David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s 3 HENRY VI: A Retelling — Act 2, Scene 6

— 2.6 —

In another part of the battlefield, an injured Lord Clifford knew he was dying.

Alone, he said, “Here burns my candle out; yes, here it dies. My candle, while it lasted, gave the Lancastrian King Henry VI light.

“Oh, House of Lancaster, I fear your overthrow more than my body’s parting with my soul! Love and fear of me glued many friends to you, and now that I am falling, your tough commixture melts — your strong alliances dissolve.

“Impairing Henry and strengthening wickedly proud York, the common people swarm like summer flies; and where do gnats fly but to the Sun? And who shines now but Henry’s enemies?

“Oh, Phoebus Apollo — Henry — if you had never given consent that Phaethon — the Duke of York — should control your fiery steeds, your burning Sun-chariot would never have scorched the Earth!

“And, Henry, had you ruled as Kings should do, or as your father and his father did, giving no ground to the House of York, they never then had sprung up like summer flies. I and ten thousand other men in this luckless realm would not have left any widows mourning for our death, and you this day would have kept your throne in peace.

“For what nourishes weeds but gentle air? And what makes robbers bold but too much lenity?

“But useless are my complaints, and incurable are my wounds. I have no way to flee, nor do I have the strength to sustain flight.

“The foe is merciless, and will not pity me, for at their hands I have deserved no pity. The air has gotten into my fatal wounds, and much shedding of blood makes me faint.

“Come, York and Richard, Warwick and the rest. I stabbed your fathers’ bosoms; now split my breast.”

He fainted.

A trumpet called the Lancastrian army to retreat, leaving the Yorkist army triumphant.

The Yorkists Edward, George, Richard, the Marquess of Montague, and the Earl of Warwick arrived. Some Yorkist soldiers were with them.

Edward said, “Now we rest, lords. Good fortune bids us pause and smooth the frowns of war with peaceful looks.

“Some troops pursue the bloodthirsty-minded Queen, who led calm Henry, although he were a King, as a sail, filled with a fretting gust, commands and forces an argosy — a large merchant ship — to make headway against the waves.

“But, lords, do you think that Lord Clifford fled with them?”

“No, it is impossible that he should escape,” the Earl of Warwick said, “for although before your brother Richard’s face I speak the words, Richard marked him for the grave, and wherever Lord Clifford is, he’s surely dead.”

Lord Clifford groaned and died.

Edward said, “Whose soul is that which takes its sorrowful departure?”

Richard said, “A deadly groan, like life departing and leaving death.”

“See who it is,” Edward said, “and now the battle’s ended, whether he is friend or foe, let him be gently treated.”

Richard looked at the corpse and said, “Revoke that sentence of mercy, for it is Clifford, who not contented that he lopped the branch in hewing Rutland when his leaves put forth, set his murdering knife to the root from whence that tender spray did sweetly spring. I mean that Lord Clifford murdered our Princely father, the Duke of York.”

The Earl of Warwick said, “From off the gates of York fetch down your father’s head, which Clifford placed there. Instead, let this head take its place. Measure must be repaid with measure. An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth.”

Edward said about Lord Clifford’s body, “Bring forth that fatal screech owl to our house, that owl that sang nothing but death to us and ours. Now death shall stop his dismal threatening sound, and his ill-boding tongue no more shall speak.”

The Earl of Warwick looked at Lord Clifford’s body and said, “I think his understanding has left him.

“Speak, Clifford, do you know who is speaking to you?

“Dark, cloudy death casts a gloom over his beams of life, and he neither sees us nor hears what we say.”

“Oh, I wish he did!” Richard said. “And so perhaps he does. Perhaps it is just his trick and he is pretending to be dead because he wants to avoid such bitter taunts as those that he gave our father in his time of death.”

George said, “If you think so, then vex him with sharp, cutting words.”

“Clifford, ask for mercy and obtain no grace,” Richard said.

“Clifford, repent in unavailing penitence,” Edward said.

The Earl of Warwick said, “Clifford, make excuses for your crimes and sins —”

“— while we devise cruel tortures for your crimes and sins,” George said.

“You ‘loved’ York,” Richard said, “and I am a son of the old Duke of York.”

“You ‘pitied’ Rutland,” Edward said. “I will ‘pity’ you.”

“Where’s Captain Margaret, to protect you now?” George asked.

“They mock you, Clifford,” the Earl of Warwick said. “Swear as you were accustomed to swear.”

“What, no oath!” Richard said. “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 could buy two hours of life for him, so that I in all contempt might rail at him, this hand would chop off my other hand, and with the blood that spurts out I would choke and strangle and drown this villain whose unquenchable thirst for blood the deaths of the old Duke of York and young Rutland could not satisfy.”

“Yes, he’s dead,” the Earl of Warwick said. “Off with the traitor’s head, and put it in the place where your father’s head now stands. And now triumphantly march to London, where you will be crowned England’s royal King: Edward IV. From London I, Warwick, will cut the sea to France, and ask for the Lady Bona, sister-in-law of the King of France to be your Queen. With that marriage, you shall strongly join, as with a sinew, both these lands — England and France — together. And, having the King of France as your friend, you shall not dread the scattered foes — the Lancastrians — who hope to rise again. For although they cannot greatly sting to hurt, yet look to have them buzz to offend your ears. They will circulate rumors about you.

“First I will see the coronation, and then I’ll cross the sea to Brittany to bring about this marriage, if it pleases my lord.”

“Do as you will, sweet Warwick,” Edward said. “Let it be done, for with your strong shoulder as my support I build my throne, and I will never undertake the thing for which your counsel and consent are lacking.

“Richard, I will make you Duke of Gloucester, and George, I will make you Duke of Clarence.”

Using the royal plural, he said, “Warwick, with the consent of and acting as ourself, shall do and undo as pleases him best.”

Richard joked, “Let me be the Duke of Clarence, and let George be the Duke of Gloucester because Gloucester’s Dukedom is too ominous. The previous three Dukes of Gloucester have died violent deaths.”

The Earl of Warwick said, “Tut, that’s a foolish observation. Richard, you will be the Duke of Gloucester. Now let’s go to London to see to the rituals that will give all of you possession of these honors.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


Buy the Paperback: 3 HENRY VI Retelling


David Bruce’s Lulu Bookstore (Paperbacks)


David Bruce’s Amazon Author Bookstore


David Bruce’s Smashwords Bookstore


David Bruce’s Apple iBookstore


David Bruce’s Barnes and Noble Books




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: