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Scene One

[The Abbey at Bury St. Edmunds]

Sound a sennet. Enter King, Queen, Cardinal, Suffolk, York, Buckingham, Salisbury, and Warwick, to the Parliament.


King. I muse my Lord of Gloucester is not come:
'Tis not his wont to be the hindmost man,
Whate'er occasion keeps him from us now.

Queen. Can you not see? or will ye not observe 4
The strangeness of his alter'd countenance?
With what a majesty he bears himself,
How insolent of late he is become,
How proud, how peremptory, and unlike himself? 8
We know the time since he was mild and affable,
And if we did but glance a far-off look,
Immediately he was upon his knee,
That all the court admir'd him for submission: 12
But meet him now, and, be it in the morn,
When everyone will give the time of day,
He knits his brow and shows an angry eye,
And passeth by with stiff unbowed knee, 16
Disdaining duty that to us belongs.
Small curs are not regarded when they grin,
But great men tremble when the lion roars;
And Humphrey is no little man in England. 20
First note that he is near you in descent,
And should you fall, he is the next will mount.
Me seemeth then it is no policy,
Respecting what a rancorous mind he bears, 24
And his advantage following your decease,
That he should come about your royal person
Or be admitted to your highness' council.
By flattery hath he won the commons' hearts, 28
And when he please to make commotion,
'Tis to be fear'd they all will follow him.
Now 'tis the spring, and weeds are shallow-rooted;
Suffer them now and they'll o'ergrow the garden, 32
And choke the herbs for want of husbandry.
The reverent care I bear unto my lord
Made me collect these dangers in the duke.
If it be fond, call it a woman's fear; 36
Which fear if better reasons can supplant,
I will subscribe and say I wrong'd the duke.
My Lord of Suffolk, Buckingham, and York,
Reprove my allegation if you can 40
Or else conclude my words effectual.

Suf. Well hath your highness seen into this duke;
And had I first been put to speak my mind,
I think I should have told your Grace's tale. 44
The duchess, by his subornation,
Upon my life, began her devilish practices:
Or if he were not privy to those faults,
Yet, by reputing of his high descent, 48
As, next the king he was successive heir,
And such high vaunts of his nobility,
Did instigate the bedlam brain-sick duchess,
By wicked means to frame our sovereign's fall. 52
Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep,
And in his simple show he harbours treason.
The fox barks not when he would steal the lamb:
No, no, my sovereign; Gloucester is a man 56
Unsounded yet, and full of deep deceit.

Car. Did he not, contrary to form of law,
Devise strange deaths for small offences done?

York. And did he not, in his protectorship, 60
Levy great sums of money through the realm
For soldiers' pay in France, and never sent it?
By means whereof the towns each day revolted.

Buck. Tut! these are petty faults to faults unknown, 64
Which time will bring to light in smooth Duke Humphrey.

King. My lords, at once: the care you have of us,
To mow down thorns that would annoy our foot,
Is worthy praise; but shall I speak my conscience, 68
Our kinsman Gloucester is as innocent
From meaning treason to our royal person,
As is the sucking lamb or harmless dove.
The duke is virtuous, mild, and too well given 72
To dream on evil, or to work my downfall.

Queen. Ah! what's more dangerous than this fond affiance!
Seems he a dove? his feathers are but borrow'd,
For he's disposed as the hateful raven: 76
Is he a lamb; his skin is surely lent him,
For he's inclin'd as is the ravenous wolf.
Who cannot steal a shape that means deceit?
Take heed, my lord; the welfare of us all 80
Hangs on the cutting short that fraudful man.

Enter Somerset.

Som. All health unto my gracious sovereign!

King. Welcome, Lord Somerset. What news from France?

Som. That all your interest in those territories 84
Is utterly bereft you: all is lost.

King. Cold news, Lord Somerset: but God's will be done!

York. [Aside.] Cold news for me; for I had hope of France,
As firmly as I hope for fertile England. 88
Thus are my blossoms blasted in the bud,
And caterpillars eat my leaves away;
But I will remedy this gear ere long,
Or sell my title for a glorious grave. 92

Enter Gloucester.

Glo. All happiness unto my lord the king!
Pardon, my liege, that I have stay'd so long.

Suf. Nay, Gloucester, know that thou art come too soon,
Unless thou wert more loyal than thou art: 96
I do arrest thee of high treason here.

Glo. Well, Suffolk, thou shalt not see me blush,
Nor change my countenance for this arrest:
A heart unspotted is not easily daunted. 100
The purest spring is not so free from mud
As I am clear from treason to my sovereign.
Who can accuse me? wherein am I guilty?

York. 'Tis thought, my lord, that you took bribes of France, 104
And, being protector, stay'd the soldiers' pay;
By means whereof his highness hath lost France.

Glo. Is it but thought so? What are they that think it?
I never robb'd the soldiers of their pay, 108
Nor ever had one penny bribe from France.
So help me God, as I have watch'd the night,
Ay, night by night, in studying good for England.
That doit that e'er I wrested from the king, 112
Or any groat I hoarded to my use,
Be brought against me at my trial-day!
No; many a pound of mine own proper store,
Because I would not tax the needy commons, 116
Have I dis-pursed to the garrisons,
And never ask'd for restitution.

Car. It serves you well, my lord, to say so much.

Glo. I say no more than truth, so help me God! 120

York. In your protectorship you did devise
Strange tortures for offenders, never heard of,
That England was defam'd by tyranny.

Glo. Why, 'tis well known that, whiles I was protector, 124
Pity was all the fault that was in me;
For I should melt at an offender's tears,
And lowly words were ransom for their fault.
Unless it were a bloody murtherer, 128
Or foul felonious thief that fleec'd poor passengers,
I never gave them condign punishment:
Murther, indeed, that bloody sin, I tortur'd
Above the felon or what trespass else. 132

Suf. My lord, these faults are easy, quickly answer'd:
But mightier crimes are laid unto your charge,
Whereof you cannot easily purge yourself.
I do arrest you in his highness' name, 136
And here commit you to my Lord Cardinal
To keep until your further time of trial.

King. My Lord of Gloucester, 'tis my special hope
That you will clear yourself from all suspect: 140
My conscience tells me you are innocent.

Glo. Ah! gracious lord, these days are dangerous.
Virtue is chok'd with foul ambition,
And charity chas'd hence by rancour's hand; 144
Foul subornation is predominant,
And equity exil'd your highness' land.
I know their complot is to have my life;
And if my death might make this island happy, 148
And prove the period of their tyranny,
I would expend it with all willingness;
But mine is made the prologue to their play;
For thousands more, that yet suspect no peril, 152
Will not conclude their plotted tragedy.
Beaufort's red sparkling eyes blab his heart's malice,
And Suffolk's cloudy brow his stormy hate;
Sharp Buckingham unburthens with his tongue 156
The envious load that lies upon his heart;
And dogged York, that reaches at the moon,
Whose overweening arm I have pluck'd back,
By false accuse doth level at my life: 160
And you, my sovereign lady, with the rest,
Causeless have laid disgraces on my head,
And with your best endeavour have stirr'd up
My liefest liege to be mine enemy. 164
Ay, all of you have laid your heads together;
Myself had notice of your conventicles;
And all to make away my guiltless life.
I shall not want false witness to condemn me, 168
Nor store of treasons to augment my guilt;
The ancient proverb will be well effected:
'A staff is quickly found to beat a dog.'

Car. My liege, his railing is intolerable. 172
If those that care to keep your royal person
From treason's secret knife and traitor's rage
Be thus upbraided, chid, and rated at,
And the offender granted scope of speech, 176
'Twill make them cool in zeal unto your Grace.

Suf. Hath he not twit our sovereign lady here
With ignominious words, though clerkly couch'd,
As if she had suborned some to swear 180
False allegations to o'erthrow his state?

Queen. But I can give the loser leave to chide.

Glo. Far truer spoke than meant: I lose, indeed;
Beshrew the winners, for they play'd me false! 184
And well such losers may have leave to speak.

Buck. He'll wrest the sense and hold us here all day.
Lord Cardinal, he is your prisoner.

Car. Sirs, take away the duke, and guard him sure. 188

Glo. Ah! thus King Henry throws away his crutch
Before his legs be firm to bear his body:
Thus is the shepherd beaten from thy side,
And wolves are gnarling who shall gnaw thee first.
Ah! that my fear were false, ah! that it were; 193
For, good King Henry, thy decay I fear.

Exit Gloucester [guarded].

King. My lords, what to your wisdoms seemeth best
Do or undo, as if ourself were here. 196

Queen. What! will your highness leave the parliament?

King. Ay, Margaret; my heart is drown'd with grief,
Whose flood begins to flow within mine eyes,
My body round engirt with misery, 200
For what's more miserable than discontent?
Ah! uncle Humphrey, in thy face I see
The map of honour, truth, and loyalty;
And yet, good Humphrey, is the hour to come 204
That e'er I prov'd thee false, or fear'd thy faith.
What low'ring star now envies thy estate,
That these great lords, and Margaret our queen,
Do seek subversion of thy harmless life? 208
Thou never didst them wrong, nor no man wrong;
And as the butcher takes away the calf,
And binds the wretch, and beats it when it strays,
Bearing it to the bloody slaughter-house, 212
Even so, remorseless, have they borne him hence;
And as the dam runs lowing up and down,
Looking the way her harmless young one went,
And can do nought but wail her darling's loss; 216
Even so myself bewails good Gloucester's case,
With sad unhelpful tears, and with dimm'd eyes
Look after him, and cannot do him good;
So mighty are his vowed enemies. 220
His fortunes I will weep; and, 'twixt each groan,
Say 'Who's a traitor, Gloucester he is none.' Exit.

Queen. Free lords, cold snow melts with the sun's hot beams.
Henry my lord is cold in great affairs, 224
Too full of foolish pity; and Gloucester's show
Beguiles him as the mournful crocodile
With sorrow snares relenting passengers;
Or as the snake, roll'd in a flowering bank, 228
With shining checker'd slough, doth sting a child
That for the beauty thinks it excellent.
Believe me, lords, were none more wise than I,—
And yet herein I judge mine own wit good,— 232
This Gloucester should be quickly rid the world,
To rid us from the fear we have of him.

Car. That he should die is worthy policy;
And yet we want a colour for his death. 236
'Tis meet he be condemn'd by course of law.

Suf. But in my mind that were no policy:
The king will labour still to save his life;
The commons haply rise to save his life; 240
And yet we have but trivial argument,
More than mistrust, that shows him worthy death.

York. So that, by this, you would not have him die.

Suf. Ah, York, no man alive so fain as I. 244

York. 'Tis York that hath more reason for his death.
But, my Lord Cardinal, and you, my Lord of Suffolk,
Say as you think, and speak it from your souls,
Were 't not all one an empty eagle were set 248
To guard the chicken from a hungry kite,
As place Duke Humphrey for the king's protector?

Queen. So the poor chicken should be sure of death.

Suf. Madam, 'tis true: and were 't not madness, then, 252
To make the fox surveyor of the fold?
Who, being accus'd a crafty murtherer,
His guilt should be but idly posted over
Because his purpose is not executed. 256
No; let him die, in that he is a fox,
By nature prov'd an enemy to the flock,
Before his chaps be stain'd with crimson blood,
As Humphrey, prov'd by reasons, to my liege. 260
And do not stand on quillets how to slay him:
Be it by gins, by snares, by subtilty,
Sleeping or waking, 'tis no matter how,
So he be dead; for that is good deceit 264
Which mates him first that first intends deceit.

Queen. Thrice noble Suffolk, 'tis resolutely spoke.

Suf. Not resolute, except so much were done,
For things are often spoke and seldom meant; 268
But, that my heart accordeth with my tongue,
Seeing the deed is meritorious,
And to preserve my sovereign from his foe,
Say but the word and I will be his priest. 272

Car. But I would have him dead, my Lord of Suffolk,
Ere you can take due orders for a priest:
Say you consent and censure well the deed,
And I'll provide his executioner; 276
I tender so the safety of my liege.

Suf. Here is my hand, the deed is worthy doing.

Queen. And so say I.

York. And I: and now we three have spoke it, 280
It skills not greatly who impugns our doom.

Enter a Post.

Post. Great lords, from Ireland am I come amain,
To signify that rebels there are up,
And put the Englishmen unto the sword. 284
Send succours, lords, and stop the rage betime,
Before the wound do grow uncurable;
For, being green, there is great hope of help.

Car. A breach that craves a quick expedient stop! 288
What counsel give you in this weighty cause?

York. That Somerset be sent as regent thither.
'Tis meet that lucky ruler be employ'd;
Witness the fortune he hath had in France. 292

Som. If York, with all his far-fet policy,
Had been the regent there instead of me,
He never would have stay'd in France so long.

York. No, not to lose it all, as thou hast done: 296
I rather would have lost my life betimes
Than bring a burden of dishonour home,
By staying there so long till all were lost.
Show me one scar character'd on thy skin: 300
Men's flesh preserv'd so whole do seldom win.

Queen. Nay then, this spark will prove a raging fire,
If wind and fuel be brought to feed it with.
No more, good York; sweet Somerset, be still: 304
Thy fortune, York, hadst thou been regent there,
Might happily have prov'd far worse than his.

York. What! worse than nought? nay, then a shame take all.

Som. And in the number thee, that wishest shame. 308

Car. My Lord of York, try what your fortune is.
Th' uncivil kerns of Ireland are in arms
And temper clay with blood of Englishmen:
To Ireland will you lead a band of men, 312
Collected choicely, from each county some,
And try your hap against the Irishmen?

York. I will, my lord, so please his majesty.

Suf. Why, our authority is his consent, 316
And what we do establish he confirms:
Then, noble York, take thou this task in hand.

York. I am content: provide me soldiers, lords,
Whiles I take order for mine own affairs. 320

Suf. A charge, Lord York, that I will see perform'd.
But now return we to the false Duke Humphrey.

Car. No more of him; for I will deal with him
That henceforth he shall trouble us no more. 324
And so break off; the day is almost spent.
Lord Suffolk, you and I must talk of that event.

York. My Lord of Suffolk, within fourteen days
At Bristow I expect my soldiers; 328
For there I'll ship them all for Ireland.

Suf. I'll see it truly done, my Lord of York.

Exeunt. Manet York.

York. Now, York, or never, steel thy fearful thoughts,
And change misdoubt to resolution: 332
Be that thou hop'st to be, or what thou art
Resign to death; it is not worth th' enjoying.
Let pale-fac'd fear keep with the mean-born man,
And find no harbour in a royal heart. 336
Faster than spring-time showers comes thought on thought,
And not a thought but thinks on dignity.
My brain, more busy than the labouring spider,
Weaves tedious snares to trap mine enemies. 340
Well, nobles, well; 'tis politicly done,
To send me packing with an host of men:
I fear me you but warm the starved snake,
Who, cherish'd in your breasts, will sting your hearts. 344
'Twas men I lack'd, and you will give them me:
I take it kindly; yet be well assur'd
You put sharp weapons in a madman's hands.
Whiles I in Ireland nourish a mighty band, 348
I will stir up in England some black storm
Shall blow ten thousand souls to heaven or hell;
And this fell tempest shall not cease to rage
Until the golden circuit on my head, 352
Like to the glorious sun's transparent beams,
Do calm the fury of this mad-bred flaw.
And, for a minister of my intent,
I have seduc'd a headstrong Kentishman, 356
John Cade of Ashford,
To make commotion, as full well he can,
Under the title of John Mortimer.
In Ireland have I seen this stubborn Cade 360
Oppose himself against a troop of kerns,
And fought so long, till that his thighs with darts
Were almost like a sharp-quill'd porpentine:
And, in the end being rescu'd, I have seen 364
Him caper upright like a wild Morisco,
Shaking the bloody darts as he his bells.
Full often, like a shag-hair'd crafty kern,
Hath he conversed with the enemy, 368
And undiscover'd come to me again,
And given me notice of their villainies.
This devil here shall be my substitute;
For that John Mortimer, which now is dead, 372
In face, in gait, in speech, he doth resemble.
By this I shall perceive the commons' mind,
How they affect the house and claim of York.
Say he be taken, rack'd, and tortured, 376
I know no pain they can inflict upon him
Will make him say I mov'd him to those arms.
Say that he thrive,—as 'tis great like he will,—
Why, then from Ireland come I with my strength, 380
And reap the harvest which that rascal sow'd;
For, Humphrey being dead, as he shall be,
And Henry put apart, the next for me. Exit.


Scene Two

[Bury St. Edmunds. A Room in the Palace]

Enter two or three [murderers] running over the stage, from the murther of Duke Humphrey.


1. Mur. Run to my Lord of Suffolk; let him know
We have dispatch'd the duke, as he commanded.

2. Mur. O! that it were to do. What have we done?
Didst ever hear a man so penitent? 4

Enter Suffolk.

1. Mur. Here comes my lord.

Suf. Now, sirs, have you dispatch'd this thing?

1. Mur. Ay, my good lord, he's dead.

Suf. Why, that's well said. Go, get you to my house; 8
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? 12

1. Mur. 'Tis, my good lord.

Suf. Away! be gone. Exeunt [Murderers].

Sound trumpets. Enter the King, the Queen, Cardinal, Somerset, with Attendants.

King. Go, call our uncle to our presence straight;
Say, we intend to try his Grace to-day, 16
If he be guilty, as 'tis published.

Suf. I'll call him presently, my noble lord. Exit.

King. Lords, take your places; and, I pray you all,
Proceed no straiter 'gainst our uncle Gloucester 20
Than from true evidence, of good esteem,
He be approv'd in practice culpable.

Queen. God forbid any malice should prevail
That faultless may condemn a nobleman! 24
Pray God, he may acquit him of suspicion!

King. I thank thee, Meg; these words content me much.

Enter Suffolk.

How now! why look'st thou pale? why tremblest thou?
Where is our uncle? what's the matter, Suffolk? 28

Suf. Dead in his bed, my lord; Gloucester is dead.

Queen. Marry, God forfend!

Car. God's secret judgment: I did dream to-night
The duke was dumb, and could not speak a word. 32

King swoons.

Queen. How fares my lord? Help, lords! the king is dead.

Som. Rear up his body; wring him by the nose.

Queen. Run, go, help, help! O Henry, ope thine eyes!

Suf. He doth revive again. Madam, be patient. 36

King. O heavenly God!

Queen.How fares my gracious lord?

Suf. Comfort, my sovereign! gracious Henry, comfort!

King. What! doth my Lord of Suffolk comfort me?
Came he right now to sing a raven's note, 40
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? 44
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! 48
Upon thy eyeballs murderous tyranny
Sits in grim majesty to fright the world.
Look not upon me, for thine eyes are wounding:
Yet do not go away; come, basilisk, 52
And kill the innocent gazer with thy sight;
For in the shade of death I shall find joy,
In life but double death, now Gloucester's dead.

Queen. Why do you rate my Lord of Suffolk thus? 56
Although the duke was enemy to him,
Yet he, most Christian-like, laments his death:
And for myself, foe as he was to me,
Might liquid tears or heart-offending groans 60
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. 64
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, 68
And princes' courts be fill'd with my reproach.
This get I by his death. Ay me, unhappy!
To be a queen, and crown'd with infamy!

King. Ah! woe is me for Gloucester, wretched man. 72

Queen. Be woe for me, more wretched than he is.
What! dost thou turn away and hide thy face?
I am no loathsome leper; look on me.
What! art thou, like the adder, waxen deaf? 76
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:
Erect his statua and worship it, 80
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? 84
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 88
And he that loos'd them forth their brazen caves;
And bid them blow towards England's blessed shore,
Or turn our stern upon a dreadful rock?
Yet Æolus would not be a murtherer, 92
But left that hateful office unto thee:
The pretty vaulting sea refus'd to drown me,
Knowing that thou wouldst have me drown'd on shore
With tears as salt as sea through thy unkindness: 96
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,
Might in thy palace perish Margaret. 100
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 104
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, 108
And so I wish'd thy body might my heart:
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 112
For losing ken of Albion's wished coast.
How often have I tempted Suffolk's tongue—
The agent of thy foul inconstancy—
To sit and witch me, as Ascanius did, 116
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?
Ay me! I can no more. Die, Margaret! 120
For Henry weeps that thou dost live so long.

Noise within. Enter Warwick and many Commons.

War. It is reported, mighty sovereign,
That good Duke Humphrey traitorously is murder'd
By Suffolk and the Cardinal Beaufort's means. 124
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.
Myself have calm'd their spleenful mutiny, 128
Until they hear the order of his death.

King. That he is dead, good Warwick, 'tis too true;
But how he died God knows, not Henry.
Enter his chamber, view his breathless corpse, 132
And comment then upon his sudden death.

War. That shall I do, my liege. Stay, Salisbury,
With the rude multitude till I return. [Exit.]

King. O! thou that judgest all things, stay my thoughts, 136
My thoughts that labour to persuade my soul
Some violent hands were laid on Humphrey's life.
If my suspect be false, forgive me, God,
For judgment only doth belong to thee. 140
Fain would I go to chafe his paly lips
With twenty thousand kisses, and to drain
Upon his face an ocean of salt tears,
To tell my love unto his deaf dumb trunk, 144
And with my fingers feel his hand unfeeling:
But all in vain are these mean obsequies,

Bed put forth [by Warwick].

And to survey his dead and earthy image
What were it but to make my sorrow greater? 148

War. Come hither, gracious sovereign, view this body.

King. That is to see how deep my grave is made;
For with his soul fled all my worldly solace,
For seeing him I see my life in death. 152

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 156
Upon the life of this thrice-famed duke.

Suf. A dreadful oath, sworn with a solemn tongue!
What instance gives Lord Warwick for his vow?

War. See how the blood is settled in his face. 160
Oft have I seen a timely-parted ghost,
Of ashy semblance, meagre, pale, and bloodless,
Being all descended to the labouring heart;
Who, in the conflict that it holds with death, 164
Attracts the same for aidance 'gainst the enemy;
Which with the heart there cools, and ne'er returneth
To blush and beautify the cheek again.
But see, his face is black and full of blood, 168
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:
His hands abroad display'd, as one that grasp'd 172
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. 176
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; 180
And we, I hope, sir, are no murtherers.

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, 184
And 'tis well seen he found an enemy.

Queen. Then you, belike, suspect these noblemen
As guilty of Duke Humphrey's timeless death.

War. Who finds the heifer dead, and bleeding fresh, 188
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,
But may imagine how the bird was dead, 192
Although the kite soar with unbloodied beak?
Even so suspicious is this tragedy.

Queen. Are you the butcher, Suffolk? where's your knife?
Is Beaufort term'd a kite? where are his talons? 196

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 murther's crimson badge. 200
Say, if thou dar'st, proud Lord of Warwickshire,
That I am faulty in Duke Humphrey's death.

War. What dares not Warwick, if false Suffolk dare him? 203

Queen. He dares not calm his contumelious spirit,
Nor cease to be an arrogant controller,
Though Suffolk dare him twenty thousand times.

War. Madam, be still, with reverence may I say;
For every word you speak in his behalf 208
Is slander to your royal dignity.

Suf. Blunt-witted lord, ignoble in demeanour!
If ever lady wrong'd her lord so much,
Thy mother took into her blameful bed 212
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 murther bucklers thee, 216
And I should rob the deathsman of his fee,
Quitting thee thereby of ten thousand shames,
And that my sovereign's presence makes me mild,
I would, false murd'rous coward, on thy knee 220
Make thee beg pardon for thy passed speech,
And say it was thy mother that thou meant'st;
That thou thyself wast born in bastardy:
And after all this fearful homage done, 224
Give thee thy hire, and send thy soul to hell,
Pernicious blood-sucker of sleeping men.

Suf. Thou shalt be waking while I shed thy blood,
If from this presence thou dar'st go with me. 228

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].

King. What stronger breastplate than a heart untainted 232
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.

A noise within.

Queen. What noise is this? 236

Enter Suffolk and Warwick, with their weapons drawn.

King. 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 trait'rous Warwick, with the men of Bury, 240
Set all upon me, mighty sovereign.

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, 244
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; 248
They say, in him they fear your highness' death;
And mere instinct of love and loyalty,
Free from a stubborn opposite intent,
As being thought to contradict your liking, 252
Makes them thus forward in his banishment.
They say, in care of your most royal person,
That if your highness should intend to sleep,
And charge that no man should disturb your rest 256
In pain of your dislike or pain of death,
Yet, notwithstanding such a strait edict,
Were there a serpent seen, with forked tongue,
That slily glided towards your majesty, 260
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, 264
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, 268
They say, is shamefully bereft of life.

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; 272
But you, my lord, were glad to be employ'd,
To show how quaint an orator you are:
But all the honour Salisbury hath won
Is that he was the lord ambassador, 276
Sent from a sort of tinkers to the king.

Within. An answer from the king, or we will all break in!

King. Go, Salisbury, and tell them all from me,
I thank them for their tender loving care; 280
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: 284
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. 288

[Exit Salisbury.]

Queen. O Henry! let me plead for gentle Suffolk.

King. 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. 292
Had I but said, I would have kept my word,
But when I swear, it is irrevocable.
[To Suffolk.] If after three days' space thou here be'st found
On any ground that I am ruler of, 296
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.

Exit [with Warwick, etc.].

Queen. Mischance and sorrow go along with you! 300
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 304

Suf. Cease, gentle queen, these execrations,
And let thy Suffolk take his heavy leave.

Queen. Fie, coward woman and soft-hearted wretch!
Hast thou not spirit to curse thine enemy? 308

Suf. A plague upon them! Wherefore should I curse them?
Would curses kill, as doth the mandrake's groan,
I would invent as bitter-searching terms,
As curst, as harsh and horrible to hear, 312
Deliver'd strongly through my fixed teeth,
With full as many signs of deadly hate,
As lean-fac'd Envy in her loathsome cave.
My tongue should stumble in mine earnest words; sle
Mine eyes should sparkle like the beaten flint;
Mine hair be fix'd an end, as one distract;
Ay, every joint should seem to curse and ban:
And even now my burthen'd heart would break, 320
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 murd'ring basilisks 324
Their softest touch as smart as lizard's stings!
Their music frightful as the serpent's hiss,
And boding screech-owls make the consort full!
All the foul terrors in dark-seated hell— 328

Queen. Enough, sweet Suffolk; thou torment'st thyself;
And these dread curses, like the sun 'gainst glass,
Or like an overcharged gun, recoil,
And turn the force of them upon thyself. 332

Suf. You bade me ban, and will you bid me leave?
Now, by the ground that I am banish'd from,
Well could I curse away a winter's night,
Though standing naked on a mountain top, 336
Where biting cold would never let grass grow,
And think it but a minute spent in sport.

Queen. O! let me entreat thee, cease! Give me thy hand,
That I may dew it with my mournful tears; 340
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 might'st think upon these by the seal, 344
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. 348
I will repeal thee, or, be well assur'd,
Adventure to be banished myself;
And banished I am, if but from thee.
Go; speak not to me; even now be gone. 352
O! go not yet. Even thus two friends condemn'd
Embrace and kiss, and take ten thousand leaves,
Loather a hundred times to part than die.
Yet now farewell; and farewell life with thee! 356

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;
A wilderness is populous enough, 360
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. 364
I can no more: live thou to joy thy life;
Myself to joy in nought but that thou liv'st.

Enter Vaux.

Queen. Whither goes Vaux so fast? what news, I prithee?

Vaux. To signify unto his majesty 368
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. 372
Sometime he talks as if Duke Humphrey's ghost
Were by his side; sometime he calls the king,
And whispers to his pillow, as to him,
The secrets of his overcharged soul: 376
And I am sent to tell his majesty
That even now he cries aloud for him.

Queen. Go tell this heavy message to the king.

Exit [Vaux].

Ay me! what is this world! what news are these! 380
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,
And with the southern clouds contend in tears, 384
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; 388
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, 392
Dying with mother's dug between its lips;
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: 896
So shouldst thou either turn my flying soul,
Or I should breathe it so into thy body,
And then it liv'd in sweet Elysium.
To die by thee were but to die in jest; 400
From thee to die were torture more than death.
O! let me stay, befall what may befall!

Queen. Away! though parting be a fretful corrosive,
It is applied to a deathful wound. 404
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.

Queen.And take my heart with thee. 408

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.

Queen.This way for me. 412

Exeunt [at different doors].


Scene Three

[London. Cardinal Beaufort's Bedchamber]

Enter the King, Salisbury, and Warwick to the Cardinal in bed.


King. How fares my lord? speak, Beaufort, to thy sovereign.

Car. If thou be'st death, I'll give thee England's treasure,
Enough to purchase such another island,
So thou wilt let me live, and feel no pain. 4

King. Ah! what a sign it is of evil life
Where death's approach is seen so terrible.

War. Beaufort, it is thy sovereign speaks to thee.

Car. Bring me unto my trial when you will. 8
Died he not in his bed? where should he die?
Can I make men live whe'r they will or no?
O! torture me no more, I will confess.
Alive again? then show me where he is: 12
I'll give a thousand pound to look upon him.
He hath no eyes, the dust hath blinded them.
Comb down his hair; look! look! it stands upright,
Like lime-twigs set to catch my winged soul. 16
Give me some drink; and bid the apothecary
Bring the strong poison that I bought of him.

King. O thou eternal Mover of the heavens!
Look with a gentle eye upon this wretch; 20
O! beat away the busy meddling fiend
That lays strong siege unto this wretch's soul,
And from his bosom purge this black despair.

War. See how the pangs of death do make him grin! 24

Sal. Disturb him not! let him pass peaceably.

King. Peace to his soul, if God's good pleasure be!
Lord Cardinal, if thou think'st on heaven's bliss,
Hold up thy hand, make signal of thy hope. 28
He dies, and makes no sign. O God, forgive him!

War. So bad a death argues a monstrous life.

King. Forbear to judge, for we are sinners all.
Close up his eyes, and draw the curtain close; 32
And let us all to meditation. Exeunt.


Footnotes to Act III

Scene One

1 muse: wonder
2 Cf. n.
9-12 Cf. n.
9 since: when
14 give . . . day: say 'good morning'
18 grin: show their teeth
23 policy: prudent course
24 Respecting: considering
25 And considering the profit he would derive from your death
33 husbandry; cultivation of the soil
35 collect: infer
36 fond: foolish
38 subscribe: submit
40 Reprove: disprove
41 effectual: conclusive
45 subornation: instigation
48 reputing: boasting
52 frame: bring to pass
59 Devise strange deaths; cf. n.
64 to: in comparison with
66 at once: addressing you all together (?), without more ado (?)
68 shall . . . conscience: if I am to say what I really think
72 too well given: of too good character
74 fond affiance; foolish trust
77 lent him: i.e. not his own, false
79 What intending deceiver cannot assume a false appearance?
83-85 Cf. n.
87 Cold news for me; cf. n.
97 Cf. n.
110 watch'd: kept vigil through
112 doit: Dutch coin, worth half a farthing
113 groat: four-penny coin
117 dis-pursed: paid out
126 should: was wont to, would
129 passengers: wayfarers
130 condign: adequate
132 Beyond any other kind of felony or misdemeanor
138 further: future
145 subornation: instigation to perjury or crime (cf. l. 45)
149 period: end
150 it: i.e. my life
153 conclude: by their deaths bring to conclusion
159 overweening: presumptuous; cf. n.
160 accuse: accusation
level: aim
164 liefest liege: dearest sovereign
166 conventicles: secret meetings
170 effected: put into effect
173 care: endure care, trouble themselves
178 twit: twitted
179 clerkly couch'd; phrased with learned circumlocution
184 Beshrew: curse, fie on!
192 gnarling: snarling (to determine)
203 map: epitome, abstract
222 Who's: whoever is
223 Free: noble
229 slough: skin
236 colour: pretext
241 argument: evidence
242 mistrust: suspicion
244 fain: gladly
248 empty: i.e. starving
255 idly: foolishly
posted over: passed over hastily, ignored
260 prov’d: i.e. proved an enemy
261 stand on quillets: waste time with subtle distinctions
262 gins: traps
265 mates: confounds, overwhelms
269 that: to prove that
272 be his priest: i.e. perform his last offices, arrange his death
275 censure well: approve
277 tender: value
281 skills: matters
282 amain: with speed
285 betime: betimes, early
288 expedient: expeditious
293 far-fet: far-fetched, cunning
300 character'd: written
306 happily: haply, perhaps
308 in the number: among the rest; cf. n.
310 uncivil: disorderly
kerns: light-armed irregulars
311 temper clay: moisten the ground
318 Cf. n.
328 Bristow: Bristol
331, 332 Cf. n.
342 send me packing: pack me off
343 starved: frozen
350 Shall: which shall
352 circuit: circlet, crown
354 mad-bred: due to mad policies of Henry and his counselors
flaw: squall of wind
355 minister: agent
356-359 Cf. n.
362 fought: i.e. have seen him fight
363 porpentine: porcupine
365 caper upright: leap up and down
Morisco: morris-dancer.
367 shag-hair’d: shaggy
379 great like: very likely

Scene Two

3 to do: i.e. still undone
14 S. d.; cf. n.
17 If: to determine whether
published: publicly asserted
18 presently: at once
20 straiter: more rigorously
21 of good esteem: worthy of credence
22 approv'd: proved
26 Meg; cf. n.
30 forfend: forbid
31 to-night: last night
34 Rear up: support
40 right now: this very moment
49 murderous tyranny: the tyranny of murder
52 basilisk: fabulous reptile whose sight caused death
56 rate: upbraid
61 blood-consuming; cf. n.
66 hollow friends: euphemism for enemies
73 woe: sorry
76 like the adder; cf. n.
waxen: grown
83 awkward: unfavorable
89 he: i.e. Æolus
forth: out of
90 bid: I bade
99 Because: in order that
100 perish: destroy
101 ken: discern
111 be packing with: accompany in flight
112 spectacles: visual organs
116-118 Cf. n.
116 witch: betwitch
117 madding: growing mad
129 order: manner
133 comment upon: interpret
134 Salisbury; cf. n.
141 chafe: warm
paly: pale
146 obsequies: acts of duty
161 timely-parted ghost: body of one whose soul has departed naturally
163 Being: i.e. the blood
172 abroad display’d: extended
176 lodg’d: beaten down
178 probable: sufficient as proof
191 puttock's: kite's, hawk's
205 controller: meddling detractor
217 deathsman: executioner
218 Quitting: relieving
224 fearful homage: cowardly submission
250 mere instinct: sincere impulse
251 opposite intent: purpose of opposition
265 whe’r: whether
268 his worth: as worthy as he
274 quaint: clever
281 cited: urged
287 breathe . . . in: infect with his breath
293 said: affirmed without oath
310 mandrake's groan; cf. n.
312 curst: bitter
318 an: on
as . . . distract: like a madman’s
323 cypress trees: trees symbolical of mourning
325 smart: painful
327 consort: band of musicians
333 leave: cease
342 woeful monuments: marks of woe (tear stains)
344 seal: impression of her lips; cf. n.
348 As when a glutton thinks of famine
349 repeal thee: secure your recall
350 Adventure: risk
369 Cf. n.
381 hour's poor loss: petty transitory grief
382 Omitting: ignoring
384 southern: i.e. fog-laden
387 by: with
393 its; cf. n.
403 corrosive: painful remedy
407 Iris: Juno's messenger
409 into: within
cask: casket