Home  »  The Oxford Shakespeare  »  The Tragedy of King Richard the Second

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

Act V. Scene III.

The Tragedy of King Richard the Second

Windsor.A Room in the Castle.

Enter BOLINGBROKE as King; HENRY PERCY, and other Lords.

Boling.Can no man tell of my unthrifty son?

’Tis full three months since I did see him last.

If any plague hang over us, ’tis he.

I would to God, my lords, he might be found:

Inquire at London, ’mongst the taverns there,

For there, they say, he daily doth frequent,

With unrestrained loose companions,

Even such, they say, as stand in narrow lanes

And beat our watch and rob our passengers;

While he, young wanton and effeminate boy,

Takes on the point of honour to support

So dissolute a crew.

H. Percy.My lord, some two days since I saw the prince,

And told him of these triumphs held at Oxford.

Boling.And what said the gallant?

H. Percy.His answer was: he would unto the stews,

And from the common’st creature pluck a glove,

And wear it as a favour; and with that

He would unhorse the lustiest challenger.

Boling.As dissolute as desperate; yet, through both,

I see some sparkles of a better hope,

Which elder days may happily bring forth.

But who comes here?


Aum.Where is the king?

Boling.What means

Our cousin, that he stares and looks so wildly?

Aum.God save your Grace! I do beseech your majesty,

To have some conference with your Grace alone.

BolingWithdraw yourselves, and leave us here alone.[Exeunt H. PERCY and Lords.

What is the matter with our cousin now?

Aum.[Kneels.]For ever may my knees grow to the earth,

My tongue cleave to my roof within my mouth,

Unless a pardon ere I rise or speak.

Boling.Intended or committed was this fault?

If on the first, how heinous e’er it be,

To win thy after-love I pardon thee.

Aum.Then give me leave that I may turn the key,

That no man enter till my tale be done.

Boling.Have thy desire.[AUMERLE locks the door.

York.[Within.]My liege, beware! look to thyself;

Thou hast a traitor in thy presence there.

Boling.[Drawing.]Villain, I’ll make thee safe.

Aum.Stay thy revengeful hand; thou hast no cause to fear.

York.[Within.]Open the door, secure, foolhardy king:

Shall I for love speak treason to thy face?

Open the door, or I will break it open.[BOLINGBROKE unlocks the door; and afterwards relocks it.

Enter YORK.

Boling.What is the matter, uncle? speak;

Recover breath; tell us how near is danger,

That we may arm us to encounter it.

York.Peruse this writing here, and thou shalt know

The treason that my haste forbids me show.

Aum.Remember, as thou read’st, thy promise pass’d:

I do repent me; read not my name there;

My heart is not confederate with my hand.

York.’Twas, villain, ere thy hand did set it down.

I tore it from the traitor’s bosom, king;

Fear, and not love, begets his penitence.

Forget to pity him, lest thy pity prove

A serpent that will sting thee to the heart.

Boling.O heinous, strong, and bold conspiracy!

O loyal father of a treacherous son!

Thou sheer, immaculate, and silver fountain,

From whence this stream through muddy passages

Hath held his current and defil’d himself!

Thy overflow of good converts to bad,

And thy abundant goodness shall excuse

This deadly blot in thy digressing son.

York.So shall my virtue be his vice’s bawd,

And he shall spend mine honour with his shame,

As thriftless sons their scraping fathers’ gold.

Mine honour lives when his dishonour dies,

Or my sham’d life in his dishonour lies:

Thou kill’st me in his life; giving him breath,

The traitor lives, the true man’s put to death.

Duch.[Within.]What ho, my liege! for God’s sake let me in.

Boling.What shrill-voic’d suppliant makes this cager cry?

Duch.[Within.]A woman, and thine aunt, great king; ’tis I.

Speak with me, pity me, open the door:

A beggar begs, that never begg’d before.

Boling.Our scene is alter’d from a serious thing,

And now chang’d to ‘The Beggar and the King.’

My dangerous cousin, let your mother in:

I know she’s come to pray for your foul sin.[AUMERLE unlocks the door.

York.If thou do pardon, whosoever pray,

More sins, for this forgiveness, prosper may.

This fester’d joint cut off, the rest rests sound;

This, let alone, will all the rest confound.


Duch.O king! believe not this hard-hearted man:

Love, loving not itself, none other can.

York.Thou frantic woman, what dost thou make here?

Shall thy old dugs once more a traitor rear?

Duch.Sweet York, be patient.[Kneels.

Hear me, gentle liege.

Boling.Rise up, good aunt.

Duch.Not yet, I thee beseech.

For ever will I walk upon my knees,

And never see day that the happy sees,

Till thou give joy; until thou bid me joy,

By pardoning Rutland, my transgressing boy.

Aum.Unto my mother’s prayers I bend my knee.[Kneels.

York.Against them both my true joints bended be.[Kneels.

Ill mayst thou thrive if thou grant any grace!

Duch.Pleads he in earnest? look upon his face;

His eyes do drop no tears, his prayers are in jest;

His words come from his mouth, ours from our breast:

He prays but faintly and would be denied;

We pray with heart and soul and all beside:

His weary joints would gladly rise, I know;

Our knees shall kneel till to the ground they grow:

His prayers are full of false hypocrisy;

Ours of true zeal and deep integrity.

Our prayers do out pray his; then let them have

That mercy which true prayer ought to have.

Boling.Good aunt, stand up.

Duch.Nay, do not say ‘stand up;’

But ‘pardon’ first, and afterwards ‘stand up.’

An if I were thy nurse, thy tongue to teach,

‘Pardon’ should be the first word of thy speech.

I never long’d to hear a word till now;

Say ‘pardon,’ king; let pity teach thee how:

The word is short, but not so short as sweet;

No word like ‘pardon,’ for kings’ mouths so meet.

York.Speak it in French, king; say, ‘pardonnez moy.’

Duch.Dost thou teach pardon pardon to destroy?

Ah! my sour husband, my hard-hearted lord,

That sett’st the word itself against the word.

Speak ‘pardon’ as ’tis current in our land;

The chopping French we do not understand.

Thine eye begins to speak, set thy tongue there,

Or in thy piteous heart plant thou thine ear,

That hearing how our plaints and prayers do pierce,

Pity may move thee pardon to rehearse.

Boling.Good aunt, stand up.

Duch.I do not sue to stand;

Pardon is all the suit I have in hand.

Boling.I pardon him, as God shall pardon me.

Duch.O happy vantage of a kneeling knee!

Yet am I sick for fear: speak it again;

Twice saying ‘pardon’ doth not pardon twain,

But makes one pardon strong.

Boling.With all my heart

I pardon him.

Duch.A god on earth thou art.

Boling.But for our trusty brother-in-law and the abbot,

With all the rest of that consorted crew,

Destruction straight shall dog them at the heels.

Good uncle, help to order several powers

To Oxford, or where’er these traitors are:

They shall not live within this world, I swear,

But I will have them, if I once know where.

Uncle, farewell: and cousin too, adieu:

Your mother well hath pray’d, and prove you true.

Duch.Come, my old son: I pray God make thee new.[Exeunt.