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It is unnecessary for us here to enter upon the disputed question as to whether Richard Duke of Gloster were the actual murderer of Henry VI. The following is Holinshed's account of this event:
"Poor King Henry VI., a little before deprived (as we have heard) of his realm and imperial crown, was now in the Tower spoiled of his life by Richard Duke of Gloster (as the constant fame ran), who, to the intent that his brother King Edward might reign in more surety, murdered the said King Henry with a dagger, although some writers of that time, favouring altogether the house of York, have recorded that, after he understood what losses had chanced to his friends, aud how not only his son
but also all other his chief partakers were dead and despatched, he took it so to heart, that of pure displeasure, indignation, and melancholy, he died the three-and-twentieth of May. The dead corpse, on the Ascension even (the 29th), was conveyed with bills and glaives pompously (if you will call that a funeral pomp) from the Tower to the church of St. Paul, and there laid on a bier, where it rested the space of one whole day, and, on the next day after, it was conveyed, without priest or clerk, torch or taper, singing or saying, unto the monastery of Chertsey, distant from London fifteen miles, and there was it first buried; but after, it was removed to Windsor, and there in a new vault newly inhumulate."
SECOND PART OF
OF THE TWO FAMOUS HOUSES OF
YORK AND LANCASTER,
TRAGEDY OF RICHARD DUKE OF YORK, AND THE GOOD KING
Rich. Thus do I hope to shape king Henry's head. War. 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 that fearful king, And that the regal chair: possess it, York, For this is thine, and not king Henry's heirs'.
York. Assist me then, sweet Warwick, and I will: For hither are we broken in by force.
Norf. We'll all assist thee, and he that flies shall die.
There with. In the unique edition of 1595, therewith. b It is evident that Richard here either points to the body of Somerset or throws down his head.
York. Thanks, gentle Norfolk. Stay by me, my lords;
And, soldiers, stay you here, and lodge this night.
Rich. Arm'd as we be, let's stay within this house.
York. Then leave me not, my lords: for now I mean To take possession of my right.
War. Neither the king,nor him that loves him best, The proudest bird that holds up Lancaster, Dares stir a wing, if Warwick shake his bells. I'll plant Plantagenet, and root him out who dares ! Resolve thee, Richard; claim the English crown.
Enter KING HENRY THE SIXTH, with the DUKE oF EXETER, the EARL OF NORTHUMBERLAND, the EARL OF WESTMORELAND, and CLIFFORD, the EARL OF CUMBERLAND, with red roses in their hats.
King. Look, lordings, 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, Clifford and you both have vow'd revenge,
On him, his sons, his favourites, and his friends. North. And if I be not, Heavens be reveng'd
North. Well hast thou spoken, cousin; be it so. King. O, know you not the city favours them, And they have troops of soldiers at their beck?
And that the earl of Westmoreland shall maintain. War. And Warwick shall disprove it. You forget That we are those that chas'd you from the field, And slew your father, and with colours spread March'd through the city to the palace gates.
North. No, Warwick, I remember it to my grief: And, by his soul, thou and thy house shall rue it. West. Plantagenet, of thee, and of thy sons, Thy kinsmen, and thy friends, I'll have more lives, Than drops of blood were in my father's veins.
Clif. Urge it no more, lest, in revenge thereof, I send thee, Warwick, such a messenger As shall revenge his death before I stir.
War. Poor Clifford, how I scorn thy worthless threats!
York. Will ye we show our title to the crown, Or else our swords shall plead it in the field?
King. What title hast thou, traitor, to the crown?
War. Talk not of France, since thou hast lost it all. King. The lord protector lost it, and not I; When I was crown'd I was but nine months old. Rich. You're old enough now, and yet methinks you lose :
Father, tear the crown from the usurper's head.
Edw. Do so, sweet father; set it on your head. Mont. Good brother, as thou lov'st and honour'st
War. Suppose, my lord, he did it unconstrain'd, Think you that were prejudicial to the crown?
Exet. No; for he could not so resign the crown But that the next heir must succeed and reign.
King. Art thou against us, duke of Exeter? Eret. His is the right, and therefore pardon me. King. All will revolt from me, and turn to him. North. Plantagenet, for all the claim thou lay'st, Think not king Henry shall be thus depos'd.
War. Depos'd he shall be, in despite of thee. North. Tush, Warwick, thou art deceiv'd: 'Tis not thy southern powers of Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk,
And of Kent, that makes thee thus presumptuous and proud,
Can set the duke up in despite of me.
Clif. 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 do kneel to him that slew my father.
King. O, Clifford, how thy words revive my soul ! York. Henry of Lancaster, resign thy crown. What mutter you, or what conspire you, lords?
War. 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,
York. Confirm the crown to me, and to mine heirs, And thou shall reign in quiet whilst thou liv'st. King. Convey the soldiers hence, and then I will. War. Captain, conduct them into Tuthill fields. Clif. What wrong is this unto the prince your son! War. What good is this for England and himself! North. Base, fearful, and despairing Henry! Clif. How hast thou wronged both thyself and us! West. I cannot stay to hear these articles. [Exit. Clif. Nor I. Come, cousin, let's go tell the queen. North. Be thou a prey unto the house of York, And die in bands for this unkingly deed. [Exit. Clif. In dreadful war mayst thou be overcome, Or live in peace, abandon'd and despis'd. [Exit. Exet. They seek revenge, and therefore will not yield, my lord.
King. Ah, Exeter !
War. Why should you sigh, my lord?
a Unkingly, in the quarto of 1595; afterwards changed to unkindly.
King. Not for myself, lord Warwick, but my son, Whom I unnaturally shall disinherit. But be it as it may. I here entail the crown To thee and to thine heirs, conditionally, That here thou take thine oath,
To cease these civil broils, and whilst I live
York. That oath Iwillingly take,and will perform. War. Long live king Henry! Plantagenet, embrace him.
King. And long live thou, and all thy forward
York. Now York and Lancaster are reconcil'd. Exet. Accurs'd be he that seeks to make them foes. [Sound trumpets. York. My lord, I'll take my leave, for I'll to Wakefield, To my castle. [Exeunt YORK and his Sons. War. And I'll keep London, with my soldiers. [Exit.
Norf. And I'll to Norfolk, with my followers. Mont. And I to the sea, from whence I came.
Enter the QUEEN and the PRINCE. Exet. My lord, here comes the queen: I'll steal
King. And so will I.
Queen. Nay, stay, or else I'll follow thee.
Thou hast undone thyself, thy son, and me,
King. Gentle son Edward, wilt thou stay with me? Queen. Ay, to be murther'd by his enemies. [Exit. Prince. When I return with victory from the field, I'll see your grace: till then I'll follow her. [Exit. King. Poor queen, her love to me and to the prince her son Makes her in fury thus forget herself. Revenged may she be on that accursed duke. Come, cousin of Exeter, stay thou here, For Clifford and those northern lords be gone, I fear towards Wakefield, to disturb the duke,
(SCENE II.) Enter EDWARD, and RICHARD, and MONTAGUE. Edw. Brother, and cousin Montague, give me leave to speak.
Rich. Nay, I can better play the orator.
Mont. But I have reasons strong and forcible. Enter the DUKE OF YORK.
York. How now, sons! what, at a jar amongst yourselves?
Rich. No, father, but a sweet contention, about that which concerns yourself and us: the crown of England, father.a
York. The crown, boy! Why, Henry's yet alive; And I have sworn that he shall reign in quiet Till his death.
Edw. But I would break an hundred oaths to reign one year.
Rich. An if it please your grace to give me leave, I'll show your grace the way to save your oath, And dispossess king Henry from the crown.
York. I prithee, Dick, let me hear thy device. Rich. Then thus, my lord. An oath is of no moment,
Being not sworn before a lawful magistrate.
York. Ay, say'st thou so, boy? Why, then it shall be so.
I am resolv'd to win the crown, or die. Edward, thou shalt to Edmund Brooke, lord Cobham,
With whom the Kentishmen will willingly rise.
Enter a Messenger.
Mess. My lord, the queen with thirty thousand men, accompanied with the earls of Cumberland, Northumberland, and Westmoreland, and others of the house of Lancaster, are marching towards Wakefield, to besiege you in your castle here.
Enter Sir JOHN and Sir HUGH MORTIMER. York. A God's name let them come. Cousin Montague, post you hence. And, boys, stay you with me.
Sir John and Sir Hugh Mortimer, mine uncles,
York. What! with five thousand soldiers, uncle? Rich. Ay, father, with five hundred for a need. A woman's general! what should you fear?
York. Indeed, many brave battles have I won in Normandy, When as the enemy hath been ten to one; And why should I now doubt of the like success? I am resolv'd. Come, let's go.
Edw. Let's march away; I hear their drums.
a Printed as prose in the edition of 1595.