Page images

As to take up mine honor's pawn, then stoop;
By that, and all the rites of knighthood else,
Will I make good against thee, arm to arm,
What I have spoke, or thou canst worst devise.
Nor. I take it up; and, by that sword I swear,
Which gently laid my knighthood on my shoulder,
I'll answer thee in any fair degree,

Or chivalrous design of knightly trial;

And, when I mount, alive may I not light,
If I be traitor, or unjustly fight!

K. Rich. What doth our cousin lay to Mowbray's charge?

It must be great, that can inherit1 us

So much as of a thought of ill in him.

Boling. Look, what I speak my life shall prove it


That Mowbray hath received eight thousand nobles,
In name of lendings for your highness' soldiers;
The which he hath detained for lewd 2 employments,
Like a false traitor, and injurious villain.
Besides I say, and will in battle prove,-
Or here, or elsewhere, to the furthest verge
That ever was surveyed by English eye,―
That all the treasons for these eighteen years
Complotted and contrived in this land,

Fetch from false Mowbray their first head and spring.
Further I say,—and further will maintain

Upon his bad life, to make all this good,

That he did plot the duke of Gloster's death; 3

Suggest his soon-believing adversaries;

And, consequently, like a traitor coward,

Sluiced out his innocent soul through streams of blood;
Which blood, like sacrificing Abel's, cries,
Even from the tongueless caverns of the earth,
To me for justice, and rough chastisement;

1 To inherit, in the language of Shakspeare, is to possess.

2 Lewd formerly signified knavish, ungracious, naughty, idle, beside its now general acceptation.

3 Thomas of Woodstock, the youngest son of Edward III., who was murdered at Calais in 1397.

4 i. e. prompt them, set them on by injurious hints.

And by the glorious worth of my descent,
This arm shall do it, or this life be spent.

K. Rich. How high a pitch his resolution soars !— Thomas of Norfolk, what say'st thou to this?

Nor. O, let my sovereign turn away his face,
And bid his ears a little while be deaf,
Till I have told this slander of his blood,1

How God, and good men, hate so foul a liar.

K. Rich. Mowbray, impartial are our eyes and ears.
Were he my brother, nay, my kingdom's heir,
(As he is but my father's brother's son,)
Now, by my sceptre's awe, I make a vow,
Such neighbor-nearness to our sacred blood
Should nothing privilege him, nor partialize
The unstooping firmness of my upright soul.
He is our subject, Mowbray; so art thou;
Free speech, and fearless, I to thee allow.

Nor. Then, Bolingbroke, as low as to thy heart,
Through the false passage of thy throat, thou liest!
Three parts of that receipt I had for Calais,
Disbursed I duly to his highness' soldiers:
The other part reserved I by consent;
For that my sovereign liege was in my debt,

Upon remainder of a dear account,

Since last I went to France to fetch his queen.2

Now swallow down that lie.—For Gloster's death,—

I slew him not, but, to my own disgrace,

Neglected my sworn duty in that case.-
For you, my noble lord of Lancaster,

The honorable father to my foe,

Once did I lay in ambush for

your life

A trespass that doth vex my grieved soul;
But, ere I last received the sacrament,

1 Reproach to his ancestry.

2 The duke of Norfolk was joined in commission with Edward, earl of Rutland (the Aumerle of this play), to go to France in the year 1395, to demand in marriage Isabel, eldest daughter of Charles VI., then between seven and eight years of age. Richard was married to his young consort in November, 1396, at Calais; his first wife, Anne, daughter of Charles IV., emperor of Germany, died at Shene, on Whit Sunday, 1394. His marriage with Isabella was merely political: it was accompanied with an agreement for a truce between France and England for thirty years.

I did confess it; and exactly begged
Your grace's pardon, and, I hope, I had it.
This is my fault. As for the rest appealed,1
It issues from the rancor of a villain,
A recreant and most degenerate traitor;
Which in myself I boldly will defend;
And interchangeably hurl down my gage
Upon this overweening traitor's foot,
To prove myself a loyal gentleman

Even in the best blood chambered in his bosom.
In haste whereof, most heartily I pray

Your highness to assign our trial day.


K. Rich. Wrath-kindled gentlemen, be ruled by me. Let's purge this choler without letting blood: This we prescribe, though no physician; Deep malice makes too deep incision: Forget, forgive; conclude, and be agreed; Our doctors say, this is no time to bleed.— Good uncle, let this end where it begun; We'll calm the duke of Norfolk, you your son. Gaunt. To be a make-peace shall become my age. Throw down, my son, the duke of Norfolk's gage. K. Rich. And, Norfolk, throw down his.

Gaunt. When, Harry? when?3

Obedience bids, I should not bid again.

K. Rich. Norfolk, throw down; we bid; there is no boot.1

Nor. Myself I throw, dread sovereign, at thy foot. My life thou shalt command, but not my shame: The one my duty owes; but my fair name (Despite of death, that lives upon my grave) 5 To dark dishonor's use thou shalt not have.

1 Charged.

2 Pope thought that some of the rhyming verses in this play were not from the hand of Shakspeare.

3 This abrupt elliptical exclamation of impatience is again used in the Taming of the Shrew :-"Why, when, I say! Nay, good, sweet Kate, be merry." It appears to be equivalent to "when will such a thing be done?"

4 "There is no boot," or it booteth not, is as much as to say resistance would be profitless.

5 i. e. my name that lives on my grave in despite of death.

I am disgraced, impeached, and baffled1 here;
Pierced to the soul with slander's venomed spear;
The which no balm can cure, but his heart-blood
Which breathed this poison.

K. Rich.

Rage must be withstood; Give me his gage;-Lions make leopards 2 tame. Nor. Yea, but not change their3 spots; take but my


And I resign my gage. My dear, dear lord,
The purest treasure mortal times afford,
Is-spotless reputation; that away,
Men are but gilded loam, or painted clay.
A jewel in a ten times barred up chest
Is-a bold spirit in a loyal breast.
Mine honor is my life; both grow in one;
Take honor from me, and my life is done.
Then, dear my liege, mine honor let me try;
In that I live, and for that will I die.

K. Rich. Cousin, throw down your gage; do you begin.

Boling. O, God defend my soul from such foul sin! Shall I seem crest-fallen in my father's sight? Or with pale beggar-fear impeach my height Before this out-dared dastard! Ere my tongue Shall wound mine honor with such feeble wrong, Or sound so base a parle, my teeth shall tear The slavish motive of recanting fear; And spit it bleeding in his high disgrace,

Where shame doth harbor, even in Mowbray's face.

[Exit GAUNT.

K. Rich. We were not born to sue, but to com


Which since we cannot do to make you friends,
Be ready, as your lives shall answer it,

1 Baffled, in this place, signifies "abused, reviled, reproached in base terms;" which was the ancient signification of the word, as well as to deceive or circumvent.

2 There is an allusion here to the crest of Norfolk, which was a golden leopard.

The old copies have "his spots." The alteration was made by Pope.

At Coventry, upon Saint Lambert's day;
There shall your swords and lances arbitrate
The swelling difference of your settled hate.
Since we cannot atone1 you, we shall see
Justice design the victor's chivalry.—
Lord marshal, command our officers at arms
Be ready to direct these home alarms.



SCENE II. The same. A Room in the Duke of Lancaster's Palace.

Enter GAUNT, and Duchess of Gloster.3


Gaunt. Alas! the part I had in Gloster'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 he sees 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 phials 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 Gloster,One phial full of Edward's sacred blood, One flourishing branch of his most royal root,— Is cracked, and all the precious liquor spilt; Is hacked down, and his summer leaves all faded,

1 i. e. make them friends, reconcile them.

2 To design is to mark out, to show by a token. It is the sense of the Latin designo.

3 The duchess of Gloster was Eleanor Bohun, widow of duke Thomas, son of Edward III.

4 i. e. my relationship of consanguinity to Gloster.

5 The old copy erroneously reads "Who, when they see.”

« PreviousContinue »