Yorkshire. A battlefield between Towton and Saxton.
(Warwick; Edward, Earl of March; George of Clarence; Richard)
The exhausted Warwick is joined by Edward and George, who think the battle lost. Richard comes running in with the news of the death of Warwick’s brother, which rouses him and brings him back to the fight. The men leave to rally their troops and counterattack. (56 lines)
Alarum. Excursions. Enter Warwick.
Forespent with toil, as runners with a race,
I lay me down a little while to breathe;
For strokes receiv’d and many blows repaid
Have robb’d my strong-knit sinews of their strength,
And spite of spite needs must I rest awhile.
Enter Edward running.
Smile, gentle heaven! Or strike, ungentle death!
For this world frowns, and Edward’s sun is clouded.
How now, my lord, what hap? What hope of good?
Enter George of Clarence.
Our hap is loss, our hope but sad despair,
Our ranks are broke, and ruin follows us.
What counsel give you? Whither shall we fly?
Bootless is flight, they follow us with wings,
And weak we are and cannot shun pursuit.
Enter Richard running.
Ah, Warwick, why hast thou withdrawn thyself?
Thy brother’s blood the thirsty earth hath drunk,
Broach’d with the steely point of Clifford’s lance;
And in the very pangs of death he cried,
Like to a dismal clangor heard from far,
“Warwick, revenge! Brother, revenge my death!”
So underneath the belly of their steeds,
That stain’d their fetlocks in his smoking blood,
The noble gentleman gave up the ghost.
Then let the earth be drunken with our blood!
I’ll kill my horse, because I will not fly.
Why stand we like soft-hearted women here,
Wailing our losses, whiles the foe doth rage,
And look upon, as if the tragedy
Were play’d in jest by counterfeiting actors?
Here on my knee I vow to God above
I’ll never pause again, never stand still,
Till either death hath clos’d these eyes of mine
Or fortune given me measure of revenge.
O Warwick, I do bend my knee with thine,
And in this vow do chain my soul to thine!
And ere my knee rise from the earth’s cold face,
I throw my hands, mine eyes, my heart to Thee,
Thou setter-up and plucker-down of kings,
Beseeching thee (if with thy will it stands)
That to my foes this body must be prey,
Yet that thy brazen gates of heaven may ope
And give sweet passage to my sinful soul!
Now, lords, take leave until we meet again,
Where e’er it be, in heaven or in earth.
Brother, give me thy hand, and gentle Warwick,
Let me embrace thee in my weary arms.
I, that did never weep, now melt with woe
That winter should cut off our spring-time so.
Away, away! Once more, sweet lords, farewell.
Yet let us all together to our troops,
And give them leave to fly that will not stay;
And call them pillars that will stand to us;
And if we thrive, promise them such rewards
As victors wear at the Olympian games.
This may plant courage in their quailing breasts,
For yet is hope of life and victory.
Foreslow no longer, make we hence amain.