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SCENE I. London. A Room in Ely-house. GAUNT on a couch ; the DUKE of York,' and others standing by him.
Gaunt. Will the king come 2 that I may breathe my last - - In wholesome counsel to his unstayed youth. York. Wex not yourself, nor strive not with your breath ; - For all in vain comes counsel to his ear. Gaunt. O, but they say, the tongues of dying men Enforce attention, like deep harmony: Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain, For they breathe truth, that breathe their words in pain. He, that no more must say, is listened more Than they whom youth and ease have taught to gloze; More are men's ends marked, than their lives before: The setting sun and music at the close,” As the last taste of sweets, is sweetest last ; Writ in remembrance, more than things long past. Though Richard my life’s counsel would not hear, My death's sad tale may yet undeaf his ear. York. No ; it is stopped with other flattering sounds, As, praises of his state: then, there are found Lascivious metres; to whose venom sound The open ear of youth doth always listen; Report of fashions in proud Italy, Whose manners still our tardy, apish nation
1 Edmond, duke of York, was the fifth son of Edward III., and was born, in 1441, at Langley, near St. Albans, Herts; whence he had his surname. “He was of an indolent disposition, a lover of pleasure, and averse to business; easily prevailed upon to lie still and consult his own quiet, and never acting with spirit upon any occasion.”—Lowth's William of Wykeham, p. 205. .
* Mason suggests the following punctuation of this passage. He con
siders the word last as a verb.
The setting sun, and music at the close,
Limps after, in base imitation.
1 Where the will rebels against the notices of the understanding.
“Feared by their breed, and famous for their birth.”
Like to a tenement, or pelting” farm : X
Enter KING RICHARD and Queen;” AUMERLE, BUSHY, GREEN, BAGoT, Ross,” and WILLOUGHBY.”
York. The king is come: deal mildly with his youth; For young, hot colts, being raged,” do rage the more. Queen. How fares our noble uncle, Lancaster? K. Rich. What comfort, man P. How is't with aged Gaunt? . - - # . Gaunt. O, how that name befits my composition Old Gaunt, indeed; and gaunt in being old. Within me grief hath kept a tedious fast; And who abstains from meat, that is not gaunt? For sleeping England long time have I watched; Watching breeds leanness; leanness is all gaunt. The pleasure, that some fathers feed upon, Is my strict fast, I mean—my children's looks; And, therein fasting, hast thou made me gaunt: Gaunt am I for the grave, gaunt as a grave, Whose hollow womb inhabits nought but bones.
1 “In this 22d yeare of King Richard, the common fame ranne that the king had letten io farme the realme unto Sir William Scrope, earle of Wiltshire, and then treasurer of England, to Syr John Bushey, Sir John Bagot, and Sir Henry Greene, Knightes.”—Fabian. Pelting is paltry, pitiful, petty. - -
2 Shakspeare has deviated from historical truth in the introduction of Richard's queen as a woman; for Anne, his first wife, was dead before the period at which the commencement of the play is laid; and Isabella, his second wife, was a child at the time of his death. ~ s • .
3 i. e. William lord Ross, of Hamlake, afterwards lord treasurer to Henry IV. . -
4 William lord Willoughby, of Eresby.
5 Ritson proposes to read:—
6% being reined, do rage the more.”
K. Rich. Can sick men play so nicely with their names P • * , . Gaunt. No; misery makes sport to mock itself: Since thou dost seek to kill my name in me, I mock my name, great king, to flatter thee. R. Rich. Should dying men flatter with those that live P Gaunt. No, no ; men living, flatter those that die. K. Rich. Thou, now a dying, say'st—thou flatter'st II].62. Gaunt. O, no; thou diest, though I the sicker be. K. Rich. I am in health, 1 breathe, and see thee ill. Gaunt. Now, He that made me, knows I see thee ill; Ill in myself to see, and in thee, seeing ill. Thy deathbed is no lesser than thy land, Wherein thou liest in reputation sick; And thou, too careless patient as thou art, Committ'st thy anointed"body to the cure Of those physicians that first wounded thee: A thousand flatterers sit within thy crown, Whose compass is no bigger than thy head; And yet, incaged in so small a verge, The waste is no whitlesser than thy land; O, had thy grandsire, with a prophet's eye, Seen how his son's son should destroy his sons, From forth thy reach he would have laid thy shame, Deposing thee before thou wert possessed, Which art possessed" now to depose thyself. Why, cousin, wert thou regent of the world, It were a shame to let this land by lease; But, for thy world, enjoying but this land, Is it not more than shame, to shame it so? Landlord of England art thou now, not king; Thy state of law is bondslave to the law;” And thou R. Rich.
a lunatic, lean-witted fool,
1 Mad. - .
* “Thy legal state, that rank in the state and these large desmesnes, which the constitution allotted thee, are now bondslave to the law; being subject to the same legal restrictions as every ordinary, pelting farm that has been let on lease.”
Presuming on an ague's privilege,
- North. My liege, old Gaunt commends him to your majesty.
K. Rich. What says he P
1 i.e. let them love to live, &c. WOL. III. 49