Where your brave father breath'd his latest gasp,
Tidings, as swiftly as the posts could run,
Were brought me of your loss and his depart.
I, then in London, keeper of the king,
Muster'd my soldiers, gather'd flocks of friends,
And very well appointed, as I thought, (46)
March'd toward Saint Alban's t' intercept the queen,
Bearing the king in my behalf along;
For by my scouts I was advertised
That she was coming with a full intent
To dash our late decree in parliament
Touching King Henry's oath and your succession.
Short tale to make,—we at Saint Alban's met,
Our battles join'd, and both sides fiercely fought:
But whether 'twas the coldness of the king,
Who look'd full gently on his warlike queen,
That robb’d my soldiers of their heated spleen ;
Or whether 'twas report of her success;
Or more than common fear of Clifford's rigour,
Who thunders to his captives, “Blood and death,”
I cannot judge: but, to conclude with truth,
Their weapons like to lightning came and went;
Our soldiers'—like the night-owl's lazy flight,
Or like an idle(47) thrasher with a flail-
Fell gently down, as if they struck their friends.
I cheer'd them up with justice of our cause,
With promise of high pay and great rewards :
But all in vain; they had no heart to fight,
And we, in them, no hope to win the day;
So that we fled; the king unto the queen;
Lord George your brother, Norfolk, and myself,
In haste, post-haste, are come to join with you;
For in the marches here we heard you were
Making another head to fight again.

Edw. Where is the Duke of Norfolk, gentle Warwick ? And when came George from Burgundy to England ?

War. Some six miles off the duke is with his power; And for your brother, he was lately sent From your kind aunt, Duchess of Burgundy, With aid of soldierg(48) to this needful war.

Rich. 'Twas odds, belike, when valiant Warwick fled : Oft have I heard his praises in pursuit, But ne'er till now his scandal of retire.

War. Nor now my scandal, Richard, dost thou hear; For thou shalt know this strong right hand of mine Can pluck the diadem from faint Henry's head, And wring the awful sceptre from his fist, Were he as famous and as bold in war As he is fam'd for mildness, peace, and prayer.

Rich. I know it well, Lord' Warwick; blame me not: 'Tis love I bear thy glories makes(49) me speak. But in this troublous time what's to be done ? Shall we go throw away our coats of steel, And wrap our bodies in black mourning-gowns, Numbering our Ave-Maries with our beads ? Or shall we on the helmets of our foes Tell our devotion with revengeful arms ? If for the last, say “Ay," and to it, lords.

War. Why, therefore Warwick came to seek you out; And therefore comes my brother Montague. Attend me, lords. The proud insulting queen, With Clifford and the haught Northumberland, And of their feather many more proud birds, Have wrought the easy-melting king like wax. He swore consent to your succession, His oath enrolled in the parliament; And now to London all the crew are gone, To frustrate both his oath, and what beside May make against the house of Lancaster. Their power, I think, is thirty thousand strong : Now, if the help of Norfolk and myself, With all the friends that thou, brave Earl of March, Amongst the loving Welshmen canst procure, Will but amount to five-and-twenty thousand, (50) Why, Via! to London will we march amain :(51) And once again bestride our foaming steeds, And once again cry, “Charge! upon our foes !" But never once again turn back and fly.

Rich. Ay, now methinks I hear great Warwick speak : Ne'er may be live to see a sunshine day,

[ocr errors]

That cries, "Retire," if Warwick bid him stay.

Edw. Lord Warwick, on thy shoulder will I lean;
And when thou fall'st, (52) — -as God forbid the hour !-
Must Edward fall, which peril heaven forfend!

War. No longer Earl of March, but Duke of York:
The next degree is England's royal throne ;(63)
For King of England shalt thou be proclaim'd
In every borough as we pass along;
And he that throws not up his cap for joy,
Shall for the fault make forfeit of his head.
King Edward, -valiant Richard,—Montague,-
Stay we no longer, dreaming of renown,
But sound the trumpets, and about our task.

Rich. Then, Clifford, were thy heart as hard as steel,
As thou hast shown it flinty by thy deeds,
I come to pierce it, or to give thee mine.
Edw. Then strike up drums:- God and Saint George

for us!

Enter a Messenger.
War. How now! what news ?

Mess. The Duke of Norfolk sends you word by me
The queen is coming with a puissant host,
And craves your company for speedy counsel.
War. Why, then it sorts, brave warriors: let's away.


SCENE II. Before York. Flourish. Enter King HENRY, Queen MARGARET, the Prince of


Q. Mar. Welcome, my lord, to this brave town of York. Yonder's the head of that arch-enemy That sought to be encompass'd with your crown: Doth not the object cheer your heart, my lord ? K. Hen. Ay, as the rocks cheer them that fear their

wreck :To see this sight, it irks my very soul.



Withhold revenge, dear God ! 'tis not my fault,
Nor wittingly(54) have I infring'd my vow.

Clif. My gracious liege, this too much lenity
And harmful pity must be laid aside.
To whom do lions cast their gentle looks ?
Not to the beast that would usurp their den.
Whose hand is that the forest bear doth lick ?
Not his that spoils her young before her face.
Who scapes the lurking serpent's mortal sting?
Not he that sets his foot upon her back.
The smallest worm will turn being trodden on,
And doves will peck in safeguard of their brood.
Ambitious York did level at thy crown,
Thou smiling while he knit his angry brows:
He, but a duke, would have his son a king,
And raise his issue, like a loving sire;
Thou, being a king, bless’d with a goodly son,
Didst yield consent to disinherit him,
Which argu'd thee a most unloving father.
Unreasonable creatures feed their young;
And though man's face be fearful to their eyes,
Yet, in protection of their tender ones,
Who hath not seen them, even with those wings
Which sometime they have us'd in (55) fearful flight,
Make war with him that climb'd unto their nest,
Offering their own lives in their young's defence ?
For shame, my liege, make them your precedent!
Were it not pity that this goodly boy
Should lose his birthright by his father's fault,
And long hereafter say unto his child,
“What my great-grandfather and grandsire got
My careless father fondly gave away" ?
Ah, what a shame were this! Look on the boy;
And let his manly face, which promiseth
Successful fortune, steel thy melting heart
To hold thine own, and leave thine own with him.

K. Hen. Full well hath Clifford play'd the orator, Inferring arguments of mighty force. But, Clifford, tell me, didst thou never hear That things ill-got had ever bad success ?

And happy always was it for that son
Whose father for his hoarding went to hell ?
I'll leave my son my virtuous deeds behind ;
And would my father had left me no more !
For all the rest is held at such a rate
As brings a thousand-fold more care to keep
Than in possession any jot of pleasure.-
Ah, cousin York! would thy best friends did know
How it doth grieve me that thy head is here!
Q. Mar. My lord, cheer up your spirits : our foes are

And this soft courage makes your followers faint. (56)
You promis'd knighthood to our forward son:
Unsheathe your sword, and dub him presently.-
Edward, kneel down.

K. Hen. Edward Plantagenet, arise a knight;
And learn this lesson,-draw thy sword in right.

Prince. My gracious father, by your kingly leave,
I'll draw it as apparent to the crown,
And in that quarrel use it to the death.
Clif. Why, that is spoken like a toward prince.

Enter a Messenger.
Mess. Royal commanders, be in readiness:
For with a band of thirty thousand(7) men
Comes Warwick, backing of the Duke of York;
And in the towns, as they do march along,
Proclaims him king, and many fly to him:
Darraign your battle, for they are at hand.

Clif. I would your highness would depart the field :

queen hath best success when you are absent.
Q. Mar. Ay, good my lord, and leave us to our fortune.
K. Hen. Why, that's my fortune too; therefore I'll stay.
North. Be it with resolution, then, to fight.

Prince. My royal father, cheer these noble lords,
And hearten those that fight in your defence :
Unsheathe your sword, good father; cry, " Saint George!"

« VorigeDoorgaan »