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York to Margaret. Women are soft, mild, pitiful, and flexible ;

Thou, stern, obdurate, flinty, rough, remorseless. In the first part of Henry VI. we become acquainted with MARGARET, as the timid maiden, and humble prisoner, sending her commendations to the King—espoused as she is to him—by the DUKE OF SUFFOLK. In the first act of the second part of this play, she is presented to us as the affianced Queen, for whom HENRY, instead of receiving “large sums of gold and dowries,” has given up Anjou and Maine to the French.

The retiring modesty of MARGARET soon drops, as a veil, before the eyes of the courtiers. Shakspeare paints her jealous nature, which now appears in bold colours. Speaking of ELEANOR, the Duchess of Gloucester, she says

“Not all these lords do rex me half so much

As that proud dame, the lord protector's wife.” And as circumstances unfold her character, her haughtiness and self-will become accordingly developed. Amongst other instances, a most amusing scene is presented in a quarrel between her and the Duchess, in which they are scarce restrained from a personal encounter, so bitter is the enmity between them. In the second and following acts, King HENRY is exhibited as completely under the hands of the ambitious Queen. She endeavours to sow dissension between him and GLOUCESTER ; the King defends him; but MARGARET is resolved that -

“The welfare of us all

Hangs on the cutting short that fraudful man.” Carrying her point, the Duke is condemned to die, and is at last murdered by her command.

Her arrogance now knows no bounds; and the King is depicted as daily becoming the

prey of remorse and fear, which is increased by the rival factions, with which he is encompassed. In the third part of the play, we see the misfortunes of Henry constantly accumulating He is surrounded by treason; and RICHARD, DUKE OF YORK, is proposed, by WARWICK, as king in place of “bashful Henry,” who is to be deposed. QUEEN MARGARET, however, appears, and, reviling the King for his timidity, brings forward Prince EDWARD as heir to the throne, claiming that he cannot be disinherited by any act of his father. Tearing herself from Henry, who has become a pitiable spectacle, she leaves him to his fate, and goes with her son to their army, boldly entering into battle with all her foes, and daring their worst endeavours. Thus she is painted by Shakspeare with the fiercest of characters—one almost beyond the possibility of a woman's power to possess.

LADY GREY is introduced as the wife of Sir John Grey, whose lands have been seized. She appears before EDWARD, who is now King, and he tries her feelings of affection towards her family, in the most severe terms possible. He, however, satisfies himself of her truthfulness, and ends by offering his hand, restoring all her lost lands to her. MARGARET, in the end, is sent back to France, and EDWARD reigns with his Queen in peace; Henry, for the time, enjoying a respite from the troubles caused by his impetuous wife.

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Queen Margaret. Great lords, wise men ne'er sit and wail

their loss,
But cheerly seek how to redress their harms.
What though the mast be now blown overboard,
The cable broke, the holding anchor lost,
And half our sailors swallow'd in the flood ?
Yet lives our pilot still: Is't meet that he
Should leave the helm, and, like a fearful lad,
With tearful eyes add water to the sea,
And give more strength to that which hath too much;
Whiles, in his moan, the ship splits on the rock,
Which industry and courage might have sav'd ?
Ah, what a shame! ah, what a fault were this!
Say, Warwick was our anchor: What of that?
And Montague our top-mast: What of him ?
Our slaughter'd friends the tackles: What of these?
Why, is not Oxford here another anchor ?
And Somerset another goodly mast ?
The friends of France our shrouds and tacklings?
And, though unskilful, why not Ned and I
For once allow'd the skilful pilot's charge ?
We will not from the helm, to sit and weep;
But keep our course, though the rough wind say—no,
From shelves and rocks that threaten us with wreck.
As good to chide the waves as speak them fair.
And what is Edward, but a ruthless sea ?
What Clarence, but a quicksand of deceit ?
And Richard, but a ragged fatal rock?
All these the enemies to our poor bark.
Say, you can swim; alas, 'tis but awhile:
Tread on the sand; why, there you quickly sink:
Bestride the rock; the tide will wash you off,
Or else you famish: that's a threefold dea .
This speak I, lords, to let

you understand,
In case some one of you would fly from us,
That there's no hop’d-for mercy with the brothers,
More than with ruthless waves, with sands and rocks.
Why, courage, then! what cannot be avoided,
'Twere childish weakness to lament, or fear.

King HENRY VI., Part III.-Act V. Sccnc IV.

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