Henry VI Part 1

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Mortimer, brought in a chair, and Gaolers
keeper (n.) 1 gaoler, warden, custodian


Kind keepers of my weak decaying age,

Let dying Mortimer here rest himself.

Even like a man new haled from the rack,
hale (v.) 1 drag, pull, haul

So fare my limbs with long imprisonment;
fare (v.) 1 get on, manage, do, cope See Topics: Frequency count

And these grey locks, the pursuivants of Death,
pursuivant (n.) royal messenger, state messenger [with power to execute warrants]

Nestor-like aged in an age of care,

Argue the end of Edmund Mortimer.
argue (v.) 1 indicate, betoken, be evidence of

These eyes, like lamps whose wasting oil is spent,

Wax dim, as drawing to their exigent;
exigent (n.) 1 end, extremity, last state
wax (v.) 1 grow, become, turn

Weak shoulders, overborne with burdening grief,

And pithless arms, like to a withered vine
like to / unto (conj./prep.) similar to, comparable with
pithless (adj.) feeble, frail, puny [lacking pith, or marrow]

That droops his sapless branches to the ground.

Yet are these feet, whose strengthless stay is numb,
numb (adj.) paralysed, immobile
stay (n.) 2 support, prop

Unable to support this lump of clay,

Swift-winged with desire to get a grave,

As witting I no other comfort have.
wit (v.) know, be aware, realize

But tell me, keeper, will my nephew come?
keeper (n.) 1 gaoler, warden, custodian


Richard Plantagenet, my lord, will come.

We sent unto the Temple, unto his chamber;

And answer was returned that he will come.


Enough; my soul shall then be satisfied.

Poor gentleman, his wrong doth equal mine.
wrong (n.) 1 dishonour, discredit, harm

Since Henry Monmouth first began to reign,

Before whose glory I was great in arms,

This loathsome sequestration have I had;
sequestration (n.) 3 imprisonment, isolation; also: loss of property

And even since then hath Richard been obscured,
obscure (v.) 2 live in obscurity, overshadow, eclipse

Deprived of honour and inheritance.

But now the arbitrator of despairs,
arbitrator (n.) 1 one who brings to a conclusion, resolver

Just Death, kind umpire of men's miseries,
umpire (n.) arbitrator, mediator, adjudicator

With sweet enlargement doth dismiss me hence.
enlargement (n.) 1 release, liberation, freeing

I would his troubles likewise were expired,
expired (adj.) ended, finished, dead

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?


Ay, noble uncle, thus ignobly used,
ignobly (adv.) dishonourably, shamefully, badly

Your nephew, late despised Richard, comes.
despised (adj.) scorned, derided, treated with contempt
late (adv.) recently, a little while ago / before


Direct mine arms I may embrace his neck

And in his bosom spend my latter gasp.
latter (adj.) 1 last, dying, final
spend (v.) 2 expend, express, give vent to

O, tell me when my lips do touch his cheeks,

That I may kindly give one fainting kiss.
kindly (adv.) 3 lovingly, gently, affectionately

And now declare, sweet stem from York's great stock,
stock (n.) 1 tree, family-tree, ancestry

Why didst thou say of late thou wert despised?
despised (adj.) scorned, derided, treated with contempt
late, of recently, a little while ago


First, lean thine aged back against mine arm,

And in that ease I'll tell thee my disease.
disease (n.) 1 lack of ease, distress, trouble

This day an argument upon a case

Some words there grew 'twixt Somerset and me;

Among which terms he used his lavish tongue
lavish (adj.) 1 effusive, unrestrained, exuberant
tongue (n.) 1 speech, expression, language, words, voice

And did upbraid me with my father's death;

Which obloquy set bars before my tongue,
obloquy (n.) disgrace, reproach, slander

Else with the like I had requited him.
like, the the same

Therefore, good uncle, for my father's sake,

In honour of a true Plantagenet,

And for alliance' sake, declare the cause
alliance (n.) 1 kinship, relationship, friendship
declare (v.) explain, clarify, make plain

My father, Earl of Cambridge, lost his head.


That cause, fair nephew, that imprisoned me

And hath detained me all my flowering youth
flowering (adj.) flourishing, vigorous, in full bloom

Within a loathsome dungeon, there to pine,

Was cursed instrument of his decease.


Discover more at large what cause that was,
discover (v.) 1 reveal, show, make known See Topics: Frequency count
large, at 1 at length, in full, thoroughly

For I am ignorant and cannot guess.


I will, if that my fading breath permit

And death approach not ere my tale be done.

Henry the Fourth, grandfather to this king,

Deposed his nephew Richard, Edward's son,
nephew (n.) 1 cousin

The first-begotten and the lawful heir

Of Edward king, the third of that descent;

During whose reign the Percys of the north,

Finding his usurpation most unjust,

Endeavoured my advancement to the throne.
advancement (n.) preferment, elevation, progress
endeavour (v.) try to obtain, strive to procure

The reason moved these warlike lords to this

Was for that – young Richard thus removed,

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,
bring (v.) 7 derive, receive, acquire

Being but fourth of that heroic line.

But mark: as in this haughty great attempt
haughty (adj.) high-minded, aspiring, lofty
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

They laboured to plant the rightful heir,

I lost my liberty, and they their lives.

Long after this, when Henry the Fifth,

Succeeding his father Bolingbroke, did reign,

Thy father, Earl of Cambridge then, derived
derive (v.) 1 descend

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
levy (v.) 1 enlist, conscript, muster
redeem (v.) 1 free, liberate, extricate
ween (v.) think, intend, expect, be minded

And have installed me in the diadem;
diadem (n.) crown, sovereign power

But, as the rest, so fell that noble earl,

And was beheaded. Thus the Mortimers,

In whom the title rested, were suppressed.


Of which, my lord, your honour is the last.


True, and thou seest that I no issue have,
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count

And that my fainting words do warrant death.
warrant (v.) 5 tell, assure, give good grounds to

Thou art my heir. The rest I wish thee gather;
gather (v.) 1 infer, work out [for oneself], guess at

But yet be wary in thy studious care.
care (n.) 1 attentiveness, heedfulness, diligence
studious (adj.) heedful, devoted, diligent


Thy grave admonishments prevail with me.
admonishment (n.) warning, caution

But yet methinks my father's execution
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

Was nothing less than bloody tyranny.


With silence, nephew, be thou politic.
politic (adj.) 1 prudent, cautious, discreet, shrewd

Strong fixed is the house of Lancaster

And like a mountain, not to be removed.

But now thy uncle is removing hence,
remove (v.) go, move off, depart

As princes do their courts when they are cloyed
cloy (v.) 1 satiate, gorge, satisfy

With long continuance in a settled place.
continuance (n.) 1 stay, period of time
settled (adj.) 3 fixed, established


O uncle, would some part of my young years

Might but redeem the passage of your age!
passage (n.) 2 passing, progress, moving on
redeem (v.) 3 [of time lost] get back, buy back, make amends for


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.
order (n.) 1 arrangement, disposition, direction

And so farewell, and fair be all thy hopes,

And prosperous be thy life in peace and war!

He dies


And peace, no war, befall thy parting soul!

In prison hast thou spent a pilgrimage,

And like a hermit overpassed thy days.
overpass (v.) spend, pass, live out

Well, I will lock his counsel in my breast;

And what I do imagine, let that rest.

Keepers, convey him hence, and I myself
keeper (n.) 1 gaoler, warden, custodian

Will see his burial better than his life.

Exeunt Gaolers, with Mortimer's body

Here dies the dusky torch of Mortimer,
dusky (adj.) 2 extinguished, lacking in light

Choked with ambition of the meaner sort;
mean (adj.) 1 of low rank, inferior in position, less important
sort (n.) 1 class, level, social rank

And for those wrongs, those bitter injuries,

Which Somerset hath offered to my house,

I doubt not but with honour to redress;

And therefore haste I to the parliament,

Either to be restored to my blood
blood (n.) 8 hereditary rights, appropriate rank, rightful title

Or make my ill th' advantage of my good.
ill (n.) 1 wrong, injury, harm, evil


  Previous scene     Next scene