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Enter King Richard and John of Gaunt, with other
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nobles, including the Lord Marshal, and attendants
KING RICHARD
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Old John of Gaunt, timehonoured Lancaster,
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Hast thou according to thy oath and band
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Brought hither Henry Hereford, thy bold son,
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Here to make good the boisterous late appeal –
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Which then our leisure would not let us hear –
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Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray?
JOHN OF GAUNT
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I have, my liege.
KING RICHARD
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Tell me, moreover, hast thou sounded him
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If he appeal the Duke on ancient malice,
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Or worthily, as a good subject should,
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On some known ground of treachery in him?
JOHN OF GAUNT
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As near as I could sift him on that argument,
sift (v.) 2 discover by examining, find out by questioning
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On some apparent danger seen in him
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Aimed at your highness; no inveterate malice.
KING RICHARD
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Then call them to our presence.
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Exit Attendant
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Face to face,
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And frowning brow to brow, ourselves will hear
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The accuser and the accused freely speak.
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Highstomached are they both, and full of ire;
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In rage, deaf as the sea, hasty as fire.
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Enter Bolingbroke and Mowbray
BOLINGBROKE
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Many years of happy days befall
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My gracious sovereign, my most loving liege!
MOWBRAY
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Each day still better other's happiness
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Until the heavens, envying earth's good hap,
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Add an immortal title to your crown!
KING RICHARD
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We thank you both. Yet one but flatters us,
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As well appeareth by the cause you come,
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Namely, to appeal each other of high treason.
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Cousin of Hereford, what dost thou object
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Against the Duke of Norfolk, Thomas Mowbray?
BOLINGBROKE
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First, heaven be the record to my speech!
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In the devotion of a subject's love,
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Tendering the precious safety of my prince,
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And free from other, misbegotten hate
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Come I appellant to this princely presence.
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Now, Thomas Mowbray, do I turn to thee;
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And mark my greeting well, for what I speak
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My body shall make good upon this earth
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Or my divine soul answer it in heaven.
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Thou art a traitor and a miscreant,
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Too good to be so, and too bad to live,
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Since the more fair and crystal is the sky,
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The uglier seem the clouds that in it fly.
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Once more, the more to aggravate the note,
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With a foul traitor's name stuff I thy throat,
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And wish – so please my sovereign – ere I move
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What my tongue speaks my rightdrawn sword may prove.
MOWBRAY
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Let not my cold words here accuse my zeal.
zeal (n.) ardour, fervour; or: loyalty, devotion
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'Tis not the trial of a woman's war,
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The bitter clamour of two eager tongues,
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Can arbitrate this cause betwixt us twain.
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The blood is hot that must be cooled for this.
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Yet can I not of such tame patience boast
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As to be hushed, and naught at all to say.
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First, the fair reverence of your highness curbs me
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From giving reins and spurs to my free speech,
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Which else would post until it had returned
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These terms of treason doubled down his throat.
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Setting aside his high blood's royalty,
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And let him be no kinsman to my liege,
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I do defy him, and I spit at him,
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Call him a slanderous coward, and a villain;
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Which to maintain I would allow him odds,
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And meet him, were I tied to run afoot
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Even to the frozen ridges of the Alps,
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Or any other ground inhabitable
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Where ever Englishman durst set his foot.
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Meantime, let this defend my loyalty:
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By all my hopes, most falsely doth he lie.
BOLINGBROKE
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(throws down his gage)
gage (n.) pledge, challenge [usually, a glove or gauntlet thrown down]
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Pale, trembling coward, there I throw my gage,
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Disclaiming here the kindred of the King,
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And lay aside my high blood's royalty,
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Which fear, not reverence, makes thee to except.
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If guilty dread have left thee so much strength
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As to take up mine honour's pawn, then stoop.
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By that, and all the rites of knighthood else,
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Will I make good against thee, arm to arm,
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What I have spoke or thou canst worse devise.
MOWBRAY
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(takes up the gage)
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I take it up; and by that sword I swear
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Which gently laid my knighthood on my shoulder,
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I'll answer thee in any fair degree
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Or chivalrous design of knightly trial;
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And when I mount, alive may I not light
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If I be traitor or unjustly fight!
KING RICHARD
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What doth our cousin lay to Mowbray's charge?
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It must be great that can inherit us
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So much as of a thought of ill in him.
BOLINGBROKE
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Look what I speak, my life shall prove it true:
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That Mowbray hath received eight thousand nobles
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In name of lendings for your highness' soldiers,
lending (n.) 2 (plural) advance of money to soldiers [in lieu of regular pay]
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The which he hath detained for lewd employments,
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Like a false traitor and injurious villain.
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Besides I say, and will in battle prove
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Or here or elsewhere to the furthest verge
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That ever was surveyed by English eye,
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That all the treasons for these eighteen years
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Complotted and contrived in this land
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Fetch from false Mowbray, their first head and spring.
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Further I say, and further will maintain
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Upon his bad life to make all this good,
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That he did plot the Duke of Gloucester's death,
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Suggest his soonbelieving adversaries,
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And consequently, like a traitor coward,
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Sluiced out his innocent soul through streams of blood;
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Which blood, like sacrificing Abel's, cries
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Even from the tongueless caverns of the earth
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To me for justice and rough chastisement.
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And, by the glorious worth of my descent,
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This arm shall do it, or this life be spent.
KING RICHARD
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How high a pitch his resolution soars!
pitch (n.) 1 height [to which a bird of prey soars before swooping]
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Thomas of Norfolk, what sayst thou to this?
MOWBRAY
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O, let my sovereign turn away his face
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And bid his ears a little while be deaf
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Till I have told this slander of his blood
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How God and good men hate so foul a liar!
KING RICHARD
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Mowbray, impartial are our eyes and ears.
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Were he my brother – nay, my kingdom's heir –
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As he is but my father's brother's son,
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Now by my sceptre's awe I make a vow
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Such neighbour nearness to our sacred blood
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Should nothing privilege him, nor partialize
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The unstooping firmness of my upright soul.
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He is our subject, Mowbray. So art thou.
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Free speech and fearless I to thee allow.
MOWBRAY
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Then, Bolingbroke, as low as to thy heart
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Through the false passage of thy throat thou liest!
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Three parts of that receipt I had for Calais
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Disbursed I duly to his highness' soldiers.
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The other part reserved I by consent
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For that my sovereign liege was in my debt
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Upon remainder of a dear account
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Since last I went to France to fetch his queen.
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Now swallow down that lie! For Gloucester's death,
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I slew him not, but to my own disgrace
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Neglected my sworn duty in that case.
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(To John of Gaunt)
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For you, my noble lord of Lancaster,
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The honourable father to my foe,
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Once did I lay an ambush for your life,
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A trespass that doth vex my grieved soul.
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But ere I last received the sacrament
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I did confess it, and exactly begged
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Your grace's pardon; and I hope I had it.
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This is my fault. As for the rest appealed,
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It issues from the rancour of a villain,
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A recreant and most degenerate traitor,
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Which in myself I boldly will defend,
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And interchangeably hurl down my gage
gage (n.) pledge, challenge [usually, a glove or gauntlet thrown down]
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Upon this overweening traitor's foot,
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To prove myself a loyal gentleman
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Even in the best blood chambered in his bosom.
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(He throws down his gage)
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In haste whereof, most heartily I pray
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Your highness to assign our trial day.
KING RICHARD
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Wrathkindled gentlemen, be ruled by me:
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Let's purge this choler without letting blood.
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This we prescribe, though no physician;
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Deep malice makes too deep incision.
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Forget, forgive, conclude, and be agreed;
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Our doctors say this is no month to bleed.
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(To John of Gaunt)
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Good uncle, let this end where it begun.
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We'll calm the Duke of Norfolk, you your son.
JOHN OF GAUNT
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To be a makepeace shall become my age.
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Throw down, my son, the Duke of Norfolk's gage.
gage (n.) pledge, challenge [usually, a glove or gauntlet thrown down]
KING RICHARD
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And, Norfolk, throw down his.
JOHN OF GAUNT
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When, Harry, when?
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Obedience bids I should not bid again.
KING RICHARD
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Norfolk, throw down! We bid: there is no boot.
MOWBRAY
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(kneels)
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Myself I throw, dread sovereign, at thy foot.
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My life thou shalt command, but not my shame.
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The one my duty owes, but my fair name,
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Despite of death that lives upon my grave,
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To dark dishonour's use thou shalt not have.
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I am disgraced, impeached, and baffled here,
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Pierced to the soul with slander's venomed spear,
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The which no balm can cure but his heartblood
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Which breathed this poison.
KING RICHARD
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Rage must be withstood.
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Give me his gage. Lions make leopards tame.
gage (n.) pledge, challenge [usually, a glove or gauntlet thrown down]
MOWBRAY
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Yea, but not change his spots. Take but my shame
gage (n.) pledge, challenge [usually, a glove or gauntlet thrown down]
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And I resign my gage. My dear dear lord,
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The purest treasure mortal times afford
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Is spotless reputation. That away,
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Men are but gilded loam, or painted clay.
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A jewel in a tentimes barredup chest
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Is a bold spirit in a loyal breast.
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Mine honour is my life. Both grow in one.
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Take honour from me, and my life is done.
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Then, dear my liege, mine honour let me try.
try (v.) 2 put to the test, test the goodness [of]
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In that I live and for that will I die.
KING RICHARD
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(to Bolingbroke)
gage (n.) pledge, challenge [usually, a glove or gauntlet thrown down]
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Cousin, throw up your gage. Do you begin.
BOLINGBROKE
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O God defend my soul from such deep sin!
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Shall I seem crestfallen in my father's sight?
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Or with pale beggarfear impeach my height
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Before this outdared dastard? Ere my tongue
outdared (adj.) overcome by daring, cowed, outbraved; or: excessively daring, brazen, unabashed
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Shall wound my honour with such feeble wrong,
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Or sound so base a parle, my teeth shall tear
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The slavish motive of recanting fear
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And spit it bleeding in his high disgrace
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Where shame doth harbour, even in Mowbray's face.
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Exit John of Gaunt
KING RICHARD
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We were not born to sue, but to command;
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Which since we cannot do to make you friends,
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Be ready as your lives shall answer it
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At Coventry upon Saint Lambert's day.
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There shall your swords and lances arbitrate
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The swelling difference of your settled hate.
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Since we cannot atone you, we shall see
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Justice design the victor's chivalry.
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Lord Marshal, command our officersatarms
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Be ready to direct these home alarms.
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Exeunt
