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  • Title: Richard the Third (Modern)
  • Editor: Adrian Kiernander

  • Copyright Internet Shakespeare Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-proift purposes; for all other uses contact the Coordinating Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Adrian Kiernander
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Richard the Third (Modern)

    Enter Richard Duke of Gloucester [alone].
    Now is the winter of our discontent
    Made glorious summer by this sun of York,
    5And all the clouds that loured upon our House
    In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
    Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths,
    Our bruisèd arms hung up for monuments,
    Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
    10Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
    Grim-visaged War hath smoothed his wrinkled front,
    And now instead of mounting barbèd steeds
    To fright the souls of fearful adversaries
    He capers nimbly in a ladies' chamber
    15To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
    But I that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
    Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass:
    I that am rudely stamped and want love's majesty
    To strut before a wanton, ambling nymph:
    20I that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
    Cheated of feature by dissembling Nature,
    Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
    Into this breathing world scarce half made up,
    And that so lamely and unfashionable
    25That dogs bark at me as I halt by them:
    Why I in this weak piping time of peace
    Have no delight to pass away the time,
    Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
    And descant on mine own deformity.
    30And therefore since I cannot prove a lover
    To entertain these fair, well-spoken days,
    I am determinèd to prove a villain
    And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
    Plots have I laid, inductious, dangerous,
    35By drunken prophesies, libels and dreams
    To set my brothers, Clarence and the King,
    In deadly hate, the one against the other.
    And if King Edward be as true and just
    As I am subtle, false and treacherous,
    40This day should Clarence closely be mewed up
    About a prophecy which says that "G"
    Of Edward's heirs the murderer shall be.
    Dive, thoughts, down to my soul,
    Enter Clarence with a guard of men [under the command of Brakenbury].
    Here Clarence comes.
    45Brother, good days -- What means this armèd guard
    That waits upon your grace?
    His majesty, tendering my person's safety, hath appointed
    This conduct to convey me to the Tower.
    Upon what cause?
    Because my name is George.
    Alack, my lord, that fault is none of yours;
    He should for that commit your godfathers --
    Oh, belike his majesty hath some intent
    That you shall be new christened in the Tower.
    55But what's the matter, Clarence, may I know?
    Yea, Richard, when I know; for I protest
    As yet I do not, but as I can learn,
    He harkens after prophecies and dreams,
    And from the cross-row plucks the letter "G"
    60And 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
    65Have moved his highness to commit me now.
    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.
    70Was 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 delivered?
    We are not safe, Clarence, we are not safe.
    By heaven, I think there is no man is secured
    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?
    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 favor with the King,
    To be her men and wear her livery.
    85The jealous o'er-worn widow and herself,
    Since that our brother dubbed them gentlewomen,
    Are mighty gossips in this monarchy.
    I beseech your graces both to pardon me;
    His majesty hath straitly given in charge
    90That no man shall have private conference,
    Of what degree soever, with his brother.
    Even so? And please your worship Brakenbury,
    You may partake of anything we say.
    We speak no treason, man: we say the King
    95Is 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 gentlefolks.
    100How say you, sir, can you deny all this?
    With this, my lord, myself have nought to do.
    Naught to do with Mistress Shore? I tell thee fellow,
    He that doth naught with her, excepting one,
    105Were best he do it secretly, alone.
    What one, my lord?
    Her husband, knave; wouldst thou betray me?
    I beseech your grace to pardon me and withal forbear
    110Your conference with the noble Duke.
    We know thy charge, Brakenbury, and will obey.
    We are the Queen's abjects and must obey.
    Brother, farewell.
    [He hugs Clarence.]
    I will unto the King,
    And whatsoever you will employ me in,
    115Were it to call King Edward's widow "sister",
    I will perform it to enfranchise you.
    Meantime this deep disgrace in brotherhood
    Touches me deeper than you can imagine.
    [He weeps.]
    I know it pleaseth neither of us well.
    Well, your imprisonment shall not be long:
    I will deliver you or lie for you;
    Meantime, have patience.
    I must perforce; farewell.
    Exit Clar[ence with Brakenbury and guards].
    Go, tread the path that thou shalt ne'er return,
    125Simple, plain Clarence, I do love thee so
    That I will shortly send thy soul to heaven --
    If heaven will take the present at our hands.
    But who comes here, the new delivered Hastings?
    Enter Lord Hastings.
    Good time of day unto my gracious lord.
    As much unto my good Lord Chamberlain.
    Well are you welcome to the open air.
    How hath your lordship brooked imprisonment?
    With patience, noble lord, as prisoners must;
    135But I shall live, my lord, to give them thanks
    That were the cause of my imprisonment.
    No doubt, no doubt, and so shall Clarence too,
    For they that were your enemies are his
    And have prevailed as much on him as you.
    More pity that the eagle should be mewed
    While kites and buzzards prey at liberty.
    What news abroad?
    No news so bad abroad as this at home:
    The King is sickly, weak and melancholy,
    145And his physicians fear him mightily.
    Now, by Saint Paul, this news is bad indeed;
    Oh, he hath kept an evil diet long
    And overmuch consumed his royal person;
    'Tis very grievous to be thought upon.
    150What, is he in his bed?
    He is.
    Go you before and I will follow you.
    Exit Hast[ings].
    He cannot live, I hope, and must not die
    155'Till George be packed with post-horse up to heaven.
    I'll in to urge his hatred more to Clarence
    With lies well steeled with weighty arguments
    And, if I fail not in my deep intent,
    Clarence hath not another day to live.
    160Which done, God take King Edward to his mercy
    And leave the world for me to bustle in;
    For then I'll marry Warwick's youngest daughter.
    What though I killed her husband? And her father?
    The readiest way to make the wench amends
    165Is to become her husband and her father,
    The which will I, not all so much for love
    As for another secret close intent
    By marrying her which I must reach unto.
    But yet I run before my horse to market:
    170Clarence still breathes, Edward still lives and reigns;
    When they are gone, then must I count my gains.