King Richard II Scenes
The lists at Coventry.
(Lord Marshal; Duke Aumerle; King Richard; Gaunt; Bushy; Bagot; Green; Mowbray; Duke of Norfolk; First Herald; Second Herald; Bullingbrook; Duke Henry of Herford)
With pomp and pageantry, Bullingbrook and Mowbray appear before Richard for their duel. They prepare with great formality, but just as they are about to attack, Richard intervenes and stops them. The King calls his nobles to him, and announces his decision to exile both Bullingbrook and Mowbray, the one for ten years, the other for life, giving as pretext the fear that their dissention could cause civil war. Mowbray protests, but Richard is inflexible. He has both enemies swear an oath never to see each other in their exile. They do so, and Mowbray departs. For Gaunt’s sake, Richard shortens the term of Bullingbrook’s banishment to six years, but the aged Gaunt knows that he will never see his son again. Bullingbrook bids farewell to family and friends. ( line)
Enter Lord Marshal and the Duke Aumerle.
My Lord Aumerle, is Harry Herford arm’d?
Yea, at all points, and longs to enter in.
The Duke of Norfolk, sprightfully and bold,
Stays but the summons of the appellant’s trumpet.
Why then the champions are prepar’d, and stay
For nothing but his 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, the Duke of Norfolk, in arms, defendant, with a Herald.
Marshal, demand of yonder champion
The cause of his arrival here in arms;
Ask him his name, and orderly proceed
To swear him in the justice of his cause.
In God’s name and the King’s, say who thou art
And why thou comest thus knightly clad in arms,
Against what man thou com’st, and what thy quarrel.
Speak truly on thy knighthood and thy oath,
As so defend thee heaven and thy valor!
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,
Against the Duke of Herford 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 Bullingbrook, Duke of Herford, appellant, in armor, with a Herald.
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,
Depose him in the justice of his cause.
What is thy name? And wherefore com’st thou hither
Before King Richard in his royal lists?
Against whom com’st thou? And what’s thy quarrel?
Speak like a true knight, so defend thee heaven!
Harry of Herford, Lancaster, and Derby
Am I, who ready here do stand in arms
To prove by God’s grace, and my body’s valor,
In lists, on Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk,
That he is a traitor, foul and dangerous,
To God of heaven, King Richard, and to me—
And as I truly fight, defend me heaven!
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.
Lord Marshal, let me kiss my sovereign’s hand
And bow my knee before his Majesty,
For Mowbray and myself are like two men
That vow a long and weary pilgrimage.
Then let us take a ceremonious leave
And loving farewell of our several friends.
The appellant in all duty greets your Highness,
And craves to kiss your hand and take his leave.
We will descend and fold him in our arms.
Cousin of Herford, as thy cause is right,
So be thy fortune in this royal fight!
Farewell, my blood, which if today thou shed,
Lament we may, but not revenge thee dead.
O, let no noble eye profane a tear
For me, if I be gor’d with Mowbray’s spear.
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;
Of you, my noble cousin, Lord Aumerle;
Not sick, although I have to do with death,
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 vigor lift me up
To reach at victory above my head,
Add proof unto mine armor 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 a’ Gaunt,
Even in the lusty havior of his son.
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 live.
Mine innocence and Saint George to thrive!
However God or fortune cast my lot,
There lives or dies, true to King Richard’s throne,
A loyal, just, and upright gentleman.
Never did captive with a freer heart
Cast off his chains of bondage, and embrace
His golden uncontroll’d enfranchisement,
More than my dancing soul doth celebrate
This feast of battle with mine adversary.
Most mighty liege, and my companion peers,
Take from my mouth the wish of happy years.
As gentle and as jocund as to jest
Go I to fight: truth hath a quiet breast.
Farewell, my lord, securely I espy
Virtue with valor couched in thine eye.
Order the trial, Marshal, and begin.
Harry of Herford, Lancaster, and Derby,
Receive thy lance, and God defend the right!
Strong as a tower in hope, I cry amen.
To an Officer.
Go bear this lance to Thomas Duke of Norfolk,
Harry of Herford, Lancaster, and Derby
Stands here for God, his sovereign, and himself,
On pain to be found false and recreant,
To prove the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray,
A traitor to his God, his king, and him,
And dares him to set forward to the fight.
Here standeth Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk,
On pain to be found false and recreant,
Both to defend himself and to approve
Henry of Herford, Lancaster, and Derby
To God, his sovereign, and to him disloyal,
Courageously, and with a free desire,
Attending but the signal to begin.
Sound, trumpets, and set forward, combatants.
A charge sounded.
Stay, the King hath thrown his warder down.
Let them lay by their helmets and their spears,
And both return back to their chairs again.
Withdraw with us, and let the trumpets sound
While we return these dukes what we decree.
A long flourish.
And list what with our Council we have done:
For that our kingdom’s earth should not be soil’d
With that dear blood which it hath fostered;
And for our eyes do hate the dire aspect
Of civil wounds plough’d up with neighbors’ sword;
And for we think the eagle-winged pride
Of sky-aspiring and ambitious thoughts,
With rival-hating envy, set on you
To wake our peace, which in our country’s cradle
Draws the sweet infant breath of gentle sleep;
Which so rous’d up with boist’rous untun’d drums,
With harsh-resounding trumpets’ dreadful bray,
And grating shock of wrathful iron arms,
Might from our quiet confines fright fair peace,
And make us wade even in our kinred’s blood:
Therefore we banish you our territories.
You, cousin Herford, upon pain of life,
Till twice five summers have enrich’d our fields
Shall not regreet our fair dominions,
But tread the stranger paths of banishment.
Your will be done. This must my comfort be,
That sun that warms you here shall shine on me,
And those his golden beams to you here lent
Shall point on me and gild my banishment.
Norfolk, for thee remains a heavier doom,
Which I with same unwillingness pronounce:
The sly, slow hours shall not determinate
The dateless limit of thy dear exile;
The hopeless word of “never to return”
Breathe I against thee, upon pain of life.
A heavy sentence, my most sovereign liege,
And all unlook’d for from your Highness’ mouth.
A dearer merit, not so deep a maim
As to be cast forth in the common air,
Have I deserved at your Highness’ hands.
The language I have learnt these forty years,
My native English, now I must forgo,
And now my tongue’s use is to me no more
Than an unstringed viol or a harp,
Or like a cunning instrument cas’d up,
Or being open, put into his hands
That knows no touch to tune the harmony.
Within my mouth you have enjail’d my tongue,
Doubly portcullis’d with my teeth and lips,
And dull unfeeling barren ignorance
Is made my jailer to attend on me.
I am too old to fawn upon a nurse,
Too far in years to be a pupil now.
What is thy sentence then but speechless death,
Which robs my tongue from breathing native breath?
It boots thee not to be compassionate,
After our sentence plaining comes too late.
Then thus I turn me from my country’s light,
To dwell in solemn shades of endless night.
Return again, and take an oath with thee.
Lay on our royal sword your banish’d hands;
Swear by the duty that y’ owe to God
(Our part therein we banish with yourselves)
To keep the oath that we administer:
You never shall, so help you truth and God,
Embrace each other’s love in banishment,
Nor never look upon each other’s face,
Nor never write, regreet, nor reconcile
This low’ring tempest of your home-bred hate,
Nor never by advised purpose meet
To plot, contrive, or complot any ill
’Gainst us, our state, our subjects, or our land.
And I, to keep all this.
Norfolk, so fare as to mine enemy:
By this time, had the King permitted us,
One of our souls had wand’red in the air,
Banish’d this frail sepulchre of our flesh,
As now our flesh is banish’d from this land;
Confess thy treasons ere thou fly the realm;
Since thou hast far to go, bear not along
The clogging burden of a guilty soul.
No, Bullingbrook, if ever I were traitor,
My name be blotted from the book of life,
And I from heaven banish’d as from hence!
But what thou art, God, thou, and I do know,
And all too soon, I fear, the King shall rue.
Farewell, my liege, now no way can I stray;
Save back to England, all the world’s my way.
Uncle, even in the glasses of thine eyes
I see thy grieved heart. Thy sad aspect
Hath from the number of his banish’d years
Pluck’d four away.
Six frozen winters spent,
Return with welcome home from banishment.
How long a time lies in one little word!
Four lagging winters and four wanton springs
End in a word: such is the breath of kings.
I thank my liege that in regard of me
He shortens four years of my son’s exile,
But little vantage shall I reap thereby;
For ere the six years that he hath to spend
Can change their moons and bring their times about,
My oil-dried lamp and time-bewasted light
Shall be extinct with age and endless night;
My inch of taper will be burnt and done,
And blindfold Death not let me see my son.
Why, uncle, thou hast many years to live.
But not a minute, King, that thou canst give.
Shorten my days thou canst with sullen sorrow,
And pluck nights from me, but not lend a morrow;
Thou canst help time to furrow me with age,
But stop no wrinkle in his pilgrimage;
Thy word is current with him for my death,
But dead, thy kingdom cannot buy my breath.
Thy son is banish’d upon good advice,
Whereto thy tongue a party-verdict gave.
Why at our justice seem’st thou then to low’r?
Things sweet to taste prove in digestion sour.
You urg’d me as a judge, but I had rather
You would have bid me argue like a father.
O, had’t been a stranger, not my child,
To smooth his fault I should have been more mild.
A partial slander sought I to avoid,
And in the sentence my own life destroyed.
Alas, I look’d when some of you should say
I was too strict to make mine own away;
But you gave leave to my unwilling tongue
Against my will to do myself this wrong.
Cousin, farewell; and, uncle, bid him so.
Six years we banish him, and he shall go.
Flourish. Exit with his Train.
Cousin, farewell! What presence must not know,
From where you do remain let paper show.
My lord, no leave take I, for I will ride,
As far as land will let me, by your side.
O, to what purpose dost thou hoard thy words,
That thou returnest no greeting to thy friends?
I have too few to take my leave of you,
When the tongue’s office should be prodigal
To breathe the abundant dolor of the heart.
Thy grief is but thy absence for a time.
Joy absent, grief is present for that time.
What is six winters? They are quickly gone.
To men in joy, but grief makes one hour ten.
Call it a travel that thou tak’st for pleasure.
My heart will sigh when I miscall it so,
Which finds it an enforced pilgrimage.
The sullen passage of thy weary steps
Esteem as foil wherein thou art to set
The precious jewel of thy home return.
Nay rather, every tedious stride I make
Will but remember me what a deal of world
I wander from the jewels that I love.
Must I not serve a long apprenticehood
To foreign passages, and in the end,
Having my freedom, boast of nothing else
But that I was a journeyman to grief?
All places that the eye of heaven visits
Are to a wise man ports and happy havens.
Teach thy necessity to reason thus:
There is no virtue like necessity.
Think not the King did banish thee,
But thou the King. Woe doth the heavier sit
Where it perceives it is but faintly borne.
Go, say I sent thee forth to purchase honor,
And not the King exil’d thee; or suppose
Devouring pestilence hangs in our air,
And thou art flying to a fresher clime.
Look what thy soul holds dear, imagine it
To lie that way thou goest, not whence thou com’st.
Suppose the singing birds musicians,
The grass whereon thou tread’st the presence strow’d,
The flowers fair ladies, and thy steps no more
Than a delightful measure or a dance,
For gnarling sorrow hath less power to bite
The man that mocks at it and sets it light.
O, who can hold a fire in his hand
By thinking on the frosty Caucasus?
Or cloy the hungry edge of appetite
By bare imagination of a feast?
Or wallow naked in December snow
By thinking on fantastic summer’s heat?
O no, the apprehension of the good
Gives but the greater feeling to the worse.
Fell Sorrow’s tooth doth never rankle more
Than when he bites, but lanceth not the sore.
Come, come, my son, I’ll bring thee on thy way;
Had I thy youth and cause, I would not stay.
Then England’s ground, farewell, sweet soil, adieu;
My mother, and my nurse, that bears me yet!
Where e’er I wander, boast of this I can,
Though banish’d, yet a true-born Englishman.