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Richard II
Act 5, scene 5

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In Richard II, anger at a king’s arbitrary rule leads to his downfall—and sets in motion a decades-long struggle for the…

Act 1, scene 1

Henry Bolingbroke, King Richard’s cousin, publicly accuses Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk, of treason. Among Bolingbroke’s charges is that Mowbray…

Act 1, scene 2

The widow of the duke of Gloucester begs John of Gaunt to avenge the murder of her husband. Gaunt says…

Act 1, scene 3

Bolingbroke and Mowbray prepare to fight to the death. King Richard suddenly calls off the fight and banishes Mowbray for…

Act 1, scene 4

Richard makes plans to fight in person in Ireland. To obtain money for the war against the Irish, he leases…

Act 2, scene 1

John of Gaunt, knowing that he is dying, speaks plainly to Richard about his deficiencies as king. Richard expresses his…

Act 2, scene 2

As the Queen grieves for Richard’s departure, news comes that Bolingbroke has landed in England with an army. As York…

Act 2, scene 3

Bolingbroke and Northumberland, just outside Berkeley Castle, meet young Henry Percy, Northumberland’s son. When the duke of York enters, he…

Act 2, scene 4

The Welsh troops, having waited ten days for Richard’s return, disperse. The earl of Salisbury predicts that Richard stands at…

Act 3, scene 1

Bolingbroke sentences Bushy and Green to death.

Act 3, scene 2

Richard, landing in England, greets his kingdom and expresses certainty that God will protect him against Bolingbroke’s threat. He learns…

Act 3, scene 3

Bolingbroke, approaching Flint Castle, learns that Richard is within. In answer to Bolingbroke’s trumpets, Richard and Aumerle appear on the…

Act 3, scene 4

Richard’s queen overhears a gardener describing Richard’s downfall and probable deposition.

Act 4, scene 1

Bolingbroke seeks information about the duke of Gloucester’s death. Bagot implicates Aumerle, and several nobles challenge Aumerle and each other….

Act 5, scene 1

Richard and his queen say their farewells, she to be sent to France, he to Pomfret Castle.

Act 5, scene 2

The duke of York expresses his sympathy for Richard but declares his allegiance to King Henry. When York discovers that…

Act 5, scene 3

Aumerle reaches King Henry and begs a pardon for an unnamed offence. The duke of York arrives and reveals the…

Act 5, scene 4

Sir Pierce Exton, reflecting on King Henry’s wish that Richard be removed, decides to carry out that wish.

Act 5, scene 5

Richard, imprisoned at Pontefract Castle, is visited by a former groom of his stable and then by the prison Keeper….

Act 5, scene 6

News is brought to Henry about the capture and punishment of rebel leaders. Henry pardons the bishop of Carlisle. Exton…

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Scene 5
Enter Richard alone.

RICHARD 
 I have been studying how I may compare
 This prison where I live unto the world,
 And for because the world is populous
 And here is not a creature but myself,
5 I cannot do it. Yet I’ll hammer it out.
 My brain I’ll prove the female to my soul,
 My soul the father, and these two beget
 A generation of still-breeding thoughts,
 And these same thoughts people this little world,
10 In humors like the people of this world,
 For no thought is contented. The better sort,
 As thoughts of things divine, are intermixed
 With scruples, and do set the word itself
 Against the word, as thus: “Come, little ones,”
15 And then again,
 “It is as hard to come as for a camel
 To thread the postern of a small needle’s eye.”
 Thoughts tending to ambition, they do plot
 Unlikely wonders: how these vain weak nails
20 May tear a passage through the flinty ribs
 Of this hard world, my ragged prison walls,
 And, for they cannot, die in their own pride.
 Thoughts tending to content flatter themselves
 That they are not the first of fortune’s slaves,
25 Nor shall not be the last—like silly beggars
 Who, sitting in the stocks, refuge their shame
 That many have and others must sit there,
 And in this thought they find a kind of ease,
 Bearing their own misfortunes on the back
30 Of such as have before endured the like.
 Thus play I in one person many people,
 And none contented. Sometimes am I king.

211
Richard II
ACT 5. SC. 5

 Then treasons make me wish myself a beggar,
 And so I am; then crushing penury
35 Persuades me I was better when a king.
 Then am I kinged again, and by and by
 Think that I am unkinged by Bolingbroke,
 And straight am nothing. But whate’er I be,
 Nor I nor any man that but man is
40 With nothing shall be pleased till he be eased
 With being nothing. (The music plays.) Music do I
 hear?
 Ha, ha, keep time! How sour sweet music is
 When time is broke and no proportion kept.
45 So is it in the music of men’s lives.
 And here have I the daintiness of ear
 To check time broke in a disordered string;
 But for the concord of my state and time
 Had not an ear to hear my true time broke.
50 I wasted time, and now doth time waste me;
 For now hath time made me his numb’ring clock.
 My thoughts are minutes, and with sighs they jar
 Their watches on unto mine eyes, the outward watch,
 Whereto my finger, like a dial’s point,
55 Is pointing still in cleansing them from tears.
 Now, sir, the sound that tells what hour it is
 Are clamorous groans which strike upon my heart,
 Which is the bell. So sighs and tears and groans
 Show minutes, times, and hours. But my time
60 Runs posting on in Bolingbroke’s proud joy,
 While I stand fooling here, his jack of the clock.
 This music mads me. Let it sound no more,
 For though it have holp madmen to their wits,
 In me it seems it will make wise men mad.
65 Yet blessing on his heart that gives it me,
 For ’tis a sign of love, and love to Richard
 Is a strange brooch in this all-hating world.

Enter a Groom of the stable.


213
Richard II
ACT 5. SC. 5

GROOM Hail, royal prince!
RICHARD Thanks, noble peer.
70 The cheapest of us is ten groats too dear.
 What art thou, and how comest thou hither,
 Where no man never comes but that sad dog
 That brings me food to make misfortune live?
GROOM 
 I was a poor groom of thy stable, king,
75 When thou wert king; who, traveling towards York,
 With much ado at length have gotten leave
 To look upon my sometime royal master’s face.
 O, how it earned my heart when I beheld
 In London streets, that coronation day,
80 When Bolingbroke rode on roan Barbary,
 That horse that thou so often hast bestrid,
 That horse that I so carefully have dressed.
RICHARD 
 Rode he on Barbary? Tell me, gentle friend,
 How went he under him?
GROOM 
85 So proudly as if he disdained the ground.
RICHARD 
 So proud that Bolingbroke was on his back!
 That jade hath eat bread from my royal hand;
 This hand hath made him proud with clapping him.
 Would he not stumble? Would he not fall down
90 (Since pride must have a fall) and break the neck
 Of that proud man that did usurp his back?
 Forgiveness, horse! Why do I rail on thee,
 Since thou, created to be awed by man,
 Wast born to bear? I was not made a horse,
95 And yet I bear a burden like an ass,
 Spurred, galled, and tired by jauncing Bolingbroke.

Enter one, the Keeper, to Richard with meat.


215
Richard II
ACT 5. SC. 5

KEEPER, to Groom 
 Fellow, give place. Here is no longer stay.
RICHARD, to Groom 
 If thou love me, ’tis time thou wert away.
GROOM 
 What my tongue dares not, that my heart shall say.
Groom exits.
KEEPER 100My lord, will ’t please you to fall to?
RICHARD 
 Taste of it first as thou art wont to do.
KEEPER 
 My lord, I dare not. Sir Pierce of Exton,
 Who lately came from the King, commands the
 contrary.
RICHARD, attacking the Keeper 
105 The devil take Henry of Lancaster and thee!
 Patience is stale, and I am weary of it.
KEEPER Help, help, help!

The Murderers Exton and his men rush in.

RICHARD 
 How now, what means death in this rude assault?
 Villain, thy own hand yields thy death’s instrument.
Richard seizes a weapon from a Murderer
and kills him with it.

110 Go thou and fill another room in hell.
He kills another Murderer.
Here Exton strikes him down.
 That hand shall burn in never-quenching fire
 That staggers thus my person. Exton, thy fierce hand
 Hath with the King’s blood stained the King’s own
 land.
115 Mount, mount, my soul. Thy seat is up on high,
 Whilst my gross flesh sinks downward, here to die.
He dies.

217
Richard II
ACT 5. SC. 6

EXTON 
 As full of valor as of royal blood.
 Both have I spilled. O, would the deed were good!
 For now the devil that told me I did well
120 Says that this deed is chronicled in hell.
 This dead king to the living king I’ll bear.
 Take hence the rest and give them burial here.
They exit with the bodies.