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Richard II - Act 1, scene 1
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Navigate this workRichard II - Act 1, scene 1
Act 1, scene 1
Henry Bolingbroke, King Richard’s cousin, publicly accuses Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk, of treason. Among Bolingbroke’s charges is that Mowbray was responsible for the murder of Henry’s and Richard’s uncle the duke of Gloucester. When Richard and Gaunt, Bolingbroke’s father, are unable to reconcile Bolingbroke and Mowbray, Richard orders them to trial by combat at Coventry.Enter King Richard, John of Gaunt, with other Nobles
0001 Old John of Gaunt, time-honored Lancaster,
0002 Hast thou, according to thy oath and band,
0003 Brought hither Henry Hereford, thy bold son,
0004 Here to make good the boist’rous late appeal,
0005 5 Which then our leisure would not let us hear,
0006 Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray?
GAUNT 0007 I have, my liege.
0008 Tell me, moreover, hast thou sounded him
0009 If he appeal the Duke on ancient malice
0010 10 Or worthily, as a good subject should,
0011 On some known ground of treachery in him?
0012 As near as I could sift him on that argument,
0013 On some apparent danger seen in him
0014 Aimed at your Highness, no inveterate malice.
0015 15 Then call them to our presence.
⌜An Attendant exits.⌝
0016 Face to face
0017 And frowning brow to brow, ourselves will hear
p. 90018 The accuser and the accusèd freely speak.
0019 High stomached are they both and full of ire,
0020 20 In rage deaf as the sea, hasty as fire.
Enter Bolingbroke and Mowbray.
0021 Many years of happy days befall
0022 My gracious sovereign, my most loving liege.
0023 Each day still better other’s happiness
0024 Until the heavens, envying earth’s good hap,
0025 25 Add an immortal title to your crown.
0026 We thank you both. Yet one but flatters us,
0027 As well appeareth by the cause you come:
0028 Namely, to appeal each other of high treason.
0029 Cousin of Hereford, what dost thou object
0030 30 Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray?
0031 First—heaven be the record to my speech!—
0032 In the devotion of a subject’s love,
0033 Tend’ring the precious safety of my prince
0034 And free from other misbegotten hate,
0035 35 Come I appellant to this princely presence.—
0036 Now, Thomas Mowbray, do I turn to thee;
0037 And mark my greeting well, for what I speak
0038 My body shall make good upon this earth
0039 Or my divine soul answer it in heaven.
0040 40 Thou art a traitor and a miscreant,
0041 Too good to be so and too bad to live,
0042 Since the more fair and crystal is the sky,
0043 The uglier seem the clouds that in it fly.
0044 Once more, the more to aggravate the note,
0045 45 With a foul traitor’s name stuff I thy throat,
0046 And wish, so please my sovereign, ere I move,
p. 110047 What my tongue speaks my right-drawn sword may
0049 Let not my cold words here accuse my zeal.
0050 50 ’Tis not the trial of a woman’s war,
0051 The bitter clamor of two eager tongues,
0052 Can arbitrate this cause betwixt us twain.
0053 The blood is hot that must be cooled for this.
0054 Yet can I not of such tame patience boast
0055 55 As to be hushed and naught at all to say.
0056 First, the fair reverence of your Highness curbs me
0057 From giving reins and spurs to my free speech,
0058 Which else would post until it had returned
0059 These terms of treason doubled down his throat.
0060 60 Setting aside his high blood’s royalty,
0061 And let him be no kinsman to my liege,
0062 I do defy him, and I spit at him,
0063 Call him a slanderous coward and a villain,
0064 Which to maintain I would allow him odds
0065 65 And meet him, were I tied to run afoot
0066 Even to the frozen ridges of the Alps
0067 Or any other ground inhabitable
0068 Wherever Englishman durst set his foot.
0069 Meantime let this defend my loyalty:
0070 70 By all my hopes, most falsely doth he lie.
BOLINGBROKE, ⌜throwing down a gage⌝
0071 Pale trembling coward, there I throw my gage,
0072 Disclaiming here the kindred of the King,
0073 And lay aside my high blood’s royalty,
0074 Which fear, not reverence, makes thee to except.
0075 75 If guilty dread have left thee so much strength
0076 As to take up mine honor’s pawn, then stoop.
0077 By that and all the rites of knighthood else
0078 Will I make good against thee, arm to arm,
0079 What I have spoke or thou canst worse devise.
p. 13MOWBRAY, ⌜picking up the gage⌝
0080 80 I take it up, and by that sword I swear
0081 Which gently laid my knighthood on my shoulder,
0082 I’ll answer thee in any fair degree
0083 Or chivalrous design of knightly trial;
0084 And when I mount, alive may I not light
0085 85 If I be traitor or unjustly fight.
0086 What doth our cousin lay to Mowbray’s charge?
0087 It must be great that can inherit us
0088 So much as of a thought of ill in him.
0089 Look what I speak, my life shall prove it true:
0090 90 That Mowbray hath received eight thousand nobles
0091 In name of lendings for your Highness’ soldiers,
0092 The which he hath detained for lewd employments,
0093 Like a false traitor and injurious villain.
0094 Besides I say, and will in battle prove,
0095 95 Or here or elsewhere to the furthest verge
0096 That ever was surveyed by English eye,
0097 That all the treasons for these eighteen years
0098 Complotted and contrivèd in this land
0099 Fetch from false Mowbray their first head and
0100 100 spring.
0101 Further I say, and further will maintain
0102 Upon his bad life to make all this good,
0103 That he did plot the Duke of Gloucester’s death,
0104 Suggest his soon-believing adversaries,
0105 105 And consequently, like a traitor coward,
0106 Sluiced out his innocent soul through streams of
0108 Which blood, like sacrificing Abel’s, cries
0109 Even from the tongueless caverns of the earth
0110 110 To me for justice and rough chastisement.
0111 And, by the glorious worth of my descent,
0112 This arm shall do it, or this life be spent.
p. 15KING RICHARD
0113 How high a pitch his resolution soars!—
0114 Thomas of Norfolk, what sayst thou to this?
0115 115 O, let my sovereign turn away his face
0116 And bid his ears a little while be deaf,
0117 Till I have told this slander of his blood
0118 How God and good men hate so foul a liar.
0119 Mowbray, impartial are our eyes and ears.
0120 120 Were he my brother, nay, my kingdom’s heir,
0121 As he is but my father’s brother’s son,
0122 Now by ⌜my⌝ scepter’s awe I make a vow:
0123 Such neighbor nearness to our sacred blood
0124 Should nothing privilege him nor partialize
0125 125 The unstooping firmness of my upright soul.
0126 He is our subject, Mowbray; so art thou.
0127 Free speech and fearless I to thee allow.
0128 Then, Bolingbroke, as low as to thy heart,
0129 Through the false passage of thy throat, thou liest.
0130 130 Three parts of that receipt I had for Calais
0131 Disbursed I duly to his Highness’ soldiers;
0132 The other part reserved I by consent,
0133 For that my sovereign liege was in my debt
0134 Upon remainder of a dear account
0135 135 Since last I went to France to fetch his queen.
0136 Now swallow down that lie. For Gloucester’s death,
0137 I slew him not, but to my own disgrace
0138 Neglected my sworn duty in that case.—
0139 For you, my noble Lord of Lancaster,
0140 140 The honorable father to my foe,
0141 Once did I lay an ambush for your life,
0142 A trespass that doth vex my grievèd soul.
0143 But ere I last received the sacrament,
0144 I did confess it and exactly begged
p. 170145 145 Your Grace’s pardon, and I hope I had it.—
0146 This is my fault. As for the rest appealed,
0147 It issues from the rancor of a villain,
0148 A recreant and most degenerate traitor,
0149 Which in myself I boldly will defend,
0150 150 And interchangeably hurl down my gage
0151 Upon this overweening traitor’s foot,
⌜He throws down a gage.⌝
0152 To prove myself a loyal gentleman,
0153 Even in the best blood chambered in his bosom;
0154 In haste whereof most heartily I pray
0155 155 Your Highness to assign our trial day.
⌜Bolingbroke picks up the gage.⌝
0156 Wrath-kindled ⌜gentlemen,⌝ be ruled by me.
0157 Let’s purge this choler without letting blood.
0158 This we prescribe, though no physician.
0159 Deep malice makes too deep incision.
0160 160 Forget, forgive; conclude and be agreed.
0161 Our doctors say this is no month to bleed.—
0162 Good uncle, let this end where it begun;
0163 We’ll calm the Duke of Norfolk, you your son.
0164 To be a make-peace shall become my age.—
0165 165 Throw down, my son, the Duke of Norfolk’s gage.
0166 And, Norfolk, throw down his.
GAUNT 0167 When, Harry, when?
0168 Obedience bids I should not bid again.
0169 Norfolk, throw down, we bid; there is no boot.
0170 170 Myself I throw, dread sovereign, at thy foot.
0171 My life thou shalt command, but not my shame.
0172 The one my duty owes, but my fair name,
p. 190173 Despite of death that lives upon my grave,
0174 To dark dishonor’s use thou shalt not have.
0175 175 I am disgraced, impeached, and baffled here,
0176 Pierced to the soul with slander’s venomed spear,
0177 The which no balm can cure but his heart-blood
0178 Which breathed this poison.
KING RICHARD 0179 Rage must be withstood.
0180 180 Give me his gage. Lions make leopards tame.
0181 Yea, but not change his spots. Take but my shame
0182 And I resign my gage. My dear dear lord,
0183 The purest treasure mortal times afford
0184 Is spotless reputation; that away,
0185 185 Men are but gilded loam or painted clay.
0186 A jewel in a ten-times-barred-up chest
0187 Is a bold spirit in a loyal breast.
0188 Mine honor is my life; both grow in one.
0189 Take honor from me and my life is done.
0190 190 Then, dear my liege, mine honor let me try.
0191 In that I live, and for that will I die.
KING RICHARD, ⌜to Bolingbroke⌝
0192 Cousin, throw up your gage. Do you begin.
0193 O, God defend my soul from such deep sin!
0194 Shall I seem crestfallen in my father’s sight?
0195 195 Or with pale beggar-fear impeach my height
0196 Before this out-dared dastard? Ere my tongue
0197 Shall wound my honor with such feeble wrong
0198 Or sound so base a ⌜parle,⌝ my teeth shall tear
0199 The slavish motive of recanting fear
0200 200 And spit it bleeding in his high disgrace,
0201 Where shame doth harbor, even in Mowbray’s face.
0202 We were not born to sue, but to command,
0203 Which, since we cannot do, to make you friends,
0204 Be ready, as your lives shall answer it,
p. 210205 205 At Coventry upon Saint Lambert’s day.
0206 There shall your swords and lances arbitrate
0207 The swelling difference of your settled hate.
0208 Since we cannot atone you, we shall see
0209 Justice design the victor’s chivalry.—
0210 210 Lord Marshal, command our officers-at-arms
0211 Be ready to direct these home alarms.