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

Act I. Scene II.

The Tragedy of King Richard the Second

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


Gaunt.Alas! the part I had in Woodstock’s blood

Doth more solicit me than your exclaims,

To stir against the butchers of his life.

But since correction lieth in those hands

Which made the fault that we cannot correct,

Put we our quarrel to the will of heaven;

Who, when they see the hours ripe on earth,

Will rain hot vengeance on offenders’ heads.

Duch.Finds brotherhood in thee no sharper spur?

Hath love in thy old blood no living fire?

Edward’s seven sons, whereof thyself art one,

Were as seven vials of his sacred blood,

Or seven fair branches springing from one root:

Some of those seven are dried by nature’s course,

Some of those branches by the Destinies cut;

But Thomas, my dear lord, my life, my Gloucester,

One vial full of Edward’s sacred blood,

One flourishing branch of his most royal root,

Is crack’d, and all the precious liquor spilt;

Is hack’d down, and his summer leaves all vaded,

By envy’s hand and murder’s bloody axe.

Ah, Gaunt! his blood was thine: that bed, that womb,

That metal, that self-mould, that fashion’d thee

Made him a man; and though thou liv’st and breath’st,

Yet art thou slain in him: thou dost consent

In some large measure to thy father’s death

In that thou seest thy wretched brother die,

Who was the model of thy father’s life.

Call it not patience, Gaunt; it is despair:

In suffering thus thy brother to be slaughter’d

Thou show’st the naked pathway to thy life,

Teaching stern murder how to butcher thee:

That which in mean men we entitle patience

Is pale cold cowardice in noble breasts.

What shall I say? to safeguard thine own life,

The best way is to venge my Gloucester’s death.

Gaunt.God’s is the quarrel; for God’s substitute,

His deputy anointed in his sight,

Hath caus’d his death; the which if wrongfully,

Let heaven revenge, for I may never lift

An angry arm against his minister.

Duch.Where then, alas! may I complain myself?

Gaunt.To God, the widow’s champion and defence.

Duch.Why then, I will. Farewell, old Gaunt.

Thou go’st to Coventry, there to behold

Our cousin Hereford and fell Mowbray fight:

O! sit my husband’s wrongs on Hereford’s spear,

That it may enter butcher Mowbray’s breast.

Or if misfortune miss the first career,

Be Mowbray’s sins so heavy in his bosom

That they may break his foaming courser’s back,

And throw the rider headlong in the lists,

A caitiff recreant to my cousin Hereford!

Farewell, old Gaunt: thy sometimes brother’s wife

With her companion grief must end her life.

Gaunt.Sister, farewell; I must to Coventry.

As much good stay with thee as go with me!

Duch.Yet one word more. Grief boundeth where it falls,

Not with the empty hollowness, but weight:

I take my leave before I have begun,

For sorrow ends not when it seemeth done.

Commend me to my brother, Edmund York.

Lo! this is all: nay, yet depart not so;

Though this be all, do not so quickly go;

I shall remember more. Bid him—ah, what?—

With all good speed at Plashy visit me.

Alack! and what shall good old York there see

But empty lodgings and unfurnish’d walls,

Unpeopled offices, untrodden stones?

And what hear there for welcome but my groans?

Therefore commend me; let him not come there,

To seek out sorrow that dwells every where.

Desolate, desolate will I hence, and die:

The last leave of thee takes my weeping eye.[Exeunt.