List iconHenry VI, Part 1List icon

Henry VI, Part 1
Act 2, scene 5

Synopsis:

Contents

Characters in the Play

Entire Play

With an underage boy now king of England, Henry VI, Part 1, depicts the collapse of England’s role in France, as…

Act 1, scene 1

The funeral procession for Henry V is interrupted first by a quarrel between Gloucester and Winchester and then by messengers…

Act 1, scene 2

Charles the Dauphin, leader of the French, is defeated by a small English force that is besieging Orleance. He is…

Act 1, scene 3

Gloucester visits the Tower of London, only to be denied entry by Winchester. The servants of the two nobles skirmish…

Act 1, scene 4

The master gunner of Orleance shows his boy how to fire on the English when they come to spy. The…

Act 1, scene 5

Talbot attacks, fights Pucelle, fails to defeat her, and accuses her of witchcraft. The English, defeated, retreat.

Act 1, scene 6

The French celebrate Pucelle’s victory.

Act 2, scene 1

The English forces, led by Bedford, Burgundy, and Talbot, scale the walls of Orleance and drive out the French, who…

Act 2, scene 2

The English plan a grand tomb for the dead Salisbury, in part as a monument to their recent victory. Talbot…

Act 2, scene 3

The Countess plots to capture and kill the visiting Talbot.

Act 2, scene 4

Richard Plantagenet and Somerset, having quarreled over a case at law, withdraw into a garden, where the supporters of Plantagenet…

Act 2, scene 5

Edmund Mortimer, imprisoned by Henry IV because of his strong claim to the throne, and kept in prison by Henry…

Act 3, scene 1

Gloucester and Winchester quarrel openly in Henry VI’s royal court. Their supporters, forbidden to carry weapons, have been fighting in…

Act 3, scene 2

Pucelle and four soldiers, disguised as peasants, enter Roan. From a tower within the city, Pucelle signals to the French…

Act 3, scene 3

As Talbot and Burgundy march separately to Paris for the coronation of Henry VI, Pucelle entices Burgundy to join the…

Act 3, scene 4

In Paris, a grateful Henry VI creates Talbot Earl of Shrewsbury in recompense for his victories in France. Vernon, a…

Act 4, scene 1

Henry VI is crowned. Fastolf arrives with a letter from Burgundy and, because of his earlier cowardice in battle, is…

Act 4, scene 2

As Talbot draws up his troops before Bordeaux, he learns that he is surrounded by much greater French forces.

Act 4, scene 3

Sir William Lucy urges York to help Talbot, but York refuses to march until Somerset unites his cavalry with York’s…

Act 4, scene 4

Sir William Lucy chastises Somerset for not having helped Talbot, but Somerset blames York, who has apparently refused to communicate…

Act 4, scene 5

Talbot has been joined by his son John Talbot, whom he urges to flee certain death. John Talbot refuses to…

Act 4, scene 6

Talbot again urges his son to flee and is again rebuffed.

Act 4, scene 7

Talbot, holding his dead son, dies. Sir William Lucy comes to claim their bodies from the victorious French.

Act 5, scene 1

Henry follows Gloucester’s advice to make peace with France and to agree to marry the daughter of the earl of…

Act 5, scene 2

Charles is informed that the divided English army has united and is advancing toward him.

Act 5, scene 3

As the French face likely defeat, Pucelle conjures up devils, but they refuse to help, and she is captured by…

Act 5, scene 4

Pucelle, on her way to be executed by the English, is visited by her shepherd father, whom she scorns and…

Act 5, scene 5

Suffolk persuades Henry to marry Margaret over the objections of Gloucester. Suffolk plans to control Margaret and, through her, the…

Include links to:

Images
Glosses
Audio
Video
Essays
Quill icon
Scene 5
Enter Edmund Mortimer, brought in a chair,
and Jailers.


MORTIMER 
 Kind keepers of my weak decaying age,
 Let dying Mortimer here rest himself.
 Even like a man new-halèd from the rack,
 So fare my limbs with long imprisonment;
5 And these gray locks, the pursuivants of death,
 Nestor-like agèd in an age of care,
 Argue the end of Edmund Mortimer;
 These eyes, like lamps whose wasting oil is spent,
 Wax dim, as drawing to their exigent;
10 Weak shoulders, overborne with burdening grief,
 And pithless arms, like to a withered vine
 That droops his sapless branches to the ground;
 Yet are these feet, whose strengthless stay is numb,
 Unable to support this lump of clay,
15 Swift-wingèd with desire to get a grave,
 As witting I no other comfort have.
 But tell me, keeper, will my nephew come?
KEEPER 
 Richard Plantagenet, my lord, will come.
 We sent unto the Temple, unto his chamber,
20 And answer was returned that he will come.
MORTIMER 
 Enough. My soul shall then be satisfied.
 Poor gentleman, his wrong doth equal mine.
 Since Henry Monmouth first began to reign,
 Before whose glory I was great in arms,
25 This loathsome sequestration have I had;
 And even since then hath Richard been obscured,
 Deprived of honor and inheritance.
 But now the arbitrator of despairs,

89
Henry VI, Part 1
ACT 2. SC. 5

 Just Death, kind umpire of men’s miseries,
30 With sweet enlargement doth dismiss me hence.
 I would his troubles likewise were expired,
 That so he might recover what was lost.

Enter Richard Plantagenet.

KEEPER 
 My lord, your loving nephew now is come.
MORTIMER 
 Richard Plantagenet, my friend, is he come?
PLANTAGENET 
35 Ay, noble uncle, thus ignobly used,
 Your nephew, late despisèd Richard, comes.
MORTIMER, to Jailer 
 Direct mine arms I may embrace his neck
 And in his bosom spend my latter gasp.
 O, tell me when my lips do touch his cheeks,
40 That I may kindly give one fainting kiss.
He embraces Richard.
 And now declare, sweet stem from York’s great stock,
 Why didst thou say of late thou wert despised?
PLANTAGENET 
 First, lean thine agèd back against mine arm,
 And in that ease I’ll tell thee my disease.
45 This day, in argument upon a case,
 Some words there grew ’twixt Somerset and me,
 Among which terms he used his lavish tongue
 And did upbraid me with my father’s death;
 Which obloquy set bars before my tongue,
50 Else with the like I had requited him.
 Therefore, good uncle, for my father’s sake,
 In honor of a true Plantagenet,
 And for alliance’ sake, declare the cause
 My father, Earl of Cambridge, lost his head.

91
Henry VI, Part 1
ACT 2. SC. 5

MORTIMER 
55 That cause, fair nephew, that imprisoned me
 And hath detained me all my flow’ring youth
 Within a loathsome dungeon, there to pine,
 Was cursèd instrument of his decease.
PLANTAGENET 
 Discover more at large what cause that was,
60 For I am ignorant and cannot guess.
MORTIMER 
 I will, if that my fading breath permit
 And death approach not ere my tale be done.
 Henry the Fourth, grandfather to this king,
 Deposed his nephew Richard, Edward’s son,
65 The first begotten and the lawful heir
 Of Edward king, the third of that descent;
 During whose reign the Percies of the north,
 Finding his usurpation most unjust,
 Endeavored my advancement to the throne.
70 The reason moved these warlike lords to this
 Was, for that—young Richard thus removed,
 Leaving no heir begotten of his body—
 I was the next by birth and parentage;
 For by my mother I derivèd am
75 From Lionel, Duke of Clarence, third son
 To King Edward the Third; whereas he
 From John of Gaunt doth bring his pedigree,
 Being but fourth of that heroic line.
 But mark: as in this haughty great attempt
80 They laborèd to plant the rightful heir,
 I lost my liberty and they their lives.
 Long after this, when Henry the Fifth,
 Succeeding his father Bolingbroke, did reign,
 Thy father, Earl of Cambridge then, derived
85 From famous Edmund Langley, Duke of York,
 Marrying my sister that thy mother was,

93
Henry VI, Part 1
ACT 2. SC. 5

 Again, in pity of my hard distress,
 Levied an army, weening to redeem
 And have installed me in the diadem.
90 But, as the rest, so fell that noble earl
 And was beheaded. Thus the Mortimers,
 In whom the title rested, were suppressed.
PLANTAGENET 
 Of which, my lord, your Honor is the last.
MORTIMER 
 True, and thou seest that I no issue have
95 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.
PLANTAGENET 
 Thy grave admonishments prevail with me.
 But yet methinks my father’s execution
100 Was nothing less than bloody tyranny.
MORTIMER 
 With silence, nephew, be thou politic;
 Strong-fixèd is the house of Lancaster,
 And, like a mountain, not to be removed.
 But now thy uncle is removing hence,
105 As princes do their courts when they are cloyed
 With long continuance in a settled place.
PLANTAGENET 
 O uncle, would some part of my young years
 Might but redeem the passage of your age.
MORTIMER 
 Thou dost then wrong me, as that slaughterer doth
110 Which giveth many wounds when one will kill.
 Mourn not, except thou sorrow for my good;
 Only give order for my funeral.
 And so farewell, and fair be all thy hopes,
 And prosperous be thy life in peace and war.
Dies.

95
Henry VI, Part 1
ACT 2. SC. 5

PLANTAGENET 
115 And peace, no war, befall thy parting soul.
 In prison hast thou spent a pilgrimage,
 And like a hermit overpassed thy days.—
 Well, I will lock his counsel in my breast,
 And what I do imagine, let that rest.—
120 Keepers, convey him hence, and I myself
 Will see his burial better than his life.
Jailers exit carrying Mortimer’s body.
 Here dies the dusky torch of Mortimer,
 Choked with ambition of the meaner sort.
 And for those wrongs, those bitter injuries,
125 Which Somerset hath offered to my house,
 I doubt not but with honor to redress.
 And therefore haste I to the Parliament,
 Either to be restorèd to my blood,
 Or make mine ill th’ advantage of my good.
He exits.