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KING RICHARD THE SECOND.
EDMUND of Langley, Duke of York, Uncles to the
Duke of Surrey.
Bishop of Carlisle.
Abbot of Westminster.
Lord Marshal; and another Lord.
SIR PIERCE of Exton. SIR STEPHEN SCROOP.
Captain of a band of Welshmen.
Queen to King Richard.
Duchess of Gloster.
Duchess of York.
Lady attending on the Queen.
Lords, Heralds, Officers, Soldiers, two Gardeners, Keeper, Messenger, Groom, and other Attendants.
SCENE, dispersedly in England and Wales.
KING RICHARD II.
SCENE I. London. A Room in the Palace.
Enter KING RICHARD, attended; JOHN of GAUNT, and other Nobles with him.
King Richard. OLD John of Gaunt, time-honored
Hast thou, according to thy oath and band,2
K. Rich. Tell me, moreover, hast thou sounded him,
On some known ground of treachery in him?
1 "Old John of Gaunt, time-honored Lancaster." Our ancestors, in their estimate of old age, appear to have reckoned somewhat differently from us, and to have considered men as old whom we should now esteem as middle-aged. With them, every man that had passed fifty seems to have been accounted an old man. John of Gaunt, at the period when the commencement of this play is laid (1398), was only fifty-eight years old: he died in 1399, aged fifty-nine. This may have arisen from its being customary in former times to enter life at an earlier period than we do now. Those who married at fifteen, had at fifty been masters of a house and family for thirty-five years.
2 When these public challenges were accepted, each combatant found a pledge for his appearance at the time and place appointed. Band and bond were formerly synonymous.
3 In the old play, and in Harding's Chronicle, Bolingbroke's title is written Herford and Harford. This was the pronunciation of our Poet's time, and he therefore uses this word as a dissyllable.
Gaunt. As near as I could sift him on that
On some apparent danger seen in him,
Aimed at your highness; no inveterate malice.
K. Rich. Then call them to our presence; face to
And frowning brow to brow, ourselves will hear The accuser, and the accused, freely speak.[Exeunt some Attendants.
High stomached are they both, and full of ire,
In rage deaf as the sea, hasty as fire.
Re-enter Attendants, with BOLINGBROKE1 and NOR
Boling. Many years of happy days befall My gracious sovereign, my most loving liege! Nor. Each day still better other's happiness, Until the heavens, envying earth's good hap, Add an immortal title to your crown!
K. Rich. We thank you both; yet one but flatters us,
Tendering the precious safety of my prince,
1 Drayton asserts that Henry Plantagenet, the eldest son of John of Gaunt, was not distinguished by the name of Bolingbroke till after he had assumed the crown. He is called earl of Hereford by the old historians, and was surnamed Bolingbroke from having been born at the town of that name in Lincolnshire, about 1366.
2 i. e. "by the cause you come on." The suppression of the preposition has been shown to have been frequent with Shakspeare.
Thou art a traitor, and a miscreant,
Nor. Let not my cold words here accuse my zeal. "Tis not the trial of a woman's war,
The bitter clamor of two eager tongues,
Can arbitrate this cause betwixt us twain.
The blood is hot that must be cooled for this;
I do defy him, and I spit at him;
Call him-a slanderous coward, and a villain;
Boling. Pale, trembling coward, there I throw my gage,
Disclaiming here the kindred of the king;
And lay aside my high blood's royalty,
Which fear, not reverence, makes thee to except.
1 My right-drawn sword is my sword drawn in a right or just cause 2 i. e. uninhabitable.
As to take up mine honor's pawn, then stoop;
Or chivalrous design of knightly trial;
And, when I mount, alive may I not light,
K. Rich. What doth our cousin lay to Mowbray s charge?
It must be great, that can inherit1 us
So much as of a thought of ill in him.
Boling. Look, what I speak my life shall prove it
That Mowbray hath received eight thousand nobles,
Fetch from false Mowbray their first head and spring.
That he did plot the duke of Gloster's death;
Suggest his soon-believing adversaries;
And, consequently, like a traitor coward,
Sluiced out his innocent soul through streams of blood;
1 To inherit, in the language of Shakspeare, is to possess.
2 Lewd formerly signified knavish, ungracious, naughty, idle, beside its now general acceptation.
3 Thomas of Woodstock, the youngest son of Edward III., who was murdered at Calais in 1397.
4 i. e. prompt them, set them on by injurious hints.