Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > 2 King Henry VI.
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
The Second Part of King Henry the Sixth
 
Act III. Scene II.
 
Bury St. Edmund’s.  A Room in the Palace.
 
Enter certain Murderers, hastily.
  First Mur.  Run to my Lord of Suffolk; let him know
We have dispatch’d the duke, as he commanded.
  Sec. Mur.  O! that it were to do. What have we done?        5
Didst ever hear a man so penitent?
 
Enter SUFFOLK.
  First Mur.  Here comes my lord.
  Suf.  Now, sirs, have you dispatch’d this thing?
  First Mur.  Ay, my good lord, he’s dead.        10
  Suf.  Why, that’s well said. Go, get you to my house;
I will reward you for this venturous deed.
The king and all the peers are here at hand.
Have you laid fair the bed? is all things well,
According as I gave directions?        15
  First Mur.  ’Tis, my good lord.
  Suf.  Away! be gone.  [Exeunt Murderers.
 
Sound trumpets.  Enter KING HENRY, QUEEN MARGARET, CARDINAL BEAUFORT, SOMERSET, Lords, and Others.
  K. Hen.  Go, call our uncle to our presence straight;
Say, we intend to try his Grace to-day,        20
If he be guilty, as ’tis published.
  Suf.  I’ll call him presently, my noble lord.  [Exit.
  K. Hen.  Lords, take your places; and, I pray you all,
Proceed no straiter ’gainst our uncle Gloucester
Than from true evidence, of good esteem,        25
He be approv’d in practice culpable.
  Q. Mar.  God forbid any malice should prevail
That faultless may condemn a nobleman!
Pray God, he may acquit him of suspicion!
  K. Hen.  I thank thee, Meg; these words content me much.        30
 
Re-enter SUFFOLK.
How now! why look’st thou pale? why tremblest thou?
Where is our uncle? what’s the matter, Suffolk?
  Suf.  Dead in his bed, my lord; Gloucester is dead.
  Q. Mar.  Marry, God forfend!        35
  Car.  God’s secret judgment: I did dream to-night
The duke was dumb, and could not speak a word.  [The KING swoons.
  Q. Mar.  How fares my lord? Help, lords! the king is dead.
  Som.  Rear up his body; wring him by the nose.
  Q. Mar.  Run, go help, help! O Henry, ope thine eyes!        40
  Suf.  He doth revive again. Madam, be patient.
  K. Hen.  O heavenly God!
  Q. Mar.        How fares my gracious lord?
  Suf.  Comfort, my sovereign! gracious Henry, comfort!
  K. Hen.  What! doth my Lord of Suffolk comfort me?        45
Came he right now to sing a raven’s note,
Whose dismal tune bereft my vital powers,
And thinks he that the chirping of a wren,
By crying comfort from a hollow breast,
Can chase away the first-conceived sound?        50
Hide not thy poison with such sugar’d words:
Lay not thy hands on me; forbear, I say:
Their touch affrights me as a serpent’s sting.
Thou baleful messenger, out of my sight!
Upon thy eyeballs murderous tyranny        55
Sits in grim majesty to fright the world.
Look not upon me, for thine eyes are wounding:
Yet do not go away; come, basilisk,
And kill the innocent gazer with thy sight;
For in the shade of death I shall find joy,        60
In life but double death, now Gloucester’s dead.
  Q. Mar.  Why do you rate my Lord of Suffolk thus?
Although the duke was enemy to him,
Yet he, most Christian-like, laments his death:
And for myself, foe as he was to me,        65
Might liquid tears or heart-offending groans
Or blood-consuming sighs recall his life,
I would be blind with weeping, sick with groans,
Look pale as primrose with blood-drinking sighs,
And all to have the noble duke alive.        70
What know I how the world may deem of me?
For it is known we were but hollow friends:
It may be judg’d I made the duke away:
So shall my name with slander’s tongue be wounded,
And princes’ courts be fill’d with my reproach.        75
This get I by his death. Ay me, unhappy!
To be a queen, and crown’d with infamy!
  K. Hen.  Ah! woe is me for Gloucester, wretched man.
  Q. Mar.  Be woe for me, more wretched than he is.
What! dost thou turn away and hide thy face?        80
I am no loathsome leper; look on me.
What! art thou, like the adder, waxen deaf?
Be poisonous too and kill thy forlorn queen.
Is all thy comfort shut in Gloucester’s tomb?
Why, then, Dame Margaret was ne’er thy joy:        85
Erect his statua and worship it,
And make my image but an alehouse sign.
Was I for this nigh wrack’d upon the sea,
And twice by awkward wind from England’s bank
Drove back again unto my native clime?        90
What boded this, but well forewarning wind
Did seem to say, ‘Seek not a scorpion’s nest,
Nor set no footing on this unkind shore?’
What did I then, but curs’d the gentle gusts
And he that loos’d them forth their brazen caves;        95
And bid them blow towards England’s blessed shore,
Or turn our stern upon a dreadful rock?
Yet Æolus would not be a murderer,
But left that hateful office unto thee:
The pretty vaulting sea refus’d to drown me,        100
Knowing that thou wouldst have me drown’d on shore
With tears as salt as sea through thy unkindness:
The splitting rocks cower’d in the sinking sands,
And would not dash me with their ragged sides,
Because thy flinty heart, more hard than they,        105
Might in thy palace perish Margaret.
As far as I could ken thy chalky cliffs,
When from thy shore the tempest beat us back,
I stood upon the hatches in the storm,
And when the dusky sky began to rob        110
My earnest-gaping sight of thy land’s view,
I took a costly jewel from my neck,
A heart it was, bound in with diamonds,
And threw it towards thy land: the sea receiv’d it,
And so I wish’d thy body might my heart:        115
And even with this I lost fair England’s view,
And bid mine eyes be packing with my heart,
And call’d them blind and dusky spectacles
For losing ken of Albion’s wished coast.
How often have I tempted Suffolk’s tongue—        120
The agent of thy foul inconstancy—
To sit and witch me, as Ascanius did
When he to madding Dido would unfold
His father’s acts, commenc’d in burning Troy!
Am I not witch’d like her? or thou not false like him?        125
Ay me! I can no more. Die, Margaret!
For Henry weeps that thou dost live so long.
 
Noise within.  Enter WARWICK and SALISBURY.
The Commons press to the door.
  War.  It is reported, mighty sovereign,        130
That good Duke Humphrey trait’rously is murder’d
By Suffolk and the Cardinal Beaufort’s means.
The commons, like an angry hive of bees
That want their leader, scatter up and down,
And care not who they sting in his revenge.        135
Myself have calm’d their spleenful mutiny,
Until they hear the order of his death.
  K. Hen.  That he is dead, good Warwick, ’tis too true;
But how he died God knows, not Henry.
Enter his chamber, view his breathless corpse,        140
And comment then upon his sudden death.
  War.  That shall I do, my liege. Stay, Salisbury,
With the rude multitude till I return.  [WARWICK goes into an inner chamber.  SALISBURY retires.
  K. Hen.  O! Thou that judgest all things, stay my thoughts,
My thoughts that labour to persuade my soul        145
Some violent hands were laid on Humphrey’s life.
If my suspect be false, forgive me, God,
For judgment only doth belong to thee.
Fain would I go to chafe his paly lips
With twenty thousand kisses, and to drain        150
Upon his face an ocean of salt tears,
To tell my love unto his deaf dumb trunk,
And with my fingers feel his hand unfeeling:
But all in vain are these mean obsequies,
And to survey his dead and earthly image        155
What were it but to make my sorrow greater?
 
Re-enter WARWICK and Others bearing GLOUCESTER’S body on a bed.
  War.  Come hither, gracious sovereign, view this body.
  K. Hen.  That is to see how deep my grave is made;
For with his soul fled all my wordly solace,        160
For seeing him I see my life in death.
  War.  As surely as my soul intends to live
With that dread King that took our state upon him
To free us from his Father’s wrathful curse,
I do believe that violent hands were laid        165
Upon the life of this thrice-famed duke.
  Suf.  A dreadful oath, sworn with a solomn tongue!
What instance gives Lord Warwick for his vow?
  War.  See how the blood is settled in his face.
Oft have I seen a timely-parted ghost,        170
Of ashy semblance, meagre, pale, and bloodless,
Being all descended to the labouring heart;
Who, in the conflict that it holds with death,
Attracts the same for aidance ’gainst the enemy;
Which with the heart there cools, and ne’er returneth        175
To blush and beautify the cheek again.
But see, his face is black and full of blood,
His eyeballs further out than when he liv’d,
Staring full ghastly like a strangled man;
His hair uprear’d, his nostrils stretch’d with struggling:        180
His hands abroad display’d, as one that grasp’d
And tugg’d for life, and was by strength subdu’d.
Look on the sheets, his hair, you see, is sticking;
His well-proportion’d beard made rough and rugged,
Like to the summer’s corn by tempest lodg’d.        185
It cannot be but he was murder’d here;
The least of all these signs were probable.
  Suf.  Why, Warwick, who should do the duke to death?
Myself and Beaufort had him in protection;
And we, I hope, sir, are no murderers.        190
  War.  But both of you were vow’d Duke Humphrey’s foes,
And you, forsooth, had the good duke to keep:
’Tis like you would not feast him like a friend,
And ’tis well seen he found an enemy.
  Q. Mar.  Then you, belike, suspect these noblemen        195
As guilty of Duke Humphrey’s timeless death.
  War.  Who finds the heifer dead, and bleeding fresh,
And sees fast by a butcher with an axe,
But will suspect ’twas he that made the slaughter?
Who finds the partridge in the puttock’s nest,        200
But may imagine how the bird was dead,
Although the kite soar with unbloodied beak?
Even so suspicious is this tragedy.
  Q. Mar.  Are you the butcher, Suffolk? where’s your knife?
Is Beaufort term’d a kite? where are his talons?        205
  Suf.  I wear no knife to slaughter sleeping men;
But here’s a vengeful sword, rusted with ease,
That shall be scoured in his rancorous heart
That slanders me with murder’s crimson badge.
Say, if thou dar’st, proud Lord of Warwickshire,        210
That I am faulty in Duke Humphrey’s death.  [Exeunt CARDINAL BEAUFORT, SOMERSET, and Others.
  War.  What dares not Warwick, if false Suffolk dare him?
  Q. Mar.  He dares not calm his contumelious spirit,
Nor cease to be an arrogant controller,
Though Suffolk dare him twenty thousand times.        215
  War.  Madam, be still, with reverence may I say;
For every word you speak in his behalf
Is slander to your royal dignity.
  Suf.  Blunt-witted lord, ignoble in demeanour!
If ever lady wrong’d her lord so much,        220
Thy mother took into her blameful bed
Some stern untutor’d churl, and noble stock
Was graft with crab-tree slip; whose fruit thou art,
And never of the Nevils’ noble race.
  War.  But that the guilt of murder bucklers thee,        225
And I should rob the deathsman of his fee,
Quitting thee thereby of ten thousand shames,
And that my sov’reign’s presence makes me mild,
I would, false murd’rous coward, on thy knee
Make thee beg pardon for thy passed speech,        230
And say it was thy mother that thou meant’st;
That thou thyself wast born in bastardy:
And after all this fearful homage done,
Give thee thy hire, and send thy soul to hell,
Pernicious blood-sucker of sleeping men.        235
  Suf.  Thou shalt be waking while I shed thy blood,
If from this presence thou dar’st go with me.
  War.  Away even now, or I will drag thee hence:
Unworthy though thou art, I’ll cope with thee,
And do some service to Duke Humphrey’s ghost.  [Exeunt SUFFOLK and WARWICK.        240
  K. Hen.  What stronger breastplate than a heart untainted!
Thrice is he arm’d that hath his quarrel just,
And he but naked, though lock’d up in steel,
Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted.
  Q. Mar.  What noise is this?  [A noise within.        245
 
Re-enter SUFFOLK and WARWICK, with their weapons drawn.
  K. Hen.  Why, how now, lords! your wrathful weapons drawn
Here in our presence! dare you be so bold?
Why, what tumultuous clamour have we here?
  Suf.  The traitorous Warwick, with the men of Bury,        250
Set all upon me, mighty sovereign.
 
Noise of a crowd within.  Re-enter SALISBURY.
  Sal.  [Speaking to those within.]  Sirs, stand apart; the king shall know your mind.
Dread lord, the commons send you word by me,
Unless false Suffolk straight be done to death,        255
Or banished fair England’s territories,
They will by violence tear him from your palace
And torture him with grievous lingering death.
They say, by him the good Duke Humphrey died;
They say, in him they fear your highness’ death;        260
And mere instinct of love and loyalty,
Free from a stubborn opposite intent,
As being thought to contradict your liking,
Makes them thus forward in his banishment.
They say, in care of your most royal person,        265
That if your highness should intend to sleep,
And charge that no man should disturb your rest
In pain of your dislike or pain of death,
Yet, notwithstanding such a strait edict,
Were there a serpent seen, with forked tongue,        270
That slily glided towards your majesty,
It were but necessary you were wak’d,
Lest, being suffer’d in that harmful slumber,
The mortal worm might make the sleep eternal:
And therefore do they cry, though you forbid,        275
That they will guard you, whe’r you will or no,
From such fell serpents as false Suffolk is;
With whose envenomed and fatal sting,
Your loving uncle, twenty times his worth,
They say, is shamefully bereft of life.        280
  Commons.  [Within.]  An answer from the king, my Lord of Salisbury!
  Suf.  ’Tis like the commons, rude unpolish’d hinds,
Could send such message to their sovereign;
But you, my lord, were glad to be employ’d,
To show how quaint an orator you are:        285
But all the honour Salisbury hath won
Is that he was the lord ambassador,
Sent from a sort of tinkers to the king.
  Commons.  [Within.]  An answer from the king, or we will all break in!
  K. Hen.  Go, Salisbury, and tell them all from me,        290
I thank them for their tender loving care;
And had I not been cited so by them,
Yet did I purpose as they do entreat;
For, sure, my thoughts do hourly prophesy
Mischance unto my state by Suffolk’s means:        295
And therefore, by his majesty I swear,
Whose far unworthy deputy I am,
He shall not breathe infection in this air
But three days longer, on the pain of death.  [Exit SALISBURY.
  Q. Mar.  O Henry! let me plead for gentle Suffolk.        300
  K. Hen.  Ungentle queen, to call him gentle Suffolk!
No more, I say; if thou dost plead for him
Thou wilt but add increase unto my wrath.
Had I but said, I would have kept my word,
But when I swear, it is irrevocable.        305
[To SUFFOLK.]  If after three days’ space thou here be’st found
On any ground that I am ruler of,
The world shall not be ransom for thy life.
Come, Warwick, come, good Warwick, go with me;
I have great matters to impart to thee.  [Exeunt KING HENRY, WARWICK, Lords, &c.        310
  Q. Mar.  Mischance and sorrow go along with you!
Heart’s discontent and sour affliction
Be playfellows to keep you company!
There’s two of you; the devil make a third,
And threefold vengeance tend upon your steps!        315
  Suf.  Cease, gentle queen, these execrations,
And let thy Suffolk take his heavy leave.
  Q. Mar.  Fie, coward woman and softhearted wretch!
Hast thou not spirit to curse thine enemy?
  Suf.  A plague upon them! Wherefore should I curse them?        320
Would curses kill, as doth the mandrake’s groan,
I would invent as bitter-searching terms,
As curst, as harsh and horrible to hear,
Deliver’d strongly through my fixed teeth,
With full as many signs of deadly hate,        325
As lean-fac’d Envy in her loathsome cave.
My tongue should stumble in mine earnest words;
Mine eyes should sparkle like the beaten flint;
My hair be fix’d on end, as one distract;
Ay, every joint should seem to curse and ban:        330
And even now my burden’d heart would break
Should I not curse them. Poison be their drink!
Gall, worse than gall, the daintiest that they taste!
Their sweetest shade a grove of cypress trees!
Their chiefest prospect murdering basilisks!        335
Their softest touch as smart as lizard’s stings!
Their music frightful as the serpent’s hiss,
And boding screech-owls make the concert full!
All the foul terrors in dark-seated hell—
  Q. Mar.  Enough, sweet Suffolk; thou torment’st thyself;        340
And these dread curses, like the sun ’gainst glass,
Or like an over-charged gun, recoil,
And turn the force of them upon thyself.
  Suf.  You bade me ban, and will you bid me leave?
Now, by the ground that I am banish’d from,        345
Well could I curse away a winter’s night,
Though standing naked on a mountain top,
Where biting cold would never let grass grow,
And think it but a minute spent in sport.
  Q. Mar.  O! let me entreat thee, cease! Give me thy hand,        350
That I may dew it with my mournful tears;
Nor let the rain of heaven wet this place,
To wash away my woeful monuments.
O! could this kiss be printed in thy hand,  [Kisses his hand.
That thou mightst think upon these by the seal,        355
Through whom a thousand sighs are breath’d for thee.
So, get thee gone, that I may know my grief;
’Tis but surmis’d whiles thou art standing by,
As one that surfeits thinking on a want.
I will repeal thee, or, be well assur’d,        360
Adventure to be banished myself;
And banished I am, if but from thee.
Go; speak not to me; even now be gone.
O! go not yet. Even thus two friends condemn’d
Embrace and kiss, and take ten thousand leaves,        365
Loather a hundred times to part than die.
Yet now farewell; and farewell life with thee!
  Suf.  Thus is poor Suffolk ten times banished,
Once by the king, and three times thrice by thee.
’Tis not the land I care for, wert thou thence;        370
A wilderness is populous enough,
So Suffolk had thy heavenly company:
For where thou art, there is the world itself,
With every several pleasure in the world,
And where thou art not, desolation.        375
I can no more: live thou to joy thy life;
Myself to joy in nought but that thou liv’st.
 
Enter VAUX.
  Q. Mar.  Whither goes Vaux so fast? what news, I prithee?
  Vaux.  To signify unto his majesty        380
That Cardinal Beaufort is at point of death;
For suddenly a grievous sickness took him,
That makes him gasp and stare, and catch the air,
Blaspheming God, and cursing men on earth.
Sometime he talks as if Duke Humphrey’s ghost        385
Were by his side; sometime he calls the king,
And whispers to his pillow, as to him,
The secrets of his overcharged soul:
And I am sent to tell his majesty
That even now he cries aloud for him.        390
  Q. Mar.  Go tell this heavy message to the king.  [Exit VAUX.
Ay me! what is this world! what news are these!
But wherefore grieve I at an hour’s poor loss,
Omitting Suffolk’s exile, my soul’s treasure?
Why only, Suffolk, mourn I not for thee,        395
And with the southern clouds contend in tears,
Theirs for the earth’s increase, mine for my sorrows?
Now get thee hence: the king, thou know’st, is coming;
If thou be found by me thou art but dead.
  Suf.  If I depart from thee I cannot live;        400
And in thy sight to die, what were it else
But like a pleasant slumber in thy lap?
Here could I breathe my soul into the air,
As mild and gentle as the cradle babe,
Dying with mother’s dug between its lips;        405
Where, from thy sight, I should be raging mad,
And cry out for thee to close up mine eyes,
To have thee with thy lips to stop my mouth:
So shouldst thou either turn my flying soul,
Or I should breathe it so into thy body,        410
And then it liv’d in sweet Elysium.
To die by thee, were but to die in jest;
From thee to die were torture more than death.
O! let me stay, befall what may befall!
  Q. Mar.  Away! though parting be a fretful corsive,        415
It is applied to a deathful wound.
To France, sweet Suffolk: let me hear from thee;
For wheresoe’er thou art in this world’s globe,
I’ll have an Iris that shall find thee out.
  Suf.  I go.        420
  Q. Mar.        And take my heart with thee.
  Suf.  A jewel, lock’d into the woefull’st cask
That ever did contain a thing of worth.
Even as a splitted bark, so sunder we:
This way fall I to death.        425
  Q. Mar.        This way for me.  [Exeunt severally.
 
 
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