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History of Richard II

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Act I, Scene 3

The lists at Coventry.


[Enter the Lord Marshal and the DUKE OF AUMERLE]

  • Lord Marshal. The Duke of Norfolk, sprightfully and bold,
    Stays but the summons of the appellant's trumpet.
  • Duke of Aumerle. Why, then, the champions are prepared, and stay
    For nothing but his majesty's approach. 295
    [The trumpets sound, and KING RICHARD enters with]
    his nobles, JOHN OF GAUNT, BUSHY, BAGOT, GREEN, and
    others. When they are set, enter THOMAS MOWBRAY in
    arms, defendant, with a Herald]
  • King Richard II. Marshal, demand of yonder champion 300
    The cause of his arrival here in arms:
    Ask him his name and orderly proceed
    To swear him in the justice of his cause.
  • Lord Marshal. In God's name and the king's, say who thou art
    And why thou comest thus knightly clad in arms, 305
    Against what man thou comest, and what thy quarrel:
    Speak truly, on thy knighthood and thy oath;
    As so defend thee heaven and thy valour!
  • Thomas Mowbray. My name is Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk;
    Who hither come engaged by my oath— 310
    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 Hereford that appeals me
    And, by the grace of God and this mine arm, 315
    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 HENRY BOLINGBROKE,]
    appellant, in armour, with a Herald] 320
  • King Richard II. 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. 325
  • Lord Marshal. What is thy name? and wherefore comest 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!
  • Henry IV. Harry of Hereford, Lancaster and Derby 330
    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 is a traitor, foul and dangerous,
    To God of heaven, King Richard and to me; 335
    And as I truly fight, defend me heaven!
  • Lord Marshal. 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. 340
  • Henry IV. 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 345
    And loving farewell of our several friends.
  • Lord Marshal. The appellant in all duty greets your highness,
    And craves to kiss your hand and take his leave.
  • King Richard II. We will descend and fold him in our arms.
    Cousin of Hereford, as thy cause is right, 350
    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.
  • Henry IV. O let no noble eye profane a tear
    For me, if I be gored with Mowbray's spear: 355
    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, 360
    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, 365
    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, 370
    And furbish new the name of John a Gaunt,
    Even in the lusty havior of his son.
  • John of Gaunt. God in thy good cause make thee prosperous!
    Be swift like lightning in the execution;
    And let thy blows, doubly redoubled, 375
    Fall like amazing thunder on the casque
    Of thy adverse pernicious enemy:
    Rouse up thy youthful blood, be valiant and live.
  • Henry IV. Mine innocency and Saint George to thrive!
  • Thomas Mowbray. However God or fortune cast my lot, 380
    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, 385
    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 390
    Go I to fight: truth hath a quiet breast.
  • King Richard II. Farewell, my lord: securely I espy
    Virtue with valour couched in thine eye.
    Order the trial, marshal, and begin.
  • Lord Marshal. Harry of Hereford, Lancaster and Derby, 395
    Receive thy lance; and God defend the right!
  • Henry IV. Strong as a tower in hope, I cry amen.
  • Lord Marshal. Go bear this lance to Thomas, Duke of Norfolk.
  • First Herald. Harry of Hereford, Lancaster and Derby,
    Stands here for God, his sovereign and himself, 400
    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.
  • Second Herald. Here standeth Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, 405
    On pain to be found false and recreant,
    Both to defend himself and to approve
    Henry of Hereford, Lancaster, and Derby,
    To God, his sovereign and to him disloyal;
    Courageously and with a free desire 410
    Attending but the signal to begin.
  • Lord Marshal. Sound, trumpets; and set forward, combatants.
    [A charge sounded]
    Stay, the king hath thrown his warder down.
  • King Richard II. Let them lay by their helmets and their spears, 415
    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]
    Draw near, 420
    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 neighbours' sword; 425
    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; 430
    Which so roused up with boisterous untuned 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 kindred's blood, 435
    Therefore, we banish you our territories:
    You, cousin Hereford, 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. 440
  • Henry IV. Your will be done: this must my comfort be,
    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.
  • King Richard II. Norfolk, for thee remains a heavier doom, 445
    Which I with some 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. 450
  • Thomas Mowbray. 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. 455
    The language I have learn'd these forty years,
    My native English, now I must forego:
    And now my tongue's use is to me no more
    Than an unstringed viol or a harp,
    Or like a cunning instrument cased up, 460
    Or, being open, put into his hands
    That knows no touch to tune the harmony:
    Within my mouth you have engaol'd my tongue,
    Doubly portcullis'd with my teeth and lips;
    And dull unfeeling barren ignorance 465
    Is made my gaoler 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? 470
  • King Richard II. It boots thee not to be compassionate:
    After our sentence plaining comes too late.
  • Thomas Mowbray. Then thus I turn me from my country's light,
    To dwell in solemn shades of endless night.
  • King Richard II. Return again, and take an oath with thee. 475
    Lay on our royal sword your banish'd hands;
    Swear by the duty that you 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! 480
    Embrace each other's love in banishment;
    Nor never look upon each other's face;
    Nor never write, regreet, nor reconcile
    This louring tempest of your home-bred hate;
    Nor never by advised purpose meet 485
    To plot, contrive, or complot any ill
    'Gainst us, our state, our subjects, or our land.
  • Henry IV. Norfolk, so far as to mine enemy:— 490
    By this time, had the king permitted us,
    One of our souls had wander'd 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; 495
    Since thou hast far to go, bear not along
    The clogging burthen of a guilty soul.
  • Thomas Mowbray. No, Bolingbroke: if ever I were traitor,
    My name be blotted from the book of life,
    And I from heaven banish'd as from hence! 500
    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.


  • King Richard II. 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 winter spent,
    Return with welcome home from banishment.
  • Henry IV. 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. 515
  • John of Gaunt. 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 520
    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.
  • John of Gaunt. 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; 530
    Thy word is current with him for my death,
    But dead, thy kingdom cannot buy my breath.
  • King Richard II. Thy son is banish'd upon good advice,
    Whereto thy tongue a party-verdict gave:
    Why at our justice seem'st thou then to lour? 535
  • John of Gaunt. Things sweet to taste prove in digestion sour.
    You urged me as a judge; but I had rather
    You would have bid me argue like a father.
    O, had it been a stranger, not my child,
    To smooth his fault I should have been more mild: 540
    A partial slander sought I to avoid,
    And in the sentence my own life destroy'd.
    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 545
    Against my will to do myself this wrong.
  • King Richard II. Cousin, farewell; and, uncle, bid him so:
    Six years we banish him, and he shall go.

[Flourish. Exeunt KING RICHARD II and train]

  • Duke of Aumerle. Cousin, farewell: what presence must not know, 550
    From where you do remain let paper show.
  • Lord Marshal. My lord, no leave take I; for I will ride,
    As far as land will let me, by your side.
  • John of Gaunt. O, to what purpose dost thou hoard thy words,
    That thou return'st no greeting to thy friends? 555
  • Henry IV. I have too few to take my leave of you,
    When the tongue's office should be prodigal
    To breathe the abundant dolour of the heart.
  • Henry IV. Joy absent, grief is present for that time. 560
  • Henry IV. To men in joy; but grief makes one hour ten.
  • Henry IV. My heart will sigh when I miscall it so,
    Which finds it an inforced pilgrimage. 565
  • John of Gaunt. The sullen passage of thy weary steps
    Esteem as foil wherein thou art to set
    The precious jewel of thy home return.
  • Henry IV. Nay, rather, every tedious stride I make
    Will but remember me what a deal of world 570
    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? 575
  • John of Gaunt. 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, 580
    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 honour
    And not the king exiled thee; or suppose
    Devouring pestilence hangs in our air 585
    And thou art flying to a fresher clime:
    Look, what thy soul holds dear, imagine it
    To lie that way thou go'st, not whence thou comest:
    Suppose the singing birds musicians,
    The grass whereon thou tread'st the presence strew'd, 590
    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.
  • Henry IV. O, who can hold a fire in his hand 595
    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? 600
    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.
  • John of Gaunt. Come, come, my son, I'll bring thee on thy way: 605
    Had I thy youth and cause, I would not stay.
  • Henry IV. Then, England's ground, farewell; sweet soil, adieu;
    My mother, and my nurse, that bears me yet!
    Where'er I wander, boast of this I can,
    Though banish'd, yet a trueborn Englishman. 610