Richard II, Rebellion, and Right
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What are we to learn from Shakespeare's Richard II? Not, I think, that kings have divine right. Rather, that the Mantle of Heaven passes from a king when he abuses his power.
BOLINGBROKE: Bushy and Green, I will not vex your souls-- Since presently your souls must part your bodies-- With too much urging your pernicious lives, For 'twere no charity; yet, to wash your blood From off my hands, here in the view of men I will unfold some causes of your deaths. You have misled a prince, a royal king, A happy gentleman in blood and lineaments, By you unhappied and disfigured clean: You have in manner with your sinful hours Made a divorce betwixt his queen and him, Broke the possession of a royal bed And stain'd the beauty of a fair queen's cheeks With tears drawn from her eyes by your foul wrongs. Myself, a prince by fortune of my birth, Near to the king in blood, and near in love Till you did make him misinterpret me, Have stoop'd my neck under your injuries, And sigh'd my English breath in foreign clouds, Eating the bitter bread of banishment; Whilst you have fed upon my signories, Dispark'd my parks and fell'd my forest woods, From my own windows torn my household coat, Razed out my imprese, leaving me no sign, Save men's opinions and my living blood, To show the world I am a gentleman. This and much more, much more than twice all this, Condemns you to the death. KING RICHARD II: Not all the water in the rough rude sea Can wash the balm off from an anointed king; The breath of worldly men cannot depose The deputy elected by the Lord: For every man that Bolingbroke hath press'd To lift shrewd steel against our golden crown, God for his Richard hath in heavenly pay A glorious angel: then, if angels fight, Weak men must fall, for heaven still guards the right. KING RICHARD II I had forgot myself; am I not king? Awake, thou coward majesty! thou sleepest. Is not the king's name twenty thousand names? Arm, arm, my name! a puny subject strikes At thy great glory. Look not to the ground, Ye favourites of a king: are we not high? High be our thoughts: I know my uncle York Hath power enough to serve our turn. BOLINGBROKE: Henry Bolingbroke On both his knees doth kiss King Richard's hand And sends allegiance and true faith of heart To his most royal person, hither come Even at his feet to lay my arms and power, Provided that my banishment repeal'd And lands restored again be freely granted: If not, I'll use the advantage of my power And lay the summer's dust with showers of blood Rain'd from the wounds of slaughter'd Englishmen: The which, how far off from the mind of Bolingbroke It is, such crimson tempest should bedrench The fresh green lap of fair King Richard's land, My stooping duty tenderly shall show. BOLINGBROKE: Methinks King Richard and myself should meet With no less terror than the elements Of fire and water, when their thundering shock At meeting tears the cloudy cheeks of heaven. Be he the fire, I'll be the yielding water: The rage be his, whilst on the earth I rain My waters; on the earth, and not on him. KING RICHARD II: Because we thought ourself thy lawful king: And if we be, how dare thy joints forget To pay their awful duty to our presence? If we be not, show us the hand of God That hath dismissed us from our stewardship; For well we know, no hand of blood and bone Can gripe the sacred handle of our sceptre, Unless he do profane, steal, or usurp. And though you think that all, as you have done, Have torn their souls by turning them from us, And we are barren and bereft of friends; Yet know, my master, God omnipotent, Is mustering in his clouds on our behalf Armies of pestilence; and they shall strike Your children yet unborn and unbegot, That lift your vassal hands against my head And threat the glory of my precious crown. Tell Bolingbroke--for yond methinks he stands-- That every stride he makes upon my land Is dangerous treason: he is come to open The purple testament of bleeding war; But ere the crown he looks for live in peace, Ten thousand bloody crowns of mothers' sons Shall ill become the flower of England's face, KING RICHARD II I'll be buried in the king's highway, Some way of common trade, where subjects' feet May hourly trample on their sovereign's head; For on my heart they tread now whilst I live; And buried once, why not upon my head? AGARDENER Bolingbroke Hath seized the wasteful king. O, what pity is it That he had not so trimm'd and dress'd his land As we this garden! We at time of year Do wound the bark, the skin of our fruit-trees, Lest, being over-proud in sap and blood, With too much riches it confound itself: Had he done so to great and growing men, They might have lived to bear and he to taste Their fruits of duty: superfluous branches We lop away, that bearing boughs may live: Had he done so, himself had borne the crown, Which waste of idle hours hath quite thrown down. GARDENER King Richard, he is in the mighty hold Of Bolingbroke: their fortunes both are weigh'd: In your lord's scale is nothing but himself, And some few vanities that make him light; But in the balance of great Bolingbroke, Besides himself, are all the English peers, And with that odds he weighs King Richard down. KING RICHARD II 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. KING RICHARD II 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 that swear to thee! Make me, that nothing have, with nothing grieved, And thou with all pleased, that hast all achieved! Long mayst thou live in Richard's seat to sit, And soon lie Richard in an earthly pit! God save King Harry, unking'd Richard says, And send him many years of sunshine days!