King Richard II

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

KING RICHARD. And, Norfolk, throw down his.

GAUNT. When, Harry, when? Obedience bids I should not bid again.

KING RICHARD. Norfolk, throw down; we bid; There is no boot.

MOWBRAY. 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 disgrac'd, impeach'd, and baffled here; Pierc'd to the soul with slander's venom'd spear, The which no balm can cure but his heart-blood Which breath'd this poison.

KING RICHARD. Rage must be withstood: Give me his gage: lions make leopards tame.

MOWBRAY. Yea, but not change his 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.

KING RICHARD. Cousin, throw down your gage: do you begin.

BOLINGBROKE. O! God defend my soul from such deep sin. Shall I seem crest-fall'n in my father's sight, Or with pale beggar-fear impeach my height Before this outdar'd dastard? Ere my tongue Shall wound my 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.]

KING RICHARD. 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 can not atone you, we shall see Justice design the victor's chivalry. Lord Marshal, command our officers-at-arms Be ready to direct these home alarms.


SCENE II. The same. A room in the DUKE OF LANCASTER'S palace.


GAUNT. Alas, the part I had in Woodstock'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 they see the hours ripe on earth, Will rain hot vengeance on offenders' heads.

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 vials 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 Gloucester, One vial full of Edward's sacred blood, One flourishing branch of his most royal root, Is crack'd, and all the precious liquor spilt; Is hack'd down, and his summer leaves all vaded, By envy's hand and murder's bloody axe. Ah, Gaunt! his blood was thine: that bed, that womb, That metal, 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 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 showest 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 Gloucester's death.

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