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herents behave towards him as if he really were so, he still continues to give out that he comes with an armed band, merely for the sake of demanding his birthright and the removal of abuses. The usurpation has been long completed before the word is pronounced, and the thing publicly avowed. John of Gaunt is a model of chivalrous truth: he stands there like a pillar of the olden time which he had outlived."*
This drama abounds in passages of eminent poetical beauty; among which every reader will recollect the pathetic description of Richard's entrance into London with Bolingbroke, of which Dryden said that “he knew nothing comparable to it in any other language;" John of Gaunt's praise of England,
“Dear for her reputation through the world;"
and Mowbray's complaint at being banished for life.
* Schlegels Lectures on Dramatic Literature, vol. il. p. 224.
King RICHARD THE SECOND.
to John of Gaunt; afterwards King Henry IV.
Queen to King Richard.
Lords, Heralds, Officers, Soldiers, two Gardeners, Keeper,
Messenger, Groom, and other Attendants.
SCENE, dispersedly in England and Wales.
KING RICHARD II.
Enter King Richard, attended ; John of Gaunt, and
other Nobles with him. King Richard. Old John of Gaunt, time-honored
Gaunt. I have, my liege.
K. Rich. Tell me, moreover, hast thou sounded him, If he appeal the duke on ancient malice; Or worthily, as a good subject should, On some known ground of treachery in him?
1“ Old John of Gaunt, time-honored Lancaster." Our ancestors, in their estimate of old age, appear to have reckoned somewhat differently from us, and to have considered men as old whom we should now esteem as middle-aged. With them, every man that had passed fifty seems to have been accounted an old man. John of Gaunt, at the period when the commencement of this play is laid (1398), was only fifty-eight years old: he died in 1399, aged fifty-nine. This may have arisen from its being customary in former times to enter life at an earlier period than we do now. Those who married at fifteen, had at fifty been masters of a house and family for thirty-five years.
2 When these public challenges were accepted, each combatant found a pledge for his appearance at the time and place appointed. Band and bond were formerly synonymous.
3 In the old play, and in Harding's Chronicle, Bolingbroke's title is written Herford and Harford. This was the pronunciation of our Poet's time, and he therefore uses this word as a dissyllable.
Gaunt. As near as I could sift him on that argu
ment, - . On some apparent danger seen in him, Aimed at your highness; no inveterate malice. K. Rich. Then call them to our presence; face to
face, And frowning brow to brow, ourselves will hear The accuser, and the accused, freely speak.
Exeunt some Attendants. High stomached are they both, and full of ire,
Re-enter Attendants, with BolingBROKE' and Non
Nor. Each day still better other's happiness,
K. Rich. We thank you both; yet one but flatters us, As well appeareth by the cause you come : 2 Namely, to appeal each other of high treason.Cousin of Hereford, what dost thou object Against the duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray ?
Boling. First, (Heaven be the record to my speech!) In the devotion of a subject's love, Tendering the precious safety of my prince, And free from other misbegotten hate, Come I appellant to this princely presence.Now, Thomas Mowbray, do I turn to thee ; And mark my greeting well ; for what I speak, My body shall make good upon this earth, Or my divine soul answer it in heaven.
1 Drayton asserts that Henry Plantagenet, the eldest son of John of Gaunt, was not distinguished by the name of Bolingbroke till after he had assumed the crown. He is called earl of Hereford by the old historians, and was surnamed Bolingbroke from having been born at the town of that name in Lincolnshire, about 1366.
2 i. e. “ by the cause you come on.” The suppression of the preposition has been shown to have been frequent with Shakspeare.
Thou art a traitor, and a miscreant;
1 My right-drawn sword is my sword drawn in a right or just cause. 2 i. e. uninhabitable.
VOL. III. 46