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History of Richard III

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Act I, Scene 3

The palace.



  • Lord (Earl) Rivers. Have patience, madam: there's no doubt his majesty 460
    Will soon recover his accustom'd health.
  • Lord Grey. In that you brook it in, it makes him worse:
    Therefore, for God's sake, entertain good comfort,
    And cheer his grace with quick and merry words.
  • Lord Grey. The heavens have bless'd you with a goodly son,
    To be your comforter when he is gone.
  • Queen Elizabeth. Oh, he is young and his minority 470
    Is put unto the trust of Richard Gloucester,
    A man that loves not me, nor none of you.
  • Queen Elizabeth. It is determined, not concluded yet:
    But so it must be, if the king miscarry. 475


  • Lord Grey. Here come the lords of Buckingham and Derby.
  • Queen Elizabeth. The Countess Richmond, good my Lord of Derby. 480
    To your good prayers 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.
  • Sir William Stanley. I do beseech you, either not believe 485
    The envious slanders of her false accusers;
    Or, if she be accused in true report,
    Bear with her weakness, which, I think proceeds
    From wayward sickness, and no grounded malice.
  • Duke of Buckingham. Madam, we did: he desires to make atonement
    Betwixt the Duke of Gloucester and your brothers,
    And betwixt them and my lord chamberlain;
    And sent to warn them to his royal presence.
  • Queen Elizabeth. Would all were well! but that will never be 500
    I fear our happiness is at the highest.


  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). 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? 505
    By holy Paul, they love his grace but lightly
    That fill his ears with such dissentious rumours.
    Because I cannot flatter and speak fair,
    Smile in men's faces, smooth, deceive and cog,
    Duck with French nods and apish courtesy, 510
    I must be held a rancorous enemy.
    Cannot a plain man live and think no harm,
    But thus his simple truth must be abused
    By silken, sly, insinuating Jacks?
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). To thee, that hast nor honesty nor grace.
    When have I injured thee? when done thee wrong?
    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!— 520
    Cannot be quiet scarce a breathing-while,
    But you must trouble him with lewd complaints.
  • Queen Elizabeth. Brother of Gloucester, you mistake the matter.
    The king, of his own royal disposition,
    And not provoked by any suitor else; 525
    Aiming, belike, at your interior hatred,
    Which in your outward actions shows itself
    Against my kindred, brothers, and myself,
    Makes him to send; that thereby he may gather
    The ground of your ill-will, and so remove it. 530
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). 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.
  • Queen Elizabeth. Come, come, we know your meaning, brother 535
    You envy my advancement and my friends':
    God grant we never may have need of you!
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Meantime, God grants that we have need of you:
    Your brother is imprison'd by your means, 540
    Myself disgraced, and the nobility
    Held in contempt; whilst many fair promotions
    Are daily given to ennoble those
    That scarce, some two days since, were worth a noble.
  • Queen Elizabeth. By Him that raised me to this careful height 545
    From that contented hap which I enjoy'd,
    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, 550
    Falsely to draw me in these vile suspects.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). She may, Lord Rivers! why, who knows not so? 555
    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 honours on your high deserts.
    What may she not? She may, yea, marry, may she— 560
  • Queen Elizabeth. My Lord of Gloucester, I have too long borne 565
    Your blunt upbraidings and your bitter scoffs:
    By heaven, I will acquaint his majesty
    With those gross taunts I often have endured.
    I had rather be a country servant-maid
    Than a great queen, with this condition, 570
    To be thus taunted, scorn'd, and baited at:
    [Enter QUEEN MARGARET, behind]
    Small joy have I in being England's queen.
  • Queen Margaret. And lessen'd be that small, God, I beseech thee!
    Thy honour, state and seat is due to me. 575
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). 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:
    I dare adventure to be sent to the Tower.
    'Tis time to speak; my pains are quite forgot. 580
  • Queen Margaret. Out, devil! I remember them too well:
    Thou slewest my husband Henry in the Tower,
    And Edward, my poor son, at Tewksbury.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Ere you were queen, yea, or your husband king,
    I was a pack-horse in his great affairs; 585
    A weeder-out of his proud adversaries,
    A liberal rewarder of his friends:
    To royalize his blood I spilt mine own.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). In all which time you and your husband Grey 590
    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?
    Let me put in your minds, if you forget,
    What you have been ere now, and what you are; 595
    Withal, what I have been, and what I am.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). 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;
    Or Edward's soft and pitiful, like mine
    I am too childish-foolish for this world. 605
  • Queen Margaret. Hie thee to hell for shame, and leave the world,
    Thou cacodemon! there thy kingdom is.
  • Lord (Earl) Rivers. My Lord of Gloucester, in those busy days
    Which here you urge to prove us enemies,
    We follow'd then our lord, our lawful king: 610
    So should we you, if you should be our king.
  • Queen Elizabeth. As little joy, my lord, as you suppose
    You should enjoy, were you this country's king, 615
    As little joy may you suppose in me.
    That I enjoy, being the queen thereof.
  • Queen Margaret. A little joy enjoys the queen thereof;
    For I am she, and altogether joyless.
    I can no longer hold me patient. 620
    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?
    If not, that, I being queen, you bow like subjects, 625
    Yet that, by you deposed, you quake like rebels?
    O gentle villain, do not turn away!
  • Queen Margaret. But repetition of what thou hast marr'd;
    That will I make before I let thee go. 630
  • Queen Margaret. 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 owest to me;
    And thou a kingdom; all of you allegiance: 635
    The sorrow that I have, by right is yours,
    And all the pleasures you usurp are mine.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). The curse my noble father laid on thee,
    When thou didst crown his warlike brows with paper
    And with thy scorns drew'st rivers from his eyes, 640
    And then, to dry them, gavest the duke a clout
    Steep'd 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. 645
  • Lord Hastings. O, 'twas the foulest deed to slay that babe,
    And the most merciless that e'er was heard of!
  • Queen Margaret. 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 heaven? 655
    That Henry's death, my lovely Edward's death,
    Their kingdom's loss, my woful banishment,
    Could all but answer for that peevish brat?
    Can curses pierce the clouds and enter heaven?
    Why, then, give way, dull clouds, to my quick curses! 660
    If not by war, by surfeit die your king,
    As ours by murder, to make him a king!
    Edward thy son, which now is Prince of Wales,
    For Edward my son, which was Prince of Wales,
    Die in his youth by like untimely violence! 665
    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,
    Deck'd in thy rights, as thou art stall'd in mine! 670
    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,
    And so wast thou, Lord Hastings, when my son 675
    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!
  • Queen Margaret. And leave out thee? stay, dog, for thou shalt hear me. 680
    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! 685
    The worm of conscience still begnaw thy soul!
    Thy friends suspect for traitors while thou livest,
    And take deep traitors for thy dearest friends!
    No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine,
    Unless it be whilst some tormenting dream 690
    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!
    Thou slander of thy mother's heavy womb! 695
    Thou loathed issue of thy father's loins!
    Thou rag of honour! thou detested—
  • Queen Margaret. Why, so I did; but look'd for no reply.
    O, let me make the period to my curse! 705
  • Queen Margaret. Poor painted queen, vain flourish of my fortune!
    Why strew'st thou sugar on that bottled spider,
    Whose deadly web ensnareth thee about? 710
    Fool, fool! thou whet'st a knife to kill thyself.
    The time will come when thou shalt wish for me
    To help thee curse that poisonous bunchback'd toad.
  • Lord Hastings. False-boding woman, end thy frantic curse,
    Lest to thy harm thou move our patience. 715
  • Queen Margaret. 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! 720
  • Queen Margaret. Peace, master marquess, you are malapert:
    Your fire-new stamp of honour is scarce current.
    O, that your young nobility could judge
    What 'twere to lose it, and be miserable! 725
    They that stand high have many blasts to shake them;
    And if they fall, they dash themselves to pieces.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Yea, and much more: but I was born so high, 730
    Our aery buildeth in the cedar's top,
    And dallies with the wind and scorns the sun.
  • Queen Margaret. 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 735
    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!
  • Queen Margaret. Urge neither charity nor shame to me:
    Uncharitably with me have you dealt,
    And shamefully by you my hopes are butcher'd.
    My charity is outrage, life my shame
    And in that shame still live my sorrow's rage. 745
  • Queen Margaret. O princely Buckingham I'll kiss thy hand,
    In sign of league and amity with thee:
    Now fair befal thee and thy noble house!
    Thy garments are not spotted with our blood, 750
    Nor thou within the compass of my curse.
  • Duke of Buckingham. Nor no one here; for curses never pass
    The lips of those that breathe them in the air.
  • Queen Margaret. I'll not believe but they ascend the sky,
    And there awake God's gentle-sleeping peace. 755
    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;
    Sin, death, and hell have set their marks on him, 760
    And all their ministers attend on him.
  • Queen Margaret. What, dost thou scorn me for my gentle counsel?
    And soothe the devil that I warn thee from? 765
    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! 770


  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). I cannot blame her: by God's holy mother,
    She hath had too much wrong; and I repent 775
    My part thereof that I have done to her.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). But 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. 780
    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 of it!
  • Lord (Earl) Rivers. A virtuous and a Christian-like conclusion,
    To pray for them that have done scathe to us. 785


  • Sir William Catesby. Madam, his majesty doth call for you,
    And for your grace; and you, my noble lords.

[Exeunt all but GLOUCESTER]

  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). 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, whom I, indeed, have laid in darkness,
    I do beweep to many simple gulls 800
    Namely, to Hastings, Derby, Buckingham;
    And say it is 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, Vaughan, Grey: 805
    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
    With old odd ends stolen out of holy writ;
    And seem a saint, when most I play the devil. 810
    [Enter two Murderers]
    But, soft! here come my executioners.
    How now, my hardy, stout resolved mates!
    Are you now going to dispatch this deed?
  • First Murderer. We are, my lord; and come to have the warrant 815
    That we may be admitted where he is.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Well thought upon; I have it here about me.
    [Gives the warrant]
    When you have done, repair to Crosby Place.
    But, sirs, be sudden in the execution, 820
    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 Murderer. Tush!
    Fear not, my lord, we will not stand to prate; 825
    Talkers are no good doers: be assured
    We come to use our hands and not our tongues.