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The Duke of Lancaster’s palace.
The Duke of Lancaster’s palace.
Enter JOHN OF GAUNT with DUCHESS
JOHN OF GAUNT and the DUCHESS OF GLOUCESTER enter.





5


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
Which 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.
JOHN OF GAUNT
Even more than your uproar, it’s the fact that the Duke of Gloucester was my brother that makes me want to act against his murderers. But since it was Richard who was responsible for the murder in the first place and also controls how it will be avenged, I’ll have to trust in the will of heaven to bring justice to my brother’s killers.


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DUCHESS
Finds brotherhood in thee no sharper spur?
Hath 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,
Some 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,
Is 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,
Yet 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:
In 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.
What shall I say? to safeguard thine own life,
The best way is to venge my Gloucester’s death.
DUCHESS OF GLOUCESTER
Don’t you feel compelled to do more since he was your brother? Is there no passion in your love for him? Your father

Edward

Edward III, who was king of England from 1327 to 1377.

Edward
treasured you and your six brothers. Some of you died natural deaths, and some of your lives were cut short. But Thomas, who was my love and one of Edward’s precious sons, is dead, killed by people who hated him. Oh, Gaunt, he was your own blood! The same mother and father who made you made him, and though you live and breathe, a part of you died with him. And because your father was the model for him, by watching him die you have in a sense consented to see your father die. You aren’t being patient. You’re giving up. In allowing your brother to be murdered, you have shown how you yourself might be killed. What we might call patience in common men is simply cowardice in noble men. What else can I say? The best way to protect your own life is to get revenge for Gloucester’s death.