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History of Richard II

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Act V, Scene 5

Pomfret castle.



  • King Richard II. I have been studying how I may compare
    This prison where I live unto the world: 2750
    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 2755
    A generation of still-breeding thoughts,
    And these same thoughts people this little world,
    In humours like the people of this world,
    For no thought is contented. The better sort,
    As thoughts of things divine, are intermix'd 2760
    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.' 2765
    Thoughts tending to ambition, they do plot
    Unlikely wonders; how these vain weak nails
    May tear a passage through the flinty ribs
    Of this hard world, my ragged prison walls,
    And, for they cannot, die in their own pride. 2770
    Thoughts tending to content flatter themselves
    That they are not the first of fortune's slaves,
    Nor shall not be the last; like silly beggars
    Who sitting in the stocks refuge their shame,
    That many have and others must sit there; 2775
    And in this thought they find a kind of ease,
    Bearing their own misfortunes on the back
    Of such as have before endured the like.
    Thus play I in one person many people,
    And none contented: sometimes am I king; 2780
    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 Bolingbroke, 2785
    And straight am nothing: but whate'er I be,
    Nor I nor any man that but man is
    With nothing shall be pleased, till he be eased
    With being nothing. Music do I hear?
    [Music] 2790
    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 cheque time broke in a disorder'd string; 2795
    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 numbering clock:
    My thoughts are minutes; and with sighs they jar 2800
    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, 2805
    Which is the bell: so sighs and tears and groans
    Show minutes, times, and hours: but my time
    Runs posting on in Bolingbroke's proud joy,
    While I stand fooling here, his Jack o' the clock.
    This music mads me; let it sound no more; 2810
    For though it have holp madmen 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. 2815

[Enter a Groom of the Stable]

  • Groom. Hail, royal prince!
  • King Richard II. Thanks, noble peer;
    The cheapest of us is ten groats too dear.
    What art thou? and how comest thou hither, 2820
    Where no man never comes but that sad dog
    That brings me food to make misfortune live?
  • Groom. I was a poor groom of thy stable, king,
    When thou wert king; who, travelling towards York,
    With much ado at length have gotten leave 2825
    To look upon my sometimes royal master's face.
    O, how it yearn'd my heart when I beheld
    In London streets, that coronation-day,
    When Bolingbroke rode on roan Barbary,
    That horse that thou so often hast bestrid, 2830
    That horse that I so carefully have dress'd!
  • King Richard II. Rode he on Barbary? Tell me, gentle friend,
    How went he under him?
  • Groom. So proudly as if he disdain'd the ground.
  • King Richard II. So proud that Bolingbroke was on his back! 2835
    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? 2840
    Forgiveness, horse! why do I rail on thee,
    Since thou, created to be awed by man,
    Wast born to bear? I was not made a horse;
    And yet I bear a burthen like an ass,
    Spurr'd, gall'd and tired by jouncing Bolingbroke. 2845

[Enter Keeper, with a dish]

  • Keeper. Fellow, give place; here is no longer stay.
  • Groom. What my tongue dares not, that my heart shall say.


  • Keeper. My lord, will't please you to fall to?
  • Keeper. My lord, I dare not: Sir Pierce of Exton, who
    lately came from the king, commands the contrary.
  • King Richard II. The devil take Henry of Lancaster and thee! 2855
    Patience is stale, and I am weary of it.

[Beats the keeper]

[Enter EXTON and Servants, armed]

  • King Richard II. How now! what means death in this rude assault? 2860
    Villain, thy own hand yields thy death's instrument.
    [Snatching an axe from a Servant and killing him]
    Go thou, and fill another room in hell.
    [He kills another. Then Exton strikes him down]
    That hand shall burn in never-quenching fire 2865
    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.


  • Sir Pierce of Exton. As full of valour 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 2875
    Take hence the rest, and give them burial here.