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"Darest thou, Cassius, now
Leap in with me into this angry flood,
And swim to yonder point?" Upon the word,
Accoutred as I was, I plunged in
And bade him follow.

      — Julius Caesar, Act I Scene 2


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History of Richard III

Act II

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Scene 1. London. The palace.

Scene 2. The palace.

Scene 3. London. A street.

Scene 4. London. The palace.


Act II, Scene 1

London. The palace.

      next scene .


  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Why, so: now have I done a good day's work:
    You peers, continue this united league:
    I every day expect an embassage
    From my Redeemer to redeem me hence;
    And now in peace my soul shall part to heaven, 1125
    Since I have set my friends at peace on earth.
    Rivers and Hastings, take each other's hand;
    Dissemble not your hatred, swear your love.
  • Lord (Earl) Rivers. By heaven, my heart is purged from grudging hate:
    And with my hand I seal my true heart's love. 1130
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Take heed you dally not before your king;
    Lest he that is the supreme King of kings
    Confound your hidden falsehood, and award
    Either of you to be the other's end. 1135
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Madam, yourself are not exempt in this,
    Nor your son Dorset, Buckingham, nor you;
    You have been factious one against the other, 1140
    Wife, love Lord Hastings, let him kiss your hand;
    And what you do, do it unfeignedly.
  • Queen Elizabeth. Here, Hastings; I will never more remember
    Our former hatred, so thrive I and mine!
  • Marquis of Dorset. This interchange of love, I here protest,
    Upon my part shall be unviolable.

[They embrace]

  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Now, princely Buckingham, seal thou this league 1150
    With thy embracements to my wife's allies,
    And make me happy in your unity.
  • Duke of Buckingham. Whenever Buckingham doth turn his hate
    On you or yours,
    [To the Queen] 1155
    but with all duteous love
    Doth cherish you and yours, God punish me
    With hate in those where I expect most love!
    When I have most need to employ a friend,
    And most assured that he is a friend 1160
    Deep, hollow, treacherous, and full of guile,
    Be he unto me! this do I beg of God,
    When I am cold in zeal to yours.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). A pleasing cordial, princely Buckingham,
    is this thy vow unto my sickly heart. 1165
    There wanteth now our brother Gloucester here,
    To make the perfect period of this peace.


  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Happy, indeed, as we have spent the day.
    Brother, we done deeds of charity;
    Made peace enmity, fair love of hate,
    Between these swelling wrong-incensed peers. 1175
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). A blessed labour, my most sovereign liege:
    Amongst this princely heap, if any here,
    By false intelligence, or wrong surmise,
    Hold me a foe;
    If I unwittingly, or in my rage, 1180
    Have aught committed that is hardly borne
    By any in this presence, I desire
    To reconcile me to his friendly peace:
    'Tis death to me to be at enmity;
    I hate it, and desire all good men's love. 1185
    First, madam, I entreat true peace of you,
    Which I will purchase with my duteous service;
    Of you, my noble cousin Buckingham,
    If ever any grudge were lodged between us;
    Of you, Lord Rivers, and, Lord Grey, of you; 1190
    That without desert have frown'd on me;
    Dukes, earls, lords, gentlemen; indeed, of all.
    I do not know that Englishman alive
    With whom my soul is any jot at odds
    More than the infant that is born to-night 1195
    I thank my God for my humility.
  • Queen Elizabeth. A holy day shall this be kept hereafter:
    I would to God all strifes were well compounded.
    My sovereign liege, I do beseech your majesty
    To take our brother Clarence to your grace. 1200
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). Why, madam, have I offer'd love for this
    To be so bouted in this royal presence?
    Who knows not that the noble duke is dead?
    [They all start]
    You do him injury to scorn his corse. 1205
  • Marquis of Dorset. Ay, my good lord; and no one in this presence
    But his red colour hath forsook his cheeks. 1210
  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). But he, poor soul, by your first order died,
    And that a winged Mercury did bear:
    Some tardy cripple bore the countermand,
    That came too lag to see him buried. 1215
    God grant that some, less noble and less loyal,
    Nearer in bloody thoughts, but not in blood,
    Deserve not worse than wretched Clarence did,
    And yet go current from suspicion!

[Enter DERBY]

  • Marquis of Dorset. The forfeit, sovereign, of my servant's life; 1225
    Who slew to-day a righteous gentleman
    Lately attendant on the Duke of Norfolk.
  • King Edward IV (Plantagenet). Have a tongue to doom my brother's death,
    And shall the same give pardon to a slave?
    My brother slew no man; his fault was thought, 1230
    And yet his punishment was cruel death.
    Who sued to me for him? who, in my rage,
    Kneel'd at my feet, and bade me be advised
    Who spake of brotherhood? who spake of love?
    Who told me how the poor soul did forsake 1235
    The mighty Warwick, and did fight for me?
    Who told me, in the field by Tewksbury
    When Oxford had me down, he rescued me,
    And said, 'Dear brother, live, and be a king'?
    Who told me, when we both lay in the field 1240
    Frozen almost to death, how he did lap me
    Even in his own garments, and gave himself,
    All thin and naked, to the numb cold night?
    All this from my remembrance brutish wrath
    Sinfully pluck'd, and not a man of you 1245
    Had so much grace to put it in my mind.
    But when your carters or your waiting-vassals
    Have done a drunken slaughter, and defaced
    The precious image of our dear Redeemer,
    You straight are on your knees for pardon, pardon; 1250
    And I unjustly too, must grant it you
    But for my brother not a man would speak,
    Nor I, ungracious, speak unto myself
    For him, poor soul. The proudest of you all
    Have been beholding to him in his life; 1255
    Yet none of you would once plead for his life.
    O God, I fear thy justice will take hold
    On me, and you, and mine, and yours for this!
    Come, Hastings, help me to my closet.
    Oh, poor Clarence! 1260

[Exeunt some with KING EDWARD IV and QUEEN MARGARET]

  • Richard III (Duke of Gloucester). This is the fruit of rashness! Mark'd you not
    How that the guilty kindred of the queen
    Look'd pale when they did hear of Clarence' death?
    O, they did urge it still unto the king! 1265
    God will revenge it. But come, let us in,
    To comfort Edward with our company.


. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 2

The palace.

      next scene .

[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.


. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 3

London. A street.

      next scene .

[Enter two Citizens meeting]

  • Second Citizen. I promise you, I scarcely know myself:
    Hear you the news abroad?
  • 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. Doth this news hold of good King Edward's death? 1440
  • 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?


. previous scene      

Act II, Scene 4

London. The palace.



  • Thomas Rotherham. Last night, I hear, they lay at Northampton;
    At Stony-Stratford will they be to-night: 1485
    To-morrow, or next day, they will be here.
  • Duchess of York. I long with all my heart to see the prince:
    I hope he is much grown since last I saw him.
  • Queen Elizabeth. But I hear, no; they say my son of York
    Hath almost overta'en him in his growth. 1490
  • Duke of York. Grandam, one night, as we did sit at supper,
    My uncle Rivers talk'd how I did grow
    More than my brother: 'Ay,' quoth my uncle 1495
    'Small herbs have grace, great weeds do grow apace:'
    And since, methinks, I would not grow so fast,
    Because sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste.
  • Duchess of York. Good faith, good faith, the saying did not hold 1500
    In him that did object the same to thee;
    He was the wretched'st thing when he was young,
    So long a-growing and so leisurely,
    That, if this rule were true, he should be gracious.
  • Duke of York. Now, by my troth, if I had been remember'd,
    I could have given my uncle's grace a flout,
    To touch his growth nearer than he touch'd mine.
  • Duke of York. Marry, they say my uncle grew so fast
    That he could gnaw a crust at two hours old
    'Twas full two years ere I could get a tooth.
    Grandam, this would have been a biting jest.
  • Duke of York. If 'twere not she, I cannot tell who told me.

[Enter a Messenger]

  • Messenger. Such news, my lord, as grieves me to unfold.
  • Messenger. Lord Rivers and Lord Grey are sent to Pomfret,
    With them Sir Thomas Vaughan, prisoners.
  • Messenger. The mighty dukes
    Gloucester and Buckingham.
  • Messenger. The sum of all I can, I have disclosed;
    Why or for what these nobles were committed 1535
    Is all unknown to me, my gracious lady.
  • Queen Elizabeth. Ay me, I see the downfall of our house!
    The tiger now hath seized the gentle hind;
    Insulting tyranny begins to jet
    Upon the innocent and aweless throne: 1540
    Welcome, destruction, death, and massacre!
    I see, as in a map, the end of all.
  • Duchess of York. Accursed and unquiet wrangling days,
    How many of you have mine eyes beheld!
    My husband lost his life to get the crown; 1545
    And often up and down my sons were toss'd,
    For me to joy and weep their gain and loss:
    And being seated, and domestic broils
    Clean over-blown, themselves, the conquerors.
    Make war upon themselves; blood against blood, 1550
    Self against self: O, preposterous
    And frantic outrage, end thy damned spleen;
    Or let me die, to look on death no more!
  • Queen Elizabeth. Come, come, my boy; we will to sanctuary.
    Madam, farewell. 1555
  • Thomas Rotherham. My gracious lady, go;
    And thither bear your treasure and your goods.
    For my part, I'll resign unto your grace 1560
    The seal I keep: and so betide to me
    As well I tender you and all of yours!
    Come, I'll conduct you to the sanctuary.