Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT III. - The Tragedy of King Richard the Second
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ACT III. - William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of King Richard the Second 
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (The Oxford Shakespeare), ed. with a glossary by W.J. Craig M.A. (Oxford University Press, 1916).
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EnterBolingbroke, York, Northumberland, Henry Percy, Willoughby, Ross; Officers behind, withBushyandGreenprisoners.
Bring forth these men.
Bushy and Green, I will not vex your souls—
Since presently your souls must part your bodies—
With too much urging your pernicious lives,
For ’twere no charity; yet, to wash your blood
From off my hands, here in the view of men
I will unfold some causes of your deaths.
You have misled a prince, a royal king,
A happy gentleman in blood and lineaments,
By you unhappied and disfigur’d clean:
You have in manner with your sinful hours
Made a divorce betwixt his queen and him,
Broke the possession of a royal bed,
And stain’d the beauty of a fair queen’s cheeks
With tears drawn from her eyes by your foul wrongs.
Myself, a prince by fortune of my birth,
Near to the king in blood, and near in love
Till you did make him misinterpret me,
Have stoop’d my neck under your injuries,
And sigh’d my English breath in foreign clouds,
Eating the bitter bread of banishment;
Whilst you have fed upon my signories,
Dispark’d my parks, and felled my forest woods,
From mine own windows torn my household coat,
Raz’d out my impress, leaving me no sign,
Save men’s opinions and my living blood,
To show the world I am a gentleman.
This and much more, much more than twice all this,
Condemns you to the death. See them deliver’d over
To execution and the hand of death.
More welcome is the stroke of death to me
Than Bolingbroke to England. Lords, farewell.
My comfort is, that heaven will take our souls
And plague injustice with the pains of hell.
My Lord Northumberland, see them dispatch’d.
[ExeuntNorthumberlandand Others, withBushyandGreen.
Uncle, you say the queen is at your house;
For God’s sake, fairly let her be entreated:
Tell her I send to her my kind commends;
Take special care my greetings be deliver’d.
A gentleman of mine I have dispatch’d
With letters of your love to her at large.
Thanks, gentle uncle. Come, lords, away,
To fight with Glendower and his complices:
Awhile to work, and after holiday.
The Coast of Wales. A Castle in view.
Flourish: drams and trumpets. EnterKing Richard,theBishop of Carlisle, Aumerle,and Soldiers.
Barkloughly Castle call they this at hand?
Yea, my lord. How brooks your Grace the air,
After your late tossing on the breaking seas?
Needs must I like it well: I weep for joy
To stand upon my kingdom once again.
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,
So, weeping, smiling, greet I thee, my earth,
And do thee favour with my royal hands.
Feed not thy sovereign’s foe, my gentle earth,
Nor with thy sweets comfort his revenous sense;
But let thy spiders, that suck up thy venom,
And 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,
Guard 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
Prove armed 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.
The means that heaven yields must be embrac’d,
And not neglected; else, if heaven would,
And we will not, heaven’s offer we refuse,
The proffer’d means of succour and redress.
He means, my lord, that we are too remiss;
Whilst Bolingbroke, through our security,
Grows strong and great in substance and in friends.
Discomfortable cousin! know’st thou not
That when the searching eye of heaven is hid
Behind the globe, and lights the lower world,
Then thieves and robbers range abroad unseen,
In murders and in outrage bloody 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,
Then murders, treasons, and detested sins,
The cloak of night being pluck’d from off their backs,
Stand bare and naked, trembling at themselves?
So when this thief, this traitor, Bolingbroke,
Who all this while hath revell’d in the night
Whilst we were wandering with the antipodes,
Shall 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
Can wash the balm from an anointed king;
The breath of worldly men cannot depose
The deputy elected by the Lord.
For every man that Bolingbroke hath press’d
To lift shrewd steel against our golden crown,
God for his Richard hath in heavenly pay
A glorious angel: then, if angels fight,
Weak men must fall, for heaven still guards the right.
Welcome, my lord: how far off lies your power?
Nor near nor further 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.
O! call back yesterday, bid time return,
And thou shalt have twelve thousand fighting men:
To-day, to-day, unhappy day too late,
O’erthrows thy joys, friends, fortune, and thy state;
For all the Welshmen, hearing thou wert dead,
Are gone to Bolingbroke, dispers’d, and fled.
Comfort, my liege! why looks your Grace so pale?
But now, the blood of twenty thousand men
Did triumph in my face, and they are fled;
And 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.
I had forgot myself. Am I not king?
Awake, thou sluggard 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,
Ye favourites 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?
EnterSir Stephen Scroop.
More health and happiness betide my liege
Than can my care-tun’d tongue deliver him!
Mine ear is open and my heart prepar’d:
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?
Strives 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:
Cry woe, destruction, ruin, loss, decay;
The worst is death, and death will have his day.
Glad am I that your highness is so arm’d
To bear the tidings of calamity.
Like an unseasonable stormy day
Which makes the silver rivers drown their shores,
As if the world were all dissolv’d 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.
White-beards have arm’d their thin and hairless scalps
Against thy majesty; and 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
Of 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.
Too well, too well thou tell’st a tale so ill.
Where 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.
I warrant they have made peace with Bolingbroke.
Peace have they made with him, indeed, my lord.
O villains, vipers, damn’d without redemption!
Dogs, easily won to fawn on any man!
Snakes, in my heart-blood warm’d, 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 offence!
Sweet love, I see, changing his property,
Turns 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, grav’d in the hollow ground.
Is Bushy, Green, and the Earl of Wiltshire dead?
Yea, all of them at Bristol lost their heads.
Where is the duke my father with his power?
No matter where. Of comfort no man speak:
Let’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
Save our deposed 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.
For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings:
How some have been depos’d, some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have depos’d,
Some poison’d by their wives, some sleeping kill’d;
All murder’d: for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court, and there the antick sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp;
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchize, be fear’d, and kill with looks,
Infusing him with self and vain conceit
As if this flesh which walls about our life
Were brass impregnable; and humour’d thus
Comes at the last, and with a little pin
Bores through 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:
I 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.
To fear the foe, since fear oppresseth strength,
Gives in your weakness strength unto your foe,
And 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.
Thou chid’st me well. Proud Boling broke, I come
To change blows with thee for our day of doom.
This ague-fit of fear is over-blown;
An 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;
So 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 join’d with Bolingbroke,
And all your northern castles yielded up,
And all your southern gentlemen in arms
Upon his party.
Thou hast said enough.
[ToAumerle.] Beshrew thee, cousin, which didst lead me forth
Of 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;
A 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.
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.
Wales. Before Flint Castle.
Enter, with drum and colours,Bolingbrokeand Forces;York, Northumberland,and Others.
So that by this intelligence we learn
The Welshmen are dispers’d and Salisbury
Is gone to meet the king, who lately landed
With some few private friends upon this coast.
The news is very fair and good, my lord:
Richard not far from hence hath hid his head.
It would beseem the Lord Northumberland
To say, ‘King Richard:’ alack the heavy day
When such a sacred king should hide his head!
Your Grace mistakes; only to be brief
Left I his title out.
The time hath been,
Would you have been so brief with him, he would
Have been so brief with you, to shorten you,
For taking so the head, your whole head’s length.
Mistake not, uncle, further than you should.
Take not, good cousin, further than you should,
Lest you mistake the heavens are o’er our heads.
I know it, uncle; and oppose not myself
Against their will. But who comes here?
Welcome, Harry: what, will not this castle yield?
The castle royally is mann’d, my lord,
Against thy entrance.
Why, it contains no king?
Yes, my good lord,
It doth contain a king: King Richard lies
Within the limits of yon lime and stone;
And with him are the Lord Aumerle, Lord Salisbury,
Sir Stephen Scroop; besides a clergyman
Of holy reverence; who, I cannot learn.
O! belike it is the Bishop of Carlisle.
[ToNorth.] Noble lord,
Go to the rude ribs of that ancient castle,
Through brazen trumpet send the breath of parley
Into his ruin’d ears, and thus deliver:
On both his knees doth kiss King Richard’s hand,
And sends allegiance and true faith of heart
To his most royal person; hither come
Even at his feet to lay my arms and power,
Provided that my banishment repeal’d,
And lands restor’d again be freely granted.
If not, I’ll use the advantage of my power,
And lay the summer’s dust with showers of blood
Rain’d from the wounds of slaughter’d Englishmen:
The which, how far off from the mind of Bolingbroke
It is, such crimson tempest should bedrench
The fresh green lap of fair King Richard’s land,
My stooping duty tenderly shall show.
Go, signify as much, while here we march
Upon the grassy carpet of this plain.
Let’s march without the noise of threat’ning drum,
That from the castle’s totter’d battlements
Our fair appointments may be well perus’d.
Methinks King Richard and myself should meet
With no less terror than the elements
Of fire and water, when their thundering shock
At meeting tears the cloudy cheeks of heaven.
Be he the fire, I’ll be the yielding water:
The rage be his, while on the earth I rain
My waters; on the earth, and not on him.
March on, and mark King Richard how he looks.
A Parley sounded, and answered by a Trumpet within. Flourish. Enter on the WallsKing Richard,theBishop of Carlisle, Aumerle, Scroop,andSalisbury.
See, see, King Richard doth himself appear,
As doth the blushing discontented sun
From out the fiery portal of the east,
When he perceives the envious clouds are bent
To dim his glory and to stain the track
Of his bright passage to the occident.
Yet looks he like a king: behold, his eye,
As bright as is the eagle’s, lightens forth
Controlling majesty: alack, alack, for woe,
That any harm should stain so fair a show!
[ToNorthumberland.] We are amaz’d; and thus long have we stood
To watch the fearful bending of thy knee,
Because we thought ourself thy lawful king:
And if we be, how dare thy joints forget
To pay their awful duty to our presence?
If we be not, show us the hand of God
That hath dismiss’d us from our stewardship;
For well we know, no hand of blood and bone
Can gripe the sacred handle of our sceptre,
Unless he do profane, steal, or usurp.
And though you think that all, as you have done,
Have torn their souls by turning them from us,
And we are barren and bereft of friends;
Yet know, my master, God omnipotent,
Is mustering in his clouds on our behalf
Armies of pestilence; and they shall strike
Your children yet unborn and unbegot,
That lift your vassal hands against my head
And threat the glory of my precious crown.
Tell Bolingbroke,—for yond methinks he is,—
That every stride he makes upon my land
Is dangerous treason: he is come to open
The purple testament of bleeding war;
But ere the crown he looks for live in peace,
Ten thousand bloody crowns of mothers’ sons
Shall ill become the flower of England’s face,
Change the complexion of her maid-pale peace
To scarlet indignation, and bedew
Her pastures’ grass with faithful English blood.
The king of heaven forbid our lord the king
Should so with civil and uncivil arms
Be rush’d upon! Thy thrice-noble cousin,
Harry Bolingbroke, doth humbly kiss thy hand;
And by the honourable tomb he swears,
That stands upon your royal grandsire’s bones,
And by the royalties of both your bloods,
Currents that spring from one most gracious head,
And by the buried hand of war-like Gaunt,
And by the worth and honour of himself,
Comprising all that may be sworn or said,
His coming hither hath no further scope
Than for his lineal royalties and to beg
Enfranchisement immediate on his knees:
Which on thy royal party granted once,
His glittering arms he will commend to rust,
His barbed steeds to stables, and his heart
To faithful service of your majesty.
This swears he, as he is a prince, is just;
And, as I am a gentleman, I credit him.
Northumberland, say, thus the king returns:
His noble cousin is right welcome hither;
And all the number of his fair demands
Shall be accomplish’d without contradiction:
With all the gracious utterance thou hast
Speak to his gentle hearing kind commends.
[ToAumerle.] We do debase ourself, cousin, do we not,
To look so poorly and to speak so fair?
Shall we call back Northumberland and send
Defiance to the traitor, and so die?
No, good my lord; let’s fight with gentle words,
Till time lend friends and friends their helpful swords.
O God! O God! that e’er this tongue of mine,
That laid the sentence of dread banishment
On yond proud man, should take it off again
With words of sooth. O! that I were as great
As is my grief, or lesser than my name,
Or that I could forget what I have been,
Or not remember what I must be now.
Swell’st thou, proud heart? I’ll give thee scope to beat,
Since foes have scope to beat both thee and me.
Northumberland comes back from Bolingbroke.
What must the king do now? Must he submit?
The king shall do it: must he be depos’d?
The king shall be contented: must he lose
The name of king? o’ God’s name, let it go:
I’ll give my jewels for a set of beads,
My gorgeous palace for a hermitage,
My gay apparel for an almsman’s gown,
My figur’d goblets for a dish of wood,
My sceptre for a palmer’s walking-staff,
My subjects for a pair of carved saints,
And my large kingdom for a little grave,
A little little grave, an obscure grave;
Or I’ll be buried in the king’s highway,
Some way of common trade, where subjects’ feet
May hourly trample on their sovereign’s head;
For on my heart they tread now whilst I live;
And buried once, why not upon my head?
Aumerle, thou weep’st, my tender-hearted cousin!
We’ll make foul weather with despised tears;
Our sighs and they shall lodge the summer corn,
And make a dearth in this revolting land.
Or shall we play the wantons with our woes,
And make some pretty match with shedding tears?
As thus; to drop them still upon one place,
Till they have fretted us a pair of graves
Within the earth; and, there inlaid: ‘There lies
Two kinsmen digg’d their graves with weeping eyes.’
Would not this ill do well? Well, well, I see
I talk but idly and you laugh at me.
Most mighty prince, my Lord Northumberland,
What says King Bolingbroke? will his majesty
Give Richard leave to live till Richard die?
You make a leg, and Bolingbroke says ay.
My lord, in the base court he doth attend
To speak with you; may’t please you to come down?
Down, down, I come; like glistering Phaethon,
Wanting the manage of unruly jades.
In the base court? Base court, where kings grow base,
To come at traitors’ calls and do them grace.
In the base court? Come down? Down, court! down, king!
For night-owls shriek where mounting larks should sing.
[Exeunt from above.
What says his majesty?
Sorrow and grief of heart
Makes him speak fondly, like a frantic man:
Yet he is come.
EnterKing Richard,and his Attendants.
Stand all apart,
And show fair duty to his majesty.
My gracious lord,—
Fair cousin, you debase your princely knee
To make the base earth proud with kissing it:
Me rather had my heart might feel your love
Than my unpleas’d eye see your courtesy.
Up, cousin, up; your heart is up, I know,
Thus high at least, although your knee be low.
My gracious lord, I come but for mine own.
Your own is yours, and I am yours, and all.
So far be mine, my most redoubted lord,
As my true service shall deserve your love.
Well you deserve: they well deserve to have
That know the strong’st and surest way to get.
Uncle, give me your hand: nay, dry your eyes;
Tears show their love, but want their remedies.
Cousin, I am too young to be your father,
Though you are old enough to be my heir.
What you will have I’ll give, and willing too;
For do we must what force will have us do.
Set on towards London. Cousin, is it so?
Yea, my good lord.
Then I must not say no.
Langley. TheDuke of York’sGarden.
Enter theQueenand two Ladies.
What sport shall we devise here in this garden,
To drive away the heavy thought of care?
Madam, we’ll play at bowls.
’Twill make me think the world is full of rubs;
And that my fortune runs against the bias.
Madam, we’ll dance.
My legs can keep no measure in delight
When my poor heart no measure keeps in grief:
Therefore, no dancing, girl; some other sport.
Madam, we’ll tell tales.
Of sorrow or of joy?
Of either, madam.
Of neither, girl:
For if of joy, being altogether wanting,
It doth remember me the more of sorrow;
Or if of grief, being altogether had,
It adds more sorrow to my want of joy:
For what I have I need not to repeat,
And what I want it boots not to complain.
Madam, I’ll sing.
’Tis well that thou hast cause;
But thou shouldst please me better wouldst thou weep.
I could weep, madam, would it do you good.
And I could sing would weeping do me good,
And never borrow any tear of thee.
But stay, here come the gardeners:
Let’s step into the shadow of these trees.
My wretchedness unto a row of pins,
They’ll talk of state; for every one doth so
Against a change: woe is forerun with woe.
[Queenand Ladies retire.
Enter a Gardener and two Servants.
Go, bind thou up yon dangling apricocks,
Which, like unruly children, make their sire
Stoop with oppression of their prodigal weight:
Give some supportance to the bending twigs.
Go thou, and like an executioner,
Cut off the heads of too fast growing sprays,
That look too lofty in our commonwealth:
All must be even in our government.
You thus employ’d, I will go root away
The noisome weeds, that without profit suck
The soil’s fertility from wholesome flowers.
Why should we in the compass of a pale
Keep law and form and due proportion,
Showing, as in a model, our firm estate,
When our sea-walled garden, the whole land,
Is full of weeds, her fairest flowers chok’d up,
Her fruit-trees all unprun’d, her hedges ruin’d,
Her knots disorder’d, and her wholesome herbs
Swarming with caterpillars?
Hold thy peace:
He that hath suffer’d this disorder’d spring
Hath now himself met with the fall of leaf;
The weeds that his broad-spreading leaves did shelter,
That seem’d in eating him to hold him up,
Are pluck’d up root and all by Bolingbroke;
I mean the Earl of Wiltshire, Bushy, Green.
What! are they dead?
They are; and Bolingbroke
Hath seiz’d the wasteful king. O! what pity is it
That he hath not so trimm’d and dress’d his land
As we this garden. We at time of year
Do wound the bark, the skin of our fruit-trees,
Lest, being over-proud with sap and blood,
With too much riches it confound itself:
Had he done so to great and growing men,
They might have liv’d to bear and he to taste
Their fruits of duty: superfluous branches
We lop away that bearing boughs may live:
Had he done so, himself had borne the crown,
Which waste of idle hours hath quite thrown down.
What! think you then the king shall be depos’d?
Depress’d he is already, and depos’d
’Tis doubt he will be: letters came last night
To a dear friend of the good Duke of York’s,
That tell black tidings.
O! I am press’d to death through want of speaking.
Thou, old Adam’s likeness, set to dress this garden,
How dares thy harsh rude tongue sound this unpleasing news?
What Eve, what serpent, hath suggested thee
To make a second fall of cursed man?
Why dost thou say King Richard is depos’d?
Dar’st thou, thou little better thing than earth,
Divine his downfall? Say, where, when, and how
Cam’st thou by these ill tidings? speak, thou wretch.
Pardon me, madam: little joy have I
To breathe these news, yet what I say is true.
King Richard, he is in the mighty hold
Of Bolingbroke; their fortunes both are weigh’d:
In your lord’s scale is nothing but himself,
And some few vanities that make him light;
But in the balance of great Bolingbroke,
Besides himself, are all the English peers,
And with that odds he weighs King Richard down.
Post you to London and you’ll find it so;
I speak no more than every one doth know.
Nimble mischance. that art so light of foot,
Doth not thy embassage belong to me,
And am I last that knows it? O! thou think’st
To serve me last, that I may longest keep
Thy sorrow in my breast. Come, ladies, go,
To meet at London London’s king in woe.
What! was I born to this, that my sad look
Should grace the triumph of great Bolingbroke?
Gardener, for telling me these news of woe,
Pray God the plants thou graft’st may never grow.
Poor queen! so that thy state might be no worse,
I would my skill were subject to thy curse.
Here did she fall a tear; here, in this place,
I’ll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace;
Rue, even for ruth, here shortly shall be seen,
In the remembrance of a weeping queen.