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  • Title: Richard the Third (Folio 1, 1623)
  • Editor: Adrian Kiernander

  • Copyright Adrian Kiernander. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Adrian Kiernander
    Peer Reviewed

    Richard the Third (Folio 1, 1623)

    The Life and Death of Richard the Third.
    Buck. You haue, my Lord:
    2335Would it might please your Grace,
    On our entreaties, to amend your fault.
    Rich. Else wherefore breathe I in a Christian Land.
    Buck. Know then, it is your fault, that you resigne
    The Supreme Seat, the Throne Maiesticall,
    2340The Sceptred Office of your Ancestors,
    Your State of Fortune, and your Deaw of Birth,
    The Lineall Glory of your Royall House,
    To the corruption of a blemisht Stock;
    Whiles in the mildnesse of your sleepie thoughts,
    2345Which here we waken to our Countries good,
    The Noble Ile doth want his proper Limmes:
    His Face defac'd with skarres of Infamie,
    His Royall Stock grafft with ignoble Plants,
    And almost shouldred in the swallowing Gulfe
    2350Of darke Forgetfulnesse, and deepe Obliuion.
    Which to recure, we heartily solicite
    Your gracious selfe to take on you the charge
    And Kingly Gouernment of this your Land:
    Not as Protector, Steward, Substitute,
    2355Or lowly Factor, for anothers gaine;
    But as successiuely, from Blood to Blood,
    Your Right of Birth, your Empyrie, your owne.
    For this, consorted with the Citizens,
    Your very Worshipfull and louing friends,
    2360And by their vehement instigation,
    In this iust Cause come I to moue your Grace.
    Rich. I cannot tell, if to depart in silence,
    Or bitterly to speake in your reproofe,
    Best fitteth my Degree, or your Condition.
    2365If not to answer, you might haply thinke,
    Tongue-ty'd Ambition, not replying, yeelded
    To beare the Golden Yoake of Soueraigntie,
    Which fondly you would here impose on me.
    If to reproue you for this suit of yours,
    2370So season'd with your faithfull loue to me,
    Then on the other side I check'd my friends.
    Therefore to speake, and to auoid the first,
    And then in speaking, not to incurre the last,
    Definitiuely thus I answer you.
    2375Your loue deserues my thankes, but my desert
    Vnmeritable, shunnes your high request.
    First, if all Obstacles were cut away,
    And that my Path were euen to the Crowne,
    As the ripe Reuenue, and due of Birth:
    2380Yet so much is my pouertie of spirit,
    So mightie, and so manie my defects,
    That I would rather hide me from my Greatnesse,
    Being a Barke to brooke no mightie Sea;
    Then in my Greatnesse couet to be hid,
    2385And in the vapour of my Glory smother'd.
    But God be thank'd, there is no need of me,
    And much I need to helpe you, were there need:
    The Royall Tree hath left vs Royall Fruit,
    Which mellow'd by the stealing howres of time,
    2390Will well become the Seat of Maiestie,
    And make (no doubt) vs happy by his Reigne.
    On him I lay that, you would lay on me,
    The Right and Fortune of his happie Starres,
    Which God defend that I should wring from him.
    2395Buck. My Lord, this argues Conscience in your Grace,
    But the respects thereof are nice, and triuiall,
    All circumstances well considered.
    You say, that Edward is your Brothers Sonne,
    So say we too, but not by Edwards Wife:
    2400For first was he contract to Lady Lucie,
    Your Mother liues a Witnesse to his Vow;
    And afterward by substitute betroth'd
    To Bona, Sister to the King of France.
    These both put off, a poore Petitioner,
    2405A Care-cras'd Mother to a many Sonnes,
    A Beautie-waining, and distressed Widow,
    Euen in the after-noone of her best dayes,
    Made prize and purchase of his wanton Eye,
    Seduc'd the pitch, and height of his degree,
    2410To base declension, and loath'd Bigamie.
    By her, in his vnlawfull Bed, he got
    This Edward, whom our Manners call the Prince.
    More bitterly could I expostulate,
    Saue that for reuerence to some aliue,
    2415I giue a sparing limit to my Tongue.
    Then good, my Lord, take to your Royall selfe
    This proffer'd benefit of Dignitie:
    If not to blesse vs and the Land withall,
    Yet to draw forth your Noble Ancestrie
    2420From the corruption of abusing times,
    Vnto a Lineall true deriued course.
    Maior. Do good my Lord, your Citizens entreat you.
    Buck. Refuse not, mightie Lord, this proffer'd loue.
    Catesb. O make them ioyfull, grant their lawfull suit.
    2425Rich. Alas, why would you heape this Care on me?
    I am vnfit for State, and Maiestie:
    I doe beseech you take it not amisse,
    I cannot, nor I will not yeeld to you.
    Buck. If you refuse it, as in loue and zeale,
    2430Loth to depose the Child, your Brothers Sonne,
    As well we know your tendernesse of heart,
    And gentle, kinde, effeminate remorse,
    Which we haue noted in you to your Kindred,
    And egally indeede to all Estates:
    2435Yet know, where you accept our suit, or no,
    Your Brothers Sonne shall neuer reigne our King,
    But we will plant some other in the Throne,
    To the disgrace and downe-fall of your House:
    And in this resolution here we leaue you.
    2440Come Citizens, we will entreat no more. Exeunt.
    Catesb. Call him againe, sweet Prince, accept their suit:
    If you denie them, all the Land will rue it.
    Rich. Will you enforce me to a world of Cares.
    Call them againe, I am not made of Stones,
    2445But penetrable to your kinde entreaties,
    Albeit against my Conscience and my Soule.
    Enter Buckingham, and the rest.
    Cousin of Buckingham, and sage graue men,
    Since you will buckle fortune on my back,
    2450To beare her burthen, where I will or no.
    I must haue patience to endure the Load:
    But if black Scandall, or foule-fac'd Reproach,
    Attend the sequell of your Imposition,
    Your meere enforcement shall acquittance me
    2455From all the impure blots and staynes thereof;
    For God doth know, and you may partly see,
    How farre I am from the desire of this.
    Maior. God blesse your Grace, wee see it, and will
    say it.
    2460Rich. In saying so, you shall but say the truth.
    Buck. Then I salute you with this Royall Title,
    Long liue King Richard, Englands worthie King.
    All. Amen.
    Buck. To morrow may it please you to be Crown'd.
    2465Rich. Euen when you please, for you will haue it so.
    Buck. To