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Richard II

Richard II Translation Act 1, Scene 2

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Enter JOHN OF GAUNT with DUCHESS

JOHN OF GAUNT

Alas, the part I had in Woodstock's blood Doth more solicit me than your exclaims, To stir against the butchers of his life! But since correction lieth in those hands Which made the fault that we cannot correct, Put we our quarrel to the will of heaven; Who, when they see the hours ripe on earth, Will rain hot vengeance on offenders' heads.

JOHN OF GAUNT

Oh, the part of me that shared Woodstock's blood makes me long for revenge on his butchers even more than your cries of pain! But since the power to take vengeance lies in the hands of the person who's responsible (and we have no hope of getting revenge on him), we have to take it up with heaven, which, when the time comes, will make everything right again.  

DUCHESS

Finds brotherhood in thee no sharper spur? Hath love in thy old blood no living fire? Edward's seven sons, whereof thyself art one, Were as seven vials of his sacred blood, Or seven fair branches springing from one root: Some of those seven are dried by nature's course, Some of those branches by the Destinies cut; But Thomas, my dear lord, my life, my Gloucester, One vial full of Edward's sacred blood, One flourishing branch of his most royal root, Is crack'd, and all the precious liquor spilt, Is hack'd down, and his summer leaves all faded, By envy's hand and murder's bloody axe. Ah, Gaunt, his blood was thine! that bed, that womb, That metal, that self-mould, that fashion'd thee Made him a man ; and though thou livest and breathest, Yet art thou slain in him: thou dost consent In some large measure to thy father's death, In that thou seest thy wretched brother die, Who was the model of thy father's life. Call it not patience, Gaunt; it is despair: In suffering thus thy brother to be slaughter'd, Thou showest the naked pathway to thy life, Teaching stern murder how to butcher thee: That which in mean men we intitle patience Is pale cold cowardice in noble breasts. What shall I say? to safeguard thine own life, The best way is to venge my Gloucester's death.

DUCHESS

Don't you have anything more to say? He was your brother—is there any fire left in your old blood? You're one of Edward's seven sons: those sons were like seven vials of his blood or seven branches springing from one root. Some of these seven died naturally, some by fate; but Thomas, my dear lord, my life, my Gloucester, one vial full of Edward's sacred blood, one fine branch of the royal root, is broken and all the precious liquid spilled, hacked down and his summer leaves all faded by the hand of envy and the bloody ax of murder. Ah, Gaunt, his blood was yours! You were born from the same blood, the same womb; the same metal that molded you made him a man too! And although you live and breathe, you are dead in him. You have allowed your father's death, by seeing your poor brother die, who so strongly resembled his father. Don't fool yourself by saying this is patience, Gaunt: it's despair. In allowing your brother to be slaughtered, you've shown them how to kill you: what in poor men we call patience is just cold cowardice in noblemen. What more can I say? The best way to save yourself is to avenge my Gloucester's death. 

JOHN OF GAUNT

God's is the quarrel; for God's substitute, His deputy anointed in His sight, Hath caused his death: the which if wrongfully, Let heaven revenge; for I may never lift An angry arm against His minister.

JOHN OF GAUNT

This is God's fight; for God's substitute, His deputy anointed in His sight, has caused his death. If it was wrong, let heaven take revenge; for I will never lift an angry arm against His minister, the king. 

DUCHESS

Where then, alas, may I complain myself?

DUCHESS

Where then can I go for help, if not to you? 

JOHN OF GAUNT

To God, the widow's champion and defence.

JOHN OF GAUNT

To God, the champion and defender of widows. 

DUCHESS

Why, then, I will. Farewell, old Gaunt. Thou goest to Coventry, there to behold Our cousin Hereford and fell Mowbray fight: O, sit my husband's wrongs on Hereford's spear, That it may enter butcher Mowbray's breast! Or, if misfortune miss the first career, Be Mowbray's sins so heavy in his bosom, They may break his foaming courser's back, And throw the rider headlong in the lists, A caitiff recreant to my cousin Hereford! Farewell, old Gaunt: thy sometimes brother's wife With her companion grief must end her life.

DUCHESS

Why, then, I will. Goodbye, old Gaunt. You go to Coventry to see our cousin Hereford and that evil Mowbray fight: oh, may Hereford's spear avenge my husband by stabbing Mowbray! Or, if he's unlucky enough to miss, I hope Mowbray's sins sit so heavy in his heart that his horse's back breaks and throws its rider to the ground, so that he becomes my cousin Hereford's wretched prisoner. Goodbye, old Gaunt: your dead brother's wife must end her life with grief, her only companion. 

JOHN OF GAUNT

Sister, farewell; I must to Coventry:As much good stay with thee as go with me!

JOHN OF GAUNT

Goodbye, sister; I must go to Coventry: I wish us both good fortune!

DUCHESS

Yet one word more: grief boundeth where it falls, Not with the empty hollowness, but weight: I take my leave before I have begun, For sorrow ends not when it seemeth done. Commend me to thy brother, Edmund York. Lo, this is all:—nay, yet depart not so; Though this be all, do not so quickly go; I shall remember more. Bid him—ah, what?— With all good speed at Plashy visit me. Alack, and what shall good old York there see But empty lodgings and unfurnish'd walls, Unpeopled offices, untrodden stones? And what hear there for welcome but my groans? Therefore commend me; let him not come there, To seek out sorrow that dwells every where. Desolate, desolate, will I hence and die: The last leave of thee takes my weeping eye.

DUCHESS

But I have one more thing to say: grief falls heavy from my mouth. I leave you before I've even begun, for sorrow never ends, even when it seems done. Give my good wishes to your brother, Edmund York. This is all. But no, don't go; though that's all, don't leave so quickly; I will remember what I had to say. Tell him—ah, what?—to visit me at Plashy as soon as he can. Oh god, what will good old York see there but empty rooms and bare walls, offices with no one to use them, stones with no one to walk on them? And what can I say to welcome him, but groans of grief? Therefore give him my good regards; tell him not to come there, to look for sorrow when grief is everywhere. I will go there, desolate, desolate, and die: I cry as I leave you for the last time. 

Exeunt

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Eve houghton
About the Translator: Eve Houghton

Eve Houghton graduated from Yale College in 2017 and is currently pursuing the MPhil in Renaissance Literature at the University of Cambridge. In 2018, she will return to Yale to begin her PhD in English. Her research interests include early modern commonplace books and note-taking practices, paratexts, reception studies, and the history of reading.