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

Act II. Scene II.

The Tragedy of King Richard the Second

The Same.A Room in the Palace.


Bushy.Madam, your majesty is too much sad:

You promis’d, when you parted with the king,

To lay aside life-harming heaviness,

And entertain a cheerful disposition.

Queen.To please the king I did; to please myself

I cannot do it; yet I know no cause

Why I should welcome such a guest as grief,

Save bidding farewell to so sweet a guest

As my sweet Richard: yet, again, methinks,

Some unborn sorrow, ripe in fortune’s womb,

Is coming towards me, and my inward soul

With nothing trembles; at some thing it grieves

More than with parting from my lord the king.

Bushy.Each substance of a grief hath twenty shadows,

Which show like grief itself, but are not so.

For sorrow’s eye, glazed with blinding tears,

Divides one thing entire to many objects;

Like perspectives, which rightly gaz’d upon

Show nothing but confusion; ey’d awry

Distinguish form: so your sweet majesty,

Looking awry upon your lord’s departure,

Finds shapes of grief more than himself to wail;

Which, look’d on as it is, is nought but shadows

Of what it is not. Then, thrice-gracious queen,

More than your lord’s departure weep not: more’s not seen;

Or if it be, ’tis with false sorrow’s eye,

Which for things true weeps things imaginary.

Queen.It may be so; but yet my inward soul

Persuades me it is otherwise: howe’er it be,

I cannot but be sad, so heavy sad,

As, though in thinking on no thought I think,

Makes me with heavy nothing faint and shrink.

Bushy.’Tis nothing but conceit, my gracious lady.

Queen.’Tis nothing less: conceit is still deriv’d

From some forefather grief; mine is not so,

For nothing hath begot my something grief;

Or something hath the nothing that I grieve:

’Tis in reversion that I do possess;

But what it is, that is not yet known; what

I cannot name; ’tis nameless woe, I wot.

Enter GREEN.

Green.God save your majesty! and well met, gentlemen:

I hope the king is not yet shipp’d for Ireland.

Queen.Why hop’st thou so? ’tis better hope he is,

For his designs crave haste, his haste good hope:

Then wherefore dost thou hope he is not shipp’d?

Green.That he, our hope, might have retir’d his power,

And driven into despair an enemy’s hope,

Who strongly hath set footing in this land:

The banish’d Bolingbroke repeals himself,

And with uplifted arms is safe arriv’d

At Ravenspurgh.

Queen.Now God in heaven forbid!

Green.Ah! madam, ’tis too true: and that is worse,

The Lord Northumberland, his son young Henry Percy,

The Lords of Ross, Beaumond, and Willoughby,

With all their powerful friends, are fled to him.

Bushy.Why have you not proclaim’d Northumberland

And all the rest of the revolted faction traitors?

Green.We have: whereupon the Earl of Worcester

Hath broke his staff, resign’d his stewardship,

And all the household servants fled with him

To Bolingbroke.

Queen.So, Green, thou art the midwife to my woe,

And Bolingbroke my sorrow’s dismal heir:

Now hath my soul brought forth her prodigy,

And I, a gasping new-deliver’d mother,

Have woe to woe, sorrow to sorrow join’d.

Bushy.Despair not, madam.

Queen.Who shall hinder me?

I will despair, and be at enmity

With cozening hope: he is a flatterer,

A parasite, a keeper-back of death,

Who gently would dissolve the bands of life,

Which false hope lingers in extremity.

Enter YORK.

Green.Here comes the Duke of York.

Queen.With signs of war about his aged neck:

O! full of careful business are his looks.

Uncle, for God’s sake, speak comfortable words.

York.Should I do so, I should belie my thoughts:

Comfort’s in heaven; and we are on the earth,

Where nothing lives but crosses, cares, and grief.

Your husband, he is gone to save far off,

Whilst others come to make him lose at home:

Here am I left to underprop his land,

Who, weak with age, cannot support myself.

Now comes the sick hour that his surfeit made;

Now shall he try his friends that flatter’d him.

Enter a Servant.

Serv.My lord, your son was gone before I came.

York.He was? Why, so! go all which way it will!

The nobles they are fled, the commons they are cold,

And will, I fear, revolt on Hereford’s side.

Sirrah, get thee to Plashy, to my sister Gloucester;

Bid her send me presently a thousand pound.

Hold, take my ring.

Serv.My lord, I had forgot to tell your lordship:

To-day, as I came by, I called there;

But I shall grieve you to report the rest.

York.What is ’t, knave?

Serv.An hour before I came the duchess died.

York.God for his mercy! what a tide of woes

Comes rushing on this woeful land at once!

I know not what to do: I would to God,—

So my untruth had not provok’d him to it,—

The king had cut off my head with my brother’s.

What! are there no posts dispatch’d for Ireland?

How shall we do for money for these wars?

Come, sister,—cousin, I would say,—pray, pardon me.—

Go, fellow, get thee home; provide some carts

And bring away the armour that is there.[Exit Servant.

Gentlemen, will you go muster men? If I know

How or which way to order these affairs

Thus thrust disorderly into my hands,

Never believe me. Both are my kinsmen:

The one is my sovereign, whom both my oath

And duty bids defend; the other again

Is my kinsman, whom the king hath wrong’d,

Whom conscience and my kindred bids to right.

Well, somewhat we must do. Come, cousin,

I’ll dispose of you. Gentlemen, go muster up your men,

And meet me presently at Berkeley Castle.

I should to Plashy too:

But time will not permit. All is uneven,

And every thing is left at six and seven.[Exeunt YORK and QUEEN.

Bushy.The wind sits fair for news to go to Ireland,

But none returns. For us to levy power

Proportionable to the enemy

Is all unpossible.

Green.Besides, our nearness to the king in love

Is near the hate of those love not the king.

Bagot.And that’s the wavering commons; for their love

Lies in their purses, and whoso empties them,

By so much fills their hearts with deadly hate.

Bushy.Wherein the king stands generally condemn’d.

Bagot.If judgment lie in them, then so do we,

Because we ever have been near the king.

Green.Well, I’ll for refuge straight to Bristol Castle;

The Earl of Wiltshire is already there.

Bushy.Thither will I with you; for little office

Will the hateful commons perform for us,

Except like curs to tear us all to pieces.

Will you go along with us?

Bagot.No; I will to Ireland to his majesty.

Farewell: if heart’s presages be not vain,

We three here part that ne’er shall meet again.

Bushy.That’s as York thrives to beat back Bolingbroke.

Green.Alas, poor duke! the task he undertakes

Is numbering sands and drinking oceans dry:

Where one on his side fights, thousands will fly.

Farewell at once; for once, for all, and ever.

Bushy.Well, we may meet again.

Bagot.I fear me, never.[Exeunt.