whole of the passage, for it shows how easily Shakespeare falls out of this King's character into his


“What must the King do now? Must he submit?

The King shall do it. Must he be depos'd?
The King shall be contented: must he lose
The name of king? O! God's name, let it go:
I'll give my jewels for a set of beads;
My gorgeous palace for a hermitage;
My gay apparel for an alms-man's gown;
My figur'd goblets for a dish of wood;
My sceptre for a palmer's walking staff;
My subjects for a pair of carved saints;
And my large kingdom for a little grave,
A little, little grave, an obscure grave:-
Or 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?-
Aumerle, thou weep'st; my tender-hearted cousin !
We'll make foul weather with despised tears;
Our sighs, and they, shall lodge the summer corn,
And make a dearth in this revolting land.
Or shall we play the wantons with our woes,
And make some pretty match with shedding tears?
As thus:--To drop them still upon one place,
Till they have fretted us a pair of graves
Within the earth; and, therein laid, -There lies
Two kinsmen digg'd their graves with weeping eyes.
Would not this ill do well?—Well, well, I see
I talk but idly, and you mock at me.-
Most mighty prince, my lord Northumberland,
What says King Bolingbroke? will his majesty
Give Richard leave to live till Richard die?
You make a leg, and Bolingbroke says ay."

Every one will admit that the poet himself speaks

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here, at least, from the words “ I'll give my jewels to the words “Would not this ill do well? » But the melancholy mood, the pathetic acceptance of the inevitable, the tender poetic embroidery now suit the King who is fashioned in the poet's likeness.

The next moment Richard revolts once more against his fate:

Base court, where kings grow base, To come at traitors' calls, and do them grace.'


And when Bolingbroke kneels to him he plays upon words, as Gaunt did a little earlier in the play, misery making sport to mock itself. He says:

“Up, cousin, up; your heart is up, I know,

Thus high at least, although your knee be low"

and then he abandons himself to do what force will have us do."

The Queen's wretchedness is next used to heighten our sympathy with Richard, and immediately afterwards we have that curious scene between the gardener and his servant which is merely youthful Shakespeare, for such a gardener and such a servant never yet existed. The scene shows the extravagance of Shakespeare's love of hierarchy, and shows also that

1 Coleridge gives this scene as an instance of Shakespeare's “wonderful judgement”; the introduction of the gardener,

“realizes the thing," and, indeed, the introduction of a gardener would have this tendency, but not the introduction of this pompous, priggish philosopher togged out in old Adam's likeness. Here is the way this gardener criticises the King:

“ All 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."

he says,

his power of realizing character is as yet but slight. The abdication follows, when Richard in exquisite speech after speech unpacks his heavy heart. To the

very last his irresolution comes to show as often as his melancholy. Bolingbroke is sharply practical:

“Are you contented to resign the crown?"

Richard answers :

“Ay, no; no, ay;--for I must nothing be;

Therefore, no, no, for I resign to thee."

When he is asked to confess his sins in public, he moves us all to pity:

Must I do so? and must I ravel out
My weaved up follies? Gentle Northumberland,
If thy offences were upon record,
Would it not shame thee, in so fair a troop,
To read a lecture of them?

His eyes are too full of tears to read his own faults, and sympathy brings tears to our eyes also. Richard calls for a glass wherein to see his sins, and we are reminded of Hamlet, who advises the players to hold the mirror up to nature. He jests with his grief, too, in quick-witted retort, as Hamlet jests:

Rich. Say that again. The shadow of my sorrow? Ha! let's see:'Tis very true, my grief lies all within; And these external manners of lament Are merely shadows to the unseen grief, That swells with silence in the tortur'd soul.”

Hamlet touches the self-same note:

'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,

Nor customary suits of solemn black,

But I have that within which passeth show;
These but the trappings and the suits of woe.

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In the fifth act the scene between the Queen and Richard is used simply to move our pity.

our pity. She says he is “most beauteous," but all too mild, and he answers her:

“I am sworn brother, sweet,
To grim necessity; and he and I
Will keep a league till death.”

He bids her take,

“As from my death-bed, my last living leave,"

and for her consolation he turns again to the telling of romantic melancholy stories:

“In winter's tedious nights, sit by the fire
With good old folks; and let them tell thee tales
Of woeful ages long ago betid:
And, ere thou bid good night, to quit their grief,
Tell thou the lamentable fall of me,
And send the hearers weeping to their beds,
For why; the senseless brands will sympathize
The heavy accent of thy moving tongue.'

I cannot copy this passage without drawing attention to the haunting music of the third line.

The scene in which York betrays his son to Bolingbroke and prays the king not to pardon but “cut off” the offending member, is merely proof, if proof were wanted, of Shakespeare's admiration of kingship and loyalty, which in youth, at least, often led him to silliest extravagance.

The dungeon scene and Richard's monologue in it are as characteristic of Shakespeare as the similar scene in “Cymbeline” and the soliloquy of Posthumus:

K. Rich. 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,
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,
In humours like the people of this world,
For no thought is contented.

Here we have the philosopher playing with his own thoughts; but soon the Hamlet-melancholy comes to tune the meditation to sadness, and Shakespeare speaks to us directly: “ Thus play I in one person many people, And none contented: sometimes am I king; Then treasons make me wish myself a beggar, And so I am: then crushing penury Persuades me I was better when a king; Then am I king'd again; and by and by Think, that I am unking'd by Bolingbroke, And straight am nothing; but whate'er I be, Nor I nor any man that but man is With nothing shall be pleased, till he be eased

With being nothing." Later one hears Kent's lament for Lear in Richard's words:

“ How these vain weak nails May tear a passage through the flinty ribs Of this hard world, my ragged prison walls."

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