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

Act II. Scene III.

The Tragedy of King Richard the Second

The Wolds in Gloucestershire.


Boling.How far is it, my lord, to Berkeley now?

North.Believe me, noble lord,

I am a stranger here in Gloucestershire:

These high wild hills and rough uneven ways

Draw out our miles and make them wearisome;

But yet your fair discourse hath been as sugar,

Making the hard way sweet and delectable.

But I bethink me what a weary way

From Ravenspurgh to Cotswold will be found

In Ross and Willoughby, wanting your company,

Which, I protest, hath very much beguil’d

The tediousness and process of my travel:

But theirs is sweeten’d with the hope to have

The present benefit which I possess;

And hope to joy is little less in joy

Than hope enjoy’d: by this the weary lords

Shall make their way seem short, as mine hath done

By sight of what I have, your noble company.

Boling.Of much less value is my company

Than your good words. But who comes here?


North.It is my son, young Harry Percy,

Sent from my brother Worcester, whencesoever.

Harry, how fares your uncle?

H. Percy.I had thought, my lord, to have learn’d his health of you.

North.Why, is he not with the queen?

H. Percy.No, my good lord; he hath forsook the court,

Broken his staff of office, and dispers’d

The household of the king.

North.What was his reason?

He was not so resolv’d when last we spake together.

H. Percy.Because your lordship was proclaimed traitor.

But he, my lord, is gone to Ravenspurgh,

To offer service to the Duke of Hereford,

And sent me over by Berkeley to discover

What power the Duke of York had levied there;

Then with direction to repair to Ravenspurgh.

North.Have you forgot the Duke of Hereford, boy?

H. Percy.No, my good lord; for that is not forgot

Which ne’er I did remember: to my knowledge

I never in my life did look on him.

North.Then learn to know him now: this is the duke.

H. Percy.My gracious lord, I tender you my service,

Such as it is, being tender, raw, and young,

Which elder days shall ripen and confirm

To more approved service and desert.

Boling.I thank thee, gentle Percy; and be sure

I count myself in nothing else so happy

As in a soul remembering my good friends;

And as my fortune ripens with thy love,

It shall be still thy true love’s recompense:

My heart this covenant makes, my hand thus seals it.

North.How far is it to Berkeley? and what stir

Keeps good old York there with his men of war?

H. Percy.There stands the castle, by yon tuft of trees,

Mann’d with three hundred men, as I have heard;

And in it are the Lords of York, Berkeley, and Seymour;

None else of name and noble estimate.


North.Here come the Lords of Ross and Willoughby,

Bloody with spurring, fiery-red with haste.

Boling.Welcome, my lords. I wot your love pursues

A banish’d traitor; all my treasury

Is yet but unfelt thanks, which, more enrich’d,

Shall be your love and labour’s recompense.

Ross.Your presence makes us rich, most noble lord.

Willo.And far surmounts our labour to attain it.

Boling.Evermore thanks, the exchequer of the poor;

Which, till my infant fortune comes to years,

Stands for my bounty. But who comes here?


North.It is my Lord of Berkeley, as I guess.

Berk.My lord of Hereford, my message is to you.

Boling.My lord, my answer is—to Lancaster;

And I am come to seek that name in England;

And I must find that title in your tongue

Before I make reply to aught you say.

Berk.Mistake me not, my lord; ’tis not my meaning

To raze one title of your honour out:

To you, my lord, I come, what lord you will,

From the most gracious regent of this land,

The Duke of York, to know what pricks you on

To take advantage of the absent time

And fright our native peace with self-born arms.

Enter YORK, attended.

Boling.I shall not need transport my words by you:

Here comes his Grace in person.

My noble uncle![Kneels.

York.Show me thy humble heart, and not thy knee,

Whose duty is deceivable and false.

Boling.My gracious uncle—

York.Tut, tut!

Grace me no grace, nor uncle me no uncle:

I am no traitor’s uncle: and that word ‘grace’

In an ungracious mouth is but profane.

Why have those banish’d and forbidden legs

Dar’d once to touch a dust of England’s ground?

But then, more ‘why?’ why have they dar’d to march

So many miles upon her peaceful bosom,

Frighting her pale-fac’d villages with war

And ostentation of despised arms?

Com’st thou because the anointed king is hence?

Why, foolish boy, the king is left behind,

And in my loyal bosom lies his power.

Were I but now the lord of such hot youth

As when brave Gaunt thy father, and myself,

Rescu’d the Black Prince, that young Mars of men,

From forth the ranks of many thousand French,

O! then, how quickly should this arm of mine,

Now prisoner to the palsy, chastise thee

And minister correction to thy fault!

Boling.My gracious uncle, let me know my fault:

On what condition stands it and wherein?

York.Even in condition of the worst degree,

In gross rebellion and detested treason:

Thou art a banish’d man, and here art come

Before the expiration of thy time,

In braving arms against thy sovereign.

Boling.As I was banish’d, I was banish’d Hereford;

But as I come, I come for Lancaster.

And, noble uncle, I beseech your Grace

Look on my wrongs with an indifferent eye:

You are my father, for methinks in you

I see old Gaunt alive: O! then, my father,

Will you permit that I shall stand condemn’d

A wandering vagabond; my rights and royalties

Pluck’d from my arms perforce and given away

To upstart unthrifts? Wherefore was I born?

If that my cousin king be King of England,

It must be granted I am Duke of Lancaster.

You have a son, Aumerle, my noble kinsman;

Had you first died, and he been thus trod down,

He should have found his uncle Gaunt a father,

To rouse his wrongs and chase them to the bay.

I am denied to sue my livery here,

And yet my letters-patent give me leave:

My father’s goods are all distrain’d and sold,

And these and all are all amiss employ’d.

What would you have me do? I am a subject,

And challenge law: attorneys are denied me,

And therefore personally I lay my claim

To my inheritance of free descent.

North.The noble duke hath been too much abus’d.

Ross.It stands your Grace upon to do him right.

Willo.Base men by his endowments are made great.

York.My lords of England, let me tell you this:

I have had feeling of my cousin’s wrongs,

And labour’d all I could to do him right;

But in this kind to come, in braving arms,

Be his own carver and cut out his way,

To find out right with wrong, it may not be;

And you that do abet him in this kind

Cherish rebellion and are rebels all.

North.The noble duke hath sworn his coming is

But for his own; and for the right of that

We all have strongly sworn to give him aid;

And let him ne’er see joy that breaks that oath!

York.Well, well, I see the issue of these arms:

I cannot mend it, I must needs confess,

Because my power is weak and all ill left;

But if I could, by him that gave me life,

I would attach you all and make you stoop

Unto the sovereign mercy of the king;

But since I cannot, be it known to you

I do remain as neuter. So, fare you well;

Unless you please to enter in the castle

And there repose you for this night.

Boling.An offer, uncle, that we will accept:

But we must win your Grace to go with us

To Bristol Castle; which they say is held

By Bushy, Bagot, and their complices,

The caterpillars of the commonwealth,

Which I have sworn to weed and pluck away.

York.It may be I will go with you; but yet I’ll pause;

For I am loath to break our country’s laws.

Nor friends nor foes, to me welcome you are:

Things past redress are now with me past care.[Exeunt.