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King Richard II Scenes

Scene 5

The dungeon of Pomfret Castle.

(King Richard; Groom of the Stable; Keeper; Exton; Servants)

In his cell, Richard thinks on his state and what he once was, and how he cannot stop thinking. He hears music and considers how he cannot enjoy it. A groom who once served Richard comes to see him, and tells him of Henry’s coronation and how the new King rode Richard’s favorite horse. Exton and his servants enter; realizing what they are here for, Richard grabs an axe from one of them and fights, managing to kill two of them before Exton kills him. Exton immediately begins to doubt the goodness of what he has done. (120 lines)

Enter Richard alone.


I have been studying how I may compare

This prison where I live unto the world;

And for because the world is populous,

And here is not a creature but myself,

I cannot do it; yet I’ll hammer it out.

My brain I’ll prove the female to my soul,

My soul the father, and these two beget

A generation of still-breeding thoughts;

And these some thoughts people this little world,

In humors like the people of this world:

For no thought is contented. The better sort,

As thoughts of things divine, are intermix’d

With scruples and do set the word itself

Against the word,

As thus: “Come, little ones,” and then again,

“It is as hard to come as for a camel

To thread the postern of a small needle’s eye.”

Thoughts tending to ambition, they do plot

Unlikely wonders: how these vain weak nails

May tear a passage thorough the flinty ribs

Of this hard world, my ragged prison walls;

And for they cannot, die in their own pride.

Thoughts tending to content flatter themselves

That they are not the first of fortune’s slaves,

Nor shall not be the last—like seely beggars

Who sitting in the stocks refuge their shame,

That many have and others must sit there;

And in this thought they find a kind of ease,

Bearing their own misfortunes on the back

Of such as have before endur’d the like.

Thus play I in one person many people,

And none contented. Sometimes am I king;

Then treasons make me wish myself a beggar,

And so I am. Then crushing penury

Persuades me I was better when a king;

Then am I king’d again, and by and by

Think that I am unking’d by Bullingbrook,

And straight am nothing. But what e’er I be,

Nor I, nor any man that but man is,

With nothing shall be pleas’d, till he be eas’d

With being nothing.

The music plays.

Music do I hear?

Ha, ha, keep time! How sour sweet music is

When time is broke, and no proportion kept!

So is it in the music of men’s lives.

And here have I the daintiness of ear

To check time broke in a disordered string;

But for the concord of my state and time

Had not an ear to hear my true time broke.

I wasted time, and now doth time waste me;

For now hath time made me his numb’ring clock:

My thoughts are minutes, and with sighs they jar

Their watches on unto mine eyes, the outward watch,

Whereto my finger, like a dial’s point,

Is pointing still, in cleansing them from tears.

Now, sir, the sound that tells what hour it is

Are clamorous groans, which strike upon my heart,

Which is the bell. So sighs, and tears, and groans

Show minutes, times, and hours; but my time

Runs posting on in Bullingbrook’s proud joy,

While I stand fooling here, his Jack of the clock.

This music mads me, let it sound no more,

For though it have holp mad men to their wits,

In me it seems it will make wise men mad.

Yet blessing on his heart that gives it me!

For ’tis a sign of love; and love to Richard

Is a strange brooch in this all-hating world.

Enter a Groom of the Stable.


Hail, royal prince!


Thanks, noble peer!

The cheapest of us is ten groats too dear.

What art thou? And how comest thou hither,

Where no man never comes, but that sad dog

That brings me food to make misfortune live?


I was a poor groom of thy stable, King,

When thou wert king; who, traveling towards York,

With much ado (at length) have gotten leave

To look upon my sometimes royal master’s face.

O how it ern’d my heart when I beheld

In London streets, that coronation-day,

When Bullingbrook rode on roan Barbary,

That horse that thou so often hast bestrid,

That horse that I so carefully have dress’d!


Rode he on Barbary? Tell me, gentle friend,

How went he under him?


So proudly as if he disdain’d the ground.


So proud that Bullingbrook was on his back!

That jade hath eat bread from my royal hand,

This hand hath made him proud with clapping him.

Would he not stumble? Would he not fall down,

Since pride must have a fall, and break the neck

Of that proud man that did usurp his back?

Forgiveness, horse! Why do I rail on thee,

Since thou, created to be aw’d by man,

Wast born to bear? I was not made a horse,

And yet I bear a burden like an ass,

Spurr’d, gall’d, and tir’d by jauncing Bullingbrook.

Enter the Keeper to Richard with meat.


Fellow, give place, here is no longer stay.


If thou love me, ’tis time thou wert away.


What my tongue dares not, that my heart shall say.

Exit Groom.


My lord, will’t please you to fall to?


Taste of it first, as thou art wont to do.


My lord, I dare not. Sir Pierce of Exton, who

Lately came from the King, commands the contrary.


The devil take Henry of Lancaster and thee!

Patience is stale, and I am weary of it.

Beats the Keeper.


Help, help, help!

The murderers, Exton and Servants, rush in armed.


How now, what means death in this rude assault?

Villain, thy own hand yields thy death’s instrument,

Snatches an axe from a Servant and kills him.

Go thou and fill another room in hell.

Kills another. Here Exton strikes him down.

That hand shall burn in never-quenching fire

That staggers thus my person. Exton, thy fierce hand

Hath with the King’s blood stain’d the King’s own land.

Mount, mount, my soul! Thy seat is up on high,

Whilst my gross flesh sinks downward, here to die.



As full of valor as of royal blood!

Both have I spill’d; O would the deed were good!

For now the devil that told me I did well

Says that this deed is chronicled in hell.

This dead king to the living king I’ll bear;

Take hence the rest, and give them burial here.



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