A royal palace.
(King Henry; Percy; Lords; Aumerle; Duke of York; Duchess of York)English French
King Henry asks if anyone has news of his son, who’s leading a wild life in the city. The news he does get is not reassuring. Aumerle arrives and begs to speak to the King alone; as he is about to confess to his treason, York arrives to accuse his son and asks Henry to have Aumerle sentenced. But the Duchess arrives to plead for Aumerle’s life. In the end, Henry agrees to pardon his cousin, but insists that he will have all the other members of the plot executed. (151 lines)
Enter the King Henry with his nobles Percy and other Lords. K. HEN. PERCY. Lords
Can no man tell me of my unthrifty son?
’Tis full three months since I did see him last.
If any plague hang over us, ’tis he.
I would to God, my lords, he might be found.
Inquire at London, ’mongst the taverns there,
For there, they say, he daily doth frequent,
With unrestrained loose companions,
Even such, they say, as stand in narrow lanes
And beat our watch and rob our passengers,
Which he, young wanton and effeminate boy,
Takes on the point of honor to support
So dissolute a crew.
My lord, some two days since I saw the Prince,
And told him of those triumphs held at Oxford.
And what said the gallant?
His answer was, he would unto the stews,
And from the common’st creature pluck a glove
And wear it as a favor, and with that
He would unhorse the lustiest challenger.
As dissolute as desperate, yet through both
I see some sparks of better hope, which elder years
May happily bring forth. But who comes here?
Enter Aumerle amazed. AUM.
Where is the King?
What means our cousin, that he stares and looks
God save your Grace! I do beseech your Majesty,
To have some conference with your Grace alone.
Withdraw yourselves, and leave us here alone.
Exeunt Percy and Lords. PERCY. Lords
What is the matter with our cousin now?
Forever may my knees grow to the earth,
My tongue cleave to my roof within my mouth,
Unless a pardon ere I rise or speak.
Intended, or committed, was this fault?
If on the first, how heinous e’er it be,
To win thy after-love I pardon thee.
Then give me leave that I may turn the key,
That no man enter till my tale be done.
Have thy desire.
Aumerle locks the door. The Duke of York knocks at the door and crieth. AUM. YORK.
My liege, beware! Look to thyself,
Thou hast a traitor in thy presence there.
Villain, I’ll make thee safe.
Draws. K. HEN.
Stay thy revengeful hand, thou hast no cause to fear.
Open the door, secure foolhardy King!
Shall I for love speak treason to thy face?
Open the door, or I will break it open.
King Henry unlocks the door. K. HEN.
Enter York. YORK.
What is the matter, uncle? Speak,
Recover breath, tell us how near is danger
That we may arm us to encounter it.
Peruse this writing here, and thou shalt know
The treason that my haste forbids me show.
Remember, as thou read’st, thy promise pass’d.
I do repent me, read not my name there,
My heart is not confederate with my hand.
It was, villain, ere thy hand did set it down.
I tore it from the traitor’s bosom, King;
Fear, and not love, begets his penitence.
Forget to pity him, lest thy pity prove
A serpent that will sting thee to the heart.
O heinous, strong, and bold conspiracy!
O loyal father of a treacherous son!
Thou sheer, immaculate, and silver fountain,
From whence this stream through muddy passages
Hath held his current and defil’d himself!
Thy overflow of good converts to bad,
And thy abundant goodness shall excuse
This deadly blot in thy digressing son.
So shall my virtue be his vice’s bawd,
An’ he shall spend mine honor with his shame,
As thriftless sons their scraping fathers’ gold.
Mine honor lives when his dishonor dies,
Or my sham’d life in his dishonor lies:
Thou kill’st me in his life; giving him breath,
The traitor lives, the true man’s put to death.
Within. DUCH. YORK.
What ho, my liege! For God’s sake let me in.
What shrill-voic’d suppliant makes this eager cry?
Within. DUCH. YORK.
A woman, and thy aunt, great King, ’tis I.
Speak with me, pity me, open the door!
A beggar begs that never begg’d before.
Our scene is alt’red from a serious thing,
And now chang’d to “The Beggar and the King.”
My dangerous cousin, let your mother in,
I know she is come to pray for your foul sin.
If thou do pardon, whosoever pray,
More sins for this forgiveness prosper may.
This fest’red joint cut off, the rest rest sound,
This let alone will all the rest confound.
Enter Duchess of York. DUCH. YORK.
O King, believe not this hard-hearted man!
Love loving not itself, none other can.
Thou frantic woman, what dost thou make here?
Shall thy old dugs once more a traitor rear?
Sweet York, be patient. Hear me, gentle liege.
Kneels. DUCH. YORK.
Rise up, good aunt.
Not yet, I thee beseech.
Forever will I walk upon my knees,
And never see day that the happy sees,
Till thou give joy, until thou bid me joy
By pardoning Rutland, my transgressing boy.
Unto my mother’s prayers I bend my knee.
Against them both my true joints bended be.
Ill mayst thou thrive if thou grant any grace!
Pleads he in earnest? Look upon his face:
His eyes do drop no tears, his prayers are in jest,
His words come from his mouth, ours from our breast;
He prays but faintly, and would be denied,
We pray with heart and soul, and all beside;
His weary joints would gladly rise, I know,
Our knees still kneel till to the ground they grow;
His prayers are full of false hypocrisy,
Ours of true zeal and deep integrity;
Our prayers do outpray his, then let them have
That mercy which true prayer ought to have.
Good aunt, stand up.
Nay, do not say “stand up”;
Say “pardon” first, and afterwards “stand up.”
And if I were thy nurse, thy tongue to teach,
“Pardon” should be the first word of thy speech.
I never long’d to hear a word till now,
Say “pardon,” King, let pity teach thee how.
The word is short, but not so short as sweet,
No word like “pardon” for kings’ mouths so meet.
Speak it in French, King, say “pardonne moy.”
Dost thou teach pardon pardon to destroy?
Ah, my sour husband, my hard-hearted lord,
That sets the word itself against the word!
Speak “pardon” as ’tis current in our land,
The chopping French we do not understand.
Thine eye begins to speak, set thy tongue there;
Or in thy piteous heart plant thou thine ear,
That hearing how our plaints and prayers do pierce,
Pity may move thee “pardon” to rehearse.
Good aunt, stand up.
I do not sue to stand;
Pardon is all the suit I have in hand.
I pardon him as God shall pardon me.
O happy vantage of a kneeling knee!
Yet am I sick for fear, speak it again,
Twice saying “pardon” doth not pardon twain,
But makes one pardon strong.
With all my heart
I pardon him.
A god on earth thou art.
But for our trusty brother-in-law and the abbot,
With all the rest of that consorted crew,
Destruction straight shall dog them at the heels.
Good uncle, help to order several powers
To Oxford, or where e’er these traitors are.
They shall not live within this world, I swear,
But I will have them if I once know where.
Uncle, farewell, and, cousin, adieu!
Your mother well hath pray’d, and prove you true.
Come, my old son, I pray God make thee new.
Exeunt. K. HEN. AUM. YORK. DUCH. YORK.