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They say we are
Almost as like as eggs.

      — The Winter's Tale, Act I Scene 2


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History of Richard III

Act I

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Scene 1. London. A street.

Scene 2. The same. Another street.

Scene 3. The palace.

Scene 4. London. The Tower.


Act I, Scene 1

London. A street.

      next scene .

[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?
  • 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?
  • 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. I beseech your grace to pardon me, and withal
    Forbear your conference with the noble duke.
  • 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.

[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. 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
  • 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?
  • 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


. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 2

The same. Another street.

      next scene .

[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.


. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 3

The palace.

      next scene .


  • 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.


. previous scene      

Act I, Scene 4

London. The Tower.



  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). O, I have pass'd a miserable night, 835
    So full of ugly sights, of ghastly dreams,
    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! 840
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). Methoughts that I had broken from the Tower,
    And was embark'd to cross to Burgundy;
    And, in my company, my brother Gloucester;
    Who from my cabin tempted me to walk 845
    Upon the hatches: thence we looked toward England,
    And cited up a thousand fearful times,
    During the wars of York and Lancaster
    That had befall'n us. As we paced along
    Upon the giddy footing of the hatches, 850
    Methought that Gloucester stumbled; and, in falling,
    Struck me, that thought to stay him, overboard,
    Into the tumbling billows of the main.
    Lord, Lord! methought, what pain it was to drown!
    What dreadful noise of waters in mine ears! 855
    What ugly sights of death within mine eyes!
    Methought I saw a thousand fearful wrecks;
    Ten thousand men that fishes gnaw'd upon;
    Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
    Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels, 860
    All scatter'd in the bottom of the sea:
    Some lay in dead men's skulls; and, in those holes
    Where eyes did once inhabit, there were crept,
    As 'twere in scorn of eyes, reflecting gems,
    Which woo'd the slimy bottom of the deep, 865
    And mock'd the dead bones that lay scatter'd by.
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). Methought I had; and often did I strive
    To yield the ghost: but still the envious flood 870
    Kept in my soul, and would not let it forth
    To seek the empty, vast and wandering air;
    But smother'd it within my panting bulk,
    Which almost burst to belch it in the sea.
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). O, no, my dream was lengthen'd after life;
    O, then began the tempest to my soul,
    Who pass'd, methought, the melancholy flood,
    With that grim ferryman which poets write of,
    Unto the kingdom of perpetual night. 880
    The first that there did greet my stranger soul,
    Was my great father-in-law, renowned Warwick;
    Who cried aloud, 'What scourge for perjury
    Can this dark monarchy afford false Clarence?'
    And so he vanish'd: then came wandering by 885
    A shadow like an angel, with bright hair
    Dabbled in blood; and he squeak'd out aloud,
    'Clarence is come; false, fleeting, perjured Clarence,
    That stabb'd me in the field by Tewksbury;
    Seize on him, Furies, take him to your torments!' 890
    With that, methoughts, a legion of foul fiends
    Environ'd me about, and howled 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, 895
    Such terrible impression made the dream.
  • Sir Robert Brakenbury. No marvel, my lord, though it affrighted you;
    I promise, I am afraid to hear you tell it.
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). O Brakenbury, I have done those things,
    Which now bear evidence against my soul, 900
    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! 905
    I pray thee, gentle keeper, stay by me;
    My soul is heavy, and I fain would sleep.
  • Sir Robert Brakenbury. I will, my lord: God give your grace good rest!
    [CLARENCE sleeps]
    Sorrow breaks seasons and reposing hours, 910
    Makes the night morning, and the noon-tide night.
    Princes have but their tides for their glories,
    An outward honour for an inward toil;
    And, for unfelt imagination,
    They often feel a world of restless cares: 915
    So that, betwixt their tides and low names,
    There's nothing differs but the outward fame.

[Enter the two Murderers]

  • First Murderer. I would speak with Clarence, and I came hither on my legs.
  • Second Murderer. O sir, it is better to be brief than tedious. Show
    him our commission; talk no more.

[BRAKENBURY reads it]

  • Sir Robert Brakenbury. 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 of the meaning.
    Here are the keys, there sits the duke asleep: 930
    I'll to the king; and signify to him
    That thus I have resign'd my charge to you.


  • First Murderer. No; then he will say 'twas done cowardly, when he wakes.
  • Second Murderer. When he wakes! why, fool, he shall never wake till
    the judgment-day.
  • Second Murderer. The urging of that word 'judgment' hath bred a kind 940
    of remorse in me.
  • Second Murderer. Not to kill him, having a warrant for it; but to be
    damned for killing him, from which no warrant can defend us.
  • Second Murderer. I pray thee, stay a while: I hope my holy humour
    will change; 'twas wont to hold me but while one
    would tell twenty. 950
  • Second Murderer. 'Faith, some certain dregs of conscience are yet
    within me.
  • First Murderer. So when he opens his purse to give us our reward,
    thy conscience flies out.
  • Second Murderer. I'll not meddle with it: it is a dangerous thing: it
    makes a man a coward: a man cannot steal, but it
    accuseth him; he cannot swear, but it cheques him;
    he cannot lie with his neighbour's wife, but it 965
    detects him: 'tis a blushing shamefast spirit that
    mutinies in a man's bosom; it fills one full of
    obstacles: it made me once restore a purse of gold
    that I found; it beggars any man that keeps it: it
    is turned out of all towns and cities for a 970
    dangerous thing; and every man that means to live
    well endeavours to trust to himself and to live
    without it.
  • First Murderer. 'Zounds, it is even now at my elbow, persuading me
    not to kill the duke. 975
  • Second Murderer. Take the devil in thy mind, and relieve him not: he
    would insinuate with thee but to make thee sigh.
  • First Murderer. Tut, I am strong-framed, he cannot prevail with me,
    I warrant thee.
  • Second Murderer. Spoke like a tail fellow that respects his 980
    reputation. Come, shall we to this gear?
  • First Murderer. Take him over the costard with the hilts of thy
    sword, and then we will chop him in the malmsey-butt
    in the next room.
  • Both. To, to, to—
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). Are you call'd forth from out a world of men
    To slay the innocent? What is my offence?
    Where are the evidence that do accuse me? 1010
    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. 1015
    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.
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). Erroneous vassal! the great King of kings
    Hath in the tables of his law commanded
    That thou shalt do no murder: and wilt thou, then,
    Spurn at his edict and fulfil a man's? 1025
    Take heed; for he holds vengeance in his hands,
    To hurl upon their heads that break his law.
  • Second Murderer. And that same vengeance doth he hurl on thee,
    For false forswearing and for murder too:
    Thou didst receive the holy sacrament, 1030
    To fight in quarrel of the house of Lancaster.
  • First Murderer. And, like a traitor to the name of God,
    Didst break that vow; and with thy treacherous blade
    Unrip'dst the bowels of thy sovereign's son.
  • First Murderer. How canst thou urge God's dreadful law to us,
    When thou hast broke it in so dear degree?
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). Alas! for whose sake did I that ill deed?
    For Edward, for my brother, for his sake: Why, sirs,
    He sends ye not to murder me for this 1040
    For in this sin he is as deep as I.
    If God will be revenged for this deed.
    O, know you yet, he doth it publicly,
    Take not the quarrel from his powerful arm;
    He needs no indirect nor lawless course 1045
    To cut off those that have offended him.
  • First Murderer. Who made thee, then, a bloody minister,
    When gallant-springing brave Plantagenet,
    That princely novice, was struck dead by thee?
  • First Murderer. Thy brother's love, our duty, and thy fault,
    Provoke us hither now to slaughter thee.
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). Oh, if you love my brother, hate not me;
    I am his brother, and I love him well.
    If you be hired for meed, go back again, 1055
    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.
  • Both. Ay, so we will.
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). Tell him, when that our princely father York
    Bless'd his three sons with his victorious arm,
    And charged us from his soul to love each other, 1065
    He little thought of this divided friendship:
    Bid Gloucester think of this, and he will weep.
  • First Murderer. Right, 1070
    As snow in harvest. Thou deceivest thyself:
    'Tis he that sent us hither now to slaughter thee.
  • Second Murderer. Why, so he doth, now he delivers thee
    From this world's thraldom to the joys of heaven.
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). Hast thou that holy feeling in thy soul,
    To counsel me to make my peace with God, 1080
    And art thou yet to thy own soul so blind,
    That thou wilt war with God by murdering me?
    Ah, sirs, consider, he that set you on
    To do this deed will hate you for the deed.
  • George Plantagenet (Duke of Clarence). Not to relent is beastly, savage, devilish.
    Which of you, if you were a prince's son,
    Being pent from liberty, as I am now, 1090
    if two such murderers as yourselves came to you,
    Would not entreat for life?
    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, 1095
    As you would beg, were you in my distress
    A begging prince what beggar pities not?
  • First Murderer. Take that, and that: if all this will not do,
    [Stabs him] 1100
    I'll drown you in the malmsey-butt within.

[Exit, with the body]

  • Second Murderer. A bloody deed, and desperately dispatch'd!
    How fain, like Pilate, would I wash my hands
    Of this most grievous guilty murder done! 1105

[Re-enter First Murderer]

  • First Murderer. How now! what mean'st thou, that thou help'st me not?
    By heavens, the duke shall know how slack thou art!
  • Second Murderer. I would he knew that I had saved his brother!
    Take thou the fee, and tell him what I say; 1110
    For I repent me that the duke is slain.


  • First Murderer. So do not I: go, coward as thou art.
    Now must I hide his body in some hole,
    Until the duke take order for his burial: 1115
    And when I have my meed, I must away;
    For this will out, and here I must not stay.