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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, where I tied to run a-foot
Even to the frozen ridges of the Alps,
Or any other ground inhabitable7
Where ever Englishman durst set his foot.
Mean time, let this defend my loyalty,-
By all my hopes, most falsely doth he lie.
Boling. Pale trembling coward, there I throw my
Disclaiming here the kindred of the king;
And lay aside my high blood's royalty,
Which fear, not reverence, makes thee to except:
If guilty dread hath left thee so much strength,
As to take
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.
Nor. I take it up; and, by that sword I swear,
Which gently lay'd my knighthood on my shoulder,
I'll answer thee in any fair degree,
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
It must be great, that can inberit 8 us
So much as of a thought of ill in him.
Boling. Look, what I speak my life shall prove
7 i. e. uninhabitable.
8 To inherit, in the language of Shakspeare, is to possess :-
Among fresh female buds shall you this night
Inherit at my house.'—Romeo and Juliet, Act i. Sc. 2.
That Mowbray hath receiv'd eight thousand nobles,
In name of lendings for your highness' soldiers;
The which he hath detain'd for lewd employments,
Like a false traitor, and injurious villain.
Besides I say, and will in battle prove,-
Or here, or elsewhere, to the furthest verge
That ever was survey'd by English eye,-
That all the treasons for these eighteen years
Complotted and contrived in this land,
Fetch from false Mowbray their first head and spring.
Further I say,—and further will maintain
Upon his bad life, to make all this good,
That he did plot the duke of Gloster's death 10 ;
Suggest 11 his soon-believing adversaries;
And, consequently, like a traitor coward,
Sluic'd out his innocent soul through streams of blood:
Which blood, like sacrificing Abel's, cries,
Even from the tongueless caverns of the earth,
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.
K. Rich. How high a pitch his resolution soars !Thomas of Norfolk, what say'st thou to this?
Nor. 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 12,
How God, and good men, hate so foul a liar.
K. Rich. Mowbray, impartial are our eyes, and
Were he my brother, nay, my kingdom's heir
9 Lewd formerly signified knavish, ungracious, naughty, idle, beside its now general acceptation. Vide note on Much Ado about Nothing, Act v. Sc. 1. Vol. ii. p. 206.
10 Thomas of Woodstock, the youngest son of Edward III. who was murdered at Calais in 1397. See Froissart, chap. ccxxvi.
\ i. e. prompt them, set them on by injurious hints. 12 Reproach to his ancestry.
(As he is but my father's brother's son),
Now by my sceptre's awe I make a vow,
Such neighbour nearness to our sacred blood
Should nothing privilege him, nor partialize
The unstooping firmness of my upright soul;
He is our subject, Mowbray, so art thou;
Free speech, and fearless, I to thee allow.
Nor. Then, Bolingbroke, as low as to thy heart,
Through the false passage of thy throat, thou liest!
Three parts of that receipt I had for Calais,
Disburs’d I duly to his highness' soldiers :
The other part reserv'd I by consent;
For that my sovereign liege was in my debt,
Upon remainder of a dear account,
Since last I went to France to fetch his queen 13 :
Now swallow down that lie. For Gloster's
I slew him not; but to my own disgrace,
Neglected my sworn duty in that case.-
For you, my noble lord of Lancaster,
The honourable father to my foe,
Once did I lay in ambush for your life,
A trespass that doth vex my grieved soul:
But, ere I last receiv'd the sacrament,
I did confess it: and exactly begg'd
Your grace's pardon, and, I hope, I had it.
This is my fault: As for the rest appeal'd 14,
It issues from the rancour of a villain,
13 The duke of Norfolk was joined in commission with Edward earl of Rutland (the Aumerle of this play) to go to France in the year 1395, to demand in marriage Isabel, eldest daughter of Charles VI. then between seven and eight years of age. Richard was married to his young consort in November 1396, at Calais; his first wife, Anne, daughter of Charles IV. emperor of Germany, died at Shene on Whit Sunday, 1394. His marriage with Isabella was merely political, it was accompanied with an agreement for a truce between France and England for thirty years.
A recreant and most degenerate traitor:
Which in myself I boldly will defend;
And interchangeably hurl down my gage
Upon this overweening 15 traitor's foot,
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,beruld by me: Let's
purge this choler without letting blood :
This we prescribe, though no physician 16;
Deep malice makes too deep incision:
Forget, forgive; conclude, and be agreed;
this is no time to bleed.Good uncle, let this end where it begun; We'll calm the duke of Norfolk, you your son.
Gaunt. To be a make-peace shall become my age: Throw down, my son, the duke of Norfolk's gage.
K. Rich. And, Norfolk, throw down his.
When, Harry? when 17?
Obedience bids, I should not bid again.
K. Rich. Norfolk, throw down; we bid; there
is no boot 18. 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 (Despite of death, that lives upon my grave 19, To dark dishonour's use thou shalt not have.
16 Pope thought that some of the rhyming verses in this play were not from the hand of Sbakspeare.
17 This abrupt eliptical exclamation of impatience is again used in the Taming of a Shrew:--'Why when, I say! Nay, good sweet Kate, be merry.” It appears to be equivalent to when will such a thing be done ?
I am disgrac'd, impeach'd, and baffled 20 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 :
Give me his gage:—Lions make leopards 21 tame.
Nor. Yea, but not change their 22 spots : take but
And I resign my gage. My dear, dear lord,
The purest treasure mortal times afford,
Is—spotless reputation; that away,
Men are but gilded loam, or painted clay.
A jewel in a ten times barr'd
chest Is-a bold spirit in a loyal breast. Mine honour is
life; both grow in one;
Take honour from me, and my life is done :
Then, dear my liege, mine honour let me try;
In that I live, and for that will I die.
K. Rich. Cousin, throw down your gage; do you
Boling. O, God defend my soul from such foul sin !
Shall I seem crest-fallen in
Or with pale beggar-fear impeach my height
Before this outdar'd dastard ! Ere my tongue
Shall wound mine honour with such feeble
Or sound so base a parle, my teeth shall tear
The slavish motive of recanting fear;
And spit it bleeding in his high disgrace,
Where shame doth harbour, even in Mowbray's face.
[Exit GAUNT. 20 Bafiled in this place signifies' abused, reviled, reproached in base terms ;' which was the ancient signification of the word, as well as to deceive or circumvent. Vide Cotgrave in v. Baffouer. See also a note on King Henry IV. Part 1. Act i. Sc. 2.