London. A palace room.
(Richard of Gloucester; Clarence; Somerset; Montague; King Edward; Queen Elizabeth; Pembroke; Stafford; Hastings; Post)
None of Edward’s noblemen, nor his brothers, are pleased with his choice of bride, especially as it has made an enemy of Warwick and Lewis of France, as well as because Edward is showering gifts on her relatives. They band together and tell him so. Edward airily dismisses their concerns, just as he refuses to be at all scared by the news of the alliance between Margaret, Lewis and Warwick. He begins to realize that his situation is precarious when both Somerset and his own brother Clarence abandon him for Warwick’s cause. Still, he remains confident. (149 lines)
Enter Richard of Gloucester, Clarence, Somerset, and Montague.
Now tell me, brother Clarence, what think you
Of this new marriage with the Lady Grey?
Hath not our brother made a worthy choice?
Alas, you know, ’tis far from hence to France;
How could he stay till Warwick made return?
My lords, forbear this talk; here comes the King.
Flourish. Enter King Edward, Lady Grey, now Queen Elizabeth, Pembroke, Stafford, Hastings, and others. Four stand on one side and four on the other.
And his well-chosen bride.
I mind to tell him plainly what I think.
Now, brother of Clarence, how like you our choice,
That you stand pensive as half malecontent?
As well as Lewis of France or the Earl of Warwick,
Which are so weak of courage and in judgment
That they’ll take no offense at our abuse.
Suppose they take offense without a cause;
They are but Lewis and Warwick, I am Edward,
Your king and Warwick’s, and must have my will.
And shall have your will, because our king.
Yet hasty marriage seldom proveth well.
Yea, brother Richard, are you offended too?
No; God forbid that I should wish them sever’d
Whom God hath join’d together; ay, and ’twere pity
To sunder them that yoke so well together.
Setting your scorns and your mislike aside,
Tell me some reason why the Lady Grey
Should not become my wife and England’s queen.
And you too, Somerset and Montague,
Speak freely what you think.
Then this is mine opinion: that King Lewis
Becomes your enemy, for mocking him
About the marriage of the Lady Bona.
And Warwick, doing what you gave in charge,
Is now dishonored by this new marriage.
What if both Lewis and Warwick be appeas’d
By such invention as I can devise?
Yet, to have join’d with France in such alliance
Would more have strength’ned this our commonwealth
’Gainst foreign storms than any home-bred marriage.
Why, knows not Montague that of itself
England is safe, if true within itself?
But the safer when ’tis back’d with France.
’Tis better using France than trusting France.
Let us be back’d with God, and with the seas,
Which he hath giv’n for fence impregnable,
And with their helps only defend ourselves:
In them, and in ourselves, our safety lies.
For this one speech Lord Hastings well deserves
To have the heir of the Lord Hungerford.
Ay, what of that? It was my will and grant,
And for this once my will shall stand for law.
And yet methinks your Grace hath not done well
To give the heir and daughter of Lord Scales
Unto the brother of your loving bride.
She better would have fitted me or Clarence;
But in your bride you bury brotherhood.
Or else you would not have bestow’d the heir
Of the Lord Bonville on your new wive’s son,
And leave your brothers to go speed elsewhere.
Alas, poor Clarence! Is it for a wife
That thou art malecontent? I will provide thee.
In choosing for yourself, you show’d your judgment;
Which being shallow, you shall give me leave
To play the broker in mine own behalf;
And to that end I shortly mind to leave you.
Leave me, or tarry, Edward will be king,
And not be tied unto his brother’s will.
My lords, before it pleas’d his Majesty
To raise my state to title of a queen,
Do me but right, and you must all confess
That I was not ignoble of descent,
And meaner than myself have had like fortune.
But as this title honors me and mine,
So your dislikes, to whom I would be pleasing,
Doth cloud my joys with danger and with sorrow.
My love, forbear to fawn upon their frowns.
What danger or what sorrow can befall thee
So long as Edward is thy constant friend
And their true sovereign whom they must obey?
Nay, whom they shall obey, and love thee too,
Unless they seek for hatred at my hands;
Which if they do, yet will I keep thee safe,
And they shall feel the vengeance of my wrath.
I hear, yet say not much, but think the more.
Enter a Post.
Now, messenger, what letters or what news
My sovereign liege, no letters, and few words,
But such as I (without your special pardon)
Dare not relate.
Go to, we pardon thee; therefore, in brief,
Tell me their words as near as thou canst guess them.
What answer makes King Lewis unto our letters?
At my depart, these were his very words:
“Go tell false Edward, the supposed king,
That Lewis of France is sending over masquers
To revel it with him and his new bride.”
Is Lewis so brave? Belike he thinks me Henry.
But what said Lady Bona to my marriage?
These were her words, utt’red with mild disdain:
“Tell him, in hope he’ll prove a widower shortly,
I’ll wear the willow garland for his sake.”
I blame not her: she could say little less;
She had the wrong. But what said Henry’s queen?
For I have heard that she was there in place.
“Tell him,” quoth she, “my mourning weeds are done,
And I am ready to put armor on.”
Belike she minds to play the Amazon.
But what said Warwick to these injuries?
He, more incens’d against your Majesty
Than all the rest, discharg’d me with these words:
“Tell him from me that he hath done me wrong,
And therefore I’ll uncrown him ere’t be long.”
Ha? Durst the traitor breathe out so proud words?
Well, I will arm me, being thus forewarn’d.
They shall have wars, and pay for their presumption.
But say, is Warwick friends with Margaret?
Ay, gracious sovereign, they are so link’d in friendship
That young Prince Edward marries Warwick’s daughter.
Belike the elder; Clarence will have the younger.
Now, brother king, farewell, and sit you fast,
For I will hence to Warwick’s other daughter,
That though I want a kingdom, yet in marriage
I may not prove inferior to yourself.
You that love me and Warwick, follow me.
Exit Clarence, and Somerset follow.
My thoughts aim at a further matter: I
Stay not for the love of Edward, but the crown.
Clarence and Somerset both gone to Warwick?
Yet am I arm’d against the worst can happen;
And haste is needful in this desp’rate case.
Pembroke and Stafford, you in our behalf
Go levy men, and make prepare for war;
They are already or quickly will be landed.
Myself in person will straight follow you.
Exeunt Pembroke and Stafford.
But ere I go, Hastings and Montague,
Resolve my doubt. You twain, of all the rest,
Are near to Warwick by blood and by alliance:
Tell me if you love Warwick more than me?
If it be so, then both depart to him;
I rather wish you foes than hollow friends.
But if you mind to hold your true obedience,
Give me assurance with some friendly vow,
That I may never have you in suspect.
So God help Montague as he proves true!
And Hastings as he favors Edward’s cause!
Now, brother Richard, will you stand by us?
Ay, in despite of all that shall withstand you.
Why, so! Then am I sure of victory.
Now therefore let us hence, and lose no hour,
Till we meet Warwick with his foreign pow’r.