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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    Not Peer Reviewed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 Lady Anne [in mourning, attended by Tressill and Barkley] with the hearse of [King Henry VI, carried by pallbearers, and guards bearing halberds].
    Set down, set down your honorable load,
    If honor may be shrouded in a hearse,
    Whilst I a while obsequiously lament
    The untimely fall of virtuous Lancaster.
    [The hearse is set down.]
    Poor key-cold figure of a holy king,
    180Pale ashes of the House of Lancaster,
    Thou bloodless remnant of that royal blood;
    Be it lawful that I invocate thy ghost
    To hear the lamentations of poor Anne,
    Wife to thy Edward, to thy slaughtered son,
    185Stabbed by the selfsame hands that made these holes,
    Lo, in those windows that let forth thy life
    I pour the helpless balm of my poor eyes.
    Cursed be the hand that made these fatal holes,
    Cursed be the heart that had the heart to do it.
    More direful hap betide that hated wretch
    That makes us wretched by the death of thee
    Than I can wish to adders, spiders, toads,
    Or any creeping, venomed thing that lives.
    195If ever he have child, abortive be it,
    Prodigious and untimely brought to light,
    Whose ugly and unnatural aspect
    May fright the hopeful mother at the view.
    200If ever he have wife, let her be made
    As miserable by the death of him
    As I am made by my poor lord and thee.
    Come now, towards Chertsey with your holy load,
    [The pallbearers pick up the hearse.]
    Taken from Paul's to be interrèd there,
    205And still as you are weary of the weight,
    Rest you whiles I lament King Henry's corse.
    Enter [Richard].
    Stay, you that bear the corse, and set it down.
    What black magician conjures up this fiend
    210To stop devoted charitable deeds?
    Richard[Drawing his sword.]
    Villain, set down the corse or by Saint Paul
    I'll make a corse of him that disobeys.
    My lord, stand back and let the coffin pass.
    [A guard levels his halberd at Richard.]
    Unmannered dog, 215stand thou when I command.
    Advance thy halberd higher than my breast
    Or by Saint Paul I'll strike thee to my foot
    And spurn upon thee, beggar, for thy boldness.
    [The hearse is set down.]
    What? Do you tremble, are you all afraid?
    220Alas, I blame you not, for you are mortal
    And mortal eyes cannot endure the devil.
    [To Richard] Avaunt, thou dreadful minister of hell.
    Thou hadst but power over his mortal body;
    His soul thou canst not have; therefore be gone.
    Sweet saint, for charity, be not so curst.
    Foul devil, for God's sake hence and trouble us not,
    For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell,
    Filled it with cursing cries and deep exclaims.
    230If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds,
    Behold this pattern of thy butcheries.
    [She indicates, or uncovers, the dead body.]
    Oh gentlemen, see, see, dead Henry's wounds
    Open their congealed mouths and bleed afresh.
    Blush, blush, thou lump of foul deformity,
    235For 'tis thy presence that exhales this blood
    From cold and empty veins where no blood dwells.
    Thy deed, inhuman and unnatural,
    Provokes this deluge most unnatural.
    O God which this blood madest, revenge his death;
    240O Earth which this blood drink'st, revenge his death.
    Either heaven with lightning strike the murderer dead
    Or Earth gape open wide and eat him quick
    As thou dost swallow up this good King's blood
    Which his hell-governed arm hath butchered.
    Lady, you know no rules of charity,
    Which renders good for bad, blessings for curses.
    Villain, thou knowest no law of God nor man:
    No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity.
    But I know none, and therefore am no beast.
    Oh wonderful, when devils tell the truth!
    More wonderful when angels are so angry.
    Vouchsafe, divine perfection of a woman,
    Of these supposèd evils to give me leave
    By circumstance but to acquit myself.
    Vouchsafe, defused infection of a man,
    For these known evils but to give me leave
    By circumstance to curse thy cursèd self.
    Fairer than tongue can name thee, let me have
    Some patient leisure to excuse myself.
    Fouler than heart can think thee, thou canst make
    No excuse current but to hang thyself.
    By such despair I should accuse myself.
    And by despairing shouldst thou stand excused
    265For doing worthy vengeance on thyself
    Which didst unworthy slaughter upon others.
    Say that I slew them not.
    Why then they are not dead,
    But dead they are, and, devilish slave, by thee.
    I did not kill your husband.
    Why then he is alive.
    Nay, he is dead, and slain by Edward's hand.
    In thy foul throat thou liest. Queen Margaret saw
    275Thy bloody falchion smoking in his blood,
    The which thou once didst bend against her breast,
    But that thy brothers beat aside the point.
    I was provokèd by her slanderous tongue
    Which laid their guilt upon my guiltless shoulders.
    Thou wast provokèd by thy bloody mind
    Which never dreamed on aught but butcheries;
    Didst thou not kill this King?
    I grant ye, yea.
    Dost grant me, hedgehog? 285Then God grant me too
    Thou mayest be damnèd for that wicked deed;
    Oh, he was gentle, mild and virtuous.
    The fitter for the King of Heaven that hath him.
    He is in heaven where thou shalt never come.
    Let him thank me that holp to send him thither,
    For he was fitter for that place than earth.
    And thou unfit for any place but hell.
    Yes, one place else, if you will hear me name it.
    Some dungeon.
    Your bedchamber.
    Ill rest betide the chamber where thou liest!
    So will it, madam, till I lie with you.
    I hope so.
    I know so; but gentle Lady Anne,
    To leave this keen encounter of our wits
    And fall somewhat into a slower method,
    Is not the causer of the timeless deaths
    Of these Plantagenets, Henry and Edward,
    305As blameful as the executioner?
    Thou art the cause (*of that most cursed effect.
    Your beauty was the cause of that effect,
    Your beauty which did haunt me in my sleep
    To undertake the death of all the world
    310So I might rest one hour in your sweet bosom.
    If I thought that, I tell thee, homicide,
    These nails should rend that beauty from my cheeks.
    These eyes could never endure sweet beauty's wrack.
    You should not blemish them if I stood by.
    315As all the world is cheerèd by the sun,
    So I by that, it is my day, my life.
    Black night overshade thy day, and death thy life.
    Curse not thyself, fair creature, thou art both.
    I would I were, to be revenged on thee.
    It is a quarrel most unnatural
    To be revenged on him that loveth you.
    It is a quarrel just and reasonable
    To be revenged on him that slew my husband.
    He that bereft thee, lady, of thy husband
    Did it to help thee to a better husband.
    His better doth not breathe upon the earth.
    Go to, he lives that loves you better than he could.
    Name him.
    Why that was he.
    The self-same name, but one of better nature.
    Where is he?
    She spit[s] at him.
    335Why dost thou spit at me?
    Would it were mortal poison for thy sake.
    Never came poison from so sweet a place.
    Never hung poison on a fouler toad;
    Out of my sight, thou dost infect my eyes.
    Thine eyes, sweet lady, have infected mine.
    Would they were basilisks to strike thee dead.
    I would they were, that I might die at once,
    For now they kill me with a living death.
    [He weeps.]
    Those eyes of thine from mine have drawn salt tears,
    345Shamed their aspect with store of childish drops.
    I never sued to friend nor enemy,
    My tongue could never learn sweet soothing words,
    360But now thy beauty is proposed my fee
    My proud heart sues and prompts my tongue to speak.
    [She looks scornfully at him.]
    Teach not thy lips such scorn, for they were made
    For kissing, lady, not for such contempt.
    365If thy revengeful heart cannot forgive,
    Lo, here I lend thee this sharp pointed sword,
    [Richard hands Anne his sword.]
    Which, if thou please to hide in this true bosom
    And let the soul forth that adoreth thee,
    I lay it naked to the deadly stroke
    370And humbly beg the death upon my knee.
    [He kneels and lays his breast open. She offers at it with his sword.]
    Nay, do not pause, 'twas I that killed your husband,
    But 'twas thy beauty that provokèd me.
    Nay, now dispatch, 'twas I that killed King Henry,
    375But 'twas thy heavenly face that set me on.
    Here she lets fall the sword.
    Take up the sword again or take up me.
    Arise dissembler, though I wish thy death,
    I will not be the executioner.
    Then bid me kill myself and I will do it.
    I have already.
    Tush, that was in thy rage.
    [Richard takes up the sword and points it toward his heart.]
    Speak it again and, even with the word,
    That hand which for thy love did kill thy love
    385Shall for thy love kill a far truer love.
    To both their deaths shalt thou be accessory.
    I would I knew thy heart.
    'Tis figured in my tongue.
    I fear me both are false.
    Then never was man true.
    Well, well, put up your sword.
    Say then my peace is made.
    [Richard stands and sheathes the sword.]
    That shall you know hereafter.
    But shall I live in hope?
    All men, I hope, live so.
    Vouchsafe to wear this ring.
    [Richard offers Anne a ring.]
    To take is not to give.
    [He puts it on her finger.]
    Look how this ring encompasseth thy finger:
    Even so thy breast encloseth my poor heart.
    Wear both of them, for both of them are thine,
    400And if thy poor, devoted suppliant may
    But beg one favor at thy gracious hand
    Thou dost confirm his happiness for ever.
    What is it?
    That it would please thee leave these sad designs
    405To him that hath more cause to be a mourner
    And presently repair to Crosby Place
    Where, after I have solemnly interred
    At Chertsey Monastery this noble King
    And wet his grave with my repentant tears,
    410I will with all expedient duty see you.
    For divers unknown reasons, I beseech you
    Grant me this boon.
    With all my heart, and much it joys me too
    To see you are become so penitent.
    415Tressill and Barkley, go along with me.
    Bid me farewell.
    'Tis more than you deserve:
    But since you teach me how to flatter you,
    Imagine I have said farewell already.
    Exit [with Tressill and Barkley.]
    Sirs, take up the corse.
    [The pallbearers take up the hearse.]
    Towards Chertsey, noble lord?
    No, to Whitefriars; there attend my coming.
    Exeunt [pallbearers with the hearse, returning the way they came].[Richard remains.]
    Was ever woman in this humor wooed?
    425Was ever woman in this humor won?
    I'll have her, but I will not keep her long.
    What, I that killed her husband and his father,
    To take her in her heart's extremest hate,
    With curses in her mouth, tears in her eyes,
    430The bleeding witness of her hatred by,
    Having God, her conscience, and these bars against me,
    And I nothing to back my suit at all
    But the plain devil and dissembling looks,
    And yet to win her? All the world to nothing. 435Hah!
    Hath she forgot already that brave Prince,
    Edward, her lord, whom I some three months since
    Stabbed in my angry mood at Tewkesbury?
    A sweeter and a lovelier gentleman
    440Framed in the prodigality of nature,
    Young, valiant, wise, and no doubt right royal,
    The spacious world cannot again afford.
    And will she yet debase her eyes on me
    That cropped the golden prime of this sweet Prince
    445And made her widow to a woeful bed;
    On me whose all not equals Edward's moiety;
    On me that halt, and am unshapen thus --
    My dukedom to a beggarly denier,
    I do mistake my person all this while!
    450Upon my life she finds, although I cannot,
    Myself to be a marvellous proper man.
    I'll be at charges for a looking glass
    And entertain some score or two of tailors
    To study fashions to adorn my body.
    455Since I am crept in favor with myself
    I will maintain it with some little cost --
    But first I'll turn yon fellow in his grave
    And then return lamenting to my love.
    Shine out, fair sun, till I have bought a glass
    460That I may see my shadow as I pass.