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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act III. Scene III.

The Tragedy of King Richard the Second

Wales.Before Flint Castle.

Enter, with drum and colours, BOLINGBROKE and Forces; YORK, NORTHUMBERLAND, and Others.

Boling.So that by this intelligence we learn

The Welshmen are dispers’d and Salisbury

Is gone to meet the king, who lately landed

With some few private friends upon this coast.

North.The news is very fair and good, my lord:

Richard not far from hence hath hid his head.

York.It would beseem the Lord Northumberland

To say, ‘King Richard:’ alack the heavy day

When such a sacred king should hide his head!

North.Your Grace mistakes; only to be brief

Left I his title out.

York.The time hath been,

Would you have been so brief with him, he would

Have been so brief with you, to shorten you,

For taking so the head, your whole head’s length.

Boling.Mistake not, uncle, further than you should.

York.Take not, good cousin, further than you should,

Lest you mistake the heavens are o’er our heads.

Boling.I know it, uncle; and oppose not myself

Against their will. But who comes here?


Welcome, Harry: what, will not this castle yield?

H. Percy.The castle royally is mann’d, my lord,

Against thy entrance.


Why, it contains no king?

H. Percy.Yes, my good lord,

It doth contain a king: King Richard lies

Within the limits of yon lime and stone;

And with him are the Lord Aumerle, Lord Salisbury,

Sir Stephen Scroop; besides a clergyman

Of holy reverence; who, I cannot learn.

North.O! belike it is the Bishop of Carlisle.

Boling.[To NORTH.]Noble lord,

Go to the rude ribs of that ancient castle,

Through brazen trumpet send the breath of parley

Into his ruin’d ears, and thus deliver:

Henry Bolingbroke

On both his knees doth kiss King Richard’s hand,

And sends allegiance and true faith of heart

To his most royal person; hither come

Even at his feet to lay my arms and power,

Provided that my banishment repeal’d,

And lands restor’d again be freely granted.

If not, I’ll use the advantage of my power,

And lay the summer’s dust with showers of blood

Rain’d from the wounds of slaughter’d Englishmen:

The which, how far off from the mind of Bolingbroke

It is, such crimson tempest should bedrench

The fresh green lap of fair King Richard’s land,

My stooping duty tenderly shall show.

Go, signify as much, while here we march

Upon the grassy carpet of this plain.

Let’s march without the noise of threat’ning drum,

That from the castle’s totter’d battlements

Our fair appointments may be well perus’d.

Methinks King Richard and myself should meet

With no less terror than the elements

Of fire and water, when their thundering shock

At meeting tears the cloudy cheeks of heaven.

Be he the fire, I’ll be the yielding water:

The rage be his, while on the earth I rain

My waters; on the earth, and not on him.

March on, and mark King Richard how he looks.

A Parley sounded, and answered by a Trumpet within.Flourish.Enter on the Walls KING RICHARD, the BISHOP OF CARLISLE, AUMERLE, SCROOP, and SALISBURY.

H. Percy.See, see, King Richard doth himself appear,

As doth the blushing discontented sun

From out the fiery portal of the east,

When he perceives the envious clouds are bent

To dim his glory and to stain the track

Of his bright passage to the occident.

York.Yet looks he like a king: behold, his eye,

As bright as is the eagle’s, lightens forth

Controlling majesty: alack, alack, for woe,

That any harm should stain so fair a show!

K. Rich.[To NORTHUMBERLAND.]We are amaz’d; and thus long have we stood

To watch the fearful bending of thy knee,

Because we thought ourself thy lawful king:

And if we be, how dare thy joints forget

To pay their awful duty to our presence?

If we be not, show us the hand of God

That hath dismiss’d us from our stewardship;

For well we know, no hand of blood and bone

Can gripe the sacred handle of our sceptre,

Unless he do profane, steal, or usurp.

And though you think that all, as you have done,

Have torn their souls by turning them from us,

And we are barren and bereft of friends;

Yet know, my master, God omnipotent,

Is mustering in his clouds on our behalf

Armies of pestilence; and they shall strike

Your children yet unborn and unbegot,

That lift your vassal hands against my head

And threat the glory of my precious crown.

Tell Bolingbroke,—for yond methinks he is,—

That every stride he makes upon my land

Is dangerous treason: he is come to open

The purple testament of bleeding war;

But ere the crown he looks for live in peace,

Ten thousand bloody crowns of mothers’ sons

Shall ill become the flower of England’s face,

Change the complexion of her maid-pale peace

To scarlet indignation, and bedew

Her pastures’ grass with faithful English blood.

North.The king of heaven forbid our lord the king

Should so with civil and uncivil arms

Be rush’d upon! Thy thrice-noble cousin,

Harry Bolingbroke, doth humbly kiss thy hand;

And by the honourable tomb he swears,

That stands upon your royal grandsire’s bones,

And by the royalties of both your bloods,

Currents that spring from one most gracious head,

And by the buried hand of war-like Gaunt,

And by the worth and honour of himself,

Comprising all that may be sworn or said,

His coming hither hath no further scope

Than for his lineal royalties and to beg

Enfranchisement immediate on his knees:

Which on thy royal party granted once,

His glittering arms he will commend to rust,

His barbed steeds to stables, and his heart

To faithful service of your majesty.

This swears he, as he is a prince, is just;

And, as I am a gentleman, I credit him.

K. Rich.Northumberland, say, thus the king returns:

His noble cousin is right welcome hither;

And all the number of his fair demands

Shall be accomplish’d without contradiction:

With all the gracious utterance thou hast

Speak to his gentle hearing kind commends.[NORTHUMBERLAND retires to BOLINGBROKE.

[To AUMERLE.]We do debase ourself, cousin, do we not,

To look so poorly and to speak so fair?

Shall we call back Northumberland and send

Defiance to the traitor, and so die?

Aum.No, good my lord; let’s fight with gentle words,

Till time lend friends and friends their helpful swords.

K. Rich.O God! O God! that e’er this tongue of mine,

That laid the sentence of dread banishment

On yond proud man, should take it off again

With words of sooth. O! that I were as great

As is my grief, or lesser than my name,

Or that I could forget what I have been,

Or not remember what I must be now.

Swell’st thou, proud heart? I’ll give thee scope to beat,

Since foes have scope to beat both thee and me.

Aum.Northumberland comes back from Bolingbroke.

K. Rich.What must the king do now? Must he submit?

The king shall do it: must he be depos’d?

The king shall be contented: must he lose

The name of king? o’ God’s name, let it go:

I’ll give my jewels for a set of beads,

My gorgeous palace for a hermitage,

My gay apparel for an almsman’s gown,

My figur’d goblets for a dish of wood,

My sceptre for a palmer’s walking-staff,

My subjects for a pair of carved saints,

And my large kingdom for a little grave,

A little little grave, an obscure grave;

Or I’ll be buried in the king’s highway,

Some way of common trade, where subjects’ feet

May hourly trample on their sovereign’s head;

For on my heart they tread now whilst I live;

And buried once, why not upon my head?

Aumerle, thou weep’st, my tender-hearted cousin!

We’ll make foul weather with despised tears;

Our sighs and they shall lodge the summer corn,

And make a dearth in this revolting land.

Or shall we play the wantons with our woes,

And make some pretty match with shedding tears?

As thus; to drop them still upon one place,

Till they have fretted us a pair of graves

Within the earth; and, there inlaid: ‘There lies

Two kinsmen digg’d their graves with weeping eyes.’

Would not this ill do well? Well, well, I see

I talk but idly and you laugh at me.

Most mighty prince, my Lord Northumberland,

What says King Bolingbroke? will his majesty

Give Richard leave to live till Richard die?

You make a leg, and Bolingbroke says ay.

North.My lord, in the base court he doth attend

To speak with you; may ’t please you to come down?

K. Rich.Down, down, I come; like glistering Phaethon,

Wanting the manage of unruly jades.

In the base court? Base court, where kings grow base,

To come at traitors’ calls and do them grace.

In the base court? Come down? Down, court! down, king!

For night-owls shriek where mounting larks should sing.[Exeunt from above.

Boling.What says his majesty?

North.Sorrow and grief of heart

Makes him speak fondly, like a frantic man:

Yet he is come.

Enter KING RICHARD, and his Attendants.

Boling.Stand all apart,

And show fair duty to his majesty.[Kneeling.

My gracious lord,—

K. Rich.Fair cousin, you debase your princely knee

To make the base earth proud with kissing it:

Me rather had my heart might feel your love

Than my unpleas’d eye see your courtesy.

Up, cousin, up; your heart is up, I know,

Thus high at least, although your knee be low.

Boling.My gracious lord, I come but for mine own.

K. Rich.Your own is yours, and I am yours, and all.

Boling.So far be mine, my most redoubted lord,

As my true service shall deserve your love.

K. Rich.Well you deserve: they well deserve to have

That know the strong’st and surest way to get.

Uncle, give me your hand: nay, dry your eyes;

Tears show their love, but want their remedies.

Cousin, I am too young to be your father,

Though you are old enough to be my heir.

What you will have I’ll give, and willing too;

For do we must what force will have us do.

Set on towards London. Cousin, is it so?

Boling.Yea, my good lord.

K. Rich.Then I must not say no.[Flourish.Exeunt.