Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT I. - The Tragedy of King Richard the Third
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ACT I. - William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of King Richard the Third 
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (The Oxford Shakespeare), ed. with a glossary by W.J. Craig M.A. (Oxford University Press, 1916).
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London. A Street.
Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings;
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visag’d war hath smooth’d his wrinkled front;
And now,—instead of mounting barbed steeds,
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,—
He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shap’d for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamp’d, and want love’s majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtail’d of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deform’d, unfinish’d, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me, as I halt by them;
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to see my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain,
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels, and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the king
In deadly hate the one against the other:
And if King Edward be as true and just
As I am subtle, false, and treacherous,
This day should Clarence closely be mew’d up,
About a prophecy, which says, that G
Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be.
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here Clarence comes.
Brother, good day: what means this armed guard
That waits upon your Grace?
Tendering my person’s safety, hath appointed
This conduct to convey me to the Tower.
Upon what cause?
Because my name is George.
Alack! my lord, that fault is none of yours;
He should, for that, commit your godfathers.
O! belike his majesty hath some intent
That you should be new-christen’d in the Tower.
But what’s the matter, Clarence? may I know?
Yea, Richard, when I know; for I protest
As yet I do not: but, as I can learn,
He hearkens after prophecies and dreams;
And from the cross-row plucks the letter G,
And says a wizard told him that by G
His issue disinherited should be;
And, for my name of George begins with G,
It follows in his thought that I am he.
These, as I learn, and such like toys as these,
Have mov’d his highness to commit me now.
Why, this it is, when men are rul’d by women:
’Tis not the king that sends you to the Tower;
My Lady Grey, his wife, Clarence, ’tis she
That tempers him to this extremity.
Was it not she and that good man of worship,
Antony Woodville, her brother there,
That made him send Lord Hastings to the Tower,
From whence this present day he is deliver’d?
We are not safe, Clarence; we are not safe.
By heaven, I think there is no man secure
But the queen’s kindred and night-walking heralds
That trudge betwixt the king and Mistress Shore.
Heard you not what a humble suppliant
Lord Hastings was to her for his delivery?
Humbly complaining to her deity
Got my lord chamberlain his liberty.
I’ll tell you what; I think it is our way,
If we will keep in favour with the king,
To be her men and wear her livery:
The jealous o’er-worn widow and herself,
Since that our brother dubb’d them gentlewomen,
Are mighty gossips in our monarchy.
I beseech your Graces both to pardon me;
His majesty hath straitly given in charge
That no man shall have private conference,
Of what degree soever, with your brother.
Even so; an please your worship, Brakenbury,
You may partake of anything we say:
We speak no treason, man: we say the king
Is wise and virtuous, and his noble queen
Well struck in years, fair, and not jealous;
We say that Shore’s wife hath a pretty foot,
A cherry lip, a bonny eye, a passing pleasing tongue;
And that the queen’s kindred are made gentlefolks.
How say you, sir? can you deny all this?
With this, my lord, myself have nought to do.
Naught to do with Mistress Shore! I tell thee, fellow,
He that doth naught with her, excepting one,
Were best to do it secretly, alone.
What one, my lord?
Her husband, knave. Wouldst thou betray me?
I beseech your Grace to pardon me; and withal
Forbear your conference with the noble duke.
We know thy charge, Brakenbury, and will obey.
We are the queen’s abjects, and must obey.
Brother, farewell: I will unto the king;
And whatsoe’er you will employ me in,
Were it to call King Edward’s widow sister,
I will perform it to enfranchise you.
Meantime, this deep disgrace in brotherhood
Touches me deeper than you can imagine.
I know it pleaseth neither of us well.
Well, your imprisonment shall not be long;
I will deliver you, or else lie for you:
Meantime, have patience.
I must perforce: farewell.
[ExeuntClarence, Brakenbury,and Guard.
Go, tread the path that thou shalt ne’er return,
Simple, plain Clarence! I do love thee so
That I will shortly send thy soul to heaven,
If heaven will take the present at our hands.
But who comes here? the new-deliver’d Hastings!
Good time of day unto my gracious lord!
As much unto my good lord chamberlain!
Well are you welcome to this open air.
How hath your lordship brook’d imprisonment?
With patience, noble lord, as prisoners must:
But I shall live, my lord, to give them thanks
That were the cause of my imprisonment.
No doubt, no doubt; and so shall Clarence too;
For they that were your enemies are his,
And have prevail’d as much on him as you.
More pity that the eagles should be mew’d,
While kites and buzzards prey at liberty.
What news abroad?
No news so bad abroad as this at home;
The king is sickly, weak, and melancholy,
And his physicians fear him mightily.
Now by Saint Paul, this news is bad indeed.
O! he hath kept an evil diet long,
And over-much consum’d his royal person:
’Tis very grievous to be thought upon.
What, is he in his bed?
Go you before, and I will follow you.
He cannot live, I hope; and must not die
Till George be pack’d with post-horse up to heaven.
I’ll in, to urge his hatred more to Clarence,
With lies well steel’d with weighty arguments;
And, if I fail not in my deep intent,
Clarence hath not another day to live:
Which done, God take King Edward to his mercy,
And leave the world for me to bustle in!
For then I’ll marry Warwick’s youngest daughter.
What though I kill’d her husband and her father,
The readiest way to make the wench amends
Is to become her husband and her father:
The which will I; not all so much for love
As for another secret close intent,
By marrying her, which I must reach unto.
But yet I run before my horse to market:
Clarence still breathes; Edward still lives and reigns:
When they are gone, then must I count my gains.
London. Another Street.
Enter the corpse ofKing Henry the Sixth,borne in an open coffin; Gentlemen bearing halberds to guard it; andLady Anne,as mourner.
Set down, set down your honourable load,
If honour may be shrouded in a hearse,
Whilst I a while obsequiously lament
The untimely fall of virtuous Lancaster.
Poor key-cold figure of a holy king!
Pale ashes of the house of Lancaster!
Thou bloodless remnant of that royal blood!
Be it lawful that I invocate thy ghost,
To hear the lamentations of poor Anne,
Wife to thy Edward, to thy slaughter’d son,
Stabb’d by the self-same hand that made these wounds!
Lo, in these windows that let forth thy life,
I pour the helpless balm of my poor eyes.
O! cursed be the hand that made these holes;
Cursed the heart that had the heart to do it!
Cursed the blood that let this blood from hence!
More direful hap betide that hated wretch,
That makes us wretched by the death of thee,
Than I can wish to adders, spiders, toads,
Or any creeping venom’d thing that lives!
If ever he have child, abortive be it,
Prodigious, and untimely brought to light,
Whose ugly and unnatural aspect
May fright the hopeful mother at the view;
And that be heir to his unhappiness!
If ever he have wife, let her be made
More miserable by the death of him
Than I am made by my young lord and thee!
Come, now toward Chertsey with your holy load,
Taken from Paul’s to be interred there;
And still, as you are weary of the weight,
Rest you, whiles I lament King Henry’s corse.
[The Bearers take up the corpse and advance.
Stay, you that bear the corse, and set it down.
What black magician conjures up this fiend,
To stop devoted charitable deeds?
Villains! set down the corse; or, by Saint Paul,
I’ll make a corse of him that disobeys.
My lord, stand back, and let the coffin pass.
Unmanner’d dog! stand thou when I command:
Advance thy halberd higher than my breast,
Or, by Saint Paul, I’ll strike thee to my foot,
And spurn upon thee, beggar, for thy boldness.
[The Bearers set down the coffin.
What! do you tremble? are you all afraid?
Alas! I blame you not; for you are mortal,
And mortal eyes cannot endure the devil.
Avaunt! thou dreadful minister of hell,
Thou hadst but power over his mortal body,
His soul thou canst not have: therefore, be gone.
Sweet saint, for charity, be not so curst.
Foul devil, for God’s sake hence, and trouble us not;
For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell,
Fill’d it with cursing cries and deep exclaims.
If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds,
Behold this pattern of thy butcheries.
O! gentlemen; see, see! dead Henry’s wounds
Open their congeal’d mouths and bleed afresh.
Blush, blush, thou lump of foul deformity,
For ’tis thy presence that exhales this blood
From cold and empty veins, where no blood dwells:
Thy deed, inhuman and unnatural,
Provokes this deluge most unnatural.
O God! which this blood mad’st, revenge his death;
O earth! which this blood drink’st, revenge his death;
Either heaven with lightning strike the murderer dead,
Or earth, gape open wide, and eat him quick,
As thou dost swallow up this good king’s blood,
Which his hell-govern’d arm hath butchered!
Lady, you know no rules of charity,
Which renders good for bad, blessings for curses.
Villain, thou know’st no law of God nor man:
No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity.
But I know none, and therefore am no beast.
O! wonderful, when devils tell the truth.
More wonderful when angels are so angry.
Vouchsafe, divine perfection of a woman,
Of these supposed evils, to give me leave,
By circumstance, but to acquit myself.
Vouchsafe, diffus’d infection of a man,
For these known evils, but to give me leave,
By circumstance, to curse thy cursed self.
Fairer than tongue can name thee, let me have
Some patient leisure to excuse myself.
Fouler than heart can think thee, thou canst make
No excuse current, but to hang thyself.
By such despair I should accuse myself.
And by despairing shouldst thou stand excus’d
For doing worthy vengeance on thyself,
Which didst unworthy slaughter upon others.
Say that I slew them not.
Then say they were not slain:
But dead they are, and, devilish slave, by thee.
I did not kill your husband.
Why, then he is alive.
Nay, he is dead; and slain by Edward’s hand.
In thy foul throat thou liest: Queen Margaret saw
Thy murderous falchion smoking in his blood;
The which thou once didst bend against her breast,
But that thy brothers beat aside the point.
I was provoked by her sland’rous tongue,
That laid their guilt upon my guiltless shoulders.
Thou wast provoked by thy bloody mind,
That never dreamt on aught but butcheries.
Didst thou not kill this king?
I grant ye.
Dost grant me, hedge-hog? Then, God grant me too
Thou mayst be damned for that wicked deed!
O! he was gentle, mild, and virtuous.
The fitter for the King of heaven, that hath him.
He is in heaven, where thou shalt never come.
Let him thank me, that help’d to send him thither;
For he was fitter for that place than earth.
And thou unfit for any place but hell.
Yes, one place else, if you will bear me name it.
Ill rest betide the chamber where thou liest!
So will it, madam, till I lie with you.
I hope so.
I know so. But, gentle Lady Anne,
To leave this keen encounter of our wits,
And fall somewhat into a slower method,
Is not the causer of the timeless deaths
Of these Plantagenets, Henry and Edward,
As blameful as the executioner?
Thou wast the cause, and most accurs’d effect.
Your beauty was the cause of that effect;
Your beauty, that did haunt me in my sleep
To undertake the death of all the world,
So might I live one hour in your sweet bosom.
If I thought that, I tell thee, homicide,
These nails should rend that beauty from my cheeks.
These eyes could not endure that beauty’s wrack;
You should not blemish it if I stood by:
As all the world is cheered by the sun,
So I by that; it is my day, my life.
Black night o’ershade thy day, and death thy life!
Curse not thyself, fair creature; thou art both.
I would I were, to be reveng’d on thee.
It is a quarrel most unnatural,
To be reveng’d on him that loveth thee.
It is a quarrel just and reasonable,
To be reveng’d on him that kill’d my husband.
He that bereft thee, lady, of thy husband,
Did it to help thee to a better husband.
His better doth not breathe upon the earth.
He lives that loves thee better than he could.
Why, that was he.
The self-same name, but one of better nature.
Where is he?
Here. [She spitteth at him.] Why dost thou spit at me?
Would it were mortal poison, for thy sake!
Never came poison from so sweet a place.
Never hung poison on a fouler toad.
Out of my sight! thou dost infect mine eyes.
Thine eyes, sweet lady, have infected mine.
Would they were basilisks, to strike thee dead!
I would they were, that I might die at once;
For now they kill me with a living death.
Those eyes of thine from mine have drawn salt tears,
Sham’d their aspects with store of childish drops;
These eyes, which never shed remorseful tear;
No, when my father York and Edward wept
To hear the piteous moan that Rutland made
When black-fac’d Clifford shook his sword at him;
Nor when thy war-like father like a child,
Told the sad story of my father’s death,
And twenty times made pause to sob and weep,
That all the standers-by had wet their cheeks,
Like trees bedash’d with rain: in that sad time,
My manly eyes did scorn an humble tear;
And what these sorrows could not thence exhale,
Thy beauty hath, and made them blind with weeping.
I never su’d to friend, nor enemy;
My tongue could never learn sweet smoothing words;
But, now thy beauty is propos’d my fee,
My proud heart sues, and prompts my tongue to speak.
[She looks scornfully at him.
Teach not thy lip such scorn, for it was made
For kissing, lady, not for such contempt.
If thy revengeful heart cannot forgive,
Lo! here I lend thee this sharp-pointed sword;
Which if thou please to hide in this true breast,
And let the soul forth that adoreth thee,
I lay it open to the deadly stroke,
And humbly beg the death upon my knee.
[He lays his breast open: she offers at it with his sword.
Nay, do not pause; for I did kill King Henry;
But ’twas thy beauty that provoked me.
Nay, now dispatch; ’twas I that stabb’d young Edward;
[She again offers at his breast.
But ’twas thy heavenly face that set me on.
[She lets fall the sword.
Take up the sword again, or take up me.
Arise, dissembler: though I wish thy death,
I will not be thy executioner.
Then bid me kill myself, and I will do it.
I have already.
That was in thy rage:
Speak it again, and, even with the word,
This hand, which for thy love did kill thy love,
Shall, for thy love, kill a far truer love:
To both their deaths shalt thou be accessary.
I would I knew thy heart.
’Tis figur’d in my tongue.
I fear me both are false.
Then never man was true.
Well, well, put up your sword.
Say, then, my peace is made.
That shalt thou know hereafter.
But shall I live in hope?
All men, I hope, live so.
Vouchsafe to wear this ring.
To take is not to give.
[She puts on the ring.
Look, how my ring encompasseth thy finger,
Even so thy breast encloseth my poor heart;
Wear both of them, for both of them are thine.
And if thy poor devoted servant may
But beg one favour at thy gracious hand,
Thou dost confirm his happiness for ever.
What is it?
That it may please you leave these sad designs
To him that hath most cause to be a mourner,
And presently repair to Crosby-place;
Where, after I have solemnly interr’d
At Chertsey monastery this noble king,
And wet his grave with my repentant tears,
I will with all expedient duty see you:
For divers unknown reasons, I beseech you,
Grant me this boon.
With all my heart; and much it joys me too
To see you are become so penitent.
Tressel and Berkeley, go along with me.
Bid me farewell.
’Tis more than you deserve;
But since you teach me how to flatter you,
Imagine I have said farewell already.
[ExeuntLady Anne, Tressel,andBerkeley.
Sirs, take up the corse.
Toward Chertsey, noble lord?
No, to White-Friars; there attend my coming.
[Exeunt all butGloucester.
Was ever woman in this humour woo’d?
Was ever woman in this humour won?
I’ll have her; but I will not keep her long.
What! I, that kill’d her husband, and his father,
To take her in her heart’s extremest hate;
With curses in her mouth, tears in her eyes,
The bleeding witness of her hatred by;
Having God, her conscience, and these bars against me,
And nothing I to back my suit withal
But the plain devil and dissembling looks,
And yet to win her, all the world to nothing!
Hath she forgot already that brave prince,
Edward, her lord, whom I, some three months since,
Stabb’d in my angry mood at Tewksbury?
A sweeter and a lovelier gentleman,
Fram’d in the prodigality of nature,
Young, valiant, wise, and, no doubt, right royal,
The spacious world cannot again afford:
And will she yet abase her eyes on me,
That cropp’d the golden prime of this sweet prince,
And made her widow to a woeful bed?
On me, whose all not equals Edward’s moiety?
On me, that halt and am misshapen thus?
My dukedom to a beggarly denier
I do mistake my person all this while:
Upon my life, she finds, although I cannot,
Myself to be a marvellous proper man.
I’ll be at charges for a looking-glass,
And entertain a score or two of tailors,
To study fashions to adorn my body:
Since I am crept in favour with myself,
I will maintain it with some little cost.
But first I’ll turn yon fellow in his grave,
And then return lamenting to my love.
Shine out, fair sun, till I have bought a glass,
That I may see my shadow as I pass.
London. A Room in the Palace.
EnterQueen Elizabeth, Lord Rivers,andLord Grey.
Have patience, madam: there’s no doubt his majesty
Will soon recover his accustom’d health.
In that you brook it ill, it makes him worse:
Therefore, for God’s sake, entertain good comfort,
And cheer his Grace with quick and merry words.
If he were dead, what would betide on me?
No other harm but loss of such a lord.
The loss of such a lord includes all harms.
The heavens have bless’d you with a goodly son,
To be your comforter when he is gone.
Ah! he is young; and his minority
Is put into the trust of Richard Gloucester,
A man that loves not me, nor none of you.
Is it concluded he shall be protector?
It is determin’d, not concluded yet:
But so it must be if the king miscarry.
Here come the Lords of Buckingham and Stanley.
Good time of day unto your royal Grace!
God make your majesty joyful as you have been!
The Countess Richmond, good my Lord of Stanley,
To your good prayer will scarcely say amen.
Yet, Stanley, notwithstanding she’s your wife,
And loves not me, be you, good lord, assur’d
I hate not you for her proud arrogance.
I do beseech you, either not believe
The envious slanders of her false accusers;
Or, if she be accus’d on true report,
Bear with her weakness, which, I think, proceeds
From wayward sickness, and no grounded malice.
Saw you the king to-day, my Lord of Stanley?
But now the Duke of Buckingham and I,
Are come from visiting his majesty.
What likelihood of his amendment, lords?
Madam, good hope; his Grace speaks cheerfully.
God grant him health! did you confer with him?
Ay, madam: he desires to make atonement
Between the Duke of Gloucester and your brothers,
And between them and my lord chamberlain;
And sent to warn them to his royal presence.
Would all were well! But that will never be.
I fear our happiness is at the highest.
They do me wrong, and I will not endure it:
Who are they that complain unto the king,
That I, forsooth, am stern and love them not?
By holy Paul, they love his Grace but lightly
That fill his ears with such dissentious rumours.
Because I cannot flatter and speak fair,
Smile in men’s faces, smooth, deceive, and cog,
Duck with French nods and apish courtesy,
I must be held a rancorous enemy.
Cannot a plain man live and think no harm,
But thus his simple truth must be abus’d
By silken, sly, insinuating Jacks?
To whom in all this presence speaks your Grace?
To thee, that hast nor honesty nor grace.
When have I injur’d thee? when done thee wrong?
Or thee? or thee? or any of your faction?
A plague upon you all! His royal person,—
Whom God preserve better than you would wish!—
Cannot be quiet scarce a breathing-while,
But you must trouble him with lewd complaints.
Brother of Gloucester, you mistake the matter.
The king, on his own royal disposition,
And not provok’d by any suitor else,
Aiming, belike, at your interior hatred,
That in your outward action shows itself
Against my children, brothers, and myself,
Makes him to send; that thereby he may gather
The ground of your ill-will, and so remove it.
I cannot tell; the world is grown so bad
That wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch:
Since every Jack became a gentleman
There’s many a gentle person made a Jack.
Come, come, we know your meaning, brother Gloucester;
You envy my advancement and my friends’.
God grant we never may have need of you!
Meantime, God grants that we have need of you:
Our brother is imprison’d by your means,
Myself disgrac’d, and the nobility
Held in contempt; while great promotions
Are daily given to ennoble those
That scarce, some two days since, were worth a noble.
By him that rais’d me to this careful height
From that contented hap which I enjoy’d,
I never did incense his majesty
Against the Duke of Clarence, but have been
An earnest advocate to plead for him.
My lord, you do me shameful injury,
Falsely to draw me in these vile suspects.
You may deny that you were not the mean
Of my Lord Hastings’ late imprisonment.
She may, my lord; for—
She may, Lord Rivers! why, who knows not so?
She may do more, sir, than denying that:
She may help you to many fair preferments,
And then deny her aiding hand therein,
And lay those honours on your high deserts.
What may she not? She may,—ay, marry, may she,—
What, marry, may she?
What, marry, may she! marry with a king,
A bachelor, a handsome stripling too.
I wis your grandam had a worser match.
My Lord of Gloucester, I have too long borne
Your blunt upbraidings and your bitter scoffs;
By heaven, I will acquaint his majesty
Of those gross taunts that oft I have endur’d.
I had rather be a country servantmaid
Than a great queen, with this condition,
To be so baited, scorn’d, and stormed at:
Small joy have I in being England’s queen.
[Apart.] And lessen’d be that small, God, I beseech him!
Thy honour, state, and seat is due to me.
What! threat you me with telling of the king?
Tell him, and spare not: look, what I have said
I will avouch in presence of the king:
I dare adventure to be sent to the Tower.
’Tis time to speak; my pains are quite forgot.
[Apart.] Out, devil! I remember them too well:
Thou kill’dst my husband Henry in the Tower,
And Edward, my poor son, at Tewksbury.
Ere you were queen, ay, or your husband king,
I was a pack-horse in his great affairs,
A weeder-out of his proud adversaries,
A liberal rewarder of his friends;
To royalize his blood I split mine own.
Ay, and much better blood than his, or thine.
In all which time you and your husband Grey
Were factious for the house of Lancaster;
And, Rivers, so were you. Was not your husband
In Margaret’s battle at Saint Alban’s slain?
Let me put in your minds, if you forget,
What you have been ere now, and what you are;
Withal, what I have been, and what I am.
A murderous villain, and so still thou art.
Poor Clarence did forsake his father, Warwick,
Ay, and forswore himself,—which Jesu pardon!—
Which God revenge!
To fight on Edward’s party for the crown;
And for his meed, poor lord, he is mew’d up.
I would to God my heart were flint, like Edward’s;
Or Edward’s soft and pitiful, like mine:
I am too childish-foolish for this world.
Hie thee to hell for shame, and leave this world,
Thou cacodemon! there thy kingdom is.
My Lord of Gloucester, in those busy days
Which here you urge to prove us enemies,
We follow’d then our lord, our lawful king;
So should we you, if you should be our king.
If I should be! I had rather be a pedlar.
Far be it from my heart the thought thereof!
As little joy, my lord, as you suppose
You should enjoy, were you this country’s king,
As little joy you may suppose in me
That I enjoy, being the queen thereof.
As little joy enjoys the queen thereof;
For I am she, and altogether joyless.
I can no longer hold me patient.
Hear me, you wrangling pirates, that fall out
In sharing that which you have pill’d from me!
Which of you trembles not that looks on me?
If not, that, I being queen, you bow like subjects,
Yet that, by you depos’d, you quake like rebels?
Ah! gentle villain, do not turn away.
Foul wrinkled witch, what mak’st thou in my sight?
But repetition of what thou hast marr’d;
That will I make before I let thee go.
Wert thou not banished on pain of death?
I was; but I do find more pain in banishment
Than death can yield me here by my abode.
A husband and a son thou ow’st to me;
And thou, a kingdom; all of you, allegiance:
This sorrow that I have by right is yours,
And all the pleasures you usurp are mine.
The curse my noble father laid on thee,
When thou didst crown his war-like brows with paper,
And with thy scorns drew’st rivers from his eyes;
And then, to dry them, gav’st the duke a clout
Steep’d in the faultless blood of pretty Rutland;
His curses, then from bitterness of soul
Denounc’d against thee, are all fall’n upon thee;
And God, not we, hath plagu’d thy bloody deed.
So just is God, to right the innocent
O! ’twas the foulest deed to slay that babe,
And the most merciless, that e’er was heard of.
Tyrants themselves wept when it was reported.
No man but prophesied revenge for it.
Northumberland, then present, wept to see it.
What! were you snarling all before I came,
Ready to catch each other by the throat,
And turn you all your hatred now on me?
Did York’s dread curse prevail so much with heaven
That Henry’s death, my lovely Edward’s death,
Their kingdom’s loss, my woeful banishment,
Should all but answer for that peevish brat?
Can curses pierce the clouds and enter heaven?
Why then, give way, dull clouds, to my quick curses!
Though not by war, by surfeit die your king,
As ours by murder, to make him a king!
Edward, thy son, that now is Prince of Wales,
For Edward, my son, which was Prince of Wales,
Die in his youth by like untimely violence!
Thyself a queen, for me that was a queen,
Outlive thy glory, like my wretched self!
Long mayst thou live to wail thy children’s loss,
And see another, as I see thee now,
Deck’d in thy rights, as thou art stall’d in mine!
Long die thy happy days before thy death;
And, after many lengthen’d hours of grief,
Die neither mother, wife, nor England’s queen!
Rivers, and Dorset, you were standers by,—
And so wast thou, Lord Hastings,—when my son
Was stabb’d with bloody daggers: God, I pray him,
That none of you may live your natural age,
But by some unlook’d accident cut off.
Have done thy charm, thou hateful wither’d hag!
And leave out thee? stay, dog, for thou shalt hear me.
If heaven have any grievous plague in store
Exceeding those that I can wish upon thee,
O! let them keep it till thy sins be ripe,
And then hurl down their indignation
On thee, the troubler of the poor world’s peace.
The worm of conscience still begnaw thy soul!
Thy friends suspect for traitors while thou liv’st
And take deep traitors for thy dearest friends!
No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine,
Unless it be while some tormenting dream
Affrights thee with a hell of ugly devils!
Thou elvish-mark’d, abortive, rooting hog!
Thou that wast seal’d in thy nativity
The slave of nature and the son of hell!
Thou slander of thy mother’s heavy womb!
Thou loathed issue of thy father’s loins!
Thou rag of honour! thou detested—
I call thee not.
I cry thee mercy then, for I did think
That thou hadst call’d me all these bitter names.
Why, so I did; but look’d for no reply.
O! let me make the period to my curse.
’Tis done by me, and ends in ‘Margaret.’
Thus have you breath’d your curso against yourself.
Poor painted queen, vain flourish of my fortune!
Why strew’st thou sugar on that bottled spider,
Whose deadly web ensnareth thee about?
Fool, fool! thou whet’st a knife to kill thyself.
The day will come that thou shalt wish for me
To help thee curse this pois’nous bunch-back’d toad.
False-boding woman, end thy frantic curse,
Lest to thy harm thou move our patience.
Foul shame upon you! you have all mov’d mine.
Were you well serv’d, you would be taught your duty.
To serve me well, you all should do me duty,
Teach me to be your queen, and you my subjects:
O! serve me well, and teach yourselves that duty.
Dispute not with her, she is lunatic.
Peace! Master marquess, you are malapert:
Your fire-new stamp of honour is scarce current.
O! that your young nobility could judge
What ’twere to lose it, and be miserable!
They that stand high have many blasts to shake them,
And if they fall, they dash themselves to pieces.
Good counsel, marry: learn it, learn it, marquess.
It touches you, my lord, as much as me.
Ay, and much more; but I was born so high,
Our aery buildeth in the cedar’s top,
And dallies with the wind, and scorns the sun.
And turns the sun to shade; alas! alas!
Witness my son, now in the shade of death;
Whose bright out-shining beams thy cloudy wrath
Hath in eternal darkness folded up.
Your aery buildeth in our aery’s nest:
O God! that seest it, do not suffer it;
As it was won with blood, lost be it so!
Peace, peace! for shame, if not for charity.
Urge neither charity nor shame to me:
Uncharitably with me have you dealt,
And shamefully my hopes by you are butcher’d.
My charity is outrage, life my shame;
And in that shame still live my sorrow’s rage!
Have done, have done.
O princely Buckingham! I’ll kiss thy hand,
In sign of league and amity with thee:
Now fair befall thee and thy noble house!
Thy garments are not spotted with our blood,
Nor thou within the compass of my curse.
Nor no one here; for curses never pass
The lips of those that breathe them in the air.
I will not think but they ascend the sky,
And there awake God’s gentle-sleeping peace.
O Buckingham! take heed of yonder dog:
Look, when he fawns, he bites; and when he bites
His venom tooth will rankle to the death:
Have not to do with him, beware of him;
Sin, death and hell have set their marks on him,
And all their ministers attend on him.
What doth she say, my Lord of Buckingham?
Nothing that I respect, my gracious lord.
What! dost thou scorn me for my gentle counsel,
And soothe the devil that I warn thee from?
O! but remember this another day,
When he shall split thy very heart with sorrow,
And say poor Margaret was a prophetess.
Live each of you the subject to his hate,
And he to yours, and all of you to God’s!
My hair doth stand on end to hear her curses.
And so doth mine. I muse why she’s at liberty.
I cannot blame her: by God’s holy mother,
She hath had too much wrong, and I repent
My part thereof that I have done to her.
I never did her any, to my knowledge.
Yet you have all the vantage of her wrong.
I was too hot to do somebody good,
That is too cold in thinking of it now.
Marry, as for Clarence, he is well repaid;
He is frank’d up to fatting for his pains:
God pardon them that are the cause thereof!
A virtuous and a Christian-like conclusion,
To pray for them that have done scath to us.
So do I ever [Aside], being well-advis’d;
For had I curs’d now, I had curs’d myself.
Madam, his majesty doth call for you;
And for your Grace; and you, my noble lords.
Catesby, I come. Lords, will you go with me?
We wait upon your Grace.
[Exeunt all butGloucester.
I do the wrong, and first begin to brawl.
The secret mischiefs that I set abroach
I lay unto the grievous charge of others.
Clarence, whom I, indeed, have cast in darkness,
I do beweep to many simple gulls;
Namely, to Stanley, Hastings, Buckingham;
And tell them ’tis the queen and her allies
That stir the king against the duke my brother.
Now they believe it; and withal whet me
To be reveng’d on Rivers, Vaughan, Grey;
But then I sigh, and, with a piece of scripture,
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil:
And thus I clothe my naked villany
With odd old ends stol’n forth of holy writ,
And seem a saint when most I play the devil.
Enter two Murderers.
But soft! here come my executioners.
How now, my hardy, stout resolved mates!
Are you now going to dispatch this thing?
We are, my lord; and come to have the warrant,
That we may be admitted where he is.
Well thought upon; I have it here about me:
[Gives the warrant.
When you have done, repair to Crosby-place.
But, sirs, be sudden in the execution,
Withal obdurate, do not hear him plead;
For Clarence is well-spoken, and perhaps
May move your hearts to pity, if you mark him.
Tut, tut, my lord, we will not stand to prate;
Talkers are no good doers: be assur’d
We go to use our hands and not our tongues.
Your eyes drop millstones, when fools’ eyes fall tears:
I like you, lads; about your business straight;
Go, go, dispatch.
We will, my noble lord.
The Same. The Tower.
Why looks your Grace so heavily to-day?
O, I have pass’d a miserable night,
So full of ugly sights, of ghastly dreams,
That, as I am a Christian faithful man,
I would not spend another such a night,
Though ’twere to buy a world of happy days,
So full of dismal terror was the time.
What was your dream, my lord? I pray you, tell me.
Methought that I had broken from the Tower,
And was embark’d to cross to Burgundy;
And in my company my brother Gloucester,
Who from my cabin tempted me to walk
Upon the hatches: thence we look’d toward England,
And cited up a thousand heavy times,
During the wars of York and Lancaster,
That had befall’n us. As we pac’d along
Upon the giddy footing of the hatches,
Methought that Gloucester stumbled; and, in falling,
Struck me, that thought to stay him, overboard,
Into the tumbling billows of the main.
Lord, Lord! methought what pain it was to drown:
What dreadful noise of water in mine ears!
What sights of ugly death within mine eyes!
Methought I saw a thousand fearful wracks;
A thousand men that fishes gnaw’d upon;
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvalu’d jewels,
All scatter’d in the bottom of the sea.
Some lay in dead men’s skulls; and in those holes
Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept,
As ’twere in scorn of eyes, reflecting gems,
That woo’d the slimy bottom of the deep,
And mock’d the dead bones that lay scatter’d by.
Had you such leisure in the time of death
To gaze upon those secrets of the deep?
Methought I had; and often did I strive
To yield the ghost; but still the envious flood
Stopt in my soul, and would not let it forth
To find the empty, vast, and wandering air;
But smother’d it within my panting bulk,
Which almost burst to belch it in the sea.
Awak’d you not with this sore agony?
No, no, my dream was lengthen’d after life;
O! then began the tempest to my soul.
I pass’d, methought, the melancholy flood,
With that grim ferryman which poets write of,
Unto the kingdom of perpetual night.
The first that there did greet my stranger soul,
Was my great father-in-law, renowned Warwick;
Who cried aloud, ‘What scourge for perjury
Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?’
And so he vanish’d: then came wandering by
A shadow like an angel, with bright hair
Dabbled in blood; and he shriek’d out aloud,
‘Clarence is come,—false, fleeting, perjur’d Clarence,
That stabb’d me in the field by Tewksbury;—
Seize on him! Furies, take him unto torment.’
With that, methought, a legion of foul fiends
Environ’d me, and howled in mine ears
Such hideous cries, that, with the very noise
I trembling wak’d, and, for a season after
Could not believe but that I was in hell,
Such terrible impression made my dream.
No marvel, lord, though it affrighted you;
I am afraid, methinks, to hear you tell it.
O Brakenbury! I have done these things
That now give evidence against my soul,
For Edward’s sake; and see how he requites me.
O God! if my deep prayers cannot appease thee,
But thou wilt be aveng’d on my misdeeds,
Yet execute thy wrath on me alone:
O! spare my guiltless wife and my poor children.
I pray thee, gentle keeper, stay by me;
My soul is heavy, and I fain would sleep.
I will, my lord. God give your Grace good rest!
Sorrow breaks seasons and reposing hours,
Makes the night morning, and the noon-tide night.
Princes have but their titles for their glories,
An outward honour for an inward toil;
And, for unfelt imaginations,
They often feel a world of restless cares:
So that, between their titles and low names,
There’s nothing differs but the outward fame.
Enter the two Murderers.
Ho! who’s here?
What wouldst thou, fellow? and how cam’st thou hither?
I would speak with Clarence, and I came hither on my legs.
What! so brief?
’Tis better, sir, than to be tedious.—
Let him see our commission, and talk no more.
[A paper is delivered toBrakenbury,who reads it.
I am, in this, commanded to deliver
The noble Duke of Clarence to your hands:
I will not reason what is meant hereby,
Because I will be guiltless of the meaning.
There lies the duke asleep, and there the keys.
I’ll to the king; and signify to him
That thus I have resign’d to you my charge.
You may, sir; ’tis a point of wisdom: fare you well.
What! shall we stab him as he sleeps?
No; he’ll say ’twas done cowardly, when he wakes.
When he wakes! why, fool, he shall never wake till the judgment-day.
Why, then he’ll say we stabbed him sleeping.
The urging of that word ‘judgment’ hath bred a kind of remorse in me.
What! art thou afraid?
Not to kill him, having a warrant for it; but to be damn’d for killing him, from the which no warrant can defend me.
I thought thou hadst been resolute.
So I am, to let him live.
I’ll back to the Duke of Gloucester, and tell him so.
Nay, I prithee, stay a little: I hope my holy humour will change; it was wont to hold me but while one tells twenty.
How dost thou feel thyself now?
Some certain dregs of conscience are yet within me.
Remember our reward when the deed’s done.
’Zounds! he dies: I had forgot the reward.
Where’s thy conscience now?
In the Duke of Gloucester’s purse.
So when he opens his purse to give us our reward, thy conscience flies out.
’Tis no matter; let it go: there’s few or none will entertain it.
What if it come to thee again?
I’ll not meddle with it; it makes a man a coward; a man cannot steal, but it accuseth him; a man cannot swear, but it checks him; a man cannot lie with his neighbour’s wife, but it detects him: ’tis a blushing shamefast spirit, that mutinies in a man’s bosom; it fills one full of obstacles; it made me once restore a purse of gold that I found; it beggars any man that keeps it; it is turned out of all towns and cities for a dangerous thing; and every man that means to live well, endeavours to trust to himself and live without it.
’Zounds! it is even now at my elbow, persuading me not to kill the duke.
Take the devil in thy mind, and believe him not: he would insinuate with thee but to make thee sigh.
Tut, I am strong-framed; he cannot prevail with me.
Spoke like a tall fellow that respects his reputation. Come, shall we to this gear?
Take him over the costard with the hilts of thy sword, and then throw him into the malmsey-butt in the next room.
O, excellent device! make a sop of him.
Soft! he wakes.
No, we’ll reason with him.
Where art thou, keeper? give me a cup of wine.
You shall have wine enough, my lord, anon.
In God’s name, what art thou?
A man, as you are.
But not, as I am, royal.
Nor you, as we are, loyal.
Thy voice is thunder, but thy looks are humble.
My voice is now the king’s, my looks mine own.
How darkly, and how deadly dost thou speak!
Your eyes do menace me: why look you pale?
Who sent you hither? Wherefore do you come?
To, to, to—
To murder me?
You scarcely have the hearts to tell me so,
And therefore cannot have the hearts to do it.
Wherein, my friends, have I offended you?
Offended us you have not, but the king.
I shall be reconcil’d to him again.
Never, my lord; therefore prepare to die.
Are you call’d forth from out a world of men
To slay the innocent? What is my offence?
Where is the evidence that doth accuse me?
What lawful quest have given their verdict up
Unto the frowning judge? or who pronounc’d
The bitter sentence of poor Clarence’ death?
Before I be convict by course of law,
To threaten me with death is most unlawful.
I charge you, as you hope to have redemption
By Christ’s dear blood shed for our grievous sins,
That you depart and lay no hands on me;
The deed you undertake is damnable.
What we will do, we do upon command.
And he that hath commanded is our king.
Erroneous vassal! the great King of kings
Hath in the table of his law commanded
That thou shalt do no murder: will you, then,
Spurn at his edict and fulfil a man’s?
Take heed; for he holds vengeance in his hand,
To hurl upon their heads that break his law.
And that same vengeance doth he hurl on thee,
For false forswearing and for murder too:
Thou didst receive the sacrament to fight
In quarrel of the house of Lancaster.
And, like a traitor to the name of God,
Didst break that vow, and, with thy treacherous blade
Unripp’dst the bowels of thy sovereign’s son.
Whom thou wast sworn to cherish and defend.
How canst thou urge God’s dreadful law to us,
When thou hast broke it in such dear degree?
Alas! for whose sake did I that ill deed?
For Edward, for my brother, for his sake:
He sends you not to murder me for this;
For in that sin he is as deep as I.
If God will be avenged for the deed,
O! know you yet, he doth it publicly:
Take not the quarrel from his powerful arm;
He needs no indirect or lawless course
To cut off those that have offended him.
Who made thee then a bloody minister,
When gallant-springing, brave Plantagenet,
That princely novice, was struck dead by thee?
My brother’s love, the devil, and my rage.
Thy brother’s love, our duty, and thy fault,
Provoke us hither now to slaughter thee.
If you do love my brother, hate not me;
I am his brother, and I love him well.
If you are hir’d for meed, go back again,
And I will send you to my brother Gloucester,
Who shall reward you better for my life
Than Edward will for tidings of my death.
You are deceiv’d, your brother Gloucester hates you.
O, no! he loves me, and he holds me dear:
Go you to him from me.
Ay, so we will.
Tell him, when that our princely father York
Bless’d his three sons with his victorious arm,
And charg’d us from his soul to love each other,
He little thought of this divided friendship:
Bid Gloucester think on this, and he will weep.
Ay, millstones; as he lesson’d us to weep.
O! do not slander him, for he is kind.
As snow in harvest. Thou deceiv’st thyself:
’Tis he that sends us to destroy you here.
It cannot be; for he bewept my fortune,
And hugg’d me in his arms, and swore, with sobs,
That he would labour my delivery.
Why, so he doth, when he delivers you
From this earth’s thraldom to the joys of heaven.
Make peace with God, for you must die, my lord.
Hast thou that holy feeling in thy soul,
To counsel me to make my peace with God,
And art thou yet to thy own soul so blind,
That thou wilt war with God by murdering me?
O! sirs, consider, he that set you on
To do this deed, will hate you for the deed.
What shall we do?
Relent and save your souls.
Relent! ’tis cowardly, and womanish.
Not to relent, is beastly, savage, devilish.
Which of you, if you were a prince’s son,
Being pent from liberty, as I am now,
If two such murd’rers as yourselves came to you,
Would not entreat for life?
My friend, I spy some pity in thy looks;
O! if thine eye be not a flatterer,
Come thou on my side, and entreat for me,
As you would beg, were you in my distress:
A begging prince what beggar pities not?
Look behind you, my lord.
[Stabs him.] Take that, and that: if all this will not do,
I’ll drown you in the malmsey-butt within.
[Exit with the body.
A bloody deed, and desperately dispatch’d!
How fain, like Pilate, would I wash my hands
Of this most grievous murder.
Re-enter first Murderer.
How now! what mean’st thou, that thou help’st me not?
By heaven, the duke shall know how slack you have been.
I would he knew that I had sav’d his brother!
Take thou the fee, and tell him what I say;
For I repent me that the duke is slain.
So do not I: go, coward as thou art.
Well, I’ll go hide the body in some hole,
Till that the duke give order for his burial:
And when I have my meed, I will away;
For this will out, and here I must not stay.