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THE LIFE AND DEATH
KING RICHARD II.
SCENE I.-LONDON. A Room in the Palace.
Enter KING RICHARD, attended; JOHN OF GAUNT,
K. Rich. Old John of Gaunt, time-honour'd Lancaster,
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 I could sift 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 full of ire,
In rage deaf as the sea, hasty as fire.
Re-enter Attendants, with BOLINGBROKE and NORFOLK. Boling. 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,
K. Rich. We thank you both: yet one but flatters us,
Namely, to appeal each other of high treason.-
Boling. First,-heaven be the record to my speech!In the devotion of a subject's love,
Tendering the precious safety of my prince,
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:
First, the fair reverence of your highness curbs me
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;
Boling. Pale trembling coward, there I throw my gage,
Which fear, not reverence, makes thee to except.
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 inherit us
So much as of a thought of ill in him.
Boling. Look, what I speak my life shall prove it true;-
Fetch'd from false Mowbray their first head and spring.
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,
Sluic'd out his innocent soul through streams of blood:
Even from the tongueless caverns of the earth,
K. Rich. How high a pitch his resolution soars !—
K. Rich. Mowbray, impartial are our eyes and cars:
Nor. Then, Bolingbroke, as low as to thy heart,
For that my sovereign liege was in my debt
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 mine own disgrace,
Neglected my sworn duty in that case.-
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 rul'd by
Let's purge this choler without letting blood:
Deep malice makes too deep incision:
Forget, forgive; conclude, and be agreed;
Gaunt. To be a make-peace shall become my age:-
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 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.
Rage must be withstood:-
And I resign my gage. My dear dear lord,
Is spotless reputation; that away,
Men are but gilded loam or painted clay.
Mine honour is my life; both grow in one;
K. Rich. Cousin, throw down your gage; do you begin.
Shall I seem crest-fallen in my father's sight?
Or with pale beggar-fear impeach my height
Shall wound mine honour with such feeble wrong,
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,