Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Catherine Lisak
Not Peer Reviewed

Richard II (Modern)


1
[1.1]
Enter King Richard, John of Gaunt, [and lord Marshal], with other nobles and attendants.
King Richard
5Old John of Gaunt, time-honored Lancaster,
Hast thou, according to thy oath and bond,
Brought hither Henry Hereford, thy bold son,
Here to make good the boist'rous late appeal,
Which then our leisure would not let us hear,
10Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray?
Gaunt I have, my liege.
King Richard Tell me, moreover, hast thou sounded him
If he appeal the Duke on ancient malice,
Or worthily, as a good subject should,
15On some known ground of treachery in him?
Gaunt As near as I could sift him on that argument,
On some apparent danger seen in him
Aimed at your highness; no inveterate malice.
King Richard
Then call them to our presence. [Exit one or more attendants.]
Face to face,
20And frowning brow to brow, ourselves will hear
The accuser and the accusèd freely speak.
High-stomached are they both and full of ire,
In rage, deaf as the sea, hasty as fire.
Enter Bolingbroke and Mowbray [with attendants].
25Bolingbroke Many years of happy days befall
My gracious sovereign, my most loving liege!
Mowbray Each day still better other's happiness,
Until the heavens, envying earth's good hap,
Add an immortal title to your crown!
30King Richard We thank you both. Yet one but flatters us,
As well appeareth by the cause you come,
Namely, to appeal each other of high treason. --
Cousin of Hereford, what dost thou object
Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray?
35Bolingbroke First -- heaven be the record to my speech! --
In the devotion of a subject's love,
Tend'ring the precious safety of my prince,
And free from other misbegotten hate,
Come I appellant to this princely presence. --
40Now, 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.
Thou art a traitor and a miscreant,
45Too good to be so, and too bad to live,
Since the more fair and crystal is the sky,
The uglier seem the clouds that in it fly.
Once more, the more to aggravate the note,
With a foul traitor's name stuff I thy throat,
50And wish -- so please my sovereign -- ere I move,
What my tongue speaks, my right-drawn sword may prove.
Mowbray Let not my cold words here accuse my zeal.
'Tis not the trial of a woman's war,
The bitter clamor of two eager tongues,
55Can arbitrate this cause betwixt us twain.
The blood is hot that must be cooled for this.
Yet can I not of such tame patience boast
As to be hushed and naught at all to say.
First, the fair reverence of your highness curbs me
60From giving reins and spurs to my free speech,
Which else would post until it had returned
These terms of treason doubled down his throat.
Setting aside his high blood's royalty,
And let him be no kinsman to my liege,
65I do defy him, and I spit at him,
Call him a slanderous coward and a villain;
Which to maintain, I would allow him odds
And meet him, were I tied to run afoot
Even to the frozen ridges of the Alps,
70Or any other ground inhabitable,
Wherever Englishman durst set his foot.
Meantime, let this defend my loyalty:
By all my hopes, most falsely doth he lie.
Bolingbroke [Throwing down his gage] Pale trembling coward, there I throw my gage,
75Disclaiming here the kindred of the King,
And lay aside my high blood's royalty,
Which fear, not reverence, makes thee to except.
If guilty dread have left thee so much strength
As to take up mine honor's pawn, then stoop.
80By that and all the rites of knighthood else
Will I make good against thee, arm to arm,
What I have spoke or thou canst worse devise.
Mowbray [Taking up the gage] I take it up; and by that sword I swear
Which gently laid my knighthood on my shoulder,
85I'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!
King Richard [To Bolingbroke] What doth our cousin lay to Mowbray's charge?
90It must be great that can inherit us
So much as of a thought of ill in him.
Bolingbroke Look what I speak, my life shall prove it true:
That Mowbray hath received eight thousand nobles
In name of lendings for your highness' soldiers,
95The which he hath detained for lewd 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,
100That all the treasons for these eighteen years
Complotted and contrivèd 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,
105That he did plot the Duke of Gloucester's death,
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
110Even from the tongueless caverns of the earth
To me for justice and rough chastisement.
And, by the glorious worth of my descent,
This arm shall do it, or this life be spent.
King Richard How high a pitch his resolution soars! --
115Thomas of Norfolk, what say'st thou to this?
Mowbray Oh, 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
How God and good men hate so foul a liar!
120King Richard 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 scepter's awe I make a vow,
Such neighbor nearness to our sacred blood
125Should 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.
Mowbray Then, Bolingbroke, as low as to thy heart
130Through 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
135Upon remainder of a dear account
Since last I went to France to fetch his queen.
Now swallow down that lie! For Gloucester's death,
I slew him not, but to my own disgrace
Neglected my sworn duty in that case. --
140For you, my noble lord of Lancaster,
The honorable father to my foe,
Once did I lay an ambush for your life,
A trespass that doth vex my grievèd soul;
But ere I last received the sacrament,
145I 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,
It issues from the rancor of a villain,
A recreant, and most degenerate traitor,
150Which in myself I boldly will defend,
And interchangeably hurl down my gage
Upon this overweening traitor's foot, [He throws down his gage.]
To prove myself a loyal gentleman,
Even in the best blood chambered in his bosom;
155In haste whereof most heartily I pray
Your highness to assign our trial day.
[Bolingbroke picks up the gage.]
King Richard Wrath-kindled gentlemen, be ruled by me.
Let's purge this choler without letting blood.
This we prescribe, though no physician.
160Deep malice makes too deep incision.
Forget, forgive; conclude and be agreed.
Our doctors say this is no month to bleed. --
Good uncle, let this end where it begun.
We'll calm the Duke of Norfolk, you your son.
165Gaunt To be a make-peace shall become my age. --
Throw down, my son, the Duke of Norfolk's gage.
King Richard
And, Norfolk, throw down his.
Gaunt
When, Harry, when?
Obedience bids I should not bid again.
170King Richard Norfolk, throw down, we bid; there is no boot.
Mowbray Myself I throw, dread sovereign, at thy foot. [He kneels.]
My life thou shalt command, but not my shame.
The one my duty owes, but my fair name,
175Despite of death that lives upon my grave,
To dark dishonor's use thou shalt not have.
I am disgraced, impeached, and baffled here,
Pierced to the soul with slander's venomed spear,
The which no balm can cure but his heart-blood
180Which breathed this poison.
King Richard
Rage must be withstood. [He holds out his hand.]
Give me his gage. Lions make leopards tame.
Mowbray Yea, but not change his spots. Take but my shame,
And I resign my gage. My dear dear lord,
185The 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.
190Mine 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.
King Richard [To Bolingbroke] Cousin, throw up your gage. Do you begin.
Bolingbroke O God defend my soul from such deep sin!
Shall I seem crestfallen in my father's sight?
Or with pale beggar-fear impeach my height
Before this out-dared dastard? Ere my tongue
200Shall wound my 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.]
King Richard We were not born to sue, but to command;
Which since we cannot do to make you friends,
Be ready, as your lives shall answer it
At Coventry, upon Saint Lambert's day.
210There shall your swords and lances arbitrate
The swelling difference of your settled hate.
Since we cannot atone you, we shall see
Justice design the victor's chivalry. --
Lord Marshal, command our officers-at-arms 215Be ready to direct these home alarms.
[Exeunt].