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THE LIFE AND DEATH OF RICHARD THE SECOND
RICHARD II was first published in an anonymous quarto in 1597. A second quarto, printed from the first, but with Shakespeare's name on the title-page, appeared in 1598. Neither of these editions contained the abdication scene (iv. i. 154–318), which is supposed to have been suppressed owing to Queen Elizabeth's sensitiveness on such subjects, but it appears in the Third Quarto (1608), and is found in all the later editions. The Fourth Quarto, printed from the third, as the third was from the second, is dated 1615, and was the main source of the text of the First Folio. But in addition to sume corrections, alterations, and omissions for acting purposes, the First Folio has been thought to show that its editors had access to a manuscript of the abdication scene from which they amended the imperfect text of that part of the Fourth Quarto. Thus for the main part of the play the best authority is the First Quarto; for the abdication scene, the First Folio; and on these the present text is accordingly based.
Apart from the date of publication we have only internal evidence as to date of production. The subject may have been suggested by Marlowe's Edward II; but the style shows a marked departure from the Marlowesque rhetoric of Richard III, and takes it out of the period when Shakespeare was most under the influence of his great predecessor. Taking into consideration the frequency of rime on the one hand, and the absence of prose on the other, we may conclude that the drama was composed within a year of 1594.
The main source of the action is Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, supplemented by Stowe's Annals, but the chief interest lies in those elements that are due to the dramatist's imagination. The parts played and the speeches uttered by the female characters are entirely Shakespeare's. Historically, the Queen was only eleven years old at the date of her husband's deposition; and the Duchess of York was only the stepmother of Aumerle. The scene at the deathbed of John of Gaunt is represented in the chronicle by the bare statement of the fact of his death; and there is no hint of the great speech on the glory of England. This speech, with others, such as the closing lines of King John, point to the inference that Shakespeare deliberately used the opportunity given in the historical plays to appeal to the patriotic enthusiasm of his contemporaries.
But the greatest achievement in the play is in the creation, or interpretation, of the character of Richard himself. The chronicle supplied the outline of his action, but little characterization beyond charges of self-indulgence and subjection to unworthy favorites. Richard's love of the spectacular and his enjoyment of his own emotions even of misery and despair, along with his tendency to substitute fluent and poetical utterance for action, are all the conception of the dramatist. The resignation of the crown actually took place in the presence of a few lords in Richard's chamber in the Tower, so that the amazing exhibition of sentimental vanity in the abdication scene is purely Shakespearean. The hints of the character of Boling broke are also mainly invented. Holinshed speaks of his popularity but gives nothing of such causes of it as are indicated in the description of his courtship of the common people in 1. iv. Throughout, even when the details of the episode are borrowed from the chronicle, as in the conspiracy in which Aumerle is involved, the speeches are purely imaginary, hardly any hint of the diction being derived from the sources.
It is at least probable that this was the “play of the deposing of Richard II " which Essex and his associates procured to be performed in the streets of London on the eve of his attempted revolt in 1601. It is clear that it is not the Richard II seen by Forman at the Globe in 1611, since that play dealt chiefly with the earlier events of Richard's reign.
The spellings “Bulling broke," "Herford,'' “ Barkly,” “ Callice,” and “Cotshall Colts. hold” (Cotswold) in the old copies, indicate the Elizabethan pronunciation of these names.
THE TRAGEDY OF RICHARD THE SECOND
KING RICHARD II.
LORD Ross. JOHN OY GAUNT, duke of Lancaster, uncles to the
LORD WILLOUGHBY. EDMUND OF LANGLEY, duke of York, 1 King.
LORD FITZWATER. HENRY, surnamed BOLING BROKE, duke of Hereford, son
BISHOP OF CARLISLE. to John of Gaunt; afterwards KING HENRY IV.
ABBOT OF WESTMINSTER. DUB OF AUMERLE, son to the duke of York.
LORD MARSHAL. THOMAS MOWBRAY, duke of Norfolk.
SIR STEPHEN SCROOP. DUKE OF SURREY.
SIR PIERCE of Exton. EARL OF SALISBURY.
Captain of a band of Welshmon.
QUEEN to King Richard.
DUCHESS OF YORK. EARL OF NORTHUMBERLAND.
DUCHESS OF GLOUCESTER.
Lady attending on the Queen.
SCENE : England and Wales.]
SCENE I. (London. King Richard's palace.) Enter King RICHARD, JOHN OF GAUNT, with
other Nobles and Attendants. K. Rich. Old John of Gaunt, time-honoured
Lancaster, Hast thon, according to thy oath and band, 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, s Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mow
bray? Gaunt. I have, my liege. K. Rich. Tell me, moreover, hast thou
sounded him If he appeal the Duke on ancient malice, Or worthily, as a good subject should, On 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 Aim'd
at your Highness, no inveterate malice. K. Rich. Then call them to our presence.
(Exeunt some Attendants.] Face to face, 18 And frowning brow to brow, ourselves will
hear The accuser and the accused freely speak. High-stomach'd are they both, and full of ire, In rage deaf as the sea, hasty as fire. Enter BOLINGBROKE and MOWBRAY (with
Attendants). Boling. Many years of happy days befall My gracious sovereign, my most loving liege!
Mow. Each day still better other's happiness, Until the heavens, envying earth's good hap, Add an immortal title to your crown!
K. Rich. 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 Mow
bray? Boling. 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. Now, 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, Too 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; And wish, so please my sovereign, ere I move, What my tongue speaks my right drawn sword
may prove. Mow. Let not my cold words here accuse my
zeal. 'Tis not the trial of a woman's war, The bitter clamour of two eager tongues, Can arbitrate this cause betwixt us twain ; The blood is hot that must be cool'd for this. Yet can I not of such tame patience boast As to be hush'd and nought at all to say. First, the fair reverence of your Highness
curbs me From giving reins and spurs to my free speech, Which else would post until it had return'd These terms of treason doubled down his throat,
Setting aside his high blood's royalty,
And bid his ears a little while be deaf, And let him be no kinsman to my liege,
Till I have told this slander of his blood I do defy him, and I spit at him;
How God and good men hate so foul a liar. Call him a slanderous coward and a villain ; K. Rich. Mowbray, impartial are our eyes Which to maintain I would allow him odds,
and ears. And meet him, were I tied to run afoot
Were he my brother, nay, my kingdom's heir, Even to the frozen ridges of the Alps,
As he is but my father's brother's son, Or any other ground inhabitable
Now, by my sceptre's awe, I make a vow, Where ever Englishman durst set his foot. Such neighbour nearness to our sacred blood Meantime let this defend my loyalty:
Should nothing privilege him, nor partialize 132 By all my hopes, most falsely doth he lie. The unstooping firmness of my upright soul. Boling. Pale trembling coward, there I throw He is our subject, Mowbray; so art thou. my gage,
Free speech and fearless I to thee allow. Disclaiming here the kindred of the King, Mow. Then, Bolingbroke, as low as to thy And lay aside my high blood's royalty,
heart, Which fear, not reverence, makes thee to ex- Through the false passage of thy throat, thou cept.
liest. If guilty dread have left thee so much strength Three parts of that receipt I had for Calais As to take up mine honour's pawn, then stoop. Disburs'd I duly to his Highness' soldiers; By that and all the rites of knighthood else, 78 The other part reserv'd I by consent, Will I make good against thee, arm to arm, For that my sovereign liege was in my debt What I have spoke, or thou canst worse devise. Upon remainder of a dear account, Mow. I take it up; and by that sword I Since last I went to France to fetch his queen.
Now swallow down that lie. For Gloucester's Which gently laid my knighthood on my
I slew him not; but to my own disgrace I'll answer thee in any fair degree,
Neglected my sworn duty in that case.
For you, my noble Lord of Lancaster,
Once did I lay an ambush for your life, K. Rich. What doth our cousin lay to Mow- A trespass that doth vex my grieved soul; bray's charge?
But ere I last receiv'd the sacrament It must be great that can inherit us
I did confess it, and exactly begg'd So much as of a thought of ill in him.
Your Grace's pardon; and I hope I had it. Boling. Look, what I speak, my life shall This is my fault. As for the rest appealid, prove it true :
It issues from the rancour of a villain, That Mowbray hath receiv'd eight thousand A recreant and most degenerate traitor; nobles
Which in myself I boldly will defend ; In name of lendings for your Highness' soldiers, And interchangeably hurl down my gage The which he hath detain'd for lewd employ- | Upon this overweening traitor's foot, ments,
To prove myself a loyal gentleman Like a false traitor and injurious villain. Even in the best blood chamber'd in his Besides I say, and will in battle prove,
bosom. Or here or elsewhere to the furthest verge
In haste whereof, most heartily I pray That ever was surveyed by English eye,
Your Highness to assign our trial day. That all the treasons for these eighteen years 96 K. Rich. Wrath-kindled gentlemen, be rul'd Complotted and contrived in this land
by me; Fetch from false Mowbray their first head and Let's purge this choler without letting blood. spring.
This we prescribe, though no physician; Further I say, and further will maintain
Deep malice makes too deep incision. Upon his bad life to make all this good,
Forget, forgive; conclude and be agreed; That he did plot the Duke of Gloucester's Our doctors say this is no month to bleed. death,
Good uncle, let this end where it begun; Suggest his soon-believing adversaries,
We'll calm the Duke of Norfolk, you your And consequently, like a traitor coward, Sluic'd out his innocent soul through streams Gaunt. To be a make-peace shall become my of blood;
age. Which blood, like sacrificing Abel's, cries, Throw down, my son, the Duke of Norfolk's Even from the tongueless caverns of the earth,
gage. To me for justice and rough chastisement; K. Rich. And, Norfolk, throw down his. And, by the glorious worth of my descent,
When, Harry, when! This arm shall do it, or this life be spent, Obedience bids I should not bid again. K. Rich. How high a pitch his resolution K. Rich. Norfolk, throw down, we bid; soars!
there is no boot. Thomas of Norfolk, what say'st thou to this? Mow. Myself I throw, dread sovereign, at Mow. O, let my sovereign turn away his thy foot; face
My life thou shalt command, but not my shame.
The one my duty owes ; but my fair name,
spear, The which' no balm can cure but his heart
blood Which breath'd this poison. K. Rich.
Rage must be withstood; Give me his gage. Lions make leopards tame. Mow. Yea, but not change his spots. Take
but my shame, And I resign my gage. My dear dear lord, The purest treasure mortal times afford Is spotless reputation ; that away, Men are but gilded loam or painted clay. A jewel in a ten-times-barr'd-up chest Is a bold spirit in a loyal breast. Mine honour is my life ; both grow in one ; Take honour from me, and my life is done. Then, dear my liege, mine honour let me try ; In that I live, and for that will I die. R. Rich. Cousin, throw up your gage. Do
you begin. Boling. 0, God defend my soul from such
deep sin! Shall I seem crest-fallen in my father's sight, Or with pale beggar-fear impeach my height 189 Before this out-dar'd dastard ? Ere my tongue Shall wound my honour 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 harbour, even in Mowbray's face.
(Exit Gaunt. 196 K. Rich. 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; There shall your swords and lances arbitrate The swelling difference of your settled hate, 201 Since we cannot atone you, we shall see Justice design the victor's chivalry. Lord Marshal, command our officers at arms Be ready to direct these home alarms.
(Exeunt. SCENE II. (London. The Duke of Lancaster's
palace.) Enter JOHN OF GAUNT with the DUCHESS OF
GLOUCESTER. Gaunt. Alas, the part I had in Woodstock's
blood Doth more solicit me than your exclaims, To stir against the butchers of his life! But since correction lieth in those hands Which made the fault that we cannot correct, 6 Put we our quarrel to the will of Heaven; Who, when they see the hours ripe on earth, Will 'rain hot vengeance on offenders' heads. Duch. Finds brotherhood in thee no sharper
spur? Hath love in thy old blood no living fire ? Edward's seven sons, whereof thyself art one,
Were as seven vials of his sacred blood,
course, Some of those branches by the Destinies cut; 16 But Thomas, my dear lord, my life, my Glouces
ter, One vial full of Edward's sacred blood, One flourishing branch of his most royal root, Is crack'd, and all the precious liquor spilt, Is hack'd down, and his summer leaves all
faded, By Envy's hand and Murder's bloody axe. Ah, Gaunt, his blood was thine! That bed,
that womb, That mettle, that self-mould, that fashion'd
thee Made him a man; and though thou liv'st and
breath'st, Yet art thou slain in him. Thou dost consent In some large measure to thy father's death, 26 In that thou seest thy wretched brother die, Who was the model of thy father's life. Call it not patience, Gaunt; it is despair. In suffering thus thy brother to be slaught’red, Thou show'st the naked pathway to thy life, si Teaching stern Murder how to butcher thee. That which in mean men we intitle patience Is pale cold cowardice in noble breasts. What shall I say? To safeguard thine own
life, The best way is to venge my Gloucester's death. Gaunt. God's is the quarrel ; for God's sub
stitute, His deputy anointed in His sight, Hath caus'd his death ; the which if wrong
fully, Let Heaven
for I An angry arm against His minister. Duch. Where then, alas, may I complain my
self? Gaunt. To God, the widow's champion and
defence. Duch. Why, then, I will. Farewell, old
Gaunt! Thou go'st to Coventry, there to behold Our cousin Hereford and fell Mowbray fight. O, sit my husband's wrongs on Hereford's
spear, That it may enter butcher Mowbray's breast ! Or, if misfortune miss the first career, Be Mowbray's sins so heavy in his bosom, That they may break his foaming courser's
back, And throw the rider headlong in the lists, A caitiff recreant to my cousin Hereford ! Farewell, old Gaunt! Thy sometimes brother's
wife With her companion grief must end her life. 65
Gaunt. Sister, farewell ; I must to Coventry. As much good stay with thee as go with me! Duch. Yet one word more; grief boundeth
where it falls, Not with the empty hollowness, but weight. I take my leave before I have begun, For sorrow ends not when it seemeth done. Commend me to thy brother, Edmund York.
may never lift
Lo, this is all :
: - nay, yet depart not so; Though this be all, do not so quickly go; I shall remember more. Bid him - ah, what?With all good speed at Plashy visit me. Alack, and what shall good old York there see But empty lodgings and unfurnish'd walls, Unpeopled offices, untrodden stones ? And what hear there for welcome but my
groans ? Therefore commend me; let him not come
there, To seek out sorrow that dwells everywhere. Desolate, desolate, will I hence and die. The last leave of thee takes my weeping eye.
[Ereunt. SCENE III. (The lists at Coventry.] Enter the LORD MARSHAL and the DUKE OF
AUMERLE. Mar. My Lord Aumerle, is Harry Hereford
arm'd? Aum. Yea, at all points ; and longs to enter
in. Mar. The Duke of Norfolk, sprightfully and
bold, Stays but the summons of the appellant's
trumpet. Aum. Why, then, the champions are pre
par'd, and stay For nothing but bis Majesty's approach. The trumpets sound, and the King enters with
his nobles, GAUNT, Bushy, BAGOT, GREEN, and others. When they are set, enter MowBRAY in arms, defendant, with a HERALD. K. Rich. Marshal, demand of yonder cham
pion The cause of his arrival here in arms. Ask him his name, and orderly proceed To swear him in the justice of his cause. Mar. In God's name and the King's, say
who thou art And why thou com'st thus knightly clad in
arms, Against what man thou com'st, and what thy
quarrel. Speak truly, on thy knighthood and thy oath ; And so defend thee Heaven and thy valour! 15 Mow. My name is Thomas Mowbray, Duke
of Norfolk; Who hither come engaged by my oath Which God defend a knight should violate ! Both to defend my loyalty and truth To God, my King, and my succeeding issue, 20 Against the Duke of Hereford that appeals me; And, by the grace of God and this mine arm, To prove him, in defending of myself, A traitor to my God, my King, and me: And as I truly fight, defend me Heaven ! The trumpets sound. Enter BOLINGBROKE, ap
pellant, in armour, with a HERALD. K. Rich. Marshal, ask yonder knight in
arms, Both who he is and why he cometh hither Thus plated in habiliments of war,
And formally, according to our law,
com'st thou hither, Before King Richard in his royal lists? Against whom comest thou ? and what's thy
quarrel ? Speak like a true knight, so defend thee
Heaven ! Boling. Harry of Hereford, Lancaster, and
Derby Am I; who ready here do stand in arms, To prove, by God's grace and my body's valour, In lists, on Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, That he's a traitor, foul and dangerous, To God of heaven, King Richard, and to
me; And as I truly fight, defend me Heaven!
Mar. On pain of death, no person be so bold Or daring-hardy as to touch the lists, Except the Marshal and such officers Appointed to direct these fair designs. Boling. Lord Marshal, let me kiss my suv
ereign's hand, And bow my knee before his Majesty ; For Mowbray and myself are like two men That yow a long and weary pilgrimage. Then let us take a ceremonious leave And loving farewell of our several friends. Mar. The appellant in all duty greets your
Highness, And craves to kiss your hand and take his
leave. K. Rich. We will descend and fold him in Cousin of Hereford, as thy cause is right, So be thy fortune in this royal fight! Farewell, my blood ; which if to-day thou shed, Lament we may, but not revenge thee dead.
Boling. O, let no noble eye profane a tear For me, if I be gor'd with Mowbray's spear. 6 As confident as is the falcon's flight Against a bird, do I with Mowbray fight. My loving lord, I take my leave of you;
you, my noble cousin, Lord Aumerle; Not sick, although I have to do with death, e But lusty, young, and cheerly drawing breath. Lo, as at English feasts, so I regreet The daintiest last, to make the end most
sweet: O thou, the earthly author of my blood, Whose youthful spirit, in me regenerate, Doth with a twofold vigour lift me up To reach at victory above my head, Add proof unto mine armour with thy prayers; And with thy blessings steel my lance's point, That it may enter Mowbray's waxen coat, And furbish new the name of John o'Gaunt, Even in the lusty haviour of his son. Gaunt. God in thy good cause make thee
prosperous ! Be swift like lightning in the execution ; And let thy blows, doubly redoubled, Fall like amazing thunder on the casque Of thy adverse pernicious enemy. Rouse up thy youthful blood, be valiant, and