Front Page Titles (by Subject) Scene IV.—: The Same. Before the Palace. - The Tragedy of King Richard the Third
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Scene IV.—: The Same. Before the Palace. - 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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The Same. Before the Palace.
So, now prosperity begins to mellow
And drop into the rotten mouth of death.
Here in these confines slily have I lurk’d
To watch the waning of mine enemies.
A dire induction am I witness to,
And will to France, hoping the consequence
Will prove as bitter, black, and tragical.
Withdraw thee, wretched Margaret: who comes here?
EnterQueen Elizabethand theDuchess of York.
Ah! my poor princes! ah, my tender babes,
My unblown flowers, new-appearing sweets,
If yet your gentle souls fly in the air
And be not fix’d in doom perpetual,
Hover about me with your airy wings,
And hear your mother’s lamentation.
Hover about her; say, that right for right
Hath dimm’d your infant morn to aged night.
So many miseries have craz’d my voice,
That my woe-wearied tongue is still and mute.
Edward Plantagenet, why art thou dead?
Plantagenet doth quit Plantagenet;
Edward for Edward pays a dying debt.
Wilt thou, O God! fly from such gentle lambs,
And throw them in the entrails of the wolf?
When didst thou sleep when such a deed was done?
When holy Harry died, and my sweet son.
Dead life, blind sight, poor mortal living ghost,
Woe’s scene, world’s shame, grave’s due by life usurp’d,
Brief abstract and record of tedious days,
Rest thy unrest on England’s lawful earth,
Unlawfully made drunk with innocent blood!
Ah! that thou wouldst as soon afford a grave
As thou canst yield a melancholy seat;
Then would I hide my bones, not rest them here.
Ah! who hath any cause to mourn but I?
[Sitting down by her.
If ancient sorrow be most reverend,
Give mine the benefit of seniory,
And let my griefs frown on the upper hand,
If sorrow can admit society.
[Sitting down with them.
Tell o’er your woes again by viewing mine:
I had an Edward, till a Richard kill’d him;
I had a Harry, till a Richard kill’d him:
Thou hadst an Edward, till a Richard kill’d him;
Thou hadst a Richard, till a Richard kill’d him.
I had a Richard too, and thou didst kill him;
I had a Rutland too, thou holp’st to kill him.
Thou hadst a Clarence too, and Richard kill’d him.
From forth the kennel of thy womb hath crept
A hellhound that doth hunt us all to death:
That dog, that had his teeth before his eyes,
To worry lambs, and lap their gentle blood,
That foul defacer of God’s handiwork,
That excellent grand-tyrant of the earth,
That reigns in galled eyes of weeping souls,
Thy womb let loose, to chase us to our graves.
O! upright, just, and true-disposing God,
How do I thank thee that this carnal cur
Preys on the issue of his mother’s body,
And makes her pew-fellow with others’ moan.
O! Harry’s wife, triumph not in my woes:
God witness with me, I have wept for thine.
Bear with me; I am hungry for revenge,
And now I cloy me with beholding it.
Thy Edward he is dead, that kill’d my Edward;
Thy other Edward dead, to quit my Edward;
Young York he is but boot, because both they
Match not the high perfection of my loss:
Thy Clarence he is dead that stabb’d my Edward;
And the beholders of this tragic play,
The adulterate Hastings, Rivers, Vaughan, Grey,
Untimely smother’d in their dusky graves.
Richard yet lives, hell’s black intelligencer,
Only reserv’d their factor, to buy souls
And send them thither; but at hand, at hand,
Ensues his piteous and unpitied end:
Earth gapes, hell burns, fiends roar, saints pray,
To have him suddenly convey’d from hence.
Cancel his bond of life, dear God! I pray,
That I may live to say, The dog is dead.
O! thou didst prophesy the time would come
That I should wish for thee to help me curse
That bottled spider, that foul bunchback’d toad.
I call’d thee then vain flourish of my fortune;
I call’d thee then poor shadow, painted queen;
The presentation of but what I was;
The flattering index of a direful pageant;
One heav’d a-high to be hurl’d down below;
A mother only mock’d with two fair babes;
A dream of what thou wert, a breath, a bubble,
A sign of dignity, a garish flag,
To be the aim of every dangerous shot;
A queen in jest, only to fill the scene.
Where is thy husband now? where be thy brothers?
Where are thy children? wherein dost thou joy?
Who sues and kneels and cries God save the queen?
Where be the bending peers that flatter’d thee?
Where be the thronging troops that follow’d thee?
Decline all this, and see what now thou art:
For happy wife, a most distressed widow;
For joyful mother, one that wails the name;
For one being su’d to, one that humbly sues;
For queen, a very caitiff crown’d with care;
For one that scorn’d at me, now scorn’d of me;
For one being fear’d of all, now fearing one;
For one commanding all, obey’d of none.
Thus hath the course of justice whirl’d about,
And left thee but a very prey to time;
Having no more but thought of what thou wert,
To torture thee the more, being what thou art.
Thou didst usurp my place, and dost thou not
Usurp the just proportion of my sorrow?
Now thy proud neck bears half my burden’d yoke;
From which even here, I slip my wearied head,
And leave the burden of it all on thee.
Farewell, York’s wife, and queen of sad mischance:
These English woes shall make me smile in France.
O thou, well skill’d in curses, stay awhile,
And teach me how to curse mine enemies.
Forbear to sleep the night, and fast the day;
Compare dead happiness with living woe;
Think that thy babes were fairer than they were,
And he that slew them fouler than he is:
Bettering thy loss makes the bad causer worse:
Revolving this will teach thee how to curse.
My words are dull; O! quicken them with thine!
Thy woes will make them sharp, and pierce like mine.
Why should calamity be full of words?
Windy attorneys to their client woes,
Airy succeeders of intestate joys,
Poor breathing orators of miseries!
Let them have scope: though what they do impart
Help nothing else, yet do they ease the heart.
If so, then be not tongue-tied: go with me,
And in the breath of bitter words let’s smother
My damned son, that thy two sweet sons smother’d.
[A trumpet heard.
The trumpet sounds: be copious in exclaims.
EnterKing Richard,and his Train, marching.
Who intercepts me in my expedition?
O! she that might have intercepted thee,
By strangling thee in her accursed womb,
From all the slaughters, wretch, that thou hast done!
Hid’st thou that forehead with a golden crown,
Where should be branded, if that right were right,
The slaughter of the prince that ow’d that crown,
And the dire death of my poor sons and brothers?
Tell me, thou villain slave, where are my children?
Thou toad, thou toad, where is thy brother Clarence
And little Ned Plantagenet, his son?
Where is the gentle Rivers, Vaughan, Grey?
Where is kind Hastings?
A flourish, trumpets! strike alarum, drums!
Let not the heavens hear these tell-tale women
Rail on the Lord’s anointed. Strike, I say!
Either be patient, and entreat me fair,
Or with the clamorous report of war
Thus will I drown your exclamations.
Art thou my son?
Ay; I thank God, my father, and yourself.
Then patiently hear my impatience.
Madam, I have a touch of your condition,
That cannot brook the accent of reproof.
O, let me speak!
Do, then; but I’ll not hear.
I will be mild and gentle in my words.
And brief, good mother; for I am in haste.
Art thou so hasty? I have stay’d for thee,
God knows, in torment and in agony.
And came I not at last to comfort you?
No, by the holy rood, thou know’st it well,
Thou cam’st on earth to make the earth my hell.
A grievous burden was thy birth to me;
Tetchy and wayward was thy infancy;
Thy school-days frightful, desperate, wild and furious;
Thy prime of manhood daring, bold, and venturous;
Thy age confirm’d, proud, subtle, sly, and bloody,
More mild, but yet more harmful, kind in hatred:
What comfortable hour canst thou name
That ever grac’d me in thy company?
Faith, none, but Humphrey Hour, that call’d your Grace
To breakfast once forth of my company.
If I be so disgracious in your eye,
Let me march on, and not offend you, madam.
Strike up the drum!
I prithee, hear me speak.
You speak too bitterly.
Hear me a word;
For I shall never speak to thee again.
Either thou wilt die by God’s just ordinance,
Ere from this war thou turn a conqueror;
Or I with grief and extreme age shall perish
And never look upon thy face again.
Therefore take with thee my most grievous curse,
Which, in the day of battle, tire thee more
Than all the complete armour that thou wear’st!
My prayers on the adverse party fight;
And there the little souls of Edward’s children
Whisper the spirits of thine enemies
And promise them success and victory.
Bloody thou art, bloody will be thy end;
Shame serves thy life and doth thy death attend.
Though far more cause, yet much less spirit to curse
Abides in me: I say amen to her.
Stay, madam; I must talk a word with you.
I have no moe sons of the royal blood
For thee to slaughter: for my daughters, Richard,
They shall be praying nuns, not weeping queens;
And therefore level not to hit their lives.
You have a daughter call’d Elizabeth,
Virtuous and fair, royal and gracious.
And must she die for this? O! let her live,
And I’ll corrupt her manners, stain her beauty;
Slander myself as false to Edward’s bed;
Throw over her the veil of infamy:
So she may live unscarr’d of bleeding slaughter,
I will confess she was not Edward’s daughter.
Wrong not her birth; she is of royal blood.
To save her life, I’ll say she is not so.
Her life is safest only in her birth.
And only in that safety died her brothers.
Lo! at their births good stars were opposite!
No, to their lives ill friends were contrary.
All unavoided is the doom of destiny.
True, when avoided grace makes destiny.
My babes were destin’d to a fairer death,
If grace had bless’d thee with a fairer life.
You speak as if that I had slain my cousins.
Cousins, indeed; and by their uncle cozen’d
Of comfort, kingdom, kindred, freedom, life.
Whose hands soever lanc’d their tender hearts
Thy head, all indirectly, gave direction:
No doubt the murderous knife was dull and blunt
Till it was whetted on thy stone-hard heart,
To revel in the entrails of my lambs.
But that still use of grief makes wild grief tame,
My tongue should to thy ears not name my boys
Till that my nails were anchor’d in thine eyes;
And I, in such a desperate bay of death,
Like a poor bark, of sails and tackling reft,
Rush all to pieces on thy rocky bosom.
Madam, so thrive I in my enterprise
And dangerous success of bloody wars,
As I intend more good to you and yours
Than ever you or yours by me were harm’d.
What good is cover’d with the face of heaven,
To be discover’d, that can do me good?
The advancement of your children, gentle lady.
Up to some scaffold, there to lose their heads?
No, to the dignity and height of fortune,
The high imperial type of this earth’s glory.
Flatter my sorrow with report of it:
Tell me what state, what dignity, what honour,
Canst thou demise to any child of mine?
Even all I have; ay, and myself and all,
Will I withal endow a child of thine;
So in the Lethe of thy angry soul
Thou drown the sad remembrance of those wrongs
Which thou supposest I have done to thee.
Be brief, lest that the process of thy kindness
Last longer telling than thy kindness’ date.
Then know, that from my soul I love thy daughter.
My daughter’s mother thinks it with her soul.
What do you think?
That thou dost love my daughter from thy soul:
So from thy soul’s love didst thou love her brothers;
And from my heart’s love I do thank thee for it.
Be not too hasty to confound my meaning:
I mean, that with my soul I love thy daughter,
And do intend to make her Queen of England.
Well then, who dost thou mean shall be her king?
Even he that makes her queen: who else should be?
Even so: what think you of it?
How canst thou woo her?
That I would learn of you,
As one being best acquainted with her humour.
And wilt thou learn of me?
Madam, with all my heart.
Send to her, by the man that slew her brothers,
A pair of bleeding hearts; thereon engrave
Edward and York; then haply will she weep:
Therefore present to her, as sometime Margaret
Did to thy father, steep’d in Rutland’s blood,
A handkerchief, which, say to her, did drain
The purple sap from her sweet brother’s body,
And bid her wipe her weeping eyes withal.
If this inducement move her not to love,
Send her a letter of thy noble deeds;
Tell her thou mad’st away her uncle Clarence,
Her uncle Rivers; ay, and for her sake,
Mad’st quick conveyance with her good aunt Anne.
You mock me, madam; this is not the way
To win your daughter.
There is no other way
Unless thou couldst put on some other shape,
And not be Richard that hath done all this.
Say, that I did all this for love of her?
Nay, then indeed, she cannot choose but hate thee,
Having bought love with such a bloody spoil.
Look, what is done cannot be now amended:
Men shall deal unadvisedly sometimes,
Which after-hours give leisure to repent.
If I did take the kingdom from your sons,
To make amends I’ll give it to your daughter.
If I have kill’d the issue of your womb,
To quicken your increase, I will beget
Mine issue of your blood upon your daughter:
A grandam’s name is little less in love
Than is the doting title of a mother;
They are as children but one step below,
Even of your mettle, of your very blood;
Of all one pain, save for a night of groans
Endur’d of her for whom you bid like sorrow.
Your children were vexation to your youth,
But mine shall be a comfort to your age.
The loss you have is but a son being king,
And by that loss your daughter is made queen.
I cannot make you what amends I would,
Therefore accept such kindness as I can.
Dorset your son, that with a fearful soul
Leads discontented steps in foreign soil,
This fair alliance quickly shall call home
To high promotions and great dignity:
The king that calls your beauteous daughter wife,
Familiarly shall call thy Dorset brother;
Again shall you be mother to a king,
And all the ruins of distressful times
Repair’d with double riches of content.
What! we have many goodly days to see:
The liquid drops of tears that you have shed
Shall come again, transform’d to orient pearl,
Advantaging their loan with interest
Of ten times double gain of happiness.
Go then, my mother; to thy daughter go:
Make bold her bashful years with your experience;
Prepare her ears to hear a wooer’s tale;
Put in her tender heart the aspiring flame
Of golden sovereignty; acquaint the princess
With the sweet silent hours of marriage joys:
And when this arm of mine hath chastised
The petty rebel, dull-brain’d Buckingham,
Bound with triumphant garlands will I come,
And lead thy daughter to a conqueror’s bed;
To whom I will retail my conquest won,
And she shall be sole victress, Cæsar’s Cæsar.
What were I best to say? her father’s brother
Would be her lord? Or shall I say, her uncle?
Or, he that slew her brothers and her uncles?
Under what title shall I woo for thee,
That God, the law, my honour, and her love
Can make seem pleasing to her tender years?
Infer fair England’s peace by this alliance.
Which she shall purchase with still lasting war.
Tell her, the king, that may command, entreats.
That at her hands which the king’s King forbids.
Say, she shall be a high and mighty queen.
To wail the title, as her mother doth.
Say, I will love her everlastingly.
But how long shall that title ‘ever’ last?
Sweetly in force unto her fair life’s end.
But how long fairly shall her sweet life last?
As long as heaven and nature lengthens it.
As long as hell and Richard likes of it.
Say, I, her sovereign, am her subject low.
But she, your subject, loathes such sovereignty.
Be eloquent in my behalf to her.
An honest tale speeds best being plainly told.
Then plainly to her tell my loving tale.
Plain and not honest is too harsh a style.
Your reasons are too shallow and too quick.
O, no! my reasons are too deep and dead;
Too deep and dead, poor infants, in their graves.
Harp not on that string, madam; that is past.
Harp on it still shall I till heart-strings break.
Now, by my George, my garter, and my crown,—
Profan’d, dishonour’d, and the third usurp’d.
By nothing; for this is no oath.
Thy George, profan’d, hath lost his holy honour;
Thy garter, blemish’d, pawn’d his knightly virtue;
Thy crown, usurp’d, disgrac’d his kingly glory.
If something thou wouldst swear to be believ’d,
Swear, then, by something that thou hast not wrong’d.
Now, by the world,—
’Tis full of thy foul wrongs.
My father’s death,—
Thy life hath that dishonour’d.
Then, by myself,—
Thyself is self-misus’d.
Why, then, by God,—
God’s wrong is most of all.
If thou hadst fear’d to break an oath by him,
The unity the king my husband made
Had not been broken, nor my brothers died:
If thou hadst fear’d to break an oath by him,
The imperial metal, circling now thy head,
Had grac’d the tender temples of my child,
And both the princes had been breathing here,
Which now, too tender bed-fellows for dust,
Thy broken faith hath made a prey for worms.
What canst thou swear by now?
The time to come.
That thou hast wronged in the time o’erpast;
For I myself have many tears to wash
Hereafter time for time past wrong’d by thee.
The children live, whose parents thou hast slaughter’d,
Ungovern’d youth, to wail it in their age:
The parents live, whose children thou hast butcher’d,
Old barren plants, to wail it with their age.
Swear not by time to come; for that thou hast
Misus’d ere us’d, by times ill-us’d o’erpast.
As I intend to prosper, and repent,
So thrive I in my dangerous affairs
Of hostile arms! myself myself confound!
Heaven and fortune bar me happy hours!
Day, yield me not thy light; nor, night, thy rest!
Be opposite all planets of good luck
To my proceeding, if, with pure heart’s love,
Immaculate devotion, holy thoughts,
I tender not thy beauteous princely daughter!
In her consists my happiness and thine;
Without her, follows to myself, and thee,
Herself, the land, and many a Christian soul,
Death, desolation, ruin, and decay:
It cannot be avoided but by this;
It will not be avoided but by this.
Therefore, dear mother,—I must call you so,—
Be the attorney of my love to her:
Plead what I will be, not what I have been;
Not my deserts, but what I will deserve:
Urge the necessity and state of times,
And be not peevish-fond in great designs.
Shall I be tempted of the devil thus?
Ay, if the devil tempt thee to do good.
Shall I forget myself to be myself?
Ay, if your self’s remembrance wrong yourself.
Yet thou didst kill my children.
But in your daughter’s womb I bury them:
Where, in that nest of spicery, they shall breed
Selves of themselves, to your recomforture.
Shall I go win my daughter to thy will?
And be a happy mother by the deed.
I go. Write to me very shortly,
And you shall understand from me her mind.
Bear her my true love’s kiss; and so farewell.
[Kissing her. ExitQueen Elizabeth.
Relenting fool, and shallow changing woman!
How now! what news?
Most mighty sovereign, on the western coast
Rideth a puissant navy; to the shores
Throng many doubtful hollow-hearted friends,
Unarm’d, and unresolv’d to beat them back.
’Tis thought that Richmond is their admiral;
And there they hull, expecting but the aid
Of Buckingham to welcome them ashore.
Some light-foot friend post to the Duke of Norfolk:
Ratcliff, thyself, or Catesby; where is he?
Here, my good lord.
Catesby, fly to the duke.
I will, my lord, with all convenient haste.
Ratcliff, come hither. Post to Salisbury:
When thou com’st thither,—[ToCatesby.] Dull, unmindful villain,
Why stay’st thou here, and go’st not to the duke?
First, mighty liege, tell me your highness’ pleasure,
What from your Grace I shall deliver to him.
O! true, good Catesby: bid him levy straight
The greatest strength and power he can make,
And meet me suddenly at Salisbury.
What, may it please you, shall I do at Salisbury?
Why, what wouldst thou do there before I go?
Your highness told me I should post before.
My mind is chang’d. Stanley, what news with you?
None good, my liege, to please you with the hearing;
Nor none so bad but well may be reported.
Hoyday, a riddle! neither good nor bad!
What need’st thou run so many miles about,
When thou mayst tell thy tale the nearest way?
Once more, what news?
Richmond is on the seas.
There let him sink, and be the seas on him!
White-liver’d runagate! what doth he there?
I know not, mighty sovereign, but by guess.
Well, as you guess?
Stirr’d up by Dorset, Buckingham, and Morton,
He makes for England, here to claim the crown.
Is the chair empty? is the sword unsway’d?
Is the king dead? the empire unpossess’d?
What heir of York is there alive but we?
And who is England’s king but great York’s heir?
Then, tell me, what makes he upon the seas?
Unless for that, my liege, I cannot guess.
Unless for that he comes to be your liege,
You cannot guess wherefore the Welshman comes.
Thou wilt revolt and fly to him I fear.
No, my good lord; therefore mistrust me not.
Where is thy power then to beat him back?
Where be thy tenants and thy followers?
Are they not now upon the western shore,
Safe-conducting the rebels from their ships?
No, my good lord, my friends are in the north.
Cold friends to me: what do they in the north
When they should serve their sovereign in the west?
They have not been commanded, mighty king:
Pleaseth your majesty to give me leave,
I’ll muster up my friends, and meet your Grace,
Where and what time your majesty shall please.
Ay, ay, thou wouldst be gone to join with Richmond:
But I’ll not trust thee.
Most mighty sovereign,
You have no cause to hold my friendship doubtful.
I never was nor never will be false.
Go then and muster men: but leave behind
Your son, George Stanley: look your heart be firm,
Or else his head’s assurance is but frail.
So deal with him as I prove true to you.
Enter a Messenger.
My gracious sovereign, now in Devonshire,
As I by friends am well advertised,
Sir Edward Courtney, and the haughty prelate,
Bishop of Exeter, his brother there,
With many moe confederates are in arms.
Enter a second Messenger.
In Kent, my liege, the Guildfords are in arms;
And every hour more competitors
Flock to the rebels, and their power grows strong.
Enter a third Messenger.
My lord, the army of great Buckingham—
Out on ye, owls! nothing but songs of death?
[He strikes him.
There, take thou that, till thou bring better news.
The news I have to tell your majesty
Is, that by sudden floods and fall of waters,
Buckingham’s army is dispers’d and scatter’d;
And he himself wander’d away alone,
No man knows whither.
I cry thee mercy:
There is my purse, to cure that blow of thine.
Hath any well-advised friend proclaim’d
Reward to him that brings the traitor in?
Such proclamation hath been made, my liege.
Enter a fourth Messenger.
Sir Thomas Lovel, and Lord Marquess Dorset,
’Tis said, my liege, in Yorkshire are in arms:
But this good comfort bring I to your highness,
The Breton navy is dispers’d by tempest.
Richmond, in Dorsetshire, sent out a boat
Unto the shore to ask those on the banks
If they were his assistants, yea or no;
Who answer’d him, they came from Buckingham
Upon his party: he, mistrusting them,
Hois’d sail, and made away for Brittany.
March on, march on, since we are up in arms;
If not to fight with foreign enemies,
Yet to beat down these rebels here at home.
My liege, the Duke of Buckingham is taken,
That is the best news: that the Earl of Richmond
Is with a mighty power landed at Milford
Is colder news, but yet they must be told.
Away towards Salisbury! while we reason here,
A royal battle might be won and lost.
Some one take order Buckingham be brought
To Salisbury; the rest march on with me.