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King Henry VI, Part III

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ACT III SCENE II London. The palace. 
KING EDWARD IVBrother of Gloucester, at Saint Alban's field
This lady's husband, Sir Richard Grey, was slain,
His lands then seized on by the conqueror:
Her suit is now to repossess those lands;
Which we in justice cannot well deny,5
Because in quarrel of the house of York
The worthy gentleman did lose his life.
GLOUCESTERYour highness shall do well to grant her suit;
It were dishonour to deny it her.
KING EDWARD IVIt were no less; but yet I'll make a pause.10
GLOUCESTER[Aside to CLARENCE] Yea, is it so?
I see the lady hath a thing to grant,
Before the king will grant her humble suit.
CLARENCE[Aside to GLOUCESTER] He knows the game: how true
he keeps the wind!15
KING EDWARD IVWidow, we will consider of your suit;
And come some other time to know our mind.
LADY GREYRight gracious lord, I cannot brook delay:
May it please your highness to resolve me now;20
And what your pleasure is, shall satisfy me.
GLOUCESTER[Aside to CLARENCE] Ay, widow? then I'll warrant
you all your lands,
An if what pleases him shall pleasure you.
Fight closer, or, good faith, you'll catch a blow.25
CLARENCE[Aside to GLOUCESTER] I fear her not, unless she
chance to fall.
GLOUCESTER[Aside to CLARENCE] God forbid that! for he'll
take vantages.
KING EDWARD IVHow many children hast thou, widow? tell me.30
CLARENCE[Aside to GLOUCESTER] I think he means to beg a
child of her.
GLOUCESTER[Aside to CLARENCE] Nay, whip me then: he'll rather
give her two.
LADY GREYThree, my most gracious lord.35
GLOUCESTER[Aside to CLARENCE] You shall have four, if you'll
be ruled by him.
KING EDWARD IV'Twere pity they should lose their father's lands.
LADY GREYBe pitiful, dread lord, and grant it then.
KING EDWARD IVLords, give us leave: I'll try this widow's wit.40
GLOUCESTER[Aside to CLARENCE] Ay, good leave have you; for
you will have leave,
Till youth take leave and leave you to the crutch.
KING EDWARD IVNow tell me, madam, do you love your children?
LADY GREYAy, full as dearly as I love myself.45
KING EDWARD IVAnd would you not do much to do them good?
LADY GREYTo do them good, I would sustain some harm.
KING EDWARD IVThen get your husband's lands, to do them good.
LADY GREYTherefore I came unto your majesty.
KING EDWARD IVI'll tell you how these lands are to be got.50
LADY GREYSo shall you bind me to your highness' service.
KING EDWARD IVWhat service wilt thou do me, if I give them?
LADY GREYWhat you command, that rests in me to do.
KING EDWARD IVBut you will take exceptions to my boon.
LADY GREYNo, gracious lord, except I cannot do it.55
KING EDWARD IVAy, but thou canst do what I mean to ask.
LADY GREYWhy, then I will do what your grace commands.
GLOUCESTER[Aside to CLARENCE] He plies her hard; and much rain
wears the marble.
CLARENCE[Aside to GLOUCESTER] As red as fire! nay, then 60
her wax must melt.
LADY GREYWhy stops my lord, shall I not hear my task?
KING EDWARD IVAn easy task; 'tis but to love a king.
LADY GREYThat's soon perform'd, because I am a subject.
KING EDWARD IVWhy, then, thy husband's lands I freely give thee.65
LADY GREYI take my leave with many thousand thanks.
GLOUCESTER[Aside to CLARENCE] The match is made; she seals it
with a curtsy.
KING EDWARD IVBut stay thee, 'tis the fruits of love I mean.
LADY GREYThe fruits of love I mean, my loving liege.70
KING EDWARD IVAy, but, I fear me, in another sense.
What love, think'st thou, I sue so much to get?

LADY GREYMy love till death, my humble thanks, my prayers;
That love which virtue begs and virtue grants.
KING EDWARD IVNo, by my troth, I did not mean such love.75
LADY GREYWhy, then you mean not as I thought you did.
KING EDWARD IVBut now you partly may perceive my mind.
LADY GREYMy mind will never grant what I perceive
Your highness aims at, if I aim aright.
KING EDWARD IVTo tell thee plain, I aim to lie with thee.80
LADY GREYTo tell you plain, I had rather lie in prison.
KING EDWARD IVWhy, then thou shalt not have thy husband's lands.
LADY GREYWhy, then mine honesty shall be my dower;
For by that loss I will not purchase them.
KING EDWARD IVTherein thou wrong'st thy children mightily.85
LADY GREYHerein your highness wrongs both them and me.
But, mighty lord, this merry inclination
Accords not with the sadness of my suit:
Please you dismiss me either with 'ay' or 'no.'
KING EDWARD IVAy, if thou wilt say 'ay' to my request;90
No if thou dost say 'no' to my demand.
LADY GREYThen, no, my lord. My suit is at an end.
GLOUCESTER[Aside to CLARENCE] The widow likes him not, she
knits her brows.
CLARENCE[Aside to GLOUCESTER] He is the bluntest wooer in 95
KING EDWARD IV[Aside] Her looks do argue her replete with modesty;
Her words do show her wit incomparable;
All her perfections challenge sovereignty:
One way or other, she is for a king;100
And she shall be my love, or else my queen.--
Say that King Edward take thee for his queen?
LADY GREY'Tis better said than done, my gracious lord:
I am a subject fit to jest withal,
But far unfit to be a sovereign.105
KING EDWARD IVSweet widow, by my state I swear to thee
I speak no more than what my soul intends;
And that is, to enjoy thee for my love.
LADY GREYAnd that is more than I will yield unto:
I know I am too mean to be your queen,110
And yet too good to be your concubine.
KING EDWARD IVYou cavil, widow: I did mean, my queen.
LADY GREY'Twill grieve your grace my sons should call you father.
KING EDWARD IVNo more than when my daughters call thee mother.
Thou art a widow, and thou hast some children;115
And, by God's mother, I, being but a bachelor,
Have other some: why, 'tis a happy thing
To be the father unto many sons.
Answer no more, for thou shalt be my queen.
GLOUCESTER[Aside to CLARENCE] The ghostly father now hath done 120
his shrift.
CLARENCE[Aside to GLOUCESTER] When he was made a shriver,
'twas for shift.
KING EDWARD IVBrothers, you muse what chat we two have had.
GLOUCESTERThe widow likes it not, for she looks very sad.125
KING EDWARD IVYou'll think it strange if I should marry her.
CLARENCETo whom, my lord?
KING EDWARD IVWhy, Clarence, to myself.
GLOUCESTERThat would be ten days' wonder at the least.
CLARENCEThat's a day longer than a wonder lasts.130
GLOUCESTERBy so much is the wonder in extremes.
KING EDWARD IVWell, jest on, brothers: I can tell you both
Her suit is granted for her husband's lands.
[Enter a Nobleman]
NoblemanMy gracious lord, Henry your foe is taken,
And brought your prisoner to your palace gate.135
KING EDWARD IVSee that he be convey'd unto the Tower:
And go we, brothers, to the man that took him,
To question of his apprehension.
Widow, go you along. Lords, use her honourably.
[Exeunt all but GLOUCESTER]
GLOUCESTERAy, Edward will use women honourably.140
Would he were wasted, marrow, bones and all,
That from his loins no hopeful branch may spring,
To cross me from the golden time I look for!
And yet, between my soul's desire and me--
The lustful Edward's title buried--145
Is Clarence, Henry, and his son young Edward,
And all the unlook'd for issue of their bodies,
To take their rooms, ere I can place myself:
A cold premeditation for my purpose!
Why, then, I do but dream on sovereignty;150
Like one that stands upon a promontory,
And spies a far-off shore where he would tread,
Wishing his foot were equal with his eye,
And chides the sea that sunders him from thence,
Saying, he'll lade it dry to have his way:155
So do I wish the crown, being so far off;
And so I chide the means that keeps me from it;
And so I say, I'll cut the causes off,
Flattering me with impossibilities.
My eye's too quick, my heart o'erweens too much,160
Unless my hand and strength could equal them.
Well, say there is no kingdom then for Richard;
What other pleasure can the world afford?
I'll make my heaven in a lady's lap,
And deck my body in gay ornaments,165
And witch sweet ladies with my words and looks.
O miserable thought! and more unlikely
Than to accomplish twenty golden crowns!
Why, love forswore me in my mother's womb:
And, for I should not deal in her soft laws,170
She did corrupt frail nature with some bribe,
To shrink mine arm up like a wither'd shrub;
To make an envious mountain on my back,
Where sits deformity to mock my body;
To shape my legs of an unequal size;175
To disproportion me in every part,
Like to a chaos, or an unlick'd bear-whelp
That carries no impression like the dam.
And am I then a man to be beloved?
O monstrous fault, to harbour such a thought!180
Then, since this earth affords no joy to me,
But to command, to cheque, to o'erbear such
As are of better person than myself,
I'll make my heaven to dream upon the crown,
And, whiles I live, to account this world but hell,185
Until my mis-shaped trunk that bears this head
Be round impaled with a glorious crown.
And yet I know not how to get the crown,
For many lives stand between me and home:
And I,--like one lost in a thorny wood,190
That rends the thorns and is rent with the thorns,
Seeking a way and straying from the way;
Not knowing how to find the open air,
But toiling desperately to find it out,--
Torment myself to catch the English crown:195
And from that torment I will free myself,
Or hew my way out with a bloody axe.
Why, I can smile, and murder whiles I smile,
And cry 'Content' to that which grieves my heart,
And wet my cheeks with artificial tears,200
And frame my face to all occasions.
I'll drown more sailors than the mermaid shall;
I'll slay more gazers than the basilisk;
I'll play the orator as well as Nestor,
Deceive more slily than Ulysses could,205
And, like a Sinon, take another Troy.
I can add colours to the chameleon,
Change shapes with Proteus for advantages,
And set the murderous Machiavel to school.
Can I do this, and cannot get a crown?210
Tut, were it farther off, I'll pluck it down.

Continue to 3 Henry VI, Act 3, Scene 3


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