Open Source Shakespeare

History of Richard III

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Act I, Scene 1

London. A street.


[Enter GLOUCESTER, solus]

  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Now is the winter of our discontent
    Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
    And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
    In the deep bosom of the ocean buried. 5
    Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
    Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
    Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
    Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
    Grim-visaged war hath smooth'd his wrinkled front; 10
    And now, instead of mounting barded 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, 15
    Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
    I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty
    To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
    I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion,
    Cheated of feature by dissembling nature, 20
    Deformed, unfinish'd, 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, 25
    Have no delight to pass away the time,
    Unless to spy 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, 30
    I am determined 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 35
    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 mew'd up,
    About a prophecy, which says that 'G' 40
    Of Edward's heirs the murderer shall be.
    Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here
    Clarence comes.
    [Enter CLARENCE, guarded, and BRAKENBURY]
    Brother, good day; what means this armed guard 45
    That waits upon your grace?
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). His majesty
    Tendering my person's safety, hath appointed
    This conduct to convey me to the Tower.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Upon what cause? 50
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). Because my name is George.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). 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 shall be new-christen'd in the Tower. 55
    But what's the matter, Clarence? may I know?
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). 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 cross-row plucks the letter G. 60
    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 65
    Have moved his highness to commit me now.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). 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. 70
    Was it not she and that good man of worship,
    Anthony Woodville, her brother there,
    That made him send Lord Hastings to the Tower,
    From whence this present day he is deliver'd?
    We are not safe, Clarence; we are not safe. 75
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). By heaven, I think there's no man is secure
    But the queen's kindred and night-walking heralds
    That trudge betwixt the king and Mistress Shore.
    Heard ye not what an humble suppliant
    Lord hastings was to her for his delivery? 80
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). 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 favour with the king,
    To be her men and wear her livery: 85
    The jealous o'erworn widow and herself,
    Since that our brother dubb'd them gentlewomen.
    Are mighty gossips in this monarchy.
  • Sir Robert Brakenbury. I beseech your graces both to pardon me;
    His majesty hath straitly given in charge 90
    That no man shall have private conference,
    Of what degree soever, with his brother.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Even so; an't please your worship, Brakenbury,
    You may partake of any thing we say:
    We speak no treason, man: we say the king 95
    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 gentle-folks: 100
    How say you sir? Can you deny all this?
  • Sir Robert Brakenbury. With this, my lord, myself have nought to do.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Naught to do with mistress Shore! I tell thee, fellow,
    He that doth naught with her, excepting one,
    Were best he do it secretly, alone. 105
  • Sir Robert Brakenbury. What one, my lord?
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Her husband, knave: wouldst thou betray me?
  • Sir Robert Brakenbury. I beseech your grace to pardon me, and withal
    Forbear your conference with the noble duke.
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). We know thy charge, Brakenbury, and will obey. 110
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). We are the queen's abjects, and must obey.
    Brother, farewell: I will unto the king;
    And whatsoever you will employ me in,
    Were it to call King Edward's widow sister,
    I will perform it to enfranchise you. 115
    Meantime, this deep disgrace in brotherhood
    Touches me deeper than you can imagine.
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). I know it pleaseth neither of us well.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Well, your imprisonment shall not be long;
    Meantime, have patience. 120
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). I must perforce. Farewell.

[Exeunt CLARENCE, BRAKENBURY, and Guard]

  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). 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, 125
    If heaven will take the present at our hands.
    But who comes here? the new-deliver'd Hastings?


  • Lord Hastings. Good time of day unto my gracious lord!
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). As much unto my good lord chamberlain! 130
    Well are you welcome to the open air.
    How hath your lordship brook'd imprisonment?
  • Lord Hastings. With patience, noble lord, as prisoners must:
    But I shall live, my lord, to give them thanks
    That were the cause of my imprisonment. 135
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). No doubt, no doubt; and so shall Clarence too;
    For they that were your enemies are his,
    And have prevail'd as much on him as you.
  • Lord Hastings. More pity that the eagle should be mew'd,
    While kites and buzzards prey at liberty. 140
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). What news abroad?
  • Lord Hastings. No news so bad abroad as this at home;
    The King is sickly, weak and melancholy,
    And his physicians fear him mightily.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Now, by Saint Paul, this news is bad indeed. 145
    O, he hath kept an evil diet long,
    And overmuch consumed his royal person:
    'Tis very grievous to be thought upon.
    What, is he in his bed?
  • Lord Hastings. He is. 150
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Go you before, and I will follow you.
    [Exit HASTINGS]
    He cannot live, I hope; and must not die
    Till George be pack'd with post-horse up to heaven.
    I'll in, to urge his hatred more to Clarence, 155
    With lies well steel'd with weighty arguments;
    And, if I fall 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! 160
    For then I'll marry Warwick's youngest daughter.
    What though I kill'd 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 165
    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. 170