Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Richard III.
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
The Tragedy of King Richard the Third
 
Act I. Scene III.
 
London.  A Room in the Palace.
 
Enter QUEEN ELIZABETH, LORD RIVERS, and LORD GREY.
  Riv.  Have patience, madam: there’s no doubt his majesty
Will soon recover his accustom’d health.
  Grey.  In that you brook it ill, it makes him worse:        5
Therefore, for God’s sake, entertain good comfort,
And cheer his Grace with quick and merry words.
  Q. Eliz.  If he were dead, what would betide on me?
  Grey.  No other harm but loss of such a lord.
  Q. Eliz.  The loss of such a lord includes all harms.        10
  Grey.  The heavens have bless’d you with a goodly son,
To be your comforter when he is gone.
  Q. Eliz.  Ah! he is young; and his minority
Is put into the trust of Richard Gloucester,
A man that loves not me, nor none of you.        15
  Riv.  Is it concluded he shall be protector?
  Q. Eliz.  It is determin’d, not concluded yet:
But so it must be if the king miscarry.
 
Enter BUCKINGHAM and STANLEY.
  Grey.  Here come the Lords of Buckingham and Stanley.        20
  Buck.  Good time of day unto your royal Grace!
  Stan.  God make your majesty joyful as you have been!
  Q. Eliz.  The Countess Richmond, good my Lord of Stanley,
To your good prayer will scarcely say amen.
Yet, Stanley, notwithstanding she’s your wife,        25
And loves not me, be you, good lord, assur’d
I hate not you for her proud arrogance.
  Stan.  I do beseech you, either not believe
The envious slanders of her false accusers;
Or, if she be accus’d on true report,        30
Bear with her weakness, which, I think, proceeds
From way ward sickness, and no grounded malice.
  Q. Eliz.  Saw you the king to-day, my Lord of Stanley?
  Stan.  But now the Duke of Buckingham and I,
Are come from visiting his majesty.        35
  Q. Eliz.  What likelihood of his amendment, lords?
  Buck.  Madam, good hope; his Grace speaks cheerfully.
  Q. Eliz.  God grant him health! did you confer with him?
  Buck.  Ay, madam: he desires to make atonement
Between the Duke of Gloucester and your brothers,        40
And between them and my lord chamberlain;
And sent to warn them to his royal presence.
  Q. Eliz.  Would all were well! But that will never be.
I fear our happiness is at the highest.
 
Enter GLOUCESTER, HASTINGS, and DORSET.
        45
  Glo.  They do me wrong, and I will not endure it:
Who are they that complain unto the king,
That I, forsooth, am stern and love them not?
By holy Paul, they love his Grace but lightly
That fill his ears with such dissentious rumours.        50
Because I cannot flatter and speak fair,
Smile in men’s faces, smooth, deceive, and cog,
Duck with French nods and apish courtesy,
I must be held a rancorous enemy.
Cannot a plain man live and think no harm,        55
But thus his simple truth must be abus’d
By silken, sly, insinuating Jacks?
  Grey.  To whom in all this presence speaks your Grace?
  Glo.  To thee, that hast nor honesty nor grace.
When have I injur’d thee? when done thee wrong?        60
Or thee? or thee? or any of your faction?
A plague upon you all! His royal person,—
Whom God preserve better than you would wish!—
Cannot be quiet scarce a breathing-while,
But you must trouble him with lewd complaints.        65
  Q. Eliz.  Brother of Gloucester, you mistake the matter.
The king, on his own royal disposition,
And not provok’d by any suitor else,
Aiming, belike, at your interior hatred,
That in your outward action shows itself        70
Against my children, brothers, and myself,
Makes him to send; that thereby he may gather
The ground of your ill-will, and so remove it.
  Glo.  I cannot tell; the world is grown so bad
That wrens make prey where eagles dare not perch:        75
Since every Jack became a gentleman
There’s many a gentle person made a Jack.
  Q. Eliz.  Come, come, we know your meaning, brother Gloucester;
You envy my advancement and my friends’.
God grant we never may have need of you!        80
  Glo.  Meantime, God grants that we have need of you:
Our brother is imprison’d by your means,
Myself disgrac’d, and the nobility
Held in contempt; while great promotions
Are daily given to ennoble those        85
That scarce, some two days since, were worth a noble.
  Q. Eliz.  By him that rais’d me to this careful height
From that contented hap which I enjoy’d,
I never did incense his majesty
Against the Duke of Clarence, but have been        90
An earnest advocate to plead for him.
My lord, you do me shameful injury,
Falsely to draw me in these vile suspects.
  Glo.  You may deny that you were not the mean
Of my Lord Hastings’ late imprisonment.        95
  Riv.  She may, my lord; for—
  Glo.  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,        100
And lay those honours on your high deserts.
What may she not? She may,—ay, marry, may she,—
  Riv.  What, marry, may she?
  Glo.  What, marry, may she! marry with a king,
A bachelor, a handsome stripling too.        105
I wis your grandam had a worser match.
  Q. Eliz.  My Lord of Gloucester, I have too long borne
Your blunt upbraidings and your bitter scoffs;
By heaven, I will acquaint his majesty
Of those gross taunts that oft I have endur’d.        110
I had rather be a country servantmaid
Than a great queen, with this condition,
To be so baited, scorn’d, and stormed at:
Small joy have I in being England’s queen.
 
Enter QUEEN MARGARET, behind.
        115
  Q. Mar.  [Apart.]  And lessen’d be that small, God, I beseech him!
Thy honour, state, and seat is due to me.
  Glo.  What! threat you me with telling of the king?
Tell him, and spare not: look, what I have said
I will avouch in presence of the king:        120
I dare adventure to be sent to the Tower.
’Tis time to speak; my pains are quite forgot.
  Q. Mar.  [Apart.]  Out, devil! I remember them too well:
Thou kill’dst my husband Henry in the Tower,
And Edward, my poor son, at Tewksbury.        125
  Glo.  Ere you were queen, ay, or your husband king,
I was a pack-horse in his great affairs,
A weeder-out of his proud adversaries,
A liberal rewarder of his friends;
To royalize his blood I spilt mine own.        130
  Q. Mar.  Ay, and much better blood than his, or thine.
  Glo.  In all which time you and your husband Grey
Were factious for the house of Lancaster;
And, Rivers, so were you. Was not your husband
In Margaret’s battle at Saint Alban’s slain?        135
Let me put in your minds, if you forget,
What you have been ere now, and what you are;
Withal, what I have been, and what I am.
  Q. Mar.  A murderous villain, and so still thou art.
  Glo.  Poor Clarence did forsake his father, Warwick,        140
Ay, and forswore himself,—which Jesu pardon!—
  Q. Mar.  Which God revenge!
  Glo.  To fight on Edward’s party for the crown;
And for his meed, poor lord, he is mew’d up.
I would to God my heart were flint, like Edward’s;        145
Or Edward’s soft and pitiful, like mine:
I am too childish-foolish for this world.
  Q. Mar.  Hie thee to hell for shame, and leave this world,
Thou cacodemon! there thy kingdom is.
  Riv.  My Lord of Gloucester, in those busy days        150
Which here you urge to prove us enemies,
We follow’d then our lord, our lawful king;
So should we you, if you should be our king.
  Glo  If I should be! I had rather be a pedlar.
Far be it from my heart the thought thereof!        155
  Q. Eliz.  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.
  Q. Mar.  As little joy enjoys the queen thereof;        160
For I am she, and altogether joyless.
I can no longer hold me patient.  [Advancing.
Hear me, you wrangling pirates, that fall out
In sharing that which you have pill’d from me!
Which of you trembles not that looks on me?        165
If not, that, I being queen, you bow like subjects,
Yet that, by you depos’d, you quake like rebels?
Ah! gentle villain, do not turn away.
  Glo.  Foul wrinkled witch, what mak’st thou in my sight?
  Q. Mar.  But repetition of what thou hast marr’d;        170
That will I make before I let thee go.
  Glo.  Wert thou not banished on pain of death?
  Q. Mar.  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;        175
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.
  Glo.  The curse my noble father laid on thee,
When thou didst crown his war-like brows with paper,        180
And with thy scorns drew’st rivers from his eyes;
And then, to dry them, gav’st the duke a clout
Steep’d in the faultless blood of pretty Rutland;
His curses, then from bitterness of soul
Denounc’d against thee, are all fall’n upon thee;        185
And God, not we, hath plagu’d thy bloody deed.
  Q. Eliz.  So just is God, to right the innocent.
  Hast.  O! ’twas the foulest deed to slay that babe,
And the most merciless, that e’er was heard of.
  Riv.  Tyrants themselves wept when it was reported.        190
  Dors.  No man but prophesied revenge for it.
  Buck.  Northumberland, then present, wept to see it.
  Q. Mar.  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?        195
Did York’s dread curse prevail so much with heaven
That Henry’s death, my lovely Edward’s death,
Their kingdom’s loss, my woeful banishment,
Should all but answer for that peevish brat?
Can curses pierce the clouds and enter heaven?        200
Why then, give way, dull clouds, to my quick curses!
Though not by war, by surfeit die your king,
As ours by murder, to make him a king!
Edward, thy son, that now is Prince of Wales,
For Edward, my son, which was Prince of Wales,        205
Die in his youth by like untimely violence!
Thyself a queen, for me that was a queen,
Outlive thy glory, like my wretched self!
Long mayst thou live to wail thy children’s loss,
And see another, as I see thee now,        210
Deck’d in thy rights, as thou art stall’d in mine!
Long die thy happy days before thy death;
And, after many lengthen’d hours of grief,
Die neither mother, wife, nor England’s queen!
Rivers, and Dorset, you were standers by,—        215
And so wast thou, Lord Hastings,—when my son
Was stabb’d with bloody daggers: God, I pray him,
That none of you may live your natural age,
But by some unlook’d accident cut off.
  Glo.  Have done thy charm, thou hateful wither’d hag!        220
  Q. Mar.  And leave out thee? stay, dog, for thou shalt hear me.
If heaven have any grievous plague in store
Exceeding those that I can wish upon thee,
O! let them keep it till thy sins be ripe,
And then hurl down their indignation        225
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,        230
Unless it be while some tormenting dream
Affrights thee with a hell of ugly devils!
Thou elvish-mark’d, abortive, rooting hog!
Thou that wast seal’d in thy nativity
The slave of nature and the son of hell!        235
Thou slander of thy mother’s heavy womb!
Thou loathed issue of thy father’s loins!
Thou rag of honour! thou detested—
  Glo.  Margaret!
  Q. Mar.        Richard!        240
  Glo.                Ha!
  Q. Mar.                I call thee not.
  Glo.  I cry thee mercy then, for I did think
That thou hadst call’d me all these bitter names.
  Q. Mar.  Why, so I did; but look’d for no reply.        245
O! let me make the period to my curse.
  Glo.  ’Tis done by me, and ends in ‘Margaret.’
  Q. Eliz.  Thus have you breath’d your curse against yourself.
  Q. Mar.  Poor painted queen, vain flourish of my fortune!
Why strew’st thou sugar on that bottled spider,        250
Whose deadly web ensnareth thee about?
Fool, fool! thou whet’st a knife to kill thyself.
The day will come that thou shalt wish for me
To help thee curse this pois’nous bunch-back’d toad.
  Hast.  False-boding woman, end thy frantic curse,        255
Lest to thy harm thou move our patience.
  Q. Mar.  Foul shame upon you! you have all mov’d mine.
  Riv.  Were you well serv’d, you would be taught your duty.
  Q. Mar.  To serve me well, you all should do me duty,
Teach me to be your queen, and you my subjects:        260
O! serve me well, and teach yourselves that duty.
  Dor.  Dispute not with her, she is lunatic.
  Q. Mar.  Peace! Master marquess, you are malapert:
Your fire-new stamp of honour is scarce current.
O! that your young nobility could judge        265
What ’twere to lose it, and be miserable!
They that stand high have many blasts to shake them,
And if they fall, they dash themselves to pieces.
  Glo.  Good counsel, marry: learn it, learn it, marquess.
  Dor.  It touches you, my lord, as much as me.        270
  Glo.  Ay, and much more; but I was born so high,
Our aery buildeth in the cedar’s top,
And dallies with the wind, and scorns the sun.
  Q. Mar.  And turns the sun to shade; alas! alas!
Witness my son, now in the shade of death;        275
Whose bright out-shining beams thy cloudy wrath
Hath in eternal darkness folded up.
Your aery buildeth in our aery’s nest:
O God! that seest it, do not suffer it;
As it was won with blood, lost be it so!        280
  Buck.  Peace, peace! for shame, if not for charity.
  Q. Mar.  Urge neither charity nor shame to me:
Uncharitably with me have you dealt,
And shamefully my hopes by you are butcher’d.
My charity is outrage, life my shame;        285
And in that shame still live my sorrow’s rage!
  Buck.  Have done, have done.
  Q. Mar.  O princely Buckingham! I’ll kiss thy hand,
In sign of league and amity with thee:
Now fair befall thee and thy noble house!        290
Thy garments are not spotted with our blood,
Nor thou within the compass of my curse.
  Buck.  Nor no one here; for curses never pass
The lips of those that breathe them in the air.
  Q. Mar.  I will not think but they ascend the sky,        295
And there awake God’s gentle-sleeping peace.
O Buckingham! take heed of yonder dog:
Look, when he fawns, he bites; and when he bites
His venom tooth will rankle to the death:
Have not to do with him, beware of him;        300
Sin, death and hell have set their marks on him,
And all their ministers attend on him.
  Glo.  What doth she say, my Lord of Buckingham?
  Buck.  Nothing that I respect, my gracious lord.
  Q. Mar.  What! dost thou scorn me for my gentle counsel,        305
And soothe the devil that I warn thee from?
O! but remember this another day,
When he shall split thy very heart with sorrow,
And say poor Margaret was a prophetess.
Live each of you the subject to his hate,        310
And he to yours, and all of you to God’s!  [Exit.
  Hast.  My hair doth stand on end to hear her curses.
  Riv.  And so doth mine. I muse why she’s at liberty.
  Glo.  I cannot blame her: by God’s holy mother,
She hath had too much wrong, and I repent        315
My part thereof that I have done to her.
  Q. Eliz.  I never did her any, to my knowledge.
  Glo.  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.        320
Marry, as for Clarence, he is well repaid;
He is frank’d up to fatting for his pains:
God pardon them that are the cause thereof!
  Riv.  A virtuous and a Christian-like conclusion,
To pray for them that have done scath to us.        325
  Glo.  So do I ever  [Aside], being well-advis’d;
For had I curs’d now, I had curs’d myself.
 
Enter CATESBY.
  Cates.  Madam, his majesty doth call for you;
And for your Grace; and you, my noble lords.        330
  Q. Eliz.  Catesby, I come. Lords, will you go with me?
  Riv.  We wait upon your Grace.  [Exeunt all but GLOUCESTER.
  Glo.  I do the wrong, and first begin to brawl.
The secret mischiefs that I set abroach
I lay unto the grievous charge of others.        335
Clarence, whom I, indeed, have cast in darkness,
I do beweep to many simple gulls;
Namely, to Stanley, Hastings, Buckingham;
And tell them ’tis the queen and her allies
That stir the king against the duke my brother.        340
Now they believe it; and withal whet me
To be reveng’d on Rivers, Vaughan, Grey;
But then I sigh, and, with a piece of scripture,
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil:
And thus I clothe my naked villany        345
With odd old ends stol’n forth of holy writ,
And seem a saint when most I play the devil.
 
Enter two Murderers.
But soft! here come my executioners.
How now, my hardy, stout resolved mates!        350
Are you now going to dispatch this thing?
  First Murd.  We are, my lord; and come to have the warrant,
That we may be admitted where he is.
  Glo.  Well thought upon; I have it here about me:  [Gives the warrant.
When you have done, repair to Crosby-place.        355
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.
  First Murd.  Tut, tut, my lord, we will not stand to prate;        360
Talkers are no good doers: be assur’d
We go to use our hands and not our tongues.
  Glo.  Your eyes drop millstones, when fools’ eyes fall tears:
I like you, lads; about your business straight;
Go, go, dispatch.        365
  First Murd.        We will, my noble lord.  [Exeunt.
 
 
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