King Richard II
Act II, Scene 1
- Enter John of Gaunt, sick, with the Duke of York, etc.
Gaunt1 - 2
- Will the King come, that I may breathe my last
- In wholesome counsel to his unstayed youth?
York3 - 4
- Vex not yourself, nor strive not with your breath,
- For all in vain comes counsel to his ear.
Gaunt5 - 16
- O but they say the tongues of dying men
- Enforce attention like deep harmony.
- Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain,
- For they breathe truth that breathe their words in pain.
- He that no more must say is listened more
- Than they whom youth and ease have taught to glose.
- More are men’s ends mark’d than their lives before.
- The setting sun, and music at the close,
- As the last taste of sweets, is sweetest last,
- Writ in remembrance more than things long past.
- Though Richard my live’s counsel would not hear,
- My death’s sad tale may yet undeaf his ear.
York17 - 30
- No, it is stopp’d with other flattering sounds,
- As praises, of whose taste the wise are fond,
- Lascivious meters, to whose venom sound
- The open ear of youth doth always listen;
- Report of fashions in proud Italy,
- Whose manners still our tardy, apish nation
- Limps after in base imitation.
- Where doth the world thrust forth a vanity—
- So it be new, there’s no respect how vile—
- That is not quickly buzz’d into his ears?
- Then all too late comes counsel to be heard,
- Where will doth mutiny with wit’s regard.
- Direct not him whose way himself will choose,
- ’Tis breath thou lack’st, and that breath wilt thou lose.
Gaunt31 - 68
- Methinks I am a prophet new inspir’d,
- And thus expiring do foretell of him:
- His rash fierce blaze of riot cannot last,
- For violent fires soon burn out themselves;
- Small show’rs last long, but sudden storms are short;
- He tires betimes that spurs too fast betimes;
- With eager feeding food doth choke the feeder;
- Light vanity, insatiate cormorant,
- Consuming means, soon preys upon itself.
- This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
- This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
- This other Eden, demi-paradise,
- This fortress built by Nature for herself
- Against infection and the hand of war,
- This happy breed of men, this little world,
- This precious stone set in the silver sea,
- Which serves it in the office of a wall,
- Or as a moat defensive to a house,
- Against the envy of less happier lands;
- This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
- This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
- Fear’d by their breed, and famous by their birth,
- Renowned for their deeds as far from home,
- For Christian service and true chivalry,
- As is the sepulchre in stubborn Jewry
- Of the world’s ransom, blessed Mary’s Son;
- This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,
- Dear for her reputation through the world,
- Is now leas’d out—I die pronouncing it—
- Like to a tenement or pelting farm.
- England, bound in with the triumphant sea,
- Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
- Of wat’ry Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
- With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds;
- That England, that was wont to conquer others,
- Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.
- Ah, would the scandal vanish with my life,
- How happy then were my ensuing death!
- Enter King and Queen, etc.—Aumerle, Bushy, Green, Bagot,
- Ross, and Willoughby.
York69 - 70
- The King is come. Deal mildly with his youth,
- For young hot colts being rag’d do rage the more.
- How fares our noble uncle Lancaster?
King Richard II72
- What comfort, man? How is’t with aged Gaunt?
Gaunt73 - 83
- O how that name befits my composition!
- Old Gaunt indeed, and gaunt in being old.
- Within me grief hath kept a tedious fast;
- And who abstains from meat that is not gaunt?
- For sleeping England long time have I watch’d,
- Watching breeds leanness, leanness is all gaunt.
- The pleasure that some fathers feed upon
- Is my strict fast—I mean, my children’s looks;
- And therein fasting, hast thou made me gaunt.
- Gaunt am I for the grave, gaunt as a grave,
- Whose hollow womb inherits nought but bones.
King Richard II84
- Can sick men play so nicely with their names?
Gaunt85 - 87
- No, misery makes sport to mock itself:
- Since thou dost seek to kill my name in me,
- I mock my name, great King, to flatter thee.
King Richard II88
- Should dying men flatter with those that live?
- No, no, men living flatter those that die.
King Richard II90
- Thou, now a-dying, sayest thou flatterest me.
- O no, thou diest, though I the sicker be.
King Richard II92
- I am in health, I breathe, and see thee ill.
Gaunt93 - 115
- Now He that made me knows I see thee ill,
- Ill in myself to see, and in thee, seeing ill.
- Thy death-bed is no lesser than thy land,
- Wherein thou liest in reputation sick,
- And thou, too careless patient as thou art,
- Commit’st thy anointed body to the cure
- Of those physicians that first wounded thee.
- A thousand flatterers sit within thy crown,
- Whose compass is no bigger than thy head,
- And yet, incaged in so small a verge,
- The waste is no whit lesser than thy land.
- O had thy grandsire with a prophet’s eye
- Seen how his son’s son should destroy his sons,
- From forth thy reach he would have laid thy shame,
- Deposing thee before thou wert possess’d,
- Which art possess’d now to depose thyself.
- Why, cousin, wert thou regent of the world,
- It were a shame to let this land by lease;
- But for thy world enjoying but this land,
- Is it not more than shame to shame it so?
- Landlord of England art thou now, not king,
- Thy state of law is bond-slave to the law,
- And thou—
King Richard II116 - 124
- A lunatic lean-witted fool,
- Presuming on an ague’s privilege,
- Darest with thy frozen admonition
- Make pale our cheek, chasing the royal blood
- With fury from his native residence.
- Now by my seat’s right royal majesty,
- Wert thou not brother to great Edward’s son,
- This tongue that runs so roundly in thy head
- Should run thy head from thy unreverent shoulders.
Gaunt125 - 139
- O, spare me not, my brother Edward’s son,
- For that I was his father Edward’s son,
- That blood already, like the pelican,
- Hast thou tapp’d out and drunkenly carous’d.
- My brother Gloucester, plain well-meaning soul,
- Whom fair befall in heaven ’mongst happy souls,
- May be a president and witness good
- That thou respect’st not spilling Edward’s blood.
- Join with the present sickness that I have,
- And thy unkindness be like crooked age,
- To crop at once a too long withered flower.
- Live in thy shame, but die not shame with thee!
- These words hereafter thy tormentors be!
- Convey me to my bed, then to my grave;
- Love they to live that love and honor have.
- Exit, borne off by his Attendants.
King Richard II140 - 141
- And let them die that age and sullens have,
- For both hast thou, and both become the grave.
York142 - 145
- I do beseech your Majesty, impute his words
- To wayward sickliness and age in him.
- He loves you, on my life, and holds you dear
- As Harry Duke of Herford, were he here.
King Richard II146 - 147
- Right, you say true: as Herford’s love, so his,
- As theirs, so mine, and all be as it is.
- Enter Northumberland.
- My liege, old Gaunt commends him to your Majesty.
King Richard II149
- What says he?
Northumberland150 - 152
- Nay, nothing, all is said.
- His tongue is now a stringless instrument,
- Words, life, and all, old Lancaster hath spent.
York153 - 154
- Be York the next that must be bankrupt so!
- Though death be poor, it ends a mortal woe.
King Richard II155 - 164
- The ripest fruit first falls, and so doth he;
- His time is spent, our pilgrimage must be.
- So much for that. Now for our Irish wars:
- We must supplant those rough rug-headed kerns,
- Which live like venom where no venom else
- But only they have privilege to live.
- And, for these great affairs do ask some charge,
- Towards our assistance we do seize to us
- The plate, coin, revenues, and moveables
- Whereof our uncle Gaunt did stand possess’d.
York165 - 187
- How long shall I be patient? Ah, how long
- Shall tender duty make me suffer wrong?
- Not Gloucester’s death, nor Herford’s banishment,
- Not Gaunt’s rebukes, nor England’s private wrongs,
- Nor the prevention of poor Bullingbrook
- About his marriage, nor my own disgrace,
- Have ever made me sour my patient cheek,
- Or bend one wrinkle on my sovereign’s face.
- I am the last of noble Edward’s sons,
- Of whom thy father, Prince of Wales, was first.
- In war was never lion rag’d more fierce,
- In peace was never gentle lamb more mild,
- Than was that young and princely gentleman.
- His face thou hast, for even so look’d he,
- Accomplish’d with the number of thy hours;
- But when he frowned it was against the French,
- And not against his friends. His noble hand
- Did win what he did spend, and spent not that
- Which his triumphant father’s hand had won.
- His hands were guilty of no kindred blood,
- But bloody with the enemies of his kin.
- O Richard! York is too far gone with grief,
- Or else he never would compare between.
King Richard II188
- Why, uncle, what’s the matter?
York189 - 211
- O my liege,
- Pardon me, if you please; if not, I, pleas’d
- Not to be pardoned, am content withal.
- Seek you to seize and gripe into your hands
- The royalties and rights of banish’d Herford?
- Is not Gaunt dead? And doth not Herford live?
- Was not Gaunt just? And is not Harry true?
- Did not the one deserve to have an heir?
- Is not his heir a well-deserving son?
- Take Herford’s rights away, and take from Time
- His charters and his customary rights;
- Let not tomorrow then ensue today;
- Be not thyself; for how art thou a king
- But by fair sequence and succession?
- Now afore God—God forbid I say true!—
- If you do wrongfully seize Herford’s rights,
- Call in the letters-patents that he hath
- By his attorneys-general to sue
- His livery, and deny his off’red homage,
- You pluck a thousand dangers on your head,
- You lose a thousand well-disposed hearts,
- And prick my tender patience to those thoughts
- Which honor and allegiance cannot think.
King Richard II212 - 213
- Think what you will, we seize into our hands
- His plate, his goods, his money, and his lands.
York214 - 217
- I’ll not be by the while. My liege, farewell!
- What will ensue hereof, there’s none can tell;
- But by bad courses may be understood
- That their events can never fall out good.
King Richard II218 - 226
- Go, Bushy, to the Earl of Wiltshire straight,
- Bid him repair to us to Ely House
- To see this business. Tomorrow next
- We will for Ireland, and ’tis time, I trow.
- And we create, in absence of ourself,
- Our uncle York lord governor of England;
- For he is just and always loved us well.
- Come on, our queen, tomorrow must we part.
- Be merry, for our time of stay is short.
- Flourish. Exeunt King and Queen with others. Manet
- Northumberland with Willoughby and Ross.
- Well, lords, the Duke of Lancaster is dead.
- And living too, for now his son is Duke.
- Barely in title, not in revenues.
- Richly in both, if justice had her right.
Lord Ross231 - 232
- My heart is great, but it must break with silence,
- Ere’t be disburdened with a liberal tongue.
Northumberland233 - 234
- Nay, speak thy mind, and let him ne’er speak more
- That speaks thy words again to do thee harm!
Willoughby235 - 237
- Tends that thou wouldst speak to the Duke of Herford?
- If it be so, out with it boldly, man,
- Quick is mine ear to hear of good towards him.
Lord Ross238 - 240
- No good at all that I can do for him,
- Unless you call it good to pity him,
- Bereft and gelded of his patrimony.
Northumberland241 - 248
- Now, afore God, ’tis shame such wrongs are borne
- In him, a royal prince, and many more
- Of noble blood in this declining land.
- The King is not himself, but basely led
- By flatterers, and what they will inform,
- Merely in hate, ’gainst any of us all,
- That will the King severely prosecute
- ’Gainst us, our lives, our children, and our heirs.
Lord Ross249 - 251
- The commons hath he pill’d with grievous taxes,
- And quite lost their hearts; the nobles hath he fin’d
- For ancient quarrels, and quite lost their hearts.
Willoughby252 - 254
- And daily new exactions are devis’d,
- As blanks, benevolences, and I wot not what.
- But what a’ God’s name doth become of this?
Northumberland255 - 258
- Wars hath not wasted it, for warr’d he hath not,
- But basely yielded upon compromise
- That which his noble ancestors achiev’d with blows.
- More hath he spent in peace than they in wars.
- The Earl of Wiltshire hath the realm in farm.
- The King’s grown bankrupt, like a broken man.
- Reproach and dissolution hangeth over him.
Lord Ross262 - 264
- He hath not money for these Irish wars,
- His burdenous taxations notwithstanding,
- But by the robbing of the banish’d Duke.
Northumberland265 - 269
- His noble kinsman—most degenerate king!
- But, lords, we hear this fearful tempest sing,
- Yet seek no shelter to avoid the storm;
- We see the wind sit sore upon our sails,
- And yet we strike not, but securely perish.
Lord Ross270 - 272
- We see the very wrack that we must suffer,
- And unavoided is the danger now,
- For suffering so the causes of our wrack.
Northumberland273 - 275
- Not so, even through the hollow eyes of death
- I spy life peering, but I dare not say
- How near the tidings of our comfort is.
- Nay, let us share thy thoughts, as thou dost ours.
Lord Ross277 - 279
- Be confident to speak, Northumberland:
- We three are but thyself, and, speaking so,
- Thy words are but as thoughts, therefore be bold.
Northumberland280 - 301
- Then thus: I have from Le Port Blanc,
- A bay in Britain, receiv’d intelligence
- That Harry Duke of Herford, Rainold Lord Cobham,
- Thomas, son and heir to th’ Earl of Arundel,
- That late broke from the Duke of Exeter,
- His brother, Archbishop late of Canterbury,
- Sir Thomas Erpingham, Sir John Ramston,
- Sir John Norbery, Sir Robert Waterton, and Francis Coint—
- All these, well furnished by the Duke of Britain
- With eight tall ships, three thousand men of war,
- Are making hither with all due expedience,
- And shortly mean to touch our northern shore.
- Perhaps they had ere this, but that they stay
- The first departing of the King for Ireland.
- If then we shall shake off our slavish yoke,
- Imp out our drooping country’s broken wing,
- Redeem from broking pawn the blemish’d crown,
- Wipe off the dust that hides our sceptre’s gilt,
- And make high majesty look like itself,
- Away with me in post to Ravenspurgh;
- But if you faint, as fearing to do so,
- Stay, and be secret, and myself will go.
- To horse, to horse! Urge doubts to them that fear.
- Hold out my horse, and I will first be there.