Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT II. - The Tragedy of King Richard the Third
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ACT II. - 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 Room in the Palace.
EnterKing Edwardsick,Queen Elizabeth, Dorset, Rivers, Hastings, Buckingham, Grey,and Others.
Why, so: now have I done a good day’s work.
You peers, continue this united league:
I every day expect an embassage
From my Redeemer to redeem me hence;
And more in peace my soul shall part to heaven,
Since I have made my friends at peace on earth.
Rivers and Hastings, take each other’s hand;
Dissemble not your hatred, swear your love.
By heaven, my soul is purg’d from grudging hate;
And with my hand I seal my true heart’s love.
So thrive I, as I truly swear the like!
Take heed, you dally not before your king;
Lest he that is the supreme King of kings
Confound your hidden falsehood, and award
Either of you to be the other’s end.
So prosper I, as I swear perfect love!
And I, as I love Hastings with my heart!
Madam, yourself are not exempt in this,
Nor you, son Dorset, Buckingham, nor you;
You have been factious one against the other.
Wife, love Lord Hastings, let him kiss your hand;
And what you do, do it unfeignedly.
There, Hastings; I will never more remember
Our former hatred, so thrive I and mine!
Dorset, embrace him; Hastings, love lord marquess.
This interchange of love, I here protest,
Upon my part shall be inviolable.
And so swear I.
Now, princely Buckingham, seal thou this league
With thy embracements to my wife’s allies,
And make me happy in your unity.
[To theQueen.] Whenever Buckingham doth turn his hate
Upon your Grace, but with all duteous love
Doth cherish you and yours, God punish me
With hate in those where I expect most love!
When I have most need to employ a friend,
And most assured that he is a friend,
Deep, hollow, treacherous, and full of guile,
Be he unto me! This do I beg of God,
When I am cold in love to you or yours.
A pleasing cordial, princely Buckingham,
Is this thy vow unto my sickly heart.
There wanteth now our brother Gloucester here
To make the blessed period of this peace.
And, in good time, here comes the noble duke.
Good morrow to my sovereign king and queen;
And princely peers, a happy time of day!
Happy, indeed, as we have spent the day.
Gloucester, we have done deeds of charity;
Made peace of enmity, fair love of hate,
Between these swelling wrong-incensed peers.
A blessed labour, my most sovereign lord.
Among this princely heap, if any here,
By false intelligence, or wrong surmise,
Hold me a foe;
If I unwittingly, or in my rage,
Have aught committed that is hardly borne
By any in this presence, I desire
To reconcile me to his friendly peace:
’Tis death to me to be at enmity;
I hate it, and desire all good men’s love.
First, madam, I entreat true peace of you,
Which I will purchase with my duteous service;
Of you, my noble cousin Buckingham,
If ever any grudge were lodg’d between us;
Of you, Lord Rivers, and Lord Grey, of you,
That all without desert have frown’d on me;
Of you, Lord Woodvile, and Lord Scales, of you;
Dukes, earls, lords, gentlemen; indeed, of all.
I do not know that Englishman alive
With whom my soul is any jot at odds
More than the infant that is born to-night:
I thank my God for my humility.
A holy day shall this be kept hereafter:
I would to God all strifes were well compounded.
My sov’reign lord, I do beseech your highness
To take our brother Clarence to your grace.
Why, madam, have I offer’d love for this,
To be so flouted in this royal presence?
Who knows not that the gentle duke is dead?
[They all start.
You do him injury to scorn his corse.
Who knows not he is dead! who knows he is?
All-seeing heaven, what a world is this!
Look I so pale, Lord Dorset, as the rest?
Ay, my good lord; and no man in the presence
But his red colour hath forsook his cheeks.
Is Clarence dead? the order was revers’d.
But he, poor man, by your first order died,
And that a winged Mercury did bear;
Some tardy cripple bore the countermand,
That came too lag to see him buried.
God grant that some, less noble and less loyal,
Nearer in bloody thoughts, and not in blood,
Deserve not worse than wretched Clarence did,
And yet go current from suspicion.
A boon, my sov’reign, for my service done!
I prithee, peace: my soul is full of sorrow.
I will not rise, unless your highness hear me.
Then say at once, what is it thou request’st.
The forfeit, sovereign, of my servant’s life;
Who slew to-day a riotous gentleman
Lately attendant on the Duke of Norfolk.
Have I a tongue to doom my brother’s death,
And shall that tongue give pardon to a slave?
My brother kill’d no man, his fault was thought;
And yet his punishment was bitter death.
Who su’d to me for him? who, in my wrath,
Kneel’d at my feet, and bade me be advis’d?
Who spoke of brotherhood? who spoke of love?
Who told me how the poor soul did forsake
The mighty Warwick, and did fight for me?
Who told me, in the field at Tewksbury,
When Oxford had me down, he rescu’d me,
And said, ‘Dear brother, live, and be a king?’
Who told me, when we both lay in the field
Frozen almost to death, how he did lap me
Even in his garments; and did give himself,
All thin and naked, to the numb cold night?
All this from my remembrance brutish wrath
Sinfully pluck’d, and not a man of you
Had so much grace to put it in my mind.
But when your carters or your waiting-vassals
Have done a drunken slaughter, and defac’d
The precious image of our dear Redeemer,
You straight are on your knees for pardon, pardon;
And I, unjustly too, must grant it you;
But for my brother not a man would speak,
Nor I, ungracious, speak unto myself
For him, poor soul. The proudest of you all
Have been beholding to him in his life,
Yet none of you would once beg for his life.
O God! I fear, thy justice will take hold
On me and you and mine and yours for this.
Come, Hastings, help me to my closet. O! poor Clarence!
[ExeuntKing Edward, Queen, Hastings, Rivers, Dorset,andGrey.
This is the fruit of rashness. Mark’d you not
How that the guilty kindred of the queen
Look’d pale when they did hear of Clarence’ death?
O! they did urge it still unto the king:
God will revenge it. Come, lords; will you go
To comfort Edward with our company?
We wait upon your Grace.
The Same. A Room in the Palace.
Enter theDuchess of York,with a Son and Daughter ofClarence.
Good grandam, tell us, is our father dead?
Why do you wring your hands, and beat your breast,
And cry—‘O Clarence, my unhappy son?’
Why do you look on us, and shake your head,
And call us orphans, wretches, castaways,
If that our noble father be alive?
My pretty cousins, you mistake me much;
I do lament the sickness of the king,
As loath to lose him, not your father’s death;
It were lost sorrow to wail one that’s lost.
Then, grandam, you conclude that he is dead.
The king mine uncle is to blame for it:
God will revenge it; whom I will importune
With earnest prayers all to that effect.
And so will I.
Peace, children, peace! the king doth love you well:
Incapable and shallow innocents,
You cannot guess who caus’d your father’s death.
Grandam, we can; for my good uncle Gloucester
Told me, the king, provok’d to’t by the queen,
Devis’d impeachments to imprison him:
And when my uncle told me so, he wept,
And pitied me, and kindly kiss’d my cheek;
Bade me rely on him, as on my father,
And he would love me dearly as his child.
Ah! that deceit should steal such gentle shape,
And with a virtuous vizard hide deep vice.
He is my son, ay, and therein my shame,
Yet from my dugs he drew not this deceit.
Think you my uncle did dissemble, grandam?
I cannot think it. Hark! what noise is this?
EnterQueen Elizabeth,distractedly;RiversandDorsetfollowing her.
Oh! who shall hinder me to wail and weep,
To chide my fortune, and torment myself?
I’ll join with black despair against my soul,
And to myself become an enemy.
What means this scene of rude impatience?
To make an act of tragic violence:
Edward, my lord, thy son, our king, is dead!
Why grow the branches now the root is wither’d?
Why wither not the leaves that want their sap?
If you will live, lament: if die, be brief,
That our swift-winged souls may catch the king’s;
Or, like obedient subjects, follow him
To his new kingdom of perpetual rest.
Ah! so much interest have I in thy sorrow
As I had title in thy noble husband.
I have bewept a worthy husband’s death,
And liv’d with looking on his images;
But now two mirrors of his princely semblance
Are crack’d in pieces by malignant death,
And I for comfort have but one false glass,
That grieves me when I see my shame in him.
Thou art a widow; yet thou art a mother,
And hast the comfort of thy children left thee:
But death hath snatch’d my husband from mine arms,
And pluck’d two crutches from my feeble limbs,
Clarence and Edward. O! what cause have I—
Thine being but a moiety of my grief—
To overgo thy plaints, and drown thy cries!
Ah, aunt, you wept not for our father’s death;
How can we aid you with our kindred tears?
Our fatherless distress was left unmoan’d;
Your widow-dolour likewise be unwept.
Give me no help in lamentation;
I am not barren to bring forth complaints:
All springs reduce their currents to mine eyes,
That I, being govern’d by the wat’ry moon,
May send forth plenteous tears to drown the world!
Ah! for my husband, for my dear Lord Edward!
Ah! for our father, for our dear Lord Clarence!
Alas! for both, both mine, Edward and Clarence!
What stay had I but Edward? and he’s gone.
What stay had we but Clarence? and he’s gone.
What stays had I but they? and they are gone.
Was never widow had so dear a loss.
Were never orphans had so dear a loss.
Was never mother had so dear a loss.
Alas! I am the mother of these griefs:
Their woes are parcell’d, mine are general.
She for an Edward weeps, and so do I;
I for a Clarence weep, so doth not she:
These babes for Clarence weep, and so do I;
I for an Edward weep, so do not they:
Alas! you three, on me, threefold distress’d,
Pour all your tears; I am your sorrow’s nurse,
And I will pamper it with lamentation.
Comfort, dear mother: God is much displeas’d
That you take with unthankfulness his doing.
In common worldly things ’tis call’d ungrateful
With dull unwillingness to repay a debt
Which with a bounteous hand was kindly lent;
Much more to be thus opposite with heaven,
For it requires the royal debt it lent you.
Madam, bethink you, like a careful mother,
Of the young prince your son: send straight for him;
Let him be crown’d; in him your comfort lives.
Drown desperate sorrow in dead Edward’s grave,
And plant your joys in living Edward’s throne.
EnterGloucester, Buckingham, Stanley, Hastings, Ratcliff,and Others.
Sister, have comfort: all of us have cause
To wail the dimming of our shining star;
But none can cure their harms by wailing them.
Madam, my mother, I do cry you mercy;
I did not see your Grace: humbly on my knee
I crave your blessing.
God bless thee! and put meekness in thy mind,
Love, charity, obedience, and true duty.
Amen; [Aside.] and make me die a good old man!
That is the butt-end of a mother’s blessing;
I marvel that her Grace did leave it out.
You cloudy princes and heart-sorrowing peers,
That bear this heavy mutual load of moan,
Now cheer each other in each other’s love:
Though we have spent our harvest of this king,
We are to reap the harvest of his son.
The broken rancour of your high-swoln hearts,
But lately splinter’d, knit, and join’d together,
Must gently be preserv’d, cherish’d, and kept:
Me seemeth good, that, with some little train,
Forthwith from Ludlow the young prince be fetch’d
Hither to London, to be crown’d our king.
Why with some little train, my Lord of Buckingham?
Marry, my lord, lest, by a multitude,
The new-heal’d wound of malice should break out;
Which would be so much the more dangerous,
By how much the estate is green and yet ungovern’d;
Where every horse bears his commanding rein,
And may direct his course as please himself,
As well the fear of harm, as harm apparent,
In my opinion, ought to be prevented.
I hope the king made peace with all of us;
And the compact is firm and true in me.
And so in me; and so, I think, in all:
Yet, since it is but green, it should be put
To no apparent likelihood of breach,
Which haply by much company might be urg’d:
Therefore I say with noble Buckingham,
That it is meet so few should fetch the prince.
And so say I.
Then be it so; and go we to determine
Who they shall be that straight shall post to Ludlow.
Madam, and you my mother, will you go
To give your censures in this business?
[Exeunt all exceptBuckinghamandGloucester.
My lord, whoever journeys to the prince,
For God’s sake, let not us two stay at home:
For by the way I’ll sort occasion,
As index to the story we late talk’d of,
To part the queen’s proud kindred from the prince.
My other self, my counsel’s consistory,
My oracle, my prophet! My dear cousin,
I, as a child, will go by thy direction.
Towards Ludlow then, for we’ll not stay behind.
The Same. A Street.
Enter two Citizens, meeting.
Good morrow, neighbour: whither away so fast?
I promise you, I scarcely know myself:
Hear you the news abroad?
Ay; that the king is dead.
Ill news, by’r lady; seldom comes the better:
I fear, I fear, ’twill prove a giddy world.
Enter a third Citizen.
Neighbours, God speed!
Give you good morrow, sir.
Doth the news hold of good King Edward’s death?
Ay, sir, it is too true; God help the while!
Then, masters, look to see a troublous world.
No, no; by God’s good grace, his son shall reign.
Woe to that land that’s govern’d by a child!
In him there is a hope of government,
That in his nonage council under him,
And in his full and ripen’d years himself,
No doubt, shall then and till then govern well.
So stood the state when Henry the Sixth
Was crown’d at Paris but at nine months old.
Stood the state so? no, no, good friends, God wot;
For then this land was famously enrich’d
With politic grave counsel; then the king
Had virtuous uncles to protect his Grace.
Why, so hath this, both by his father and mother.
Better it were they all came by his father,
Or by his father there were none at all;
For emulation, who shall now be nearest,
Will touch us all too near, if God prevent not.
O! full of danger is the Duke of Gloucester!
And the queen’s sons and brothers haught and proud;
And were they to be rul’d, and not to rule,
This sickly land might solace as before.
Come, come, we fear the worst, all will be well.
When clouds are seen, wise men put on their cloaks;
When great leaves fall, then winter is at hand;
When the sun sets, who doth not look for night?
Untimely storms make men expect a dearth.
All may be well; but, if God sort it so,
’Tis more than we deserve, or I expect.
Truly, the hearts of men are full of fear:
You cannot reason almost with a man
That looks not heavily and full of dread.
Before the days of change, still is it so:
By a divine instinct men’s minds mistrust
Ensuing danger; as, by proof, we see
The waters swell before a boisterous storm.
But leave it all to God. Whither away?
Marry, we were sent for to the justices.
And so was I: I’ll bear you company.
The Same. A Room in the Palace.
Enter theArchbishop of York,the youngDuke of York, Queen Elizabeth,and theDuchess of York.
Last night, I hear, they lay at Northampton;
At Stony-Stratford they do rest to-night:
To-morrow, or next day, they will be here.
I long with all my heart to see the prince.
I hope he is much grown since last I saw him.
But I hear, no; they say my son of York
Hath almost overta’en him in his growth.
Ay, mother, but I would not have it so.
Why, my young cousin, it is good to grow.
Grandam, one night, as we did sit at supper,
My uncle Rivers talk’d how I did grow
More than my brother: ‘Ay,’ quoth my uncle Gloucester,
‘Small herbs have grace, great weeds do grow apace:’
And since, methinks, I would not grow so fast,
Because sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste.
Good faith, good faith, the saying did not hold
In him that did object the same to thee:
He was the wretched’st thing when he was young,
So long a-growing, and so leisurely,
That, if his rule were true, he should be gracious.
And so, no doubt, he is, my gracious madam.
I hope he is; but yet let mothers doubt.
Now, by my troth, if I had been remember’d,
I could have given my uncle’s grace a flout,
To touch his growth nearer than he touch’d mine.
How, my young York? I prithee, let me hear it.
Marry, they say my uncle grew so fast,
That he could gnaw a crust at two hours old:
’Twas full two years ere I could get a tooth.
Grandam, this would have been a biting jest.
I prithee, pretty York, who told thee this?
Grandam, his nurse.
His nurse! why, she was dead ere thou wast born.
If ’twere not she, I cannot tell who told me.
A parlous boy: go to, you are too shrewd.
Good madam, be not angry with the child.
Pitchers have ears.
Enter a Messenger.
Here comes a messenger. What news?
Such news, my lord, as grieves me to report.
How doth the prince?
Well, madam, and in health.
What is thy news?
Lord Rivers and Lord Grey are sent to Pomfret,
With them Sir Thomas Vaughan, prisoners.
Who hath committed them?
The mighty dukes,
Gloucester and Buckingham.
For what offence?
The sum of all I can I have disclos’d:
Why or for what the nobles were committed
Is all unknown to me, my gracious lord.
Ah me! I see the ruin of my house!
The tiger now hath seiz’d the gentle hind;
Insulting tyranny begins to jet
Upon the innocent and aweless throne:
Welcome, destruction, death, and massacre!
I see, as in a map, the end of all.
Accursed and unquiet wrangling days,
How many of you have mine eyes beheld!
My husband lost his life to get the crown,
And often up and down my sons were toss’d,
For me to joy and weep their gain and loss:
And being seated, and domestic broils
Clean over-blown, themselves, the conquerors,
Make war upon themselves; brother to brother,
Blood to blood, self against self: O! preposterous
And frantic outrage, end thy damned spleen;
Or let me die, to look on death no more.
Come, come, my boy; we will to sanctuary.
Stay, I will go with you.
You have no cause.
[To theQueen.] My gracious lady, go;
And thither bear your treasure and your goods.
For my part, I’ll resign unto your Grace
The seal I keep: and so betide to me
As well I tender you and all of yours!
Come; I’ll conduct you to the sanctuary.