Imagini ale paginilor

Now for the rebels, which stand out in Ireland: -
Expedient manage must be made, my liege;
Ere further leisure yield them further means
For their advantage, and your highness' loss.
K. Rich. We will ourself in person to this war.
And, for our coffers-with too great a court,
And liberal largess-are grown somewhat light,
We are enforced to farm our royal realm;
The revenue whereof shall furnish us

For our affairs in hand. If that come short,
Our substitutes at home shall have blank charters;
Whereto, when they shall know what men are rich,
They shall subscribe them for large sums of gold,
And send them after to supply our wants;
For we will make for Ireland presently.

Bushy, what news?

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

Bushy. Old John of Gaunt is grievous sick, my lord; Suddenly taken; and hath sent post-haste,

To entreat your majesty to visit him.

K. Rich. Where lies he.

Bushy. At Ely-house.

K. Rich. Now put it, Heaven, in his physician's mind, To help him to his grave immediately!

The lining of his coffers shall make coats
To deck our soldiers for these Irish wars.-
Come, gentlemen, let's all go visit him;

'Pray God, we may make haste, and come too late.



SCENE I. London. A Room in Ely-house. GAUNT on a couch; the DUKE OF YORK, and others standing by him.

Gaunt. Will the king come? that I may breathe my last In wholesome counsel to his unstayed youth.

York. Vex not yourself, nor strive not with your breath; For all in vain comes counsel to his ear.

Gaunt. 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

Than they whom youth and ease have taught to gloze; More are men's ends marked, than their lives before: The setting sun and music at the close, As the last taste of sweets, is sweetest last; Writ in remembrance, more than things long past. Though Richard my life's counsel would not hear, My death's sad tale may yet undeaf his ear.

York. No; it is stopped with other flattering sounds,
As, praises of his state: then, there are found
Lascivious metres; to whose venom sound
The open ear of youth doth always listen;
Report of fashions in proud Italy,

Whose manners still our tardy, apish nation
Limps after, in base imitation.

Where doth the world thrust forth a vanity,
(So it be new, there's no respect how vile,)
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.
Direct not him, whose way himself will choose;
'Tis breath thou lack'st, and that breath wilt thou lose.
Gaunt. Methinks I am a prophet new inspired;
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;
He tires betimes, that spurs too fast betimes;

With eager feeding, food doth choke the feeder:
Light vanity, insatiate cormorant,

Consuming means, soon preys upon itself.

This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
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;
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands;

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

This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,

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:
England, bound in with the triumphant sea,
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
With inky blots, and rotten parchment bonds;
That England, that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.
O, would the scandal vanish with my life,
How happy then were my ensuing death!


York. The king is come: deal mildly with his youth; For young, hot colts, being raged, do rage the more. Queen. How fares our noble uncle, Lancaster? K. Rich. What comfort, man? How is't with aged Gaunt? Gaunt. O, how that name befits my composition! Old Gaunt, indeed; and gaunt in being old. Within me grief hath kept a tedious fast; And who abstains from meat, that is not gaunt? For sleeping England long time have I watched; Watching breeds leanness; leanness is all gaunt. 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 inhabits nought but bones.

K. Rich. Can sick men play so nicely with their names? Gaunt. No; misery makes sport to mock itself: Since thou dost seek to kill my name in me,

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

K. Rich. Should dying men flatter with those that live? Gaunt. No, no; men living, flatter those that die. K. Rich. Thou, now a dying, say'st-thou flatter'st me. Gaunt. O, no; thou diest, though I the sicker be. K. Rich. I am in health, I breathe, and see thee ill. Gaunt. Now, He that made me, knows I see thee ill; Ill in myself to sce, 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,

Committ'st 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;
And yet, incaged in so small a verge,
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,
Which art possessed now to depose thyself.
Why, cousin, wert thou regent of the world,
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;
And thou-

K. Rich. ?

-a lunatic, lean-witted fool, Presuming on an ague's privilege, Dar'st 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,
Should run thy head from thy unreverent shoulders.
Gaunt. O, spare me not, my brother Edward's son,
For that I was his father Edward's son;

That blood already, like the pelican,

[ocr errors]

Hast thou tapped out, and drunkenly caroused.
My brother Gloster, plain, well-meaning soul,
(Whom fair befall in heaven 'mongst happy souls!)
May be a precedent and witness good,

That thou respect'st not spilling Edward's blood:
Join with the present sickness that I have,
And thy unkindness be like crooked age,
To crop at once a too-long withered flower.

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 honor have.

[Exit, borne out by his Attendants. K. Rich. And let them die, that age and sullens have; For both hast thou, and both become the grave.

York. I do beseech your majesty, impute his words


To wayward sickliness and age in him.

He loves you, on my life, and holds you dear
As Harry duke of Hereford, were he here.

K. Rich. Right; you say true; as Hereford's love, so his; As theirs, so mine; and all be as it is.


North. My liege, old Gaunt commends him to your majesty.

K. Rich. What says he?

North. Nay, nothing; all is said:

His tongue is now a stringless instrument;

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

York. Be York the next that must be bankrupt so! Though death be poor, it ends a mortal woe.

K. Rich. 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 kernes;
Which live like venom, where no venom else,

But only they, hath privilege to live.

And, for these great affairs do ask some charge,
Towards our assistance, we do seize to us

The plate, coin, revenues, and movables,

Whereof our uncle Gaunt did stand possessed.

York. How long shall I be patient? Ah, how long Shall tender duty make me suffer wrong?

Not Gloster's death, nor Hereford's banishment,
Not Gaunt's rebukes, nor England's private wrongs,
Nor the prevention of poor Bolingbroke
About his marriage, nor my own disgrace,
Have ever made me sour my patient cheek,
Or bend one wrinkle on my sovereign's face.-
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,
Than was that young and princely gentleman.
His face thou hast, for even so looked he,
Accomplished with the number of thy hours;
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's blood,
But bloody with the enemies of his kin.

« ÎnapoiContinuă »