Richard II

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter King Richard and John of Gaunt, with other

nobles, including the Lord Marshal, and attendants


Old John of Gaunt, time-honoured Lancaster,

Hast thou according to thy oath and band
band (n.) 1 bond, obligation, tie

Brought hither Henry Hereford, thy bold son,

Here to make good the boisterous late appeal –
appeal (n.) accusation, charge of treason
boisterous (adj.) 1 violent, fierce, savage
late (adj.) 1 recent, not long past

Which then our leisure would not let us hear –

Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray?


I have, my liege.


Tell me, moreover, hast thou sounded him
sound (v.) 2 find out, ascertain, sound out

If he appeal the Duke on ancient malice,
ancient, aunchient (adj.) 1 long-established, long-standing
appeal (v.) 1 accuse, denounce, impeach
malice (n.) hostility, hatred, ill-will, enmity

Or worthily, as a good subject should,

On some known ground of treachery in him?


As near as I could sift him on that argument,
argument (n.) 3 subject, point, theme, target
sift (v.) 2 discover by examining, find out by questioning

On some apparent danger seen in him
apparent (adj.) 1 plainly visible, conspicuous, evident, obvious

Aimed at your highness; no inveterate malice.
inveterate (adj.) long-standing, deep-rooted
malice (n.) hostility, hatred, ill-will, enmity


Then call them to our presence.

Exit Attendant

                         Face to face,

And frowning brow to brow, ourselves will hear
brow (n.) 1 appearance, aspect, countenance See Topics: Frequency count

The accuser and the accused freely speak.

High-stomached are they both, and full of ire;
high-stomached (adj.) proud, haughty, stubborn

In rage, deaf as the sea, hasty as fire.

Enter Bolingbroke and Mowbray


Many years of happy days befall

My gracious sovereign, my most loving liege!


Each day still better other's happiness
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

Until the heavens, envying earth's good hap,
hap (n.) 1 fortune, lot, fate

Add an immortal title to your crown!


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.
appeal (v.) 1 accuse, denounce, impeach

Cousin of Hereford, what dost thou object

Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray?


First, heaven be the record to my speech!
record (n.) 2 witness, confirmation

In the devotion of a subject's love,

Tendering the precious safety of my prince,
tender (v.) 2 feel concern for, hold dear, care for

And free from other, misbegotten hate

Come I appellant to this princely presence.
appellant (n.) accuser [of treason], challenger, denouncer

Now, Thomas Mowbray, do I turn to thee;

And mark my greeting well, for what I speak
greeting (n.) address, speech , discourse
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

My body shall make good upon this earth

Or my divine soul answer it in heaven.
divine (adj.) 1 immortal, eternal

Thou art a traitor and a miscreant,
miscreant (n.) 1 villain, wretch, rascal

Too good to be so, and too bad to live,
good (adj.) 9 high-ranking, highborn, distinguished

Since the more fair and crystal is the sky,
crystal (adj.) 1 clear, bright, transparent

The uglier seem the clouds that in it fly.

Once more, the more to aggravate the note,
note (n.) 12 reproach, stigma, mark of disgrace

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.
right-drawn (adj.) drawn in a rightful cause


Let not my cold words here accuse my zeal.
cold (adj.) 6 calm, cool, deliberate
zeal (n.) ardour, fervour; or: loyalty, devotion

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

The bitter clamour of two eager tongues,
eager (adj.) 2 sharp, cutting

Can arbitrate this cause betwixt us twain.

The blood is hot that must be cooled for this.

Yet can I not of such tame patience boast

As to be hushed, and naught at all to say.

First, the fair reverence of your highness curbs me
reverence (n.) 2 profound respect, esteem

From giving reins and spurs to my free speech,

Which else would post until it had returned
post (v.) 1 hasten, speed, ride fast

These terms of treason doubled down his throat.
double (v.) 1 repeat, reiterate

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 afoot
tie (v.) 1 oblige, constrain, force

Even to the frozen ridges of the Alps,

Or any other ground inhabitable
inhabitable (adj.) uninhabitable, unlivable

Where ever Englishman durst set his foot.

Meantime, let this defend my loyalty:

By all my hopes, most falsely doth he lie.


(throws down his gage)
gage (n.) pledge, challenge [usually, a glove or gauntlet thrown down] See Topics: Frequency count

Pale, trembling coward, there I throw my gage,

Disclaiming here the kindred of the King,
disclaim (v.) disown, repudiate, renounce [connection with]

And lay aside my high blood's royalty,

Which fear, not reverence, makes thee to except.
except, except against (v.) 1 take exception to, object to, repudiate
reverence (n.) 2 profound respect, esteem

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 worse devise.


(takes up the gage)

I take it up; and by that sword I swear

Which gently laid my knighthood on my shoulder,
gently (adv.) 1 like a gentleman, honourably, with dignity

I'll answer thee in any fair degree
answer (v.) 3 satisfy, discharge, requite
degree (n.) 4 measure, extent, amount

Or chivalrous design of knightly trial;

And when I mount, alive may I not light
light (v.) 2 dismount, descend, alight

If I be traitor or unjustly fight!


What doth our cousin lay to Mowbray's charge?
charge (n.) 5 responsibility, culpability
lay (v.) 2 attribute, ascribe, impute

It must be great that can inherit us
inherit (v.) 4 put in possession of, provide [with]

So much as of a thought of ill in him.
ill (n.) 1 wrong, injury, harm, evil


Look what I speak, my life shall prove it true:

That Mowbray hath received eight thousand nobles
noble (n.) 2 English gold coin, worth 6s. 8d [= c.??0.33] See Topics: Money

In name of lendings for your highness' soldiers,
lending (n.) 2 (plural) advance of money to soldiers [in lieu of regular pay]

The which he hath detained for lewd employments,
detain (v.) keep back, withhold, retain
employment (n.) 3 use, purpose, end
lewd (adj.) 1 improper, unseemly

Like a false traitor and injurious villain.
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious See Topics: Frequency count

Besides I say, and will in battle prove
battle (n.) 4 single combat, individual fight

Or here or elsewhere to the furthest verge

That ever was surveyed by English eye,

That all the treasons for these eighteen years

Complotted and contrived in this land
complot (v.) plot together, collude
contrive (v.) 1 scheme, plot, conspire

Fetch from false Mowbray, their first head and spring.
fetch (v.) 4 derive, stem

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,
suggest (v.) 1 tempt, prompt, incite

And consequently, like a traitor coward,
consequently (adv.) subsequently, later, then

Sluiced out his innocent soul through streams of blood;

Which blood, like sacrificing Abel's, cries

Even from the tongueless caverns of the earth
tongueless (adj.) dumb, silent, mute

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.


How high a pitch his resolution soars!
pitch (n.) 1 height [to which a bird of prey soars before swooping]

Thomas of Norfolk, what sayst thou to this?


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
slander (n.) 1 dishonour, disgrace, disrepute

How God and good men hate so foul a liar!


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
awe (n.) 1 reverence, respect, esteem

Such neighbour nearness to our sacred blood

Should nothing privilege him, nor partialize
partialize (v.) make partial, bias, make one-sided

The unstooping firmness of my upright soul.

He is our subject, Mowbray. So art thou.

Free speech and fearless I to thee allow.


Then, Bolingbroke, as low as to thy heart

Through the false passage of thy throat thou liest!
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious See Topics: Frequency count

Three parts of that receipt I had for Calais
receipt (n.) 4 sum received, amount obtained

Disbursed I duly to his highness' soldiers.

The other part reserved I by consent
reserve (v.) preserve, retain, keep

For that my sovereign liege was in my debt

Upon remainder of a dear account
account, accompt (n.) 2 reckoning, debt, sum owing
dear (adj.) 3 of great worth, valuable, precious
remainder (n.) 1 balance, amount remaining unpaid

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.

(To John of Gaunt)

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 received the sacrament

I did confess it, and exactly begged
exactly (adv.) 2 expressly, with great propriety

Your grace's pardon; and I hope I had it.

This is my fault. As for the rest appealed,
appeal (v.) 2 allege, accuse, charge

It issues from the rancour of a villain,

A recreant and most degenerate traitor,
recreant (adj.) cowardly, faint-hearted, craven

Which in myself I boldly will defend,

And interchangeably hurl down my gage
gage (n.) pledge, challenge [usually, a glove or gauntlet thrown down] See Topics: Frequency count
interchangeably (adv.) in turn, in exchange, reciprocally

Upon this overweening traitor's foot,
overweening (adj.) arrogant, overambitious, high and mighty

To prove myself a loyal gentleman

Even in the best blood chambered in his bosom.
chamber (v.) enclose, lodge, contain

(He throws down his gage)

In haste whereof, most heartily I pray

Your highness to assign our trial day.


Wrath-kindled gentlemen, be ruled by me:

Let's purge this choler without letting blood.
choler (n.) anger, rage, wrath
purge (v.) 2 expel, get rid of, flush out

This we prescribe, though no physician;

Deep malice makes too deep incision.

Forget, forgive, conclude, and be agreed;
conclude (v.) 3 come to terms, reach accord [over]

Our doctors say this is no month to bleed.
doctor (n.) 2 learned man, scholar; or: astrologer, physician

(To John of Gaunt)

Good uncle, let this end where it begun.

We'll calm the Duke of Norfolk, you your son.


To be a make-peace shall become my age.
become (v.) 1 be fitting, befit, be appropriate to See Topics: Frequency count
make-peace (n.) peacemaker

Throw down, my son, the Duke of Norfolk's gage.
gage (n.) pledge, challenge [usually, a glove or gauntlet thrown down] See Topics: Frequency count


And, Norfolk, throw down his.


                         When, Harry, when?

Obedience bids I should not bid again.


Norfolk, throw down! We bid: there is no boot.
boot (n.) 2 alternative, choice, better way



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.
dark (adj.) 2 unfavourable, malignant, evil

I am disgraced, impeached, and baffled here,
baffle (v.) 1 [of a knight] publicly disgrace, treat with infamy
impeach (v.) 1 accuse, charge, challenge

Pierced to the soul with slander's venomed spear,
venomed (adj.) poisoned, venomous

The which no balm can cure but his heart-blood

Which breathed this poison.
breathe (v.) 1 speak, utter, talk


                         Rage must be withstood.

Give me his gage. Lions make leopards tame.
gage (n.) pledge, challenge [usually, a glove or gauntlet thrown down] See Topics: Frequency count


Yea, but not change his spots. Take but my shame
gage (n.) pledge, challenge [usually, a glove or gauntlet thrown down] See Topics: Frequency count
shame (n.) 1 disgrace, dishonour, affront

And I resign my gage. My dear dear lord,

The purest treasure mortal times afford
mortal (adj.) 2 human, subject to death, characterized by mortality
time (n.) 3 lifetime, life

Is spotless reputation. That away,

Men are but gilded loam, or painted clay.

A jewel in a ten-times barred-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.
try (v.) 2 put to the test, test the goodness [of]

In that I live and for that will I die.


(to Bolingbroke)
gage (n.) pledge, challenge [usually, a glove or gauntlet thrown down] See Topics: Frequency count

Cousin, throw up your gage. Do you begin.


O God defend my soul from such deep sin!

Shall I seem crest-fallen in my father's sight?
crest-fallen (adj.) humbled, abashed, shamed

Or with pale beggar-fear impeach my height
beggar-fear (n.) fear that a beggar would show
height (n.) 2 rank, high birth, high degree
impeach (v.) 2 discredit, disparage, call into question

Before this outdared dastard? Ere my tongue
dastard (n.) coward, sissy, runaway, traitor
outdared (adj.) overcome by daring, cowed, outbraved; or: excessively daring, brazen, unabashed

Shall wound my honour with such feeble wrong,

Or sound so base a parle, my teeth shall tear
base (adj.) 1 dishonourable, low, unworthy See Topics: Frequency count
parle, parley (n.) 1 negotiation, meeting [between enemies under a truce, to discuss terms] See Topics: Frequency count

The slavish motive of recanting fear
motive (n.) 3 instrument, agent, moving organ
recanting (adj.) causing an action to be retracted, resulting in withdrawal

And spit it bleeding in his high disgrace

Where shame doth harbour, even in Mowbray's face.

Exit John of Gaunt


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.
settled (adj.) 4 deep-rooted, firmly implanted
swelling (adj.) 5 inflated with anger, feeling strong emotion

Since we cannot atone you, we shall see
atone (v.) 1 unite, join, reconcile

Justice design the victor's chivalry.
chivalry (n.) 1 knightly prowess, warlike distinction
design (v.) indicate, designate, mark out

Lord Marshal, command our officers-at-arms

Be ready to direct these home alarms.
alarm, alarum, 'larm, 'larum (n.) 3 disturbance, turbulence, trouble, loud noise


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