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116.—THE DEPOSITION OF RICHARD.
The scene of fiery contention in Westminster Hall, which we are about to give, follows the chroniclers very literally. Shakspere has, however, placed this remarkable exhibition of vindictive charges and recriminations before the deposition of Richard. It took place" after Henry's coronation. The protest of the Bishop of Carlisle, whom Holinshed calls “ a bold bishop and a faithful," also, according to most authorities, followed the deposition. It is stated to have been made on a request from the Commons that Richard might have “judgment decreed against him, so as the realm were not troubled by him." There is considerable doubt whether this speech was delivered at all. It does not appear that Richard made his resignation in Parliament, but that Northumberland and other peers, prelates, and knights, with justices and notaries, attended the captive on the 29th September, 1399, in the chief chamber of the king's lodging in the Tower, where he read aloud and subscribed the scroll of resignation, saying that, if it were in his power, he would that the Duke of Lancaster there present should be his successor. These instruments were read to the Parliament the day following. So Holinshed relates the story. Froissart, however, details the ceremonies of the surrender with more minuteness : "On a day the Duke of Lancaster, accompanied with lords, dukes, prelates, earls, barons, and knights, and of the notablest men of London, and of other good towns, rode to the Tower, and there alighted. Then King Richard was brought into the hall, appareled like a king in his robes of state, his sceptre in his hand, and his crown on his head; then he stood up alone, not holden nor stayed by no man, and said aloud: 'I have been King of England, Duke of Aquitaine, and lord of Ireland, about twenty-two years, which signiory, royalty, sceptre, crown, and heritage I clearly resign here to my cousin Henry of Lancaster; and I desire him here, in this open presence, in entering of the same possession, to take this sceptre:' and so delivered it to the duke, who took it." There can be no doubt that this apparently willing resignation, which his enemies said was made even with a merry countenance, was extorted from Richard by the fear of death. Northumberland openly proclaimed this when he rebelled against Henry. In a very curious manuscript in the library of the king of France, from which copious extracts are given in Mr. Webb's notes to the Metrical History,' there is a detailed account of a meeting between Richard and Bolingbroke in the Tower, at which York and Aumerle were present,—where the king, in a most violent rage, says, 'I am king, and will still continue king, in spite of all my enemies.” Shakspere has most skilfully portrayed this natural struggle of the will of the unhappy man, against the necessity by which he was overwhelmed. The deposition scene shows us,-as faithfully as the glass which the poet introduces exhibits the person of the king,—the vacillations of a nature irresolute and yielding, but clinging to the phantom of power when the substance had passed away. There can be no doubt that Shakspere's portrait of Richard II. is as historically true as it is poetically just.
SCENE.--London. Westminster Hall. Bolingbroke, Aumerle, Surrey, Northumberland, Percy, Fitzwater, another Lord, Bishop
of Carlisle, Abbot of Westminster, and Attendants.
Enter York, attended.
York. Great duke of Lancaster, I come to thee
From plume-pluck'd Richard; who with willing soul
Adopts thee heir, and his high sceptre yields
To the possession of thy royal hand :
Ascend his throne, descending now from him, —
And long live Henry, of that name the fourth !
Boling. In God's name, I'll ascend the regal throne.
Car. Marry, heaven forbid !-
Worst in this myal presence may I speak,
Yet best beseeming me to speak the truth.
Would God, that any in this noble presence
Were enough noble to be upright judge
Of noble Richard ; then true nobleness would
Learn him forbearance from so foul a wrong.
What subject can give sentence on his king ?
And who sits here that is not Richard's subject ?
Thieves are not judg'd but they are by to hear,
Although apparent guilt be seen in them :
And shall the figure of God's majesty,
His captain, steward, deputy elect,
Anointed, crowned, planted many years,
Be judg'd by subject and inferior breath,
And he himself not present? O, forfend it, God,
That, in a Christian climate, souls refin'd
Should show so heinous, black, obscene a deed !
I speak to subjects, and a subject speaks,
Stirr'd up by heaven thus boldly for his king.
My lord of Hereford, here, whom you call king,
Is a foul traitor to proud Hereford's king :
And if you crown him, let me prophesy, —
The blood of English shall manure the ground,
And future ages groan for this foul act;
Peace shall go sleep with Turks and infidels,
And, in this seat of peace, tumultuous wars
Shall kin with kin and kind with kind confound;
Disorder, horror, fear, and mutiny,
Shall here inhabit, and this land be call'd
The field of Golgotha, and dead men's skulls.
O, if you rear this house against this house,
It will the woefullest division prove
That ever fell upon this cursed earth :
Prevent it, resist it, and let it not be so,
Lest child, child's children, cry against you-woe!
North. Well have you argued, sir ; and, for your pains,
Of capital treason we arrest you here :
My lord of Westminster, be it your charge
To keep him safely till his day of trial.
May't please you, lords, to grant the commons' suit ?
Boling. Fetch hither Richard, that in common view
He may surrender; so we shall proceed
I will be his conduct.
Boling. Lords, you that here are under our arrest,
Procure your sureties for your days of answer :
Little are we beholden to your love,
[76 Carlisle And little look'd for at your helping hands. Re-enter York, with King Richard, and Officers bearing the crown, do.
K. Rich. Alack, why am I sent for to a king, Before I have shook off the regal thoughts Wherewith I reign’d? I hardly yet have learn'd To insinuate, flatter, bow, and bend my knee :
Give sorrow leave awhile to tutor me
To this submission. Yet I will remember
The favours of these men: Were they not mine?
Did they not sometimes cry, all hail ! to me?
So Judas did to Christbut he, in twelve,
Found truth in all but one; I, in twelve thousand, none.
God save the king !-Will no man say, amen ?
Am I both priest and clerk ? well then, amen.
God save the king ! although I be not he;
And yet, amen, if heaven do think him me.-
To do what service am I sent for hither ?
York. To do that office, of thine own good will,
Which tired majesty did make thee offer,—
The resignation of thy state and crown
To Henry Bolingbroke.
K. Rich. Give me the crown :-Here, cousin, seize the crown;
Here, cousin, on this side my hand ; on that side thine.
Now is this golden crown like a deep well
That owes two buckets filling one another ;
The emptier ever dancing in the air,
The other down, unseen,
and full of water :
That bucket down, and full of tears, am I,
Drinking my griefs, whilst you mount up on high.
Boling. I thought you had been willing to resign.
K. Rich. My crown I am, but still my griefs are mine :
You may my glories and my state depose,
But not my griefs ; still am I king of those.
Boling. Part of your cares you give me with your crown.
K. Rich. Your cares set up do not pluck my cares down.
My care is loss of care, by old care done ;
Your care is gain of care, by new care won:
The cares I give I have, though given away ;
They tend the crown, yet still with me they stay.
Boling. Are you contented to resign the crown ?
K. Rich. Ay, no :--Do, ay ; for I must nothing be ;
Therefore no, no, for I resign to thee.
Now mark me how I will undo myself :-
I give this heavy weight from off my head,
And this unwieldy sceptre from my hand,
The pride of kingly sway from out my heart ;
With mine own tears I wash away my balm,
With mine own hands I give away my crown,
With mine own tongue deny my sacred state,
With mine own breath release all duteous oaths :
All pomp and majesty I do forswear ;
My manors, rents, revenues, I forego ;
My acts, decrees, and statutes, I deny:
God pardon all oaths that are broke to me!
God keep all vows unbroke are made to thee!
Make me, that nothing have, with nothing griev'd ;
And thou with all pleas'd, that hast all achiev'd !
Long mayst thou live in Richard's seat to sit,
And soon lie Richard in an earthy pit!
God save King Henry unking'd Richard says,
And send him many years of sunshine days!
What more remains ?
No more, but that you read
[Offering a paper.
These accusations, and these grievous crimes,
Committed by your person, and your follower
Against the state and profit of this land;
That, by confessing them, the souls of men
May deem that you are worthily depos'd.
K. Rich. Must I do so ? and must I ravel out
My weav'd-up follies ! Gentle Northumberland,
If thy offences were upon record,
Would it not shame thee, in so fair a troop,
To read a lecture of them? If thou wouldst,
There shouldst thou find one heinous article,
Containing the deposing of a king,
And cracking the strong warrant of an oath,
Mark'd with a blot, damn'd in the book of heaven :-
Nay, all of you, that stand and look upon me,
Whilst that my wretchedness doth bait myself,
Though some of you, with Pilate, wash your hands,
Showing an outward pity; yet you Pilates
Have here deliver'd me to my sour cross,
And water cannot wash away your sin.
North. My lord, despatch ; read o'er these articles.
K. Rich. Mine eyes are full of tears, I cannot see :
And yet salt water blinds them not so much,
But they can see a sort of traitors here.
Nay, if I turn mine eyes upon myself,
I find myself a traitor with the rest :
For I have given here my soul's consent
To undeck the pompous body of a king;
Made glory base ; a sovereignty a slave;
Proud majesty a subject; state a peasant.
North. My lord,
K. Rich. No lord of thine, thou haught, insulting man,
No, nor no man's lord; I have no name, no title,
No, not that name was given me at the font-
But 't is usurp'd Alack the heavy day,
That I have worn so many winters out,
And know not now what name to call myself !
O, that I were a mockery king of snow,
Standing before the sun of Bolingbroke,
To melt myself away in water-drops !
Good king, -great king, -and yet not greatly good,)
An if my word be sterling yet in England,
Let it command a mirror hither straight,
That it may show me what a face I have,
Since it is bankrupt of his majesty.
Boling. Go some of you, and fetch a looking-glass.
[Exit an Attendant
North. Read o'er this paper, while the glass doth come.
K. Rich. Fiend ! thou torment'st me ere I come to hell.
Boling. Urge it no more, my lord Northumberland.
North. The commons will not then be satisfied.
K. Rich. They shall be satisfied : I'll read enough,
When I do see the very book indeed
Where all my sins are writ, and that's myself.
Re-enter Attendant with a glass.
Give me that glass, and therein will I read.
No deeper wrinkles yet? Hath sorrow struck
So many blows upon this face of mine,
And made no deeper wounds ?—0 flattering glass,
Like to my followers in prosperity,
Thou dost beguile me! Was this face the face
That every day under his household roof
Did keep ten thousand men ? Was this the face
That, like the sun, did make beholders wink?
Is this the face which fac'd so many follies,
That was at last outfac'd by Bolingbroke ?
A brittle glory shineth in this face :
As brittle as the glory is the face ;
[Dashes the glass against the ground.
For there it is, crack'd in an hundred shivers.
Mark, silent king, the moral of this sport,
How soon my sorrow hath destroy'd my face.
Boling. The shadow of your sorrow hath destroy'd
The shadow of your face.
Say that again.
The shadow of my sorrow? Ha! let's see:
'Tis very true my grief lies all within ;
And these external manners of laments
Are merely shadows to the unseen grief,
That swells with silence in the tortur'd soul;
There lies the substance: and I thank thee, king,
For thy great bounty, that not only giv'st
Me cause to wail, but teachest me the way
How to lament the cause. I'll beg one boon,
And then be gone, and trouble you no more.
Shall I obtain it ?
Name it, fair cousin.
K. Rich. Fair cousin , I am greater than a king:
For when I was a king my flatterers
Were then but subjects ; being now a subject.
I have a king here to my flatterer.
Being so great, I have no need to beg.
Boling. Yet ask.
K. Rich, And shall I have ?
Boling. You shall.
K. Rich. Then give me leave to go.
K. Rich. Whither you will, so I were from your sights.