The Duke of Lancaster’s palace.
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
5Which 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.
Finds brotherhood in thee no sharper spur?
10Hath 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,
15Some 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,
20Is 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,
25Yet 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:
30In 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.
35What shall I say? to safeguard thine own life,
The best way is to venge my Gloucester’s death.