Internet Shakespeare Editions

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  • Title: Richard II (Modern)
  • Editor: Catherine Lisak
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-436-3

    Copyright Internet Shakespeare Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-proift purposes; for all other uses contact the Coordinating Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Catherine Lisak
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Richard II (Modern)

    [Drums. Flourish and colors.]
    Enter King [Richard,] Aumerle, Carlisle, etc.[, and soldiers.]
    King Richard
    Barkloughly Castle call they this at hand?
    Yea, my lord. How brooks your grace the air
    After your late tossing on the breaking seas?
    King Richard
    Needs must I like it well. I weep for joy
    1365To stand upon my kingdom once again.
    [He places his hand on the ground.]
    Dear earth, I do salute thee with my hand,
    Though rebels wound thee with their horses' hoofs.
    As a long-parted mother with her child
    Plays fondly with her tears and smiles in meeting,
    1370So weeping, smiling, greet I thee, my earth,
    And do thee favors with my royal hands.
    Feed not thy sovereign's foe, my gentle earth,
    Nor with thy sweets comfort his ravenous sense,
    But let thy spiders that suck up thy venom
    1375And heavy-gaited toads, lie in their way,
    Doing annoyance to the treacherous feet
    Which with usurping steps do trample thee.
    Yield stinging nettles to mine enemies,
    And when they from thy bosom pluck a flower,
    1380Guard it, I pray thee, with a lurking adder
    Whose double tongue may with a mortal touch
    Throw death upon thy sovereign's enemies.
    Mock not my senseless conjuration, lords.
    This earth shall have a feeling, and these stones
    1385Prove armèd soldiers, ere her native king
    Shall falter under foul rebellion's arms.
    Fear not, my lord. That power that made you king
    Hath power to keep you king in spite of all.
    1388.1The means that heavens yield must be embraced
    And not neglected; else heaven would,
    And we will not. Heaven's offer we refuse,
    The proffered means of succor and redress.
    He means, my lord, that we are too remiss,
    1390Whilst Bolingbroke, through our security,
    Grows strong and great in substance and in power.
    King Richard
    Discomfortable cousin! Know'st thou not
    That when the searching eye of heaven is hid
    Behind the globe that lights the lower world,
    1395Then thieves and robbers range abroad unseen
    In murders and in outrage boldly here?
    But when from under this terrestrial ball
    He fires the proud tops of the eastern pines
    And darts his light through every guilty hole,
    1400Then murders, treasons, and detested sins,
    The cloak of night being plucked from off their backs,
    Stand bare and naked, trembling at themselves?
    So when this thief, this traitor, Bolingbroke,
    Who all this while hath reveled in the night
    1404.1Whilst we were wand'ring with the Antipodes,
    1405Shall see us rising in our throne, the east,
    His treasons will sit blushing in his face,
    Not able to endure the sight of day,
    But, self-affrighted, tremble at his sin.
    Not all the water in the rough rude sea
    1410Can wash the balm off from an anointed king.
    The breath of worldly men cannot depose
    The deputy elected by the lord.
    For every man that Bolingbroke hath pressed
    To lift shrewd steel against our golden crown,
    1415God for his Richard hath in heavenly pay
    A glorious angel. Then, if angels fight,
    Weak men must fall, for heaven still guards the right.
    Enter Salisbury.
    King Richard
    Welcome, my lord. How far off lies your power?
    Nor near nor farther off, my gracious lord,
    Than this weak arm. Discomfort guides my tongue
    And bids me speak of nothing but despair.
    One day too late, I fear me, noble lord,
    Hath clouded all thy happy days on earth.
    1425Oh, call back yesterday, bid time return,
    And thou shalt have twelve thousand fighting men!
    Today, today, unhappy day too late,
    O'erthrows thy joys, friends, fortune, and thy state;
    For all the Welshmen, hearing thou wert dead,
    1430Are gone to Bolingbroke, dispersed, and fled.
    Comfort, my liege. Why looks your grace so pale?
    King Richard
    But now the blood of twenty thousand men
    Did triumph in my face, and they are fled;
    1435And till so much blood thither come again,
    Have I not reason to look pale and dead?
    All souls that will be safe, fly from my side,
    For time hath set a blot upon my pride.
    Comfort, my liege. Remember who you are.
    1440King Richard
    I had forgot myself. Am I not King?
    Awake, thou coward majesty, thou sleepest!
    Is not the King's name twenty thousand names?
    Arm, arm, my name! A puny subject strikes
    At thy great glory. Look not to the ground,
    1445Ye favorites of a king. Are we not high?
    High be our thoughts! I know my uncle York
    Hath power enough to serve our turn. -- But who comes here?
    Enter [Sir Stephen] Scroop.
    More health and happiness betide my liege
    1450Than can my care-tuned tongue deliver him.
    King Richard
    Mine ear is open and my heart prepared.
    The worst is worldly loss thou canst unfold.
    Say, is my kingdom lost? Why, 'twas my care,
    And what loss is it to be rid of care?
    1455Strives Bolingbroke to be as great as we?
    Greater he shall not be. If he serve God,
    We'll serve Him too, and be his fellow so.
    Revolt our subjects? That we cannot mend.
    They break their faith to God as well as us.
    1460Cry woe, destruction, ruin, and decay.
    The worst is death, and death will have his day.
    Glad am I that your highness is so armed
    To bear the tidings of calamity.
    Like an unseasonable stormy day,
    1465Which makes the silver rivers drown their shores
    As if the world were all dissolved to tears,
    So high above his limits swells the rage
    Of Bolingbroke, covering your fearful land
    With hard bright steel, and hearts harder than steel.
    1470Whitebeards have armed their thin and hairless scalps
    Against thy majesty; boys with women's voices
    Strive to speak big, and clap their female joints
    In stiff unwieldy arms against thy crown.
    Thy very beadsmen learn to bend their bows
    1475Of double-fatal yew against thy state.
    Yea, distaff-women manage rusty bills
    Against thy seat. Both young and old rebel,
    And all goes worse than I have power to tell.
    King Richard
    Too well, too well thou tell'st a tale so ill.
    1480Where is the Earl of Wiltshire? Where is Bagot?
    What is become of Bushy? Where is Green,
    That they have let the dangerous enemy
    Measure our confines with such peaceful steps?
    If we prevail, their heads shall pay for it!
    1485I warrant they have made peace with Bolingbroke.
    Peace have they made with him indeed, my lord.
    King Richard
    Oh villains, vipers, damned without redemption!
    Dogs easily won to fawn on any man!
    1490Snakes, in my heart-blood warmed, that sting my heart!
    Three Judases, each one thrice worse than Judas!
    Would they make peace? Terrible hell
    Make war upon their spotted souls for this!
    Sweet love, I see, changing his property,
    1495Turns to the sourest and most deadly hate.
    Again uncurse their souls. Their peace is made
    With heads, and not with hands. Those whom you curse
    Have felt the worst of death's destroying wound
    And lie full low, graved in the hollow ground.
    Is Bushy, Green, and the Earl of Wiltshire dead?
    Ay, all of them at Bristol lost their heads.
    Where is the Duke my father with his power?
    King Richard
    No matter where. Of comfort no man speak!
    1505Let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs,
    Make dust our paper, and with rainy eyes
    Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth.
    Let's choose executors and talk of wills.
    And yet not so, for what can we bequeath
    1510Save our deposèd bodies to the ground?
    Our lands, our lives, and all are Bolingbroke's,
    And nothing can we call our own but death,
    And that small model of the barren earth
    Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
    1515For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground
    And tell sad stories of the death of kings --
    How some have been deposed, some slain in war,
    Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed,
    Some poisoned by their wives, some sleeping killed --
    1520All murdered. For within the hollow crown
    That rounds the mortal temples of a king
    Keeps death his court; and there the antic sits,
    Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
    Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
    1525To monarchize, be feared, and kill with looks,
    Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
    As if this flesh which walls about our life
    Were brass impregnable; and humored thus,
    Comes at the last, and with a little pin
    1530Bores thorough his castle wall, and -- farewell, king!
    Cover your heads, and mock not flesh and blood
    With solemn reverence. Throw away respect,
    Tradition, form, and ceremonious duty,
    For you have but mistook me all this while.
    1535I live with bread like you, feel want,
    Taste grief, need friends. Subjected thus,
    How can you say to me I am a king?
    My lord, wise men ne'er sit and wail their woes,
    But presently prevent the ways to wail.
    1540To fear the foe, since fear oppresseth strength,
    Gives in your weakness strength unto your foe,
    1541.1And so your follies fight against yourself.
    Fear, and be slain. No worse can come to fight;
    And fight and die is death destroying death,
    Where fearing dying pays death servile breath.
    My father hath a power. Inquire of him,
    And learn to make a body of a limb.
    King Richard
    Thou chid'st me well. -- Proud Bolingbroke, I come
    To change blows with thee for our day of doom. --
    This ague fit of fear is overblown.
    1550An easy task it is to win our own. --
    Say, Scroop, where lies our uncle with his power?
    Speak sweetly, man, although thy looks be sour.
    Men judge by the complexion of the sky
    The state and inclination of the day;
    1555So may you by my dull and heavy eye.
    My tongue hath but a heavier tale to say.
    I play the torturer by small and small
    To lengthen out the worst that must be spoken.
    Your uncle York is joined with Bolingbroke,
    1560And all your northern castles yielded up,
    And all your southern gentlemen in arms
    Upon his party.
    King Richard
    Thou hast said enough.
    [To Aumerle] Beshrew thee, cousin, which didst lead me forth
    1565Of that sweet way I was in to despair.
    What say you now? What comfort have we now?
    By heaven, I'll hate him everlastingly
    That bids me be of comfort any more.
    Go to Flint Castle. There I'll pine away.
    1570A king, woe's slave, shall kingly woe obey.
    That power I have, discharge, and let them go
    To ear the land that hath some hope to grow,
    For I have none. Let no man speak again
    To alter this, for counsel is but vain.
    My liege, one word.
    King Richard
    He does me double wrong
    That wounds me with the flatteries of his tongue.
    Discharge my followers. Let them hence away,
    From Richard's night to Bolingbroke's fair day.