ACT I
Scene I.
 

London. The Parliament House

Alarum. Enter DUKE OF YORK, EDWARD, RICHARD, NORFOLK, MONTAGUE, WARWICK, and soldiers, with white roses in their hats

WARWICK
I wonder how the King escap'd our hands.

YORK
While we pursu'd the horsemen of the north,
He slily stole away and left his men;
Whereat the great Lord of Northumberland,
Whose warlike ears could never brook retreat,
Cheer'd up the drooping army, and himself,
Lord Clifford, and Lord Stafford, all abreast,
Charg'd our main battle's front, and, breaking in,
Were by the swords of common soldiers slain.

EDWARD
Lord Stafford's father, Duke of Buckingham,
Is either slain or wounded dangerous;
I cleft his beaver with a downright blow.
That this is true, father, behold his blood.

MONTAGUE
And, brother, here's the Earl of Wiltshire's blood,
Whom I encount'red as the battles join'd.

RICHARD
Speak thou for me, and tell them what I did.

[Throwing down SOMERSET'S head]

YORK
Richard hath best deserv'd of all my sons.
But is your Grace dead, my Lord of Somerset?

NORFOLK
Such hope have all the line of John of Gaunt!

RICHARD
Thus do I hope to shake King Henry's head.

WARWICK
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.

NORFOLK
We'll all assist you; he that flies shall die.

YORK
Thanks, gentle Norfolk. Stay by me, my lords;
And, soldiers, stay and lodge by me this night.

[They go up]

WARWICK
And when the King comes, offer him no violence.
Unless he seek to thrust you out perforce.

YORK
The Queen this day here holds her parliament,
But little thinks we shall be of her council.
By words or blows here let us win our right.

RICHARD
Arm'd as we are, let's stay within this house.

WARWICK
The bloody parliament shall this be call'd,
Unless Plantagenet, Duke of York, be King,
And bashful Henry depos'd, whose cowardice
Hath made us by-words to our enemies.

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

WARWICK
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.
I'll plant Plantagenet, root him up who dares.
Resolve thee, Richard; claim the English crown.

[YORK occupies the throne]

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

KING HENRY
My lords, look where the sturdy rebel sits,
Even in the chair of state! Belike he means,
Back'd 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 vow'd revenge
On him, his sons, his favourites, and his friends.

NORTHUMBERLAND
If I be not, heavens be reveng'd on me!

CLIFFORD
The hope thereof makes Clifford mourn in steel.

WESTMORELAND
What, shall we suffer this? Let's pluck him down;
My heart for anger burns; I cannot brook it.

KING HENRY
Be patient, gentle Earl of Westmoreland.

CLIFFORD
Patience is for poltroons such as he;
He durst not sit there had your father liv'd.
My gracious lord, here in the parliament
Let us assail the family of York.

NORTHUMBERLAND
Well hast thou spoken, cousin; be it so.

KING HENRY
Ah, know you not the city favours them,
And they have troops of soldiers at their beck?

EXETER
But when the Duke is slain they'll quickly fly.

KING HENRY
Far be the thought of this from Henry's heart,
To make a shambles of the parliament house!
Cousin of Exeter, frowns, words, and threats,
Shall be the war that Henry means to use.
Thou factious Duke of York, descend my throne
And kneel for grace and mercy at my feet;
I am thy sovereign.

YORK
I am thine.

EXETER
For shame, come down; he made thee Duke of York.

YORK
'Twas my inheritance, as the earldom was.

EXETER
Thy father was a traitor to the crown.

WARWICK
Exeter, thou art a traitor to the crown
In following this usurping Henry.

CLIFFORD
Whom should he follow but his natural king?

WARWICK
True, Clifford; and that's Richard Duke of York.

KING HENRY
And shall I stand, and thou sit in my throne?

YORK
It must and shall be so; content thyself.

WARWICK
Be Duke of Lancaster; let him be King.

WESTMORELAND
He is both King and Duke of Lancaster;
And that the Lord of Westmoreland shall maintain.

WARWICK
And Warwick shall disprove it. You forget
That we are those which chas'd you from the field,
And slew your fathers, and with colours spread
March'd through the city to the palace gates.

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

WESTMORELAND
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.

CLIFFORD
Urge it no more; lest that instead of words
I send thee, Warwick, such a messenger
As shall revenge his death before I stir.

WARWICK
Poor Clifford, how I scorn his worthless threats!

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

KING HENRY
What title hast thou, traitor, to the crown?
Thy father was, as thou art, Duke of York;
Thy grandfather, Roger Mortimer, Earl of March:
I am the son of Henry the Fifth,
Who made the Dauphin and the French to stoop,
And seiz'd upon their towns and provinces.

WARWICK
Talk not of France, sith thou hast lost it all.

KING HENRY
The Lord Protector lost it, and not I:
When I was crown'd, I was but nine months old.

RICHARD
You are old enough now, and yet methinks you lose.
Father, tear the crown from the usurper's head.

EDWARD
Sweet father, do so; set it on your head.

MONTAGUE
Good brother, as thou lov'st and honourest arms,
Let's fight it out and not stand cavilling thus.

RICHARD
Sound drums and trumpets, and the King will fly.

YORK
Sons, peace!

KING HENRY
Peace thou! and give King Henry leave to speak.

WARWICK
Plantagenet shall speak first. Hear him, lords;
And be you silent and attentive too,
For he that interrupts him shall not live.

KING HENRY
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;
Ay, and their colours, often borne in France,
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.

WARWICK
Prove it, Henry, and thou shalt be King.

KING HENRY
Henry the Fourth by conquest got the crown.

YORK
'Twas by rebellion against his king.

KING HENRY
[Aside] I know not what to say; my title's weak.-
Tell me, may not a king adopt an heir?

YORK
What then?

KING HENRY
An if he may, then am I lawful King;
For Richard, in the view of many lords,
Resign'd 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.

WARWICK
Suppose, my lords, he did it unconstrain'd,
Think you 'twere prejudicial to his crown?

EXETER
No; for he could not so resign his crown
But that the next heir should succeed and reign.

KING HENRY
Art thou against us, Duke of Exeter?

EXETER
His is the right, and therefore pardon me.

YORK
Why whisper you, my lords, and answer not?

EXETER
My conscience tells me he is lawful King.

KING HENRY
[Aside] All will revolt from me, and turn to him.

NORTHUMBERLAND
Plantagenet, for all the claim thou lay'st,
Think not that Henry shall be so depos'd.

WARWICK
Depos'd he shall be, in despite of all.

NORTHUMBERLAND
Thou art deceiv'd. 'Tis not thy southern power
Of Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, nor of Kent,
Which makes thee thus presumptuous and proud,
Can set the Duke up in despite of me.

CLIFFORD
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!

KING HENRY
O Clifford, how thy words revive my heart!

YORK
Henry of Lancaster, resign thy crown.
What mutter you, or what conspire you, lords?

WARWICK
Do right unto this princely Duke of York;
Or I will fill the house with armed men,
And over the chair of state, where now he sits,
Write up his title with usurping blood.

[He stamps with his foot and the soldiers show themselves]

KING HENRY
My Lord of Warwick, hear but one word:
Let me for this my life-time reign as king.

YORK
Confirm the crown to me and to mine heirs,
And thou shalt reign in quiet while thou liv'st.

KING HENRY
I am content. Richard Plantagenet,
Enjoy the kingdom after my decease.

CLIFFORD
What wrong is this unto the Prince your son!

WARWICK
What good is this to England and himself!

WESTMORELAND
Base, fearful, and despairing Henry!

CLIFFORD
How hast thou injur'd both thyself and or us!

WESTMORELAND
I cannot stay to hear these articles.

NORTHUMBERLAND
Nor I.

CLIFFORD
Come, cousin, let us tell the Queen these news.

WESTMORELAND
Farewell, faint-hearted and degenerate king,
In whose cold blood no spark of honour bides.

NORTHUMBERLAND
Be thou a prey unto the house of York
And die in bands for this unmanly deed!

CLIFFORD
In dreadful war mayst thou be overcome,
Or live in peace abandon'd and despis'd!

Exeunt NORTHUMBERLAND, CLIFFORD, and WESTMORELAND

WARWICK
Turn this way, Henry, and regard them not.

EXETER
They seek revenge, and therefore will not yield.

KING HENRY
Ah, Exeter!

WARWICK
Why should you sigh, my lord?

KING HENRY
Not for myself, Lord Warwick, but my son,
Whom I unnaturally shall disinherit.
But be it as it may. [To YORK] I here entail
The crown to thee and to thine heirs for ever;
Conditionally, that here thou take an oath
To cease this civil war, and, whilst I live,
To honour me as thy king and sovereign,
And neither by treason nor hostility
To seek to put me down and reign thyself.

YORK
This oath I willingly take, and will perform.

[Coming from the throne]

WARWICK
Long live King Henry! Plantagenet, embrace him.

KING HENRY
And long live thou, and these thy forward sons!

YORK
Now York and Lancaster are reconcil'd.

EXETER
Accurs'd be he that seeks to make them foes!

[Sennet. Here they come down]

YORK
Farewell, my gracious lord; I'll to my castle.

WARWICK
And I'll keep London with my soldiers.

NORFOLK
And I to Norfolk with my followers.

MONTAGUE
And I unto the sea, from whence I came.

Exeunt the YORKISTS

KING HENRY
And I, with grief and sorrow, to the court.

Enter QUEEN MARGARET and the PRINCE OF WALES

EXETER
Here comes the Queen, whose looks bewray her anger.
I'll steal away.

KING HENRY
Exeter, so will I.

QUEEN MARGARET
Nay, go not from me; I will follow thee.

KING HENRY
Be patient, gentle queen, and I will stay.

QUEEN MARGARET
Who can be patient in such extremes?
Ah, wretched man! Would I had died a maid,
And never seen thee, never borne thee son,
Seeing thou hast prov'd so unnatural a father!
Hath he deserv'd to lose his birthright thus?
Hadst thou but lov'd him half so well as I,
Or felt that pain which I did for him once,
Or nourish'd him as I did with my blood,
Thou wouldst have left thy dearest heart-blood there
Rather than have made that savage duke thine heir,
And disinherited thine only son.

PRINCE OF WALES
Father, you cannot disinherit me.
If you be King, why should not I succeed?

KING HENRY
Pardon me, Margaret; pardon me, sweet son.
The Earl of Warwick and the Duke enforc'd me.

QUEEN MARGARET
Enforc'd thee! Art thou King and wilt be
forc'd?
I shame to hear thee speak. Ah, timorous wretch!
Thou hast undone thyself, thy son, and me;
And giv'n unto the house of York such head
As thou shalt reign but by their sufferance.
To entail him and his heirs unto the crown,
What is it but to make thy sepulchre
And creep into it far before thy time?
Warwick is Chancellor and the lord of Calais;
Stern Falconbridge commands the narrow seas;
The Duke is made Protector of the realm;
And yet shalt thou be safe? Such safety finds
The trembling lamb environed with wolves.
Had I been there, which am a silly woman,
The soldiers should have toss'd me on their pikes
Before I would have granted to that act.
But thou prefer'st thy life before thine honour;
And seeing thou dost, I here divorce myself,
Both from thy table, Henry, and thy bed,
Until that act of parliament be repeal'd
Whereby my son is disinherited.
The northern lords that have forsworn thy colours
Will follow mine, if once they see them spread;
And spread they shall be, to thy foul disgrace
And utter ruin of the house of York.
Thus do I leave thee. Come, son, let's away;
Our army is ready; come, we'll after them.

KING HENRY
Stay, gentle Margaret, and hear me speak.

QUEEN MARGARET
Thou hast spoke too much already; get thee gone.

KING HENRY
Gentle son Edward, thou wilt stay with me?

QUEEN MARGARET
Ay, to be murder'd by his enemies.

PRINCE OF WALES
When I return with victory from the field
I'll see your Grace; till then I'll follow her.

QUEEN MARGARET
Come, son, away; we may not linger thus.

Exeunt QUEEN MARGARET and the PRINCE

KING HENRY
Poor queen! How love to me and to her son
Hath made her break out into terms of rage!
Reveng'd may she be on that hateful Duke,
Whose haughty spirit, winged with desire,
Will cost my crown, and like an empty eagle
Tire on the flesh of me and of my son!
The loss of those three lords torments my heart.
I'll write unto them, and entreat them fair;
Come, cousin, you shall be the messenger.

EXETER
And I, I hope, shall reconcile them all.

Exeunt