Page images

Rich. Speak thou for me, and tell them what I did.1 [Throwing down the DUKE of SOMERSET'S


*York. Richard hath best deserved of all my


What, is your grace dead, my lord of Somerset ?
Norf. Such hope have all the line of John of Gaunt!
Rich. Thus do I hope to shake king Henry's head.
War. And so do I.-Victorious prince of York,
Before I see thee seated in that throne

Which now the house of Lancaster usurps,

I vow by Heaven, these eyes shall never close.
This is the palace of the fearful king,

And this the regal seat: possess it, York;
For this is thine, and not king Henry's heirs'.
York. Assist me then, sweet Warwick, and I will;
For hither we have broken in by force.

Norf. We'll all assist you; he that flies shall die. York. Thanks, gentle Norfolk.-Stay by me, my


'And, soldiers, stay, and lodge by me this night. War. And, when the king comes, offer him no vio


Unless he seek to thrust you out by force.

[They retire. *York. The queen, this day, here holds her parlia


*But little thinks we shall be of her council.

*By words or blows here let us win our right.

Rich. Armed as we are, let's stay within this house. War. The bloody parliament shall this be called, Unless Plantagenet, duke of York, be king; And bashful Henry deposed, whose cowardice Hath made us by-words to our enemies.

1 Shakspeare was also led into this anachronism by the old plays. At the time of the first battle of St. Albans, where Richard is represented to have fought in the last scene of the preceding play, he was not one year old; having been born at Fotheringay castle, October 21, 1454. At the time to which the third scene of the present act refers, he was but six years old; and in the fifth act, in which Henry is represented as having been killed by him in the Tower, not more than sixteen and eight months.

'York. Then leave me not, my lords; be resolute; I mean to take possession of my right.

War. Neither the king, nor he that loves him best, The proudest he that holds up Lancaster, Dares stir a wing, if Warwick shake his bells.1 'I'll plant Plantagenet, root him up who dares.Resolve thee, Richard; claim the English crown.

[WARWICK leads YORK to the throne, who seats himself.

Flourish. Enter KING HENRY, CLIFFORD, NORTHUMBERLAND, WESTMORELAND, EXETER, and others, with red roses in their hats.

K. Hen. My lords, look where the sturdy rebel sits, Even in the chair of state! Belike, he means (Backed by the power of Warwick, that false peer) To aspire unto the crown, and reign as king.Earl of Northumberland, he slew thy father;And thine, lord Clifford; and you both have vowed


On him, his sons, his favorites, and his friends.

North. If I be not, Heavens, be revenged on me! Clif. The hope thereof makes Clifford mourn in


West. What, shall we suffer this? Let's pluck him


My heart for anger burns; I cannot brook it.

K. Hen. Be patient, gentle earl of Westmoreland. Clif. Patience is for poltroons, and such as he; He durst not sit there had your father lived. My gracious lord, here in the parliament

Let us assail the family of York.

North. Well hast thou spoken, cousin; be it so. K. Hen. Ah, know you not the city favors them, And they have troops of soldiers at their beck?

Exe. But when the duke is slain, they'll quickly fly.

1 Hawks had sometimes little bells hung on them, perhaps to dare the birds; that is, to fright them from rising.

K. Hen. Far be the thought of this from Henry's


To make a shambles of the parliament-house!
Cousin of Exeter, frowns, words, and threats,
Shall be the war that Henry means to use.

[They advance to the Duke. Thou factious duke of York, descend my throne, And kneel for grace and mercy at my feet.

I am thy sovereign.


Thou art deceived; I am thine.

Exe. For shame, come down; he made thee duke

of York.

York. 'Twas my inheritance, as the earldom was.1
Exe. Thy father was a traitor to the crown.
War. Exeter, thou art a traitor to the crown,

In following this usurping Henry.

Clif. Whom should he follow, but his natural king? War. True, Clifford; and that's Richard, duke of York.

K. Hen. And shall I stand, and thou sit in my throne?

• York. It must and shall be so. Content thyself. War. Be duke of Lancaster; let him be king. West. He is both king and duke of Lancaster; And that the lord of Westmoreland shall maintain. War. And Warwick shall disprove it. You forget, That we are those, which chased you from the field, And slew your fathers, and with colors spread Marched through the city to the palace gates.

• North. Yes, Warwick, I remember it to my grief; And, by his soul, thou and thy house shall rue it.

West. Plantagenet, of thee, and these thy sons, Thy kinsmen, and thy friends, I'll have more lives, Than drops of blood were in my father's veins.


Clif. "Urge it no more; lest that, instead of words,

1 The old play reads "as the kingdom is." Why Shakspeare altered it, it is not easy to say; for the new line only exhibits the same meaning more obscurely. York means that the dukedom was his inheritance from his father, as the earldom of March was his inheritance from his mother. His title to the crown was not as duke of York, but as earl of March, and by naming that he covertly asserts his right to the crown.

I send thee, Warwick, such a messenger,

As shall revenge his death, before I stir.

• War. Poor Clifford! how I scorn his worthless


York. Will you, we show our title to the crown? If not, our swords shall plead it in the field.

K. Hen. What title hast thou, traitor, to the crown?
Thy father was, as thou art, duke of York;1
Thy grandfather, Roger Mortimer, carl of March.
I am the son of Henry the Fifth,

Who made the dauphin and the French to stoop,
And seized upon their towns and provinces.

War. Talk not of France, sith2 thou hast lost it all.
K. Hen. The lord protector lost it, and not I;
When I was crowned, I was but nine months old.
Rich. You are old enough now, and yet, methinks,
you lose.-

Father, tear the crown from the usurper's head.
Edw. Sweet father, do so; set it on your head.
Mont. Good brother, [To YORK.] as thou lov'st and
honor'st arms,

Let's fight it out, and not stand cavilling thus.
Rich. Sound drums and trumpets, and the king will

York. Sons, peace!

K. Hen. Peace thou! and give king Henry leave to speak.

War. Plantagenet shall speak first.-Hear him, lords;

And be you silent and attentive too,

For he that interrupts him shall not live.

· K. Hen. Think'st thou that I will leave my kingly throne,

Wherein my grandsire and my father sat?

No; first shall war unpeople this my realm;

[ocr errors]

Ay, and their colors-often borne in France,

1 Another mistake of the author of the old play. York's father was earl of Cambridge, and was beheaded in the lifetime of his elder brother, Edward duke of York.

2 Since. A contraction of sithence.

And now in England, to our heart's great sorrow— Shall be my winding-sheet.-Why faint you, lords? My title's good, and better far than his.

War. But prove it, Henry, and thou shalt be king. K. Hen. Henry the Fourth by conquest got the


York. "Twas by rebellion against his king.

K. Hen. I know not what to say; my title's weak. Tell me, may not a king adopt an heir?

York. What then?

· K. Hen. An if he may, then am I lawful king. For Richard, in the view of many lords,

Resigned the crown to Henry the Fourth;
Whose heir my father was, and I am his.

York. He rose against him, being his sovereign,
And made him to resign his crown perforce.

War. Suppose, my lords, he did it unconstrained, Think you 'twere prejudicial to his crown? 1

Exe. No; for he could not so resign his crown, But that the next heir should succeed and reign. K. Hen. Art thou against us, duke of Exeter? Exe. His is the right, and therefore pardon me. York. Why whisper you, my lords, and answer not?

Exe. My conscience tells me he is lawful king. K. Hen. All will revolt from me, and turn to him. North. Plantagenet, for all the claim thou lay'st Think not, that Henry shall be so deposed.

'War. Deposed he shall be, in despite of all.

North. Thou art deceived. 'Tis not thy southern


'Of Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, nor of Kent,

Which makes thee thus presumptuous and proud,—
Can set the duke up, in despite of me.

Clif King Henry, be thy title right or wrong,
Lord Clifford vows to fight in thy defence.
May that ground gape, and swallow me alive,
Where I shall kneel to him that slew my father!

1 i. e. detrimental to the general rights of hereditary royalty.

« PreviousContinue »