Richard II

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter John of Gaunt sick, with the Duke of York, the

Earl of Northumberland, attendants, and others


Will the King come, that I may breathe my last

In wholesome counsel to his unstaid youth?
unstaid (adj.) 2 unrestrained, unregulated, unchecked


Vex not yourself, nor strive not with your breath;

For all in vain comes counsel to his ear.


O, but they say the tongues of dying men

Enforce attention like deep harmony.

Where words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain,

For they breathe truth that breathe their words in pain.

He that no more must say is listened more
listen (v.) listen to, pay attention to, hear

Than they whom youth and ease have taught to glose.
glose (v.) speak flatteringly, talk smoothly
gloze (v.) 1 speak fair words, flatter, talk plausibly

More are men's ends marked than their lives before.

The setting sun, and music at the close,
close (n.) 3 closing cadence, end of a musical theme

As the last taste of sweets, is sweetest last,
sweet (n.) 3 sweet-tasting foodstuff

Writ in remembrance more than things long past.
remembrance (n.) 1 memory, bringing to mind, recollection See Topics: Frequency count

Though Richard my life's counsel would not hear,

My death's sad tale may yet undeaf his ear.
sad (adj.) 3 downcast, distressed, mournful, gloomy
undeaf (v.) restore hearing to


No, it is stopped with other, flattering sounds,
stop (v.) 4 fill, cram, stuff

As praises, of whose taste the wise are fond;

Lascivious metres, to whose venom sound
metre (n.) verse, poem, composition
venom (adj.) venomous, poisonous, spiteful

The open ear of youth doth always listen;

Report of fashions in proud Italy,

Whose manners still our tardy-apish nation
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count
tardy-apish (adj.) slow in copying, always behind in imitating

Limps after in base imitation.
base (adj.) 3 poor, wretched, of low quality See Topics: Frequency count

Where doth the world thrust forth a vanity –

So it be new there's no respect how vile –
respect (n.) 1 consideration, factor, circumstance

That is not quickly buzzed into his ears?

Then all too late comes counsel to be heard

Where will doth mutiny with wit's regard.
regard (n.) 1 consideration, concern, thought, heed
will (n.) 1 desire, wish, liking, inclination
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count

Direct not him whose way himself will choose.

'Tis breath thou lackest, and that breath wilt thou lose.


Methinks I am a prophet new-inspired,
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

And thus, expiring, do foretell of him:

His rash fierce blaze of riot cannot last;

For violent fires soon burn out themselves.

Small showers last long, but sudden storms are short.
sudden (adj.) 6 unpredictable, prone to sudden violence

He tires betimes that spurs too fast betimes.
betimes (adv.) 3 speedily, soon, in a short time

With eager feeding food doth choke the feeder.

Light vanity, insatiate cormorant,
cormorant (n.) glutton, gorger, insatiable eater
insatiate, unsatiate (adj.) insatiable, never satisfied, voracious

Consuming means, soon preys upon itself.

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,

This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
seat (n.) 1 throne

This other Eden – demi-paradise –

This fortress built by nature for herself

Against infection and the hand of war,

This happy breed of men, this little world,
breed (n.) 1 lineage, inheritance, stock
little (adj.) 1 in little, microcosmic, miniature

This precious stone set in the silver sea,

Which serves it in the office of a wall,
office (n.) 2 role, position, place, function

Or as a moat defensive to a house

Against the envy of less happier lands;
envy (n.) 1 malice, ill-will, enmity

This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,

This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
teeming (adj.) pregnant, prolific, overfull

Feared by their breed, and famous by their birth,

Renowned for their deeds as far from home

For Christian service and true chivalry

As is the sepulchre in stubborn Jewry

Of the world's ransom, blessed Mary's son;

This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,

Dear for her reputation through the world,

Is now leased out – I die pronouncing it –

Like to a tenement or pelting farm.
pelting (adj.) paltry, petty, worthless, insignificant
tenement (n.) land held by a tenant, landholding

England, bound in with the triumphant sea,
bind in (v.) make fast, secure, surround

Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
envious (adj.) malicious, spiteful, vindictive, full of enmity See Topics: Frequency count

Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
bind in (v.) make fast, secure, surround

With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds.

That England that was wont to conquer others
wont (v.) be accustomed, used [to], be in the habit of See Topics: Frequency count

Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.

Ah, would the scandal vanish with my life,

How happy then were my ensuing death!

Enter King Richard, Queen Isabel, Aumerle, Bushy,

Green, Bagot, Ross, and Willoughby


The King is come. Deal mildly with his youth;

For young hot colts being raged do rage the more.


How fares our noble uncle Lancaster?
fare (v.) 1 get on, manage, do, cope See Topics: Frequency count


What comfort, man? How is't with aged Gaunt?


O, how that name befits my composition!
composition (n.) 1 constitution, make-up, state [of mind and body]

Old Gaunt indeed, and gaunt in being old.

Within me grief hath kept a tedious fast;
tedious (adj.) 2 painful, irksome, harrowing

And who abstains from meat that is not gaunt?
meat (n.) 1 food, nourishment

For sleeping England long time have I watched.
watch (v.) 1 stay awake, keep vigil

Watching breeds leanness; leanness is all gaunt.
watching (n.) wakefulness, sleeplessness, vigilance

The pleasure that some fathers feed upon

Is my strict fast – I mean my children's looks;

And therein fasting hast thou made me gaunt.

Gaunt am I for the grave, gaunt as a grave,

Whose hollow womb inherits naught but bones.
inherit (v.) 1 receive, obtain, come into possession [of]


Can sick men play so nicely with their names?
nicely (adv.) 2 subtly, triflingly, fancifully


No, misery makes sport to mock itself.
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count

Since thou dost seek to kill my name in me,

I mock my name, great King, to flatter thee.


Should dying men flatter with those that live?
flatter with / withal (v.) 2 try to please, ingratiate oneself with


No, no. Men living flatter those that die.


Thou now a-dying sayst thou flatterest me.


O, no. Thou diest, though I the sicker be.


I am in health. I breathe, and see thee ill.
ill (adj.) 4 sick, indisposed, unwell


Now he that made me knows I see thee ill;
ill (adj.) 2 evil, wicked, immoral

Ill in myself to see, and in thee seeing ill.

Thy deathbed is no lesser than thy land,

Wherein thou liest in reputation sick;

And thou, too careless patient as thou art,

Committest thy anointed body to the cure

Of those ‘ physicians ’ that first wounded thee.

A thousand flatterers sit within thy crown,

Whose compass is no bigger than thy head,
compass (n.) 2 circle, circumference, bound

And yet, encaged in so small a verge,
verge (n.) 2 [unclear meaning] limit, bound; rim of metal; sphere of jurisdiction

The waste is no whit lesser than thy land.

O, had thy grandsire with a prophet's eye

Seen how his son's son should destroy his sons,

From forth thy reach he would have laid thy shame,

Deposing thee before thou wert possessed,
possess (v.) 3 put in possession, endow

Which art possessed now to depose thyself.
possessed (adj.) 1 mad, crazy, under demonic control

Why, cousin, wert thou regent of the world
regent (n.) ruler, governor, sovereign

It were a shame to let this land by lease.

But for thy world enjoying but this land,

Is it not more than shame to shame it so?

Landlord of England art thou now, not king.

Thy state of law is bondslave to the law,
bondslave (n.) slave, bondsman, person in a condition of servitude

And thou –


                          – a lunatic lean-witted fool,

Presuming on an ague's privilege,
ague (n.) fever, sickness, shaking [as caused by a fever]

Darest with thy frozen admonition

Make pale our cheek, chasing the royal blood

With fury from his native residence.

Now by my seat's right royal majesty,

Wert thou not brother to great Edward's son,

This tongue that runs so roundly in thy head
roundly (adv.) 2 bluntly, outspokenly; or: fluently, glibly

Should run thy head from thy unreverent shoulders.
unreverent (adj.) irreverent, disrespectful, unseemly


O, spare me not, my brother Edward's son,

For that I was his father Edward's son.

That blood already, like the pelican,

Hast thou tapped out and drunkenly caroused.

My brother Gloucester, plain well-meaning soul –

Whom fair befall in heaven 'mongst happy souls –
fair (n.) 2 fortune, happiness, favour

May be a precedent and witness good
precedent (n.) 2 worthy example, model to be followed [in mediaeval chivalry]

That thou respectest not spilling Edward's blood.
respect (v.) 4 scruple about, have qualms about

Join with the present sickness that I have,

And thy unkindness be like crooked age,
unkindness (n.) 3 unnatural behaviour, abnormal conduct

To crop at once a too-long withered flower.
crop (v.) 1 cut down, remove, hack off

Live in thy shame, but die not shame with thee!

These words hereafter thy tormentors be!

Convey me to my bed, then to my grave.

Love they to live that love and honour have.

Exit with Northumberland and attendants


And let them die that age and sullens have;
sullen (n.) (plural) sullenness, gloomy mood, sulks

For both hast thou, and both become the grave.
become (v.) 1 be fitting, befit, be appropriate to See Topics: Frequency count


I do beseech your majesty, impute his words

To wayward sickliness and age in him.
wayward (adj.) 1 perverse, unreasonable, awkward

He loves you, on my life, and holds you dear

As Harry, Duke of Hereford, were he here.


Right, you say true. As Hereford's love, so his.

As theirs, so mine; and all be as it is.

Enter Northumberland
commend (v.) 1 convey greetings, present kind regards See Topics: Frequency count


My liege, old Gaunt commends him to your majesty.


What says he?


                         Nay, nothing. All is said.

His tongue is now a stringless instrument.

Words, life, and all, old Lancaster hath spent.


Be York the next that must be bankrupt so!

Though death be poor, it ends a mortal woe.


The ripest fruit first falls, and so doth he.

His time is spent, our pilgrimage must be.

So much for that. Now for our Irish wars.

We must supplant those rough rug-headed kerns
kern (n.) lightly armed Irish foot-soldier
rug-headed (adj.) shaggy-headed, shock-headed
supplant (v.) get rid of, root out

Which live like venom where no venom else

But only they have privilege to live.

And for these great affairs do ask some charge,
charge (n.) 7 expense, cost, outlay

Towards our assistance we do seize to us

The plate, coin, revenues, and moveables

Whereof our uncle Gaunt did stand possessed.


How long shall I be patient? Ah, how long

Shall tender duty make me suffer wrong?
suffer (v.) 2 put up with, tolerate, do nothing about

Not Gloucester's death, nor Hereford's banishment,

Not Gaunt's rebukes, nor England's private wrongs,
rebuke (n.) 2 insult, shame, reproach

Nor the prevention of poor Bolingbroke

About his marriage, nor my own disgrace,

Have ever made me sour my patient cheek
sour (v.) give a morose expression, make sullen

Or bend one wrinkle on my sovereign's face.
bend (v.) 4 [of brows] knit, wrinkle, frown
wrinkle (n.) frown, disapproving look

I am the last of noble Edward's sons,

Of whom thy father, Prince of Wales, was first.

In war was never lion raged more fierce,

In peace was never gentle lamb more mild
gentle (adj.) 6 soft, tender, kind

Than was that young and princely gentleman.

His face thou hast; for even so looked he

Accomplished with the number of thy hours;
accomplish (v.) 1 equip, provide, furnish

But when he frowned it was against the French,

And not against his friends. His noble hand

Did win what he did spend, and spent not that

Which his triumphant father's hand had won.

His hands were guilty of no kindred blood,

But bloody with the enemies of his kin.

O, Richard! York is too far gone with grief,

Or else he never would compare between.


Why, uncle, what's the matter?


                         O, my liege,

Pardon me if you please. If not, I, pleased

Not to be pardoned, am content withal.
content (adj.) 2 contented, patient, accepting, undisturbed

Seek you to seize and grip into your hands
gripe (v.) clutch, grasp, seize

The royalties and rights of banished Hereford?
royalty (n.) 4 right granted by a monarch, royal prerogative

Is not Gaunt dead? And doth not Hereford live?

Was not Gaunt just? And is not Harry true?
true (adj.) 11 true to one's promise, faithful to one's undertaking

Did not the one deserve to have an heir?

Is not his heir a well-deserving son?

Take Hereford's rights away, and take from Time

His charters and his customary rights.

Let not tomorrow then ensue today.
ensue (v.) 1 follow [especially, as a logical outcome]

Be not thyself; for how art thou a king

But by fair sequence and succession?
sequence (n.) 1 proper lineal order, order of succession

Now afore God – God forbid I say true –

If you do wrongfully seize Hereford's rights,

Call in the letters patent that he hath

By his attorneys general to sue
attorney general (n.) legally appointed deputy
sue one's livery institute a suit to obtain possession of lands

His livery, and deny his offered homage,
deny (v.) 1 refuse, rebuff, reject

You pluck a thousand dangers on your head,

You lose a thousand well-disposed hearts,

And prick my tender patience to those thoughts

Which honour and allegiance cannot think.


Think what you will, we seize into our hands

His plate, his goods, his money, and his lands.


I'll not be by the while. My liege, farewell.

What will ensue hereof there's none can tell;

But by bad courses may be understood
course (n.) 1 course of action, way of proceeding See Topics: Frequency count

That their events can never fall out good.
event (n.) outcome, issue, consequence



Go, Bushy, to the Earl of Wiltshire straight,
straight (adv.) straightaway, immediately, at once See Topics: Frequency count

Bid him repair to us to Ely House
repair (v.) 1 come, go, make one's way

To see this business. Tomorrow next
see (v.) 2 see to, manage, attend to

We will for Ireland, and 'tis time I trow.
trow (v.) 5 think, be sure See Topics: Discourse markers

And we create in absence of ourself

Our uncle York Lord Governor of England;

For he is just, and always loved us well.

Come on, our Queen; tomorrow must we part.

Be merry; for our time of stay is short.

Flourish. Exeunt King Richard and Queen Isabel.

Northumberland, Willoughby, and Ross remain


Well, lords, the Duke of Lancaster is dead.


And living too; for now his son is duke.


Barely in title, not in revenues.


Richly in both if justice had her right.


My heart is great, but it must break with silence
great (adj.) 5 full of emotion

Ere't be disburdened with a liberal tongue.
liberal (adj.) 4 indiscreet, imprudent


Nay, speak thy mind; and let him ne'er speak more

That speaks thy words again to do thee harm.


Tends that thou wouldst speak to the Duke of Hereford?
tend (v.) 5 relate, refer, be relevant

If it be so, out with it boldly, man!

Quick is mine ear to hear of good towards him.


No good at all that I can do for him,

Unless you call it good to pity him,

Bereft and gelded of his patrimony.
geld (v.), past forms gelded, gelt 2 deprive, strip, dispossess


Now, afore God, 'tis shame such wrongs are borne

In him, a royal prince, and many more
mo, moe (adj.) more [in number]

Of noble blood in this declining land.

The King is not himself, but basely led
basely (adv.) dishonourably, shamefully, ignominiously

By flatterers; and what they will inform

Merely in hate 'gainst any of us all,
merely (adv.) 1 completely, totally, entirely See Topics: Frequency count
merely (adv.) 2 purely, for no other reason than

That will the King severely prosecute

'Gainst us, our lives, our children, and our heirs.


The commons hath he pilled with grievous taxes,
common (n.) 1 (people) common people, ordinary citizens
pill (v.) 1 pillage, plunder, rob

And quite lost their hearts. The nobles hath he fined

For ancient quarrels, and quite lost their hearts.


And daily new exactions are devised,
exaction (n.) 1 extortionate taxation, exorbitant demand

As blanks, benevolences, and I wot not what.
benevolence (n.) forced loan, imposed contribution
blank charter, blank (n.) promisory document with the amount to pay left open
wot (v.) 1 learn, know, be told See Topics: Frequency count

But what o' God's name doth become of this?


Wars hath not wasted it; for warred he hath not,

But basely yielded upon compromise
basely (adv.) dishonourably, shamefully, ignominiously
compromise (n.) settlement, solution, amicable arrangement

That which his noble ancestors achieved with blows.

More hath he spent in peace than they in wars.


The Earl of Wiltshire hath the realm in farm.
farm, in farmed out, to let, rented out


The King's grown bankrupt like a broken man.


Reproach and dissolution hangeth over him.
dissolution (n.) 2 total destruction, disintegration


He hath not money for these Irish wars –

His burdenous taxations notwithstanding –
burdenous (adj.) burdensome, onerous, oppressive

But by the robbing of the banished Duke.


His noble kinsman! – most degenerate King!

But, lords, we hear this fearful tempest sing

Yet see no shelter to avoid the storm.

We see the wind sit sore upon our sails

And yet we strike not, but securely perish.
securely (adv.) 2 over-confidently, carelessly, heedlessly
strike (v.), past form stroke 6 [of sails] lower, take down [especially before a mightier vessel]


We see the very wrack that we must suffer,
wrack (n.) 2 wreck, loss, shipwreck

And unavoided is the danger now
unavoided (adj.) unavoidable, inevitable, inescapable

For suffering so the causes of our wrack.
suffer (v.) 2 put up with, tolerate, do nothing about


Not so. Even through the hollow eyes of death
eye (n.) 5 eye-socket

I spy life peering; but I dare not say

How near the tidings of our comfort is.


Nay, let us share thy thoughts, as thou dost ours.


Be confident to speak, Northumberland.

We three are but thyself; and speaking so

Thy words are but as thoughts. Therefore be bold.


Then thus: I have from Le Port Blanc,

A bay in Brittaine, received intelligence

That Harry Duke of Hereford, Rainold Lord Cobham,

The son of Richard Earl of Arundel

That late broke from the Duke of Exeter,
break (v.) 16 escape, break free, get away

His brother, Archbishop late of Canterbury,

Sir Thomas Erpingham, Sir John Ramston,

Sir John Norbery, Sir Robert Waterton, and Francis Coint,

All these well-furnished by the Duke of Brittaine

With eight tall ships, three thousand men of war,
tall (adj.) 2 large, fine, grand

Are making hither with all due expedience,
expedience (n.) 1 speed, haste, dispatch

And shortly mean to touch our northern shore.
touch (v.) 13 land at, arrive at, visit

Perhaps they had ere this, but that they stay
stay (v.) 1 wait (for), await

The first departing of the King for Ireland.

If then we shall shake off our slavish yoke,

Imp out our drooping country's broken wing,
imp out (v.) [of a falcon's wing] repair, insert feathers into

Redeem from broking pawn the blemished crown,
broking (adj.) acting as a broker, bargain-dealing

Wipe off the dust that hides our sceptre's gilt,

And make high majesty look like itself,

Away with me in post to Ravenspurgh.
post, in in haste, at top speed

But if you faint, as fearing to do so,

Stay, and be secret; and myself will go.


To horse, to horse. Urge doubts to them that fear.


Hold out my horse, and I will first be there.


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