"Spotless Reputation"

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Last Updated on May 16, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 141

Context: King Richard II has summoned before him Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford, and Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, both of whom accuse each other of treachery to the king. Richard listens to the charges of each against the other, and then, because both are empassioned, Richard suggests, "Wrath-kindled gentlemen be ruled by me,/ Let's purge this choler without letting blood." But each of the antagonists is determined to defend his honor against the charges of the other. Mowbray speaks to the king about his reputation:

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My dear dear lord,
The purest treasure mortal times afford
Is spotless reputation; that away,
Men are but gilded loam, or painted clay.
A jewel in a ten times barred-up chest
Is a bold spirit in a loyal breast.
Mine honour is my life, both grow in one,
Take honour from me, and my life is done.

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