List iconHenry VI, Part 2List icon

Henry VI, Part 2
Act 3, scene 1

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Entire Play

With a weak, unworldly king on the throne, the English nobility heightens its struggle for power in Henry VI, Part 2,…

Act 1, scene 1

King Henry meets his consort Queen Margaret, brought by Suffolk from France. The nobles fall into dissension, with the Cardinal,…

Act 1, scene 2

The Duchess of Gloucester’s dream of becoming queen is rebuked by her husband but encouraged by the treacherous priest John…

Act 1, scene 3

Queen Margaret and Suffolk dismiss petitioners seeking Gloucester’s aid and then conspire against Gloucester. Somerset and York then clash, as…

Act 1, scene 4

The Duchess of Gloucester watches while a spirit is conjured up to prophesy the fates of her rivals, but she…

Act 2, scene 1

King Henry and his court are hunting when they are interrupted by an announcement of a miracle in nearby Saint…

Act 2, scene 2

York persuades Salisbury and Warwick of the validity of his claim to the throne.

Act 2, scene 3

King Henry sentences the Duchess to public penance and exile, and removes Gloucester from his office as Lord Protector. Then…

Act 2, scene 4

Gloucester watches his Duchess’s public humiliation as she goes into exile. He is summoned to Parliament.

Act 3, scene 1

In Parliament Queen Margaret and the nobles level charges against Gloucester, but King Henry remains convinced of his uncle’s innocence….

Act 3, scene 2

The news of Gloucester’s murder makes King Henry faint and the Commons rise to demand Suffolk’s exile. The King obliges…

Act 3, scene 3

The Cardinal dies.

Act 4, scene 1

Attempting to sail to France, Suffolk is captured by shipmen and brutally assassinated.

Act 4, scene 2

In a plot instigated by York, Jack Cade leads a rebellion against King Henry. The Staffords seek to put it…

Act 4, scene 3

Cade defeats and kills the Staffords and marches on London.

Act 4, scene 4

King Henry flees London and Queen Margaret mourns Suffolk’s death. Lord Saye, whom the rebels hate, decides to hide in…

Act 4, scene 5

Citizens of London plead for military aid from Lord Scales, who commands forces at the Tower. He sends Matthew Gough,…

Act 4, scene 6

Cade enters London.

Act 4, scene 7

Cade defeats and kills Gough. Lord Saye is captured and killed.

Act 4, scene 8

Lord Clifford and Buckingham persuade Cade’s followers to return to King Henry. Cade flees.

Act 4, scene 9

As King Henry rejoices at Cade’s defeat, a messenger announces York’s approach with an Irish army ostensibly seeking Somerset’s arrest…

Act 4, scene 10

A starving Cade is killed in a fight with the Kentish gentleman Alexander Iden, in whose garden Cade looked for…

Act 5, scene 1

Buckingham seemingly placates York, and King Henry rewards Iden. York, seeing Somerset at liberty, announces his claim to the throne,…

Act 5, scene 2

York kills Lord Clifford, and York’s son Richard kills the Duke of Somerset. Defeated in battle, King Henry flees to…

Act 5, scene 3

Victorious, York and his followers set out for London.

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Scene 1
Sound a sennet. Enter King Henry, Queen Margaret,
Cardinal, Suffolk, York, Buckingham, Salisbury, and
Warwick, and Others to the Parliament.


KING HENRY 
 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 MARGARET 
 Can you not see, or will you not observe,
5 The strangeness of his altered countenance?
 With what a majesty he bears himself,
 How insolent of late he is become,
 How proud, how peremptory, and unlike himself?
 We know the time since he was mild and affable;
10 And if we did but glance a far-off look,
 Immediately he was upon his knee,
 That all the court admired him for submission.
 But meet him now, and, be it in the morn
 When everyone will give the time of day,
15 He knits his brow and shows an angry eye
 And passeth by with stiff unbowèd knee,
 Disdaining duty that to us belongs.
 Small curs are not regarded when they grin,
 But great men tremble when the lion roars—
20 And Humphrey is no little man in England.
101

103
Henry VI, Part 2
ACT 3. SC. 1

 First, note that he is near you in descent,
 And, should you fall, he is the next will mount.
 Meseemeth then it is no policy,
 Respecting what a rancorous mind he bears
25 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;
 And when he please to make commotion,
30 ’Tis to be feared they all will follow him.
 Now ’tis the spring, and weeds are shallow-rooted;
 Suffer them now, and they’ll o’ergrow the garden
 And choke the herbs for want of husbandry.
 The reverent care I bear unto my lord
35 Made me collect these dangers in the Duke.
 If it be fond, call it a woman’s fear,
 Which fear, if better reasons can supplant,
 I will subscribe and say I wronged the Duke.
 My lords of Suffolk, Buckingham, and York,
40 Reprove my allegation if you can,
 Or else conclude my words effectual.
SUFFOLK 
 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.
45 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—
 As next the King he was successive heir,
50 And such high vaunts of his nobility—
 Did instigate the bedlam brainsick duchess
 By wicked means to frame our sovereign’s fall.
 Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep,
 And in his simple show he harbors treason.
55 The fox barks not when he would steal the lamb.

105
Henry VI, Part 2
ACT 3. SC. 1

 No, no, my sovereign, Gloucester is a man
 Unsounded yet and full of deep deceit.
CARDINAL 
 Did he not, contrary to form of law,
 Devise strange deaths for small offenses done?
YORK 
60 And did he not, in his protectorship,
 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?
BUCKINGHAM 
 Tut, these are petty faults to faults unknown,
65 Which time will bring to light in smooth Duke
 Humphrey.
KING HENRY 
 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,
70 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
 To dream on evil or to work my downfall.
QUEEN MARGARET 
75 Ah, what’s more dangerous than this fond affiance?
 Seems he a dove? His feathers are but borrowed,
 For he’s disposèd as the hateful raven.
 Is he a lamb? His skin is surely lent him,
 For he’s inclined as is the ravenous wolves.
80 Who cannot steal a shape that means deceit?
 Take heed, my lord; the welfare of us all
 Hangs on the cutting short that fraudful man.

Enter Somerset.

SOMERSET 
 All health unto my gracious sovereign!

107
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ACT 3. SC. 1

KING HENRY 
 Welcome, Lord Somerset. What news from France?
SOMERSET 
85 That all your interest in those territories
 Is utterly bereft you. All is lost.
KING HENRY 
 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.
90 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.

Enter Gloucester.

GLOUCESTER 
 All happiness unto my lord the King!
95 Pardon, my liege, that I have stayed so long.
SUFFOLK 
 Nay, Gloucester, know that thou art come too soon,
 Unless thou wert more loyal than thou art.
 I do arrest thee of high treason here.
GLOUCESTER 
 Well, Suffolk, thou shalt not see me blush
100 Nor change my countenance for this arrest.
 A heart unspotted is not easily daunted.
 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 
105 ’Tis thought, my lord, that you took bribes of France
 And, being Protector, stayed the soldiers’ pay,
 By means whereof his Highness hath lost France.
GLOUCESTER 
 Is it but thought so? What are they that think it?

109
Henry VI, Part 2
ACT 3. SC. 1

 I never robbed the soldiers of their pay
110 Nor ever had one penny bribe from France.
 So help me God as I have watched the night—
 Ay, night by night—in studying good for England!
 That doit that e’er I wrested from the King,
 Or any groat I hoarded to my use,
115 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,
 Have I dispursèd to the garrisons
 And never asked for restitution.
CARDINAL 
120 It serves you well, my lord, to say so much.
GLOUCESTER 
 I say no more than truth, so help me God.
YORK 
 In your protectorship, you did devise
 Strange tortures for offenders, never heard of,
 That England was defamed by tyranny.
GLOUCESTER 
125 Why, ’tis well known that whiles I was Protector,
 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 murderer
130 Or foul felonious thief that fleeced poor passengers,
 I never gave them condign punishment.
 Murder indeed, that bloody sin, I tortured
 Above the felon or what trespass else.
SUFFOLK 
 My lord, these faults are easy, quickly answered;
135 But mightier crimes are laid unto your charge
 Whereof you cannot easily purge yourself.
 I do arrest you in his Highness’ name,
 And here commit you to my Lord Cardinal
 To keep until your further time of trial.

111
Henry VI, Part 2
ACT 3. SC. 1

KING HENRY 
140 My lord of Gloucester, ’tis my special hope
 That you will clear yourself from all suspense.
 My conscience tells me you are innocent.
GLOUCESTER 
 Ah, gracious lord, these days are dangerous.
 Virtue is choked with foul ambition,
145 And charity chased hence by rancor’s hand;
 Foul subornation is predominant,
 And equity exiled your Highness’ land.
 I know their complot is to have my life;
 And if my death might make this island happy
150 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,
 Will not conclude their plotted tragedy.
155 Beaufort’s red sparkling eyes blab his heart’s malice,
 And Suffolk’s cloudy brow his stormy hate;
 Sharp Buckingham unburdens with his tongue
 The envious load that lies upon his heart;
 And dogged York, that reaches at the moon,
160 Whose overweening arm I have plucked back,
 By false accuse doth level at my life.—
 And you, my sovereign lady, with the rest,
 Causeless have laid disgraces on my head
 And with your best endeavor have stirred up
165 My liefest liege to be mine enemy.
 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
170 Nor store of treasons to augment my guilt.
 The ancient proverb will be well effected:
 “A staff is quickly found to beat a dog.”

113
Henry VI, Part 2
ACT 3. SC. 1

CARDINAL 
 My liege, his railing is intolerable.
 If those that care to keep your royal person
175 From treason’s secret knife and traitor’s rage
 Be thus upbraided, chid, and rated at,
 And the offender granted scope of speech,
 ’Twill make them cool in zeal unto your Grace.
SUFFOLK 
 Hath he not twit our sovereign lady here
180 With ignominious words, though clerkly couched,
 As if she had subornèd some to swear
 False allegations to o’erthrow his state?
QUEEN MARGARET 
 But I can give the loser leave to chide.
GLOUCESTER 
 Far truer spoke than meant. I lose, indeed;
185 Beshrew the winners, for they played me false!
 And well such losers may have leave to speak.
BUCKINGHAM 
 He’ll wrest the sense and hold us here all day.
 Lord Cardinal, he is your prisoner.
CARDINAL, to his Men 
 Sirs, take away the Duke, and guard him sure.
GLOUCESTER 
190 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!
195 For, good King Henry, thy decay I fear.
Gloucester exits, guarded by Cardinal’s Men.
KING HENRY 
 My lords, what to your wisdoms seemeth best
 Do, or undo, as if ourself were here.
QUEEN MARGARET 
 What, will your Highness leave the Parliament?

115
Henry VI, Part 2
ACT 3. SC. 1

KING HENRY 
 Ay, Margaret. My heart is drowned with grief,
200 Whose flood begins to flow within mine eyes,
 My body round engirt with misery;
 For what’s more miserable than discontent?
 Ah, uncle Humphrey, in thy face I see
 The map of honor, truth, and loyalty;
205 And yet, good Humphrey, is the hour to come
 That e’er I proved thee false or feared thy faith.
 What louring star now envies thy estate
 That these great lords and Margaret our queen
 Do seek subversion of thy harmless life?
210 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 strains,
 Bearing it to the bloody slaughterhouse,
 Even so remorseless have they borne him hence;
215 And as the dam runs lowing up and down,
 Looking the way her harmless young one went,
 And can do naught but wail her darling’s loss,
 Even so myself bewails good Gloucester’s case
 With sad unhelpful tears, and with dimmed eyes
220 Look after him and cannot do him good,
 So mighty are his vowèd enemies.
 His fortunes I will weep and, ’twixt each groan,
 Say “Who’s a traitor, Gloucester he is none.”
He exits, with Buckingham, Salisbury, Warwick,
and Others.
 Somerset steps aside.

QUEEN MARGARET, to Cardinal, Suffolk, and York 
 Free lords, cold snow melts with the sun’s hot
225 beams.
 Henry my lord is cold in great affairs,
 Too full of foolish pity; and Gloucester’s show
 Beguiles him, as the mournful crocodile
 With sorrow snares relenting passengers,
230 Or as the snake, rolled in a flow’ring bank,

117
Henry VI, Part 2
ACT 3. SC. 1

 With shining checkered 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—
235 This Gloucester should be quickly rid the world,
 To rid us from the fear we have of him.
CARDINAL 
 That he should die is worthy policy,
 But yet we want a color for his death.
 ’Tis meet he be condemned by course of law.
SUFFOLK 
240 But, in my mind, that were no policy.
 The King will labor still to save his life,
 The Commons haply rise to save his life,
 And yet we have but trivial argument,
 More than mistrust, that shows him worthy death.
YORK 
245 So that, by this, you would not have him die.
SUFFOLK 
 Ah, York, no man alive so fain as I!
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:
250 Were ’t not all one an empty eagle were set
 To guard the chicken from a hungry kite
 As place Duke Humphrey for the King’s Protector?
QUEEN MARGARET 
 So the poor chicken should be sure of death.
SUFFOLK 
 Madam, ’tis true; and were ’t not madness then
255 To make the fox surveyor of the fold—
 Who, being accused a crafty murderer,
 His guilt should be but idly posted over
 Because his purpose is not executed?
 No, let him die in that he is a fox,

119
Henry VI, Part 2
ACT 3. SC. 1

260 By nature proved an enemy to the flock,
 Before his chaps be stained with crimson blood,
 As Humphrey, proved by reasons, to my liege.
 And do not stand on quillets how to slay him—
 Be it by gins, by snares, by subtlety,
265 Sleeping or waking. ’Tis no matter how,
 So he be dead; for that is good deceit
 Which mates him first that first intends deceit.
QUEEN MARGARET 
 Thrice noble Suffolk, ’tis resolutely spoke.
SUFFOLK 
 Not resolute, except so much were done,
270 For things are often spoke and seldom meant;
 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.
CARDINAL 
275 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.
 I tender so the safety of my liege.
SUFFOLK 
280 Here is my hand. The deed is worthy doing.
QUEEN MARGARET And so say I.
YORK 
 And I. And now we three have spoke it,
 It skills not greatly who impugns our doom.

Enter a Post.

POST 
 Great lords, from Ireland am I come amain
285 To signify that rebels there are up
 And put the Englishmen unto the sword.
 Send succors, lords, and stop the rage betime,

121
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ACT 3. SC. 1

 Before the wound do grow uncurable;
 For, being green, there is great hope of help.
He exits.
CARDINAL 
290 A breach that craves a quick expedient stop!
 What counsel give you in this weighty cause?
YORK 
 That Somerset be sent as regent thither.
 ’Tis meet that lucky ruler be employed—
 Witness the fortune he hath had in France.
SOMERSET, advancing 
295 If York, with all his far-fet policy,
 Had been the regent there instead of me,
 He never would have stayed in France so long.
YORK 
 No, not to lose it all, as thou hast done.
 I rather would have lost my life betimes
300 Than bring a burden of dishonor home
 By staying there so long till all were lost.
 Show me one scar charactered on thy skin.
 Men’s flesh preserved so whole do seldom win.
QUEEN MARGARET 
 Nay, then, this spark will prove a raging fire
305 If wind and fuel be brought to feed it with.—
 No more, good York.—Sweet Somerset, be still.—
 Thy fortune, York, hadst thou been regent there,
 Might happily have proved far worse than his.
YORK 
 What, worse than naught? Nay, then, a shame take
310 all!
SOMERSET 
 And, in the number, thee that wishest shame!
CARDINAL 
 My lord of York, try what your fortune is.
 Th’ uncivil kerns of Ireland are in arms
 And temper clay with blood of Englishmen.

123
Henry VI, Part 2
ACT 3. SC. 1

315 To Ireland will you lead a band of men,
 Collected choicely, from each county some,
 And try your hap against the Irishmen?
YORK 
 I will, my lord, so please his Majesty.
SUFFOLK 
 Why, our authority is his consent,
320 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.
SUFFOLK 
 A charge, Lord York, that I will see performed.
325 But now return we to the false Duke Humphrey.
CARDINAL 
 No more of him, for I will deal with him,
 That henceforth he shall trouble us no more.
 And so break off; the day is almost spent.
 Lord Suffolk, you and I must talk of that event.
YORK 
330 My lord of Suffolk, within fourteen days
 At Bristow I expect my soldiers,
 For there I’ll ship them all for Ireland.
SUFFOLK 
 I’ll see it truly done, my lord of York.
All but York exit.
YORK 
 Now, York, or never, steel thy fearful thoughts
335 And change misdoubt to resolution.
 Be that thou hop’st to be, or what thou art
 Resign to death; it is not worth th’ enjoying.
 Let pale-faced fear keep with the mean-born man
 And find no harbor in a royal heart.
340 Faster than springtime showers comes thought on
 thought,

125
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ACT 3. SC. 1

 And not a thought but thinks on dignity.
 My brain, more busy than the laboring spider,
 Weaves tedious snares to trap mine enemies.
345 Well, nobles, well, ’tis politicly done
 To send me packing with an host of men.
 I fear me you but warm the starvèd snake,
 Who, cherished in your breasts, will sting your
 hearts.
350 ’Twas men I lacked, and you will give them me;
 I take it kindly. Yet be well assured
 You put sharp weapons in a madman’s hands.
 Whiles I in Ireland nourish a mighty band,
 I will stir up in England some black storm
355 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,
 Like to the glorious sun’s transparent beams,
 Do calm the fury of this mad-bred flaw.
360 And for a minister of my intent,
 I have seduced a headstrong Kentishman,
 John Cade of Ashford,
 To make commotion, as full well he can,
 Under the title of John Mortimer.
365 In Ireland have I seen this stubborn Cade
 Oppose himself against a troop of kerns,
 And fought so long till that his thighs with darts
 Were almost like a sharp-quilled porpentine;
 And in the end being rescued, I have seen
370 Him caper upright like a wild Morisco,
 Shaking the bloody darts as he his bells.
 Full often, like a shag-haired crafty kern,
 Hath he conversèd with the enemy,
 And undiscovered come to me again
375 And given me notice of their villainies.
 This devil here shall be my substitute;
 For that John Mortimer, which now is dead,

127
Henry VI, Part 2
ACT 3. SC. 2

 In face, in gait, in speech he doth resemble.
 By this, I shall perceive the Commons’ mind,
380 How they affect the house and claim of York.
 Say he be taken, racked, and torturèd,
 I know no pain they can inflict upon him
 Will make him say I moved him to those arms.
 Say that he thrive, as ’tis great like he will,
385 Why then from Ireland come I with my strength
 And reap the harvest which that rascal sowed.
 For, Humphrey being dead, as he shall be,
 And Henry put apart, the next for me.
He exits.