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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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    2770Enter Queen Margaret [alone].
    Queen Margaret
    So, now prosperity begins to mellow
    And drop into the rotten mouth of death;
    Here in these confines slyly have I lurked
    To watch the waning of mine adversaries;
    2775A dire induction am I witness to,
    And will to France, hoping the consequence
    Will prove as bitter, black and tragical.
    Withdraw thee, wretched Margaret, who comes here?
    Enter [Queen Elizabeth] and the Duchess of York.
    2780Queen Elizabeth
    Ah, my young princes, ah, my tender babes!
    My unblown flowers, new-appearing sweets,
    If yet your gentle souls fly in the air
    And be not fixed in doom perpetual,
    Hover about me with your airy wings,
    2785And hear your mother's lamentation.
    Queen Margaret
    [Aside] Hover about her, say that right for right
    Hath dimmed your infant morn to aged night.
    Queen Elizabeth
    Wilt thou, O God, fly from such gentle lambs
    And throw them in the entrails of the wolf?
    2795When didst thou sleep when such a deed was done?
    Queen Margaret
    [Aside] When Holy Harry died, and my sweet son.
    Blind sight, dead life, poor mortal living ghost,
    Woe's scene, world's shame, grave's due by life usurped,
    2800Rest thy unrest on England's lawful earth
    Unlawfully made drunk with innocents' blood.
    Queen Elizabeth
    O that thou wouldst as well afford a grave
    As thou canst yield a melancholy seat, [Sitting on the ground]
    Then would I hide my bones, not rest them here.
    2805Oh, who hath any cause to mourn but I!
    So many miseries have crazed my voice
    That my woe-wearied tongue is mute and dumb.
    [Sitting on the ground]
    2790Edward Plantagenet, why art thou dead?
    Queen Margaret
    [Coming forward.] If ancient sorrow be most reverent
    Give mine the benefit of seniory,
    And let my woes frown on the upper hand;
    If sorrow can admit society,
    2809.1Tell over your woes again by viewing mine:
    2810I had an Edward, till a Richard killed him:
    I had a Harry, till a Richard killed him:
    Thou had'st an Edward, till a Richard killed him:
    Thou had'st a Richard, till a Richard killed him.
    I had a Richard too, and thou didst kill him;
    2815I had a Rutland too, thou holp'st to kill him.
    Queen Margaret
    Thou had'st a Clarence too, and Richard killed him:
    From forth the kennel of thy womb hath crept
    A hell-hound that doth hunt us all to death:
    2820That dog, that had his teeth before his eyes
    To worry lambs and lap their gentle bloods:
    That foul defacer of God's handiwork
    2825Thy womb let loose, to chase us to our graves.
    O upright, just, and true-disposing God,
    How do I thank thee that this carnal cur
    Preys on the issue of his mother's body
    And makes her pew-fellow with others' moan!
    Oh, Harry's wife, triumph not in my woes,
    God witness with me, I have wept for thine.
    Queen Margaret
    Bear with me, I am hungry for revenge
    And now I cloy me with beholding it.
    Thy Edward, he is dead, that stabbed my Edward,
    2835Thy other Edward dead, to quit my Edward;
    Young York, he is but boot because both they
    Match not the high perfection of my loss;
    Thy Clarence, he is dead, that killed my Edward,
    And the beholders of this tragic play,
    2840The adulterate Hastings, Rivers, Vaughan, Grey,
    Untimely smothered in their dusky graves.
    Richard yet lives, hell's black intelligencer,
    Only reserved their factor to buy souls
    And send them thither: but at hand, at hand
    2845Ensues his piteous, and unpitied end;
    Earth gapes, hell burns, fiends roar, saints pray
    To have him suddenly conveyed away.
    Cancel his bond of life, dear God I pray,
    That I may live to say, "The dog is dead."
    2850Queen Elizabeth
    Oh, thou didst prophesy the time would come
    That I should wish for thee to help me curse
    That bottled spider, that foul bunch-backed toad.
    Queen Margaret
    I called thee then vain flourish of my fortune,
    I called thee then poor shadow, painted queen,
    2855The presentation of but what I was,
    The flattering index of a direful pageant,
    One heaved a high, to be hurled down below,
    A mother only mocked with two sweet babes,
    A dream of which thou wert, a breath, a bubble,
    A sign of dignity, a garish flag
    2860To be the aim of every dangerous shot,
    A queen in jest, only to fill the scene.
    Where is thy husband now? Where be thy brothers?
    Where are thy children? Wherein dost thou joy?
    2865Who sues to thee and cries, "God save the Queen?"
    Where be the bending peers that flattered thee?
    Where be the thronging troops that followed thee?
    Decline all this, and see what now thou art,
    For happy wife, a most distressèd widow,
    2870For joyful mother, one that wails the name,
    For queen, a very caitiff crowned with care,
    For one being sued to, one that humbly sues,
    2875For one commanding all, obeyed of none,
    For one that scorned at me, now scorned of me;
    Thus hath the course of justice wheeled about
    And left thee but a very prey to time,
    Having no more but thought of what thou wert
    To torture thee the more, being what thou art.
    2880Thou didst usurp my place, and dost thou not
    Usurp the just proportion of my sorrow?
    Now thy proud neck bears half my burdened yoke,
    From which, even here, I slip my weary neck
    And leave the burden of it all on thee.
    2885Farewell, York's wife and queen of sad mischance,
    These English woes will make me smile in France.
    Queen Elizabeth
    Oh, thou well skilled in curses, stay a while
    And teach me how to curse mine enemies.
    Queen Margaret
    Forbear to sleep the nights, and fast the days,
    2890Compare dead happiness with living woe,
    Think that thy babes were fairer than they were,
    And he that slew them fouler than he is;
    Bett'ring thy loss makes the bad causer worse,
    Revolving this will teach thee how to curse.
    2895Queen Elizabeth
    My words are dull, oh, quicken them with thine.
    Queen Margaret
    Thy woes will make them sharp, and pierce like mine.
    Exit Mar[garet].
    Why should calamity be full of words?
    Queen Elizabeth
    Windy attorneys to your client woes
    2900Airy succeeders of intestate joys,
    Poor breathing orators of miseries,
    Let them have scope; though what they do impart
    Help not at all, yet do they ease the heart.
    If so, then be not tongue-tied, go with me,
    2905And in the breath of bitter words let's smother
    My damnèd son, which thy two sweet sons smothered --
    [Offstage drumming is heard.]
    I hear his drum, be copious in exclaims.
    Enter K[ing] Richard [with attendants, including Catesby,] marching with drums and trumpets.
    King Richard
    Who intercepts my expedition?
    A she, that might have intercepted thee
    By strangling thee in her accursèd womb
    From all the slaughters, wretch, that thou hast done.
    Queen Elizabeth
    Hid'st thou that forehead with a golden crown
    Where should be graven, if that right were right,
    2915The slaughter of the Prince that owned that Crown,
    And the dire death of my two sons and brothers;
    Tell me, thou villain slave, where are my children?
    Thou toad, thou toad, where is thy brother Clarence?
    2920And little Ned Plantagenet, his son?
    Queen Elizabeth
    Where is kind Hastings, Rivers, Vaughan, Gray?
    King Richard
    A flourish, trumpets! strike alarum, drums!
    Let not the heavens hear these tell-tale women
    2925Rail on the Lord's anointed. Strike, I say!
    The trumpets [and drums sound].
    Either be patient and entreat me fair,
    Or with the clamorous report of war
    Thus will I drown your exclamations.
    Art thou my son?
    King Richard
    Aye, I thank God, my father and yourself.
    Then patiently hear my impatience.
    King Richard
    Madam, I have a touch of your condition,
    Which cannot brook the accent of reproof.
    I will be mild and gentle in my speech.
    King Richard
    And brief, good mother, for I am in haste.
    Art thou so hasty? I have stayed for thee,
    2940God knows, in anguish, pain and agony.
    King Richard
    And came I not at last to comfort you?
    No, by the holy rood, thou know'st it well:
    Thou cam'st on earth to make the earth my hell;
    A grievous burden was thy birth to me,
    2945Tetchy and wayward was thy infancy,
    Thy school-days frightful, desperate, wild and furious,
    Thy prime of manhood daring, bold and venturous,
    Thy age confirmed, proud, subtle, bloody, treacherous;
    2950What comfortable hour canst thou name
    That ever graced me in thy company?
    King Richard
    Faith none but Humphrey hour, that called your grace
    To breakfast once, forth of my company.
    2955If I be so disgracious in your sight,
    Let me march on, and not offend your grace.
    Oh hear me speak, for I shall never see thee more.
    King Richard
    Come, come, you are too bitter.
    Either thou wilt die by God's just ordinance
    Ere from this war thou turn a conqueror,
    2965Or I with grief and extreme age shall perish
    And never look upon thy face again.
    Therefore take with thee my most heavy curse
    Which in the day of battle tire thee more
    Than all the complete armor that thou wear'st;
    2970My prayers on the adverse party fight,
    And there the little souls of Edward's children
    Whisper the spirits of thine enemies
    And promise them success and victory.
    Bloody thou art, bloody will be thy end,
    2975Shame serves thy life, and doth thy death attend.
    Queen Elizabeth
    Though far more cause, yet much less spirit to curse
    Abides in me, I say "Amen" to all.
    King Richard
    Stay, madam, I must speak a word with you.
    Queen Elizabeth
    I have no more sons of the royal blood
    2980For thee to murder. For my daughters, Richard,
    They shall be praying nuns, not weeping queens,
    And therefore level not to hit their lives.
    King Richard
    You have a daughter called Elizabeth,
    Virtuous and fair, royal and gracious.
    2985Queen Elizabeth
    And must she die for this? Oh, let her live
    And I'll corrupt her manners, stain her beauty,
    Slander myself as false to Edward's bed,
    Throw over her the veil of infamy.
    So she may live unscarred from bleeding slaughter
    2990I will confess she was not Edward's daughter.
    King Richard
    Wrong not her birth, she is of royal blood.
    Queen Elizabeth
    To save her life, I'll say she is not so.
    King Richard
    Her life is only safest in her birth.
    Queen Elizabeth
    And only in that safety died her brothers.
    2995King Richard
    Lo, at their births good stars were opposite.
    Queen Elizabeth
    No, to their lives bad friends were contrary.
    King Richard
    All unavoided is the doom of destiny.
    Queen Elizabeth
    True, when avoided grace makes destiny;
    My babes were destined to a fairer death
    3000If grace had blessed thee with a fairer life.
    3015King Richard
    Madam, so thrive I in my dangerous attempt of hostile arms,
    As I intend more good to you and yours
    Than ever you or yours were by me wronged.
    Queen Elizabeth
    What good is covered with the face of heaven
    3020To be discovered that can do me good?
    King Richard
    The advancement of your children, mighty lady.
    Queen Elizabeth
    Up to some scaffold, there to lose their heads.
    King Richard
    No, to the dignity and height of honor,
    The high imperial tipe of this earth's glory.
    3025Queen Elizabeth
    Flatter my sorrows with report of it:
    Tell me, what state, what dignity, what honor
    Canst thou demise to any child of mine?
    King Richard
    Even all I have, yea, and myself and all
    Will I withal endow a child of thine,
    3030So in the Lethe of thy angry soul
    Thou drown the sad remembrance of those wrongs
    Which thou supposest I have done to thee.
    Queen Elizabeth
    Be brief, lest that the process of thy kindness
    Last longer telling than thy kindness do.
    3035King Richard
    Then know that from my soul I love thy daughter.
    Queen Elizabeth
    My daughter's mother thinks it with her soul.
    King Richard
    What do you think?
    Queen Elizabeth
    That thou dost love my daughter from thy soul;
    3040So from thy soul's love didst thou love her brothers,
    And from my heart's love I do thank thee for it.
    King Richard
    Be not so hasty to confound my meaning;
    I mean that with my soul I love thy daughter
    And mean to make her Queen of England.
    3045Queen Elizabeth
    Say then, who dost thou mean shall be her King?
    King Richard
    Even he that makes her Queen; who should be else?
    Queen Elizabeth
    What, thou?
    King Richard
    Aye, even I; what think you of it, madam?
    3050Queen Elizabeth
    How canst thou woo her?
    King Richard
    That would I learn of you,
    As one that are best acquainted with her humor.
    Queen Elizabeth
    And wilt thou learn of me?
    King Richard
    Madam, with all my heart.
    3055Queen Elizabeth
    Send to her, by the man that slew her brothers,
    A pair of bleeding hearts; thereon engrave
    "Edward" and "York"; then haply she will weep.
    Therefore present to her as sometimes Margaret
    Did to thy father, a handkercher steeped in Rutland's blood
    And bid her dry her weeping eyes therewith;
    If this inducement force her not to love,
    Send her a story of thy noble acts:
    3065Tell her thou mad'st away her uncle Clarence,
    Her uncle Rivers, yea, and for her sake
    Mad'st quick conveyance with her good aunt Anne.
    King Richard
    Come, come, you mock me, this is not the way
    To win your daughter.
    3070Queen Elizabeth
    There is no other way
    Unless thou couldst put on some other shape
    And not be Richard that hath done all this.
    King Richard
    Infer fair England's peace by this alliance.
    Queen Elizabeth
    Which she shall purchase with still-lasting war.
    3130King Richard
    Say that the King, which may command, entreats.
    Queen Elizabeth
    That, at her hands, which the King's King forbids.
    King Richard
    Say she shall be a high and mighty Queen.
    Queen Elizabeth
    To wail the title, as her mother doth.
    King Richard
    Say I will love her everlastingly.
    3135Queen Elizabeth
    But how long shall that title, "ever", last?
    King Richard
    Sweetly in force unto her fair life's end.
    Queen Elizabeth
    But how long fairly shall her sweet life last?
    King Richard
    So long as heaven and nature lengthens it.
    Queen Elizabeth
    So long as hell and Richard likes of it.
    3140King Richard
    Say I, her sovereign, am her subject love.
    Queen Elizabeth
    But she, your subject, loathes such sovereignty.
    King Richard
    Be eloquent in my behalf to her.
    Queen Elizabeth
    An honest tale speeds best being plainly told.
    King Richard
    Then in plain terms tell her my loving tale.
    3145Queen Elizabeth
    Plain and not honest is too harsh a style.
    King Richard
    Madam, your reasons are too shallow and too quick.
    Queen Elizabeth
    Oh no, my reasons are too deep and dead.
    Too deep and dead, poor infants, in their grave.
    3150King Richard
    Harp not on that string, madam; that is past.
    Queen Elizabeth
    Harp on it still shall I, till heartstrings break.
    King Richard
    Now by my George, my Garter and my crown --
    Queen Elizabeth
    Profaned, dishonored, and the third usurped.
    King Richard
    I swear --
    Queen Elizabeth
    By nothing, for this is no oath.
    3155The George, profaned, hath lost his holy honor,
    The Garter, blemished, pawned his knightly virtue,
    The crown, usurped, disgraced his kingly dignity.
    If something thou wilt swear, to be believed
    Swear then by something that thou hast not wronged.
    King Richard
    Now by the world --
    Queen Elizabeth
    'Tis full of thy foul wrongs.
    King Richard
    My father's death --
    3165Queen Elizabeth
    Thy life hath that dishonored.
    3160King Richard
    Then by myself --
    Queen Elizabeth
    Thyself, thyself misusest.
    King Richard
    Why then, by God --
    Queen Elizabeth
    God's wrong is most of all:
    If thou had'st feared to break an oath by him,
    The unity the King thy brother made
    3170Had not been broken, nor my brother slain.
    If thou had'st feared to break an oath by him,
    The imperial metal circling now thy brow
    Had graced the tender temples of my child,
    And both the Princes had been breathing here;
    3175Which now, two tender play-fellows for dust,
    Thy broken faith hath made a prey for worms.
    King Richard
    By the time to come --
    Queen Elizabeth
    That thou hast wronged in time o'er-past,
    3180For I myself have many tears to wash
    Hereafter time, for time past, wronged by thee.
    The children live whose parents thou hast slaughtered,
    Ungoverned youth, to wail it in their age;
    The parents live whose children thou hast butchered,
    3185Old withered plants, to wail it in their age.
    Swear not by time to come, for that thou hast
    Misused, ere used, by time misused o're-past.
    King Richard
    As I intend to prosper and repent,
    So thrive I in my dangerous attempt
    3190Of hostile arms; myself myself confound,
    Day yield me not thy light, nor night thy rest,
    Be opposite all planets of good luck
    To my proceedings if with pure heart's love,
    3195Immaculate devotion, holy thoughts
    I tender not thy beauteous, princely daughter;
    In her consists my happiness and thine.
    Without her, follows to this land, and me,
    To thee, herself, and many a Christian soul
    3200Sad desolation, ruin, and decay.
    It cannot be avoided but by this;
    It will not be avoided but by this.
    Therefore, good mother -- I must call you so --
    Be the attorney of my love to her:
    3205Plead what I will be, not what I have been;
    Not my deserts, but what I will deserve;
    Urge the necessity and state of times,
    And be not peevish, fond in great designs.
    Queen Elizabeth
    Shall I be tempted of the devil thus?
    3210King Richard
    Aye, if the devil tempt thee to do good.
    Queen Elizabeth
    Shall I forget myself, to be myself?
    King Richard
    Aye, if your self's remembrance wrong yourself.
    Queen Elizabeth
    But thou didst kill my children.
    King Richard
    But in your daughter's womb I bury them
    3215Where, in that nest of spicery, they shall breed
    Selves of themselves to your recomforture.
    Queen Elizabeth
    Shall I go win my daughter to thy will?
    King Richard
    And be a happy mother by the deed.
    Queen Elizabeth
    I go, write to me very shortly.
    King Richard
    Bear her my true love's kiss,
    [Richard kisses Elizabeth.]
    Exit [Queen Elizabeth].
    Relenting fool, and shallow, changing woman.
    Enter Rat[cliffe].
    My gracious sovereign, on the western coast
    Rideth a puissant navy. To the shore
    Throng many doubtful, hollow-hearted friends
    Unarmed, and unresolved to beat them back.
    'Tis thought that Richmond is their admiral,
    3230And there they hull, expecting but the aid
    Of Buckingham to welcome them ashore.
    King Richard
    Some light-foot friend, post to the Duke of Norfolk.
    Ratcliffe thyself, or Catesby, where is he?
    Here my lord.
    3235King Richard
    Fly to the Duke -- [To Ratcliffe] Post thou to Salisbury;
    When thou com'st there -- [To Catesby] Dull, unmindful villain,
    Why standst thou still and goest not to the Duke?
    First, mighty sovereign, let me know your mind,
    What from your grace I shall deliver him.
    King Richard
    Oh, true, good Catesby, bid him levy straight
    The greatest strength and power he can make,
    And meet me presently at Salisbury.
    3245[Exit Catesby.]
    What is it your highness' pleasure I shall do at Salisbury?
    King Richard
    Why? What wouldst thou do there before I go?
    Your highness told me I should post before.
    King Richard
    My mind is changed, sir, my mind is changed.
    How now, what news with you?
    Enter Stanley.
    None, good my lord, to please you with the hearing,
    3255Nor none so bad but it may well be told.
    King Richard
    Hoyday, a riddle, neither good nor bad:
    Why dost thou run so many mile about
    When thou mayst tell thy tale a nearer way.
    Once more, what news?
    Richmond is on the seas.
    King Richard
    There let him sink, and be the seas on him!
    White livered runnagate, what doth he there?
    I know not mighty sovereign, but by guess.
    King Richard
    Well sir, as you guess, as you guess.
    Stirred up by Dorset, Buckingham and Ely
    He makes for England, here to claim the crown.
    King Richard
    Is the chair empty? Is the sword unswayed?
    Is the King dead? The Empire unpossessed?
    What heir of York is there alive but we?
    3270And who is England's king but great York's heir?
    Then tell me, what doth he upon the sea?
    Unless for that, my liege, I cannot guess.
    King Richard
    Unless for that he comes to be your liege
    You cannot guess wherefore the Welshman comes.
    3275Thou wilt revolt and fly to him, I fear.
    No, mighty liege, therefore mistrust me not.
    King Richard
    Where is thy power then to beat him back?
    Where are thy tenants and thy followers?
    Are they not now upon the western shore
    3280Safe-conducting the rebels from their ships?
    No, my good lord, my friends are in the north.
    King Richard
    Cold friends to Richard; what do they in the north
    When they should serve their sovereign in the west?
    They have not been commanded, mighty sovereign.
    Please it your majesty to give me leave,
    I'll muster up my friends and meet your grace
    Where and what time your majesty shall please.
    King Richard
    Aye, aye, thou wouldest be gone, to join with Richmond;
    3290I will not trust you, sir.
    Most mighty sovereign,
    You have no cause to hold my friendship doubtful;
    I never was nor never will be false.
    King Richard
    Well, go muster men, but hear you, leave behind
    3295Your son, George Stanley; look your faith be firm
    Or else his head's assurance is but frail.
    So deal with him as I prove true to you.
    Enter a messenger.
    33001 Messenger
    My gracious sovereign, now in Devonshire
    As I by friends am well advertisèd,
    Sir William Courtney and the haughty prelate
    Bishop of Exeter, his brother there,
    With many more confederates are in arms.
    3305Enter another messenger.
    2 Messenger
    My liege, in Kent the Guilfords are in arms
    And every hour more competitors
    Flock to their aid, and still their power increaseth.
    Enter another messenger.
    33103 Messenger
    My lord, the army of the Duke of Buckingham --
    King Richard
    Out on you, owls, nothing but songs of death?
    [He strikes him.]
    Take that! until thou bring me better news.
    3313.13 Messenger
    Your grace mistakes, the news I bring is good:
    My news 3315is that by sudden flood and fall of water
    The Duke of Buckingham's army is dispersed and scattered,
    And he himself fled, no man knows whither.
    King Richard
    Oh, I cry you mercy, I did mistake.
    3320Ratcliffe, reward him for the blow I gave him.
    [Ratcliffe rewards the messenger.]
    Hath any well-advisèd friend given out
    Rewards for him that brings in Buckingham?
    3 Messenger
    Such proclamation hath been made, my liege.
    Enter another messenger.
    33254 Messenger
    Sir Thomas Lovell and Lord Marquess Dorset,
    'Tis said, my liege, are up in arms;
    Yet this good comfort bring I to your grace,
    The Breton navy is dispersed. Richmond in Dorsetshire
    Sent out a boat 3330to ask them on the shore
    If they were his assistants, yea or no:
    Who answered him they came from Buckingham
    Upon his party. He, mistrusting them,
    Hoist sail and made away for Brittany.
    3335King Richard
    March on, march on, since we are up in arms,
    If not to fight with foreign enemies,
    Yet to beat down these rebels here at home.
    Enter Catesby.
    My liege, the Duke of Buckingham is taken.
    3340That's the best news; that the Earl of Richmond
    Is with a mighty power landed at Milford
    Is colder tidings, yet they must be told.
    King Richard
    Away towards Salisbury! While we reason here
    A royal battle might be won and lost.
    3345Someone take order Buckingham be brought
    To Salisbury; the rest march on with me.