Page images

Hamlet and Julius Cæsar than to anything found elsewhere in the English Histories. In Richard II.

we have almost the first note of that profound Shakespearean pity which the Titanism of the earlier Histories and the joyous exultation of the later alike exclude: the pity which penetrates beyond the doom of an individual to the social milieu by which the doom was provoked; and reflects a sad recognition of what Pater called 'the unkindness of things themselves,'-the tragedy of the world itself.




SCENE I. London. KING RICHARD's palace.

other Nobles and Attendants.

K. Rich. Old John of Gaunt, time-honour'd

Hast thou, according to thy oath and band,
Brought hither Henry Hereford thy bold son,
Here to make good the boisterous late appeal,
Which then our leisure would not let us hear,
Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray ?
Gaunt. I have, my liege.

1. Old John of Gaunt. Gaunt
is throughout represented as in
extreme old age.
He was in

reality fifty-eight.

2. band, bond.

3. Hereford (always disyllabic; in Qq and Ff written 'Herford').

4. appeal; a formal accusa

tion which the accuser bound
himself to make good, com-
monly by the judicial method
of combat. It was thus equi-
valent to a challenge.
ford's actual appeal' had been
Parliament of

at the

[blocks in formation]

K. Rich. Tell me, moreover, hast thou sounded him,

If he appeal the duke on ancient malice;

Or worthily, as a good subject should,

On some known ground of treachery in him? Gaunt. As near as I could sift him on that


On some apparent danger seen in him

Aim'd at your highness, no inveterate malice.

K. Rich. Then call them to our presence; face to face,

And frowning brow to brow, ourselves will hear
The accuser and the accused freely speak:
High-stomach'd are they both, and full of ire,
In rage deaf as the sea, hasty as fire.

Boling. Many years of happy days befal
My gracious sovereign, my most loving liege!
Mow. 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,

As well appeareth by the cause you come;

Namely, to appeal each other of high treason.
Cousin of Hereford, what dost thou object

Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray ? Boling. First, heaven be the record to my speech!

In the devotion of a subject's love,

9. on, on the ground of. So v. 13.

13. apparent, evident.

18. High-stomach'd, full of warlike temper.

20. Many.




befal. The

first foot lacks a syllable. An incomplete line often follows a marked pause or break.

26. the cause you come, i.e. come for.

Tendering the precious safety of my prince,
And free from other misbegotten hate,
Come I appellant to this princely presence.
Now, Thomas Mowbray, do I turn to thee,
And mark my greeting well; for what I speak
My body shall make good upon this earth,
Or my divine soul answer it in heaven.
Thou art a traitor and a miscreant,
Too good to be so and too bad to live,
Since the more fair and crystal is the sky,
The uglier seem the clouds that in it fly.
Once more, the more to aggravate the note,
With a foul traitor's name stuff I thy throat;
And wish, so please my sovereign, ere I move,
What my tongue speaks my right drawn sword

may prove.

Mow. Let not my cold words here accuse my zeal :

'Tis not the trial of a woman's war,

The bitter clamour of two eager tongues,

Can arbitrate this cause betwixt us twain;

The blood is hot that must be cool'd for this:
Yet can I not of such tame patience boast
As to be hush'd and nought at all to say:

First, the fair reverence of your highness curbs me
From giving reins and spurs to my free speech;
Which else would post until it had return'd
These terms of treason doubled down his throat.
Setting aside his high blood's royalty,

And let him be no kinsman to my liege,

I do defy him, and I spit at him;

Call him a slanderous coward and a villain :

32. Tendering, in fond regard for.

40. Too good, i.e. in virtue of his noble name and descent.




43. aggravate the note, deepen the stigma.

46. right drawn, justly drawn.

« PreviousContinue »