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History of Richard III

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Act II, Scene 2

The palace.


[Enter the DUCHESS OF YORK, with the two children of CLARENCE]

  • Boy. Tell me, good grandam, is our father dead?
  • Boy. Why do you wring your hands, and beat your breast,
    And cry 'O Clarence, my unhappy son!'
  • Girl. Why do you look on us, and shake your head, 1275
    And call us wretches, orphans, castaways
    If that our noble father be alive?
  • Duchess of York. My pretty cousins, you mistake me much;
    I do lament the sickness of the king.
    As loath to lose him, not your father's death; 1280
    It were lost sorrow to wail one that's lost.
  • Boy. Then, grandam, you conclude that he is dead.
    The king my uncle is to blame for this:
    God will revenge it; whom I will importune
    With daily prayers all to that effect. 1285
  • Girl. And so will I.
  • Duchess of York. Peace, children, peace! the king doth love you well:
    Incapable and shallow innocents,
    You cannot guess who caused your father's death.
  • Boy. Grandam, we can; for my good uncle Gloucester 1290
    Told me, the king, provoked by the queen,
    Devised impeachments to imprison him :
    And when my uncle told me so, he wept,
    And hugg'd me in his arm, and kindly kiss'd my cheek;
    Bade me rely on him as on my father, 1295
    And he would love me dearly as his child.
  • Duchess of York. Oh, that deceit should steal such gentle shapes,
    And with a virtuous vizard hide foul guile!
    He is my son; yea, and therein my shame;
    Yet from my dugs he drew not this deceit. 1300
  • Boy. Think you my uncle did dissemble, grandam?
  • Boy. I cannot think it. Hark! what noise is this?
    [Enter QUEEN ELIZABETH, with her hair about her]
    ears; RIVERS, and DORSET after her] 1305
  • Queen Elizabeth. Oh, who shall hinder me to wail and weep,
    To chide my fortune, and torment myself?
    I'll join with black despair against my soul,
    And to myself become an enemy.
  • Queen Elizabeth. To make an act of tragic violence:
    Edward, my lord, your son, our king, is dead.
    Why grow the branches now the root is wither'd?
    Why wither not the leaves the sap being gone?
    If you will live, lament; if die, be brief, 1315
    That our swift-winged souls may catch the king's;
    Or, like obedient subjects, follow him
    To his new kingdom of perpetual rest.
  • Duchess of York. Ah, so much interest have I in thy sorrow
    As I had title in thy noble husband! 1320
    I have bewept a worthy husband's death,
    And lived by looking on his images:
    But now two mirrors of his princely semblance
    Are crack'd in pieces by malignant death,
    And I for comfort have but one false glass, 1325
    Which grieves me when I see my shame in him.
    Thou art a widow; yet thou art a mother,
    And hast the comfort of thy children left thee:
    But death hath snatch'd my husband from mine arms,
    And pluck'd two crutches from my feeble limbs, 1330
    Edward and Clarence. O, what cause have I,
    Thine being but a moiety of my grief,
    To overgo thy plaints and drown thy cries!
  • Boy. Good aunt, you wept not for our father's death;
    How can we aid you with our kindred tears? 1335
  • Girl. Our fatherless distress was left unmoan'd;
    Your widow-dolour likewise be unwept!
  • Queen Elizabeth. Give me no help in lamentation;
    I am not barren to bring forth complaints
    All springs reduce their currents to mine eyes, 1340
    That I, being govern'd by the watery moon,
    May send forth plenteous tears to drown the world!
    Oh for my husband, for my dear lord Edward!
  • Children. Oh for our father, for our dear lord Clarence!
  • Children. What stay had we but Clarence? and he's gone.
  • Children. Were never orphans had so dear a loss! 1350
  • Duchess of York. Was never mother had so dear a loss!
    Alas, I am the mother of these moans!
    Their woes are parcell'd, mine are general.
    She for an Edward weeps, and so do I;
    I for a Clarence weep, so doth not she: 1355
    These babes for Clarence weep and so do I;
    I for an Edward weep, so do not they:
    Alas, you three, on me, threefold distress'd,
    Pour all your tears! I am your sorrow's nurse,
    And I will pamper it with lamentations. 1360
  • Marquis of Dorset. Comfort, dear mother: God is much displeased
    That you take with unthankfulness, his doing:
    In common worldly things, 'tis call'd ungrateful,
    With dull unwilligness to repay a debt
    Which with a bounteous hand was kindly lent; 1365
    Much more to be thus opposite with heaven,
    For it requires the royal debt it lent you.
  • Lord (Earl) Rivers. Madam, bethink you, like a careful mother,
    Of the young prince your son: send straight for him
    Let him be crown'd; in him your comfort lives: 1370
    Drown desperate sorrow in dead Edward's grave,
    And plant your joys in living Edward's throne.


  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Madam, have comfort: all of us have cause
    To wail the dimming of our shining star; 1375
    But none can cure their harms by wailing them.
    Madam, my mother, I do cry you mercy;
    I did not see your grace: humbly on my knee
    I crave your blessing.
  • Duchess of York. God bless thee; and put meekness in thy mind, 1380
    Love, charity, obedience, and true duty!
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). [Aside] Amen; and make me die a good old man!
    That is the butt-end of a mother's blessing:
    I marvel why her grace did leave it out.
  • Duke of Buckingham. You cloudy princes and heart-sorrowing peers, 1385
    That bear this mutual heavy load of moan,
    Now cheer each other in each other's love
    Though we have spent our harvest of this king,
    We are to reap the harvest of his son.
    The broken rancour of your high-swoln hearts, 1390
    But lately splinter'd, knit, and join'd together,
    Must gently be preserved, cherish'd, and kept:
    Me seemeth good, that, with some little train,
    Forthwith from Ludlow the young prince be fetch'd
    Hither to London, to be crown'd our king. 1395
  • Duke of Buckingham. Marry, my lord, lest, by a multitude,
    The new-heal'd wound of malice should break out,
    Which would be so much the more dangerous
    By how much the estate is green and yet ungovern'd: 1400
    Where every horse bears his commanding rein,
    And may direct his course as please himself,
    As well the fear of harm, as harm apparent,
    In my opinion, ought to be prevented.
  • Lord (Earl) Rivers. And so in me; and so, I think, in all:
    Yet, since it is but green, it should be put
    To no apparent likelihood of breach,
    Which haply by much company might be urged: 1410
    Therefore I say with noble Buckingham,
    That it is meet so few should fetch the prince.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Then be it so; and go we to determine
    Who they shall be that straight shall post to Ludlow. 1415
    Madam, and you, my mother, will you go
    To give your censures in this weighty business?

[Exeunt all but BUCKINGHAM and GLOUCESTER]

  • Duke of Buckingham. My lord, whoever journeys to the Prince, 1420
    For God's sake, let not us two be behind;
    For, by the way, I'll sort occasion,
    As index to the story we late talk'd of,
    To part the queen's proud kindred from the king.
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). My other self, my counsel's consistory, 1425
    My oracle, my prophet! My dear cousin,
    I, like a child, will go by thy direction.
    Towards Ludlow then, for we'll not stay behind.