Page images

Which then our leisure would not let us hear,
Against the duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray ?
Gaunt. I have, my liege.

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 could sifo him on that argument, -
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 :-

[Exeunt some Attendants. High-stomach'd are they both, and fulf of ire, In rage deaf as the sea, hasty as fire.

Re-enter Attendants, with BOLINGBROKE and NORFOLK.
Boling. May 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,
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 of my speech!)
In the devotion of a subject's love,
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.

Nor. 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 :
Which to maintain, I would allow him odds;
And meet him, were I tied to run a-foot
Even to the frozen ridges of the Alps,
Or any other ground inhabitable*
Where ever Englishman durst set his foot.
Meantime, let this defend my loyalty, -
By all my hopes, most falsely doth he lie.

Boling: Pale trembling coward, there I throw my gage,
Disclaiming here the kindred of a king;
And lay aside my high blood's royalty,
Which fear, not reverence, makes thee to except:
If guilty dread hath left thee so much strength,
As to take up mine honour's pawn, then stoop :
By that, and all the rites of knighthood else,
Will I make good against thee, arm to arm,
What I have spoke, or thou canst worst devise.

Nor. I take it up; and, by that sword I swear,
Which gently laid my knighthood on my shoulder,
I'll answer thee in any fair degree,
Or chivalrous design of knightly trial:
And, when I mount, alive may I not light,
If I be traitor, or unjustly fight!

K. Rich. What doth our cousin lay to Mowbray's charge?
It must be great, that can inheritt us
So much as of a thought of ill in him.

Boling. Look, what I speak my life shall prove it true;That Mowbray hath received eight thousand nobles, In name of lendings for your highness' soldiers; The which he hath detain'd for lewd I employments, Like a false traitor, and injurious villain. Besides I say, and will in battle prove,Or here, or elsewhere, to the furthest verge That ever was survey'd by English eye, That all the treasons, for these eighteen years Complotted and contrived in this

Fetch from false Mowbray their first head and spring.
Further I say,-and further will maintain
Upon his bad life, to make all this good,-
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 :
Which blood, like sacrificing Abel's, cries,
Even from the tongueless caverns of the earth,

* Uninhabitable.


+ Possess.

6 Prompt.

To me, for justice, and rough chastisement;
And, by the glorious worth of my descent,
This arm shall do it, or this life be spent.

K. Rich. How high a pitch his resolution soars !
Thomas of Norfolk, what say'st thou to this?

Nor. O, let my sovereign turn away his face,
And bid his ears a little while be deat,
Till I have told this slander of his blood,*
How God, and good men, hate so foul a liar.

K. Rich. Mowbray, impartial are our eyes, and ears :
Were he my brother, nay, my kingdom's heir
(As he is but my father's brother's son),
Now by my sceptre's awet I make a vow,
Such neighbour nearness to our sacred blood
Should nothing privilege him, nor partialize
The unstooping firmness of my upright soul;
He is our subject, Mowbray, so art thou;
Free speech, and fearless, I to thee allow.

Nor. Then, Bolingbroke, as low as to thy heart, Through the false passage of thy throat, thou liest ! Three parts of that receipt I had for Calais, Disbursed I duly to his highness' soldiers : The other part reserved I by consent; For that my sovereign liege was in my debt, Upon remainder of a dear account, Since last I went to France to fetch his queen: Now swallow down that lie.For Gloster's death, I slew him not; but to my own disgrace, Neglected my sworn duty in that case, For you, my noble lord of Lancaster, The honourable father to my foe, Once did I lay in ambush for your life, A trespass that doth vex my grieved soul: But, ere I last received the sacrament, I did confess it; and exactly begg'd Your grace's pardon, and, I hope, I had it. This is my fault: As for the rest appeal'd, I It issues from the rancour of a villain, A recreant and most degenerate traitor : Which in myself I boldly will defend; And interchangeably hurl down my gage Upon this overweening § traitor's foot, To prove myself a loyal gentleman Even in the best blood chamber'd in his bosom: In haste whereof, most heartily I pray Your highness to assign our trial-day.

K. Rich. Wrath-kindled gentlemen, be ruled by me; Let's purge this choler without letting blood : This we prescribe, though no physician; Deep malice makes too deep incision:

* Reproach to his ancestry.


† Dignity.
$ Arrogant.

Forget, forgive; conclude, and be agreed;
Our doctors say, this is no time to bleed. -
Good uncle, let this end where it begun;
We'll calm the duke of Norfolk, you your son.

Gaunt. To be a make-peace shall become my age :
Throw down, my son, the duke of Norfolk's gage.

K. Rich. And, Norfolk, throw down his.
Gaunt. When, Harry ? when ?
Obedience bids, I should not bid again.

K. Rich. Norfolk, throw down ; we bid; there is no boot.*
Nor. Myself, I throw, dread sovereign, at thy foot;
My life thou shalt command, but not my shame;
The one my duty owes; but my fair name
(Despite of death, that lives upon my grave),
To dark dishonour's use thou shalt not have.
I am disgraced, impeach'd, and baffled here;
Pierced to the soul with slander's venom'd spear;
The which no balm can cure, but his heart-blood
Which breathed this poison.

K. Rich. Rage must be withstood:
Give me his gage :-Lions make leopards tame.

Nor. Yea, but not change their spots : take but my shame,
And I resign my gage. My dear dear lord,
The purest treasure mortal times afford,
Is-spotless reputation; that away,
Men are but gilded loam, or painted clay.
A jewel in a ten-times-barr'd-up chest
Is-a bold spirit in a loyal breast.
Mine honour is my life; both grow in one;
Take honour from me, and my life is done:
Then, dear my liege, mine honour let me try;
In that I live, and for that will I die.

K. Rich. Cousin, throw down your gage; do you begin.
Boling. O, God defend my soul from such foul sin !
Shall I seem crest-fallen in my father's sight?
Or with pale beggar-fear impeach my height
Before this out-dared dastard ! Ere my tongue
Shall wound mine honour with such feeble wrong,
Or sound so base a parle, my teeth shall tear
The slavish motive of recanting fear,
And spit it bleeding in his high disgrace,
Where shame doth harbour, even in Mowbray's face.

[Exit GAUNT.
K. Rich. We were not born to sue, but to command:
Which since we cannot do to make you friends,
Be ready, as your lives shall answer it,
At Coventry, upon Saint Lambert's day;
There shall your swords and lances arbitrate
The swelling difference of your settled hate;
Since we cannot atonet you, we shall see
Justice design the victor's chivalry.-

* I. e. refusal.

+ Reconcile.

# Show.

Marshal, command our officers at arms
Be ready to direct these home-alarms.

[Exeunt. SCENE II.The same. A Room in the Duke of LANCASTER'S

Enter GAUNT, and Duchess of GLOSTER.
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.
But since correction lieth in those hands,
Which made the fault that we cannot correct,
Put we our quarrel to the will of heaven;
Who when he sees the hours ripe on earth,
Will rain hot vengeance on offenders' heads.

Duch. 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,
Or seven fair branches springing from one root:
Some of those seven are dried by nature's course,
Some of those branches by the destinies cut:
But Thomas, my dear lord, my life, my Gloster, -
One phial full of Edward's sacred blood,
One Hourishing branch of his most royal root,-
Is crack’d, and all the precious liquor spilt;
Is hack'd down, and his summer leaves all faded,
By envy's hand, and murder's bloody axe.
Ah, Gaunt! his blood was thine; that bed, that womb,
Thát mettle, that self-mould, that fashion'd thee,
Made him a man; and though thou liv'st, and breath’st,
Yet art thou slain in him: Thou dost consent t
In some large measure to thy father's death,
In that thou seest thy wretched brother die,
Who was the model of thy father's life.
Call it not patience, Gaunt, it is despair:
In suffering thus thy brother to be slaughter'd,
Thou show'st the naked pathway to thy life,
Teaching stern murder how to butcher thee:
That which in mean men we entitle--patience,
Is pale cold cowardice in noble breasts.
What shall I say? to safeguard thine own life,
The best way is-to’venge my Gloster's death.

Gaunt. Heaven's is the quarrel; for heaven's substitute,
His deputy anointed in his sight,
Hath caused his death: the which if wrongfully,
Let heaven revenge; for I may never lift
An angry arm against his minister.
Duch. Where then, alas! may I complain myself?
Gaunt. To heaven, the widow's champion and defence.

* Relationship.

+ Assent.

« PreviousContinue »