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Enter EXTON and a Servant.
Exton. Didst thou not mark the king, what words he spake ?
Have I no friend will rid me of this living fear?
Was it not so?
Those were his very words.
Exton. Have I no friend? quoth he; he spake it
And urged it twice together; did he not?
Serv. He did.
Exton. And, speaking it, he wistfully looked on me; As who should say,-I would thou wert the man That would divorce this terror from my heart; Meaning, the king at Pomfret. Come, let's go; I am the king's friend, and will rid1 his foe.
SCENE V. Pomfret. The Dungeon of the Castle.
Enter KING RICHARD.
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 humors, like the people of this world,
1 To rid and to despatch were formerly synonymous, as may be seen in the old dictionaries.
2 i. e. his own body.
For no thought is contented.
The better sort
As thoughts of things divine-are intermixed
As thus, Come, little ones; and then again,—
To thread the postern of a needle's eye.
And here have I the daintiness of ear
1 By the word is meant the Holy Scriptures. The folio reads, the faith itself against the faith.
2 The folio, and other copies, read "in one prison."
To check time broke in a disordered string;
Is pointing still, in cleansing them from tears.
Groom. Hail, royal prince!
Thanks, noble peer;
The cheapest of us is ten groats too dear.
1 The folio reads "To hear."
3 It should be recollected that there are three ways in which a clock notices the progress of time, viz. by the vibration of the pendulum, the index on the dial, and the striking of the hour. To these the king, in his comparison, severally alludes; his sighs corresponding to the jarring or ticking of the pendulum, which, at the same time that it watches or numbers the seconds, marks also their progress in minutes on the dial-plate, or outward watch, to which the king compares his eyes; and their want of figures is supplied by a succession of tears (or minute drops, to use an expression of Milton); his finger, by as regularly wiping these away, performs the office of the dial's point; his clamorous groans are the sounds that tell the hour.
4 That is, I strike for him. One of these automatons is alluded to in King Richard III. Act iv. Sc. 2.
Where no man never comes, but that sad dog
K. Rich. Rode he on Barbary? Tell me, gentle friend,
How went he under him?
Groom. So proudly, as if he disdained the ground. K. Rich. So proud that Bolingbroke was on his
That jade hath eat bread from my royal hand;
Spur-galled, and tired by jauncing Bolingbroke.
Enter Keeper, with a dish.
Keep. Fellow, give place; here is no longer stay.
[To the Groom. K. Rich. If thou love me, 'tis time thou wert away. Groom. What my tongue dares not, that my heart shall say.
1 Sometimes was used for former, as well as sometime.
2 Jauncing is hard riding, from the old French word jancer, which Cotgrave explains, "to stir a horse in the stable till he sweat withal; or (as our) to jaunt."
Keep. My lord, will't please you to fall to?
K. Rich. Taste of it first, as thou art wont to do. Keep. My lord, I dare not; sir Pierce of Exton,
Lately came from the king, commands the contrary.
Patience is stale, and I am weary of it.
Keep. Help, help, help!
[Beats the Keeper.
Enter EXTON and Servants, armed.
K. Rich. How now? what means death in this rude
Villain, thy own hand yields thy death's instrument.
[Snatching a weapon, and killing one.
Go thou, and fill another room in hell.
[He kills another, and then EXTON strikes
That hand shall burn in never-quenching fire,
Exton. As full of valor, as of royal blood. Both have I spilled! O, 'would the deed were good!
1 These stage directions are not in the old copies.
2 The representation here given of the king's death is perfectly agreeable to Hall and Holinshed (who copied from Fabian, with whom the story of Exton is thought to have its origin). But the fact was otherwise. He refused food for several days, and died of abstinence and a broken heart. See Walsingham, Otterburne, the Monk of Evesham, the Continuator of the History of Croyland, and the Godstow Chronicle. His body, after being submitted to public inspection in the church of Pomfret, was brought to London, and exposed in Cheapside for two hours, "his heade on a black cushion, and his visage open," when it was viewed, says Froissart, by twenty thousand persons, and finally in St. Paul's cathedral. Stowe seems to have had before him a manuscript history of the latter part of king Richard's life, written by a person who was with him in Wales. He says "he was imprisoned in Pomfrait Castle, where xv dayes and nightes they vexed him with continual hunger, thirst, and cold, and finally bereft him of his life with such a kind of death as never before that time was knowen in England."