King Richard II

Play Audio | Get the Book | Del.icio.us

BOLINGBROKE. 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: If guilty dread have 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.

MOWBRAY. 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!

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

BOLINGBROKE. Look, what I speak, my life shall prove it true; That Mowbray hath receiv'd eight thousand nobles In name of lendings for your highness' soldiers, The which he hath detain'd for lewd 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 land, 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 Gloucester's death, Suggest his soon-believing adversaries, And consequently, like a traitor coward, Sluic'd out his innocent soul through streams of blood: Which blood, like sacrificing Abel's, cries, Even from the tongueless caverns of the earth, 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.

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

MOWBRAY. O! let my sovereign turn away his face And bid his ears a little while be deaf, Till I have told this slander of his blood How God and good men hate so foul a liar.

KING RICHARD. 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 awe 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.

MOWBRAY. 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 Disburs'd I duly to his highness' soldiers; The other part reserv'd 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 Gloucester'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 an ambush for your life, A trespass that doth vex my grieved soul; But ere I last receiv'd 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, 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.

KING RICHARD. Wrath-kindled gentlemen, be rul'd by me; Let's purge this choler without letting blood: This we prescribe, though no physician; Deep malice makes too deep incision: Forget, forgive; conclude and be agreed, Our doctors say this is no month to bleed. Good uncle, let this end where it begun; We'll calm the Duke of Norfolk, you your son.

Next Page