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Henry VI, Part 1

Henry VI, Part 1 Translation Act 2, Scene 5

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Enter MORTIMER, brought in a chair, and Gaolers

MORTIMER

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 burthening grief, And pithless arms, like to a wither'd 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?

MORTIMER

You kind caretakers of my weak body, let the dying Mortimer rest here alone. It's as if I were a man just dragged from the rack, so my arms and legs suffer from the long imprisonment. And these gray hairs, the messengers of death, are like Nestor's, aged with the weight of sorrow. They symbolize the end of Edmund Mortimer. These eyes are like lamps whose dying oil has run out, they grow dark, as they are burning out. These weak shoulders are overburdened with overwhelming grief, and my feeble arms look like the dried up climbing plant that hangs down its weak branches to the ground. But these feet, whose powerless support is paralyzed, unable to support this body, are flying fast with a desire to find a grave for themselves. I have no other comfort, as far as I know. But, do you know if my nephew will come, warden? 

FIRST GAOLER

Richard Plantagenet, my lord, will come:We sent unto the Temple, unto his chamber;And answer was return'd that he will come.

FIRST GAOLER

My lord, Richard Plantagenet will come. We sent a message to the Temple, to his room and he responded saying that he will come.

MORTIMER

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 obscured, Deprived of honour 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 expired, That so he might recover what was lost.

MORTIMER

Enough! I will soon be satisfied, then. He is a poor gentleman. He was almost as wronged as I was. Since Henry Monmouth began to rule—I was powerful before he was—I have been in this disgusting prison. And ever since then, Richard has been overshadowed, denied his honor and inheritance. But now the judge of all despair and death, the kind referee who decides on men's miseries, sends me away with sweet release here. I wish Richard's troubles would disappear like mine, so that he might get back what he lost. 

Enter RICHARD PLANTAGENET

FIRST GAOLER

My lord, your loving nephew now is come.

FIRST GAOLER

My lord, your loving nephew is here. 

MORTIMER

Richard Plantagenet, my friend, is he come?

MORTIMER

Is Richard Plantagenet, my friend here? 

PLANTAGENET

Ay, noble uncle, thus ignobly used,Your nephew, late despised Richard, comes.

PLANTAGENET

Yes, great uncle, so lowly treated. Your nephew Richard, who is recently hated by others, is here. 

MORTIMER

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 despised?

MORTIMER

Point my arms towards him so I may hug his neck, and breath my last breath on his chest. Oh, tell me when my lips touch his cheeks, so I may give my last weak kiss to him in kinship. And now tell me, you sweet stem of York's lineage, why did you say that you were recently hated by others?

PLANTAGENET

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 used 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 honour of a true Plantagenet And for alliance sake, declare the cause My father, Earl of Cambridge, lost his head.

PLANTAGENET

First, rest your old back against my arm, and when I am relaxed, I will tell you of my sickness. Today, in an argument over the truth, Somerset and I exchanged some words, during which he used some excessive language and so used my father's death to accuse me. This disgrace left me speechless, otherwise I would have answered him similarly. Therefore, good uncle, in honor of my father and the true Plantagenet, tell me why my father the Earl of Cambridge lost his head.

MORTIMER

That cause, fair nephew, that imprison'd me And hath detain'd me all my flowering youth Within a loathsome dungeon, there to pine, Was cursed instrument of his decease.

MORTIMER

The reason, my good nephew, that imprisoned me and confined me in all of my young days in this horrible dungeon, here to die, was a cursed aftermath of your father's death. 

PLANTAGENET

Discover more at large what cause that was,For I am ignorant and cannot guess.

PLANTAGENET

Tell me more of the reason, because I know nothing of it and can't guess what it may be. 

MORTIMER

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, 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 moved these warlike lords to this Was, for that—young King 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, the 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 attempt 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 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 tide rested, were suppress'd.

MORTIMER

I will tell you, if my weak breath will allow me and death doesn't come for me before I finish my story. Henry the fourth, grandfather to our current king, removed his cousin Richard, Edward's son, from the throne. Richard was the first-born and the lawful heir of King Edward, the third in that line. During Henry the Fourth's rule, the Percies of the north thought that his wrongful takeover of the throne was unfair, so they tried to put me on the throne. These warriors were encouraged to do so because young King Richard was removed from the throne, and he left no heirs behind, so I was the next in line thanks to my birth and family. Thanks to my mother I come from Lionel Duke of Clarence, the third son of king Edward, while he comes from John of Gaunt and is only the fourth of that line of heroes. But pay attention, now. In this proud attempt to put me on the throne as the rightful heir, I lost all my freedom and they lost their lives. After this, Henry the Fifth succeeded his father Bolingbroke and ruled. At the same time, your father, the Earl of Cambridge, who came from the line of the famous Edmund Langley, Duke of York, married my sister, your mother. Again, feeling sorry for my sadness, he led an army, wanting to restore my position and put the crown on my head. But, the good lord fell, like the others did, and was beheaded. And so the Mortimers, who were once favored, were suppressed.

PLANTAGENET

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

PLANTAGENET

And you, my lord, are the last of the Mortimers. 

MORTIMER

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.

MORTIMER

That's true. And you know that I have no son and that my failing words signal death. You are my heir, I want you to regain all the rest but be careful and pay close attention. 

PLANTAGENET

Thy grave admonishments prevail with me:But yet, methinks, my father's executionWas nothing less than bloody tyranny.

PLANTAGENET

Your serious warnings have convinced me. But I still think that my father's execution was nothing but bloody tyranny. 

MORTIMER

With silence, nephew, be thou politic: Strong-fixed is the house of Lancaster, And like a mountain, not to be removed. But now thy uncle is removing hence: As princes do their courts, when they are cloy'd With long continuance in a settled place.

MORTIMER

Be quiet, nephew, when you speak so sensibly. The house of Lancaster is standing strong and won't be easily moved, they are like a mountain. But now your uncle is dying here, as princes do in their courts when they are sick from staying in the same place all the time. 

PLANTAGENET

O, uncle, would some part of my young yearsMight but redeem the passage of your age!

PLANTAGENET

Oh uncle, if only some part of my youth could be transferred to you to make up for your old age!

MORTIMER

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!

MORTIMER

Then you would wrong me, like the murderer who gives you many wounds even when one would be enough to kill you. Don't mourn me, but mourn for the good in me. I only want you to make arrangements for my funeral, and so goodbye! I hope that your life is successful in both peace and war!

Dies

PLANTAGENET

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.

PLANTAGENET

And let peace, not war rest on your departed soul! You have spent your crusade in prison and lived your last days as a loner. Well, I will lock his advice in my chest and what I do with it will remain a secret. Wardens, take him away from here and I personally will make sure his burial is better than his life was.

Exeunt Gaolers, bearing out the body of MORTIMER

PLANTAGENET

Here dies the dusky torch of Mortimer, Choked 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 honour to redress; And therefore haste I to the parliament, Either to be restored to my blood, Or make my ill the advantage of my good.

PLANTAGENET

The flickering torch of Mortimer dies here. He was suffocating with ambition that was fitting of less noble people. And as for the wrongs and those bitter wounds which Somerset directed at my family, I will, doubt you not, answer honorably. And therefore I hurry to the parliament, either to be restored to my rightful position or to turn my unfavorable situation into an advantage.

Exit

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Nina romancikova
About the Translator: Nina Romancikova

Nina Romancikova is from Slovakia but her love of literature and theater has brought her to the UK and she has been living and studying there for the past six years. She graduated with a degree in English Literature and Language at University of Glasgow in 2016. Nina is now finishing her Masters in Shakespeare Studies at King's College London and is currently working as a Research Intern at Shakespeare's Globe.