Henry VI, Pt. 1
Act II, Scene 5
London. A room in the Tower of London.
- Enter Mortimer, brought in a chair, and Keepers.
Edmund Mortimer1 - 17
- Kind keepers of my weak decaying age,
- Let dying Mortimer here rest himself.
- Even like a man new haled from the rack,
- So fare my limbs with long imprisonment;
- And these grey locks, the pursuivants of death,
- Nestor-like aged, in an age of care,
- Argue the end of Edmund Mortimer.
- These eyes, like lamps whose wasting oil is spent,
- Wax dim, as drawing to their exigent;
- Weak shoulders, overborne with burdening grief,
- And pithless arms, like to a withered vine
- That droops his sapless branches to the ground.
- Yet are these feet, whose strengthless stay is numb
- (Unable to support this lump of clay),
- Swift-winged with desire to get a grave,
- As witting I no other comfort have.
- But tell me, keeper, will my nephew come?
First Keeper18 - 20
- Richard Plantagenet, my lord, will come.
- We sent unto the Temple, unto his chamber,
- And answer was return’d that he will come.
Edmund Mortimer21 - 32
- Enough; my soul shall then be satisfied.
- Poor gentleman, his wrong doth equal mine.
- Since Henry Monmouth first began to reign,
- Before whose glory I was great in arms,
- This loathsome sequestration have I had;
- And even since then hath Richard been obscur’d,
- Depriv’d of honor and inheritance.
- But now, the arbitrator of despairs,
- Just Death, kind umpire of men’s miseries,
- With sweet enlargement doth dismiss me hence.
- I would his troubles likewise were expir’d,
- That so he might recover what was lost.
- Enter Richard Plantagenet.
- My lord, your loving nephew now is come.
- Richard Plantagenet, my friend, is he come?
Richard Plantagenet35 - 36
- Ay, noble uncle, thus ignobly us’d,
- Your nephew, late-despised Richard, comes.
Edmund Mortimer37 - 42
- Direct mine arms I may embrace his neck,
- And in his bosom spend my latter gasp.
- O, tell me when my lips do touch his cheeks,
- That I may kindly give one fainting kiss.
- And now declare, sweet stem from York’s great stock,
- Why didst thou say, of late thou wert despis’d?
Richard Plantagenet43 - 54
- First, lean thine aged back against mine arm,
- And in that ease, I’ll tell thee my disease.
- This day, in argument upon a case,
- Some words there grew ’twixt Somerset and me;
- Among which terms he us’d his lavish tongue
- And did upbraid me with my father’s death;
- Which obloquy set bars before my tongue,
- Else with the like I had requited him.
- Therefore, good uncle, for my father’s sake,
- In honor of a true Plantagenet,
- And for alliance sake, declare the cause
- My father, Earl of Cambridge, lost his head.
Edmund Mortimer55 - 58
- That cause, fair nephew, that imprison’d me
- And hath detain’d me all my flow’ring youth
- Within a loathsome dungeon, there to pine,
- Was cursed instrument of his decease.
Richard Plantagenet59 - 60
- Discover more at large what cause that was,
- For I am ignorant and cannot guess.
Edmund Mortimer61 - 92
- I will, if that my fading breath permit
- And death approach not ere my tale be done.
- Henry the Fourth, grandfather to this king,
- Depos’d his nephew Richard, Edward’s son,
- The first begotten, and the lawful heir
- Of Edward king, the third of that descent;
- During whose reign the Percies of the north,
- Finding his usurpation most unjust,
- Endeavor’d my advancement to the throne.
- The reason mov’d these warlike lords to this
- Was, for that (young Richard thus remov’d,
- Leaving no heir begotten of his body)
- I was the next by birth and parentage;
- For by my mother I derived am
- From Lionel Duke of Clarence, third son
- To King Edward the Third; whereas he
- From John of Gaunt doth bring his pedigree,
- Being but fourth of that heroic line.
- But mark: as in this haughty great attempt
- They labored to plant the rightful heir,
- I lost my liberty, and they their lives.
- Long after this, when Henry the Fifth
- (Succeeding his father Bullingbrook) did reign,
- Thy father, Earl of Cambridge then, deriv’d
- From famous Edmund Langley, Duke of York,
- Marrying my sister that thy mother was,
- Again, in pity of my hard distress,
- Levied an army, weening to redeem
- And have install’d me in the diadem.
- But as the rest, so fell that noble earl,
- And was beheaded. Thus the Mortimers,
- In whom the title rested, were suppress’d.
- Of which, my lord, your honor is the last.
Edmund Mortimer94 - 97
- True; and thou seest that I no issue have,
- And that my fainting words do warrant death.
- Thou art my heir; the rest I wish thee gather;
- But yet be wary in thy studious care.
Richard Plantagenet98 - 100
- Thy grave admonishments prevail with me.
- But yet methinks, my father’s execution
- Was nothing less than bloody tyranny.
Edmund Mortimer101 - 106
- With silence, nephew, be thou politic.
- Strong fixed is the house of Lancaster,
- And like a mountain, not to be remov’d.
- But now thy uncle is removing hence,
- As princes do their courts, when they are cloy’d
- With long continuance in a settled place.
Richard Plantagenet107 - 108
- O uncle, would some part of my young years
- Might but redeem the passage of your age!
Edmund Mortimer109 - 114
- Thou dost then wrong me, as that slaughterer doth
- Which giveth many wounds when one will kill.
- Mourn not, except thou sorrow for my good,
- Only give order for my funeral.
- And so farewell, and fair be all thy hopes,
- And prosperous be thy life in peace and war!
Richard Plantagenet115 - 129
- And peace, no war, befall thy parting soul!
- In prison hast thou spent a pilgrimage,
- And like a hermit overpass’d thy days.
- Well, I will lock his counsel in my breast,
- And what I do imagine, let that rest.
- Keepers, convey him hence, and I myself
- Will see his burial better than his life.
- Exeunt Keepers, bearing out the body of Mortimer.
- Here dies the dusky torch of Mortimer,
- Chok’d with ambition of the meaner sort;
- And for those wrongs, those bitter injuries,
- Which Somerset hath offer’d to my house,
- I doubt not but with honor to redress.
- And therefore haste I to the parliament,
- Either to be restored to my blood,
- Or make my will th’ advantage of my good.