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LIFE AND DEATH
KING RICHARD II.
LITERARY AND HISTORICAL NOTICE. TUIE action of this drama comprises little more than the two last years of King Richard's reign. It commences
with Bolinbroke's accusation of treason against Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, in 1398, and terminates with the murder of Richard at Pomfret Castle, about the year 1400. Sbakspeare wrote the play in 1597, deriving his mas terials chiefly from Hollipshed's Chronicle, many passages of which, he has almost literally embodied with his own. The speech of the Bishop of Carlisle, in defence of King Richard's u nalienable right, and immunity from human jurisdiction, is particularly copied from that old writer. The historical points of the tragedy are consequently accurate ; for notwithstanding the Lancasterian prejudices of those who have recorded his reign, Richard was a weak prince, and unfit for government. He had capacity enough, but no solid judgment, nor good education : he was violent in temper, profuse in expence, fond of idle show, devoted to favourites, and addicted to low society. Yet his punishment outbalanced his offence. Dr. Johnson has remarked of this play, that it cannot be said " much to affect the passions, or enlarge the understanding;” but it is impossible to contemplate the ahject degradation of the unfortunate monarch, as drawn by the poet, without questioning the truth and judgment of this critical rescript. In dignity of thought and fertility of expression, it is cer. tainly superior to many of Shakspeare's productions, however it may yield to thein in attractive incident or highly-wrought catastrophe. Yet where can we find a combination of circumstances inore truly pathetic, than those with which Shakspeare has surrounded the short career of Richard, from his landing in Wales, to his murder at Pomfret. If the bitterness of his sorrow when deserted by his friends, and bearded by his barons--if the lowliness and patience of his carriage, whilst exposed to the insults of the rabble, and greeted with the mockery of homage by his aspiring rival --if the majesty of his sentiments, soaring above conscious belplessness or constitutional imbecility.--and if his heroic resistance when despatched by his savage assailants. are not calculated to " affect the passions, or enlarge the understanding," there is no dramatic portraiture that is capable of doing so.
DRAMATIS PERSONÆ. KING RICHARD THE SECOND.
| LORD Ross. EDMUND OP LANGLEY, Duke of
(Uncles to LORD FITZWATER. John of GAUNT, Duke of Lan. ( the King. Bishop of CARLISLE. caster,
| ABBOT OF WESTMINSTER.
reford, Son to John of Gaunt; aster- | SIR PIERCE of Euton.
SIR STEPHEN SCROOP.
QUEEN to King Richard.
DUCHESS OF GLOSTER. EARL BERKLEY.
DUCHESS OF YORK.
Lady attending on the Queen.
Lords, Heralds, Officers, Soldiers, two Gar. EARL OF NORTHUMBERLAND.
deners, Keeper, Messenger, Groom, and HENRY PERCY, his Son.
other Attendants. SCENE, dispersedly in Eugland, and Wales.
| Hast thou, according to thy oath and hand,
Brought hither Henry Hereford thy bold son; SCENE 1.-London.-A Room in the Here to make good the boisterous late apPalace.
Which then our leisure would not let us bear, Enter King RICHARD, attended ; John of
Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mow. GAUNT, and other Nobles, with him.
bray ? K. Rich. Old John of Gaunt, time honour'd Lancaster,
Gaunt. I have, my liege.
If guilty dread bath left thee so much strengti, K. Rich. Tell une moreover, hast thou sounded | As to take up mine honour's pawn, then stoop : bim,
By that, and all the rights of kighthood else, ir be appeal the Duke on ancient malice ; Will I make good against thee, arm to arm, Or worthily as a good subject should,
What I have spoke, or thou can'st worst de. On some known ground of treachery in him?
vise. Guunt. As near as I could sift him on that Nor. I take it up; and, by that sword I swear, argument,
Which gently laid my knighthood on my On some apparent danger seen in him,
And, when I mount, alive may I not light,
K. Rich. What doth our cousin lay to Mow. (Exeunt some Attendants.
bray's charge ? High-stomach'd are they both, and full of ire, It must be great, that can inherit us in rage deaf as the sea, hasty as fire.
So much as of a thought of ill in him.
Boling. Look, what I speak my life shal Re-enter Attendants, with BOLING BROKE
prove it true ;and NORFOLK.
That Mowbray hath' receiv'd eight thousand Boling. May many years of happy days be.
In name of lendings for your highness' soldiers My gracious sovereign, my most loving liege ! The which he hath detain'd for lewd | employNor. Each day still better other's happiness ;
ments, Until the heaveus, envying earth's good bap, Like a false traitor and injurious villain. Add an immortal title to your crown!
Besides I say, and will in battle prove, K. Rich. We thank you both : yet one but Or bere, or elsewhere, to the furthest verge flatters us,
That ever was survey'd by English eye, As well appeareth by the cause you coine ; That all the treasons, for these eighteen years Namely, to appeal each cther of high trea Complotted and contrived in this land, soll.
Fetch from false Mowbray their first head and Cousin of Hereford, what dost thou object
spring. Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mow. Further I say,--and further will maintain bray ?
Upon his bad life, to make all this good, Boling. First, (heaven be the record of my That he did plot the Duke of Gloster's death; speech I)
Suggest I bis soon-believing adversaries ; In the devotion of a subject's love,
And, consequently, like a traitor coward, Tendering the precious safety of my prince, Sluic'd out his innocent soul through streams of And free from other misbegotten bate,
blood : Come I appellant to this princely presence. Which blood, like sacrificing Abel's, cries Now, Thomas Mowbray, do I turn to thee, Even from the tongueless caverns of the earth, And mark my greeting well ; for what I speak, To me, for justice and rough chastisement ; My body shall make good upon this earth, And, by the glorious worth of my descent, Or my divine soul answer it in heaven.
This arm shall do it, or this life be spent. Thou art a traitor, and a miscreant ;
K. Rich. How high a pitch his resolution Too good to be so, and too bad to live ;
soars ! Since, the more fair and crystal is the sky, Thomas of Norfolk, wbat say'st thou to this ? The uglier seem the clouds that in it fly.
Nor. Oh I let my sovereign turn away his Once more, the more to aggravate the note,
face, With a foul traitor's name stuff I thiy tbroat; And bid bis ears a little while be dear, And wish, (so please my sovereign,) ere ( move, Till I have told his slander of bis blood, What my tongue speaks, my right-drawn sword How God and good men hate so foul a liar. may prove.
K. Rich. Mowbray, impartial are our eyes and Nor. Let not my cold words here accuse my
ears : zeal :
Were he my brother, nay, my kingdom's heir, 'Tis not the trial of a woman's war
(As be is but my father's brother's son,) (The bitter clamour of two eager tongnes)
Now by my sceptre's awe I make a vow, Can arbitrate this cause betwixt us twain : Such neighbour nearness to our sacred biood The blcod is hot, that must be cool'd for this, Should nothing privilege bim, nor partialize Yet can I not of such tame patience boast, The unstooping firmness of my uprigbt soul; As to be bnsh'd, and naught at all to say: He is our subiect, Mowbray, so art thou ; First, the fair reverence of your higbness curbs Free speech, and fearless, I to thee allow. me
Vor. Then, Bolingbroke, as low as to thy From giving reins and spurs to my free speech :i
heart, Which else would post until it had return'd . Through the false passage of thy throat, thou These terms of treason doubled down his throat.
liest! Setting aside bis bigh blood's royalty,
The parts of that receipt I had for Calais, And let bim be no kinsinan to my liege.
Disburs'd I duly to his bighness' soldiers : I do defy him, and I spit at him;
The other part reserv'd I by consent ; Call him-a slanderous coward, and a villain; For that my sovereign liege was in my debt, Wbicb to maintain, I would allow him odds ; Upon remainder of a dear account, And meet him, were I tied to run a-foot
Since last I went to France to fetch bis queen : Even to the frozen ridges of the Alps,
Now swallow down that lie. For Gloster's Or any other ground inhabitable
death, Where ever Englishman durst set his foot. I slew him not ; but to my own disgrace, Mean time, let this defend my loyalty,
Neglected my sworn duty in that case, By all my hopes, most falsely doth be lie.
For you, my noble lord of Lancaster, Boling. Pale trembling coward, there I throw The honourable father to my foe, my gage,
Once did I lay in ambush for your life Disclaiming here the kindred of a king;
A trespass that doth vex my grieved soul : And lay aside my high blood's royalty,
But, ere I last receiv'd the sacrament, Wbich fear, not reverence, makes thee to ex. I did confess it ; and exactly begg'd cept:
Your grace's pardon, and, I bope, I had it. Charge. • Possess. + Wicked.
This is my fault : As for the rest appeal'a,. SCENE 11.-The same.--A Room in the Duke It issues from the rancour of a villain,
of LANCASTER's Palace. A recreant and most degenerate traitor : Which in myself i boldly will defend ;
Enter Gaunt, and Duchess of GLOSTER. And interchangeably hurl down my gage
Gaunt. Alas! the part. I had in Gloster Upon this overweening traitor's foot,
blood To prove myself a loyal gentleman
Doth more solicit me, than your exclaims, Even in the best blood chamber'd in his bo- To stir against the butchers of his life. som:
But since correction lieth in those hands, In haste whereof, most beartily I pray
Which made the fault that we cannot correct, Your bighness to assign our trial day.
Put we our quarrel to the will of heaven; K. Rich. Wrath-kindled gentlemen, be rul'd Who when be sees the hours ripe on earth, by me;
Will rain hot vengeance on offenders' heads. Let's purge this choler without letting blood : Duch. Finds brotherhood in thee no sharper This we prescribe though no physician ;
spur! Deep malice makes too deep incision :
Hath love in thy old blood no living fire ? Forget, forgive ; conclude, and be agreed ; Edward's seven sons, whereof thyself art one, Our doctors say, this is no time to bleed. Were as seven phials of his sacred blood, Good uncle, let this end where it begun ;
Or seven fair branches springing from one root : We'll calm the duke of Norfolk, you your son. Some of those seven are dried by nature's Gaunt. To be a make-peace shall become my
course. age :
Some of those branches by the destinies cut: Throw down, my son, the duke of Norfolk's But Thomas, my dear lord, my life, my Glosgage.
ter, K. Rich. And, Norfolk, throw down his. One phial full of Edward's sacred blood, Gaunt. When, Harry, when
One flourishing branch of bis most royal root, Obedience bids, I should not bid again.
Is crack'd, and all the precious liquor spilt ; K. Rich. Norfolk, throw down ; we bid ; there is hack'd down, and bis summer leaves all is no boot.
faded, Nor. Myself I throw, dread sovereign, at thy By envy's hand, and murder's bloody axe. foot;
Ah! Gaunt, his blood was thine ; that bed, that My life thou shalt command, but not my
womb, share ;
That mettle,' that self mould, that fashion'd The one my duty owes : but my fair name,
thee, (Despite of death, that lives upon iny grave,) Made him a man; and though thou liv'st, and To dark dishonour's use thou shalt not have.
breath'st, I am disgrac'd, impeach'd, and baffled here ; Yet art thou slain in bim : Thou dost consent Pierc'd to the soul with slander's venom'd in some large measure to thy father's death, spear;
In that thou seest thy wretched brother die, The which no balm can cure, but his heart. Who was the model of thy father's life. blood
Call it not patience, Gaunt, it is despair : Which breath'd this poison.
In suffering thus thy brother to be slaughter'd, K. Rich. Rage must be withstood :
Thou show'st the naked pathway to thy life, Give me his gage : Lions make leopards tame. Teaching steru murder how to butcher thee : Nor. Yea, but not change their spots : take That which in mean men we entitle--patience, but my shame,
Is pale cold cowardice in noble breasts. And I resign my gage. My dear dear lord, What shall I say? to safeguard thine own life, The purest treasure mortal times afford,
The best way is-Lo 'venge my Gloster' Is-spotless reputation; that away,
death. Men are hut gilded loam, or painted clay.
Gaunt. Heaven's is the quarrel ; for heaven's A jewel in a ten-times-barr'd-up chest
substitute, Is-a bold spirit in a loyal breast.
His deputy anointed in his sight, Mine honour is my life; both grow in one; Hath caus'd his death : the wbich, if wrong. Take honour from me and my life is done :
fully, Then, dear my liege, mine honour let me try; Let beaven revenge ; for I may never lift In that I live, and for that will I die.
An angry arm against bis minister. K. Rich. Cousin, tbrow down your gage ; do | Duch. Wbere then, alas! may I complain you begin.
myself Boling. o God, defend my soul from such Gaunt.' To heaven, the widow's champion foul sin !
and defence. Shall I seein crest-fallen in my father's sight? Duch. Why then, I will. Farewell, old Or with pale beggar-fear impeach my height
Gaunt. Before this out-dar'd dastard ! Ere my tongue Thou go'st to Coventry, there to behold Shall wound mine honour with such feeble Our cousin Hereford, and fell Mowbray figbt: wrong,
10 sit my husband's wrongs on Hereford's Or sound so base a parle, my teeth sball tear
spear, The slavish motive of recanting fear;
That it may enter butcher Mowbray's breast! And spit it bleeding in his high disgrace,
Or, if misfortune miss the first career, Where shame doth harbour, even in Mowbray's Be Mowbray's sins so heavy in his bosom, face.
(Exit GAUNT. That they may break his foaming courser's K. Rich. We were not born to sue, but to
back, command :
And throw the rider headlong in the lists, Which since we cannot do to make you A caitiff recreant to my cousin Hereford ! friends,
Farewell, old Gaunt; thy sometime brother's Be ready, as your lives shall answer it,
wife, At Coventry, upon Saint Lambert's day ;
With her companion grief must end her life. There shall your swords and lances arbitrate Gaunt. Sister, farewell ; I must to Coventry : The swelling difference of your settled bate; As much good stay with thee, as go with me! Since we cannot atope you, we shall see
Duch. Yet one word more ;-Grief boundeth Justice design the victor's chivalry.
where it falls, Marshal, command our officers at arms
Not with the empty hollowness, but weight : Be ready to direct these bome-alarms.
I take my leave before I have begun ; unt. For sorrow ends not when it seemeth done.
Nor. but my page:ortal vinaway, clay.
• Charged against me.