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Richard II - Act 1, scene 2
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Navigate this workRichard II - Act 1, scene 2
Act 1, scene 2
The widow of the duke of Gloucester begs John of Gaunt to avenge the murder of her husband. Gaunt says that the king was responsible for Gloucester’s murder and that, since the king is God’s deputy, only God can take vengeance.Enter John of Gaunt with the Duchess of Gloucester.
0212 Alas, the part I had in Woodstock’s blood
0213 Doth more solicit me than your exclaims
0214 To stir against the butchers of his life.
0215 But since correction lieth in those hands
0216 5 Which made the fault that we cannot correct,
0217 Put we our quarrel to the will of heaven,
0218 Who, when they see the hours ripe on Earth,
0219 Will rain hot vengeance on offenders’ heads.
0220 Finds brotherhood in thee no sharper spur?
0221 10 Hath love in thy old blood no living fire?
0222 Edward’s seven sons, whereof thyself art one,
0223 Were as seven vials of his sacred blood
0224 Or seven fair branches springing from one root.
0225 Some of those seven are dried by nature’s course,
0226 15 Some of those branches by the Destinies cut.
0227 But Thomas, my dear lord, my life, my Gloucester,
0228 One vial full of Edward’s sacred blood,
0229 One flourishing branch of his most royal root,
0230 Is cracked and all the precious liquor spilt,
0231 20 Is hacked down, and his summer leaves all faded,
0232 By envy’s hand and murder’s bloody ax.
p. 230233 Ah, Gaunt, his blood was thine! That bed, that
0235 That metal, that self mold that fashioned thee
0236 25 Made him a man; and though thou livest and
0238 Yet art thou slain in him. Thou dost consent
0239 In some large measure to thy father’s death
0240 In that thou seest thy wretched brother die,
0241 30 Who was the model of thy father’s life.
0242 Call it not patience, Gaunt. It is despair.
0243 In suff’ring thus thy brother to be slaughtered,
0244 Thou showest the naked pathway to thy life,
0245 Teaching stern murder how to butcher thee.
0246 35 That which in mean men we entitle patience
0247 Is pale, cold cowardice in noble breasts.
0248 What shall I say? To safeguard thine own life,
0249 The best way is to venge my Gloucester’s death.
0250 God’s is the quarrel; for God’s substitute,
0251 40 His deputy anointed in His sight,
0252 Hath caused his death, the which if wrongfully
0253 Let heaven revenge, for I may never lift
0254 An angry arm against His minister.
0255 Where, then, alas, may I complain myself?
0256 45 To God, the widow’s champion and defense.
0257 Why then I will. Farewell, old Gaunt.
0258 Thou goest to Coventry, there to behold
0259 Our cousin Hereford and fell Mowbray fight.
0260 O, ⌜sit⌝ my husband’s wrongs on Hereford’s spear,
0261 50 That it may enter butcher Mowbray’s breast!
0262 Or if misfortune miss the first career,
0263 Be Mowbray’s sins so heavy in his bosom
p. 250264 That they may break his foaming courser’s back
0265 And throw the rider headlong in the lists,
0266 55 A caitiff recreant to my cousin Hereford!
0267 Farewell, old Gaunt. Thy sometime brother’s wife
0268 With her companion, grief, must end her life.
0269 Sister, farewell. I must to Coventry.
0270 As much good stay with thee as go with me.
0271 60 Yet one word more. Grief boundeth where ⌜it⌝ falls,
0272 Not with the empty hollowness, but weight.
0273 I take my leave before I have begun,
0274 For sorrow ends not when it seemeth done.
0275 Commend me to thy brother, Edmund York.
0276 65 Lo, this is all. Nay, yet depart not so!
0277 Though this be all, do not so quickly go;
0278 I shall remember more. Bid him—ah, what?—
0279 With all good speed at Plashy visit me.
0280 Alack, and what shall good old York there see
0281 70 But empty lodgings and unfurnished walls,
0282 Unpeopled offices, untrodden stones?
0283 And what hear there for welcome but my groans?
0284 Therefore commend me; let him not come there
0285 To seek out sorrow that dwells everywhere.
0286 75 Desolate, desolate, will I hence and die.
0287 The last leave of thee takes my weeping eye.