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Henry VI, Part 3 Scenes

Scene 4

Plains near Tewksbury.

(Queen Margaret; Prince Edward; Somerset; Oxford; Soldiers; Second Lancastrian Messenger; King Edward; Richard of Gloucester; Clarence)

The Queen and Prince Edward harangue their troops, encouraging them to win despite their prior losses and denigrating their opponents. King Edward and his troops arrive, and the final battle begins. Queen Margaret, her son Prince Edward, and Oxford and Somerset are all captured. (82 lines)

Flourish. March. Enter the Queen Margaret, young Prince Edward, Somerset, Oxford, and Soldiers.


Great lords, wise men ne’er sit and wail their loss,

But cheerly seek how to redress their harms.

What though the mast be now blown overboard,

The cable broke, the holding-anchor lost,

And half our sailors swallow’d in the flood?

Yet lives our pilot still. Is’t meet that he

Should leave the helm and, like a fearful lad,

With tearful eyes add water to the sea,

And give more strength to that which hath too much,

Whiles, in his moan, the ship splits on the rock,

Which industry and courage might have sav’d?

Ah, what a shame, ah, what a fault were this!

Say Warwick was our anchor; what of that?

And Montague our topmast; what of him?

Our slaught’red friends the tackles; what of these?

Why, is not Oxford here another anchor?

And Somerset another goodly mast?

The friends of France our shrouds and tacklings?

And though unskillful, why not Ned and I

For once allow’d the skillful pilot’s charge?

We will not from the helm to sit and weep,

But keep our course (though the rough wind say no)

From shelves and rocks that threaten us with wrack.

As good to chide the waves as speak them fair.

And what is Edward but a ruthless sea?

What Clarence but a quicksand of deceit?

And Richard but a ragged fatal rock?

All these the enemies to our poor bark.

Say you can swim, alas, ’tis but a while;

Tread on the sand, why, there you quickly sink;

Bestride the rock, the tide will wash you off,

Or else you famish—that’s a threefold death.

This speak I, lords, to let you understand,

If case some one of you would fly from us,

That there’s no hop’d-for mercy with the brothers

More than with ruthless waves, with sands and rocks.

Why, courage then! What cannot be avoided,

’Twere childish weakness to lament or fear.


Methinks a woman of this valiant spirit

Should, if a coward heard her speak these words,

Infuse his breast with magnanimity,

And make him, naked, foil a man at arms.

I speak not this as doubting any here;

For did I but suspect a fearful man,

He should have leave to go away betimes,

Lest in our need he might infect another,

And make him of like spirit to himself.

If any such be here—as God forbid!—

Let him depart before we need his help.


Women and children of so high a courage,

And warriors faint! Why, ’twere perpetual shame.

O brave young prince! Thy famous grandfather

Doth live again in thee. Long mayst thou live

To bear his image and renew his glories!


And he that will not fight for such a hope

Go home to bed, and like the owl by day,

If he arise, be mock’d and wond’red at.


Thanks, gentle Somerset, sweet Oxford, thanks.


And take his thanks that yet hath nothing else.

Enter Second Lancastrian Messenger.


Prepare you, lords, for Edward is at hand,

Ready to fight; therefore be resolute.


I thought no less; it is his policy

To haste thus fast, to find us unprovided.


But he’s deceiv’d, we are in readiness.


This cheers my heart, to see your forwardness.


Here pitch our battle, hence we will not budge.

Flourish and march. Enter King Edward, Richard of Gloucester, Clarence, and Soldiers.


Brave followers, yonder stands the thorny wood,

Which by the heavens’ assistance and your strength,

Must by the roots be hewn up yet ere night.

I need not add more fuel to your fire,

For well I wot ye blaze to burn them out.

Give signal to the fight, and to it, lords!


Lords, knights, and gentlemen, what I should say

My tears gainsay; for every word I speak,

Ye see I drink the water of my eye.

Therefore no more but this: Henry, your sovereign,

Is prisoner to the foe, his state usurp’d,

His realm a slaughter-house, his subjects slain,

His statutes cancell’d, and his treasure spent;

And yonder is the wolf that makes this spoil.

You fight in justice; then in God’s name, lords,

Be valiant, and give signal to the fight.

Alarum to the battle. Retreat. King Edward, with his followers, flies. Excursions; the chambers be discharged.

Then enter King Edward, Clarence, Gloucester, and the rest of the King’s followers and make a great shout, and cry, “For York! For York!”.

Then Queen Margaret is taken, and Prince Edward and Oxford and Somerset.



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