London. The Tower.
(King Henry the Sixth; Clarence; Warwick; Somerset; Henry Richmond; Oxford; Montague; Lieutenant of the Tower; Warwick’s Messenger)
Henry is released from prison by Warwick, but has no great interest in ruling. Rather, he makes Warwick and Clarence joint Protectors of the realm. The two men make plans to seize all of Edward’s lands and pronounce him a traitor. Henry asks that his Queen and his son be brought over from France. The King sees the young Earl of Richmond by Somerset’s side, and predicts that he is the future hope of England. News is brought of Edward’s escape, which causes great worry. Somerset and oxford agree to send Richmond to Brittany for safety in the approaching strife. (103 lines)
Flourish. Enter King Henry the Sixth, Clarence, Warwick, Somerset, young Henry Richmond, Oxford, Montague, and Lieutenant of the Tower.
Master Lieutenant, now that God and friends
Have shaken Edward from the regal seat,
And turn’d my captive state to liberty,
My fear to hope, my sorrows unto joys,
At our enlargement what are thy due fees?
Subjects may challenge nothing of their sov’reigns,
But if an humble prayer may prevail,
I then crave pardon of your Majesty.
For what, Lieutenant? For well using me?
Nay, be thou sure, I’ll well requite thy kindness,
For that it made my imprisonment a pleasure;
Ay, such a pleasure as incaged birds
Conceive, when, after many moody thoughts,
At last by notes of household harmony
They quite forget their loss of liberty.
But, Warwick, after God, thou set’st me free,
And chiefly therefore I thank God and thee.
He was the author, thou the instrument.
Therefore that I may conquer fortune’s spite
By living low, where fortune cannot hurt me,
And that the people of this blessed land
May not be punish’d with my thwarting stars,
Warwick, although my head still wear the crown,
I here resign my government to thee,
For thou art fortunate in all thy deeds.
Your Grace hath still been fam’d for virtuous,
And now may seem as wise as virtuous
By spying and avoiding fortune’s malice,
For few men rightly temper with the stars;
Yet in this one thing let me blame your Grace,
For choosing me when Clarence is in place.
No, Warwick, thou art worthy of the sway,
To whom the heav’ns in thy nativity
Adjudg’d an olive branch and laurel crown,
As likely to be blest in peace and war;
And therefore I yield thee my free consent.
And I choose Clarence only for Protector.
Warwick and Clarence, give me both your hands.
Now join your hands, and with your hands your hearts,
That no dissension hinder government.
I make you both Protectors of this land,
While I myself will lead a private life,
And in devotion spend my latter days,
To sin’s rebuke and my Creator’s praise.
What answers Clarence to his sovereign’s will?
That he consents, if Warwick yield consent,
For on thy fortune I repose myself.
Why then, though loath, yet must I be content.
We’ll yoke together like a double shadow
To Henry’s body, and supply his place;
I mean, in bearing weight of government,
While he enjoys the honor and his ease.
And, Clarence, now then it is more than needful
Forthwith that Edward be pronounc’d a traitor,
And all his lands and goods confiscate.
What else? And that succession be determined.
Ay, therein Clarence shall not want his part.
But with the first of all your chief affairs,
Let me entreat (for I command no more)
That Margaret your queen and my son Edward
Be sent for, to return from France with speed;
For till I see them here, by doubtful fear
My joy of liberty is half eclips’d.
It shall be done, my sovereign, with all speed.
My Lord of Somerset, what youth is that
Of whom you seem to have so tender care?
My liege, it is young Henry, Earl of Richmond.
Come hither, England’s hope.
Lays his hand on his head.
If secret powers
Suggest but truth to my divining thoughts,
This pretty lad will prove our country’s bliss.
His looks are full of peaceful majesty,
His head by nature fram’d to wear a crown,
His hand to wield a sceptre, and himself
Likely in time to bless a regal throne.
Make much of him, my lords, for this is he
Must help you more than you are hurt by me.
Enter Warwick’s Messenger.
What news, my friend?
That Edward is escaped from your brother,
And fled (as he hears since) to Burgundy.
Unsavory news! But how made he escape?
He was convey’d by Richard, Duke of Gloucester,
And the Lord Hastings, who attended him
In secret ambush on the forest side,
And from the Bishop’s huntsmen rescu’d him;
For hunting was his daily exercise.
My brother was too careless of his charge.
But let us hence, my sovereign, to provide
A salve for any sore that may betide.
Exeunt. Manent Somerset, Richmond, and Oxford.
My lord, I like not of this flight of Edward’s;
For doubtless Burgundy will yield him help,
And we shall have more wars before’t be long.
As Henry’s late presaging prophecy
Did glad my heart with hope of this young Richmond,
So doth my heart misgive me, in these conflicts
What may befall him, to his harm and ours.
Therefore, Lord Oxford, to prevent the worst,
Forthwith we’ll send him hence to Brittany,
Till storms be past of civil enmity.
Ay; for if Edward repossess the crown,
’Tis like that Richmond with the rest shall down.
It shall be so; he shall to Brittany.
Come therefore, let’s about it speedily.