Open Source Shakespeare

History of Richard III

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Act II, Scene 3

London. A street.


[Enter two Citizens meeting]

  • First Citizen. Neighbour, well met: whither away so fast?
  • Second Citizen. I promise you, I scarcely know myself:
    Hear you the news abroad?
  • First Citizen. Ay, that the king is dead.
  • Second Citizen. Bad news, by'r lady; seldom comes the better: 1435
    I fear, I fear 'twill prove a troublous world.

[Enter another Citizen]

  • Third Citizen. Neighbours, God speed!
  • First Citizen. Give you good morrow, sir.
  • Third Citizen. Doth this news hold of good King Edward's death? 1440
  • Second Citizen. Ay, sir, it is too true; God help the while!
  • Third Citizen. Then, masters, look to see a troublous world.
  • First Citizen. No, no; by God's good grace his son shall reign.
  • Third Citizen. Woe to the land that's govern'd by a child!
  • Second Citizen. In him there is a hope of government, 1445
    That in his nonage council under him,
    And in his full and ripen'd years himself,
    No doubt, shall then and till then govern well.
  • First Citizen. So stood the state when Henry the Sixth
    Was crown'd in Paris but at nine months old. 1450
  • Third Citizen. Stood the state so? No, no, good friends, God wot;
    For then this land was famously enrich'd
    With politic grave counsel; then the king
    Had virtuous uncles to protect his grace.
  • First Citizen. Why, so hath this, both by the father and mother. 1455
  • Third Citizen. Better it were they all came by the father,
    Or by the father there were none at all;
    For emulation now, who shall be nearest,
    Will touch us all too near, if God prevent not.
    O, full of danger is the Duke of Gloucester! 1460
    And the queen's sons and brothers haught and proud:
    And were they to be ruled, and not to rule,
    This sickly land might solace as before.
  • First Citizen. Come, come, we fear the worst; all shall be well.
  • Third Citizen. When clouds appear, wise men put on their cloaks; 1465
    When great leaves fall, the winter is at hand;
    When the sun sets, who doth not look for night?
    Untimely storms make men expect a dearth.
    All may be well; but, if God sort it so,
    'Tis more than we deserve, or I expect. 1470
  • Second Citizen. Truly, the souls of men are full of dread:
    Ye cannot reason almost with a man
    That looks not heavily and full of fear.
  • Third Citizen. Before the times of change, still is it so:
    By a divine instinct men's minds mistrust 1475
    Ensuing dangers; as by proof, we see
    The waters swell before a boisterous storm.
    But leave it all to God. whither away?
  • Second Citizen. Marry, we were sent for to the justices.
  • Third Citizen. And so was I: I'll bear you company. 1480