By William Shakespeare
Edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine
with Michael Poston and Rebecca Niles
Folger Shakespeare Library
Created on Jul 31, 2015, from FDT version 0.9.2.
Characters in the Play
RICHARD, Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard III
LADY ANNE, widow of Edward, son to the late King Henry VI; later wife to Richard
KING EDWARD IV, brother to Richard
QUEEN ELIZABETH, Edward’s wife, formerly the Lady Grey
RICHARD, DUKE OF YORK
GEORGE, DUKE OF CLARENCE, brother to Edward and Richard
DUCHESS OF YORK, mother of Richard, Edward, and Clarence
QUEEN MARGARET, widow of King Henry VI
DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM
WILLIAM, LORD HASTINGS, Lord Chamberlain
LORD STANLEY, Earl of Derby
EARL RIVERS, brother to Queen Elizabeth
Sons of Queen Elizabeth by her former marriage:
MARQUESS OF DORSET
SIR THOMAS VAUGHAN
SIR WILLIAM CATESBY
SIR RICHARD RATCLIFFE
DUKE OF NORFOLK
EARL OF SURREY
EARL OF RICHMOND, Henry Tudor, later King Henry VII
EARL OF OXFORD
SIR JAMES BLUNT
SIR WALTER HERBERT
SIR WILLIAM BRANDON
SIR CHRISTOPHER, a priest
JOHN MORTON, BISHOP OF ELY
SIR ROBERT BRAKENBURY, Lieutenant of the Tower in London
JAMES TYRREL, gentleman
GENTLEMAN, attending Lady Anne
KEEPER in the Tower
LORD MAYOR of London
SIR JOHN, a priest
GHOSTS of King Henry VI, his son Prince Edward, Clarence, Rivers, Grey, Vaughan, the two Princes, Hastings, Lady Anne, and Buckingham
Guards, Tressel, Berkeley, Halberds, Gentlemen, Anthony Woodeville and Lord Scales (brothers to Queen Elizabeth), Two Bishops, Sir William Brandon, Lords, Attendants, Citizens, Aldermen, Councillors, Soldiers
Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester, alone.
Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this son of York,
And all the clouds that loured upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths,
Our bruisèd arms hung up for monuments,
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barbèd 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 shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking glass;
I, that am rudely stamped and want love’s majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinished, 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 determinèd 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 mewed up
About a prophecy which says that “G”
Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be.
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul. Here Clarence
Enter Clarence, guarded, and Brakenbury.
Brother, good day. What means this armèd guard
That waits upon your Grace?
CLARENCE His Majesty,
Tend’ring my person’s safety, hath appointed
This conduct to convey me to the Tower.
Upon what cause?
CLARENCE Because my name is
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 christened 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 crossrow 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
Hath moved his Highness to commit me now.
Why, this it is when men are ruled 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,
Anthony Woodeville, her brother there,
That made him send Lord Hastings to the Tower,
From whence this present day he is delivered?
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 an 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 favor with the King,
To be her men and wear her livery.
The jealous o’erworn widow and herself,
Since that our brother dubbed 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 naught to do.
Naught to do with Mistress Shore? I tell thee,
He that doth naught with her, excepting one,
Were best to do it secretly, alone.
I do 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.
CLARENCE I must, perforce. Farewell.
Exit Clarence, 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-delivered Hastings?
Enter Lord Hastings.
Good time of day unto my gracious lord.
As much unto my good Lord Chamberlain.
Well are you welcome to the open air.
How hath your Lordship brooked 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 prevailed as much on him as you.
More pity that the eagles should be mewed,
Whiles kites and buzzards prey at liberty.
RICHARD 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 John, that news is bad indeed.
O, he hath kept an evil diet long,
And overmuch consumed his royal person.
’Tis very grievous to be thought upon.
Where is he, in his bed?
HASTINGS He is.
Go you before, and I will follow you.
He cannot live, I hope, and must not die
Till George be packed with post-horse up to heaven.
I’ll in to urge his hatred more to Clarence
With lies well steeled 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 killed 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.
Enter the corse of Henry the Sixth on a bier, with
Halberds to guard it, Lady Anne being the mourner,
accompanied by Gentlemen.
Set down, set down your honorable load,
If honor may be shrouded in a hearse,
Whilst I awhile obsequiously lament
Th’ untimely fall of virtuous Lancaster.
They set down the bier.
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 slaughtered son,
Stabbed by the selfsame hand that made these
Lo, in these windows that let forth thy life
I pour the helpless balm of my poor eyes.
O, cursèd be the hand that made these holes;
Cursèd the heart that had the heart to do it;
Cursèd 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 wolves, to spiders, toads,
Or any creeping venomed 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 towards Chertsey with your holy load,
Taken from Paul’s to be interrèd there.
They take up the bier.
And still, as you are weary of this weight,
Rest you, whiles I lament King Henry’s corse.
Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester.
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.
Unmannered 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.
They set down the bier.
ANNE, to the Gentlemen and Halberds
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 begone.
Sweet saint, for charity, be not so curst.
Foul devil, for God’s sake, hence, and trouble us
For thou hast made the happy Earth thy hell,
Filled it with cursing cries and deep exclaims.
If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds,
Behold this pattern of thy butcheries.
She points to the corpse.
O, gentlemen, see, see dead Henry’s wounds
Open their congealed 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 deeds, 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
Either heaven with lightning strike the murderer
Or Earth gape open wide and eat him quick,
As thou dost swallow up this good king’s blood,
Which his hell-governed arm hath butcherèd.
Lady, you know no rules of charity,
Which renders good for bad, blessings for curses.
Villain, thou know’st nor 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 supposèd crimes to give me leave
By circumstance but to acquit myself.
Vouchsafe, defused infection of a man,
Of these known evils but to give me leave
By circumstance to curse thy cursèd 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 shalt thou stand excused
For doing worthy vengeance on thyself
That didst unworthy slaughter upon others.
RICHARD Say that I slew them not.
ANNE Then say they were not slain.
But dead they are, and, devilish slave, by thee.
RICHARD I did not kill your husband.
ANNE Why then, he is alive.
Nay, he is dead, and slain by Edward’s hands.
In thy foul throat thou liest. Queen Margaret saw
Thy murd’rous falchion smoking in his blood,
The which thou once didst bend against her breast,
But that thy brothers beat aside the point.
I was provokèd by her sland’rous tongue,
That laid their guilt upon my guiltless shoulders.
Thou wast provokèd by thy bloody mind,
That never dream’st on aught but butcheries.
Didst thou not kill this king?
RICHARD I grant you.
Dost grant me, hedgehog? Then, God grant me too
Thou mayst be damnèd for that wicked deed.
O, he was gentle, mild, and virtuous.
The better for the King of heaven that hath him.
He is in heaven, where thou shalt never come.
Let him thank me, that holp 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 hear me name it.
ANNE Some dungeon.
RICHARD Your bedchamber.
Ill rest betide the chamber where thou liest!
So will it, madam, till I lie with you.
I hope so.
RICHARD I know so. But, gentle Lady Anne,
To leave this keen encounter of our wits
And fall something 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 accursed 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 I might live one hour in your sweet bosom.
If I thought that, I tell thee, homicide,
These nails should rend that beauty from my
These eyes could not endure that beauty’s wrack.
You should not blemish it, if I stood by.
As all the world is cheerèd 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 revenged on thee.
It is a quarrel most unnatural
To be revenged on him that loveth thee.
It is a quarrel just and reasonable
To be revenged on him that killed 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.
ANNE Why, that was he.
The selfsame name, but one of better nature.
Where is he?
RICHARD Here. (She spits 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
Shamed 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-faced Clifford shook his sword at him;
Nor when thy warlike 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 bedashed 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
I never sued to friend nor enemy;
My tongue could never learn sweet smoothing word.
But now thy beauty is proposed 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 naked to the deadly stroke
And humbly beg the death upon my knee.
He kneels and 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 provokèd me.
Nay, now dispatch; ’twas I that stabbed young
But ’twas thy heavenly face that set me on.
She falls 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.
RICHARD 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 accessory.
ANNE I would I knew thy heart.
RICHARD ’Tis figured in my tongue.
ANNE I fear me both are false.
RICHARD Then never was man true.
ANNE Well, well, put up your sword.
RICHARD Say then my peace is made.
ANNE That shalt thou know hereafter.
RICHARD But shall I live in hope?
ANNE All men I hope live so.
RICHARD Vouchsafe to wear this ring.
ANNE To take is not to give.
He places the ring on her hand.
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 favor at thy gracious hand,
Thou dost confirm his happiness forever.
ANNE 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 House,
Where, after I have solemnly interred
At Chertsey monast’ry 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.
ANNE ’Tis more than you deserve;
But since you teach me how to flatter you,
Imagine I have said “farewell” already.
Two exit with Anne. The bier is taken up.
GENTLEMAN Towards Chertsey, noble lord?
No, to Whitefriars. There attend my coming.
Halberds and gentlemen exit with corse.
Was ever woman in this humor wooed?
Was ever woman in this humor won?
I’ll have her, but I will not keep her long.
What, I that killed 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 my hatred by,
Having God, her conscience, and these bars against
And I no friends to back my suit at all
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
Stabbed in my angry mood at Tewkesbury?
A sweeter and a lovelier gentleman,
Framed 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 cropped 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 halts 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 marv’lous 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 favor 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.
Enter Queen Elizabeth, the Lord Marquess of Dorset,
Lord Rivers, and Lord Grey.
Have patience, madam. There’s no doubt his
Will soon recover his accustomed 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 eyes.
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 blessed you with a goodly son
To be your comforter when he is gone.
Ah, he is young, and his minority
Is put unto the trust of Richard Gloucester,
A man that loves not me nor none of you.
Is it concluded he shall be Protector?
It is determined, not concluded yet;
But so it must be if the King miscarry.
Enter Buckingham and Lord Stanley, Earl of Derby.
Here comes the lord of Buckingham, and Derby.
BUCKINGHAM, to Queen Elizabeth
Good time of day unto your royal Grace.
God make your Majesty joyful, as you have been.
The Countess Richmond, good my lord of Derby,
To your good prayer will scarcely say amen.
Yet, Derby, notwithstanding she’s your wife
And loves not me, be you, good lord, assured
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 accused on true report,
Bear with her weakness, which I think proceeds
From wayward sickness and no grounded malice.
Saw you the King today, my lord of Derby?
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 height.
Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and Hastings.
They do me wrong, and I will not endure it!
Who is it that complains 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 rumors.
Because I cannot flatter and look 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 abused
With silken, sly, insinuating Jacks?
To who in all this presence speaks your Grace?
To thee, that hast nor honesty nor grace.
When have I injured thee? When done thee
Or thee?—Or thee? Or any of your faction?
A plague upon you all! His royal Grace,
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 provoked 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 he may learn the ground.
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
You envy my advancement, and my friends’.
God grant we never may have need of you.
Meantime God grants that we have need of
Our brother is imprisoned by your means,
Myself disgraced, and the nobility
Held in contempt, while great promotions
Are daily given to ennoble those
That scarce some two days since were worth a
By Him that raised me to this careful height
From that contented hap which I enjoyed,
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.
RIVERS 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 honors on your high desert.
What may she not? She may, ay, marry, may she—
RIVERS What, marry, may she?
What, marry, may she? Marry with a king,
A bachelor, and a handsome stripling too.
Iwis, 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 endured.
I had rather be a country servant-maid
Than a great queen with this condition,
To be so baited, scorned, and stormèd at.
Enter old Queen Margaret, apart from the others.
Small joy have I in being England’s queen.
QUEEN MARGARET, aside
And lessened be that small, God I beseech Him!
Thy honor, state, and seat is due to me.
RICHARD, to Queen Elizabeth
What, threat you me with telling of the King?
Tell him and spare not. Look, what I have said,
I will avouch ’t in presence of the King;
I dare adventure to be sent to th’ Tower.
’Tis time to speak. My pains are quite forgot.
QUEEN MARGARET, aside
Out, devil! I do remember them too well:
Thou killed’st my husband Henry in the Tower,
And Edward, my poor son, at Tewkesbury.
RICHARD, to Queen Elizabeth
Ere you were queen, ay, or your husband king,
I was a packhorse in his great affairs,
A weeder-out of his proud adversaries,
A liberal rewarder of his friends.
To royalize his blood, I spent mine own.
QUEEN MARGARET, aside
Ay, and much better blood than his or thine.
RICHARD, to Queen Elizabeth
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 Albans slain?
Let me put in your minds, if you forget,
What you have been ere this, and what you are;
Withal, what I have been, and what I am.
QUEEN MARGARET, aside
A murd’rous villain, and so still thou art.
RICHARD, to Queen Elizabeth
Poor Clarence did forsake his father Warwick,
Ay, and forswore himself—which Jesu pardon!—
QUEEN MARGARET, aside Which God revenge!
To fight on Edward’s party for the crown;
And for his meed, poor lord, he is mewed 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.
QUEEN MARGARET, aside
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 followed then our lord, our sovereign king.
So should we you, if you should be our king.
If I should be? I had rather be a peddler.
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.
QUEEN MARGARET, aside
As little joy enjoys the queen thereof,
For I am she, and altogether joyless.
I can no longer hold me patient.
She steps forward.
Hear me, you wrangling pirates, that fall out
In sharing that which you have pilled from me!
Which of you trembles not that looks on me?
If not, that I am queen, you bow like subjects,
Yet that, by you deposed, you quake like rebels.—
Ah, gentle villain, do not turn away.
Foul, wrinkled witch, what mak’st thou in my
But repetition of what thou hast marred.
That will I make before I let thee go.
Wert thou not banishèd 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;
To Queen Elizabeth. 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 warlike brows with
And with thy scorns drew’st rivers from his eyes,
And then, to dry them, gav’st the Duke a clout
Steeped in the faultless blood of pretty Rutland—
His curses then, from bitterness of soul
Denounced against thee, are all fall’n upon thee,
And God, not we, hath plagued 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
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
Though not by war, by surfeit die your king,
As ours by murder to make him a king.
To Queen Elizabeth. Edward thy son, that now is
Prince of Wales,
For Edward our son, that 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 death
And see another, as I see thee now,
Decked in thy rights, as thou art stalled in mine.
Long die thy happy days before thy death,
And, after many lengthened 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 stabbed with bloody daggers. God I pray Him
That none of you may live his natural age,
But by some unlooked accident cut off.
Have done thy charm, thou hateful, withered hag.
And leave out thee? Stay, dog, for thou shalt hear
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-marked, abortive, rooting hog,
Thou that wast sealed in thy nativity
The slave of nature and the son of hell,
Thou slander of thy heavy mother’s womb,
Thou loathèd issue of thy father’s loins,
Thou rag of honor, thou detested—
QUEEN MARGARET Richard!
QUEEN MARGARET I call thee not.
I cry thee mercy, then, for I did think
That thou hadst called me all these bitter names.
Why, so I did, but looked for no reply.
O, let me make the period to my curse!
’Tis done by me and ends in “Margaret.”
QUEEN ELIZABETH, to Queen Margaret
Thus have you breathed your curse 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 poisonous bunch-backed
False-boding woman, end thy frantic curse,
Lest to thy harm thou move our patience.
Foul shame upon you, you have all moved mine.
Were you well served, you would be taught your
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!
DORSET, to Rivers
Dispute not with her; she is lunatic.
Peace, Master Marquess, you are malapert.
Your fire-new stamp of honor 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
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 aerie 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 aerie buildeth in our aerie’s nest.
O God, that seest it, do not suffer it!
As it is won with blood, lost be it so.
Peace, peace, for shame, if not for charity.
Urge neither charity nor shame to me.
Addressing the others. Uncharitably with me have
And shamefully my hopes by you are butchered.
My charity is outrage, life my shame,
And in that shame still live my sorrows’ rage.
BUCKINGHAM 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.
Aside to Buckingham. O Buckingham, take heed of
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 subjects to his hate,
And he to yours, and all of you to God’s. She exits.
My hair doth stand an 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 franked 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 scathe to us.
So do I ever—(speaks to himself) being well advised,
For had I cursed now, I had cursed myself.
Madam, his Majesty doth call for you,—
And for your Grace,—and yours, my gracious
Catesby, I come.—Lords, will you go with me?
RIVERS We wait upon your Grace.
All but Richard, Duke of Gloucester exit.
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, who I indeed have cast in darkness,
I do beweep to many simple gulls,
Namely, to Derby, 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 revenged on Rivers, Dorset, 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 villainy
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, resolvèd 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.
He gives a paper.
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 assured
We go to use our hands and not our tongues.
Your eyes drop millstones when fools’ eyes fall
I like you lads. About your business straight.
Go, go, dispatch.
MURDERERS We will, my noble lord.
Enter Clarence and Keeper.
Why looks your Grace so heavily today?
O, I have passed a miserable night,
So full of fearful dreams, of ugly sights,
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.
Methoughts that I had broken from the Tower
And was embarked to cross to Burgundy,
And in my company my brother Gloucester,
Who from my cabin tempted me to walk
Upon the hatches. Thence we looked toward
And cited up a thousand heavy times,
During the wars of York and Lancaster,
That had befall’n us. As we paced 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.
O Lord, methought what pain it was to drown,
What dreadful noise of waters in my ears,
What sights of ugly death within my eyes.
Methoughts I saw a thousand fearful wracks,
A thousand men that fishes gnawed upon,
Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
All scattered in the bottom of the sea.
Some lay in dead men’s skulls, and in the holes
Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept—
As ’twere in scorn of eyes—reflecting gems,
That wooed the slimy bottom of the deep
And mocked the dead bones that lay scattered by.
Had you such leisure in the time of death
To gaze upon these secrets of the deep?
Methought I had, and often did I strive
To yield the ghost, but still the envious flood
Stopped in my soul and would not let it forth
To find the empty, vast, and wand’ring air,
But smothered it within my panting bulk,
Who almost burst to belch it in the sea.
Awaked you not in this sore agony?
No, no, my dream was lengthened after life.
O, then began the tempest to my soul.
I passed, methought, the melancholy flood,
With that sour 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, renownèd Warwick,
Who spake aloud “What scourge for perjury
Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?”
And so he vanished. Then came wand’ring by
A shadow like an angel, with bright hair
Dabbled in blood, and he shrieked out aloud
“Clarence is come—false, fleeting, perjured
That stabbed me in the field by Tewkesbury.
Seize on him, furies. Take him unto torment.”
With that, methoughts, a legion of foul fiends
Environed me and howlèd in mine ears
Such hideous cries that with the very noise
I trembling waked, 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.
Ah keeper, keeper, 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 avenged on my misdeeds,
Yet execute thy wrath in me alone!
O, spare my guiltless wife and my poor children!—
Keeper, I prithee sit by me awhile.
My soul is heavy, and I fain would sleep.
I will, my lord. God give your Grace good rest.
Enter Brakenbury the Lieutenant.
Sorrow breaks seasons and reposing hours,
Makes the night morning, and the noontide night.
Princes have but their titles for their glories,
An outward honor for an inward toil,
And, for unfelt imaginations,
They often feel a world of restless cares,
So that between their titles and low name
There’s nothing differs but the outward fame.
Enter two Murderers.
FIRST MURDERER Ho, who’s here?
What wouldst thou, fellow? And how cam’st thou
SECOND MURDERER I would speak with Clarence, and I
came hither on my legs.
BRAKENBURY What, so brief?
FIRST MURDERER ’Tis better, sir, than to be tedious.—
Let him see our commission, and talk no more.
Brakenbury reads the commission.
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 from the meaning.
There lies the Duke asleep, and there the keys.
He hands them keys.
I’ll to the King and signify to him
That thus I have resigned to you my charge.
FIRST MURDERER You may, sir. ’Tis a point of wisdom.
Fare you well.
Brakenbury and the Keeper exit.
SECOND MURDERER What, shall I stab him as he
FIRST MURDERER No. He’ll say ’twas done cowardly,
when he wakes.
SECOND MURDERER Why, he shall never wake until the
great Judgment Day.
FIRST MURDERER Why, then he’ll say we stabbed him
SECOND MURDERER The urging of that word “judgment”
hath bred a kind of remorse in me.
FIRST MURDERER What, art thou afraid?
SECOND MURDERER Not to kill him, having a warrant,
but to be damned for killing him, from the which
no warrant can defend me.
FIRST MURDERER I thought thou hadst been resolute.
SECOND MURDERER So I am—to let him live.
FIRST MURDERER I’ll back to the Duke of Gloucester
and tell him so.
SECOND MURDERER Nay, I prithee stay a little. I hope
this passionate humor of mine will change. It was
wont to hold me but while one tells twenty.
FIRST MURDERER How dost thou feel thyself now?
SECOND MURDERER Faith, some certain dregs of conscience
are yet within me.
FIRST MURDERER Remember our reward when the
SECOND MURDERER Zounds, he dies! I had forgot the
FIRST MURDERER Where’s thy conscience now?
SECOND MURDERER O, in the Duke of Gloucester’s
FIRST MURDERER When he opens his purse to give us
our reward, thy conscience flies out.
SECOND MURDERER ’Tis no matter. Let it go. There’s
few or none will entertain it.
FIRST MURDERER What if it come to thee again?
SECOND MURDERER 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 neighbor’s wife but it detects
him. ’Tis a blushing, shamefaced spirit that mutinies
in a man’s bosom. It fills a man full of
obstacles. It made me once restore a purse of gold
that by chance I found. It beggars any man that
keeps it. It is turned out of towns and cities for a
dangerous thing, and every man that means to live
well endeavors to trust to himself and live without it.
FIRST MURDERER Zounds, ’tis even now at my elbow,
persuading me not to kill the Duke.
SECOND MURDERER Take the devil in thy mind, and
believe him not. He would insinuate with thee but
to make thee sigh.
FIRST MURDERER I am strong-framed. He cannot prevail
SECOND MURDERER Spoke like a tall man that respects
thy reputation. Come, shall we fall to work?
FIRST MURDERER Take him on the costard with the
hilts of thy sword, and then throw him into the
malmsey butt in the next room.
SECOND MURDERER O, excellent device—and make a
sop of him!
FIRST MURDERER Soft, he wakes.
SECOND MURDERER Strike!
FIRST MURDERER 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?
FIRST MURDERER A man, as you are.
CLARENCE But not, as I am, royal.
FIRST MURDERER 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?
SECOND MURDERER To, to, to—
CLARENCE To murder me?
BOTH Ay, ay.
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 reconciled to him again.
Never, my lord. Therefore prepare to die.
Are you drawn forth among a world of men
To slay the innocent? What is my offense?
Where is the evidence that doth accuse me?
What lawful quest have given their verdict up
Unto the frowning judge? Or who pronounced
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 vassals, 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 fulfill 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
Unrippedst 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 avengèd 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 faults
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 hired 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 deceived. Your brother Gloucester hates
O no, he loves me, and he holds me dear.
Go you to him from me.
FIRST MURDERER Ay, so we will.
Tell him, when that our princely father York
Blessed his three sons with his victorious arm,
He little thought of this divided friendship.
Bid Gloucester think of this, and he will weep.
Ay, millstones, as he lessoned us to weep.
O, do not slander him, for he is kind.
Right, as snow in harvest. Come, you deceive
’Tis he that sends us to destroy you here.
It cannot be, for he bewept my fortune,
And hugged me in his arms, and swore with sobs
That he would labor my delivery.
Why, so he doth, when he delivers you
From this Earth’s thralldom to the joys of heaven.
Make peace with God, for you must die, my lord.
Have you that holy feeling in your souls
To counsel me to make my peace with God,
And are you yet to your own souls so blind
That you will war with God by murd’ring me?
O sirs, consider: they that set you on
To do this deed will hate you for the deed.
SECOND MURDERER, to First Murderer
What shall we do?
CLARENCE Relent, and save your souls.
Which of you—if you were a prince’s son
Being pent from liberty, as I am now—
If two such murderers as yourselves came to you,
Would not entreat for life? Ay, you would beg,
Were you in my distress.
Relent? No. ’Tis cowardly and womanish.
Not to relent is beastly, savage, devilish.
To Second Murderer. 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.
A begging prince what beggar pities not?
SECOND MURDERER Look behind you, my lord.
Take that, and that. (Stabs him.) If all this will not
I’ll drown you in the malmsey butt within.
He exits with the body.
A bloody deed, and desperately dispatched.
How fain, like Pilate, would I wash my hands
Of this most grievous murder.
Enter First Murderer.
How now? What mean’st thou that thou help’st me
By heavens, the Duke shall know how slack you
I would he knew that I had saved his brother.
Take thou the fee, and tell him what I say,
For I repent me that the Duke is slain. He exits.
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 then I must not stay.