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King Henry VI, Part 3: Act 2 Scene 6
Scene VI Another part of the field.
- [A loud alarum. Enter CLIFFORD, wounded]
- Here burns my candle out; ay, here it dies,
- Which, whiles it lasted, gave King Henry light.
- O Lancaster, I fear thy overthrow
- More than my body's parting with my soul!
- My love and fear glued many friends to thee;
- And, now I fall, thy tough commixture melts.
- Impairing Henry, strengthening misproud York,
- The common people swarm like summer flies;
- And whither fly the gnats but to the sun?
- And who shines now but Henry's enemies?
- O Phoebus, hadst thou never given consent
- That Phaethon should cheque thy fiery steeds,
- Thy burning car never had scorch'd the earth!
- And, Henry, hadst thou sway'd as kings should do,
- Or as thy father and his father did,
- Giving no ground unto the house of York,
- They never then had sprung like summer flies;
- I and ten thousand in this luckless realm
- Had left no mourning widows for our death;
- And thou this day hadst kept thy chair in peace.
- For what doth cherish weeds but gentle air?
- And what makes robbers bold but too much lenity?
- Bootless are plaints, and cureless are my wounds;
- No way to fly, nor strength to hold out flight:
- The foe is merciless, and will not pity;
- For at their hands I have deserved no pity.
- The air hath got into my deadly wounds,
- And much effuse of blood doth make me faint.
- Come, York and Richard, Warwick and the rest;
- I stabb'd your fathers' bosoms, split my breast.
- [He faints]
- [Alarum and retreat. Enter EDWARD, GEORGE, RICHARD,
- MONTAGUE, WARWICK, and Soldiers]
- Now breathe we, lords: good fortune bids us pause,
- And smooth the frowns of war with peaceful looks.
- Some troops pursue the bloody-minded queen,
- That led calm Henry, though he were a king,
- As doth a sail, fill'd with a fretting gust,
- Command an argosy to stem the waves.
- But think you, lords, that Clifford fled with them?
- No, 'tis impossible he should escape,
- For, though before his face I speak the words
- Your brother Richard mark'd him for the grave:
- And wheresoe'er he is, he's surely dead.
- [CLIFFORD groans, and dies]
- Whose soul is that which takes her heavy leave?
- A deadly groan, like life and death's departing.
- See who it is: and, now the battle's ended,
- If friend or foe, let him be gently used.
- Revoke that doom of mercy, for 'tis Clifford;
- Who not contented that he lopp'd the branch
- In hewing Rutland when his leaves put forth,
- But set his murdering knife unto the root
- From whence that tender spray did sweetly spring,
- I mean our princely father, Duke of York.
- From off the gates of York fetch down the head,
- Your father's head, which Clifford placed there;
- Instead whereof let this supply the room:
- Measure for measure must be answered.
- Bring forth that fatal screech-owl to our house,
- That nothing sung but death to us and ours:
- Now death shall stop his dismal threatening sound,
- And his ill-boding tongue no more shall speak.
- I think his understanding is bereft.
- Speak, Clifford, dost thou know who speaks to thee?
- Dark cloudy death o'ershades his beams of life,
- And he nor sees nor hears us what we say.
- O, would he did! and so perhaps he doth:
- 'Tis but his policy to counterfeit,
- Because he would avoid such bitter taunts
- Which in the time of death he gave our father.
- If so thou think'st, vex him with eager words.
- Clifford, ask mercy and obtain no grace.
- Clifford, repent in bootless penitence.
- Clifford, devise excuses for thy faults.
- While we devise fell tortures for thy faults.
- Thou didst love York, and I am son to York.
- Thou pitied'st Rutland; I will pity thee.
- Where's Captain Margaret, to fence you now?
- They mock thee, Clifford: swear as thou wast wont.
- What, not an oath? nay, then the world goes hard
- When Clifford cannot spare his friends an oath.
- I know by that he's dead; and, by my soul,
- If this right hand would buy two hour's life,
- That I in all despite might rail at him,
- This hand should chop it off, and with the
- issuing blood
- Stifle the villain whose unstanched thirst
- York and young Rutland could not satisfy.
- Ay, but he's dead: off with the traitor's head,
- And rear it in the place your father's stands.
- And now to London with triumphant march,
- There to be crowned England's royal king:
- From whence shall Warwick cut the sea to France,
- And ask the Lady Bona for thy queen:
- So shalt thou sinew both these lands together;
- And, having France thy friend, thou shalt not dread
- The scatter'd foe that hopes to rise again;
- For though they cannot greatly sting to hurt,
- Yet look to have them buzz to offend thine ears.
- First will I see the coronation;
- And then to Brittany I'll cross the sea,
- To effect this marriage, so it please my lord.
- Even as thou wilt, sweet Warwick, let it be;
- For in thy shoulder do I build my seat,
- And never will I undertake the thing
- Wherein thy counsel and consent is wanting.
- Richard, I will create thee Duke of Gloucester,
- And George, of Clarence: Warwick, as ourself,
- Shall do and undo as him pleaseth best.
- Let me be Duke of Clarence, George of Gloucester;
- For Gloucester's dukedom is too ominous.
- Tut, that's a foolish observation:
- Richard, be Duke of Gloucester. Now to London,
- To see these honours in possession.