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History of Richard III

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Act I, Scene 2

The same. Another street.


[Enter the corpse of KING HENRY the Sixth, Gentlemen] with halberds to guard it; LADY ANNE being the mourner]

  • Lady Anne. Set down, set down your honourable load,
    If honour may be shrouded in a hearse, 175
    Whilst I awhile obsequiously lament
    The untimely fall of virtuous Lancaster.
    Poor key-cold figure of a holy king!
    Pale ashes of the house of Lancaster!
    Thou bloodless remnant of that royal blood! 180
    Be it lawful that I invocate thy ghost,
    To hear the lamentations of Poor Anne,
    Wife to thy Edward, to thy slaughter'd son,
    Stabb'd by the selfsame hand that made these wounds!
    Lo, in these windows that let forth thy life, 185
    I pour the helpless balm of my poor eyes.
    Cursed be the hand that made these fatal holes!
    Cursed be the heart that had the heart to do it!
    Cursed the blood that let this blood from hence!
    More direful hap betide that hated wretch, 190
    That makes us wretched by the death of thee,
    Than I can wish to adders, spiders, toads,
    Or any creeping venom'd thing that lives!
    If ever he have child, abortive be it,
    Prodigious, and untimely brought to light, 195
    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 he made
    A miserable by the death of him 200
    As I am made by my poor lord and thee!
    Come, now towards Chertsey with your holy load,
    Taken from Paul's to be interred there;
    And still, as you are weary of the weight,
    Rest you, whiles I lament King Henry's corse. 205


  • Lady Anne. What black magician conjures up this fiend,
    To stop devoted charitable deeds?
  • Gentleman. My lord, stand back, and let the coffin pass.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Unmanner'd dog! stand thou, when I command:
    Advance thy halbert higher than my breast,
    Or, by Saint Paul, I'll strike thee to my foot, 215
    And spurn upon thee, beggar, for thy boldness.
  • Lady Anne. 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! 220
    Thou hadst but power over his mortal body,
    His soul thou canst not have; therefore be gone.
  • Lady Anne. Foul devil, for God's sake, hence, and trouble us not;
    For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell, 225
    Fill'd it with cursing cries and deep exclaims.
    If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds,
    Behold this pattern of thy butcheries.
    O, gentlemen, see, see! dead Henry's wounds
    Open their congeal'd mouths and bleed afresh! 230
    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 deed, inhuman and unnatural,
    Provokes this deluge most unnatural. 235
    O God, which this blood madest, revenge his death!
    O earth, which this blood drink'st revenge his death!
    Either heaven with lightning strike the
    murderer dead,
    Or earth, gape open wide and eat him quick, 240
    As thou dost swallow up this good king's blood
    Which his hell-govern'd arm hath butchered!
  • Lady Anne. Villain, thou know'st no law of God nor man: 245
    No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity.
  • Lady Anne. O wonderful, when devils tell the truth!
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). More wonderful, when angels are so angry.
    Vouchsafe, divine perfection of a woman, 250
    Of these supposed-evils, to give me leave,
    By circumstance, but to acquit myself.
  • Lady Anne. Vouchsafe, defused infection of a man,
    For these known evils, but to give me leave,
    By circumstance, to curse thy cursed self. 255
  • Lady Anne. Fouler than heart can think thee, thou canst make
    No excuse current, but to hang thyself.
  • Lady Anne. And, by despairing, shouldst thou stand excused;
    For doing worthy vengeance on thyself,
    Which didst unworthy slaughter upon others.
  • Lady Anne. Why, then they are not dead: 265
    But dead they are, and devilish slave, by thee.
  • Lady Anne. In thy foul throat thou liest: Queen Margaret saw 270
    Thy murderous falchion smoking in his blood;
    The which thou once didst bend against her breast,
    But that thy brothers beat aside the point.
  • Lady Anne. Thou wast provoked by thy bloody mind.
    Which never dreamt on aught but butcheries:
    Didst thou not kill this king?
  • Lady Anne. Dost grant me, hedgehog? then, God grant me too 280
    Thou mayst be damned for that wicked deed!
    O, he was gentle, mild, and virtuous!
  • Lady Anne. He is in heaven, where thou shalt never come.
  • Lady Anne. And thou unfit for any place but hell.
  • Lady Anne. I'll rest betide the chamber where thou liest!
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). I know so. But, gentle Lady Anne,
    To leave this keen encounter of our wits, 295
    And fall somewhat into a slower method,
    Is not the causer of the timeless deaths
    Of these Plantagenets, Henry and Edward,
    As blameful as the executioner?
  • Lady Anne. Thou art the cause, and most accursed effect. 300
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Your beauty was the cause of that effect;
    Your beauty: which did haunt me in my sleep
    To undertake the death of all the world,
    So I might live one hour in your sweet bosom.
  • Lady Anne. If I thought that, I tell thee, homicide, 305
    These nails should rend that beauty from my cheeks.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). These eyes could never endure sweet beauty's wreck;
    You should not blemish it, if I stood by:
    As all the world is cheered by the sun,
    So I by that; it is my day, my life. 310
  • Lady Anne. Black night o'ershade thy day, and death thy life!
  • Lady Anne. I would I were, to be revenged on thee.
  • Lady Anne. It is a quarrel just and reasonable,
    To be revenged on him that slew my husband.
  • Lady Anne. His better doth not breathe upon the earth. 320
  • Lady Anne. Would it were mortal poison, for thy sake! 330
  • Lady Anne. Never hung poison on a fouler toad.
    Out of my sight! thou dost infect my eyes.
  • Lady Anne. Would they were basilisks, to strike thee dead! 335
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). 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 tears,
    Shamed their aspect with store of childish drops:
    These eyes that never shed remorseful tear, 340
    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, 345
    And twenty times made pause to sob and weep,
    That all the standers-by had wet their cheeks
    Like trees bedash'd with rain: in that sad time
    My manly eyes did scorn an humble tear;
    And what these sorrows could not thence exhale, 350
    Thy beauty hath, and made them blind with weeping.
    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. 355
    [She looks scornfully at him]
    Teach not thy lips such scorn, for they were made
    For kissing, lady, not for such contempt.
    If thy revengeful heart cannot forgive,
    Lo, here I lend thee this sharp-pointed sword; 360
    Which if thou please to hide in this true bosom.
    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 lays his breast open: she offers at it with his sword] 365
    Nay, do not pause; for I did kill King Henry,
    But 'twas thy beauty that provoked me.
    Nay, now dispatch; 'twas I that stabb'd young Edward,
    But 'twas thy heavenly face that set me on.
    [Here she lets fall the sword] 370
    Take up the sword again, or take up me.
  • Lady Anne. Arise, dissembler: though I wish thy death,
    I will not be the executioner.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Tush, that was in thy rage:
    Speak it again, and, even with the word,
    That hand, which, for thy love, did kill thy love,
    Shall, for thy love, kill a far truer love;
    To both their deaths thou shalt be accessary. 380
  • Lady Anne. Well, well, put up your sword. 385
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Look, how this ring encompasseth finger.
    Even so thy breast encloseth my poor heart;
    Wear both of them, for both of them are thine.
    And if thy poor devoted suppliant may 395
    But beg one favour at thy gracious hand,
    Thou dost confirm his happiness for ever.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). That it would please thee leave these sad designs
    To him that hath more cause to be a mourner, 400
    And presently repair to Crosby Place;
    Where, after I have solemnly interr'd
    At Chertsey monastery this noble king,
    And wet his grave with my repentant tears,
    I will with all expedient duty see you: 405
    For divers unknown reasons. I beseech you,
    Grant me this boon.
  • Lady Anne. With all my heart; and much it joys me too,
    To see you are become so penitent.
    Tressel and Berkeley, go along with me. 410
  • Lady Anne. 'Tis more than you deserve;
    But since you teach me how to flatter you,
    Imagine I have said farewell already.


  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). No, to White-Friars; there attend my coining.
    [Exeunt all but GLOUCESTER]
    Was ever woman in this humour woo'd? 420
    Was ever woman in this humour won?
    I'll have her; but I will not keep her long.
    What! I, that kill'd her husband and his father,
    To take her in her heart's extremest hate,
    With curses in her mouth, tears in her eyes, 425
    The bleeding witness of her hatred by;
    Having God, her conscience, and these bars
    against me,
    And I nothing to back my suit at all,
    But the plain devil and dissembling looks, 430
    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,
    Stabb'd in my angry mood at Tewksbury? 435
    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 debase her eyes on me, 440
    That cropp'd the golden prime of this sweet prince,
    And made her widow to a woful bed?
    On me, whose all not equals Edward's moiety?
    On me, that halt and am unshapen thus?
    My dukedom to a beggarly denier, 445
    I do mistake my person all this while:
    Upon my life, she finds, although I cannot,
    Myself to be a marvellous proper man.
    I'll be at charges for a looking-glass,
    And entertain some score or two of tailors, 450
    To study fashions to adorn my body:
    Since I am crept in favour with myself,
    Will maintain it with some little cost.
    But first I'll turn yon fellow in his grave;
    And then return lamenting to my love. 455
    Shine out, fair sun, till I have bought a glass,
    That I may see my shadow as I pass.