Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > 1 King Henry VI.
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
The First Part of King Henry the Sixth
 
Act III. Scene I.
 
London.  The Parliament House.
 
Flourish.  Enter KING HENRY, EXETER, GLOUCESTER, WARWICK, SOMERSET, and SUFFOLK; the BISHOP OF WINCHESTER, RICHARD PLANTAGENET, and Others.  GLOUCESTER offers to put up a bill; WINCHESTER snatches it, and tears it.
  Win.  Com’st thou with deep premeditated lines,
With written pamphlets studiously devis’d,
Humphrey of Gloucester? If thou canst accuse,        5
Or aught intend’st to lay unto my charge,
Do it without invention, suddenly;
As I, with sudden and extemporal speech
Purpose to answer what thou canst object.
  Glo.  Presumptuous priest! this place commands my patience        10
Or thou shouldst find thou hast dishonour’d me.
Think not, although in writing I preferr’d
The manner of thy vile outrageous crimes,
That therefore I have forg’d, or am not able
Verbatim to rehearse the method of my pen:        15
No, prelate; such is thy audacious wickedness,
Thy lewd, pestiferous, and dissentious pranks,
As very infants prattle of thy pride.
Thou art a most pernicious usurer,
Froward by nature, enemy to peace;        20
Lascivious, wanton, more than well beseems
A man of thy profession and degree;
And for thy treachery, what’s more manifest?
In that thou laid’st a trap to take my life
As well at London Bridge as at the Tower.        25
Beside, I fear me, if thy thoughts were sifted,
The king, thy sov’reign, is not quite exempt
From envious malice of thy swelling heart.
  Win.  Gloucester, I do defy thee. Lords, vouchsafe
To give me hearing what I shall reply.        30
If I were covetous, ambitious, or perverse,
As he will have me, how am I so poor?
Or how haps it I seek not to advance
Or raise myself, but keep my wonted calling?
And for dissension, who preferreth peace        35
More than I do, except I be provok’d?
No, my good lords, it is not that offends;
It is not that that hath incens’d the duke:
It is, because no one should sway but he;
No one but he should be about the king;        40
And that engenders thunder in his breast,
And makes him roar these accusations forth.
But he shall know I am as good—
  Glo.        As good!
Thou bastard of my grandfather!        45
  Win.  Ay, lordly sir; for what are you, I pray,
But one imperious in another’s throne?
  Glo.  Am I not protector, saucy priest?
  Win.  And am not I a prelate of the church?
  Glo.  Yes, as an outlaw in a castle keeps,        50
And useth it to patronage his theft.
  Win.  Unreverent Gloucester!
  Glo.        Thou art reverent,
Touching thy spiritual function, not thy life.
  Win.  Rome shall remedy this.        55
  War.        Roam thither then.
  Som.  My lord, it were your duty to forbear.
  War.  Ay, see the bishop be not overborne.
  Som.  Methinks my lord should be religious,
And know the office that belongs to such.        60
  War.  Methinks his lordship should be humbler;
It fitteth not a prelate so to plead.
  Som.  Yes, when his holy state is touch’d so near.
  War.  State holy, or unhallow’d, what of that?
Is not his Grace protector to the king?        65
  Plan.  [Aside.]  Plantagenet, I see, must hold his tongue,
Lest it be said, ‘Speak, sirrah, when you should;
Must your bold verdict enter talk with lords?’
Else would I have a fling at Winchester.
  K. Hen.  Uncles of Gloucester and of Winchester,        70
The special watchmen of our English weal,
I would prevail, if prayers might prevail,
To join your hearts in love and amity.
O! what a scandal is it to our crown,
That two such noble peers as ye should jar.        75
Believe me, lords, my tender years can tell
Civil dissension is a viperous worm,
That gnaws the bowels of the commonwealth.  [A noise within; ‘Down with the tawny coats!’
What tumult’s this?
  War.        An uproar, I dare warrant,        80
Begun through malice of the bishop’s men.  [A noise again within; ‘Stones! Stones!’
 
Enter the Mayor of London, attended.
  May.  O, my good lords, and virtuous Henry,
Pity the city of London, pity us!
The bishop and the Duke of Gloucester’s men,        85
Forbidden late to carry any weapon,
Have fill’d their pockets full of pebble stones,
And banding themselves in contrary parts
Do pelt so fast at one another’s pate,
That many have their giddy brains knock’d out:        90
Our windows are broke down in every street,
And we for fear compell’d to shut our shops.
 
Enter, skirmishing, the Serving-men of GLOUCESTER and WINCHESTER, with bloody pates.
  K. Hen.  We charge you, on allegiance to ourself,
To hold your slaught’ring hands, and keep the peace.—        95
Pray, uncle Gloucester, mitigate this strife.
  First Serv.  Nay, if we be forbidden stones, we’ll fall to it with our teeth.
  Sec. Serv.  Do what ye dare, we are as resolute.  [Skirmish again.
  Glo.  You of my household, leave this peevish broil,
And set this unaccustom’d fight aside.        100
  Third Serv.  My lord, we know your Grace to be a man
Just and upright, and, for your royal birth,
Inferior to none but to his majesty;
And ere that we will suffer such a prince,
So kind a father of the commonweal,        105
To be disgraced by an inkhorn mate,
We and our wives and children all will fight,
And have our bodies slaught’red by thy foes.
  First Serv.  Ay, and the very parings of our nails
Shall pitch a field when we are dead.  [Skirmish again.        110
  Glo.        Stay, stay, I say!
And, if you love me, as you say you do,
Let me persuade you to forbear a while.
  K. Hen.  O! how this discord doth afflict my soul!
Can you, my Lord of Winchester, behold        115
My sighs and tears and will not once relent?
Who should be pitiful if you be not?
Or who should study to prefer a peace
If holy churchmen take delight in broils?
  War.  Yield, my Lord Protector; yield, Winchester;        120
Except you mean with obstinate repulse
To slay your sov’reign and destroy the realm.
You see what mischief and what murder too
Hath been enacted through your enmity:
Then be at peace, except ye thirst for blood.        125
  Win.  He shall submit or I will never yield.
  Glo.  Compassion on the king commands me stoop;
Or I would see his heart out ere the priest
Should ever get that privilege of me.
  War.  Behold, my Lord of Winchester, the duke        130
Hath banish’d moody discontented fury,
As by his smoothed brows it doth appear:
Why look you still so stern and tragical?
  Glo.  Here, Winchester, I offer thee my hand.
  K. Hen.  Fie, uncle Beaufort! I have heard you preach,        135
That malice was a great and grievous sin;
And will not you maintain the thing you teach,
But prove a chief offender in the same?
  War.  Sweet king! the bishop hath a kindly gird.
For shame, my Lord of Winchester, relent!        140
What! shall a child instruct you what to do?
  Win.  Well, Duke of Gloucester, I will yield to thee;
Love for thy love and hand for hand I give.
  Glo.  [Aside.]  Ay; but I fear me, with a hollow heart.
See here, my friends and loving countrymen,        145
This token serveth for a flag of truce,
Betwixt ourselves and all our followers.
So help me God, as I dissemble not!
  Win.  [Aside.]  So help me God, as I intend it not!
  K. Hen.  O loving uncle, kind Duke of Gloucester,        150
How joyful am I made by this contract!
Away, my masters! trouble us no more;
But join in friendship, as your lords have done.
  First Serv.  Content: I’ll to the surgeon’s.
  Sec. Serv.        And so will I.        155
  Third Serv.  And I will see what physic the tavern affords.  [Exeunt Mayor, Serving-men, &c.
  War.  Accept this scroll, most gracious sovereign,
Which in the right of Richard Plantagenet
We do exhibit to your majesty.
  Glo.  Well urg’d, my Lord of Warwick: for, sweet prince,        160
An if your Grace mark every circumstance,
You have great reason to do Richard right;
Especially for those occasions
At Eltham-place I told your majesty.
  K. Hen.  And those occasions, uncle, were of force:        165
Therefore, my loving lords, our pleasure is
That Richard be restored to his blood.
  War.  Let Richard be restored to his blood;
So shall his father’s wrongs be recompens’d.
  Win.  As will the rest, so willeth Winchester.        170
  K. Hen.  If Richard will be true, not that alone,
But all the whole inheritance I give
That doth belong unto the house of York,
From whence you spring by lineal descent.
  Plan.  Thy humble servant vows obedience,        175
And humble service till the point of death.
  K. Hen.  Stoop then and set your knee against my foot;
And, in reguerdon of that duty done,
I girt thee with the valiant sword of York:
Rise, Richard, like a true Plantagenet,        180
And rise created princely Duke of York.
  Plan.  And so thrive Richard as thy foes may fall!
And as my duty springs, so perish they
That grudge one thought against your majesty!
  All.  Welcome, high prince, the mighty Duke of York!        185
  Som.  [Aside.]  Perish, base prince, ignoble Duke of York!
  Glo.  Now, will it best avail your majesty
To cross the seas and to be crown’d in France.
The presence of a king engenders love
Amongst his subjects and his loyal friends,        190
As it disanimates his enemies.
  K. Hen.  When Gloucester says the word, King Henry goes;
For friendly counsel cuts off many foes.
  Glo.  Your ships already are in readiness.  [Flourish.  Exeunt all except EXETER.
  Exe.  Ay, we may march in England or in France,        195
Not seeing what is likely to ensue.
This late dissension grown betwixt the peers
Burns under feigned ashes of forg’d love,
And will at last break out into a flame:
As fester’d members rot but by degree,        200
Till bones and flesh and sinews fall away,
So will this base and envious discord breed.
And now I fear that fatal prophecy
Which in the time of Henry, nam’d the Fifth,
Was in the mouth of every sucking babe;        205
That Henry born at Monmouth should win all;
And Henry born at Windsor should lose all:
Which is so plain that Exeter doth wish
His days may finish ere that hapless time.  [Exit.
 
 
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