Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT III. - The Tragedy of King Richard the Third
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
ACT III. - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
The Same. A Street.
The Trumpets sound. Enter thePrince of Wales, Gloucester, Buckingham, Catesby, Cardinal Bourchier,and Others.
Welcome, sweet prince, to London, to your chamber.
Welcome, dear cousin, my thoughts’ sovereign;
The weary way hath made you melancholy.
No, uncle; but our crosses on the way
Have made it tedious, wearisome, and heavy:
I want more uncles here to welcome me.
Sweet prince, the untainted virtue of your years
Hath not yet div’d into the world’s deceit:
No more can you distinguish of a man
Than of his outward show; which, God he knows,
Seldom or never jumpeth with the heart.
Those uncles which you want were dangerous;
Your Grace attended to their sugar’d words,
But look’d not on the poison of their hearts:
God keep you from them, and from such false friends!
God keep me from false friends! but they were none.
My lord, the Mayor of London comes to greet you.
Enter the Lord Mayor and his Train.
God bless your Grace with health and happy days!
I thank you, good my lord; and thank you all.
I thought my mother and my brother York
Would long ere this have met us on the way:
Fie! what a slug is Hastings, that he comes not
To tell us whether they will come or no.
And in good time here comes the sweating lord.
Welcome, my lord. What, will our mother come?
On what occasion, God he knows, not I,
The queen your mother, and your brother York,
Have taken sanctuary: the tender prince
Would fain have come with me to meet your Grace,
But by his mother was perforce withheld.
Fie! what an indirect and peevish course
Is this of hers! Lord Cardinal, will your Grace
Persuade the queen to send the Duke of York
Unto his princely brother presently?
If she deny, Lord Hastings, go with him,
And from her jealous arms pluck him perforce.
My Lord of Buckingham, if my weak oratory
Can from his mother win the Duke of York,
Anon expect him here; but if she be obdurate
To mild entreaties, God in heaven forbid
We should infringe the holy privilege
Of blessed sanctuary! not for all this land
Would I be guilty of so great a sin.
You are too senseless-obstinate, my lord,
Too ceremonious and traditional:
Weigh it but with the grossness of this age,
You break not sanctuary in seizing him.
The benefit thereof is always granted
To those whose dealings have deserv’d the place
And those who have the wit to claim the place:
This prince hath neither claim’d it, nor deserv’d it;
And therefore, in mine opinion, cannot have it:
Then, taking him from thence that is not there,
You break no privilege nor charter there.
Oft have I heard of sanctuary men,
But sanctuary children ne’er till now.
My lord, you shall o’er-rule my mind for once.
Come on, Lord Hastings, will you go with me?
I go, my lord.
Good lords, make all the speedy haste you may.
Say, uncle Gloucester, if our brother come,
Where shall we sojourn till our coronation?
Where it seems best unto your royal self.
If I may counsel you, some day or two
Your highness shall repose you at the Tower:
Then where you please, and shall be thought most fit
For your best health and recreation.
I do not like the Tower, of any place:
Did Julius Cæsar build that place, my lord?
He did, my gracious lord, begin that place,
Which, since, succeeding ages have re-edified.
Is it upon record, or else reported
Successively from age to age, he built it?
Upon record, my gracious lord.
But say, my lord, it were not register’d,
Methinks the truth should live from age to age,
As ’twere retail’d to all posterity,
Even to the general all-ending day.
[Aside.] So wise so young, they say, do never live long.
What say you, uncle?
I say, without characters, fame lives long.
[Aside.] Thus, like the formal Vice, Iniquity,
I moralize two meanings in one word.
That Julius Cæsar was a famous man;
With what his valour did enrich his wit,
His wit set down to make his valour live:
Death makes no conquest of this conqueror,
For now he lives in fame, though not in life.
I’ll tell you what, my cousin Buckingham,—
What, my gracious lord?
An if I live until I be a man,
I’ll win our ancient right in France again,
Or die a soldier, as I liv’d a king.
[Aside.] Short summers lightly have a forward spring.
EnterYork, Hastings,andCardinal Bourchier.
Now, in good time, here comes the Duke of York.
Richard of York! how fares our loving brother?
Well, my dread lord; so must I call you now.
Ay, brother, to our grief, as it is yours:
Too late he died that might have kept that title,
Which by his death hath lost much majesty.
How fares our cousin, noble Lord of York?
I thank you, gentle uncle. O, my lord,
You said that idle weeds are fast in growth:
The prince my brother hath outgrown me far.
He hath, my lord.
And therefore is he idle?
O, my fair cousin, I must not say so.
Then he is more beholding to you than I.
He may command me as my sovereign;
But you have power in me as in a kinsman.
I pray you, uncle, give me this dagger.
My dagger, little cousin? with all my heart.
A beggar, brother?
Of my kind uncle, that I know will give;
And, being but a toy, which is no grief to give.
A greater gift than that I’ll give my cousin.
A greater gift! O, that’s the sword to it.
Ay, gentle cousin, were it light enough.
O, then, I see, you’ll part but with light gifts;
In weightier things you’ll say a beggar nay.
It is too weighty for your Grace to wear.
I weigh it lightly, were it heavier.
What! would you have my weapon, little lord?
I would, that I might thank you, as you call me.
My Lord of York will still be cross in talk.
Uncle, your Grace knows how to bear with him.
You mean, to bear me, not to bear with me:
Uncle, my brother mocks both you and me.
Because that I am little, like an ape,
He thinks that you should bear me on your shoulders.
With what a sharp provided with he reasons!
To mitigate the scorn he gives his uncle,
He prettily and aptly taunts himself:
So cunning and so young is wonderful.
My lord, will’t please you pass along?
Myself and my good cousin Buckingham
Will to your mother, to entreat of her
To meet you at the Tower and welcome you.
What! will you go unto the Tower, my lord?
My Lord Protector needs will have it so.
I shall not sleep in quiet at the Tower.
Why, what would you fear?
Marry, my uncle Clarence’ angry ghost:
My grandam told me he was murder’d there.
I fear no uncles dead.
Nor none that live, I hope.
An if they live, I hope, I need not fear.
But come, my lord; and, with a heavy heart,
Thinking on them, go I unto the Tower.
[Sennet. Exeunt all butGloucester, Buckingham,andCatesby.
Think you, my lord, this little prating York
Was not incensed by his subtle mother
To taunt and scorn you thus opprobriously?
No doubt, no doubt: O! ’tis a parlous boy;
Bold, quick, ingenious, forward, capable:
He’s all the mother’s, from the top to toe.
Well, let them rest. Come hither, Catesby; thou art sworn
As deeply to effect what we intend
As closely to conceal what we impart.
Thou know’st our reasons urg’d upon the way:
What think’st thou? is it not an easy matter
To make William Lord Hastings of our mind,
For the instalment of this noble duke
In the seat royal of this famous isle?
He for his father’s sake so loves the prince
That he will not be won to aught against him.
What think’st thou then of Stanley? what will he?
He will do all in all as Hastings doth.
Well then, no more but this: go, gentle Catesby,
And, as it were far off, sound thou Lord Hastings,
How he doth stand affected to our purpose;
And summon him to-morrow to the Tower,
To sit about the coronation.
If thou dost find him tractable to us,
Encourage him, and tell him all our reasons:
If he be leaden, icy-cold, unwilling,
Be thou so too, and so break off the talk,
And give us notice of his inclination;
For we to-morrow hold divided councils,
Wherein thyself shalt highly be employ’d.
Commend me to Lord William: tell him, Catesby,
His ancient knot of dangerous adversaries
To-morrow are let blood at Pomfret Castle;
And bid my lord, for joy of this good news,
Give Mistress Shore one gentle kiss the more.
Good Catesby, go, effect this business soundly.
My good lords both, with all the heed I can.
Shall we hear from you, Catesby, ere we sleep?
You shall, my lord.
At Crosby-place, there shall you find us both.
Now, my lord, what shall we do if we perceive
Lord Hastings will not yield to our complots?
Chop off his head; something we will determine:
And, look, when I am king, claim thou of me
The earldom of Hereford, and all the moveables
Whereof the king my brother stood possess’d.
I’ll claim that promise at your Grace’s hand.
And look to have it yielded with all kindness.
Come, let us sup betimes, that afterwards
We may digest our complots in some form.
The Same. BeforeLord Hastings’ House.
Enter a Messenger.
[Knocking.] My lord! my lord!
[Within.] Who knocks?
One from the Lord Stanley.
[Within.] What is’t o’clock?
Upon the stroke of four.
Cannot my Lord Stanley sleep these tedious nights?
So it appears by that I have to say.
First, he commends him to your noble self.
Then certifies your lordship, that this night
He dreamt the boar had razed off his helm:
Besides, he says there are two councils held;
And that may be determin’d at the one
Which may make you and him to rue at the other.
Therefore he sends to know your lordship’s pleasure,
If you will presently take horse with him,
And with all speed post with him towards the north,
To shun the danger that his soul divines.
Go, fellow, go, return unto thy lord;
Bid him not fear the separated councils:
His honour and myself are at the one,
And at the other is my good friend Catesby;
Where nothing can proceed that toucheth us
Whereof I shall not have intelligence.
Tell him his fears are shallow, wanting instance:
And for his dreams, I wonder he’s so fond
To trust the mockery of unquiet slumbers.
To fly the boar before the boar pursues,
Were to incense the boar to follow us
And make pursuit where he did mean no chase.
Go, bid thy master rise and come to me;
And we will both together to the Tower,
Where, he shall see, the boar will use us kindly.
I’ll go, my lord, and tell him what you say.
Many good morrows to my noble lord!
Good morrow, Catesby; you are early stirring.
What news, what news, in this our tottering state?
It is a reeling world, indeed, my lord;
And I believe will never stand upright
Till Richard wear the garland of the realm.
How! wear the garland! dost thou mean the crown?
Ay, my good lord.
I’ll have this crown of mine cut from my shoulders
Before I’ll see the crown so foul misplac’d.
But canst thou guess that he doth aim at it?
Ay, on my life; and hopes to find you forward
Upon his party for the gain thereof:
And thereupon he sends you this good news,
That this same very day your enemies,
The kindred of the queen, must die at Pomfret.
Indeed, I am no mourner for that news,
Because they have been still my adversaries;
But that I’ll give my voice on Richard’s side,
To bar my master’s heirs in true descent,
God knows I will not do it, to the death.
God keep your lordship in that gracious mind!
But I shall laugh at this a twelve-month hence,
That they which brought me in my master’s hate,
I live to look upon their tragedy.
Well, Catesby, ere a fortnight make me older,
I’ll send some packing that yet think not on’t.
’Tis a vile thing to die, my gracious lord,
When men are unprepar’d and look not for it.
O monstrous, monstrous! and so falls it out
With Rivers, Vaughan, Grey; and so ’twill do
With some men else, who think themselves as safe
As thou and I; who, as thou know’st, are dear
To princely Richard and to Buckingham.
The princes both make high account of you;
[Aside.] For they account his head upon the bridge.
I know they do, and I have well deserv’d it.
Come on, come on; where is your boar-spear, man?
Fear you the boar, and go so unprovided?
My lord, good morrow; good morrow Catesby:
You may jest on, but by the holy rood,
I do not like these several councils, I.
My lord, I hold my life as dear as you do yours;
And never, in my days, I do protest,
Was it so precious to me as ’tis now.
Think you, but that I know our state secure,
I would be so triumphant as I am?
The lords at Pomfret, when they rode from London,
Were jocund and suppos’d their state was sure,
And they indeed had no cause to mistrust;
But yet you see how soon the day o’ercast.
This sudden stab of rancour I misdoubt;
Pray God, I say, I prove a needless coward!
What, shall we toward the Tower? the day is spent.
Come, come, have with you. Wot you what, my lord?
To-day the lords you talk of are beheaded.
They, for their truth, might better wear their heads,
Than some that have accus’d them wear their hats.
But come, my lord, let’s away.
Enter a Pursuivant.
Go on before; I’ll talk with this good fellow.
How now, sirrah! how goes the world with thee?
The better that your lordship please to ask.
I tell thee, man, ’tis better with me now
Than when I met thee last where now we meet:
Then was I going prisoner to the Tower,
By the suggestion of the queen’s allies;
But now, I tell thee,—keep it to thyself,—
This day those enemies are put to death,
And I in better state than e’er I was.
God hold it to your honour’s good content!
Gramercy, fellow: there, drink that for me.
[Throws him his purse.
God save your lordship.
Enter a Priest.
Well met, my lord; I am glad to see your honour.
I thank thee, good Sir John, with all my heart.
I am in your debt for your last exercise;
Come the next Sabbath, and I will content you.
What, talking with a priest, lord chamberlain?
Your friends at Pomfret, they do need the priest:
Your honour hath no shriving work in hand.
Good faith, and when I met this holy man,
The men you talk of came into my mind.
What, go you toward the Tower?
I do, my lord; but long I shall not stay:
I shall return before your lordship thence.
Nay, like enough, for I stay dinner there.
[Aside.] And supper too, although thou know’st it not.
Come, will you go?
I’ll wait upon your lordship.
Pomfret. Before the Castle.
EnterRatcliff,with halberds, carryingRivers, Grey,andVaughanto death.
Sir Richard Ratcliff, let me tell thee this:
To-day shalt thou behold a subject die
For truth, for duty, and for loyalty.
God bless the prince from all the pack of you!
A knot you are of damned blood suckers.
You live that shall cry woe for this hereafter.
Dispatch; the limit of your lives is out.
O Pomfret, Pomfret! O thou bloody prison!
Fatal and ominous to noble peers!
Within the guilty closure of thy walls
Richard the Second here was hack’d to death;
And, for more slander to thy dismal seat,
We give thee up our guitless blood to drink.
Now Margaret’s curse is fall’n upon our heads,
When she exclaim’d on Hastings, you, and I,
For standing by when Richard stabb’d her son.
Then curs’d she Richard, then curs’d she Buckingham,
Then curs’d she Hastings: O! remember, God,
To hear her prayer for them, as now for us;
And for my sister and her princely sons,
Be satisfied, dear God, with our true blood,
Which, as thou know’st, unjustly must be spilt.
Make haste; the hour of death is expiate.
Come, Grey, come, Vaughan; let us here embrace:
And take our leave until we meet in heaven.
London. The Tower.
Buckingham, Stanley, Hastings,theBishop of Ely, Ratcliff, Lovel,and Others, sitting at a table. Officers of the Council attending.
My lords, at once: the cause why we are met
Is to determine of the coronation:
In God’s name, speak, when is the royal day?
Are all things ready for that royal time?
It is; and wants but nomination.
To-morrow then I judge a happy day.
Who knows the Lord Protector’s mind herein?
Who is most inward with the noble duke?
Your Grace, we think, should soonest know his mind.
We know each other’s faces; for our hearts,
He knows no more of mine than I of yours;
Nor I of his, my lord, than you of mine.
Lord Hastings, you and he are near in love.
I thank his Grace, I know he loves me well;
But, for his purpose in the coronation,
I have not sounded him, nor he deliver’d
His gracious pleasure any way therein:
But you, my noble lords, may name the time;
And in the duke’s behalf I’ll give my voice,
Which, I presume, he’ll take in gentle part.
In happy time, here comes the duke himself.
My noble lords and cousins all, good morrow.
I have been long a sleeper; but, I trust,
My absence doth neglect no great design,
Which by my presence might have been concluded.
Had you not come upon your cue, my lord,
William Lord Hastings had pronounc’d your part,
I mean, your voice, for crowning of the king.
Than my Lord Hastings no man might be bolder:
His lordship knows me well, and loves me well.
My Lord of Ely, when I was last in Holborn,
I saw good strawberries in your garden there;
I do beseech you send for some of them.
Marry, and will, my lord, with all my heart.
Cousin of Buckingham, a word with you.
[Takes him aside.
Catesby hath sounded Hastings in our business,
And finds the testy gentleman so hot,
That he will lose his head ere give consent
His master’s child, as worshipfully he terms it,
Shall lose the royalty of England’s throne.
Withdraw yourself a while; I’ll go with you.
We have not yet set down this day of triumph.
To-morrow, in my judgment, is too sudden;
For I myself am not so well provided
As else I would be, were the day prolong’d.
Re-enterBishop of Ely.
Where is my lord, the Duke of Gloucester?
I have sent for these strawberries.
His Grace looks cheerfully and smooth this morning:
There’s some conceit or other likes him well,
When that he bids good morrow with such spirit.
I think there’s never a man in Christendom
Can lesser hide his hate or love than he;
For by his face straight shall you know his heart.
What of his heart perceiv’d you in his face
By any livelihood he show’d to-day?
Marry, that with no man here he is offended;
For, were he, he had shown it in his looks.
I pray you all, tell me what they deserve
That do conspire my death with devilish plots
Of damned witchcraft, and that have prevail’d
Upon my body with their hellish charms?
The tender love I bear your Grace, my lord,
Makes me most forward in this princely presence
To doom th’ offenders, whosoe’er they be:
I say, my lord, they have deserved death.
Then be your eyes the witness of their evil.
Look how I am bewitch’d; behold mine arm
Is like a blasted sapling, wither’d up:
And this is Edward’s wife, that monstrous witch
Consorted with that harlot strumpet Shore,
That by their witchcraft thus have marked me.
If they have done this thing, my noble lord,—
If! thou protector of this damned strumpet,
Talk’st thou to me of ifs? Thou art a traitor:
Off with his head! now, by Saint Paul, I swear,
I will not dine until I see the same.
Lovel and Ratcliff, look that it be done:
The rest, that love me, rise, and follow me.
[Exeunt all butHastings, Ratcliff,andLovel.
Woe, woe, for England! not a whit for me;
For I, too fond, might have prevented this.
Stanley did dream the boar did raze his helm;
And I did scorn it, and disdain’d to fly.
Three times to-day my foot-cloth horse did stumble,
And startled when he looked upon the Tower,
As loath to bear me to the slaughter-house.
O! now I need the priest that spake to me:
I now repent I told the pursuivant,
As too triumphing, how mine enemies
To-day at Pomfret bloodily were butcher’d
And I myself secure in grace and favour.
O Margaret, Margaret! now thy heavy curse
Is lighted on poor Hastings’ wretched head.
Come, come, dispatch; the duke would be at dinner:
Make a short shrift, he longs to see your head.
O momentary grace of mortal man,
Which we more hunt for than the grace of God!
Who builds his hope in air of your good looks,
Lives like a drunken sailor on a mast;
Ready with every nod to tumble down
Into the fatal bowels of the deep.
Come, come, dispatch; ’tis bootless to exclaim.
O bloody Richard! miserable England!
I prophesy the fearfull’st time to thee
That ever wretched age hath look’d upon.
Come, lead me to the block; bear him my head:
They smile at me who shortly shall be dead.
London. The Tower Walls.
EnterGloucesterandBuckingham,in rotten armour, marvellous ill-favoured.
Come, cousin, canst thou quake, and change thy colour,
Murder thy breath in middle of a word,
And then again begin, and stop again,
As if thou wert distraught and mad with terror?
Tut! I can counterfeit the deep tragedian,
Speak and look back, and pry on every side,
Tremble and start at wagging of a straw,
Intending deep suspicion: ghastly looks
Are at my service, like enforced smiles;
And both are ready in their offices,
At any time, to grace my stratagems.
But what! is Catesby gone?
He is; and, see, he brings the mayor along.
Enter the Lord Mayor andCatesby.
Look to the drawbridge there!
Hark! a drum.
Catesby, o’erlook the walls.
Lord Mayor, the reason we have sent,—
Look back, defend thee; here are enemies.
God and our innocency defend and guard us!
Be patient, they are friends, Ratcliff and Lovel.
Here is the head of that ignoble traitor,
The dangerous and unsuspected Hastings.
So dear I lov’d the man, that I must weep.
I took him for the plainest harmless creature
That breath’d upon the earth a Christian;
Made him my book, wherein my soul recorded
The history of all her secret thoughts:
So smooth he daub’d his vice with show of virtue,
That, his apparent open guilt omitted,
I mean his conversation with Shore’s wife,
He liv’d from all attainder of suspect.
Well, well, he was the covert’st shelter’d traitor
That ever liv’d.
Would you imagine, or almost believe,—
Were’t not that by great preservation
We live to tell it, that the subtle traitor
This day had plotted, in the council-house,
To murder me and my good Lord of Gloucester?
Had he done so?
What! think you we are Turks or infidels?
Or that we would, against the form of law,
Proceed thus rashly in the villain’s death,
But that the extreme peril of the case,
The peace of England and our person’s safety,
Enforc’d us to this execution?
Now, fair befall you! he deserv’d his death;
And your good Graces both have well proceeded,
To warn false traitors from the like attempts.
I never look’d for better at his hands,
After he once fell in with Mistress Shore.
Yet had we not determin’d he should die,
Until your lordship came to see his end;
Which now the loving haste of these our friends,
Something against our meaning, hath prevented:
Because, my lord, we would have had you heard
The traitor speak, and timorously confess
The manner and the purpose of his treason;
That you might well have signified the same
Unto the citizens, who haply may
Misconster us in him, and wail his death.
But, my good lord, your Grace’s word shall serve,
As well as I had seen and heard him speak:
And do not doubt, right noble princes both,
But I’ll acquaint our duteous citizens
With all your just proceedings in this cause.
And to that end we wish’d your lordship here,
To avoid the censures of the carping world.
But since you come too late of our intent,
Yet witness what you hear we did intend:
And so, my good Lord Mayor, we bid farewell.
[Exit Lord Mayor.
Go, after, after, cousin Buckingham.
The mayor towards Guildhall hies him in all post:
There, at your meetest vantage of the time,
Infer the bastardy of Edward’s children:
Tell them how Edward put to death a citizen,
Only for saying he would make his son
Heir to the crown; meaning indeed his house,
Which by the sign thereof was termed so.
Moreover, urge his hateful luxury
And bestial appetite in change of lust;
Which stretch’d unto their servants, daughters, wives,
Even where his raging eye or savage heart
Without control lusted to make a prey.
Nay, for a need, thus far come near my person:
Tell them, when that my mother went with child
Of that insatiate Edward, noble York
My princely father then had wars in France;
And, by true computation of the time,
Found that the issue was not his begot;
Which well appeared in his lineaments,
Being nothing like the noble duke my father.
Yet touch this sparingly, as ’twere far off;
Because, my lord, you know my mother lives.
Doubt not, my lord, I’ll play the orator
As if the golden fee for which I plead
Were for myself: and so, my lord, adieu.
If you thrive well, bring them to Baynard’s Castle;
Where you shall find me well accompanied
With reverend fathers and well-learned bishops.
I go; and towards three or four o’clock
Look for the news that the Guildhall affords.
Go, Lovel, with all speed to Doctor Shaw;
[ToCatesby.] Go thou to Friar Penker; bid them both
Meet me within this hour at Baynard’s Castle.
Now will I in, to take some privy order,
To draw the brats of Clarence out of sight;
And to give notice that no manner person
Have any time recourse unto the princes.
The Same. A Street.
Enter a Scrivener.
Here is the indictment of the good Lord Hastings;
Which in a set hand fairly is engross’d,
That it may be to-day read o’er in Paul’s:
And mark how well the sequel hangs together.
Eleven hours I have spent to write it over,
For yesternight by Catesby was it sent me.
The precedent was full as long a-doing;
And yet within these five hours Hastings liv’d,
Untainted, unexamin’d, free, at liberty.
Here’s a good world the while! Who is so gross
That cannot see this palpable device?
Yet who so bold but says he sees it not?
Bad is the world; and all will come to naught,
When such ill dealing must be seen in thought.
The Same. The Court of Baynard’s Castle.
How, now, how now! what say the citizens?
Now, by the holy mother of our Lord,
The citizens are mum, say not a word.
Touch’d you the bastardy of Edward’s children?
I did; with his contract with Lady Lucy,
And his contract by deputy in France;
The insatiate greediness of his desires,
And his enforcement of the city wives;
His tyranny for trifles; his own bastardy,
As being got, your father then in France,
And his resemblance, being not like the duke:
Withal I did infer your lineaments,
Being the right idea of your father,
Both in your form and nobleness of mind;
Laid open all your victories in Scotland,
Your discipline in war, wisdom in peace,
Your bounty, virtue, fair humility;
Indeed, left nothing fitting for your purpose
Untouch’d or slightly handled in discourse;
And when my oratory drew toward end,
I bade them that did love their country’s good
Cry ‘God save Richard, England’s royal king!’
And did they so?
No, so God help me, they spake not a word;
But, like dumb statuas or breathing stones,
Star’d each on other, and look’d deadly pale.
Which when I saw, I reprehended them;
And ask’d the mayor what meant this wilful silence:
His answer was, the people were not wont
To be spoke to but by the recorder.
Then he was urg’d to tell my tale again:
‘Thus saith the duke, thus hath the duke inferr’d;’
But nothing spoke in warrant from himself.
When he had done, some followers of mine own,
At lower end of the hall, hurl’d up their caps,
And some ten voices cried, ‘God save King Richard!’
And thus I took the vantage of those few,
‘Thanks, gentle citizens and friends,’ quoth I;
‘This general applause and cheerful shout
Argues your wisdom and your love to Richard:’
And even here brake off, and came away.
What tongueless blocks were they! would they not speak?
Will not the mayor then and his brethren come?
The mayor is here at hand. Intend some fear;
Be not you spoke with but by mighty suit:
And look you get a prayer-book in your hand,
And stand between two churchmen, good my lord:
For on that ground I’ll make a holy descant:
And be not easily won to our requests;
Play the maid’s part, still answer nay, and take it.
I go; and if you plead as well for them
As I can say nay to thee for myself,
No doubt we bring it to a happy issue.
Go, go, up to the leads! the Lord Mayor knocks.
Enter the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Citizens.
Welcome, my lord: I dance attendance here;
I think the duke will not be spoke withal.
Enter, from the Castle,Catesby.
Now, Catesby! what says your lord to my request?
He doth entreat your Grace, my noble lord,
To visit him to-morrow or next day.
He is within, with two right reverend fathers,
Divinely bent to meditation;
And in no worldly suit would he be mov’d,
To draw him from his holy exercise.
Return, good Catesby, to the gracious duke:
Tell him, myself, the mayor and aldermen,
In deep designs in matter of great moment,
No less importing than our general good,
Are come to have some conference with his Grace.
I’ll signify so much unto him straight.
Ah, ha, my lord, this prince is not an Edward!
He is not lolling on a lewd day-bed,
But on his knees at meditation;
Not dallying with a brace of courtezans,
But meditating with two deep divines;
Not sleeping, to engross his idle body,
But praying, to enrich his watchful soul.
Happy were England, would this virtuous prince
Take on his Grace the sovereignty thereof:
But sore, I fear, we shall not win him to it.
Marry, God defend his Grace should say us nay!
I fear he will. Here Catesby comes again.
Now, Catesby, what says his Grace?
He wonders to what end you have assembled
Such troops of citizens to come to him,
His Grace not being warn’d thereof before:
My lord, he fears you mean no good to him.
Sorry I am my noble cousin should
Suspect me that I mean no good to him.
By heaven, we come to him in perfect love;
And so once more return, and tell his Grace.
When holy and devout religious men
Are at their beads, ’tis much to draw them thence;
So sweet is zealous contemplation.
EnterGloucester,in a gallery above, between two Bishops. Catesbyreturns.
See, where his Grace stands ’tween two clergymen!
Two props of virtue for a Christian prince,
To stay him from the fall of vanity;
And, see, a book of prayer in his hand;
True ornament to know a holy man.
Famous Plantagenet, most gracious prince,
Lend favourable ear to our requests,
And pardon us the interruption
Of thy devotion, and right Christian zeal.
My lord, there needs no such apology;
I do beseech your Grace to pardon me,
Who, earnest in the service of my God,
Deferr’d the visitation of my friends.
But, leaving this, what is your Grace’s pleasure?
Even that, I hope, which pleaseth God above,
And all good men of this ungovern’d isle.
I do suspect I have done some offence
That seems disgracious in the city’s eye;
And that you come to reprehend my ignorance.
You have, my lord: would it might please your Grace,
On our entreaties to amend your fault!
Else wherefore breathe I in a Christian land?
Know then, it is your fault that you resign
The supreme seat, the throne majestical,
The sceptred office of your ancestors,
Your state of fortune and your due of birth,
The lineal glory of your royal house,
To the corruption of a blemish’d stock;
Whiles, in the mildness of your sleepy thoughts,—
Which here we waken to our country’s good,—
This noble isle doth want her proper limbs;
Her face defac’d with scars of infamy,
Her royal stock graft with ignoble plants,
And almost shoulder’d in the swallowing gulf
Of dark forgetfulness and deep oblivion.
Which to recure we heartily solicit
Your gracious self to take on you the charge
And kingly government of this your land;
Not as protector, steward, substitute,
Or lowly factor for another’s gain;
But as successively from blood to blood,
Your right of birth, your empery, your own.
For this, consorted with the citizens,
Your very worshipful and loving friends,
And by their vehement instigation,
In this just cause come I to move your Grace.
I cannot tell, if to depart in silence
Or bitterly to speak in your reproof,
Best fitteth my degree or your condition:
If not to answer, you might haply think
Tongue-tied ambition, not replying, yielded
To bear the golden yoke of sov’reignty,
Which fondly you would here impose on me;
If to reprove you for this suit of yours,
So season’d with your faithful love to me,
Then, on the other side, I check’d my friends.
Therefore, to speak, and to avoid the first,
And then, in speaking, not to incur the last,
Definitively thus I answer you.
Your love deserves my thanks; but my desert
Unmeritable shuns your high request.
First, if all obstacles were cut away,
And that my path were even to the crown,
As the ripe revenue and due of birth,
Yet so much is my poverty of spirit,
So mighty and so many my defects,
That I would rather hide me from my greatness,
Being a bark to brook no mighty sea,
Than in my greatness covet to be hid,
And in the vapour of my glory smother’d.
But, God be thank’d, there is no need of me;
And much I need to help you, were there need;
The royal tree hath left us royal fruit,
Which, mellow’d by the stealing hours of time,
Will well become the seat of majesty,
And make, no doubt, us happy by his reign.
On him I lay that you would lay on me,
The right and fortune of his happy stars;
Which God defend that I should wring from him!
My lord, this argues conscience in your Grace;
But the respects thereof are nice and trivial,
All circumstances well considered.
You say that Edward is your brother’s son:
So say we too, but not by Edward’s wife;
For first was he contract to Lady Lucy,
Your mother lives a witness to his vow,
And afterward by substitute betroth’d
To Bona, sister to the King of France.
These both put by, a poor petitioner,
A care-craz’d mother to a many sons,
A beauty-waning and distressed widow,
Even in the afternoon of her best days,
Made prize and purchase of his wanton eye,
Seduc’d the pitch and height of his degree
To base declension and loath’d bigamy:
By her, in his unlawful bed, he got
This Edward, whom our manners call the prince.
More bitterly could I expostulate,
Save that, for reverence to some alive,
I give a sparing limit to my tongue.
Then, good my lord, take to your royal self
This proffer’d benefit of dignity;
If not to bless us and the land withal,
Yet to draw forth your noble ancestry
From the corruption of abusing times,
Unto a lineal true-derived course.
Do, good my lord; your citizens entreat you.
Refuse not, mighty lord, this proffer’d love.
O! make them joyful: grant their lawful suit:
Alas! why would you heap those cares on me?
I am unfit for state and majesty:
I do beseech you, take it not amiss,
I cannot nor I will not yield to you.
If you refuse it, as, in love and zeal,
Loath to depose the child, your brother’s son;
As well we know your tenderness of heart
And gentle, kind, effeminate remorse,
Which we have noted in you to your kindred,
And egally, indeed, to all estates,
Yet whether you accept our suit or no,
Your brother’s son shall never reign our king;
But we will plant some other in the throne,
To the disgrace and downfall of your house:
And in this resolution here we leave you.
Come, citizens, we will entreat no more.
Call them again, sweet prince; accept their suit:
If you deny them, all the land will rue it.
Will you enforce me to a world of cares?
Call them again: I am not made of stone,
But penetrable to your kind entreats,
Albeit against my conscience and my soul.
Re-enterBuckinghamand the rest.
Cousin of Buckingham, and sage, grave men,
Since you will buckle fortune on my back,
To bear her burden, whe’r I will or no,
I must have patience to endure the load:
But if black scandal or foul-fac’d reproach
Attend the sequel of your imposition,
Your mere enforcement shall acquittance me
From all the impure blots and stains thereof;
For God doth know, and you may partly see,
How far I am from the desire of this.
God bless your Grace! we see it, and will say it.
In saying so, you shall but say the truth.
Then I salute you with this royal title:
Long live King Richard, England’s worthy king!
To-morrow may it please you to be crown’d?
Even when you please, for you will have it so.
To-morrow then we will attend your Grace:
And so most joyfully we take our leave.
[To the Bishops.] Come, let us to our holy work again.
Farewell, my cousin;—farewell, gentle friends.