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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    Not Peer Reviewed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 Queen [Elizabeth], Lord Rivers, Grey [and Dorset].
    Have patience, madam, there's no doubt his majesty
    465Will soon recover his accustomed health.
    In that you brook it ill, it makes him worse.
    Therefore, for God's sake, entertain good comfort,
    And cheer his grace with quick and merry words.
    Queen Elizabeth
    If he were dead, what would betide of me?
    No other harm but loss of such a lord.
    Queen Elizabeth
    The loss of such a lord includes all harm.
    The heavens have blessed you with a goodly son
    To be your comforter when he is gone.
    475Queen Elizabeth
    Oh, he is young, and his minority
    Is put unto the trust of Richard Gloucester,
    A man that loves not me, nor none of you.
    Is it concluded he shall be Protector?
    Queen Elizabeth
    It is determined, not concluded yet,
    480But so it must be, if the King miscarry.
    Enter Buck[ingham and Stanley].
    Here come the Lords of Buckingham and Stanley.
    Buckingham [To the Queen]
    Good time of day unto your royal grace.
    God make your majesty joyful as you have been.
    485Queen Elizabeth
    The Countess Richmond, good my Lord of Stanley,
    To your good prayers will scarcely say "Amen".
    Yet Stanley, notwithstanding she's your wife
    And loves not me, be you, good lord, assured
    I hate not you for her proud arrogance.
    I do beseech you, either not believe
    The envious slanders of her false accusers
    Or, if she be accused in true report,
    Bear with her weakness which I think proceeds
    From wayward sickness, and no grounded malice.
    Saw you the King today, my Lord of Stanley?
    But now the Duke of Buckingham and I
    Came from visiting his majesty.
    Queen Elizabeth
    With likelihood of his amendment, lords?
    Madam, good hope, his grace speaks cheerfully.
    500Queen Elizabeth
    God grant him health! Did you confer with him?
    Madam, we did. He desires to make atonement
    Betwixt the Duke of Gloucester and your brothers,
    And betwixt them and my Lord Chamberlain,
    And sent to warn them to his royal presence.
    505Queen Elizabeth
    Would all were well, but that will never be.
    I fear our happiness is at the highest.
    Enter [Richard and Hastings].
    They do me wrong and I will not endure it!
    Who are they that complains unto the King
    510That I forsooth am stern and love them not?
    By holy Paul, they love his grace but lightly
    That fill his ears with such dissentious rumors.
    Because I cannot flatter and speak fair,
    Smile in men's faces, smooth, deceive and cog,
    515Duck with French nods and apish courtesy,
    I must be held a rancorous enemy.
    Cannot a plain man live and think no harm
    But thus his simple truth must be abused
    By silken, sly, insinuating jacks?
    To whom in all this presence speaks your grace?
    To thee that hast nor honesty nor grace!
    When have I injured thee, when done thee wrong?
    Or thee, or thee, or any of your faction?
    A plague upon you all! His royal person,
    525Whom God preserve better than you would wish,
    Cannot be quiet scarce a breathing while
    But you must trouble him with lewd complaints.
    Queen Elizabeth
    Brother of Gloucester, you mistake the matter.
    The King, of his own royal disposition
    530And not provoked by any suitor else,
    Aiming belike at your interior hatred
    Which in your outward actions shows itself
    Against my kindred, brother, and myself,
    Makes him to send that thereby he may gather
    534.1The ground of your ill will and to remove it.
    I cannot tell, the world is grown so bad
    That wrens make pray where eagles dare not perch.
    Since every jack became a gentleman
    There's many a gentle person made a jack.
    Queen Elizabeth
    Come, come, we know your meaning brother Gloucester.
    540You envy my advancement and my friends'.
    God grant we never may have need of you.
    Meantime God grants that we have need of you.
    Our brother is imprisoned by your means,
    Myself disgraced, and the nobility
    545Held in contempt, whilst many fair promotions
    Are daily given to enoble those
    That scarce some two days since were worth a noble.
    Queen Elizabeth
    By him that raised me to this careful height
    From that contented hap which I enjoyed,
    550I never did incense his majesty
    Against the Duke of Clarence, but have been
    An earnest advocate to plead for him.
    My lord, you do me shameful injury
    Falsely to draw me in these vile suspects.
    You may deny that you were not the cause
    Of my Lord Hastings' late imprisonment.
    She may, my lord.
    She may, Lord Rivers, why, who knows not so?
    She may do more, sir, than denying that;
    560She may help you to many fair preferments
    And then deny her aiding hand therein
    And lay those honors on your high deserts.
    What may she not? She may, yea, marry, may she --
    What, marry, may she?
    What marry may she? Marry with a king,
    A bachelor, a handsome stripling too.
    Iwis your grandam had a worser match.
    Queen Elizabeth
    My Lord of Gloucester, I have too long borne
    Your blunt upbraidings and your bitter scoffs.
    570By heaven, I will acquaint his majesty
    With those gross taunts I often have endured.
    I had rather be a country servant maid
    Than a great queen with this condition,
    To be thus taunted, scorned, and baited at.
    Enter Qu[een] Margaret[, unseen by the others].
    575Small joy have I in being England's queen.
    Queen Margaret
    [Aside] And lessened be that small, God I beseech thee;
    Thy honor, state, and seat is due to me.
    What? Threat you me with telling of the King?
    579.1Tell him and spare not. Look, what I have said
    580I will avouch in presence of the King;
    'Tis time to speak, my pains are quite forgot.
    Queen Margaret
    [Aside] Out, devil, 585I remember them too well.
    Thou slewest my husband Henry in the Tower,
    And Edward my poor son at Tewkesbury.
    Ere you were Queen, yea, or your husband King,
    590I was a packhorse in his great affairs,
    A weeder out of his proud adversaries,
    A liberal rewarder of his friends.
    To royalize his blood I spilled mine own. . .
    Queen Margaret[Aside]
    Yea, and much better blood 595than his or thine.
    In all which time you and your husband Grey
    Were factious for the House of Lancaster --
    [To Rivers] And Rivers, so were you. [To Elizabeth] Was not your husband
    In Margaret's battle at St Albans slain?
    600Let me put in your minds, if yours forget,
    What you have been ere now, and what you are;
    Withal what I have been, and what I am.
    Queen Margaret[Aside]
    A murderous villain, and so still thou art.
    Poor Clarence did forsake his father Warwick,
    605Yea, and forswore himself, which Jesu pardon. . .
    Queen Margaret[Aside]
    Which God revenge.
    To fight on Edward's party for the crown,
    And for his meed, poor lord, he is mewed up.
    I would to God my heart were flint like Edward's,
    610Or Edward's soft and pitiful like mine;
    I am too childish, foolish for this world.
    Queen Margaret[Aside]
    Hie thee to hell for shame and leave the world
    Thou cacodemon: there thy kingdom is.
    My Lord of Gloucester, in those busy days,
    615Which here you urge to prove us enemies,
    We followed then our lord, our lawful king;
    So should we you, if you should be our king.
    If I should be? I had rather be a pedlar!
    Far be it from my heart, the thought of it.
    620Queen Elizabeth
    As little joy, my lord, as you suppose
    You should enjoy, were you this country's king,
    As little joy may you suppose in me
    That I enjoy, being the queen thereof.
    Queen Margaret[Aside]
    A little joy enjoys the queen thereof,
    625For I am she, and altogether joyless.
    I can no longer hold me patient:
    [Coming forward.] Hear me you wrangling pirates that fall out
    In sharing that which you have pilled from me:
    Which of you trembles not that looks on me?
    630If not that, I being queen, you bow like subjects,
    Yet that, by you deposed, you quake like rebels.
    [To Richard]O gentle villain, do not turn away.
    Foul wrinkled witch, what mak'st thou in my sight?
    Queen Margaret
    But repetition of what thou hast marred,
    635That will I make, before I let thee go:
    [To Richard] A husband and a son thou owest to me,
    640[To Queen Elizabeth] And thou a kingdom, [To the others] all of you allegiance.
    The sorrow that I have by right is yours,
    And all the pleasures you usurp are mine.
    The curse my noble father laid on thee
    When thou didst crown his warlike brows with paper
    645And with thy scorn drew'st rivers from his eyes --
    And then to dry them gav'st the Duke a clout
    Steeped in the faultless blood of pretty Rutland --
    His curses then from bitterness of soul
    Denounced against thee, are all fallen upon thee,
    650And God, not we, hath plagued thy bloody deed.
    Queen Elizabeth
    So just is God to right the innocent.
    Oh, 'twas the foulest deed to slay that babe,
    And the most merciless that ever was heard of.
    Tyrants themselves wept when it was reported.
    No man but prophesied revenge for it.
    Northumberland, then present, wept to see it.
    Queen Margaret
    What? Were you snarling all before I came,
    Ready to catch each other by the throat,
    And turn you all your hatred now on me?
    660Did York's dread curse prevail so much with heaven
    That Henry's death, my lovely Edward's death,
    Their kingdom's loss, my woeful banishment
    Could all but answer for that peevish brat?
    Can curses pierce the clouds and enter heaven?
    665Why then, give way dull clouds to my quick curses:
    If not by war, by surfeit die your King,
    As ours by murder to make him a King.
    Edward thy son, which now is Prince of Wales,
    For Edward my son, which was Prince of Wales,
    670Die in his youth by like untimely violence.
    Thyself a queen, for me that was a queen,
    Outlive thy glory like my wretched self;
    Long mayst thou live to wail thy children's loss
    And see another, as I see thee now,
    675Decked in thy rights as thou art stalled in mine;
    Long die thy happy days before thy death
    And, after many lengthened hours of grief,
    Die neither mother, wife, nor England's queen;
    Rivers and Dorset, you were standers by --
    680And so wast thou, Lord Hastings -- when my son
    Was stabbed with bloody daggers. God, I pray him
    That none of you may live your natural age,
    But by some unlooked accident cut off.
    Have done thy charm, thou hateful, withered hag.
    685Queen Margaret
    And leave out thee? Stay, dog, for thou shalt hear me:
    If heaven have any grievous plague in store
    Exceeding those that I can wish upon thee,
    Oh, let them keep it till thy sins be ripe
    And then hurl down their indignation
    690On thee, the troubler of the poor world's peace;
    The worm of conscience still begnaw thy soul;
    Thy friends suspect for traitors while thou livest
    And take deep traitors for thy dearest friends;
    No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine
    695Unless it be whilst some tormenting dream
    Affrights thee with a hell of ugly devils,
    Thou elvish-marked, abortive, rooting hog!
    Thou that wast sealed in thy nativity
    The slave of Nature and the son of Hell,
    700Thou slander of thy mother's heavy womb,
    Thou loathèd issue of thy father's loins,
    Thou rag of honor, thou detested --
    Queen Margaret
    705Queen Margaret
    I call thee not.
    Then I cry thee mercy, for I had thought
    That thou hadst called me all these bitter names.
    Queen Margaret
    Why so I did, but looked for no reply.
    Oh, let me make the period to my curse.
    'Tis done by me, and ends in "Margaret".
    Queen Elizabeth
    Thus have you breathed your curse against yourself.
    Queen Margaret
    Poor painted queen, vain flourish of my fortune,
    Why strewest thou sugar on that bottled spider
    Whose deadly web ensnareth thee about?
    715Fool, fool, thou whet'st a knife to kill thyself.
    The time will come that thou shalt wish for me
    To help thee curse that poisonous bunch-backed toad.
    False-boding woman, end thy frantic curse,
    Lest to thy harm thou move our patience.
    720Queen Margaret
    Foul shame upon you, you have all moved mine.
    Were you well served, you would be taught your duty.
    Queen Margaret
    To serve me well, you all should do me duty.
    Teach me to be your queen and you my subjects;
    Oh, serve me well and teach yourselves that duty.
    Dispute not with her, she is lunatic.
    Queen Margaret
    Peace, Master Marquess, you are malapert,
    Your fire-new stamp of honor is scarce current.
    Oh, that your young nobility could judge
    What 'twere to lose it and be miserable;
    730They that stand high have many blasts to shake them,
    And if they fall they dash themselves to pieces.
    Good counsel, marry, learn it, learn it, Marquess.
    It toucheth you, my lord, as much as me.
    Yea, and much more, but I was born so high;
    Our eyrie buildeth in the cedar's top
    And dallies with the wind and scorns the sun.
    Queen Margaret
    And turns the sun to shade, alas, alas.
    Witness my son, now in the shade of death,
    740Whose bright outshining beams thy cloudy wrath
    Hath in eternal darkness folded up;
    Your eyrie buildeth in our eyrie's nest;
    O God that seest it, do not suffer it.
    As it was won with blood, lost be it so.
    Have done, for shame if not for charity.
    Queen Margaret
    Urge neither charity nor shame to me;
    Uncharitably with me have you dealt,
    And shamefully by you my hopes are butchered;
    My charity is outrage, life my shame,
    750And in my shame, still live my sorrow's rage.
    Have done.
    Queen Margaret
    O princely Buckingham, I will kiss thy hand
    In sign of league and amity with thee:
    Now fair befall thee and thy princely House;
    755Thy garments are not spotted with our blood,
    Nor thou within the compass of my curse.
    Nor no one here, for curses never pass
    The lips of those that breathe them in the air.
    Queen Margaret
    I'll not believe but they ascend the sky
    760And there awake God's gentle, sleeping peace.
    [Aside, to Buckingham] O Buckingham, beware of yonder dog;
    Look, when he fawns he bites, and when he bites
    His venom tooth will rankle thee to death;
    Have not to do with him, beware of him,
    765Sin, Death and Hell have set their marks on him,
    And all their ministers attend on him.
    What doth she say, my Lord of Buckingham?
    Nothing that I respect, my gracious lord.
    Queen Margaret
    What, dost thou scorn me 770for my gentle counsel
    And soothe the devil that I warn thee from?
    O but remember this another day
    When he shall split thy very heart with sorrow
    And say poor Margaret was a prophetess:
    775Live each of you the subjects of his hate,
    And he to yours, and all of you to God's.
    My hair doth stand on end to hear her curses.
    And so doth mine; I wonder she's at liberty.
    I cannot blame her, by God's holy mother.
    780She hath had too much wrong, and I repent
    My part thereof that I have done.
    Queen Elizabeth
    I never did her any to my knowledge.
    But you have all the vantage of this wrong.
    I was too hot to do somebody good
    785That is too cold in thinking of it now.
    Marry, as for Clarence, he is well repaid;
    He is franked up to fatting for his pains;
    God pardon them that are the cause of it.
    A virtuous and a Christian-like conclusion
    790To pray for them that have done scathe to us.
    So do I ever, being well advised,
    [Speaks to himself]
    For had I cursed now, I had cursed myself.
    [Enter Catesby.]
    Madam, his majesty doth call for you,
    And for your grace, and you my noble lord.
    Queen Elizabeth
    Catesby, we come. Lords, will you go with us?
    Madam, we will attend your grace.
    Exeunt [all except Richard.]
    I do the wrong, and first began to brawl.
    The secret mischiefs that I set abroach
    I lay unto the grievous charge of others;
    Clarence, whom I indeed have laid in darkness,
    I do beweep to many simple gulls --
    805Namely to Hastings, Stanley, Buckingham --
    And say it is the Queen and her allies
    That stir the King against the Duke my brother.
    Now they believe me, and withal whet me
    To be revenged on Rivers, Vaughan, Grey;
    810But then I sigh, and with a piece of scripture
    Tell them that God bids us do good for evil,
    And thus I clothe my naked villainy
    With old odd ends stolen out of holy writ,
    And seem a saint when most I play the devil --
    But soft, here come my executioners.
    815Enter executioners.
    How now, my hardy, stout-resolvèd mates,
    Are you now going to despatch this deed?
    1 Executioner
    We are my lord, and come to have the warrant
    820That we may be admitted where he is.
    It was well thought upon, I have it here about me.
    [Richard gives the executioner a warrant.]
    When you have done, repair to Crosby Place.
    But sirs, be sudden in the execution,
    Withal obdurate, do not hear him plead,
    825For Clarence is well spoken and perhaps
    May move your hearts to pity if you mark him.
    1 Executioner
    Tush, fear not, my lord, we will not stand to prate;
    Talkers are no good doers; be assured
    We come to use our hands and not our tongues.
    Your eyes drop millstones when fools' eyes drop tears.
    I like you lads, about your business.