This page contains the original text of Richard II, Act 2, Scene 2. Shakespeare’s original Richard II text is long, so we’ve split the text into one Scene per page. All Acts and Scenes are listed on the original Richard II text page, or linked to from the bottom of this page.

RICHARD II. ACT 2, SCENE 2. The Palace


Madam, your majesty is too much sad:
You promised, when you parted with the king,
To lay aside life-harming heaviness
And entertain a cheerful disposition.

To please the king I did; to please myself
I cannot do it; yet I know no cause
Why I should welcome such a guest as grief,
Save bidding farewell to so sweet a guest
As my sweet Richard: yet again, methinks,
Some unborn sorrow, ripe in fortune’s womb,
Is coming towards me, and my inward soul
With nothing trembles: at some thing it grieves,
More than with parting from my lord the king.

Each substance of a grief hath twenty shadows,
Which shows like grief itself, but is not so;
For sorrow’s eye, glazed with blinding tears,
Divides one thing entire to many objects;
Like perspectives, which rightly gazed upon
Show nothing but confusion, eyed awry
Distinguish form: so your sweet majesty,
Looking awry upon your lord’s departure,
Find shapes of grief, more than himself, to wail;
Which, look’d on as it is, is nought but shadows
Of what it is not. Then, thrice-gracious queen,
More than your lord’s departure weep not: more’s not seen;
Or if it be, ’tis with false sorrow’s eye,
Which for things true weeps things imaginary.

It may be so; but yet my inward soul
Persuades me it is otherwise: howe’er it be,
I cannot but be sad; so heavy sad
As, though on thinking on no thought I think,
Makes me with heavy nothing faint and shrink.

‘Tis nothing but conceit, my gracious lady.

‘Tis nothing less: conceit is still derived
From some forefather grief; mine is not so,
For nothing had begot my something grief;
Or something hath the nothing that I grieve:
‘Tis in reversion that I do possess;
But what it is, that is not yet known; what
I cannot name; ’tis nameless woe, I wot.


God save your majesty! and well met, gentlemen:
I hope the king is not yet shipp’d for Ireland.

Why hopest thou so? ’tis better hope he is;
For his designs crave haste, his haste good hope:
Then wherefore dost thou hope he is not shipp’d?

That he, our hope, might have retired his power,
And driven into despair an enemy’s hope,
Who strongly hath set footing in this land:
The banish’d Bolingbroke repeals himself,
And with uplifted arms is safe arrived
At Ravenspurgh.

Now God in heaven forbid!

Ah, madam, ’tis too true: and that is worse,
The Lord Northumberland, his son young Henry Percy,
The Lords of Ross, Beaumond, and Willoughby,
With all their powerful friends, are fled to him.

Why have you not proclaim’d Northumberland
And all the rest revolted faction traitors?

We have: whereupon the Earl of Worcester
Hath broke his staff, resign’d his stewardship,
And all the household servants fled with him
To Bolingbroke.

So, Green, thou art the midwife to my woe,
And Bolingbroke my sorrow’s dismal heir:
Now hath my soul brought forth her prodigy,
And I, a gasping new-deliver’d mother,
Have woe to woe, sorrow to sorrow join’d.

Despair not, madam.

Who shall hinder me?
I will despair, and be at enmity
With cozening hope: he is a flatterer,
A parasite, a keeper back of death,
Who gently would dissolve the bands of life,
Which false hope lingers in extremity.


Here comes the Duke of York.

With signs of war about his aged neck:
O, full of careful business are his looks!
Uncle, for God’s sake, speak comfortable words.

Should I do so, I should belie my thoughts:
Comfort’s in heaven; and we are on the earth,
Where nothing lives but crosses, cares and grief.
Your husband, he is gone to save far off,
Whilst others come to make him lose at home:
Here am I left to underprop his land,
Who, weak with age, cannot support myself:
Now comes the sick hour that his surfeit made;
Now shall he try his friends that flatter’d him.

Enter a Servant

My lord, your son was gone before I came.
He was? Why, so! go all which way it will!
The nobles they are fled, the commons they are cold,
And will, I fear, revolt on Hereford’s side.
Sirrah, get thee to Plashy, to my sister Gloucester;
Bid her send me presently a thousand pound:
Hold, take my ring.

My lord, I had forgot to tell your lordship,
To-day, as I came by, I called there;
But I shall grieve you to report the rest.

What is’t, knave?
An hour before I came, the duchess died.

God for his mercy! what a tide of woes
Comes rushing on this woeful land at once!
I know not what to do: I would to God,
So my untruth had not provoked him to it,
The king had cut off my head with my brother’s.
What, are there no posts dispatch’d for Ireland?
How shall we do for money for these wars?
Come, sister,–cousin, I would say–pray, pardon me.
Go, fellow, get thee home, provide some carts
And bring away the armour that is there.

Exit Servant

Gentlemen, will you go muster men?
If I know how or which way to order these affairs
Thus thrust disorderly into my hands,
Never believe me. Both are my kinsmen:
The one is my sovereign, whom both my oath
And duty bids defend; the other again
Is my kinsman, whom the king hath wrong’d,
Whom conscience and my kindred bids to right.
Well, somewhat we must do. Come, cousin, I’ll
Dispose of you.
Gentlemen, go, muster up your men,
And meet me presently at Berkeley.
I should to Plashy too;
But time will not permit: all is uneven,
And every thing is left at six and seven.

The wind sits fair for news to go to Ireland,
But none returns. For us to levy power
Proportionable to the enemy
Is all unpossible.
Besides, our nearness to the king in love
Is near the hate of those love not the king.

And that’s the wavering commons: for their love
Lies in their purses, and whoso empties them
By so much fills their hearts with deadly hate.

Wherein the king stands generally condemn’d.

If judgement lie in them, then so do we,
Because we ever have been near the king.

Well, I will for refuge straight to Bristol castle:
The Earl of Wiltshire is already there.

Thither will I with you; for little office
The hateful commons will perform for us,
Except like curs to tear us all to pieces.
Will you go along with us?

No; I will to Ireland to his majesty.
Farewell: if heart’s presages be not vain,
We three here art that ne’er shall meet again.

That’s as York thrives to beat back Bolingbroke.

Alas, poor duke! the task he undertakes
Is numbering sands and drinking oceans dry:
Where one on his side fights, thousands will fly.
Farewell at once, for once, for all, and ever.

Well, we may meet again.

I fear me, never.



Read more scenes from Richard II:

Richard II Act 1, Scene 1
Richard II Act 1, Scene 2
Richard II Act 1, Scene 3
Richard II Act 1, Scene 4

Richard II Act 2, Scene 1
Richard II Act 2, Scene 2
Richard II Act 2, Scene 3
Richard II Act 2, Scene 4

Richard II Act 3, Scene 1
Richard II Act 3, Scene 2
Richard II Act 3, Scene 3
Richard II Act 3, Scene 4

Richard II Act 4, Scene 1

Richard II Act 5, Scene 1
Richard II Act 5, Scene 2
Richard II Act 5, Scene 3
Richard II Act 5, Scene 4
Richard II Act 5, Scene 5
Richard II Act 5, Scene 6

See more Richard II resources >>

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