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

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

Act I. Scene III.

The Tragedy of King Richard the Second

Open Space, near Coventry.Lists set out, and a Throne. Heralds, &c., attending.

Enter the Lord Marshal and AUMERLE.

Mar.My Lord Aumerle, is Harry Hereford arm’d?

Aum.Yea, at all points, and longs to enter in.

Mar.The Duke of Norfolk, sprightfully and bold,

Stays but the summons of the appellant’s trumpet.

Aum.Why then, the champions are prepar’d, and stay

For nothing but his majesty’s approach.

Flourish.Enter KING RICHARD, who takes his seat on his Throne; GAUNT, BUSHY, BAGOT, GREEN, and Others, who take their places.A trumpet is sounded, and answered by another trumpet within.Then enter MOWBRAY, in armour, defendant, preceded by a Herald.

K. Rich.Marshal, demand of yonder champion

The cause of his arrival here in arms:

Ask him his name, and orderly proceed

To swear him in the justice of his cause.

Mar.In God’s name, and the king’s, say who thou art,

And why thou com’st thus knightly clad in arms,

Against what man thou com’st, and what thy quarrel.

Speak truly, on thy knighthood and thine oath;

As so defend thee heaven and thy valour!

Mow.My name is Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk,

Who hither come engaged by my oath,—

Which God defend a knight should violate!—

Both to defend my loyalty and truth

To God, my king, and his succeeding issue,

Against the Duke of Hereford that appeals me;

And, by the grace of God and this mine arm,

To prove him, in defending of myself,

A traitor to my God, my king, and me:

And as I truly fight, defend me heaven![He takes his seat.

Trumpet sounds.Enter BOLINGBROKE, appellant, in armour, preceded by a Herald.

K. Rich.Marshal, ask yonder knight in arms,

Both who he is and why he cometh hither

Thus plated in habiliments of war;

And formally, according to our law,

Depose him in the justice of his cause.

Mar.What is thy name? and wherefore com’st thou hither,

Before King Richard in his royal lists?

Against whom comest thou? and what’s thy quarrel?

Speak like a true knight, so defend thee heaven!

Boling.Harry of Hereford, Lancaster, and Derby,

Am I; who ready here do stand in arms,

To prove by God’s grace and my body’s valour,

In lists, on Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk,

That he’s a traitor foul and dangerous,

To God of heaven, King Richard, and to me:

And as I truly fight, defend me heaven!

Mar.On pain of death, no person be so bold

Or daring-hardy as to touch the lists,

Except the marshal and such officers

Appointed to direct these fair designs.

Boling.Lord marshal, let me kiss my sovereign’s hand,

And bow my knee before his majesty:

For Mowbray and myself are like two men

That vow a long and weary pilgrimage;

Then let us take a ceremonious leave

And loving farewell of our several friends.

Mar.The appellant in all duty greets your highness,

And craves to kiss your hand and take his leave.

K. Rich.[Descends from his throne.]We will descend and fold him in our arms.

Cousin of Hereford, as thy cause is right,

So be thy fortune in this royal fight!

Farewell, my blood; which if to-day thou shed,

Lament we may, but not revenge thee dead.

Boling.O! let no noble eye profane a tear

For me, if I be gor’d with Mowbray’s spear.

As confident as is the falcon’s flight

Against a bird, do I with Mowbray fight.

My loving lord, I take my leave of you;

Of you, my noble cousin, Lord Aumerle;

Not sick, although I have to do with death,

But lusty, young, and cheerly drawing breath.

Lo! as at English feasts, so I regreet

The daintiest last, to make the end most sweet:

O thou, the earthly author of my blood,

Whose youthful spirit, in me regenerate,

Doth with a two-fold vigour lift me up

To reach at victory above my head,

Add proof unto mine armour with thy prayers,

And with thy blessings steel my lance’s point,

That it may enter Mowbray’s waxen coat,

And furbish new the name of John a Gaunt,

Even in the lusty haviour of his son.

Gaunt.God in thy good cause make thee prosperous!

Be swift like lightning in the execution;

And let thy blows, doubly redoubled,

Fall like amazing thunder on the casque

Of thy adverse pernicious enemy:

Rouse up thy youthful blood, be valiant and live.

Boling.Mine innocency and Saint George to thrive![He takes his seat.

Mow.[Rising.]However God or fortune cast my lot,

There lives or dies, true to King Richard’s throne,

A loyal, just, and upright gentleman.

Never did captive with a freer heart

Cast off his chains of bondage and embrace

His golden uncontroll’d enfranchisement,

More than my dancing soul doth celebrate

This feast of battle with mine adversary.

Most mighty liege, and my companion peers,

Take from my mouth the wish of happy years.

As gentle and as jocund as to jest,

Go I to fight: truth has a quiet breast.

K. Rich.Farewell, my lord: securely I espy

Virtue with valour couched in thine eye.

Order the trial, marshal, and begin.[The KING and the Lords return to their seats.

Mar.Harry of Hereford, Lancaster, and Derby,

Receive thy lance; and God defend the right!

Boling.[Rising.]Strong as a tower in hope, I cry ‘amen.’

Mar.[To an Officer.]Go bear this lance to Thomas, Duke of Norfolk.

First Her.Harry of Hereford, Lancaster, and Derby,

Stands here for God, his sovereign, and himself,

On pain to be found false and recreant,

To prove the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray,

A traitor to his God, his king, and him;

And dares him to set forward to the fight.

Sec. Her.Here standeth Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk,

On pain to be found false and recreant,

Both to defend himself and to approve

Henry of Hereford, Lancaster, and Derby,

To God, his sovereign, and to him, disloyal;

Courageously and with a free desire,

Attending but the signal to begin.

Mar.Sound, trumpets; and set forward, combatants.[A charge sounded.

Stay, stay, the king hath thrown his warder down.

K. Rich.Let them lay by their helmets and their spears,

And both return back to their chairs again:

Withdraw with us; and let the trumpets sound

While we return these dukes what we decree.[A long flourish.

[To the Combatants.]Draw near,

And list what with our council we have done.

For that our kingdom’s earth should not be soil’d

With that dear blood which it hath fostered;

And for our eyes do hate the dire aspect

Of civil wounds plough’d up with neighbours’ swords;

And for we think the eagle-winged pride

Of sky-aspiring and ambitious thoughts,

With rival-hating envy, set on you

To wake our peace, which in our country’s cradle

Draws the sweet infant breath of gentle sleep;

Which so rous’d up with boist’rous untun’d drums,

With harsh-resounding trumpets’ dreadful bray,

And grating shock of wrathful iron arms,

Might from our quiet confines fright fair peace

And make us wade even in our kindred’s blood:

Therefore, we banish you our territories:

You, cousin Hereford, upon pain of life,

Till twice five summers have enrich’d our fields,

Shall not regreet our fair dominions,

But tread the stranger paths of banishment.

Boling.Your will be done: this must my comfort be,

That sun that warms you here shall shine on me;

And those his golden beams to you here lent

Shall point on me and gild my banishment.

K. Rich.Norfolk, for thee remains a heavier doom,

Which I with some unwillingness pronounce:

The sly slow hours shall not determinate

The dateless limit of thy dear exile;

The hopeless word of ‘never to return’

Breathe I against thee, upon pain of life.

Mow.A heavy sentence, my most sovereign liege,

And all unlook’d for from your highness’ mouth:

A dearer merit, not so deep a maim

As to be cast forth in the common air,

Have I deserved at your highness’ hands.

The language I have learn’d these forty years,

My native English, now I must forego;

And now my tongue’s use is to me no more

Than an unstringed viol or a harp,

Or like a cunning instrument cas’d up,

Or, being open, put into his hands

That knows no touch to tune the harmony:

Within my mouth you have engaol’d my tongue,

Doubly portcullis’d with my teeth and lips;

And dull, unfeeling, barren ignorance

Is made my gaoler to attend on me.

I am too old to fawn upon a nurse,

Too far in years to be a pupil now:

What is thy sentence then but speechless death,

Which robs my tongue from breathing native breath?

K. Rich.It boots thee not to be compassionate:

After our sentence plaining comes too late.

Mow.Then, thus I turn me from my country’s light,

To dwell in solemn shades of endless night.[Retiring.

K. Rich.Return again, and take an oath with thee.

Lay on our royal sword your banish’d hands;

Swear by the duty that you owe to God—

Our part therein we banish with yourselves—

To keep the oath that we administer:

You never shall,—so help you truth and God!—

Embrace each other’s love in banishment;

Nor never look upon each other’s face;

Nor never write, regreet, nor reconcile

This low’ring tempest of your home-bred hate;

Nor never by advised purpose meet

To plot, contrive, or complot any ill

’Gainst us, our state, our subjects, or our land.

Boling.I swear.

Mow.And I, to keep all this.

Boling.Norfolk, so far, as to mine enemy:—

By this time, had the king permitted us,

One of our souls had wander’d in the air,

Banish’d this frail sepulchre of our flesh,

As now our flesh is banish’d from this land:

Confess thy treasons ere thou fly the realm;

Since thou hast far to go, bear not along

The clogging burden of a guilty soul.

Mow.No, Bolingbroke: if ever I were traitor,

My name be blotted from the book of life,

And I from heaven banish’d as from hence!

But what thou art, God, thou, and I do know;

And all too soon, I fear, the king shall rue.

Farewell, my liege. Now no way can I stray;

Save back to England, all the world’s my way.[Exit.

K. Rich.Uncle, even in the glasses of thine eyes

I see thy grieved heart: thy sad aspect

Hath from the number of his banish’d years

Pluck’d four away.—[To BOLINGBROKE.]Six frozen winters spent,

Return with welcome home from banishment.

Boling.How long a time lies in one little word!

Four lagging winters and four wanton springs

End in a word: such is the breath of kings.

Gaunt.I thank my liege, that in regard of me

He shortens four years of my son’s exile;

But little vantage shall I reap thereby:

For, ere the six years that he hath to spend

Can change their moons and bring their times about,

My oil-dried lamp and time-bewasted light

Shall be extinct with age and endless night;

My inch of taper will be burnt and done,

And blindfold death not let me see my son.

K. Rich.Why, uncle, thou hast many years to live.

Gaunt.But not a minute, king, that thou canst give:

Shorten my days thou canst with sullen sorrow,

And pluck nights from me, but not lend a morrow;

Thou canst help time to furrow me with age.

But stop no wrinkle in his pilgrimage;

Thy word is current with him for my death,

But dead, thy kingdom cannot buy my breath.

K. Rich.Thy son is banish’d upon good advice,

Whereto thy tongue a party-verdict gave:

Why at our justice seem’st thou then to lower?

Gaunt.Things sweet to taste prove in digestion sour.

You urg’d me as a judge; but I had rather

You would have bid me argue like a father.

O! had it been a stranger, not my child,

To smooth his fault I should have been more mild:

A partial slander sought I to avoid,

And in the sentence my own life destroy’d.

Alas! I look’d when some of you should say,

I was too strict to make mine own away;

But you gave leave to my unwilling tongue

Against my will to do myself this wrong.

K. Rich.Cousin, farewell; and, uncle, bid him so:

Six years we banish him, and he shall go.[Flourish. Exeunt KING RICHARD and Train.

Aum.Cousin, farewell: what presence must not know,

From where you do remain let paper show.

Mar.My lord, no leave take I; for I will ride,

As far as land will let me, by your side.

Gaunt.O! to what purpose dost thou hoard thy words,

That thou return’st no greeting to thy friends?

Boling.I have too few to take my leave of you,

When the tongue’s office should be prodigal

To breathe the abundant dolour of the heart.

Gaunt.Thy grief is but thy absence for a time.

Boling.Joy absent, grief is present for that time.

Gaunt.What is six winters? they are quickly gone.

Boling.To men in joy; but grief makes one hour ten.

Gaunt.Call it a travel that thou tak’st for pleasure.

Boling.My heart will sigh when I miscall it so,

Which finds it an inforced pilgrimage.

Gaunt.The sullen passage of thy weary steps

Esteem as foil wherein thou art to set

The precious jewel of thy home return.

Boling.Nay, rather, every tedious stride I make

Will but remember me what a deal of world

I wander from the jewels that I love.

Must I not serve a long apprenticehood

To foreign passages, and in the end,

Having my freedom, boast of nothing else

But that I was a journeyman to grief?

Gaunt.All places that the eye of heaven visits

Are to a wise man ports and happy havens.

Teach thy necessity to reason thus;

There is no virtue like necessity.

Think not the king did banish thee,

But thou the king. Woe doth the heavier sit,

Where it perceives it is but faintly borne.

Go, say I sent thee forth to purchase honour,

And not the king exil’d thee; or suppose

Devouring pestilence hangs in our air,

And thou art flying to a fresher clime.

Look, what thy soul holds dear, imagine it

To lie that way thou go’st, not whence thou com’st.

Suppose the singing birds musicians,

The grass whereon thou tread’st the presence strew’d,

The flowers fair ladies, and thy steps no more

Than a delightful measure or a dance;

For gnarling sorrow hath less power to bite

The man that mocks at it and sets it light.

Boling.O! who can hold a fire in his hand

By thinking on the frosty Caucasus?

Or cloy the hungry edge of appetite

By bare imagination of a feast?

Or wallow naked in December snow

By thinking on fantastic summer’s heat?

O, no! the apprehension of the good

Gives but the greater feeling to the worse:

Fell sorrow’s tooth doth never rankle more

Than when it bites, but lanceth not the sore.

Gaunt.Come, come, my son, I’ll bring thee on thy way.

Had I thy youth and cause, I would not stay.

Boling.Then, England’s ground, farewell; sweet soil, adieu:

My mother, and my nurse, that bears me yet!

Where’er I wander, boast of this I can,

Though banish’d, yet a true-born Englishman.[Exeunt.