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King Henry VI, Part III

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ACT II SCENE II Before York. 
QUEEN MARGARETWelcome, my lord, to this brave town of York.
Yonder's the head of that arch-enemy
That sought to be encompass'd with your crown:
Doth not the object cheer your heart, my lord?
KING HENRY VIAy, as the rocks cheer them that fear their wreck:5
To see this sight, it irks my very soul.
Withhold revenge, dear God! 'tis not my fault,
Nor wittingly have I infringed my vow.
CLIFFORDMy gracious liege, this too much lenity
And harmful pity must be laid aside.10
To whom do lions cast their gentle looks?
Not to the beast that would usurp their den.
Whose hand is that the forest bear doth lick?
Not his that spoils her young before her face.
Who 'scapes the lurking serpent's mortal sting?15
Not he that sets his foot upon her back.
The smallest worm will turn being trodden on,
And doves will peck in safeguard of their brood.
Ambitious York doth level at thy crown,
Thou smiling while he knit his angry brows:20
He, but a duke, would have his son a king,
And raise his issue, like a loving sire;
Thou, being a king, blest with a goodly son,
Didst yield consent to disinherit him,
Which argued thee a most unloving father.25
Unreasonable creatures feed their young;
And though man's face be fearful to their eyes,
Yet, in protection of their tender ones,
Who hath not seen them, even with those wings
Which sometime they have used with fearful flight,30
Make war with him that climb'd unto their nest,
Offer their own lives in their young's defence?
For shame, my liege, make them your precedent!
Were it not pity that this goodly boy
Should lose his birthright by his father's fault,35
And long hereafter say unto his child,
'What my great-grandfather and his grandsire got
My careless father fondly gave away'?
Ah, what a shame were this! Look on the boy;
And let his manly face, which promiseth40
Successful fortune, steel thy melting heart
To hold thine own and leave thine own with him.
KING HENRY VIFull well hath Clifford play'd the orator,
Inferring arguments of mighty force.
But, Clifford, tell me, didst thou never hear45
That things ill-got had ever bad success?
And happy always was it for that son
Whose father for his hoarding went to hell?
I'll leave my son my virtuous deeds behind;
And would my father had left me no more!50
For all the rest is held at such a rate
As brings a thousand-fold more care to keep
Than in possession and jot of pleasure.
Ah, cousin York! would thy best friends did know
How it doth grieve me that thy head is here!55
QUEEN MARGARETMy lord, cheer up your spirits: our foes are nigh,
And this soft courage makes your followers faint.
You promised knighthood to our forward son:
Unsheathe your sword, and dub him presently.
Edward, kneel down.60
KING HENRY VIEdward Plantagenet, arise a knight;
And learn this lesson, draw thy sword in right.
PRINCEMy gracious father, by your kingly leave,

I'll draw it as apparent to the crown,
And in that quarrel use it to the death.65
CLIFFORDWhy, that is spoken like a toward prince.
[Enter a Messenger]
MessengerRoyal commanders, be in readiness:
For with a band of thirty thousand men
Comes Warwick, backing of the Duke of York;
And in the towns, as they do march along,70
Proclaims him king, and many fly to him:
Darraign your battle, for they are at hand.
CLIFFORDI would your highness would depart the field:
The queen hath best success when you are absent.
QUEEN MARGARETAy, good my lord, and leave us to our fortune.75
KING HENRY VIWhy, that's my fortune too; therefore I'll stay.
NORTHUMBERLANDBe it with resolution then to fight.
PRINCE EDWARDMy royal father, cheer these noble lords
And hearten those that fight in your defence:
Unsheathe your sword, good father; cry 'Saint George!'80
EDWARDNow, perjured Henry! wilt thou kneel for grace,
And set thy diadem upon my head;
Or bide the mortal fortune of the field?
QUEEN MARGARETGo, rate thy minions, proud insulting boy!
Becomes it thee to be thus bold in terms85
Before thy sovereign and thy lawful king?
EDWARDI am his king, and he should bow his knee;
I was adopted heir by his consent:
Since when, his oath is broke; for, as I hear,
You, that are king, though he do wear the crown,90
Have caused him, by new act of parliament,
To blot out me, and put his own son in.
CLIFFORDAnd reason too:
Who should succeed the father but the son?
RICHARDAre you there, butcher? O, I cannot speak!95
CLIFFORDAy, crook-back, here I stand to answer thee,
Or any he the proudest of thy sort.
RICHARD'Twas you that kill'd young Rutland, was it not?
CLIFFORDAy, and old York, and yet not satisfied.
RICHARDFor God's sake, lords, give signal to the fight.100
WARWICKWhat say'st thou, Henry, wilt thou yield the crown?
QUEEN MARGARETWhy, how now, long-tongued Warwick! dare you speak?
When you and I met at Saint Alban's last,
Your legs did better service than your hands.
WARWICKThen 'twas my turn to fly, and now 'tis thine.105
CLIFFORDYou said so much before, and yet you fled.
WARWICK'Twas not your valour, Clifford, drove me thence.
NORTHUMBERLANDNo, nor your manhood that durst make you stay.
RICHARDNorthumberland, I hold thee reverently.
Break off the parley; for scarce I can refrain110
The execution of my big-swoln heart
Upon that Clifford, that cruel child-killer.
CLIFFORDI slew thy father, call'st thou him a child?
RICHARDAy, like a dastard and a treacherous coward,
As thou didst kill our tender brother Rutland;115
But ere sunset I'll make thee curse the deed.
KING HENRY VIHave done with words, my lords, and hear me speak.
QUEEN MARGARETDefy them then, or else hold close thy lips.
KING HENRY VII prithee, give no limits to my tongue:
I am a king, and privileged to speak.120
CLIFFORDMy liege, the wound that bred this meeting here
Cannot be cured by words; therefore be still.
RICHARDThen, executioner, unsheathe thy sword:
By him that made us all, I am resolved
that Clifford's manhood lies upon his tongue.125
EDWARDSay, Henry, shall I have my right, or no?
A thousand men have broke their fasts to-day,
That ne'er shall dine unless thou yield the crown.
WARWICKIf thou deny, their blood upon thy head;
For York in justice puts his armour on.130
PRINCE EDWARDIf that be right which Warwick says is right,
There is no wrong, but every thing is right.
RICHARDWhoever got thee, there thy mother stands;
For, well I wot, thou hast thy mother's tongue.
QUEEN MARGARETBut thou art neither like thy sire nor dam;135
But like a foul mis-shapen stigmatic,
Mark'd by the destinies to be avoided,
As venom toads, or lizards' dreadful stings.
RICHARDIron of Naples hid with English gilt,
Whose father bears the title of a king,--140
As if a channel should be call'd the sea,--
Shamest thou not, knowing whence thou art extraught,
To let thy tongue detect thy base-born heart?
EDWARDA wisp of straw were worth a thousand crowns,
To make this shameless callet know herself.145
Helen of Greece was fairer far than thou,
Although thy husband may be Menelaus;
And ne'er was Agamemnon's brother wrong'd
By that false woman, as this king by thee.
His father revell'd in the heart of France,150
And tamed the king, and made the dauphin stoop;
And had he match'd according to his state,
He might have kept that glory to this day;
But when he took a beggar to his bed,
And graced thy poor sire with his bridal-day,155
Even then that sunshine brew'd a shower for him,
That wash'd his father's fortunes forth of France,
And heap'd sedition on his crown at home.
For what hath broach'd this tumult but thy pride?
Hadst thou been meek, our title still had slept;160
And we, in pity of the gentle king,
Had slipp'd our claim until another age.
GEORGEBut when we saw our sunshine made thy spring,
And that thy summer bred us no increase,
We set the axe to thy usurping root;165
And though the edge hath something hit ourselves,
Yet, know thou, since we have begun to strike,
We'll never leave till we have hewn thee down,
Or bathed thy growing with our heated bloods.
EDWARDAnd, in this resolution, I defy thee;170
Not willing any longer conference,
Since thou deniest the gentle king to speak.
Sound trumpets! let our bloody colours wave!
And either victory, or else a grave.
QUEEN MARGARETStay, Edward.175
EDWARDNo, wrangling woman, we'll no longer stay:
These words will cost ten thousand lives this day.

Continue to 3 Henry VI, Act 2, Scene 3


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