Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > 1 King Henry VI.
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
The First Part of King Henry the Sixth
Act II. Scene V.
London.  A Room in the Tower.
Enter MORTIMER, brought in a chair by two Gaolers.
  Mor.  Kind keepers of my weak decaying age,
Let dying Mortimer here rest himself.
Even like a man new haled from the rack,        5
So fare my limbs with long imprisonment;
And these gray locks, the pursuivants of death,
Nestor-like aged, in an age of care,
Argue the end of Edmund Mortimer.
These eyes, like lamps whose wasting oil is spent,        10
Wax dim, as drawing to their exigent;
Weak shoulders, overborne with burdening grief,
And pithless arms, like to a wither’d vine
That droops his sapless branches to the ground:
Yet are these feet, whose strengthless stay is numb,        15
Unable to support this lump of clay,
Swift-winged with desire to get a grave,
As witting I no other comfort have.
But tell me, keeper, will my nephew come?
  First Keep.  Richard Plantagenet, my lord, will come:        20
We sent unto the Temple, unto his chamber.
And answer was return’d that he will come.
  Mor.  Enough: my soul shall then be satisfied.
Poor gentleman! his wrong doth equal mine.
Since Henry Monmouth first began to reign,        25
Before whose glory I was great in arms,
This loathsome sequestration have I had;
And even since then hath Richard been obscur’d,
Depriv’d of honour and inheritance.
But now the arbitrator of despairs,        30
Just death, kind umpire of men’s miseries,
With sweet enlargement doth dismiss me hence:
I would his troubles likewise were expir’d,
That so he might recover what was lost.
  First Keep.  My lord, your loving nephew now is come.
  Mor.  Richard Plantagenet, my friend, is he come?
  Plan.  Ay, noble uncle, thus ignobly us’d,
Your nephew, late despised Richard, comes.
  Mor.  Direct mine arms I may embrace his neck,        40
And in his bosom spend my latter gasp:
O! tell me when my lips do touch his cheeks,
That I may kindly give one fainting kiss.
And now declare, sweet stem from York’s great stock,
Why didst thou say of late thou wert despis’d?        45
  Plan.  First, lean thine aged back against mine arm;
And in that ease, I’ll tell thee my disease.
This day, in argument upon a case,
Some words there grew ’twixt Somerset and me;
Among which terms he us’d a lavish tongue        50
And did upbraid me with my father’s death:
Which obloquy set bars before my tongue,
Else with the like I had requited him.
Therefore, good uncle, for my father’s sake,
In honour of a true Plantagenet,        55
And for alliance sake, declare the cause
My father, Earl of Cambridge, lost his head.
  Mor.  That cause, fair nephew, that imprison’d me,
And hath detain’d me all my flow’ring youth
Within a loathsome dungeon, there to pine,        60
Was cursed instrument of his decease.
  Plan.  Discover more at large what cause that was,
For I am ignorant and cannot guess.
  Mor.  I will, if that my fading breath permit,
And death approach not ere my tale be done.        65
Henry the Fourth, grandfather to this king,
Depos’d his nephew Richard, Edward’s son,
The first-begotten, and the lawful heir
Of Edward king, the third of that descent:
During whose reign the Percies of the North,        70
Finding his usurpation most unjust,
Endeavour’d my advancement to the throne.
The reason mov’d these warlike lords to this
Was, for that—young King Richard thus remov’d,
Leaving no heir begotten of his body—        75
I was the next by birth and parentage;
For by my mother I derived am
From Lionel Duke of Clarence, the third son
To King Edward the Third; whereas he
From John of Gaunt doth bring his pedigree,        80
Being but fourth of that heroic line.
But mark: as, in this haughty great attempt
They laboured to plant the rightful heir,
I lost my liberty, and they their lives.
Long after this, when Henry the Fifth        85
Succeeding his father Bolingbroke, did reign,
Thy father, Earl of Cambridge, then deriv’d
From famous Edmund Langley, Duke of York,
Marrying my sister that thy mother was,
Again in pity of my hard distress        90
Levied an army, weening to redeem
And have install’d me in the diadem;
But, as the rest, so fell that noble earl,
And was beheaded. Thus the Mortimers,
In whom the title rested, were suppress’d.        95
  Plan.  Of which, my lord, your honour is the last.
  Mor.  True; and thou seest that I no issue have,
And that my fainting words do warrant death:
Thou art my heir; the rest I wish thee gather:
But yet be wary in thy studious care.        100
  Plan.  Thy grave admonishments prevail with me.
But yet methinks my father’s execution
Was nothing less than bloody tyranny.
  Mor.  With silence, nephew, be thou politic:
Strong-fixed is the house of Lancaster,        105
And like a mountain, not to be remov’d.
But now thy uncle is removing hence,
As princes do their courts, when they are cloy’d
With long continuance in a settled place.
  Plan.  O uncle! would some part of my young years        110
Might but redeem the passage of your age.
  Mor.  Thou dost then wrong me,—as the slaughterer doth,
Which giveth many wounds when one will kill.—
Mourn not, except thou sorrow for my good;
Only give order for my funeral:        115
And so farewell; and fair be all thy hopes,
And prosperous be thy life in peace and war!  [Dies.
  Plan.  And peace, no war, befall thy parting soul!
In prison hast thou spent a pilgrimage,
And like a hermit overpass’d thy days.        120
Well, I will lock his counsel in my breast;
And what I do imagine let that rest.
Keepers, convey him hence; and I myself
Will see his burial better than his life.  [Exeunt Keepers, bearing out the body of MORTIMER.
Here dies the dusky torch of Mortimer,        125
Chok’d with ambition of the meaner sort:
And, for those wrongs, those bitter injuries,
Which Somerset hath offer’d to my house,
I doubt not but with honour to redress;
And therefore haste I to the parliament,        130
Either to be restored to my blood,
Or make my ill the advantage of my good.  [Exit.

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