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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    Not Peer Reviewed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] at one door, Buckingham at another.
    How now, my lord, what say the citizens?
    Now by the holy mother of our Lord,
    The citizens are mum, and speak not a word.
    Touched you the bastardy of Edward's children?
    I did, with the insatiate greediness of his desires,
    His tyranny for trifles, his own bastardy,
    As being got, your father then in France;
    2225Withal I did infer your lineaments,
    Being the right idea of your father
    Both in your form and nobleness of mind;
    Laid open all your victories in Scotland,
    Your discipline in war, wisdom in peace,
    2230Your bounty, virtue, fair humility;
    Indeed left nothing fitting for the purpose
    Untouched, or slightly handled in discourse.
    And when mine oratory grew to an end
    I bid them that did love their country's good
    2235Cry, "God save Richard, England's royal King!"
    Ah, and did they so?
    No, so God help me,
    But like dumb statues or breathing stones
    Gazed each on other and looked deadly pale,
    2240Which, when I saw, I reprehended them,
    And asked the Mayor what meant this wilful silence.
    His answer was, the people were not wont
    To be spoke to but by the Recorder.
    Then he was urged to tell my tale again.
    2245"Thus saith the Duke, thus hath the Duke inferred,"
    But nothing spake in warrant from himself.
    When he had done, some followers of mine own
    At the lower end of the hall hurled up their caps
    And some ten voices cried, "God save King Richard."
    "Thanks loving citizens and friends," quoth I.
    "This general applause and loving shout
    Argues your wisdoms and your love to Richard,"
    And so broke off and came away.
    What tongueless blocks were they, would they not speak?
    No, by my troth, my lord.
    Will not the Mayor then and his brethren come?
    The Mayor is here at hand, intend some fear,
    Be not spoken withal but with mighty suit,
    2260And look you get a prayer book in your hand,
    And stand betwixt two churchmen, good my lord,
    For on that ground I'll build a holy descant.
    Be not easily won to our request,
    Play the maid's part: say no, but take it.
    Fear not me, if thou canst plead as well for them
    As I can say nay to thee for myself,
    No doubt we'll bring it to a happy issue.
    You shall see what I can do, get you up to the leads.
    Exit [Richard.]
    [Enter the Mayor and citizens].
    2270Now my Lord Mayor, I dance attendance here.
    I think the Duke will not be spoke withal.
    Enter Catesby.
    Here comes his servant. How now, Catesby, what says he?
    My lord, he doth entreat your grace
    To visit him tomorrow or next day.
    He is within with two right reverend fathers
    Divinely bent to meditation
    And in no worldly suit would he be moved
    2280To draw him from his holy exercise.
    Return, good Catesby, to thy lord again,
    Tell him myself, the Mayor and citizens
    In deep designs and matters of great moment
    No less importing than our general good
    2285Are come to have some conference with his grace.
    I'll tell him what you say, my lord.
    Aha, my lord, this Prince is not an Edward;
    He is not lulling on a lewd day bed
    But on his knees at meditation;
    2290Not dallying with a brace of courtesans
    But meditating with two deep divines;
    Not sleeping to engross his idle body
    But praying to enrich his watchful soul.
    Happy were England would this gracious Prince
    2295Take on himself the sovereignty thereon,
    But sure, I fear, we shall never win him to it.
    Marry, God forbid his grace should say us nay.
    I fear he will -- How now Catesby,
    2300Enter Cates[by].
    What says your lord?
    My lord, he wonders to what end you have assembled
    Such troops of citizens to speak with him,
    His grace not being warned thereof before.
    2305My lord, he fears you mean no good to him.
    Sorry I am my noble cousin should
    Suspect me that I mean no good to him.
    By heaven I come in perfect love to him,
    And so once more return and tell his grace:
    Exit Catesby.
    2310[To the Mayor.] When holy and devout religious men
    Are at their beads, 'tis hard to draw them thence,
    So sweet is zealous contemplation.
    Enter Rich[ard] with two bishops, alo[f]t.
    See where he stands between two clergy2315men.
    Two props of virtue for a Christian prince
    To stay him from the fall of vanity.
    2320Famous Plantagenet, most gracious Prince,
    Lend favorable ears to our request
    And pardon us the interruption
    Of thy devotion and right Christian zeal.
    [Re-enter Catesby.]
    My lord, there needs no such apology.
    2325I rather do beseech you pardon me
    Who, earnest in the service of my God,
    Neglect the visitation of my friends.
    But leaving this, what is your grace's pleasure?
    Even that I hope which pleaseth God above
    2330And all good men of this ungoverned isle.
    I do suspect I have done some offense
    That seems disgracious in the city's eyes
    And that you come to reprehend my ignorance.
    You have, my lord, 2335would it please your grace
    At our entreaties to amend that fault.
    Else wherefore breathe I in a Christian land?
    Then know it is your fault that you resign
    The supreme seat, the throne majestical,
    2340The sceptered office of your ancestors,
    The lineal glory of your royal House
    To the corruption of a blemished stock,
    Whilst in the mildness of your sleepy thoughts,
    2345Which here we waken to our country's good,
    This noble isle doth want her proper limbs,
    Her face defaced with scars of infamy,
    And almost shouldered in the swallowing gulf
    2350Of blind forgetfulness and dark oblivion,
    Which to recure, we heartily solicit
    Your gracious self to take on you the sovereignty thereof,
    Not as protector, steward, substitute,
    2355Or lowly factor for another's gain,
    But as successively from blood to blood,
    Your right of birth, your empery, your own.
    For this, consorted with the citizens,
    Your very worshipful and loving friends,
    2360And by their vehement instigation,
    In this just suit come I to move your grace.
    I know not, whether to depart in silence
    Or bitterly to speak in your reproof
    Best fitteth my degree or your condition.
    2375Your love deserves my thanks, but my desert
    Unmeritable shuns your high request.
    First, if all obstacles were cut away,
    And that my path were even to the crown
    As my ripe revenue and due by birth,
    2380Yet so much is my poverty of spirit,
    So mighty and so many my defects,
    As I had rather hide me from my greatness,
    Being a bark to brook no mighty sea,
    Than in my greatness covet to be hid,
    2385And in the vapor of my glory smothered:
    But God be thankèd there's no need of me,
    And much I need to help you if need were;
    The royal tree hath left us royal fruit
    Which, mellowed by the stealing hours of time,
    2390Will well become the seat of majesty
    And make, no doubt, us happy by his reign;
    On him I lay what you would lay on me:
    The right and fortune of his happy stars,
    Which God defend that I should wring from him.
    My lord, this argues conscience in your grace,
    But the respects thereof are nice and trivial,
    All circumstances well considerèd:
    You say that Edward is your brother's son;
    So say we too, but not by Edward's wife,
    2400For first he was contract to Lady Lucy --
    Your mother lives a witness to that vow --
    And afterward by substitute betrothed
    To Bona, sister to the King of France.
    These both put by, a poor petitioner,
    2405A care-crazed mother of a many children,
    A beauty-waning and distressèd widow,
    Even in the afternoon of her best days
    Made prise and purchase of his lustful eye,
    Seduced the pitch and height of all his thoughts
    2410To base declension and loathed bigamy:
    By her in his unlawful bed he got
    This Edward, whom our manners term the Prince.
    More bitterly could I expostulate,
    Save that for reverence to some alive
    2415I give a sparing limit to my tongue.
    Then good my lord, take to your royal self
    This proffered benefit of dignity,
    If not to bless us and the land withal,
    Yet to draw out your royal stock
    2420From the corruption of abusing time
    Unto a lineal, true-derivèd course.
    Do, good my lord, your citizens entreat you.
    Oh, make them joyful, grant their lawful suit.
    Alas, why would you heap these cares on me?
    I am unfit for state and dignity;
    I do beseech you take it not amiss,
    I cannot nor I will not yield to you.
    If you refuse it, as in love and zeal
    2430Loath to depose the child, your brother's son,
    As well we know your tenderness of heart
    And gentle, kind, effeminate remorse,
    Which we have noted in you, to your kin
    And equally indeed to all estates,
    2435Yet whether you accept our suit or no,
    Your brother's son shall never reign our king
    But we will plant some other in the throne
    To the disgrace and downfall of your House,
    And in this resolution here we leave you.
    2440Come citizens. Zounds! I'll entreat no more.[They start to leave.]
    Oh, do not swear, my Lord of Buckingham.
    Call them again, my lord, and accept their suit.
    Another citizen
    Do, good my lord, lest all the land do rue it.
    Would you enforce me to a world of care?
    Well, call them again,
    [Exit Catesby.]
    I am not made of stones
    2445But penetrable to your kind entreats,
    Albeit against my conscience and my soul.
    [Re-enter Buckingham, Mayor, Catesby and citizens.]
    Cousin of Buckingham, and you sage, grave men,
    Since you will buckle fortune on my back
    2450To bear her burden whether I will or no,
    I must have patience to endure the load,
    But if black scandal or foul-faced reproach
    Attend the sequel of your imposition,
    Your mere enforcement shall acquittance me
    2455From all the impure blots and stains thereof,
    For God he knows, and you may partly see,
    How far I am from the desire thereof.
    God bless your grace, we see it, and will say it.
    In saying so, you shall but say the truth.
    Then I salute you with this kingly title:
    Long live Richard, England's royal King!
    Tomorrow will it please you to be crowned?
    Even when you will, since you will have it so.
    Tomorrow then we will attend your grace.
    Come, let us to our holy task again --
    Farewell good cousin, farewell gentle friends.