Act the Fifth - Scene I
Enter KING EDWARD, LEICESTER, the BISHOP OF WINCHESTER, and TRUSSEL.
Leices. Be patient, good my lord, cease to lament;
Imagine Killingworth Castle were your court,
And that you lay for pleasure here a space,
Not of compulsion or necessity.
K. Edw. Leicester, if gentle words might comfort me,
Thy speeches long ago had eas'd my sorrows,
For kind and loving hast thou always been.
The griefs of private men are soon allay'd;
But not of kings. The forest deer, being struck,
Runs to an herb that closeth up the wounds:
But when the imperial lion's flesh is gor'd,
He rends and tears it with his wrathful paw,
[And], highly scorning that the lowly earth
Should drink his blood, mounts up to the air:
And so it fares with me, whose dauntless mind
Th' ambitious Mortimer would seek to curb,
And that unnatural queen, false Isabel,
That thus hath pent and mew'd me in a prison
For such outrageous passions cloy my soul,
As with the wings of rancour and disdain
Full oft[ten] am I soaring up to heaven,
To plain me to the gods against them both.
But when I call to mind I am a king,
Methinks I should revenge me of my wrongs,
That Mortimer and Isabel have done.
But what are kings, when regiment is gone,
But perfect shadows in a sunshine day?
My nobles rule; I bear the name of king,
I wear the crown; but am controll'd by them,
By Mortimer, and my unconstant queen,
Who spots my nuptial bed with infamy;
Whilst I am lodg'd within this cave of care,
Where sorrow at my elbow still attends,
To company my heart with sad laments,
That bleeds within me for this strange exchange.
But tell me, must I now resign my crown,
To make usurping Mortimer a king?
Bish. of Win. Your grace mistakes; it is for England's good,
And princely Edward's right, we crave the crown.
K. Edw. No, 'tis for Mortimer, not Edward's head
For he's a lamb, emcompassed by wolves,
Which in a moment will abridge his life.
But, if proud Mortimer do wear this crown,
Heavens turn it to a blaze of quenchless fire!
Or, like the snaky wreath of Tisiphon,
Engirt the temples of his hateful head!
So shall not England's vine be perished,
But Edward's name survive, though Edward dies.
Leices. My lord, why waste you thus the time away?
They stay your answer: will you yield your crown?
K. Edw. Ah, Leicester, weigh how hardly I can brook
To lose my crown and kingdom without cause;
To give ambitious Mortimer my right,
That, like a mountain, overwhelms my bliss;
In which extreme my mind here murder'd is!
But that the heavens appoint I must obey.—
Here, take my crown; the life of Edward too: [Taking off the crown.
Two kings in England cannot reign at once.
But stay a while: let me be king till night,
That I may gaze upon this glittering crown;
So shall my eyes receive their last content,
My head, the latest honour due to it,
And jointly both yield up their wished right.
Continue ever, thou celestial sun;
Let never silent night possess this clime;
Stand still, you watches of the element;
All times and seasons, rest you at a stay,
That Edward may be still fair England's king!
But day's bright beams doth vanish fast away,
And needs I must resign my wished crown.
Inhuman creatures, nurs'd with tiger's milk,
Why gape you for your sovereign's overthrow?
My diadem, I mean, and guiltless life.
See, monsters, see! I'll wear my crown again. [Putting on the crown.
What, fear you not the fury of your king?—
But, hapless Edward, thou art fondly led;
They pass not for thy frowns as late they did,
But seek to make a new-elected king;
Which fills my mind with strange despairing thoughts,
Which thoughts are martyred with endless torments;
And in this torment comfort find I none,
But that I feel the crown upon my head;
And therefore let me wear it yet a while.
Trus. My, lord, the parliament must have present news;
And therefore say, will you resign or no? [The king rageth.
K. Edw. I'll not resign, but, whilst I live, [be king].
Traitors, be gone, and join you with Mortimer.
Elect, conspire, install, do what you will:
Their blood and yours shall seal these treacheries.
Bish. of Win. This answer we'll return; and so, farewell. [Going with Trussel.
Leices. Call them again, my lord, and speak them fair;
For, if they go, the prince shall lose his right.
K. Edw. Call thou them back; I have no power to speak.
Leices. My lord, the king is willing to resign.
Bish. of Win. If he be not, let him choose.
K. Edw. O, would I might! but heavens and earth conspire
To make me miserable. Here, receive my crown.
Receive it? no, these innocent hands of mine
Shall not be guilty of so foul a crime;
He of you all that most desires my blood,
And will be call'd the murderer of a king,
Take it. What, are you mov'd? pity you me?
Then send for unrelenting Mortimer,
And Isabel, whose eyes being turn'd to steel
Will sooner sparkle fire than shed a tear.
Yet stay; for, rather than I'll look on them,
Here, here! [Gives the crown.]—Now, sweet God of heaven,
Make me despise this transitory pomp,
And sit fot aye enthronised in heaven!
Come, death, and with thy fingers close my eyes,
Or, if I live, let me forget myself!
Bish. of Win. My lord,—
K. Edw. Call me not lord; away, out of my sight!
Ah, pardon me! grief makes me lunatic.
Let not that Mortimer protect my son;
More safety there is in a tiger's jaws
Than his embracements. Bear this to the queen,
Wet with my tears, and dried again with sighs: [Gives a handkerchief.
If with the sight thereof she be not mov'd,
Return it back, and dip it in my blood.
Commend me to my son, and bid him rule
Better than I: yet how have I transgress'd,
Unless it be with too much clemency?
Trus. And thus, most humbly do we take our leave.
K. Edw. Farewell. [Exeunt the Bishop of Winchester and Trussel with the
I know the next news that they bring
Will be my death; and welcome shall it be:
To wretched men death is felicity.
Leices. Another post! what news brings he?
Enter BERKELEY, who gives a paper to LEICESTER.
K. Edw. Such news as I expect.—Come, Berkeley, come, And tell thy message to my naked breast.
Berk. My lord, think not a thought so villanous Can harbour in a man of noble birth. To do your highness service and devoir, And save you from your foes, Berkeley would die.
Leices. My lord, the council of the queen command That I resign my charge.
K. Edw. And who must keep me now? Must you, my lord?
Berk. Ay, my most gracious lord; so 'tis decreed.
K. Edw. [Taking the paper.] By Mortimer, whose name is written here! Well may I rent his name that rends my heart. [Tears it. This poor revenge hath something eas'd my mind: So may his limbs be torn as is this paper! Hear me, immortal Jove, and grant it too! Berk. Your grace must hence with me to Berkeley straight.
K. Edw. Whither you will: all places are alike, And every earth is fit for burial.
Leices. Favour him, my lord, as much as lieth in you.
Berk. Even so betide my soul as I use him!
K. Edw. Mine enemy hath pitied my estate, And that's the cause that I am now remov'd.
Berk. And thinks your grace that Berkeley will be cruel?
K. Edw. I know not; but of this am I assur'd, That death ends all, and I can die but once.— Leicester, farewell.
Leices. Not yet, my lord; I'll bear you on your way. [Exeunt.