Imatges de pÓgina

The speakers in the ensuing scene are John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster; and the widowed duchess of Glo'ster. [Gaunt.] Alas! the part I had in Gloster's blood

Doth more solicit me than your exclaims,
To stir against the butchers of his life.

Put we our quarrel to the will of heaven.
(Duchess.) Finds brotherhood in thee no sharper spur?

Hath love in thy old blood no living fire ?
Edward's seven sons, whereof thyself art one,
Were as seven phials of his sacred blood :
Some of those seven are dried by nature's course ;
But Thomas, my dear lord, my life, my Gloster,
One phial of your father's sacred blood,
Is crack'd, and all the precious liquor spill’d.
Ah, Gaunt, his blood was thine; that bed, that womb,
That mettle, that self-mould that fashion’d thee,

Made him a man: then, 'venge my Gloster's death. [Gaunt.] Heaven's is the quarrel : for heaven's substitute,

His deputy, anointed in His sight,
Hath caus'd his death; the which, if wrongfully,
Let heaven revenge: for I

An angry arm against His minister. [Duchess.] Where, then, alas ! where, where may I com


[plain ? [Gaunt.] To Heaven, the widow's champion and defence. [Duchess.] Why then I will. Farewell, old Gaunt !

Thou goest to Coventry, and shalt behold
My nephew Hereford with Mowbray fight :
O may your son's spear pierce the traitor's heart !
Farewell, old Gaunt :-thy sometime brother's wife
Must now consort with grief throughout her life.

[a pause.]
Yet one word more; Grief boundeth where it lies;
And sorrow ends not when it seemeth done.
Commend me to my brother, Edmund York:
Lo this is all: nay, yet depart not so ;-

may never lift

I shall remember more : Bid him-Oh what ?
With all good speed at Plashy visit me:
Alack! and what shall good old York there see
But empty lodgings, and unfurnish'd walls,
Unpeopled offices, untrodden stones;
And what hear there for welcome but my groans ?
Therefore commend me; let him not come there,
To seek out sorrow that dwells everywhere:
Desolate, deso'late, will I hence and die;

The last leave of thee takes my weary eye. We may now imagine we look upon the lists at Coventry just at the moment when, after all the verbal ceremonies of appeal and defence have been performed, the marshal directs the trumpets to sound, and the combatants to set forward ; at this instant the king throws his warder down, and desires the combatants to return to their places. After a pause, he thus speaks : [Richard.] For that our kingdom's earth should not be

With that dear blood which it hạth fostered ; [soil'd
And, for our eyes do hate the direful aspect
Of civil wounds plough'd up by neighbour swords;
And, for we think the eagle-winged pride
Of sky-aspiring and ambitious thoughts,
With rival-hating envy, sets you on,
We banish both of you our territories.
You, cousin Hereford, on pain of death,
Shall not re-greet our fair dominions,
Till twice five summers have enrich'd our fields.
Norfolk, for thee remains a heavier doom;
The hopeless word of—never to return,

Breathe I against thee, upon pain of life.
When his first astonishment and grief permit him,
Norfolk answers :
[Norfolk.) A heavy sentence, my most sovereign liege,

And all unlook’d-for at your highness' hands.
The language I have learn'd these forty years,
My native English, must I now forego:

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Within my mouth you have engaol'd my tongue,
And made it useless as an unstring'd harp.
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 ?
[Richard.] Our sentence pass'd, it boots thee not to grieve.

He is about to retire when his antagonist, the duke of
Hereford, more commonly called Bolingbroke, addresses
him :
[Bolingbroke.] Norfolk, by this time, had the king permitted,

One of our souls had wander'd in the air,
Banish'd the sepulchre of Aesh, as now
Our flesh is banish'd from this land. Thus far
As to mine enemy; now, hear a friend ;
Confess thy treasons ere thou fly the realm :
Since thou hast far to go, bear not along

The clogging burthen of a guilty soul.
[Norfolk.] No, Bolingbroke; if ever I was traitor,

My name be blotted from the book of life,
And I from heaven be banish'd as from hence!
But what thou art, Heaven, 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.
When he is gone, the king addresses John of Gaunt,
duke of Lancaster.
[Richard.] Uncle, even in the glasses of thine eye,

I see thy grieved heart: thy mournful aspect
Hath, from the banish'd years of Bolingbroke

Thy son, pluck'd four away.

I thank my liege:
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,
My oil-dried lamp and time-bewasted light
Shall be extinct with age.


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[Richard.] Why, uncle, thou hast many years to live.
[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.
Thy word is current to procure my death;

But dead, thy kingdom cannot buy my breath.
Richard.] Thy son is banish'd upon good advice.

Cousin, farewell :-and, uncle, bid him so;

Six years we banish him, and go he shall. The king being gone, those who are left behind take their leave of Bolingbroke: the rest of the dialogue is then between his father and him. [Gaunt.] O, to what purpose dost thou hoard thy words

That thou returnst no greeting to thy friends ? [Bolingbroke.] I have too few to take my leave of you. [Gaunt.] Thy grief is but thy absence for a time.

What is six winters ? they are quickly gone[Bolingbroke.] To men in joy; but grief makes one hour ten. [Gaunt.] Call it a travel that thou tak’st for pleasure. [Bolingbroke.] My heart will sigh when I miscal it so ;

And every lingering tedious stride I take
Will but remind me, what a deal of world

I wander from the jewels that I love.
[Gaunt.] All places that the eye of Heaven visits

Are, to the wise man, ports and happy havens.
And do not think the king did banish thee,
But thou the king: woe doth the heavier sit
When 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,
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 com’st.


[Bolingbroke.] 0, who can hold a fire in his hand,

By thinking on the frosty Caucasus ?
Or cloy the hungry edge of appetite,
By bare imagination of a feast?
Or wallow naked in December's snow
By thinking on fantastic summer's heat ?
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 it bites, but lanceth not the sore. [Gaunt.] Come, come, my son, I 'll bring thee on thy way:

Had I thy youth, I should not wish to stay.






HISTORICAL MEMORANDA. When the king banished Hereford, he granted him letters-patent, by which he was empowered, in case any inheritance should accrue to him before his permitted time of return, to enter immediately in possession, and to postpone the doing of homage till the end of his banishment. His father, John of Gaunt, died in the next year; and Hereford, now duke of Lancaster, desired to be put in possession of the estate and jurisdictions of his father: but Richard revoked the letters he had given, and retained possession of the estate. This act offended all the nobles, as they saw their own estates endangered by it; and on the landing of Boling hroke, who came to enforce his claims, the most powerful of the barons flocked to his standard. Richard was at this time absent in Ireland, and had left his uncle Edmund of Langley, duke of York, guardian of the kingdom. The duke did what he could to withstand the disaffected lords ; but his affinity to the chief among them made his situation one of great difficulty to his feelings, and he yielded, finally, to the course of events. Shakspeare represents the queen as a woman of mature age; but Richard's first queen, the sister of the king of Bohemia, had been dead some years; and Isabella, the daughter of Charles the Sixth of France, to whom he was affianced, was, at this time, only nine years of age.

John of Gaunt is discovered on a couch : his brother, the duke of York, is standing by him : in the course of the


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