Open Source Shakespeare

History of Richard II

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Act III, Scene 2

The coast of Wales. A castle in view.


[Drums; flourish and colours. Enter KING RICHARD] [p]II, the BISHOP OF CARLISLE, DUKE OF AUMERLE, and Soldiers]

  • King Richard II. Barkloughly castle call they this at hand?
  • Duke of Aumerle. Yea, my lord. How brooks your grace the air, 1410
    After your late tossing on the breaking seas?
  • King Richard II. Needs must I like it well: I weep for joy
    To stand upon my kingdom once again.
    Dear earth, I do salute thee with my hand,
    Though rebels wound thee with their horses' hoofs: 1415
    As a long-parted mother with her child
    Plays fondly with her tears and smiles in meeting,
    So, weeping, smiling, greet I thee, my earth,
    And do thee favours with my royal hands.
    Feed not thy sovereign's foe, my gentle earth, 1420
    Nor with thy sweets comfort his ravenous sense;
    But let thy spiders, that suck up thy venom,
    And heavy-gaited toads lie in their way,
    Doing annoyance to the treacherous feet
    Which with usurping steps do trample thee: 1425
    Yield stinging nettles to mine enemies;
    And when they from thy bosom pluck a flower,
    Guard it, I pray thee, with a lurking adder
    Whose double tongue may with a mortal touch
    Throw death upon thy sovereign's enemies. 1430
    Mock not my senseless conjuration, lords:
    This earth shall have a feeling and these stones
    Prove armed soldiers, ere her native king
    Shall falter under foul rebellion's arms.
  • Bishop of Carlisle. Fear not, my lord: that Power that made you king 1435
    Hath power to keep you king in spite of all.
    The means that heaven yields must be embraced,
    And not neglected; else, if heaven would,
    And we will not, heaven's offer we refuse,
    The proffer'd means of succor and redress. 1440
  • Duke of Aumerle. He means, my lord, that we are too remiss;
    Whilst Bolingbroke, through our security,
    Grows strong and great in substance and in power.
  • King Richard II. Discomfortable cousin! know'st thou not
    That when the searching eye of heaven is hid, 1445
    Behind the globe, that lights the lower world,
    Then thieves and robbers range abroad unseen
    In murders and in outrage, boldly here;
    But when from under this terrestrial ball
    He fires the proud tops of the eastern pines 1450
    And darts his light through every guilty hole,
    Then murders, treasons and detested sins,
    The cloak of night being pluck'd from off their backs,
    Stand bare and naked, trembling at themselves?
    So when this thief, this traitor, Bolingbroke, 1455
    Who all this while hath revell'd in the night
    Whilst we were wandering with the antipodes,
    Shall see us rising in our throne, the east,
    His treasons will sit blushing in his face,
    Not able to endure the sight of day, 1460
    But self-affrighted tremble at his sin.
    Not all the water in the rough rude sea
    Can wash the balm off from an anointed king;
    The breath of worldly men cannot depose
    The deputy elected by the Lord: 1465
    For every man that Bolingbroke hath press'd
    To lift shrewd steel against our golden crown,
    God for his Richard hath in heavenly pay
    A glorious angel: then, if angels fight,
    Weak men must fall, for heaven still guards the right. 1470
    Welcome, my lord. how far off lies your power?
  • Earl of Salisbury. Nor near nor farther off, my gracious lord,
    Than this weak arm: discomfort guides my tongue
    And bids me speak of nothing but despair. 1475
    One day too late, I fear me, noble lord,
    Hath clouded all thy happy days on earth:
    O, call back yesterday, bid time return,
    And thou shalt have twelve thousand fighting men!
    To-day, to-day, unhappy day, too late, 1480
    O'erthrows thy joys, friends, fortune and thy state:
    For all the Welshmen, hearing thou wert dead.
    Are gone to Bolingbroke, dispersed and fled.
  • Duke of Aumerle. Comfort, my liege; why looks your grace so pale?
  • King Richard II. But now the blood of twenty thousand men 1485
    Did triumph in my face, and they are fled;
    And, till so much blood thither come again,
    Have I not reason to look pale and dead?
    All souls that will be safe fly from my side,
    For time hath set a blot upon my pride. 1490
  • Duke of Aumerle. Comfort, my liege; remember who you are.
  • King Richard II. I had forgot myself; am I not king?
    Awake, thou coward majesty! thou sleepest.
    Is not the king's name twenty thousand names?
    Arm, arm, my name! a puny subject strikes 1495
    At thy great glory. Look not to the ground,
    Ye favourites of a king: are we not high?
    High be our thoughts: I know my uncle York
    Hath power enough to serve our turn. But who comes here?


  • Sir Stephen Scroop. More health and happiness betide my liege
    Than can my care-tuned tongue deliver him!
  • King Richard II. Mine ear is open and my heart prepared;
    The worst is worldly loss thou canst unfold.
    Say, is my kingdom lost? why, 'twas my care 1505
    And what loss is it to be rid of care?
    Strives Bolingbroke to be as great as we?
    Greater he shall not be; if he serve God,
    We'll serve Him too and be his fellow so:
    Revolt our subjects? that we cannot mend; 1510
    They break their faith to God as well as us:
    Cry woe, destruction, ruin and decay:
    The worst is death, and death will have his day.
  • Sir Stephen Scroop. Glad am I that your highness is so arm'd
    To bear the tidings of calamity. 1515
    Like an unseasonable stormy day,
    Which makes the silver rivers drown their shores,
    As if the world were all dissolved to tears,
    So high above his limits swells the rage
    Of Bolingbroke, covering your fearful land 1520
    With hard bright steel and hearts harder than steel.
    White-beards have arm'd their thin and hairless scalps
    Against thy majesty; boys, with women's voices,
    Strive to speak big and clap their female joints
    In stiff unwieldy arms against thy crown: 1525
    The very beadsmen learn to bend their bows
    Of double-fatal yew against thy state;
    Yea, distaff-women manage rusty bills
    Against thy seat: both young and old rebel,
    And all goes worse than I have power to tell. 1530
  • King Richard II. Too well, too well thou tell'st a tale so ill.
    Where is the Earl of Wiltshire? where is Bagot?
    What is become of Bushy? where is Green?
    That they have let the dangerous enemy
    Measure our confines with such peaceful steps? 1535
    If we prevail, their heads shall pay for it:
    I warrant they have made peace with Bolingbroke.
  • Sir Stephen Scroop. Peace have they made with him indeed, my lord.
  • King Richard II. O villains, vipers, damn'd without redemption!
    Dogs, easily won to fawn on any man! 1540
    Snakes, in my heart-blood warm'd, that sting my heart!
    Three Judases, each one thrice worse than Judas!
    Would they make peace? terrible hell make war
    Upon their spotted souls for this offence!
  • Sir Stephen Scroop. Sweet love, I see, changing his property, 1545
    Turns to the sourest and most deadly hate:
    Again uncurse their souls; their peace is made
    With heads, and not with hands; those whom you curse
    Have felt the worst of death's destroying wound
    And lie full low, graved in the hollow ground. 1550
  • Duke of Aumerle. Is Bushy, Green, and the Earl of Wiltshire dead?
  • Sir Stephen Scroop. Ay, all of them at Bristol lost their heads.
  • Duke of Aumerle. Where is the duke my father with his power?
  • King Richard II. No matter where; of comfort no man speak:
    Let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs; 1555
    Make dust our paper and with rainy eyes
    Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth,
    Let's choose executors and talk of wills:
    And yet not so, for what can we bequeath
    Save our deposed bodies to the ground? 1560
    Our lands, our lives and all are Bolingbroke's,
    And nothing can we call our own but death
    And that small model of the barren earth
    Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
    For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground 1565
    And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
    How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
    Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
    Some poison'd by their wives: some sleeping kill'd;
    All murder'd: for within the hollow crown 1570
    That rounds the mortal temples of a king
    Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
    Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
    Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
    To monarchize, be fear'd and kill with looks, 1575
    Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
    As if this flesh which walls about our life,
    Were brass impregnable, and humour'd thus
    Comes at the last and with a little pin
    Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king! 1580
    Cover your heads and mock not flesh and blood
    With solemn reverence: throw away respect,
    Tradition, form and ceremonious duty,
    For you have but mistook me all this while:
    I live with bread like you, feel want, 1585
    Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
    How can you say to me, I am a king?
  • Bishop of Carlisle. My lord, wise men ne'er sit and wail their woes,
    But presently prevent the ways to wail.
    To fear the foe, since fear oppresseth strength, 1590
    Gives in your weakness strength unto your foe,
    And so your follies fight against yourself.
    Fear and be slain; no worse can come to fight:
    And fight and die is death destroying death;
    Where fearing dying pays death servile breath. 1595
  • Duke of Aumerle. My father hath a power; inquire of him
    And learn to make a body of a limb.
  • King Richard II. Thou chidest me well: proud Bolingbroke, I come
    To change blows with thee for our day of doom.
    This ague fit of fear is over-blown; 1600
    An easy task it is to win our own.
    Say, Scroop, where lies our uncle with his power?
    Speak sweetly, man, although thy looks be sour.
  • Sir Stephen Scroop. Men judge by the complexion of the sky
    The state and inclination of the day: 1605
    So may you by my dull and heavy eye,
    My tongue hath but a heavier tale to say.
    I play the torturer, by small and small
    To lengthen out the worst that must be spoken:
    Your uncle York is join'd with Bolingbroke, 1610
    And all your northern castles yielded up,
    And all your southern gentlemen in arms
    Upon his party.
  • King Richard II. Thou hast said enough.
    Beshrew thee, cousin, which didst lead me forth 1615
    Of that sweet way I was in to despair!
    What say you now? what comfort have we now?
    By heaven, I'll hate him everlastingly
    That bids me be of comfort any more. 1620
    Go to Flint castle: there I'll pine away;
    A king, woe's slave, shall kingly woe obey.
    That power I have, discharge; and let them go
    To ear the land that hath some hope to grow,
    For I have none: let no man speak again 1625
    To alter this, for counsel is but vain.
  • Duke of Aumerle. My liege, one word.
  • King Richard II. He does me double wrong
    That wounds me with the flatteries of his tongue.
    Discharge my followers: let them hence away, 1630
    From Richard's night to Bolingbroke's fair day.