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Act Five, Scene One

Enter the King, Leicester, with a Bishop [of Winchester] for the crowne [and Trussell].

Be patient good my lord, cease to lament,
Imagine Killingworth castell were your court
And that you lay for pleasure here a space,
Not of compulsion or necessitie.

Leister, if gentle words might comfort me,
Thy speeches long agoe had easde my sorrowes,
For kinde and loving hast thou alwaies beene:
The greefes of private men are soone allayde,
But not of kings: the forrest Deare being strucke
Runnes to an herbe that closeth up the wounds,
But when the imperiall Lions flesh is gorde,
He rends and teares it with his wrathfull pawe,
And highly scorning, that the lowly earth
Should drinke his bloud, mounts up into the ayre:
And so it fares with me, whose dauntlesse minde
The ambitious Mortimer would seeke to curbe,
And that unnaturall Queene false Isabell,
That thus hath pent and mu'd me in a prison,
For such outragious passions cloye my soule,
As with the wings of rancor and disdaine,
Full often am I sowring up to heaven,
To plaine me to the gods against them both:
But when I call to minde I am a king,
Me thinkes I should revenge me of the wronges,
That Mortimer and Isabell have done.
But what are kings, when regiment is gone,
But perfect shadowes in a sun-shine day?
My nobles rule, I beare the name of king,
I weare the crowne, but am contrould by them,
By Mortimer, and my unconstant Queene,
Who spots my nuptiall bed with infamie,
Whilst I am lodgd within this cave of care,
Where sorrow at my elbow still attends,
To companie my hart with sad laments,
That bleedes within me for this strange exchange.
But tell me, must I now resigne my crowne,
To make usurping Mortimer a king ?

Your grace mistakes, it is for Englands good,
And princely Edwards right we crave the crowne.

No, tis for Mortimer, not Edwards head,
For hees a lambe, encompassed by Woolves,
Which in a moment will abridge his life:
But if proud Mortimer do weare this crowne,
Heavens turne it to a blaze of quenchelesse fier,
Or like the snakie wreathe of Tisiphon,
Engirt the temples of his hatefull head,
So shall not Englands Vine be perished,
But Edwards name survives, though Edward dies.

My lord, why waste you thus the time away,
They stay your answer, will you yeeld your crowne?

Ah Leister, way how hardly I can brooke
To loose my crowne and kingdome, without cause,
To give ambitious Mortimer my right,
That like a mountaine overwhelmes my blisse,
In which extreame my minde here murthered is:
But what the heavens appoint, I must obaye,
Here, take my crowne, the life of Edward too,
Two kings in England cannot raigne at once:
But stay a while, let me be king till night,
That I may gaze upon this glittering crowne,
So shall my eyes receive their last content,
My head, the latest honor dew to it,
And joyntly both yeeld up their wished right.
Continue ever thou celestiall sunne,
Let never silent night possesse this clime,
Stand still you watches of the element,
All times and seasons rest you at a stay,
That Edward may be still faire Englands king:
But dayes bright beames dooth vanish fast away,
And needes I must resigne my wished crowne.
Inhumaine creatures, nurst with Tigers milke,
Why gape you for your soveraignes overthrow ?
My diadem I meane, and guiltlesse life.
See monsters see, ile weare my crowne againe,
What, feare you not the furie of your king?
But haplesse Edward, thou art fondly led,
They passe not for thy frownes as late they did,
But seekes to make a new elected king,
Which fils my mind with strange despairing thoughts,
Which thoughts are martyred with endles torments.
And in this torment, comfort finde I none,
But that I feele the crowne upon my head,
And therefore let me weare it yet a while.

My Lorde, the parlement must have present newes,
And therefore say, will you resigue or no.
The king rageth.

Ile not resigne, but whilst I live, be king.
Traitors be gon, and joine you with Mortimer,
Elect, conspire, install, do what you will,
Their bloud and yours shall seale these treacheries.

This answer weele returne, and so farewell.

Call them againe my lorde, and speake them faire,
For if they goe, the prince shall lose his right.

Call thou them back, I have no power to speake.

My lord, the king is willing to resigne.

If he be not, let him choose.

O would I might, but heavens and earth conspire
To make me miserable: heere receive my crowne.
Receive it ? no, these innocent hands of mine
Shall not be guiltie of so foule a crime.
He of you all that most desires my bloud,
And will be called the murtherer of a king,
Take it: what are you moovde, pitie you me ?
Then send for unrelenting Mortimer
And Isabell, whose eyes being turnd to steele,
Will sooner sparkle fire then shed a teare:
Yet stay, for rather then I will looke on them,
Heere, heere: now sweete God of heaven,
Make me despise this transitorie pompe,
And sit for aye inthronized in heaven,
Come death, and with thy fingers close my eyes,
Or if I live, let me forget my selfe.

My lorde---

Call me not lorde, away, out of my sight:
Ah pardon me, greefe makes me lunatick.
Let not that Mortimer protect my sonne,
More safetie is there in a Tigers jawes,
Then his imbrasements: beare this to the queene,
Wet with my teares, and dried againe with sighes,
If with the sight thereof she be not mooved,
Returne it backe and dip it in my bloud.
Commend me to my sonne, and bid him rule
Better then I, yet how have I transgrest,
Unlesse it be with too much clemencie?

And thus, most humbly do we take our leave.
[Exeunt Bishop of Winchester and Trussell.]

Farewell, I know the next newes that they bring,
Will be my death, and welcome shall it be,
To wretched men death is felicitie.
[Enter Bartley to Leister with letter.]

An other poast, what newes bringes he?

Such newes as I expect, come Bartley, come,
And tell thy message to my naked brest.

My lord, thinke not a thought so villanous
Can harbor in a man of noble birth.
To do your highnes service and devoire,
And save you from your foes, Bartley would die.

My lorde, the counsell of the Queene commaunds,
That I resigne my charge.

And who must keepe mee now, must you my lorde?

I, my most gratious lord, so tis decreed.

By Mortimer, whose name is written here,
Well may I rent his name, that rends my hart.
This poore revenge hath something easd my minde,
So may his limmes be torne, as is this paper,
Heare me immortall Jove, and graunt it too.

Your grace must hence with mee to Bartley straight.

whether you will, all places are alike,
And every earth is fit for buriall.

Favor him my lord, as much as lieth in you.

Even so betide my soule as I use him.

Mine enemie hath pitied my estate,
And thats the cause that I am now remoovde.

And thinkes your grace that Bartley will bee cruell?

I know not, but of this am I assured,
That death ends all, and I can die but once.
Leicester, farewell.

Not yet my lorde, ile beare you on your waye.
Exeunt omnes

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