France. A room in King Lewis XI’s palace.
(Lewis the French King; Lady Bona; Admiral Bourbon; Prince Edward; Queen Margaret; Earl of Oxford; Warwick; Post)English
Margaret begs for help from King Lewis of France, who seems well-disposed towards her until Warwick arrives with the offer that Edward should marry Lewis’s sister Bona. Margaret tries to wreck the diplomacy, but when Lewis questions Warwick further and decides that Edward is well-settled as King, her efforts come to naught. All is arranged between Warwick and Lewis, until a messenger arrives with letters informing Warwick that Edward has married Lady Grey. Infuriated at being publicly made a fool like this, Warwick immediately abandons Edward’s cause and rallies to Margaret. With the French, they plan an invasion to overthrow the Yorkist regime. Warwick and Margaret agree to marry their children to each other. (270 lines)
Flourish. Enter Lewis the French King, his sister Lady Bona, his Admiral, call’d Bourbon, Prince Edward, Queen Margaret, and the Earl of Oxford. K. LEW. BONA. BOURB. PRINCE. Q. MAR. OXF.
Lewis sits, and riseth up again. K. LEW.
Fair Queen of England, worthy Margaret,
Sit down with us. It ill befits thy state
And birth that thou shouldst stand while Lewis doth sit.
No, mighty King of France; now Margaret
Must strike her sail and learn a while to serve
Where kings command. I was, I must confess,
Great Albion’s queen in former golden days;
But now mischance hath trod my title down,
And with dishonor laid me on the ground,
Where I must take like seat unto my fortune,
And to my humble seat conform myself.
Why, say, fair queen, whence springs this deep despair?
From such a cause as fills mine eyes with tears
And stops my tongue, while heart is drown’d in cares.
What e’er it be, be thou still like thyself,
And sit thee by our side.
Seats her by him. Q. MAR.
Yield not thy neck
To fortune’s yoke, but let thy dauntless mind
Still ride in triumph over all mischance.
Be plain, Queen Margaret, and tell thy grief;
It shall be eas’d if France can yield relief.
Those gracious words revive my drooping thoughts
And give my tongue-tied sorrows leave to speak.
Now therefore be it known to noble Lewis,
That Henry, sole possessor of my love,
Is, of a king, become a banish’d man,
And forc’d to live in Scotland a forlorn;
While proud ambitious Edward, Duke of York,
Usurps the regal title and the seat
Of England’s true-anointed lawful king.
This is the cause that I, poor Margaret,
With this my son, Prince Edward, Henry’s heir,
Am come to crave thy just and lawful aid;
And if thou fail us, all our hope is done.
Scotland hath will to help, but cannot help;
Our people and our peers are both misled,
Our treasure seiz’d, our soldiers put to flight,
And as thou seest, ourselves in heavy plight.
Renowned queen, with patience calm the storm,
While we bethink a means to break it off.
The more we stay, the stronger grows our foe.
The more I stay, the more I’ll succor thee.
O, but impatience waiteth on true sorrow.
And see where comes the breeder of my sorrow!
Enter Warwick. WAR.
What’s he approacheth boldly to our presence?
Our Earl of Warwick, Edward’s greatest friend.
Welcome, brave Warwick! What brings thee to France?
He descends. She ariseth. K. LEW. Q. MAR.
Ay, now begins a second storm to rise,
For this is he that moves both wind and tide.
From worthy Edward, King of Albion,
My lord and sovereign and thy vowed friend,
I come, in kindness and unfeigned love,
First, to do greetings to thy royal person,
And then to crave a league of amity,
And lastly, to confirm that amity
With nuptial knot, if thou vouchsafe to grant
That virtuous Lady Bona, thy fair sister,
To England’s king in lawful marriage.
Aside. Q. MAR.
If that go forward, Henry’s hope is done.
And, gracious madam
Speaking to Lady Bona. WAR. BONA.
in our king’s behalf
I am commanded, with your leave and favor,
Humbly to kiss your hand, and with my tongue
To tell the passion of my sovereign’s heart,
Where fame, late ent’ring at his heedful ears,
Hath plac’d thy beauty’s image and thy virtue.
King Lewis and Lady Bona, hear me speak
Before you answer Warwick. His demand
Springs not from Edward’s well-meant honest love,
But from deceit bred by necessity;
For how can tyrants safely govern home,
Unless abroad they purchase great alliance?
To prove him tyrant this reason may suffice,
That Henry liveth still; but were he dead,
Yet here Prince Edward stands, King Henry’s son.
Look therefore, Lewis, that by this league and marriage
Thou draw not on thy danger and dishonor;
For though usurpers sway the rule a while,
Yet heav’ns are just, and time suppresseth wrongs.
And why not Queen?
Because thy father Henry did usurp,
And thou no more art prince than she is queen.
Then Warwick disannuls great John of Gaunt,
Which did subdue the greatest part of Spain;
And after John of Gaunt, Henry the Fourth,
Whose wisdom was a mirror to the wisest;
And after that wise prince, Henry the Fifth,
Who by his prowess conquered all France:
From these our Henry lineally descends.
Oxford, how haps it in this smooth discourse
You told not how Henry the Sixth hath lost
All that which Henry the Fifth had gotten?
Methinks these peers of France should smile at that.
But for the rest: you tell a pedigree
Of threescore and two years—a silly time
To make prescription for a kingdom’s worth.
Why, Warwick, canst thou speak against thy liege,
Whom thou obey’dst thirty and six years,
And not bewray thy treason with a blush?
Can Oxford, that did ever fence the right,
Now buckler falsehood with a pedigree?
For shame, leave Henry, and call Edward king.
Call him my king by whose injurious doom
My elder brother, the Lord Aubrey Vere,
Was done to death? And more than so, my father,
Even in the downfall of his mellow’d years,
When nature brought him to the door of death?
No, Warwick, no; while life upholds this arm,
This arm upholds the house of Lancaster.
And I the house of York.
Queen Margaret, Prince Edward, and Oxford,
Vouchsafe, at our request, to stand aside,
While I use further conference with Warwick.
They stand aloof. Q. MAR. PRINCE. OXF.
Heavens grant that Warwick’s words bewitch him not!
Now, Warwick, tell me, even upon thy conscience,
Is Edward your true king? For I were loath
To link with him that were not lawful chosen.
Thereon I pawn my credit and mine honor.
But is he gracious in the people’s eye?
The more that Henry was unfortunate.
Then further: all dissembling set aside,
Tell me for truth the measure of his love
Unto our sister Bona.
Such it seems
As may beseem a monarch like himself.
Myself have often heard him say, and swear,
That this his love was an eternal plant,
Whereof the root was fix’d in virtue’s ground,
The leaves and fruit maintain’d with beauty’s sun,
Exempt from envy, but not from disdain,
Unless the Lady Bona quit his pain.
Now, sister, let us hear your firm resolve.
Your grant, or your denial, shall be mine.
Yet I confess that often ere this day,
Speaks to Warwick. BONA. WAR.
When I have heard your king’s desert recounted,
Mine ear hath tempted judgment to desire.
Then, Warwick, thus: our sister shall be Edward’s.
And now forthwith shall articles be drawn
Touching the jointure that your king must make,
Which with her dowry shall be counterpois’d.
Draw near, Queen Margaret, and be a witness
That Bona shall be wife to the English king.
To Edward, but not to the English king.
Deceitful Warwick, it was thy device
By this alliance to make void my suit.
Before thy coming, Lewis was Henry’s friend.
And still is friend to him and Margaret.
But if your title to the crown be weak,
As may appear by Edward’s good success,
Then ’tis but reason that I be releas’d
From giving aid which late I promised.
Yet shall you have all kindness at my hand
That your estate requires and mine can yield.
Henry now lives in Scotland at his ease;
Where having nothing, nothing can he lose.
And as for you yourself, our quondam queen,
You have a father able to maintain you,
And better ’twere you troubled him than France.
Peace, impudent and shameless Warwick,
Proud setter-up and puller-down of kings!
I will not hence, till with my talk and tears
(Both full of truth) I make King Lewis behold
Thy sly conveyance and thy lord’s false love,
For both of you are birds of self-same feather.
Post blowing a horn within. POST.
Warwick, this is some post to us or thee.
Enter the Post. POST.
My lord ambassador, these letters are for you,
Speaks to Warwick. POST. WAR.
Sent from your brother, Marquess Montague.
These from our king unto your Majesty.
To Lewis. POST. K. LEW.
And, madam, these for you; from whom I know not.
To Margaret. POST. Q. MAR.
They all read their letters. WAR. K. LEW. Q. MAR.
I like it well that our fair queen and mistress
Smiles at her news, while Warwick frowns at his.
Nay, mark how Lewis stamps as he were nettled.
I hope all’s for the best.
Warwick, what are thy news? And yours, fair queen?
Mine such as fill my heart with unhop’d joys.
Mine full of sorrow and heart’s discontent.
What? Has your king married the Lady Grey?
And now to soothe your forgery and his,
Sends me a paper to persuade me patience?
Is this th’ alliance that he seeks with France?
Dare he presume to scorn us in this manner?
I told your Majesty as much before:
This proveth Edward’s love and Warwick’s honesty.
King Lewis, I here protest in sight of heaven,
And by the hope I have of heavenly bliss,
That I am clear from this misdeed of Edward’s;
No more my king, for he dishonors me,
But most himself if he could see his shame.
Did I forget that by the house of York
My father came untimely to his death?
Did I let pass th’ abuse done to my niece?
Did I impale him with the regal crown?
Did I put Henry from his native right?
And am I guerdon’d at the last with shame?
Shame on himself! For my desert is honor;
And to repair my honor lost for him,
I here renounce him and return to Henry.
My noble queen, let former grudges pass,
And henceforth I am thy true servitor.
I will revenge his wrong to Lady Bona,
And replant Henry in his former state.
Warwick, these words have turn’d my hate to love,
And I forgive and quite forget old faults,
And joy that thou becom’st King Henry’s friend.
So much his friend, ay, his unfeigned friend,
That if King Lewis vouchsafe to furnish us
With some few bands of chosen soldiers,
I’ll undertake to land them on our coast,
And force the tyrant from his seat by war.
’Tis not his new-made bride shall succor him,
And as for Clarence, as my letters tell me,
He’s very likely now to fall from him,
For matching more for wanton lust than honor,
Or than for strength and safety of our country.
Dear brother, how shall Bona be reveng’d
But by thy help to this distressed queen?
Renowned prince, how shall poor Henry live,
Unless thou rescue him from foul despair?
My quarrel and this English queen’s are one.
And mine, fair Lady Bona, joins with yours.
And mine with hers, and thine, and Margaret’s.
Therefore, at last, I firmly am resolv’d
You shall have aid.
Let me give humble thanks for all at once.
Then, England’s messenger, return in post,
And tell false Edward, thy supposed king,
That Lewis of France is sending over masquers
To revel it with him and his new bride.
Thou seest what’s pass’d, go fear thy king withal.
Tell him, in hope he’ll prove a widower shortly,
I wear the willow garland for his sake.
Tell him, my mourning weeds are laid aside,
And I am ready to put armor on.
Tell him from me that he hath done me wrong,
And therefore I’ll uncrown him ere’t be long.
There’s thy reward, be gone.
Exit Post. POST.
Thou and Oxford, with five thousand men,
Shall cross the seas and bid false Edward battle;
And as occasion serves, this noble queen
And prince shall follow with a fresh supply.
Yet ere thou go, but answer me one doubt:
What pledge have we of thy firm loyalty?
This shall assure my constant loyalty,
That if our queen and this young prince agree,
I’ll join mine eldest daughter, and my joy,
To him forthwith in holy wedlock bands.
Yes, I agree, and thank you for your motion.
Son Edward, she is fair and virtuous,
Therefore delay not, give thy hand to Warwick,
And with thy hand, thy faith irrevocable
That only Warwick’s daughter shall be thine.
Yes, I accept her, for she well deserves it,
And here, to pledge my vow, I give my hand.
He gives his hand to Warwick. PRINCE. WAR.
Why stay we now? These soldiers shall be levied,
And thou, Lord Bourbon, our High Admiral,
Shall waft them over with our royal fleet.
I long till Edward fall by war’s mischance,
For mocking marriage with a dame of France.
Exeunt. Manet Warwick. K. LEW. BONA. BOURB. PRINCE. Q. MAR. OXF.
I came from Edward as ambassador,
But I return his sworn and mortal foe.
Matter of marriage was the charge he gave me,
But dreadful war shall answer his demand.
Had he none else to make a stale but me?
Then none but I shall turn his jest to sorrow.
I was the chief that rais’d him to the crown,
And I’ll be chief to bring him down again;
Not that I pity Henry’s misery,
But seek revenge on Edward’s mockery.