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

Act V. Scene II.

The Tragedy of King Richard the Second

The Same.A Room in the DUKE OF YORK’S Palace.

Enter YORK and his DUCHESS.

Duch.My lord, you told me you would tell the rest,

When weeping made you break the story off,

Of our two cousins coming into London.

York.Where did I leave?

Duch.At that sad stop, my lord,

Where rude misgovern’d hands, from windows’ tops,

Threw dust and rubbish on King Richard’s head.

York.Then, as I said, the duke, great Bolingbroke,

Mounted upon a hot and fiery steed,

Which his aspiring rider seem’d to know,

With slow but stately pace kept on his course,

While all tongues cried, ‘God save thee, Bolingbroke!’

You would have thought the very windows spake,

So many greedy looks of young and old

Through casements darted their desiring eyes

Upon his visage, and that all the walls

With painted imagery had said at once

‘Jesu preserve thee! welcome, Bolingbroke!’

Whilst he, from one side to the other turning,

Bare-headed, lower than his proud steed’s neck,

Bespake them thus, ‘I thank you, countrymen:’

And thus still doing, thus he pass’d along.

Duch.Alack, poor Richard! where rode he the whilst?

York.As in a theatre, the eyes of men,

After a well-grac’d actor leaves the stage,

Are idly bent on him that enters next,

Thinking his prattle to be tedious;

Even so, or with much more contempt, men’s eyes

Did scowl on Richard: no man cried, ‘God save him;’

No joyful tongue gave him his welcome home;

But dust was thrown upon his sacred head,

Which with such gentle sorrow he shook off,

His face still combating with tears and smiles,

The badges of his grief and patience,

That had not God, for some strong purpose, steel’d

The hearts of men, they must perforce have melted,

And barbarism itself have pitied him.

But heaven hath a hand in these events,

To whose high will we bound our calm contents.

To Bolingbroke are we sworn subjects now,

Whose state and honour I for aye allow.

Duch.Here comes my son Aumerle.

York.Aumerle that was;

But that is lost for being Richard’s friend,

And, madam, you must call him Rutland now.

I am in parliament pledge for his truth

And lasting fealty to the new-made king.


Duch.Welcome, my son: who are the violets now

That strew the green lap of the new come spring?

Aum.Madam, I know not, nor I greatly care not:

God knows I had as lief be none as one.

York.Well, bear you well in this new spring of time,

Lest you be cropp’d before you come to prime.

What news from Oxford? hold those justs and triumphs?

Aum.For aught I know, my lord, they do.

York.You will be there, I know.

Aum.If God prevent it not, I purpose so.

York.What seal is that that hangs without thy bosom?

Yea, look’st thou pale? let me see the writing.

Aum.My lord, ’tis nothing.

York.No matter then, who sees it:

I will be satisfied; let me see the writing.

Aum.I do beseech your Grace to pardon me:

It is a matter of small consequence,

Which for some reasons I would not have seen.

York.Which for some reasons, sir, I mean to see.

I fear, I fear,—

Duch.What should you fear?

’Tis nothing but some bond he’s enter’d into

For gay apparel ’gainst the triumph day.

York.Bound to himself! what doth he with a bond

That he is bound to? Wife, thou art a fool.

Boy, let me see the writing.

Aum.I do beseech you, pardon me; I may not show it.

York.I will be satisfied; let me see it, I say.[Snatches it, and reads.

Treason! foul treason! villain! traitor! slave!

Duch.What is the matter, my lord?

York.Ho! who is within there?

Enter a Servant.

Saddle my horse.

God for his mercy! what treachery is here!

Duch.Why, what is it, my lord?

York.Give me my boots, I say; saddle my horse.

Now, by mine honour, by my life, my troth,

I will appeach the villain.[Exit Servant.

Duch.What’s the matter?

York.Peace, foolish woman.

Duch.I will not peace. What is the matter, Aumerle?

Aum.Good mother, be content; it is no more

Than my poor life must answer.

Duch.Thy life answer!

York.Bring me my boots: I will unto the king.

Re-enter Servant with boots.

Duch.Strike him, Aumerle. Poor boy, thou art amaz’d.

[To Servant.]Hence, villain! never more come in my sight.[Exit Servant.

York.Give me my boots, I say.

Duch.Why, York, what wilt thou do?

Wilt thou not hide the trespass of thine own?

Have we more sons, or are we like to have?

Is not my teeming date drunk up with time?

And wilt thou pluck my fair son from mine age,

And rob me of a happy mother’s name?

Is he not like thee? is he not thine own?

York.Thou fond, mad woman,

Wilt thou conceal this dark conspiracy?

A dozen of them here have ta’en the sacrament,

And interchangeably set down their hands,

To kill the king at Oxford.

Duch.He shall be none;

We’ll keep him here: then, what is that to him?

York.Away, fond woman! were he twenty times

My son, I would appeach him.

Duch.Hadst thou groan’d for him

As I have done, thou’dst be more pitiful.

But now I know thy mind: thou dost suspect

That I have been disloyal to thy bed,

And that he is a bastard, not thy son:

Sweet York, sweet husband, be not of that mind:

He is as like thee as a man may be,

Not like to me, nor any of my kin,

And yet I love him.

York.Make way, unruly woman![Exit.

Duch.After, Aumerle! Mount thee upon his horse;

Spur post, and get before him to the king,

And beg thy pardon ere he do accuse thee.

I’ll not be long behind; though I be old,

I doubt not but to ride as fast as York:

And never will I rise up from the ground

Till Bolingbroke have pardon’d thee. Away! be gone.[Exeunt.