim thou lay’st,
Think not that Henry shall be so depos’d.
Depos’d he shall be, in despite of all.
Thou art deceiv’d. ’Tis not thy southern power
Of Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, nor of Kent,
Which makes thee thus presumptuous and proud,
Can set the Duke up in despite of me.
King Henry, be thy title right or wrong,
Lord Clifford vows to fight in thy defense.
May that ground gape, and swallow me alive,
Where I shall kneel to him that slew my father!
O Clifford, how thy words revive my heart!
Henry of Lancaster, resign thy crown.
What mutter you, or what conspire you, lords?
Do right unto this princely Duke of York,
Or I will fill the house with armed men,
And over the chair of state, where now he sits,
Write up his title with usurping blood.
He stamps with his foot, and the Soldiers show themselves.
My Lord of Warwick, hear but one word:
Let me for this my lifetime reign as king.
Confirm the crown to me and to mine heirs,
And thou shalt reign in quiet while thou liv’st.
I am content: Richard Plantagenet,
Enjoy the kingdom after my decease.
What wrong is this unto the Prince your son!
What good is this to England and himself!
Base, fearful, and despairing Henry!
How hast thou injur’d both thyself and us!
I cannot stay to hear these articles.
Come, cousin, let us tell the Queen these news.
Farewell, faint-hearted and degenerate king,
In whose cold blood no spark of honor bides.
Be thou a prey unto the house of York,
And die in bands for this unmanly deed!
In dreadful war mayst thou be overcome,
Or live in peace abandon’d and despis’d!
Turn this way, Henry, and regard them not.
They seek revenge, and therefore will not yield.
Why should you sigh, my lord?
Not for myself, Lord Warwick, but my son,
Whom I unnaturally shall disinherit.
But be it as it may.
I here entail
The crown to thee and to thine heirs forever,
Conditionally that here thou take an oath
To cease this civil war, and whilst I live
To honor me as thy king and sovereign,
And neither by treason nor hostility
To seek to put me down and reign thyself.
This oath I willingly take and will perform.
Long live King Henry! Plantagenet, embrace him.
And long live thou, and these thy forward sons!
Now York and Lancaster are reconcil’d.
Accurs’d be he that seeks to make them foes!
Sennet. Here they come down.
Farewell, my gracious lord, I’ll to my castle.
Exeunt York and his sons with Soldiers.
And I’ll keep London with my soldiers.
Exit with Soldiers.
And I to Norfolk with my followers.
Exit with Soldiers.
And I unto the sea, from whence I came.
Exit with Soldiers.
And I with grief and sorrow to the court.
Enter the Queen Margaret and Prince Edward.
Here comes the Queen, whose looks bewray her anger.
I’ll steal away.
Exeter, so will I.
Nay, go not from me, I will follow thee.
Be patient, gentle queen, and I will stay.
Who can be patient in such extremes?
Ah, wretched man, would I had died a maid
And never seen thee, never borne thee son,
Seeing thou hast prov’d so unnatural a father!
Hath he deserv’d to lose his birthright thus?
Hadst thou but lov’d him half so well as I,
Or felt that pain which I did for him once,
Or nourish’d him as I did with my blood,
Thou wouldst have left thy dearest heart-blood there
Rather than have made that savage duke thine heir,
And disinherited thine only son.
Father, you cannot disinherit me.
If you be king, why should not I succeed?
Pardon me, Margaret, pardon me, sweet son,
The Earl of Warwick and the Duke enforc’d me.
Enforc’d thee? Art thou king, and wilt be forc’d?
I shame to hear thee speak. Ah, timorous wretch,
Thou hast undone thyself, thy son, and me,
And giv’n unto the house of York such head
As thou shalt reign but by their sufferance.
To entail him and his heirs unto the crown,
What is it, but to make thy sepulchre,
And creep into it far before thy time?
Warwick is chancellor and the lord of Callice,
Stern Falconbridge commands the Narrow Seas,
The Duke is made Protector of the realm,
And yet shalt thou be safe? Such safety finds
The trembling lamb environed with wolves.
Had I been there, which am a silly woman,
The soldiers should have toss’d me on their pikes,
Before I would have granted to that act.
But thou prefer’st thy life before thine honor;
And seeing thou dost, I here divorce myself
Both from thy table, Henry, and thy bed,
Until that act of parliament be repeal’d
Whereby my son is disinherited.
The northern lords that have forsworn thy colors
Will follow mine, if once they see them spread;
And spread they shall be, to thy foul disgrace,
And utter ruin of the house of York.
Thus do I leave thee. Come, son, let’s away.
Our army is ready; come, we’ll after them.
Stay, gentle Margaret, and hear me speak.
Thou hast spoke too much already; get thee gone.
Gentle son Edward, thou wilt stay with me?
Ay, to be murder’d by his enemies.
When I return with victory from the field
I’ll see your Grace; till then, I’ll follow her.
Come, son, away, we may not linger thus.
Exeunt Queen Margaret and the Prince.
Poor queen, how love to me and to her son
Hath made her break out into terms of rage!
Reveng’d may she be on that hateful duke,
Whose haughty spirit, winged with desire,
Will cost my crown, and like an empty eagle
Tire on the flesh of me and of my son!
The loss of those three lords torments my heart;
I’ll write unto them and entreat them fair;
Come, cousin, you shall be the messenger.
And I, I hope, shall reconcile them all.